Bits & Pieces?
Recently, I re-watched the documentary film Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work. If you haven’t seen it, here’s a link to the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fnojZw54ls
This movie shows Joan Rivers is smart. Determined. Hard-working. Outspoken. She’s an inspiration, and this movie is packed with nuggets of good advice and sage wisdom for all of us in advertising.
“I prepare like a crazy lady.”
She writes and writes and writes and writes and writes some more. She’s been writing for over 40 years, and she’s not stopping.
“He who limps is still walking.”
Joan Rivers’ career has been a sine wave. She’s been up (Permanent Guest Host of The Tonight Show). And she’s been down (she competed on Celebrity Family Feud against Ice-T and Coco). But even when she’s down, she keeps on going. I’m sure many creatives can identify with the ups and downs (As a Creative Director told me, “Some days you’re in the White House. Some days you’re in the shit house. That’s advertising.”). It’s inspiring to see someone who has been through decades of ups and downs still remain optimistic and hardworking. She says, “I have become my own version of an optimist. If I can’t make it through one door, I’ll go through another door – or I’ll make a door. Something terrific will come no matter how dark the present.”
“Yeah, but what am I doing Monday?”
To illustrate Joan River’s approach to work, her business manager tells a story about Richard Pryor. This manager spent a good deal of time developing long-term goals and mapping out a years-long career trajectory. After he finished presenting this detailed, elaborate plan, Richard Pryor turns to him and asks: “Yeah, this is great, but what am I doing on Monday?” Focus on the here and now – what a great way to approach working and building a career in any field, especially creative lines of work.
“I will do anything. I will wear diapers if I have to.”
Joan Rivers doesn’t turn down work. In the movie, she tells her agent that she’ll do anything to book a commercial, even wear diapers. She talks about playing the Bronx at 4:30 in the afternoon. She agrees to a celebrity roast on Comedy Central. She’s not happy about these things, but she does them. She keeps working until her career is once again on the upswing.
She actively creates the upturn by constantly finding new ways to get her name, and brand, in front of the public. She’s recorded comedy albums, written and produced plays, hosted talk shows, invented the pre-awards show red carpet fashion critique (“Who are you wearing?” Who cared before Joan.), created a jewelry and fashion line that’s sold on QVC, done voice-over work, been a part of television shows like “How’d You Get So Rich?” and is featured in a new reality show with her daughter – just to name a few of the many things she’s done. When one opportunity ends, she invents a new one. She creates her own success. And so can we.
“I knew I was an unwanted baby when I saw that my bath toys were a toaster and a radio.”
Love her. Hate her. It doesn’t matter. She’s inspiring. And she is a great example for anyone in a field where success is dependent on your wits, creativity and ability to pick yourself up from losses and keep on going.
I’ve been going through a hard drive of mine recently finding a lot of little nuggets from my past advertising agency experience. As most who have been in the biz 15+ years would attest, you pick up a lot from different people along the way – mentors, business leaders, creative people, and yes, the internet.
I ran across a doc I must have pulled off the web somewhere (I wish I had a source but I don’t) that tackles the age old bane of creative people: “Make the logo bigger.” It quotes legendary creatives Neil French and Luke Sullivan. I’m guessing the page numbers refer to Sullivan’s “Hey Whipple Squeeze This” book (which I highly recommend). There’s a lot of wisdom in these words:
Neil French, a stellar copywriter, once told stellar creative director, Luke Sullivan: Every element you add to a layout reduces the importance of all the other elements. And conversely, every item you subtract raises the visibility and importance of what’s left (65-66).
A logo says, “This message brought to you by…” An ad without a logo just says, “This message.” (Sullivan 208).
Now, we’re not suggesting that we take logos out of everything. In some cases, a logo makes a strong point.
Take recent Nike ads for example. They tried to get rid of the swoosh and replace it with just Nike. It wasn’t working. Some ads don’t even say Nike anymore. They just have the swoosh, and you even have to search for the swoosh. They don’t scream it. They don’t have to. And neither do you.
Your logo tells people who you are. That’s it. It’s like signing your name to the bottom of a letter. You don’t put your signature across the entire page. As Luke Sullivan puts it, “When introducing yourself, do you say your name in a booming voice? ‘Hi, my name is Bob Johnson!’” (208).
We don’t try to hide logos; we just try not to let it all hang out, so to speak. Shouting is one way to get attention, but so is whispering. It just depends on the particular situation.
“There’s a dynamic involved here,” states Luke Sullivan. “If it’s agreed the ad successfully stops a reader and engages him with an offer that intrigues, what do you suppose the reader will look for next? The reader’s just seen something he wants. Where can he get it? The logo. …The reader will almost certainly find it, no matter what its size”
Do you think this is a good rationalization for the age old request to “Make the logo bigger?” I’d love to hear what clients would have to say about this. It may be right, or it may be wrong., But I’m thinking it makes a convincing argument. What say you?
The Urban Dictionary defines Groupon Anxiety as: the preoccupation and feeling of anxiousness and not being able to sleep knowing that a new Groupon will be released after 1am. I define it as the knowledge that too many small businesses are launching these promotions without thoroughly evaluating both the upside and the downside risk. Hence, my article on this topic in today’s Milwaukee BizTimes.
It may seem that, in the article and this follow-up piece, I am skewed towards the negatives of social couponing. That is because, as pointed out in the BizTimes piece, these promos are unprofitable for 1/3 of the business that do them, and nearly half would not do them again. So my goal is not to bash social couponing as a promotional tool, but rather to better equip the business owner to assess the true value, form the best strategy, and make sure they are not in the wrong 1/3 at the end of the day.
First of all, here is a quick reference list of ten questions to think through before you commit to a social couponing promotion:
- What is your objective? What are you trying to accomplish?
- How specifically do you think that a social couponing program will help you achieve that objective? In other words, what is your strategy? Is that strategy realistic?
- What other marketing strategies might help you achieve that objective, and why is this the best one?
- For example, is your customer experience all it should be? Is there more you could be doing to be truly outstanding and generate more positive word of mouth?
- Can you cap the number of coupons that are sold, to ensure that you are not losing an unacceptable amount of revenue? Have you thoroughly worked through the finances of the promotion to project specifically how much of the revenue the site will keep and you will keep?
- Can you structure the promotion in a way that it will benefit you most? For example, can you make it redeemable only during periods when you have extra capacity? (Talk to multiple social couponing sites, not just one.)
- Have you monitored specifics of deals that your competitors or other businesses have offered to ensure that your offer is competitive and that the terms the site is giving you are fair? A shout out to Jim Kasch of the thoroughly delicious vegetarian restaurant Cafe Manna for this tip.
- Have you prepared your employees for the promotion? Are they ready to provide a positive customer experience for both new and current customers?
- What will you do to encourage repeat business from the new customers? How can you capture their contact information so you can invite them back?
- How will you measure the success (or failure) of the promotion? Don’t assume that the site will do that for you.
Second, I would counsel any business owner considering one of these Groupon promotions to do some additional reading to help inform their planning. Here are some good places to start.
Inside Group Buying: Seven Small Business Success Stories features a small business roundtable on this topic. Some of the business owners saw positive short-term results, and overall they are more positive about the experience than some others I’ve seen. However, they also do a good job of pointing out the long-term considerations. As one owner indicated: “In some ways, it’s hurting loyalty to a brand. They [customers] absolutely love what I do, but say [a company] who’s trying to copy me puts a deal on LivingSocial. For those who don’t want to spend the money on the full price [of my service], they can keep going from deal to deal to deal to deal.”
Ask yourself: through over-reliance on dealing, are you and your competition just conditioning your customers not to pay full price? Maybe there’s a better strategy than matching your competitor’s deal with a deal. Like building a brand, and a customer experience, and a passionate, loyal following that your competitors can’t touch. Joe Sorge, owner of Milwaukee’s AJ Bombers, says: “As a company we prefer to focus on being remarkable in our product and in our guests’ experience to earn repeat business and referrals. In my opinion, marketing your business by virtue of a deep discount to your product is simply not a sustainable business model, a race to the bottom if you will. That’s not to say that we don’t offer discounts at all, we do, but they are typically offered as a “thank you”.”
I couldn’t agree more with Joe’s approach. While promotions have their place in a marketing plan, if your only strategy is a promotional one, then you need a better plan.
For more on social couponing strategy, check out Groupon: Is Google Making a $6 billion mistake? (Groupon took Google’s $6 billion offer off the table; however, the advice in this article should remain on yours.) It lays out the three most common strategies that small business owners often have in mind when embarking on Groupon promotions, and some of their fallacies. The first is using it as a back door to attract the more price-sensitive customer segment. The second is as a loss leader to higher-margin sales. The third is hoping the new customers from the deal will become regulars, which the author refers to as the “shakiest” proposition of the bunch. The author of Why Employees Can Wreck Promotional Offers, Rafi Mohammed, seconds that opinion and also cautions against believing that social coupon deals can be a way to generate long-term, full-price customers. The reason for this is so obvious it’s almost painful: “Once a rock-bottom price is set in a customer’s mind, it’s a challenge to get them to pay significantly more.”
So very true. Be realistic. What, really, are the odds that once you drive trial at a super-cheap price, people are going to see the value in coming back and paying twice as much? It just doesn’t hold up to reason, most of the time.
On a positive note, though, there are success stories, like this one in Is Groupon Good for Small Businesses?; also, Social Coupons and Small Businesses Part 2 does a good job of recapping some of the key issues you might face and how to avoid them. For another perspective, check out Jason Falls’ post on the topic, The Good and Bad of Groupon and Small Businesses.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Any questions, post in the comments or call me directly at 414.270.3243. Happy to help.
I participated in a great #smmeasure (Social Media Measurement) Twitter chat yesterday. The topic was online influence and how to use it for social marketing purposes, a personal favorite. After the chat, several people asked me to define influence and explain how to find the right individuals. Since it seems that more than one person is interested in the topic, I decided to share my thoughts here.
First, what exactly is influence? Brian Solis has a great definition:
“Influence is the ability to cause desirable and measurable actions and outcomes.”
Sounds great right? Who wouldn’t want to cause desirable and measurable outcomes? In reality it is hard (should I say almost impossible, unless you use fMRI) to measure the changes one person triggers in the behaviors of others. Instead, online influence is almost always measured by impact, reach, visibility or authority. However, online influence should not be confused with popularity. Influencers can be popular (e.g. Robert Scoble) and popular people can be influential (e.g. Kim Kardashian), yet not all celebrities are influencers.
How can influencers help with your social marketing goals?
They can help you increase awareness and/or share of voice, improve sentiment or increase positive sentiment, and sometimes they can even increase sales. Using influencers in campaigns leverages the power of third-party credibility in a very cost-effective way.
How do you find influencers?
First you need to define your audience and research which platforms they use. If your audience is teenagers, influential bloggers won’t help you achieve your objectives. If your audience is German businessmen, approaching influential Xing users is a much better option than influential LinkedIn users.
After that, you need to define the topics and keywords within which you are looking for influencers. Is it a certain industry? A specific genre of music? Be as specific as possible.
The next step is to research the topic for volume. Some industries are much more social than others, thus they produce more activity. It is much easier to find individuals with high Klout or PeerIndex scores within the marketing industry than among mechanical engineers. The idea behind this step is to establish realistic expectations for the next step: using social/online influence tools.
With dozens of online influence measurement tools, how do you know which ones to use? Good question! And I don’t have a good answer because all tools are in their infancy stage (unfortunately). My solution is to use Klout and PeerIndex for multi-platforms rankings and then compare the results since they have different algorithms. If I am looking specifically at blogs, I’ll check Technorati. I look at TweetLevel (because it gives a trust score) and Twitalyzer, together with Klout and PeerIndex, when I am focusing specifically on Twitter.
Finding influencers is much more than relying on tools with obscure algorithms. You need to do some manual labour too. First, you should research each individual and see if the content he/she shares is relevant to your brand/product. Establish if they reach your audience in terms of demographics. Determine if you’d like these individuals associated with your brand/product. The process is the same as selecting a celebrity to endorse your brand.
What do you do after you discover the right influencers?
Engage with them. I know it is a cliché, but people say it for a reason. Build relationships with the individuals you want to reach. Comment on their blogs. RT their tweets. Ask them questions about things they find interesting. Send them articles they might find interesting. Help them before you ask for help. Give before you get.
After all this hard work, it is time to ask an influencer for whatever you want from him/her. That’s why you need an influencer, not just another friend. A few things to consider during this final step:
- Reach out to them using their preferred channel of communication. If they prefer e-mails then send an e-mail. If they prefer to be taken out for coffee then take them out for coffee at their favorite place.
- Focus on the influencer. What’s in it for him/her? How will your request help him/her? Will it be interesting to his/her audience.
- Personalize your request. Seriously! No one likes receiving mass e-mails that start with Dear Sir or Madam.
- Get straight to the point without long overtures. No one has time to read five pages. If someone is interested, he/she will contact you for more information.
What are your options if you don’t have time to build a relationship?
It happens. Actually that is the more likely scenario. So what do we do? Here are a few options: ask for an introduction from someone who knows the influencer well and/or optimize the request in a way that will really benefit the influencer. If all else fails, give him/her a blank check. Not sure if that works, but you never know.
How do you find and approach influencers? What are your secrets?
P.S. I know this just scratches the surface. Let’s dig deeper and discuss more specific details in the comments.
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- authority, awareness, celebrity endorsement, impact, influence measurement, influencer, Kim Kardashian, Klout, LinkedIn, marketing campaigns, marketing goals, online influence, online influence measurement tools, reach, sentiment, social influence, social marketing, social measurement, social media, social platforms, Technorati, tips, TweetLevel, Twitalyzer, velocity, visibility, Xing
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