I talked with a smart panel on The Beancast again, this time the theme was how much bunk is out there in marketing study land.
What do YOU do on your phone during TV ads? We tackled Facebook’s assertion that TV viewers turn to them during commercial breaks, the hurdles facing people-based marketing, overcoming voting blocs at Cannes, and the effectiveness of brand takeovers on Twitter (I say not effective at all). Also, why Canada at Cannes is like the 1988 Jamaican Olympic bobsled team in Cool Runnings, and Travis Kalanick is a narcissistic frat boy. (Not mentioned on the show but worth noting: Sarah Lacy at Pando has been calling out Uber‘s problematic culture with little notice since 2012).
After a MapMyRun jog last week, a Houlihan’s ad pop up promoting their Inspiralized Menu. I follow the trend toward healthier menus and food labeling transparency, so I tweeted about the ad from a marketing angle, not intending to promote the restaurant. The Houlihan’s social team picked up my post, took it as a compliment (which it really was), and mailed me a $25 gift card.
By 2016, 89% of brands expect to compete solely on customer experience (Gartner, 2014). This gift card is a great example of G.L.U.E. (Giving Little Unexpected Extras, as Stan Phelps calls it). I’ve been a fan of Stan’s marketing lagniappe concept for years. It refers to a little something extra thrown in for good measure.
It appears that Houlihan’s personally @ messages anyone who tweets about their brand with positive sentiment. Perhaps they utilize a more in-depth analysis resulting in only offering this reward to users with a certain amount of influence or likelihood to dine. Because any egghead can tweet about a brand; only certain tweets are really worth anything as far as advertising.
This begs the question: as marketers, should we invest time in harnessing social data and finding a formula for which users to reward, or just produce thousands of gift cards and offer them to anyone who tweets about our brand?
Even at the cost of the latter, what may seem like spaghetti on the wall is fine with me; marketing dollars are often squandered on mediums like TV, billboards, and display advertising that can’t be reliably measured. Some digital ad platforms have numerous deliverability issues and often abysmal conversion rates. Even on the more targeted and trackable side of cookies, drip campaigns, and big data-based social targeting, digital has become so personalized that nothing feels personal.
The Houlihan’s tactic of using social and snail mail is one-to-one marketing. What has become a throwback can stand out. Haven’t you noticed how popular TBT is? Digital is saturated, but is a great way to initially target. Identify customers there, then try reaching out via the postal service, or another method that will catch them a little off guard. Another promoted post might not cut it.
Better geo-targeting would be beneficial, however; only serve this ad to users who live near a Houlihan’s (the nearest location is 107 miles from me). Whether this acquisition pans out or not, I couldn’t help but feel more affinity toward the brand. And here I am writing about them. That is certainly worth their ~10 minutes of labor and $25 plus production and postage.
Houlihan’s Marketing – HQ, HouliFans, and PR
Houlihan’s has a successful history of using social media and WOM techniques to identify brand ambassadors and derive valuable information from them. SVP Marketing and Creative Director Jen Gulvik worked on the 2008 idea for HQ, an invite-only social network of engaged customers with insider news and one-on-one dialogue, resulting in a ready made focus group. It encouraged customer loyalty and resulted in revenue growth based on menu feedback.
Their marketing team continues to handle the brand with poise, recently diffusing a potential PR crisis on Facebook involving a veteran with a service dog being refused service in Algonquin, IL in May 2015. A mix of intuition and good data in digital plus differentiating lagniappes in the physical world will help keep their tables full.
Innovation is a word that gets thrown around too often. Things have changed since Girl Scouts walked door to door with clipboards and pencils taking down orders that took weeks to process.
Recognized by Fast Company as #10 of The World’s Top 10 Most Innovative Companies of 2015 in Not-For-Profit, the Girl Scouts of the USA are keeping up with the times pretty well. But they could do better. The ubiquitous cookies are an obvious opportunity.
Mission: Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.
Some local councils offer Digital Cookie. Ecommerce skills are important, but not innovative. The @girlscouts Twitter stream is socially conscious and feminist. That’s great too, but not innovative.
A growing crop of consumers are empowered to vote with their dollars, seeking products backed by social, political, and environmental responsibility. Millennials, the largest living generation at ~83 million, are what Scott Hess aptly calls conscientious consumers. Their annual spending is projected to reach $3.39tn by 2018, eclipsing Boomers. Millennials value health and brand transparency. Post Gen/Gen We (born since 2000) may prove to be even more invested in globalism, wellness, and pro-social companies.
There is a missed opportunity to set a meaningful example about both women in business and simply better business – modern, pro-social, pro-human business.
1) Role models: Thousands of women have created businesses from scratch, namely bakeries that use quality ingredients. Which of these company leaders would make a better role model?:
2) Ingredients: The Girl Scouts website advertises: “No hydrogenated oils” (false) and is full of misleading copy about how the cookies are wholesome.
Girl Scouts: Align your flagship activity with your mission to make the world a better place.
RFP the cookie business to socially responsible, natural bakeries. Why support Kellogg in stuffing us full of GMO bleached flour, addictive sugar, and cell-destroying oils? I’d rather buy a Trefoil baked by Karen Herrera’s Sugar & Flour Bakery (Etsy shop turned storefront) in Greendale, WI than worry what BHT and sodium acid pyrophosphate are doing to my body. I’d rather buy Samoas made with whole ingredients by Sara Fitzpatrick’s The Cupcake Shoppe Bakery in Raleigh, NC than a chemical cardboard biscuit shot out of a conveyor belt in the Keebler factory.
Meet consumers’ growing appetite for transparency and social good.
Now, those two small bakeries could not handle the national demand. So look at an innovative, more established company like Hampton Creek, upstart maker of foods that use plant proteins instead of eggs. CEO and social entrepreneur Josh Tetrick founded Hampton Creek because while working and teaching in Sub-Saharan Africa, he noticed serious issues with the global food system. Hampton Creek makes ready-to-bake JustCookies, which are sustainable and natural.
Consider two points:
1) JustCookies are sold at Walmart 2) Unilever (owner of Hellman’s Mayonnaise) was threatened enough to sue little Hampton Creek over their JustMayo product
People have begun to care more about what’s in their food, where it comes from, and how it affects the planet.
Organic, natural, sustainable, locally sourced: these are not fringe values or niche buzzwords. Look at the fire drill the fast food and sparkling beverage industries have had in recent years over obesity. People are waking up.
So let’s make the world a better place.
More About Ingredients in Girl Scout Cookies
ABC Bakers and Little Brownie Bakers, the two bakeries licensed to bake Girl Scout cookies, distribute varieties that contain nefarious ingredients such as partially hydrogenated oil (both) and high fructose corn syrup (ABC). While copywriters address this with the seeming transparency du jour, the deflection is pure marketing. It’s par for the course from Kellogg, the Little Brownie Bakers parent company, known for depicting happy healthy kids on its cereal boxes of sugary junk and currently struggling with declining sales. Fueling a long FAQ page claiming that palm oil is perfectly healthy is the assumption that the original 8-ingredient natural recipe is no longer feasible. Why not?
Fun Facts – Girl Scouts
Founder Juliette Gordon Low organized the first Girl Scout Troop on March 12, 1912, in Savannah, Georgia. (Happy 103rd birthday.)
Both varieties of Thin Mints are vegan (but contain partially hydrogenated oil)
Troop Beverly Hills, the fictional Wilderness Girls troop from the 1989 movie starring Shelley Long and a young Jenny Lewis, accepted American Express but preferred Visa.
Recently, two ridiculous, antiquated requests have been made of me in order to verify my identity to two companies that I like: Twitter and Target. I somewhat understand the fax requirement for a Twitter impersonation report so I’ll focus on Target. (FYI I’m the real @emilybinder and @adoreajabakery and @thedigitaldive_. If any other handle claims to be me, it’s not me: I wouldn’t set up a handle that required a number on the end because my desired name was taken. I would find another handle. I don’t do numbers on the end.)
A couple weeks ago, I signed up for a Target RedCard in-store. I applaud Target on the convenient offering of quick sign-up with the cashier by providing a blank check and a driver’s license: no forms or visiting guest services.
Annoyance #1: Lack of Internal System Network Cohesion
The RedCard account must be set up with the address on the customer’s driver’s license. Mine happens to be my old address. The cashier couldn’t enter another address or update it after setup. She instructed me to call the RedCard 800 number immediately afterward and request an address change so that Target wouldn’t mail my new card to my old address. My blank check — tied to a bank account with what is necessarily a more reliable current address than the one on a driver’s license which doesn’t expire for years — should have sufficed for proof of address.
Annoyance #2: Human Error Followed by Outsourced Customer Service Giving Dangerous Instructions
I called the RedCard 800 number and asked to change my address. The lady in India asked for my driver’s license number, which I read aloud. It did not match my account: the cashier had mistyped my DL number. The lady said that since she could not verify that I was the account holder, she could not change my address. For that to happen, I would need to send a letter in the paper mail to Target headquarters including:
driver’s license number
social security number
last four digits of new Target RedCard
She did not instruct me to explain the situation – just to list these things.
A of all, that is a joke if you think I’m sending my social through the paper mail to your PO box.
B of all, I told her that, and she said, “Okay, you can exclude it.”
But her protocol was to tell the customer to send the above and nothing else. That would be a great formula for
1) no action due to lack of context
2) identity theft with that piece of paper floating around Minneapolis
Some customers are ignorant though, and would have followed those instructions. NEVER GIVE YOUR FULL SOCIAL unless you truly need to and you’re dealing with a trusted government entity or a bank, for example. Every single time a company or office has requested my social, I’ve refused and they’ve said it wasn’t necessary after all. Comforting. Keep it secret keep it safe. -My high school
I couldn’t print that day. So I, Emily Binder, hand wrote the letter. To make a petulant point about how ludicrous this was. After filling two sides of a page (many details to cover by this point) I finished with, “Please call or email me to confirm your receipt and processing of my request.” (That never happened.)
Two weeks after sending the letter, no card. I called the main Target customer service number. The system required entry of the last four of my RedCard and social. The lady who answered sounded like she was in Minneapolis. Great, maybe she will actually be able to update her own company’s system that she is staring at right now. She said the account showed my current address and that my card was just mailed. So my handwritten letter worked, which blows my mind. (I hand wrote it because I expected my request to fall into the void and I planned to later complain that I was merely providing information in the 1800s format they requested.)
Why couldn’t the outsourced RedCard 800 number customer service rep use the same credentials to verify me and change my address on that first day?
My letter provided no new (or verified) information that I wasn’t telling her over the phone or that I couldn’t email. At least with an email, the sender’s identity is somewhat traceable. USPS does not require a return address. Anyone could have sent Target a letter from “Emily Binder” and given any address where my card would then be sent to a scam artist. Note: Target still sent a RedCard to my old address.
Do not burden the customer. If an onerous hard copy type of action is needed, there better be a good reason why electronic submission would not suffice. It’s ludicrous for anyone to think that fraud is any less likely by requiring a customer to print and put a stamp on the same letter they would otherwise email. Even if it includes a scan of a photo ID. It’s a scan. This mailing a letter ballyhoo is simply a waste of paper, time, and resources and in fact creates a greater chance of identity theft because there is a paper trail. Or, for the unfortunate ignorant or trusting customers in my position, it creates paper floating around with the customer’s full social security number on it. This 5% off all purchases better be worth it.
In response to Netflix‘s exclusive programming featuring their hit series House of Cards, Amazon announced in March 2013 that they were creating a Zombieland pilot. On April 19, 2013 they released Amazon Original Series as fourteen original pilots available free to Amazon Prime members. Users vote on their favorites and Amazon will likely produce two winners as full series. I share my thoughts on House of Cards and two of the Amazon pilots: Those Who Can’t and Betas. Follow-up from Episode 14. P.S. Downton Abbey fans, by the end of 2013, Prime Instant Video will be the only paid streaming service to offer Downton Abbey. Hulu Plus and Netflix are out.
Google Now comes to iOS. Available since July 2012 for some Android users, Apple device owners now have access to the clairvoyant Google Now by signing into one’s Google account in the free Google app for iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.
The nascent Google Now is a more predictive digital assistant in ways that Siri can’t compete. Because Google records its users’ actions in all of its products (from web search to Maps to Gmail to Google+ and more) it has access to massive amounts of data and can triangulate personal information, behavior patterns, calendar events, contacts and more. There is major potential for Google Now. Some users have concerns over privacy issues. But personally, I’m happy to benefit from the data I’m already sharing with Google in exchange for predictive, personalized assistance. How will Apple and Facebook compete?
Instagram app update: 5/3/13: Now you can tag other Instagram users in photos like you tag friends in Facebook photos. Tags must be approved.
Best Brands on Twitter: Social Media startup Nestivity released their list of the top 25 most engaged brands on Twitter – we look at the top 10 and why they are successful.
About the List:
Brands were selected based on the results of a study that examined how brands cultivate relationships with influencers, customers, and advocates on Twitter.
Primarily using push marketing on Twitter doesn’t work (obviously)
Conducted by Evolve Capital Inc. (private equity firm) and UCLA Anderson School of Management, the study looked at the top 100 most-followed brands on Twitter, analyzing over 739,000 tweets over one month.
Significant: study was backed by a private equity/venture capital fund. Investors are paying attention and putting money into researching the success of brands on Twitter. Investor attention is often a barometer of the times; the players who have a major say in the lifespan and ultimate success of companies and industries are making a real connection between brand engagement on Twitter and a company’s bottom line.
High follower count also did not necessarily equate with an engaged audience: “While all of the 25 most engaged Twitter accounts had over a million followers, so did the bottom 70% of the same.”
76% of content that was shared (RT’d) had a photo attached, and 18% had a video.
Top 10 Brands on Twitter:
Notebook of Love
Chelsea Football Club
BBC Breaking News
CNN Breaking News
Tips on Tap:
Twitter Keyboard Shortcuts: M = new direct message N= new tweet R = reply T = retweet GR = Mentions GH = Home GM – Messages . = load new tweets
Tips to resize andoptimize layout of web images:
A. Two free tools to resize web images: Picresize and Resize Your Image
B. When resizing, choose small file sizes: Upload a PNG or JPG not too much larger than your desired image size. Choose PNG or JPG over BMP as the file format. Your site load times will benefit.
B. Have subjects (people, animals, products, etc.) facing in toward the block of text instead of outward and away from the text.
Smartskin Condoms for Smartphones Sex sells. This thermoplastic skin slips on and stretches to fit and protect your iPhone 4/4s/5 or Galaxy S3. Water-resistant plastic wraps retain touchscreen and call functionality and 98% camera clarity. Note that neither headphones nor cables can be used with Smartskin. Up to three uses per tab/pack. Smartskin from Firebox costs $18.50.
Emily’s app recommendation for recording a podcast on iPad: Voice Record Pro (free app to record unlimited length with conversion to MP3 and share to Dropbox, Google Drive, soundcloud, email, Facebook etc.)