A few weeks back, I posted on why blogging doesn't fit into traditional integrated marketing solutions from my perspective. I felt passion on the issue and considered it to be among my post-authoring revelations, based on what I had learned from nearly 200 business bloggers.
When, I attended The Blog Enterprise, its producer Paul Walker, as well as A-Lister Steve Rubel and IBM Thinkblogger Todd Watson each told me I was wrong on this matter. Of course, Dave Taylor disagreed with me as well, but he seems to be building a career on being blogging's house contrarian, so I could brush that one aside. But this past week end, I ran into Evelyn Rodriguez who also told me she disagreed with my point, and I respect Evelyn a great deal.
So, like it or not, I had to do what bloggers tell businesses to do. I had to listen, really listen. Then think about it, which I did all day yesterday. In this particular case, I'm sticking to my guns. As it stands today, Blogging doesn't integrate with other marketing "solutions" such as PR, advertising, collaterals, direct mail, web sites and the rest. It just doesn't.
I am not arguing that all companies should abandon all traditional marketing programs because we now have blogging. I am saying however, that if a company chooses to start a business blog, or encourage employees to blog, they should keep it seperate and apart from integrated programs if they wish bloggingto succeed.
Why? Because integrated marketing solutions (IMS) are based on pushing a central, redundant message and blogging almost always fails when it tries that. In fact, I can think of no example of a blog succeeding as an extension of an IMS. By their very nature, IMS components are not conversations. It works in a great many cases, but in a blog, pushed messages turn back against you. Blogging only works when you allow the market to talk back to you and to change your views and perhaps your other programs.
Look at what happened at Vichy, the giant division of the French cosmetics giant L'Oreal. Vichy began a launch campaign to support a new, four-phase anti-aging treatment with an integrated marketing program that included all the traditional stuff, plus a character blog. It immediately resulted in a significant uprising among French bloggers, particularly woman over age 35--the product's primary target. Listening to a highly mobilized blogosphere, Vichy apologized for having offended them and shut the blog down. Afew weeks later, the company started a new authentic blog. They had women bloggers volunteer to undergo the treatment and write about their experience--along with allowing photos showing them gooped up with treatment creams.
The new blog is a stupendous success. The product has become the best seller in the category in France, and it is now going to be marketed internationally.
So let's review what happened: integrated marketing blog resulted in angry customers in target market. Non-integrated has resulted in users becoming customer evangelists.
Integrated blogs, so far just don't work. They lose the key components of authenticity, transparency and more important--credibility. I can think of no blog so far that has successfully integrated. If you can, please let me know.
I never enjoy being a lone voice in the wilderness. But I'd rather be one, then to advise marketers of a simple solution to blogging that doesn't work.