Friday, November 16, 2007

Distinguished Volunteer Fundraiser

Today, as some of you know, I'm one of the Silicon Valley folks being honored by the Association of Fundraising Professionals as a Distinguished Volunteer Fundraiser.

The recognition is a result of my volunteer work with my nearby YMCA in its annual Community Support campaign. This annual effort supports scholarships to YMCA programs so no one is turned away for lack of funds.

In addition to helping raise funds each February, I try to bring my marketing skills to play during the annual campaign: helping write campaign literature, letters and emails for other volunteers to use, scripts for use on the phone, telephone training, and ideas that raise awareness among the YMCA members.

Thanks again to all who have called and emailed to say "congrats."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

News from the Local Space - NBC Makes Moves and Zillow Partners With Newspapers

TV Week broke the news today that the "English-language, NBC-owned TV stations have been renamed NBC Local Media. The new division [is] important to the station group’s mission to be a full-service local content provider for all digital platforms and to provide a full range of integrated marketing solutions to the local marketplace.

"Brian Buchwald has been named senior VP of local digital media and multiplatform, and Mark French has been named senior VP and general manager of NBC Everywhere, a new unit focusing on the company’s growing digital place-based networks. Both appointments are effective immediately and report directly to NBC Local Media Division President John Wallace." NBC is trying to get a bigger piece of the local advertising pie. Are there new partnerships to look forward to, or will they try to go it alone. Whatever the case, it's worth watching.

And in other local news, check out Peter Krasilovsky's coverage of the announcement Zillow has made its move to partner with newspapers, a good sign that newspapers aren't going to lay down and die when it comes to their part of the online real estate advertising that Borrell Associates estimates will swell to $3 billion by 2010.

What's all this mean for the small local business? More companies trying to build better local sites can only help create healthier advertising platforms. Will big media ever create a digital strategy that is useful and effective for small businesses? We'll have to wait and see.

Monday, November 12, 2007

What Consumers Want

Another report well worth the time: Sterling Commerce and Deloitte issued a report, What Consumers Want in Their Shopping Experience, that discusses what consumers want in online and traditional shopping.

While geared to retail, the findings also have applications all small businesses should put into play. Come to think of it, most of us could name some big dot com companies that would do well to keep these expectations of customer service in mind

Key findings:
  • Both online shoppers and offline shoppers had three major areas of dissatisfaction with their shopping experience: Lack of information availability, out-of–stock items, and lack of assistance/poor customer service from store personnel.
  • Consumers ranked online notifications higher than product rating and review features. Consumers also chose proactive notification of delayed shipments as one of the important features that increases trust in a retailer.
  • Tracking an order across channels is also a necessity, with 57% of consumers stating that it is important for them to be able to monitor the status of their order via the Web, a 1-800 number, or through customer service in a store,regardless of whether that order was placed online, through the catalog, or as a special order in a store.
  • Seventy-two percent of consumers say that finding sale items out of stock decreases their willingness to shop with that retailer. That is a huge number.
  • Sixty-nine percent say it is important for a retailer to be able to locate an out-of-stock product at a different location, and then provide the consumer with various delivery options.
  • Consumers are becoming more familiar with the experience of a single retailer offering products across multiple channels. They expect the communication and service options related to these products to be seamlessly merged.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The End of Advertising As We Know It

IBM Global Business Services has a new report, The End of Advertising As We Know It, that is a great read for those (like me) who care about such things.

It's received lots of press already, but I include it here so you'll have an easy link.

The report has a lot to say to the media and agencies that are engaged in the business side of advertising, but all this certainly impacts local businesses. It's already common to find small local businesses struggling for creative ways to market the business without having to spend all day at the computer watching keywords, listings, consumer reviews, etc.

Now we have a forecast that shows increased consumer control, growing niche media, and reliance on self-serve advertising models.

How can small business survive and thrive in this environment? More to come in future posts.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Newspapers Talk About National Online Ad Market - Again

Story in today's Chicago Tribune: 5 newspaper giants in talks about online ad network

I must be in an endless loop akin to a Groundhog Day scenario, because I've seen this headline before. About a dozen times since 1995. [Heck, I was part of the effort on a few occasions.]

This time, according to the article, the new network is to "help them recapture ad revenue leaking away from their print products." Well! Ok then. I get it. The first kajillion times didn't work because newspapers weren't losing enough money. Most observers thought it was because there was no consistency of audience, content, platform, and quality among the websites and the local staff knew that corporate was putting no teeth into the mandate.

And, yes, the new consortium "would both overlap with and compete against another network set up last year by Yahoo Inc..." The deal with Yahoo wasn't enough, uh, why? "What's missing [in the Yahoo partnership] is the ability for the newspaper companies to sell their own national ads across each other's sites." Wow - now I see the light. Apparently, newspapers are super stars about selling national ads on websites.

I'm a firm believer in monetizing websites. I know that it can be an advertiser's nightmare to try to buy ads in a string of newspaper websites. But the reason it has never happened is not for lack of a dedicated sales team that will "sell for newspapers."

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me a dozen times...nope.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Cisco Launches Entrepreneur Contest

It's not local, but the Cisco I-Prize is a pretty cool contest for entrepreneurs and innovators.

Cisco wants to plug its collaboration technologies so they are inviting folks to post ideas and form global teams to create technology business ideas. The lure at the end of the contest is being hired by Cisco as founders of a new business unit with a signing bonus of $250,000 and an investment of up to $10 million over three years.

Here's the press release announcing the competition with links to all the details. To enter the contest: Register on the Cisco I-Prize Website. Post your idea and comment on other ideas posted by fellow entrepreneurs. Use the Human Network to refine your concept and form an idea team of all-stars that can take your idea to the next level. Registration ends Jan 15 - so if this is your cuppa tea, don't delay.

A reminder to those of you who aren't so techie - don't forget the Intuit contest for small businesses with its $50,000 prize. Deadline is December 15, 2007 and even if you don't win you get free software.