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Category Archives: Marketing


In marketing, something you often hear is “How can I drive people to my brand.” As someone who knows a thing or two about communications, the obvious answer is “We wish it were THAT easy.”

I just got done reading an Ebook titled “Communications and Behavior Change” written by Mark Lund, CEO of Government Communications Network. It covers the factors associated with changes of behavior and outlines ways in which these factors can be manipulated. It got me thinking about a recent quote I read from marketing guru Jack Trout that states, “If your assignment is to change people’s minds, don’t take it.”

Let’s take a deeper look.

At the most basic level, we can look at behavior in the form of the AIDA model. This model states that providing information will spark interest that will in turn lead to an action or a change in behavior. This does make sense, however, rarely is information enough to change a behavior (smoking, tanning, drinking).

Attitudes, or personal feelings towards a person, place, or thing have always been linked to behaviors, but the link is not as strong now. For example, just cause you don’t like a certain bar doesn’t mean you won’t go if your friends are all going. Just because you don’t like Apple doesn’t mean you won’t get an iPod. However, just like with providing information, changing an attitude is often not enough to change a behavior.

Cognitive dissonance comes when a person holds two inconsistent views. For example, a smoker knows that they could get cancer and live a shorter life, but more often than not they say “I know someone who lived till they were 100” or “smoking keeps me skinny” as factors that justify their behaviors. People often do this when making consumer decisions as well. “I don’t really like going to that bar but it’s close” or “I don’t want to see that movie but it is getting good reviews.” The key for communications specialists is to find a way to take out the dissonance, and motivate behavior towards what they really want to do, despite the relative information.

Habit and routine are also leading factors in behavior. If you’re used to doing something, most likely you’ll continue doing it. Something new might not be so easy. For example, if you often leave the TV on all night, it would be hard for me to convince you to turn it off every night. If you love eating Red Meat, it would be hard for me to convince you to become a vegetarian.

Breaking these habits often requires an emotional stir-up at the point of use. For example, to get you stop eating meat I would need to hang a picture of a bloody pig in front of your refrigerator. To get you to quit smoking I would need to put a picture of your Grandpa who died of cancer on your car’s dashboard.

Emotions play a huge part in behavior changes. I suppose this is one of my personal favorites. A lot of the times, communication tries to play on emotions a little too much. For example, I just saw a Christmas campaign for Kay Jewelers that focuses on a deaf woman and her boyfriend signing to one another – too emotional. The dog commercials with the sad music – way too emotional. The thing is, they work.

Mental shortcuts are also a common factor of behavior. These refer to instances where you make decisions based on events you can immediately recall. For example, most people are more scared of flying than driving because you can immediately recall a horrible plane crash. You’re more likely to buy a lottery ticket when the prize is the highest because it is easier to visualize what you could do with the largest amount of money. Communications needs to allow people to visualize everything on an equal playing field.

Social norms play a huge role in the decision making process. For example, imagine you’re at a party. Typically you’re not the first one to eat whatever food is laying out, but once someone else gives it a try, it’s fair game for everyone to join in. Basic idea, but how can communications agencies send a message of “acceptable behavior” to encourage action? It requires a call to action to companies to be an opinion leader. Drive a message home and send it through respective mediums to gain followers. If you can make a destination the “place to be,” people will come.

Environmental factors are another player in the communications game. For example, someone may want to use public transportation but if there aren’t any bus stations around, they’ll have to use a car. Same goes with any business. People might want to go hear live music at your bar, but if they don’t know it exists, where it’s located, or who’s playing, they’re going to choose another option.

What it all comes down to is communications 2.0. It’s no longer about just throwing a message out, it’s about understanding the message, its audience, and their underlying reasons for behavior. Truthfully, I’m still trying understanding all this myself, but i’m excited about the possibilities.

In the world of communications, being an early adopter is key. What’s even better than an early adopter? An innovator. I look forward to seeing you on the other side.

The economy is in the dumps.  It’s official.   I recently read an article from a recruiter who posted a job on Craigslist and received over 200 emails within a few hours.  For the past few months, I’ve been one of those emails.  I’ve been part of the lucky few to actually get a few interviews here and there.  The problem?  The competition is so stiff out there that it’s almost ridiculous.  There’s no more chances, optimism, or hand-holding; you either fit the bill perfectly or you’re not getting hired.  Simple as that.

Rather than sit around and keep waiting to find the next posting on Craiglist or Monster like the thousands of others out there, I’ve decided to take  a stab at a new, more productive approach to the down & out economy:  consulting.

A lot of people were confused by my Thanksgiving post.  What is he doing at Upper End Properties?  What is his business?  What’s going on?  For those of you wondering, I’ll give you a brief update.

In October I was given my first “consulting” job as the marketing specialist for Upper End Properties, a brand new real estate company in Clayton between Brentwood and Hanley.  What am I doing?  I’m leading strategy behind digital and online marketing.   What does this consist of?  I’m giving the company a brand presence on Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, Google, and WordPress.  I’m producing content, socializing, interacting, and doing my best to increase brand awareness and generate sales leads by using cost-effective methods that reach a direct target audience.

A lot of people laugh about this whole idea of social media marketing.  It’s not a full-time job, it’s not the end-all of marketing, and it isn’t the most effective medium to get results or a return on investment, but it’s free, it’s powerful, and it is revolutionizing the way people interact with brands.  Sure, most people can’t make a living tweeting for a brand, but imagine tweeting for 5 brands.  Imagine building a Facebook presence  for five small companies.  The future of business may not be digital, but it will be social, and if I can lead businesses in the right direction with low-cost solutions, this fad may just turn into a full-time opportunity.

This leads to to where I’m at now – in the business of consulting.  Without giving too many details out prematurely, I will say that there are some very exciting opportunities on the table.  With the new year will come some new information regarding this business and I look forward to filling you all in.

I’ve been experimenting a lot lately with new marketing tactics.  Little things that I think can be extremely effective at little or no cost to an individual, a brand, or a company.  For example, tonight I was at Pomme Wine Bar in Clayton with a few friends.  On my way out, I placed two business cards on the table, and strategically dropped one on the floor on the way out.  I mean, truthfully, the two on the table probably got picked up by the hostess and thrown away, and the other probably got swept up into the trash, but I can’t help but think about the possibilities.

Imagine the hostess being the daughter of a couple who was looking to buy or sell a house.  She’d see the card, mention it to them, and there’s a sale.  Imagine the young couple sitting next to us was in the market for a condo and they saw the card on the floor as they were leaving the bar.  By the end of the night, I got 800,000 worth of sales possibilities just from dropping a few cards.  Total cost of the marketing on my end: about 10 cents.

The problem we often face in marketing is lack of participation by the audience.  We can deliver some great messages through some very effective mediums, but if the audience isn’t “getting” the message and exploring it on their own, then nothing has really been accomplished.

I’m a marketing guy.  I live for it.  I dive deep into brands, interact, entertain, and engage in almost anyway way I can.  The problem lies in the fact that most people aren’t as fond as I.  For example, being with a real estate company right now, I could go out to a parking lot and hit 100 cars with a flyer that said “TheBestHousesEver.com” that linked directly to our listings.  If I got this flyer, I’d go to the site, but 99% of other people probably wouldn’t.

I think what I’m getting at is the idea of guerilla marketing.  Giving people the chance to receive a message, but relying on them to put in some work.  Is this type of messaging effective?  Would you pick up my business card?  Would you go to the website?  I’m interested in how far people will go into the unknowns of advertising.  I know the road I travel, but I think most audiences take a slightly different path.

dark_storm_fixed

Last Friday, I had one of the most pleasant conversations with a stranger I’ve ever had.  That’s the beauty of the Internet I guess.  Most of the time I’m a listener, but in this case, out of pure instinct, I entered into the conversations.  What follows is a conversation I had with Bob Bishop, a St. Louis job recruiter.  He’s got a very insightful blog that I’d recommend checking out.  I’ll start things off with his original post which I was immediately drawn to.

Are Employers “Paralyzed By Perfection” in the Hiring Process

This week I’ve started wondering if employers are literally unable to hire because of a need for “perfection” in candidates.  Some of the interviewing processes seem so complex with so many interviews, sometimes stretching out over weeks and including multiple senior executives, I don’t see how they actually can get anyone hired.  It’s like approval by committee, it never works!  There’s such a fear of hiring the wrong person, that the company is completely paralyzed by the search for (their perception of) perfection.  They end up not hiring anybody . . . imagine what that costs!

As an example, a candidate I’m working with sent me the following email.”Wanted to also let you know that I’ve made it to the fourth round of the interview process with a private company in St. Louis… a Director of Marketing position. After my resume made the cut, I’ve had three different telephone interviews (HR Director, interim Marketing Director and VP of Marketing). Got the call yesterday for a personal interview.  As far as I can tell, they’re down to 4-6 candidates so I’ve got my fingers crossed. If I can pass this phase, I think there’s one more round of interviews with the President for the last 2-3.

“It was about three days later, I received this note from the same candidate,  “So I made it through seven face-to-face interviews and five phone interviews in five different ‘phases’ with the same company, only to learn last week that they have renewed their search and still haven’t found “the right candidate.”  Said they’d received over 300 resumes.  Hard to believe they couldn’t find ONE candidate they believed could do the job. Oh well, live and learn.”  A total of 12 interviews before this company decided this isn’t the right candidate?  Wow!  How could it possibly have taken that long to make a “No” decision?  What was everyone talking about for all that time?   Imagine the time and expense in that many interviews with “4-6″ candidates?  Does that company have any idea what they’re looking for? I think not.

The same thought of “paralysis through perfection” comes to mind when I hear horror stories about putting candidates through “Personality Profile or Assessment Testing”.  You know, the kind of test that’s generally taken online (pr sometimes in person) by the candidate?  There are loads of them out there . . . Caliper, Wonderlick, DISC, Kolbe, Myers-Briggs.  Some companies have the candidate complete more than one!  In many cases the current employees of the hiring company haven’t even taken the tests, so there’s no benchmark for performance in their own culture.  It’s a very good idea for those involved in the hiring process to take the same test they’re asking candidates to take . . . or why bother?

Testing seems like just one more level of “CYA” on the part of the hiring authorities . . . one more hurdle in the search for candidate/employee perfection.  I understand how some in occupations, testing is a good idea . . . airline pilots jump to mind, but I’m skeptical about it’s value in many, many other functional roles.

Thoughts?  Have an interview or job search horror story to share?

I responded with this…

Bob,
It’s amazing how close this post comes to describing my personal feelings about the hiring process. I can see the potential for a more in-depth process at the senior level, but I’m a recent graduate applying for entry level positions, and I’m finding that the barriers to entry are almost outrageous. On one hand, I see the dilemma. For every one position out there, there’s essentially seven or eight individuals ready to snag it up. My complaint comes not only from a horror story related to a recent interview, but the fact that most of the time, individuals like myself can’t even get a chance to take part in the interview process before getting rejected on terms of “not meeting the qualifications.”

Obviously, all companies will remain anonymous here, but there’s multiple worth talking about. As a recent graduate looking at entry level positions/internships, the requirements usually involve traits such as “someone organized, a passion for industry, a great communicator, a writer, and someone who is fluent in social media.” For starters, I find it hard to believe that a resume can accurately describe how organized you are, how great of a communicator you are, and how passionate you are about the industry. For someone who has marketing experience through an internship (albeit through College, not an agency), real world experience marketing at a St. Louis company, a social media web presence (blog, twitter, facebook, linkedin), and a affiliation with some relative St. Louis networks, it becomes a little disappointing to continually “not meet qualifications” before a face to face connection (or even phone to phone) is established.

About two months ago, I finally got the chance to show, face to face, what I was all about. The company had seen my website, followed me on Twitter, and saw me for more than just a resume. It started with a phone interview, nothing serious. Two weeks later, I arrived at the company for a six-hour interview. I actually didn’t mind the length of the interview. Meeting with seven individuals gave me the chance to get the jitters out with the first two, and get more and more familiar with what the company was about. After the interview, I was told it would be about a week or two until I heard back. I sent the traditional Thank You notes and looked forward to hearing back. I figured, surely they wouldn’t have spent the whole day with me if they weren’t serious about me. Two and a half weeks later I was contacted to do a project. I was shocked because originally I was never told anything about this. I didn’t care, but I was confused because I was told to do a writing assignment, when, during the interview, all we did was talk about my blog and all of the recent articles that I had written. I was told to take a brand that I like and create a campaign using traditional and unconventional media. This was my chance to shine! I put on a great show for the company. Thought I’d hear back. Two weeks went by – nothing. I called them to ask where they were at in their decision. I got no answer. To this day, I have never heard one thing back.

I’m by no means a self-righteous person. I know I’m not the most qualified candidate, the most experienced, or the perfect person. I am however, very confident in my ability to meet and exceed the job requirements for each position that I apply for. The problem we face now, through websites such as Twitter, Linkedin, and Facebook, is that we can see who’s working at what company, who gets hired where, where they went to school, and what experience they have. When we’re rejected based on “not meeting qualifications,” it’s hard not to jump on these social networks and find out what qualifications the individuals have who are working there now. Most of the time, especially at the entry-level, there is nothing spectacular.

All in all, I have the same mindset as you. It’s good to know that I’m not the only one thinking about how perfect a person must be to get hired in today’s economy! I enjoy your posts. They keep me motivated in this never-ending job search. I appreciate the advice.

– Michael Buffa

He replied with this…

Hi Michael!

Thanks so much for taking the time to share your experience, I know that others will take some heart when they read it, realizing they’re not the only ones who are going through this (at any level).

Entry level positions are a whole issue of their own. I continually hear that an employer’s response at the entry level is “you don’t have enough experience”. The obvious question is, “How can I get experience when nobody will hire me because of a lack of it?”

The answer to the question is generally that the candidate should have thought of the “experience” issue sooner. They should have participated in work activities and/or internships in the field of their choice, thereby showing how serious they are about wanting to be successful in their career, and starting to get some experience while doing it. It sounds like you did that. Frankly it sounds to me like you did everything as well as you could. I agree with you that it’s outrageous that after asking you to spend time and effort for them, they don’t have the courtesy of responding. It’s annoying. If the repercussions weren’t so obvious, I’d tell you to let everyone know who the company is . . . they don’t seem to have much respect for candidates interested in working with them. You’re probably lucky you didn’t get the position, only to find out later what kinds of people you’d be working for (and/or with).

The only thing I can suggest to you is patient persistence. Network like crazy. Volunteer for causes that interest you and where you will be able to meet people who can help your career. You’re already blogging and tweeting, which should have given the employer a good idea of how you conduct yourself and how you think. I think those activities are very important . . . and fun!

You know you’re good and you know that you’re ready to bust your ass for your first (and every other) employer . . . all you need is a chance. You’ll get it. Your passion and effort are obvious. Some smart company is going to offer that opportunity you want (and need) so badly.

One other thing. I’m not finding you in our database. I suggest that you visit our website at http://www.Bishop-Partners.com and upload your resume. If you do that, I’ll respond.

Thank you once again for your comment. You’re helping others by making that sort of effort. I wish you all the best in your efforts for that first killer opportunity.

________________________________________________________________________________________

In a time when there aren’t too many people out there lending a helping hand, this conversation with Bob definitely lifted my spirits.  There are jobs out there, they’re just looking for the most talented, most passionate people out there.  I’ve decided it just might take going that extra mile to get there.  Thanks for the inspiration Bob.

Check out the Marketing Recruiter blog here.

rebus

True or False:  It is easier to convince you to eat a Big Mac than to convince you that eating a Big Mac is a good thing to do.

True or False:  It is easier to convince you to go to Las Vegas than to convince you that going to Las Vegas is a smart thing to do.

If you answered “true” to both of the questions above, you’re either A) very smart or B) one of the individuals who attended last night’s Rebus Event at Hoffman | Lewis.

A quote from marketing guru Jack Trout and an excerpt from Hoffman | Lewis’s Performance-Based Advertising Model says it best:

“If your assignment is to change people’s minds, don’t take it.”

On November 10, 2009, 50+ members came together at Hoffman | Lewis to interact, entertain, and engage in all things advertising.   The topic of the night: PBA, or what Hoffman | Lewis has coined, “Performance-Based Advertising.”

The night started off with a brief Q + A led by Mark Schaeffer, president of Hoffman | Lewis’s St. Louis office.  The first question he asked the rowdy members of Rebus: “Why are you here?”  Among the most popular responses were to network, to learn, to find out more about different companies, and most importantly, to get some free food and beer.  Some things never change.

Next up was Mark Manion, VP and Creative Director at Hoffman | Lewis who entertained the audience with some recent work done for a few of their biggest brands:  McDonalds, Ashley Furniture, and Missouri Tourism.  Highlights included Office Zombies in serious need of some coffee, Cowboy Dave lassoing low prices in the wrong store, and some 30-second spots that will make you consider staying a little closer to home for your next vacation.

To cap off the event, Hoffman | Lewis brought in the most important piece of the puzzle: an actual client.  Brian Hall, Chief Marketing Officer of the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission, walked us through the process of taking St. Louis from what some consider “flyover country” to what he considers a literal diamond in the rough.

For those wondering what to expect from a Rebus event, here’s what I can tell you: you can expect coolers, cocktails, cameras, and commercials. You will meet creatives, copywriters, account planners, and interns.  Most importantly, you’ll make acquaintances, create connections, and establish relationships with the best and brightest St. Louis has to offer.

A special thanks goes out to Hoffman | Lewis for hosting such a fabulous event.  Lessons were learned, friendships were made, and stories were shared.  We look forward to doing it again in January. So, how about making that New Year’s resolution early and making sure to get on the Bus in 2010!

Find out more about Hoffman | Lewis and see all of their work at http://hlinstl.com

stockvault_11436_20080523

I love the idea of experimental advertising.  A lot of companies have dropped the experimental label in exchange for  more traditional words such as engaging or inspiring.  The word experimental itself isn’t as glamorous as it used to be.  In the past, companies had the time, the budget, the ability, and the interest to experiment on new ideas, new campaigns, and new ways to drive consumer awareness.  Nowadays, companies can barely afford to put out a campaign, not much less experiment with one.

I give credit to the companies going out on a limb and toying with this idea of experimentation.  Quite frankly, all the blogs I follow, all the sites I read, and all the marketing that resonates with me tends to fall into this idea of something extraordinary.  I’m no longer excited by television ads, I’m just interested.  I’m not longer attracted to web banners, I tend to ignore them.  I’m not longer enthused about billboards, I just accept them.  I think I’m just one of many looking for that next big thing in marketing; a thing in which I truly believe will be experimental.

Some of the best campaigns that I’ve seen recently aren’t traditional at all.  Sure they’re websites, but they’re much more than that.  They’re experimental ideas, interactive platforms, interesting to consumers, and exciting for everyone.  They might not bring back a 100% ROI, they might not increase sales or brand awareness, they might only reward a small segment of consumers loyal to your brand, and they might only create conversation in certain circles.  The fact of the matter is, no matter what the message or medium, they are providing an outlet for engagement, an experimental attempt  at advertising/pr/marketing/media arts 2.0.

Let’s start with the Kodak Experience.  It’s essentially a full-screen application that can be accessed via the web at this site. It is an interactive site that shows how 9 different individuals connect with one another using different Kodak devices.  If you click on the Dad, it shows how he can record his son playing basketball with his Kodak Pocket Video cam.  If you click on the Grandma, it shows how she stays connected with her Kodak Easyshare camera, making it easy to take and send pictures of her grandkids.  Is Kodak going to sell more cameras by allowing us to play around on the site and see how people can connect?  Probably not.  But is it something fun, exciting, experimental, and entertaining that will allow extra engagement with the Kodak audience?  Most definitely.

Next, let’s look at Kleenex’s newest interactive campaign.  It’s called Get Momm’d.  You can access the website here. It’s an interactive platform that gives you access to 7 different moms.  After you choose one, based on a variety of different categories, you can then connect them and receive advice for different things you might need.  For example, if you’re sick, you can have your virtual mom send you a recommendation via text or email on how to get better.  If you need a new dress, she might be able to send you links to her favorite places to shop.  As said on the site, Mom’s specialize in being helpful.  You can pretty much go anywhere from there.  Now honestly, does this really have any correlation to Kleenex?  Not really.  Are they going to benefit?  Who knows?  Are girls everywhere going to be playing around with the platform?  You bet.  Experimental, exciting, out of the box, and extraordinary – the future of marketing?

I don’t want to get ahead of myself here.  I see the importance and the necessity of traditional media.  No matter what you do for a brand, it will always involve traditional elements.  I guess I’m just more or less wishing and hoping for a more experimental future.  If more companies experiment, more consumers will become engaged.  Marketing will no longer be an accepted practice, it will be an influential practice.  More companies will spend on ideas, and more money will be spent on idea makers.  There will be a resurgence of advertising, an influx of interactivity, and an ever-growing interest in the ways that brands are going to connect next.

I think the talent is out there.  I read about the big ideas everyday.  I want to be a part of the revolution.  I just need the revolution to happen first.  If anyone is on board, let me know.  I’m an account planner with no accounts.  I think there’s more room for experiment in this time of oh-so-similar ideas, but then again maybe I’ve just had too many cups of coffee.

red bull

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing for a Red Bull position over the phone.  It wasn’t a position that I had a real passion for, but it was an opportunity nonetheless.  A chance to work for a winning brand, a brand I believe in, and a brand that stands for action, entertainment, and an overall spirit of excitement.  The position itself was a Field Marketing Specialist.  Amongst a list of qualifications, roles, and responsibilities I found what I considered to be the heart and soul of the position: “to bring a local face to a global brand.”  Immediately I had a brainstorm of hundreds of ideas on how to make this possible.

The conversation started around 1:15 PM and ended around 1:27PM.  Let’s just say I wasn’t a good fit.

The position we discussed on the phone sure as heck didn’t seem like a Field Marketing Specialist.  It sounded more like a Promotions Manager.  They needed someone to find brand ambassadors, someone to tell them what bars to go to, and someone to make sure they interacted with college students at parties, bars, and sporting events.  Sure it all relates to marketing, but does it really warrant the label, “marketing specialist?”

On the phone I talked about the big ideas that I had for this position.  If we wanted to create a local brand, we would need local platforms to interact with St. Louis on an individual level.  We would need a Twitter account, a Facebook page, and a blog.  We’d post up to the minute messages to let people know where we were.  We’d have a GPS enabled map on our Facebook page letting followers in St. Louis know where we were located at all times in the die.  We’d post pictures, videos, interviews, creative content, and anything and everything Red Bull.  We’d post bios of our team members, we’d sponsor parties, and we’d create connections through each and every social network in STL.  We’d post random Red Bull stashes in STL and promote the whereabouts through Twitter and Facebook.  We wouldn’t just show up to a party or a sporting event, we’d be the reason people would be going to these events.  Red Bull does some of these things now, but to me, they are far from local.

To the HR woman I interviewed with, these ideas labeled me as a “good fit for the interactive department at Red Bull.”  I guess they are late in the game in realizing that interactivity is now apparent in almost every aspect of marketing, especially in mobile marketing.  Sure, Red Bull can get by just by putting people at events to pass out samples.  I just wish they realized that that method is mobile marketing/promotions 1.0.  We’re in the age of 2.0 now.  Interactivity, connectivity, communication, and identification are what consumers want.  How better to give this to them, than to create a team of loyal, local, and connected individuals who not only live the brand while they’re working, but when they’re sitting behind their computers.

Let me know your thoughts.  I think I’m on too something, but maybe I’ve just had too many Monster Energy Drinks.

chess

For these past few months I’ve been what I would call the hardest working not working person out there.  I’ve posted a little over 50 insights, ideas, and opinions on Buff’s Blog, well over 30 commercials on The Daily Interest, a slew of Content & Copy on Posterous, and read more than I can even imagine on advertising, social media, marketing, and web 2.0.  I’ve put all this work in to build my personal brand, to define myself online, and to network myself into a group of people within the industry I wish to enter into.  I’ve always said, a resume can only say so much about a person, and in my case, it doesn’t say a whole lot.

The problem you run into in today’s world of 24/7 news feeds, is the fact that a lot of messages get lost.  Sure I receive on average, 60-70 hits a day, but I’ve always envisioned it reaching a much larger audience.  The other problem you run into in today’s digital world is the addiction that comes from having information constantly updated throughout the day.  It’s become hard for people to let go of thier laptops and their cellphones.  Use me for an example.  I always want to be on Twitter, Facebook, and Blogspot seeing what people are doing, writing about, and posting links to.  It’s a healthy obsession, but an obsession nonetheless.

In an attempt to restructure and reorganize my social media behavior, I have decided to try out a few new applications.  Hootsuite is the first.  On Twitter, I post everywhere from 20 to 30 tweets a day.  While this only takes about 20 minutes to do, the research behind some of the tweets can take hours.  Don’t get me wrong, I think I am posting some of the most entertaining, interesting, educational, and relevant stuff out there, but I’m not sure who exactly is receiving it.  Hootsuite is an application that allows you to schedule your tweets.  Rather than post 20-30 up-to-the-minute tweets, I’ve decided to use Hootsuite to schedule 8-10 tweets a day.  It will allow me more time to gather information, sift through the relevant stuff, and will give my followers more of an opportunity to read my posts.  More or less, I’ve decided to rebroadcast and reinforce, rather than to be the first one to break news.

As a writer and blogger you begin to get yourself into a bind.  You spend so much time writing an article, only to have it pushed to the back of your blog when you post something new.  I think the blogger dilemma can best be exemplified in the context of a band releasing music.  Ludo, one of the best bands out of STL, worked hard touring and releasing independent records in the Midwest for about 5 years.  They built a loyal following in this region over those 5 years, but it was their major label debut “You’re Awful, I Love You,”  that truly put them on the map.   After two years of touring on that album, they decided to re-release their previous two albums because all of their new fans had no idea they even existed.  That’s kind of where I’m at in terms of my twitter and my blog.  I’m very proud of what I’ve posted and what I’ve written, but at the same time, it’s hard to accept that there’s probably only 10 people, my mom, dad, and girlfriend included, who’ve read them.

Anyways, just a little rant.  My spirit’s are actually at an all time high right now.  I’ve got some great career opportunities on the horizon and all of them involve writing, social media, marketing, branding, and almost everything I’m looking for in a job.  My Twitter might be a little slow while I reorganize my strategy, however, that’s where all the business happens, and you can find me at http://www.twitter.com/mbuffa.

moms

Moms are taking over Facebook. Have you realized this yet?  Everyone I tell that to is stunned.  Heck, I even think it’s weird that my mom is on Facebook.  Fact of the matter is, they are the largest growing population on the platform.  Look at a quick stat here from a 2009 study done at iStrategyLabs.  “Facebook’s 35-54 year old demographic segment not only continued to grow the fastest, but it accelerated to a 276.4% growth rate over the past 6 months. That demo is DOUBLING roughly every two months.”  Scary huh?

To top this off, I just recently came across a Whitepaper put together by Mr. Youth and Repnation, two leading market research companies out of New York.  The title of the piece read “Why Millennial Moms Are the Most Connected & Technology Dependent Population.”  It briefly explains some of the psychological reasons behind why this segment of middle-aged females is growing so rapidly.

The four main reasons they came up with for Millennial Mom’s to be on Social Networks are as follows:

1.  They’re multi-tech, multi-taskers: Allows them to streamline busy lives and enables them to do more in less time.

2.  They build communities to ease tension: Online communities provide support and information through different life stages.

3.  They crowdsource decisions: Peers are sought out to for advice over experts and celebrity endorsements.

4.  They’re masters of the overshare: Curtains are peeled back and information is made more public.

In the study, it was found that 65% percent of moms utilize four or more technologies per day including blogs, videos, and cellphones and the same percent use online photo albums over traditional ones.  They are quickly realizing that in order to stay connected, one must move past traditional means of mail and telephone and embrace emerging media platforms.  They also, unlike their male counterparts, want to stay connected all the time, especially with family members and friends of the family.

Moms often live in what technologists refer to as a virtual village. They don’t want to read books, they want to refer to friends and family.  I notice this with my own mom as well.  The study found that 49% of women read blogs and participate in social network discussions about parenting.  More and more blogs and sites relating to this are popping up because of the increase in interest.  I even follow a blog called “Two Mims” profiling different “Mom’s In Marketing” and how they manage their personal and corporate lives.

It more or less comes down to the fact that moms realize they have access to millions of other moms and they are just a click away.  They trust and respect the opinions of other moms over that of a marketer, a man, or a college student.  Advice from a friend, a coworker, or another mother tend to be “highly influential” in the decision-making process and this advice is often found throughout blogs and social networks.

Lastly, moms love to talk. They are “the masters of overshare.” They no longer have bumper stickers that say “my son is an honor student,” they have Facebook status’s and tweets proclaiming it.  They share photos, keep journals, and fill everyone in on the lives of their children and grandchildren because that’s what they care about.  They don’t live much for themselves, rather the happiness they get out of the lives of friends and family.

What does this mean for marketers?  Well it means a few things need to change:

Platforms need to be built that allow moms to interact and engage with one another.

Conversations need to be started with this demographic, not campaigns directed at them.

Provide honesty and action over entertainment.

This is the future of social media as we know it.  College kids and millennial moms.  Two different target markets, same media platform.

Are we ready for the madness?

I was having a conversation the other day with a man who was having trouble sleeping.  After staying overnight at multiple research facilities, having about every test done you could imagine, he said his problem still persists, although now he has a much more throrough understanding of why.  He briefly explained to the me the different levels of sleep and how each relates to the brain cycle.  His brain was stuck in the first three stages, also known as Short wave sleep (SWS) when a deep sleep isn’t reached until the sixth stage, known as Rapid eye movement (REM).

I guess the marketing part of my brain started to kick in during this conversation and I immediately decided to write down some notes on this topic.  I thought, market strategy is all about different stages, can I apply them to this?  With a little stretching, and a few plays on words, I decided, this most definitely applies to the industry.

In a conversation on sleep, SWS can be used to describe short wave sleep, but when we’re talking advertising, let’s talk “Safe Work Solutions.”  I always read articles about brands taking the safe way out.  I even wrote a blog on the idea that the client, more often than not, gets in the way of a good idea.  My proposal is that the client, in his/her best interest, in an attempt to get the best possible outcome available, needs to strive for REM, or in this discussion, Realizing Emerging Media.

What do I mean?  Well, I’ll give you a brief example.  About a month ago I met with an entrepreneur who had just started a real estate company.  The company has a website, a wonderful location, and a team of agents ready to storm the St. Louis area.  What were they missing?  Word of mouth, publicity, buzz.  Safe Work Solutions (SWS) were used in the form direct mail pieces, press releases, and a newsletter, but the full spectrum of affordable and necessary advertising hadn’t been realized.  A month later, what has happened?  The company has successfully Realized Emerging Media (REM).

The company posts listings on Twitter, Facebook, has a Linkedin profile promoting network connections, has a blog posting relative creative content, and professional pieces of editorial profiling the experience of the real estate agents and venture capitalists.   They’ve moved past the first stages in the marketing process and have made significant steps towards REM.

What happens after REM?  The perfect strategy.  The point where traditional, unconventional, and new emerging media come together to create a relevant, cohesive, deliverable market strategy.  Just like we all strive for the perfect sleep, business should strive for this perfect strategy.

I think I’ve got a decent analogy here that all of us sleep lovers and sleep deprivers can relate to.   Do I see the light or do I just have sleep in my eye.  You be the judge.  Comments are always welcome.