Facebook Marketing – What Works and What Doesn’t

An excellent piece in the Social Media Examiner looks at which marketing tactics are most effective on Facebook.  Read more

Still on the Fence about B2B Content Marketing? Read this Today!

Some excellent statistics and data in the B2B Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report.  Click here for a great overview and a link to the full report.

Here are some highlights:

•    On average, B2B content marketers are spending 33% of their marketing budgets on content marketing, up from 26% last year; also, 54% plan to increase content marketing spending next year.
•    All content tactics are being used more frequently than they were last year, with the use of research reports, videos and mobile content having increased the most.
•    On average, B2B content marketers are using five social distribution channels; the most popular of those channels is LinkedIn, whereas Twitter had been the most popular the previous two years.

Do you or your marketing colleagues have any questions about content marketing? Post them below and I’ll answer them.

What Would Google Do? Trust vs. Control

In WWGD, Jeff Jarvis addresses a number of principles (he refers to them as laws) that have enabled Google to become so dominant so fast.  His first law is: “Give the people control and we will use it; don’t and you will lose us”. He speaks of it primarily in the context of the media business – where the fence between journalists, editors and the readers/consumers was tall and inviolable until the advent of the Internet and the rise of the Blog (not the “Borg”).

If you think about it, it also applies to many other industries.  Henry Ford’s old adage that “people can have a car in any colour they want as long as it’s black”, which held sway for decades, is no longer.  Companies that give their customers choice (read control) engender their audience’s trust and this translates into increased revenues and profits (see Google and Craigslist).

How can you apply this to your business? Engage your customers in the areas that are most important to them: product development and customer service.  For powerful examples, see – My Starbucks Idea and  Dell Idea Storm.  My favorite Starbucks idea: coffee ice cubes – brilliant!

Please share your experiences and post any questions you may about how to apply this to your business.

Side note:  Jeff Jarvis first came to prominence due a critical blog post of an experience he had with Dell and which ultimately led Dell to pay attention to blogs and to begin engaging their customers.  Check one of the posts here – http://www.buzzmachine.com/2005/08/17/dear-mr-dell/

Stretching is OK. Lying isn’t.

Marketing tip #1: Read everything. You never know where your next brilliant idea will come from.

To wit, while skimming through the classifieds of our local paper this weekend, I came across an ad for a used car. A 2001 Chevrolet Malibu, advertised, in the paper’s words, as a "replica of winner 08 car of the year."

Looking past the obviously stellar grammar, I surmise they’re referring to the 2008 version of the Malibu, which has been well-reviewed and has indeed won Motor Trend’s coveted Car of the Year award.

My take: I think we’re all used to a little hyperbole and creative use of language in the world of sales and marketing. In real estate, for example, "close to transportation" means "located on a four-lane highway" and "motivated vendors" means "we’re one step ahead of the federal authorities." But at some point, you cross a line where stretching it becomes an outright lie. A car designed in the late 90s and built through the early half of this decade isn’t a replica of anything released in 2008. Even the most ignorant consumer would eventually figure that out.

Don’t tick off your audience

You know how doctors swear to "do no harm"? Google follows a similar mantra in its organizational mission: "Do no evil." I wish every company that has something to say actually did the same thing.

I speak from very recent experience: I clicked on a link to read an article. When the page loaded, it was half-covered by an ad for a magazine I would never read, let alone buy. As is often the case with these online annoyances, I had to look hard for the "Close" box. I clicked it to get rid of the offending ad. Nothing. I clicked the "X" next to it. Still nothing. This was one ad that didn’t want to be closed. The page that it half-covered was locked and unreadable, so I had no choice but to click on the ad and see what happened.

What happened was an online nightmare. I was forced to take a survey. Oh sure, I could have bailed, but I wanted to read the article. So I figured randomly filling in a few boxes would end this silliness and get me back to where I had intended to go in the first place. No such luck. It took almost 10 minutes for me to navigate through the survey – leaving nasty comments about the experience wherever I could. When I was done, I was dumped to a forlorn landing page, my beloved article nowhere to be found. I still haven’t read it. And I’m still upset.

If you think I’ll ever say a nice thing about the magazine, think again. Sure, they got my attention and got me to take their survey. But they kept me from doing what I originally wanted to do. They wasted my time. They got me angry. Not exactly the best way to get a message across.

So, as you look at your own online messaging efforts, ask yourself this question, and answer it honestly: Are  you ticking off your audience?

A little advance notice, please?

I’ll be blunt: Newspapers are dying. But not for the reasons you think.

It’s true that we increasingly get our information via an electronic device instead of from a dead tree, it’s likely even more true that newspapers are doing themselves in. So let’s amend our opening statement: Ineffectively managed newspapers are dying.

Exhibit A is my hometown paper. Yesterday was Victoria Day here in Canada, a statutory holiday during which most businesses close up shop. In many cities, daily newspapers don’t publish. Here, however, our local rag had always had an edition on stat holidays. Until yesterday.

The paper had decided to stop publishing on stat holidays. Unfortunately, they neglected to tell their readers. A quick check of the Saturday and Sunday papers found no mention of the upcoming circulation policy change. Nothing on their web site either. Their call centre was inundated with calls from angry subscribers, wondering where their papers had gone. They presumably weren’t happy when they were informed after the fact.

Lesson learned: Whatever business you’re in, be up-front with your stakeholders whenever you change your policies in ways that can affect them. Don’t let them figure it out for themselves. Overcommunicate if you have to. A little proactive messaging can go a long way to keeping the people who matter engaged.

Otherwise, you’ll end up being just as relevant as that dead tree over there.

We’re hiring. Interested?

There comes a time in every company’s life where you just have to grow. That’s where we find ourselves at AR Communications these days, and it’s a good place to be.

Of course, that means we need to find a sales person. And not just any sales person. We’re not just any company, after all.

If you think we’re the kind of company for you – or if you know someone who might fit the bill, click here or paste the following URL into your browser for more info:


The iPhone lesson: Saying nothing at all

I learned an important lesson yesterday: Sometimes, it’s about what you DON’T say.

The big consumer-tech news this week is that Rogers has finally reached an agreement with Apple to sell the iPhone in Canada. The technologist in me thinks this is neat, and I’ve been chatting with journalists – including Canadian Press, CTV NewsNet and AM640 – about what this means.

Although we can chat for days about the iPhone’s impending arrival, what sticks out is what Rogers didn’t say:

  • When it would be available
  • How much it would cost to buy
  • How much subscriptions would cost
  • Which device it would be (old, slow iPhone or snazzy new 3G iPhone)

So, essentially, Rogers had nothing to say yesterday. But they released their "news" anyway. And got tons of free media coverage in the process.

The lesson? Sometimes, you don’t need to wait until all your ducks are in a row before you go public. Sometimes, saying nothing is enough to get people to start talking about your product or service. Of course, it helps if your product or service is buzzworthy to begin with – and you need to eventually deliver on what you’ve promised, otherwise all that great buzz will go sour pretty quickly. But there’s a nugget of truth in the Rogers experience that’s applicable in a lot of business marketing scenarios.

Nice job, Ted.