Archive for September, 2010

Keep social media programs on track

Monday, September 27th, 2010

With any sort of brand building effort — be it social media, PR advertising or trade shows — managing all the details from start to finish can be daunting and time consuming. Many times, the slightest error can undermine a good campaign, as seen in this rather embarrassing billboard:

While it seems that such errors are, at times, unavoidable, in the social media world at least a large assortment of tools have emerged to help your campaigns go more smoothly. You can find tools  to help you create, execute and track your brand-building efforts.  When it comes to selecting social media tools it’s a good strategy to embrace tools that span a number of different social media channels so you can roll out integrated, consistent campaigns.

Over at TopRank, an online marketing blog, Lee Odden offers up a list of 22 tools for social media marketing management. Some are completely free while others offer a limited set of services on a trial basis with pay models as you tap more of the tool’s capabilities. I’ve used a few of the services on the list and found them to be beneficial.   HootSuite, for example, integrates social media activity like Twitter and Facebook posts and feeds into a common dashboard with an assortment of charts and graphs.  Many of the tools go much deeper and will you help set up and manage full-blown campaigns.

Tools alone can’t save you from embarrassing or costly mistakes, however.  I’m sure we’ve all had our share. In my case, I’ve learned the hard way (although not as bad as that billboard) to never underestimate the power of typos. Good  editors in particular are worth every dime!

Happy Birthday Xerox PARC

Friday, September 24th, 2010

(Sung to the tune of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band)

It Was 40 Years Ago Today,

That Xerox brought us into the fray.

Tech’s been going in and out of style,

But we’re guaranteed to share the file.

So stop me if you’ve already been told,

of the center up on Page Mill Road.

Who built the modern GUI in-house,

Who also invented the mouse.

So without any further adieu,

I’d like to share with you.

As groundbreaking as Noah’s ark,

The 40th birthday of Xerox PARC.

Do you know where the laser printer, Ethernet, mouse, GUI (as we know it today) and the term “ubiquitous computing” come from? If you guessed the hills of Palo Alto then you’d be correct. Xerox’s famed PARC lab is celebrating its 40th anniversary this week.

I was fortunate enough to grow up just three miles from the Xerox PARC labs. Some of the inventions that came out of the lab have become part of our everyday life. While the technologies themselves are pretty amazing, the legacy of PARC is all about creativity. The lab has always been a place where engineers were given free reign to invent, share ideas and help dictate the technology of the future. In looking at the history of the region it’s important to understand that these attributes – creative, inventive, sharing – are what helped build Silicon Valley into the global power that it is.

So happy birthday to Xerox PARC and to the culture it has spawned.

News Consumption Up, but How Do You Get the Coverage?

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Pew Research issued a recent report indicating that American’s are consuming more news coverage than they have in the past decade. With the rise in ways we can consume news- from traditional outlets such as radio, TV and local newspapers to new online sources- American’s are averaging 70 minutes a day. This does not account for digital and social platforms such as accessing news from phones or getting news updates from social networks (according to The Nielsen Company, our time on social networks grew by 43 percent this past year).

While these figures are inspiring, many companies face the increasing challenge of obtaining media attention. With the move to online news, media outlets are focused on stories that will drive hits or on stirring the pot in order to spur user dialog and debate. At the same time, the economic conditions and uncertainty about online models have led to shakeouts and layoffs across the publishing landscape. This means coverage tends to tilt toward the big dogs.

To compete, small and medium sized companies have to get extra crafty when it comes to the battle for coverage. In light of today’s climate, what can a company do in the race for news coverage? Here are a few tips:

  • Create packaged stories: Because there are fewer reporters, the need for fully packaged stories is greater than ever. Before you release your news, make sure you have strong data, customer and analyst references, strong visuals and a powerful angle. Even better- intertwine a bit of tension into the story. While these have always been the rules of a good pitch, they are imperative for getting noticed now. There just isn’t time for the reporter to go back and forth to piece it all together anymore. If it’s all ready to go, you’ll increase your chances.
  • Podcasts and video: Media are crying out for multimedia content to liven up their websites. For your next announcement, issue your release with a link to a podcast or vodcast and offer these up to the media and bloggers for their sites. Media demand is high for this type of content as their readers gravitate toward audio and video as preferred formats.
  • Zero in on outlets you know will get syndicated: For smaller companies, getting widespread, standalone news stories can be a challenge. Select one to two news outlets you know will get syndicated and focus your efforts on driving coverage with these outlets. If you select the right sources, the coverage can spread like wild fire across other media sites, blogs and lead to viral sharing on Twitter and Facebook.
  • Be your own media source: Don’t forget to incorporate your own news distribution vehicles into the strategy. Your company blog, Twitter and Facebook should also be built into your plan, including teasers and day of coverage. And encourage your internal teams to share the news as well.

As a recent example, McKenzie Worldwide worked with our client Open Text this week to debut ECM Suite 2010, the company’s most significant announcement of the year. To drive maximum results, we crafted a fully packaged story which included a podcast from the CTO to frame the significance of the announcement, a vodcast to outline customer benefits, product screenshots, industry data to provide context for why the product is relevant, and a press release to wrap together the full narrative. Press are responding positively to having everything at their fingertips- from visuals and data to executive perspective and multimedia content . Check out CMSWire for a great example of how this all came together in one story.

Have a strategy or tactic that has worked particularly well for you? What challenges is your company facing in garnering media attention?

Building Brand Through Social Media

Friday, September 17th, 2010

For many people, social media is changing the way we interact with one another. To some degree, it’s more about communicating via one-to-many instead of one-to-one. It’s great to be able to find long lost friends from high schooland reminisce via Facebook or to find out what a pro athlete is thinking about during a game via Twitter. None of this is lost on the corporate world.

While the center of most people’s social media experiences are Facebook and Twitter, startups like Foursquare andGroupon show there’s still some new opportunities in the social media landscape for new services. And marketers – especially those building consumer brands – are starting to capitalize. Here are a few interesting examples of how companies have leveraged social media to engage their customers and build a community.

PepsiCo, Mashable and VC firm Highland Capital Partners have teamed up to launch PepsiCo10. It’s a new competition that looks to match startups in fields like social media and mobile marketing with industry mentors and brands within PepsiCo with which they can pilot their products.

Another interesting campaign is one concocted by The Gap who partnered with Foursquare and Groupon. For this campaign The Gap teamed up with popular group-buying site Groupon to offer a nation-wide deal: $50 worth of apparel for just $25. By the end of the day, 441,000 groupons were sold bringing in a little more than $11 million. You can also see what Toy Story 3, AOL and Starbucks have done.

Personally I like what Mountain Dew has done with their DEWocracy campaign. The company launched a campaign last year called DEWmocracy, which allowed Dew’s loyal fans to choose the next Mountain Dew flavor – they ended up choosing Voltage. The success of the last campaign though has spurred a new one where they’ve upped the ante with their Dew Labs Challenge, which utilizes 12seconds.tv, 50 boxes of Dew, and a lot of YouTube.

Not only are companies using social media to drive sales and build brand loyalty but they’re also getting input on products and helping to develop new offerings. Talk about hearing the voice of the customer!

By changing how they reach customers, companies are helping usher in a new era of communicating, branding and building loyalty. Do you relate better to a company if you’re engaged in one of their community programs? Does it bother you? Do you feel like Big Brother is watching when they send you coupons for a store that you’re walking by?

Successful Brands Get Personal

Monday, September 13th, 2010

This past week I was reminded of the importance for brands to not only understand their target audience(s), but find ways to get personal with individuals. This was spurred by an email I received from Groupon with the subject line “New: Personalize Your Groupon Deals”.

Having suffered Groupon fatigue from the influx of irrelevant offers, I was quite excited to see their effort to personalize the experience. Unfortunately, when I went to the site to take the survey, they only asked for my gender, birth date and zip code. They missed an incredible opportunity to learn more about my interests and preferences and thereby create a strong, long-term relationship based on truly customized deals (not my zip code).

In today’s world, understanding your target demographic is not enough. People expect to have a personal relationship with brands, so companies must take an extra step to understand psychographics- any attributes relating to personality, values, attitudes, interests, or lifestyles.  Netflix and Amazon do a stellar job of this through employing technology that learns about their subscriber’s preferences and then offering up relevant recommendations. There is something very powerful about feeling a company really knows you, and accomplishing this is nearly impossible if the engagement strategy is based off of broad sweeps of demographic profiles.

There’s an interesting parallel between brand engagement and media engagement. Good PR professionals know they must carefully research their target influentials. It’s essential to know what they’ve written about and what topics they care about before approaching them. I’ve seen many instances over the years of PR professionals get slammed for spamming reporters and bloggers with cookie cutter pitches, resulting in irritation, no coverage and deteriorated credibility. In many instances, the guilty “blanket pitcher” who didn’t take the time to get to know their target gets redirected to the junk folder (or worse, called out publicly in an article or blog post).

The lesson for brands: find ways to get to know your customers on a more intimate level or you too are likely to be overlooked.

What brands do you think do a good job of understanding their customers?

 

The Power of Multichannel Marketing

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

The power of video gaining viral legs can create incredible visibility for a brand. One of my personal favorites – the Evian roller babies – brought this brand back to life for me after moving it to the passé section of my mind sometime in the 90s. However, even though I loved the video, I still haven’t been motivated to pick up a bottle. I just smile when I see the logo and pay heed to the creative talent who developed the video.

 

Interestingly, Evian started running the ads on TV a few months ago. Apparently the sales pipeline thinned out from the online push and they’re trying another approach.

This week, SymphonyIRI released the latest sales data for Old Spice body wash, the product that has risen to the number one most viewed video spot thanks to the muscular Isaiah Mustafa sending messages from the shower.

Bad news Mustafa – sales are down. Apparently these past four weeks, the campaign has been running without a corresponding coupon, leaving consumers less motivated to purchase. Sales have dropped 30-33 percent since the buy one, get one free sales promotion ended, giving Mustafa quite a bit less muscle on his own.

This serves as an important reminder that motivating target audiences to take action requires more than an entertaining video. Today, capturing a consumer’s attention takes a minimum of 3-5 touch points from multiple sources. Companies must create 360 degree campaigns which reach their targets in all the places they are engaged — media, blogs, point of purchase, social networks, online video sites, events, etc.  And there has to be a compelling call to action and/or incentive. For the general consumer, coupons are particularly hot right now as the recession has conditioned us to look for ways to save.

Regardless of your target audience, the importance of having a multichannel marketing plan is imperative. A one legged stool just won’t stand up. Unless of course your only goal is to be the number one viewed video and have people smile at your water bottles. And let’s not forget – viral isn’t a given, so even this goal has no guarantee.

What brands do you think are the best success stories when it comes to multi-channel marketing? Failures?


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