Monday, July 14, 2008

O'Reilly Media and Web 2.0

When it comes to Web 2.0, there is a name that walks hand-in-hand with this concept: O’Reilly Media. Originally formed in 1978 as a technical writing consultancy, O’Reilly Media has grown to one of the most prominent technical information publishing companies, providing books, magazines, online services, and conferences focusing on innovations and developments in technology. The animal woodcuts featured on their books have become a hallmark of one of the most reliable resources on electronic expertise and technological trends.

O’Reilly is the birthplace of the term Web 2.0; founder Tim O'Reilly gave the name and definition to this nebulous concept in a 2005 conference. To check out the conclusions and findings of this summit, visit What Is Web 2.0 on O'Reily's site.

Knowing how the Web 2.0 label started is a good starting point for understanding how to use the technology today. In the Web 1.0 days, it was enough if your company's website declared your its presence to the world. Soon that was not enough - your site had to provide interaction for customers as part customer retention. Now, with Web 2.0 your site must do more - be an influence source on other sites, engage your customers, and help customers attract other customers to you. Can a mere website bear the weight of this responsibility?

To close the circle, refer back again to O'Reilly. Their technical manuals are industry standard for determining how to implement and create sites that can meet the demands of the Web 2.0 era. If you're having trouble with some new fangled website feature, they have the resources to help - from Podcasting Hacks to Wikipedia: The Missing Manual they'll have you covered.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Whirlpool as a solution provider

Despite its long association in the consumer's mind with big white appliances, Whirlpool has been producing a wide variety of products that can be found in just about every room of one’s home and in many colors. However, one of the most interesting features the company now offers is its series of podcasts. One might assume that any podcasts found on the Whirlpool website would inform a consumer how to get their whites whiter with their washing machines or why they really need a water filtration system, but they would be pleasantly surprised to find a variety of features meant to provide solutions information for many family household problems.

The American Family audio podcasts focus on the many issues of raising a family, how to play with your toddler, what your child’s handwriting means, and how to keep your home organized as examples. Because of this socially conscious and innovative effort, we’re highlighting Whirlpool's efforts - check out The American Family at Whirlpool.com.

When it comes to podcasting, the possibilities are endless for both providing information and learning something new. This kind of podcast positions Whirlpool with the customer as a well informed source for household information, reinforcing Whirlpool's market position as a respected manufacturer of home appliances. It also positions Whirlpool as a trusted purveyor of solutions to household problems, rather than a mere peddler of hard goods. Think about how this might apply to your product - can you broaden the appeal by explaining how your product solves a common problem?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Building a Blog: TheWholeWheat.com

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Guest Speaker: Kathy Wheat author/blogger of www.thewholewheat.com.

Kathy focuses on database marketing & consulting professionally, but her passion is for cooking! Kathy created the website www.thewholewheat.com where she shares her passion for healthy & local eating. The website focuses on fresh recipes and tries to demystify the concept that healthy cooking is too hard and too time consuming to enjoy. She often explores aspects of local & sustainable eating and how we can all easily incorporate these basics into daily life.

Kathy's blog is well read (check out her rating on technorati) and influential for hobbyist cooks. Product marketers, take note: her Broken blender replacement saga will inform a potential customer or two for a long time about the merits of Blendtec vs. Vitamix blenders. She's got a call out there to one of the darling sites of the blogosphere, willitblend.com, which went viral to great acclaim. If you were considering buying a new blender, and found this while you were looking for information, what would you decide? If you're a product marketer and are on the fence about whether you should be blogging or not, think for a moment about the power of a product experience testimonial like Kathy's.

In the last quarter of 2007 Kathy was picked up for sponsorship by Food Buzz as a "Featured Publisher." Food Buzz is working to create the premier network of foodies - whether you just like to eat or like to blog about eating - there is something for you.

Additionally at the end of 2007 Kathy published her first cookbook. Its primarily vegetarian but helps to demystify unfamiliar vegetables and shares ideas on how to eat them. She looks forward to creating future cookbooks and continuing her passion for food!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Mahdlo & Associates launches blog to compliment podcasts

Technology increasingly shapes the way we conduct business, communicate, and organize our lives, information on these new innovations and the opportunities that they create is vital. The advent of Web 2.0 is allowing consumers to take charge of product information rather than that being solely the domain of the corporate MarComm department.

Consider, for example, the information available on the Moto Q on Wikipedia vs. what is available on the Motorola corporate site. With consumers choosing not only what goods and services to buy, but also educating themselves and one another on those products and services beforehand, companies need to be tech-savvy to keep up with their tech-savvy target markets.

This blog is dedicated to the growing technology movement within the marketing industry. We'll focus on new ideas, what they mean for the market, and how consumers are responding. We also want to highlight profiles of forward-thinking businesses and inventive ways in which they are approaching changes in the computer age.

Given the arena in which we wish to educate and engage our readers, discussing the blog is a good place to start. What is a blog? And what are some of its uses?

First of all, the term blog is a contraction of “web log”, referring to the format of the site. Blogs are similar to diaries, or logs, in that the blog material is posted in an entry-by-entry format. Each entry is typically dated, and most blogging websites automatically post the articles in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recently dated entry. There are even microblogs, such as those hosted by twitter.com, where the blogger posts every hour or even every few minutes!

Blogs can cover anything and be published by anyone. Examples abound of travel documentaries, hobby pursuits, professional articles or even the most trivial interests. Companies may host blogs featuring new developments and responding to references in the media. Some ambitious bloggers, such as Darren Rowse of ProBlogger.net use their blog to generate an income, largely from ad placements on their blog. There are no limits when it comes to blogging, it’s all about the blogger sharing their voice.

One of the great aspects of blogging is the amount of freedom the blogger is allowed. Most blogging host sites, such as Blogger or WordPress, offer a great deal of extra features. For example, you can upload and post videos, podcasts, and images from your own personal files. When it comes to posting with internet resources the possibilities are even vaster. RSS feeds, YouTube posts, streaming news feeds, and links can all be installed in your blog in a matter of minutes. You can even poll your readers on any issue you choose, from their thoughts on your articles to whether or not the Bears will win the Superbowl. For as easy as blogs are to use though, proceed with caution: the wonderful strengths of blog-style communication can be overwhelming for the new blogger.

Remember two guiding principles for ease-of-use. First, what you write in a blog can be read worldwide, in moments. Make sure that what you post to a blog is ready for the public when you post it. Second, responses will come in, and need to be vetted and answered professionally - routed to customer service or responded to in kind.

Commentary is a very enlightening aspect of blogging. With most blogs you can invite your readers to comment on any material you post, which can be an interesting exercise in eliciting constructive (and sometimes non-constructive) criticism. Most importantly, you get to hear another point of view, the kind of communication that the World Wide Web is all about.

With many people getting their news and information from the internet, blogs are an important resource if you have something to say, and even more important if you want that something heard.

The fact is, the blogosphere - that community of authors who publish their thoughts via blogs - is growing and is increasingly a factor for marketers to consider in determining how to position their product in the market. You're either in the mix or left behind at this point. No matter what product or service you offer, it is being talked about.

However, if you want something to be seen, then podcasting is worth looking into. Visit us next week to learn about podcasts and their many uses.