10 Blogs Brand or Marketing Managers Should Read

July 30, 2009

In my last post 7 Free Tools Every Brand or Marketing Manager Should Use Daily, I mentioned that one of the free tools all brand or marketing managers should use is an RSS Feed such as Google Reader to collect and review their favorite industry or marketing blog posts on a daily basis.  I promised in that post to follow up with a list of my favorite marketing related blogs that are in my Google Reader to help people get started.  This post is dedicated to a few of my favorites.  However, I do have a couple caveats before launching into the list.

First of all, I personally find that reading the posts in my Google Reader is like reading the Wall Street Journal.  I pick and choose the items I am going to read each day based on content, theme, and title.  I do not read every single post completely and thoroughly because not every post is applicable to me on a daily basis.  I would recommend taking this approach to anyone getting started — otherwise all you will ever do is read.

With that said, there are a few posts that I always read from certain blogs.  Maybe they are inspirational, extremely insightful, or just fun.  I am highlighting these with a * after the title in my list below.

Finally, I should be clear that this is not an exhaustive list of blogs that brand or marketing managers should be reading.  I actually subscribe to and read about 5-10 additional blogs daily that are not included in this list.  I have not included them because they deal exclusively in social media, small business marketing, or marketing technology and these topics might not be useful or interesting to all brand or marketing managers.  Perhaps these will be included in a separate post at some point in the future.  The blogs I have included below are ones that I think are worthwhile for any marketing person. 

  1. Brains On Fire Blog by the team at Brains On Fire, a consulting firm that specializes in turning customers into fans.  This blog often takes a look at something and turns it on its head.  It often gets me to think about things differently and reminds me how everything impacts the end customer.
  2. Branding Strategy Insider* from The Blake Project, a branding firm.  This is a blog that I have recently found, but like a lot for its current branding examples to illustrate new or important branding concepts for companies.  This blog might be a little more appropriate for managers in larger companies with big brands, but I do think that the lessons can be translated to smaller brands and companies.
  3. Chris Brogan.com.  While Chris Brogan is a thought leader in social media, I find a lot of his posts to be informative for general business and marketing issues (in addition to Social Media). 
  4. Harvard Business blog by a variety of writers.  There are many daily posts, and I only skim the majority of these.  However, there are some great leadership and marketing ideas in some of these posts, and I like to see what HBR considers to be the hot daily business topics.
  5. Influential Marketing *by Rohit Bhargava.  This blog is self-described as ‘reflections on creating compelling marketing, advertising, and PR strategy’.  I think that this sums it up nicely.  It takes big brand examples but translates the lessons that can be applied to any business.  It is a little heavy on discussion around social media, but since this is a hot topic (and it is a blog), I think it is to be expected. 
  6. MarketingProfs Daily Fix.  A series of posts on current best practices in marketing and brand management.
  7. PFSK.com from a trends research, innovation, and activation company.  Daily trends or news in design, media, new products, etc.  can be very interesting and could help spark innovative ideas for any business.
  8. Seth’s Blog* by Seth Godin.  This blog is my favorite one, and I look forward to reading it daily.  Seth uses compelling yet simple examples to illustrate lessons on leadership, innovation, and marketing.  It serves as a daily reminder that authenticity is key to building a brand and a business. 
  9. SmartBlog on Social Media* from the writers of SmartBrief on Social Media.  I know I said I wasn’t going to cover exclusively social media blogs in this post, but this is an exception.  This blog often makes the ever evolving world of social media a little easier to follow.  For those of you who are still trying to get up to speed on the topic, this blog will be very helpful as it highlights ‘how to’ articles, trends, and great case studies.
  10. Trendwatching.com*.  I subscribe to the company’s free monthly Trend briefing on emerging consumer trends.  I have found each report to be very useful for research and sparking new product ideas.

So there you go — a few of my favorites.  Check them out and let me know what you think.  If you have any others to add to this list, please let me know.  As I mentioned in the previous post, the whole purpose of investing your time in reading these blogs is so that you can be a more strategic marketer and thought leader.  I really hope you find that this is the case.  Enjoy!

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7 free tools every brand or marketing manager should use daily

July 16, 2009

As I have been making the transition from being a brand manager for a large company to being a brand strategy consultant in the last few months, I have had a thirst for information in a way I never had before.  As part of my quest to become a better, more informed, and up to date resource for my clients, I have been leveraging a lot of free information and tools.  Some of these tools (such as newsletters), I collected in my inbox for years while I was a brand manager and rarely opened.  Other tools are ones that people have introduced to me in the last several months.

Recently, some of my friends in brand or marketing roles for companies have been asking me how I seem to be so ‘in the know’ about marketing trends, new products, or the latest technologies.  They know that this is information that they should and would like to know, but they don’t think that they have the time it would take to stay on top of it.  They are too bogged down in managing their brand projects and fighting daily fires, and they don’t know where to begin.  If this sounds a little like you, read on. 

Below is a list of 7 free tools any marketing or brand person at any company should use on a daily basis. 

  1. Marketing Daily News– Email newsletter every weekday that summarizes breaking news across industries in branding & marketing.  Published by MediaPost which also has many other free newsletters for various industries, targets, trends, technologies, and types of marketing professionals.  I subscribe to about 8 or 9 in total from this source.
  2. Brandweek Daily Insider – Email newsletter every weekday summarizing new brand campaigns, new products, latest research across many industries.
  3. GMA Smartbrief – Email newsletter every weekday summarizing top news in the Consumer Packaged Goods industry.  Even though it is focused on the CPG space, there is still a lot of learning to be leveraged from this publication for all marketers.
  4. Adweek Creative — Email newsletter weekly covering all news and trends in advertising content and messages.
  5. Google Alerts— Monitor your own brand and company as well as your competitors in the news and in blogs using this tool.  You receive an email with all of the clips daily, weekly, or as they happen.  Set this up under Google News.
  6. Use an RSS feed like Google Reader for blogs– Set this up to monitor your favorite marketing, industry, or customer target blogs.  In a future post, I will have a list of my favorite marketing and brand blogs to subscribe to.
  7. Twitter Search and an RSS feed — Monitor what people are saying about your brand, company, competition, industry, and category by setting up searches in Twitter.  Once you set these up, you can have them come into your RSS feed.

Going through this list will probably take about an hour to get through per day. 

I know that this big time investment, but I guarantee that the time investment will generate a positive ROI for the brand and your career.   You’ll naturally leverage new case studies and best practices in your marketing plans.  You’ll be better positioned to preempt the competition.  When your competition does act, you will be able to respond more quickly.  You’ll have a better idea of what is going on with your customer.  You’ll be the first to bring new ideas to the table.  You’ll be considered very well informed and a thought leader.

Try out these tools and let me know what you think.  And if you stumble across any other tools that you find useful that should be added to this list, please post a comment.  I’m still learning too.


Mystified by social media? Be a customer.

July 2, 2009

I guess I really shouldn’t be surprised at how many business owners, leaders, and managers there are who are really confused, intimidated, or mystified by ‘social media’.  I admit that I certainly was one of those people up until several months ago.  I was so focused on my corporate job responsibilities that I didn’t take the time to observe what was going on around me.  I absorbed marketing trends on an ‘as needed’ basis (as dictated by the immediate needs of the company I worked for).

I think that there are probably a lot of people out there in a similar situation to this.  Now, suddenly, ‘social media’ seems to be everywhere, and there are a lot of people who are really nervous about it.  They aren’t quite sure what it is, they don’t know how to use it for their business, and yet all of these social media experts are saying that they have to act quickly before they get left behind.  No wonder so many managers and business leaders are so uneasy about social media, and aren’t sure what they should do.  I think that all of this buzz and urgency is making social media seem bigger and more intimidating than it really is.

Don’t get me wrong – social media is a big deal, and it is a great thing.  It finally gives brands/businesses the ability to have conversations with their customers.  Business leaders have a better chance of understanding their customers’ needs, issues, and concerns than ever before.  They have the chance to ask customers for help in making product or service decisions.  They can leverage their customers to troubleshoot problems and can really bring their brand to life for their customer in a way not previously possible.

So since social media can be such an extraordinary tool for businesses to leverage, I’d like to provide a bit of advice to those leaders who are still intimidated or confused by it.  My advice is simple:  Before you do anything for your business, remember that you are a customer too.  You buy products and services.  You have hobbies and passions outside from your work.  Why not see how social media is used between you as a customer and the brands, companies, thought leaders, and celebrities that you are interested in?

Watch and listen.  Participate in the conversations that interest you.  Sign up for Twitter and follow people, brands, companies that interest you.  Don’t know who to follow?  Check out Tracking Twitter to find some great companies and people to follow.  Go to Google Blog Search and search for blogs on topics that you want to know more about.  Be a ‘regular person’ – just like your customers are. 

I guarantee that within a few weeks, social media won’t be so intimidating anymore.  You will begin to see opportunities for how you can join in the conversation with your customers, and how certain tools might be really useful for your business.  Sure, implementing a social media program for your business will still take a lot of thought, strategy, planning, and resources to implement effectively — but it will be so much easier to embrace it and understand its value once you can experience it as a customer.