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Regardless of your political preference, the movie 2016 about Barack Obama’s rise to the Presidency provides a great example of discovering and building brand positioning. Like him or not, Obama is a clear example of understanding and mobilizing “Zealotry support.”  The producers offer a great, real life lesson on how to discover and build a brand with Zealotry following, including: linking the “why” of past behaviors
  • who are the parents (or founders of a company)
  • what was the environment and influences
  • what has been said and written from the leader (or CEO)
  • where is the priorities in money and hiring being placed

Discover the basis behind those questions and you are well on your way to a smartly constructed brand platform.

Guest Relations Marketing just completed a comprehensive rebranding of Juvenile Justice Foundation to…

drum roll, please…


Radically changing up a brand’s identity should never be taken lightly. Especially as it pertains to the brand name. In this case, there were several mitigating factors that ultimately led to a radical rebranding, including a new name.

youthSpark is aptly named to give voice and justice to youth. This organization is literally in the streets on a white-hot issue: underage prostitution and trafficking. Human sex trafficking is a global issue and unfortunately Atlanta is one of the leading centers for this illegal activity. youthSpark is committed to exposing this subject, promoting justice for our youth and helping them be restored to a productive future.  Join in on Facebook and Twitter to affirm your support!

Ah, metrics.

Ask any marketer in the world and they will tell you that it is important to measure your marketing efforts. Because if you don’t monitor metrics that report  the significance of what you are (or aren’t) doing, then you will never have any idea if you are doing the right thing.

This should not be news to you. 

Blog posts and articles saturate the web that outline the significance of measuring marketing efforts. However, and might I add ironically, this is the exact area where marketers lack the most. In fact, I garauntee that if you walked into any marketing agency and asked them if all of their metrics dashboards or data sheets were up to date you would get a big fat “NO.”

Why is this so often the case? Well, I could tell you because updating spreadsheet after spreadsheet is often tedious. Or maybe you would prefer the answer that marketers are so fixed on doing that they forget to look back and observe what they’ve done?

I believe that the true answer lies into a little of both.

As a marketer I want to put the client first. I want to share their content, brainstorm for their brand, and dream of the next viral campaign. However, the more time I spend on thinking of the future without observing the past, the higher the risk I run of heading straight down a path to NOWHERE.

My point? Take the time to measure your initiatives and understand how your marketing efforts are performing. I promise that it will only provide insight that will enable you to be a better marketer. And in the end, isn’t that what we all are striving to become?

Frequent buyer programs are frequently misdefined as loyalty programs.   Zealotry is not about “frequency of purchase”.  Your best Zealots may not be heavy spenders or most frequent customers.  But, they remain extremely valuable in terms of referral.   True loyalty is earned by the brand, not bought by frequency of purchase.  Read on …


Let’s just get this straight once and for all: There is no such thing as brand loyalty. Each of us likes certain brands and may even love them. We may buy them most of the time, or perhaps even every time. But the idea that we have a true bond with any brand, like the kind of commitment we have in real life with our friends and family, is a farce. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to create that kind of loyalty; most of us tell ourselves that’s the end game and it’s always important to aim high.

What it does mean is that we should take a harder look at how we go about creating what we call loyalty. We need to admit that coupons, discounts, points and prizes are just beanbags. We ought to spend more time thinking about the stuff that really matters to people, and serve that up each and every day.

That means products and services that really and truly solve problems and help people live happier lives. Providing a helping hand when someone really needs it, and smiling because we truly mean it. It’s not because the customer is always right (nobody’s perfect). It’s because it’s up to us to make it right. We may not get the same kind of loyalty we enjoy with our family and friends, but we’ll have more fun, and so will everyone else. Loyalty is what we make it. Your thoughts? ~ Tim Manners, editor.

While there are many differences between not-for-profit and for-profit businesses, there is one thing that remains the same – they both require funding for programs and both face increasing competition for those dollars.

September is designated as National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.  Historically, CURE Childhood Cancer has done little to promote this to their followers or local market.

Despite the terrible economic times of 2009 and no budget for external media, Guest Relations Marketing developed a fund-raising program for CURE to coincide with the national promotion.

The Promotion

The aim of the CURE fundraising program was simple: to honor 30 kids, one for each day in the month of September, with each committed to raising $1,000 to benefit CURE Childhood Cancer. The promotion centered around capitalizing on the momentum of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month to raise awareness and money for CURE to help fund their mission, as well as honoring children who have personally had childhood cancer.

CURE reached out to families and received an overwhelming response to those wanting to participate, share their child’s story and reach out to their communities. In total, we honored 57 children throughout the month of September – some had beat the disease, some were in the midst of treatments, some had lost the battle.  Each family shared their own touching story and child’s photo.

Online and social media drove the promotion from a marketing standpoint. A page was created on the brand website, and each child featured on the homepage for “their day.” A personal fundraising page was created for each child on FirstGiving (an online donations website), where their personal story & photo was shared with the world. On their day, each child was also featured on the CURE Blog, as well as on Twitter (@CUREchildcancer) and Facebook Page.  The families also had the option to submit a list of email contacts to receive a series of 3 emails leading up to their child’s day to further help keep it top-of-mind.

The Results

The results were overwhelming! By identifying and activating the Zealots for CURE Childhood Cancer, we were able to engage new groups of people in a personal & connected way. The communications and participation was personal and motivating. And, the fact that it was driven purely by social media is truly a testament to the power of referral and creating viral communities.

  • Children honored: 57
  • Funds raised: +$171,000 (nearly 5.5 times more than our goal of $30,000)
  • 2,204 individual donors in the month of September alone (nearly as many as for 2008 in total)
  • September 2009 the most successful month of all-time for individual donations for CURE
  • Brand website Visitors grew by 30%
  • Page Views were 7.25 times higher
  • Facebook Fans increased by 27%
  • Email database grew by 41%
  • Twitter followers increased by 6.5 times

We know that activating “zealots” is the surest practice of marketing.  It is gratifying to see it come to fruition for such a noble cause as CURE Childhood Cancer. See more at

You can visit us online at Guest Relations Marketing.

The bottom of our office building houses several good, locally-owned restaurants. While our choices aren’t exactly endless, they all certainly have two things in common – they’re convenient, quick & all serve Coca-Cola products.

Not unusual for Atlanta, but Coke has done something clever to help promote themselves and support these local restaurants at the same time. When you walk near any of the restaurants it is quickly apparent that Coke is the beverage of choice. They have branded umbrellas, signs, fountains, counter tops, menus, tablecloths, drink coolers, even Specials of the Day that include your favorite contoured bottle of choice.

Great for Coke, surely more than just a splash of branding. But, also great for the restaurants, who I’m certain got these things complimentary for serving Coke, or at least deeply discounted where they would have to go find them & pay more otherwise.

Especially in a tight economy, finding mutually beneficial ways to support your customers is a great way to build Zealots for your brand at the same time!

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

Hollrr is a relatively new site devoted to referral.  Unlike other organic referrals or recommendations found on the web, Hollrr brashly solicits endorsements through reviews, referrals and other tactics and will pay cash for the efforts.

From Hollrr: “Social Media totally changes what effective advertising should be. Why should you believe a company that tells you their brand is good… when you can listen to the Twittersphere and find out exactly what users think of that brand?”

Social media does not change what effective advertising should be.   Effective advertising has always been about being authentic, credible, distinctive and often, giving consumers a different way to look at a product or service.

BzzAgent has been successful as a grassroots referral promotion for new products.   But, using social media as the primary platform opens up a company for severe backlash if referral is driven by promotional payouts instead of real, felt experiences.

Incidentally, Hollrr is ranked by Alexa as the number 266,263 website.

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

When looking for and growing the Zealots for your own brand, don’t look to far. Start first by looking at the employees of your company, those that are representing and living the brand each and every day. Zealotry should start here.

From a feature by Cool News it is easy to see the Four Seasons gets this concept.

“Workers, he says, are vital assets who should be treated accordingly. At most hotel companies, he notes, housekeepers, cooks, bell staff, waiters and clerks are often the lowest paid and ‘the least motivated people.’ But at the Four Seasons, those who might otherwise be considered the most expendable ‘had to come first,’ because they were the ones ‘who could make or break a five-star service reputation’.”

Involving and engaging your employees in your brand – from the lowest to the highest ranks – will ensure without a doubt they are spreading the good word to their peers. Constantly educating, from brand history to the latest news and developments, will empower your people to tell your story both to current guests and to potential guests as well.

Are your employees Zealots? How have you engaged your staff?

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

Do you have “customers” for your brand? Most people (hopefully) will answer yes to this question. But a larger question still remains. Do you have “guests” of your brand?

What is the difference you may ask? Let’s take a look at the definitions for both.

A customer can be defined as:

1. a person who purchases goods or services from another.

2. a person one has to deal with.

A guest can be defined as:

1. a person who spends some time at another person’s home.

2. a person who receives hospitality.

3. a person who patronizes.

The verbiage clearly speaks for itself. Certainly we all have (and need) customers of our brand. Those that simply purchase goods or services; they’re in, they’re out.

But do we all have guests of our brand? Those who are patrons of our brands? A guest is welcomed, a guest is known, a guest is invited into your brand.

Simply having your employees think of your “customers” as “guests” could potentially make a huge impact on your service. Communicating to your customers as guests – from the methods & marketing channels you select, to the words you use – could take your relationship to a whole new level, as well as your business.

You will find those “customers” you treat as “guests” are far more likely to be the ones who are Zealots for your brand.  Amazing how a simple change in wording can lead to a complete mindshift for a brand.

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