Search This Blog

Today on All Things Brand: 5 Halloween Marketing Trends That Easily Reinforce The Brand

Check it out: lots of great trends, examples and thought starters here.


5 Halloween Marketing Trends That Easily Reinforce The Brand

When it comes to marketing, there's no end to how creative and/or crazy you can get this Halloween. The trick is to raise awareness all in the spirit of the brand. Here are five trends providing a perfect vehicle for doing so:
  1. Character Brands: The most popular costumes nationally are Batman adversary Harley Quinn; Star Wars, superheroes; pirates; and Batman himself. (Source: Google Frightgeist)
  2. DIY Tips from Trusted Brands: Whether it's homemade mom & baby costumes (Cotton Incorporated) or clever Halloween Treats (Prevention Magazine), creative and money-saving options are popular this season. (Source: Clickz)
  3. Viral Videos With A Real-Life Lesson: The UK's Tesco supermarket did a spot in which one of their supermarkets was tricked out with a Halloween monster, and customers were videotaped as they freaked out in response. As a bonus, viewers got tips on how to do some pretty cool and very ghoulish things. (Source: Momentology)
  4. Get Fans Into The Action: It never hurts to get brand devotees excited by rewarding them for dressing up as their version of a character. A smart move by the folks promoting the next installation of the Hunger Games. Or, you can simply ask customers to name their favorite "Oreo Nomster." (Sources: ClickzExactTarget.com)
  5. Ride The Twitter Targeting Bandwagon: Want to be locked up with a zombie? No thanks, if you ask me, but a lot of people answer "Yes, totally!" For them, Room Escape Adventures teamed up with SocialCentiv to push promo tickets straight to potential customers mentioning Halloween on Twitter. (Source: Adweek)
____
All opinions are the author's own. 

The New Facebook Search: Good Or Bad For Your Brand?

In a move that some have termed “a challenge to Google,” Facebook announced last week that with its “Search FYI” updated functionality, users of the platform will now see expanded search results:
  • Content others have posted and marked “Public”
  • Content you’ve already seen
  • Content that’s already been shared with you
For individuals seeking to maximize their personal brand this raises a troubling concern: Will all of my old, embarrassing, inadvertently public posts now come back to haunt me? The answer to that question is not as simple as one might think.
  • If you’ve been inadvertently marking “private” content as “public,” then yes it’s time to go back and change yourprivacy settings or even deactivate your account altogether, if you’re very concerned. This is especially true if you are concerned about an employer (or potential employer) checking you out online.
  • If you are comfortable with your social media presence, you may prefer to consider the benefits of authenticity, and “own” your content rather than try to filter out potentially embarrassing previous comments, photos, or shares. The self-censorship may be more trouble to you than it is worth.
  • If you’re not sure what to do, a middle-of-the-road solution could be to limit the viewability of past posts so that only your friends can see them, and they’re excluded from the search function. (Here’s Gizmodo’s primer.)
For companies doing content market there are two key issues to consider.
  • Will content created specifically to move product automatically reach more potential buyers? It’s not clear. AsCyberAlert points out: “Brands will probably find that deciphering the network’s algorithm and reaching consumers will be challenging. The network’s opaque algorithms that determine what users see in their news feeds already frustrate many brands that do content marketing on Facebook.”
  • Will the creators of viral content be required to pay for search results to show up in users’ news feeds?  Although we don’t know yet, the answer is “likely yes.” Writing at the eConsultancy blog, Patricio Robles notes: “After all, Facebook needs to make money, and free lunches come to an end, even in social media….what Facebook giveth, Facebook can taketh away.”
At the end of the day, the fundamental rules of social haven’t changed at all: Number one, be yourself and number two, content is king. But at the same time, the rules of branding haven’t changed either: Know your audience, make a clear, relevant and unique promise to them that you can keep, and deliver consistently across platforms.
___________
All opinions are the author’s own. 

The 10 Building Blocks Of A Personal Brand

Someone asked me for job advice and I ended up writing this in an email. I wish I could take credit for these ideas but they’re time-tested pieces of advice I’ve heard over and over throughout the years. And like a good navy suit with a white button-down shirt, they’re always appropriate.
Think of them as the 10 basic building blocks (a.k.a. the infrastructure) of your personal brand.
  1. Make a schedule you can keep to. Shows you do what you say you’ll do.
  2. Confirm that you understand what is wanted. Repeat it aloud. Send the other person an email, short and sweet, if it’s significant enough (like at the start of a project).
  3. Get very organized. Sort your work by fiscal year and subject. Keep the shared workspace organized. Keep email organized.
  4. NO PHONE CALLS in office EVER and no personal emails. This is obviously extreme but if you shoot for zero and hit 5% you’re doing good.
  5. Find a mentor who will talk to you and help you. Make friends. Have coffee. Nobody is an island.
  6. Genuine effort and a good attitude go a long way.
  7. Check your work before you give it in. Don’t just rush to send it off. Sit on it for a couple of hours.
  8. No talking to boss unless it’s to ask, “What can I do for you?” No emailing unless it’s “Here’s what you asked for.”
  9. Offer to help with seemingly small things. Your appearance should be equated with an end to pain.
  10. Try giving a shit. Read about your office on the news. It’s as easy as setting up a Google Alert.
____
All opinions my own.

Gen Xers: Is "Rudeness" Hurting Your Personal Brand?

“Douche bag.” 
“Asshole.” 
“Hey, welcome back….group’s been looking for you.” 
“Yeah, I lost my phone.” 
“Fuck off.” 
“Or maybe I took a hammer to it.” 
“….We fly tomorrow night.” 
“Without me….I quit the group, Rob.” 
“….Stop fucking around. Shit, shower, shave, and let’s go.”
– CIA agents Quinn and Rob discussing a mission, Homeland,Season 4, Episode 12
There are three main generations in the workforce today:
I am a Gen Xer. And the fact that I am ignored by the media has been covered many times, including this Time cover story going back to 1997.
This is not to bemoan such a sad state of affairs. Nor is it to enlighten you about all things X. And of course one would be stupid to reduce people to simplistic generational categories.
Rather, it is to highlight a problem that Gen Xers face with respect to workplace diversity: our communication style. Compared with “political” Baby Boomers and “polite” Millennials, Gen Xers are perceived as rude,” “skeptical,” and “cynical.”
Most of the time, discussions of generational difference do not focus on language. Here is a typical depiction (emphasis on Boomers, Xers and Millenials mine).
But it is important to talk about differences in communication style, because the impact of miscommunication on workplace productivity is significant. Not the least of the potential problems is that employees can make costly and dangerous mistakes.
The impact of miscommunication on an individual’s career may be invisible, but it is personal and it is costly. Which is probably why Harvard Business Review has an entire section on its website specifically devoted to this.
Unfortunately for the Gen Xer, particularly the Xer who is working in a team-based organization, conversations about diversity in communication style tend to revolve around cross-cultural issues or those relating to gender.
Given that the unique constellation of Gen X characteristics tends to be ignored in the diversity conversation, and given that Xers’ unique style of communication is essentially a nonissue, it follows that this generational cohort is bound to suffer from being “branded” negatively in some very unfair ways.
The solution to this problem does not lie in “consciousness raising,” from my point of view. It isn’t a matter of one group trying to oppress another. Rather, it’s about taking personal responsibility for understanding that our colleagues may have trouble understanding why we talk the way we do. It’s about recognizing that no matter how many achievements you can list on our resume, your communication style may actually really piss other people off. And that you sometimes have to temper yourself to get along with them.
I will always be a diehard fan of John Hughes. I will binge-watch Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead and Homeland and I’ll wonder:
Who writes like this?
These are awesomely realistic scripts.
But when I walk into the office to get my work done tomorrow, I’ll probably avoid calling anyone a “douche.”
___
All opinions my own. 

Why It's Not A Good Idea To Manipulate People

Branding is often equated with manipulation. Unfortunately, some people can indeed take advantage of its tactics to succeed at work, and in the process step on the very people they are supposed to lead.
They are encouraged to do so because metrics of CEO performance have little or nothing to do with genuinely treating people well.
Think about it. When the term “CEO” (or any term associated with a top executive) is uttered, most of us think of “hard” skills. (See for example this article in Forbes: “Great CEOs Must be Either Technical or Financial.”)
However at least one analysis of CEO data shows that those who occupy this role definitely have certain seeming “people skills” that non-CEOs lack.
Or are they?
The screenshot below is from “Making It to the Top: Nine Attributes That Differentiate CEOs,” an analysis of an in-house database of “nearly 4,000 executive assessments, including over 130 CEOs” done by consulting firm Russell Reynolds Associates.
The company found that CEOs have 9 differentiator qualities. The following 4 are specifically associated with people, under the category “Team Building” –
  • “Seeks to understand different perspectives but does not overanalyze”
  • “Displays intensity/emotion but maintains control”
  • “Involves others in decisions but also is an independent decision maker”
  • “Is comfortable with a variety of people but is not too trusting.”
While on the surface the CEO seems to be a good team member, is it more plausible that this person is actually an advanced manipulator of people?
Consider a recent study, “Narcissistic CEOs and executive compensation” (The Leadership Quarterly, 2013). It found that CEOs may actually be more likely than non-CEOs to have this personality disorder.
“Narcissism is characterized by traits such as dominance, self-confidence, a sense of entitlement, grandiosity, and low empathy.There is growing evidence that individuals with these characteristics often emerge as leaders, and that narcissistic CEOs may make more impulsive and risky decisions.”
Certainly CEOs are not punished for having poor people skills or even evaluated based on the quality of their interactions with other people.
This is true even though we hear over and over again that “people are an organization’s most important asset.” See for example:
Harvard Business Review, in “Valuing Your Most Valuable Assets,” points out this discrepancy, noting that employees don’t normally get white-glove treatment. Yet HBR itself discounts the quality of employee management completely in its ranking of “The Best-Performing CEOs in the World.”
Harvard’s CEO rankings are not based on “people skills” at all!
See below the basis of the rankings and the weights associated with them:
  • Stock performance (80%): 1) total shareholder return 2) change in market capitalization (which is the cost of a share times the number of shares outstanding)
  • Responsibility performance (“ESG”) (20%): A combined measure of the company’s performance on 1) environmental impact 2) social responsibility and 3) quality of governance (Research Methodology)
Here’s the bottom line: When we put our metrics where our mouths are, we will stop seeing mini-dictatorships crop up in in professional organizations. This will be an automatic byproduct of a different kind of “normal” business climate, one in which we stop tolerating leaders with personality disorders and only hire people who routinely treat others with human decency.
__
This question was originally posed on Quora. This blog is a repost of my answer there. All opinions my own. Photo by Víctor Nuño via Flickr (Creative Commons).

Creating “Must-See” Content: 25 Tips From LinkedIn & More

Adapted from this post, which contains a link to the event video. 

Featured experts: 
The tips:
  1. The focus should be on genuinely useful content; don’t ask for feedback on “which dog picture you like best.”
  2. Have a clear goal in mind. Often we communicate without actually knowing why.
  3. Assess whether you’ve been successful or not. Don’t just keep going without taking stock.
  4. Measure not just views, but how long people are viewing and more importantly, whether they take action based on the content you are offering.
  5. Market your products and services, not just yourself.
  6. Avoid thinking of content as an expense; it generates much more value than it costs.
  7. Remember that you’re competing with every other source of information out there.
  8. Don’t put something out just because you want to hear yourself talk.
  9. Negative feedback can be uncomfortable, but if you refuse to engage the conversation will happen without you.
  10. Do everything possible to eliminate content silos in communication.
  11. Don’t be afraid to share content that others create. It’s not about ownership anymore. The more partners you have, the more likely it is that your message will spread.
  12. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. Don’t give up. Never give up.
  13. You never know what someone will find interesting. That’s normal.
  14. Don’t be afraid to be interesting.
  15. Begin with something that seems “simple” or elementary as a way of drawing users into your more complex mission and services.
  16. A proliferation of social media tools may be exciting, but they’re more of a liability than a benefit if they aren’t kept up. Consider offering fewer channels with greater focus on each one.
  17. Empower conservative leadership to do great content by focusing on small, achievable wins that will generate great feedback.
  18. Find out who leaders respect and show how your planned best practices are similar to theirs.
  19. Figure out how people actually reach your content – do the best you can to draw a user map.
  20. Always have the video camera ready. You never know where the next good story will come from. Generally, be prepared to spend significant time on finding good content.
  21. Make sure your content offers a similar message across different communication channels. this means paying attention to all the content your agency is putting out.
  22. Differentiate between your different audience segments; each of them will perceive your communication differently. Speak to them in words that makes sense to them.
  23. Avoid using jargon – keep language simple, common, plain English.
  24. Be human, and don’t be afraid to go “old school.” Use email. Have coffee. Trade shows and other in-person events are a great way to reach out to the public and form the kind of connections that can’t be made over social media.
  25. Use crowdsourcing tools internally that help you decide which areas to focus on and put out to the public. Employees know what the public wants and needs to hear.
_____
All opinions are the authors’ own.

The 5 Things Every Marketer Should Learn In 2015

  • What they can and cannot do: Marketing is such a broad field right now that it is impossible to know and do everything well. It’s important to specialize, even if one only specializes in being a generalist.
  • How to do visual content: This as opposed to verbal content. People scan, they take things in visually, they do not read – especially on social media. A marketer must learn to communicate in visual terms.
  • How to work in global networked virtual teams: We have reached the point where technology has almost completely eliminated the need for face-to-face interaction. A marketer must be fluent in terms of their ability to connect with others virtually, whether they’re colleagues or not; working with others virtually; and crowdsourcing solutions to problems quickly.
  • How to pitch themselves quickly and effectively. Opportunities are always cropping up out of the blue. It could be a blind job ad placed on LinkedIn, or an expression of interest from a recruiter, or a colleague with whom collaboration seems likely. A marketer must always be ready to explain themselves briefly; describe their value in a nutshell; sell the concept they’re working on in high-level terms. Remember, one often has to create opportunity where none seems to exist.
  • When branding matters:  The answer to this is always. Even if one isn’t working on a campaign, even if one isn’t working altogether – there is always the need to brand oneself, and every expression of one’s brand is relevant. One never knows where someone will pick it up.
______
All opinions are the authors’ own.

Creating “Must-See” Content: 25 Tips From LinkedIn & More

Adapted from this post, which contains a link to the event video. 
Featured experts: 
The tips:
  1. The focus should be on genuinely useful content; don’t ask for feedback on “which dog picture you like best.”
  2. Have a clear goal in mind. Often we communicate without actually knowing why.
  3. Assess whether you’ve been successful or not. Don’t just keep going without taking stock.
  4. Measure not just views, but how long people are viewing and more importantly, whether they take action based on the content you are offering.
  5. Market your products and services, not just yourself.
  6. Avoid thinking of content as an expense; it generates much more value than it costs.
  7. Remember that you’re competing with every other source of information out there.
  8. Don’t put something out just because you want to hear yourself talk.
  9. Negative feedback can be uncomfortable, but if you refuse to engage the conversation will happen without you.
  10. Do everything possible to eliminate content silos in communication.
  11. Don’t be afraid to share content that others create. It’s not about ownership anymore. The more partners you have, the more likely it is that your message will spread.
  12. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can't do it. Don't give up. Never give up.
  13. You never know what someone will find interesting. That's normal.
  14. Don’t be afraid to be interesting.
  15. Begin with something that seems “simple” or elementary as a way of drawing users into your more complex mission and services.
  16. A proliferation of social media tools may be exciting, but they’re more of a liability than a benefit if they aren’t kept up. Consider offering fewer channels with greater focus on each one.
  17. Empower conservative leadership to do great content by focusing on small, achievable wins that will generate great feedback.
  18. Find out who leaders respect and show how your planned best practices are similar to theirs.
  19. Figure out how people actually reach your content - do the best you can to draw a user map.
  20. Always have the video camera ready. You never know where the next good story will come from. Generally, be prepared to spend significant time on finding good content.
  21. Make sure your content offers a similar message across different communication channels. this means paying attention to all the content your agency is putting out.
  22. Differentiate between your different audience segments; each of them will perceive your communication differently. Speak to them in words that makes sense to them.
  23. Avoid using jargon - keep language simple, common, plain English.
  24. Be human, and don’t be afraid to go “old school." Use email. Have coffee. Trade shows and other in-person events are a great way to reach out to the public and form the kind of connections that can’t be made over social media.
  25. Use crowdsourcing tools internally that help you decide which areas to focus on and put out to the public. Employees know what the public wants and needs to hear.
_____
All opinions are the authors' own.