Posts Tagged ‘business building

04
May
10

5 reasons blogs pay off

A frequent comment from businesses and people new to blogging is:  I have a website, so why do I need a blog?

Here are 5 reasons blogs pay off.

  1. IMPROVED BRAND IMAGE: Positive perceptions of  a business or company increase +36% if there is a blog either on or linked to the website. That’s because consumers view you as accessible, transparent and willing to help (source: Nielsen) .
  2. BETTER SEARCH RESULTS: A blog is a major asset for better search results, especially since you can link your blog to others (and visa-versa), a primary characteristic search engines use for determining relevance. For example, my name, Rob Petersen, is pretty common. In searching the name, this site, BarnRaisers, comes up 4th, ahead of a famous magazine publisher and a former running back for the Philadelphia Eagles (sorry, I’m not them).
  3. STRONGER RELATIONSHIPS: 95% of people never read more than 5 pages or spend more than 5 minutes on a website (source: comScore). If your company or brand website has more than 5 pages, consumers are likely to get to know you better through your blog than the chance your website can beat these odds.
  4. RETURN ON INVESTMENT: “Open source” blogging platforms are very good now and keep getting better.  To reveal a little about myself, seven months ago, I built this site with a little sweat equity and $7.50.  Given the platform capabilities, I also made it the company website and put 5 tabs on top to tell the story of our business (with great respect to comScore). Although it also took knocking on dozens of doors (well, dozens of dozens) to secure initial assignments and there was  time, travel and other business expenses, blogs played a critical role delivering the necessary ROI to  start and build a business.
  5. SHARED OBJECTIVES:  Blogs and brand websites share (at least they should) the same business objectives; that is, to drive leads, provide useful information, be helpful, convert consumers, complete desired transactions (e.g. create inquiries, sign up subscriptions, make a purchase) and keep your audience coming back to build your brand. Can any business have too much of that?

I go to blogs, before websites, for inspiration, ideas and help.  Bloggers I admire keep me in the know and have graciously helped me, either directly and indirectly, be a better communicator, business person and blogger.  I also feel like I have a relationship with someone which is always preferable.  Just a  dozen of the many I turn to are:

  1. http://www.chrisbrogan.com
  2. http://sethgodin.typepad.com
  3. http://mashable.com
  4. http://www.marketingprofs.com
  5. http://www.bloombergmarketing.blogs.com
  6. http://www.tomhcanderson.com
  7. http://www.marketersstudio.com
  8. http://mackcollier.com
  9. http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com
  10. http://www.n2growth.com/blog
  11. http://conversationagent.com
  12. http://altitudebranding.com

A blog I also admire for its business acumen is http://www.singleservecoffee.com

The blog’s creator has smartly identified a topic that is also be a niche business in a big, crowded, competitive category.  The brand name/URL establishes category authority and comes up #1 on search engines for “single serve coffee” and “single serve coffee makers.”  The blog reviews products, has relevant ads (that generate revenue) and sells single serve coffee makers and accessories direct to consumers.  On the site, there is also social community on the subject.  The ROI must be extraordinary.

Does this help you see the value of blogs?

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12
Mar
10

Shhh! 10 social media secrets for maketing with women

I had the privilege of being on a radio show panel with some great people.  The topic: “How Social Media Gains Trust and Advocacy in Marketing with Women.”  Since women make 85% of buying decisions and are faster adopters of social media than men, it was a timely and interesting topic.  The radio show was “Real Women on Health” and the panel was:

  • Toby Bloomberg, Founder, Bloomberg Marketing, a strategic marketing and blogging consultancy and Forbes’ Top 20 Women Bloggers
  • Kelley Connors, President of Real Women on Health!, a multi-channel community with a radio show, top-rated women’s health web site and significant affiliate partnerships
  • Tom H. C. Anderson, CEO of Anderson Analytics, a market research consultancy, and chairperson of LinkedIn’s most active networking group, Next Generation Market Research
  • Rob Petersen, President of BarnRaisers, an online marketing solutions company using social media and proven relationship marketing principles
  • Cassie Holm, National Strategic Alliance Director of Real Women on Health!, was the moderator

Everyone took the opportunity to learn from one another.  Here are 10 tips to gain trust and advocacy with women using social media.

  1. Invite in: Women are 3X less likely to care about the size of their network than men.  Size may not matter but being shown personal attention does.
  2. Understand who you’re talking to: 74% post pictures of family/friends and 71% talk about what they’re doing now as opposed to 60% and 58% for men.  Take advantage of the opportunity and get to know them.
  3. Listen and respond: Listening is a fundamental skill but, equally important, is proof you did.
  4. Set guidelines and expectations: You can’t read body language on a social network.   Security and privacy are big issues.  Create a comfortable environment.
  5. Be transparent: If you’re not part of the group and “trolling” for business purposes, you are very, very likely to be found out so be open about who you are.
  6. Talk rather than target: When women are online, 50% are connecting with family and friends, reading someone else’s blog or posting a comment.   They’re socializing so shouldn’t you?
  7. Respect values: Dove ran a campaign on Facebook, “12 going on 20.”  It asked young teens to describe what mattered when they were 5, 10 and 15 and how it influenced them today.  It’s a great example of how social marketing showed respect for values.
  8. Engage rather than sell: 60% or more are uploading picture or watching videos when online.  Work as a co-creator, not a marketer.
  9. Social media = social networking + social issues: It called “social” media for a reason.  Make the most of both of them.  Your audience will appreciate you did.
  10. Give back – it’s part of the culture:  You get back more when you give.  That’s what we’re trying to do.

You can also hear the podcast at http://bit.ly/avmz1d.  Or let us hear from you.

03
Mar
10

Case study: social media brings out advocates and ROI

I’ve had clients tell me they’re from Missouri – you know, the “show me” state.  I must  work with people who’ve spent some time there because I hear the phrase, “show me,” a lot.

Here’s a recent experience of ours we’re glad to have done for a worthwhile cause.  It shows us social media:

  • Works
  • Works even better when it’s integrated into the marketing mix
  • Is highly accountable
  • Builds brands

But that’s our opinion.  What does this case study show you?

SOCIAL MEDIA BRINGS OUT ADVOCATES AND ROI FOR COLGATE/STARLIGHT FOUNDATION

SITUATION: Every February, Colgate Palmolive helps the Starlight Foundation, an organization dedicated to improving life for terminally ill children.  They donate a Wii Fun Center every day to a deserving children’s hospital.  Consumers vote at the Colgate website for their favorite children’s hospital to be recipients.

Awareness occurs through radio, major magazines, online advertising, PR and events, with the challenge to increase outreach, voting and participation every year.

SOLUTION: In 2010, social media is integrated in the marketing mix.  A social media “app” is developed for the voting at http://colgate.com/showthelove.  Through the “app,” consumers are able to: 1) Locate their favorite children’s hospital,  2) see who the daily winners are and 3) encourage their friends on social networks and relevant blogs to get involved.  Recommendations are delivered with a branded “Show the Love” digital mnemonic (visual in the center above).

RESULTS: Social media outperforms outreach expectations, shows significant return on investment and plays an integral part in the program.

  • 20% of consumers who vote also share on their social networks and blogs.  For perspective, typical response rates for promotions on consumer packaged goods brands are less than 5%
  • They are on the social media “app” 3X longer than the web site
  • 25% of total traffic comes from social media; mostly from Facebook
  • Total social media impressions compare favorably to mass media because the average Facebook user has 130 friends
  • Text analysis shows learning and offers direction for next year’s efforts
  • Lead acquisition occurs and a database is built; it’s now an activation source for future brand building programs

The investment in social media, relative to total program costs, is a small, single-digit percentage.   It delivers double-digit results.

24
Feb
10

Men are from mars and women are all over social media

If the differences between men and women are widely acknowledged in best-selling books, is it time to stop thinking about social media as a unisex voice?

It’s already well-known that women make 85% of the buying decisions in this country but did you know:

  • 65% of people using social media are women
  • 60% are boomer women
  • 55+ is the fastest growing segment on Facebook
  • 52% of searches women do are for someone else
  • 85% are looking for an independent review by another woman

The numbers get even higher on the subject of health care where virtually all health care buying decisions are made by women, not just for themselves and their families but as caregivers to parents, relatives and extended family.

A woman named Kelley Connors is doing something about it.  Kelley started an online community called Real Women on Health; http://realwomenonhealth.com a place for Baby Boomer women featuring candid conversations and expert commentary about health and wellness.  Kelley started the community, after she learned from study after study, women who talk with other women about the same health interests or conditions actually have better outcomes.

As proof women want to share their collective wisdom in social media, in just a few months, Kelley has built a multi-channel community with over 10,000 members on her top-rated community web-site, blog-talk radio show, Facebook Fan Page, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts and received a content sponsorship grant from the National Women’s Health Resource Center, the largest clearing house for women’s health care information.  When linked to affiliates partners, Real Women on Health reaches 5,000,000 women.

Kelley is using Real Women on Health for moderated conversations with advocates about health and wellness products and services this high value group really wants.  She tries to listen with questions to her community like “what are the health topics you’re most passionate about?”

Listening skills are important because women believe they are misunderstood by:

  • 59% of food marketers
  • 66% in health care
  • 77% in automotive
  • 84% in investing

According to the Harvard Business Review, their primary sentiment with marketers is frustration.  If you don’t believe me, ask the woman up top.

Do you believe marketers listen and understand you?

Listen to a live blog talk radio show, How Social Media Gains Trust and Advocacy in Marketing with Women, on March 9th at 6:30.  Here’s your invitation from Kelley to join the conversation:  http://bit.ly/aWOJwD

28
Jan
10

Social media case study “plays in Peoria”

I started in marketing working on consumer packaged goods brands.  New products always had to prove themselves in mid-West test markets.  The logic was, if a new product demonstrated success in a place considered a typical American city, it would be a hit nationally.  But, first, it had to “play in Peoria.”

Companies went to great length and considerable expense to find these middle-ground markets and replicate the exact environment to occur for a national launch.

Now, the learning and formula for success is more expedient.  A restaurant in Milwaukee, WI,  used Twitter and now it accounts for 75% of business.   The restaurant is AJ Bombers and that’s a large percentage.  Its owner, Joe Sorge, says AJ Bombers wouldn’t be in business without Twitter.  Joe says it keeps relationships alive.  It gives him the ability to communicate with customers every day, thank them, and, if they ever have a bad experience, he has the chance, through Twitter, to make it right, right away.

Frankly, what Joe just described is good business strategy through any media channel.  But I have a feeling it’s one of many you’ll be hearing from social media.  Here’s Joe’s testimonial; one that “plays in Peoria.”

This story tweeted by my friend, Steve Haweeli, whose company on the East end of Long Island, WordHampton PR, knows about PR, social media, restaurant marketing and good business strategy, like Joe’s.

31
Dec
09

What a picture tells

The best presentations always have the least amount of words.

Because pictures tell a much more interesting story.  It’s easy to dispute words; it’s hard to ignore what a picture or graph says.

Like the one below, a graph of people who queried Google about “social media” over the last six years. It tells me just how social media crossed a lot more people’s minds a lot more often this year and, although I can’t know if the rate will increase like this in 2010, it tells me it’s about to get a whole lot more interesting. What does it tell you?

You may already know about Google Trends and what a great resource it is. But, if you don’t, you can examine trends on any topic you could possibly imagine for free at http://www.google.com/trends. Think about it for your presentations next year. All the best in 2010.

27
Oct
09

Words of wisdom

cover[1]sn7926[1]Two of my favorite business books are Blue Ocean Strategy and Groundswell. The first is my recommendation for best book on opening up new markets and the second is the definitive primer on how social media and online communities work to build business.

Taken together, they are a roadmap for brand vitality where the highway is a well crafted business strategy.

In Blue Ocean Strategy, W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne advise companies to stop competing in the bloody, market share stealing “red ocean” and find uncontested market space in the “blue ocean.”  Like Cirque du Soleil.  They eliminated  costly to maintain circus animals, marque names and expensive arena rentals and created their own portable show; one that was fun, family entertainment in the consideration set with dinner and a movie or a night out; instead of a once a year major event.

Recently, I gave a friend a copy to help him rise above his red ocean.  He owned a bike store in town.  For over 20 years, his shop was known for superior service and customer involvement.  This year bike sales slowed, competitors cut prices and his landlord raised his rent forcing him to close up shop.

He saw uncontested space going direct to customers with two well-branded vans.  This took advantage of the reputation he built for personal service.  He generated more awareness from referrals and vans travelling around towns than a stationery store and his operating cost dropped.  Now, he’s back in the black with a reinvented business.

Groundswell by Forrester analysts Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff explains the effectiveness of everything social from wikis, blogs, social networks to brand communities.  They present compelling case studies; all beginning with a company’s unmet business need, social media tactics that meet the business objective and return on investment is well detailed.

Take Blendtec blenders.  They’ve sold exclusively to the commercial market since 1978.  Starbucks uses them.  In 2007, they decided to sell to consumers directly with videos from owner, Tom Dickson.  With an investment of less than $1,000 for videos that ran on YouTube, company sales increased +500%…plus the cost of an iPhone.




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