Saturday, October 29, 2005

Email Newsletters vs. Blogs

When WebMarketCentral was first launched, the plan was to offer an associated newsletter. After careful consideration, this ain't gonna happen. E-newsletters were, not so many years ago, a clever and unique idea (good newsletters anyway). Just a few short years later, email newsletters are beyond ubiquitous. Even the most laggard of sites offer one. People are sick of them. Email in-boxes are overflowing, few people are signing up, and fewer still are actually opening the newsletters they do receive.

Suzanne Falter-Barns does a great job addressing the issue of blogs vs. e-newsletters here. Blogs are more immediate, faster, easier, less formal, and with comments, more interactive.

In the case of WebMarketCentral, I thought about what my newsletter would include if I wrote one: a link to my latest blog posting, e-commerce news and Web marketing news headlines, a sponsor or two, and some humor. Since pretty much all of that is already available on the site -- generally with RSS feeds as well -- I decided, instead of writing a newsletter every week, I would offer a build-your-own-newsletter capability on the site. It won't have an elegant format, but it will get the job done. And it won't clutter up your in-box.

Oh, and another highly useful marketing site: Mike's Marketing Tools offers an excellent search engine rank checking tool that lets you quickly and easily see how well your site shows up, for any search term you specify, on 10 leading search engines. Very slick.

*****

Terms: newsletter marketing, blogging, Mike's Marketing Tools, search engine position check, search engine rank check, Web marketing news

The Web marketing resource portal: WebMarketCentral.com

Contact Mike Bannan: mike@digitalrdm.com

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Saturday, October 22, 2005

Two Helpful Marketing Research Sites

Got marketing research to do? Want to stay current on a topic, industry or company? Here are a couple of sites that can help.

One that's probably familiar is Individual.com. This is a free customized news service that enables you to choose topics you'd like to track -- news, trends and analysis on your competitors, customers and target markets -- and then scans and delivers this content to you via email and the Web. While it includes ads, and doesn't have the wide breadth of sources of a fee-based service like Moreover, it does a reasonably good job of keeping you informed about the topic(s) of interest to you on a budget.

A second helpful tool, one that I hadn't heard of until recently, is BPubs.com. This is a search engine that searches only business publications. If you're looking for information on a specific company or industry and are overwhelmed by the worthless crap turned up by standard search engines, BPubs.com can help by narrowing your search to only business publication sources.

*****

Terms: marketing research tools, Individual.com, BPubs.com, business research

The online marketing and e-commerce portal: WebMarketCentral.com

Contact Mike Bannan: mike@digitalrdm.com
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Sunday, October 16, 2005

How to Start in a New Marketing Role – RAPIMMR

It’s not the most elegant of acronyms, but it is a solid approach to new marketing campaigns or roles. I was recently pointed to a report from Spencer Stuart titled “A Blueprint for Top Marketers’ First 100 Days.” It’s short and worth a read, but I was expecting more of a detailed roadmap. What their advice comes down to is: talk to lots of people in your new company, establish relationships, and get them on board with your plans. That advice is solid and useful, but hardly profound.

So, here’s the roadmap I would propose, based on the acronym RAPIMMR:

R: Research. Jumping in right away with a “master plan” based on your past experience, but with no input or buy-in from your new co-workers, is a recipe for disaster. Ask lots of questions, of lots of people. What’s been done in the past? What’s worked, and what hasn’t? What’s been considered, but not tried? Ask about marketing programs, key messages, competition, and objectives. Do this both to gain knowledge as well as establish relationships. Who has great ideas? Who is really knowledgeable about certain topics?

To quote Kelly Vizzini, CMO at application virtualization company DataSynapse, from Marketing Sherpa’s case study on the firm: “When marketers go to new jobs, some say `Here’s my plan I’m going to do all these things.’ That’s the kiss of death. Why would I presume to create a whiz bang plan when I haven’t sat down and talked to my own internal audience? You have to sit down and ask them where their pain is, what works, and where are you struggling?”

Also critical is to learn about the company’s systems in place. Suppose that you want to do a targeted email campaign to existing customers in a particular industry segment; has the company even done market segmentation? Can you easily pull the list you need? Do they have tools in place to track the results once the campaign is launched? If not, you’ll need to pursue other ideas (while also working to get adequate system capabilities in place).

A: Analyze. Armed with the raw data, discussion notes and other facts from your research, what does it mean? What conclusions can you draw? What tactics are even realistic in the short term? What should you avoid? Who needs to be involved? Why am I asking so many questions? Because this analysis will be a key part of the next step, which is…

P: Plan. Based on your research and analysis of the results, develop your marketing plans for the appropriate time frame (immediate, quarter, annual). Consider messaging, medium and of course, budget. Discuss this up and down the authority change, to get the right people on board (and of course budget approval). Tweak as necessary.

I: Implement. With your plan and budget approved, now is the time to take action. Fully develop your messages, obtain lists, contact publishers, make changes to your Web site, etc. – make it happen.

M: Monitor (and modify). Track your results in as close to real-time as possible, and make mid-course adjustments as necessary. How are keywords performing; did you bid too little or too much for certain words? Tweak your bids. Are certain messages pulling better than others? If you are asking for registration or direct purchase, how are conversions; does the landing page and/or registration form need changes?

M: Measure. At the appropriate point – end of the quarter or campaign – summarize your results. Which programs did well? How does your cost per lead or sale compare across different media or campaigns? Gather all of the key information and metrics for the last stage of this cycle, which is…

R: Review. With measurement data and analysis in hand, determine what worked well, what could be done better, and what if anything failed. Review this with the key people you identified back in the first “R” (Research) stage. Share your results and get their input. This final “R” now serves as the initial “R” for you next round of analysis, planning and implementation, so that over time, this acronym actually becomes RAPIMMRAPIMMRAPIMMR… Not melodic perhaps, but (hopefully) solidly methodic.

*****

Terms: starting in a new marketing role, a marketers first 100 days, planning marketing campaigns, strategic planning for marketers, developing marketing plans

The portal for Web marketers: WebMarketCentral.com

Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentral.com

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Friday, October 07, 2005

WMC Interviews: Yvonne DiVita


I was honored this week to speak with author, blogger and expert on smart marketing to women online, Yvonne DiVita. Her book Dickless Marketing: Smart Marketing to Women Online is raising eyebrows and helping smart marketers improve their results, and her witty and widely-read blog was honored as one of the Best Blogs of 2005 by Marketing Sherpa.

WebMarketCentral (WMC): What did you do before Windsor Media Enterprises? What’s your background?

Yvonne DiVita (YD): I've been a writer for my entire life. In fact, I got myself in trouble in 2nd grade because all I did was write (and illustrate -- boy those pics should be worth $$) stories about kids and pets. My teacher called my mother. Together, they tried to convince me I needed to do things like math and science, too. Guess I buckled -- I made it into the third grade and beyond.

So, writing is in my blood. From thereon, I spent the majority of my time writing and reading. In high school I was the one everyone came to for help with term papers, although I really didn't like writing term papers. It was a prediction of future competency, however. Today, instead of writing fiction (though I still do that), I'm primarily a business writer. From the contacts and experiences of writing for business, came my desire to help other writers in their pursuit of publication. Now, I'm both writer and publisher.

WMC: How, when and why did you get started in this business?

YD: Short version -- I was frustrated being an employee. Though I had plenty of opportunities to write, I worked for a number of start-ups in the late 1990s, as a web-content writer, and I was being published both online and off, I wasn't accomplishing any real goals. I was merely pleasing others. During that time, I began to notice that women were flocking to the Internet -- many times to shop. Their busy lives were preventing them from getting out to the all-American mall. So, I thought, "Hey, here's a place I can make a difference." And, I wrote a book on Smart Marketing to Women Online. The title, BTW, is more provocative -- Dick*less Marketing: Smart Marketing to Women Online, a guide to getting women to shop at YOUR website. In the book I advise businesses to get their marketing message in front of JANE, as opposed to DICK, because Jane controls the sale of over 85% of the goods and services in this country.

I chose to published via print-on-demand, rather than struggle with a traditional publishing method, and have all rights to my book revert to my publisher. I knew POD would allow me to be in control, and to maintain my copyright. The experience was less than pleasant. The company I chose was reputable -- they had been in business for over five years, a lifetime in the POD world, and they had many, many books to their credit. Their customer service, however, was lacking. In the end, I was a frustrated customer. I did not end up with something I could be proud of (contentwise, yes -- bookwise, no) and...the POD firm refused to market the book because of the title. As if they didn't know the title from day one!

When I discovered the book was being printed right here in my hometown of Rochester, NY, and that WE are the hub of the print-on-demand world, I knew what I had to do. I knew I had to start my own POD firm, and offer authors a complete range of services, from cover design to page layout, to editing, proofing, testimonials, and even marketing. And, that's what I did. Two years ago. Windsor Media Enterprises, LLC gave birth to WME Books, and I'm glad it did.

WMC: Who do you target? Who is your ideal or typical client?

YD: Over the last two years we have refined our business model. I don't do fiction. The market for it is huge, but saturated. And, my core niche is women in business. So, WME Books targets professional women in law, medicine, and business. We enjoy working with men, also. But, the hope is that we can encourage more professional women to write books and use POD as their publishing model.

WMC: What is your key differentiator (or differentiators)? What separates you from your competition?

YD: We're online experts. I, personally, since writing my book, have a large, worldwide connection to the women's market. Since women buy and read over 60% of the books published (in the U.S.), it stands to reason that marketing books to the women's market is the best approach. That's what we do. We use the Internet (primarily blogs) to connect our authors and their books to their core audience. Because blogs are excellent book marketing tools. No other POD firm offers that kind of cutting-edge marketing.

WMC: How do you market/promote your business?

YD: We don't do much marketing, other than writing in Lip-Sticking (my marketing to women online blog) and Aha! (our authors-helping-authors blog). We've been very fortunate to have clients come to us via referrals. Down the road, I'd like to do a direct mail piece to women's organizations. I speak, also. So far I've spoken in Illinois, Denver, TX, NYC, and locally around upstate NY. That helps get the word out effectively, also. And, it sells books.

WMC: What’s the biggest or most important marketing lesson you’ve learned since you got started in all this?

YD: The most important marketing lesson I've learned is to differentiate myself from my competition, and to be comfortable with that differentiation. It pays to be in a niche market, but only if you understand the niche and can talk the talk. We know writing and publishing, and we know blogging. Together, those three elements of our business make us stand out from the crowd.

WMC: Anything else you’d like to add?

YD: I'd like to add that marketing requires attention and effort. NOTHING is for free! Don't believe those folks who try to sell you "10 Ways to Market Your Business on a Budget." That's sales-speak for a lot of bad advice. You can market on a budget, indeed. But, it takes EFFORT and CREATIVITY! I suggest folks read Mark Hughes' new book, Buzz Marketing. He has some original, engaging, smart ideas and he gives concrete examples.

And, don't forget...if you want to get in front of the women's market online, you can't beat my book: Dick*less Marketing: Smart Marketing to Women Online. I'm working on Smarter Marketing to Women Online, the 2nd in the Dick*less Marketing series, which should be out in early 2006. Watch for an announcement on the Lip-Sticking blog.

*****

Terms: Yvonne DiVita, smart marketing to women online, Dick*less Marketing, Mark Hughes, Buzz Marketing, Windsor Media Enterprises, publish-on-demand, book marketing

The Web site marketing strategy portal: WebMarketCentral.com

Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentral.com

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