Friday, December 30, 2011

Pic Tip Friday: Be the first, brand something unqiue

Pic Tip # 9: Create a unique product. Be the first to brand a genre. Do something different. Combine two genres or two things to make something interesting and new.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

Pic Tip Friday: Be aware of the times

Pic Tip #7: Be aware of the times and take advantage of current trends or events that might give a new or creative spin to your product, business or service.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Pic Tip Friday: Make your attributes shine

Pic Tip #5: Find a way to make your best attributes shine. In this picture, my dad has shaved the rest of his hair to make himself completely bald. His "bald spot" is one of my favorite things about him.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Pic Tip Friday: Where the action is

Pic Tip # 4: Put yourself or your product or service in the middle of where the action is (like TKTS in Times Square).

Friday, November 18, 2011

Pic Tip Friday: Reinvent

Pic Tip # 3: Reinvent (like Lincoln Center did), but without completely throwing out the original. Slow change is better than huge change all at once.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Branding Tips: Be the original

I recently reviewed Riverdance. It was a spectacular show, but not nearly as mind blowing as I expected. So why has it been so successful? Far more successful than all the knock-off dance shows it has inspired? Because it is the original!

Be the first to establish your brand, and you'll live long and well.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pic Tip Friday: Extraordinary Placement

Pic Tip # 2: Put your product somewhere out of the ordinary where it will stand out.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Digitize and keep your audience involved

SHN San Francisco, the Broadway touring platform for San Francisco, is doing something new and digital with the usual dance party that occurs at the end of the musical HAIR, which is currently playing in San Francisco. SHNSF decided to record the parties and make them available online for patrons to enjoy and share. Patrons can share videos, tag themselves in specific moments of the videos, and comment on the videos (and comments are posted to Facebook). The website also includes easy to use links for buying tickets.

SHN obviously knows how to get the word out, and its tactics are keeping patrons involved online, which keeps SHN on their minds until the next touring show comes around.

How have you used the internet and other digital methods? Do you have any specific tactics for keeping your audience involved?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Music, videos and digital copies

I love combos that come with DVDs, Blu-ray disc, and digital copy. They give you a lot more for your money - or at least they make you feel that way - so you're more likely to buy them. So why haven't music companies started doing this yet? Charge a little extra, but make it look like a good deal by offering to give the customer the MP3s for free to have the music immediately while you wait for the physical CD. After all, the physical CD is phasing out. It's all about digital now.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Pic Tip Friday: All about the display

For the next few weeks I will be posting short marketing tips based on various snap shots. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, so see what you can learn from the photos I'll be posting.

Here's Pic Tip #1:

Find creative ways to display your product or service.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Lessons from Chick-fil-A: Utilizing tricks and treats

I love Chick-fil-A. Not only do they have great food, but they have great marketing and public relations, as well.

The Chick-fil near Biola University (where I graduated from in May) took advantage of the youth demographic by reaching out to University students with special deals and events. The La Habra Chick-fil-A also has regular special deals for all customers and sends them out via text message if you sign up. One special deal involves giving away free food with the purchase of a large soda on rainy days.

For Halloween, this Chick-fil-A held a costume party for children. Photos were posted on Facebook for voting. What better way is there to reach out to families than to give them the chance to brag about their kids?

What special deals or events do you use to draw customers in?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Social Media Treats and Scares

Talk about hilarious. This haunted mansion in Canada posts pictures of people being scared on its Facebook Account for people to comment on and share. Their site traffic has gone up by 100,000 percent.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Google Finally Gets Rid of Google Buzz

Google has announced it will get rid of Google Buzz. It's about time. Buzz was pretty useless in the first place, and it was definitely unneeded once Google Plus came out.

What do you think? Did you ever use Google Buzz?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Netflix changes its mind.... again

Remember my previous posts on Netflix's bad moves in price hikes and splitting the streaming and dvd services? Well now they've changed their mind again based on customer complaints and are staying the same, but keeping the price hikes.

I know they're trying to please customers, but even worse than making irrational, unpleasant changes is staying inconsistent in your brand by going back and forth of the teeter totter. Netflix has a lot of damage control to do, and the Marketing, Public Relations people aren't doing a good job at it so far.

What do you think? Is Netflix making the right decisions?

Here's the letter Netflix sent out with its most recent announcements:

Dear Harmony,  
It is clear that for many of our members two websites would make things more difficult, so we are going to keep Netflix as one place to go for streaming and DVDs. This means no change: one website, one account, one password…in other words, no Qwikster. While the July price change was necessary, we are now done with price changes. We're constantly improving our streaming selection. We've recently added hundreds of movies from Paramount, Sony, Universal, Fox, Warner Bros., Lionsgate, MGM and Miramax. Plus, in the last couple of weeks alone, we've added over 3,500 TV episodes from ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, USA, E!, Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, ABC Family, Discovery Channel, TLC, SyFy, A&E, History, and PBS. We value you as a member, and we are committed to making Netflix the best place to get your movies & TV shows.
The Netflix Team

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Advantage of Hands On Marketing

People like hands on stuff. Look at the Nook vs. the Kindle. You can go to your local Barnes and Noble and try the Nook out. But you have to buy the Kindle on faith. Give the customer a taste, and he's far more likely to crave your product in the future. Just look at Edmund in "The Chronicles of Narnia." He really liked his sweets, didn't he?

What have you done to make your company or product more hands on and interactive? Are samples as effective as they seem?

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Social Media Cheat Sheet

Visit Sociable Blog (the original provider of this graphic) for the accompanying article.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Get your audience involved part 2

Yesterday we discussed the importance of getting your audience involved. Let's take that one step further.

If you want more followers.... get your audience to relate.
If you want more customers... get your audience to relate.
If you want more results......... get your audience to relate.

Think's "Word of Mouth" videos. The Broadway news site takes everyday people of all ages, sends them to shows, and then has them talk about the shows in a candid way. Because these people are not your typical New York Times reviewer, viewers can relate to them and trust them more.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Get your audience involved

If you want more followers.... get your audience involved.
If you want more customers... get your audience involved.
If you want more results......... get your audience involved.

I could go on, but I won't. You get the point. Contests, interesting content, discussion... GET YOUR AUDIENCE INVOLVED.

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying has done a good job of this. The Broadway show held a contest for its fans. See the winner in the video below:

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Amazon announces new color touch Kindle Fire

Amazon is releasing a series of new Kindles, including the color touch Kindle Fire, which is a cross between a Nook and an iPad. It includes the size and convenience of the Nook Color, but also the video and music capabilities of the iPad. It will certainly drive a lot of traffic to Amazon's non-book products such as its film streaming Prime service. And it has this Nook user wishing she could trade in her Nook Color for the Kindle Fire (not that I'm not grateful and satisfied with what I have). Plus it's cheaper ($199). And so are the other three new Kindles (as cheap as $79). Watch the video below for details.

What do you think? Is there a market for the Kindle Fire? Will it make things difficult for Nook Color? Will you be switching to Kindle now?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Where to draw the line with benefits: Audience is number one

We all know that fundraisers are important parts of keeping businesses alive, but what about benefits for outside causes?

A few months ago, Whoopi Goldberg gave away all the money from one performance of Sister Act the Musical to President Obama's reelection campaign. For me, this felt a bit off the right track. If I were a patron, I wouldn't want to give my money to a political cause. I'd be going to the show for pure entertainment. But then again, it is Goldberg's money to be giving away. But considering where that money came from, she had better be sure all her patrons that night and her cast actually support Obama. And if you bring politics into a show, that may affect what patrons are willing to give you their business in the future.

Next month, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying is doing a similar benefit for the non-profit Trevor Project, which "saves the lives' of LGBT youth considering suicide. It's a little less political of a cause, it has a good front of saving lives, and How to Succeed star Daniel Radcliffe has been supporting the project for some time, but it's still controversial.

Then there's Broadway Cares - Equity Fights AIDS. A yearly time during which stars collect donations from patrons after each show to go toward fighting AIDS.

These are all causes that could have a negative or positive spin depending on your political and moral beliefs. Is there a line you cross that could affect your business more negatively than positively? Obviously, you can't please everyone. A newspaper will choose to front one political candidate, but not all of the newspaper staff will support that candidate.

From a business perspective, the number one thing you can do is consider who your audience is and how they will respond to the cause you are collecting money for. If you're doing a benefit for personal reasons, then I suppose you have to stand up for what you have to stand up for, but if you're going to consider how it will affect your business, look for the benefits and causes that will give you a positive spin with your audiences.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Instant is Golden

Despite Netflix's recent mistakes, Instant is still in style. Many Netflix customers are now switching to Amazon Prime or Hulu Plus. And now the Metropolitan Opera is offering instant operas and concerts, streamed over the internet for one of several price options.

The basic truth is - people like things to be delivered instantly. It's all about convenience, today. Even if you're not a streaming service, you can think about ways to make your information, to make what you have to offer more accessible and instant.

The Met is also capitalizing on being the first to offer a unique kind of streaming - streaming of operas. So, think about how what you can be first in.

How have you made your organization more accessible?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sometimes the "Star" is the Key

Choosing the right person to represent your product is everything. Honda recently switched from a cartoon man to using the humor an charm of Patrick Warburton. Right choice? I don't know. But it made me laugh.

In the Broadway world, a star often carries a show. Take "How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying." They've gone from Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe to Glee star Darren Criss to the coming pop star Nick Jonas. All these stars keeps the not-so-amazing show going.

Who are you getting to speak for your organization or business? Is it better to have a famous spokesperson? Or to have your employees and customers be your spokespeople?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Netflix redeems itself... sort of

Back in July I wrote about Netflix's decision to split the prices and charge separately for instant viewing and delivery by mail. I felt satisfied, as I am sure many other Netflix customers did, when I recently saw an article on the extreme drop in Netflix customers after its announcement on the price changes, which went into effect this month.

Now, Netflix co-founder, Read Hastings, has sent out an apology letter to all members and opened a forum for discussion on a similar blog post. Watch the video announcement at the end of this post. Here's an excerpt:
It is clear from the feedback over the past two months that many members felt we lacked respect and humility in the way we announced the separation of DVD and streaming and the price changes. That was certainly not our intent, and I offer my sincere apology. Let me explain what we are doing.
Turns out, Netflix is renaming its direct mail service Quixster and keeping the name Netflix for streaming.
We realized that streaming and DVD by mail are really becoming two different businesses, with very different cost structures, that need to be marketed differently, and we need to let each grow and operate independently.
Personally, I don't like the new Quickster logo, but I understand their reasoning, branding-wise. They would have been smart to hold off changing prices until the announcement about the new brand, though. It might have saved them a lot of complaints.

The problem remains, however, that people like things simple. Netflix was the original "have movies sent to your home" service, and it was one of the first to offer streaming of movies online. I think a lot of people liked Netflix because it combined the two and made it simple. If Netflix wanted its new branding to work, it would have kept the Netflix name for both streaming and direct mail, but started a new streaming/instant brand and worked that up separately without the Netflix association. Then they could have slowly weaned out the instant on Netflix and referred people to the new brand.

So, while this new announcement and apology has redeemed Netflix in some ways, it has made things worse for them in other ways.

What do you think? Where did Netflix go wrong? Did they have the right idea for all these changes?
Please retweet and share.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hollywood Bowl Part 2: How Open Should We Be With Social Media vs. Copyright

My recent troubles with the Hollywood Bowl (which I wrote about yesterday) have led me to wonder how relevant and important copyright rules are these days. They're greatly needed in a lot of ways, but when it comes to allowing photos and video at, say, the Hollywood Bowl, or allowing people to tweet and Facebook from their phones at a performance (like Broadway/L.A. recently did for a performance of Shrek the musical), should we allow it or should we say no no? Or maybe we could just beat them to it?

The way things are so open today, it's probably a good idea to have some leniency. And if you beat the customer to it by providing your own media (i.e. videos, photos, etc), maybe people won't be as inclined to break the rules. So point number 3 from yesterday's post is Get Involved and Be Modern!

There's a similar controversy over whether fans should be able to write fan fiction because fan fiction infringes on copyright.

Thoughts? What is your opinion on the great copyright versus social media "war"?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Lessons from Hollywood Bowl Part 1

On a recent visit to Southern California I decided to go with a friend to the Hollywood Bowl. I was excited because I had never been to the SoCal landmark. I was just as excited to take pictures of the place. One problem: No professional cameras allowed. I don't know why I thought it'd be any different than an indoor concert at... say... the Walt Disney Concert Hall where photography of any kind is not allowed. Maybe I thought it would be OK because it was outdoor.

Turns out, I had to check my camera in with Security. This worried me because I was not sure if I would have enough time after the concert to pick up my camera and get to the park-and-ride bus before it left. I was also irritated because there were plenty of point and shoot and iPhone cameras allowed in that could take just as good of pictures as my SLR depending on how close you are to the stage.

A few take-aways:

  1. Make your policies as clear as possible - don't save them for the fine print, and organize them clearly on your website. On this point, the Hollywood Bowl fails.
  2. Follow the example of Hollywood Bowl: If you have customers complaining, handle them calmly, refer them to a customer service line, and offer a secure place for them to take their things.
  3. Read tomorrow's post for point number 3 on social media and multimedia.
What customer service issues have you had and how have you dealt with them?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The power of words and calls to action

Words have power beyond Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is about getting people to find you, but in the social media world, they've already found you, and it's up to you to keep them active. Here's an interesting graphic from Copyblogger about the most powerful call to action words. Read the full Copyblogger blog post here.

What are some of your own power words and calls to action?

Please ReTweet and Facebook this post.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The future of web design

Do HTML and CSS have a future? Or are they in decline?

Adobe seems to think web design has a future outside of HTML and CSS. They've developed a new software for web design that allows for all the interactive content without knowledge of HTML. It's created for designers who just want to design without the hassle of working with coding.

Muse, the new software, is being offered for free as long as it is Beta mode.

Do you agree with Adobe?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Reinventing and rebranding yourself

When it's old, don't be afraid to reinvent it. Just look at Simon Cowell. As American Idol got old and boring, he left and recreated it in the form of a new brand: The X Factor. We'll see how it goes for that show. Rebranding by creating a new product has worked for plenty of other companies before FOX.

Are rebranding and creating new products successful and reasonable actions? Will X Factor succeed and American Idol fail?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

One GIANT bad move by Netflix

Money is important, and cost hikes are inevitable, but a recent move by Netflix to raise prices for those who want both mailed-to-home videos and instant streaming may be losing it more customers and losing more money than gaining.

The change (see below), which was announced by email and on the Netflix Facebook page, has received over 13,000 Facebook comments on the Facebook announcement, most of them negative. Users are declaring they will drop Netflix for Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, or Redbox if Netflix does not get rid of the change.

On a move (or lack of movement) almost as bad as the announced change, Netflix has yet to respond to the negative comments.

Marketing choices are difficult to make, and may require higher prices, but without good public relations, those decisions will hurt, rather than help a company. This is why clear communication is so important, as is having a prepared response for negative reactions. It seems Netflix has failed big time here.

Will Netflix users keep good on their word and drop the service? Are there any positives to Netflix's actions?

Read the Netflix announcement I received below:
We are separating unlimited DVDs by mail and unlimited streaming into two separate plans to better reflect the costs of each. Now our members have a choice: a streaming only plan, a DVD only plan, or both.

Your current $9.99 a month membership for unlimited streaming and unlimited DVDs will be split into 2 distinct plans:

Plan 1: Unlimited Streaming (no DVDs) for $7.99 a month
Plan 2: Unlimited DVDs, 1 out at-a-time (no streaming) for $7.99 a month

Your price for getting both of these plans will be $15.98 a month ($7.99 + $7.99). You don't need to do anything to continue your memberships for both unlimited streaming and unlimited DVDs.

These prices will start for charges on or after September 1, 2011.

You can easily change or cancel your unlimited streaming plan, unlimited DVD plan, or both, by going to the Plan Change page in Your Account.

We realize you have many choices for home entertainment, and we thank you for your business. As always, if you have questions, please feel free to call us at 1-888-357-1516.

–The Netflix Team

When does offering personalization go too far?

Can personalization go too far?

MySpace offers a lot of options for personalizing your page, but to the point where it became cluttered, flashy, and immature.

Facebook offers applications and games. At one point, they had separate pages for users - on for information and one for applications and boxes (think "What Disney character are you?" quizzes). Facebook, too, becomes easily cluttered.

Twitter offers personalization for one solid background with a set layout for everything else.

Google+ has very little style personalization and a lot of informational personalization right now.

Who has the right idea? How much should a customer be allowed to personalize their options?

Monday, July 11, 2011

In times of trouble, make your policies clear

Lesson #1. When a customer complains, apologize, but make your policies clear.
Lesson #2. When making your policies, do your best to be reasonable. It will avoid a lot of problems and a lot of complaining customers.
Back in March, I wrote about a bad experience I had at a Carl's Junior. I later learned that the problem wasn't that the people at the restaurant were being rude, but that CJs had a certain policy that the restaurant managers were going by. Rather than just outright demanding I return the food when it was their fault their ATM machine was not working and they hadn't warned me, they should have told me the corporate Carl's Junior policy. Then, I would have been fine with what was happening and taken my concerns to the corporate offices, rather than yelling at the nice people at the restaurant.

I thought about this more after a recent interview I had for a position at a local theater. My interviewers asked me what I would do if a customer at the box office was complaining or asked for something I couldn't give them. I replied that I would stay calm, say what I could, and bring in my supervisor as a last resort, if it came to that. Upon further consideration, I realized how important it would be in a situation like this to make the theater's policies clear. For example, if it was concern over a ticket, I would tell the customer the policy and point out that it was made clear on the theater's website and when the patron bought his tickets.

Of course, some companies just don't think when they create their policies. So, once again, the two lessons here are:
1) When a customer complains, apologize, but make your policies clear.
2) When making your policies, do your best to be reasonable. It will avoid a lot of problems and a lot of complaining customers.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Giving your organization a face

Customers like organizations and businesses to have morals, personality - to have a face to them. This applies to a website just as much as it applies to the need to provide good customer service.

I've been doing some work for Hillhouse Opera Company, a new opera company in Connecticut. Currently, their website is not attractive. The colors aren't engaging. There's no logo. And the website has no production photos. Playhouse Merced, which has a lot of good information on its website, has a similar problem. It is missing a face, as well. It has a logo, but the photos are old and are only on one page.

Think of logos and pictures as a major part of your branding. In many ways, they are your face. They set the atmosphere of your website. And, aside from this, they wet the appetite of your customer. If a customer sees something they like, they'll be more interested in buying your product. But if the customer doesn't even know what your product looks like, they'll think it a risk to try your product.

You have to earn their trust. You have to own the right impression in their mind.

What are some other ways you "brand" your company?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Google renaming Blogger and Picasa

Google plans to rebrand the Blogger and Picasa brands as Google Blogs and Google Pics, according to a recent report by Mashable.

I don't think it's a very smart move on their part. Good branding doesn't necessarily equal putting a well known brand's name on every thing. Just read Ries' 22 Immutable Laws of Branding (

I see the Picasa and Blogger logos, and their names are programmed into my brain. Google will have to reprogram everything in the consumer's mind now.

Of course, it's not that big of a deal and shouldn't hurt them too bad since the products are all very different, so it's not like Coke Zero stealing business from regular Coke.

But, still, Google Pics and Google Blogs aren't very memorable names. If they want to succeed, they'll have to bet on the success of the Google name. Luckily, they're already very popular, so they may not have to deal with any problems for a while, if at all.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Chat in the Google Facebook Wars: Facebook announces Facebook Skype Video Chat

It seems that some of the Google+ versus Facebook wars is revolving around effective chatting (video or text). Facebook announced today that it will partner with Skype to offer group and video chat.

Personally, I use Skype for video chat - not Google. And I don't chat very often on Facebook.

Do you want all your chat functions in one place combined with your social media? Or do you prefer to keep them separate?

8 Must-read articles on Google+

Obviously, Google+ offers the same social networking abilities that Facebook offers. But it has its own unique qualities, as well, and they could mean something for marketers, public relations specialists, photographers and reporters.

Here are eight, must-read articles on the uses and potential of Google+:

1) HubSpot has the low down on all of the Google+ features
2) PR News reports on the PR uses of Google+
3) The Future Buzz reports on the marketing and PR uses of Google+
4) Chris Brogan talks about 50 current and future possibilities for Google+
5) The Next Web gives some advice on how to turn your profile into a photography portfolio
6) Chris Brogan gives some advice on how to use Google+ as a blog
7) Sprout Social Insights reports on the possibility of Google+ business pages
8) Read StarBright Business' summary of the pluses and minuses of Google+

What do you think Google+ offers your business or brand?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Google Makeover: Google+ is only the beginning

It's clever marketing, and it makes Google a lot more modern looking. That's right, Google is getting a complete makeover. You may have noticed that Google search has been getting a new look lately. You may have heard that Google+ is the new social network trying to surpass Facebook.

Now Google is switching up Gmail a bit too.

And all these aesthetic changes serve to build up excitement and talk about Google+, and they give Google a bit of a different brand image, too. Sure, Google is still fun and personable. You can still personalize the look of your Gmail, you can still personalize your Google home page, and you can still view those fun Google designs on holidays and special occasions. But now Google is giving itself a more modern look, setting itself up as a company looking to the future, a company that is the future.

Is Google making a good decision by changing its image?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Some pluses (and minuses) of Google+

Now that Google+ is allowing most anyone to sign up, I've had a chance to explore the new social network and find I like it much better than Facebook. Despite its name, however, it does have a few minuses that Google will likely fix as it adds features and changes to what is now the early, experimental version. It's already looking like they plan on adding gaming abilities.

But with the possibility of new features like games and applications, you have to wonder how Google+ will succeed if it decides to copy Facebook rather than capitalizing on what makes it unique.

That said, here are a few pluses and minuses of the current version of Google+:

+ Google+ is integrated with Gmail and all other Google functions. When you're logged in, the bar at the top of the page includes the typical "Web, Images, Gmail, etc" options, but there's also a section on the right of the bar that sends you notifications and allows you to view and access your profile and settings. So you can access your email and notifications, and you can post links and status updates - all on the same web page. This is the biggest plus for me.

+ Adding on to the previous plus, Google+ has a thing called "Sparks" that is similar to Google News. You add an interest to Sparks that will show up in your side bar and can click on it to view the latest news and web articles on that topic.

+ Its concept of easily arranging friends into "circles" is unique and fun

- When you invite people from you gmail address book by putting them in a circle, they show up in your circle whether they've accepted your invite and joined Google+ or not.

+It has a unique, clean look

- But it may lose that when it starts adding more features

+ It allows you to edit photos

+ It has video chat capabilities

+ Like other social media sharing methods, it allows you to share by giving you the ability to give a +1 to stories and other information/postings on the Internet, and it also provides a column in your account to view everything that you have given a +1 to.

+ It also has a column for Buzz posts

- Not that anyone ever uses Buzz. I only have one friend who uses it, and everything I post is automatically coming from Facebook and Twitter

- Posts are separated from Buzz and +1. The organization here is unclear, and since I already have all my Facebook and Twitter posts coming to Buzz, why bother reposting? Well, because otherwise I won't show up in people's streams.

- There's no ability to post from your phone, unless you have a smart phone and download the app for that. The webpage labels "SMS" as "coming soon."

- There's no way to connect Facebook and Twitter to your regular posts.

+ In a way, it combines Facebook with LinkedIn by automatically using your professional Google profile.

- Unfortunately, as it is in its beginning stages, I currently only have two people to be sharing things with.

Chris Brogan has made a list of 50 possibilities regarding Google+. Check it out here.

What are your favorite Google+ features? Have you joined yet? Will it beat Facebook?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Why e-blasts don't work

To please the modern customer, you need to make your product and your marketing strategies personal and convenient for your target audience.

A lot of e-blasts do not succeed in attracting customers for the very reason that they are not personal. If all you are sending are event or promotion reminders, if there's nothing more interesting or useful for the customer, your e-mails will be labeled as spam and deleted without a second thought.

Joanne Scheff Bernstein writes in her book "Arts Marketing Insights,"
"E-mail, like all other marketing tools, requires strategic and creative planning. Sending out an occasional e-mail message or blasting patrons with a series of frequent e-mail promotions when, for example, the organization wants to announce a special program or sell a large number of tickets to a production that has not sold well to date will not sustain interest and loyalty for very long. Each organization should develop an overall plan for e-mail marketing, just as it does for advertising, regular mailings, public relations, and other marketing efforts."
Besides being more personal, what are some of your plans for successful e-mail marketing?

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Lessons in branding from Social Media success and failure

One of the keys to successful branding is finding a niche and being the first in to do something unique in that niche. We've seen this develop in different social media outlets.

MySpace allowed you to personalize your page, and it acted as a great center for musicians and artists to promote their work. Unfortunately,

this was never capitalized on, and with the high risk of being hacked, as well as with the rise of Facebook, MySpace has lost its appeal, much like one of the earlier blogging websites, Xanga, lost its appeal when Blogger and Wordpress came around.

Facebook was a cleaner version of MySpace and included more information options. It focused on relationships, and it was successful.

Twitter made its mark by only allowing 140 characters and by owning the word "tweet" in the consumer's mind. It also brought about new ways of getting information out with hashtags, @ abilities, and mobile options.

Now, Google+ is attempting to do something similar by focusing on the idea of "circles," "sparks," and other unique terms. Google Buzz didn't work because it was too simple, too out of the way, far less convenient than Facebook. It didn't have a point. Google+ seems to offer easier organization of friends, and it offers the extra plus of the ability to edit photos.

Will Google+ succeed? There's no telling right now, as it is in its beginning stages. It definitely seems to offer some things Facebook does not offer. We'll just have to wait and see if it's unique enough to stand out as a first, rather than a rehashing of Facebook and Twitter. It's already had enough of a demand to warrant shutting down invites for the time being.

What are some other firsts in social networking?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

E-mail versus Social Media

Which is more effective? E-mail or social media?

More and more people are saying e-mail is old and not worth using, but Hubspot pointed out in a recent post that the two are good partners in keeping customers active. This is why it is so essential to MAKE CUSTOMERS AWARE OF YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS. In addition to using e-mail newsletters to promote your events and products, use e-mail to promote your accounts. I can't emphasize this enough. And you can always use your social media accounts to promote your e-mail list, as well.

What are the most important elements for a successful e-newsletter?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Tips for best e-newsletter practice

E-mail newsletters are about more than making customers aware of events. You need to personalize them and send them out on a regular basis in order to make them feel genuine and to keep them from making it to the SPAM folder. Use intriguing headlines, but short headlines, and put the most important information "above the fold." Provide features and stories, how-to's, anything that isn't just boring events. Give readers a reason to open the email, and give them an even better reason to read the email and click on its links.

Harmony Wheeler would like to share a passage from Breaking the Fifth Wall: Rethinking Arts Marketing for the 21st Century

"If you're really committed to building a relationship with your patrons, you've got to send them engaging, relevant, and timely information that will grab their attention and bring them closer to your organization. You're going to need to think beyond the common practice of sending "e-mail blasts" that go out at the last minute to drive ticket sales"
Buy now at BN.COM

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Social Media Revolution: Electronics Taking Over How We Do Things

Social media, electronics, the web.... they're taking over how we do things, even for kindergardeners. Watch this video for some thought-provoking statistics. If it doesn't convince you to use social media in your marketing tactics... well, then, you're lost.

Why do you think technology and social media are so popular? How have they changed the way you do business?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Does Advertising Work?

Advertising doesn't work the way it once did. At least that's what most marketing experts tend to say. People don't pay attention, and teens tune out the ads. Newspapers (supposedly dying) don't make as much as they once did on advertising, not even online. Al and Laura Ries (authors of The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding) would say advertising reenforces, but does not guarantee success (which is more likely to come from publicity and word of mouth).

But advertising is finding a new way to get at the younger generation, and, contrary to the majority opinion, advertising is working — at least when it comes to mobile users.

According to Website Magazine,
"Google recently released the results of a smartphone-user survey it conducted... at the end of 2010. Among the key findings was the mobile consumers are particularly responsive to all kinds of advertising. ... More than 70 percent conduct searches on their phones after exposure to an ad... and nearly half of the 5,000 respondents (49 percent) said they'd used their phones to make actual purchases after seeing or hearing an ad."
Your Turn: How much importance and priority do you place on advertising? Is it still effective?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Excitement is key to success

Harmony Wheeler would like to share a passage fromBreaking the Fifth Wall: Rethinking Arts Marketing for the 21st Century

"People connect emotionally with what you do because arts organizations fuel their passions. Approach them with this in mind. Your appeal to get them to sign up should be, "We're so excited about our upcoming events and we want to share this information with you on a regular basis."

Buy now at BN.COM

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

E-mail versus direct mail

Harmony Wheeler would like to share a passage fromBreaking the Fifth Wall: Rethinking Arts Marketing for the 21st Century

"you may find that the direct-mail piece brings in the same amount of revenue as e-mail, but with e-mail your ROI is much higher"

Buy now at BN.COM

Monday, June 13, 2011

Why promoting events is important

Harmony Wheeler would like to share a passage from Breaking the Fifth Wall: Rethinking Arts Marketing for the 21st Century

"Since arts organizations are generally event-driven, it makes sense to dedicate significant resources to tools that can target your marketing effort to reach patrons around your event schedule"

Buy now at BN.COM

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Glenn Beck's successful marketing tactics leading the way

HubSpot has a great article on the brilliant marketing of Glenn Beck's new online TV network.

My thoughts:

I agree completely with the article (plus I love Glenn Beck). I have friends who have been watching his FOX show on YouTube because they don't have the money for Cable, but this may be closer to home for them and more worth their money, especially with the convenience of having it on-demand.

Also - great thoughts on the disappearing gatekeepers. With online content, you can control things yourself - it's just a matter of using the right techniques to make sure you're not lost in the crowd.

Go here to read the full article.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Focusing on current patrons

Harmony Wheeler would like to share a passage fromBreaking the Fifth Wall: Rethinking Arts Marketing for the 21st Century

"Audience-development efforts need to recalibrate and move beyond the laser-beam focus of hunting down new patrons. Instead, what arts marketers should be doing is spending at least as much time and money nurturing existing audiences as they do finding new ones. As an example, arts organizations offer benefits to their donors, such as CDs, tote bags, discounts on gift shops, and the like. Why not use these same tactic"

Buy now at BN.COM

Monday, May 23, 2011

Giving reporters the followup they want

Great tip from David Meerman Scott at Web Ink Now: Reporters are going to be looking for the followup, so be ahead of the game and be prepared to give them a followup.

Meerman Scott writes,

The technique goes like this:

1) Something breaks in the news.

2) Then, everyone wants to put some context around the story. The journalists are looking in real-time to find "the second paragraph."

3) Your job is to instantly get your story or idea out there if you can add to what’s being written and provide that perfect second paragraph.

Read more at Web Ink Now.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Six verbs describing the large scale trends of new media

Kevin Kelly, "senior maverick" of WIRED magazine, gave listener six verbs describing the large scale trends in new media at last month’s Biola Media Conference.

The conference, titled “Beyond Digital: What Matters Now” and held at CBS Studios, focused on the front lines of change and how that impacts a connected world.

Keynote speaker Kelly said the changes in new media can be described in six words: screening, interacting, sharing, flowing, accessing and generating.

Kelly said the screen has become a common denominator, noting that 20 years ago watching a movie on a phone was unthinkable. Thus, Christians are moving toward becoming people of the screen rather than people of the book. Those screens are also becoming more interactive with cameras on both sides of iPads and software that can track where your eyes give the most attention on a website.

“Everything we make have eyes in them,” Kelly said. “They’re looking out. They’re seeing the world, and that means they can understand where they’re being used. They can see the environment in which they’re being used. They can begin to respond in some ways to not just you, but also your environmental context in which you are watching something.”

In addition to having an interactive nature, Kelly said new media encourages sharing through social media.

“There’s a long line of things we’ve begin to share that people said we would never share,” Kelly said. “When you share, you amplify the power. Anything that can be shared will be shared. That’s where we’re going.”

Power and value also comes in different forms today because things being generated are free more often than not, Kelly said, calling the Internet the “world’s largest copying machine.”

Kelly said information today is flowing, or taking the form of streams of information such as what is found in RSS feeds and on Facebook walls. In a world where everything is so accessible, that very accessibility becomes valuable.

“It turns out that if it’s not on Netflix streaming, we’re not watching,” Kelly said. “Why should I buy if I can have instant access? I’m not buying music, I’m subscribing... purchasing access to the entire library.”

Kelly said there is a shift from ownership to access, and the power will be with those who are providing access, not sales. Value comes in things that can’t be copied such as immediacy, personalization, authentication, findability, embodiment, interpretation, accessibility, attention and connection.

What do you find value in as new media progresses? Are sales important? Or are there other things more important for success?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Pros and Cons of SHN Broadway in San Francisco's guess the new season contest

SHN Broadway in San Francisco had a contest to see who could guess the new season. One winner received a free season subscription. They gave four clues, two of them easy, two of them hard. The contest successfully raised hype about the upcoming season. The lack and difficulty of clues, however, as well as the delay in announcing a winner, did not match up with the contest idea when it came to positive marketing. Contests are good ideas, and SHNSF does a great job of interacting with customers on Facebook and Twitter, but as a participant I would have appreciated a personalized email announcing the news season and the winner and pointing me to the website for more information. This is good public relations and it drives sales.

Friday, May 13, 2011

My love-hate relationship with limited video previews of Broadway shows

I know it's a good marketing technique, but I hate that I can't find very much video of new and old Broadway shows. It's all part of equity laws, but it's also a good marketing technique that piques interest and forces the viewer to actually go to the show to see what they want to see.

For example, The Book of Mormon has no video footage of the show available, and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying has made an extremely limited amount of video featuring its star, Daniel Radcliffe, available. Radcliffe, also known in Hollywood for playing Harry Potter, is the main star attraction. People go to the show to see him, regardless of whether the show is any good. There has also been a lot of speculation over whether Radcliffe can actually sing, act and talk with an American accent. Therefore, marketers have made very little video of him available, but at same time they have promoted him and used his name to propel the show's success.

What is a reasonable preview of a product?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Popular airline trends in customer service and marketing and why Copa Airlines does not meet those standards

I returned from The Dominican Republic a little over a week ago, and I was less than satisfied with the customer service, public relations and marketing policies exhibited by Copa Airlines.

With JetBlue and Virgin America airlines offering individual video screens for each customer as well as spacious, leather seats for the cabin class, expectations are high, especially for international flights. Based on my experience with these and Copa Airlines, I decided to put together a list of what I expect from a good airline when it comes to customer comfort and service.

Comfortable seats: Not necessarily leather seats, but roomy and comfortable, nonetheless. Copa's seats were comfortable enough, but were nothing compared to other airlines - even domestic airlines.

Free video for each person: Copa had video, but there was only one screen for every couple of rows, and the videos played were preselected. Grant you, it was free to watch them, but considering that British airlines had individual screens for every person back in 2002, I think Copa has had plenty of time to improve. JetBlue and Virgin America offer a cool map feature that lets you see where your plane is, as well as free TV channels and movie options that are on a constant loop.

Pillows, blankets and headphones: On this count, Copa passes. They made these items freely available and easy to access.

Friendly flight attendants: For the most part, Copa passes, but when I asked for an extension seat belt, the flight attended gave me an unfriendly look that made me feel very inferior and stupid.

Not over overbooking flights: On my return flight from Panama, Copa overbooked the flight by 36 people. I understand overbooking by a few people to guarantee a full flight, but 36 people! That's just ridiculous, poor business dealing.

Not making the customer feel guilty/Not forcing the customer to give up seats: Copa tried to convince my group of 15 people to give up our seats due to the overbooking. They pretty much made it look like they had already taken our seats away, even though we had confirmed seats. They wanted to pressure us into volunteering our seats by making it look like we didn't have seats in the first place. Bad public relations, Copa. Try to make a better impression next time.

Reasonable offers for giving up seats: Copa offered to pay for hotel and food, as well as to give each of us $300 in flight credit for Copa. None of us ever planned on flying Copa again - we don't go to Latin America very often. Plus, $300 isn't even enough to pay for a one way flight with Copa, which only offers expensive international flights. Airlines used to offer free flight credit in exchange for giving up your seat. What happened to those days? And if you're going to overbook by 36 people, you really should be willing to deal with the consequences.

So what's on your list of positive airline relations?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Exclusive rights equals great publicity

Sometimes the best way to get the word out is to gain as much publicity as possible. Other times you can build excitement for your product or service by offering something exclusive to one media outlet.

Take The Book of Mormon musical, for example. The cast recording comes out in June, but the entire recording has been made exclusively available at NPR for your listening pleasure. This has subsequently gained the show publicity for its recording via publications like reporting on the exclusive release.

What's the better route? Aiming for wide publicity? Or offering something exclusive?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

iTunes U: Giving back by putting out information

If you ever doubt the effectiveness of promoting your category by giving your audience relevant information and educating your audience, just look at iTunes University. Apple delivers free content, free educational content, and, consequently, brings in new customers. This is also a great example of referring your audience to other services and companies that can serve them.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Making your "Peeps" feel important

A balanced diet keeps you healthy. A leader that makes employees and other audiences feel special by balancing visiting and speaking at their events and talking to them in person with all his or her work makes for a happy company and happy customers.

It's all about making your "Peeps" (in honor of Easter) feel special.

For example, I attended a reception last week held to honor Biola University athletes. The university president, Barry Corey, attended and gave a short speech. He also hosted a dinner at his home a few weeks ago for campus leaders in Associated Students, Student Missionary Union and The Chimes student newspaper. As news editor of The Chimes, I was honored to attend. I felt very special after the DBC (as we fondly call him) took the time to talk to me personally. Students at Biola are on very good terms with DBC, as well. One student even started a clothing line for him.

How are you making your "Peeps" feel special?

Monday, April 18, 2011

The importance of family entertainment

I used to think of concerts, shows and other programs billed as "family entertainment" as a way of differentiating them from more adult-oriented programs, but having "family entertainment" is more essential to the success of the arts industry than some of us may realize. After all, it's another way to educate the future generations on the importance and excitement of the arts.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Reaching the younger audience... without ads

According to "Arts Marketing Insights" by Joanne Scheff Bernstein, Teens are extremely marketing savvy, "having been exposed to more than 1,200 advertising messages per day."

Therefore, advertising needs repetition for the audience to notice, but because there are so many ads out there, advertising may not be your best route. True awareness likely comes from other sources like publicity and branding.

How do you reach the younger generation aside from ads?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Educating students on the arts

An addendum on yesterday's post:

It may seem like education is a completely different department from marketing or public relations, and, in many cases, it is, but when you educate others for the sake of your product, you are essentially performing marketing and public relations.

The Metropolitan Opera is a great example of this. They have several education programs, and they have taken their HD movie theater broadcasts to junior highs and high schools. I remember watching a behind-the-scenes clip on this when I attended one of their HD broadcasts a few years ago. They had interviews with students who originally thought opera boring, but found themselves more attracted when they saw a giant poster of a beautiful Juliet promoting the "Romeo and Juliet" opera the Met was bringing to their school.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Arts marketing and education cuts

I just started reading "Arts Marketing Insights" by Joanne Scheff Bernstein. I'm finding a lot of interesting tidbits in addition to the larger picture presented by Bernstein, and I want to share some of these marketing tidbits and my thoughts on them over the future weeks as I read this book. Here's the first:
"The lack of arts education in the schools in recent decades has created at least one generation of young adults who feel that the arts are not for them, that the arts are elitist and something not easily accessed or appreciated." (page 13)
Educational program cuts seems to be an increasingly controversial topic, and here we find its consequence in the arts industry. Younger people don't feel like they can be a part of the arts because they don't spend as much time around the arts as they grow up. The media portrays the arts like opera as a high and mighty thing not to be shared with the casual, average people.

The problem presents arts marketers with new opportunities, however. It is our job to fill the gaps left by a lack of arts education. Thus, many arts organizations are offering new educational opportunities to parents, schools and their children. Some companies are also focusing on reaching out to the more casual person who would not dress up for a concert.

It's time to adapt.

How are you adapting to the modern trends? How can marketers educate and reach a younger audience?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Brilliant marketing tweets to learn from

HubSpot had an interesting post today on "12 Awesome Tweets to Inspire Marketing Transformation." Here's just a taste (some of my favorites) of the thought-provoking, under 140 characters tweets:
Being in the Yellow Book is like advertising in a book... that is closed most of the time. #transform (via @stacieverbic)

Good marketers have a social media presence, not a resume. A sweet blog is more telling than a degree. #transform (via @RachelGettingIt)

Don't be pushy. "Buy, buy, buy" will result in "bye, bye, bye." #transform (via @elumic)

No time to create content = no time to make money. #transform (via @lightbodymedia)

If Google can't find you, neither can prospective customers. #transform (via @seibways)

What do you think of these tweets? Are they accurate? What are some of the more interesting marketing tweets you've seen?

Monday, March 28, 2011

The customer is always right

I had a bad experience at Carl's Jr yesterday. Just goes to show that the customer is always right. Read the letter I wrote to them below:

To whom it may concern:

My name is Harmony Wheeler. On Sunday, March 27 around 4:30 p.m., I went to the Carl's JR on Rosecrans Ave in La Mirada, CA. I ordered a 20 piece chicken strip box, a 5 piece chicken strip, and a large fry.

I had more than enough money on my debit and credit cards to pay for the meals. The store's credit machine "server" went out, however. It appeared that I was the first this happened to, since they gave me no warning and at first made it out to be my fault until they tested several cards and realized it was the machine's fault.

I told the worker I didn't have enough cash to pay. After he talked to his supervisor, he said I would have to give the food back. After I complained (pointing out that they would only throw the food away if they took it back, that it was not my fault or my card's fault that the credit machine was not working, that I was the first it happened to and thus they owed me an apology and the food I ordered, and that they could easily tell everyone after me that the credit card machine was not working and avoid further incidences) they insisted I give at least $10 for the meal. I did not have that much. I searched my wallet and found 7 one dollar bills. They eventually accepted my $7, cleaning me out for what I had. The whole of it took at least 15 minutes, if not more. On top of this, they made me feel guilty in front of my friend who was with me.

I am a public relations professional, and I know what good and bad service is. The customer is always right. When you're in the wrong, give the customer their food for free without fighting or cleaning their wallets out. I was very offended by the poor service offered at this Carl's JR. That particular Carl's JR has lost my business forever. Carl's JR as a whole will not see my business for a while.

I hope you will take this complaint into consideration. I do not know what other Carl's JRs are like, but if this happens to others, I'm sure you will lose their business, as well.

Thank you for your time. I'm sure that Carl's JR as a whole has better public relations than this one restaurant has.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Seth Godin's Seven Questions to Think About

A good reminder of the need to be flexible and nonjudgmental in work - Here are Seven Questions for Leaders to think about from Seth Godin's blog:
  • Do you let the facts get in the way of a good story?
  • What do you do with people who disagree with you... do you call them names in order to shut them down?
  • Are you open to multiple points of view or you demand compliance and uniformity?
  • How often are you able to change your position?
  • If someone else can get us there faster, are you willing to let them?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Public Relations versus Marketing Part 2: Every job creates an impression

In the past, marketing focused on sales and public relations focused on internal and external publics. Marketing focused on one-way outbound communication of a message promoting sales. Public Relations focused on inbound and two-way communication, or interaction with publics, working to find out what the audience wants and finding ways to give it to them.

But today I tend to look at marketing as an overarching theme for sales, which focuses on the product, and public relations, which focuses on relationships. In fact, many sales and marketing professionals are finding that people are demanding that they be put before the product. Thus, many sales people/marketers are spending more time producing information unrelated to their products than they are spending promoting their products.

When you think about it, public relations has a part in every person’s life and in every person’s job, including that of the marketer, sales person, or advertisement manager. Every interaction, every ad creates an impression. While public relations can be used to promote sales, it can escape sales. Sales, however, cannot escape public relations. Marketing is the art of impressions.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Public Relations versus Marketing Part 1: Integrated Communications

My understanding of public relations is a constantly expanding and changing one, especially in light of what the profession is compared to Marketing, Advertising and other similar communication professions. In many ways, all these elements have been integrated. Biola’s University Communications and Marketing is one example of integrated marketing and public relations. They don’t even call it public relations. UCM has an event planner, a media relations person and a group of professionals overseeing various Biola publications including the Biola website and Biola’s social media efforts.

My recent internship with Sierra Repertory is another example of integrated communications. I worked under a one-person marketing department. My supervisor performed all the duties of the typical public relations professional and more, yet she was given the title of Marketing Director. Maybe this is just a misunderstanding of what marketing is, or maybe marketing and public relations are more alike than we realize.

Are marketing and public relations similar? The same? Integrated? What's your take?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Successful businesses use social networking sites, study finds

From the Boston Herald:
A new study from the University of Massachusetts’ Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research finds that the top thriving companies nationwide are rapidly turning to social networking sites, relying on them as a marketing tool that is no longer considered a nuisance — but a virtue — in the workplace.
Read more at the Boston Herald.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Convince yourself and your boss of the success of mobile strategies

If you're having trouble convincing your bosses to go for a mobile marketing strategy, show them this graphic highlighting the many uses of cell phones, the popularity of mobile apps, and the growing market for mobile strategies.

Cell Phone Usage
Via: Online IT Degree

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Branding with an extra layer of love: Delicious Girl Scouts cookies

I bought some Girl Scouts thin mint cookies the other day. They were delicious. Not any different in flavor from the store-bought chocolate mint cookies or the healthy version my mom buys, but far more delicious.

Why are Girl Scouts cookies so much better than store bought cookies? Remember when your mom used to make you a sandwich with an "extra layer of love"? I do. The Girl Scouts brand, not to mention the cute young girls who sell the cookies, give the Girl Scouts cookies that extra layer of love.

Girl Scouts has built a name for themselves. Everyone knows who they are - far more than they know about the Boys & Girls Club of America. Not only has Girl Scouts branded themselves with that memorable green logo and publicized themselves through their contributions to the children
of the world, but they have also put their name into the mind of every cookie lover in America. That's successful branding for you.

I could ask you what you've done to successfully brand your company, but I think I'll just ask the fun question: What's your favorite Girl Scouts cookie?

P.S. Mine is Thin Mint