Monthly Archives: February 2011

Is social media changing your world?

We’re in the midst of some rather transformative times. Especially if you happen to live in the Middle East.  Some are crediting Facebook and Twitter as key catalysts that helped to overthrow a 40-year dictatorship in Egypt. This phenomenon has spread throughout the Arab world from Yemen to Bahrain and is currently erupting in Libya. You can follow the revolution on Twitter.

And last year, we witnessed a revolution in Iran from our social media accounts.  Marshall McLuhan believed that all media is transformative – that when you engage it, it changes you. Social media has indeed changed the flow of information to a more democratic forum – especially in more closed societies.

I believe that social media is having an effect on all our relationships. Will it ultimately change the world for the better? I hope so. But one thing I do know is I will not be watching CNN while it happens.

Tips for following events in social media:

  1. Check trending topics on Twitter.
  2. Create a column in Tweetdeck and use it to search a popular hashtag like #libia.
  3. Search YouTube for uploaded mobile video.
  4. Check Facebook for any pages that protesters are posting to.

Don’t assume that people who are not from your country spell the same way you do.  Arabic words, especially, have many translations.

– Jimmy Gilmore, Senior Copywriter

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Filed under Social Media

Checking the Press in a Digital Age

The digital press check can be markedly different than the traditional press check. In a majority of instances, you never have to leave your office. Here are some basic tips to follow to ensure that you’ll have a successful experience.

1) What You See Is What You Get – When you review a proof for a digital press job, you’ll be looking at an actual press sheet printed from the digital press. And this is a key difference between digital printing and traditional printing.  The digital press gives the printer the capability of showing you exactly what you can expect on the actual paper you’ll be printing on.  While some proofing systems can run on the actual paper and generally serve the same purpose, you would have to go on a press check to make sure you’re getting an accurate representation of your client’s material.  With digital printing, you can check the sheet at your desk.

2) I Can See Clearly Now – Just like any traditional press check, you should carefully check for all the basics like type, color, clarity, crop marks, and any other potential problem areas.  Since you’re checking an actual press sheet, use a set of the color printouts of the final file you sent to the printer – this will give you something to check against, just in case there was an issue with the file.

3) The Times They Are A-Changing – Digital printing is the perfect fit when you’re using variable data to reach your client’s prospects. Look at the position of the variable data to make sure it is consistent in placement. Ask your printer to bring you several different press sheets so you can see a variety of line lengths for the names, addresses, and any other area that changes.  Remember to watch for type that might reflow in a paragraph due to length of the variable data.

4) Every Picture Tells a Story, Don’t It – When you have to “color match” a digitally printed piece that was previously printed on a traditional press, ask your printer to run some test sheets so you can see if you need to make any file adjustments. You may encounter this situation from time to time, so it is worth the minimal expense to maintain your client’s brand integrity.

– Tim Kedzierski, Production Manager

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If It Ain’t Broke… Then Just Enhance It

I recently returned from the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA)  trade show in San Francisco for our client Manheim.  We repurposed last year’s “sports lounge” booth, enhancing a few key elements.  Why would we want to use the same sports lounge concept from last year?  Well, it worked.  How do we know it worked?  We looked at the results.

We didn’t just look at anecdotal comments from industry leaders such as Kathy Jackson of Automotive News, who stated in her blog, “They really had it going on at the Manheim booth – sports bar with lots of flat screen TVs and free beer, wine, soft drinks and nuts.  You would have thought you were on the set of ‘Cheers.’  The bar was packed.”  We also looked at last year’s results, such as 800 unique attendees engaged at the booth for an average of 28 minutes per person.

So going into planning for this year’s trade show, the consensus was to go with what worked last year and aim to make it even better.  The primary goals were to increase the number of attendee engagements as well as time spent with the attendees.

First, we increased the size of the booth footprint, making the sports lounge 10 feet deeper.  Since the sports lounge was packed last year, we figured attendees may appreciate more seating and more elbow room.  And, oh yeah, we may be able to engage with even more attendees.

Second, we promoted the sports lounge with news racks near the trade show and pre-show e-blasts to dealers, promoting an NFL replica football giveaway.

Third, we secured and branded a nearby sports bar with 31 interior and exterior window banners, two continuously looped, closed-circuit television spots, napkins and cups.  We invited attendees to join Manheim and watch the “Big Game” between the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers on February 6th after the trade show.  There, we gave away more footballs, iPod touches and iPads.

The results:

  • An increase in unique engagements over last year, from 800 to 1,150.
  • An increase in average time spent in-booth with attendees, from 28 minutes to 32 minutes.
  • Engagement with more than 350 attendees for an average of THREE-PLUS hours at the off-site sports bar.

So what does it all mean?  First, by establishing measurement criteria up front and looking at results, you can evaluate program-to-program performance objectively.  Second, even if previous results were good, they can always be better.  Third, you may not need to reinvent the wheel to drive results.  And finally, people like free beer and sports.

Gary Sayers, Vice President, Account Director

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Filed under advertising, Customer Experience, Engagement, Measurement, Trade Show

Making Your Customers Comfortable

A big part of what makes the online arena attractive to marketers is the ability to engage customers and potential customers in a variety of ways. The most important “engagement” aspect, however, is a user’s experience with the site. If a site is cumbersome and not user-friendly, people aren’t going to spend a lot of time trying to navigate through what is fast becoming a bad experience for them.

Add to that the aspect of being asked to register, and most users will alter their behavior as a result.  A recent study by Janrain in conjunction with Blue Research noted that:

  • 75% of consumers take issue with being asked to register on a website and will change their behavior as a result
  • 76% of consumers admit to giving false information or leaving forms incomplete when creating a new account
  • 54% will either leave the site or not return
  • 17% go to a different site

The research indicates that “…consumers are frustrated with the traditional online registration process and will favor brands that make it easy for them to be recognized.…”

One method that surfaced as a solution to being recognized was being able to sign in using an existing social media log-in such as from Facebook, Google, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Two-thirds (66%) of consumers said that this would be an “attractive solution to the problem.” Of this 66%:

  • 42% feel that companies who offer this are more up to date, innovative and leave a more positive impression.
  • 55% say they are more likely to return to a site that automatically recognizes them
  • 48% say they are more likely to make a purchase

Making your site user-friendly goes a long way in your effort to keep customers engaged. Listen to what your customers tell you about your site. They spend the most time there. Make their time on your site beneficial for both them and you. Like most things in life, people use things that they are familiar with and make them the most comfortable. Sometimes that’s a website, and most times that’s your customer.

– Dave Capano, EVP, Director of Connection Planning

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Engaging with the Big Game

There is no question that I will be engaged in the Super Bowl this weekend.  In fact, it has been on my radar for weeks.  The question is exactly how will I choose to engage?

  • Old School —  Just enjoy the game for the game’s sake.  As a native Pittsburgher with fond memories of the Steel Curtain, swirling terrible towels, and chanting “One for the Thumb,” it’s a logical choice.
  • Facebook Fanatic – Participating in the virtual cheers and jeers that are bound to continue between my Facebook friends who have been posting images of Steeler cheese graters, “Stairway to 7” slogans and other signs of their team affiliations for the past several weeks.
  • Professional – As a 20-year veteran of the advertising and marketing world, there is the obligation to analyze every commercial so that I am prepared to debate the winners and losers with family, friends and colleagues on Monday morning.
  • Twitter Tags – And there is always the appeal of the Twitter buffet of 140-character musings on everything from the plays, the refs, and the commercials to the Polamalu  vs. Matthews “Hair Bowl.”

The truth is, I will probably engage with the Super Bowl in all these ways, as each appeals to me on a different level.

As a marketer, it is also a good reminder that target audiences are multidimensional and will choose to engage with brands and messages in a variety of different ways with different expectations – sometimes all at the same time.  Communications plans need to be as multidimensional as they are.

Pamela J. Alvord – EVP, Managing Director of Strategy and Operations

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Filed under Ad Agencies, advertising, Customer Experience, Engagement, Social Media, Strategy