Most Bloggers are not Most Bloggers…

November 30, 2010

In fact, there is not one single blogger out there that I have ever heard of or come across that is most bloggers.  Everyone has their own individual voice, regardless of what it is you write about or write for.  I read a number of technology blogs, and just because a story is covered by both Mashable and TechCrunch, does not mean its only worth reading one or the other.  In fact, most times you will get a better view of the story if you read both.

So when I see headlines or surveys or reports that try to group bloggers into specific groups and note that there are only a few types of people who blog, it worries me that people still don’t really get it.  Blogging has been around for some time now.  It’s an established platform, not an emerging one.  People have used blogs to spread news, create buzz, sell products, tell stories, make friends, save people, raise money, and teach you how to blog.

Blogging is no longer new media.

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One Team, One Message, One Brand (via GaWrilla)

April 26, 2010

A national tv commercial used to be an effort in branding. It used to be the only effort in branding that really existed. And it was in a time when “branding” as a marketing concept didn’t really exist.

Today, branding exists in every facet of your company. And one of the major features of a good brand is that there is one succinct message being communicated to the public. Commercials, websites, online ads, phone conversations, emails, etc. all communicate the same thing, the same dedication, and the same vision.

To read the full blog post, head over to the GaWrilla Blog.


$10,000 for Innovation

January 13, 2010

Businesses all over the world ask themselves the same questions every day.  Or, if they don’t, they probably should.

“How can we make our company better? Run smoother? More efficient? Make more money?”

Often times we look outside the company for help or advice.  Sometimes we think that we know all the answers and we don’t need help from anyone.  And much of the time I am sure that we just expect things to get better without trying at all.

But take this new idea from the struggling publisher, Conde Nast.  They are offering their employees a $10,000 prize for whoever comes up with the best idea to improve the company.

Sure this is probably a sign of desperation more than anything else, but it still makes sense.  The reason companies hire people is to move forward.  In essence, you want every employee to not only do the job that they were hired for, but to bring new ideas forward and shake things up.  Every entrepreneur from an early point in their lives learns that you are suppose to surround yourself with people that are smarter than you to help you succeed.

Why don’t more companies look internally for help when looking to create a change?  And why don’t more companies have rewards in place (maybe not $10k) for employees that take on that challenge?

I am a strong believer that innovation most often comes from within.


Drive Traffic to Your Blog

December 23, 2009

It’s funny.  I have owned this website, zachheller.com, for two years.  I used to blog at a very good pace, averaging a couple of posts per week.  I was getting really into and then all of the sudden, back in September when I started my new job, I just stopped.  I had less time on my hands and I lost the will to really commit to writing new posts.

Then, a few days ago I got an email reminder from GoDaddy.  The domain was about to expire and I had to decide whether or not to commit to it again.  Since it is relatively cheap I decided to renew, knowing that eventually I would want to own the website again.

This morning I logged on for the first time in months, and low and behold the traffic to my site is up.  It’s been going up the whole time.  The date of my last blog post was September 22nd, and since that day I have had 4 of my most active days yet.  Traffic in November and December are up over this time last year when I was writing very frequently.

So my advice to anyone trying to start their won blog is just do it.  Just write something.  People will come.

Obviously that is terrible advice but it works for me.  Thanks to all my readers and happy holidays!


Microsoft/Yahoo Deal Makes Google Stronger

August 12, 2009

Bing-Yahoo-search-engineNot 0nly do I not believe the hype that the deal between Microsoft and Yahoo will hurt Google, I actually believe it has positioned Google to grow even stronger. Why?  Well lets take a close look at the deal first.

Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft’s Bing will power all Yahoo search sites, and in return Yahoo will sell premium advertising for both companies.  This creates a partnership where each company is using one of its strengths to help the other.  It creates an atmonshpere of no competition among these two companies, essentially making them one company in the search industry, and thus the number 2 competitor to Google in the area.

What the deal does not do is add any more ingenuity or creativity to either company.  What the deal does not do is set up a jointly run division with new talent and new ideas.  It takes the Bing search results, puts them on Yahoo’s sites, and allows advertising to flow freely across both companies’ websites.

Google has come out publicly and welcomed the competition when most people expected them to challenge the agreement, much like Microsoft challenged Google’s own search deal with Yahoo last year.  This deal, like that one, must pass scrutiny by anti-trust regulators.

However, if it does pass, as many expect it to, I think Google has made the right choice not to challenge it.  They will still remain the dominant player in the industry, at close to 70% of all search traffic.  And the combination of #2 and #3 in the industry will make the barriers to entry that much higher. Now, instead of a bunch of small competitors chasing Google, you will have a solid #2 player who will hold off some of the competition that Google should have gotten.

In addition, I think that this deal will send some competitive energy Google’s way.  It will keep them on their toes, make them take a few more chances in their search strategy, and maintain that culture of innovation that has taken them so far.

Of course this is only one man’s opinion.  What do you think?  Is Google better off with Bing and Yahoo on the same team or are they in trouble for this first time in years?


Email Newsletters: Get them Right

July 24, 2009

E-mailIf you own or operate a brand, whether it is a big company, a small business, or just your name, email newsletters have become a popular way of adding value for your clients, customers, or friends.

Some popular email newsletters that I receive are the Yoast WordPress News, which gives tips and tricks for using wordpress as a blogging platform; Media Bistro’s daily news feed, which offers journalism news and updates; Daniel Scocco’s daily blog tips newsletter, which does exactly what the name advertises; and the Change.org weekly newsletter, which keeps tabs on key political issues under the Obama administration.

All of these newsletters add value to my day to day life because they keep me informed on things that I am interested in.  When a person or a website tries to cram a newsletter down my throat, I don’t even give it a chance.  I choose no when given the option, or unsubscribe as soon as I get the first email.  The ones that I am subscribed to right now were all recommended to me by friends and people I trust.

Whether or not a newsletter is designed to make money, either through a paid subscription or advertising, it has to add real value.  Put information in there that people would not find any other way.  Add personal tips that you do not share on a blog or on social networks.  For an email to be worth reading, it has to be unique.  I have to feel like I am getting privileged information.

An example of a terrible newsletter is Motley Fool’s “investor newsletter”.  I get it almost every single day, by now it goes to my spam folder.  It usually carries a headline such as “This Stock Will Make You a Millionaire by 2011”.  Then it follows that up with a large amount of copy explaining how they did their research and advertising the paid version of their website, which I am not signed up for.  In the end, it gives you no information about the stock unless you sign up for their monthly payment plan, which I would never do.  This is not helpful, you are trying to trick your readers.

That is the wrong way to do it.  If you operate a website, and would like to explore the idea of an email newsletter, please plan it out beforehand.  Launching it in the wrong way can really get under people’s skin.  Add value that we could not get off of the website already.  Because, if done the right way, it is a great way to expand the brand, explore new revenue opportunities, and create a loyalty among your readers and customers that can not be achieved in many other ways.


How a Birthday Gift Can Make You a Million Dollars

July 20, 2009

gift-main_FullThis coming Saturday will mark the day I was born 25 years ago, MY Birthday!

Thinking about my birthday, and birthdays in general, I became interested in what a birthday gift can mean.  And I am not talking about gifts that you or I get for each other.  I am talking about a company or business that gives gifts to their clients and customers.

I wrote a post about a month ago about information.  The more you know about your customers, the better you will be able to serve them.  Knowing their birthdays is a small, but potentially important part of that.

If you know your customers’ birthdays, you have options.  You can send them a discount on your products and services as a thank you for being a loyal customer.  Or you can get them a gift, apart from what your company offers, that really makes an impact.

What if you sent a gift certificate to all your customers for their birthdays this year?  You could do it through email, and make it $20 or less.  How much would that cost you?  I think you will end up pleasing enough people, and generating some real long term customers, that it will more than make up for the cost.

But instead, what you sent something concrete?  What if you sent something that you knew most of the recipients would use?  And what if you branded that product so that when they used it, they were helping to spread the word about your company?

You could send a t-shirt, a hat, a computer accessory, a cell phone case, or anything else that people use on a daily basis.  On it, you could put a slogan that would resonate with people, along with your company name and website.

Chances are that…

1)the customers that receive this gift will be thankful for it because they are not used to a company going out of their way to give back, turning them into more loyal customers, 2)some of those newly loyal customers become brand ambassadors, actively telling their friends and associates how great your company is, and
3)the branding that goes along with the product gets people talking, or at least noticing you more.

It is a generous gesture that fits right into a solid marketing plan.  Do something out of the ordinary for your customers and they will take notice.  And the more they take notice, the more likely they are to talk about your brand.

So maybe one birthday gift can’t make you a million dollars, but giving back to your customers on their birthday could prove to be a pivotal part of developing lifetime customers and start some positive word of mouth marketing.  I know if any companies did that for me this Saturday that I would take notice.