Tuesday, September 20, 2011

POP-UP Brand Marketing Strategies

The conceptual model of pop-up retail is certainly not a new strategy in the brand and product marketing playbook. Pop-up stores have been effectively employed by a number of the world’s most recognizable brands. Most often they are used to introduce new product, gauge consumer interests, and enhance exposure through cleverly placed, transitory concept venues that are designed to generate buzz by creating an out of the ordinary brand experience.

By nature both experiential and ephemeral, the pop-up concept forces a greater degree of interactivity and imaginative engagement between brand and consumer because the timetable to create memorable impressions is accelerated. The consumer desire to experience a pop-up venue is fueled by time sensitivity and exclusive access to the brand. Customers want the opportunity to experience a unique orchestration of art and commerce available to a limited few, given time and space restrictions.

For these orchestrations to be staged and performed symphonically, however, brands must invest extensive economic and operational resources in these intentionally limited interval sprints designed to generate excitement among a limited consumer base able to experience them. The persistent question among brand marketers continues to be how to most effectively scale an innovative pop-up strategy to achieve maximum exposure impact. Enter the mobile medium, and the introduction of a new, complimentary approach to pop-up experiential marketing.

The essence of the pop-up experience is time sensitivity, location and exclusivity. Much the same is true when speaking of the differentiated elements of the mobile medium. The mobile medium is location aware, dialed-in to time, intensely personal, action-oriented, and integrated into the social DNA of the digital native consumer. As such, the medium conveys a unique value proposition to experiential brand marketing – offering a transitive platform for a more scalable and consistent pop-up retail delivery infrastructure.

The end goal for any mobile optimized pop-up engagement campaign can vary. From driving store traffic to providing game clues through QR code scans to an invitation-only event, or from delivering limited availability product and promotional offers to showcase exclusive branded production content. The true value is in the platform that couriers the message and ensures a more cost effective and consistent series of consumer encounters with the brand. These campaigns effectually serve as component extensions of a comprehensive experiential pop-up marketing strategy.

To intelligently integrate mobile for this highly scalable model, considerations must be given to the aspects of the medium that make it unique. Whereas the physical pop-up experience is spatially focused – with considerations concentrated primarily on location, staging, atmosphere, and exhibition – the success of pop-up mobile encounters is predicated on creating actionable mobile moments that adhere to the following fundamental premises:

The Mobile Consumer is a Moving Target

The mobile medium is constantly connected and often in motion. As such, it represents the ideal events-driven medium for engaging consumers in a pop-up fashion. Effective mobile events, when properly orchestrated, consist of actionable, properly sequenced occurrences and provide an instantaneous portal into the brand encounter. This ability to effectively market in the moment bridges communication lag, with precision aim focused at the moving target.

The Mobile Medium is Transitive

Mobile provides a consistent interface for customers to assist in the navigation of an ever-evolving ecosystem of digital consumer touch-points. The transitive functions of the mobile medium provide the continuous messaging and engagement capabilities necessary to deliver a pop-up marketing model. This model ensures a balanced, timely, and relevant encounter with the brand, providing heightened degrees of interaction.

The Mobile Medium is Contextually Aware

Location and time recognition capabilities specific to the medium allow savvy pop-up mobile marketers to engage consumers in a contextually relevant manner. The effectiveness of any pop-up mobile marketing campaign is predicated on being relevant. Communicating branded messaging with an understanding of time and space creates interaction momentum and encourages consumer engagement.

Pop-up retail marketing is fundamentally designed to provide a metaphysical outlet for brands to see beyond the boundaries of their own brick and mortar and provide experiences for consumers that excite, entertain, and illustrate the innovation of the brand. The mobile medium is uniquely equipped to provide that same level of intrigue, based on an understanding of the context through which a consumer engages in brand encounters. The imaginations of marketers are free to guide consumers along a collaborative journey and create truly engaging, consistent, and scalable experiences that build intimacy and loyalty, while highlighting the creative vision and innovative nature of the brand.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Ad of the Day: Google "The Web Is What You Make Of It"

NFL = Brand King

The NFL season kicks off tonight with the Packers v. Saints. The NFL is widely recognized as the #1 sport in America, having replaced our “national pastime,” baseball. There are many reasons for this change over the last generation. One key to the success of the NFL is its branding.

NFL players themselves are often barely recognizable. The viewers and fans know them in uniforms and helmets. NFL uniforms only appears in commercials from sponsors and I’m sure after a process of review and approval.

The NFL is a branding machine. Sponsors line up to pay huge amounts to associate themselves with the NFL. Fans pay large sums for jerseys and other merchandise. How have they done it?
Part of the success is because the NFL  puts forth its brand in a cohesive manner. Their trademarks are well protected – most teams own trademark registration for  several variations of their logos, helmets designs and uniform designs. Only two brands, besides the NFL teams, are allowed to be a part of the game in any manner — Gatorade beverages and Motorola headsets worn by the coaches — and those rights come at a cost.

The NFL CBA contains significant provisions related to branding and licensing that provide some insight into how the NFL controls its brands to its advantage.

-Every NFL player contract must include the NFLPA Group Licensing Program provisions.

-The NFLPA Group Licensing Program clause grants widespread rights to the NFL including rights to use and to authorize others to use, in any format and for any purpose, a player’s:
name, nickname, initials, likeness, image, picture, photograph, animation, persona, autograph/signature, voice and all other id characteristics.

-Players must wear jerseys with sponsor logos if asked to.

-The NFL and Clubs have the right to “regulate any third party branding or other commercial identification that may appear on any footwear or gloves worn by players”.  (With footwear and gloves being the only part of the uniform that players have any control over.)

-On game days, from before the game until 90 minutes after the game – as well as at any training camp or practice – players must wear uniforms and other items as specified by the NFL or the team.

-During any television interview on team premises, a player may not wear or display any item that displays any other logos or brand names other than those from the NFL.

-The NFL can require any player to wear a tracking device for the purposes of broadcasting games.

-NFL Films can mic any player during any game, except that no player will be required to wear a microphone more than 4 times during the regular season.

As a result, the NFL controls its brand – through its players – excessively.  And therefore the brand is cohesive, strong, and extremely valuable. If any player could endorse a cheap product and wear NFL merchandise in a commercial to make it look like the team or league was also endorsing it, the value of the NFL brand would be cheapened. If players could conduct interviews or practice where tee shirts promoting brands that complete with the NFL’s official licensing partners, the value of the licenses would be diminished. NFL has wisely made itself the brand king.

An article in the Wall Street Journal this week highlights just how valuable the NFL brand has become….”the league and PepsiCo Inc. are set to announce a 10-year, extension of their sponsorship deal that ultimately could be valued at $2.3 billion through the 2022 playoffs, making it one of the largest sponsorships to date in U.S. sports.”

Even if your business is a minute fraction of the size of the NFL’s , your brand is just as important to your success. By properly using trademarks, registering them where possible, and when appropriate, controlling how they are used by employees and partners, any company can become the king or queen of its own brand.

Top 10 Star Trek Episodes of All-Time

45 years ago today, Star Trek premiered on NBC. Seventy-nine episodes, an animated series, eleven movies, and four spin-off series later; the little show that NBC cancelled after three seasons has become a cornerstone of science fiction. What better occasion to list the ten best episodes of the Original Series?

All of these episodes are available for online streaming on StarTrek.com.

1. The City on the Edge of Forever

I doubt anyone would disagree that this is the best episode of the Original Series, and possibly of all Trek. This is the one where McCoy, while tripping out on drugs, runs through the Guardian of Forever and prevents Joan Collins from being killed, which prevents America from entering WWII due to her pacifist activism. So Kirk has to go back in time, fall in love with her, and then watch her get hit by a truck. Watch this episode on the official site.

2. Mirror, Mirror

Spock has a goatee! Admit it, when you saw that for the first time; you thought it was the coolest thing ever. Kirk gets tossed into an alternate universe where the Federation is a warlike empire and manages to get to the Spock of that universe, who we later learn in DS9 was able to change things. Watch this episode on the official site.

3. Space Seed

 Khaaaaaaaaaaaan! This little episode, where the Enterprise finds genetically engineered supermen frozen in stasis would lead to the best Star Trek movie ever made. If you haven’t seen it, watch this episode on the official site.

4. The Trouble With Tribbles

This is perhaps one of the most famous of all Original Series episodes. It’s lighthearted, and a lot of fun. They even chose this episode to revisit when on Deep Space Nine they wanted to include that crew in an Original Series episode. Watch this episode on the official site.

5. Balance of Terror

Romulans look just like Vulcans? Your brain explodes! One of the best episodes of the Original Series introduced the Romulans, who would become a major race in the franchise, as well as giving some future-history when the Earth-Romulan war is talked about. Had Enterprise continued, we would’ve seen that war. Watch this episode on the official site.

6. The Doomsday Machine

How does Kirk destroy an indestructible planet killer? By flying a starship inside it and blowing it up! Watch this episode on the official site.

7. Amok Time
Spock has to return to Vulcan because he’s horny, and while there he and Kirk fight to the death. Complete with That Fight Music. One of the more famous episodes of the original Trek, if only for That Fight Music. Watch this episode on the official site.

8. Arena
The episode that forever put California’s Vasquez Rocks on the map. They used that filming location numerous times over the history of Star Trek, but it is 'Arena' that made it famous. Kirk’s ingenuity is on display in this episode when he makes a bazooka out of almost nothing to kill the Gorn. Watch this episode on the official site.

9. Devil in the Dark
This is Shatner’s favorite Star Trek episode, and for good reason. Nothing really funny to say about this episode, as it’s pretty much a perfect example of what Star Trek can and should be. Watch this episode on the official site.

10. Journey to Babel  
Journey to Babel is like a murder mystery on the Enterprise, with Vulcans, Andorians, and Tellerites all in on the fun and an Orion tossed in for some flavor. The episode introduced Spock’s parents, who would become major recurring characters in Trek. Watch this episode on the official site.

Friday, September 2, 2011

White House Press Briefings


A little known fact about myself...my guilty pleasure is that I watch or listen to the White House Briefing on a nightly basis. For the most part not because of the content but to watch and listen to how the Press Secretary handles reporters questions.

Just like my younger days as a college QB, the White House Press Secretary has to know about all the moving pieces inside and out of the White House. He or she has to be able to answer,dodge and deflect the press on pretty much any subject they throw out. Quick on your feet just like a QB and smooth just like a good QB, the Press Secretary is the mouth piece of the administration. With new media taking a huge role in communications for the Obama administration the press briefings are live streamed and archived on www.whitehouse.gov

OKmy secret is out..lets keep it between you and I:)

What is Marketing?

Marketing is the business of presenting and promoting goods and services in such a way to make customers want to buy them....Period!

Song of the Day...Talking Heads - "Once In A Lifetime"

Same as it ever was....same as it ever was!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Amway signs Red Wings sponsorship deal

Amway, the network-based direct-sell giant, has inked a deal to become the Detroit Red Wings' first-ever presenting team sponsor.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but the contract is believed to be a two-year, seven-figure deal.

The deal should give a slight boost to the Red Wings' net income, which was estimated for the 2009-10 season by Forbes at $15.3 million (sixth-best in the 30-team National Hockey League) on revenue of $119 million.

It's believed that this currently is the only team-wide presenting sponsorship in the NHL.

Amway's logo will be incorporated into all uses of the Red Wings' team logo that doesn't otherwise use other sponsorship logos, the team said. It will be used on signage throughout the arena, on the ice and elsewhere.

The sponsorship is scheduled to be unveiled during a media event this morning at Joe Louis Arena.

The sponsorship represents increased investment by Amway in the team: It signed a deal to put its logo on the team's practice jerseys and pucks in November.

Also part of the deal:

• Amway's Nutrilite products become the official vitamins and nutritional supplements of the Red Wings.

• The "Red & White" intrasquad scrimmage will be reinstated at the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids on Sept. 27. It was last held there in 2007.

• Amway will present the Detroit Red Wings Facebook Fan of the Day and every live social media event put on by the team's social media department, like official Tweetups. The Facebook Fan of the Day will receive Amway's products and an official Red Wings practice puck.

Amway has a number of other pro sports investments: It holds the naming rights of the Amway Center, home to the National Basketball Association's Orlando Magic. The company also is the presenting sponsor of Major League Soccer's San Jose Earthquakes and the Los Angeles Sol of Women's Professional Soccer.

Amway, known for sales of health, beauty, and home care products through network marketing, is owned by Ada-based Alticor Inc., which had revenue last year of $9.2 billion.

3 Reasons Your Brand Needs You.... On YouTube

As technology continues to evolve, video is becoming more and more prevalent across the internet. Even five years ago, filming and publishing professional-grade video content was much more difficult than it is today. From a personal branding standpoint, video is a fantastic tool as it allows your audience to see your face and hear your voice… instead of simply reading text. Below are three great reasons why, if you are serious about personal branding, you need to be on YouTube:

1) Video allows you to connect with your audience in a way no other medium can. Blogging is great. So is a strong social media presence and well-written content on your website. But no medium can provide the type of personal connection that video offers. There is no substitute for this connection.

2) Video allows you to express your personality. The essence of your personal brand is your personality. And video allows you to express yourself far more effectively than any other form of media. From your facial expressions to vocal inflections, video communicates the subtleties that make you unique. Video allows you to express your passions effectively as well—passion is communicated much more clearly through video than through text or pictures.

3) Video is fun and easy for your audience. Let’s face it, reading takes more effort than watching a video. For better or worse, most of us enjoy being able to lean back and simply watch the computer screen rather than actively read. In addition, video is easy to share, both on your website and on social media.

Today’s technology makes establishing a video identity achievable for every single business owner. YouTube and other video-based websites are dramatically growing in popularity every day, so don’t wait until it is too late to jump on this bandwagon.

Ad of the Day: Tape-Maker Duck Pays Homage to 'Tron' With Light Cycle Scene

Monday, August 29, 2011

Influencer Marketing

Influencer Marketing, (also Influence Marketing) is a form of marketing that has emerged from a variety of recent practices and studies, in which focus is placed on specific key individuals (or types of individual) rather than the target market as a whole.

It identifies the individuals that have influence over potential buyers, and orients marketing activities around these influencers.

Influencers may be potential buyers themselves, or they may be third parties. These third parties exist either in the supply chain (retailers, manufacturers, etc.) or may be so-called value-added influencers (such as journalists, academics, industry analysts, professional advisers, and so on)

Ad of the Day: Troy Aikman for Reliant Energy - Edible Shade

Friday, August 26, 2011

Like us on facebook or else...Really?

Not sure this is the best way to go about gaining 'Fans' on facebook.
Lids http://www.lids.com/ is a hat and apparel retailer who is looking to increase their following on facebook. If they don't reach 20,000 followers they are going to shut down the facebook page.....why exactly would they do this? So what you are telling your followers previous to the attempt of secure 20,000 followers is you don't really care about them; right?

Companies really need to understand its not about the number of 'Likes' it's what you do with the ones you have. And if Lids falls two short of reaching 20,000 by the deadline are they really going to shutout 19,998 people from viewing their products?

Good try Lids but you may want to rethink this idea in a hurry...Sept 1 is right around the corner.

Calling all LIDS fans! We need your help to reach 200,000 fans on Facebook by September 1, or the LIDS Facebook page will be taken down! That's right! No more special offers! No more sneak peeks! No more giveaways! All you have to do is become a fan of LIDS and invite as many of your friends as possible to do the same! Let's make this happen! Join the LIDS family by clicking 'LIKE' now!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Coca-Cola 125th Anniversary creative designs

As Coca-Cola marks its 125th year in business, celebratory can designs seem to be popping up all over the place. In addition to the new Diet Coke look rolling out in September, design firms around the world have been creating packaging for the flagship beverage, as well. Check out 16 different twists on Coke's 125th anniversary...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What Marketers Can Learn From the Great Wiener War

In a legal skirmish befitting the dog days of summer, Sara Lee Corp. and Kraft Foods are battling in a Chicago federal court over alleged false advertising claims each says the other made during their heated hot-dog brand battle in 2009.

The Great Weiner War is generating plenty of headlines -- and a bunful of puns -- reaffirming America's fascination with encased meat. But what lessons, if any, does this latest ad claim battle hold for marketers? And what precedents might be set by the trial, which is not expected to wrap up for a couple weeks? Ad Age sought answers from legal experts:

First some basics, like what's the beef?
Sara Lee filed suit against Kraft in early 2009, taking issue with Oscar Mayer brand ads promoting the hot dogs as "100% pure beef." Sara Lee says this is not true because the dogs contain "chemical and other non-beef contents." Oscar Mayer also ran ads promoting its dogs as being the best according to a national taste test. But Sara Lee says the test was flawed because the ad copy insinuated Oscar Mayer beat Sara Lee's entire Ball Park hot-dog line, when only a couple different competing hot-dog varieties were tested.

What does Kraft say?
The company says that "pure beef" is commonly accepted to mean the dogs don't contain other meats, such as turkey or poultry, and that the designation does not prohibit the use of other ingredients such as curing agents. So Kraft filed a counter suit, taking issue with Sara Lee proclaiming Ball Park dogs as "America's Best Beef Franks" based on an award from Chefs Best, an independent food-judging organization. Kraft says Sara Lee falsely claimed that the entire Ball Park line won the awards, when only three specific products did.

Are any of those ads still running?
The wiener war has pretty much subsided as both companies are running more positive messages touting all-natural dogs.

Then what's the point of going to court?
"There may be some plan or intention to re-institute the advertising at a future date," said David Balser, a lawyer with McKenna Long & Aldridge, who works on ad cases. Also "both sides might legitimately feel that the other competitor crossed the line and want to draw a line in the sand to let the other competitor know that they intend to require veracity in the advertisements." The companies also want monetary damages. And it should be noted that the food giants are still battling for wiener superiority, with Ball Park holding the top spot with almost 20% market share and $343.2 million in sales and Oscar Mayer second with nearly 17% share and $284.3 million in sales in the year ending April 17, according to SymphonyIRI, which does not measure Walmart.

Doesn't the ad industry self-regulate these kinds of claims?

Yes, the Better Business Bureau's National Advertising Division rules on roughly 200 disputes each year, and division director Andrea Levine said "if they had brought that case here, it would have been decided like two and a half years ago. Self-regulation is so much faster." But the NAD doesn't have power to levy punitive fines or issue injunctive relief; it can only recommend that claims in question be modified or discontinued. If companies don't comply, the NAD refers the case to a federal agency, such as the Federal Trade Commission.

Are more advertisers going after each other?

Experts say yes. And more marketers are opting for a noisy court battle over the relatively peaceful self-regulation process. "Back in the day, courts were very reluctant [to get involved] because there was a buyer's beware kind of attitude," said Randall Miller, a partner with Arnold & Porter LLP's McLean, Va., office, who represents plaintiffs and defendants in false-advertising lawsuits. But courts have grown more comfortable intervening, he added. "You typically would advise clients that it's really hard to get a temporary restraining order, courts don't like to do it," he said. "Nowadays I think you could advise clients, 'Hey we have a shot.'"

So how should marketers protect themselves?
The Kraft-Sara Lee fight spotlights another trend: More companies that face suits are filing countersuits. Advertisers need to "be monitoring their advertising competitors and knowing exactly what claims they are making and knowing what are the weak points and what are the things that are most attackable, because you might decide that they are breaking the rules enough that you want to sue them," Mr. Miller said. "But you certainly want to be in a position to respond if they sue you." He went so far as to suggest that big marketers dedicate full-time staff to monitor "every specimen of advertising" from competitors.

Is there anything unique about the Kraft-Sara Lee case?

Experts say the dispute resembles other cases, including many settled by the National Advertising Division. What is different is that the case has proceeded this far; most are resolved during the injunctive phase, said Linda Goldstein, a leading ad industry lawyer with Manatt, Phelps & Phillips. "Very, very few of these cases actually go to trial" she said. "But when they do, they will often address core issues that are significant for most advertisers."

So what possible precedents might be set?

The judge could provide more clarity on how taste tests can be used and operated. Sara Lee alleges Kraft's taste test was invalid because "contrary to accepted standards, these tests asked respondents to taste 'naked' boiled hot dogs that were presented on paper plates without condiments." Said Ms. Goldstein: "It's an interesting case in terms of what's been called 'testing under conditions of consumer relevance.' The issue here being most consumers would eat their hot dog with some condiment. Is it a fatal flaw to test a product without offering those condiments?"


A New Model for Business: The Museum

At first blush, the consumer appeal of a business like Groupon seems pretty obvious. The popular deal-of-the-day Internet start-up sells vouchers to restaurants, spas, and other local businesses at major markdowns--and who wouldn't want to score a 100-dollar sports massage for 50 bucks?

"In general we understand the role and appreciate that an expert who functions as our decision-making proxy makes for a much better museum-going experience"

But Harvard Business School's Ray Weaver says that what Groupon is up to is much more sophisticated than just offering 50 percent-off coupons. Groupon, along with companies like Apple, Facebook, and Progressive Insurance, is a leading example of firms that are thinking about customers in a new way—much like how a museum curator orchestrates the experience of patrons. Weaver, an assistant professor in the Marketing Unitat HBS, believes that part of Groupon's success is borne of the careful way the company presents wares to its customers: providing a very limited amount of choices at a time, along with a brief, engaging description of each offering.

To that end, Weaver is exploring the idea that many consumer-centric web-based businesses would benefit from acting more like museum curators.

"Many museums have enormous collections, so the possibilities are nearly endless," he says. "And most museum patrons don't know anywhere nearly enough to make these decisions on their own, and even if they were armed with some relevant information, most don't have the time or inclination to pore over it. So while we sometimes think that particular curators have missed the mark, in general we understand the role and appreciate that an expert who functions as our decision-making proxy makes for a much better museum-going experience."

Weaver argues that web-based businesses would benefit from such expert curators. On the web, options for products, services, and information are virtually endless, too. It's daunting for customers, and there's an increasing body of academic research showing that the public responds positively to limited choices. (For instance, a recent paper demonstrated that smaller menus are generally preferable to big ones.

But like museums, these businesses must go beyond simply limiting choices, Weaver says. They must present their wares in such a way that the consumer understands and appreciates the limitations.

"Curators don't just put the stuff out there. They make choices about which pieces to put next to other pieces, and put little plaques next to them explaining why you should care," he explains. "They educate their 'customers' about what they're looking at. And that is the missed opportunity in many for-profit businesses today."

Product curation, by necessity, requires talent and care. "Most consumers bristle at constraints on choice or heavy-handed guidance about what they should want, even though (ironically) they value it when it's disguised or otherwise presented in a nonthreatening way," he says.

Weaver lists Facebook, Apple, and Progressive Insurance as other examples of successful curators. In the case of Facebook, he argues that the social media giant is wildly successful in part because it exacts precision over how users display their content—a welcome change over the Wild West of the World Wide Web.

"Of course it's true that Facebook became popular because it's really good at helping friends connect," Weaver says. "But I think a big chunk of the value of Facebook has little to do with social media, but instead flows from the control that Facebook exerts over the environment. In many ways Facebook is taking over big chunks of what we used to do using more open technologies: web search, content consumption, even e-mail. Increasingly, Facebook is valuable to many people because it represents a more orderly alternative to the web. It's a controlled environment, a structured environment. It sets the rules."

Apple, meanwhile, has made an art form out of curation, not only by limiting its product line but also by providing quick, clear explanations--starting with the way the company names its products. Consumers who visit Sony or Dell in search of a new laptop may be confused by the bevy of choices and model numbers like "XPS 15x" and "VPCSB190X." But at Apple, they have only two aptly named laptop choices: the MacBook Air, which is lightweight and geared toward consumers, and the MacBook Pro, which is targeted toward heavy-duty users. Apple's phone and tablet choices are limited to the iPhone and the iPad. Making such pro-consumer choices may be why Apple, according to recent media reports, has more money in its coffers than the US Treasury.

As for Progressive Insurance, Weaver lauds the company's decision to provide a comparison-shopping application on its home page, so that consumers can compare Progressive's quotes with estimated quotes from competitors. In doing so, Progressive informs some customers that Progressive's product may not be the best choice for them. Indeed, curators run the risk that customers will exploit the curated information, only to buy from a competitor in the end. But Weaver stresses/argues that the reward outweighs the risk in the form of goodwill, and that good curation requires honesty.

"I think a big chunk of the value of Facebook has little to do with social media, but instead flows from the control that Facebook exerts over the environment"

"Progressive provides a trust-based service," he says. "A big part of what you're buying, a fair and expeditious claims process, is something you might never use. And it is very difficult to evaluate in advance. Because of this, Progressive benefits a lot more from its curation—showing competitors' prices—than would a company whose products and services are easier to evaluate. Call it enlightened self-interest. I don't think we can expect manufacturers and retailers to change in ways that will harm profits, even if it benefits customers. But most consumers are happy to pay a fair or even premium price for products and services that really suit them. If companies are smart about this, the increases in profits from new and more satisfied customers can more than offset losses from helping some customers realize their best fit is elsewhere."

The best salespeople in brick-and-mortar shops are natural curators (and docents), guiding customers toward the wares that best suit their needs, and away from the wares that don't. But on the web, customers depend on community review sites like Yelp.com where anyone with an Internet connection can post an opinion of or a story about any given product or service. Customers often find honesty in such crowd-sourced reviews, but they'll rarely find the expertise of an in-house curator.

"The informed opinion of one expert who is motivated by a legitimate interest in assisting customers is often superior to the collective reviews of dozens or more user-customers," he says.

Just as a modern art museum is clearly a modern art museum, so should a firm be clear about what it does and doesn't offer.

"Occasionally an organization does a great job of articulating what it does and whom it's good for, and has the courage to acknowledge explicitly the kinds of customers who might genuinely be better off elsewhere," he says. "This combination is rare but very powerful: an acknowledgment that we can't be all things to all people; a clear and unapologetic vision for and articulation of what we do stand for that dictates business practices throughout the organization; and a genuine interest in helping potential customers figure out if what we're selling is right for them.

"When you experience this as a customer, the benefits can be huge, and it can create fierce loyalty and lots of value all around."

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Stiller Foundation: SeeJenniferAnistonNakedFoundation.com

Ben Stiller's new foundation, which aims to support children around the globe through educational initiatives, had to have a catchy name. And, as he explains in this video, he came up with one that was just right.

So, SeeJenniferAnistonNakedFoundation.com takes you to the (real) Stiller Foundation Facebook page. The launch of The Stiller Foundation continues Stiller's efforts to build schools for kids in impoverished areas

Monday, August 1, 2011

Establish Your Brand

A brand is more than a logo, symbol, slogan or color combo (though all of these elements can help communicate your message). Think of it as a pledge: This is what customers can consistently expect from my company and its products or services.
4 easy questions to define your brand
Given its weightiness, defining your brand isn’t a speedy exercise. At the very least, you’ll need to determine:
  • What is your company’s mission?
  • What product benefits and features are you offering?
  • What qualities do you want customers and prospects to associate with your company?
  • How do customers, prospects and employees already perceive your company?
Once you figure out exactly what you’d like people to think about when they see your company’s name, run the positioning by some of your loyal customers.
Based on their own experiences with the company, would they agree the branding is on target? From there it’s important to maintain the consistency of the brand in every interaction you have with clients, from customer service to marketing communications.

Top 5 benefits of direct mail marketing
So you’ve established what you stand for, but how do you spread the word? Anyone who’s used direct mail can tell you that it’s a powerful way to deliver a message right to your customers’ doors — and bring more business through your own.
Direct mail helps strengthen your brand by keeping it visible and generating response from customers. It lets you literally put your brand in the hands of your customers, prospects and others in their households — something that can’t be said for many mediums.
Consider that it’s also:
  • Targeted. Mail lets you selectively target people most likely to respond.
  • Personal. You can address your customers by name, speak to them individually and appeal to their interests.
  • Flexible. From letters to brochures, there is a wide variety of inexpensive formats you can use for your direct mail campaign.
  • Measurable. Mail is one of the few mediums that let you track the success of your campaign. It’s as simple as counting the inquiries you received or the number of coupons redeemed. By tracking and analyzing your results, you’ll see what’s working and can make adjustments to future mailings if needed.
  • Easy. You don’t need a big budget to advertise with the mail. With a computer, some desktop publishing software and a little know-how, you can create your own professional-looking direct mail piece.
Remember, by creating a strong brand — and reinforcing that message — you can win customer loyalty, project credibility and increase the open rate of your direct mail pieces.

Jell-O Pudding's NYC Billboard Is Powered by Twitter

Here's a cool thing—a Twitter-powered billboard from Jell-O Pudding. It's essentially an outdoor version of the Jell-O Pudding Face website we wrote about earlier, which monitors the mood of the world based on the number of smiley- and sad-face emoticons posted to Twitter. (Whenever overall 'smileyness' dips below 50 %, the brand gives out coupons to the randomly downcast.) The billboard, from Crispin Porter + Bogusky, went up on Thursday and sits at the corner of West Broadway and Grand in New York City. Interesting to see an out-of-home ad responding in real time to the social Web.

Source: AdWeek

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

49 Creative Ways to use QR Codes

  1.  QR Codes on bus stops, train stations and subway stations: A quick scan would give you realtime information on when the next bus, train or subway would arrive.
  2. Posted next to paintings and sculptures at museums. Great for visitors who want to learn more about the artist, the time period, and the reaction to the photo. Could also include links to other work by the artist, related artists, and even the ability to buy the image on a mug or poster at the museum shop.
  3. As part of a personalized direct mail piece. Each QR code can go to a PURL (personalized URL (Uniform Resource Locator).
  4. On historical sites and on walking trails. Sure, a plaque is fine for grandma, but I’d like to delve deeper, whether with a wikipedia entry, or an video of a local historian explaining the significance of the site.
  5. At video kiosks. QR codes can appear as people interact with your kiosk, whether it’s at the mall or your place of business.
  6. On For Sale signs. Whether residential or commercial, for sale signs could include codes that had all the information a sell sheet includes, plus video walkthroughs.
  7. Email newsletter signups. Build your subscriber base by having quick links to an email signup box.
  8. E-learning. Have your QR code generate an email that starts an autoresponder, sending daily emails filled with lessons and related information.
  9. Next to packaged food in groceries. Give shoppers quick access to recipes that include the ingredients they see on the shelf.
  10. In a jigsaw puzzle. This would create some real engagement as the user would have to put together the puzzle before scanning the image.
  11. On produce. You could include information about the farm, organic vs. conventional growing, best by dates, etc.
  12. Buying coffee (or anything else.)Like Starbucks does.
  13. On bottles of wine. It would be nice to be able to get info about the vineyard, and maybe buy a case of that bottle I enjoyed at the restaurant.
  14. On tags for sustainable clothes. Is that piece of clothing really sustainable? Let’s quickly scan and see it’s story.
  15. For conference signage. Next to the name of the upcoming sessions in each room would be the QR code so you could get the full description, speaker bios, and see if there’s any room left.
  16. On conference name tags. SXSW has been doing this for at least a year or two. Why trade business cards when you can just scan them. Now, don’t you feel all TSA?
  17. Written in calamari ink on diners’ plates. You can’t make this stuff up.
  18. On jewelry. Examples abound.
  19. As part of interactive maps. Check out this example from Town Graphics.
  20. At the bottom of all newspaper and magazine articles. Then you could quickly get to the online version and see the comments that other readers had left.
  21. On liquor bottles. Linked to drink recipes; this would be especially good for new drinks you’re bringing to market.
  22. On building permits. New York City is already doing this.
  23. On the fliers that you find under your windshield wipers at the mall. One example might be an offer for a car wash; the URL would give you the discount code and directions to the car wash offering the deal.
  24. On the safety bar ads on ski mountain chair lifts. These days, everyone on the mountain seems to have a smart phone, and they’re going to be a captive audience for 5 – 10 minutes, sitting on that chair going up the mountain.
  25. Inside elevators. If I ran a dry cleaning service or something else that helped busy executives out I’d advertise inside elevators in tall buildings. Other good options might include flowers (for spouses left at home with the kids), discounts on take out food, etc.
  26. In bar bathrooms. I often see Home Runners and cab companies advertising above the urinals in bars. (Hey, what can I say? I frequent classy places.) Why not make it easier for patrons to get a safe ride home, rather than drunk dial a wrong number?
  27. Within a video game console to share avatars. Nintendo is already doing just that.
  28. To get more people to sign a petition. Like the one for cleaning up the BP mess.
  29. At bars, clubs and anywhere else music is playing. Sure, Shazam is a great tool for finding music, and often you can even buy the track you discovered at iTunes or Amazon. But in a loud club you may not be able to suss out the song. If a QR code appeared above the DJ’s head, you could quickly scan the code and purchase that new song.
  30. On the backs of tractor trailers. Because “How’s My Driving?” with an 800 number is so last decade.
  31. On wedding invitations instead of RSVP cards. Scan a QR, save a tree. And a stamp.
  32. As a temporary tattoo. Link it to your Facebook profile or Twitter account.
  33. On a laminated card for trade shows. Instead of dropping a business card in a fish bowl. Booths win because they’ll get all the pertinent info, and the event could give away prizes to the people who get scanned the most.
  34. To encourage community feedback. The library in Groton, CT, does just that.
  35. As wallpaper. Well, it’s better than the wallpaper in a bathroom.
  36. On the bottom of flip flops. The imprint they make on the beach…until the tide comes in.
  37. On coffee cups from your local coffee shop. Plenty of advertising opportunities here.
  38. On posters linking to free books. 1st Bank is giving away free copies…of these out-of-copyrighted classics. They also have other boards that link to free sudoku.
  39. On a ball field. Have you seen what the groundskeepers can mow into the outfield these days? They’re artists!
  40. On a human billboard. Think “Eat at Joes.”
  41. As wrapping paper. One company is already customizing this with unique videos attached to QR codes.
  42. On trade show booths. Scan a picture, (be entered to) win a free iPod.
  43. On recipes in magazines. Quick link to videos, reviews and feedback at the website.
  44. For self-guided tours at factories. Scan a code, learn what that dohickey does.
  45. Posted on car windows in dealerships. Perfect for after-hour shoppers.
  46. Scratch and Win cards. It’s not enough to have them scratch off the card, make them scan that card to see if they’ve won.
  47. On movie posters. QR code takes them to a preview of the movie.
  48. On cocktail napkins. The code could take networkers to the sponsor’s site, the beverage’s site, or some networking site with photos, so you can connect with people after the event.
  49. In TV ads to make them interactive. Here’s an exampe from AXA.

Your People..Your Brand

Ask your people. Would you like to find out what your customers think about your brand? Like to find out what your people think of your brand? Most executives are afraid to ask there people for fear they may tell them something they do not want to hear..that's a brand killer!

Your people are your brand and if you are in the service industry and 99% of us are...your people are the face of your brand and are the most important asset a brand has.

Here are some questions you need to ask your people...

-What do you think about our brand/products/service
-Make sure your people understand you are asking them as partners and that they should always feel they can speak their mind.

-What are the clients saying about our brand/product/service

-How many new people a day are coming in

-Have there been any unhappy clients..please go into detail on how problem was solved

As with any question/suggestion you need to make sure you have follow-up and a action plan. You have to show your people their in-put counts. Ask them to come up with a solution or a new program. And give them incentive to do so (money talks) Give them power and they will go the extra mile..show them their ideas are important and they will go the extra two miles..and show them you care they will go for miles and miles.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Architect Barbie Dream Home..Design Competition

The American Institute of Architects lobbied long and hard for an Architect Barbie to be added to Mattel's Barbie lineup, and it got its wish just a few months ago. Now, it is going full steam ahead with a contest to design a dream house for her to live in. Over 30 applications have been submitted, and five designs by people who pattern houses for a living have been chosen as finalists. Anyone can vote online for the winner (you don't have to be an AIA member).

Although Mattel has no plans to turn the winning design into a real product, it's still super fun.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Marketing with QR Codes...not your grandfathers marketing tool!

1- Placement: where and how do you want to use your QR code
Put it on a poster, decal on your front window, maybe a direct mail piece or directly on your products? How about on your business cards? Accessibility is key make sure your clients can see it and access it from all angles.

2- Branding: what is your message: Where do you want to send those receiving the code and what do you want to give them? What do you want to tell them…’Like us’, sign up for our newsletter, view our special of the day, enter our contest to win or even better place an order.

3- Create your code: There are lots of sites that offer QR code creation service for free. No reason to pay to create a QR code. The sites or apps that do charge are marketing services to accompany the QR code creation..maybe something to look at after you gain experience with QR codes.
I use and recommend: http://qrcode.kaywa.com/

4- Call to Action and Marketing your QR code: Have fun with it and be creative but remember you want consumers to not only receive the information quickly but also to take action.

5- Track your progress: You need to take the time to measure the outcome of your QR code campaign. When you create your code, make sure that analytics or tracking will be available, whether it’s measuring the number of scans or another activity by the hour or day. Some forms of tracking allow you to see what type of device people used for their scan as well. If you are using a URL for your QR code, you can make it one specific for this campaign and then track it with Google analytics.

Whether you decide to implement QR codes into your marketing plan, they are definitely worth experiencing as a user. Scan a few offered by other businesses or check out some examples online to see how they work for you as a consumer. This is an excellent way to become familiar with the medium and get those creative marketing juices flowing.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Customer Service in 'Real Time'

1. Give a damn. And mean it

The foundation of any culture of listening – and in turn action – is simply caring. Take great interest in what your customers are saying, and demonstrate that interest publicly. Actively soliciting feedback from your customers in your store and on the web carries the sense that you are constantly striving to improve. Showcasing the ways that you make changes based on the feedback cements that idea. If you care about your customers, your customers are going to care about you.

2. Respond in real time

Your customers are INFINITELY connected. At any given point I can email, call, text, Facebook, Tweet or send up a good ol’ fashioned flare to someone that I’m trying to get in touch with. Why would paying customers not expect that same connectivity out of the businesses that they interact with? Your response time as a business is a direct indicator of how much you value your customer feedback. With each passing second, a wall is building up between you and your customer base that has expressed a certain level of dissatisfaction.

Further, while the ability of your customers to diffuse negative information about you increases, so does your risk for reputation hell. Each and every customer that you have now carries an audience with them. You can’t afford to have a single negative experience turn into the loss of hundreds of customers simply because you weren’t equipped to deal with customer feedback in a timely fashion.

3. Offer to make it better – yes, even if it’s not your fault

Anytime you receive negative feedback, you have the ability to showcase your businesses’ ability to go above and beyond to satisfy customers. In many of these situations the customer doesn’t necessarily deserve it, but that’s not the point. You have to account for the larger picture. Going above and beyond for one customer can touch far more potential customers and drastically improve your brand’s perception in ways that no other marketing tactic can. It’s not about that single customer at that specific point in time; it’s about using that situation to create a customer-oriented stigma for your brand. In a sense, these are investment opportunities with the potential for huge return.

4. Follow-up (The extra mile)

After you’ve immediately addressed and remedied the situation with your customers, follow-up. Ensure that you’ve rectified it not only your mind, but theirs, and let them know how much you’d like their business in the future. This gesture shows your customers just how committed you are to their long-term business. It also demonstrates the extraordinary effort you made to keep a customer happy – an action that should win back multiple customers.

There certainly is no magic pill that makes negative feedback sting any less, but by acknowledging it for what it really is, and creating a culture that embraces all types of feedback, you can dramatically curtail the instances of negative feedback and ensure that you’re turning each customer into a living, breathing billboard for your brand.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Silo Demolition..Open the Windows and Let the Light In!

When my passion for marketing first began, it didn’t occur to me that someday I would have to play construction worker and bulldoze silos. The kind of silos I am speaking of typically occur in larger organizations where functional departments can become impenetrable. Even within larger marketing and sales groups, there can be a divide; marketing and sales are not always BFF's.

I was reminded of how dysfunctional marketing departments can become after reading a recent Quirk’s article by Michael Carlon, Rethinking the Role of Shopper Insights. His article was on the changing the culture of shopper insights and spoke to the silos which can prevent strategic and tactical information from reaching the right hands at the right time.

This is where we need to step up and actively seek out internal constituents who can benefit from our brand of primary research. We are marketers; and research collectors. Our product in part is data and insights that come from the surveys, focus groups and transactional analyses we conduct. As stewards of strategic information, we cannot sit in an ivory tower, we must get into the trenches.

Creating a regularly updated summary of research findings and distributing those learning's to senior management as well as those in day to day contact with the customer is one way we can work around the silos departments create.

Another option is to connect with working groups and provide presentations customized for their specific needs. It takes only little additional time to re-analyze the data through the filter of the group you are presenting to.

So fellow marketers, be not afraid to go forth and spread the feedback you have collected, you have developed. You may just find that it creates greater demand for your services and increases your personal customer satisfaction rating.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Five Tips for Using Social Media to 'Check in' to the White House

Study Finds Online Engagement Will Be Key to 2012

Kissing babies is still a valuable trick of the political trade, but it's not enough for the digital world. The modern politician will capture the baby-kissing on video and quickly post it on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube while making sure constituents "check in" to Foursquare. According to a recent Iowa field study of politically themed advertising conducted by SocialVibe, the digital road to the White House is now dependent on social-media engagement.

"Social-media engagement will decide election 2012," Jay Samit, CEO of SocialVibe, a digital advertising technology company, said in an email. "Voters are hungry for sharable content that resonates with their values, priorities and interests."

It's to be expected that a social agency will sing the praises of social media. And reality dictates that old-fashioned TV advertising is, once again, going to account for the overwhelming bulk of political advertising this election cycle as politicians seek to target undecided and swing voters.

But online and social will be crucial to any successful campaign -- especially in terms of fundraising and getting out the base. And experts parsing the results of the study during a conference call today offered up five solid tips for campaigns:

1. Use Facebook and campaign websites to engage supporters. According to Karen Jagoda, executive director of the E-Voter Institute, 81% of those 18 and older expect candidates to have a website. Also, with Facebook user numbers at roughly 150 million in the U.S. alone, many candidates will look to utilize this social media tool.

In the last election Google was the largest player -- the Obama campaign directed 45% of its online campaign dollars to the search site. However, in this upcoming election Facebook is being forecasted at being equally important to Google, according to Kate Kaye, author of "Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media."

2. Make your social presence a conversation. Thanks to social networking, it has become easier to target supporters with specificity. This is because, according to SocialVibe, "campaigns can target by political party, a cross-section of information imbedded into a profile (ranging from a user's 'likes' to the topics she discusses on her wall) and by age, gender and location." Also, with the use of social networking a particular message can be passed along multiple times to reach a wide range of people. According to SocialVibe, "94% of voting-age users engaged by a political message in social media watched the entire message, and nearly 40% went on to share it with their friends."

3. Go mobile. Jon Gibs, a Nielsen VP, said that there are 230 million cellphone users in the U.S., of which 30 million watch video on their mobile phones. Further, political campaigns are turning to quick-response codes that allow users to check in to a particular event using Facebook or Foursquare. According to SocialVibe, "The Mitt Romney campaign recently took advantage of this feature by creating a Foursquare badge for participating in a one-day fundraiser in Las Vegas."

4. Make emails social. Although email is no longer the principle way to get a message out to the public, it is a still an important tool. "While younger voters may be disinclined to even open emails, their parents and grandparents still rely on email for information and connection," according to SocialVibe.

5. Build allegiance through engagement advertising. This form of advertisement relies on the people themselves to maintain and further the success of the advertising. People choose to engage a particular advertisement, receive information about the subject and gain credit by playing a social online game, premium content or other goods they find value in.

"Campaigns that embrace the latest trends in commercial brand advertising will see the same kind of results that are driving more and more advertising dollars both online and to mobile devices," said Mr. Samit.

Source: Ad Age