The Brand Week feature article Going Whole Hog on Blogs poses the question to businesses To Blog or Not to Blog? And provides great insight into the allure and fear that blogs present to corporate America.
I am not so sure that blogs are the answers for all businesses, but the article clearly points out that the messages that were once so controlled by marketers and media no longer are. The closing quote from Todd Copilevitz, the director of digital media at Omnicom Group's TracyLocke- "The control is shifting whether we want it to or not."
How the media and marketers adapt to this changing environment will be interesting to watch.
There is a great post from Jason Calacanis on the ethics of Blogging. While I believe that the evolution of blogs is very fertile ground for businesses to engage consumers on a 1:1 level, the idea only works if the space, the ideas and the communications are real. While is is scary to think that you have to give up total controll of the messages about your business, as soon as a you start manipulating the content or editing out all messages that are less than glowing, the space will have as much credibility as a sales brochure. Integrity and honesty have to come first if you hope to attract and retain visitors.
Jeff Jarvis of Buzz Machine, has a post on how the Bush Campaign used market segmentation to get their message to voters. There are some interesting comments on the post as well. The bottom line is that marketers and politicians have to be personally relevant to their audience.
In 2004, Both parties developed massive e-mail databases and flooded their supporters with e-mails, direct mail and phone calls. The campaign introduced millions of people to blogs- and engaged an army of bloggers on both sides of the isle to share information, ideas and commentary.
The election of 2008 will be one or lost based on the candidates ability to connect with voters on a 1:1 basis. I predict that the market segmentation strategies that were used in this election combined with the massive databases and continued technological advances will enable candidates to get much closer to individual 1:1 conversations. Canidates will be able to communicate on and individual level to voters about the specific issues that are important to them.
I would also bet that the candidates that are running for office in 2006 and those considering a run for the White House in 2008 are already working to make this a reality
I just re-explored my old copy of Generations: The History of America's Future by Neil Howe and William Strauss. This is probably the most valuable marketing book that I have ever read. For the past eight or so years I have reviewed the book on a regular basis and it is now full of bookmarks, highlights and sticky notes. To get an idea of the crystal ball that the authors take you through, in Chapter 13 - Completing The Millennial Cycle, Strauss and Howe talk about the possibility of an anti-American terrorist group planting a nuclear bomb in New York City. The book was published in 1991. The authors take you through every generation of Americans from 1584 to 2069 and chronical the re-occuring trends that have impacted Americans in regular intervals through the course of our history. This is a facinating book and I reccomend it along with Straus and Howe's follow-ups, MIllienials Rising and The Fourth Turning. You can also check out their website The Forth Turning.
Interesting article from the Sacramento Bee. It seems that the network news presidents of NBC, CBS and ABC were together at a recent forum discussing the election exit poll confusion and the state of the industry. The most revealing quote came from David Westin of ABC News-
"There is an explosion in the number of news and quasi-news outlets and it goes into the Internet, it goes into broadband, streaming video, it's now on cell phones ... and those of us in network news have to recognize that," Westin said. "Technology is making it possible that the audience wants us to come to them, instead of making them coming to us which is traditionally what network news has done."
The fact is we no longer live in a world where you get your information on the evening news and in the mornings paper. Information is spreading at the blink of an eye and the traditional news sources are struggling to remain relevant. Without relevance they will quickly lose eyeballs and the revenue stream that comes with them.
With all of the talk about new marketing tools and the power of blogs as vehicles to communicate to interested individuals, it was interesting to come across two separate blogs talking about the basics of communication and sales techniques. Ducttape Marketing blog has a post on voice mail marketing and a post on b2bblog discussing the basics of customer aftercare - Simple things like personal notes and thank you letters.
The internet and blogs are fantastic tools but they do not change the fundamentals of effective communication.
I was doing a little exploring last tonight and found Revolution Magazine -no relation-and saw an article on camera phones and their potential to impact marketing efforts.
There is no question that #1 The market for cellphones equiped with cameras is exploding. According to Newsday it is extimated that there are over 170 million cell phone/cameras in the US and worldwide shipments are up 64% in 2004. And #2 it appears that the vast majority of people that have a camera phone use it somewhat regularly. What are they doing with them? Browsing through moblogs -they are taking pictures and capturing their experiecnces and sharing them with their friends and family. Take a look at buzznet.com - a mobloging community- their motto is Shoot, Send, Share- and you will see that people are capturing the images and emotions of their daily lives- work, friends, family, food.... Here is a nice moblog 101 article from the Digital Photography Blog.
The camera photo craze is not just limited to the younger set. This afternoon I watched as a 50 something business executive snapped off several photos with his cell phone while touring a construction site.
The application of camera phones has huge potential in an integrated marketing effort. It is not that all of these 170 million+ people are blogging, or mobloging, they are capturing their lives and sharing them with people that care.
The three principles of a viral marketing campaign- according to the VBMA are to:
a) identify only those people who will be interested in a particular marketing message,
b) deliver the message to them in a way that makes it an enjoyable or valuable experience,
c) provide it in a manner that encourages them to share it with others
These camera phones are going to be a powerful tool enabling organizations to create buzz and business.
I don't think so. Advertising on blogs will dip after the mad rush of political advertising that beat us all over the head in every conceivable medium, but my bet is that it will come back faster than many may think. Marketing Vox News points to the relative value of blog advertising, but the real value that blog advertising offers - and very few other media outlets can can match- is the inherent relevence that blogs have to their communities. This new medium that allows marketers to communicate to involved and engaged consumers on a 1:1 basis will be a mainstay in the next generation of marketing.
Sure you have to advertise on a ton of sites to reach a measurable audience. It takes a lot more research and digging to find the right blogs and there are not a lot of outlets that will do the homework for you. That said, blogs are going to continue to expand exponentially -in the sheer number of blogs and their combined traffic numbers. Entrepreneurial companies will fill the void and make it easier to advertise on blogs and smart marketers will jump on board.