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Music: It’s What Your Brand’s Strategy is Missing

Over the last few years, and 2013 especially, everyone has been beating the drum about creating an experience with your branding. With companies like Red Bull skying above their actual product to become an icon, it’s not surprising that we’re all taking a second look at how we create a brand’s personality. How is it then that we all seem to miss one of the easiest ways to do this?

No matter whether you’re watching a movie, walking into the Octagon, about the get your code on or simply trying to push through the end of a workout; what helps you know how to feel? Music. In olden times, it was a legitimate legal defense to state that the music that you were listening to made you commit a crime. Music affects us and there is not denying that. Smell may be the strongest sense tied to memory but nothing takes you back to couple-skating in elementary school faster than some Blackstreet. Nothing makes you want to play football like some AC/DC. Nothing makes you want to buy some ______ and then go _____ like some _____> If you can fill in that mad lib, you may have the key to your brand’s success.

Let’s take a look at some of the tools at your disposal.

Throw a Concert

Yeah, I’m aware that this is probably the least likely scenario for your brand. Most brands can’t afford to hire a significant solo artist or multiple artists to throw a concert or concert series in their honor. If you have Mountain Dew or Adidas on your client list though, let’s get going. Throwing an event (and stream it online through your social channels) is a great way to promote your brand through music.

Yeasayer in Red Bull Concert Series

Yeasayer in Red Bull Concert Series

There is an inherent drawback to this plan. If the concert isn’t sharable, it is a one-and-done approach. This event has to be noteworthy enough to carry weight for time to come. Will people watch it again and again? This is why you might want to consider doing an event that teams up two artists who normally don’t team up or run an acoustic concert. These are events that will be looked up afterwards since there aren’t other videos just like it all over YouTube.

Spotify Playlists

One of the most underrated tools is the Branded Spotify Playlist. This has the added bonus of not costing a lot of money and diversity. You can also brand these playlists based on the activity that they’re meant to inspire. If you’re a fitness brand, why wouldn’t you have the perfect Pump Up Mix by _____? If you’re an energy drink that is branded around getting you through the workday, might I suggest some Eye of the Tiger in your blend?

I’m personally a fan of Spotify playlists over Pandora stations because it is more precise in your choices. You put exactly what you want on the mix. There are certain restrictions like having only one song per artist but that can be danced around a bit, especially if you can release an album for an event that you hosted. (See what I did there?)

Example from the show Parks & Rec: Benji’s Cool Times Summer Jamz Playlist

Other Musical Options

I could list out a bunch of great options but creating your own playlist or hosting your own music event are the main two that I would suggest. If possible, do both. That being said, one of the nice things about music is that it is incredibly versatile. There are always going to be new ways to get it to the masses. I’d love to hear from you guys on some of the other great musical initiatives that you’ve seen brands doing. You know where to find me in the Twittersphere.

West Jet Christmas Hits a Holiday Homerun!

Like many of my fellow marketers, I spent a good portion of this morning passing around the video of the real-time shopping promotion that West Jet pulled off. I don’t want to dance around it. This is the best piece of holiday marketing that I’ve seen in years. Really, it is one of the best pieces that I’ve seen for any brand in years.

In case you haven’t seen it, here is the video. Watch it and then I will tell you why I believe that it is so amazing.

When Was the Last Time You Loved an Airline?

In all honesty, when was the last time that you felt genuine affection for an airline? We show some preference. We all love to travel but airlines are almost universally villains in our minds. For a brief moment in time, West Jet made themselves out to be the only hero in an industry that is full of villains. That’s a huge accomplishment. Most airline marketing schemes are built on ride comfort or the lack of fees. This one was built on emotions…successfully. That is pretty amazing. West Jet seems to legitimately care about making people happy, not just getting their flight booked. (It is worth noting that Expedia has done a great job connecting emotionally but they are a travel service, not an airline.)

They Took Care of Kids

Not only did they take care of the kids, they reinforced their love for Santa. This jolly man in a blue suit (contrary to the Coca-Cola red) seemed to know the children. The only thing that he was missing was their deepest wishes. What he had was the ability to make them come true. To see the look of amazement on those children’s faces was worth the marketing dollars alone.

They Took Care of the Parents

The only thing that pulls at my heartstrings more than seeing a child get what they want is to see adults genuinely get lost in emotion when they feel loved by someone not required to love them. When that woman opened up the box to find her camera and was overcome with joy to get something that she may not have gotten were it not for West Jet really touched me. If you think that she’ll ever fly with another airline, I am willing to bet that you’d be wrong.

Product Placement

As a marketer, I can’t help but give props to West Jet for subtly giving the nod to Best Buy and others who helped them with this project. It never took away from West Jet but made us feel like the other stores were a part of making dreams come true as well.

It Was Authentic

This piece was absolutely brilliant because it was about a brand caring for people. Villains or not, we put airlines in charge of our safety and helping us reach out destinations to spend time with our friends, family and other loved ones. To truly make its customers feel like they take that responsibility seriously was amazing. I’ve watched the video four times already and I can confidentially say that I will fly with West Jet next time that I have the opportunity. Well done!

If you want to see another great piece of marketing taking place at an airport, might I recommend this piece from T-Mobile circa 2010:

 

Miley Cyrus Can’t Stop…Yet: A Look at the Marketing Genius Behind Her ‘Breakdown’

Miley Cyrus Marketing Genius

It’s funny. Just about a year ago there would have been people that didn’t know who I was talking about in that title. Now, thanks to a VMA performance that was so sexual that it made Robin Thicke seem uncomfortable, nobody can ignore the giant that is Miley Cyrus. Some people have remarked that this is the sign that Miley Cyrus is falling off of the deep end but I would argue that she’s far from lost. In fact, while she may have prostituted herself as Sinead O’Connor suggested, Miley and her team seems to be very much on top of her image. Let’s break down why her team are geniuses.

She Hasn’t Done Anything That Can’t be Undone

Alright, Miley may have shattered any hopes of a strong, famous female role model for our tween girls with one performance. She’s suggested that we do some Molly and told her writers that  she wanted”…something that just feels Black” but these aren’t unforgivable offenses. Miley hasn’t done anything that can’t be easily fixed. She doesn’t actually appear to have a serious drug problem. She hasn’t committed any acts of violence to date. She’s been nothing but kind to dogs. She hasn’t’ dropped a sex tape or forgot to wear underwear coming out of a cab. She hasn’t even desecrated a mop bucket.

Instead, she has just acted kind of slutty. She cut her hair…in a way that she still looks cute. She put out some decent hits and one horrible song. (23 is one of the worst songs I’ve heard in years.) She’s made a joke out of her own exploits. She’s even commented intelligently on censorship and other social topics.

I think that we can all agree that she’s done things that we would never want our own daughters to do, but she has yet to actually cross any lines that would cause her career long-term problems.

Numbers Don’t Lie

Every time Miley Cyrus does something new, we all can’t help but watch. Whether it’s curiosity, some form of Schadenfreude or as a fan; we’re instantly on YouTube searching her name whenever we hear that she’s done something new.

Miley’s biggest hit prior to this new image was Party in the USA. That video has a very impressive 355 million views in 4 years on YouTube. In 3 months and 4 weeks, We Can’t Stop and Wrecking Ball have already reached 227 million and 202 million views respectively.  While 23 is a horrible song, We Can’t Stop and Wrecking Ball are still topping Billboard and Spotify playlists. Her media coverage is off of the charts. She just hosted SNL and has been in a number of skits on Jimmy Kimmel Live and every other talk show that she’s wanted. Her views have never been higher, her coverage wider or or sales numbers larger. If money equals speech, the public has spoken in favor of Miley’s new persona.

Lastly, Who Doesn’t Love a Comeback

While it’s too soon for one right now, the only thing that America loves more than watching our celebrities fail is to see them come back, conquer the haters and rise above with class. Every fan that rooted for her during her moments of ‘insanity’ will be validated. Every hater whose only real objection was how she portrayed herself to the world will be thrilled to see young Miley find her way to her wholesome home again. If you think that she is big now, just wait until she takes her next steps.

While I’ll be secretly hoping that she starts idolizing Alicia Keys and rebels from her current Kei$ha/Rihanna-like image, I can only smirk when I think about the marketing genius that went into creating this persona that Miley may or may not think that she came up with on her own.

Since I like to end a lot of my articles with a smile, I hope that you enjoy this video from College Humor of construction workers reacting to Wrecking Ball.

Harry’s Gives a Shave: How Good Community Management Trumped Promotion Dollars

Harry's Takes on Dollar Shave Club and Wins

As a social media professional that works a lot with smaller brands, I find myself often trying to show how social media can boast a solid ROI and help with a  client’s branding efforts. Little did I know, one of the best case studies that I could use in a room would eventually come from me.

As a self-proclaimed up-and-coming young professional and established bachelor, I take pride in being a bit more stylish than the average young gun. My inbox is always full of emails from a variety of modern designers and online retailers that serve me up with gear that you don’t really see around my parts (Midwest). So, when it came time to add some class to my grooming, I narrowed it down to two brands that intrigued me: Harry’s and Dollar Shave Club.

Harry’s came on my radar when they were featured in GQ’s fashion issue (isn’t every issue a fashion issue?). I liked the simple design that exuded class. I’ve always been one for the idea that simplicity is a sign of confidence and class. Only the insecure need to adorn themselves with distracting accessories and bling. When I logged onto their site, I liked the tone of their content and the fact that they really seemed to “Give a Shave.” In an Instagram comment thread, they even told me that they loved me. Alas, they were a finalist to become my grooming partner.

Harry's Gives a Shave and Loves Tim Welsh

I’ve known about Dollar Shave Club since their historically viral marketing video hit. Obviously, I was immediately captivated by their marketing efforts and loved their comedic tone. I still do. What I didn’t know is that they had such a quality product. I got to try out their razors and new Shave Butter when they targeted me with a Klout Perk. I was pleasantly surprised by how high quality both products were. I had no problems sharing my enthusiasm about their products after getting that perk.

With two good brands and quality products staring me in the face, I didn’t know what to do. Being a social guy, I took my question to my friends. In a series of tweets, Instagram pictures and Facebook posts; I outlined that I loved both products. I told my friends/followers that Harry’s told me that they cared about me and Dollar Shave Club gave me free stuff. Sometimes though, I was deliberately vague on which did what. The reviews were mixed. People seemed to be equally placed on both sides of the fence.

Shave Butter | Dollar Shave Club

It all came down to one post. I was running out of blades, my spotty beard was starting to come through and I needed to place an order. I posted a photo on my Instagram account with the two faced off. Whoever won this round would win my business and my loyalty. A few hours after my post (see title picture), Harry’s was the first and only brand to respond to my photo. They didn’t hit me with a final sales pitch; they merely stated that they want what was best for me and they’d love me either way. Nailed it. I was happy to make my commitment to Harry’s and eager to let them know about my decision.

How big was the impact of a few comments on Instagram? Well, I have 4 months worth of Harry’s blades in my medicine cabinet and I plan on using them for the foreseeable future. I bought my dad The Winston Set and a few months of blades for Father’s Day. I’ve convinced a few of my work friends to convert to Harry’s. I’m writing this article.

Like I said, I like both products and I still endorse Dollar Shave Club anytime someone asks me about their quality, but I’m a Harry’s man now and forever. I guess that the moral of the story is, “When it comes to community management, never forget to Give a Shave.”

Conversations With Myself

I know that some of you have noticed that I haven’t been writing on this blog in quite some time. The reason why is two-fold. One, I have been given the pleasure of doing some guest spots. A couple of those were on the blog of the small start-up that many of you are aware that I have. The second reason is that I’ve been talking a lot to myself and neglecting you all. Sometimes I feel a lot like Oscar Wilde’s character in The Remarkable Rocket who said,

I often have long conversations all by myself, and I am so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a single word of what I am saying.

In any case, I do promise that I will spend more time sharing my innermost thoughts and ideas with you all.

Instagram Web Profiles: What does it mean for the future?

Instagram web profiles didn’t surprise anyone. Since it first started gaining popularity, we have all wondered how long it would take before web profiles were debuted. In fact, when we all started seeing our new profiles in November, the response was more “About time” than anything else. Many of my colleagues were more disappointed that it took this long than they were excited to see the new product. Even two months later, it seems like one question still hangs over all of our head, “What does this mean for the future?”

Facebook and Instagram Are Getting Serious

Instagram Web Profile | Tim Welsh

The relationship between Instagram and Facebook has been one that has been the topic of many blog posts in the industry. Will Instagram be given preferential treatment among all of the picture apps? Will Instagram’s love be exclusive to Facebook? Will Facebook simply steal some of the usability functions that Instagram has that Facebook’s photo applications have always failed to duplicate? While many of these questions still can’t be fully answered, it is clear that Facebook is setting the stage for a more integrated relationship with Instagram. Does anyone else find it curious that the new Instagram profile lays out in the same dimensions as the Facebook profile? Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if Facebook eventually gives you the option to have your Instagram header take the place of your cover photo in the near future. Other functions that I could see coming include the quick, “Set this Instagram picture as your Facebook profile picture” button and the beginnings of a Facebook-based gravatar.

Third Party Instagram Apps Aren’t Going AwayINK 361 Web Profile

While Instagram was taking their sweet time creating the desktop profile, the market started filling with third-party apps such as Statigram and (my personal favorite) Ink 361. These apps not only provided a place to view online Instagram profiles but a variety of other services such as keyword albums, statistics, map overlays and the ability to save jpegs. Much like the rest of us, third party suppliers were not surprised by the Instagram desktop profile. When I asked Carel van Apeldoorn, CEO of Ink 361, about the new profiles; he said, “No surprise at all and we have been preparing ourselves for this.  We strongly belief that the market is big enough for ink361 to remain valuable for the instagram community and a significant group of users, like there are a variety of services that connect and support twitter.” He went on to remark that while there may be limitations in Instagram’s current profiles, “The fact that the features on the current web version are limited doesn’t mean anything to me, because the guys at Instagram are extremely talented and focused and excellent in execution. We haven’t seen any crappy stuff coming from them and belief that they will remain delivering quality. That said, this new developments gives us an understanding of the way they like to take the experience on the web, and this clarity is useful for us.”

There Will Be New Players

There is always one truth when it comes to the digital space. A new player will emerge. The most obvious choice for the next BIG thing is Path, a service that many have been jumping on with in the industry. Perhaps though, people will start to love the new filters that Twitter is putting out, although I find that scenario far less likely.

5 Essential Browser Add-ons for the Digital Ninja

A lot of people fancy themselves to be ninjas these days. While I don’t know how I feel about the majority of these people claiming ninja status, it is still a trend. If you are claiming to be, or aspiring to be a ninja in the digital realm, you should at least exhibit the virtues of a ninja. Sometimes that means having the right tools. Online, these tools often come in the form of browser add-ons.

A Digital Ninja…

Knows Who He’s Talking To: Rapportive

Rapportive is a service that spies on the email addresses of those that you are talking to. If you want to see someone’s Twitter, Facebook and Rapportive Browser Add-onLinkedIn accounts, Rapportive allows you to do that. If their email is attached to their Twitter account, you can even see your contacts latest tweets.

There are limitations to Rapportive. If someone uses a different email address for their social media, you won’t be able to do any spying. In other words, if they use a lot of emails, you will probably have to do the typical searches to find profiles. That being said, Rapportive is free and an essential tool for any ninja.

Knows His Enemy’s Arsenal: Wappalyzer

Wappalyzer is another great free application. If you haven’t used it, Wappalyzer allows you to look into all of the technology that is ran on the site. For example, if you want to know what CMS is on a site, which analytics tools a site is using or which javaScript framework that they have; Wappalyzer will tell you. If you have any questions about a technology being used, just click on it and Wappalyzer will give you a quick rundown of that technology and how popular it is.

The main limitation for Wappalyzer is that it doesn’t have write ups for every single technology out there. It is always expanding but don’t be too surprised if Wappalyzer doesn’t have everything that you’d hope. Once again, it is a free service and anything that Wappalyzer doesn’t tell could be found in quick search.

Is Stealthy: Do Not Track Plus

I was just made aware of this add-on last week. It was designed by a group of people who believed that marketers and social media sites are evil spies who unapologetically track your every move. Alright. They are kind of right. I can admit that. As a marketer, I hate this add-on, but as a ninja, I love it.  This add-on blocks everything right down to Google Analytics.

I am not aware of the limitations of this add-on yet but I think that it’s interesting that DNT+ gives you medals for the amount of tracking software Do Not Track Plus Browser Add-onthat you block. I just added it to my Chrome browser but I’m anxious to earn my first medal.

Has Miscellaneous Knowledge: Quirk SearchStatus

When it comes to miscellaneous knowledge about a website, you won’t do better than the SearchStatus tool from Quirk. This application will give you a lot of insight into how a website is doing and who is behind it. From the basic Whois function to the amount of pages being indexed on major search engines, this tool is just simply valuable when you need general knowledge. It was my most used tool when I was an SEO Specialist and still one that I like to utilize on occasion when I’m examining the sites of prospective clients and/or competition.

The main weakness of this tool is that it can only find what is readily available. Any semi-savvy internet user could find the information that this tool will give you. It just makes finding that information faster and easier than it would be to do elsewhere on the internet.

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OH NO!!! I had a fifth add-on but it threw a smoke bomb and disappeared. That’s when you mess with ninja stuff. I guess that you’ll have to find your own way beyond this article. Happy hunting, ninjas!

Feel free to comment below with some of your favorite browser add-ons.

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