"A NEW MARKETING MEDIUM"... OLD NEWS BUT GOOD NEWS
HatTip to Doug. Old news and ideas for most of you, but always good to hear a confirmation of how blogs are changing the marketing landscape and how companies will operate. It's also great because this is part of the vision of our startup :)
A New Marketing Medium
Blogging allows marketers to start conversations with prospects and customers through a powerful new avenue of communication.
by Alexandra DeFelice
A shift is taking place in corporate communications, one that promises to alter marketing strategies well into the future. Marketing has always been about balancing company interest with customer interest, but now it is becoming more about opening dialogue and building trust. Blogs, after having gained widespread notoriety during the 2004 presidential election, have moved beyond individual ranting and into the corporate world, enhancing typical marketing techniques by allowing companies to talk to their customers directly--and by allowing companies to listen to what customers are saying.
Chris Kenton, senior vice president of the CMO Council and blog writer, says, "The whole game is changing. The traditional paradigm is that marketers are predators who line 100 ducks on a fence and hope they have enough marketing power to shoot down 1.5 of them. Smart companies are trying to take them off the fence and catalyze and cultivate a community with that group, inviting [community members] into a dialogue without being [intrusive]. One way to have access to the market is to build it around you. It's all about access, insight, and influence."
Although many companies are starting to recognize corporate blogs as a new marketing medium, few are engaging in the practice. Less than 5 percent of the Fortune 1,000 is using blogs strategically, but that percentage will triple in the next two years, according to Ray Valdes, a Gartner analyst. He points out, however, that even companies that are using blogs are not necessarily using them efficiently at this point--although they recognize that blogs are a significant communication tool. A lack of knowledge and a fear of the risks and repercussions are stopping companies from developing a blogging policy.
Technology companies like Microsoft and Sun Microsystems have product developers, middle managers, and engineers blogging, Valdes says, "[but] the vast majority are still saying, 'What is this? My teenage daughter is doing this, but what are the risks?' It's like the early days of email. They see all the downside and no upside. You worry your employees will spill their guts, but at the same time you allow them to get on a plane and spill their guts to the guy next to them."
A new approach to marketing
Companies can use blogging to indirectly fine-tune their marketing messages through social interactions. With other customer communication avenues, companies may be using the wrong language or addressing the wrong audience, but blogging enables faster feedback and a more strategic understanding of where the market is heading. From a competitive standpoint, blogging demonstrates to customers that a company cares about its products and customers. Many companies also look to blogs for internal communication, whether it's from the CEO, the HR department, or as a discussion tool among employees. They are using them for customer and peer support as well, keeping customers up to speed on products and road maps. Internal communication about accounting and tax guidelines or team blogs is also popular. (full article)