Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Truth Be Told

As more and more businesses pursue social media, the discussion always involves what content to share.  Content is King no matter what industry you are in.  The better the content, the more engaged your audience and more willing they are to share. 

As the year comes to close and marketing strategies are finalized the main discussion is Social Media (why, how, what, where and when).  One of the main social media factors is authentic and transparent communication.  Discussion after discussion with clients is what to post.  My experience in social media has lead to nervous clients wanting to pull down post that provoked a strong response with some negativity. 

My first question is why?  The typical response, "it's bad press and making people mad, people are emailing and calling to complain".  After a few minutes of nervous ranting and concern we start to discuss why exactly people are having this reaction and the positive and negative factors from the interactions. 

The main social media concepts I share with clients are: 1) you are not going to please everybody 2) within your audience are multiple subsets of customers (one shoe does not fit all in size and style) 3) perception is the editor of reality and 4) if they do not talk on your site (page, website, blog etc) they will find a place to do this, thus making it appear as if you were trying to hide the conversation, not trust worthy and un-authentic. 

To exemplify my point, recently a well know band called Paramore had a falling out within the band with two of the original founders leaving at the height of their popularity.  Before the news was officially released, one of the remaining members posted on the band's website their take on the breakup of the band (this was obviously orchestrated by the record label and management). This tactic backfired because details of the break up were not finalized thus creating a "Truth be Told" moment online.  The two members that were leaving the group decided to post their side of the story in a blog post which then was countered with a post from the remaining member as questioning the authenticity of the post.  This prompted the two leaving members to post a Video stating that their blog post was authentic revealing the truth within the band and its demise. 

Bottom online, you can hide and ignore but the discussion will continue with or without you.  As played out in the press for years, ignoring and hiding create speculation of guilt.  Being able to respond to negativity within your context (website, blog, social media site..) allows for editing control, this we did not have when the media controlled all. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Spammers, Scammers, Internet Marketing Experts, Network Marketers...

With the rising popularity of #social #media which opened the door for poaching thousands of unsuspecting individuals, the tactics and strategies used are bolder than ever. Give me your $ money and you will get nothing in return should be their tag line because it is so blatant scamming. In some of my previous post I talked about "Social Media Gurus", "Social Media Experts" etc which promise some of the same returns as the spammers, scammers, internet marketing experts and network marketers.

In a well explored article by Bob Sullivan called, "The Women of Twitter: Behind those sexy tweets" he tried to reach out to these Twitter accounts to interview them but none responded.  Bob explains in the article the scam, "their methods are always the same -- steal clicks, sell ads against them, then try to upsell some other crazy service".  The majority of these scams come from International locations and I have witnessed a quote a few from New Zealand.  

I should also throw in some of the SEO black hatters, Link builders and Directory sites that  continue to fill our in boxes with emails claiming to act now or loose your domain, build thousands of links and enter your business here in our Directory etc. 

Bottom line, be careful, do your Google search, if they do not have a legit presence online stop there and run.  Use your trusted connections off and on line to further your investigation.  If you still have questions, you can send an email and I will investigate. 

Have fun and play safe.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Authenticity is a Must

Social Media is not going away and will be a permanent part of our societal communication infrastructure.  Companies, organizations and individuals must be aware of this trend that has been approaching on two years.  There are many, many examples of this #marketing #social # media #failure currently still taking place daily.  Here is one from today that was shared via @MichaelNewhouse #Twitter:
@LoriMorenoRT @KevinMinott RT @HuffingtonPost: Leaked memos show Fox News boss telling staffers how to spin health care debate

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Social Media Experts

                                     Who are they?

               Do they really exist?

There have been many now that proclaim to be  the so called "Social Media Expert" status.  These people attempt to define their status with amount of followers, training they have conducted, who they know etc.  If it is an Agency, they claim to have worked with name brand clients with "look how many followers" we got them, ran a social media contest that was "Lead Generation" activity, developed Facebook landing page etc.

As Social Media acceptance grows and all businesses realize they need a social media strategy, more so called Social Media Experts, Social Media Gurus and Marketing Agencies that provide social media solutions will be posing as Experts and soliciting their social media solutions.  Be Ware!

 I always pose the example of the Domino's Pizza Facebook account: if given this account to establish it would not be difficult to get over 100,00 followers or even 500k.  For the record, the Domino's Pizza Facebook account has over 1 million followers.

Malcom Gladwell's book Outliers, he introduced research from Dr. K. Anders Ericsson that suggested being great at something takes 10,000 hours of practice.  The study is subjective because depending on the activity pursuit, learning curves and mastery level may take less hours and some individuals master activities faster than others.  So, who has over 10,000 hours practicing social media?  5000?  2500?

Here are 10 questions to ask your social media expert or agency.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Facebook gives MySpace a bandaid

In another  hyped up press conference yesterday (11/18/10), Facebook announced they will be partnering with MySpace allowing users to log into the site with their Facebook login and share content more easily between the two properties.  The partnership called, Mashup with Facebook, further reveals MySpace's strategy to reposition itself as more of a music and entertainment hub than a Social Platform which is Facebook's strategic direction.

The new feature leverages Facebook Connect and builds on an initiative that MySpace unveiled in August called Sync with Facebook that let its users sync status updates with their Facebook profile and share content more easily with Facebook friends. The latest alliance is intended to match users' Facebook profile data and interests with music, movie, TV and celebrity-related content on MySpace. MySpace will let users port their Facebook "Interests and Likes" information into MySpace to create customized content streams on the site. *MediaPost 11/2010 article.

MySpace CEO Mike Jones said the new integration with Facebook rolling out globally today illustrated the company's strategy to be the Web's "leading social entertainment destination."   Facebook  easily surpassed MySpace over two years with current estimates on users at over 500 million with MySpace bleeding users with a highly speculative report of 130 million users.

Is this a case of a brilliant PR move by Facebook allowing for MySpace to have dignity in their eventual death and/or knowing that the MySpace platform will eventually be reduced to what it started out to be, a social platform for bands/artist to market themselves which will be a viable platform for advertising.  Once MySpace becomes stabilized within their strategy of being the Web's "leading social entertainment destination"I believe Facebook will purchase MySpace because why invent the social platform wheel. 

MySpace, owed by News Corp., COO Chase Carey said earlier this month in a conference call with analysts that MySpace's "current losses are not acceptable or sustainable," raising speculation that the media giant could shutter the site. News Corp. acquired MySpace in 2005 for $580 million.  This statement could have very well been strategic positioning to raise awareness for the MySpace possible investors looking to purchase this out-of-control drunk collage kid of social platform that thought it could take over the World.  I believe MySpace, or at least News Corp., has sobered up enough to realize that it is time to make immediate changes in their life and this is one of them.

As a Brand and Marketing Strategist, I rarely hear myself suggest to client to create a MySpace account.  Again, we will have to see how this new Mashup partnership works out and if MySpace is just going to be a joke we tell of Social Platforms past.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Top 10 Brands by Likers on Facebook

With 500 million members and counting, Facebook is the most dominant Social Media platform for Business.  With the ability to openly communicate with consumers, Brands are developing interactions like never before seen.  Even though these Brands have large number of participants does not guarantee social media strategy success.  If you do not engage in open conversation and provide engaging interactivity, like a boring TV show, they will tune you out.
1. Starbucks – 16 million
2. Coca-Cola – 15 million
3. Oreo – 12 million
4. Skittles – 11.5 million
5. Red Bull – 10.2 million
6. Victoria’s Secret – 8.4 million
7. Disney – 8.3 million
8. Converse All Star – 7.3 million
9. iTunes – 7 million
10. Windows Live Messenger – 6.8 million

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Speed of Business

What has increased the speed of business, the Internet? of course, Social Networks? of course, Global Competition? of course, the Economy? of course, and the list goes on but these are a few key factors that have attributed to the current speed business is moving.

"In this age, the race really is to the swift. You cannot afford to be an hour late or a dollar short," Laura DiDio, principal analyst at ITIC, tells Goldman.

 Will businesses that move slow and steady be left behind by the current business speed?  The opportunity to capitalize an opportunities will go to the one that can not only move quick, but move quickly with precision (or as close to it as possible).  Businesses that have multiple layers of political or bureaucratic approval processes will struggle to act on vast moving surges of businesses opportunities.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Event Tip: First Impressions at an Event

Event Tip:
At your event main reception or check in area, insure that the staff working are thoroughly informed about your event, organization and other pertinent information.  As your first point of contact, first impressions make a lasting impression about your company or organization and event.  

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Don't leave your customers alone in Social Media

If you have not admitted yet or will never, it does not matter at this point, Social Media is mainstream and here to stay!  When asked "why social media" you can mention these stats:
*stats from Social Media Explorer

So, why would you leave your customers alone to talk with your competitors when you should be the one they are talking with, purchasing your goods or services and willing to share with others.  The key to Social Media is to develop an interactive strategy that evokes conversations. You must now think of yourself as a publishing and production company utilizing content and images to convey and converse your brand story.

                                                  "Oh, I just have to post a pic or two"  

         "Whats the big deal, anybody can do that!"  

                           "We get it, just look at the number of our followers"

These are regular comments I receive regarding social media.  Sure, give me the Domino's pizza account, who could not get 100k fans.  But to keep them engaged, willing to share and make purchases is the ultimate test of social media strategy. 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Toilet Paper and Toothbrushes

The economy has affected every company, small and large thus eliciting people that need to implement marketing strategies that actually work.  What a concept!  We witness many attempts that completely miss the target market market boat.  It has become a fun and entertaining game for my wife and I to watch commercials that we evaluate as to their effectiveness with message, images and target market.  The best part of this fun marketing evaluation exercise is to really see how some company's total miss the mark.

Having spent well over a decade consulting with all types of businesses in almost every industry, one of the first questions I always ask is, "Who is your target market?".  Typical answers to this question follow in these categories, if a large company who has been around a while and has the money for research comes back with a data sheet like a CIA profile report - this is very scary because most of the time interpreting this data into marketing plans becomes a grid iron of debate amongst the agency's that serve the brand.  Next you have the company that says,  "we kinda know who it is and that has worked for 20 years".  Really?  Then you have the new start-up or entrepreneur that says the greatest answer of them all, "Everybody!". 

Sorry to burst the bubble but only .0000001 percent of businesses have a truly defined target market of everybody.* And of those .0000001 maybe 1 can say this and that would be mother earth.  If your brand sells Toilet paper or Toothbrushes in a non-third world country that the majority of the population uses these items then for that region you can claim "everybody" as your target market. 

Finding your target market is like fishing.

A good fisherman does their research before finding the right place to cast their lines.  This includes knowing when the fish are going to be at the place, where the best place is, what type of gear to use and how to use the gear efficiently. 

So before going out and spending money on advertising, think like a fisherman. 

*Completely made up data but might actually be close to accurate.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Part I: Trade Show survey reveals current exhibitors Strategies

A recent study by Champion Services focused on the impact the economy has on the Trade Show and Events industry. 
***receive complete trade show listings here.

81% of Exhibiting Companies reduced trade show spend

The companies reduced trade show spend by:
  • 56% reduced staffing
  • 39% reduced the amount of shows 
With uncertainty in the economy still looming, companies, a slight majority (51%) of them, plan on increasing their trade show participation as the economy recovers.  Top tradeshow goals that companies revealed were:
  • 79% collect leads
  • 75% creating brand awareness or growing market share
  • 33% use trade shows to launch new products
When asked how they measure or value investment, exhibiting companies responded with:
  • 74% quality of leads collected 
  • 59% booth traffic
  • 54% quality of leads collected
  • 52% sales from leads collected
Leslie Brand, VP of Marketing for Wheelhouse Solutions said that, "The trade show industry is in a period of transition", (duh- my response).  She also went on to say that, “Exhibitors report that participation in trade shows is not just about selling products or services. As stakeholders in their industries, they are looking for ways to leverage a return on the investment throughout the year and stay connected to others in their industry. Social media technologies can play a role in building community facilitated by show organizers allowing event attendees and exhibitors to engage year round.”(again duh and what?- I did not see "want to engage customers via social media as a top tradeshow goal above).

The survey then stated 57% that value promotion of their event-related activities on social media such as Facebook (34%), Twitter (28%), and LinkedIn (19%). In addition, 45% value year-round online communities populated by event attendee.  In addition, 62% of respondents report that trade show expenditures represent more than a quarter of their marketing budget, including 28% of exhibitors who indicate trade shows represent more than half their marketing budget. While a majority of trade show related budgets will remain the same in 2010 and 2011, a quarter of the companies predict increased spending on future trade shows compared to 2009. 

After reading these statistics and comments, I can clearly understand why companies leave trade shows disappointed, frustrated and wondering what they can do to increase their tradeshow marketing investment.  A good majority of trade show companies just want to sell you equipment and NOT integrated solutions and will never have the ability to move on past this point.  If your trade show budget is 25-50% of your annual marketing budget, you better make sure that you have winning solutions for your trade show investment.  And if you have NO social media strategy in place today, get one NOW!

Part II will focus on down and dirty Trade Show marketing solutions that you should Crave!

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Last Mile of Engagement is not Free

Must Watch quick vid with the Social Master Brian Solis talking about marrying influence with confluence which will ignite the interaction.  "The ROI of social media marketing is connecting with the right individuals where they are and who they are connected with", Brian Solis.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Business Quote, Mantra, Mission

                                 is the Price  

        companies pay for being  

Yves Behar, Designer at TED2008

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Experiential Marketing creating awareness of sustainable living and green technology

Dartmouth students and recent graduates are spending the summer living on a bus in an effort to increase awareness of sustainable living and green technology described as a “science fair on wheels.”
Described as a “science fair on wheels” it’s the fifth year that students have taken part in the project.  The bus itself — a 1989 MCI coach that we swear we’ve taken to the airport — has been converted by the students to run on waste vegetable oil (WVO). Creature comforts (including air conditioning) are provided by ten 12-volt deep-cycle AGM batteries connected to a 4000 watt inverter and tied in with four solar panels. To complete the sustainable theme, cabinets and flooring are made from bamboo.

The bus tour departed from Hanover, NH on June 18th and has already made over 45 stops to educate visitors about sustainable living and refuel with WVO at greasy spoon diners across the country. Its last scheduled stop is in Cleveland, OH on August 29th.

Social Media marketing for the tour can be found at Twitter, Facebook and the team’s blog.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Help make a List of Businesses/Industries that Social Media would not work!

Sage Lewis from Sagerock agency always makes me sit back and smile because of his entertaining style with solid tips and points.  His newest entertaining video is titled, "Social Media for Farmers, huh!?"  After watching the video think about what businesses/industries that Social Media would not work or be effective for them and post in the comment section below.  I will compile the list and re-post.

Thank you for helping build our list of Businesses/Industries that Social Media is not effective.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

"Ship or get off the Pot", Inspired by Seth Godin

Yes, it's true, Seth Godin has finally inspired me.  I profess to not being a huge fan like others of Seth, but don't get me wrong, he does deliver moments of brilliance in marketing and business but not just all the time.  Today though, one of my Facebook friends posted this video and for some reason it just connected in the right spots for me.

Key points:
  • Knowing the deep soul-feeling of being responsible for the business to succeed.  Unless you have owned a company there is no other feeling like this other than being a parent (not sleeping well, signs of sickness, wanting to buy every new gadget...)
  • Discipline needs Strategy, period!  You can have all the discipline in the world but if your not performing the right task it becomes a mute activity.  This is why I am a Strategist, because after years of doing task from shipping, unloading trucks at 2am (UPS job in college), writing press releases to creating marketing plans - you have to think strategically in order to have the discipline to perform successfully.
  • Live authentically by writing a blog or even daily Facebook post.  Marketing has changed and as a marketer you must know how to write including tone, when, why... because no matter what business, its all social (media) now.
  • Content online is invaluable for many reasons - Real time results (SEO), link building, SERP, customer segmentation...

What keeps you Shipping?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Best Quote: "What is the Retail Climate Like"

"The best way to put it is that retail has a hangover right now. It’s awake (but not fully) and is hurting from the past 12 months of weak sales and low margin business. Dealers are beginning to see sales pick up, but they are still having a tough time paying for past purchases, making it tough to freshen up inventory."  Darren Hawrish, Founder and President No Limits Distribution from interview with

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Threadless goes Experiential for Summer Tour 2010

To celebrate its 10th Anniversary, T-Shirt crowd sourcing specialist Threadless, has launched a Summer mobile event campaign.  The mobile tour includes a 25-foot Airstream trailer, pulled by a panel van designed for the tour with a collage of the most popular T-shirt designs from Threadless’ decade. 

 What is Threadless, according to Wikipedia, Threadless is a community-centered online apparel store run by skinnyCorp of Chicago, Illinois, since 2000. Co-founders Jake Nickell and Jacob DeHart started the company with $1,000 in seed money after entering an Internet t-shirt design contest.  Members of the Threadless community submit t-shirt designs online; the designs are then put to a public vote. A small percentage of submitted designs are selected for printing and sold through an online store. Creators of the winning designs receive a prize of cash and store credit.  So basically, they are crowd sourcing geniuses along with Digital Savants. 

Back to the tour, the tour launched from Threadleass headquarters in Chicago and heads out west then will head across the country to the East Coast.  Tour Dates/Locations.  Stops will include design shows, music festivals and other high-traffic venues. At the stops the trailer will be open for visitors to engage in art work, music, purchase t-shirts, music, enter contest and hang out. 

The other aspect of this experiential program is the digital/social media mix that includes a micro site, twitter, facebook and location based fun with Gowalla.  The tour will be thoroughly videoed, blogged and tweeted on the social network pages at Facebook, where the company has 132,000 likes, and on Twitter/Threadless, where Threadless has 1.5 million followers.

Monday, June 21, 2010

8 Transformational Leadership Lessons From Seth Godin

This is a post from Hubspot (on their blog) summarizing a recent Seth Godin speech in Boston promoting his book Linchpin.  Admittedly, I am hot and cold on Seth's advice but believe that Seth would agree with me on my approach.  This time the HubSpot members who attended the event summarized key findings and for a first time, I agree with all eight key take-aways from Seth. 
***Thank you HubSpot for digesting this valuable information then presenting to us to absorb.

8 Marketing Lessons From Seth Godin

1. Spamming People Doesn't Work Like it Used To - People who spam others have determined that it doesn't pay for itself like it used to. If you look at companies that are growing (e.g. Zappos), they don't do a lot of advertising. They do just a little bit of advertising to keep their investors happy, but have realized that personalized messages will always do better than spam.

2. People Like Doing What Other People Are Doing - We like to be like each other. People strive to fit in and find their own groups, so marketers who facilitate this will win.

3. Ideas That Spread Win, and Free Ideas Spread Best – Godin explained that he made more money by giving away his book, Idea Virus, than he made on his previous New York Times best-seller. Free ideas create demand, and demand can always be monetized.

4. Remarks Make Something Remarkable - When people comment on something, then it is remarkable. The old model, which focuses on companies making average products for average people, is not remarkable. Companies that aren't remarkable can't grow quickly. By making products worth talking about, then companies can become remarkable.

5. What We Make and How We Make It Has Changed – In today’s economy, people are buying experiences and conversations. Godin provided the example of LittleMissMatched, a company that sells unmatched socks that provide a point of interest and conversation for young girls.

6. You Have the Opportunity to Lead a Tribe - Tribes exist today, and they're looking for leaders. You don't have to have charisma to be a leader. Leading gives leaders charisma. The internet is the ultimate extension of communication to help organize tribes. Don't waste time trying to convert non-fans; instead, work to strengthen existing tribes.

7. Lots of Alternatives Exist - Choices are now rampant, so people or companies that are perceived as the best or the leaders are more successful. People have been trained to be good at a lot of things, but not to be the best at one niche skill. Difficult opportunities are the ones worth doing.

8. Don't Be Afraid to Be Indispensable - Lots of opportunities exist to be a linchpin, but most people and companies are scared of being great and indispensable because it's hard and scary. By overcoming this fear, marketers can become critical to business success.

What was the key takeaway from these few hours? All of Godin’s ideas and books can be condensed into one simple word: Permission. After listening to Godin discuss a variety of subjects, ranging from the current economic revolution to the failures of higher education, one thing is clear. The man is completely obsessed with permission.

The Two Sides of Permission
Godin uses permission in two vastly different ways to address his points. It is clear through books like Permission Marketing and Tribes as well as his talk today that he believes effectively marketing to people in today’s culture requires their expressed permission. An individual or company needs the permission of a group or tribe of people to be able to join and then eventually conduct commerce with the group.

Godin’s other focus of permission is positioned sharply on the other side. While individuals and companies need permission to market products and services outside the company, to make great products, or “art,” as he calls it, employees need to do great work without waiting for permission. He maintains that most people are great at doing what they are told, but not good at solving problems that everyone else is afraid to solve. He believes that successful companies in the future will be filled with employees who don’t wait for permission and instead tackle the tough problems head-on.

Impossible and Perfect

Impossible and perfect are the two biggest principles stopping people from progressing, says Godin. Industries at certain times are perfect. For example, record companies in the 1970s. During this time, demand for their product was huge. They had free advertising through radio and a strong hold on distribution. Today, the record industry is in shambles because its time of perfection has passed.

Problems seem perfect because they can't be solved. Revolutions create opportunities for things that seem impossible. For example, when Henry Ford first sought to mass produce the automobile, it was viewed as an impossible task. The balance between impossible and perfect is what stops individuals and organizations from seeing opportunities in front of them. Godin believes we are in the middle of the biggest economic revolution in history.

He explains that now you don't need a big office building and a large company to create and distribute a product and build a successful business. Instead, he argues that today we need connections and problem solving skills to build great companies. There is no map in this economic revolution. Value today is created by solving a problem no one has solved before. It is easy to copy others, but the challenge is building your own map.

What Points do you agree, disagree or would add?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Diaper Dude goes Experiential Marketing to raise brand awareness

Diaper Dude is a lifestyle and a Brand that was born from the idea that fatherhood doesn’t have to be complicated or un-cool. Diaper Dude, created by Chris Pegula, is a movement that began after the birth of the first of his three children by turning feminine-style diaper bags into ones that dads would want to carry. Pegula noticed that most diaper bags and accessories sold at retail stores were designed with women’s sense of style in mind. Instead of carrying his baby-stuff around in a gym bag or backpack, Pegula created The Diaper Dude for dads. By merging hip styles with functionality, The Diaper Dude appeals to image-conscience men everywhere looking for ease of use.

Diaper Dude is a growing brand within a very competitive industry and knows that in order stand out from the marketing noise they had to launch marketing strategies that put a face to the brand, use creative PR with strong social media.  The result is a brand that is reaching out directly to its ends users with a mobile experiential marketing program that is based on the design of an ice cream truck that is shows up at its retail partner locations. 

The experiential marketing program sends out pre event notices via social media and incorporates social objects (pics, videos, promotion flyers, ect).  The best marketing part is that they give free ice cream at the events.  Diaper Dude is helping today’s dads ease through parenting by letting them have it all “in the bag.”

Check out their growing facebook page for event notices.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Don't hide your Passion, lesson from Los Angeles Laker Derek Fisher & Malcolm Gladwell

At 35 years old, 14 years in the NBA and years of being doubted, Los Angeles Laker's Derek Fisher steps up to take the challenge in the 2010 Playoffs.  After having faced Russell Westbrook in the 1st round, Deron Williams in the 2nd, Steve Nash in the 3rd and now Rajon Rondo in the finals, Derek has proven is toughness, intelligence, work ethic and most of all Passion.  Derek displayed his passion in a post game interview. 

Having a passion for what you do brings to life your drive, ambition and determination.  As marketers we are tasked to deliver through a variety of tools the passion that our brand can bring to the customer who then internalizes this information and experience.  We cannot control their passion but help guide what sometimes is not overt behavior through sharing what others have found passionate about their experience with the product. 

In a lecture from Malcolm Gladwell, he shares several stories about the Beatles, Bill Gates and Paul Allen displaying their belief and passion for what they do.

Passion effects your Behavior, Emotions and Thought.  These three pillars are the bases of what great products, brand strategy and marketing should be based on working with each other to create a total Brand affection.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Digital Marketing Talent Crisis

There is a Digital Talent Crisis happening according to a recent article by Shane Steele of Yahoo.  Shane discusses if the media and advertising industry is going to fully recover and grow in the future we must invest in talent. That begs the question, where is the talent coming from, particularly with the skills and experience needed to keep up with the radical pace of change in the digital age?

There is new digital education program called Boulder Digital Works (, a school with the ambition to produce the world’s best digital creative, business, and technology talent. BDW was formed by the University of Colorado in partnership with MDC Partners, Microsoft, and a number of other companies to address what its founders saw as a pressing need for digital talent and leadership in their own businesses. Their goal – build a digital boot camp to groom educated workers and leaders who move comfortably and intelligently across the disciplines of technology, creative, and business.

Upon reviewing job posting for digital marketing positions the confusion also lies with hiring agencies, managers and companies.  Digital marketing evolves daily with new technologies and transformations including how customers/prospects utilize and adopt the technologies.  Example would be that of eCommerce how years ago people were skeptical and did not trust this process.  Well, times have changed and the numbers of online sales continues to rise. 

Do current digital marketing professionals know how to build trust, create navigation that leads customers to conversion, or how to even drive customers to their sites and so on...

According to BDW they refer to this type of talent profile as “T-Shaped Talent,” or an “Integrated Digital Thinker.” It means that no matter what your specialty (base of the T), be it copywriting, media planning or flash design, in order to be most effective in the workplace today, employees must complement their subject matter expertise with a broad and holistic understanding of how digital technology impacts their business (top of the T). In other words, today’s talent must be fluent in at least one language but also literate in many.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Proctor & Gamble launches direct to consumers eCommerce store

This comes as No surprise that another manufacturer (P&G) is adopting the direct to consumer business model by launching their own eCommerce store   P&G's e-store comes as other package-goods marketers are also ramping up e-commerce efforts.  The store is currently in beta but has a fully integrated marketing campaign that includes a heavy dose of Social Media. 

According to Advertising Age, for the latest venture, P&G is adding touches such as product ratings, shopper feedback forums for users to share tips and links to its Facebook brand fan pages, through which consumers can buy products directly.  Did I just here, Social Shopping?  The e-store is meant to be a "living learning lab" for e-commerce capabilities, the company said in a statement. Online retailing has been a high priority for P&G Chairman-CEO Bob McDonald since he took the company's top job last year.  While P&G today gets less than 1% of sales online, or $500 million, Mr. McDonald has said he sees no reason the company can't increase such sales tenfold.

Manufacturers direct to consumer eCommerce

This business model strategy was attempted during the first big wave but fizzled out with lack of proper technology platforms and tools in addition to bitterness from retailers/dealers.  But now the wave is back (Increase in number of manufacturers request to WCN Group for eCommerce strategy solutions).  *Interesting to note that manufacturers that I had discussions with several years ago who were resistant to ecommerce are now the ones frantically calling. 

Manufacturers who adopt the eCommerce business model will find success this time around because the tipping point for shopping online has been reached (customers are confident).  Ecommerce platforms are universal and most notably, the social media and social shopping (experience) aspect.  Customer will not have to leave their comfort zone in order to shop and purchase products.  As an example, they can stay on Facebook, ask their friends what to buy and for a review, than click and purchase.  It is that easy!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Dairy Queen uses Experiential Marketing with National Road Show

Dairy Queen is celebrating its 25th anniversary of its Blizzard with an Integrated Marketing campaign that will include TV spots, mobile, retail, experiential road show and limited edition Oreo Blizzard cookies.  The limited-edition Oreo Blizzard boxes began appearing in all of Oreo's retail channels, including grocery chains and mass retailers like Walmart and Target in April.

Dairy Queen unveiled a custom-designed Blizzard®mobile that will roll out to 25 cities across the U.S. and Canada, distributing more than 75,000 free new Mini Blizzards, about half the size of a small 12 oz. Blizzard, which will be available in DQ® restaurants in August. The tour, which kicked off in New York on April 8 and 9, will be a high energy celebration around the Blizzardmobile that includes activities, games, music, a chance to win prizes and giveaways of the free Minis.

The entire world can connect with the Blizzardmobile by tracking it online at through photos, videos and blog posts. A complete list of future tour stops and dates is also available on Facebook. Visitors online will also find a series of webisodes starring Blizzard’s first family the Blizzmanns. The webisodes trace the Blizzmanns’ life on the road chasing the Blizzardmobile complete with sing-a-longs, teenage crushes, a run-in with the police and make-up lessons from disgruntled clowns.
In addition, Dairy Queen is hosting several other activities online including photo and video contests. The celebrations and contests will be promoted on, and
The Blizzard Mobile tour also ties in with DQ's ongoing, cause-related support program for Children's Miracle Network of children's hospitals in the U.S. and Canada, bringing an element of further goodwill for DQ and Oreo as its sponsor.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The King of Social Media, Facebook, Facts & Myths 2010

***Facts, Myths and Images provided by Mashable via

Facebook and the use of social media is talked about everywhere we go from TV commercials, billboards, Starbucks and even my parents (who are retired).

Did you know that it takes over 10,000 servers to support Facebooks infrastructure!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Digital Marketing spend rising in 2010

According to a survey by digital firm Datran Media, marketers are expecting improved ad revenues and increased digital spending. 

The company's fourth annual report, which examined the marketing and budgeting priorities of digital marketers, found that 73.6% of respondents believe advertising revenues will increase in 2010.
Marketers are also planning to spend more money on online channels, which they see as effective and measurable, according to the study. The survey found that 93.6% of respondents will increase their budget for digital marketing channels this year, and 72.8% will use audience measurement tools to assess the success of their digital efforts.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Expect 2 Connect - its Social Media, Right?

We now have "Like" buttons every where we visit.  People have social icons on their websites, blogs and social media sites.  Brian Solis unveiled his latest brilliance, "Engage" which as he describes is digital Darwinism.

But wait, what is missing?

The Connection!

People have these social icons everywhere which means "Connect with me" but fail to make the connection.  I have experienced this lately with several people that I read their blog, tweets or LinkedIn post and felt that it would be a good connection (because they have these icons on their site with a follow me, connect with me, ect.) only to have them, not respond at all, "don't know you" (oh, you will!) or send an email saying, "remind me how I know you" - you don't yet, isn't this why you have your "connect with me" social icons on your sites?

The tools are simple - Connect with Me - the next step is to Engage with others.  Yes, I know, the word Engage is the buzz word of the moment for Social Media BUT this is the most important part of the Social Conversation.  How you Engage will be the next post.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Strategies are useless without tactics & tools that meet the demographics

From center of Media Research

Social Networking

The percentage of Americans age 12 and older who have a profile on one or more social networking Web sites has reached 48% of the population in 2010, double the level from two years ago.  The new study reveals that consumer use of social networking sites is not just a youth phenomenon. Personal profile pages are maintained by:

* 78% of teens
* 77% of 18 to 24s
* 65% of 25 to 34s
* 51% 35 to 44s
The study also shows that 30% of Americans age 12 and older, who have a profile on at least one social networking Web site, use those sites "several times a day" compared with only 18% one year ago.
For the first time, more Americans say the Internet is "most essential" to their lives when given a choice along with television, radio, and newspapers;

* 42% chose the Internet as "most essential"
* 37% select television
* 14% choose radio
* 5% said newspapers
While television still leads among those over the age of 45, Internet dominates among younger persons age 12 to 44.

45% of mobile phone owners age 12 and older text multiple times a day. Other segments texting several times a day:
* 75% of teens
* 76% of persons age 18 to 24
* 63% of 25 to 34s
* 42% of 35 to 44s
* 37% of 45 to 54s

Thursday, April 15, 2010

SoBe: Hit or Miss with new Marketing Strategy

What do you think: Hit or Miss

The article from AdAge will provide the background on SoBe's new strategic marketing approach. 

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Don't be afraid, Let them Speak.

I was first going to title this post, "Do you hear what I hear", but went with the other one because this is what I hear from clients, customers and people in general. One of the main reasons the internet works and was created, is for communication between people! Pure, simple and very effective.

Communication (as defined)

1 : an act or instance of transmitting

2 a : information communicated b : a verbal or written message

3 a : a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior ; also : exchange of information b : personal rapport

As the internet developed and businesses figured out that it was a good platform to inform and sale, they brought with them the same business model of corporate MARCOM that has worked (to a degree) for many years. A one-way model of communication talking at people and utilizing interruption marketing techniques does not work. If you read again the definition of communication there is a disconnect between the definition and business implementation.

In a recent article published by Adage (written by Freddie Laker) he discussed 11 predictions for what Social Media look like in 2012. Most notable was that of how Social Media will require reduced acceptability of privacy concerns (1), Search engines will be different with real time search (3) and Ratings Everywhere (7) businesses will need to accept open communication from consumers on their sites.

Wow, can this all be true. Do we really have to communicate and respond to our customers for all to see? YES!!!!

Now let’s see the new model of Communication:

The new model and most important aspect is the "feedback" to the sender. It is a circular process and one that will be viewed by all. Those companies that do not have this option will run the risk of being viewed as un-authentic and having something to hide. Even our Federal Government will now allow for commentary with a more lenient Social Media policy.

Keys for Social Media success:

• Do not run and do not hide

• Create user friendly accessibility to communicate (via Website & social media platforms)

• Incorporate Google Alerts

• Develop a social media policy

• Engage with your customers - you may actually like them.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Experiential Marketing for the Homeless

This was a picture sent from a friend of ours that we had to share because it emulates the essentials of what a true experiential marketing program should contain.
  • Engagement
  • Creativity
  • User experience
  • Natural environmental factors
  • Remembrance
  • Viral
  • Ease of participation
This was one of the most creative experiential marketing examples I have ever seen.  Authentic and real, this man should be hired as a Creative Director.

Experiential Marketing lesson by Forever 21

As Forever 21 continues to rocket into the 21st century, competitors are undoubtedly trying to decode the fast-fashion chain's successful formula.  Low prices? Trendy merchandise that cycles in and out of stores on a daily basis? Super-size stores modeled after the 86,000-square-foot location that recently opened in Cerritos? see image.

Or the fact that all eight of Forever 21's collections are merchandised in separate departments, each with its own visuals. Every current spring trend is covered — tribal ($11.50 belted zigzag tunics), military ($22.80 cropped khaki cargo jackets), florals ($29 baby-floral print lace-up booties) and creative knits ($27.80 crochet dresses).  There's fresh new merchandise every day!

"Forever 21 offers great, trendy merchandise at low prices, and it turns very quickly," said Michael Stone, president and chief executive of brand licensing and consulting firm Beanstalk Group in New York. "The customer likes shopping there more than Wal-Mart, Target and Kohl's because of the experience. It's brightly lit, there's merchandise all over, there's a hip and cool aura."

Forever 21 largely bypasses old media, reaching out to customers and fashion bloggers directly launching a Facebook page (now at 747,000 followers), a Twitter feed (73,000 followers) and a blog, the Skinny, aimed at the Teen Vogue set. 

Chief Marketer Linda Chang, states that, "I love it when people come out of our stores being so happy," Linda said. "You go into some places and buy one item, and come out thinking, ‘Should I have gotten that?' But our customers don't have to feel that way. They can spend $100 and get a ton of cute things. Regardless of what the press says, it's the customers who matter. If they are excited, then we are doing something right."

5 Lessons from Forever 21
  1. All about Customer Experience
  2. Constantly changing environment-mechandise, display, lighting...
  3. Create an Atmosphere that represents your Target Market
  4. Incorporate Social Media to continue the experience.
  5. Clearly defined Brand Image-so customers know who you are instantly.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Marketing Budgets continue to shift to Digital

Marketing dynamics have changed dramatically in the last few years with more people spending time online researching, watching videos, playing games and interacting via social media channels.  In order to not avoid potential and current customers, marketers must learn how to be social (actually communicate) in the digital channel. 

Econsultancy and ExactTarget released a new report recently that states digital marketing will account for 24% of overall marketing spend this year, and 28% of firms are shifting at least some of their overall marketing budgets from traditional to digital channels.

The research was based on a survey of more than 1,000 companies around the world, though the majority were based in the US (45%) or UK (33%). Some key findings include:
* Just under half (46%) of companies say they are planning to increase their overall marketing budget, and a further 42% say they are planning to keep this budget the same as it was in 2009. Only 13% say they are planning to decrease overall marketing budget.

* 64% plan to increase budgets for search engine optimization, and 51% plan to increase budgets for paid search marketing.

* 70% are planning to increase their budgets for off-site social media such as Facebook and Twitter, despite admitting to being “poor” at measuring social media ROI.

* Budget shifts will hurt traditional media spending. Just 17% say they are increasing their print media budgets, compared to 41% who are decreasing spending.
           The most revealing question on the
                                        Digital Shift

What extent company’s marketing and advertising rely on traditional (offline) media versus digital marketing?

          7% Very much focused on Traditional Media & Marketing
        30%  Manly Traditional, some Digital
        22% Equal focus on Traditional & Digital
        25% Many Digital, some Traditional
        16% Very much focused on Digital

According to company respondents, the biggest barrier to digital marketing investment is restricted budget for all types of marketing, cited as a factor by 40% of company respondents. But according to agency respondents, lack of understanding about digital is the biggest impediment. Just under half of supply-side respondents cite this as the biggest problem.

Again, it all depends on your products or services.  I will repeat this forever, there is No one marketing solution for all industries or even businesses in within the same industry.  Don't get me wrong, Digital is great - you can track, interact in real time, meet people you may never had the opportunity to meet and the list goes on, BUT, there are also good reasons to use traditional marketing tools.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ford integrates Marketing online with American Idol Part II

Lead by Ford Autmotive's Group VP-Global Marketing Jim Farley, Ford is moving from interuption marketing to conversation marketing.  Jim Farley is making major pushes towards social media and experiential marketing.  A quarter of Ford's new ad spend is with Digital Media. The efforts have helped boost consideration and positive buzz for Ford and its spiffier new models with improved vehicle quality.

According to a report by auto research website, Ford Motor Co. has become the second-biggest automaker in the U.S. behind General Motors. With this, Ford has overtaken Toyota Motor Corp. (TM) in the wake of Toyota's damaging parade of recalls. 

Now that Ford has leaped ahead of Toyota, how do they continue to build on this momentum.  Bottom line, they are building relationships and listening.  Ford started with the Fiesta movement and have been a long sponsoring partner of American Idol whos demographics are a perfect target for Ford's new initiatives.  In a recent interview with Brian Solis with Jim Farley the question was asked, "Was there an a-ha moment for you when you realized the power of social media"?  Jim responded by saying, "a-ha for me was scion.  I learned that for a brand that people dont know or trust, the company must rely on others to tell the story.  People dont trust big companies, they do trust their friends... as far as the c-suite, either they get it or they dont. Thankfully we do!"

So how much does Ford get it-lets take a look. 
  • Ford home page is links to their social media sites.
  • Home page also has stories with share capabilities and videos.
  • The home page includes links to micosites including with the tag line, Ford is different - Join the Conversation.
  • On the mico site there is a link to Ford Social Networks that easily lays out the variety of social networks to join the conversation including Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Flickr, Scribd, Delicious, Events and Reviews.  
  •  Ford dials it further with specific areas of conversation engagement by customer interest including Ford Latino, Ford racing ect.
Results, the Ford Fiesta movement campaign were sensational. Fiesta got 6.5 million YouTube views and 50,000 requests for information about the car — virtually none from people who already had a Ford in the garage. Ford sold 10,000 units in the first six days of sales. The results came at a relatively small cost. The Fiesta Movement is reputed to have cost a small fraction of the typical national TV campaign.

Lessons from the campaign were eloquently described in an article from Grant McCracken (research affiliate at MIT and the author of Chief Culture Officer)

There is an awful lot of aimless experiment in the digital space these days. A lot of people who appear not to have a clue are selling digital marketing advice (This is so true- I will writing about this soon).   I think the Fiesta Movement gives us new clarity. It's a three-step process.
1. Engage culturally creative consumers to create content.

2. Encourage them to distribute this content on social networks and digital markets in the form of a digital currency.

3. Craft this is a way that it rebounds to the credit of the brand, turning digital currency (and narrative meaning) into a value for the brand.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ford integrates Marketing online with American Idol Part I

Ford Motor Company instantly received my attention during American Idol with their commercial featuring Top 12 contestants and the new Ford Fiesta. I usually cringe during the opening segments on American Idol when the contestants perform together in a musical interpretation of different songs that were once cool then cut to a commercial that is like a scene out of a truly corny family movie with the actors vying to see who can do the biggest fake smile. But, this time was different.

I am truly excited about automotive industry and what innovations are on the horizon.

Quick history refresher: the Automotive industry became complacent governed by "the good ole boys mentality" with an outdated business and marketing model. Ford has been leading the charge with the newly minted Automotive gates by having Scott Monty on Twitter and becoming more transparent as a corporation.

Back to the Ford commercial. So, the American Idol commercials are like running your nails on a chalk board with a 1960’s Mickey Mouse ClubHouse theme. Don’t get me wrong, this commercial had that vibe but the content was different. It first garnered my attention but announcing the new Ford Fiesta,which I wanted to seem then took a step further by showing the contestants supposedly painting on the cars. The commercial promoted the Ford Fiesta give away contest and the different designs by the contestants (some where really cool).

A recent article in Market Daily talked with Connie Fontaine, manager, Ford brand content and alliances, who shared that Ford's goal is not to get as much TV screen time as possible, but rather to drive consideration with Web-based elements so that the brand isn't too obtrusive during the actual show. She further explained that, “we thought it was important to seed the idea with a very strong online integration as well, we want everything we do on air to feel relevant, credible and organic.”

See, I told you, they are listening to the seismic-shift in Marketing, from interruption marketing to inclusion marketing.

Part II of this piece will further the discussion of Ford’s inclusion marketing program by moving online.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mobile Event program that serves a Community

The Long Beach Breathmobile is the newest in the Breathmobile fleet; 10 others are on the road in Southern California. The organization’s mobile clinics diagnose and treat children regardless of insurance status. Medication may also come free.

The California chapter of the Allergy and Asthma Foundation launched the project at USC in 1995 in an attempt to better control asthma in underserved areas. If patients couldn't always get care, the thinking went, then specialists would take the care to them. Since then, the program has expanded within California as well as into Alabama, Arizona and Maryland.

The Breathmobiles park at public schools and public health clinics, but the service is open to any child, regardless of where he or she attends school or the family's insurance status. The Breathmobiles, really RV Winnebagos, are staffed by physicians, nurses and patient care workers. They offer physical exams, allergy skin testing and lung-capacity testing.

At WCN Group, we offer vehicles of all types and custom shapes. Our team will assist with discovering the right vehicle for your mobile experiential marketing program. Call today to discuss your needs.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Microsoft launches Experiential Marketing as CES to introduce new Bing App

Experiential Marketing can utilize a variety of environments and time frames. At CES 2010, Microsoft activated an experiential marketing program to help launch its Bing mobile app. The challenge was how to stand out from the other 2500 exhibitors on the show floor of CES.

If you have been to CES you know how over whelming the experience can be. Not only is it one of the largest per square footage but also most attended trade show with attendance at 110,000! With these types of numbers companies (even Microsoft) struggle to stand out from the crowd. Microsoft commissioned one of their agencies to the daunting marketing task to create an experiential marketing strategy that would over come this challenge.

The agency created a program that solved a couple challenges, capture one-on-one attention and attendee transportation logistics. Getting a cab in Las Vegas takes up to an hour during large trade shows. The experiential program included graphic wrapping 21 passenger shuttle buses and minivans, brand ambassadors on each bus to demonstrate the app and a one acre branded station across from the Convention.

The results from the marketing program included over 8,000 riders, 8,000 Bing app downloads and 15,000 one on one encounters over the three day CES Trade Show.

Questions that I have:
  • Integrating Marketing - how was this integrated with other Microsoft marketing programs.
  • Social Media - was there a hashtag created for the event so that event attendees could have shared during the Trade Show
  • Marketing pre & post event - email, landing page, ect.
  • Marketing Promotions - I would have give each of 8,000 that downloaded the app a promotional item (shirt, bag, ect) to further brand the experiential event beyond the bus ride.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Google Super Bowl Ad "Parisian Love" wins

For the first time in Google's history they entered the Super Bowl ad world in a big way by securing a commercial ad spot during the 2010 Super bowl. A bold move for the search giant, so failing was not an option. Google choose to secure their ad after half time during the third quarter of the game. Google CEO Eric Schmidt announced on his Twitter account, "Can't wait to watch the Superbowl tomorrow. Be sure to watch the ads in the 3rd quarter (someone said "Hell has indeed frozen over") ."

The 52 second ad was a view of their search engine doing what it does best, searching. The Search story followed a person trying to find information for courting a french girl. The Search story included mainly organic search and local search results. Interesting that they did not included paid search results, their bread and butter for revenue. The search results included using the web for definitions, translation and travel information.

"We didn't set out to do a Super Bowl ad, or even a TV ad for search," wrote a bashful-seeming Schmidt in a company blog post. "Our goal was simply to create a series of short online videos about our products and our users, and how they interact ... But we liked this video so much, and it's had such a positive reaction on YouTube, that we decided to share it with a wider audience."

Why this 52 second Google ad won:

  • Branded advertising, "Google" was the name appearing throughout. You knew exactly who the advertiser was as compared to others who you did not.
  • A story was told, you followed the progress and at the end wanted to know how it plays out.
  • Educated on the use of its products, clearly demonstrated why it is easy to use and the many variations that it can be used.
  • Soft sell, no talking or must buy now.
  • Non-bashing, did not say bad things about competitors or why we are the best.

What Google could have done better:

  • Slow it down. For thus that are digital savvy we could follow but still was difficult. I had to watch several times to see all the nuances. For the older demographic that is coming online in droves, there as No way they could have followed.
  • Make this viral by at the end instead of saying "search on" say the story continues here with a link to their Youtube site with the continued story.
  • Include showing the browser arrow scanning the paid search areas both top navigation and side.

Overall, I loved the spot which caught my attention from the other over-produced and played out scripts of the most of the other advertisers.

Share your thoughts here?