Marketing|Demand Creation Blog: Thoughts on strategy, lead optimization, social media and the digital space

Monday, March 28, 2005

Blogs for Business: Walking the Thin Line of Credibility

For a while now the topic of blogs and bloggers has been a mainstream media favorite. Perhaps its attraction is the freedom of speech it seems to have unleashed. Or maybe its the way this “disruptive technology” has overturned the traditional ways we used to get the news: bloggers are scooping traditional reporters and bringing a special uncensored perspective from the frontlines of world trouble spots — from first hand Southeast Asia Tsunami blog reporting to the Iraq “warblogging” of Kevin Sites. Or maybe its allure is simply that it has enabled our “inner-publisher” to emerge. This is all great stuff, but what’s really exciting to me as a marketer are the untapped possibilities to use blogs in business.

Some forward-thinking companies are beginning to realize the business potential of blogs. In these early days, while there are legal, compliance and intellectual property challenges only just coming to light regarding the use of blogs, industry heavyweights from Bob Lutz (Vice Chairman) at GM to Randy Baseler (VP Marketing) at Boeing, to Werner Vogels (CTO) at Amazon are nevertheless launching their own business blogs. Of course, the true value of blogs in business is as another tool in the marketer’s kit to form stronger relationships with customers and other company stakeholders. But there’s a thin line to walk, as the now infamous Dr. Pepper “Raging CowGate” story tells. Efforts to subvert the medium to simply hawk a new product will eventually be exposed. At best these missteps will be viewed as the actions of clueless corporate suits and at worst they could be seen as deliberate attempts to deceive the consumer — either way causing more harm than good to the brand.

To add value, any medium from print, to broadcast, to a webblog, must have its unique properties fully leveraged. In the case of blogs, it’s the immediacy and 1-on-1 candor that make it such a powerful tool for talking to customers like regular people rather than company to customer. A well-executed business blog has the potential, as part of a multi-channel marketing and communications plan, to position the company as a thought-leader in its space, to set it apart from the competition, and in times of crisis put a human face on communications. Nevertheless, an online poll by BtoB Magazine says that 56% of companies have not launched a weblog and only 24% plan to do so in 2005. It seems the landscape is ripe for companies to distinguish themselves in this area by taking a calculated risk to walk the thin line of credibility and launch a business blog. I look forward to watching what develops.

Nash, Jim. “Look Who’s Blogging.” Information Week. March 7, 2005. pg. 47-52
Foley, John. “The Weblog Question: BL©GS” Information Week. January 31, 2005. pg.39-42
“Has Your Organization Launched a Weblog?” BtoB Magazine. January 17, 2005. pg 10
Joseph Mann Monday, March 28, 2005 Permalink | 0 comments |

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Behavioral Targeting, Morphing Taxis and the World of Minority Report

In my 1/19/05 post, “Marketer’s Dream, Privacy Wonk’s Nightmare: IPTV Coming Soon…ish,” I talked about the marketing promise and associated privacy fears of Internet-enabled, truly targeted TV advertising. Now it seems we’re just a little closer to the advertising future depicted in the movie Minority Report with the February 2005 issue of CMO Magazine reporting Clear Channel’s rollout of “Smart Tops” — Flash animated ad boards starting to appear atop some metro taxi cabs. At first, the LCD ad displays sound just like splashy updates to the printed standard, but what the article goes on to reveal is the system’s ability to integrate GPS technology, allowing ad targeting to the cab’s home base area demographics. This is pretty amazing stuff, opening the potential to serve a customized ad to a particular sales territory, neighborhood profile or local dialect. Its just one example of behavioral targeting (using technology to show advertising triggered by a user’s recent online web surfing habits) that is spilling over from the online to the real world.

Another article, “Location, Location, Location” (March 2005 CMO Magazine) touched on the back end tracking mechanisms of behavioral targeting, explaining how geolocation software is being used by the likes of online retailers, banks and other businesses to discern the geographic location of their online visitors. Privacy fears aside, in a world where we’re visually assaulted daily by thousands of ad impressions of little relevance to us and when more than 90% of email in the next 5 years is projected to be spam, overall this technology and behavioral targeting practices in general could be a good thing for marketers and consumers alike. I know I certainly don’t mind smart promotions properly targeted to my interests and needs.

With some media companies claiming only 8 to 10% of the total ad impressions they deliver are behaviorally targeted, there’s a lot of untapped potential for this technology to better serve customers and optimize marketing investment in campaigns to drive new business.

Moore, Meg Mitchell. “Location, Location, Location.” CMO Magazine. March 2005, pg 13
Shein, Esther. “Wherever You Go, There They Are.” CMO Magazine. March 2005, pg 59
Caggiano, Christopher. “These Taxis Hail You.” CMO Magazine. February 2005, pg 14
Joseph Mann Sunday, March 20, 2005 Permalink | 0 comments |

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Online Video Ads Can Drive Brand Awareness AND Support Lead Generation

A recent study by Internet research company Dynamic Logic shows that ads using audio and video create greater brand awareness with less frequency of exposure than other online ad formats. This is not surprising considering that learning professionals have long understood the power of video content in combination with other media to aid in message retention and learning. What is surprising is that according to the study, a single exposure to an audio/video ad increased brand awareness by 10 percentage points versus a 468x60 “leader board” banner ad’s ability to gain 6% only after 10 exposures. When one also factors in video’s significant increases in Message Association, Brand Favorability and Purchase Intent, as indicated in the report, it is surprising that more companies are not pushing more of their budgets into video advertising over other media buys.

However, in today’s business environment where executives are demanding greater marketing accountability, boosting the intangible aspects of a brand’s performance — its Touchpoint Metrics — while important, are no longer enough. In order to influence financial results, true value needs to be delivered to the target audience to move prospects further along the sales cycle. Just as in the early days of the internet “brochureware” business sites did little for the bottom line and were eventually replaced by customer-centric web sites that leveraged the interactive advantages of the Web, repurposing existing 30 second TV spots for playback on the web does not provide much added value.

The real potential for success lies in combining video custom shot and edited for the Web with interactive landing pages and microsites as part of integrated, multi-channel marketing campaigns. My own experience in this area included the creation of a series of segments produced for my former employer on outsourced pharmaceutical sales & marketing services called “PDI TV.” Short, interview-format segments with senior company executives on industry topics were developed for Web delivery and integrated not only into the public Web site but also nearly every other landing page built for a specific marketing campaign.

Each PDI TV clip received nearly 1,000 views during a 6-month period and more than 92% of the visitors viewed at least one clip. Clearly not only was brand awareness being built, but during this time lead volume increased from 3 per week to an average of 23 leads per week. I believe the key to this success is due at least in part to ensuring that video on the Web is less about promotional advertising and more about showing prospects information they can use to move their businesses forward. Providing this information not only positions you as a thought-leader in the industry, but also builds trust, laying the foundation for the long-term success of your customer relationships.
Joseph Mann Sunday, March 06, 2005 Permalink | 0 comments |