Social Media Bubble Burst: The Marketing Mix

Now what do we do?  That’s what both small businesses and larger organizations are asking Image Marketing Consultants.  They have concluded, along with FORTUNE, that the social media bubble has burst.

It’s not like they are going to shut down their Facebook page, stop blogging, and forget tweeting.  After all, social media is embedded in best promotional practices. However, in order to nurture their enterprises they have “got it” that they must look beyond social media.

Image Marketing Consultants agrees: Social media is not enough.  Our recent track record proves that out.  It was through old-fashioned hustling our stories to mainstream media that we got the publicity this summer Save a Suit needs to keep attracting sponsors and donors.  It also helped that we were able to attract celebrity star power.  In addition, the activities of donating and receiving the suits happened in person in real time as special events. People, being the social animals they are, were thrilled to be back with other people.

No question, business as well as nonprofits are returning to the very traditional notion of a marketing mix.  Along with social media there has to be:

* Pitching innovative angles to media so that they become interested enough to focus on what your business is about.

* Sponsoring special events which are compelling enough to get warm bodies in and media to also swing by.

* Developing partnerships.  More businesses recognize that they need to extend their reach beyond the web – and, more importantly, beyond their own sphere of influence.   The partnership may be with retail to feature their new product or a highway to be adopted by a law firm.

* Rebranding.  Everything changes.  Your brand might have gotten stale.  Nations like Nigeria are rebranding.  It’s been suggested that the trucking industry rebrand itself to attract Millennials and women.  Maybe it’s time you rebrand.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, provides complimentary consultations for Marketiing, Partnerships, Advertising, Public Relations, Special Events, and, yes, Social Media kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 203-404-4868.

Credibility: Devil is in the details, says Image Marketing Consultants

You spent a lot of time and money creating a brochure, flyer, website, or blogging initiative.  Yet, you are not not getting a good rate of conversions, that is, the action you want the target markets or constituencies to take.  That might be calling you for a complimentary consultation, ordering your product, redeeming a 15% off coupon for dinner at your restaurant, or contacting their elected officials about a bill proposed in the legislature.

There could be a number of reasons for disappointing results.  One overlooked one is that the tone, organization, and content of the marketing materials undercut your credibility.  Let’s cut to the chase.  Your credibility consists of two entities.  One is evidence that you are competent in your field. The other is that you are to be trusted.

So, how might you be presenting yourself in your marketing communications as less-than-credible?  Here are some practices that could be working against your message and you:

* Bad timing.  Folks are enjoying the last of the lazy days of summer and you are pitching snow removal.  They roll their eyes and resent that you’re intruding on their relaxation.  Get into the head, heart, and mood of the recipient before you create a campaign, including the timing.

* Not citing sources.  If you state that X number of people are obese along the Northeast Corridor and don’t provide the source – for example, the American Medical Association – you come across as sloppy in providing information and/or an amateur.  Always back up your information with a source.  Better yet, provide the link (and check if the link works before pressing “publish.”)

* Too much or too little information.  This is the era of Twitter or short form. Too much makes you appear out of touch.  Since this is also the age of mistrust, too little can position you as not respecting the recipient enough to take the time to tell the whole story.

* Typos, grammatical mistakes, missing words.  Proofreading copy and doing that twice or even three times are prerequisites to maintaining the right image.  If you can’t afford a full-time or contract proofreader on staff, barter for this service.  For instance, the work-at-home proofreader in your condo complex might trade off services for a membership at your gym or discount food-purchasing club.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, provides complimentary consultations for Marketing, Partnerships, Advertising, Public Relations, Social Media, and Special Events kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com, 203-404-4868

 

Age of Twitter: Downsizing Your Messages

Short = Sweet Spot in Communications

You are your message.  If your message is wordy, Millennials and Generation X, who are your prospective customers or clients, are bound to roll their eyes. All too quickly they could decide to go somewhere else to buy.  That’s because this is the era of Twitter or short form.  Millennials and Gen Xers are wary of organizations which take too long to get their message out there.  We live in Fast Time.

Here are 3 tips on how to downsize your messages:

Think More.  Too many words usually reflect hurried thinking.  Not enough time was invested into boiling down the core message to a phrase or one sentence.  LinkedIn’s core message is helping careers. Long form just doesn’t “stick.”

Wait.  Since messages aren’t changed easily, do it right the first time.  That means playing with the ideas until they can be transmitted in a concise manner.  THE NEW YORK TIMES’ message is short: All the news that’s fit to print.  That message has endured through decades, unchanged.

Observe.  Please read and listen to others’ communications.  You will understand why customers flee verbosity.  It might be said that the late Steve Jobs invented short form at Apple.  His message to the world, ranging from customers to employees, was to be different.  Differentiation is the core of branding.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, provides complimentary consultations for Marketing, Partnering, Advertising, Public Relations, Social Media, and Special events, 203-404-4068, Kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com

Partnership: How the Big Guys and Major Nonprofits Got That Way

It’s hard to image but giant companies like Coca-Cola and Procter & Gamble were once small businesses.  One way they were able to grow was through partnerships or strategic alliances.  Not only do  businesses do that.  So do major nonprofits like the American Red Cross and the Save a Suit Foundation.

Joining together with other organizations, busineses and nonprofits spread the cost or even proceed with an initiative with no cost.  They extend their reach with target markets, donors, and media.  Both partners can share the halo effect of each other’s brand.

Recently, a startup in modular furniture contacted Image Marketing Consultants about finding them partners in both online and brick and mortar retailing.  Initially, they assumed brilliant market communications would do the trick.  Then they realized that getting by the gatekeepers for retail websites and actual stores requires the fine art of partnering.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, provides complimentary consultations on partnerships as well as Marketing, Advertising, Public Relations, Social Media, and Special Events, 203-404-4868, kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com.

Celebrity Spokespeople: George Washington Was America’s First

Launching a new concept for on-the-go eating?  Considering running for the U.S. Senate in 2016? Or raising money for the victims of a natural disaster?

In all those campaigns, a celebrity presence is a big plus.  Like it or not, approve or it or not, America operates on star power.  Always has.  Historians are just disclosing now how much Founding Father George Washington was a carefully crafted celebrity brand.  That brand was continually reconfigured to align with the changing times.

At Image Marketing Consultants we have been able to help hundreds of needy veterans and graduating college seniors through celebrity spokesperson Mike D’Atoni. From the New York Knicks and the USA Men’s Olympic Basketball Coach, D’Atoni provided the star power in the Save a Suit campaign during the summer of 2012.

Thanks to D’Atoni, including his $20,000 donation, Save a Suit was able to collect and distribute new suits, ties, and shoes to 100s of job hunters. Television networks, local newspapers, bloggers, and tweeters showed up to give the Save a Suit Foundation the publicity it needs to continue its mission.  Star power is the American version of the Law of Attraction.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, invites you to a complimentary consultation for your marketing, advertising, public relations, social media, and special events 203-404-4868, kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com.

Celebrity Spokespeople: Dates Back to George Washington

Launching a new concept for on-the-go eating?  Considering running for the U.S. Senate in 2016? Or raising money for the victims of a natural disaster?

In all those campaigns, a celebrity presence is a big plus.  Like it or not, approve or it or not, America operates on star power.  Always has.  Historians are just disclosing now how much Founding Father George Washington was a carefully crafted celebrity brand.  That brand was continually reconfigured to align with the changing times.

At Image Marketing Consultants we have been able to help hundreds of needy veterans and graduating college seniors through celebrity spokesperson Mike D’Atoni. From the New York Knicks and the USA Men’s Olympic Basketball Coach, D’Atoni provided the star power in the Save a Suit campaign during the summer of 2012.

Thanks to D’Atoni, including his $20,000 donation, Save a Suit was able to collect and distribute new suits, ties, and shoes to 100s of job hunters. Television networks, local newspapers, bloggers, and tweeters showed up to give the Save a Suit Foundation the publicity it needs to continue its mission.  Star power is the American version of the Law of Attraction.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, invites you to a complimentary consultation for your marketing, advertising, public relations, social media, and special events 203-404-4868, kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com.

Special Event: Live-Blog It

Your special event involves planning, expense, and usually agita.  The mainstream media  probably will cover it.  An employee is doing a video of the high points and will edit them so that your organization can post the best on your website and on YouTube.  One thing you might not have thought of is this: Live-blogging.

In essence, someone who’s adept at blogging uses your or his/her blog platform to chronicle and comment on the activities.  That’s live-blogging.

At Apple’s new product announcements, the major media send their bloggers to catch every fact and nuance of what is being unveiled.  The bloggers might also interview the Apple leadership as well as those  in the audience.  They could also interview other bloggers at the event. Those posts, which could number 5, 10, 20, or 30, reach readers around the world (blogs are global) in real time.  Afterward the bloggers might follow that up with a more formal article on the roll-out.  The two reinforce each other and bloggers usually put links to their posts in the article.

On top of all the rest you are concerned about for your special event, doing live-blogging may seem too much.  Actually it isn’t.  Bloggers love to blog. They especially love doing it about an event which is being covered in real time.  Each post contains one small aspect of the story, one interview, one observation.  There could be photos.  There could be video clips attached.

What are the benefits of live-blogging for your organization?  Here are just a handful:

Creates Excitement.  From the corner of their eyes participants spot the blogger.  This enhances the specialness of the event.  They will ask you to email them all the links.  Of course, they want to see them.

Involves Audience.  Interviewing attendees makes the event interactive.  Those interviewed probably will send the links along to their own networks.  They might post them on their own digital sites.  They might send them to media.  All that provides a multiplier effect for the exposure the special event receives.

Provides Links.  The 5, 10, 15, 20 or 30 posts leave you with links you can bundle and provide on your digital sites, send to media, package as marketing material for prospects, and analyze for insight on what to do the same or differently on your next special event.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, provides complimentary consultations of live-blogging as well as Social Media, Special Events, Advertising, Public Relations, and Parterning 203-404-4868, mgenova981@aol.com.

Influence: Should you attack?

Sure, every personal brand and organization wants to increase its influence.  That makes it easier to sell products and services, fundraise, and get on the radar of the powers that be.

One way of gaining and increasing influence, it appears from scanning the news headlines, is to attack.  Today, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg faults both presidential candidates for not having the right position on gun control.  Iconic singer Elton John classifies Madonna as over.

Yes, those negatives got those players attention, at least today.  However, that’s a risky game since, longer term, the well is poisoned. Also, those less experienced in communications might not be able to manage the controversy.

A shrewder strategy is to create the “white space” between the negative and too simplistic positives to add something of value.  For example, instead of getting attention by being critical of Madonna, develop an opinion-editorial for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL or, locally here in New England, the HARTFORD COURANT, on the struggle of the aging entertainer.  In that piece, point out how Betty White and Clint Eastwood have managed to endure.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, provides complimentary consultations on Marketing, Partnering, Advertising, Public Relations, Social Media, and Special Events, 203-404-4868, kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com.

Online Attacks – Turn Lemon into Lemonade

Name one organization which hasn’t been slammed, perhaps unfairly, online.  A web presence opens you to negative postings, anonymous and bylined, by the media, consumers, reviewers (professional and amateur), and those who simply enjoy stirring up trouble.  That goes with the territory.  So, be prepared to handle “flaming,” either by one party or an organized posse.  Like controversy in general, if this is managed well, it could be turned to your advantage.

Here are the 6 rules of the road:

* Don’t panic.  This is now a predictable event in operating an organization.  To avoid panic, have in-place policies and procedures for not only damage control but transforming the incidents into opportunities to highlight your values, products, services, and causes.  After all, the spotlight is on you.  Use it.

A key constituency is your own employees, board members, vendors, community, and customer base.  All these groups must be kept in the loop.  That should be part of your crisis communications plan.

* Analyze if the criticism has validity.  If so, apologize online.  What begins online has to be handled online.  If useful, you can extend that to offline as with press releases, interviews with mainstream media broadcast and print, and hosting special events such as town meetings.  A sincere apology can enhance consumer relations.  In a recent survey, Arnold Worldwide found that only 39% of organizations respond to consumer beefs.  When Facebook apologized to members for documented breaches of privacy, the issue lost its heat.

If the criticism is inaccurate, provide the facts.  This is a crisis.  As in all crisis communications, get as many verified facts out there as soon as they are available. Start online, and then decide if adding offline would be useful.  If the postings are bylined, contact those individuals and organizations directly, with the facts.  Ask their cooperation in making public this correction.  Be nice.  Don’t threaten lawsuits.  Those who do and actually pursue them wind up giving the story legs and accumulating six and seven figures in legal costs, even before the situation nears settlement or a trial.

* Have third parties lined up for support.  Their postings on the web not only create positive publicity for you.  They help drive down on search engines the negative material.

* Flood the plane with your own digital matter.  If they are formatted for search engine optimization (SEO) and contain compelling information and insights, they could gain prime placement on search engines and links from influential sources.  Do this right and you will enhance your professional network, both in digital communications and for strategic partnerships.

* Stay positive.  As in all professional life and in our personal activities, it’s not what happens to us but how we handle it. The classic examples of that are the media ups and downs of the candidates at all levels in Campaign 2012.  The most adept at managing good and bad coverage are likely to be elected next November. Running for office has evolved into the game of impression management.

A crisis usually has a beginning, middle, and an end.  At each phrase be strategic about what messages are useful and will resonate at the time.  Once on the web, always on the web.  In a sense, you are being handed the gift of overseeing a publicity campaign that has built-in audiences.  Yes, you are turning a lemon into lemonade.

* Attend to housekeeping.  What should you be changing inhouse to reduce the odds that this kind of crisis will happen in the future?

* Move on.  When this blows over, reconfigure your communications to be fresh and focused on the now.  Organizations which get stuck in the crisis, which ironically should have already passed, invite reputational torture, ridicule, and informal boycotts.

A master in moving on has been Hillary Clinton.  Incidentally now U.S. Secretary of State Clinton learned well from her mediocre digital communications during her unsuccessful presidential run.  They were vilified.  In all mediums – digital, print, video, audio, and on-her-feet – she handles herself better as a result of that stumble.

Meme for Digital Times: Everything on the web, positive or negative, presents a positioning and packaging opportunity.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, invites you for a complimentary consultation for you social media, marketing, advertising (including media buys), public relations, and special events 203-404-4868, kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com.

Mindy Meyer’s Pink Campaign – 3 Lessons in Marketing

A gimmick.  A stunt. It will ruin her career as a lawyer.  That’s what some are saying about Mindy Meyer’s “pink” campaign as a conservative candidate for the New York state Senate. Here is her pink website http://mindymeyer4senate.com/?tw_p=twt

 

The critics may be right.  However, Image Marketing Consultants recommends you not not miss the marketing lessons embedded here.  Out of nowhere, this 22-year-old New York law student is getting national media attention, including from the influential POLITICO http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0712/78871.html With statements like “The Senate’s not just a bunch of old people” – Meyer can become the under-30 Sarah Palin – the voice of a new generation of conservatives.


 

The lessons?  Here are 3:

 

  • Positioning and packaging are everything.  Most leaders, causes, products, and services are essentially similar.  The best marketing communications win the day.

 

  • Take smart risks.  At her age, Meyer has nothing to lose and everything to gain.

 

  • Look, talk, walk youthful.  That has nothing to do with age.  No one thinks of Hillary Clinton as old.

 

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, provides complimentary consultations in marketing, public relations, media buys, social media, and special events 203-404-4868Kate@imagemarketingconsultants.com.

 

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