I’m being stalked – in a good way

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Last night I was shopping online, and headed to Busted Tees to get my sister’s boyfriend a shirt he’s been wanting. I went ahead and ordered it (as well as 2 other gifts – it was free shipping for 3 shirts, I’m a sucker), checked out, and went on my merry way to see if anyone has become a fan of MaineToday.com’s business page in Facebook. On the way there I hit my profile, and look what I saw on my mini-feed (see the last item):


No kidding. I was floored. This is not a big retailer with oodles of money, they basically promote themselves on sites like Collegehumor.com and the like. How the heck did they do that? I’m not a fan of their business page, and they didn’t ask for a Facebook profile. I didn’t click from an ad on Facebook. My only guess is they matched up email addresses somehow … I am so mystified. But it caught my attention, and they are doing something beyond what I thought was capable. Now everyone knows what I got at Busted Tees. At least Steve isn’t on Facebook, he’s a MySpace junkie.

More on Yelp

I’m going to post on behalf of a colleague of mine, Carl Natale, who sent this email out to some of the marketing community here in Portland:

I’m trying to spark some conversation via blogging here. Anybody and everybody can take a stab at this. But there is a user review site called yelp.com. It seems pretty big in the major markets but not so much in Maine. But they do have some Portland reviews. We aim to do the same with our dining section (http://entertainment.mainetoday.com/dining).

In San Francisco, a cafe got tired of negative reviews and tried to lash back in strange way:
http://gesterling.wordpress.com/2007/10/16/no-yelpers-says-one-local-cafe/

There are a few things here. One, this kind of word-of-keyboard is big. Customers are reviewing and reading user reviews. It’s so big that this cafe blames its woes on it. I have a stake in this but to me it’s a sign that this is here to stay.

Two, there has to be a better strategy to deal with this. Yes, businesses can improve customer service and quality instead of trying to stop customers from “yelping.” But should these user review sites become part of the marketing strategy. Can you do that without having employees pose as customers and post reviews? How do you respond?

I applauded one restaurant’s approach to a newspaper review earlier this year. Does this make sense for a business?
http://www.mainetoday.com/comments/015096.html
http://pressherald.mainetoday.com/story.php?id=129538&ac=Audience

Back to the user review part of this. How should these sites figure into your marketing strategy?

This e-mail is the blogging equivalent of a jump ball. Anyone can go for it. So forward it around too. I’m looking forward to reading what you have to say.

Comments are welcome.

Audience Development "Playbook"

In case you missed it – from today’s post on the Facebook group that will be going away:

I’m working with Sean Polay, Audience Development Director at Ottoway Newspapers, on an Audience Development Playbook. And book it will be. We narrowed it down to 3 levels (similar to iTunes mixes): Basics, Next Steps, and Deep Cuts. We spent an hour on the phone this afternoon figuring out the pieces under each. For example, metatags and email newsletters would be Basics; feeds to aggregators, widgets, social bookmarking would be considered Next Steps; and developing and fostering relationships with local bloggers would part of Deep Cuts. Of course Apple wouldn’t be too happy with us using these terms, but we’re using them for now to keep us organized.