It’s been just over one year since Unica launched the Marketers’ Consortium. Our goal was to create a space on the web where the best minds in marketing would converge. We wanted to share knowledge and experience, debate and dissect the hottest issues and opportunities, and spur stimulating, actionable dialog. Quite ambitious!
From Unica’s perspective, we hoped to raise our own corporate profile, encourage blog readers to learn more about our solutions and promote the discipline to which we devote our every working hour – Marketing!
So what have we learned along the way that can help you?
1) Blogs may not rock your world
I remember when blogs first hit the scene – It seemed like everyone was raging about them. I heard comments such as “blogs mean the death of magazines, newspapers and TV! Now everyone will be his or her own reporter and we won’t need professional reporters and editors!” And while blogs have certainly impacted and added to the richness of information available to all of us, magazines, newspapers and TV are not quite dead. As with the introduction of many new channels of communication, the end result is the use of a wider variety of media and sources rather than the outright death of older media. The key question for us, however, was whether blogs mattered to our target audience and our conclusion is that today, they are not a critical channel. There are hundreds of blogs on the topic of marketing, and the level of blog readership among marketing executives is questionable.
2) Blogs are not free
The other oft heard comment on blogs was and still is, “blogs are free.” That is a myth I never believed and you shouldn’t either. While you can get a typepad account for $149 or use a free service to build your blog, unless you ascribe zero value to your time, blogs most certainly are NOT free. Unless you are writing a blog for the pure enjoyment of putting your opinions, ideas, or experiences out onto the worldwide web (or for a few close friends and family), you also need to invest time to drive traffic to your blog and to monitor its success. If you think blogs are free read this article, “The Dark Side of Blogging: Warnings from Leading Bloggers” on MarketingProfs (it’s protected content, so I can’t link directly, unfortunately.)
3) Blogs should deliver a return on investment
Again, unless you are writing a blog for pure enjoyment, you need to consider the blog a marketing investment and it needs to have a measurable purpose. Now, I don’t mean to imply that unless you can tie your blog to immediate ROI in a short period of time, it’s a bust. But because blogs are not free, you need to have a goal, you need to measure against that goal, and you need to figure out what you will do if you aren’t meeting that goal over some reasonable time period. Some companies measure blogs by traffic, some by conversions, some by increased awareness and some by the blog’s effect on natural search engine results.
And thus, it is with this knowledge in hand, that Unica will be ending The Marketers’ Consortium. It’s a bittersweet day. We’ve loved having the blog. We have been blessed to have some of the best minds in marketing as our guest bloggers – luminaries including: Elana Anderson, former VP of Research at Forrester Research: Don Peppers, noted author, speaker and founding partner, Peppers and Rogers Group; Pat LaPointe, managing partner of Marketing NPV; Liz Roche, former VP Research, META Group and CRM Diva; and the very popular Chris Kenton, social media maven and president of MotiveLab. In addition, our own Unica staff wrote laudable blog entries covering important topics ranging from cross-channel convergence to customer-centricity to marketing operations excellence.
Why are we ending The Marketers’ Consortium? The Marketers’ Consortium did meet our initial goals (no, this is not sugar-coating for the public view). We have actually had more visitors than we ever anticipated and a steady stream of regular readers. But when we weighed the return to Unica and value to our customers against the investment of time and resources, we realized the blog was not the wisest investment for us right now.
We don’t regret one moment devoted to the blog. As an organization, we believe strongly in experimenting with new ways to bring value to market. It was with this spirit that we launched The Marketers’ Consortium in August 2006. While I’ve noted a few lessons here, these only scratch the surface of what we learned and the new things we’d like to try some day. We hope to put our knowledge to work again with the launch of new blogs that are more narrowly targeted – so keep an eye out for those in the future.
For now, we are signing off. We thank everyone who contributed to our blog as guest bloggers and commentators. We also thank those of you who read silently in the background.
So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good night….