Wyo Biz Council Idea Expo A Success

I’m finally getting caught up on things after last week’s Wyoming Business Council Idea Expo. While attendance was down some from previous years, I felt the program was very worth while. Of course, my completely biased opinion is based on the fact that I gave two very well-received seminars. I had gone prepared to present only my search engine optimization seminar but was asked at the last minute to talk also about social media marketing. This seminar turned out to be one of the best-attended of all during the Idea Expo.

Social media marketing is obviously very hot right now, and the interest Wyoming businesses are taking in this topic is understandably high.
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Jackson Hole Chamber Marketing Seminar A Success

Twist of Lime's Chris Hansen highlights the finer points of organic vs. paid search.

Twist of Lime's Chris Hansen highlights the finer points of organic vs. paid search.

I have to admit, I was a little nervous about my first seminar presentation. But I had spent a lot of time preparing—I knew my stuff and I’m comfortable in front of an audience. All in all, I have to say it was a success. (I know I should have plugged it here first, but most of my MarketGreener readers are a different audience than the Chamber’s members. Perhaps that will change…)

While the Chamber billed it as a “No/Low Cost Marketing Seminar,” I prefer to refer to it as Online Marketing 101. I covered the following:

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Is It Really Possible To Green Direct Mail?

The Green Marketing Coalition has new guidelines that, well, don\'t do much.

That’s the topic of the New York Times article this morning titled, “Direct Mail Tries to Go Green. No, Really.” The initiative, while admirable in its effort, is a bit dubious to say the least. It is headed up by the Green Marketing Coalition and they have introduced a few ways to help lighten the carbon footprint of those who insist upon using direct mail for marketing purposes.

Don’t get me wrong, I too agree that direct mail is an effective way to reach potential customers, and I encourage my clients to use it in select circumstances. But, like others quoted in the Times article, I’m a bit skeptical of the effectiveness of the Green Marketing Coalition’s efforts. You can download a copy of their “Recommended Guidelines” at their site and see what I mean. Among the recommendations they list:

    Purchase recycled paper.
    Choose vendors and partners with internal environmental initiatives.
    Use UV printing presses and comply with hazardous waste disposal standards.
    Improve “list hygiene.”
    Proof and edit using PDF files rather than hard copies.
    Use chlorine-free, recycled paper. (this seems like a redundant point)
    Benefit from tax savings by going green.

These recommendations are good ones, but to me they seem a little obvious. Shouldn’t direct marketers be doing this already? And the last “guideline,” “Companies can benefit from the tax savings associated with going green,” seems like where their real efforts lie.

According to Spyro Kourtis, president of the Hacker Group as quoted in the Times article,

“This industry just didn’t have any real green standards.”

Well, at least they’re doing something. But we’re not living and working in a vacuum here. The guidelines were developed with the help of the above-mentioned Hacker Group, which is a direct marketing firm. One has to wonder why direct email or other types of electronic marketing aren’t on their guidelines. Obviously they’re protecting their own interests, but if this were truly a broad-based initiative to really green direct marketing and do more than just greenwash and reap some tax breaks, their guidelines could easily go beyond printed junk mail.

I have to agree with the conclusion of the Times article:

“So far, the coalition’s guidelines are long on earnestness and short on truly new ideas.”

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Twist of Lime Implements Email Marketing Campaign For Rossetti Designs

Rossetti DesignsEmail marketing is on the rise. It’s been around for a while—since, well, since the dawn of email, I would guess. But while it’s taken a while to get many businesses on board, its use is rising. According to a recent survey by Direct, the response from businesses they polled indicated a 10% increase in email marketing over 2007, and fully 55% of those businesses said they planned to increase their email marketing budget in the coming year.

At the same time, it appears that traditional direct mail marketing is on the decline. According to a recent article in MediaPost, reports are that the economy is what is ultimately stemming the tide of the delivery of wasteful and unwanted paper around the country. Much like the general desire to save gas and drive a more economical car, results aren’t forthcoming until rising prices start taking a toll on the pocket-book.

Well, I’ve taken notice as well and am doing my part to help businesses reach out to their clients via email through my business, Twist of Lime. I’ve been doing some research, and the first thing I noticed about email marketing is that not all email service providers (ESPs) are the same. And why would they be? There are many, many needs out there in the business world. But the biggest challenge I’ve come up against is finding ESPs that are affordable to the small business. Most of my clients and potential clients are wary to even get into email marketing, let alone throw a lot of money at it. While it seems that many ESPs are targeting larger businesses with huge lists and big marketing budgets, there are a couple I’ve found that cater more toward the smaller business that just wants to dip its toe in the water. (Watch for a report on my findings of email service providers in an upcoming post.)

One business in particular that I’ve started email marketing for is Rossetti Designs. They are a small business that, among other things, produces and sells greeting cards from original art. In the essence of full disclosure, I must tell you that this is my wife’s business, so I may be a little biased about just how great her cards are. She’s been sending emails to her wholesale clients since she began her business over ten years ago. And she’s been retailing her cards through her Web site since she’s had one, but the business has really increased since she built a new site last year with an improved shopping cart. Now her growing list of online customers has started to become a little unruly, and dealing with the emails and bounce-backs was taking more time than it was worth. Not to mention she just simply didn’t have the time to reach out to her customers as often as she liked.

So just yesterday we launched Rossetti Designs’ first official email campaign to online retail customers using an ESP, and it’s quite rewarding to see how effective it can be. The original investment of $30 to send to this list was recouped in the first hour. (We won’t talk about the man-hours, since I’m a bit of an indentured servant, but suffice it to say that I get paid in other ways.)

Aside from making it easy and cost-effective to reach out to past customers, I’ve convinced her of some of the other advantages of email marketing via an ESP, including:

1. Reinforcing brand identity
2. Simple and effective list management
3. Analyze results
4. Protect your ISP from being labeled as a spammer

So, if you’ve been thinking about starting an email marketing campaign, don’t hesitate. It’s as easy and effective as everyone says. And if you’re in need of some help, drop me a line. I’d be happy to help.

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Marketing As Service/Utility

I believe strongly that business provides a service, and your marketing should be no different. Your site visitors have a problem—and it’s up to you to solve it. After all, why would they seek you out if there weren’t a specific need? Sure, there are those impulse and luxury buys, but the reason you go looking for something is to fulfill a need (even if it is frivolous). If you solve their problem they might even become your customers. If you don’t, well, it’s sayonara, baby. And they probably won’t come back.

In this age of online interactivity, the Web provides so many ways to provide utility to your customers. Look at all these “thought leaders” out here providing info so you’ll come have a look at what we have to say and, should you feel comfortable with what we have to say, maybe even hire us or use our services.

And you know when you can custom order a pizza online, the age of utility has arrived. It is the future so don’t ignore it. But utility doesn’t just have to be online. There are lots of ways to provide utility. The bottom line is that age of pushing your advertising out to consumers is nearing an end and the age of your consumers looking for what you provide have begun.

I found this slideshow by Paul Isakson a month or two ago. It really sums up “The Future of Marketing + Advertising.”


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Social Media Proving Difficult For Marketers

Will you find customers on Facebook or other social media?

In case you hadn’t noticed, it appears the world of social networking is giving marketers and the businesses they market for a run for their money. I’ve been paying attention because I, too, am a marketer trying to make sense of this very fickle medium.

The bottom line is that, even as anti-social as social media seems on the surface, people are there to interact with people, not advertisements.
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Happy Earth Day Round Up

Love Your MotherWell, today is Earth Day and I have to say, even though I saw it coming, it caught me completely off guard. So, other than the obvious things that I try to do every day like not drive my car, turn the lights off, and recycle everything I can, I thought I’d at least spread a little link love. Needless to say, there a helluva lotta sites dedicated to being green. Not the least (or most) of which is mine. But hey, if you’ve got some time, check out some of the following. You might even learn something!

Treehugger has an Earth Day roundup with all kinds of things from cool things you can do to a survey asking what you are doing.

Green Daily offers some things you can do around your home; specifically, switching all your incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescents. While you’re at it, check out Energy Star’s site for more household energy saving tips.

AutoblogGreen reports on Alaska Public Radio’s story about those using biodiesel and “vegoil” in the cold northern climes. You can download the mp3 by clicking here.

Getting back to business, Duct Tape Marketing suggests buying local for Earth Day…and every day.

The Energy Blog takes the opportunity to help a couple of electric car manufacturers do some Earth Day marketing.

It appears even Disney is jumping on the Earth Day bandwagon. Ecorazzi reports this morning that Disney has launched their new nature site called Disneynature “to produce documentary films about the environment.”

Finally, I found this little gem of a video offering a brief look at the history of Earth Day. Enjoy, and Happy Earth Day!

Green Gap Survey Says: Americans Misunderstand Environmental Marketing

No kidding.

That was the title of an article on LOHAS Online last Friday. What I find most remarkable about that title is that I truly believe most Americans don’t understand marketing. Period. But while I tend to believe that most people are skeptical of marketing in general and advertising in particular, the 2008 Green Gap Survey, conducted by Cone LLC and The Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship shows that

“…almost half (48%) of the population erroneously believes a product marketed as “green” or “environmentally friendly” has a positive (i.e., beneficial) impact on the environment.”

The article points out several interesting statistics, not the least interesting completely contradicting the title of the article: “61 percent of Americans say they understand the environmental terms companies use in their advertising.”
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April Fools Day As Marketing Springboard

Happy Belated April Fools Day!Rather than jump directly on the bandwagon and post something about April Fools day actually on April Fools Day (‘cause that would be too on-top-of-it for this blogger. I’d hate to get a heart attack or something…), I figured I’d wait a week and see what the fallout was and how the blogosphere reacted to it.

I caught a few things right off the bat on Tuesday morning, but most of the April Tom-Foolery on the Internet seems to be in the form of jokes, such as the new-to-me but obviously not new concept of “Rick-rolling.”

But what I’ve been looking more for is which companies are successfully using April first as a way to promote their product, tongue-in-cheek style.
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Which Is The Greenest Brand? "None"

“none” is the greenest brandGreen brands, or brands that aspire to be green, have a ways to go, according to the 2008 Brandjunkie Survey Results. When asked, “What brand do you think is truly (going) green? Why?” the number one answer was: none. By a strong 19.4% of the vote, most survey respondents felt there was no brand out there that was truly “green.” The top responses included:

“Companies will pretend they are environmentally aware except they still have, primarily, only their own interests in mind and are therefore never truly green.”

“All brands are out to please their stockholders.”

“There are attempts at establishing green credentials—but these attempts are happening in silos within brands and companies. Very often, the ‘green’ aspect of the business is far outweighed by the ‘non-green’ areas.”

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Last Day Of Work; First Day Of The Rest Of My Life

Today is my last day of salaried work. Hopefully forever—or at least for a long, long time. It is quite a liberating feeling, as many of you know. And I don’t expect the panic of how I’m going to pay the mortgage to creep up on me for at least, oh, say three weeks.

It was an amicable departure: a mutual agreement that when it’s time to go, it’s time to go. Though I’ve spent the last 15 months as the publications director at a local creative media agency, managing its print publications and much of the editorial content for its online publications, it’s the Web 2.0+ world of marketing that I’ve enjoyed learning the most about. It is a growing market (obviously). So that, and the fact that marketing is an area that most intrigues me, is the reason I have decided to start my own marketing firm.
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SaveTheElves.org A Great Example Of Online Marketing

Save The Elves!At Circumerro, we just launched a holiday self-promotion campaign of satire for the holidays. Its called “Save The Elves” and you can learn more about it at SaveTheElves.org. You see, it appears Jackson Hole has an elf problem. After resting on the National “Elf” Refuge during their long migration back to the North Pole for their winter job building toys for Santa Clause, the elves are supposed to resume their journey. Problem is, many of the more delinquent elves are sticking around town and generally causing havoc. I won’t ruin the rest of the story for you; rather, take a moment to watch the video below.

I don’t mind a little shameless self-promotion since this fits right in with low-impact marketing. We shot the video on the fly, over the course of two weeks, and are promoting it almost entirely online. Though we did send out cards to our clients, we opted for a post-card, and it doubles as our holiday card for the season. In fact, that’s where the original idea came from. And what better way to set yourself apart from the crush of holiday cards?

Be sure to check out some of the out-takes either on the site or via YouTube.

The Generational Gap Between Online and Traditional Marketing

After meeting with a new client the other day, I began to realize the gap in understanding that often exists within organizations between what has been the norm for marketing traditionally and what is becoming the new norm. I’m talking, of course, about the use of the Internet. While that seems to be a no-brainer for so many of us who spend much of our time and budgets marketing online, there is a whole host of people, businesses and organizations out there who don’t realize the potential of Internet marketing.

At first blush, there are two reasons for this.

First is that they have yet to even embrace the Internet as a marketing tool and, because they don’t use it that much, they don’t realize how many people interact with it on a very regular basis.

The second reason is that, while they may be occasional or even regular Internet users, their depth of experience is rather shallow (and I don’t mean this in an derogatory sense). They don’t actively “surf,” and they may have a handful of sites they feel comfortable visiting on a regular basis, but beyond that, the amount of activity out there is completely foreign to them.

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FTC To Update Green Marketing Guidelines A Year Earlier

FTC LogoDon’t know if it’s because I’m paying more attention lately or because all this greenness is coming to a head. Or maybe its the holiday season and our cultural reflexivity toward buying stuff. But there seem to be more reports about green business practices, green marketing and other sustainable business efforts every day. And it’s not just me who’s noticed it; according to several reports around the Web just this week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has accelerated its plans to review its decade-old green marketing guidelines in response to a recent increase in green advertising claims. When was the last time you heard of a government agency doing something before it originally planned to? Things must be getting bad.

According to a Washing Post article this week,

“The FTC, which was scheduled to review its guidelines in 2009, said that on Jan. 8, in the first of a series of public meetings, it would examine carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates that claim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in one place to offset emissions elsewhere.”

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NBC’s Green Week Sure To Garner Green Attention

Joel Makower takes a grain-of-salt view of NBC’s Green Week today over at his Two Steps Forward blog.

While my first reaction is to file this post under “greenwashing,” I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt and a closer look. I can appreciate the perspective that Makower gives in his post. He discloses his connection to NBC yet maintains some distance. “What’s really going on here?” is his main question. While he doesn’t come right out and say it, it appears from his perspective that NBC may be positioning themselves to be best appreciated by those on the inside. And that’s not a bad tactic for a company to take.

Lauren Zalaznick, president of Bravo Media, who is Makower’s main NBC source for the post, is right to believe both that college students entering the workforce will be more likely to be attracted to a major coporation that has its finger on the green pulse and that,

“There’s no one more cynical than a disgruntled group of large conglomerate employees.”

Makower mentions that GE may be looking to spin off its media business and that NBC may be trying to look more appealing to potential buyers, but he doesn’t mention anything about GE’s effort to green their business. As much as I like to discredit any large corporation’s green efforts as greenwashing, I think there’s something here worth taking a closer look at. And hey, if they can get some of their customers who have never considered their environmental footprint to sit up and pay attention, all the better. Makower believes the approach is substantive.

I try to stay away from TV (who has time to watch TV when you’re running a blog?), but I wonder what the execution will look like. I’ll try to catch a few looks, but my guess is that some of this programming may come off as a little to sacharine sweet for most of us who really get the green movement. At first blush, their Green Week Web site looks a little thin and perhaps rushed.

But one thing’s for sure: you’ve got to start somewhere. The real test will be if NBC can maintain their newly minted angle. Makower says it himself,

“What happens after Green Week is over?”

As they say: The proof is in the putting.