Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Three keys to more innovative marketing: The case of Prince

1) Think Outside the Box:
To have innovative marketing, you must think outside the box, putting aside old ways of doing things.  This means tried and true marketing tactics need to be put aside so that better and bolder tactics can cut through the marketing mix.  This places you and your customer ahead of the curve and in a position for huge brand equity.  An example of this is Prince changing his name to an unpronounceable symbol in 1993 in an effort to rebrand himself while distancing himself from his record label.  Prince was the first to do this and it was very memorable - with noticeable effects at retail stores including eye catching signage and supporting ad copy.  Imagine having the only new album with an unpronounceable symbol in the Best Buy or Target flier.  It just makes the brand stand out and the fact that it can’t be pronounced makes it that much more attractive, especially for a product line that is auditory.

2) Don’t be Afraid to Take a Risk: In many ways Prince took a risk rebranding himself with this move, as he could have been the laughing stock of the press, his sales could have tanked, and he could have confused customers thereby diluting his art.  Yet this move was examined by the media and public for years after he did it, and everyone who didn’t know Prince’s brand got to know Prince’s brand as creative, visual, at times bizarre, and always ear pleasing.  Moreover, the move proved to position Prince as an artist in a league of his own, causing curiosity among fans and would-be fans.   As a result Prince’s concert sales, album sales, and other merchandise sales have been in sustained demand.  He regularly sells out arenas at high-ticket prices, is able to negotiate favorable record distribution deals, and maintains full artistic control of all of his work, something very few artists do, and something no artist does like him.  This success is all because his brand never got old, boring, or out of touch with the human experience. 

We all want the freedom to express ourselves, and at times, we all wear psychological masks. We even look at Prince and ask ourselves “am I being innovative enough in everything I do” and “can I risk the status quo”? For marketers in any sector this is a never-ending challenge, but if we take the right risks with an understanding of consumer psychology then we can win the market in our own way just like Prince did.  

3) Stay Organic to Your Brand:
If you have ever felt different or left aside you can emotionally relate to why Prince changed his name.  It is an expression of change and difference, and from a marketing perspective it was exciting to see this change.  For music fans, it was a new and updated version of Prince with many surprises that consumers were curios to be a part of, and so we bought his albums, saw his shows, and watched him on MTV.  As a result his brand became a market of brands.  Yet what he did was organic to his brand because he was always the artists’ artist, and he always spoke in riddles and mystical poetry.  Also, he was clever enough to introduce the market to this symbol on his 1992 “symbol” album cover before he changed his name.  Ironically, that albums first track was titled, “My Name is Prince” which made things even more organic to his brand.  Had he not done this pre-work, or been another artist, the symbol rebranding may not have worked.  However, for the artist once known as an unpronounceable symbol, now known as prince, no one gets confused by his brand, for his notes and names speak beyond words and at times even frustrate us, which seems to make his business only do better.  

Jeremy Swenson, MBA, is an experienced marketer, marketing manager, communicator, sales person, and business analyst/academic.  He has extensive product experience with mortgages, loan/lines, checking accounts, savings accounts, money markets accounts, pay day loans, CDs, property and causality insurance, playing jazz, and even some basic experience auditing employee benefit programs.  Additionally, his background includes federal work experience as a Rural Associate Carrier with the U.S.P.S., and as an Enumerator with the U.S. Census Bureau (Dept. of Commerce) in 2000.  He has been active with the MN AMA since 2009 and serves on the Social Media/Marcom Committee.  You can reach Jeremy at jer.swenson@live.com. 

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Location Campaign: New Initiatives in Mobile Marketing

It was recently discovered that my old cell phone was consumed by a ravenous snow bank near my house. This, of course was found out after purchasing a brand new smart phone in the throes of my frustration and confusion. Even after finding my old cell (though battered and cold) still functioning, it was a lump of coal compared to the visions of bedazzlement and connectivity that my first ever smartphone offered.

I had notions of speed and success on my new phone as I texted, chatted, found directions, checked my Facebook and Twitter, responded asap to emails, and browsed the latest apps.
All from the palm of my hand-and isn’t that what we’ve wanted all along? The world at our fingertips?

Well soon enough we may be getting a lot more from that “world” than ever before. Mobile marketing is continuing to pick up speed as a lucrative and meaningful way of reaching consumers. A statistic from Borrell Associates Inc.’s Local Online Advertising Conference shows that while today mobile represents 15 percent of online advertising, by 2015 it will represent 64 percent of all digital ads. That is a huge growth that brands, retailers and publishers must be aware of-and ready for.

Mobile marketing is unique in that it provides customers with media that is both time and location sensitive, and highly personalized. According to Greg Stuart, the global CEO of the Mobile Marketing Association, “Mobile’s unique selling proposition is the fact that it is personal, pervasive, and leverages proximity.” These three things create incredible brand relevancy and convenience, and therefore a highly persuasive marketing campaign.

The allure of mobile marketing first and foremost lies in it’s personalized nature. Individuality is important to us, as well as our time. That is why this type of marketing can be very successful, as it is often consumer initiated and engages us in a conversation of action and awareness through our ongoing consent. Like Twitter accounts, Facebook friends and other networks, mobile marketing is consumer controlled. We have the very personal choice of letting a business into our everyday lives through the one device many of us carry at all times.

Even though I’m tickled pink by my new phone (quite literally, that’s the color of the case), you soon won’t need a smartphone to enjoy the fruits of mobile marketing initiatives. Now, wireless carrier AT&T is sending location-based mobile marketing messages to its wireless customers, eligible for any phone that receives text messaging.

This is the newest program to really capitalize on location as a form of personalization. AT&T announced this week that they are using a program called ShopAlerts for consenting consumers in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. The ShopAlerts by Placecast and AT&T service is designed to provide consumers with offers, rewards and coupons based on their specific geographic location. The messages are delivered to shoppers who approach a participating retailer’s store or a store selling a brand that is enrolled in the program. This space is called a geo-fence, and AT&T customers can register to receive messages via SMS or online.

This is the first time geofencing has gone mainstream with a carrier in America.

Patrick Moorhead, senior vice president and group management director of mobile platforms at Interpublic Group’s Draftfcb Chicago noted that, “Adding the location trigger to our clients’ messages starts to get us towards this Holy Grail of relevancy and one-to-one communication that has long been the promise of mobile as a marketing channel.”  Location-based promotions can let marketers increase the relevance and worth of their messages, which are indispensable qualities for any marketing campaign. Geo-fencing mobile marketing is likely to catch on like wildfire, and in the meantime hopefully melt all this hungry snow. I’ll keep my coat pockets zipped until then...

Ashley Haugen is a Gustavus Adolphus College alumna. She has had Marketing experience working with such organizations as the LOFT Literary Center, the Gustavus Marketing Department and the Ordway Center for Performing Arts.
Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Approach Your Career or Job Search like a “Black Belt”

I am a 2nd degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and an instructor at a Tae Kwon Do school in Champlin, MN.  I am also the Minnesota State Champion (2009 and 2010) in forms, weapons and sparring for my division.  When people learn this about me, they often ask if I have ever had to use Tae Kwon Do in “real life”.  My answer?  “Everyday”.  No, I haven’t ever been attacked or had to defend myself on the streets (although I hope that I could do so if ever put in that situation).  Instead, I use the mental aspect of Tae Kwon Do to get me through life’s daily attacks on me.  You see, not only is Tae Kwon Do great exercise, this particular sport also teaches important life skills such as courtesy, loyalty, respect, honor, integrity, self control, focus, goal-setting, and perseverance.  These life skills can be particularly helpful in our professional lives since this is where we spend much of our waking hours and encounter situations that can be particularly challenging.  Although there are many parallels between martial arts and one’s career or job search, there are a few that I would like to emphasize here:
1. Set goals and work to achieve them
In my Tae Kwon Do organization, there are 10 belt progressions from white to black. As each student masters the techniques for their ranking belt, they test for the next belt in the series.  In this way, each student sets short term goals (i.e. move to the next belt rank) and long term goals (i.e. become a black belt).  The same should be true for our professional lives.  Make a list of short term and long term goals and the steps needed to achieve them. Establish a timeframe in which you would like to achieve your goals.  As you achieve your goals, continue to set new goals and reflect on all that you have accomplished.

2. Believe that you CAN

In Tae Kwon Do, we break boards in order to demonstrate that our moves are executed correctly and have power.  Some people believe that there is some sort of “trick” to breaking boards but the only trick is to execute the move with the proper technique and state of mind.  If you approach the board believing that you will get hurt, you will stop short of going through the board and it will not break.  Our instructor does not allow us to say the words, “I can’t” in class.  Anyone caught uttering these words will be instructed to do pushups.  This is because negative self talk influences our efforts and the ultimate outcome of the situation.  In our professional lives, if we hesitate in pursuing an opportunity because we are afraid, or we tell ourselves that we “can’t”, we will stop short of reaching our maximum potential.

3. Persevere

There is a woman at our Tae Kwon Do school who was just about to test for her 2nd degree black belt when she was diagnosed with a condition called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD).  She now wears a foot brace and walks with a cane but that did not stop her from continuing to persevere in reaching her goals.  Although she experienced a brief setback, she achieved the rank of 2nd degree black belt and went on to win the World Champ title in the modified abilities ring at the World Championship tournament this summer.  In our professional aspirations, we will undoubtedly experience unexpected setbacks.  However, when we do, we must adjust accordingly and continue to move forward remembering that “A black belt is a white belt that never quit.”
  • Do you have short and long term career goals?  Are they realistic and achievable?  Are they documented so that you can refer back to them?
  • Do you have a positive perspective of your abilities and the opportunities before you?  What do you do when doubt starts to creep in?
  • Have you encountered unexpected challenges that threatened to derail your goals?  How did you handle the situation?

Barrie Berquist is a Category Development Manager at Acosta Sales and Marketing.  She has been a member of the MN AMA since 2007 and is a member of the MarCom Committee where she serves as the Career Insider Blog Project Manager.  She can be reached at barrieberquist@yahoo.com.  You can follow Barrie on Twitter @BEBERQUIST.  

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Industry news without time investment!

In the marketing industry overall, it is always so important to stay up-to-date about the latest technology, emerging campaigns and budding research.  Many times, both the industry and your company rely on you to keep your ear to the pulse. But honestly, who has 4+ hours a day to stay on top of  Charlie Sheen’s meltdowns, Apple’s ipad2 release, your competitors new campaign launch, plus data tracking the exponential growth of social media?

From what I’ve learned though, in order to keep a fast-paced life "in-motion," it takes good resources to stay afloat, especially in the marketing world.  Yet, everyone has their own tools to stay up-to-date about what’s going on.

Looking below, I hope you look into some of the innovative ideas and effective websites suggested by other industry professionals.  Also, please contribute your tips and tricks to saving time, while staying informed.

I subscribe to the  4A's Smartbrief and Smartbrief on leadership. A daily email that combs recent communications and leadership/management news and provides highlights of leading releases, including links to full articles. I also have about 10-15 people on Twitter I follow that are experts in technology, social media and online marketing communications. I review their posts about once or twice a week and often they will have posted a link to relevant studies or articles. Like Smartbrief, it serves as a filter, by experts to great information (Rob Rankin, VP/Director of Brand Development at Clarity Coverdale Fury).

My daily bible to stay up to date is checking Mashable's site from my iPhone app. It's quick and easy. I hop on Hootsuite once in a while if I've more time (Dominic Fong, Senior Project Coordinator at UnitedHealth Group).

I use Google Reader to keep track of all the Marketing/Communications/Advertising blogs that I read. With so many great thought-leaders out there, I have found it is the easiest way for me to go to one place and get all the latest and greatest information from those that I follow (Amanda Broman, Marketing Specialist at UnitedHealth Group).

I look at eMarketer a lot (www.emarketer.com), they have some pretty good blog articles and interesting research studies on online consumer marketing in the areas of social media, search, ecommerce and mobile (Rob McChane, Web Strategist at Aware Web Solutions, Inc.).

From my marketing work at a medical device company, I use RSS feeds to stay current – I have 50+ that I check out, although I don't get time read all of them every day! Topics include medical-related news as well as marketing, advertising, and design. RSS feeds allow me to get quick snippets of info from diverse sources and then I can delve further if an article catches my interest. Some of my favorite blogs/sites are Medical News Today, WSJ Health, Advertising Age, CMO, and TheDieline (Jen Hanson, Marketing and Communications Analyst at MEDRAD Interventional).

Share your time saving tips!

Jennifer Broman is an Assistant Account Executive at Hunt Adkins, a full-service advertising agency in Minneapolis.  Currently, she is serving as the MN AMA Blog Content Manager.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Will you someday be the Chief Customer Officer?

As a marketing professional, you may specialize in brand communication or digital marketing or data-driven metrics or any number of areas.  If you are thinking about your long-term future, however, you may want to consider the alignment of marketing with sales, with customer service operations, with product design and even the overall strategy of your firm.

And for those of you who think expansively and who want climb the corporate ladder, check out a post by Paul Hagen of Forester Research, The rise of the Chief Customer Officer.  

Imagine being the person in charge of overall customer experience, who drives alignment of marketing, sales, service and everything else that touches the customer.  Imagine being the one to ensure close connection between the customers you want to acquire/retain and the strategy of your business.  And yes, this does mean you are a member of the C-suite, the executive team, and in a position to help shape the future of your firm. 

Do I have your attention?

Hagen’s post describes a few great examples, such as the story behind USAA’s decision to establish a Chief Customer Officer, and how Boeing Training & Flight Services saw the CCO role as a way to accelerate business growth by reorganizing around customer focus.

This could be you, but there’s the catch…

In this study the majority of CCO’s were internal hires with significant experience in their firm.  That will change as companies seek to hire established people who have proven their capabilities.  But you need to get the right experiences, and doing the same thing for 10 or 15 years won’t get you there!
  1. Start thinking about customer experience and marketing from the balcony instead of the dance floor.   How does each group seek to add value to customers?  Pay attention to what goes on in all other functions that touch the customer, without seeing them as good-guys and bad-guys because them may not value marketing.
  2. Diversify your career experience.  No, you don’t have to quit your job, but you do have to find projects, assignment or rotations in the different customer facing functions and business units.  Nothing builds your empathy and credibility better than walking a few miles in someone else’s shoes
  3. Pay attention to what makes a difference to customers and business performance.  Most of us get siloed and, at best, only know the ROI of our own business function or unit.  Start looking at the entire picture as if you were the CCO.  And when you have a chance to speak with senior executives, ask about business strategy and the total integration of customer experience. 

Someday you could be the CCO.  And when you get there, don’t forget about me. After all, I may be one of your customers!

Marc Sokol is an organizational psychologist with an eye for how people and teams can be more effective, even in a dysfunctional company. He is part oM Squared Group, a data-driven marketing consultancy.   

Bookmark and Share