Monday, January 30, 2006

Blogs for customer support, NOT marketing

Blogs work best in customer support applications--not marketing.

Oh sure, you can have a Vending Machine Blog, a blog that tries to sell various items. In some cases, this has worked. But generally, a blog is not suited for sales, marketing, or hype.

Why? Because blogs have historically been, and continue to be, platforms for textualized talking, or communicating with others in a diary format, and in a decidedly NON-corporate manner and tone.

You think I'm just expressing a biased opinion?

Look at the telephone.

How much product do you buy from telemarketers? Not much, huh? Most people hate it when someone uses a Conversation Tool as a crass, pushy Sales Vehicle.

Now consider the television.

Don't you just love all those commercial interuptions? TV is an entertainment, news, and sports platform. Ads turn us off.

How about the mailbox.

We just crave more junk mail every day, right? Mail is a correspondence vehicle, good for private messages or package delivery of things ordered from a catalog, 800 number, etc.

You cannot take a tool designed for communication, or entertainment, or correspondence...and twist it into a sales, marketing, or promotion gimmick. Yet, that's what a lot of businesses and bloggers are trying to do. Watch most of them fall flat on their faces.

What's the secret to using blogs, then?

As Shel Israel and Robert Scoble explain in Naked Conversations (both the book and the blog), blogs are perfect for establishing candid, honest, transparent conversations with your readers, fans, customers, clients, prospects, and peers.

Blogs are best for warm, human public relations. Not press releases, but genuine, intimate confessions, revelations, mutual interests.

If all you want to say is: "Buy my product."
If all you want to hear is: "Love your product."

Then: please stay the hell away from the blogosphere. We don't want you. We'll flame you until you run off with your tail on fire. We'll make you look idiotic.

You can "sell" or more accurately, "display", your expertise. Your passion for the general field that your product or company inhabits. Your experiences and anecdotes. But *not* your products, in most cases.

If I convince you, through this blog, that I'm a blogology expert, if I discuss many issues related to blogs, then you are more likely to be interested in any products I might have. Some readers may even demand that I publish a book containing my best thoughts and observations, my smartest analysis and funniest anecdotes, about blogging.

You have a business. What industry is it in? Why not blog about that general field?

I am interested in Blogging For Hire. I will blog for a company, but I will not blog about the company. I will blog about my area of expertise, and any company in the field of communicatons technology, that wants to improve customer relations, could benefit from having me do a blog that is associated with their company.

I will not be a Paid Word of Mouth "buzz agent".

That is Consumer Fraud, pretending to like and use a product, because you're paid to. It's a form of lying and it's that Old Economy BS that nobody trusts anymore.

"Chocolate Ovaltine is delicious and healthy...and, to fully disclose, I am paid to say this, but it's true and I do like the taste of it."

Only a fool would believe a Buzz Agent.

How can you use a blog to provide useful advice, information, or even entertainment, to your customers? Think about it and do it.

Before your competitors beat you to it.

[signed] steven edward streight aka vaspers the grate

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