Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Bogus Leads

When is a lead really bad?

At a recent meeting of the Wasatch Online Marketing group there was a discussion of a search campaign that produced bogus leads. The client has a very technical product and a very narrow audience they are trying to reach. So, they introduced a white paper describing their solution and got a lot of leads. Unfortunately many were "bogus" and the discussion turned to search-bots, mad-robots, click-fraud, and auto-populating the form.

In reality, the issue was the offer and information had general appeal to a wider segment. While the audience that requested the report aren't buyers, many may be influencers or users of the category. So, before throwing the baby out with the bath water ask yourself: are other people interested in what I have to say?

If the goal is to increase lead flow among a highly-targeted group then there will be spill over into non-buyers. These may be useful or they may be chaff. If they truly are chaff then general search strategies aren't appropriate and vertical or niche engines a better option. The smaller the market, the more targeted you should be - up to picking up the phone and calling them.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Power Windows

What's happening online?

In my day job I read a lot of news letters and marketing pieces.  Thoughts of the week are now published on Power Windows on the company's site.   Hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

White Space and Market Sizing

How big is a market when none exists yet?

When looking at the white space of a category for new opportunities the wrong question to ask is: "How big is the market?"

By definition new areas have no defined market boundaries so the answer is 'zero'. This is hard for executives to hear - they want safety in numbers. Sure, we can come up with numbers but latent demand, like the advertising value of UofP's exposure on the super bowl, is a 'bit' difficult to calculate and defend. Any answer is wrong - just remember the need for 5 computers and 900,000 cell phones.

The objective of analyzing white space in a product positioning exercise is to determine if it is probable that a category could be created. Is there a need , or more often a combination of needs, that can be satisfied totally differently than alternative offerings? Note that most new markets tend to be a subset or reconfiguration of existing, larger markets. Consider that Billboard now tracks 45 charts for singles, 47 for albums and another 7 for videos. The second question is: Are we capable of satisfying that need? If you can articulate a need and envision a solution then you're on the right track.

The goal is very different than a line extension exercise.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Human, Social and Algorithmic Search

Can the long tail be segmented by style?

In a recent post on The Long Tail, Chris Anderson relates a discussion around how the 'tail' can be thought of in different ways in terms of search strategies. The idea is that the fat head will be human, the middle of the tail will be social and the long tail will be algorithmic. That seems logical since for my area of expertise I know what I don't know and who to ask, for related topics I'm guessing somebody I know might know somebody else who might know, and for completely new topics/areas I have no clue who to ask so let the machine try to help.

In support of the middle tail (or is this the 'belly'?) a friend of mine who runs echodonation has used LinkedIn as a social search tool. The ability to ask questions of a network of people has provided surprisingly good information along with the bad and blatant sales messages. A recent question about landing page design targeted to executives gave the development team good pointers - all for free and without advertising (I'm out of a job if this takes off).

So, what does Chris (my friend, not the author) do? He builds out a long tail of contacts in order enlarge his search network. From a handful of business associates and colleagues to a very large network he has created an extended search pool.

It is interesting to note that the market is determining the use of the product (again.)

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Day Google Died

When did the stumble occur?

It wasn't the day Microhoo was announced; nope it was before that when they migrated from their strength into other territories. Newspaper, radio and television advertising might be related to search or they might not be - doing an awareness campaign for a new category is a bit tough if people don't even know you exist. Those probes into the larger marketing arena haven't been nearly successful.

The recent bar codes for cell phones is another example of a forray of falling under the spell of the convergence sirens. It is presumed to be 'advertising' and everybody is worrying about that revenue pie. But is it? (Is it even necessary?) It is simply a form of cross-platform tagging that could take advantage of cell phone features, if we had them.

Reminds me: "If we had ham we could have ham and eggs; if we had eggs."

Google is known for search -- it is a verb, which is even better than being a noun or adjective (think scotch tape or formica). It should focus on improving that area since I still can't find what I'm looking for. Yes, the growth rate will slow. Yes, other firms will be experts in other areas. Yes, there's room for new kids on the screen.

Friday, February 01, 2008


What is the new idea?

The acquisition of Yahoo! by Microsoft for something north of $44 billion raises a set of interesting questions.
  • Just what does the combined firm offer?
  • Will the uniqueness of the brands be erased in the cause of economies of scale?
  • Will people be forced to reorder their thinking?

The rational logical arguments is easy - combine two top 5 destinations and dominate display advertising.

Power Points on how I'd think about the opportunity; nobody is asking but here goes:
  1. Establish Google as the 'evil empire' -- as the world's largest travel agency they don't really provide much in the way of given me a reason to hang around. MShoo! gives you what you want - right here on the page, content.
  2. Own online branding - pay-per-click advertising is great for transactions and affiliates, but if you want to establish a brand you need to focus on awareness and interest, preferably using humor or entertainment to cut through the clutter. As we know, display advertising can't hold a candle to ppc in terms of efficiency; so blow it out and go where text can't.