Many of us spend a great deal of time seeking ways to advertise our websites and businesses to stand out from the crowd.
How much time is spent actively reacting to what others are saying about us?
Some time ago I was subcontracted to do some marketing research for a company. Their products sold in the $100k+ range and they wanted to know what their primary competitor was doing online. The results surprised me and are something we could all learn from…
Over and over again I found places where the competitor missed out on golden opportunities to share information about their product with people who are in their target audience. Forums catering to people who would be in the market for their product were discussing the product and its potential to add to their business. Quite often questions were raised that none of the forum members knew the answer to.
The missed opportunity for the manufacturer was that no one from the company found those conversations (I found them through a simple Google search on the company name) and jumped in with the answers. It was the perfect set up for the company to join the discussion, promote their product and not been seen as a spammer. In fact, they would have been seen as being proactive about seeking out new customers and being helpful.
I suspect due to the regional nature of their business that many of those questions remained unanswered because a reseller from Florida didn’t want to waste time on a prospect from Texas. And the parent company did not want to infringe on the territories of its resellers.
As a sub-contractor, I submitted my report and have no idea what the competitor did with the information.
What I learned from the experience is that branding is not always about pro-active marketing and is sometimes about actively reacting.
The phrase “actively reacting” stems from a conversation I had with another blogger several months ago. On her blog post, entitled Is There Anybody Out There, she talked about several of the big companies that have left comments on her blog after she included them in a blog post. Ann mentioned that both Harvard Business Review and Dell Computers took the time to stop by and comment on her blog while many other companies did not.
Another blogger I know wrote an interesting article about corporate blogs that offer readers something more than simple product announcements and other boring stuff. The Kodak blog was singled out as being one that talked about something that truly mattered to their customers – taking great pictures. Instead of just using the blog to promote their latest cameras and equipment, they have filled their blog with glorious pictures from around the world taken with that equipment. The site is more of a blog of world travelers than one that is just an extension of the corporate website. (Yes, they do have mentions of specific cameras but the mentions are part of the conversation and the focus is truly on the pictures and the adventures had in getting them. The entries about traveling in China and attending the Beijing Olympics are great reads.)
Within a day, one of the staffers from Kodak visited Matt’s blog and left a great comment.
That comment caused me to check out the Kodak blog over the others discussed and come to think of it I never did visit any of the others.
Sure, Kodak, Dell, and the Harvard Business Review can afford to have members of their marketing staff constantly searching the net for mentions of their companies and products. Those of us with the smallest of businesses (one man or woman bands so to speak) may not be able to actively react to blog posts about us and our companies within 24 hours but we should certainly spend some time now and again searching for conversations about our endeavors and when possible join in on the conversation.