Internet Marketing

How Not to Handle Negative Reviews

A Lesson in Review Management

Businesses of all types rely on reviews to build credibility with potential customers as well as to increase online visibility. Positive reviews on sites such as Yelp and Yellow Pages can greatly impact sales. Negative ones however, can have the opposite effect. So whenever a negative review appears, business operators naturally want to minimize the damage to protect their income stream and their consumer reputation. However, it is possible to go too far in managing a negative review. A recent incident involving a New York City area watch repair shop illustrates what can happen if a business owner gets too aggressive in protecting his reputation.

When a dissatisfied customer posted a two-star rating for the watch repair shop on Yelp, the business owner was so upset that he engaged his attorney to threaten a defamation lawsuit unless the customer pulled down his comments. Naturally, the customer, who wasn’t feeling much in the way of brand loyalty to the repair shop anyway, reacted even more negatively – and more publicly.

Unfortunately for the watch repair shop, threatening legal action only made matters worse – much worse. Believing his first amendment rights protected his speech, the customer refused to pull down the Yelp review. Further, after being threatened with a lawsuit for expressing his opinion, the customer took the entire situation public via social media, using the name of the watch shop and its owner.  By threatening a lawsuit, the watch shop owner effectively converted a single negative review into an avalanche of negative publicity.  The negative publicity from the lawsuit threat far exceeded the damage done by one negative Yelp review. Local television even got into the act, airing a news story about the incident.

The business owner appears to have little legal justification for legal action. If the experience was presented in an honest fashion, the review opinion and speech appears fully protected. Attempting to suppress opinion is almost always poorly received. The alleged victims in these cases tend to receive additional exposure for their points of view and the business owners are often perceived as “bullys” or worse.

Manage the Communication and Manage the Visibility
So how then should one handle a negative review? Three simple points can keep the business owner out of hot water when a negative review appears.

    • Responding in the communication channel that the reviewer used enables your participation in the discussion. Yelp or other networks usually allow for a business response to negative reviews. So, try to keep the conversation in the channel in which it first appeared. Allowing it to expand into other social channels means that you might not be able to participate in the discussion to hold up your point of view.
    • Trusting customers to be analytical and fair in their evaluation of reviews can be difficult – even when one doesn’t agree with the conclusion. Most customers understand that you can’t make everyone happy all the time. But.. if the business owner appears to make every effort to set things right, that will go a long way in diffusing anger and containing any reputation damage.
    • Acknowledging that the customer may have had a poor experience can also go a long way to repair damage. Customers at least like to know they’ve been heard.

Using social and review channels to show that you are doing everything reasonably possible to make the situation right with each customer can turn a negative review situation into something perhaps not-so-negative. Each consumer is a brand ambassador whose opinions are important to future customers. Social media and review channels enable each customer/brand ambassador to impact the visibility of almost any organization.

Matthew Stone operates Denver SEO Consultants – an online internet marketing firm and also works in Public Relations Denver at GroundFloor Media.

Bringing Home the Bacon

Oscar Mayer company announced recently that they have developed an alarm clock that will awaken you with the sound and smell of frying bacon! Waking up to the sound and scent of a fresh, hot breakfast – including cooked bacon – is a powerful and positive memory for most American consumers. Oscar Mayer is hoping that consumers will also remember this experience and pick up an extra pound or two of bacon the next time they visit their grocery store.

For online marketers, the interesting point about this scheme is the inclusion of smell into the sensory message mix. Of course one cannot transmit scent electronically – at least as of this writing – but by inspiring consumers to recall waking up to a hot-cooked breakfast, the company hopes that increased sales will result.

Oscar Mayer in fact wins extra points for creativity with this campaign.  Not only do they get publicity for their bacon promotion, their creative messaging is a good humored look at the product. Additionally, in order to make the scent-release portion of the application work, the user is required to have a device provided by the fictitious Oscar Mayer Institute for the Advancement of Bacon. This unit is designed to release the smell when commanded by the iPhone app. Acquiring one of these units requires a consumer to enter a contest – a process that provides Oscar Mayer with a long email list of active bacon consumers.

How many ways are there to sell bacon? As eating bacon has been a human practice for thousands of years, coming up with a new way to grow the bacon consuming market is a huge challenge. Still, with a little creativity and humor, this campaign nails it.

Matthew Stone operates Denver SEO Consultants and works extensively in Public Relations in the Denver Area with GroundFloor Media.

 

 

How to Break Up with the Search Engines

Breaking up with search engines may sound strange coming from an internet and SEO consultant. Business marketers have become so dependent on the search engines to deliver visitors and sales, that it seems silly to even think about reducing dependency on streams of website visitors that search engines provide.  Competition for search engine placement drives increased investment and is attracting an ever greater share of dwindling marketing budgets. And should the visitor stream provided by Google, Yahoo! and Bing suddenly evaporate, what state would your organization be in?

Over-dependency on search engine visitors is a problem in many companies. Investing in link building schemes and hastily assembled content marketing efforts developed for the purpose of maintaining search engine rank can wind up working against the organization. As the search engines become more able to  distinguish quality content and recognize valuable links, companies in the throes of intense competition may be sowing the seeds of their own declining rankings by over-investing in these efforts at the expense of other tasks.

Google brand image

As marketers assemble plans for the upcoming year, a more balanced approach to internet marketing and a focus on building a more engaging user experience for website visitors can not only reduce unhealthy dependence on search traffic but can wind up improving search engine placement.

The Benefit of Raw Traffic

People need to visit the company website in order for the search engines to be able to judge whether or not the content is valuable. No visitors means no search strength. So the real question for may companies is not how to cause the search engines to deliver more visitors, it is simply how to attract more visitors regardless of source. This opens up a variety of additional options for building search strength and attracting readers.

Improving the Visitor Experience

Prior to jumping headlong into a social outreach, PPC or other marketing effort, careful consideration needs to be given to the user experience once a visitor arrives at the company website. The search engines ‘see all’ meaning that time on page, bounce rate and reader behavior once on the website are all clearly visible to the search engines. These factors are considered by the algorithms and are used in calculating the value of the page relative to what the company says the page is about. If a particular page’s metadata and on-page factors communicate that a page is about Doggy Dodgeball, the search engines will evaluate reader behavior to judge whether or not readers looking for information on Doggy Dodgeball received the information they sought.

Making a page more ‘consumable’ simply means making it more valuable. Are there unique bits of information within the text? Is the content interesting enough for readers to share with others on social media? Making every effort to create a website page with readable content that is both valuable and interesting is the core objective to creating the kind of visitor experience that will keep readers on the site, attract return visitors and ultimately, improve search engine placement.

Outreach via Controllable Channels

Many new businesses with young websites initiate a balanced approach to search engine and internet marketing because their sites have little initial strength. Direct outreach through email campaigns, social media engagement and event marketing can attract visitors to the company web page and over time search placement is improved and web strength built. Unfortunately, once good SERP placement is achieved,many companies withdraw from some of these more time consuming efforts and seek to maintain their stream of visitors mainly from search engine referrals. This creates that unhealthy dependency that over time, lures organizations away from a balanced marketing approach.

Companies that currently enjoy good search engine placement and high volumes of website visitors should not take these streams of traffic for granted. By balancing their marketing efforts with more controllable and creative outreach efforts, the company can attract visitors from multiple sources. And should Google or any of the search providers suddenly decide that they don’t like some of the strategies used in the past to pump up SERP placement, the organization will still have the ability to attract the visitors it needs to survive. In the end, search engine dependency is a high-risk business strategy. It can all change very quickly and for no apparent reason.

Breaking up with the search engines by undertaking controllable outreach marketing- and reducing dependency on search  – makes it a more healthy relationship between business and search provider and ensures that any sudden changes in search engine placements won’t be disastrous.

Its Official – Time Travel Not Yet Possible

Notes and Musings on Consumer Research

Creativity is usually a good thing. Creativity also helps identify intelligent people with far too little meaningful work to occupy their days.  Sometimes though, even silly explorations and theories highlight some hidden value – even to those of us in the marketing and internet world.

Time Travelers
Bill and Ted Explore the Past and Future

 

Searching for Time Travelers
Earlier this fall, a study was released by Robert J. Nemiroff and Teresa Wilson of Michigan Tech University, that concluded that there were no time travelers among us. The root of the conclusion is that there were no or very few instances of internet activity that mentioned Comet ISON prior to its discovery on September 21, 2012, and few instances of internet activity that noted “Pope Francis,” prior to March 16, 2013 – the day Jorge Mario Bergolio ascended to the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church and took the name Francis.

Digging through mountains of Google data, Twitter history, hashtag research and social media research, revealed that there were no mentions of these two events prior to their occurrence.  This indicates the likely possibility that time travel is either not yet possible or that time travelers were savvy enough not to reveal themselves through social media or internet activity lest they be labeled prophets or heretics.

Activity Analysis
The value in this exercise is not discovery of whether it is possible to actually travel through time to set things right with an ex-girlfriend or determine whether to bet on the Seahawks in this year’s Super Bowl. Rather, huge data stores do exist that with a little reality-based creativity, can be harnessed to understand emerging consumer trends.

Understanding Consumer Language
Research tools exist to dig up more information that would be reasonably possible to sift through. Chances are you use many of these now. The key to understanding future trends is to identify the ways in which current consumers refer to needs or events. This is where trend-setters or “influencers” can help.

Activists in certain topics or discussions are usually fine-tuned to understanding consumer language and terms in their particular niche.  Ascertaining the future of southwestern cooking requires following the best chefs and food blogs in that field. If food and drink are not your specialization or you don’t have time to dive head first into this niche, it might be necessary to find someone to help that is more familiar with it. Getting deeper into the topic may reveal whether southwestern US cuisine is a growing or declining trend. Understanding the growth rate might influence an investment decision. One just might need a bit of expert help to understand it.

Asking the Right Questions
Pondering the future of a given product line requires expertise in the niche to understand current activity and ascertain what the future might hold. Trends can emerge overnight, but needs are usually present well prior to a topic getting a great deal of online attention.

Searching for time travelers on line might not be the smartest use of one’s time. However, using the available search tools to hunt for this information highlights creative ways to dig up information. Looking for the right hashtag to show activity on a particular topic will take some trial and its partner – error.

Few organizations make use of existing internet search tools and social applications to research trends prior to making important decisions. Still, with a little creativity and effort, the tools and data exists to draw meaningful conclusions and get that glimpse into the future that provides an organization with good information upon which to base important decisions.

 

Matthew Stone is active in the Internet Marketing field and works in Public Relations Denver.

Pizza Hut and Long Term Branding – Accidental Brand Building Assets

Many organizations look at branding as a short term endeavor – build the brand, make the sales and end the story.

According to the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, 34% of new businesses survive more than  10 years. For those businesses that manage to survive, they may go through multiple branding efforts to build their story and promote their value proposition. As we begin a new year, it is interesting to look at some of the more curious branding efforts of the past and to see ‘where are they now.’

You Can Tell! Bank Was Once a Pizza Hut!

I borrowed the caption to this image from the Onion in a humor story run several years ago which made light of the widespread distribution of former Pizza Hut locations that were enjoying lives as other types of businesses. Associating Pizza Hut locations with banking or other types of business locations is unusual and provided an ironic look at how some of the buildings were being used. Now, this story is enjoying a little more serious look.

Atlantic Cities recently ran an interesting piece on the Second Lives of Pizza Huts in which it outlines the long lives of some former Pizza Hut establishments. For those of us old enough to remember getting pizza and beer in these buildings, the consistent design and widespread distribution of these former restaurants consistently identify these as Pizza Hut locations. The better-placed locations are in high traffic, high visibility areas.  Even though Pizza Hut modified its location strategy many years ago and divested itself of these buildings, the fact that the company originally used its building design as part of its branding strategy may have – even if accidentally – created a long term branding asset that the company no longer has to maintain.

Banks and even other fast-food operators that have taken over these buildings are somewhat helping to promote the original Pizza Hut name. Even younger consumers know from their parents that these were once places to get an all-you-can-eat family food fill-up.

Branding Strategies:
What does this mean for current branding strategies? As we kick off a new year, it is interesting to consider areas that we may not have previously understood as part of the branding message.. Below are just a couple areas in which the brand can be managed and created to build a long term consumer image.

Unique Building Style and Design
As the Pizza Hut example shows, even when the organization abandons part of its location strategy, a design that lives beyond the life of the branding effort can have long term value.

Messaging Through Music
As we just wrapped up another holiday shopping season, a few major brands were noticed for their absence on the airwaves. The music and silly jingles that went with the Overstock.com (Ho, Ho, Ho, the Great Big ‘O.’) advertisements in years past created a brand image that lived well past the time the advertisements ceased. In fact, just a few advertisements run this holiday season seemed to re-ignite the brand and value from holiday season’s previous to this.

Humor and Warmth
The art of making people laugh and associating that good feeling with a particular brand has long been a powerful brand building objective. Some of these efforts have a very long life-span. The annual Coke polar bear advertisements are cute and have even created a merchandising opportunity for the soft drink company. Humor, ‘cuteness’ and warm, cuddly feelings are trust and brand building objectives that are also associated with the holiday season itself.  This association is enough to drive additional holiday sales.

With so much attention to short term sales and revenue objectives, a little attention to creating a long term brand building can have impact well beyond the term of its original deployment.

Matthew Stone is a Denver SEO Consultant and works in Denver Public Relations.

 

 

 

 

Boxing Day – Top 10 Things to Give Up for 2014

For the past century, “Boxing Day” or the day following Christmas, has been recognized as a holiday throughout much of the English speaking world outside of the USA. It has taken on a variety of meanings and traditions throughout the passage of these many years. Several hundred years ago, the English aristocracy would use boxes to distribute gifts to servants on the day following Christmas. The Anglican Church also had a tradition of keeping a box for the collection of goods to distribute to the poor – which took place the day following Christmas. Recently, though, some have taken to the tradition of ‘boxing’ up less used items for distribution to those less fortunate. It is perhaps a more noble sounding way of cleaning out one’s closet.

Cleaning out the closet to make room for newly acquired stuff makes good sense for those of us that are square-footage challenged. In the end though, it only makes sense to move on things that we no longer find use for. So in taking stock of 2013 and setting objectives for 2014, it may be worth ‘cleaning the closet’ of old and unproductive practices. To this end, we offer these top 10  things to clean out of the marketing management closet this Boxing Day.

No Freak-Outs when Rankings Drop a Point or Two.  The Google in particular resets its algorithms and reorganizes its incredibly huge data sets so frequently, that it makes no sense to rework the entire marketing and online ranking strategy based on a couple days trends.

Don’t Mistake Quality Content for Content Volume. In the end, producing quality content is the only real ranking strategy that pays off in the long term. Posting content to satisfy some idea of content volume is actually counter-productive.

Don’t be too Rigid in Posting Content. Sometimes, creating great content that will attract readers and keep them returning is a really difficult process. When the ideas don’t come, don’t reduce quality to achieve content volume

Get Help Producing Content. In fact, a fresh eye to creating content can really help. Many content creators look at their value proposition from the perspective of the provider. It is really useful to have someone compose the value proposition in the content from the standpoint of the consumer. Authors can get too close to their own content, so it

The Same Content Creators Frequently Re-Produce the Same Content. Get help from non-normal contributors! Colleagues and others in the organization may have some great perspectives. With a little coaching, they might be able to improve the overall quality and volume of content distributed. The most underutilized person in many companies is the one that answers the phone. He or she observes the entire organization, product-service strengths and may have a unique way of interacting that can be a hit with content consumers.

Don’t Depend Only on Facebook and Twitter!  Google+ won’t be a complete ‘ghost-town’ forever! As the Google offers rewards for using its social platform – including improved search engine placements, generating a large following now can put you way ahead of the time when others figure out that they need to be engaged on G+. Pintrest and other platforms offer tremendous opportunities as well.

No More  “Set it and Forget it!” – Pushing your latest post on social media before you leave for the office and then forgetting about it until the following morning won’t earn many new online followers. Follow up interaction throughout the day will earn new followers and build your circle of useful contacts.

Don’t Restrict Social Interaction! Leaving your online and social interaction to one or two people is wasted effort. People are going to interact anyway. Why not allow them to handle some of the company communication load? Of course this carries risk. Workers that are well-treated and enjoy their work make the best spokespersons, so management has a real responsibility to ensure that workers always speak well of their employers.

Release that Inner Comedian! Not everyone is funny, but laughter is contagious.  It also attracts readers and makes others comfortable with you.

Make 2014 the Year of Innovation. One never knows which outreach method will be the most effective for each message, customer, product or ….. there may not be a magic formula for every company, so a “wholistic” approach may be the best strategy. In the end, experiment, track results and keep trying new communication and marketing strategies.

The only consistent thing about marketing strategies is that they are always changing. It helps to be open to new ideas and to possess the courage to try new things.

All the Best in 2014!

For more information on Low Cost Branding and SEO Strategies and online marketing, contact Denver SEO Consultants today. We serve clients throughout the USA and Europe.

 

 

 

 

 

Social Media and Marketing Lessons From 10 Top Holiday Films

What a busy year it has been. Time at last for a bit of a break. Finding some relaxation in the year-end business ‘wind-down’ usually leads to some good family time, couch time and with any luck, a couple of good naps.  Year-end is also a good chance to depressurize and de-couple from the marketing world  – if only for a little while. But, even while watching the holiday shows and movies, it is all too easy to drift  back into the marketing world.

While cozying up with the fam around the fireplace and with that holiday classic “Christmas Vacation” on the wide screen, it suddenly dawned that holiday films have a great deal of advice and guidance for those of us in the social media and marketing world. Maybe it was the eggnog, but by thinking through some of the Christmas and holiday favorites, some deep philosophical musings and lessons can be pulled from the themes of the top Christmas and holiday programming.

social media lessons from Clark Griswold

Christmas Vacation “Drum Roll, Please.”
Sometimes, your best efforts produce unparalleled disaster.  If it does, own up to it and keep trying. You might burn down the house, but you’ll never hit the grand slam if you never step into the batter’s box. In the end, you’ve got to set your sights high if you are ever going to achieve great results. (Sorry for the metaphor-slew.)

Scrooged – “The b____h hit me with a toaster!”
Watch your social media content and be mindful of the reputation you are creating over the long term. The Ghost of Posts Past are never too far away and seem to come back from the dead to smack you with a kitchen appliance when you least expect it. Posts live forever.

Elf – “I know him!”
Endearing message delivery can attract attention – even if the message is unremarkable.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Always be positive. If “you’re a mean one,” there is always someone around who will remember and will be a pain forever. Be positive at all times and you’ll have a lot less work to do.

Merry Christmas Charlie Brown – “You need involvement”
We all need to be involved in our communities for support and inspiration. Without involvement, it is terribly difficult to grow and prosper. Rely on your friends and relationships in the social world. Even if you screw up entirely, continued effort and honesty will prevail.

Miracle on 54th Street – “Every time a bell rings,” a post goes viral.
Never underestimate your value. Everyone has a unique contribution but might need the courage to put thoughts and ideas out into the world. Take a shot…someone somewhere will appreciate it – even if they rarely mention it. And occasionally, you’ll hit a message that really resonates. Just keep trying.

Hallmark Channel  – No quote here!  Too much material!
These guys have been running Christmas films since Halloween. Steady effort, consistent content and outreach builds a solid reputation. Need something positive?  Just dial up the Hallmark network.

Christmas Marathons – “It wouldn’t be Christmas without  the James Bond Marathon.”
Weird associations can work. Even though 007 has little to do with the holiday season, creating a tradition associated with a certain time of year can build recognition and establish expectations for future years.

Home Alone – “Kevin!”
You’ll always forget things – even important things through the year. Stand in there when things get tough. Even if it feels that you are all alone, take on problems one at a time and eventually, support will arrive.

The Holiday – “Anything can happen.”
Before embarking on a new social media strategy that others have used successfully, make sure it works for you. Individuality is an asset. Trading places with another can mean acquiring her/his problems along with it. Still, it never hurts to explore new opportunities.

 

For some fresh ideas on managing your social media and for low cost internet marketing and SEO, contact Denver SEO Consultants. Email us at: matt@seo-consultants.denver.com

 

Ron Burgundy ‘s 10 Marketing Tips for 2014

Ron Burgundy’s Dodge Durango SUV promotion, as well as character appearances on ESPN and a North Dakota news station have proven wildly successful. Combining marketing messages for sponsored product lines as well as the upcoming film release of Anchorman 2 has been a unique and well-received effort. As reported in Advertising Age  “Dodge brand boss Tim Kuniskis said: ‘We’ve seen almost an 80 percent increase in Web traffic alone since the (Ron Burgundy Dodge) campaign launched.'”

Anchorman Ron Burgundy – even though fictional – provides several marketing insights and lessons for 2014. For those planning promotional outreach, advertising or marketing campaigns in the coming year, these  10 marketing insights inspired by the recent success of the fictional anchorperson, might just provide that cutting edge message creation your organization needs.

Ron Burgundy Inspired Marketing Tips

Closing 2013 with such a fresh and successful communication strategy is a big win for Dodge, GM  and the other product sponsors that took a chance using the Ron Burgundy character. For others, the lessons we can carry forward into 2014 include the following 10 Marketing Strategy Tips:

10.  Release Your Inner Comedian
Okay… so not everyone is naturally funny. Still, attempts to lighten the emotional loads of others by providing some comic relief deserves respect. The ability to poke fun – particularly at one’s self – can be endearing and in subtle ways, build respect for the messenger. Reaching out via social channels using modest humor can be highly effective in building readership and inspiring return visitors.

9.  Introduce Humor – People Need It!
There is a lot of information in the news – most of it is bleak. Humor can help put some of this in perspective or at least point out some of life’s little absurdities. One has to be a bit careful using humor though, particularly around areas where people are highly sensitive; like politics, or religion, or.. pretty much everything … just do your best not to offend. And if you do, own up to it quickly and move on.

8.  Seek Laughter – It is Disarming
Seriously.. people that can make you laugh are easier to relate to. And those that are easily related to, find it easier to build relationships with others.  As relationship building is key to any marketing or communication effort, getting a laugh out of the audience can open the door to more serious interaction.

7.  Funny = Viral = Profitable
How do you reach more people with your message? Just make the message worth sharing! A meaningful message that has some entertainment value is much more likely to be re-shared over other’s networks. Developing content that fits other peoples social networks is the key to making content viral. And of course good viral content has the potential to attract large numbers of viewers and prospective customers.

6.  Event Association Works!
Associating the Anchorman 2 release with products and events (including actual newscasts) builds exposure and visibility for all participants. The news station in North Dakota that had the courage to put Ron Burgundy on in full character on a newscast succeeded in building a great deal of exposure. It also helped humanize its on-air personalities and make them easier to relate to.

5.  Promote Brand Association
Everyone can recognize a movie star – even a fictional one. Celebrity spokespersons are frequently used to promote specific brands by using their well known traits and characteristics. As Sam Elliot’s famous deep voice adds credibility to claims of truck ‘toughness,’  brand associations are particularly useful for generating visibility for lesser known product lines.  Associating humor with a brand is also highly effective. Just ask the Dodge SUV manager that agreed to do the Ron Burgundy ad.

4.  Expand the Brand
Supporting a good message using multi channel distribution is a great way to leverage exposure and increase visibility. More people may have watched Ron Burgundy deliver the news via YouTube recording than probably saw the event live. Leveraging social media to inspire conversation and build exposure about the brand expands its overall visibility and reach.

3.  Attention is the Objective
Don’t let dignity get in the way of a great message. Too often, image conscious marketers nix really great ideas because they don’t want to devalue their brand. Or, the risk of something going wrong convinces managers that the risk is not worth taking.

Even marketing and social media disasters can be made into assets though. Remember the Burger King Twitter campaign in February, 2013? The company released its Twitter campaign only to have it hijacked and replaced with promotions for rival McDonalds, accompanied by claims of drug abuse by employees. By the time BK regained control of the situation, their Twitter account had actually gained tens of thousands of followers.  Although the marketing and social media staff got a black eye on this one, Burger King may get the last laugh with its increased network reach.

2.  Exposure Doesn’t Have to be Great to Work
How is talking to a horse about SUV horsepower effective? Ron Burgundy illustrated the efficiency and high-horsepower of the Dodge SUV line by trying to discuss it with an actual horse.  The horse was simply an illustration and point of comparison. A real celebrity spokesperson probably couldn’t have made  the point having a conversation with a horse, but the Burgundy character pulled it off.  Many marketers get weighed down by quality requirements that strangles truly creative message creation.  Great messaging doesn’t have to be overly dignified or highly technical to work.

1.  Outside-the-Box Thinking Wins  in the Long Term
The ‘stick with things that work’ strategy can lead your messaging down a stale rabbit hole. Finding new message strategies that work is an ongoing, creative effort that has to be nurtured and undertaken with a fair degree of courage. Promotional events also need a fairly wide creative berth to compete for the attention of today’s overworked and over-communicated population.

Outside the box thinking for creative message development can pay great dividends. Some organizations separate the messaging from the risk analysis in order to generate the freshest possible ideas. When a new creative scheme is handed off to the risk assessment team, risk managers create contingency plans to handle any potential problems rather than try to throw a wrench back into the original idea.  Occasionally, sounder minds have to over-rule truly wild campaign or message ideas, but generating original, fresh and unique messaging is a process that should be nurtured, then vetted. Execution of these two tasks together dulls the creative processes , so they may be best performed separately.

Making the marketing message more enjoyable to consume makes the entire effort more successful. Creating great content that others want to share and talk about is a difficult undertaking, but it can be richly rewarding.  One may have to try multiple schemes and pilots to hit on something that works well, but in the end, creating a stronger company means taking reasonable risks at developing and deploying creative message strategies.

In the words of the Ron Burgundy himself…. “Don’t act like you’re not impressed.”

 

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Introducing an Old Brand to a New Generation of Buyers

Old Company Reaches Younger Generation of Enthusiasts

Lionel Trains, manufacturers of the famous model railroads that chug around Christmas trees each holiday season, rolled out a social media campaign this season designed to introduce model trains to a new generation of buyers. The general idea for the train campaign was to associate its products with a popular children’s story – Polar Express. The film version of the Polar Express was released 10 years ago this season, providing just the right opportunity to connect a favorite story with a product line.

Lionel reported that a train set giveaway contest, featuring its Polar Express themed line of model trains, and outreach through its Facebook network, email campaign and other social channels generated significant numbers of new ‘likes’ as well as drove over 25,000 new visitors to its website. In an age of high-tech gifts, a model train set may not be at the top of every child’s wish list. But by using contemporary communication, and by reaching out to fans of the Polar Express story to increase visibility, the company enjoyed a nice increase in visibility.

Small Business Implications:

Merging marketing messages with well known themes or stories can work very well in building visibility. Online social networks provide unique forums to tell readers about upcoming events, invite them to read content and provide information about contests and other areas of interest.  Lionel leveraged the followers it had on its Facebook profile to reach out to new readers, who then responded by ‘Liking’ the Lionel page.  This added to the company’s visibility and reach into younger age groups.

Building relationships and expanding the reach of the social network can help in all manner of branding and sales initiatives. Building company social networks is essentially constructing your own communication channel that can be turned to any use you develop.Investing in social media development, search engine optimization (SEO) and in developing good quality and valuable content gets your message out into the wide world.

Our consultants can help build and manage social networks as well as develop the content to promote on them so that your business organization can grow. Contact us today for more information on helping to construct and manage your social media channels or about our low cost SEO solutions!

Social Media Helps Colorado Residents and Businesses Recover From Flooding

Listening to reports of the recent floods in Northern Colorado, I heard a notice about a location well known as one of the premier Colorado summer camps. The radio broadcast noted that all roads out of the Estes Park, CO area had been closed, one closure at the Cheley Camp turnoff. Knowing a bit about where this location is, the magnitude of the flood emergency began to sink in.  These were real people and real businesses facing an immediate emergency, the long term impacts of which could last for months.

For those familiar with the Estes Park, CO area, there are only a few roads in and out. One will be covered in snow soon and impassable. The town relies on tourism for its economic survival, and now that the flood waters are receding, the magnitude of the economic disaster is also becoming evident. A town that needs people to visit and spend dollars relies on those people to be able to actually get to the area. It may be that most roads into the area will be under repair and impassable for the next several months, shutting off the needed flow of visitors.

What does this all have to do with social media? Organizations that have established social media networks are well positioned to keep in touch with their communities, followers, friends and customers. Many are already utilizing these networks to let their followers know how they are and what the status is of the businesses and communities they care about. Nothing can replace commercial activity, but a dedicated community of followers can always be motivated to help the recovery.

Investing time in developing robust social networks can pay off – sometimes in very unexpected ways. Social media “text-to-donate” sites (mostly reputable) have been established to provide financial relief to residents of the stricken areas. Some of these relief sites are inspired or sponsored by area businesses themselves utilizing their own social networks.  Other sites rely on concerned citizens to contribute their own social networks to reaching those interested in helping with the recovery. Although some may say that a cynical business interest is present when organizations create these sites, in many instances such as these, the local organizations are really just trying to lend a hand.  Below is a link to a business that put together a fund raising outreach program.

Oskar Blues Restaurants set up a fund raising account for its northern Colorado network.

Give Forward provides the platform for local businesses and other organizations to use their social connections to raise funds for worthy causes.

The Give Forward system allows people with established networks to leverage those contacts in times of need.

What makes this all work is an established and robust social network on Facebook, Google+ and other active networks. Waiting until great need arises is too late!