~ Archive for Marketing ~

48 Tips for Better Writing, Reporting


Valuable footprints from this month’s National Writers Workshop in Hartford, Connecticut have been left on this Poynteronline blog, 48 Tips in 48 Hours, a collection of practical reporting and writing ideas. Even if you’re not a reporter with a beat, many of these tips are applicable to many kinds of writing and general business situations. A few of my favorites:

  • #7: Keep it simple… (click through to read more)
  • #23: Write a killer lead…
  • #21: Rewrite the lead… and the whole damn thing…
  • #26: Be the expert…
  • #40: Ask yourself why do my readers care about this topic now?

Want Business? Survey Says: Pick Up the Phone


I was given a press copy of a recent benchmark study by the Wellesley Hills Group, “What’s Working in Lead Generation,” which provides plenty of insight into professional services firms attitudes and activities in getting new business. What caught my eye right away, was what participants identified as their top 5 most effective lead generation tactics:

1. Making warm phone calls (to existing clients)
2. Speaking at conferences
3. Running our own in-person events
4. Becoming members of professional industry organizations
5. Connecting with press contacts

1756.gifIn a competitive market (84% of respondents expect a “significant” or “moderate” increase in their lead generation efforts within the next 2 years) whether you are a boutique firm or a large firm, you should expect that your competitors will be contacting your clients and prospects — by phone and at events. Also, if you’re workday is anything like mine, the default forms of communication have become asynchronous (e-mail, texting, etc.). There is now added value in a phone call — seems like it really is the next best thing to being there.

For more information, you can download an executive summary of the report, which asked 700 professional service firm leaders about their lead generation activities. I will post some more revelations once I get further into the study.

Amy’s 2006 Top Ten Web Diversions


Here’s my annual internet stocking stuffed with what’s trendy, newsworthy and just plain fun in web content. Get ready for hours of viewing, listening and reading/linking pleasure! Bookmark this page for future reference. Happy Holidaze!

1. Top Web Video Spot
The web story of the year is YouTube, hands down. Its limitless potential and example of viral, user-contributed content garned $1.65 billion (gulp) when it was gobbled up by Google. For the uninitiated, here’s a brief sampler of its deep wells of self-broadcasts and bootlegs.

2. Top Example of How Big Media Works (or Doesn’t)
Here’s how the major networks covered the 2006 White House Correspondents Dinner, and here’s the scathing (and one would think newsworthy) 20-minute Stephen Colbert roast that was not reported or mentioned anywhere by big media. Just another reason why you should support “Net Neutrality”, Free Press, Media Matters or your local NPR station.

3. Top Viral Marketing Campaign – US
Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty featured this Evolution film, which exposes the fashion industry secret that beauty really is skin deep. (More on the campaign here). If immitation is the highest form of flattery, then this campaign was well received… see parody here.

4. Top Viral Marketing Campaign – UK
This Sony Bravia commercial, which ran only in the UK, spread across the pond due to its visual vivacity and viral components, spawning spin-offs and parodies as well. (More viewing options here.)

5. Top How-Not-To-Brand Lesson
Speaking of parody, here’s a funny homemade video that answers the burning question: What if Microsoft designed the iPod?

6. Top Web Quiz Tool
At GoToQuiz.com you can design your own web quiz, or browse through existing quizzes such as these two that measure: How Massachusetts Are You? and Are You A True Red Sox Fan?

7. Top Web Mashups
“Hey, you got peanut butter in my chocolate!” Reeces may have invented the mashup in the real world, but here’s what happens when you move that concept to the web and combine publicly available data with open-architecture web apps (Web 2.0):

8. Top Web Radio Streams
Streaming radio is all around. Here are two at the top of my iTunes list. For the holidays: listen in on Xmas in Frisko, a slightly alternative Christmas playlist. For the rest of the year: dial up David Byrne Radio, it’s like having a really hip friend spinning records on your command. Or if you’re just looking for a quick work break, bookmark NPR’s Song of the Day to stay tuned in.

9. Top Full-Album Streams
iTunes (and others) reshaped the music industry, and now you can shop, sample and stream all over the web. Some favorite newcomers in 2006: Lupe Fiasco (plus video) and Cat Power. And some old favorites with streaming projects: Neil Young’s annotated Living With War is a full-album stream with ongoing news and related links, Paul Simon’s Surprise offers full streams of about half the album.

10. Top Hollywood Blogger Toppling the Tabloids
The 4-million-hits-a-day, sleazy celebrity blog, PerezHilton.com, is beating the tabloids at their own game and creating a controversy and lawsuit in the process by posting tabloid photos and adding crude comments and rough pencil sketches in the name of satire, similar to other wildly popular blogs in the genre Pink is the New Blog and the tamer by comparison Go Fug Yourself. (Hey, I don’t write ’em I just report on ’em.)

Count Your Blessings Bonus: The Global Rich List.

Bunny Bonus: Not to worry, here is the latest Bunny parody, Christmas Vacation in 30 Seconds Re-enacted by Bunnies! For past bunny classics, explore the archives below.

Don’t stop now, there’s still plenty of goodies in previous TTWDs:
Amy’s 2005 Top Ten Web Diversions
Amy’s 2004 Top Ten Web Diversions
Amy’s 2003 Top Ten Web Diversions

The ultimate List of Lists

Steal These Ideas!


Here’s a collection of marketing examples with double value. Besides being worthwhile in their own right for their content, they are excellent examples of information-based marketing that may inspire spin-off ideas. To paraphrase Pablo Picasso — “Good law firm marketers copy; great ones steal!”

1. Publish something useful AND cute
This little book titled The Essential Little Book of Great Lawyering, by Jim Durham, is a great gimmick. Beyond the worthwhile content — a distillation of Durham’s 20 years on all sides of attorney marketing — the fact that it’s published as a little red book (and not just another Microsoft Word article) makes it harder to ignore, easier to pick up, harder to throw away, and more likely to be read, remembered and passed along. I got my copy from Law Practice Consultants.

2. Publish a free PDF magazine full of useful info
InnovAction magazine, a free PDF downloadable, high quality magazine from the College of Law Practice Management, is a great idea in itself to engage potential members. But what really caught my attention was one bit of advice in one of the articles. Matt Homan of LexThink, Inc. offered in a panel discussion on marketing this “radical proposal: designate this year the ‘Year of the Client.’ For one year, take your firm’s marketing budget and spend it all on client satisfaction instead.” A bit of extreme advice, but right on target. See page 46 of the download for more details on this idea, and read the entire piece for more nuggets.

3. Create and offer proprietary industry information
The Wellesley Hills Group, provider of business development and sales training for professional services, has mastered the art of informational marketing through its web site RainToday.com with its collection of expert content. Recently it offered a report and survey results titled, Deadly Selling Mistakes You Make When Selling Your Services —- And What You Can Do About It. The 20-page PDF report offers original useful information on 10 pages (I recommend it!), and takes advantage of the opportunity of having attracted your attention to promote its related seminars and training tools on the other 10 pages. Whether or not you sign up for the seminars, you’ll remember them and their expertise. Nicely done!

4. Provide a free service as a loss leader
Another great idea to steal (also found in the InnovAction magazine previously mentioned, page 58) is DLA Piper’s Venture Pipeline service. The unit reviews more than 1,000 business plans a year and offers feedback and advice and refers the best of them to venture capitals. The kicker? There is no fee for the service. According to the article, “the paypack comes in the form of business development for the parent firm.”

5. Think viral
This really has nothing to do with law firms, but it really has nothing to do with anything. A band called okgo has risen out of relative obscurity by creating an extremely unique synchronized treadmill video. The highly contagious viral is making the rounds on the internet via YouTube and now okgo is a top selling album on iTunes and elsewhere. How might virals work for you?

Tips on Selling and Networking


I found these two recent manifestos from Change This to be entertaining and valuable refreshers on selling and networking. You may also.

The Care and Feeding of Your Network, by Bob Allard

111 Ridiculously Obvious Thoughts on Selling, by Tom Peters

Future of Advertising


Interesting show on The Future of Advertising on WBUR’s (Boston NPR station) OnPoint program. Listen to audio of show.

If you write it, they will come.


A news item in the recent issue of the AMA’s Marketing Management magazine reveals that corporations plan to increase use of outsourced professional services such as IT, marketing and legal services. The survey by RainToday.com reveals where corporate executives expect to find professional service providers — in a nutshell:

69% – presentation at conference/event
62% – industry web site articles
61% – trade show exhibits
45% – direct mail
40% – webinar
37% – e-mail
32% – online ads

What’s this mean? Speak. Write. Exhibit.

“The franchise is the content”


Interesting comments at Online News Association Conference from Tom Curley, CEO of Associated Press, on how Internet is more than just another distribution medium, “it has become our entire business environment…”

Key outtakes:

“Content will be more important than its container “as technologies such as search, RSS and Tivo will “unlock content from any vessel we try to put it in.”

“The franchise is not the newspaper; it’s not the broadcast; it’s not even the Web site. The franchise is the content itself.”

“…get ready for everything to be “Googled,” “deep-linked” or “Tivo-ed.”

Seems the NFL and IBM already know that.

8 Steps to CAN-SPAM Compliance?


Found via Be Spacific, here’s a good article on Marketing Profs — Is Your Company CAN-SPAM Compliant?
by Neil J. Squillante.

Good Resource for MarComm


I recently signed up for Harvard B School’s free companion e-newsletter to its Working Knowledge web site. This week’s issue had a couple interesting items for marketing communications buffs.

1. Speechwriting Under the Gun
It doesnt matter to your audience if you have ten days or ten minutes to write a speech. You still must deliver. Here are tips for speeding your speech prep.

2. Ad*Access and The Emergence of Advertising in America
A database of advertisements from 1911 to 1955. (This link brings you to a page of recommended web sites in addition to the Ad*Access Site.)

Visit the site, sign up for the e-newsletter. Both are excellent examples of giving away “information of value” to gain exposure, showcase expertise, build awareness and strengthen brand. Beyond that, the editorial is set up to trigger sales of products and encourage additional viral marketing.

E-mail Marketing: Text v. HTML?


I’ve read lots of opinions on which is better. A lot of e-mail marketers pushing HTML newsletter solutions will swear that HTML is best. However, here’s an interesting test survey on MarketingSherpa.com that shows there’s not a big difference… both work about equally.

Personally this has been my experience. I run a monthly e-newsletter for a client and we send out a plain text e-mail newsletter with lots of hyperlinks to full articles on the web site (including a link right at the top to an HTML version of the entire e-newsletter). Some people click to the web version of the newsletter (identical in content), others scroll through the plain-text email and click through to articles of interest.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record (scratched CD? corrupt MP3 file?), what’s more important than the platform is the presentation of the content. I get lots of cluttered, poorly focused, salesly HTML web marketing that fail to communicate quickly and effectively. In such a case a well written, logically organized, easy to navigate, plain text e-newsletter that offers me information I need is going to make me click.

How about you? Got an opinion or a study on this topic?
Please comment.

Advertising and Web Content Get Blurry


During Consumer WebWatch’s First National Summit on Web Credibility, Dave Kurns admits to having an “obsession with how advertisers are becoming content creators and syndicators…. advertisers are creating content and then shoving it to people, saying, ‘Put it on your Web site. It’s free of charge. Now, either don’t charge me for it or charge a different price.'”
See the transcript of the panel discussion, Web Publishers Grapple With Guidelines on Consumer Web Watch.

More on News-based Marketing


Interesting post on marketing in near real time — or how to get rich selling “I survived the [disaster d’jour]” T- shirts — on how news-based ads appeared immediately following the blackout on Design Media blog.

Mixed Reviews for Web Advertising


While a study from the Interactive Advertising Bureau claims online ads are up 7% for each of the first two quarters marking a sea change, see Online Advertising Showing Signs of Recovery… and the Motley fool cites a WSJ article claiming similar good news for web advertising in Web Ads Cycle Up… Some attribute context sensitive search engine ads for at least part of the upswing. But don’t get too excited. A Reuters article, Web Search Content Ads Seen Falling Short shows the search engine ads to be serving up ads that people treat like banners.

This all seems to correlate with eye-tracking studies of people’s viewing habits that show that they stare at the “content well” waiting for the content of a page to appear, and don’t pay attention to banners, images, and navigation, unless they don’t find what they are looking for. Which only portends a future where content and advertising are likely to become (more) blurred.

Searching for clues…


A couple of the very interesting findings from the Pew Internet & American Life Internet Use by Region in the United States (August 27, 2003)…

“New England is one of the most wired regions in the United States, with 66% of adults online…”

“…And 89% of New England’s Internet users have gone online to try to find the answer to a question — a higher proportion than in any other region of the country.”

Supporting the content-based, online informational marketing approach that I’m often heard spouting about.

Testing the Markets of Information


Lately I’ve been using blogs (or web logs) as experiments to test the markets of information. As the web (read Google) evolves, it gets better at rewarding good content. While email systems have trouble routing out spam, Google seems to be doing a good job of it. You can’t “trick” search engines for long before they are on to dubious ranking schemes. So the best way to “optimize” a site for search engine success is the “old fashion way”… you’ve got to earn it. Earn it by writing relevant content.

Write about the right thing* and the world will beat a path to your door. Literally. And weblogs seem to be playing a large role in how information is disseminated among the powers-that-be in netland. (That’s why I’ve launched an entirely new web log, called Big Needle, to use for experiments and selfish acts of search engine optimization, information dissemination and self promotion.)

It’s also interesting to test the markets of information by “info-fishing.” An interesting experiment (you can do yourself at home) to chart the mood of the marketplace is to go to Daypop and track “word bursts” or “news bursts.” It’s also interesting to track what Google pulls on a particular phrase and what Feedster, which searches exclusively web logs with RSS feeds, pulls on the same bait. Which cast pulls in the more valuable fish?

As an optimizer/marketer/snake oil salesman, if you use the right bait (content on your web site), and cast it well (properly tagged and optimized), and have patience to wait… you may get a big bite. Don’t be discouraged by small bites. They all add up and, as we know in the fishy food-chain, little fishes leads to big fishes.

* and optimize it properly.

Why You Should Include Blogs In Your Marketing Mix


Thanks to Sabrina Spacifici’s BeSpacific mention of Intro to Weblogs for Law Firm Marketing, I’ve heard from many folks including Jerry Lawson, whose article Web Logs for Lawyers is most interesting for its discussion of web logs effect on search engine ranking. Says Jerry,

“…it is easier for search engines to understand blog content than conventional web site content. Therefore, they tend to rank blogs higher than they would a conventional web site that has identical substantive content…”

Having other sites that link to you is an important part of building your search engine presence. Blogs are an easy way to accomplish that. The added feature of RSS feeds — which automatically syndicate your blog entries to other web sites that aggregate these feeds — helps further spread your news throughout cybersace. We have yet to see the full impact of RSS on how we filter and receive our news.

However, using web logs in your marketing mix is not a gimmick. As with other internet publishing tools such as web sites and e-newsletters, creating good relevant content is the key. (See my article Providing Information of Value Builds Relationships and Trust for more on this point, as well as Markets Are Conversations.)

In fact, I’m beginning to recognize some strategic content/usability issues arising regarding spreading your gospel via web logs. A well-written web log entry headline is as important to your entry being properly indexed by search engines and news aggregators as is a properly written meta tag title for a given web page. More on this later…

Web Log Business Strategies Reporting


Denise Howell of Bag & Baggage provided terrific play-by-play reporting of day one of the ClickZ Weblog Business Strategies conference. For those of us who could not attend, it’s almost like being there. For more reports see Corante on Blogging for links.

Heath Row carries the torch for day 2.

Don’t miss his report of The Law of the Blog panel. Bring lawyers, blogs and money. Here’s Donna Wentworth’s notes on same.

Thanks everyone.

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