South by Southwest or better known as SXSW, is an interactive, music and film festival. A few of us, Broganites, set off on our travels to take part in the interactive portion of the festival. In particular, I was a SXSW virgin. However, I was excited to lose my v-card and participate in networking events, panel discussions and other social activities surrounding tech innovations.
My first thought was that it all was extremely overwhelming. There were probably over 50 events or sessions you could choose from per day. And there were always going to be 1 or 2 that you could tell would be a waste of time once you sat in them for the first 10 minutes. But overall, the tech leaders that made up the panel discussions and sessions were really insightful. They made you think. After a session you would feel more empowered, more knowledgeable and maybe even invincible. There was also the feeling of: When I get home I am going to be the first one in my office to know about the next great tech idea!
I had a few favorite sessions and here’s what I learned from them:
I Used Data Analytics to Game Online Dating – I was under the assumption that this solo speaker, Amy Webb, was using the title as a metaphor. I thought I was going to a session about social media analytics. Boy was I wrong! It really was about her dating life. This woman created an algorithm to find her husband on an online dating platform. It was even considered rated “R” according to the SXSW organizers – only because she used colorful, raunchy-ish language. Even though it wasn’t what I expected, I really found it very entertaining and humorous. And I may even buy Webb’s book, Data: A Love Story, once it is released in 2013.
What’s So [Bleeping] Hard About Social ROI? – There isn’t one! Or at least there isn’t a universal social media ROI. The panel from this session discussed that you shouldn’t use sales as a goal for social media. Social media is about building relationships directly with the consumer. For those folks who have created their own ROI for social – your formula should be used as a benchmark. However, it’s not an absolute science or equation. My favorite quote from this panel was “What’s the ROI in not doing social?” from Craig Daitch a Social Media Manager for Ford Motor Company.
Social Media Is a Bubble and SXSW Is a Fad – This panel of 5 had lots to say. It was a combination of humor and opinions. All but one of the panelists agreed that social media was a bubble. They were preaching that the social community should figure out how to manage the bubble once it bursts. How do we create value from the burst? I think the creative talent that comes out of this burst will need to be placed in new companies. However, this could be good because they will bring new and fresh ideas to wherever they land. This was by far my favorite, because these people who are looked at as social leaders were being realistic and having a real conversation about the social phenomenon. It is here to stay; the question is when will it become just another medium? After the bubble bursts?
So there you have it, those were my favorite sessions from SXSW. And I can now say…I am no longer a virgin, and it was mind blowing! If you were in Austin last week, what would you say was your favorite session? If you weren’t in Austin last week, does this sound like something you would want to be a part of next year?
Did you know that March 25th is the kickoff date for Michigan STEM Awareness Week? You’re probably wondering what is STEM and what does it have to do with me? Well, STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. It turns out that STEM occupations are the highest paying, fastest growing, most influential jobs of the future to drive economic growth and innovation. Which we all know is important for the State of Michigan. Michigan STEM Awareness Week is being sponsored by the STEM Alliance of Michigan (SAM).
I had the pleasure of working with these forward thinking folks on a TV spot to promote STEM education awareness. Working with the kids featured in the spot was too much fun, they were spontaneous, charming and hilarious. It’s times like this that I love my job. A job I couldn’t do without my MAC and technology. So learn more about the good stuff going on during Michigan STEM Awareness Week, March 25-31. How will you build STEM awareness? Start by sharing the spot with your family, friends and social networks. I did.
After attending SXSW, one of the best sessions was Dear Google and Bing: Help me rank better! It was practical and gave me tangible items I could take back to my company and to all of you.
The session included Danny Sullivan, Duane Forrester and Matt Cutts. Danny is the Editor in Chief of Search Engine Land, and Duane and Matt joined us from Bing and Google and helped clarify some questions that were basic, but valuable:
First question asked by the audience was, what are those links that appear under websites?
Google and Bing call them slightly different things (site links vs deep links), but they are determined by the trust of the pages. They are the most relevant pages in a website. For Brogan & Partners, Google decided that Contact, Careers, About, Healthcare Marketing, Brogan & Partners Business Reboot page, and the Brogan Blog were the most relevant for a user searching for our site. And even better news, you can edit and remove these deep links for Google at Google.com/webmaster. However, you cannot add any deep links. That is for Google and Bing’s algotheriums to determine.
Next question was about high bounce rates and if they matter.
Scary thing about the search engines, is they measure every move you make, but they claim to do it for the greater good and understanding how us, humans, search. They do measure when a user goes to a site, then right back to the search engine. That means that user was unhappy with their information. Duane at Bing did note that it is not always a consumer being unhappy, but rather they received the information quickly, so it is not a bad thing, but something the search engines take into consideration. So make sure to monitor your bounce rate and let it be one of many things to evaluate.
Another key note that Google and Bing both pointed out, was make sure to engage socially. If a topic is going around the social networks, it is a signal to Google and Bing that that information is relevant and will rank higher. And we all know that YouTube videos are the first result in many seaches (Hint: Google owns YouTube).
SEO points to relevancy. If a user lands on the site, are they happy? Or are they annoyed? Google and Bing want the user to always be happy, so create compelling content and get into a niche market. Work to become the voice in your area with compelling content so users will be happy when they land on your site. And try to rank high for less competive search terms.
Google and Bing want your results to be personal. Google has come under fire for their new privacy settings, but it is an attempt to have a very personal search relationship. Google and Bing remember what you have searched for in the past, and try to connect your current searches with your past searches. They have been doing this for a long time, but they also try and bring back geotargeted results. So when I search ‘restaurants for lunch’, Google brings up restaurants in Raleigh for me.
Last question they had time for was how to fix broken links. They unanimously answered ‘301 re-direct is the best way’. So make sure to push that with your IT team.
Matt, Duane and Danny were great and really did a fantastic job of explaining some of the nauances about SEO to the lay marketer.
Not so long ago, if you wore a girdle, you didn’t want anybody to know it. Now girlfriends (including the Grand Girlfriend of them all, Oprah) love to dish about smoothing their muffin tops or rounding out their booties with sexy, slimming shapewear.
And it’s all because of Spanx.
Founded 12 years ago, Spanx sells (and sells and sells) not just because it works wonders on women’s bods, but also because it does it with winning sass, from the naughty name to the cute cartoons on the packaging.
And that’s all because of Spanx founder, Sara Blakely. Her force of nature personality, relentless work ethic, and most of all, true understanding of women, have made her a newly minted billionaire at age 41. She’s the youngest self-made woman on Forbes magazine’s “Rich List.”
I love Blakely’s back story. She started Spanx with $5000 of her own money. She had an idea to improve upon control top pantyhose and had to practically storm a hosiery mill to get them to make her prototype. She wrote her own patent to save legal fees. She hand-sold Spanx at a folding table at Neiman Marcus using picture of her own disappearing panty lines and stayed up all night filling her own mail orders.
Now that her company—which is debt-free and privately owned—has hit it huge, Blakely’s personality still charmingly infuses everything Spanx does, especially its savvy marketing. The company’s staff is dominated by women who put themselves out there as much as Blakely does. On the Spanx blog, “The Rear View”, for instance, staffers pose for before and after photos in Spanx nipping and tucking swimsuits.
And in a section called “Spanx-Giving,” we hear about charitable work staffers have done for organizations like the Foster Care Support Foundation’s Prom-A-Palooza.
Blakely also gives back with motivational speaking, largely aimed at women, and impulsive gifts of joy, like treating everyone in her favorite restaurant to dinner.
A cute cartoon of Blakely herself, wearing a long blond ponytail, is perched at the top of the every page on the Spanx website. It’s clear that, while her ragtag underwear company has changed immensely, Blakely has remained true to her very feminine self. And that’s the best recipe for success I can think of.
When marketing to women it’s important to understand their influence when it comes to decision-making. Today is International Women’s Day, so we’re taking time to acknowledge and celebrate the accomplishments women have made around the world.
2011 marked a huge step forward for women professionally. For the first time in history women hold more than 1 of 10 board seats internationally. This may sound like a small number, but it was less than a century ago that women didn’t even have the right to vote. What does this mean for marketers? Now, not only are women a powerful audience to target for purchase decisions in the home, but they are becoming a growing target as business decision-makers as well. Also, women are now in the position to overtake men in the American workforce. With statistics like these it’s only a matter of time until women hold even more of the boardroom influence.
Personally, I’m proud to work in an era that offers opportunities for women to thrive and grow in our careers. And remember, next time you're working on a new campaign or business pitch to keep the female perspective in mind, as there may be a woman sitting on the Board of Directors.
Sometimes great marketing to women is simply just great marketing. So for this post, I would like you to weigh in. I polled the women at our agency and most of us love the Allstate “Mayhem” campaign. According to Bridget Brennan, author of Why She Buys, women like “humor without victims”. But I would contend that this campaign is an exception, despite the car crashes, electrical sparks, trees falling and black eyes. The humor is so clearly metaphorical and satirical; many women I polled think it is hilarious.
We all relate to potential of mayhem in our life (we are against it vehemently) and like the humor of this male personification of it. As a female creative director, I wish I thought of it—it’s smart and memorable with endless possibilities. I do not know if Allstate was targeting women specifically (my guess is it was for the general population), but maybe they should be. According to a 2011-2012 Prudential Study, Financial Experience & Behaviors Among Women, “95 percent of women are financial decision makers, and 84 percent of married women are either solely or jointly responsible for household financial decisions.” While I am personally not offended by the stereotype of the hot pink jogger spot, others seem to be from blog posts I saw online. Hey, it’s a man in a suit acting like a girl so I think that’s funny.
But perhaps a campaign that speaks to women better is the Travelers campaign with the dog. The first spot which featured the dog worrying about losing his bone had the tagline “Take the scary out of life.” Now they have a new tagline “It’s better under the umbrella.” I guess since the dog was such a hit, it’s become their “spokes animal” and now they are putting a more branded, positive spin on the campaign. I guess all insurance advertising has to have a spokesperson these days, whether it’s the Mayhem guy, a gecko, Flo, the nationwide nerd or Snoopy. I like both the Allstate and Travelers campaigns for different reasons. And I think they appeal to both men and women. What financial or insurance marketing connects with you? And do you think Allstate is doing a better job or Travelers when it comes to creating great marketing to women. Want to see more, check out my first post in my series 20 examples of marketing to women that connects.
Every once in a while, a big retail chain reinvents itself, and I always find it fun to watch. Remember, for instance, when Abercrombie & Fitch was a place for great, white hunters to shop? Or when Banana Republic was all about safari chic?
The latest store to do a big switcheroo is JCPenney. This reboot isn’t a simple case of hipping up the middle-American staple and shortening its name to JCP (though of course, they have shortened the name to JCP).
According to this piece in the Wall Street Journal, JCP’s new CEO, Ron Johnson, is trying to turn the whole concept of a department store on its ear. The store’s main floor is no longer a sea of cosmetic counters. Now, it’s a wide-open “town square,” surrounded by dozens of tiny specialty shops. The ubiquitous .99 has been lopped off of price tags. And instead of pricing items high, then holding sale after sale after sale, all merchandise will now be offered at lower prices from the get-go, and there will be regular sales two Fridays/month. (For a full breakdown of JCP’s new pricing structure, check out this great blog.
All of these changes seem made for busy women who can’t exactly plan for spontaneous sales, and don’t like to be toyed with when it comes to pricing. Considering that a majority of department store shoppers are women, this seems like a smart move.
My favorite part of the new JCP is its marketing. Ellen Degeneres, whom I adore, has been hired as spokesperson. She and the company were both the picture of grace in the face of a recent anti-gay protest by the group One Million Moms. And Ellen’s JCP commercials were one of the only entertaining parts of the recent Oscar broadcast!
In addition to advertising the store’s new game—which includes no coupons and no receipt necessary for returns—Ellen’s commercials introduce the chain’s new motto: “Fair and Square.”
I love the cleverness of this phrase. Not only does it refer to the classic community gathering place that is the small town square, it also pokes a bit of fun at JCP’s old image—which was definitely square. Such sweet, self-deprecating marketing is winning, and I hope it works. Next time I’m at the mall, I plan to check out the new JCP. I’ll also be curious to see if their rebrand impacts other department stores, which are all suffering in this economy. Johnson is the genius behind the futuristic Apple Store, so the odds are in his favor.
However it goes, I admire JCP for shaking things up, and for following through with some great marketing to women.
Have you been to the new JCP yet? What do you think?
We’ve all seen the little square that holds the +1 at the bottom of web sites, blog posts and more, but it’s harder to see what it can mean for marketers.
Once you +1 something, it takes a place on your Google+ page under your +1’s. Google describes these as “things around the web you like, agree with, or want to recommend to others.” And now with Google’s new Search Your World, when you search, Google shows you links that are relevant to you according to what you’ve put on your Google+ profile. The same works for your friends, family and acquaintances. If your mom (assuming your mom is hip enough to be on Google+) searches a topic that you’ve +1ed, your saved link will show up first on her search. Google does this because content suggested by friends and family is more relevant than content from strangers.
So why should you add yet another social media button to your site? Well, according to many, like Mashable,+1 buttons can increase your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) indirectly. Your site will now show up in every +1er’s Google search and will be visible on all of their Google+ friends’ searches. More people seeing your link means more people will view, share and +1 your link. Google will then highlight how many people have +1ed the link – showcasing your relevancy.
All of this +1ing and sharing means a higher SEO for you and your web site. Although the SEO benefits of the +1 button are indirect, it still provides a fresh new way to generate views and show the significance of your work.
What do you think – will people eventually +1 more than they Like? Will you add this new social media tool to your internet efforts?
Yesterday was Leap Day, but it will always be remembered as a revolutionary day in the world of social media. Facebook took a huge leap forward with the inaugural Facebook Marketing Conference. The six-hour, invitation-only event packed the American Museum of Natural History in New York, marking a day in history of its own. If you didn’t happen to make the conference, or your invitation somehow got lost in the mail, never fear. Here’s a recap of what you missed:
Applications – These will now appear as rich applications just below and to the right of the cover photo. These applications will engage customers and encourage them to click more often. Starbucks has also been in beta for Timeline and has made great use of the new apps feature.
Pinned Posts, Starred Posts, Backdated Posts – You can “pin” posts (like Red Bull) that you’d like to feature as a “post of the week”. These will stay at the top of your timeline, appearing as the most recent post.
New Ads for Brand Pages:
How often do you get to do really cool healthcare transit advertising? I have to give our client, Covenant HealthCare, a big pat on the back for being great partners in letting us create 6 really cool buswraps for them. And for wrapping up a Silver Addy at the Great Lakes Bay Addy Awards last week for their transit campaign. Here are photos of 2 of the winning buses. The big idea? Use the entire bus to break through and create a wow factor for Covenant's messages.
Caution tape wraps the Emergency & Trauma bus. The Pediatric bus uses the actual wheels of the bus for the baby stroller wheels. Kudos to Covenant for taking their brand to the streets.
Let us know what you think. And please share your really cool transit advertising with us.
As we all know, Facebook is going public. Even though Mark Zuckerberg is the social media giant’s founder and figurehead, it seems like Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg, is the one everyone’s talking about.
I’ve admired Sandberg for a long time. Not only is she a brilliant leader at Facebook (who will soon be worth an estimated $1.6 billion) she’s also a champion of other female leaders. And she puts her money where her mouth is.
According to this New York Times piece, Sandberg insists on hiring, promoting, and mentoring women within Facebook, and giving lectures on the importance of female ambition around the world.
Of course, Sandberg is an uncommon visionary. On the other hand, a woman being one of the most powerful people in social media makes perfect sense. Women are the most powerful forces behind social media. Take these statistics from emarketer.com:
- 69% of females use social networking sites.
- People are 49% more likely to recommend a company after they like them on Facebook.
- 79% of women will refer family and friends to a brand page.
- 40% of internet users like a brand to receive discounts/promotions.
If Sandberg alone doesn’t inspire more women to climb for the C-suite in internet tech and social media businesses, then statistics like those above should seal the deal. The numbers translate into tremendous female influence in the marketplace. That’s why it’s essential that social media be shaped by those who understand its primary users most—women.
I hope to see more and more social media-oriented companies like Facebook (and for that matter, Brogan & Partners with women at the helm. It’s a simple equation that will only add to their success.
And once she’s a billionaire, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sandberg start a foundation that promotes women’s professional development in social media and beyond. At least, that’s what I hope she’ll do.
What about you? Who are your role models within the world of social media?
For as long as I can remember, Target’s creative marketing to women has hit the bullseye. My early years in the business were spent admiring Target’s many One Show ads which made products like waffle irons and aluminum foil objets d’fashion. It’s what spurred the fancy, affected pronunciation or Target to “Tar-zhay”. Target may be second to Wal-Mart in sales, but the company leads with its creativity and design.
The Target aesthetic has been so consistent over the years and has been the gold standard for their marketing decisions, product design (like the pharmacy bottles) and in their revolutionary designer partnerships that have brought aspirational fashion to the masses. According to a Harvard Business School article, “this "cheap-chic" strategy enabled Target to become a major brand and consumer-shopping destination, articulated around two main interrelated branding activities: designer partnerships and clever, creative advertising.” One of my favorite Target campaigns goes beyond, beautiful style and design, to truly make an emotional connection with its female audience. The “Christmas Champ” has ran for three years and truly captures, in a hilarious and memorable way, something very real: a suburban perfectionists relentlessly seeking bounteous bargains. It’s brilliant. I am to bummed to read in Ad Age that Target left their agency in January, an agency that I admire for their creative marketing to women campaigns. I hope the “Christmas Champ” returns next Black Friday. But I know, whatever Target ends up doing, given their track record, it will continue to hit the bullseye.
What are some of your favorite Target ads? And if you want to see more creative marketing to women, check out my first post in my series 20 examples of Marketing to Women that Connects.