John McCrory

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Pump up the Volume

As a corporate marketer, I am often asked what we need to do to dramatically increase awareness of our organization. The answer is simple: turn up the volume.

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More than loudness, however, I mean quantity. If you want to raise awareness, you need to to be in more places where your target audiences or customers can become aware of you.

To be loud is easy. Spend all your money on a full-page ad in the New York Times ($50,000) or a TV ad during the Superbowl. But, how much awareness in your target markets will that really buy?

It is more complicated to pump up the volume in terms of quantity. That requires a different sort of commitment. It requires that you think of yourself as a publisher. Yet being a publisher is usually not one of the things most organizations who are not media companies think of as mission critical. It may be alien to their culture.

No matter in what industry, the organizations that thrive in our knowledge economy (and every economy has been a knowledge economy, really) are the ones whose culture values sharing and communicating. Those values need to be or become essential to your organization’s mission.

What is your organization’s product or service? Chances are, if it is not media, then publishing media is not viewed as essential to the organization’s mission. How can you change that?

You need to focus on both the bottom and the top of your organization. On the one hand, you need to access to the President, CEO, Executive Director, and you need to convince that person of the importance of being a media publisher. It’s publish or perish.

On the other hand, you need to work the rest of the organization. You need to find the early adopters and opinion leaders for sharing and communicating who can (a) achieve quick successes and (b) illustrate the value for others, including the person at the top.

Finally, you have to put your marketing skills to work to constantly communicate the ethic of being a publisher and how that mindset has helped specific departments or individuals achieve goals that are important to leaders and staff throughout your organization.

When you have enough buy-in to reach the magical tipping point, you should discover a fundamental change has taken place, where people in your organization think about communicating with their constituencies on a regular basis and plan a structure and a  schedule for that communication.

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Filed under: Marketing

Who is in charge of your web site? [Poll]

Aaron Green started a discussion on this topic over at the UWEBD (University Web Developers) ning community and it occurred to me it was worth an unscientific poll. I’m certain that at most colleges and universities, authority for managing web content is distributed in some way.

But I am curious about who has lead authority for a school’s overall web presence? Who controls the home page? Where in the org chart does this responsibility mainly sit? I’m also curious how this responsibility is getting diffused as the concept of web presence grows way beyond the home page and the main web site to many different social media networks. I hope the results will augment discussion on Aaron’s topic.

Filed under: Marketing

There is no web site

From 1996 to last year, I had a personal web site. I published an e-zine in the mid-90s. I published an online newsletter at the end of the 90s. I blogged from 2002 to 2006. When my blog was hacked early on, I switched from an open source blog publishing system (dot-net-nuke?) to my own, custom-built CMS that I hand coded in ASP and VBScript to work with a Microsoft SQL Server 2000 database.

I still own the domain but there’s nothing there anymore. It became too cumbersome to maintain. And meanwhile my bits have been scattered over the Earth like ashes, dispersed to Flickr, Facebook, Delicious, Posterous, WordPress, Twitter, and for private intranet-style stuff, Google and Yammer. I hardly ever look at or write HTML anymore, thank goodness.

I’m in charge of the web site for a law school, among other things. We re-launched at the beginning of 2008. We’ll probably redesign in another year. But the truth is, there is no web site. Or at least, your web site is not where your web presence is. You are scattered among dozens, if not hundreds of web media, and your brand is being managed by thousands of people with their own two cents, their own blogs, Twitter accounts, and Facebook statuses.

So let’s get past thinking about your web site and think instead about your presence. You’re everywhere, or you’re nowhere.

Filed under: Marketing,

The recommendation ecosystem

Working on a marketing plan and trying to explain, for laypersons, how radically marketing has changed over the past twenty years, I think this prescient 2005 article by Matthew Yeomans, “Taming the Wild Web,” is required reading, even if only for his coining of the term “referral economy.”

What’s struck me about my use of social media is that I rely on search less and less, and I surf less and less. Instead, I let recommendations come to me from trusted “friends” or sources via Twitter and Facebook. When I search, it is usually for reference information, definitions. If I go to Amazon to look for a book, I immediately scroll down to the user/reader reviews for the social proof.

Here’s the catch: to play in this economy — to be referred to and recommended — one has to be a referrer or recommender oneself. It is more of an ecosystem in which energy is exchanged back and forth among organisms.

Refer or be ignored. That’s the new lesson.

Filed under: Marketing

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