Guerrilla marketing is experimental in nature and aggressive. Online marketing can be ‘in your face,’ but that’s just a figurative term. This summer a number of brands have decided to literally get in the face of brand fans, using buses, caravans, and even fire engines to interact with the masses.
A lot of marketing and advertising balances on the notion of bringing the target market to brand properties, whether that is storefronts, websites, social media accounts, etc. This summer, brands such as CBS, the History channel, Sauza tequila, and the Men’s Journal are taking their marketing endeavors on the road, coming directly at consumers.
The brands seek to emulate the behaviors of summer-time consumers, going to events, concerts, outdoor recreational areas, etc. “In these days of digital, high-tech, social media, we can’t forget how important the one-to-one is,” observes the president of CBS Marketing Group division.
CBS is taking part in the festivities via the CBS Buzz Tour, making 60 stops around the nation, promoting programming, giving away freebies, and hosting meet-and-greets with several stars. Some of the stops planned include The Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular, the Comic-Con in San Diego, and the Minnesota State Fair.
As written by Stuart Elliott of the New York Times, the goal of the experimental voyage is to build closer bonds with present and potential consumers.
The offline perspective is great; yet, live moments (as fun-filled as can be) also fade in time. It’s a better idea to elongate experiences and sentiments of consumers through online vehicles, such as social media.
CBS is on it! It will create a hash tag on Twitter so online viewers can trace the location and progress of the road campaign. Additionally, CBS will host an online Web series highlighting Buzz Tour events and interactions.
Another brand is taking its product on the road, but these products are not celebrities, they are Porsche sports cars. Porsche has aligned itself with former-football player, Dhani Jones. Jones will drive the 2013 Porsche Boxster S from New York to Birmingham, Alabama in ten days.
Again, the brands are on top of the off-to-online endeavors. Regular reports are to be hosted on the Porsche Facebook fan page and Porsche website. Additionally, there will be an eight-week Web series on mensjournal.com (Men’s Journal is another sponsor of the event).
I’m interested to trace the final results of these brand-led road trips. The off-to-on dynamic makes sense from a marketing viewpoint. Connecting with people is at the heart of marketing; yet, all brands cant’ interact with customers like a consumer’s local coffee shop can.
However, this summer, some fans will get a live taste of brand interactions, while scores of others can closely track all the live gesticulations through their computer screens, as the brands attempt to recreate and preserve those live sentiments online.
How many of you out there read on a regular basis? In prior generations, the ‘newspaper’ was what most citizens could consider ‘objective’ information. Today, some ‘news’ has changed (oh boy).
Yesterday, the pungent taste of news became more apparent. While enjoying some local festivities, I had a chance to speak with some citizens about their interaction with news sources.
It’s easy to assume something offered by a major company is intellectually credible and not commercially infused. Many people are astonished at the notion of SEO, of optimizing particular information, pushing it toward the ‘top slot’ of offered results.
One particularly bright young lady asked me about the difference in paid and organic listings. I explained a brand could pay a search engine to list its results, and they are labeled and treated as ads.
She then began questioning me about organic listings. I explained how my work, in part, is devoted toward helping brands get ‘ranked’ higher on particular engines, namely Google, the most popular one to date.
“So though you have the talent to write, how do you decide who you ‘help’?”
“Well, I get assigned work, so…”
“So, brands pay your agency to eventually rank?”
“Er, kind of, yes…”
I went on to explain my line of work and that of other online marketers in more detail. But, her immediate grasp got me thinking. Consumers do need to be hesitant about what Google or any search engine serves up. They need to apprehend that information with a grain of salt.
The industry experienced a few tremors from the release of Panda and Penguin. More friends are sure to follow. The ‘need’ to release such ‘fixer-upper’ updates is an insult to the informational integrity of the Web. Google felt like its open information source was looking more like a neglected pile of ‘junk mail’ accumulated from years of ongoing abuse.
Old News as New Business
Another modern-day informational concept came to my attention yesterday. I read an article in the New York Times about the purchase of a San Diegan newspaper, the U-T San Diego. The paper was recently bought by a local developer and hotelier.
What the Times reporter, David Carr, points out is probably on the minds of those who know a little about the new owner, as well as on the minds of more people since reading the article…the new owner has agendas, and just might use a source of ‘objective’ information to support them.
Immediately the new owner is known for being against ‘big’ government, taxes, and gay marriage. Additionally, he wants a new football stadium in the city. While the new owner offers lip service, ["We totally respect the journalistic integrity of our paper and there is a clear line of demarcation between our editorials and our news"] some are wary of this future intentions and use of the U-T to pursue them.
In one incident, a standing U-T sports columnist was opposed to running ‘charged’ stories related to convincing readers of the need for the new stadium. Tim Sullivan was soon dismissed from his position. However, recently the owner has voiced Sullivan’s lot has to do with multimedia integration and not his position on stadium politics. As Carr reports, Sullivan’s Facebook status now reads as “on vacation,” his time with the U-T may not be done afterall.
It’s no new news that old newspaper brands are struggling to keep up with the popularity of online behavior. However, is the new business of the news more like the above search engine dichotomy and less like the old “news”?
These days, what really constitutes organic, objectified news?
I was an eighties kid. Some things indefinitely come to mind in reminiscence. The lovable cartoon-like cereal characters for instance. I mean, some of these characters were hugely influential and unforgettable. (Channels boyhood self) Wait. What? Count Chocula is serving up a free figurine at the bottom of that box of junky goodness? Where do I get my parents to sign!
When I was younger, childhood obesity was not a topic. I ‘m not sure that’s because we had less time to be ‘online,’ break dancing was in, or too many kids started choosing Chocula over arugula one too many times…
Can we pin poor health on the smirking Count? Can we shake Mickey down for hosting sugar-fused foods in-between his segments? Perhaps, but let’s give these innocent figures the benefit. Let’s hire them to change their serendipitously naughty ways and channel that marketing popularity toward healthy foods.
That’s the new Disney plan going into effect and backed by the first lady. As of Tuesday, all advertising on Disney’s child-focused media (radio, television, web) will adhere to stringent, health-conducive regulations.
Wait, Mickey’s no longer ‘boys’ with such characters as the chocolaty fictitious vamp?
The restrictions extend onto some ABC stations within the Disney family. Remember Capri Sun? I sure do…that sweet-tasting liquid nectar. Hm.Hm. It’s no longer applicable to advertise with Mickey and crew. Capri’s gotta talk to the white-gloved hand now, so to speak.
Disney’s health craze also applies to its amusement parks, where the NY Times reports 12-million children’s meals are served annually. Disney states it will improve its food’s ‘health statistics.’ Furthermore, Mickey and the squad are set on convincing kids that the Count is out and carrots are in! (Though more easily stated than practically digested momentarily perhaps.)
As the news story admits, Mickey didn’t become as animated about changing his ways until federal regulators began making proposals to combat ‘childhood obesity.’ Furthermore, it’s not goofy to think Disney may lose some money by shunning advertisers.
On the other hand, the move, while somewhat inspired by regulators, could prove as a sure-handed, long-term strategy to make a good impression on parents, those who get ‘signed up’ for all sorts of Disney-related purchases. However, who is Disney’s market really? (Channel your boy/girlhood self.)
Are kids so willingly going to give up the junk-food, fun-filled cereal boxes? When was the last time Kashi offered a cool figurine or sticker at the bottom of its health-cereal box? Is it Disney’s duty to be more selective about what it shows its target market? Should health-related brands do a better job at getting as charming as Chocula? What are your thoughts?
By now, if you’re reading me, you understand online marketing is marketing in essence. Marketing involves relating to people. People can be creatures of routine; yet, life is not so pragmatic. Exceptions do and will always exist; people are extremely dynamic as well as routine.
How many interests do you have? I’ll assume you have more than one. Imagine if you only had one topic of interest. That’s all you would think, hear, and speak upon? That would be incredibly…vanilla.
Mix up the media. Take advantage of a plethora of tools available in the marketing world. Stop writing (all the time) to convey your brand’s messages. Information is what browsers seek; it doesn’t have to be written information.
When I was a teacher, I had to be diligent in regard to how I presented information to subsets of students. Some people are visual learners; others are audio learners; other people can’t really ‘get’ something until they actively attend to a matter in physical form… Think about the theory of multiple learning styles.
Let’s take a look at some examples:
Here, WebiMax CEO, Ken Wisnefski supplies information through phone interview scenarios. The brand could issue the sentiments in written format; yet, the interview allows users to engage the marketing material via auditory means.
SEOmoz issues a lot of content, much of it written; but, the brand issues video posts on a weekly basis. The audio and video cues offer something different from the purely-textual norm. People have preferences. For instance, I’d rather read text; but, that’s me. Many people rather listen to audio or have it combined with visual cues.
Info-graphics can really make an impact. I see them as ‘business comics.’ Somewhat of an oxymoron, yes; but, you can see how the emphasis on visual cues and the de-emphasis of textual information can make for an intriguing synergy. The Blue Glass brand recently did an info-graphic for Forbes; the graphics really complement the textual information.
Before the info-graphic was born; publishers aligned pictures and text together in comics. ‘Comics’ have an entertainment connotation to them; but, that’s okay. It’s okay to both entertain and educate. Ask any high school teacher. Peter Attia often mixes comics in with his posts. The ‘jokes’ are relevant to his blog’s target market.
Let Someone Else Hold the Pen
Julie Joyce of Link Fish Media recently let me write a copywriting guest post on her brand’s blog. It’s much appreciated and allows my writing and brand to reach more people.
Don’t forget to look for information-suppliers existing outside of your brand. Yes! That’s right. Stop playing the same in-house songs; mix things up a bit. Ask others to guest on your site. It gives your site and browsers a breath of fresh air, which is always championed by people; remember- we are all dynamic! New is often exciting. Dare to be a bit different; or, you can continue to your regularly (boring) scheduled content programming.
I used to write for a business-to-business outfit, providing content on an array of services. Naturally, marketing (on and offline) were amongst the provided services. I recently came across an article penned years ago on customer retention. I think it has “evergreen” sentiments, and though today’s offered online marketing company initiatives are prolific, culminating in SEO, SMO, PPC and other opportunities, I don’t think such processes always “work” as expected (by some SEO and online marketing clients). Some may inquire, “Why? Aren’t you people supposed to get me more exposure and revenue!?”
Does more exposure always equal revenue? I believe online marketers know the answer…as well as business owners who don’t want to hear the honest truth…no. Of course, online marketing and SEO practitioners help businesses, but help those most who have worked to be in a position to help their respective brands establish a core business, one which can deliver quality to consumers.
I read a good post giving a brief history of link building and popular SEO trends. The author ended with an overall-resounding sentiment: Don’t worry (or let clients worry) about algorithm changes and trends (too much); place more emphasis on ensuring service providers and respective clients are doing a number of things well, working hard to deliver a great brand experience to consumers.
I agree with the sentiment; there’s only so much an online marketing company can do outside of the hard work the client’s core business is willing to provide. Practitioners can help give your brand a “shot” at stardom, but ultimately, a brand is weighed and measured by its target market, regardless of ranks, packaging, Web design, 10,000 Twitter followers, 100,000 Facebook friends, etc.
I don’t want to reiterate my thoughts of the past, but I do want to use them to re-present some reminders:
Think Like a Customer
I can’t emphasize this enough; it’s your responsibility to think like a consumer. Would you want to receive email solicitations? Would you want to receive automated Twitter messages after following someone? Would you want to realize the difference between online, organic and paid search results? Would you want to receive text-to-URL prompts? Would you want to feel “tricked,” clicking on a SERP which seemingly contains the information you seek only to be confronted with a poor piece of copy, illustrating very little yet awkwardly stuffed with keywords?
Do onto customers as you would have done unto you (as a consumer). It seems like a very simple, golden rule, but I think it’s easily forgotten or passed over for strict, money-generating desires. Think like a customer; can’t you tell when a brand is making a genuine effort to attract your commerce and when money seems to be the one and only brand motivator? I can.
Who’s Making Decisions?
What kind of content are you providing to consumers? Blog posts? Evergreen articles? DIY videos? Industry-related podcasts? Are you providing something because it’s the latest SEO “trend” or because you feel your consumers will really embrace and champion that kind of informational channel? Do you know what your consumers want? Have you ever asked them? If you found a large majority of consumers do not engage your brand on Facebook or watch your YouTube videos, would you place more energy towards those tactics because competitors are doing it or online marketing industry sentiments champion the idea?
A copywriter wrote a humorous post, which received a lot of traffic but you never asked them to write a future, similar post. Your resource page is the most visited page on your site but you do nothing ongoing to enhance the page. Your target market regularly uses Twitter and Facebook but your company only briefly logs on to those platforms each week.
All these sentiments seem like mistakes which can easily be made and unnoticed by a brand that does not analyze data and make decisions based on facts. Your target market may engage your brand in a completely different way than a direct competitor (for a variety of reasons). Does it make more sense to emulate the online marketing of bigger (better?) competitors or market toward your specific targets?
SEO and online marketing can most definitely help your brand. There are a lot of passionate marketers who want to help your business, but can’t do all the work for a brand. A brand must do the necessary “core” work, staying true to its mission regarding its consumers. Marketers can facilitate a great brand experience but can’t “optimize” the quality of core services, products, and brand-to-consumer dedication. That’s your job.
Thanks for reading.
A lot of major brands are making noise of late. Facebook is expected to release its IPO. Go Daddy changed company heads and its mind. Google penalized itself. Now, Yahoo has made a new pal, Scott Thompson, the president of PayPal, as its chief executive.
Will the move prove savvy for the Internet media company? On the surface, the Yahoo brand does not appear shabby. It hosts 700 million visitors per month; it’s a bastion of online sports, daily news, and finance info; and, financial gurus estimate the brand will report over $1 billion in net profit for 2011. That’s not too bad. However, when you’re up against online titans like the leading search engine, Google, and an intimidating social (and search?) platform in Facebook (outshining Yahoo in ads), you have to expect a lot.
According to comScore stats, Google sites accounted for over 65% of total, core search queries in the US in November of 2011 followed by Yahoo (about 16%). Mr. Thompson was chosen for his “turnaround” reputation; he helped expand PayPal (took over in 2008) to 104 million users (from 50 million) and more than doubled the brand’s revenue ($1.8 to over $4 billion).
What are some plans in store for Yahoo? No finite specifics voiced of yet, but analysts say Yahoo has spread itself too thin, investing resources in technology and original content creation, which is a stark contrast to Google, which does not invest in in-brand content creation. However, analysts think Yahoo, and new pal Thompson, can leverage the brand’s popular email service and the user data collected, to attract advertisers.
It will be interesting to see how Yahoo proceeds in 2012. Thompson believes Yahoo must cater to advertisers and users. This seem like a good decision considering direct revenue stems from the former while the collective voice of the latter can make or break a brand.
Thompson remains optimistic, relaying Yahoo’s waning brand is “fixable,” despite his direct inexperience with online media and advertising. Maybe Thompson and Yahoo’s opportunities will get a boost from external sources; Yahoo may get more than $10 billion for selling its stakes from Alibaba and Softbank.
Maybe Yahoo can make progress through the decadence of its competition. As referenced, Facebook plans to go public early this year. Will it be a mistake, influencing its 800-million-plus users to seek other platforms? It has been understood Facebook’s face man, Mark Zuckerberg, isn’t hosting a happy visage about the IPO. Additionally, while Google continues to serve as master in many ways, users have recently seen some quirks (how many Google SERP listings do we get? and Google+ turning SERPs into a McGoogle drivethru?), and of course ironies, related to the Chrome mishap.