Toby Bloomberg, our guest for today’s LexBlog Q & A, is an Atlanta-based marketing specialist who has tapped the valuable resources the Internet.

Her company, Bloomberg Marketing, has used the web to further her clients’ reputation since 1997. In addition to her professional services, Toby uses her Diva Marketing Blog to provide commentary and analysis on the marketing world, and offers an Internet radio show ("Diva Marketing Talks") where she speaks to featured guests on social media marketing.

Our interview with Toby is this week’s two-parter. In part 1, below, she discusses the origin of the "diva" and when she encourages her clients to blog; tomorrow, part 2 will publish, which features Toby’s commentary on joining the conversation in the blogosphere, bloggers as journalists and more.

1.Rob La Gatta: You’ve established a brand surrounding the Diva Marketing image, but where did the “diva” first come from? Do you think establishing a unique reputation this way has given you an advantage over other marketers?

Toby Bloomberg:

Diva Marketing began life as a marketing column for an online publication targeted to women in business. I wanted the articles to be fun for the readers and for me too. I began to play around with a funky voice, that in retrospect was more conversational than traditional magazine style writing. I included references to “girlfriend” and “martinis” that sometimes reflected the style of Sex In The City but with a definite focus on providing practical information. What surprised me was the positive feedback I received from both women and men.

When the publication closed its virtual doors I wanted to continue the genre. I tried to find a new “home” for Diva Marketing but it didn’t quite fit into any of the online or offline publications around at the time (2002-03).

Diva Marketing (blog) was launched in the spring of 2004 as an experiment to simply understand the logistics of blogging. I had a website, so why did I need a blog? It was meant to be a fast learning. Little did I know that I would quickly get hook, find a new passion and Diva Marketing would morph into a “blog brand.” It was a surprise to me.

In the continuing cluttered world of business blogs and social media the Diva Marketing “brand” has given me an identity that I would never have obtained from my company name – Bloomberg Marketing. Unless of course Michael Bloomberg wanted to acquire my business (smile). The name does stand out in a list of blogs and sounds fun. I think people are curious to give an initial click.

However, at the end of the day a cute name or even a memorable name is just the beginning of a brand. It’s about proving value for your community. People read blogs for three reasons: information, entertainment and community. I work hard to weave all three elements together to offer those that who stop by a fun experience where they can also take away a tip or two to help them market smarter.

2. Rob La Gatta:How frequently do you encourage your clients to start a blog? When you do are they generally receptive to the idea or does it take some time convincing?

Toby Bloomberg:

To give a bit of a perspective, what sets me apart from many consultants who are working in social media is my background in marketing strategy and research. I’ve always viewed blogs, and now social media, as tools that marketers can use to reach and understand customers. When I work with organizations strategies are considered from the perspective of: does it make sense for the brand? If it does, how can the tactics be integrated into the master marketing plan to support business outcomes? With blogs and social media there is an additional element that other marketing strategies usually don’t consider – does it provide value to the customers and stakeholders?

Another critical component we look at is the culture of the organization. Social media is not a play toy and it’s not a silver bullet. The organization must be ready to adapt to answering questions that they didn’t ask. By that I mean not only to listen to their customers in new channels (blogs, communities, videos, etc.), but to put systems into place to take action and respond to the unsolicited feedback of its stakeholders.

In addition, to understanding how to participate in wide open discussions that can be heard by people all over the world, the trust and respect an organization must give to its employees who are involved with social media initiatives is critical. Even with guidelines and training (and blessings from the legal department) for many companies internal employee marketing is as innovative as a micro blogs or RSS or widgets.

What I do tell clients is that even if they are not ready to jump in with both feet, it’s important to pay attention to the talk about their brand, their industry and trends. What I do tell clients is that social media is not a fad. It’s not going away. With the ease of photo sharing, video sharing, blogs, communities, etc., the opportunities that our customers have to share what is important to them (and we hope some of that chat includes brands) will continue to grow.

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  • Rob and Kevin – It is an honor to join the talented people in the LexBlog Interview Series. Thank you for the opportunity to talk about my passion .. social media marketing. I hope your community finds a few ideas that will help them with their conversation marketing strategies.