unboxed marketing

group therapy for marketers and business owners

Archive for March, 2009

you the product: did you know

Posted by Steve Buchholz on March 31, 2009

If you watch this video and still don’t think you need to work on You the Product, it might be too late.

Other You the Product posts:

You the Product: Where the Jobs Are

You the Product: Bloggerific Advice

You the Product: What’s Your Plan B

Advertisements

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social network prescription refill

Posted by Steve Buchholz on March 30, 2009

since your customers will talk about you, you should join the conversation.

since your customers will talk about you, you should join the conversation.

The other day I encouraged doctors to embrace social media by asking customers to publicly rate the service patients receive.

Robert Scoble is on the same page. He writes about Yelp, a business rating website that has driven patients to a doctor he mentions:

Ask Christina Tan. She’s Milan (our son)’s new doctor. [Scobletook a picture of her and wrote about her here. How did Maryam (my wife) find Christina?

Yelp.

See, on Yelp, Christina is the top rated pediatrician in San Mateo.

The only businesses concerned about being rated publicly fall into two categories:

  1. They know they are offering substandard service.
  2. They don’t understand the power of social media and its unstoppable momentum.

Right now, I would guess most businesses and professionals fall into the second group. That’s the easy one to escape.

If you’re in the first group, you have a lot more work to do.

Posted in social media | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

connecting across platforms

Posted by Steve Buchholz on March 29, 2009

the office tv show's creation of online communities is a lesson for all marketers

the office tv show's creation of online communities is a lesson for all marketers

The TV show, The Office, is a huge hit that has done a great job of using the Internet to connect fans to the show. Here’s how they do it:

  • The show’s website is a lesson for all marketers. The site’s discussion boards allow fans to talk to each other, building word of mouth advertising, speculation, and anticipation about future episodes.
  • The show’s characters blog about life in the fictional office and their lives outside of work.
  • Multiple actors and staffers Twitter about all kinds of things.
  • There are videos, games, photos, and all kinds of other features that could keep a super-fan busy for hours.
  • There are even links to websites for obscure show-related products, such as Princess Unicorn.

The site is updated often, so there’s almost always a reason to come back. The built-in interactivity gives visitors a way to voice their opinions and discuss every aspect of the show with like-minded folks.

Whether you like The Office or not, the show has done an awesome thing here. They are giving fans multiple ways to connect to the show and its stars. There’s no need to wait a full week before experiencing the show. You can do it any time.

The Office can invade your inbox if you subscribe to the Dunder Mifflin Scranton branch newsletter. The e-publication includes missives from various characters who write in character. It’s one more way for fans to connect.

The lesson for marketers is simple. Do something worth talking about and help people talk about  it. Make it easy for them to spread the word within and outside your community.

With out-of-the-box social networking tools like Ning and easy-to-use blogs like those at WordPress, it couldn’t be easier.

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prescription for social media

Posted by Steve Buchholz on March 29, 2009

social media allows consumers to rate everything, including doctors

social media allows consumers to rate everything, including doctors

What makes social mediaso successful? It’s people talking to people directly, unbound by limits of geography, time, and previous personal connections. It’s also successful because it gives every consumer nearly instant access to consumer reviews about every product and service available.

Doctors are no exception. Not surprisingly, patients have begn rating their doctors on services provided. Also not surprisingly, doctors aren’t very keen on the idea of patients posting their thoughts about how well their doctors performed.

One doctor-rating site is ratemds.com. The Rapid City Journal ran a localized story about the site that quotes unhappy docs from South Dakota.

It’s interesting that doctors believe they should be immune from customer reviews. No one else is. You would think any professional would welcome feedback from customers about the products and services the professional offers. That feedback is, of course, the backbone of excellent marketing and the key to improving the things we offer consumers.

One group is helping doctors fight against online criticism. According to the Rapid City Journal story:

It’s that sense of declaring open season on doctors without having to sign a name that’s led a North Carolina company, Medical Justice, to market a waiver agreement to help physicians fight back. They can ask patients to sign a waiver to agree not to post online criticism.

Holy smokes. So much for the First Amendment.

Instead of fighting against online reviews, doctors should embrace this feature of social media. It’s not going away, so why not make the best of it? Doctors should create ratings features on their websites and invite feedback. If the doctors provide great service, patients will tell the world. Patients will also tell the world when they aren’t happy, but if they include their criticism on the doctor’s website, the doctor will know about it and can respond appropriately.   

That’s the other wonderful thing about social media. It allows every business the opportunity to interact directly with customers without the filter of the mass media or the constant, unwelcome interruptions caused by traditional advertising strategies.

We need to do it realize the ground is shifting. And we need to go with the movement because we aren’t going to stop it.

Posted in social media | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

white house open for questions

Posted by Steve Buchholz on March 26, 2009

barack obama is using a new rules strategy to answer your questions directly

barack obama is using a new rules strategy to answer your questions directly

President Barack Obama has found another way to communicate directly with the people and sidesteep what has become an increasingly irrelevant mass media.

Obama will answer citizen-submitted questions beginning at 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time today. You have until 9:30 a.m. to submit questions at the White House website. as of this morning, nearly 80,000 questions have been submitted. In a neat twist, you can vote on your favorite questions and the ones you want the President to answer.

This isn’t Obama’s first attempt to reach around the media. Obama updated his Twitter page this week for the first time since the inauguration, and he appeared on the Jay Leno Show last week.

All these strategies are very New Rules. It’s always better to communicate directly with your audience, whether it’s the American people or the customers of your dry-cleaning business.

It’s not that TV news and newspapers are bad. It’s just a better option to communicate with people without the news media filter that can dilute, alter, or truncate what you want to say. Instead, use the incredible array of available technologies to talk to your customers.

Make sense? What do you think? Is the President on the right track with his communication strategy?

Posted in communication strategies | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

adjusting your story

Posted by Steve Buchholz on March 25, 2009

are you telling stories your customers want to hear?

are you telling stories your customers want to hear?

Great stuff from the Tom Peters blog about doing business during uncertain economic times. Here’s a link to Part 4 of 2009 Recalibration, but I recommend reading the entire piece.

The author is right on with his insights. Things are different now. People are afraid. Their purchasing habits have changed, and I think attitudes are changing as well. This attitudinal adjustment will continue, I think, for some time, especially if the recession drags on for some time.

Businesses need to rethink marketing strategies now to match the new realities.

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walk the talk

Posted by Steve Buchholz on March 24, 2009

Credibility is power. Or maybe it’s the other way around.

Either way, if you want to put yourself out there as some kind of expert,

businesses need to walk the talk of their marketing promises

businesses need to walk the talk of their marketing promises

you better walk the talk. I recently wrote about David Meerman Scott and inconsistencies I saw between his marketing suggestions and his marketing practices. I just ran into something similar with another new marketing author.

Paul Gillin’s book, The New Influencers, is good. It’s a great introduction to the use of social media (especially blogging) in your marketing strategies. I recommend the book.

However, in at least one footnote and at the end of the book, Gillin encourages readers to visit newinfluencers.com. So I did. I wanted to read the promised resources and check for updates. Too bad the link takes you to a site for something called Mambo. I have no idea what that is, but it appears to have nothing to do with Gillin or his book.

This can happen, I guess, so I went to paulgillin.com for better directions to the New Influencers website. I found a link to “New Influencers book,” clicked on it, and found myself…back at Mambo.

Marketing is a promise to customers. When we fail at delivering on our promises, customers begin to doubt your credibility. Do that enough and customers will lose all trust. It’s tough, if not impossible to recover from that. That’s more true today than ever. Survey after survey shows that most customers do not trust what businesses say.

We all will make mistakes, but we can’t let them stand. We need to fix them as soon as possible. We need to remember that our marketing is our promise. And we need to fulfill our promises by living our marketing.

Posted in social media | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

snowstorm marketing

Posted by Steve Buchholz on March 23, 2009

After watching the behavior of Rapid Citians yesterday and today, I  have the perfect promotional idea for grocery stores, video rental places, pizza joints, and gas stations.
plan a snowstorm to make more money

plan a snowstorm to make more money

It’s a complex strategy, so take notes. If you do it right, people will line up at your business and buy nearly everything in sight. It’s true.  

Ok, here it is. Ready? All you need to do is …

Plan a snowstorm.

It will work every time, and your bottom line will never thank you more.

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personal watermelons

Posted by Steve Buchholz on March 22, 2009

A big pile of almost-volleyball-sized watermelons greeted me on a recent trip to one of Rapid City’s Family Thrift Center supermarkets. The display’s sign promoted the fruit as “Personal Watermelons.”

 

I love that. I don’t buy watermelon very often because there’s just too much pressure to eat it all before it’s no longer fresh. The watermelon people have solved that problem by remaking their product, most likely by inbreeding small watermelons until the personal-sized melon was achieved. You can find a more detailed explanation at the Wise Geek website.

what's the personal watermelon you can offer your customers?

what's the personal watermelon you can offer your customers?

 

The watermelon folks then named the smaller melon so shoppers would immediately know the product was new and that it solved a problem.

 

This might seem trivial, but it’s really not. It’s also a wonderful marketing lesson for every business. Our products and services don’t meet the needs of every customer. If we understand the needs of those customers, we can then look at our products and services and find ways to adjust them to grow our markets.

 

For example, a college might begin offering a program at an off-campus location so students who can’t make it to campus for whatever reason can still pursue a degree. A restaurant might offer ready-to-go meals someone could pick up quickly on the way home. A newspaper’s website could allow readers to create personal portals that display customized content.

 

None of those ideas are that complicated, and they could make all the difference in solving the problems your customers face.

 

What’s the personal watermelon you can offer your customers?

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you the product: where the jobs are

Posted by Steve Buchholz on March 22, 2009

CNBC hosted what the channel called a town hall meeting called Where the Jobs Are. Great stuff.

it's never too soon to start working on you the product

it's never too soon to start working on you the product

The three panelists included Jeff Taylor, founder of Monster.com and CEO of EONS.com. The panel offered job search and self-improvement advice to those who have lost jobs or expect to join that rapidly growing group.

The show matched nicely with some of the You the Product thoughts this blog has written about in recent days. I don’t think you can be too worried about your job situation. No matter how safe you think you are, you need to think about the future and what you’ll do if your company closes or they dump you (or me) in the name of the economy.

It’s time to work on You the Product.

Posted in You the Product | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »