Mar 23, 2015

Loving your customer

I was planning on writing a blog post arguing that if you don’t love your customer, all the data in the world won’t make it right. Then I realized that Tyler Douglas, CMO of Vision Critical,  had already explained the concept far better than I ever could. So here’s an excerpt to Tyler’s excellent article for The Economist Group, with a link for your convenience. Enjoy! 

3 ways to love your customer – they know more about the business than you do

by Tyler Douglas

Here are some ways to love your customer that will benefit your business:

Stop seeing customers as (big) data points: Brands are living, ever-evolving entities. To succeed and stay competitive they have to stay nimble, grow and change with the times.Over the last few years, the empowered customer has disrupted the innovation curve and many marketers have mistakenly gotten hung up on optimizing metrics without much context. Yet understanding customers’ true motivation—said differently, the “why” behind their actions—is the first step in knowing their preferences, and in keeping them coming back.

Don’t turn to social media analytics for insight: Companies swim in a plethora of data about their customers, and social media analytics were touted as a way to know customers as individuals versus data points. Over time, however, social media analytics failed to live up to its promise as a panacea for customer-centricity.

Treat customers like they’re part of your business: According to a recent IBM study, second to the CEO, the C-suite cares most about what customers think. Why? Because today, they have the power to influence innovation and drive companywide success. So who better to tell you what customers want than your customers?

I highly recommend you read the entire article. To do so,  visit here. 


Mar 18, 2015

IMC Campaign of the Month: Meineke of Burnsville

Meineke of Burnsville IMC CampaignContinuing my series of monthly highlighted IMC campaigns, this month I’d like to turn our attention to Meineke, or more specifically one Midwest Meineke (Meineke of Burnsville) that put IMC to work with the help of Bluewater.

What makes this particular situation so interesting is that at the same time the Burnsville Meineke was opening, three other locations were opening in the same general area. What this allows us to analyze is how well this particular Meineke performed compared to the other locations, which did not employ IMC to the same degree.

Bluewater are franchise marketing experts, so they have tremendous experience using IMC to help franchise owners succeed. To promote the grand opening of Meineke of Burnsville, they used a combination of direct mail, social media, advertising through banners and Facebook ads and PR (media outreach) to form the foundation of a robust IMC plan. They also had people on the ground managing events and generating word of mouth for this particular Meineke location. (more…)

Mar 16, 2015

Why buying behavior is more important

My newest pair of Warby Parkers

My newest pair of Warby Parkers

There are some dramatic differences between an approach to integrated marketing communications (IMC) and traditional marketing. The one that seems to be the hardest for traditional marketers (and media buyers in particular) to get their smart heads around is this: Buying behavior, not demographics or psychographics, should drive strategy. When you’re working on a synchronized campaign between multiple channels, it’s more important to know how people behave than who they are. 

When marketers really, really get this, remarkable things happen. You may think something has gone viral, when really it’s a well-played IMC strategy at work. Let’s take Warby Parker as an example. Although Eric Markowitz at Inc. wrote that “not spending on unnecessary marketing” was one reason for the company’s 500% growth in no time, that’s not quite right. What they didn’t do was try to launch a brand aimed at a certain consumer. Or maybe they did, and failed. Not being Warby Parker’s CMO, I can’t say.

What I do know is that the first round of editorials Mr. Markowitz mentions in his 2012 article were beautifully timed with social media. An on-the-ground tour of Warby Parker ambassadors the following year was preceded by excellent earned media. Digital marketing buys were clever, and closely tied (especially on Facebook) to consumer behavior.

Here’s the kicker. (more…)

Mar 13, 2015

Connecting Strategies that Lead to Success

Here is an excerpt from my article on the PRSA ComPRehension blog. A link to the full article is below. Enjoy! 

Although most marketers accept that integrating marketing communications is a powerful approach, campaigns today seldom realize the full power of the methodology commonly known as IMC.

Most of us  synchronize our earned and owned media in some way.  Many of us have learned empirically the right combinations of tactics that lead to the most engagement, or the highest landing page traffic. What’s often missing in campaigns is the ability to plan, manage and measure the synergy that occurs as a result of powerful IMC strategies and strong linked tactics.  It’s the acceleration caused by this synergy – the combination of marketing efforts that add up to more than the sum of their parts – that provides the best results.

Synergy looks and feels different in every IMC campaign. The good news is there are common elements to successful IMC campaigns that result in increased synergy.  The first is message alignment. IMC requires a persistent, consistent messaging strategy across channels. A core, or integrated, strategy statement should drive every campaign message. This statement is rarely shared with an audience. It is simple, to the point, and states what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.  For a healthcare practice, it might be something like “We’re here to provide the best care in a safe environment.” An organic food company might use “Delivering the healthiest products to families.” Every single message should be aligned with this basic message.

Read the rest of this article at here

Mar 11, 2015

How to add a human element to your brand on Facebook

Research compiled by Zephoria shows that 42 percent of marketers say using Facebook is critical or important to their business. Moreover, Facebook reported more than 30 million active small business pages in June of 2014. However, people soon learn that just setting up a page isn’t enough; pages need to be active to make a real difference. Faced with this challenge, many business owners choose to be more conservative with their posts, but in doing so, fail to engage and interact with their potential customers.

As a business, connecting with an audience is not as difficult as it might seem. Mashable reports that approximately 70 percent of Facebook’s monthly active users in North America are connected to a local business on the site. To help you navigate the waters, here are a few tips for adding personality to your brand on Facebook; personality that consumers respond to.

Social Marketing

A common mistake is only publishing posts that serve as announcements about their company. But you should know that this form of ‘push’ marketing is ineffective and doesn’t use the social medium of Facebook to its full potential. Facebook is about interaction, so your posts need to be the catalyst for more engagement, rather than just churning out messages with no room for conversation. (more…)

Mar 9, 2015

ProfNet Chat on Brand Journalism

ProfNet Brand Journalism Chat

Earlier this week, I had a great time participating in the @ProfNet brand journalism Twitter chat. I joined journalists and PR professionals from around the world to talk about what brand journalism is and how it’s affecting traditional journalism. See a summary of the chat on ProfNet. I’ve compiled the following key themes that we discussed.

What is brand journalism?

  • Stories written by the brand – about the brand and its industry.
  • Content that increases awareness, promotes and educates about a brand.

How does brand journalism differ from content marketing & native ads?

  • It’s a subset of content & marketing – the storytelling piece.
  • It’s controlled content.


Mar 3, 2015

Revenue Share: An Alternative to Monetizing Your Blog

home-office-336377_1280If you have a successful blog – business or otherwise – chances are you’ve considered monetizing to see some financial ROI from your hard work. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to earn from your blog, and there are many options with which you can earn, from affiliate links to advertising networks of all shapes and sizes. The only problem with monetizing your blog in this way is you may find yourself earning pennies at a time, with high minimum cash-out amounts (i.e. you can only get paid when you reach a predetermined threshold, and even $10 minimum takes a lot of time when you’re earning $.01/click). If your traffic is absolutely insane and your readers are extremely engaged with your blog, though, monetizing this way is a viable option. Word of warning, however: don’t monetize to the point where the ads become annoying to your visitors, or you’ll lose them!

There’s another option to earn with your writing and your expertise, and that is writing for a revenue share site. Often this is a much more profitable proposition.

There are a lot of revenue sharing sites that pay pennies per ad click as well, so you have to look around to find the best opportunity for you. But if you have an established blog, there’s a good chance you can write for revenue share for a larger site that guarantees a rate of pay per article or based on traffic. If you’re writing for a major business blog and they’re guaranteeing you a good rate per traffic, a certain amount of traffic is already built-in, so that’s a pretty safe bet. If they also offer a guaranteed payment per post, even better. Furthermore, the big sites are often syndicated on news aggregators and linked to by other significant sites, all of which equals the opportunity for your post to go viral and your traffic-based earnings to soar. (more…)

Mar 2, 2015

Mother Knows Best: Mom-Owned Businesses on the Rise

mom owned businessMove over Al Capone, there’s a new MOB in town. Mom-owned businesses (MOBs) are reaching new heights with innovative products designed to improve family life. Because moms are constantly seeking new ways to create better lives for their children, success is in large part due to their little muses. And, thanks to a mother’s inherent nurturing abilities, identifying gaps in the market is purely mother’s intuition. Need a little inspiration to kick-start your entrepreneurial endeavors? These three stories are sure to bring out the MOB mentality in you.


Our first mom-owned business: Lynette Damir, RN, CEO and Creative Director of SwaddleDesigns, launched a swaddling renaissance back in 2002. During home visits, Damir noticed a pattern among new parents. It seemed the practice of swaddling had become a long-lost art, and first-time parents were sleep deprived and exhausted because their baby was not swaddled and no one was getting much sleep. On her site, Damir describes how parents consistently asked her to share the secret of the hospital nurses: how to swaddle. Combining her passion for helping others with her medical background and design education, Damir developed the Ultimate Swaddle Blanket. Today, this mom-CEO has the SwaddleDesigns brand in Target stores nationwide. Because the brand only uses the highest quality materials to make its swaddling blankets, SwaddleDesigns has become a highly respectable brand across the industry.

PackIt Personal Cooler (more…)

Feb 27, 2015

IMC Campaign of the Month: Bharatiya Janata Party

"Modi Run" mobile app

“Modi Run” mobile app

Welcome to the first in a series of monthly profiles I’ll be posting to highlight great IMC campaigns, both recent and past.

This month we profile one of my favorites – the IMC magic worked by the Bharatiya Janata Party of India. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was formed in 1951 as an “Integral Humanist” party, which basically means the BJP strives to create an economic model (indigenous to India) that places the human at the center of all concerns. BJP’s presence in India is significant – it’s the largest party represented in parliament and the second largest represented in individual states. In 2014 Nahendra Modi won by a landslide with an IMC camapaign that was modeled on an examination of Justin Bieber’s rise to fame and the Gangnam Style video. There’s even a slideshare of the proposed campaign, which is where I found this example initially.

Political party (BJP) Poll campaign from Ram N Kumar

Why did BJP turn to integrated marketing communications? They realized IMC’s power for increased reach and branding through messaging that appeals directly to their target audience. For example in a given election year, that audience includes a significant youth presence, as the BJP aims to motivate youth to vote.   (more…)

Feb 27, 2015

The IMC Report Card

pencil-308509_640Earlier this month I wrote about ways to determine whether you’re truly doing integrated marketing communications, or IMC. Everyone is doing integrated marketing in some way or another. It’s always a struggle, however, to determine where your priorities lie in terms of really diving into the practice.

I thought it would be fitting to end the month with the IMC Report Card. The IMCReportCard  is a tool I created to help my clients and others figure out how to prioritize their strategies and tactics. It’s a simple way to objectively review where you stand regarding the components that make up the critical success factors for IMC.  Here’s a quick primer to help you “grade” your brand or organization (or someone else’s) on their IMC proficiency.

  • The first questions ask about messaging. You must have a consistent message, but it also needs to be translated for every messaging channel. Do you see a lot of disparate, beautifully worded messages? That means the team was more focused on wordsmithing than on conveying simple ideas of what the brand does, why it does it, and for whom it does it. Sometimes the message is written so beautifully it doesn’t resonate with the target audience. If you’re selling to moms, are you talking to moms in a way that appeals to them? Or are you talking like an industry insider? These are all the kinds of questions I think about when I’m reviewing a company’s messaging.
  • Next, does it look like the company or brand understands how their customers buy? In other words, am I led down a path that clearly leads to a  commitment or conversion when I go to social media, or the website, or any earned or owned media for that matter? Am I directed at all by the messaging?   (more…)
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