Posted on August 28th, 2009 Comments
The topics that attracted my attention this week range from quitting, abusing friends and family and agonizing over how to best apologize. Could be time for professional counseling.
I’m clearly being a little tongue-in-cheek. It’s how I stave off the creeping blackness of existential angst.
Tom Martin, however, has an alternative cure. For anyone who is sick of putting up the good fight, or who wonders when their day in the sun will come, he offers the following gem:
That’s why God (and Tom, as it happens) gave us Eminem evidently. But if Eminem doesn’t do it for you, then check the comments under Tom’s post instead.
Marketing consultant and barroom wingman, Greg Donahue, takes a moment this week to remember the value of family and friends – especially when you need to break out of corporate group think and test the efficacy of your latest ad or direct mail piece on real people. I know that’s what my mom is for.
And, not to appear sycophantic, but I’m recommending another post by Peter Bowerman, of Well-Fed Writer fame. This time he’s asking, “What’s the right way to apologize when you screw up?”
I personally think it would have been funnier to ask “What’s the wrong way to apologize?” But that’s why Peter makes the big bucks…
Finally, talking about what’s funny, I bookmarked and then neglected to recommend last week a post by Olivier Blanchard on The Brand Builder blog entitled Fear and Loathing in Social Media: The 10 Rules of corporate denial and blatant overreaction.
As a little sampling, here’s #10: “Maybe the easiest thing is to wait and see what your competitors will do, then maybe do that.”
Have a good weekend…
Posted on August 27th, 2009 Comments
Someone asked this week whether a white paper they had written would have greater marketing value if readers had to submit contact information before accessing it.
My answer was no. Exclusivity can preserve the value of content, but not contribute to it.
Putting content behind a registration wall has its trade-offs. It will be invisible to search engines, for example. Plus, unless you rigorously promote it, expect it to attract fewer eyeballs.
The one big benefit to registered content is that it allows you to qualify your hottest leads.
- Your content’s value motivated them to actually submit information about themselves, and
- They’re open to further contact
At the very least, registered content should include a call to action at the end – either to contact you for more information, or to click through to a website where additional content more specific to their needs is available. Either approach allows you to track and measure your content’s effectiveness.
Registered content works best when it has a clearly defined role in a business’s sales funnel – or rather a marketing-to-sales funnel – which my friend, colleague and drinking buddy Greg Donahue explains at greater length here.
Posted on August 21st, 2009 Comments
It’s been a challenging week, and I have the entire flat to myself tonight. And all that stands between me and the bottle of Tanqueray in my freezer is Friday Link Love post.
So, I’ll be brief…
Evidently, my post on ghost-blogging didn’t put the issue to rest for good and for all. It came up twice this week already.
First, on Wednesday, marketing communications pro, Mark Schaefer, tackles the issue with a man-on-the-street approach – only the street, in this case, is his blog. He asks “Can you out-source authenticity?” In fact, he asks a lot of questions in his post. And Mark wants answers. So, if you can read, go put in your two cents.
I’ve decided the ghost-blogging question has less to do with ethics as it does with effectiveness. I realized this while reading the post and comments under Jason Fall’s The Ethics, Or Lack Thereof, Of Ghost Blogging.
In essence, Jason writes at great length to clarify exactly what we mean by ghost-blogging versus ghost-writing until he concludes, in part, that ghost-writers aren’t wrong, ghostwriting is.
Before my pingback elicits a massive clarification from a purple-necked Jason, let me just say that I’m oversimplifying to the point of being flip and you should go read Jason’s whole post yourself. And don’t neglect the comments either, because there’s some good old Socratic dialectic going on there… Namely my trenchant conclusion that ghost-blogging is a symptom, not the disease. If a business feels it needs to hire a ghost-blogger to write for the CEO, it’s a good bet the blog (and business) lacks a clear marketing strategy.
See? You guys make me smarter.
The Nouriel Roubini of social media
Finally, while most of the Bloggerati were attending Social South today, David Spinks damn near stampeded the rest of the social media sphere by asking “Is This Social Media Bubble Deadly?”
What bubble, you ask? Read the comments to find out, and get a drink first because there’s a lot of them.
Posted on August 14th, 2009 Comments
There was a lot of good content on the blogosphere this week, and it was all I could do just to keep current on my reading. (Busy work week here.)
The news on newspapers
I managed some brief comments here and there, but the only post that still has me thinking was Leo Babauta’s “8 Valuable Lessons Newspapers Must Learn from Bloggers to Survive.” Part of the reason the post resonated with me was because I learned this week that our local paper now charges $250 for an obituary. Obits used to be a free service that newspapers provided – sort of like, you know, news.
Personally, I feel any newspaper that charges $250 to announce the death of a local loved one deserves whatever obsolescence is coming to it. It’s a parasitical business model. Blogs aren’t killing newspapers. Newspapers are killing newspapers.
Writing on writing
Other recommended reading includes Kickbutt Writing Skills Still One of the Most Effective Marketing Strategies, on Peter Bowerman’s seminal Well-Fed Writer Blog. The title is self-explanatory and if I had had more time, I might have argued that kickbutt self-marketing skills come before kickbutt writing skills – except I’m pretty sure Peter already knows that. Also, kickbutt writing gets you noticed only insomuch as an absence of mistakes gets you noticed. Good writing is really a sort of passive virtue compared to saving clients time, money and brain cells.
Blogging on blogging
Sonia Simone of Copyblogger.com offers some genuinely good reminders of bad blogging habits in The 7 Deadly Sins of Blogging. One omission under Boorishness is abusing other bloggers for self-righteous criticism, like this new blogger did.
Conversation about conversation
And lastly, I’m am not a big fan of the celebrity interview – and Danny Brown is sort of a social media celebrity – but blogger Jay Baer does a pretty good Q&A that reveals, among other things, that Mr. Brown recommends spending 20% posting on your own blog and 80% commenting on others. Sounds like someone I know…
Posted on August 9th, 2009 Comments
Earlier, I defined corporate blogging as a new marketing medium that invites direct, authentic and personal interaction with the corporate authority. That definition places access as the central value of the corporate blog. If it was just about the posted content, then there’s nothing to distinguish a corporate blog from a press release.
Unfortunately, as a rule, CEO’s and their ilk have little time to compose thoughtful content – much less respond to comments – which invites the impulse to delegate. But delegation raises its own issues.
For one, the C-level blog loses marketing cache and credibility with each rung it descends down the ladder. Leveraging a ghost-writer, meanwhile, compromises the content’s authenticity, and undermines the ability to respond to comments.
So, by traditional standards, ghostwriters have no legitimate use on the corporate or company blog. At best, they make it an ineffective marketing platform, at worst… Well, just go here.
It would appear then that the corporate-level blog is doomed to failure, beset by the conflicting interests of credibility, legitimacy and the executive’s higher priorities. That prediction, however, is only half right…
The fact is, the corporate-level blog isn’t going anywhere. No need to go out on a limb to make the following three predictions:
- There will continue to be the aberrant CEO or CTO who finds the time and voice to prove the C-level blog can be done effectively
- This will encourage hundreds if not thousands of other corporate execs to launch me-too blogs that will remain largely unread, and lastly,
- As long as there continues to be corporate blogs, there will continue to be corporate ghost-bloggers
In other words, corporate blogs built on C-Level vanity are doomed to mediocrity, then obscurity, and then failure.
I’ve always been fond of the quote, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” So, I’d like to propose a fourth possibility, one that could reinvent the corporate blog as a genuine marketing instrument that generates credibility, authority and a loyal readership. And, best of all, it enables content to be delegated freely and legitimately.
An immodest proposal
First, let’s discard the notion that a corporate blog must be written by a C-level blogger. Admittedly, the Corner Office can offer a unique perspective into the company, the brand and the industry in which it competes. Yet, this model really defines a celebrity blog, not a corporate blog. It’s personality driven.
One alternative is to pull focus on the CEO, and create a company blog. I view this as more of a B2C platform, however, since it’s generally aimed toward building community around a brand. Also, since brand management is better handled internally, the company blog falls outside my jurisdiction.
The third alternative – and the one which I aim to propose – is to pull focus even further, and launch an industry blog. Think of it as a self-interested, online industry trade magazine focused on larger trends within the company’s value chain, end-markets, IP, government involvement and/or global competition.
If this sounds more ambitious than a vanity blog, that’s because it is. I never said this marketing model would be easy, just credible, legitimate and logistically viable. Plus, done correctly, it can reap benefits unattainable through conventional marketing collateral. Consider:
Credibility and authority: As Forrester Research reported last year, people intrinsically distrust company blogs. I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that’s because people distrust companies. Expanding the scope of your blog to the market in which you compete puts legitimate distance on the company agenda.
Influence: The goal isn’t to abandon the company agenda, but rather frame it against a larger context: namely what’s best for the market in which you compete. By creating a clearinghouse for information and perspective on industry trends, your blog can attract media as well as prospects, and establish you as the go-to authority for answers. No need to be totally objective. You’re entitled to a point of view, as long as you educate readers in the process.
Lead-gen via education: Social media in general, and blogs in particular are about attraction, not promotion. If done correctly, an industry blog can first attract and then educate prospective leads about an unfamiliar or complex technology. This is particularly effective for businesses fielding early technologies, such as advanced batteries, nanomaterials, smart grid technologies, video-over-IP or even social media.
An open channel: As an active player in the industry on which you blog, you’re entitled to occasionally use that blog as an open channel to broadcast corporate announcements. Standard rules apply: If you flood the channel with news only a CEO could love, then expect the Chief to remain your only loyal reader.
Delegation: Lastly, this new model of the corporate blog legitimizes delegation. But don’t be cavalier in your selection. This isn’t an intern position or piecework for a freelancer. Ideally, you’ll find a corporate strategist or consultant who can become thoroughly familiar with your company’s collective expertise and capabilities, as well as the issues and challenges confronting the industry at large.
Candidates should also know how to build and enforce an editorial policy to imbue the blog with a consistently representative point of view. This last skill is not only essential when deciding what issues to cover, and how to cover them. It will also be critical if, when and how the blog must address negative comments.
Overall, we’re talking ghost-blogger candidates with conventional editorial skills, which are in plentiful supply given the state of industry trade magazines these days.
Tell me what you think about this proposed model. Did I miss any benefits, or drawbacks? Do its benefits warrant a place among corporate strategy? Is it even a new idea? If not, I’d love to see some links to representative blogs in the comments section.