Taming Your Brand Mascot

May 10, 2010

From Tony The Tiger, Trix Rabbit and Energizer Bunny to Ronald McDonald and even John McCain (?!) brand mascots are a common tool to promote your product or service. More recently even Twitter mascots have been showing up as a company’s public face.

The good ones are those that you don’t even think about until you decide to wear your marketer hat. That’s what makes them memorable.

A recent article I read on Harvard Business Review, “ Aflac’s CEO Explains How He Fell For The Duck” made me think about brand messaging and the use of mascots. The article is great because it gives you an insider’s view of how the famous Aflac duck came to being and the challenges Aflac’s CEO had to overcome to get it adopted.

The first Aflac duck debuted in 2000. The company reported $9.7 billion (US and Japan combined) that year, up $1 billion from the previous year. In 2008, revenues were up to $16.6 billion. Amos credits this increase mostly due to the branding initiatives related to the duck, an amazing feat for any brand mascot. Here are some highlights of the Aflac duck’s impact:

  • First year after the duck’s introduction, sales were up by 29%.
  • Name recognition increased 67% after two years of running the commercials. Today the name recognition is 90%.
  • The duck has 165,000 facebook fans in the US.
  • In two months 100,000 people posted spoofs of the Japanese duck’s song online.

How do you create a successful brand mascot? I particularly like the tips a FastCompany article, “Brands with character”, gives:

  1. Give the brand human traits
  2. Create a life, backstory to your character/mascot
  3. Plan for the long run
  4. Don’t overcomplicate

What mascots do you consider memorable and why?

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Explaining Social Media

May 7, 2010

If you need to explain what social media is and the impact it can have in your company or industry, the slideshow below might help. The presentation is not only funny is also engaging.

Rule 1: Listen

Rule 2: Engage

Rule 3: Measure

And my favorite quote is “Don’t assume social media is the answer to everything”.

Enjoy!


Email Design Review Gallery

March 9, 2010

Are you tired of what your marketing emails look like? Are you in search of inspiration? Or just want to see what’s out there? Well, this post may be the answer!

Whenever my team talks about changing the design of our email campaigns, we start off my talking about emails we received in the past and that we liked. We also spend some time talking about the emails we hated and those that could be improved. We come out with a list of things to think about and that we could be using in our own campaigns. Is always good to see what’s out there to give you some ideas.

After searching a bit on the web I couldn’t find any “email design gallery” or something like it that would show me different email designs. Sure, our email marketing software has some canned templates but they are very bland. I was looking for some real-life good looking HTML emails I could use as a reference. So I decided to create one and share with you.

This is the first post of a series that will show you some marketing emails (webinar invitations, whitepaper downloads, product announcements, etc.) so that you can take this back to your team for your very own email marketing brainstorming session.

Note: The emails are in no particular order and the senders were selected at random from a variety of emails I get. Click on the images for larger version.

Design #1

  • Email Sender: Marketo
  • Email Title: Social Best Practices for Marketing in the Cloud

  • What I Like: Clean design; date and time of the webinar on top easy to find; orange “Free Webinar” button calls attention to the important action (register now!)
  • What I Don’t Like: Purple graphic on top (Webinar) doesn’t seem to add much to the content; text-heavy email with little break between paragraphs may discourage people from reading it

Design #2

  • Email Sender: Profound Logic Software
  • Email Title: Integrate your modernization efforts on IBM i with Atrium

  • What I Like: Well, its colorful I ‘ll give them that. And there’s a big orange “Register Now” right on top so whatever this email is about I know they want me to register.
  • What I Don’t Like: Too busy, too many things happening in this email that makes it very distracting. I had to read it a couple times to understand what the title was because my eyes kept bouncing around. My eyes go straight to that screenshot before I read the copy and so I have no idea what that shot is about. You are really hoping people stop and read the text, which may not happen all the time.

Design #3

  • Email Sender: Sitecore
  • Email Title: 7 Habits for Maximizing Website Conversions

  • What I Like: Catchy header with interesting graphic, clear title and date/time of the webinar easy to find. Big “Register for our webinar” button at the bottom makes it easy to find where to click to sign up. Picture of speaker gives it a personal tone.
  • What I Don’t Like: Although the header graphic is good, it could be a bit cleaner (I’d remove the mention of 2 sessions and increase the title a bit); Grey text over grey background doesn’t make it ‘pop’.

Design #4

  • Email Sender: MarketingExperiments
  • Email Title: No idea

  • What I Like: The blue and orange colors go really well with the white background. The picture of the speaker gives it a personal feel. Side banner is a good way to try “sell” additional product and increase registrations.
  • What I Don’t Like: Being an email from MarketingExperiments I was expecting it to be much better. This email is cluttered, is very difficult to determine what exactly are they trying to get me to do. How many webinars are being advertised here? And what’s up with blog posts (side bar) in this email? Too confusing. I think the only good thing going for them is that their name is recognizable and so people may spend some time deciphering their email.

Design #5

  • Email Sender: MarketingProfs
  • Email Title: How Businesses are Marketing with Facebook and Twitter

  • What I Like: Really great color combination makes it easy in the eye. Clear header with big title and date/time of the event. Orange “Sign up” button on top left corner is the natural place for your eyes after reading the header and calls attention. Big but concise lead-in. Sponsor logo nicely placed helps give authority to the email.
  • What I Don’t Like: Bullet points could have been more concise; left side bar is grey on grey background which makes it difficult to read.

Design #6

  • Email Sender: SPSS
  • Email Title: What if you had the power to increase campaign response rates and ROI?

  • What I Like:Cathy header and good combination of graphic with text to get people interested. Not copy intensive and good use of bullet points. Big lead-in helps keep users reading.
  • What I Don’t Like: Lead-in copy “Explode six direct marketing myths” doesn’t tell me much, poor choice of words (although ‘myths’ tend to get people to read). Right side bar basically empty, not helping much. No image of the whitepaper that they are offering (images, or “hero shots”, tend to increase registrations rate).

Design #7

  • Email Sender: Omniture
  • Email Title: A Recipe for Relevance

  • What I Like:Clean, nice looking header containing image of the whitepaper and download button. Very light on copy but direct to the point and making good use of bullet points.
  • What I Don’t Like: The ‘download’ button with the Forrester logo on top and right next to the image looks a bit out-of-place, maybe it’s just me? The copy could have been more precise in explaining exactly what the whitepaper is about, looks to me a bit vague.

Design #8

  • Email Sender: CoreMetrics
  • Email Title: The Effect of Disconnect

  • What I Like: The header graphic is not some random image but rather helps drive the point the title is trying to make about “disconnect”. Whitepaper shot on right is the right size (you can read the title of the WP) and right below it is a big red “download the full report” button that you can’t miss.
  • What I Don’t Like: A lot of copy in this email in a space that makes it look cramped doesn’t help the reader. The only “download” link seems to be the red button to the right, I would have added a couple more ‘download’ options either within the text or right after it.

Design #9

  • Email Sender: Eloqua
  • Email Title: Using Social Channels

  • What I Like: This is a really nicely designed email. Red header with Eloqua name tells me right upfront who’s behind the email, there’s not too much copy, the right side with the book shot catches my eyes immediately and the orange “download now” button is hard to miss, you know right away where to click to get it.
  • What I Don’t Like: Although the email design is pleasant in the eyes, the message is confusing. The big shot of the book on the right makes me believe that when clicking the “download” now orange button I’ll get that book chapter they talk about, but then there’s that other red download link in the middle saying “Download: The Buyers New Toolkit”. So which one is it? The book chapter or this toolkit?

Design #10

  • Email Sender: BottomLine
  • Email Title: ePayment Networks

  • What I Like: Bit header with the title of the webinar also tells me when it will be held. Big unmistakable “Register Now” button right on top.  Small graphic image to the right helps balance the copy.
  • What I Don’t Like: The paragraph right below the register now button is huge (9 lines), it would have been better to chop it off and make it a bit smaller, especially because the image to the right reduces available space. The copy is good but lacks some emphasis on important points such as the fact that Aberdeen Group will be presenting and a Senior Cash Control Specialist (a customer, maybe?) will be presenting. If they had bolded some of those names it would have drawn attention to that part of the copy making it easier to read and more compelling.

That’s it for this installment of Email Design Gallery. Let me know what you thought of these designs and if you have any to submit, please contact me!


Social Media’s Next Victim?

November 6, 2009

Who doesn’t like to see a big giant fall down on its face, especially if it’s in public? We all like stories of companies that mess up and in the process of trying to clean up their act end up messing up even more. And now with social media, there’s no telling who will be the next United to see its market cap hurt because of a blog post or youtube video.

A recent article (When digital marketing strategies go wrong) from Revolution Magazine, a UK publication, reviews some of the most interesting social media mishaps. While I still believe that social media is not for everyone, those who decide to go this route should at least learn from others mistakes.

What stories or lessons learned do you have to share?


Free Stuff That Sells. Maybe.

June 13, 2009
Free Marketing Stuff Can Sell

Free Marketing Stuff Can Sell

As marketers our job is to generate brand awareness, educate our prospective customers on the benefits of our products and get them to purchase. Effective marketing is about generating sales. Sure, leads and nurturing and all of that are all good but the reality is that unless a sale is made, all that money was spent without any return. Part of the challenge is reaching enough people with your message so that at least a significant number of them decide to buy. And how do you reach even greater number of prospects? Give away free stuff.

Can free stuff sell?

There is a natural resistance among marketers to give whitepapers, webinars, even product spec sheets out for free, especially without requiring any kind of registration. We want names, titles, email addresses, phone numbers, company revenues, number of employees, and while we’re at it give us your annual budget too. What do we do with it? We send it along to the sales reps so tat they can chase these “leads” like eagles diving for their prey. Eagles rarely come back empty handed, though. But that’s another story.

Back to the free marketing stuff. I am enrolled in a free course called Inbound Marketing University, created by HubSpot. It is a free week long online training program featuring some great speakers on topic such as blogging, SEO, viral marketing, email marketing, lead nurturing… all the tools online marketers need to know.

So, why is it free? Because if they charged for it not as many people would register.  Also, the classes (delivered via online webinars, with the archives available afterwards) feature speakers from other respected companies that would love to be able to sell their products to the attendees. I’m not saying that it will be sales pitch university, but I am skeptical. Will it really have all the great insight you get from quality paid courses? Will I get sales calls from each company that is presenting a class? I sure hope yes for the first and no for the second.

As an attendee the question is whether the content will be good. As a marketer (HubSpot in this case) the question is whether sales will follow.

Free marketing that sells

Free marketing stuff can definitely help a company improve its brand and get new customers. People love free stuff, and if it is quality free stuff that you don’t have to regiser for they will tell more people to check it out and those people will tell even more people (viral marketing anyone?). Odds are that someone may eventually buy the product or service. David Meerman Scott is a master at this. His eBook “The New Rules of PR” was offered for free without requiring any registration from his website and was downloaded 250,000 times. When he came out with his hardcover book “The New Rules of Marketing & PR”, it reached number 1 in sales quickly. When people download his eBook and like it, they are more likely to purchase his new book. On top of that, by recognizing David as an expert on the subject and someone that is not emailing you every week with stuff you never asked for, he and his company (Pragmatic Marketing) may get some customers that otherwise would not have even thought about them.

And if you do a simple Google search, you’ll find tons of other free stuff that does not require registration. From free PPC tips, free guide on Facebook for business, free eBook on Twitter for Business, free email marketing guide, and other miscellaneous free stuff (some of which you wish you had never found).

Does it mean we should all offer free stuff without registration on our websites? And how about going a step further and forgo registration for everything else we have on the site, just let people take it? Of course not, but putting some thought into getting quality content available without too many hurdles for the users couldn’t hurt either. Going back to the Inbound Marketing University, what I liked about their registration process is that it was painless, they ask minimum information and so far only relevant emails about the course have been sent.

Whether Inbound Marketing University ends up delivering a great program or just more sales presentations, I will let you know throughout the week as I take their classes (probably more archive classes than live ones, for my free time during the day is fairly limited). The free offer has at least picked my interest so you could say that the strategy is working… for now.

Does free stuff appeal to you? Or you try to stay away from it? Do you offer free marketing materials without registration on your website? Please share your experiences! 🙂


How to Use Social Media – Lessons from AMA Digital Conference

March 7, 2009

This past Friday (March 6) the AMA Tampa Bay chapter hosted an incredible full day event called the Digital Marketing Conference. The room was packet (the number I heard was 80 attendees) and a lot of information was flowing to and from the audience back to the presenters. Talking of which, all deserve credit here:

  • Deana Goldasich, from Magnetic, gave a thought-provoking presentation on web usability that took us for a ride on the evolution of websites since the early 90’s until today. I got a couple pages worth of notes from her presentation.
  • Ron Adelman, from WSI Marketing, discussed Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in a down-to-earth manner that was refreshing at the same time very entertaining. The guy really knows his stuff.
  • Lisa Cardarelli, from Bayshore Solutions, had a more standard powerpoint and although some of the slides were tough to read (10 point font and 15 bullet points per slide), they were packed with good stuff based on a recent client they worked with and how they improved their pay-per-click (PPC) campaign. Some good discussion about the integration between online and print advertising got everyone talking.
  • Brenda Young, from Marbay Group, shared her expertise on the solical media space by talking about what can be considered one of the top rules for any marketer around: Listen First! 
  • Albert Chen, from Google, flew directly from Boston to our cozzy Florida weather to grace us with his presence and gave a thoroughly entertaining presentation discussing what Google Can Do for You. I was prepared for a sales pitch but Albert delivered one of the best presentations of the day while at the same time informing us of all the great tools available for Marketers from Google.
  • Peter Contardo and Shaun Pope, from Endavo Media, gave us a great primer on monetizing online video, clarifying that although easy to create (anyone with a webcam can upload to Youtube), need some thinking before you can actually make money with video.
  • Peter Radizeski, from Rad-Info also known as the Marketing Idea Guy, and Shawna Vercher from the Society of Successful Women and the Huffington Post, delivered the most engaging presentation of the day. Forgoing powerpoint, they showed why they make the big bucks by doing a presentation in an interview style that provided a good respite from powerpiont and was also very educational and full of great tips and tricks on Integrating Blogging Into Your Marketing Strategy.
  • Chuck Palm, from Internet Podcasting Network, closed the day with “Social Media Mania – what should my business do about it?”. He reinforced some key messages we heard throughout the day and added some great stories about Twitter, blogs, and podcasting. The Zappos story about blue suede shoes stuck in my mind as a great example of social media, six degrees of separation, and pure luck 😉

The best of these events for me is actually the networking portion. Is great to be able to discuss your own challenges with other marketers and realize that you’re not alone out there… I met some great people and learned some stuff I can start using right now in my own company.

Just as a sidenote, I thought ironic the fact that for a “digital marketing conference” that focused on social media (blogs, wikis, twitter, facebook, etc.) the AMA Tampa Bay chapter didn’t have a blog, a wiki, or a discussion forum on their website where attendees could continue the conversation. Hopefully the board members also learned how to use social media and we’ll see it being adopted by the chapter.


New Year’s Resolution: Share Ideas

January 3, 2009

New Year’s Resolution: Start a blog to share ideas to improve the effectiveness of marketing managers around the globe.


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