Friday, September 28, 2012

Social Media Is Fleeting - So Be Prepared

I was recently surprised to discover that a social media site I frequently used to ask and answer business-related questions disappeared. One day the site was live, and the next day, the URL was available for purchase.

This caused me to question the lifespan of social media – not just social platforms but the content we post and share. How often have you visited a website for the first time and later returned to discover that the link is no longer live? All of us have encountered those annoying 404 pages, and rarely, companies actually create clever error pages.

But returning to the issue at hand, the lifespan of social media, the lesson is clear. Don't put all your content on any one social platform. Sprinkle the good stuff around so that your followers want more. Also, make sure you back up your content – so that you are prepared if a site goes down or closes up shop without any warning.

Lastly, but most importantly, apply the mantra that those of us in the marketing world yell from the rooftops on a daily basis: develop a strategy and adhere to it. Don’t just post dozens of tweets on Twitter, wall posts on Facebook, updates on LinkedIn, videos on YouTube, pins on Pinterest, etc. – without a social media strategy that aligns with your overall marketing plan. This will guarantee a consistent message and effective branding. While this may be obvious for businesses, individuals must also abide by this mantra.

As Adam Kmiec of the Campbell Soup Company said, “The answer isn't Facebook [or any other social media site.] The answer is your social strategy.”

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

How will new judges impact the television show brand THE VOICE?

As Season Three gets underway for the reality show The Voice, an announcement just hit the airwaves that two of the four judges will not return for Season Four. The announcement raised issues of teamwork and collaboration with applications to the workplace, but a little about the show first.

If you haven’t followed this TV show, here’s the quick rundown: Four internationally-known recording artists serve as judges and listen to aspiring artists sing. But what makes this show stand out from other talent shows and worthy of attention is that the judges listen to the singers for 90-seconds with their BACKS TO THE SINGERS. If the judges like what they hear, they hit a buzzer and turn around and face the singer for the duration of the song. If only one judge turns around, he or she gets to add the singer to his or her team. But if more than one judge turns around, there is an entertaining discussion with pitches presented by the judges. You see, when more than one judge turns around, the singer gets to choose whose team to join. Once teams are complete, then the show takes a different direction and the judges face the artists for the remainder of the season.

There are several reasons why this show has garnered so much attention and high ratings. The show’s season lasts only three-to-four months, which is quick when compared to a typical television season that runs from September to May. So advertisers get onboard the advertising train early. To the average viewer, the most prominent advertisers are sponsors, so most of the commercials and location signage feature Sprint, KIA, Starbucks, and Universal.

Also, Season Two premiered following last February’s Super Bowl. With the eyes of the world on the most famous single sporting event, high ratings were guaranteed.

Since the judges possess talent in different music genres, this musical mixture provides something for every fan – whether someone likes rock, pop, country, rap, jazz, soul, or gospel. When aspiring artists perform, they know that someone will be able to appreciate their type of music.

But the most compelling aspect of the show is that singers are not judged on their appearance, gender, ethnicity, religious clothing, or any physical quirks. They are judged solely on their voice – the range, tone, and strength. Since everyone wishes he or she could be judged solely by work product as opposed to gender, religion, ethnicity, etc., this aspect of the show resonates and draws viewers in.

Now, back to the change in judges for Season Four of THE VOICE planned for early 2013:

  • How will the new judges fit in?
  • How long will it take to develop camaraderie with the two existing judges?
  • Will the new judges favor singers who reflect their music genres?
  • Will one of the new judges try to take over as the main talker or leader?
  • How will the judges collaborate when all four perform together on stage?

Changing teams in the workplace is never an easy task. The employees who remain can become resentful about the change and never develop a positive outlook. Others may be grateful that poor-performing team members have been replaced. But the key for a successful team redesign is open communication. Make sure that all employees understand the reasons for the change, identify each individual team member’s responsibilities, and reiterate the team’s goals.

As Henry Ford said, “Coming together is a beginning. Keep together is progress. Working together is success.”

Monday, September 10, 2012

10 Tips for Effective Brand Marketing

No matter what you sell apples, office furniture, or airplane engines it’s a good idea to regularly check if your marketing campaigns are aligned with your target customers and your overall brand message.

So in the spirit of David Letterman’s Top Ten Lists, here are my top ten tips or strategies for effective brand marketing.

[1] Clearly and simply explain your brand promise in your employee handbook – most employees won't visit your website or read your brochures.

[2] Define your brand and what it represents to customers and stakeholders – and allow your brand’s unique personality to stand out among the competition.

[3] Create a company name that is memorable as well as easy to pronounce and spell.

[4] If you include a tagline with your company name or logo, make sure it adds value and doesn't just repeat the business name or initials.

[5] Create a style guide that explains how to reproduce your logo (color, size, font, etc.).

[6] Ensure that all your marketing, advertising, website, press releases, logos, signage, corporate communications, etc., convey the same message.

[7] Determine your competitive advantage – what makes your product or service unique and makes it stand out from others in your industry.

[8] Think very carefully before launching brand extensions – they must fit with the overall brand and not cause confusion – they could unintentionally result in loss of market share.

[9] Social media may be a useful tool for your company or brand to tell a story and participate in conversations.

[10] Always remember, all of your employees are brand advocates whether they work as official members of the marketing department or not – therefore, reinforce the brand’s key attributes by educating all employees and spend the time to create a positive culture where employees are recognized and rewarded so that they will become enthusiastic brand advocates.

If you spend the time to implement these ten strategies, your workplace will be a great place to work, your employees will be amazingly convincing brand advocates, and your brand will be on the road toward becoming an industry leader.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Different Purpose for Your Blog

Have you ever wanted to write a book? Many of us who have honed our writing skills as a result of the Blogosphere secretly dream of writing the great American novel or a historical analysis of the Civil War – some of us anyway. But have you ever thought about re-positioning your blog posts into a book? It might be easier than you think.

According to Nina Amir’s book, How to Blog a Book, you can “Write, publish, and promote your book one post at a time…If you write good copy and promote your blog well, it’s possible to gain more readers than you would with a traditionally published book.”

First, you need to decide why you want to write a book. Since you already write regular posts for your blog, you have established your ability for consistent writing as well as a routine for sharing ideas and arguments. But is that enough for a book? You may choose to write a book from scratch post by post. Or you can peruse the archives of your blog – you may have a lot more content than you think – either on a specific topic or many topics. Either way, if your answer is yes, move on to the next step.

Second, you need to ask yourself these key questions:

[1] Is my topic unique?
[2] Does what I have to say add value to my readers?
[3] Is there a market for this blog or blogged book?
[4] Who are my readers?
[5] How is my blog or blogged book different from the competition?
[6] How will I position myself in the cyber market or bricks-and-mortar market?
[7] What will I include in my blogged book?
[8] How will I organize the blogged book’s content?
[9] Does a blogged book offer me a way to gain customers for my business?
[10] Will a blogged book prove that I am an expert on my subject?

If you can answer those questions and are still eager to blog a book, here’s the third action item: write a pitch for your blogged book. Consider the following questions:

[1] Are you giving readers a solution to a problem? What is the problem? What is the solution?
[2] What’s your goal in writing the book?
[3] What do you want your readers to achieve by reading your book?
[4] Who are your readers?
[5] Is the book timely or time-sensitive?

In the words of Toni Morrison, “If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.”

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