Thursday July 21, 2005
New marketing tool
By Brigitte Rozario
New marketing tool
By Brigitte Rozario
PLAXO does it. GM’s leaders do it. Flickr is doing it too.
To be more specific, all three companies have incorporated blogs into their websites.
Yup, businesses have found a way to use blogs to sell their products and promote their companies.
It’s not just a US phenomenon either.
In.Tech dug around (read: Googled) and found a few “early adopters” who have incorporated blogs into their company websites.
XiMnet Malaysia decided to have a blog to set it apart from the many other web design and multimedia companies in the country.
“The blog is a good platform to talk about what you believe in,” says Wiley Chin, chief alchemist of XiMnet. “We’re blogging as a journey, as a story, as who we are and what we believe in. We’re saying it’s tough but we’re willing to stick to it through thick and thin to deliver the best.”
Chin believes that recent international events such as the Sept 11 2001 terror attacks as well as the Enron scandal have made people in general more cynical about corporations.
“I think blogging helps you get beyond the typical sleek front and go to the back and know what this company stands for. Especially for a small company like ours, there’s nothing to lose. For instance, I say I stand for hard work and passion in what I’m doing.
“Blogging supplements a voice. And it’s also interesting because it’s a rebel kind of thing. If it’s a voice that is anti-establishment, it can be pretty strong. It also generates a lot of interest in your beliefs. People now are very focused on your beliefs rather than corporate vision. People want authenticity now,” says Chin.
XiMnet’s blog (www.ximnet.com.my/thelab/blog/default.asp) offers information about the company, what it is working on, and some general thoughts on life by Chin.
The blog which was started about 10 months ago is also a way for Chin to motivate his team and to document his company’s history as it happens.
“How do you tell this story to your customers and your staff, or your potential business partners? Even though the story might not sound like a connected story, but there is a story underneath all those blog entries that connect to this dream of achieving something.
“If it is a journey, you need to consistently tell this story and the various facets of it. Assuming you are a walking story, (you should document) how you interact, and how you respond under different circumstances. A blog is a good place for you to put down those thoughts,” says Chin.
Through his blog, Chin also hopes to attract like-minded clients and staff.
“In a typical case of a customer responding to us, it’s not the company responding to us, but rather individuals. For instance, if a company needs to build a website, it would be one of the IT or PR staff who will start searching on the Internet or asking around for a web developer. “If people can identify with you and your values, it is often a much more productive and effective relationship when you work together, rather than working with people who don’t share your values,” says Chin.
He explains that some of his blog readers have also recommended customers to him.
Unlike XiMnet, Foto-ZZoom’s blog (www.fotozzoom.com.my/wp) is used solely to provide information on the company’s latest cameras as well as photography tips. The company also uses its blog to better handle queries from customers and potential customers.
Explains webmaster Jason Chow: “We blog about our new products, so that people will be able to find our site when they do a search for that product.
“Customers can also ask questions in the comments area. So instead of calling us about the products, they can just ask a question at the blog.”
According to Chow, blogging also helps market their products and their website. News in blogs apparently appear faster in search engine results rather than regular HTML (HyperText Markup Language) pages.“Blogs have RSS (Really Simple Syndication) to alert readers when there is an update, so basically anyone who uses an RSS reader can straightaway get the alert that there’s a new post or a new camera,” he says.
Foto-ZZoom administration manager Khoo Ban Seng says that once in a while there is the odd complaint from customers. “You can’t run away from that.
“Through the blog, we try to answer the questions as fast as possible. Sometimes it could be a few minutes, but sometimes it could be a few days,” he explains.
Still new to the blogosphere is Mobile88.com. The company’s blog (www.mobile88.com/blog) was launched just three months ago.
Explains L.K. Chong, head of e-commerce at Mobile88.com: “The main purpose is to provide a platform to our enthusiastic members who are keen to share information as well as opinions on the mobile industry, devices and technology.”
Right now the blog is open to selected members only. The company hopes that the blog will provide more variety to the company’s website content.
By deploying the open-source concept in content sharing, Mobile88 also hopes to produce an annual mobile technology pullout by its resident bloggers.
Build the brand
Chong believes that blogging is a trend that companies will not be able to ignore as it provides a platform for businesses to interact with potential customers as well as a way for companies to build their brand through knowledge sharing.
Says Chong: “Blogs provide a new communications platform for marketing, branding, sales and customer support.”
XiMnet’s Chin believes that blogging will catch on with the younger entrepreneurs who are bolder and braver.
“I think most of the chief executive officers in Malaysia are very conservative. I don’t think it’s going to happen at that level. But maybe the young entrepreneurs, the mavericks, are going to do that,” says Chin.
He explains the business of blogging aptly when he says: “A blog merges your personality and your business vision. It is a very good entry point into who you are, what you do, and what your values are.”