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Monthly archives "November 2012"

Branding from Design to Retail: Apple Shows the Future

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appleIt is 5AM. Black Friday. They still have a turkey hangover but wake up anyway with coupons in hand to get the best deals in sight. We as marketers push out all the advertising in sight to get people to buy certain products and go to certain stores. It is the one day of year that consumers are guaranteed to wake up at all hours of the night to go shopping to get a few extra dollars off of their gifts. While strolling through the mall, there is one store in particular that has no deep discounts, but ironically is the most crowded. The Apple Store.

The in-store experience at Apple is the ultimate definition of experiential marketing in retail. The store is very refined and classically modern. The Apple store in fact looks and feels like one big Apple device. Like his products, Steve Jobs wanted everything simple and sleek. In an article in the Smithsonian Magazine, Walter Isaacson said this of Jobs: “He embraced minimalism, which came from his Zen devotion to simplicity.” Jobs himself said, “The way we’re running the company, the product design, the advertising, it all comes down to this: Let’s make it simple. Really simple.”

Simple is certain. There are no registers. No lines. No piles of items thrown a-strew. No pushy people on cell phones with overloaded carts standing in front of you with a crying baby arguing over a price check. Granted, the store is crowded and there are lots of people. However, Jobs again shows us the future with some revolutionary changes that many retailers could potentially see in the not-so-distant future, such as:

  1. Every product in the store has an iPad as its sign showing the price point and options of the item.
  2. There are at least 20 clerks walking around the store answering questions. Each of these clerks is equipped with an iPhone that is used to scan the item and check out the customer via debit or credit card. For those who want to pay with cash there are a few hidden cash drawers around the store that are built into some of the displays. The displays are so sleek you would never notice the cash drawers until one was opened.
  3. Discounts are minimized but demand is so high that consumers purchase anyway. In the early days of retail a huge sale did not need to happen every day. Jobs has pulled this thinking back in by making a superior product and selling at a reasonable price.

The future is not George Jetson-style flying cars or space suits. It is high-tech products with impeccable sleek design. It is stores that do not have lines wrapping around the building. It is branding your product from design through retail in a cohesive and desirable fashion. Apple again sends the rest of us the big question: Are we doing it all wrong?

Article originally published on Beneath the Brand at: http://www.talentzoo.com/beneath-the-brand/blog_news.php?articleID=16062

Tweets DO NOT = Mine

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Tweets = mine. You see it the Twitter profile of thousands, but are they really yours? The answer is “no.”

Tweets are only kept to yourself and a close group of friends if you have a private profile. However, if your profile is public, the tweets are never really yours. There are many instances when individuals get in a good amount of trouble for tweets posted. Sometimes they mistakenly post a personal tweet with the corporate or client account and sometimes it is related to their own personal account. No matter if you are the janitor, the brand manager, or the CEO, what you say can have a positive or in some cases very negative effect on a brand.

Here are a couple of cases when an individual’s tweets had some very negative effects for the brand they represent.

  1. The not-so-personal account. James Andrews of Ketchum PR hurt the reputation of his PR firm when he posted this tweet “True confession but I’m in one of those towns where I scratch my head and say ‘I would die if I had to live here!’” What he didn’t realize is that some employees of FedEx read this tweet when he landed in Memphis for corporate training on social media. FedEx fired Ketchum as a direct result. FedEx, being based in Memphis, cares very much about their hometown. When Andrew was speaking he represented FedEx as a brand even though he did not realize it. Read about the incident in Memphis’ Commercial Appeal.
  2. The oops-I-forgot-I-was-logged-into-the-corporate-account. Chrysler has had its fair share of issues over the last five years. The last thing they needed was somebody speaking negatively for their brand. However, the employee managing the Chrysler Twitter account made a mistake. Instead of posting to their personal account, they tweeted this message from the Chrysler corporate account: “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f#@%ing drive.” The company handling the Chrysler account, New Media Strategies, was fired immediately from the account. The person that made the mistake was also fired from New Media Strategies. Read about the whole incident here.

Why do these events matter to a brand? Twitter is public. Everyone can read it, and they do. Especially when you think they’re not reading or they won’t see it if you delete it really quickly. Think about when you were younger and your mom would tell you, “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say it at all.” That applies to social media, especially when you represent a brand.

How will you change the way you communicate on social media?

Article originally published on the Talent Zoo blog Beneath the Brand here:  http://www.talentzoo.com/beneath-the-brand/blog_news.php?articleID=15965

Guest Post: Who Do You Run With?

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runBy Steffen Dziczek

I’m not talking about your Couch to 5K Buddies or P90X playmates. No. I’m talking about your entire “pack” that surrounds you. Who have you chosen to surround yourself with? Now, this brings me to another very important and often over looked question; where am I going? Where do I want to be in 3 years, 5 years, a decade? We all know, and if you don’t this article might be an “Aha!” moment.

Life is interdependent. Some slogans tell you to live for now and its all about you, you, and only you. I challenge you to try that for a day and watch your friends fade and your work associates rant behind your back. Maybe it might even land you a comfy seat at the unemployment office come Monday morning because you decided to show up at work 2 hours late with a boom box playing the 2001 Space Odyssey wearing nothing but Sponge Bob boxers. But, hey, you’re living for you, right? Wrong. We need not only to be independent to the point we can pull our own weight, but also recognize we need others strengths where we are weak.

Who we run with currently does not have to be whom we run with in the future. If you dream of being successful at business, then surround yourself with people who are wiser and more successful at business. If you want to be a marketing director then surround yourself with people and knowledge about marketing and leadership. Don’t settle for being an employee; raise the bar to become a team member. I want to take a second to define employee verse team member. An employee is someone who shows up inconsistently on time, punches in, does what he/she has to do, and punches out. They are comfortable enough to stay but not uncomfortable enough to leave. However, a team member shows up early with an air of enthusiasm, because they know that at the end of the day they were a part of something greater than themselves. They are part of a team making a difference. They run with similar people. They are inline with their passions. Not only with themselves, but also with others who they surround themselves with five, maybe even six, days a week.

Are you a thoroughbred running with petting farm ponies, or are you running in your own Kentucky Derby? Are you running with like-minded people in all aspects of your life; personally, professionally and socially? I highly challenge you to take the time to ask yourself where you want to be and where you are going? Once you have the answer, then its time to execute with your inner thoroughbred compass. Yes, you may have to decline the weekly all-night beer pong competitions with your old college roomies because you meet at 7am with other industry leaders in your field for coffee on Saturday mornings. They may take it personally, but you have to stay your course and run like your life depended on it.

I guarantee, looking back, the things that were pleasure centered will not matter. Steve Jobs said, “ We can only connect the dots looking backward.” Stay focused. Stay determined. Start right now making those dots count. Hurry, the race has already begun!

Steffen Dziczek currently resides in Los Angeles, California. He’s a Detroit native, a place he will always call home. Steffen is an innovator, entrepreneur, and a teacher at heart. When he’s not busy building sustainable business’s for the future you can find him traveling, playing the drums, golfing and seeking out new experiences. Lastly, he relishes any chance to give back and volunteers his time at local community food banks. Be sure to check out his upcoming blog, Go Humans Go!

Ford’s Gone Scrappy

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Engagement. That is one of the key ideas behind getting consumers involved in your brand. After the American auto industry had their troubles, Ford had to reinvent the way it did its marketing or it would fail. One of the ways they did it was through engagement.

In a presentation at Madonna University by Jim Farley, Group Vice President, Global Marketing, Sales, and Service at Ford Motor Company, he said the company is “…very scrappy. Big, but scrappy.” What Farley meant by being scrappy is that the company changed their thoughts towards marketing. “When I came, marketing was an afterthought to sales,” he said. Farley changed all that. Ford had little time and money to get it right. They had to think on their feet and did not have any room for error.

Error they did not. Farley mentioned a number of scrappy marketing things the automaker did to reinvent the brand. These stood out the most:

  1. Focus ST Commercial: Ford closed down the streets at night in Key West. They brought in two new Focus STs and professional drivers. People gathered in the streets to watch the ‘race.’ Ford then asked those who came out to take video with their phones. Onlookers sent the videos to Ford and in the end it was the first user-generated cell phone commercial. It cost Ford virtually nothing. Watch the commercial.
  2. Focus Movement: In the Focus Movement, Ford launched the 2012 Ford Focus with Doug the Puppet. This was the first launch of a car by way of sock puppet. Scrappy? I think so.
  3. Mustang Customizer: Ford launched the Mustang Customizer, where consumers can go to the website and create their own new dream Mustang. Each week they list the fan-generated car of the week on their Facebook page. Ford’s success with this customizer has gone so big that it has pushed Mustang to have the largest following of any car in the world on Facebook with 4.58 million likes and counting.
  4. Random Acts of Fusion: For Random Acts of Fusion, Ford hired Ryan Seacrest and Joel McHale to give away 100 brand-new Ford Fusions all across America. The pair are giving away cars quicker than Elvis gave away Cadillacs. Along the way, Ford is filming a documentary. One look at ‘Random Acts‘ and you can tell that it is a brand builder that is revolutionary for the likes of an automaker.

These are just four examples of Ford’s brand-building success. Every example has a couple things in common. One, it has never been done in the industry before. It is socially engaging. It is out-of-the-box. It also hits its target market dead on. Farley’s bet on keeping the big automaker’s marketing ‘scrappy’ was what some in the beginning may have seen as risky, but it paid off.

What ways could being scrappy pay off for other brands?

Article originally published on the Talent Zoo at: http://www.talentzoo.com/beneath-the-brand/blog_news.php?articleID=15901

Know The Past to Look Ahead

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“The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.” At the time Winston Churchill uttered those words I doubt he considered that he would be contributing to the world of social media. In fact, in his time ‘twitter’ meant to utter successive chirping noises. Fast forward to the 21st century and everything lives and dies on social media. Everyone wants to have the next trending topic and be the first to break the next big story. This content creation generation that we live in can at times be a double-edged sword.

Google the term ‘social media fail.’ What do you see? 154,000,000 results. That’s a lot of issues that public relations executives simply would not have had to deal with 10 years ago. This is the doubled-edged sword I am referring to. Social media has increased the visibility of many organizations by leaps and bounds. This is why we need to be careful. The person that is moderating your social media speaks for your brand. When you Google your company name the last thing you want to see besides it is #fail.

So now you ask, how do we stay away from the dreaded #fail? It is easy.

  1. Do your homework. The solutions, issues, and lessons are out there. It is your job to learn from them. Study the epic fails. What did they have to do to come back from it. Have they come back from it? Knowing this information can help you not only learn from someone else’s experiences but it may open your eyes to a way of dealing with a situation that you would have never thought of.
  2. Plan ahead. Plan your social media posts and framework in advance. Taking on the task of planning this out allows more time in the future to continue the conversation on the social networks. Of course when a hot topic is trending you simply cannot plan ahead. However, what you can do is your homework on the topic before you post. You may also actually have something in the queue that is relevant to the trending topic that you could bump up.
  3. Double check. Before any posting material, know what you are posting. It seems simple but it makes a difference. Double check things that are controllable such as tone, links, punctuation and spelling. Even if you have checked previously give it another look before you post. Also, double-check what is not controllable such as the trending topic that you are commenting on. Do not make the same mistake as Celeb Boutique with their #Aurora social media fail. They forgot the homework and did not do much planning for what would come next.

We are working in a content era where everything has a very short shelf life. The mistakes are being made by professionals around the world on a daily basis. Now I leave it to you. Would you rather make the mistake yourself, potentially losing your job and hurting the company’s image? Or, would you rather take the advice of Sir Winston Churchill and study the past to build the future? I choose the latter.

Read my original guest blog post on the Eastern Michigan University PRSSA blog: http://emuprssa.com/2012/11/06/guest-blog-don-mclean-know-the-past-to-look-ahead/