Monday, July 31, 2006

Greer's OC: A Fashionable Micromedia Site

Greer's OC is a great example of an effective consumer marketing micromedia site. Former fashion columnist Greer Wylder targets her content to, and delivers for her advertisers, a very narrow but lucrative and otherwise difficult to reach audience: upscale shoppers, primarily female, in the Orange County, California area.

For Hugh Hewitt to call Greer's OC an advertising revolution and a mortal threat to newspapers isn't off the mark. Newspaper subscriptions are declining. TiVo and XM are killing the value of media advertising. Mega-portals like Yahoo that try to be all things to all people end up being of little value to anyone. People will flock, however, in small but targeted numbers, to sites and media that focus specifically on topics that fascinate them.

So what exactly do I mean by "micromedia"? Micromedia is any form of media targeted to an individual or group of individuals that can be can be defined by a set of unique characteristics. It is much narrower than untargeted mass media, but it encompasses and is somewhat broader than one-to-one marketing. While targeted direct mail is clearly form of micromedia, and advertising during the Super Bowl is clearly not, the boundaries of what constitutes micromedia are somewhat fuzzy.

Micromedia is not to be confused with software company Macromedia, or with specific companies like this Canadian firm which focus on library resources for the elementary school market, or this commercial Unix project.

Micromedia can take a wide variety of forms.

Most blogs are a form of micromedia. Content-based ad networks are close, because those ads are most likely to be viewed by people within a distinct target market.

Targeted email and advertising in narrowly-targeted industry e-newsletters are micromedia; the audience is self-selected and virtually guaranteed to have a high degree of common characteristics.

TV is generally not a form of micromedia; even companies advertising Medi-gap insurance on reruns of Matlock end up with a lot of wasted coverage. However, advertising on the Golf Channel arguably qualifies, because both the demographic and the interest are pretty narrowly qualified.

Similarly, radio advertising is generally not micromedia; even Kim Komando's radio show draws too diverse an audience to qualify.

Billboard advertising is also normally not a form of micromedia, though it can be. For example, advertising an insurance or financial product specifically for employees of General Motors, near the entrance to one of their facilities, would qualify.

Targeted direct mail is among the oldest forms of micromedia, thought mailbox clutter is rendering it increasingly less effective.

With the explosion in electronic media choice, mass marketing is becoming more difficult and expensive. However, there are more opportunities than ever for marketers to use micromedia to deliver carefully-crafted messages of real value to specific demographic or business sub-markets. The key is to know your customers well, so that you can know your prospects well -- what do they care about, what do they need, and what will compel them to act.

*****

Terms: Greer's OC, Hugh Hewitt, micromedia, one to one marketing, targeted media

The Web marketing strategy portal: WebMarketCentral.com

Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentral.com

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Monday, July 24, 2006

Choices Expand for Customized Start Pages

Where does your browser go when the click the "home" icon on the toolbar? For many people, the answer is still their ISP's home page (at home) or whatever page their IT goup set it to (at work). However, there are an increasing number of services that let you customize your own start page. Among the first were My Yahoo and the aguably better though under-publicized Google offering, but both the choice and sophistication are increasing.

Among the new entries in this space are the very cool Netvibes and Pageflakes. These services let you customize your stat page with tools like news feeds, RSS feeds (such as your favorite blogs), local weather, your address/contact book, a dictionary, to-do lists, online file storage, mail and IM, photos, Web search, sports scores and more. Yahoo, Google and Netvibes all seem to be fairly browser-agnostic; Pageflakes appears to work best with IE.

Another service planned but not yet launched is the "life organizer" from Lifeio from ATTAP Technologies. You can sign up to be notified when the service is up and running.

Being naturally suspicious of anything that seems too cool to be free, I contacted the folks at Pageflakes to inquire about their business model. They responded quickly (something I always admire and appreciate) that their model is to build traffic first, then monetize it with advertising, and offer users a premium ad-free version for a modest fee.

All of these services are pretty slick; I'd recommend playing around with each to figure out which works best for you.

*****

Terms: personalized home page, personalized start page, Pageflakes, Netvibes

The Internet web site marketing portal: WebMarketCentral.com

Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentral.com

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Monday, July 17, 2006

Explaining Technology So Even Your Mom Can Understand It

How do you explain a highly technical product or complex service offering in an easily understandable way? Better yet, how can you explain it so simply that even your mom will understand it (assuming your mother isn't a network system administrator)?

That was the challenge facing Xiotech, a maker of storage area network (SAN) systems. CEO Casey Powell, who joined the company about a year ago, is a big fan of HowStuffWorks.com, the site that famously explains in simple terms how almost everything works, from ballpoint pens to rocket engines.

When he challenged his marketing team to develop a similarly simple way to explain Xiotech's offerings, Tom Pearce and the rest of the group came up with...the Mom Button. After all, how better to explain complex technology in terms so simple your mom can understand it than to have a mom explain it?

Since the initial launch of the Mom Button, the original "Mom Explains Xiotech" concept has been expanded to have Mom discuss server consolidation, clustering, and business complexity. In addition to explaining esoteric technology in simple terms, "Mom" puts a human face on the company. Even more impressively, while this is the kind of creative thinking often associated with marketing agencies, the marketing team at Xiotech developed the Mom Button internally.

There are many ways to humanize a company, from Protomold's quirky Professor Plastic, to sending out personalized letters from your CEO, to blogging. But Xiotech's Mom Button certainly ranks as one of the more clever and effective ideas.

*****

Terms: Xiotech, storage area network marketing, Protomold, Professor Plastic, Casey Powell

The portal for Web site promotion strategies: WebMarketCentral.com

Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentral.com

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Best of the New Marketing Books

Three outstanding new marketing books have been added to the Top Marketing Books page on WebMarketCentral.com, the Internet Web site marketing portal.

First, Lead Generation for the Complex Sale by Brian Carroll presents a strategic approach to generating profitable leads. Brian's book outlines a proven approach to generating qualified leads for complex sales, which frequently involve pre-sales engineers, subject matter experts (SMEs), and even corporate executives, as well as traditional sales professionals. The complex sale -- which combines elements of consultative, competitive, and team selling -- is now the norm for business-to-business sales. Brian's book shows how to identify your best leads and target sales approaches; align sales and marketing to optimize both the number and quality of leads; build strong sales pipelines; and use multiple lead-generation vehicles, including email, PR, referrals, blogs, and speaking opportunities.

Second, Waiting for Your Cat to Bark? : Persuading Customers When They Ignore Marketing by Bryan Eisenberg, Jeffrey Eisenberg, and Lisa T. Davis, makes the obvious observation that one message no longer fits every audience, but presents this in concise, entertaining, and highly readable chapters. The Eisenberg brothers and their co-author create "personas" representing broad consumer types, identified as "methodical," "spontaneous," "humanistic" and "competitive" shoppers. They then provide marketing scenarios guiding each type to the point of sale. Increasing media fragmentation makes traditional mass market advertising obsolete (an idea noted here previously). People aren't "markets," they're individuals. And in the age of Tivo and a billion Web sites, useful information has far more power than anything viewed as marketing fluff.

Finally, Blogwild! : A Guide for Small Business Blogging, by Andy Wibbels, describes the increasing popularity of and rationale behine business blogging, and provides a guide to creating a profitable business blog. Wibbels shows how blogs can help, in an informal and friendly way, to promote your business and create buzz, reach new customers, put a human face on your company, and influence industry media.

*****

Terms: Internet web site marketing, top marketing books, Lead Generation for the Complex Sale, Brian Carroll, Waiting for your cat to bark, Eisenberg brothers, Blogwild, Andy Wibbels

The portal for Internet Web site marketing strategy: WebMarketCentral.com

Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentral.com

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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Blog Tools and Stuff

If (like me) you've chosen Blogger as your platform for online disquisition, you've noticed that it's fast and reasonably intuitive, but lacks a few basic functions. The folks at Quick Online Tips have rectified that with Free Essential Tools for Bloggers, an excellent list of add-ons that expand the capability of the platform.

The list goes well beyond the common tools such as Pingoat and Technorati (well known and also covered in Best Practices in Blog Marketing) to include traffic-generating and tracking tools, as well as mobile blogging. Definitely a post worth bookmarking and coming back to.

That's the tools. As for the stuff, Larry Bodine has written an interesting piece over at RainToday titled It's Not Too Late To Start Blogging - But It Will Be Soon. (Yes, Brian Carroll beat me to this; when does he sleep?!) Registration is required to read the full article, but it's free.

Larry provides seven great reasons to blog, most of which are covered in Why Write a Blog for Business, but includes the timely advice: "If you fail to set up a blog on your special topic, someone else will claim it before you do." He also provides a number of tips for producing a successful blog.

That's all I will say, lest I violate Larry's tip #3: "Keep it short."

*****

Terms: Brian Carroll, Larry Bodine, why blog for business, blogging tips, RainToday.com

The portal for Web site marketing strategy: WebMarketCentral.com

Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentral.com

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