Marketing Forecast: Partly Bloggy
By Mordechai (Morty) Schiller
No, blogs are not the be-all and end-all of communications. But as more and more email gets trapped in spam filters, blogs become an attractive alternative to reaching people.
One of the main advantages of a blog is that the communication isn't just one way. Blogs let you have an ongoing "conversation" with your public. Unlike formal static websites, blogs are by nature immediate and tend to be "transparent" (open and candid). Or, at least they should be. They are interactive--inviting comments from readers--and viral --inviting readers to forward blog posts to friends.
Copywriting master Bob Bly has often criticized the blogging craze ... even on his own blog! Bob is simply not convinced that blogs have a profitable ROI. Some marketing mavens say that blogs are passing fad and not worth all the fuss. And, they add, that blogs are doomed because of:
1. Blog Spam
2. Time Commitments
3. Low Signal to Noise Ratio
True, too many blogs are glorified teenagers' diaries with more "noise" than "signal." But a growing number of business blogs are putting a human face on company PR.
Yes, blogs are ephemeral. But so is today's Wall St. Journal.
A lot of people debate what's better, a newsletter or a blog? But that's like asking which screwdriver is better, flat tip or Phillips? Any good toolbox needs both.
I suggested to Gil Student of Yashar Books that he start a company blog. But more important, Gil has his personal blog called "Hirhurim-Musings" that is read--and quoted--by a tightly knit group of (mostly Jewish) intellectuals. For years, Gil wrote the blog anonymously. I convinced him to "out" himself and to unobtrusively work promotional posts for Yashar Books into the blog.
Has it hurt readership? Not the last time I checked. Three posts I saw brought in 127, 142 and 253 comments! And Hirhurim continued to win Best Blogs awards consistently for three years running. Hirhurim readers form the active core of Yashar Books' target market. They are the (pick your own Word of Mouth Marketing metaphor): Powerful Sneezers; Mavens, Connectors and Salesmen; Network Hubs or Experts... who spread the word-of-mouth to others. And word-of-mouth is what we need.
Robert Avrech is a Hollywood screenwriter and author of a young adult novel: The Hebrew Kid and the Apache Maiden. My only connection to Avrech's "Seraphic Secret" blog is as a reader and occasional commenter. But like most of his readers, I came to consider myself a friend. (Avrech calls his readers a "family"!) And I helped Robert a bit with promoting his book. The blog has also won Best Personal Blog Awards several years running. While Seraphic Secret is personal, not promotional, it also is the main vehicle for marketing the book (even offering a free download!).
As Nick Usborne, author of Net Words, says,
A blog gives you the chance to reveal a much more personal voice. You can put aside the corporate posturing and shrug off the burden of your daily marketing "voice." Instead, you can write in a way that is much closer to "one-on-one."
Bottom line: Blogs are overrated. But they are also underused. And nobody has ever become a fan of a brochure.