How to leverage EMBEDDED and EARNED media

Embedded and earned media are two of the five pillar’s of your media marketing strategy. Embedded media is where you publish or broadcast as an author using the reach of an established platform. Earned media is publicity from a third party. It’s when your newspaper does a feature on your business, or you are interviewed on TV or radio.

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This post is a case study on how to utilize a piece of embedded media throughout your five pillars, but also on how to leverage it for additional national earned media.

On Nov 2, a week before the US 2016 federal election on Nov 8th, I published an article in the Huffington Post titled Biased Election Coverage and Consumption Will Have Consequences. The article took a look at the role of media – from traditional broadcast and print news outlets to the economic based model of online social media and influencers and how they are all forming our opinions around the US election.

It was largely shared and commented on – both on the Huffington Post site, as well as the various social media platforms I shared it on. And I was delighted to see them feature it on their front-page news Nov 2. That gave it tremendous reach. Of course I also put the link to it on my website. It was a great example of using another established player’s reach to position expertise. In the last two days, Twitter follows have increased significantly, as have Facebook follows and LinkedIn requests.

I thought the leverage would end there.

But then a surprise ending to the election offered an additional opportunity, when it became apparent that my forecast of a Trump win being missed by the media would actually come true.

I used my piece of embedded media to further leverage a major piece of EARNED media this week – an interview for “The 180″ on CBC Radio One, which aired nationally Sunday, November 13 at 11am. You can now link to an archived copy HERE.

I argued a number of theories as to why so much media content seemed to reinforce a Clinton win in the US election, and how that had been misleading, as well as how social media channels with content catered to user profiles, based on opinions of others like us, served to only further reinforce those views.

From an earned media perspective, this was a major coup. CBC Radio One is the largest radio network in Canada, reaching 4.3 million listeners each week. Being positioned as a “marketing and media expert” during a 10 minute interview was great positioning. But it’s the ability to then put that earned content on owned media platforms (blog and website) as a permanent credibility builder that is golden. And of course being able to leverage it out on social channels further added to the reach and value. It’s a piece of marketing that I will be multi-purposing for some time.

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promo-the180-smSo here’s the story on how this all happened and what you can learn from it in your own marketing efforts. Being on the west coast, by about 6:30pm results were looking shaky for Clinton. That’s when I went into my office and wrote an email pitch to a producer at CBC that I know. I didn’t send it until later that evening, after 9:30pm. I wanted to be pretty certain of the outcome before hitting “send.” Here was my pitch:

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I also sent a text to her cell phone, referencing the email and the Huffington Post article. The producer discussed the idea with several colleagues Wednesday morning, and by 10am I got a call to come to their studio to record the interview Thursday morning.

There were 5 things that got this pitch noticed:

1. A contrarian viewpoint: Most people in Canada though Clinton would win. Because I had predicted that Trump would win a week earlier, it got their attention.

2. A catchy headline: “How biased election coverage and the consequences of consumption and social media prevented us from seeing a Trump win coming.”

3. The pitch was short: The view was based on three forces coming together, and it was substantiated by a previously published piece in a reputable publication, the Huffington Post. Media loves other media.

4. Targeted one influential media contact: There wasn’t time to fan this out to a bunch of contacts, nor did I want to. I pitched one only that I thought was a good match, and it came across as an exclusive offer. This was also based on having rapport with a media producer, and the email and cell phone to reach them in off hours.

5. It was timely: I knew the pitch had to go out that night so it would be talked about the following morning in a briefing session. I also knew the producer would be accessing her email and texts that night, since that’s what producers and reporters do.

One thing worth noting in all this: I keep in touch with media even when I’m not pitching them. I copy people on interesting stories or research I’ve found that they might find useful, or engage them on a piece they’ve put out. I try to help them do their job better, so that when I do pitch a story idea, there’s familiarity and respect.

Hopefully this example has shown you how the 5-pillar media approach of OWNED, RENTED, EARNED, EMBEDDED and PAID media starts to come together. It can be a magic cycle to build branding, identity and expertise when leveraged well.

Choosing what NOT TO DO makes for powerful content marketing

Content marketing and social media are important, but let’s face it, they can take a tremendous amount of time to produce and manage. You can’t retrieve time once spent.

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Many of us get caught in an endless vortex of creating MORE content for MORE channels. We write a blog post here. Get some media coverage there. Post a photo to Instagram. Share some stuff on Facebook. Update that LinkedIn profile with awesome stuff. Tweet it. Snap it. Chat it. Maybe give that new live stream video thing a go because everyone says you’ve got to be on it. Then press repeat and do it all over again in the hope that it will push the needle on sales. Sound familiar?

“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” – Michael Porter

Many businesses have yet to build a truly loyal audience in any one of these channels, or they’re targeting too many audiences with their content. Is it perhaps time to make decisions on what you are not going to do? Be honest with what is working, do more of that and you’re apt to have the biggest impact.

When we look at great media brands like the Huffington Post or the Globe and Mail, they started by building a dominant presence on a single channel, before branching out to more channels. There’s much we can learn from this strategy, even if you are a smaller player.

Scott Stratten, the UNmarketing guy built his initial following on Twitter. He’s at over 184,000 followers these days. I had the pleasure of meeting Scott in Phoenix while speaking this past summer. He was an early adopter on Twitter, and believed in total real time commitment to the channel, rather then the automation that has taken over the platform for many now. His irreverent musing and total commitment to the platform gave him dominance to then spill over into other channels. Check out his website HERE. Or follow him ON TWITTER.

Chris Brogen is unshakable in his belief that e-newsletters are a core strategy channel for his brand. I’ve learned a tremendous amount from him that I’ve applied to my own business. Check out his approach HERE.

Jeff Korhan is making huge gains with podcasts these days engaging with small business owners and their marketing challenges. Check him out and sign up for his podcast HERE.

Jeannie Robertson, a veteran speaker and comedian, plays in a dominant way on Youtube and Facebook. Link to her site HERE.

In all of the above cases, these folks are of course on other channels as well, but they chose initially to dominate one in particular before branching out. They also knew intimately who they were targeting, and created content for that audience. That is key.

Today’s technology allows us to publish in many different places and to reach thousands of people. But just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. Perhaps we need to consider that LESS could in fact be MORE.

Great brands always have a story

Branding is about more then image recognition for customers. Great brands give their customers something to belong to and talk about. They always have a story.

I was reminded of that last week while in Ontario cottage country visiting relatives and friends before returning to Toronto for some business meetings.

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess many reading this have never been to Magnetawan. But those that have will likely know the iconic history of “Downtown Magnetawan” shirts. If you’ve been to the Mag, you likely own a shirt. And if you own a shirt you share the same story and knowledge of the place with others who have been there. Downtown Magnetawan is of course an oxymoron. You could blink and miss it, but that’s the point. This little town of 300 has a global brand. And it all started with a t-shirt.

For years the Downtown General Store sold the shirts. It was the kind of place that proudly boasted “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it” which pretty much summed up their approach to retailing. They had it all. Including the sought after shirts at the front, and a shrine of photos that people had sent them, sporting their shirts in places all over the world. Even former US president Jimmy Carter was pictured wearing one.

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On two occasions, once in France and the other time in New Zealand, while wearing a Downtown Magnetawan shirt, I had a complete stranger run up to me and tell me they’d been there, which then provoked a conversation of our shared stories anchored in this little town.

Those that wear the shirt have a shared story. They’re members of a global tribe. And they always have an emotional connection to the place and their time there.

Unfortunately the General Store burned down in 2011, and with it the shirts, and the shelves of photos of people wearing them all over the world, methodically collected and display over the years. In a curious twist of small town politics, the Trademark to produce them remained dormant for five years, further adding to the story. Those that had a shirt then became part of history briefly locked in time. Thankfully this year the Home Hardware store in town acquired the rights to produce the shirts once again, and they are now proudly building up that photo shrine, selling the shirts in store and online, as well as helping people share their stories and photos through a Facebook page and the use of hashtags on Twitter @DTmagnetawan and Instagram.

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So what’s the learning in all this?

1. Great brands always have a story. Downtown Magnetawan shirts had humble beginnings in a small town, and became a global brand simply through brand ambassadors wearing them in their travels. That’s a cool story. What’s the story around your brand?

2. Secrecy adds value. Everyone loves a secret, and if those in the know share knowledge about the brand not widely available, except to members of the tribe, it further ads to the appeal. Many people have a hard time pronouncing the name. It’s right up there with Penetanguishene, also in the area. But those who have been there can say it. Being so small, it’s a wonder that so many people have been drawn there from afar, but that is simply part of the secret of its appeal. Magnetawan is a town that joins Ahmic Lake and Lake Cecebe, a beautiful part of cottage and lake country.

3. Give people a way to share their story around the brand. For years the photo shrine helped tell the story of Downtown Magnetawan shirts, but now it is also told through online platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

So there you have it. A story and a secret, and a way to share it among members of the tribe. Could great branding really be that simple?

 

 

Are you channel surfing or tuning in?

Consider the idea of channel surfing versus tuning in. We’ve all been in the presence of incessant channel surfers. Perhaps you’re even one of them. Surfers skip from channel to channel, certain they can multi-task and watch numerous programs simultaneously. Some just surf out of boredom, looking aimlessly for something to grab their attention. I’ve noticed this habit carrying over to social media as well. Perhaps you recognize it in yourself? Surely it can’t just be me! We skip from platform to platform, one video to the next, an endless crumb trail of links as we chase the shiny object of our fleeting momentary interest.

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So here’s my question to you: Are you using the same channel surfing approach to reach out to your customers? Many companies seem desperate these days to keep up with all the new social media platforms and new features. Make no mistake, I think things like Instagram’s new “stories” feature will be beneficial for many. It’s a great feature to engage through visuals and invite one on one contact through messaging, rather then open comments. But it’s not for everybody. Building an audience on new platforms takes time and effort. Blab is super cool, but so was Periscope. Both require audience building. And the channel is only as useful as the reach of it’s audience. Plus the effort to utilize numerous channels often leaves us needing options to manage and schedule content (unless of course you have more then 24hrs in your day to deal with all this stuff). Twitter is a great channel, but there are a lot of people just scheduling content out into the universe in the hopes that it will break through the fire hose of other information. Their auto-responders reply to follows and comments. That’s not being personable or engaged.

We get folks to tune in to content when we engage a channel fully. But it means we need to be present and personable in that channel IN REAL TIME.

As many of you know, I advocate building your marketing presence leveraging the five pillars of your media: owned, rented, earned, embedded and paid. Within these pillars are media vehicles and individual channels. What really has become evident to me, as I’ve observed the actions of wildly successful marketers, is how they have all used the five-pillar approach, but more importantly, how they had selected one or two individual channels to truly engage their audience. Of course those channels were selected with their target audience in mind, and they had a strategy for what they wanted to accomplish in each channel. Seems simple enough eh?

Let me give you a couple examples from the National Speakers Association conference I attended in Phoenix, AZ recently.

Jeanne Robertson, a very successful keynoter and now theater circuit comedian, uses many platforms, but Facebook is undeniably where she truly engages her audience. Link to her Facebook here. https://www.facebook.com/JeanneLaughs/ It leads to many other places such as Youtube, Twitter and her website, but her primary “channel” is Facebook. Have a look at how she engages and is present in that channel. Note the recency of her posts, the personable responses, the type of “knowing” questions her readers post, obviously familiar with her stories as fans. She is tuned in, and so are her followers.

Scott Stratten, the “unmarketing” guy is another great example of the channel concept. Make no mistake, Scott is virtually everywhere online with his unconventional take on marketing mistakes, but he got his followers initially with a Youtube viral hit, and later as an early adopter on Twitter. @unmarketing is his handle there and he has over 183,000 followers on that channel. But here’s the curious thing: he DOESN’T AUTOMATE POSTS. He only posts in real time. And he only posts when he has something cool to share, and he is present on the channel in real time with exchanges that follow that post. By deciding to actually be social and not an automated app endlessly tweeting into the fire hose of content, he has garnered an audience that tunes in.

It’s not just online channels that work this way. Off line can be a goldmine. Kay Frances http://kayfrances.com/ is another great example of someone virtually everywhere online for her motivational humor, but her channel of choice for engagement is direct mail. She has built a killer database and she sends out notes and fun promotional pieces to the people who hire her regularly.

I could go on with examples, but what really struck me was many of these successful folks had selected a particular channel to tune in with their target audience, and then they made themselves fully present on that channel. That’s the thought I’ll leave you with. Are you channel surfing, trying to be everywhere with your marketing, or are you tuned in on your channel of choice?

What do you think? Email me mary@fiveminutemarketing.com with your thoughts.  I’m present on this channel and always happy to hear from you with comments too. Or if you’re more into Twitter, my handle is @marycharleson

 

Why do people share online content?

This week I’d like to consider the question, “Why do people share online?” At the heart of understanding this is the key to making content go viral and increasing the spread of your content marketing. That’s pretty important stuff if you’re looking to increase marketing effectiveness for minimal budget.

A friend sent me a link to this article by Brent Coker, called: PR Secrets, How to go viral. Essentially he argues it’s about social currency. “People share things because they want to be seen in a certain way – your friend who constantly shares TED talks likely wants to be seen as intelligent, while your friend who shares memes wants to be seen as funny.”

Basically he is saying people will share if they think it will enhance someone’s opinion of them. My friend noted this was likely obvious, but she hadn’t made that link before.

I’d like to add my own spin on this, and ask you to consider this: IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU. IT’S ABOUT THEM.

Reason2Share.

 

I think the secret to having your content shared is to consider the next person in line to share, not yourself. Knowing my audience, if I give you something that you will in turn look good sharing, I have pretty much guaranteed you will continue to share the content. And the cycle will continue. That’s the secret of going viral. Essentially it’s less about making myself look smart, funny, insightful or connected to an inner circle. It’s about celebrating you taking credit for it.

Ruminate on that one for a while. It just might cause you to think differently about what you share and how you do it.

What Crocs, Uggs and Earth Shoes can teach us about good marketing

I distinctly remember the season I spent walking up hill. It was the year that earth shoes were all the rage. For those who weren’t yet born, or would just like to forget them, earth shoes had a sole with a higher rise at the front than the back. The width of the toe was also decidedly broad, presenting a less then sleek and glamorous look poking out from your jeans. Thank goodness flares were also in fashion, or we might all have looked like clowns. Take that back, I think I did anyway. Graced with size 11 feet at the age of 12, the variety of available sizes for my footwear fashion choices peaked early and has been pretty much in decline ever since!

But back to earth shoes. They were ugly, but they sold like hot cakes.

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Just like Crocs, those very comfortable, colourful, holey things that really don’t belong in the same sentence as fashion.

crocsLikewise for Uggs, a decidedly bizarre hot weather footwear choice to emerge out of Australia that became all the rage with teen girls a couple seasons ago.

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Each of these three items touted comfort over style, but in evoking desire for their comfort attributes, they became stylish despite themselves. Such is the strange world of marketing and creating demand.

What might we learn from Uggs, Crocs and Earth Shoes for our own marketing?

1. You can create desire for almost anything with good marketing.

2. But nobody will buy your product or service more then once if it doesn’t do what is promised.

While simple enough in principle, in practice we often overlook number 2, thinking that number 1 is where our efforts should be. Summed up another way – get good first. Then worry about how to broadcast your value. This message becomes particularly important in an era where word of mouth and word of mouse (online through social channels and off line the good old fashioned way) is so important. It’s also where earned media kicks in when your business becomes newsworthy. And as regular readers will already know, that earned media then begs to be leveraged through your owned and rented channels.

Have you ever bought something because of really catchy advertising, then been disappointed in the product or experience? Likewise have you ever bought something and been absolutely delighted, and then gone off telling everyone?

It’s all about getting good first. That’s the best marketing out there.

 

Disruption: How Tesla changed automotive marketing

Mark the date April 4, 2016 in your memory. At some point in the future, this date will have huge significance. Elon Musk is also likely to roll off your tongue with the same broadly shared recognition that the name Steve Jobs from Apple does. That’s because April 4th is the day that Tesla pre-sold 276,000 Model 3 cars worldwide, with an estimate to hit over 500,000 well before production even starts. Each person parted with $1,000 down payment on a $35,000 electric car that won’t even physically be available until late 2017. Other then photos, nobody has even seen one. They are however familiar with the very expensive high-end design savvy models currently coveted by many and driven by few.

Sound familiar?

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Elon Musk has done to cars what Steve Jobs did to computing. He has disrupted everything. Although the existing premier Model S and Model X helped position the company as exclusive, no doubt the plan all along was for a major launch mid-market. In fact the survival of the company long term likely depended on it.

From a marketing perspective, the new Model 3 not only disrupts the existing automotive industry, it frankly blows it out of the water. I say that because it goes well beyond business, and enters the realm of economics, politics, and world power to have global energy not necessarily driven by oil. That shift now seems not only possible but also likely, with countries such as Norway and the Netherlands stating that they will prohibit the sale of gas powered cars after 2025.

Tesla’s disruption…

Product: Tesla makes electric vehicles only. And the cars are the epitome of art and industrial design meeting German engineering. This isn’t a pet project on the side, like their other major competitors. Nor is Tesla tied into the oil companies like some of the large existing manufacturers. Tesla has also demonstrated that they intend to build out the charging network, further altering what they are actually selling. Is it a car, or a transportation system? Will you buy charges? Get them free with purchase? Buy an annual membership? Whatever transpires, it will no doubt shake up all products and services within the automotive industry – delivery of power included.

Price: Previously Tesla vehicles were for the rich, clocking in close to $100,000 Cdn. The new Model 3 will retail for $35,000 US, putting it squarely in the range of many existing vehicles on the market. Because previous Tesla cars have been seen as so high end, and the Model 3 promises to have the same design sensibilities, it is perceived as being premium by the masses. That really disrupts the existing price structure of competing electric cars. How do they position against price now?

Distribution: Their distribution model doesn’t rely on dealers, or a showroom necessarily for that matter. Tesla sells direct. To date orders are in person or online. Sample cars are on display in a small showroom and test drives can be booked. Not that that mattered to the 276,000 people who put a $1,000 down on one recently. Further demonstrating that even a showroom isn’t needed. Truly, the cars can be bought online and then delivered.

Promotion: Taking a page from Apple’s playbook, Tesla has become a darling of the media, garnering hundreds of thousands of dollars of free global media publicity, simply by being newsworthy. What print and online they do all oozes class.

So why should we care about this type of disruption? Beyond the super cool factor of the car, how it will potentially change industries, politics, economics and world order (that’s a lofty list!)  it’s also just a great reminder that disruption represents both threat and opportunity.

How do you plan for disruption in your industry?  And more importantly, do you take time to think about how YOU or YOUR business could disrupt and do things differently? Think the 4Ps –  product (or service), price, place (distribution) and promotion. What of the four could you challenge or change from accepted convention? Perhaps you can disrupt multiples. Lots to think about for sure – but that’s the way tomorrows leaders are thinking today. What about you?

How to manage negative publicity: 5 lessons from Coors Light #BraveTheCold out of bounds skiing campaign

Somebody at Coors Light had a horrible, no good, very bad day last week. Several people at Rethink, a well respected Vancouver advertising agency responsible for the #BraveTheCold campaign, also likely had a sleepless night trying to put the breaks on creative that was set to launch that week, after negative publicity threatened to take over. And that doesn’t even credit the hundreds of thousands spent on scripting, casting, filming and editing in the first place that became unusable. Ouch.

The first ad in the #BraveThe Cold campaign featured amateur athletes competing in a crazy toboggan race. Appealing squarely to fun loving millenials, that ad went off without a hitch in February. But the second commercial that was to have launched last week, was called into question for how it encouraged out of bounds skiing and boarding. The ad featured an illuminating blue sign that doubled as a go ahead signal for the question “are you brave enough?” The signs used in the campaign were meant to promote the brand’s new temperature sensitive printed cans that feature a Coors logo turning icy blue once the can reaches optimum cold drinking temperature.

molson-out-of-bounds-ad Out on the west coast of Canada, the leaked online footage of the campaign set off a firestorm of negative media with BC Search and Rescue Associations. Members hit social media in outcry, and their concerns, picked up by newspapers and TV news stations gave the story prominence. We loose people in the mountains every winter through ill advised out of bounds skiing. They die a senseless death, and often rescuers risk their own lives in an effort to save them. There’s a huge financial, social and human cost.

I was initially contacted to provide comment from an expert marketing perspective, and by the time the story actually went to press, the Youtube channel previously displaying the video had been set to private. By the next morning the ad had been pulled, and by that evening Coors Light had apologized and promised to make a donation to Search and Rescue. Of course we all know that nothing ever really goes away once it has a life online, and the original ad can still be viewed by the curious here.

A quick Google search for “Coors Light out of bounds” reveals several pages of linked negative media coverage, including VancityBuzz, Global TV, CTV, CBC, the North Shore News, and of course BCSARA (BC Search and Rescue Association).

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GlobalTV

CTV news

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North Shore News

BCSARA (BC Search and Rescue Association) Statement on the ad:

The lesson here is social media and traditional media can work for you and against you. Rethink, a darling of the ad industry, well known for leveraging social media and traditional media to the benefit of their clients quite simply goofed on this one. They’re from Vancouver and should have known better. As I noted in one North Shore News media quote:

“It’s not like they’re in Toronto and they’re talking about skiing out of bounds being off the back of a hill in Barrie. With Rethink being in Vancouver, it’s no secret to them that when you talk ‘out of bounds,’ it’s a sensitive issue, especially on the North Shore Mountains.”

This is not the first time Coors Light, under the helm of Rethink, has fallen under the wheels of the media bus. In 2014, they made CBC’s “Marketing Fails of the Year” with their “Search and Rescue” campaign, where briefcases of Coors Light where left in public spaces throughout Canadian cities, inviting people who found them to take a selfie with the case and post it to Twitter, where they would be sent a code to unlock the case of cold beer. The package at Spadina and Dundas was reported as suspicious, and caused the TTC to reroute traffic as police shut down streets during rush hour. It was a great promotional idea that didn’t execute well with increased terrorism threats.

Sometimes brands invite media coverage to leverage their message further. In the age of social media and online sharing, that tactic can be a fantastic tool to harness word of mouth, mouse and mobile. But sometimes the result can be an unanticipated negative outcome. That’s when it becomes important to act quickly. To their credit, Coors and Rethink handled the out of bounds skiing situation in a very professional manner. There were five key insights:

  1. Research is important. Sometimes campaigns tested at the concept stage can kill cutting edge creative, but research can save the expense, grief and negative publicity if a campaign goes sideways after launch.
  1. Know your market. Being from Vancouver, Rethink should have been knowledgeable that out of bounds skiing was a highly sensitive issue. Had the campaign been created in isolation on the Prairies there might have been an excuse for this lack of market awareness.
  1. Act quickly when things go negative. On this front both Coors and Rethink deserves credit. They responded quickly to complaints and pulled the ad within two days.
  1. Triage the messaging. Coors initially stated they hadn’t wished to provoke, and then acted quickly to apologize once the ad was removed.
  1. Spin the positive. Although an amount and a date when the donation will be made has yet to be confirmed, Coors has said they will donate to the Search and Rescue Association to help fund back country rescue in the future. It’s a positive outcome unlikely to actually sell any beer, but a solid gesture.

Sometimes producing great creative means taking risks. Things don’t always work out. But in the age of social media, online sharing, citizen reporting, and transparency that works at the speed of light, you’d better have a plan in place if it things don’t go as planned.

March 30 update: Curiously someone alerted me to the ad playing on the Huffington Post site beside my article on this actually being the Coors #BraveTheCold out of bounds spot. Seems they have simply updated the sign to say “Take a new run” rather then “out of bounds” when the blue light goes on. It’s a clever way to dodge the bullet of accusations, since I suppose the waiting helicopter could be a heli-ski run. Click here to watch the revised spot. Coors Light and Rethink have taken a new run indeed.

takeNewRun_Coors

Link here to my Huffington Post original article on the campaign. Link here for Outside Magazine‘s “Coors Under Fire for Out of Bounds Ski Ad” article featuring my thoughts as a marketing expert.

Leverage your content like a MEDIA MOGUL

One of the presentations I am often asked to do is “Think Like a Media Mogul: How to manage multiple channels and create content that positions your brand.” It seems to resonate with business owners and marketing managers who struggle with how to leverage smaller marketing budgets to get more visibility and clout.

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With special thanks to NYIT (New York Institute of Technology) for this great banner artwork featuring a quote from a recent presentation I did for them, I’d like to present the concepts for the benefit of a broader audience. Three compelling reasons to build your media empire.

1. Authority: Be seen as the expert, the one who gets the calls, the quotes, and let’s face it, the business!

2. Search: Be the most visible. You want to dominate SEO without ever paying for it, simply because of the volume and quality of your content and knowledge.

3. Engagement: Build community; generate engagement with your brand, which ultimately leads to sales.

There are four basic pillars of your media empire:

1. Anchors: These are your media assets. Your assets include things like your website, blog, enewsletter, podcast, webinar, and video. As such, you own them, which is a good thing, since nobody can change the rules of how they are used except you. And you host them within owned properties of your media empire. Anchors are key players for search, authority and engagement. Ultimately you want your other three pillars to drive people back to your anchors. Your anchors are where you will convert exposure and engagement into sales.

2. Outposts: Think of these as rented property. Outposts include social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pintrest, Vine, Youtube etc. While you customize them like your own property, often decorating them like a home and taking ownership, ultimately someone else owns them and can change the rules at any time. They could charge you more rent, restrict your access, or use your property if they want to. But before you think of them too much like a nasty landlord, you must also consider the power and opportunity they can deliver. Outpost social media platforms have the ability to broadcast and share content, and by their nature, they offer two-way engagement, which helps build community around your brand. Outposts should be used to broadcast and engage, but ultimately drive people back to your anchor content. That’s where you own them and that’s where you’ll convert the sale.

3. Earned: This is third party endorsement. In the traditional sense it is when a print of broadcast media company publishes something about your business, giving it visibility, without you paying for it. But it could also include other online media like the Huffington Post, industry authorities through their social media, or well read blogs. Since it is an earned property and it can’t be purchased, it is coveted and valued. Usually these days coverage by other media outlets includes content online, which is great, since you can feed those links back into your outpost media engines and also feature it in your anchored content. If you earn media coverage, maximize the exposure as much as you possibly can.

4. Paid: This is the strategic stuff you do to boost and promote content online to a selected audience. It could include boosting posts, Google ad words, paid featured content, pop up ads or SEO. It used to be that a Facebook Like meant that everyone who “liked” your business received the post in his or her feed. No more. Organic posts have been choked down to less then 5% of those liking your page getting exposure. The good news is, boosting can be relatively inexpensive, and offer the opportunity to be very strategic and picky about who the post is delivered to. Of all the social media platforms out there, Facebook likely represents the broadest spectrum of the population, so depending on your offering this could be a strategically good route. Be sure to measure and monitor if you’re going to spend money on paid media.

Success comes when all four pillars are leveraged together.

The successful building of brand awareness through content marketing usually has at least three and oftentimes four of the media pillars. Original content is created and shared on several anchors. Outposts are used to broadcast widely and create engagement. If earned media picks up the story, it is fed back through outposts to generate more interest and ultimately drive people back to the anchored content. Sometimes paid is also used strategically to fuel outposts and drive people to the anchors, or to generate awareness and coverage by earned media. While the pillars of your media empire are separate entities, if used well with their purpose and unique abilities in mind, they build on each other offering you incredible media content clout.

Disruption: What is your data NOT telling you?

I love disruption. Not many people can say that. Disruption is a breath of fresh air to rituals and expectations. Leveraged well, disruption is an amazing marketing tool.

Take REI in America. They chose to CLOSE their store on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year in the US.

rei-closed-black-friday-2015

While some accused the retailer of simply pulling off a promotional stunt, the concept ran much deeper. The idea of closing so their employees and customers could actually go outside and play was in keeping with their brand promise of enjoying the outdoors. It struck an emotional connection with their audience. The fact that 1.5 million people then contributed content through social media to tell how they spent their day outside, of course added to the effectiveness. The company created the hashtag #OptOutside to help channel shared content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube. And the press went crazy giving them tons of free publicity for rejecting Black Friday. They became a top news item nationally. It’s an act of bravery to close 143 stores on your traditionally busiest day. But it would appear that subsequent online sales actually more then made up for it. They were reportedly up 26%.

It was a clever disruption.

But here’s the real insight. Data analysis would have told them this was a crazy idea. According to REI analytics, visits are preceded by one of more digital experiences, especially using mobile. Getting people to the site and keeping them there is the end goal for REI. Putting up a closed sign on their website ran counter to everything analytics told them. So too did putting up a closed sign on their 143 store location doors for the day.

But what data can’t measure well is emotion and values. Data gives you tracked behaviour, but creativity and disruption allows for justified leaps of faith. In this case, REI realized that the message to reject consumerism for the day would resonate, especially if they were encouraging people to step away from online, and to get outside and connect with nature. It also played out well for how they valued their employees in giving them the day off.

Data is about the past, but it is often used to predict the future. And it can do a good job to a point. But the one thing for certain about data is that it can also blind you to leaps of faith that allow an emotional connection based on values.

Have a think on that the next time you get tangled up in the reeds of numbers and analysis.