Tag: blogs


Why Your Digital Signage Marketing Sucks

Between industry contacts and my deal-with-the-devil press access to trade shows (in return for privileges, all the vendors get my email address), I see a lot of marketing pitches and press releases every day. An awful lot of them are, well, awful.

Or in more polite Canadian terms, sub-optimal.

There are two core problems: old formulas, and scant information.

First, the  formula.

Small companies with limited working capital can’t usually afford to get good marketing help, so they often do it themselves. And the easiest DIY method is copying/adjusting/co-opting some other company’s crappy press release or handout, and making it their own. That is likely why I get endless releases that use terms like world leader or leading global provider. Somebody used that, so Me Too!

It’s also probably why I get formula quotes from executives saying they are pleased, delighted and my favorite, excited, about whatever agreement is being touted as momentous. The execs come off as morons.

There’s a whole,”Well, I guess that’s how these things are done” dynamic at play here among people who are good and sometimes brilliant engineers, but hopeless marketers.

Second, scant information.

It’s not enough to say something has been done or something new exists, but that’s what I often get dropped in front of me for consideration.

A case in point: A company this morning announced a new “no cost” digital signage media player. Ok, that got my attention, so I dug into it. But there was no substance. Three whole paragraphs, and the third was the standard blah-blah stuff about the company. I am in Hour Seven of waiting for answers sent to the company’s email drop.

The release didn’t get coverage here because a series of fundamental questions did not get answered. The thing did get mileage elsewhere, but whoever read that regurgitated as “news” release would also be left with a pile of questions.

Making it worse, and this is very common, there was nothing on the company website related to the release. Truly, nothing.

So here’s the simple remedy, broken down by key elements:

1 – Put yourself in the mindset of the target audience: Figure out what questions they’ll have about the product or service. Then answer them in the piece, proactively.

2 – Structure the message: Get the key information up at the top, so people are intrigued and want to read on. What does this thing or service do, and why should people care? It saves money. It makes something easier. It does something faster. Whatever.

3 – Use quotes that matter: They’re almost all manufactured/invented, so make ones that add to the story. No one cares that a CEO is delighted. Except the CEO. “This has made a remarkable difference to how we do business …” beats the crap out of “We are absolutely delighted to be working with …”

4 – Develop a basic communications plan: Get your ducks in a row for PR day. Your website needs to align with the release, and offer more. A big part of issuing PR is to drive people to your site, and if they show up and can’t find anything more than the press release that sent them there (or not even that), it’s a big missed opportunity. It also screams at people that you don’t have your act together.

You want to pull them to your website to dig deeper, read specs and FAQs. Your sales people also have to be prepped, and your resellers. “I dunno … ” is not the answer you want when somebody rings in wanting to know more.

You don’t need a six or seven figure retainer with a big communications firm to do that. If you can design a content management system or a media playback device, you can plan out an announcement. If you can’t, I don’t want to buy your gear.

5 – Test your message: We all know people. We all have friendlies we trust for an opinion. Ask them to read what you have in mind, and find out if they understand it and got all the information they needed.

6 – Avoid copying: You need a not too long, intriguing headline. You need a useful, equally intriguing opening paragraph. And you need contact information – for someone who’ll actually field calls and emails – at the end. The rest: just think it through for what people will want to know.

7 – Not too long: 500 words is heaps. Really.



Think, write it out, then think again, then think again, and only then click on Publish

I just sent a note off to an unnamed company.

They are unnamed because I like their product and their general approach, and as noted in the past, this blog was not created as some weird writing hall of shame.

Someone, in this case, has been given the keys to the corporate blog, and instead of driving the blog by the cool kids and showing off, the kid with the keys is going up on the sidewalk trying to run the cool kids over.

Not a great idea.

Without going into detail, the company’s blogger is making seriously odd assertions and slapping around the industry as a whole by suggesting pretty much everybody – except his company – has it all wrong.

Well, there’s a slight chance he’s right. But only slight.

His saving grace may be that few people actually read company blogs, because most of those kinds of blogs in this industry have precious little to say other than, “We’re swell!” and “We just released some more stuff that makes us even sweller!!!” These blogs have a role, but are not reliably updated and therefore have no substantive audience.

There are some very notable exceptions to that rule, of course.

A company blog can be a useful mechanism to help existing clients and enlighten potential customers, but’s it’s rare when one bubbles up that’s actually good and not just an exercise in Tarzan chest beating. In this case, the blogger is banging stuff out without, I gather, really thinking through what happens after he posts the piece.

This is a small industry still. Stuff gets around quickly. Twitter can get all kinds of people suddenly reading a post the writer might have thought few would see. The low road is rarely the right road. And your company will be spotted on it. An industry friend note about these guys: “Maybe they should accomplish something before they declare victory.”

As someone writing for your company blog, consider these steps:

Think about what you want to write. Then write it out. Read it again. Think about how the audience will react and what that means. Then think it through some more.

Then, if you are comfy that the benefits outweigh the negatives, hit the Publish button.

If you have any sense your post may stir up some shit you didn’t want stirred, save it as a draft and sleep on it. Even if your blog readership is minuscule, search engines pick up just about everything. So unless you really want to “own” your statements, and are ready to defend them inside and outside your company walls. think carefully about where your opinions might be read, and what goes down as a result.