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In the wake of continuing digital media changes, CEOs are re-examining how they engage management in marketing. McKinsey recently advised CEOs to engage their boards to a greater extent in marketing. In particular, McKinsey recommended three key points:

1. Consider a customer-engagement planning day to take stock of the broadest strategic implications of changes in the marketing environment and of the company’s position with customers.

2. Consider expanding expertise of the board, given the fast-changing nature of marketing. For example, including more board members with public-sector experience—including political-campaign skills—can provide valuable counsel to today’s ever-more-exposed CEOs.

3. Keep board involvement strategic in nature and clearly aimed at governance issues and not the day-to-day management of marketing activities.

GRM has historically conducted customer/prospect research aimed at uncovering engagement points and how to be distinctive from competitors. Lessons, even for smaller businesses, as the digital-marketing revolution continues to unfold. Are you mapping customer engagement? Customer engagement is a CEO directive ultimately. To be effective and encompassing, operations, marketing, sales, customer service, R&D and now – IT – all need to be on the same page.

You can support a worthy nonprofit and get your running in through the streets of Atlanta at the same time.  Route 2 Change is a duathlon scheduled for Saturday, October 12 at the World Congress Center.

route2change

The event, co-chaired by Stephanie Blank and Lovette Russell is a USAT sanctioned race, but certainly suitable for all participation levels.  Route 2 Change benefits our client, youthSpark, who leads the prevention of exploitation and trafficking of minors.

Click here to sign-up or get further details. 

 

 

 

Word of mouth marketing has existed since the day of the first business. Sharing opinions and experiences has always been a means of success or failure for many companies. If you have an excellent product, people will find out and, as you can imagine, this same principle applies to those products of lesser quality.

In today’s age of social media and instant sharing, companies must utilize these tools to their advantage. Not only can social media allow you to monitor what is being said or share information, it can also be used to activate those that you want to share your message.

Marketing programs should be built from a referral perspective based on those most passionate about your brand. These passionate followers, or Zealots, live the philosophy of word of mouth marketing without even knowing the true power they possess. While tapping into this resource may seem obvious to many, it also shouldn’t be the end of the road for your marketing strategy.

Case and point: a recent promotion that our client CURE Childhood Cancer was involved in: Club Diamond Nation (CDN). Launched as the first virtual baseball and softball academy, CDN provided an opportunity for fans to vote for their favorite player for a chance to win a one-on-one training session. Additionally, CDN would donate $15,000 to the charity selected by the player who received the most votes.

CURE Childhood Cancer was the selected charity of CDN athlete and former Atlanta Braves pitcher, Tom Glavine.  Immediately, we began to promote the contest to followers of CURE Childhood Cancer, via e-blasts, blogs, Twitter and Facebook. With more than 31,000 fans on Facebook and even more on our email and blog lists, we were sure that this would be enough to win. However, after a month of voting we realized that this would not suffice if we really wanted to win the $15,000.

Softball player Jennie Finch was blowing Tom Glavine out of the water when it came to votes and, with a week left, Tom trailed Jennie by more than 1,200 votes.

The major issue? Those who are Zealots for CURE Childhood Cancer are passionate about finding a cure for the disease and as a result did not feel directly passionate about this promotion, as it was very baseball-oriented. This is when we decided to take another approach and activate indirect Zealots of CURE by targeting those who are Zealots of Tom Glavine and the Atlanta Braves.

Through Twitter, CURE Childhood Cancer and Tom Glavine promoted the contest to Braves fans and asked them to vote. Tom began to interact directly with fans and reward those who were spreading the word by retweeting and replying to them directly. As a result, the dialogue exploded in frequency.

In a matter of six days Tom Glavine received more 6,000 votes, 4,500 more than Jennie Finch during that time. Additionally, direct mentions of CURE on Twitter increased 810%, resulting in an increased reach of 1,490%.

By simply asking Braves fans to support their old pitcher, Tom Glavine, CURE Childhood Cancer won the CDN contest and the $15,000.

Yes, word of mouth marketing can serve as a wondrous opportunity for organizations.  Now through social media platforms, companies can not only listen to what people are saying about their brand, but also have an simple and direct way to start the conversation.

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.

Yes Super Bowl is about the football, if you know anything about our office you know we love football. But it is also all about the ads and we love to talk about them. Wasn’t it your water cooler chatter today? It certainly was ours and we asked our team to weigh in on their favorites. Here is what they had to say:

Mike Tyre, Managing Partner:  The Chrysler ad

“One ad stood out.  It was totally about today.  Truthfully with just a little editing, viewers might have considered it a part of the programming.  The commercial was Chrysler.  It is getting widely praised as the “best of” for this Super Bowl.  Three reasons why.  First, in a sea of ads trying to be humor, be clever or tell you how smart or great they are, Chrysler talked about you … or the American people.  It reflected the angst and the polarization in this country’s political climate.  And, it offered a solution … “Americans get behind Detroit.”  Made you feel it.  Great casting.  As a contrast, GE ran a couple of ads.  They were frankly boring.  Why?  They are talking about what they are doing and their people.  Employees and stockholders maybe will like it, but nothing on the emotive meter.  Secondly, terrific positioning.  A great play of media placement and messaging.   Third, people look to brands that can aspire something greater.  In a game that represents the culmination of dreams for players, Chrysler connected their brand.  Not to buying sheet metal, but to being a part of “rekindling” the American Dream.  How can you not jump on that train?  Did it sell cars?  I know this.  A lot of people who wouldn’t have considered Chrysler at all are at least thinking about them now.  Chrysler at least got into the consideration stage for a lot of viewers.  That makes their commercial the MVP of Super Bowl ads.”

Bob Richardson, Copywriter: The Audi Vampires Ad

“An unusual scenario for top tier car brand. This spot uses a pop cult vampire spin to sell the product’s incomparable feature — the Audi brand’s ultra-powerful headlights. They shine on a group of vampires at night, like daylight, making vampires disappear. Even the vampire driver, amused and passing in front of the Audi’s headlights, vanishes in light of Audi’s mystical product feature. The joke IS the product — not detached — therefore effective.”

Jan Sharrow, Designer:  The Budweiser Eternal Optimism ad

“The nostalgic time line of the Budweiser – 2012 – Eternal Optimism ad. Budweiser has been around for many years and this ad illustrates how the brand has been a part of our history. It’s fun to watch snapshots of years gone by in a positive party setting. There are scenes from history from times before I was born until now. It gets more emotional to see times in history that I lived through such as the scene from the 1980’s. Make me want to party.”

April Voris, Partner:  The Honda Ferris Bueller ad

“My pick is the Honda commercial with Mathew Brodrick. It tapped into a nostalgia that anyone in a certain target age will relate, and this happens to be a target for the CRV. Even the last detail of the valet was brilliant.”

Amanda Kirkland, Producer:  The Kia ad

“I was born and raised in Alabama. Which means one thing for sure: I have no allegiance when it comes to NFL. So each year when the Super Bowl rolls around, the commercials are the highlight of my night.  My favorite commercial of the evening was the Kia spot. Which really surprised me. It opened up with a very creppy minion sneaking around people’s bedrooms, sprinkling pixie dust. I didn’t like it at all. Until the overdose of pixie dust resulted in the ultimate man-dream.  Between the macho man riding a bucking rhino and a monstrous sandwich being sawed in half by lumberjacks, I was in stitches. But my favorite part? When our hero rescued his leading lady – his wife – with the message that a Kia is a normal car for normal people. Good job, Kia.”

Charissa Schultz, Designer:  The Budweiser Weego ad

“I loved the Budweiser commercial with the dog named “Weego.” Besides the fact that I love ads with pets in them, It was entertaining to the very end, yet you never lost sight of the product in all the shenanigans with the dog. After carrying bottles to all the individual guests, Wego brought in a keg when he saw the crowd joining the party. And at the end, he came floating by in the pool with yet another cold Bud.  Even with all the going’s on, this ad subtly showed:  1. You can enjoy the product not only in bottles, but also by the keg.  2. It was a good refreshment for when you have a couple of friends over, or when you have a crowd.  3. People enjoy the product both inside and outdoors.  But the best reason to love this ad is that the owner stated at the very beginning that Weego was a “rescue dog.” That was an excellent ( and subtle – using only two words) way to show that the company cared about animal rights and supported finding homes for homeless pets.  And that earned this commercial a five-star rating from me!!”

Ashley Schoenith, Director of Social Media & Engagement:  Beyond TV

“Beyond the TV, I was impressed by some of the creative ways in which marketers capitalized on social for this year’s Superbowl – and Twitter lead the way. Chevy shines again through their sponsorship of trending topic #Superbowl. The folks at Shazam should be giving themselves a pat on the back too – I think I counted 6 different commercials that plugged them in some way. American Express and Pizza Hut partnering for a Super Swarm Sunday promotion on FourSquare – also a nice touch. A few Facebook Ad buys from Toyota and The Voice seem to have garnered some interest, allowing us to engage back with the brand. The only thing missing for me? Pinterest of course. Maybe next year…”

I just saw this TV commercial for Miracle Whip for the first time and thought, “Smart.” Miracle Whip has figured out the core of their brand. There are two kinds of people in this world, those who passionately love the mayo, and those who wouldn’t touch it with a 10 foot pole.

What I love most about the spot is that it speaks directly to the Zealots of the brand, completely polarizing those who don’t like them anyways and never will.

So, are you team Miracle Whip or no?

A core tenet for any consumer is the opportunity to choose.  Choose on whatever basis fits their specific desire – price/budget, time constraint, flavor, self-image.  Notice the number of restaurants that congregate in adjoining street corners?  The power of community … and of choice.

This is pretty basic – give your guests options.  The best providers provide not a helter skelter menu of myriad choices, but just a small hand-full that represent who you are as a brand and most importantly HOW your brand connects to their needs and desires.

For example, the prix fixe menu that offers 3 or 4 choices per course.  You are pretty secure that all options are favorites of the chef.   The hotel that offers a couple type of pillows, but each consistent in quality.

No choice, not good. Too many choices, too confusing. A limited number of choices that are carefully thought?   That’s the right choice.

A CMO Council survey indicates that while the majority of marketers view loyalty programs as essential to their business, an overwhelming majority are having trouble determining effectiveness of such programs:

Some indicting facts from the survey:

  • 27% say they haven’t really tapped “brand champions”
  • 16% say “we’ve been highly effective”
  • 19% say “we don’t have a strategy for this”

Is this an example of chasing rabbits down the wrong holes?   We contend loyalty programs are largely designed with the wrong outcomes in mind.  Are you measuring the right behaviors?  What do you want your loyalists (Zealots) to do?

What do you want them to say about your brand?   Are you truly rewarding them or making them jump through proverbial hoops to receive an incentive?

Here’s a big hint: the large majority of $2 billion spent each year on loyalty programs is wasted.  True Zealots are already mobilized.   It’s about supporting them … and instead taking actions to engage other potential customers waiting to be transformed into Zealots.

A recent article in ehotelier.com decried Starwood Hotels recent price cuts as “short term slash-and-burn approach … causing long-term damage to its brand and our industry.”

I find it laughable that many in the hotel/hospitality industry continue to hold onto the good old days and spout such theory that “we must hold our pricing.” Isn’t this the industry that fueled such brand protectors as Expedia, Hotels.com, and TravelZoo? We are in an unprecedented economy and Starwood is recognizing that the value equation has changed. The nouveau riche customer of 2006 that fueled higher demand is gone. Some upscale properties can remain inflexible on price because they are appealing to a demo that is still unaffected in terms of travel spending. But, for group, most events and many transient guests- cost and budgets are now higher in the equation. So, adjustment of pricing to fit the 2009 Value Perception is necessary. That does not mean starburst “buy one get one free” ads that look like a furniture liquidation sale.

As the agency for the Ritz-Carlton advertising program for a number of years, promotions, local events, filling low occupancy periods at the property level were a regular part of our program. Is this discounting or price adjustment? In the literal sense, yes. But it was couched in the language and attitude of the brand and more importantly was presented in a way that was relevant and appropriate to the intended target. We understood who was the “zealot” for the Ritz-Carlton Hotels and structured all marketing – communications, promotions and delivery -accordingly.

Today, our firm continues to build programs from the perspective of “zealots” – those who are passionate about your product/service and what will accelerate referral. Pricing is almost never the primary driver. Adjusting pricing is a basis of supply/demand at some point. It is not a marketing panacea. But, neither is it destroying the Starwood brand or the industry.

Of course, every reader will not read your ad.  And, its not likely any reader will respond directly to you.  Then, consider having 500,000 followers – at no media cost.  And, they can respond directly to your communications.   Check out why one company has 50o,000 followers on Twitter.   It’s not why you think it is …

Did you know that JetBlue has over 507,000 followers on Twitter? (as of 13 May, 2009). Yes, that’s more than half a million “fans” of the brand who choose to be exposed to the airline’s 140 character-long short messages. And this is almost 20 times greater than the second most followed airline, Southwest, which has just over 27,000 followers. But why? What is it that JetBlue does that makes it such a loved brand on Twitter?

Here are some stats for those of you who like numbers. Of the last 62 messages JetBlue sent out,
42 were replies to others (68%)
33 contained external links (53%)
12 were free tips, like how to overcome jetlag (20%)
10 answered customer service  queries (16%)
9 had sales offers/promotions of some sort (14%)
6 were Re-tweets (including one from SimpliFlying!) (10%)

It’s NOT just about selling on Twitter.

The numbers tell a story. Do you realize that the overwhelming majority of messages were interacting with individuals, as they were replies. And there were less than 10 messages that were trying to drive sales. The key – JetBlue adds value to their “followers” through interaction, and doesn’t only see Twitter as a medium for additional sales.

I’ve seen airlines pop-up on Twitter recently that have only been releasing deals! Well, if they really want to do that, then have they should set the expectations right, like @delloutlet, which only sends out special special offers.
From:  Shashank Nigam, Simpliflying.com  an aviation blog

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Guest Relations Marketing
Transforming Prospects to Guests, and Guests to Zealots

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