Triage for tough times — The Dour Marketer

Here’s a list of tactics I think should be attended to before new monies are invested in digital marketing. Let’s call these three macro  tactics the Thrifty Trinity, and they are what I would tackle before making excuses that you can’t build the business without an investment. CFOs aren’t making investments these days, indeed, that 2009 budget you’re waiting to kick in next month? Assume it is going to shrink.

1.  SEO: I am not a fan of agency/consultant based SEO and ascribe to the Calacanis heretical view that if you need to perform SEO as an overt tactic then you’re doing something wrong. But SEO is the other side of the paid search coin — proof of the cliche that a penny saved through a higher organic ranking is a penny that can be spent elsewhere in the SEM portfolio of search terms. With paid search over 25% – to as high as 50% — of many digital media plans, SEO is cost effective tactic — strike that, SEO is like breathing, do it right and you thrive —  that requires general greater attention from production and content, good technical implementation, and an overall awareness from PR to blogs that clear, concise writing, credible links, and a manic desire to elevate one’s rank.  Just keep in mind — everything starts with a search. So start your dour marketing there. Just think like a customer, start searching like one, and see where your organization returns. Read Hunt and Moran. Avoid consultants.

2. Social: Get Google Reader, figure out how to subscribe to RSS feeds of searches on your primary brand terms (e.g. “Chevrolet” “Chevy” “Impala” etc.), a couple C-level executive names, and start reading what people say about you. Avail yourself of the torrent of free advice on how to engage an angry customer and make it your mission to make one happy. Repeat over and over. Don’t advertise on Facebook because you think it is au courant. Don’t pay a blogger for coverage. Open your own blog. Make it your blog. Talk about your dinner. What you are reading. Get comfortable with it.  It’s a good career move and when the time comes to get involved with corporate blogging, you’ll know what you’re talking about. Don’t let your external PR agency dictate the terms to you. Don’t pay attention to social media monitoring services. You can’t afford either.

3. Plan: if you have a media budget then sit down, take a hard look at a single dollar. Let’s call this “your next marketing dollar.” Now take a hard look at your media plan, your operation budget, and ask yourself — how can I make this dollar sing for its supper? What portion of it needs to go into paid search? What portion in display/banners? Should I be playing in affiliate marketing programs? What is my goal? What is the success event I want that dollar to drive and how am I going to make every penny in that dollar prove its contribution to that goal?

Next: a quick reading list

Windsway?

The nice thing about Facebook has been the coalescing of random Churbucks around the FB group. “All Things Churbuckian” organized by Paula Churbuck. One of the Churbucks to come out of the woodwork was Frederick Churbuck, a young man from Colorado who pinged me in an email with a question about how were we related.

I have no idea — but shared my theory that some semi-literate ancestor in Southeastern Massachusetts (The Churbuck name seems to be concentrated in Middleboro, Wareham and the Upper Cape) messed up the first “B” in “Chubbuck”, didn’t close the bottom loop and left it open as an “R”. Hence Churbuck is a typo from Chubbuck, of which there is also a sizable population in the same aforementioned towns.

Frederick asked if I knew of the place where he spent his summers, a grand mansion on the seaside of Buzzard’s Bay with the name of “Windsway.”

I had not, but on Thanksgiving my daughter and I set out for Old Silver Beach in West Falmouth, and under dramatic lowering skies, saw off to the northwest a pretty impressive house on a peninsula. Just as Frederick described it.

Was it “Windsway?”

Here’s the picture I took.

Windsway?
Windsway?

Frederick says it is at the end of Wild Harbor Road, and indeed, this is the last stop on Wild Harbor Road.

Amazing. And no, I didn’t come from that branch of Churbuck. Apparently the best known of the Falmouth Churbucks is the painter Leander. Of the rest of that branch, I know very little. I wish I were retired and could indulge my geneological urges. Alas. I cannot.

Update: George Taylor sent in the following picture of Windsway in its heyday. I like it better this way, the way it was.

Shooting fish: Blog Sluts

I would no sooner pay a blogger to mention a product or service than I would pay a reporter for the same coverage.

The notion of engaging a third party — agency or individual — to produce content about a brand or product is tantamount to deceptive advertising and a mark of stupid desperation on the part of the marketer who approved it. (clarification: and then publish it as being ostensibly “objective”)

I have no issue with lending a product to a blogger or reviewer affiliated with the mainstream press under the usual terms of a loaner/reviewer program. I would not gift product or services  nor pay a fee to the writer.

Note the last word: “writer.” Bloggers, like journalists, are “writers” in my mind. I don’t care if their preferred medium is an audio podcast or a video Vlog — if they publish content publically and with an eye of making money from that traffic via advertising or promotion of their services, they are, loosely, to my mind, a “writer.”

If bloggers want to be accorded the same respect and gravitas of a professional journalist/writer then they need to abide by the same code of ethics. Journalists don’t accept money to cover stuff. Period. They may do that in some backwards nations, but not in the USA. Bloggers who join any sort of program that compensates them for coverage of any kind — positive or negative — openly disclosed or not — are, in my traditional ethical mindset, crossing the line.

Bloggers in the social media space — consultants and theorists — are probably due some excuse if they check out these services and report on them dispassionately. But as an ongoing revenue stream and practice — it’s grounds for not being considered in any media plan. I understand there are many bloggers who need to make some money from their blog and I don’t dispute their right to monetize their traffic, but payola is crossing the line. Contextual advertising, or an overall sponsorship is one thing. But paid posting is a no go.

Bloggers don’t need to behave like a Washington Post reporter: accepting no gifts, no junkets, pay for “free” coffee, and avoiding anything that would indicate a bias. Blogs seem more like oped — at least at a personal level — than the press, but if a blogger wants the respect and authority accorded to the mainstream press then they need to behave like one. Disclosure statements are not enough.

I recently unfollowed one prominent social marketing blogger and columnist for perceived ethical transgressions. I regret that I am unfollowing another today. I am not going public with my unfollow list, but let’s say there is a coterie of social marketing bloggers — not actual marketers but theorists or agency people — who are really pissing me off with their echo chamber and questionable ethics. I am turning them off.

I am not going to call people out in public anymore. This social marketing niche is getting way too incestuous and repetitive and frankly, stupid in its repetitive back slapping, re-affirmation, ego stroking, and over amplification of the same desperate case studies.  Rather than squawk and bitch I am simply turning up the squelch. End of rant.

Disclosure: I don’t run ads on this blog, I used to be a reporter, no one sends me free stuff (other than Uncle Fester), and I need to stop being angry so much.

Esteban beat me to this on Dec. 4th

Jack Myers – JackMyersMediaBusinessReport.com – ADVERTISING DEPRESSION: It’s Here and It’s Sustained. Down 2.4% for 2008; -6.7% for 2009; and -2.3% for 2010

Sobering news from a forecasting guru, but a glimmer of light for interactive and digital spending, especially search.

The brunt of the 6.9 percent fall-off in 2009 ad spend will be felt by newspapers (-15.0%), Yellow Pages (-14.0%), consumer magazines (-13.0%), radio (-12.0%), local television (-10.5%), business-to-business and custom publishing (-9.0%), and broadcast network television (-4.0%). Even online media will feel the pain, with projected overall growth of a meager 2.7 percent. Online display ads are forecast to grow only one percent, with search engine marketing increasing 8.0% and online video, search engine, widget advertising increasing at a 25.0% rate to $1.5 billion. Online growth will pick up again in 2010 with overall 8.5% increases.”

Link