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By Aaron Broverman
Podcasting is no longer the amateur radio it was five years ago.
Shows like Radio Lab, This American Life, The Joe Rogan Experience and WTF with Marc Maron pull in millions of subscribers on iTunes worldwide and now businesses want a cut of their audience.
“Probably 80% of our client base right now are business owners who are using podcasting as an amendment to their product, to add extra value to the brand and raise more awareness of what they’re doing,” says Corey Coates, co-owner of Podfly Productions, a company providing full-service pre and post production to any business that wants a podcast to enhance its brand.
For a fee, Podfly will assist you in coming up with show ideas, buying the right equipment, editing your podcast, posting it to iTunes and everything in between.
So what can podcasting do for your business that traditional marketing methods fall short of? Coates walked us through what makes podcasting the hot marketing mechanism of the moment.
In a way nothing has been before it, podcasting is alluring to business owners not just because major brands like HBO and ESPN are already involved, but because it creates an unprecedented connection with its audience, all of whom are potential customers.
“There is something special and magical about developing a connection with a customer that is audio-based,” insists Coates.
“When I think about all the podcasts that I personally listen to, I walk around every week or I’m at the gym and I really feel like I know the person who’s behind this. You develop a very personal understanding of the man or the woman behind the business, so it’s great for a lot of people who are running companies or have products and services to able to communicate with their market on a much more intimate level.”
A Call to Action
The reality of podcasting is that only a select few podcasts can generate a large-enough audience to monetize the podcast itself, so how can a podcast truly enhance your business if it doesn’t generate money on its own?
“Having a call to action is really the key,” says Coates. “If you have a product or service that you’re using or promoting on your podcast, that’s going to get people back to your website to look further into what it is that you do.”
For example, many of Podfly’s clients have lead pages on their websites that tie directly to their podcasts. If listeners go to a page on the website and enter their email address they receive additional content related to the podcast.
“The biggest problem with podcasters today is they’re really unable to know specifically who is listening to their show,” says Coates. “It’s one thing to have a demographic where you can guesstimate who they are, but if you get someone to hit a lead page, and put in a little of their information, now you have a person you can identify and market back to.”
So how does one structure a podcast to maximize its marketing impact? Coates suggests the one-on-one interview format is the simplest way.
“There are a couple of things that start to happen when you interview leaders in industries that are related to yours. It creates a sense of instant credibility and instant authority in your field.”
Plus, as an added bonus, people who appear on your podcast tend to promote you to their network in-person and on social media, which never hurts your brand.
Another way to demonstrate your authority and create a direct relationship with your customers is by answering questions related to your field on the air from listeners who call or e-mail the show. After all, no one wants to hear an endless monologue that makes you sound like a know-it-all who’s in love with his or her own voice, but solving problems for free is something anyone can get behind.
But be warned, all the relationship-building that you’re doing can be flushed down the toilet in an instant if you fail to do one crucial thing.
“You don’t want to be asynchronous in your releases. You want to have consistency in your release schedule,” says Coates. “If you do a weekly show, make sure a show comes out every single week.”
If it doesn’t, your listener base will lose interest immediately and aggregators like iTunes will simply forget about you and stop downloading your show for subscribers.
“Consistency is key,” says Coates. “Keep your podcasts relatively short. People don’t have time to listen to you ramble on for two hours, so keep it under 45 minutes. If you get it between that 30 to 45 minutes sweet spot, that’s a great length.”
By Karen Geier
Customer retention is a topic that isn’t talked about nearly as often as it should be. There is a misapprehension that if your company doesn’t sell using a subscription-based model, then you likely don’t need to apply retention tactics. In a world where consumers are spoilt for choice and increasingly able to interact with and complain to companies online, retention is incredibly important.
The Goal of Retention
Retention is meant to make sure that customers remain loyal clients to you, maintaining or increasing their patronage of your services over time. In a world where customer acquisition costs are on the rise, retention is a great, cost-effective way to maintain and build your business.
There are simple principles at work to retain customers, but they are like chess: minutes to learn, a lifetime to master.
1. Treat customers like humans and talk to them that way
It’s an old standby for a reason: people who are successful at face-to-face selling will tell you that one-on-one human interactions sell products faster than any broadcast medium could. There is still something to be said for feeling like you’re visiting the local store for comfort and security. So make sure that when you’re communicating with your customers, you do it in a way that conveys this feeling. Treat everyone with respect – like a human who needs help that it’s your job to provide – even if that include a customer who has his or her guns blazing at you with complaints. This applies to people answering the phones as well as those who post on your social media channels.
2. Understand cadence
Cadence is the frequency by which you reach out to a customer. It has two sides to it: the speed at which you reply to customers who proactively reached out to you, and the frequency of times you proactively reach out to them. This number is different for each customer, but there are some guidelines you should follow: once a week for email is usually plenty. Monitor your email open rates for patterns. Monitor your social media reactions to understand how often your customers want to hear from you. Remember that context affects cadence. If you’re trying to win back a customer who hasn’t purchased in a while, it’s important to make the approach softer. Think: phoning a family member you haven’t seen in a while.
3. Solicit feedback – but follow through
How many times have companies solicited your opinion only for it to fall on deaf ears? How many times have you tried unsuccessfully to reach out to a company with the idea of bringing something to their attention so it can be changed? Your customers want to talk to you, but if you don’t solicit their feedback with a goal to affect change and follow through on their concerns, you might as well not be reachable. The market has changed and only responsive companies will survive in the new market. You need to build culture internally to see these comments as a positive step toward better customer satisfaction, implement changes quickly, and when complete, tell your customers what action you took. You will be amazed at the loyalty this will inspire.
4. Follow up after major events
If you notice that a customer who used to shop often with you has tapered off, there’s an opportunity to find out why. Similarly, if you notice someone has increased his or her frequency or order value with you, you should reach out to them, offering assistance and finding out what has changed for them. You may just find opportunities to help customers who will then spread their positive stories to others. Retention of these types of customers can lead to lower-cost acquisitions through positive word-of-mouth.
5. Inspire loyalty
There’s something uniquely frustrating about being a long-term client of a company only to find out that every fair-weather new customer is getting a better deal. Remember: customers are actively sharing promotions online and if you show you only care to incentivize the new customers, and not thank the old ones, you’re missing a golden opportunity to retain loyal, vocal customers. Consider a plan that is uniquely tailored to the individual and his or her shopping habits. The gesture and not the value of the incentive will be remembered and shared by those customers.
Retention is a great way to keep your client base happy, loyal, and actively recommending your company. Don’t discount the necessity of retaining clients. With the right cadence and an open attitude, you can increase the purchase frequency and value of customers who already like your product. Don’t be quick to discount those who haven’t purchased in a while. They could hold the keys to improving your product for your entire customer base.
By Karen Geier
Crowdfunding has brought thousands of new products to the world and helped vault companies into household names from just an idea or a sketch, but more often today established companies are inviting fans and followers to help invest in new product lines and their company’s future.
Is crowdfunding right for your organization?
Successful crowdfunding requires you to follow a few steps, but it’s most important to work out in advance whether crowdfunding is a good fit for your company’s goals.
Do you have a brand that people love?
This seems like an obvious question, but it’s one that separates the companies trying to jump on the “viral” bandwagon from companies that legitimately want to build consumer-focused products.
You need to be honest about your brand. Pull data on sentiment from online sources and gauge the responses with a view to how these same people would react to your campaign.
Crowdfunding works because the public is more likely to support something when they have their own money on the line, and having a positive association with your brand is a cornerstone to that behaviour.
Do you have a brand you can actually innovate?
Crowdfunded projects that succeed are all coveted items that transform an industry. Crowdfunding a special edition of an existing product is a bad idea. Think way outside the box when you’re looking to crowdfund.
Do you have the internal staff to launch, maintain, and fulfill the campaign?
Crowdfunding is hard work. It requires a lot of planning upfront, the creation of a compelling video, and maintenance and fulfillment staff. One of the hallmarks of a well-executed crowdfunding campaign is the responsiveness of the campaign to its backers. Plan for key team members to oversee and pull in other staff as needed.
Do you have a manufacturer who can help you create your product on a tight timeline?
Before you put any effort into the creation of your campaign, make sure you have a lock-tight manufacturing plan and know what production gates and shipping concerns that manufacturer has. Often, items shipped from overseas take days to produce and months to ship.
Do you have a contingency plan if you can’t raise the money?
If your crowdfunding campaign fails to raise enough money, do you have a contingency plan for topping up the remaining funds? Or will you just abandon the project? What will your messaging look like in case this happens? Figure out these details so you’re not caught off guard.
Crowdfunding Best Practices
Prime your fans in advance
If you’re planning on mounting a crowdfunding effort, the first step is to ask your fans and followers what they might like to see next from your company. You may even consider turning this into a contest. What you’re looking for is enough response for you to be reasonably sure that if you build it, they will come.
In the run up to your campaign kickoff, make sure your email and social media efforts plant the seed of your campaign
Make an engaging video
There are many resources available on how to construct a crowdfunding video correctly, but the most important things to keep in mind are:
Get your social media in order and post regularly
Do not launch your crowdfunding campaign without a complete social media strategy and some tactical pieces thoroughly worked out. Try to tease out your product and make it irresistible. Make all of your messaging uniform and exciting.
Set achievable tiers for average consumers
Pricing is one of the hardest parts of business, and you only get one shot at it. Crowdfunding is no different. Make sure the funding tiers for your product take into account the average person’s spending power. Make the freebies in these tiers meaningful and worthwhile.
Make your premiums irresistible
On the other hand, in the upper echelons, when people are making a big bet on you, make sure there is a sufficient payoff. Call in favors. Put together one-of-a-kind experiences to make sure those tiers get snatched up first.
Crowdfunding can be a great way to bolster your relationship with fans and build your next big business idea. Take time and plan ahead for success.
By Tannette Johnson-Elie
Twitter has become the place for digital, word-of-mouth marketing and a growing number of marketers and small businesses are leveraging the micro-blogging site to build their brands and market their products and services.
But with 500 million tweets sent out a day, it’s hard to get noticed.
If you’re on Twitter, there’s no doubt you have probably struggled to come up with something fresh and interesting to talk about. Getting attention on Twitter against the incessant chatter can be a challenge. After all, the conversation is non-stop much like tuning into multiple radio stations simultaneously and catching only bits and pieces of each conversation.
It can be hard to stand out on Twitter and set yourself apart from your competitors. A common mistake many marketers and smaller businesses make is they treat Twitter like a broadcasting tool for self-promotion, says Aaron Lee, a social media manager and entrepreneur whose social media expertise and insights have been featured on such prominent websites as The Huffington Post, Social Media Examiner, Mashable and others.
“It’s just another tool for them to advertise themselves,” says Lee, who also is the Grand Master of Customer Delight at Post Planner, a platform that helps businesses gain an extra edge on Facebook. “When they do pure advertising, people ignore them because no one wants to go into social media platforms like Twitter just for them to be bombarded with ads.”
Many people don’t fully understand how Twitter works and to no fault of their own. That’s mainly because Twitter executives haven’t come up with a clear explanation of what exactly the micro-blogging site is meant to be, Lee said.
“Unlike Facebook, where the goal is to network with your friends, Twitter can’t seem to explain what they are,” says Lee. “For me, Twitter is a networking tool. It’s so open that anyone can network with one another. That’s the power of Twitter.”
With a little ingenuity and creativity, you can improve your tweets and get noticed. Lee shares his best tips on how you can win on Twitter:
Pretend you’re at a large conference; the way to effective networking at a conference is to listen to others first, Lee says.
“This is how Twitter works,” he said. “Everyone is speaking, but they are not listening and if that happens at a conference that you are attending, you’ll lose people’s attention. Listen to what people are saying. It’s all about building a foundation first.”
Don’t automate your tweets
While it’s OK to automate on Twitter, you shouldn’t automate the entire process like auto responding, Lee says.
“Even if you automate your tweets, you should jump into conversations,” he said.
Research shows that visual content tends to receive the highest number of shares on social media because it doesn’t require a lot of reading. Not only is visual content a good way to share your story and express your thoughts and opinions, visual tweets instantly pop out from the rest of the stream, says Lee.
“Visuals are the best way to stand out. If you’re not using them, you’ve not been standing out,” he said.
Personalize your tweets
It’s easy to tweet interesting blog posts and articles that you’ve read or to retweet others, but this won’t help you to get noticed on Twitter. You can set yourself apart by adding your own opinion, question or commentary to your tweets.
“Don’t just use headlines and tweet them; instead, personalize the tweets,” said Lee. “That keeps it different and makes it unique.”
Don’t be afraid to show your personality. This is by far the most important tip when it comes to standing out, Lee says. “Instead of trying to be someone else, you simply have to be you,” he said. “If you’re fun, show your fun side. Don’t hold back.”
By Karen Geier
Social media is all about word of mouth, but before there was social media, marketing campaigns used testimonials to help amplify positive word of mouth about products and services.
The testimonial has gone in and out of fashion, but it quickly became one of the reasons that people went online at the dawn of the internet. Sites worth billions of dollars got that way by providing unbiased testimonials of products that simply weren’t available anywhere else.
Then, the astroturfers moved in. PR firms and companies with a need to control bad reviews thought they could even the playing field using dirty tactics to make canned reviews from companies appear legitimate. This muddied the waters so much it caused lawsuits for some companies and led to a decline of leveraging testimonials.
People are still seeking out advice on everything from upcoming movies to dentists, though, and smart companies have learned how to leverage testimonials properly
Benefits of testimonials
Positive testimonials can persuade someone to purchase your product over a competitor’s, but even neutral or negative reviews could help your business. Often, negative reviews are caused by something out of the control of the company or simply a matter of taste (for instance: reviews of restaurants often complain about matters of personal taste such as music or lighting). Neutral testimonials are still useful to consumers because they often highlight the pluses and minuses of the product, and readers of neutral reviews, or reviews with some negatives are often rated “most helpful” due to their authenticity. You might not lead with neutral or negative reviews, but you shouldn’t let the fear of a negative review prevent your company from soliciting and leveraging testimonials.
Don’t try to hide negative reviews – get better testimonials
Just like your regrettable Facebook photos, bad reviews live forever online. Does this mean you should fear what people will say? It comes down to a basic principle: no two people ever agree on anything, and some people who write reviews are unreliable narrators.
How do you counter negative reviews? A two-step process is your best bet.
First, find a way to reach out to the wronged party and see if there is a way you can make their experience right. You may save the review, or get an updated review, which turns a loss into a big win. People will see your company as one that’s willing to be fair and transparent with customers
The next step to countering negative reviews is to solicit great testimonials. Search online or use a listening tool to find testimonials from normal consumers and keep a spreadsheet of these testimonials.
You can also reach out to influencers in your vertical market and ask them to review your product. There are a few caveats to this: you cannot compensate these influencers with anything more than free product – that’s to keep the testimonial “clean” and not considered a sponsored review; and you will have to allow those reviewers to review your product in their own way, which may include negative feedback.
If you’re not paying a reviewer, and he or she could possibly negatively review you, how can you control the situation? Communication.
Guiding the testimonial process
There are a few ways your company can keep some measure of control over the review process. The first method is to have a supervised review process. You can conduct these one-on-one with reviewers or with a group of reviewers at a time, similar to a focus group. The benefit is complete control over the experience – from which features you demonstrate, to what order the value propositions are delivered. The disadvantage of this method is that you might get a restrained, tepid review. Reviewers can be picky about their process, so you need to choose this review method wisely according to the personality of the reviewer.
The other method of guiding a review is to assign a point person to each reviewer who is available at a moment’s notice to answer reviewer questions. This can help you get through possible upsets to the review process, such as a malfunctioning product or incomplete instructions. It also allows your team to gather and compile pain points for you to solve and develop corrective messaging for.
Making the most of gathered testimonials
Once you have a mix of consumer and influencer testimonials you can use them in social media posts or as jumping off points for blog posts. You can include them in press releases or even use them in email campaigns, and ask for fans to submit their own.
Testimonials can help legitimize your product and help consumers get more comfortable with the idea of purchasing your product. Evangelical fans are great, but influencer testimonials are an asset too.
Although we justify our decisions with logic, it’s no secret that most of those decisions are based on emotion – and that’s largely driven by what we experience with our senses. Advertisers have leveraged this fact for decades by using visually stimulating images that we quickly process and retain.
So how can you take advantage of this emotional hook as a PR professional? In our always-on world, if you can’t grab someone’s attention instantly and keep it long enough to get your message across, you’ve lost the opportunity.
One way to capture and hold attention is to use images in your news releases. An infographic goes a step beyond that. It is both compelling and visually walks people through your key messages so they can quickly grasp what’s important and share the information with others.
Click on each image below to see how Marketwired clients use infographics in news releases:
FIVE RULES OF THUMB FOR USING INFOGRAPHICS IN YOUR NEWS RELEASES
Before you venture into the land of infographics, consider that they tend to be time-consuming and resource-intensive to create, so it pays to do the groundwork first. Here are five rules of thumb when developing an infographic to accompany a news release.
1) Analyze your raw information. An infographic is a great way to explain a detailed concept or an idea that is more effectively explained in a visual form than in text. Before you jump into the graphics, though, make sure you carefully analyze all the data and information you have. Is there a complete, single story? Are there are any holes getting from point A to point B? If either of these elements is absent, the flow of elements won’t make sense, the reader will get confused and you’ll lose credibility.
2) Identify the most important, interesting points. These are what form the wireframe of your infographic. Do they directly relate to the content in your news release? If so, great. However, at this stage you may find out the infographic doesn’t exactly support what you are announcing. If that’s the case, don’t try to twist the data to make it fit. You might want to change the slant of your release or use a video or other type of image if you find out the two aren’t aligning.
3) Choose your format wisely. There are several basic infographic formats to choose from, but your content will largely determine which one you use. Within each, the sky’s the limit for creativity. You may be comparing two or more ideas, answering a question, teaching a lesson, or guiding the viewer through a chronological sequence. Your infographic may be number- and chart-heavy, and/or it may incorporate photos and illustrations. Your content may be serious or funny.
4) Keep it clear and simple. This is particularly important when using an infographic to accompany a news release. Even through it can be clicked to full size, when it’s embedded in your release an infographic appears small. If there are too many small elements within it that are visually competing with each other it could be repelling instead of compelling. You don’t want your infographic to look like someone randomly threw a collage of images and numbers together.
5) Think about social sharing. A good infographic will appeal to your target audiences – journalists, social influencers and consumers – and they will want to share it. Since that activity now often takes place on smart phones and tablets your infographic needs to be legible on the small screen. That’s why it’s even more important to keep it free of clutter and to use at least 12 pt. text for readibility. But you also want your infographic to work on blogs and larger-screen formats as well, so make sure you start with high-res images – ideally 1000 X 500 at 72 dpi so when clicked to full size the resolution is clear.
Bottom line: Don’t include an infographic with your news release just for the sake of including an infographic. In other words, don’t force it. You must be confident that an infographic is the best way to get across the concept in your news release and will help people more easily understand and want to share your key messages.
By Tannette Johnson-Elie
People often think of Instagram as simply a place to share ‘selfies’ and fun snapshots of what you ate for lunch or crazy pet photos, but research shows the business potential of this visual social platform is pretty substantial, especially if you’re in the e-commerce or online retail business.
With 200-million users capturing and sharing their lives through photos daily, Instagram is now as important as Twitter and Facebook, the giants of social media. If you’re looking to boost your e-commerce or online retail biz, it would be a smart move to have a presence on Instagram.
Here’s why: More than 55 million photos are uploaded on Instagram daily, making it a virtual goldmine for companies and brands that figure out how to use the photo-driven site to their advantage.
While Instagram now is one of the fastest growing social media platforms, it is one of the most underutilized apps by marketers, social media analysts say.
Nevertheless, brands that embrace Instagram are seeing a significant boost in engagement, research shows. This is particularly the case for online retail businesses, professional sports teams, and fast-food chains that have the ability to lure consumers with visually compelling content.
“The reason Instagram is so successful for businesses is because like most social channels, it’s all about showcasing your personality and there’s no quicker way to do that than with photos,” says Sarah Quinn, a copywriter and Instagram expert for Wyzowl, a content marketing agency based in the UK that has customers in the U.S, Europe and other countries.
“In fact, studies by Hewlett Packard show that people remember 80% of what they see and just 10% of what they read, making Instagram an extremely valuable tool,” she said.
Here’s more reason to promote your business on Instagram: It touts the most engagement and the highest conversion from browser to shopping, according to a recent report by L2, a subscription-based, business intelligence service that benchmarks the digital competence of brands. The report also shows that 92% of luxury brands who post an average of 5.5 times a week on Instagram increase their customer base, as reported in a recent article by the business magazine Fast Company.
Brands like Starbucks, Nike and Burberry are killing the competition on Instagram. These brands have become standouts by being authentic and allowing their customers to see them in a different light. For example, it would be easy for Burberry to bombard its customers with boring images of clothing; instead the high-end clothing retailer posts cool pictures of London, where it’s based.
In another example, Nike ran what is perhaps one of the most successful Instagram campaigns to date: Nike’s PHOTOiD, which allowed fans to customize a shoe inspired by a photo on their Instagram feed.
That said, you may be wondering how you can stand out above your competition on Instagram. Quinn, of Wyzowl, provided the following advice for marketers and business owners looking to increase their visibility on Instagram:
Post behind-the-scenes images
Provide followers with a genuine glimpse into your life and what you’re seeing, feeling or experiencing at the moment.
“Show your followers what you get up to in your day, or take pictures of fun events/fundraisers/team building days, etc., “ Quinn said. “To get the right people interested in your page, you should also be posting images of your product or service.”
Use relevant hashtags to gain more photo views
Hashtags are extremely important on Instagram just as they are on Twitter. Hashtags enable people to find photos of specific subjects of interest to them. Quinn recommends doing research to determine the most popular hashtags and use them for your images.
“The good thing about Instagram is you can add as many hashtags to your post as you like, and you won’t risk annoying people by doing so – you’ll just gain more likes,” Quinn said.
Run an Instagram Competition
Instagram contests are a great way to engage potential customers, gain followers and build brand awareness. Choose a cool prize to entice people to enter your contest. Make it something relevant to your business like a gift card for the products or services you sell.
“Get people to send you a photo and use a unique hashtag, so you get to see all entrants in one place,” Quinn said.
Maintain an active presence
While Instagram isn’t as demanding as Facebook or Twitter, it does require a certain level of consistency, says Quinn.
“You should only post an image once or twice a day, and your image could be anything, so it’s so much easier than thinking about what you could write for your next tweet,” she said. “If you really don’t have any time to do it, think about speaking to a content marketing agency to help take the load off. “
By Aaron Broverman
Out of the ashes of failure, the seeds of success are sewn. With that in mind, we bring you the greatest marketing failures of all-time in hopes that you may learn from them and not make the same mistakes.
10. Dr. Pepper Sees Disaster in Chinese Democracy
The Guns N’ Roses album Chinese Democracy had reportedly been in development since 1994. But, with tensions running high and every member of the band’s original line-up except Axl Rose leaving and being replaced by new members more than once, the album became more of a rumour than a reality.
This is why Dr. Pepper was so confident when it announced that it would give a free can of pop to everyone in America if G.N.R. released Chinese Democracy in 2008. Too bad the band called Dr. Pepper’s bluff and completed the album in the allotted time. Suddenly, the beverage brand had to honour a promise that it had no real intention to fulfill. When the unlikely happened, Dr. Pepper directed people to a website where for 24 hours they could claim a coupon for a free drink. So many responded it crashed the site and many didn’t get anything. To make matters worse, Axl Rose himself sued Dr. Pepper and demanded the company apologize to fans who couldn’t claim their pop.
What We Can Learn: Never make promises you are unprepared to deliver, no matter how unlikely it seems you won’t get to fulfill them. Make sure you have the infrastructure and scale in place to meet the demand for your product or giveaway because without that, you could be facing a public-relations nightmare.
9. The Cartoon Network Bomb Scare
In 2007, The Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim programming block launched what would become the penultimate example of guerrilla marketing gone wrong. In a clandestine effort to promote the first full-length film based on the absurdist cartoon series Aqua Teen Hunger Force, a group of artists posted these Lite Brite-like circuit boards featuring the show’s pixelated Mooninite characters Ignignokt and Err on public structures around the city of Boston. What they, and Cartoon Network’s parent company Turner Broadcasting, failed to take into account was that such a stunt wouldn’t be possible in the age of 9/11 without causing an incident, especially when these boards featured a bizarre creature waving his middle finger and complex electrical circuits laid out for no obvious reason. Many mistook the unorthodox ads as bombs and Turner had to pay $2 million to the Boston Police Department for the resulting investigation.
What We Can Learn: Guerrilla Marketing can appear random and spontaneous to the public, but it shouldn’t when it comes to the authorities. Always inform the local police of what you’re doing and get the permits and licenses that are necessary from the city to pull off such public spectacles. One of the mistakes the PR firm behind this campaign made was that they still didn’t tell the police or Homeland Security this was only an ad campaign for a movie even after the bomb scare investigation was set in motion.
8. Pepsi’s Grave Mistake
Pepsi was originally marketed as an elixir to put pep back in your step, so it’s no surprise that their slogan at one time was “Pepsi Brings You Back to Life.” Perfectly sensible for the North American market, but when it was extended to China, Pepsi’s powers of revitalization went far beyond the corporeal realm because in Chinese “Pepsi Brings You Back to Life” translates to “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Grave,” which greatly confused those customers.
What We Can Learn: Pepsi’s mistake here shows a cultural arrogance that what works in one place will automatically work in another. Sure, the results are a little funny in this case, but the problem is so simple to solve. All someone would have to do to avoid this is a little bit of cultural research or, better yet, someone from Pepsi’s marketing department could have asked a native speaker what the English slogan really means in Chinese.
7. Good Thing You Don’t Have Ayds
Ayds was actually a popular diet candy in the 1970s and early ’80s until it was saddled with the unfortunate luck of having the same-sounding name as AIDS the disease. Not only that, but those battling the disease lose copious amounts of weight, so the product’s purpose became a cruel joke in more ways than just its name. Of course, the diet chew could not recover from the unavoidable association and eventually went out of business.
What We Can Learn: The story of Ayds is a lesson in re-branding and not doing it soon enough. The moment its product was confused with the disease, the company should have relaunched it with a completely different name, as if the old product never existed. When things change, you have to pivot fast. No sense going down with the ship by holding onto a past that isn’t serving you.
6. Life Call has Fallen and It Can’t Get Up!
We’ve all heard the tagline: “I’ve fallen… and I can’t get up!” It’s from an old commercial for a medic-alert system for seniors called Life Call. When they’re in distress, they would simply press the button around their neck and emergency personnel would be on the way. It’s a serious product that no doubt saves lives, but the stilted delivery of the actress that delivered the above line in a commercial that ran in the late ’80s and early ’90s ensured that Life Call would be ripe for parody and mockery,
What We Can Learn: A quality product doesn’t just end with the device itself, it’s also about the quality of the advertising and marketing behind it. In this case, it came down to not surrounding the production of this commercial with a quality script and a quality actress to deliver the line. Since they either didn’t have the time, the budget or the inclination to write a more authentic script or get an actress who could deliver the line in a more realistic fashion, the hokey commercial was the result and it almost sank the brand’s intended purpose in America.
5. Fail to the King
When ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky took over the Burger King account in 2003, it used a caricature of The Burger King character as a mascot in the ads. However, the painted, soundless and plastic expression on his face gave nothing but a creepy vibe that viewers instantly picked up on. At first, the commercials were a success on the strength of word-of-mouth, but soon that initial favour began to wane as viewers became confused about the message of such creepy commercials. Never really gaining an advertising foothold, Burger King finally fired CP + B and retired The Burger King character in 2011.
What We Can Learn: The Burger King fiasco was the reason focus groups were invented and it served as a lesson in testing your ideas against the real world before you release them. Feedback can be good, true and useful and had the group at CP +B been able to penetrate the bubble of its sanctum sanctorum, they would have seen they had a problem rather quickly and may never had visited The Burger King upon America’s unsuspecting consciousness in the first place.
4. Jagermeister’s Poison Pool Party
Jagermeister knew its customers liked to party, but when the organizers behind a Jagermeister-sponsored pool party in Leon, Mexico combined the pool’s chlorine with liquid nitrogen in an attempt to create a “smoke on the water” effect, what it got was a noxious fog over the water that rendered partygoers unconscious and unable to breathe. The mistake sent nine people to the hospital and put one person in a coma.
What We Can Learn: This health and safety disaster could have been avoided if someone had just googled “liquid nitrogen and chlorine.” What they would have found is the chemical nitrogen trichloride, which is a lethal poison similar to ammonia with similar properties to the mustard gas used on the front lines of WWI. All this would have required was simple research at the very least and a health and safety monitor at the most. It probably would not have hurt to have EMS standing by either.
3. It Ain’t Easy Being Edsel
Often called the worst car of all-time, the Edsel is one of those legendary failures of automotive history. But it wasn’t the car that had problems, it was the marketing. After all, the car may have been a gas-guzzler and a tad expensive, but it was no less functional than a Mercury and that’s part of the reason Ford lost $400 million inside of three years on the car. Part of the problem was the Edsel suffered from overblown advertising hype – like the car could float on air – but was actually almost identical to Ford’s Mercury without adding anything new. Mercury and the Edsel were actually manufactured in the same factory, which led to a mix-up of parts that led to technical issues that killed any demand there ever was. Top that with 1957’s recession and the Edsel was doomed.
What We Can Learn: Of course the recession was a factor beyond Ford’s control, but it could have managed its quality control better and it could have made the Edsel different enough to appeal to the American public. As a business you can never rest on your previous successes, you must always be innovating – and as a marketer, it’s important to sell the reality, not the hype.
2. Adults Aren’t Lovin’ It
In 1996, McDonald’s spent $100 million on an advertising campaign for the Arch Deluxe. Billed as a burger for a more grown-up and sophisticated taste, it was a large patty on a potato-flour roll with lettuce, tomato and a secret sauce that was some combination of mustard and mayo. On its face it sounded okay. After all, McDonald’s has launched a lot of other products to great success like the McRib and the McWrap, but this disappeared almost as soon as it had arrived and the other products in a planned line of adult-oriented deluxe foodstuffs were put on hold.
What We Can Learn: Sometimes if you move too far from what you’re known for and good at too fast, your customers will rebel and that’s exactly what happened here. McDonald’s introduced a product that was vastly ahead of its time and may be better suited on a menu in today’s foodie culture. Not to mention that the burger was much more expensive than whatever was on the rest of the menu, which violated the promise of value McDonalds made their name on.
1. If it Ain’t Coke, Don’t Fix It
The number-one marketing failure of all time is widely considered to be this one. It concerns that time in 1985 when Coca-Cola decided to change the 100-year-old Coke formula into what it called a better and sweeter version that it insisted taste testers said was better than Pepsi and the old formula. However, people revolted and demanded the old formula back almost as soon as New Coke hit the shelves and one of the biggest corporations on earth had to do a swift about-face by bringing back the old formulation under the label of Coca-Cola Classic.
What We Can Learn: When you are the steward of a century-old brand it’s important to recognize what made it so successful for all those years. The old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” applies here. What the executives at Coke underestimated when they took the positive results of the initial taste tests at face value was the population’s nostalgia for and attachment to the classic taste of Coca-Cola. Mess with the best, fail like the rest.
By Kelli Korducki
Thanks to an ever-growing array of remote conferencing technologies like Google Hangouts and Skype, and the power of the Internet in general, virtual workplaces are becoming increasingly widespread. It isn’t tough to figure out their appeal: the flexibility offered by a remote work environment has perks for employers and employees alike. For workers, the option to work from home means less time wasted on commuting and, even, an invitation to feel more individually empowered—two crucial factors for improving morale and, ultimately, getting more accomplished on the job. For employers, managing staffers from afar also opens up the talent pool to people and skill sets from across the globe. A double-win, right? Well, not so fast.
The reality is, while virtual work environments offer perks aplenty, there are challenges that a company must contend with when a physical office space is pulled from the equation. The biggest of these virtual workspace hurdles is maintaining a sense of team unity. Every employer who manages remote staff members should be actively seeking out strategies for ensuring that all members of their team feel like they’re on the same page, work-wise, even when they aren’t working from a shared location. Failing to do so isn’t just a threat to internal cohesion, but can lead to unfocused messaging and even weaken an organization’s brand.
Chris Byers is the CEO of Formstack, a data management firm based out of Indianapolis. For the company’s first six years, the team was totally office-based. Then, in the summer of 2012, Byers’ wife was offered a dream job in Oklahoma.
“I was like, alright,” Byers recalls. “I can make this work somehow.” He traveled back and forth for some time, but quickly realized that a remote workplace setup wasn’t so far-fetched—a realization that soon dawned on some of his staffers, as well. Shortly after Byers’ own move, members of the team made the move to Chicago and San Francisco, but continued remotely working for Formstack. It was a tentative transition, but one that proved successful; for the past year, the option to work remotely has been wide open to anyone who seeks it out. Fifteen of Formstack’s 35 employees work outside of the company’s main office, and Byers has staff based as far away as Poland.
But how does Byers keep the team feeling like, well, a team?
“We have the virtual version of a water cooler,” he explains. It’s an instant messaging tool called Chit Chat that allows users to set up different “rooms” for one-on-one chats or group gatherings. One room is literally called “the water cooler,” where animated GIFs get thrown around all day by team members in between jokes and useful information.
The team also uses an internal wiki to store information. Additionally, every Tuesday all company members gather on a video chat to share what’s happening in every department. While Byers admits it isn’t necessarily the most productive meeting, it at least offers everyone the regular opportunity to see each other face-to-face. The entire company comes together once a year to physically meet, in-person.
While these strategies have helped everyone feel united on a personal level, Byers finds that Formstack’s biggest challenge as a virtual team has been figuring out the company’s culture and direction—key components of consistent messaging.
“We spent a lot of time really trying to define what our culture is, why we exist, where we’re going, and documenting that into what we call our ‘playbook,’” he says. “You catch things when you’re physically around people. It’s much harder to catch culture when you’re remote.”
Sara McManigal, director of talent at the email marketing company Emma, Inc., knows this well. With staffers based in the company’s main office in Nashville, a satellite office in Portland, and a few workers scattered across New York, Charlotte and Denver, making sure that everyone is on the same page can be a challenge.
“It’s an ongoing conversation about keeping everyone connected,” she says.
While Emma uses a chat room, the company has also found it helpful to establish point of contact in the Nashville office for what McManigal describes as “cultural things,” to keep everyone working from home or different cities apprised of what’s going on. That way, if the Nashville office hosts a company lunch or after-work get-together, the Portland office can feel empowered to do the same. The firm also hosts an annual talent week that culminates in a company talent show, in addition to a yearly holiday party.
While the company has been virtual for six years, ensuring that the ship runs smoothly as a geographically scattered enterprise requires constant adaptation and correcting for what might not be working. It also means being honest about priorities and goals, and keeping everyone on the same level. Most important, it’s about making sure everyone keeps in touch.
“Constant communication is really, really important,” says McManigal.
By Karen Geier
If you’re reading newspapers online you’ll notice something different about them from a few years ago: paywalls. Now, instead of complete, unfettered access to your favorite newspaper, you are limited to a certain number of articles per month, and then after that, you will need to pay.
What you may not know is that brands are slowly adopting a tiered content model, and while it may not depend on buying a subscription, the reader is expected to complete a transaction.
Is this new model of premium content a fit for your brand? How can you implement this type of content model?
As brands become publishers, they’ve exhausted all the ways they can monitor the funnel between their content and a purchase, so they’ve turned to other models to qualify potential buyers and get their permission to market to them earlier in the process. This new model works well for many brands, but it may not necessarily work for yours if your brand:
If your organization falls outside of these notable exceptions, a premium content model might be for you.
Defining Premium Content
The word “Premium” describes the value a customer puts on your content. It has very little to do with the time, effort, or money you might put into creating the content. Premium content should offer something the customer can’t get anywhere else, for instance:
You want to offer your customers not only something informational or genuinely entertaining in nature, but you also want to think in terms of areas where your competitors haven’t been treading to get the most interest from customers.
Why Have Premium Content
Content is the best way to qualify and acquire customers, and having premium content is like having a loyalty program. Loyalty programs give regular users of a system special perks for the time and expense they spend using a product or service. In exchange, the brand gets to know these high-value customers more easily and can tailor services to them. Premium content is a loyalty program for your brand’s publishing efforts. While you offer great content and experiences, a customer provides more information so they can learn more. This is a great way to make customers feel special and for your organization to foster a stronger relationship with its customer base.
Ways to Make Content Exclusive
While your brand is indeed a publisher, it’s not a publisher in the way that the New York Times is. You shouldn’t put premium content behind a pay wall. People simply won’t pay cash for your content.
Instead, you should think about ways in which you can put your content behind an opt-in or permission wall. This includes asking users to “pay with a tweet” (to notify their networks they are engaging with your content). Gating is another popular method set up by many blogs, whereby a user is interrupted and asked to Like a Facebook page or otherwise follow that brand.
Another method to permission-gate your content is to simply prompt the user to sign up for content digests from your brand. This way, as a customer interacts with your newsletter, you can get to know them better, and subdivide your list to target customers for special offers, events, and more as your relationship progresses. You can even adopt the LinkedIn model and ask these customers for more information as they move forward with you, and ask them for their preferences along the way, so you can tailor to their experiences as your relationship progresses.
This is not only a great way to get to know your customers, but is also a great way to A/B-test your content and to inform your free content too.
Extending Your Premium Model
If your premium content is working out well for your brand, consider extending your brand options by holding small, exclusive events for your customers. Consider allowing them early access to new products, or an exclusive version of a product, or issuing personalized versions of swag for them. This will help you galvanize loyalty with this group.
Premium content is a gateway to customer loyalty and a new breed of influencers who can help you spread qualified word-of-mouth without additional spend on your brand’s part. A little planning, and setting up a good funnel to capture and increase permissions is all you need.