Anne Holland

Viral Marketing Heaven: Homemade Video Gets 2.5 Million Downloads

October 31st, 2005

Here’s a viral-by-mistake marketing story you gotta love.

This summer alt pop band OK Go were getting ready for a tour to promote their second album.

So, there they were in a Chicago-area backyard practicing a dance routine to go with one of their songs, ‘A Million Ways.’ The problem with practicing a dance routine in a backyard (as opposed to, say, in a dance studio) is there are no mirrors, so you can’t see how you look.

Which is why the guys decided to tape the thing on a video camera set up on a tripod. They did their three-minute routine a few times and then checked the video.

One of their girlfriends thought the video looked so fun that she begged them to release it as their official video instead of the “real” video they were planning to do with a professional director. The band laughed at her. Thereupon, she posted the video online and emailed a couple of friends to get a second opinion.

Two point five million downloads later, the boys found themselves invited to perform the dance live on Good Morning America and The Tonight Show.

They’ve also begun receiving emails from fans with links to homemade videos of other groups of men performing the dance. (Apparently it’s a big hit at weddings.)

Since reality hits a note with the fans, now the band have continued by launching a written plus audio blog (aka podcast) of their tour that’s pretty darn fun, too.

The lesson here — keep it real. That doesn’t mean handheld imperfect-on-purpose videocam shots we all got used to in “cool” ads in the late 90s. It means be really genuine as opposed to faux genuine.

This, however, can be incredibly difficult when you’re a marketer on a schedule with a campaign to get out (or approve.) “OK from 10 a.m.-11a.m. I have to write heartfelt copy. Then from 11-12 we’ll do a heartfelt design session.” Yeah, right.

You wind up getting slick, and your enthusiasm for whatever you’re marketing becomes strained, improbable. Which is when language like “The Leader” and “Solution” creep in as exclamation marks meant to gloss over our lack of connection with either the product and/or the marketplace. I don’t have a solution for that, beyond take a deep breath, take a walk over to the service department, and shoot the breeze with a customer or two to get back in touch with their needs. Your campaign has to serve the customer directly, not just your deadline.

Anyway, here’s a link to the site with the dance video, enjoy!

Anne Holland

Feeling Dorky — 10 Tips on Presenting at Webcasts and Live Teleconferences (Photos Included)

October 24th, 2005

This morning as you read this, I’ll be standing in front of a podium at our live “in person” Summit in Boston. And I’ll be worrying a lot about … picking my nose in public.

It’s incredibly stupid. Years ago I read an interview where rock star Sting said the giant video screens at concerts make him nervous he’ll slip up, pick his nose and be horribly embarrassed in front of thousands of people.

For some reason that stuck with me, and although I am *not* a nose picker, that’s the dumb thing I find myself fretting about at conferences.

Luckily for my stress-level, this year I’ve mainly presented live at virtual events such as webinars and teleconferences. Unfortunately, even in the virtual event world, opportunities for being a dork abound.

Here are my top 10 tips for any of you who also have to give “virtual” speeches: (Note: Looking for photos? Scroll to the bottom).

#1. Nobody can see your arms waving

I’m the queen of gesticulation — waving my arms with excitement as I speak. (And all too frequently knocking over water glasses in the process, but that’s another story.)

If you’re doing a webinar or telephone event, nobody can see you. On the other hand, they can see their co-workers, phone call-waiting flashes and incoming email. Your voice has to be so compelling that it carries them away from their office distractions.

So I’ve learned to try to take the energy away from my arms and put it more into my voice.

#2. Alternate male and female speakers

Nothing’s worse than presenting by yourself for 60 minutes straight. You’ll end up exhausted and worried everyone listening was bored by that endless monologue no matter how peppy it was.

Get yourself a co-host. Better yet, get yourself a co-host of the opposite sex. That way the overt change in voice keeps your listeners’ attention.

#3. Don’t trust your co-host to show up

On three occasions in the past six months, whoever was co-hosting with me failed to make the date. Once I didn’t know until after the speech had started. Ack!

The problem is, once you get used to having a co-host around, you can get a bit lazy. You only have to cover, say 35 minutes, and count on him for the rest. Suddenly there you are with a whopping 60 minutes of air time and only 35 minutes of something to say.

I’ve learned two lessons: keep written notes on what my co-host is going to say that’s not on the slides. Also, don’t be afraid to end a little early. Better to give folks a quick-but-juicy presentation than have streeeeetched it out and bored them to death.

#4. Keep printouts of your presentation on hand

Invariably your office Web connection will go down someday while you’re in the middle of giving a speech. Nothing is worse than staring at a blank screen while inanely talking, hoping like crazy you’ll remember off the top of your head what the next five slides contain.

Keep a printed out copy of the presentation. Plus, arrange a codeword or secret phrase with a co-presenter or moderator to let them know you can’t move the slides along anymore (if you were in charge of that).

#5. Post a PDF copy of the presentation online *beforehand*

Also invariably a few attendees will not be able to see the slides being presented on the screen (almost no matter what system you’re using).

I’ve learned to create a PDF of the presentation and have our production folks post it to a handy page online. Then I try to make an announcement in the first five minutes, and also on the half hour, letting folks know they should “zap off an email to customer service for your slides if you can’t see them.”

We usually get a handful of takers, so it’s well worth the trouble.

#6. Never start a presentation “on the hour”

Watching the live attendee count can be unnerving. One second you have 177 people, the next 173 and you think, ‘My golly, what did I say?!” So, I try to ignore that part of the webinar screen.

However, the live counts have taught me never ever to start a presentation until at least two minutes past the hour. Just like meetings in real life, most people don’t show up on time.

#7. Don’t go over your officially allotted time

Incredibly ignorant of me — I used to think if I went over the official time by say 10 minutes people would not mind because they were getting extra information. More value – right? Nope.

Most marketers are too busy and heavily scheduled to enjoy meetings that run overtime, no matter how useful the information being presented is. It’s not respectful to run long and I’m trying my darndest never to do it again.

BTW: Always rehearse an entire speech live and time it before you give it for real.

I’ve found the less experienced my co-host is, the more likely they’ll want to pack in way too many slides and info for the time allotted. Rule of thumb — one slide for every two to four minutes is best. More often means your content is too “lite” or your speech is too jammed.

#8. Resist using live chat or Q&A during the main speech

Webinar companies include ongoing Q&A and live chat with the presentation because the tech’s not that hard to build. However, just because it’s possible to do, doesn’t mean it’s smart.

No one can speak effectively and compellingly and answer off-the-cuff questions in the non-Q&A section of their speech. You wind up sounding disjointed and flustered. Plus, if you wait until your co-host is speaking to dash off written answers to folks, it’s rude and disrespectful of his/her time in front of the audience.

#9. The videoconferencing dork factor

I recently did my first videoconference. Super neat. I was sitting in a conference room in Boston, presenting live to a group in Arizona. They stuck a video camera on the table at the front of their room so I could “see” everyone, and vice versa.

Thing is, the camera sits on the table… so your perspective as a viewer is of being a tiny little person looking up at these great huge creatures looming above the table. And vice versa.

Also, sometimes the slight time lag between what you say and what they hear can throw you off. I’d crack a joke, nobody would laugh, then I’d panic thinking “Stop making lame jokes!” and try to act more serious, and then a second later everyone would start laughing. You wind up feeling dorky twice in a row.

#10. Don’t forget to move the cat

We have a company policy that everyone can bring their pets to work (yes, we have a No-Pets room where allergic folks are isolated for their comfort and safety).

Anyway, my old cat Pete lives in my office. His hobbies are eating, sleeping, sleeping and sleeping. And, sometimes he likes to take a nap.

You’d never know he was there. Except the minute I get on the phone to do a webinar or teleseminar. Then he erupts into a frenzy of loud meows. Unceasingly. For the entire hour.

So I purchased a fleece-lined animal carrier bag called, no joke, a Sherpa. Prior to each event, I stuff Pete into the Sherpa and off he goes down the hall to spend the next hour making the lives of the folks in our service department a living nightmare.

If you call in to our 800 line the next time I’m giving a virtual speech, you’ll be able to hear Pete yowling away in the background.

Anyway, today Pete’s happily catching up on some much needed zzzzs while I pontificate in person at the Summit. While *not* picking my nose, thank you very much!

MarketingSherpa virtual events: behind-the-scenes

1. Dorky action shot — during a webinar, no one can see you gesticulating

2. Pete the office cat goes into his Sherpa holder before a teleconference

3. When you give a videoconference, you think you’re about 3 inches tall… while in reality you’re looming over the audience.

4. Here I am *not* picking my nose at our B-to-B Lead Gen Summit on Monday:

Anne Holland

Competitive Search Marketing Follow-Up Programs: Inspiration From Lumber Liquidators

October 17th, 2005

I’m having a new cork floor put in my house. It’s warmer to touch than wood, eco-friendly (harvested cork trees live for 150 years or so) and cork can be gorgeous.

Cork’s also famously sound absorbent — a fact which has not escaped me given than I’ve got two older stepchildren moving in shortly.

So last Monday I went online, clicked on every cork link in the search engines and sent away for a gazillion samples. By mid-week my mailbox was swamped with fat manila packages from a horde of cork competitors. Then Lumber Liquidators’ sample box arrived and it was such a thing of golden glowing glory that it was impossible to look elsewhere.

o Instead of using the flattest-possible package, they used a shoebox-style box. Dimensional marketers have known for years, fatter in the mail can be higher-impact.

o Instead of bland cardboard, the entire box was colored a cheerful taxi-cab yellow.

o A big red headline next to my address label proclaimed, “Samples You Requested!”

o Logos, phone numbers and warranty slogans were printed on the sides of the box.

o Details on the company’s 50-year residential warranty adorned the bottom of the box.

… but wait, there’s more: when I tore open the box to get at my samples, I discovered the ENTIRE inside was also golden and printed with compelling marketing copy.

o My personal sales rep’s card was taped to the inside front flap under the red headline “Give me a call to order!” Plus the 800-number was printed beside it, in case I removed and lost the card (entirely possible in my household).

o The inside sides of the box were printed with lengthy testimonials from named satisfied customers.

o The inside bottom of the box featured another headline and blurb on the satisfaction guarantee.

Although I’ve shopped online for nearly a decade, I must admit I was feeling a bit nervous to be ordering 1,000 square feet of flooring from a company I’ve never visited in person. That was before Lumber Liquidators’ golden box arrived. A company that puts that kind of work into making potential customers feel secure through its sampling packaging is a company I feel secure doing business with.

It’s also made me wonder — what lessons can all of us take from this? Whether you have an actual sampling campaign, a catalog or brochure request form, or you use the Internet for other types of lead generation, how can you create something physical to send your most qualified prospects that will stop them in their tracks?

Chances are, just like me, those prospects requesting info are doing so at all of your competitors’ sites at the same time. Your follow-through materials need to be just as competitively designed as your search campaign and landing page.

If you’re spending top dollar for qualified traffic, why then suddenly clamp down the budget to communicate with those leads only in the absolute cheapest way possible? If you’re only sending follow-up email, only offering a PDF, or only a Webinar… perhaps it’s time to consider adding some real-world punch to your follow-up program.

I know as we budget for 2006, real-world has become a significant line-item.

Anne Holland

Preliminary Email Marketing Survey Results: 1,585 Sherpa Readers Respond So Far

October 10th, 2005

Last Friday afternoon, Sherpa’s Research Director Stefan Tornquist sent our readers a quick invite to take a two-page Q&A for our 2005 Email Benchmark Study.

So far 1,585 of you have responded — thanks! — and Stefan’s already greedily eyeing the data. He wants to close the questionnaire ASAP to begin his analysis (you know what research guys are like), but I begged him for a reprieve until this Wednesday 9am ET so as many as you as possible can be included.

You’ve got just under 48 hours left, if you haven’t already clicked on the questionnaire link here:

Next, we’ll send you a complimentary Executive Summary of the results — including a new charts you can use for your budgeting and forecasting for 2006. In the meantime, I nipped into the database to look over numbers so far (don’t tell Stefan) and spotted one alarming trend:

-> 66% of respondents say they don’t remove inactive names from their lists… ever.

An inactive name is someone who signed up for your email, and then after a while stopped opening it and stopped clicking on links. Their address is still good, so you’re not getting bounces. You’re just not getting any indications whatsoever that that person is remotely interested in your mailings.

This concerns me tremendously.

Why? Because studies show the vast majority of people don’t unsubscribe from lists they don’t want to be on anymore. They delete instead. Then, after a while, many begin to think of that unwanted sender as a spammer…. From that point it’s a short hop potentially being reported as such to their ISP.

Result: both your brand and your deliverability may suffer.

How long should you leave an inactive name on your list before yanking? Well, first you might try a re-activation campaign or questionnaire designed to figure out which names still like getting your mail even though they ultra-rarely act on it.

Also, if you can, run some analytics to see how many of past inactive names were in a “lull” for a while but then snapped back into action. Do some readers open once every three months, or once every six? Or perhaps just every holiday season?

Depending on your content, consider segmenting these names for less frequent mailings than your regular file gets. Or just dump them altogether after awhile — for safety’s sake.

Anyway, we’ll send you a far more extensive Executive Summary of the Study results in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, you’ve got just under 48 hours to be included:

Anne Holland

Royal Caribbean's Interactive Cruise Planner Email Campaign Features a Stealable Idea for All Marketers

October 3rd, 2005

As reviewed in the new book ‘The Breakaway Brand: The Secrets Behind 50 of the World’s Most Successful Brands,’ Royal Caribbean’s interactive cruise planner is one of the coolest landing pages of 2005.

But does a cool landing page really convince more email recipients to book cruises?

I called up Sherpa reader Michal Suarez, who is Royal Caribbean’s Interactive Marketing Account Exec, to get the true inside story on this email campaign. Here are my notes, plus a link to the creative so you can see for yourself.

January is the “infamous wave season” for cruise marketers because you need to launch eye-opening campaigns to get people into the consideration cycle for a vacation they’ll actually take as long as 6-9 months later on.

So, January emails have to be *really* high impact to get that sustained interest going.

This year’s campaign featured extremely simple creative — only 19 words of copy, a logo image and the image of a “leather cruise planner.” (I suspect super-clean email creative, with no extraneous words or images, can be far more powerful than typical cluttered emails.)

The landing page featured the planner, now opened up, with handwritten notes, cards, and funky hotlinks to click on. We did a Case Study on a similar campaign from the San Francisco Convention & Visitor’s Center, and their results were astonishing.

My favorite part of Royal Caribbean’s landing page: loads of response devices in a stable area at the bottom of the screen. You could respond in your choice of phone, email, tell a friend, search and “hot deals” click link.

Results? According to Michal, the campaign was a big hit overall. Plus:

– The average visitor spent 2 1/2 minutes on the landing page. (Yes, that’s long for this type of campaign.)

-> Most popular sections were the “hot deals” and watching the video. Michal suspects the video viewers were more in the cruise-newbie demographic who wanted education more than ticket offers.

-> Of viral options, send a friend a postcard won out over ‘tell-a-friend’ but Michal says she’s glad she offered both because both had their fans.

-> Consumers who initially join the list when responding to sweeps offers for cruises tend to be extremely good prospects for cruises. This runs very much contrary to almost every other industry’s experiences and even startles Michal’s team.

Best stealable idea

Instead of running the campaign once and then retiring it, Michal added it into her email opt-in welcome series for the rest of 2005. New opt-ins get a standard text-only message via autoresponder within minutes of sign-up. Then seven days later, they automatically get the HTML email with the interactive planner hotlink.

It’s a great idea — hit prospects with your highest-impact campaign of the year at a time when in their own personal sales cycle they are more likely to be extremely interested in you. Here’s a link to Royal Caribbean’s creative samples: (Open access)

BTW: That San Francisco story is here:

Sponsor: Complimentary Pass to Sherpa’s Search Marketing Teleconference

Sign up here to get your comp pass to MarketingSherpa’s annual Search Teleconference on Oct 11th.

Hear Anne Holland & Stefan Tornquist present the latest SEM statistics, budgeting data, and study results. Includes 12-page PowerPoint presentation.

Note: Comp seats are limited:

Anne Holland

Internet Users Increasingly Fed Up with Registration Forms: Data & Suggested Solutions

September 26th, 2005

It’s not often that you find teens and their parents agreeing on nuances of Web surfing. But indicators I’ve been watching for a few years now reveal that everyone in all age groups and most industries are absolutely fed up with filling out forms online for complimentary offers (sweeps, white papers, etc.).

No, they do not want to give you their email. Or their phone. Or their name and address. No thank you not very much indeed!

breatheinteractive Media Director Erin Greenwald noticed this trend emerging in the teens and young adult category 18 months ago when she told me, “Younger people are very reluctant to give data. People are just frustrated with spam, and this is a demographic that’s online a lot. They’re constantly being bombarded with forms and profiles to fill out.”

This summer open source software firm Red Hat tested removing the registration forms in front of its white papers. Director of Marketing Communications Chris Grams told me, “We found, in our estimation, it makes more sense to open it up in most cases. If we do not put a capture form in front of it, let’s say we’ll get 1,000 people to view it. If we put a capture form there, we’ll get 50 people to view.”

Some marketers wonder if they can beat the anti-form trend by “adding value” to the offer. Example: to entice email newsletter sign-ups, offer a complimentary eBook as a bonus. However, as The Motley Fool told me they discovered in tests earlier this year, the extra offer can actually depress responses. (With the bonus offer they got a 2.99% sign-up rate versus 4.50% sign-up without it.)

Fact #1. Typing contact info is a boring pain everyone can live without

We’ve done multiple case studies showing, if you pre-fill a form so prospects don’t have to type their name and address, your conversion rates will double plus responders will be cool with answering a few more qualifying questions. (Of course this only works for prospects who will not be disconcerted by seeing their info pre-populating a form from you.)

Fact #2. It’s about control

By registering, consumers are giving the marketer control over them again. They are no longer quite as in charge of what information they see, and when. With forms, the paradigm of Web surfing has switched so the marketer is in the driver’s seat to some degree — and consumers don’t like it.

Typical data: ThomasNet’s Industrial Purchasing Barometer study released in August revealed “industrial buyers are growing increasingly frustrated with the lack of privacy they are experiencing online.”

Although 90% of industrial buyers shop online, they are increasing demanding “anonymity when they search for products online, and in many cases, that desire for anonymity is not being respected,” ThomasNet noted.

– 77% of respondents have a “Don’t call us, we’ll call you” philosophy online

– 56% of respondents do not want vendors to contact them until they have made the initial contact

– 81% of respondents said they would not return, or would be unlikely to return, to a website that reveals their identities to suppliers

– 21% do not want to be contacted at all

Does this mean I’m saying that you should remove all registration forms and cease offering newsletters, etc.? No, that’s silly. However, I am saying that perhaps marketers have to relax a little on the registration front.

Are, indeed, registrations so incredibly valuable to you that you are willing to forgo the brand-building power of simply placing high-quality content openly on the Web where it can be seen by prospects who want to see it?

We’ve all acknowledged an ad that’s viewed but not clicked on still has power to influence the marketplace. Plus, we all know the evangelist impact of consumers and bloggers telling the world about great content they’ve discovered. (More than 60% of white paper downloaders pass copies to colleagues.)

Perhaps, for some campaigns, it’s enough to have gotten the highest quality message out to a broad swath of your marketplace, instead of limiting yourself to the 3%-6% of people who are willing to fill out a form in response.

Anne Holland

Lead Generation Campaign Landing Pages: Avoiding 4 Past Mistakes

September 19th, 2005

Every fall to promote MarketingSherpa’s Lead Generation Summits, we post a landing page to generate leads.

Last year we offered a PDF, ‘Top 10 B-to-B Lead Generation Marketing Mistakes.’ (Link below.) The campaign landing page got roughly a 60%+ conversion rate; in other words 60% of page visitors filled out their name and email for a copy of the Mistakes report.

This is vastly above average, so I was psyched.

However — embarrassing but true — later in the year research for our Landing Page Handbook revealed we’d made four mistakes on the Mistakes offer landing page:

Mistake #1. Image not clickable

Web surfers frequently click on stuff that’s not actually clickable in hopes that it will be. In particular, research shows people click on images. If nothing happens when they click on your image, prospects may think your site is broken or bad and you miss a marketing opportunity.

Mistake #2. No copy under image

Eyetracking reports show visitors are extremely likely to read copy that’s immediately under images. Makes sense, we’ve all been trained by print media to expect captions under pictures. So if you have an image online that’s not captioned, again you’re wasting a marketing opportunity.

Mistake #3. Radio button vs check buttons

When you use radio buttons for an interactive form where one answer is pre-checked, you run the risk that people will submit that answer without making sure it’s the right one for them.

In our case, about 30% of the people who submitted our little form asking for the Mistakes report mistakenly left the pre-checked button on an option they didn’t want. Whups.

Mistake #4. Forward slash URL

Most marketers create landing page hotlinks for campaigns by using their regular URL plus a forward slash with the campaign name. Example:

The problem is most people (a) know they can get to a Web page by going to a dot com without bothering with the extra bit after the forward slash and (b) are lazy typists. Which meant last year thousands of visitors went straight to our home page looking for a link to special offer instead of typing in the extra bit after the forward slash to get there directly.

This impedes your campaign tracking abilities and conversions overall.

So, this year I vowed to create the Perfect Landing Page for our all-new Summit promo, this time for the Top 10 Sales Lead Hell Cartoons.

OK, so it’s not perfect. But at least I avoided the mistakes from last year. The image is clickable. There’s a lovely caption. None of the interactive buttons are pre-checked. Plus, no one will get lost on our regular home page looking for the promo link because the promo features a “vanity” URL

The campaign launched three weeks ago and so far conversions are running at about 68%. Wahoo!

(Yes, I know it’s not remotely a perfect a/b test, because it’s a year later and of course our offer is different, but I’m dancing in my office anyway.)

Got suggestions for how either landing pages could be improved further? Let us know at Thanks very much.

Attempt #1. Old landing page for Mistakes Report offer:

Atttempt #2. New landing page for Top 10 Cartoons offer:

Anne Holland

The Surprising Truth About PDFs & Audio Downloads

September 12th, 2005

Fact: Ads we run for our Sherpa Guides get 23.3% more clicks, with no discernable change in conversion, when we put the word “New” in the headline.

This combined with the boffo success of the Web might make you think new things invariably perform better than old ones. Not so.

Our Web department shocked me to the core a few weeks ago when they reported that roughly 30% of all of our customers who purchase PDF-versions of reports from us *never* click on their PDF download links.

I asked Sharon Hamner who heads customer service if she had any idea why someone who just paid for a Guide wouldn’t want to open and read it. “We have PDF customers who call a few weeks later to complain they haven’t gotten their copy in the mail,” she said. “I don’t think they always understand what ordering a PDF versus printed copy means.”

PDFs may not be that new, but they are new enough that some executives in corporate America are still confused by them. So, now we’ve begun automatically shipping a printed copy with most Sherpa Guide PDF orders, even though it costs us more, to make sure customers are happy.

We asked Paul Dunay who heads marketing for a division of BearingPoint about this PDF versus print problem when we interviewed him for a Case Study on his new podcasting tactics. (See link below for that story.)

He said he noticed that PDFs of white papers don’t always get downloaded even when prospects have registered for them. So nine months ago he launched a big new marketing program: snail mailing printed copies of white papers. Reportedly prospects are delighted.

Audio downloads and podcasts seem to be in a similar situation. Some consumers embrace them wholeheartedly. But you can’t discontinue older-formats and only feature MP3s.

Example: A Case Study on we published this summer revealed a landing page for educated 40-somethings got 59% clicks on PDF links versus 16% clicks on audio download links.

Another example: This week’s Case Study on Simply Audiobooks (see below) reveals the company’s big new launch for fall 2005 is offering cassette tapes in addition to CDs. What about audio downloads? VP Marketing Sanjay Singhal told us they’re holding off on those because study results show there’s nine times more demand for cassettes now.

How weird is that? A super-hot Internet company is launching into the cassette marketplace because it’s more profitable than audio downloads.

Reality is, newer technology doesn’t always win the ballgame.

Useful links related to this blog

MarketingSherpa’s BearingPoint Case Study on marketing via podcasts (Open access until 9/17/2005)

MarketingSherpa’s Case Study:

ContentBiz Case Study on Simply Audiobooks: (Open access until 9/18/2005)


Anne Holland

MarketingSherpa's Hurricane Katrina Resources Page for Marketing, Advertising, & PR Professionals

September 8th, 2005

Yes, we’ll post new helpful items and hotlinks as we find them. Got input or info we’re missing? Please contact us immediately at so we can update this resource page for the community. Thank you.

For Market Research Professionals
For Media Companies, Online Publishers, & Subscription Sites
For Association Marketing Executives
For Trade Show Professionals
For Hospitality & Travel Industry Marketers
For Email Marketers & Email Service Providers
For Direct Postal Mail Marketers
For Telemarketers
For PR Professionals
For Advertising Professionals Online & Offline
More resources

For Market Research Professionals

The Marketing Research Association (MRA) have launched a Researcher-to-Researcher Relief Assistance Blog. The following is straight from their site:

“Many marketing researchers located in the South have been severely affected by this tragic storm. This Blog will be used as an exchange system where all research professionals can list what they are in need of and/or what they can provide one another.

For example, some items that researchers in the affected areas may be in need of are: -Additional office space for temporary use -Computers -Phone line usage -Support on active studies or retrieving data from the Internet

For Media Companies, Online Publishers, & Subscription Sites

Louisiana Public Broadcasting in Baton Rouge contacted us with a call for help, “We are housing WWL-TV Channel 4 in our studios and know that the two PBS stations in New Orleans are shut down for at least the next 6 months. All the workers at the TV stations — both commercial and public — are displaced and don’t have places to live.” They are hoping fellow media professionals will set up a jobs and housing board to help out. (If you do let us know and we’ll post a link here.)

You can also donate to the Louisiana PBS at and contact Development Director Lisa Stansbury at (225) 767-4466.

If you publish a Web site supported in part or whole from AdSense revenues, you can join the folks at ReliefSense (not a part of Google, but yes Google has ok-ed the idea) who are pledging to donate their AdSense revenues for Sept 12th to Katrina relief efforts. More info at:

If you are a podcaster, you can get audio PSAs for podcasts below the menu bar at

The blogging community is gathering info for relief efforts at:

MediaSpan/FMW just announced they are offering free website hosting and FTP server access to any Gulf-area media property whose current site has been short-circuited due to the recent disaster. More info contact MediaSpan Online Services CTO Mike Gibbs at 949-369-5900 x209 or

MediaSpan/FMW are also offering radio stations nationwide a free Web application to securely send funds to the Red Cross Hurricane relief effort, while tracking and managing local donations. Get the code from Mike who’se email is in the item above.

If you are publishing via email, please see the section of this page for emailers.

If you run an ad-based Web site, see the Ad Council’s link for PSAs at the very end of this Resources page.

If you are running a subscription site, you may want to follow ASAE’s lead (see below) and automatically extend subs for members in affected areas for six months. Let’s face it, they may not be able to access or pay credit card bills for a while. You may take a short-term loss, but see a long-term gain.

If you handle circulation for a print magazine both the BPA and ABC audit bureaus have reportedly said they will not count distribution to affected areas … which means some folks will miss rate base. Sorry.

For Association Marketing Executives

A spokesperson for the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) told us they’ve taken the following three steps:

1. ASAE has automatically extended by 6 months the membership of any member in an affected area

2. ASAE staff is collecting contributions for relief and ASAE will match all contributions

3. They have sent an email to their membership containing a list of reputable organizations to whom to donate

For Trade Show Professionals

The New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau issued an update September 7th stating:

“All city-wide conventions are cancelled through December 1. There will be an announcement Tuesday Sept 13 regarding the status of future meetings in December through March. Additional assessments will be made during the next two weeks when we are out of search and rescue mode. Contact the following staff in Washington and Chicago:

Donna Karl 630-357-3480 Peggy Hagaman: 847-236-0200 JoAnne Hunsicker: 703-379-2233 ”

The Trade Show Exhibitors Association (TSEA) have set up two efforts:

#1. They’ve set up a relief fund to help individuals in the trade show industry

#2. They’ve put together a list of 19 scheduled trade shows coming up in New Orleans in Sept/Oct and will be updating as info is available as to what the organizers are doing (moving, rescheduling, etc)

For Hospitality & Travel Industry Marketers

The Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI) have launched a new section in their online resource center with info for marketers in the field. Registration is required, but access will be free for the next 30 days:

They have also announced their next few month’s already scheduled events will do double-duty as fundraisers, and the association will kick in a $25,000 donation to relief efforts.

The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) has launched a Hurricane Help page on its site where members in need of assistance can have their requests posted. Members who can and are willing to provide services, whatever they might be, are asked to contact ASTA with their offer and multiple contact information (phone, mobile, e-mail).

Also, ASTA members in need of or offering help are asked to contact ASTA at or by calling 1-800-ASK-ASTA. Please be prepared to be specific in your request and have contact information ready. ASTA will be sending regular alerts to members with the most recent postings.

For Email Marketers & Email Service Providers

Potentially millions of email addresses have been affected by Katrina.

Email users may not have access to regular email for days or weeks. Their mailboxes may quickly fill and start sending mailers auto-bounce messages. This means emailers’ list management systems could unsubscribe those names automatically due to deliverability concerns. It also means mailers’ open and click result reports will show anomalies.

We asked if major email services such as AOL and Earthlink could create a special bounce code for those areas, but apparently that’s not possible due to their privacy policies.

If you have an integrated database, and can identify which of your email opt-ins are in the affected regions, you should use USPS zip guidelines to segment your files.

If you have opt-ins without any real-world address attached, we recommend you ask your database manager if there are IP addresses attached to each opt-in. (Any reputable ESP or email list management program should have been collecting that data.) You can then use IP addresses to segment names by geography for many names.

Once you’ve segmented out affected names, you’ll want to mail those names cautiously, and watch your reports. Some users may turn to the Internet and their email accounts as a communication lifeline. Others may not access accounts for weeks.

If a name in the affected area is not opening and/or clicking for a certain period of time (depending on your frequency), we strongly suggest you put that name on hiatus for a while.

— New note: The Information Refinery is making its 6,000-record email (and 190,000 postal lists) for the area within a 500-mile radius of New Orleans available indefinitely and free of charge to all nonprofit organizations, government agencies and other humanitarian groups. The lists are selectable by type of business and include builders, remodelers, contractors, architects and engineers. Email campaigns will be sent at no cost from the Information Refinery servers on behalf of the organizations. Contact: 800-529-9020;

For Direct Postal Mail Marketers

The USPS posts a list of zip codes that all mailers should suppress against during weather-related emergencies:

Many postal list rental firms are waiving suppression charges for the Gulf Coast areas for now, including Rubin Response, 21st Century Marketing, American List Council, Datagence, and MKTG Services.

For Telemarketers

Louisiana proclamation No. 48 KBB 2005 issued Aug 26th, says no telemarketing calls can be made to Louisiana numbers until Monday Sept 26th 2005. Only exception — calls by the Red Cross.

For PR Professionals

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) is using its member list to work in tandem with the Red Cross in a program called Power of Two (which initially launched after 9/11). More info at:

International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) is also hosting a blog for members to detail information about Katrina.

The Sonoma CA chapter of the American Red Cross has issued a call for volunteer PR pros to help them with relief-related efforts. Contact Ellen Maremont Silver, direct line (707) 577-7632.

For Advertising Professionals Online & Offline

Tha Ad Council has launched a service to get out PSAs for disaster relief. Several ad organizations are supporting this – including for online.

You can pick up Red Cross banner ads for the relief effort here:

Search marketers from several different firms have pooled resources and budgets to create campaigns to drive traffic to charitable sites. More info at

We’ve also called the AAAA and the AAF but they don’t have any details yet on separate programs or resources they’ll be launching.

More Resources:

Craig’s List is one of the best places for displaced folks to find free housing:

MarketingSherpa reader Tinu Abayomipaul is collecting and indexing all the relief resources she can find every four hours at her Blog. More info:

13 Experts’ Tips on Marketing in Wartime – Copywriting, Media Buying, B-to-B , Branding & PR

Anne Holland

How to Create a Podcast Audio Logo (Part II)

August 29th, 2005

As you may recall, MarketingSherpa’s launching a podcast for you this fall, and I’ve contracted a audio logo specialist Michael Whalen to create our intro music-snippet. (See link below to my first podcasting info column.)

If you’re considering testing a podcast, too (seems like nearly everyone in the Net cognoscenti is, although we don’t have results data quite yet on effectiveness), I’ll keep you updated here on our progress.

First step: Develop an audio logo creative brief

Just like any other campaign, you need to hand your creative team a brief that guides them on your brand identity and goal. I’ve found these are always far harder to write than one might expect. You need brand perspective to do a half-decent job, and being client-side, my perspective is perhaps warped. (Reason why market research firms and ad agencies’ services are critical in today’s world even if you’ve got a full creative team in-house.)

Anyway, here’s the creative brief questionaire form Michael asked me to fill out so he can determine what MarketingSherpa’s brand “sounds” like.

If you need an audio logo for your own podcast (or tv/radio ads) maybe you’ll find it useful, too.

1) How is your company perceived in the marketplace? (big, small, cool, traditional, fun, forward thinking, etc.)

2) How do YOU perceive your company? Is it the same as your answer to #1?

3) Do you think your audio ID should support or work against this impression(s)?

4) Who is your “typical” audience member or customer? (demographically, sense of their tastes, etc.)

5) Should the audio ID appeal to your audience’s taste or should it only support your company’s image? (see Question #1)

6) How will your podcast be formatted? (length of program, how many “chapters,” music for top, middle and end)

7) Should your audio ID be a new composition or do you want to use an existing piece of music? (Warning; existing music = $$$)

8) If you want an original composition, should the music be thematic (think 20th Century Fox logo) or environmental? (Imagine Entertainment)

9) Whom at your company will be decision makers in this process? Will your audience help (voting, etc.)?

10) Do you have a budget for this audio ID? (budgets can range from zilch — barter or trade — to tens of thousands)

By the way, in case you missed it, here’s my first column in this series, which includes a link to Michael’s site and info for podcasting newbies:

‘The Brave New(ish) World of Audio Logos & Podcasting’ (Open access)