Name: Rhona

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/rhonabronson

Personal Blog: http://www.themarketingplaza.com

Bio: Rhona Bronson started down the social media path in 2006 with her blog www.TheParentRap.net and there’s been no turning back. “It opens you up to the world of possibilities,” she notes. She has helped dozens of executives enter into the social media world as part of their marketing growth plans. Her background spans both the B:B and B:C world with experience in publishing, printing, consulting, association, small business and corporate marketing and communications. She came to marketing from the communications side, starting with training in journalism from Syracuse University. With experience in all marketing genres — from Twitter to Transit Advertising — she brings a broad toolkit of skills to any marketing project. Her ability to integrate clear writing with creativity has made her a sought-after expert in developing results-oriented marketing programs for today’s challenging times. Today, she leads the Plaza Consulting Group as its Marketing Strategist specializing in integrating social media into business marketing plans.

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    Marketing Insight: Sticky Blogs will Market Themselves

    April 18th, 2010

    Have you ever read a one-page fiction story in a women’s magazine? It’s a short-short-story form that has its own cadence and style. In some writing circles, the genre is called Sudden Fiction. Basically, in an amazing 1,000 words or less, the authors give you the story line, make you care about the characters, and leave you with a satisfying ending.

    It’s a good model for blog writing, but has lessons for blog marketing as well. For more marketing insights on memorable writing, check out the book Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath. The brothers have just released their newest book Switch, but it’s as good a time as any to go back and review their first foray into the business bestseller list.

    Made to Stick explores how to make stories, facts, and ideas memorable or “Sticky” as we like to say in the marketing world. Coming out of the education field, they discuss the art of compelling story-telling, and how stories, rather than facts and figures, win the day in the recall game.

    In advertising, we measure effectiveness by recall. In marketing, we measure brand loyalty by its magnetism – ability to draw consumers back to the product service time and time again.  My more memorable definition of marketing is posted on The Marketing Plaza blog.  In it, I introduce the three A’s of marketing, which all also apply to blogging — motivating Audience, Action or Attention. Your blog post should have at least one of the A’s as a key goal.

    When creating, writing, or marketing your blog, check your story-telling quotient and it’s Affiliation with one of the three A’s.
    • Does your blog name make your story obvious? Does it draw in an obvious audience, i.e. dog owners with allergic dogs?
    • Does your blog post tell a story, or just detail facts, figures and opinions? Does it keep your attention, or inspire you to come back for more?
    • Does your marketing of your blog tell a story? For instance, does your Twitter post have a tease about your blog, or is it just a reiteration of a fact, figure or opinion?  Does it inspire action in terms of a click through?

    We are not all born storytellers. Neither are we all born bloggers, or marketing mavens. But ,it doesn’t take much to read a story of sudden fiction, or to listen to Made to Stick while walking the dog. Here’s my blog marketing insight for this week: Do both. You’ll be a better blogger, marketing person, and storyteller if you do.  And that’s a skill that’s never goes out of style.

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    Flogging: A Secret Blog Marketing Insight

    April 4th, 2010

    Great CEOs know they need help getting the word out. It’s why they frequently hire a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), have a dedicated marketing department, hire an outside ad agency, PR consultant, or all of the above. It’s also the reason many now consider ghost blogging assistance, now known by the unflattering term of flogging.

    The “f” implies Fake for Fake Blogging. In truth, it’s simply ghost blogging – when someone writes a blog for someone else. Ethical? Practical? Smart Marketing? You decide.

    My take is that it depends on the situation. If blogging is not a means of personal expression, then it’s either a revenue resource or a marketing tool. As a marketing tool, I can easily argue it requires a marketing mind and potentially paid marketing professionals to help the blog sing (or work to the company’s best advantage).

    Ghost writing is an age-old profession that includes great well-known writers as in “as told to” stories, and many never known writers who have successfully maintained their CIA undercover status and are simply happy to cash client checks while remaining anonymous. Other bloggers are those who have adopted their own split personalities to either:
    • Have the freedom of a second voice (such as presenting political ideas that may not match an employers)
    • Do market research to test if a new voice or concept will resonate with a public.
    • Create a second persona as in Men with Pens (written by a woman). The author claims she only got paid when, like George Eliot, she pretended to be a he.

    In a recent panel discussion, the moderator asked the question if Flogging was ethical? Since social media is built on authenticity, it was easy to say “no,” but I deferred to reality. “I make a good portion of my living off flogging,” I noted. Hopefully, I’m correctly representing the by-lined voice, and helping them market their bona fide expertise.

    If you are considering marketing your firm, a blog may be a great marketing tool. It might be an even stronger marketing tool if it’s included as part of your marketing plan, so you’re clear what voice and goals it needs to adopt and address. And, as with other portions of your marketing plan, it may be best implemented by your internal marketing department or agency. Call them floggers, if you will. I’ll call them your professional marketing team.

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    Marketing Insights on How to Promote a Blog

    March 23rd, 2010

    Almost every discussion about blogging eventually comes down to the question: “Do you have any marketing insight that will help me promote my blog?” The flip answer is” “Why do you want to?”

    Do you want to:
    a)   gain more readers
    b)   gain more business
    c)    gain more business exposure through restaurant marketing
    d)   gain credibility for my business
    e)   gain more revenue
    f)     none of the above, just want to express myself
    g)   all of the above, I want to express myself and become famous in the process
    h)   all of the above, I’m not blogging for my health?

    Only after you’ve answered the question can we begin to discuss the last “P” in the 5P marketing formula of Product, Place, Price, People and Promotion.  We discussed each in previous blogs and saved the best for last – Promotion.

    Promotion is a horrible term that frequently gets confused with a marketing when, in fact, it is one component of marketing. If you believe in the 5 P’s, it’s one-fifth of the formula.  However, the 5 P’s are flawed, and promotion is more like 1/10th or 1/100th of a marketing equation.

    In an earlier post, The R’s of Blog Marketing, I discussed how blogs help you market your business or ideas. But now, the time has come to discuss how to market your blog as if the blog, itself, is a product.

    To keep this discussion simple, let’s define promotion as “getting the word out.”  For promoting a blog, use every means at your disposal for “getting the word out.” Here are just 10 quick tips.

    • Blog marketing insight 1: If you’re giving a speech, reference your blog somewhere in the talk.  At the end of the speech, have info on how to contact you and get to the blog.
    • Blog marketing insight 2: If you’re sending an e-mail, make sure your blog url is in every signature.
    • Blog marketing insight 3: If you have a web site, make sure the blog feeds into the site, has its own landing page, or at least have a link back to the blog on your home page.
    • Blog marketing insight 4: If you have a brochure, make sure the blog is listed. Perhaps instead of FAQs, list top questions answered or issues addressed in my blog.
    • Blog marketing insight 5: If you have an area of expertise, write a column for the local paper and reference the blog as part of your credentials.
    • Blog marketing insight 6: If you follow other blogs or web sites, comment and occasionally (not always) reference your blog.
    • Blog marketing insight 7: If you’re on LinkedIn, make sure your blog updates automatically to your profile.
    • Blog marketing insight 8: If you have an ad, make sure the blog url is listed along with your phone number and web url.
    • Blog marketing insight 9: If you have an away message on your phone, thank people for calling and while they’re waiting to hear back from you encourage them to check out your blog.
    • Blog marketing insight 10: If you have a great blog post, make a pdf of it and e-mail to interested prospects, or potential employers to show your thoughtfulness (Please proof the blog and use spell check first).
    • Blog marketing insight 11: If you have a business card, put the blog under your web site, or on the back of the card.
    • Blog marketing insight 12: If you have a store, put a sign by the register.

    Just as promotion is 1/100th of marketing, these insights are just the tip of the iceberg.  There is no wrong way to “get the word out.”  With deference to the pop-culture book “The Secret,” the key to blog marketing is to not keep it a secret.  Scream about it from the rooftops.  Mention it in conversations.  Live and breath your blog and just like  a plant that is watered and allowed sun – it will grow.

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    Blog Marketing – Is your blog a product?

    February 21st, 2010

    Is the blog your product, or is the product you?

    It’s not an obvious question and one that goes to the heart of whether you need to market your blog (it’s your product) or the blog is a marketing vehicle for everything else you do (the product is you).

    A blog is a unique communications medium because it is effectively being used both ways.  When asked “how do I market my blog,” I know the person is looking at the blog as a product simply wondering how to monetize it and have more people read and comment on it.  They may not be looking at its other, potentially more powerful rasion d’etre, to present the author as an expert, trend-setter, or thought leader.

    In many small businesses, the business is the owner, principal or chief.  The company carries the owner’s name followed by Group, Associates, or some other word that implies a bigger organization, but the essence of the company remains the owner.  The product or service provided is the principal’s abilities and expertise.

    When the company or product is the owner, it’s a perfect scenario for a blog to help promote the key offering as well – you. It’s the company forum for showing exactly why the principal is special, what he or she has to say, and demonstrate his or her level of expertise. Done correctly, it offers value by sharing the person’s knowledge and is a subtle but substantial marketing mechanism, both in SEO listings and as proof of performance especially as a followup to a sales call.

    In review of the 5 P’s of marketing and how they may apply to blogging, we’ve already reviewed Price, Place, and People.  This post is a quick review of Product and what it may mean relative to blogging in the digital age.

    A blog, alone, is rarely if ever a product.  More accurately, it’s a by-product, or sometimes a test product. As a test product, it’s effectively used to test the popularity of concept, or the appeal of a book idea before a chapter gets fleshed out into a full narrative.  As a by-product, it’s providing snippets as well, but as a teaser to entice a reader back to o book, web site, or form to order a product or service.

    Teasers are a classic marketing tool.  The blog is a natural extension of that in the digital age.  So how do you market your blog?  A better question is: how does your blog market you?

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    Spread the Love of Blogging

    February 14th, 2010

    With apologies to Forrest Gump – Blogging is like a box of chocolates.  The best blogs are like a heart shaped box of varietal chocolates with each post holding a special sweet nugget inside.  And just like a great big valentines box, not very post comes with a map. You have to take a bite and see if the first taste entices you to finish the entire piece.

    Yes, it’s Valentine’s Day, and I can’t let the day go by without a post about spreading the love of blogging.  As with any writing done outside of the workplace, blogging is a labor of love.  As with any great relationship, it requires ongoing commitment, has its ups and downs, and days of woe. And yet, if you can see your way through the tough times when inspiration wanes and there just doesn’t seem enough time in a day to spend even one minute doing this crazy non-paying endeavor, then the rewards do come.

    The rewards are almost zen-like in savoring the moment, living for the present and taking it one blog post at a time.  You can’t force a blog. It has to come.  It’s like love. You can want it badly, but you generally have to put yourself out there to meet the right person.  A blog is a way of presenting yourself  on a regular basis, and even though it may not introduce to you to Mr. or Mrs. Right, it will help you get to know yourself better, meet some other interesting people, and encounter some thought-provoking ideas along the way.

    Like true love, a blog has to have some chemistry.  It could be in the form of humor, perspective, empathy, or as expression of joy or sorrow.  But regardless of tone, it must resonate with truth, and heart-felt caring about the topic at hand.

    Yes, a blog is like a Valentine.  It’s my honor to be scheduled to post on Valentine’s Day.  I had another topic chosen for this week, but as noted… blogs have a life of their own.  If you listen to your inner blog voice, it will  tell you know what needs to be written and when.  Today, no other post would do except to address the love of blogging.

    What do you love about it?  How has it made you see life differently?  Spread the love.  Let us know.

    With love to and appreciation for all readers,

    Yours truly — Rhona

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    The Brice is Right

    February 7th, 2010

    People Who Like People…. Are the luckiest People in the world.  Are you singing yet?  Put Barbra on in the background, because just like everything old is new again, to understand how to build a blog audience, it only takes a little reconnection Fanny Brice style.

    What do I mean by that?  Well, if you’ve got a blog looking for an audience, you’re already in trouble.  In fact, what you need is an audience looking for a blog, just as Ziegfield had an audience looking for a good show, long before he ever booked his top talent.

    The People Factor

    Last week, I started reviewing the 5 P’s of Marketing and their relevance in the blogosphere with Price and Place.  The truth is that the P’s are somewhat outdated, but the ideas behind them are not.  Take the P that stands for People.  People, fortunately, are never outdated.  They just change where they are and what they want. A marketer’s job is to figure it out and give them – just as the great showman of yesteryear would have – what they want.

    In the blogosphere, or new realms of social media, we don’t talk about People anymore – just relationships.  But guess what?  Relationships are about people!  But the fallacy of social media is the myth that you can start a blog as lonely person and suddenly develop these budding relationships around the world. That, my friends, is the thinking of a social stalker, not a social media marketer.

    Yes, it’s true, along the way, you’ll meet some new people, friend some names behind faces you’ve never seen, and become familiar with new names you didn’t know before.  But, just as any Facebook mom (my new name for Soccer moms) knows — social media friends start with real ones.

    The Popularity Contest

     

    If you check out the people on LinkedIn with hundreds of friends, one of a few things tend to be true:

    • They are LIONS, or a new term for social slut.  They have announced to the world that they are a free friend with no strings attached to anyone who cares to link up. LION stands for LinkedIn Open Network and is an Open House invitation for anyone to join the party. You know the old Grocho Marx routine about the club that lets just about anyone in?  Well, this is it.
    • They genuinely have hundreds of friends.  The odds are, if you dig deep enough, they have been on a board or two in their lifetime, and agreed to affiliate with anyone who is a member of their association.  The key here is that they first went out into the world and joined something, did something, and contributed.
    • They genuinely have thousands of followers. These people are basically famous. Again, they’ve done something, contributed something and physically put themselves out there before they attempted to link up with the world.

    People First, Audience Second

     

    It’s the rare bird that goes on the blogosphere and gains audience without first having created a following or network first – in the real world. Seth Godin just has to sneeze now and the world will provide a handkerchief, but it wasn’t always that way. He first had to write a book and do speeches.

    Ironically, book publishers are going the other way, as demonstrated by a presentation done by Shiv Singh on SlideShare.  Singh, author of Social Media Marketing for Dummies, notes that book publishers want you to prove you have an audience before you ask them to publish a book for you.  And, he notes, your proof of an audience is, in some cases, having a popular blog.

    But, how do you first build that blog audience?  It starts the old fashioned way – one person at a time.  The most successful bloggers I will argue (without any research to back me up) are those who start blogging after they have a following. They announce to their fans that they will be in cyberspace, they let everyone who is already attached to them talk about them.  They basically, like Fanny Brice, work the room.

    The moral of the story – never stop talking about your blog to anyone and everyone who is even mildly interested in you as a person.  Here’s just a few ideas:

    • In a casual conversation, say “as I wrote in my blog…”
    • Write about people in your blog (perhaps not by name) and then send the post to them to show them how you’ve been inspired by them
    • Ask people to review your blog to give you feedback
    • Give a speech about your blog topic and make sure to reference your blog
    • Agree to write a column for an association or group newsletter, and if not in the body copy then in your bio line, mention the blog

    People who are interested in who you are, or what you have to say will read your blog.  Others may find you through SEO and other search techniques, but your core audience – the fans that every rock star counts on to show up for a concert – will be those people who have some sort of relationship with you before you ever enter the blogosphere. I’m willing to bet the house on it.

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