Corporate Blogging Survey 2005

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January 25, 2006

Blog Marketing Build’s Brands Through Conversations

Debbie Weil thinks that fortune 500 companies are afraid of Blog Marketing. I think I disagree with her on this one. To me it’s the marketing concept, and a lack of understanding of what marketing is all about. Though most fortune 500 companies probably actually do have a better understanding of the value of marketing than most companies.

Many marketing managers concentrate most of their efforts on advertising and promotion. Really product managers and market researchers deal with building value for customers. Therefore it’s hard to demonstrate to a marketing manager that they will get a lot of value from a blog, as they are looking for sales lead graphs.

As an online marketer working in the search engine optimization industry, I deal with clients who are looking for ROI and sales leads on a daily basis. And that’s what we do in our search engine optimization business we provide leads to clients through our SEO and PPC services.

Backbone Media explains to clients that blogging can help with search engine rankings for companies, that’s true, yet in reality the way to get the most benefit from blogging is not by focusing on sales leads, its by building strong brands. Blog marketing’s ability to build brand is the issue that I find so exciting and fascinating as a marketer.

To build a successful website you have to develop a lot of relevant content that people want to read and link too over time. You cannot write drivel and a bunch of keywords, oh you might get a few click thru’s but in the long term your site will lose rankings, maybe even get it banned and overall you will generate few leads.

The reason why a company should invest in blog marketing is not because of the leads. You should invest in blog marketing because blogging will help your company to:

· Demonstrate its leadership in your industry,
· Provide a connection to your audience and peers,
· Start a wider conversation with your marketplace,
· Demonstrate its value, its online brand on the web.

And once you’ve demonstrated your value and brand, you will generate sales leads.

That’s why Fortune 500 companies have not started blogs, they don’t see the value, business people and marketing people look for sales, when blogging and these new types of web design will actually allow companies to develop brand online. Sales are easily to explain and demonstrate, brand is difficult to explain, and harder to measure. Yet any marketing person worth their salt understands that sales is part of marketing, that its easy to get sales, but tough to retain customers for the long term, that requires loyalty and a demonstration of brand value. Blog marketing gives a marketing manager a powerful tool to build a brand and demonstrate their company’s brand online. Once a powerful online brand is built, links, rankings and sales will follow.

We are still in the early days of blogging, but as more and more companies like Intuit, Microsoft and Macromedia use blogging to build their brands online, more and more companies will understand the value of blog marketing is that they build brands through conversations.

Posted by johncass at January 25, 2006 12:06 AM

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Hi John. Thanks for putting this all down so coherently. I think the notion of online conversations is really interesting and an important distinction that marketing people don't see. You've framed the problem really well, but I'm not sure I see the answer. Is it possible that you're talking about brand building and not necessarily marketing. I think the two are tied together, but I have to wonder if there is a role - not the CMO - in a corporation that would be more receptive to the idea of a corporate blog.

Somewhat related - Chris Anderson talks about biz blogs being good for customer outreach and support. They build communities that, effectively, support a brand's position as "customer friendly". I think the challenge is to convince companies that they need to develop a department that communicates at the niche level - somewhere between PR and Marketing. One interesting case to explore may be IBM's intitiative to develop PodCasts at IBM. I believe they've set up a studio and hired several people to manage and develop podCasts.

Posted by: Doug Reynolds at January 29, 2006 11:06 AM

Doug, is brand part of marketing, or is brand separate from marketing? To me brand is part of marketing. While I think brand can have a lot to do with identity, I also think its the associations with value that make the tie between brand definitions and marketing. As marketing is all about discovering the needs and wants of customers and satisfying them efficiently and profitably, to me that means providing value to customers. And providing value is what brand is all about.

You may be right about the issue of someone else in a company besides the CMO being receptive to a corporate blog. Though I'd argue it should be the CMO as they really should be primarily responsible for marketing and brand at a company. However, if the CMO is not then I think next of product managers, or the operations manager. From my experience with several leading blogging companies, Macromedia and Intuit come to mind here, its the product managers and customer service managers who blog best. Macromedia and Intuit’s examples of corporate blogging appear to me to be some of the best examples and uses of blogs on the net. So maybe you are right, CMO's are the wrong people to approach, and it’s the product builders who should be approached. I thought a lot about this in my corporate blogging survey two years ago on my personal blog PR Communications, and more recently last year in the Backbone Corporate blogging survey.

IBM is definitely an interesting company to watch, and they are making progress in moving from their discussion about ideas in the industry to talking directly with their customers about their own products. Though I'd like to see more examples.

Good discussion, I’d like to hear more of your thoughts on marketing, brand, and the role of the CMO.

Posted by: John Cass at January 29, 2006 6:31 PM

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