“I got to test this product line through a blog partnership – and I must say that it's just wonderful!”
Today, this kind of stuff is what’s written in virtually all popular Finnish fashion, interior decorating and lifestyle blogs. It’s more than a regular thing that a large number of blog postings include advertising links directly to presented products. They are written in cooperation with various companies, whose products received as gifts are presented repeatedly. The cherry on the cake is discount codes for products offered by the blogger’s co-partner.
Corporate cooperation and advertising links have increased tremendously. Blogs have become more and more important as marketing channels for enterprises, and as a result of this, bloggers have taken a professional approach. In Finland as well, the most popular bloggers reap big rewards these days, though no one here is likely to match the annual income of Norway’s most popular fashion blogger Ulrikke Lund, at one million Norwegian kroner (approximately EUR 107,000).
If a company were to publish the same sort of content on its own blog, it would be quickly overlooked or may even be viewed with hostility. A corporate blog must under no circumstances contain purely advertising- and marketing-based material. This, if anything, repels readers – as stated in numerous books on communications and marketing as well as international research articles.
Instead, one should skilfully build a confidential relationship with consumers by offering them content that gives them added value. It is only after long and persevering work that content producers may be rewarded when the consumer buys such products and, in the best scenario, recommends them to friends as well.
Why is it different with fashion, interior decorating and lifestyle blogs?
Because blogs have the capacity of influencing consumers’ purchase choices: readers regard bloggers as a reliable source of information. Elina Pohjonen’s marketing pro gradu thesis, Asiakasuskollisuuden teemat muotiblogeissa “Themes of customer loyalty in fashion blogs” relates the same thing: according to this, readers do not regard blog postings as direct advertising but rather as information coming from a personal source.
Many popular bloggers have succeeded, as a result of many years of work, to establish a close relationship with their readers to the extent that readers even regard them as their friends. This way, it goes unnoticed that many bloggers are entrepreneurs, and the blogs concerned are actually their corporate blogs. The blog is the channel for the blogger’s business to tell about a brand that, in this case, is the same as the blogger.
If the owner of a brick-and-mortar store were to flout the excellence of his products on his company’s blog, would he be regarded as a trustworthy source? Of course not.
How about when fashion bloggers praise products that, indirectly or directly, give them their livelihoods: are readers convinced of the value of the products? According to the research results, yes.
The blog world is changing rapidly, and it will indeed be interesting to follow how the relationship between readers and popular bloggers develops if the direction of the content continuously goes in a more commercial, advertising-based direction. Will a friendly relationship be maintained when stories providing an interface for personal identification are increasingly replaced by poorly hidden advertising – if hidden at all?
General attitudes can change in a flash. For this reason, businesses should closely follow any shifts that occur on the blog front. Although many companies may regard bloggers as perfect co-partners today, the situation may also change rapidly.
In examining the work of fashion bloggers in a study written by Elina Noppari and Mikko Hautakangas, ”Kovaa työtä olla minä – Muotibloggaajat mediamarkkinoilla” (“It’s hard work to be me – Fashion bloggers on the media markets”), it was already concluded four years ago that enterprises would possibly soon have to look for new operational models. Social media is known to be a very windy place.
The writer is a communications professional who is currently working on her doctoral thesis studying interest group communications occurring via corporate blogs.
Bank refused to forward payments, PayPal froze funds.
Helsinki-based translation agency Isis Translations has quit the battle over its name. The company is changing its name to registered trademark Pauhu Ltd.
“The real Isis is known as the benevolent goddess of creativity. Unfortunately, a certain infamous organization started using the same name. I’ll let you guess the resulting consequences”, says company MD Linda Ahlblad, motivating the name change.
In the fall of 2014, Isis Translations asked the media to call the other organization by its self-proclaimed name, IS (Islamic State), instead of the abbreviation “ISIS”, which the organization itself had stopped using. The name has, however, never gained a foothold in Finland.
Ahlblad says the translation agency has met surprising challenges in its international operations, ranging from denial of service attacks from abroad to various refusals.
“A certain bank refused to forward a payment to us, since the recipient was Isis. US-based money transfer service PayPal, on their part, has repeatedly demanded explanations for our payment transactions. Some of our funds are still under PayPal investigation”, Ahlblad continues.
The company’s new name, Pauhu, is an old Finnish word (meaning ‘rumble’, ‘roar’ or ‘thunder’). No organizations bearing the same name, whether good or bad, are known to exist.
“Pauhu has a far-reaching sound to it. It is also a perfect fit for a Key Flag company, promoting our Finnish origin”, Ahlblad states.
Pauhu Translations specializes in clever marketing translations. The agency features a network of approximately 40 translators, translating into all European languages, as well as Russian. Its clients include American Express, Mercedes-Benz and Ruukki. Pauhu follows the terms of the Finnish Association of Translators and Interpreters and is the only translation agency accredited with the Association for Finnish Work’s Key Flag.
Pauhu Ltd, Managing director Linda Ahlblad, tel. +358 (0)40 866 8669, email@example.com – www.pauhu.fi
There was a time when customer magazines were regarded as second- and third-rate publications. “Real” journalists turned their noses up at them and swore on whatever was available for the purpose that never ever would they as much as touch them with a ten-foot pole.
However, as so often happens, the world changed – and there’s no going back. If in the old days the most expensive grades of paper, finest images and best stories were found only in top-brand consumer magazines published by prestigious agencies, the situation has certainly moved on from there. Nowadays the best-looking periodicals and many of the best articles and reporters can be found almost as often in customer magazines as in traditional publications.
There have always been good customer magazines. Finnair’s well-known Blue Wings is a customer mag of the very best calibre. Its content and appearance have invariably competed well against even the best public magazines (though it must be remembered that Blue Wings has always been put together inside the publishing department of a bona fide magazine publishing house). Publications like Blue Wings are characterized precisely by how good they are, as well as the high quality of their content – quality in which all manner of marketing dazzle has shone in its absence.
A customer magazine is at its best when it serves or entertains its readers in all channels used by the customer. To ensure that any publication is either browsed through or read, it must generate some kind of added value. Marketing spiels are the least interesting content of all and – luckily – an increasingly vanishing species of publishing tradition.
The purpose of a customer magazine is not to simply sell anyone a product right here and now. Its readers frequently know that they are reading a company publication, and understand that the enterprise wants to have or keep them as clients. It is precisely this that represents careful cultivation of a customer relationship: that the maker of the magazine – in this case the company – appreciates its readers so much that it is willing to go to the trouble of providing a publication as a service to them. This is called a magazine/reader relationship.
In the hierarchy of periodicals, so-called coffee table magazines have ruled the roost. These are publications that are meant to be left for guests to see on the coffee table – status symbols that define the status and value system of their readers. Many customer mags have reached this point by operating exactly the same way as so-called “real” magazines. They have given attention to the quality of content and appearance, taken their readers’ special needs into consideration, and responded to these aspects by still giving them a little more.
Business enterprises have woken up to the potential of customer magazines. A well-done customer mag increases the attraction of the company’s brand as a whole. Most have understood that, for example, there need not be a dozen stories about cleaning in a customer magazine for the cleaning industry: in fact, the content of a customer mag should not restrict itself to the field of the parent company and spreading its gospel.
A carefully conceived and well-executed article on a fascinating theme tells the customer that s/he is appreciated. Once respect is earned, it is not very easily lost. If an enterprise cares about its customers so much that it offers them a customer magazine on top of its other products and services, that positive message travels far and wide.
After all, a good story is a good story when told in a customer magazine as well!
Cityscapes embrace a certain sort of dazzle, including taped-up trams and multicolured illuminated advertisements. The quantity of adverts illustrates the total number of services and the city’s scale of activity. They’re also part of the everyday aesthetics representing a fundamental part of all cityscapes – but everything can nevertheless be done well or poorly, elegantly or without any sense of style.
When there’s an abundance of advertising, it no longer gets noticed. Advertisements and posters on buses and trams turn them into tape-covered moving commercials – a flow of images with low entertainment value that may even irritate viewers.
In Helsinki’s Kalevankatu street, there is a 37 square metre billboard, where each advert rotates 8,500 times a week. Media sales reps claim that the message reaches a million people a week. Hopefully marketing decision-makers don’t swallow this. One could also claim that in a week, one million people turn their gaze elsewhere. It does have attention value, of course.
Moving ads have become a form of visual contamination which could be prohibited entirely. It’s been estimated that it would be a significantly better key resource for advertising as well as profitable for business if the City of Helsinki were to become an advertising ‘free zone’ – that internationally famous and rare little town where no advertising exists at all. A peaceful, safe, clear, beautiful, relaxing venue.
Sao Paulo – Brazil’s largest city – has already managed without advertisements for close to ten years. There was an aspiration behind the ban to cleanse the city of rubbish and excessive stimuli, as well as to intervene in visual contamination. Curtailing outdoor advertising increased active participation in commerce. When the big adverts disappeared, small signs took on new value. Underneath the flood of commercial advertising, buildings, information placards, rest stops, street names, people, shop windows and the logos of enterprises came into view.
The amount of advertising can be an indicator of success in a capitalist world, but it may also be a measure of despair. Or one of uncertainty. Some want a sea of advertising similar to Times Square or Broadway, but this sort of wistfulness is closer to being pitiful.
Helsinki could take a bold step forward and start with prohibiting moving advertising displays entirely and dedicating the sides of vehicles and walls of construction sites for advertising cultural events instead.
The regulation and control of advertising sites could be targeted at healing the cityscape, improving the enjoyment of street dwellers and residents and, through this, at boosting business for shops as well.
Today, many are considering how to reap the best harvest from their marketing. The 2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends - North America report by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs conveys an important piece of advice: a documented content marketing strategy has been proven to boost marketing. In other words, sales suffer if the strategy remains empty words instead of being written down.
Only a third of the B2B marketers responding to the questionnaire actually had a written strategy for content marketing within their organization. About half had a strategy that had not been documented in written form.
In addition to being documented, it is essential that the strategy is meticulously implemented. According to the survey, less than half (42 %) observed their strategies precisely, with half fairly precisely. To the Institute, the conclusion is clear: the most influential marketing occurs when the company has a strategy in writing that is also observed and meticulously implemented.
Thus – go from words to deeds, put your strategies on paper, have a clear road map for implementation and be active!
Warm autumn greetings,