What do bloggers have to say ebook campaign

The first campaign I ran at HP was in support of HP’s new (at that time) “What do you have to say?” campaign. With almost a year behind me on this campaign I thought I would lay out for you the creation and execution as well as what I would do differently with an extra years worth of experience behind me.

Internal Customers

At the time I was in the LaserJet Business (LJB) and was helping support their In House Marketing initiative (IHM). IHM was a simple value prop for the SMB: It’s cheaper to print small runs of their marketing material in house than sending the print work out. HP supported this initiative by providing free marketing templates and training’s on how to use basic design tools. The challenge for HP was being able to raise awareness around the initiative as well as to demonstrate how easy it was to create basic marketing materials.

I ended up partnering with our North American counter parts who had created a community on WetPaint’s platform. The community is still active today. The community was still new and initiatives around the consumer side of the community were going well but the SMB side had yet to take off. By leveraging our budgets and resources we were able to put together a fun little campaign.

External Partners

In order to pull this off we would need to partner with top business bloggers as well as an agency to coordinate the use of the bloggers material as well as the placing of ads. Fortunately for the top business blogs Federated Media handles all of that. We also used the agency that helped build the WetPaint community to create the ebooks and templates we would use for a contest.

An important point to realize here is that we were going to ask bloggers to let us leverage their brand and good will they’ve built up with their community in exchange for money. The way it works with Federated Media and the blogs they represent is FM will sell the “advertising” but the individual bloggers have the right to veto any ad that runs on their site. If the campaign sucked from the get go, no amount of money would get it to run.

Ultimately we were able to create value for the bloggers by not trying to hard sell anyone on HP products and provide the blogger greater exposure by highlighting their best content. Ultimately we made the campaign about the bloggers and their readers, not about HP.

Basically we wanted to join their party so we brought refreshments

Once we had created value for everyone we were able to get all the players on board and everyone agreeing with the plan.

WAIT NOT SO FAST!!! You’ve forgot something. I know what you savvy social media types are asking yourself: What about the customer?

  • The most important part is the customer. They have to receive more value than anyone else.
  • If you don’t have your customer in mind the whole time your program will suck by the time you get to this point.

Every part of this campaign was created with the customer in mind.

  • IHM was created to save the customer money.
  • The HP community was created to help bring the small business owner to a single place to share and collaborate with each other.
  • The reason these top bloggers are so successful is because they write with their customers in mind.

Executing the Campaign

(I always thought that companies liberal use of the word ‘execution’ is slightly ironic at times)

Now to the good stuff. In a nut shell the campaign went like this:

  • We took the best blog posts from the top business bloggers and re-purposed them on an HP community site.
  • We used ad units on those blogs to drive readers to the site to vote for their favorite posts under four different categories.
  • After the voting period we re-purposed the the winning blog posts into ebooks and offered them for free download.
  • We also made the ebook templates available for free so that people could create their own ebooks with their own material.
  • We ran new ads thanking the readers for their participation and alerting them to the free ebooks and templates.

I never thought of the campaign as an ‘ad buy’ even though that’s what it was. We bought ads on bloggers sites. My goal however was to use ad dollars to bring value to a community. This was one of the biggest lessons I learned.

The other was, when working with bloggers don’t focus on the ‘A-list’. The bloggers that were the best to work with weren’t the Mike Arrington’s or Guy Kawasaki’s. Don’t get me wrong, these are great guys and their content was invaluable to the contest. The blogger’s that were the best to work with were the Anita Campbell’s and John Jantsch’s. These were the bloggers that got behind the campaign. They blogged about it. They encouraged their readers to go vote for them. This drove more traffic to the site. This gave valuable links to the site that we didn’t have to ‘pay’ for.

What’s the ROI?

You can’t talk about social media for very long before some annoying person like myself asks about the ROI and how you measured success. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Success depends on what you measure.

LJB wanted to drive awareness around the In House Marketing initiative. They were using a Share of Voice (SOV) measurement that compared the relative “buzz” we gained online to the relative buzz our competitors had.

Our North American interactive teams measured click through rate (CTR) on the ad units and unique visitors to the site.  I also collected stats on engagement once people came to the site. What percentage of people voted? How many people download ebooks? How many people went to HP.com to check out our additional In House Marketing resources?

I can’t tell you exact numbers (ok technically I could but I’m not going to) but on SOV, CTR and unique visitors we crushed our usual benchmarks.

  • We had 4-10 times the benchmark CTR.
  • Our section of the HP community had the highest number of unique visitors during the campaign.
  • We didn’t have any benchmarks for engagement but we did posted much higher numbers than we anticipated.

Overall the campaign was a huge success. Not bad for my first one at HP.

What would I do different?

The campaign was great. We learned a lot and everyone was happy. But in hindsight there are some things that I would have liked to do differently. If I were ruler of the World and could re-do this as the perfect campaign I would have:

Not done this as a campaign but instead have done this as a launch to a whole site dedicated to educating the small business about how to more cost effectively manager the creation of marketing materials. Tips and tricks for using and editing templates. When to get the help of a professional designer and when to DIY it. When does it make sense to print it yourself vs sending it out. What’s the proper use of color. When do you use color vs go for black and white.

This may not sound very exciting but the office managers who are usually tasked with this work get very excited about this idea during market research.

Ultimately I would have liked to have small business upload their own ebooks and done another competition around that. I would have loved to create a section of the site that was similar to WordPress themes, where professional and DIY designers could upload there own templates for use by others.

I would have loved to be able to leverage the momentum we built and continued to grow it. That’s where social media shows its true power.

Finally, while the WetPaint site is great for what the North American team wanted it for, I feel that it had some limitations for what we wanted. I wouldn’t have gone with an off the shelf solution, I would have had something custom developed. I’m not saying that everyone should custom build their own platform, sometimes off the shelf is a perfect fit, for my purposes I would have wanted something different.

Here are the ebooks if you’d like to check them out.

All Winners

HP ebook all winners - Get more Business Documents


HP ebok marketing - Get more Business Documents


HP ebook productivity - Get more Business Documents


HP ebook entrepreneur - Get more Business Documents

Here are the free templates. Help yourself.
Template 1

ebook template 1 - Get more Business Documents

Template 2

ebook template 2 - Get more Business Documents

Template 3

ebook template 3 - Get more Business Documents

Template 4

ebook template 4 - Get more Business Documents

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Random Thoughts 01/28/2009

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What is a conversation anyway?

Twitter is like the crazy girlfriend: You like being with her because she’s hot but you really love telling your friends the crazy stories.

Seriously, what would we all blog about if it wasn’t for Twitter?

My favorite Philly area tech blogger, Regular Geek, has an interesting post on Twitter and Facebook. Status Updates Are Not Conversation | Regular Geek Robert was admittedly cranky when he wrote the post and I attribute this to the fact that I actually don’t agree with him for once.

His basic premise that Twitter status updates are not conversations is only partially true.

I completely agree that using Twitter and conversations as synonyms is just wrong. Robert sais, and many of his commenters agree, that Twitter is a horrible place to have a conversation. While I understand their POV, I disagree with it. I love the conversations I have on Twitter and watch people all day long have meaningful conversations and debates on every topic under the sun from music, politics, religion, business, technology, food, and thousands of other topics.

Is a single Tweet a conversation? No. Are multiple tweets between two or more people a conversation? Yes, absolutely.

Is Twitter an ideal place for a conversation? Depends on the conversation. Is a bar lounge an ideal place for a conversation? Depends on the conversation.

His annoyance with Twitter raising more money at such a large round is totally understandable. In fact I raised a similar concern. But scaling a company is expensive.  Twitter was started by experienced serial entrepreneurs. It also  has some extremely smart VC’s behind it. They have a view into the company that we don’t. We don’t know what Twitter or its investors are planning. I can only hope it’s something good. I want to see Twitter succeed as much as the next user does.

His other premise is that Facebook could put Twitter out of business if they really wanted to. He makes it sound like Facebook and Twitter are direct competitors. I don’t see this at all. Twitter has a very specific purpose, Facebook has a very different purpose. In my point of view this would be like saying MySpace and YouTube are competitors. Do they compete? Kind of. Will or could one put the other out of business? No way. There is more than enough room for multiple social platforms.

Twiter has always taken the approach of pushing it’s information away from the site. Facebook has always taken a very different approach of capturing and keeping as much of it’s information as possible. I also don’t see Facebook as any better (or worse) of a place for conversations. He also encourages Twitter to take an acquisition offer from Facebook should they get one. They did get one. It was all for Facebook stock (which is way overvalued IMO) and I think they very rightly turned it down.

The truth of the matter is that I got bored with Facebook years ago. I actually never really got to into it. Some people love it. Some people love Twitter. While other people are aready bored with Twitter and have moved onto FriendFeed. Just like all businesses, there will be multiple players, some will dominate the market while others successfully serve niches. Either way it’s fun to watch and provides endless blog fodder.

I love Robert’s post on Regular Geek and normally agree with (almost) everything he writes. I highly recommend you subscribe to his blog if you haven’t already.

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25 things about Tac

There’s was a meme going around Facebook and FreindFeed called 25 things. I was tagged 3 different times on Facebook (I blame Justin Foster for being the first) before I finally caved and decided to participate but I figured why just post if on Facebook when I could use this as blog fodder?

So here it is 25 things you may or may not known about me:

  1. I have been married for 13 years and have 3 children
  2. I used to own a skateboard shop in Vegas
  3. Before that I was Mountain Bike tour guide
  4. I was born in Homer, Alaska
  5. My favorite color is black
  6. I own 5 pairs of black Converse
  7. My favorite candy is Hot Tamale’s
  8. I lettered in Choir in High School
  9. I’m an Eagle Scout
  10. I have a mole in my left eye (it looks like a red dot)
  11. I love books about post-apocalyptic futures.
  12. My favorite fiction author is Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club)
  13. Up until 9th grade I wanted to be an Astronaut
  14. I’m an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saint
  15. My Junior High guidance councilor told me I’d never graduate High School
  16. I secretly think I suffer from Hypomania
  17. I like Indie and electronica music
  18. I HATE country music more than anything
  19. I could eat pepperoni pizza everyday and never get sick of it
  20. I am horrible at remembering names (really, really bad)
  21. I have an addiction to office supplies, esp notebooks and pens
  22. I am a genius (my IQ is over 140) and I don’t like talking about it
  23. I am having a really hard time coming up with 25 things
  24. I have never had a role model or a hero
  25. I have never owned a subscription to a newspaper

Wow, this was much harder than I thought it would be. For someone who publishes so many of his thoughts daily I also found this extremely uncomfortable.

So I guess the way that this is supposed to work is now I tag other people to pass this burden on to. I would like to tag the people that I’m speaking with this week.  Sam Swenson, Korye Logan, Cosmin Ghiurau, fellow HP bloggers, David Heller and  Pete Johnson. Tag you’re it.

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Random Thoughts 01/27/2009

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I will consume and use you

Praying mantis eating cricket

Image by Martin LaBar via Flickr

Some people have a hard time being called a consumer or a user. I don’t have that problem.

I consume/I use

As human being it is essential to our survival (and I would even say our mental well being) to consume. Food, resources, time, money, electricity, etc.

I use your Web site for my own personal enjoyment/gain. I use the information you give me to make myself smarter and I probably won’t give anything back.

I’ll use your freemium service and probably never pay you a dime (even though most of the services I would pay for don’t charge). I read your blog and never click the adds.

I use Google search, mail, calendar, iGoogle, Google Reader, and everything else you throw out there (except Orkut) and never click on an ad.

I’ve never donated to Wikipedia. Have you?


We’ve even invented a new word for those of you who have issues with the reality of your consumption habits: Prosumer.

You think we created a hybrid word from producer and consumer but really all it means is professional consumer.

Prosumers consume phones, laptops and other geek toys like most people consume double venti late’s. (And don’t even get me started on how they consume those.)

Get Real

Many of you like to point out that you produce. You blog, Twitter, upload photo’s, video and life stream. Let’s get real. Do you know what being a 1% really means? It means that if you blog, comment, photo, video, life stream you’re still only producing 1% as much as you consume.

If you take offense to this post please see my previous post.

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Don’t take yourself so seriously

CarnivalFor an industry that’s surrounded by viral videos, Digg, BoingBoing, LOL Cats and Bacon we sure like to take ourselves seriously.

Maybe it comes from years of no one taking us seriously or maybe it’s because we think corporate America (aka the guys with money) won’t want to talk to us unless we’re very severe.

Hanging out with you guys online for the last couple years has taught me that you’re all a lot of fun. Sometimes I think we forget to include that in our work.

So with all the talk about the economic crisis, the thousands of jobs being lost, the Billions of dollars that we’re giving to people who can’t run their business, I just wanted to remind us all to have a little fun along the way.

Image by Rickydavid via Flickr

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Is there an end in site for companies that raise large VC rounds?

It scars me when I see social networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and now Twitter raising large (read huge) follow on rounds. Twitter Raising New Cash At $250 Million Valuation

If you raise VC money, you have to have an exit at some point. If you’re raising this kind of money it makes it really hard to get acquired, which leaves an IPO as the only viable option. In this market, with the banks in the situation they are in, who’s going to back a public offering.

Either these guys are going to have to figure out something or some people are going to loose an awful lot of money.

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Random Thoughts 01/26/2009

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Random Thoughts 01/24/2009

  • Recommendations are a great way to help people find relevant content in a sea of noise. It’s interesting to see Digg finally implement this. It makes me wonder though what will be the next innovation in recommendation. I’m thinking something along the lines of Pandora for online content.

    tags: digg, recommendation, ncb

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