Kasey Steinbrinck

Writer/Producer/Marketer

22

5

WhooNEW.Com Marketing Project

What is WhooNEW.com?

WhooNEW is an online pop culture and lifestyle magazine that puts the spotlight on small businesses, events, artists and traditions in Wisconsin - with a particular focus on Northeast Wisconsin - hence the "NEW" in our name. NE WI is basically the Green Bay/Appleton area.

The mission of WhooNEW.com is to help our audience discover the people, places and things that make our region unique. That includes exploring time-honored traditions and establishments as well as uncovering new gems.

We tell the stories that make people proud to be from Wisconsin. Our content is a cross between BuzzFeed-style list posts and UpWorthy.

Our main business model is offering sponsored content to local organizations that want to reach our specific audience. But we are also looking at other revenue streams - ie selling our own WI t-shirt desgins, affiliate marketing of WI-related products etc.

***11 Essential Questions***

1. What is Marketing for?

For us marketing is anything we do publicly that tells our story and communicates our values. However, we also provide a marketing service by sharing our audience with business and individuals interested in reaching those people.


2. What are we allowed to touch?

We are allowed to touch anything conncected to WhooNEW.

The bigger and tougher question for us is - as a company providing a specific sort of marketing service - what are we allowed to touch within our clients' companies?

I see a lot of opportunity to encourage other companies to pursue "Action Marketing" as we do the same - but how responsive companies will be to that is going to be case by case.

It's unlikely we'll be able to touch things like price - but we can certainly try to make suggestions from a consulting perspective.


3. What can we as marketers measure?

Since we are a web property - we can obviously measure a lot.

It may be more beneficial to think about what we shouldn't measure.

For instance, at this point I'm not using Google Analytics on the site and sticking with the basic traffic stats available through WordPress. That's partly because I worry that I'll constantly be checking stats and never get work done. At this point, we're still focused on building an audience.

That being said - the basic numbers are really what most people/clients want to hear. How many people read my article, how many shared it in Facebook or Twitter?

We can also measure the results our clients get from working with us - leads we help generate, tracking referrals to their site, sales through coupons and promo codes etc.


4. What can we change?

There are some very distinct external changes WhooNEW is trying to make.

Potential Clients

We are trying to change the point of view that our style of marketing is "alternative," and convince local businesses that there are better ways to reach people than traditional advertising - both online and off.

Auidence

We are also trying to change the common behaviors of our audience. We want them to support local everything. That means convincing people to first be interested enough to read about it on our site, and then convincing them to take a chance and try something new.

While there are people starting new ventures all the time - they struggle to get off the ground. I know that's the same everywhere - but perhaps even moreso in this region.

Example - There's a wait at Olive Garden every night of the week, but the delicious, authentic Italian place downtown struggles to stay in business.


5. What promise are we going to make?

- Promise to Our Audience

We promise to help you discover the hidden treasure right where you live while also celebrating what makes your hometown/state/whatever unique.

- Promise to Our Clients

We promise to create content that delights, informs and engages the precise audience you want to reach in order to spread the word about the amazing things you are doing in Northeast Wisconsin.


6. What’s the hard part?

The hard part is convincing potential clients that smaller can be better.

What I mean by smaller is - more targeted, more niche, more weird - because "we are all weird" according Seth.

Sometimes it's tough when a potential advertiser thinks - "Geez - 50,000 people will see my 30 second spot during the local news. But only 2,000 will read this article in a week."

Of course, the difference is - we can offer the attention of the right 2,000 people instead of just anyone. And those people CHOOSE to read about your company rather than being interrupted and forced to listen to your message. PLUS - that content stays out there a lot longer than a TV spot/campaign.

And of course - convincing clients our way is more effective = sales.


7. Should your organization be making trends or following trends?

We are certainly following a trend. And I firmly believe we are following the right one. It's a rising trend not a falling one. Sponsored content/native advertising might be the most talked-about concept in online marketing right now.

Of course, we also might be setting the trend locally. While it seems some traditional media outlets are experimenting with this kind of marketing service - it also seems like they don't 100% get it.


8. Where is the risk?

The Risk for WhooNEW - Taking on a client that doesn't reflect our brand or our mission/values. Worse yet - creating content for a client that actually damages our brand or relationships with other clients.

The Risk for Advertisers - Trying a different marketing strategy that fails, or creating content that they are afraid might damage their image rather than improve it.

The Risk for the Audience - Trying a new business that ends up disappointing them or worse yet rips them off.


9. Who is in charge?

I am in charge.

WhooNEW began as a partnership with four cofounders. I was "in charge" but I was also trying (maybe too hard) to make everyone else feel they were important while staying in the background. I may have gone a bit too far, leading to a lack of leadership and direction.

Meetings were fairly infrequent. And when they did happen - they felt unproductive.

But this project involves multiple people working on their own - so sometimes some sorts of meetings are needed to get everyone on the same page and create a sense of unity - even if it is 90% unproductive.

Email discussions that go nowhere for days can be worse than meetings.


10. Marketers spend money. Where are you spending the money? What is it for?

When we have marketing money to spend - it goes to growing our audience - at this point anyway.

That could mean paying to promote content on social media. It could mean investing in a better email service.


11. How should we be spending our time?

Priority #1 - Building our audience by creating more content that delights and inspires.

Priority #2 - Spreading the word about what WhooNEW offers to local businesses and why it's better than traditional advertising. Also prooving that it's better.

Priority #3 - Selling it.

Priority #4 - Finding the right people to work on Priority #1 so I can focus on #2 and #3.

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Action Theory for Marketing

I'm going to skip the real-world examples and go straight into how we migh implement Seth's Action Theory with WhooNEW...

--EMOTION--

Evoking emotion in our audience is probably the thing that WhooNEW does best.

Our stories and our mission tend to spark emotions like:

A Sense of Pride - People feel good about the uniqueness of the place they call home because it's part of who they are.

Joy of Discovery - People love the feeling of finding something new right in their own backyard - typically it's something that improves or enriches their life.

Mirth - That's the emotion associated with humor. I had to Google it to be honest. Basically, people like to laugh at themselves almost as much as they like to feel proud - especially in Wisconsin where people tend to have self-deprecating senses of humor. WhooNEW offers inside jokes that people who live in Wisconsin "get."

--CHANGE--

This one is tougher for me to get my head around...

Part of the problem is that I may be assuming WhooNEW can change people more than we really can.

I may not be able to convince the entire NE WI region to stop shopping at Wal-Mart.

But perhaps a WhooNEW article could inspire one family to try a new, locally-owned restaurant rather than going to Olive Garden again.

What I need to constantly remind myself is that I should be trying to reach those early adopters - and then let them be the ones who spread ideas to the masses.

Overall - we're trying to change people in much the same way Seth explained that Apple does it. We want to give people in Northeast Wisconsin "better taste."

Better taste in where they spend their money, their time and how they live their lives.

--ALERT--

Putting permission marketing into practice is much more difficult than understanding it in theory. The ways of interuption marketing are so engrained in our heads that it's hard not to assume that "yelling" to break through the noise is the best way to get noticed.

Some of the content we've created on WhooNEW may have come a little too close to damaging the trust we have with our readers - ie too selly, too different from what people came to expect from us.

We're using typical permission marketing channels - email subscriptions, social media etc. Results have been good, not consistently spectacular, but I've done a lot worse in other projects.

At the top of my to-do list is starting an email newsletter where I can have discussions with our subscribers. These people have already demonstrated their trust, and I should be nurturing those relationships. These are the early adopters, the sneezers, the connectors, mavens and salespeople.

An open and honest conversation is my best chance of reaching them.

--SHARE--

WhooNEW has done a nice job creating content that people have liked to share.

A handful of our articles have so many shares on Facebook that the share counter stopped counting after it got to 10K+.

Not every piece of content does as well as we think it will - others come out of nowhere and spread like wildfire.

One of the biggest insights I've gained from this class so far is that we should be creating stuff that makes our audience look good when the share it.

Make them look like the trend-setters, the knowledgable ones, the funny ones - when they share something we created.

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