Tag Archives: marketing

What’s the Buzz about Buzz Marketing?

Buzz Marketing is not a new marketing technique for getting the word out about your product or service. Simply put, buzz marketing is the practice of having volunteers try what you are selling, then having them create a “buzz” about it by chatting about their experience with the people they interact with in their daily lives. With the addition of the internet and social media, creating exciting buzz campaigns can be sensational or engaging.

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This type of marketing is a word-of-mouth technique on steroids, and sometimes great campaigns go viral and the buzz-maker’s opinions become very influential. According to University of Pennsylvania’s Marketing Professor Jerry Wind, “People recognize the power of word-of-mouth in convincing, influencing, affecting consumer behavior, since it has more credibility than traditional advertising. But, it’s a fairly recent development for companies to try to create a structure around the practice, to harness and direct the way that word-of-mouth spreads — and to attempt to measure its effect on sales once the ‘campaign’ is complete”.

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When depending on people to engage with potential consumers by talking about, posting opinions about or blogging for companies to influence purchasing behaviors, ethics may become an issue for some. The Ford Focus Buzz Marketing campaign discussed as a fine example of buzz marketing included giving volunteers a “free” Ford Focus for 6 months in exchange for the promise to engage with potential consumers. I believe that Ford walked a fine line between what is ethical and not with their Focus campaign.

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According to Automotive News, “the 2014 Fiesta campaign will recruit 100 people in May and give them a new Fiesta for a year to create digital content about the vehicle, including tweets, blogs, photos and videos to be shared via social media. Ford calls these people influencers. But this time, the influencers — not Ford’s ad agency, WPP’s Team Detroit — will generate all ideas and content used in traditional advertising”. This strategy depends on the belief that consumer behavior is shaped and influenced by peers and other consumers.

What was the result of this campaign? According to Gearoid McKendrick at UCD Dublin, the campaign received 6.5 million YouTube views, 6,500 follower on Twitter and 3 million Twitter impressions. There were 540,000 views on Flickr, over 15,000 fans on Facebook and almost 1 million Google search results for ‘The Fiesta Movement’. 27,000 blog posts were created and pre –launch awareness of the Fiesta rose to 37% among 16 – 24 year-olds. Most importantly Ford received 50,000 requests for information about the Fiesta in the first 6 days of sale. 97% of these leads did not own a Ford car. Very impactful!

With these tactics in mind, one of the best buzz marketing campaigns out there today is the Syfy channel’s Igniters campaign. This oft-laughed-at, science-fiction-based television channel has grown and expanded into a massive imagination based interactive conglomerate. Syfy now includes all manner of engagement: Interactive TV programming, interactive websites, mobile apps, videos, games, blogs, social media sites which pushes the limits of imagination, science, tech, art & design and creativity. The Igniters campaign seeks and finds early adopters, influencers and the coolest of the coolest fans of Syfy who they all igniters.

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According to the Syfy website, in conjunction with marketing firm PSFK, in order to become an  Igniter, one must be passionate in three areas:

  • FINDING THE NEW: Insatiable need to constantly be in-the-know about the latest and greatest everything, from nutrition and diet to electronics
  • DOING THE NEXT: Must-have mentality drives them to try, do and buy the next big thing such as new stores, styles, drinks and food
  • SHOWING THE REST: Vocal in telling everyone about their latest finds. Because they’re at the forefront, people listen to what they have to say, whether it’s financial matters to car buying

People who are chosen to be Syfy Igniters are not paid promoters, but influential advocates for the Syfy brand. According to the Syfy Igniters website, Syfy hopes that “by opening doors to new ideas, and opening eyes to thrilling new perspectives, Igniters will make the unbelievable…believable”.

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Igniters influence viewer/consumer behavior by posting opinions, promoting programming ideas, sparking trends, blogging and engaging with other Syfy fans. Since its debut in 2012, Syfy reports that Igniter’s “insatiable need to be in the know and to tell others about it” has created an undeniable buzz within the Syfy community and beyond. This direct engagement solidifies the relationship between brand and consumer, and today the campaign is strong and vibrant, just like the Igniters. An effective buzz marketing campaign indeed.

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Of course, ethics should always play a part in who influences who and how. Since this campaign does not monetarily compensate their Igniters, and it is the pure joy of the power of influence that drives these brand advocates, opinions and ideas should be looked at from that point of view. Brand advocates do not usually post anything negative, so the people engaging with Igniters should keep that in mind. Is the Syfy Igniters campaign ethical? Yes, I believe it is, as long as there is full disclosure on who they are and what their objectives are, everyone involved will be happy.

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A 10-Step Marketing Plan for Beginners

Recently, I was tasked with the challenge of creating a 10-Step Marketing Plan (non-proprietary), with no strings attached. After some thought,  I created this short, but informative, 10-Step Marketing Plan that outlines the basic steps that need to be addressed in order to create a successful marketing plan, targeting beginner marketers:

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YouTube Video Link:  http://youtu.be/dyttbfuLXgo

This little-ditty of a presentation is reminiscent of videos shown in college, but it is clear and to the point. I also created a static Slideshare sidekick  for those who like a no-nonsense info show, sans music.

Whether these original Videos are well-received or not is not the “take-away” for me. I enjoyed the process…it was fun to create both medias using a mix of comics created with a  Pixton app, Powerpoint and Slideshare. And I was able to use a bit of creativity to explain basic marketing steps. A win-win situation.

A good way to spend an afternoon indeed.

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Fish & Men: A Feature Documentary for Us All

On March 2, 2015, I had the pleasure of attending a very special event at the Boston Center for Adult Education (BCAE) in beautiful Boston, MA for Fish & Men: A Feature Documentary. This film explores the changing fishing industry while attempting to help the consumer, the environment and most importantly, the fishermen, according to filmmakers Adam Richard Jones and Darby Duffin.

Roger Berkowitz, President and CEO of Legal Sea Foods moderated the event and highlighted the main topic: “A Conversation about Spawning a Sustainable Future”. Delicious, sustainable seafood was provided by Northeast Oceans and prepared by the outstanding chefs at Dole & Bailey, which was served after the 1 ½ hour long informative discussion and viewing of the Fish & Men film trailer.

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The giant takeaway from the event for me was the statistic that 91% of all the seafood Americans eat is imported, with only 1% of that seafood inspected by the FDA. Incredible! Especially considering I live in New England and I eat a lot of seafood.

Through their research and posted on the Fish & Men website, Jones and Duffin found that even in coastal towns, fish consumed in most restaurants and in schools is imported from foreign countries thousands of miles away after being frozen, processed, refrozen and thawed. Meanwhile, healthy fish that might be sustainably fished from thousands of miles of pristine US coastlines are being suppressed.

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The most important issue, as Fish & Men points out, is that while scientists are struggling to count fish and conservationists are trying to save them, America’s oldest fishing community ~ Gloucester, is dying! And with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) imposing a 78% reduction in cod quotas last year and the Federal Government closing the Gulf of Maine in November of 2014, reversing the trend of suppressing American fishing looks daunting.

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Jones pointed out during the event’s conversation that the “great American fish-swap is a determent to our own fishing industry”, with Duffin adding that the current American fishing industry is a “Tale of Two Tunas”, referring to the facts that what is allowed to be caught in the US is mostly exported for processing and then imported back. This must change to keep the American Fishing Industry alive, perhaps using aquaculture, other preservation and sustainability methods and fixing the broken supply chain.

Infographic of “current” supply chain and the “ideal” supply chain:

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The focus of the conversation then turned to how sustainable seafood  and under-utilized species of fish can be sourced locally for consumption. The Fish & Men film depicts how American consumer choices impacts markets and how change in attitudes toward sustainable can drive change, while saving jobs and protecting the marine environment.

The food presented to attendees after the moderated discussion was proof that it could be done.

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Ed Brylczyk, Corporate Chef for Dole & Bailey, and his team put together a wonderful assortment of sustainable seafood apps to drive home the point that under-utilized seafood can indeed be delicious, served with local drinks provided by Polar Beverages and Peak Organic Brewing Company (see food review here).

In the end, my eyes were opened up wide concerning the plight of the American Fishing Industry, what and how seafood is brought to my table and how things can, and must, change.

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The Fish & Men: A Feature Documentary film is due out this October, hoping to be presented at National film festivals held throughout America. Please take a moment to learn about the current crisis with the American Fishing Industry and how we all can stand with Fish & Men to preserve the oceans, fish, our fishermen and fishing communities. As Fish & Men demonstrates, together we can spawn a movement to create a sustainable future for all!

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Donations to support this film and its mission can be made here: https://squareup.com/market/fishandmen (please click “donate”).

Thank you for your support!

 

Competitive Intelligence: Is it Ethical?

Competitive intelligence (CI) is very important in the fast-paced world of business. According to the Entrepreneur website, CI essentially means “understanding and learning what’s happening in the world outside your business so you can be as competitive as possible. It means learning as much as possible-as soon as possible-about your industry in general, your competitors, or even your county’s particular zoning rules. In short, it empowers you to anticipate and face challenges head on”.

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Key points of this definition, as pointed out by Stephen Haag, author of Management Information Systems for the Information Age:

  1. Competitive intelligence is an ethical and legal business practice, as opposed to industrial espionage, which is illegal.
  2. The focus is on the external business environment.
  3. There is a process involved in gathering information, converting it into intelligence and then utilizing this in business decision making. Some CI professionals erroneously emphasize that if the intelligence gathered is not usable, or actionable, then it is not intelligence.

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Ethics does come into play since there is a fine line between using the intelligence you have gleaned illegally or not-so legally. Using information that was gathered legally through many sources, like Spyfu, SEMRush, Ispionage and KeywordSpy are considered legal, since it is public knowledge you are researching and getting analytics about. Illegal information gathering and usage includes exploitation and exposure of trade secrets.

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Take the case of the five HTC employees who used competitive intelligence to learn how to better use their technology to meet the needs of their clients. They used external information to create a new product to gain a better share of the saturated and highly competitive smart phone market for HTC. Little did HTC know that these five employees planned on taking this intelligence, along with trade secrets to “start their own design firm, and had been showing-off internal projects – supposedly resources from the upcoming Sense 6.0 – as a way to demonstrate their creative portfolio to investors”, as reported by Pocketnow.com.

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 It seems that these highly-respected designers and engineers took the external intelligence they gathered to the extreme, and thought they could use that information, in combination with what they knew to be HTC trade secrets to best the company they worked for. The Pocketnow.com website reported that they even went further by “embezzling more than one million dollars, submitting phony expense reports and fraudulent supplier invoices”. They were all arrested and HTC is tight-lipped about what secrets were absconded.

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 In the end, competitive intelligence is very important in the business world. How else would any company be able to be competitive without knowing what their competitors are doing, what external factors of their industry may affect their decisions and how to act upon the information gleaned. Just make sure that ethics are in the fore-front before jumping ship and going the illegal and unethical route.

 

Jaime’s Restaurant: A Hidden Gem

Hunting for a hidden gem, I went to Jaime’s Restaurant located in the beautiful and historic Davis & Furber Mills at 25 High Street in North Andover, Mass. On my  visit there, I had the pleasure of talking with one of the owners, Jaime Faria, who has tirelessly run the restaurant with business partner Wally Santos since November 2010. Along with its collaborative and fresh menu, dedicated staff, cool-vibe atmosphere and great beers on tap, Jaime’s Restaurant is well worth seeking out.

Jaime's Blackboards

As you work your way inside the refurbished machine shop mill to Jaime’s, you are met with high, industrial ceilings and brick and mortar walls, evidence of the wool industry in North Andover that lasted from the late-1800s until the 1980s. Sprinkled throughout the restaurant hang giant blackboards with colorful chalk displays of the menu and specials offered. An inviting atmosphere.

Jaime's Deck

The main dining room has casual seating with a semi-private area for special events or parties, but the bar is the star! As you walk past the open kitchen, the bar wraps around the large  room with seating for dozens of customers. Rock music plays at a conversational level and there are several TV’s to catch the game of the day. There’s even outdoor seating for warmer weather dining, which is nestled in between brick buildings.

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Although the restrooms are in a common area, the view of the original machine shop gears and flywheels painted bright red adds to the appeal of the building and the restaurant’s ambiance.

        nbt aleJaime's Potatoes

 When I sat down at the bar, I was met with a bowl of handmade potato chips served with a tangy and addictive chipotle-ranch dressing. I munched on the kettle-style chips as I cruised the menu, which is changed seasonally.

Jaime's Rolls My choice for food included Sesame Crusted Tuna Ahi, Vegetable Spring Rolls and Chicken Tinga Quesadillas, served with a cold and delicious Newburyport Pale Ale. The Tuna Ahi was thickly cut with generous slices cooked perfectly, served with an Asian slaw and wasabi. A liberal portion of spring rolls was crispy with snappy veggies inside, along with a tasty ginger dipping sauce. The quesadilla was grilled and large enough for three with succulent chicken, spinach and blended cheeses melted together in harmony, dotted with a cilantro crema. Delightful.

Jaime's Beer

North Andover has many dining establishments to choose from, as well as a few good hang-outs for locals, but none compares to the coolness of this well-loved place. The deck will be open in the spring, and I am looking forward to going back to dine outside under the stars and to converse with the regulars. I suggest the next time you are looking for a hidden gem, no matter what season, think of Jaime’s Restaurant. You will not be disappointed.

A New Direction…

It’s time for a New Direction. I am ready to venture out to advance my Marketing Communications and Business Development career. Jumping in with both feet to showcase the value I can provide to a new company is exciting to me. I am confident and prepared to take on the challenge!

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Moving in a New Direction is the most important step in my advancement plan. I have worked very hard, especially over the last three years, to prepare for this move forward.

If you are still reading this, then you probably know me and what I like. If you don’t know me, please connect with me on LinkedIn, Twitter, read my blog or view my video. We may have much in common and your input may steer in which direction I travel.

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With diverse tastes, many passions and vast experience, my Marketing Communication and Business Development skills can transfer to any industry. By continuing my consultancy efforts through Wilder Marketing and staying sharp and on top of trends and technology, I am more than ready for fresh opportunities.

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Today all the help one can get to advance in life is just as important as what one can do. If your company is looking for a Marketing Communications or Business Development Professional in the Greater Boston or Southern NH area, a $500 finder’s fee applies if I get hired through your lead!

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I strongly believe that with a little help from my friends, perseverance and a genuine love for what I do, I will continue to be very successful and happy. What I would like is for all of you to be a part of it.

Let’s go in this New Direction together…

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Come on…connect with me today.

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

“Challenge, Change and Creativity for Life!” ~ Michelle A. Wilder

 
       

Calvin Klein Ads: Too Hot for the Public?

When I think of advertising that stretches the limits of what is decent, I think of the Calvin Klein brand. In Australia, public billboards portraying carnal activities or mostly naked models are banned. Some can understand why. Several advertising campaigns in the last few years alone have raised a lot of eyebrows: CK

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  ck 3 There are scenes of sexuality in various state of action with more than one partner at a time, where lines are blurred and the brand is displayed in a very overt way.

Personally, this type of advertising does not offend me. The heavily-sexual overtones, the erotic innuendo and aggressive themes of the advertising is shocking to most, which is the objective of these real “attention-getters”. Look closely at each ad, and you may find hidden clues to the intention of the participants in the ad.

It is widely known that sex sells, and some of Calvin Klein’s ads are hot, sexy and alluring. It is just what the Calvin Klein brand wants their target consumer (14 to 50 years olds who
desires modern fashion forward products) to think of when they think of Calvin Klein. It is intriguing to see a brand accept alternative lifestyle choices, however, these type of ads should be thought of as provocative and controversial, since they are, and left to adults to ponder, admire and/or repel in a less public setting.

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However, as a proponent of the First Amendment, it is Constitutional to advertise your brand as you see fit, as long as it is legal. Moral advertising is a much grayer area, however. What is considered proper by some may be thought of as offensive by others. Displaying a giant billboard of any of the ads shown in this post could be considered depraved, since young eyes may view these sexually-charged ads. Many people agree with this view, since Calvin Klein has had massive push-back from the public at large where public and massive billboards were exposed in New York City (and as previously mentioned, banned in other places).

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So why would the Calvin Klein brand insist on displaying an advertisement that will certainly bring negative responses from the public at large? In advertising,  the old adage rings true…”there’s no such thing as bad publicity” – which is the same as “any publicity is good publicity”. Controversy is contagious and memorable. Calvin Klein is making use of sex to sell their brand through their advertising, using both traditional and digital methods, and they are doing it very well.

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A browse through the Calvin Klein website and a visitor will find a section where the “average” CK underwear-wearer can post their own photos. A giant billboard also pushes the #mycalvins hashtag feed to everyone who passes by, the very same billboard that is banned in Australia. But talk about acceptance and engagement within their target group (and beyond), since hundreds of photos are posted and shared.

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Calvin Klein has embraced on-the-edge advertising,  just as other companies have, like Tom Ford and Dolce & Gabbana, using sex and suggestion to solidify their brand and sell product. If popularity of Calvin Klein continues to grow, stimulating and controversial ads will continue be made and displayed in public, too hot or not, for the public outcry against the brand has not been as strong as the positive reception with its consumers.

Hershey’s Nuggets Dilemma

Hershey’s Nuggets Dilemma 

Recently, two friends of mine opened a bag of Hershey’s Nuggets Assortment, looking for their personal favorites. I listened to the two of them as they had a hard time finding their much-loved chocolate nuggets, which was intriguing. This is where the ensuing dilemma unfolded over the next hour or so about Hershey’s marketing flaw, and ultimately, their packaging mistake.

My two friends were a (albeit small) focus group for this particular Hershey’s product. Set out on the table was the contents of the Hershey’s Nugget Assortment bag, with four little piles of nuggets clustered together. There are four different types of chocolate nuggets in this assortment bag: Milk Chocolate, Extra Creamy Milk Chocolate with Toffee & Almonds, Milk Chocolate with Almonds, and Special Dark Chocolate with Almonds.

For almost an hour I listened to the two of them talk about the quality of the chocolate, their favorite flavors offered and what they would like to see in the assortment, as well as why Hershey’s decided to put such similar wrappers on the four different chocolates in an assortment bag. This is where my marketing ears really perked up and I had to see for myself what they were talking about.

Upon closer inspection, they were right. The two girls separated the chocolates into piles because they could not discern between the flavors by simply looking at the wrapper.  A marketing flaw was being exposed: the company did not do enough consumer research to know that the packaging was confusing and not well-liked, as least not by these two Hershey’s lovers. My friends stressed that the chocolate is awesome, a great two-bite piece of joy, but finding her favorite flavor wasn’t easy when looking into the bag. Here’s a photo of the four different nuggets:

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As you can see, three of the chocolates are in gold wrappers, with the Extra Creamy Milk Chocolate with Toffee & Almonds and Milk Chocolate with Almonds almost indistinguishable from each other, unless you carefully inspect the tiny writing up close. Only the silver-wrapped Milk Chocolate is discernible from the rest.

Looking at both my friends sitting with their glasses at the edge of their noses, trying to read the wrapper to put the chocolates in the right pile…what a site! I thought to myself, this is a packaging mistake that came out of a marketing flaw. Even the colors associated with the chocolates on the exterior bag didn’t match the chocolate’s wrappers on the inside…see Red, Orange, Silver and White on the exterior of the bag:

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Unless the consumer speaks up and lets the company know that they love the chocolates, but the wrappers need to distinguishable (without offending them), how can this mistake be changed? What a dilemma.

I chose to go the proactive consumer route and write this to let Hershey’s know that their Hershey’s Nuggets Assortment chocolates are loved, but their packaging is not. And as a writer of the Wilder side of marketing, I suggest adding a bit of pizzazz to the wrappers:

Milk Chocolate:

METALLIC SILVER

Extra Creamy Milk Chocolate with Toffee & Almonds:

METALLIC GOLD

Milk Chocolate with Almonds:

METALLIC BLUE

Special Dark Chocolate with Almonds:

METALLIC RED

Once the color scheme (whether it is with these four metallic colors or four other easily identifiable colors), the color theme needs to be carried through onto the exterior packaging as an assortment bag or when sold separately so everything is cohesive. Confusion gone, consumer happy.

In the end, my two friends will not stop buying or enjoying Hershey’s Nuggets Assortment bags, but until the packaging is changed, consumer confusion will remain.

The Happy in 21 Challenge

My Social Media Marketing professor at SNHU, Leila Samii, told me about a campaign her undergraduate class created called “Happy in 21”. The concept is simple: It takes 21 days to make positive changes. Their mission is “spreading happiness through positive vibes in hopes to create a happier world, one person at a time”. The campaign focuses on happiness habits, encouraging quotes and motivational reinforcement themes, all with the intention of making the reader happier. The campaign has a twitter feed: @HappyIn21 and a Facebook page: www.facebook.com/HappyIn21 with a good following for a new campaign #HappyIn21, with active participation.

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I liked this movement since I already practiced daily affirmations with the theme of “Every Day is a Gift”. On April 15, 2013, the city of Boston suffered a terrorist attack at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. I was deeply affected by this horrifying act. I did not know any runners or victims of the bombing, but after listening to the heartbroken words from Krystal Campbell’s mother after she learned her daughter died from the blasts, I knew right there and then that I should be thankful for what I have and to hug those I loved.

Two other people died that day: Lu Lingzi and Martin Richard (extremely sad situations) and another man was shot and killed (MIT officer Sean Collier) during the manhunt. The way I looked at life changed that day. I was going through a very difficult time in my personal life, but my problems were not as massive as the people touched by the terrorist attack. I decided to change my outlook.

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Every day when I get up, no matter how bleak things may seem or how problematic times may be, I am thankful to be alive (it certainly beats the alternative), and I try to find the gift of the day (something to be thankful for or happy about). The gift can be small, like a ray of sunshine after a rainy morning, a smile from my granddaughter, a well-written blog, expertly made sushi for lunch, a good-hair day or few minutes playing with my dog. Or the gift can be big, like the good health of my family, a promotion at work, the great friends in my life or the stable relationships I have. This declaration seems to be popular with millions of people, and I was happy to be on board.

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I bring all this up to get to the Happy in 21 Challenge I decided to take on, which expanded my daily affirmation to include 3 positive thoughts PLUS one genuine “thank you” to one person a day. To say out loud what the gift of the day is was very different than writing them down. For 21 days starting on April 3rd, I wrote down my 3 statements and my 1 “thank you” on my calendar. At the end of the three weeks, I felt happier, more optimistic and less stressed out. I decided to continue the challenge for 2 months. The  results are amazing! Check out my CHALLENGE CALENDARS.

I am a very positive and confident person in general, with an optimistic outlook on life. Although this past year has been one of the most difficult in recent years for me personally, this challenge has helped me put things in perspective. By changing my internal voice to always chant a strong motivational mantra and by reinforcing what gifts life offers in writing and in my thoughts, I can definitely say that I am a better person and happier for it! Every Day is a Gift!

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Old Spice: Thank Your Grandpa!

Old Spice.  An iconic American brand recognized world-wide and loved by generations of loyal customers. Since 1938, Old Spice has been worn by millions of men and adored by millions of women. One whiff of the original Classic Old Spice scent, and I am instantly transported back into time, for both my Dad and Grandpa wore the Old Spice Cologne. I can pick out the smell of Classic Old Spice in a crowd, for it lives up to its reputation (and its self-described aroma), as a “clean, masculine scent”.

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In my household, my husband and two sons all use Old Spice products, namely the deodorant and body wash product lines. The other day, I happened to catch a glance at the back of a Classic Old Spice deodorant container to see the inconspicuous banner announcement: “IF YOUR GRANDFATHER HADN’T WORN IT, YOU WOULDN’T EXIST”.  Well,  then…“Thank You, Grandpa”!

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This boastful pronouncement not only caught my attention, but struck me to be as assertive and confident as the men who use Old Spice. It is well-known that Old Spice marketing have bold, out-of the-ordinary and memorable advertising. Who can forget the “MOMSONG”? Or the “Man on a Horse” spot? These ads are elements of a grand campaign design that elicits a consistent message that is a mix of tongue-in-cheek hubris and manly pride.  Curious, I decided to delve deeper into their marketing efforts.

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When visiting the Old Spice website, you are met with an in-your-face ad showcasing the very buff and manly Terry Crews in a fight with a mini-manly Crews whisker on his face. Another effort to combine humor with you MUST pay attention to me message. It’s weird, but it works. Just like their self-proclamations you find when checking out he Classic Old Spice product line. The theme of longevity is applauded with the tagline “It will still be around, even after Nuclear fallout” while reiterating that Classic Old Spice Cologne helped the world procreate and prosper. Classic is right!

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Continuity abounds, right down to the pop-ups that push the manly-to-the-max and proud of it theme with “Make Your Eyeballs Smell Good” , or “Let Our Server Make Love to Your Computer” CTA tags for their Videos and Downloads sections. Their social media reach is extensive and popular, with several platforms engaging deeply with fans and followers, all while promoting their manly appeal and impressive product lines. Every channel purports the same message of smelling good while doing manly things is OK!                                                                              old spice 7

In the end, the very creative and effective marketing campaigns Old Spice foists upon the world may not appeal to everyone, but the people who appreciate this audacious approach can also relate to the themes they exploit. So, the next time you smell or wear an Old Spice product, be grateful you are alive and remember to thank your Grandpa!

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Cluster Tweeting for Cutting Through the Noise on Social Media

Cluster Tweeting…try it, you may like it (and so may your followers)!

Social Media Made Really Easy.

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How do you cut through all of the noise on social media? The answer: cluster tweeting! As a consumer on social media, our communities are constantly growing. We get new followers on Twitter, make new connections on LinkedIn, find new people to follow on Pinterest and find “old” friends on Facebook. But as a marketer, how do we reach our target audience on social media, when so many other marketers are trying to reach the same audience? On Facebook and LinkedIn it has become a little bit easier due to the algorithms. But Twitter is in real time, there are no algorithms to determine what people see. Everyone sees everything.

It has become really hard today to reach the target audience on Twitter with so many statuses and promotions being shared by both marketers and consumers. Is it possible that the consumer will ever get the Tweet that we sent…

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KFC Chicken Corsage…Why Stop There?

As I prepared for my son’s Senior Prom, I started looking on the internet for a corsage for his date. I came across one of the funniest and most intriguing corsages I have ever seen: The KFC Chicken Corsage.

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Yes, that’s right! A corsage that is made with a chicken drumstick as the centerpiece. The two-minute advertisement that promotes this new item is purposely awkward as the pretty date receives an “Original Recipe” drumstick, surrounded by baby’s breath on a wristlet. The girl replies that the corsage “smells so good”.  Oh my!  Too funny.  At the prom, when the boy closes in on the girl for a kiss, she leans over and takes a bite out of the drumstick corsage instead. It is a quirky, but very creative marketing stunt!

The Kentucky based KFC joined forces with local florist Nanz and Kraft to create the Limited Edition KFC Chicken Corsage for a mere $20.00, which is less than what the smallest wristlet corsage cost in my neighborhood. Don’t fret…if your date prefers Extra Crispy or Grilled Chicken, it can be made! How is it possible that the chicken will be fresh? When you order the corsage, it comes as a kit. According to the florist’s website:

“Chicken not included (duh.). Each corsage kit includes a $5 KFC gift check, so you can customize your corsage with Original Recipe, Extra Crispy or Kentucky Grilled Chicken. Whichever best matches her dress. Local corsages will have fresh baby’s breath and out-of-town corsages will have silk baby’s breath.”

 Choosing chicken that “best matches her dress” is a riot! The language is consistent between the florist’s website and KFC’s, with a tongue-in-cheek tone. As of today, the first 100 Limited Edition KFC Chicken Corsages were SOLD OUT. A second batch of 100 is now available “due to the popularity of poultry”.  Whew! I was worried for a moment.

 

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This effective marketing campaign got me thinking about how KFC can expand on the edible prom accessories theme. Maybe next year they can offer a KFC French Fry Boutonniere, the KFC Chicken Tenders Necklace with Dipping-Sauce Locket, cool KFC Hot Wings Earrings, or perhaps the KFC Biscuit Bowtie.  This way both boys AND girls can eat their accoutrements.

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Why stop there? KFC can propose a KFC-Wrapper Prom Dress Contest. You know…the best dress made with KFC food wrappers will get an all-expenses paid prom night. People who are talented enough to make a dress out of KFC wrappers would go crazy for a contest like that. Talk about exposure.

Or KFC can expand into edible arrangements for proms, weddings and special events. Can you imagine a giant edible chicken finger arrangement, dotted with other KFC products on a stick, as the centerpiece? If a chicken corsage sells out, then why not expand on the idea to include other ways to sell KFC products. It is way-out concepts like this that made the KFC Chicken Corsage a success.

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If KFC would like to hear some more of my possible marketing ideas, I am open and willing to work with KFC’s Marketing Agency: Quantum Communications (QtheAgency), or with KFC themselves. I like their Wilder way of thinking!

Dine Out Boston! Restaurant Week Continues

In Boston and surrounding suburbs, 200-ish restaurants take part in the Restaurant Week promotion run by the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau. Twice a year, for two weeks of weekdays in March and August, participating restaurants offer fixed-priced meals. For the last 13 years, this promotion has run successfully. According to the sponsored website for Boston’s Restaurant Week, after a much-needed makeover, the name changed to Dine Out Boston.

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This year, a new feature was added to the promotion. Three pricing tiers are offered: Lunch $15/$20/$25 and Dinner $28/$33/$38. This expands the promotion’s reach into a larger consumer market with more affordable choices at Greater Boston top restaurants. That is good news for participating restaurants to get greater exposure, and good news for foodies that can now afford to sample some of Boston’s finest cuisines.

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Dine Out Boston has also joined with the Freedom Trail Foundation as a charitable partner. All participating restaurants donate $100 gift certificates that are auctioned off through DOBauction.com to benefit programs run by the Foundation which creates the “most successful ideas for how to experience American history”. A copacetic arrangement.

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One other benefit for diners is the American Express bonus offer. Each enrolled card receives a $5 credit on any purchase over $21. An easy task with a lunch for two at one of the many choice restaurants participating. Offerings include many different cuisines in Boston and surrounding towns, all of which are sure to delight.

Getting word out about the promotion is spread through the Restaurant Week Boston website, a Twitter feed, a Facebook page, a  very funny YouTube video, Google +  and Instagram accounts, Pinterest interest and a huba-huba blog.

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This blog links readers to frequently updated content and encourages comments and interaction. Since the promotion is currently ongoing (March 16-21 & 23-28), the social media penetration is deep and engaging.

For all those who always wanted to get a taste of spectacular cooking from some of the finest chefs in Boston at can’t-pass-up prices, give Restaurant Week a try. Dine Out Boston!

 

Helpless but not Hopeless

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Faced with the challenge of connecting two films that have wildly diverse themes: Isolation from human interaction and digital interaction overload, I settled in for a night of movie watching and note taking. To represent the theme of isolation, the film Life of Pi was chosen. To represent the theme of interaction overload, the movie The Internship was on deck. What I experienced that night made me laugh, cry and in the end, left me with the belief that just because you are helpless, it doesn’t mean that you are hopeless.

The main character of the Life of Pi is a boy named Piscine “Pi” Patel. Pi overcame bullying and religious confusion during his primary school years, to become a young man who “just wanted to love God”.  While growing up on the family Zoo in India, he was a Hindu vegetarian who recognized parts of the Islam and Christian religions to love God in his own way. The sale of the Zoo and transport of the animals, one of which included a special Tiger named Richard Parker, and Pi’s family to Canada on a Japanese tanker, resulted in a life changing experience.

A shipwreck caused the Japanese tanker to sink. Pi found himself adrift in a lifeboat with a zebra with a broken leg, a hyena and an orangutan. Soon, the hyena attacked the other animals, as hyenas would normally do in the wild, only to be eaten by Richard Parker the Bengal Tiger, who was hiding under the lifeboat’s tarp. I wiped away tears as I watched this poignant and mesmerizing film unfold. Pi felt helpless when he realized that he was stranded in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on a lifeboat with a man-killing Tiger. But was he hopeless? No.

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Switching gears to The Internship film, a comedy starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson as salesmen co-workers, I also wiped away tears, but from laughter. These two forty-something salesmen lost their sales job when the watch company they worked for went out of business. In desperate need of employment, they realized needed to be part of the new digital era. An application for an internship at Google accepted by the Google panel when the men used an “out-of-the-box” method of thinking. I thought to myself, they were employing traditional sales tactics of changing a negative into a positive with genuine enthusiasm. Funny interview and well done. They were on their way to Google.

Billy (Vaughn) and Nick (Wilson) quickly finds out how complex and competitive the new digital era is with strange, new rules. What do you mean you can’t take home from work salsa, chips, pudding, sushi, ice cream and pizza? No drinking with the boss? Or dating co-workers? Very funny Green Paddle, Red Paddle scene. Predictably, the weird old guys were left out when voluntary groups were assembled, along with other (more) geeky interns. These quirky salesmen felt helpless amongst this group of young, misfit techies. But were they hopeless? No.

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In both movies, although they are grossly different, they did share a common thread: overcoming adversity. Hope, perseverance, determination and sheer will motivated the men to survive. Pi survived the shipwreck and 227 days isolated at sea. Billy and Nick survived the slow death of watch salesmen and embraced the digital era. The men may have been helpless, but not hopeless, which made them stronger people in the end.

Welcome to the Modern World

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Have you seen the new Esurance commercials where they claim that in just 7½ minutes, you can save money on car insurance? The newest ad stars Beatrice, an “offline over-sharer” who “posts” her vacation photographs by literally taping them to her living room wall, which she thinks is saving her so much time and is so much quicker than (snail) mailing them. Quick like getting a quote for car insurance in 15 minutes. Beatrice’s baffled friend says that she can save more than that in ½ that time. Beatrice “unfriends” her since she doesn’t understand. But it is Beatrice who does not understand that is not how any of the things she does works. The commercial is funny and effective.

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The Esurance online insurance company, backed by Allstate, has been trying to position itself as a modern insurance company, with better services and savings.  To anchor into the consumer’s mind that Esurance is the better way to do things, the advertising stresses that it NOW only takes 7 ½ minutes to get a better insurance quote. Exactly HALF the time it takes Esurance competitor Geico.  This is a more modern approach and memorable.

The integrated marketing campaign Esurance created puts some teeth behind its slogan “Insurance for the Modern World” by having several ways consumers can become involved with the Esurance brand: an interactive website, an excellent Esurance blog, a Twitter account, a FaceBook page, a Google + account and a many YouTube postings. The deep penetration into the social media world by Esurance certainly does cement the notion that they are indeed modern. Their up-to-the-minute posts and involved consumer interactions create brand loyalty and trust. I was impressed with their social media strategy and I do feel welcomed into Esurance’s modern world.

 

Doberhuahua Brouhaha

There were a vast array of Super Bowl ads that gained the attention of the social media world, as well as the admiration of millions of viewers. In my opinion, there were some awful ads (Chobani YogurtGoDaddyMazerati), and a few great ones (Budweiser, T-Mobile, Chevy), but the most original ad was Audi’s Doberhuahua spot.

When I saw this ad, I nearly spit out my beer laughing so hard. The sports bar where I was watching the game was crowded and loud, so the ads message didn’t carry well, but the image of those weird science-experiment-gone-wrong, mix-breed dogs caught my attention. The buzz about the odd commercial created a viral Doberhuahua Brouhaha. I wanted to see what all the talk was about, which had to wait until after the game.

I had the opportunity to view the Doberhuahua ad again the next day in the quiet of my living room. The message of “compromise is bad” did come through but the automobile that was “designed without compromise” , the Audi A3 was overshadowed by the creepy dog. A split-second look at the Audi A3 logo on the car, followed by the last screen announcement of the Audi A3, and that’s all the branding within the commercial that was displayed, at least that is all I saw. The advertisement was creative and visually stimulating with a memorable dog creature but it did not connect the product with the message.

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An informal survey amongst friends, family and co-workers (two weeks after I first saw the ad during the Super Bowl) resulted in a good news-bad news scenario for Audi.

Survey results: Doberhuahua Survey

Good News

Question:

Do you remember the Super Bowl Doberhuahua commercial?

Results:

19 out of 20 surveyed not only remembered the ad, but thought it was very funny.

Bad News

Question:

Do you remember what the product was in this commercial?

Results:

Zero, not one person, could remember that it was an Audi commercial. Three (3) thought it might be a car ad, but was not sure.

Oddly enough, during conversations about memorable car ads, 12 people mentioned that Audi’s Quattro commercials (featuring a sour tow truck driver who is lamenting about the one that “eluded” him) to be very memorable. A much better job connecting the message and the brand’s product over the Doberhuahua ad.

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In the end, the mixed reviews about memorability, message and brand can be useful tools in tweaking messaging and branding in future ads. If all ads that Audi create can be as attention-grabbing as the Doberhuahua spot and as good at connecting message with the brand, then it will hit the mark more squarely on the nose.

Loon Mountain Message: Drive North!

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As I was driving home Tuesday night from work on Route 495 North near North Andover, Massachusetts, a digital billboard was alit on the left-hand side of the highway, high above the traffic below, blazing the message to “Drive North”. This was a curious call to action phrase, and the marketer in me immediately tried to scan the ad, but merging into traffic forced me to pay attention to the road.

In a flash, the digital message changed to advertise another company’s business. Again in 20 seconds or so, a third ad was beaming from up high, and was difficult to miss. The colors emanating from the billboard were brilliant and flashy. Finally the first ad reappeared, and I was able to view the entire ad, which stated: “Winter Storm Coming” at the top of the billboard and “Drive North” under it, with a glowing image of a winter wonderland. A Loon Mountain logo was prominently displayed in the right-hand corner of the ad. Nice, I thought…a snow storm was indeed coming and due in the next day.

This is a glorious, shining, ingenious piece of targeted marketing, pertinent to the soon-to-be-weather, and what Loon has to offer, in a 20-second very hard-to-miss digital billboard ad. Yes, Loon Mountain is approximately 110 miles from where the billboard was displaying the ad, but it certainly put a seed of thought connecting the impending storm with coming to Loon, and what they have to enjoy. The traffic was moving along so I didn’t catch a third viewing, but I absolutely wanted to check out Loon when I got home. And I did.

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What I learned was that Loon Mountain has an involved social media presence. Loon invested in several sites:

Facebook   Twitter   Instagram   Foursquare   YouTube   Pinterest   Blog

They promoted their awesome ski and snowboard facilities through photos, video, daily tweets, daily posts, blogs, and stories. Their website is decent, with easy to navigate links. The Ice Castle is featured as well as supporting “Loon-raised” Annalisa Drew, who is going for Gold at the Sochi Olympics.

Lodging, lessons, events and activities are all found on the home page. Curiously enough, though, I had to go several clicks in to find their non-downhill ski/boarding activities which include Tubing, Snowshoeing and Cross-Country Skiing. Very cool, very fast downhill Zip-Line activities are also offered. Little about these activities are promoted on their social media sites, which surprised me since it does attract people who likes to visit mountain resorts but who doesn’t ski/snowboard. Which brings me back to the digital billboard ad.

It was refreshing to see Loon Mountain grasp traditional marketing concepts as outdoor signage. I do wish more promotion of their non-ski/boarding activities is done to broaden their market share, but what they did with the outdoor signage was fantastic. Their call to action to “Drive North” drove me to check out their website and various social media outlets.

Using a mix of traditional marketing techniques and new media tools that includes an interactive social media model has helped strengthen their brand and promote the greatness that is Loon. I would not have looked up Loon at all if it were not for the strategically placed digital billboard.

When I see Loon commercials on TV, they don’t motivate me to check out what Loon has to offer, but the billboard did. That is a goal of marketers, to get action from their advertising, and ultimately, to increase sales. I may just visit Loon to use their non-downhill activities, and they may eventually get my money, all because of a successful digital billboard ad.

Medtech Marketing and the Mountains

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Marketing medical devices and products is a challenging and tricky job. Oftentimes the medical products I promote help save lives or assist medical professionals with their surgeries and procedures, but can be a dry subject to broach. It takes an enormous amount of creativity to make medical merchandise look exciting enough to entice a client to want to learn more (or ideally) purchase the product, no matter which marketing methods are used.

Recently, the Medtech distribution company I work for adopted a marketing campaign to spread the good word about the products we offer using social media. This is a daunting task since we have to start from scratch. Not only does starting a social media marketing campaign require substantial time and effort, the planning and effective execution of ideas and initiatives tend to have a brain-draining effect. The mind is always on trying to tweak a proposal, think up the next, best slogan or how to expand brand awareness.

I am always willing to learn techniques and tips on how to make our social media marketing campaign better, and sometimes I overwhelm myself with information overload. My weekends are usually filled with chores and homework and marketing campaigns, and this weekend was no different. However, while in the mountains this past Saturday, I learned a valuable lesson concerning social media and Medtech marketing. This is the story about that lesson.

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Early Saturday morning, slivers of sunshine shone through the trees as we drove up the hill to my Conway NH mountain dwelling, brightening the day enough to unload a heavily-packed pick-up. After the 2-hour ride from my Massachusetts home, I was eager to get out and get started. The agenda was pregnant with many tasks, including yard clean-up, anti-freezing our pipes and getting the place ready for winter, not to mention the marketing campaign I needed to work on that night. I dropped out of the truck burdened with what lay ahead while my husband whistled and cheerfully undid rope-ties and bungee cords.

Billy 4-wheeling

My dog jumped from the backseat of the truck to sniff out the property and hunt down fragrant possibilities. The supplies needed to perform our duties were set on the picnic table in our front yard while the food and warm clothing we brought was taken inside. Lastly, our 4-Wheeler was driven off and gassed up ready to transport firewood to the pit. So began our day.

Happy Zebo by the Saco

First-things first: our dog needed to trek a block away to the Saco River to dip into the cold, rushing water. This has become a habit since he was a puppy and barely tall enough to swim. Ooooh, the swish and feel of the river water made my dog smile (yes, smile), and the joy of his happiness made us laugh out-loud. Ten minutes turned into twenty, then sixty, and before we knew it, more than hour and ½ went by. I snapped a few shots with my camera, soaked in the warmth of the sun (which had now risen over the tree line), and sat arm-in-arm with my husband on a drift-log abandoned on the beach. I felt better already, less stressed and lighter. We both knew we had work to do and we reluctantly went back to the house with the intent of getting our chores finished.

Camp Fire

Once back at camp we started a fire to dry off our dog and burn the trash. With the temperatures now rising to an out-of-the-norm range of 50 degrees on an early November morning, we were tempted to abandon our chores and take the 4-Wheeler for a scoot around the trails. We promised ourselves that we will take advantage of the empty grove once the yard was cleaned and home winterized, but a small jaunt wouldn’t hurt, would it? We let the fire burn down and secured our pet before succumbing to the call of the 4-Wheeler. Fighting against guilty urges for abandoning our original plan, we quickly packed a picnic lunch and headed off down the groves trails and out to the expansive fields behind our property.

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As each minute passed, our guilt became a distant memory. The 4-Wheeler whizzed through the tress and over green fields. The sun glared down heating up to an unseasonal 70 degrees. It was a treat be able to strip down to a t-shirt and jeans in November in the mountains. My face beamed with delight as we took turns racing through the woods, jumping over berms and getting air, screaming “Wahoo!” like a kid.

Secret hiding place

Finding a resting-spot was easy since we had (what seemed like) the whole mountain to ourselves since we have been riding for a few hours without seeing another human. We chose a sunny spot at the edge of a field with the beautiful White Mountains in the background and the Saco River at our side.

Lunch wagon!

We ate, drank a few beers, laughed, kissed, told stories we both heard many times to each other and laughed some more. I snapped a few shots of the scenery and of us and embraced the moment. What joy!

Milk pods, river beds and grassy hills.

By the time we made it back to our home, our dog was ready for another swim in the river. We decided to take him back down to the water and set up on the beach so he can be as happy as we were. For the first time all day, we ran into other people. Our neighbors were also up North to winterize their camp, and they had two energetic pups our dog engaged with, much to his delight. Seeing my 10-year old dog play like we was a young puppy was just blissful.

With the sun setting quicker than we wanted, the air cooling off quicker than expected and the beers disappearing quicker than we anticipated, we decided to get back to the house and settle in for the night. We trudged back to the house, made a fat-belly dinner, ate like kings and made plans for doing our chores on Sunday. The sun finally set behind naked trees and called to the on-coming night. Our bodies were simply exhausted from the day’s activities, but our minds were (oddly) completely refreshed! We decided to get to bed early and start at dawn in the morning to deal with the tasks at hand. And we did just that.

View from camp

What does all this have to do with Medtech marketing and social media?  Absolutely nothing! But don’t fret, I did say that I learned a valuable lesson, and I did. When one is over-worked, stressed out and has what seems like an insurmountable amount of work to do, sometimes a bit of goofing off does wonders for the soul. We did our chores on Sunday with vigor, I worked on my marketing campaign with a fresh outlook, and I am now writing this blog to show just how much a little unplanned joy can change attitudes and mindsets.

I truly believe that if we did our chores on that warm November Saturday instead of taking time to enjoy the day, I would not be writing this blog, I would not attack my marketing work with a clear mind and I wouldn’t be ready for the week’s work ahead. So the lesson is to take time to enjoy the simple things, like 4-Wheeling, hanging out with your dog and beers by the river, before tackling the challenging tasks in your life, like Medtech marketing using social media. Good lesson indeed!

A Name To Call Our Own: Syfy

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Since the Sci Fi Channel was born in 1992, many people were mistakenly referring to the Sci Fi Channel with different spellings and configurations: SciFi Channel, Sci-Fi Channel, SCIFI Channel and on and on it went. The brand name Sci Fi was confusing because the network was using a GENRE (Science-Fiction) for a brand name and did not have an original brand name of its own. As reported in the New York Times: “We couldn’t own Sci Fi; it’s a genre,” said Bonnie Hammer, the former president of Sci Fi who became the president of NBC Universal Cable Entertainment and Universal Cable Productions. “But we can own Syfy”.

The seemingly weird spelling of the new brand caught many off-guard: Syfy with a Capital S and a small yfy = one-word branding. There were those who scoffed, ridiculed and out-right laughed at the rebranding decision. The Business Insider Strategy Webpage called the rebranding to Syfy a “disaster”, claiming that around the world, the spelling Syfy is slang for syphilis (an STD).

The Syfy Channel did take it on the chin from loyal viewers and hard-core sci-fi fans. Sci Fi president, Dave Howe (and Bonnie Hammer’s successor) defended the rebranding and said in an interview with Fast Company:

“We were very strategic about how we positioned it, how we communicated, how we made sure our audience didn’t think that this was just another excuse to abandon the genre. We were very specific about why we were doing it and about  why we were about creating a brand that was extendable into new platforms. Then we had a whole roster of sci- fi/fantasy shows that reassured people that actually we were going to be a bigger and better sci-fi/fantasy network as opposed to one that was going sci-fi light.”

Michael Engleman, Executive Vice President and Marketing/Global Brand Strategist for Syfy explained that the Sci Fi Channel rebranding needed during an interview with Boston.com:

“We wanted to create a brand that was broader, more relatable. In a lot of ways our branding was catching up to what we were doing with our programming. We were already pushing the boundaries of the traditional definitions of nonfiction with shows like Eureka and Ghost Hunters.’ So how could we recalibrate our brand to be still firmly rooted in the genre of  science fiction but attach ourselves to this much larger idea, which is the idea of imagination? How do you create a name, how do you create a brand that will open doors to audiences that wouldn’t identify themselves as science fiction fans”?

VP Craig Engler discussed in an interview with Tor.com that the brand had three key reasons for a change:

1. We needed a brand that’s portable and can work in places like Netflix, iTunes and on DVRs. In those environments we can find ourselves competing for space on a text-based menu system where “sci-fi” and “Sci Fi” are indistinguishable.

2. We needed a brand that can support new businesses

3. We needed a brand that’s seen as inclusive to potential new viewers, and a brand that reflects the broad range of imagination-based entertainment you’ll find on our network.

To help with the rebranding task, the executives of Sci Fi channel went to Proud Creative, the self-described creatively-led multidisciplinary design studio based in London. Their website boasts being known for “delivering appropriate and memorable solutions”.

In collaboration with ManvsMachine Studio, Proud Creative listened to what the Sci Fi channel wanted “an ownable and distinguishable brand identity; retaining the positive associations from the genre of science fiction, whilst appealing to a broader audience and embracing the benefits of imagination”.

Well, it looks like Proud Creative did just what the executives asked for and helped deliver a memorable logo and new branding that encompassed their genre, audience and ideas of imagination with Syfy.

The name change also came with a new tagline “Imagine Greater”, instead of the Saturn-like planet logo of the Sci Fi Channel. This new slogan encompasses all that the brand thinks of as imagination boasts the Syfy website: the full landscape of fantasy entertainment, the paranormal, the supernatural, action, adventure and superheroes.

This new brand is memorable and could be trademarked, a giant advantage over the old Sci Fi name that could not be trademarked due to is broad genre attachment, and trademarking can lead to other associative branded Syfy Ventures (like Syfy Games or Syfy Kids).

When researching how and when the Syfy one-word name spelling was first thought of, then Sci Fi VP Craig Engler discussed in the same interview with Tor.com that the origin of “Syfy” went as far as a year back, when a new hire Michael Engleman was brainstorming one bleary-eyed night:

“We specifically began considering Syfy about a year ago, when Michael Engleman joined the network as our new VP of Creative. It was a great time for us to get the perspective of someone new, and Michael happens to be a creative genius, which helps enormously”.

In Michael’s own words in an interview with Up-Load.com:

“I knew how important our roots are, and knew where we wanted to go in the future, and I asked myself a simple question. What if we could change the name without ever changing the name? Five minutes later, with a ballpoint pen and a piece of scrap paper, Syfy was born”.

A creative genius indeed. The Syfy rebranding is a success. And now it is on to bigger and better things. The “Imagine Greater” slogan and what it means to encompass all things imaginative from using social media to choosing programming diversity for a broader audience and a bigger marketshare for the Syfy Channel will be discussed further in my next blog.

I’ll be back, Geeks!

Syfy: Not Just For Geeks Anymore

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The programming and offerings at Syfy has changed throughout the years, but was always, and still is, based on imagination (hence their tagline “Imagine Greater”).

In 1992, the newly formed and originally named Sci Fi Channel had a programming mix that included genre movies, classic science-fiction TV-shows and a spattering of monster movies.

Soon the programming changed to meet the customer’s needs and budget of the network at that time. A snapshot of programming milestones is displayed below and gleaned from the innermind.com website:

1992: The original Sci Fi Channel aired for 24 hours, with infomercials 3-7 a.m.to fill air-time.

1993-1994: Infomercials was dropped, which was a move forward for the new network, with 1-3 a.m. block a repeat of the 8-10 p.m. block. Modern sci-fi TV shows added, like Quantum Leap and a science-fiction trends show called Sci-Fi Buzz was created.

1995: The original Sci Fi website was created called the “Dominion” now called syfy.com (which is fantastic), as well as the Science Fiction weekly on-line magazine and the Sci Fi magazine for geeks looking to read about sci-fi. The 1st annual Twilight Zone marathon for the New Year began (with much delight for the viewers).

1996-2000: Anime dubbed in English was added, with original programming showing up in the line-up. Horror was becoming a regular featured genre.

2001-2008: These were big growing years for the Sci Fi Channel… Sci Fi Pictures is created to make original B-movie films that let the viewer escape into fantasy or fun-bizarre non-reality experiences, and with titles like Dinocroc,Frankenfish and Mansquito how can you not have fun?

Delving into disaster movies of the peculiar variety were also made, like Polar Storm and Deep Shock, along with horror movies like Rock Monster and Boogeyman, along with a handful of alien and space danger movies. Successful mini-series productions by Steven Spielberg called Taken won an Emmy for best mini-series, and Battlestar Galatica went on to become a 4-year-long running series. Paranormal programming was added with the popular show Ghost Hunters, as well as non-sci-fi programs like WWE wrestling (who signed a multi-year deal).

2009: Sci Fi Channel rebranded to be named Syfy  to encompass a broader view of imaginative programming. Original shows like Warehouse 13 and Haven were produced to add to their original series already popularized like Eureka and Stargate SG-1.

2010-2013: Face Off, what is considered a competition “reality” show, tops the charts as one of the most popular Syfy shows, adding to the list of unscripted programs like Destination Truth and Fact or Faked. Defiance becomes a much-watched show about post-alien invasion Earth, a common theme taken to the extreme.

According to the Syfy website:

“We’ve always defined “sci-fi” a lot more broadly than most people. For us “sci-fi” includes a broad range of imagination-based entertainment, including science fiction but also fantasy, the paranormal, adventure, horror and larger than life personalities, among others.”

The programming seen today reflects this attitude. I believe that with the broad idea of what sci-fi is, Syfy has tapped into a large and involved fan base that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, anytime soon. I personally love sci-fi, B-movies (the weirder the better i.e Sharknado-combining disaster with monster sharks or Sharktopus-combining a shark and octopus), paranormal, horror, classic TV with a twist (think Creature Double-Feature – a childhood favorite show) and creative competitions.

As long as Syfy keep cranking out programming that reflects both love for the old and new in the sci-fi scope of what they define it as, they will continue to show that they are not just for geeks anymore (there really is something for everyone), and I am confident that they will have continued success.