Branding with Hammer and Rupert

Driving into work the other day, I heard on my celestial radio that Hammer (yes, THAT Hammer) was getting ready to launch WireDoo, the next-generation search engine, going toe-to-toe with the 800-pound Google Gorilla.

According to Adweek.com, “Hammer describes it as a “deep search” or “relationship” engine. Rather than just return “the 10 blue links” of keyword-based results, WireDoo will also display more tangential data culled from Web indices, public data, and social media.”

This isn’t the first time the gold-pant-wearing entrepreneur has tried to challenge business convention. In 2008, fueled by the reality-show dance craze, Hammer decided he was going to take on Google-owned YouTube with his very own DanceJam.com. If you’ve never heard of this particular website, don’t feel bad. Hardly anyone else has either.

Granted, Hammer certainly has a mind to rhyme and two hype feet, but it’s hard to fathom that he realistically believes he’s going to compete with the company that invented (or at least monopolized) search.

In other celebrity news, just a few days earlier, Rupert Boneham announced his Libertarian Party Candidacy for Governor of Indiana in 2012. Of course, Rupert gained fame and fortune as a two-time contestant, one-time winner on Survivor, and hopes to use his skills and tenacity to help improve life in the Hoosier State.

As a marketer, I listen and read these types of stories with great interest (and humor). Certainly, Hammer and Rupert are more than just celebrities, they’re brand names in and of themselves—for better or tie-dye-wearing worse.

So, how does this apply to you and me?

No matter what type of business you’re in, it’s important to take a good, long look in the mirror to understand what your brand looks like and sounds like. Be honest with yourself. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Talk to your customers. Keep your ego in check. Don’t try to be something you’re not.

Who knows? Maybe Rupert will brand himself the better candidate and will be elected to office, just like the Governator and Jesse Ventura.

If that’s the case, good for him.

But I’ll be moving to Colorado.

The faces of MB

Meet: Angie Dye Nemeth, PR Account Supervisor

We have many team members at MB whose jobs keep them occupied with a select few accounts, and we don’t often get the opportunity to introduce them to the rest of our clients and the world. As part of an ongoing weekly series, we’re sharing a fast, interesting Q&A with one of our people that will let you (and us!) get to know them a little better.

Name: Angie Dye Nemeth

1. What different careers would you like to have if you had to make a change every seven years?

Believe it or not—I wouldn’t change a thing! When working in public relations, no two days are ever the same, and the changing landscape of traditional and online media always keeps me on my toes. I love the energy and the opportunity to learn new things. However, in several decades (when I retire), I am definitely going to get a job folding sweaters at the mall.

2. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A journalist for National Geographic magazine. I’ve always loved writing, spending time outdoors, and I am completely fascinated by nature. If find a spider or weird insect, I’ll investigate online. The Seibley Guide to Birds is always within arm’s reach (pileated woodpeckers are my favorite, by the way).

3. What is one of your most memorable experiences shared with your grandparents?

Sunday dinners at their house. Growing up, they were like surrogate grandparents to everyone in our town, and they always had open seats at the table for anyone who wanted to join us. And, my grandmother makes the best homemade noodles…

4. What is one of your favorite websites?

Etsy.com. I’ve found amazing artwork on the site. My favorite? A vintage poster (pictured at right, from this Etsy seller) from a 1950s French classroom that depicts that anatomy of a bird.

5. Where do you usually get most of your news about what is going on in the world today?

Literally hundreds of online sources, thanks to the efficiency of Google Reader. It’s an amazing tool that helps me keep a pulse on wide range of topics. Also, I’ve always enjoyed Watching America, a site that aggregates news articles on the U.S. from international publications. It can be very interesting, yet somewhat frightening, to see how our country is perceived outside our borders.

6. Do you think there is life elsewhere in the universe?

I’ve read a lot of science fiction and have a very active imagination, so I think anything is possible.

 

Next time, we’ll introduce one of our newest members of the account team. See you then!

Three keys to becoming a stellar presenter

Elements that cover all other tips and tricks

Thousands of recommendations, tips and tricks for becoming a stellar presenter are floating around out there. A few months ago, I shared what I believe are the three simplest—and easiest to remember—keys, as shared with me by one of my favorite bosses years ago at Leo Burnett.

The three big elements are:

  • Mastery
  • Presence
  • Humanity

These three cover all other tips, tricks, dos and don’ts. Let’s dig into them a little further.

Mastery

Mastery is not whether you’ve actually mastered the material, it’s whether the audience thinks you’ve mastered it. How do you contribute to that impression? A few well placed facts and analogies work wonders. References to people you’ve met or comments you’ve heard them make also go a long way in the credibility department.

For example, Martin Sorrell once commented that in the future, clients will not pay for information, they will pay for interpretation. That day has come, and not just for marketing firms. The information business (TV, newspapers, magazines, Twitter, etc.) has been taken over by interpreters. Look at Fox News ratings vs. CNN. Or TMZ vs. Entertainment Tonight.

Also, you must surprise your audience. (This is a Steve Jobs dictate.) If there are no surprises in your presentation, the audience thinks they know the subject just as well as you do. And that means no mastery!

Presence

Presence includes what you wear; how you speak; whether you avoid clichés and “umm”s; and even the new habit: starting your sentences with “So…”

Leaning on a podium is bad news, too. One time, I saw a CEO speaking at a stockholders’ meeting, and he stood next to the podium and leaned on it. Make up your mind: Stand behind the podium or come out in front of it, but don’t use it as a crutch.

Humanity

Humanity is very underrated and hugely important. Some of the best lines in a presentation occur when there’s been a goof or an equipment malfunction, but only if you turn it into an opportunity for humanity and don’t let it throw you off your game. What can work? A joke. A personal story. A self-deprecating remark. Silence or weeping usually won’t!

My former EVP at Leo Burnett used to start his big presentations with a cartoon, usually from the New Yorker, and usually something everyone had seen before. But it broke the ice. And then he would tell the audience why he was their “best buddy” and get them on his side. Predictable… but always effective.

Another way to use humanity is to pick up on and reference something that happened earlier at the same event: A previous speaker’s presentation. An introduction. Something in the news that just happened. It makes the audience believe your presentation is not canned, and that the presenter is living, breathing and paying attention.

And always remember: rarely, if ever, is there someone in the audience who doesn’t want you to succeed. They want to learn something, be entertained and be comfortable.

And once again, thanks, Tim!

What makes a great infographic?

The topic of infographics came up during a recent conversation I had with a colleague. The question wasn’t about whether to create infographics or not, but rather what really makes an infographic an infographic and not just another chart or diagram.

I, of course, have an opinion on the matter (imagine that), but I really would like to open this up as a discussion. First things first, though, let’s establish the ground rules defining what an infographic is and how it is used. Then I will give you my opinion.

Infographics: The Definition

According to Wikipedia, “information graphics or infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge.” Essentially it means taking complex information and presenting it in an easily understood manner, allowing the end user to grasp the concept without being overwhelmed with the data.

Today’s infographics are primarily found online, usually in blog posts. And they’re routinely presented in a long, vertical format, controlling the reader’s visual consumption of the information through scrolling down the page.

Infographics: Usage

While infographics have been around a long time (a really long time), they have seen an increase in popularity and usage recently online, especially in blog posts. The reason is they make great link bait. Infographics that are both informative and visually appealing get shared. A lot. Each share or mention could potentially (read: should) be a link back to the source or creator. Being that a link on the web is considered a vote, a good infographic that gets shared can account for a lot of votes. And those votes can help improve your search engine ranking. (I know I am oversimplifying SEO and link-building strategy, but for the sake of this discussion, bear with me.)

Infographics come in all sizes and shapes. The data they convey varies even more. Typically they encourage the reader to follow along and see how the information interrelates and progresses. The good ones (i.e. those that are shared) are super simple, easy to follow and visually appealing (more on this later). Here are just a few examples of some recent favorites (and shares).

The Life and Times of Steve Jobs (shared below, as well)
The Environmental Impact of Spam
How Much Data Will Humans Create & Store This Year?

Infographics: Matt’s Opinion

For those of you who made it this far, thanks for sticking with me. For those who just skipped ahead to see how wrong my opinion is, shame on you. (Oh, who am I kidding? I would have done the same thing.)

As I alluded to earlier, a good infographic is one that is easy to understand and is visually appealing. But there’s more to it.

What makes an infographic great? At the core of any content is a story. People are more likely to share a story than they are data. Great charts and graphs are created all the time, but because they fail to convey the story in a compelling manner, they fall flat. If you haven’t already, take a look at the Steve Jobs example included below. It literally presents the man’s life story from start to finish, or in this case, top to bottom.

You probably wouldn’t finish a book—not to mention share it—that didn’t pull you in to the story. The same goes for content. Whether it be an infographic on the web or copy in a print ad, without a story, there’s no reason to listen or share.

So there you have it, my thoughts on the subject. I invite you to share yours in the comments. What makes an infographic great and worth sharing?

 

Interested in finding more infographics than you can shake a stick at? Check out these resources:
Info Graphic World – They literally specialize in creating these and are really good at it, to boot.
Daily Infographic – The name says it all.
Information Is Beautiful – Literally making information and data sexy.
Mashable – More than just infographics. News, stories and trends, as well.
Marketing Tech Blog – Great resource for all things marketing, techy, bloggy…
Fast Company – A wide variety of topics visualized.

Life and Times of Steve Jobs - Infographic World
Created by: Infographic World

Cook for the Cure serves up largest donation to date

Miller Brooks’ 10th Annual Cook for the Cure was a big success

On Friday, October 7, 2011, Miller Brooks hosted nearly 250 guests at our 10th annual Cook for the Cure in what became food-fight central as an International Cuisine competition ensued. And it was all in the name of fighting breast cancer.

Our goal: To raise $100,000 in 10 years for the Indianapolis affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and have fun!

The weather was perfect, as a final surge of summer fell upon Indianapolis. Employee teams representing five countries set up their make-shift restaurants on the grounds of Miller Brooks. They cooked, served, cheered and danced from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. And that doesn’t include the hours of cooking and strategizing beforehand. Whew!

The countries and representing teams were:
Australia: Team Aussie
Greece: Hellenic Bells
Germany: Spitzen Koch
India: Curry Fury
Italy: Mamma Mia!

The competition was fierce, and in the end, Team Greece/Hellenic Bells took top honors again.

A different kind of competition took place online simultaneously: with over 70 items up for bid in the silent auction, guests near and far had plenty to choose from.

All of us at Miller Brooks are proud to report that we smashed our previous fundraising records and raised $17,500—almost enough to meet that goal of $100,000 in 10 years. While there is still no cure for breast cancer, we know that we are making an impact on finding it. And once the cure is found, what a celebration that will be.

A special thanks to our event sponsors:
Delta Faucet Company
Eiteljorg Museum
Green Builder Media
Kimball Office
Lake County Press
Marvel Us Parties
Mallow Run Winery
Platinum Recruiting
Whirlpool Corporation

Thank you to everyone who came, donated, ate, and helped us this year! We hope you can join us again.

The faces of MB

Meet: Stacy DiBetta, Proofing Specialist/Copywriter

We have many team members at MB whose jobs are more behind the scenes, and we don’t often get the opportunity to introduce them to our clients and the rest of the world. As part of an ongoing weekly series, we’re sharing a fast, interesting Q&A with one of our people that will let you (and us!) get to know them a little better.

Name: Stacy DiBetta

1. What is an occupation you think would be fascinating?

I have two answers to that. Many people know that I have my degree in library science, so some day, I’d love to while away the hours in a children’s room at a library. However, I’ve been known to often wish I had gone to pharmacy school. That has always intrigued me, and been one of my “what if I had…?” thoughts.

2. Why were you given your name, and does it have a special meaning?

There’s a two-part answer to that question. The first part is that my middle name is Jo, based on Jo in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. My mom wanted me to independent like Jo. Love it! The second part I hesitate to share, because I’ve always gotten grief about it. Stacy was the name of the beloved miniature schnauzer that belonged to my mother. Yes, I was named after a dog. A normally sweet little dog that loved everyone but my father. Growing up, I visited “doggy Stacy” at my Grandma’s house.

3. Describe something you and your father or mother do or did together.

Sadly, both of my parents are gone. My mom loved being at home and didn’t like what I would call “normal” mother/daughter outings. But, I do remember all of the conversations I had with her when I would come home from lunch during high school. She’d have something tasty all ready for me, and she’d help me sort through the trials and tribulations of those teen years. I fondly remember going to lunch with my father after my mom passed away. It was our special time together.

4. What do you like to do on a rainy Saturday?

Sleep in late, or take a nap! I especially love a good thunderstorm. There’s nothing that makes me feel safer than being tucked in bed and hearing rain on the window, and my dog (or kitten) curled up next to me. Even my kids will tell me, “Mom it’s raining, you should go to sleep!” If only they would let me go to sleep…

5. Are you an early bird or a night owl?

Without a doubt a night owl. I routinely get a jolt of energy at night, and usually feel more focused then. I’ve been known to work around the house, or even work at home, until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. Now, that could have something to do with my kids being asleep so I can actually get things done!

6. What is a recent fad you admit to trying?

I really am so not into what everybody else is doing. Facebook is still a fairly new thing for me, and I’m bad at it! The only thing close to a fad really isn’t one: singing in the car to my boys’ favorite hip hop or rap music. That probably dates me, too… it’s probably not called hip hop anymore, huh?

 

Next time, we’ll introduce one of our fearless leaders. Stay tuned…

What makes a tagline successful?

Have you ever wondered what actually makes a “tagline,” “tag-line,” or “tag,” a successful “tagline,” “tag-line,” or “tag”?

As advertising professionals (or simply advertising curious), we have all heard, read, written or criticized (often too harshly) a tagline or two. Usually critiqued upon more personal criteria like, “I recognize stupid, but this line lives in an entirely new realm of stupid.” Or, “If you’re going to pilfer a line, take it from someone who can actually write.” And having written my share of sometimes good and sometimes not-so-spectacular (client made me do it) taglines, I often ponder upon what it is exactly that constitutes/qualifies a successful tagline creation.

What is a tagline?

Webster’s defines a tagline as: n. A final line (as in a play or joke); especially: one that serves to clarify a point or create a dramatic effect. A reiterated phrase identified with an individual, group, or product: slogan.

You could say that a tagline can be defined as a variant of a branding slogan. Most typically used in advertising, it is a memorable phrase that sums up the tone and/or premise of a brand or product, which is written and designed to reinforce the audience’s memory of the actual brand or product.

Interestingly, taglines, tag-lines or tags are American terms. In the U.K., a tagline is actually called an end line, endline or strapline. In Belgium, it is called a baseline, in France they are signatures, and Germany, claims—but in the Netherlands and Italy, they are pay offs or pay-offs. Regardless of what they are called, their meaning is one and the same.

Four characteristics of memorable taglines

So, what makes a tagline a memorable one? At taglineguru.com, they rank the 100 most influential taglines nationally, starting from 1948. The criteria for ranking is based on four key influencers: Longevity: Have they endured the test of time? Equity: Have they become synonymous with a company or product? Portability & Memorability: Have they exercised an influence on our culture, media, and language? Originality: Have they broken new ground in the advertising industry? The top four rankings are as follows:

1. “Got Milk?” (1993)
2. “Don’t leave home without it” (1975)
3. “Just do it” (1988)
4. “Where’s the beef?” (1984)

And as you may have guessed, listing the brand or product name for these illustrious taglines is certainly not necessary, as they are now literally part of our daily vernacular. The youngest of the four is eighteen years old. Isn’t that an eternity in advertising years? Apparently not, as the oldest of the top 100 is still listed at number 13—“A diamond is forever” (1948). A 63-year-old, top-20 tagline—now that’s staying power.

But why is that? Why have these lines, and a plethora of like-sounding others, launched certain brands or products into superstardom? And then lived on for decades in both our hearts and minds? While others languish on a page sadly destined to be ridiculed by folks like us? Is a bloated, global advertising and marketing budget the prerequisite to their superior ranking? Well, it obviously doesn’t hurt; but are these lines truly special? Simply brilliant in a way that is relatable on a massive scale, revered by all that can read, and scorned (but loved) by those of us who wish we had authored?

I suppose we can say (somewhat safely) that many factors must miraculously align to catapult these commercialized haikus (we refer to as taglines) into becoming the enduring brand mantras or iconic symbols that represent, promote and elevate our favorite brands skyward.

There are plenty of overly written, information-packed sites out there focused upon the subject of taglines. Just punch “tagline” into Google and let the feeding frenzy begin. Interesting? Sort of.

But what interests me most as a consumer, as a self-effacing ad guy, as a tax-paying, flag-waving, overly zealous American citizen, is what you think. More specifically, what you think makes a tagline, a successful tagline. Tell us in the comments.

Lead nurturing

Building relationships to qualify more leads

Have you been to a trade show lately? If so, you may have noticed that booth traffic is slower than in the past, and leads are down. With so many companies watching their bottom line, it is not surprising that they are sending fewer people to trade shows.

So, as a marketer, what are you doing differently with those valuable leads? If the answer is nothing, let me introduce you to the concept of lead nurturing.

Lead nurturing is the process of building relationships with qualified prospects, regardless of their timing to buy, with the goal of earning their business when they are ready to buy.

After a trade show, many marketers will send information to those people who swiped their badge and/or requested additional information. On average, about 20% of these people will convert to qualified sales leads without much additional outreach. These are sometimes referred to as “fast leads.” But what about the “slow leads”—those that come in over the next 60-90 days? Research shows that without any further lead nurturing, about 6.67% of those will become qualified sales leads. However, with lead nurturing, 20% will turn into qualified sales leads. This is a 300%+ increase over the more traditional way (without lead nurturing).

Lead nurturing reduces the cost per lead, drives sales productivity and increases revenue more quickly.

How are you nurturing leads in your organization? Please share your experiences in the comments below. You can also contact me directly at kristine@millerbrooks.com.

[Source: Marketo, as shared at ExactTarget’s Connections 2011 user conference.]

Related posts:
Looking at social media as data: Making measurement meaningful
Social media success: Southwest Airlines’ rapping flight attendant
The power of nine quotes: most memorable quotes from Connections 2011
Connections 2011: ExactTarget’s user conference wows again

Looking at social media as data

Making measurement meaningful

You know the story: the resources have been invested, the content has been developed, you’ve listened, you’ve engaged… but now what? Is your approach working? Is the time investment paying off?

While social media has become a valuable part of the marketing mix for many of today’s companies, many recent studies show most measurement is ad hoc and scattered. Of those attempting to measure, few are doing it in a meaningful way.

The message was clear throughout the social media-focused sessions at ExactTarget’s Connections 2011: the next opportunity for marketers is to look at social content and conversations as data. Why is this important? Several reasons: competitive tracking, understanding your brand momentum, industry research, crisis communications, customer support and strategy evaluation, to name a few.

Think of each conversation as a number, then each post has a value. In the next few years, companies will—and need to—become more and more savvy about leveraging social media data. What can you start measuring today? Consider starting with brand mentions, sentiment, number of followers, retweets and replies. Marketers now have an opportunity to align and overlay data sets from multiple social channels with valuable sales metrics to determine if their investments in social media are paying off.

Are your investments paying off?

Related posts:
Connections 2011: ExactTarget’s user conference wows again
The power of nine quotes: most memorable quotes from Connections 2011
Social media success: Southwest Airlines’ rapping flight attendant

The faces of MB

Meet: Eric Wysong, Chief Technology Officer

We have many team members at MB whose jobs are more behind the scenes, and we don’t often get the opportunity to introduce them to our clients and the rest of the world. As part of an ongoing weekly series, we’re sharing a fast, interesting Q&A with one of our people that will let you (and us!) get to know them a little better.

Name: Eric Wysong

1. What job would you like to have for one month?

I would like to work on the grounds crew at a MLB stadium.

2. Did you have any pets when you were growing up? What were they?

We always had a dog or two and multiple cats. Strays seemed to find their way to our house, and we would take them in, so we had many animals growing up.

3. What member of your family do you feel closest to, and why?

My wife. After 24 years of marriage, she’s still my closest friend. In life, not every moment is great, but it’s the “not-so-great moments” that make the “good moments” seem GREAT. We have two great kids, and we still enjoy the rat race that goes along with that.

4. If you could watch only one hour of TV a week, what would you watch?

Reruns of Andy Griffith…I enjoy the humor and innocence of that time period. Life seemed to move at a more leisurely pace. When I’m feeling stressed, I like to sit down to watch an episode or two.

5. What are your personal staple foods that you keep around at all times?

Eggs, salsa, cheese, and wheat bread.

6. Would you rather be President of the United States or the world’s richest person? Why?

The world’s richest person. I could give to the causes as I see fit without going through all the politics and taking a vote to accomplish my goals. I’m too honest and blunt to make a good politician, so me being President would not work.

 

Next time, we’ll introduce one of our fearless leaders. Stay tuned…


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