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December 06 2010

Is Permission Marketing Dead?

Spam
From big brands to new BFFs, spam is on the rise in your Inbox. 

Over 10 years ago, Seth Godin sent a shot over the bow with his book Permission Marketing.  He made the point that when you don't have permission to interrupt someone, you are hurting your brand and not likely converting much business either.  He argued that the key is to first ask for permission to add someone to a marketing list, then make offers to them until they decide to retract it.  For a period of time, big brands of all types took this seriously, some even requiring opt-in selection by potential list recipients. 

Recently, it's all changed, though, as companies of all sizes boldly started to add anyone to any list without any type of permission.  I realized this when I decided to clean up by bloated Inbox.  I noticed that I was receiving dozens of newsletters and announcements every week that I never asked for.   I patiently opened each one, clicked on the unsubscribe link and then flagged the email as Junk. What really surprised me was this: The biggest spammers were companies I did business with, but never gave permission to add me to their lists.  Joe's Jeans, Amazon, Roku, Participant Films, Target, Apple (yes, Apple) and about two dozen other companies that had required an email from me as part of an e-commerce transaction.  NOT ONCE did I select (add me to the list) and every time, I deselected it when it was presented to me.  In several cases, cashiers at retail stores asked for my email address, but never explained why.  Now I know.  

What does this mean?  A new generation of marketing decision makers have decided we don't have anymore privacy rights, so they are adding names to lists as fast as possible, and building a new eCatalog model to make our Inboxes as unwieldy as our mail boxes.  It's not just the .com sites or the spammers anymore, it's the marketers.  What they fail to realize is that when you require a consumer to unsubscribe from you or flag you as Junk Mail, you are weakening your brand to them - making it even harder for future/legit marketing to convert.  That was the point that Seth stressed to marketers with his book: Earn permission, it's an asset and a brand of it's own. 

In my case, I never add someone to my email newsletter.  They must choose to do so via visiting my site.  Often I offer book lists, downloads, etc. during my conference talks.  I could easily grow my newsletter from its current size (around 8,000) to about 20,000 or 30,000 if I was willing to break the rules - but I don't because I know it would be a violation of trust.  And I also know that it wouldn't be good personal branding when these unsuspecting folks start to receive my newsletter out of the blue.  Sure, I may reply to an old email from a fan with a single message about a new book, but that's a far cry from sticking them on a list distribution (to receive countless emails over time).

Audit your own company's policies here, making sure you aren't one of them too.  Sergio Zyman, former CMO of Coke, argued that good marketing "is a service, that adds value when you buy, consume or own a product."  Interruption without permission isn't a service, it's an annoyance, and can only reflect poorly on a company's marketing acumen.  

I'm no longer going to give my email address to stores I shop at.  I've got a Yahoo email address for eCommerce transactions, so I can still get my confirmations of a successful transaction or shipping information without having my regular email Inbox spammed.  I'm going to boycott companies that insist on adding me to their lists, or refusing to unsubscribe me when I ask.  Pass it on. 

 

October 12 2010

Social Media Is A Big Waste Of Time

You know the drill, the minute something becomes popular, some report comes out making claims about how much money is being pulled out of the economy because we're wasting our time on it.

Social media is no different. In fact, it's not even social media as entirety. We've seen instances where Facebook has been accused of wasting millions of dollars on being a time suck. The same has happened with YouTube and Twitter (more on that here: Gigaom - News Flash: Your Employees are Wasting Time on the Internet). We're always quick to blame the technology and not the people. I always argue that those who are not wasting their time on YouTube (because a company has blocked it) have probably figured out something else to do to waste their time (hint: they're not happy and energized to be doing their jobs ... it's not YouTube).

Social media is a big-time time sucker.

That was the news last week in the AdWeek news item, Social Networking: A Waste of Time? (Oct. 7, 2010). "Here's a sign of social networking's growing presence in modern life: It has surpassed TV viewing as the preeminent waster of people's time," stated the news item. "At any rate, it tops the waste-of-time standings in a 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll released this week. Respondents were given a list of six activities and asked to pick the one they regard as 'your biggest waste of time.' A plurality (36 per cent) chose 'social networking,' putting it easily ahead of runner-up 'fantasy sports' (25 per cent) and third-place 'watching television' (23 per cent). Few votes went to 'shopping' (nine per cent), 'reading' (two per cent) or 'your job' (two per cent)."

Social media is only a waste of time if you're using it to waste your time.

It's not because it's a slight against online social networks that I'm upset (or because I base part of my business livelihood on the success of social media as a marketing channel), but we have to meet the people who lump "reading" and their "jobs" as their "biggest waste of time." Wasting your time should probably be defined as an activity that requires nothing proactive, while utilizing minimal effort and with even less of a valued outcome in terms of overall life benefit. But, if you look at social media like that, you're missing the point entirely.

Social media is the fabric that binds our culture together.

Maybe not our current, entire culture but the shift is happening in a very non-subtle way. Contrast the news above with this blog post last week from MediaPost's Engage - GenY titled, Social Network Disconnect, which looks at GenY (those born between 1982 and 2004). Prior to looking at the stats presented below, you should know that Gen Y is (according to the Blog post), "the first generation in U.S. history to exceed 100,000,000 members is typified as multi-cultural, multi-racial, multilingual, multimedia and multi-tasking. Most importantly, Gen Y is the first generation in human history to, as children, be more technologically advanced than their parents."

Are you ready to have your mind blown?...

"Their use of technology is pervasive and sophisticated. You can pretty much count on the totality of Gen Y to be online and connected. Research conducted by the Insights division of Ypulse in September 2010 94 percent of GenY to be on Facebook, spending 11.4 hours a week within its pearly blue gates. This connectivity is nearly ubiquitous, with more than three quarters (78 per cent) of high school and college students connecting to their preferred social network via their mobile phone. Mobile devices and the Facebook platform are the glue that keeps this generation connected. When Gen Y communicates with each other, their preferred tool is a text message (55 per cent state texting as the primary means of communicating with their friends), followed by Facebook (24 per cent). Voice-based communications (land line, VOIP and mobile voice calls) among Gen Y represents only 10 per cent of communications, IM is the primary communications tool for seven per cent and email is dominant among a meager one per cent of Gen Y when communicating peer to peer."

It's not just because it's cool to be on Facebook.

Regardless of what the platform is, there's something bigger brewing beneath the surface here. The massive speed of change and adoption of new media among this huge generation is changing our society (they're not just idly sitting by watching TV, flipping through magazines or playing video games). From whom they trust and rely on to how they perceive privacy and relationships. These youngish people are doing things in a more open and sharing environment (and, yes some of it is not in a positive way - look no further than the tragedy that took place at Rutgers University a few weeks back when a young person committed suicide after a video was posted on YouTube without their consent), and this is having current implications on how society evolves... and we haven't even begun to look at the long-term society impact of this change in terms of business, education, privacy, communications and connectivity. What we do know is that you can hardly dismiss this massive shift as a waste of time (unless all you're doing is watching YouTube videos of people falling off of treadmills - which, admittedly, never gets tiring).

Is this causing such a huge societal change that we can't even begin to imagine the implications, so we have decide to ignore it or pass it off as a time waster, or is the reality something much bigger that we - as the business leaders of today - must begin to grasp and embrace?

The above posting is my twice-monthly column for the Montreal Gazette and Vancouver Sun newspapers called, New Business - Six Pixels of Separation. I cross-post it here with all the links and tags for your reading pleasure, but you can check out the original versions online here:

Tags: 60 minutes adweek business section canwest communications connectivity economy education engage gen y facebook fantasy sports gigaom hr human resources im marketing mediapost mobile montreal gazette new media newspaper newspaper column online social network postmedia privacy reading rutgers university shopping social media social network disconnect social networking societal change technology television text message tv twitter vancouver sun vanity fair youtube ypulse

October 02 2010

Les médias sociaux 101, le livre de Michelle Blanc

Écrit en collaboration avec Nadia Seraiocco, je tiens d’abord à remercier chaleureusement Michelle pour m’avoir confié leur “bébé” Les Médias sociaux 101- Le réseau mondial des beaux-frères et des belles-soeurs lancé lundi dernier.  Cette délicatesse m’a touché.  Il me reste maintenant à le faire dédicacé.

;-)

Une référence précieuse

Je recommande le livre pour ce qu’il est:  une organisation de billets du blog d’une professionnelle qui “walk her talk” bonifiés de ses réflexions.  Il accélère et facilite la découverte de sa collection de plus de 2000 billets jusqu’à présent.  Il permet aux néophytes du Web de comprendre que la puissance du Web réside dans la conversation et à ceux qui ne connaissent pas Michelle (Est-ce encore possible? lol) de la découvrir.

Dès le départ, les propos de Bruno Guglielminetti résonnent comme de la musique à mes oreilles:

“Car jamais encore une entreprise n’aura eu cette chance de converser aussi directement, et en temps réel, avec sa clientèle jusqu’à aujourd’hui.  Jamais auparavant une entreprise n’aura eu un contact aussi direct avec le citoyen.  Mais encore faut-il savoir comment lui parler.  Il faut prendre le temps de réfléchir à la question, évaluer quel réseau utiliser, quoi dire et à quel moment”

À travers ses propres expériences, elle dévoile des informations et des trucs à maîtriser sur les dynamiques de communication dans les réseaux sociaux et dans le Web en général.  Le livre contient des URL intéressantes que Michelle, bien sûr, a pris soin de mettre dans un format (bit.ly) pouvant lui permettre d’analyser la performance du livre.

Vous y trouverez également un lexique intéressant.  D’ailleurs, je recommande aux non-initiés de l’avoir à leur portée afin de suivre les conversations d’autres passionnés du développement des affaires Web dans un Yulbiz ou autres réseaux “off-line” ailleurs au Québec comme Focus20, WEB2BIZ, Hyperlien, IdentityCamp et SWAFF.

Je songe même offrir ce livre à mes clients pour leur proposer une autre perspective d’analyse du Web et pour stimuler les échanges avec eux.

Ceci dit, voici quelques bémols et commentaires pour bien gérer les attentes du lecteur.

Les médias sociaux 101, …

Le titre un peu “punché” pour attirer l’attention n’illustre pas l’essence du contenu du livre.  À l’instar des propos de Mario Asselin, ce livre n’est pas un manuel “how-to” comme le laisse sous-entendre l’utilisation du “101″ généralement associé à un contenu de cours.

D’ailleurs je risque un titre alternatif pour mieux illustrer son contenu:  “Pour profiter du Web;  converser plutôt que de diffuser!”  Le livre et le parcours de Michelle font la démonstration que pour maximiser les résultats dans le Web, il importe d’organiser une capacité d’écoute efficace et nourrir les conversations: Web 2.0 ou pas.

le réseau mondial des beaux-frères et des belles soeurs!

Sans vouloir vexer mes beaux-frères et mes belles-soeurs, ils ne sont pas les premières sources que je sollicite pour demander des conseils.  Selon le besoin, je le fait plutôt auprès de personnes de confiance que j’ai qualifiées avec le temps pour leur combinaison d’expertises, de jugement et de valeurs.

Qu’il soit sur le Web ou non, la qualité d’un réseau est fonction de la qualité des personnes qui le composent.  Si vous acceptez n’importe qui ou si vous ne contrôlez pas vos paramètres de confidentialités, vous devrez, tôt ou tard, investir de l’énergie pour gérer des situations délicates qui solliciteront ce que vous avez de plus précieux:  votre temps!

Nous n’avons pas le choix de nos beaux-frères ni de nos belles soeurs, mais nous avons le choix de nos amis et de nos contacts.  C’est pourquoi je décide qui je veux accepter dans mes réseaux sociaux et avec qui je n’ai aucun intérêt à nourrir une conversation bi-directionnelle.

Je vous pose la question suivante:  peu importe la taille de votre réseaux “d’amis” dans Facebook, Twitter ou autres, avec combien de personnes pouvez-vous nourrir une communication bi-directionnelle mutuellement profitable?

J’ai justement eu une discussion intéressante à ce sujet avec Karima-Catherine Goundiam la semaine dernière:   l’important n’est pas de collectionner, mais de connecter ;-)  Une fois connecté, toujours faut-il pouvoir nourrir cette relation.  Sinon, vous aurez beaucoup d’interactions, mais très peu de véritables communications.

Pourquoi l’avoir choisie, qui est Nadia et quelle a été sa contribution?

Parmi toutes les professionnelles que Michelle connaît, j’aurais aimé savoir pourquoi elle a choisi Nadia comme complice dans ce projet?  À la lecture du livre et sans vouloir rien lui enlever, je n’ai aucunement senti sa contribution ni l’impact d’une quelconque synergie avec Michelle.

Sur mon appétit

Le livre est révélateur du copinage avec les médias traditionnels que Michelle alimente depuis un moment.  Même si Michelle fait référence aux entreprises de façon générale au début, elle s’adresse davantage aux organisations qui relaient le message plutôt qu’aux entreprises qui produisent de la valeur.  Je trouve que le contenu cible davantage les agences de communication, les journalistes et les acteurs politique plutôt que les PME qui sont à la base de notre économie.

Sans connaître les chiffres, j’aurais bien aimé avoir des indices sur les véritables R.O.I. (Return On Investment) des contributions de Michelle pour son client “chou-chou” si souvent cité:  Dessins Drummond.  Quelles ont été les principales retombées des initiatives de son président dans les réseaux sociaux sur les résultats de son entreprise?

J’aurais également apprécié que Michelle nous partage sa vision et la nuance qu’elle fait des impacts de ces réseaux Web pour une entreprise qui opère en mode B2C vs dans un marché B2B.  Et même dans un marché B2B, que pense-t-elle des stratégies, des impacts et des défis de converser directement avec les consommateurs utilisateurs en bout de ligne?

Le livre fait surtout référence aux interactions humaines.  Comme les données transitent par de multiples systèmes et même si la très grande majorité des lecteurs ne sont pas experts en informatique, j’aurais aimé qu’elle vulgarise les bases systémiques et les applications qu’elle exploite pour être à l’écoute et pour se démarquer.

Finalement et comme je crois que c’est par une judicieuse combinaison d’interactions “on-line” et “off-line” que la réputation de Michelle s’est construite, j’aurais aimé connaître sa version sur l’impact de son implication dans Yulbiz (réseau de blogueurs d’affaires qu’elle a co-fondée) sur le développement de sa carrière.  Quelle est sa perception de la valeur des nombreuses discussions de vives voix qu’elle a eues avec d’autres professionnels aussi passionnés sur son “savoir-être” Web et sur son rayonnement “on-line”?

“Univers” ou “environnement”, le Web n’est pas un média!

J’ai toujours préféré l’allégorie “environnement” (plus organique) pour décrire le Web que “univers” (plus physique) utilisée par Michelle.  Quoiqu’il en soit, le Web n’est pas un média de communication homogène et stable.  C’est un environnement/univers de communication organique en constante évolution entre systèmes et humains.

Ce que le livre ne dit pas…

Pour se démarquer dans les réseaux Web, il faut être vigilant et avoir le sens de la répartie.  Il faut une sensibilité aux communications dans de multiples canaux.  Comme personne n’est parfait, il faut être ouvert à la critique et aux commentaires pouvant nous améliorer et provenant de partout où l’on parle une même langue.  Finalement, il faut être généreux et partager autour de soi: “on-line” et “off-line”.

Ce que le livre ne dit pas, c’est que Michelle est naturellement comme ça: Web ou pas!

Pour en profiter, une entreprise doit disposer de ces habilités.   Pour vous initier ou pour améliorer votre rayonnement, ce livre vous fera gagner du temps.  Il contribuera sûrement à contrer cet analphabétisme Web qui menace tant nos PME.

En passant, ne vous laissez-pas intimider ou déranger par son tempérament frondeur et ses propos directs parfois.   L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux… et inaudible pour les oreilles!

Merci!

Pour tout ce que tu sèmes de positifs autour de toi, pour toutes celles et tous ceux que tu inspires, merci Michelle!

;-)

September 29 2010

7 Things That Blogging Does

Seven years ago (2003), I posted my first Blog post here. The day would have slipped by had someone not sent me a note about it.

After tweeting about my Blogaversary, Jay Fleischman, replied: "@mitchjoel 6.18 posts/wk for 7 yrs. Take out 1 for the podcast and you're at 5.18; 400 words ea = 2,072 words/wk. 754,208 words total. Nice." my newspaper column for the Montreal Gazette and Vancouver Sun (which will be cross-posted here tomorrow) is all about the future of Blogging. That being said, after 7 years and 2251 Blog posts, I have learned some very important lessons about the value of Blogging when I think back.

7 Important Lessons About Blogging:

  1. Blogging = Critical Thinking. If everything else went away (the readers, the comments, the community, the feedback), Blogging was (and still is) an amazing place to think about an issue or news item and work through it. I liken myself as a Media Hacker. A Blog is a great place for anyone to be a Hacker of whatever it is that they love. If you don't believe me, then just watch this: Blogging Still Matters... Now More Than Ever.
  2. Blogging = Ideation. In using your Blog as a platform for your critical thinking, you will quickly start uncovering new and interesting business models and ideas for how you can push your industry forward or how it can/should be thinking differently. Writing a Blog, reading the comments and feedbacking into them is the ultimate Petri dish for ideation and innovation.
  3. Blogging = Tinkering. The ideas and critical thinking are not always one hundred percent final. Blogging allows you to tinker with ideas. To work at them (like a complex mathematical formula). Slowly, over time, you start realizing how wrong you were, how visionary you were and how much further you still have to go.
  4. Blogging = Relationships. It's not about sitting in the dark recesses of your basement as you tinker away with words and thoughts. It's about using this platform to connect. It's about real interactions with real human beings. Some of my best friends are people that I would not have otherwise met were it not for Six Pixels of Separation (the Blog, not the concept). If you Blog, step out into the physical world. Meet other Bloggers. Share, learn and collaborate with them.
  5. Blogging = Business. Make no mistake about it. This Blog started out as a means for Twist Image to tell the world how we think differently about Media, Marketing, Advertising and Communications. Over the years, this has attracted many world-class clients, speaking engagements, a book offer and many other amazing and interesting business opportunities. So, while this is not a place where Twist Image shills its wares, it is a place that is directly tied to our overall business objectives/strategy. It consistently delivers a very solid ROI to our bottom line (take that, you Social Media measurement naysayers!).
  6. Blogging = Sharing. As each day passes, I like Charlene Li's latest book, Open Leadership, more and more (her first book, Groundswell rocks as well). Many people think that Social Media is all about the conversation and engaging in the conversation. I believe what makes any media "social" is the ability to share it. To help you to open up. Not only can you share the concepts by telling your peers and friend about a Blog, but everybody shares in the insights as well (whether you work for my company or not). It has changed/evolved our corporate culture. A Blog makes you think more about how you can share your content, your thoughts and why others may want to work/connect to you.
  7. Blogging = Exhaust Valve. A great Blog is great because the Blogger actually cares and loves to create content. If it's forced, if it's your "job," then the passion rarely comes through. The biggest lesson I have learned in my seven years of Blogging is that this Blog is my exhaust valve. After working a full day with clients and their many challenges, this Blog is my playground. It's the place where I can let off some textual steam. Make your Blog your exhaust valve. Caution: be careful that you're not Blogging simply to blow off angry steam. The steam and exhaust I am talking about is the pent up energy of passion that I have from doing what I love to do.

What does Blogging equal for you?

Tags: advertising blog blogger blogging business book business model business objective business section charlene li collaboration communications content corporate culture critical thinking future of blogging groundswell ideation innovation jay fleishman marketing media media hacker montreal gazette newspaper column online community online conversation open leadership public speaking publishing social media social media measurement social media strategy tinkering tweet twist image twitter vancouver sun writing

September 21 2010

August 13 2010

POV: Good marketing is a service, not an interruption

In late 2000, I read former Coke CMO Sergio Zyman's book, The End Of Marketing As We Know It.  He argued that promotions, advertising, positioning, messaging and packaging should all be seen "as a service that adds value when you buy, own or consume the product." 

He continues that it should not be an interruption, broadcast or self-serving effort.  His example: Coke, Its Refreshing.  Prior to this being their marketing strap, they studied Coke consumers' tendency to feel refreshed after drinking their product.  As the marketing program rolled out via commercial media, they retested their consumers...and guess what?  They felt much more refreshed.  Why?  Because the marketing engaged them and set their expectations accordingly. 

My takeaway was simple, but life changing: Marketing is the free service that can lead to a paid service or product purchase.  Bud has entertained us and inspired us for free, and when we consume the product we likely smile, remembering the ad we recently saw.  Progressive insurance marketing choice to us, which changed the insurance buying process.  Apple showed us how to use their iPhone in TV ads, and we had an easier time using it once purchased. 

In a 2009 post, Seth Godin talked about why a good book cover is a service that adds value when you own it. (The Purpose Of Book Covers)

Review your marketing exectuions in the future under that lens, and weed out the non-serving interruptions and announcements.  What will be left?  Good marketing that works!  

August 05 2010

The Art of Marketing in Montreal

The Art of Marketing is a conference being held in Montreal on September 30th. They’ve got a star-studded lineup, including:

It’s rare to get all of these folks (even the Montrealers in the group!) in Montreal at one time, so if you’re interested in marketing, social media, analytics, etc. it’s worth checking out.

Two important notes:

  1. Get a discount! Click this link to get $50 off the regular admission price. Cost will be $349 to sign up.
  2. Wait for the contest! The folks at Art of Marketing have agreed to do a contest with NextMontreal.com (when we launch) to offer 2 FREE tickets.. We’re working on the contest and it will get launched immediately after the site is launched (which will be at some point in August, to allow for enough time before the conference).

You can learn more about the conference and the speakers at The Art of Marketing.

July 20 2010

8 Ways to Be a Thought Leader

8 Ways to Be a Thought LeaderThought leadership is a critical component to an effective, modern marketing strategy. For small businesses especially, it’s one of the best ways to cut through the clutter and compete against bigger brands. The benefits are game changing for your small business — most notably in lead generation and partnership opportunities. Establishing a thought-leader position on a topic in your industry builds credibility in the eyes of your targets. It serves to influence in a way that advertising itself can never do. I’ll share eight creative ways you can become a thought leader and grow your business.

Think about the businesses and brands you follow. Part of why you like the brand is because they have established themselves as the most passionate, tireless expert on a topic. They may not be the biggest, they just have the greatest passion and most valuable content—and as result you come to trust these brands and people. Therefore, you are attracted and eventually buy stuff from them.

It’s how John Lawson is an accomplished eBay Powerseller; It’s how Chris Brogan is a leader on social media and online community; it’s how Seth Godin is a trusted leader in marketing; it’s how Beth Harte is a online marketing pro. Okay, you get the idea. These people have nailed their thought leadership and have grown massively because of it.

The term “thought leadership” is being used in the same breath as marketing and PR today. And for good reason. People don’t buy into interruptions so much anymore. They buy into expertise. People buy from brands that offer value and are the leaders in their industry.

And yet why do so many choose to ignore this as a strategy? The big reason is that it requires an investment of time, not money. You can’t simply buy ads and become an overnight nationally acclaimed expert. It requires your time to feed it and grow it. It takes months and years. Therein lies the fallout and where so many entrepreneurs don’t —and your opportunity to shine.

First place to start your thought leadership campaign is to identify your platform and give yourself a name that inspires you and helps you keep focus. The name is for internal purposes though. It’ll serve to guide your focus in content creation and where you choose to spend your time. Gary Vaynerchuk is a super-interesting thought leader on wine and social media is known as the ‘The Wine Guy’. His book Crush It! offers helpful advice in nailing down your platform and finding your passion for entrepreneurship. For our CEO Clate Mask, his thought leadership platform is the “Small Business Zealot”, which captures the passion and crusader-type mentality he takes advocating for and helping small businesses grow smarter and faster.

Once you have your platform in place, here are eight solid ways to launch your thought leadership strategy.

1. Speak at Events

Identify the events and business associations that matter in your industry and to your customers. Find a way to speak on a panel first, or moderate a discussion. Then you can graduate to keynoting. Conferences and trade shows book speakers typically about six months to a year in advance. A great place to start is your local chamber of commerce or small business association. With smaller events you have a better chance with less lead time, and as you do more of them you can graduate to larger-scale events. Here’s a couple directories for finding national events: BizTradeshows and www.tsnn.com

2. Stay in Touch With Email Marketing

Think about the top-five questions you get from prospects and customers all the time. You can answer those questions in a informative way. Include links to your blog posts. Provide useful information that’s not selling but rather informing people

3. Share Big Ideas Through Webinars

Webinars are super-useful in thought leadership and direct lead generation. You can host a webinar on a topic that is hot on people’s mind. Keep it informational and packed with best practices and useful tips. Feeling like you can’t pull it off yourself? You can easily interview someone like a customer or partner as well. Invite customers and prospects. Send information to the publications in your industry to get it mentioned. Make sure to invest some time in your presentation so it’s professional and engaging. After the webinar, post your presentation to slideshare and put a link to it on your website.

4. Grow Your Audience with an EBook

A fantastic way to present useful info is through electronic books (ebooks). They are today’s version of the old standard whitepaper, but more fun and easier to consume. Not to mention, people love to share them. As an example, here’s one ebook, When Chaos Moves In, we did we did with our friends at ChangeThis and 800 CEO Read that we used to help promote Clate and Scott’s book. For other good samples Chris Brogan, a thought leader on social media, compiled 20 Free Ebooks about Social Media that is a great reference. Not sure where to start with the subject matter? You can easily compile your best 3-6 blog posts into one ebook.

5. Blog Weekly

For some, this is a daunting commitment. (You mean I need to write two to three times a week, every week without fail?) Here are some tips from one of my favorite bloggers, Jay Baer, 11 Must-Dos for the Serious Bloggers. Implement just some of them and you will be well on your way. If you’re serious about growing your leadership stance, you can’t shy away from inspiring others through blogging.

6. Strengthen Your Brand on Twitter and Facebook

I’m assuming you’ve already figured out that Twitter is a valuable listening post and tool for pushing information out. Now’s the time to get more aggressive with it and start following and engaging with the top 40 influencers in your industry. In addition, pay attention to your customers, prospects, vendors and partners too. Search for topics central to your platform using search.twitter.com. Then dial up the engagement with others. Reply to tweets. Then share the stuff that you are working on, share useful articles and point people to your content or where you are speaking. Those who actively use and find value in Twitter view their activity as an investment in their brand that reaps benefits. Twitter is one place to further lay claim to being a thought leader in your industry. They may be members of the press, heads of associations or influential bloggers who regularly on topics that matter to you and your customers. Read their blog regularly and comment with valuable feedback when appropriate. Attend events where they are speaking.

7. Write a Book

Once you’ve flexed your writing muscle in blogging, the next natural (but perhaps more Herculean effort) is to write a book. Certainly it’s no easy feat, but well worth it. Being an expert means filling 200 pages. Whether self-published or using a publisher, books are an effective leave-behind for prospects and an amazing marketing tool. It’s the way people will seek you out for your expertise. Our cofounders Clate and Scott’s recent book Conquer the Chaos: How to Grow a Successful Small Business Without Going Crazy has been an invaluable tool in securing press and speaking engagements that we otherwise wouldn’t have opportunity for. Plus it debuted on the New York Times Best-Seller list which serves to even further pump up the small business expertise platform we are touting.

8. Issue a Survey

Poll your customers and prospects on hard-hitting stuff that press and peers in your industry would be interested in. You can use surveymonkey.com to survey your customers and prospects via email on a topic that matters For example, if you have a wedding supply business where you work with brides regularly, you can poll them on how much they plan on spending on their dress, flowers or the event overall. Put the results into a simple press release and a blog post. Reference the data in your webinars and speaking events. Let others know about the results and conclusions of the survey through your blog, Twitter and Facebook. It may grow legs and spread throughout your industry.

For long-term success, don’t overwhelm yourself to start. Meaning… don’t try to do all the stuff on this list at once. You can tackle one or two of these at first. Then each month add in another level of your thought leadership campaign. Within six months, you’ll look back and see you have a body of work that people actually share and re-tweet with one another, and soon you’re getting opportunities to speak and share your ideas. Then you’ll be addicted to generating content.

The most successful business owners see thought leadership as a journey not a destination because it’s a long-term play that reaps major benefits to those who stick with it.

How will you leverage thought leadership in your business?

[Image credit: jdanvers]

July 05 2010

Les médias sociaux donnent l'occasion aux gestionnaires des RP

Je suis tombé récemment sur cette déclaration du CMO d’Unilever : « PR is a primary concern for every CMO and brand manager. If marketing and PR are not the same department, tear down the wall. Spend time deciding whether PR is underleveraged in your organization. » Avouez que la déclaration du monsieur a de quoi faire réagir les adeptes du marketing tout comme les professionnels des relations publiques. Moi, je retiens surtout la dernière phrase.

Depuis l’émergence des médias sociaux, les organisations et les marques sont bien plus exposées qu’avant aux commentaires, critiques, compliments et autres manifestations des consom’acteurs. Et qui veille à la réputation des organisations et des marques? Les RP.

La réputation est à risque comme jamais auparavant dans les blogues, les sites Internet, YouTube, Vimeo, Twitter et autres médias sociaux. Comme le dit le CMO d’Unilever : « You may want to talk about sport and just doing it, and the consumer raises the uncomfortable question of sweatshops. » C’est désormais une réalité avec laquelle il faut composer : le consom’acteur s’empressera de faire savoir son opinion parce que c’est devenu facile de le faire.

Les médias sociaux donnent à chaque gestionnaire des relations publiques une formidable occasion de donner encore plus d’envergure aux relations publiques. La fonction RP, trop souvent sous-développée dans les organisations, trop souvent cantonnée dans les RP traditionnelles et classiques au point où on se demande quelle est sa valeur, doit saisir cette occasion… avant que la fonction marketing ne s’en empare (ce qui est en train de se faire dans certaines organisations). Comment ? En lançant des programmes de vigie et d’analyse des médias sociaux (y’a pas que les coupures de presse, vous savez ?). En développant et en animant des plateformes de médias sociaux. En bâtissant des communautés autour de la marque. En diffusant des communiqués aussi pour les médias sociaux. Et surtout, en ne refusant pas le dialogue avec les consom’acteurs.

July 01 2010

A Marketing Revolution

Sir Ken Robinson is a brilliant speaker, thinker and evangelist.

If you have never seen/heard Sir Ken Robinson speak, please stop everything you are doing and watch the video below. It is his second presentation that he has given at the infamous TED conference. I had the pleasure of seeing him give this talk live at TED this past year, and it was even a bigger honor to share the stage with him last month at The Art of Marketing event in Calgary.

In this presentation titled, Bring On The Learning Revolution, I could not help but think to myself that as applicable and relevant as this is to the present (and future) of education, his comments are equally applicable to everything we do in Marketing, Communications, Advertising and Public Relations.

Without further interruption: bring on the revolution!

Tags: advertising bring on the learning revolution communications education marketing marketing revolution online video pr presentation public relations sir ken robinson speaker ted conference the art of marketing

May 29 2010

Life Is Marketing

We often forget that everything we do is Marketing.

Even if we don't like the term "marketing." Even if it doesn't have the word "marketing" on your business card or in your job description... you're in marketing.

It sometimes takes the wise words of someone who is super-successful and doesn't consider themselves a "Marketer" to make that type of realization. I had a pretty cool week. The Canadian Marketing Association (CMA) held their National Convention in Toronto (and I was honored to be the Co-Chair of the event). In helping to put together the stellar line-up of speakers, we scored Howie Mandel (comedian, actor and host of Deal Or No Deal and this season's America's Got Talent). Beyond his on-screen public persona, he's also an author (Here's The Deal: Don't Touch Me), producer and manages many different angles of the entertainment and content business. He's funny... and he's razor sharp when it comes to business. In thinking aloud as to why he was invited to be the closing keynote speaker for the second day of this Marketing conference, he suggested that everything we do, all of the time is marketing.

"Life is Marketing," said Mandel... and he's right.

From trying to get an idea across in a meeting to closing a deal to going out on a Friday night to meet someone, we all spend our days trying to market ourselves, our ideas and the work we do. Don't believe me (or Howie Mandel)? Think about the last time you had to fight for a promotion or a raise? What were you really doing? You were marketing yourself. Think about the last time you tried to get an idea across in a meeting. What were you really doing? You were marketing the idea to your peers.

So, should everyone be on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, TV, in books, etc...?

According to Howie... yes! (while I might argue that one should have a strategy in place before simply diving in). Howie's take is this: in a world where there are so many choices - from a multitude of channels and books to millions of people creating and sharing content online - that brands need to not only be where the people are, but to be doing things in enough places that they get noticed.

It's a little bit of a mass media concept, but it makes a lot of sense.

Depending on the type of brand you have and how you need it to connect to your consumers, Mandel is spot on: the more findable you are and the more valuable the content that you are creating is, the more likelihood you will have of building a strong and vibrant brand. The brands that stick to one thing (and that includes TV and/or the Internet) are the ones, according to Howie, that are not paying attention to "what's going 'out there'" and being open to new and, potentially, life-changing opportunities.

And that's no joke.

"Life is Marketing"... it feels nice to say that.

Tags: americas got talent book brand branding business canadian marketing association cma cma national convention content deal or no deal entertainment business facebook heres the deal dont touch me howie mandel keynote speaker life is marketing marketer marketing marketing conference mass media producer publisher tv twitter youtube

May 27 2010

Lessons We Learned from Advertising on Facebook

Lessons We Learned from Advertising on FacebookFacebook is so much more than a traffic generator.  At Infusionsoft, I manage our advertising we do on the web including Google AdWords and Facebook Advertising. In the spirit of Facebook Marketing Week, I’ll share six lessons I’ve learned that will help you advertise your business on Facebook.

The prevailing thought is that advertising on Facebook can drive clicks and inordinate amounts of traffic. This is very true. I however, strongly disagree with those who feel that it can’t drive strong conversions as well. A myth shared by “scholarly marketing expert” types often cite people visit Facebook merely are there to engage and not consume.

While this is partially true, I disagree with the conclusion from that line of thinking.  Specifically, the notion that advertiser’s best hope is to simply drive a lot of website traffic. Facebook users are in a prime mode to engage, and that results in a potential prospect that’s extremely open to consuming various lead generation materials … as long as the ads are relevant and non-pitchy. That’s why materials such as ‘free reports’ and ebooks succeed to the extent that I’ve seen.

Read more about using Facebook for lead generation on our previous post. On there, you’ll pick up several key tactics for using Facebook to help grow your list.

The mere fact that people are on Facebook to engage encourages digestion of your lead generation materials. This is true because we’ve seen our conversion rates measure better with Facebook than any other traffic source. Think about that … we advertise quite a bit on Google in addition to a number of publishers who have good response rates.  Facebook works very well for us.

We closely monitor our Cost per Lead (CPL) across all our advertising. Dollar for dollar, Facebook far outperforms any other lead generation tactic by that metric (except perhaps, an extremely well-executed, well-maintained AdWords campaign). Nonetheless, it’s much easier to create an ROI positive Facebook ad campaign than an AdWords campaign.

Facebook is also an excellent introduction to online advertising. If you’re not yet an AdWords expert, Facebook provides an easy interface and it hits on some concepts that will help you understand more complicated PPC principles.

After five-figures invested into Facebook ads, I’ve decided to share six big lessons we’ve learned with advertising on Facebook. Keep in mind, we tested, tweaked and always aim to improve our ads every day.

1.   Deep Targeting.

Take advantage of Facebook’s easy-to-use targeting options. Invest time coming up with a clear picture of who actually is in your target market. Don’t target the industry as much as you target their specific interests. Consider what keywords their profile would include and specific interests their demographic has.

2.   Use Multiple Campaigns.

While it can be a bit exciting to see one campaign perform well, consider launching several campaigns with different copy, visuals and targets at once. Facebook provides a decent reporting system so you can quickly see what’s performing (and what’s not).

3.   Segment Ad Campaigns.

It’s very important to organize your aggregated keywords into logical segments. Once you’ve done this, you can easily create ultra-targeted ads. This makes it much easier to narrow the reporting between all your ad campaigns and build reports.

4.   Rotate Different Visuals.

Rotate your creative at least every two weeks. Studies have shown that you get much more mileage (and clicks) by rotating images. If time is of the essence and you don’t have the bandwidth to create more masterful ad copy, alter the graphic to a decent impact on the ad campaign.

5.   Check Your Stats, Review Reports.

While somewhat boring to the average marketer, it’s very helpful to invest the time to review the data, demographics and the response rates on different ads. This knowledge will help you create better-targeted, lower-cost campaigns. The most underutilized aspect of Facebook advertising would be the ability to access detailed demographic information. It’s seriously awesome; take advantage of it!

6.   Use Conversion Tracking.

If you’re lucky enough to use a powerful CRM that tracks Lead-sources and performance of inbound traffic, use it. Facebook recently introduced conversion tracking (it’s in beta) and it’s pretty sweet.  I cheat and use Infusionsoft for tracking my Facebook ad activity and it provides the data on conversions that we need and gives me insight on how ads are performing on top of Facebook’s ad reporting.

Take it from me; it’s my job to help others on the web find Infusionsoft and become our prospects and customers. These tips will give you the extra edge to get more out of advertising on Facebook.

Facebook offers more than branding, it delivers lead generation value and helps drive our business. I admit it did take a lot of experimentation and collaboration with our marketing team to get our ads to the level they are performing today. No secret tactics are involved – but there is a unique element of engagement that isn’t typically found with other types of advertising on the web.

If you’ve got questions, I might have answers. Let me know if you want to know more about Facebook ads in the comments below. We have a few more hot items for Facebook Marketing Week lined up. Subscribe now to be notified when we publish them.

Facebook Marketing Week

Facebook is a registered trademark of Facebook, Inc.

May 15 2010

Stratégie internet : Pourquoi avoir un blogue dans votre domaine d’expertise

Main sur un clavier d'ordinateur

Stratégie internet…

Bloguer ou ne pas bloguer…là est la question!… C’est une question qu’on me pose souvent. Généralement, on n’aime pas beaucoup ma réponse parce que je réponds toujours par une question. Je sais, ce n’est pas poli, mais il faut ce qu’il faut pour bien comprendre les motivations et être en mesure de bien conseiller. Alors, la fameuse question:

 

Alors, pourquoi voulez-vous avoir un blogue pour vos affaires?

La plupart du temps la réponse qu’on me donne tourne autour de la promotion et du marketing…et c’est là que je dégonfle le tout et qu’on me regarde, décontenancé,  avec la bouche ouverte… Si vous créez un blogue pour faire votre promotion, vous serez déçu…très déçu…vous ne le tiendrez probablement pas assez longtemps pour en cueillir les fruits, vous serez découragé bien avant de voir un dollar de retour…

Pourquoi bloguer alors? Pour moi, la seule raison qui tienne la route c’est parce que vous avez envie de communiquer quelque chose qui vous passionne. Vous avez envie d’entrer en communication avec d’autres internautes qui, comme vous, ont cette passion.  Vous remarquerez que je ne parle pas ici de savoir, mais bien de passion, parce que c’est l’ingrédient qui fera la différence à long terme. Et c’est important le long terme pour un blogue.

Ce n’est pas un outil de promotion directe.

Du moins, pas tout de suite. La plupart du temps ce sont vos pairs qui vous liront régulièrement ou au mieux d’autres internautes intéressés par le sujet. Le blogue est plus un outil pour communiquer avec ses pairs qu’avec des clients potentiels, à moins que vous ne bloguiez dans un domaine connexe au vôtre…C’est bien normal, l’internet rassemble les gens autour d’idées…Bon, je m’explique…

À long terme, votre sujet intéressera quelqu’un qui est dans le domaine. À moins que ce ne soit quelque chose qui intéresse vos clients de manière constante, il est peu probable que vous serez lu de manière régulière par votre clientèle. L’intérêt d’un client est souvent ponctuel. Il est intéressé le temps de se faire une tête avant d’acheter…Quelqu’un qui exerce le même métier que vous par contre sera probablement abonné à vos écrits si vous êtes suffisamment intéressant et si vous ajoutez de la valeur dans votre domaine.
Par exemple…Vous lisez régulièrement des articles sur les assurances? Pourtant, vous êtes un client potentiel pour des assurances, tout le monde a au moins une assurance. Bien sûr, si vous avez une question spécifique ou vous êtes en période de magasinage, vous aurez un intérêt, le temps de vous faire une tête. Après cependant, vous passerez à autre chose. Les blogueurs dans les assurances qui comptent avoir beaucoup de clients potentiels comme lecteur régulier seront déçus…ils auront plus de courtiers que de clients dans leurs lectorats…et c’est tout a fait normal. Alors, le blogueur dans les assurances qui blogue pour avoir de nouveaux clients se découragera bien vite alors que le blogueur qui écrit sur sa passion des assurances aura plaisir a interagir avec son lectorat compétant.  C’est comme ça dans bien des domaines. Remarquez que ça peut très bien être payant aussi…imaginez qu’un employeur vous fasse une offre exceptionnelle parce qu’il aime vos écrits! Les voies du blogue sont impénétrables parfois…il faut tout de même garder la foi…

Remettre le web 2.0 à sa place

En fait, on revient à l’essentiel de ce qu’est le web social…c’est social. Le mercantile vient de la notoriété qu’on acquiert avec le temps. Par exemple, si vous bloguez sur les voitures, avec le temps vous développerez une certaine notoriété qui emmènera probablement votre lectorat à penser à vous quand viendra le temps d’utiliser les services de quelqu’un comme vous…parce que vous aurez acquis l’estime requise par vos écrits intéressants. Mais ça peut être très long…ne retenez pas votre souffle jusqu’à ce que le téléphone sonne…

C’est un bon complément

Pour votre entreprise, vous devez avoir une stratégie vente et marketing complète qui inclut les moyens traditionnels. Il reste que 95% de ma clientèle est sollicitée directement…S’il fallait que j’attende que mon blogue fasse sonner le téléphone…je serais rachitique tellement j’aurais faim…Bien sûr que c’est un outil intéressant en complément a la sollicitation directe, ça aide à établir la compétence, élément essentiel à la sollicitation directe. Ce que j’essaye de dire ici c’est que le web social devrait faire partie de votre stratégie globale.

En conclusion

Faites-le parce que ça vous tente, parce que vous aimez écrire et communiquer. C’est la seule façon de durer assez longtemps pour que le jeu en vaille la chandelle…Si vous voulez vendre, vous serai mieux servi de prendre le téléphone puis d’appeler des clients potentiels en cold call…la moyenne au bâton sera bien meilleure…

 

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May 14 2010

The Easy Way To Get A Job In Marketing, Advertising And Social Media

Be creative and interesting...

Then, have the skills to deliver and back it up.

Don't forget: that initial creativity also has to carry you through in every waking moment once you get the job/work as well.

Last point: create and tell a great story.

(hat-tip Jeff via Matt).

Tags: advertising creative creativity hr human resources job marketing online video skill social media storytelling the google job experiment work youtube

May 11 2010

Comment convertir vos prospects en clients grâce au marketing

Aujourd’hui je présente le cas d’Acquisio à la journée Big Bang du Forum Commercialisation pour les TIC à Montréal. Il s’agit de montrer comment Acquisio réussi à générer suffisament de leads grâce à ses activités de marketing et aussi grâce à son processus de gestion des leads.

Voici donc ma présentation:

May 10 2010

SEO is a Zero Sum Game

In much the same way that people have developed banner blindness there will be an eventual blindness toward other forms of ads.

People only need to be screwed by a gem like the following about once before they lose trust in sharing *any* personal data with anybody.

The above example is a great example of the scumbag affiliate mindset. Find whatever loopholes in the law exist, and exploit them right up until they are illegal and you risk a fine. If it is profitable enough keep running it until you get fined.

The problem with such exploitative ads is that they ruin the game for everyone. And so the best networks backed by companies who intend to be around for decades typically don't want to run those nasty ads.

The alternative way to build yield is to be more efficient by knowing more. This is part of the reason Google and Facebook are trying so hard to collect as much information as possible AND give each other blowback for their efforts. If you know someone really well and have more data than anyone else then it can be quite hard for others to build a comparable yield. This is true for your own site, but is especially true in terms of creating a distributed ad network.

Distributed ad networks are quite powerful because over time the ad unit can change as personal preference and advertiser preferences change. And with each ad load the network is collecting more data, which can be used to make the network more efficient and price gouge advertisers.

Most online businesses do not aim to operate at the core infrastructural level though, and competition is even more fierce due to a lower barrier to entry. As information is shared publicly people try to clone it precisely (or, at a minimum, create heavily inspired renditions of it). The easier your business model is to clone the more expensive it is to share your information publicly. There are over 1 million AdSense publishers. With Google sharing data down to the page and keyword level that market will get pretty efficient pretty quick.

But techniques and business models can get worn out. Even ad clicks are heavily reliant on vertical and user type. Internet Explorer users have a much higher CTR than more sophisticated web users who are more aware of advertising.

In one market we sent out a few emails to relevant sites by hand and 2 of the 5 people bitched us out because another webmaster with a similar domain name had sent them about 100 emails in the last year, and wouldn't stop even when asked. The technique of investing thousands of Dollars into relevant content and then mentioning it to a few relevant people was, to some degree, killed ... at least in that vertical.

Wherever trust is placed abuse follows, and so we have what Brett Tabke eloquently described as Google's LinkLess Internet:

  • no one links honestly any more.
  • all links are suspect.
  • no one links freely any more.
  • those that do link freely are considered naive.
  • page rank is specifically worth money.
  • links are currency
  • articles that once contained great links - no longer link to story targets.

Google might care more about the damage they have done, but looking the other way has been too profitable. As Brett concluded: "Not by design, but think about this: if you click a link from Google and go to a page, and that page has no interesting off site links - then you are going to turn around and go back to Google."

When trying to organize the web there are always going to be philosophical points of view & business goals that are reflected in the relevancy algorithms. When Google was small and nimble they rooted for the little guy, embraced the affiliates who were their earliest advertisers, and claimed to be a uniquely democratic view of the web. As Google grew they realized that they were near the yield limits of direct marketing, and so they claimed brands are how you sort out the cesspool.

If you build brand you can create new search demand, but for most publishers search is a 0 sum game. For you to win somebody else loses. You are targeting the exact same existing demand as someone else is. It is certainly true for AdSense publishers and affiliates, as well as most other online publishing business models. Even offline publishers are willing to lose money so long as they can bleed dry a strategic competitor.

How are brands responding to Google's call to promote brands? They are exploiting the holes Google is gifting them:

More major media companies are looking for ways to find cheap content. Thomson Reuters, Cox Newspapers and Hachette Filipacchi have run articles supplied by Associated Content, one of several companies, such as Demand Media and AOL's SEED, that mines reporting from masses of freelancers for as little as $5 a story.
...
Though Mr. Keane and his media partners declined to provide details, an executive with knowledge of these deals indicates the media partners have paid anywhere from $75 to $120 per article as well as a share of any related ad revenue.

It gets a bit tiring to say brand is the solution, but water flows downhill. And so if Google wants to promote brands, who wants to promote the business models that have been banned from AdWords? How many second and third chances might you get if Google by default already hates your business model? If you have a term paper writing service that they penalized you are likely down for the count.

As a service provider understanding Google's business objectives helps you understand where it is easiest to build returns. If they already like something then you might only need to give it a small push to get it over the hump. If you are pushing something that Google is moving away from then you are pushing uphill the whole way.

Not every SEO client project makes money. In fact, at the start of new ongoing projects it is a near certainty that both parties start losing money. There is a different approach to each type of business, and it is far easier to be profitable promoting what Google wants to promote.

The same SEO technique is typically worth much more when applied to a strong brand than when applied to a small business. Recently there has been a bunch of GARBAGE misinformation polluting the SEO space about concepts like "the brands hiding on Google." Why? That is where the ad budget is.

Brands can practically fall over the finish line and still win - even with an incompetent SEO practicioner doing the work, so even as Google is promoting brands, SEO firms are lining up to claim brands are not getting a fair shake.

Truth is brands have it easy, and there are tons of ways to bake SEO into other advertising + marketing efforts.

There was a recent Google update which impacted many websites. Googlebot has been going crazy, but as some sites drop others went up. It makes little difference to Google, and they probably prefer to have the results mix up (even if it sacrifices relevancy a bit) because it prevents people from becoming too comfortable.

Part of why Google wants to mix new verticals into the search game is that the more people they have competing against each other the more leverage Google has over the game:

Google says users will be able to buy digital copies of books they discover through its book-search service. It will also allow book retailers—even independent shops—to sell Google Editions on their own sites, taking the bulk of the revenue. Google is still deciding whether it will follow the model where publishers set the retail price or where Google sets retail prices.

Google can be content running at a loss or break even in new verticals because they are buying marketshare which can be used to enhance relevancy. "We're quite comfortable having a diverse range of physical retailers, whereas most of the other players would like to have a less competitive space, because they'd like to dominate." - Dan Clancy. Once they have the marketshare and data, they can ramp up on pricing.

Google also unveiled a new 3 column search result layout, and has no intent of offering a broadly marketed easy way to revert back to the old version. There is a legacy URL that still works, but for how long is anyone's guess. The new search result layout allows searchers to dive deeper into various verticals. And some have speculated that the change to the layout could cost Google some ad clicks, but if it did those losses would be temporary. Many of Google's vertical search services have limited relevancy, and the inline integration in the regular search results was hit or miss (I once saw a Philip M. Parker auto-generated book at #2 in the organic search results for a competitive keyword). :D

But when you think of the types of verticals Google is now promoting, to some degree you could almost think of them as ad channels / categories where Google is buying market data and/or taking a second bite at the apple on monetization to grow the search pie.

  • Where are most videos hosted? Youtube.
  • Discussions? What do most free web forums & QnA websites use to monetize their websites? AdSense.
  • Books? Google Editions is launching in the next couple months.
  • Updates? Google will eventually likely buy Twitter.
  • Product search? Could that eventually tie into the Google affiliate network?
  • Maps & Local? There is an ad for that ;)

If Google knows you want something local or recent then those are just additional dimensions to target ads against. And if many users like vertical x after searching for something then Google can use that usage data to promote that vertical more aggressively in the regular search results. Google can optimize everything from search suggest right on through to ad targeting.

And as paid content models mature, Google's focus on verticals ensures they stay at the heart of the transaction flow, giving them the data needed to improve relevancy and recommend featured paid content.

In the broader sense of marketing, I think the idea that SEO is primarily fulfilling demand is one of the reasons many people dislike the business model. The idea of being one of many shifting choices doesn't sound very exciting to most people, especially if they don't know much about the relevancy algorithms:

in this post industrial information age, if you are just one more entry in an algorithmically defined index, the index algorithm makes even the most amazing employee the digital equivalent of a 1909 Ford production worker. Ford didnt care if you were the most productive in the plant. Google doesnt care if you are the most valued brand in the index. They will assign their own value to you. You are just one more entry into an equation. An equation that you dont have access to.

The bigger issues with simply filling existing demand are that you miss some organic start up opportunities because you are not growing the pie. You miss the transformational business models. You won't create a Paypal or a Skype or a Google with an SEO oriented strategy. And even if it is successful, it can be quite bland and boring as you are not covering new ground:

The technology business is fundamentally the innovation business. Etymologically, the word technology means “a better way of doing things.” As a result, innovation is the core competency for technology companies. Technology companies are born because they create a better way of doing things. Eventually, someone else will come up with a better way. Therefore, if a technology company ceases to innovate, it will die.

These innovations are product cycles. Professional CEOs are effective at maximizing, but not finding, product cycles. Conversely, founding CEOs are excellent at finding, but not maximizing, product cycles. Our experience shows—and the data supports—that teaching a founding CEO how to maximize the product cycle is easier than teaching the professional CEO how to find the new product cycle.

The other big problem when you are just selling existing solutions into existing value systems is that it often means you promote outdated products, hyped crap, and anything that is in a bubble. And if you think otherwise, take a look at the ads on your website and see if they promote the best solutions, or the solutions which produce the highest yield.

All throughout history man has fought for and stole what is his. Some legally gained, some not. But even the legal systems are a reflection of the most profitable business models. It's why Warren Buffet believes that derivatives are financial weapons of mass destruction, except for *when he owns them* ... and it is why no bankers are in jail and bonuses are at record highs when unemployment is still so high. Most the recovery was fraudulent ponzi finance and the individual has to fight for whatever scraps they get. For most people search presents the same type of opportunity as a debt-based finance system, where success seems just within reach, but is not.

I am just as guilty as anyone else on that front, but it does feel good to run at least 1 or 2 websites which aim to have meaning. I just wished they provided as much yield as the other stuff does. :D

As search gets smarter perhaps one day they will!

But for now search is still a zero sum game ;)

Tags: marketing

April 06 2010

Is Clotaire Rapaille Feeding or Failing Marketing?

Last week, brands’ psychoanalyst (sometimes referred as cultural anthropologist) Clotaire Rapaille was fired by the Quebec City mayor Regis Labeaume from his role as a brand management (image) consultant for the city because mainly of curriculum vitae falsifications. The news arrived more than a month after being hired to a $300,000 3-month contract to propose a branding plan for Quebec City. By trying to push too far his own marketing, Clotaire Rapaille completely violated the fundamental principles of personal branding and lost a portion of his credibility. When reading all these stories about Rapaille, one question came off the top of my head: Is Clotaire Rapaille feeding or failing marketing?

Clotaire Rapaille

Clotaire Rapaille

Why is Clotaire Rapaille feeding marketing?

By qualifying himself as an anthropologist, Clotaire Rapaille first reminds me cultural anthropologist Grant McCracken who to my limited knowledge in this field, was one of the first high-end anthropologist marketing consultant to sign lucrative consulting contracts with multinationals (Coca-Cola Company, Diageo, IBM, IKEA, Chrysler, Kraft, and Kimberly Clark). Perhaps the hiring of Clotaire Rapaille is the sign pointing the beginning of an era of lucrative consulting contracts for marketers’ anthropologists. On the academic side, this hiring could reinforce the appeal of cultural anthropology in marketing at the undergraduate and MBA-level, a field led by the York University crew (Russell W. Belk, Eileen Fischer, Robert Kozinets & Detlev Zwick) and growing in importance in the Montreal area (Zeynep Arsel and Annamma Joy at Concordia University and Jonathan Deschênes, Jean-Sébastien Marcoux, Marie-Agnès Parmentier, Yannik St-James at HEC Montréal) and especially at HEC Montréal.

Why is Clotaire Rapaille failing marketing?

By being fired from his consulting contract with Quebec City, Clotaire Rapaille makes marketing sounds like magic in the eyes of the populace, which is completely false. Surely, marketing is not a hard science at the same level as pure mathematics. However, marketers are not magicians or should not claim to be, let magic to mindfreak like Criss Angel. The discipline takes its roots in psychology, anthropology, statistics, economics and computer science, which creates a sexy melting pot. The “science” of marketing is based on empirical generalizations, strong conceptual frameworks and learning-by-doing case studies that lead to best practices.

Magician Criss Angel

Magician Criss Angel

Conclusion

Briefly, one sure thing is that Clotaire Rapaille is a good example of a personal branding failure. However, the Clotaire Rapaille personal branding failure has had negative and positive spillover effects for all those working in the field of marketing in the province of Quebec and perhaps even in North America. What do you think? Any other comments?

Jean-Francois Belisle

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March 24 2010

Stop Adding Me to Your Email Newsletter

letters According to sources, it’s not illegal to add my name to your email newsletter list if you’ve done some kind of business with me in the past. Evidently, this means that it’s perfectly fine to add me to your list if you’ve sent me an email. Ever. Because I’ve gotta tell you: I’m subscribed to a LOT of email newsletters that I didn’t sign up for, and I’m not very pleased with it. To me, it’s spam, whether or not that’s the legal definition.

I’m not sure what to do with this. Unsubscribing is the easy next step, but then what? I sure don’t feel vindicated just by unsubscribing and saying, “I never signed up to begin with” as my reason for leaving. So, to begin, I’m going to write this to all of you, and maybe, you can forward the following to whoever adds you without your request to their email list:


Please Remove Me From Your Email Newsletter

Hello!

You evidently mistook access for acceptance. I seem to be subscribed to your email newsletter, and I’m not interested. Now, I realize there’s a click-to-unsubscribe option, but I wanted a moment of your time, seeing as you ate up some of mine by making me go through the process of unsubscribing myself from your mailing list.

I can tell you’re eager to grow your business. It’s clear that you want incredibly smart and engaging people like me to participate in your world. Here’s a hint: blindly adding me to your email list won’t really win you many fans in that regard.

In fact, you know who you get when you use that method? Lazy people who haven’t bothered hitting unsubscribe yet. And if they’re too lazy to opt out (or even report you as spam), how motivated will they be to buy your product or service? Seems like a waste of your database space to me.

So, I’m going to unsubscribe now, and I’m going to wish you the best with your business. You clearly need it, if you think blindly adding me to your lists will ensure your future success.

Thanks and with appreciation,

_____________.

There You Have It

Share that all you want. Copy it, paste it, reblog it. Whatever. Just let’s get people to stop doing this. Okay?

And if YOU are doing it? Stop. Today. Please? Because I’m getting itchy to out you.

Photo credit Pink Sherbet Photography

March 22 2010

Les gens d’affaires sont confus…


Les gens d’affaires sont confus…

Êtes-vous confus quand vient le temps de prendre des décisions sur votre présence internet? En avez-vous trop lu? Trop entendu?

Des messages contradictoires de vendeurs de toutes sortes on en entend souvent quand on est dans les affaires. Mais je pense que c’est encore pire quand on parle d’internet. Je le vois dans ma pratique, les gens ne savent plus qui croire. C’est devenu difficile de faire la part des choses, il n’y a souvent rien de comparable d’une offre à l’autre. Pas de balises pour comparer, pas de standard…puis les écarts de prix entre les offres sont ridiculement larges. Puis, tout est si négociable!…Un entrepreneur aguerri aura vite fait de couper de moitié l’offre d’un vendeur itinérant!…C’est n’importe quoi…pas sérieux du tout.

Il y a une tendance en ce moment qui me dégoute particulièrement. Certains vendeurs peu scrupuleux fonts du porte à porte dans des quartiers industriels pour vendre des sites internet. Leurs buts sont d’arracher le plus d’argent possible pour un site internet insipide, pas référençable, fait en série, à partir d’un modèle tout fait acheté à 30 $. J’ai vu des gens payer trois à cinq mille dollars pour un site fait en une journée…C’est indécent…Les promesses qu’ils font aussi sont indécentes…

Comment est-ce qu’on arrivera à mettre de l’ordre dans cette industrie? Comment pouvons-nous harmoniser les compétences de manière à promouvoir un climat de confiance? Je n’en peux plus de voir les gens arnaqués de la sorte.

Le pire dans ça c’est que certains intervenants internet le font de bonne foi (ce sont rarement des vendeurs itinérants, mais plutôt des beaux frères, des amis..) …il leur manque juste les compétences…ils ne sont pas à jour…ou sont simplement dépassés par la technologie. On ne fait plus des sites internet comme on le faisait en 2000…

Bon, maintenant que j’ai ventilé…voici quelques recommandations :

  • N’achetez jamais, jamais, jamais un site internet
    Ce n’est pas la bonne chose à faire. On n’achète pas un site internet comme on achète une annonce dans les pages jaunes. Ça ne marche juste pas comme ça. Attendez plutôt d’être prêt a vous lancer d’une manière structurée dans une stratégie de présence/mise en marché internet. Un site internet tout seul, statique, qu’on n’entretient pas au jour le jour, ne donne rien. Arrêtez de perdre votre argent.
  • Un itinérant, jamais…
    Un vendeur (ou pire une jolie vendeuse) non sollicité qui se présente chez vous pour vous vendre un site internet…Fuyez!…Dites-lui simplement que vous en avez déjà un…il n’a probablement aucune idée de qui vous êtes de toute manière…
  • La première chose dont vous avez besoin c’est un plan
    Pas un site internet. Peut-être que le plan contiendra un site internet!…Peut-être pas…L’internet n’est qu’un moyen de communiquer votre valeur ajoutée à vos clients. Ne confondez pas le message et le moyen. Si le message n’est pas bon, le moyen de diffusion ne le changera pas…ce sera juste un mauvais message bien diffusé…
  • Accueil – Produit – Service – Qui nous sommes – Nous joindre
    Oubliez ça complètement…Plus inutile que ça comme site internet de nos jours ça ne se peut pas.  Je l’ai tu dit d’arrêter d’acheter des sites internet?
  • Votre petit neveu fait des sites web
    Tant pis pour vous…c’est le slogan de NoFoLo de Québec. J’aime bien le Techno Blogue à Steph…Il a bien raison, tant pis pour vous si vous traitez votre image et votre marque comme une tonte de pelouse a 15 piastres.

Quand vous serez prêt (quand VOUS serez prêt) à emboiter le pas vers l’internet, faites-le en extension à votre stratégie de marketing. Vous en avez une stratégie de marketing? Non! Alors, avant de payer pour un site internet plate, payez-vous donc une bonne stratégie marketing….Ensuite, étendez-la sur l’internet ou elle pourra éclore et bonifier votre marque. Ma quoi? Oui, votre marque…vous en faites quoi de votre marque?

Est-ce que je l’ai dit d’arrêter d’acheter des sites internet?

Dans un même ordre d’idée…Voyez Référencement, 4 raisons qui font que vos jeans sont trop serrés Un autre super article de Louis Durocher chez Orenoque…

 

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March 20 2010

Keyword Spy Review

Keyword Spy Logo

Keyword Spy offers 3 different accounts.

  • Research
  • Tracking
  • Professional

The countries available within a Keyword Spy account are:

Keyword Spy Country List

No other competitor really comes close to the breadth of their country offerings.

Keyword Spy Research Account

Keyword Spy's Research account gives you access to the following data

  • PPC Ads (ad copy, the keyword, estimated search volume, estimated CPC, the position last seen of an ad and it's average position, total days seen/days checked. You can also see the ad url and destination url of the ad in addition to other keywords being bid on for that particular ad, as well as an estimated ROI.
  • PPC Keywords - showing individual keywords, ROI, search volume, CPC, total profitable ads, affiliate ads on that keyword, days seen, last/first seen
  • Organic Keywords - showing individual keywords, position in the SERPS, total search results, estimated CPC, and the URL
  • Competitors in PPC and Organic results.
  • Sub-domains

Domain Overview

The research portion does *not* include organic or PPC overlap coverage, which kind of stinks especially when you consider the price point they charge.

You get access to their Top 1000 sites and keyword reports which can be previewed here.

You can search by keyword as well. A Keyword search will show you:

  • PPC Ad Copies with Keyword in them
  • Up to 1000 related Keywords
  • Misspelled Keywords
  • PPC Competitors
  • Organic Competitors

Keyword Search Overview

You can filter with these metrics but you can only apply 1 filter to the results at a time. Which can be bothersome if you are doing large scale research as they limit the exported data to 50,000 keywords.

Research Account Metrics

  • ROI- they compute this as (Days Seen*Percentage Seen/Number of Days Seen since Last Seen). Below is a screen shot of their formula. Again, this is based on the assumption that the PPC advertiser is shrewd and on top of things. I don't particularly care for this metric. ROI to person A can be much different than ROI to person B for a variety of reasons.
  • Keyword Spy ROI Picture

  • First/Last Seen- Last seen is the last day KS saw the ad (they scan daily) and First Seen shows the first day KS saw the ad (I believe its back to August of 09 as of this writing).
  • Profitable Ads - Ads that are profitable based on their internal metrics (like ROI and such) out of total number of ads.
  • Affiliate Ads - Ads that are affiliate ads (based on destination url) out of total ads found.

Screen shot of PPC keyword tab showing the above mentioned metrics:

Keyword Spy PPC Keyword Tab

Keyword Spy's Tracking Account

The Tracking account option gives you real time tracking in Google, Yahoo, and Bing for your PPC and Organic campaigns. This can be useful in checking out your coverage and competition across all three engines. You can also benchmark your data with the competition's scraped data.

Of course, the question is do YOU want your campaigns being monitored by a spy tool that makes its money but showing advertisers their competition's organic and PPC data?? :-)

You can read about more of their tracking/alert/coverage type options here, but outside of tracking and coverage you get:

  • Landing Page Intelligence - shows current landing page, ad copy, and destination URL for a particular landing page.
  • Landing page intelligence

  • Organic and PPC overlap data (only between 2 sites) and quite frankly, this is much more research than tracking and should really be included in the research account IMO.
  • Benchmarking in PPC/Organic Listings (below is a screen shot of the organic one, they are fairly similar)
  • Organic Benchmarking

So the tracking account is really more for tracking your campaigns across the 3 big PPC engines with some nifty benchmarking and gap analysis features but I don't see it as being overly useful for smaller PPC advertisers, although the coverage options might be a good fit for those in competitive markets across Google, Yahoo, and Bing. In general, Spy Tools aren't all that great at looking into smaller sites and markets simply because the resources required to be accurate with somewhat sparse data would be overkill and far to costly. This is why I do not really feel the tracking option is going to be a good fit outside of pretty big PPC advertisers.

Professional Account

The Pro account combines the Research and Tracking account features (up's the overall trackable keywords, export limit, and query limit) plus gives you access to a couple new features:

  • Affiliate Intelligence
  • Affiliate Reports

Affiliate Intelligence

This tool gives you access to look at products and ads being used by 132 affiliate networks.

Affiliate Intelligence

You can click through on any network and be shown their offers by URL with searchable affiliate ads for those products.

Affiliate Reports gives you access to big players in the affiliate marketing space such as CJ, LinkShare, Clickbank, ShareAsale, etc. Here you can access top affiliate products and top affiliates by product id and affiliate id respectively. You can also use affiliate product and affiliates id's to search in the destination URL field to try and find additional products/ads they may be promoting.

Affiliate Reports

Keyword Spy mentions something about "Anti-cloaking" technology but they do not elaborate on it. However, color me skeptical that these affiliate options are able to uncover properly cloaked links by top affiliates. So while this may be good for help in looking at potential affiliate products, as well as finding affiliates who do not cloak their links, I'm really not overly impressed with these features but they can be somewhat useful when first starting out.

In Closing

Keyword Spy is a feature rich membership and they have a deep database. For me, if I had to pick just one tool I would opt for either SemRush or SpyFu as both supply solid PPC/SEO competitive intel at a much more reasonable price. Although, if I were a serious PPC player their tracking account might be quite nice (still have reservations about giving a spy tool company my campaign data though.

Tags: marketing
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