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Keyword: ‘branding’

Shrimpin’ Ain’t Easy: What we can learn from Minor League baseball branding

November 4th, 2016
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It’s the morning of game seven of the World Series, and two of the longest droughts in Major League baseball history are hanging in the balance. Social media across the city of Jacksonville, Florida is lit up, talking about nothing but baseball.

… and shellfish.

On the morning of the historic game that ended the Chicago Cubs 108-year drought, Jacksonville, Florida’s minor league baseball team swept in and stole the news cycle with a re-branding from the Jacksonville Suns, to the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp.

 

There he is, in all of his muscular glory. Bustin’ out the pot, and ready to play some baseball while viciously guarding the state of Florida. The shrimp that boiled the waters (wink) in the “Bold New City of the South.” 

For better or for worse, people flipped out. Whether it was praise or backlash, everyone was talking about a team that won’t have its first game for six months. 

 

Twitter went to work doing the marketing team’s job for them, even coming up with gold taglines like, “Shrimpin’ ain’t easy,” and promoting George Costanza to Assistant to the Traveling Secretary.

Fans dreamed about the delicious possibilities a Shrimp and (Montgomery) Biscuits matchup could bring and wondered if mascot dog Southpaw would have his name changed to “Grits.”

 

Soon this was even garnering national news thanks to the uproar, with Fox NewsNPR and Deadspin all writing pun-filled articles about the change and social media frenzy surrounding it.

So what can we learn about branding initiatives from this minor league mayhem?

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Social Media 101: Branding for the PR-impaired marketer

March 21st, 2014
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After leaving the world of public relations, I dove head-first into the world of marketing. It didn’t take long for me to realize my skill set as a public relations professional made me a different breed of marketer.

For example, while marketing concentrates on product placement, public relations focuses on building relationships.

Using basic public relations tactics can strengthen your marketing campaigns by reinforcing brand identity, expanding your customer base and creating an integrated customer experience.

To do this, you must master social media and understand how to use it effectively.

For the late adopters, you no longer can afford to ignore social media.

Consider that an Infosys study recently found consumers are 38% more likely to interact with retailers’ Facebook pages than their websites. Smart marketers are creating brand consistency by putting as much thought into their social media campaigns as they do on their websites.

But before you start tweeting and posting updates, keep in mind that all social media was not created equal. Knowing how to use the different platforms is going to give you an edge over your competitors and strengthen your brand identity.

 

Facebook is a place for conversations

Facebook encourages interaction between users. Communication consists of comments, likes and shares. The feedback that you get on this platform creates an interactive conversation with your audience.

When you post content that isn’t generating feedback, you’re not creating conversations. Instead, you’re creating noise and this will make the content you post irrelevant in the eyes of your audience.

If your Facebook page has low interaction, take another look at the value of the content you’re posting and who your audience is. Also, keep demographics in mind to help keep content relevant.

Let’s not forget that in order to have a conversation, you need to respond to the feedback of your audience. The easiest way of doing this is by replying to their comments.

 

Twitter allows you to network

Because Twitter feeds are constantly updated with a mosaic of content ranging from information to entertainment, there’s something for everyone. Tweets are similar to a stream of consciousness.

Start by searching for content that interests you. The search results will include people who use those keywords in their handles and hashtags. Follow, favorite and retweet to start building an audience.

Twitter is a great tool for connecting with people and organizations in an open environment. If you want your tweets to be found by your audience, use strategic hashtags.

If enough people interact with a hashtag, it starts trending and gets displayed on the main Twitter page. Businesses also have the option to pay for promoted tweets.

 

The key to Twitter is personal interaction. It humanizes brands. An excellent example of this is @TacoBell. The sassy account has 1.1 million followers and constantly interacts with fans.

 

Blogs put you in control

The really fantastic aspect about blogs is that you don’t have to pitch your story to the media. By eliminating the middle man, you decide what gets published, when and how.

Because the featured content is your own, you’re in control. But with that control, comes a whole new set of challenges and demands to successfully build an audience of advocates.

A strategic blog should include content that informs, entertains and reinforces your value proposition.

Blogging includes the ability to engage in storytelling. While websites sell products, your blog sells your brand. By brand, I mean the “perception” that your customers have of you.

starbucks-newsroom-page

You can do this by featuring content that personalizes experiences with your product or company. For example, Starbucks uses its blog to publish content ranging from event recaps to letters from CEO Howard Schultz.

Stay relevant by planning out your blog posts and publishing consistently. A blog that is not updated consistently is wasted potential. Followers want to regularly consume information and if you don’t provide it, another blog will.

 

Putting it all together

When Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo rescued a panther cub, it did a fantastic job letting everyone know about it.

tampa-lowry-park-panther

 

The picture the team at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo featured on their Facebook page received 1,313 likes and 137 shares, but they didn’t stop there. They also tweeted a video and posted mini press releases on their website.

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Personal Branding: 3 tips for personal SEO

June 22nd, 2012
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If someone were to enter your name into Google, what results would they find?

Establishing your personal brand online has become increasingly important, as more HR professionals and hiring managers turn to search engines for information on applicants. Some reports indicate upward of 90% of recruiters regularly research candidates on Google.

Moreover, realize that your competition has already taken action to improve their search engine results. According to ExecuNet’s 2012 Executive Job Market Intelligence Report, 67% of executives have actively worked to become more visible online.

These executives are working on their results, but what about you? In a best case scenario, you will earn a few results on one of the top search engine result pages (SERPs). Worst case scenario? You find that you share a name with a slew of more established, accomplished and published people — at least according to Google results.

So, what can you do to improve your search engine results? Here are three tips for boosting the search ranking of your name.

  Read more…

Naming and Branding: How marketing pros chose names for their own companies

September 22nd, 2011
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Photo credit: NatalieMaynor

I’m horrible at naming. As a writer, this is one of my least favorite projects.

First, you have to create a string of words/syllables that have never existed before. Then, you have to make sure that, well, it truly never existed before and you can legally get the name (and, as the Barenaked Ladies so wisely sang, “It’s all been done.”) Lastly, you want to secure that Park Avenue address of the Internet – a “.com” address.

Whew.

And unlike the perfect headline that just sounds like music to my ears (even years later), by the end of the entire process, I find myself saying random syllables over and over so much that they all just start to sound kind of weird.

Yet, a good name can make be a huge ally to all of your future marketing endeavors. I’ve always loved ICQ, an early instant messaging client, because it gave you a real sense for what the product did. HotelTonight is another great one, and the subject of David Kirkpatrick’s product launch article in today’s MarketingSherpa consumer marketing newsletter. Get a hotel … tonight.

But if you’re engaged in your own product launches, you flat out need a good name. So I asked a few marketing pros for the origin stories behind their own names, and what lessons they learned in the process to help you the next time you have to, gulp, name that product or company … Read more…

Personal Branding: The five elements of being seen as a thought leader through crowdsourcing

December 10th, 2010
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It’s the most wonderful time of the year…that is, unless you’re trying to minimize the amount of extra work you need to do before the calendar flips to 2011. Every December, my inbox lights up like Rockefeller Center, filled with email and social media requests from various publications asking me to submit my thoughts about the year that’s ending, and the one yet to come.

These crowdsourcing efforts are a great opportunity for so-called “personal branding” and “thought leadership” for the average marketer. But as much as I’d love to share my ideas with every one of these outlets, like many of you, I simply don’t have the time to do so. So when I do take the time, I want to make sure my ideas get picked. But what stands out?

How to grab attention

Well this year I have a unique perspective on the topic because I’m sitting on the other side of the submission form as well – I’m editing MarketingSherpa’s 2011 Wisdom Report. If you’re not familiar with our Wisdom Report, it’s a little New Year’s gift we distribute free to our audience of 237,000 readers. You can take a look at last year’s Wisdom Report for real-life stories and lessons from 70 of your fellow client- and agency-side marketers to see what I’m talking about.

Based on this experience, I’ve discovered an area that I’ve gained significant wisdom in – crafting a successful crowdsourcing submission. So if you do take the time to share your knowledge, it’s worth your while. (Some of this might apply to you public relations folks as you pitch media outlets as well.) And if you’d like to share your wisdom with our audience, I’m all ears.

1. Sometimes, simpler is better.

As much as we love to hear results, it’s not necessary to provide us your company’s bottom line or a three-part novella in order to have your entry published in the Wisdom Report. Sometimes, the simplest, most concise entry can evoke more inspiration than reams of positive results. Below are two of our favorites from the 2010 Wisdom Report (and based on feedback we received, they were among your favorites, as well):

“Consistently recognize the individual efforts of team members. Be specific. Be appreciative. Especially this year – when budgets are tight, tensions are high, and pay raises but a dream – affirmation and acknowledgement becomes even more meaningful. Making it a point to do this can positively alter the culture of an organization. I’ve seen it happen!”

And of course, there’s always the “Golden Rule”:

“Never undermine people who are working for/with you, and who you are working for…”

If that doesn’t qualify as universal wisdom, I’m not sure what does.

2. Be honest. Be yourself. Be real.

A trite platitude? Perhaps. But not all platitudes are without value. Each year, the Wisdom Report provides a forum for marketers to speak candidly about both successes and failures, explaining how their outcomes become lessons – lessons that provide a basis for future planning and a better understanding of their respective situations.

And, with the country still struggling within a tough economy, there are undoubtedly many of you who were forced to find new ways and means to stay afloat – and stay profitable – in 2010. You’re not alone.

As much as necessity is the mother of invention, our recent economic struggles have to be considered the mother of innovation – innovation that drove you to maximize limited marketing budgets, test new ideas and hopefully, create new opportunities to build upon for future success.

In short, the most successful Wisdom Report submissions are the ones that put aside the usual posturing and marketing-speak, and replace them with honest reflection to be shared with your peers.

~~~~~~~

As mentioned earlier, with each year that we publish the Wisdom Report, we also receive an increasing number of entries that deviate from our intended focus. These “rogue” entrants often choose to entertain more than enlighten, and promote more than they inspire. Because of this, they also don’t get in.

Let’s discuss what not to do when composing your 2011 Wisdom Report entry.

3. Laughter isn’t always the best medicine…especially when the medicine isn’t funny in the first place.

I think we all know, whenever you post an online entry form, you run the risk of a few attention-starved individuals (or bots) trying to garner a few seconds in the spotlight.  Sometimes these submissions can be amusing. Sometimes, they even contain a modicum of relevance to the topic at hand. But most of the time, Web-trolling Shecky Greenes provide entries more akin to this 2009 slice of hilarity:

“You can tune a piano, but you can’t tuna fish.”
— H. Jass, (company and location unknown)

First off, this is a family publication, so I’ll just let you figure out what the “H” in this person’s name actually represents. But more importantly, this one-liner wouldn’t sound right coming out of my crazy uncle’s mouth, much less that of a respected marketer.  This is more an example of failed spam filter than it is a legitimate submission.  But, as you’ll see, humor doesn’t quite get the job done in the following entry, either:

If it ain’t broke, you probably haven’t tested it in Outlook or Internet Explorer yet.”

Yes, this is a more intelligent, amusing entry than the one above. But it’s still not exactly “wisdom,” now is it? Since our website and publications reach a fairly targeted audience, it’s safe to assume that this person isn’t just an Internet wise guy, but more likely a marketer who believed that this humor would somehow fit right alongside submissions from our focused, business-minded reader population.

Had this entry been accompanied by an anecdote explaining how his/her company saved money in a tough economy by eschewing enterprise software for open source offerings, then the quote isn’t only amusing, but also relevant to a broader audience.

4. Proofreading proves wisdom.

One thing that remains great about the Wisdom Report each year is how it allows marketers to represent themselves, and their companies, in their own words, rather than through homogenized “marketing-speak.” This is why it’s so important to spend a few minutes reviewing your submission, rather than quickly hammering out an entry replete with typos, grammatical errors and other mistakes that could possibly present you in a less-than-flattering light.

Note that we only edit submissions for simple errors. If a submission is written in a way that makes it difficult to decipher, we simply don’t use it, even if it contains a wealth of valuable information underneath the typos. It’s not feasible for us to contact you for clarification, nor do we publish inaccurate, error-filled copy.

Bottom line – a few extra minutes with a red pen could garner your words – and possibly, your company – some very valuable exposure with our readership. Don’t let your haste turn into our waste.

One example of this is an excerpt from last year’s Wisdom Report:

“Ranking Ranking..I want our site to be ranked number 1..” Sounds familiar ? From your clients ? Or from your management ? Many site owners fall into this, even till the extend of entering keywords they feel they should be ranked the number 1 spot which they haven’t. And they could rant on and on with ever debates on keyword rankings. Without even realizing does the ranking actually correlate to targeted traffic and eventually successful conversions which relates back to the overall business goals and objectives…”

As you can see, this person clearly had a number of thoughts about SEO and search marketing. But, while the “stream of consciousness” tone gives this entry a sense of enthusiasm, it was simply too grammatically poor to enter as-is.

Because of the inherent value in this person’s complete submission, we chose to edit and use it in the book. But, once we begin rewriting a submission for grammar and punctuation, it can no longer truly be considered “in your own words” – which simply isn’t in line with the spirit of this publication.

5. Show, don’t tell. And no matter what, please don’t sell.

I can already hear the uproar – “How are we supposed to discuss our successes without promoting our [companies/products/brands/taglines/other]???”

Simple.  Tell us a story that has universal value – value that can be applied across tactics, industries, borders and cultures. Tell us what worked and what didn’t. Tell us about creative new risks or your back-to-basics approach.  Don’t just tell us that you’re even more amazing than you already were – tell us why and how you’ve improved.

Once more with feeling, from the 2010 Wisdom Report:

“My embroidery and logowear business, [company name], is one of only a few in our industry to find success using a Web-based model, and I’m convinced it’s because we’ve been able to take our key differentiators — including exceptional customer service — and effectively communicate them to an online audience…”

The above is the (submitted) opening line from one of last year’s contributors. At its core, this is a very strong sentence that serves to introduce a solid anecdote about simplicity in Web design and online forms. The problem is that in order to get to that solid anecdote, you had to endure a) the company name and target market, b) a self-serving statement about the company’s superiority in its space, and c) a thinly-veiled pat on the back.

It’s not that the company doesn’t deserve accolades. It’s that only after the reader gets past this boilerplate copy does the submission demonstrate its true value. And, following some extensive details, we read:

“Conversions increased 49 percent with the new form, cementing for us the idea that people want to do business with people, not with Web sites.”

This simple statement offers us a concrete metric, and more importantly, a statement about how this new tactic led to a valuable lesson that is applicable beyond this specific business.

I think you get the point.

We’re sure you’ve got a great story to tell that will help make us all better marketers in 2011. And we look forward to reading them.

Related resources

Submit your 2011 Wisdom Report entry

2010 MarketingSherpa Wisdom Report

Public Relations: The best press release is no press release

Multichannel Branding and Testing

August 19th, 2010
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Multichannel marketing strategies can be powerful sales and awareness drivers, but they can present challenges to maintaining consistent brand messaging and sales performance.

The marketers at luxury jewelry brand Scott Kay, for example, reach audiences through several offline and online channels, including:
o Website
o Email
o Radio
o Outdoor
o Direct mail
o Retail partnerships

Marketing through so many channels complicates achieving continuously improving results, says Dan Scott, CMO, Scott Kay.

“There is no single silver bullet or one structure or one formula in multichannel marketing that will work,” Scott says. “There has to be assessment and reassessment each year of how the campaigns were structured, if they worked properly and what we can do better.”

Here are two tactics the team uses:

– Test the waters

Scott’s team tests multichannel messages and materials in a small group of retailers and focus groups before releasing them in a broader market. If results are positive, the campaigns are broadened to 10 select markets. From there, the team may adjust the messaging in specific markets to improve resonance and response.

“If in a six-month period the metrics are not performing as forecasted, then we’ll make additional changes,” Scott says.

– Establish checks and balances

The team also uses a system of checks and balances to ensure marketing messages are consistent across channels. For example, the team requires Scott Kay’s retail partners to sign a compliance agreement before selling its products. Part of that agreement requires retailers to submit marketing campaign materials for Scott Kay’s approval.

For example, one retailer wanted to invest heavily in marketing its Scott Kay collection in nearby movie theaters.

“We had to respectfully reject that,” Scott says. “The basis being that the audience was too widespread, too difficult to quantify and the environment too pedestrian for the luxury brand that we represent.”

Branding Lesson: There’s a Right Way to Boil a Frog

July 30th, 2008
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Mr. Phinney was a genuinely nice science teacher in my high school. He liked to relax and chat casually with students while not in class. Like many science enthusiasts, Mr. Phinney (or occasionally Phinn-dog) knew a lot of strange things about the world.

Read more…

SherpaBlog: Branding vs A/B Testing

June 9th, 2008
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I’ve worked for brand-driven companies and for A/B test-driven companies. Each was equally snooty and disdainful of the other.

To summarize, brand marketers thought A/B testers were pointy-headed geeks, while A/B testers thought brand marketers were bubble-headed blondes. Luckily, the twain didn’t often meet … until now.

Instead of relying on “fuzzy” data from focus groups, awareness studies and Nielsen ratings, brand marketers now are inundated with detailed numbers from every campaign that touches the Web, email or mobile in some way. Once you have numbers, testing to improve results is the logical next step.

As for A/B testers, the plethora of cheap, do-it-yourself online response vehicles has lowered the barriers to competition. Now anyone can launch a direct response campaign to your marketplace without first investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in printing, postage, fulfillment and media costs. Suddenly, a strong brand is the only safe harbor to launch your merchant ships from.

In practical terms, this means political battles are beginning to rage in marketing departments across America. Whichever side you’re on — brand vs A/B — someone else on your team is evangelizing the other direction as the best way to beat the recession.

Who’s right and who’s wrong? Hate to say it, especially as a chief proponent of measurement in marketing, but brand should always win.

Brand is so critical, in fact, that every company must assign a Chief Brand Evangelist who has *veto power* over any and all proposed A/B test ideas. Test all you want, but never test outside of brand guidelines … unless you are considering changing your entire brand positioning as a result and the CEO has been brought into the picture.

It’s that serious.

You see, I’ve worked for A/B testing companies and brand-driven companies. The brand-driven companies could sell almost anything within their brand far more easily than the testing companies could. The brand’s fans would line up to buy anything that brand had going. You could A/B test your brains out from here to kingdom come, but all those incremental gains year after year would never add up to the sole selling power of a strong brand.

Of course, the gold is having a strong brand with a team that’s able to A/B test, within guidelines, to improve results for it. That’s a company worth investing in.

Twitter Is All About Branding and Customer Service

May 20th, 2008
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I think it’s safe to say that Twitter-mania has arrived. In every other interview I do, someone mentions Twitter. Doing a keyword search for “Twitter” in my RSS reader, I found thousands of blog posts about it.

But how does this micro-blogging site help marketers and PR professionals?

Read more…

Treat Rebranding Like a Product Launch

May 6th, 2008
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Marketers often face skepticism within their companies when they embark on a new brand launch or corporate rebranding effort. Non-marketing types, particularly engineers, tend to think of branding as one of those fuzzy, feel-good exercises that don’t really have an impact on their jobs.

So, I was intrigued by a unique approach to this problem adopted by the marketing team at NetApp, which recently unveiled a new brand identity. (You can read more about this project in our Sherpa Case Study,(here).

Read more…