Customers have a lot of different information sources to select from, and a lot of different tools and methods to find and access content. Some people will go directly to a familiar site, others prefer to have content come to them through RSS feeds, and many discover new content sources via referrals from colleagues and search engines. Because many methods are available to users, you must ensure that you’re best positioned to reach as many customers as possible in ways most convenient to them.
To encourage current customers to keep returning to read your content and to reach new customers, you must create many doorways to that content. “Connections,” then, represent the second of my 12 Cs framework for thriving in the digital world …Read Full Article on ClickZ
- Lee Huang, firstname.lastname@example.org -
In part one of “Surviving Your Competitors”, I examined how the new competitive landscape falls into four categories: nimble upstarts, evolving blue chips, citizen journalists and bloggers, and technology disruptors. Some of these rivals aren’t direct competitors. They won’t appear on any formal research report from an industry analyst or measurement service like NetRatings, comScore, or Hitwise, because they aren’t categorized as competitors or aren’t big enough (yet) to be measured. These companies aren’t going head-to-head with you. Instead, they’re going against a segment of your business or revenue model. Some are doing so on purpose, while to others, like technology disruptors and aggregators, you’re just collateral damage.
Each of these companies, then, impacts your business to some degree. When you add up the companies, each of which is taking a bite out of your business, you’re in trouble. Whereas a direct competitor might be like a wrecking ball that’s big and easy for you to see coming, these indirect competitors are like termites. They’re small enough you may not notice them, but there are many of them. Together they can cause as much damage, if not more, than a wrecking ball.
For example, craigslist is a competitor to any publisher with an online classifieds business, although a publisher wouldn’t consider craigslist a direct competitor. Perez Hilton is a competitor to any entertainment publisher and even a source for discovering new music, much more than just a simple gossip blog.
Key people throughout your organization must acknowledge that these new competitors are indeed threats, even though they look different. And your team must respond. The unfortunate reality is that it’s possible, if not probable, that many people in your organization won’t believe you and may dismiss this perspective due to brand arrogance or ignorance. You’ve got to find the key data points or deliver a compelling case study or situation analysis that will resonate with your colleagues to get them to open their eyes. Fact is, if key leaders in your company don’t acknowledge the full competitive landscape, the company will suffer the consequences … Read Full Article on ClickZ
- Lee Huang, email@example.com -
Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.–Michael Corleone in “The Godfather: Part II”
Excellent survival tip, but what do you do if you don’t know who your enemies are?
Learn from Arnold Schwarzenegger. In the classic movie, “Predator,” Schwarzenegger plays Dutch, leader of a team of commandos on a mission in the Central American jungle. His team comprises seasoned professionals ready to defeat any enemy, or so they think.. But they encounter an opponent they’ve never faced before: an extraterrestrial warrior. It can turn invisible, it possesses high-tech weapons, and it hunts them for sport. The commandoes, taken completely by surprise and unable to respond effectively, are killed one by one. Only Dutch survives. Once he realizes he’s never faced an adversary like this before, he quickly and objectively assesses his enemy’s strengths and weaknesses, then adapts his offensive strategy to embrace his environment and ultimately emerges victorious.
OK, clearly I had a film fest over the weekend. As online publishers, though, you’re living in a digital jungle, where it’s a battle for survival. This column, part of a series that discusses the 12 Cs for thriving in a digital world, examines competitors, including predators and hostiles, all of whom you’ve never faced before.
Before you lose more battles to this new competition, you’ve got to get into “Dutch” mode so you survive, nay thrive, in the digital jungle, and don’t get crushed:
- Quickly identify all your new competitors.
- Understand what makes them tick.
- Develop a new arsenal and offensive strategy.
- Jettison legacy anchors that hold you back.
- Respond in kind.
- Lee Huang, firstname.lastname@example.org -
I’ve just written my first article for a new column on “Online Publishing” for ClickZ.
Hope you like it. Also, the info is relevant to all industries, not just publishing and media.
The 12Cs for Thriving in the Digital Age
Twelve actionable ideas to grow audience, monetize digital assets,and improve digital operations.
As an online publisher, your day might go like this:
You wake up in the morning, pumped up and optimistic about this new digital world we live in and all the great opportunities it offers. You think about how you’ll seize upon the promise of it all, engaging your customers in new ways; establishing deep, meaningful relationships with them; expanding your audience via community and viral campaigns; creating new user experiences that are compelling and differentiated from the competition; and ultimately hearing the virtual cash register cha-ching as you capitalize on the new digital revenue streams.
But by midday, reality sets in. You shake your head, feeling overwhelmed and somewhat scared about needing to deliver on the hype and promises you’ve made and keeping your online business in business. You secretly wonder if your company has what it takes to survive in a marketplace comprising an increasing number of competitors whom you’ve never heard of and who don’t behave like you. You need to develop new content strategies that require things like metadata, taxonomies, entities, and relevance. Emerging technologies are way over your head; and you must consider new distribution and marketing options, like SEO (define), RSS, widgets, and social bookmarking. And let’s not forgot all the organizational challenges you face with insufficient resources, lack of new media skills, and legacy organizational structures.
Plus, the rules of the game have been thrown out the window, and new rules are being created every day, often by your competitors and disruptive technologies.
To survive, nay, thrive in this digital world, you must have a digital strategy that integrates the key disciplines (i.e., content, marketing, technology, sales, business development, research, etc.) as well as a deep understanding of the details and how to execute them. You’ve got to be completely customer-centric and deliver a value proposition that’s meaningful and embraced by your audience. You must welcome the new and experiment, but go in with eyes wide open. Invest in new technologies and new skills. Too often companies still work in silos, but with a cohesive strategy you’ll be able to create a unique, compelling, and desirable Web experience for your audience and provide your advertisers and sponsors with highly targeted ad opportunities… Read Full Article on ClickZ
- Lee Huang, email@example.com -
There’s already been a lot written about the massive backlash against Facebook’s new ad program so I don’t want to rehash it. I should add that there are some positive developments today as The NY Times and Charlene Li are reporting that Facebook is making changes that are steps in the right direction.
- “Late yesterday the company (Facebook) made an important change, saying that it would not send messages about users’ Internet activities without getting explicit approval each time.”
Rather than just criticize Facebook, I’d like to take a look at the advertisers who are in the Beacon program because it takes two to tango. Many of those advertisers who participated in the Beacon program have damaged their brand because of the “opt-in/opt-out” controversy. Some key questions from an Internet Strategist’s perspective are “what due diligence did they do on the program before jumping on board”, “what analysis did they do from the customer’s perspective (where was the customer advocate ?)”, “how did they assess risk/reward of participation,“ and “who at the company green-lit the initiative.”
Many advertisers jumped on the opportunity to get in on the groundfloor of the “Facebook announcement” and to ride the wave of free publicity by being mentioned in all the press releases and news articles. Makes sense from a macro marketing perspective, but if they had a “customer advocate” who analyzed customer behavior/needs and privacy issues, they would have quickly realized that Beacon would most likely have a negative impact on customer online experiences and that privacy groups would have a field-day. All this, unfortunately, has resulted in damage to some brands and given them some black eyes. There is always a risk/reward to consider, but this was a big risk.
The key to a brand is trust, and participation in this program has damaged the trust that consumers have with some of the participating brands.
In several of the articles that I’ve read, Overstock is mentioned as an example of a Beacon participant that has been the source of a lot of unhappiness for customers. For example, a customer bought a Christmas gift for someone and the recipient was immediately notified via alerts and the surprise was ruined.
NOTE: I do want to give Overstock kudos as they’ve quickly realized their mistake and today’s NY Times article reports:
- “Overstock.com has decided to stop running Facebook’s Beacon program on its site until it becomes an opt-in program.”
I don’t mean to single out Overstock, but all Beacon participants should have thought more about their customer needs and properly balanced it with the marketing opportunity and riding on Facebook’s PR coattails.
Obviously, the impact on the brand varies. For a person who’s Christmas surprise was ruined by Beacon, they may never go back to that brand and will probably share their negative experience of “ruined holiday, lack of privacy” with all their friends and contacts. In other situations, the brand may just be impacted for the short-term. Either way, since there is so much competition and alternative options online, brands (whether e-commerce site, content publishers etc.) can ill afford to risk alienating customers and getting bad virile press.
When making key decisions, it’s critical that Internet strategists look at all aspects (customer needs, marketing/ad opportunity, monetization, ROI, partner trustworthiness, technology, privacy etc) of a “potential solution or program” holistically, in order to properly evaluate the risk/reward and ultimately make the right decision.