Who Knows You?

Sunday, December 14, 2008 Sunday, December 14, 2008

I’ve been watching two entirely different but strangely parallel ongoing events in recent weeks. What events am I referring to? First, it’s Crap Mariner’s TunesInSL campaign, which is intended to promote many of the wonderful SL-based musicians. The other is Eshi Otawara’s announcement of her new fashion line.

(Photo courtesy Chimera Cosmos)

Now you might wonder what on Earth these two radically different activities might have in common, other than they are being done by two very close friends. The common factor is that they are both promoting something. Fashion products in one case, musicians in the other. Both are following a complex process to meet a difficult goal.

This got me thinking about what it means to promote something in a business sense. At the root of it, there are only three steps involved:

  • Make a large group aware of your “thing”.
  • Make sure that interested individuals consider your “thing”.
  • Ensure the very few individuals who decided to take part actually can (by purchasing, for example)

Ah, but they are not very simple steps. There are specific methods of achieving each of them. In this post, let’s look at the first one, Awareness, which turns out to be the most difficult – but also has the biggest opportunities for creative solutions. How do you make people aware of your “thing”? Here are the main ideas an SL business can consider, although there are likely a few more:

Blog posts. Many SL makers have an accompanying blog in which they can post the details of their new product.
  • Example: I do this now and then
  • Positives: a blog post is hugely rich and can include significant text, images and even videos and can potentially reach a lot of people. 
  • Negatives: Few will read a blog solely for product announcements, and you’ll have to commit to a significant amount of high quality writing.

Notecard. Notecards are not nearly as rich as a blog post, but can be useful if carefully worded and sent to a group of friends.
  • Positives: Almost assured delivery to each recipient; can be perceived as a personal message. 
  • Negatives: Can be perceived as SPAM by some recipients; Typically low numbers of people can be reached compared to other methods.

Group announcement. A well worded announcement can be sent to a group, either a true SL Group or a Subscrib-O-Matic group.
  • Positives: Those who subscribe are more likely to partake of your offer than the general public, as they’ve previously expressed interest in your activities; Potentially large numbers of people can be reached. 
  • Negatives: The message sent is not nearly as rich as a blog post, and in some cases is severely limited in size.

Advertising.  This involves somehow visibly placing your product name in a place where many people will see it.
  • Example: SL classified ads. 
  • Positives: Massive numbers of people can potentially be reached 
  • Negatives: Expensive if you want it to be effective; Very complex to understand how to do this properly; Creation of effective advertising material is really hard to do. (I think I’d better go deep on this in an upcoming post.)

Promotional idea. This one is a little vague, as I mean any kind of game or contest that can be associated with your product. The possibilities here are as endless as your imagination.
  • Example: Grid-wide hunt. 
  • Positives: These can be incredibly successful. 
  • Negatives: These can go catastrophically wrong. You must have tremendous imagination and effort to attempt to do a successful promotion.

Show Appearance. A podcast interview or an appearance on a popular machinima show can make many aware of your product.
  • Example: I appeared on SL Under the Radar a while ago.  
  • Positives: This medium is vastly different than all the others and so you can portray your story in a unique way. 
  • Negatives: Show audiences vary considerably, but in all cases few people actually know how to view/listen to them, and thus the potential audience size is limited.

Microblog. Twitter and more recently Plurk offer ways to announce your message.
  • Positives: Extremely easy to do, and no cost at all; Large, dedicated audiences are potentially available. 
  • Negatives: For one, you get only 140 characters, so there’s only so much you can say; You must gain the trust of a large number of people, and that can be very difficult and time consuming, especially if you’re not trustworthy!

Mass Media. You somehow manage to get into one of the major media outlets (press, magazine or TV).
  • Example: Crap Mariner’s CNN iReport
  • Positives: Massive number of eyeballs on this one. 
  • Negatives: Extremely hard to do, and usually out of your control entirely (with the exception of the CNN iReport concept.)

Event. This approach is commonly done by many SL business in the form of a product launch, fashion show or opening party.
  • Example: Eshi’s fashion show where she unveiled her new line. 
  • Positives: Moderately easy to do; Usually effective in bringing good amounts of traffic your way; Fun! 
  • Negatives: Can be expensive, depending on what you do.

Forum Post: Discussion boards are a great way to post a message viewed and responded to by many people.
  • Example: Crap Mariner's SLBuzz posting
  • Positives: Very easy to do; potentially large audiences available. 
  • Negatives: Unless you have the trust of the audience, you will be ignored.

Press Release. A concise method of documenting your announcment.
  • Example: Codebastard Redgrave’s press release on her new filtercam product
  • Positives: Appears very professional; Relatively easy to produce. 
  • Negatives: Awkward to include video; Who do you send it to? PR services that can send it to many for you are expensive, otherwise it’s just a specially formatted blog post.

Each has their advantages and disadvantages, mainly in the effort-to-effectiveness ratio. It’s been my experience that best results occur when you use multiple techniques on the same campaign, and even better results when you link them together into combination approaches, like this:

You issue a press release on a blog regarding an upcoming event to reveal new product lines. The announcement is echoed on all microblogs, and the text is sent by notecard to relevant groups. Appearances on several shows prior to the event raise the event’s profile, as do strategically placed advertising signs. At the event, door prizes keep people talking, guessing and anticipating.

You can see that there is quite a bit to the seemingly simple task of making people aware of your product. Next time, we’ll talk about what you do after that.

By the way, you can find Eshi's amazing collection at her store, Chambre du Chocolat.


R. said...

The landmark giver signs are a two-pronged strategy.

They take advantage of the viral nature of the signs, since they are 1 prim and full permissions. Anybody who puts one up can give them out to others.

The other element is the fact that if you do NOT have a sign up and a performer is a part of this effort, they may question why it is not up. That's the peer pressure-push aspect of the marketing of the signs.

Peter Stindberg said...

As effective as show apperance might be, among all your options it is the one with the most severe limitations: timezones and sound.

I got invited a while ago to "SL Tonight Live", and while the possible PR for this would have been tremendous, I had to decline mostly due to timezone issues (rehearsal would have been at 3am my time, the actual show from 4-5am my time), and secondly to the availability of sound as I would have been required to use a microphone (not to mention my accent).

Also LISTENING is an issue too. I routinely have no sound on, but even the folks who have are with a 60% percentage no English native speakers. While they might be able to read English fairly well, listening to a podcast or (live-)video event might be a challenge.

So basically with podcasts and show appearances you only target a ~30% minority (the US- and Canadian citizens).

Anonymous said...

Good Points Arminax, as to Peters comments, I would imagine that blog posts, notecards, podcasts, press releases, and many of the things Arminax suggested would be language specific (not sure if Craps sign has a language babble-fish thingy in it...)unless you have the ability to get your blog, press release, notecard translated.

Tonight Lives audience is definitely english based at the moment, (subtitles have been mentioned as an option but not viable, too expensive and probably not an attractive option for non-english speaking people" and yes the majority of viewers are definitely in the States, but not even England and Canada are in the top 4, would you believe, as viewers, the next country under U.S was Israel this last month! .sometimes its France and Britain. in number 2 or 3rd place...

English as a second Language is spoken very well through Asia and Africa and many many other countries, the issue is not really the language barrier as I see it, as such but that SL is predominately used by people in the U.S, and getting your widget out to another demographic is tricky as SL is basically broken up into countries like in RL. German folk who are a large SL user basically hang out at German Sims, Italians the same...they have their own shops their own culture within SL, I do see a lot of different nationalities at the larger more popular shops like Armidi and places like that, but these people don't get to find out about smaller operations primarily because they are not listed high enough in Classifieds and don't appear in Showcase.

Classifieds and Showcase are the most significant way to get your widget seen. Why else are the top Classified advertisers paying over 500K a week!!!!!!! thats for that first page with the pretty pictures..then there is a steep drop in price after the first 8. The Lindens have the equivalent of the Yellow pages for Second Life with Showcase and Classifieds, and creating your own "Pink Pages" (which was always a dud, (PPs I worked as an illustrator for the yellow pages for 6 long boring years :)) is impossible I think so far to do...

Its a case of a real lack of large mass media in SL that covers all social and cultural borders I don't think its english as much.

I can't get my widget (my TV shows) out to those areas easily without some form of mass media which has not happened yet in SL. We are still in SL separated by cultural divide.

Aussies are just like that! they mostly hang out at their aussie themed sims, the very small population under 15 thousand people, that are in SL, (our weather is too good I think for many aussies to spend time indoors..) just dont want to go somewhere where they don't know anyone..and don't feel comfortable...we are definitely culturally different from Americans we have our own weird humor and social interaction.

I've often wondered how to get to the typically non-english speaking countries, because I know that a great deal of them can speak and understand enough english to watch my show if they were interested enough to do so.

I have some ideas...like plonking a ruddy huge TV in the middle of where ever they hang out..but teaching a lot of people (as Arminax) said to click that damn vid button may be the problem...

Go to any live event in SL and see how many people ask "how do we hear"...its that damn UI its just doesn't get through to a lot of people..is it a language problem when they arrive in SL? they don't know what the video and Music button are for, and they certainly don't know that when you go to a live event you click on one or the other to watch and hear...it should be sooo basic and easy, but even the lindens don't know how to use their own sound settings, (a story for another day :)

Circe Broom owner of Sunset Jazz has a sign in her venue now to explain it..but its in english :)

As far as the time zone goes Peter you obviously need your sleep :) and time-zones... thats just part of being in a global community but the amount of people who have refused to come on my show because they have to be up at 3am is probably about 2 over 70 shows, and there are a lot of my guests that live in England and Europe ect..that I've interviewed it all depends on what sort of Sleep depravation you can afford, and as far as accents go Ive found that people are extraodinary forgiving and kind when listening to a person who's 1st language is not english if they want to hear what they have to say, we just take things a little slower..but over all it depends on, how much you wanna be on my show....

So yes.. while we do need some gadget or widget that automatically gives options for other languages when clicked to receive information on your widget, it would definitely help but SL is amazingly like RL when we want to try and cross country cultural borders.

regards Paisley
Host of Tonight Live

Peter Stindberg said...

/me grins - Incidentally I run the largets and oldest translation agency in SL. Wasn't that why ou invited me in the first place?

My experience is that most non-English speakers with some Englihs knowledge are quite OK with notecards and blogposts, but not with voice events.

Anonymous said...

Nope Peter I actually asked you because of your Green furniture. I guess until that is proven we wont know for sure.

Peter Stindberg said...

Ah, ok, your team member never got back to me on that question. If you are still interested, my partner in that business is from the US and does not have my timezone issues.

In order to avoid misunderstandings: I am NOT saying show appearances are a bad idea! On the contrary! And even though percentagewise only a "minority" (a ~30-40% minority) is the core audience, this group is certainly among those with the largest commercial power, and with the largest subset of movers and shakers.

As Armi says, there is a whole lot of options out there, and just like in FL you need to create your very own media mix to fit the needs of businesses in SL as well.

Pooky Amsterdam said...

Armin, your appearance on The 2nd QuestioN! was spectacular & your opening complete with drums by Sage Duncan brilliant! Absolutely sensational & that should be shown in loop somewhere.
Agreed to each their own way of marketing, no "Holy Grail" for all, as we do have different products. S;-D
Pooky Amsterdam

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