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The 7 Pillars of Digital Marketing Blog

Best practices, training and innovations in Digital Strategy.

21 Attributes of The Perfect Agency

March 17, 2014 – 6:23 pm
Arman Rousta

The Perfect Agency…

  1. Gets above-average, positive ROI results most of the time.
  2. Increases Enterprise Value (EV) for its clients.
  3. Has low staff turnover.
  4. Has a high client satisfaction rate.
  5. Has high contract renewal rates.
  6. Has high referral rates.
  7. Feels like more of a partner than a vendor to clients.
  8. Makes its clients and client staff smarter.
  9. Develops talent, at every level.
  10. Has seamless knowledge flow throughout its organization.
  11. Reinvents itself constantly.
  12. Has healthy and well-balanced employees.
  13. Operates in a flexible, agile fashion, without bureaucracy.
  14. Is a good corporate citizen, in its community.
  15. Discovers and invents new methodologies, constantly remaining ahead of the curve and seeking to improve upon how its services are delivered.  They invest in Thought Leadership.
  16. Inspires everyone involved with their projects.
  17. Has staff that sustains a positive, can-do, multi-disciplinary approach towards projects and their own professional development.
  18. Doesn’t put out cookie cutter work and solutions.
  19. Has fun and gets things done – at the same time.
  20. Doesn’t make excuses or employ excessive salesmanship.  They keep their promises.
  21. Doesn’t “fake it til they make it” – they’re making it all the time, and it shows.



The power of marketing language: when it is time to say “STOP”!

September 21, 2012 – 12:36 pm

The rising popularity of social media represents a real opportunity for many businesses with one condition: to be used in an intelligent manner in such a way to boost their brand.

With millions of people chatting, sharing pictures and networking, companies have a real chance to use these platforms to pitch their products or get their customers’ feedback. If companies do know how to use these social platforms in a correct manner, they will arrive in a position where their customers will create/produce the advertising ads for them and then share the new media products with their friends. All these – for free.

But what happens if something goes wrong?

What happens if there is too much creativity and things get out of control?

It is very important to understand that same tools that can bring your brand to a point it has never been before, can carry many risks that sometimes can be unpredicted.

For instance, Toyota Matrix -   the advertising company that worked for this client decided to create an innovative social media campaign with real-life elements… Unfortunately, no one knew what this “high-end creative process’ would lead to. Basically, their concept was based on the famous MTV show (Punk’d). According to the plan, a prospective buyer of a Matrix would single out a friend to be the target of a prank. This may be the perfect scenario for some free marketing across social media channels.

Things got out of control when one of the targets – Amber Duick, received a series of emails from a fictious British soccer hooligan (Sebastian Bowler). He told her in the emails he would come to visit her and will bring out his pit bull as well. One of these emails contained a fake bill for damages made by Bowler in a hotel room. According to the information Duick got, the soccer hooligan had left as contact information her email address.

The consequence was easy to guess… Duick filed a lawsuit of $10 million.

To defend themselves, Toyota and their advertising company considered the claim as being “”entirely without merit adding that Duick had already granted her permission to receive e-mails and other communications from Toyota.

While the plaintiff was terrified – according to her lawyer, the next question is….had the email specified the entire process was an advertising campaign? If so, the woman would not have been so scared….

Again, beyond creativity and beyond any kind of sophisticated strategy it has to be about marketing language!

This is one of the situations when it makes a difference of $10 million (damage that can be counted) but the brand damage as a whole cannot be estimated because it is reflected not only in social media (number of impressions or other variables) but also in sales.

This is the story of ‘Your Other You’ campaign that failed because the language was inappropriate and because no one took into consideration that such an approach is so unpredictable and consequently, marketers have to be very careful when they judge any kind of approach as being creative –crazy –not interesting-risky. In other words, this is a part of marketing where focus groups cannot really help just like new scripts for a indie movie. You cannot predict, you cannot test your customer’s taste – you risk a lot. This being said, do not put additional pressure on your campaign by trying to pass over the edge but rather create a positive context and engage your prospective customer into it rather than building a real life situation that is turning into a sinister joke…..


How Important is Industry (Domain) Knowledge in SEO?

September 10, 2012 – 3:20 am
Arman Rousta

Think back to some of your favorite Mad Men episodes.  Like the ones where the creative team sits around a boardroom to brainstorm on a strategy for their presidential client, Richard Nixon.  How truly knowledgeable were those marketers on politics.  Not very (knowledgeable) in my opinion.  Now, while things might have changed quite a bit, with the level of specialized industry research, and access to information via the Internet, enabling “smart marketers” and niche agencies to become domain experts, the question still arises amidst marketers at all levels – “How much (previous) domain knowledge is necessary to be effective on a specific project?”

Take an SEO project for example, on an esoteric field, like Quantum Physics, that nobody within a particular agency has any prior experience with.  If you were the CEO, how would you tackle this challenge, keeping in mind budgetary limitations as well as client satisfaction?  Here are your choices:

  1. Utilize the best, most adaptable SEO Specialist that you have on board, and have him (or her) dive in, increase his industry knowledge (which will take him hours of additional time, outside of the project scope – because no client wants to pay you to learn about their industry), ask the client tons of questions during the Discovery process and in general “fake it til he makes it”.
  2. Recruit an industry-trained, freelance copywriter or author (at your own cost), that has at least some prior SEO experience; the copywriter, being a domain expert, will work hand-in-hand with your SEO team, to fill in the gaps.
  3. Express your concerns to the client, and let them know about these two options, soliciting their input and possibly, additional budgeting, to accommodate the need for greater domain expertise from the SEO team.  Given their natural knowledge about Quantum Physics, perhaps the client can allocate someone from their own staff to fill in the “domain knowledge gap.”
  4. Other – I’m sure there are other ways about it; feel free to leave ideas and suggestions in the Comments of this post, and I will try my best to give my thoughts on them.

Many problems arise in Scenario 1, when attempting to go with a top-notch tactical expert, who has to dig into pages of content that are on a foreign, technical topic.  Meanwhile, Scenario 2 can also be quite hard, especially if the domain expert is a novice SEO practitioner, that will require a lot of training and hand-holding.  In reality, you see a mix of all three noted approaches (above) in response to “new territory” client opportunities.  In a future post, I’ll go deeper into the Pros and Cons of each.  There is no one right answer for all situations.  This topic comes up across the board, on the SEO front, as well as Social Media, Content Marketing and Web UX Design fronts.  It is quite a hot topic in the agency world, especially when it comes to regulated industries, such as Financial Services and Healthcare.  Although industry specialization has evolved quite a bit since the Mad Men era, it continues to present unique challenges, including business strategy questions, ethics, the need for greater professional development, HR issues and margin pressure.

This question is also quite important for marketers as individuals, from a career development standpoint.  Should you go deeper into a particular industry, to create a nice for yourself (ie. “Travel & Tourism SEO Expert”) or remain as broad as possible, taking on different projects and diversifying your domain knowledge?  We’re going to leave it there for now.  Hopefully, I’ve given you something meaningful to ponder!



Websites Made of Pure Chocolate

September 7, 2011 – 2:13 pm
Damjan Dano

If you were told that in order to promote your product better you should make a website made only of real images of your products, you might throw out that idea as insane… but shortly after we show you these two awesome case studies, I’m sure you will reconsider your initial decision and will be more open to such creative suggestions.

Whittaker’s Chocolate, a New Zealand chocolatier and the Portuguese Sagres Preta, maker of chocolate stout beer, bravely decided to create their website only using chocolate, their main ingredient.

Everything from the interface design to the navigation and the social icons on their website is made of chocolate!


The idea is brilliant, and with this approach these two companies are showing that advertising should be fun and honest, not boring, false or evil.

To better promote this initiative, the companies also accompanied the campaign with videos of how the websites were done – from idea to execution. Check out one of the videos that went viral on the web:

Delicious, isn’t it!? :)
If you would like to reinvent your own website and find a creative way to promote your products like these two brave companies, feel free to get in touch with us.

As a final thought, I’ll just share this excellent quote from the great Jerry Della Femina, who said:

“I honestly believe that advertising is the most fun you can have with your clothes on.”


Facts About The Digital Boomer

May 2, 2011 – 4:34 pm
Abdul Fattah Ismail

Generalizations are often made about the baby boomers.  They are fearful of technology. They do not have the energy or memory skills to successfully navigate the blurry technological advancement of our time.  Parents just don’t understand has been a running phrase etched in our skulls.    

This piece from Direct Marketing News, however, tells us a different story.  This generation makes up 26% of the current population according to the U.S. Census Bureau for a total of 79 million Americans.  They also hold several of the most powerful positions in our global marketplace. Some luminaries include Paul Allen and the President among others, who manage 50% of the country’s discretionary spending.  They feel that the interactive marketing community is ignoring them, and want retribution.

As the writer Anthony Franco asks us, how do we engage this demographic who have such depth of influence? Everything must be kept simple.  Your online advertising campaigns must carry a simple message with clear direction of your business objectives. Your blog or email newsletter can alert your key customers of news updates. Daily tips can be released by the real-time channel, depending on response rates.  Social media portals like Twitter and video sharing sites work great when the message correlates with the product.  Your blog should also have a link that goes straight to customer service for troubleshooting. A labyrinthe website with useless landing pages can really hurt your impression with this demographic. Then the sales do not flow into your business.

Baby boomers will spend time reviewing your site if they know that assistance is available. Web developers must design applications to match behavioral patterns of their customer.  Links with partnerships are always good if your website does not have the answer.

Like any marketer, being prescient is the key to optimizing strategy.  A good website rich in keywords does not hurt either.


The Evolution of Mobile Advertising, Or Something Like That

April 7, 2011 – 3:09 pm
Abdul Fattah Ismail

I stumbled on this futuristic advertising spot from Techland earlier and thought I would share it. According to the piece, the software used is 3D projection mapping. 3D projection mapping is where objects are used as projection screens instead of traditional flat screens. In shorthand, you are looking at three dimensional points in a two dimensional plane.

Last year, large corporations like Sony, Nokia, and BMW rolled out the technique in campaigns. This year with mobile devices selling in greater quantities, count on more surfacing in the viral network. Advertisers know that stimulation on an interactive level is the key to content becoming king.

As the lead article points out, the iPhone is left out and makes the irony known.  Without the iPhone, we don’t have the Android. This campaign for Fanta in Dubai is also intriguing. Fanta Ad, Dubai.



Joe Chernov of Eloqua Discusses Personal Branding

March 16, 2011 – 1:06 pm
Abdul Fattah Ismail

Our friends at Software Advice are based down in Austin, Texas. As many of you know, the South By Southwest Interactive Conference just concluded on Monday. Amidst all of the networking and gift bags, they started a video series with Joe Chernov, the Director of Content Marketing at Eloqua.  Eloqua specializes in Revenue Performance Management to improve production from your marketing and sales systems.  

In a three-part series, Chernov talks with Software Advice about personal brands and media.  He talks about their value and how Eloqua can assist with corporations through their integration of personal branding.

You can follow the first part below.


Guest Column On Young Entrepreneur From CEO Arman Rousta

February 25, 2011 – 4:44 pm
Abdul Fattah Ismail

Blueliner CEO Arman Rousta has written a guest column for the online community Young Entrepreneur titled, “Raising Your Digital IQ“.  In this piece, Rousta discusses his experience maximizing the use of technology for the benefit of his clients. Blueliner Marketing has worked with all sizes of corporations to leverage their business mission in the digital world.

The interactive marketing rules are constantly rewritten. Is your digital IQ growing? Interested readers, click on the logo to get more insight into strategies to engage your small business. This is the first of a monthly installment for Rousta as a columnist.  We look for it to be an engaging relationship.

Young Entrepreneur, launched in 1999, is one of the largest online communities for entrepreneurs worldwide.  The website reaches a unique collection of investors, startup CEOs, programmers, mentors, and so forth.


Software Advice Launches Marketing Automation Software Guide

December 8, 2010 – 3:29 pm
Abdul Fattah Ismail

Small businesses and organizations need to find the right marketing strategies for solid ROI.  Once this is settled, then the true spirit of B2B (business to business) marketing practices will be fulfilled.

Our friends at Software Advice have designed a new website, Marketing Automation Software Guide, that aims to achieve your solutions with aplomb.  As I recently noted on the blog, consumer behavior towards e-commerce is making waves onto the cyberspace and it is crucial for businesses to use the proper to engage them.  We know that social media is growing as a means of intimate communication for managers wishing to solve customer issues.  We also know that web analytics are becoming a measuring platform to gage online activity.  Marketing automation, however, plays a larger part in synchronizing the cycle between seller and purchaser.

Marketers will get an embarrassment of riches from a solid market automation system.  They can track online behavior, manage sophisticated campaigns, and sales intelligence applications.  All these systems operate under the umbrella of Revenue Performance Management (RPM).  RPM seeks to optimize the transaction cycle for a more efficient level of engagement with consumers which leads to brand loyalty, resulting in consistent sales growth.  The marketing automation website will also improve forecasting for chief marketing and executive officers.  Some particular features should strike not only officers, but managers. Here they are, courtesy of Lauren Carlson, CRM Market Analyst.

  • User Reviews – We write original reviews of leading marketing automation software systems. We’re kicking off the site with 12 reviews, including Marketo, Pardot and Aprimo, to name a few. Visitors will also contribute reviews if they have first-hand experience with a product.
  • Technology Guides – Instructive articles and primers on the latest technologies for B2B marketers. These guides will help you get up-to-speed fast on the market. For example, “Best Practices for Success with Marketing Automation Software.”
  • Side-by-Side Comparisons – Detailed, side-by-side comparisons of the leading products for each market segment. We’re kicking off the site with comparisons of lead nurturing systems and marketing automation software.
  • Software Advisory Board – We welcome industry experts and end-users to share their opinions and experience with our visitors. If you or one of your colleagues is interested, please let us know.

Click on the logo above for more insight into this promising software.


Free Copy of The Shift Age Digital Forecast Report

October 29, 2010 – 12:20 pm
Abdul Fattah Ismail

Blueliner, LLC is proud to present the Digital Forecast Report, written by Blueliner CEO Arman Rousta.  The Digital Forecast is offered in tandem with the Shift Age Trend Report, written by futurist and speaker David Houle.  The Digital Forecast aims to answer several questions lurking in the future of digital marketing about social media, online advertising, and the overall consumer experience in the world wide web.  At the moment, we are offering the Digital Forecast at no cost to a select number of recipients.

Some of the topics covered in depth include social gaming, Twitter, Wolfram Alpha, Augmented Reality, and the future of Search. For those who want to improve their business practices in digital marketing, this report is a head start.  The Digital Forecast allows you to quickly and effectively support customers in identifying and qualifying new growth opportunities.  Click the picture for more details.


The Blueliner Team

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