Pin of the Month – Google Maps


Google Maps infographic by

Google Maps infographic by


The ‘Pin of the Month’ for April 2014 is one that was actually sent my way by Louann Fadrik of  This ties in nicely with one of the recent themes written about here on – my personal loyalty to Google’s products.  This month’s ‘Pin of the Month’ focuses specifically on Google Maps and how it is changing location-based data and business.

At the top of the infographic we see the future of location-based data and what many believe the future holds for us.  “Location awareness will be built into everything” and I find it hard to argue with that (just take a look at the stories from our mobile marketing-focused #SundayMusings from a few weeks ago).  Google Maps will likely be the backbone to much of this given their strength and market share of its API.

The part that I find most fascinating in this infographic is the section on the “Components of Google Maps” and how Trekker actually works.  The amount of data that they are collecting and piecing together on a day basis is, frankly, amazing.  I’m even more interested to see what Google does with Waze now after digesting this.

After taking you through a timeline of events at Google, the infographic provides us with a peek into what companies are built on Google Maps API, including Uber, Airbnb, and thousands more.  Google’s success led to the launch of OpenStreetMaps, which has been adopted by, among others, Apple and Foursquare.  As they say, innovation typically drives growth and that is what Google Maps seems to be doing for location-based business.

I want to take a second to thank Louann for reaching out to me directly.  She saw my articles on Google and thought I might be interested in this and was absolutely correct.

For those unfamiliar with our Pin of the Month, each month we’ll be posting one of the better infographics, pictures, etc. that we typically find on our Pinterest page and (over-) analyzing it in a blog write-up.  Follow Shore Branding on Pinterest for frequent updates across branding and digital-related information and infographics.

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 4-13-14

Branding and Digital Marketing

Branding and Digital Marketing

Welcome back to a new #SundayMusings w/ Shore Branding!  Our bi-weekly write-up has a new focus topic this week and that is content marketing.  Content marketing has become all the rage, but truth be told, I see it as a fancy phrase that is an extension of your branding efforts.  I’m sure many will disagree with this sentiment, but that’s my view on the latest catchphrase in marketing.

#1 – 9 Tips for Creating Content that Gets Shared – via 

Premise: Jeff Bullas provides his top nine tips for creating content that gets shared.  From identifying your audience/target through “making information accessible”, Jeff provides a good amount of context for each of his nine tips.

Thoughts: All nine of the tips found this article are useful and ought to be kept in mind as you (re-)focus on your content.  The one tip that seems highly relevant given our changes to these #SundayMusings write-ups is “#6 – Pay attention to trends”.  That was the main reason for moving to a topic-focused style of writing for #SundayMusings and our numbers and shares across social media have improved. 

#2 – “Content Marketing Without Being Pushy” – via   

Premise: Heidi Cohen points to a recent study that suggests “less than 50% of customers trust any form of advertising”.  With that number in mind you find the real purpose of content marketing – selling without being viewed as pushing your brand/business on consumers.  Heidi then offers up five types of content marketing and, separately, five tips to support sales conversions.

Thoughts: The one type of content marketing that I want to call out is “#3 – Offer show and tell”.  Heidi mentions Instagram, Pinterest, and including videos in your content marketing efforts.  While I am a big believer of not being everywhere for the sake of having your site on each and every social media platform, you probably want to focus on at least one of these three in order to improve the visual appeal for your brand/business.

Within the five tips to sales conversions, I like the wording Heidi has gone within #3.  Rather than “call-to-action”, she suggests a “coax-to-action”.  Well played.

#3 – “Content Marketing Metrics Your CEO Cares About” via  

Premise: A common question for marketers is how to measure and track the success of your content marketing efforts.  What metrics do you use and how do you analyze them?  The author recommends measuring both your “content performance” and the “impact on sales”.  From there, what you want to keep an eye on in terms of reporting are “leads to conversions”, “money saved”, and “customer retention / churn”.

Thoughts: Aside from the Kurt Russell reference, this write-up caught my attention as it provides you with options on what to measure.  There are several angles that you can take and measure within the Performance and Sales buckets – you need to decide what they are and what makes the most sense for your business.

#4 – “SlideShare for Business: Tips and Tricks for Success from #SMMW14” via 

Premise: Simply put, you are missing out if you aren’t leveraging SlideShare as part of your digital marketing efforts.  The author provides three key reasons for using SlideShare – 1. Huge visibility, 2. Relevant audience, and 3. Search visibility.  The author then provides several recommendations on how to optimize your efforts on the site itself and several “tricks from the pros”.

Thoughts: The “tricks” section is very useful and a nice checklist to keep in mind if you want to incorporate SlideShare into your digital marketing plans.  Using hashtags was not a surprising recommendation, but SlideShare isn’t top of mind when it comes to using the tool/technique.  It certainly helps being found when searching for specific topics.

#5 – “Content Engagement on LinkedIn Now Measured by Simple, Powerful Metric” via  

Premise: LinkedIn has launched their own Content Marketing Score to help businesses manage and develop their content strategy.  The score is a simple percentage calculation dividing the engaged members by the active audience available.  The platform will provide recommendations on how to improve your efforts, will provide competitive benchmarks, and allow you to do some basic filtering down of the data.

Thoughts: The Content Marketing Score was just one of several new features that LinkedIn is providing businesses with.  The metric will be an easy to understand snapshot of how your efforts are performing over time and you’ll be able to track the good and bad from your various posts, topics, etc.  LinkedIn isn’t the first, and likely won’t be the last, social network to offer up their own analytics platform.  If you have been reading #SundayMusings for a while now, you know that I am a fan of these efforts from each site.  The more you learn, the more you can adapt your strategy.

Are you running a LinkedIn page?  Have you begun using the new features?  If so, let me know how they are via email or in the contact form below.  Thanks!

#6 – “7 Big Brands are Succeeding in Content Marketing … You Can Too” via  

Premise: The author dives into seven big brands that are successfully implementing a strong content marketing strategy – through very different avenues.  P&G and Colgate have developed highly engaging reference communities that tie together their brands with experts in those particular fields, video, etc.  Kraft and General Mills have developed branded web sites to provide recipes, tips, etc. for their respective communities.

Thoughts: Building communities is a great way to allow your consumers to help build your own brand’s equity.  These engaged users can become somewhat of a brand ambassador for you – not only online, but also promoting the site (or your business) via word-of-mouth.

What online communities do you engage with?  I have joined a number of G+ Communities and also have active discussions about sports on several sites.

Tweet of the Week:

I found the above tweet from Uberflip and wanted to pass it along as one to keep an eye one each and every week if you are consistently looking to read more on content marketing.  Every week they provide a number of links in their “Content Roundup”.

Those are the content marketing stories that have caught my attention over the past few weeks.  Hope you enjoyed the latest #SundayMusings!  Have a great week! Book Review – “Brand Against the Machine” by John Morgan


Go read this book! "Brand Against the Machine" by John Morgan

Go read this book!
“Brand Against the Machine” by John Morgan

Occasionally, I fall into a book and feel strongly enough that it is worth putting together a few additional words on it so that readers know that I feel it would be worth their time and investment.  That time has come as we have found another fine example with John Morgan’s “Brand Against the Machine”.

Brief Summary:

The traditional paths of marketing and advertising are broken.  In today’s world, how can you improve your branding efforts to maximize your profits and improve your positioning with your desired audience?  John Morgan takes you through the essentials – know your market, develop a strong positioning, and how to sell yourself to said market.

There are three key takeaways within the first 50 pages of the book that you need to keep in mind every step of the way and make sure you abide by these thoughts each and every day:

  1. “The future of branding is marketing with people and not at them.”
  2. “Branding isn’t about market share, it’s about mindshare.”
  3. (And potentially most importantly…) “Another thing to remember is that marketing tactics come and go.  Branding lasts forever.”

John reminds us that this isn’t going to be easy and that you/we are going to have to work hard to achieve your/our goals.  Keeping those three items in mind, “Brand Against the Machine” takes you through various channels in how to improve your branding efforts.

Why I enjoyed the book:

Before getting into specifics, there are two general reasons that I enjoyed “Brand Against the Machine”.  First, John’s writing style is thought provoking, but not at a “speaking down to my audience” level.  I found myself thinking of how I could apply his thoughts to my efforts throughout the book.  Second, there is a good amount of humor and self-deprecation throughout the read and that is right up my alley.  You don’t have to take yourself too seriously all the time, no matter how much success you may have already realized with your brand/business.

In Chapter 60, John lays out “20 Rules” … excuse me, “20 decrees” for a business.  Number 6 caught my attention right away.  This decree says, “Customers have to “get” an idea right away”.  No matter how great you think your idea is and how well you think you are implementing a strategy around it, if your audience doesn’t “get it”, you are in trouble.

After reading through the prior 59 chapters and having thoughts in my head on how to improve this blog, I found myself immediately going back to the drawing board on that simple rule/decree.  Look for small changes to hit over the coming weeks and months and if you find them, know that it likely stemmed from a thought that crossed my mind while reading John’s book.

One additional thought came to mind while reading the book.  John’s words provoked a thought and that was to send him an email to see if he would be willing to answer a few follow-up questions.  Well, he was and here is the small Q&A that we went back and forth on over email.

Q1. Given the constant state of change we see in branding, particularly thanks to digital and mobile, since publishing the book in 2011, is there anything in the book that you read now and say, “I would tweak this a bit … and here’s how”?  If so, what is it?

I think I’d push the reader more. Building and maintaining a successful brand isn’t easy but it’s worth it. Too many people back away when things get hard. The strategies in the book work as well today as ever. But they have to be implemented and that’s where most people stop. 

Q2. Obviously the book has been a success.  Is it fair to ask the next question … will there be a follow-up?

Yes! Although my next book isn’t a branding or marketing book. It’s about the core principles people must follow to achieve their goals.

Q3. What else is on your (virtual) book shelf that you consider to be a must-read for branding enthusiasts?

It’s not a branding book, but The Greatest Salesman In The World by Og Mandino should be required reading for any entrepreneur or marketer. I’d also recommend CTR ALT DELETE by Mitch Joel.

Q4. Quick, one example of exceptional branding that comes to mind in recent weeks or months and why?

The first that comes to mind is Carmax. They brand themselves on being easy to buy from and don’t include the typical hassles of car negotiating. I recently purchased a vehicle from them and right from the start they were great. No pressure, no hassle, and everyone who works there seems to be genuinely happy to be there.

Have you read “Brand Against the Machine”?  What do you think of John’s additional thoughts in the Q&A above?  Let me know in the comments section below.  In case you aren’t already, you can follow John on Twitter or visit his web site and be on the lookout for his next book release!

If you want to read our other book reviews, click here.  If you haven’t read John’s book yet, go ahead and order that now.

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 3-30-14

A mobile #SundayMusings w/ Shore Branding! (Photo credit:

A mobile #SundayMusings w/ Shore Branding!
(Photo credit:

Happy Sunday and Happy Spring … at least according to the calendar.  This week’s #SundayMusings will focus on mobile and mobile marketing, so here are the top stories that caught my attention over the past two weeks under this umbrella.  Enjoy!

#1 – Foursquare CEO: How We’ll Tell You Where To Eat And What To Order – via 

Premise: Aside from telling our friends and family where you are via mobile check-ins, we are providing a dearth of data and information that foursquare is leveraging to help create recommendations for you in the future based on your interests and behaviors.  The author sat down with foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley to talk about what the future is or might be for his company.

The interview itself talks about the past and present numbers for foursquare and where it is seeing growth around the globe, including how to monetize the platform based on the success it has seen in the US.  It then pivots towards “anticipatory computing”, i.e. where your mobile device knows your location and is able to make recommendations for you.

Thoughts: If this is your first, or one of your first visits to the site, I’ll just preface my thoughts with the following: I’m a big fan of foursquare and the personalization I can get from the network.  I thought the interview was fantastic and at the end was an “aha” moment.  When Crowley says that if three people go to Google Maps and search for dinner, the same places will come up.  However, if those three people search foursquare, they are going to get recommendations based to their interests.  That’s the point and that’s the Holy Grail right there – you get what you want.

(If you are considering using the foursquare platform for your business, take a look at the “Tips” article we put together several months back.)

#2 – “7 Unbelievable Mobile Marketing Success Stories” – via    

Premise: Is your company considering a mobile campaign?  This write-up provides you with seven brands/companies that have successfully implemented a mobile marketing campaign, including; Ikea, Chipotle, Starbucks, and more.

Thoughts: I wish I knew about the Ikea app before we started home improvements two weeks ago!  Creating a virtual 3D image of how an item would look in your home sounds like an amazing feature.  Chipotle used a mobile game (Chipotle Scarecrow) to draw in millions and build awareness of their “Food with Integrity” initiative.

Another brand and unique way of driving engagement with customers is creating exclusivity in a mobile app, like Target has done with their “Cartwheel app”, providing users with unique deals.  Starbucks is mentioned in just about every success story article published.  (Therefore, it is time to put the “Brand in Focus” in the coming weeks.)

Which one of these mobile marketing campaigns catches your attention the most?

#3 – “How Mobile Marketing Can Benefit Your Business” via  

Premise: Are you taking advantage of mobile marketing for your brand or business?  The author puts together several ways in which you can use mobile to build your business – SMS, GPS-based, Search, and/or Apps.  These efforts provide you with greater access to who your customers are and helps build stronger loyalty to your brand.

Thoughts: I wanted to use this write-up in today’s #SundayMusings because it is a simple reminder that mobile marketing comes in more than one shape or size.  There are a number of different avenues you can take.  You should be picking the one(s) that you are most comfortable with and committing to them.

#4 – “A Step-By-Step Guide to Setting Up a Mobile Marketing Campaign” via 

Premise: It is critical to put together a plan for your mobile marketing campaign and Convince and Convert has laid out the boundaries for you with this write-up.  From defining your objectives, through data/reporting, and follow-up, the article takes you through a checklist of items to consider when planning your mobile campaign.

Thoughts: Building off of #3 above, this article would be a nice ‘next step’ for you to consider when thinking about your mobile campaign.  Define your goals first.  Once executed, be willing and open to tweaking the plans based on learnings and findings while the campaign is being executed.  At the very end of the write-up you’ll find a well-placed campaign from Naked Juice on foursquare as an example.

#5 – “McDonald’s bets on rich media to build Facebook following” via  

Premise: In an effort to increase their presence on Facebook, McDonald’s is turning to mobile advertising on the platform.  Given the changes on Facebook’s newsfeed, the organic reach of posts are typically declining for brands and businesses and efforts similar to this can be used to subsidize those losses.  The McDonald’s campaign has users select their favorite image and takes them to the McDonald’s Facebook page.

This isn’t the first time McDonald’s has leveraged social media for its promotions, having used Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter in the past.  The goal continues to be to drive engagement with its fans and customers.

Thoughts: Few brands out there have the resources that McDonald’s does, but I find it interesting to see them quickly making adjustments based on the changes Facebook continues to implement on its platform.  McDonald’s is bringing in more and more mobile marketing strategies in order to stay connected with their audience.

#6 – “Google unveils Android Wear, its modified OS for wearables” via  

Premise: About two weeks ago Google announced that they will be pushing out their Android Wear line, starting with smartwatches.  The wearables will have a new OS that will leverage Google Now voice recognition (similar to Google Glass).  Google will be partnering with HTC, LG, Samsung, Asus, and Motorola to roll out their smartwatches.

Thoughts: Let’s pivot away from mobile marketing for a second.  Are you using a smartwatch yet?  I have seen very few people with them, but as the author of this article points out, with Google jumping into the market, it does provide a little more stability to the market … at least for me anyway.

Maybe the YouTube clip will help start to pique your interest:

#7 – “Mobile Media Summit LA Puts “Cars and Stars” Center Stage” via  

Premise: The largest mobile advertising conference in North America and Europe hits Beverly Hills, California this coming week.  With the continued shift in focus towards mobile, advertisers have followed suit.  The write-up provides a list of presenters and a registration code for saving a few dollars for those interested.

Thoughts: Given that this is coming up this week, I wanted to put this out there for those that might be interested.  Even if you can’t attend in person, if the prior articles have sparked an interest, you can follow Mobile Media Summit on Twitter to catch the latest news from the event.

Tweet of the Week:


Not to be outdone by McDonald’s, here is news on Wendy’s mobile platform from engadget.  However, if you take a look at their story, you’ll quickly learn that Wendy’s has left out discount and promotional efforts from their app, unlike Burger King.

Are you using your mobile phone for payments in store?  If so, how is the experience?  What do you see as the greatest benefit to doing so?

That’s it for this week’s #SundayMusings!  Have a great week ahead!

Pin of the Month – Restaurant Mobile Apps


Infographic credit to

Infographic credit to


Our March 2014 ‘Pin of the Month’ includes a bit of information on the key talking point this month on – loyalty.  The infographic itself was found on’s blog and was immediately selected based on the first of five tips it provided to restaurants who are considering a mobile app.

The infographic contains a wealth of information on the success of a number of restaurant chains and their respective mobile platforms.  The five recommendations for building a stronger mobile app include: Loyalty, Payment, Marketing, Ordering, and Entertainment.  As you can see above, each recommendation comes with a handful of successful case studies / brands that have done their part to engage their customer base.

Is it surprising at all to see Starbucks in the lead mention spot under two of the mobile tips?  The coffee maker has led the charge in changing consumer behaviorisms and their mobile efforts are just one of the more recent examples.  I find it amazing that from 2012 to 2013, they increased their mobile loyalty program by 86%.

A second eye opener from the infographic is the percentage of mobile ordering that is being done at Papa John’s (45%) and Domino’s Pizza (40%).  Has Pizza Hut missed the ball on this one relative to its national competitors?  I’d say so.

What I really enjoyed about this month’s ‘Pin of the Month’ is that it didn’t focus solely on national, big name brands.  Sure, you have probably heard of the vast majority of these examples, but there are several, local based brands that have turned their mobile platform into a success story.  Those successes came through various mobile plans as well; with Earl of Sandwich and Marble Slab Creamery leveraging their loyalty programs, while a Papa Murphy’s franchise in Nevada rolled out a SMS campaign to get people in their door.

Finally, as you can see on the last tip, your brand doesn’t have to always be direct selling to the customer.  You can build engagement by entertaining your audience through games or witty characters on your mobile app.  We don’t have a Bojangles near us, but I had to take a look at their app after seeing this infographic!

What brand/restaurant has caught your own attention through their mobile efforts?  Let us know in the comments below and we’ll take a look at their app!

For those unfamiliar with our Pin of the Month, each month we’ll be posting one of the better infographics, pictures, etc. from our Pinterest page and (over-) analyzing it in a blog write-up.  For those that may have missed our other loyalty-related write-ups this month, here is the Sunday Musings that introduced the topic at the beginning of the month and here is our first “Loyalty to Brands” write-up.  If you are interested in guest blogging about a brand or company that you find yourself loyal to, please let me know!

St. Patrick’s Day Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 3-16-14


Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding - St. Patrick's Day Edition (Photo credit:

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – St. Patrick’s Day Edition
(Photo credit:


Top o’ the mornin’ to ya!  Happy almost St. Patrick’s Day!  This weekend’s #SundayMusings w/ Shore Branding will focus on headlines that tie into the holiday.  Hope you enjoy!

#1 – How Irish Brands Celebrated St. Patrick’s Day – via 

Premise: This write-up is actually a summary of several St. Patrick’s Day promotions that were run for the holiday last year.  Baileys ran a contest for fans to send in their “Kiss me, I’m Irish” portraits for a chance to win a Baileys t-shirt.  Jameson and Guinness looked to celebrate with their fans, with Guinness breaking a world record for the “Largest St. Patrick’s Day celebration due to the power of social media.

Thoughts: Before we move forward, we decided to take a look back at several of last year’s holiday campaigns.  What caught my attention on this write-up is the analytics tools were using to measure reach and engagement levels for the brands.  Take a look at the fun-facts under the Guinness write-up.  That’s quite a lot of Guinness being consumed! (For those unaware, our first ‘Pin of the Month’ was done one year ago and focused on Guinness!)

#2 – “Aerva To Post Selfies On St. Patrick’s Day” – via    

Premise: Aerva, an ad tech company, will take submitted selfies and post them in Times Square as part of their “Show us your Irish-ness” campaign.  You can send in your picture on Twitter or via email.  Once shared in Times Square, each person will receive a commemorative of the selfie in Times Square.

Thoughts: Certainly an interesting idea to generate a little buzz for Aerva.  However, as noted at the end of the article, it looks like brands have been hesitant to jump onboard.  The commemorative element does make it seem worthwhile if you are OK with your face being planted in Times Square.

Is anyone considering doing this?

#3 – “5 Credit Unions with St. Patrick’s Day Promos” via  

Premise: Even credit unions are getting into the St. Patrick’s Day spirit?!  In Tampa, Grow Financial Credit Union is partnering with the city and sponsoring the annual “Mayor’s River O’Green” celebration.  They will have a tent, photo booth, and giveaways at the community event to help build awareness.  Other credit unions from around the country have found ways to promote their business, but also give back to their respective communities with holiday tie-ins.

Thoughts: This certainly wasn’t the first (or tenth) industry I would have thought of for partaking in the holiday celebrations.  I don’t use credit unions but those that do seem to sing their praises relative to community banks.

While somewhat of a limited audience (3K or so) I like what Grow Financial Credit Union is doing, even creating their own hashtag for the event (#moreinreturn).  I also liked what SunWest Federal Credit Union did in selling paper shamrocks as a fundraiser for muscular dystrophy.

#4 – “More Important to Success: Hard Work or Luck?” via Dave Kerpen on LinkedIn (CEO of Likeable Media)  

Premise: LinkedIn Influencer and CEO of Likeable Media, Dave Kerpen put together a write-up on the network asking whether it was better to be lucky or good in business.  Kerpen takes us through how the name ‘Likeable’ came along.  Sharing your story of “luck” in the comments section on the page makes you eligible for a copy of one of the Likeable books, while the company is also running a separate promotion on their web site for the holiday.

Thoughts: I always enjoy what Likeable puts out there on a consistent basis and they do more than their fair share of promotions and giveaways to its audience.

What would you consider your lucky break?

There are two that stand out for me.  First, as I was getting closer to graduating from college I still had no clue what I was looking to do in “the real world”.  I ran into an old friend who put me in touch with the right people and key dates for what turned out to be my first job … basically starting on my own terms (when I wanted to start working, etc.).  The second is being reached out to by the owner of a sports writing web site almost two years ago.  That really became the genesis of starting to blogging and gaining an audience.

#5 – “50 Years Later, General Mills’ Lucky Charms are Still Magically Delicious” via  

Premise: Tomorrow, St. Patrick’s Day, Lucky Charms will officially celebrate its 50th anniversary.  While they have added a few ingredients over time, the leprechaun and their “magically delicious” tagline have remained the same and have stood the test of time.

As you might expect, there will be a few branding efforts to help celebrate the 50 years, including a new commercial, celebrity endorsement from Carlo’s Bakery, a contest on the brand’s Tumblr page and more.

Thoughts: You more or less have to like Lucky Charms’ advertising, or at least not admit to not liking it around St. Patrick’s Day, right?!  It looks like General Mills is going all out for the 50th anniversary of the cereal, integrating TV, new packaging, and social media contests for its fans.

Tweet of the Week:

Looking for a few recommendations for St. Patrick’s Day?  Well, this tweet and link will help get you started.  Do you and/or your family make a special meal for the holiday?  How do you celebrate the day?  Let us know in the comments below.

Hope you enjoyed this week’s festive headlines!  If you are out and about celebrating the holiday, remember that you can “replenish” your system with a half price cheeseburger at Sonic tomorrow!

Loyalty to Brands – Google


My loyalty to Google products continues ... (Photo credit:

My loyalty to Google products continues …
(Photo credit:

Welcome to a new series here on called “Loyalty to Brands”.  As referenced in last week’s #SundayMusings, from time to time, we’ll be putting together a summary on the brands we are loyal to and why.  However, I would also like to open this up for guest writing opportunities as well – similar to what we did for our “Tips” series.  If you are loyal to a particular brand and interested in guest blogging, please let me know here in the Comments section below or through the Contact page.

Our first brand in focus may not be too surprising if you have been following the blog for the past year.  My strongest loyalty probably lies with Google.  Since converting over to Gmail as my preferred email system a handful or so years ago, it has been a growing affiliation with the brand.  My loyalty grew fivefold when I purchased the first Droid phone on Verizon.  I’ve since upgraded my phone several times and have been using the Galaxy Nexus for a couple of years.

When Google launches new products or services, I want in … immediately.  When they launched Google+, I scoured the internet looking for an invitation.  Once getting onto the platform, I knew my loyalty was going further north.  While we covered off on Tips for Google+, I wanted to provide a few benefits of the platform and why I love it:

  • Communities are a fantastic source of knowledge and information – whether you are looking for tips and tutorials, reading material, or just enjoying a conversation on like-minded people and subjects, there isn’t a better community/groups platform out there vs. G+.
  • Photos – The integration between your Android devices and G+ / Picasa is a powerful tool.  I never have to worry about losing photos or running out of storage because all photos taken are backed up on G+.  I also find photo editing to be extremely easy on G+.
  • We’ve used Hangouts in the past to talk to long distance friends and family and are extremely easy to set up and we never seem to have a problem with the service.

The fun doesn’t stop there either.  Google Drive has become an important platform for me as well – storing write-ups and documents for easy access when and where I want or need it.  Google Maps is light years ahead of any other mapping or navigation system out there.  YouTube watching/viewing continues to become more prevalent in my household – I’m really interested in seeing whether or not Larry Page and company can find a way to convince the NFL to put their product on YouTube (live).  Finally, the Chrome browser and Google Apps for Business simply make my life that much easier.  On the latter, I know I don’t use them as much as I could, but even the basics of Google Analytics and AdWords are easily accessible and easy to use.

As mentioned earlier, when new Google devices launch, it doesn’t take long to convince myself that I “need it”.  The original Nexus 7 remains my preferred tablet.  I will likely upgrade to a new version of the Nexus tablet eventually, but I need a little bit more in terms of upgrades before doing so.  When Google launched Chromecast, I couldn’t have purchased it any quicker.  While I have the original Roku connected to the same TV, the Chromecast is much more frequently leveraged for Netflix, Hulu, etc.  I would like to see more apps connected to the device in the near future, most specifically the major professional sports here in the US and the new WWE network.

If there is one preeminent Google product or service that I have yet to take full advantage of, it is definitely Google Wallet.  A large part of this is simply because of the lack of acceptance the platform has when checking out at retailers in the area.  I’ve connected to a few retailers and services, but have not really leveraged the app much at all.  If you are using Google Wallet, what do you think of it?

A second area that I’ve yet to get my hands on is Google Glass.  I’m interested in seeing how “wearable tech” nets out and whether Glass grows, the “smart watch” becomes the “it” thing, or if there is something still in the pipeline that wins in this arena.  If you are using Glass, what are you thoughts?

So there you have it, a strong loyalty to Google and the vast majority of its umbrella of products and services.  I don’t think I go a day without leveraging at least three Google products or services and I have no intention of switching to another provider.  In other words, Google = My Loyalty.

Again, if you have a brand or service that you consider yourself loyal to and are interested in guest blogging on this site, please do reach out and let me know.  Thanks!

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 3-2-14


Branding and Digital Marketing

Branding and Digital Marketing


Welcome back to a new #SundayMusings w/ Shore Branding!  As mentioned in our last write-up, our #SundayMusings will continue on a bi-weekly basis and each one will focus on a key topic of interest.  This edition will focus on the various aspects of loyalty – from setting up a loyalty program, to specific rewards programs, and several other unique angles or pillars that all fall under the loyalty umbrella.

#1 – Sochi Olympics Shows Us the Future of Marketing … and It’s Very Cool – via 

Premise: The Olympics coverage has leveraged a new way to understand and interact our customers through video data.  Those that are already integrating video data with the information they are receiving from their loyalty programs are creating powerful tools and information to analyze.  This of course assumes that those marketers have the right loyalty program in place, collecting the right information to improve their respective businesses.

Thoughts: To be honest, when I first decided to move to a bi-weekly format, I thought for sure we would be covering the Olympics through a branding lens in this week’s edition.  However, I spent all of about 10 minutes watching this year’s Olympics and didn’t find it to be of much interest.

This felt like a good starting point of talking about loyalty programs based on the caveats the writer mentioned.  Anyone can initiate a loyalty program.  It is what type of information you collect and how you use that can really separate you from your competition.  Set your goals, think about what you want to achieve and how you are going to get there, and be open-minded enough to consider what changes may need to be made as the program progresses … without annoying your customer. 

#2 – “Five Reasons Why You Should Create a Customer-Loyalty Program” – via    

Premise: This write-up looks into the “why” you want to consider setting up a loyalty program, with five key reasons: Permission, Privacy, Process, Profitability, and Purpose.  You want to build stronger loyalty with your customers.  Following these five steps will help you better manage the program.

Thoughts: The fourth “P” here (Profitability) is a tricky one and I don’t want anyone to assume that setting up a loyalty program means you will automatically become profitable.  If used correctly, it can certainly assist you down the path to profitability, but there are a number of moving parts that aren’t tackled or really suggested here.

I do however wholeheartedly agree with #5, Purpose.  You’ll need buy-in from everyone in the organization to do their part and share in the common vision of building stronger loyalty and more profitable customers.

#3 – “Jamba Juice Debuts New Jamba Insider Rewards Customer Loyalty Program” via  

Premise: Jamba Juice has initiated a new rewards program (“Jamba Insider Rewards”) for customers of the smoothie and health-conscious food maker.  Customers can sign up with their phone number and receive an immediate $3 coupon off their next purchase.  Members will earn a point for every $1 they spend, as well as receive personalized deals and discounts.

Thoughts: Have you ever had a Jamba Juice smoothie?  I seek out a kiosk when traveling through airports as I love them.  Unfortunately, there isn’t one near my house or office.  This rewards program, for me at least, is a no-brainer.  It will be interesting to see what Jamba Juice does with their data, how they tailor promotions to the individual users, and how they use technology (web and mobile) to grow the program.

#4 – “7 apps to take your customer loyalty program mobile” via  

Premise: The author offers up seven different mobile platforms to consider in order to take your loyalty program away from a card or piece of paper and into the world of mobile.  There is a blurb on the size and scope of each app, along with a few personal thoughts from the writer.

Thoughts: Anything that relies on a QR code has already lost me, so ignoring those apps that are referenced, there are definitely a few to check out on this list if you aren’t using or considering them already (from either the personal or business side).  Belly and Front Flip certainly sound intriguing for a business and we have covered off on Foursquare here in the past a number of times – the size and scope of the platform make it appealing from the get-go.

#5 – “How Do The Best Companies Deal With At-Risk Clients?” via  

Premise: Losing a client is tough, but what if you could predict that a customer was unsatisfied and adjusted the necessary means before they were lost?  The author puts together five steps to leverage in order to better satisfy your current customers/clients.  Starting with a customer satisfaction tool and progressing through internal and external reviews, as well as continuous adaptation, you will learn more about what the positives and negatives are in your customer’s POV.

Thoughts: This pivots the conversation of loyalty a little bit and puts the topic in a slightly different perspective.  Sure, this can be applied to a business – consumer relationship, but this ties more closely to a business – business relationship.  Also, just a note that the author includes a separate link for more information on each of the steps along the process in this article.

#6 – “4 Reasons Employees Are Your Best Brand Advocates” via  

Premise: Who are, or at least can be, your businesses great advocates … your current employees.  This write-up focuses on the benefits that can be achieved by leveraging your employees in order to build a stronger brand/company.

Thoughts: Again, this pivots in another direction under the loyalty umbrella – focusing on strengthening the appeal of your business amongst your own employees.  Engaged employees can lead to a stronger business, as they can help build your brand, deliver new leads, and create new business without having to spend a small fortune on marketing and advertising.

Are you doing anything to better understand how your employees feel about your business?  How engaged are they with your line of work?  Are you trying to make improvements in areas of weakness?  All of this can be better understood by measuring and understanding your employees’ thoughts and opinions of your business.

Tweet of the Week:

For those that aren’t already following them in some capacity, does a fantastic job of creating and aggregating loyalty-specific stories on a daily basis.  Their inaugural awards conference will be held in Florida from 3/17-3/19.  There are five categories with four tiers of awards within each.  Definitely keep your eyes open for more news and the winners next month!

I hope you enjoy the new set-up for our #SundayMusings with more focus on a specific topic per write-up.  Several months ago I made a note to myself to consider a new series of write-ups on that focused on ‘Brands I’m Loyal to’ and this week’s write-up has helped push that decision further along.  Look for the first entry to come next weekend!

With that in mind, what brands or businesses are you loyal to?  Let us know in the comments below!

Pin of the Month – USA Today’s Super Bowl Ad Meter


Infographic credit: USA Today

Infographic credit: USA Today

February’s ‘Pin of the Month’ takes one last look at this year’s Super Bowl advertising.  While many were busy watching the Seahawks bury the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, a number of others were waiting for the commercial breaks to rate the ads.

This month’s infographic is from USA Today, and Keyhole and summarizes the results from the USA Today Ad Meter, an annual look at the best Super Bowl ads since 1989.  The past two years have brought in the public’s opinions into the polling and you see the results above.

It is no surprise to see Budweiser’s “Puppy Love” ad at the top of the list – it has been on just about any write-up you will find out there – excluding our review which had the ad “plummet” all the way down to second best of the evening.

In fact, the only ad in the top five of USA Today’s Ad Meter results that didn’t make it into our review was Doritos’ “Cowboy Kid”.  I found their “Time Machine” ad to be a little bit more enjoyable and it definitely had stronger branding elements.

Here are a few thoughts on the rest of the infographic, as it breaks down the results further – this year’s Ad Meter continued down the path of breaking down the data further and making it more ‘rich’:

  • While you might call in to question if this is a true ROI, the infographic puts a nice spin on how successful several companies were based on their ad spend for the event.
  • We get to see the geographic breakdown of the 6,000+      voters – not too surprising how this map looks.
  • Taking a look at how many votes were placed over time and given the outcome of the game, it isn’t surprising to see that more votes were taking place as the game progressed.
  • For the first time in its history, the Ad Meter was broken out by various demographics and you’ll see that there is a near-even split on gender.
  • Opening up the Ad Meter to the public has created a new platform for exposure for USA Today and the use of the “#AdMeter” hashtag was certainly worthwhile, creating over 78 million impressions on Super Bowl Sunday.  (Wow!)

Are there any surprises in the data from your point of view?  The highest rated ads tend to align with many of the thoughts seen across various write-ups found online.

For those unfamiliar with our Pin of the Month, each month we’ll be posting one of the better infographics, pictures, etc. from our Pinterest page and (over-) analyzing it in a blog write-up.  Hope you enjoyed this month’s Pin!

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 2-16-14


Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding - The Valentine's Day Edition! (Photo credit:

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – The Valentine’s Day Edition!
(Photo credit:

Continuing our holiday spirit, this week’s #SundayMusings w/ Shore Branding has a Valentine’s Day twist to the top news in branding and digital marketing from the past week!

At the same time, I want to make a quick announcement and decision on the frequency of our #SundayMusings write-ups.  We’ll be moving to an every other week frequency moving forward due to several contributing factors.  What I would like to do is focus on a particular topic or storyline in each write-up.  This gives more time to come up with better stories that tie together under said umbrella.

#1 – How’s Your Brand’s Love Life – via 

Premise: After reading “Romancing the Brand”, the author of the article was able to ask a few questions to the author of the book about how brands can build deeper, more meaningful relationships with brands.

Thoughts: Beyond being a Valentine’s Day-related write-up, this article caught my attention for two reasons.  First, it looks like there is another branding book to put in the queue.  Second, the Radio Shack Super Bowl ad was used as an example of brand authenticity in its communication to consumers. 

#2 – “Physical Brands Send Some Digital Love This Valentine’s Day on Social” – via    

Premise: Valentine’s Day branding on social media was in full swing this week and the author put together three great examples of brands using different platforms to build engagement.  Evian, Necco (the maker of the heart-shaped candy), and TGI Friday’s were put in the spotlight with their campaigns.

Thoughts: While I enjoyed Evian’s efforts, Necco’s “#tweethearts” campaign is great.  Even a company that is over 150 years old can figure out how to leverage digital marketing and engage with (potential) consumers.

Nice job from TGI Friday’s as well, rewarding the first 500 people to tweet their message with a gift certificate to the restaurant.  Contests are still an effective means of winning the hearts (pun intended) of consumers.

#3 – “10 Valentine’s Day Tech Gifts to Warm Hearts With Cold Silicon” via 

Premise: Sick of the same old flowers and candy gift ideas for Valentine’s Day?  Well, here you go; gift ideas for her and him!

Thoughts: I’m incredibly impressed with BloomThat Flowers – order from your mobile and the flowers are delivered within 90 minutes (in San Francisco)?  Wow!  The QR code necklace was a bit too far, no?  I can imagine trying to scan the code and running into all sorts of annoyances.

For men, it was interesting to see Dollar Shave Club as a tech-related gift, no?  I can’t stress enough how handy my touchscreen gloves are this winter.  Everyone should own a pair, no matter what brand you want to put money out for.  I can’t say I have convinced myself into the smart-watch market yet, but Pebble Steel makes an interesting case by running both iOS and Android systems.  The fact that it is waterproof is an added bonus.

What tech gifts might you be looking for this weekend?

#4 – “TechCrunch Giveaway: A Bouquet of Flowers” via  

Premise: TechCrunch ran a promotion this week that gave five lucky readers free flowers from a company called BloomNation.  All readers had to do was drop a comment in the story above and they picked five lucky winners.

Thoughts: More than anything, I thought this was a good example of “brandscaping”.  First, from the TechCrunch perspective, you invite a company to sponsor a promotion on your page.  You then ask readers to pick up the engagement level a little bit and add a comment to the write-up in order for a chance to win a prize/gift.

From the BloomNation side of this; would I have ever known about this company if they weren’t running this promotion on TechCrunch?  No.  Running a promotion that fits with your core values as a business with a site that receives heavy traffic … brandscaping 101.

#5 – “Ad of the Day: Heineken Wants Guys to Show Their Feelings This Valentine’s Day” via  

Premise: Forgot about Valentine’s Day this past Friday?  Did you happen to see the latest campaign from Heineken as a potential saving grace?  Heineken asked followers to tweet “#DateInABox” to their US account and those that shared the experience on their Instagram account unlocked the code for the “free” date night.

Thoughts: In the shadows of their “Departure Roulette” campaign, Heineken comes up with another “fun” campaign for the risk-takers out there.  It surprised me a little bit to ask followers to jump from Twitter to Instagram – given the Twitter/Vine and Facebook/Instagram obvious connections.

Do you know anyone that gave this a shot?  See the video below …

Tweet of the Week:

Yet another use of the hashtag for the holiday, this time from The Cheesecake Factory, who decided to go all Phil Donahue on us with advice/verdicts to those that sent out tweets with the “#sliceofjustice” hashtag.

That wraps up today’s Valentine’s Day edition of #SundayMusings!  Look for a new ‘Pin of the Month’ later this week and based on our new writing schedule, a new #SundayMusings in two weeks.

What caught your attention this week?