Don’t Forget About the Importance of Internal Marketing and Communication Strategies

10 11 2008

marketingplanSo you’re really psyched because you’ve been working hard on the marketing plan for your company’s hot new product.  You’ve worked on creating catchy packaging with eye-popping colors and a really cool, trendy logo.  You created a social media press release that you’re going to launch on PitchEngine.  You’re planning on setting up a Facebook fan page because thousands of people are going to flock around this product.  You’ve even started to figure out this whole social media and blogging thing that everyone keeps talking about.  This is definitely going to be the next coolest thing that everyone never realized that they needed but now won’t be able to live without.

A few weeks later your company launches the product and your inbound marketing plan is working perfectly.  People are subscribing to your opt-in newsletter, signing up for demos, tweeting, commenting and digging everything they can find about your company and this new product.  The phones are ringing constantly.  But, then you find out something pretty disturbing.  The sales team is having a hard time converting all of these leads to customers.  Immediately you begin to blame them.  I mean, they’re wasting the leads that you worked so hard to get for them!  Finally, one night you’re out for drinks with a friend of yours who is on the sales team.  You ask them why can’t the sales team convert any of these leads and they tell you it’s because they never received any training on the product, they didn’t know about the timing of any of the marketing campaigns, and that made them unprepared.  So, when they’re talking to leads, they’re fumbling through the call because they’re learning as they go.

This little story highlights something very important but often overlooked.  As marketers we sometimes get so wrapped up in planning and executing our marketing plan to the rest of the world that we forget that we also need a marketing and communications plan for our staff.  We can’t just assume that they know everything that’s going on just because we do.  It is important that we are constantly aware of this so that we avoid operating in a silo or out on an island.

As I was thinking about this stuff over the past couple days, I came across a post by Douglas Karr on this very same topic.  Thanks to him, I found this funny video on the topic of internal marketing and communication plans.

If you have problems viewing this video in your RSS reader, you can view the video here.

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Photo by: hulksjedi

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Crafting a Successful Buzz Strategy

5 11 2008

Today Maria Elena Duron takes over my blog for a guest post on creating a buzz strategy.  Maria is CEO of Buzz to Bucks which provides online profile management, social management and reputation management services to its’ clients.

buzzstrategyThis week I sat down with several clients to talk Twitter.  Their questions ranged from “how to?”, “what’s this?”, and “how much time do you spend”?  Developing a great buzz strategy begins with the greatest questions of WHY and WHO/WHOM.

  • Who do you want to be seen and know as?

This is the beginning necessary for an effective BUZZ STRATEGY.  WHOM is it important for you to interact with?  WHO needs to see more of you to get to know you?  WHO needs to know what you do and how you save the day?  WHOM can you engage to speak positively on your behalf?  WHO can do business with you or refer business with you?  WHO would be a good contact for you?

Answering these questions provides direction as to what methods to use to connect with the WHO, and even how often to connect with them.  Identify WHO they really are and include their likes, dislikes, and activities, along with the standard demographic stuff.  Then, go out and find groups of them. Where do bunches of them hangout?  Is it online?  In Twitter, in a forum, or in a chat room? Is it in LinkedIn groups, Rotary, Mother’s Day Out? Where you find many of them congregating is where YOU want to be.

  • Why do you want to be seen and known by them, and interact with them?

Every English paper that reviews stories always starts with questions like “what’s the purpose?” or “what’s the plot?”  These are the same questions you need to ask yourself, and then you can craft your success story on interacting with the WHO.  What’s the overall outcome you want from this?  Envision the happily ever after of this.  And ponder on whether the tools you’re using to get there are actually getting you there or whether they are just interesting.

Do not go any further until you, quite in detail, answer the first two questions of WHO/WHOM and WHY.  Doing anything else without answering those questions is merely a waste of time.

Visibility is first so that people will get to see you or even know that you exist.  Next comes developing credibility.

  • What can you do to create visibility with whom you want to interact with?

Easiest answer is to hang out where they hang out.  Frequent their hangout spots!  Watch and identify how often people need to hang out there to be noticed.  For example, if you’re considering Twitter as one of your visibility tools, then check how often people that you know (who mirror the people you want to know) are Twittering.  Now, if they’re not Twittering, why are you there?  If it’s interesting research, recognize that it is and move on. It’s not a visibility tool – it’s something you’re checking out, that’s it.  As you choose visibility tools, it’s important to remember not to confuse “activity” with “accomplishment”.  Where do you really need to be to be seen?  Pick TWO and get really good at being seen on those.   Think of things that you want people to know about you and that you wouldn’t mind repeated. 

  • How do you develop credibility?

Credibility comes from interaction.  People need to sample your character and competence.  There’s an old saying that states, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  How do you show you care?  You interact.    Let’s say someone sends out a great link to a site that’s very helpful for you?  Then, let the person who sent it to you know.  Give them feedback.  Be lavish with gratitude.  Be helpful.  If someone is seeking resources, has a question or a need, help them.  Send links or articles or another connection you have that would be able to help them.  Refer them to books.  Recommend sites.  Be helpful.  There’s a myth that “You give – then you get” in networking.  And, while I think “Givers gain” is a catchy little phrase, I believe it leaves the impression that if you give to someone then you can expect to get something from them.  That expectation may taint the interaction and actually keep you from gaining anything.  It can leave someone with the taste that you’re not helping sincerely.

Better to think “give, give, give, give, give, and you will get from the great feeling of giving”.  Then, when you get something directly from that, it’s a delightful extra!  The goal in building credibility is creating relationships.  Relationships, whether online or offline, still take time.  In our instant gratification microwave society, relationships still take time, yet they are solid when built.  People speak positively about people they know, like and trust.  It’s important to find a few that you feel compelled to help and connect with, and develop, know and like – trust will come.

The object is to help people learn how to carry the message of you to people they know – that’s what BUZZ STRATEGY is about.  Write down the WHO/WHOM and WHY.  Then, find TWO avenues that you will use to connect with them.  Then, find TEN people that you’ll interact with and watch the BUZZ grow.  Establish this first – then we can talk more about EXPONENTIAL BUZZ GROWTH!

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Photo by: Unhindered by Talent

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Marketing to Buyer Personas and Inbound Marketing – David Meerman Scott’s Keynote at Inbound Marketing Summit

3 11 2008

This past weekend I started re-reading David Meerman Scott‘s The New Rules of Marketing & PR.  As you know from previous posts, I’m a huge fan of David because of his thought leadership in the space of inbound marketing.  As I was reading I realized that I hadn’t shared his keynote from the Inbound Marketing Summit with all of you.  This keynote was excellent and definitely a “must watch”.

If you can’t see this video in your RSS reader, you can view it here.

[blip.tv ?posts_id=1300552&dest=-1]

Are you marketing to different buyer personas?  What are some of the ways that you are executing an inbound marketing campaign?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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Using the Most and Least Social Networking Utilities as Possible

29 10 2008

Today Josh Whitford takes over my blog with a guest post.  Josh is an Internet Marketeer who focuses on current Marketing Ideas and Unconventional Marketing Techniques.

How is it possible to use “the most and least” social networking communities at the same time?

Management, that’s how.

I subscribe to dozens and dozens of different social networking communities, including hundreds of social

Conversation Prism by Brian Solis and JESS3

Conversation Prism by Brian Solis and JESS3

bookmarking sites. The only way this is possible is through management and automation tools such as Ping.fm. Ping allows you to simultaneously update your Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, Delicious, Plurk, Flickr and WordPress accounts all at once. I even have Ping.fm set up through my Gtalk Google’s Chat program so all I have to do is send an IM to Ping.fm and everything gets updated.

Tools like Ping.fm allow you to maintain a broader presence online without sacrificing the amount of time needed to achieve the same manually. The only down side to Ping.fm is not being able to see any replies people have posted. This problem can be circumvented by subscribing to all your social networking sites via your RSS reader (if you don’t have an rss reader get one right now, they’re free). So, if you do get a comment or reply back from a post you did on your Twitter, you can see that and reply again.

The automation will save you so much time by not having to log in and out of all your various sites to update your status. This allows you to meet other where they are at no matter what network they user or favor. If you can maintain and meet people where they are at they will be more likely to follow you and pay attention to what you have to say.

Another invaluable tool to use to increase your presence online is a WordPress blog and a few optimized plugins. The first plugin is the All In One SEO. This plugin is a quick and easy to use plugin that lets you optimize every post you do in seconds. The next plugin that is a must is Auto Social Poster.

Auto Social Poster allows you to automatically post your current blog post to hundreds of social bookmarking sites if you so choose. Most people will use just a few of the more popular sites like Delicious and Backflip, but you do have the option to add as many as you would like.

The plugin also allows you to randomly select X number of sites to submit to along with randomly selected keywords. This helps you avoid being banned by any bookmarking sites for over use while ensuring adequate exposure to as many sources as possible.

These tools are just a few of the hundreds out there to help automate your presence online. Time is the most valuable thing you have and the less time you have to spend logging in and out of sites, copying and pasting, waiting for slow load times and so on will allow you to become more productive online.

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An Interview with an Internet Strategy Expert on PR

28 10 2008

Today I had the opportunity to interview co-founder and CMO of Newsforce, Dana Todd.  Dana is also the Chairman of SEMPO, the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization, which is the largest independent trade organization serving the search marketing industry.  Dana earned her stripes in the internet marketing industry running a boutique interactive agency called SiteLab, which is known for its search marketing expertise and creative web development capabilities.  She has since turned her sights now to the general communications industry, which includes PR, to evangelize the incredible possibilities of the internet in communication strategy.  Dana says that she is going to “shake things up around here and evangelize some sexy new ideas and tactics for the fairly rigid world of corporate communications and public relations.”

Newsforce currently offers two services to their customers. Can you please briefly describe each of these services?

Newsforce has two main product lines right now. Most people know us for our SEO tool, but we’re totally excited about something we’ve just launched. Our new product is our “big story” that will ultimately change the way companies manage their online communications. It’s called the Newsforce Network, and it’s an always-on communication platform to give companies and agencies total control over their stories, their placement and their engagement strategy.

Newsforce is the first company to build a network to put ultimate power in the hands of communicators. We can take any kind of fresh, interesting content – whether it’s a press release, a mat release, a blog entry or a feature article – and place it directly onto prominent positions in premium news. We buy only the best positions on the page, typically a large ad unit above the fold on an article or a section index (we’ve even run on the home page of Newsweek!), and we replace the usual banners with much-more-interesting featured news slugs from our customers. When a reader clicks a Newsforce headline, they go to a beautiful and clean landing page that has multimedia and social media built in. We measure the engagement rates and actions on the article, and feed the data back to our customers so they can tweak their story to appeal more broadly to the viewing public. It’s evergreen, so it’s a living document companies can control as their story evolves.

We sell this service similar to how advertising is sold, on cost-per-thousand impressions (which translates to “views by actual people”. We throw in the social media news release template for free, and as a value-add you won’t lose its derivative SEO properties because we’ll keep hosting it even after we stop featuring it in our headline unit. We’re sort of mashing up PR, advertising, social media and SEO into one streamlined channel.

For people who are struggling with the SEO part of their PR strategy, we also sell an inexpensive tool for SEO, starting at just $20 per use. Our automatic press release optimization suite is an online service made just for PR people, to help them focus more on their writing skills than their technical skills. We have a version of it integrated into Business Wire’s EON offering, plus we sell it on our site http://www.newsforce.com.

How is the Premium News Network different than distribution channels such as PRWeb, PRLeap, and other similar sites?

We’re digital-only, for one thing. They’re paid inclusion, we’re paid placement – verified and guaranteed positions, turn coverage on and off at will. I think of standard wire and feed services as being parallel to how people use SEO in the marketing side of the world: it’s a great thing to do for casting a broad net and hoping your story is interesting enough for a quality pickup or a high-volume return. It’s low cost, typically, and it is great for “organic” distribution. What’s been missing, though, is a serious level of control for communicators in either the online or the offline space. In the online space, we finally have some options we never had before.

In the print and broadcast world, the journalists are the gatekeepers to the limited real estate they have – measured in pages or minutes. In the online space the engagement is 24/7, and the real estate is based on traffic of people, not time of day or numbers of pages. It’s unlimited and unending. So why are we still designing our communication strategies in “episodic” mode, moving from campaign to campaign or release to release? There is a steady stream of news readers hitting news channels online or on their phones, over 600 million page views worldwide every day! And it’s just getting bigger! In 5 years, most people in the developed world will access their news either on a computer or a handheld device. And just as the dayparts shifted for other types of media, it’s shifting for PR people too.

We think what we’re doing is evolutionary, but some people have called us revolutionary. I’ll take either compliment.

Where do you see the future of internet press releases heading?

If we have our way, it’s going to be less about “press releases” and more about “story telling” and ongoing optimization of your stories for maximum reader interest and support of your corporate goals over the long haul. I’d like to see a return to the value of a professional communication team as keepers of the corporate stories, using their creative powers in new channels to influence the public directly, in addition to continuing with evolving media relations.

Maybe that’s too radical (or just too much work)? If you’re still uncomfortable with the idea of being an always-on writer/story teller, you can still think on a release by release basis, but you’re going to probably want to write three different versions: one for journalists, one for the mass public, and one for search engines. Oh yeah, and a mobile version too! So that should keep PR people employed for a very long time, because someone’s got to figure out how to best use these different channels to meet communication goals.

I am a reformed journalist-turned-marketer. Why did I change? Because I feel that ultimately the greatest opportunity to change people’s opinions, one person at a time, is through a multi-channel communication strategy. The power to create *action* is actually closer to the realm of marketing and PR than in traditional journalism, in many cases. While I loved writing news and working as a journalist, I truly found my calling when I wrote my first “advertorial” and realized how powerful a biased voice can be. That sounds like heresy, doesn’t it? And yet, if you think about it – as humans, we assume a certain amount of bias in any media we consume. Humans pride ourselves on being our own “filters” and making our own decisions, and we consume all types of information in context, whether it was produced by a journalist or an ad agency, in order to inform our decisions. So the biggest winners in communications are often the ones who are willing to take the most risk in terms of disclosure (transparency in your motivation) and creativity.

Do you think that all companies should be using internet press releases? Why or why not?

I guess it depends on the goals of your campaign, and what is an appropriate mix of channels to help you accomplish them. Bottom line: I think that all companies should tell great stories on the internet. If it happens to take the form of a news release, then yes, of course. People do actually read press releases – we have piles of cool research showing that they read press releases just like regular editorial news. But I think that if you’re writing a press release for internet distribution you should strongly consider the omigod-this-is-so-boring potential of corporate messaging to a broad reading public. If you wouldn’t click it yourself, then you should probably give the story angle a little more thought. The potential of the internet is that it gets you directly to the public. That’s both a good and a scary thing. Since we can now track reader engagement (or lack thereof) in real time, I predict it will ultimately teach us all to be better communicators.

What is your best recommendation for companies who want to start using internet press releases but not sure where to start?

We actually have a pretty great set of articles on the Newsforce site written by one of our founders, Greg Jarboe.  Greg didn’t invent the internet like Al Gore did, but he is often credited for “inventing” the advanced search optimization strategies for press releases and popularizing the tactics among internet marketing types. If you want to get some broad exposure to search marketing, the SEMPO Learning Center has piles of research, articles, glossaries and free webinars.

I always encourage people to keep a “keyword calendar” to go along with their editorial calendars for the year. If it’s part of your core strategy to have frequent pops in news search engines (so that you’re showing up in the fresh news results regularly), you will want to map a baseline of core keywords to target on a regular basis, plus a seasonal and/or opportunity set of keywords that you target based on the editorial “seasons” of your industry. Think of them as mini-topics to cover.

I guess with that in mind, one of the best skills a PR person can develop first is the art of keyword research. Internet outreach is just like any other communication strategy: it’s listening and responding. That is, “listening” to the keyword demand data and your social media buzz metrics, and then responding to threats and opportunities with various communication channels. The fact that we can literally see the words that people are using to describe all sorts of things, and the frequency and popularity of the terminology, is such a gift of insight. I’m honestly surprised that most PR people aren’t as freakishly obsessed with the information as search marketers are – maybe it’s because they haven’t learned to have fun with it yet. It’s very eye-opening!

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Solutions Stars Video Conference Brings the Conference Directly to You

27 10 2008

On October 29th from 1p EST to approximately 3:30p EST, you will have the opportunity to watch 32 leading business, marketing, and social media experts.  The best part is you don’t have to travel anywhere and it’s free!

Network Solutions is hosting the Solutions Stars Video Conference to explain to small business and entrepreneurs how the Internet can benefit their businesses.  This conference will focus on nine content areas:

  • Building Web Presence
  • The Social Opportunity
  • Start with Listening
  • Strategy Drives Outreach
  • You Need Social Networks
  • To Blog or Not to Blog
  • Visibility Through Search
  • Rising Above the Noise
  • Time Demands

While the fact that there is a free conference which you can watch from the comfort of your office chair or couch is cool enough, take a look at a short list of some of the presenters:

If you don’t know who any of these guys are then spend some time going through each of the above links.  Every single person on the list of 32 is someone who you should be familiar with!

What makes this so interesting for me is that the format reminds me of the Pixelated Conference Series that I participated in at the beginning of the month, thanks to Chris Brogan, Mitch Joel and Bryan Eisenberg.  I will definitely be tuning in on Wednesday, will you?  If not then you’ll be missing out a great opportunity to learn a lot about business, marketing and social media in just a couple of hours.  Did I forget to mention that it’s FREE?!?!

To attend all you have to do is return to the Solutions Stars Video Conference site at 1p EST on Wednesday.

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Did You Know Britney Spears is on Twitter?

22 10 2008

Over the past couple days there has been some chatter in the social media space about Britney Spears joining Twitter (@therealbritney) as part of her new website which just launched.  Well, Britney didn’t just join Twitter but also has accounts on YouTube, MySpace and Facebook.  However, I am more impressed with her and her team’s decision to venture onto Twitter.  Why? Because for the past few years every new artist has a MySpace page.  Unfortunately, it is usually just a PR machine for the artist though there are some artists that actually write their own content, respond to fans, post videos, etc.  We have also seen an influx of musicians sign up for YouTube accounts and start video blogging.  An example of an artist who has embraced video would definitely be Diddy who has approximately 280 videos posted on YouTube.

Ok, back to my thoughts on Brtiney being on Twitter.  The first handful of tweets appeared to be yet another example of a celebrity’s team who sets up an account on a social media site only to use it to post updates about CD launches, appearances, etc.  This led to Gary Vaynerchuk posting his thoughts about it:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

But, then, in my opinion, something interesting and unexpected happened: Britney’s social media director, Lauren Kozag, responded in the comments.  Lauren responded by thanking Gary for his advice and letting everyone know that she was showing the video to the rest of Britney’s team.  Lauren also mentioned that they are actively discussing how transparent Britney should be.  I was extremely impressed to see this because, like many others, I was skeptical at how “real” this would all be.

By Lauren responding she showed that her and the rest of Brtiney’s team are monitoring online discussions about Britney and are willing to reach out and respond.  This could be great for Britney’s brand as well as being among the first few celebrities to join sites like Twitter and actively use them to interact and not just push out information.  I hope this continues not only with Britney and her team but also encourages other celebrities to get actively involved because they already have the fan bases to drive more people onto sites like Twitter thus taking it more mainstream.  I’d be interested to know how many new people are discovering Twitter for the first time solely because they saw the logo on Britney’s website.

Now I want to hear your thoughts on this in the comments below.  Do you think it’s good that celebrities like Britney Spears actively use social media sites such as Twitter?  What advice would you have for them or their teams if they were to read this?

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