Brain Vibe

marketing muses to stay engaged

Pirate Google

Originally I considered Ruper Murdoch a blow hard in his attacks on Google.  I mean, give me a break.  Almost 15 years into the world wide web and search engines bringing content free to seekers, the tide seems to have already turned. It is like Britain taking up the cause to bring the US back into its fold over 234 years after the revolution. Though, there is a bit of a point to be made that is finally coming to the surface outside the Australian mud slinging.  Content produced is an asset for news organizations. In any other media industry such as TV, movies, and music, copyright protection laws preserve the asset. Why not news content?

Compare online media to television media.  TV is not free as consumers have to pay for the connection on average of $600 per year and as high as $2000 depending on the service.  Fees are pushed back to service providers from the content network of about 3¢ to 25¢ per subscriber which is included in this subscription service.  Google on the other hand acts as a service provider like a cable tv company and pays nothing.  In fact, it makes money off servicing advertisers both in delivery of advertising though PPC  and through Doublclick by placing ads on content provider sites such as News Corp’s.  MSN/Bing and Yahoo! are the same.

Now you can say that News Corp makes money by selling placements on their websites but as we see, this doesn’t pay the bills.  Revenue from subscriptions dwindles and isn’t re-cooped through fee collected from Google or any other search engine or advertising network.  They can add more placement space but this diminishes the experience and dissuades visitors in the long run that can actually hurt their advertising revenue stream with reduced visitation.

There are a few ways to alleviate the issue:

  • Google and other search engines pay fees to content networks.  However, how do you distinguish a News Corp from a blogger?  At least in tv there are limited number of content creators.  The web has millions.
  • Internet service providers collect fees in their subscriptions related to “premium” content and manage access to sites similarly to cable or satellite services.  Although today, ISPs are not necessarily set up or have the infrastructure to do so.
  • Google is looking at limiting search results to content on sites like those of News Corp.  This will only go so far and may actually hurt ad revenue in the long run.
  • Content providers can add code to block search engines but again, this can hurt ad sales by blocking ad networks and PPC.
  • News sites can turn their websites into paid sites to recoup subscriptions.  While sites like the Wall St. Journal, Harvard Business Review, and others do this, revenue is modest and may not ultimately sustain the industry.

Balancing fairness of access to asset content is not an easy proposition.  On one hand the access to news consumers have today is a huge benefit.  On the other, quality news content costs money to produce.  I may not buy a paper or magazine to get my news anymore, but I still highly value quality unbiased information.  I will pay for my news, but news should be widely available to keep us educated and informed.

Tough call.  For now, I’ll rely on Google “pirating” content.  What else is there to do?


Filed under: communication, news media, , , , , ,

Engage Customers Online or Offline? Microsoft Goes Brick-and-Mortar

It struck me as ironic that a leading technology company puts in motion an engagement strategy that hinges on a brick-and-mortar foundation.  Microsoft opened it’s first store in Scottsdale, AZ today specifically as a way to better connect to customers.  While it may be an attempt to be on a level playing field with Apple (I hear the Microsft store has a similar format), the fact remains that in each case, these two companies founded on technological innovations feel the need to invest in direct connections with consumers.

What about the promise of social media?  This is where the customers are, online.  This is where and how you need to engage with them.  Blog, create fan pages, converse on Twitter.  Brick-and-mortar is dead as is TV, print, and all other traditional marketing efforts.

The fact is, if you want to grow and maintain your business, you need to offer multiple communication and connection points to your customer.  You need to be where customers are regardless if it is digital or tangible.  Some of your connection points are highly scalable, some are more intimate.  Each serves a purpose in your marketing arsenal.  Each can compliment each other.

I don’t know that Microsoft stores will be successful in the long run.  Gateway, Dell, and other technology companies have tried the brick and mortar model and failed or at least haven’t done well.  I think it depends on how Microsoft defines success of the stores.  If the over-riding strategy is truly to create customer connections over stellar store sales, then the storefront may well prove its usefulness and ROI.  Staying on that course though will be challenging when sales may be low and operating costs are not balanced out.  If sales are important, the coming holiday season may be an indicator if Microsoft made the wise investment.

Filed under: CMO seat, communication, customer relationship, social media marketing, , , ,

Social Media Myth: You Can Be Everything To Everybody

You walked over to your IA and said, “I want a dynamic, modular, customizable, and personal website for my visitors.  Let visitors design their experience!”  They went back trying to configure that requirement into their traditional web software design tools, and they freeze.  Trying to implement a social media strategy on your website and throwing up your hands in frustration as the nebulous and fluid nature of social media destroys that rock solid and logical foundation is probably why most have yet to attempt that pull vs. push strategy. If this is really the way you want to go (and by the way, you should!), then there are a 3 things you’ll want to establish at the onset.  Some points are things you should already be thinking about with a traditional site, but it is even more important when you allow interaction and content to travel through a social media platform.

  1. Keep it focused, keep it simple.  Determine up front the primary objective for you website.  Selling cookies, servicing existing clients, a how to on shrinking your carbon foot print, what ever it is, pick one thing and focus on that.  It is inevitable that you have multiple types of visitors and segment and they all have different needs.  The reality is, you can’t be all things to all people.  Your website is the one place where you can do what you want to do best online.
  2. Timing creates relevance.  Recognize how seasonality or periods will impact what your visitors are expecting on your site and be flexible and automated in what they see first.   This is how you can be agile in attempting to serve multiple interests.  Campaigns in market drive visitors with specific needs based on what your call to action was.  However, after these periods of heavy advertising, visitation profiles and behavior change and your primary content should as well.
  3. Website as an Ad Network.  This is the real change in thinking.  Your site is no longer an internet PDF.  Your blogs, widgets, articles, and comments will travel.  If you don’t think you have any control over this, you are partially correct.  However, how you decide to place and allow content to travel to tell your story is in your control.  Rather than tighten control over content, strategically leverage it in the same fashion you would with contextual marketing and display advertising.

Taking these three points into account will ensure you have the right place to start and the most flexible design to fit your purpose.

Filed under: communication, customer relationship, social media, social media marketing, , , , ,

Social Media Allows Solution Improvisation

A fear of B2B marketers of leveraging social media is the loss of control over the conversation and content.  In fact, by relinquishing control, you open up the conversation with your customers and can improve your relationship, improve your offers, and strengthen your position in the market.  Social media allows you to improvise to improve, evolve, and innovate.

During an interview, Conan O’Brien talked about what he learned from improvisation.

“… people respond to something that happens in the moment, much more than they will respond to the most brilliant thing that was thought of ahead of time and prepared.  Improv teaches you not to fear those moments.  That is where the gold is.”

While Conan O’Brien is talking about comedy, and stand-up in particular, the same holds true with your customer conversations.  You already have your value proposition, positioning statements, messaging, and connection in place.  Allowing yourself to open up to the customer not only to tell them about you, but to listen to them and improvise how you meet their needs will get you farther.  

You become the solution, not the cost.

Filed under: communication, customer relationship, marketing/advertising, social media, social media marketing, , , , ,

Social Media for B2B is a Game Changer

Forget about the question of if you should or shouldn’t leverage social media for B2B marketing.  Forget even that you can see a direct link to ROI.  If you aren’t blogging, networking, and conversing with your customers and the market through social media, you lost already.  Why?  Social media marketing in B2b is what a website was back in the 90’s, it is the game changer.  If you use social media you have credibility and authority.  Without it, you are a wall flower.

Customers want to hear your voice.  They want you to be a thought leader.  It is more than the stale white paper.  It is about the tone and interaction you are willing to subscribe to when you engage in social media marketing practices.  A community, a blog, you tweets, they all help you create authority simply by stepping out.  

The number one role of marketing in B2B is to convince your customers that it is worth spending hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars on your solutions.  If you aren’t credible, authoritative, and a leader, chances are slim a customer is going to consider you.  Just being aware of you as a provider isn’t enough.  The benefit of social media marketing is that as much as it improves awareness, it ultimately establishes you as a player.

And, if you really have to prove quantitatively that social media marketing is improving ROI (of course you do!), stop looking at awareness.  Track the movement of your brand across leadership, credibility, and mindshare.  Chances are, your social media marketing efforts are paying off here.

Filed under: b2b, communication, customer relationship, marketing/advertising, social media marketing, , , , ,



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