Posts Tagged ‘consumer’


2012 Counselors Academy Conference – Your Secret Sauce Ain’t No Secret: The Power of Transparent Marketing to Transform Your Brand and Business in the Digital Age

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Colleen Flood*

Marcus SheridanIn a previous blog post, I recapped takeaways from the keynote session, Groovin’ to Your Own Beat: How to Build Your Business by Merging Your Personal and Professional Selves from the 2012 Counselors Academy.

Today, I would like to offer a roundup of a breakfast keynote given by Marcus Sheridan, president and founder of The Sales Lion.

“When it comes to marketing, all businesses say they want more sales but few are willing to start thinking, talking, and walking like their customers in order to make this happen,” says Sheridan. There is a fear of embracing social media and doing things outside of the comfort zone. Communications professionals are afraid that others are going to copy what they do and be successful. So they participate in ostrich marketing and bury their heads in the sand.

“They think everything they do is ‘secret sauce’ and this has got to change,” asserts Sheridan. Instead, marketers need to focus on what consumers really want, which is value, authenticity, and truth.

Developing Consumer-centric Content Marketing

  • Gather company employees together and ask, “What are the questions you get?” Companies rarely take the time to answer these questions – the why – and this aggravates consumers.
  • Make it priority to answer 50 of these questions and write two posts per week.
  • Embrace the idea about cost. Consumers always ask about price, so why turn away?

Search
Where do we all go when we are going to make a purchase?  Google! Another way to deepen your consumer-centric content marketing is to pay attention to how consumers are searching. What are the questions they ask Goggle? Marketers should get ahead of the problem and educate the consumer. If they don’t, consumers will research and find out the information one way or the other.

  • Rule: If your client or prospect asks the question, you need to answer it. 
  • Build links by writing good stuff.
  • Don’t be afraid to have an opinion.

The Ideal Blogger/Content Provider
No one wants to be left out of the party. Marketers need to make the shift and embrace the way their consumers think.

  • The face of content is a real person.
  • Everyone in the company embraces content marketing.
  • Listen to the questions and answer them.
  • Understand the consumers.
  • Write like you talk.
  • Focus on being great communicators. See yourself as the best teacher in your industry.
  • Be known as something and create an identity for your company.

And remember, you can’t be great at every platform. So, choose who you are and then be the best in the world.

How are you using transparent marketing to transform your brand and business in the digital age?

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*Bio: Colleen Flood has been a sales consultant with BurrellesLuce for over 12 years and is eager to become a more integrated part of the social-public relations community. She primarily handles agency relations in the New York and New Jersey metro-area. She is not only passionate about work, but also about family, friends, and the Jersey Shore. Twitter: @cgflood LinkedIn: Colleen Flood Facebook: BurrellesLuce 

Amazon, Apple, Google Race to Dominate the Cloud-Based Music Sharing Arena

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Record labels are once again under attack from the Internet, this time by companies eager to jump into the red hot “online music storage” arena. After what the labels have been through the last several years, you can bet they’ll be better prepared this time. Apple and Google have been working diligently on a new music sharing model which promises to give music fans more flexibility in accessing their media, wherever they iStock_000001626968XSmallare rather than tying them to a particular computer or mobile device (a service known as a music locker). Google, however, hasn’t been able to deliver anything to this point, despite promising to launch their service as far back as last Christmas. And neither has Apple’s which hasn’t launched yet. But surprisingly it was Amazon who became the first media company to launch a cloud-based consumer service – deciding to take a bold “Napster- like” approach last month with the launch of their version called “Cloud Drive,” as reported in this New York Times article.

Amazon initially thought they were sidestepping the sensitive music licensing problem by allowing its customers to upload their songs in MP3 or A.A.C. format and then storing it in the cloud, enabling consumers to play the music on any Android phone, Android tablet, Mac or PC, regardless of where they were. “We don’t need a license to store music,” said Craig Pape, director of music at Amazon in this Reuters article. “The functionality is the same as an external hard drive.” 

What Amazon neglected to do was license the rights, for this type of activity, from the major Hollywood film studios and record companies. The labels immediately fired back, but rather than engage in a nasty drawn out lawsuit the two sides quickly realized they needed each other (for now anyway) to compete in this new music sharing market, fueled by the changing desires of the consumer. Amazon is currently engaged in talks with all members of the big four (Sony Music Entertainment, EMI Group, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group) to discuss how this latest business model can make sense for both sides. If the two sides come to an agreement, the way we access music will change dramatically once again; however, the question remains, how will the music industry be affected by this sudden access to online stored music files. And other than the consumer, who stands to benefit the most from this new platform?

David Bowie predicted in 2002 that music would become “like running water or electricity,” notes this article penned by John Naughton, The Observer. At the time of the original interview, Apple’s iPod had only just been released. Bowie understood that “iPod users were, in fact, the audio equivalent of travelers to primitive countries who carry bottled water because public supplies are unreliable or unsafe. In a comprehensively networked world, Bowie surmised, people would eventually become more relaxed about carrying their supplies of bottled music: when they needed it, they would just get it streamed from the network.”

I wonder what artists think of their content, once again, being downloaded and potentially shared by millions of people without a licensing arrangement on the table. Will Mick Jagger shout, “Hey! You! Get off of my cloud” (ok, that one was too easy) or will Rihanna say, “Come on, come on, I like it, like it.”?

The music industry continues to struggle to keep up with the consumer’s demands, but finally appears to have recognized its better in the long run to accommodate music fans rather than waste time in court.

What are your thoughts? How do you think cloud-sharing with affect the music and media industries? Share your thoughts with me and the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.

When It Comes to Brands and Content, Simplicity Matters

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Valerie Simon

iStock_Communication_SmallThis weekend, in a Wall Street Journal article, former chairman of the FEC, Arthur Levitt, suggested: “When an editor wants a reporter to explain something more clearly in a news article, she might say: ‘Tell it to Aunt Edna.’ Aunt Edna is the stand-in for a regular person, someone who has never thought about a cloture motion in the Senate, a municipal bond offering, or some other obscure issue of our public life.” Good advice to all those in the field of communications who are responsible for sharing important information with the public.

The practice of using simple language, however, isn’t always so simple, particularly for those experts in specialty fields, like healthcare or finance, who are tasked with communicating precise and complex information to the general public. Add the pressure and influence of company stakeholders, legal concerns, and a desire to be creative, and it is easy to see why “simple” is not always easy to achieve.

Put yourself in the role of the consumer…

  • Will “Aunt Edna” be confused by your message?
  • Will she grow frustrated trying to understand the industry jargon you are using, or overwhelmed trying to make sense of the information presented to her?
  • Will Aunt Edna grow uneasy or even lose trust in your company?

Now if, Aunt Edna has little patience for jargon and pretentious language, what about “Uncle Walt” (my stand in for the ubiquitous journalist)? Trade publications and academic journals notwithstanding, today’s reporters, producers and editors need to appeal to a broad audience. They are under increasing pressure to produce more, under tighter deadlines.

  • Will Uncle Walt need to read your press release multiple times in order to make sense of it? Will he even read your release for that matter?
  • How difficult is it for him to find the information he needs on your website?
  • Does all of the material and jargon lend itself to mis-quotes and factual misinterpretations?
  • Are the key messages you hope Uncle Walt will take away easy to identify?

Understand that looking out for Aunt Edna is not a charitable exercise. Customers like Aunt Edna are more loyal, and even willing to pay more, for brands that offer communications, interactions and experiences that are easy to understand and use. In fact, U.S. Brands Could Gain $27 Billion in 2011 by Bringing Consumers Simpler Experiences and Interactions, according to the findings of the Siegel+Gale  2010 Global Brand Simplicity Index.

So what global brands offer the simplest communications and what is the real pay off? For more tangible details on the value of simplicity, be sure to join BurrellesLuce and Brian Rafferty, Siegel+Gale Global Director, Customer Insights, for a free on-demand webinar on Using the Power of Simplicity to Optimize Brand Communications and learn about the findings of the 2010 Global Brand Simplicity Index. 

In the meantime, I offer you this challenge: Take a look at your online press room through the eyes of Aunt Edna and Uncle Walt. How much time does it take you to identify the key points? Is there anything subject to interpretation? Does your communication hold up to the “Aunt Edna test”? Does your competitor? Then, on the BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas blog, tell us what you find out.

News in our Digital Lives: “Old” Media Still Matters

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Amy Mitchell PEW Research Center Project for Excellence in JournalismA couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of hearing Amy Mitchell speak in St. Louis at the annual joint meeting of Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) and Community Service Public Relations Council (CSPRC), of which BurrellesLuce was a sponsor. Mitchell, a native of St. Louis, is the deputy director for the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEW PEJ).

Mitchell spoke to a group of roughly 250 communicators about the new news consumer and media trends for 2011.  It was an intensive presentation complete with plenty of charts, graphs and statistics. I won’t attempt to recap everything that was addressed but, here are some of my key takeaways:

  • No surprise that there is more news consumed now than a decade ago with 33 percent of Americans getting news via mobile devices, and 92 percent reporting the use of multiple platforms to get their news.
  • Internet is closing in but 74 percent still go to television for national and international news.
  • More of us “graze” for news with two minutes and 30 seconds being the average session per site, down from three minutes and six seconds last year – compared to about a half an hour with a daily newsprint product.
  • Sixty-two percent of internet users are on social media, and 77 percent of social network users get their news there.
  • Facebook is the third most popular referral site for news articles – following only Google and the original news site.

Contrary to those naysayers that keep saying print media is dead, this “old” media still provides most of our news!  In one American city (Baltimore), a whopping 92 percent of new content came from “old” media, proving that the published story is just the beginning of its life cycle.

There are lots of new players in the news game: citizens, non-profits, patch (local), commercial entities, corporate communications, newsmakers, privately funded sites, lobby and special interest groups. However, those producing news today have less control than ever in history. 

Mitchell said, “While news in the 21st century offers greater freedom today than ever to take part in the news conversations, it brings with it greater effort and responsibility.” 

So what does all this mean to you?  Obviously social networks are a very important distribution channel, but PR professionals must adapt to the “new” journalism – as a service, not a product that is platform specific. Communicators must be transparent with corporate messaging. What is your organization doing to adapt to the changing media landscape?

Part 2: Licensing – Monetizing Content in a 30-Second World

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

In my previous post published earlier this week, I suggested that content providers just come up with a way to charge for the use of the article when somebody reads the whole article instead of the hextract (header/extract)… do this regardless of whether that somebody is the first reader of the article or the recipient of it being passed along in an email. Make the charge a passive transaction and at a price the consumer considers fair. So the question on the table is why this hasn’t been done?

Pondering this question, two phrases immediately come to mind: “The Inventor’s Dilemma” (aPart 2: Licensing and Monetizing Content in a 30-second World great book by Clayton Christensen, 1997), and “like turning an aircraft carrier around.” The legacy environment is blinding. At the heart, though, I believe, is the much bantered-about idea of “engaging the consumer.” This is the “buzz” used by the folks attempting to do the engaging. The consumer is evidently not getting the message that they are being engaged; at least not by The Media companies’ definition, which is about adopting and paying according to its rules of engagement.

I was at a conference last fall with a significant number of aspiring media titans in attendance. The panels focused on devices, technology, and the creation of apps to support their existing revenue models. My takeaway was the tremendous amount of energy going into convincing the consumer of what their, the consumers’, needs are instead of discovering and meeting those needs that already exist.

This contrast became more apparent with the remarks of each and every one of the CEO keynotes: Jason Kilar, Hulu; William Lynch, Barnes and Noble; and Oprah Winfrey, OWN. They all shouted about the key to success being the result of a dialog with the customer, listening to them, and giving them what they wanted. The panelist’s focus was certainly not the result of these folks being from a culture that celebrates entrepreneurial thinking. The legacy rules discourage divisional collaboration and non-linear approaches. You don’t get your own castle without being able to protect the moat. Problem is that the market in which these rules worked moved and it didn’t happen in the dead of night.

The old marketplace based on scarcity of information has left the building and with it the providers’ absolute control of access.

So what to do . . . ?

After having given this way too much thought, I would suggest an industry strategic planning meeting be convened with a very select group of players. I would gather together Hearst’s Frank Bennack, Advance’s Donald or Stephen Newhouse, Google’s Eric Schmidt, Barnes and Noble’s William Lynch, and Clay Shirky, who consults, teaches, and writes on the social economic effects of Internet technologies. I would also include Ken Doctor, a leading news industry analyst, as the scribe. The group should be sequestered for a week and then every six months reconvene to make adjustments. With all the exclusive consortiums in play targeting “low hanging fruit,” this is one consortium that could actually move the needle, and create enough disruptive engagement to get all those “mortgages” paid for a long, long time.

My guess is that, in the end, a process of marking, tracking, and monetizing will emerge. The only absolute is that time is of the essence in the 30-second world or information.