Tag Archives: Blog

How I Write

I was speaking with someone last week about this blog. They were kind enough to ask about using some of the content and in the course of the conversation they said something to the effect of “I don’t know how you are able to write five days a week” so I thought that maybe I’d attempt to answer that question. As I do so I’m hoping it provide a little insight into some business thinking you can use.

The hardest part for me is finding a topic each day. I mean it’s not just what pops into my head but also is what pops in aomething that might be of interest to anyone other than me and, more importantly, does it have a broad enough business application to be relevant to you, the reader, no matter what your business might be. As I’ve written many times, it’s about your customer, not you.

As part of my daily routine I scan over 1,000 articles each day. I do this to stay on top of tech, marketing, social media, and other business and media trends because these are the topics with which my clients need help. That content ranges from the sort of stuff you might also pick up in “mainstream” media down to granular topics such as web analytic and SEM. These articles will generally provide a starting point.  You’ve read screeds on research, on things happening in social media, and marketing trends.  Most of those posts came from reading something that sparked a thought.

Sometimes (yesterday for example) something going on in my own life prompts a post.  We forget sometimes that our own narrow perspective may have application to other folks’ lives and as we were taught in education class you work from the known (what happened to me might have happened to you) to the unknown (what happened related to a broader business theme).  There are also posts that are just fun for me – Foodie Friday tends to be that way as was the TunesDay stuff I wrote about music each Tuesday.  Which brings up another point.

I stopped writing those posts because they were the least read.  I also have cut back on some of the research-related posts since they too tend to drive less readership.  Again, it’s about what interests you, not just me.  I don’t write about politics other than when something in the political sphere has non-political takeaways for us.  Why not?  Because inevitably one side or the other gets angry, justifiably or not, and might stop reading.

Finally, I keep an ongoing list of topics.  Links to articles, random thoughts, and even photos which prompt a thought are posted in a drafts folder as I go throughout my day.  When I’m ready to write that folder is my first stop. The hard part is making the point that came to me while telling a compelling story of some sort.  Then it becomes a matter of presenting it to you in a concise, clear manner.  Mechanically, I write in WordPress, I add an image, I proof twice, I check spelling, and I edit.

Since this is now about 100 words longer than my usual rant, I’ll stop here.  Hopefully you can apply that methodology to your business.  Look for things that might prompt a thought – new products, new platforms, new practices.  Consider them for a moment, hold them if they resonate, act on them when you can.  Any questions?

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Influence and Spending

I always look at research with an eye toward the axe the researcher is grinding. The fact that a survey is conducted to prove a point doesn’t necessarily negate the value of the findings but it does mean we have to be careful about how questions were asked. That said, I took a look at a study released by the folks at Technorati Media called the Digital Influence Report.  It takes a look at the role “influencers” have on purchase decisions and how brands are spending to reach the influencers.  I guess the thinking is that if these folks like your product they’ll drive their friends and followers to make a purchase.
Technorati‘s axe to grind is that they sell ads on blogs.  They’ve put together target segments of bloggers.  Not surprisingly, one characteristic of the aforementioned “influencers” is “Influencers are most active on blogs, as 86 percent say they have them and 88 percent of those say they blog for themselves.”   However, even with an axe to grind, the point is a good one.

For as long as I’ve been in media (since the late 1970’s, thank you) someone is trying to make the point that the audience/spending equation is out of whack.  The argument is always “we’ve got X% of the audience and yet we’re only getting Y% of the budget and we should be getting a lot more.”  There’s truth in that although it does ignore a few key factors:  environment, cost/value ratios, and others.  In this case, the food chain look like this:  spending against social media is about 10% of the digital spend, and spending against influencers is roughly 6% of social.  In other words, it’s tiny, especially compared to the influence these people have against purchase decisions.  As you can see on the chart I’ve embedded, 32% of consumers identify a blog as a source most likely to influence a purchase decision.

We can debate the merits of this particular study but I think the point is a good one.  There is too much of a herd mentality when it comes to advertising and that appears to be the case in social advertising as well. Blogs have as much influence as Facebook but Facebook gets more than half of all spending against social.  In part that’s due to its ubiquity.  In part that’s due to the “safety” factor – you don’t get fired for buying a market leader and it’s a much easier sell when the higher-ups have actually heard of the medium you’re buying

I take all research with a grain of salt.  That doesn’t mean I don’t believe it but we should always try to get beyond the intent (or bias!) of the researcher and into the good stuff that might be hidden inside through our own evaluation.  What do you think?

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When Does An Offer Of Help Constitute A Bribe?

I’ve been wrestling with something over the last 24 hours and I’m hoping you all might have some thoughts on the matter.  As I’ve mentioned before, as someone who blogs on a regular basis, I get offers from various folks almost every day.  These offers are interview opportunities, review copies of books, maybe the odd report here or there, and I’m usually happy to hear about them.  It may not seem like it, but coming up with content for the screed can be a challenge!

Bribe Deutsch: Bestechung Suomi: Lahjus Русски...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anyway, yesterday I received an offer from a publicist to interview an author and/or to get a copy of the author’s new book.  Nothing unusual there.  What followed in the email, however, is what’s giving me pause:

In exchange for your help, we’re also happy to help you in any way we can – from blogging about you, sending traffic your way or even getting you linked into our affiliate program to make you a few bucks.

As an author myself, I’m always looking to grow the readership of this blog (and I hope you tell folks to check it out when you can!), so an offer of traffic or publicity or some cash based on book sales are things which are appealing.  On the surface, this is something that’s just a “you help me out, here is how I can help you” exchange that goes on in business all the time.  So let me explain why I’m troubled.

There’s a statement on the PR firm‘s website which says they always act with honesty and integrity and never compromise the truth. They also stick to “white hat” marketing tactics, never trying anything that could comprise a client’s image or brand.  Very commendable, so why does the above offer feel smarmy?  In my mind, it feels like a bribe – write about our client and we’ll do what we can for you.  Maybe it’s because everything is conditioned on me publicizing their client instead of a “we love your blog, we’re going to publicize it and by the way, you might be interested in this other person with whom we’re working.”  Of course, one had to wonder what happens when 20 or 30 of these offers are accepted – how much linking and writing can they really do?  How many book sales would it take to generate meaningful cash, or even enough for a trip to the movies?

I turned them down, mostly because the author’s expertise doesn’t really match the focus of this blog.  I probably could have found an area of the author’s expertise to fit but there was the other issue of why I was speaking to her in the first place.  While this isn’t the first time I’ve received offers for stuff beyond the interview opportunity or review copy of a book, it is one of the most blatant.  So what do you think?  Am I being too critical or do you think this steps over the ethical line?

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Filed under Reality checks, Thinking Aloud