Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dell Giving Away $10,000 Office Makeover

Dell small business is giving away office products - including a $10,000 Dell Office Makeover - so check out the tongue in cheek promotion that pokes gentle fun at those clich├ęs everyone throws around but no one really knows what they mean — Dell’s Synergistic Mission Critical Out-of-the-Box Sweepstakes.

I've been using Dell products since, ummm, around 1995 and though customer service has grown irksome over the years, I keep buying Dells - in my mind they are great small business products. Really, these computers just seem to fit the balance of reasonably priced, good value, dependable machines.

(Now if I could just figure out why the keyboard on my current Vostro keeps getting jammed...)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Community Coverage Up - What's It Mean for Local Businesses?

Today there's a story in the NYTimes, As Papers Struggle, News is Cut and Focus Turns Local, primarily reporting on a newly released study from Pew Research, The Changing Newsroom: Gains and Losses in Today's Papers.

Among other interesting tidbits, the study shows that 62% of a cross-section of American newspapers have increased community coverage.

One of Pew's key conclusions is, "Papers both large and small have reduced the space, resources and commitment devoted to a range of topics. At the top of that list, nearly two thirds of papers surveyed have cut back on foreign news, over half have trimmed national news and more than a third have reduced business coverage. In effect, America's newspapers are narrowing their reach and their ambitions and becoming niche reads."

So how does that play out as an ad vehicle for local businesses? Sadly, it doesn't much matter.

While newspapers fumble with content and formulas and business models, they are still locked in the past so far as an ad vehicle. The old model is, "We have lots of interesting content, which brings readers, which means any ad you put alongside that content will get eyeballs."

Well - the eyeballs are diminishing, the page size is shrinking, the content is not compelling, but the ads are still smished together on page after page.

Is any newspaper saying, "What can we do to so advertisers get better visibility? Are we tracking results our advertisers get and working on helping them get better results? Are we helping readers find ads that are of interest to them? Are we using all our media together to be sure that an ad buy with us becomes valuable content to our community? Is our content and our advertising working together to provide a valuable product?"

As far as I know, it's not happening.

I get the whole separation of advertising and journalists. Honest. But the whole model of how advertising fits into the changing face of the newsroom is one that demands exploration.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Best of Local

The folks at Local.com have taken an age-old tactic used by newspapers and created a "Best of" promotion.

Given that Yelp.com (a Local.com partner) is big enough that folks are beginning to look at it with a little more skepticism, the timing is good and I like this recent promotion even though the prizes for the business are a little chintzy (publicity, enhanced SEO listing). Seems the company could have arranged a co-promotion with Staples for $100 gift certificate. Anyway...I stray. This is an example of a promotion that works:

Local.com Corporation (NASDAQ: LOCM), a leading local search site and network, announced the launch of the company’s “Best of Local” awards program.

The annual “Best of Local” program will feature the best businesses as rated by consumers in 15 cities and 20 categories across the U.S. Businesses will be ranked based on the quantity and quality of the reviews that have been submitted about their business by visitors to Local.com. “Best of Local” winners will be selected and announced on December 1, 2008.

For more information about the “Best of Local” program please visit: www.local.com/bestoflocal.

To help kick-start this new program, the company also launched a “Best of Local” weekly drawing for a $500 American Express® gift card. Visitors who write a valid review on a local business at Local.com will be automatically entered to win. To register and enter to win please visit: www.local.com/bestoflocaldrawing.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Better Dead than Read?

From Goldman Sachs analyst Peter Appert, in a Wired blog entry titled, Media Death Watch, Newspaper Analysts Dwindle:

"If I covered only the newspaper industry, first of all I would have been fired a long time ago; secondly, I would have had to kill myself."