Archive for the ‘Advertising’ Category

Everything old is new – blogging's big

Saturday, July 25th, 2009
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - OCTOBER 30:  Actress Meg R...
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Journalists have certainly become enlightened since I first started writing about blogging in 2003. Many of them now write blogs of their own–some I know have begun making their living via the blog format. Still the post below from 2003 still makes some good points.

Blogging: tip of the iceberg or tail of the dog?
Originally posted December, 2003

The Quill, a quasi-scholarly publication of the Society of Professional Journalists, has been arriving in my mailbox for the last few months because I became a member of that well-respected group this year (2003). I glance through it, but much of their content is related to traditional journalistic discussions rather than to the concerns of business. Some business writers have been known sometimes to find that approach a tiny bit self-important.

Imagine my surprise, then, to see two articles in this month’s edition (“Hard News versus Narrative”) that deal with the struggle of a few veteran journalists to convince the denizens of their world that they ought to be telling stories instead of rigidly following the 5-W format (who, what, where, when, why) for their reporting.

One high-profile journalist, Tom Hallman, Jr., laments his inability to keep up with requests from young journalists about how to tell stories in warm, personal terms. Call me crazy, but I see this as the tail following the dog…the dog being the trend that has spawned the phenomenon of blogging–the need to take a simple, honest, individual-voice approach to writing–even for “news” stories.

The point is–you want people to read what you write! And because the competition for people’s attention (just like for your business) has multiplied exponentially with every improvement in the Internet, you just aren’t as likely to get what you want with old-fashioned marketing approaches.

People do not have time to read pre-digested, uninspired, impersonal corporate-speak. Write as if you were telling your friend about whatever you are frustrated, angry or happy about.

People want to read writing that’s from the heart. How close to your heart is your business? So, write!

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4 ways a white paper helps you sell

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

What’s a white paper–and why should you care? Good question. You’re out there trying to run your business, and in the current economic climate that may be a more-than-usually challenging job. So who has time to develop another marketing tool?

There are several reasons smart companies are making the time. But first, let’s define our terms.

What’s a white paper?
The term white paper means a 6 to 12-page (can be 50 pages or more) professional write-up that explains objectively a possible solution to one of an executive’s specific pressing business problems. It can also be called a special report or other name. Here’s how it might work:

  • If you’re a software company executive whose prospects need to track orders or coordinate resources, you could offer a white paper explaining how a new software solution has been proven to reduce lost orders and save money by optimizing trucks, pallets, drivers, and other resources.
  • If you’re a private equity investment executive, you might offer a white paper that details steps to help people understand how to tell a smart investment from a poor one.
  • If you’re a staffing company executive, you could educate your prospects about the complexities of making smart hires, explaining aspects of a familiar process that are not well understood by most people.

In other words, you don’t give your process or your tools away. Instead, you explain what the needs are, talk about where trends are heading, and hint at solutions (that you can, of course, provide).

Why should you care?
White papers offer a powerful but subtle way to position your company as the expert in a particular arena. A prospect who has engaged enough to ask for your information is a prospect who is genuinely concerned about the problem you’re addressing and who already feels a certain level of trust with you.

  1. White papers generate interest. They offer education and information that addresses a particularly challenging point in the reader’s business situation.
  2. White papers are no-pressure. The format says we’re-sharing-useful-material-here-not trying to sell you.
  3. White papers have credibility. Information is backed up by third-party, objective research. You’re not making claims in a vacuum. You offer proven sources as the basis of your assertions.
  4. White papers build relationships. They offer an invaluable opportunity to speak in your company’s True Voice and show customers you care about their problems.

But when do you sell?
Of course, you need to make sure you follow up with those who download or receive your white paper. That’s part of the marketing that helps make it effective. But if you turn the initial follow-up into a hard-sell situation, you risk turning the prospect off–and ensuring they will be unlikely to trust your future offers of information.

However, if the customer is ready to buy when you follow up, you’re in a strong position to make the sale right then. And if the customer is only in the early stages of research, you’ve initiated a relationship in which you’ll likely be welcome to stay in touch with occasional value-add offerings. That’s how you make sure yours is the company that comes to mind when the customer has more questions or is ready to move forward.

With your white paper you’re reinforcing your expertise and getting your company name and logo in front of the customer in a no-pressure, trusting, learning situation–a great place to be in today’s high-speed, short-attention-span, what’s-next? marketing environment.


P.S. If you’d like to learn how a white paper/special report might be a good tool for your company–and get a coupon for $50–call or email me. Chicago 773.292.3294. Cleveland 216.472.8502.

* Good on your next project of $150 or more (more…)

If Microsoft buys Yahoo…crystal ball says

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

What does it mean that Microsoft is trying to buy Yahoo? Well, let’s see. I envision it as kind of like Cable vs. DSL–”giant-with-unlimited-funds-and-access-to-every-computer” fighting the other “giant-with-unlimited-funds-and-access-to-every-computer.” 

Here’s a really good analysis analysis of the potential consequences by a non-insider-but-sure-could-be. What Does The Yahoo/Microsoft Debate Mean For The Rest Of Us?

Will our screens begin having a run of ad spots every fourth time we turn them on? Will they feature the browser equivalent of turtles entertaining us with barely-amusing anecdotes about why some small difference between the two of them is critical to our happiness and success? I hope they hire better advertising agencies than Comcast…

Ad revenues dropping like rocks for newspapers

Monday, September 10th, 2007

You knew that newspapers were losing a lot of traction because of the Internet, right? Well, the “news” is worse than expected, according to an article in AdWeek. And these changes to advertising revenue are expected to be permanent, not passing. A sample of recent dives:

  • Gannett Co. where USA Today ad pages fell 17 percent compared to last year, and real estate classifieds at its community papers plunged 20 percent.
  • Tribune Co., where help-wanted classified tumbled 19 percent, and real estate shrank by 24 percent. (Fitch has Tribune on a “Ratings Watch Negative,” anticipating a further downgrading of its credit.)
  • The McClatchy Co., where real estate collapsed by 26 percent, and automotive plunged 20 percent.
  • Dow Jones & Co., where ad volume fell 20 percent on a 75 percent tumble in technology-related ads.

This is one business trend you don’t want to ignore. Another is the business blog–it’s not a passing fancy, folks. Give me a call at 773.292.3294 if you have questions about how to get started.

What the heck is Web 2.0 and why should you care?

Tuesday, June 5th, 2007

Every other headline these days features “Web 2.0″ and many of us just let our eyes glaze over.  Here’s another software thing I’m supposed to “get” (we might think) but I don’t have time!

Just think of it this way: when you see Web 2.0 they’re talking about helping your prospects and customers interact with you online. Which means blogs, wikis and stuff like that. Everyone reading this knows what a blog is. Many people read blogs but choose not to leave comments (interact)–professional/corporate blogs are generally more about giving information in a personal way. You’ll find that most blogs that get a lot of comments are one of two kinds: 1) a personal blog that plays on controversy to get comments from people who like to argue, or b) the blog of a very high-profile person where commenters can touch the fame and glory of that person by appearing on their blog.

If you are an executive with a famous company, your blog may get lots of comments. That’s great. But don’t be worried if your blog doesn’t get comments. As long as you are providing value to your readers–information, entertainment, encouragement, or whatever–your blog is being read and is building credibility and trust in your company. You can be sure of that.

Wikis are another form of interactivity. In this case, users are the co-creators of documents that all hold to be of interest. Say, for example, you want to invite your customers to help you shape the next product you will invest in producing. How valuable do you think it is to get direct input from them on exactly the features they like and the things they don’t like? Talk about cheap and on-target research!

But Web 2.0 is also about giving you better access to information/data/reports. When you collect subscribers to your blog, you’re building a database of names of people who REALLY CARE about what you do and what you say. That’s the kind of market research businesses have traditionally paid huge sums for. And you’re collecting it simply and painlessly over time. There is no more valuable marketing resource in the world than a database of people who have volunteered to hear more about your products and services.

So if you’re still on the fence about blogging for your business, get off. It’s a trend of the future for direct marketing.–both for large and small businesses. Questions? Call me. 773.292.3294 or 216.472.8502.