When Mass Marketing Channels Meltdown – Where will YOU Get NEW Customers?

Written by on September 15th, 2008

Social Media and Online Community are your future marketing channels!

I started writing blog posting today, focusing on another issue, but after reading about the incredible events over the weekend of Merrill Lynch being bought for 50b by Bank of America in order to avoid an uncertain future (they’ve lost 8 billion this year), Lehman Brothers filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection – that on top of last weekend’s U.S government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,  – I’m kind of in a despondent, doomsday mood!   We are potentially facing a financial MELTDOWN if not today, very soon!

(industry experts are suggesting that the past two weekend board room decisions represent the most extraordinary period in Wall Street since the 1929 crash).

So let me take this moment to start freaking you out MORE by suggesting that traditional mass marketing channels are also in a meltdown phase! The newspaper, radio, TV, magazine and other mass marketing channels are witnessing a steady decline that is rapidly reaching a tipping point that will result in mass exodus of customers – which will give you access to less customers, which will result in higher customer acquisition costs and lower profits.  Interested?  Read on!

Changing behaviors

Why O’ why are we suggesting that mass marketing channels are heading for a meltdown?    It all starts with changing consumer behaviors, broadband reaching 70 percent o American homes, some 350 million plus people participating in online community and more adopting one or more social media tools (blogs, photo sharing sites, etc)    (…More…)

Internet TV Right for Your Organization?

Written by on September 6th, 2008

Libraries, Franchise, Retail, Distributors, Police, City Hall, Dentists, Sales, Real estate benefit!

The cable industry revolutionized the delivery of television programs by providing you 500+  channels.  Now the Internet is opening an opportunity for thousands, no millions of TV channels to deliver news and content to consumers computers and cell phones.

This is presenting opportunities for your organization to reach consumers to educate, inform, advertise and gather data. One of the more successful case studies I could share with you revolves around wine!   In my 30’s Jack Daniels gave me the courage to dance on tables. Today, I look forward to a glass of wine at the end of a long day to relax and slow down my brain!  It works.  (ask me later about my Wine diet!)

Probably the most successful way you can use Internet TV is to educate your customers. That’s the direction Gary Vaynerchuck took when he created Wine Library TV.  Like the Internet, wine can be a mysterious and confusing thing.  It has its own language.  Gary’s concept is simple.  He has a webcam pointed at him as he sits behind a table lined with bottles of wine, glasses and a bucket to spit out the wine he’s tasting.

It’s not a sophisticated presentation, but it works.  Gary is by no stretch of the imagination a Brad Pitt or your every day TV personality.  He not only looks like Joe Pesci, but he sounds like him too!  His rapid fire unscripted conversation gets the job done with minimal preparation or time.    He  demystifies  wine and helps consumers feel more comfortable and confident.  His reasoning?

  • The more his audience knows, they more they will buy
  • And when they buy, they will remember they guy who taught them and that they trust!

And it works. (…More…)

Lobster Fishermen Use Social Media & Internet Strategy to Bring in More Dough!

Written by on September 1st, 2008

Tips to use social media to increase profits!

The ridiculously high run up of gas prices in just one year is requiring even lobster fishermen to rethink how they do business.  When times get tough, the tough have to think smarter, not work harder, right?

In the past lobster fishermen were about as far removed from their customers as the Chinese worker who assembles the products you buy from Walmart.

Brendan and John Ready, lobster fishermen from Cape Elizabeth, Maine (both in their mid 20’s and college graduates) started using social media and their website as a strategic business tool to help them by pass the wholesale distribution system and go right to their customer.   Brendan and John decided to use the Internet to not only reach directly to consumers but also engage and involve them in their business.

To do that they built a website which they called, Catch a Piece of Maine. Their unique value proposition is built around creating an experience for their customers. They want to be your private lobster fisherman who works just for you and deliver your lobster to you via overnight delivery services. James Gilmore & Joseph Pine in their ground breaking book, The Experience Economy, suggested that people are looking for more than a commodity product and are willing to pay MORE for an experience that is tied in with the product.   The brothers understood this and decided to use the Internet to build a unique experience for their customers. (…More…)

NBC Reverses Declines by Embracing Behavior Changes

Written by on August 26th, 2008

Social media, online community, interactive websites provide businesses new opportunities

A central theme of my book Internet Dough is that the behavior of consumers have significantly changed by the introduction of practical, compelling and in most cases free services on the Internet.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that we were having to discuss “who provides the Internet?”, “Why is it free?”, “Who then pays for it?”  Later there were hours and hours of discussion about not putting personal information online and or using ones credit card.

All that started to change in 2004 as social media in the form on online communities, photo sharing sites and even ecommerce sites became more interactive and engaging.  Since that time, businesses of all types started to introduce Internet strategies to:

  1. Allow customers to “self serve”
  2. Deliver services faster
  3. Offer new products and services
  4. Reduce costs to the consumer
  5. Cut costs

In the process, by adopting Internet strategies companies world wide collectively began to change the behavior of consumers.  The more practical web based services offered, the more time consumers spent on line.  Today, according to a Time Magazine study, consumers are spending an hour more online per day than they do watching TV(…More…)

A Tire Company Online Community?

Written by on August 24th, 2008

If a tire company benefits from having an online community, so would YOU!

I was talking to a friend the other day about his desire to create an online community.  He was hot on social media and wanted to get in on the game.   He was struggling with what kind of online community he should create.   He owns a game company and has an enormous amount of content that he gets from the gaming companies about upcoming releases.  I suggested that he offer a members only online community where he offers the inside information he is getting.  Now he’s trying to decide if he should charge or make it free!

Our discussion got me thinking about the many clients I’ve spoken with who had similar thoughts.

  • Who would want to come to an online community for a cleaning company?
  • Who would want to come to an online community for a manufacturing company?
  • Who would want to come to an online community for a service company?

So what do I tell them?

My suggestion is to think out of the box.  Think about what your organization can do to make the world, your community or neighborhood a better place.   What are the burning issues that people who use your product are facing?   What can you do to give your clients and others a voice in solving those issues? (…More…)

Emerging Social Media Job Descriptions!

Written by on August 19th, 2008

The Internet is changing everything!

Businesses are having to learn on the fly how to play and do business in a world where the behavior of consumers are changing literally overnight. While many organizations saw the changes coming, most are still unaware that the Internet will fundamentally change the way they do business.

The statistics are easy to find everywhere. In just 4 years, social networking sites have exploded. Sites like YouTube grew to over 100 million users, MySpace to 180 million users, Facebook to 90 million users and even Linkedin (a business networking site) is growing by 1 million users a month!

When you compare that to the fact that the New York Times which was founded in 1851 has only 1,000,000 subscribers you begin to realize that there has been a fundamental shift in consumers behaviors.

What we are suggesting is that social networking, Web 2.0 and online community tools, techniques and strategies are introducing new ways for businesses to acquire, retain and engage their customers. The only problem is, few businesses know how to effectively use them. Worse companies don’t have the right staff to efficiently move their companies into these new areas. (…More…)

Lessons to Learn from Radio

Written by on August 5th, 2008

The Akron Beacon Journal, now a part of the Black Press newspaper chain, ran a great article about WKSU-FM, a radio station I worked for when I was in college, oh …so many years ago.

Paula Schleis the reporter zeroed in on how Al Bartholet, WKSU Executive Director used Internet technology, online community and archived content to create a profitable new product.

Bartholet had three issues he knew he had to deal with.  First, fewer young people were listening to classical music and as a result it was increasingly difficult to grow their listenership.  Second government support for public radio is continuing to decline and finally, maybe the worst of all,  the behavior of his listeners was changing rapidly.  They were becoming much more net centered!

A little brainstorming produces results!

Al had a very successful program produced by Jim Blum that aired on Friday nights.  Every program was recorded and over a couple years the station had develop a huge number of hours “in the can”.  As their team brainstormed about how they could embrace the Internet instead of worry about it, the idea floated up that they create an Internet radio station built around folk music.  For Public Radio,  this idea was not evolutionary, it was revolutionary! (…More…)

Starbucks Missed the Boat?

Written by on August 3rd, 2008

About 6 years ago I sent an overnight letter to Starbucks headquarters suggesting they consider offering their customers a private, password protected online community to continue to build their brand, engage customers and gather more data about their customers.

At the time my firm provided online communities to groups and organizations in the higher education space and we were looking for a way to leverage our product in the commercial market.  The company executive I sent my letter to was preoccupied with other issues at the time and my subsequent follow up phone call was met with a response,  well – similar to what you’ve heard from time to time in your  career – don’t call us, we’ll call you!

Fast forward to 2008 and we see Starbucks coming out with what they call their new customer online community called Mystarbucksidea.com.   The community offers customers an opportunity to help direct where the company is going and is modeled after a number of successful examples including Dell’s  Community Forum and Salesforce’s Ideastorm.   (…More…)

Welcome!

Written by on May 15th, 2008

This blog is a continuing dialog I started in my free eBook, Internet Dough. The premise of the book is that that your customers’ behavior has been forever changed by their use of social media/Web 2.0,online community and cell phones. As a result, your company has an incredible opportunity to acquire, retain and engage customers online OR risk losing your market share to competitors who do!

Join the revolution share your thoughts!