jeudi 31 octobre 2013

Social Media and Its Impact on the Halloween Season

Halloween: a season some would consider the only season worth celebrating (Who doesn’t love costumes, candy, and ghouls?) I may be biased but there is something magical about All Hallows’ Eve. Is it the beautiful fall colors? The clever pumpkin carvings? Or is it the fact that you can pay someone to chase you with an ax until you are in danger of wetting yourself.

Haunted houses, hayrides, and trails have become an enormous revenue opportunity for individuals who choose to put on a good spook show during the season. In 2012, over $8 billion dollars in revenue was collected by haunted establishments all over the United States. An average haunted house charges approximately $15-$20 per patron (the high end haunted houses charge up to $60) with an expected turn out between 6,000 and 10,000 – You can see how lucrative this can be.

Teenagers and horror enthusiasts flock to a haunted venue with a good scare rating. The establishments that have integrated a concrete social media strategy obviously have the upper hand against others that may depend solely upon word of mouth. Through a haunted houses Facebook or Twitter page, you can find deals, see ratings/reviews, and even get previews of what to expect through pictures and videos. Plus, odds are, the more “Likes” from Facebook and “Tweets” from Twitter, the better the haunt will be.

A Spook-tastic Social Media Campaign

There is a great story of a haunted house located near Niagara Falls called Nightmares Fear Factory. Thanks to their genius social media campaign, their web traffic increased by over 10,000 percent in just one day; going from 600 visits per day to over 60,000 in less than 24 hours. How did they do it? Nightmares Fear Factory came up with the idea to strategically place cameras around the house in places where a good scare is going to occur. The picture is taken of the patrons at the perfect moment, capturing their screaming faces and looks of terror. Not surprisingly, the pictures were hilarious and they were placed on the company’s website and social media platforms. Through the ability to tag and share photos on Facebook as well as all the other sharing and “liking” options through other social media outlets, the pictures went viral.

A Ghoulish Use of Technology

There is another way that social media is beginning to impact haunted venues, as demonstrated by The Nest haunted house in 2012. By using Radio Frequency Identification technology, the Nest can personalize each guest’s terror experience. The Nest contains multiple cameras and control rooms, which allows staff to follow the guests and personalize their terror by using their name, displaying pictures from their Facebook throughout the complex, and even presenting their name on a tombstone in the cemetery using their actual birthdate and todays date as their death date. There is no doubt that this use of technology was a contributing factor to The Nest being recognized by voters as the scariest haunted house in the country on Good Morning America.

Haunted houses have come a long way since the beginning. Through social media, the way marketing a haunted venue has changed dramatically. The only downfall to this change is the fact that now, if a haunted house is not on social media, regardless of how incredible their haunt may be, chances are it would not do as well as a competitor with a solid social media presence. This is just another example of how social media and the Internet has and will continue to change everything.

So as the Halloween season comes to a close, make some time to visit a local haunt and be sure to “like” if you found it bewitching.

Happy Hallo-scream.

via Business 2 Community

7 Content Ideas For Personal Branding Success

Save time creating the content you need for personal branding success using the following 7 content themes, or timeless content categories.

7 Content Ideas For Personal Branding Success image RCP 7 Content IdeasTHREE75The best way to build your personal brand is to consistently provide helpful, relevant content to others in your field. This approach attracts search engine traffic as well as both the experts and newcomers in your field.

Consistent branding visibility is necessary because you never know when a prospective client or buyer is going to be ready to buy.

But, where do you get the ideas for creating a constant stream of content-filled articles, blog posts, podcasts, teleseminars, and videos?

That’s where categories of content ideas come in.

The power of content categories

You don’t have to start writing with a blank screen if you think in terms of content categories that you can frequently return to and address from different perspectives.

Let’s face it; the hardest part of writing is coming up with a topic, or basic idea, for content marketing articles, blog posts, podcasts, SlideShare presentations, white papers, or videos.

Once you come up with the basic idea, however, it’s usually easy to identify the key ideas and start planning and writing your project.

That’s why the 7 content ideas, listed below, are so useful. They eliminate the “empty screen” syndrome. They reflect universal content themes common to every field and every type of product or service.

Use the following content ideas to provide a broad context you can address over and over again from different perspectives, in different media, with varying amounts of detail.

7 key content ideas

  1. Buying information. Your prospects are risk adverse. At every step, they’re concerned about making an expensive mistake. As a result, they’re hungry for information that will help them make an informed, “safe,” buying decision. The more “How to Buy Right” content you share, the better.

  2. Questions to ask. One of the best ways to create helpful buying content is to empower prospects by sharing questions. There are two categories of questions; questions for prospective buyers to ask themselves and questions to ask while shopping the competition. These questions help prospects pre-qualify themselves and permit you to emphasize the benefits of buying from you.

  3. Mistakes to avoid. Another content category that empowers prospects while emphasizing the importance of buying from a trust brand is to describe the mistakes that you’ve seen clients and customers make in the past. Often, of course, these mistakes were the result of putting short-term savings ahead of shopping for long-term value. Sharing these mistakes emphasizes your expertise and experience.

  4. Trends. What’s happening in your field? What are the trends affecting your clients, customers, and prospects? Often, changes take place so slowly they’re barely noticeable. Providing content that alerts your market to the changes taking place enhances your brand as a source of information. Your content can be as simple as “7 Trends Affecting Your Future Profits.”

  5. Concerns and challenges. Trends, of course, describe change, and change often requires interpretation. Interpreting the significances of recent trends offers an opportunity for you to alert prospects to the consequences of the changes. This adds urgency, encouraging prospects to prepare for the future by taking preventative action now.

  6. Terms. One of the biggest challenges your prospects are dealing with is mastering the vocabularies associated with rapid technological change and advancement. You can build your brand by introducing the vocabulary your prospects need to know to confidently discuss their goals and objectives. Content options can range from a simple word of the day to a list of the Top 10 or 20 terms in your field, with short definitions emphasizing their relevance.

  7. Resources. Another important category of content ideas involves curating, or sharing, content created by others. Filtering and selectively sharing the most important ideas in around your topic reinforces your expert personal brand. The more resources you share, the more you’re viewed as an expert. Information can range from published books to online links to articles, blog posts, and upcoming events.

Putting the 7 content ideas to work

Here’s a simple 3-step approach to putting the 7 content ideas to work building your personal brand:

  1. Make a list of the 7 key content ideas. Place each idea at the top of a different page in your idea notebook, or a different sheet of yellow lined paper. You can also create a 7-column table in a Word.doc, or create a mind map.

  2. Brainstorm possible titles for each content idea. Expand your list of the 7 key by coming up with titles and different ways to approach each category of information. One way to do this is to approach each content idea from the perspective of a different market segment.

  3. Add deadlines for each content idea. The best way to take full advantage of these 7 content ideas is to create a deadline for creating content based on each idea. Adding a deadline converts an intention into action. Committing to write a “How to Hire a Personal Branding Coach” blog post by November 15, for example, increases the likelihood that you’ll successfully take action.

Content tips

Here are some final tips for working with list of the 7 basic content ideas:

  • Work as quickly as you can. Don’t analyze or self-censor your work when expanding your list of 7 content ideas. Come up with as many different ideas as you can for each topic as you can. There will be time to evaluate them later.

  • Think back on your previous clients. Think of the different stages they went through before buying and selling your product or service. Think in terms of how you can apply the 7 content ideas to different personas, or target markets.

  • Don’t focus your content exclusively on first-time buyers. Consider applying the 7 content ideas to prospects at different experience levels. Think in terms of writing to advanced users or dissatisfied users who aren’t getting full value from their current investment.


Roger C. Parker offers ideas, tips, and personal coaching to help you write your way to a strong personal brand, including a free workbook, 99 Questions to Ask Before You Start to Write or Self-publish a Brand-building Book .

via Business 2 Community

Best Organisational Apps for your Smart Phone

I’ll be the first to admit that for me, organisation is a struggle. It’s not because of laziness but purely a total lack of time.

I study marketing full time, work part time at a coffee shop and also intern at Bluewire. Add on assignments and some resemblance of a social life and there’s not much time left, so I need to be organised. Luckily for me (and most of the modern world) I own a smart phone. Believe it or not, my IPhone is not just for Instagram, Facebook and listening to music- it’s also my secret organisational weapon.

I’ve compiled a list of some of the apps that help getting me through the day. Combine these with a lot of coffee and you have my secret for success.

Best Organisational Apps for your Smart Phone image anydoanydo


Any.Do is a simple, easily synchronised to-do list app. Any.Do’s most innovative and clever feature is its ability to give geolocation reminders- or reminders when you arrive at a certain location. Eg. You write a grocery list and completely forget- once you arrive at the supermarket Any.Do will alert you to your grocery list. Have to remember to tell someone about a project at work? Same deal. You can view your goals and to-do’s either by category eg. Personal, work, study etc, or by the date their due. The app is free and available on both Android and Apple devices.


Best Organisational Apps for your Smart Phone image anydo

Pocket lets you save articles, web pages and videos for later. You have two options to view your links later, the first is a bookmarklet that you can install in the web browser on your phone, or you can email it to your Pocket account. When you’re ready to view the article later just launch the app on your IPhone , Mac or IPad (the app syncs all of your devices together so you can read it on any Apple device) and you will have all the articles queued and ready to read.

You can choose to view your articles in either a list or a grid, and is easy to navigate with thumbnail pictures and colour. You can also choose to read the article at its original source if you’re online- or you can read a stripped down version of the text if you’re offline- great for commutes home on your IPad or IPhone when you don’t have access to WiFi. You can also share articles from the app with the ‘Send to Friend’ feature. Pocket is free but is only currently available on Apple devices.


Best Organisational Apps for your Smart Phone image mindnode

MindNode is a brainstorming app, designed to help you map out projects and ideas on the go. The app automatically reorganising complicated mindmaps, gives you the ability to differentiate important nodes with different fonts and colours and allows you to drag and drop nodes to rearrange them. When accessing the app on your Mac you can add in word documents and images to support your mindmap. The app also allows you to share and access your mindmaps through iCloud, Dropbox and WiFi as well as allowing you to save it as a PDF or a camera image. The app is $9.99 and is only available on Apple products.

Best Organisational Apps for your Smart Phone image mailbox


Mailbox’s main focus is to get your Gmail inbox to zero- if this isn’t something you’re interested in, you don’t need help with organisation. The app helps you sort through your mailbox by labelling your unread emails. The app lets you save less important e-mails into categories like tomorrow, next week or even ‘someday’. Mailbox also allows you to quickly swipe e-mails into archive or trash. It’s free but is currently only available on Apple but there is an Android version in the works

Best Organisational Apps for your Smart Phone image dropbox


Dropbox is a must for anyone who is constantly losing their USB (me). DropBox is a substitute for backing up your work onto an USB or external hard drive as it creates a virtual folder on your computer that is synchronised with the app and automatically uploaded online to your DropBox account. This means wherever you are, regardless of the device, you will have access to all your files provided you are connected to the internet. You can move, delete and upload files directly from the app, and DropBox also gives you the ability to open them in another application for editing, eg. Microsoft Word. DropBox is free and is available on both Android and Apple devices.

Are there any apps that you use and love? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

via Business 2 Community

The Future Of Social: Close To The Madding Crowd

Think about the last time you ordered something online. Or not even ordered an item, but quickly did some window shopping. Did you check out the user reviews? I bet you did.

At least 70% of global consumers survey reviews and ratings before making a purchase.

In fact, user-generated opinions online are the second most trusted source of brand info, after recommendations from friends and family.

Wait, User-what?

The first thing everyone seems to agree about user-generated content is that the name is awful (or is it just me?).

Put simply, user-generated content is any content that consumers, subscribers and fans produce about a business, product or service.

Whether you write a negative review on TripAdvisor, pin a pair of shoes or upload a picture of your favorite band on Instagram, you’re generating content for a brand.

The Future Of Social: Close To The Madding Crowd image Obama Carruth 11 1

Rather than being fed content by broadcasting media, internet users are getting in on the act by producing their own videos and making them freely available online.

We are self-publishing consumers redefining traditional norms.

Gone are the days when news organizations recruited journalists for the sole job of photographing news. Last summer, the Chicago Sun Times laid off its entire full-time photography staff and reportedly begun training the remaining reporters in the basics of iPhoneography.

So What?

You’re right, user-generated content as a marketing tool is nothing new. More than 50% of all online content in 2013 is user generated.

But with these numbers only growing, brands that look to creative consumers and brand advocates who can inform and influence others on behalf will be the ones seeing the most growth.

Lays (Walkers) recently made a splash in the world of crowdsourcing when it offered fans a chance to create a new flavor and receive $1 million of the flavor’s first year sales.

The best flavor left standing was Cheesy Garlic Bread, but more importantly, it had 3.8 million participants that helped Lays truly understand what their customers wanted.

Burberry’s Art of the Trench campaign offers one of the best user-generated examples of its kind.

It launched a website, The Art of the Trench, inviting well-known photographers and the public to participate and show everyday people wearing Burberry trench coats.

The Future Of Social: Close To The Madding Crowd image ArtOfTrench 580

Meanwhile, Coca Cola continues to seek to create closer ties with its audience in several crowdsourcing campaigns.

Most prominent was its decision to give its marketing creative brief to consumers in North America, Asia and Latin America instead of a multibillion agency.

Out of 3,600 submissions, 10 brilliant ideas were chosen of which ‘Happiness is in the Air’ was ranked in the top 10% of commercials shown worldwide.

Clearly, these companies are empowering their advocates on creating content in bold and brilliant ways, whilst seeking to retain some control over the final outputs.

They try to reach consumers on a more personal level.

And as increasingly more consumers are given a voice and the tools to share and connect with brands, I expect to see more ingenious ways in which brands are taking notice.

Think of it as a shift over time in which the organizing, curating and serving the client stays within a business but the creative ideas and inspirations come from outside.

Brands Will Only Have One Choice

Just a decade ago, brands were able to control much of their messaging that consumers viewed, so reaching them solely via mass media seemed like a sound plan.

However, the volume and speed of information we have today is hardly manageable and it won’t slow down. As a result brands will only have two choices. Either they:

  • hire an army of staff to keep up (and go bankrupt sooner or later)

  • they figure out ways to partner with consumers in a much deeper way throughout their branding process

Some of the most popular brands today are based on collaborating communities. Facebook, Amazon, GiffGaff, Microworkers and Reddit did a great job tapping into communities using transparency, trust and a new level of involvement.

As technology and social networks continue to make it easier for brands to develop a deep, ongoing connection with consumers, more businesses will hunt for a direct, real-time channel generated by their consumers.

For instance, Google deciding to create a new logo would not rely on what it or an agency believes it should look like, but on a large crowd of users it can immediately poll or campaign to develop a new one in real time.

Going forward, companies will need to restructure themselves to flourish in this collaborating economy. They will use new technology to tap into crowds of fans to build communities who will become the primary reason to its success.

The winning brands will be those who bet on their consumers.

via Business 2 Community

The 6 Scariest Social Advertising Mistakes On Facebook

The 6 Scariest Social Advertising Mistakes On Facebook image Scary Social Media imageYes, the holiday season is right around the corner, but it would be a shame to skip over Halloween! With that in mind, we reveal the 6 Scariest Social Advertising Mistakes we see online marketers make on Facebook.

These mistakes are easy to fix, so grab a bag of candy corn and read on:

The 6 Scariest Social Advertising Mistakes on Facebook:

  1. Not splitting up campaigns that target multiple devices. For example, if you’re targeting mobile and desktop users, you should have two separate campaigns so that you can see which device delivers the best performance.

  2. Spamming your fan base with promotional posts. Regularly trying to sell fans on various products or promotions is likely to decrease your page’s fan base. Don’t be entirely self-promotional. Instead, aim to foster a community of users and post information that they will enjoy.

  3. Failing to rotate out creatives. Facebook ads tend to go stale over time, plus your target market can become immune to a certain ad after viewing it multiple times. Make sure to regularly rotate creatives to keep things fresh.

  4. Failing to include a call to action in ads that are intended to drive offsite clicks. Just including a link does not spur users to click on it. If possible, give the user a good reason to navigate off Facebook and onto your site.

  5. Running unpublished page post ads with low quality images. Unpublished page post ads run in the new feed and take up more real estate, so do not include a grainy image. Rather, use a high-quality image with an organic feel or eye-catching content.

  6. Not leveraging internal e-mail lists of prospects, cold leads, or customers who have not purchased recently. Make sure to coordinate internally to see if there are existing e-mails lists that you can use for custom audience targeting. Marin Software clients have reported lower CPLs from campaigns targeting custom audiences vs. general targeting.

For more Facebook tips, check out our recent content on Facebook Custom Audiences and Facebook ROI. And have a very happy Halloween, everyone!

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A Guide to Pinterest Rich Pins

A Guide to Pinterest Rich Pins image A guide to pinterest rich pins

Savvy social media professionals have all tweeted, liked, posted and shared the fact that there’s a new, cooler type of pin in town – one that includes automatically updated details like product prices, movie reviews and recipe ingredients. But content marketers? Well many of us are simple too busy crafting engaging, inspiring words to care about pinning pretty pictures.

But here’s where it gets interesting. Now, Pinterest lets you pin articles. So this awesome blog you’re reading right now, for example? Yep, you can pin it! So if you’ve been wondering how to take advantage of Pinterest but don’t have the resources to create visually-rich content, you’re not out of the game. Better yet, if you can create compelling visuals to support your written content, you’ll have something to make your posts pop in a Pinterest feed.

So what exactly are these new pins and how do you use them? Here’s our guide to Pinterest rich pins.

What are rich pins?

There are now four types of rich pins:

  • Product – pricing, product descriptions and source URL.

  • Recipe – ingredients list, preparation time and source URL.

  • Movie – movie title, release date, rating, actors and director information.

  • Article – story headline, author name, summary of article and source URL.

Brands can display more information on their pins by including meta tags on their websites. All rich pins now include the company or brand name with a logo that features a click through link to the website. This is all stuff that you could include on your pins before, but now it looks a lot slicker and increases the ease of use for consumers to find the original source.

For any brands involved in online marketing, rich pins are a no-brainer.

Get started

You have to jump through a few technical hoops to get rich pins up and running. If you already have meta tags on your webpage, then Pinterest will automatically include this information on your rich pins, making the process slightly easier.

To set up rich pins:

  1. Apply for the specific type you want – product, recipe, movie or article.

  2. Make sure your website is using the appropriate meta tags including title, meta description, tags and author. Step-by-step instructions on the required meta data detailed by Pinterest can be found here.

  3. Preview your pins.

  4. Validate the original URL of the pinned page with Pinterest.

  5. Apply to get your company approved for rich pins by Pinterest.

Once Pinterest has approved your first rich pin, you can pin anything from your website thereafter and it will automatically be in the rich pin format.

While you’re on Pinterest, why not follow King Content?

Let’s get pinning!

via Business 2 Community

Defining Idea Management

While some individuals are well versed in idea management as a concept, sometimes we find that we have to explain what the concept means and, once individuals understand the problem, the solution makes perfect sense.

Defining Idea Management image ideacomic2 300x162

Image courtesy of Natalia at petitpotato.

Ideas and inspiration in their raw formats are difficult to control and manage. They come to us at any point in time and don’t always come in formats that we can easily process and manage. Part of putting ideas together involves not just our own efforts, but also the efforts of others who can help us sort out the puzzle. Rarely do we find that a great idea comes fully formed from one individual. Ideas must be built upon and improved before they’re able to function independently.

In order for ideas to develop properly, they need two things which seem almost contradictory: structure and flexibility. Structure allows you to manage the process that the idea goes through and come to an understanding of when you must review the idea or approve it. But flexibility allows you to develop the idea freely and gives you the space to let other ideas work off of it or take the idea through another stage, if necessary. A platform that allows you both structure and flexibility has the best chance of getting great ideas and making them even better. And that’s basically what idea management is – a way of putting together the puzzle pieces.

Ideas come in a variety of different shapes and need different processes that work with them, rather than against them. So in order to develop them, your ideal platform should not only let you input ideas, or let others input ideas, but also let you decide how the idea is defined and the journey the idea can take from start to finish.

Once you have all of that, you should feel more like you’re on a pathway to innovation and less like you’re assembling a gigantic puzzle without all the pieces.

via Business 2 Community

How Moms On-the-Go Engage with Brands

How Moms On the Go Engage with Brands image 526fe04214f0923ccf00083e 1383063618

As moms spend more time on their smartphones and tablets, they also engage more with brands. From social media to shopping to advertising, moms see a lot more from brands because they’re constantly connected through these devices. With that comes many opportunities for brands to target moms with specific messaging around the device, which is a new world for many. Let’s look at the key mobile touch points for this powerful audience:

Social Media

In 2012, 46% of moms visited social media sites multiple times each day. This is a big jump from 37% in 2011 and 32% in 2010.Why the love for social media? Moms trust the opinions of other moms, and social media allows them to connect and share about products or brands they use and trust.

The rise of social media usage among moms emphasizes the need for mom-focused brands to have a strong, clear, and consistent social media presence, accessible through desktop, tablet and mobile platforms. However, there is still much room for improvement: only 14% of mobile websites integrate with the Facebook “Like” function and just 31% include product detail sharing on Facebook.Without the technology in place for customers to easily share your brand’s content on social media sites, you lose out on valuable recommendations and social sharing.


Mobile has already proven to be a popular method of purchase among moms. 62% of connected moms use a shopping appand 93% of moms made a purchase on a tablet in the last month. In fact, 1 out of 3 moms who shop using a mobile device do so more than half of the time. Moms enjoy the ability to shop directly from their smartphones and tablets but they also use their devices to research ahead of the purchase. Brands will want to keep this process in mind as they design their websites and select advertising for specific products.

How Moms On the Go Engage with Brands image 526fe0d914f09268f100104d 1383063769


Mobile ads are proving to be a tricky nut to crack for marketers. When looking at both tablets and smartphones, experts expect to see interaction with ads on tablets to grow more quickly than smartphones. This is mostly due to the larger screen on a tablet that makes it easier to click on and consume the content. This also offers more real estate for the ad, which is a benefit for the marketers. Also, moms tend to use their tablets when they have more time, such as sitting down on the couch after the kids are in bed. This allows them more freedom to click on ads and explore.

While we know interactions with smarpthones and tablets are on the rise, this mobile world is one that marketers haven’t quite nailed down yet and 2014 could be the year where big strides are made, particularly around advertising. For now, brands should take note that tablet owners specifically cite features (like zoom and rotate) and portability as key reasons why they purchase more via that device, and social media tends to be accessed on-the-go from their smartphone. With these habits, tablets open the door for more direct response advertising and smartphones lend themselves more toward branding exercises.

For more on moms and their on-the-go devices, download the free white paper, A Marketer’s Guide to Reaching Moms on Mobile.

How Moms On the Go Engage with Brands image 526fdfb00aab4d61cf000b4f 1383063473

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Branding Your Company in the Digital Age

While some may think that branding—at least in the traditional sense—is not nearly as important as it once was, it’s still essential to the long term success of your company. But while some fundamentals remain the same, branding in the digital age has evolved considerably.

Branding Your Company in the Digital Age image FULL blog branding

The fact is, the proliferation of the Internet, social media and mobile—and their vast impact of society and consumer behavior­—has changed things substantially for marketers. Successful branding is no longer simply creating a great logo (while still very important) and developing the most clever advertising campaign possible. Successful branding involves a myriad of strategies, concepts and channels—a mixing of tried and true principles and an ever-evolving, agile adaptation to the digital age we live in.

What is a brand?

A brand is more than a name, a logo or a product, but rather an idea and a position that exists in the mind of your audience. It’s the gut reaction people have when they see or hear your company name—the collected sum of their thoughts, feelings and experiences with your company. And how they think and feel is a result of both the tangible and intangible attributes of your brand that they perceive through their interactions and experiences.

Jeff Bezos, founder of, really sums up the concept of a brand: “A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” I really like the second half of his quote because it nails the fact that a reputation is really built on quality in the details. And building and maintaining a brand without a doubt is hard work, but those that do it well instantly stand out in our minds.

The goal of branding

Branding was originally a very simple and practical concept: distinguishing your cattle from the cattle at the ranch next door. But while the idea of simply distinguishing your company from the competition is still at the heart of branding, it’s a much more complex process. The process of branding is defining, conveying and maintaining your brand’s core value—figuring out who you are, what you stand for, conveying that to your audience and then maintaining it.

But the end goal of branding is getting past the tangible attributes of your company (the who, what, when, where and how) and tapping into the emotional triggers of your audience by conveying intangible attributes (the why factor) that are not easily imitated by the rest of the pack. Because intangible attributes are felt emotions. And everyday, regardless of the industry, both B2B and B2C, people make decisions based as much on their feelings as logic.

How branding has changed

Branding in the past was solely a one-way communication. It was all about telling people how they should think and feel about your brand through exposure—clever advertising and an abundance of frequency and reach. The idea was that if you shouted loud enough, often enough, and in as many places as possible, then people would start to believe what you were telling them. And today there’s now A LOT more ways to expose people to your brand. Traditional media still has a place, but now there’s websites, social media, mobile apps, blogs, video and countless other channels for exposure.

Branding has changed because consumers have changed

The digital age has fundamentally changed the way people shop, research and make purchasing decisions. 89% of purchasing decisions begin with a web search and B2C and B2B prospects alike are reading blogs, reviews, articles, websites, etc. Today’s prospects are smarter, savvier and less likely to believe you’re the best choice just because you say you are. And consumers are now in control and have become conditioned to ignore traditional, interruption-based marketing messages. As marketing authority Seth Godin first pointed out several years ago, brands now need permission to engage their audience.

Branding is no longer just about exposure

Branding is no longer simply about a prospect’s exposure to your company; it’s about their experiences and the various interactions they have with your brand. And there are a lot of interactions: seeing your logo, speaking to one of your employees, browsing your website, interacting with your Facebook page and visiting your store or office. All of these “touch points” need to be considered as part of the overall brand strategy.

Branding is now real-time

Perhaps the biggest change to branding is that it’s now real-time and consumers are as much a part of telling your brand story as you are. And due to the viral nature of the web and social media, a brand can be built up or torn down overnight. We can all think of examples of brands that have been impacted—some positively and some negatively—because of a viral video, a social media post or an online review.

How branding is done in the digital age

As mentioned before, branding in the digital age is a mix of tried and true principles from the past and new approaches that are necessary in today’s landscape. So here are some fundamentals for branding in the digital age:

Differentiate – You still have to stand out from your competition. People have to have a clear understanding of what makes your brand unique.

Be authentic – A brand can only reflect what really exists. So make sure your brand promise is something you can live up to.

Connect emotionally – As BMW has said, “We realized a long time ago that what you make people feel, is just as important as what you make.”

Be consistent – Consistency across every touch point and every communication is critical. People should get the same feeling whether they are in your store, browsing your website or on your Facebook page.

Understand your audience – Intimately knowing who you’re trying to reach, their wants, needs, interests, pain points, etc. and addressing those in your marketing is absolutely critical.

Personalize the experience – Marketing can no longer be to the masses. People want to feel that their interactions and experiences are personalized and directly relevant to them.

Pull them in – Branding is no longer a push strategy, it’s got to be a pull strategy. Consumers want you to add value not volume, so content marketing combined with an inbound marketing methodology is the way brand communication should be done today.

Listen and respond – Branding is also no longer a one-way communication, but now a two-way conversation. Listen to your audience, respond to their comments and incorporate their feedback.

Keep them coming back – We all know it’s much easier to sell to existing customers than gain a new one, so creating both a remarkable product or service and remarkable marketing will lead to passionate brand advocates that do the selling for you.

Every company needs a strong brand and branding is still a relevant process for a company to incorporate in every facet of their business. With so many channels, options and distractions for consumers today, brand building has to be done differently than it has been done in the past.

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7 of the Most Shared and Emotionally Stirring Videos of 2013 (So Far)

I must admit, I haven’t always been the most avid online video watcher. It’s not that I don’t enjoy them; I’ve just always been more of a reader or one to scroll through pictures. This isn’t to say I never watch videos or share them; I just only share the really funny ones, or videos that make a lasting impression .

This got me thinking; what do the most shared videos have in common and what elements of these videos resonate with the most people?

Let’s watch seven of the most shared videos of 2013 (so far), according to Viral Video Chart, powered by Unruly, to see the common elements that made them highly shared within the online community.

1. Dove Real Beauty Sketches

With 124,837,162 views and 4,205,803 shares through Facebook, Twitter and blog posts, this video tops the list as the most shared of the year.

2. baby & me / the new evian film

Of its 64,588,435 views, this video was shared 3,285,465 times since being discovered on April 19, 2013.

3. Kmart’s Ship My Pants

Viewed 29,583,384 times and shared 3,036,494 times, this ingenious commercial is the third most shared video of the year (to date).

4. Budweiser’s Super Bowl Ad 2013 – The Clydesdales Brotherhood

Boasting 15,392,524 views and 2,719,395 shares, this commercial debuted during the 2013 Super Bowl.

5. Pepsi MAX & Jeff Gordon Present: “Test Drive”

With 44,194,134 online views and 2,680,407 shares, Jeff Gordon took this car salesman on the ride of his life.

6. Official Ram Trucks’ Super Bowl Commercial “Farmer”

Viewed 20,509,202 times online, this touching Super Bowl 2013 ad was shared 1,873,236 times.

7. Harlem Shake Miami HEAT Edition

Their take on a popular internet meme, the Miami Heat’s Harlem Shake video was viewed 46,683,280 times and shared 1,653,403 times since March 1, 2013.

Common elements of the most shared videos of the year

After watching and analyzing these videos, three common elements stood out. These elements were apparent throughout all of the videos, with some being more obvious than the others.

Each video…

Evokes Emotion

As you watched each video, it made you feel something . Whether you found the Dove commercial to be inspirational, Kmart’s commercial to be hilarious or the Ram Trucks’ Super Bowl commercial to be touching, each video evoked some sort of emotion, which is what makes them highly shareable.

Think about the last video you shared. Did you share it because it was so touching you wanted all of your followers to feel what you felt? Or did you share it because you couldn’t stop watching it because it was just that funny?

Without stirring sentiment, the probability of your video being shared is unlikely. It doesn’t matter if you’re tugging on the heartstrings or if you want people to fall off their chairs in a fit of laughter, the key to a highly shared video is to make people feel .

Tells a story

Each of these videos tells us a story of someone or something. Although some of the stories are more abstract, like the Evian babies and the Miami Heat’s Harlem Shake, from the beginning to the end, we are taken on a journey.

The Pepsi Max and Budweiser commercials do an exceptional job of telling a story. Where the Pepsi Max commercial takes us through a celebrity prank, the Budweiser spot shows us the special bond between a horse and its owner, even after years of separation.

People enjoy stories, especially visual stories; we love to listen, watch and connect with others.

Creates brand awareness

Instead of traditional, in-your-face marketing, the most shared videos of the year are effective in creating brand awareness through telling stories and evoking emotion. While it’s clear these brands are trying to sell something, from water to beer, beauty products and sporting event tickets, they do it subtly.

These videos focus less on selling and more on creating a culture around the brand. They want people to identify with their brand first, and then because of their loyalty and awareness, they want people to buy their products.

Take the Ram Truck’s commercial, Ram has clearly identified their target audience as farmers and speaks directly to them. Not in a way to say every farmer needs a Ram, but more as an acknowledgement to their constant hard work and dedication to their choice of livelihood. Of course, the Ram is present in the commercial, but more as a symbol of its resilience and strength, just like the farmers.

With more than 100 hours of video being uploaded to YouTube each minute, it’s certainly an uphill battle to have a video go viral. However, it’s not impossible. Unquestionably some of the more popular brands, I am inclined to think that regardless of the brand, these videos would have been found and shared because of the content and the impact they left .

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Baby Boomers and Social Media

Baby Boomers and Social Media image phone Booths

If you’re a baby boomer, you already know a lot about how to be social. For instance, would I have to ask you twice what the “magic words” are? Would you know what elements make a good letter? Could you go on a picnic and just be at the picnic, without having to whip out an electronic device? There you go! Each one of these instances is a good reason why you, as a Boomer, is a perfect candidate for social media. Here’s a funny article about the differences between baby boomers and Gen Y.


Let me backtrack a bit by saying that I meet Baby Boomers all the time who feel insecure about social media. I think it doesn’t have to be that way. They think they have nothing to say, and yet they have more experience than younger people, and have been through all kinds of economic downturns, changes in employment, divorce, and much more. So of course you as a Boomer have something to say. The issue may be that you feel insecure around younger people who have grown up with Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, and YouTube. And if you’re a Boomer connected on social media, I like Brian Solis’ “Gen C” label.

The Magic Words

Most Boomers know how to use the words “please” and “thank you,” and they know when. Believe me, (please), when I tell you that saying “thank you” is very important. In a world of ingratitude, your thank you means so very much. Maybe good manners can be taught at a later age, but since you probably already have good manners, you have an edge on social media, so that isn’t an issue.

Writing a Letter

Another skill that many Boomers have is the ability to write a letter–a skill that can be transferred to writing email, a blog, crafting a few Facebook posts, or tweeting. Seriously. The ability to write in one form can easily be transferred to another. So you have the edge there, too.

Going on a Picnic

Going on a picnic without checking a phone is easy for a boomer[/caption] Now this one might sound a little strange to you. But the ability to just talk without checking an electronic device is getting more and more rare. The other day, with some of my friends, I realized that no one had checked in, tweeted, posted, or made a video for a couple of hours. Weird, right?! And how wonderful to just have a conversation without thinking it might end up being posted on someone’s wall.

Drive Your Online Conversations Offline

It’s great to meet people online, but there is really no substitute for meeting people face to face and having an actual conversation. And that is where baby boomers really shine. Having grown up without cell phones, tablets, and laptops, boomers know how to talk! Because if you really needed to talk to someone, you’d go over to their house and knock on their door. Who does that any more? So take those conversations offline where you’re really comfortable.

Social Media is Just Tools

Really. Social media is bits and bytes, but in the end, it’s just a tool. You can meet and talk to a lot of people (sometimes all at once) using social media. But if you think of social media as something like a telephone or another appliance to be learned, maybe the intimidation factor will go away. Because as a Boomer you already have the tools you need. Don’t you?

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What An “Ad Man” Can Teach Us About Sales

What An “Ad Man” Can Teach Us About Sales image 2013 10 24 14.35.25 444x444

In most sales situations, you’re pitching to an individual. Imagine it now, you can see the whites of his or her eyes and know when you drop your punch line; she’s going to laugh. Generally, sales situations are one-to-one. It’s powerful and as sales people, what we’re best at.

But in advertising, you don’t have that luxury. You can’t “see” your customer, and it’s difficult to understand their reactions to your pitch.

So why care about advertising if you’re in sales?

In Sales, you’re pitching one-to-one. In Advertising, you’re pitching one-to-many.

If you’re a fan of Mad Men, you may have heard Roger Sterling referring to the book Confessions of an Advertising Man , written by David Ogilvy. Ogilvy is considered the father of modern advertising, and his book is the prerequisite reading for anyone in the advertising field. The book is peppered with provocative and direct language like, “Pay people peanuts and you get monkeys.” You can take all sorts of lessons from Ogilvy’s book. While the book is directed to advertiser, this blog is directed to you to help you sell. Ogilvy may have written a book about advertising but he may not have realized how many of these lessons can easily be applied to sales and sales leadership.

How Ogilvy Can Teach Us About Sales & Leadership

“Your Client is Your Wife”

A lot of sales pitches today assume your customers are missing information. In order to fix this, your pitch sounds “pitchy” or “sleazy” as you try and sell our product instead of have a conversation. (Hint: if you’re pushing your “features and benefits“, you’re probably not doing a good job of selling.)

Ogilvy writes, “The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife. You insult her intelligence if you assume that a mere slogan and a few vapid adjectives will persuade her to buy anything.”

This statement by Ogilvy shows his approach to treat customers with respect. In fact, he seeks equal respect between your customer and your wife. As you prepare your pitch, practice with a significant other or close friend. How do they react to your sales trailer? Instead of making the focus of your sale be on making your product seem interesting, make your customer feel interested.

“Monkeys versus Humans”

Which would you rather have working for you: monkeys or humans? Ogilvy understood the rigors of the advertising world, and in order to get the best out of his team he treated them like human beings—humans as opposed to monkeys. He wrote: “We treat our people like human beings. We help them when they are in trouble-with their jobs, with illness, with alcoholism, and so on.”

What is your company culture? Do you know how your other co-workers are feeling? Often when we focus purely on results and not the salespeople, we don’t get the best results. Selling is a tough job and it can be incredibly draining if you don’t have a human connection with your coworkers, teammates, boss, and clients. Sales leaders should stop treating salespeople like monkeys and more like the human beings that they are. And you know why? Happy employees sell more.

“Never Stop Testing”

“Never stop testing, and your advertising will never stop improving.”

The more you test, the better your pitch. The same way you take the time to research your competitors, take it to research and improve your own offerings and pitch. Practice one version of your sales trailer or pitch for a few weeks. Notice if customers or prospects either react, question, or don’t react to it. Think about changing it slightly and trying this new version for a few weeks. Be disciplined about practicing these different versions and assessing which ones are working for you. Then, when you find one that really seems to grab people’s attention, get your entire team using it on a daily basis.

“Good Products Can Be Sold By Honest Advertising”

If you don’t believe in what you’re selling, you’ll be less effective in sales. In fact, you shouldn’t be selling something you don’t believe in. If the salesperson doesn’t believe in the product, that should be a big red flag to management. Note: this problem may be hard to nail down, as management often misunderstands a lack of results for poor salesmen instead of a poor product. Try to distinguish between the two and make changes to the offering if necessary.

You don’t have to use a “mere slogan and a few vapid adjectives” to sell your product or service. If your product is what you believe it is, honesty may be your best approach. Ogilvy said it simply when he wrote: “Good products can be sold by honest advertising. If you don’t think the product is good, you have no business to be advertising it.”

Be Picky When Choosing Clients

In addition, Ogilvy painstakingly took the time to only choose clients he believes he could serve. “We take immense pains to select our clients. It is true that we have selected a few clients who have not yet selected us, but we preserve in their pursuit, and we turn down an average of fifty-nine less desirable accounts every year.”

I was once told the success of an agency is when you can say more “no’s” then “yes’s” to new clients. Instead of trying to close every deal, close the right deal.

There’s a lot that sales people can learn from Confessions of an Advertising Man, and this is only a start to the great amount of advice he has to offer in his straightforward and no-bs book. We highly recommend it.

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Intuit Online Payroll Review – Tax-Friendly Payroll Software

When most people hear “Intuit,” they think of tax time. Both individuals and businesses are familiar with the company’s TurboTax do-it-yourself tax preparation software. So it should be no surprise that the company’s new online payroll software is designed to make things easier for businesses at tax time, automatically calculating both federal and state taxes.

This Intuit Online Payroll review will look at the new payroll solution’s features and pricing to determine its value to businesses of all sizes.

About Intuit Online Payroll

One of the top financial software providers in the world, Intuit owns such popular solutions as QuickBooks, Quicken, and GoPayment. Intuit Payroll is provided both as part of QuickBooks and online. Intuit Online Payroll brings Cloud functionality to the software, providing mobile device access to allow payroll to be completed from anywhere.

Main Functionality of Intuit Online Payroll

Intuit Online Payroll automates the timekeeping and payment processes for an organization, providing an interface for easily entering each worker’s time each pay period. Once time is entered, payment is just one click away, making the payroll process quick and painless.

In addition to processing payroll, Intuit Online Payroll also provides the ability to print year-end W-2s in its enhanced version. When combined with the ability to automatically calculate and pay payroll taxes, these features alone offer time-saving benefits to businesses.

Benefits of Using Intuit Online Payroll

Whether it’s payday or tax time, Intuit Online Payroll keeps supervisors on track by sending e-mail reminders. One of the biggest benefits to Intuit’s Cloud-based payroll software is that it can be accessed using a mobile device. Because of its simple, straightforward interface, supervisors can input time and submit payment requests from anywhere–even while vacationing in the beach.

One of the best features of Intuit Online Payroll is its interaction with tax information. Payroll tax forms are automatically completed for employers and can be sent to the IRS online. Intuit Online Payroll can be used to process pay for both employees and contractors.

The Basics: What Does It Look Like?

On payday, supervisors will receive an e-mail notifying them it’s time to run payroll. Employers merely click on the link in the e-mail to go directly to their Intuit Online Payroll account. On this screen, the supervisor enters hours for each worker, along with any bonus pay, and clicks “Create Paychecks.”

Intuit Online Payroll Review – Tax Friendly Payroll Software image approve paychecks zpsa15f0cfd

Pay is calculated instantly and checks are sent via the method specified by the employer. Checks can be sent by direct deposit, formatted into a printable check, or printed as a pay stub from which employers can hand-write their own checks.

Intuit Online Payroll Review – Tax Friendly Payroll Software image intuit2 zps30365664

With Intuit’s reporting features, employers can get an overview of payroll information by check, deductions, tax liability, and more.

Intuit Online Payroll Review – Tax Friendly Payroll Software image reporting zpsb5dbe29a

Support Information

Through its Tax Help support section, Intuit provides a large number of “how to” articles to answer many user questions. But customers also have access to online chat with a representative, which appears every time a user is on the Intuit Payroll site. Lastly, online webinars and other training videos are available in the support section to walk consumers through using Intuit products.

Pricing Information

Basic plans start at only $20 per month, which includes paychecks only. To enjoy automatic tax calculations, users will have to upgrade to $28 per month.

The Bottom Line

Intuit’s interface is impressively easy to use, whether a supervisor is entering time using a PC or a mobile device. The e-mail reminders ensure employers never forget to process payroll or file the appropriate payroll taxes when they’re due. For businesses that employ contractors or employees, Intuit Online Payroll is an affordable solution that takes the pain out of processing payroll.

Ratings: ease of use 5/5, features 5/5, value 5/5

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After UK, France And Italy Pinterest Testing Localized Version For Japan

For a fact social networks know it very well that their next bunch of users are located in Asia. The three year old popular pinboard style photo sharing startup Pinterest, that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests, and hobbies is testing localized version for a set of users in Japan.

After UK, France And Italy Pinterest Testing Localized Version For Japan image Pinterest1

The story confirmed by The Bridge had conformation from a representative of the company who stated, “We’re thrilled at the enthusiasm from our growing community of Japanese pinners. We’re currently conducting a first test of a more localized service to some of these early adopters to get their feedback.”

The move comes just after the startup recently won a $225 million round of fresh equity funding that valued the network at $3.8 billion. Thus making Pinterest one of the most valuable privately held consumer internet companies in just two and half years after it secured its first round of venture capital financing in May 2011. The deal was led by Fidelity Investments Previous venture capital investors, including Bessemer Venture Partners, Firstmark Capital, Valiant Capital Management and Andreessen Horowitz.

The company had stressed the fact that the fresh round of capital will be used to expand internationally and develop its mobile apps. The company also highlighted major step into bringing the interest graph towards the rest of the world. With 125 percent growth in international traffic since the beginning of this year the company has planned to launch in a dozen more countries before the end of 2013.

With a presence already made in countries like UK, France, and Italy; the social network had shown its interest in Japan, when it raised money from Rakuten. So it would be interesting to observe where all the startup plans to spread in Asia and will it integrate with the eCommerce company to bring in the social experience to consumers.

Image courtesy: mkhmarketing

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Picking the Right Vehicle for the Zombie Apocalypse…

Here we have an infographic from the UK vehicle leasing professionals The Tilsun Group all about which vehicle would be the best for the zombie apocalypse including a list of pros and cons for each vehicle.

The 1st type of vehicle is an MPV with scores 5/10 because they are roomy enough, easy to modify, heavy enough to roll over zombies and quite fuel efficient.

Next up we have the minivan which only gets a 2/10 because they are useless for off road, slow and could easily tip when going round corners.

3rd we have the sports car that has a 4/10 and good because they are generally really fast. The problem is that they can only drive on roads and there is very little space for supplies, plus they use too much fuel.

The 4th car featured in the infographic is the 4×4 vehicle which gets a very high score of 8/10. The reasons a 4×4 is great for an apocalypse are they are excellent for off road, very strong, have a good amount of engine power, lots of room and they are reliable.

5th is the supercar which gets a terrible score of only 1/10. The reasons a supercar would suck so much for an apocalypse are they are not reliable, loud and brash and could attract zombies, low ground clearance, useless for off road, built for speed and rubbish MPG.

Surprisingly the electric car gets a very decent score of 7/10 because they are fuel efficient, fast enough to get you out of a jam and almost silent.

The saloon or hatchback a pretty good score of 6/10 because they are quite quick, fuel efficient, spare parts can be found easily and they have good maneuverability.

Finally we have the coach which gets an average score of 5/10. Good because they are roomy, easy to modify and can carry additional vehicles, but bad because they are useless off road, slow and use a lot of fuel.

Please let me know what you think about this infographic by leaving a comment or by posting on Facebook or twitter, check it out:

Picking the Right Vehicle for the Zombie Apocalypse... image b2c zombie

Infographic by The Tilsun Group

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Redefining Success as Social

Redefining Success as Social image 300px Diagram of a social network

Photo credit: Wikipedia

How important is it to one’s career to be involved in social networks and to keep a high profile? For brands, it is key and there are metrics to prove it. But the impact on individuals and their careers, while discussed a great deal, has been much less measured. Are we at a point where we need to redefine success to include network prominence and connections? And, what role will these things play in selecting the business leaders of tomorrow? There is a lot of experimentation going on with social technologies in organizations. While most have been proactive in adopting these technologies externally, there has recently been a lot innovation in using social technologies internally. While the consumerization of IT created expectations that individuals bring their own devices, the consumerization of HR is leading to more active employee participation in most aspect of the business and changes in everything from recruiting, to development to engagement. In a scenario that sounds a bit like Minority Report, recruiters now scan LinkedIn, assess who has been updating their LinkedIn profiles and how frequently and then proactively go after candidates, sometimes before these individuals even start looking for new jobs.

Crowdsourcing has become a new way to get talent. Firms like, Appirio, use communities of developers to compete for the right to obtain valuable software projects. In this way the company has access to a network of hundreds of talented individuals and those skilled employees can sell their services to any organizations that need their talents. The concept of an employee has been radically altered.

Performance management has also gone social. Gone, for most organizations, are the days when a single manager sat down once or twice a year with his or her employee and gave them a rating based only on management observation. While 360 degree feedback has been around while, a technology driven version known as instant 360 degree feedback has recently appeared. In these cases, feedback is provided using social networks, on an immediate and ongoing basis. Feedback can come from anyone, including other team members, clients, peers and leaders. Sometimes gamification is added, and employees earn badges for jobs well done. Social is not just for reviewing books and hotels, we now get a chance to review one another.

But what about promotions? Until recently, while social technologies were being used internally from everything from innovation to employee collaboration, promotional opportunities were still the domain of management and HR. Talent managers closely guarded their replacement charts and ranking for future promotional opportunities were kept top secret.

With the increasing use and prominence of social technologies and more open, transparent organizational cultures, this is beginning to change. One trend is to include in promotional decisions externally created, publically available measures, such as Klout scores. In these situations, success at work is contingent on how social and networked individuals are. And, these measures are public so that everyone in the organization can look them up to see how the competition is doing. Even more interesting is that these scores get used as criteria even if the social activities have nothing to do with the actual work performed. Being social, networked and out there is important just on its own! Network prominence has arrived as a key performance indicator.

So the next time you create content, post a picture on Pinterest or even review the latest movie, consider the fact that you may be improving your opportunity for your next promotion. With this as an incentive, I suspect we will see more activity and an increased focus on Klout and other scores. Success, has indeed, been redefined!

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Instructions Not Included: Comedy Proof of Latin@ Buying Power

Instructions Not Included: Comedy Proof of Latin@ Buying Power image instructions not included 300x161I’ve written about the growing buying power of the Latin@ demographic a couple of times before, but it’s suddenly come into even greater focus with the prominence of a new Mexican comedy-drama film, Instructions Not Included (in Spanish: No se aceptan devoluciones). If you have yet to hear of it, that’s okay – you may not be the film’s target audience. But its rise to setting the box office record for a Spanish language film is no accident. Let’s take a closer look at why.

Record Setting All Around

Surprise – not only has Instructions Not Included set a box office record for Spanish language films as the highest grossing ever released in the United States, passing even Pan’s Labyrinth. Instructions Not Included has also climbed to third place on the chart overall. The story? A Mexican bachelor who suddenly finds himself with a child and has to learn how to be a father.

What Does It Mean?

Believe it or not, Instructions Not Included owes its success to the rapidly growing bicultural market in the U.S. With more and more Americans as well as Latin@s living in the U.S. identifying as bi- or multicultural, the target audience for a film like Instructions Not Included is actually growing. With the Latin@ market worth $1 trillion, the film’s success just goes to show the value in reaching out to niche markets.

The star of the film, Eugenio Derbez, is a huge name in Mexico and with other Central and South American audiences. Derbez, who also directed the film, provided a built-in Latin@ fan base in the U.S. for the Instructions Not Included, but the film’s underlying themes of biculturalism can be seen even in the trailer. Simply put, Instructions Not Included is a film that reflects the time in which we live.

What has your brand done to reach out to niche markets? What kinds of successes have you seen?

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5 Reasons You Should Rebrand Now

It is important to understand what we mean by “branding” before diving into the warning signs. I would like to take an excerpt from one of my favorite branding books, Emotional Branding by Marc Gobe. The book is still a staple to understanding the concepts of emotional branding and marketing, even though it was written over a decade ago.

“Branding is not only about ubiquity, visibility, and functions; it is about bonding emotionally with people in their daily life. Only when a product or a service kindles an emotional dialogue with the consumer, can this product or service qualify to be a brand.”

A rebrand is about redesigning and rewriting your story. It isn’t enough to hire an agency to deliver new colors and a “cool new logo.” It is about redefining why you do business. It’s about changing with the consumer both technologically and commercially. So what are the five warning signs your business may need a rebrand?

1. Your logo resembles your eighties glamour shot. You all know what I’m talking about… that embarrassing photo with the big hair and bright clothes. The glamour shot didn’t work in the eighties and it doesn’t work now. If your brand is outdated it may be time to invest in a rebrand. This doesn’t have to be a logo rebrand as much as a story rewrite.

2. You are still using the tagline “Best Customer Service.” You must move from building an identity to having a personality. Having the “best customer service” does not differentiate you from the competition. Everyone has the best customer service. It is about not focusing entirely on brochures, direct mail, and banners but driving towards the customer experience. Do you have the best experience than any other brand? Are you the go-to choice?

Want an excellent example of a brand pushing the boundaries of experiences and service? Just look to your local Starbucks. Employees are trained to remember names, drinks, and overall preferences of customers walking in the store. They are committed to the overall experience of each store instead of building a great ad campaign. Actions speak much louder than words.

3. You must advance to reach new audiences. Phil Daniels of Tactic Marketing said it best, “As a company grows, its brand can change and stand for something different from its humble beginnings. Brands advance to reach new audiences; the challenge is to introduce a position that resonates and connects with them.” The saying “change or die” works pretty well here. You must advance your brand look and story to be innovative in the digital world of today.

4. You start statements with “we think” or “I imagine” when discussing strategy. You believe your opinion is more important than the market. I always like to say that data beats opinions. If you are using past experience and subjectivity to keep your old brand, it may be time for an upgrade.

5. Your business plan should be poised towards the future. MBC Strategic says, “Revisit overarching goals to see where you are generating the most results. Examining sales and market share can provide significant insight into business success. The degree at which you meet your business goals can be a direct result of your marketing and communications efforts.” If your brand does not align with business goals each side will falter while moving through the fast-paced business world. Your core strength (brand) is important to fully reach your customers. If you fail to reach and communicate your core strength to your customers you will fall short.

Remember, the term rebrand does not necessarily apply to design changes. It is much more than that. It is about the consumer experience and the story around that experience. Your customer is your best sales person, do not let them go silently into the wind. They will give you your brand and your voice.

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How to Boost Your Team’s Engagement Using the Global Trends Report

How to Boost Your Team’s Engagement Using the Global Trends Report image How to Boost Your Teams Engagement Using the Global Trends Report 200x162In Aon Hewitt’s 2013 Trends in Global Employee Engagement report, a grim portrait of the post-recession business world emerges. Right in the introduction, better employee engagement is cited as the solution to our current ills.

“Pay freezes, benefit cuts and layoffs are still at the forefront of many employees’ thinking. Additionally, the continued high rates of unemployment, lack of hiring, and extended hiring cycles for open positions create further stress and uncertainty for employees, making it more difficult to achieve or maintain healthy levels of engagement.

Striving to maintain a higher level of employee engagement not only contributes toward short-term survival during economic volatility, but also is a key factor for longer-term business performance and better positioning when market conditions become favorable. The companies that get engagement right can enjoy a surplus of competitive advantage in talent strategy and business results that is hard for others to replicate.”

Improvements in Overall Work Experience

The annual study of more than 2,500 organizations representing 3.8 million employees found that employee engagement levels rose to 60 percent in 2012, up from 58 percent in 2011 and 56 percent in 2010.

The way employees perceive their overall work experience also improved in 2012. Areas with the highest increases in employee perception scores were:

  • Effective communication (+7 percentage points)

  • Business unit/division leadership (+6 percentage points)

  • Managing performance (+5 percentage points)

  • Innovation (+5 percentage points)

  • Recognition (+5 percentage points)

Engagement scores dropped in the areas of:

  • Sense of accomplishment (-3 percentage points)

  • Customers (-3 percentage points)

  • Organization reputation (-2 percentage points)

Engagement Varies By Region

The largest engagement increases were in Europe (improving 5 percentage points) and Latin America (improving 3 percentage points). In North America, engagement dropped slightly to 63 percent, the lowest score since 2008. Asia Pacific’s engagement scores remained consistent with those from 2011.

Engagement Levels By Region Region 2011 2012 Globally 58% 60% North America 64% 63% Asia Pacific 58% 58% Europe 52% 57% Latin America 71% 74%

Engagement Varies By Level and Generation

Aon Hewitt’s analysis showed differences in engagement levels by job level and generation. Not surprisingly, executives and senior managers were the most engaged (66 percent), followed by middle managers, team leaders and supervisors. Professional employees, such as engineers, lawyers and nurses, had the lowest level of engagement globally, with only around 55 percent being engaged.

Substantial differences in engagement by generation were also identified. Baby Boomers had the highest level of engagement, with 65 percent engaged, followed by Generation X (58 percent) and Millennials (55 percent).

How to Boost Your Team’s Engagement

It is well known that engagement drives performance and productivity, and as a leader, you are likely to experience the highest ROI if you take ownership of engagement and focus on improving the following drivers:

  • Career Opportunities: For the fifth consecutive year, career opportunities remained the top driver to positively impact overall engagement levels for all regions but Latin America. Yet, less than half of employees (47 percent) think they have good advancement opportunities at their organization.

  • Reputation: According to Aon Hewitt, just 52 percent of employees know what their organization wants to be known for, yet this is the second most important engagement driver globally. Without a clear and concise organizational response to this question, it is difficult to attract, retain and engage the talent needed for organizational success.

  • Pay: Globally, pay as an engagement driver has been on the rise in importance over the last two years.

  • Recognition: According to Aon Hewitt’s analysis, employees want recognition for their performance and recognition for how difficult things have been. However, only 48 percent of employees think their employer currently recognizes this type of extra effort.

  • Communication: Aon Hewitt’s analysis shows only half of employees around the world think their company is effective at communicating with employees. Engaging communication that tells employees about the organization, where they fit in and the path forward goes a long way in making employees feel like they are adding value and contributing to the bottom line.

  • Enabling Performance: A little over half (55 percent) of employees say they have the tools and resources needed to perform effectively in their organization. Simply removing barriers to performance, such as clarifying goals, reducing process complexity and ensuring that technology supports productivity, will help decrease anxiety, stress and frustration and fully unlock an individual’s potential and performance.

Have you seen an upturn – or downturn – in your team’s engagement over the last year? What do you think is the cause?

How to Boost Your Team’s Engagement Using the Global Trends Report image d3b4139c 0ab9 45de 9284 ec02092c6be01

How to Boost Your Team’s Engagement Using the Global Trends Report image fe619565 610d 410e a464 c15fe148898b14

via Business 2 Community