Advertorious

Advertorious News & Blog

Results for category "Marketing"

Use This Blog Article Checklist Before You Publish

advertorious 0 Comments

checklistThinking about starting a blog? Jump on the bandwagon. There has never been another time when we have created more content as a society. TechCrunch reports that every two days we create as much information as we did from the beginning up until the year 2003.

If this number does not stop you in your tracks I am not sure what will, digitally. The digital and social generation that we live in today is all about creating content. So let’s take the last 100 years for example. In 1914, they were writing about Henry Ford offering workers $5/day, an unheard of amount, to work in his factories. In 2014, we are creating more content than ever. In 2114, we need to allow our grand children, great grand children and great great grandchildren something good to read.

With that, the time is now to get to work. After reading through and reviewing quite a large number of blog articles over the years I have noticed many inconsistencies. The following list, not in any order, should be reviewed before you publish any article to a personal or company blog:

  • Spell check your post: This is a grate place to start but is just one small step. Remember, spell cheek does not catch everything. Notice what I did there?
  • Re-read the article for clarity.
  • Check for grammar, spelling or punctuation errors: Once you read through it once you should find most of these corrections. However, you may have to go through it more than once, especially if you wrote the article. Your eyes will start to glaze over the simplest things.
  • Make sure an image is included: This is so important in the visual world in which we live in.
  • Check images for copyright infringement: If you do not pay for stock images you need to be careful n this one. if you pull images down from the internet chances are they may be copyrighted. Filter the images you pull to make sure they are okay to share.
  • Ensure that all links are functional.
  • Check your word count: The target range is 400-800 words. Two short and you may not get your point across. Too long and nobody will read it.
  • Check formatting: Make sure there is consistency throughout.
  • Have keywords and tags been used? This is one of the most important things to incorporate for your SEO.
  • Does the title and/or subtitle clearly communicate what the post is about? The eye catcher. Bring them in. Get them sleepy – very, very sleepy.

If you didn’t write the article, check these things too:

  • Verify the author’s name & credentials are correct.
  • Add (and verify) any referenced sources.
  • Check for plagiarism: Try a free plagiarism checking website such as http://www.duplichecker.com. I once reviewed an article on plagiarism that was 96% plagiarized. The other 45 was the person’s name and title.

What else would you add to this list?

Branding the Cambridge Satchel Company: An Exclusive Interview with Founder Julie Deane

advertorious 0 Comments
Photo credit: John Phillips/PA

Photo credit: John Phillips/PA

Building an idea from your kitchen table and turning it into a boutique international brand with presences at stores like Bloomingdales is no easy feat. It takes determination, planning, and a little ingenuity. Meet Julie Deane. She was a stay-at-home mom and started the Cambridge Satchel Company to get her daughter into private school to avoid the bullying of her public school classmates. That was five years ago. Since then her business has been growing by leaps and bounds. I sat down with Julie to discuss her business, her brand, and her future.

Don: In the beginning you came up with a list of 10 ideas to raise money to get your daughter into private school. What made you think selling a brand of vintage-inspired satchels would work?

Julie: I had been looking for four or five months before I started the business for satchels because I don’t like this whole throwaway society. The whole approach to not caring or respecting a product because you are going to throw it away bothers me. I really do not like it. My children were going through the stages of wanting a school bag with some sort of motif on it, such as High School Musical. They would like it one year, then the next year they wouldn’t like it so they would want a new bag. The whole way these types of things get labeled gives them a really short shelf life. There is also the aspect that I like things to look clean, tidy, and smart for a long time. School bags today are made out of nylon and they look all scuffed up and are hard to clean, making them grubby looking. I kept thinking about when I was in school having a leather satchel and it looked as good on the last day as it did the first day. It was my school bag for the whole way through. It was not labeling me with trying to tell the world what I liked at the time; it was just a really good bag. I wanted my children to have something like that. They were reading Harry Potter at the time so to connect to them I said “Oh my gosh, Harry Potter. I am telling you that is a boy that would have had a satchel with that Hogwarts school uniform.” That is when they decided that is what they wanted. When I tried to get them a leather satchel they just were not being made at that time in the UK. To me that was such a shame because it is a lovely, clean design. That is why it made the list.

Don: That is wonderful. It sounds like you really just found a niche and focused on your passion.

Julie: Yes. Actually, I grew up in South Wales and lots of people close to us worked in the coal mines. There was a period in UK history where we had Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister and she shut down the mines. So many people lost their jobs and whole villages just became really sad places with houses worth very little. To grow up experiencing something like that gives me a huge love of manufacturing and bringing these manufacturing jobs to the UK. It is especially rewarding being able to meet the people making the bags.

Don: What would you be doing if you had picked something else off your list?

Julie: I know exactly what I would have ended up doing if my family and I still lived in the United States. I am an obsessive gardener and I have a really nice little British-English garden. It gives me a huge amount of enjoyment. When we lived in the U.S., I thought, “So many of these houses do not even have a fence between them and their neighbor. They are not claiming their space or making it their own.” I was always so passionate about how much more beautiful those lovely houses could have been if the outdoor space reflected the people inside the houses. With that in mind I would have had some sort of landscaping type of company in the U.S.

Don: Wow. That is obviously very different than creating satchels, and probably less lucrative.

Julie: I don’t know about that. If you are good enough, you can do more than just dig a border and put in a few plants for people. If you are doing more than just lawn and garden maintenance by creating this wow factor around that house, I think that could be a fantastic business.

Don: That sounds like a testament to the passion you have for your ideas. So, other than getting your daughter into private school, what has been the second most rewarding achievement of starting this business?

Julie: That is a really easy one because without realizing it, one of the best things that’s happened because of this business is from day one my mum has been really involved. She has helped with everything from choosing new colors to packing the bags to helping me take them to the post office. She has been there every single day. Maybe even more important, the thing it has done for her is give her a new lease on life. She is in her seventies now and she has been given opportunities to do things and actually participate in life instead of staying retired, sitting and watching television all day. People go downhill if they do that.

Don: That is great that you are so close with her and let her get that involved in your business.

Julie: About a year ago, my mum and I won the Red Hot Women award for Red magazine. My mum said, “Oh my gosh, I’m a red hot woman and I’m I my seventies. How about that?” We have also been invited to have coffee with Samantha Cameron, spouse of UK Prime Minister David Cameron, at 10 Downing Street. To be able to do something like that with your mum…it is really getting so involved in life, taking a chance and really throwing yourself at it with a passion instead of doing just enough to get by. Those are the moments that make it worthwhile.
Don: That is absolutely amazing. This is definitely an inspiring story. The majority of people would not let their parents get involved so closely in a business like this. It is great to hear that it is still happening.

Julie: Yes, she is brilliant. When people get to a certain age, many would rather not leave the workforce and have an enforced retirement. Some may very well want to take it easy or travel but for my mum that would have been an absolutely awful thing. She is so sociable and brings so much to the company that by shutting her out we would have been much less of a business. We would have been the ones missing out.

Don: That is really wonderful to hear. You have created such a lucrative business based solely upon satchels. Do you see any brand extensions in the future?

Julie: Yes, we have a new shaped bag and an absolutely beautiful clutch bag that we showed for the first time at the shop opening last month and it was very well received. We need to look at interesting ways of getting better yields from the leather we use for the satchels, and with that in mind, smaller leather goods may make a lot of sense. We are proud to have acquired a fantastic new colleague who will join the team very soon as a product developer.

Don: Does your daughter, Emily, show any interest in the family business?

Julie: Actually yes, she is fantastic. She is 13 now; she was 8 when this business started. The thing about Emily is that she knows that this business was set up to help her and she has never forgotten that. Every school holiday she comes to work with me to get involved and help out. She is amazing. She can answer customer service email, she will help out with the mailings, she can do inspections and many other things because she’s been involved since the very start. I do not think there is anybody that I have met outside of my mum who can take a satchel and look at it with such a critical eye and within seconds say if there is a fault or any sort of flaw in it.

Don: It sounds like your daughter is very grounded and shares a lot of the same traits as you and your mother do.

Julie: Emily has the best elements of everybody in our family. She has my husband’s patience, my love of the business and analytical way of looking at it, and she has my mum’s good nature. She has been blessed with the best traits. Then we have my son Max and if there is anybody who was born to be in PR and brand representation, it is him. He could sell a satchel to anybody. We did a thank-you tea party for the bloggers last February in New York at Alice’s Tea Cup. As I was saying goodbye to somebody outside my little boy came out with his little suit on and said to me, “I’ve sold 5 bags to the bloggers, is that sort of where you were pitching it or should I get back in there?” [laughs] I said, “No, it was supposed to be a thank-you tea party, you weren’t supposed to be in there selling bags.”

Don: That is very cute. So with that, where do you see yourself and the business in the next five years?

Julie: Google decided to make us the face of Google Chrome for the UK and Europe and because of that I get an enormous amount of email from all sorts of people. Most of them want to start their own business and ask me for advice on certain ideas. I also go to quite a few schools speaking to those with an interest in starting a business and answering their questions. I really like being involved with that and doing that kind of thing. I think the big challenge for Cambridge Satchel Company is to continue to build a team with really strong skills. When you grow a new business so quickly it is very hard to maintain a team with a strong framework to keep pace with your growth. It is trying to grow the business while still keeping the culture that we have.

Don: Now you said they made you the face of Google Chrome for the UK and Europe. How did that come about?

Julie: Google heard the story of how I started the business with just £600 (roughly USD 906), never having borrowed or having investors. It was simply based on my story of me doing everything from the kitchen table on the computer. It was all done from home from finding manufacturing, contacting bloggers, getting photos up on the website, and everything else. It shows what can be done online. They really liked the story and it fits in well with their slogan, the web is what you make of it. Today, it has over 4.7 million hits on YouTube with just six months in, so it has done really well. This is fairly new. It was only in September 2012 they launched the video. Our U.S. website launched a couple of weeks ago. We’re just about to move into a new factory as well so it all seems to be happening at the moment.

Don: Keep up the momentum! What advice would you give to other stay-at-home-moms (and dads) with an entrepreneurial spirit who are thinking of starting a new brand or business?

Julie: I don’t care what anybody says, it has never been easier to start a business than it is right now. Mainly because of the Internet and so many free resources available. Most people nowadays, even if they do not have Internet access in their homes can get it through a community center or local resource. It is accessible, so there is really no excuse. Stop reading the books. People need a deadline of some kind. For me it was the deadline of the school summer holiday so I needed to do it quickly. The key is to stop waiting until you think you have time and just get on with it.

From its founding at Julie Deane’s kitchen table in 2008 to the multi-million-pound business it is today, the Cambridge Satchel Company is still the same company that bloggers and fashionistas originally fell in love with. Julie has stayed amazingly grounded after the numerous awards and press. That is what makes her brand so amazing. She puts her whole self into the company and produces a good, honest product. Julie Deane leaves us with this great thought that challenges us to get up and start moving with our ideas: We will never have enough time. And what exactly is enough time? Julie started her business in the time her daughter was off from school in the summer — talk about motivation!

Read my entire interview on Talent Zoo at: http://www.talentzoo.com/news/Branding-the-Cambridge-Satchel-Company-An-Exclusive-Interview-with-Founder-Julie-Deane/17134.html 

Ford’s Gone Scrappy

advertorious 0 Comments

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

Home Depot Helps in the Sand(y) Box

advertorious 0 Comments

Hurricane, Superstorm, Frankenstorm. Whatever you call it, Hurricane Sandy is taking the East Coast by surprise. The is the biggest storm that this portion of America has seen since 1820. And who is there to help when others are running away? Home Depot.home-depot-logo

Home Depot has done a great job of marketing itself as a sort of storm headquarters. They are able to make supplies available such as batteries, generators, flashlights, chain saws, and the like, when others cannot. When Hurricane Irene came around the Home Depot increased their quarterly sales by a full percentage point. By the looks of things, Home Depot’s sales will be through the roof once again.

According to an Ad Age article entitled, How Adland Is Weathering Hurricane Sandy, Home Depot had this comment:

“Our goal is to be the last to close and the first to open. We stay open as long as we can, as long as it is safe for our associates to be there,” said Meghan King, a spokeswoman with Home Depot. “On the other hand, many stores have extended their hours to serve customers as long as possible. Hurricane planning is a year-round exercise for us, so our operations, merchandising and store teams know what to do and when to do it,” Ms. King added.

Home Depot has not only performed well at the retail level but they have also created their own hurricane command center. Doug Spiron, Captain of the Home Depot Command Center, said they are open 24/7 preparing for the storm. They have adequately supplied the stores in preparation for Hurricane Sandy and have trucks on hold to push more supplies into these areas. Watch the entire video interview with Doug here: http://video.foxbusiness.com/v/1932487849001/

When Home Depot is there, rooted in these areas that are desperate for supplies, customers will remember. They will remember Home Depot’s far-reaching social responsibility. Companies such as this that are good corporate citizens create lasting relationships with the communities in which they reside. Home Depot has done this and continues to do this in the wake of natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy.

Home Depot is a great example of how a solid marketing plan and dedication to social responsibility can not only be good for the public but also good for the corporate brand. They know that if you need help you will look for the infamous orange aprons.

What other companies have you seen that are taking a similar approach?

Where Do Great Ideas Come From?

advertorious 0 Comments

Do you ever catch yourself asking someone “How did you think of that?” We all have. It is always a great question because it helps you understand how people think – if they answer it honestly. Although, most of the time the answer is “it just came to me.”lightbulb

So how did they think of that great idea? I have gathered 5 eye-opening points that have helped me stay creative over the years.

  1. Diversify yourself. Step outside of your comfort zone. If you only watch sports, try watching a chick flick. If you go home every day after work, take up a hobby or two. If you make a ham sandwich for lunch everyday, go out. You get the idea. The key is that you need to keep yourself diversified. Try as many different things as you can. Take beer for example. You like to enjoy an ice-cold beer on a Friday night, right? You have choices. Instead of going home and pulling another cold one from the fridge you could go to the corner brewery. You could also dress up a little and go to Cliff Bell’s and listen to some great jazz while enjoying that brew or an old-fashioned. When you diversify yourself you open your eyes to things you may not normally think of or pay attention to. Anything can spark an idea. If you do the same things every day you are stuck in one target market that you may never be trying to appeal to. In turn, the ideas that you come up with may only appeal to your specific market and not necessarily the target market you are shooting for.
  2. Go outside. When is the last time you took a walk around the block or a bike ride? It seems really simple but it opens your mind. Just sitting at your desk does not always cut it. Sights, sounds, textures, and the like spark things in your mind. Have you ever heard of the American Family Life Assurance Company? Not unless I said AFLAC. In one of my graduate branding courses we learned the story of the AFLAC duck. How did they come up with that idea? The creatives at Kaplan Thaler went to lunch in an outdoor patio. They saw a duck. They kept repeating the word AFLAC. It started to sound like a duck. The rest is history. After they spent countless hours of brainstorming, all it took was them to take a walk outside and go to lunch. Go outside.
  3. Research other industries.  If you are in automotive do not just look for other ideas in the automotive circles. Look at the ideas that are being developed in other industries and see how it can relate your own. I am by no means telling you to steal someone’s idea. What I am telling you is to see how you can learn from it and potentially apply it to something else. You can always learn from others. The day you stop learning is the day you have failed yourself.
  4. Keep notes. I have probably lost more good ideas than I could ever remember. The problem is that I did not write them down. Type it, write it, scribble it, draw it, whatever works. Just get it down on paper. Even though the idea may not be the best idea now it may spark something else or you may see it in a different light later.  A good friend of mine was stuck in traffic a couple of months ago and out of nowhere came up with one of the best ideas I have heard in quite a while, a real game changer. By the time he was out of the backup he had already written down page after page of notes in an old notebook he kept for that very purpose. Don’t let the ideas slip away.
  5. Listen. Whether it is a story, a newscast,  or your spouse, yes your spouse, listen. I like to bounce ideas off my friends too. Listen to what they have to say. There is always something that you may not have thought of or an angle you have never ventured toward before. Everyone’s mind works differently. Listening is what helps fine tune your idea from what would be very good to something remarkable.

Reflect on these points from time to time. Stay hungry. Keep your mind sharp. That next great idea is just around the corner. What else do you do to keep your creative side fulfilled?

If you tweet it, they will read it.

advertorious 0 Comments

Is your social media coordinator qualified to speak for your brand? Have you ever actually thought about it?

1030887_53077079Social networking has been one of the number one things companies and ad agencies are focusing on today. Nearly everything is digital and has to happen now. This isn’t a bad thing, it just opens up to a new type of thinking. We need to remember that social networking is no longer just an add-on. It is a very large part of your company. Anything that is posted via social media from your corporate account represents your company. It is the quickest way to talk to your fan base.

If you tweet it, they will read it. Really think about that. We need to choose wisely when allowing someone to run your social media accounts. They speak for the entire brand. I cannot stress that enough. The reason I am focusing on this so much is because of a few recent instances of social media neglect. This neglect leads to a whole lot of crisis management. Here are two examples:

  1. Kitchenaid’s presidential election woes. The perpetweeter, person who tweets for a company and commits a social crime,  thought they were logged into their own personal profile. They were wrong. Logged into the company account, they continue on a derogatory rant about President Obama tagging #nbcpolitics via @KitchenAidUSA. Read the entire story here. This is where you must separate work and home life. Up until this point it seems as if a majority of social media is being updated by lower level coordinators instead of strategic thinkers. Although Kitchenaid did a good job cleaning up this mess, it was tweeted and it was read.
  2. Kim Kardashian inspired “Aurora” dress from Celeb Boutique. The shooting in Aurora, Colorado during a midnight screening of the Batman movie “Dark Knight Rises” was a horrible tragedy. The perpetweeter updating the Celeb Boutique twitter profile had no idea what had happened. They saw ‘Aurora’ as a trending topic and without looking into it further tweeted about the Kim Kardashian inspired Aurora dress. Read the entire story here. Before you make comments that can affect an entire company you must at least do a small amount of background research. It was tweeted and it was read.

With our evolving digital landscape there needs to be someone highly qualified sending out the tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram photos, and anything else that touches your target audience. You should treat this as carefully as you would treat a press release or press conference. Just because a person has a Facebook profile doesn’t make them a social media guru. It doesn’t matter what age the person running your social media is. All that matters is the experience that they have and the intimate understanding of your business and industry. Do your research and select a qualified person(s) to update your social accounts. Make sure this person understands your brand and maintains the professionalism your brand deserves. The time to act on this is before something happens.

What steps will you take to make sure your social media coordinator is qualified?