Social Next Presentation at the Alternative Marketing Conference by Infopresse, Montreal June 2, 2010

I had a great opportunity to present a segment on Social Next at Infopresse in Montreal yesterday. This provides businesses with a look at events that have catapulted the need for social, as well as brand examples who are doing great things in this medium. Basic strategies and principles are incorporated to help businesses get started. Enjoy!
>Social Next for Infopresse Conference, Alternative Marketing June 2nd, 2010

The ‘Dominos’ Effect: Pay Attention to your Customers, A View from the Brand Perspective

This is a story about a brand journey in social media. It is about a highly visible brand whose experience within the social media space had a tremendous impact to consumer perception about their brand, their operations, and ultimately revenue.

Dominos Pizza. This is an interesting social media example because of the strong media coverage that resulted from the events that have preceded Dominos in the last year. Chris Brandon of Dominos Pizza is here today to give us his company’s view and how it has changed the way they do business.

Q: Welcome Chris! Could you please tell us about your role within Dominos?

CB: Hi…appreciate the opportunity to talk with you guys.  My role within Domino’s, among some other event-related responsibilities, is management of our entire PR effort – including consumer PR, media relations, social media, local outreach, etc.  The only facets of PR that I am less involved with are investor relations, and for the most part crisis communications.  We have people on separate teams that are full-time dedicated to that.

Q: Now let’s take you back a few years to 2008! Prior to the boom in social media
What did Dominos do to initiate engagement with its consumers?  Either online or offline?

CB: We have been engaged with customers through social media for about a year and a half now…certainly our new pizza launch has taken things up a notch – as we are using social media more so than ever before – but we have been active in the spectrum for about a year.  We were on Twitter, on Facebook, monitoring blogs, etc.  Much of that led to hearing what customers were saying about our pizza, and realizing there was room for improvements – which is exactly what we eventually did!

Q: In 2008, how would you have rated yourself as a Marketing Company in terms of audience engagement? 1 being poor vs. 5 being strong

CB: A rating like that is difficult to say…but we have always been in tune with what our consumers have had to say – as recently demonstrated by our “thanking” them for inspiring us to continue to improve, and by how we communicated our new pizza launch.  We have only gotten better.  Social media has helped that, as we can communicate with them directly in ways that were not available before.

Q: Let’s take you back to spring 2009 when a video appeared in Youtube: revealing a Domino’s employee in a NC franchise assembling sandwiches and inappropriately handling ingredients before putting these same ingredients on the bread. It didn’t take long for that video to go VIRAL and soon that video was encroaching on one million plus views.

Tell me about what was happening within Dominos at that time? What was the immediate reaction? [Read more…]

Social Economics: For All Brands, You Have No CHOICE But To Do This!

I saw a video the other day on Twitter from Crumple it Up. The original post came from Socialnomics. It finally brought to light all the reasons why brands, who still hesitate to engage in social media, should do it now. This is not a fad or a testing arena. Social media is a place that’s existed for a long time and has gone undetected by the big brands. This is a place that’s held powerful discussions that have affected the very brands that have ignored or dismissed it. This is a place that can impact every part of your organization as a whole. This is a place that will change the way you think and approach your business.

I understand why it’s difficult to enter into this space: some brands aren’t ready to face the consumer head on… one to one…in conversation.  This is not a medium that befits a corporate PR guy, willing and ready to pull together approved responses espousing the view of the corporation to the masses. No one in the social arena pays heed to any of the corporate speak. They just want to talk and they want to be heard.

For those brands who hesitate and fear the medium, here’s what I have to say:

  • Start-ups have been engaging in social media for years and have benefited greatly. They were not endowed with huge marketing budgets so they’ve had to resort to more efficient roll-up-your-sleeves-type approaches to succeed. The key to building strong and enduring brand: do it one satisfied customer at a time!
  • People want to talk to you and they want you to listen to them. Be warned that you will hear the good and the bad. The key is learning from it and understanding its implications.
  • Confront your detractors. They are the key to making you greater. One of my clients continues to engage with the complainers, as well as the rally-the-troops-and-boycott-the-company type misfits. And they’re tackling it one issue at a time. The company has a long way to go to earn respect and confidence from its customers but the very act of engaging has mitigated customer churn. It has also provided a NEW avenue for customers to provide their views and suggestions and to feel like they’re being listened to. Once you satisfy a detractor, he will be your most avid supporter. And be ready to open the doors to a flood of new business.
  • Engage as a person. You don’t need the veil of an organized, PR-approved response — that goes nowhere in this space. It’s akin to meeting new people at a Christmas party: Introduce yourself. Tell the other person about you. Then ask about the other person. Stop and listen and understand. Remember, the corporate voice needs a human voice to be accessible and to engage in meaningful dialogue.
  • It’s not easy. It takes a lot of work. But the effort produces strong relationships that are lasting. And the money….it’ll be there as well…guaranteed!

Good luck!

Mentos Campaign Proves the Value of Consumer Generated Branding

It’s becoming more commonplace to see campaigns that leverage the strength of the consumer’s viewpoint and deliver a spectacular product from a grassroots view. Mentos is among those that has succeeded in this realm.

Yonge-Dundas Square on August 13 was a scene of fun in the sun, with giant slides, gladiator challenges, and hilarious Sumo wrestling competitions. This was an adult fun park, conceived by Toronto resident, Danielle Lamarche, winner of the 2009 Mentos Campaign, “Make your World Go Rounder“.

Cossette was the agency responsible for this campaign. The premise: Make Your World Go Rounder was meant to be light-hearted and fun, and make Canadians smile by reminding them about life’s simple pleasures. According to Alison Neil of Cossette, “In the competitive and cluttered gum market we wanted to bring attention to a product feature of Mentos Gum, their roundness (the only round gum on the market), hence “make your world go rounder… we certainly consider this campaign to be non-traditional. We decided to develop an experiential/User Generated Content campaign to engage consumers, develop a dialogue with them and enhance their brand experience.”

Danielle Lamarche, who received a cash prize of $5000 summed up the day this way: “The event was extremely well received. An unbelievable amount of people came to the fun park. It was so well set up and had blow up games that even adults loved to participate in. It was steady all day and fairly long lines actually began to form after 6pm.”

Lamarche’s winning response : “Put up an Adult Fun Park in Dundas Square with blow up slides and more. We all want to be kids again!” Says Lamarche, “I really wanted to give a suggestion that would be something adults could do to let loose. I knew that it also had to the affordable and executable. It also needed to be an idea that could be Mentos Gum branded. I always watch out of the corner of my eye when kids play on the blow up toys these days and wish I was still able to do it as well. I’m sure many other adults feel that way so why not give them a chance to do it for a day?”

What does she think of the Mentos brand now? She sees a brand that tries to encourage positive thinking. “A lot of the responses that I saw were about giving to others, donations to charity, and making a mass audience happy. … People want to be happy and want to see the world become a better place. We’ve come to a time now where people are becoming much more aware of what is going on in the world and I think it’s important for brands to be aware and responsive to it.”

The campaign focus was the website: (www.makeyourworldgorounder.ca and http://www.pourquevotremondetourneplusrond.ca) but was heavily supported by out of home, transit, radio and web advertising. The latter also included social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr to support the contest, communicate the new line of products, begin developing brand loyalty, and help with Mentos Gum SEO.

The response to the contest was overwhelming. Close to 20,000 idea submissions in Canada were received.
According to Neill, “We feel that we’ve accomplished our goals of increasing brand awareness and communicating that Mentos Gum is a great, fun product that is close to consumers.”

In using consumer generated content to help fuel conversation, Neill agrees that UGC (User-generated content) works. Says Neill, especially ” when you listen to your consumers, participate in the dialogue and give back to them. We are big believers in experiential marketing at Cossette.”

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