Saturday, December 6, 2014

Digital Billboards Display User-Generated Photos For Holiday Social Media Promotion

+Lamar Advertising Company are the kings of outdoor advertising. With marketing real estate all over the country in the form of billboards, if you want your message to be seen by the highway-traveling masses, you go through Lamar to do it. 

But, as online channels have completely changed the way we target consumers, measure response, and how often we adjust our messaging, stagnant mass marketing has become less attractive for a lot of advertisers. 

Is it still effective? Hell yes! And, Lamar plans to prove it with their #ThankfulThisHoliday campaign allowing social media users to tag their photos with the hashtag and possibly see their image displayed for all passersby to see. 

You can read all about the campaign specifics in this article by +Marketing Land, but here is why I like it:
  1. It Grabs Attention. - Audiences are inclined to look at each billboard they pass because when they are the ones contributing the content, they never know what (or who) they may see as they drive by. They may drive past their family photo, or that of someone they know. It's fun, and it's interactive. So, by engaging with the recipients of their clients' advertising, Lamar pulls more eyes their way.
  2. This is truly creative billboard advertising. - Lamar is marketing their digital billboards themselves. But, even more so, their digital capabilities. As more advertisers focus on digital, Lamar is showing these advertisers that they're in the game with real-time solutions that connect the online with the offline, the innovative with the traditional. And, that is smart marketing. 

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Pumpkin Spice And The Marketing Of Seasonal Products

The thought process behind brands offering seasonal varieties of products is not too difficult to understand. Think like a customer (which we all are), and you get it instantly.

It's that time of year when you can finally buy that thing you like, and what do you do? You make it to the store before its too late and they stop selling it, of course. Ooh, that fear of missing out is a powerful motivator!

I doubt any of us are above it. We all have our seasonal pleasure - a Shamrock Shake from +McDonald's in the spring, a winter warmer style of beer from any number of breweries when it's cold out, and the Pumpkin Spice Latte in the fall. Oh, the pumpkin spice latte. That drink from +Starbucks Coffee has taken on a life of its own, and really created an entire seasonal flavor craze.

I'm sure Starbucks is not the first to create a pumpkin spice product. But, they popularized it to immense proportions, and hit a home run with a menu item that a seemingly large portion of their customer base eagerly awaits each year. In addition, they are no doubt attracting seasonal customers with this item as well. Why? Because it's an experience for people. The aroma and taste produce an emotion that keeps coffee drinkers coming back.

Since the popularity of this flavored latte, many many brands have jumped on board with their own pumpkin spice offerings. Below is a slideshow of just some of these other products:

With all of these and more, the pumpkin spice trend will probably have overwhelmed the population before long and outworn it's welcome. But, seasonal trends will continue. Some say Candy Corn is the next to catch on.

What do you think will be next? Leave your prediction in the comments.

Monday, October 27, 2014

I'm Back!

Wow, I've been away from this blog a long time! About 3 months. Actually, I have been blogging...on LinkedIn, but more on that in a minute.

If you happen to be connected with me on any of my social accounts (thank you much) you know I haven't really left. I've just been waist deep chairing a digital marketing event that took over my life for a while. It was a lot of fun though, and an incredible learning experience.

The event was a customer-focused marketing conference meant to explore how marketers can use digital channels and technology to deliver unique and valuable experiences to customers. In fact, one of the ways I was promoting it was with the LinkedIn publishing platform. I published 6 posts in the months leading up to the conference. You can read them here.

I had wanted to try out the platform, and I figured this would be a great opportunity to offer some focused content and judge the response. I really like the set up, and I love the fact that publishing a new post sends a notification to my connections, informing them that I have something to share.

I definitely plan on publishing there more in the future. But, for now I really want to get back in action on this blog too. So, expect something from me tomorrow.  

P.S. We're already starting to plan next year's conference (the 8th annual). If you would like to be involved in 2015, or would just like to get the details when we have some news to share, leave a comment on this post, and you will be hearing from me. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Stone Brewing's "Enjoy By" Campaign Is A Case Study In Smart Digital Marketing

Beer is what you may call a very social product. People come together around a few drinks to talk, party, watch sports, and most anything else you can think of. Many also enjoy discussing, reviewing, and sharing photos of the multiple varieties, flavors, and brands with other enthusiasts online.

Through social networks like Google+ and Instagram, as well as dedicated websites like, and mobile apps such as Untappd, beer drinkers can, and do, keep themselves engaged with their peers for hours.

All of this is not lost on the exploding American craft brew industry, many of whom leverage social media specifically as a key way to inform and engage with their customers, and lure more thirsty patrons looking for something they have never had before.

The Stone Brewing Co. in San Diego, California is one great example of a brewery with a seemingly innate ability to share their passion for good beer online in an integrated way that builds passion and brand loyalty in customers.

Case in point is the marketing around their double IPA known as “Enjoy By” where the deadline is filled in after, depending on when it is released. 

Let's take a look at all of the elements at play here:

1. The Offline Outreach: Those who find "Enjoy By" in their area are informed of their responsibility to keep each fresh batch to follow coming back to their area right on the bottle. They are encouraged to visit the micro website, and "vote" using a dedicated hashtag along with their zip code in a post to Twitter, Instagram, or Untappd.  

2. The Microsite: The dedicated site begins by educating the customer on what this beer is, and why freshness is so important to one's enjoyment of it. This site then acts as the hub of activity to follow, and even keeps fans coming back to see their own content contribution. 

3. The YouTube Video: This video provides the same education as the written tale of the beer. But, the added visual element is important because it is more engaging and shareable for fans. It allows a deeper connection to the brewery because you get to hear the actual brewers discuss what they like about their creation. Stone also let's fans know that they have a YouTube channel they can subscribe to for additional content.

4. The Email Newsletter: The action requested by Stone is to vote for the beer to come back to your zip code. On the microsite you can make your vote count 10 times, and you're then prompted to give your email address for quick updates on that next batch. The address is confirmed, and boom! - future updates delivered through email. 

5. The Social Media Interaction: This is where the fun happens and the word spreads. Using the #EnjoyBy hashtag, fans can communicate their desire to have the next batch sent to their area and follow the conversation with other beer lovers. A page on the microsite displays a running feed of posts from all three networks being used for the promotion - Twitter, Instagram, and Untappd. Fans can return to the site to see their post show up and view others' posts as well.

    In Summation:

    Obviously, the sense of urgency is here with a call-to-action right in the name that plainly states when you will have missed your chance to experience this brew at its finest. That's motivation!

    But, this campaign works because it has several digital pieces that all work together to promote this beer, educate on the importance of freshness for this style, and get people talking about the brand.

    Lastly, I'm not sure you noticed the date on this most recent batch, but you had better hurry up and get one before it's gone. The clock is ticking. 

    Happy 4th of July!

    Want to talk more about integrated marketing strategies? Leave a comment below or circle me on Google+

    Thursday, June 12, 2014

    How Marketers Are Leveraging The World Cup To Connect With Their Fans

    Today is the start of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Are you excited? I wish I was. But, honestly I'm not much of a soccer fan. Who knows? Maybe I'll come to some great realization as I'm pulled in by the hype of excited Futbol fans all around me. I have several in my family. And, guys like me are the exact market +Kia Motors Worldwide is looking to attract with this campaign:

    What does excite me is any large event that brings the big brand sponsors out in full force with all of their creative agency muscle behind them, as the smaller brands peak through a hole in the fence patiently awaiting that chance opening to shine without a paid sponsorship. The World Cup certainly qualifies as that kind of event.

    This week I've been sharing some World Cup-themed marketing that I've come across on my Google+ page. The most interesting one I've found is from +Coca-Cola. Their campaign started with the development of a unique Visual Identity System (VIS) that would then be implemented in every marketing channel for a consistent look, feel, and experience. It''s not just signage and product packaging with Coke. They've created branded elements that also feed into social media, mobile and digital marketing, gamification, events, and other promotional products for outreach.

    It's safe to say that Coca-Cola is living and breathing the World Cup right now. You can see more in the Plus posts below. And remember, these are interactive posts here. So, +1s, comments, and shares of each post can all be done right on this page.

    BONUS: Here's a great animated short by +Nike touting their mobile app with a fun story. 

    image credit: Jose Roitberg, Flickr

    Friday, May 30, 2014

    How To Introduce Customers To Your Brand And Drive Repeat Purchases

    I came across some really good product marketing while I was shopping a day or two ago. In the post below I give detail on what I saw and why I liked the strategy. At the end you will find a marketing challenge to try with your brand.  

    It's the little things.
    Presented in the right place at the right time, a little marketing can go a long way. An extra push to encourage another purchase, or to simply build greater awareness can lead to those incremental sales increases which can have a positive effect on the bottom line over time.

    We all try to deliver our marketing message throughout our customers' purchase decision process. But, what do we do after they have chosen our brand? Do we stop, and wait for them to come back again? Did we win? Absolutely not!

    Competition is high in most industries, and one sale does not guarantee repeat purchases. As difficult as it can be to gain a customer, it's pretty easy to lose them. There's no question that the product has to meet expectations. But, the marketing tactics we employ once the purchase has been made and the item's in-hand can make a big difference. Here we can deliver a brand experience for our customer, and start to build a relationship that results in repeat business and positive word-of-mouth advertising (especially on social networks).

    Who's doing it well?
    The team at Matt Brewing Company, brewers of Saranac, in Utica, New York caught my eye the other day with the marketing right on their bottlenecks. I'll break it down a little bit.

    The brand knows their customers' ritual for using (in this case drinking) their product. They know that the customer more than likely will have the bottle in their hands for at least a few minutes while it is consumed. During that period, the customer will look over that bottle several times.

    This is an opportunity. This is where Saranac continues marketing to their customer, and integrates their other marketing channels as well. Right on that tiny bottleneck is where Saranac does three things:

    • Tell the story of the product (inspiration, ingredients, taste)
    • Encourage interaction on their website and social media profiles
    • Give a sensible recommendation for another product (Like this? Try this:)
    Each one of these things helps build up the brand in the mind of the customer, and encourages further interaction. Does your brand have a similar opportunity?

    What comes next? 
    The next steps are up to the brand, of course. It depends on how they want to build the customer relationship. What would you do next?

    I view websites and (probably even more now) social media profiles as the hub for brand engagement. This is where all traffic should be herded, and where higher levels of customer engagement should originate. Adding apps to social brand pages delivers value while customer data is obtained for mutual benefit. Encouraging shares of your content, participation in events, and reviews of your products adds a lot to your social profile and brings in new customers. 

    Social Sign-In or other tools that identify customers on a brand website can also collect data and deliver value that builds loyalty. It's all about determining what the customer wants, and delivering it in a way that benefits your brand as well.
    My challenge to you.
    So, after all of this talk on "product-in-hand marketing" I'd like to issue the following challenge to you:

    Take your brand, or a brand you have worked with, and explain how you will further market to your customer after the sale in the future (or, how you do already).

    Now that they have made their purchase decision based on any number of factors - the design/label, the price, the social media post they saw, the ad they came across on TV or on a website, etc. - how can you grow that into a relationship that increases the lifetime value of that customer and brings you more revenue? Comment with your answer and let's talk.

    Tuesday, May 27, 2014

    Ads I Like: Surround Sound Headphones From Pioneer

    Sometimes all it takes is a simple analogy to deliver a powerful message to customers about the quality of a product or service. The folks at +BBDO certainly have done this with their campaign for Pioneer SE-M521 surround sound headphones.

    The idea is simple - these Pioneer headphones deliver a listening experience like one would get at a live performance. Using visuals to trigger familiarity and emotion, the ads display three separate live music venues as the diagrams we are all accustomed to looking at when we buy concert tickets.

    After a quick look, it is clear that these diagrams are in the shape of a head with headphones on. As our own experience with live music is applied in our minds, it becomes our head, and the amazing sound of a live performance is transferred to these headphones.

    Take a look at the ads below, and let me know what you think of them in the comments. 

    Thanks to +Ads of the World for sharing this inspiring work.  

    Wednesday, May 7, 2014

    How Athletes Are Using Social Media To Market Themselves

    NFL Draft Day is almost here. Thursday, May 8th at 8pm is the starting point, and as a football fan with a team in my city to cheer for this excites me a great deal.

    Draft Day also excites me as a marketer. I'm eager to see which players do the best job of marketing themselves, and attract sponsorship to make money above and beyond their playing salary. Additionally, some of these athletes will use their celebrity to make a positive impact on their community and beyond with volunteer work, and setting up their own foundations. This helps get these millions where they're needed, and requires a good bit of marketing to make happen. Plus, we'll (hopefully) see some great ad campaigns and clever digital marketing efforts from brands who want to leverage their latest spokesperson to increase sales.

    We're used to seeing professional athletes signing multi-figure endorsement deals with major brands once they turn pro...and then showing up everywhere you can think of to run an ad. But, what about those athletes that take it upon themselves to market themselves as a brand?

    Baseball player +Brandon Phillips is one who instantly comes to mind for me (hey, I'm a +Cincinnati Reds fan). He is active on social media (especially Twitter), and uses it as a way to connect with fans (he once showed up at a fan's little league game after they tweeted him the location). This gives people a deeper connection not only to him, but the team as well. The Reds should appreciate this the same as an employee at any company masking themselves visible on social as a n extension of the brand. It's helpful.

    Some amateurs soon turning (or hoping to turn) pro are getting in the game early, and will possibly make a positive impact on their career as a result. During this week's Draft Day for the +NFL, we will have the opportunity to Hangout with several of the projected top picks, asking them questions about their experience in the draft and getting to know them a bit through this #MyDraftDay effort. See below:

    You can see the full lineup of available Hangouts in this post from +Sunny Cadwallader. I'll definitely be following along, and hopefully talking personally to a few new NFL players.

    Going a step further down in the food chain, high school athlete Gary Haynes has been getting attention the last few days (including on +ESPN's +SportsCenter) for this Vine video of him throwing the himself.
    Do you know of any other athletes doing social media well? Let me know in the comments. I'd like to make this post just a jump off point to a longer post full of great examples. I'll give full credit for any submissions.

    Wednesday, April 30, 2014

    3 Reasons Brands Should Leverage Native Advertising In The Music Industry

    We've heard a lot of talk in the last year or so about the trend of native advertising, and the important role it will play in digital content going forward. Now that savvy web users are no longer paying attention to irrelevant ads (or, are outright blocking them with web extensions), marketers must find ways to insert themselves into the actual content being consumed online in order to interact with potential customers. This is not always easy. While consumers demand relevance and personalization from advertisers, they are also wary of brands that try to force an association that just isn't there. It's a tightrope that brands must walk in order to belong. Success here comes from providing real value and allowing consumers to make the brand connection themselves.

    The definition for native advertising can get rather broad. So, for simplicity, I'm going to refer to it as a marketing message woven into the context of a user's experience. This could be a sponsored piece of content the brand can align with, or even media actually provided by the advertisers themselves that goes easy on the sell and heavy on the larger idea to which they support. But, where should brands focus their native ads? And, what kind of content would they be wise to offer?

    To me, it's clear that there is big opportunity for brand marketers in the music industry. Music is not only universal, as they say. Music can express many different ideas, is easily integrated into mobile strategies, and can add support to many other legs of a marketing plan. Think about how often you hear music in advertising. Now think about why that is.

    Listeners identify with their music, and the sounds they purchase and interact with play a big role in their lifestyle overall. Music helps people define themselves. Wouldn't it be great for a brand to be able to associate themselves with that defining sound and style? Well, yeah. It would. That's why we see advertisers pour sponsorship money into world tours of big name artists. But, the opportunity for native ad strategies goes well beyond the mega-tour.

    Here are three reasons why opportunity is rich for native advertisers in music using small-scale sponsoring:

    1. It aligns with what fans want. As evidenced by pretty much all types of online content consumed these days, consumer attention span is limited. They want quick, shorter content that gets the message across, and allows them to share that message with friends. Focusing on mobile first makes it easily accessible at any time, and new technology such as location-based targeting can be used as a relevant distribution method. The world is going mobile, and marketers can't afford to be left behind.  
    2. It echoes the way some musicians are starting to create. Fans aren't the only ones interested in smaller bits of content. I recently did a Google+ Hangout for a radio show with a musician by the name of Pharoahe Monch who said his April, 2014 release may end up being his last "traditional" album. When pressed for details he said he wants to create more music, but in smaller formats than a full-length album that allow him to get an idea or theme across in a single, or just a few songs. So, while the attention span of the listener has shortened over the years, maybe that of the artist has as well, and it's time to move onto a format that's easier to digest (and share) quickly. Short musical projects, especially those that incorporate video (+YouTube being the new +MTV) should be appealing to marketers because they provide a chance to get in front of an audience with a distinct message. Additionally, the move toward crowdfunding as a means for artists to support their work in a kind-of pre-order format points to the fact that sponsorship at this level is needed.    
    3. Brands can sponsor smaller bits of content, and get a big return. +Rodney Williams, the CEO of mobile music app +LISNR, recently delved into the mobile opportunity for advertisers when it comes to music for +ClickZ, and he was right on. The time for only sponsoring tours has passed. The opportunity now lies in sponsoring smaller bits of content - songs and albums instead of entire tours. Give fans something small, but make it exclusive. Reward fans for performing actions that help the brand - app downloads, shares, brand interaction, etc. Then integrate the sponsored content with the rest of the marketing campaign for consistency. A great example is last year's marketing of Jay-Z's album with Samsung as a partner. The album was full-length. But, commercials and behind-the-scenes footage, lyrics, individual songs, and more were delivered individually through a mobile app available to only the first 1 million to download it in the +Google Play store. This led to data gathering, exclusivity for fans, and a desire to share and get the word out all while leveraging the Samsung Galaxy smartphone as the one to facilitate all of this activity. We should see a lot more of this going forward.
    What do you think of native advertising, and the role it can play in music? Let me know in the comments. 

    Sunday, April 20, 2014

    How To Get Your Content Seen Online (Infographic)

    The Internet can be a really difficult place to get noticed. It's a crowded medium full of great (and not so great) content to sift through. If you don't know how to stand out, your hard work will end up getting lost. And, if people can't find your content, they can't react to it.

    To increase the chances that your material is found, it's important to combine a content marketing strategy with SEO. This means making sure that content gets posted in all the right places, often in multiple formats to attract the largest audience no matter what their preferences for interacting with it.

    This infographic clearly lays out the various ways you can repurpose your content, and where to post each version online to get indexed by search engines and consumed by your audience.

    Smart Ways to Combine Content Marketing With SEO

    Explore more visuals like this one on the web's largest information design community - Visually.

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

    8 Steps To Break Free of the Facebook Charge Machine

    …And Take Your Fan Base With You.

    Now that Facebook has gone to a full Goodfellas-style business model with regard to brand pages, it seems all but impossible to reach your own audience now without shelling out more money to the network for unproven results.

    Add this to the other uncertainties around promoting your page to targeted audiences, and I’d say it’s time for brands to cut their losses and move on to the ever-widening world of social media today. Chances are these other social platforms have probably already taken the attention of some of your old Facebook followers anyway.

    If you’re like most brands using social media, you already have a presence on other networks. But, if Facebook is your go-to – where you spend most of your time and energy and grew your largest fan base – it could be tough to make the big switch. How do you get the fan base you built up over time on Facebook to engage with your brand in a new location? It’s not easy. But, thinking about how consumers behave online, and putting together a plan that involves them can give your social outreach the kind of kick start you’re looking for when leveraging new networks.

    Here are some steps to being brave and getting a buzz elsewhere.

    1. Find your audience – Where are your customers currently spending their online time? How do they engage with brands there? Don’t just jump in. Sit back and observe while you and your team learn the network and how best to communicate. Make it about the customer and not about your brand.
    2. Engage more – Once you have decided where you want to spend your time, put in the work to be worthy of customer interaction. I’m not talking auto-posting the same content on 5 different networks and waiting for the shares to roll in and lines to form at your door. Actually interact with people. Respond to customer comments and questions, source opinions on what your brand is doing, reveal a personality. You know, be social.
    3. Look like a pro – Learn the tools and techniques of the specific network you have decided to use. The little things are important. For example, as a heavy user of Google+, I can tell when a brand is phoning it in over there – mentions of others using “@” are the first major giveaway. Try to look like you’ve been there before.
    4. Make a clean break – Don’t just start whittling down your usage of Facebook. Stop using it. Less frequent posting can give the wrong impression. Instead, let your fans know exactly what’s going on like these guys did, and let them know what your plans are.
    5. Offer an incentive – Incentive inspires action. It’s what we humans respond to. Do something fun like hold a contest exclusively on another network. Let your fan base know how to participate, and make it easy to do so. If they connect with you on Google+ or Pinterest, for example, they’re automatically entered to win. Easy.
    6. Find your audience again – This time, do it on Facebook. I know it’s not easy anymore (or cheap). But one last paid Facebook promo to reach your fans can be used to announce your new social digs.
    7. Leverage your other customer touch points – Hopefully this is discussed with every marketing initiative. But, multiple touch points allow more opportunity to deliver a message. Where else can customers be informed of this change to your social media strategy? How about your packaging, your storefront, your eNewsletter, your “hold message” for customers calling in on the phone. There are many possibilities here. Leverage every touch point.
    8. Tell Facebook users where to find you – You may not want to shut down your Facebook page altogether. At least, not just yet. Try leaving the page up with an announcement of where you can now be found. Be creative with your cover photo to include this, pin your “departure post” to the top of the page, and disable the option that allows fans to post on your wall.

    Remember that it still may be a good strategy to advertise via social networks from time to time. But, genuinely relevant communication from an opt-in audience is what helps make social networks a medium unlike the rest. This is where a deeper understanding of the customer can be gained, and affinity for a brand can take hold leading to a loyal and socially vocal fan base that brings in business.

    This post first appeared on +B2C ( Read the original here.

    Saturday, March 22, 2014

    Who Will Win On Jeopardy? Villain Arthur Chu, Or IBM's Watson Super Computer?

    Now that the infamous +Jeopardy match between the computer +IBM Watson, and two mere humans (one,the winningest show contestant ever) has been made available on +YouTube (click here to watch), it seems to me that Jeopardy! producers have a big opportunity to capitalize on whatever renewed interest comes from the release.  

    We've now seen man vs. machine in a battle of general knowledge. But, how about Villain vs. Machine? It just so happens that a man named Arthur Chu ruffled quite a few feathers in the game show audience with his recent 12-day run on the show. Chu went all over the board when selecting his questions, not settling for the long-used approach of simply choosing a category and going down the column. Some hated him for it. Ha!

    So, why not take the opportunity to market another Jeopardy! special event pitting the "evil genius" against the supercomputer? Jeopardy gets another ratings bump, and social trending topic while IBM gets some more attention for the very important real-world problems Watson is being used to help solve - most recently fighting brain cancer.

    It's challenging to find the right opportunity to break through the noise and get your brand some attention. That's why we see so many doing lame attempts at "real-time marketing" on Twitter hashtag trends during live events. Marketing a game featuring two contestants still fresh in people's minds can work if the moment is seized in time.

    Who would you want to win this showdown if it were to take place? The machine? Or, the man (even if you don't like the way he plays the game)?

    Sunday, March 9, 2014

    How The Simpsons Uniquely Nailed It With Real-Time Marketing This Week


    If you've been wrapped up in HBO's new 8-episode series True Detective these last 7 weeks like me then you know what's going on in this image.

    +The Simpsons revealed it on their social media channels this Friday, telling us fans that Homer Simpson is in fact the sought-after "Yellow King" in the show. The series' season finale is Sunday evening, after The Simpsons' time slot on Fox. With show's enormous buzz, why not leverage it to get viewers of your program first? Obviously, Homer's actual yellow body, coupled with some clues from the show makes this one work uniquely to The Simpsons character. Here's the post from their +Google+ page.

    The practice of what is often referred to as "newsjacking" by brands is not just about tying any current event to your brand in real-time. Any brand can do that. And, they do. And, come big events like the Super Bowl and the Oscars, it can get pretty annoying and desperate. Success in real-time marketing means being good enough to always pay attention, and recognize when your brand particularly fits with whatever it is that people are already talking about. That's when a brand can stick out. And, this is one good example.

    By the way, if you are way into this show, there is a True Detective community on Google+ where we have been discussing the show and sharing articles since it began. This is where I came across the Simpsons post when shared by +Eliazar Ruiz

    Sunday, March 2, 2014

    Does Your Brand Get A Identity Boost From Related Products?

    I was at my local +Walgreens this weekend, and happened by this end-of-aisle display of +Coca-Cola branded merchandise. I noticed that while their actual product is nowhere in site, it is there.

    Coke is the quintessential American brand. Its logo and colors so recognizable that people all over the world know what they're getting when they see it. Joy. Happiness. Memories. Life - the good parts, anyway. The branding delivers a feeling.

    That's why Coke is able to sell all kinds of other products, like the ones pictured here. Glasses, containers for glasses, trays for glasses, and more. These all bring in extra revenue, but it's more about reinforcing the brand identity whenever possible. Each of these items would function the same way with or without the logo printed on them. But, the logo delivers that feeling even in absence of the taste. And, that's powerful stuff.

    So, what's your brand made of? Does it deliver a feeling? Does it cause a reaction? What makes it last in the minds of customers, causing the desire to experience it even in some small way without the chief product itself even present? Answer that, and you can then start building that long-term equity that may one day take your brand from successful to iconic.

    Now, take six seconds to enjoy this Vine video from a kid that doesn't give a damn about the rules.  

    Sunday, February 9, 2014

    Chobani Yogurt Leverages Politics To Stretch Their Sponsorship Dollar

    As the Winter Games in Sochi got underway this past weekend, one side story had little to do with the sporting events. As you've probably heard by now, it seems that a large shipment of yogurt from American brand and Olympic sponsor +Chobani was prevented from entering the host country due to a lack of paperwork ensuring the product met standards set by the Russian government. 

    The protein-packed yogurt was to be distributed among United States athletes, as well as American journalists there to cover the events. As the matter was investigated further, political news outlet Politico reported the following: 

    "The yogurt-related dispute is more than a one-off Olympic absurdity, too. The Russians have been blocking shipments of milk, cheese, yogurt and other products since 2010 for what U.S. officials say are bogus and unscientific reasons. U.S. dairy industry officials said they’re just glad their problems with Russia are finally getting some attention."

    With Russia being one of the world's leading importers of dairy products, it seems quite unlikely that Chobani was unaware of the embargo the country has had on U.S. dairy for four years. So, why take a gamble at a pricey sponsorship, and bother to ship 5,000 containers of their product they can be sure will be intercepted before reaching their destination? Simple. For the marketing opportunity that money can't buy. 

    It's one thing to get your product in the hands of athletes for some good placement, and run television and digital ads like every other Olympic sponsor. It's quite another to create a dynamic story around your product that news outlets pick up, politicians latch onto, and people discuss at length. A chance like this is not in front of most other sponsors. Chobani saw their unique opportunity, and seized it.   

    So, way to earn that extra media attention +Chobani. Very smart. Let's just not start a war over it, okay?  

    Friday, February 7, 2014

    Guerrilla Marketing In The Wintertime. Are You Seizing Every Opportunity?

    Here's something I passed by on my way home from the store today. Jungle Jim's International Market is hosting a cheese festival this weekend. They've done their job in promoting it already. But, there's always room for something more. Something eye catching.

    The grocery store looked at the mountains of snow outside their store and saw a promotional opportunity. Simple, and well worth the effort if it brings in a few more attendees. So, my question to you is are you seizing each and every opportunity to promote your business?

    Monday, February 3, 2014

    How To Use Photo Tagging As A Social Media Marketing Tool

    True engagement with fans on social media that makes a lasting impression is not an easy thing. Getting a bunch of comments with a "caption this" or a "fill in the blank" post may feel good for a day. But, the reality is that these tactics are lazy, and are soon completely forgotten by fans. If posts to social networks are not part of a thought out content strategy, it is unlikely they will to lead to sales, loyalty, or even awareness.

    To be fair, it's not all laziness. Social media is still a new world when it comes to marketing, and the constant changes to, and of networks makes it difficult to determine how best to engage with users in a meaningful way. There are plenty of brands, big and small, that are getting it right though. Studying their tactics reveals that success comes from hard work and planning, as well as good, old fashioned creativity.

    Not every post has to be a key part of the strategy, of course. But, marketers definitely have to be aware of where their opportunities lie, and capitalize on them. Here are just two examples of what I mean. Both of these Facebook posts use the photo tagging tool as a way to engage with their fans, making an impression that lasts while bringing more eyes to the original page.

    1.  Mayer Hawthorne is a musician that takes time to talk to his fans on social media. In this Facebook post, he displays a wide shot of the audience from the stage. He asks fans to go to his website to tag themselves if they were in attendance. By giving fans the chance to relive their experience and feel like they were an important part of the performance (which, they were), Hawthorne creates a lasting impression on them.

    This single photo drives people to the website, delivers a piece of shareable content that will display in the news feed of many friends of everyone tagged, and most likely drive ticket sales the next time he has a show in this city. Simple, meaningful, and brilliant.    

    2. Alzheimer Nederland is a Dutch Alzheimer's organization that wanted to bring awareness to Alzheimer's disease in a unique way through social media. To do this, they inputted images of Facebook users at events which never really took place, leading to confusion among them once they were tagged. This confusion is similar to what Alzheimer's patients experience when unable to remember events of their past.

    This campaign is great because it puts the user in the shoes of a person facing this disease, delivering a powerful call to action to get involved. It also is a bit fun (if I can use that word here), that has a viral nature to it, as Facebook users can then deliver an image of a friend from their Facebook photo collection to Alzheimer Nederland to be inputted and tagged in an event photo. So, those that are drawn in by this campaign can then pass that experience on to a friend. This approach is much more involved than the first. But, it creates a lasting impression by being personal, and could drive online donations which are vital for disease research.

    ALZHEIMER NEDERLAND - The Alzheimer's Event [casefilm] 2:00" from N=5 on Vimeo.

    We know the power images hold on Facebook. It's difficult to get into those news feeds without paying extra. Engaging photos are a great way to overcome that obstacle, and command attention in a crowded space. This is where the creativity of your social media marketing team is important. If they take the opportunity to shine in a unique way, your social media pages could prove to be great tools for driving revenue from engagement. 

    Thursday, January 30, 2014

    Which Brands Will Make Their Super Bowl Advertising Slot Pay Off?

    Because the Super Bowl is being played this Sunday, I was going to put together a "Throwback Thursday" post of some of my favorite ads from years past that were originally broadcast during one of the football games. However, when I started browsing through commercials on +YouTube I saw just how bad and unmemorable most of them really are.

    Brands spend quite a bit of money on these ads due to the sheer size of the audience they know they will be in front of. But, size isn't everything. Advertising should always be about generating results. A brief laugh does not count. And, as digital marketing offers more opportunity to reach an increasingly specific audience with a relevant message, it seems these mass marketing opportunities are less and less important.

    It's true that Super Bowl ads still get a great amount of press after (and these days before) the big game though. So, I wouldn't say they are worthless. If creating awareness is your goal, a Super Bowl ad could definitely do the trick. But, that's quite the price tag for awareness alone. I'd want to do something with that awareness, and know that it worked. Below are some of the biggest challenges faced by Super Bowl advertisers, and how to overcome them to make a commercial pay off.

    The Challenges 

    • No One is in "Buy Mode" - People are in front of a TV (most away from home) to watch the game with their friends and family. They're not looking to make a purchase.
    • There's A Lot of Noise - I mean this both figuratively and literally. People's attention is pulled in a lot of directions during game breaks. Will your message stand out and be heard?
    • Results Are Difficult to Measure - So, your commercial is talked about on the morning news the next day. How much of a spike in sales did you have as a result of the multi-million dollar ad? It's okay if sales aren't your goal. But, what is? How is it measured? 

    The Solutions

    • Go Beyond The Commercial Itself - With all of the tools at our disposal, it's important not to begin and end with the commercial. Offer a teaser online ahead of game night, document the process to use as content, involve your social media fans by starting discussion, and make the idea bigger than a cheap laugh. Be creative to make the moment stretch. Get others with a voice involved in the pitch too. More on this in a minute.
    • Introduce Something New - Don't be boring. Telling viewers what they already know will get you nowhere, even if a dancing bear or talking baby tells them. Showing viewers something brand new will help get them talking about your offering rather than just the ad. How many times have you heard people talking about "the one where those ducks all jumped in that car and went through the drive-thru at that restaurant", or something? Not good.    
    • Ask For Something - Try to get viewers to perform an action. A simple action. They are busy watching the biggest sporting event of the year. But, get them to do something to remember you the next day, and interact in the future. Ask the viewer to download an app . Get them to tweet the answer to a question by the end of halftime to win a free one of whatever you sell. Have those interested text "Sign Me Up" to a number to be the first to know when your product is released. There are all kinds of possibilities. But, ask for it. And, measure the response.   

    The Right Idea

    This is an example of what I mean by going beyond the commercial. Beats Music has a new app that they want people to download. They enlisted Ellen DeGeneres to be in the commercial. But, they didn't have her stop at being the spokesperson in the ad. Ellen introduced the Super Bowl ad exclusively on her TV talk show ahead of the game, explained the app and AT&T plan that goes with it in more words than you can put in a 30 second commercial, and then topped it off by giving her entire audience an +LG Electronics phone to get started. Not bad, eh? Check out the full segment below, and enjoy the Super Bowl (and ads) this Sunday.  

    Sunday, January 26, 2014

    Did Arby's Win Their Own GRAMMY On Twitter Sunday Night?

    It's kind of a known thing for brands to stake out Twitter during big events these days to pounce on any chance to insert their name into a trending hashtag with any kind of relevance in order to "hijack" the news and get some attention. Some are pretty ingenious, while others are seen as being in poor taste.

    +Arby's  saw their chance tonight during the Grammy Awards when Pharrell Williams wore hat that may remind some (with a bit of a nudge from the brand) of a certain fast-food restaurant logo. Below is their tweet using the trending hashtag #GRAMMYs.

    So, what do you think? Did Arby's successfully newsjack the #GRAMMYs on Twitter? From the count of retweets and favorites on this tweet about Pharrell's Arby's hat, I'd say they didn't do too badly.

    Friday, January 24, 2014

    Why Your Corporate Social Media Accounts Should Be Human

    I love it when I come across something that makes me say "Yes!"

    This happened today when I saw the above tweet from +Smashing Magazine. Social media from a corporate perspective is not an easy thing. Your brand must have a voice, a personality. It's a big part of its identity. And never before has this voice been as important as it is now with social media. Why? Because instead of talking to your customer, you now must talk with them. That voice, whatever its characteristics, has to be a human one if you're going to have meaningful interactions with people. That's what they expect, after all.

    This is why it's best not to try to automate the entire process of social media. Scheduling certain posts in advance is occasionally necessary. But, an automated response to a customer complaint based off of keywords that can get context all wrong is a really bad idea. You may find yourself with a much bigger problem if an automated mistake goes viral, showing the world that you don't care enough to man these accounts with employees.

    Instead, we must let ourselves be real...and available. Social media does more for a brand than build awareness. It builds trust, even likability. What's more, a lot of insight can be gained from customers on Twitter or Google+. Need some quick, honest feedback? Ask for it on your social media accounts. This medium can create a real connection that can last with customers, and cause them to talk you up to their own networks. It can make them feel like they have a voice, and that you care enough to listen to it. We must appreciate the opportunity as brands, and take full advantage of it by being social. We can do that from behind a logo. We just have to put our voice out there.

    Thursday, January 23, 2014

    Throwback Thursday: Great Ads From Years Past - Week 5 - Winter Olympics

    I was planning on doing a Throwback Thursday post with some Olympic-themed advertising in the next few weeks before the Sochi Winter games began in Russia on February 7th. But, today I came across a post on Juxtapoz Magazine displaying several Winter Olympics posters going back as far as the first games in 1924. And, they're a lot of fun to look at. So, the post is coming a little early.

    I do love creative brand advertising from the game's sponsors. But, the official posters are even better as they bring attention to the actual event, rather than leveraging the event to sell another product. They also become a part of world history. 

    My favorite of the those included in this collection from Juxtapoz is actually this one from the first games in Chamonix, France. The artwork is really great, and it brings together national and world elements very nicely. Below that you will see a poster from the first Winter Olympic Games I can remember, from 1988 in Calgary, Canada.  

    Visit the whole collection here, and let me know which is your favorite. If you have others, post a link to them in the comments. I'd love to see them.

    Friday, January 17, 2014

    How To Use Flipboard As A Marketing Tool (Video)

    Yesterday I discovered a new marketing tool. Flipboard. It's not a new app. It's not even new to me. I've been using it sporadically on my Android device for a while now. But, yesterday I participated in a Google+ Hangout that deepened my understanding of what the content reader app was capable of, and broadened my thinking as to how I might use it to further my marketing goals.

    Hosted by +Mark Vang of the Sanctuary Networking Community, this Hangout features online marketing professional (and fellow Google+ enthusiast) +Mark Traphagen discussing the ways he uses Flipboard to curate and share content.

    A few of my main takeaways from this Hangout are: 

    • How to import your Twitter feed and individual Lists into the Flipboard app for quicker use
    • How to use Flipboard as an eCommerce tool that rivals Pinterest
    • How to create Magazines on Flipboard and use them for content curation and personal branding     

    Mark also shared with us a step-by-step article he wrote detailing how to create and use magazines on Flipboard. This morning, I created my first Flipboard magazine as an offshoot of my startups & entrepreneurs community for Cincinnati professionals on Google+.


    Thursday, January 16, 2014

    How Brands Should (And Should Not) Be Using Google Plus: Do's And Dont's

    I came across the following short, but sweet rant on Google+ last week about brands using the network ineffectively:

    Obviously, there are brands that just plain suck at social media. They put no money into it. They put no effort into it. They don't understand how it can improve their bottom line. Their loss. But, I understood exactly what +Dustin W. Stout was referring to here because there are brands, large and small, that I know have the ability to do social well. But, they are failing on Google+ mostly due to laziness.

    There are more advantages to leveraging the Google+ platform (and all of its connected services) for business than I can get into in one post. But, there are a few very simple things you can do starting today to make your brand more attractive to Google+ users, and those finding your posts through Google Search.

    Google+ Do's

    • Do Build Your circles - I'm not sure how many brands follow this guideline because we can't see one another's circle set-ups. But, by using public posts to ask followers something about themselves or what they'd like to see from your brand, you can segment customers to share specific content. For example, you may want to give them details on a specific product, location, or event. To be clear, anything shared with specific circles is not publicly viewable or searchable. But, your goal here should be to truly engage with the customers in this circle. You may even send them an email notification of the post assuming they have opted-in to receive these.
    • Do Use Hangouts - The ability to have direct face-to-face interaction with your customers cannot be overstated. You can use these privately to address specific customer service issues, or publicly (HOA with live stream and YouTube upload) to educate on your goods and services. The possibilities for using Hangouts are vast. Start internally with your own team and experiment. 
    • Do Be Present and Make an Effort - If you want engagement then you have to engage. Fill out your page profile as completely as possible. Post regularly and often. If someone leaves a comment or shares your post, acknowledge them. Be human and interact as your page. Allow your team to use their profiles to speak for your brand as well. This is what brings a brand to life on social media.  

    Google+ Don'ts

    • Don't Make it About You All The Time - Not everything has to be specifically about your brand for you to share it on your page. Google+ users want good content, and they'll interact with a brand if they provide it. Be a curator of valuable things related to your brand. Just posting a link to something you have for sale everyday is not going to bring in the results you desire. Be curious. Be creative. Be helpful. 
    • Don't Auto-Post - This goes along with "being present" in the 'Do's' section. But, if you're posting for Twitter, leave it on Twitter. There's nothing more annoying than seeing a post from a brand with a bunch of '@' mentions that link to nothing since Google+ uses '+' to mention people. You're not fooling anyone. It's clear that you posted this for Twitter and are regurgitating it for all of your other networks in a lazy way. Don't be lazy.  
    • Don't Recycle Garbage Tactics - These posts - "Fill in the blank", "What's your favorite thing about Friday?", "Guess the image", "Share/+1 if...", "Caption this photo", etc. - are all garbage. It makes your audience feel dumb. Yes, some people may follow your dumb instructions. But, it's not making them remember you. They're just bored. Spend your energy offering value instead, and you'll be on your way to leaving a positive impression and doing more business. 

    For more help on using Google+ effectively, send me a message, check out the page/community +Plus Your Business!, and/or read through the following list of brand case studies provided by +Denis Labelle:

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

    Ads I Like: "Samsung: Eyes On The Road"

    This video is presented as more of a case study for the whole campaign around the +Samsung Mobile app launched in Singapore. The app is called "Eyes on the Road", and its purpose is to help protect drivers from themselves by eliminating distractions from their mobile device.

    While not all of Samsung's ads hit the mark, this one certainly does. It has everything. A disturbing visual is followed by alarming stats that grab attention. Samsung doesn't put themselves above the problem, instead claiming a bit of responsibility for driving distractions by using their own device and notification sound when the wreck occurs. Yes, it is additional branding. But, they could have used a generic device just as easily to stay separate from the bad, deciding instead to only provide the positive solution.

    Samsung affirms their commitment to public safety by building this mobile app that automatically switches to "drive safe mode" when a certain speed is detected. They take it a step further by "gamifying" the experience with attainable goals which result in socially-shareable rewards for users. This encourages use while spreading the word through user-generated, branded social media posts. Well done.

    I originally came across this through +Ads of the World, a curator of great advertising. 

    Friday, January 10, 2014

    Facebook Sponsored Stories On The Chopping Block. Good Riddance.

    The time has finally come for Facebook where the headaches/payouts outweigh the profits for their "Sponsored Stories" version of advertising on the site. According to Marketing Land, the social network will cease offering this option to marketers and phase it out completely by this April.  

    For those unfamiliar, in a nutshell Sponsored Stories are ads that incorporate user activity into the existing Facebook ad to leverage organic interaction from fans discussing your business. They display in the main news feed (meaning they are also visible on mobile devices), as well as the sidebar on desktops.

    image credit: pcworld
    The advantage for businesses is that this extra bit of ad content, which you can see in the image to the right - "so-and-so likes..." - leverages a fan's "like" or other interaction with them (i.e. comments, check-ins) to lend credibility to the post and business thereby increasing the chance that ad will be clicked on by that fan's friends.

    While the CTR (Click Through Rate) was no doubt much higher on average for Sponsored Stories versus non-sponsored ads, the very thing that made them "work" also made them problematic. It turns out that many Facebook users saw these as an invasion, not appreciating that their names and profiles were being used without explicit permission to act as endorsements for branded content.

    I have used Sponsored Stories in the past. And, while most Facebook users either don't have a problem with it, or simply don't notice that they are "sponsoring" ad content, I occasionally received unkind messages on my pages from angry people who said something along the lines of "I don't 'like' this post. Please remove my name".  I would if I could. But, Facebook doesn't give marketers that much control over the feature. Sponsored Stories are either on or they're off.

    image credit: techcrunch
    So, while your Facebook page may be getting more clicks, you also may be turning off valuable customers when trying to gain new ones. This, of course wasn't Facebook's intention. But, the problem lies in their willingness to monetize their social network through advertising at nearly all costs. Little thought seems to be put into whether or not an action is good for Facebook's customers or its users. The question is whether or not they can make money offering it.

    image credit: bitsocialmedia
    Now that multiple lawsuits have cut into profits from Sponsored Stories the feature is going away. I say good riddance. I use social media to build audiences and engage with them, not too piss them off. And, it's time Facebook and other social networks took more responsibility up front to make sure privacy is respected and users don't have to sign away all of their rights just to have some fun online. In the meantime, it's up to marketers to think long and hard about each tactic they employ to reach potential customers, and what the long-term effects will be before checking that extra box.

    top image credit: qwaya