Archive for March, 2010

How to Find Your Customers Online: A Case Study

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

Mommy Bloggers

The hardest part of building an online audience is getting in front of new people.  Tapping the existing audiences of websites, bloggers and experts is probably the easiest way to get in front of new people. That’s why I’m constantly telling prospects and clients “You need to figure out where your target markets hang out online and be there.”  People quickly see the wisdom of this approach.  But, the hard part is figuring out exactly where people are hanging out online.

A few weeks ago, I did a seminar about the basics of internet marketing.  In it, I asked the attendees to define their target markets.  One target market that emerged was stay at home Moms and it was news to most of the group that “Mommy Bloggers” are a serious force to be reckoned with online.  Just a week later, the New York Times had an article “Honey, Don’t Bother Mommy. I’m Too Busy Building My Brand” about a Mommy Blogger boot camp.

Frankly, if I were trying to reach stay at home moms and new moms, I could build a marketing campaign off this article alone.  By doing some data mining, I was able to collect a couple of good statistics, a bunch of blogs and some marketing ideas.

What Should You Look For?

Before I tell you what I learned, I’ll start with a list of questions I keep in mind as I do data mining for a client.

Questions to ask as you mine blogs for data:

–         Can I follow them on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube?

–         Who follows them? Should I follow their followers?

–         Are the ads on their blog a good source of info?

–         Could I advertise on their site?

–         What products do they review?

–         Would they let me interview them for my blog?

–         What do I have to offer or share that might make them want to interview me?

–         Are there any individual blog posts I should comment on?

This particular article was a gold mine.  It’s rare to come across a single article this helpful but it does happen.  Here’s what I gathered and why it’s helpful.

Juicy Statistics:

One of the hardest parts of writing memorable copy is gathering statistics.  I keep an eye out for them when I’m reading the paper, watching the news or toodling around on the internet. I keep them in a Word doc for future use.  Here are a couple I pulled form this article.

“According to a 2009 study by BlogHer, iVillage and Compass Partners, 23 million women read, write or comment on blogs weekly.”

“According to eMarketer, advertising on blogs will top $746 million by 2012, more than twice the figure for 2007.”

Blogs with Readers:

It’s not hard to find blogs. The hard part is finding blogs your customers actually read.  That’s where an article like this is helpful. You know the writer did some research and in some cases includes helpful facts about the blogs.  The following is a list of the blogs I culled from the article and some helpful tidbits about them.

Written by Jill Smokler whose blog helped her get a full time job with Nickelodeon’s social-networking site.  Her blog gets about 36,000 page views a month. When you go the blog you see that it accepts advertising and the ads are a good source of info too.

Her About page has a list of blogs she follows which is a good source of other blogs.

She sank some serious change into her blog template! This tells me she’s no amateur. She has 326 Friend Connect followers. Could be worthwhile to check them out.

This blog and a few others link to the site which has over 1500 Friend Connect Followers. The number of Friend Connect Followers and the content tells me it’s a hub site that will be another good source of information.

This blog looks like a news hub and could be a good source of ideas for topics stay at home moms are interested in beyond the usual.

Run by Amy Lupold who spoke a the Boot Camp. If you can find a resourceful angle to what you’re offering, you could have an “in” on this site.

Now What Do You Do?

Before you get all excited and start firing off emails to blog owners about what a great opportunity you have for them, just stop.  Doing so could quite possibly be fatal to your marketing efforts. Bloggers with a good readership GET PITCHED ALL THE TIME and just about all of them have horror stories.  If you are tempted to ignore this advice and email them any way, spend a few minutes reading The Bad Pitch blog.  If professional screw up this badly and often, imagine how easy it is for newbies to do.

Plenty has been written about how to pitch to bloggers. I won’t go into detail about it here but PRoBlogger has some helpful advice here:
How to Pitch to Bloggers – 21 Tips.

But, before you’re even ready to contact bloggers you have homework to do.

  • Read the blog for a while. Get a sense of the tone and the comments.
  • Make a list of the topics they write about and “angles” they take.
  • Take an inventory of your existing content (articles, white papers, videos, etc.) that might be of interest to them.
  • Make a list of existing content you could tweak or new content you could create that would be of interest to their audience.
  • Then, make or teak that content. You’ve got to have your ducks lined up before you contact bloggers.

I know this sounds like a lot of work and it is but it gets easier once you’ve got a solid toolkit of content to pull from.  Keep in mind that it only takes a few well placed mentions of your business or product to become the next overnight sensation.

I could easily spend another 10 or 20 hours mining the sites in this article but why deny you the fun?

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My Two Cents: Even if you think a client is pissed, COMMUNICATE!

Monday, March 15th, 2010

At the end of November, I hired my lil-bro to burn all my CD’s to a hard drive. He’s really good at this kind of stuff and needed the bucks so it seemed like a good idea. Burning all my CD’s to a hard drive has two benefits: 1) I can make a few bucks selling them after the fact and 2) I won’t have to look at them collecting dust in my living room.

It is now March and lil-bro has been incommunicado for over 2 months. I’ve emailed him twice and all I got back was the sound of crickets.(1) Considering he has over 5k worth of my music collection, I felt it necessary to bring in the big guns – aka his Mom.

Fortunately for me, lil-bro lives with his mother who is easily the most responsible person on the planet. Normally I would eschew parental involvement but like I said, he’s been incommunicado and has over 5k worth of my music.

Yay Mom. She put a fire under his butt and as of today assures me lil-bro is burning CD’s like crazy. (3) The whole kit-and-caboodle should be in the mail within a few days.  But, I still haven’t heard from lil-bro and I’m kind of bummed.  If only to tell him I’m not mad; I just wanted a status update.


TAKE AWAY: Even if you think a client is pissed, COMMUNICATE!

How hard is it to send an email that essentially says “I’m working on it”?  Chances are your customer isn’t as mad as you imagine. And for sure they’re less pissed off today than they will be next week.

Granted “my dog ate my homework” only works once and if you’re a terminal excuse maker you will fail at being a business owner but if I’ve learned anything from working with clients virtually, email updates go a LONG way to making customers happy; especially when projects take longer than you think. A little information goes a long way to preventing clients from filling in the blanks with the worst case scenario.

So. When you screw up and blow a deadline, admit it. Admit it as soon as possible, as accurately as possible and tell them how you will make it right. In the long run you could quite possibly wind up with a happy client.


Foot Notes:

(1) I didn’t call him because I don’t have his cell # and no one ever answers the house line. Why they keep it? I don’t know.

(2) I’m no newbie to project management. I offered him a bonus to complete the job by the end of January.

(3) Sorry Dude. Really didn’t want to bring your Mom into it but hey, you’ve got all my tunes!

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