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.

Is Social Media for Real?

A good number of our clients have been rolling out social media initiatives over the last year or are in the process of doing so.  These initiatives include blogs, podcasts and social networking.

We also hear regularly from clients who are considering initiatives but are still unsure about the effectiveness and staying power of this particular marketing channel.  One of the most frequent questions we hear:  Is this social media thing for real and should be deploying our resources to leverage it?  To answer this question I will direct you to some stats that were sent to us by a friend of ours, who herself is a savvy marketer. Check it out here: http://socialnomics.net/2009/08/11/statistics-show-social-media-is-bigger-than-you-think/

How much news should actually go into a newsletter?

Regular newsletters are a fantastic way to keep in front of your market. With every issue, you have the opportunity to solidify your credibility, likability, and trustworthiness, and reinforce your brand identity. And if you’re doing it right, that’s exactly what will happen.

Of course it needs to look great – a clean, attractive design with your corporate look, white space that makes it easy to read, and pleasant, colourful pictures that capture attention.

But what, exactly, should you put in there? How much news should actually go into a newsletter?

News they can use – This should make up the majority of your newsletter, at least 80%, and includes articles, tips, and industry announcements that teach your readers something they didn’t know or reinforces something they already knew. It has clear applications they can take action on immediately, and plenty of resources (including your products and service) to help them do it.

News about you – If your newsletter was targeted well, your reader is genuinely interested in what you do, and will eagerly want to hear your latest news. Reward their interest with sneak previews of new services, special offers, advanced notice of upcoming events, or other “insider” or “subscribers only” information. Even if your reader simply found your newsletter left behind in a boardroom or on a city bus, if you’ve provided some news they can use, they will usually keep reading.

Which one and when? Prioritizing your marketing communications options

It’s like being a kid in a candy store these days, especially online. There are just so many tools, techniques, means, methods, gadgets, and gizmos – all designed to reach your customer, communicate your message, and deliver results.

As you sift through the books, Web sites, blogs, industry examples, and proposals, how do you choose the marketing communications vehicle that will meet your needs?

Here are five key sets of questions that will help you prioritize your marketing communications options:

1.    What are your communication goals? Who are you trying to reach and what actions do you want them to take?
2.    What is your budget? How much is there to spend overall, and what proportion of that do you want to allot to each initiative?
3.    What are the broader missions, mandates, or strategies that you have to adhere to? How well does this proposed solution fit?
4.    What are your available resources, including people, systems, and vendors? Will you have what you need to roll out this particular strategy?
5.    What are the time lines involved and how will this initiative fit into them? Is there a specific launch date or a scheduled event? Does your client have a preset deadline?

Selecting the appropriate communications media then comes down to deciding which ones will help you reach your goals, given your available budget, mandate, resources, and time.

So relax! You don’t need to know about, understand, or try every marketing communication tool that’s around. Avoid overwhelm by setting clear priorities, and make a deliberate choice.

Don’t fade away – the most common blogging pitfall

“Blog fade” is an expression used to describe the fading enthusiasm for a blog; posts become less and less frequent until the blog is finally left sitting idle collecting pixel dust.

It’s happened to the best of us. We start out of the gate with a plan to blog twice a week, weekly, bi-weekly or even monthly. The blog was so easy to set up, we launch right in.

And it’s precisely because blogging is so immediate and accessible that we sometimes push it back in favour of more pressing tasks like, oh, I don’t know, taking care of clients! We figure we can always jump in there and put up a blog post; we’ll get to it later.

As part of a broader marketing communications strategy, well-written blog posts will improve your search engine rankings, attract traffic to your website, and reinforce your credibility as an expert. You may also use them to get a conversation going with your clients, prospects, team, employees, vendors, suppliers or other stakeholders.

When you don’t post regularly, you’re losing out on all of those benefits. But not only that – you’re also sending a subtle message that you’re not around anymore. People surfing the Web are hungry for information. They want more and they want it now. As brilliant as it was, the post you wrote last month is ancient history.

Have you ever heard the expression, “How you do anything is how you do everything?” When people look through your blog and don’t see any recent updates, they may start to wonder if you’ll “fade away” in other areas of your business as well.

Getting the advice you need to succeed

When you’re trying to simultaneously manage 17 initiatives that all have a deadline of yesterday, it’s hard to keep track of current marketing best practices. How can you maximize the effectiveness of your print communications? Are leading companies even still using print? Should you be producing podcasts, hosting webinars, posting videos on YouTube, buying Google AdWords?

Clearly, the strategies you adopt need to align to your corporate objectives and your budgetary constraints. But there are some quick steps you can take to glean industry best practices:

Build your network – Find other marketing professionals via your professional associations, alumni group, connections through family and friends, service groups, or networking services, like LinkedIn. Visit their Web sites and check out their client lists. Get an introduction and interview them about where they look for advice and trends. Share your own resources as well, to strengthen these new alliances.

Read the want ads – Study job descriptions for marketing professionals, particularly the skill sets, responsibilities, and best practices that are stated outright as well as between the lines.

Consult with specialists – Have a chat with senior corporate marketers who are in the business of staying ahead of the trends. Look for people with hands-on experience, as well as training and certification in the specialty areas that most interest you, such as online marketing or search engine optimization.

If you or your employer are having trouble with the idea of spending time on this research, remember that your company is in danger of being left behind if you don’t. Getting up to speed on the newest and most effective marketing practices is a far better use of your time than ploughing forward with outdated campaigns just for the sake of getting done what you’ve always done.

You will be more valuable to your company and in a much better position to advance your career.


We’ve touched on the What and the Who. It’s time for the Why.

Recognize, however, that we can talk about the big Ws forever. At some point, it makes more sense to simply dive into the blogging pool. End tangent.

Knowing why you’re writing is critically important. It explains why people will visit you regularly and what they hope to get out of the process. It articulates, in concrete terms, the value proposition of your message. If you don’t know why you want to write a blog, chances are your readers won’t, either.

We’ve asked you to ask yourself a lot of questions in previous entries. These still apply, so feel free to review them anytime. Now it’s time to put it all on the line and ask yourself why anyone would invest time to read – and respond to – anything you’d write or share. What will they get out of doing so? Why is your message any better than anyone else’s?

If you can’t answer these questions, think it over a bit before proceeding. If you’re ready to start brainstorming responses, your blogging future awaits.

Who’s reading?

Knowing your audience is critical. When parents speak to their babies and toddlers, they use different words, phrases and tones than, say, you might use when you deliver a quarterly results presentation to the CEO. Fail to adapt the message to your audience and you may as well head home.

But if you know who they are and what they need, you’re in the bonus round. Knowing who might read your blog, listen to your podcast or otherwise consume your message is easier than you might think. Start by looking at your existing business contacts:

  • Customers
  • Prospects
  • Suppliers
  • Competitors
  • Media
  • Friends and family
  • Anyone else who comes to mind

Now that you know who you’re dealing with, look at how you’re reaching them. You’re likely already using different media – phone, newsletter, corporate web site, among others – to interact with them. Take a moment to jot down which media are being used for which contact type.

Finally, look at each contact/medium combination. Toss these questions around for a bit:

  • Is the medium helping or hindering your attempts to build a solid relationship with this contact?
  • Do you think you’re successfully reaching these people with the tools you’ve got? Do some tools or media work better than others?
  • Would a more interactive medium – a blog, perhaps – make it easier for you to build a more meaningful relationship with them?
  • How would you know if you’re succeeding? Or failing?

We’ll leave it at that for now. You need to give some thought to who you’re working with and how well you’re reaching them. We’ll explore the answers in our next entry.