Monday, March 31, 2014

Book Review: 3 Reasons to Grab Spin Sucks by Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich's latest book, Spin Sucks - Communication and Reputation Management in the Digital Age just hit the shelves. And I've bundled up my review into "Z's Threes" which are the three reasons I think you should pick this book up or download it. 

Z's Threes

#1 - Spin Sucks shares the What, Why, and How of Strategic Communications

You'll find this book indispensable because it explains exactly what you need to do to build strategic communications programs that withstand constant industry changes and then steps you through real case studies and maps out step-by-step how-to tactics. Gini Dietrich, with her storytelling expertise, leads you through the marathon mentality needed to combat the industry trend toward short-term, sprint-focused, and game-the-system one-off tactics that cause more harm than good for your brand. And fear not, Gini provides plenty of examples of said failed communication snafus. 

#2 Case Studies which illustrate Gini's themes and highlight that Spin really does Suck.

Spin Sucks is the right blend of strategic insight, B2B and B2C case studies (some old with a deeper dive, some fresh off the presses), and roll-up-your-sleeves-let's-do-this tactics starting in Chapter One with the ingredients of a great brand story. Throughout the book, Gini explains that the secret sauce of your communication plan is that there is no secret sauce. It takes time to develop your reputation and establish trust. My favorite quote in the book is, "Great companies don't lie. They don't steal. They don't cheat their employees. They don't become greedy. They don't allow people to behave badly just because that generates a lot of revenue. Great companies stop and listen to criticism. They commit to getting better, they set goals and a vision larger than themselves, and they truly behave better. When all of that happens, the storytelling is easy." Now, that doesn't suck.

#3 - This is a Quick Read...(distilled like the gin that both Gini and I love) and a Quick Buy Bonus 

And speaking of storytelling, it's a quick PR playbook read in a storytelling format that truly keeps you engaged with the 140 vibe that my digital colleagues will appreciate. You'll keep Spin Sucks handy as a go-to communications resource. If you buy the book before Saturday, April 5 email Gini a copy of your receipt, you will receive $200 worth of free content.

Ok, so what did I not like? There wasn't much. Chapter One was a slow start for me. I think it probably has to do with the bit of PR background I have and that I used to live social media 24/7/365 so it didn't strike me as fresh. That said, from Chapter Two on, I found piping hot fresh nuggets throughout.

Disclosure: I am part of the Spin Sucks book ambassador program and was offered an advance digital copy for review.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Register Now for Social Media Marketing World

Join me and 2000 of your industry peers in San Diego on Wednesday, March 28 through Friday, March 30 for Social Media Marketing World (SMMW). 

Why go?

I'm going because several of my industry friends went to SMMW last year and they told me this is THE must-attend social media marketing conference. They shared that the networking and the content are unrivaled. I can not wait!

With over 80 sessions, there's so many great topics to choose from with a host of diverse speakers, and one of my favorites - Customer Advocacy through Customer Service and Social Media Marketing - is what my panel is covering on Thursday at 10:30a. Here's the details:

Social Care: How Social Media Marketing and Customer Service Form a Winning Team By Zena Weist with Dan Gingiss (Discover), Michelle Lapierre (Marriott) and Becky Carroll (PriceWaterhouseCooper)

Topic: Social Care
Social Strategy

Room: Gaslamp

Please comment below or tweet me with any questions you'd like me to ask Dan, Michelle and Becky. 

Hope to see you in sunny San Diego in a few weeks!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Book Review: Jim Tobin’s Earn It. Don’t Buy It.

Thought-provoking Challenge to Standard Social Media Marketing Practices from Jim Tobin, a Proven Industry Doer

Jim has provided a solid background and game plan for integrating social media marketing into your overall business plan in his second social media marketing book, Earn It. Don’t Buy It. The CMO's Guide To Social Media Marketing In A Post Facebook World. It is truly a refreshing and realistic social media marketing guide on a subject that typically gets a lot of echo chamber love especially when it comes to platforms.

He provides solid use cases on why earned media – not paid - has to be the underlying foundation for your online initiatives. Jim’s quote which is woven through every page - “We can’t buy trust, we need to earn it” – is crystallized in Chapter 3 which is aptly named "Organic Impressions Drive Better Business Results." In this chapter, Jim talks about the Momentum Effect which is the joy of discovery pared up with the strong compelling feeling to share your discovery with others. In the past week, I know we have all gotten our Momentum Effect on with the urge to share something we have come across online -  2014 trend nugget,  a funny holiday video, or the coolest 2013 recap infographic - with our social networks. It's just how we are wired. 

And Jim isn't a paid ad hater, no, no, no how can he be? - he runs a social media agency after all! In all seriousness,  Jim does provide rationale that shows that the collective we (those doing social media marketing) are focused too much on paid advertising. He thinks our paid, earned and owned mix needs a re-mix. So what's the re-mix recipe?

He explains the why and the how through – my fave - ROI modules in Chapter 6 including formulas (there's a handy downloadable spreadsheet) and sprinkles in large and small brand case studies to illustrate his key points. Here's the six models Jim has identified:

The Six Models of Social Media Marketing:
  1. The Amplification Model: how much would it cost to buy these impressions/social actions through paid media?
  2. Value of Social Traffic versus Display: how much does it cost to get a visitor to your site via social promotions versus display advertising?
  3. Quality of Visitors from Social Media: how well do the visitors being driven to a site via social media perform?
  4. Revenue from Facebook Fans Model: how much incremental revenue do Facebook fans generate?
  5. Revenue from Social Media Marketing: how many sales can be attributed to your social media marketing programs?
  6. Social Promotions Sales ROI: how many sales can be attributed to a special social media marketing promotion?
I think choosing a model above, which aligns with the brand's business goals, is a great start for any organization looking to begin measuring bottom line impacts of their social media marketing initiatives.

Heads up on Earn It – it isn’t a quick read, it’s more of a workbook. Think Harvard Business Journal case study not Mashable trending story. This is a get-out-your-highlighter-and-keep-this book-within-reach social media marketing resource!
Disclosure: Ignite Social Media is a partner of Expion and Jim Tobin gave me a copy of his book to review.

This article originally posted on Expion blog.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Three Trends Impacting Digital Marketing

digital trends wordle
Earlier this fall, I keynoted at Lee Jean’s Digital Days, a day long event for Lee Jean’s marketing teams and their agency partners. They asked me to share a few digital marketing trends that were beyond the tipping point. I discussed three:
  1. Real Time Marketing
  2. Creating Youtility Through Care, Context & Creativity
  3. Empowering Employees & Fans
Here’s the slideshare for your review and I highlight a few key talking points below.

Let’s dig into the three trends starting with Real Time Marketing.

The term Real Time Marketing is overhyped. I’m sure a few of you are rolling your eyes. I get it, but I don’t think we – in the digital marketing industry – have really defined it and provided the rationale for a more steady state of Real Time Marketing.

What does Real Time Marketing mean?
Real Time Marketing is using data analytics with a process flow to shift marketing messaging in real time or near real time. 

The key words in my definition are really process flow and shift. Real Time Marketing isn’t going to work without a documented and blessed process flow. If there is no shift in your marketing messaging, then there’s no “real time” element.

And you can call it whatever you want if you think Real Time Marketing is too limiting or overhyped. Call it Agile, Right Time, Marketing in the Moment, Engagement Marketing… – really, at it’s core it is simply Marketing.

Real Time Marketing has three unique layers: 1) It’s an process, not a project (meaning there’s no start and stop date); 2) It’s an ongoing newsroom not an advertising campaign; and 3) The content has to be brand relevant and current but not a buzz wedge. How many buzz wedgie RTM tweets have we all seen and groaned over? I think I should devote a post to a few of them, eh?

Ok, so on to number two – Creating Youtility Through Care, Context & Creativity. Jay Baer coined the word Youtility and it’s the title of his NY Times best selling book, Youtility – Why Smart Marketing is about Help not Hype. I highly recommend you grab yourself a copy. It is jam-packed with excellent content marketing case studies from companies large and small and plenty of how-tos. Youtility is marketing so useful, people would pay for it.

I bundled a few of Jay’s key Youtility points to explain this second trend – Creating Youtility. In the digital world, customer service is front and center, with a two-way dialogue it is mandatory. Secondly, social listening isn’t just for passive company actions like brand protection and reactive ones such as customer service.  Social listening is also for proactive company actions like product innovation, marketing sideways and sales. We will see more and more traction with Youtility as we roll into 2014. Yes, you can hold me to that.

And finally, let’s chat quickly about the last trend I discussed which is Empowering Employees and Fans. This is about enabling your best fans to tell your brand story in digital. Brand advocacy boils down to having simple tools like Expion's Social Advocator, providing content with guardrails and making sure you don’t mandate employees or fans (through loyalty program requirements) to share. So, no voluntolds period.

The three trends cover always-on marketing; providing creative content marketing and product innovation through social listening; and, giving your brand advocates the means to share stories about your brand. There’s a ton more to cover and I’d love to hear your thoughts below in comments or shoot me a tweet so we can keep chatting this up.

This post was originally published on Expion's blog.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Book Review: Marketing to Millennials

They got me with the introduction. 

 “They” being authors Jeff Fromm and Christie Garton. The hook for me - stats. The Marketing to Millennials intro is not the standard “why we wrote this book and there’s how it’s laid out” bit, instead it highlights the research that was the catalyst for the book. The numbers are compelling and made me want to gobble the rest of Fromm‘s and Garton’s sensibility up.

The book is part resource (research from Forrester, Pew, BCG, Gartner, Barkley, etc.), part storytelling (many millennial interviews) and part case studies (several brands that are maneuvering their way into millennial relevance, daily consumption and loyalty.) Yes, you did read right, millennials can be fiercely loyal - if a brand lets them be - and this book explains the how behind the what.

The book flow is one that I akin to marketing research books I read for my MBA classes. It is straight forward and business-driven with a focus on explaining the millennial market backed with multiple research findings, discussing the unique opportunities, pointing out the gray (ie – Is this a life-stage driven or a true generational difference?) muddledness and providing in-depth analysis on how brands succeed with millennials.

Each chapter is easily digestible starting with a millennial quote that is a summary statement for the chapter’s theme.  There are at least two charts from industry research powerhouses in each chapter backing up the authors’ key points. The case studies are landscaped in a helpful “Who? What? How? Impact?” framework. And at the end of every chapter, there’s a handy one-to-two page key takeaways summary.

The content is solid for any company that is creating and marketing brands targeting millennials or those they influence. I think it’s relevant for companies that are trying to attract and keep millennial employees as well. Here’s an excellent review by Bob Morris that goes into detail about the content.

I really didn’t know what to think going into this book as I really didn’t know if the subject matter was core to my current role. Given how many brands my company, Expion, works with that target millennials and also given the average age of our office is 28 – this book is a necessary resource for me. I’ll definitely be keeping this book handy. I don’t say that about most books I read. I typically read and give away. Marketing to Millennials needs to stay within arm’s reach for me. 

·   Disclosure: I received a free copy of Marketing to Millennials from Jeff Fromm to review however I’ve given that book away and have ordered a few on my own dime – one to keep on my shelf and a couple to give to industry colleagues.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Visiting Our Sponsored CFCA Child At Her Family’s Home

I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to top last year’s New Year’s Eve. As part of my Guatemala CFCA awareness trip, I was able to visit our sponsored child, Angelica, at her home. Typically on CFCA trips a home visit isn’t part of the itinerary so this was an extra special event. For me, it meant I could see where Angelica calls home, meet her whole extended family and see how they live.

When we started sponsoring Angelica in 1998, her home was described as having two rooms with a metal sheet roof and mud floors. Having spent a lot of my awareness trip visiting with families whose homes fit that description and were near earthquake fault lines or on mountains prone to mudslides, I was anxious to see if Angelica lived in a safe home. I knew her family was a loving family but I was worried her living conditions might align with the many I had experienced. I really don’t think if I could have gone back to the US without seeing Angelica’s village and family home. I needed to make sure her family wasn’t living in harm’s way. My next blog post will share a story of a Guatemalan family that lost three children to harm’s way.

  Back to New Year's Eve and our adventure to Angelica's village. We traveled or about 2 hours up mountains, down valleys and up mountains. It was gorgeous scenery. Think Napa Valley Mixed in with a bit of Hawaii. On our trip to the village, our translator, Elena, shared that Angelica’s family lived in an area that was not plagued by mudslides nor was near a fault line. News that was even more calming to me than the scenery. So this gave me the courage to ask about their home. Elena assured me that the family had been building on to their home and it was safe and comfortable. Another sigh of relief for me. She also informed us that we needed to be prepared for a very large celebration!

And boy, did the family throw out the red carpet! We were greeted by what seemed like half the village and a large band that was made up of Angelica’s two brothers, uncles and cousins. There were lots of introductions and hugs. I felt like I was being thrown a coming home party and that that Angelica’s family had adopted me. It was very heartwarming and overwhelming especially getting to meet both sets of Angelica’s grandparents.

Angelica’s family pridefully showed me around their home as the music and festivities continued. It was beautiful! I would say the stucco-cement blended walls were at least a foot thick. Her father, Luis, assured me they would withstand typical earthquakes – though no earthquakes had hit their area. The floors were not mud but were gorgeous ceramic tiles. The roof was made of tiles with straw and mud insulation so the home was cool.   

Angelica walked me to her room that she and her sister, Yessica, share. She showed me a little Weist family area she had created with photos from us and
little gifts we had sent. This was a tear jerker for me for so many reasons. Her favorite gift was the saints book we had sent several years back. It was my favorite religious book growing up and I was so happy to hear it is her favorite as well.

Angelica’s mom, sister and aunts were busy making a Mayan feast for us. The highlight of my visit was sitting around their living room eating tostadas with Angelica’s whole family. Laughing and sharing stories. What a treasured moment!

Meeting a few of the children that Angelica’s family has taken in over the years was extra special as well. These kiddos, 10 in all, needed a safe place to live and be raised while their parents dealt with alcoholism. I couldn’t believe how committed Luis and Edilberta were about this. “It’s just the right thing to do. Our family has been blessed and we want other children to have a happy and safe childhood,” said Edilberta.

We danced in their courtyard for longer than we should have but no one wanted us to leave and we would have stayed but we had one more family to see that day and day light was escaping us. Saying goodbye was so incredibly hard but my heart felt light knowing Angelica’s family lived in a strong, safe home with a large supporting family. I also talked with Angelica and her parents about school and following her dreams to help her family continue to thrive. This home visit was the best way for me to see how our family had given Angelica’s family a hand up not a hand out.

Playing a little part in helping Angelica’s family achieve their dreams – that is what our sponsorship is all about. There were so many amazing moments to this day. The ones that are most precious to me are
seeing Angelica in her environment so happy and at ease - showing me around and so happy to have me with her family. Her personality really came alive and I saw a side to Angelica that I never could through letters. I also got to see for myself how the family lived, what they needed, and how their life plays out day in and day out. There’s a lot of love in Angelica’s home. Such a comfort.

If you are considering a home visit with your sponsored child, I would definitely say: do it.

A very big thank you to all the local CFCA trip that spent their holiday driving, hosting and interpreting for me and the CFCA headquarter’s lead, Judy-Anne. A very special thank you to Pedro, Angelica’s social worker, and of course our translator, Elena. I know that Elena was very late to her family’s New Year’s Eve fiesta and I very much appreciate her giving heart and helpful spirit!

Interested in learning more about CFCA and why I chose to sponsor a child? Here's my story.

I’ll be posting more recap blogs here. I'll update with video from CFCA when post-production work is finished. Many in-the-moment updates have already been posted on TwitterFacebookInstagram and Pinterest - just look under #cfcatrip.

DISCLOSURECFCA covered my flight and lodging for my Guatemala mission awareness trip in return for me documenting my trip via blog posts and sharing my CFCA awareness trip experience via my social channels.