Blogs Can Provide Commentary, Information for Marketing Purposes

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Bob Bly had the blogging world all in a huff over his scathing critique of blogs as a marketing tool ("Can Blogging Help Market Your Product?" Nov. 1). He raises some interesting points -- citing the key differences between blogs and e-newsletters -- but so much of this seems to be semantics.

Clearly, if a blog is defined only as an online journal or diary on a subject of personal interest, I agree with him that it will not be a very effective marketing vehicle. But I suspect blogs also can provide commentary, news, helpful information and useful tips. Most importantly, all blogs should be able to, if the author chooses, sell products and make informational offers -- contrary to Bly's assertion that blogs cannot deliver a meaningful ROI.

Bly writes a terrific e-newsletter that appears on my desktop every few weeks or so. It's filled with insightful, useful information (much like his books, of which I own at least five). If he were to also post this newsletter on his Web site and provide archives and comments from readers, would it then be called a blog? I don't see why not.

That said, I agree with Bly's criticism of the distribution method. E-newsletters are delivered in a one-step process, while blogs require two steps. I get my notice by e-mail, but then I need to link to the blog Web site. Not a big deal, but still one extra step.

Blog defenders keep citing RSS - a more direct channel that bypasses e-mail - but this new technology has not hit the mainstream yet. Moreover, very little effort has been made to offer this service to me or explain how it works. I suspect I am not alone. Perhaps RSS is the distribution channel of the future. And when it does become mainstream, I'm sure Bly will be more than happy to use it to distribute his newsletter.

In the meantime, "Can't we all just get along?"

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