Left Bay’s Musings on the Media

Searching for answers in sales and marketing

Archive for May, 2007

We’re still waiting for the elusive Algorithm.

The Algorithm is the most recent great success story of viral marketing. Ask is definitely getting something right if it’s getting the whole world in an upheaval over it. People in the search industry are buzzing over the assertive billboards, at first questioning their origins and are now eagerly waiting for more. Non-industry people are asking, “What the hell is an algorithm, and what does it have to do with Jesus and Ted Kaczynski?”

When the campaign first launched, quite secretly I might add, there was an immediate backlash of blog posts full of pictures, questions and speculations. I saw my first billboard driving down 101 a few weeks ago. “The algorithm killed Jeeves,” it read, and nothing else. After furrowing my brows for a minute, I decided it was a new ad by Google, attempting to reinforce its enormous shadow over the search industry. “But specifically attacking Ask.com? That’s uncharacteristic,” I thought briefly, and continued driving.

In the following weeks, a flood that grew to become more like a tsunami, swept through the search world. People thought the ads were bizarre, confusing, stupid, off-putting, smart, clever, vague; and then continued to blog and comment about it. We definitely know more now. We know Crispin Porter + Bogusky is behind it, Ask.com’s new-ish agency. We’ve seen all the other “Algorithm” billboards by now. We’ve seen the Google-attacking urinal ad. We’re waiting for more.

Why is it successful? It’s everywhere! People can’t not talk about it. The campaign screams curiosity. We want more. We want the rest of the story. Who is this algorithm, and what does that funny word mean?

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Hello?! Where’s Your Contact Info?

Why do so many people think the only way to provide contact information is to put it in the “contact” section of your web site? It’s all very nice and tidy, I suppose, having it all in one place, but who ever said that’s the only place it should be? We have a new client in the service business, and so we were surprised when reviewing their site that their phone number was at the bottom of their first page. Why wasn’t it at the top? “We didn’t want it to be intrusive,” we were told.

Hello?! If you’re going to promote your company, particularly if you’re a service company, make it easy for your customers to find you. Here are five other ways for service businesses to get additional “contacts:”

1. Printable Coupons: Phone number should be front and center.
2. Describe and Link: If you talk about your “Friendly Customer Service,” be sure to link it to your contacts page.
3. Promise to Answer the Phone: If you really do have someone answering your phone, make a point of saying it. For most customers, it’s actually refreshing knowing someone will pick up when they call.
4. Where do you Service? Are you all over the state? Just the city? Let ’em know, and on the first page, too.
5. Promote Your Mailing List : Make it easy to subscribe to a newsletter you send out. Have a new confirmation window that pops up so visitors won’t lost their place on your site.