Unless you've been living in a cave for the last six months, you have probably heard about blogs. A brief primer for those out of the loop: a blog is simply a webpage that is used as a journal, soapbox, sounding board, public face, and a variety of other things. Whether your interests are on the Right, Left, Knitting, Software Development, Business Management, or just about anything else, there is a blog for you. In fact, there are probably dozens if not hundreds of blogs for you.
Anyway, why does this tie into marketing? I have been reading and scouring marketing books – both about theory and practice – to determine effective ways of reaching her customer base. The of the things which nearly all of these books mention is that the classical concept of marketing is quickly dying. Whether it's a Tivo that allows you to skip commercials, an iPod that carries only the music you want, or a blog that caters to your tastes, the niches are getting smaller and smaller and mass-market ways of reaching them are diminishing.
On my simple cable box, I can select any number of shows for an evening and the box will notify me when they begin and flip to them with one button push. Is this new? Of course not. But it will further change how commercials are produced and integrated.
It appears more and more that Viral Marketing is the way. Why was the Google IPO successful? Was the creation of Gmail and the highly limited number of inivitations to build excitement? Although it is an amazing system which I use heavily, I believe that it's timing, the build up, and everything else was explicitly chosen to drive up interest for the IPO. I knew completely non-technical people singing the praises of Google to others who didn't even realize it could do more than basic searches.
By choosing a small group of vocal users – or “Connectors” – to talk about the pros and cons of the entire service Google managed to convince tens of thousands of people to do all of their evangelism, their user training, and even their beta testing.
If you're in business – small or large – remove the impersonal image from your organization and get real live people out there talking about your products, talking about your organization, and taking feedback from the community. You can't afford not to do it.