Friday, January 27, 2006

 

"I want to work in advertising..."

It's amazing how well these kids understand the agency world.

A little Friday afternoon funny, enjoy!

Monday, January 23, 2006

 

Attend a two-day conference in 30 minutes.

If you, like me, couldn't attend last week's Word of Mouth Basic Training conference in Orlando, you can still catch up on all the fantastic learnings - for organizations big and small - here. Several highly-efficient bloggers have summarized most of the sessions down to very salient, actionable points.

Do yourself a favor and reserve 30 minutes to read through the posts. I guarantee it'll either give you new ideas for your business and/or brand, or re-energize you to do the things you know you need to do.

I've noticed lately that many marketing and business conferences are immediately available to those who didn't make the trek via blogs and other "attendee marketers" who publish their extensive meeting notes. It's a great way to quickly learn what you may have missed, but it also begs the question - what if people stop attending in the first place?

Some of these conferences could literally start taking place online, and inn the real estate industry one conference already does. But many of the best conferences are worth the networking alone, so taxi lines and expense reports won't dry up quite yet.

Friday, January 20, 2006

 

How to become a customer evangelism evangelist

So you're a convert, you're a believer.

You know that customer evangelism and word-of-mouth marketing is the most efficient way to reach your target audience right now (forget about five years from now), but the rest of your company is still cold-calling prospects and running magazine ads.

Don't throw away the current marketing plan just yet, but start to build some credibility for your new ideas by establishing subject matter expertise and gaining some quick, measurable wins.

Church of the Customer has a few other great tips today on how to start converting your organization into a group of customer evangelism devotees.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

 

12 News Release Alternatives

A press release is nothing but a tool. There are, and have always been, MANY other tools to leverage when executing PR campaigns.

Read about several here.

Monday, January 16, 2006

 

Do you word-of-mouth?

Word-of-mouth marketing is no longer the next thing. It's here now. Many companies - some relatively established, some brand-new - are emerging that focus on this marketing niche.

But it won't be a niche for long. As media continues to decentralize and consumers become 1) more cynical, and 2) less prone to believe traditional marketing, word-of-mouth marketing will become a critical part of your marketing plan.

Read as much as you can now, and think about how this fits into your brand strategy. Because what could be more powerful than your customers doing your marketing for you?

The wickedly smart folks at Church of the Customer offer some advice for choosing a good word-of-mouth agency, which also should help guide how you create a strong, long-term evangelist mobilization strategy for your brands.

 

How much do your customers love you?

If you haven't read The Power of Cult Branding, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy immediately. Control freaks might cringe at the idea that consumers have so much say into the look, feel, even personality of the brand, but smart marketers know this level of consumer empowerment and interaction can be intensely powerful - both in strengthening an existing brand, and even in productively differentiating it from competitors.

Apple is a great example of a successful cult brand. How many companies would inspire fans to creat a contest to design/illustrate movie posters featuring the company's CEO?

The results are very cool. Check out the two examples highlighted by Steve Rubel, especially the Lord of the Rings spoof. Even Bill Gates makes an appearance as Gollum.

Fantastically original. Scroll through the myriad of submissions in the comments section.

 

Spying On Myself

Do you remember what you did last weekend?

Your software does.

Read this smart VC's rationale for why self-spyware is a good idea. If used for the right reasons, I agree.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

 

The problem with prototypes

Smart advice from Seth Godin on just how well thought-out ideas need to be, when you're ready to present them.

I believe Seth's right about 80% of the time. Even if you're presenting to an audience who equally understands and appreciates early-stage, conceptual conversations, you can't assume that they'll understand your concept. In your head, and in the way you would quickly present a new concept, you'll naturally be included to move from point A directly to point D.

But when you present, make sure you discuss points B and C. Connecting the dots, and providing context and color, will help your audience understand, appreciate...and approve your prototypes.

Friday, January 13, 2006

 

Smart blogging by TaylorMade

Yes, corporate blogs are a good idea. Corporate blogs allow companies and brands to increase the frequency, quality and authenticity of their communication to key constituents (including and beyond customers), and also allow a level of interactivity not available in traditional media.

Many corporate blogs are far too self-promotional, but a few stand out as very well done. TaylorMade, a manufacturer of golf equipment, has introduced two blogs: one that offers an inside look at its products, and another that follows TaylorMade-sponsored golf professionals on the pro curcuit.

Two focused blog efforts, highly attractive to golf enthusiasts. They walk the line well between directly and strongly promoting their products, yet making the content independently interesting.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

 

PR and the long tail

There is an amazing amount of fantastic and highly-relevant content in the blogosphere.

The often-difficult but lucrative challenge for every news-hungry blog reader is to find fresh nuggets of insight and intelligence not only in that day's blogosphere posts, but in the history of blogs.

Take, for instance, this post from November of 2004 detailing how PR professionals can leverage the "long media tail" to create momentum and coverage for their brands and products.

Still highly relevant today.

Monday, January 09, 2006

 

Don't forget to dream (and then follow up)

If you're like me, it's the second week of January and some of those New Year's Resolutions already feel like an uphill climb. Things that felt very doable over a long New Years Weekend now feel much more difficult. You're back into the daily grind, personal and professional priorities are tugging at you from left and right...

But that doesn't keep the great ideas from coming. In the shower, on a run, during the commute.

It will be far too easy to let those great ideas stay on the back burner in lieu of today's fire fight, but don't let them fall off of the oven altogether.

Oprah, of all people, had a great suggestion in her "mission calendar" last week (I'm not a loyal Oprah reader, but you spend enough time surfing the Web and you find these things).

In summary: Find a dedicated place to record those great ideas, dreams, crazy concepts, etc. Categorize them if you can or must, and look back on past ideas from time to time. Think constantly about where and how those ideas could take shape or be tested.

And don't assume that the majority of those great ideas will ever see the light of day. Last night's epiphany might not make sense in the morning, but at least get it on paper. A few days of perspective and the right opportunity could be what's necessary to get the right few of those ideas into play.

Friday, January 06, 2006

 

Wow, that's a thick milkshake...

Very clever billboard advertisment from McDonald's.

Proof that great creative can still make a big difference.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

 

Telling relevant stories through creative channels

Getting your company's messages heard is no small task these days. Nearly every marekting channel is clogged, and information gate-keepers (press, analysts, infleuncers) are inundated with pitches and story ideas on an hourly basis.

To get your message across, you need to 1) have a unique, timely, and relevant story to tell, and 2) you need to be creative about how you communicate that message.

Creating a relevant story shouldn't be difficult if you know your customers, know your product, and understand what your audience (be it consumers directly, or press, or analysts) are already interested in.

Telling that story in a unique manner is typically where many companies get hung up. The easy channels, the standard channels, are within the reach of everybody - and therefore impossibly clogged. Press releases still work, but only with relevant stories - and not all of the time. Sometimes, a different approach is required.

Case in point this morning is a uniquely-told story about the slowing real estate market. HouseValues, Inc., which offers marketing and technology services to real estate professionals, released a White Paper addressing how real estate professionals can actually grow their business in the next 3-5 years, despite a changing market.

By leveraging great press relationships and a solid understanding of what both the industry and it's influencers want to hear, the story quickly appeared in Realty Times, one of the industry's most popular online news services.

And, the White Paper is being leveraged directly with prospective customers, as a means of demonstrating thought leadership in an area most agents care deeply about.

It's a relevant story, being leveraged in creative channels.

The next time you're thinking about issuing a press release, take a quick moment to consider the story you're tell, and whether you're using the right channel to effectively tell it.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

 

Acoustic sonority?

When it comes to music recommendations, do you trust man or machine?

I've recently discovered a site that comes as close to matching music recommendations as almost any trusted friend, audiofile or otherwise. Check out Pandora, and pay particular attention not only to the music they recommend based on current artists you listen to, but how they make their recommendations.

For example, I told Pandora that I liked music by Alison Krauss. It matched me with other artists who exemplified the musical style of Krauss because they featured "bluegrass instrumentation, country influences, folk influences, acoustic sonority and paired vocal harmony."

Wow...

 

Virtual Product Placements = Better Marketing, More Revenue

If they can do it in the movies, they can certainly do it on television. Product placements have been going on for years now, but adding products to television programs in post-production is quite interesting. If the product wasn't actually part of the actual shoot, it now enables:

- Products can appear for a period of time. For example, a license for a product to appear in that placement for a period of time, i.e. for another product to appear in reruns or in syndication. Coca Cola might pay for the "first run" placement, but they might be outbid for the syndication rights. That's nice, incremental revenue for the production studio.
- Products can change over time. For example, a bottle of Bud Light virtually placed last year could be replaced with a bottle of Budweiser Select this year.
- Products could change based on the audience. East Coast viewers could see a bottle of Helleman's Mayonaise, but West Coast viewers could see Best Foods.

Very interesting...


Monday, January 02, 2006

 

43 New Year's Resolutions

You probably already spent part of the holiday season creating your personal and professional objectives for 2006. If you haven't yet done this, or need some help, check out these 43 ideas to get you not just thinking differently, but doing differently.

This is actually a seven-year-old list by Bruce Mau, but urgently relevant to any businessperson today.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

 

Mr. Pibb + Red Vines = Crazy Delicious

90% of the time, successful viral content self-selects itself. Clearly Saturday Night Live didn't think that the "Lazy Sunday" skit from the December 17 episode would be such a hit, but they were at least smart enough to enable free downloads of the spot on the SNL Web site (after millions of copies were spread virally by SNL fans).

Creating viral content is important, but it's only part of the story. If your customers, fans or constituents ultimately decide which content has legs, at least be vigilant enough to identify their favorites, and then help push it along. Enable free downloads. Create tell-a-friend email features. Create and enable the channels that will allow your customers to spread your message even farther.

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