This is a transcript of an audio podcast.
Editor's Note: This is episode 2 of 8. If you are just jumping in, you might want to start with the transcript of episode 1.
Lee Odden: Welcome to IBM Press Podcast Series with Mike Moran and Lee Odden. My name is Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Online Marketing and Executive Editor of marketingblog.com. TopRank is an internet marketing consulting agency that provides enterprise, search engine optimization, social media, and online public relation services for clients that range from Hewlett-Packard to McKesson. Mike Moran is our guest today, and the credentials list on Mike Moran is nearly a mile long, including the fact that he is the author of two very important books, the new Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules and Search Engine Marketing, Inc. Mike Moran is an IBM distinguished engineer with more than 20 years experience in search technology. He led the original search marketing strategy for IBM.com as well as the integration of the IBM.com’s site search technologies. Mike worked on IBM’s website for eight years and now works on IBM’s OmniFind Enterprise Search and Analytics Products. In addition to his search work, he’s also a columnist for Revenue Magazine and WebProNews. He also writes a very popular blog called "Biznology," which you can find at mikemoran.com. This is episode 2 of 8 Podcasts. We’ll talk about how the internet opens up new kinds of marketing offering new opportunities for marketers to reach their target audiences.
LO: So, Mike, tell me what you mean in the Do It Wrong Quickly book where you talk about the new marketing communication.
Mike Moran: Well, Lee, I think that a lot of folks are a little nervous about the internet because they think that it means that everything that they knew about marketing communication has gone away, and the truth is that it hasn’t. What’s really true is that we’re experiencing changes in the way that you communicate with customers, but a lot of things that you knew are still true. So, it’s still important to know how to identify your message and to find when it resonates with your customers. It’s still important to know what your customers’ characteristics are and for you to be able to target segments in your market. So, all those things are still important. The thing that’s changed is where it used to be that you were going to interrupt people while they were doing something else — you’d have a TV commercial come on while they’re watching a show, or you’d have a magazine ad while reading an article. Now, what’s happening is that you’re forcing customers to select to hear your message. So, you have to have something appealing, something attractive, something that you want them to look at. You’re going to have to have a message that they pick and that’s different from the way it used to be. So, you need to have something that they’re going to subscribe to whether it’s an e-mail newsletter or blog. You’re going to have to have product information that’s relevant to what they are doing because maybe they’re typing in a search. You’re going to have to have something that causes them to choose to spend time with your marketing message. That’s something that’s very different from the way things used to work.
LO: It’s an interesting play how push messaging has been an advertising strategy or marketing strategy for a lot of organizations for many years; and the notion of pull where customers are self segmenting themselves, let’s say, through search or their decisions to subscribe to the various channels of information that are being communicated.
MM: Yeah, that’s really one of the biggest changes. Now you have the opportunity to reach people right at their point of need. It used to be that you might be able to pick the right demographics, but you still had no idea whether the exact people that got to read your message were interested in it, in that moment. With search for example, you’re typing in something that tells you exactly what they’re interested in right then. You can meet them at their point of need. The other thing that’s really different about the new marketing communications is that you used to be in a position where you focused on message control. You focused on pushing messages out there, as you said. You focused on staying on message and making sure that you had coordination of messages across all your channels. All those things are not unimportant, but the idea of message control is probably waning because you’re not going to be able to control what your customers say about you. That was always true, but what the web does is give to the customer a megaphone where they get to say the same kinds of things with the same credibility that you have.
So, web 2.0 especially gives the customer a printing press so they can comment on your blogs or write their own blogs; they can change your wikis; they can rate your products and review your offerings. They have all sorts of ways that they can use the web as a printing press where they can put their opinion out there just as easily as you can. So, your marketing message doesn’t dominate the media anymore. It has to share space with customers who were talking about you as well. And, if you’re really not listening, customers will go and create a hate site. And that’s something that when somebody searches for your company name that could be the number three search result. Even though you spent millions of dollars trying to get your message out there, somebody who spent very little can put a message out there that might even be more credible than yours with your customers.
What’s really happening is that it’s not a one way message anymore where you decide what the message is and you control it to be turned into a conversation. This is something that years ago the folks who wrote the Cluetrain Manifesto were on to when they talked about marketing becoming a conversation. Well, it’s kind of happened now. The reason we are still talking about it is because now everybody really has to cope with this new reality that marketers can say whatever they want, just like they always have, but now they’re in a position where they have to hear what customers say back to them and they have to respond to it. Sometimes customers are going to criticize them; sometimes they are going to misunderstand what the marketer said or they’ll be offended by it; all those kinds of things always happened, but all they could do is tell the person next door. Now, they can tell millions of people whenever they want and marketers have to respond to their conversation.
LO: So, now it’s more of an interaction, and it seems that technology has evolved through various social media communities and channels that facilitate that type of interaction. Marketers needed to be aware of that and how to capitalize on it.
MM: Yeah, I think that we talk a lot about viral marketing these days. All viral marketing is word-of-mouth on steroids. It’s just the same kind of thing that always happened, but it’s just exponentially different in terms of the reach that people have who are talking. I’ve heard somebody refer to it as word-of- mouse’ and what that’s really saying is: people always have this interest in telling their story about how they feel about marketing messages or product experience, but now when they tell it, they can tell it to many, many more people. They can tell it even more easily than they could before and they can tell it in much greater depth; so marketers are interested in harnessing that so that good messages are passed along. They also have to be careful and respond when there is a bad message being passed along so that they can kind of dampen down the hysteria that can take over and make up bad stories that run all over the web.
LO: So, yeah, it’s just like in chapter 2 of your book where you talk about new wine in old bottles. It’s really nothing new. What kind of advice would you give to companies that understand, "I have to be part of this conservation," whether it’s advertising or public relations or marketing folks? What can they do to do a better job at listening to their customers, to their market?
MM: I think the first thing that they can do is to take advantage of technology themselves. Whether it’s a small company that wants to use something like GoogleAlerts where Google can send you e-mail that tells you every time your company was mentioned or the name of your product or the name of an officer of your company, or there are other high-end reputation monitoring services that can go out and look and harvest all this information that’s showing up on the web everyday and show it to you and collate it and give you a dashboard that shows you how many positive mentions and negative mentions they had of you yesterday. So, all those kind of technologies are there. There’s technology that allows people to spread messages better. There’s also technology that can help you keep up with all that information that’s exploding. The more important thing is what you do about that. The more important thing is to have an attitude that says we’re going be in these communities. We’re going to not just do damage control when something happens, but we’re going to work with all our employees to be out there on message boards, to be out there commenting on blogs. They’re going to be out there all the time to help our customers. When something goes wrong and there is a crisis, your employees are right there as trusted members of that community. When they have something to say, people will listen to them a lot differently than they would listen to some PR person who comes parachuting in with the company line of what it is that the company wants to say. Being part of that community and really being somebody who’s trusted in that community is the way that you can really get that kind of leverage.
LO: You know, you make a fantastic point in the idea that as marketers we need to engage the communities and be active participants and add value. Because really, it’s only by adding value that we are going to get value out of these types of platforms in ways of helping customers.
MM: That’s right. I think we need to think much more altruistically. When you’re putting stories out there, you need to think like a newspaper reporter. We need to think about what are the kinds of things that would help customers, what’s interesting to customers. That’s how you get them to select your message, and it’s how you’re relevant. I talk in the book about the three R’s of the new marketing and one of them is relevance. One of them is you have to make sure that what you are saying is really relevant to your audience. So that’s why Google will find you because you have done something that’s relevant to what a searcher is looking for. That’s why people will link to you because they find the information you’re offering relevant. That’s how you get the information to spread because when people want to spread your message, it’s because it’s a relevant message to a certain group of people. When they’re using social media marketing they might be using a social book marking like Digg or Delicious. They might be posting a link on a message board in yahoo groups, or in the kinds of communities that are formed around social media. You’re going to have people sharing your message in Facebook. Why are they going to do that? They think it’s relevant to a group of people that they know. That relevance is really important, but you also need the other two R’s. One of them is to be real, to be authentic.
MM: You can’t go out there and pretend you’re somebody you’re not and start posting things. You don’t want to have the normal kind of corporate faceless approach to public relations and press releases. You want to have real human beings out there who admit when they make mistakes who can help the community because they are people who care. So, you need that kind of ability to be real.
The last thing you need is to be responsive. When things happen, you can’t just go into hiding and say, "Well, if we don’t talk about it, the story will die." The stories never die on the internet. They’re sitting out there to be searched in Google five years later. So you have to be out there. You have to engage. You have to be responsive and tell people, "Hey, look if we screwed up, we screwed up. Here’s what we’re going to do differently. We’re really sorry about that, and we learned our lesson. Here’s what we’re going to do." Or, other times you have to say, "Hey, look, that’s really not accurate. Here’s our side of the story. Here’s what we really think." You have to trust that if people are denigrating you unfairly, and you’re somebody who has a high degree of ethics and you show that you are committed to your side of the story, that you really do try to listen and help and fix things every possible way. But if the other people who are talking against you are unreasonable, well, then you have to expect that the people watching this dialogue are going to understand that and they’re going to give you credit for that. They’ll know if the people who are talking against you are all nuts and you have to understand that people are going to recognize that. In fact, one thing that happens is that people who don’t work for your company will kind of dive into these conversations and say, "Leave them alone, they’re doing fine, you’re being unreasonable, and you’re not listening. No matter what they do you don’t seem pay any attention." So they’re going to tamp down their conversation because you have people who are in that community and trusted and who are being real and relevant. That’s what’s going to cause them to help respond on your behalf.
LO: Exactly. The active participation in communities is sowing the seeds for future brand evangelists.
LO: Well, great, this is just fantastic, Mike. This concludes our second of eight Podcasts. Our next Podcast is going to talk about that new-fangled direct marketing where we’ll find out what all those people stuffing your mailbox know about direct marketing. For more information on Mike Moran as well as the two books, Do It Wrong Quickly and Search Engine Marketing, Inc., please visit mikemoran.com. This series is brought to you by IBM Press at IBMpressbooks.com.