Nov 19, 2015

The rise of the dogfluencer, our IMC campaign of the month

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 3.42.11 PMWhen you think of a brand ambassador campaign, you probably think of either a) a Klout (or similar) perk that may garner no substantial reviews in return for the product or b) a disparate smattering of blog posts that become difficult to track and measure, and may have little actual influence apart from inbound links.

That’s because while the concept of brand ambassador is still popular and relevant, determining ROI can be hard. Measurement is a cornerstone of IMC. How do you truly measure the reach of a brand ambassador campaign apart from determining which influencers send the most traffic? Things become a lot easier, and a lot more powerful, when you add additional channels like social to the mix.

That’s why the #DysonDogs campaign is  our IMC Campaign of the Month.

#DysonDogs, on the surface, may seem like any other brand ambassador concept. They’ve enlisted influential dogs – i.e. dogs with significant following on blogs, video, social media, etc. – to talk about their vacuums. Instead of leaving it up to the influencers (let’s call them “dogfluencers,” because why not?) to spread the word through their own networks of readers, followers and friends, Dyson gave them a good outlet to voice their opinions about the product – the #DysonDog hashtag campaign.

#DysonDog exists wherever hashtags work. A quick search of Twitter and Instagram, the obvious networks for the job, shows a plethora of pups posing with their new Dyson vacuums, along with grateful and pretty glowing reviews from their owners. Beyond dogfluencers, Dyson also capitalized on the #DysonDog hashtag to let people tag photos of their dogs with the vacuum’s grooming tool at a “grooming parlor” set up at special events, like the Crufts Dog Show, one of the largest in the world. You may have noticed our IMC Campaign of the Month feature often involves live events. They really work, and yet are so often overlooked by brands in the digital era where everything is expected to be served up on a screen.

Along with the outreach to ambassadors and dogfluencers, Dyson created an easy-to-navigate, highly functional landing page for their vacuums to showcase the products and their effectiveness on dog hair. The landing page prominently features video, a cute advertisement that shows the vacuum handling the toughest messes dog owners encounter. Any time video ads are incorporated in a marketing campaign, their signal can be boosted beyond their initial reach on television, YouTube or anywhere else they may be displayed. People really like to see products in action, and Dyson has done this – as well as tug at the heartstrings of dog lovers who can relate to the circumstances in the video. All in few effective seconds that won’t lose anybody’s attention.

The end result of this tour de force of brand ambassador, social, event marketing and video advertising is a campaign that took on a life of its own as proud pet owners tagged #DysonDogs even when not compensated to do so in any way. Dog owners are part of a large culture online, and making your brand at home with that culture can send your signal viral. Unplanned messages like those in the Dyson campaign are truly the holy grail of IMC.

By appealing to dog owners in places like dog shows and blogs or Twitter accounts with significant audiences, Dyson created something other dog owners wanted to join. Their vacuums have always had a sexy appeal; they’re sort of the equivalent of Apple’s electronics, only in the realm of picking up dirt and dander. Now vacuums like the V6 Absolute  are becoming increasingly well known as a solution to common cleaning problems for pet owners, but desirable for more than just their function. The company has managed to brand Dyson Dogs as true dogfluencers, so the everyday dog owner wants to join the #DysonDog movement, too.

Disclaimer: My dog, Bart the Dumpster Dog, is a dogfluencer sponsored by Dyson. Follow him on Twitter.

Bart the Dumpster Dog

Bart the Dumpster Dog

Nov 12, 2015

Building Personas for Public Relations

Personas for Subaru turned into a major cause marketing campaign.

Personas for Subaru turned into a major cause marketing campaign.

Now that we’ve discussed using personas for PR, let’s talk about how you create them. Years ago, I worked with a small Subaru dealer. Due to geographic restrictions from another dealer nearby, we were limited in what we could do for unique messaging. Most of the ads went to “a Subaru dealer near you.” It was my job to create an integrated campagn to draw customers to THIS dealer without breaking any of the franchise rules.

I began to observe Subaru drivers. Although they were quite disparate in terms of age, gender, and ethnicity, they shared a couple of common behaviors. One group I nicknamed the “sporty” group. I found that a huge number of Subaru drivers in the area were both cyclists and cross-country skiers. So my first persona included the “sporty couple,” very outdoorsy and active. I also found through casual surveying of this group at a cycling event that they were very environmentally conscious and voted with the Democrats.

Another group of customers I labeled the “dog rescuers.” These were mainly women who were passionate about the humane treatment of animals and rescuing dogs in particular. These women typically were also involved in charity work, sometimes for animal rescue sometimes for others.

I used these two personas to build my strategies which were a combination of events, PR and online marketing. We supported the local humane society, offered cars to any local 5K’s that needed them, and sponsored all the local cycling and cross-country races we could find. All of these events were carefully synchronized with online messaging, relevant content on blogs and news stories for the charities. As a result, the dealership business exploded. One woman even drove from South Dakota to Minnesota as she said “because you helped the dogs.” Eventually, Subaru noticed that other dealers were having similar success with this type of approach around the country. You may be familiar with their “Share the Love” program every fall. That program is a direct result of projects like mine in Minnesota.

Let’s assume we’ve built a case here. What is the process, then, for creating your personas? Here is how I go about it. Remember that my clients do not have huge budgets. This doesn’t have to be a months-long process and please, don’t just use quantitative data. Use your eyes, and your ears and the power of simple observation to create these as well. (more…)

Nov 9, 2015

Using Personas for Public Relations

If you’ve spent any time in the advertising industry, you are familiar with the use of personas. Personas have not been as popular in communications work but they should be.  If we believe Gartner Group that by the year 2020 75% of the customer experience will occur before a direct brand interaction occurs, then we all should get serious about personas.

What is a persona, in the first place? A persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer. Personas are typically based on real data about customer demographics and behavior, along with educated speculation about their personal histories, motivations, and concerns, and values. The information used to build personas comes from surveys, online and social media analytics, past customers and plain observation.

Before we get too far into how to create a persona, it’s important to understand why we use them. Personas create reference. They create a target audience representation that helps us brainstorm and vet new ideas, test messaging for alignment and predict behavior. In some cases, they can also provide the foundation for eventual advertising but this is not their primary use. Perhaps the most famous persona of all? Betty Crocker. In fact, surveys still show that about 50% of people in America think that Betty Crocker was a real person.

There’s a bigger reason why personas are becoming more important and that goes back to the Gartner statistic. (more…)

Nov 4, 2015

Use IMC to explode your results – a PRSA preview





IMC doesn’t have to be implemented from a top-down perspective. You don’t have to start at the beginning of a campaign nor does it have to be labeled an IMC campaign at all. You can infuse some IMC flavor into a communications project at any step of the way. I’ve found that many public relations pros are already doing IMC without even thinking about it. Consciously understanding the things you’re doing that help the channels work together only makes it stronger. It also helps you figure out ways to add even more synergy between those channels. And synergy is the magic that makes IMC so powerful.

In IMC, we regularly get these kinds of results:

  • 40-50% email open rates
  • Site traffic increases of 50-75% within the first 60 days
  • Significant increases in targeted impressions

The main ways to infuse IMC into a communications campaign include:

Audience Behavior – Forget about demographics. You need to learn the behavior of your targets so you can influence them accordingly. This matters whether you’re talking to journalists, influencers, consumers or others.

Integrated Strategy Statements – Alignment is key if you’re trying to influence others to the behavior you want. Creating a foundational statement that lies underneath all of your messaging ensures alignment.

Cross-channel Strategies – Strategies should not be designed to fit within a particular messaging channel. All of the best campaigns include strategies and messaging that can be translated between channels.

Synchronizing Tactics – Tactics can be synchronized and linked to include sequences of two, three, four or more tactics. Linked together, tactics are MUCH more powerful. You need to become conscious of the tactics you’re already linking, and work to make them even more powerful. Just like a developer has his or her own code toolkit, you need your own linked tactic toolkit.

Join me at PRSA’s International Conference on Monday, May 9th at 5PM to learn more ways to supercharge your communications practice.

Expert Express – Using Personas for PR Purposes 3:45

Creating Powerful IMC Strategies: From Strategy Statement to Synchronized Tactics 5-6pm


Nov 3, 2015

The Next Generation of Customers Wants to Keep Things Simple

Row of five friends using cellular phones smilingToday’s consumer is more tech-savvy than ever before. But that doesn’t mean they see themselves as programmers or developers. They are more like enlightened users.

Smart businesses will recognize this bright line between comfort and expertise when engaging with customers. The burden is on sales and customer service agents to quickly understand what a customer needs and offer viable solutions.

Keep KISS Alive for Your Customers!

While we can’t say if your customers are nostalgic for glam rock, we are pretty sure that the old KISS method applies more than ever today. So yes, keep it simple, sir.

The definition for simple has changed quite a bit. Many customers today use tools their grandparents couldn’t possibly have imagined. But we may have reached a saturation point, particularly for these consumers who have weathered the tech revolution and have had enough. They don’t want to “learn” a new site tool or download an app to finish a task. It’s time to stop burdening customers.

Website designers are particularly sensitive to the concept of responsive design, which is the practice of ensuring a website works on all kinds of platforms and systems. “Web design and responsive design are the same thing,” writes web developer John Polacek. We’re almost there.

Sites that rely heavily on web orders, like for example, do themselves and their customers a huge favor by looking the same when viewed on a desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone–even a nonstandard Windows phone. There’s something to be said for keeping the design simple and steady. It’s readable, scalable (by dragging), and easy to navigate. The only pop-ups should be for discount offers or a request to download your free app.

Technology Should Not Require More Learning


Oct 27, 2015

Are You an Authentic Blogger?

authentic blogIf you’ve been blogging for a while, you remember that thrilling moment when you realize someone is actually reading what you’re writing. Maybe a few comments appear. Perhaps your blog URL gets retweeted by a kind friend. Or maybe yours just went viral all of a sudden.

For me, blogging has been a slow burn.  Being syndicated has helped grow my blog traffic, but for me the  moment came the first time I realized I had a “fan.” That’s also the exact time when I began to struggle with authenticity.  I started pandering for traffic and stopped writing from the heart. I forgot my mission in the pursuit of popularity. And like all bloggers, I had to learn the ultimate lesson. Your writing has to be authentic to survive. I had lost my authentic voice.

In hindsight it was a great lesson. The more I forget about pleasing people, the more popular my blog gets. When I think about it there were several signs that I missed along the road to fakiness. Hopefully you can learn from this hindsight and avoid making the same mistakes I did.

Here is a checklist to make sure you’re being authentic in your own work. More than a couple yes answers to these questions might be a red flag that your authenticity could be suffering:  (more…)

Click thumbnail to enlarge
authentic blog
Oct 19, 2015

4 Tips for Using IMC in Nonprofit Communications

Value-based messages delivered with consistency and persistency over time essential to develop fruitful relationships with would-be donors, volunteers and influencers. These relationships need to be in place well before the ask. Integrated marketing communications (IMC) synchronize all your marketing tactics together, accelerating their performance and expanding their effectiveness.

Here are some tips you can use to start implementing IMC in your nonprofit communications:

1. An integrated strategy statement (ISS) is the foundation of every nonprofit brand message. Every nonprofit should have one. An ISS aligns your message consistently across all communication platforms (ad, direct marketing, social media, e-mail) but allows you some flexibility in translation so it can be made appropriate for a specific platform or channel. For example, the Sierra Club’s foundational message is, “Explore, enjoy and protect the planet.” This message is adaptable across all platforms because it is concise and flexible, yet easily interpreted.

2. Using one voice is imperative. Creating visuals and messages that translate across platforms and using them consistently can help turn your nonprofit into a household name. This can be done simply, for example creating a unique hashtag that draws consistent and repeated recognition to your brand.

3. Use the results from a recent marketing tactic as a baseline, then try linking in another tactic to see if your results improve. For example, measure the open rate of the e-newsletter you are currently sending. Before the next issue goes out, post notices on social media a couple days in advance and suggest your followers sign up to receive it. Then measure the new subscribers, as well as the open rate, and look for increases.

4. Create landing pages for all campaigns that are not part of your site’s navigation system and are not donation pages but still provide value to your audience. This could be a curated set of resources, a survey or anything else they might find useful or interesting. On these landing pages, link back to your latest donation drive, to your e-newsletter sign-up or to wherever your site houses information about the role you hope they will fulfill (member, donor, student or volunteer).

Implementing effective IMC tactics requires patience. Without an integrated message, you risk going for the ask too early, losing out on establishing relationships with key constituents.


Oct 13, 2015

6 Reasons Why You Need a Video Budget in 2016

For a lot of writers (like me) video is the last big frontier. Creating and producing a good video may seem challenging. Finding a vendor is even harder. I’ve had quotes for the same video proposal that have ranged from $750 to $20,000. For the exact same thing.  Don’t even get me started on my “dream” video producer who included a guy picking his nose in the final cut. (I know, you get what you pay for.)

We could go on and on (call me, I will!) about the challenge of video production. But the numbers all show that it is an unavoidable, and arguably the most important, component of your content marketing and IMC overall strategy. Here are 6 reasons why you need to have a video budget in 2016:

  1.  According to a study by Cisco, by 2017 video will account for nearly 70% of all traffic on the Internet.  You already know how powerful it is for SEO, at least I hope you do. In just a year or so it will be the dominating force for Internet traffic.
  2. A Regalix report on the State of B2B Marketing found that  78% of survey respondents identify videos as the most leveraged content type.
  3. In his Forrester report How Video Will Take Over the World Dr. James McQuivey says that video content is worth 1.8 million words per minute. (IdeaBlog did a nice breakdown of how he got to that number.)
  4. Forbes article stated research that 59% of executives would rather watch video than read text.
  5. Online video now accounts for 50 percent of all mobile traffic and up to 69 percent of traffic on certain networks, according to ByteMobile.
  6. More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month, spending more than 4 billion hours watching videos.

Statistics like these and others show that video is a revolution for small business and B2B marketing. If you don’t have it, you’ll get crushed. Figure out a way to incorporate video into your marketing, or at least your SEO strategy in 2016.  You’ll see results immediately.

My friend Buddy Cohen describes the need for video beautifully in this video. (Be sure to check out the drone shots, they’re awesome.)

Oct 8, 2015

4 Things Boo and Grumpy Cat Know About marketing

Grumpy Cat memeWhen it comes to the Internet, cute critters like Grumpy Cat and Boo the Pomeranian reign supreme. It’s not just the adorable factor that gets the attention – and money – of legions of fans. Behind Grumpy and Boo are clever, well-orchestrated IMC campaigns that have propelled them beyond the fame of memes and viral videos to global stardom resulting in books, calendars, stuffed toys and most important, revenue. 

Most Internet-famous pets come from humble beginnings, like an unassuming YouTube video, a #CatsOfInstagram Instagram account or a casual Facebook post. Some enjoy 15 minutes of fame and fade into the scenery. Others enjoy long-term success, but only with help from marketing and communications tactics. Here are the IMC secrets that have kept both Grumpy and Boo top of mind in this cluttered pet market.

1. Traditional public relations coupled with social media.

Grumpy Cat would not be the sensation she is without an incredibly strong social media presence, coupled with enough PR savvy to launch a media tour including office visits at outlets like Buzzfeed. Not long after she gained popularity online, she was front page news in The Wall Street Journal and New York magazine. She’s also been a star on the stage of major events like SXSW, reminding us that being “on the ground” is still an important part of the mix. Boo the Pomeranian, aka “The Cutest Dog in the World,” is another great example of IMC in action.

2. Product associations. (more…)

Oct 5, 2015

5 Reasons To Use a Project Management Tool for your Next Marketing Campaign

5 reasons to use a project management tool for your next marketing campaign. more sign pointing to the convergence of IT and marketing is there are increasingly more communications professionals interested in project management training or even Project Manager Development Program (PMDP) certification. It’s no secret that integrated marketing involves a level of detail beyond most traditional campaigns. Multiple messaging channels, diverse audiences and the need for real-time engagement and an enhanced customer experience all contribute to a greater need for project management skills.

Running a successful integrated marketing communications (IMC) project requires sophisticated planning, and implementation mechanisms are challenging, and time-consuming, to create manually. Learning and adopting a strong online project management tool into an integrated communications practice can be the difference between a good marketing campaign and a great one.

Here are five reasons why project management tools make sense, particularly for integrated marketers.

  1. Project management tools require the design of a careful plan. Project management and business solution technology is what forces marketers to think about the goals that need to be accomplished during the campaign, not just at the end. These tools (and the project overall) are much more efficient if tasks are broken down into manageable increments, usually those that can be accomplished in two weeks or less. Better planning means a better campaign.
  2. Complex integration is automatic within a project management tool. With IMC, timing is everything. Synchronizing an integrated marketing campaign requires paying careful attention to the sequence of components. However, IMC is also about understanding thedependencies between those components. Examining a project from both its linear progression, as well as its interdependencies, can be a complex task if done manually. The right project management tool will handle this automatically and allow more time to test those dependencies and sequences to determine what works and what doesn’t.
  3. Online collaboration within a project management tool delivers immediate communication to team members. Project managers (and let’s face it, modern marketers are just that) need to know who’s on track with their tasks and, more importantly, those who are behind. An online project management tool enables managers to quickly track progress without having to waste time and energy chasing down status reports. This kind of early warning helps balance the task load and eliminate risk.
  4. Project management tools store the latest information. Important documents like content/frequency charts, editorial calendars and other materials can be immediately updated, shared and saved in one location. The ability to log into an online dashboard to access the latest versions can be a lifesaver and helps keep all team members on the same page – sometimes literally.
  5. Reporting is simple with a project management tool. Clients and superiors might request status updates on short notice. The ability to quantitatively report that progress easily helps provide accurate, professional status reports without a lot of spreadsheet updating or writing.  Overall status can be ascertained at a glance with a good project management tool so you’re not left scrambling at the last minute.


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