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)!

Pin of the Month – The Meaning of Brand Names

"The Meaning of Brand Names" - infographic by 7Brands Inc.

“The Meaning of Brand Names” – infographic by 7Brands Inc.

Our December “Pin of the Month” gets back to our roots of branding and provides the background for thirty five, highly recognizable brand names.  The “Pin of the Month” comes from a write-up on AdWeek and was created by 7Brands Inc which brought in information from a handful of sources on where brand names originated from.

There are a few here that caught my eye as “interesting to know/learn”, a few lame stories, and a few that seem pretty funny more than anything else.  The first thing that caught my eye during the first read through on the infographic was how many rely on translations from Latin, German, and other languages.

  • I had no idea that Pez came from the German equivalent to “peppermint” and that the candy was originally just in that flavor.
  • Durex was just something easy to say and remember, I had no idea it actually stood for something – Durable, Reliable, Excellence.  (Makes sense …)
  • Toyota definitively needed to tweak its name so that it didn’t translate to “fertile rice paddies”.
  • It was funny to see what UK consumers translated DASANI to “filtered tap water” even if it is incorrect.

What brand names caught your attention?  Are there any that catch you off-guard or are surprised by?  Let me know in the Comments below.  Thanks!

For those unfamiliar with our “Pin of the Month”, every month we post one of the better infographics, pictures, etc. that we find on our Pinterest page and (over-) analyzing it in our “Pin of the Month”.  If you have an infographic that you would like to promote here on Shore Branding, just let us know.

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!

Loyalty to Brands – Amazon

"Loyalty to Brands" focusing on Amazon.com

“Loyalty to Brands” focusing on Amazon.com

By a show of virtual hands, who has shopped on Amazon in the past week?  That’s what I figured and the leader in ecommerce is our focus in the latest “Loyalty to Brands”.  Founded in 1994 as an online bookstore, Amazon has become much, much more over the years.  There isn’t much out there for sale that you can’t get on Amazon.  Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos continues to run the show at the Seattle-based giant, finding new and exciting ways to expand Amazon’s portfolio.

So what has driven my brand loyalty to Amazon?  While price is an added benefit, it is not my number one driver.  The convenience of shopping on Amazon drives my loyalty.  Specifically, Amazon Prime has made my life so much easier.  It is, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the best $99 I spend every year.  With two day shipping on the majority of purchases, I know that I’m getting what I want/need in a timely manner.  If said item doesn’t meet my needs, returns and exchanges cause virtually no pain or anguish.  Over the past five years or so, I would estimate that at least 80% of my holiday shopping is done on Amazon.  In just November and December, the Amazon Prime subscription fee pays for itself.  Tech gifts, clothes, K-cups, and on and on, the list continues to grow each and every year.

What else makes Amazon appealing?  Well, with a baby in the household, Amazon Mom has been a big help in both price and convenience.  The “subscribe and save” option for diapers and numerous other products takes one less thing off my plate to try to remember.  The item shows up on a regularly scheduled frequency and I never have to think about it.  As an added bonus, you can cancel your subscription at any time.

Amazon Mom (via Babble.com)

Amazon Mom (via Babble.com)

As a final straw in building my loyalty, Amazon has made a commitment to the technology space.  What started off as a black and white e-reader and its Kindle business, Amazon has grown leaps and bounds over the past few years.  While I remain loyal to Google for their phones and tablets, a Fire tablet is likely on its way soon.  This would be a second Amazon Fire product, as Fire TV was an immediate purchase when launched and has since replaced Roku in this household.  If you are looking for a streaming device, I have no hesitation in recommending Fire TV.  All of the major apps are there, you are automatically enrolled in Prime for one year, and you can save all of your information in their cloud.

Fire TV (Sarah Tew / CBS Interactive)

Fire TV (Sarah Tew / CBS Interactive)

How often are you using Amazon?  At the very least, are you comparative shopping by checking to see what is available on Amazon and how much it costs relative to the store you are standing in?

If you have a brand or service that you consider yourself loyal to and are interested in guest blogging on Shore Branding, please do reach out and let me know via the Comments section below or through the Contact page.

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!

Pin of the Month – Brand Advocates

October's "Pin of the Month" focuses on the importance of brand advocates.  Infographic by BzzAgent

October’s “Pin of the Month” focuses on the importance of brand advocates. Infographic by BzzAgent

Our October “Pin of the Month” comes to us from BzzAgent and research conducted by Dr. Kathleen R. Ferris-Costa.  The research provides data behind the power of building brand advocacy and turning consumers into advocates for your brand, product, and/or company.

Brand advocates help build word of mouth advertising for your brand and are influencers in the purchase cycle for their audience, followers, family and friends.  The infographic takes a look at the power of brand advocates and why they are so important to have.  So why is it important to build, maintain, and leverage brand advocates to help with your branding efforts?

The infographic caught my eye due to having data behind every recommendation.  Breaking down the data into three sections – Habitat, Behaviors, and Motivations – BzzAgent points out the benefits under all three umbrellas.  Brand advocates are going to use social media and build their audience, they are going to create their own content and help promote your brand for you, and they are going to continue to share said content with their growing audience.

If you are looking for continuous support and “free” publicity, embrace brand advocates and let them become ambassadors for your brand.  Consider rewarding them with some type of perk and watch their support continue to grow over time, which in turn helps grow your audience and amount of support.

The data within this month’s “Pin of the Month” illustrates the power behind building brand advocates.  They are exponentially more likely to help you improve your standing with a broader audience and will continue to support you / your brand over time.

Are you focusing too much on winning new customers and not enough time retaining your current customer base?  Do you have someone that will step up to bat for you and help promote your brand or business?  Building brand ambassadors is an important piece to the puzzle that is ignored all too often.

Every month we post one of the better infographics, pictures, etc. that we find on our Pinterest page and (over-) analyzing it our “Pin of the Month”.  If you have an infographic that you would like to promote here on Shore Branding, just let us know.  Thanks!

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!

Eight Tips When Leveraging LinkedIn Company Pages

LinkedIn Company Pages

As we close #LinkedInMonth (plus) here on Shore Branding, it is time to look at several LinkedIn Tips for building your company page on the network.  We previously looked at improving your own, personal page on LinkedIn but now it is time to focus on business pages.  Several tips are similar in concept, but LinkedIn has rolled out new features that only business pages can take advantage of.

Here are eight tips to improving your business/company page on LinkedIn.

#1 – Maximize the information you put on your profile & consider some of LinkedIn’s special offerings

Provide all of the pertinent information in your company description – who you are and what you do, your company history, corporate portfolio, and a link to your web site.  List your specialties to help with appearing in search within LinkedIn and provide any type of unique selling point (USP) that you would typically promote anywhere else.

Are you looking to hire?  Post your job opening(s) directly on your LinkedIn page and track who and how many people are responding to each posting.

LinkedIn used to have “Products” and “Services” tabs as well but they have since removed this information from company pages.  However, they now provide a “Showcase page” where you can focus your message and target others with your core capabilities.  Take your USP’s and build pages for them, providing enough depth and breadth for others to notice.

LinkedIn Showcase Page

#2 – Publish regularly scheduled content on LinkedIn

Whether or not your company has a blog page, leverage your LinkedIn network to promote your work, white papers, PR, etc.  Update your status on some type of regular basis … whether you commit yourself to a daily, weekly, or monthly update/post, stay true to form over time.  Publishing your material to LinkedIn allows you another avenue to promote your expertise.

Beyond this, make sure you have some type of consistent branding on your posts.  It can be as simple as your brand logo at the top of each page/slide or you can leverage an appropriate color scheme, hashtag, etc.  Add some consistency for your audience.

#3 – Target your status updates 

Have a fragmented audience or do you offer up a number of services?  LinkedIn now allows you to target your status updates by company size, industries, job functions and more.  This obviously says a lot about the data available on the LinkedIn servers and your ability to target down to the right audience.

Targeting your audience on LinkedIn has never been easier!

Targeting your audience on LinkedIn has never been easier!

#4 – Start a LinkedIn group and participate in others 

Vastly similar to what is recommended for personal branding on LinkedIn, this is yet another area and opportunity to promote your core competencies and expertise.  Groups are an invaluable resource for many LinkedIn users and you can find/connect with like minds, while also seeing what your competitors might be suggesting in your space.

Starting a group is another aspect for consideration, allowing you to regularly moderate the group, initiate and steer discussions, etc.

#5 – Leverage SlideShare

Have sales sheets, infographics, training materials, business goals, and more?  Drop any shareable information into SlideShare and upload the information to your profile – whether it be part of your regularly scheduled updates or within your company description, SlideShare adds a level of visual appeal and helps break up the text on your business profile.

#6 – Stay up to date on the latest LinkedIn innovations

As mentioned above, LinkedIn is continually tweaking their offering on both personal and business pages.  As these options are deployed, figured out what makes the most sense for your business page and what you are most comfortable with.

For the latest and greatest news, bookmark this page on LinkedIn.  As you will see in that link, occasionally there isn’t an update to company pages for weeks and months.  However, looking at April and May 2014, there are also times where LinkedIn is continually updating their features.

#7 – Use LinkedIn’s analytics tools

LinkedIn continues to update and improve its analytics offering.  This will allow you to help track your audience on a daily/weekly basis and to begin to understand how your efforts on the platform are paying off (or aren’t).  You’ll understand both reach and engagement on each of your updates and in total.  One of the more powerful pieces of the analytics tool is the ability to understand the success rates of LinkedIn’s advertising platform – sponsored links/updates, advertising your company page itself, etc.

Know your audience better with LinkedIn Analytics

Know your audience better with LinkedIn Analytics

Speaking of …

#8 – Consider leveraging LinkedIn’s advertising platform 

LinkedIn’s advertising platform is easy to understand and incredibly easy to use.  Pick the type of ad that you want to use – text/image, video – and where you want it to appear on the network.  Then, start targeting your message appropriately.  Finally, set your budget.  You can set per day limits and pay by the number of clicks you receive or on the number of impressions out there.

A bevy of options with LinkedIn Advertising

A bevy of options with LinkedIn Advertising

There you have it – eight tips to improving your company’s LinkedIn page and to help with your branding and digital marketing efforts on the platform.

If you have any other tips for running a company page on LinkedIn, let us know in the comments below.  If something has (or has not) worked really well for your business, let us know as well.  Thanks!