Archive for December, 2008

Confessions of a Frequent Flyer

I’ve become a frequent business flyer this year, and I’ve started bringing my notebook with me again, like I did in design school, for those moments when a thought might hit me or I might want to sketch something. Although I am a self-described techie, and keep my to-do lists in the notepad app on my G1, I confess that I savor the moments when technology fails, or 3G networks cannot be found. I look forward to the time spent jetting out and back on the runway, when my approved electronic devices are not allowed. Away goes my Macbook Pro and my G1. Out comes my trusty pen and paper. I often get more done in those 20 minute spurts, than I do in hours spent staring at my monitor, distracted by all the widgets and alerts I love so much.

So if you aren’t leaving the grid anytime soon; I encourage you to just shut your laptop, and turn off your phone (gasp!) for 20 minutes and sit at your desk…and write (or draw). Let your brain process thoughts in a more organic format, outside the confines of google docs, wordpress-formatting boxes, or tweetdeck tabs. Try it! Who knows; you might even get a blog post out of it.

— Posted by Liz Moise

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Think Different, Market Different

As we end approach the New Year, rather than strike back at the latest writer, blogger, and even fellow marketing professional to rip PR people, agencies, individual practitioners or the profession at large, I’ve taken a proverbial “deep breath” and asked myself one question – -– how are we different?

Nearly five years ago, BluePoint was founded as a marketing services firm (decidedly not as a PR firm – Lord knows there are enough out there to defend a good sized country). We were started on the premise that young technology companies required smart, grounded, proven – and above all, measurable – strategies for establishing marketing infrastructure that would continuously support clients’ sales efforts.

As a former boss drilled into my head years ago, “the only reason to do PR/marketing is to support sales.” Since PR was and still is one of the cornerstones to the marketing and communications foundation, BluePoint focused on this discipline, but not exclusively. We’ve felt that PR should be thought of as a key part of an effective, integrated marketing strategy. However, other critical marketing functions including corporate and product positioning and messaging, awareness and lead generation, sales support, events, marketing strategy and increasingly, social media and Web marketing must be part of the mix. And it really makes no difference, whether these functions are executed in house, through an agency, or as is most often the case, through a collaborative effort between client and external resources. Since we often are serving as our client’s marketing and/or PR team, we’ve eliminated the “us vs. them” and often have to view the execution and the measurement from both sides..

 

It was with this thinking that BluePoint was founded. The reasons were two-fold: 1) Nobody else seemed to be taking this approach; and 2) Even the most ardent industry supporters could not deny that “traditional PR” was – at worst – dying a slow death and at best, undergoing a serious metamorphosis. I’d seen it umpteen times in previous lives. A client would say “Your team has done great work. You have generated all kinds of press coverage, but I cannot quantify benefits to my CEO or CFO. I need to tie all this ink to business goals. I need more Website traffic. I need better customer service. I need to feed the sales machine.”

So where are we now? Whether in boom time or the current recession, it doesn’t matter. It is has always been about results and ROI – from the pressroom to the boardroom. Ink = good, but it is no longer good enough. It won’t pay the bills, keep our clients (and their customers) clients happy, deepen the pipeline or shorten the sales cycle on its own.

Have we kept true to our original strategy? I’d like to think so, and we’ve morphed and tweaked it along the way. Here are few examples where we’ve made a difference for our clients.

  • Thanks to a strong focus on blogger relations and social media, we’re helping Currensee – a new decision-making platform for foreign exchange (Forex) currency trading – build and scale their community, which is due to launch in early 2009.
  • For a stealth voice technology client, we conducted focus groups and launched a Facebook app aimed at testing the concept of anonymous chat (and also help take the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry to a new level!)
  • For a consumer product manufacturer, we launched an aggressive word-of-mouth marketing program which improved customer service and helped to restore customer confidence in the brand.
  • For PermissionTV, an online video platform provider, we’ve executed both social and traditional media programs to help them compete with the proverbial 800-lb gorilla. Our online surveys and resulting data have generated a broad range of media coverage. Last month our social and traditional media relations efforts produced several quality sales leads through agency partners. And, our Webinar program has produced thousands of additional sales leads.
  • Taking blogging to the next level, we just launched a video blog for Proginet, a leading provider of file-transfer solutions. The vlog – part of a complete re-branding initiative and Website redesign – extends the company’s thought-leadership platform (and gives the company’s captivating CEO the voice he deserves!).
  • Another example of BluePoint’s strength in branding is the recent launch of Ignite Media Solutions (formerlyAIS Voice). New positioning, corporate identity, website design content, collateral and a strong PR and AR push culminated in a wildly successful launch party held in Las Vegas.

The above examples are just a few in our arsenal. As we move into the New Year, I know we need do continue to sharpen our focus and elevate our game. Clients are demanding this, as well they should. What’s on my Christmas list? The opportunity to show how we are responding to the new marketing realities and to demonstrate how innovation and creativity can be delivered by an outsourced marketing team cost-effectively and can help clients get the biggest bang for their buck, generate awareness and leads – and most importantly – show results.

— Posted by Tim Hurley

Listening in on Social Media

This weekend Neville Hobson (@jangles) posted a great interview with Scott Monty (@scottmonty), Global Digital & Multimedia Communications Manager at Ford. Among other things at Ford, Scott champions creative uses of social media. Most recently this last week he used twitter as a crisis management tool, to help keep folks up to date as he dealt with a misunderstanding that was being propagated across the internet. Now much of his success in this effort was due to the network Scott has built on twitter, it’s almost 6000 strong. Notice I say network, not following. Scott, in my opinion, is using twitter the “smart” way. He’s building relationships. He’s interacting on a daily basis with colleagues, with clients, with media. He, like me, manages multiple corporate twitter accounts as well, which are used for other purposes such as customer support, or b2b marketing. In this capacity though, he is also building relationships.

As the resident social media guru at BluePoint, clients often ask me for advice on social media strategy. The question I am asked most frequently is, “How do we chose between all the social media tools and groups out there? Why would we chose to be on twitter, versus facebook or linked in? We can’t do it all!”. My response is:

You know your audience. Where do you think they hang out?

Marketing and PR may have changed a lot in the last 10 years, but one thing remains the same. You need to reach your audience. In the age of social media, I would argue that this is becoming easier, not harder. Instead of just sending out direct mail or e-mail and waiting for a response, you can get online and find your customers. You can listen in on their conversations, or grievances. You can speak to them directly.

So as 2009 rolls around, don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by the multitude of options out there. You know your audience. Take a look at the communities that you think might appeal most to them. Then join a select few, and LISTEN. (I have my friend Kyle Flaherty to thank for this piece of invaluable advice) Don’t worry about broadcasting a message or making yourself known right out of the gate. You will learn a lot if you just listen. You may learn that your customers don’t hang out on twitter. You might be surprised to see them already talking to each other on a Facebook group. You may even have the enjoyable experience that I had over the weekend of meeting a new colleague, while listening in on twitter!

— Posted by Liz Moise

Cupcakes, Roses, Facebook Posts … One of These Things Is not Like the Other

Today I celebrated an event that happens every year, yet never ceases to amaze me … my birthday. It is a day that I thank my mother for having me and take time to appreciate all of those who care for me.

My colleagues sang, my manager satisfied my sweet tooth with decadent cupcakes, my husband sent roses, my friends and family mailed cards … and my Facebook following sent wall posts. So many wall posts, in fact, that I don’t know if I actually saw them all.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the sentiment. Their well wishes floored me. But then, they just kept coming and coming. It made me wonder why they sent them and if they even really cared that it was my birthday. Maybe they simply didn’t want to be left out of the mass birthday cheer!

Social media has changed the game for our clients and for our own personal milestones in so many ways already. There were no voicemails blinking red on my office phone, and only one musical e-card in my inbox. Could it be that the more “social” we become, the less we actually take the time to truly interact?

I can’t help but wonder what it will be like next year. Until then … I think it’s time for another cupcake.

— Posted by Erica Camilo


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