Friday, December 05, 2008

Advice I Don't Agree With

Yeah, I'm going to feature an article that I received that has advice that I disagree with, because there is some good marketing information here.

So what I will do is add my two cents in red. This is from

5 Marketing Tips for Businesses on a Budget

By Jennifer Lange

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand we live in a social networking world.

Businesses of all sizes have quickly caught on to the importance of having a presence at websites like MySpace and Facebook for a number of reasons.

From the sheer volume of traffic these sites attract to the demographic diversity of their users, smart marketing professionals consider social networking a significant part of their branding efforts.

Contrary to popular belief, having a substantial presence at a site like MySpace, for example, doesn't necessarily require a substantial budget. As a matter of fact, there are a number of easy-to-follow marketing tips businesses can follow to have a commanding MySpace presence, for pennies on the dollar.

1. Create a MySpace Layout that showcases your business.

A clean and attractive MySpace layout that includes your company name and a description of your products and services is essential in marketing yourself to the MySpace crowd.

When you consider that one of the most popularly searched phrases on the Internet today is "MySpace Layouts," you'll understand just how important this tip is. Aside from the popularity of social networking itself, the second fastest growing trend is customization, or the art of being able to decorate your profile with cool layouts, backgrounds, pictures, graphics and video and music applications that convey your likes and dislikes and, in essence, your overall personality to the friends who visit your page.

It's no different if you're a business. Posting a layout to your MySpace page, one that clearly conveys who you are and what you do, speaks volumes to the people visiting your profile--people who may very well become your customers.

Look online to find websites that offer custom layouts and incorporate your company's information and graphics into the elements of your layout design, including backgrounds, extended network banners and boxes within the layout such as contact tables. Whatever you do, keep it simple. Cluttered and confusing layouts lose their branding effectiveness.

MySpace and Facebook are NOT Professional Social Media Networks. Please do not use them as a substitute for a professional site. I'll have a few more options for you coming up.

2. Add MySpace friends who fit the demographic profile of your customers.

MySpace has a nifty feature that allows you to browse for friends by age, gender and relationship status. Use this tool to locate friend prospects that fit the demographic profile of your target customers and reach out to those prospects with friend requests.

When you add friends who you believe will be most interested in learning of and receiving information about your products and services, you increase your chances of gaining new customers through targeted marketing.

Be sure to communicate important company news such as discounts and special deals or the launch of new products and services to your MySpace friends as often as you can, in a reasonable manner. Keep in mind MySpace has safeguards in place to prevent spamming.

3. Work your MySpace profile.

Having a MySpace profile that features your business is one thing, "working" that profile so it works for your business is something completely different.

Assign someone within your company to manage your profile on a daily basis. It's important that they add friends, post comments, post bulletins, write blog articles and send and receive messages. Don't assume that by creating a MySpace profile, millions of people will find you. The art of social networking is just that - networking socially within a site like MySpace by reaching out, making friends and interacting with those friends as often as possible.

Also, aside from foul language or inappropriate content, don't be afraid to allow people to post public comments about your organization on your MySpace page. A big draw for social networking is the ability to be real, to speak your mind and say how you feel. If you allow only positive comments about your business to be posted, you lose credibility. But if you allow people to speak their minds, you gain credibility while learning a lot about your customers - and your business - in the process.

4. Let your MySpace friends become your own marketing army.

Posting a business layout at your MySpace page is a great idea. An even better idea is offering layouts that feature your business for free download to other MySpace users who want to customize their profiles. As a result, MySpace users get to customize their pages with cool designs featuring your business and in turn, you get an entire army of marketers who brand your organization to their friends...and friends of their friends...and so on.

Certain MySpace customization websites like, for example, now offer a service where they will create layouts and other designs, such as backgrounds, extended network banners, contact tables, graphics, glitter graphics and flash widgets, that feature a particular business, product or service (in this case, up-and-coming bands). These designs, showcased prominently throughout, are available for free download to any MySpace, MyYearBook, Xanga, Friendster or Virb user.

Not only do participating bands get excellent marketing exposure at, they get excellent marketing exposure from the various social networking users who customize their profiles with the band's layouts. Aside from bands, virtually any type of small or large business can take advantage of this service.

Bottom line - by offering free MySpace designs that feature your business, your MySpace friends, and MySpace users in general, become your very own marketing army.

5. Use MySpace Ads.

MySpace Ads, similar to Google AdSense, allows you to promote your business by targeting your advertising to MySpace users for a fraction of the cost of traditional online advertising.

MySpace Ads is an online advertising program available through MySpace that allows you to create ads featuring your business, target those ads to a specific group of MySpace users you choose based on demographics information, spend only the money you want based on your budget, and then closely monitor the performance of your campaign with detailed reporting provided through your MySpace Ads account.

Depending on the size and specifications, you can use your own ads or use MySpace's pre-made ad templates and you never pay more than the budget you originally determine at the outset of the campaign, according to the company.
Businesses on a budget should consider MySpace Ads as an affordable online advertising alternative.

About the Author: Jennifer Lange is President and CEO of (, a website specializing in layouts, backgrounds and graphics for a variety of social networking websites, including MySpace, MyYearBook, Xanga, Friendster and Virb.

Okay, here's the rest of my comments and why I disagree with using MySpace or Facebook as a professional social network.

The emphasis on those two networks is social, not professional. You will diminish your professional reputation if your webpage is a MySpace or Facebook page.

So why did I take the time to even put this article here?

Because I wanted to present to you a couple of alternatives.

You can register a domain name for your website for as little as $10 per year.

You can use Google Apps to build a basic website. You can use Blogger, or WordPress and design a professional, respected online presence at virtually no cost.

Stay away from the cute crap. Stick with the image you want to project to others that you want to attract to spend money with you.

There are even professional social networking sites that are designed to be for professionals. is my favorite. is another that some people use. You can create a forum on at no cost too. (Click on each to go to their sites.)

So, am I totally against MySpace and Facebook? No, as a matter of fact, I have a page on each of those social networking sites, but the key is it is social, not professional. (I actually signed up to stay in touch with some of my kids and their activities.)

And finally, one last word of warning regarding MySpace and Facebook. Do not put things on line that could come back to haunt you. Your current or future employer can check out your pages and decide that they do not want to be associated with you and you could be denied employment. It is still not wise to, "let it all hang out".

Sphere: Related Content


Jennifer Lange said...

Scott, I think you're doing your readers a disservice by suggesting that businesses who have a presence at sites like MySpace and Facebook diminish their professional reputation because, in your opinion, those two particular networks are for the socially-minded, not the business-minded.

I wholeheartedly disagree.

For starters, there are more than 28,000 groups at MySpace (as an example) dedicated to Business and Entrepreneurship. Of those 28,000 groups, many have tens of thousands of members, ranging from small business owners to employees at multimillion dollar corporations. Perhaps they didn't get your memo?

What's more, you suggest folks build their own websites or use tools like Blogger or Wordpress to create an online presence, yet you and I both know – as website owners and marketers – how absolutely unbelievably difficult (and expensive) it is to generate enough traffic to have a substantial online presence that grows your brand. At MySpace and Facebook, on the other hand, you're immediately "in the mix" among people who may very well be existing customers or who may very well turn out to be new customers – for no money and minimal effort. Talk about Marketing 101.

Finally, we agree on one thing – having an unprofessional online presence can be damaging for any business. However, that's where our mutual understanding stops. The beauty of sites like MySpace is that you control the content of your profile, including its messaging, its overall look and feel, the products and services showcased, the content of blog posts, the content of bulletins sent, even the comments other users post.

In my opinion, having done this for a very long time now, the best online marketing campaigns consist of not only having your own professional website, having your own professional blog, and having a presence at professional networking sites like Linkedin, Plaxo and Ning (such as the ones you mentioned), but also of having a presence at sites like MySpace and Facebook. You need to be where your customers are and since Facebook and MySpace are behemoths in the social networking space, ignoring them is akin to ignoring your customers.

I appreciate your comments and your feedback on my initial article. However, I respectfully disagree.


Jennifer Lange

ScLoHo (Scott Howard) said...

Thank you Jennifer for your additional comments on both your original article and my added words.

It sounds like you and I agree on more than you might realize.

MySpace and Facebook can be great tools for creating word of mouth and taking advantage of the thousands that are already there.

However, I believe they should be tools to bring people to your website and not used as your primary presence online.

Any business needs to go where their customers are, and as you've pointed out, MySpace and Facebook have lots of potential customers. Use them as ways to bring people to you, on your turf, to your site.

Get involved with social media, but don't neglect why you are there.

I have found lots of business owners who were told they needed a website and they went to the expense of having one built and they expected an increase in business, just because they were now online.

It doesn't work like that. You have to invite them to visit you.

And now with the advent of Google into website development, I believe it is not as complicated to build a basic home page. For more impressive websites, their are also plenty of students that have the capabilities to build it a step or two above the basic level. Finally, if you are going to be a web based business, I advise people to pay a pro by finding a site that you like and then contacting the business owner about who did their site, the cost and if they would recommend the website designer.

Use every tool available to get people to visit your website and have a reason for them to go there too.

Put your website address on everything:
email, outgoing voicemail, signage, business cards, snail mail letterhead, etc.

It will take time to build traffic to a website and social media sites are a way to speed things along.

More on this can be found here: