The Power of Blogging for Corporate Marketing

August 25th, 2006 |
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I have spent more than two decades in technology marketing and have always been a big believer in candor and transparency with the “market”. As a General Manager at Regis McKenna in the 1980s and then later as a Marketing Partner of venture capital firm, Mayfield, I was instrumental in getting these firms to convince clients and/or portfolio companies to conduct surveys of their markets — one-on-one conversations with influential customers, prospects, lost customers, analysts, and developers — about their perceptions of the company, market, business strategy, technology, product(s) and the like. These studies provided the transparency needed that allowed companies to get some idea of what their customers or other influential members of their marketplace were thinking. They were powerful marketing benchmarks for a view into the marketplace and normally provided the foundation to build a more strategic marketing plan.

The surveys took a long time — sometimes three months — because they were one-on-one conversations by phone or in person with more than 40 people. These conversations tapped into perceptions and were incredibly insightful. Much work went into summarizing and analyzing these conversations and essentially “measuring” their thoughts so that these perceptions could be used to drive marketing and communications strategies for the company.

For corporations today, blogs can provide the same benefit, but are a much more efficient means of communication. Take for example how Bob Lutz of General Motors is using his Fast Lane blog, where now more than 10,000 customers have responded with comments, rebuttals and criticisms of GM. This would have been the same type of data I would have gleaned from the perceptual studies at Regis McKenna or Mayfield, but the information is now available in real-time. Even better — it is totally uncensored. From what I have read, Lutz thinks this input has been enormously valuable and has driven corporate product development strategy.

Blogs have other uses in corporate marketing as well; they are effective in establishing thought leadership, building deeper communities and creating stronger customer relations. Given my belief that a blog should be used as in corporate marketing, I discovered a newly published book called The Corporate Blogging Book by Debbie Weil that is very provocative. It is a must read for anyone who is interested in learning more about how companies are using blogs today. As the host of the Marketing Voicesâ„¢ for PodTech, I interviewed Debbie Weil on her book. In the podcast, we discussed what the best ways are for a company to use a corporate blog, what companies are stellar examples of corporate blogging, how companies should think of ROI as a return on influence rather than a return on investment — an acronym that has new meaning for me as I reconfigured it — and finally delved into the potential challenges of using blogging as a corporate marketing strategy. Blogs are wonderful at providing the necessary transparency to a marketplace’s perceptions — a true “naked conversation” — to quote my PodTech colleague, Robert Scoble, soon to launch his own show on PodTech as well. The Marketing Voices podcast and Debbie’s book are helpful for those seeking more information on how to view blogging’s power for marketing purposes. Listen to it and let me know what you think!

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