Practicing Clichés

by mikol 28. August 2013 15:36

You can't just execute an idea that worked for someone else and expect it to perform better for you.  This is how best practices get people in trouble; an idea, concept, campaign, etc, turns into a practice, diminishing opportunities for innovation and creativity. Unfortunately, finding a great example of this scenario is as easy as looking at many companies' implementation of social media. While I don't disagree with many common social media practices, I do think that one way companies are still stumbling into social is by simply practicing what worked for others.

I'm sure I'm not the only one that found this out by example, "the Top 10 Steps to More Facebook Likes" may not actually bring you more followers. We live in an era of informational noise, and it gets worse when you look at the marketing world (I won't even start on the social media marketing portion of that globe). For every "way to make your brand's Twitter influential" you try, there are probably thousands of other "gurus" employing the same tactic. As Jeremiah Owyang puts it in this interview by Markie Marketo, "Social can be used for many permeations of business goals, and it'll continue to change. We're a long ways from being able to measure [social media efforts] cohesively and consistently across all of our channels." It's often tough to pinpoint a direct relationship between a scenario's cause and effect in the real world, and this is especially true in the social media space. This is why researchers like Owyang recommend evaluating social media based on its contribution to a specific range of business goals; the idea of relying on a compass, not a checklist.

My point here is not to downplay tried-and-true methodologies. However, I think it's important  to occasionally check ourselves. Is Idea A in use simply because others were successful in its execution, or are did we truly find it to be valuable for our business? Are campaigns X and Z running because they were easy to scale and included in a package of recommended ideas, or are they real examples of our company's broadening perspective? Are we actually innovating, or just using Competitor B's idea faster and better? If we're not careful, best practices can lead us down the dangerous road of maintaining the status quo. 

Social Media: Harnessing the Second Screen Phenomenon at the Super Bowl

by mikol 2. February 2012 15:13

Utilizing social media at events such as fundraisers or expos is a no-brainer. Its versatility and potential to have significant impacts on impressions make it a great medium for an event of any size. After all, one of the core functions of a social network is the ability to share one's experience regarding an event. Also, social media allows campaign managers a high level view of the event’s overall reception, almost instantly.

This weekend, we’ll be able to witness just how large scale a company’s social media campaign can run, at one of America’s largest events.Over a hundred million people are expected to tune into this year's Super Bowl [between the New England Patriots and New York Giants]. Of these 100+ million folks, 60% will be online.  This, coupled with the fact that NBC is providing live, online streaming of the game, leads me to believe that this 60% will be watching their social streams and feeds along with the game.

Dubbed the “Second Screen Phenomenon,” advertisers and marketers are recognizing that there is an increasing amount of online usage at events. We humans obviously like to share our experiences, which explains why your social media feed might include many one-line, exclamatory reactions to a game on Sundays. I’m sure I’m not the first Twitter user to have trouble finding noteworthy content on Sunday nights due to the multiple, frequent, “Falcons! NOOO!” or, “Really? Fumble?” tweets.

Coca-Cola plans on tapping into this potential with their new campaign on  Here’s a quick summary of what will be going on:

The website, hosted on Facebook, will feature two polar bears, watching and reacting to the game live.
Commercials spots throughout the game will direct the audience to the campaign site.
The stream will also be available on Twitter,, and other ad placements throughout the web.
The bears’ reactions, which will be shareable via Twitter and Facebook (i.e., retweeting a happy response from the bear that’s a Giants fan), will even be made for the commercials.

With this campaign, Coke will be cashing in on the potential for over 60 million unique impressions in one day. And that, my friend, is how you run a social media campaign.

For a complete rundown of the campaign, read Karlene Lukovitz’ report on Media Post here.

The New SEM/SEO Guy.

by allenk 9. December 2011 16:19

The New Guy

Everyone has a first day, whether it is the first day of existence in the world as a child, first day of school, or first day of work at a new job. Being that I am writing this blog for Exsilio, it should be reasonable to conclude that I have arrived at the new-job “first.”

Here are the things I know for sure about my first day:

1. Traffic in Seattle fluctuates like crazy. The same commute that took 45 minutes one day took 15 the next; I arrived 45 minutes early – too early.

2. Anthony has an affinity for cars. I like that.

3. You are judged by the size of your coffee cup.

Regardless of the facts, I am now cooking along at full speed and feeling comfortable and feeling welcome here at Exsilio.

But what will I be doing?! Glad you asked. I am a new Marketing Manager at Exsilio focusing on Paid Search and landing page Search Engine Optimization. By focusing on this form of marketing, I hope to bring a valuable asset into the Exsilio family and provide knowledge to help all of our clients meet their marketing needs.

But why are SEM and SEO important? According to Netcraft, as of this month, there are over 555 million websites world-wide. With 29.5 million created last month. Though getting a dance to high school prom was difficult, try standing out in this crowded digital world. This is where SEM and SEO become even more valuable. They are the tools that businesses can use to make sure they are at the top of search queries for potential customers.

Having a good website is no longer enough – firms need to grasp these tools firmly to ensure that they can get the exposure they need. We need to think about this in terms of a storefront to a business that has the answer to life. Having a nice sign that has the “key to life” message on the storefront, maybe even a flashing “open” sign in the window, and a sandwich board outside the front door are a good start, and will likely generate some good foot-traffic. But foot-traffic is not enough. Everyone wants the answer to life, so we need to provide a roadmap to the business. This is where SEO and SEM step in. They are the roadmap that brings in customers from all over the country to this store – and in the digital world, this is possible.

This is why SEM and SEO are important. They help to ensure that a business can stand out to their desired customer and provide the exposure they need on the internet.

From this point out, you’ll be able to find me with a big coffee cup, arriving at work no more than 15 early, and learning the “ins and outs” of SEO and SEM.

Da-Dun...Daa-Dun...Daaaa-Dun...Shark Week!

by Erin Piazza 3. August 2011 10:39

This post is not about sharks.

Watching various shows on Discovery's Shark Week made me think about why the Discovery Channel chose to focus on sharks for an entire week; does their Neilsen data suggest that more of their viewers watch "shark" based programming? How many new, loyal viewers do they gain each year after Shark Week?

There's no doubt it's an ingenious move; reach viewers who may not typically watch the Discovery Channel by highlighting a topic that invokes various emotions; fear, fascination or interest in gaining new knowledge.

According to Neilsen data, this year's Shark Week kicked off with over 3 million viewers watching the opening segment, Great White Invasion, taking the No. 3 spot for that evening's primetime cable lineup. The next show, Jaws Come Home, ranked No. 1 with another 3 million viewers in the 18-49 age group. 

What is it about this type of programming that draws so many eyes? It's actually a spin on where the news media has been going for years; higlighting tragic events, extreme individuals or groups of people (think Sarah Palin or Jersey Shore), and generally bringing attention to the smallest but most unique/extreme people and events.

There is something innate in the human race that makes us curious and fascinated with events that are different from our "normal" lives. The Holocaust, terrorists, gangs, celebrities, politicians, and of course, Jaws.

If we do at all, how do marketers use this angle constructively? What examples have you seen of campaigns or products being sold via controversy or off-beat tactics?


Marketing Campaign Evaluation - Sunscreen

by chrism 6. June 2011 22:42

Marketing Campaign Evaluation – Sunscreen

The Product: SPF 150 sunscreen
Target Audience: One 3-year old, independent, and strong-willed little boy.
Method(s) of contact: Viral, direct, word-of-mouth, and promotional giveaways (bribery)

We began by marketing use of the product virally, with a full week of gentle suggestions from several individuals in the target audience’s space. The messaging conveyed through this method was that the use of sunscreen may be “awesome”, and “super”. The target seemed to have an elevated interest level due to this approach.

Direct contact was made with the target audience when the Marketing Manager directly requested, several times, that the target put some sunscreen on. This was unsuccessful, with the target audience running away, arms flailing, loudly speaking out against the product. Needless to say, this was not the desired result.

The third phase of this campaign included testimonials from people that our demographic had traditionally identified as trustworthy. This included two family members, a neighbor, a stuffed frog named Edgar, and two super hero action figures. When these efforts had little effect, a crafty technique called sleight-of-hand was used to falsely put the product on several of the audience’s familiar items, including, but not limited to: several LEGO people, a basketball, a fire truck, and a lamp. This was not a successful method, with the target becoming quite agitated.

Finally, utilizing historical data of past marketing wins to this demographic; I developed and deployed a promotional giveaway, offering each participant who used sunscreen a free package of gummy snacks. This method worked wonderfully, though there were concerns that it was more akin to bribery, and after some debate, we settled on the word “incentive”.

Summary:  This consumer group shows considerable resistance to most traditional marketing approaches, but with a lot of hand-held guidance, a little patience, and a few gummy snacks, your clients can have their day at the beach without risk of dangerous UV rays.


30 Second Lessons on Relationship Marketing

by Erin Piazza 5. April 2011 11:08

Fast Company is one of my favorite publications; they expertly deliver information on three of my favorite topics: design, technology and leadership. Just over a year ago, Fast Co. started a series of interviews called 30 Second MBA, a video series on topics like leadership, technology, connectivity, team work, customer relationships, and more. They have interviewed professionals from all industries and careers: musicians, artists, marketers, vice presidents, CEO’s; from GE to indie marketing shops.
Fast Co. says this about 30 Second MBA, “The great lament of any reporter is what to do with the jewels that routinely get left on the cutting room floor after a really great interview. Enter the 30-Second MBA, an ongoing video “curriculum” of really good advice from the trenches, directly from people who are making business happen.”
These videos are just that—30 second interviews with thought leaders on a variety of topics as mentioned above.
Relative to my interests as a [mainly] digital marketer, I’ve chosen three interviews that are immediately applicable to my projects at Exsilio, and to my peers on our marketing team—and hopefully to you:

Professor: Gayle Weiswasser, Vice President of Social Media Communications, Discovery Communications
Topic: How to develop a social media strategy

Professor: Linda Boff, Global Director, Marketing Communications and Digital, GE
Topic: How do you strengthen your brand without going overboard?

Professor: Ernst Lieb, President and CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA
Topic: The Customer Is the Boss of You

In all, the consistent theme in these “courses,” is that effective marketing means having real relationships with your customers by listening to them and putting money and resources in to learning more about them in order to earn their loyalty.

Great Campaigns

by BryanB 4. March 2011 23:59

Groups do campaigns all the time.  While a lot of the items that make a successful campaign are almost formulaic, the core premise is critical.  A lot of times, people think that a campaign is about getting some money, reworking the old standby copy, pushing out a slightly updated website along with a possibly refreshing a mailing list.

However, we fundamentally have a completely different perspective on doing campaigns.  If you're going to do a campaign then DO IT right, otherwise you're just proving you can spend budget.
1. Figure out what your messaging is, and why people will care about the campaign.  Are you going after an serious emotional response, a humorous response, and impulsive response?
2. What do you want to achieve out of the campaign?
3. What's different about this campaign compared to previous?  Are looking at the audience in a different way?
4. Everything you do should hold true to your initial messaging and core premise.  If you're just writing something down because of a deadline and not because you believe in it, then you should consider handing the project off to someone else or taking a break and then coming back to it.

I know this may seem a bit utopic or idealistic, however if you look at some of the best campaigns Win95, Kinect, Source Fource;), you'll see that they all kept consistent, held true to their core and were tremendously successful given the available resources.

While initially it may seem more difficult to hold the principals true, if you do from the beginning, in very short manner you'll realize that as people start not holding to the principals to down the road that it becomes frustrating if not infuriating (like nails on a chalkboard), which by the way is the RIGHT response.

May all your campaigns be successful.

Breaking Through the Marketing Clutter

by birdiel 2. March 2011 11:04

Nobody has an infinite amount of attention. As the amount of noise in our lives increase, the percentage of messages getting through inevitably decreases. Marketers are discovering that traditional marketing/advertising just doesn’t work anymore in grabbing and keeping consumer attention.

Consumers have developed an immunity to traditional tactics such as TV commercials, banner ads, or even emails. So how do you cut through the clutter? One way to sell a consumer something in the future is to simply get their permission in advance to participate in the selling process. Here are some strategies to consider:

  • People are selfish about their time and attention. Without a really good reason you’re not going to grab a piece of their precious resource
  • Consumers care very little about you, your company, and your products. You need to give them a reason to pay attention. Consider offering an explicit reward such as information, education, or entertainment to get the consumer to opt-in to the message
  • Even after you’ve achieved their permission, you’ll need to continue to offer consumers added incentives to pay attention
  • “What’s in it for me?” is the question that must be answered at every step
  • Continue to engage the consumer in an interactive relationship, with both you and the customer participating
  • Consumers like to feel in control and safe. They like getting me-mail, not email because every interaction is anticipated, personal, and relevant, not to mention unique, to them
  • Points are a formalized and scalable approach to attracting and keeping the prospects attention – you’re rewarding the consumer for paying attention or for buying something
  • That’s why loyalty programs and other promotions are such an effective overlay for many marketing campaigns
  • If you have a device that automatically rewards consumers for paying attention, you can allow the messages to develop more slowly and effectively over time

Permission Marketing lets companies develop long-term relationships with customers, create trust and build brand awareness. For more information read Permission Marketing by Seth Godin.

Takeaways: Microsoft Mobile Marketing Summit

by Erin Piazza 25. February 2011 16:09

During this full-day summit, hosted by Microsoft Marketing Excellence, we heard many popular themes being repeated throughout the 20+ sessions. You can learn more about the summit here.

Here are the main points we saw being repeated:

·         Mobile is still very new and no one has perfected it.

·         Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and try new things in mobile.

·         When developing for mobile web or building applications, make sure whatever you're making is platform agnostic, and can be viewed on any smartphone device.

·         Mobile is the perfect platform to form a new kind of relationship with your customers by building tools to make their lives easier.

·         Main tools on the phone are being leveraged in new ways all the time: camera, gps, gyro, etc.

·         IT Pro’s are the number one users of smartphones and number one users of mobile browsers.

·         Mobile marketing and advertising is very inexpensive compared to traditional digital campaigns.

·         When planning your digital marketing initiatives, don’t think of mobile last, and don’t add it on last to campaigns—think about how mobile can be leveraged in a new way for a campaign.

·         Mobile marketing isn’t just for mobile browsers—it’s SMS and more.

·         Brainstorm ways to engage with your mobile audience daily, since a mobile device is the number one thing most people carry with them and pay attention to everyday.

·         Design specifically for mobile—don’t assume that building the same PC site will translate to mobile—pay attention to load times and screen sizes and resolution to get the best UI, UX.

·         When designing content to display to a mobile user, assume the user's time is limited, as mobile phones are used most often in short time chunks.

·         Also in regards to mobile website development, limit navigation and options—give the consumer exactly what you want them to see, right away, very few clicks.

·         Test and learn as you go, set KPI’s but allow for budget and time to test, test, test.

·         Explore options for integrating local results within mobile search and app results—much of mobile usage is to find information around the user's immediate location. 

Mobile is exciting and fresh--it's not emerging media anymore--use it and learn from it!

Watch conference sessions here.

Making Sure Social Media Makes Sense

by Erin Piazza 22. February 2011 10:51

Following up on Brian B's post, "Why Customers Dump Brands," this post elaborates on what Brian shared, that brands and marketers need to keep communications relevant and actionable.

Not every brand, company or entity should be using social media.Three questions should be considered before joining the rest of the crowd:

1. Do you have a long-term customer engagement plan?
I've seen (and been able to correct) many instances of marketers using social media as just another advertising channel. Social media is not an advertising channel, it's an engagement channel. In this interview with Dan Zarrella, author of "The Social Media Marketing Book," Guy Kawasaki asks Dan some basic questions about engaging customers through social media.

Marketers are given a great opportunity through social media to engage their customers in a unique way that creates lasting relationships between customers and a brand; this is something that advertising cannot do. While tweets and Facebook posts may seem tedious and time consuming for the poster, fans and followers look forward to learning more about a brand and, maybe, benefit from a special offer or Twitter-only coupon.

Customers are savvy, and they expect more from marketers than to use them for a click-through.

2. Are you ready to have an actual conversation with your customers, one that ADDs value to their daily online lives?
When a customer decides to follow or "fan" you, it's not a decision that's made lightly--they are agreeing to give you a portion of their time online, space on their wall or feed, and adding to your follower count. What are you giving them in return? As I stated above, followers expect more than to be advertised to. Make sure your content is relevant and engaging, your number of posts aren't overwhelming, and you're there to listen if you're asked a question. Many brands have done a great job (Virgin America and Zappos are good examples) of providing customers with an unexpected bonus when that customer asks a question or voices a concern. Free credits, free shipping upgrades, and ensuring the customer leaves the conversation with a positive outcome are all unique opportunities for higher levels of customer engagment which foster long-term brand loyalty.  

3. Are you ready for your brand to be publicly discussed every day in an open forum, where information travels at light speed?
A Re-tweet on Twitter, or a "share" on Facebook both take about five seconds for a user to complete, and all of a sudden, your tweet or post has just been amplified to another 500 potential or current customers. If the content was positive, than congratulations. If it was've got some work to do. In the latest example of this, the Red Cross did a great job of damage control when one of their employees, responsible for posting content on their social media sites, accidentally posted a personal tweet, talking about getting drunk on Dogfish Head beer. How the Red Cross responded will be looked back on for years as the right way to react to a situation like that. Not to mention, DogFish Head helped them along with their recovery. How would you handle a similar, or worse, situation? Are you prepared? What if a customer posts something negative on your wall or tags you in a tweet sharing their disappointment with a recent purchase or experience with your product? Hundreds, if not thousands, of people are waiting to see how you will react.

Answering "no" to any of the above may be ground to re-consider your involvement in social media.

Remember--social media is a unique relationship with your current and potential customers--take it seriously.

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