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At Guest Relations Marketing, there are many organizations near and dear to our hearts. If you’re looking for a great evening that will benefit a wonderful cause, check out these events. Each one helps give back to children in-need, both locally and globally.

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Earlier in December, Guest Relations Marketing engaged renowned photographer Jimmy Williams to showcase the beautifully designed Miromar Lakes private residential community, near Naples, Florida.

The vision of Miromar Lakes’ founder to create a resort-style lifestyle based on the Mediterranean Riviera is portrayed brilliantly in Jimmy’s work. Miromar Lakes was named #1 community in the nation by the NAHB (National Association of Homebuilders) in 2011.

Stay tuned to see the ad campaign featuring this amazing photography, but for now take a look at our behind-the-scenes shots:

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Fake reviews are nothing new.  We personally know a marketing director who thought it was great sport to create contrived reviews of his company.  He thought he was beating the system and he certainly wasn’t the only one.  The New York Times cited a study indicating 10 to 15 percent of online reviews are not legit.

Well, the Times is reporting that fakers in New York are now subject to legal consequences.   Nineteen companies have been fined more than $350,000.  The deceptive reviews posted on prominent sites, including Yahoo, Google and Yelp.

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Yet, the largest consequence may not be a fine.  Those who practice the art of staged or fake reviews risk their entire brand goodwill.  Ask stockholders or employees associated with Arthur Andersen or Enron.  Brand trust is hard earned and easily lost.  Sometimes forever.

They noted marketing consultant Olivia Roat wrote an article titled “All About Fake Online Reviews: The Problem of Separating Fact from Fiction.” In the article she stresses she found “fake reviews greatly disconcerting.”

Today it will be announced her company will pay a $43,000 fine for writing fake reviews for 30 clients.  Great marketing, eh?  Consider more work on delivering in an authentic way and less on how to “fake it.”

When you think of buying a car, what comes to mind? For many, it’s stress. Hours of wasted time. The dread of dealing with a dishonest car salesman. I’m a planner, so when my car was reaching the end of its life last year, I visited virtually every dealership in town to find the vehicle that would replace my once-trusted sedan. And along with those visits I witnessed a few questionable car-dealership practices of my own. Once I decided the Ford Focus was in-fact the car for me, there was no question in my mind where I was going to purchase it – Allan Vigil. Although I have a unique relationship with the dealer, Allan Vigil is unlike the vast majority of the dealerships I visited. The facilities are amazing and the employees are all kind, knowledgable individuals who are simply there to help you. They’re normal people! So when it came time for a new television campaign for Allan Vigil, we decided to take a different approach. Since Allan Vigil is the “anti-dealer,” The Vigilante was born. 379602_461850640574872_439985482_n Bad dealers beware; The Vigilante is a hero of the people. Always suited-up, The Vigilante is constantly on the lookout to rescue people from bad dealership practices. A silent hero, he swoops in during a time of crisis and hands over a Vigilante card informing the customer where they can go to be treated right: Allan Vigil. This campaign has hit a cord with customers; presenting a very relatable – and oftentimes uncomfortable – situation in a lighthearted manner. Since the first TV spot aired more than three months ago, the dealership has receiving nothing but glowing feedback. What are you waiting for? It’s time to meet The Vigilante.

I’m always on the look-out for smart brands. Brands that bring something new to the table or brands that do an amazing job engaging their Zealots. When I first stumbled upon Warby Parker I knew they were someone to take note of.

What’s Warby Parker?
HTOWP is a vintage-inspired eyeglass company based in New York City, known for their online sales program. While selling eyeglasses online doesn’t seem like the smartest business model, WP has thought it through. As a potential costumer, you simply pick out 5 of your favorite frames and WP ships them to your home for free. Your instructions? Wear one pair each day so the people who see you the most can give you feedback. Then, pack all 5 frames in the box and mail them back – shipping covered by WP. If you found a pair you like, simply order that frame with your prescription and the glasses will be custom-made for you. Sounds like a pretty pricey product, right? Not at all. Each complete pair of glasses costs $95. Plus, for each pair purchased, one is donated to someone in-need. Talk about making your customers feel good!

Get Social
Warby Parker has a strong social presence – both on and offline. When WP sends your Home Try-On kit, you’re encouraged to share pictures on the Warby Parker Eyewear Facebook Page. So not only can you to get feedback from your friends, but you can get feedback from the WP community as well.

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For those of you addicted to 140 characters, give WP a Tweet. Even with an average of 3592 Tweets to @WarbyParker each week, they do an amazing job of interacting with their followers. Here’s my friend’s interaction with WP. In fact, it was her posting on Twitter/Facebook that first introduced me to the company. See? Engaging your Zealots truly pays off.

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WP has also thought about their more traditional customers, making their frames available in 12 showrooms across the US as well as on the traveling Warby Parker Class Trip. Visiting 9 cities over six months, this school bus full of frames is touring the US, with members of the WP team posting pictures of their journey along the way. Simply put, this campaign it’s buzz-worthy and fun.

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After all this research about Warby Parker, I think it’s about time to get a new pair of glasses. Stay tuned.

With Hurricane Sandy devastating the Northeast last week, I find myself clicking through photo albums of the destruction, curious to catch a glimpse of what these people are going through. Studying the photos, I can’t help but think of my experience living in Tuscaloosa last year when a massive tornado leveled so much of my beloved town. When I think about the weeks – and months – after the storm, the destruction isn’t the only thing that stands out in my mind. I remember the groups, individuals, and brands that swarmed the city to help those in-need.

Imagine being without electricity – totally disconnected – during a time of destruction. You’re unable to turn on the TV and check the status of your city. Unable to read the news on your laptop. Unable to pick up your cell phone and text your friends and family. That’s where Duracell stepped in, setting up PowerRelief mobile charging stations near areas of destruction. Whether it’s Tuscaloosa, AL or Battery Park, NY, Duracell provides a free place for individuals to charge their electronics, use computers with internet access, and watch live TV news coverage.

After a natural disaster, roads are littered with nails, glass, and sharp wooden shards. Whether it’s your car or an emergency truck making its way down the street, avoiding a flat tire is nearly impossible. BFGoodrich Tires offered assistance, setting up an emergency repair station for individuals and emergency vehicles whose tires were punctured driving through areas of destruction.

During a time of devastation, the Tide Loads of Hope station rolls into town, bringing with it more than 32 energy-efficient washers and dryers. Families drop off their laundry and the Tide crew washes, dries, and folds the clothing for free. Why does Tide do this? “Because, as we’ve learned, sometimes even the littlest things can make a big, big difference.”

For these brands to offer assistance in times of need simply makes sense. These aid stations fit organically with each brand and are undeniably beneficial for the victims whose lives have been directly impacted by the storm. Not only that, but they are infinitely valuable for a brand’s reputation. Whether it’s media coverage of the generosity or the brand’s ability to help a few thousand people – and along with it create new brand Zealots – the benefits are through the roof.

Just look at me. Duracell, Tide, and BFGoodrich stick out so vividly in my memory, I’m telling you about them right now. If that’s not Zealotry in-action, I don’t know what is. Hats off to the brands who are offering their aid during times of need. Do you have stories of other brands who have offered assistance? I’d love to hear what you have to say.

What would it take for you to strip down to a Speedo and run through Midtown in December? For our own April Voris, all it takes is CURE.

When April got word that CURE Childhood Cancer is the benefactor of this year’s Atlanta Santa Speedo Run, she was on board. Not only will April be donning her Speedo, and perhaps a jingle bell or two, but she also has set a goal to raise $500 for CURE. Click here to check out her fundraising progress or make a donation.

April needs all of our support on raceday, December 8th. So put on a warm coat, charge your camera, and come cheer her on along the race route. Click here to learn more about the Atlanta Santa Speedo Run. Or for the brave, click here to register to run and fundraise. Speedo required.

Swoozie’s brand colors are pink and orange, but during the month of October they are all pink in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This month, the brand offers its customers the option to purchase a PinkPASS – all proceeds benefiting the Breast Cancer Research Foundation – which also allows the customer to receive 20% off all purchases through the end of the month.

To further help spread awareness for the cause, and to further engage with their core target market in the online community, Swoozie’s hosted a #PINKPASS Twitter chat on October 23rd. The chat included special guest @brokesocialite who recently lost her mother due to a battle with this terrible disease.

The chat lasted one hour and Swoozie’s received participation from strangers, customers, and blogger-friends alike. We hosted the chat in the evening, meeting our core demographic during a time they were generally able to be online and connected. The conversation was heartfelt and authentic, engaging passionate supporters for the cause, while still having a little light-hearted fun with questions like “What is your favorite shade of pink” in the mix.

Through our work with client Swoozie’s, we have created deep-rooted blogger relationships and this paid off as so many of them willingly joined in the conversation and spread the hashtag virally among the online community. What is true in real-life is true online as well; it’s all about the relationships you build and the people you meet along the way. We were thankful to have this group of Zealots to further the engagement for this special online conversation.

In all ….

306 #PINKPASS mentions.
More than 1M impressions.
More than 121K followers reached.

While the chat garnered impressive numbers, the most noteworthy moment of the night was listening to the inspiring story of Kelly Spalding, who lost her mother to breast cancer and is newly diagnosed, herself. We’re proud to support Swoozie’s – and women like Kelly – this October.

A year ago, childhood cancer was a totally foreign subject to me. The disease hadn’t affected my family or friends. It didn’t have a face or a name. It wasn’t real.

Then I met CURE’s Kids.

I began my internship at Guest Relations Marketing in August 2011 and my first project was to read, edit, and upload the stories of the children participating in the September promotion CURE’s Kids Conquer Cancer One Day at a Time.

Some children were survivors. Some were currently in treatment. Some had lost their battle. The stories were both heartbreaking and inspiring. After researching CURE, I soon realized that childhood cancer is much more common than I ever imagined and that government funding for the disease is almost nonexistent.

Since its inception in 2009, CURE’s Kids Conquer Cancer One Day at a Time has raised more than $600,000 for critical research aimed at finding cures for childhood cancers. All this was accomplished by simply sharing the stories of children whose lives have been affected by this horrific disease.

CURE’s goal this September is to raise another $250,000. Seems like a daunting task. But as soon as you read the story of a child like Laura, the reason CURE needs our support is crystal clear.

Are you a Zealot for CURE? I certainly am.

CURE Childhood Cancer just announced record donations of $3.1 million received in its just-concluded fiscal year. This represents about a 200% gain in annual giving since they became a client of Guest Relations Marketing in 2007.  This has been accomplished primarily through activating their Zealots through online media and events.

More importantly, this has resulted in tremendous advances in research. We are striving for the ultimate success story – finding ultimate cures for childhood cancers. It is coming!

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