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In a time where advertising is not always glamorized (excluding Super Bowl Sunday, of course) one TV show has helped bring back the industry’s cool factor among the general public.

Mad Men.

And while this show may have led to some interesting conversations about how I spend my day at work (No, we don’t drink whisky and smoke cigars all day. Only in the afternoons.) it has brought a lot of welcomed attention to the industry. The show’s stellar ratings have proven that ad-folk and non-ad-folk alike enjoy reminiscing on the glamor, controversy, and history of the advertising industry.

So when I heard about Newsweek’s Mad Men issue, I was giddy. Not only is the magazine’s cover a throwback to the 1960’s design, but the publication is filled with retro ads. Can you imagine being assigned to create an ad for a brand – and make it in-line with how it would have looked in 1965? Best costume contest ever.

Click over to AdAge to check out 22 pages of retro ads for Bloomingdales, Lincoln, Tide, and more. Plus, you can even vote for your favorite. Which has your pick?

Lake Superior State University (wasn’t this the school in Coach?) has released its list of 12 words/phrases to be banned due to overuse and misuse.

Top of the list? “Amazing.”

Some other favorites (or not so):  shared sacrifice; man cave; baby bump; blowback; the new normal; ginormous. And, “Thank you in advance.”

An amazing list, actually.

Read them for yourself.

The biggest single myth surrounding social media is that it is a replacement in some form for other advertising or marketing channels. Social media destroys traditional linear marketing communications models. At heart, social media is an engagement point that can be started by customer, company, competitor, or onlooker. Anyone.

Online & social media is a two-fold communications addition:

1. An exploratory touchpoint prior to sales

2. A follow-up, referral and word-of-mouth to prospective customers and to enhance repeat purchases

As this chart demonstrates, social media is a new touchpoint. One of research initiated by prospects. It is a new step in the purchase cycle, not replacing any traditional element.

Zealotry actions (referral, reviews and other engagements) are extremely valuable, but they work best as authentic elements within this new stage of exploration.

As soon as Guest Relations Marketing heard of Pinterest, we were hooked. Not only has the majority of our office been Pinning on our personal accounts for months, but we were eager to be an early adopter with one of our clients: Swoozie’s.

The vast majority of Pinterest users are women ages 25-54. Swoozie’s target market? The same.

Perfect. We signed them up.

And while Swoozie’s Pinterest Followers were growing at a strong, steady rate, we knew these numbers could jump significantly. So we came up with a plan.

Using the promotion Pin It to Win It, for one day we focused on a single retail item: a pink, plastic tumbler. We Pinned the tumbler along with the message that one lucky Repinner would win it. The Pinning ensued. With each Repin that was made – an entirely new network of Pinners was exposed to the image.

By incorporating this promotion in Swoozie’s e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter communications, word spread fast. By the end of the day, not only had the tumbler received 143 Repins, but Swoozie’s had gained more than 100 new Followers and Pinterest was officially Swoozie’s third highest referring website.

Considering 6 months ago nobody knew what Pinterest was – these numbers are simply remarkable.

Have you joined Pinterest yet? Send me an email and I’ll gladly invite you to your new addiction.

A key component of Groupon’s business model is the use of “creative copy” in their offers. They employ a staff of creative writers whose purpose is not simply to inform readers of the offer, but entertain them. They believe this establishes brand personality and separates them from the myriad other offers out there.

But when, exactly, does clever twists of words actually hinder the reader’s effort to discern the interest and value? Groupon’s return rate and other usage numbers are not stellar. Perhaps one reason is that they have misplaced where they are in the communication spectrum.   

Coupons that work best are focused on value, not creating some derivative of brand experience. Clever copy can get in the way, especially when you have me click through to the moment of truth. The deal is promoted as $X, with a value of $Y. A click-through logically suggests an answer to the value equation of Y – X. When verbose and garrulous explanations follow, it becomes tedious for the reader.

The art of good copy, especially in the Twitter world of today, is short, to the point and plain-speaking.

After all, you have them at the cash register. What is the saying? Make the sale and shut up!

From the continuing series, What is Zealotry Marketing

Guest Relations Marketing has become known for three things: Zealotry Marketing; brand restage; social media programs. These seemingly unconnected concepts actually connect nicely for successful brands.

Almost always, the starting point with a prospect introduction or a new client is one of two things: either they have a fundamental change in the business (new product line; acquisition; new sales territory) or sales have stagnated.

Either way, the discussion always leads back one of target definition. The root issue is always about identifying and accurately defining the correct target. In our worldview, Zealots are the top priority for targeting any change in marketing approach. Why? They are already receptive and a fervent supporter of the brand. It is logical (and empirical) that they are going to be most likely to embrace any new direction or offering. And, they have a track record of helping get the word out – create organic referral.

Typically, in aligning messaging and core value points against referral, it becomes apparent that some partial or full brand restage needs to take place.  Thus, the connection of “Zealotry Marketing” with brand restage – the need to get messaging right and consistent to leverage the impact of your most passionate followers – your Zealots!

Social media? It is where the Zealots play. Social Media is the media of referral.

Zealots = long-term brand profitability.
Brand restage = alignment to Zealotry messaging and values.
Social media = Zealotry (referral) media.

Next issue – we expose the myth of social media.

We’ll be the first to admit – we love to talk. Bring up one of our clients and we can go on for hours. Their products, their services, their engagement… we’re our clients’ biggest advocates. We’re their Zealots.

But when it comes to sharing a brand’s story with its customers, long-winded body copy is rarely the most effective method of communication. A well-shot visual, however, will instantly bring that story to life.

Let’s look at Atlantic Capital Bank. These bankers don’t simply sit behind a desk. They bring their services to their clients in their place of business. So when we decided to photograph the bank employees at work – we took the camera to the construction field. To the law firm. To the front porch.

This photo shoot has turned into a continuing series with real Atlantic Capital Bank employees and real Atlantic Capital Bank clients. And has also resulted in a good-spirited argument over who will get to be featured in the next photo shoot. Like we said, we love to talk. But more importantly, we love telling a good story. And in this instance, we do it without uttering a word.

Click here to check out the images for yourself.

The Super Bowl is a unique experience in the marketing business. It is one of the very few events that that the audience actually welcomes a commercial interruption.

Most of the time, anyway. What works and what doesn’t?

It’s a social event. So, the audience wants to be entertained. No, they really aren’t interested in your selling message. Why some of the so-called favorite Super Bowl ads are not well-remembered. But, the vast majority have one thing in common – they are comedic in theme. This is a double-edged sword, as those that are rated the worst tend to be humor-based ads that simply miss the mark. So, you not only need to be funny. But good funny.

Advertisers are playing in the Super Bowl. Best game. Biggest audience of the year. Biggest name advertisers. Most expensive placement. And, the winning ads recognize all this and go all out in production. You are not being seen in a normal television program. The costs are high. Why would an advertiser pay the media costs and not put equal emphasis on creativity and production values? The winning advertisers do such.

Which leads to the final point. Some of the historic winning advertisers in Super Bowl broadcasts take the last point to an extreme. They created a commercial that  ran ONLY during the Super Bowl and for that one broadcast only. Conventional wisdom suggests you take advantage of the production outlay and the initial awareness and air the commercial in a subsequent schedule. But, several notable advertisers have opted for the “one and done” creative production to great success, most notably Apple and Master Lock. In fact, Apple’s “1984” Macintosh introduction commercial has widely been viewed by the ad industry as the all-time commercial.

From Seth Godin – a fitting rally cry to all for 2012:

“The thing is, we still live in a world that’s filled with opportunity. In fact, we have more than an opportunity — we have an obligation. An obligation to spend our time doing great things. To find ideas that matter and to share them. To push ourselves and the people around us to demonstrate gratitude, insight, and inspiration. To take risks and to make the world better by being amazing.

That’s why there has never been a better time for the new. Your competitors are too afraid to spend money on new productivity tools. Your bankers have no idea where they can safely invest. Your potential employees are desperately looking for something exciting, something they feel passionate about, something they can genuinely engage in and engage with. You get to make a choice. You can remake that choice every day, in fact. It’s never too late to choose optimism, to choose action, to choose excellence.”

More on this terrific treatise here.

“Zealotry Marketing” is about creating programs that have a primary goal of generating referral. If referral is the best indicator of long-term profitability, then it made sense to us to use that as the starting point for creating marketing programs. Not merely looking at referral as an indirect end result.

This has led us to a revolutionary perspective on blending the classic marketing principles with today’s hot social media. And, heresy for old-school practitioners – the idea that the most effective marketing may well come from operations and service delivery.

This is the story of Zealotry Marketing: where loyalty begins with a company exceeding a customer’s expectation. An approach that can be engaged through any company and doesn’t require so-called marketing pros. It does require a sensitivity and commitment to exceeding customer expectations. Guest Relations Marketing believes Zealotry Marketing transforms the traditional loyalty equation.

What are you doing to create Zealots?

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