Author: Bonnie Harris

Grumpy Cat memeWhen it comes to the Internet, cute critters like Grumpy Cat and Boo the Pomeranian reign supreme. It's not just the adorable factor that gets the attention - and money - of legions of fans. Behind Grumpy and Boo are clever, well-orchestrated IMC campaigns that have propelled them beyond the fame of memes and viral videos to global stardom resulting in books, calendars, stuffed toys and most important, revenue.  Most Internet-famous pets come from humble beginnings, like an unassuming YouTube video, a #CatsOfInstagram Instagram account or a casual Facebook post. Some enjoy 15 minutes of fame and fade into the scenery. Others enjoy long-term success, but only with help from marketing and communications tactics. Here are the IMC secrets that have kept both Grumpy and Boo top of mind in this cluttered pet market. 1. Traditional public relations coupled with social media. Grumpy Cat would not be the sensation she is without an incredibly strong social media presence, coupled with enough PR savvy to launch a media tour including office visits at outlets like Buzzfeed. Not long after she gained popularity online, she was front page news in The Wall Street Journal and New York magazine. She's also been a star on the stage of major events like SXSW, reminding us that being "on the ground" is still an important part of the mix. Boo the Pomeranian, aka "The Cutest Dog in the World," is another great example of IMC in action. 2. Product associations.

5 reasons to use a project management tool for your next marketing campaign. http://wp.me/p61i5y-1LLOne more sign pointing to the convergence of IT and marketing is there are increasingly more communications professionals interested in project management training or even Project Manager Development Program (PMDP) certification. It’s no secret that integrated marketing involves a level of detail beyond most traditional campaigns. Multiple messaging channels, diverse audiences and the need for real-time engagement and an enhanced customer experience all contribute to a greater need for project management skills. Running a successful integrated marketing communications (IMC) project requires sophisticated planning, and implementation mechanisms are challenging, and time-consuming, to create manually. Learning and adopting a strong online project management tool into an integrated communications practice can be the difference between a good marketing campaign and a great one. Here are five reasons why project management tools make sense, particularly for integrated marketers.
  1. Project management tools require the design of a careful plan. Project management and business solution technology is what forces marketers to think about the goals that need to be accomplished during the campaign, not just at the end. These tools (and the project overall) are much more efficient if tasks are broken down into manageable increments, usually those that can be accomplished in two weeks or less. Better planning means a better campaign.
  2. Complex integration is automatic within a project management tool. With IMC, timing is everything. Synchronizing an integrated marketing campaign requires paying careful attention to the sequence of components. However, IMC is also about understanding thedependencies between those components. Examining a project from both its linear progression, as well as its interdependencies, can be a complex task if done manually. The right project management tool will handle this automatically and allow more time to test those dependencies and sequences to determine what works and what doesn’t.
  3. Online collaboration within a project management tool delivers immediate communication to team members. Project managers (and let’s face it, modern marketers are just that) need to know who’s on track with their tasks and, more importantly, those who are behind. An online project management tool enables managers to quickly track progress without having to waste time and energy chasing down status reports. This kind of early warning helps balance the task load and eliminate risk.
  4. Project management tools store the latest information. Important documents like content/frequency charts, editorial calendars and other materials can be immediately updated, shared and saved in one location. The ability to log into an online dashboard to access the latest versions can be a lifesaver and helps keep all team members on the same page – sometimes literally.
  5. Reporting is simple with a project management tool. Clients and superiors might request status updates on short notice. The ability to quantitatively report that progress easily helps provide accurate, professional status reports without a lot of spreadsheet updating or writing.  Overall status can be ascertained at a glance with a good project management tool so you’re not left scrambling at the last minute.

TV ads for small businessThe average price of a Super Bowl ad swelled to $4.5 million for a 30-second ad, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal. This reflects a 75 percent increase in Super Bowl ad prices over the last decade. Fortunately for small business owners, you don’t need a few million dollars to produce a quality ad. An article by Direct TV suggests you can produce and air a local commercial for under $1,000 depending on your budget, air time and goals. While there isn’t an exact science to getting started in TV advertising for small businesses, there are ways to streamline the process and stay on budget.

Identify your goals

Before calling TV stations and production studios, sit down and map out your goals. If you’re launching a business, plan an advertising campaign around announcing your services and raising brand awareness. But if you're promoting a product, you should refine your messaging, determine your target audience for the specific campaign and develop a client avatar to help envision who will see the ad and what will appeal to those viewers. Unless you need to reach a global audience, scale down to local advertising to refine your messaging and keep your budget on track. Ask your marketing team to come up with a plan for how often the ad should run to decide if consistent or periodic exposure works best for your needs and length of your promotion.

Advertise on cable for less

Pumpkin spice is big business. The first reference to what we now know as "pumpkin spice" can be traced back to 1796. That's the year Amelia Simmons published American Cookery, often regarded as the nation's first cookbook. In it she includes a recipe for "pompkin pudding," a pie made with stewed pumpkin and spiced with ginger and nutmeg. It represents a sense of goodness, natural abundance and old values that people think are good. Which is why pumpkin spice lattes bring equal parts devotion and disdain. More importantly pumpkin spice delivers a powerful marketing punch every fall.  According to Nielsen sales of pumpkin-infused foods and drinks are up 79 percent since 2011. It's now a $361 million dollar business. Social media intelligence technology provider Infegy even released a report that uses social media data to explain the widespread success behind this bestselling seasonal flavor options and explains how it can be used to better understand consumers, brand loyalty, purchase intent and more. The pumpkin spice latte now means more than coffee spiked with pumpkin and cinnamon. What started as a drink has now come to represent a certain fall-centric lifestyle thanks to IMC heavyweight Starbucks.

3 things all great digital marketers know, that you should too if you want to capture the power of integrated marketing. Online promotion and customer activity tracking have changed the face of marketing forever, that's a given. As a result of this I'm seeing some disturbing trends in digital marketing including a strong bias against  elements of marketing that have always packed a powerful punch. Every day there's a new digital "expert" telling me that numbers don't lie. Or that I need to add a tactic within my marketing strategy that is counter-intuitive to the overall plan, mainly because another digital marketing campaign found success using that tactic. I'm grateful to have the pleasure of working with true geniuses in the field of digital marketing. Here are three things really great digital marketers all understand  about integrated marketing: 1. Numbers are only half the story. Anyone who's done a ton of A/B testing will tell you there are some really weird subject lines and promotions that take off like a rocket. And we don't always know why. Great digital marketers know you have to throw in a few wild cards, particularly at the beginning of the campaign, because what the numbers will tell you will work, isn't always what works.  Numbers, plus experience and a bit of gut feel or intuition will always give you the best result. 2. Traditional media is still relevant. A lot of folks on the digital side look down their nose at print, network TV, direct marketing and other forms of traditional advertising and PR. Great digital marketers know that the best results (and this holds true for my IMC campaigns as well) result when there is an attempt to create synergy between digital tactics and traditional media. It may not be as glamorous as content marketing right now, but a good hit on local TV will always deliver for consumer brands. Learn how to synchronize digital tactics with these efforts, and they can provide a tremendous boost for online results.

jet-logo"Let's turn customers' shopping carts into improvised videos." It's an idea so brilliantly quirky as to border on insane - but Jet.com's one-day branding spectacular is one of the best examples of integrated marketing communications in action I've seen recently. The premise of the campaign, called #JetSpree, was simple but groundbreaking. One day only, during predefined hours, Jet.com asked shoppers for permission to turn their shopping carts into what they called "on-the-spot video." In essence, their purchases would be used as the inspiration for videos involving double dutch jump roping, a barbershop quartet, pantomime, yodeling, improv comedy, dancing toys and even a turtle. The videos were then shared on YouTube and social media during the event.

IMC campaign of the monthWhat happens when advertising creatives fed up with gender inequality brainstorm a creative way to draw attention to the problem? In Brazil, what happens is Cerveja Feminista, or Feminist Beer. And it’s our IMC campaign of the month. In Brazil, 65% of women feel they are not represented by ads and a mere 10% of advertising creatives are female. Inspired by this, the creators behind Cerveja Feminista also founded the activism group 65|10 to work in tandem with the beer to raise awareness and combat inequality in their country. Cerveja Feminista is a brilliant example of cause marketing though its motives are more altruistic than profit-driven. It’s also a strong example of good branding, careful audience analysis, clever advertising, public relations and social media working in an integrated fashion. As one would expect from a group of creatives, the beer itself is well branded down to the color of the ale inside the bottle – an Irish red, chosen because red is the color associated with social causes. Plus, red ale falls between the typically “male” dark beers and “female” pale beers. It’s intended to attract both genders equally, showing an understanding of ideal buyers that is the cornerstone of good IMC. The logo is simple and hip, appealing to the current generation of savvy beer drinkers. What’s more, the actual idea of choosing beer as the product to highlight 65|10’s cause is extremely smart. There are few things as stereotypically sexist as beer ads. That Cerveja Feminista hits hard at a market saturated with big brands targeting a largely male audience with demeaning messages about women is a bold move, and one that’s garnering a lot of media attention. What’s more, Cerveja Feminista’s creators are banking on the fact that the beer’s label itself will spark meaningful discussion about gender inequality. One of the founders, Thais Fabris, explained to Co.Exist,

drink-20565_1280Although most marketers accept that integrating marketing communications is a powerful approach, campaigns today seldom realize the full power of the methodology commonly known as IMC. Most of us  synchronize our earned and owned media in some way.  Many of us have learned empirically the right combinations of tactics that lead to the most engagement, or the highest landing page traffic. What’s often missing in campaigns is the ability to plan, manage and measure the synergy that occurs as a result of powerful IMC strategies and strong linked tactics.  It’s the acceleration caused by this synergy – the combination of marketing efforts that add up to more than the sum of their parts – that provides the best results. Synergy looks and feels different in every IMC campaign. The good news is there are common elements to successful IMC campaigns that result in increased synergy.  The first is message alignment. IMC requires a persistent, consistent messaging strategy across channels. A core, or integrated, strategy statement should drive every campaign message. This statement is rarely shared with an audience. It is simple, to the point, and states what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.  For a healthcare practice, it might be something like “We’re here to provide the best care in a safe environment.” An organic food company might use “Delivering the healthiest products to families.” Every single message should be aligned with this basic message. Another important ingredient to powerful IMC campaigns is of course to choose the best combination of messaging channels.  Most people understand the importance of selecting channels that are right for the target audience.  However, it is crucial to select a set of secondary channels that boost the performance of the overall campaign.  If you think about it, you know which messaging channels complement each other. It can be as simple as automatically linking your Instagram account to Facebook, or as complicated as buying digital billboards to supplement a PSA. The selection of channels is part of creating a strong IMC strategy.  Too many projects are defined with only goals and tactics, without the strategies that provide the bridge in between. A good strategy  should be a consistent, long-term part of an IMC plan. A good strategy allows for changing tactics that are not working, without losing the direction of the campaign. Part of the beauty of IMC is that

twitterI don't know about you but social media for B2B feels a lot more like a pain in the arse than a marketing tool at times. To establish the right goals (which do NOT, by the way only include your follower numbers or engagement percentages) I always need to remember why I like Twitter in the first place. That kind of resets my social media mojo when I'm buried in some ungodly Buzzsumo list looking for good content. Here are top 5 reasons I like Twitter for B2B right here, right now. 1. Twitter is great for earned media. Journalists seem to feel safer in Twitter, likely due to the 140 character limit. I find them in Twitter and I quickly tweet them that I might have good stuff coming their way from time to time. Twitter is also the ultimate platform for helping media spread their own reach as well. Help them before they help you. 2. Twitter grows website search traffic and provides great branding at the same time. Keep an eye on your Twitter referrals in Google Analytics and be conscious about sending them to specific landing pages and posts. I think of Twitter as my online billboard. A lot of people see it in "drive by mode" as they scroll through a feed. That's okay, they don't always have to click through.  Twitter is great for conversions but it's great for providing additional brand impressions also. 3. Twitter boosts your LinkedIn performance.