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 JeffBullas.com 

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 HeidiCohen.com   

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 PoweredBySearch.com  

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 topseowebsitesdesign.com 

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 SkyWord.com  

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 SproutContent.com  

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!

ShoreBranding.com 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 ShoreBranding.com 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: ZDNet.com)

A mobile #SundayMusings w/ Shore Branding!
(Photo credit: ZDNet.com)

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 ReadWrite.com 

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 LouderOnline.com.au    

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 BrettRelander.com  

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 ConvinceandConvert.com 

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 MobileMarketer.com  

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 cNet.com  

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 alistdaily.com  

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!

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

 

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

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

 

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 SocialBakers.com 

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 SocialBakers.com 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 mediapost.com    

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 CUTimes.com  

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 brandchannel.com  

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: tirebusiness.com)

My loyalty to Google products continues …
(Photo credit: tirebusiness.com)

Welcome to a new series here on ShoreBranding.com 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 LoyaltyLab.com 

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 MarketingProfs.com    

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 CustomerInsightGroup.com  

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 ZDNet.com  

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 ClientHeartbeat.com  

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 AlleyWatch.com  

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, Loyalty360.org 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 ShoreBranding.com 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!

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

 

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding - The Valentine's Day Edition! (Photo credit: blog.templatemonster.com)

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – The Valentine’s Day Edition!
(Photo credit: blog.templatemonster.com)

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 Strategy-Business.com 

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 brandchannel.com    

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 DigitalTrends.com 

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 TechCrunch.com  

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 AdWeek.com  

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?

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 2-9-14

Branding and Digital Marketing

Branding and Digital Marketing

This week’s #SundayMusings w/ Shore Branding refocuses on branding and digital marketing and moves us away from news on the Super Bowl and its advertising.

#1 – Only Twitter TV Can Save Twitter – via Mashable.com 

Premise: Twitter held its first earnings report since going public last year and things are off to a rocky start.  The company reported a profit, despite posting a one-time, half-billion dollar loss for going public.  A major concern is the slow growth in total users, while CEO Dick Costolo also suggests that while Twitter has high awareness, engagement is not where it needs to be.

The author’s suggestion to help Twitter grow is to launch “Twitter TV”.  The idea is to have a steady flow of tweets across a number of popular categories (sports, celebrities, technology, etc.) and have related tweets under each channel on the Twitter home page vs. the basic sign-in screen, where only users see anything at all, and that is among the people that they follow.

Thoughts: This article quickly caught my attention, as I was under the impression the author was suggesting that Twitter should release its own TV platform, similar either to what Intel and others have tried to do, or similar to Apple TV and Chromecast.  I’m glad that isn’t the actual suggestion here and the author’s comments do make sense.  At the very least, this gives non-users the ability to see what Twitter is all about and the ability to look at news/tweets on the topics they are specifically interested in.

#2 – “Esurance Hands Out That $1.5 Million, Releases Mind-Boggling Stats From Twitter Stunt” – via AdWeek.com    

Premise: A fantastic use of digital marketing from Esurance, who purchased the first ad slot after the Super Bowl for $1.5 million less than what it cost to advertise during the game itself.  Esurance’s campaign was to give that $1.5 million to someone that used the “#EsuranceSave30” hashtag on Twitter.  What ensued is an impressive outpouring of reach and impressions across social media and a spike in traffic to the Esurance web site itself.

Thoughts: What a way to leverage Twitter and the power of a hashtags to run a wildly successful digital / social media campaign by the company.  4.5 million people used the hashtag in the first 24 hours, and all of this created over 2.5 billion impressions on Twitter alone!  Kudos and congratulations to Esurance for coming up with an engaging campaign on the biggest night in TV history.

#3 – “CVS Brilliantly Encouraged People To Share Its Tobacco Story” via Forbes.com

Premise: Earlier this week, CVS announced that it would no longer sell tobacco products in its store by 10/1/14.  Beyond simply making the announcement itself, it encouraged others to share the story on social media and put together several steps to turn this announcement into a feel-good campaign / promotion for itself.  The pharmacy company built its own landing page (CVSQuits.com) that includes a plethora of information, including facts and figures, pictures, etc.

Thoughts: A second example this week of brand/company taking a little bit of time to think about a better way of getting their message out to the masses and allowing the power of social media to allow others to take care of most of the work.

#4 – “Foursquare Gets $15M And Licensing Deal From Microsoft To Power Location Context For Windows And Mobile” via TechCrunch.com  

Premise: Foursquare received additional funding from Microsoft, strengthening the relationship between the two companies, and giving more location-based data to Bing and Windows products.  Microsoft will be able to leverage Foursquare’s geo-based targeting system on its platforms and will provide users with notifications and stronger integration into Microsoft products and devices.

Thoughts: Foursquare continues to move further and further away from “mayors” and “badges” and deeper into ‘big data’ and the future of location-based services.  Pretty soon, your mobile device is going to be directing you where you want to go for dinner based on your prior input and preferences and where you are located.  That probably scares some people, but I think it is pretty awesome!

#5 – “Is Seattle’s Russell Wilson the Perfect Brand Ambassador? We’re About to Find Out” via BrandChannel.com  

Premise: The starting quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, Russell Wilson, stands to heavily benefit from last weekend’s Super Bowl result.  Wilson is a young QB and seems to have many of the attributes brands are looking for in a celebrity endorser.  Wilson already has deals with Nike, Levi’s, Alaska Air, and American Family Insurance … but expect this list to continue to grow as more brands find out more information about the type of person Wilson is and what he does on and, more importantly, off the field.

Thoughts: You didn’t really think we would miss one more opportunity to talk about the Seahawks victory in last weekend’s Super Bowl did you?  What a great victory!

Back to the article though, I wholeheartedly agree with the premise and will not be surprised when Wilson’s name and face are all over the TV in the coming weeks and months.  In just two seasons in Seattle, he has taken over the city and would almost definitely win in a landslide if he ran for office in the city or state.

Tweet of the Week:

We’re cheating here due to last week’s sports-geared write-up.  This tweet from Laura Ries is a great resource for all things branding-related and how/why your brand should “focus” in a particular area in order to win.  The link will take you to a PDF that offers up Ries’ prior writings and various consulting options that they are offering for brands.  I’ve read several of their writings and others are in the queue – this is certainly worth looking into for those interested in branding.

That’s it for this week’s #SundayMusings!  What caught your attention this week?

Super Bowl Ad Review 2014

This past weekend’s Super Bowl was the most watched event in television history, with over 112 million viewers tuning in!  With the growing popularity of the NFL and a match-up of the two #1 seeds, there was a lot of talk about how good of a match-up it would be.  Well, the game itself didn’t pan out (for the Broncos at least), but the viewership numbers certainly eased the minds of the marketing teams that spent a good penny to advertise during the game.

Here are my personal favorites from the game, with a few comments for each, along with a few additional ads towards the end – two that I didn’t like and two that caught my attention well before kickoff of the Super Bowl.

#6 – Turbo Tax, “Love Hurts”

As soon as John C. Reilly’s voiceover hit, I/you knew that the ad was for Turbo Tax, assuming you were familiar with the prior ads that featured the actor’s voice.  I loved this ad from a humor and content standpoint.  It meshed extremely well with the Super Bowl itself.  However, the branding on the ad was terrible, though I’m not even sure where it would have been possible before Turbo Tax was finally mentioned 45 seconds into the 60 second commercial.  Great ad, not so great branding.

#5 – Doritos, “Time Machine”

This was the best 30 second commercial of the game in my opinion.  First, I thought it was pretty funny.  Second, the ad was strong from a branding perspective from beginning to end.  I’m not sure what level of intent there was to feature Doritos’ Spicy Nacho SKU, but any bag really would have worked in this spot.

#4 – Toyota Highlander, “Big Game” starring Terry Crews & The Muppets

This was a build off of the previously launched teaser ad from earlier in the week.  I have to say, had I not seen or known about the teaser ad, this probably would have been rated higher.  Again, just a personal preference on enjoying the surprise element come Super Bowl Sunday vs. seeing the ad for at least a week prior.  There was decent branding in this ad, with the Muppets mentioning the car itself and several close enough images of the Highlander written on the back of the car and several Toyota logo images.

#3 – Chevy Silverado, “Romance”

The ad above was funnier than the Toyota Highlander commercial and again, the element of surprise by not seeing this ad prior to the game, helped this Chevy Silverado spot land at #3 on the list.  The Chevy logo is showed early and relatively often in the ad, but “Chevy Silverado” itself isn’t mentioned until the last 5 seconds of the 60 second spot.  If you aren’t aware or aren’t looking for the Chevy logo, you have no idea who this ad is for until the very end.

#2 – Budweiser, “A Hero’s Welcome” & “Puppy Love”

Admittedly, we’re cheating a little bit here.  Budweiser throws out two great, great ads and I can’t pick between them.  “Puppy Love” gets a slight edge in branding due to the prominence of the Clydesdales, while you needed to wait 30 seconds before the first hint that “Soldier Comes Home” was from Budweiser.  But … that … ad … just, fantastic.

“Puppy Love” seems to be the consensus winner among this year’s ads due to its awesome story, and I would like to think, the terrific branding with the Clydesdales.  As of Wednesday afternoon, the Budweiser YouTube page for this ad has over 43 million views!  Congratulations!

However, I have to put someone else at #1 on this year’s list …

#1 – Radio Shack, “The Phone Call Commercial”

First, terrific branding right from the opening images.  Then, my mind was just completely blown away, with all of the 1980’s characters walking through the front of the store.  Look at this list: Erik Estrada from Chips, “Cliff” from Cheers, Hulk Hogan, Dee Snider, Chucky, Alf, Kid ‘n Play, The California Raisins, Q*bert, Teen Wolf, and Slimer.  Seriously?!  This isn’t just the greatest Super Bowl ad in 2014, this could be one of the greatest Super Bowl ads ever!  I’m so disappointed that this isn’t getting more props in the days after the Super Bowl, though it might be due to the fact that half the audience has no idea who these people and characters are.

Beyond the nostalgia and the strong branding at the very opening, you have a fantastic ending where Radio Shack essentially re-launches / re-brands itself and its stores.  The only thing this ad is missing is a hashtag at the end.  While it does bring in the “Do.It.Together” slogan and points you to the Radio Shack web site, they could have dropped in a hashtag on the same screen there and taken off.

So there it is, the second annual Super Bowl Ad Review!  Budweiser and Radio Shack were phenomenal and everything else fell behind those two.  However, these seven ads really caught my attention for one reason or another.  Now, let’s get to the bonus content …

I didn’t particularly like the following ads: The Diet Mountain Dew ad with Dale Earnhardt Jr was a little weird.  While it had decent branding in it, I somewhat expected a response from PETA and others about the content.  That’s simply because of the way things go in this country these days.  The other ad that I thought was going to cause a bit of stir was the Coca-Cola “America the Beautiful” ad.  I am not offended by the ad and I don’t think they were “wrong” for running it, as some are insinuating over the past few days, I just didn’t like the ad itself.  I thought the branding was weak and nowhere near as strong as ads in the past from the beverage giant.

Given that I am a Seahawks fan, I watched a lot of pregame coverage and found these two ads to be extremely well done:

The Zillow ad is obviously similar to the Budweiser ad above, but thought this was equally impressive and had strong branding throughout.  The Geico gecko is its own branding right from the get-go (see what I did there?) but this “Cheesesteak Shuffle” made me laugh.  Well done … again … Geico!

What were some of your favorite ads from this year’s Super Bowl?

Super Bowl Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 2-2-14

 

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding - The Super Bowl Edition! (Photo credit: MixedNutsAndLove.deviantart.com)

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – The Super Bowl Edition!
(Photo credit: MixedNutsAndLove.deviantart.com)

Welcome to a Super Bowl themed #SundayMusings w/ Shore Branding, the top branding and digital marketing stories from the past week, all of which revolve around today’s Super Bowl here in the US.

#1 – NFL Digital Media Offers Fans the Most Comprehensive Coverage of Super Bowl XLVIII – via NFLCommunications.com 

Premise: The NFL announced their digital plans for Super Bowl XLVIII and it includes the use of NFL.com, SuperBowl.com, a lot of mobile content, and a number of other features – many of which are largely seen or portrayed as being ‘fan-friendly’.

Thoughts: The NFL has slowly but surely transitioned to digital elements over the past handful of years and this year seems to be a heavy turning point towards mobile.  The league’s (very different) partnerships with Verizon and Fox are bringing a whole new viewing experience for the game, as well as providing a ton of content for fans to obsess over leading up to today’s game.

I’m not sure if they have done this in the past, largely because I didn’t have a vested interest in the game like I do this year, but I thought it was a great idea to allow fans to download the official game program to your tablets.  ($1.99 on Google Play)

#2 – “Super Bowl Branding Lessons” – via BrandingStrategyInsider.com    

Premise: The author takes an interesting approach on the importance / relevance of advertising during the Super Bowl.  While the ‘reach’ is certainly massive for those advertising during the game, can you really tell how effective / impactful your ad is or was?  Perhaps more than anything else, advertising during the Super Bowl provides you with “bragging rights” – the fact that you made it and can afford to pay for the ad to be aired during the game.

Thoughts: After thinking the ad was going in the direction of bashing brands that pay for their ad time, this article took a very interesting turn into a very different direction.  The perception of a brand that advertises during the Super Bowl is likely to change among those smaller brands that are advertising for the first or second time.  I also agree with the author’s comment that the bigger brands that have been using the Super Bowl for years are essentially expected to continue to do so.  I really liked the author’s analogy of the Super Bowl being the “private jet of advertising, when everyone else is flying coach”.  Well said.

#3 – “Super Bowl Tailgate: See Kia’s Version of ‘The Matrix’, Toyota’s Muppets and Jaguar’s Villains” via AdAge.com 

Premise: Earlier in the week AdAge provided a few early looks at the forthcoming Super Bowl ads and those featured in this write-up include Kia, Toyota, and Jaguar.

Thoughts: I used to really like “The Matrix” movies, so it was good to see Laurence Fishburne revive his Morpheus character.  I also enjoyed “The Muppets” ad with Terry Crews for Toyota … which is apparently a lead into their ad that will air during tonight’s game.

What is your take on airing your Super Bowl commercial before the game?  I asked this on Twitter as well.  I like the element of surprise during the game vs. seeing them a week prior.

#4 – “Meet the Unofficial Super Bowl Advertisers That are Packing a Punch Without Paying Up” via BrandChannel.com  

Premise: Don’t feel like spending the ~$4 million for a 30 second ad during the big game?  Either do these brands, who have jumped into the advertising fray with spots that will air during the pre- and post-game.  While PepsiCo will air ads during the game for its Pepsi and Doritos brands, their pre-game marketing spend will go towards Mountain Dew.

Thoughts: There is always a way around the system, right?  While the buy rates are certainly higher than normal for the respective timeslot, there are millions of reasons (read: viewers) to consider airing during the pre- and post-game.  I liked the new LifeLock ad that was included in the author’s write-up.  However, the winner of the week goes to …

#5 – “Anna Kendrick: Behind the Scenes of the Mega Huge Game Day Ad” 

Thoughts: Newcastle Brown Ale strikes again!  An absolutely hysterical “behind the scenes” ad with one of the more popular actresses around these days, Anna Kendrick.  The beeping over her saying “Super Bowl” (and a few other choice words) was fantastic.

What ad have you enjoyed thus far going into tonight’s game?

Tweet of the Week:

Skittles and Marshawn Lynch (Seahawks Running Back) finally aligned on a sponsorship deal this past week.  For the past couple of seasons, Skittles has gotten a good amount of free PR from the RB, given his propensity to eat the candy during games.  With the Seahawks now in the Super Bowl, it was an easy connection to see coming from a mile away.  Now, if I can only get my hands on one of these blue and green bags of Skittles …

That’s it for this week’s #SundayMusings.  Look for our Super Bowl Ad Review to be put up towards the middle of this coming week.  (Here is a link to last year’s review.)  Now, go enjoy the Super Bowl!  #GoHawks

One last YouTube clip from this past week that I thought was well done by ESPN: