Tag Archives: business-to-consumer

business-to-consumer marketing communication

Best Back To School Campaigns, Part III: Bookstore Alternatives

Part III of our Best of Back to School marketing campaigns of 2010 dives into the changing world of college textbooks.  In recent years, numerous companies have sprung up offering alternatives to the notoriously expensive college bookstore.  This year, I was particularly impressive by two such companies – Coursesmart and Chegg.

Through its sleek, easy-to-use website, Coursesmart offers an ever-growing selection of “e-textbooks” – electronic versions of the traditional print texts that can be read on desktops, laptops, iPads and even iPhones.  Coursesmart’s e-textbooks give the reader the ability to highlight sections, take notes in the margins, print selected pages and cut and paste selections.  Now there is no need to carry around tons of heavy books – you can keep them all on our laptop, read for easy access with just one click.

I was particularly impressed by Coursesmart’s synergy with Apple products.  Being able to access textbooks from an iPhone is the ultimate in transportable texts.  Furthermore, the iPad opens the door to more interactive and impactful textbooks.  (See image above for an example of a Coursesmart text viewed on a iPad.)  The Wall Street Journal discussed the iPad and Coursesmart’s innovative e-texts in a recent article, stating that the new device makes book publishers “eager to exploit its color, video, and touch-screen capabilities.”  I, for one, would love to test drive this exciting new technology.

Of course, this new technology comes with a big price tag.  Coursesmart’s e-textbooks, while less expensive than print versions, can still run in the $100 range.  And then there’s the iPad, priced at $499 – a very pricey item to pile on top of an already expensive back to school season.  Another textbook innovator, Chegg, combines new and old technology to offer a more affordable alternative.

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Best Back To School Campaigns, Part II: Target’s Social Checklist

On Wednesday, I kicked off my series on the best Back to School marketing campaigns of 2010.  I sought out campaigns that are innovative, fun and helpful, both to the shopper and the community at large.  In Part II of the series, I will highlight Target’s innovative and extremely useful “Roomates” Facebook app.

Target is a popular destination for college students stocking up on dorm necessities.  To help ensure these coeds get everything they need, Target has developed an interactive checklist accessible via Facebook.  The checklist has three options (“buy,” “have” and “pass”), and includes links to purchase specific products on Target.com.

The best part about this campaign, however, is the roommates option.  This part of the app allows students to share their list with their roommate(s), helping ensure that one suite will not wind up with four vacuums and only one lamp.  The app also features messaging, calendars, and even a bill splitter – definitely something I wish I had in college.

Once the checklist is complete, students can select the print option and bring the list along on their shopping trip.  The checklist is even available on Target.com in a more traditional PDF format.  All in all, this campaign is a helpful tool for college students, as well as an ingenious way to show off the megastore’s seemingly innumerable product offerings.

Stop by our blog on Monday for the conclusion of this series, in which I discuss two innovative and cost-effective alternatives to the traditional college bookstore.

Social media profiles: A disconnect in the corporate strategy?

switchboardI’ve been wondering lately about the concept of integrated social media strategies for businesses.

There’s no mistaking it but some social media will work better for certain types of businesses and industries than others. Some will excel with the use of videos, and some with the written word. Some will adopt the use of multiple social media— running the gamut of blogs, twitter, linkedin, youtube, and facebook.

So here’s the question which has been plaguing me for a while: Who’s doing it well? I mean, who’s doing a good job tying them all together, cross-linking and integrating them into a full user experience.

I became even more curious yesterday after reading a post, Which Twitter Strategy is Right for You, by Rodger Johnson. The post describes the twitter strategies of  six companies you may have already heard about: JetBlue, Rubbermaid, Dunkin’ Donuts, Dell, Zappos, and Comcast. So, with these key twitter players in mind, I thought I’d do a little experiment, and see whose doing what and how well are they linking all their profiles and web sites together e.g. how would a user know about all the profiles these companies have?

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Social Media Marketing: Showing Your Cards

showing your cardsMaybe it’s because of the time of year. Reminiscent of all the school beginnings, new terms, new school supplies. The times when you had to hunker down and read books on your teacher’s reading list. Or, maybe you’re lucky enough to have friends who recommend books to you. And, of course there’s always the book group phenomenon where people actually get together to talk about books!  What a novel idea.

Over the two years since I’ve been blogging for Impressions through Media, I’ve come across and read many social media marketing books which have been instrumental in helping to explain these new channels and how best to integrate them into your businesses marketing. After all, most of us who have been working in marketing for some time now, have been somewhat mystified by the ways the channels have changed. What were standard ways of promoting your business may now becoming obsolete.  We need to have a way to keep up.  For me, it’s perusing the new titles online and in the aisles of the bookstore. Looking for suggestions from other bloggers, as Chris Brogan and Julien Smith call, “trusted agents” And then, the real clincher, is finding the time to read them.

In the past couple of weeks I have come across three very exciting new titles, which I feel compelled to share with you, all published in 2009 by John Wiley & Sons.

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Blogging for Business: 8 Tips for Writing Blog Posts

publishLet’s begin here, with this question—can blogging for business be taught? Keep in mind, I’m not talking about the software, I’m talking about the nuts and bolts of writing, the 500, plus or minus, word post.

A little earlier today I read, “Show or Tell: Should creative writing be taught?” by Louis Menand, in The New Yorker.  It’s a fascinating piece which references a new book by Mark McGurl, entitled “The Program Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing.” The article discusses the differences in opinion, which have gone on for decades about whether a person can be “taught” to write or “encouraged.”

I’ve had some conversations recently with people who are considering whether or not to start a blog for their company. While I know some are concerned about the time commitment and whether or not there’s a return on investment, I think most of their unease has to do with the fundamental question: Can blogging for business be taught?

I say, “Yes.”  Yes, it can be taught. Yes, it can be learned. It’s a skill which can be cultivated.  Bloggers are purveyors of content. We read and synthesize information, offer our opinions and insights, and present our findings.

8 Tips for Writing Blog Posts:

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Social Media Marketing: Defining Moments

Marketing Sherpa’s 2009 Social Media Marketing and PR Benchmark Guide published last month provides many important insights into the emerging trends in marketing.

Definition of Social Media Marketing

by Marketing Sherpa

“The practice of facilitating a dialogue and sharing content between companies, influencers, prospects and customers, using various online platforms including blogs, professional and social networks, video and photo sharing, wikis, forums and related Web 2.0 technologies.”
[see full definition in Marketing Sherpa's executive summary & report]

Marketing Sherpa explains how communications are changing and offers the tip, “adapt or become extinct.”

The study says that out of eleven marketing budget line items, only social media and emailing to house lists, are tactics which more companies are planning to increase spending on.  Companies indicated they are planning to reduce spending in the other nine tactics which include: paid search, telemarketing, online display advertising, mobile marketing, direct mail, event marketing, radio/tv ads, emailing to rented lists and print advertising.

So, about now your thinking.  Interesting, but why?

Dave Evans, author of Social Media Marketing An Hour a Day, offers an explanation which I think can be applied to this question.  He says that the kinds of people marketers are trying to reach, are finding group-oriented (social) networks as being very effective when it comes to receiving and sharing information, as compared with the largely one-way channels such as television, radio and print.  Evans states, “Online community members are discovering that it is very easy to find, learn about, and share information that directly contributes to an informed choice. It is for this reason that people are moving en masse to the Social Web, and it is for this reason that you should be there, too.”

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Not my mother’s Facebook…or maybe it is.

Woman on computer

Last night my mother told me that she reads our newsletter (nice) and wants to join Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Plaxo.  She is a consummate online communicator and consumer. She uses Freecycle to get and give free stuff, she buys things from QVC, she emails with our relatives in Germany, and she sends her grandchildren interesting pictures and stories via email. She is often sharing a new application or a time saving tip with me and my siblings. Next year her Christmas letter will be digital to save time and postage.

While my father, now 76 years old, has only been on a computer once, and with regretful results (that is a story for another day), my mother has been surfing the net like a pro for many years.  While I think my dad would like to throw a blanket over the computer like he did to my sister’s bird cage to “shut that damn thing up”, my mom was panicked when her computer went in for a repair and required a back up while it was gone.

So today I read a study that indicated that the fastest growing segment using Facebook is women over 55, and I knew that they were talking about. The computer gives those who might otherwise be isolated so many ways to create community and keep in touch.  Ellen DeGeneres has been promoting her Facebook page daily, which has resulted in over 1/2 million people signing up. Her audience, of course, is women of a certain age. We have seen the same effect with the Wellness Community, who had to close their physical doors two weeks ago, but have taken quickly to the Ning community we set up for them, with more than 100 members and growing.

So today I went to my Facebook page to clean up anything that my mother wouldn’t approve of and warn my sisters of my mother’s imminent arrival only to discover that I have nothing to hide from her. I must be getting old.

Brand Loyalty: Truth or Fable

What does it take to be loyal to a brand– a product, service or company? I’ve been thinking about writing this post about a company and product you may have heard of—Apple, and their new MacBook Pro, but initially I was afraid it might sound too–well, evangelical.

I could write about how beautiful the MacBook Pro is, if you also happen to find solid aluminum attractive.  Or the brilliant LED-backlit display.  The smooth glass multi-touch trackpad–not too shabby, either.  Or, how happy I am to have a computer which no longer crashes a few times a day.  These are all fine, and quite GOOD.

My loyalty however, comes from my customer experiences with Apple.  I should make it clear upfront that I’m one of those people who happens to like computers and learning new features, ways to do things, and in this case, a whole new operating system.  (My first Mac since the SE/30!)  Needless to say, I was a great candidate for the One to One personal training programs. A great concept, and well worth it, if you intend to follow through and use them. But that’s only part of it.

You see, what has spoken to me most, is the greeting I receive when I walk through the door of the Apple Store.  The friendliness of the staff, and their excitement and respect for the products they’re demoing for you.  But here’s where Apple really obtained my loyalty–follow-up.  After purchasing the laptop, I received an email within 24 hours thanking me for my purchase.  And, not to hesitate to contact them if I have any difficulty.

Then I went to my first One to One training.  The trainer was great, met me where I was at.  At the end, he made sure I signed up for the next training.  Less then 24 hours later,  I received another email from Apple, “Tell us about your session, we’d appreciate your feedback, let us know.”  The rest is history.  I’m a loyal fan.

Yesterday, while driving, I heard a very interesting interview on National Public Radio, with Martin Lindstrom, the author of Buyology: Truth and Lies About What We Buy.  I wasn’t too surprised when I heard Lindstrom use Apple as an example in his research of a brand which “inspires the same sense of devotion and loyalty in use, as provoked by faith or religion.” (I’ve added Buyology to my reading list–it sounds like a very interesting book.)

So when someone tells you “it’s all about the sale”—beware.  The sale is only a part of the equation.  The rest in my opinion, is how you treat the customer before and after the sale…that’s what makes a brand worthy of loyalty.

Oh, what’s that in my inbox?  Another email from concierge@apple.com reminding me of my next session.  Gotta go—but before I do, I’d love to hear what it takes for you to be loyal to a brand or product?  Or, what about your business or organization, what can they do to elicit devotion and loyalty?

The Social Media Reader

If you’re looking for books to help you stay up-to-date on social media, and on top of the learning curve, we have some suggestions. Below is a list of books which have recently come out in new and revised editions, as well as some new titles of interest.

Revised & Updated Books

The Google Story: For Google’s 10th Birthday
by David Vise
Updated edition (September 23, 2008)

There are some very useful Search Tips at the end of the book, They can also be found online: 23 Google Search Tips

Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything
by Taps Don , Anthony D. Williams
Expanded edition (April 17, 2008)

Long Tail, The, Revised and Updated Edition: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More
by Chris Anderson
Revised edition (July 8, 2008)

New Books

Planet Google: One Company’s Audacious Plan to Organize Everything We know
by Randall Stross
Sep 23, 2008

Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd Is Driving the Future of Business
by Jeff Howe
August 26, 2008

The Myth of Multitasking: “How Doing it All Gets” Nothing Done
Dave Crenshaw
August 18, 2008

What books on Social Media are you reading?  Let us know in the comments section.

Notes from the field: Service Matters

Waiting In LineWe just got back from a week of vacation in Washington DC. I spent a lot of time thinking about (and experiencing) different levels of customer service, from the public transportation, hotel, the museums and restaurants, there was a wide competency range. Can you imagine what it is like to be a service professional who works in a tourist attraction or hotel? Imagine answering the same questions over and over and doing it enthusiastically.

These experiences are all about perspective. When we check into a new hotel, it is happening for the first time and a new experience to us. For the people who work there, our questions can be repetitive and tiresome.

Unfortunately, the first person we talked to at check in had lost her enthusiasm.

Q: Does our hotel room face the street where the construction is going on?

A: Yes, but this is the city, and the garbage truck comes to the back, so you don’t have a choice but to deal with noise.

Q: Thank you for the hot cookies. Do they have nuts in them?

A: (impatiently) I don’t know, but if you are allergic, don’t eat them.

There were plenty of good experiences as well. The Natural History Museum and the National Zoo had excellent volunteers who walked up to us and started to share what they knew about what we were looking at and answering our questions.

I just read Seth Godin’s post Pretending that you care about the service he experienced in New York City and how he imagined it could have been better.

How do you handle common questions from your customers, employees, and vendors? Are you impatient?

The other option is to do what the security guard at the National Archives did: add humor and understanding. He spent his day entertaining the masses while he herded us through an hour of waiting in line. We learned where to stand, how best to see what we wanted to see, and laughed through it all.

Through our professional interactions, remember that we are just as human on weekdays as we are on the weekend, and we can all use a laugh just about any time.