Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Where Should You Spend Your Marketing Dollars?

Check out this recent issue of COUNSELOR magazine, the trade for the promotional products industry. Journalist C.J. Mittica interviewed Lucky 13's Lilly Ghahremani in this article about marketing budgets and marketing decisions.

The Advertising Specialty Institute, which publishes COUNSELOR wanted to know what businesses should invest in - and common mistakes they make. I discussed the common error of investing in a website without having a strongly branded marketing piece or a website strategy for how you will convert online visitors into business for you.

Read the article below and stay tuned to our blog for much more discussion of website strategy and marketing tactics that lead to bigger business!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What Your Small Business Can Learn From Yahoo's Acquisitions

The most popular acquisitions of our generation include Google acquiring YouTube back in 2006 and Facebook buying Instagram in 2012. However Marissa Mayer, Yahoo’s CEO since 2012, has gone on quite the spending spree with several acquisitions intended to breathe new life into the company. In fact, Yahoo has engaged in about thirty acquisitions since Mayer jumped on board. This comes as a surprise to many as Yahoo has a history of failed acquisitions, Flickr being the most known. We’ll examine a few companies now under Yahoo’s wing and what small businesses just like yours can learn from the acquisitions.

   Lesson 1: The Value of Credibility- and How to Build It
     Case Study: Tumblr: Acquired by Yahoo in May 2013

One of the more well-known from the list of acquisitions, Yahoo bought Tumblr for $1.1 billion. A website based on a microblogging platform, it launched in 2007 and gained around 75,000 users in its first two weeks. After successful funding from investors, in 2012 they began running paid advertising, resulting in $13 million in revenue. What is unique about this acquisition is Tumblr is operating as an independent separate business run by the current CEO David Karp. Yahoo is letting Tumblr be Tumblr and helping them gain revenue with their advertising resources.

Tumblr’s success in its first ten years is mostly due to its wide user base and increasing social network environment—especially in the mobile app market. Yahoo, on the other hand, is one of the original big internet companies lacking in social-network capabilities. You do the math. Social media companies are hot in the market for big technology companies like Yahoo looking to gain an edge on competitors (i.e. Google).

Tumblr established credibility by being home to the creation of the “We are the 99%” slogan in a blog created on the website. Tumblr’s list of popular blog posts will help Yahoo’s massive research engine data determine what is trending news—a service Yahoo didn’t know they would need.

A small business that can stand on its own but can open important new doors for someone else has immense value. Tips for small businesses looking to get noticed would be to keep your website up-to-date with a featured success story, post testimonials from happy clients, or ask users to write a review on Yelp. Credibility creates reliability and reliability will give your business consistent results and growth.

1   Lesson 2: The Importance of Having a Vision and Great Messaging
     Case Study: Aviate - Acquired by Yahoo in January 2014

Yahoo’s first acquisition of the New Year was Aviate, an intelligent homescreen service for Android smartphones that simplifies how users view their apps in a personalized way. Launched in beta October 2013, Aviate was welcomed with positive reviews and a promising future. That future involved being acquired by Yahoo to play a key role in the company’s Android products.

The official acquiring price was never confirmed (rumored at $80 million), but Aviate will prove to be a very useful asset for Yahoo at whatever price. Google acquired Android back in 2005 and has seen massive growth since then. Yahoo acquired this service, giving them the opportunity to vastly improve the capabilities of a smartphone and essentially make it, well, smarter. This may give them a competitive edge over Google—which is known for creating innovations that make the lives of its users simpler.

What helped Aviate capture Yahoo’s attention is its similar vision. Aviate is about “simplifying and streamlining user’s daily habits through intelligent products,” and Yahoo is founded on that same principle, with multiple applications including: Yahoo Mail, Messenger, News, and Finance (thenextweb.com). Converting what Yahoo already has to a smartphone marketplace is exactly what Yahoo needs to grow even further. Sharing a common goal can go a long way in attracting the right people for small businesses.
If your business has a vision, a mission statement, or even a sales message, share it, make it known to your users and help them understand what your company is all about and win more customers. A statement with a sentence or two is the usual model but go ahead and word it in a way that even a twelve-year old would understand. The simpler the better. Here are examples on how to use this model to improve a sales message (inc.com):
Before: "We provide a collaborative environment where multiple teams can move sales documents through a workload chain."
After: "[We] take half as much time to get a sales proposal written and approved."
Before: "Our sales enablement platform represents customer environments and decision
makers through an easy-to-use, point-and-click GUI."
After: "You've got a map showing who's important at the customer site, who they work
for, why they're involved in making decisions, and how to get them on board."
By simplifying your message, you’ll make it easier for others who share your vision to react to what you’re saying and engage with you.

1   Lesson 3: Creating Popularity With Exclusivity
     Case Study: Vizify - Acquired by Yahoo in March 2014

This deal for Yahoo was in the works for a while and again shows Mayer is acquiring the tools that could take Yahoo to a completely new direction. Vizify focused on visualizing data in a fun new way. It turns your social media data into infographics, videos, and other features. Founded in June 2012, the website launched a little over a year later as an invite-only service, gaining a lot of initial press. They were the subject of even more hype after partnering with Twitter at end of 2012. Though there are no specifics yet on how Vizify’s visual data will be incorporated into Yahoo, they are sure to bring a more ‘visual approach’ to the company (vizify.com).

Like Aviate’s conversations with Yahoo, Vizify shared approval with Yahoo’s views on improving user experience by visualizing information—an innovative way to see the information we post daily on social media. The growing popularity of infographics to convey information online and on social networks like Pinterest and Twitter will only grow even more with the millions of Yahoo users.
It’s well worth noting one of Vizify’s strategies that may have contributed to its success. Similar to many successful startups and businesses online including Pinterest and Spotify, Vizify began as an invite-only website and users were invited to contact the founders of the company directly with feedback, ideas, or requests for updates or changes. An invite-only launch for an online service sends a vibe of exclusivity (just as it does for a physical location).  If that launch experience is successful and receives positive feedback, it will only make others want to join the party even more. Getting this kind of buzz is a big way to get you noticed.

What can small business and startups do to incorporate this strategy for success? Consider creating a private event at your business (whether online or on-site) and only invite a select group of people (and offer to let them bring a plus one). For example, invite those who live within a certain mile radius from the store, those that have clicked on your ads online, or who followed you on twitter to come in and be taste testers for your latest cupcake flavors. Before they leave, invite them to join your mailing list and offer them a voucher to come back.

Whether your company is looking to grow or just get some new faces through the door, taking a minute to learn from what these startups did to get noticed can help your small business in a big way. Sometimes the smallest of changes to a message can instantly double your sales and a quick marketing campaign like an intimate private event can do the trick.



Thursday, June 26, 2014

Social Media Report: 5 #Hashtags of World Cup 2014

Though radio and television will receive their usual revenue boost during this summer’s FIFA World Cup, with 74.2% of WC viewers watching the games while on Twitter and Facebook, the real winner of World Cup advertising is social media. Since the WC began new promotional hashtags have been used on Twitter, advertised in stadiums, and appear television commercials. Here is the story behind some of the most popular ones.

Seen since the opening game, this hashtag expands into new territory for Twitter. Along with Mc Donald’s, Twitter is attempting to trend their first globally promoted hashtag with #fryfutbol. This hashtag attracts viewers to download the app by McDonald’s for any smartphone. The app has several games WC viewers can play—one of which utilizes the boxes french fries come in when you by food at McD’s. Many Twitter users are raving about the trend and the mobile app. This collaborative work not only brings more Twitter traffic onto the website, but also makes WC fans buy McDonald’s food so they can play the games on the fun app—a great marketing tactic for both companies.

Want to see how the app works? Here’s the link to the video made by McDonald’s: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttUb0bIecao

Twitter is bringing back “hashflags” for the duration of World Cup 2014. Everyone on Twitter loves the flags including celebrities like Shakira and Jimmy Fallon. Tweet “#USA” and in your post the USA flag will appear. For those with World Cup fever, fans are able to cheer on and support their favorite teams by tweeting the three letters representing their country and the corresponding flag will generate when you post the tweet. Along with supporting USA, I will be cheering for the motherland Mexico while my boss Lilly is tweeting for her beloved Iran.

One of the more clever hashtags this summer, Hyundai the car company created this trend and also promotes it with a website. “becausefútbol” is meant to be tweeted as an answer to a hypothetical question of Why? Why all this madness? Why do we all go crazy cheering for our countries? Hyundai’s answer is #becausefútbol. Using “fútbol” is a great way to reach WC fans on a global scale, especially since its location is in South America where more than half the countries are Spanish speaking countries. Hyundai went the extra mile by creating a website http://becausefutbol.com/ to see how Hyundai’s “drive for passion” drives World Cup fans around the world. The website displays different photos and videos where the answer to everything is “because fútbol”. This funny video is our favorite—here’s the link to see it yourself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_GC37gwJtI

#allin (or nothing):
This hashtag sponsored by Adidas is the company’s biggest launch campaign ever spent on social media. The social media used for this campaign is Twitter where WC fans and Adidas users can choose to join Adidas and FIFA World Cup communications via Twitter and be connected with everything Adidas has to offer. They use a television ad on YouTube with soccer stars Messi (Argentina), Alves (Spain), Suárez (Uruguay), and Schweinsteiger (Germany). At the end of the video Adidas asks viewers to make a choice, all in or nothing? Clicking “all in” directly takes you to Adidas’ home page for the World Cup and asks if viewers would like to get connected with Adidas and FIFA via Twitter. Agreeing to join allows Twitter users to have access to everything World Cup related as well as receive exclusive tweets from Adidas. The same shows up at the end of another ad with David Beckham and Zinedine Zidane. With over 50% of WC viewers using Twitter to support brands they like and sharing ads, Adidas is sure to create a lot of buzz. Watch the videos below and make your choice, all in or nothing?

Listerine pulled out all the stops for their first World Cup sponsorship. Using Facebook and Twitter mostly, the trend “power to your mouth” is meant to idolize the amount of social talk that occurs during the soccer matches. Listerine created their first global Twitter account for this endeavor. The Twitter page is filled with tweets and photos of fans screaming for their teams. Though some critics say the hashtag is the worst the World Cup has ever seen, I applaud them for using clever phrases. For the U.S. vs. Ghana game, Listerine came out with a post with the phrase “Ghana get even” (read ‘gonna get even’) and when Messi made a goal in the additional minute against Iran on Saturday, Listerine posted “Buenos Awesome!” (a take on the city Buenos Aires). Their television advertisement also gets the message across of the “power” of using Listerine. Only the duration of WC will tell if Listerine’s sponsorship will pay off.

Entering week three of the World Cup, it should be full of surprises and upsets surely to make for an opportunity to read some entertaining tweets. With big names like Spain, England, and Italy out of the picture and heavy favorites Germany and Brasil still showing promise to making it all the way—and best not forget the surprising performances by Chile and México stirring the pot—Twitter will be the social hub to receive live updates. Hashtag away!
                                                                                                                                          -Alaciel Torres

Alaciel Torres is Lucky 13’s summer intern 2014. She is a rising Junior at the University of Notre Dame majoring in Marketing in the Mendoza College of Business. Other than enjoying watching the World Cup with her boss, she loves to play tennis, sing, and relax on the beach. Mexican food is her go-to favorite food. She is looking forward to working with Lucky 13 this summer to gain some marketing experience she can take back to Notre Dame when she returns in the fall.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

How Do You Choose The Right New Business Logo?

One of the biggest things challenges for many businesses I work with is honing in on the right logo. Particularly if it's a new business, they often feel pressure to get it absolutely right on the first try. That's an interesting challenge to undertake, seeing as some of the world's biggest brands have evolved their logos over time.

The best logo work is not done by a designer alone. I cannot emphasize this enough. A designer's specialty is in conceptualizing how to convey your brand. If you do not know what your brand is, they can only do so much for you. The selection of font, color choice, and any iconography (just to name a few) are heavily influenced by the message you are trying to send to the world about what you do. If you are unable to convey this to your designer, it's quite difficult for them to create the logo that will appeal to you on sight. (Unless your designer is psychic; always a possibility.)

To create your best business logo, tell your branding/design team:

1) Logos that appeal to you. Have at least 4-5 logos that appeal to you and be able to explain what it is that specifically impresses you. Beware the common trap of selecting logos of multigazillion dollar companies like Nike, which have also had the benefit of billions of dollars to nudge that logo into our minds. Be able to separate the logo as a logo from the logo as a symbol of that company's success. Now tell the designer why it works for you.

2) The feeling you're trying to inspire. How do you want your customers or clients to feel about your business? Is this a relationship about excitement? Is it about comfort? Is it about security? This will help you choose your color palette, or at least eliminate colors that work against your goals.

3) How complex or simple you want your logo to be. Some businesses know off the bat that they want a text-only logo but forget to mention that to the designer. Don't be some businesses.

4) How creative you are willing to get. Logo design is an art, and the talented people creating logos all day every day have ideas that you may or may not be open to hearing. Have a sense of how openminded you are willing to be with what they can present to you.

5) How you will be using your logo. Is it just going on business cards and a website? Will it be a decal on company vans? Will it be on employee apparel? On conference banners? By telling your designer how the logo may be used, they can create a logo that will apply in that range of situations.

These are just a few starting questions that an experienced designer is likely to ask you. Remember, the goal isn't to have a logo that represents your company - it's to have a logo that represents your brand. Get comfortable with the fact that your logo will likely evolve over time. In fact, some of the world's biggest brands have gone through various versions of their instantly recognized logos. Enjoy this article for some inspiration to see how even the biggest stay open to change. By knowing where your brand is today, you will be able to get the right business logo for your current needs, and you'll be off and running.

Would you like some guidance or do you need assistance to create the right branding or logo for your company? Contact us and let's talk about it!