December 31, 2009

Google Phone?

Will Google be able to market and support a phone? Why not. See the article and my comment at Ad Age

December 27, 2009

YABR Yet Another Book Review

Time for YABR, Yet Another Book Review.

I was in the bookstore the other day, just browsing around, and I saw this on the shelf in the business section. Digital Marketing: Strategies for Online Success, by Godfrey Parkin.

Something about the small, paperback and decidedly “not slick” cover design drew me in. Plus, I checked the pub date—it was published in September 2009. That’s about as recent as one can get with a book on any facet of the internet.

The book is generally written for the reader looking to start or improve a B2C ecommerce web site with better digital marketing – web site, email, search, buzz/social marketing. But it’s just as useful for those doing business-to-business or even "just blogging."

The most important feature of the book is that the author stresses planning. You have to have a vision and a strategy to get there before you get started. Makes sense. How else are you going to integrate all your marketing messages towards any constructive outcome?

The book takes time to outline the planning steps that should precede any design and implementation. And it includes a great outline of a digital marketing plan.

But don’t worry; even with all this planning, the author is still on board with rapid prototyping, testing, refinement and even throwing away ideas and starting again. It’s just that all of that works better if your goals are set ahead of time. I agree. It’s far too easy to jump in to digital marketing and start executing. Unfortunately, it can be a catalyst for disaster!

As I mentioned up top, the book was written in 2009, so the examples are fairly up-to-date—at least for a few more months.

The book is brief enough, yet comprehensive enough to be a great guide and reference for the small marketing department—like a valuable consultant. I recommend Digital Marketing: Strategies for Online Success for your bookshelves.

December 23, 2009

December 22, 2009

Stupid Chart Tricks

One thing Mckinsey does well is charts (you can subscribe to their Chart Focus newsletter). In fact, they wrote the book on it (check out the book, Say It with Charts).

But how do you make charts like these from McKinsey ...

... when you don’t have a graphic design professional at your fingertips (or on your payroll)?

One method is to use Microsoft Office Drawing tools or a similar vector graphics package. The pros here are that you get total control over visual effects for every line, bar, pie slice et cetera. And you can make them data driven, sort of, by using the shape position and size parameters to scale everything correctly. The cons, of course, are that it’s not very easy to incorporate changes in data. Forget just plugging in new data tables and getting the charts redrawn.

A second way: you can struggle with Excel or Microsoft Chart objects in Office. But even with SmartArt you are limited with design and layout options.

I recommend a program called SmartDraw. Download it here.

Still, you need to know how to coax SmartDraw into making a chart like the one above.

Here’s the Chart Focus visual reproduced using SmartDraw.

The “Initiatives” textbox is left as an exercise for the reader!

For a detailed tutorial, read Reproducing the Chart.

December 18, 2009

Be Useful and Entertaining

I avoided blogging for such a long time partly because I was too busy actually working. But also, I was completely turned off because of the Echo Chamber.

All those blogs about how to write blogs, how to drive traffic to your blog, how to make money off your blog. It seemed like a closed circle of people reading each others blogs—and probably not even really reading the posts, but just cross-linking each other to prove that it works. A Self-Fulfilling Blogphacy.

Blogging about blogging. It was like those insufferable rock songs about being rock stars. (That said, I do like Life’s Been Good by Joe Walsh.) Or a book about how to get rich playing the lottery—hey, if you can write that book, why don’t you just get rich playing the damn lottery instead?

And too much of the blogosphere smelled like the movie industry, which is always congratulating itself with its own award ceremonies. “Hey, hey. Look at us. Aren’t we all so great looking and such great Actors! See us laugh and clap for each other! Life is good. You want to be us.”

So when I saw John Chow’s blog described on IgorHelpsYouSucceed as
“Another famous blogger. John Chow makes $40,000 a month of [sic] his blog by showing other people how to make $40,000 a month of [sic] a blog.”
I thought, “Ugh.” But I followed the link anyhow. (Hey, $40,000 a month! You have to at least see it!) And low and behold, it turns out it’s a very useful and entertaining site.

And in the end, that’s the real filter for a good publication of any kind. Be useful or entertaining. And when it’s both—it’s a hit! Even a blog about blogging.

Here’s a sample from John Chow dot Com (by a guest blogger), titled Why Your Blog Is Not Getting Attention And How To Fix It

Now, where did I see that poll for the Bestest Blogging Blogger award … ?

December 14, 2009

The High Tech Marketing Bible

Every time I re-read the marketing classic, Marketing High Technology, from William Davidow, I’m reminded how the more things change, the more they stay the same.

If you’ve never read this book, you are really missing out. If you have read it, go back and read it again. Sure, the product examples now seem out-of-date. And there’s nothing directly about e-marketing practices.

But that is what makes it so great. You can forget the technology and focus on what marketing is really all about:
“Marketing must invent complete products and drive them to commanding positions in defensible market segments.”
From strategy to good customer service, from working with sales to value pricing, this book covers it all. Here’s another great observation, from Chapter 11, “Do You Have Marketing?”:
“Companies can finance a lot of marketing activity and still not have marketing programs.”
Which brings up the second point—the more things change, the more they stay the same. Many books on marketing 2.0, the new marketing and so on like to hype up the fact that everything is different now. Forget everything you knew about marketing. The rules have changed. Have they?

In my opinion, digital marketing, social media marketing, e-marketing are less a complete change and more the results of the same types of change that technology developments always engender. That is, technology changes the economics—the relationship between cost, speed and reach—of marketing. But none of this really changes the principles of marketing. The “digital marketing” goals of web pages, social media, and e-mail marketing are the same as those of “old marketing.” And they’ll be the same for the next technology enabled innovation.

Of course, from Fan pages to Tweets, there are best practices and things that don’t work. There are amazing success stories and there’s a (big) Wall of Shame. But that has always been true. In the end, it’s creating loyal communities and getting the message out and driving your brand or product or service to a commanding position in a defensible segment.

As a good exercise, read the book and see for yourself how the “old marketing” principles still apply. You’re digital marketing programs will be better off for the effort.