Content Marketing

The art of marketing is constantly evolving. The year of 2012 has brands moving away from traditional print advertising and “shout marketing” and leaning towards content marketing and visual story-telling. It’s no longer about shoving information at consumers. Instead, brands are developing content to pull their audiences to them in hopes to build an interactive relationship with them.

Social media platforms with an emphasis on images – such as Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr – are becoming popular with many brands and proving that visual content can make a strong impact on business results.

Here’s an outline of a few of the most popular image-based platforms that have recently emerged and how brands can use them:

 

Pinterest

 

Pinterest is a visual pin board that allows users to organize and share images and ideas they find on the web. Pinterest has recently exploded in popularity and it’s unique monthly visitors now tops 11 million, making it the fastest standalone website to surpass the 10 million mark. So, should your brand be using Pinterest? If you are a B2C company whose target audience is women, Pinterest might be right for you. Check out this info-graphic to help you determine whether or not to use Pinterest for your brand: http://columnfivemedia.com/work-items/intuit-infographic-should-your-business-be-on-pinterest/

 

 

 

Tumblr:

 

Think of Tumblr as a cross between Twitter and WordPress. A micro-blogging platform and social network, users can quickly share snippets of information like text, images, videos, links, quotes and audio. Unlike traditional blogging where posts are usually long and wordy – Tumblr is simple, free-form, and visual.

For brands, Tumblr might be an excellent tool to communicate with your audience. Use it to highlight news articles by linking to online coverage; Share multimedia like logos, pictures, graphics, and info-graphics; Or create an event blog for a grand opening, product launch, community event, etc.

Instagram

 

Instagram is described as, “a fast, beautiful and fun way to share your photos with friends and family.

Snap a picture, choose a filter to transform its look and feel, then post to Instagram. Share to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr too – It’s photo sharing, reinvented.”

Instagram is not overly promotional, but its a great way to spread awareness and cultivate relationships with your audience.

“Think about the artsy ways you could showcase your work, your staff or your customers with this tool,” writes John Jantsch

Starbucks, Red Bull, General Electric, and Marc Jacobs are among some of the brands that are using Instagram for great marketing.

 

 

Lessons Learned: Outrageous Advertising To Avoid

Lessons Learned: Outrageous Advertising To Avoid

When it comes to marketing, nothing is off limits. From traditional advertisements to outrageous marketing stunts, companies can use any number of tactics to gain attention. But when marketers go for an offbeat approach, they straddle a very fine line between marketing success and a marketing bust. When a crazy marketing stunt goes well, it can result in millions of dollars worth of free advertising. But when it goes wrong, it usually results in lost jobs, lawsuits, and extreme amounts of embarrassment.

There are quite a few incidents of a carefully planned marketing scheme ending in disaster. Here are 3 of the most memorable:

The Chicago White Sox and the “Disco Demolition Night.”

In 1979, White Sox fans were asked to bring in vinyl disco records in exchange for 98 cent admission to a double-header. Fans were informed that the records would be collected and blown up in between games. Management expected to bring an additional 5,000 spectators. On the day of the game, 75,000 showed up. The stadium quickly reached capacity and many fans resorted to scaling walls and fences when they were turned away. After the first game,  a box of records was detonated with a bomb. Immediately after, spectators began to riot onto the field, ripping up the bases, destroying the batting cages, and sending the players fleeing. The Sox forfeited the second game and riot police had to come and disperse the crowd.

The Boston Bomb Scare:

In January 2007, Cartoon Network attempted to create a guerilla marketing promotion for Aqua Teen Hunger Force. They created many backpack-sized devices with wires on the back and lights on the front, displaying a moving image. The devices were placed in various spots throughout Boston, as well as other large US Cities. Unfortunately, many people assumed the devices were bombs. The incident caused a War of the Worlds-sized panic, sending the Boston Police’s bomb squad out on full alert. Boat traffic was blocked from Boston Harbor, and the Pentagon had the US Northern Command in Colorado Springs monitoring the threat. CNN quoted Congressman Ed Markey as saying, “It would be hard to dream up a more appalling publicity stunt.” He added, “Whoever thought this up needs to find another job.”

Snapple’s Giant Meltdown:

In 2005, Snapple set out to create the world’s largest frozen juice pop in New York City. The 117.5-ton monstrosity melted too quickly, spilling out of the back of a trailer and flooding streets around Union Square Park with a tidal wave of strawberry-kiwi flavored goop. Citizens were sent running for higher ground. There were a few minor injuries, which exposed the company to potential lawsuits, and while the story created a lot of press, it was almost all bad. MSNBC summed up the story as a “Disaster on a Stick” and said that the scene was “straight out of a disaster film — but much stickier.”

These are just a few of the most infamous disastrous marketing schemes to date. Very recently, we’ve seen a couple of marketing efforts that are surely to make their way to the list.

Mad Men’s March 2012 Return:

The hit television show recently returned for it’s fifth season. Amongst their promotional efforts was a billboard campaign  throughout NYC; it caused quite a bit of controversy. Intentionally or not, their ads depicting that of a main character also had a striking resemblance to one of the “most harrowing news photographs ever taken: that of the “falling man” plunging to his death from the World Trade Center on 9/11” says Doug Hill of Forbes. While many labeled the campaign as insensitive, “Mad Men” creators insist the comparison is nothing more than a coincidence, saying that “the image of Don Draper tumbling through space has been used since the show began in 2007 to represent a man whose life is in turmoil.”

The Black & Bleu Burger:

A steakhouse in Georgia came under fire from locals after it promoted its new ‘black and bleu’ sandwich as being inspired by Chris Brown’s vicious attack on his former girlfriend, Rihanna.

The owners of the Chops & Hops restaurant in Watkinsville took to the steakhouse’s Facebook page to mock the 2009 assault with a bad-taste joke about domestic violence. The post featured a picture of the blue cheese-smothered steak sandwich on the social networking site, along with the caption: ‘@chrisbrown, @rihanna and us teamed up for a (sic) award winning celebrity sandwich. Put your hands on this Caribbean black and bleu sandwich. ‘Chris Brown won’t beat you up for eating this unless your name starts with a R and ends with A.’

Diners reacted furiously to the post, criticising the chophouse for making light of domestic violence in its reference to the attack, which rocked the 2009 Grammy evening. …Read more here.

Outrage: The Chops & Hops restaurant came under fire from diners after it posted a picture of its new 'black & bleu' burger on Facebook, with a bad-taste reference to Chris Brown's assault on Rihanna in 2009

Have you seen any other crazy or outrageous marketing tactics used recently? Share in the comments below.

Image Marketing Consultants named in Hartford Business Journal’s list of top 25 Advertising and PR firms in Hartford County

We are proud to announce that Image Marketing Consultants has made the Hartford Business Journal’s top 25 List of Advertising and Public Relations firms in Hartford County this year.

Since being recognized in the top 25, the IMC team has been featured in articles from the Redding Patch, the Suffield Patch, the Southington Patch, and the Record Journal.

If you weren’t able to check out the articles, you can read a quick recap of them below!

The Southington Patch:

The Southington Patch was thrilled to see that Kate, a Southington resident, is finding success in her business endeavors.

The article pointed out that, “when Barack Obama was getting ready to run for President of the United States, Kate Terricciano Sirignano had recently graduated from college.” Just a few years later, “as Obama embarked on his reelection campaign, Terricciano Sirignano is celebrating her agency’s inclusion in the Hartford Business Journal’s list of top 25 advertising and public relations agencies in the Hartford County.”

IMC has grown rapidly and decisively thanks to its founder’s focus and energy and as Kate says, “We may lack years of history, but we more than make up for it in confidence, enthusiasm, and our independent spirit.

Check out the full article here.

 

The Suffield Patch

Tim, a Suffield Native, was featured in an article by the Suffield Patch. The article recognized him with helping Image Marketing land a spot in the Top 25 list. Tim joined IMC in early 2011 and was one of the first hires made by owner Kate Terricciano Sirignano after years of operating IMC as a solo venture.

Read the rest of the article here.

 

The Redding Patch

 

Amanda was also featured recently in an article from her home town of Redding, CT. The Redding   Patch recognized her as an essential component of the growth of Image Marketing Consultants. Amanda graduated from Central Connecticut State University with a degree in Communications and joined the IMC team in 2011.

 

Read more here.

 

The Record Journal

 

The Record Journal interviewed Kate recently for an article featured this past week. They recognized Kate’s success in making the Business Journal’s Top 25 List, saying “Sirignano said she was thrilled to be on the list with agencies that have been around since the 1950s and 1960s. Sirignano’s business was one of the newest to be recognized. In five years, Sirignano and her employees have established their clientele and usually work with companies worth $10 million to $100 million.”

“Sirignano said her business is here to stay and she doesn’t see anything changing.”

Read the full article from the Record Journal here.

*Photo credit: Dave Zajac of The Record Journal.

 

We are a small company that is growing rapidly and we appreciate the support from our clients and many friends!

 

Have You Joined Pinterest?

Between Google +, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, FourSquare, Flicker, Tumblr, MySpace, and the dozens of other social media websites, it is far too easy to get lost in the midst. Unfortunately, the importance of understanding, utilizing, and building these social media accounts is not only a positive move for your professional life, but for you personal life as well. Not to mention they are pretty fun to use!

I wanted to share one of the newest, most addicting, interesting, and fabulous social media sites that is out there today… Pinterest.

“Pinterest is a virtual pinboard. Pinterest allows you to organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. You can browse pinboards created by other people to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.”

Your account is simply built on creative DIY posts and pictures of recipes, events, décor, and so much more. Once you create an account, you have access to hundreds and thousands of fellow members ideas, and images that you can pin to your own page. It is a creative persons dream!

Working in the event planning industry, this site can easily be applied to the planning process for certain client events. Favors, foods, decorations- the inspiration is unlimited. We look forward to utilizing the site to our advantage!

Do you have a Pinterest account? Sign up or request an invite to join today!

 

Plan the Perfect Valentine’s Day Party!

Being in the marketing, public relations, and event-planning industry – we love a good excuse for a party. With Valentine’s day around the corner we seem to be finding ourselves daydreaming of all of the fun and fabulous things we might plan for a Valentine’s Day themed event. However, we are far too busy this year with our client projects to find the time. So, we’ve taken a moment to compile some of our favorite tips and ideas. Perhaps you can use them at your own themed event!

For the Singles:

Gone are the days when Valentine’s Day was reserved for only the smug, coupled friends in your life! Celebrate being single and unattached this year! Gather all of your best single friends for a fun, and festive cocktail party and be sure to use some of our tips to make your event a hit.

 

  • Food: Serve a variety of simple finger foods and appetizers. Keep in mind that your single guests will likely want to look attractive while munching and mingling with other singles. Avoid messy or runny foods and keep poppy seeds and garlic off of the menu. Try interactive food stations, such as a taco station, or chocolate fountain where guests can mingle while making their food.

  • Cocktails: Keep your event stocked with delicious drinks. Create a self serve bar where people can make their own drinks. Your single guests will have the chance to interact while preparing cocktails. Serve a signature cocktail themed for Valentine’s Day – it will be a great conversation piece!
  • Atmosphere: Keep the floor open for moving and mingling and keep the lighting low and flattering. Play a continuous stream of fun and upbeat music that people can dance to. Avoid painting the setting in red and pink, keep the décor simple and chic with the occasional red accent.

 

 

For the Couples:

Skip the expensive and lavish dinner this year and spend your Valentine’s day mingling with other fun and interesting couples! Host an event for all of your favorite couples for a fun and social Valetine’s Day! Here are some of our tips to organize an excellent couples event.

  • Food: Offer a variety of hors d’oeuvres and appetizers. Set up stations that feature a wine or cocktail, each with an hors d’oeuvres pairing. Couples will love interacting and sampling fun and unique pairings together. Try setting up a chocolate or dessert tasting tabel with bite-sized dessert portions. Or host a tasting event, such as a chocolate tasting party.
  • Cocktails: Set up do-it-yourself drink making stations – providing fun, themed recipes. There are hundreds of Valentine’s inspired cocktails that can be found online. Check out a couple of our favorites:

Love Potion:

3 parts champagne

1 part raspberry liqeuer

1 spoonful of fresh raspberries

Flirtini:

1 part vodka

1 part triple sec

1 part champagne

2 parts pineapple juice

splash of cranberry

  • Atmosphere: Invite couples that you feel will mix and interact well, to keep the vibe fun and friendly. Create the space for guests to mingle, but also provide some interactive elements to your event. Try setting up a Valentine’s card-making station with paper, markers, stickers, etc, where guests can create fun Valentine cards for their significant other. Or pre-bake heart shaped sugar cookies and allow couples to decorate them together.

 

 

 

Try some of these fun tips out at your Valentine’s Day event! Do you have any other ideas for a great Valentine’s themed party? Let us know!

 

 

 

 

Superbowl Advertising……The Most Expensive 30 Seconds Money Can Buy

For myself, and sports fans all over the world, the Superbowl is at the top of the list when it comes to championship games (especially with my Patriots in the big game this year). It offers a display of some of the most talented athletes in the world competing at their highest level. However, the actual game has almost become a secondary attraction. The pre-game media coverage, high profile half time shows, celebrity appearances and other non-football appeal have become almost as important as the game itself. The one aspect I’ve yet to mention is the one that people get most excited about, and the one that companies around the world have invested incredible amounts of money on……..the commercials.

Over the years, the TV commercials have become as much a part of the Superbowl as the players and coaches. So much so, that companies all over the world are willing to dish out $3.5 million for 30 seconds of air time at this year’s big game……a far cry from the $42,000 marketers paid for the same advertising spots back in 1967 during the first Superbowl

This creates an incredible challenge for the marketing departments at these companies. They have to come up with a creative campaign that will effectively market their company and products well enough to be worth the astronomical costs of the advertising.

Different companies take on this marketing challenge in very different ways. Traditionally, the most popular Superbowl ads are the comedic ones. Budweiser, Doritos and Etrade, among others, have mastered the art of creating funny Superbowl advertisements and many people look to see every year if they can top the previous year’s commercials. Some companies, like GoDaddy.com for example, take a different approach and go for pure shock value, showing provocative material and encouraging viewers to visit their website to see more. While others go with major celebrity appearances to try and appeal to their audience.

Here are two of my favorite Superbowl commercials that debuted at the 2011 game……Do you think they ‘re worth the $3 million these companies paid for them?

Etrade 2011 Superbowl Commercial

Volkswagen 2011 Superbowl Commercial

 

 

Sales Expert Jack Daly to Speak in Connecticut

We have been doing some public relations, marketing and event planning work for the Connecticut Chapter of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, a global network of business owners recently. The past couple of months we’ve spent finessing a wonderful event that will be taking place  this Wednesday, February 1st, 2012.

EO along with The Smith Brothers of Glastonbury will be hosting a sales training event aimed to inspire bigger and better business for its members and invited guests. The event is highlighted by a keynote presentation from nationally recognized sales expert Jack Daly, who has led similar sales seminars all around the world leaving viewers “Jack’d.”

The presentation, entitled “Building a Winning Sales Culture,” will include discussions on sales management, sales strategy, and workplace culture using proven techniques and methodologies learned throughout Jack Daly’s entrepreneurial career. Daly is a proven CEO/Entrepreneur having built six companies into national firms. He is currently co-owner/senior executive at INC #10, a promotional marketing agency based in Bellevue, WA.

Invitees include members of the Connecticut, New York City and Boston chapters of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization along with entrepreneurial groups at three local colleges, with the goal of pushing students toward one day owning their own business.

“We’re excited to welcome Mr. Daly to deliver his renowned presentation to our members and guests and are confident this will be one of our most successful event of the year,” said EO Connecticut Chapter President Bob LaBonne of LaBonnes Markets.

The Entrepreneurs’ Organization is a global group built on the idea that member entrepreneurs will learn from each other to promote better business productivity and an enhanced personal life. The Connecticut Chapter currently has twenty-three members with businesses in various industries.

 

Event Information:

1:00pm – 5:00pm Wednesday, February 1, 2012

University of Hartford

200 Bloomfield Avenue

West Hartford, CT06117

Wilde Auditorium (Lower Level) West Hartford, CT06117

(*Free parking in Lincoln Theater Lot)

Pricing:

$0- CT EO Members, CT EO Board Members, University of Hartford Undergrad students

$10 Non-University of Hartford students

$25- CT EO Guests

$50- Global EO members

$75- Pre-registered general admission/public

NOTE: There will be a $10 fee for those who do not pre-register.

Is Your Company Using Social Media Effectively?

 

The age of Social Media is upon us. Sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube are now household names, and for many of us, have become integral parts of our daily lives. Businesses too are adopting the world of Social Media, and an astounding number of companies are using social media as a component of Public Relations and Marketing Campaigns. But how many of these companies are using social media effectively?

 

A report published in 2012 by the Harvard Business Review titled, “The New Conversation, Taking Social Media from Talk to Action” gathered data from over 2100 companies, and provides an excellent analysis on how companies are using social media channels.

 

Out of the 2100 companies surveyed, a large 79% of them reported they are currently using, or planning to use, social media. Interestingly though, only 12% of the companies surveyed felt that they were currently effective users of social media.

 

As the Harvard Business Review put it, “Despite the vast potential social media brings, many companies seem focused on social media as a one-way promotional channel and have yet to capitalize on the ability to not only listen to, but analyze, consumer conversations and turn the information into insights that impact the bottom line.”

 

Clearly, many companies are struggling to use social media to its maximum potential. Focusing on the 12% of “effective users” in the report sheds some light on what makes social media effective. The report featured key findings that highlight the characteristics that the effective users share. Here is a summary of these characteristics:

 

  1. Sixty-three percent of the effective users said they have developed and implemented a social media strategy. They have moved beyond seeing social media as a “shiny object” or fad, and have started to see it as a part of their overall marketing strategy.
  2. Effective users are far more likely to use more social media channels – 4 or more.
  3. Effective users are more likely to monitor trends, research new product ideas via social networks, have an online user group for customers, and collect and track customer reviews on their website. They know where customers are talking about them on the web and prioritize their social media activities accordingly.
  4. Effective users are focused on measurements. They use of metrics and analytic tools to measure their efforts as well as the social conversations about them.
  5. Finally, effective users were also far more likely to integrate their social media monitoring solution with their other marketing solutions, demonstrating an integrated approach to their social media initiative.

 

According to the report, “It will take new tools and strategies to create what Avinash Kaushik, Google’s Analytics Evangelist, describes as a new reality in harnessing the power of social media. ‘Too many companies have not evolved from what I call ‘shout marketing’ — think TV, newspapers, magazine ads — to influence by initiating and participating in conversations with consumers,’ he said. ‘There needs to be a generational shift. ”

 

Take a look at the report , and let us know what you think – http://www.sas.com/resources/whitepaper/wp_23348.pdf

 

5 Great Things To Do in Connecticut

Wishing you could take a vacation? We understand that feeling all too well. Unfortunately, the obligations and responsibilities of daily life will keep most of us stuck at home for the time-being. If you’re longing to break the humdrum of your routine but can’t disappear on vacation – check out some of the fun and interesting things to do right in your own backyard. Below, we’ve put together 5 fun and unique activities that are taking place right here in Connecticut.

 

1. Visit The Bijou Theater

The Bijou Theater opened in 1909 on Fairfield Avenue in Bridgeport amid public excitement over the new silent movies. Now, more than 100 years later, the oldest building used as a movie house in the country is poised for a revival. The Bijou Theatre is a multi–functional venue hosting film, theatre, art, comedy, music, and cabaret.

2. Play your Favorite Sport, No Matter the Weather!

Located on River Road in Shelton, The SportsCenter is a covered and weather-protected facility that offers a golf practice range, 18-hole miniature golf course, baseball and softball batting cages, laser tag arena, bowling, and the world’s only double-decker ice arena. If you love sports, don’t allow the weather to slow you down this season.

3. Take a Winter Sleigh Ride

The pretty fields and towns of the Litchfield region could have been designed for winter sleigh rides; complete with lap robes, harness bells, and a top-hatted driver. Wood Acres Farm in Terryville has 25 acres of wooded trails, sleighs, and teams of draft horses to take you over the river and through the woods. Particularly for Valentine’s season, couples may want to snuggle under a nice warm blanket and enjoy a ride on a private horse-drawn Victorian sleigh.

 

 

 

4. Pick up a New Hobby

If you want to dip your toe into a new hobby or art form, Brookfield Craft Center will set up a class or workshop to your specifications – from a half-day mini-workshop to a five-day adventure. You could study black smithing and blade smithing, ceramics, fiber arts, glassmaking, jewelry making, or wood turning. Contact Brookfield Craft Center to discuss the possibilities.

5. Check out the Winter Wine Trail

 

Come see what the local vineyards have to offer in the winter, and they will heat up the afternoon for you. Visit the six participating wineries on the Litchfield Hills Winter Wine Trail between January 1 and March 30, 2012, and be entered into a grand prize drawing. Participating vineyards and wineries include DiGrazia Vineyards (Brookfield), Jerram Winery (New Hartford), Haight-Brown Vineyard (Litchfield), Hopkins Vineyard (New Preston), Miranda Vineyard (Goshen) and Sunset Meadow Vineyards (Goshen).

Do you know of any other fun CT winter activities? Let us know!

 

4 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

Now that the holidays are over, we’re all longing for the warmth of summertime. Unfortunately we’ve got quite a few cold, grey, snowy days ahead of us before the warm weather and sunshine come back out to play. The short days and cold nights can cause even the best of us to feel a little low. While many of us wish that we could hibernate until the winter has passed, that is simply not an option. Working in the Public Relations field, it is important to keep positive and cheerful at all times. So, to beat the blues we have some simple strategies that will help boost your mood and keep you feeling sunny.

1. Exercise

As if we needed another reason to get fit! Not only is exercise necessary for maintaining a healthy weight, it’s also excellent for relieving the stresses of our daily lives. Your brain releases mood-boosting endorphins (aka “feel-good hormones”) whenever you exert yourself through exercise. The mood enhancing effects of a good workout can last for several hours after you’ve hit the showers. A regular exercise routine will give you more energy throughout the day as well as boost your metabolism. As an excellent bonus to your improved mood and energy: by the time bathing suit season comes around you’ll be looking fantastic.

2. Make Plans

Winter seems endless! But making fun and exciting plans to look forward to is a sure fire way to elevate your mood. Plan an event that’s exciting to you; go on a weekend getaway, schedule a day at the spa, plan a party or special event, set aside an evening to go to a play or sporting event. Even on a budget, you can still find inexpensive ways to treat yourself! Have a game night with friends, host a potluck dinner party with a food theme (Italian, Indian, Thai etc.), or try taking advantage of the excellent deals that companies such as Groupon, Living Social and Deal of the Day are advertising in your city.

3. Brighten your Life

The weather might be grey, but your life doesn’t need to reflect it! Bring color into your home, clothing and corporate setting. Give an update to your wardrobe by adding bright and bold colors. Arrange a bouquet of fresh flowers in your home or workplace, paint a room with sunny, cheerful colors. Surround yourself with beauty and your spirits will be sure to lift!

4. Relax

You’re busy! Work, family, friends, events, and appointments—even those of us that enjoy the rush of a busy schedule could use some R&R at some point. Don’t be afraid to say “No” to extra opportunities. Try to dedicate a few minutes each day to yourself. Read a book or magazine, sleep in on the weekend, or take a warm bubble bath. You’ll notice that with more time dedicated to yourself you’ll alleviate stress and create a sense of calm.

 

These are four great ways to help improve your mood and well being during the Winter season. Do you have any other suggestions to share? Let us know in the comments below.