Posts Tagged ‘WVU IMC’

Content Marketing is the New Black

March 4, 2015

There is a fundamental shift in the way that we create, consume and share content. To quote Marc Mathieu from Unilever, “Marketing used to be about making a myth and telling it. Now it’s about telling the truth and sharing it.” With an ever-more crowded marketing environment, it behooves brands to move away from thinking like marketers or advertisers who are selling a product and more like publishers.

To do this, companies must create and curate relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire and engage their target audience. While this is done with the objective of driving sales, it’s not truly advertising or public relations – rather it’s a bit of both. Content must be consumer and not brand-focused. It also must answer customer questions across the buyers journey. Successful branded content is often more effective than advertising because it tells a story that engages the user. These stories help to build stronger relationships. They make people care about a product, brand or cause in a way that sales can’t.

Even the news media is challenged by the increase in content marketing. Upstarts like BuzzfeedUpworthy, and Digiday, to name a few, are creating new news paradigms. In the past four years, nearly every media company has rolled out sponsored content as a new revenue stream, to varying levels of success.

As an example, let’s look at Buzzfeed. One could argue that the front page of BuzzFeed looks like a 21st-century tabloid. BuzzFeed provides shareable breaking news, original reporting, entertainment, and video across the social web to a global audience of more than 200 million. It isn’t the New York Times, but it may be a new iteration of the New York Times and the future of how consumers get news. Buzzfeed provides newsworthy content to consumers in digestible bites. These bites come in an assortment of styles ranging from listicles to infographics, timelines and more.

In owned social channels, brands must adopt a similar strategy if they hope to keep up. But, the content game is one that all companies must tackle with their eyes wide open. Content creation takes resources, insight, endurance and persistence. It is not about posting once a month and expecting to see sales gains. It takes a lot more time and effort.

Ultimately, there are 3 types of content that brands should try to incorporate into their marketing strategies, these are sometimes called the 3 “C’s” of content production. They are:

  1. Created. This could be dubbed the hardest part of content marketing. Creation happens when a brand or company makes entirely new content to put forth via their owned channels. Hubspot recently posted a blog outlining 44 types of content that can help to get your content creation juices flowing.types-of-content_(1)
  2. Curated. Curation is done when a brand finds pre-created content that engages the target audience, they then collect it and add in their own creativity to it. This could come in the form of offering an original spin on the initial content. The new breed of online publishers (Buzzfeed, Upworthy etc.) is, at the core, clever content curators.
  3. Crowdsourced. Consumers love to share content, whether it is photos, images, videos or content that resonates with them. Ask and you shall receive.

Ready to get started? Many brands have upped their content marketing game in the last year. This article from Outbrain, shares 6 epic examples from 2014.

What types of content marketing have caught your eye thus far in 2015?

The Best of #TheDress

March 3, 2015

At this point, who doesn’t have an opinion on #TheDress?

dress

The question of February 26, 2015: What color is the dress?

I’m guessing I wasn’t the only IMC student whose favorite part of the dress debacle involved seeing how brands capitalized on its viral hashtags. You can view some of the best brand tweets here, but I’ve also included some favorites from my Twitter feed below:

ouat

Fans of the ABC modern fairytale show loved seeing character references of Snow White and Mr. Gold (Rumplestiltskin) connected to #TheDress.

cirque

Cirque du Soleil wasn’t afraid to offer their unique opinion of #TheDress color…

ikea

…and IKEA agreed. Is anyone else on team #blueandyellow?

What are your favorite brand references to #TheDress?

-R

 

INTEGRATE 2015: Speaker Profile – Lisa Nirell

February 18, 2015

How many times have you encountered marketing efforts that epically fail to deliver value to customers?

Last week, I came across a promotion from a car dealer that offered free wiper blades with any visit to the service department. When I presented my coupon to the Service and Parts Manager, he advised me that the free blades were of sub-standard quality. Instead, he recommended that I pay for the factory guaranteed wiper inserts. (#marketingfail)

Failed marketing efforts come in all shapes and sizes. Brands that continue to rely on the old bait-and-switch marketing tactic may get customers in the door, but the failure to deliver value will not keep customers coming back for more. As savvy customers, we expect more from brands. Customers, like myself, want brands to be transparent. A smart transparent brand would not even bother advertising a sub-standard product to a repeat customer.

Brands that still rely on advertising or promotional tactics without providing any value-add content need to become more mindful of the wants, needs, and desires of their customers. Otherwise, they simply become irrelevant.

Building content and fostering behaviors customers trust requires adopting a mindful approach. Lisa Nirell, chief energy officer at  EnergizeGrowth®  and the author of the book The Mindful Marketer: How to Stay Present and Profitable in a Data-Driven World, understands the current power struggle taking place in the marketing field between big data and mindfulness. Her advice to marketers is to “Set your intentions so that your best marketing innovations and programs improve your customers condition, and society as a whole.”

Portrait of Lisa Nirell

Lisa defines a mindful marketer as a “leader who influences the hearts and minds of others to improve their condition, or the world at large.” To make better decisions, she encourages marketers to find their Inner Marketing Guru (IMG). Contrary to what today’s technology and consulting providers will tell you, big data and quick promotional wins to get customers in the door will not win over your customers. Instead of encouraging marketers to do more, Lisa suggests you need to be more; to cultivate your inner wisdom.

I highly recommend reading The Mindful Marketer! The book is divided into three sections consisting of twenty-two chapters. The opening chapter titled, “Why CMOs Are Facing Extinction” helps to set the tone of this no-holds-barred book. Within each chapter, Lisa presents contemporary examples that will validate and confirm your feelings on the existing power struggle plaguing many marketing departments. At the close of each chapter, she poses a question to readers to help them to find their Inner Marketing Guru.

Nirell9781137386298

Lisa will be a featured speaker at INTEGRATE 2015. As we wait in anticipation for the event,  I asked Lisa what attendees can expect from her keynote. Here’s what she said:

@Julie_Long_: What can attendees expect from your presentation at INTEGRATE?

@lisa_nirell:  “Get ready to discover new approaches and strategies to help you eliminate the most common mindless digital marketing habits, build stronger customer communities, and create more time to innovate. You will hear fresh examples from my top clients, as well as Miraval, 15Five, Blackboard, and other marketing innovators.”

@Julie_Long_: I am looking forward to Lisa’s mindful session! I would also like to thank her for providing me a copy of The Mindful Marketer, which helped me to prepare this blog post. Be sure to follow Lisa on twitter (@lisa_nirell) and her complimentary book resources and videos here.

Please join us at the INTEGRATE conference from May 29-30, 2015 in Morgantown, WV! Click here to register and learn more.

Online Student Life: The Importance of the Furry Study Buddy

February 11, 2015

Student life is a little different at a 100% online program like WVU’s IMC. We connect virtually through Linked In profiles and we might follow each other on Twitter, but there’s no student union to foster classmate comradery. Each course begins with an introduction post – tell us about yourself, what brought you to the program and what you hope to get out of the course? As a common closing statement a lot of students mention their families and furry study buddies. Student comradery bubbles up when we can bond over rescue dogs and typical cat antics.

So this is a post dedicated to the dogs and cats (and even a horse!) that are the loyal, late-night companions of current and recently graduated IMC students.

Add a comment below about your furry study buddy and email me [jvlink@mix.wvu.edu] a photo so we can round up some more photos of furry honorary students.

Stephanie & Roscoe

Stephanie Marchant and Roscoe

Meet Roscoe… Roscoe P Kitty Cat… or as we refer to him around here – RPKC. He has been one of two furry study buddies throughout the IMC program that kept me motivated with purrs of pride, head bumps of encouragement, and the occasional face of disinterest to keep me grounded and focused on school and not how adorable he is. Which is hard, because he is.


Andrea & Kicks

Andrea Blanton and KicksThis is my study buddy, Kicks! I adopted him from the animal shelter almost two years ago and he has been with me throughout my entire IMC journey! He likes to help me with my courses by laying on my books, carefully watching me edit my papers, and sitting right in front of the tv so I don’t get distracted!


Marie, Silas & Jericho

Marie Carly and Silas JerichoThese are my study buddies… Silas (left) and Jericho (right). They’ve helped me through undergrad and now my time in the IMC program! They’re great at distracting and helping me relax when I’m frustrated with an assignment. Oh… and they’re super cute and soft… so I mean- cuddling with them while writing a paper makes the whole homework thing a lot easier.


Rachel & Meeko

Rachel and MeekoThis is Meeko. She insists I get my homework done quickly so I can give her pets, belly rubs & kisses. She also makes me laugh when I’ve hit a wall with studying. Usually because she’s running around the house in a manner similar to parkour.


Sara & Charlie

Sarah and CharlieMeet Charlie, my one-year-old German Shepherd. He’s a rescue smile emoticon I’ve had him for four months now. Charlie makes sure I never go without a break from homework. He gets “paws on,” and he helps me by removing my laptop from my lap and inserting himself. He’s 80lbs, 26″ at the shoulder and still growing. He’s half my grocery bill. Oh, and he knows German commands. Besides the nuisance of having dog hair everywhere, he is the joy of my life.


Kelly & Capt. Jack

Kelly and Capt JackMeet Capt. Jack…as you can tell from the picture he always right there to give me help when I need it! (except when he is in the plants knocking them all over the floor) With that being said, I love him so much and I’m so thankful I adopted him this past November


Tyler & Nyla

Tyler and NylaThis is Nyla. After I finish an assignment, she’s there to offer overwhelming positivity. Although, if the program wasn’t online, I’m sure she’d still try to eat my homework.


Mary & Molly

Mary and MollyFrom 610 through 636 Molly was my constant and faithful companion. I would get stuck into my IMC books and she would be right there at my feet.


Lauren & Nora

Lauren and NoraNora is our little rescue that we adopted this fall. She’s still learning that my MacBook isn’t a pillow so I usually have to keep her in a separate room while doing DPs. There’s no more rewarding feeling than coming out once I’ve turned everything in and cuddling with this little lady.


Kate & Skye

Kate and ShyeMeet Skye, our rescue Aussie mix with bright blue eyes and adorable ears. She spends most nights laying next to me while I pound away at my keyboard only to occasionally close it on my hands as a reminder she needs love too. She’s been with me most of the program, and is pretty excited for me to finish in December so I can spend more time giving her belly rubs and treats.


Brittany & Austin

Brittany and AustinMeet Austin: He may be a little bigger than your average furry friend, but he snuggles just the same!


Carisa & Hodor

Carisa and HodorHodor thinks studying via osmosis is worth a shot.


Julie & Ruby Sue

Julie and RubyMy Boston Terrier, Ruby, is my 12-year-old IMC sidekick as she is my loyal foot-warmer and late-night companion. Here she’s basking in the midnight glow of the desk lamp. She’s survived my single days, newlywed phase, two children and now a Masters degree. Someone get this pup her own jar of peanut butter – she’s mastered companionship and deserves a treat! Any guesses on the movie character for whom she’s named?

Let us know about your furry study buddy!  We’ll post again with some more pics.

National Geographic Is Far From Extinct

February 9, 2015

In a modern media environment where digital dominates, National Geographic is what you may consider traditional. The brand has always been known for its iconic print and broadcast media. Picture a magazine cover displaying a young girl at a refugee camp or a television special featuring a cheetah racing across African plains.

Integrating digital, you might expect the visually-rich brand to flood its social media with photos. The more, the merrier—right?

Instead, National Geographic has applied very unique, intentional strategies to its Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram pages, not all of which are visually heavy. Social media analytics platform Simply Measured studied these different strategies during a two-week period, and the reviews are fascinating for anyone looking to improve their approach to social media (raises hand).

Twitter. Rather than use brief tweet space for photos that may quickly become lost in timelines, National Geographic tweets content that links back to the brand’s main website. It’s about teasing with 140 characters rather than revealing images. Plus, those select times a photo is featured garner much more engagement.

Facebook. Maintaining a Facebook fan page can be tough. Having followers is one thing, keeping them engaged is another. National Geographic is careful not to over-post. When it does, the brand’s pairing of link previews with photos mimics magazine design. Speaking of links, did you know engagement rates are higher for Facebook posts that use a full-length URL?

Instagram. A platform designed for photos. And National Geographic serves them. One of the brand’s unique Instagram approaches is that it tags the people who made a photo possible: photographers, reporters, even the subject.

National Geographic also has a YouTube channel and Pinterest page—both have healthy numbers in posts and followers, although I’m surprised the company doesn’t feature links to these platforms on its website homepage.

What do you think about National Geographic’s strategy?

-R

40 Capstone Campaign Tips

January 29, 2015

IMC

Research. Research. Archive.

The research process begins long before you start your campaign. During your time in the program, begin to build your own personal marketing and creative aesthetics.

Tips:

1. Archive marketing campaigns that resonate with you to an Evernote notebook. 

2. Follow thought leaders in the marketing field.

3. Monitor industry trends.

 

Manage Your Time.

Start the campaign early. Have the branding for your agency established and ready to go before week one commences.

Tips:

4. Do not procrastinate on any section of the campaign. 

5. Try the Pomodoro Technique to manage your time. 

6. Make goals and deadlines for yourself that you can easily check off. 

7. If you get stuck on one section, build time in your schedule to come back to it. 

8. Take breaks. 

 
Prepare to Write, Revise, Rationalize, and Design. 

How will you bring your campaign findings to life? Will you rely on writing, design, or a combination of both to engage the client?

Tips: 

9. Think visually. If you can get the point across with a graphic treatment, the client would be more inclined to easily recall the information you are trying to present. 

10. Place extra emphasis on the areas that would be of the utmost importance to the client. This would be areas that would show off your specific expertise. 

11. To help keep the reader engaged, introduce each of your campaign sections. 

12. Add external quotes from thought leaders to add relevancy and credibility to your work. 

13. Think of the needs of your audience. Have you taught them something new? Clients want to pay for cutting edge concepts. 

 
Plan Your Media.

If terms like programmatic buying, advertising impressions, advertorials, or CPM (i.e. cost per mile) are not part of your vocabulary, you should begin to brush up on the art of media buying.

Tips:

14. Expand your professional network and befriend a Media Buyer. 

15. Follow the latest media buying trends.

 
Composition Is Important.

As you put together your campaign, the following elements are important to consider: typography, color, hierarchy, and placement of graphics.

Tips: 

16. A sans serif font (e.g. Arial) is better for body copy because it is more readable and legible. 

17. Limit your color palette (too many colors within a campaign is distracting) 

18. White space is your friend. Let your copy have room to breathe. 

19. Make graphic elements out of important statements. 

20. Use one font family and vary the weights to create hierarchy within your content.

21. Use display fonts sparingly. 

22. Break up large blocks of text with images, charts, or quotes.

23. Think of your entire composition as a grid filled with different elements. 

24.  Make sure everything is visually consistent from the cover page to back cover. 

 
Use Templates/Resources Wisely.

It is never too early to start to build your familiarity with all available design resources.

Tips:

25. Typeform.com is a beautiful online survey and form builder.

26. Fotolia.com has economically priced royalty free stock photos. 

27. Fiverr.com is a creative marketplace for finding designers. The cost, to hire a designer, is only five dollars per execution.

28. Font Squirrel.com has 100% free commercial use fonts. 

29. Logopond.com has a gallery of well-designed logos to help inspire you. 

30. Adobe Color CC generates color schemes. 

31. Small PDF  is a tool to reduce the size of your PDF. 

32.  Graphic River – Stock Graphic Files.

33. Grammarly – Free editing plugin for Chrome.

34. Hemingway Editor – Editor application for Mac and PC.

35. Buzzsumo.com – is a search tool that identifies online key influencers and trending content.

 
Presentation Is Everything.

The last step, before printing out your final campaign, is to account for all of the print production nuances.

Tips:

36. Paper Weight – Be sure to ask for a house paper that has enough weight for printing double sided. You do not want the graphics to oversaturate the paper. 

37. Binding Types – Perfect Bound, Wire-O Binding, and Comb Binding are the most universally used. 

38. Orientation – Will you be presenting your project horizontally or vertically? Can your printer accommodate a non-traditional size? 

39. Bleed – Most printers will not be able to account for graphics bleeding off the page. Build a white border around your pages so that the edges look consistent when printed. 

40. Back Cover – Will you include a blank page in your document after your references section? Will the back page match your cover? 

 

Graduates, please add any other helpful tips that you found useful to this list!

 

Congratulations to the Fall 2014 Capstone class on completing the WVU IMC program!  Best of luck to the Spring 2015 Capstone class! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Building Social Proof

January 27, 2015

Even after tragic loss, charity: water shows that it is possible to find hope. Raising more than $1.2 million dollars, charity: water continues to inspire individuals to act even years after Rachel started her initial campaign.

A true leader in using visual storytelling to engage consumers, charity: water’s remarkable success in social advocacy and online fundraising is largely built through real stories posted via sharable multimedia. With more than 1.3 million Twitter followers, and more than 210,000 Facebook likes, charity: water has truly mastered the art of getting people to form personal connections with their brand. And, by harnessing storytelling through social media – they have turned followers into activists.

How have they done it exactly? The brand has built a high level of “social proof.”

I can’t count the number of times, I’ve scrolled through my Facebook feed and bought something, or acted on something because of a friends post. Well… that’s it! Social proof is the positive influence that is created when people find out others are doing something – and now, suddenly, everyone else wants to do that same something.

This third-party validation can be a very powerful motivator. As consumers, the psychology of persuasion influences every day choices, from where to eat, to what clothes to wear, purchases to make, and causes to be part of. While the concept of social proof isn’t new, this style of impact has huge potential to grow virally given the way that consumers interact today on social media. According to recent research 70% of consumers trust brand recommendations from friends.

Tech Crunch offers that there are five different types of social proof. These range from Expert and Celebrity, which leverage the approval of these individuals to build digital influence to Wisdom of the Crowds, which highlights the popularity or large numbers of users who like a product, service or brand. While both of the above work in some instances, by and large, the most coveted type of social proof is the Wisdom of Friends, because every marketer knows that referrals from friends are the way that consumers now make choices. Friends referred by friends ultimately make better customers, activists and givers – hands down.

Social proof IS the new marketing.

So… how do we build it for our own brands, companies and causes?

One of the best ways to build social proof is by leveraging the power of personal stories. Real stories (yes, those from real consumers) resonate with people and can catch their interest or engage their emotions. Stories are persuasive and more trusted by consumers than statistics, because they are able to transport consumers into the situation – engaging them and making them want to share… and then share again and again. This makes sense on many levels given that storytelling is one of the oldest and most effective forms of communicating.

charity: water uses content to align people with thousands of other people. Their stories and photos are hyper-localized, deeply connecting consumers to the impact they are helping to make. So deeply, that they then encourage others to participate in making impact too – Momentum builds and one by one consumers join the cause because of other friends who are engaged, thus building a dedicated network of brand advocates… or for charity: water, activists and donors.

Any brand can engage social proof by being candid, authentic and letting testimonials speak for themselves. Through the sharing of compelling stories, brands can become equal partners, rather than corporate entities. It’s no longer enough to rely on pushed messages or advertising. Instead, marketers must incorporate the input that they get from their audiences to help build more robust and engaging campaigns. Through a continued commitment to storytelling and leveraging consumer content any brand can build loyalty and excitement about their brand.

If Steve Jobs Made Apple Juice

January 26, 2015

Steve Jobs helped bring to life the Apple iPod, iPhone and iPad, but he didn’t make Apple juice.

iJuice isn’t out of the question—well, in theory at least. Designer Peddy Mergui released a series of packaging designs transforming packaging what-if’s into reality using famous brands’ design language. Among his designs was iMilk.

milk1

Got iMilk?

Whether you find Tiffany & Co. yogurt, Nike oranges, and Prada flour laughable or ingenious, they beg the question: Would consumers buy them?

Jobs is famous for defining design as how something works, not just how it looks or feels. I wonder what he would have thought about Mergui’s collection.

Not every brand extension works. Zippo perfume, Bic underwear, and Ben-Gay aspirin all come to mind. Of course, these extensions were inspired more by brand name than design.

Would you buy Apple juice?

-R

If Taylor Swift Was a WVU IMC Student…

January 8, 2015

If Taylor Swift was a WVU IMC student, she would probably nail each course. There are so many articles like this one, this one or this one about Taylor’s social media savvy, but I detect she even knows a little about Integrated Marketing Communications, too.

As if she’s ticking off completion of each WVU IMC’s course offerings, the 1989 campaign demonstrates that Taylor is an excellent marketer – make that, integrated marketing strategist.

Swift report card 2

Taylor Swift’s [Faux] IMC Report Card

Proof is in the pudding: Taylor’s 1989 sold 1.287 million copies in its launch week earning the largest sales week for an album since 2002. Details from Billboard on that here.

It is a good thing I have a seven-year-old daughter to blame for my Taylor Swift sing-a-longs. By all social considerations I am far too old to claim to Swiftie status, but I’m not too proud to take note of her expert IMC prowess and her keen ability to evolve her personal brand with millions watching her every move.

For Vloggers, It Pays To Be Honest

January 5, 2015

The term “vlogging” no longer elicits the confused looks it once did. Today, more people are aware of video blogging as a legitimate, not to mention profitable, career path.

For YouTube’s most popular content creators, joining the vlogging community early has led to a loyal online following. Beyond channel subscribers and ad revenue sustaining their livelihood, vloggers are finding more opportunities to extend their brands outside of YouTube. Zoe Sugg (known as Zoella) even broke the record for fastest selling debut novel with her book Girl Online.

To put that in perspective, J.K. Rowling was the previous record holder.

Surpassing J.K. Rowling’s fastest selling debut novel record, Zoe Sugg is now a powerful force in the publishing industry in addition to being one of the most popular vloggers on YouTube. Photo Credit: time.com

Sugg owes many of those sales to her almost 7 million subscribers with whom she has built trust and credibility through her channel. While ads playing before video content is nothing new on YouTube, more companies have taken notice of the strong vlogger-viewer relationship fostered by those like Sugg and now shift ad dollars to sponsor vlogs rather than preview them.

Sponsored content ranges from vloggers making grocery store visits to Asda, talking about smartphone apps like Skype Qik, and featuring home products from retailer B&Q. As vloggers promote brands in ways that don’t communicate like traditional ads, the lines between paid and non-paid-for material have blurred.

Untitled

Zoella’s brother and fellow vlogger, Joe Sugg (ThatcherJoe) recently posted a video labeled as an ad featuring the Skype Qik video messaging app.

The Advertising Standards Authority, the UK’s independent advertising regulator, recently created stricter guidelines for vloggers paid to promote a product. The change came after UK vloggers paid to promote Oreos via a “Lick Race Challenge” did not clearly label their videos as ads, bringing in to question whether sponsored videos are deceptive. Now, vloggers must include the word “ad” in the titles or thumbnails of their videos.

From the perspective of a viewing audience, the ASA explained if paid-for content appears “in a format that we’d normally expect to be non-promotional, we should be told up front about whether it’s an ad so that we can decide whether we want to continue viewing. In simple terms, it’s not fair to falsely promote a product.”

-R


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