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Blog Marketing: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

17 May 2006 2 Comments

I saw this “Web clip” ad link on my Gmail account this morning:

Start a Good Looking Blog – eponym.com – Most blogs are ugly. Ours aren't. Start a Free Blog today!

Got me thinking. There's a lot of good, bad… and ugly… blogging out there. I'd like to take a look at some of each. Like most bloggers, I'm opinionated. But I'm open to suggestion. So let's start the discussion rolling on what's good, what's bad and what's blecch in blogging.

Copywriting sage (I'm tired of calling mentors “gurus.” Keeps making me think of the Maharishi. Then again, he's a master marketer!) Bob Bly has often criticized the blogging craze … even on his own blog! (See my comment there.) Bob is simply not convinced that blogs have a profitable ROI.

Some marketing sages say that blogs are passing fad and not worth all the fuss. And, they add, that blogs are doomed because of:

1. Blog Spam
2. Time Commitments
3. Low Signal to Noise Ratio

So why do I bother to blog? The most obvious answer is the “be-there-or-be-square” syndrome. As a writer… as a copywriter and marketing consultant… I have to be up on the tools of my trade. True, too many blogs are glorified teenagers' diaries with more “noise” than “signal.” Or, as Seth Godin calls them, in his free ebook guide to blogs, Who's There: “cat blogs.” But there are growing numbers of useful marketing and writing blogs. And a growing number of small and big business blogs trying to put a human face on company PR. (See The Corporate Blogging Book, by blog expert Debbie Weil.)

Yes, blogs are ephemeral. But so is today's Wall St. Journal.

A lot of people debate what's better, a newsletter or a blog. But that's like asking which screwdriver is better, flat tip or Phillips? Any good toolbox needs both.

Spam isn't kosher in email or blogs. Many bloggers say email is dead. Granted, spam and viruses have made email marketing a minefield. But we all still use email. Both email newsletters and blogs have their advantages and disadvantages. But it's a lot faster to add a blog post than write a newsletter worth reading, saving and forwarding.

I'd like to point out two blogs that are popular and also help sell books. (Disclosure: Both blogs are by friends/clients.)

I suggested to Gil Student of Yashar Books that he start a company blog. But more important, Gil has his personal blog called “Hirhurim-Musings” that is read–and quoted–by a tightly knit group of (mostly Jewish) intellectuals. For years, Gil wrote the blog anonymously. I convinced him to “out” himself and to unobtrusively work promotional posts for Yashar Books into the blog.

Has it hurt readership? Not so's you'd notice. I just checked and three recent posts brought in 127, 142 and 253 comments! And Hirhurim continues to win Best Blogs awards consistently for three years running.

Hirhurim readers form the active core of Yashar Books' target market. They are the (pick your own metaphor): Powerful Sneezers; Mavens, Connectors and Salesmen; Network Hubs or Experts… that spread the word-of-mouth to others. And word-of-mouth is what we need.

Robert Avrech is a Hollywood screenwriter and author of a young adult novel: The Hebrew Kid and the Apache Maiden. I don't have any direct connection with Avrech's “Seraphic Secret” blog, except for being a reader and occasional commenter. But like most of his readers, I consider myself a friend. (Avrech calls his readers a “family”!) And I helped a bit with promoting the book. The blog has also won Best Personal Blog Awards several years running. While Seraphic Secret is personal, not promotional, it also is the main vehicle for marketing the book (even offering a free download!).

As Nick Usborne, author of Net Words, says,

A blog gives you the chance to reveal a much more personal voice. You can put aside the corporate posturing and shrug off the burden of your daily marketing “voice.” Instead, you can write in a way that is much closer to “one-on-one.”

Why blog? How about this thought: Nobody has ever become a fan of a brochure.


  • Anonymous said:

    I'm sorry I missed most of your week at the helm of IAOCblog.com. I was in Washington, D.C., teaching at PMA's Publishers University and attending the Book Expo America. On the day you posted this entry (Wednesday, May 17, 2006), I watched the book “The Hebrew Kid and the Apache Maiden” win the Benjamin Franklin Award for Best First Book of Fiction. That is a high honor, indeed! Congratulations to Seraphic Press and to you for helping raise awareness of that book using blogs.

  • Anonymous said:

    Thanks Steve,
    I wish I had something to do with The Hebrew Kid and the Apache Maiden winning the award. But that credit goes totally to Robert Avrech!
    Robert is very low-key in his promotion. Which makes his blogging a perfect vehicle–He invites friends to read the book!