Thursday, June 26, 2008
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
8 simple rules for succeeding on the Web
Commentary: Magazines should find opportunities, not obstacles
By Jon Friedman, MarketWatch
Magazines are squandering a golden opportunity.
That was my message last week when I spoke at the annual meeting of City and Regional Magazines here in this charming city on the banks of the Mississippi River. In fact, many media folks beyond magazine editors are blowing it.
I encountered magazine editors and publishers who bemoaned the state of publishing today. Advertising is down. Circulation remains stagnant. Costs are rising. It's impossible to fully embrace the Web.
Huh? Give me that last one again.
Here's a rundown of their gripes:
Their writers don't want to write exclusively for the Web because it isn't as glamorous as a glossy magazine.
They have a hard time devising easy-to-navigate sites.
Their publishers won't commit funds to the Internet business.
They don't know what kind of content to publish on their sites.
Hogwash. There is no excuse for magazine editors and publishers to be uneasy about the Internet. They talk as if it's some strange, exotic instrument that nobody quite understands.
Here are my eight simple rules to ensure success on the Internet:
Have an attitude. If you have a good time presenting the content on the Web, your audience will likely enjoy reading and using it.
Make it easy to read. It doesn't matter how much great stuff you pile on your site if people can't find it, don't know where to look or feel overwhelmed. Readers should be able to navigate your site easily.
Stress interactivity. The Web offers you an enormous opportunity to reach and keep readers as long as they feel part of your "Internet experience" (not to be confused with the Jimi Hendrix Experience). On the Internet, a person can read a story, watch a video, listen to an interview and, presumably, work up enough of a reaction to send a comment. Building a community of readers and customers is a big step toward success. Interactivity is the magic word.
Entertain. Know your audience. These are curious, busy, easily bored people. Don't be afraid to entertain them while you inform them. The Web shouldn't have the tone of the Nuremberg Trials, after all. People like to see creativity and wit. Heck, by now, the public all but demands originalityon the Web. Let them down at your peril. Reading a Web site should not be something akin to doing geometry homework.
Maintain an identity. Your site should stand for something and reflect the tone of your magazine. If your magazine is sarcastic, your site should be sarcastic. If you intend to come across as highly intellectual on newsstands, do the same on the Web.
Live in real time. Refresh your front page at least once an hour. Your readers exist in real time and so should your site's most important component -- or else you will look dated and inconsequential.
Be true. Accuracy is key. When you print an error, correct it as quickly as possible and make it clear to readers that you have done so. If a factual error appears in a magazine, it must stay there until an editor can print a correction in the following issue. The Web is more nimble.
Experiment. Don't make every single headline the same size or feature the same, endless black-print-on-white-page style. You have an opportunity to look different, as well as to present an alternative style of journalism to your readers.
Again, if you have fun creating a Web site, the readers will have fun. I promise.
Sunday, June 01, 2008
BoSacks Speaks Out: Jonah Bloom is spot on in this vent to the advertising/marketing industry. It is a retelling of a story I wrote about last year, but one worth revisiting. The concepts here are just as relevant for large publishers as they are for smaller publishers. Just as relevant to local magazines as to national titles. With a little creativity we can market ourselves with unique applications to reach our public in humane and genuinely appreciated ways.
"It is not what we read, but what we remember that makes us learned. It is not what we intend but what we do that makes us useful. And, it is not a few faint wishes but a lifelong struggle that makes us valiant." Henry Ward Beecher (Liberal US Congregational minister, 1813-1887)
Make Your Marketing Useful, Like Samsung and Charmin
Take a Small Chunk Out of Those Billion-Dollar Budgets and Help Provide a Free, Helpful Service
By Jonah Bloom
After about half an hour of staring at the space where a plane should've been, we're granted the announcement we knew was coming: The 3:30 p.m. out of LAX is now the 4:50 p.m., which we all know means it's really the 6-something p.m. There's a brief period of eye-rolling before everyone goes back to their business, which in my case means huddling with a dozen other worshippers around the Samsung totem pole to which our BlackBerries and laptops are attached.
If you have the misfortune to run the gauntlet of America's airports with any regularity, you're all too familiar with this scene and may even know the totem I'm referring to. It's an eight-foot, electrical charging station with a little shelf about halfway up its length where devices rest and recharge. It was Samsung that came up with the idea to pay for and install these life savers, hence having its brand name emblazoned on the side.
There are now more than 50 of them in both LAX and New York's JFK and a bunch in Dallas-Fort Worth, too. Earlier this month Samsung announced plans to bring them to LaGuardia and Orlando, where they'll undoubtedly be the most functional thing about two airports that vie for the title "grimmest travel hub" with Uzbekistan's Tashkent International Airport.
Do I think charging stations sell phones? Unlikely. But they're way more likely to leave me feeling affection for the brand than some mind-numbing airport billboard that has nothing to do with the frustration and boredom I'm experiencing. They're classic examples of marketing as service, a concept worthy of more attention and dollars than it's getting.
Marketing as service is where brands actually give consumers something they want or need. It's also been tagged "brand utility," while WPP's Bridge is giving it a slightly more altruistic, cause-centric slant and calling it "marketing with meaning."
One of my favorite examples came from Metro newspapers in the U.K., which spent some of its launch marketing budget repairing and improving inner-city sports facilities. It was a good way to get the Metro name emblazoned into the very fabric of the cities in question and a clever way to give the brand a bit of "history" within the city.
There are other examples: the oft-quoted Nike Plus and, just as brilliant, the Charmin restrooms in Times Square. But they're too few and far between. Drew Neisser, CEO of interactive shop Renegade, collects them on thedrewblog.com and is responsible for executing one such program, the HSBC BankCab, which ferries the bank's customers around New York free of charge. But he admits he hasn't been able to find that many and believes that's because "frankly, even if a few people talk about it, too few really get it."
My suggestions: AT&T, for example, how about you spare a few million from the billion you spend shoving your bars in my face, and help the MTA fix its Subway intercoms? Or Citi, how about you take some of the hundred million a year you spend telling us how friendly you are to construct a wireless network for New York? (Hell, I can even see an adaptation of the umbrella in your logo as a wireless signal.) BP, you really want to convince us you're green, how about putting together a borrow-a-bike system in a few U.S. cities, like the ones in Paris, Berlin and Munich?
Don't get me wrong. Consumer affection and interaction can be won through extremely entertaining advertising. But for brands who don't believe their mission in life is to entertain or have tried and repeatedly failed at that exercise, marketing-as-service offers an option that doesn't involve thrusting your mission statement in our faces every time we turn a corner.