“Why do most creative agencies’ web sites look eerily
like? Should a creative shop treat itself like a client?”
“This is a great question. The answers are that (a) agencies are
following each other instead of the market; and (b) agencies need to do a better
job of looking at their businesses through the clients’ (and prospective
clients’) eyes instead of indulging their creative/artistic fantasies.
Ever notice how so many agencies’ sites start with a long/pointless flash
intro? That is a good example of not recognizing that site visitors want to
locate info not be shown a short film.”
Why am I posting this now? Because, while the problem has gotten a bit
better, I notice that all to often it still exists. So next time you see a
useless flash intro that is preventing you from getting to the content you want,
contact the site’s owner, publisher, webmaster (whatever happened to that
title anyway?) and make your feelings known!
Bob London is President of London, Ink, a B2B marketing and
communications consulting firm based in the Washington, DC area. He can be
reached at bob (at) londonink (dot) com.
London, Ink isn’t a PR firm but in order to help clients prioritize
marketing/comm initiatives it’s a necessity to be familiar with a wide
range of marketing tools, services, agencies, etc. I’m also always
looking for creative ways to promote London, Ink in cost-effective, targeted
For those reasons, last year I started using the Vocus
Small Business Edition (aka SBE–a version of PRWeb), an online pr
management tool that is a scaled down version of Vocus’ widely-used
flagship platform. My hypothesis was that, without much investment in time or
money, sending out a series of releases on London, Ink news (client
announcements, speaking engagements, new hires) would increase the number of
quality mentions of “London, Ink” across the web and of course
quality (in the eyes of Google’s algorithm) inbound links to my site.
(A side note: I don’t rely on SEO for inbound lead gen, but ever since
Discovery launched the hit tattoo/reality program called “London
Ink,” my links have been pushed way down.)
Each release took a few minutes to queue up–Vocus allowed me to target
by geography, topic of the release, type of reporter and name of media outlet. I
was also able to incorporate a video interview I participated in with Shashi
Bellamkonda, Network Solutions’ Social Swami. I was able to easily
link the releases to my various online channels, including LinkedIn, Facebook,
Twitter and, of course, my site.
My hypothesis turned out to be correct. After my second Vocus release, the
search engine rankings for London, Ink improved and they continued to do so as I
sent out more releases.
Now for the over-deliver part. As I mentioned, London, Ink doesn’t
typically provide PR services, but I did support a significant announcement by
one of my client’s by doing some basic outreach to my media contacts and
distributing the release via my Vocus SBE account.
My expectation was that the media contacts I selected may or may not actually
receive the release; may or may not see it among the blizzard of releases they
get each day; and/or won’t respond to it. I’m pleased to report that
the client received several great media inquiries, including one from the major
daily paper in their market and another from a key vertical news outlet. Both of
these inquiries resulted in excellent print coverage, which the client of course
So for resource-strapped organizations that need a cost-effective news
distribution platform, check out Vocus SBE.
By Barg Upender, CEO of Mobomo and Bob London, President of London, InkIt’s been more than four
decades since Michigan State University Professor E. Jerome McCarthy theorized
that marketing contains four basic elements: product, price, place
(distribution) and promotion, also known as the “Four Ps of
Marketing” or the marketing mix.
Amazingly, despite the unprecedented upheaval and transformation in marketing
strategies, techniques, channels and tactics during the last forty years-not to
mention marketers’ penchant for postulating all manner of new
philosophies, methodologies, rules and acronyms–the Four Ps of Marketing
have remained unchanged.
But perhaps now there is good reason to revisit and refresh marketing’s
Four Ps: the emergence of “applications” or “apps” as a
new means for organizations to acquire, retain or otherwise engage customers and
What are “Apps”?
An app is a small, self-contained computer program that provides value or
engagement to a mass or targeted audience in a community, marketplace or
platform. Think of Scrabulous for Facebook; WeatherBug for the iPhone;
NBC’s Saturday Night Live widgets; or the Wall Street Journal’s
reader for the Blackberry. Apps are commonly grouped via their method of
distribution and/or platform:
Mobile apps: Designed to leverage the unique characteristics of mobile
audiences and smartphones, such as the need for location-based information
or lightweight, portable versions of larger, more complex services such as
Community- or platform-based apps: Those that are developed exclusively
for and can only be used on a particular site such as Facebook; and
Widgets: Portable apps that can reside on multiple third party sites
The App explosion
The proliferation in the use of apps by large and small businesses, as well
as non-profit and government organizations is well-documented. Apps have been
developed by brands of all stripes as standalone marketing tools or to target
fast-growing, communities such as Facebook (350,000 apps used by more than 70%
of Facebook’s 250 million users1) or the iPhone (65,000 apps
available; 1 billion downloads in first 9 months2).
And due to their ability to achieve low-cost global or
geographically-targeted distribution; their relatively inexpensive development;
and rapid time to market-as well as their virtually unlimited potential for
creating unique and valuable user experiences-apps have only begin to reach
their potential as a new category of marketing tool.
Let’s examine the explosion of one type of app: mobile. The
transformation of the mobile web landscape is reminiscent of the original
trajectory of the World Wide Web. Very quickly, the consensus shifted from
“Why does my company need a Web site?” to “Why don’t we
have a Web site yet?” That shift was caused by the reduced cost of
developing sites, their practical and proven use in engaging customers, the
increase in available bandwidth; and technological advances that helped
organizations deliver more useful and relevant user experiences.
The same phenomenon is occurring today with mobile apps: A recent New
York Times article reports that nearly half (48 percent) of phone users
shop for apps more than once a week and about the same number (49 percent)
report using apps on their phone for more than 30 minutes a day; the cost of
developing mobile apps has dropped dramatically; and technological improvements
are enabling more speed and a better user experience.
How do “apps” relate to Marketing’s Four Ps?
Apps can deliver some portion of the product experience;
promote the brand; place themselves wherever
customers are; and/or be priced to stimulate trial or
engagement. But while “apps” combine elements of each of the Four
Ps, they’re neither fish nor fowl–they don’t neatly fit into
any one category.
In other words, apps are not products, promotions, channels or pricing
strategies. But an app can have some or all of these elements. Apps
are…well, they’re apps. Simply put, apps have become a box you
check in your marketing plan, right next to the other Four Ps. It’s hard
to imagine a new brand launch, Hollywood film, ad campaign or even a fundraising
push occurring without the question being asked, “Should we develop a
mobile or Facebook app for this?”
Barg is the CEO & co-founder of Mobomo, a leading mobile application development company
focused on developing applications for smart phones in the consumer and
enterprise markets. Mobomo has deep expertise in Apple iPhone, Google Andoroid,
Palm Pre, RIM Blackberry, Windows Mobile, and Symbian OS. Barg is a serial
entrepreneur and technologist with 20 years of experience in commercial software
product development. Barg was founding partner of web development firm Intridea
and he founded and sold Concentric Methods, a biomedical software development
company. In 2009 Barg was named by Washingtonian Magazine to its list of
Washington, DC’s Top 100 Tech Titans.
Bob London, President of
Bob London is president and founder of London, Ink, a marketing and
communications consulting firm that helps organizations define and prioritize
their products and services based on what the market wants - or doesn’t
want - to buy. In pioneering the Virtual VP of Marketing concept, Bob works with
established and early-stage companies who aren’t ready for the cost and
commitment of a full-time marketing executive to assess their market
opportunity, determine the strategic options and develop a practical
go-to-market plan. Bob’s work and writing has been profiled or covered
by the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Miami
Herald, USA Today and Marketing News, the AMA’s
flagship magazine, and he recently spoke at Network Solutions’
Unintentional Entrepreneur series. For more information, please visit www.londonink.com.
I’m amazed and disappointed at the breathless coverage and even more
misguided buzz/spread regarding Charlene Li’s recent report correlating
big brands’ “social engagement” with “financial
results.” I am not a research guru but here is my take from the
perspective of a business owner and consumer of business media and social
At the heart of the issue is that so many readers/bloggers, eager to find
proof that social media strategies have an actual return on investment (ROI),
have circulated, shared, posted, tweeted about the study as though it proves a
causal effect between more engagement and improved financial results. It does
But I can understand why people read (or scanned) the report this way,
because while Ms. Li did include the disclaimer that there is no causal
relationship between more engagement and improved financial results, she
certainly positioned that point as an afterthought or aside. Taken as a whole,
the entire report is written and packaged in a way that I find very
The report states there is no causal relationship; you just have to read it
The word “causal” appears only three times throughout the
original material, and in each case it is used as a disclaimer to indicate that
there is not a causal relationship, meaning that more engagement
leads to improved financial results.
Note that we are not claiming a causal
On page 7:
While these findings do not necessarily imply a causal
And on page 15:
While (Senior VP of SAP Community Network Mark) Yolton can’t
yet prove a measurable causal relationship between customer engagement and the
company’s financial performance…
There is some major conclusion jumping going on here.
But looking at context of each excerpt above, Ms. Li jumps to a pretty big
conclusion by saying there is a correlationship (ok, I’ll agree that there
might be one), but that–and here’s where I take issue–what
that correlationship is about.
Ms. Li’s correlationship examples:
Note that we are not claiming a causal
relationship (rest of excerpt) but there is clearly a correlation and
connection. For example, a company mindset that allows a company to be broadly
engage with customers on the whole probably performs better because the company
is more focused on companies than the competition.
While these findings do not necessarily imply a causal relationship,
(rest of excerpt) they still hold powerful implications. Social
media engagement and financial success work together to perpetuate a healthy
business cycle: a customer oriented mindset stemming from deep social
interaction allows a company to identify and meet customer needs in the
marketplace, generating superior profits.
(rest of excerpt) One of the newest channels SAP is using is
Twitter.com/saplistens, a channel where SAP invites consumers to “Talk with
us. We want to learn.” (Senior VP of SAP Community Network Mark) Yolton
emphasized that this reflects the overall culture of the company, one that
values the ability to listen well. While Yolton can’t yet prove a
measurable causal relationship between customer engagement and the company’s
financial performance, (rest of excerpt) he believes there is a correlation.
“It’s more like branding— our activities reflect an attitude of the
company that is more engaged, a company that values the opinions and viewpoints
of the many different voices of customers and suppliers.
This is a surprisingly incomplete consideration of all possible reasons
behind any such correlation. Ms. Li is way to quick to focus exclusively on
highly speculative point: engagement indicates customer focus; customer focus is
a characteristic of successful companies. A good research report will examine
as many such points as possible and make the case for the one they believe is
Many other possible correlations/causes not examined in the report.
But there are many other reasons behind such a correlation. Here are just a
Financially successful companies have more profits with which to experiment
with social media investments.
Because they are financially successful, these companies have the management
latitude (i.e. permission) to make these experimental investments.
Financially successful companies are more confident about their better
balance sheets and income statements and, therefore, more confident putting
themselves out into the social media for reactions/response.
As pointed out by Ben Kunzin a comment on the Altimeter site,
“9 of the 11 companies mentioned as mavens are technology-driven
companies, prone to engaging with customers online. To use them as exemplary
case studies may bias the findings.”
There are many other possible types of correlationships, but the point is
that when you’re a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. The source
of such a report and those who propagate its findings across the web need to be
taken into account as they have reasons to believe the correlation between more
social engagement and improved financial success.
Bob London, president of London, Ink, serves as a Virtual VP of Marketing
for organizations that need hands-on, interim leadership in marketing strategy,
planning and execution. London, Ink is a full-service, on-demand marketing and
communications consulting firm based in the Washington, DC metro area, that
develops and implements marketing and communications programs for mid-size and
growing businesses and non-profit organizations. For more on London, Ink
please visit www.londonink.com or
contact Bob London at 240 994 7644 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Later this week, I’m reprising my highly
rated (by the audience) presentation, originally given at this summer’s National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU)
Strategic Growth conference.
The topic is social marketing but not from a “slam dunk,”
“gotta have it,” “full speed ahead, damn the business
case,” perspective. Rather the presentation examines whether there is
any “there” there yet regarding revenue (specifically for credit
unions, member acquisition, retention and non-account revenue).
Here’s the abstract from the NAFCU Annual Conference site, and I will
post the presentation on SlideShare in the next couple weeks.
Social Marketing is Free so it
Must be Worthwhile… Right? Well maybe, but BEWARE— don’t be
drawn in by the ‘coolness’ of using Facebook, Twitter and
interactive applications to market your credit union without some
investigation. Before you launch a social media campaign that you’re
sure will “go viral,” don’t forget these three simple letters:
R.O.I. Even though setting up a Facebook or Twitter account, or even a blog,
is free, there are hidden costs in terms of time, resources and budget. This
presentation will explore how credit unions and other organizations are using
social media and other Web 2.0 tools and to what degree they are successful.
Presented by Bob London, President and Founder of London, Ink,
(Why Would Investment
Bankers Embrace Social
Media During a Downturn?)
By Brad Fleisher, Managing Director, Focus
The recession has hit nearly all industries across the economy and investment
banking, leading the pack, has certainly not escaped the grief. What used to be
the largest and most profitable group of investment banks on Wall Street,
commonly referred to as the bulge bracket, is now the busted
bracket, consisting of just two bank holding companies - Goldman Sachs and
Although the consensus among mainstream economists is that we’re in the
trough and will see positive growth in Q1-2009, albeit probably mild, M&A (a
lagging indicator) is still weak because of ongoing discrepancies in middle
market valuations Buyers are fishing for distressed deals, and sellers still
have the misconception that an offer should start at 8x EBITDA (and be increased
for average performance) rather than 5x, which is the long-term, broad economy
Taking a page from Rahm Emanuel’s book, and not wanting to waste a good
crisis, a few partners and I took advantage of the slow down to re-think and
execute a new business strategy. We’re seeking to capitalize on three long
term trends in the economy.
Social Media Marketing v. Traditional Media Marketing. While
there is still no more effective way to reach 90 million potential customers in
30 seconds than through a Super Bowl advertisement, there is no better way to
communicate an esoteric point on intellectual property valuation to 140
professionals who are seeking this information than through LinkedIn, Facebook
or Twitter. You don’t have to “tweet” every hour to take
advantage of social networks. And the trend has just begun. Social networks are
becoming platforms to distribute customized services to highly fragmented
communities rather than just a vehicle for information exchange.
Applying these trends to investment banking, the hypothesis for our practice
group at Focus is that we can build our brand and grow our business quicker by
leveraging the Internet and social media than through placing traditional
tombstone advertisements in industry magazines and attending industry and
That’s why, earlier this year we launched Intangible Insights
(www.intangibleinsights.com), which is our online Community of Practice where we
blog, podcast, conduct surveys, publish research, and otherwise communicate with
and expand our target market. We’re even discussing strategies for
streaming video to micro-niche audiences through a branded Internet TV channel,
which may be a number of years out, but is certainly on its way.
Intangible v. Tangible Assets. There currently is an
enthusiastic debate within the Intangible Asset professional community whether
intangible assets compose “upwards of 80% of listed companies’
values” (according to a Brookings Institute report), or just under 50%.
For us, the point is this: Intangible property accounts for a significant
amount of a company’s valuation.
This is a long term trend, if not a permanent change,that will accelerate in
the post-recession economy as developing countries use labor advantages and
decreasing communication costs to offshore commoditized tasks, both
manufacturing and informational. In order to compete, the U.S. will have to
enhance its intangible asset capabilities through R&D, workforce
productivity, distribution networks, and stretch its tangible resources, which
will further diminish the reliance and value of hard assets
Intangible assets compose the largest share of value, by far, in
Internet-reliant companies. Of course, there is significant value in the
intellectual property assets of the knowledge economy company — the
patents, copyrights trademarks, and trade secrets — but the real value
resides at the next layer, in the methodologies that convert the intangible
assets into revenue — culturally-ingrained process to attract and retain
talent, strategic measurement and execution processes, brands, databases, social
networks. Our group is working on a valuation rating system for these intangible
assets so our clients can better understand the intrinsic value of their company
and their acquisition targets. Just identifying and analyzing these assets, not
to mention exploiting them, will help our clients with post-transaction
integration plans or accelerated growth, which is the arbiter of a successful
Generalist vs. Specialist. Since its inception in 1982,
FOCUS Bankers has been a middle market, generalist investment bank and has long
debated the generalist v. specialist strategy. There are benefits and drawbacks
to each, but it’s difficult to toe the middle line. During my five year
tenure at the firm, I’ve worked on deals in industries ranging from
highly-engineered manufactured products, transportation and logistics, and
electronic parts distribution to the information industries, including software,
Internet, IT, and digital media, which is where most of my career experience has
The recession gave us the opportunity to transition into one carefully
defined market: the Internet-Reliant Industry with a focus on intangible assets,
and start a practice group within the firm. The key was to define the space
large enough to have an active and growing marketplace, but small enough to have
end-to-end domain expertise. That it’s highly dynamic, indispensable to
information industries, full of cutting-edge growth opportunities, and just a
lot of fun, doesn’t hurt our commitment.
The silver lining in this recession for us is that we took the opportunity
for introspection and execution. Our strategy is fluid, but our practice group
has staked its future on these trends, which we believe will shape future
markets and US competitiveness.
About Brad Fleisher
Brad Fleisher is a Managing Director at FOCUS Investment Banking in Washington, DC and publisher
of Intangible Insights. Brad is an experienced investment banker, entrepreneur
and attorney with over 15 years M&A, corporate finance, and business
development and advisory experience in the Internet, software & information
technology, media, and education industries. Contact Brad at
Older gentleman sues Facebook and LinkedIn for age discrimination, calling
them “too confusing for some of us older folk.”
Broomville, CO–A 58-year old accounting manager has filed suit against two
of the most popular networking sites, accusing Facebook and LinkedIn of
discriminating against him and millions of older people who find social
networking sites and technologies too intimidating and complicated to use.
“It’s tough enough getting older every single day, but its
downright degrading when you run into a zillion people a day asking if
you’re using LinkedIn or Facebook, as though they’re some sort of
panacea,” said the complainant, Frank Sawyer. “I’ve tried to
use those newfangled things and have spoken to a lot of my peers who’ve
tried also. It just isn’t in our genetics, and it isn’t
Added Sawyer’s attorney, Barney Simonton, “You can’t teach
an old dog new technologies. We’ve tried to contact both LinkedIn and
Facebook to make the case that older folk need a simpler process for signing up
and using these sites–and it took us literally a month to find a phone
number where we could reach a live person. Ultimately, our complaints have
fallen on deaf ears, which has forced us to take legal action.”
“I had one older friend who actually figured out how to start using
Facebook,” said Jennette Porteax, a 61-year old home maker. “Just
when he got comfortable using it they changed the whole darn site
around–the way it looks, the way it works, everything. He just
couldn’t keep up–he pitched the whole social networking thing and
took up woodworking.”
Marketing expert and self-proclaimed ‘thought leading social media
demi-guru,’ Bob London of marketing firm London, Ink predicted the social
networking trend may in fact leave the older generation behind. “Age is a
state of mind–on the Internet no one knows you’re old, unless you
forget to suppress your year of birth on Facebook,” said the
“Old people just need to take a deep breath and try harder. It
ain’t rocket science, and if you need proof of that, just check out some
of the younger crowd’s atrocious profiles. They’re full of bad
grammar, misspellings and illiterate-sounding corporate jargon.”
Both LinkedIn and Facebook declined to comment for this story.
Government 2.0 Camp is the unconference about using social technologies (aka web 2.0/social media tools)
to create a more effective, efficient and collaborative U.S. government on all
levels (local, state and federal).
Government 2.0 Camp will bring
together the leading thinkers from government, academia and industry to share
Government 2.0 initiatives that are already in process and collaborate about
Government 2.0 ideas that are currently
I’m very dissatisfied–to the point of taking action–with
the lack of efficiency and abundance of waste in government and am a big
believer that new Web technologies, Web 2.0 applications and social
media/networking applications can help. Trimming the Federal budget by a
quarter of one percent over the next five years could pay for a lot of fixes
(long-term) to our educational system or seed the nascent but promising field of
I fully support transparency in government, particularly government
spending–it’s our money after all–and again believe that Web
2.0 technologies and social media/networking apps can enable this.
I believe the Gov 2.0 arena will yield good business opportunities for
London, Ink, long-term.
Sounds like a great event! (I like the participatory BarCamp
Great info from destinationCRM.com and supports why companies should consider
solutions like e.SSENTIALS from London, Ink, a fixed-price bundle of
online/social marketing programs. See e.ssentials.net for more info.
Given the state of the economy, Lamba writes that
social networking is a relatively low cost solution that could help in
fostering, “steady communication with existing partners, and clients as
well as incubating new relationships” — a function both desired by
consumers networking with friends and with employees in the workplace. The
aforementioned IDC social networking survey, in fact, indicates that the
majority of social networking users list communication as their number one
reason for usage of such sites.