Blogtipping. Friend or foe?

October 2, 2006


I fully admit I am still a neophyte in the blogosphere.  I aspire to be a seasoned vet and no doubt will get there one day.  But I’m still learning.

I spotted an interesting trend over the past few days that has been given the moniker of blogtipping.  The premise is a simple one.  On the first of every month, bloggers introduce their community to 2-3 new blogs.  With each introduction is a shout out for a few things that make the blog good and the author then offers one tip on how the blog could be even better.

Easton Ellsworth gets the nod for starting this new custom.  Ann Michael, Mike Sansone, Phil Gerbyshak and Liz Strauss took blogtipping to a hilarious turn by creating a 4-part ode to the notion.  Cute…you bet.  But does it make marketing sense?

Traditional views in marketing is that the world is a competitive place. Does it make sense to tell your “customers” about something they might like better than what you have to sell?   Shouldn’t you do  everything in your power to keep them enamored with you and their eyes off any potential competitor?

Nope.  Have you ever tried to hold a puppy who didn’t want to be held?  They squirm, wiggle and whimper until you let go.  Customers are the same way.  No one wants to feel bound against their will.  You will earn their loyalty and respect (and repeat business) by demonstrating that you know them well enough to point them in the direction of other products, services and in this case, blogs that they will benefit from discovering.

The benefits to you?  Clients love referrals.  If you introduce them to something/one they love, they’ll love you even more!  The other benefit?  If you scratch my back, I might scratch yours.  It’s human nature to learn more about someone who makes a referral to you.  If you’re a good fit for their audience, those you have tipped will probably return the favor.

Is there a downside?  I don’t think so.  I highly doubt that anyone unsubscribes from a blog which has successfully blogtipped them to another great blog.  After all, you’ve just demonstrated that you know your customer well enough to know what else they’ll enjoy.

So blogtipping is a great marketing strategy!  And I will be joining the fray of tippers come November 1st!  Hats off to Easton and everyone else who embraces the blogosphere by recognizing that believing in abundance is a much smarter strategy than clinging to the poor puppies!

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Window dressing for your blog?

September 30, 2006

Want to add a little window dressing to your blog?  Why not add a favicon?  A what?  Yup, A favicon.  Short for "favorite icon" it’s a small icon that appears in the address bar of browsers when they are visiting or have bookmarked your blog.  If you’d like to learn more about it, check out typepad’s support page on the topic.

I noticed when using my NetNewsWire (an amazingly easy reader if you don’t already have one) that some people had little icons next to their blog name and others just had more generic google or typepad icons.  So I did a little legwork…and stumbled upon a post at Pajama Market.  If you don’t know this blog — you’ll want to.

It a favicon necessary?  Of course not.  But, it’s a little window dressing.  And that makes good marketing sense.

Remember, whether we are talking a blog, a deli, a dry cleaner or a tech support services company, you have a lot of competition.  Your potential buyers are looking for clues as to how you might be different from the others.  They want to have a sense of you. Your window dressings (elements that are more style than substance) can tell them a lot about your organization’s personality.

It’s human nature to seek out people/companies that feel comfortable. Birds of a feather an all.  So by giving your potential customers a peek into your attitude, it allows them to make a better choice.  It’s the difference in choosing Ben & Jerry’s Chubby Hubby ice cream versus Kemp’s Old Fashioned Maple Nut.

Any time we can help a consumer decide to choose us OR not choose us, we win.  We earn customers who are a good fit and avoid those that aren’t.  Isn’t that what branding is all about?  Helping people know whether or not you’re a good fit?

So what will your favicon say about you or your blog?

As for this blog’s favicon?  Considering the name, I opted for this visual.  I found lots of stopwatches, but I liked how this one was looking at the watch from a different angle and looking more closely at the watch’s details.  That description felt like a good fit for my posts and thoughts.  What do you think?


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Get the referrals that are best for you!

September 30, 2006

A roll of shiny grey duct tape.Image via Wikipedia

John Jantsch over at Duct Tape Marketing had an interesting post about referrals and being wiser about who you ask to be a referral source.  He makes a very valid point — some clients are better referrals than others.  I could not agree more.

But I think it goes beyond that. Before you can know which clients are best suited to help you grow your business, you’d better know what you are best suited to deliver.   As we’ve talked about before, branding is for the bold.  When you have the courage to define your organization’s brand, by default you are also saying that you’re not going to try to be everything to everyone.  Branding is about narrowing your focus and your reach.  You will not cast your net as wide.  But you will drill down a lot deeper.

So let’s say that you are a healthcare copywriter who’s passion is for making complicated medical information accessible to the lay person.  Your best referral sources are going to be clients that have hired you to do that sort of work.  Sure, you’ve taken generalist copywriting jobs.  And those clients probably love you too.  If they happen to refer you — great.  But concentrate your energy in terms of actively soliciting referrals within your area of expertise.  Honor your brand.  Actively grow your business within your brand.  Drill deeper.  And ask your best clients to help!

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Want to be the Supreme Bean?

September 27, 2006

A couple posts from the always insightful Phil Gerbyshak and the beautiful and passionate Kammie Kobyleski (sorry Phil, you just don’t quite make it to beautiful!) have me thinking about how critical it is to bring our passion and positive attitude to work every day.  How you celebrate doing that says a great deal about your organization’s culture…and your brand.

At McLellan Marketing Group, we embrace our sense of teamwork with a bit of proverbial tongue in cheek.  Everyone is assigned a different kind of bean.  Because of my habitual kidney stones, yes…you guessed it, I got kidney beans.  There are lima, coffee, pinto and a variety of others.


We also printed up index sized cards that say "You’ve been beaned" and have some room to write a note.  The premise is simple.  When one of your teammates goes out of their way to be helpful or supportive — you bean them.  You write a little note, thanking them for what they did and leave the note and one of your beans on their desk.

At the end of every month, we tally the beans.  Whoever received the most beans is declared the "Supreme Bean" and heralded by everyone. They also receive a $10 gift card.

Over the years, many of the employees have created quite a collection of beans that they proudly display on their desks in a variety of creative containers.

Easy.  Cheap.  Fun.  And a great way to declare our absolute intent to be passionate about the work we do, our clients and perhaps most of all, each other.  Do you suppose when we add a team member and explain the whole bean thing, they get a sense that team focused is one of our core values?

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Don’t let your technology embarrass you!

September 26, 2006

As a blogger on TypePad, I access my account by going to their home page and entering my userID and password.  Simple and efficient.  The TypePad home page is clean and well organized.  It has plenty of links and concise bits of information.  All what you would expect from people who use technology to make a living.


Here’s the odd thing.  Every time I go to their home page, the exact same quote appears.  Now, wouldn’t you think someone as sophisticated as the TypePad folks would use the power of their own technology and have quotes rotate?  If that was the case, I probably wouldn’t have even noticed.

Although it isn’t really fair, we consumers tend to notice things that seem deficient or out of place.  Don’t let your use of technology suggest that perhaps you haven’t thought it through, or even worse yet, don’t quite have a handle on it.

What does your technology say about you?

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Put me in coach, I’m ready to play!

September 24, 2006

Even if you don’t like baseball (which, btw is sick and wrong) you have to like the song Centerfield by John Fogerty.  Great melody and a great message.

The song is about passion for the game and a hunger to play it.  That’s sort of how I’ve been feeling about blogging of late.

Once my blog coach, Mike Sansone, turned me onto the power of blogging, I’ve been hooked.  Images_1

Mike’s an amazing combination of coach, cheerleader, and play coordinator.  He’s helped me with the technology, the culture and the nuts and bolts of blogging.  The generosity of his spirit is only eclipsed by his vast knowledge on the subject.  That’s what makes a player or a coach great.  Anyone can understand the rules of the game or even the mechanics of it.  But, when something ignites your passion and you can’t wait to step up to the plate again — that’s what makes a champion.  And in the world of blogging, Mike is just that — a champion.

So, if in the infancy of my blog I am doing anything right — clearly it is a credit to Mike.  I am pretty darn sure that any of the mistakes I have or will make along the way are all mine!

Thanks coach for helping me get into the game!

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Be bold or go home!

September 22, 2006

Yesterday I talked a little about apathy and that I believe it is the #1 killer in business today.  I believe employees are apathetic today because they have no idea what their company stands for.  Either the company has not made a brand promise or even worse yet — they have made a "safe" brand promise.  You know the ones I mean:

~ The difference is our people
~ Your success is our success
~ Quality is job #1

My translation of those kinds of brand promises is:  We have no idea why or how we’re different from our competitors so we’re going to say something safe.  Who can argue with good service or quality?  The problem is the business owner or marketing manager’s flawed assumption that either the competition has only hired morons and boobs or that the potential customer can actually tell the difference between an A- product/service and an A product or service.

At my shop we call those types of taglines or brand statements — weasel words.  Why?  Because they are so vague that they mean absolutely nothing to the consumer.  So why bother?

Branding is for the bold.  If you aren’t willing to stand for something concrete and make a substantial promise that makes you a little nervous — then don’t bother.  Be bold or go home.

How’s that for being direct?

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Could you possibly show more apathy?

September 22, 2006

United Airlines Caravelle PhiladelphiaImage by j3net via Flickr

I hate to pound on the airlines.  They’ve been bloodied and beaten up enough.  But man, they make it easy to shake your head and mutter under your breath.

I flew United today from Des Moines to Denver to Jackson Hole, WY.  (You don’t get anywhere direct from DSM!)  When we landed in Denver, everyone waited like Pavlov’s dogs for the seat belt bell to ring and then leapt from their seat.  Only to stand there.  And stand there.  And stand there.

Finally, the flight attendant got on the PA and announced that the gate agent couldn’t figure out how to get the jetway to move towards the plane so they’d called in back up.

No apology.  No "we know you have connections, we’ll call them and explain" or even a "I know this is absurd but…"  Nothing.  She did however, go to the galley and grab herself a can of soda.  The only thing she could have done that would have been more insulting is if she’d started to file her nails.

I’m not ranting because I missed my connection (I didn’t) or because we had to wait 30 minutes (we didn’t) or that in the grand scheme of things it ruined anyone’s day (I doubt it did) but simply because if there is anything that will kill your business — it is apathy.

If you don’t have a passion for the work you do, the people you serve and the product/service you deliver — then stop doing it.  If you can’t get worked up over your work — find different work.

What does this have to do with marketing?  Everything.  But this things long enough today, so let’s cover that tomorrow, okay?

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Could you get to Cooperstown without a map?

September 19, 2006

Sure, you probably could.  But you’d make a few wrong turns along the way.  You’d waste time and resources (gas) and with today’s prices, that could cost a pretty penny.

The same is true of marketing plans.  Can you be successful without one?  You bet.  Will you get there as quickly or with a full tank of gas?  Nope.  95 business owners out of 100 do not have a marketing plan.  They have no written map that will show them how they plan on getting to their goals.  So guess what?  Most of them never get there.  Of the 5% that actually have a written plan — less than 3% actually refer to it or use it as an action plan.

Do you have a written marketing plan?  If you do — is it gathering dust or propelling you towards your success?

Why not hop on the highway and beeline for your company’s version of Cooperstown?  (BTW…for those of you who didn’t recognize it, Cooperstown is the home to the baseball hall of fame.)  If you’re headed that way, don’t forget your map!

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The Mall of America offers marketing insight

September 17, 2006

I brought my daughter and one of her best friends up to Minneapolis and the Mall of America.  I know, I know.  I keep telling you — I am dumber than I look!


For those of you who have not visited the nation’s largest mall, it has an amusement park of sorts right in the middle.  So while the girls were in line to go on a contraption designed to lodge their stomach in their throats, I was doing one of my favorite things, observing life as it meandered by. 

I found a bench where I could see the girls and do some people watching.  The bench happened to be right next to one of those "smash a penny" and imbed some picture on it for a souvenir.  I glanced and noticed that the penny memento would cost you 51 cents.  I shook my head, thinking they probably never have to empty out the cash box on that machine.  Who in the world would spend 50 cents to mutilate a penny, only to toss it into their underwear drawer when they got home?

I sat there for about 15 minutes.  In that span of time, 5 different sets of people gleefully got their penny souvenirs.  Shows you what I know!

What a great marketing reminder.  Just because we do or don’t like something does not mean our target audience feels the same way.  We must resist putting ourselves into the potential customers’ shoes.  Or, we can imagine that everyone is just like us AND accept the fact that we’re going to miss out on selling a lot of pennies!

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