Over the last couple weeks, a viral phenomenon emerged on social media – the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
Easily one of the most successful campaigns in the (brief) history of social cause rally, people from across the world, from politicians to high schoolers and everyone in between, have shot videos of themselves dousing their bodies with ice water in the name of a challenge or donation or both. The momentum generated has been monumental to say the least. According to a Technologyreview.com article, $53.3 million USD has been donated to the ALS Association since July 29th (amount accurate as of August 25).
While the number is staggering and is easily applaudable, there comes an interesting dynamic that assuredly ALS foundations are already exploring – Summer 2015.
One of the questions that always comes when one unleashes a new brand is the question of soft launch or hard launch.
Hard launches come with a sudden, impactful change, often with a company announcement and immediate, synchronized change of all appearances, while Soft launches, however, will happen over time with more subtlety.
Over the last half year or so, I’ve been tracking one of these soft launches and I thought I’d share with you how this particular brand change has occurred, especially since it’s for an organization you wouldn’t expect to be making a slow transition – WWE.
Those who are avid viewers of Shark Tank, Dragon’s Den or similar pitch shows know how important proper presentation is when you’re in front of a potential financial backer. Those who don’t watch these shows, this is a very important blog for you to read.
In case you didn’t hear last week, LeBron James has come back to Cleveland.
Arguably the most talented player in all the NBA has re-signed with his one-time home club, touching off a storm of positive and negative responses from basketball pundits and fans alike.
The good news is that the Cavaliers, from now until October, have a measure of hype unseen since King James’ first entered the NBA. The bad news is their marketing department has a monumental task ahead of them – re-introducing LeBron to a market that had fire in their eyes every time he stepped on the court for the Miami Heat.
You’ll have to pardon the patriotic nature of this post – it comes with the territory of posting the day before Canada Day.
At times brands that have a presence both in Canada and the U.S. and one of the trepidations that occurs is branding oneself as being ‘too Canadian’. For whatever reason, we can sew a Canadian flag on our backpacks, we can put “Made in Canada” on labels but when it comes to online marketing, even something as basic as a domain extension, there is a jolt of ‘are we sure we want to do this?’
The funny thing is, more than ever, we’re no longer living in the ‘dot com’ world – rather we’re in the ‘dot somethingorother’ realm. Continually, hosts are coming up with new extensions that we all want to buy into, and to an extent we do, if for no other reason than to protect our business names from being bought up by unsavoury companies who’d charge larger amounts that standard retailers.
It almost seems counter intuitive to patriotize yourself in the global community. How many American companies do you see, for example, that have “.us” as part of their website address?
Here’s the reality folks – the same way we wear the red and white proudly in our business’s daily life is the same thing we should do online. Is there nothing that says “I am Canadian” more than dot ca in the virtual world?
When you choose to brand your online presence with the Canadian extention, you say to the world, “yes, I’m Canadian”, and in doing so you are showing the quality of your work. Canada has a long and proud international history, one that we need to continually build on and raise our glasses to.
So when it comes to purchasing your next web domain, make sure it’s .ca – you will reap the rewards of your pride.
When I meet with one of my clients, I use an analogy of a website being like a child – that it is a living, breathing organism. The more you feed it, the stronger it grows.
The food for your website, in this case, is fresh content, and there is no better form of nutrition than blogs (and yes, I will further this analogy in later blogs) which tend to be the true active parts of your website. Unless you’re regularly updating flyers or service offerings, your blog will be the spot you will be doing most of your activity.
The question that arises, then, is how do you blog.
It’s a question that most who don’t have confidence in their writing ask often, and at times will back away from any thought of blogging because of it.
The truth is, blogging is a lot easier than you think – it’s a matter of avoiding over-thinking it.
The biggest problem is the fear of looking bad in your online communication. Everything from bad grammar to misspelled words become the boogeymen of your publishing, let alone the idea of truly presenting yourself as an expert.
The key is that the voice you use has to be representative of your company. If your company line is to be warm and inviting, consider a conversational style. If you’re a firm that has education as its primary strategy, then carry this method to your blog.
The bottom line with blogging, to borrow one of my favourite lines from The Simpsons, is to write the way people talk. Use a voice rather than a straight facts-and-terms approach and you will keep casual readers coming back for more.
At one point or another, we’ll all consider celebrities as a potential marketing tool; but the key is to use stature effectively.
Whether you’re a not-for-profit agency or private sector business, the key for using celebrity to market your product, service or charity is to not just assume that name alone will draw – there still has to be a decent amount of exposure around said personality.
Let’s say, arbitrarily, that you’re bringing in a Winnipeg Jet to do a signing for your mall store – buy a product, get an autograph. As simple as this sounds, and it can be a money maker, you still have to promote. You might start by doing this via local media who will either charge for advertising or take advantage of a media call and ask to have said player as a guest on a radio show.
That’s great, but let’s also remember that the number of ears listening to local radio isn’t as big as it used to be, nor are the eyes in newspapers. Online now becomes a factor.
This is where social media can do well for you. If your store has a good following on Facebook or Twitter, you’ve got a good chance at getting the hits you want; but if not, then you’ll want to use other methods like using #winnipeg or going onto local collector message boards to promote.
Social media becomes that much more important when you’re part of a national chain. Chances are HQ in Toronto won’t let you promote Andrew Ladd’s appearance on their website, so this is where your own Facebook page becomes more important.
Finally, I’ll give credit where it’s due and tip my cap to Brian Propp, former Philadelphia Flyer. He tends to carry photos around with him while doing business in Philly, but they’re not just 8×10 shots from his playing days – they’re emblazoned with his company logo. This tactic has worked for him in building brand recognition in space that someone is going to display or at least pull out from time to time. So when you are promoting your celebrity event, ensure there is name recognition tying back to you on whichever promotional item may be signed.
One of the constant questions that comes in marketing is how you sustain creativity. Getting your brain going can be hard.
One of the tactics I use is brain exercises. An active mind doesn’t necessarily come from caffeine ingestion (and certainly not from donuts… as tempting as they are) – it instead is a challenge that gets your mind going.
A couple of the longer-running mental exercises are fairly well known.
Take for example Sporcle. Promoted as “Mentally Stimulating Diversions”, Sporcle is a quiz-based game site that tests your knowledge of everything from geography to entertainment in time-limited games. Ranging from 1-minute blitzes to 20-minute behemoths, the quizzes have been decent mind stimulators, especially perfect as a coffee-break diversion without letting your mind turn to mush amidst powdered-sugar paradise.
On another side is the longer-range mental exercise program, Lumosity. Heavily advertised in media, Lumosity aims to sharpen your brain over a longer period of daily activities. Lumosity’s challenges run on both desktop and smartphone platforms and after running their gauntlet for a month or so, I can attest to the success the program offers.
Now having attested to these, the single best method for stimulating the brain for online activity comes not from these individualized runs, but instead from a community approach. This is why I recommend engaging in #hashtagwars on Twitter, courtesy of Comedy Central’s @Midnight (available on The Comedy Network here in Canada).
If you have yet to see the show, think of it as a social media-centric game show featuring the razor sharp wit of some of the most popular comics in the biz. Among the mini games is the aforementioned #hashtagwars, which puts participants to the task of coming up with quick quips on an artificially created Twitter trending topic.
For example, Bad Coffee Flavours (or that should be #badcoffeeflavours)
The magic formula @Midnight uses though is that it asks it audience to keep the game going on Twitter, which is where you come in. Work out your mind by matching your wits (in both senses of the word) against would-be and actual comedians, and you’ll find your mind getting active while getting a good laugh to get your day going, especially as you prepare yourself for the challenge of online marketing.
Oh, and one more note before I close out today’s blog – the tie between creative marketing and game shows is a rich history. For more, I highly recommend listening to Under the Influence‘s archived analysis.
It’s hard to believe at first, but one of the oldest social media turns 11 today.
Believe it or not, LinkedIn, the popular professional networking platform, is now 11 years old. Though the platform really only burst out over the last 5 or so years, LinkedIn has actually been around longer than Facebook or Twitter, still the two biggest social giants.
The funny thing is that engagement hasn’t hit its crest point yet, not by a longshot.
No matter which circle I’m speaking in, whether it’s a Lunch ‘n Link presentation or socially among friends, the common phrasology that comes up at one point or another is, “oh yeah, I keep getting invitations to connect, I should respond to them eh?”
Yes, yes you should.
For those in the know on LinkedIn, they have reaped the benefits of its networking power. Whether it’s new signing new customers or finding new jobs, LinkedIn has helped push businesspeople forward in their careers.
And I do want to emphasize business people. Yes, company pages and showcases are of high importance and you should have your company’s profile available on LI, but at the core, it’s all about connecting people to other people.
So if your LinkedIn profile isn’t up to snuff or you’re only using the platform to build a Rolodex for the sake of a higher connection number, you’re missing out.
I’m going to get the Wabac Machine going this morning for my blog. Sherman, we’re going back to last week, where I talked about COMC and their ‘something to do’ marketing tactic.
After I posted and spread the word of my blog via social media (big point here – if you’re blogging on a particular topic, when spreading it through Twitter or even Facebook, be sure to use mentions and hashtags), I received a response from COMC as follows:
@jonwaldman thanks for the mention! And, the Add button was a customer's suggestion. A lot of our innovations come from our users.
What does this speak to? The importance of listening to your audience. Often they’ll provide you with ideas that will give your marketing engine the spur it needs to move forward.
What happens otherwise?
Consider the case of a gentleman I met in Montreal a few years ago. He was in his mid-20s and had been a $1,000 donor to a local charity, but suddenly stopped. As I was working in the not-for-profit world at the time, I was curious to learn why an individual who was donating such a large sum, showing some dedication for the cause, halted so quickly. Simply put, no one would listen to him. Donations weren’t followed upon with a call or email to further engage.
Compare this experience to COMC, where the company kept their ears open to their customership. The user who made the “watchlist” suggestion knows his or her voice was heard, while the company has been quick to acknowledge the social media feedback they receive.
So when you look at the two cases, the choice really becomes clear – engage your consumers. Market with eyes and ears open to your audience.