Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Focus on Authentic Brand Messaging and the Sales will Come

I attended Kicker’s Calgary Video Summit, #YYCVideo, this morning.  It was an impressive line up of video communicators from Cenovus, Westjet, Google and Woodruff Sweitzer, and the excellent @Pastayoyo.  I get video, if a picture tells a thousand words, then how many words can a video tell?  When was the last time a brochure made you cry?  If the most important level of communication is engagement then video has to be part of your messaging.  Before you ask, I am planning to put some video on my website,, in the near future, I know I need to eat my own dog food.

If you recall last Christmas Westjet did a wonderful second annual Holiday video where they got people to talk to a video of a Santa and share what was on their Christmas list, when they landed in Calgary, four hours later, the gifts arrived through the luggage chutes.  If for any reason you are not part of the 36,000,000 people who have seen the video on line, then have a look 

What I discovered this morning is that this video’s main objective was not to increase sales, but to live the brand.  Fundamental to the Westjet brand is the role of the employees and that they care, they are real people, and they also like to have fun.

The five minute long video has created an emotional connection with a huge potential customer base and this is the most powerful way to build a brand.  The most powerful message I heard this morning was that during this time, year on year Westjet web traffic increased by 100% and sales increased by 77%.  If you needed any more proof that building your brand can increase sales, here it is.  And by focusing on the brand you are being authentic.  It aligns with focusing on the people and planet and the profits will come.

And it is April Fool’s day in a couple of weeks, what will Westjet do this year?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Canada win the Olympic Hockey Golds and Tim Hortons has a brand fail

Once you have defined your brand the next stage is ensuring you live it through your corporate culture and your external interactions with customers and stakeholders.  Consistency is key, through all channels.

When the core of your brand is Canadian pride, an event such as the gold medal game at the Olympics, for Canada’s game, hockey is a great opportunity.  Unfortunately it was an opportunity that Tim Horton’s spectacularly missed on Twitter this morning; no pictures of Canada shirt wearing employees or customers, no comparison of meatballs, pickled herring and a breakfast sandwich or Canadian Maple doughnut.

If you are not active on Twitter during this time, you are conspicuous by your near absence and lack of planning.  It wasn’t as if they didn’t know that Canada was involved in an important hockey game. And a couple of small tweets immersed in responding to client complaints not only seems like a missed opportunity but inconsistent with your brand and your position as Canada’s coffee, especially when you have aggressive competitors such as McCafe.

What should Tim Horton’s have done?
On Twitter you should follow the golden rule, four gives, one sell and one retweet. Tim Hortons could have developed a plan with some research to prepare some strong gives, and ones that might even have some sales benefits, such as link to a map of 24 hours Tim’s.  For people staying at home one can promote the single serve, designed for early morning hockey games.  The opportunity to retweet was a gift, the double double, two gold medals, men’s and ladies’ hockey gold, jumps out.

Who did a good job?
Well I’ll point you to Buzz Bishop’s blog with the Canadian Tire and IKEA exchange.  Both companies capitalised on the event, and aligned their brands with their countries of origin, and very respectfully.  I particularly liked the IKEA comment, we are from Sweden, but live in Canada, #winwin.  There was obviously some good planning, they had put experienced and trusted community managers on to cover social media and empowered them to tweet real time, relevant and engaging tweets, well done.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Twitter supports #abflood communications and finally excites execs

A few weeks ago I tweeted about the acknowledgement in the boardroom that Twitter could be useful.  When Twitter was used to bark out information, the food on your plate, the latest service launch or attendance at an event, the board were at best pleased that the company were using the latest medium.  While working for a large utility I supported the development of their overall social media protocol and channel specific social media strategy.  Our aim was to develop a dialogue, even if it was FU, we had a plan to respond and engage; but even that didn't peak the interest of the exec.  What has finally stirred business leaders to get truly excited is the role twitter can play to develop and maintain your corporate reputation.  Twitter should be part of the picture that builds you reputation, consistent with what your customer's experience and true to your Mission, Vision and Values. The speed and way you respond to an incident is core to how you are perceived. Finally, the exec are seeing the value of being active on Twitter.

So what makes this a topic for today?  Well for anyone in Calgary or Southern Alberta there has been a thirst for information about the floods over the past few days, #abflood or #yycflood.  I have found Twitter as ever a good source of up to date information, but supported by a media savvy Mayor the information has been accurate and timely.  Not so Alberta Health Services, who panicked water buying by saying there was a boil water advisory, without stating where the advisory covered.  It took other agencies to correct the information, on Twitter of course.  The messaging on Twitter has been very respectful, with requests not to retweet old information and directing people to further information via links to webpages.  Overall this has been a text book use of social media, and the napfornenshi hashtag has provided humour at a serious time.

What about businesses?  Well this is where the quality of communication has been very variable, from we're closed, to we need assistance, to we have this service to help you.  Is this really the time to be selling?  Is this really building your corporate reputation?  Especially in Calgary, a city committed to volunteering, where paying it forward is commonly practiced, why would you sell your services at this time?  Offering your services for free, such as the food trucks have done, or using your location to communicate the latest developments in your neighbourhood is far more valuable to you in long run, and at this time, is also the right thing to do.

If your business has been affected by the flood and you need help to get the correct message out, I can help you, at no charge.

If your business needs a social medial strategy or a review of your current strategy, please contact me.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Bennett Milner Williams offers strategic marketing consulting from Calgary.

The Chartered Institute of Marketing's definition states that "marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably." Let me help you ground your communications in sound marketing strategy so that you will achieve your business goals.

Areas of expertise include - Market Analysis - Competitor Analysis - Customer Requirements - Product and pricing strategies - Marketing plan development - Customer Insight - Market Segmentation - Brand marketing strategy

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Is Marketing Dead?

Just as I predicted micropayments are going to revolutionise online content, what I didn’t predict was the politics that would occur. Amazon and PayPal are seeing the possibilities and trying to take their share, with 5c and 5% for each transaction. Interestingly the content providers rather than embracing micropayments they prefer to continue to provide content for free rather than set a precedent. TinyPass and its link to the Huffington Post may shake things up. Let’s see how this plays out.

One question I’d like to throw out is quite controversial for a marketer, “is marketing dead?” The reason that it has been suggested that marketing is dead is because of the growing role of word of mouth. WOM has always been key, I am sure you have spoken to friends and family when looking to make a big decision or to try a new product, or told someone about a great experience. Small business owners rely on their peers; in fact this is their main source of information in buying. With social media, WOM isn’t just over a beer or at a family function, but anytime, day or night. Just as people will be vocal about bad service or a bad product, nowadays it is easy to be positive; that great meal out, a bank that is open when you didn’t think it would be. Of course all your friends and followers tend to trust your opinion more than that the anonymous advertising.

I am not saying advertising is dead, name recognition moving to brand recognition and all the associated attributes will shorten the sales cycle and add even greater believability to WOM. So the new marketing has to focus on the whole end to end experience, not just the product and service and create an environment where WOM is supported. So I don’t think Marketing is dead just evolving and having a greater role in shaping the operational side of the business.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Update on Newspaper Pay Walls

Golly it has been a while since my last post, sorry guys, moved from the world of consulting to a real job and rather taken my mind off the normal things of life, like blogging. But that has bought some time for paywalls to get a grip and now I can comment on the success or otherwise of them.

And success it appears to be for The Times, with envious results, the paper has 105,000 paying digital-only subscribers, as well as a further 100,000 joint print and digital subscriptions.

Around 50,000 of the digital-only subscribers are monthly and include subscribers to the website, iPad app and Kindle edition. The rest are either single copy or pay-as-you go customers. Last week's Neilsen figures showed that the number of unique visitors declined 42.6% from Q2 to Q3. So why do I still think is success? Because they still managed to keep 51.8% and got them to pay. Not only that they now have a relationship with the subscribers they now have incredibly valuable data on the subscribers and their reading habits; great consumer understanding and the consumers are paying News International to give the newspaper the data.

The Times is backed by a large enough organisation that this trial could take place with lower risk than some smaller publications. It also has another huge benefit that helped them be successful, quality journalism.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

News at the right price?

People have got used to getting their news on-line and free. The trends for printed news are pretty dire, in our world of immediacy even the daily paper is out of date by the time it arrives. The role of newspapers is more to make sure you haven’t missed anything and to put the news into context, plus of course the classic sections such as the film guides and sport which are designed for spreading over the bed and reading on a lazy Sunday morning whilst you sprinkle the sections with a light smattering of croissant crumbs.

On-line news access, whether it be the BBC Global news podcast twice a day or access to on-line news sites give people the news they are looking for, updated regularly, with an easy method to search. There is a trend for people to move to their hard copy trusted source onto the online version, whether that be The Economist or The Wall Street Journal, we trust the hard copy, now give it to us in a more rapidly updated and also more searchable format on the web.

But are we starting to see a change in getting online news access free. The decline in newspaper sales has hit these organisations hard, not just in sales but also in ad revenue as their circulations declined. Bringing websites on board was a way of increasing the readership and building the brand image so that the circulation would increase. In hindsight there is the potential to generate on-line advertising revenue and to better understand your readers reading habits but there is also the potential for cannibalisation of your core product.

Today marks the launch of the paid version of The Times online, The Wall Street Journal is already there, as is the Financial Times. For £1 or $1.50 you can get a day’s access, and £2 or $3 for a week’s access to The Times. There are really three ways this could go. Firstly it could remain a niche product, only aimed at a small demographic willing and able to pay for access. Alternatively with the arrival of the iPad will the online versions of the papers allow for extreme personalisation, the classic start with the sports at the back of the paper. If readers can access the news that is most relevant to them, as defined by their preferences and access it on the go, via an iPad for example, then this may provide enough value for people to pay for access. The final option is micropayments, do you really want access to all articles or just the ones on topics that interest you? Would you be prepared to pay a few pence or cents to access the article, I think most would say yes. The issue then is, how does one take payment and not make the process more costly than the revenue generated. Perhaps this is something that Paypal or iTunes should be looking at?