Sunday, June 8, 2014

Brands are the New Patrons

Love that ESPN tapped an artist to illustrate iconic moments from the finals. See more here.

It’s the latest in a number of brand-artist collaborations over the past few months, including Amex’s Everyday Moments series, and the GE InstaWalk series I pointed to earlier. 

The link between art and advertising has always been close. But as “maker” culture grows, and advertisers look to be integrated into the feed, I think we’ll see more and more collaborations between artists and brands. It’s a powerful way for brands to be part of the conversation with authenticity, to provide compelling content that stands out because it’s unique, and for artists to have their creations supported.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Reading Rainbow’s Kickstarter campaign this week soared to $2MM in just two days — setting new records and making the news. The success of this campaign demonstrates what can happen with that magical combination of the right audience (nostalgic, affluent millenials) and the right content (a beloved property and a good cause — something millenials have been shown to care deeply about) on the right platform (trendy Kickstarter). 

While not every brand is lucky enough to be beloved the way Reading Rainbow is, the lesson here is that the sky is the limit if you can align your content/cause with your audience’s motivations and their online behavior. Research and insights have never been more essential — or more powerful — for marketers. Make sure you do your homework before you try to grab a piece of the rainbow for yourself.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A thing I wrote up for my team’s blog. Love this and love these shots.


GE InstaWalk

Seeking fresh and unexpected perspectives, GE invited Instagram photographers to take a GE InstaWalk at a wind farm earlier this month. With exclusive access to GE equipment, the artists created amazing shots that capture some of the awe and wonder of GE’s technology. A great #collab that unites power with beauty and an industry giant with Instagram influencers.

Check out more photos here.

Above: Image one via chrisjxdub . Image two via the_gris.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Modern Marketing: Data Points + Puppies


From Fast Company

Last year on March 27th, more people searched for real estate online than on any other day of the year. Century 21 is looking to take advantage of that this year by adding puppies to the home buy-and-sell extravaganza.

Taking a big data insight and layering on puppies is almost guaranteed to drive lots of squee!-driven shares — and in fact, that’s a bet the brand is making with its entire brand campaign, ”in which clients compare working with a Century 21 agent to being surrounded by puppies.” 

In some ways, data + puppies is the epitome of modern digital marketing — driven by virality and fueled by data and memes. And whether you think Century 21’s end result is dumb (puppies?) or brilliant (puppies!), it’s the approach that matters. Starting with data and an understanding of what users want, finding where it intersects with who you want to be, then developing creative that pays off that vision is the smartest way to approach marketing for today’s web.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Marketing good isn’t actually marketing good, not any more….Second and third order recommendations and word of mouth and the way we talk about the things that are ‘good good’ is the new marketing.

Your initial response rate, newsstand sales or first episode ratings are a measure of old-fashioned marketing prowess. Now, we care an awful lot more about just plain good. Or perhaps, if you really want to make an impact, great.

Seth Godin

I know Seth’s blog can be a little insufferable sometimes, but this quote really resonated for me. Marketing is still vitally important. It can help you find and make a new connection with a customer, or strengthen an existing one, or help everyone see your company in a completely different light, or any number of things that help fuel a business. But with the radical connectivity enabled by technology, there’s no hiding behind it anymore. 

So yes, do that great TV spot, and an innovative social activation, and keep your AdWords account running. To make all that really pay off, though, first you’ve got to make something great, do some good, stay engaged — and always treat your customers well. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Emotion, Reason, and Marketing

Fast Company has a really interesting article on the role of reason vs. emotion in marketing. The argument? Market researchers have been getting it all wrong for years, by placing reason as the primary mode of thinking, rather than emotion:

The most startling truth is we don’t even think our way to logical solutions. We feel our way to reason. Emotions are the substrate, the base layer of neural circuitry underpinning even rational deliberation. Emotions don’t hinder decisions. They constitute the foundation on which they’re made!

I like how this article, and the neuroscience it cites, focuses our attention on a paramount issue that sometimes gets lost in the noise of marketing: building a brand connection. Particularly in the cluttered digital environment, that primary relationship — an emotional one — is as critical to a brand’s success as the attributes of its latest product.

Social adds a unique element to building a brand connection, because, for the first time, it’s a two-way street. Brands can tell their stories, and engage with fans who want to tell theirs. This is connection — and at scale, it’s community. With emotion at the center of consumer behavior, these are powerful things indeed.

The article doesn’t ever refer specifically to social marketing, but if you want to build a strong brand connection in today’s world, it’s clear that social belongs at the heart. I’ll close with another quote from the article that makes the point better than I can (emphasis mine):

The left brain creates an intellectual understanding of “self” and a sense of separation from others. Our right brain creates a feeling of “we,” that wonderful sense of connection with one another and the ineffable awe of living in the moment—the essences of better lives and great brands.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Making and Keeping Promises

I read an interesting article on VentureBeat the other week designed to provide startups with advice about brand-building, but it’s well worth reminding even the biggest brands of this simple truth:

At the core of every great brand is a company’s ability to deliver on the prospect’s expectations — or better yet, exceed those expectations. 

The heart of every brand is its ability to make and keep promises, and marketing is the part of the brand that makes the promises. The article goes on to note that “startups often bake a ‘desired position’ into the brand that strays too far from reality,” but even big brands do this. When there’s too big a gap between the brand position and reality, you get a broken promise.

One of the most interesting things about marketing today is that with the rise of social media and, more broadly speaking, communication networks (e.g. email), broken promises are no longer isolated to one disappointed customer and his/her immediate group. Instead, they are shared, by lots of voices. If promises are broken too badly, and too often, conversation about your brand can get loud and negative. And that can directly influence how other customers feel about you (just ask Papa John’s).

Don’t make promises you can’t keep.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Taking your work live is energizing, invigorating and insanely risky. You give up the legacy of the backlist, the scalability of inventory and the assurance of editing. It’s an entirely different way of being in the world.

Seth Godin

I wrote last week that real time social marketing was having a moment. It’s having another moment right now in the Oscars aftermath. Unlike the Super Bowl, there was no “:Oreo moment.” Many brand tweets fell flat, as Ad Age pointed out — and they also ran a piece on why not every cultural moment deserves a brand response. I don’t disagree with either article, but I thought Seth’s post was a timely reminder of what the stakes are. Thinking and being able to react in real time is risky — but it’s also energizing and invigorating. Not every moment is right for every brand, but when it is, the opportunity is huge. (And it almost goes without saying that day-to-day engagement adds up to huge opportunity over time, too.) On the flip side, sometimes there is a desperate need for restraint: you don’t want your pre-scheduled content or ads blasting out into the world, oblivious, while an unthinkable tragedy unfolds and the social web becomes a forum for shock and grief.

The point is, in today’s world, you have to be there — already living an “entirely different way of being in the world.” That is the essential piece. Make the moves you need to now so you’re ready later (which, of course, will soon be the now).

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Real Time is Right Now

It’s something I’ve been interested in for years, and it’s really having its moment in the sun — real time reaching its real potential in social media. From Oreo, Tide, and others killing it during the Superbowl, to Twitter’s acquisition of social TV company Bluefin Labs to — a favorite example — The Onion hitting new heights thanks to its new focus on real-time/daily publishing, real time is truly having its moment. 

For brands, this means being present and participating in real-time digital culture is becoming less of a luxury, and more of a must-have — a standard, like having a Facebook page and Twitter account. But here’s the thing: It’s not just about being there and saying something — anything. You have to see the opportunities that are right for your brand, and respond in a way that makes sense for you, your users, and what you want to achieve. 

That’s strategy. And a smart social strategy needs to be absolutely ingrained in your team’s thinking if you want to play the real-time game (and spoiler alert: you should). It’s hard work to craft a social strategy that pays off where it needs to, harder still to ensure real-time responses adhere to it. But it’s work that’s worth doing for brands that want to keep up.

Saturday, February 9, 2013
Strategy is five choices,” Lafley said. “What is winning; where am I going to play to win; how am I going to win where I play; where are my core competencies that are going to enable me to win where I play; and what management systems and measures are going to help me execute my strategies?

Business Insider (via khuyi)

Brilliant — and exactly the questions brands need to ask themselves about their digital marketing.