Ideablob is a site where entrepreneurs can submit business ideas for review. The unique aspect is that $10,000 is awarded to the idea that receives the most number of votes by registered users. Each user is allowed only one vote per month and once during the final monthly showdown.
I think this is a good concept to help entrepreneurs, small businesses or desk jockeys kick start their ideas.
Like most social networks now, Ideablob has user profiles. In just a quick spot check of some users; however, most don’t seem to have added much personal info. The info is spotty at best and may improve as more people participate.
This will be key as another aspect of the site is for seasoned business professionals to provide mentoring.
This section lets you “explore” submitted ideas. I like the tag cloud on the side to demonstrate the popularity of industries. Not sure if I understand the use of the pop-up thumbnails as your scroll over. I thought they were descriptions of the industry and realized it brings up a submitted idea. And that helps me because??
Overall, you get a quick look at an idea, how it ranks overall and any comments on the idea. If you’re interested, you just click on the idea to get more info.
Besides changing the pop-up thumbnails over the tag clouds, I think this is fine.
Aspiring entrepreneurs or small business owners can get advice from seasoned professionals by clicking on “advise” in the nav bar. The questions are filtered by different categories. From what I can tell, this section is very sparse – plenty of questions but few responses.
At first, I thought it was because I couldn’t find the responses. I finally realized that the answers were to be listed below the question. The problem is that the “see all answers” and “add an answer” were clickable. I would make these buttons to differentiate this.
There is also a right-hand section to highlight other questions, a question of the day and top advisors. I’m not sure how this helps me.
1. Most popular questions: Questions that have received most number of responses
2. Take a page from LinkedIn: Have the asker rate the responses, which reflect back on the mentors. This way, I would know the value of a mentor’s response as valued by other users.
3. Tag Cloud Categories: The tag cloud would help me to visually see which categories have more questions or are more active.
4. Search for Questions: There is only one search function for the whole site. I would’ve preferred a way to just search the questions.
5. Order of questions: Right now, you see one main question on the category with other category (?) questions on the right hand side. Then you have to click on additional questions across. I think it would have been easier to list 5 or 10 questions down and then I can browse a list and click in to view the answer.
6. Question of the day: I don’t know how a question becomes a question of the day. Problem – no answers to question of the day.
7. Mimic Explore section: I don’t know why the format for Advise is different from Explore, but having the same organization structure across the site would minimize confusion.
I like the concept beyond Ideablob. It fits nicely with Advanta’s business model.
As I mentioned previously I would like to see something that will pull me in deeper on a personal level. A blog, videos of winners, a page of thanks from winners – something that is easily seen or spotlighted on the home page is needed.
Will this site succeed? Probably
Will this site attract people? Probably
The question is, can the site sustain itself and fulfill the promise of promoting entrepreneurship and mentorship? Maybe.
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I felt that Todd Defren of PR Squared raised an interesting question about marketing tactics by the Commotion Group that I decided to post my thoughts here instead of lumping into my weekly articles. Briefly, the Commotion Group posts “fake comments” to videos to create a sense of controversy, while deleting any negative comments.
Frankly, there’s no argument here. Today’s social media values authenticity highly. The Blair Witch Project was a game. Because it was the first to leverage the Internet in an unique marketing campaign (ploy?), people took it as truth. According to Todd’s post, one of the original producers commented:
While we were building out the (Blair Witch) website and the community, we always knew we were walking a line, but we decided we were not going to try and hoax people outright. The regular members of the Blair Witch community … knew it was a work of fiction … We were not trying to fool anyone …
What the Commotion Group is doing is creating a false impression to dupe viewers into believing that the content is something worthwhile viewing. It isn’t.
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The Blog Bubble? – R. Scott Raynovich of Light Reading has an interesting post on Internet Revolution. Raynovich believes that there will be a crash in blogs in terms of how one can make money and continue drawing an audience. If he’s correct, then those blogs that provide truly interesting content and insight will continue to stay above the noise. I think we may also see the rise of more blog-lomerates (blogging conglomerates) list GigaOm, TechCrunch, VentureBeat and others.
What Millennials Don’t Know – Advertising Age highlights ten marketing myths and their implications for marketers. Sorry Mellennials, the world doesn’t revolve around you!
Hallelujah – The Truth About PR “Relationships” – I read a few PR agency blogs and inmedia is one of the best. In a recent post, inmedia highlight the myth about media relationships resulting in media coverage. As the post concludes: Bottom line: The only thing that has any currency in a newsroom, the only thing any journalist cares about, is the news value of the story. Anyone who tells you otherwise doesn’t understand the news business
Marketing In is Better Than Out – Brian Hulligan of HubSpot wrote this interesting post about how company websites can become better “hubs” for industry information. In this way, your prospective customers can better find you on search engines, blogs and social networks.
Spammers Get Sneaky – I had paid scant attention to what seems to be a security hole in WordPress. Wired highlighted a recent sneak attack on Al Gore’s website. I’m assuming this doesn’t impact the freely hosted WordPress, right?
Consumer Stats for Pitching – MediaPost’s Online Spin blog summarized some interesting data points that were published in Time magazine. Great fodder for those 2008 pitches or for those guys prepping for CES already!
More SEO Tips for Press Releases – Lee Odden of Online Marketing Blog has some useful tips for press release optimization. Lee has advice from some of the leading press release wires. Also check out my previous post about how to select keywords for your press release.
Oh My – You Can Be Fired for CARING Too Much – I’ve just started reading Alec Saunders’ blog. Alec usually covers VoIP and VON related issues, but occasionally brings up issues in his native Canada. This recent post about a customer service rep who is concerned about being fired because she spends time with customers. Sorry Sears, you’re getting the “I Hate Customers” award.
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Here is this week’s of interesting articles. You can click on the Weekly Articles tag for previous issues:
Dell Pulling Out All the Stops – According to Now Is Gone, Dell is taking social media/conversation a step further with the launch of Dell Shares – an investment relations related blog. Maybe transparency and conversation is currency for this economy. Hmmm, consider buying some Dell stock.
Digging It – Pro Net Advertising provides some simple tips for creating an interesting digg title. I haven’t tried venturing onto Digg yet, so if you have other helpful hints, let me know. When New Best Practices are Old - CK brings up a good point about a recent B2B marketing best practices report that was just published. From her perspective, these reports merely add to the echo chamber of what is believed to improve a product launch, versus truly unveiling best practices on what is happening around us. She plans to unveil her top ten best practices shortly.
Ninja Tracking Skills – I just started reading Distilled and they’re providing me with some interesting tricks for tracking web traffic. Very nifty indeed. So where’s my num chucks and stars…
What Does Language Say About You? – Lois Kelly posted an interesting article on the IAOC Blog. Lois points out how our writing reflects who we are. She analyzed writing from three different CEO blogs and brought up some interesting points.
Socializing Within the Enterprise - Read/Write Web has an interesting article about the use of social networking within the enterprise. This article raises what tools can/should be used in the enterprise and when. Personally, just more ways to have information overload =)
Brand Consumer for the Fan-sumer - Jeremiah Owyang does a great breakdown on MySpace and Facebook. This raises interesting questions for the brand marketer in each of us.
Search and Ye Will Find – First, congrats to Tom Pick for being named one of the top marketing blogs to watch. His article about how to truly leverage SEM is just an example of his approach to B2B marketing. Congrats again Tom!
Our goal as PR professionals is to determine how our efforts impact the company’s objectives. There are lots of ways that PR is measured with regard to brand building and thought leadership. Since working in-house, I’m getting a glimpse of how PR directly impacts my organization’s sales lead generation initiative and overall sales cycle.
The crude PowerPoint representation (to left)provides a rudimentary look at the sales cycle and how PR fits into this process. This is based partially on my personal PR experience, and some insights drawn from reading MarketingSherpa’s recent report and other sources.
Simply put, there are four steps from identifying sales prospects to closing a sale with this prospect:
- Prospect: This is your target audience. These are the pool of people that you’re trying to reach and educate about your product, service or solutions.
- Lead: This is when you are able to get the contact information from your target audience. This includes completing a contact me form on your website, buying a list of names, dropping a business card at a tradeshow, and other ways.
- Qualified Lead: Even if that person proactively came to your website and requested more information, you want to confirm that the person is truly interested in considering your company. You “qualify” the lead based on what the lead wants to do and if your company can provide what she is looking for.
- Sales: Through all this effort, the ultimate goal is to finalize the sale and secure a signed contract.
There are several ways that PR fits into this process, from building awareness to influencing the sales process. Here is how some PR tactics can be leveraged throughout each phase of the sales cycle:
- Prospects – build and maintain awareness: When preparing to consider a technology solution, prospects research information on the available companies and technologies. Being able to “touch” this prospect through multiple channels is key. Media coverage, research papers, trade show presence, speaking opportunities and blogs are a good way to reach this audience.
- Leads – educate: Once a prospect becomes a lead, education is important to move the prospect to the next stage. Webinars, podcasts, and videos (not the viral type) are ways to educate your leads, while creating a personal connection with your company.
- Qualified Sales Leads – influence peer and industry: A qualified lead is someone who is in the midst of weighing different options. In addition to education, this person will look to peers and industry experts to validate her decision to move forward with you or a competitor. At this stage, social media provides a level of community validation, with customers and analysts providing third party validation for your solutions.
Close Sales – build community: I remember hearing that it’s easier to build business with a happy customer then trying to find new business to replace an unhappy one. Building a community helps you to hear about issues and respond to your customers, while building evangelists for your business.
In the end, each stage builds upon one another. One PR tactic, such as a feature article, may have more influence than another for a sale. However, developing a PR strategy that captures a prospect/lead at multiple points throughout the sales cycle, will have a stronger impact on that company’s business in the long run.
The more I understand PR’s role to drive this process, the better I can identify the channels by which to focus my attention on. And hopefully, identify the metrics that truly matter for underscoring PR’s impact.
Here’s this week of interesting articles. Enjoy!
What’s Your CEO’s Name? Seth Godin brings up a good point about the accessibility or permeability of a CEO to his/her customers. But since we only use the phone line for the fax, I guess I won’t have to worry about telemarketers in the future. Now, how do I get a hold of the Citibank CEO again…
What’s the Story Morning Glory? I’ve been reading Collaborative Thinking from Mike Gotta. He has some interesting thoughts. His most recent post highlights the backstory on products and the relation to corporate responsibility. This highlights how transparency is becoming an important component of every facet of business; thereby, enabling consumers to trust and participate with your brand, company and product.
What are You Doing on November 8? David Meerman Scott posted about this totally free event to hear from some of the best marketing gurus out there. Great way to get leads and phone charges for the sponsor, Conference Calls Unlimited. Heck, I actually remember the article, “A Brand Called You,” when it was first published in Fast Company. Does this date me?
Leave out the Welcome Mat Allen Stern of CenterNetworks did an interesting test of the power of welcome. For those coming from social sites, Allen greeted them with a welcome [site name]. Through his test, he increased the number of subscribers and ad clicks from these visitors. From a PR perspective, this raises some interesting questions in terms of how “social outreach” can have an impact on your client’s/company’s site traffic.
Tweet Tweet – Be Sweet B.L. Ochman writes about some Twitter dos and don’ts. Why do I have a feeling more people will be following in her footsteps? Frankly, I haven’t started this and don’t know if I want to get mired into another time suck! =)
Telling a Story Through Social Media Now Is Gone wrote how they posted a slide show from American Red Cross (I assume this is a client or someone is directly associated with the organization) regarding the recent fires in San Diego. The article highlights some thoughts before jumping into social media – all good PR tips.
So You Want Face Time? I like MarketingSherpa – they provide good, basic insight on how to leverage new tools for marketing and PR. Today’s lesson – how to market yourself and your company on Facebook. Damn, this means I probably have to spend more time on Facebook, which I was trying to avoid from an online reputation perspective.
Shorter Sentences Please I attended an internal seminar that said optimal sentence length was no more than 16 words. (16 words exact!) Mike Volpe of Small Business Hub highlights this for readability of online copy. Now to cut down my paragraph length pitches…
As people who have read my blog, I have a bone to pick with Citibank regarding their email marketing tactics and, in my opinion, poor customer service (see here and here). I still don’t understand how they are voted one of the best.
Mack Collier at The Viral Garden wrote about Dell’s turnaround in the social medium. If only Citibank could follow suit.
Simple ways to provide better service and participate:
Monitor and respond to any posts about Citibank
Respond to snail mail letters with a letter, email or phone call
Provide an unsubscribe service for those who have cancelled accounts (FYI – I was required to change my profile settings to stop the emails which I can’t do since I cancelled my
- Allow your customer service representatives to automatically cancel email notices instead of quoting a 30 day period for stopping correspondence. Obviously, this didn’t work either. Didn’t you know that email is NOT snail mail? An ability to go into a database and delete my email shouldn’t be so complicated.So I’m officially starting my Citibank Watch. How many days before I 1) hear back from Citibank and/or 2) get them to stop sending me useless email messages I can’t unsubscribe from.
Here are the dates:- # of days since my first letter to Citibank: 90 Days
# of days since writing to William R. Rhodes, CEO of Citibank: 29 Days
I’ll try to do an automatic clock. If you know of a simple code that I can add, please send me an email.
Cece Salomon-Lee is director of product marketing for Lanyon Solutions, Inc. and author of PR Meets Marketing, which explores the intersection of public relations, marketing, and social media.
This blog contains Cece's personal opinions and are not representative of her company's.
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