Tag Archives: strategy

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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A Good Move for Goldman Sachs?

There has been a lot of hype surrounding the recent launch of Goldman Sachs’ advertising campaign.  The firm that has built a reputation for being a group of elitist “bad boys” wants to change its image.  Perhaps it was the reference to the firm as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity” in a Rolling Stone article that caused the firm to act.  In any case, the most profitable U.S. securities firm in Wall Street history wants the public to know that it creates jobs and loves the small-business community.

The firm’s first ad appeared in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, and it has been reported that ads will follow in other daily papers across the country.  Initially, I was surprised that their first effort to “repair their image” was via a full-page ad in two of the nation’s costliest media outlets.   If the firm’s message is one of inclusion and engagement, hence the tagline, “Progress is everyone’s business,” why is Goldman Sachs choosing to limit its campaign to a one-way message rather than engage the public with an integrated campaign that includes social media and public relations tactics?

A Goldman Sachs spokesperson said the advertising campaign is meant to “reflect the work we do for clients and the effect on the economy as a whole.”  Writing and circulating stories about the work they’ve done, the jobs they’ve created, and the industries they’ve helped would bode well in social media and traditional public relations.  In today’s environment, these tactics can be the most powerful weapons in a marketing arsenal.

What do you think?  Is Goldman Sachs on the right track to repair its image?

— Debbie Dryden, VP, Thought Leadership


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Drowning in data? Start with a clear strategy to effectively measure your marketing.

Analytics, Dashboards, Scorecards, ROI – these are some of today’s hottest marketing buzzwords, yet the industry still struggles to achieve true accountability.  It’s not that we don’t aspire to it:

  • Increased accountability is a key aspect of the ANA’s Marketers’ Constitution
  • 31 percent of respondents to the CMO Council State of Marketing Study indicated that they intend to improve marketing performance measurement in the next year
  • Another 32 percent of study respondents said they will also be looking to upgrade customer data integration and analytics.

Marketers are not suffering from a lack of information – we’re drowning in Google Analytics reports, Webtrends data, Social Media sentiment charts, Facebook friends, CPCs, and CTRs.  The issue is more a lack of actionable insights.  Just because something can be quantified, doesn’t mean it is valuable.

Data and analytics are only as good as the objectives that drive them.  Data without strategy is nothing more than the analytics equivalent of an Oscar-winning Sally Fields (You like me, you really like me, or as she actually said, You like me, right now, you really like me.)

Effective measurement must start with clearly stated, strategic marketing objectives.  Your plan will be even more actionable if those objectives are quantifiable, realistic, and aligned with business goals.  Most marketers would benefit from thinking in terms of KPIs – Key Performance Indicators – because the language itself demands an articulation of the performance that is expected as a result of the marketing efforts.

So, how can marketers achieve their accountability goals in 2011?

  • Focus on strategy before diving into the data
  • Don’t assume that the information is valuable just because it is a number
  • Identify and measure the path from engagement through conversion
  • Hold yourself accountable to real business results

And finally, heed the warning of the Cheshire Cat, who said, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

— Pam Alvord, VP, Chief Strategist



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How engagement can fall short

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone; the world is changing. People are receiving up-to-the-minute information as news is happening, rather than wait for the 6 o’clock news. News stations (CNN, MSNBC, Fox News) report updates on their websites, and Facebook and Twitter posts have become the definition of “current” events. As technology continues to develop, advertising, too, must learn to reach audiences in new, compelling, and engaging ways.

The digital age is upon us, and with it comes more ways to reach audiences than ever before.  Today, audiences are targeted through social media sites, online banners, search engine optimization, and limited online TV commercials. Even though advertisers have many more venues to reach new customers than ever before, it’s a stretch for some of these media to have a discernable impact. But I came across one such campaign that was so compelling, I had to share it with everyone I could.

This campaign was intriguing, interactive, and engaging enough that I wanted to continue “playing” with it long after my first video finished. But after five minutes, could you tell me what the brand was? You may recognize the product and what it can do, but do you know the brand? (The answer is Tipp-Ex, a brand of correction fluid, owned by BIC, better known in Europe). While the concept of this campaign is incredibly strong, the execution fell just a bit short of turning an engaged audience into a new supply of consumers. And, after all, isn’t the end goal of advertising to sell products?

Here are three steps that Tipp-Ex missed that could have turned the compelling, engaging campaign into one with positive, measurable results:

  1. Continue using the product. Clearly, there are many videos that Tipp-Ex produced for this campaign. Allowing me to “use” the product in order to create a new blank would have had me interacting with the product directly. Repetition would have made me recall the brand next time I’m ordering supplies.
  2. A link to the website. There are more than 6.8 million views (at the time of this posting) to this video, but not a single clickable link to their site. Can you imagine what 6.8 million views would have looked like had they been allowed to visit a microsite or landing page? Then, Tipp-Ex would have had a targeted, active audience on THEIR site, and not just some YouTube link.
  3. A call to action. While I enjoyed interacting with the videos of this campaign, once I was done, I was done. The campaign did not provide an opportunity for me to further my involvement with the brand by offering a call to action. A simple coupon (on this yet-to-be-executed website) that could be printed and taken into any office supply retailer to be redeemed will have me asking for this brand by name next time I’m in need of correction tape.

With these three additional executions to the concept, uninterested Web surfers could have become interactive and engaged audiences and converted into measurable consumers, and perhaps loyal brand stewards.

— Jonathan Ginburg, Senior Account Executive


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Gut Is for Gamblers

It sure seems as if the days of developing creative and hoping that it breaks through, resonates with the target, and drives sales are over.  There is not a lot of appetite for statements like, “I think this is gonna work.”  Unless you can say, “I know this will work,” and back it up with some data, you run the risk of having your marketing programs killed and your budget diverted elsewhere within the company.

Marketing is being held to a higher standard, and rightfully so.  We are at the point where nearly every target interaction can be measured in some manner.  And if you’re like our clients, you need all the data you can get to prove that your programs are working, and justify future budgets… and maybe even your job!

But what about front-end analytics?  Sure, we always do our homework at the start of any assignment and try to learn everything we possibly can about the target and what they might respond to.  But is that enough?  What happened to the days of pretesting and being prepared to answer the question “Will this really work?”  I know… there’s never enough time or money to do it properly, and the creatives really hate it.

With every marketing dollar being scrutinized, improving your results by just a few percentage points can make a huge difference.  Sure, you can test lots of digital work on the fly, but what about print, direct, and broadcast?  Those media aren’t dead just yet!

It doesn’t have to be an elaborate, time-consuming process.  Here’s what I see as the seven keys to a successful pretest:

  1. Set specific goals and have a detailed analytics plan in place prior to implementation.
  2. Make sure all the core team members have bought in and are on the same page.
  3. Keep it simple – don’t test too many variables at one time.
  4. Understand the outside influences that can disrupt your test, and be prepared to mitigate them.
  5. Test a large enough sample to make good decisions and make sure the test group represents your target.
  6. Execute the plan – don’t let people redirect it in midstream.
  7. Commit to making changes based on what the results tell you.

So don’t be afraid of pretesting.  Embrace it.  Your future may depend on it!

– Stephen Weinstein, Director of Account Management


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Lessons from the front lines

My colleague Karla Chambers recently wrote a blog about her experiences on location with a street team in Henrietta, New York, for one of our clients, NYCM Insurance. She painted a good picture of the actual experience of being at the fairgrounds and seeing the masked, hooded, numbered people.

For any marketer or advertiser with similar challenges to what NYCM Insurance has been experiencing—multinationals trying to eat their lunch, lower penetration in some key markets, and, of course, in this economy, an everyday challenge to attract and win business—there are a few points to be made beyond just the sexiness of the execution.

Start with the idea that your next campaign needs to be an integrated campaign. The work should touch as many delivery channels as possible. In the case of NYCM Insurance, that included a grassroots presence (the aforementioned street teams), the booth, paid search, social media ads, an optimized landing page, online video, radio and more. We also had a very robust PR initiative wrapped around the program. The media landscape is so fractured these days, even within B2B, that relying on one or two channels for messaging just doesn’t cut it.

In order to have a campaign that is versatile enough to carry across multiple channels, and most importantly, not just be cookie cutter in each of those areas, but use the properties of the media to its advantage, you need two things: a smart strategy, and from that strategy, a compelling idea. There is an inescapable bond between the strategy and the idea. And the test of whether you’ve nailed them is how fundamentally sound and engaging they stay even after they have been translated into various media. Will the idea be translatable at the grassroots level and also be translatable into sight, sound and motion for video and also translatable into words for paid search? And will each of those translations use the best properties of the media to its benefit? If not, then you’re not done yet.

Lest you get the wrong idea, I’m not suggesting this is easy. In fact, it’s quite hard. And it takes time. To do it right takes bold leadership and shepherds on both the client and agency side to keep it from going sideways. Thankfully, in the case of NYCM Insurance we had both.

Integrated campaigns should also be measured campaigns.  Build a scorecard. Define an expectation. Follow the data. It is possible to measure everything provided you’ve been smart about it up front. (Full disclosure, I may have just gotten a gold star from my partner and resident analytics guru, Mike Reineck.)

In summary:

—Make your next campaign an integrated campaign

—Make sure you have a smart strategy

—From that strategy, make sure you have a compelling idea

—Measure it.

—Let it rip.

— Chris Schlegel, Creative Director


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Unconventional Marketing Strategies Work

It’s July and it feels like a sweltering 100 degrees in Henrietta, N.Y, just outside of Rochester. Despite the intense heat, hundreds of neighboring residents descend upon the county fairgrounds with the expectation to enjoy  “carnival” food, amusement park rides, demolition derby, live entertainment, vendor booths, and roaming silent MASKED PEOPLE!?!

Who are those people in the white hoodies and masks?

What’s up with the number on their masks?

Their shirts read, “My insurance company treats me like a number.”  I wonder who they work for?

Upon entrance to the Monroe County Fair on July 17, fair-goers were greeted by a group of people dressed in white t-shirts, hoodies and numbered masks. Expressionless, these masked individuals stood motionless and did not utter a word to those who inquired about their presence at the county fair. It is not until people approached the distinct orange NYCM Insurance trailer with a masked mannequin to greet them that they were able to learn how NYCM treats each person as an individual and not a number.

The presence of the street team coincided with the launch of NYCM’s new advertising campaign, and by all accounts, the unconventional marketing strategy was a success.

Fair-goers were intrigued and drawn to the street team’s presence because of an emotional cord — we all want to be valued as individuals and treated accordingly by businesses. The presence of the street team drove fair-goers to the NYCM booth and website and increased inquiries about NYCM’s home and auto insurance services.

NYCM’s masked street team is a good example of an unconventional strategy that reaped great results. What unique marketing tactic could your company employ to communicate its core messages and set itself apart from the competition?

— Karla Chambers, Account Executive


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