Posts Tagged ‘return on investment

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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29
Apr
10

What marketers can learn from a hip hop producer

The New Music Seminar is rolling across the country this year.  It might not have come up on your radar screen, but it came up on mine.  The seminar’s creator and producer, Tom Silverman, founder of Tommy Boy Records, is a friend from college.

Tom (on the left) made a seminal contribution to hip hop when he discovered Grandmaster Flash and recorded the hip hop classic, Planet Rock; then came Queen Latifah and Naughty by Nature and others.

The purpose of the New Music Seminar, which began in 1981, is to give aspiring artist in all music genres the knowledge and tools they need to succeed in the music business which, according to Tom, is in a period of profound change.  No longer do new artists need to focus their time, attention and energy on getting signed by a record label and the slim chance they will be funded and made into a star.

Today, record labels rarely take chances on new artists.  Instead, digital technology, the internet and social media now make it possible, sometimes even free, for artists to do it themselves.  Wikipedia covers the history of the New Music Seminar in detail at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Music_Seminar

More people want to become professional musicians than ever.  In fact, the number of records from new artists has risen from 79,000 in 2007, to over 110,000 in 2008, to an estimated 145,000 in 2009 – almost double in 2 years.  Although competition has increased significantly, online tools are so readily available, if someone has 1000 loyal fans and tours throughout the year, they can now make a living doing what they love.  But the key to doing what you love, according to Tom, is you’ve got to know your fans.

Anyone who owns or manages a business or brand, or is thinking of starting one, can benefit from this lesson in the music business; especially if you thought you needed to focus time and attention blasting the word out to as many people as you can.

How well do you know your 1000 most loyal fans?

The New Music Seminar is rolling into New York City from July 19-21.  For more information, go to: http://www.newmusicseminar.com/blog

21
Apr
10

“Advanced” social media workshop

If you happen to be in the vicinity of Stamford CT Tuesday night (4/27) from 6pm to 9 pm, we’d welcome you to an “advanced” social media workshop at UCONN.  Here are the directions  http://www.stamford.uconn.edu/visitors.htm

When we were asked by US Small Business Administration to do an “advanced” social media workshop, we thought:  What is “advanced” social media anyway?  Someone who has built up thousands of fans and followers on Facebook and Twitter? A brand with a You Tube video viewed by millions? A business using proprietary social networking technology, widgets and apps?

This didn’t do it.  We defined it as:  A business or brand that has used social media to the benefit of their bottom line; saw clear business growth, proved an ROI, communicated consistently with their customers and, as a result, has the know how, insights and understanding to do it again and again.

When we thought about in these terms, a lot of case studies came to mind.  Some from business owners who happened to be our friends, colleagues and clients.  We thought it would be more interesting for them to tell you what social media did for their brands.  Here’s the list of brands that will be discussed:

  1. AJ Bombers – A  burger joint in Milwaukee WI
  2. Vitamin Water – I guess you know this one
  3. Forever Verdant – A services company for environmentally friendly living
  4. Bloomberg Marketing/Diva Marketing – A top social media and marketing consultancy and top 20 blog according to Forbes
  5. Real Women on Health – A health and wellness community for Baby Boomer women
  6. HubSpot – An inbound marketing solutions company to grow traffic, leads and sales

For AJ Bombers and Diva Marketing, owners Joe Sorge and Toby Bloomberg will be live (courtesy of Skype) from Milwaukee WI and Atlanta GA.  After all, it’s called social media for a reason.

If it’s nearby for you, we’d love to have you.  There is a $25 fee; $35 for two.  It doesn’t go to us (or the presenters) but back to the US Small Business Administration.  We and they believe social media is a competitive advantage for small businesses who play a vital role in our economic recovery.  And we’d rather see our administration spend money on small businesses, not big banks.

It’s our 2nd of 2 workshops at UCONN this spring.  The 1st was a “beginners” workshop.  What is social media for “beginners?”  That’s a much easier question and that presentation is below.

12
Apr
10

The net promoters era

What are net promoters? Consumers who rate products on the internet?  Mommy Bloggers? People who Tweets about brands on Twitter? Fans on Facebook? Hold that thought.

For students of relationship marketing and CRM, net promoters are the driving force of Fred Reichheld’s book, The Ultimate Question. Fred studied and surveyed the customers of 100’s of companies and came to a singular conclusion: The most admired and profitable companies are the ones with the greatest percentage of net promoters – people who enthusiastically answer in the affirmative the question, “How likely is it that you would recommend this company to a friend or colleague?”

Fred developed the Net Promoter Score (NPS).  The NPS is the percentage of people who are “promoters” of a company minus the   “passives” and “detractors” (NPS = P – D).  Reichheld’s work is known for its statistical significance and high correlation with business success.  In 2006, the companies with the highest NPS were:

  • USAA (82%)
  • HomeBanc (81%)
  • Harley-Davidson (81%)
  • Costco (79%)
  • Amazon.com (73%)
  • Chick-fil-A (72%)
  • eBay (71%)

By 2008, Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, in Groundswell, delivered research showing 80% of people rate and review products favorably on the internet and their social networks. If companies with an NPS of 80% rank among the highest in Reichheld’s work, Li and Bernoff’s research is particularly good news for businesses and brands.

It means companies that use interactive ratings are reviews are likely to have a higher NPS, be more admired and have greater profitability. Li and Bernoff’s research also showed:

  • 76% of customers use online reviews to make purchases
  • 96% of sites that have them say they are an effective merchandising tactic
  • Only 25% of e-commerce sites have them now

So, from Reichheld’s, Li’s and Bernoff’s viewpoints, we’re in the “net promoters era.”  If your company isn’t taking advantage of it, shouldn’t it be?

09
Apr
10

“People don’t trust big companies, they trust their friends”

This quote comes from Jim Farley, Group VP of Marketing at Ford, who this year moved 25% of his marketing budget out of traditional media and into digital marketing and social media.  According to Jim, when new products like the Ford Fiesta are pivotal to company growth,  “the company must rely on others to tell the story.”  That’s Jim’s company up in the left and his constituents on the right.  Who would you trust?  For Ann Handley’s full interview with Jim, go to  http://ow.ly/1n3g9O

In a related move,  Pepsi, for the first time in 23 years, did not have commercials on the Super Bowl. Instead, the company is spending $20 million on a social media campaign called, The Pepsi Refresh Project, where users give ideas to Pepsi for ways to refresh their communities.

Maybe these moves reflect the facts that:

  • 90% of all purchase decisions begin online
  • 75% of people shop online before they buy offline
  • 85% are looking for an independent review
  • They have an average of 130 friends on Facebook; an average of 127 followers on Twitter
  • Positive perceptions of a company increase by 36% if there’s a blog on their website
  • 14% of people trust advertising
  • Only 18% of TV ad campaign ever generate a positive return on investment

I think Pepsi’s Super Bowl commercials are some of the most iconic advertising, ever, and believe their effectiveness was probably much greater than average.  I was sorry and sad to see them exit the Super Bowl, altogether.

But, for those 86% who don’t trust advertising, now they hear about Pepsi from who they do trust, their friends.

04
Apr
10

The Goldilocks Rule

I’m seeing a business principle take shape in social media called the “Goldilocks Rule.”

What happens is a business starts using a number of social networks (Twitter, Facebook, etc.). Maybe they use video or an app too. Pretty soon, one social networks starts working better than all the others. It’s the one that’s “just right” because it:

  • Attracts more people (fans, followers, viewers)
  • Increases sales most directly

While it’s not apparent at the outset what social network it will be, it is apparent, once it starts to happen, it’s the one that best reflects the uniqueness of the brand. Let’s look at a few examples.

1. BLENDTEC (BLENDERS):  On YouTube, the blending of an iPhone has been watched by 8,002,192 viewers. Videos of CEO Tom Dickson blending golf balls and hockey pucks have over 1,000,000 viewers each. By contrast, Blendtec has 17,145 fans on Facebook and 2,266 followers on Twitter. For a product whose benefit needs to be seen to be believed, videos and YouTube are the medium for the message.  For an investment of around $1,000, company sales increased +500%. And they still grow in direct proportion to YouTube viewership.

2. AJ BOMBERS (RESTAURANTS): Ask owner, Joe Sorge, what took his Milwaukee burger joint from $12,000/week to $17,000/week in sales and he’ll tell you Twitter, a video from Chris Brogan and great burgers. Numbers support this because the video on YouTube has 3,047 viewers and AJ Bomber’s Twitter page, which Joe uses like a virtual host, has 3,107 followers.  By contrast, AJ Bomber’s Facebook page has 1,028 fans.  Maybe that’s why Joe now has a book called #Twitterworks (http://twitterworks.tv) to go with the great food.

Both Tom and Joe’s videos are in previous blog.

3. COLGATE (CONSUMER GOODS):  We put social media into Colgate’s marketing mix by creating a social media app for their promotions and events so friends could share Colgate news with  friends. We put the app on their web site. It gives greater details on specific promotions and events and allows for sharing on over 20 social networks. We find 80% of response comes from Facebook. We also find the response rate is 4X industry norms and people spend 3X more time on the app than the web site. Since the average Facebook users has 130 friends, that’s a lot of people and involvement.

Facebook proved to be the best vehicles for conversations about Colgate brands. All of us like to talk about brands. Did you know we talk about brands on average a dozen times a day?  Now, social media makes it easier for those conversations to occur and for us to learn from them.

So that’s the “Goldilocks Rule.” We see it for brands we observe. Do you see in your industry or brand?

25
Mar
10

7 social media tips to build brands

The U.S. Small Business Administration is giving social media workshops at UCONN campuses this March and April.

52% of people in the U.S. work at businesses with 20 people or less.  Small businesses have led the country out of every recession.  Many believe, including comScore, social media will be a big asset this time around.

Since I’m one of them, I’m grateful to contribute along with Mike Rogers of Brainloaf,  http://www.brainloaf.com and other small business owners (featured below) that have used social media successfully.  Here are 7 social media tips to build brands.

  1. Strategy trumps technology: A business strategy and social media strategy are the same thing.  In using Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, apps etc., ask yourself how these amplify the business strategy and increase customer engagement and trust in your brand?
  2. Set measurements and expectations first: Don’t believe anyone who says you can’t measure social media.  You can know more about buying behaviors on the internet (e.g. where customers come from, how long they spend with you, what they do and where they go) than in your store.  Plus Google Analytics and bit.ly links are free.  If you’re not convinced, David Berkowitz has a great presentation on 100 measurements at: http://bit.ly/pmadb
  3. Social media takes time: Small business owners, understandably, have lots of priorities.  Manage what you can handle.  Customers come first.  Social media is going to be around for a while.
  4. Live with the ups and downs: What you want is a following and fans.  It doesn’t happen overnight.  It doesn’t happen the way you thought it would, but, stick with it, and it does happen.  Enjoy the journey.
  5. Not all social networks are equal: In every case I’ve seen, some social networks do better than others depending on the unique nature of every business.  For AJ Bombers, a burger joint, it was Twitter, acting as a virtual host, and a video from Chris Brogan.  For a utilitarian product like Blendtec blenders, it was unconventional product demos from Founder/CEO, Tom Dickson.  You can learn from their experiences below and expect it will happen for you.
  6. Have your online house in order: If you follow tips 1-5, you will experience increased traffic.  It will go to your web site, the most important asset in any social media program.  There’s an old saying:  Nothing kills a bad product faster than good advertising.  Today, nothing kills a good social media program faster than a bad web site.
  7. Believe in your product: Joe Sorge, owner of AJ Bombers, who now has a book, #Twitterworks (http://twitterworks.tv),   spoke in a video call from Milwaukee.  Joe says his Twitter page, AJBombers, has increased weekly sales +25%.  What was most important to his success?  “If I didn’t believe AJ Bombers made the best cheeseburger on the planet, social media wouldn’t have accomplished a thing.”

If you’re in the area, the next workshop is April 27th at UCONN in Stamford from 6pm to 9 pm.  Details will be at:  http://bit.ly/bW22Ml




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