Archive for the ‘Marketing’ category

YOUR Business Plan & Interactive Marketing

March 25, 2008

Are you building out your business plan? Perhaps you’ve been tasked with creating a marketing plan at the office for that new product or service?

There are a lot of obvious things you’re going to address: PR; conferences/exhibitions; SEM/SEO; email; print; direct mail; catalogs; CD/DVD; word-of-mouth; point of purchase; paid placement; end caps; packaging; etc.

I want to challenge you to think about some of the not-so-obvious stealth marketing techniques.

One in particular – The Intranet. My most recent jobs have required me to think a GREAT DEAL about customer acquisition and customer retention for the web sites I’ve managed. Some were highly vertical publishing web sites (trade magazines), a car rental dot com,  or an international not-for-profit serving the energy exploration sector. IN EACH CASE INTRANETS HAVE BEEN EXCELLENT DEFENSIBLE SOURCES OF PAYING TRAFFIC. If I was dropped into an enterprise or consumer dot com play tomorrow this is among the first things I would assess… What’s our intranet marketing program look like? (It has that high an ROI).

Think about submarine warfare for a moment. These things have a distinct strategic advantage over just about every other delivery method there is. Competitors can’t easily detect them. They’re wildly effective for what they do. You might detect one but not the other one next door. They’re easily underestimated. They scale really well. Had to throw that in there 🙂

I’ve likened marketing via intranets to submarine warfare at a number of talks. Each time I get a few follow-ups afterwards… “I never thought of that. Clever.” Why more people don’t do this… I’ll never know. Beware: This strategy is beginning to get expensive though. The enterprise is becoming a contested battle ground now thanks to efforts like the Google Appliance and enterprise search. Intranet managers are just now beginning to realize what they have is highly valuable virgin real estate. Savvy managers are charging placement fees (and getting them) for those same outbound links we used to ask for and get for free. So, go into these waters with a bit of knowledge and know-how. In many cases the manager has no clue what that footprint is worth to you. And, you might not either. This implies you need to figure out your customer acquisition cost. This is a necessary exercise anyway. Don’t go above that baserate out of ignorance. At least go into it with your eyes open. I’m certain in most cases you’ll see appreciable and sustainable gains in your corporate sources of traffic and corresponding incremental sales gains. If you have a compelling reason for management to place you on their intranet you’re one step ahead. Perhaps corporate policy dictates use of your product/service. Great! If you’re in this situation RUN do not walk to that company’s intranet manager. NOW! In the link you provide to the intranet manager make sure you’re prepopulating form fields for their employees’ convenience (company name, corp id, address, etc). Perhaps you offer a sizable discount to that company’s employees. Things like this could obviate the charges discussed earlier. Point is, if you’re Joe Schmoe wanting a link to your car wash down the street… you’re probably not getting onto the intranet at all. If you come with some proprietary value. Well, that’s another matter. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS – Let the intranet manager know they have access to your site analytics as part of the deal. 75% of them won’t know what the hell you’re talking about (or care). The balance will say, “No shit!? No one else does that! At least not consistently.” And… they’ll bias more than a few times in your favor. This turns into affinity. Work it for all it’s worth! Especially if you’re helping them make their case back to upper management they are providing value to the mothership. It’s cheap. It’s underhanded. It’s submarine warfare baby! Always ask if there are internal email marketing opportunities. Text links in THOSE messages aren’t stellar on conversion… But, they do solidify your brand’s mindshare in that particular corporate environment (yet more submarine warfare).

I’ll share a truism based on my experience (not saying when or where). In a nine-month period over one-third of the traffic to a site I managed had 30+% of its traffic attributed to INTRANETS! And, guess what… Those sources produced more loyalty (repeat visits) than all search engine refered traffic. Now, you’re probably paying for trial through the search engines (most are) and that’s a necessary component of your overall program. But, if you’re seeing abnormally high loyalty spikes from free sources of traffic (particularly ones your competitor doesn’t know to emulate)… Why wouldn’t you do this? Emphasize it even!

Some other things you need to factor (and I’ll blog about these at some later date): Affiliate programs can be monster big for you; Thumb drives (yes, everyone has a few… go high end and put YOUR links on the media); SMS is an emerging method to increase reach/intimacy; RSS; Blogging (obvious but underutilized); Widgets; Facebook; MySpace; Twitter, Pownce; LinkedIn… Basically, all the social media out there warrants some kind of trial program. Collectively this adds up to incremental business. In some case you may just hit the Mother Lode and luck into a niche market. Stumbling into a good situation still counts.

Who was it said, “I’d rather be lucky than smart.” Yeah, me too.

You’re Gonna Be Remembered For Something

July 30, 2007

Take Frank Johnson. Who!? You know… FRANK JOHNSON… “The Johnson Box”… Direct mail…? Not ringing any bells?

OK. I’m reading the printed (gasp!) Target Marketing’s inside back cover op ed where Denny Hatch is talking about “American Heritage” magazine and the fact it is folding after one hellluva run. The story only briefly mentions Mr. Johnson. But, what it has to say about him is actually quite an interesting tell on us all. See, Frank is popularized for his creation of the prominent rectangular space above the “Dear Mrs. Soandso” salutation in direct mail pieces… The one with a big headline in it surrounded by a rectangle made up of asteriks. It’s called “The Johnson Box” (Hmm, wonder if he patented THAT! heheh)

* HEADLINE * <– THAT was his BFD in life. What’s yours!?

Anyway, the point is, he didn’t think that was going to be his magnum opus. He thought some other innovative thing I’ve never seen in my life was his grand creation and an obit worthy contribution to mankind. We never truly know what our legacy is going to be do we? It could easily be some throw away piece of open source code or an algorithm or a smile at just the right time to someone who needed it to keep on keeping on.

The bottom of the bottom line here is keep on trying. Be passionate. Live your life with your own special kind of zeal, zest, zip (I don’t know which Z word to use)… Even us you pups, we’re going to be remembered for something! Hedge your bets, make it something good. And, if you’ve never read it… The Brand You 50 series from Tom Peters is a great start.

Creating an RSS Feed (Mac)

November 4, 2006

Several people have asked me how I create my non-blog-related RSS feeds.

Short answer is a snap – I use Feeder from Reinvented Software and then publish the files to the roots of my sites. See, if they’re sitting at the root, most RSS enabled browsers and plugins and agreggators will automatically detect the xml files allowing your visitors to subscribe.

There’s a bit more that goes into the production end. But, not by much. Feeder is one of those potentially very complex apps that can do amazing things (QuickSilver, InDesign and the like come to mind). Or, if you’re not inclined to go gonzo with it you can make good things happen scratching the surface, like I do.

My feeds currently have enclosures and the bare minimum of embedded HTML formatting. I seldom put graphics in… but have been known to on occassion.

I haven’t a clue on the Windows side of life. I’m sure your options are about 9,000 fold. Happy hunting 🙂

IM Smart Marketing

August 7, 2006

One of Mr. Johnson’s recent FuzzyBlog posts details how Casey McKinnon of Galcticast uses her GTalk custom message to subtly inform a segment of their audience that content is being worked up and then uploaded. It may be small but it’s darned smart. I love details like this!