Archive for the 'Branding' Category

Corporate Uses of Social Media

While some companies are still trying to figure out how to involve their brand or company in the social media landscape, others have a large amount of resources dedicated solely to this vehicle. One such company, Southwest Airlines, is using Twitter to alert travelers of flight delays and last minute availability on flights.

Not only are corporations using social media tools to promote their brand and events and stay top of mind, but many are also using it as a means of managing customer service. Companies such as Zappos, Comcast and HR Block cite scalability and ease of management as huge advantages for using this medium ( Using one porthole keeps customer complaints under control – they can be responded to quickly and directly, and companies can even mitigate complaints by communication with consumers proactively.

Companies that use social media platforms as part of their customer service efforts often don’t sit back and wait to be directly contacted. They use alerts to monitor conversations surrounding their brand, and often will respond to negative comments through customer service identities in an attempt to keep customers happy.  Some companies, such as Trip Advisor , do this by posting responses to negative customer reviews, while other companies are using services such as Dialogix to monitor social media conversation and sediment and aggregate the information to keep track of key influencers.

While many larger companies have seemed to “master” the use of social media, others are still left wondering how they can leverage this growing medium.  The recent Permission TV video seminar on “Building an Audience in the Digital Age” and Scott Kirsner’s recent book, “Fans, Friends & Followers” provide a few great tips to bear in mind:

  • You don’t have to leverage every social media vehicle; find one that helps you best connect with your audience.
  • Build a presence and use it to engage followers, customers, etc. with special promotions – and don’t forget to ask for feedback.
  • Find the right voice for your social media efforts; a passionate employee is best in this role, not necessarily the most senior.
  • Keep it up! Starting to use a social media site and then dropping the ball does nothing for brand image.

Good luck in your social media involvement and branding efforts, and until next time, keep tweeting!

— Posted by Danielle Millerick


Advertising Signs of the Times?

It’s no secret that the economic climate of the past 10 months or so has wreaked havoc on some of the world’s most well-known brands. Car companies are filing for bankruptcy, banks are losing their minds, retailers are consolidating or downright closing shop, and restaurants are offering deal menus out the wazoo.

Here’s a look at how some brand marketers are, in one way or another, taking advantage of the recession to prove that less is more to stay afloat in these tough times. Some ads are funny, some are touching and some are outright ridiculous. So ridiculous I couldn’t event include them (i.e., a Victoria’s Secret ad about how less clothing is one good benefit from the down economy…come on!).

Allstate “Back to Basics”

Cap Gemini Ernst & Young “Depressed Economy”

Domino’s “Bailout”

Dunkin’ Donuts “Belt”

Etrade “The Economy”

GM “Reinvention”

iPhone Magic Wallet App

Target “Brand New Day”

— Posted by Melissa Coyle

Off the Wagon. The Social Media Bandwagon, that is.

Today’s iMedia Connection featured a great contributed piece called “Six Stupid Marketing Mistakes.” The article made many interesting points, but there is one over arching theme that really applies to B2B marketers: Too often, companies try to jump on the bandwagon and execute marketing efforts without really thinking about if it’s the right thing to do. This is especially true in today’s “We’re (fill in the blank) 2.0! It’s gotta be interactive! Let’s start a social network! There is no such thing as oversharing!” world. But in reality, marketers need to know when to embrace a trend, and when to not get on the wagon at all.

The Facebooks and Twitters of the world weren’t started with us in mind, but they’ve quickly evolved to be a powerful marketing tool – for some. But just because these tools work for one brand, doesn’t mean they are appropriate for yours. And if you are going to use them, use them the way there were meant to be used!

For example, there are a lot of brands using Twitter as a communication vehicle (don’t believe me? Just check out this far from complete list!). This can be an effective tool, but when used the correctly. Some brands set up Twitter accounts months ago, and have not made a single update since. Or tweat about irrelevant subjects not related to their brand or their space. Or when they do, only broadcast one-way messages like “We just launched anew website.” Imagine the negative impact this might have on a brand’s reputation!

The bottom line is that many marketers treat social media as a short-term campaign, but it should be thought of as a long-term commitment and a business strategy. If you’re building your own network, it better be adding value and offer something that the big guys don’t. If you’re using Twitter, YouTube, Facebook or others as a marketing tool, make sure you’re using them for the right reason, in the right way and talking to the right audience.

Brand marketing and power of aspirational messaging

(Photo credit: Flickr DJBrianE)

As a marketer, I have been watching the development and execution of Obama marketing campaign with awe. This presidential campaign was the first in my memory to be marketed as if it were a corporate brand. Everything from the backdrops on stage to the well-chosen typeface on the signs held by fans has been just right. The use of the Obama logo was also powerful. In fact I didn’t realize I had been seeing a logo, until I saw it spray-painted on someone’s lawn with no supporting text, and immediately knew its meaning.

Another key to the success of this campaign, as a brand, was their aspirational messaging. The Obama campaign sold hope and change, not a man or a simple solution. They aimed to inspire others to look higher and dream big. The sign I saw held by supporters most frequently read “Change we can believe in”, with a subtle “Obama 08” at the bottom.

It’s often hard to build aspiration into a marketing campaign, and we can often get lazy and just settle for “motivational” or “actionable”. This success story, while perhaps not directly applicable to your work, should motivate you to get back to basics. What are you marketing, what is the value? Is there value? What does your brand aspire to be or to provide? How can you communicate that effectively? Does the name you just chose for your client’s new company really aspire to something? Can you back that up?

I have to admit, in full disclosure, that my interest in the Obama campaign reaches far beyond marketing. To me, this election represents a shift in the American psyche; it represents new opportunities for my husband, and his family in Haiti. Most of all, it represents an America that I’ve always hoped was possible for my 6-month-old daughter. My vote was for her.

— Posted by Liz Moise

Goodbye ROI, and Other Marketing Lessons

I took a rare day off from client work yesterday to attend Tech Target’s Annual Online ROI Summit for technology marketers. Overall the event was a great one, and I thought I’d share the “top lessons” I took away from the various panels and sessions.

  • Goodbye ROI. There is a move away from thinking about marketing as it relates to return on investment. Instead, marketing efforts should be measured based on ROMO, or return on marketing objectives. This may mean did the campaign meet lead goals, pipeline goals, conversions of leads to opportunities, etc.
  • The death of the marketing blitz. Gone are the days of big to-do’s around product launches and huge campaigns. Instead, marketers should think of – and measure – campaigns in terms of long-term, long tail approaches. Remember the 20/80 rule: 20% of your response will happen immediately, while the other 80% will happen over the long term.
  • Bloggers are the influencers. More and more, IT buyers are depending on blogs as resources instead of traditional media, and advertising on blogs is now out-performing traditional online advertising.
  • Key phrases, not words. Increasingly, IT buyers are using long phrases in order to narrow down search results and get more specific, relevant results. Effective search strategies will now focus on 3+ word phrases and negatives, instead of key words. Think “server consolation in an all-Linux environment and not Windows” instead of just “server consolidation.” Also, companies should think of paid search as a way to fill in the gap and complement their organic search efforts.
  • Match the sales process. Think about lead generation in terms of different stages of the buying cycle. Your content type and topic should target the buyer at each stage. At the “awareness” stage, your best bet is a whitepaper that addresses a problem and provides an overview of the landscape. At the “interest” stage, editorial content pulls best (with a 2x higher CTR over vendor-produced content), so focus on editorial Webcasts or podcasts. The “decision” stage is the time to introduce trials, demos and specific solution assets. Another interesting tidbit: existing prospects are more likely to be pulled in by a vendor asset, while new leads are likely to be pulled in by editorial content.
  • CIOs are busy. OK, so that’s not a new concept, but what may be somewhat surprising is that they admittedly aren’t doing any of the research themselves when it comes to evaluating new technologies and vendors. They rely on their staff to do the research and present the relevant info and short-list of vendors to them, so make sure you’re marketing to the lower-level IT staff! And, when you are marketing to the CIO, make sure your content is short enough that they can read it or listen to it during their commute.
  • Don’t over market! Clean up your database frequently to remove inactive prospects and distinguish between folks that are further down the pipeline. Don’t be afraid of “do not market” lists and segment your lists so that you’re not over marketing!

I’ll end with my favorite quote of the day: “If you can’t measure it and you can’t repeat it, then it probably shouldn’t have been done in the first place!” My second favorite? “Sales is the consumer of marketing’s leads, so work closely with them!”

2008: B-to-B Marketing Preview

It comes as no surprise that b-to-b marketers plan to increase their spending online and decrease print advertising in 2008. What may surprise folks, however, is that spend on direct mail and events is forecasted to rise in 2008.

We’re finding this to hold true with our own clients, too. I think this is because, in our technology-driven lives, we welcome a chance to re-connect with folks in a tangible, one-to-one way. Whereas maybe three years ago direct mail effectiveness was on the decline, folks are so overwhelmed now with email and online banter that they are starting to glaze over those and once again pay attention to what’s coming in the mail, especially if the creative is eye-catching and the offer relevant. And as great as virtual tradeshows are, you can’t beat the chance to pitch your product or service face-to-face at an event. Besides, we wouldn’t want to put the tchotchkes vendors out of business. 😉

In other forecasting news, the same study found that two-thirds of b-to-b marketers plan on increasing their overall marketing budgets – largely because they also plan on embarking on new campaigns. And, in terms of what online areas marketers will invest in, Website, Webcasts, email, search and video leads the pack. Finally, despite all of 2007’s hype around social media, only 20% of marketers are currently using it as part of their strategy and 69% are not planning to increase spend in this area.

Out: The New In?

Standard beliefs hold that online ads are more effective when they are “in-context”, or placed near relevant content. For example, perhaps you’re more likely to pay attention to an ad for a particular brand of paint if it’s next to an article about home improvement instead of next to an article about fashion. Well, according to new research from Yahoo!, that widely held belief may be false.

Yahoo! and MediaVest studied a group of consumers passionate about a particular topic (in this case, food), and found that ads displayed out-of-context had virtually the same impact as ads shown next to related content.

This data supports proof that targeting the right people may be more important and effective that targeting the right content, and new tools are making this level of targeting easy to achieve. It also supports the idea that advertising in nontraditional outlets may not provide the high quantities of response, but the quality of response and conversion to sales may be higher. So, the next time you want to run an ad promoting your new software, you might look beyond the typical technology trades. I’m not saying it makes sense for software vendors to advertise in Dog Fancy, but perhaps it’s time you look beyond Informationweek and consider that Jane Smith, avid reader of Conde Naste Traveler and CIO of a major Fortune 1000 company, may be your ideal customer.

Read more in this week’s AdWeek.

— Posted by Melissa Coyle

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