Process check

If you've been following the conversation here, you know that this blog focuses on marketing - and a lot of different flavors therein.  We've been writing for nine weeks now and with the end of a quarter and beginning of a US holiday weekend, it seems like a good point for a process check.

We had a low-key launch in April and a few key blogs noticed, including BW's Blogspotting, Church of the Customer, and Media Guerrilla.  Thanks for the mentions and to everyone who's subscribed to the feed or email.  We've been meeting on a regular basis to discuss bloggable topics and post a team viewpoint (led by a single analyst).  We've also been posting occasionally when we find something interesting to discuss.

There are a few things we've noticed along the way that aren't publicly transparent:

  • While our posts aren't generating a lot of comments or trackbacks, we do receive a lot of email and phone calls after posting on a topic.  For example, I got great tips about the brand monitoring wave that's currently in progress - but there was only one comment on the post. 
  • Team blog meetings have helped to cross-pollinate knowledge and broaden our insight into other marketing disciplines.  For example, I'm no marketing automation expert, but Elana is, so it's great to hear about brand issues from a left-brain context.
  • Blogging isn't the easiest thing to do when a big portion of your regular job is to write anyway.  They're related, but our written research takes a much different tone and structure than blogging.  Not a bad thing, just different styles for different channels and purposes.  For more on blogging issues, see the MarketingProfs blog.

So are some open questions to you:  what do you like?  What do you think needs improvement?  What would you like to see more coverage of?  Is there something about our approach that dampens an active dialogue?

What it means:  we are enjoying the conversation, even if it's of a public/private nature.  Based on your feedback, we'd like to improve things to make the conversations more useful to you and other readers.  Our assumption is that by increasing the discussion level around issues, everybody benefits.

The syndicated research model doesn't easily allow for discussion, but the blog platform does - it would be great to have all those great minds we're engaging with (past, present, and future) sharing their knowledge here.

So let's hear it!  What's your analysis for these analysts?

Comments

re: Process check

I deeply respect Forrester's work and have subscribed to the Forrester Marketing Blog since day one. The posts tend to be a litte stiff and informational versus conversational and provacative. I'm not saying one is better than the other, but I think that's the reason comments are less than they could be. I go to Forrester Marketer blog because I think it gives me information that may be useful from a source that is deemed credible much of the time -- not to engage in a conversation. In fact, I think this is the first post where Forrester Marketing Blog authors actually reached out to readers -- which is why I'm responding. These aren't criticisms, just observations amidst your pondering of comments.But one definite suggestion: Distinguish the authors a little better -- emphasize the human side of them, with pictures, bolder attributions, etc. In general, group blogs tend to be more difficult for showcasing personality -- groups tend to average out the personalities. So, you need to work to compensate that.At the end of the day, I enjoy what you write. So if you stick to the same format, I may not comment, but I'll defiintely pay attention and remain a loyal reader.(Compare your group blog to the MediaPost column/blog I participate in weekly, in which I'm graded overtly by the number of comments left by readers. I'm not sure that's the right way for all situations, but certainly underscores that the priority there is audience participation, as demonstrated by comments.)

re: Process check

I agree wholeheartedly with Max's comments - a little more personality would be good. It is something many bloggers wrestle with initially, especially those well steeped in the 'corporate mentality'. I certainly sometimes do!Hearing more about personal experiences/meetings/stories and anecdotes would help enormously.I think that James Enck at Daiwa is a good example of getting it right. His blogs are at http://eurotelcoblog.blogspot.com/ and also at http://chaotica.blogspot.com/Hope that helps

re: Process check

Great comments - would love to hear more as others get caught up from the long U.S. holiday weekend. Personally, one of my biggest issues is blogging both for and outside of work. I try to adjust topics and tone, but feel like I'm coming out somewhere in a bland middle.Thanks for the insight - I think that we can definitely work on adding more personality to the posts, while maintaining rigor of analysis. We are a fairly diverse group, which isn't apparent (by choice) in our syndicated research and would be valuable to highlight here.But if we try for a while and it doesn't seem to be working - maybe it means we're just a bunch of boring people after all...!

re: Process check

I whole-heartedly agree with Max's comments. I would add one more suggestion to the list:Try to pay attention and respond to those who do comment on your blog. I've posted comments in the past that have gone unanswered [and unchallenged]. Remember, blogs are an effective tool to engage readers and generate conversation...which can't happen if the authors don't bother responding to comments, which in turn causes folks to keep comments to themselves, etc.In sum, while I'm able to glean some great information from the blog, I think you can take it to the next level by exposing the human sides of yourselves and really committing yourselves doing what it takes to have a successful blog.Congrats on your first quarter of blogging. Getting started is half the battle. Keep up the good work.

re: Process check

Agreed - on the flip side of responding to comments, is there a limit? For example, sometimes responding to comments feels like always trying to get in the last word...Great posts on your blog. I'll keep an eye out for elderly women who try and get too friendly!

re: Process check

"I go to Forrester Marketer blog because I think it gives me information that may be useful from a source that is deemed credible much of the time -- not to engage in a conversation."I relate to Max's statment in a big way. I tend to do the same thing. There are blogs out there that serve as information sources to me. They'll alert me to a topic that I can research further, but it's the blogs with a definitive POV that draw me into a conversation.If generating discussion is an objective for the Forrester blog, POV and personality matters and will help induce feedback and dialogue. And that will only help make the blog better for both you and your readers (hopefully participants).

re: Process check

I would agree with the suggestions that have been made...would add that it would be great to see you all commenting on other blogs more. I have many blogs in my aggregator and frequently don't get to it in any kind of orderly fashion...when I see a comment on a blog that I am interested in I generally visit their blog or if I am already a subscriber it serves as a reminder. Additionally, there are many conversations going on that it would interesting to see you join. Gladd you are blogging.

re: Process check

Peter -- Agreed on most of the suggestions above. To be honest, I read your "BeingPeterKim" personal blog more often than I do the Forrester blog, because I know you and I think you let more of your personality out in the BPK space, making it ultimately more interesting and readable.The writing voice you use on that blog is looser and more conversational, which sets a different tone. I think voice as much sets the tone for a blog as does graphics, bolder headings, distinguishing contributors, etc. (Then again, I *am* an editor!)

re: Process check

So here's an assumption we had when starting the blog that didn't turn out to be 100% accurate. In Forrester's existing publishing model, there are limited feedback channels. The most common - clients can vote on research documents on a net promoter scale and include comments.By launching a blog, we intended to engage more deeply with our clients, beyond a few research docs per analyst every quarter. We also wanted to engage in a conversation with the marketing and business community at large. There are a lot of smart people both within and outside of our client base and it's fun to share ideas.So we assumed that with a new two-way communication channel, the conversation would start naturally. In reality, it hasn't started as fast as we assumed, but it's not disappointing either. We're learning as we go and the comments here provide great insight.Another factor at play is the growth of blogging within the marketing community. HP's Eric Kintz had a great post on where things stand here: http://h20325.www2.hp.com/blogs/kintz/archive/2006/07/05/1259.htmlLooking forward to continuing the conversation!

re: Process check

Blogging has a sort of Just Add Water & Stir aura as a publishing model. But as you point out, Peter, the same old rules still apply: You still build readership one individual at a time. I know I've discovered that.Great post by Eric. He's an example of someone who is truly helping to further the conversation.