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Bruner’s rant on why blogs make marketing sense

A couple of weeks ago, Rick Bruner, a well respected specialist in e-business strategy consulting and market research, posted to Business Blog Consulting reacting to an opinion piece in Direct Marketing News (DMNews) by direct marketing copy writer Robert Bly about how useless blogs supposedly are for marketing. DMNews’s editor, Tad Clarke, followed that up with another commentary about the stink bloggers raised in response to Bly’s column, in which Clarke said Bly found “not one iota of proof” that blogs were “the next big thing in marketing.”

Though Brunner does not suggest blogs are the “next big thing,” he was amused by the idea that Bly had since found “not one iota of proof” that they were a good marketing tactic, after Bruner had given at least one iota if not several to that effect, got me all miffed again. So, Bruner wrote Clarke a letter to the editor with further a piece of his mind.

I thought you would find Bruner’s below letter posted to his blog entertaining as well as full of information on the marketing power of blogs.

I know that Mr. Bly read my blog post in response to his article (because he emailed one of my friends about it, with his panties all in a twist).

Granted, I was juvenilely sarcastic, but such is the prerogative of bloggers. Nonetheless, I cited more than a dozen examples of companies and individuals making money off of blogs or at least credibly citing their marketing power, from Bill Gates and Jonathan Schwartz (president of Sun Microsystems) down to several one-man brands. What would convince him, I wonder? This is his idea of being open minded? Who exactly has he interviewed on the subject who is credibly an expert?

Bill Gates, founder and chairman of Microsoft; Jonathan Schwartz, president and COO of Sun Microsystems; Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman PR; Stephen Jurvetson, managing director, Draper Fisher Jurvetson (leading Silicon Valley VC firm); Mary Meeker, senior analyst, Morgan Stanley; Alan Meckler, CEO of Jupitermedia; Charlene Li, principal analyst with Forrester Research; George Soros, billionaire financier and philanthropist; Mark Cuban, billionaire entrepreneur; Seth Godin, best-selling author, marketing guru and former VP of direct marketing at Yahoo!; Jerry Michalski, president of Sociate and former managing editor of Esther Dyson’s Release 1.0: all bloggers and/or blog evangelists. All of these folks know less about marketing and the value of a dollar than Robert Bly?

No, blogs are not going to steal huge share of marketing dollars from traditional marketing tactics, but they don’t really need to in order to be effective, as they’re redonkulously cheap to operate. And granted, their best application may not direct marketing (despite a few examples I cite where they are being used effectively for that). I’m not aware that blog evangelists are claiming that’s what they’re best at. But they are good for many purposes in a marketing context, including brand evangelism/thought leadership (akin to Mr. Bly decision to advance himself as an “expert” by writing a column in your publication; “dead tree medium” was a joke he apparently didn’t appreciate), customer support, dynamic content for otherwise static site, Google fodder, and a change to join in a genuine conversation with customers and prospects outside of the intolerable din of marketing garbage we’re all bombarded with every day (dare I say by the likes of Mr. Bly’s customers), which we’ve all been conditioned to ignore or at least treat with great skepticism.

Mr. Bly is presumably one of those died-in-the-wool DMers who sees the world in black and white: direct response good, all other marketing a waste of time. I don’t disparage direct response, but I believe that they way customers buy is a bit more subtle than that. I believe that trust in the integrity of a company is going to becomes ever more important to the bottom line in our media- and marketing-saturated world, which is exactly where blogs can be effective. He may want to stick his head in the sand and ignore the validation that companies like Sun Microsystems, Microsoft, Nike, General Motors, Audi and countless other companies large and small have provided for the effectiveness of blogs because he feels personally threatened by them or whatever, but you’re doing a disservice to your readers to let him advance his evidence-free opinions on the subject without taking seriously the proponents of this burgeoning medium.

Keep up the great work Rick.

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