Tag Archives: branding

Marketing Lessons From The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”

Last week’s 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band found me enjoying listening to the classic album by The Beatles. I’ve loved this album for as long as I can remember.  As a kid my older brother, Sean and I would put it on and listen to the entire album, reading the lyrics and liner notes, looking at inserts and wanting to cut them out.  

Fast forward to today and I find myself listening to the album and hearing these marketing lessons that I have listed out.  Each song seemed to have a specific marketing lesson that relates strongly to my work life, echoing best practices and marketing strategy and tactics.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

We’re Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
We hope you will enjoy the show

It’s wonderful to be here
It’s certainly a thrill
You’re such a lovely audience
We’d like to take you home with us
We’d love to take you home

Starting with the opening track, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles remind of us an important lesson.  Establish your brand and its promise.  Straight up, this is who we are and this is what you should expect of us.  You always have to establish these two points when communicating with your audience.

Both Apple and Google have established themselves as global top brands.  Google’s brand is so synonimous with its original feature, search, that most people say “Google it”.

With A Little Help From My Friends

Oh I get by with a little help from my friends
Mm gonna try with a little help from my friends
Oh I get high with a little help from my friends
Yes I get by with a little help from my friends
With a little help from my friends

Great marketing campaigns are a result of strong collaboration, both internally and externally.  Internally we need to collaborate with our teams of copywriters, designers, developers, process owners, strategists, executives and other employees.  Externally we have partners, influencers, analysts, customers and prospects that we collaborate with in order to succeed.  

According to a recent Bizable State of Pipeline Marketing report22.2% of respondents said that word-of-mouth referrals have the greatest impact on revenue, the most of any marketing channel or activity.

Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds

Picture yourself in a boat on a river
With tangerine trees and marmalade skies
Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly
A girl with kaleidoscope eyes

What we would all give for a copywriter that comes up with some as beautiful as the imagery painted by John Lennon! Lucy reminds us that we all have to tap into our creative talents to create expressions that attracts and we hope, admiration from our audiences.  John Lennon’s song based on his child’s drawing about his school friend, Lucy, illustrates creative that breaks tradition in order to create something new and different and gets the audience’s attention.  Albeit the audience thought Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds was a veiled reference to LSD!

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds by Julian Lennon, Age 3

Getting Better

I’ve got to admit it’s getting better (Better)
A little better all the time (It can’t get more worse)

Getting better? Sounds like marketing optimization to me! From data quality issues to tracking and measuring, digital marketing today keeps you on your toes in terms of room for improvement.  As we continuously improve and optimize we are moving forward in our sophistication.  

Always challenging due to the search engines shifting algorithms, we’ve witnessed search moving to mobile devices that dominate the search volume.

Fixing a Hole

I’m fixing a hole where the rain gets in
And stops my mind from wandering
Where it will go

Just as you’re getting better in your data and optimization, there’s still holes to fix! When you find errors in the data or the process, you have to determine if it’s a big enough hole that needs attention now or it can wait.  

Also, are we fixing a hole for our customers? The answer to this question frames our strategy, messaging and content around the brand’s performances against the promise.

She’s Leaving Home

She (We gave her most of our lives)
Is leaving (Sacrificed most of our lives)
Home (We gave her everything money could buy)
She’s leaving home after living alone
For so many years (Bye bye)

One of the most important areas that is overlooked by marketing teams is when and why we lose customers. Unsubscribes to non-renewals, losing a customer or prospects is a great learning opportunity.  A well designed subscription center, coupled with follow up surveys can provide insight and areas of customer frustration you’re not aware of.

Speaking of the unsubscribe page, this is the missed opportunity of the majority of marketing departments. Check out the video Groupon created for their unsubscribe page.

Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite

For the benefit of Mr. Kite
There will be a show tonight on trampoline
The Hendersons will all be there
Late of Pablo Fanques Fair, what a scene!

Based on an 1843 circus poster John Lennon saw in a London store, he crafted another glorious creative song that reminds us of one of the most important marketing lessons, showmanship!  Don’t be afraid to tell your audience what you do and why you’re awesome!  You have to sell the steak and the sizzle in a way that excites your audience not just informs them.

19th-century circus poster for Pablo Fanque’s Circus Royal appearance at Rochdale. John Lennon purchased the poster in an antique shop on 31 January 1967

Within You Without You

We were talking about the space between us all
And the people who hide themselves behind a wall of illusion

Over time I’ve grown to love George Harrison’s Indian influence in this song. Now I see how it tells us to experiment, try different things to see what works and resonates with your audience.  The challenge to transcend the safe approach and connect on a different level. Step outside your zone from time to time, it could pay off big!

When I’m Sixty-Four

When I get older losing my hair
Many years from now
Will you still be sending me a valentine
Birthday greetings, bottle of wine?

Don’t we wish our customers asked questions like these? Wanting to know how long we’ll be there for them? We all know it’s easier to keep a customer than acquire a new one. This song speaks volumes about maintaining long term relationships with our customers.  All we need is an answer to the question of will we be there when we’re needed. Heck, Paul even says “Fill out a Form!”

Send me a postcard, drop me a line
Stating point of view
Indicate precisely what you mean to say
Yours sincerely, wasting away
Give me your answer, fill in a form


Lovely Rita

Took her out and tried to win her
Had a laugh and over dinner
Told her I would really like to see her again

Lovely Rita is all about the lead generation and acquisition. Courting our prospects to become leads and eventually customers is what marketing is all about in today’s digital economy.  Rita being the object of affection in the song represents those desirable prospects that we spend a large amount of our time trying to get their attention and start a conversation.  

The cutout inserts from Sgt. Pepper

Good Morning, Good Morning

Nothing to say but what a day how’s your boy been
Nothing to do it’s up to you
I’ve got nothing to say but it’s OK
Good morning, good morning

Maintaining the right communication cadence with your audiences is a real science to marketing.  For both existing and potential customers we have to let the know we’re interested in what they have to say and the power to make the decisions rest in their hands.  From learning where your onboarding program is confusing to who’s delivering real customer value on your team, communicating with our customers is vital.

Sgt. Peppers Reprise

We’re Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
We hope you have enjoyed the show

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
We’d like to thank you once again

How many times can we thank our customers, influencers and fans? Never enough! In the reprise of the title track, The Beatles again thank us for being their audience. A lesson we can over look in marketing if we’re not careful.  You can never thank your customers too much if it’s relative to them and their success. Of course the Thank You Page is a great way to thank your customers as well as offer them something else of interest.

A Day in The Life

Found my coat and grabbed my hat
Made the bus in seconds flat
Found my way upstairs and had a smoke
And somebody spoke and I went into a dream

Every day we’re frantic and hectic at work, in our life and trying to keep up with all our life’s demands.  This opus end by The Beatles tells us how important the customer experience is.  We have to put ourselves in the customer’s shoes and try to best understand their challenges. Then we have an opportunity to create a unique and satisfying customer experience that delights our audiences the way The Beatles did.

Is Glassdoor Killing Your Recruiting?

If you’re not familiar with Glassdoor then it’s the first site you need to visit after reading this post. What Google Review and Yelp are to local retailers, restaurants and bars, Glassdoor is to companies.

Glassdoor has several typical features of HR/employment sites: job board listings, corporate profiles, list of the best places to work for. But the one feature that sets it apart from the other job sites is that it lists employee reviews that give you a more realistic view of the company culture and management styles.

I first became aware of Glassdoor around 2012 when one of the company recruiters brought it to my attention. The problem was that the company was receiving more negative reviews than positive ones. The HR team did not know what to do and was asking for help.

My first response was the same that I give local business owners, read the reviews, address them and respond in an the same way as you would do with a customer in your store on on the phone. However it’s a bit different when you have employees instead of customers.

Much like consumer review websites there are some basic trends to look for.

  • Negative vs. Positive reviews ratio: Most reviewers tend to either love or hate your company, product, etc. People who think it’s OK don’t spend time writing reviews to post a neutral rating.
  • A good ratio to target 70% positive to 30% negative. Remember you can’t please everyone and a few negative reviews is normal.

Glassdoor allows for an employer response to each of the employee reviews. This is an appropriate place to respond to any extreme allegations or update bad policies or practices that have changed. Also it’s an opportunity for the company to let the employee know they have received their message.

What you should NOT do is have HR post glowing reviews trying to counter the overall employee satisfaction rating. The satisfaction rating is based on the average of all reviews and alerts Glassdoor visitors with various messages like “employees are generally happy” or “employees are dissatisfied”.

Glassdoor also allows companies, for a fee, to customize their company page with links to social sites, video embeds and other rich media to give visitors a more well-rounded view of the company.  One item I noticed is that the reviews can be highlighted and moved up front.  Congrats to Glassdoor for putting in notification above such reviews stating it’s a featured review.

Why You Need to Pay Attention to Glassdoor Reviews

First and foremost you need to see what your employees are saying. Like any other review site, Glassdoor has the extreme haters and lovers of companies. And you can sometimes throw out the extreme reviews to see what the middle ground is saying. So after removing the lovers and haters, do you find the majority of reviews to be negative with one or two management complaints frequently appearing in the comments?

If so then you have some issues to deal with. Many companies still ignore this feedback which is a really stupid thing to do. This feedback is unsolicited, unlike most company employee surveys. If a employee writes a negative review, they are not just angry. They don’t want others to end up like them. Most likely they do not plan on staying for long since they have poisoned the recruiting well to bring in new talent the company needs.

Another tactic to avoid is to have the HR folks write posts that say the negative reviewers are “whiners.” Don’t laugh, as I’ve seen it happen and other reviewers even call out the HR reviewers. All this does is create doubt in your recruits mind. Is this company really as great as they say they are? Did they post this review calling upset employees whiners?

I’ve even been told by potential hires that they were reluctant to accept a position based on negative Glassdoor reviews.

Another interesting facet of Glassdoor is that you can also review the interview process. I mean how sick are you of HR never calling you back, never letting you know if you’re still in consideration for that job? Although not as many interview reviews are written, it does give you an opportunity to prepare and get an inside look at the review process.

Remember an interview is not only to sell yourself as the best candidate for the job. It’s also an opportunity for you to determine if this company is right for you. If the corporate culture is not what you’re seeking do you want to work at the company?

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.

How AT&T Could Have Used Social Media During Crisis

AT&T U-verse outage demonstrates lack of social media marketing and public relationsThis week AT&T had a massive outage of its U-verse network that offers voice, digital cable and high speed Internet to consumers and businesses. This most recent fiasco has further tarnished the AT&T brand that it appears the company has either given up on PR and customer service or does not have a strong and savvy management team in place to deal with the challenges of being a major communications company.

In the most recent chapter of the ongoing AT&T saga, a total lack of understanding of the ability to communicate to customers, media and the public was evident. With social media there is a clear channel beyond calling customer service to easily facilitate broadcast messages to an engaged audience.

I was actually affected by the outage and followed AT&T’s actions and lack off during the most crucial times. Customers began experiencing service disruptions on Monday. My service died sometime Monday night after I went to bed. Noticing the error we contacted the company on Monday and were informed that there was a widespread outage for Uverse and that North Carolina was not being affected according to the representative.

My wife then went to Twitter and saw that other customers in NC were affected. I immediately looked at the Twitter chatter and noticed that despite a flood of customers asking for information the company just issued a standard, we’re having problems tweet. If you look at the stream below captured on Jan 24, 2013 AT&T U-verse social media and PR team did not utilize Twitter as frequently or early on during the crisis.

AT&T U-verse Twitter stream during network outage was poor to weak at best
AT&T U-verse Twitter stream during network outage was poor to weak at best.
AT&T’s communication and reaction on Facebook was just as poor.  For the whole first day of the outage the company only had a simple post about MLK holiday.  All day Tuesday as customers were asking what was happening the company did not up a single post.  Then on Wednesday 2 posts. One that said the problem was related to hardware issues, the next saying that it was software issue.  To add insult to injury they tried to downplay the size of the problem stating that the outage was only affecting 1% of customers.  This clearly did not seem to be the problem as outages were reporting across several states.

AT&T U-verse Facebook Page was poorly utilized during crisis. What little information shared appeared inaccurate and unclear to customers.
AT&T U-verse Facebook Page was poorly utilized during crisis. What little information shared appeared inaccurate and unclear to customers.
By Wednesday evening several customers were asking AT&T why there were not communicating using social media and other digital communication channels like email and text to keep customers informed.  Between the trickle of information on social media and what appeared to be radio silence on text and email AT&T just feed the customer frustration fire that gets flamed with viral reposts, likes and sharing on social networks.  I think most customers including myself would understand that shit happens and sometimes, major network fails can occur.

Affected ATT U-Verse customers were pleading for information and receiving nothing substantial.
Affected ATT U-Verse customers were pleading for information and receiving nothing substantial.
What customers don’t want is to be ignored during a crisis.  They want transparency and clear communication as to what the status is and anticipated recovery time.  The majority of your customers will be satisfied with confident and timely communications.  What amazes me is that we are at a point in time where using social media and digital communication should be primary part of crisis communication plan.  You would think that someone at AT&T had to either be asleep at the wheel or choosing not to participate in the discussion.  Either way it’s another PR black eye for the communications company.

Trends from Randi Zuckerberg, Former Director of Marketing at Facebook

Randi Zuckerberg, former Marketing Director at FacebookLast month I had the opportunity to meet and hear Randi Zuckerberg speak at Meredith College. Randi was visiting the campus to receive the President’s Award and deliver the 2012 Woman of Achievement Lecture. Prior to the event I was able to attend the VIP reception thanks to my wife (@mcdezigns) who won the Meredith Facebook contest.

Randi Zuckerberg is the former head of marketing at Facebook and brother to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and the next american billionaire. She left her advertising agency job to work with Mark when he was at Harvard to help him launch Facebook and was with the company until last fall. During her tenure she was able to see the development of Facebook and help with the launch of several of the platforms features.

Randi stated that she changes her presentation based on current trends and that it can change on a monthly basis. The top trends she discussed were:

  • The sharing economy: social media has created a more caring community that shares resources instead of hoarding them.
  • People as platforms: the ability for individuals to generate a fan followiong rapidly.
  • Gamification of health and fitness: apps like Gym-Pact reward healthy behavior.
  • Crowdsourcing: Kickstart is funding more projects than the NEA. Logos and corporate identity are being generated by sites like 99 Designs.
  • Cover photos are making statements: people and brands are having fun with photos and creating a billboard type impression on Facebook. Examples include Girl Scout Cookies and Obama’s campaign pages.
  • Mobile first: new technology is being designed only for use as a mobile app without a formal website. These new apps are building one use case really well versus a whole site.
  • Curation is creating experts from individuals that never write, paint or create unique content. Sites like Pinterest allow users to create a strong following based off their taste not their own content.
  • Creating social moments: what if you could recreate the Home Shopping Network within Facebook with real time stats on friends purchases?
  • The opportunity to create more social moments via live blogging (which I wish I had known that there was WiFi at the event, I would have live blogged this post!).
  • Philanthropy is offering brands the opportunity to dip their toes into social media by matching contributions or having contests. Target asked its fans to pick which charity they would give their annual donation to by voting on Facebook.

Overall I was very impressed with Randi both on a personal and professional level. She was very approachable when I had the opportunity to meet her before the event and I enjoyed discussing strategy with her. After seeing her speak to the crowd you could tell that she was a savvy marketing professional that understood that technology is cool but you need to provide value. Technology for wow factor fades fast.

I would like to thank Meredith College for bringing Randi to the Triangle as the event was free to the public.


How Social Is Your TV?

At the February Triangle Social Media Club event I had my eyes opened to the world of “social TV.”  The speakers were Gregory Ng (@gregoryng), Tim Arthur (@timarthur), Damond Nollan (@damondnollan) and the MC was Ryan Boyles (@therab).  The panel showed what their entertainment centers consisted of, their top 5 shows and one guilty pleasure as well as shared insights, wants and desires of social TV.

Social TV integrates social networks and television, movie and music habitsThe rise of digital enabled devices has allowed for greater integration of social networks and websites with our TVs.  All four on the panel had a gaming device such as Wii or Xbox to stream video but the setups were different in other areas.  For instance Damond’s strategy was to reduce his monthly entertainment expense while allowing everyone in his household to have their own streaming device.  While Greg preferred to subscribe to Direct TV for sports as well as the ability to watch live events as they happen.

The presentation embedded at the end of this post gives a great view into the different setups.  The panel also listed their favorite shows and guilty pleasures.  All four panelists picked “The Walking Dead” as one of their top 5 shows.  While I’m not a fan of Zombie genre, I was interested to learn why they were enthusiastic.  The show had a big following and even the largest cable debut of the season.  Combined with fan chats, celebrity after show appearances; The Walking Dead created a community of fans and a forum.

That’s where social TV has real potential.  It’s one thing to check in to a show and share that on Twitter and Facebook.  This can lead to shared interests among your social circle.  But where it takes off is creating a true fan community that works similar to bulletin board forums of the early 90s.  Ryan explained how super fans create private blogs on Tumblr with their own language and rely heavily on aliases.  Most best practices posts will tell you to be authentic, but in the world of social TV DISQUS did research that showed that alias communities had greater interaction and participation.

What does all of this mean to marketing and advertising folk like me? It represents a new opportunity to build relationships with fans in a new way.  While Ryan recanted GaryVee’s mantra of “marketing ruins everything” it does not have to.  The panel discussed how media companies can build respect and report with users versus just selling to them.  For instance, what if a social TV app could provide live channel notifications and share that among friends?  The idea that sharing old school living room experience allows for more intimate content and engagement with a global audience is truly unique.

Tonight the Oscars is being broadcast and I’ve already seen hype around the fact that this will be the most social and interactive award show to date.  That’s an easy claim if the majority of last year’s activity was Twitter and Facebook chatter.  But as social TV develops there is opportunity to engage fans and talent in real time.

I want to thank Ryan for hosting the panel and sharing the presentation on his SlideShare space as well as the other panelists for sharing their frank and honest views on the tools, technology and changing landscape of social TV!  Plus Greg’s guilty pleasure of “I Didn’t Know I was Pregnant” was classic!  Also I was finally able to meet Tim Arthur in person after several months of chatting on Twitter and blogs and found out that we have many similar interests including Breaking Bad and Californication, two of my favorite shows!  Also thanks to WNCN NBC 17 for hosting the event and studio tour from Kim Green @producingk.