Start-ups saving a bundle thanks to free software programs

The Chicago Tribune reports how tappity.com
a new start-up, is using Web 2.0 technologies cheaply to run its business.

I love stories like this. Another new business that “Just get’s it..”

http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/chi-0703260075mar26,0,3666288.story?coll=chi-business-hed

The (sponsored) word on the street

BBC News site has a nice post regarding Word of Mouth advertising
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/6478889.stm

Word of Mouth advertising lends itself quite nicely to blogs. Thus, are the millions of personal blogs out there just untapped sources of advertising for big companies??

Word-of-mouth marketing, the latest advertising boom in the US, is coming to Britain. Would you be prepared to slip a casual product endorsement into a cosy chat with friends?
The average Briton is bombarded with more than 3,000 adverts a day. From Coronation Street to the school sports day, almost every aspects of our lives seems to be sponsored these days. Ads are squeezed in, on and around everything we see, do and use.

It’s relentless and we are starting to turn off and tune out. Only 14% of regular campaigns now have any effect, according to Marketing Week. To put it simply, we’ve grown tired and cynical of traditional advertising tactics. Positive word-of-mouth has always been the advertisers’ Holy Grail. On a credibility scale it comes top and traditional commercials come bottom, says advertising author Tom Himpe.

Now, word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing, already established in the US and Canada, is coming to the UK, the Magazine can reveal. And it means the banter you enjoy with their mates down the pub on a Friday night could soon shift into sales patter.

WOM is when unpaid volunteers are sent new products and, as they go about their everyday lives, are encouraged to tell their family and friends – even strangers – what they think of them. The products can be anything from mobile phones to sausages.

‘Honest’ message

WOM marketing companies are at pains to insist it isn’t viral or buzz marketing because the volunteers – known as agents, advocates, ambassadors or transmitters – must state they are part of a marketing campaign. It is about harnessing “honest word of mouth”, say companies.

Agents are not scripted, or commanded to spread only a positive message. And they are not paid. Instead, they get free samples, and what the industry calls “social currency” – the thrill of being among the first to try a new product.

It’s flourishing in the US, with 43% of Fortune 500 companies adopting it in 2007, according to the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA). Some industry experts believe it’s set to become one of the most powerful forms of advertising.

“The beauty of WOM is that it’s open, raw, real and direct,” says Mr Himpe. “Negative or positive, at least the message is genuine. It’s not just the brand talking.”

But companies that think they’ve found the Holy Grail perhaps shouldn’t get complacent. Research shows that positive word of mouth goes out to five people but negative word of mouth goes out to 10… and with much more passion.

Interview with the Beermat Entrepreneur

I was fortunate enough to interview Mike Southon, the Beermat Enterpreneur along with Dr Alan Rae on the 22nd March 2007. Mike runs a great site over at http://www.beermat.biz/.

Mike and his fellow partners, are an excellent example of a new breed of small business who exploit “The Web Pitch”. In other words, using rich Web 2.0 technologies to promote their business. In discourse with Mike, got me thinking.

Over the last eight years, I have spent a “serious” amount of time building and supporting corporate networks. Organised, resilient, scalable networks that are still being used and evolving for my former employers. Such networks, connect hundreds upon hundreds of people and costs several thousand pounds to maintain. Yes, I’m a proud father, looking back at his legacy with a sense of pride. However, the 21st Century ushered in Web 2.0. In today’s “disposable” society, you no longer need a fixed network, or a string of expensive licenced applications to run your business.

Small businesses or entrepreneurs, are agile enough to “pick and mix” and choose a wide variety of ‘free’ or cheap technologies available on the web. Readers, do you have any idea how much this messes with my brain!!?? This is COOL.

While we were sleeping, the Intenet changed. My ‘beloved’ technology doesn’t matter anymore. The barriers of understanding all this “tech stuff” are removed. Its now easier for the average Joe, to setup business, use web tools, network and reach an audience of millions, than it is to program his DVD recorder!

But… Like all technology, it does have a limited shelf life. Early pioneers like Beermat, are reaping the rewards of the time they invest in the Web 2.0 playground. Can your business afford not to?

The Top 25 Web 2.0 start ups from the UK

The Register has a nice story listing the Top 25 start ups based in the UK.
Its long overdue that UK talent in Web 2.0 technologies is finally being recognised. Show your support to these sites by signing up to them!

1. Garlik – Garlik is an online privacy firm that monitors your personal information online, and lets you know if there’s any problems .
2. Tape It Off The Internet – Allows you to share details of what you’re watching with friends, and it also points you in the direction of (legal) places to download shows.
3. OnOneMap – A property site that plots houses for sale onto Google Maps, and bills itself as a property search engine, NOT an estate agent.
4. WeHangHere – More location-based Web 2.0, wrapping social networking elements around Google Maps, with clusters of people who hang out at the same places you do.
5. MailSpaces – MailSpaces is a mix ofWeb 2.0 features, including RSS, tagging, and wikis, which aims to organise information among communities
6. Webjam – Content-sharing among communities, where you create your own pages, share them, but can also replicate other people’s and pass them on
7. Zopa – Social lending, matching borrowers and lenders like eBay matches buyers and sellers.
8. Design The Time – A “virtual reflection of time”, with a timeline that anyone can upload their content (photos, videos, text) to, as well as holding footage and info on public events.
9. YesnomayB – A dating service, with Web 2.0 features
10. Mobizines – “Mini Mags on your Mobile” Hmmm sounds awful to me
11. Ebeebo – Matchmaking for jobs, giving recruitment a Web 2.0 spin with a service matching jobseekers with positions
12. Sleevenotez – a website connecting real-time information around what you’re listening to on Last.fm
13. SelfcastTV – Originally pitched as a “Brit YouTube”, with the theory that people will be more likely to come back regularly if they’re presented with more culturally relevant videos
14. Yuuguu – a remote-access application that lets people see, share and take control of each other’s screen and applications, with live messaging alongside it.
15. Mobango – provides you with tools to convert videos, music and photos to mobile-friendly formats, then 1GB of space to store them online AND share them with other people.
16. Horsesmouth – social networking community built around mentoring. So the idea is you can sign up to find a mentor, and get their advice on your lifestyle, job or whatever
17. Cerkle – based around smaller networks of real-life contacts, using mobiles to share information and keep in touch
18. Friction.TV – a video-sharing service for people’s news and views, from professional activists to just normal people with something to get off their chest.
19. Last.fm – Listen to something new. Last.fm radio learns what you like and gets better.
20. Trusted Places – social networking around specific locations (pubs, restaurants, museums etc). It’s more about finding cool places based on people with the same tastes as you
21. DropSend – Send large files of up to 1GB without installing software on your computer, or just use it for online storage.
22. Idio – create a profile of your interests, then get an interactive magazine back with articles from all manner of sources, including blogs
23. Elertz – a free web toolbar that delivers alerts to consumers from brands, when they’ve specifically asked for them.
24. Izimi – Self-publishing, being able to serve files, photos, music and videos up from your computer to friends through their web browsers
25. Crowdstorm – Social shopping, you find stuff to buy based on how much of a buzz there is around it, as well as signing up trusted users whose opinion you’d seek before buying.

Should “fake” blogging be made illegal?

Sam Coates, political correspondent for The Times newspaper published an interesting article on 10th February 2007. It appears that in the UK, a few hotels, restaurants and online shops have been writing “glowing reviews” for their own products or services, in order to win more business. However, from 31st December, such “fake blogging” will become illegal, as a new European directive will ban businesses from “falsely representing themselves to consumers”

I believe that blogging can be rich e-marketing tool. However, how strong is the temptation for a business to embelish its products and services to win more trade? Is a small white lie acceptable in the online world?

Firms must realise that even in the online world, ethics and integrity are just as important as they are in the “offline” world. Its nice to see legislation is keeping up to date with the rapid developments in the blogosphere.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article1361968.ece

Bouncing from The Web Pitch Blog to….. The Good Pitch Blog?

Todd Defren’s, “The Good Pitch blog“, showcases the PR industry’s good work..

I especially like his Squidoo Lens, entitled “PR, Blogging, Web 2.0: Mucking About In The Marketing Mix

Why small firms should blog…

Credit goes to Steve Clayton (Microsoft) for this post on his blog.

An article was published by Phil Muncaster in the UK’s IT Week magazine (October 9th 2006) – http://www.itweek.co.uk/itweek/news/2165262/businesses-failing-cash-blogs that was entitled “Businesses failing to cash in on blogs”. It got me thinking.

“According to research of 2000 UK SME’s by Fasthosts that Phil quoted, nearly half of SME firms understand the business benefits of corporate blogs (which I doubt highly) but only 3% have plans to start one”. Mad eh? Here is why Steve thinks they should:

It’s a differentiator: clearly this research shows your competitors are not blogging so maybe you should? Get in there early, lead the way and grab your audience. That’s what English Cut did with significant commercial success.
Your customers will soon expect it: well they will as soon as your competitors give them a way to talk to them and have an ongoing dialogue in a way this is becoming increasingly common. If Dell, GM, Carphone Warehouse and others are doing it (and benefiting) shouldn’t you be?
It’s not as hard as you think: creating a good blog is time consuming but it’s getting easier and easier with tools like Technorati helping you raise your profile, Windows Live Writer making it as easy to blog as write a Word document,
You control the message: Steve attended a great seminar with Matthew Stibbe about how to write well (I’ve got lots to learn) and one thing that Steve took away is that ad agencies, PR companies and those kind of tactics have their place but often dilute your core message with marketing doublespeak. When you control the message, it’s likely to be more respected, authentic and honest. Which means people are more likely to listen.
People will find you: Trust me, search engines make you very find-able. I often look at my referrer logs to my blog (use Statcounter for free) and you’d be amazed at how people find you with the most obscure searches on Google imaginable. Write your stuff, do it frequently and be honest and people will find you. Trust me.
The Google effect: I know several small businesses who pay money to appear on Google (and MSN) sponsored ad links. They get some business from it for sure and it’s clearly a good business for Google. Here is my secret though – I have *never* clicked on a sponsored link on Google for the simple reason that it is sponsored – to me it’s artificial and I bet I’m not the only one who loses the use of their right eye when using Google and doesn’t even see that list of sponsored links over there. What does this mean though? Well if you blog often enough and with intelligent use of titles and keywords you will organically rise up the Google rankings. I’ve been amazed at my own rise for pretty broadly used words like Vista so it proves it can be done. I’m pretty sure that if I wanted to appear top of Google’s search for “Chiswick High Street” I could do so within about 3 months with some focused blogging. It’s a reasonably popular search on Google and has low competition for keywords. I setup my CHS store directory, blog about the place, generate some decent traffic and then sell some links to Foxtons, Barnard Marcus, Lom Bok and off we go…hmmm
You will find your voice: the Fasthost research showed people were put off by what to say and how to say it. I was when I started blogging but your friends and customers will soon help you shape that as they did for me. There are tonnes of places to get advice on this anyway and I’ve listed some below. Frankly, that’s just a crap excuse.

Handy Resources

Suw Charman/MSN’s How to Blog for Business – A Guide to Corporate Blogging
ProBlogger’s 31 Days to Building a Better Blog
Beginner’s Guide to Business Blogging – Originally a limited release, now available for free
The Rise and Fall Of The Hit by Chris Anderson
The Corporate Weblog Manifesto by Robert Scoble
Naked Conversations
The HughTrain
The Stormhoek Guide To Wine Blogging

English Cut is a great case study on how a business can promote its services through blogging!
However, are there other small business blogger success stories? Contact me please, I’d love to interview you!

Wow! The Web Pitch’s New Look

Greetings, the old WordPress theme was becoming too congested for my liking! Therefore I decided to apply a new theme and revamp the site.
Google ads are now located in the top left hand corner. I’ve also added another sidebar for content. A few added tweaks, should ensure the site loads a tad quicker.
The new theme, should also be easier on the eye too!

Also, if you now go into a post there are options to submit the story to one of many social news networking sites, including Digg, Technorati and Delicious

I hope you like it!

Jas.

Technorati 100: What’s Hot in the Blogosphere

A nice article on Technorati’s Top 100 blogs.

http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/technorati_100_what_is_hot.php

61 Interviews with Founders of Web 2.0 Websites

Want to know some of the secrets which make a great web 2.0 startup? Well why not learn from the founders of the most well known web 2.0 companies. Below is a collection of 61 interviews

Alex Giron, founder CSSBeauty
Alexander Kirk, founder of Blummy
Amy Bohutinsky, of Zillow
Benjamin Bejbaum, founder of Dailymontion
Bill O’Donnell, founder of Kayak
Chris Hughes, founder of Facebook
Christoph Janz, of Pageflakes
Christopher Janz, founder of Pageflakes interviewed by SEOmoz
Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist
Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist interviewed by Netsquared
Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist interviewed by SEOmoz
Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist interviewed by SFgate
Dave Pell, founder of Rollyo
Dave Pell, founder of Rollyo interviewed by Technosight
David Sifry, founder of Technorati
David Sifry, founder of Technorati interviewed by SEOmoz
Eric Costello, Client Development Lead for Flickr
Eric Rodenbeck, Mike Migurski and Tomas Apodaca, founders of Mappr interviewed by Emily Chang
Garret Heaton, founder of HipCal interviewed by SEOmoz
Garrett Camp, Co-founder of StumbleUpon interviewed by Centernetworks
Garrett Camp, Co-founder of StumbleUpon interviewed by ReadWriteWeb
Geoffrey Arone, co-founder of Flock interviewed by ZDnet
Jacob DeHart, founder of Threadless interviewed by Folksonomy
Jason Fried, founder 37signals interviewed by Web20show
Jeffrey Kalmikoff, Creative Director of Threadless interviewed by Juxaviews
Jen Mazzon, founder of Writely interviewed by SEOmoz
Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia interviewed by SearchEngineLand
Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia interviewed by Goodexperience
Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia interviewed by Wikinews
Joshua Schachter, founder of Del.icio.us interviewed by Rands In Repose
Joshua Schachter, founder of Del.icio.us interviewed by ZDnet
Justin LaFrance, founder of StumbleUpon interviewed by SEOmoz
Kevin Burton, founder of Tailrank interviewed by Emily Chang
Kevin Rose and Jay Adelson, founders of Digg interviewed by Talkcrunch
Kevin Rose, founder of Digg interviewed by Philoneist
Kevin Rose, founder of Digg interviewed by Playlistmag
Kevin Rose, founder of Digg interviewed by ZDnet – part 1
Kevin Rose, founder of Digg interviewed by ZDnet – part 2
Konstantin Guericke, co-founder of LinkedIn interviewed by Sleepyblogger
Konstantin Guericke, co-founder of LinkedIn interviewed by SEOmoz
Mark Fletcher, founder of Bloglines interviewed by Bloxpert
Mark Fletcher, founder of Bloglines interviewed by Searchviews
Martin Stiksel, founder of Last.fm interviewed by SEOmoz
Mike Davidson, founder of NewsVine interviewed by SEOmoz
Mike Reining, Co-founder of BlinkList interviewed by Emily Chang
Mike Tatum, founder of Wayfaring interviewed by SEOmoz
Nick Wilson, Co-founder Performancing interviewed by Centernetworks
Pete Cashmore, founder of Mashable interviewed by Netsquared
Robert Kalin, founder of Etsy interviewed by SEOmoz
Ron Hornbaker, founder of Propsmart interviewed by SEOmoz
Sam Shillace, founder of Writely interviewed by Emily Chang
Seth Godin, founder of Squidoo interviewed by Emily Chang
Seth Sternberg, founder of Meebo interviewed by SEOmoz
Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian, founders of Reddit interviewed by Talkcrunch
Tariq Krim and Florent Fremont, founders of Netvibes interviewed by Emily Chang
Tim O’Reilly, founder of O’Reilly Media interviewed by ReadWriteWeb – Part 1
Tim O’Reilly, founder of O’Reilly Media interviewed by ReadWriteWeb – Part 2
Tim O’Reilly, founder of O’Reilly Media interviewed by ReadWriteWeb – Part 3
Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe, founders of Myspace interviews by Spiegel
Various Web 2.0 founders interviewed by Michael Arrington