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Posts from April 2008

April 30, 2008

I Want My Milliseconds! Make Your Online Forms More User-Friendly

More often that not these days, when I am completing an online form with my mailing or contact information, the "Country" drop-down menu seems to think I live in Cambodia.  It's the first country that pre-populates the field when I type in "C" and the next country on the list after Burundi.

In this case, simple alphabetical listings decrease usability.

Fortunately, there are several ways to increase the usability of online forms:  (Confidential to marketers: this may seem a little geeky, but your friends in web development will be impressed when you come armed with practical solutions and not just hand-wringing and shouting "make it better".  Trust me.)

(1) Sophisticated sites know their customer base and they will pre-sort their dropdown menus to include, for example, the USA and Canada, at the top of the list.  Really easy to do.  Below is an example from the Globe and Mail - they know their customers!


(2) IP Location software can pre-populate forms for customers who have basic, visible data points. Take the simple example of a user login from Canada. Certain dropdown information such as country of origin, postal code, IP and domain name can be identified and pre-loaded in to the fields using tools such as IP2Location.


(3) AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML), is a group of inter-related web development techniques used for creating interactive web applications. AJAX lets web data load "behind the scenes" from a customer's perspective. This increases the web page's interactivity, speed, functionality and usability.  One example which addresses the "Cambodian" problem: type recognition.  Type recognitions allows real-time intelligent interaction with a database. So, a customer would be able to type "CAN…" to get "Canada" rather than have to scroll through Cambodia, Cameroon or Cape Verde.

For more info on AJAX and how it can save your customer time, check out this video from MarketingProfs on Simplifying AJAX for Marketers.  It's an American example, but you get the idea.

So by making some tweaks to your online forms, milliseconds of time are saved for the customer.  I need my milliseconds and so do your customers!

What are your pet peeves about online forms?  Share them here!

April 29, 2008

Are YOU a WOM genius? Prove it and strut your stuff at "From Mass to Grass"!

There is no more potent force to shaping consumer attitudes and changing customer behavior than word of mouth marketing.  And often, the most effective tactics associated with great WOM campaigns are some of the least expensive.  Which is why WOM is an ideal approach for organizations with smaller budgets such as non-profits and small business.

We want to make sure that non-profits and small businesses get the lowdown on how to conduct effective WOM campaigns.  To that end, the CMA and One Degree are offering one small business, one non-profit and one WOM rock star a chance at glory as well as an opportunity to soak up the best of the best in Word of Mouth marketing. 

For non-profits and small business, here's how it works:

Tell us why your favourite non-profit OR your favourite small business is the ideal candidate for a WOM campaign.  Maybe you have a great tactic in mind.  Or perhaps your core activist audience are some of the most enthusiastic influencers on Facebook.  Or maybe your product is so fantastic that as soon as just a few people know about it, it will sell out faster than a Cabbage Patch Doll at Christmas.

And we want you to pitch us via a blog post.

So, bloggers, partner with your fav non-profit or small business.  Or if you're a non-profit/smallbiz that is already blogging on your own, perfect! Collaborate, brainstorm, discuss - get those WOM ideas flowing!  Then write a post to tell us why your chosen organization will be the next great WOM example.

If your entry is selected, you (the blogger) and a representative from the non-profit or small business will be given 5 minutes on stage at From Mass to Grass to strut your stuff.  And of course you and your cohort will be given complimentary access to From Mass to Grass.

  • Your pitch should be around 300 words in length
  • Tag it "M2Gnonprofit" or "M2Gsmallbiz"
  • It must be live on your blog AND the URL of your pitch emailed to M2Gnonprofit [at] onedegree [dot] ca OR M2Gsmallbiz [at] onedegree [dot] ca by 6PM PDT on Friday, May 16 Monday, May 26
  • You and a rep from your chosen non-profit/smallbiz should be available to attend From Mass to Grass on June 12.

Potential WOM Rock Stars, this is for you:
Let's say you don't know anyone at a non-profit or a small biz.  Or, you're really just itching to get your hands on a big brand campaign.  This one's for you.  To get your 5 minutes of glory and a blogger's pass to From Mass to Grass, come up with the best WOM campaign you can for Chia Pets and pitch it on your blog.

  • Your pitch should be around 300 words in length
  • Tag it "M2Gchia"
  • It must be live on your blog AND the URL of your pitch emailed to M2Gchia [at] onedegree [dot] ca by 6PM PDT on Friday, May 16 Monday, May 26
  • You should be available to attend From Mass to Grass on June 12.

So, WOM marketers, get crackin'!  We're excited to see what you can come up with for Canada's non-profits, small businesses and the ultimate grassroots icon, the Chia Pet.

We'll announce the selected bloggers and organizations here on One Degree on or around May 28th.

Need some good Word of Mouth marketing resources?  Check out these:

June 17 - 19 - Government Web 2.0 and Social Media - Ottawa

April 28, 2008

Bloggers - do you use AdWords to promote your blog? (QotD)

I was just poking around One Degree, checking out a few things, and an ad came up in the Google AdWords block for a Canadian marketer's blog. Is this a common practice for bloggers?  How many of you use AdWords to promote your own blog?  If you do, do you find that you get new readers through the ads?

June 5 - SOHO-SME Business Conference - Calgary

April 24, 2008

Vancity's Webby Award Campaign

As some of you may know, ChangeEverything.ca, a social network based around positive community change (and a project of Canadian credit union Vancity), has been nominated for a Webby Award in the Social Network category (you know - them and Facebook).

Rob Cottingham (One Degree contributor and genius behind Noise to Signal) recently wrote a post outlining the five reasons he thinks Change Everything should win a Webby, but if that doesn't convince you, then this video from Vancity's CEO just might (you may have to click through if you're reading in the feed or email).

Cast your "People's Voice" vote for ChangeEverything.ca (or your social network of choice, of course) in the Webby People's Voice Awards!  Voting closes May 1st!

Sidenote: William Azaroff from Vancity will be speaking at the upcoming From Mass to Grass WOM conference in June about ChangeEverything.ca.

N2S on Things You Can't Live-Blog


Web2.What? by Kelly Rusk (Blogroll)

Name of Blog: Web2.What?
URL: web2dotwhat.com
One Line Description: Taking a community approach to understanding the new communication tools on the web
Topics It Covers: social media, digital marketing, conversation, community, marketing, public relations
Language: English
Author(s): Kelly Rusk
Location: Ottawa
Contact Deets: kelly [at] web2dotwhat.com

Three Representative Posts:

  1. Dare to compare - how to choose the right social tools
  2. Go Podcast Crazy - What's on my iPod
  3. 5 shortcuts to being a social media geek

Miscellaneous Notes and Accolades:
This blog is fairly new, but so far it's only been promoted via Twitter and am already getting some relatively decent traffic & comments.

Community Rating:

April 23, 2008

June 12 - Mass To Grass WOM Conference - Toronto

It's back and better than ever!  Mass to Grass, the CMA's Word of Mouth Conference.


When: Thursday, June 12, 2008, 8:30 - 4:30
Where: Atlantis Pavillion at Ontario Place
Who: Over 20 business and not-for-profit leaders in WOM, Social Media and Viral Marketing, including

This year, the agenda includes more B2B, more metrics, more measurement, more not-for-profit and more ethics - all based on feedback from last year's attendees.

It's really a fantastic collection of speakers - Canada's best and brightest from across the country. Speakers topics cover the full gamut of WOM: from online to offline, short term to long term, natural buzz industries (beer and entertainment) to more established industries (banks!).

And you know what's going to make it the best conference ever?  You!

So register for Mass to Grass and spend the day with us.  But first, hop on over to Facebook and become a fan.  Because Fans get a $50 discount on the price of registration!  But only til May 1st.

And keep an eye out.  We have several buzz-generating activities scheduled for the next few weeks, including some video, some experience stuff and a contest (right here on One Degree!) where you can help your fav not-for-profit and small business win a complimentary ticket to Mass to Grass.

If you still need convincing, check out One Degree's coverage of last year's Mass to Grass as well as an Arieh's video interview with Doug Walker who presented on the Rock, Paper, Scissors Society - one of the WOM hits of last year's conference.

April 22, 2008

Reaching Your Influencers - ThoughtFarmer's Tubetastic Case Study

Over the past couple of months, we've been working with the folks at ThoughtFarmer to devise a marketing campaign. Their goal was to reach out to online influencers in the technology space--bloggers, analysts and journalists (those job titles are getting very blurry these days). They wanted to introduce ThoughtFarmer to these folks, and encourage them to take their wiki-powered intranet solution for a test drive. After some brainstorming and false starts, we devised Tubetastic, a fake company with a fake logo, a fake org chart and, you guessed it, a fake intranet. If you want to have a look at the site, just ask and we'll send you access details.

What Were We Thinking?

We undertook an intensive approach to connecting with these influencers. Our thinking is based on a few beliefs:

  • Everyone is really busy. You need to be creative to interrupt the fire hose of inputs.
  • When work hard to craft an original approach, people respond to it. If you invest a lot of effort, it demonstrates respect for your audience. It says "we value your attention, so we went to a lot of trouble to get some of it".
  • Marketing works best when your marketing strategy is as close as possible to the thing you're marketing. It seemed obvious to use a ThoughtFarmer intranet as the centrepiece of this campaign.
  • What do we care most about? Ourselves. Marketing works best when we can see ourselves in the context of the campaign. When influencers visit Tubetastic, they see themselves and their peers.
  • Find the funny. The slogan for Tubetastic is "We make tubes. A whole series of them." Savvy readers will recognize this as a nod to United States Senator Ted Stevens' infamous metaphor for the internet. This opening gambit, in theory, entices our audience to log in and find out what the heck is going on. It seems to have worked. Rob Lewis was "instantly curious".

We've had success applying this logic to other campaigns, so we're optimistic that it will work here. Here's how we put the campaign together:

Prepare the Intranet

To start, we invented a fake tube manufacturing company called Tubetastic Inc. We created fake employee profiles for each influencer. Each profile is a sort of entry interview, with the answers coming from excerpts from their blogs and articles. We left one question unanswered, in the hopes that some folks might offer up their opinion. Here, for example, is the profile for Sarah Perez of ReadWriteWeb fame:

Though ThoughtFarmer offers a dead sexy interactive org chart, we needed a printable one. We were a bit cheeky, and stuck really popular bloggers in rather junior positions. Robert Scoble is a Tubular Receptionist, while Mike Arrington is the company mascot. We also wrote a couple of hopefully-amusing short articles to fill out the site a bit. They're in the style of cheery, boring stories that you might read on your average corporate intranet. One is titled "Our Tubes Are the Shiniest for the Third Year Running". Here's how it starts:

As many of you know, our Quality Assurance team participates every year in Tube-o-Rama, the tradeshow and industry challenge in which tube industry employees compete for glory and prizes. For the third year in a row, our tubular QA experts have come home with the trophy for best tube polishing. "It really was our finest hour," said Junior Tube Polisher Stowe Boyd. "Our time to shine. And shine we did. We shined those tubes like they were our grandma's silverware."

The other story involves the Operations team relocating to Chile. It's not The Onion, but hopefully they make the occasional reader smile. It's the early days of this campaign, but we were pleased when analyst James Governor added his own amusing short piece. It concerns legal action by prog-rock legend Mike Oldfield, who wrote the album "Tubular Bells".

Prepare the Packages

People are inundated with email. Technologists are also overrun by new channels. Just today Robert posted this to his Twitter feed:

NOTE TO PR PEOPLE AND ENTREPRENEURS: I am far less likely to talk about you or do what you want if you DM me than if you just beg in public.

Instead, we like to send our audience something interesting via snail mail. The natural fit was a faux new employee package.

It contained:

  • A welcome letter, which prominently featured login details for the Tubetastic intranet.
  • An employee badge, with their name, job title and photo.
  • The aforementioned org chart, with their name circled.

We couldn't find actual addresses for everybody, but we did reasonably well. For the remainder, we'll put digital versions of these assets on the web and contact them through an online channel (email, IM, Twitter and so forth). Then we sent out the packages. We'll follow up a week or so later, to confirm that people received their goodies.

The Risks

This sort of strategy isn't without risk. Here's what we saw as potential problems:

  • Nobody notices. This is every marketer's fear. We've done our best to avoid the black hole of apathy.
  • They get creeped out. It's possible that some folks might be a little weirded out by seeing an employee profile featuring themselves. However, most of these folks live very public lives, so we're optimistic that it'll matter less to them than the average person.
  • They publish their login details, and the intranet site gets hammered or covered in graffiti. Too many people looking at ThoughtFarmer is a nice problem to have. We just have to pay very close attention to the site over the next few weeks. We're mitigating this by providing an easy way to request access.

As Seth Godin says, "safe is risky, and risky is safe". In our experience, the best campaigns are the ones where we feel queasy about their launch.

Cross-posted on the ThoughtFarmer Blog

Welcome to Our April/May Sponsor Campaigner!

Campaigner We're delighted to welcome Campaigner as our sponsor for April/May.

Founded in 1999, Montreal-based Campaigner was one of the first self-service Email Marketing Service Providers (ESPs) and a founding member of the Email Sender Provider Coalition, shaping best practices on permission based email marketing.

To help Canadian marketers boost their email marketing campaigns, Campaigner is taking their product and their expertise and going on tour!  Campaigner is holding four free email marketing seminars across Canada (Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary and Vancouver) between May 6 and June 6. You'll be seeing seminar invitations over the next few weeks for each of the cities on the tour.  First up - Toronto on May 6.

May 6 - Email Marketing Seminar - Toronto

Student PR by Chris Clarke (Blogroll)

Name of Blog: Student PR
URL: http://studentpr.com/blog/
One Line Description: Chris Clarke’s Perspective on Public Relations and Online Communications.
Topics It Covers:  PR, communications, marketing, social media, written for students and young practitioners.
Language: English
Author(s): Chris Clarke
Location: Toronto
Contact Deets: chris [at] studentpr [dot] com

Three Representative Posts:

  1. Getting Hired in PR
  2. Google Juice, Personal Brand, and Student PR
  3. 10 Reasons Facebook Has Jumped the Shark

Miscellaneous Notes and Accolades:
Produced Inside PR for Terry Fallis and David Jones, wrote a biweekly column for the Blog Herald from December 2006 to May 2007, is somewhere low on the Power150  and also contributes to HoopsAddict.com.

Community Rating:

April 21, 2008

Will Bluetooth Become a Sweet Tooth for Marketers?

Now that over 60% of new mobile devices are Bluetooth enabled, marketers have an opportunity to leverage Bluetooth or proximity marketing to enhance or extend customer communications and / or campaigns.

What is Bluetooth?

Bluetooth is an international wireless radio communication standard used primarily for mobile wireless headsets. Think of Bluetooth as a super short wave radio station – it only works in small localized areas. Bluetooth is also operator / network independent.

How does it work?

Marketers set up Bluetooth transceivers in an area – usually a store, event, mall, or anywhere people congregate.

When somebody with a Bluetooth enabled mobile device walks within 100 meters of your transceiver – they’ll receive a message on their mobile device seeking permission to engage.

If accepted, the person can receive a text based message - like “come to super coffee shop and get a free muffin,” or “fill out our application and we’ll give you a canned ham.”

You can also use Bluetooth to send other types of media messages – such as an image (coupon? Product shot?) Or even audio or video – such as a movie preview or product demo.

Unlike SMS, MMS, and mobile web, there is no user fee attached to receiving a Bluetooth message – unless the message drives the user to something that requires data or initiates an SMS / MMS.

You can setup the campaign so that the person only receives one message request within a period of time. This is helpful for those who may add a Bluetooth transceiver at a booth near a beer stand during a sporting event.

If the person declines the incoming message, they will not be contacted again for 24 hours.

Barriers to Bluetooth

Mobile devices must have Bluetooth enabled on their device for the messaging to work. This is not a default setting with most devices. In some cases, the user also has to specify that their device can be “discoverable” even if Bluetooth is already enabled.

Although the medium is permission based, there is the potential for Bluetooth messaging to be perceived as spam.

South Africa has embraced Bluetooth

South Africa is a leader in Bluetooth marketing where over 30 regional malls, an international airport and over 40 other independent locations are fully Bluetooth enabled. A friend of mine working in South Africa indicated that she even gets Bluetooth messages confirming cash withdrawals from the ATM machines there!

Petros Kondos, the co-founder and CEO of Wireless Customer Interactive Technologies, estimates that over 60,000 Bluetooth interactions occur each month in South Africa. There are just over 20 million active mobile users today in South Africa (about the same as Canada). 

There have already been some Bluetooth enabled campaigns in Canada – most notably by Zoom media who installed transceivers in restaurant and club bathrooms in Toronto to create a conversation for those who are doing their business with Bluetooth enabled devices…

And you thought a stranger talking to you in the bathroom stall beside you was awkward :)

May 27 - SOHO-SME Business Conference - Ottawa

April 20, 2008

one little cog by Ehren Cheung (Blogroll)

Name of Blog: one little cog
URL: http://www.onelittlecog.com/
One Line Description: Focusing on ideas that can make a difference greater than the sum.
Topics It Covers:  ideas, marketing, technology, policy, business, applications, web development, books
Language: English
Author(s): Ehren Cheung
Location: Toronto
Contact Deets: Ehren's LinkedIn Profile

Three Representative Posts:

  1. How Not to Advertise to Humans
  2. Organizational Happyness - It's in the Marketing
  3. 10 Excellent Examples of Marketing Ideas

Community Rating:

Mint Birdy by Véronique Desrosiers (Blogroll)

Name of Blog: Mint Birdy
URL: http://www.mintbirdy.ca/blog/
One Line Description: Mint Birdy talks about online strategy, efficiency and the new online media.
Topics It Covers:  Online Strategy, ROI, Social Marketing, SEO, SEM, RSS & much more
Language: French
Author(s): Véronique Desrosiers
Location: Montreal
Contact Deets: Véronique's LinkedIn Profile

Three Representative Posts:

  1. Les réseaux sociaux… investir ou ne pas investir?
  2. Découvrez la puissance des flux RSS
  3. Référencement payant, un outil crucial pour le commerce du détail

Miscellaneous Notes and Accolades:
Fun & Weird Stuff: I have meet Michael Jackson. I have worked at Cirque du Soleil for 4 years 10 months and I don’t know how to juggle. And I do have Sean Moffitt on my friend list!  Awards: 5 Digital Marketing Awards, 2 Cassies & 3 Boomerangs

Community Rating:

April 17, 2008

Apr 30 - HICKTech - Owen Sound

Hicktech_2If you are located anywhere near Owen Sound, you need to register for HICKTech and high-tail it up to the Georgian Bay area on April 30th.

I discovered this delightfully named, rural-oriented technology conference through geekspeakr.com (a site to connect women tech speakers with conferences who are looking for diversity in their speaker roster). HICKTech (which stands for "How the Internet Connects Knowledge") was founded in 2007 by Emma Hogbin (owner of xtrinsic - a consultancy focused on appropriate technology for online communities).  2008 is the second year for HICKTech and their speaking roster is impressive!  It includes:

In addition to the fantastic (gender-balanced) roster, there are several other things that delight me about HICKTech.  From the website ...

In 2008 this rural technology conference will feature 20 presentations in four content streams (Business, Community, Food & Agriculture and Technology). The keynote presentation will be delivered by Heather Champ, Community Manager for Flickr and the wrap-up session will be hosted by CBC personality, Nora Young. In addition to these themes HICK Tech will be more environmentally conscious in 2008. This will include: an environment-themed session in each of the four content streams; only locally grown and prepared food at the meals (with the exception of coffee which, sadly, does not grow locally); only re-usable dishes; and carbon off-set credits for compensate for the travel-related emissions generated by all speakers.

The relationship between rural areas and technology is such an important one, particularly in Canada where we are so geographically dispersed (even though 90% of us live near the border, it's a BIG border).  If HICKTech's success continues, I would love to see it become a national tour, delivered in rural communities across Canada.

In addition to pulling together an amazing conference, Emma has also put together a great slideshow showing how she promoted HICKTech to the local community as well as got them engaged and participating.  My favourite piece of advice - Know Your Matriarch!  Take a look through the slides below; some great ideas for local promotion and engagement.

Register for HICKTech - a total bargain at $150!

Editor's note ... disclosure: this isn't a paid event listing, but I wanted to make sure it showed up in our event section.

davefleet.com by Dave Fleet (Blogroll)

Name of Blog: davefleet.com
URL: http://davefleet.com/
One Line Description: Exploring the intersection of communications, marketing and social media
Topics It Covers:  Social media, PR, communications, blogging, social networks, twitter, trends, marketing, web 2.0, strategy
Language: English
Author(s): Dave Fleet
Location: Toronto
Contact Deets: Contact Dave

Three Representative Posts:

  1. I'm Done With Social Media
  2. Enough With Blogger Strategies!
  3. PR Web Takes The 'Social' Out Of Social Media

Miscellaneous Notes and Accolades:
- I was a co-organizer of PodCamp Toronto 2008
- I also write a running blog
- I'm using my blogs and other social media tools to raise money for cancer research
- I've had articles published in One Degree and Media Bullseye

Community Rating:

Facebook Insight by Tim McKillican & Neil Vidyarthi (Blogroll)

Name of Blog: Facebook Insight
URL: http://facebookinsight.com/
One Line Description: Evaluating marketing trends in social networking.
Topics It Covers:  Social Networks, Facebook, Advertising, Targeted Marketing
Language: English
Author(s): Tim McKillican, Neil Vidyarthi
Location: Toronto
Contact Deets: neil [at] levelsocial [dot] com

Three Representative Posts:

  1. The Ad Revolution is Coming
  2. Federated Media, Conversational Marketing and a Second Round of Funding
  3. Facebook Application Revenue: 5.2 Million Users = Over $1.5 Million Annual Revenue

Community Rating:

April 16, 2008

April 24 - Halifax Social Media Meet-up - Halifax

Inside the Marketers Studio - Dealing with Negative Publicity

Editor's Note: This is first post in our new feature Inside the Marketers Studio (with apologies to James Lipton and David Berkowitz) where we ask savvy marketers for their take on the burning marketing questions of the day.

I've been thinking a lot about managing one's personal brand online after my last post on One Degree. I was particularly interested in how people who've established their personal brand online deal with negative comments or publicity. What happens when someone tries to attack, discredit or otherwise undermine you online?

So, as the host of One Degree's inaugural edition of Inside the Marketers Studio, I asked four marketers from across the country (Adele McAlear, Michael Seaton, Jay Moonah and Kate Trgovac) the following three questions:

  1. Have you ever had a problem with someone trying to discredit you online?
  2. What did you do about it?
  3. How would you counsel a client in a similar situation?

They've shared their experiences and insights below - please feel free to leave your own answers in the comments.

Adele McAlear

Adele McAlear is partner in 99directions, a social media marketing company with offices in Montreal and Vancouver.

1. Have you ever had a problem with someone trying to discredit you online?
Fortunately, to date, I have not had anyone try to discredit me online. But, regardless of how public or private you are on the Internet, there is always the possibility that someone will use any of the available outlets on the 'net to take issue with me personally or professionally. From Amazon wish lists that are public to blog comments, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles, there are so many outlets for people to express their opinions, both positive and negative.

2. What did you do about it?
Being aware that there is negative or inaccurate information applied to you is the first step. I have Google Alerts set for my name and slight misspellings so I can track whenever my name pops up online. Once I know what is being said I can reply to the writer. It's always a good idea to thank positive comments. As for negative ones, it's best to try to address them as soon as possible.

3. How would you counsel a client in a similar situation?
I would advise the client to set up Google Alerts and absolutely respond to both positive and negative comments as soon as possible. Reply in an open tone, and take constructive criticism to heart. Offer to help the person with the issue personally, apologize if you've truly made an error, be open to discussion and be respectful. Do not, under any circumstances, enter into a flame war, no matter how inflammatory the disgruntled person may be. Stay patient and professional. If you are not given an outlet to clarify your position and seek a resolution, then do so on your own company's blog should you feel that the situation warrants that response.

Michael Seaton

Michael Seaton is former client side marketer that is now focused on delivering the digital goods for a diverse range of clients at Thornley Fallis.  He blogs at www.theclientsideblog.com.

1. Have you ever had a problem with someone trying to discredit you online?
I can’t say I have ever been discredited outright.  When I made the move recently to the agency side of the business, one blogger made a quip about me that I found out of line. It was a bit of a personal attack in a veiled way. My approach in this situation, as always, was to take the high road. I try to never lower myself to the level to which others stoop.  Not worth my time or effort. In a reputation contest, I’m quite certain my credibility and network of friends and colleagues who know me are my safety net from any such attacks.

There was, however, a situation a year or two ago where content was scraped from my blog without any attribution. Basically my content was stolen.  I felt that was a real violation of what I put out there into this space. I can’t pretend it did not upset me.

2. What did you do about it?
What did I do? I used the tools available. Through a combination of the advice from a group I belong to (CAPOW), my blog, LinkedIn and Google, I turned the situation into a favourable one for myself.  However, I did not attack the offender.  I tried to give him every opportunity to respond. Confrontation does not need to be ugly, it’s my way of getting to the truth of the matter directly.

I was very straightforward and transparent when I called out the offender to be accountable for his actions. I even gave him the benefit of the doubt that perhaps he was unaware of what he did.  Several months later, he got in touch with me and apologized.  I appreciated his apology and accepted it. But that does not matter much. The real issue he faces now is that I own his name on Google.  Current search results for his name turn up his LinkedIn profile in first spot, and my blog posts about his plagiarism ranking in the second and third positions.  Not much either of us can do about that now.

3. How would you counsel a client in a similar situation?
My best advice if you find yourself in a similar situation is to count to ten and breathe deeply.  The initial response we all have is to get ‘em back – hit them harder than they hit you.  That is the emotional side of your brain at work.  Small problems only get bigger in a tit for tat battle. What you need is time for the logical and rational side to kick in. Think things through. 

I would counsel clients to start in advance of any issues. Meaning if you have an outlet like a blog or podcast to build an audience and establish credibility, you have a place to tell your side of the story. Being proactive is always a better option than being reactive.

Jay Moonah

Jay Moonah is the Digital Information Strategist at Toronto new media agency 58Ninety Inc.

1. Have you ever had a problem with someone trying to discredit you online?
"Discredit" is maybe a bit strong, but I did get some flack for a message board post I made a while back. 

I used to host the Toronto Independent Music podcast on blogTO.com.  My goal was to try and showcase new artists each week, 4 to 6 on average.  After about 30 episodes I was running a little low on talent to feature, so I posted an ask for submissions on a popular board frequented by many Toronto-area musicians and music fans.  Unfortunately, not being a regular member of the community in question, I received some flack for posting what was perceived as a "promotional" message.  Responses ranged from cynical to biting -- who was I, was this some kind of scam, was I too lazy to do the legwork of finding artists myself, that sort of thing.

2. What did you do about it?
By chance I was not able to respond immediately to these criticisms, and it turned out to be a lucky thing that I didn't.  As it happened, some of the artists I had featured in the past were well-established members of the community, and stuck up for me and for the podcast.  Once they did, I had an opening to clarify my intentions.  Things were smoothed over, and as it turned out I received some excellent music submissions from this community.

3. How would you counsel a client in a similar situation?

Try to establish yourself in a community before posting a what could be perceived as a promotional message.  The biggest mistake I made was not being more active on the board before trying to promote my own podcast, even if my intentions were well in keeping with the spirit of the community.

Wait and see if anyone will stick up for you.  If you really are providing value within a community, there's a good chance that someone in the community will come to your aid.

If no one comes to your defense, don't get defensive.  Try to engage with the critics and understand if there's something you can do in the future to highlight the value of what you are offering to the community. Critics generally just want to feel they are being heard, and if you engage them in genuine dialogue, they can sometimes turn into your strongest allies.

Kate Trgovac

Kate Trgovac is the President and Chief Catalyst of LintBucket Media, a boutique marketing agency - she's also the Editor in Chief of OneDegree.ca.

1. Have you ever had a problem with someone trying to discredit you online?
My situation wasn’t so much as someone trying to discredit me as trying to take advantage of my popularity and “google juice”.  I write a lens about laptop bags on Squidoo (a social networking/content creation site created by Seth Godin).  Each lens has its own unique URL (my laptop one is, not surprisingly, http://squidoo.com/laptopbag).  My lens is pretty popular and so is my name as a search term.  Well, it turns out that someone actually registered my name as a Squidoo URL and was using it to get traffic.  There were also folks using my name as a keyword in their lenses to increase their traffic (and subsequently their revenue).

2. What did you do about it?
I sent a note into the Squidoo folks and they were very prompt about turning the lens over to me and clearing out the rogue keywords.  Now, it certainly helps that I have a unique name.  If I were Jane Smith, I’m not sure if it would have been as easy a case to make.

3. How would you counsel a client in a similar situation?
So, it turns out that ego surfing isn’t just self-gratifying – it’s a necessity to protecting your brand.  Same with your clients.  Check on the major social networks, especially those that let you set up unique URLS or where the username is part of the URL.  Is anyone using their corporate name or product brand?  You likely can’t check every social network (there are hundreds), but you can certainly register on the top 2 dozen or so and protect those brand names.   

And if you’ve been putting off setting up those ego feeds for you and your clients, get to it!

Have you had an experience with negative publicity online? What did you do about it? Please share your story in the comments! If you'd like to host future instalments of Inside the Marketer's Studio, please drop us a line.

(3i) by Tamera Kremer (Blogroll)

Name of Blog: (3i)
URL: http://3i.wildfirestrategy.com/
One Line Description: innovate. integrate.  ignite.
Topics It Covers:  Digital marketing and communications, social  media strategies, integrated campaigns
Language: English
Author(s): Tamera Kremer
Location: Toronto
Contact Deets: contact [at] wildfirestrategy [dot] com

Three Representative Posts:

  1. 10 steps to start the  strategic marketing innovation process
  2. Giving the consumer a seat at the table
  3. The Great Viral Swindle?

Miscellaneous Notes and Accolades:
Frequent speaker on social media marketing topics in North America; Featured in the book: "What No One Ever Tells You About Blogging and Podcasting"; listed on AdAge Power150; troublemaker.

Community Rating:

ideasonideas by Eric Karjaluoto (Blogroll)

Name of Blog: ideasonideas
URL: http://www.ideasonideas.com/
One Line Description: Eric Karjaluoto discusses design, brands and experience.
Topics It Covers:  Design, brands, experience, marketing, interactive, advertising
Language: English
Author(s): Eric Karjaluoto
Location: Vancouver
Contact Deets: karj [at] smashlab [dot] com

Three Representative Posts:

  1. Blogs can kill brands
  2. The Heart of the Matter
  3. How to disarm 10 difficult client observations/requests

Miscellaneous Notes and Accolades:
- On the AdAge Power 150
- ideasonideas has won a merit at the Lotus Awards
- ideasonideas won in the weblog category in the 2007 Applied Arts Interactive Awards

Community Rating:

April 15, 2008

Five Questions for FreshBooks

Freshbook_roadburn_2 Saul Colt is the Head of Magic at FreshBooks. FreshBooks is an online invoicing, time tracking and expense tracking service designed for creative based professionals and freelance consultants. Saul describes his role as “Supplying the Ah-Ha moments by just being me”.

One of those moments came recently when FreshBooks took to the road and drove from the Future of Web Applications Conference in Miami Beach, Florida to Austin, Texas for SXSW in an effort to meet customers and spread the word about online invoicing. Oh and they did it in an RV!

One Degree: Where did the idea of spending almost two weeks on the road in an RV come from and what were the goals of the trip?

The idea for the FreshBooks RoadBurn trip came up in our regular weekly marketing meeting. We were speaking at two conferences about a week apart and instead of flying to Florida and then home for a few days and then flying out to Texas, we saw an opportunity to do something fun and a little different. We rented an RV and used it as a way to build buzz for our appearance at the SXSW Interactive festival by stopping twice a day to have lunch or dinner (and sometimes breakfast) with as many customers along the route as we could.

The buzz came from the fact that we met with some people as many as three times on our trip. That sort of effort gets people talking. We were first introduced to one of our customers in Miami at FOWA, then he joined us for lunch in his home town along our route and then we had dinner with him one night in Austin at SXSW. Creating real bonds with customers is something that people enjoy and talk about!   

Our goals for the trip were pretty simple. We wanted to meet as many customers as we could and create a real world relationship with the amazing customers who use our online service. Because we were meeting existing users, we did not look at this as a sales trip but rather an opportunity to listen. By meeting with and listening to our customers, we could not only refer them to other FreshBooks customers but we also learned a great deal about what it is they like (or LOVE) about FreshBooks and what they would like to see in future updates. I can’t put into words how much this helps us.

One Degree: You made some videos from the road. What was the idea behind the videos?

Before we left we set up a micro-site to document our trip and decided to fill it with as much video content as we could.  We chose to do a micro-site so people who wanted to follow us could and for the people who follow the main FreshBooks blog for the more targeted content would not bombarded with the more relaxed content from the trip. The idea was to show a different side of FreshBooks and showcase some of the personality of the company and the people who work at FreshBooks.

Our videos were not about FreshBooks (the service) but highlighted the people and what we were doing along our trip. One of my favourite videos came from a stop we made at the Burt Reynolds Museum  because it shows us as we really are and gives a funny behind the curtain look at the people who make up FreshBooks.

We love getting to know our customers and we want them to know us as well. Real relationships are never a one way thing...and my mom loves to see me on her computer.

One Degree: Were there any challenges in putting the RoadBurn trip together?

Anyone who tells you that putting together a project of this scale is problem-free is probably not giving you the whole story. While we consider RoadBurn an enormous success and we accomplished most if not all of the goals we set for ourselves, planning dinners from 2000km away can be an adventure in itself.

One stop along the way, we took 20 FreshBooks users to a restaurant that was less than nice and I am sure it sent a strange message about what we thought of those people...but when you're planning from so far away, that stuff is going to happen sometimes.

Oh and then there was the time we were two hours late for our own dinner. Once we saw what traffic was going to be like we called all the beautiful people meeting us for dinner and explained that we were going to be late and asked them to join us later. Some did and some didn’t but everyone appreciated the effort.

One Degree: Would you do this again?

Normally I would say no because we have an embarrassing wealth of ideas that we want to get to but the FreshBooks RoadBurn trip was successful for us on so many levels that we are already playing around with the idea of doing this again along the west coast in August. So to answer your question I would say YES! It gave us an amazing opportunity to connect with customers, thank them for using our service and the concept of the trip gave them a new and fresh talking point about FreshBooks so that they can evangelize for us to their friends and customers.

Another outcome was that we were able to track people’s interest on our trip by the large amount of chatter on blogs and most importantly Twitter. Using tools like (the now departed) Terraminds, we followed all the comments about us and engaged in the conversation with these folks. As a result, even more people followed us and chatted about our trip!

One of our main goals at FreshBooks is to be inspiring and exceptional. I believe this trip met all our goals and gave the blogosphere and traditional media a reason to watch us and follow us during the trip and into the future. Heck, it even gave us talking points like exclusively using photos from flickr (not taken by us) for our blog posts.

Finally, if we do this again we would certainly…and this is important…empty the RV bathroom tank a whole lot more often.

One Degree: Did you learn anything from this experience?

Customers are always more than customers. They are people. Sure you can read that and think it's buzz speak or a cliché - but once you have shared a meal with someone and had a chat about stuff not revolving around work, you look at them differently and want to give them more then you already are. This isn’t something I just learned on this trip, but the trip reconfirmed my belief of this.

Real world relationships in a Web 2.0 world (and a superior product) are the absolute best way to build a happy and loyal community. The days of faceless companies with no outward facing personality no longer work with savvy people. With so much more of people’s communications happening through a keyboard, some people want to be a part of something and feel some love from the companies they deal with. The companies that can do this genuinely, and not in a forced fashion, will have customers and fans.

And if I may say, I think we do it pretty well…because that is our magic.

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