These days, thanks to the accessibility of the Internet for all consumers, it’s easy to research companies and their history. Consumers are now more conscious than ever of companies and their motives. According to Rohit Bhargava of Mashable, people are sick of PR spin and fake marketing messages, which has led to what he calls a “believability crisis.” He said, “Many times the assumption by consumers is that marketing messages are motivated by greedy or deceptive intentions.”
Bhargava urges marketing and PR professionals to run advertising campaigns that are simple, honest, human, and emotional. He used four examples to get his point across: Ally Bank, Innocent, Domino’s Pizza, and the Mini Bottle Gallery. In their commercial, Ally Bank admits that people don’t trust banks because of shady practices. Domino’s shows actual consumer interviews and footage of focus groups where their pizza was negatively portrayed. They also filmed the process they went through to make their pizza better. The heads of the company practiced humility and were brutally honest. Innocent runs a “Big Knit” campaign every year where fans knit hats to place on top of their smoothie bottles. For every hat sent in, 25p are donated to Age UK, an organization that benefits the elderly. The hats distinguish the product and show that the company cares about more than making money. Christian Ringnes, who owns the Mini Bottle Gallery in Oslo, knows that his museum is a joke, and he doesn’t try to portray it in any serious manner. He just wants people to see the value in it and be as emotionally as invested as he is. In his marketing, he has a good sense of humor about his project.
Bhargava gave wonderful examples of companies that are trying their best to connect with the consumer. Ally Bank’s commercials are ingenious. After the banks ripped people off, it’s important to get the message across to people that your bank will not do the same. Both Ally and Domino’s acknowledged their downfalls and are trying their hardest to improve upon them. Domino’s and Innocent proved that behind the companies, there are people that care. They both care about their costumers, whether they show it by listening to their opinions or showcasing their creativity. And Ringnes is upfront about why he loves his gallery. This will make it easier for potential visitors to understand why he wants them to stop by. Obviously he doesn’t just want their money. He would like their attention and appreciation.
As we’ve said in previous blog entries, it’s easier to connect with consumers these days because of Facebook, Twitter, and other various social media sites. If marketing businesses can figure out how to also connect through Internet and TV ads, that’s an added bonus. You can’t try and trick consumers into buying products anymore. They are smart and socially conscious. If you treat them as equals, it’s much more likely that you’ll be successful.
Marketing Pilgrim recently posted an article that outlined the most important aspects of social media according to John Rich, the winner of Celebrity Apprentice, and actor Gary Busey. They had a simple but very true message: Social media is worthless unless it is personal and engaging.
The most effective social media relates to the consumer and allows them to have a voice. One message won’t appeal to everybody. You have to develop a number of different marketing campaigns that will speak to a varied group of people. For example, Target might run a contest on its Facebook fan page for Pampers one week and devote their marketing to moms. Another week, they could have a sale on Bratz dolls for little kids. They would want to create some kid friendly content and perhaps post some online interactive Bratz games.
Both Busey and Rich said that marketers and companies must not overload their consumers on the social media pages. You can’t post several tweets a day, because people will get sick of it and unfollow you. We know exactly what they mean. If you Tweet constantly, your message isn’t as strong. You should only post when you actually have something to say. Although you can Tweet with ease, that doesn’t mean it’s a good thing. As always, use your voice wisely.
People are sick of impersonalized television commercials. That’s why many consumers are buying Tivo and watching their favorite shows online to avoid advertising. Just like in our last post, we emphasized how important it is to do the research and try to figure out who is really buying your product. This will go a long way in helping you craft your specific messages. A company can’t just post “Buy this product, it’s on sale today only!” and expect that to be as effective as targeted messages.
Now, marketers at companies shouldn’t be as personal as Busey and talk about how their days are going, but they should respond to Tweets and questions posed by their audiences on Facebook. There’s a reason that Apple is doing so well – it has wonderful customer service. You can call up and speak to an actual, intelligent person when your computer or phone is on the fritz. The Internet makes it even easier to help out your customers, so why not utilize this?
Since corporations are often viewed in a negative light, you have to prove to consumers that you’ve got soul. Companies are made of people, who are also consumers. If the customer can relate to the product or company, chances are they’re going to reward you with some revenue.
Overnight Prints, a news website for small businesses and graphic designers, published an article yesterday about the relationship between social media and print media. The author, Mark Haslan, said that print media, such as posters and direct mailings, must take a lesson from social media and become more consumer-oriented. They should directly appeal to individuals by offering “special deals based on past purchases and even consider implementing a cross-channel marketing strategy such as quick response codes.”
We agree with Haslan. When you get a piece of mail from a company, you mostly likely are going to throw it away. To avoid this, those materials need to be more personalized. Companies need to find out exactly what people are interested in by polling or as Haslan suggests, using past purchases to determine what they would buy in the future.
Unlike print media, online social media is engaging. You can post pictures or videos on many company websites or on their Facebook fan pages. If you follow them on Twitter, you can @ them and they might reply. But a poster doesn’t really have those same capabilities. One way to make it appealing is the quick response codes. All over New York City, businesses are putting these codes on their posters. They allow for consumers with certain types of phones to scan in the QRC’s and gain access to exclusive information. If companies do this with direct mailing, they could use QRC’s to offer coupons.
As proven by Karl Rove back in the 2004 reelection campaign of George W. Bush, and President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, microtargeting is the key to success. Although this is a political term, it can also be applied to consumer issues. During both of these election seasons, the candidates focused on smaller groups of voters rather than trying to target huge districts. They discovered what kind of “cars (voters) own, the groups they belong to, (and) the magazines they read.” All of this worked because the candidates’ teams figured out what issues mattered most to voters. If companies could implement similar strategies, I am sure they would be much more successful in their print campaigns.
Although the Internet and email are quickly becoming the primary methods of correspondence, we must not forget about print media. If it catches up to the sophistication of social media, businesses will realize that both are equally effective tools when it comes to increasing revenue.
As usual, the New York Times has delivered a highly interesting and insightful article on the current state of marketing in America. MP Mueller of the Door Number 3 ad agency wrote a piece titled, “Why is So Much Marketing the Same?” on April 14th that can be used as a helpful resource for marketers everywhere.
Mueller gives his opinion and advice on how to make your client stand out in a sea of similarity. The three biggest obstacles that prevent creative and unique ideas from forming are what he refers to as “Social Media on Steroids,” “Political Correctness,” and “A Struggling Economy.”
The first category delves into how easy it is for consumers to post negative reviews about companies on the web. Since people now have a bigger voice because of the Internet, businesses are very cautious and pay much attention to these negative views. The second section is about not offending anyone in your marketing strategies. Mueller had an unpleasant experience with this himself. His company produced an ad that showed “a heavy-set middle-aged woman running with boxes for an elevator.” It was deemed offensive and had to be pulled. The third category discusses how the bad economy lessens creativity because people are afraid of getting fired.
We agree with these trends and think Mueller is exactly right in his advice. As for the “Social Media” section, there are always going to be negative and positive reviews out there. You can’t give into your critics — you must hear them out and see if your company can improve upon what they are critiquing, but you cannot pander to their needs. Unless there is a huge majority of people online bashing your business, you shouldn’t throw your ideas or strategies out the window. You should only try to make them better.
In a highly sensitive society, it is true that we must try and not offend anyone for the sake of an advertisement or for marketing purposes. Sure, shock value might work sometimes, but it’s pointless a majority of the time. The United States has gone through many periods of turmoil in terms of civil rights. Why relive this pain by not being politically correct and possibly hurting the feelings of a certain group of people in order to sell a product? The end does not justify the means.
As for the last bullet point, it’s understandable that people are wary of doing anything risky or outside the box in this economy when people are losing jobs left and right. But that can’t guide your work or dictate it so heavily that all of your imagination goes out the window. Mueller says that people don’t want to “rock the boat” in their companies- but nothing good is ever accomplished without doing this at least a little bit. Companies have to take risks. That’s the only way to try and be successful. No company got to the top by being exactly like their competition and taking the set path.
The best marketers look at their competition and say, “What can I do that no one else is doing?” What is the unique piece of information about my product, service, or idea that I can focus on and push? Once these two key questions are answered, you are well on your way to formulating a successful and effective marketing strategy.
Every day, the influence that social media has on marketers grows and grows. A recent article published in Biz Report explained that according to a poll, 70% of agency executives and marketers plan to “increase their social media budget by more than 10% in 2011.” When it comes to social networking, budgets will go up 11.9%. And, 87% of these companies said that social media was “’important or ‘very important’ to achieving their biggest marketing goal this year.” For many companies, their main objective is to get consumers to “like” them on Facebook.
To people outside the world of marketing, this may not make much sense. But to marketing companies, it makes perfect sense. The whole point of social media and networking is to target people on sites they use frequently, and Facebook is the most popular of them all. At one point, it surpassed Google in its popularity. When your friends “like” something, you’ll be more inclined to check it out. People trust their friends’ opinions. And, we usually become friends with likeminded people. It’ll be a chain reaction among Facebook friends when one person clicks “like.”
These days, companies use Facebook fan pages to hear feedback from and connect with consumers. The opinions of consumers matter more today than ever thanks to Facebook, Yelp, Zagat, and other sites where people review products and stores. People want to feel like their voice is heard, and companies can provide this. Businesses can also offer incentives and exclusive deals or run contests on their fan pages. This will (usually) lead to an increase in revenue.
In the past, marketing companies only had email to reach out to consumers on the Internet. Now this may be seen as spam. But having a Facebook fan page is non-invasive. Consumers decided what pages they “like” and want to participate in. News and updates from the businesses only show up if the user wants them to. Users have total control over what they see. It’s the perfect relationship between the customer and the company.
I’m sure that we’ll continue to see even more companies devoting a big portion of their budget to social media and networking. In a world that’s becoming more and more technologically advanced, it’s the only logical step. Marketers must keep up with the way people communicate, even if it means spending money. As they say, you have to spend money to make money!
Lindsey Tate McCullough, the winner of lap’n’cap design contest, knew she always wanted to be an artist. When she arrived as a freshman at the State University of New York at Purchase College two years ago from Chelmsford, Massachusetts, she found her niche: graphic design.
Although she had originally submitted a portfolio full of paintings and drawings to the art conservatory program, Tate McCullough said she fell in love with designing on computers at her college. She uses Final Cut and the Adobe Suite, which includes Photoshop, Illustrator, and Indesign.
The young artist said that she decided to submit her drawings to the contest after reading an email from the head of her conservatory’s department. “It was the beginning of the semester when I didn’t have much work to do yet. So I thought it’d be a good opportunity. Honestly, when I read the email, I had so many ideas so I thought I’d be missing out if I didn’t enter.”
And when she found out she won, Tate McCullough said she was thrilled. “I immediately was just so excited and I was so happy as a student and new designer that my work is being used for something. I’ve never really won anything before and [I love] the fact that my work is going to be distributed to thousands of people.”
In the past, Tate McCullough interned at a student-run magazine at Purchase, The Submission. She designed vectors for Powerpoint presentations that were used by TeraCode, a laser company. And, she did some shadowing for a package design company.
When thinking about what she was going to turn in for lap’n’cap, Tate McCullough said she kept her cousins, who are toddlers, in mind. “I knew that once I had an idea, I thought of Cory and Ryan and the fact that they like baseball. My other cousin is a girly girl so I thought about what she wore and what she would wear.”
In general, Tate McCullough said she is inspired by the art of New York City. Whenever she steps foot into the city, she observes the art, learns about the process behind it, and uses it to help guide her own work.
Although the designer isn’t completely sure what she wants to pursue full-time, she is certain that she wants to continue with art. “I am open to anything,” she said. “I haven’t come across a part of design that I don’t like. I’ll go wherever my career takes me.”
via3pr prides itself on working for local businesses and helping companies build themselves from the ground up. One type of client we especially enjoy collaborating with is non-profit organizations.
We take on clients that we believe in. Our values must align with theirs so that we can help them reach their marketing goals. When we work to make non-profit organizations raise money and increase awareness about their efforts, we are playing a part in making the world a little better and brighter.
Right now, we’re organizing an event for a non-profit www.RussianDentists.org that deals in health care. They’re providing free services to communities in New York and New Jersey that will help keep people well. This group targets kids, teens, adults, and professionals in its field to spread the word about certain diseases. They hold creative contests and give away prizes for children while inviting parents to join in on the fun. For this year’s campaign, the organization is aiming to inform teens about the dangers of some diseases caused by risky sexual conduct. And, they’re throwing a musical concert and lecture for professionals to make them more aware about regularly testing their patients for a few kinds of illnesses.
For via3pr, it’s easy to represent a client like this – one who is doing their part to keep people informed, healthy, and happy. We are proud to help out such a wonderful cause. In years past, their events were highly successful and we know that this year is going to be even bigger and better. All the events are so diverse and geared towards different age groups, so they’re enjoyable for everybody.
We’ve already set the ground work by posting on local neighborhood calendars and writing our news release. Today, we found and sent sponsorship requests to corporations that are dedicated to helping out 501c (3) non-profit organizations and community initiatives. The next step is to reach out to reporters and get them involved. We don’t gather that it’ll be very difficult to get media coverage or participants because people are greatly benefitting from these programs. There are a multitude of stories that can be written and numerous angles that can be taken.
via3pr thinks it’s important to work with a diverse group of clients. The most crucial thing is – do you believe in the work you’re doing for them? It’s a no-brainer for us when it comes to non-profit organizations. Helping out charitable groups is rewarding because we are contributing to the improvement of people’s lives.
It’s been said that we are living in the golden age of public relations and marketing, thanks to the Internet and advances in technology. These developments are helping small businesses in a big way by providing similar advantages given to large corporations. Now, both types of companies can stand virtually on the same level.
One of the ways small businesses are benefiting is from online videos, and our company has experience with this. At via3pr, we make infomercials and commercials for our clients, but we also produce online videos (check out our YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/via3pr07). There are a number of upsides, we’ve found, when choosing online videos over the traditional video ad.
Online videos are easy and cheap to produce and distribute. At the bare bones level, all you need is a good idea and a $150 Flip cam or a computer with an embedded camera. From there, you can post the video on YouTube or a similar site for no cost. The only cost comes in if you want your videos to appear as ads on the site. In the past, it was a huge deal to make a commercial or infomercial. You had to hire a (usually) expensive production company and pay top prices to have your ad distributed on television networks. Now, that’s not the case.
In this New York Times article, the many benefits of online videos are examined: “Online Video Offers Low-Cost Marketing For Your Company” http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/17/business/smallbusiness/17sbiz.html?_r=1&scp=4&sq=marketing&st=cse. Kermit Pattison, the author of the article, uses a few different companies who have highly benefited from online video marketing to highlight its positive aspects.
BBQguys.com, a store in Louisiana, posts instructional cooking videos that show how make certain types of food, like fried turkey or smoked beef briskets. Their 400 YouTube videos, which they have been producing since 2006, have 1.4 million views. With the help of Google analytics, they can see the “hot spots,” or, the most popular parts of their videos. They now include “hot spot” segments more frequently in their videos, which include footage of food cooking on the grill.
A very smart way to get views was thought up by GoPro.com, a manufacturer of small cameras that can be used during various adventure sports. They get viewers to use the cameras when they are participating in extreme sports, and then post the videos online. They have a mere 100 videos that have been viewed a whopping 24 million times.
We here at via3pr love the idea of getting users involved. BBQguys and GoPro.com were smart enough to get people interested and participating, whether it involved cooking up a lovely meal or taking risks on your motorbike. In our opinion, consumers are more interested in social media than any other type of marketing strategy because they can take part in the process. They can post pictures/videos of themselves using a product or service. Others will comment on their video. I bet your self esteem is boosted after you post a video doing a risky move on a ski slope and getting positive praise from other people on GoPro.com. Then, that means you will have good feelings about the company. It’s absolutely brilliant.
In this day and age, when everyone is doing public relations and marketing because it’s so convenient, you must find a way to stand out among the competition. One great way is online video. Keep it simple, keep it short, and make it interesting. In the end, it’s going to be a small investment for a much bigger payoff.
Yesterday, this article appeared in the NY Times about the repercussions on a company when employees post their personal opinions on Twitter: “When the Marketing Reach of Social Media Backfires.”
Comedian Gilbert Gottfried, spokesperson for Aflac, posted jokes about the disaster in Japan. An employee for Chrysler’s Twitter team made a remark about people in Detroit being bad drivers. Both employees were fired and the companies issued apologies.
Our question is: How could these employees be so daft? When you’re representing a client or company, you have to be careful what you say, especially on the Internet. Even if you don’t represent a company, is it really worth it to offend the families of victims of the tragedy in Japan or say that people from Detroit aren’t good drivers? Not only is that bad professionally, it’s just not good behavior as a person. What do we get out of being insulting to others, especially over the web where we are “protected”? It’s just passive aggressive.
So, via3pr’s main advice is this: If you’re going to put yourself out there on the Internet, make sure your image is positive. And if you can’t resist the urge to keep your hurtful comments to yourself, you probably shouldn’t have a Twitter account.
On Thursday, March 10th, via3pr held its 27th meetup for Russian speaking journalists in America. Although we thought nobody would show up because it was heavily raining, 20 reporters from all around New York City braved the weather and traveled to Brooklyn to network, share the latest news, and talk about internet radio.
The meetup’s special guests were Mark Rastanny, president of ReporterUS and Yury Bagrov, a journalist at ReporterUS. They are part of the news outlet that adjusts national stories for Russian-speaking Americans. The site has only been around for a few months but already receives 7,000 unique views daily. This is because it appeals to Russian speakers in the U.S. Most of the time, newspapers are just imported from Moscow. ReporterUS is a huge asset and great resource that includes not only written news, but radio as well.
According to Rastanny, 85% of ReporterUS’ internet radio listeners speak Russian and live in America. Twenty-five percent of listeners live in the former Soviet Union. By and large, it’s been a success, save for a hacking incident in December which caused the site to switch servers.
The meetup consisted of journalists who worked at Novoe Russkoe Slovo, a 100-year-old paper that unfortunately had to shut down recently. They are now employed at Reporter, a Russian daily newspaper. In attendance was Stephen Witt, an editor at Our Time Press, which focuses on African-American news. Witt brought Antanina Kapchonava, a young journalist from Belarus who studied at Brooklyn College. Even though Witt doesn’t speak Russian, thankfully some friendly translators were there to help so he could also feel included.
Despite the rain, we had a fair turnout for the meetup. Sometimes around 40 people show up, and other times only five are able to make it. No matter what the number, our friend Olga Cherny, a journalist at the RTN station, reminded us that it’s quality over quantity. As long as the topics of the event are interesting and the people in attendance have fun, that’s all that matters. That being said, we can’t wait for our next meetup, which will be on April 21st and feature a special guest from the New York Times website. Hopefully the weather will be better!