Social media content marketing: the hype versus the real thing

Back in the day, I remember sales calls where I would ask questions, listen to identify a potential need and use brochures to point out features and benefits to my B2B prospects and customers. However, nothing worked better than telling a story about another company who had a need that my firm was able to satisfy using the product(s) that I was selling. 30+ years later, I realize that the story was an example of content marketing. AND, since I was sitting in front of the prospect or customer, I was being social.

Nothing is really new, except for the one-to-many and many-to-one communication channels that makes social media so powerful. Of course, like the sales call, social media is a two-way real conversation. I bolded “real” because some of my contemporaries believe that the “online world” is somehow separate from the “real world.” It is as though the two are separate and unequal. “Real” is used, in this instance, to demonstrate both the supposed superiority of current marketing and sales practices, while online is that amorphous, ethereal, fake world of the Internet. Then we have the others who claim that social media content marketing is the “end all, be all.”  The fact is that you can not rely on just one of these to achieve the results that you need. Current marketing and sales practice works very well with social media content marketing.

In the 1880′s telephones were not ubiquitous. As a matter of fact. “In January 1878 Queen Victoria permitted Alexander Graham Bell to demonstrate his telephone, which left her unimpressed: ‘It was faint.’ When commercial service began in London the next year, she was uninterested, and would never suffer a telephone in the living quarters in any of her residences.” There are executives who have the same attitude about social media now.

Social media is the new telephone.

Old phone with party line compared to a smart phone with Facebook on the screen










The “new telephone” is the description that fits the best when describing social media to the uninitiated. Like the party line, social media is both one to many and many to one as a communication device. Of course, social media, is much more powerful because the numbers of people it can reach are much greater. We all know the influences of social media on communication. One example is the fact that a neighbor of bin Laden’s actually used social media to describe what he heard and saw during the U.S. operation to capture or kill the terrorist leader. That tipped off the mass media that something was going on. Fortunately, some members of the media heard that new phone ring.  Your company can not answer the phone unless it has one. And most assuredly that phone is ringing, whether you have one now or not.

We now have a very powerful new telephone in social media. Why not use it to offer valuable and compelling content to your market segment – content that demonstrates great expertise your company has in your field – content that provides assistance to your target market? When it comes time to buy, prospects will naturally gravitate to those firms that they feel understand their business and are thought leaders in their industry. With blogging and the other social media channels, combined with conventional sales and marketing, you have the best marketing mix to connect with your target market.

Thought leaders… Many consider The Blade to be just a newspaper. While we are a great newspaper, we are also a top-notch news video, audio, and Web content producer, with millions of visitors to our Web site,, and tens of thousands of users of our iPad, iPhone, Android and Kindle news applications.

The Blade has more than 30,000 followers and friends on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn, Foursquare, and Pinterest. We know social media and content marketing. After all, we investigate and report the news needed for northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan. The Blade is the best prepared to advise you in the search for your firms’ valuable and compelling stories for your content marketing program. No company has a better understanding of using that content with social media to bring the results you want than The Blade. Of course furnishing mobile Web sites, and assisting with search marketing are also available from The Blade.

Contact us to assist you with your content marketing and social media marketing needs.

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‘Showrooming’ – Retail nightmare?






If you manage and/or own a small retail store you have/will be challenged by showrooming.

The good news is that most in-store online comparison shoppers stay put. According to Pew (Pew Internet and American Life Project, January 2012) 35% bought from the retailer’s store location where they were comparison-shopping, 19% bought online and only 8% went to another store. If approached the right way, immediacy can work wonders for conversion. After all, they are in your store. You have their attention. Why not show your in-store prospects that they can research the product with their smart phones without looking at an online competitor?

The question then becomes, What can a brick and mortar store do to capture as many sales as possible from smart phone users?

First. Smart phones are not the enemy. There have been a very few instances where one retail outlet or another has attempted to block the ability to scan items in the store. Also, technology like Google Goggles makes it likely that most products will be identified by a photo with pricing and reviews available to the user of a smartphone. Google Goggles-type technology eliminates even the need to scan a bar code. It is better to engage your customers rather than turning away those who use smartphones.

Update August 23, 2012

I was thinking about Google Goggles, so I downloaded the Google Goggles app to my Android smart phone. Here is a vitamin that I take, purchased from Rite Aid. Looks like I might have saved a couple of bucks.

Showrooming example

This is a vitamin supplement that I had purchased from Rite Aid. If you have any products that are sold online, then you will have this to deal with.

Best Buy is reported to have begun a training course for store personnel to recognize showrooming, along with a store redesign that allows checkouts within the store (among other things), rather than just the large bank of registers in the front of the store. What exactly the training Best Buy is offering remains to be discovered. However, customer engagement in the store will be part of the training. Read more here.

The strategy that seems to work the best is to place QR Codes near, or on a display that gives your customer more information about the product after the smart phone scan. If practical, the mobile landing page would also allow you to prominently display a “We meet competitors’ deals.” Of course, if shipping is not included in the online offer, then adding that back in would be a wise part of the negotiation.

Of course signs in your store that display something like,”Why pay the same or more online when you can buy here, in your community.” Obviously, if you have a “meet or beat” policy, then certainly use that message referring to online competitors. Let them know that when they purchase locally, they are contributing to their community by supporting local business. Not only that, where will they get service when they need it?

The Blade has more ideas to help you with your anti-showrooming strategy. Print ads can include a QR Code that sends your prospect to an attractive mobile landing page that describes your deal for the customer and why it is better to buy from your store.

As everyone knows QR Codes are not rocket science. However, making them work the way you would expect may be a little more daunting than it seems. Here, I discuss why QR Codes in print ads need more work than you may want to take on yourself. Of course, The Blade stands ready to assist any of your mobile efforts, or answer questions regarding mobile strategies that would work for your store.

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eMarketer: Three-quarters of marketers without a mobile strategy have plans to develop one

Now is the time to “get off the fence” and make plans to market your product with a mobile strategy. From the infograph, below, 75% of the “No” – not using mobile marketing – plan to use it soon.

Three quarters of marketers not using mobile plan to do so

Certainly, I expect this post to be viewed as a call to action. It reminds me of a saying that we used in U.S. Army, although it was used to berate those not in a certain unit, or elite force. “If you ain’t mobile, then you ain’t.” Well, you still “are,” obviously. However, the day is arriving when your competitors will be harvesting customers through ads on mobile apps, ads on high-traffic mobile Web sites, QR Codes, etc.

How will your competitors be reaping this harvest? Besides the activities mentioned above, it will also be mobile search. Even with Apple, Microsoft and Facebook either using or soon to use their own mapping and driving directions software, Google is still the king. If you haven’t optimized your Google Places entry for your retail business, then you are already behind the power curve.

Even though The Blade has been known only as a newspaper for 175 years, we are the mobile leaders in this Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan market. With iPhone, iPad, Android, mobile Web sites, we are prepared to deliver your message to the rapidly growing mobile market right now!

Here’s what we had to do. The Blade found out very early in the digital communication and advertising arena that even some major agencies did not understand how to assist small businesses, medium-sized, and even large firms here in the Toledo area. What tipped us off?

  1. Some of our advertisers’ QR Codes were not designed with the content, nor the specifications necessary to insure a successful campaign.
  2. Many still don’t have mobile content, whether it’s a mobile Web site or even the capability to launch a text campaign to move the needle for their brand and products.

What did The Blade do to fix the problem?

  1. Hired the people to provide turn-key mobile advertising solutions. 
  2. Developed the most effective advertising products available to take The Blade’s advertisers to the highest level of mobile advertising effectiveness. For example, we can create mobile landing pages, optimize mobile search, and much much more. Of course, The Blade will be constantly updating our advertising reach and technical capabilities, so your brand will always be a revenue leader.

So, why not check us out? We are locally-owned with better pricing than you could achieve anywhere else.



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Vehicle buyers want mobile ads and apps

Almost 70% of prospective car purchasers want to use mobile devices to investigate vehicles.

Auto dealers in northwestern Ohio and southeastern Michigan are using mobile technology to market their inventories. These dealers know that Sunday lot visitors are likely carrying smart phones. They also use QR Codes in their newspaper ads. Some auto dealers are on to the fact that The Blade’s mobile Web site, iPad, iPhone and Android apps allow them to better reach prospective lease and purchase customers.

However, what content makes the most sense for mobile marketing? Well, eMarketer checked into that. They found that one in five people wanted to click on a mobile ad that would display more information about the vehicle or watch a video about it. The majority wanted more information about deals and offers (47%).

It is going to be awhile before mobile device carrying customers make their vehicle purchases on their devices. However, the study makes it obvious that using mobile ads and apps to market to potential customers is a very effective way to influence purchasers early in the decision making process.

At The Blade we are able to assist your dealership to take advantage of mobile marketing solutions. That goes all the way from complimenting your agency’s work to turn-key mobile advertising solutions.

Give your Blade advertising sales representative a call and tell them that you read a blog post about this by Paul Hem.

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Disconnected – Businesses and smart phone users


Build bridges to your smart phone using prospects.











Obviously, there is some disconnect between a few ad agencies and/or many advertisers with the more than 36% of the population who use smartphones. For some strange reason, many agencies and/or advertisers fail to use a mobile landing page when they place an ad with a QR Code in a newspaper. A digital ad on The Blade’s news Web site or newspaper should link in a way that detects the prospective customer’s browser and then redirects to mobile-friendly content, like a VIDEO (hint hint), or a mobile friendly coupon or Web site. Again, mobile friendly.

Here’s why

It is an inconvenience for your target market to have to manipulate your content to make it work on their smart phone. If you are trying to sell something, then please make it easier to see your offer. If a prospect is mildly interested and scans your QR Code, activates your link and it is difficult to display, then they will probably just skip it and do something else while waiting for an appointment with a hair dresser, doctor’s office, bus or whatever…

The numbers

It makes sense to carefully look a little closer at mobile strategy. The Blade can assist your business to jump forward to harvest the benefits from mobile interactive advertising.

Please contact me at or 419-862-5252; Twitter @PaulAtTheBlade; Skype paulmhem

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U. Toledo adds Digital Marketing Certificate classes starting June 2012

UT Digital Marketing Certificate

Full Disclosure, see below**

The University of Toledo College of Business and Innovation’s Interactive Marketing Initiative is offering a digital marketing certificate beginning June 8, 2012.

“Innovative marketing tactics and techniques have never been more important than in these continually challenging times,” said Dr. Iryna Pentina, co-director of the UT Interactive Marketing Initiative. “This program focuses on helping business owners and marketers build and sustain successful, integrated digital media marketing programs.”

Local digital marketing experts will help students understand and apply new strategies and tools that can dramatically help their business.

Topics and presenters include:

• Digital Strategy: Integrating Your Interactive Marketing Assets and Tools to Achieve Measurable Results, Instructor: Iryna Pentina, Ph.D., UT professor and faculty director of the UT Interactive Marketing Initiative

• Email Marketing: Generating Leads and Boosting Sales with a Strategic Email Program, Instructor: Michael Temple, MBA, President, Temple Development Company and UT adjunct professor

• Web Design, Instructor: Peter You, Ph.D., director for Faculty Support and Special Projects, UT Learning Ventures

• Inbound Marketing: The Next Phase of Marketing on the Web, Instructor: Patrick Giammarco, MBA, founder and owner, PWG Marketing and UT adjunct professor

• Examining Social Media Networks for Brand Value, Instructor: Patrick Giammarco, MBA, founder and owner, PWG Marketing and UT adjunct professor

• Content Development Strategies for Digital Marketing, Instructor: Dee Drummond, UT associate lecturer, Communication Department

“Digital marketing techniques are now a requirement for business success,” Pentina said. “Upon completion, attendees will be better able to connect with customers and other businesses through digital channels and adjust their marketing mix accordingly.”

For additional information and to register, click: Here

About UT Interactive Marketing Initiative
Established in 2010, the UT College of Business and Innovation Interactive Marketing Initiative strives to be a regional leader in discovering, generating and disseminating knowledge in the interactive marketing field through academic and applied research, industry collaboration, practitioner-oriented conferences and seminars, and student-related activities. For more information, visit

Full Disclosure: I am married to Dee Drummond, one of the instructors. Therefore, I would indirectly benefit from successful recruiting for this course. Additionally, should BGSU, Lourdes or another area university have a course similar to this one, then I will be happy to post it on this blog.

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eMarketer: 92.5 million online coupon users by end of 2012

Yes. You read the headline correctly.

92.5 million! That’s closing in on a third of the population of the United States.

A poll by Ipsos found that 27% of respondents preferred receiving digital coupons and deals as opposed to getting them offline, compared with 33% who still preferred print versions. Of those that favored digital, eight out of ten said the convenience of digital deals made them preferable, especially their direct delivery to email inboxes. Seven out of ten liked the ease of management that digital deals offered, saying they facilitated comparison shopping and were easy to share.

Prefered methods of delivering coupons

The Blade has more ways for advertisers to display coupons than any other media in the market.

- QR Codes used in The Blade newspaper can be designed to display a mobile friendly coupon landing page. And that’s the best of both worlds – something that no other media in the market can match. 60% of the users depicted in the graphic, above, would use either digital or print for their source of coupons.

- The Blade’s iPhone, iPad, and Android apps are also great platforms for your coupons. Of course, the eBlade is already displaying weekly advertising of great prices from the area’s retail outlets.

The Blade has what you need to succeed with online and print with your coupon campaign.

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QR Codes: ‘Retail, technology sectors most frequent users of codes’

The numbers are rolling in. QR Codes are are driving prospects and customers to brand sites.

eMarketer leading industries using QR Codes

Now is the time for your business to start using QR Codes in print ads. Don’t forget that Majority of U.S. QR code scanners earn $100K+ and are younger

From eMarketer

“Although there are several different types of 2-D barcodes, the open-source QR code remains the advertising industry standard with almost 90% market penetration, according to Competitrack. And advertisers appear to be deciding on a case-by-case basis whether they need to explain to their target audiences how to use mobile barcodes, which generally require a dedicated code reader app. Earlier research has found that, though many consumers may not recognize the trade names of such codes, they know what to do when they see one.”

“Only 4% of print ads in the US contained 2-D mobile barcodes in 2011, but their use is growing, according to advertising tracking firm Competitrack. A February 2012 report by the company found that well-planned campaigns put mobile barcodes in attention-grabbing places, and then gave customers a clear call to action to lead them to content.”

The Blade has been a leader in assisting our advertising customers and agencies to use QR Codes in the most effective manner to reach their target market with content that will motivate them to further engage and buy.

Content is king. QR Codes can make your ad in The Blade interactive for your target market by offering video tutorials, ‘how tos’ so the target market learns how to use your product to achieve their goals, a Google Map with directions to your place of business, and a “text to win” campaign. These are only a few of the ways that QR Codes can be used.

Give The Blade a call at 419-724-6350, we can help to make your advertising results meet your expectations.

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Mobile App Usage Begins to Far Outpace the Web Thanks to Facebook

A colleague and I were discussing that The Blade’s iPad app views grew after the holidays. We agreed that a fairly large number of people received iPads as gifts. That conversation morphed into an “obviously mobile is growing faster than even Gartner’s December 2009 study” revelation.

The colleague and I began discussion what The Blade can do for our advertising customers.

First. The Blade has excellent advertising opportunities in all of our mobile applications and mobile Web sites.

Second. The Blade can create mobile Web sites that can assist your customers to find useful information about your products while using their mobile devices.

Third. The Blade has the expertise to assist your use of QR Codes to provide content that would allow the convergence of your digital message to your prospects and customers with print.

Comment here or email us at for more information.

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Small business study: Facebook and Twitter effective marketing tools, but lag using mobile


Facebook rules as the marketing tool most effective for small business.

eMarketer’s recent story regarding the use of social media marketing by small businesses reaffirms what most of us knew. And that is: Not only are small businesses aggressively adopting Facebook, they are getting results, too.

Facebook is rated as at least moderately effective as a marketing tool by 83% of U.S. small businesses who use social media, and Twitter isn’t exactly a slacker either coming in second with 46% feeling the same about it.

U.S. small businesses seem to be slow in adopting mobile sites. For example, in order to use the ubiquitous QR Codes, there must be content that works with a mobile device.

Mobile use by small businesses

As my friend Al Fiala, Sr. Marketing Consultant at Orlando Sentinel Media Group asks, “What does that mean to you?”

The Blade’s almost 9,000 likes (fans) on Facebook demonstrate a strong interest by members of your target market in its content. For example The Pew Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism recently ranked the Blade with CNN, The New York Times, Fox News, and other national news outlets for using Twitter.

The Blade is nationally ranked in more than one area by The Pew Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism.

The Blade’s mobile presence is unparalleled by any other media outlet in the area. Not only is The Blade offering iPhone and iPad apps, but it’s Android applications are also very popular.

The Blade has the social media experience, mobile platforms and advertising reach to assist area small businesses who want to develop their own programs. Many agencies work with The Blade and also have social media marketing expertise. Contact me at paulhem[at] for more information.

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