Archive for July, 2010

Personal branding faux pas…it can cost you business!

Using the internet to promote yourself and your brand has become the new paradigm in marketing and personal branding these days.  And, with the advent of social media, controlling your brand and your brand message has become even more important…and harder.  It’s particularly difficult if you want and need to take a stand and/or a side on a particular subject.

LinkedIn groups are particularly perilous when it comes to personal branding because the folks in your groups are friends, colleagues and perhaps future employers and/or clients.   So, much like deciding whether or not to bring up politics at the dinner table, when discussing a potentially fiery topic in a LinkedIn group you need to remember that there are consequences to what you say—regardless of whether you are “right” or not.

Case in point, Tom Anderson has a strong opinion about whether or not ISO (The International Organization for Standardization) standards should be used in the accreditation process for market research companies.  And, he voiced that opinion on his blog and through the various LinkedIn groups to which he belongs and moderates. 

So what happened as a result of one discussion chain in a LinkedIn market research group?  Tom lost his designation as the ESOMAR representative in the US and he lost a speaking engagement.  While I think Tom would say that he lost both of these things because they were in opposition of what ESOMAR is pushing, I would disagree (sorry Tom).  Tom lost these things because of a couple of things that he did wrong on in this stream…that I hope others can learn from:

  1. He is the owner and the moderator of the group but he didn’t control the group’s discussion—and the discussions got nasty…just about to the point of name calling.  Who would have thought a bunch of market research geeks (I am a certified geek) could be so vicious?
  2. He belittled colleagues for an opposing view—and allowed others to do the same.
  3. He didn’t know when to quit—this discussion, which started out as a very good discussion of a very important topic, got off topic and Tom just couldn’t stop himself from continuing to beat a “dead horse.”

For the record, I agree with Tom regarding ISO.  I don’t think it has any business in the market research world.  We are not making widgets.  ISO would kill the creative process that is so critically important to conducting innovative market research projects.  The issue I want to drive home here is that you can say anything you want on the internet (at least in America).  You just need to make sure that you don’t harm your personal brand by voicing your opinion in a manner that is not consistent with the professional nature of the social media groups to which you belong. 

Happy Marketing (and Personal Branding)!

Making the “social” connection with consumers/buyers…

Being a market researcher first and a marketer second, I am always intrigued with why and how consumers/buyers connect with companies.  So when I find a blog or article about why and how people connect with companies, well let’s just say I am very happy (in a geeky sort of way).

I read an article from eMarketer in which they discussed a study conducted by ExactTarget.  In the study, ExactTarget asked people why they gave a company their e-mail address.  Coming as no surprise, the majority of respondents gave something (their e-mail address) to get something (discounts and freebies). 

  • Much to marketers chagrin, interacting with the brand, to show support or staying educated about the company’s industry or topic of choice were at the bottom of the list. 


Motivation to Give Email Address to a Company, Apr 2010 (% of US internet users)


Another study, this time completed by Morpace, sought to understand why people joined a Facebook fan page.  Again coming as no surprise, discounts and deals are highly important as is to stay current on available new products.  I have to be honest here. I really don’t believe they became a fan to let their friends know what products they support.  But, I do believe they would join a fan page of a non-profit (like the Nevada Humane Society) or an event to encourage their friends to mutually support that event or non-profit.

Reasons for Joining Facebook Fan Pages, Mar 2010 (% of US Facebook users)

Okay so what does all of this mean?  Well as a marketer, you have to understand that those becoming your fan on Facebook or giving you their e-mail address are not as committed and engaged as you believe them to be.  Their engagement may only last as long as the discount/freebie gravy train continues.     But don’t lose hope.  I believe that with the right content and educational materials, you can keep the engagement going long past the discounts and freebies.  That’s where your drip marketing campaign comes in. 

Happy Marketing!

Event marketing…focus on the brand, not just the event

Over the past couple of weeks, I spent many hours planning and then managing a PGA golf event for my company.  For those of you “lucky” enough to have managed a big event for your company, I salute you.  

Since I am a marketer, I looked at the event in a different light than most non-marketers would.  Meaning, I viewed and managed it with our company brand in mind…not with just the “sale” in mind.  And, by doing this, I believe we had a much better presence at the Reno Tahoe Open this year then we have ever had.   

Here’s how:

  • Recruiting brand ambassadors rather than just volunteers—let’s face it, being the most competent employee doesn’t automatically qualify you as the best brand ambassador.  To ensure we had brand ambassadors, we made sure we had volunteers in our the 18th hole suite and our information booth that understood and could recite our brand promise and our elevator pitch.  That way we knew that everyone we encountered was receiving a consistent message about the company.
  • Focusing on the participant experience—since my focus was increasing brand awareness, understanding and equity, I had to make sure that every brand ambassador understood that their job each day was to make sure that the company’s brand experience is always positive—not just to provide information about the company, cleaning tables and/or getting people to buy our insurance. 
    • I impressed upon the brand ambassadors that they couldn’t have a bad day because the brand couldn’t afford to have a bad day—especially in this economy and in Nevada in particular (14% unemployment)!
  • Maximizing every opportunity to highlight the brand— we had to market our brand like our company’s success depends on it (because it does).  Thus, our folks focused on making the experience in our areas (the 18th hole suite and our information booth) a pleasurable one.  So, our folks weren’t just selling insurance, we were selling a brand experience to those with current and future potential. 
    • We also negotiated with the event organizer to ensure that we received the maximum brand exposure our sponsorship level would allow.  That meant checking and double checking that we received what were promised and many trips to the course before the event to check the progress of our requests.  

 So the next time you have the opportunity to sponsor an event (however small), remember to focus not only on the Return on Investment of your sponsorship, but your Return on Brand as well.

Happy Marketing!

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