Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 1-18-15

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding focusing on LinkedIn (Photo credit: PowerFormula.net)

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding focusing on #CES2015 (Photo credit: PowerFormula.net)

This week’s #SundayMusings takes a look at the top news and stories from last week’s #CES2015 event in Las Vegas.  Here are a couple stories that I found to be of particular interest and then we’ve changed things up this week a bit.  Below that are a number of summary articles from around the web and what their respective highlights were from CES this year.

Did you make it to #CES2015?  What did you think?

#1 – “The Five Most Disruptions Innovations at CES 2015” – via Forbes.com

Premise: At each CES show Forbes puts together their “Big Bang Disruptors” that help move an existing market/product to new heights.  From self-driving cars to the continued evolution of health and fitness and into “augmented reality”, a number of companies moved the needle into areas that aren’t that far off into the future anymore.

Thoughts: CES help brought self-driving cars another step closer to reality.  Virtual reality gaming is essentially here.  What did you think was the most amazing or jaw-dropping innovation at CES?

What caught my eye in this article wasn’t even on Forbes’ list.  It was early in the article when they described Google Nest’s ecosystem and partner companies that are helping bring everyday chores, activities, etc. to the 21st century.  Nest will work with lightbulbs, washer and dryers, and more in an effort to make your life that much easier.

#2 – “Sharp unveils new Android TV-based SmartCentral 4.0 smart TV’s” via androidcentral.com

Premise: Sharp announced a number of updates to their TV lineup at #CES2015.  This included a 4K UHD TV, with several models adding Android TV features.  The company also announced 70, 85, and 120 inch TV’s.

Thoughts: We’ll talk more about this in the next article as well, but we’re in the market for a new TV for our living room.  I/We need a few more HDMI plugs in our next TV.  If you replaced “Sharp” with “Samsung”, there is no doubt in my mind that this would be the next TV in our living room at some point in 2015.  Unfortunately, Samsung is not aligning with Android TV, which is quite a bit surprising … and disappointing.

#3 – “Samsung’s 105-inch Bendable TV is the World’s Largest” via popularmechanics.com

Premise: Looking for the latest and greatest 4K TV?  Enter Samsung’s UN105S9B model, which is a 105 inch screen that is bendable.  The price tag?  A “modest” $260K.

Thoughts: Many times there are articles I wish I didn’t see or read.  This is one of them.  There is absolutely no reason to have a bendable TV in my house.  None.  But reading this article gave me TV-envy.  Will we be purchasing a bendable TV?  I’m pretty sure the answer is no.  Will it be half the size of this one if we do?  Yes.

TV’s made quite the impression at #CES2015.  Which company made the most noise in the category?

#4 – Summary articles from #CES2015 that are worth your time:

  1. The Guardian
  2. The Next Web
  3. eBay
  4. engadget
  5. Mashable
  6. Digital Trends

Tweet of the Week:

First, an amazing number of attempts at finding the right wearable at #CES2015.  If you take a look at the article, the author nails it on the head.  There is a lot to like about wearables, and in particular smartwatches.  However, no one has really perfected usability, style, and more.  We will all see what Apple does in this market and how competition reacts.

Finally, for those considering attending CES for the first time in 2016, here are a few tips from Mashable worth considering:

Have a great week!  Our next #SundayMusings in two weeks will focus on the Super Bowl!

 

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 1/4/15

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding - Happy New Year / 2015! (Credit: wallpaperput.com)

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – Happy New Year / 2015!
(Credit: wallpaperput.com)

 

Happy new year everyone and welcome to the first #SundayMusings of 2015!  I hope everyone had a great, safe holiday season and that you are ready to make 2015 bigger and better!  Why not start with the top stories that caught my eye in branding and digital marketing as they relate to entering the new year?  Done and done …

#1 – “The Top 7 Content Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2015” – via Forbes.com

Premise: “Content marketing” continues to grow.  The author has spent time in the past putting together predictions and outcomes of content marketing (links within the article).  Now he takes a look at how content marketing will shift/progress into the new year.

Thoughts: A few of the highlighted trends caught my eye, specifically #2 – “Content marketing will become inextricably linked with social media marketing” and #5 – “The reputation of guest blogging as a content marketing strategy will be repaired”.

It is hard to argue with #2, as this trend continues to grow seemingly month to month.  However, #5 is an item that is important here on ShoreBranding.com.  We have openly embraced guest posts in the past, but willingness to do so weakened in the second half of 2014.  Again, if you are interested in being a guest writer here on the site, please just let me know via our Contact page (or reach out via email / social media).

#2 – “Hey, TV Guys! Facebook’s NFL Deal Means Facebook Is Getting Serious About Video” via recode.net

Premise: Facebook has signed a deal with the NFL to put clips in its ads.  The deal suggests that Facebook is going in the right direction when it comes to online video and how it continues to grow.  For example, your profile and/or posts tell Facebook that you are a fan of a particular team.  With this deal, Facebook will be able to target you with relevant ads or clips of said team.

Thoughts: The NFL continues to surge ahead of the other US sports leagues when it comes to transitioning to online platforms.  Working with Facebook (and Twitter) is now commonplace for the NFL.

Note that there are similar discussions between Facebook and the NBA in order to get a deal in place.  It feels like my Facebook feed is in for an overhaul in the coming months.

#3 – “2015 Social Media Predictions: 10 Forecasts You Need” via HeidiCohen.com

Premise: Aside from the 10 tips/forecasts, the article links to several other “Tips”-related articles when thinking about putting together or revitalizing your social media efforts.  The write-up predicts what is next for the big players in the social space – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and more.

Thoughts: A few items caught my attention quickly.  First, similar to the article above, it seems like a foregone conclusion that Facebook is going to be deeply cutting into YouTube’s online video space.  Second, it is said to see what Heidi predicts for Twitter … as the company continues to focus on revenue and meeting Wall Street’s demands, it will start to lose steam and interest with users.  I’m not sure I see that happening … yet.  However, I do agree that Vine’s popularity has become much more niche than mainstream.  The final item that I wanted to point out is the reference to the importance of Google+ to businesses.

#4 – “The 7 Top Social Media Trends That Will Impact Your Marketing In 2015” via JeffBullas.com

Premise: Jeff Bullas provides his own take on what 2015 will look like in social media.  These focus items include continued growth in mobile, vlogging, and social wallets.  With each, Bullas provides context as to why and/or how each will continue to rise as we enter 2015.

Thoughts: We have spent a good amount of time talking about the continued rise of mobile, so this shouldn’t be a surprise.  The first statistic in Bullas’ “Paid amplification” trend is mind-numbing – the organic reach on Facebook is terribly low.  That is reason enough to reconsider your Facebook strategy and effort.

“Social shopping” and “Social wallets” have started to rise in 2014 and brands / retailers are beginning to see the power of social sharing for consumers.  Social wallets and cards have started to pop up.

Are you using a social card yet?  I literally just signed up for one last week and am waiting for it to arrive.  If so, what do you think?

#5 – “What Does your 2015 Twitter Strategy Look Like?” via MediaBistro.com

Premise: The change of the calendar year affords you the opportunity to evaluate and establish your social media strategy, with the focus of this article on Twitter.  This strategy should include goal setting, execution, and measurement.  From there you will want to reevaluate your plan to see what is and is not working and go from there.

Thoughts: For the first time, I spent a little money in 2014 to help build our SaveThanksgiving.net following on Twitter.  We gained ~100 followers from those efforts and it is likely something that I’ll re-establish in the latter stages of 2015.

Do you have a strategy that is specific for each social media site that you are on?  How did you perform in 2014 relative to your goals?

Tweet of the Week:

Hopefully, you take #5 above to heart and don’t fall into the trap of our ‘Tweet of the Week’.  The good ole marketing / Twitter fails of 2014.  I can’t even pick one of these five as the worst … they are all … just … painful.  Do yourself a favor and make sure you don’t land on this list in 2015.  Please.

Again, happy new year to all of our readers and subscribers!  I hope you make 2015 great!

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 12-21-14

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding - Happy Holidays! (Photo credit: RealClubResorts.com)

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – Happy Holidays!
(Photo credit: RealClubResorts.com)

Welcome to the last #SundayMusings of 2014!  The holiday season is in full swing and so are a number of brands with their marketing and advertising efforts.  The following stories caught my attention over the past couple of weeks regarding advertising and branding Christmas.  Enjoy!

#1 – “Brands get super creative on social media for #Christmas” – via Branded3.com

Premise: Brands continue to step it up a notch with holiday / Christmas branding efforts across social media networks.  The author picks four brands that have stood out this holiday season with their respective campaigns.

Thoughts: I love the Vine from Asda in this article!  That is essentially my Christmas wish to be able to decorate the tree that quickly.  Congratulations to UPS for winning the internet for one day with their “UPS Wishes” campaign and the video included in this article.  You can send in your wish to UPS here.

#2 – “Clients Rejoice!  This Elf on a Shelf Will Judge the Crap Out of Your Ad Agency” via AdWeek.com

Premise: Agency Plan B has rolled out their own Elf on a Shelf videos for the holidays, passing along judgment in and around the office for all to enjoy.

Thoughts: I have no idea how this isn’t showing up on my Facebook wall time and time again as this is absolutely brilliant!  Plan B has hit a home run with these videos.  I love the conference call short embedded in the article itself.  How much better would your office be with this Elf on the Shelf roaming the halls (and offices … and bathrooms)?

#3 – “Booze News: Do Holiday ‘Drink Responsibly’ Campaigns Work?” via brandchannel.com

Premise: It isn’t a secret that people consume an abundance of alcohol around the holidays.  You are also more likely to be aware of ‘drink responsibly’ ads from beer, liquor and wine companies.  But does that message resonate at all with consumers?  A study conducted says “no”.  While most have a generic ‘drink responsibly’ message to it, virtually no one provides specifics on what you are doing and/or why.

Thoughts: Truth be told, the ‘drink responsibly’ ads have always been generic and you probably spend little to no time thinking about it or what it actually means.  However, it felt pretty surprising that not a single ad had some type of more specific call to action, particularly around the holidays.

What do you think?  Do alcohol companies need to be more specific in their ‘drink responsibility’ efforts and marketing?

#4 – “Ad of the Day: Apple Goes Back 60 Years to Find Its Lovely Holiday Ad for 2014” via AdWeek.com

Premise: Apple has rolled out its 2014 holiday and it is a doozie.  Actually, here it is …

Thoughts: We don’t spend much time talking about Apple on this site, largely because I don’t use their products whatsoever anymore.  However, after seeing this ad a second and third time, I thought it was awesome.  My first reaction was that it was branded very well … but occasionally, that’s perfectly OK.  Frankly, Apple’s ads have become a little too cookie cutter for me – when comparing across their ads.  This breaks the mold quite a bit and is really enjoyable.

Tweet of the Week:

A second article that actually shows off several more companies with winning branding efforts this Christmas!  As you will see, various hashtags are more than prevalent across social media.

What other brands have caught your attention this year with their TV ads or social media efforts?  Let me know in the comments below!

I hope everyone has a great, safe holiday season!  Come back for more #SundayMusings the first Sunday of 2015 (1/4/15)!

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 12-7-14

Branding and Digital Marketing

Branding and Digital Marketing

Welcome to the latest edition of #SundayMusings!  This week we are going back to Black Friday to take a look at some of the brands that made news for “that day” after Thanksgiving.  Here are the stories that caught my attention:

#1 – “Thanksgiving Sets Historic Milestone as Mobile Drives More Than Half of All Shopping Traffic, Reports IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark” – via IBM.com

Premise: IBM’s Digital Analytics Benchmark found that more shopping was done via mobile on Thanksgiving and Black Friday than in any year past.  In addition, mobile outpaced PC’s for the first time and hit 52.1% of all online traffic.  On Saturday, IBM released a number of interesting statistics and breakdowns in the article.

Thoughts: A few tidbits from the final results caught my attention:

  1. While phones drove traffic, tablets drove sales – more people were purchasing on a tablet device this year.
  2. Thanksgiving sales continue to be more prevalent and are eating into Black Friday sales.  If you have been reading our articles over the past month or so, you know how I feel about this.  (Stay home on Thanksgiving also means talking to your friends and family, not staring at the computer.  SaveThanksgiving.net)
  3. Apple outpaced Android across three different metrics in Black Friday sales.  Here is a second article from Fortune focusing a little bit more on these numbers.

#2 – “Macy’s Black Friday Marketing Now Includes Facebook Video Ads” via AdWeek.com

Premise: On Thanksgiving evening, Macy’s started running video ads on Facebook to add to its marketing mix over the holiday.  This is an added effort to keep the retailer in mind after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade ended (live and the replay).

Thoughts: Macy’s has one of the strongest branded events across the calendar year with its Thanksgiving Parade.  As Facebook users update their status and say “Happy Thanksgiving” the ad is more than likely going to be yet another reminder to do their holiday shopping at Macy’s.

What also caught my attention was the very last blurb in the article – Facebook says that over 100 million videos are uploaded to the site each month.  Astonishing numbers as online video continues to grow.

#3 – “Black Friday or Bust: Making Your Brand Stand Out” via Business2Community.com

Premise: The ‘event’ known as Black Friday has turned into a week long event.  With the continued rise of online and mobile shopping, consumers are spending more money shopping on Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and what has become Cyber Monday.  Instead of focusing on an “earlier is better” approach, the author provides several tips for brands to consider in order to stand out from the crowd, including email and content marketing planning.

Thoughts: Honestly, simply looking at pictures of people stampeding into stores is starting to make me feel sick to stomach.  It is far too common.  That said, there are a few good tips to keep in mind here and I like the overall idea of moving away from the “earlier is better” approach.  Brands (and retailers) don’t have to be open on Thanksgiving Day if they knew how to better deliver their point of difference or unique selling proposition to consumers.  “We have the best XYZ, but you are going to have to wait until 10am on Black Friday when our doors open.”  How inhumane is that?  (Note: the sarcasm is dripping off this edition of #SundayMusings)

#4 – “One-third of Black Friday Online Revenue Was Mobile” via Finance.Yahoo.com

Premise: The company Branding Brand released its MCI results for Black Friday and reported significant increases in mobile shopping.  There are 35 retailers included in the numbers and the number of visits, purchases, and revenue are all up significantly vs. 2013.  There is an accompanying infographic that illustrates the results within the link above.

Thoughts: The results from this research and platform are another data point suggesting the continued growth of mobile devices and usage.  Updated information from the entire holiday weekend can be found on Branding Brand’s blog which also includes an update on Cyber Monday data/results.

Tweet of the Week:

What exactly is the point of Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday if the sales from either or are going to be continued throughout the entire week?  The marketing behind these days seems to have grown so much that the point of either day is completely lost.  Please refer to #3 above if you are running a brand or retailer and enjoy a day off here or there over the course of the holiday weekend.  I’m relatively positive this is only going to get worse next year.

Those are our #SundayMusings for the week.  What Black Friday / Cyber Monday stories (or viral videos) caught your attention?  Have a great week!

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 11-23-14

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding - Thanksgiving Edition (Photo Credit: GlowRockport.wordpress.com)

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – Thanksgiving Edition
(Photo Credit: GlowRockport.wordpress.com)

This week’s #SundayMusings is near and dear to our heart as we focus on the Thanksgiving holiday and Thanksgiving branding efforts made around the country.  For those that don’t already know, we have set up SaveThanksgiving.net in an effort to keep the holiday alive and with our respective friends and family; not at the mall and shopping for holiday sales.  That is what “Black Friday” and beyond is for.  Without going on any further of a tangent, here are the top stories that caught our eyes over the past couple of weeks related to Thanksgiving.

#1 – “How Your Favorite Thanksgiving Brands Got Their Names” – via mascola.com

Premise: Interested in learning how brands that are likely around your Thanksgiving table got their names?  The Mascola Group puts together a list of six brands that are commonly used for Thanksgiving meals and tells their story of how each came to be.

Thoughts: There aren’t any off the wall names or stories behind the names here among the six.  However, and it is potentially sad to admit this, I had no idea that Ore-Ida got its name being located in Oregon and next to Idaho (potatoes).  You really can learn something new every day.

#2 – “Brand of the Day: No, Costco Won’t Be Open on Thanksgiving, and Here’s Why” via AdWeek.com

Premise: Costco won’t be open on Thanksgiving Day, with a spokesperson for the retailer saying, “Our employees work especially hard during the holiday season, and we simply believe they deserve the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with their families. Nothing more complicated than that”.

Thoughts: You knew we were going to go here quickly, right?  Costco is one of a slowly decreasing number of retailers that remain closed on Thanksgiving Day and will continue to win my business because of this stance.  The creep of Black Friday into Thanksgiving Day makes my stomach turn.  You can find a list of retailers that won’t be opening their doors on Thanksgiving here or simply right here …

#SaveThanksgiving - Visit SaveThanksgiving.net for more info

#SaveThanksgiving – Visit SaveThanksgiving.net for more info

#3 – “7 Brilliant Brand Tactics for Thanksgiving + Inspiring Examples” via LeanBranding.com

Premise: A compilation of seven ideas that leverage the Thanksgiving holiday to spark conversation and conversion to brands.  From offering a holiday gift and hosting a meetup, Wix receives a lot of attention in the write-up, pulling out the stops around the holiday in past years.

Thoughts: Terrific examples are provided throughout the article and for each tip on how to leverage the holiday to build a little buzz for your brand.  My favorites – “Share some humor” and “Support a cause”.  I’m absolutely grabbing those memes that were created by IMPACT.  I also remember seeing a lot of support from Zynga two years ago around their holiday fundraising campaign but never saw the final numbers from their efforts ($13 million raised).  Impressive!

#4 – “Five Thanksgiving Inspired Brand Building Tips” via BrandMill.com

Premise: A quick and easy read on five tips that will help your brand distinguish itself this holiday season.  The underlying theme behind all of this – breaking out the word Thanksgiving into two parts, “thanks” and “giving”.  Show your customers and/or partners that you care about them and go the extra mile to win their support.

Thoughts: One additional piece that caught my here (as well as in the story above) revolves around giving back to a cause and the brands that take the time to set up some type of fundraising effort for those less fortunate.  Why? …

We’ve done exactly the same thing and set up an online food drive with Feeding America this year.  We’re calling it our #SaveThanksgiving food drive.  If you have the resources, please consider donating to help others who struggle to get by.

#5 – “Black Friday Creep and the Thanksgiving Day Grinch: 2014 Edition” via BrandChannel.com

Premise: The continuing battle of if or when retailers will open their doors on Thanksgiving Day takes another step forward in 2014.  A number of retailers, including Macy’s, have announced extended hours on Thanksgiving vs. prior years.  This has led to an outcry from employees, online petitions, and even protests.

Thoughts: Does opening your doors on Thanksgiving Day really make that much of a difference to your bottom line?  Do you really need to be open on the holiday itself?  As linked in the write-up, this piece in TIME says it could actually harm your brand.

What actually gets me the most perplexed is the example of Macy’s provided in the story.  Macy’s hosts the NYC Thanksgiving Day Parade?!  How are their leaders not in tune with what the holiday is and means to thousands around the country?  It feels counterintuitive to be the sponsor of the holiday parade and continue to open your stores earlier and earlier on the holiday.

Finally, here is one example of an online petition to fight against store hours on the holiday from Radio Shack employees, who has since trimmed their hours but will still open on Thanksgiving.  The team over at TackBackThanksgiving.org has been updating their Facebook page consistently over the past few weeks on their planned events to help #SaveThanksgiving.

Tweet of the Week:

Shameless plug?  Perhaps.  Meaningful?  Absolutely.  Our #SaveThanksgiving efforts continue to roll on Twitter and Pinterest.  Take a look through, follow, share, etc. and help #SaveThanksgiving.

For those that may be able to, we have set up an online food drive through Feeding America for donations.  You can read more about the efforts here or visit the online food drive page directly.

That wraps up this week’s holiday edition of #SundayMusings.  For those of you in the US, please enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday!  (Please do not run out at 9am to go shopping Thanksgiving morning … #SaveThanksgiving!!)

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 11-9-14

Branding and Digital Marketing

Branding and Digital Marketing

Welcome back to another edition of #SundayMusings w/ Shore Branding.  Our focus this week will be on brand loyalty and the customer experience.  This builds off of October’s “Pin of the Month” and the continuation of our “Loyalty to Brands” series.  Here are the top stories from the past few weeks that caught my attention.

#1 – “Amazon CEO Wants to Make Holidays Easier and Stress-free for Customers” – via Loyalty360.org

Premise: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has issued a promise to Amazon’s customers that the company will be focusing on the customer experience throughout the holiday season.  Beyond competitive pricing, Amazon will have 15K Lightning Deals, gift lists, updated product lineups and the ability to to make purchases and contribute a portion to your preferred charity.

Amazon announced a slew of new tech products for the holidays, including new Kindles and Fire tablets.  There is a focus on kid friendly content and products.  Amazon Prime members will continue to reap additional benefits through early access to sales and exclusive deals on MyHabit.com.

Thoughts: As mentioned in our latest “Loyalty to Brands”, Amazon has become my go-to retailer and is where I continue to increase my share of wallet for holiday shopping.  I can’t think of another store or retailer where customer support has made it easier and more customer friendly than what Bezos has done with Amazon.

#2 – “Starbucks to offer delivery in 2015 in some key markets” via Fortune.com

Premise: Starbucks plans to offer up home/desk delivery of coffee and food orders through its mobile app in 2015 in select cities.  This idea is the latest effort by the coffee maker / experience provider to improve customer loyalty.  It is the latest in an effort to increase / improve consumption with its customers.

Thoughts: The coffee chain continues to create ways to drive stronger customer experiences and loyalty.  I found the focus or call-out that this delivery service would be driven through mobile devices to be an interesting side story to the announcement, i.e. “You can have Starbucks deliver your coffee, but you will need to download our mobile app.”  The other piece that I really like about this news is that the chain continues to try to break the mold and explore new and exciting options.  Do they all pan out?  Of course not, but Starbucks’ leadership team is more than willing to explore different routes with customer loyalty always in mind.

#3 – “NFL’s Seattle Seahawks Get CX Lift with Extreme Networks Enhancements: “Can you hear the 12th Man now?”” via Loyalty360.org

Premise: Extreme Network Inc. recently announced a partnership with the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks club and Verizon Wireless to build a more powerful Wi-Fi connection at CenturyLink Field – the home of the franchise.  Beyond improving the signal strength at the stadium there is a program called “Eye of the Hawk” which allows fans to document their experience at the stadium.  Fans can choose various camera angles to watch/stream the game from various perspectives.

Thoughts: Attending a live sporting event is becoming less and less about the product on the field/court and more about the overall fan experience.  Technology is obviously playing a huge role in this shift.  With billion dollar stadiums seemingly popping up all over the country, it isn’t enough to just have a nice structure, franchises must keep the fan experience in mind through every little detail along the way.  We’re probably still in the infant stages of where this is heading, but it sure does pique my interest.

#4 – “If You Think 2014 Brought Marketing Change…” via Engage.Tibco.com

Premise: In 2014 there was a shift towards listening to and knowing your customer, but 2015 will continue to make dramatic changes to how we think about marketing.  That shift will be towards knowing what your customer will do next.  Anticipating behaviors will help you/your brand build stronger customer loyalty.  While we are moving beyond straight, single source data, it will be important for your brand to understand how to leverage big data from various sources.

Thoughts: Marketing strategies continue to be rewritten as we move further and further away from traditional marketing.  Plans that are put in place continue to be redesigned to strengthen customer engagement and loyalty.  The ability for a brand or company to learn and react to data from various sources is critical in today’s marketplace.

How many data sources are you currently relying on?  Are you weaving that story together across multiple channels?  These are critical elements to running your brand in 2014 and into 2015.

#5 – “Using Big Data To Shape Brand Experiences” via BrandingStrategyInsider.com

Premise: Depending on how brands are using it, big data can help create customized solutions and programs for customers.  Using Tesco as an example, it isn’t just about collecting data and analyzing it in a straightforward manner anymore.  You have to create actionable insights that can help you build stronger experiences for your customers.

Thoughts: Continuing down a ‘big data’ them here and how brands can or should leverage big data to drive better customer experiences.  I thought the Tesco example was a pretty powerful one as the UK retailer literally helped write the book on loyalty programs.  There is also an interesting graphic in the write-up, with several key stats/figures that would help build stronger loyalty and behaviors from shoppers.  The data source states that 85% of customers are more likely to shop in stores that offer personalized coupons and exclusive in-store offers. 

#6 – “2014 Customer Champions: Lifting Sights, Visions, and Standards” via 1to1Media.com

Premise: 1to1 Media has an annual awards for companies/people that create game-changing customer-focused strategies.  This year’s winners have been announced and include employees of The Melting Pot, JetBlue and more.  All in all, twelve people/companies were given awards for their efforts this year.  Through their own creative ways, each company has put a system in place to maximize the customer experience.

Thoughts: The full list of winners can be found here.  The one brand that caught my attention here is 1-800-Flowers as I recently signed up for their loyalty program and find it to be incredibly well run with perks that make it feel very much worth my while.

Kudos to 1to1 Media for continuing this awards program for a decade now.

Tweet of the Week:

Actually set up very much like our #SundayMusings, you can keep an eye on the top stories in customer service and experience through this tweet, bookmark the site, etc.

That wraps up this week’s #SundayMusings.  What are your thoughts on customer experience and how that helps build brand advocacy?  How have brand ambassadors helped your brand grow?  How can you better work with these people moving forward?

Let us know in the comments below.  Have a great week ahead!

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 10-26-14

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding! (Photo credit: Worth1000.com)

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding!
(Photo credit: Worth1000.com)

This week’s #SundayMusings focuses on a topic that doesn’t get as much publicity as it probably should across social media.  Building brand advocacy and brand ambassadors is an immensely powerful channel to growing your brand or company.  Their ability to promote your brand to a broader audience, while aiding your word-of-mouth advertising can go a long way towards success.  The following stories caught my attention over the past few weeks.

#1 – Find Brand Ambassadors by Monitoring Social Media – via DigitalDoughnut.com

Premise: Social Media Week was two weeks ago and coming out of that was a real good example of why you need to be monitoring social media and how to take advantage of it.  There are at least a couple of ways that you can help strengthen your relationship with brand ambassadors through social media.  The author also quotes a few numbers from one particular event during Social Media Week, saying that 22% of ‘fans’ are ambassadors and 55% of ambassadors aren’t following said brand on their social media.

Thoughts: Interesting example provided in this write-up about a company having no idea what was being said about them and missing the opportunity to engage with a potential brand ambassador.  It happens all of the time.  The three tips on how or where to celebrate ambassadors all make sense.  You simply need to pick the route that you are comfortable with and stick with it over time.

#2 – “Making the Leap From Brand Ignorance to Brand Advocacy” via smeweb.com 

Premise: It is hard enough to get people to notice your brand, but it is just as hard to turn people over to become advocates for your brand/company.  This is particularly true for new brands and market entrants.  The author puts together three steps (or jobs) for new brands/products to manufacture brand advocacy.

Thoughts: This write-up is specific to products that live on a shelf, but very interesting nonetheless.  The first two steps are standing out on shelf at the first moment of truth and driving a level of desirability with potential consumers.  That’s all well and good and heavily relies on packaging and staying up to speed on market trends.

The third step is all about building that brand advocacy through a story that people can connect with and be willing to share with their friends, family, and/or audience.  Their enthusiasm for your story and your brand can lead to endless ripples of success.

#3 – “The secret to getting me to become your brand advocate” via businessesgrow.com 

Premise: Mark Schaefer believes that influence marketing has become a nuisance and offers up several tips and ideas for how to get your brand or product mentioned on his blog.  Interested in having Mark become an ambassador for your product?  Simply put, make it worth his while, be willing to spend the appropriate amount of time and show/create the value your product offers.

Thoughts: Great thoughts and feedback from Mark Schaefer here that can be reapplied to virtually any arena, i.e. product, service, and/or brand.  The first time reading through this write-up I thought to myself that he was looking to be paid for his time … and then, he came out and simply said that at the end of #3.  Honesty goes a long way in my book.  Speaking of books, this article puts another read into my queue as I’m not interested in checking out his book, “Return on Influence”.  

#4 – Why Social Employee Brand Advocate Programs Power Up Your Brand via SocialZoomFactor.com 

Premise: A 13 minute podcast from Pam Moore that takes a look into the importance of building brand advocacy among/through your employees and focuses on how to do so.  Through a partnership with Everyone Social, a new series is beginning to provide tips and support on how to build a better brand advocacy program with your employees.

Thoughts: To close out this week’s #SundayMusings let’s pivot out of building external brand ambassadors and focus on building them from within your own doors.  Employee engagement is critical to your long term success.  Employees are, or should be, your greatest asset.

While I have yet to participate, I would recommend keeping an eye on the “#Getrealchat” that tackles subjects like this on Twitter.  There is a good amount of communication going on and a lot of interesting feedback on each topic.  These chats happen every Tuesday night on Twitter.

Tweet of the Week:

While this week’s ‘Tweet of the Week’ links to an article that was posted two years ago, the article and content itself remains relevant.  The author puts together a quick summary on why advocacy is important, driving and identifying your brand ambassadors, and several (good) ideas regarding building an advocacy program.

Branderati put together the slideshare presentation above that includes twenty great quotes when thinking about brand advocacy and brand ambassadors.  My personal favorites are on slide 4 from Joe Chernov and slide 12 from Dave Kerpen.  What is your favorite quote here?

That wraps up this week’s #SundayMusings.  What are your thoughts on brand advocacy?  How have brand ambassadors helped your brand grow?  How can you better work with these people moving forward?

Let us know in the comments below.  Have a great week ahead!

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 10-12-14

Branding and Digital Marketing

Branding and Digital Marketing

Welcome to another edition of #SundayMusings – the top news and stories that caught our attention from the past few weeks.  We have wrapped up our focus on LinkedIn and this week’s musings take us back to the core principle of branding.  Here are several branding-related stories that caught our attention:

#1 – 10 Social Media Mistakes That Could Be Hurting Your Brand – via HuffingtonPost.com

Premise: The vast majority of Americans are on social media which means your brand needs to be there (somewhere) too.  However, one mistake can be costly.  The writer puts together a list of 10 common mistakes that have been made in the past and continue to be made seemingly on a regular basis.

Thoughts: Interested in annoying your audience?  Do you want to cost your brand the equity that has been built over a long period of time in 140 characters or less?  If you answered “No” to these questions, you probably want to check out this list as, at the very least, a good reminder of what not to do with your brand’s social media pages and/or presence.

My “favorite” one here is #3 – “Getting too personal” and the examples from Amy’s Baking Compnay and KitchenAid.  You might want to take a step back from the keyboard before posting anything remotely similar to the meltdowns these brands had in the past.

#2 – “Six great automotive content marketing campaigns” via econsultancy.com 

Premise: The author has found six examples of various content marketing efforts being made by automakers.  The efforts themselves are largely different and go across various mediums.

Thoughts: What I loved about this article right from the beginning is the author’s comment, “I’m not sure I’ve ever been able to properly define content marketing …”.  That is a nice synopsis of my thoughts on the niche that has become content marketing.  It is branding.  No, really, it is.

The efforts of two automakers caught my eye here.  The Nissan Leaf community is a great way to bring together current (or past) owners of the car to provide honest feedback.  The other is Honda’s YouTube channel, Honda Stage.  I’ve mentioned my loyalty to Honda in the past so this shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.  Partnering with various music brands that are relevant to a younger audience will/should help Honda gain and build brand salience with present and future car purchasers.

#3 – “The 13 Steps to Content Marketing Success” via ClickZ.com 

Premise: Success in content marketing builds value in your overall company – whether that be through customer engagement, sales, or elsewhere.  The author puts together a list of tips for consideration when drawing up your content marketing plan and how to measure its success.  From ‘setting a goal’ through bringing your content marketing efforts to life, following these steps will help increase your chances of success.

Thoughts: Here we are again with ‘content marketing’.  The beginning four steps here are critical to your success.  While many of the middle steps listed here are straightforward, there is also an important stage at the end of the writer’s list to consider.  #11 – ‘Set up tracking’ is an important element if you want to better understand where your viewers are coming from and can help you adjust your current efforts or note for future efforts.  

#4 – Adweek’s Top 5 Commercials of the Week via Adweek.com 

Premise: At the end of every work week, Adweek compiles a list of the top ads.  Last week’s ads included ones from GE, Strongbow, Starbucks, Volvo, and Dove.  Readers can vote for their favorites on a weekly basis.

Thoughts: If you don’t have this bookmarked or in your Feedly feed, you probably should.  What caught my eye about last week’s ads were the first three in this list.  GE’s ad with Jeff Goldblum is so bizarre I still don’t know what to think about it.  See below, as I had to put in this write-up so that it isn’t a click away.

The same agency that worked on Heineken-owned Newcastle Brown Ale is at it again with another brand under the Heineken umbrella – Strongbow.  This ad cracked me up.  The Starbucks ad is the brand’s first global campaign, which actually surprised me that it has taken this long for a more broadly distributed campaign.

Tweet of the Week:

Interbrand’s 2014 “Best Global Brands” report is out and you need to take a look.  Follow the link in the Twitter ad above to the landing page of the report.  If you scroll down to the bottom of the page you will find all of the content that was put together for this year’s report.  This includes the list itself (which highlights the top risers year over year), the methodology, interviews, etc.  There is a tremendous amount of information here to digest and is well worth the time.  Enjoy!

What news or stories caught your eye this week?  Enjoy your Sunday and have a great week ahead!

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 9-28-14

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding focusing on LinkedIn (Photo credit: PowerFormula.net)

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding focusing on LinkedIn (Photo credit: PowerFormula.net)

Our last #SundayMusings that focuses on LinkedIn as we close out “LinkedInMonth” – which turned into two months given the amount of content.  We have focused our #SundayMusings efforts on the professional network over the past few weeks and have our last two “Pin of the Month” entries on the platform as well.  Next week will wrap up our efforts with a new “Tips” article focusing on business/company page recommendations, which follows our personal branding Tips for the network.

Here are the stories that caught our attention over the past few weeks:

#1 – LinkedIn takes steps toward an ad network – via DigiDay.com

Premise: LinkedIn’s recent acquisition of Bizo will help the network vastly improve its business-to-business marketing and will serve as another source of revenue for the platform.  While LinkedIn will not call Bizo a pure ‘ad network’ play, the site will soon be able to sell B2B ads that are more targeted on-site, but also off-site.  The July acquisition takes LinkedIn another giant step forward from past efforts in building ad revenue with more powerful targeting.

Thoughts: LinkedIn’s CEO Jeffrey Weiner seems to continue pushing all the right buttons in moving the platform to the next level.  With a need to now answer to shareholders, the acquisition of Bizo represents another huge opportunity for revenue growth.  Targeted marketing continues to become more and more prevalent, while at the same time, becoming stronger and more efficient thanks to companies like Bizo.

#2 – “33 Tweet-Size LinkedIn Tips You Need to Try” via themuse.com 

Premise: An infographic from Ethos3 provides 33 tips for consideration when looking for improvements to your LinkedIn profile.  Each tip is a quote from someone else’s thoughts and gives credit to said person or company.

Thoughts: There are a lot of good ideas within the infographic.  However, I do want to point out one that doesn’t jive with others here.  I do not agree with #6 – although I am guilty of doing this myself in the past – in the recommendation “Skip the “How do you know this person” step.  Click “Connect” from search results, instead of profiles. @SylvanLane”.  Why do I disagree with this?  Simply scroll down to #19 – “Don’t use automated invitation messages … @dailymuse”.  There isn’t a way to do both and I would strongly recommend personalizing each invitation that you send out.

#3 – 5 Reasons Sales Professionals Should Publish on LinkedIn via Jeff L. Herrmann on LinkedIn.com 

Premise: The author provides more rationale to use LinkedIn as a publishing platform vs. just using it for your job search.  The five reasons are straightforward, including the ability to position yourself as an expert in your sector and building trust with others.

Thoughts: The one ‘reason’ that caught my attention and got me thinking was Jeff’s last point: “Comments, likes, and views on your published content are a much better endorsement than the skills boxes.”  I thought about this a little bit and it’s an interesting POV.  Specifically to sales professionals, which this article is focused on, this makes a lot of sense.  To the general job seeker, etc. you are going to need those skills listed out on your profile and endorsements from your network.

#4 – “LinkedIn Sales Navigator Goes Mobile and Adds Redesigned Salesforce Features” via Sales.LinkedIn.com 

Premise: LinkedIn launched Sales Navigator earlier this year and have already announced an upgrade with the release of its iOS mobile app.  Following general behaviors in the marketplace, the shift to mobile continues and LinkedIn continues to invest in the platform.  The new LinkedIn Sales Navigator app provides several key benefits: Real-time updates, TeamLink, and Saved accounts and leads.  The app also works directly with Salesforce and includes new features there as well.

Thoughts: A couple of items caught my attention beyond the announcement itself.  First, it drives me crazy when companies release an iOS version of something only.  I completely understand why they do it, but it still drives me a bit batty.  Second, it didn’t go unnoticed that LinkedIn’s own posts continue to drop in Slideshare presentations.

Tweet of the Week:

What I really like about Pam’s podcasts is that she provides an in-depth summary and corresponding write-up with them.  This allows you to read up on what is covered in the podcast and decide whether or not you want to listen, skip around, etc.  The highlights towards the end of article is a quick list of benefits of leveraging LinkedIn.  If you have been following “LinkedIn Month” here on Shore Branding, you know we’re aligned with a lot of these areas.

OK, so this is a little dated at this point, but I wanted to bring the focus to company pages on LinkedIn as this will be the focus of next weekend’s “Tips” write-up.  I couldn’t find an updated Slideshare for 2014 (yet?) but many of the strengths highlighted in the above presentation still exist.  I really like what Dell has done visually on their company page.  Their image has since been updated, with the new Dell page promoting a “#DoMore” campaign.

That wraps up our LinkedIn-geared #SundayMusings for another week!  What caught your attention on the network?  Have a great week!

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 9-14-14

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding focusing on LinkedIn (Photo credit: PowerFormula.net)

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding focusing on LinkedIn (Photo credit: PowerFormula.net)

We continue with our “#LinkedInMonth” today with our second #SundayMusings that focuses on the business social network.  Similar to two weeks ago, here are the top stories of the past few weeks regarding LinkedIn.  Again, if you have an article or recommendations for stories to cover on LinkedIn, let me know and we’ll share in the future.

#1 – How Millennials Can Use LinkedIn – via VirtualSocialMedia.com

Premise: Millennials know all about social media and how to use it, but the one site they should be paying attention to is LinkedIn.  The author offers up several tips on completing a profile and what not to include.  LinkedIn is a powerful tool/resource that can help millennials land their first job.        

Thoughts: This past weekend we covered off on several tips in improving your personal brand on LinkedIn.  Many of said thoughts are highly applicable to millennials entering the work force.  However, you must realize that the network is used by professionals and is much, much different than updating your Twitter and Facebook profiles.      

#2 – “Does your LinkedIn profile lack curb appeal?  Add images and links!” via thesocialmediahat.com 

Premise: If your LinkedIn profile looks like your resume from a Word document, you aren’t leveraging the platform correctly.  The latest updates from LinkedIn allow anyone to make their profile shine.  LinkedIn now allows you to personalize the order of your profile from top to bottom. 

Thoughts: Anyone looking to use LinkedIn for their job search must stay on top of all of the latest and greatest from LinkedIn, as they are continuously updating what is possible for your profile.  There is a great slideshare within the link above as well, providing several tips and examples on how to optimize your profile.    

#3 – The 3 Biggest Mistakes People Make on Twitter and LinkedIn (And How to Fix Them) via blog.hubspot.com 

Premise: The author provides three mistakes that are commonly seen being made on Twitter and LinkedIn and recommendations on how to fix them.  Link baiting and blasting LinkedIn Groups with your thoughts and feedback is one common mistake; instead, join in other conversations and spread your knowledge.  The second LinkedIn mistake commonly made is sending the generic message in invitations to new connections.  Personalizing said message goes a long way to distinguishing yourself vs. others.     

Thoughts: Both LinkedIn-specific recommendations are hard to argue against.  Nothing drives me crazier than the link baiting that goes on under comments and updates in Groups.  People that simply add a “Hi” or “Thanks” and a link to their site underneath a popular status update is a great way to annoy your audience and get blocked. 

I also believe in customizing the text in your connection invitation.  Personalize your message to something that is more relevant for each individual person.  The 90 seconds it takes to do this will go a long way.  

#4 – “8 Brilliant Ways To Get Your LinkedIn Account Restricted/Suspended” via exploreB2B.com 

Premise: LinkedIn is one of the greatest ways for businesses to build their leads and contacts.  In a somewhat sarcastic way, the writer puts together eight ways to ruin your business’ reputation on the network.  Building off of #3 above at the personal level, using your business page to spam your audience is a great way to draw negative attention to yourself.    

Thoughts: The eight examples provided by the writer are all “fun” ways to annoy an audience.  Sadly, you likely see examples of each every time you check into the network.  Tip number 3 – “Clone yourself” – is one of the most confusing elements I have seen on LinkedIn and it simply drives me crazy when I do.  Which of these are your “favorite”?    

#5 – “The One New LinkedIn Feature That Will Make Your Profile Stand Out” via William Arruda on LinkedIn.com 

Premise: LinkedIn rolled out a new feature for Premium members in recent months – the ability to add a background image to your profile.  This feature will eventually become available to all users and is a great way to distinguish yourself from others with an eye catching visual.  If you want to build/improve your personal brand on the network, this is certainly one of the best features to do so.    

Thoughts: The author provides the appropriate specs (1400*425 pixels) for your background image and several other recommendations to improve your branding efforts on your profile.  For my background I actually went ahead and created a word cloud based on my work experience and expertise areas.  Think about what works for you and get started with a new background image on your profile – it truly does/will set you apart right now on the network.    

Tweet of the Week:

Author Barry Moltz has a new book called “How to Get Unstuck: 25 Ways to Get Your Business Growing Again” and LinkedIn Influencer Dave Kerpen – CEO of Likeable Media – spoke with Moltz on his ideation of how to get your business growing again, avoiding drop-offs and plateaus. 

First, these are very solid ideas for growing your business.  Second, Kerpen is a ‘must follow’ on LinkedIn if you aren’t already.  

That’s it for this week’s musings.  If you have or see a write-up on LinkedIn and you think it be helpful for others, send it my way and I’ll include it in the next #SundayMusings!