Roger Halligan's blog

Making “Happiness” Part of Your Brand

May
22
It appears Pharell Wiliams isn’t the only one who is making “Happiness” part of a brand.    I just returned from one of my client’s Board Meetings that was held at Coca Cola’s "World of Coke” facility in Atlanta. If you haven’t been to their new facility, it is definitely worth a trip. Ranging from the impressive 4-D movie to their sampling room where visitors can taste dozens of Coke products from around the world, the facility is all about “Happiness”.   More importantly, Coke has been focusing its marketing efforts on how the company has been promoting and facilitating happiness around the world in a variety of innovative and feel-good ways. <em>Branding Magazine </em>just published a very interesting article on this topic with links to several touching and emotional videos that demonstrate how Coca Cola is accomplishing this goal.  You can check it out <a href="http://www.brandingmagazine.com/2014/05/16/coca-cola-personifies-happiness-in-numerous-forms/">here</a>.    Regardless of whether you are a Coke fan or not, there are some important lessons here that can benefit all brands.
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Is Email Marketing Becoming Passé?

May
15
I recently had a client ask me if I thought email marketing was truly effective and if I thought it was becoming Passé.   I shared with her some great success we have had with animated emails and then I pointed her towards the “Inkredible Five exceptional examples of agile email marketing” from Movable Ink. If you aren’t familiar with the Inkredible Five, you should check it out.     The Spring 2014 Edition features some very creative and clever email campaigns by the<em> Wall Street Journal</em>, 7 For All Mankind, Lilly Pulitzer, DICE and Boden. These companies used a number of interesting techniques, including:   <ul><li> A video that played directly in the inbox and a live feed to the latest Instagram photos. </li> <li> A live web crop of the latest news stories so subscribers would always see the latest news regardless of when they opened the email. </li> <li> A new call-to-action following the end of a limited time promotion. When penned on a smartphone, a “click-to-call” button appeared. </li> <li> Real-time geo-targeting so jobseekers could see the jobs closest to them. </li> <li> An animated countdown clock to show how much time was left of a limited-time-only sales and a personalized greeting by name.  </li> </ul>   You can check out all the campaigns <a href="http://info.movableink.com/inkrediblefive-2014-spring?utm_source=InkBlog&amp;utm_medium=blog&amp;utm_campaign=inkredible5spring2014">here</a>.
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Are You Addicted to the Internet? “Look Up”

May
09
Is it time for an intervention?  Are your family and friends telling you it’s time to step away from the computer?According to a 2012 survey, 61 percent of Americans say they are addicted to the Internet, and the medical community now recognizes Internet addiction as a real and growing problem.  I just read an interesting article written by Jessica Taylor in the BAA newsletter that talks about and links to a powerful short film that deals with this addiction.  It’s called “<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4KUEybo4-k">Look Up</a>” and it is creating quite a buzz on, you guessed it, the Internet.  It’s worth a look and I recommend staying with it all the way to the end.
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Omni-Channel Shoppers Closing the Bricks Versus Clicks Gap

May
01
Regardless of whether you call it omni-channel, cross-channel or multi-channel shopping, there is no doubt that consumers’ path-to-purchase has changed dramatically over the last few years.It’s no surprise that more and more people are now shopping online instead of going to a brick and mortar store. However, a recent study from CFI Group and eBay Enterprise says that 95% of consumers “frequently or occasionally shop” a retailer’s web site AND physical store.  The report also found that 82% of all consumers surveyed said they consider it “important” to be able to place an order from a retailer’s e-commerce site while inside that merchant’s store.Some other interesting study findings were: <ul><li>93% of respondents want the option to return items bought online to local stores</li> <li>78% want in-store pickup of online orders</li> <li>56% will keep shopping with a particular retailer as long as they offer the best price - whether in-store or online</li> </ul> If accurate, these findings have major implications for both CPGs and marketers. For retailers, it means changing their business model to make it easy to order items from their website while shopping in their stores.  For MarCom Pros, it means marketing to consumers in more targeted and innovative ways.Some retailers are already moving in that direction. The Gap recently said it will give consumers the ability to order items online while in their stores, and the company told Wall Street Analyst that it is taking further steps to bind its store-, web- and mobile-based retail initiatives. Gap’s online sales increased 21.5% year-over-year in fiscal 2013.According to Internet Retailer magazine, about 30% of the retail chains in the Top 500 allow customers to buy online and pickup in-store. Another important aspect of more online sales is that some retailers can reduce the size of their physical stores. The Gap, for example, managed nearly 8% fewer square feet of retail space in the US in 2013.  These findings also mean that marketers need to change their strategies and business models of influencing the omni-channel marketer. It’s not enough anymore to have innovative mobile marketing, social media, advertising and PR programs. These programs now need to work seamlessly across all channels.There is an interesting conference onMarketing to the Omni-Channel Shopper taking place in New York the first week in June. It will feature CMOs from the top brands sharing their success stories on how they are bridging the bricks and clicks gap.  I know I’ll be there.
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To Join Or Not To Join - That Is The Question?

Apr
25
If you are like me, you joined a number of groups on LinkedIn that had the term “Marketing” or “PR” in the title when the online network first became popular several years ago.  However, I quickly discovered that several groups have just a handful of members, while other groups are very commercial in pitching their services. Needless to say, I never became active in the groups and/or dropped them from my circle. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I don’t engage with any of the three dozen LinkedIn Groups to which I belong.Until now. I recently joined a group called “CMO Network” that seems to be quite interesting. It clams to be “#1 Group for CMOs” and boasts over 85,000 members. What makes this group different than the other marketing groups out there is the diversity of marketing members and that they regularly engage in conversations on interesting topics.A recent conversation on the topic of “What is the one piece of advice you would share with any marketer to help them be more effective in 2014?” generated 31 comments.  And, the comments came from a variety of marketers including corporate, agency, university and free-lance people.If you haven’t checked it out yet, you may want to give it a spin.  If you know of other valuable groups, please share who they are.
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Who Said Mobile Marketing Is Just for the Younger Generations?

Apr
16
It has been a common belief among many MarCom Pros that Mobile Marketing is the preferred method of reaching ONLY Gen Y and Gen X shoppers.  Conventional wisdom says Boomers are far behind the curve when it comes to mobile phone use, especially for shopping purposes.     But surprisingly, a recent <a href="http://www.localsearchinsider.org/mobile-goes-universal-new-survey-shows-older-generations-embrace-mobile-as-local-shopping-companion/archives/">study</a> by Thrive Analytics blows that theory out of the water and shows that the older generation isn’t far behind the young-uns when it comes to using mobile devices in their path-to-purchase. While 97% of Gen Y shoppers use their Smartphones in-store, a surprising 81% of Young Boomers (44-53 years old) do as well.     And when it comes to using their mobile devices in-store to “help make decisions and become better informed”, it is pretty much equal across the board -  88% Gen Y, 89% Gen X and 87% Young Boomers. What I also found interesting is that it was also pretty equal regarding “Guilt-free about browsing mobile in-store” - so much for the theory about Boomers being more technology-challenged.    If you believe these results, it means marketers need to rethink the use of mobile when marketing to Boomers.     But I’ve got to dash, just got an alert on my iPhone that the local Starbucks is offering a 20% discount on Macchiatos.
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What Ever Happened To Journalistic Attribution?

Apr
11
It used to be a “given” that if a journalist was covering a speaker or session at an event, he or she would always mention the location of the interview and the industry organization sponsoring the event.  And that’s the way it should be.   However, we have coordinated media relations for a variety of conferences recently and some of the business editors would cover the event as media and then write a nice story based on an interview they did or a session they attended. That is all fine and dandy, except for two instances where good articles were written based on attending the conference but no mention was made as to where the sessions or interviews were held!    The story just said, “during a recent interview with so-and-so” or “according to new research just revealed”… with no mention of the conference.   This is bad journalism and a bad business practice for several reasons:   <ul><li> Many readers want to know where the writer conducted the interview and/or attended a session. If journalists report on a conference session they attended or interview they conducted, the obvious question is “what session were you attending and where”? It is all part of the basic journalism Who, What, Where, When format.  </li> </ul><ul><li> It adds credibility to the journalist and their publication that they are active in their industry and attended an event where the industry experts were convening. This is more in-depth reporting than calling someone on the phone and interviewing them.  It also allows the reporter to hear things during the presentation that they can report about in the story. They can also report on the crowd reaction and any interesting question and answer sessions. </li> </ul><ul><li> The conference organizer provided the journalist with free access while all other attendees had to pay several hundred dollars to attend. It was always a given that if a reporter was covering the event they would say "during an interview at XYZ conference”. Or, the results of a new research study were revealed during the XYZ conference.” There is no value to the conference organizer if a great article appears based on content gleaned from the conference but without acknowledgment of the organizer.  </li> </ul><ul><li> It makes conference organizers wary of inviting media in the future if they know they will receive no mention of their event in the report.  </li> </ul> I had one of the writers tell me that the attribution was in the story she submitted but that her editor took it out due to space restrictions. If so, shame on the editor - find some other words to cut.   In summary, not mentioning the event in post-conference reporting breaks an unspoken bond between the organizer and journalist that “if you come, we expect you will mention the conference in your coverage.”    I know there are several journalists who read this blog - so please let me know if you don’t agree.
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Good Things Come In All Kinds of Packages

Apr
03
I just returned from the BAA Marketing Conference in Chicago where I heard some outstanding brand marketers talk about innovative and effective ways to activate a brand.  Readers of this blog may recall that a couple weeks ago I attended the ANA Brand Masters Conference in Miami - and they had some great presentations as well.   Of all the impressive content presented and lessons learned, two in particular stand out in my mind.  Several of the speakers talked about how more and more brands are focusing on connecting emotionally with customers.  There were some excellent examples, including the recent <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIEIvi2MuEk">WestJet “Christmas Miracle</a>” program and Coca Cola’s <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0n6SY_R9I9g">World Cup</a> campaign.    It’s not surprising to me that brands are putting a growing emphasis on emotionally connecting with consumers. What did pleasantly surprise me, however, was the special emphasis some brands are placing on packaging as an integral and emotional part of an integrated marketing program.  McDonald’s gave a great presentation on how they are redesigning their french fry boxes to form an emotional bond with consumers during the World Cup. You may have seen their commercials for how people can enter a contest to win tickets to the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qaH_J92PqI">World Cup.</a>   <a href="https://hello-products.com/">Hello Products</a> CEO told the audience how packaging defines the entire brand and forms an emotional connection with <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7mhOwy50tY">consumers</a>.   So, the biggest take-away from these meetings for me is that forming an emotional connection with customers to build loyalty is now the big “thing” with many brands.  And, that packaging needs to play a key role in that process.
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Crisis Communications & the Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight

Mar
19
From a PR perspective, there are two tragedies connected with the missing MH 370.   The first and foremost is, of course, that no one knows the fate of the 239 passengers. However, from a communications perspective, the other tragedy is that Malaysian government and airline officials appear not to have a Crisis Communications Plan in place. Or if they do, it isn’t a very effective plan. Imagine the emotional roller coaster the families of the missing passengers are riding every time a new report comes to light.   As most PR pros know, there are a few very basic rules of an effective Crisis Communications Program:   <ul><li> Always have a spokesperson Chain-of-Command in place so everyone automatically knows who is authorized to speak to the media and in what order. No one else should make any comments to the media and just refer them to the authorized spokesperson. Where many Crisis Communications Plans fail, especially in drawn-out situations like this, is when unauthorized people make statements to the media that may not be accurate. </li> </ul>   <ul><li> When a crisis occurs, only issue a basic statement summarizing the situation until you can gather and verify the facts.  In this case, it would have been “Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 with 239 passengers aboard is missing.  We are in the process of gathering more information and will let you know as we have more facts. ”It is also appropriate to share facts that you know for sure, such as the time it took off, the weather conditions, the last communications from the cockpit and how the passengers and crew are. There should be no speculation as to what may have happened to the plane - leave that to the media and other “experts”. </li> </ul>   <ul><li> Depending on the crisis, always try to meet early on in the crisis with the victims’ families to share what facts you have. You want them to know you care and are trying to resolve the situation.  If the families are not brought in early in the crisis, they can become very vocal detractors of your efforts and credibility.  </li> </ul>   <ul><li> There should be a process in place to check all related facts as quickly and thoroughly as possible and to internally discuss all possible scenarios.  Once you have some solid facts, those can be relayed to the media by the appropriate spokesperson as they are confirmed. For example, the pilot and co-pilot’s homes should have been checked right away and reported to the media that this was being done.  It should have also been reported that “we are in close communications with authorities in the region and as we know the facts, we will share them with you”. </li> </ul>   <ul><li> Reach out to all concerned parties and ask them to keep you appraised of any facts they discover and if possible, share them with you first. Ask them if you can deliver the news and credit them as the source.  In this case, that would mean Malaysia working with the other government officials to deliver the news.  For example, the official Malaysian spokesperson would say “We just talked with Chinese officials and they have satellite evidence that the plane changed course.”  If other governments won’t cooperate, be prepared to respond to the news by either confirming or denying that you just heard it from that source as well. </li> </ul>   There are several other elements and strategies that make up an effective Crisis Communications Program, but getting these basic elements right are the critical first steps.  Of course it is easy for us to second-guess what should have been done after the fact - but the point here is having a good Crisis Communications Plan BEFORE a crisis occurs.   Your crisis probably won’t involve a missing airplane, but there are a number of other crises no one anticipates that occur every day.  A few we have dealt with for our clients include floods, strikes, environmental challenges and suicides.   I hope you have a Crisis Communications Plan in-place, and that you’ll never have to use it.
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Tricking Your Competitors Into Promoting Your Brand

Mar
14
Have you seen the new YouTube video that shows DHL tricking its competitors into delivering huge packages promoting its brand to major metropolitan areas around the world?     It’s truly an innovative and hilarious prank whereby a marketing agency came up with the brilliant idea of using thermo active packaging that is black when frozen but reveals a message as the temperature warms up. The agency shipped several large packages through their DHL competitors to hard-to-find addresses in major cities throughout Europe that had the hidden message “DHL Is Faster”.   As UPS, Fedex, TNT and other delivery services transported the five feet tall packages through busy city intersection and the temperature got warmer, big red letters on the side of the package appeared promoting the DHL brand and its slogan “DHL Is Faster”. What could be sweeter than hundreds of consumers chuckling as a UPS delivery person wrestles a large box promoting their competitor down a busy thoroughfare.     You say that is a lot of money to pay to prank your competition and give a couple hundred people a good chuckle.  That’s true, but like many marketing strategies these days, the idea was surely to cause a buzz on social media.  And it worked!  So far, more than 600,000 people have viewed the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHVWegNfQl0">video</a> and I’m sure many of them have clicked through to the DHL website to send a package.   Although I haven’s seen any official results of the campaign, and DHL claims they had nothing to do with the prank, I’m sure it has gained them several news customers and much greater recognition for being faster than their competitors.   There is another lesson to be learned form this clever idea - and that is how powerful innovative packaging can be in growing a brand. But that is the topic of a future blog.
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