This is a guest post by Mandy Miller. Follow her on Twitter at@MandyMayM.
No, it’s not a tarmac full of juiced-up jets or a platform where models walk in spacesuits. After New York Fashion Week, London Fashion Week and now Milan Fashion Week, all the talk has been of the social future of fashion. Soon, designers and buyers won’t have to dress up to go out. They can just kick it in some (high-dollar) fashionable sweats and view shows from the comfort of their own homes.
Currently, we’re all aware of the streaming Twitter feeds and communities raving about the trends, colors, patterns, etc. out of the fashion shows. Consumers are more involved in the runway, and we’re sharing and exchanging information on trends and topics faster than ever. However, before we know it, you will be able to view all angles of the show (perhaps even behind the scenes?), getting an experience like never before.
TIME recently reported that KCD introduced the first of its online-only shows with designer Prabal Gurung’s collaboration with Japanese retailer ICB label. The shows are translated into different languages for overseas editors and have been designed for over-booked editors and buyers by invite-only (I knew there was a catch!). Editors get a pre-taped runway show with online-embedding capabilities, high-resolution photos, interviews of the designer and behind-the-scenes footage of hair and makeup.
While still in its infancy, I believe platforms like this will be the future of fashion. Let’s admit it, editors and buyers are dealing with volumes of information they never have before, as are consumers. On top of that, budgets are tight, especially for travel. While the ‘modeling’ part of the runway won’t cease to exist, the pressures to coordinate shows and attend/view them on time are on their way out. Fashion will literally be tailored (pun intended) to you. You can view what you want, at many angles, when you want and interact with the show in so many more ways than at an ‘old school’ fashion show.
I also see this beginning to mold in with the trends we are seeing very broadly with eCommerce and more specifically with eRetailing. As consumers, we drive retailers and their decisions, especially online. Although we are shopping more online, that doesn’t eliminate our demand for the best shopping and customer service experience. There is still a presentation pressure that we place on retailers – urging them to provide the best shopping experience, even out of the bricks and mortar store. Situations such as the Target’s release of the Missoni line and resulting lack of store inventory and crashed server is a prime example of a shopping experience gone wrong. As our apparel industry becomes more digital and online, we will be able to not only exchange information at high-speed levels, but we will also be able to track it much faster. Not to worry, though – models will still appear to be terrifying with their hairsprayed craniums and funeral makeup (or a barcode on their forehead).
What other trends are you seeing for the future of fashion? How do you think this will integrate in with eCommerce and eRetailing?
This is a guest post by Nate Towne. Follow him on Twitter @Fancy_Lad.
You came back (By the gods, you need a hobby.)! But I’m glad you did return, because here’s where the rubber really meets the road when it comes to using Pinterest for business. Got a great product? A smashing storefront? The world’s biggest/largest/bestest thing ever, yet nobody seems to know or care about your brand? Pinterest to the rescue! Your brand can use the power of Pinterest to see and be seen, here are a few tips to get your Pinterest juices flowing…
Crowdsourcing! Creating a new logo? Designing a new package? Frosting a cupcake? Share your designs with the world and ask your fellow Pinheads to pick ‘em apart. By providing a range of options, you can see which designs get the most love. It’s just one more way to milk the feedback machine for all it’s worth. And oh, it’s worth it, believe you me. It’s like harnessing the commenting power of Facebook, but it’s interesting and not about a stupid farming game. Yes, THAT game. Ugh.
Give Props: Do you have a customer or client you just love? Pin their stuff and show them the love. They’ll see that you’re pimping them and will likely pimp you in return. You already do this in the real world (it’s called a “referral”) but I swear it’s much more fun on Pinterest. (User tip: if you add a “@” in front of a Pinhead’s name, the user will receive a notification of your love. Now that’s special!)
Play Well With Others: You can lighten the load on yourself by adding contributors to your pinboards. It’s the perfect way to showcase your intern’s quirkiness or highlight one of your favorite business partners. It’s super easy to collaborate on Pinterest, far easier than Facebook.
Recon: What the heck is that florist down the street doing that you’re not? How come THAT cupcake shop has crazy sales? Follow the boards of your competitors and others your brand aspires to become and “borrow” the best of the best – and leave the rest.
Okay, that’s enough for you to get started I think. But before you do, you need to ask yourself:
It’s cool, but is it appropriate for my business?
It’s cool, but is there a return on investment for all my hard work?
It’s cool (sense a theme?), but do I have the time?
If you answered “Yes! YES! OMG YES!” to questions #1 and #2, you’re ready to jump in (You’re also way too excited, so settle down.). If you’re on the fence with #3, you can still dip a toe in the water by creating a personal account first, and see what all the fuss is about. Then after you’re hooked, you can do a deeper dive. If you “set it and forget it” it’s probably not for you. Which is sad. ‘cause it’s REALLY cool. That is all – carry on.
This is a guest post by Nate Towne. Follow him on Twitter @Fancy_Lad.
So you’re considering Pinterest for your business are you? Well you’re not alone! As my last Pinterest post propounded, Pinterest has more than four million users and is growing each and every day. It’s the “hot new shiny toy” of the social media sites – which doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right for your brand. After all, thousands of people get their naughty bits pierced each year – that doesn’t mean you should, too (Or does it?). So if you are considering jumping on the Pinterest bandwagon for business, here are some insights to help you make an informed decision.
We can all agree Pinterest is pretty darn cool, but as responsible marketers, we must ask: is it right for your brand? If you’ve got some awesome visuals or products to share with the world, the answer is: yes. Whole Foods, Martha Stewart Living (R.I.P!), Better Homes & Gardens, Bergdorf Goodman – they all have Pinterest accounts, and more brands are joining each day. While the wedding , fashion and design industries appear to be leading the charge, there are many uses for any business – provided it sells something that is visually compelling, provided you want people to share your stuff online and provided you have the time to handle building and maintaining a Pinterest account (That’s a post for another time my dears.).
Pinterest is easy to use, which is yet another reason it’s great for businesses (Why, even my mother could figure it out, if she could put down her glass of wine.). It’s a website, it’s a search engine browser button, it’s an app – it’s everything you want it to be and everywhere your customers like to hang. You can login using Facebook or Twitter, you can take pictures and upload them to your pinboards – which can be customized according to your tastes. Yes Virginia, you can have a pinboard dedicated to burnt toast art. Whatever floats your boat!
So to make a long blog even longer, let’s cut to the chase. How can brands use Pinterest to boost the bottom line? Here are some thoughts to discuss amongst yourselves at the water cooler:
Share Your Look for Less: Creating virtual “Look Books” or reference boards to share with other Pinheads. Launching a new line of toiletries? Create a board! Pitching a big landscaping project to your local bank? Show them exactly the types of plants and materials you’d use – paint them a picture, that’s what Pinterest is all about. And if they share your boards, all the better!
Sell Product: While you can’t BUY anything on Pinterest, if you pin your products and link to the website within your Pin, your fellow Pinheads can easily jump to your ecommerce site. An added bonus: if you add a “$” to your Pins description, Pinterest will automatically add a price banner to the photo AND your Pin will appear in the Pinterest “Gifts” category. Sweeeet.
Demonstrate Subject Matter Expertise: You’re SMART and creative, damn it, so showcase your awesome sauce with pinboards! If you’re a company that sells shoes – own it. Create a board for your products, but also create boards for other shoe-related visuals. Like great places to hike or jog if you’re in the sports apparel game. Or pictures of celebrities who wear your shoes – or who should wear your shoes. Best dressed? Worst dressed? World’s most unappealing cankles? Pin it and become a SME superstar!
Next up in this hopelessly-devoted-to-Pinterest series: how Pinterest can help your business get more business through caring and sharing. Because just like the Hokey Pokey, that’s what it’s all about!
This is a guest post by Nate Towne. Follow him on Twitter @Fancy_Lad.
Pinterest, schminterest! What’s with all the buzz about this new social media channel? Is it worth your precious web surfing time? And how can you use it to build your business so you can feel less guilt about surfing boards on Pinterest on the company dime? Read on, fearless reader – you might just learn something (I swear it’s not my fault if you do.).
Our good pals at Mashable report Pinterest is currently enjoying the limelight as one of the top 10 social networks – and it’s still (technically) invite only. Though getting an invite is pretty easy if you’re on Twitter or Google+ – heck, just ask me and I’ll invite you. Or you can ask Pinterest for an invite –I’m betting dollars to donuts they’re not going to turn you down. I’m a sharing kinda guy. The premise behind Pinterest is pretty basic, it’s a cloud-based social media network that lets you organize and share all the cool discoveries you find on the web. Pinheads (yes, I’m coining that term) use pinboards to showcase their mad style, plan vacation shenanigans, organize their favorite recipes, share gifting ideas, and among other things, drive traffic to ecommerce sites – *gasp!*
What makes Pinterest a social network? It allows Pinheads (see? I’m running with it!) to browse pins and boards created by other Pinheads. Trust me, you could spend days browsing other Pinhead’s pinboards – they are a constant source of amusement, amazement and discovery. And if you’re an entrepreneurial kind of person, the two words that stand out here are “discover” and “share.” Who wouldn’t want Pinheads to discover and share your coolness on this hotter than hot internet destination?
Let’s face it – if you build it, and it’s cool, and it reaches MILLIONS of potential customers, businesses will come. But should your business jump on the bandwagon? According to ComScore’s recent data on Pinterest, the site has nearly five million users and shows no signs of stopping in its race to the top. Data from Google Ad Planner reports nearly 1.5 million unique users are visiting Pinterest daily, and spending more than 14 minutes on the site per visit (If you ask me, this number is a little low – Pinterest is *that* addictive!). If that data isn’t enough to get you thinking, digest this new insight from Shareaholic via GigaOM: Pinterest is now driving more web traffic referrals than Google+ (not surprising), on par with Twitter referrals (rather surprising!). But juicy and compelling data aside, is Pinterest right for your business?
That’s a question for another post – in fact, my next few posts will break down why brands should consider converting to Pinterest , or not as the case may be. I promise you dear reader, it will be worth the wait. And if not, I’ll gladly give you your money back…
For all two of you who don’t already know, Paula Deen has Type 2 diabetes. Sounds like a stretch, I know. All those deep-fried Twinkies could not have possibly had anything to do with it. What’s drawing even more attention though is that not only has Ms. Deen been tucked away in the diabetes closet for three years (more on that below), but she has also timed her announcement with a deal to promote a diabetes medication. In the words of Ad Age contributor Eric Webber, “the irony has not been lost on the public,” and while this may result in some bad press for Paula, it’s also bad press for the industry. Webber does a great job explaining why this is bit of a booboo for all of us PR kids (so read the article), I wanted to highlight a few particularly good points.
Bad timing Deen’s claim that her limited knowledge of the disease kept her from going public says one of at least three things: 1.) Her doctors lied and told her she has something WAY more exotic than diabetes, 2.) she doesn’t know how to use Google (in which case, I have a great site for her friends to check out), or 3.) she had plans to time the announcement so that she’d be a prime candidate for a lucrative spokesperson deal.
Two steps back The do-gooders of the branding industry are fighting a seemingly endless battle against the stigma that people in PR, marketing and advertising are all soulless spin doctors who are only after dollar signs. Admittedly, there are folks who are only in it for the bottom line, but it certainly isn’t standard. As Webber put it, it gives the industry a black eye.
Celebrity endorsements “But, of course, I’m being compensated for my time,” we hear from Deen when asked about how she’s benefiting financially from the partnership. “That’s the way our world works.” Again, with the making us all look like money mongrels, especially when it comes to celebrity partnerships. There’s a common assumption that celebrity spokespeople are sell-outs, but Webber reminds us that not all of them are about the contracts. Some, like Michael J. Fox and Christopher Reeve, may not have agreed with Deen’s perspective.
Not sure if Deen and her team have been sitting on their hands in the three years that they’ve had to plan for these announcements, or if they thought that the Boy Scout motto of always being prepared didn’t apply to them. I’m guessing at least one person involved in this strategy (or lack thereof?) is scratching his head saying “It seemed like a good idea at the time.” What do you think was going on during the planning stages?
This is a guest post by Mandy Miller. Follow her on Twitter @amandammiller9.
In case you missed it, Big Brews (not as evil as Big Tobacco) may be trying to ‘buy out’ your area code. Anheuser-Busch has recently applied for 15 trademarks for the following area codes: 314 (St. Louis), 412 (Pittsburgh), 305 (Miami), 619 (San Diego), 202 (Washington, D.C.), 602 (Phoenix), 704 (Charlotte), 702 (Las Vegas), 214 (Dallas), 415 (San Francisco), 216 (Cleveland), 303 (Denver), 713 (Houston), and 215 (Philadelphia).
Why, you ask? Well, recently Anheuser-Busch InBev bought Chicago microbrewer Goose Island, maker of 312 (named for the Chicago area code). This very well could be a means to seize a market opportunity, or it could just be an adorable attempt at a brand extension. The supposed idea behind this is that Anheuser-Busch may try to extend this branding into other area codes, crafting specialty beer(s) for your city.
My thoughts? Smart – kind of. It’s cute, but at the same time, I like the ‘cozy’ and personalized touch that goes into smaller microbrewers. Maybe I just need to have more happy feelings with every Bud Light I have, but Goose Island was located in ‘the 312.’ How is Anhesuer-Busch going to position and craft these beers when they are a mega brewing giant? Shouldn’t a local brewer know best for crafting these? What if you’re in a suburb of Cleveland, Denver, etc. Are you going to feel left out because it just doesn’t taste like your area code?
What are your thoughts? Strategic move or cute attempt? Do you feel this takes away from the specialty crafts of microbrews?
This is a guest post from Dan Walsh, an Account Executive at Racepoint Group. Follow him on Twitter @DanWalshed.
“If you ever watch somebody reading a copy of Vanity Fair, they spend as much time looking at the ads as they spend looking at the content,” Mr. Grueskin said, “because the ads are actually useful for readers.” (Ads having value on their own, he added, is “something that we as journalists have a hard time getting our heads around.”)
- From NYT’s “For Journalists, A Call to Rethink Their Online Models”
I’m curious about what others think of that statement.
Clearly the goal has always been for ads to be useful (hence the importance of targeting – why would anyone pay attention to an irrelevant ad?) but I’ve rarely considered them to be valuable. As users, we’ve been conditioned to avoid looking at the tops and sides of pages and sponsored links. Simply put, the current advertising model is broken and showing an increasing number of cracks as time goes by.
When BusinessWeek blew up their newsroom in 2009, it was interesting to see Senior Writer Steve Hamm wind up at IBM as a communications strategist. It certainly wasn’t a move that I expected. In Steve’s words, “I work on communications strategy and create content.” Most of that content winds up here: IBM’s A Smarter Planet Blog. If you haven’t checked it out before, it’s worth a look – there’s been a ton of thought provoking posts generated here over the last 2+ years. To me, this is what passes for “valuable” ad content.
In the future I think we’ll see this type of content integrated into a number of news sites. If done right (read: not overtly promotional), brands can help fill the gap in long-form journalism created, in part, by Google News (need to be first!) and the current ad model (low CPMs result in pressure to “get more page views” leading to a struggle over writing for quality vs. writing for quantity).
Of course not every brand can go and hire a former BusinessWeek writer to head up this effort, but don’t worry: PR practitioners would be more than happy to fill that role.
Have you heard of Adzookie? Unless you’re really into small-market mobile advertising start-ups, you shouldn’t have. Well friends, prepare yourselves to be introduced to the proud owners of one of the most ineffective and polarizing advertising campaigns in recent memory; which, in turn, is also one of the most creative and brilliant public relations campaigns.
Adzookie offers a fairly standard smartphone advertising platform geared towards small businesses,and by taking a look at their website I would say “fairly standard” is just about as accurate of a description of the company you can get.
In late March Adzookie launched their “Paint My House” campaign. The deal works as such: Adzookie will come to your house and repaint every side as a large advertisement for their company (see picture above, which would have caused Grant Wood to stab himself in the eyes with his pitchfork). For as long as the house remains painted, Adzookie will pay your mortgage. Mad Men-style genius? Not quite.
First, let’s examine the rarely-used “house as a billboard” advertising strategy in order to determine its effectiveness. In conclusion, it’s horrible. As an example we’ll take the house pictured above. By its appearance it looks like it is located in suburbia, Anytown-USA; not dissimilar to the area in which I grew up. On an average weekday I would estimate that about 25 different cars drive by that house, and about 80% of them belong to other people that live in the neighborhood. Mathematically that leaves five new people driving by the billboard each day. This number becomes even less when you take into consideration repeat visitors to the road such as friends, nannies, and these guys. Dismissing the increased traffic due to locals who “always knew the Johnsons would do something like this,” what are the chances that you are going to get a person who is driving down that road, who also happens to be a marketing executive, who also happens to be looking for a new mobile advertising platform? That’s a risky ROI when the average American mortgage payment is almost $1,700/month.
Now let’s examine the public relations impact this campaign had on Adzookie. The out of left field nature of the Orange, CA-based company’s plan immediately gained national coverage in major publications such as The Wall Street Journal, CNN, NBC, TIME, and Forbes. CEO Romeo Mendoza had crafted his message perfectly: He and his company were recession-era saviors of those most in need. Oh, and they just happen to also run a mobile advertising company. “We hit a nerve,” he’s quoted as saying in The Wall Street Journal article. “I knew people needed help, but I didn’t know so many. That’s kind of sad. We can’t help everyone, but we can help some.” For most of early-April, Adzookie was the most recognized mobile advertising platform in the country. I, as many others, took the time to write about this once-unknown company. Exposure has gone through the roof (which Adzookie doesn’t really care about because they don’t paint your roof).
What will be the result of “Paint My House” on Adzookie’s bottom line? It’s too early to say. They have obviously not gained enough funds to improve their website, and behemoths Google and Apple currently dominate the mobile advertising landscape. However I doubt that you will soon forget about Adzookie, the mobile advertising company that dared to dominate your landscape.
Last Sunday during the broadcast of the Academy Awards I couldn’t help but notice several commercials for the group buying service, LivingSocial. I found this interesting as Groupon, one of LivingSocial’s largest competitors, put major ad spent behind a series of Super Bowl commercials that wound up offending viewers and arguably damaging the brand’s reputation (you can read RaceTalk’s commentary here). I would have thought, given this blunder, LivingSocial and other group buying services would shy away from television advertising and focus on other mediums.
I was also intrigued that LivingSocial decided to advertise during the Oscars, a broadcast targeted almost exclusively to women. Does LivingSocial see their core demographic as mostly female?
In addition to the Oscars advertising, LivingSocial launched a deal yesterday for discounted movie tickets via Fandango. PC Mag reported that by 3:30pm the site had sold 609,000 Fandango offers. The deal was so successful, LivingSocial has extended it through the end of the day today.
PC Mag also reported that LivingSocial currently holds the record for the biggest online coupon deal with their Amazon.com offer, which sold 1,378,938 vouchers.
This is the week LivingSocial decided to put their stake in the group buying ground, and they are camped out right in front of one of America’s favorite places: the movie theater.
Are these kinds of ads and offers enough to inch them ahead of Groupon? What do you think?
Last night Groupon aired three commercials (see below) during the Super Bowl, and quickly managed to offend viewers everywhere. While the majority of the outrage was focused on the Tibet ad, all three commercials could easily be deemed offensive by certain groups of people.
Quite simply, the commercials were done in poor taste. But what’s more upsetting is that Groupon is better than that, and they didn’t need to go this route. Let’s look at the facts:
Groupon turned down a $6 billion acquisition offer from Google.
So why, must a company with so much success in their young history, risk offending their customers through these commercials? To me, a company like Groupon – tech-savvy and innovative – should have had the best commercials. But these ads weren’t funny, and the only talk they generated was negative.
With LivingSocial on their heals and putting up a big fight (partially thanks to Amazon’s investment), Groupon needs to focus on keeping their customer base happy and growing. Last night was a step in the wrong direction.