Conversational Marketing and the Emergence of the Vendor Blog
In previous posts I emphasized the importance of those involved in the purchasing (and the logistics and supply chain industry as a whole) to become active participants in the emerging world of social media and social networking – and no, they are both not one in the same.
Far too often however, when entering this new realm of one-to-one direct interaction, the majority of individuals as well as vendors merely attempt to transfer the old “look at me” broadcast model to this new medium. This of course rarely if ever results in creating any form of a sustainable brand.
You only need to look at the traditional print media, and in particular the daily newspaper industry to gain a powerful point of reference.
Long time media industry veteran J. William Grimes predicted that all daily newspapers in the US would be gone within five years. His prognostication, which was made at a San Francisco conference in July 2009, was based on some startling statistics. Specifically, that the daily newspapers only received 15% of the more than $60 billion spent on advertising over the previous 12-month period, which represented a decline of 10% from a decade earlier.
Grimes also stated that only 5% of the population still read the dailies. This combination of declining ad revenues and readership is reflected in the fact that venerable publications such as the New York Times are awash in the proverbial sea of red ink.
Seeing the writing on the wall, the New York Times entered their definition of “the social media world” through the launch of their on-line version of the printed daily. The expectation of course was that this new electronic, web-based venue would recapture readership and subsequently the share of ad revenues, both of which they have been steadily losing over the past few years.
Much to their surprise and dismay, the electronic edition lost money as well.
The moral of the story, and one that would be best learned by anyone contemplating the necessary move into the realms of social media is simply this . . . the transfer of static, non-conversational information to an electronic format such as a blog or social networking group will not work.
As indicated in my new seminar “Leveraging Internet Radio and Podcasting to Establish a Sustainable Brand,” the rather pedestrian elements associated with the information repository framework of a web site will do little to gain and keep market attention. Web site traffic, which has long been considered the measurement of a site or blog’s presence and influence, is largely irrelevant in this non-personal, unilateral engagement with the visitor.
This is why Alexa ratings mean very little in terms of true market reach.
Let me provide you with an example.
In that first month, there was a grand total of 217 visitors to the site.
In December 2009, the total number of site visitors grew to 6,144. This past month (January 2010), we fell just short of the 10,000 monthly mark with 9,894 visitors.
Based on research, this trend in terms of percentage growth will likely continue throughout 2010.
Using traditional methods of measurement (re Alexa) one might consider this to be a compelling indication of an emerging, sustainable brand. While it certainly does demonstrate increasing awareness, it is the behind the scenes story that is most significant.
I am of course talking about the high level of cross-pollination that occurs with the PI Social Media Network’s other brands including the PI Window show on Blog Talk Radio and the Procurement Insights Blog.
This cross-pollination also extends to a growing number of external venues including social networks, on-line resource sites and internet-based media outlets.
Collectively, these interconnecting venues facilitate a dynamic, real-time interaction through a conversational technology platform that engages and responds to the individual first.
Think of it along the lines of David Cushman’s analogy in which the means of communication have transitioned away from the broadcast-centric many eyes looking at a single stage, to a one-to-one interaction within communities of purpose.
Much like the proverbial honey bee returning to a hive, each individual serves as their own filtering, gathering and sharing facilitator which inevitably determines the viral potential of a particular message.
In short, instead of engaging or writing to the unknown masses, social media and social networks actually enable you to connect and ultimately build a rapport with the individual directly. It is then the individual who spreads (re pollinates) the message to others within his or her network of contacts. As a means of creating a point of common reference, think of it as a referral system on steroids.
For vendors such as Emptoris, who are now entering the realms of social media through the launch of a blog (The Optimum), the old adage that people buy from whom “they know, like, and trust” is one that they would be wise to remember in the context of building that level of personal rapport. Or, as my good friend the Marketing Doctor Dr. John Tantillo so adeptly phrases it in the title of his new book, vendors would be well-advised to recognize and respond to the reality that “People Buy Brands Not Companies.”
Therefore, and looking beyond the realms of technical interconnect-ability, your brand is like your signature or fingerprint. It is personal and it is unique. It is also at this level that you distinguish yourself in a highly competitive world.
In terms of the Emptoris Blog, the audience is interested in your brand, which is also your unique and distinguishable personality. It is this very “Personality,” according to Future Buzz’s Adam Singer, that is woefully lacking from the traditional mainstream’s highly polished and professional looking blogs.
In short, if I had myopically focused on driving traffic to the lone PI Window on Business Blog so that people could read about my company, and the services I offer or the products I sell there is no way, regardless of how professional or polished it is in appearance, that the blog would have experienced the same growth in readership activity. This is the essential starting point.
However, and this is another key point to remember, you need to offer useful information in the form of “branded insight.” It is this branded insight, which is centered on experience and expertise about a subject for which I have a great deal of passion versus a company name, logo or product offering, that builds the pre-requisite “know, like and trust” relationship.
The real question that remains is simply this . . . what brand is Emptoris looking to build through their new blog?
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