What Would Google Do?

One of the ways we make our clients’ lives easier is by reading and studying the latest marketing trends and then synthesizing them into actionable strategies and tactics. This way, we can help our clients keep up with the massive amount of information flying their way.  In fairness to my partners at AR, they often do come up with original thinking and ideas.  For me,  it only happens once in a very long while.  Most of the time I gather the best practices and strategies out there and tweak them so our clients can apply them to their businesses and industries.  It’s a win/win – they get a medley of the best that is available and I don’t have to over-tax my brain.

To this end, over the next few months I will be sharing some insights I’ve been gleaning from some leading thinkers and writers on marketing and social media/networking.

The first book I want to talk about is What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis, which I read (actually listened to, courtesy of Audible.com) over the holidays.  It will definitely influence some of our marketing strategies for clients in 2010.  To make life really easy (which is what the Internet is all about), before starting to discuss it, here is an excellent summary you can peruse to familiarize yourself with it.

Please share your thoughts once you’ve had a chance to check out the summary.

View more documents from Steven Zwerink.

New FTC Internet Marketing Guidelines–Pay Close Attention

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently approved new guidelines with respect to certain aspects of online marketing. These guidelines represent administrative interpretations concerning the application of Section 5 of the FTC Act (15 U.S.C. 45) regarding the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising, and are intended to prevent and eliminate deceptive practices. You can view the new FTC guidelines here – http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/10/endortest.shtm

While many of our clients are Canadianbased companies, a significant number of them market their products and services online to USbased customers and should therefore play close attention to these rules. As a first step, if you have an internal legal department, have it take a look at your current online practices.  If you don’t have an internal team, you may want to check with your legal counsel. Testimonials and endorsements are powerful tools in any marketer’s arsenal.  When used ethically, they can add significant equity to your brand.  Read the new guidelines and make sure your company is onside. If you have already done so, please share your insights by leaving us a comment.

For an excellent post on this, check out New York Times best selling author Joel Comm’s blog at – http://www.joelcomm.com/new_ftc_rules_for_testimonials_1.html

One last thing before you post: Editing best practices

There is a new level of immediacy in so many of the written marketing communications vehicles we use today – including blogs, micro-blogs, and Web sites you can update with the click of a button. Your thoughts can be “out there” in an instant. And sometimes that’s not such a good thing.

Here are five levels of editing you can apply to any piece of writing that will maintain your credibility online:

1.    The content. Save your message and walk away from it for at least five or ten minutes, or longer if you can. Then re-read your message from an objective perspective. Is this what you meant to say? Could it be easily misunderstood or inflame controversy? Controversy is not necessarily a bad thing, nor can you always predict it, but it’s helpful to be as prepared as you can.
2.    The spelling and typing. Use your computer’s spell checker to catch any typos or other errors. Reading your message aloud (see the next point) can also help with words that are commonly mixed up (e.g., here and hear). If you’re not sure, look it up.
3.    The grammar and readability. Read your message out loud and ensure your words flow and make sense. Don’t try to combine too many ideas in the same sentence. Run-on sentences make it too hard for your reader to stay with you.
4.    The density. Break up long paragraphs so they are just one or two sentences each. Use lists to highlight key information and to allow the reader to scan through your message.
5.    The framework. Introduce your message, make your point, and then conclude your message.

Remember that just because you CAN share your thoughts with people around the world in an instant doesn’t mean that you SHOULD. So click the pause button before you click the send button, and practice these basic editing tips.