Tag Archives: marketing

Turn Your Home Into a Billboard

Times are tough and the economy stinks. We already know this. More people are having their homes foreclosed than ever before. The homeless rate is continuing to skyrocket. Jobs are being lost and homes are sitting empty because no one can afford to buy them – even at reduced auction prices after the bank has taken them away. Everywhere you turn online, you see stories just like these and desperate pleas for someone to step up and do something. One company is aiming to help homeowners in a very big way. But is the price a little too steep?

Mobile advertising network Adzookie wants to pay your mortgage AND give your home a facelift in the form of a brand spanking new paint job. The catch – and you knew there was going to be one – is that your abode will be turned into a giant billboard for the company.

The company is looking for people who own their homes – you cannot be a renter, for obvious reasons. They will paint the entire outside of the house not including the roof, windows or awnings. It only takes a couple of days for the entire paint process to be completed, so you won’t be dealing with contractors for weeks on end. The house has to stay painted as a billboard for a minimum of three months, but that can be extended for a year. If the homeowner decides to cancel after the three months (or if Adzookie decides to cancel) they will repaint your house back to its original colors.

Can you even begin to imagine what your neighbors would say if your house looked this way? I imagine neighborhood property values would plummet and an angry mob may beat on your door with lynching ropes in hand. Seriously, though, I shudder at the mere thought of someone doing this. Yes, I completely understand that it’s nearly impossible for so many out there to pay their mortgages while maintaining the balance with other obligations. This seems like an easy way out, but is selling out in this manner really worth it?

Apparently, more than a thousand homeowners feel it’s definitely worth it. That’s how many applications the company has already received. The sheer number of citizens who are hoping for a chance to turn their home into a spectacle overwhelmed Adzookie to the point they have had to push back the project starting date in order to weed through the hopefuls.

My question to all of you is this: Would you be willing to turn your home into a giant billboard in exchange for a few mortgage payments? Are you comfortable with having to hide from your neighbors for at least three months? More importantly, how far do you feel is “too far” in the advertising world? Am I completely crazy, or is this well beyond acceptable marketing practices?

Is Bad Advertising a Good Thing?

For years, many ad execs and PR reps have held to the old adage that bad publicity is a good thing: it keeps a company (or person) in the spotlight. Even if the news making the rounds is bad, people are talking about it. Celebrities will often have well-placed “rumors” published in order to make sure the rest of us are keeping their names in our minds. These dodgy methods worked in the old days, but I’m not so sure they hold water in what I like to call the “social media times.” With seemingly everyone on the planet using sites such as Twitter and Facebook to discuss what we do and do not like, is it really a smart idea to cast yourself in a negative light to get your name on our tongues – or the tips of our fingers?

Indiana-based Hacienda restaurants recently launched a billboard campaign which took pot-shots at the 1978 Jonestown cult massacre, in which more than 900 people died after drinking poisoned kool-aid. Upon seeing the offending signage, one local patron informed the company that “the very notion that a local restaurant would trivialize such a worldwide tragedy to simply increase their sales of cocktails is outrageous to me, and it offended me to the core.”

Hacienda removed the billboards just two weeks after spending the money to erect the messages. Jeff Leslie, vice president of sales and marketing at Hacienda, acknowledged that the billboards were a mistake. “Our role is not to be controversial or even edgy. We want to be noticed — and there’s a difference,” he stated in a press release… and therein lies the problem.

During the Super Bowl this year, Groupon aired a commercial which ticked off people across the country. The masses were offended by the company’s apparent “lack of respect” in poking fun at world problems such as dwindling whale populations and deforestation. The company didn’t do so to be “mean.” They were using those as impetus for you to visit their Save the Money site. Doing so would allow you to donate money to help these causes. The trouble here is that this wasn’t made clear to many people who saw the ad and were simply outraged at the images shown.

This is where we begin to take a look at whether or not bad advertising is a good thing these days. Sure, we talked about both issues ad nauseum. There was a hell of a lot of press generated for both companies. But – and this is a big one – did that PR turn into increased revenue for the companies as it may have in the olden days of advertising? I’m thinking this is a definite no.

Social media fanatics are a finicky bunch. We take the recommendations of our friends and peers seriously. We look to them to figure out whether or not we want to dine at a particular restaurant, shop at a certain store or check out the latest flick at the theater. It stands to reason, then, that we also listen up when they tell us not to visit a particular website. When a business – or person – ticks us off, we tend to shout about it fairly loudly within our Tweet stream and on our Facebook wall. Our friends reiterate the message to their friends, perhaps adding that there’s no way in hell they’d stop by anytime soon after reading this… and we’re off!

It would be interesting to see some type of statistics showing whether or not traffic through Groupon declined or grew after the ad fiasco. I’d also be interested in knowing if anyone has eaten at Hacienda since their infamous billboards showed their faces across the Hoosier State.

What are your thoughts? Do you feel that marketing personnel need to be more careful these days to never cross that line into “bad press?” Is it a good idea anymore to make sure your name gets “out there” – no matter what type of talk people are doing?

Why is Your Identity So Marketable?

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During Gnomedex, we asked the audience to put ideas on a whiteboard to tell us what types of spontaneous talks they would be interested in hearing. Privacy is a hot issue, and someone asked the question: “Why is my privacy so marketable?” I knew the perfect person to talk about this was my friend Frank Catalano. Frank is a marketer by trade, having worked with Apple Computers and even in the toy industry during his career.

Why do you feel your information – and identity – are so marketable?

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Hype Aside, Most of Us Are Not Checking In

Despite all of the hype surrounding various check-in services, most of us are not bothering with any of them. Companies such as Google, Foursquare, Gowalla, Shopkick and the almighty Facebook all offer services which let you report your physical location online. This allows you to connect with friends on the fly or receive some pretty rad coupons and discounts when visiting a business. A recent study shows, though, that only about four percent of Americans have tried location-based services, and a mere one percent use them weekly.

“Ever since mobile phones and location technology got started, there have been conversations about the potential for doing something really incredible with this for marketers,” said Melissa Parrish, an interactive marketing analyst at Forrester. “But clearly the question is whether it has reached the mainstream, and it looks like the answer is no.”

Many businesses offer free drinks or discounts on goods when you check in there. Heck, you can receive even better goodies if you become the mayor of many of those same establishments. While this appears to be a great marketing ploy, there is a serious flaw in the equation if no one is using those services.

Twitter has over 145 million users. Foursquare has about three million subscribers. Loopt boasts four million fanatics. However, only about a quarter of them are active. The potential is out there to turn location-based checkins into a marketing guru’s dream. Despite VCs pouring more than $115 million into the mix over the past year, we just aren’t quite there yet.

Samsung Tosses a Free Galaxy S to Select iPhone Users

In what I feel is an absolutely genius move on their part, Samsung is offering free Galaxy S devices to well-placed (and frustrated) iPhone users. With “Antennagate” still looming large above us, Samsung has stepped up their game in proving that they feel their device is better.

I happen to have one of these beauties in my possession already, and I love it. This is the best all-around Android device I have used thus far. Samsung feels that if you’re suffering from dropped calls and reliability issues on your iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4 you’ll find a better experience with the Galaxy S. They believe in this so much that they are reaching out to ticked-off people on Twitter to offer them a Galaxy S of their very own – at no cost.

In a press statement, Samsung says: “Recently there has been a real increase in online activity from consumers dissatisfied with some of our competitors’ products. We decided to contact a cross section of individuals to offer them a free Samsung Galaxy S as a replacement, as we’re confident that once people have the phone in their hands, they’ll see how impressive it is for themselves.”

The campaign is being handled from the samsungukmobile account on Twitter. Whoever is behind the screen name is busy monitoring tweets, such as the one sent by Tiffany Nieuwland recently. She reported being tired of dealing with dropped calls and inability to even use her iPhone 4 at all. Samsung reached out to her and offered a new Galaxy S. Tiffany reported being skeptical, but anxious to give an Android device a go. After confirming the legitimacy of the campaign, she happily accepted the device.

This marketing campaign may seem a bit unconventional and even weird to some of you. However, I truly do believe it is the best thing that the team at Samsung could have cooked up. My only concern is in wondering how many of the dropped call issues are directly related to the iPhone itself – and how many are due to the ever-lovely AT&T network. Let’s hope all of these happy new Galaxy S owners don’t experience the same issues since they will continue to be stuck on their current network and plans.

Store Loses $1.6 Million in Pricing Mixup

On Friday night, a pricing mixup caused 6pm.com to lose nearly two million bucks. Around midnight, there was a mistake made in the pricing engine that capped everything on the site at $49.95. This only affected merchandise which appears only on 6pm, and not products that appear also at its sister site, Zappos.

On 6pm, you’ll find brand-name products at deep discounts. For instance, there was a $1400.00 GPS system available during the snafu for only $49.95 during the six hours of the pricing problem. The issue was discovered – and corrected – by 6am PST that morning. The company states that it will honor all purchases made during that time at the prices which were advertised. The cost of the messup for them is estimated at $1.6 million.

Sister site Zappos uses customer service as their key component of sales. It has paid off well, as it’s considered to be the biggest online shoe store on the Internet with over a billion dollars’ worth of sales in the past year. It was acquired by Amazon last year. They claim a large percentage of their sales come from repeat customers who are happy with the company and the way they are treated.

Several blogs are hinting that the price snafu could be some type of odd viral marketing campaign. I can’t believe that any company would willingly eat nearly two million dollars in lost sales for the sake of marketing. Sure… cut your prices. That’s a great way to make sales. But cost yourselves (and your investors) a chunk of change that large on purpose and you’ll likely find yourself out of business.

Did you manage to get some awesome buys over at 6pm on Friday morning? If so, share your steals and deals with us.

Add Video Into Your Social Media Marketing Plan

Roxanne Darling lives up to her name. She’s a darling woman – one who knows her business well. She spoke with Believe and Succeed after the Next Level Hawaii event last weekend. She is one of the top women in social media, and you can learn an awful lot just by talking to her.

Video is the fastest growing communication medium online. When you watch a video, you get a 3D experience with the music, the message, the visuals, the emotion, and the body language. You don’t get that with text-only communications. Plain-text isn’t bad, but it is limited. Video is alive and dynamic.

With our connection speeds getting larger and faster, online video will grow quickly. Those of you who are already in the video business will have the advantage whether you’re live streaming or recording conversations to share with the world. You can even create episodic tv shows or screencasts.

Sharing your message through video can change how a person is thinking and feeling. It’s extremely powerful. You need to get over your fear of cameras. Don’t think you’re going to be perfect. You just need to be you, and be real.

According to Roxanne, you need to remember the words to a song: “Come join with me.” She invites you to join her in the social media space. Be your own marketer. Get yourself out there. Use the immediate and real-time tools to connect.

I have to thank Bruce and his team at Hawaii Aloha for helping me once again make the trip down to paradise.

Disclosure and Compliance Made Easy

On December 1, 2009, the Federal Trade Commission began requiring bloggers and social media gurus to make full disclosure statements. This was done to “protect consumers from potentially misleading information.” Many of us in the blogosphere had been doing this for quite some time, as we believe in transparency. I know that I personally have always tried to be as up-front as possible when it comes to my sponsors and products I have received as review units. The same holds true for many of the people in my “circle” – as well as those whose blogs I follow.

It was pretty shocking to read all of the headlines surrounding this mandate. For those of us who were already practicing full disclosure, it was as though we were being slapped in the face. It almost seemed as though people who follow us were suddenly wondering if each of us has been getting something for nothing, or trying to “dupe” our communities. Bloggers who have worked hard for years were suddenly being scrutinized. Social Media mavens had their every tweet examined by people looking to point fingers. It was an intense time in the communities I belong to.

Even though much of the finger-pointing and name-calling has died down, we still have the FTC standard to uphold. Even though we may have already been following the guidelines, we still catch ourselves wondering if we’re doing it right. Did I put the proper wording in that last post? Did my tweet include all of the hashtags it should have? Am I being 100% transparent and open in the eyes of the government?

*Photo art courtesy of Jeannine Schafer*

If you’re one of those people who are unsure and want to have your confidence bolstered in this area, I highly suggest you check out CMP.ly. This company in no way sponsored this post – or anything else, for that matter. I met the company CEO at SXSW in March via my friend Jenn, and he graciously agreed to a video interview. However, due to some technical difficulty with Ustream, the recording didn’t save out properly. The service is such a potential godsend for some people that I wanted to spread the word however I could.

CMP.ly helps you comply with the FTC guidelines by making it simple to disclose things. There are solutions for bloggers, brands, agencies and even affiliate marketers. The company has “created a set of easily identifiable disclosures and codes that can be used to identify any material connections in your blog posts, tweets or other communications. These disclosures give you flexible options and provide you with both short codes and full text disclosures that can be included in your posts.”

Not only does the service make it easier for you to manage your disclosure, it also works across nearly all mediums you might need. Use them on posts, in tweets or via SMS messages. One cool highlight is that your disclosures will stay intact when in RSS syndication or when spread via a re-tweet. This makes it easier to keep track of than a hashtag on Twitter – or via a keyword in your blog.

There are seven levels of disclosure listed on the CMP.ly site. Each of the levels is clearly defined so that you can figure out where your post or message may fit in.

  • CMP.ly/0 – No Connection, Unpaid, Your Own Opinions – This level indicates that you have not received any compensation for writing a piece of content and you have no material connection to the brands, topics and/or products that are mentioned therein.
  • CMP.ly/1 – Based Upon a Review Copy – You have a material connection because you received a review copy (book, CD, software, etc.), or an item of nominal value that you can keep for consideration in preparing to write your content.
  • CMP.ly/2 – Given a Sample – You have a material connection because you received a gift or sample of a product for consideration in preparing to write your content. You were/are not expected to return this item or gift after the review period.
  • CMP.ly/3 – Paid Post – You have a material connection because you received a cash payment, gift or item of nominal value from a company affiliated with a brand, topic and/or product that is mentioned therein.
  • CMP.ly/4 – Employee/Shareholder/Business Relationship – You have a direct relationship with a brand, topic or product that is mentioned therein. Details of this material connection or relationship are outlined in the custom disclosure fields.
  • CMP.ly/5 – Affiliate Marketing Links – You have a marketing connection to a brand, topic or product. Through the use of affiliate links contained in your material, you may collect fees from purchases made.
  • CMP.ly/6 – Custom Disclosure – You have a direct relationship with a brand, topic or product that is mentioned in your writing. Details of this material connection or relationship are outlined in the custom disclosure fields.

Whether you agree with what the FTC wants us to do or not, the fact remains that you honestly don’t have much of a choice. Personally, I don’t understand why someone would not want to be transparent and honest with their audience. Then again, I’m not inside of their mind or conscience. At the end of every day (and every post I write), I know that I have done my best to CMP.ly.

Have you?

Twitter eBook

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As promised, I have compiled and released a set of 140 Twitter tips and tricks. It’s in a PDF format, and there is no DRM. That means you can take it with you wherever you go. It works out to one penny per tip! The eBook is Creative Commons licensed, so you can feel free to use the tips any way you see fit, as long as you give proper attribution! This eBook will help you, whether your business is talking to customers on Twitter already… or even if you are brand-new to the tweeting game.

Instead of you wasting your breath trying to teach others all about social media, tell them where to get this eBook for only $1.40. I know – you expect free things. SO – if you tweet out that link: http://go.tagjag.com/twittertips saying that you’re going to buy the eBook… and send me an email to show me the link to it… I will give you a copy of it. You can teach an old tweeter new tricks!

There are some excellent tips in this eBook, and not all of them were written by me. I put out a call to the community, and you all delivered. The artwork was all done by my friend Kristin, and I must say it turned out beautifully!

I do plan on a future revision(s) of this eBook, so keep sending in those tips! If you have an excellent one, be sure to email it to me – along with your Twitter handle – and you’ll receive credit when revision time rolls around!

You never know what the future will hold. Perhaps it will become larger. Maybe it will turn into a version that will work on the iPhone or iPod Touch.

I want to hear your thoughts. What do you think of the book? Was it helpful to you? If the community enjoys this eBook, perhaps there will be more. Maybe you’d like one full of Facebook tips… all in 140 characters or less? It’s easy to read, and may just teach you a thing or twelve.

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