Business Strategy

  1. Focus Your Digital Marketing: From Chaos to Order

    Nearly every day a new app, social network, or technology appears promising to make your job easier and kick your next campaign in to high gear. Thanks to the real-time component of social media, marketers can invest a lot of time and energy in the things that will impress and connect with customers online.

    The function of marketing has evolved significantly as there’s been an explosion new channels – both online and offline – including web, email, social, video, e-commerce, and mobile devices. We build community engagement initiatives, develop content around the objectives of of education and awareness, and hope that we can establish early connections with customers online with the end goal of earning their trust and interest. 

    While new and emerging tools allow us to get closer to our prospects, customers, and fans, the integration of all these digital marketing disciplines can often lead to chaos.

    As our world of marketing has become much more complex, the objectives have ultimately stayed the same and are the connective tissue that brings these tools together into one cohesive strategy.

    Digital Chaos to Order

    Goal-Setting 

    New technology and social marketing present an overwhelming array of options to marketers, who have become disillusioned by the allure of “the next big thing” and the endless array of possibilities. So often we take the view that doing something is at least better than doing nothing–How many times have you heard, “Let’s create an app” without first asking why?

    Specific short and long-term goals are essential to creating your marketing strategy.  Any exercise in marketing planning should begin by exploring your expectations of the plan itself. And it doesn’t have to be complicated! Established goals should center on how well the technology aids brand engagement, and whether it helps users consume your content and products.

    Metrics and ROI

    Of course we want to reach the right audience with the right message to drive a conversion, but too often, we waste valuable resources evaluating every metric we have access to, rather than focusing on the metrics that really matter to our campaign.

    Marketo offers this advice: “To streamline your next campaign, make a list of everything you want to measure. How many items are on your list? 20? 30? More? Look at each metric, and ask yourself: ‘What decision would I make differently if I knew this number?’ If you can‘t come up with a clear answer, it’s not a good metric.”

    Solid marketing metrics should make your decisions significantly easier.  Data is everywhere (and very “big” these days), so we need to become increasingly savvy about the best ways to leverage it. Marketing in the digital world is still all about results.

    Stop Doing What Isn’t Working

    As famed author Mark Twain once said, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.” Stop doing what isn't working

    Sometimes a campaign won’t produce the results you were hoping to see.  The trick is learning to identify when these situations just need a few small tweaks to realign with your goals and when the campaign is going to fail, no matter how much tweaking you do. A willingness to risk failure also requires the confidence and resolve to cut and run.

    While this might be a sore topic for your team’s next planning meeting, you must stop doing things that don’t work.

    There can be lots of reasons why something fails, but resources are finite and the correct distribution of resources to achieve the maximum results is what separates mindless execution from strategic marketing.

    Whether you’re brand new to social marketing and technology or a seasoned digital marketing manager, the integration of all these marketing disciplines can often lead to chaos.  If you find yourself lost in the explosion of new marketing tools, don’t forget the bottom line: Why are you marketing in the first place?

  2. Investing Ideas: Starbucks Customer Feedback Goes Social

    I recently received an email from Starbucks about their five-year-old website: My Starbucks Idea. If you’ve never been to the My Starbucks Idea customer feedback website, it’s a portal where Starbucks steals all of your awesome ideas!

    Just kidding! (But only a little.)

    Good old fashioned suggestion boxes have been around for years, but My Starbucks Idea (MSI) embodies one of the earliest and best efforts to bring the customer feedback experience into social sphere. MSI gives customers a social forum to share ideas for improving their Starbucks experience. And to make the process truly social, other Starbucks aficionados vote for or against the shared ideas.

    Successful ideas have covered everything from food concepts to drive-thru designs, and even those sticks that stop your hot drink from spilling everywhere!

    The most popular ideas are reviewed by Starbucks, and if the ideas are things that Starbucks can implement, they do.

    Since launching in 2008, more than 180,000 ideas have been shared on the website and over 277 of the ideas have been implemented by Starbucks. My favorite concept being rolled out thanks to the ideas shared on the site is the up-and-coming HD video drive-thru.

    The secret to MSI’s success is really no secret at all.

    Brands need the next big (or little) idea. Customers want to be heard. And everyone wants to know, “What’s in it for me?”.

    My Starbucks Idea is mutually beneficial to both Starbucks and their customers. When customers invest a little of their time and brain power in the brand, the brand implements their ideas, and customers feel as though they’ve contributed something important to Starbucks. In theory, this give-and-give model makes for more loyal Starbucks customers and is a great way to keep the company moving forward in the direction that its customers want.

    Explore this infographic highlighting some of the biggest successes launched by MyStarbucksIdea.com, and consider how you can open a genuine dialogue with your customers.

    My Starbucks Idea Success Infographic

    Originally Shared on MyStarbucksIdea.com

     

  3. Year-end Business Planning: A Successful 2013 Begins in 2012

    It’s that time of year again: Budgets. Strategic planning. Goal setting.

    And that blank piece of paper is staring back at you. Where do you begin? What can you do to plan for more business growth in 2013?

    The team at WebSolvers is facing the same situation. Our business has evolved beyond just building fabulous websites for our clients. We are poised to be your #1 agency choice for digitally dominant design, brand, marketing and communications solutions. So, how do we get there?

    Well, it starts with us taking out our C.R.I.B. sheet (downloadable PDF) and creating a plan. The C.R.I.B. sheet is your planning tool to generate more:

    C: Customers
    R: Revenue
    I: Income
    B: Business

    WebSolvers-2013-CRIB-Sheet

    DOWNLOAD NOW


    We thought it would be helpful to share our C.R.I.B. sheet with you. This handy tool is a terrific thought-starter. It’s one part brainstorming guide, one part strategic thinking tool, one part motivator, and one part business-generator.

    Grab a cup of coffee, sit down, use our handy-dandy highlighter and think. You have to start somewhere, so why not start now? If you want a little audible inspiration, we also created a C.R.I.B. Sheet Playlist on Spotify . It contains some of our team’s go-to tunes for when it’s time to be creative.

    At WebSolvers, we are here to help you turn your C.R.I.B. sheet into a plan that finds and wins you more customers. And if you want some help or an outside perspective on your plans for 2013, please feel free to reach out to us!

    One more thing since we’re talking about year-end activities: have you given any thought to your holiday cards, party invitations, donation campaigns, etc? With the holidays right around the corner, it’s a good time to get going on those items. We can help you with that, too.

  4. Is Your Web Site Ready for 2011?

    It’s a scary thought, but 2011 is approximately 90 days away.  So, before you get entirely swept up by trick-or-treaters, pilgrims, and Santa, here are some things to thing about to be sure you hit the ground running in 2011:

    • If your Web site’s design is outdated or stale, consider refreshing your layout or updating photos at the very least.
    • If you are sitting on your client email database and not doing anything with it, make 2011 the year you start an email newsletter or email marketing campaign.
    • Is your site boring or impersonal?  Think about adding a simple video to introduce yourself to customers.
    • Frustrated by your lack of SEO positioning?  Add a links page and designate someone to manage a link-building program.
    • If you are overwhelmed with all that there is to do, think about boiling it all down to a single page Internet Marketing Plan for 2011.

    As usual, we would be glad to help with any of these ideas should you need assistance.  If nothing else, we wanted to get you thinking about 2011 and how to make it your most successful online year yet!

  5. Measuring Web Site Performance: A 3-Step Approach

    Steven Covey is famous for, among other things, encouraging us to “begin with the end in mind.”  The concept, naturally, is to think about what you hope to accomplish from an undertaking before diving in.  Deciding what you want out of a business plan, exercise program, or even a business trip helps to elevate focus on the end goal.  An activity undertaken without a focus or goal runs the risk of being aimless, wandering, or fruitless.

    A Web site project should be no different, but it often is.  Many Web site managers and committees are more interested in starting the production process than they are in conceptualizing it.  It may be that the visual nature of the Web encourages premature emphasis on design–the idea of “looking good” undermines the notion of “doing well.”  Or, perhaps, some tend to avoid creating, refining, and documenting measurable goals and objectives because it introduces accountability later:  if there’s no standard of success, there is no way to fail.

    Whatever the case, it is important that goals, objectives, and metrics are emphasized at the outset of a project. In order for organizations to succeed using the Web, they must clearly define success itself.  They must clearly and closely connect the organization’s Web activities with that of the organization as a whole.   The process for doing so, a simple 3-part exercise, is fairly straight-forward.

    A Web project should begin with a review of the company’s overall business plan, goals, and objectives.  It is advisable that the group concentrates on those objectives, irrespective of the Web site, that the organization is seeking to achieve.  Next, within a document (research tells us that those who write goals down stand a greater chance of success), a Web committee should identify those organizational goals that the Web project will seek to support.  Consider restating the goal for the purpose of the Web project.  For example, if the organization’s goal is to increase market share by 5%, re-purpose the goal for the Web that states the portion of that growth that you hope to achieve online.

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    Three Steps to Identifying Key Web Site Metrics

    Once the organizational objectives are identified and the Web site goals are clarified, the third step is to determine what means will be used to quantify/measure these goals.  These distinctive, specific areas are referred to as Web site outcomes.  Web site outcomes are distinguishable Web site behaviors that can be objectively quantified using Web site analytics, inbound telephone call tracking, and Web site form submissions among others.  An online retailer, for example, may measure the number of Web products sold in a given period.  A professional services marketer, on the other hand, might track the number of position papers that are downloaded by prospects.

    Once this three-step process has been completed by stakeholders, all of the information should be compiled in a simple Web site performance scorecard.  Developing a straight-forward document of this nature can be an effective tool in memorializing the process and key metrics and keeping track of progress as time goes on.

    Producing a document that outlines your goal(s) for a Web project is an important step in pursuing success because it focuses attention on defining success itself.  Completing this process should set Web site projects on a course toward meaningful impact on the organization’s development.    This methodology’s Web site deliverables should not only look attractive, but perform effectively as well.

  6. Creating a Web Site Performance Scorecard

    Aside from having a Web site that is functional and attractive, savvy marketers are also interested in measuring Web site performance relative to business objectives.  This instrument is designed to help marketers identify, specify and measure Web site performance.

    This framework should be particularly useful to professional services firms that wish to identify areas of site performance that are less tangible than those of Web sites that focus on ecommerce transactions, for example.  Some examples are provided to help you get started.  It may take you some time to get started with this tool; the process of establishing Web site goals and identifying correlating Web site outcomes can be an exercise in and of itself.

    Web Site Performance Scorecard

    Web Site Performance Scorecard

  7. Social Media: A Waste of Your Organization’s Time?

    The rise of MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and others is not foreign to most.  Unless you’ve been asleep for the past few years, you know that social networks exist and that people use them.  Heavily.  It hasn’t taken long for public relations professionals to put their arms around the medium (playing both offense and defense) and for marketers to see it as a “free” pipeline to new customers.

    But not all managers and business owners have been so quick to embrace social networking.  Research reports from around the Web reveal that many leaders have yet to jump in with both feet.  And while surveys and data tell the story, it is in conversations with professionals that the story comes alive.  In talking with business owners about using Twitter, some of the reflexive comments they convey include:

    • Twitter is for a younger audience, not me.
    • My daughter is on Facebook, not me.
    • Twitter is a place for celebrities to talk about their day.
    • I don’t care what someone had for breakfast.

    You can’t blame people for reacting to social media opportunities this way.  We typically hear about Twitter in the mass media when, for example, a professional athlete says something he shouldn’t or a celebrity couple breaks up because of it.  It’s hard to get a serious person to take something seriously when it is associated with things that aren’t, well, serious.  As a cumulative result, social media tools get dissed and dismissed.

    But there is a real danger in this for corporations and leaders.  While people are indeed talking about things that do not matter to you, they are also talking (every once in a while) about things that matter to them.  And they’re talking to each other.  Along the way, they are mentioning brands.  They’re mentioning the nice barista at Starbucks, the on-time departure with Jet Blue, and the deal they just scored at the Volkswagen dealership.  And while it might not be your brand today, it might be tomorrow.  And that should matter to you.

    Learning about social media doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to start broadcasting whether you like Cheerios or Wheaties in the morning.  Lifecasting may not be for you.  But it is a big deal to some.

    In the end, there is a spectrum of social media users.  At one end of the spectrum might be the life-casters:  they use Twitter, Facebook, and others several times a day to communicate with friends, post pictures, and, yes, follow celebrities.  On the other end of the spectrum are the real nay-sayers.  Not only do they not participate in social networking, they may even poke fun at those who do.  In the middle of the spectrum might be those that dabble from time-to-time.  Maybe they update their status every once in a while, but mostly they lurk–simply monitoring their friends’ activities for fun or entertainment.

    No matter where you fall on this spectrum, it’s our assertion that no place is the “right” place to be.  You’re not necessarily missing the boat if you’re not a life-caster.  In our view, the only danger is in not acknowledging the spectrum itself.  Dismissing it altogether may result in lost opportunities for you and your organization.

  8. The Linchpin in Web Projects

    Seth Godin’s new book, Linchpin, challenges and encourages readers to be indispensable.  Failing to do so, he states, is to risk having a job that is sent to a cheaper source of labor–either to other people, a machine, or a combination of the two:

    “If we can put it in a manual, we can outsource it.  If we can outsource it, we can get it cheaper.”

    This isn’t necessarily a revolutionary idea, but Seth’s way of explaining is both engaging and encouraging.  As one reads the book and absorbs the ideas, some traditional management concepts jump out at the reader.  Here are a few that many might recognize:

    • Be DifferentHarvard Business School Professor Michael Porter taught us that in his 1996 HBR article in which he boiled the volumes and volumes on the topic of competitive strategy to the very notion of being different.
    • Technology Will EqualizeNew York Times columnist Thomas Friedman led us through this in his book The World Is Flat.  As the technology and connectivity proliferates, the more level the playing field becomes for competition.  The winners will be those that are the most innovative.
    • Keep Teams Small to Minimize Relational Complexity – V.A. Graicunas established the concept of Span of Control in 1933 and developed a formula for quantifying it.  Adding an additional member to a team only increases headcount incrementally but increases the number of relationships (handshakes, as Godin calls them) exponentially.
    • Challenge and Responsibility Motivate Louder Than Dollars – Frederick Herzberg developed the two-factor theory in 1968, now immortalized in a HBR Classic article.  Linchpin employees are motivated more by responsibility than dollars.

    While Linchpin does seem to rely on some management concepts that are not-so-new, his packaging of the content is particularly relevant given today’s economic shifts.  If you listen to his interview with Lee Stranahan about Linchpin, Godin warns us that “we all live in Detroit now.”  This is meant to be a rallying cry to either adapt to the demands of the new economic environment or risk commoditization.

    Much of Seth Godin’s work over the years has had some association with Internet projects.  His work is engaging and inspiring, making him notable and quotable among anyone and everyone who has either launched a Web site or Twitter account  for money.  This has attained him a certain celebrity among both strategists and MLMers alike.

    But there is something deeper underneath the surface that all strategists and Internet professionals can use to launch successful Web projects…a set of take-aways that are both revolutionary and sensible all at once:

    • Your site should be a gift to its users – Why are so many Web sites self-serving?  They should give meaningful content, opportunities, or experiences without an expectation of reciprocation.
    • Put someone in charge – Web committees need a clear leader who is actually on the committee.  Too much confusion here leads to a muddled sense of who is in charge and diluted end-product.
    • Set a launch date and stick to it – A failure to do so could mean a year of unnecessary delay and a lack of of project urgency.  Seth calls this the ability to ‘ship’ the product, which refers to a site launch.
    • Make it authentic – Your site should truly speak to and connect with users.  Authenticity creates a bond with your site’s guests.
    • There is no Map – There is no cookie-cutter system for creating a successful Web venture–no map.  If you feel like you’re internalizing, struggling, and aspiring your way toward a positive end result, you’re probably doing it right.
  9. Google To Fight delicious

    Google will be joining in the social bookmarking arena with Google Shared Stuff in the near future. While the beta has yet to come, it does exist on their web servers completely incomplete or ready for any significant amount of use. As far as I am aware, it was first uncovered by Google Operating System. This could be the next product they launch now that their Powerpoint fighter, Google Presentation, has been integrated with Google Docs. Now if they’d only add some new features to Gmail and bring it out of beta.

  10. Vroom, Vroom… Increasing Traffic Online

    In the spirit of my post-Super Bowl glow (yay Colts!), I came across this blog about Toyota Tundra’s commercials’ “actual demonstration” disclaimer.
    Now, I usually don’t pay too much attention to the ads unless they’re pretty funny but I did in fact see one and thought something along the lines of “Actual demonstration? That’s weird they’d put that there since that would take a lot of work.”
    Turns out I was wrong as well. More interesting to me now is that the end of the video had no compelling call to action to go to toyota.com to see the behind-the-scenes video.
    Well, I went to the site today and the video — although shorter than I expected — is surprisingly interesting. Even though it’s a great idea, I just can’t help but feel that if you were going to spend money on an ad during the pricey Super Bowl timeslots, then there should have been a call to action to push viewers to go online for the video. By using a cross-media reference, the web site’s traffic would have increased as well as audience exposure (to more than just the one truck) without costing any more.
    Though I’m now promoting the video myself, I would be curious to see the ad campaign results in relation to the behind-the-scenes page views and compare the ad’s success vs. how many people will “happen across” this page. It’s not likely I’ll find out, but I’m still curious.

  11. Big changes in the realm of search

    We’ve had a few large products go out the door recently so I’ve finally been able to catch up on many of the things going on in the world of search engines. The major search engines have all been trying to do what they can to get your advertising dollars. I’d like to highlight the biggest things for you.
    Google
    Google has unleashed a few new products that are really cool. 1st off would be Google Calendar which, when combined with GMail, competes head to head with Microsoft’s Outlook. The interface is very slick and it offers a lot of convenience. The latest entry into the battle is Google Notebook. Essentially it’s a way to categorize and organize your research and notes and make it accessible publicly if you wish. The last new tool is a utility called Google Trends. This is more of an extension of Google’s infamous Zeitgeist (which also got a nice makeover) that allows you to search and compare trends for searchers. It’s a great tool for web marketers and SEOs.
    Yahoo
    The biggest news for Yahoo has to be their long overdue redesign for their home page. It’s not 100% live yet however they are letting anyone view it. It’s a great, modern look with lots of integration of their various products and services. The new page fuses AJAX programming seamlessly and makes for a very enjoyable user experience. The other thing Yahoo has done is reawaken the beast known as AlltheWeb. They have brought some very slick AJAX coding to the search engine world which is a refreshing change. The AJAX functionality adds a new dimension to searching through Yahoo’s massive index by giving vertical search suggestions. Even if you prefer another search engine, it is definitely worth the time to take a look at.
    MSN
    Microsoft has been pretty quiet as of late. They are slowly rolling out their online advertising program called adCenter. This will be replacing their current model of using Yahoo’s sponsored listings and help give MSN its own identity. With Microsoft putting a lot of money into the Xbox360, I expect them to invest heavily into MSN in the near future. Amazon recently dumped Yahoo in favor of Windows Live search (which is another great AJAX based web site). Steve Balmer has stated he wants to compete more heavily against Google for the online advertising dollar.

  12. PapaJohns Targets the Tech-Savvy

    I am a Sirius Satellite Radio subscriber and enjoy the commercial-free content when I’m on the road. I heard an ad today for PapaJohn’s Pizza and its online ordering system. The commercial makes mention of the fact that satellite radio subscribers are ‘tech savvy’ (I’m paraphrasing here) and directs them to a special URL to try out the online ordering system (which I wrote about some time ago). Seems like a pretty smart media buy to me. Naturally, those who are early/eager adopters of satellite radio technology are more than likely going to be open to ordering pizza online. I think it’s a very sensible business tactic and would imagine that the conversion rate would be better than that of a parallel effort implemented on terrestrial radio or some other traditional medium.

  13. Shooting for… Reality

    Almost everyone looking for a new Web site wants it to be the latest and greatest, to be better than the competition. But more often than not, the wow factor is not practical and you have to bring them back to reality gently in order to achieve a successful online presence while remaining practical.
    MSN has a great example of a wow factor that is not realistic for this type of media: high-definition videos online.
    Things like bandwidth and filesize are constant concerns for those involved with online media. In this case, high definition filesizes almost triple the standard filesize – resulting in enormous delays during download, a much slower internet speed, and poor quality of video… It would be hard to find a practical reason for using that level of clarity online for most Web sites out there.
    One part of the article that stuck out in my mind was a comment by Josh Martin, an analyst for IDC:

    “Is that story less compelling because it’s not high definition?” Martin said. “I don’t think so.”

    When it comes to the Web, the ability to browse through sites quickly is one of the most compelling reasons to go online. While you should always want to shoot for greatness, it’s more important to accomplish your users’ goals successfully than to overshoot your own.

  14. RSS – Marketers Take Note

    I just read an interesting post from Seth Godin about Google and someone wishing that it didn’t exist. Not sure I really understood his point (still on today’s first cup of coffee).
    But something further in his post made me think a bit. He talks about RSS and how it should be added into sites everywhere. I tend to agree. The promise of RSS is pretty powerful, and not just for headlines. I was on Amazon.com the other day and noticed that I could now subscribe to someone’s personal wish list. Guess I can now be notified when friends or family members add the latest book or DVD to their lists.
    One problem, though, with this trend of “RSSing” everything. I’ve gotten pretty overwhelmed by all of the content. For example, I haven’t opened my newsreader in a few days. When I did so today, I was behind on something like 700 posts. Steve Rubel’s blog, for example, had over 200 posts that I had yet to read. Frankly, I don’t know how anyone keeps up with this guy!
    It occurred to me that RSS needs to ‘deepen.’ Perhaps it already has, but noone’s bothered to tell me. Let me explain what I mean…
    RSS should enable a content creator to prioritize his/her content. For example, Steve’s post that IceRocket has been acquired is probably higher priority than his quick tip about Flickr. Why not allow a content author to prioritize posts (ranging from urgent to trivial). This would allow me, as a reader, to be able to cut to the chase after a long vacation. To some degree content categories allow me to segment my subscriptions, but I’m not sure that most authors (or subscribers) think of it this way.
    I love the move toward more active/dynamic content, but how do we help people to manage the information overload?

  15. Whats old is new again: Google Page Creator

    Google is reaching into the past to gain users. A new lab project called Google Page Creator has come out of hiding recently. It reminds me of how GeoCities and Tripod used to be in the mid to late 90′s except Google has now thrown their best AJAX developers at it to give this an intuitive interface. This looks to be an excellent way for people to create a quick and simple Web page for pictures while on an extended vacation or planning that family reunion.

  16. Connecting with the fans

    Last year I became addicted to The Ultimate Fighter and by association, Ultimate Fighting Championship. I cannot get enough of this competition. The UFC has really turned around from what I remember watching in the late 90’s with Ken Shamrock and Dan “The Beast” Severn. Recently I was trying to get the latest news on the 3rd season of “The Ultimate Fighter” and noticed that the UFC has created individual blogs for many fighters. This is amazing to see. How many NFL teams have created this feature? None that I am aware of. The UFC has always been a grassroots organization with a rabid fan-base and having blogs for fans and fanatics to get the latest news straight from their favorite fighter really brings everything together and creates more excitement.

  17. What can we learn from a Rhino?

    I have a little folder in my desk where I put hard copies of articles that are particularly thoughtful, significant, or otherwise. I usually put about 2 or 3 articles a year in there…quality–not quantity. I’ve got articles from Harvard Business Review (dating back to the 1960s) and BusinessWeek. I have saved articles from espn.com and GQ…and articles from Christian thinkers.
    I’m going to add this one today: The Rhino Principle by Paul Johnson, British historian. It appeared in Forbes this month.

  18. Get paid by Bill Gates

    It seems Bill has an issue with other companies hording their income selfishly so he is proposing something to change that. In his campaign to prove MSN search as the superior search engine, Bill said Microsoft may kick start a new program where you, the user, is paid to use MSN Search. In the current business model, Bill argues, Google keeps a large chunk of its revenues from advertisements. To my knowledge, Google does not publish an exact figure of how much they distribute to publishers of adSense. So would either a check or free software entice you to change your homepage from Google.com or Yahoo.com to MSN.com or Search.MSN.com?

  19. The Death of Newspapers?

    Much has been said about the decline of print newspaper circulation lately. John Spiker has a few interesting thoughts as does David Deans on the growing popularity of newspapers’ online versions.
    Many newspapers are experimenting with various models to monetize the shift from print to electronic. The Palm Beach Post is exploring the use of reporter blogs, seemingly blended with the paper’s existing online ad network (as opposed to Google AdWords). The paper calls the effort “The Blog Squad.” I wonder if this effort will result in an incremental revenue thrust for the paper. Time will tell.

  20. Web Smart 50/BusinessWeek

    When I first started experimenting with Web pages in the mid 1990s, most of the educational literature for business folks was fairly 101 in nature. Most of it was purely philosophical with very little to offer in terms of case studies or any sort of results-oriented framework. Most books, magazines, and commericals (think IBM) were pie-in-the-sky and somewhere-over-the-rainbow wrapped in a big bow. More interestingly, most of the hype centered around marketing and sales (i.e. put a widget online and sell a trillion of them overnight). Along the way, the messages of hard work, strategy, and non-marketing benefits were lost. Times have changed.
    Dear old Dad turned me onto a great article (full text) from BusinessWeek this week. The article is called ‘The Web Smart 50′ and it does a great job of showing how 50 organizations are using the Internet for true business results that are definitive and measurable. A few of my favorites are:

    • Paramount Pictures using a handpicked selection of blogs to promote the film Hustle & Flow
    • Audi’s use of a staged car theft to promote the new A3
    • NYC Comptroller’s office using an online bid system to settle personal injury claims

    I encourage you to take a look at the article and start thinking about how the Web can become a more integral part of your company’s efforts.