Monday, February 23, 2009

Blogging is back in the spotlight

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The Orlando Business Journal has an interesting story up today about a blogger in South Florida who increased his business revenue by 20 percent just by writing a blog. I say "just," but it's not as simple for most executives as it should be to get into the blogging habit, for a number of reasons.

First, blogging is considered one of the New Media, and there are still plenty of executives out there who are not familiar with it. Many believe it to be complicated when it's really as simple as e-mail.

Secondly, there are some concerns about compliance, particularly for publicly traded companies. How can firms ensure that the information released through a blog does not expose the company's plan prematurely? The SEC is now allowing blog posts to be used as a method of releasing official company news, making it important to these firms that what is released there is carefully controlled.

Finally, many executives become very concerned when they are informed that the success of the blog depends, in part, upon allowing the conversation to get out of control. If the messages are too tightly controlled, no one will engage with the company through the blog. When the company loosens up, it becomes very difficult to ensure that all comments conform with the company's view of itself, it executives and brands.

During good times, these concerns are enough to stop new media efforts in their tracks. But when the economy is down severly, as it is now, a 20 percent increase in revenue suddenly makes the effort seem worthwhile.

But how can you make it easy? More on that in the next post.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Making financial services video easier

The Amazing Internet

One of the more exciting mediums captured under the umbrella of New Media is internet video. While it doesn't have to be expensive, it generally is, especially when companies are desperate to control every aspect of their messaging. When it comes to losing control of the conversation, banks, in particular, have not been eager to face those risks and turning their executives lose to talk freely on videotape is just pretty scary. Now, you can let someone else do it for you.

MindBlazer, Charlotte, N.C., says that demand for its interactive content has been high. The company is a marketing technology company that leverages interactive video and new media for the financial industry.

MindBlazer, says it experienced increased demand in 2008 for its educational, interactive content as more banks and credit unions recognized the need to leverage this emerging channel. We wrote about the company last October.

“It is exciting to see financial institutions empower their Web site media to reach beyond traditional communication, expanding the use and returns of the Internet channel,” Ryan Brown, MindBlazer president and CEO, said. “Financial institutions, like in other industries, are embracing new interactive Web media in a professional capacity as a business strategy to help companies stay abreast of consumer attitude and perceptions, as well as improve communication with the public. For the financial industry in particular, new media can be an educational resource for products and services and a driver to encourage adoption of these offerings.”

In 2008, MindBlazer grew to provide more than 140 financial institutions with a variety of interactive media tools, and introduced MoneyMinutesTV, a syndicated series of education-based interactive videos designed to inform the public about financial products and services, while helping banks and credit unions drive sales and service activations online.
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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

You gotta get their attention

Some say that with the right marketing message, well targeted to the right market segment with the right value proposition, you can sell anything. Ice cubes to Eskimoes. That might have been true at one time. But that was a quieter time.

Today, there is so much noise in the marketplace, it's impossible to sell anything if you can't first find a way to get your target market's attention.

In the mortgage lending space, the loans are sold off from wholesale lender (who bought it from a broker) to Wall Street conduit to mortgage-backed securities investor. No one along that chain had ultimate responsibility for the value of that individual deal. At least that's the way the business was run until the subprime mortgage crisis melted down the industry.

Today, most loans are sold to the federal government, in one way or another. No investor wants to buy fraudulent loans, so it's important to screen all applications for fraudulent information. But getting lenders to buy the reports requires vendors to get their attention.

Enter Interthinx, Agoura Hills, Calif. To raise interest in the company's offerings, it recently launched a series of web-based video programs, or webisodes. Based loosely on the old Mystery Science Theater 3000 model, the videos are fun to watch, even if they do provide some real information lenders can use. Check out the first in the series here: