Disintermediation: Brand Direct To Target Audiencedisintermediation | kinetic knowledge

Note: this post originally written November 2007, updated today – August 21st 2012!

Consider the value of a website, including its’ blog, as a powerful marketing & advertising tool VERSUS what existed as options in the past. Nowadays the distribution of a brand via content (advertorial in nature) to a targeted audience is no longer cost prohibitive AND no longer solely in the control of large traditional media companies. A recent phenomena, sometimes referred to as disintermediation, allows a business to reach its’ audience immediately! Inexpensively!! 

Whatis.com defines disintermediation as ‘giving the consumer direct access to information that otherwise would require a mediator, such as a salesperson, a librarian, or a lawyer.’ For the purposes of this post “mediator” means Newspapers, TV Broadcasters, Magazines & large web- based media… all of whom were once a necessity to distribute your message, but NOW you can go direct!

In fact because of reliable search and social networks there’s nothing stopping a business from distributing useful advertorial information to its’ target market.

Blogs As FREE Marketing

Blogs make publishing content cheap and simple. In addition to a ‘rapid publish to the web capability’, it can call to search engines for rapid indexing. Nowadays content is free to go wherever it’s needed. Any consumer has the choice to search, socialize and, in some cases, subscribe. By taking advantage of the opportunity the business is no longer forced to depend upon large media intermediaries. That’s right, a business may actually reduce marketing and advertising cost while reaching prospective clients direct.

Not to say traditional advertising is dead by any stretch. CBS, the New York Times or even a local newspapers’ audience remain loyal, but to invade that connection requires an ad’ and it costs a lot of money. Now with a little effort a business can reach customers direct and without traditional media intermediaries; they can repeatedly touch clients & prospects with great new information – direct! We’re saying it’s a leveled playing field for the distribution of information! Consumers no longer need to stumble upon your ad in order to be informed about what you have to offer. 

 

Jersey Shore Website Design | Kinetic KnowledgeAs a modern day marketer, the bevy of tools and opportunities available to you in that online bag of tricks is astounding. Your biggest challenge is likely, “what tools do I focus on and how do I find time to manage them?” Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and blogging have emerged as the standouts. If any of you have dabbled in these tools, you know by now that you can easily dip one toe in the water and soon find yourself floating in a lake of self induced social media disorder.

 

What is the time value of your money?

Are these social media tools valuable? If you throw the right saddle on them, without a doubt. So how do you effectively manage these interfaces? With a plan of course! That plan should always start with a brainstorming session about your target online audience. You’ll find some good tips about that in this article on creating effective online business content. Once you’ve gotten a handle on who you are targeting then you’ll need to think about the connectivity potential of each tool. Here’s a brief overview of the idea:

Blogging – Managing a customized business blog is by far the biggest bang for your time buck. Why? As you’ll read below, this is the foundation for all of your content and the main push vehicle for all your other networks. Not to mention, you control everything about this environment – how your brand is displayed, whether or not ads are served, who you connect with, and exactly what kinds of messages you want to communicate. In a nutshell the value of your business blog is centered around organic search engine optimization, growth of direct site subscribers, brand/reputation management and niche marketing if you so choose.

Facebook – If you haven’t created a business fan page in Facebook yet, you should. This is the place where all your worlds collide – business, family, friends, teachers, old love interests – they are all there! It’s your extended personal sphere and it’s a great place to publish your message. Facebook makes life a little easier for you by providing many privacy settings that allow you to segment this mixed up sphere. But they also ask you keep business separate from personal and create fan pages for these types of messages.

Twitter – This is a space you grow into understanding the more you use it. Upon first glimpse it seems there would be little value. However, it’s one of the most viral environments and the value of it grows exponentially with tech advances, time and followers (soon we’ll see Twitter playing a large role in geo located messaging!). It’s also a great place for learning – follow those that add the valuable tips you need.

LinkedIn – This is a professional network of your peers. It’s a great way to stay connected to your historical colleagues and peers. It also allows for messaging within this realm – great as it’s a different and more focused group than Facebook.

Once you’ve determined WHO you are connecting too and the potential of each tool you are using then it’s time to choose a saddle.  What is each tool good for, how often do you need to use it to make and grow good connections?  The answer to this question is probably different for each of you.  But just so I don’t leave you disappointed, here are a few good general tips:

  • With blogging the more you put in, the more you get out.  And more will always be more.  Try to shoot for article release 2-3 times per week.  Make sure you focus that content!
  • Twitter can easily overwhelm you – make sure you use a tool like TweetDeck to monitor your traffic flow.  Turn off notifications and check in at regular intervals 2-3 times per day for a pre-determined period of time until you get the hang of it.  This is truly a “real-time” tool.
  • Facebook can be a major time suck.  Set your blogs to auto populate your pages and check in as often as you need to keep the flow of conversation going with your friends and peers.  Just have the discipline to get out of there too!
  • LinkedIn is a little less interactive – you can set your blogs and your Twitter account to populate your profile pages.  Put in the time upfront to get everything dialed in and perhaps make a plan to research and request connections every few weeks or so.

When FREE is really not FREE
While I advocate using the thrid party tools listed above, it’s important you use them for what they are worth. Be aware that their models could change at any time – you are not in control. In fact, they are changing as we speak. LinkedIn introduced a new advertising model about a month ago, Twitter Places may start serving geo located ads via that network, and Facebook, having served ads from day 1, is continually improving upon their model. These people are in the business of making money, just like you and me.  While you are a very important part of their models, don’t forget you are also really pawns in the big game.  Use them for what they are worth.

The Value of Managing Your Brand
And so finally I’m coming around to the point of this whole article – managing your brand. While third party tools do add value, be smart in utilizing them. It’s becoming more and more obvious these players are in the game to monitize business models, don’t forget you are in the same game.  Should you create a free facebook business fan page or a free blog on WordPress.com – sure, and why not! But beware of the potential these entities have to change up models, start serving ads, pass on your information, or god forbid even shut you down. Not that they will, but they do have the power to do anything they want – they own your platforms and even sometimes the rights to your content.

One way to ensure you are getting the biggest bang for your buck (or your time) is to use a custom blogsite as your foundation for messaging and brand.

The best thing about doing this is that not only do you control your interface and message for all time, but you can also push this message out to all those other social networks automatically. If you have a blog you can ensure that your posts will show up on your Facebook business page, as Tweets in your Twitter account and even on your profile page in Linked in. Once these things are setup, they work on their own. It’s the best of all worlds, working together.

 

 
  If you’re a regular reader here, you’ll know we’re practical in the way we write and serve. We’re concerned with the success of our clients: we don’t recommend quick fix or short term strategies, rather we do our best to share useful experiences and ideas.
 
  Some folks took issue in her comments area, but Debbie Dragon’s post on Daily Blog Tips today was right up our alley – it’s terrific blogging know how!
 
  We small to medium sized businesses want to appeal to as many potential buyers as possible and while consumers all appreciate good information … most are sound bite oriented.
 
  Check out ‘Daily Blog Tips ‘ here: 6 Tips for Writing for Web Readers

blogging and seo ‘California Olive Ranch’ On How Blogging Is Their Lowest Cost Marketing 

In early April 2009 California Olive Ranch VP Sales & Marketing – Claude Weiller launched several online marketing initiatives, including blogging. Weiller had us create two blog channels, one targeting Chefs and the other one Consumers. He then had us campaign to existing prospect databases in search of subscribers. We automated blog posts using an RSS feed into social networks accounts like Facebook & Twitter. We added lead capture capabilities and tended to a series of fundamental search optimization tools as well. And finally, in order to insure an understanding for what was and was not working as well as enable adjustment to further maximize benefits, we developed monthly analysis.

By committing to publish great ‘extra virgin olive oil’ content minimum twice per week ‘California Olive Ranch’ was able to generate average per month page view increases of 72%. In six months time their unique new visitors increased by 384% and back links to the website increased by 646%. Simultaneously, ‘California Olive Ranch’ amassed over 1,400 new blog subscribers.

Here are Claude’s impressions of the first 6 month’s worth of blogging:

Kinetic/Frerecks: “Claude, can you tell us what online advertising you committed to with the recent ‘California Olive Ranch’ campaign?”

California Olive Ranch/Weiller: “Well, we basically tested three activities. Specifically, we did a keyword search campaign focusing on about 250 terms. We also did a banner ad campaign. Finally, we tested a membership sign-up campaign. These spanned a 3-month period and were separate and distinct from our blogging efforts.”

Frerecks: “At 6 months and versus the others, what is your impression of the blogging effort?”

Weiller: “We are extremely pleased. The more appropriate answer is we are thrilled by the results of our business blogging. We were surprised by the month-over-month growth in readership along with the incredible number of back links that we have secured. I would not have predicted the levels we achieved prior to the initiative. It’s just been amazing!”

Frerecks: “Can you talk about how ‘California Olive Ranch’ visibility online has changed?”

Weiller: “Absolutely… in several ways. For instance, our online subscriber rates have grown by 5 X in 6 months. The growth has been steep and continues to grow each month. We are also getting more and more questions from consumers and chefs asking for information about olive oil. For instance, one chef emailed us that he uses our blogs to teach/train his wait staff about olive oil. An instructor at a culinary school in the southeast uses our blogs (in part) as course material and mandatory reading for some of his culinary classes involving olive oil. We’re also getting readers to refer our blogs to other interested parties [chefs referring other chefs], which drives new customers. Probably most important has been our Google and Yahoo search results. After 6 months we are now on page 1 for all targeted organic search terms, which we identified at the beginning of the campaign. And, when looking at the costs versus any other advertising, it cost us next to nothing!”

Frerecks: “So, you have achieved community and/ or interaction with your target audience?”

Weiller:
“It’s been somewhat amazing. We are now back-linked by literally thousands of blogs and websites. We’re getting dozens of email questions every day about olive oil-related topics that people want to learn more about. We’re getting meaningful traffic from Twitter and Facebook, we never thought they would amount to anything. We’re also getting customers from around the country asking us about our product. It’s worth pointing out that our online readership is now in 5 continents and probably 25 countries around the globe!”

Frerecks: “Versus other forms of advertising, has business blogging been cost-effective?”

Weiller: “It’s the lowest cost per impression of anything we do… by a huge margin! It’s remarkably effective on a financial level. We probably spend 1/3 of the levels we spend on other medium than we do on blogging to acquire a new customer. It’s just amazing! It’s also very cost-effective from the standpoint of driving new readership. Blogging allows us to maintain that relationship [via subscription] month over month. We found that blogging attracts very loyal readers, who are engaged with our brand. After 6 months, 97.3% of our subscribers remain subscribers. It eventually drives those readers to buy something on your site, giving us an opportunity to quantify who is reading more than others. Ultimately, we can reward our most loyal readers with things like free shipping or complementary product. That just makes every $1 spent on blogging remarkably cost-effective for us.”


When approached correctly, Business Blogging brings incredible benefits for a business and ‘California Olive Ranch’ certainly proves it. Sure, you need a discipline for publishing quality content, but the potential includes back links, bookmarks, subscriptions, better SERP position, more time on website and sales. 
In 6 months ‘California Olive Ranch’ has not only developed an incredibly active & loyal online community for their brand, but a reliable & cost-effective advertising tool that drives new business!