On Sat., Dec. 15, Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh, N.C. hosted their first annual Gingerbread Jamboree. At the center of the sold out holiday event was Howard, Merrell & Partners’ client, The Candy Cottage. We proposed the idea to Marbles Kids Museum and helped coordinate the event to ensure The Candy Cottage received maximum exposure. The Jamboree was promoted through public relations, social media and other marketing efforts. As the event’s official sponsor, The Candy Cottage was promoted before, during and after the event.
Attended by more than 60 families, the event scored great visibility among consumers and helped to create sweet memories at the same time. Families who attended the event were given a Candy Cottage to decorate and take home. With a plethora of decorating goodies from candy canes to frosted cereals and even pretzels, the kids and parents had a blast creating their own keepsake Candy Cottage.
Following the Jamboree, attendees gave very positive feedback:
“I just wanted to tell you how wonderful the event was today! The cottages were so easy to decorate, the selection of decorations was incredible and creative and the staff was so helpful and friendly. My kids and I had an absolutely wonderful time and I am sure we will use the house again and again. I hope you have the event again next year…”
“I am writing to say that the day was a wonderful success for my family and we were very impressed with how well it was organized. We could hardly believe the room was full of excited families. It was fun and we hope to enjoy this event for many years to come. Thank you for your efforts.”
As Stanford Smith points out in his blog post What the $200 Million Tweet Can Teach You About Personal Influence, if we have a social media presence, we have influence. But, we must understand our influence – no matter how large or small – and harness it by being relevant.
This means all of your company’s on-and-offline efforts must be strategic and consistent – reaching your potential customers with smart, diverse and interesting messages. This is a basic branding concept, and it strongly applies to social engagement, because every person connected to your organization is part of your brand – whether you like it or not.
If you’re working to grow your company’s influence online, here are some important steps to building a loyal and engaging audience:
- Seek & Find – Do your due diligence and know where your audience engages online. To manage a profile on any platform takes time and resources. Don’t waste them by going down an empty rabbit hole. If you sell a technology product and your customers are men ages 28 – 50 in IT, then Pinterest
probably isn’t the place for you. And, be sure to look outside the top five social networks – many organizations are creating their own communities. While they may be small, if that’s where your audience is you should be there too.
- Content Is King – Think quality, not quantity. Delivering educational and engaging content is key. And, it should all connect via a hub – much like a web. Maybe this is your website, a blog, or online community. Write blog posts. Tweet about them. Post them to Facebook and reference them on forums and in blog comments. Be transparent. And don’t just promote your own musings. Rather, offer a mix of your own content and content created by other experts. Make it fun and keep it quick.
- Listen – Your customers have something to say. It’s likely relevant to your business. Listen to them. Glean relevant insights from them, then interact. Remember, social media is a two-way communication vehicle its important to engage with your users with a human touch.
- Bring Old School to The New School – Don’t forget traditional advertising and communications tactics. They can deliver your message to a broader audience and help build your company’s relevance.
How is your company building influence online? Is this part of your 2013 planning? Share your thoughts with us below.
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!
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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 »
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.
As the week comes to an end and the sweet smell of weekend bliss fills the office, take a moment to reminisce on this week’s hottest stories!
Incredibly Detailed Ink Illustrations
What is doodling? Maybe, it’s what happens when both your mind and pen begin to wander during a less-than exciting meeting. Perhaps, doodling is a form of relaxation when the work day is beginning to wind down and you’re brain switches into hibernation mode. Latvia-based artist Alex Konahin is putting doodlers to shame with his series of three-dimensional drawings, created through the simple tools of a black pen and hard work. Take a look!
Advertising in the A.M.
Have you ever stopped and thought about the amount of advertising you are exposed to on a daily basis? Probably not. Thankfully, Talent Zoo is breaking down our daily routines and opening our eyes to the constant flow of advertising being pumped into our minds. They’re examining everything from your morning cup of Joe to the songs jamming on the radio during your morning commute to work!
Skype Lands on the PlayStation Vita With Video Calls
Don’t you hate it when you’re in the middle of saving planet Earth from an alien invasion and you’re interrupted by a pesky phone call? Yeah, it’s a bummer. Well, thanks to the geniuses at Skype and PlayStation, you won’t have to choose between answering a call and saving the planet from complete annihilation. Skype and PlayStation have teamed up, allowing you to pause your planet-saving mission and answer the interrupting phone call. Mission complete.
Scientists Unveil Mind-Controlled Robot
Scientists in Switzerland have unveiled the latest in robotic technology, a robot that is manipulated through one’s thoughts. Through thinking the commands, the robot can be controlled through simple instructions such as which direction to turn. With the hopes of one day serving people with severe immobilizing disabilities, the scientists believe that the robot avatars will eventually help the disabled to interact with their surrounding environments.
Google Street View Investigation by U.S. Declared Closed
With a $25,000 fine and a teeny-tiny slap on the wrist, the federal investigation into illegal and unwanted Google Street View data collection is officially closed. Google came under fire in May 2011 for their unwanted data collection of emails and text messages, passwords, and Internet-usage history through their specially-equipped Google cruisers aimed at collecting information for Google Street View. A $25,000 fine later and a pinky-promise to be good, Google is set free to roam the streets and we’re left wondering if Google is watching.
We’ve had another exciting week here at HM&P. Like many of you, we spend some time looking at what’s going on these days. Here are 5 articles this week that caught our attention.
1. Instagram Purchased by Facebook for $1B
Yes, you read that correctly. ONE. BILLION. DOLLARS. Just last week we touted Instagram’s 1-million download mark, and one week later, the handful of employees from Instagram are sitting happily on a pile of cash! Instagram, which started in 2010 has grown incredibly and is easily one of the most used photo sharing applications for the iPhone, and now Android.
2. How do we do mobile?
AdWeek shows an infographic on how we use our mobile devices, including tablets. I’ll let the infographic speak for itself:
3. What makes a video go viral?
Mashable sat down with the partners of Seedwell who specialize in the production of viral videos and hit some key notes for a viral production. So what does make a video hit the top ranks on the web? The partners highlight three key points:
- “cute as hell”
- Did that just happen?!
And of course… kitties!
4. Drinking Boosts Creativity
No, I don’t mean you can get sloshed before you create a pitch or concept a full-on marketing plan. A couple drinks, however, can help your problem solving skills. Why? Alcohol removes the natural inhibitions that we have reserved and don’t express because of years of “education.” See: How Schools Kill Creativity So enjoy a beer or two, and watch the creative juices flow!
5. Dads are on the rise in Social
With more and more men becoming stay at home fathers, the rise of dads flocking to social media sites and blogs is on its way! Brands are seeing more dads using Pinterest, creating blogs for their day-to-day life at home, and becoming a more vocal part of the social sphere. So how will you leverage these guys?
You may have already seen the new J.C. Penney logo or heard about the new Fair & Square pricing, but did you know they launched the campaign this month to celebrate their 110th anniversary? Their ‘In Praise of Fresh Air’ launch event looks like it did just that– literally breathe fresh air into an old company.
What better way to add life to the brand and set the tone than to use Ellen Degeneres, a former J.C. Penney associate, as their spokesperson. I don’t think Ellen would come to mind as a persona to associate with JC Penney but isn’t that the goal – to launch jcp and to have Ellen make the new jcp come across as hip, fun and a little different. It will be interesting to see how this reinvention pans out. What do you think of the new jcp?
This past month HM&P had the opportunity to bring back two former employees, Jeff Cohen (@jeffreylcohen) and Kipp Bodnar (@kippbodnar) to HM&P headquarters to share insights from their new book The Social Media B2B. Kicking off their book tour, they stopped off here at their old stomping grounds to give our team a presentation on the state of B2B Social Media. In the next few weeks, we will be sharing key takeaways from our session. We hope you enjoy these insights and gain a new perspective on social media and it’s role within the B2B space.
Of the many myths that surround social media, Jeff and Kip aptly debunked the following: