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Meme Monday #4: Sour Granny Smith

Today’s Meme Monday comes courtesy of the Suprpod Blog  who shared this great Maynard’s Advertisement. Talk about a successful use of memes in advertising.

Marketing Resource: Jing

Title for the Article

In marketing you often need to use screen capturing. Highlighting design issues on a website, copying specific copy from a non-text based file, or even putting together webpages for a portfolio will often call for a bit of screen manipulation. This used to be one of the most frustrating tasks for me. I would print screen an image, paste it into Microsoft Paint, select only what I wanted to capture, paste it into a new file, and save as a new image. This process took a few minutes, and while it wasn’t the end of the world, I found it to be a pretty agitating experience.

My savour came in a nice little package called Jing. Jing is a screen capping software from the company Techsmith. It has a profoundly simple to use interface where a little yellow sun floats at the edge of one of your screens. When you want to screen cap an object or screen you simply click on the sun choose the capture button, and click and drag over the area. Jing has some great little associated features such as telling you the dimensions of the area you are capping. Jing will also highlight the area it thinks you’re trying to capture might be (such as a browser window independent of the taskbar) and you can simply click to capture the entire highlighted area.

After you have capped the screen you can do some minor annotations on the image. You can put a box around content, you can use a highlighter option, place an arrow, and add a text box. The look of it is somewhat crude but you’re really getting all the functionality you’ll need for most purposes.


Jing has a few other minor features that come in pretty handy. If you do a lot of screen capping, you can set a hotkey so you never have to worry about finding the illusive yellow sun. In the basic version there is also some limited video capturing (in SWF format.) It isn’t the best video capture software and I wouldn’t recommend counting on it, but in a pinch it does serve its purpose.

So does Jing have some downsides? Yes, of course. Sometimes the yellow sun icon for doing screen capping or checking your history is difficult to find, especially if you’re using multiple screens. You’re also limited with your annotation tools in that you cannot change the thickness of the arrow or the borders of any boxes you create. Finally, you can only save images in PNG format so there isn’t a lot of options if you want smaller file sizes.

Overall Jing is a great tool seeing as how it is a free resource. If you occasionally need to capture images it can be a time saver and a mind saver. However, if you find it too limited, it might be worth investing in a commercial screen capture tool. For those of us that need function and form quickly, Jing is absolutely the way to go. Jing can be downloaded for free at http://www.techsmith.com/jing.html

Meme Monday #3: Buzzwords

Wow, that was a bit of a delay in posting wasn’t it? Well we’re back today with a new Meme Monday, coutesy of mantra2 on Reddit.

Friday Round-Up – April 27

 

Well its friday, and that’s as good a time as any to reflect on what happened in the advertising world this week and any good links that I feel I should send you way!

1. Kraft’s Likeapella

4,632 liked Kraft on Tuesday April 24th, so in return Kraft liked them back with this salute. At the time of writing this, their youtube video had only 305 views so I’m anxious to see how far it goes, but its a clever idea and a great way to integrate video with social media. I’ll try and review next week to see how it went.

 

2. Two Microsoft Exectuvies Depart the Company

Richard Dunmall and Marc Bresseel appear to be planning to depart Microsoft. Considering the poor reception of Microsoft’s advertisements, are they jumping ship for greener pastures?

 

3. Nutella’s 3 Million Dollar Marketing Mistake

Due to Ferro’s misleading marketing of their product Nutella as a healthy snack, they faced a settlement agreement today that resulting in a 3million dollar payout in a class action suit. A good warning to be careful exactly what you’re claiming.

 

4. Negative SEO Tactics – SEOmoz

I Love whiteboard fridays, its an idea I wish I had come up with! Sadly I did not so you’ll get a round-up every friday instead. Regardless, SEOmoz has a great post this Friday about the shady SEO tactics and what to avoid doing yourself.

 

So that was what was notable for me. If you have any links to news articles or blogs that you thought were great from the last week, share them!

What I Really Learned in Business School

 

I’ve heard a lot of flak over the years for being a graduate of a business school in marketing. Not just from Engineers, Programmers, or Science grads (although I hear a lot from them) but many people in business think that getting a formal degree is a waste of time and money. Well one of the lessons I learned in school has been invaluable in being in the professional services industry: how to deal with clients.

The reality of it is that there isn’t much difference between a client and the professor of a class. You have to manage many at one time, they all think they’re tasks are the only thing you have to worry about, and their needs and assignments often seem pointless and redundant. If you think back to you assignments in class it isn’t that different from when you get a request from a client. You either have very specific instructions that you cannot deviate from, some of which are inefficient or irrelevant to the real task at hand, or you have very vague instructions and no real clue of what the professor (or client) is actually expecting.

The result is the same in both scenarios, you have to do your best to work with the guidelines you are given, to produce the best result possible. You learn a lot more in university than what is on the syllabus, and client management was one of the most important lessons I didn’t realize at the time I was learning.

Meme Monday #1: Good Guy Marketer

Review of Hootsuite

Let’s talk about twitter. Contrary to popular belief (and what social media gurus are no doubt telling you) there is no ‘easy way’ to gain marketing traction, least of all with Twitter. Twitter is an impressive tool for marketing, that isn’t up for debate, but it isn’t a matter of creating an account and talking about yourself every hour of every day. Social media is a time consuming and difficult practice, but thankfully there are tools to make it far easier to be efficient.

One of these tools is Hootsuite. I was introduced to this program while I was first starting to get used to twitter and I was a fairly immediate convert. Hootsuite is an online web application that acts as dashboard that allows you to view information more efficiently, schedule tweets, and manage multiple accounts. That last one is pretty key but I’m going to delve into those three major points one at a time.

 

1. Viewing information

Twitter has exploded over the past years but a lot of that is in spite of a pretty shoddy interface. I’m not trying to rag on my favourite social network but ultimately this is not an intuitive UI. Instead we have to jump around to various screens just to get a really good view of what is going on (our timeline, mentions, DMs, lists, searches, etc.)

Hootsuite deals with this problem swiftly by letting you customize what your homepage will look like. Their system is in two parts: tabs and streams. Streams are your actual data feeds such as the timeline of a twitter account, tweets sent from that account, searches you want to look at, or tweets from a specific list. The combinations are pretty endless. A tab is the screen that contains these various streams and you can easily shift from one tab to the other. If you’re managing multiple twitter accounts, you can contain all of your timelines on one tab, all your mentions on another, and a list of relevant searches on a third.

Ultimately Hootsuite leaves this up to you, they allow you to customize the flow of information to your own preferences. This kind of customization is key to saving yourself countless hours per week in managing your social media.

 

2. Scheduling Tweets

The other problem with twitter as a marketing tool is that you need to be careful about when and how much you share. One of my biggest pet peeves when viewing my timeline is getting a flood of 10+ tweets from the same account. It can be frustrating to sift through that information and it clogs up the timeline. This of course leaves you with a problem. How do you find the time to spread your insight throughout the day?

Hootsuite solves this problem by allowing you to schedule your tweets for posting in the future. You can plan out your week’s worth of posting on a Sunday night and then use twitter as a tool for responding to customers or replying to interesting comments/tweets.

Another great feature that Hootsuite makes use of is their ability to schedule tweets in bulk. Rather than schedule a tweet one at a time, you can prepare it all in a spreadsheet and upload that to Hootsuite. This is a feature limited only to Hootsuite Pro Accounts, but it can be a real timesaver if you want to plan far in advance.

 

3. Manage Multiple Accounts

 

There can be a few reasons for having multiple twitter accounts. You can be managing social media for multiple businesses as we do at BR Consulting, your company can have reigonal based accounts for various cities, or you could be a part of a business that requires accounts for multiple product lines. Whatever the reason, signing in and out of twitter can be a time consuming process.

Hootsuite allows you to manage these various accounts through the dashboard. You can post a tweet to multiple accounts at once, view multiple timelines at the same time, and manage these social media efforts all through one account. Having been in a situation where I had 12+ accounts to manage for one company, this feature can be a huge timesaver.

Beyond the features of the dashboard, Hootsuite has another important component: the analytics component. There are far stronger analytical tools to use in conjunction with twitter accounts, but for some quick snapshots, Hootsuite does a good job. The application allows you to observe follower growth over time, keyword growth over time, and mentions from influencers. The analytics features are also only available with the pro version.

 

It is worth pointing out that Hootsuite is actually a fairly useful tool for Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, WordPress, and MySpace as well but if I try and go too detailed right now this is going to turn into a very long rant. For now we’ll stay focused on the Twitter aspect.

In summary, Hootsuite is a fantastic tool for managing social media accounts, whether you’re dealing with one or twenty profiles. A free-to-use version is available that contains a lot of major features. A major limitation of the free service is that you can only manage five accounts, so for larger account needs the pro version is a huge asset. You can sign up for a free account with Hootsuite at the link below, or and you need the extra features you can try out a 30 day free trial of the pro version.

HootSuite

*The above is an affiliate link

(Images Courtesy of Hootsuite)

4 Things For Small Businesses To Keep In Mind When Using Social Media

(Originally Posted Feb 4 2012)

 

Social Media is a tough environment to navigate. Like trying to write ad copy it is very easy to attempt but very difficult to do properly. Small businesses feel that they need to jump into social media (and that can definitely be a good idea) but they often aren’t prepared for the degree of care and work involved.

At the very basic, there are four steps that any small business can take under advisory before trying to use social media. This won’t give them most effective strategy, as social media management is a complex field, but it can help them avoid common pitfalls.


1. KISS – Keep It Social Stupid

Most businesses forget that social media is supposed to be social. It isn’t that hard to remember either… it’s right there in the title.

Nevertheless many Brands mistakenly think that having social media means you can send out promotional messages every hour and that thousands of people will follow/like you. I’m a fan of the 80-20 metric that most social media evangelists will swear by. Your content should be 80% community interaction and 20% brand messaging. If Bob’s Burger Shack only tweets about how I should come to Bob’s Burger Shack, then I’m going to unfollow or block them. However if Bob’s Burger Shack reposts community news, shares a funny video, and generally makes me feel like I’m chatting with Bob, then I’m going to be more inclined to interact.

2. Quality not Quantity

This should be another simple one but it isn’t. You can have the best content in the world but if its non-stop then I’m following someone else. If your businesses is clogging up my social media timelines then I’m not going to want to see it anymore. I use social media to keep up with many people, not just your businesses. So instead of hitting me up with 20 retweets and brand promotions at 10:00AM on a Monday, share two or three relevant posts throughout the day. I’ll love your business a lot more for it.

3. Does your post pass the mom test?

You can substitute this for the front page test, the friend test, the Jesus test, whatever you want; but the point is to ask yourself “Would I make this comment or post this content if I knew my mother was reading it?” Obviously if your brand is edgy and caters to a more rough around the edges audience this can be less applicable but some of us have a rough around the edges mother, so the metaphor still works. The point is that you need to think long and hard before you post something under your brand’s name, because the last thing you want is to alienate or upset customers. Always remember that because this content is social it can be seen by all your customers, even if you directed it to only one of them.

In the end of 2011, Avenger Controller came under heavy fire because they employed a brash, angry individual who was handling their customer service including their social media. Paul Christoforo, the renegade employee, ended up causing a PR nightmare that Avenger had to recover from. If Mr. Chrisoforo had stuck with the mom test, he may have been able to avoid this bad press by behaving in a much more respectful manner.

4. You are your brand

The final piece of advice for small business owners jumping on the social media bandwagon is that no matter what you do, your brand’s social media account is now a walking talking advertisement. Everything you do, say, and every way you behave will now represent your brand. This means that if you use profanity, your brand is now associated with it. Would you have used that word in an ad in a newspaper? If not, why was it in your social media post? Are your imagery and colour schemes consistent with your brand? If not you will build confusion. And most importantly: how you respond to your public (especially complaints) is how people will see your brand’s attitude towards them. If you delete an unflattering comment on your facebook wall, customers will assume you don’t stand by your product. If you respond publicly to a complaint by being defensive rather than apologetic, that is how we the public will view you. The most important take away from this is that there is no separation in how you behave in a televised interview and in your social media account. You are representing your business to the public and you need to reflect how you want to be seen.

You can’t adequately explain social media theory in four quick paragraphs. It isn’t the end all be all of marketing but it is an important and relevant aspect of it. Because of this, you need to use care just as you would when spending money on more traditional advertising. These four items will give you a bit of groundwork in managing your social media accounts but it is still a relatively new field, so beware of stepping on landmines.

Ads I Love: The Manatee By Visa Canada

Originally posted January 8th, 2012

I’m going to kick this off by talking about advertisements and the special place they have in my heart. Even before I went into marketing I have always loved watching ads. When TiVo and PVRs got big a few years ago and people raved about how you could fast forward through ads, my reaction was always “What if you miss the good ones?”

The fact is, even though it is an advertisement designed to get you to buy something, change your opinion of a brand, or some other call to action, the commercial was created by someone with the enjoyment of the target market in mind. That’s not to say that all ads are good or that all ads are being properly targeted, but a wide range of them are. Many people will tell me that they hate all ads and that all of them are annyoing. To that I usually shrug my shoulders, bring up the coca cola polar bear ads and they usually concede that those are some damn cute bears.

So like it or not, advertisements are an important part of our culture and because of that I want to take a few moments and talk about some of the ads I enjoy the most and why. We’ll be starting with an ad currently running: The Manatee by TBWAToronto

This ad has got a bit of flak on the interwebs for depicting its customer’s as stupid, but I certainly never interpreted it that way. The way I see it is elaborated a little bit at the end, so for now I’ll just say I disagree with the criticism. The advertisement begins a couple (presumably married judging by the man’s ring) buying groceries at a non-descript supermarket. The cashier asks how they want to pay for it and the couple daydreams about the possibilities.

They have a fantasy of lounging on the back of a boat drinking the most stereotypical island  vacation drinks imaginable. All of the sudden they are surprised by a “dolphin”. The dolphin of course is actually a manatee that our vacationers have confused for the far cuter aquatic mammal. I’ll admit that while I was pretty sure it was a manatee, I wasn’t positive. Having never really seen one the best I had to go off of was this photo

HIMYM

They discuss how smart it looks (knowing that Dolphin’s are smart) and even compare it to a wizard which I found more hilarious. The acting on the part of these two is actually quite impressive for a commercial as I find they sound very genuine. I find it believable that these two actually think its a dolphin, but at the same time they don’t come across as stupid or silly but actually kind of likable. At this point, an actual Dolphin emerges, and it really does look like a younger version of the manatee. The couple marvels over what they assume is a baby dolphin, and observe they would not want to be an old dolphin when they’re… old. The pan over from the happy laughing dolphin, to the very sad looking manatee is hilarious along with the old crabby grunt from our aquatic sea-cow.

Next we’re back on dry land when the day-dream ends and Morgan Freeman’s voice comes as the cherry on the top of this advertising sundae. He tells us that with Visa rewards, our everyday purchases can add up to big dreams. With this statement, the commercial has a little more context. What the ad (and Mr. Freeman) is telling us, is that these are ordinary people. They have no business being on a boat seeing dolphins, they’re just the average Joe and Jane at the supermarket. But with Visa Rewards they can afford to take a lavish trip where they see Manatees and Dolphins.

The call to action definitely is clear: we should use a Visa rewards card.

The benefit is clear: We will get rewards such as vacations to tropical paradises.

The target market is clear: The average working class person, younger (no family yet)

And it makes us laugh. Overall I really enjoy this commercial and when I’ve PVRed a show, you can bet I stop the fast forward for this.