Now That's a Show!
On Saturday May 3rd The Valley Shepherd Creamery is having their Annual Sheep Shearing event and I started thinking about how they might use the web to drive more traffic to it. Now I'm not 100% sure they need to because last year's event drew so many people and cars that it took about 10 minutes to get down the mountain into town. However, assuming they could still use more traffic....
Old School Facelift #7 Driving Attendance to Valley Shepherd Creamery's Event
That's about it for now on cost effective tactics that The Valley Shepherd Creamery can employ. Sure, they could try some do it yourself banner ads and run them across geo-targeted ad networks, but that still costs some money. If you need something great to do on Saturday May 3 in NJ, I hope to see you at the Sheep Shearing Festival.
I read the following Business Week article called Good-Bye, Cheap Oil. So Long Suburbia? and I kept thinking to myself something is missing. According to the article James Kunstler hypothesizes that the automotive age is almost history and will destruct McMansion living.
It reminded of a Yahoo Money conference a few years back when one of the speakers said "we told people to move out to the suburbs and now with the price of oil we are going to tell them to move back?" Simply put, that's basically what the article implies. Here are some quotes from the question and answers in the article:
We'll come back to that last quote in a second. What was missing for me are questions and answers about our digital society. As broadband in the US increases (currently at 58% among US households and 90% for internet users) I can't help wondering if there isn't a new local market. The local market of your home or local business center.
How many actually commute 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year? Is that declining now? How much of your work can be done locally? Haven't big companies been pushing for telecommuting for decades now? The more I spend working from the home office the more I find other people just like me. It isn't just for the sales person, but many executives, managers, and consultants power their businesses from their local area.
So why does suburbia have to die with rising oil prices? Can't it still survive at a very local level? Where is the impact of broadband penetration on Mr. Kunstler's analysis? How many people in the US just need a wireless connection, a PC, and a phone and they can conduct business anywhere?
Perhaps Mr Kunstler just didn't get to answer a question like that or perhaps he did and it didn't make the final article, but I'd like to know why can't suburbia be transformed by millions of small business, telecommuters with broadband increasing at a high rate? Aren't there more people like Mr Kunstler who describes himself as a self-employed person (author) that doesn't have to commute?
On Friday I was reading a Wall Street Journal article on possible Iranian weapons being sent into Iraq when I saw this surround session online ad buy by La Cense Beef. Yes a Montana cattle ranch is using banner ads combined with search ads to sell their premium beef via the internet. I think I've seen it all now.
What originally caught my eye was not the creative which was tastefully done, but the fact that the media purchased was on the Wall Street Journal which historically has very high ad rates and given the assumption that it wasn't contextually targeted (Iranian weapons may not have been the chosen content for a beef campaign) you have to assume that they have a pretty savvy media buyer. I didn't see a print ad in the WSJ (I could have missed it), but assuming there isn't one you have to make the assumption that La Cense Beef made a brilliant decision to go online instead of wasting dollars on a newspaper campaign.
The website is well done with great imagery and great information including some good promotions to get you going. However, what kept me thinking was - how much is the cost per acquisition in order to afford an ad buy on the Wall Street Journal? Well one look at the price of their products you can see how they can afford this ad buy.
12 steak burgers weighing in at 4.5 pounds for $40.46 plus shipping is quite high. How about a ribeye at 9.5 ounces for $18.88 plus shipping? Yes I understand from their well designed site that grass fed beef is better for you as well as the open ranged cattle and I seriously considered buying it just because I wanted to test it out. However, I spoke with my father who told me that it might not taste as good as what I can get locally because they need to freeze it to ship it to you and beef cells lose something when frozen. I looked on their FAQ for something to combat this, but didn't find anything other than their guarantee.
I hope La Cense's online advertising campaign produces results for them. It is great to see a non-Fortune 500 company using their ad dollars so wisely. Clearly targeting the readers of the WSJ was a key segment for them and going online where you can track it and get demonstrated results is the way to go. Personally with my father's advice I couldn't pull the trigger because it is a little expensive to test out and waste by keeping it in the freezer. I really hope they succeed.
Got a phone call the other day from my friend Richard Kosinski who wanted to let me know that he was leaving Yahoo to pursue a senior position with WestwoodOne. I've know Richard for many years, back to his Forbes.com sales days when he met with me while I was at Harrisdirect trying to get me to buy a brokerage package from them (he wasn't able to close the deal). Richard ended up at Yahoo about 4 years ago as the Finance Category Director trying once again to get me to buy something from him, but he sadly couldn't (I was already buying millions from Yahoo).
Recently Richard was running Yahoo's Political Advertising and that's where he really cut his teeth. Richard was the political evangelist that could meet with any person at any level (President, Senate, state level) and convince people why the internet should be an important part of any political campaign. And while his time was short lived in this job, he had an impact as he met with many political organizations to push online advertising including tough groups that still believed direct mail is the way to go. Basically he gave us cover while he did the education heavy lifting.
(NOTE THE REST OF THIS POST IS ABOUT MANAGING A CAREER DURING ANY KIND OF TAKEOVER AND NOT SPECIFIC TO RICHARD. I'VE BEEN A VETERAN OF MANY TAKE OVERS AND MERGERS SO I HAVE MY OWN OPINION).
While Yahoo is making inroads into politics, it is becoming increasingly difficult to hold on to talent at all levels, not just the CXO level. With the looming MSN deal or any other deal that Yahoo might undertake to stave off the Microsoft take over, they are suffering the fate that all companies do when they are in the process of being changed; good people don't see a concrete future and when something good comes along there is nothing holding them back
Its a funny thing about politics. There is a definite start and end date. Once November rolls around it is over for a few months until the next cycle starts again. Throw on top of that uncertainty about your own personal job and that causes you to start to look around.
I've lived through quite a number of acquisitions and finally chose not to survive one when E*Trade swallowed up Harrisdirect, so I understand what goes through a person's mind when you realize the path you are going down is ending. It is hard to keep talented people around when you don't have a clear long term path with a definite end date staring at you in the face.
It reminds me of a part of Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Inside the book is an image that I've never forgotten even though I probably read that book 10 years ago. It is a picture of a guy climbing to the top of the ladder with the caption "what happens when you climb the top of the corporate ladder and realize the ladder was leaning up against the wrong building?" You too should check to make sure your ladder is up against the right building.
I've had a love-hate-back to love relationship with Twitter. It went into the serious love relationship when I downloaded Twitbin for Firefox. Twitbin puts the updates on the left hand margin of my screen so I have an ongoing dialog running and can get news updates, friend updates, and other internet thought leader updates during the day. It really makes it easy and removed one of the challenges I had with Twitter which was to open another tab and hit refresh to see what was going on. It is like having an unlimited IM friends list without the annoying blinking when someone wants to find me. However, Facebook for me is getting pushed aside.
This isn't to write that I think there are flaws with Facebook. I just think that Twitter solves a lot of professional issues with Facebook. To me the updating features in Facebook was what made it so interesting to the non-college aged crowd. You can post updates of yourself and then see updates from your friends, however Twitter is Facebook updates on steroids. The links that get posted on Facebook are easily pushed out on Twitter without all of the annoying content or images that take up space; Twitter - you have 140 characters to push your message out. Sure Twitter is text based, but you can always get a link to pictures and videos.
Now we Professionals can keep our Rolodex LinkedIn product and couple it with Twitter to get into the update mode without having to resort to Facebook which to me has become inundated with gadgets, join requests, and gaming requests; so much so that I really don't understand the point of joining a cause that requires me to take no action.
Between my blog, RSS reader, LinkedIn, and Twitter updates I keep that professional internet feel all while participating in the update world with other professionals. I'm starting not to miss Facebook. Now if only some of the companies using Facebook to push updates out will turn to Twitter; that would be the unobtrusive, short text way to go.
A couple of good stories from the past two weeks that I'd thought you'd enjoy. I was too busy with the Board of Education campaign and now that it is over, I'm catching up a bit.
About two weeks back I was down in DC/VA for meetings and the first night I was there I went to a McCain fundraiser with folks from Campaign Solutions, Connell Donatelli, and the campaign. Towards the end before we scrambled for dinner, I walked up to a true internet legend former eBay CEO Meg Whitman. Whitman knew about our phenomenal Search ROI and was very impressed with it and that gave me a personal boost knowing how large eBay's search campaign is. I can't get into much more about what we talked about, except I asked for this picture with her. Yes I'm in a suit....
Next up was an interview I gave for Mother Jones magazine called Googling for McCain. Believe it or not, I'm always very nervous when I give interviews, but this one scared me the most. Not because of the magazine, but because the reporter wanted to profile me. It seems a friend of hers had some McCain campaign ads running on their website and she wanted to know how they ended up there. So instead of being content after finding out it was Google, she contacted Peter Greenberger who runs politics for Google and then wham - over to me. I've had a few jobs in between AT&T and Connell Donatelli, but all and all an interesting article.
Finally, iCrossing came out with another study on Presidential Paid search campaigns and guess who came out on top? No it wasn't the Obama campaign, it was the McCain campaign (surprise). Kate Kaye from ClickZ had a flattering post on the analysis called Clinton: Bitter About Search Ads? where she looked specifically at paid search instead of lumping in SEO and SEM as some other sites did. Kate highlighted that we spend about twice as much as the other campaigns put together and buy a lot of issue related words. According to iCrossing, "McCain is also the only candidate with paid coverage on competitors’ names in addition to his own, including candidate keywords hillary clinton, barack obama, obama, and clinton," and since some of you remember that we have been quoted as saying we generate $3-$4 dollars in donations for every $1 we spends proves once again how remarkable of a job the entire Connell Donatelli, Campaign Solutions, and McCain eCampaign are doing on paid search. Everybody works on this marketing program and it shows how integrated we really are. Finally, I enjoyed that Kate called me out as "this guy" in the article.
Anyway, that's it for now. You have some good reading and a cool picture of me with Meg Whitman. Of course after that iCrossing study, we'll need to step it up some more.
In an internet area of social networks, Twitter, and blogs where does anonymous blog comments fit in? Isn't it about time they were outlawed? Do they have a place in today's digital society? For me the answer is no - they should be sent to the internet scrap heap.
What possesses someone to post a comment anonymously? Isn't it nothing more than a combination of spam and bad linking? When someone posts in this cowardly fashion there are only a few reasons:
Nothing, I mean nothing good can come from anonymous blog comments. If you have something to say and are responding to a post or another comment from someone who put their opinions out there, then why don't you do the same as well? Afraid because you might say something stupid? Most people have done something like that at one time or another and usually you get the chance to correct it and you move on. Also, a lot of companies now have blogging policies and you should go look yours up so you know what you can and can't do.
There is no valid reason to make a post anonymously. There isn't a place for it in today's social networking digital space and it should be outlawed. If you can't provide a valid email address so people can track you down, you should have no business participating in an open communication environment of today's digital space.
Heck, you can't publish a letter to the editor of your local newspaper without giving a name and address. Why shouldn't that apply to the internet? It absolutely should be a pre-requisite or else the internet will never grow up and will be filled with vile, personal attacks, spam, and generally other unprofessional tactics. It is time that anonymous comments leave the modern digital space.
Wall Street Journal wrote one of those tough love pieces today called Ad Networks, Confusion Grow on Web and you know what? I pretty much agree with a lot that was written.
Using their chart, I've recently worked with the top 5 ad networks and pretty much little separates them. All of them offer extreme reach for relatively inexpensive cost with the real differences being in customer service and targeting. Sure some have better site placements then others, but for me I pick them based on small tests; that's the only way to know what your placements look like, how the ad network works, and how they manage your campaign. So without further ado....
Eric's Current Like-Dislike of Ad Networks as of 4/16/08 (BTW - this is not necessarily for political ad buys)
I've dealt with a few more over the years and will still continue to dabble in other ones. You just need to know that they are all pretty much the same and the best way to figure out which ones work for you is to test and learn. Look for pricing, results, account service, site listings, ability to opt-out of unwanted sites, and finally site visibility. Testing and learning for yourself is the only way to know which ones will work for you.
Last week Steve Rubel posted on his Micro Persuasion blog An All Too Convenient Truth: Many Marketers Pollute The Web and at first I thought it was self-serving since he is in the PR business, however it provides a framework for wanna be online marketers. The only part of the post that I take umbrage with are the remarks on banner advertising, but even that section provides a good warning. You can read the post yourself for the details, but here's what I think you online marketers should take away from the post.
Great article. It should be posted by your desk.
Hopefully better late than never, I loved this article in Campaign and Elections magazine called Playbook: Here's Your Real Online Advantage...And No, Its Not Viral Videos. It was written by my friend for a number years and currently the head of Yahoo Political sales Richard Kosinski. Some of my favorite points from the article include:
I love social networks. YouTube if done correctly, can turn out millions of people who can view your ad for virtually no media cost. Social networks like Facebook provide CRM opportunities for again little cost, plus with widgets, applications, and other interactive tools can help your message spread quickly in a fun way. Given enough time these truly become grassroots and organizing tools. And, if you are a rock star perhaps you can embrace a more open source strategy and turn part of your marketing over to your followers.
However, none of these replace pushing your message out to targeted voters and if you neglect that you are missing out on part of your audience. If you are going down the direct mail and TV route, how can you not push those message in online ads? Unless of course you don't understand how to do it. Let me help...
You can identify Republicans versus Democrats, age, gender, income, race, and web surfing behaviors. You can serve TV ads in small banner units where you can see actual play and interaction rates and understand where these viewers go on your website. This is the kind of data not available on TV. You can register voters, generate donations and emails, plus turn your voters out. Plus many other combinations for a fraction of a TV spot.
Richard is right and even though it is a little self-serving (he sells ads for Yahoo) he makes a great point. Social networks should be part of your internet arsenal, but if that's all you think of your internet advertising you really are missing a critical piece of the political marketing puzzle.
OK, so maybe lumping Countrywide with Lowermybills is a little harsh, but I guess I have a grudge due to their dubious links to the housing crisis (for more on that see these two articles from the WSJ Countrywide Seeks to Block Abuse Inquiry and The True Worth of Countrywide). So what's the link? Oh the similar language Countrywide is using in their "Key Interest Rates Drop Again*" ad. I found this ad on the homepage of Yahoo today which probably alone cost them like $300K.
Yes it reminds me of a Lowermybills ad that made me write the post titled Not Online Do Lowermybills Ads Suck, They Have Horrible Timing. You click on the Countrywide ad and it of course takes you to the landing page with the same messaging, but this time you can read what the asterisk points you to " * As announced on March 18, 2008 by the Federal Reserve Board, FOMC meeting minutes, decrease of 0.75% to the Federal Funds Rate."
Ok, well let's just say that it is a little bit of a bait and switch on the interest rates drop again language because the ad is speaking about home loans/mortgages. It leads the viewer to believe that mortgage rates drop again when it really is the Federal Funds Rate. Seems a little bit shaky to me and my old compliance and legal officers at Harrisdirect would never let that through especially with that big asterisk there.
So, sniffing an asterisk game let's follow the second one on the line that says "Refinance Your Home with No Closing Costs!++" The second footnote is really a problem for me and it should be for you. It says: Affects pricing. With the No Closing Cost Option, borrowers finance the closing costs instead of paying for them at closing. Borrowers who pay closing costs at closing may qualify for a lower interest rate. Some upfront fees (ex. credit report and appraisal) may apply and may be credited at closing. Call for details.
Now what exactly is the No Closing Cost option? It says that borrowers finance the closing costs instead of paying them at closing. So there are closing costs and the dollars for it are financed instead of paying them upfront? That's even worse because you are financing the dollars over the life of the mortgage and umm besides the fee for closing cost is still there, just not paid at closing.
That's where I stopped paying attention to the ad and lumped them in with Lowermybills. It isn't bad enough that they are being investigated for their loan practices, but here they go again with questionable marketing language. Key rates drop again? Sure Federal Funds rate dropped. No closing Costs? Sure, you don't pay at closing you just finance the closing fees over the life of the mortgage. To top it all off they paid Yahoo like $300K for one day of marketing? Me, it seems a little too good to be true. That's why when it comes to finances, follow the bouncing asterisk.
I've had a rocky relationship with Twitter. These days I'm on the useful side of the discussion and mostly because I can ask people for help and get answers pretty quickly. Plus, it is interesting to see what people are posting on Twitter. Using Twitbin as an ad on to Firefox definitely has enhanced my user experience. However, from a pure work standpoint, you can't live without Tweetscan.
Tweetscan allows you to search Twitter for certain keywords which at first perhaps doesn't seem like a big deal. However, if you create an RSS feed of your Tweetscan search results you now have a way of monitoring what is being said about your brand. Now you get real-time monitoring of what people are saying about your brand in 140 characters or less.
I set one up for a certain Presidential Candidate that I'm working for, not that I have that much to do with the brand, but I like to see what is being written in Twitter. So far, I haven't uncovered much that would surprise you, but Tweetscan is a piece of cake to use for monitoring the chatter of a brand.
If you are involved with a brand, setting up Tweetscans via RSS feed is a quick way to monitor what is being written online via Tweets.
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