The “why” of your brand

I wrote an article for AnnArbor.com about the 9 P’s of Marketing – the fifth and the most important to me is purpose. This article by Steven Bell, Associate University Librarian, of Temple University is an excellent article that talks about the why of a brand. I think it fits nicely into my concept of the “purpose.”

Steven Bell’s article link

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5-Tools to monitor your brand/company online

This article was originally published on AnnArbor.com – I hold the copyright to my articles so I am republishing it here.

 

Forum image - courtesy of MightyOhm cc license on Flickr

In business it is vital to know how your company is being perceived out in the “wild, wild west” of the internet. You can do some simple monitoring for free or at a low cost, or you can buy expensive software (recommended for larger companies) or you can hire a monitoring company to do the work for you. This will vary with your needs and company size.

 

Today let’s take a look at some of the free options for the business listening process — links for each tool are within the title of the product.

Google alerts or Yahoo alerts

I use both Google and Yahoo, because they return different results sometimes. I use them to monitor what is being said about me, marketing friends, my brand and companies I used to work for and their competitors. In a few quick minutes I can scan the surface of content, decide what to follow up on and move on.

If you would like to learn how to use alerts effectively I have posted some training lessons on my blog: Lesson I — the basics and Lesson II — a bit more intensive study

Twitter

First find out if people are using a hashtag for your company. For example, the hashtag for Ford is “#ford”. So if you put in #ford in the search function of Twitter, you will get all the recent tweets about Ford from Ford and from other users. You do not need a Twitter account to search — however I recommend getting one as soon as you figure out how to use it for your business and retweet (RT) great comments by users.

Second read the tweets! Follow the links — you might be surprised at what you find.

Delicious

Delicious is a great simple way to monitor various topics of interest as well as to see what is trending quickly. If you have a service or product that can adapt quickly to a new market segment this might be a way to jump ahead of your competitors

Social Mention

This is similar to the Google and Yahoo alerts but also tracks other formats. On the drop down of “type” pick all — so you can monitor a variety of areas in one click.

BoardTracker

Track mentions of your business in user boards and forums. Boards and forums truly are the “wild wild west” — participants often use more vulgarity and trash talk more freely. Do not be dismayed by what is written in these arenas; think of them as all night bar conversations. In the case of forums and boards, I not recommend contacting the “talker” in channel — usually it is better to contact them privately if at all. In this instance, being a watcher of conversation might be the way to go. This is a good way to track product conversations, often you may see patterns or wish lists — product innovation trends from real users is a win-win.

Monitoring your reputation is hard work without the right tools. The goal of this post is to make it a little easier with search efforts delivered to you. There are other monitoring tools; I picked a few of my favorites to get you started. Remember if someone comments about your business or product, you should know about it.

Image Credit Link:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/mightyohm/3412531284/ – thank you for sharing

Posted in AnnArbor.com, Google/Yahoo Alerts, Marketing in General, PR, Social Media | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Marketers must be mindful of the dangers of ‘greenwashing’

This was originally posted on AnnArbor.com – I hold the copyright to my articles so I am reposting it here.

Image: Flickr - epSos.de CC license

You don’t have to look far to see examples of green marketing — they’re all around you. Plastic bags that decompose, Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper, and bio-based cleaners all have something in common — they are green and can prove their products are less harmful than their non-green counterparts.

However when a company actively engages in greenwashing — the promotion of a product based on misleading “green” claims — it’s looking to deceive the user into believing it’s helping the environment, when in fact it may be contributing more to its decline. Sometimes the promotion is unintentional, such as a promotion plan that was not well thought out.

Let’s take a look at a few greenwashing examples for analysis, with links for further details.

Adding the term — green, eco-, environmental, bio-, organic and others to your promotion, but the truth is your product or service has little to do with anything green.

Example: Eco-Conscious Female Doll. In 2008 a large toy producer was ecstatic to introduce their latest version of their toy — a doll whose accessories were partially made by excess fabrics and trimmings from their other doll accessories. Problem was, no one saw this as an eco-friendly product. Most of the product, including the doll and accessories are made from plastic (oil consumption and chemicals), very little reused product was put into the new products, and it was all made in China. This led to numerous posts on blogs (especially the mom blogs) and other web sites identifying this as a greenwash by the company. Negative publicity by bloggers and anti-greenwash sites with high readership only hurts your brand or product.

Adding the color green to your logo, literature, name etc. — “if you paint it green, they will buy” attitude.

Example: A cleaning product that has been around for several decades not only used the color green as part of its labeling but also used the word “green” in its product, long before it was cool to use the term and the color. The marketing worked and still does — a lot of people think this product is healthy and good to use in your home. However if you use this product without wearing a mask, you will quickly learn something is not so green about this product.

Adding a leaf or a tree to your promotional messages — probably the most common and simplest-to-execute greenwashing technique.

This example actually hits the trifecta of greenwashing.

1. Added green terminology
2. Added green color
3. Added a leaf to the message

These diapers were touted to be organic, hypoallergenic, latex and fragrance free, and a host of other claims that somehow made it green. However, as many noted — organic wasn’t backed up by being certified organic, nor did the company state how much of the materials were organic. The packaging and inks were not green friendly, and the biggest fail of this product’s greenwashing attempt: The diapers were not biodegradable, which would have made this product a win.

Sadly, all of these promotion types work. People buy into the hype because it is easy and they don’t look beyond the claims associated with the promotion. However for those that are informed and looking for greenwashing — not only do they spot it, but they blog about it, they tell their friends about it, and they send a message to anti-greenwashing websites. Negative perceptions of your product are not the goal. Make your product or service a real ecologically healthy product and then eco-promote.

Further reading:

The seven sins of greenwashing.

A branding primer: Green is a color. Sustainability is a practice.

FTC proposes crackdown on greenwashing.

Image Link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/epsos/3384297473/ – Thank you for sharing your images

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The 9 “P’s” of Marketing

This article was originally written for AnnArbor.com – I hold the copyright to my articles so it is being reposted here.

Conversations in Marketing – the first in a series

The internet was the first giant, dynamic shift in Marketing in decades. Social Media was the next frontier that marketers embraced and both have changed the way we market everything.

Marketing classes have promoted the 4 “P’s” of marketing since they were developed in the 1960’s by E. Jerome McCarthy. They are classics, still taught today in educational institutions. However many in the industry say there are more than 4 if you want to understand current marketing methods.

Times Square Advertising - Photo Credit - WinterDove - SXC

    The classic 4 are: 

  1. Product -a physical product or a service is your “product”. The product and it’s benefits are in a constant rotation of the product life-cycle and need help from the other “P’s” to compete in this hyper-competitive environment.
  2. Price – in most industries this is a rotating target based upon competition, industry as a whole, current trends and predictions of sales.
  3. Place – is where you sell your product, distribution channels, and now the internet (not part of the thought process in the original 1960’s model).
  4. Promotion – includes public relations, advertising, sales, events, white papers, websites, ad words, press releases, sponsoring events, training events and many more, but I think you get the idea. I also lump process into the promotion category predominately because process is a lot about promotion. Proctor and Gamble is a perfect example. In December of 2010 they announced that P&G will no longer sponsor soap operas, they will continue to advertise during those time slots, but they are shifting their process of promotion to social media. Additional “P’s” that belong under promotion, Permission based marketing, Partnerships, and Personalization.

  5. Contemporary approach with new “P’s”


  6. Purpose – This is my favorite “P” – if you do not know the “why and what” you want from any piece of marketing material before you distribute or create it – you might be wasting a whole lot of money. With all that is available today for tracking from landing pages to unique URLS and PURLS (personalized URLS) specific to a marketing piece – why aren’t you tracking as much as possible. Know in advance – is it brand awareness or a call-to-action. What numbers are you aiming for (Predictions) – an increase in website visitors, conversion from visitor to customer, or new customer leads – I think you get the idea – know the “why and what.”
  7. People – I used to think that people belonged in the promotion category – but there has been a swing in a new direction as people “evangelize” your product. They may be employees, internet bloggers, or just people that love your product talking about it. People are also key to innovation when they actually take the time to talk to a company about a like or dislike of a product. Remember what happened when Coke changed their Classic Coke – that was a people rebellion on a grand scale. Engaging with customers and their engagement with you is priceless. You can learn so much.
  8. Processes – you can have a great product or service but if you don’t have the processes in place, you are likely to fail. Processes include a strategic marketing plan which feeds into the business plan for the company, and a marketing budget – all should have short and long term predictions. Process also includes A/B testing of ads, copy, who will be your social voice, and what will be your social voice. Mistakes can end up costing jobs or reputation.
  9. Philosophy – it is no longer sufficient to be a company with a product or service. You also often share your philosophies with the world. Menlo Innovations– often invites groups of people, even their competition, in for up to week-long sessions – to show off their philosophy for developing software via extreme agile project management and paired programming. Green energy firms – Accio Energy, eco-friendly cars – Smart Cars, and electric bikes – Current Motor Company – all have a philosophy behind them. It is part of their company DNA, it is what they live and breathe at work.
  10. Packaging – from traditional packaging to non-tactile packaging on the web for services or downloads, packaging your product or service becomes more and more important as the global market place is now your competition.

There are other “P’s” that could be added to the list, but I think this covers the main old and new “P’s” of the marketing world.

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WordPress Holiday Background

WordPress Holiday Background.

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7 Photoshop Brush Resources

Author: Vinegartom Image created using Adobe P...

Image via Wikipedia - physical brushes - use similar, but better, virtual brushes in Photoshop

Great Photoshop Brush Resources – Alphabetically

7 resources you might not be familiar with

Arty – interesting bugs, birds and stains – small sets – ok for personal – get permission for commercial.

Brush Lovers – a great collection of exclusive free and premium brushes.  Hi-res brushes that can be used commercially – license fee is nominal.

Chris Magiera – not sure about the licensing but some nice simple brushes – love the flowers.

Deviant Art – always a great place to lose about an hour a day in – lots of artists sharing Photoshop brushes – watch usage terms – if unsure contact artist and get permission.  Lots of other goodies too – for Illustrator etc.

Obsidian Dawn – unique fun designs plus a ton of other stuff on the site – see terms of use for commercial.

PhotoshopBrushes.com – No new stuff recently but a lot of the stuff on this site I haven’t found in other places, so it deserves a mention.  All the Photoshop Goodies featured on this site are free for download for commercial and non commercial use – however please credit site.

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5 Free Font Goodies

PT Sans Font

Image via Wikipedia

Alphabetically Listed

1001 Free Fonts – if you want to use them for commercial – cheap license fee

DaFont – great collection of freebies and donation fonts – careful on the commercial use – get permission or buy (warning “sexy” fonts on DaFont are sexually graphic)

Font Squirrel – great site for commercial use fonts

Hill House font – very nice font for a variety of projects – CC license to use at will

Simply the Best – big collection of fonts – watch use terms – also has a bunch of little scripts for website builders

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