Tag Archives: Social Media

Give Up Brand Control?

Major League Soccer logoEver feel like your business is spinning out of control? Too busy, not busy enough, competition pressures, government red tape, taxes, employee issues, the list can go on and on. We love the concept of control because it gives us predictability, something we can count on, something to calm our fears. Yet control can be elusive.

Take, for example, your brand. We marketers refer frequently to the importance of trying to control your brand. Obviously, social media has made this effort much more difficult but consider something as simple as your identity (including the logo). We generally recommend that in your strategic marketing plan, you include a style book which dictates exactly how your logo will be portrayed in various kinds of media. The style book governs how and where your logo can appear and specifies the exact color or colors (generally no more than two) that are allowed. It is how you control that branding element. Consider brands like A.T.&T., Coca-Cola, Microsoft, and UPS. No one is allowed to change the presentation of these logos or their colors. Yet…maybe that has all changed.

Major League Soccer (MLS) announced a new identity and branding with the commencement of its 2015 season this spring. Not to be outdone by other sports like Major League Baseball, the NCAA basketball tournament, or the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the launch of the new campaign came replete with a shiny new logo. The logo comprises a shield outlined with blue, a blue diagonal line extending outside the shield, and the top left half with three stars, the letters MLS and seated in a field of red. Whether you like this logo or not is not what is curious. What blows the mind this marketer is that the MLS has allowed each one of the teams to alter the colors of the logo to match their respective uniforms! This even extends to the goalkeepers’ uniforms that are even different colors than the team colors!

Unheard of, I say. Can you imagine the NFL doing this? What about the NBA or Major League Baseball? These organizations don’t care what color your uniforms are, their logo must be presented exactly the same, even if that color clashes with your team colors.

I would say this is revolutionary, especially for a brand as young as the MLS.

So, is giving up control of your brand and logo the wrong thing to do? I would imagine that the MLS has not given up complete control, but stipulates the options each team has in using the league logo. It will be an interesting study to see how this turns out. No one can deny that the MLS is successful, having two new expansion teams this year and showing every sign of drawing larger and larger viewership and fan base.

Yet, it will be interesting to see if this is a trend that will extend to other industries, associations and non-profits.

I would love to know your thoughts.

Is Facebook Too Big To Fail?

Oh that’s just not possible you say. Facebook fail, no way. Just let your imagination go for a minute.

I don’t think any of us could have imagined the possibility of General Motors failing, or AIG, or Citigroup for that matter, all of whom benefited through the combination of The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 and the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). In all of these cases, it was deemed appropriate to step in with financial help because these companies were “too big to fail.” The great economic domino effect of their failures would have lead to catastrophic consequences.

Let’s face facts, humans make mistakes, and so do CEO’s. It’s not beyond the realm of “possible” to imagine a world without Facebook, where enough mistakes, bad investments, scandals, questionable IPO’s et cetera, cause this social institution to fail. Do you suppose the government would step in and help?

I don’t want you to get confused here, I’m not trying to be political as I’m really going in another direction which I hope to reveal shortly.

Millions of people spend hours and hours documenting, sharing, responding, ranting, posting, joking, pontificating, preaching, questioning, bragging and lecturing on Facebook. The number of personal images and videos put there is staggering. Some would say that this is a giant waste of time. Regardless, when you think about the fact that whole lives are being stored on FB’s massive server farms and that this may be the only place where those lives are documented, you can begin to wonder – If that’s true, a Facebook failure could in fact cause catastrophic consequences for some. Unless of course, they have a backup plan.

I was reading recently in the “AARP Bulletin” (yes, I am old enough to read this) about the need for Baby Boomers to embrace social media, especially if they are interested in looking for a job. They talk about a “digital footprint” which I thought was a great term, because it encompasses several social media properties, including your own personal website. The article suggests that this website have your name as the URL, like davidsoxman.com. And let’s face it, if you’re not out there socially, you look out of touch.

What does your financial advisor always suggest when investing your money, diversify? By doing so, you spread risk across multiple investment strategies and therefore reduce your exposure to the failure of one. I think the same applies to how you document your life experiences on the web.

There are many ways to memorialize the important events in your life and it doesn’t have to be all in one place, i.e. Facebook. Social media sites exist that cater to all kinds of interests and life styles. If your interested in a list, Wikipedia.org has an exhaustive list and even describes what they are about. Check it out even though there are some obvious omissions like Reddit, Stumble Upon, Vimeo and YouTube to name a few.

If the leadership of Facebook pulls off something really stupid and the company fails, and the government chooses not to “bail out” the social behemoth, by having your life documented across multiple online properties, you can reduce the risk that your life’s experiences could vanish with the unplugging of a server. Or, you could gamble that Facebook really is too big to fail.

I’d love to know your thoughts.


Live by the Data or Die by the Data


I know that there are hardly enough hours in the day to take care of your customers and run the business, let alone, study and correlate all the customer-centric information which is now available at your fingertips. But, it’s never been more important than now. As Mr. Dave Frankland, an analyst with Forrester espoused, 2010 and beyond is the “age of the customer.” Customers are in more control than ever, and they are wielding that power by responding to companies that understand them and their needs.


Natalie Zmuda, with Ad Age talks about the obsession with “understanding, delighting, connecting with, and serving customers,” as the only real differentiator that many companies have. I would add to that, the intelligence to predict behavior as well.


Never in history have business owners had such a vast amount of information available to them about their customers’ behavior, which can be a strong predictor of a “potential” customer’s behavior.


Facebook can tell you how many people in your area have expressed interest in what you do based upon specific terms? Google has reams of information available on what people are searching for. There are software companies that have created social media dashboards that provide the ability to see what conversations are taking place about you, whether you “follow” them or not. And just as important, there are your own sales statistics that you keep.


It is not only important to track sales, but also to be able to know the source of the sales lead. Those lead sources should be broken down sufficiently to understand what action the interested party initially took to become a lead. What products were purchased from what lead sources? As an example, if you only track that a sale of product A came from the Internet, what you don’t know is what action was taken. Did the lead fill out a “contact me” form or did they pick up the phone and call you? Did they ask a question through Facebook or were they referred by one of their LinkedIn contacts? Did they click on a QR code that you had on a print advertisement or did they come to you from your YouTube video?


Being able to tie sales back to a very specific lead source allows you to calculate which kind of lead results in the highest likelihood of a sale. Where should you spend precious sales resources to get the highest return? Where should marketing dollars go to stimulate these high value leads? What kind of message is successful in generating quality leads? Would extending that message to other sources for leads generate the same kind of quality lead there? Would it be better to focus on those products that generate the highest margins?


So, your business can prosper by paying attention to the data that’s available or not, it’s up to you. And, if you need some help with this, let us know.


All my best in your “data mining”




Expertise at Being an Expert

You hear it all the time, “Why John, he’s an expert,” or “You can get expert advice from Acme Insect Control.” And what exactly does that mean?

According to Wikepedia, an expert is defined as, “someone widely recognized as a reliable source of technical skill, whose faculty for judging or deciding rightly, justly, or wisely is accorded authority and status by their peers or the public in a specific well-distinguished domain.”

I think the key here is “accorded authority…by their peers” because I sure see this word used a lot in the first person, especially when it comes to marketing and social media.

For the life of me, I’m not sure how anyone can claim to be an “expert” in social media, when most everyone is still figuring out the best way to use it in advancing their marketing objectives. There’s some good ideas out there for measuring and applying analytic tools and we’re all pretty sure we should be doing if we’re not, but I don’t buy “social media expertise” since we’re still in the very early stages of the medium. I don’t think anyone has really had enough experience to call themselves “experts.”

What’s more, even an expert sharpshooter will miss the bull’s eye occasionally.

I have never claimed to be a marketing expert. I have years of experience working with many size companies across many industries as well as seeing how different marketing media can be used cooperatively to achieve sales goals, but I sure can’t say I’m an expert. Every client’s situation is unique, and therefore requires a different approach.

I think most very wise people will say that the more you do something, the more you study it, the more you experience with it, the more you realize how much you don’t know. Sure, you can demonstrate moments of expertise, but this world changes so quickly that it becomes extremely difficult to remain an expert.

What do you think? I’d love to know.


The CMO Outsource

Copyblogging 101

Taking an exam

Do you remember back in school when you were taking a big test – also the most quiet time of any school day – and you could almost “feel” the eyes of the person next to you stealing looks over at your work to see how you had answered a particular question? The natural reaction was to take your non-writing hand and casually put it over your work in a way that made it impossible to see your answers. This was of course unless it was this really cute red-headed girl named Tricia who I had a huge crush on and for whom I would have crossed a bed of burning embers. She could have any answer she wanted!!

Over the last few years, there has been a cataclysmic change going on concerning published content and material covered by copyright, especially on the Internet. The old saying, “What goes on the Internet, stays on the Internet” is definitely true, however with the propagation of content around the world, it becomes extremely difficult to monitor whether someone is “trying to copy your answers.”

I have blog readers from all over the world and for all I know, someone may very well have copied and pasted content from my posts into their website and claimed it as their own. I certainly don’t have the means to investigate the millions of blog posts that are put onto the Internet every day to see if someone stole my content so how am I supposed to protect what is rightfully mine? Guess what, you can’t.

This may be quite discouraging to you aspiring authors who envision one day publishing a book but the fact is, there are millions of bits of information put out into the world every day, of which 1% could easily be saying the same thing in a slightly different way and therefore construed as copying. But who is really capable of a completely, totally, original thought?  Aren’t we all influenced in subtle ways by every experience we have, and therefore when a thought does come, are we absolutely positive we came up with it? Or, as is more likely the case, the idea was planted in our brain by some experience and our thought is really just our spin on it.

Seth Godin, in his blog “Originality” says that those who truly are the idea creators, the ones who come up with that completely original thought, are generally shunned by society as being weird, crazy, out-of-touch, eccentric or just plain off their rocker.

This article isn’t about condoning outright plagiarism, and for those that do steal, there is a special and very warm condo reserved just for you in the after-life, right next to the lava river and scenic volcano, where you’ll become very familiar with a pitchfork.

No this is about being sure to give credit where credit is due. If you want to put your spin on an idea that you got from someone else, be sure and give them credit. Anyone’s idea can be improved upon in a thought provoking and interesting way, one that has your special experience and flavor.

I’d love to know your thoughts and if you need help with a strategy for blogging, please get in touch with us, we would love to help.


Your Outsourced CMO