In the Office

Leveraging Opportunities at Tradeshows

As my colleague wrote in an earlier post, most marketers have a love-hate relationship with tradeshows. They surely have a purpose, but can be a drain on time, money and resources if a company does not take full advantage of the opportunity. What’s the opportunity? Your customers, partners, prospects, media, bloggers and other key influencers are all there.

So, what should your company consider doing at a tradeshow in addition to buying booth space and staffing it every hour of a show? Here are some ideas:

Tradeshow booths are great places to network, but make sure you venture out to get the most benefit from a tradeshow investment.

Face-to-Face Meetings – Schedule meetings with media and bloggers just like you would with customers and partners. These meetings are a great way for influencers interact with key spokespeople, see products and show off your booth. Don’t forget to leverage any local media opportunities – you may not be in this market for another year.

Press Kits – Bring press kits to put in the press room. Press kits should contain information about your company as well as current news.

Press Conferences or Press Breakfast – Have something to announce and/or showcase? Media and bloggers from all over the country gather at tradeshows. Much better odds to get them together at a tradeshow than at a standalone event.

Videos – Since many of your customers, partners and other influencers will have gathered at the tradeshow, consider scheduling time to video them – videos can be used for sales meetings, in internal communication

vehicles, on your website, and/or for social media.

Research – Take advantage of the captive audience. Conduct research right on the tradeshow floor. You can then use the research for social media, PR and/or internal development.

Speaking – Many tradeshows have educational sessions where attendees can learn about trends, hear points of view on issues and even get a sneak peak at a new technology. It’s worth checking out if there are any speaking opportunities you or your colleagues could pursue.

Sponsorships – Look into sponsorship opportunities at the show. There may be an opportunity too good to pass up.

Other opportunities to consider? Advertising, signage, parties, guerilla marketing, and much more.

How Tough Are KIOTI Tractors?

You’re about to find out. We call this “Change You” and it’s one of two new spots we recently created for KIOTI.

A Look at Super Bowl Commercials: Live on WRAL

Last night people from all over the world tuned in to watch the Super Bowl – one of the biggest sporting events on the planet. Many tuned in to watch the game, but recent studies have shown just as many, if not more, tuned in just for the commercials. HM&P Creative Director Billy Barnes was invited by the WRAL news team to discuss this year’s ads and share his thoughts about what brands are doing to live up to the hype. See his interview here.

Creative director names best, worst Super Bowl commercials

HM&P's own Billy Barnes shares insight on the 2013 Superbowl ads on WRAL.

One of the most discussed ads is the Paul Harvey tribute to farmers. Billy explained how Dodge was successful at establishing an emotional connection with the audience, which is exactly what a brand wants to do. This connection draws users in, making the message of the brand more memorable.

Another highlight from last night’s collection was the Pizza Hut ad. Pizza Hut was able to incorporate social media into its commercial in order to engage its customers weeks before the ad even aired. According to Billy, by starting this conversation ahead of time a brand is able to get more bang for its buck with a commercial spot – an important takeaway for budget-savvy advertisers.

Other notable mentions were the “great storytelling” of the Audi prom date commercial as well as the Taco Bell ‘Viva Young’ spot, which Billy called “fantastic.”

What are your thoughts? Do you have a favorite commercial from Super Bowl XLVII? Let us know in the comments.


Looking Ahead to 2013

As each year draws to a close, we as communicators naturally start to reflect on the news we saw unfold, the trends that came to fruition and how these all impact our daily lives. More importantly, we try to look ahead, identify emerging trends and brace ourselves for change and evolution.

2012 was packed with events and advancements that will add color to marketing history: the U.S. Presidential election, the Lance Armstrong scandal, the continued growth of mobile apps, Facebook’s IPO and subsequent stock plummeting  — just to name a few. Mainstream media had its hands full covering all of the above. But 2012 was really no different than any other year. No year will ever be dull when it comes to news and technological advancements with far-reaching implications.

What will 2013 bring? We’ll see many of the same trends that emerged in 2012 really take shape in the New Year. I think it’s safe to say that we’ll see an increase in the use of visuals to communicate with one another. Even with all the existing technology that makes work and life more efficient, we still long for the human touch. Visual images draw us in and force us to feel a deeper connection. For this reason, we’ll start to see more business applications of Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube and infographics to reach a broader audience. These new visual communications tools are enabling modern society to more easily digest, interpret and act on information.

In 2013, mobile will continue to impact the way marketers think about messaging and consumption. The concept of “social, local, mobile” (SoLoMo) has demonstrated how consumers want to consume content. As marketers continue to take their websites and apps mobile, their content must address all three dimensions in order to meet users’ needs and desires.

In 2011, eMarketer predicted that U.S. online video ad spend would grow 52.1 percent to $2.16 billion in 2011, before reaching $7.11 billion in 2015. Without a doubt, YouTube and other video channels will play a major role in brand communications. Often underestimated, video – when used properly – can be highly engaging, drive brand loyalty and keep customers coming back for more. Marketers should explore ways to leverage video, even with limited budgets.

What other trends do you expect to emerge? How will your company use new social media, mobile or video applications to reach existing and new audiences? We’d love to hear!

My Favorite Time of Year

Sure I love the Fall because it gets cooler, football season is finally back and the leaves change color, but as a marketer I really love Fall because that means we are approaching planning season. It is the time of year we get to look back at what we have accomplished and look forward to the future. We get to have long brainstorm sessions with our clients and think through the best strategies to meet the opportunities and challenges their brands face.

As you look forward to Halloween and Thanksgiving don’t forget to pull out your planning hat and remember to keep three things in mind to ensure you have a solid Marketing Communications Plan for 2013.

Business Planning 2013 Diagram

  1. Update Your SWOT: Too often marketers neglect to reassess their company or brand’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Looking at these internal and external factors is critical to developing realistic goals and objectives and the supporting strategies.
  2. Look For Trends: You should be staying on top of this throughout the year, but now is the time to revisit the articles, surveys and research you have been collecting to pull out implications. Finding out things like how your audience is currently consuming digital and social media may be critical to your plan next year. Looking at trends will also open up your mind to new options and out of the box thinking rather than simply adjusting the status quo.
  3. Include Measurement: Often thought of after the fact, the details of how you will measure your plan may not only help you sell it through to senior management and provide data to validate mid-year adjustments, but when successful you’ll have a greater sense of accomplishment that can truly energize the organization.

What key indicators are you planning for 2013? How will you create and execute a strategy that will drive success in the coming year? Share your thoughts and ideas below.


Craig Earns A Promotion

Congratulations to Craig Schreiber who has been promoted to Senior Account Supervisor.

Since joining the agency three years ago, Craig has played a key role in many of the agency’s key accounts — Southwest Windpower, William Marsh & Company and Georgia-Pacific Professional accounts. He has led the effort many integrated campaigns that include direct response, digital marketing,traditional advertising, social media, event marketing and public relations. These campaigns have been honored by the industry and praised by clients.

Prior to joining the agency, Craig worked as an account supervisor for Draft in New
York, N.Y. and as a senior communications specialist for Progress Energy here in
Raleigh, N.C.

Learn more about Craig’s promotion from this press release.

Transparency in Marketing Communications – The pursuit of a relationship.

With the advent of Social Media, the need for transparency in marketing communications is a subject that’s often broached when working with clients. Recognizing that transparency falls on a spectrum and should range from “tell only the good stuff but never lie” to “put it all on the table” is important when crafting marketing communications.
I propose that a company’s relationship with a customer isn’t all that different from a romantic relationship between two people. More »

Weekly Wrap-Up #39

It is official: summer is starting to wind down. The signs are all here. The temps are slowly climbing back down, and you are no longer dripping with sweat from a 10-second walk to your car. You are beginning to pull out your favorite football jersey in anticipation of the big game. And when you walk into Wal-Mart you spot aisles full of Christmas items. We can’t stop fall from coming, but to help ease your grieving we can give you the top five stories from this week you need to be reading.

1. What’s My Age Again?

There is a certain stigma with being young in the public relations world. A prime example appears in this widely distributed INC. article. The author bashes companies who trust social media to their interns and entry-level employees. And in a great twist of stories, a blogger wrote a post (which was reported by PR Daily) explaining all the reasons why companies SHOULD let newer and younger employees take larger roles in social media. Both sides make valid points, but we all applaud Lauren Rothering for taking a stand for the 23-year-olds in this field. It’s an important lesson to learn that you have to value all of your employees. Even if you think they are not as knowledgable, everyone has a perspective and value to add to your company or agency.

2. They’re baaaaaacccckkkk.

Say hello to QR codes. They seem to creep in every corner. They pop up on packaging, and you can rarely get a mailer without one jumping in your face. We could debate all day about the uses/strengths/weakness/etc., but this PR Daily article is reporting a whole new place they are most frequently being used – inside consumer homes. 60 percent of users who are scanning do it from home, reports Scanlife. This may not be groundbreaking or exciting, but it says something about how to reach consumers with these tools. With this information opens new doors and its time to start thinking how your QR code can get into the homes of your consumers.

3. Ben & Jerry’s Helps You Fix Your Sweet Tooth and Find Your Perfect Spooning Partner

We are the first ones to admit we love a great pun – which is probably why we have to love this new app by Ben & Jerry’s. It is common knowledge that most people don’t really know at least 50% of their Facebook fans. Never fear, Ben & Jerry’s enters in with the Wanna Spoon? App. The app looks for common connections between yourself and your friends on Facebook. When you match with someone, you can let them know with a message that includes “Ben & Jerry’s decided we’d make great spooning partners.” Ah, it’s pun heaven! You then are able to get a coupon for their new Greek Frozen Yogurt. Delicious and fun – best way to serve apps. (We weren’t kidding about the puns.)

4. Google Uses Newspaper Advertisement to Sell Google Advertisements… Cue Head Scratching.

In what they hoped to be a clever way to point out that newspaper advertising is dead, Google bought ad space in the Canadian Globe and Mail. The copy was simple, highlighting that people looking for services are searching online, not the newspaper. It is debated in the comments and reopens the question of how relevant newspapers still are. It is an interesting twist on advertising, and we almost admit it is clever. Not many people would think to advertise in the competition’s playing field. We should all take a lesson from Google and try to stretch beyond the norm. After all, if digital advertising is putting placements in print advertising space, can anyone really say there are limitations anymore? Read all about it on Mashable.

5. An Ode to Pepsi Advertising.

To warn you all: we could easily write 1,000 blog posts explaining all the reasons why we love Pepsi’s advertising strategy. It’s the way they beautifully target the young “Pepsi Generation.” Then, add in Pepsi’s ability to get influential stars to sell soda in such elaborate costumes (Everyone must give props to Nicki Minaj for making pink hair look normal). Then, the way they keep every advertisement similarly messaged while making them all feel different. It is literally advertising genius. To really get hype going about their “Live for Now” campaign, during the Nicki Minaj concert Pepsi live-streamed fans tweets in Times Square, as detailed in this Mashable article. While this isn’t the newest strategy, it’s important to highlight what an impressive and cohesive campaign Pepsi ran. They truly have targeted their fans and included their interests into every piece. The commercials always make you stop and watch. The radio advertisements are clever and witty, and the website with pop culture references and stories screams “Pepsi.” They really have committed to the “Pepsi Generation” strategy.

Congratulations to Josh

A part of our award-winning Creative team, Josh Feuerhelm has been promoted to Copywriter.

Josh works alongside the agency’s other creative minds to develop ideas and write for all mediums. He is instrumental in concepting and implementing strategic campaigns for many of the agency’s clients including Georgia-Pacific Professional, CORDURA® and Solair® Shade Solutions.

Prior to joining Howard, Merrell & Partners, Josh worked at DraftFCB offices in Chicago and Hamburg where he honed his skills for copywriting in various advertising mediums. He earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at the University of Minnesota and completed the copywriting program at the Miami Ad School.

Check out the announcement on Josh.

Weekly Wrap Up #35

Another blissful week in NC. Although some may debate that (with the solstice having just happened) summer is officially here, and it is now devilishly humid. That hasn’t stopped us at all. Here is another Wrap Up for you to sink your teeth into and see what’s been going on this week.

1. Mobile Traffic Is Still Only 10% of Total Global Internet Activity

There’s no doubt that mobile browsing is rising, and quickly. Since 2009, though, there has been a solid 9% rise according to a report by Mary Meeker. Forbes continues to elaborate on the rise in mobile advertising, revenue, as well as adoption. What may be surprising though, is that even though a good amount of traffic is from mobile it still only represents an extremely small portion of its full potential.

2. Mid-sized Businesses Suffer a Social Media Gap

Running a business, holding down your social media fort, and ensuring you have a well-oiled machine can be a pretty daunting task. Moving at a mile a minute, 15% of mid-sized businesses are adopting and working strongly with social media. To make the problem worse, as these mid-sized businesses begin to grown and expand focus on social media is lost and becomes even less.

How would you help your mid-sized business bridge that social media gap?

3. Internet Raises $400k for Karen Klein

Who is Karen Klein?

Karen Klein is a school bus monitor in Greece, NY. Earlier this week a video was posted of her being verbally harassed by a group of bullies on the bus. Karen is not a student, she is not a parent of these kids, she is an older lady with a very warm heart.  After Reddit got a hold of this video, an Indiegogo fundraiser was set up to take her on the best vacation ever. As of writing this post, the fundraiser is at $503k.

My faith in humanity is restored.

You can watch the original video here.

Since the media uproar the students have apologized. And lovely Karen has openly and graciously accepted their apologies.

4.Culture Shock: Culture’s Impact on Social Marketing and Business

Culture is crucial. From internal business culture, to global culture. Everyone is different and behaviors change. Ekaterina Walter tackles the daunting topic at Brian Solis’ blog. Culture impacts business, internally and externally. And as the we bridge communication gaps with social media, culture has more impact than ever.

5. Top 20 TV Shows With the Most Social Media Buzz

Read the full article on Mashable.