C.B. Whittemore blogs at Flooring The Consumer, #9 on the October 2007 M20 list. She is Director of In-Store Innovation for Solutia Inc.’s Wear-Dated carpet fiber division. Her blog focuses on marketing and the consumer retail experience, especially in flooring.
Here’s more on C.B.:
*How long have you been blogging?
Since June 27, 2006 – to be exact.
*How did you first hear about blogs?
I first became aware of blogs in late 2003/early 2004 while researching marketing to women, the retail experience and word-of-mouth marketing. Most of the ‘sharing’ of perspectives was done then via newsletter, but blogs were cropping up. As newsletters converted to blogs, I subscribed to them. I didn’t immediately realize that these were blogs; I did, though, consider them rich and interesting, relevant and wonderfully fresh because of their frequency. Andrea Learned’s Learned On Women comes to mind, as do Tom Peters and David Polinchock’s BEL Brand Experience Manifesto.
I passively monitored the medium as articles appeared more frequently in USA Today and The New York Times. Then, in mid 2005, MarketingProfs offered a webinar about building word-of-mouth through blogs. The presenter suggested a Dummies book which I devoured, dog-eared, highlighted and filled with stick-em notes.
I took the blogging plunge after attending an Innovative Marketing Conference sponsored by Corante and Columbia Business School. Everyone in the room was living innovative marketing; they all blogged. Through their blogs, they contributed a third dimension to the learning and interaction.
*Why did you decide to start blogging?
I’m fascinated with non-traditional marketing, with marketing that takes smarts rather than big budgets. That’s why blogs seemed so interesting. But, I needed to experiment for myself. I initially saw value with blogging as a self-publication mechanism in support of one of my roles. So, I focused on those topics - researching marketplace consumer and retail trends – to publish relevant content more frequently than I was able to via the major industry publication. The blog not only meant keeping the subjects top of mind, but it also created a credible reference point for our field force to go back to at any time.
*What process, if any, did you work through from a corporate perspective?
Given the low investment [my time after hours; free blogging platform, analytics, etc.], I only mentioned Flooring The Consumer once I had figured out the mechanics and published my first post, a trade article about women in the flooring industry. I promoted that article to one of my customers, who contributed a post, then analyzed a multi-part interview of two well-respected women in the industry [who also contributed posts] – and gotten wonderful reactions [via email or phone, rather than from blog comments] in support of the blog and the topics it addresses.
Two months later, at an internal sales and marketing meeting, I physically took my colleagues through the blog, explaining what it was, how it worked and how to subscribe. My boss stood up and encouraged everyone in the room to subscribe! Pretty cool!
As the blog has evolved, my peers have contributed, and our direct sales force [i.e., Wear-Dated Representatives] have helped me share stories about valuable retail practices or outstanding retailers in their regions. It’s a useful means for promoting great flooring retail experiences.
*What are your most and least favorite aspects of blogging?
Most favorite: the richness of the exchange, the intensity of the learning, meeting like-minded marketers willing and wanting to experiment, who exude passion about their area of focus. Being able to increase the depth of content via links; creating a means of engaging readers to elevate the flooring category. Sharing information that I’m fascinated with…
Least favorite: I need more time to keep up with conversations and experiment more.
*What would you change with 20/20 hindsight?
I might have done more listening and commenting on blogs before getting started [i.e., the recommended approach] to jump start the process. I didn’t. But, I got going and learned a great deal in the process. Thanks to many very generous bloggers like Mike Sansone who noticed me early on, welcoming me into the marketing blogger fold, and Susan Abbott and Stephanie Weaver who invited me to participate in the first ever Bathroom Blogfest in October 2006 [coming up again in October 2007], it wound up that none of that mattered. I’ve tried to make the most out of every unexpected and unusual opportunity that the blogosphere offers [e.g., The Age Of Conversation, Blog Action Day] to participate and learn even more.
*What three blogs have you gained the most insight from in the past month?
- MarketingProfs Daily Fix Blog featuring many of my favorite marketing bloggers
- Toby Bloomberg’s Diva Marketing Blog
- David Meerman Scott’s Web Ink Now
Blogger voices are intense. They are passionate. They constantly teach new approaches, tools, solutions, ideas. It’s an amazing experience! I encourage everyone to try it in some way.
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