Category Archives: Marketing

Content Rules – The iBook

If your content is easy to find/attain/purchase/etc, chances are you’ll succeed. This post is sort of a pre-review of a new book I bought called Content Rules. The main point of this post is to tell the story of how quickly I discovered and purchased the book.

I was getting caught up on past episodes of the “Marketing Over Coffee” marketing podcast and came upon the special interview with CC Chapman episode. CC was on to discuss his recent book co-authored with Ann Handley, the aforementioned “Content Rules”. CC put on a great interview, as he always does, and I am really excited to read the book.

Towards the end of the interview CC mentioned all the places you can buy the book, one of them being the iTunes store. The interview ended as I was pulling into my driveway. I unplugged the iPhone from the car stereo, opened iBook, searched for “Content Rules”, purchased for $9.99. By the time I was walking in the door, the book was downloaded and opened for reading. Can’t get much easier than that!

I’ll be sure to post a review here once I am done reading (or while).

Corporate Blogging

In my day job I work for an online home furnishings retailer OrientalFurniture.com. We are in the process of upgrading our ecommerce platform and redesigning the site to provide new functionality and an updated look and feel.

We are currently rebranding and carrying out our new marketing efforts and one key aspect is our new Interior Design blog. This new blog will focus on Asian Style with categories for Buying Guides, Style Tips and Cultural Spotlights.

This blog will be a lot different to manage than my personal blogs as it will be the blogging persona of our company. Also it is a blog in a traditional industry. Hopefully the niche interior design angle will let it standout and allow us to create unique content.

Stay tuned ;)

The Hidden Secret of PodCamps

PodCamp is what you make it. If you simply go to the sessions and keep to yourself, you won’t get much more out of it then if you had read through a few blog recaps of the event. The attendee list is full of friendly and approachable people just waiting to share ideas and grow their network.

I have to disclose that I only attended a 1/2 day on Saturday and a 3/4 day on Sunday due to being a loyal husband and loving father. (In case my wife reads this blog). But in that time I met some great people and learned a thing or two about social media, branding, SEO and networking.

Sessions I Attended

Sessions I Wish I Attended

  • What is Seesmic?  – Phillipe Lejeune
  • “Making the Case for Social Media: Compelling Information to Deliver to Skeptics and Loved Ones Alike” – Ben Grossman and Marta Kagan
  • Academic Technology – Kabren Levinson
  • Social Media Marketing is not Evil – Matt Peters
  • Breaking Into the Conversation, Busting the Cliques – Leslie Poston
  • SEO 101 – Srikar Nagubandi
  • Integrating User Generated Content into Your Marketing and Sales Mix – John Wall
  • Marketing Over Coffee with David Meerman Scott, John Wall, and Christopher Penn
  • Spam in Social Media: Lessons Learned from Email – Kee Hinckley
  • Email Marketing’s Role in New Media – Greg Cangialosi

Networking/Mingling Recap

So a big Thank You to the presenters and organizers of PodCamp Boston 3 for making this event great. Your hard-work and dedication to the event is much appreciated.

Thanks Twitter Friends!

People always talk about the power of twitter, it’s ability to effect change (through grassroots fund raising) and mass distribution of info (see California Firefighters) among them. But when I sent out a tweet minutes after my daughter Ella was born I received some quick congratulations from people I have never met face-to-face (but hope to some day).

So Thank You to all who have given congrats and well wishes on what is by far the most exciting time in our lives. And for a quick update, mom and Ella are doing great. We have a pretty good system down so far and have been able to get our sleep in when we can. This is all subject to change from what I have heard ;)

SEO/SEM for Nonprofits: Interview with Aaron Wall

I recently had the opportunity to exchange questions via email with Aaron Wall of SEOBook.com on a topic of my choosing in the area of Search Engine Marketing/Search Engine Optimization. My topic was how nonprofits can leverage search engine optimization and marketing tools to further their cause.

[ Geoff ] The recent announcement of the Google Grants program will certainly help level the playing field for non-profits. Could you tell me in your opinion just how important the Google Grants program will be for non-profits from an SEM standpoint?

[ Aaron ] The one area where Google Grants will help bring in direct revenues is for some fake charities set up to push business interests, where people donate valuable goods that get auctioned off in order to receive a tax break. Donate your car offers come to mind, because the tax loophole makes many people donating not care who gets the donation. Some donors may even shop for the maximum write off potential.

But for real charities, I think Google Grants should help them somewhat on an awareness front, but not to directly achieve donations…more to help them bring about awareness of issues that they support. Many non-profits have enough link equity that if they use some of the leading keyword research tools, use clarity in their language, and then make sure they optimize their page titles to focus on issues like world hunger, starving children, etc. that they should be able to get exposure for the issues. Then if people decide they care about those issues and how the non-profit wants to address them then they may donate and/or subscribe.

[ Geoff ] On SEOBook.com you have an article called “101 Link Building Tips to Market Your Website”. Do you feel there are certain link building methods on that list that are more important to non-profits than others methods? Would you revise that list at all for non-profits or do they apply across the spectrum of businesses and industries?

[ Aaron ] I think that even more than with other issues, non-profits tend to be budget limited and fight some of the more destructive elements of corporate externalities.

Given their limited capital (and the vast capital of some competing forces in many markets) non-profits really need to connect to people on an emotional level. They need to make people enraged or concerned, and they need to turn their readers/watchers/learners into teachers to help spread their message.

Here are 6 concepts stemming from that idea

  1. Syndicate content on sites like YouTube, like UNICEF did. This does 4 powerful things:
    • Video content is quite captivating, and helps make the invisible visible (see the above UNICEF video)
    • YouTube is a high authority site which has a lot of viewers
    • YouTube foots the bandwidth bill
    • Embeddable videos are easy to spread…and make your message go viral
  2. Use newsletters and create a central blog people can subscribe to.
  3. Some non-profits may even want to encourage guest bloggers from outsiders who really are passionate about the organization.
  4. Outside of videos it helps to have other widgets too…sites like Kiva allow donors to become the marketers by syndicating a widget to their website.
  5. Get people to feel involved in the process…let them feel ownership. I recently saw Brave New Films allow people to sponsor a message in the movie. Of course anyone who does that not only helps pay for the film, but they will also buy a copy, and watch it with their friends.
  6. If possible try to sell media or other goodies in pairs to try to get people to share it with friends. Host bring a friend nights, etc.

I appreciate and thank Aaron taking the time to answer my questions. You can learn more about Aaron and SEO/SEM at SEOBook.com

“Good People Day” 04-03-2008

Gary Vaynerchuk (from Wine Library TV) has marked today, April 3 2008 as “Good People Day”. The point behind it is to sing the praises of “good people” through your communication vehicle of choice: blog, twitter, pownce, facebook, etc.

Now, this assumes that you are creating media in those channels. If you aren’t, then take the time to talk about or make a recommendation for these “good people”. People that are doing good things in your community whether it is a physical place or an online community.

If you want an example of who I think is “good people” and really helping out communities that I am a part of then please visit these people. If you like what they are saying please let THEM know about it. It’s not an exhaustive list but these people are doing great things:

Teach an Old Marketing Dog New Media Tricks

If you were to help bring an old-world marketing person into the new world of social media, how would you do it? What would you tell them? With so many great minds out there sharing their knowledge with all of us, many of what you would need to tell them has already been said.

I would like to work with a few close friends in the old-world of marketing to help bring them forward. Get them into the fishbowl with the rest of us and try to shatter this thing (as CC Chapman would say!).

Here is a list of the marketing blogs and podcasts that I currently follow:

And here is my challenge:

To the community: I challenge you to fill in the gaps above. While they are all brilliant, I can’t be smart enough to have compiled a complete list.

To the bloggers and podcasters: What is your one or two best posts or episodes that would really explain the fundamental shift towards social media, networks, etc. that is currently happening?

“Join the Conversation” Review

Join the Conversation BookI have just completed the book Join the Conversation by Joseph Jaffe and as someone new to the Marketing and New Media space it certainly was an eye opener. Jaffe’s first book Life after the 30-second Spot ‘reveals how today’s brightest marketers are using new tactics to engage consumers and new avenues to take the place of TV, radio, and print’ (from the books website). Join the Conversation takes a similar approach and reveals ways brands and companies can reach consumers that are already fed-up or blind to traditional marketing techniques.

I first came upon Join the Conversation as part of Jaffe’s Use New Marketing to Prove New Marketing campaign (UNM2PNM for short). In UNM2PNM, Jaffe offered this book for free to individuals willing to read it and give it an honest review. He wanted to use the marketing techniques is his books to prove their own effectiveness, turning the book into it’s own case study. This is a pretty bold move as the reviewers are free to disagree with him and criticize his hard work. But after reading the book, I realized that it is a case of ‘eating ones own dog food‘, that Jaffe stands behind his work and feels confident that you will find value in it.

The biggest takeaway for me is that as a marketer (or brand manager, public relations, etc) you truly need to engage your customers as honestly as possible. This can be as simple as starting a blog and allowing comments on your corporate website, to one of several interesting techniques used by brands described in Jaffe’s book…sorry no spoilers here! But the key is that it is done honestly with no contrived conversations.

Jaffe incorporates this exact technique as the embodiment of the book where he references and provides a web link to posts on Jaffe Juice or the books website to get certain points across. The beauty of this technique is that you, as the consumer of the book, are free to follow that link and formulate your own opinion. If you disagree (or agree for that matter) you can post a comment and let him know. How’s that for opening the lines of communication between brand and consumer!

A Tale of Two Customer Service Experiences

Red RoseIt wasn’t too long after reading about James’ horrible Walmart customer service experience that my wife told me of her great experience with Winston Flowers.

The gist of the Walmart fiasco is that James, a blogger over at Men with Pens, bought what turned out to be a defective Kodak camera from Walmart as a gift for his daughter. While trying to return the camera he experienced some pretty poor customer service. From policy changes barring him from returning the camera to just flat out poor service it is pretty clear that James will take his future business elsewhere.

Compare that with the customer service my wife received from Winston Flowers. For Valentines Day I bought her a red rose flower arrangement and had it delivered to her office. After they were delivered she called to thank me and to tell me how beautiful they were.

Later in the day she received a call from Winston’s to ask how she liked the arrangement. She told them how beautiful they were and that she was very happy with the presentation. She mentioned that one or two of the roses in the back of the arrangement had some blackened edges presumably from frost. The customer service rep asked if she would be in the office all day and that they would like to send over another arrangement!

Later that day, Winston’s delivered the same arrangement, vase and all, to my wife with their apologies. If you are unfamiliar with Winston Flowers, they are high quality flowers, i.e.: expensive. In the name of customer service, they had no issue with sending over a complimentary $90 arrangement to try to secure a customer for life.

Well done Winston Flowers, well done.

Does Dodge “Get” Conversation?

I am starting to realize a lot of conversational marketing now as I am reading Join the Conversation by Joseph Jaffe and one in particular that I watched last night. I was in my PJ’s with no pen/paper so take my recollection for what it’s worth! I will continue to look for the ad on YouTube and the Dodge website, it doesn’t seem to be available just yet.

The commercial starts with two individuals we are to assume work for Dodge designing cars. They are working at a drawing table and there is a car sketch on a board behind them. In from the left and behind walks an average woman we are to assume does not work for Dodge. She walks right up to the car sketch, picks up the marker and scribbles swirls around the back tires and wind lines off the back to indicate motion.

The designers turn to her and say, paraphrasing “So your saying it needs a bigger engine?”.

To me, this indicates that Dodge understands the two way street that is the conversational marketing Joseph speaks of in his book. They are showing us a “conversation” (albeit a contrived one since it was a staged commercial with actors and a script) between the consumer and the design staff for the car the consumer is interested in if it only had a bit more power.

What do you think?