Monday, July 7, 2008

As Easy As Falling Off A Blog

I received an email last week from an old friend and associate in response to the last issue of InSites (our weekly e-newsletter).  He indicated that they had just started a blog for one of the company's many brands and worried that it might be in the mold of the many B2B blogs that fail to meet expectations.

[Background: I hired Neil into the industry twentysomething years ago, and he is now the head of marketing/public relations for North America's largest manufacturer of lighting equipment. He is by far one of the coolest, smartest and nicest people I've known in this industry.]

Anyway, I figured he was just being humble. But on the heels of this email, I came across a report by Forrester Research that stated: "Business-to-business blogging took a nosedive this year, mainly because returns on corporate blogs haven’t matched investment."

So what is up with that?  Are companies spending too much or just doing a poor job?  Maybe they don't know how to measure results.  I mean really, how hard can it be to create and maintain a blog.

[Blog theme song: I'm more than a bird, I'm more than a plane, More than some pretty face beside a train, It's not easy to be me.]

I remember this conversation I overheard many years ago.  This woman was boasting to her friends that she was a good writer.  After a while she excused herself from the table; in her absence one of the women spoke up: "Good  writer my ass, you can hardly read her handwriting."  And so it goes.

A blog is not a blog is not a blog.  Take this one (mine) for example.  It has a special purpose (kind of like Navin Johnson).  Meanwhile, by buddy Brian Solis at PR 2.0 has  his own objectives.  So the blog strategies we involve are different.  Still, there are general rules that apply across the board.

As Forrester's report points out, “Many b-to-b marketers fail to realize that good blogging style should resemble a coffee shop conversation, not a white paper."  They also recommend combining entertainment with information, and suggest that bloggers hone their online voices by leaving comments on other blogs.  The report also tells corporate bloggers what not to do: "...most of them [b-to-b blogs] are so bad. They read like “tired, warmed-over press releases,” and visitors’ experiences with them are “simply awful.”

So, according to a Forrester survey of 189 companies, 38% rated blogging as “marginal” to their marketing strategies and 15% rated them “irrelevant.”

That's harsh.

[I may be disturbed, but won't you concede, Even Heroes have the right to dream, It's not easy to be me.]

But today brought with it good news.  Proctor & Gamble, you know that little company in the southwest corner of my buckeye state, announced that it is flying 15 (wait for it) mommy bloggers to its world headquarters.

Why, you may ask.  Well for one thing, mommy bloggers do it better online than most businesses. But more important, P&G understands the value of respecting the new gatekeepers. Free flights, tours, dinners, presentations, group discussions, product samples... do the math.

The purpose of the event is for Pampers to have the opportunity to meet and interact with top mommy bloggers face-to-face to enrich their knowledge about Pampers’ dedication to moms and babies around the world.  Kind of makes you feel warm in the diaper, doesn't it?

Freaking geniuses! (BTW, in case you think I am not serious, due to my heavy sarcasm, I am serious; this is an awesome idea.)

So, is the blog on its last leg?  Is P&G's marketing department too well-funded for its own good?  Are B2B bloggers just not making the commitment the way mommy bloggers do?

[I'm only a man in a silly red sheet, Digging for kryptonite on this one way street, Only a man in a funny red sheet, Looking for special things inside of me, It's not easy to be me.]

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