Tag Archives: audience engagement

MTV lessons on how to “Express Yourself”.

23 Aug

In a previous tweet I referenced a study commissioned by MTV who clearly understands and has managed to stay ahead of their elusive millennial audience, and wants to keep a good thing going. (http://bit.ly/nGxgEM).

So how has MTV done it? I suppose large budgets help. But throwing money at this target audience isn’t the answer – the solution requires far more creativity. And although research can help pave the way for great strategic marketing and advertising, many of the gem insights outlined in the study findings are things that MTV has been doing (well and at light speed) for quite some time.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

One study finding that MTV has managed to dominate is the idea of brand evolution that is as timely and fluid as the very audience they’re working to attract and retain. So what’s the secret? In order to be considered an evolutionary brand one requires creative thinking, strategic and certainly customer insight, but most importantly, a willingness to constantly re-evaluate and reinvent yourself – to be(come) a Madonna-esque brand if you will.

Madonna in Famous Gaultier Cone Bra

Let’s look for a moment at the chameleon that is Madonna. What is it that’s captured our attention and held it for so many years? Is it the fact that she’s a great singer? Arguably, she’s no better or worse that every other female artist out there. So what is her key differentiator? It’s the fact that she isn’t afraid to express and reinvent herself…often. Think back to the 90’s – just because she’d historically wore sheer tops during her shows didn’t mean she couldn’t pull off a Gaultier cone bra with amazing and unforgettable impact. She has continued to make risky moves, but has stayed true to her personality and she’s pulled them off with 100% confidence.

It’s this approach that has Madonna’s and MTV’s audience looking to them as the end-all-be-all for trends in music, fashion and life. So how can we all create a brand connection this deep with our audience? Is it really as easy as it sounds – taking your brand and stretching, pulling and twisting it into variations of itself in order to keep it engaging and compelling in a way that competing brands are not? Absolutely!

The trick is recognizing that you (and the brand police within your organization) need to get creative, act fast when opportunities arise and consider approaches you wouldn’t have previously considered. While you certainly want to keep in mind any foundational work you’ve done to build your brand, you have to be willing to push the boundaries of brand guidelines so new evolutions feel like natural extensions of your brand personality, not just a “strategic plan for creating emotional engagement” – your audience will see right through it.

Last but not least, don’t over think how you will evolve your brand, just follow your brand intuition and have fun with it. So what are you waiting for? Go ahead, Express Yourself!


Essential tips for choosing domain names

19 Jul

In a previous post on choosing a name for your business Doug provided 6 great tips for naming your business. As a companion piece I wanted to provide some tips on securing a domain name, aka URL or web address.

Business domain names come under a multitude of categories. Real words like Amazon, compounds like Facebook, mispellings such as Flickr (there’s a great rundown on naming categories at the nameinspector). Choosing a domain name to represent your business online  takes time and insight, but it’s worth the investment to avoid settling on a domain name that that no-one can spell or remember.

chosing a domain nameChoose the right keywords.
If you’re looking to find a descriptive name based on a familiar B2C service offering e.g. mortgage advisor / tool rental, then the chances of obtaining a single common term as a domain name are good as finding a capable husband in a TV ad so you’re going to have to mix and match terms.

List the common keywords for your category of business. Listing the terms your customers use, rather than more appropriate industry terms will make your domain easier to find. If still you’re itching to explain the difference between concrete and cement then you can educate customers once they arrive at your website.

Once you’ve got your terms, play with combinations. The results will get you off to a great start, and these names can be great supporting domains for your brand, but are unlikely to provide a the distinctiveness that comes with a great business and domain name. For that you need to…

Stand Out
To stand out you should look at options that convey the personality or USP your business. This step will be informed by the previous one, but often requires an external perspective and customer insight. An agency or branding consultant can provide this, and suggest business and domain names that are more distinctive and compelling than just a combination of words. It’s the reason HomeDepot.ca isn’t HomeRenovationStore.ca, and ConnectHearing.ca isn’t HearingTreatmentAndDevices.ca

Make it easy to remember
When you’ve got a draft list from the previous steps, read them out loud, ideally to someone who hasn’t been part of your initial selection. Can they repeat each one without correction or asking you to repeat it? If a potential customer mentions your company in a conversation or sees the name on the side of a truck they’re not going to have the luxury of a clickable link or hard-copy reference. Recall is vital for word-of-mouth referral.

Keeping it short will help here with the added bonus of being easier to implement in marketing materials.

Check company registers
Does a similar name exist, or has the same name been registered in another countries top level domain? Even if you consider your chosen domain to be noticeably different to an existing one, if it’s likely to cause confusion in the mind of the consumer, you could be on shaky legal ground. Check company and business registration listings in your country and get legal advice if you’re still not sure.

Make it easy to spell
If someone can’t spell your business name, they may not find you online. Relying on spellcheckers or Google’s Did you mean… suggestions are a lot more risky than simply choosing an easier keyword combination.

If you have to choose a domain name with potential spelling difficulties then…

Predict spelling mistakes
In Doug’s post on choosing a name for your business he profiled two sole-proprieter businesses named after their strongest assets… the people themselves. Both have names that can be easily misspelled.

In this instance list the obvious misspellings. You’ll probably know some of these already from years of receiving mail. One of my tricks to find misspellings is to type a proposed domain names as quickly as possible ten times. You’ll find common miss-keys this way. If you can touch-type then ask someone with less advanced typing skills to do this for you.

If your business name incorporates numbers, then add versions with the numbers spelled out to your list.

Decide on your market
If you’re market is local or national then it’s a no-brainer to register your country specific top level domain such as .ca .us .uk, but you should also register the .com if available, especially if you ship a product abroad or offer an international service. A .com domain name carries its own weight in brand value and awareness so add it to your stable of names.

From a usability stand-point many web users are unaware that country specific suffixes exist  and assume that all websites end in .com so why exclude them? Plus it’s worth noting that Firefox and IE have built in shortcuts that add www. and .com to a term entered into the address bar.

Once you have a chosen name, add the misspellings, miss-keyed and alternative domain names then register them all, yes all of them. Is the minimal cost of a years domain registration worth losing leads for?  You can easily re-direct them to a chosen central domain name that is the location for your website.

Register each domain name for more than a year. This demonstrates commitment to your customers that you’re serious about your venture. Admittedly, the majority of customers aren’t going to see how long you register the domain name for, but it is freely available information. A long registration suggests credibility, with the added bonus of giving you a little more search juice in the eyes of Google.

Tool Time

13 Dec

As human beings we obsess about measuring, calculating, and comparing everything we value in life. We measure our waists, calculate our finances, compare our successes, and in the case of last month, measure the size of our moustaches.  Similarly, social media enthusiasts rise to the opportunity to show their endowment and measure the size of their… Klout. 

Klout is a useful tool to rate the overall online influence its users have and it gives a simple profile of its users, but it doesn’t connect its users to blog posts.  There are many tools to estimate the influence of a blogger, but what tool can I use to find great blogs about what I want to read, without wasting time searching? 

As a social media researcher, it doesn’t take long for my eyes to crust over while researching the extensive list of online tools designed to tame and explain social media efforts. So when I came across Alltop, a simple and helpful tool, I was delighted.  Alltop does not offer an online influence rating like Klout, but it does offer top posts from top bloggers. 

Alltop is easy on the eyes, easy to use, and useful. As a news aggregation service, it allows users to search for various topics; from zoology to social media and everything in between. This tool cuts down on your search time by showcasing top news stories and blog posts from the top sites.  All of the topics are updated automatically every hour, and the best part is, it’s free.

Alltop also gives a list of the most popular stories, topics that reflect the interest of the user, and Alltop’s personal favorites. However, the tool is most valuable because it connects you to key influencers.  On an earlier Copeland blog post, advertising through key influencers as well as the importance of creating material designed to be viewed and shared was discussed.  Developing sincere relationships and targeting your content to an audience with social influence is important, but you first must find them and engage with what they’re saying.  At a glance, Alltop shows you top bloggers and what they’re talking about.

It is a tool worth loving.   


Real-time Web: From content to context

3 Dec

Today, many companies are introducing new intelligent tools, based on insight extracted from online behavior, to provide us with personalized experiences. Social Media sets the stage for generating meaningful interactions.

We knew for quite some time that content is king. Nowadays, social media is kicking it up a notch by offering the real-time dimension. Companies are starting to modify their website content or tweets in real time based on customers’ behavior.

Real-Time Web

Here are two ways companies can master this practice:

Contextual Conversation:

SocialFlow has found a way to extract real-time web feeds and data from Twitter and develop a contextual advertising service to its clients.

Once the client has composed and queued his tweets, SocialFlow monitors what topics are being discussed in real-time on Twitter and other social-media services to determine the optimal time to release a tweet about a certain topic to catch the attention of people and increase the chances it will be clicked, liked and retweeted.

Some publications such as The Economist are actually using this tool to jump into the real-time conversations by adding effective and contextual links.

Click behavior:

The numbers of visitors or the bounce rate are two relevant data to measure website performance. But what about content engagement?

Many companies are starting to modify their content in real time based on readers click behavior. A page can get a lot of viewing, but some readers won’t scroll below the third paragraph. The scroll depth monitors how far down the page a visitor travels your site. With this data, editors will be able to update and work harder on the content of their story in real-time.

These tools and the upcoming technologies will keep feeding companies with data to help them create a targeting content to to improve their traffic and exposure to their customers.

Real-time Web is fast emerging as one of the most important elements of our online experience. In the Real-Time Web, context is King and the link is context as long as the destination of the link has a huge value for the visitor.

Tips for Building Not For Profit Organizations Through Strategic Public Relations

1 Aug

A guest post by our very own Melinda Jolley
Sustainability Specialist and Corporate Communications Manager
The Tartan Group

As I get ready to embark on my next adventure of doing my masters in Leadership and Sustainability in Karlskrona Sweden, I have been looking back on the past three years working with the Tartan Group and with our many clients and community partners.

One of the highlights was being asked to present to three groups of not for profit organizations in Victoria, Burnaby and Kelowna as part of Accent Inn’s Charity in Changing Times community seminars.

Here are a few strategies and tips I offered them about how to effectively tell their stories and connect with key stakeholders using Public Relations.

We started by talking about the importance of taking the time to pull together a strategic communication plan before you start going gang-busters with your media relations, digitial strategy or community relations.

Many of the participants only had a few hours a day or week to dedicate to Public Relations, so I suggested that they take one of these seven planning steps each day instead of tackling their plan all at once.

Step 1: One tip I offered was to break your year up into campaigns or seasons to keep your messages targeted and clear. Once you’ve done this, decide what your organizational objectives for this campaign are and how  communications help to achieve these objectives.  In other words, what do you want to achieve by telling these stories?  Do you want to raise awareness about a new program, have 100 people attend a special event or raise $100,000 dollars for your program?

Step 2: The next step is to do a quick environmental analysis.  What is happening in your organization and in your community that could affect your objectives?  This could include the reputation of your organization, a recent high profile event or the economy at the time.  These factors can all be taken into account when creating your communications tactics.

Step 3: The next step is to think about your target audience.  Media relations and social media will often get your story out to a broad cross-section of the community, but who do you really want to engage with?  Is this your donors, special interest groups, business leaders or local government?  Also think about the best way to communicate with each of these groups.

Step 4: Next think about the three to five things that you want your target audiences to remember.  Write out your key messages that you will then use in all communications as the campaign unfolds.  Coming out with consistent messages over time is very important.

Step 5: Identifying a key spokesperson is important so your target audience gets used to hearing from or seeing the same person. Then when, for example, a stakeholder receives a letter asking for support, it is coming from the same recognizable person.

Step 6: The last step in your communications plan is to choose your communications tools.  With the objectives, messages, and target audience that you have identified, what is the best way of achieving your goal?  Media relations, telling your stories through TV interviews, stories in the local paper or radio interviews, may be the tool you need if you are looking to get your story out to the wider community.  Being active with social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, yelp and creating a blog and website with up to date information targeted at your audience with your key messages may also be the right fit.  Sometimes working directly with key individuals in the community or with select groups might be the most direct route to achieving your objectives.  Holding community events is one more tool in this tool box.

Step 7: Outline what success will look like, so you know what you are working towards and what you will measure your success against when complete.  Are you looking for 1,000 people to attend a community event, three articles in regional papers, are you looking for four bloggers to post about your organization or are you looking to attract 100 new friends on Facebook.

Once an organization has these elements identified, then the time spent communicating will be much better spent and will take you to your desired outcome much faster- something that is important for any organization, but even more important when you have limited resources and time.

These steps can be applied to a digital campaign, a media relations campaign or a stakeholder relations plan- so as an organization’s needs change and the communications tools available continue to develop, you can keep coming back to these steps in order to be as effective and strategic as possible, whether an organization is working to get more kids to camp, raise funds to conserve more ecologically sensitive land or raise awareness about new community composting programs or educational events.