Wednesday, 5 February 2014

PodCamp 2014

In the past 3 years of my time at St.Lawrence College in the Advertising Marketing Communications Management program I have been given some amazing opportunities. Everything from going to New York City for Pivot Con to competing at the Ontario Colleges Marketing Competition in Windsor. Each experience has taught me the value of attending these networking events and actively perusing opportunities to expand my learning.

Recently the idea of PodCamp has traveled across our classroom. After doing a little bit of research of what PodCamp really was it was clear that this would be another opportunity to grow, learn and expand my network.

PodCamp is being held in Toronto on February 22 in the form of an un-conference. A number of different topics will be introduced and discussed by industry leaders in the social and digital realm. We are even lucky enough to have two students presenting a topic at the conference.

There are a number of reasons I am interested in attending PodCamp th
is year. First is the fact that this is my last year of formal education. Although I know I will have opportunities like this once I enter the working world. I want to ensure I take all the opportunities offered to me. Next is the forward thinking during the sessions with industry leaders. This type of thinking is stimulates great discussion and expands upon the learning we do in class. Finally I am looking forward to meeting the SLC Alumni and discuss with them about their "after college" adventure. These are people who were in my shoes less than 5 years ago and are having huge success in the industry. They know the ins and outs of making the transition from student to working professional – which I must admit I’m a bit nervous about myself. 

I’ve booked my ticket and started making arrangements for my stay. I can’t wait for this experience to begin! I am sure it will not only meet my expectations but also beat them as these opportunities usually do. Bring on the learning, networking and ultimately great time!

Want to join me at Podcamp this year? Click here to register!

Saturday, 9 November 2013

How Valuable Are Your Relationships?

A lot of time has been spent talking about what a business can get from a customer or what a customer can get from a business. But the real question is which transaction is more important? Who is ultimately getting the most value in a business to consumer relationship? Until recently I would have said that without a doubt a business receives much more from its consumers, however my opinion has been changed forever. 

Ted Rubin, a keynote speaker, suggested that the most important transaction that takes place is called the “Return on Relationship”. He defines this term as “the value accrued by a person or brand due to nurturing a relationship.” 

As a concept this seems very simple but the implementation is a very different story. It takes a lot of work to keep an open line of communication with your consumers, and timing is everything. Jay Baer states that 40% of consumers expect a response within 60 minutes of posting to a social media platform – and that is a lot of pressure for a brand. However, by giving consumers a return on their relationship consumers will move up Seth Godin’s relationship ladder from stranger to friend and from friend to loyal customer. Innately this growth has a monetary value attached to it. Relationships are the new currency!

After listening to Rubin at Pivot Con earlier this year my mind has been forever changed. I now see more value in social media that I have ever seen in social before. I have significantly changed the goals for my marketing plans in order to adopt this new way of thinking, because in my eyes, it works! Brand evangelist play a huge role in the success of a brand and quite simply these people would not exist would the Return on Relationship principle.

What brands do you know of that have provided a great relationship experience with you? It can be in-store, online or over the phone – as long as you felt the connection and it was maintained. Palm Bay does an amazing job interacting with their consumers online and responding very quickly to questions or concerns. MANY businesses could learn from this example.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Who is your Blogging Guru?

As a young duckling of the blogging world I have been sent on a mission to learn from the great “swans” of the industry. On my journey I have come across some amazing blogging artists but three authors in particular really caught my attention. Not only did these bloggers design and write their blogs well but they also taught me the art of a successful blog, which I plan on using in the future.

Mitch Joel was my first mentor. His blog had a lot of really great lessons that we all can learn from. First is that size matters! Joel’s blog used a variety of different blog lengths in order to keep his readers on their toes. He also uses great reader grabbing headlines. By using this technique readers are engaged right off the bat and are not only wanting but willing to read more. Joel’s final strong point is that he writes how he would speak. When reading his blog I felt as if he was sitting across the table telling me a story. I found this made his information more relatable and enjoyable to read.

I found my second advisor in Seth Godin. In the past I had read his book entitled “Permission

Marketing” but just recently did I discover his blog. Godin is known for posting his blog on a very reliable schedule. Users know exactly when to come back in order to receive more of his knowledge which I found to be an amazing strategy. Godin is also the master of creating momentum. His content is engaging and he gets the readers coming back time and time again.

The final blogging guru I learned from (and my personal favourite) was Bernadette Jiwa. Her blog has a very clear and defined 
focus of “the story of telling”. When you go to Jiwa’s blog you know exactly the type of post you are going to get. Her blog is very well designed. The colour palate is not only visually appealing but soothing/comforting to the reader. Strangely enough what I found most interesting about Bernadette’s blog is her ability to mix her content. She uses videos, images and social media in order to keep the content up to date and engaging. This is a strategy I think we can all learn from!

All of these people are more than bloggers - they are authors! I believe that the learning I have received from reading these blogs have helped me grow from a little duckling to a full grow duck! I look forward to my blogging future after learning these strategies!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Rethink Your Social Media Marketing

This week was full of information! Not only did I get to attend Pivot Con (a Conference held in New York City) but also I was able to sit in on the Social Media Success Seminar held online. One of my favourite Keynotes was held by Jay Baer. His topic was “Why You Need to Rethink Your Social Media Marketing”.

From the very beginning Baer points out the main reason for using social media – it is not to obtain new customers but it is primarily about building customer loyalty. And when you really think about it, that makes total sense. Who among us follows someone or something on Facebook that we haven’t already been introduced too? The things we “like” we have already built a relationship with and are seeking a way to stay better connected.

Following that discussion Baer moved onto this quote “Do less social media, but do more with the social media that you’re doing”. It seems like such a simple concept but honestly it makes sense. The point of social media is not to repeat the same message over and over again on different platforms – that is how you loose engagement. The point is to develop a strategy for each platform individually in order to keep the content fresh and consumers interested. If your customers are already “loyal” than they are gaining nothing from hearing the same message on multiple platforms. Below is a list of questions that you must ask yourself when creating different social platforms. If you cannot talk yourself out of doing a social media platform using these questions – its probably a good idea.

• Who is the audience for us on this channel?
• What can we provide them that they will find interesting and useful?
• Where will the content for this channel come from?
• Who is going to take care of this thing?
• When will this channel be updated and by whom?
• Why are we spending even one minute or even one dollar on this channel?
• How do we justify this?

Baer challenges all of us to rethink how we are using our social media platforms for business. He asks us to "give it a shot" and really challenge ourselves to create different content for each platform. By doing this we can move strangers to friends and friends to loyal customers - which as he mentioned above is the ultimate goal of social media.

Overall I loved Baer’s voice throughout his speech. He is very blunt, real and almost cynical which ultimately kept my interest during his lecture. He is clearly knowledgeable about this topic, which only added to his over all presentation. I would not only be willing to sit in on another one of his speeches but I want to. I strongly believe you need to learn from the best in order to be successful and Baer meets that mark.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Should Instagram Insta-Regret Their Ad's?

With over 80 million users seemingly popping up out of nowhere, Instagram is the latest and greatest in the social media craze. Started in 2010 this photo-sharing platform has changed the way of picture sharing forever.

Until recently this social media platform has been virtually ad free – yes, businesses have used it to share images of their products and what not but the overt placement of advertisement were nowhere to be found. To me this was a huge selling point. Spending a lot of my time online it was reassuring to know I could always go to Instagram for a clutter free experience but this is no longer the case. In early October Instagram announced that they would be jumping on the advertising bandwagon and would start to implement them immediately.

To many of us this did not come like a shock. All of our beloved platforms must become commercialized at some point in order to make money – but it never makes the transition any easier. With information hubs like Statigram we were able to see the value in our posts very early on in Instagram's creation. It's sites like this why I believe this change has taken so long. The point of ads are to see value in a post but when it was so readily available it slowed down the need for this advertising change.

From a marketing perspective this was the smartest move Instagram could make. Its now been active and thriving for three years and it's time to start making some money. Before this change brands could make a profile, share images of the brands persona, products, staff members, locations etc. and have users opt-in to follow their image feed for FREE! As a marketing tool this was genius – but now not only can they have all the above (still for free) but they can also pay to have ads pop up on users feeds that do not currently follow them. This could drive traffic to their page or simply sell a product. 

I am left wondering what other users feel about this change. Unfortunately, due to the field I’m in I am forced to see both sides and I do see where they are coming from. This change not only makes Instagram a stronger marketing tool but a more valuable business overall. Good thing I love you Instagram! I guess we will have to make this transition together. Like it or not!

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Blogging a 2 for 1 Tool!

The Internet world is expanding every single day. Not only with professional websites, social media platforms and hilarious videos but also with high quality user generated content. With the ability to create, imagine and share online we as a society are much more connected and in tune with what is going on in the world around us. We have the ability to expand our minds

Blogging is one of the main platforms people use in order to start this sharing process. As a marketing tool a blog is an amazing asset that will allow your brand to further establish your brand persona but is can also be used as a communication tool. Consumers can comment on your posts and share your story so the conversation can continue.

Strangely enough blogging as a medium also has tremendous Search Engine Optimization capabilities. Using keyword strategies, linking to websites and generating creative content your blog can help drive traffic to your brand.

A keyword strategy allows the user to choose words that best describe their brand or product and “bulk up” on those words. This allows Google to easily recognize what the post is about and place it accordingly.

Linking to other blogs or websites will help build the authority of your page. By using a number of different resources consumers will trust that you know what you are talking about and that you are telling the truth. This will drive traffic and encourage sharability. Another strong addition to your SEO would be to have others linking to your blog. Search engine watch agrees that this link building technique allows you to build a connection with other brands and establishes your credibility. If the goal is to drive people to your website this is an excellent approach.

Finally blogs allow you to design new content to share with your consumers. This step helps with both the keyword strategy and the linking process. Content is the “meat” of your blog. It is the reason people will continue to come back time after time. Without content the other two SEO strategies are useless.

Blogging is a great way to show your talents and interest to prospective consumers in your brand and products but it has so much more to offer. With its ability to be both a successful marketing tool as well as have numerous SEO strategies blogging is an amazing opportunity for businesses/people. I for one have been building my online brand through my blog for a few years now and I can certainly see the benefits.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

The Key is Content!

Since the beginning of advertising different groups have struggles with whose part of the ad is the most important. The art directors swear by the image, the sales people say it’s all in the pitch; account managers say you need good client relationships and the marketing team thinks it’s all about where the ad is placed. The funny thing is they are all right. Their part is equally as important as the others because if one of these sections is lacking then the whole ad suffers.

But I am compelled to pose this question. Without the proper content what is the point of having an ad in the first place? The content is what drives the consumer to learn about the product, calls them to action and even closes the sale. It is also undeniably the only piece of the marketing puzzle that has not changed in all these years. Customer service techniques, graphics, sales pitches and ad space has all changed over time with the market but good, creative content has been valuable all along. 

“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant andvaluable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined andunderstood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

The Content Marketing Institute (created in 2007) has determined that there are seven steps that will turn a visitor into a brand evangelist all using content marketing.

The best part about these steps is we know that they work! Think about an experience you have had with a brand. No one can say they magically fell in love with a product over night. Your loyalty took a lot of work from the brand. Not only did they have to create a good product but they also had to earn your trust - and that trust building comes from a clear content strategy.

Joe Pulizzi is one of the great content marketing developers of our time. He focuses on the value of telling a story rather then just simply writing content. Pulizzi knows that consumers want to feel like they are apart of something bigger than themselves, and what better way to do that then let them into your brand story. With his new book (Epic Content Marketing) he quotes,

“As a business, your content marketing goal is to become part of the fabric of your customers’ lives. Once you can do that, selling to them becomes relatively easy... The good news is that we can all be epic”

Pulizzi also has the facts to back up his statements. For example in his blog he quotes “only 11 percent of marketers who don’t have a defined content marketing strategy for their enterprise describe their efforts as being effective.” Yikes! With facts like that it is hard to deny the clear value that good content or a good story can brings to your brand.

Story telling itself is not all that new of a concept. It has been going on for years, centuries even! Check out this video to see how far back story telling for the purpose of content marketing really goes.

Gila de Vries from Mashable takes a slightly different approach when looking at content as a marketing tool. He believes that with content must come with design, multiple platforms, balance between professional vs. user generated content and share ability. He thinks that even with great content must come a fair amount of engagement. By making your online content available on multiple platforms, shareable and interesting (both written and graphically) you are bound to have success. Gila also notes the power of on offline content strategy. He sates,

“A solid offline strategy can be one of the keys to bringing your online content to life, engaging your audience, and attracting new eyeballs. Red Bull has become an inimitable force in the field of content marketing and has blended online and offline marketing to become synonymous with extreme sports. In addition to a hugely popular website and magazine, Red Bull organizes sporting events from freestyle motocross, to extreme downhill sledding, to chariot racing. These offline events allow it to own the agenda, while engaging with their community in a very natural way.”

If I have not convinced you yet about the value in content marketing I have one more "Guru's" insight to share with you. Content Marketing Spot's creator Kevin Yeaman is passionate about his field. He specializes in a number of different content fields such as press releases, webinar hosting, social media content, business blogging and more. Yeaman shows us how content has a clear path to increasing sales. 
He posted this quote to his website, 

Content marketing as a whole is an amazing promotion tool – don’t you think? The power to build a relationship with your customers through words and stories is simply amazing. But we cannot forget about the value in its overall design, placement and share ability as stated by de Vries. If we as marketers can develop a brand story and stick to being "epic" like Pulizzi then we should have no problem with this concept. The content evangelists have paved a road for up and coming advertising/ marketing people to be successful - all of the information is right at our finger tips if we are willing to listen. I for one am convinced that this works and I know I will be using these techniques in the future. 

What brand do you know of that does a great job with their content? Personally I believe brands like Coca-Cola, Apple and Gatorade do fantastic job of connecting to their customers through content both on and off line. Let me know what you think.