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New Media: Testing, 1, 2 . . .

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New Media: Testing, 1, 2 . . .

by Carol White

“If you aren’t involved in social networking, you are missing the boat.”

“If you want to be a dinosaur, just keep ignoring the new social media.”

Okay, okay, enough! I get it—I hear you. So what to do about it? After all, I won a Benjamin Franklin for Marketing Innovation and Excellence. I look at it every day and feel the pressure to continue to earn it.

But what does it all mean? Facebook? Squidoo? RSS? Twitter and Tweets? Podcasts and V-Casts? Feedburner? Stumbleupon? del.icio.us? Diggit? . . . and so much more.

For the March release of the second edition of our bestselling, award-winning book, Live Your Road Trip Dream, we didn’t abandon “old media.” In fact, we did a campaign for prerelease reviews, postrelease reviews, and articles for both print and broadcast media with good success—not as good as four years ago, but reasonable. I’ve either had, or have committed, more than 20 articles, reviews, or mentions as a result of old media, including one AP story that just keeps on showing up around the country (Google alerts keep me informed).

But I wanted to use more new media for this new release. I have had an active program of commenting on blogs, discussion groups, and newspaper articles relating to road trips, boomers, and RVing. (You do all have Google Alerts for your keywords, right? That’s how I find appropriate places to comment, and the comments are good tools for driving traffic back to my site via one-way links in them.) But this isn’t exactly “cutting edge” stuff. I wanted to try more.

Here’s a rundown of my experiments to date, which I hope will be useful to others.

By way of background, I should tell you that I try to find ways to measure the impact of all my marketing activities, and I always keep one observation and one question in mind for each campaign:

It is really difficult to track results to a specific marketing activity?

Can I see any change in sales patterns during or after this marketing activity?

Blog articles. In conjunction with my distributor, Midpoint Trade Books, we are doing a blog review/tour to coordinate with the book release. Midpoint is contacting boomer blogs, offering review copies and following up. They say this takes time. They have sent out 15-plus books, but the only mention so far is from a blog I approached. Patience. Time will tell whether this works.

Podcasts, teleseminars, live chats, and contests. Although these aren’t high tech, they are Internet/new media oriented. I’ve done a podcast (really just an interview much like a radio interview), a teleseminar (also an interview, on the phone with two-way conversation), two contests, and a live chat (with the audience keying in questions and me reading and answering in real time on my keyboard).

Each of these was for a major organization and was well promoted by them on their sites and by us. The podcast was for the Associated Press. The teleseminar was for BoomerWomenSpeak.com. The contests were for EONS.com (a boomer site) and The Good Sam Club (a huge RV organization). And the live chat was for Gather.com, a primarily literary social networking site. Each of these Web sites boasts a Google PR (page rank) of 5, 6, or 7 on a scale of 0 to 10. Good Web sites.

The contests both had special landing pages on our site for promoting them, the sponsors, and our book. So we knew how much traffic they drove. The grand total was fewer than 100 visitors each, resulting in two book sales on our site and a slight boost at Amazon. And I had to give away books in both contests. A wash at best.

The Gather.com live chat didn’t seem to drive sales either, but I did get another podcast from that connection that is well targeted for my market—promoting a historical road trip route in Pennsylvania.

The BoomerWomenSpeak.com teleseminar continues to drive visitors to our site two months later, as it is still available and well indexed on the site, but again, I’ve seen no spikes in sales.

The new new media. So the more established new media seemed to produce little growth in sales, but what about more cutting-edge stuff?

I’m the first to admit that I’m not yet adept at all this, but I am starting to understand what the various pieces do and even how they interact. I’ve used my MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, EONS, and Gather pages to promote all the various things that I am trying. I’ve tied events into comments on articles, blogs, and discussion groups when appropriate. My distributor maintains my book on its MySpace page and considers my Squidoo page that it did one of its most successful. I’ve also posted several Squidoo articles; I’ve “digged” other people’s stuff; I’ve tweeted and I’ve stumbled, but I can’t for the life of me figure out how all this has helped my book sales!

What It All May Mean

Maybe I’m just too impatient. Maybe Midpoint is right that all this takes a long time (I thought short turnaround was one of the advantages?) and I just haven’t been able to reap the rewards yet. It has occurred to me that gas prices might be a factor, but their impact on sales isn’t major—the book is selling only slightly less well this year than last—and it seems to affect old and new media to the same degree. It has also occurred to me that road-trip planners might not hang out in the “new” media; maybe my topic is old-media oriented. But based on the discussion boards, articles, and blogs I comment on, I don’t think so.

For me, then, the jury is still out. But I’ll always come back to my marketing mantra—you never can tell which marketing effort is producing the sales. I will continue to learn, continue to try new things, and continue to hope that I see some rewards (as I do with the old media), because I know that if you do nothing, your sales will be nothing.

Carol White is the co-author of the award-winning book Live Your Road Trip Dream (roadtripdream.com)—“the ultimate road trip planning guide for extended road trips.” She and her husband, Phil, have traveled over 50,000 road miles in the past several years, visiting all 50 states and all the National Parks in the lower 48. As national spokespeople for the RV industry, they now spend their days speaking, writing, and helping others live their dreams.



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