Category Archives: branding

How can Twitter be a viable marketing tool?

Is Twitter a viable marketing tool? Some argue in favor of it, and some argue against it.  I think it boils down to whether an interesting conversation can occur as a result of this. Are there interesting anecdotes that can be utilized to explain the brand story? Are businesses simply using social media for the sake of it? Upon further examination, the pluses and minuses of this approach will be discussed.

Some of the advantages of Twitter would be the design of the platform.  It is simple, scalable, and easy to develop APIs for Twitter.  These APIs are modular and can exist cross-platform.  This is also a “cloud” application, where storage of the information is not placed in the users’ computer, but on Twitter’s servers.  Mostly, the advantage is that people are able to organize around topics, events, companies and causes offline and online with real-time conversations surrounding these.  It is human nature to be curious to know what others are doing and thinking.  Twitter is also a viral platform for everyone’s content, and it provides context to people’s conversations.

On the other hand, some challenges for Twitter can include finding content that would be of interest to potential customers.  For example, if one’s client sold table salt, what content can be tweeted?  The target demographic, busy moms, probably do not have the time or the interest to follow a table salt company’s tweets.  It takes much time and energy for twitter campaigns, and in the end is it really worth it?  What meaningful conversations can come from 140 or less characters messages? With so many people tweeting, isn’t burdensome to read all of those tweets?

I think despite some of the challenges, twitter can be useful if the brand has a compelling story to tell.  Reaping rewards of Twitter for more mundane products/services (e.g. table salt or housecleaning) becomes a greater challenge for marketers.  If there is an exciting narrative that surrounds the brand, Twitter becomes an easier tool to utilize.

Using Twitter searchTinker and other search tools are very important to ascertain what people are saying about one’s brand; one’s industry; competitor products/services; brand’s product/services and the topics of conversations of one’s target market.  These could be complaints, compliments, uses of the product or service.  Also joining in the conversation between one’s company and the customer is very important.  A success story from this was when a customer was complaining about their Comcast Internet service.  This customer tweeted their complaint, and instantly, a Comcast customer care representative responded.   This built up relational capital between Comcast, that particular customer, current customers and any potential customers.  This example of quick customer service became viral across the internet.


How has the recession affected brand strategy?

Many advertisers and marketers position their brand message to Maslow’s higher order needs (e.g. the need for belonging, esteem, self-actualization) on the pyramid.   Has the message changed as a result of the recession?

Mr. John Gerzema, author of Brand Bubble argued that because of the recession we need to embrace the lower order needs (e.g. the needs for safety and physiological protection) on Maslow’s hierarchy.  Fear and uncertainty are on the rise.  The marketers that will have a competitive advantage from this recession will replace passion with compassion.  Evidence of this includes Hyundai’s current campaign called Hyundai Assurance, which lets any Hyundai owner walk away from their lease or loan on a new Hyundai vehicle, if they lose their job within 12 months of the purchase.  In the first quarter of this year, the entire automotive industry in the US was down 38.4% between March 2009 YTD versus March 2008 YTD.  While Hyundai’s sales were up 0.7% during that same period.

There are a few businesses that have succeeded in the recession. Evidence is apparent with the, The Economist Magazine, LoveFilm and MTV.  In these four case studies, all are able to adapt to people’s interests as a result of people cutting back in their budgets.  The most compelling case study is with The Economist.  Its rich content about the recession and the banking crisis certainly appeal to people, but in my opinion,  it is its creativity in leveraging different media such as its podcasting, online content, magazine content and its educational guides on various subjects such as advertising that help differentiate this magazine with others.

Magazines on-demand

If you have been following this blog, I had been stressing about the importance of content on demand.

The first example, is at Heathrow Airport in London, where HSBC is promoting their Premier Card.  Travelers go to a kiosk, where they are able to customize their own magazines for free by selecting their own content.  These custom magazines will be branded by HSBC.  The Premier card’s target demographic group are travelers.  Based on the success of this campaign, this program could be a perk for HSBC Premier members.

Second example, is with Time Magazine  in conjunction with Lexus are pursuing a made to order magazine. Lexus will have editorial content and exclusive ad space, while the readers get aggregated content from Time and its subsidiaries all for free.  This campaign ties the customizable nature of this new aggregated magazine to the new Lexus RX sport utility vehicle and its customizable features.   The magazine will be available as a hard copy to the first 31,000 respondents, and then it will be available online as well as on mobile.

I think this is definitely how content will be viewed in the future.  The internet as a disruptive technology, changed how people view media.  Offering customized content that appeals to what, when, where and how the customer wants to look at the media is imperative.  Online advertising has not generated enough revenue to offset the decline in print.  Offering this customizable content is probably the best alternative.  What do you all think?

Go out there and manage your brand!

Yesterday, I attended a networking event.  The main lesson from this event was to pursue your passions, be excellent at it, and be full of energy and tie this with your strengths and be able to use this to help others. This lesson can be applied to an individual who is interested in building their personal brand, or to a business that is interested in developing their brand.  I came across this motivational talk by Gary Vaynerchuk some time ago.  I think he has a great message of pursuing your passions and stop doing things that you do not enjoy.  If you for even a second do not believe in what you are doing, get out, now.  He said “Look at yourself in the mirror and ask what do you want to do for the rest of your life, and pursue that.”  With these passions and patience, one can find a way to monetize it.

It is extremely important to build brand equity in yourself and in your business, too.  Finding methods to leverage one’s brand equity can be accomplished through a variety of social networks such as Facebook, Jaiku, LinkedIn, MySpace, Technorati, Twitter, etc.  Whenever, there is a social utility out there, take advantage of it.  You can be accessible anyhow, anywhere, anytime and as often as you can. Interactivity with customers is extremely important.  Building personal and company brand equity can be accomplished through conversation amongst the web users and spreading this message around.

The essence of this talk is that there is no substitute for hard work.  When people are coasting, that is the opportune time to work diligently to surpass the competition.  Gary at one point responded to 700 to 1000 emails a day, as a trailblazer in leveraging social networks (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc.) to interact with customers.  Listening to customers is effective, but caring about them is much better.  Reading customers concerns, suggestions, ideas is listening, but responding to emails, interacting with customers through social media is caring about them.  Legacy is greater than currency.  Whatever output occurs, ensure it upholds one’s legacy.  This solidifies either one’s personal brand or business brand, and it will enable future positive returns on investment.  The best way to succeed is to be transparent, and your legacy is all you have.

I have written about the importance of social media in business here and here.  As individuals and businesses are increasingly using these tools, it is imperative to be apart of this.  Adapt or be left behind.  I agree with Gary’s assertions that passion, hard work, patience are keys to success.  The lessons from this inspirational talk were very similar to the networking workshop I had attended yesterday.

Mobile phone advertising, design and consumer insights

On Friday, I had posted about how mobile phones will become the next breakthrough as a new media. Due to the convergence of media technologies combined with the popularity of the mobile phone, it will and can displace the internet as the new media.  Today, I will examine the emergence of mobile phone advertising, design and consumer insights.  

How has mobile phone advertising rose to prominence?  This was from a workshop conducted by Space 150 to discuss the future of mobile phone advertising.   As discussed on Friday, the iPhone or any Android-powered devices due to their user-friendly design enable the phone to become a tool of multitude of devices (e.g. internet, mp3 and video player, email, calculators, alarm clock, etc.) at ones disposal.  As a result, there is a higher percentage of iPhone users that have engaged with internet tools (streaming music/video, social networking sites, etc.) versus other mobile phone users on the currently slow mobile network.  

What are the current forms of advertising that exists?  SMS text messages, videos, pictures and now games.  Why isn’t mobile advertising widely embraced?  It is because it is subjected to potential privacy and political issues. If this form of advertising faces these barriers, why should an advertiser/marketer invest in this form?  First mover advantage benefits can be reaped.  Mistakes that are made today may not be as detrimental versus if they are made tomorrow due to today’s lesser amount of competition.  In addition, an ROI model can be developed to measure future successes.  

How can mobile phones be designed to become more user friendly?  With the increasing number of choices for mobile phones available for sale at the carriers, is there much differentiation among the varying phones? In this case, less is more.  Keep the phone simple: larger screens; larger buttons; streamlined features, easy scroll-ability and navigation.

Due to the popularity of the portability of the mobile phone, as well as the inherent personal nature of this device, consumer insights have never been much easier to obtain.  The user groups for mobile phones are broken down into the following groups:  busy moms (heavy callers), baby boomers (heavy callers), connected teens (heavy callers, text messaging and mobile phone applications), business users (heavy email and mobile web users) and early adopters (heavy text messaging, apps, email and mobile web users).  The Space 150 presentation delves into a further breakdown of the various groups with respect to their lifestyle, needs, drivers, primary use of the phone, the technology of the phone, and other communication tools that they engage in.

The methods that these varying groups engage their phones with the outside world can be as diverse as from coupons to contests, from interacting with social networks to engaging in interactive media from the content providers. 

Main mobile connection principles include: 1) Function first; 2) Keep it simple; 3) Integrate; 4) Leverage the platform; and 5) Be a leader.

I agree with the importance in designing mobile phones that center around the consumer’s needs, wants, and habits.  It is imperative that both marketers and advertisers understand the market psychographics and demographics.  It is clear that undoubtedly different groups use the mobile phone differently.  

I do not agree with engaging in a one-size fit all type of solution towards mobile phone advertising. Different products/services have different needs and marketing strategies need to be adapted accordingly.  For example, to increase brand awareness, being able to give a product/service free in exchange for advertising might be effective.  The permissive nature of this advertising bodes well for the advertiser, the telecommunications carrier and the user.  A major problem that the presentation addressed was the inherent nature of high number of ad impressions that result in low action rates, which translates to purchases.  Also, if a product/service was free in exchange for ad views, how does this improve brand equity?  

I feel that luxury goods/services cannot follow the mold of offering free products/service in exchange for ad views.  As I had alluded to on Friday, consumers need to be engaged and become advocates of the brand for this type of ad campaign to succeed.  For common goods/services or discount items, then any type of ad campaign that maximizes brand awareness is key.

50 uses for Twitter for business applications


How does a business listen to its customers? Is it through the customer service department?  Call center operations? This is an interesting article about how businesses can incorporate Twitter as a web 2.0 tool.  I had discussed in an earlier post about the benefits of Twitter to enhance friendships, but this post will be about using Twitter to enhance business to customer relationships.  

Chris Brogan has listed fifty uses of using Twitter for businesses.  It is quite the insightful read.  Mostly, it is used for connecting business to its customers through its interests, its insights, customer service and customer opinions.