Friday, September 16, 2016

Content Marketing World Strikes Back: The Commitment

It was bound to happen. We've dragged our feet for too long. We knew it was coming, but did he have to do it so publicly? In front of 3,600+ Content Marketing World attendees, Joe Pulizzi gave us an ultimatum: 

Fully commit to content marketing and go all in...or get out.

Many stated, "We're taking our first steps." To which Robert Rose chimed in, "You've been taking your first steps for the last six years!" Wow...has it been that long? Well, we've been doing what we can, haven't we? Where's this all coming from?

Joe said, "20%."

20%? What does that mean?

Joe explained the soon-to-be-released research by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs revealed one glaring stat. Only 20% of respondents said they were fully committed to a content marketing strategy. That means 80% aren't all in. This leads to mediocre content...or worse. And that's when Joe said this:

The crowd let out a gasp as that sentence sank in. He went on to explain that the 20% are:

  • Most successful.
  • Able to measure their ROI.
  • Most clear on what defines success.
What are they doing that the rest are not? It's all the things we've heard for the last six years:

  • Focus on one audience with one message.
  • Tell a different story.
  • Be consistent over time.
  • Build value outside the products and services you offer. 

Joe understands what happens if you don't go all in. His first company Junta42 didn't make it. It wasn't until he fully committed that we saw the launch of Content Marketing Institute. And you've seen the results!

And then he said, "It's time."

Suddenly, the lights started flashing. Something was happening. Joe was transforming into...Morpheus? (Yeah, I know the theme is Content Strikes Back, so why the Matrix reference? Just stay with was a whole sci-fi theme.) The spotlight shined down on Joepheus (see what I did there?) as he extended his hands. In each palm was a pill, one orange and one blue.

He said "Choose the blue pill and your story ends here. Choose the orange pill and stay in a content marketing wonderland. Experience how deep the rabbit hole goes."

Mind. Blown. Those of you who were there know. If you weren't, that's a close rendition of what happened. I may have enhanced a couple of things here and there, but you get the point.

As you can gather from my retelling of Joe's keynote, "commitment" was the major theme this year. It was a recurring subject in many.

After last year's "Trough of Disillusionment," this seems to be a logical step forward. Now, with realistic expectations, we can re-commit to our content marketing strategy.

Commitment to Content Marketing

That's not to say getting your company to buy into content marketing is going to be any easier. Enter Robert Rose's session "Content Marketing Is Broken: Here's How to Fix It and Tie It to Real Business Results." It was a retelling of the origin story of content. I can't do it justice here. You really had to see it, but I'll go over the highlights.

Companies don't want to do content marketing for the following reasons:

  • There's too much content and we can't stand out.
  • It costs more than ads.
  • It's too slow.
  • We can't be different.
  • We can't tie it back to revenue.
What these companies don't understand is that content marketing is not a super-charged campaign. It's not a campaign at all. It's not another piece of marketing collateral. It's different. The goal isn't consumption. It's to create a "subscribed audience." That subscribed audience is what offers value back to the company. 

And guess what? It's not easy. In fact it's hard, especially when we already have too much on our plates. So how do we do it? With these two steps:

  1. Start with the end: Understand your business goals and align your content strategy to reach them. Design your measurements to your specific strategies. There are no templates as we all have our own goals and strategies.
  2. Figure out what you can STOP doing: Question why your current projects are important and if they'll help reach your goals. Stop doing those that are ineffective. Focus on creating the content that will build the audience that will take your company to where it wants to go.

Commitment to Quality

Creating less content was a theme at last year's Content Marketing World. It emerged again this year with more force and elaboration. It requires a heavier focus on quality. Understanding WHY you're creating the content can help you make it more impactful.

Here are examples of how three of the keynote speakers are accomplishing this:

  • Lars Silberbauer, LEGO Company, Ltd.: LEGO understands why they're in each of the channels in which they engage. Everything they post and publish addresses only two themes:
    • Building together.
    • Pride of creation.
           Through this laser focus, LEGO engages with their customers and inspires their creativity. They receive billions of social media views every year. And, their fans create 20 times the amount of content that LEGO publishes. Silberbauer says this is what makes the difference.

  • Ann Handley, MarketingProfs: Handley took us a year into the future to show us the key to content success in 2017. Simply put, SLOW DOWN at key moments. Marketing is impatient, but slowing down allows you to focus. Ask yourself these three questions:
    • So what?: Keep asking "so what?" and answering "because..." until you get to the essence of your content. Ask and answer from the customer's perspective. Why will they care?
    • Wait, what?: This helps you align on your WHY before the HOW.
    • Does this sustain us?: Are you proud of what you're creating? This question helps you to say "no."
  • Andy Crestodina, Orbit Media: Armed with a treasure trove of data, Crestodina showed how to achieve the most engagement. Create content with:
    • Strong opinions.
    • Original research.
           He emphasized using your blog to be the best answer to your customers' questions. Strive to create the best page on the internet for your topic.

Commitment to Relevance

We've all talked about creating relevant content. In this case, we're talking about the platforms and distribution methods you use. Are your delivery methods relevant to your audience? Are you using tools that your customers use or just the latest gadgets?

While Ann Handley took us a year into the future, Scott Stratten wants us to focus on being good at 2003! By that, he means we need to write better emails, create smart websites, and put usability back in the forefront.

We shouldn't jump on every new technology just because it's out there. We hurt our brand when we use the wrong methods or make mistakes with the channels. Stratten says (as only he can), "Content marketing should not be a training bra. We should not just try things in content marketing."

Examples of tools we should only use if they are relevant to our audience include:
  • Live video: It's unforgiving and people are awkward.
  •  360-degree video/augmented reality/virtual reality: Does your product need a 360-degree view of it? If not, don't do it.
  • Pop-Ups: They're so annoying that Google will be penalizing sites that use them.
  • Instagram: Be sure to differentiate yourself and that your branding is clear.
  • Newsjacking: Make sure there is a true tie-in to your brand so you don't create a public relations nightmare.

Podcasting is another tool that continues to increase in popularity. There are some excellent examples of marketers doing it right. Mitch Joel and Jay Baer believe brands have the potential to create the top podcasts in their industries. 

Baer says that out of all the platforms he uses, podcasting is the most powerful.

To be successful, Baer says your show must be the favorite of at least a subset of your audience. Joel breaks down three factors, in which you need to have at least one to capture attention:
  • The Host: Does anyone know who you are and/or care?
  • The Guest: Start with relevant people you know and with whom you have a comfort level. They can help you look good.
  • The Content: Are you offering useful information your audience cares about?

Commitment to Yourself

Find Your Punchline

This year, one keynote speaker caught most of us off a good way. Comedian Michael Jr. kicked off Thursday morning with a comedy set that was more than we expected. He explained the mechanics of a good joke. The setup is using your talents and resources to move your audience in one direction. The punch line is an unexpected turn in the other direction.

He equated the setup to our WHAT and the punch line to our WHY. What makes him effective is understanding his WHY. This makes his WHAT more impactful. He took the concept one step further to explain his philosophy about life. His setup (or WHAT) is his talent to find comedy anywhere. He discovered his punch line (or WHY) when he noticed a homeless man after a set one night. That inspired him to bring comedy to audiences that wouldn't normally hear it.

He showed a video of an abused boy who was so scared of everything that he always wore a Spider-Man outfit, including the mask. 10 minutes into his set, he heard the boy speak and then take off his mask. He challenged us to think about what we can give from ourselves and to find our punch lines.

Follow Your Own Inspiration

The theme for Content Marketing World was "Content Strikes Back." It only made sense that the main keynote speaker was Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill! Hamill had a lot of stories, including how he never gets tired (publicly) of Star Wars. He knows he needs to give the public what they want.

He commits to the roles that he takes. One of his funniest stories was about training to lose 48 pounds for the latest Star Wars movie. Then he read the script.

His advice was to believe in ourselves and grab our opportunities. They don't come back. He urged us to follow our own inspirations, work hard and never give up. Create new things or repurpose (don't steal) the things we love in our own way. He believes that tenacity is just as important as talent...if not more so.

I could go on and on about all the things I've learned. I'm sure many will make their way into future blog posts. I came away inspired and ready to commit more than ever before. I can't wait to bring this excitement, motivation and knowledge to my next job. Thanks to Content Marketing Institute for topping themselves again!

What did you take away from Content Marketing World? How will you implement what you've learned? Tell us in the comments below. Thanks for reading.

 If you have any content needs, know of any  job opportunities or just want to talk more Content Marketing World, please reach out to me at

Photo via Elaine Ball

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Follow Me During Content Marketing World!

Hello, all my content marketing friends! Content Marketing World is here as we all make our way to downtown Cleveland this week. Welcome to everyone visiting from out of town. 

First, congratulations and thanks to Joe Pulizzi and Content Marketing Institute for the 6th annual event!

As I mentioned in my guest post, How To Crush It On Social Media At Content Marketing World, I'll be posting quite a bit on social media. Whether you're not able to make it and want to follow along to see what we're learning or if you're there and want to see what's going on in other sessions, I want to make it easy for you to follow me. 

Here are links to my social media profiles. Feel free to follow me on any or all of them (during and after the conference):
My schedule is below so you can see what sessions I'm in and will be posting about and the times. If you're at the conference, please come up and say hi or send me messages. Also, I'm from Cleveland, so if you have any questions about the city or need any recommendations for places to go, I'm happy to help. 

Tuesday, Sept. 6

  • 7pm: Opening Night Reception at FWD Day and Nightclub

Wednesday, Sept. 7

  • 8am: Welcome to the Content Marketing Revolution - Joe Pulizzi
  • 8:30am: Opening Keynote - Inside LEGO's Content and Social Program - Lars Silberbauer
  • 9:15am: Keynote - Content's Fortune and Glory: How to Make Friends, Rank High and Get Famous Online - Andy Crestodina
  • 10:30am: The Forgotten Discipline of (Content) Marketing - What To Do When You've Written All the "Helpful" Content - Tom Webster
  • 11:35am: What Great Content Looks Like: The Power of Insight - Doug Kessler
  • 12:35pm: Solving the Content Puzzle: Make Your Content Work in Sync - Heather Hurst
  • 2:15pm: How to Develop and Execute a Social Business Strategy - Travis Wright
  • 3:20pm: Content Marketing is Broken - Here's How to Fix It and Tie It to Real Business Results - Robert Rose
  • 4:35pm: Keynote: Take Notice: What It Takes to Inspire Audiences and Distinguish Your Brand - John Von Brachel and Clare McDermott
  • 5:05pm: Keynote: A Look Back at the Best Content Marketing of 2017 - Ann Handley
  • 5:25pm: Keynote: Content is Dead: Focus on the Network Effect - Mitch Joel
  • 7pm: #CMWorld Twitter Chat Meetup
  • 8pm: Cheap Trick at Music Hall!
  • 10:30pm: #CMWorld After Party

Thursday, Sept. 8

  • 8:15am: Keynote: Content Marketing and Change - Robert Rose, Stephanie Losee and Raj Munusamy
  • 8:45am: Keynote: Finding Your Way - A Comedic Look at Finding Your Brand's Mission - Michael Jr. 
  • 10am: How to (Finally) Solve the Attribution Problem: Drive Real ROI for Your Business with Content Marketing - Shafqat Islam
  • 11:05am: How to Use Improv Techniques to Improve Your Storytelling - Tim Washer
  • 12:05pm: Optimize the ROI of Your Content Agency Investment - Lee Odden
  • 1:45pm: Evolution and Opportunities in Business Podcasting - a Q&A - Jay Baer and Mitch Joel
  • 2:50pm: Unlimited Content: How Far Should You Go? - Scott Stratten
  • 4:05pm: Content Marketing Awards Presentation
  • 4:45pm: Closing Keynote - Mark Hamill
The schedule is subject to change. You never know when an opportunity may present itself!

Thanks for following me and I hope you find the information I share to be valuable. As always, you can also check out my blog, Taking it Back ( I'll have a recap post of my experience at Content Marketing World a few days after the event. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

How Disney and Pepsi Are Taking Emojis to the Next Level

How Disney and Pepsi are taking Emojis to the next level

Emojis are taking over. They come in many forms. It might be a simple smiley face, a piece of pizza or everybody's favorite bacon!. They're used in texts, peppered into social media posts and catch your eye in email subject lines. That's just the tip of the iceberg.

According to Wired Magazine, emoji usage has grown to the following levels:
  • 92% of people online use emojis.
  • 33% of people who use emojis use them daily.
  • Almost half of all Instagram posts include an emoji.
Emojis are their own language and are replacing acronyms like LOL and OMG. Kids especially have used emojis as a form of communication. (Parents, check out this article for some secret emoji phrases your kids are using.)

Emojis have grown so popular that many celebrities have gotten into the emoji business. You can download emoji likenesses of Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian, Zakk Wylde (my personal favorite!) and many others. In 2014, Seinfeld released an emoji app with characters and iconic symbols from the show. The Puffy Shirt, Tweety Pez Dispenser and Marble Rye are available for texting fun!

If you don't want a celebrity, you can create an emoji of yourself. Just take a selfie and Emojiface does the rest! Even make an emoji of your pet.
Um, I'm creepy as an emoji.
Brands are also diving into the emoji arena. GE, Comedy Central and Ikea have created their own emojis. But, Disney and Pepsi have taken their own emojis a step further. They are revolutionizing the way their fans are engaging with them.

Disney Emoji Blitz

What better emojis can you imagine than your favorite Disney characters? How would you like to send a smiling Mickey Mouse, an irate Donald Duck, a lovestruck Ariel or a laughing Fozzy Bear? Now you have access to all of them, but it's not as simple as downloading them.

Disney Emoji Blitz
You have to earn the Disney emojis through their new Disney Emoji Blitz app. Through all the Pokemon Go Mania, you may have missed this addicting new game. It's a match 3 game and you earn coins while playing that you use to "buy" the emoji. There are silver and gold categories, but you don't get to choose the specific character you get. It's done randomly. I'm sure that's done specifically to keep you playing the game.

You also earn gems to "buy" more coins or for other game advantages. Not earning gems fast enough? You can buy gems (with real money). It's a faster way to get enough coins to get more emoji characters.

I'm a Disney fan and I like this app a lot. Luckily, you only have five lives at a time (you can use gems to get more). That keeps it from being a much bigger time suck than it is.  They offer daily challenges and a leaderboard to keep your competitive juices flowing. Fun for kids of all ages.


Two years ago, Coca-Cola offered personalized bottles and experienced a lift in sales. This summer, Pepsi came up with a campaign featuring emojis on their cans and bottles.

Pepsi created the emojis as well as a downloadable PepsiMoji Keyboard for your smartphone. The app allows you to send PepsiMojis like any other emojis. They may not be as personal as your name, but they're more fun.

Pepsi is supporting the campaign through five-second and 30-second TV and online ads. The ads feature the emoji Pepsi bottles in different summer activity scenarios. The ads are clever and fun. I actually looked for more ads to watch (and I don't generally watch ads).

We'll have to wait to see if that translates to higher sales for Pepsi. Either way, the campaign is creative, well-developed and offers a new way to monetize emojis.


What other creative ways have you seen emojis used? What are your favorites (can be celebrity, brand or anything else)? Is your business doing anything interesting with emojis?

Thanks for reading. If you like this post, please share it with your friends. Sign up to receive my blog posts in your email.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

4 Quick Books That Will Boost Your Career Now

If you follow my blog, you know that I read a lot of books. Earlier this year, I came across four books that can impact your work performance right now. Not only do they offer concrete tips. they're quick reads (one or two days).

If you're looking to improve your productivity, creativity and presentation skills, read on. These books offer advice with real world examples and stories to keep you turning the pages to learn more.

The Daily Edge: Simple Strategies to Increase Efficiency and Make an Impact Every Day by David Horsager

Efficiency and productivity are major themes in business. David Horsager (@DavidHorsager) explains how to re-organize your daily tasks to be more effective at both.

He demonstrates how to use Difference Making Actions (DMA) to achieve your goals in 90 days. Every morning, write down the five most important things you can do that day to reach your current goal. Those five items are your focus for the day.

Learn how to:
  • Plan your day.
  • Avoid many of the time-sucking activities in which we engage.
  • Maximize many of the actions we do every day (including meetings!).

Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon

This book comes recommended by Ann Handley (@AnnHandley) and Jason Miller (@JasonMillerCA). With those two endorsements, it's a must read. Austin Kleon (@AustinKleon) covers 10 themes that will have you exploring your creativity in new ways.

Kleon starts with the notion that nothing is original. Something influences every artist and every work of art. With that thought, allow yourself to take things that you love and that inspire you and recreate them. The key is to put your own spin on it.

One of my favorite examples is how Kleon was such a fan of Jurassic Park, he wrote his own sequel. Look to your favorite artists and "fix" their work by creating it the way you would want it to be.

Also, surround yourself with the best and smartest people you can. He says you're only as good as the people who surround you. It's said often ... if you're the smartest person in the room, find a different room.

Ignore Everybody and 39 Other Keys to Creativity by Hugh Macleod

To enhance creativity, Hugh Macleod (@HughCards) recommends doing just what the title says: ignore everybody. He explains that while you don't know if your big idea is good, neither does anyone else. even close friends won't understand it as well as you do.

Known for drawing cartoons on the back of business cards, Macleod believes everyone is born creative. We were all given a box of crayons in kindergarten. As we get older, boring text books replace our creative outlets. Most of us hear our inner voice that wants to be creative and "wants the crayons back." But, our "adult" voice tries to quiet that inner voice.

His 40 keys help you ignore your "adult" voice to explore your creative ideas.

Steal the Show by Michael Port

Ok, this book will take you more than a day or two to read. I'm including it because it goes into detail about how to improve any presentation you have to give.

Michael Port (@michaelport) posits that all presentations are performances. This approach will help you prepare keynote presentations, client pitches, job interviews and more.

He describes the mindset you need to find your voice, identify your role for each situation and work through your fears. He then explains the principles to build your presentations to achieve your objectives. These will teach you how to prepare your performances to engage your audience. Finally, he goes into detail on how to craft and build your presentation.

Going far beyond the picture-your-audience-in-their-underwear advice, you'll learn to connect with your audience to inspire and persuade them. Whether you're a professional speaker or just give occasional presentations, this book will help you improve your performance.

These books include so many tips, it's easy to find at least a handful that are applicable to your career. These aren't changes that are hard to implement. Most include helping you rethink how you approach your day or your processes.

Do you have other books that have had positive impacts on your work? Let us know your favorites in the comments below.

Thanks for reading! If you like this post, please share it with your friends and sign up to receive my posts through email.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

How to Stay Positive When Life Sucks

I've had people tell me that I'm always positive. And, for the most part, I am. At least I try to be. Some have asked me how I do it. I wasn't sure if I should write about it. But I saw a recent tweet in which someone asked, "How do you stay positive?" (not to me, just in general), so I decided it might be helpful. But, keep in mind that I'm not a psychologist. This is just how I deal with things.

I'm an easy going guy. I don't get stressed out often. A lot of times, that's by choice. Years ago, I heard a quote (it may or may not have been in an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer):
There's another version explaining how a positive attitude is a spark for extraordinary things. The point is that big things happen to everyone. What defines you is what you do when those events happen. That idea has always stayed with me.

I try to take a second to think before reacting to things. I try to think of the aftermath of the reaction. There aren't many benefits to getting stressed out or pissed off. Don't get me wrong. I'm not a saint and I do have emotions that come out. But, if they're negative, I try to keep those thoughts in my head or move on as fast as I can to positive actions.

Taking a positive attitude helps your brain work at its best. You can control your brain to be more positive. Your prefrontal cortex allows you to focus your thinking on coming up with solutions for your issues.

The following tips help me keep my situations in perspective. One or more of them may help you too. 

Understand Things Can Always Be Worse

I know it's a cliché, but it's true. I got into a car accident a few weeks ago. It was my fault. It came at a time when money was a bit shorter than usual. Oh, and it was the day before my wife's birthday. Sounds bad, and it wasn't great.

The first thing I thought was that no one got hurt. That was the main thing. The car damage was only to the body and headlight (nothing structural or mechanical). It was in the shop for a couple of weeks, but it was only a minor inconvenience. I had to get up a little earlier than normal to take my wife to work on the days I needed a car. Certainly not the end of the world. As far as car accidents go, this could have been much worse. Knowing that made the ordeal less stressful for me.

Look At the Bigger Picture

Life always has ups and downs. But when you look at the bigger picture, most of us have a lot more ups. So, if you're going through a hard time, understand that it's just a blip on your life journey.

It's not always to realize it when you're dealing with it. But, once everything is back in order, you can look back and chalk it up to a life experience. I'm also willing to bet that you come out of it better than before. Adversity builds character, right?

Reframe Your Situation

Sometimes changing the way you look at a situation allows you to see things in a new light. If you're in a miserable job or in a job search (like I currently am), use the experience to realize that there may be a better job out there. A better position, a better company, better pay - turn it into an opportunity. Changing your outlook will help you realize you have the chance to improve yourself and your life. Don't get discouraged if you can't see the outcome yet or don't know what it will be. Trust yourself that it's there and that you'll be ready for it.

Fake It 'Til You Make It

Yep, another cliché, but applicable here. I know that sometimes it's hard to be positive. In these cases, it's ok to fake it. Tell yourself to be positive and act like you are. Just like forcing yourself to smile can boost your spirits, acting in a positive manner will help you feel better. Pretty soon, the positive feelings will be genuine.


Exercise offers great benefits for your mental health. It reduces stress by releasing norepinephrine, which helps your brain manage stress. It also releases endorphins that make you feel happy. Not to mention that exercise helps you feel better about yourself in general. 

To steal a line from the Tesla song, "So What!", "Life's beautiful, and life sucks." We all go through hard times. Sometimes it seems like you can't catch a break. But, by following these tips, you can keep a positive attitude and get back to where you want to be before you know it.

What do you do to stay positive? Tell us in the comments below. Thanks for reading and please share this post with your friends.

Think Like a Proton image via Zazzle.    
Fix-It Felix, Jr. image via Wikia.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Are You Experienced? Ushering in a New Marketing Era like Jimi Hendrix

Originally published on
The first time I pushed “play” on Are You Experienced? by Jimi Hendrix (on a cassette if you remember those!), it blew me away. This was in the ‘80s after already having heard guitarists like Eddie Van Halen and Eric Clapton. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to hear that sound in 1967 for the first time when there was no other guitarist like him.
The ground-breaking impact he had on guitar and the state of music itself is incredible. From the sounds he created to the way he performed on stage, Hendrix changed the face of music.
Just like Hendrix ushered in a new era of guitar playing, Robert Rose (@Robert_Rose) and Carla Johnson (@CarlaJohnson) are ushering in a new era of marketing—Experiences. But this time, instead of catching up after the fact, I’m witnessing it firsthand.

The first notes dropped at Content Marketing World (CMW) 2014. Robert Rose didn’t so much give his presentation about Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing as he evangelized it. It was uplifting, motivational and educational. All that was missing was the choir in the background, Rose lighting a copy of the book on fire on stage and a thunderous “Amen!” from the congregation (us).
From this buildup, this book has a lot to live up to. And, it does without a doubt. Below are a few of the key points I took from reading it.

The Seventh Era of Marketing

While Rose’s presentation at CMW laid the groundwork, the book pushes us right into the experiences era. The marketing environment has changed, and the role of the marketer needs to expand.
What’s driving us into the “Experiences Era”? There are three main causes:
  • Customer relationships are more complex than ever: Customers expect products and services to be excellent. Experiences need to be the differentiating factor for buying decisions.
  • The democratization of content: With so much content available from brands, friends and family, our content has to work harder to stand out. It must be valuable and useful for customers.
  • The marketing department must take a holistic view of the customer experience:We need to be more strategic and create appreciated experiences to build our audiences. Even after we persuade them to buy, we must continue to nurture the relationships to satisfy them and earn their loyalty.

Redefining the Role of Marketers

Just as Hendrix blew open the role of the lead guitar, Rose and Johnson are redefining the role of marketers. We can no longer be simply considered support for sales and other departments. We need to execute at all aspects of the business and help guide the company’s strategy.
The authors see the role of marketer evolving into three main areas:
  • Growth Drivers: Marketing is essential to achieving the goals of the organization. Other departments need to recognize our expanded role in executing the overall strategy.
  • Unifiers: We need to collaborate with each department and steer the whole organization toward creating experiences that wow customers.
  • Innovators: We need to use our view of changing customer behaviors to help the rest of the company evolve as customers do.

The New Four Principles of Marketing

When Jimi Hendrix came on the scene, the rules of guitar playing changed dramatically. Guitarists no longer had to stand in one place with little movement. Those that did were now boring. To see how Hendrix impacted other bands, check out how the Who’s stage show changed after Hendrix.
The rules of marketing are changing faster than ever as consumers change their behavior. The authors cite an article, “Rethinking the 4 P’s” by Richard Ettenson, Eduardo Conrado (@ConradoEduardo) and Jonathan Knowles (@typetwo). They adapt the traditional 4 P’s of marketing (product, place, price and promotion) to the SAVE framework: 
  • Solution (instead of product): Focus on showing how you meet customer needs, instead of product features.
  • Access (instead of place): Build your strategy to impact each customer experience regardless of the medium or location.
  • Value (instead of price): Emphasize the relationship of price with customer benefits instead of comparing to your costs and competitors.
  • Education (instead of promotion): Offer content to highlight how you solve specific customer needs rather than generic mass marketing messaging.

The Shift to Content-Driven Experiences

“…new marketing strategies must focus on creating experiences that deliver value that goes beyond the product or service.” – Robert Rose and Carla Johnson
So with this new marketing era, how do we get there? We need to think about content, marketing and experiences in a new way. The marketing team needs to manage content to focus on experiences while also being strategic. Content is an ongoing process and not a campaign with an expiration date.
The content itself must have purpose and value to change the customer’s behavior (convince them to buy). To achieve this, Rose and Johnson use the following categories:
  • Promoter: Appeals to customers’ needs and wants to drive decisions.
  • Preacher: Helps customers to find your products to drive awareness and engagement.
  • Professor: Fuels interests and passions to drive meaning and establishes your expertise.
  • Poet: Speaks directly to feelings and convictions to drive emotionality to change a belief or spur an action.
The key is to balance your content among these four to reach your goals. Customers in different stages of the sales funnel need different types of messages.
In the book, the authors also walk you through the framework for a content creation management system. They illustrate success with this approach with case studies and examples.

Experience is Catching On

Hendrix couldn’t have brought on a movement in music by himself. Other bands and artists were onto this new phase of rock music and helped to spread its popularity. In the same way, this one book couldn’t bring about a new era of marketing by itself. It may be the best examination of a new age, but it needs support from other thought leaders to reinforce the movement.
This is happening as you can see by just a few examples here:
  • Scott Stratten (@unmarketing) said on his podcast, Unpodcast, “The stories we tell are not brand stories. The stories we tell are experiences with companies and with people.”
  • Jay Baer (@jaybaer) explains in What the Convergence of Customer Service and Marketing Means for Business, “Marketing has evolved beyond just customer acquisition. These days, marketing teams must consider the entire customer experience. With 91 percent of companies reporting that their marketing teams play a strong role in executive decision making, the ability for marketing to interact across departments is essential.”
  • Corinne Sklar (@csklar) wrote in Marketing in 2015: Make the Customer Experience Count, “In the modern, connected world, nearly every company is working towards a digital frontier of meaningful customer experiences across all channels.”  
  • Mack Collier (@MackCollier) wrote in Think Like a Rock Star, “If you can find ways to improve your customers' experience and environment, you are communicating to them that you understand their point of view. This is an incredibly powerful way to connect with your customers, earn their loyalty, and cultivate fans.”
College marketing courses could (and should) use this book as a textbook. I recommend it for all marketers. As we navigate the new Experiences era of marketing, Rose and Johnson have set the stage for success.
In the words of Jimi Hendrix, “Are you experienced? Well, I am.“ You will be too.
What’s your take on the idea of Experiences being the next era? Do you agree or do you think this is just another buzzword of the day? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.
Image source: Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing:; Robert Rose: PR 20/20 (@pr2020); Jimi Hendrix: Wikipedia

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

How to Create Magical Marketing Like Disney World

Taking It Back - Walt Disney World

I'm a huge Disney fan. I know. It's not the rock music stuff I like to write about, but I was into Mickey Mouse well before I learned how to rock out. As a kid, I believed in the Magical World of Disney. Now as an adult, there may be no bigger marketing influence for me than Disney.  

Earlier this year, I made my third trip to a Disney Park. This was the first time I've been able to really pay attention to the marketing. The first time I went I went to Disney World, I was five. And, I don't remember much of the trip.

In 2005, I went with my wife (then girlfriend) to Disneyland. She's a huge Disney fan. I proposed to her that night after the fireworks (She said "Yes!"). So, I was more concerned with figuring out what I was going to say (and not losing the ring pinned to the inside of my pocket).

This year's trip was to Disney World and was just for fun. I couldn't wait for the Disney experience without having anything else on my mind. I was as excited as Stewie on Family Guy when he went to Disney World.

The trip was incredible. We visited the Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot in two days. We probably pushed it a little too much (we also spent a day at Universal Studios). Our feet were killing us for most of the trip, but it was worth it. Besides the fun, the trip was my own personal workshop on outstanding customer experiences. Here are my five biggest takeaways.

Taking It Back - Walt Disney World - MagicBands

Leaving out the fact that I looked for one of the slowest weeks of the year, one of the challenges of a Disney trip are the crowds and getting to do everything you want to do. In fact, in the mid-2000s, guests indicated they were less likely to return because of these issues. Disney understood that was an issue. This led to the biggest overhaul to Disney Parks' infrastructure: MagicBands. This Wired article explains the background story of these bands and what it took to get them implemented.

In short, MagicBands are wristbands that work with the MyDisneyExperience app to enhance a visitor's experience. The bands do the following by just touching them to a sensor:

  • Grant park entry.
  • Open your hotel room doors.
  • Buy souvenirs.
  • Make restaurant reservations, pre-order your food and have it automatically brought out to you.
  • Make FastPass+ reservations and grant access to the rides.
  • And more!
Taking It Back - Walt Disney World - Maleficent Dragon

The MagicBands give Disney a ton of visitor data from what rides you go on to what you buy. They can use this data to better personalize your experience.  The data can also influence the operations of the parks. For example, they can see when areas of the park get too crowded. To help move the crowd along, they can offer an attraction or character appearance somewhere else in the park to lure visitors away from the bottleneck. This allows visitors to do more by spending less time waiting in lines.

The bands also make it easier for visitors to spend more money. Less time in line offers the potential for more time spent in shops. And, making a purchase is just as easy as touching your MagicBand to a sensor. No fumbling around in your wallet or purse to find cash or a credit card. Just the absence of this act makes it very easy to lose track of how much your spending.

If that's not enough, the MagicBands arrival at your house offers a major point of excitement. The bands are packaged in a box that reveals the bands lined up and labeled with each family member's name. And, of course, you can buy MagicBandits to decorate your MagicBand with your favorite Disney characters!

Disney Resorts

Taking It Back - Walt Disney World - Resorts - Mickey Mouse

For our trip, we stayed at the Port Orleans Resort - French Quarter. We looked at non-Disney resorts, but this was reasonably priced and the benefits of staying on-site more than made up for any extra cost.

First, Disney resorts include free shuttles to take you to and from the airport. And, once you check your bags at your departing airport, they're taken to your hotel room. You don't have to pick them up at the airport.

With the MagicBands, you don't even have to check in to the hotel. They'll send you a text when your room is ready. We went to Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) to hang out for the day and came back in the afternoon and went right to our room and our bags were there.

There are also free shuttles and boats to take you to all the Disney parks, Disney Springs and other resorts. No cabs or Ubers...unless you go somewhere non-Disney, like we did to Universal Studios. Even then, it was easy enough to get an Uber.

Another big feature of staying at a Disney resort is the Extra Magic Hours. Every day, one park opens an hour early or closes two hours later for resort guests only. Check out your favorite rides again or plan on hitting some of the more popular rides with a smaller crowd.

The Lines...Oh, the Lines

Taking It Back - Disney World - Dumbo
With FastPass+, you can avoid some of the lines for your favorite rides. You can't skip them all though. So, there are distractions to make the wait easier. Some of the rides incorporate videos that help to tell the story of the ride. Other rides, like the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Ride, have activities to keep kids occupied.

Granted, that's not exclusive to Disney parks, but they do it well. One feature that I've never seen anywhere else is the Dumbo the Flying Elephant pager system. Kids can play in their playground and parents get a pager that tell them when it's their turn to ride.

The Shops...Oh, the Shops

Taking It Back - Walt Disney World - Frozen
I don't know how long they've done this, so if this is old news, I apologize. But, most major rides exit into a shop themed around the ride. For parents hoping to take their kids into one store on the way out to get a souvenir, you're out of luck.

From a marketing and merchandising perspective, it's brilliant. I don't know how parents get out there without spending an extra fortune in toys. I saw kids' eyes just light up as they entered the shops - especially the "Build-Your-Own-Lightsaber" section of the Star Wars shop or anything Frozen!

How does that relate to a great experience? Good question. With your MagicBands, you can have your purchases sent to your Disney resort room. You don't have to carry them all day. Just make sure to keep track of what you buy!

Interactive Games

Taking It Back - Walt Disney World - Mickey MouseDisney offers ways to engage visitors as they explore the parks. The most famous way is by finding hidden Mickeys. There are images of Mickey Mouse incorporated into the design of Disney attractions throughout the parks. There are books and websites that offer clues and guides to find them. But, as the park changes and attractions move, some of the Mickeys move with them.

There are also interactive games including A Pirate's Adventure, Wilderness Explorers, Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom and Agent P's World Showcase Adventure. We didn't do any of the games, but they sound interesting. Maps, cards and/or clues unlock the adventures through videos and interactive screens.

The Best for Last - The Characters!

Taking It Back - Walt Disney World - Characters

What would a Disney World trip be without all the Disney characters? There are many shows that feature Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and your favorites. There are also a bunch of scheduled meet and greet times throughout the parks. The parades are one of the best attractions and give you a chance to see a wide range of characters.

Taking It Back - Walt Disney World - Pluto
The one thing that I missed was the random encounters with the characters. As a kid, I remember running into Mickey, Chip and Dale, Goofy and many more. I'm sure the scheduled times are a better (and safer) way to make sure more kids are able to see their favorites. But, it feels a little too organized which actually takes away some of the magic. Although, I'm sure if I was a kid, I wouldn't care as long as I got to meet Mickey Mouse somehow.

All the marketing points aside, I loved our two days at the Disney parks (and our one day at Universal Studios)! It was fun to be a kid again and take in all my favorites. Especially now to see Star Wars and the Muppets rides and shows...although the Muppet movie is a bit dated. And where is Animal! Disney doesn't have the rights to implement Marvel characters in their parks east of the Mississippi River. And it doesn't look like they'll get them anytime soon. Those are still held by Universal Studios. Regardless, this won't be the last trip to Disney!

Have you been to Disney World or Disneyland recently? What was your favorite part? Tell us in the comments below. Thanks for reading. If you liked this post, please share it with your friends!

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Image Source: Main Image - Anthony Quintano via Flickr; Other images are mine.