Monthly Archive: February 2011

Let’s Talk About Me! No, Seriously.

Business coach and entrepreneur, Michael Felberbaum, suggests in BusinessWeek that It takes courage to let people peer inside the walls of your business, where your best brand stories reside. Naturally, he believes, as I believe, that it’s important to dig for and develop these stories and make them easy for people to view and spread.

Educate people on your successes. Most people don’t know anything about what you do or how you do it. They have only the most generic, glossy picture of your business. As a coach, it’s fascinating to me how often business owners rush through explanations of what they do or brain-dump an incomprehensible story. How about taking the time to really talk through something your company does well and did right? Can you walk someone through the story of your most successful engagement from beginning to end? As you do this, you may discover new elements in your story that will translate well into your marketing.

That’s great advice. Let me see if I can apply it here and now…

One of my areas of intense interest and deep experience is content development for the Web. I’ve written thousands of articles for publication on the Web over the past 10 years, covering everything from live music, to food and beverage, college football, the ad industry, film and literature, politics, travel and the media. Despite what you may have heard, people still love to read. I’ve been successful developing multiple audiences for my work, by making it my daily practice to write about these topics.

At the same time, I’ve managed to migrate from traditional to digital and back again in my work for clients.

The video above is an unbranded example of the kind of video content I was busy producing before moving to Portland and starting out on my own. I helped make and sell this video and dozens of others like it to a big, old school packaged goods brand, and in the process helped usher the brand’s site from the Dark Ages into the glaring Internet light of 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Does that sound like a brag? It’s not meant to be. But the thought that it might be so construed makes me uneasy. Which takes us back to the hesitancy we often feel about opening “the doors” wide open.

Here’s a brag: I stopped making ads for several years, hired my own crack team of journalists and formed a new profit center at my last agency. I traveled these United States interviewing indie rock bands like White Rabbits, Bobby Bare, Jr., Black Keys, Dinosaur Jr. and many more. I also helped produce an album, created serial Web content for the above non-mentioned client and wrapped all these doings up in a coffee table book (which the recruiters at Wieden+Kennedy promptly lost–Welcome back to Portland, friend).

Am I removing the “generic, glossy picture” of me and my business yet? I hope so, because I want prospective clients and partners to know me and my company better. I’m a writer who got into advertising to make a living, fell in love with it, had a falling out or two, then came back for more. I followed my native interests in streaming radio, content marketing and social media marketing and finally, after several ad agency stops along the way, returned to Portland to mash it all up and make it my own. Which is what this is, a story studio for brands.

But enough about me. Let’s talk about you. Is your company rich with story that prospects and current customers want to hear and spread. Of course it is! Let’s identify the best of those stories and craft them into something powerful.

Schedule A Shoot!

According to CNET News, a whopping 83.5 percent of all U.S. Internet users watched a Web video in January, totaling over 171 million individuals.

As one might expect, Google easily led the way in total viewership last month, serving video to more than 144 million unique viewers through YouTube.

When it came to advertising, however, no other service bested Hulu. The site offered up over 1 billion ads during the month, and the average Hulu viewer watched 44.6 ads. Which is all fine and good, but the big opportunity in online video isn’t in ads, it’s in content.

No, not for the sake of content. For the sake of your bottom line.

As this well-made video from London production company, NextShoot, illustrates, when people visit your Web site they are 12 times more likely to buy from you when you use video to market your goods or services. That’s an amazing stat. One that I’m now internalizing, because clearly, Bonehook must market its services via video.

Consider it added to my Action Method list.

Have You Calculated Your Company’s “Brand Value” Lately? Coca-Cola Has.

Steve McKee, president of McKee Wallwork Cleveland, offers some valuable advice to brand managers and business owners in his latest piece for BusinessWeek.

Companies often mismanage their brands by neglect, and doing so harms their top lines, their bottom lines, and their prospects for long-term success. Like the subtle movement of the hands of a clock, brand neglect happens slowly, almost imperceptibly, which makes it even more sinister.

What makes it so nonsensical is that your brand is the ultimate asset—or should be. Your brand, unlike a building, inventory, or furniture, fixtures, and equipment, needs never depreciate. Quite the contrary—brands can increase in value indefinitely as long as they’re well-managed.

McKee neatly captures what our business is all about. It’s not about social media marketing or mobile marketing or even expensive Super Bowl spots, it’s about building long-term value in concert with meeting short term sales objectives.

“Build your brand, grow your business” is our tagline for a reason.

There are brand gurus in the world who do not care about short term sales objectives, but who has time for that type of ivory tower nonsense? The work has to drive purchase intent today and create long-term value for the brand at the same time, every time. No, it’s not easy to achieve. That’s why it’s the work of pros.

Rebranding: Get It Right The Second Time

Seth Newman, president of Action Envelope, a $12 million envelope retailer based in Lindenhurst, New York, paid $400,000 for a new domain name that would better serve his business. He now owns and operates Envelopes.com, and is in the process of migrating from the old site to the new.

The Inc. story about Envelopes.com is focused on search.

Newman believed the Envelopes.com domain name would make his company the definitive destination for envelopes online. “The name Envelopes.com has instant credibility and market leadership,” he says. The only problem was that Envelopes.com wasn’t on Google’s radar.

Of course, when a business relies on traffic from search to drive sales, search marketing is a serious matter. But there’s something else about this story that I find compelling. Here’s a small business leader who is resoundingly pro-brand. In fact, Newman believes in “the brand” so much, he’s willing to fight through the hassles and lost income that come with building out an entirely new site at a new domain.

The article also mentions that Newman spent about $500,000 to develop ActionEnvelope.com (his old site) and make it search-engine friendly. If he does that again for Envelopes.com, he’ll have nearly $1,000,000 invested. So, Newman not only believes in the long term value of the brand, he’s also committed to marketing. I don’t know Newman or his company, but I’d like to believe these factors contribute mightily to his bottom line.