Marketing News

Millions of Dollars in Publicity for a $1,000 Reward to Find Tiger Woods Cigar Guy

By now, you have likely seen the famous Tiger Woods Ryder Cup photograph, with the ball in mid-air heading right for the photographer, and an interesting-looking guy smoking a cigar in the background. In case you haven’t seen it, the image is above for your viewing pleasure.

Despite the shot looking cool, as the ball was headed directly for the camera, the real story became the hunt for the guy smoking the cigar. Dubbed “Cigar Guy,” the Be Frugal blog (BeFrugal.com) offered a $1,000 reward to whomever is the first person identify the person smoking the cigar. They are holding a contest because they want this guy to be their next spokesman.

The contest and $1,000 reward have generated millions of dollars in publicity. News outlets including Huffington Post, NBC Sports, ABC, Wall Street Journal, and CNN are covering this special offer with news articles and reports, all linking to the BeFrugal.com website. What would essentially cost the company $1,000 has brought them priceless coverage.

This is great viral marketing!

Ultimate Bet Poker Rebrands as UB.com

Ultimate Bet PokerUltimate Bet Poker is a poker website frequented by hundreds of thousands of poker players each month. The company just announced a rebranding effort, and the website will now be known as UB Poker. Site users had long referred to the company as “UB,” so it made sense to rebrand.

Along with the newly minted brand, the company has also begun using its recently acquired domain name, UB.com. Up until the end of July, the domain name was owned by a private domain investment company.

Users can still log in via UltimateBet.com, which surprisingly (surprising to me) doesn’t forward to the new url, although the new logo reflects the acquisition and rebranding effort. When you search Google and Yahoo for “Ultimate Bet,” the domain name that has been in use for years is the number one result rather than UB.com.

The acquisition price for UB.com was not made public by the company, but knowing the domain owner, it was not cheap!

Update: An unconfirmed rumor has it the name sold for around half a million dollars.

WordPress & .ME Partner on WP.me

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I don’t own a single .ME ccTLD domain name, and I have no plans to buy one any time in the near future, but I thought the following press release issued by the .ME Registry was interesting. They are partnering with WordPress to offer a URL shortener on the WP.me domain name.

In my opinion, this is a great marketing idea for the registry, because a domain extension’s usage in the market place is what makes consumers aware of its existence, leading consumers to purchase these domain names, which in turn adds value to owners of premium domain names. The more value they have, the more investors and consumers will want to purchase them – making it a win/win for all parties.

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More than 225,000 bloggers will now be directing readers to their latest posts using a .Me domain extension, thanks to a newly announced partnership between the .ME Registry and popular blog creation site, WordPress.com. The agreement led to the creation of WP.Me – the world`s first two-letter .ME domain. WordPress is now offering the domain as a URL shortener…allowing its hosted bloggers to provide abbreviated links to their posts, and making it much easier to promote those links on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.

“These short links are about 70 percent smaller than the permalinks for a given post,” says Matt Mullenweg, a co-founder of WordPress. “Thanks to our friends at the dot-ME Registry, WordPress is able to offer one of the shortest and most
effective URLs available today.”

According to Mullenweg, WP.Me is different from other URL shorteners in a variety of ways:

* Every blog and post on WordPress.com will now have a WP.Me URL.
* They only work with WordPress.com-hosted URLs.
* The links are permanent and will work as long as WordPress.com is around.
* WP.Me is spam-free because WordPress constantly monitors and removes spam from WP.com.

“Dot-ME embraces and celebrates this kind of innovation,” says Predrag Lesic, Executive Director of the .ME Registry. “In the short time dot-ME has existed, our domain extension has broken many barriers to become so much more than just another ccTLD. WordPress saw the potential of dot-ME and we applaud them for it.”

Visit WordPress.com to learn more about how to get your very own WP.Me URL.

5 Tips to Get Direct Advertising Deals

In my opinion, people who develop websites that aren’t selling products or offering a special service should strive to bring on advertisers directly in lieu of pay per click advertising or Adsense. Forget about ad networks, cut out the middle man, and you will greatly increase your revenues.

The first step is arguably the most difficult – building a website with unique content that ranks well in search engines and has consistent, growing traffic. I believe that once this has been accomplished, getting advertisers to directly place banners or links on your website is where you will make the most revenue. If your site is bringing targeted traffic, there are advertisers who would like the attention of this traffic.

Here are 5 tips to getting direct advertising deals:

1) Do a Google search for 10-15 keyword phrases related to your website and identify the companies that are paying for advertising on the top and side of Google. Don’t just use the most obvious searches. Search for complimentary services as well, since those advertisers might be interested in advertising on your site as well. For my blog, I would search for keywords such as hosting, web development…etc. Visit those advertisers’ websites, and on the About Us or Management page, find the person responsible for Marketing/Advertising and call him to let him know about your website and rates.

2) Scout out your competitors’ websites to see who is advertising directly on those sites, and see how your site stacks up on public analytics websites such as Alexa and Compete. Compare your PageRank and search engine positioning with theirs. Find out what they charge, and based on the ranking comparison, price your advertisements accordingly. Create a pitch sheet with these stats, your website’s traffic, and email the Marketing/Advertising Manager for those companies and tell them about your website and competitive rates.

3) Learn about the leaders for the industry in which your website is located. See if they operate affiliate programs, and if so, sign up for those programs and add their banners prominently on your website. Depending on the performance of those banners, set your direct advertising rates accordingly to make sure you aren’t losing money by going direct. Reach out to some of the smaller companies who compete with the affiliate companies on your site, to let them know you’d prefer to go direct with them and will take down their competitors’ banners.

4) If your website is in an industry in which you do business, speak with your Account Representative or someone at the company that works with you, and let them know you are looking to bring on advertisers on your related website. Either offer them special deals in exchange for customer incentives or do some sort of product trade if they aren’t able/willing to pay for advertising. Eventually competitors will follow suit if your website has targeted traffic.

5) Probably the easiest way is to add an easy to see “Advertise” link, allowing site visitors to easily contact you about advertising opportunities. Make sure you have a form to get enough information about who is inquiring, and make sure you contact them ASAP – preferably by phone. Tell the potential advertiser your goals for the site as well as the analytics, and share your passion for whatever the website is about.

Twitter Call to Action from Best Buy

Best Buy TwelpforceI saw my first television commercial with a Twitter call to action in lieu of a phone number or corporate website. Best Buy had a commercial on National Geographic where they had the url Twitter.com/twelpforce across the screen for the length of the commercial. As a direct marketer, I don’t really like this idea for a few reasons:

1) Unless they have a special deal with Twitter, they can’t track the results (how many people visited the page)
2) They are building Twitter’s brand, not Best Buy’s brand
3) It’s difficult to remember the url, and if a visitor typos it, they get a Twitter error message, not a Best Buy 404
4) Not everyone knows Twitter – presumably much less than people who know Best Buy
5) Many people that know Twitter don’t use it
6) Could lead to a very short and annoying user experience if visitor is not familiar with Twitter

IMO, if Best Buy wants to encourage people to visit or befriend its Twitter account, they could have sent people to Best Buy’s website with a backslash for Twitter. They could explain why people should use Twitter and why they should follow Best Buy on Twitter. For people who don’t use Twitter, this would be a nice lesson about what Twitter is and a real world example of the power of Twitter.

With this call to action, if someone who is unfamiliar with Twitter visits the site, they might leave unsatisfied, whereas if they visited the Best Buy website, they could at least navigate to other Best Buy pages. The irony of the situation is that Best Buy has a call to action on its Twelpforce page, encouraging Twitter visitors to visit BestBuy.com/Twelpforce – ironic, no?

At least had they sent people to the Best Buy website initially, they could track the number of people who typed it in when the commercial aired and could further track the customer experience on their site. By sending the visitors directly to Twitter, they can’t track the visitors or the return on their investment.

Featured on CNN and New York Times!

We’ve all seen infomercials, product marketing campaigns, and other websites that proudly boast “featured on CNN,” New York Times, Wall Street Journal, or some other popular journal or trade publication. The usual objective is to convey trust to the visitor, essentially saying that if a trusted source like NBC featured the product, service, or author, then it or he must be legit!

In some cases, I believe this is simply a marketing ploy and can be misleading. Some of the leading press release companies offer great placement on leading websites and trusted resources, assuming you can afford to pay for their services. This is great for companies who want to distribute information to a wide audience, but I think it’s misleading to say they were “featured” in the specific publication, when the company paid to have its news posted.

While the definition of the term “featured” can vary and may semantically be accurate to boast, I think it can be misleading and it bothers me when companies undeservedly boast.

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