Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

Is being a verb a good thing?

July 28, 2014

Fifteen years ago you couldn’t “google” anything, you used facial tissue and lip balm, you photocopied your paperwork, you put a bandage on your boo boos, and you digitally altered photos to reduce red eye and crop out your exes.  You definitely didn’t use Kleenex and Chapstick, Xerox anything, wear a Band-Aid, and Photoshop your new headshot.

So, when did these products become (what some are calling) verbified or treated as common nouns and is it a good thing?

I want you to think, as a marketer, do you want your company name to become a verb or common noun?  Some think that is the highest honor bestowed on a brand.  Why wouldn’t they? Your company name is so integrated into the social culture that it is synonymous with the product you are selling.  Millions of people say your company name everyday.  Great marketing, right?  Well…it might not be everything it’s cracked up to be.  For example, it pushes a company to be a bit more strategic with their efforts.  Imagine your company is synonymous with a certain product and then you want to expand your product offerings.  You must now decide if you would like to utilize the current brand image of the products you’ve been selling in order to push the new product, or create a new product line under a different name.  When Clorox picked up Hidden Valley they didn’t want their company associated with ranch dressing, so they kept the name Hidden Valley.  Can you imagine the public reaction with an ad campaign selling “New Ranch Dressing by Clorox.” Yikes.

When product names become common nouns or verbs it leads to genericide, which is a nightmare for the legal department.  Essentially, it puts your product name into a position where it no longer has any legal or trademark protection.  Now, the product concept, imaging, and name that you’ve worked so hard to develop has no legal standing.  Trademark expert at Georgetown University, Rebecca Tushnet, said the risk of genericide is so low, the benefits outweigh the risk.  Is that a risk that you are willing to take?

Perhaps one of the most apparent verbified companies is Google.  How do they feel about it?  They might not be in love with the idea of Google becoming synonymous with searching the internet.  According to the New York Times, they have created wording on their policy page that says “Google” is not to be used as a noun or verb, only as a adjective.  They prefer you say “Google Search Engine.”  However, dictionary.com defines Google as “searching the internet for information.” So you can google without using Google.

What do you think?  Is it in a company’s best interest to become a common noun or become verbified?  Is it the highest honor, or a detriment to a company’s brand image?

On a World Stage

July 3, 2014

My siblings and I grew up playing soccer. For us, every weekend was packed with tournaments and practices.  I was probably the least athletically inclined one out of the three of us, but I always found immense joy watching or playing soccer.  For me, the 2014 FIFA World Cup is no different.

The FIFA World Cup is a totally unique experience, especially for Americans. First, the United States is an underdog, which provides a new perspective. Second, with the exception of the Olympics, where else can you find an event that caters to the world’s population? Soccer players leave their club teams behind and compete against team members to honor their country. It is simply an amazing event.

The 2014 World Cup has garnered a great deal of social media popularity, with CNN saying that it is becoming the biggest social media event in history.  So far, 90% of the world has been engaged in these social media conversations.  Soccer superstars have taken to Twitter to promote the event and garner media attention.  Cristiano Ronaldo, the second highest paid athlete in the world, comes in at number one in The Top 15 Social Networking Superstars of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. It doesn’t stop with just athletes.  Teams are creating hashtags for individual games so those that cannot watch the event live can be kept update on the action.  The United States Men’s National Team coach, Jurgen Klinsmann, wrote fans a “get out of work” note to show support for the USMNT, which has appeared on Facebook and other social sites.  (In my opinion it was well deserved after the comments he made about the team prior to their first game.)  The USMNT is taking a page from the marketing playbook and has gone to great lengths to unite the US fans by telling stores of all 23 USMNT players on their YouTube channel.  So far, the use of  social media has spread far and wide, but the strategies of each platform have (so far) been very thought out.  The graphics and storylines for each area fit the medium, but are always reinforcing the overall message of  “One Nation. One Team”.  I always find it disappointing when you see regurgitated information across multiple platforms that doesn’t fit the language or context of the platform.  So far, IMC plan for the 2014 FIFA World Cup has appeared effective and very well thought out.

Media and social media presence around the World Cup has been amazing, but the World Cup provides unique challenges for marketers.  The first issue lies with the very thing that makes the World Cup so successful.  The World Cup is a world event, which makes advertising space much for valuable.  Additionally, there are no commercial breaks during the halves.  Each half is 45 minutes of continual play, which means there is only ad time before the event, after the event, and during half time.  With the events in Brazil this year, there have been water breaks added to games at the discretion of the referee when it is warmer than 86 degrees F.  The trouble with banking on ad space during this time is that it is not guaranteed.  So, much of the advertising time is eaten up by official sponsors and companies with a budget large enough to get in the game.

Even with limited ad space in the World Cup and a small advertising budget, Puma has figured out how to get attention without sacrificing their entire ad budget.  If you’ve watched the World Cup you may have seen several players with mismatched, surprisingly colored shoes.  Puma has released Tricks – a pair of one pink and one blue shoe.  They’re very noticeable on the feet of several world-level athletes such as Mario Balotelli and Yaya Touré.  The shoes have many advantages, but the largest one being the media attention they’re getting during the World Cup without paying for the ad space.  Viewers can look at the shoes for a minimum of 90 minutes and Puma’s ad budget is saved for advertising after the World Cup, closer to the back-to-school time frame.

The infographic below was released in early June, but provides a great starting point for an analytic look at the World Cup so far.

Offerpop’s World Cup Infographic:

World Cup Infographic

A sporting event at this level has many advantages and disadvantages for marketers.  The world attention placed on the games have provided viewers with a rich and diverse social media and advertising experience without sacrificing the integrity of the sport.  Even if you’re a marketer, but not a soccer fan you can appreciate the experience.

What have been some of your favorite 2014 FIFA World Cup tournament moments on or off the field?

INTEGRATE2014 Recap: Lee Odden

May 31, 2014

Digital Convergence: The Integrated Marketing & PR Imperative was a knock out session. Lee Odden’s dynamic presentation style captivated the audience and gave us great tips and reminders to incorporate into our IMC worlds.

After engaging in the session, I think my blog title is a bit misleading.  There is no way a blog post would even make a dent in recapping Lee’s session or capturing the amazing information and presentation style shared with us this morning.

So, if you weren’t at the session (or even if you were) I challenge you to think of the word “optimizing” very differently.  It seems as though every time I mention the word “optimize” people automatically think of it in terms of digital media or graphic design.  The biggest take away from the session today was optimizing content for your audience.  Lee encouraged us to start the marketing process with empathy.  As marketers we need to think of what are customers need and how we can help them get it.  How can we optimize our content to help our clients get where they need to go?   How can we make their jobs and their lives easier so that they will want to communicate with us?  He mentioned journalists as a prime example.  Years ago journalists were not thought of as a target market, but Lee saw them as a target market and changed the way he provided information to them.  Instead of simple press releases the information was rich and included materials journalists need, but don’t have the time to track down.  Starting with empathy lead to significant changes in the way the information was presented. You need to make sure that when a customer is looking for answers, your information is there to help them.

Lee also empowered the audience to think a bit differently (Not surprising).  He reiterated that we can change the game in regards to content marketing.  As he says, “If you want to be in the media, become the media.”

I”ll leave you with Lee’s 3 Key Takeaways and highly encourage you to speak with him at the conference, or see him present in the near future.  If talking to people isn’t your thing, you can read his blog or check out his book, Optimize.

  • If you want to be in the media – become the media
  • Build amplification into the content design process – be the best answer wherever customers are looking
  • Keep content accountable across channels – attract, engage, convert

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If you attended Lee’s session or have read his book, Optimize, what were your favorite parts? What got you the most excited?

INTEGRATE2014 Recap: Capstone Prep

May 30, 2014

The Capstone Prep Session was a great way to start the conference! I left the session with so many great ideas and I’m very excited to take the capstone class. (I’m actually a little disappointed I won’t be taking it until next fall!)

“Creativity is intelligence having fun” – Einstein

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In case you missed it or forgot to take notes, here are some tips shared at the session this morning!

Tips
-Budget your time
-Talk to people in your network
-Keep your focus
-Bring your insights
-Bring your ideas
-Bring your best game — it’s about you and how you present yourself to the world. It’s how you see yourself
-Preparation begins now – start research before you start class
-CREATIVE IDEAS ARE ESSENTIAL and required
-Strategy is not a tagline
-Don’t think like a student – think like a CEO. You must be a full IMC agency for nine weeks
-Clients don’t want to hear what they already know. It has to be different.

IMC Creativity
– Get to the core – ICSS
– Find the novel approach – something new
– Take risks – but stay on strategy

If you want an A you have to B(e) -
-Strategic
-Resourceful
-Surprising
-Interesting
-Efficient
-Effective
-Thorough
-Organized
-Creative

Research Tips
1 – Do basics really well
2 – Go a step beyond – trade journals
3 – Get your own insights – look for gaps in existing research

I hope you find this list helpful! For those of you who have taken the class, anything you’d like to add?

Preparing for Integrate!

May 23, 2014

I am ecstatic to be attending INTEGRATE next week. I wasn’t sure I would be able to make it to Morgantown before I graduated, but am thrilled I was able to use this conference as a professional development experience this year. Before heading out I wanted to share with you five of my tips for attending conferences.

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  • Pre-network: I’m a bit of an introvert and walking into a networking session not knowing anybody is very challenging for me. One thing I do to prepare for this is to reach out to people on Facebook, Twitter, and in class to see who is attending and when they’ll be arriving. That way I’ve already started to make connections with people and feel more comfortable walking into those events. (I’m serious…if you see me walk right up and say hi. Networking is only awkward for the first few minutes.)
  • Bring business cards! It may seem like a no brainer, but I cannot tell you how many times people have asked for my card and I’m out. Additionally, I’ve notice that my phone number isn’t on there. I write my office number of the back of the cards in advance so that it doesn’t take time away from a great conversation. I also find it very beneficial to write on the back of someone else’s business card how I met them or something else to help me remember them. You meet a lot of people at conferences and even though you think you’ll remember them chances are you won’t!
  • Research and schedule: I find that I can look through the conference schedule 100 times beforehand, plan everything out, and as soon as I get to the conference I go rogue. All my planning goes out the window and I find sessions that I didn’t see before that might be interesting. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I do recommend looking at the schedule in advance. I also think that doing a little background research on the keynote speakers helps you be more engaged in the presentation and helps you make a connection with the presenter if there’s time for questions.
  • Develop your system: While I was at the ACUI conference in April I was still trying to figure out how to make the most of my conference experience during the conference. I was taking notes in Evernote on my iPad and my iPhone. There was a syncing issue and I lost everything that had been documented on my phone. I recommend trying to figure out a system so that you’re not scrambling to document things or lose valuable information.
  • Dive in: Again, not rocket science, but I do think it is valuable information. Like I said, I’m a bit of an introvert and buying into things that are out of my comfort zone is not always an easy task. I encourage you to dive right into the conference so that you don’t walk away saying “I wish I would have tried this” or “I wish I would have done that.” You only get one chance to build these connections and have these experiences, so it’s important that you take advantage of them.

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I hope you found this information beneficial. If you see me at an event or session please come up and say hi. I really do love meeting new people! I also encourage you to join the Facebook event so you can “pre-network” with others that are attending!

Is this really free?

May 20, 2014

Lately I’ve become very irritated with the word free.  Download your FREE ebook here! Why didn’t we have anyone attend our FREE event? Everywhere I look I see “free” offers for products, services, and resources.  Additionally, I hear people get frustrated because they cannot fathom why their free event didn’t reach capacity.  My answer is….because it’s not really free.

Just because there is not a monetary cost, does not mean something is free.  If a company asks for my email address or any type of information, what I am downloading is no longer free.  My email address is very important to me, giving it away is not free.  If the resource were actually free, the company wouldn’t be collecting information and the download would be immediate.  For something that is “free,” why am I giving you my personal information and spending time filling out your forms and before downloading the resource?

From an event perspective, it is important to realize that if people are attending your event they’re not doing something else.  It may sound simple, but attending a free event means they are not spending time with friends/family or attending another event.  In my case, if people are attending free events at the university they’re not working on homework, relaxing, or working.  So, attending an hour long event means that they’re not working for an hour- which means the event is not free.

A while back, I signed up for a free resource of some kind and the next thing I knew, I was on an email list that I couldn’t unsubscribe from.  One day, I got so frustrated that I sent (a bit of a sarcastic) tweet.  The photo below was a job description that was included in the email.  I was so frustrated by their continued emails that I tweeted the the photo and asked it this was their actual position description.  I was sad to find out that the reason that position description was included in the email (that they sent to me) was that they didn’t think anyone would read the email. (Please, as marketers, don’t send emails you don’t think people will or want to read.)  The gentleman that tweeted me back also did not understand that I was trying to unsubscribe from the emails and was disappointed that I was still receiving them.Screen shot 2014-05-06 at 8.41.01 PM

Next time you ask, or are asked, to exchange your personal information for a “free” resource, ask yourself, is it worth it?

Seven things I wish I had known when I started the IMC program

May 1, 2014

It’s hard to believe that I started this journey to get my Master’s Degree three and a half years ago and it’s about to end in less than two weeks! I have learned A LOT in the last 3.5 years — about marketing yes, but also about endurance, time management, writing, research, and myself. Some of these lessons I picked up early on, and others only more recently. But all of them are things I wish I had learned a bit sooner. So here it is. For all of you who are just getting started in the program (and even those of you who have been with it a little while), here are seven (because five was too few and ten was too many) things I wish I had known when I started the IMC program.

1. Time management takes on a whole new level in the IMC program. No matter how good you think you are at time management, you will find yourself hitting that submit button with only seconds to spare at least once per semester. At first I thought maybe it was just me. But then I started connecting with some of my classmates offline and found out I wasn’t alone! Even the most dedicated and disciplined of classmates has had a week or two (or 9) when they have found themselves working feverishly on Monday night only to click that upload button at 11:54 p.m. I don’t recommend doing this a lot (I personally have had way too many close calls), but cut yourself some slack if it happens every once in a while. And know that Murphy’s Law will prevail and those assignments that you think won’t be such a big deal will end up taking you twice as long to get done! So try and start early as often as you can to save yourself the stress.

Calvin and Hobbs on procrastination

We all find ourselves hitting the submit button at 11:54 at one time or another.

2. Quality sources make all the difference! As I progressed through the program I learned from each professor which trade publications and sources they favored for quality information when doing research. Some of these I subscribed to early-on and used throughout the course, others I only discovered late in the game and I wish I had thought of them sooner. So, here are a few that I recommend you sign-up for now: AdAge, AdWeek, PR Week, DM News, Pew Research, and MarketingProfs. I also highly recommend you take advantage of the online library databases for accessing journals and competitor/industry information. They’re free and they will give you information you will not find in a Google search. I’m sure there are more that classmates can recommend, but those are the gold standards that have helped me through many a discussion board post and weekly paper!

3. INTEGRATE is awesome. Seriously. You should go! At least once. I almost didn’t go last year and changed my mind at the last minute and I’m so glad I did. Not only were there some great sessions, but it was the first chance I had to meet classmates and professors in person and see the WVU campus. It made me feel so much more connected to the program. I only wish I had gone sooner.

Evernote on an iPad

Evernote helps me work on school work from any place or device.

4. Empower yourself to be mobile. I think I was about 3 semesters into the program when I read a blog post by Kevin that talked about some of his favorite tools that helped him find success in the IMC program. It was the first time I had ever heard of Evernote. It has since become one of my favorite go-to programs for school, work and personal life. Using a tool like Evernote or Microsoft OneNote allows you to save your research, and even write your discussion board posts or papers in one place, but access it from any device. So whether you’re in your office at your desk, sitting on the couch at home with your iPad, or even on your phone while waiting for your kids to finish their piano lessons, you can sneak in a little work and pick right back where you left off at the next opportune moment.

5. Every professor is different. It’s true. No matter how consistent the program is (and trust me, it’s pretty darn consistent compared to others I know about), or how standardized the syllabus, each professor is going to communicate differently and grade differently. They are human, after all! Yet for some reason I’ve seen a lot of classmates get very upset by this fact. Were your undergrad professors all the same? I highly doubt it. I know mine weren’t. You will have favorites and some that kick-your-butt! And there may not be consensus on this by your classmates…so just because your friend said they loved Professor so-and-so doesn’t mean you will. All I can say is accept this fact now and it will save you a lot of disappointment and frustration down the road. For my part (and I have nothing to gain by saying this since I’m pretty much done with the program), I found all of my professors to be reasonable and fair.

6. Connect with classmates outside of Blackboard. It wasn’t until very recently that I got invited to a Facebook Group for IMC students, that was created by a classmate (and is not officially affiliated with the IMC program). This has been one of the best discoveries of the last 3 years because it has allowed me to “meet” people I’ve never had class with, ask for suggestions, tips and recommendations relating to certain classes, share ideas, commiserate about our lack of a life on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights, and just in general talk…you know that thing you did in the hallways when you were in undergrad? The stories that got shared around the lunch table or in the lobby of your dorm room? That stuff is missing when you’re in an online program. But thanks to social media there are ways to connect with colleagues outside of class. Whether it’s through Facebook, LinkedIn or even email, I highly recommend you get connected to other students outside of the Blackboard classroom! In fact if you’re interested in joining the Facebook group let me know!

7. At some point you will want to quit. OK, maybe this won’t happen to everyone, but I know that a good majority of the people I’ve met through the program have contemplated it at least once before they finish. And some even do quit…for a semester or two. Whether your personal life changes, your work life gets too hectic, or you just plain need a break, at some point you may find yourself wondering – “Can I really keep doing this?” The answer is YES! Yes, you can, even if you have to take a break — don’t give up! You will be so glad when you cross that finish line.

Who tells your story?

April 29, 2014

“The problem with television is the picture.” – Bill Mosher

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I never expected a documentary producer to say those words, so imagine my surprise when PBS Visionaries Producer, Bill Mosher, said them in front of a captive audience.  The discussion of the conference was storytelling and his comment slapped me in the face as I evaluated how we tell our story at the university center.  After watching amazing storytellers captivate an audience and nearly bring everyone to tears with their voice alone, I started to think he was right.  Reading, writing, and listening all leave room for the imagination of the participant.  Suddenly, the participant becomes part of the experience.  They fill in the blanks with their own memories, experiences, and ideas, and the story becomes real to them.  I began to wonder if we were spoon-feeding our audience a story that we wanted to tell, but they didn’t want to hear.

When I think of the stories that I remember and the experiences I share, I do so because they have significant meaning to me.  As marketers and storytellers, it is our responsibility to share the things that we do in a way that makes people want to talk about them.  Every experience a customer has with a company, product, service, or organization helps build a brand and tell a story.  The goal of marketing isn’t to teach customers to regurgitate a scripted story, but to make them feel like valued partners who share the story because they want to.  Isn’t that the goal of learning? I still believe that as marketers we are educators and we should be empowering the people we are marketing to (teaching) to be our advocates – not memorize the correct answers.

When you’re telling your story, are you leaving room for the customer?

March Madness Marketing!

March 20, 2014

This year, I’m picking the Louisville Cardinals to win it all. Yes, I know they’ve defeated my beloved UCONN Huskies three times this year (including a Kevin Ollie ejection, a 33 point loss and the inaugural AAC championship game), but they’re playing good basketball and I think they could go all the way. No matter what happens, I’ll be glued to the TV and my bracket (which will likely be busted by Thursday evening) all weekend.

Image from Slate --- screenshot from quickenloansbracket.com

Image from Slate — screenshot from quickenloansbracket.com

This is my favorite time of year! I’m not alone, though. Marketers love this time of year as well and I’m seeing basketball themed advertising on the television, popping up in my Facebook newsfeed and everywhere else I look.

I’ve been prompted to fill out NCAA brackets by just about everyone. I’ve heard from Buffalo Wild Wings, my local NBC affiliate, and most dramatically by Quicken Loans who is offering the chance to win a billion dollars. A number of writers have already established why you won’t win a billion-dollars, but it is easy to see that these brands are winning big by banking on bracket gimmicks and piggybacking on all of the basketball fever in the air.

Quicken Loans will never pay out a billion dollars (they’ve insured the payoff with Berkshire Hathway) but they could end up being big winners themselves. Individuals who would like to test their luck and fill out a bracket are asked to provide their contact information along with the interest rate on their mortgage. Leads like this might normally cost Quicken Loans $50 – $300 making this a valuable campaign for them, especially considering how much earned media the gimmick has garnered.

Not only are there brands that are effectively banking on brackets to earn themselves some loyalty from existing customers or to acquire new leads, but there are also brands who are taking their liberties with risky “ambush marketing” tactics. With any large sporting or entertainment event, there will be brands that attempt to leverage the excitement to further their own interests, but there is a fine line between what is legal and ethical and what is not. Check out what Brian Heidelberger, a legal expert on advertising, marketing and entertainment law practice has to say on the matter in this video from Advertising Age:

It is certainly an exciting time of year for sports fans and marketers alike. Those brands that have figured out how to create their own “shining moment” may achieve great results. Is your brand making the most of March Madness and what do you think of all the marketing surrounding this event? What do you think about ambush marketing and are brands pushing things too far?

Most importantly, who did you pick in your bracket this year?

A fresh summer start

March 4, 2014

For most people, spending their summer studying integrated marketing communications would not be their first choice – especially if this was their first experience in a graduate program.  Starting the IMC program in the summer wasn’t necessarily my first choice, but I am extremely happy that I was able to do so.  Initially I wanted to start the program in the Spring however; I was participating in a service learning trip to Ecuador and since the introductory class is only offered in Early Spring, Summer, and Early Fall I pushed IMC 610 back to summer.  Here are some of the best things about  my summer start!

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“Slow time” at work – At UW-Whitewater our summer months are a little bit slower, not entirely slow – but a little slower.  More people take vacation, there are less students on campus, and things are a little more flexible.  I was able to dive into grad school and get a better understanding of the time commitment of classes.  I hadn’t been in classes for three years and I had never taken an online class. Starting in the summer allowed me to gain my graduate school footing while still maintaining my employment.  That’s been the greatest part of the program overall.  I am able to work, go to school, and sneak in a few hobbies here and there because of the flexibility of the WVU online program.

Summer Capstone Class – I will take the capstone class in the summer.  I know that my situation is a little different.  With the tuition support I receive I am only able to take three classes a year instead of the five that are offered.  The way the stars have aligned means that I will also take the IMC 636 class in the summer.  I am very excited about this because I will be able to adjust my schedule accordingly and take the time I need to be able to create a great campaign.  Sometimes you have to think about the beginning and the end!

Don’t wait! - I didn’t want to wait.  I could have decided to push back my starting date to the fall but I thought that if I waited, I would never start.  Yes, a graduate degree is a lot of work.  Yes, your life will have to change a bit.  Delaying the start of the program is not going to change any of that.

Fresh air and warm weather – I know this sounds a little bit ironic, but it really helped.  We’ve had some pretty rough winters here in Wisconsin.  I had always heard people talk about seasonal depression and cabin fever in winter, but didn’t think too much of it until recently.  In the summer you can go out, get some exercise, and let your mind relax just a little bit easier than you can in the winter.  Because of this I was around more people to bounce ideas off of and I was traveling more, which  helped create discussion content for my classes.

I highly recommend starting classes in the summer.  As I said before, you’re always going to have a reason to wait, but it’s not going to make starting any easier.  Once you start, you’ll be happy you did.


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