Tag Archives: engagement

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

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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Holiday card selection underscores the importance of segmentation

Being a strategist, writing holiday cards is always a bit more complex for me than the average person.  I am driven to sort, segment and select:

  • Finding a card with a nativity scene for your most religious Christian friends
  • Sending an image of Jolly Ole St. Nick for kids and people who celebrate Christmas in a more secular fashion
  • Ensuring Jewish friends get a blue menorah and Hanukkah greetings (usually sent early, so as not to miss the holiday altogether)
  • Thinking I might need a Kwanzaa card, or at least one with a non-Judeo-Christian message
  • Offering Peace on Earth to those who categorize themselves as spiritual more than religious
  • Avoiding wishes for a Happy Healthy New Year to those with long-term health issues
  • Compromising with snowmen, snowflakes and other winter scenes for everyone else

This year’s round of holiday greeting segmentation got me thinking.  Do most marketers make this much effort to recognize different audiences and message to their needs?  Or do they send the marketing equivalent of a card that simply reads Happy Holidays – non-offensive, but also absent any insight or deep relevance to the recipient?

May I suggest a New Year’s Resolution for most marketers out there?    Take another look at your target audience and ask:  Who are they?  What drives them?  And how does my product/service align with what’s important to them?

It just might lead to a more segmented, personalized marketing plan; one that engages and motivates your target in new and powerful ways.

— Pam Alvord, EVP, Chief Brand Strategist

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Office Pools – the epitome of compelling, measurable engagement

It’s been said that U.S. employers lose an estimated $1.8 billion in productivity during March Madness.  What is it about office pools that not only drives employees to spend so much time planning, watching, and discussing, but also drives employers to look the other way?

Whether it’s “March Madness,” college football bowl pools, or even the weekly football pick ’em, office pools are a compelling form of entertainment that provides an office common ground in a friendly, competitive environment.

The days of copying a sheet of paper and turning it in to the office pool manager have succumbed to the digital age.  One only has to type ”office pool” into Google to see page upon page of office pool variations with free and pay-to-play websites and software.  Many of these websites and software provide tips and post-pick analytics in real time, so that everyone can see the results and how they rank against the competition.

It’s a time when the office sports geeks and sports agnostics are on the same wavelength, as employees become more engaged with one another.  Water-cooler talk turns from gossip to last night’s upset and today’s Cinderella.

Maybe employers look the other way because it’s an easy way to improve employee morale, or maybe it’s just because they’re in on the action, too.  Regardless, it’s easy to see why something as compelling, measurable, and engaging as office pools continue in the work environment.

With that, feel free to join us in some compelling, measurable engagement by participating in the 2010 Kilgannon College Bowl Pool.  It’s free to play, and you could win a gift card.

— Gary Sayers, VP, Account Director

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Social Media doesn’t mean traditional word of mouth is dead

These days, it seems we can’t make a purchase decision on our own.   We literally have the world at our fingertips, and can seek out the opinions of like-minded individuals, subject-matter experts or data aggregators before we pull the trigger.

In fact, there’s so much talk that some speculate it has watered down the impact of buzz or chatter about a brand.  We “like” things at a frenzied pace, we post and comment, tweet and re-tweet, subscribe and forward.  But as volume increases, so does our desire for more, and our need to know what others think.

Consider these stats from independent research studies conducted earlier this year:

  • When asked what sources “influence your decision to use or not use a particular company, brand or product,” 71 percent claim reviews from family members or friends exert a “great deal” or “fair amount” of influence.
  • 53 percent of people on Twitter recommend companies and/or products in their Tweets, with 48 percent of them delivering on their intention to buy the product.
  • The average consumer mentions specific brands more than 90 times per week in conversations with friends, family, and coworkers.

If you don’t trust statistics, just think about the power of word of mouth (WOM) when something bad happens with a brand.  In this age of social media, word travels so fast that damage can be done in a matter of minutes.   As Winston Churchill put it, “A lie will travel half way around the world before the truth even has a chance to put its pants on.”

So, WOM is powerful.  But what exactly constitutes a WOM program? The Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) has been kind enough to provide a list of 11 types of programs:

  1. Buzz Marketing: Using high-profile entertainment or news to get people to talk about your brand.
  2. Viral Marketing: Creating entertaining or informative messages that are designed to be passed along in an exponential fashion, often digitally or by e-mail.
  3. Community Marketing: Forming or supporting niche communities that are likely to share interests about the brand (e.g., user groups or fan clubs) and providing content for them.
  4. Grassroots Marketing: Organizing and motivating volunteers to engage in personal or local outreach.
  5. Evangelist Marketing: Cultivating evangelists, advocates, or volunteers who are encouraged to take a leadership role in actively spreading the word on your behalf.
  6. Product Seeding: Placing the right product into the right hands at the right time, providing information or samples to influential individuals.
  7. Influencer Marketing: Identifying key communities and opinion leaders who are likely to talk about products and have the ability to influence the opinions of others.
  8. Cause Marketing: Supporting social causes to earn respect and support from people who feel strongly about the cause.
  9. Conversation Creation: Interesting or fun advertising, e-mails, catch phrases, entertainment, or promotions designed to start word-of-mouth activity.
  10. Brand Blogging: Creating blogs and participating in the blogosphere; sharing information of value that the blog community may talk about.
  11. Referral Programs: Creating tools that enable satisfied customers to refer their friends.

Some may argue that not all these programs should fall under the WOM umbrella.  I would argue that it really doesn’t matter.  Programs like these will get people talking about your brand.  And the more people are talking, the more opportunities you are creating to sell!

— Ellen Repasky, SVP, Account Director

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Lessons on Engagement from the California Angels

I recently attended a trade group meeting, where I connected with industry colleagues from around the country. Stories about survival during these challenging economic times abounded – many shared their struggles and ups and downs, and some even noted the unexpected success they are having this year, although many would not have predicted it. That speaks to the changes in how clients choose to work with marcom firms in general.

During one of the sessions, the president of the California Angels baseball team spoke. He brought his marketing director, who walked us through how they re-branded the team over the last several years.

I would classify myself as a “semi-interested” baseball fan. I’m originally from the Bronx, so the NY teams are part of my DNA. However, I’ve lived in Atlanta so long, that the Braves now join that molecular strand. But what I found interesting about the Angels presentation was how they continually strive to engage their customers — from the die-hard season ticket holders to the differing segments of their market, most notably, the female constituency.

They also work hard to employ best practices throughout Major League Baseball. Along with the World Series winner, the San Francisco Giants, the Angels employ eight customer service specialists who are assigned to season ticket holders. Their responsibilities include: engaging with each one and reaching out to make sure they are happy, proactively inquiring if they need anything, and leaving the door open for these valuable customers to reach out anytime they wish.  As a result, the Angels claim one of the top season ticket holder renewal rates in MLB.

The two speakers shared many stories, and one thing rang clear — they are devoted to their fan base — whether long-time season ticket holders or the family who visits one time. They are mindful of prices at concession stands as well as on merchandise. They have a supportive owner (after the Autry family, then the Disney ownership debacle, now to a businessman owner who seems to “get it”).

What are the lessons? (1) Attend industry events and meetings so you hear stories like this firsthand, and (2) engage frequently with your customers to make sure they come back time after time because they love your brand and how it makes them feel.

— Rena Kilgannon, Principal

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Engagement the Steve Jobs Way

Carmine Gallo recently summarized 10 key takeaways from his book The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs:  How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience.  As I read them, I was struck by how well these guidelines apply to the development of engaging marketing messages.

  1. Plan in Analog
  2. For marketers, this is an endorsement of the simple tissue session.  Nothing separates big ideas from tactical one-offs faster than a stack of paper and a supply of Sharpies.

  3. Create a Twitter-Friendly Description
  4. Challenge yourself to clearly communicate your message in 140 characters.  The MacBook Air undoubtedly has numerous attributes, but Steve Jobs simply promised, “The world’s thinnest notebook.”

  5. Introduce the Antagonist
  6. Every good story needs a hero and a villain.  While your marketing campaign may never feature your villain as boldly as Mac does, a clear understanding of your antagonist is a powerful way to ensure your brand is positioned as the hero.

  7. Focus on Benefits
  8. Most brands use laundry lists of features to promote their product or service.  However, people are more likely to be motivated by benefits that address their problems.

  9. Stick to the Rule of Three
  10. Three is simply easier to remember than four, six, or eleven.  Plus, three has inherent drama; just ask any playwright or comedian.

  11. Sell Dreams, Not Products
  12. Most products are swiftly becoming commoditized.  Even truly revolutionary products are not likely to stay that way for long.  What can a marketer do?  Build emotional connections.  They last longer and even can transcend a misstep or two

  13. Create Visual Slides
  14. For marketers, this means looking beyond product photography.  Macs are beautifully designed, yet they don’t appear in the Mac vs. PC television campaign.  Instead, the personification of each brand establishes visual imagery far more powerful than what even the most beautiful product shots could have created.

  15. Make Numbers Meaningful
  16. Numbers often need context if you want people to truly understand them.  Communicating that it only takes one dollar a day to feed a starving child certainly puts a different perspective on the plea for a $365 annual donation.

  17. Use Zippy Words
  18. Adopt powerful language.  Ban the buzzwords.  Even create your own terminology.  Thanks to marketing, terms like scrubbing bubbles, ring around the collar and wassup are universally understood (and strongly associated with the brands that created them).

  19. Reveal a “Holy Smokes” Moment
  20. The creative brief might call it the net takeaway, the single most important idea, or the insight.  Call it whatever you want, just make sure that it is dramatic, motivating, and powerfully represented in your final creative product.

Steve Jobs’s final presentation tip is to practice – practice a lot.  For marketers this means to continually test, measure, evaluate, and optimize.  If not, our fate will be Einstein’s definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.

— Pamela J. Alvord, EVP Chief Brand Strategist

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