learning marketing from local media

So your {insert local media outlet} is offering a free seminar that will “teach you how to market your business”.

How benevolent of them to offer such a community service.

I’m amazed at how many small businesses are suckered into attending these events and don’t realize the true motivation behind the “seminar”.

If the radio station is sponsoring this knowledge fest, I’ll bet you my hat that they will try to convince people that radio is the best option. The newspaper seminar will tell you the printed word is the way to go. The TV station’s seminar will tell you why radio and newspaper are a waste of money. And now added to the mix, you have agencies that have a small social media following teaching the way to Facebook and Twitter bliss.

Think about this: Would you go to the “How to choose the best place to buy a car” seminar hosted by the local car dealership?

The truth is that every advertising medium has strengths and weaknesses. It depends on what you’re trying to communicate and who you’re trying to reach.

Just because a salesperson has the words “marketing consultant” on their business card doesn’t mean you should listen to them about your overall marketing strategy. They’re doing their job trying to capture as much of your marketing budget as they can. You should never let someone sell you advertising; you should buy it.

The only reason to ever go to the local media outlet’s seminars is that they typically offer some really good deal to the attendees. If you’re planning on buying from them anyway, it’s a good way to save some money. It’s like going on vacation and sitting through an hour of a timeshare pitch just to get free theme park tickets.

And shame on marketing speakers who lead biased events like this.

the top 3 facebook marketing mistakes

Facebook pages are getting a redesign similar to the one that Facebook profiles recently underwent. If you’re a page admin, you can voluntarily go to the new design or be automatically converted around March 1st. I suggest you go ahead and opt-in to the change a few days after it’s offered. (Let others deal with the inevitable initial bugs, but still be an early adopter.)

changes are coming to facebook. Is your marketing ready?There are lots of positives (and negatives) surrounding the change. I think the best change is the new ability for email alerts on page activity (I don’t have a clue why this wasn’t there from the start) But at the same time, I will miss tabs.

If you’re already actively marketing your brand on Facebook, you’ll find this post from ‘Inside Facebook’ on the redesign a very helpful guide.

But I urge you to take a step even further back and evaluate your Facebook marketing strategy. Are you sure you’ve covered some of the basics?

Are you making some of the following mistakes as a marketer using Facebook to connect with customers?

Why am I here?
Brands are spending lots of money to get people to like them on Facebook. But what are companies doing with them once they get them there? Getting people to like you on Facebook should not be a marketing end-goal; it should be a tactic in a larger strategy.

The like is not the end of the marketing; it’s just the beginning.

How often are you posting new content? Are you interacting with fans? Are you just re-posting your traditional marketing messages or are you having a conversation?

It’s also important to remember that having a Facebook page is not a web marketing strategy. It should be one element of a much larger plan.

Profiles are not Pages
A profile is something on Facebook that an individual person has. A page is for brands. If you’re doing business or trying to promote something, you need a page; not a profile. There are 3 big reasons for this.

1) The major reason is that it’s against Facebook rules for anything other than an individual person to have a profile. You run the risk of being suspended.
2) Pages work differently than profiles. Many of these things (like some of the changes that are coming) are designed to help you market and sell rather than play Farmville.
3) A person can only have 5,000 friends on Facebook. If you ever aspire to have more than 5,000 fans, you need to move to a page as soon as you can.

The worst thing you can do is have both a page and a profile. It confuses your customers. Post on the profile numerous times that you’re moving to the page. Try to get as many to move with you as you can. Chalk up the lost stragglers as a marketing lesson.

Get a decent URL
I see the same mistakes all the time when someone is trying to convey the location of the brand’s page. If you have over 25 fans, you can get a simple URL like www.facebook.com/BrandZeitgeist by going to facebook.com/username and choosing your name. That’s alot simpler to communicate than the ambiguous “find us on facebook” or the incorrect “become our friend on facebook”. (see previous ‘Profiles are not Pages’ point)

The only thing harder to communicate is the deadly full page name and ID URL like http://www.facebook.com/pages/Chris-Houchens/17831081539. I’m sure that URL will flow beautifully in your radio commercials (and take up half the time).

Something else I see alot is people taking the full URL sin one step further and promoting some of their personal browsing history like: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lighthouse-Restaurant-Sulphur-Well-KY/114743131874741#!/pages/Chris-Houchens/17831081539 goes to my page but also shows that I have been thinking about going to Sulphur Well for some country ham. The url will still work when you take the pages/Lighthouse-Restaurant-Sulphur-Well-KY/114743131874741#!/ out of it.

These are the big three mistakes that I see brands make the most often. What would you add to this list? What are brands do you think are using Facebook effectively?

(by the way — when you like me on Facebook, you’ll get my latest blog posts delivered in your news feed.)

the daily disappointment

UPDATE (2 years later): They finally killed The Daily.

So yesterday, I was all giddy (in a professional way) about the advent of The Daily, the world’s first news publication built specifically for a tablet (read: iPad). I actually “tuned-in” for the live stream of the launch (which began late). But the more I watched, the more I soured. (which probably came through on Twitter)

And it’s my fault. I was expecting too much.

I guess I was envious of what they could do with a fresh slate. There were no sacred cows to kill with the “this is how we set hot type” luddites, no internal turf wars that hinder what could be done with an online news publication, no online/print revenue streams to shield with an opportunity for a real understanding of an online revenue stream, no technology limitations of how content could be presented, and more. It was a chance for a complete re-invention.

But what did they do? They put together a gussied-up online newspaper.

It’s completely made up of the same multimedia content that you can find on any major market newspaper website — just presented like your iTunes albums (and will users flip through with the same uninterested abandon?)

Crossword and Sudoku!? Wow. They might as well as have included Alley Oop, Ann Landers (who is still dead), and the horoscope (update: Corey says they have a horoscope.)

One of the Daily’s first tweets (where you think they would promote the coolest stuff) was that you could share articles on Facebook, Twitter, or email. That’s so unique to this new and exciting platform. I can’t do that with any other site. Email? Tell me more! (btw – it’s not really social sharing if it’s inside the paywall)

I thought of writing a huge post about The Daily, but it would have been full of snark like the above. Instead, here are a link, a personal anecdote, and a quote that pretty much sum up my overall thoughts:

  • This article from GigaOm does the best job of quickly pointing out the flaws and foibles of The Daily.
  • This morning, I’m teaching one of my college classes and today was the day I had already scheduled to talk about web design, user/reader experience, etc. So I started out by asking them about yesterday’s launch of The Daily as a new way to interface news. In a group of 48 students (most in their late teens/early twenties) who are enrolled in a journalism school, not one of them had even heard of The Daily.
  • And finally this from James Lileks’ Bleat

    As for New Media platforms, I’ve looked at the Daily app for the iPad, and I can only say this: it’s always going to come down to tomorrow. Yes, yes, do the in-depth stories, the culture stuff, the lite ‘n’ brite features, but when it comes to NEWS, don’t tell me anything tomorrow I didn’t know today.National and international news has to be updated hourly, or it’s still fishwrap. Without the added functionality of, you know, actual fishwrap.