Archive for March, 2009

@levarburton, @THE_REAL_SHAQ, @MayorSamAdams, and @natronics … just to name a small few.

Who are these? Famous people that you can now connect with on a new level! Like my roommmate @tappenzeller said last night, “There’s something comforting about knowing LeVar Burton eats sandwiches.” It reminds us that famous people are human – just like us. And the more “normal” they seem, the more likely we are to listen if they use Twitter to promote products.

Twitter has made marketing the famous so easy. Just yesterday, Shaquille O’Neal was in town to play the Blazers and sent out this tweet, “Anybody in portland touches me rt now will get two tickets I’m at redstar cafe.”

Next we see the winners, “And the winner is @cbakes and @dondondon and @mmirkil” and “100 people n the prtland area just came for tickets wow portland twitterers r niiiiiice.”

WOW! How awesome and easy is that!? And it created tons of word of mouth! I imagine that this is probably already being used to push products. How could it not? So if you see a certain celebrity twittering, “wow, snapple sure tastes great in the summer!”, I would question whether they just got paid $10,000 to say that or whether they really love Snapple that much.

(On a related note, visit CelebrityTweet! for famous-people-twitter-stalking)


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Word of mouth is a delicate recipe—sometimes the smallest changes can make the biggest difference.

Take timing, for instance.

Let’s say that maybe, just maybe, you’re a bank or a credit union. And you’ve decided that to drive a lot of business and “wow” a lot of customers/members, you’re going to give people $500 cash back when they close their home equity line of credit with you.

What would you do? Well, duh. You’d run an ad with a big starburst that says “get $500 cash back at closing!” Seems obvious, right?

Well, what if you changed your timing a bit? What if you gave customers/members their $500 cash back AFTER the transaction. When they weren’t expecting it. After they were already satisfied and happy. When it would seem like a bonus.

Just changing the timing of the mention and delivery of the $500 would make ALL the difference in the world! In the first scenario, your customers/members would walk into your branch with the expectation and sense of entitlement to that $500. Sure, they’d be happy, but when you handed them the money, you’d be fulfilling their expectations…not exceeding them.

On the other hand, imagine the mind-blowing impact if you were the customer/member, and you received this phone call the day AFTER closing your loan:

“Hey, John? Yeah, this is Carol down at the bank. Hey, I wanted to let you know, we were going over our records from the loan you got yesterday, and we discovered something. Yeah, it turns out we decided we could lower the fees. So I’m going to send you a check for $500 today. Are you cool with that?”

Think about that. The client is already happy with their experience with you. They obviously felt they got a good deal (or they wouldn’t have come in the first place), and we’ll assume you provided a good experience. Now when you go and TOTALLY EXCEED their expectations with something so UNEXPECTED and seemingly unnecessary, the impact is ten-fold!

Refine the art of timing, and you can take your word of mouth from “wow” to “holy @#$%”

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Usually we discuss other people’s great marketing ideas and campaigns, but thought it was about time to showcase one of our own. Enter Brownie Points, a local word of mouth marketing campaign we recently launched for Portland, OR- based Point West Credit Union.
What is it, you ask? Simply put, it’s a fun (and tasty) way to tell your friends, family and co-workers about Point West’s competitive rates on CDs and loans. Here’s how it works: Go to the microsite, where you can send Brownie Points to your Portland-area friends for all the smart moves they make. With those points, your friends can either A) Get a free brownie at a local bakery, or B) Get a better rate on CDs or loans at Point West. Plus, if you live in Portland, you get a brownie for sending the email!
Brownie Points can be sent for almost anything. Has your best friend been extra attentive lately? Has your colleague done a great job on the new website? Has your mom started volunteering at the community center? Through the Brownie Points campaign, you can congratulate anyone with an email address for the smart moves they’ve been making. Go to the microsite and click on “Brownie Point-ers” to see recent recipients and the clever things they’ve been recognized for.

The message is spreading exponentially, and hundreds of Brownie Points emails have already been sent. If you are in Portland or know somebody in Portland, send some points their way and let them know about Point West’s great product offering.

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Image from Coolhunter

Diesel are opening their big Five on Fifth NYC store with some very gawk-inducing antics. Not that this should come as a surprise – the brand has always been pretty darn good at drawing attention to itself (take the Diesel Denim Dating campaign, for example). That’s why people pay a ridiculous premium on Diesel jeans.

Diesel is foregoing the ubiquitous “store opening party” with trendy guests and DJs, because frankly, that’s the everyday norm at their stores and not exactly buzzworthy. What they are doing, is putting on weird/lavish storefront dinner parties featuring well-known New York personalities, who, as Oberholtzer Creative put it, “embody the essence of the hipper side of New York”. One night’s dinner party featured NY Giants, another featured a gaggle of Ford models. The campaign puts a spin on the classic New York tradition of window shopping, as well as the use of celebrity promotions and the newer fad of live models in window displays.

The campaign is a good example of taking a traditional marketing tactic (window-displays), and shaking it up to generate word of mouth. Not only has Diesel generated a slew of publicity about their new store, they’ve also made talkers (and gawkers) of a lot of passerby.

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Case in point: Skittles. The multicolored candy brand has dumped its normal “corporate” website in lieu of a homepage dominated by user-generated content. Right now, if you go to Skittles.com, you’ll first be asked to input your birth year into a disclaimer basically stating, “hey, we didn’t write this stuff”. Then you can access the homepage which is just realtime results for “skittles” in Twitter. In other words, anyone who mentions anything including the word “skittles” in one of their tweets, gets their message posted right on the rainbow candy conglomerate’s website. Yes, even very very inappropriate messages. A few days ago, a visit to Skittles.com would have directed you straight to the Wikipedia article about the company, (again, user-generated content that Skittles doesn’t control). While the homepage has now changed into a Twitter feed, the individual pages in the “Products” section still go to Wikipedia.


Skittles isn’t the first company to do this. Actually, they are kind of ripping off Modernista, whose website went straight to the Wikipedia article on the company before it was pulled. I think this move is significant because it does two things:

  1. It acknowledges that a brand is simply whatever consumers make it out to be. Brandtags:“The basic idea of this site is that a brand exists entirely in people’s heads. Therefore, whatever it is they say a brand is, is what it is…” (See our post on The Truth Hurts)
  2. It fosters conversation. People get really excited when they are given a prominent venue to make their voices heard. Consumers chatter about the brand, bloggers write about the company’s ballsy move. Free PR!

Now opinions about the Skittles site have been really divided. A lot of people hate it, a few people love it. A lot of people familiar with Modernista see it as a rip-off and a way to get easy headlines. The point is, they’re all talking about Skittles, and when you get to the bottom line, that’s what the company wanted.

I’m not advocating that banks do anything like this to their websites. That would even make me a little uncomfortable. But, maybe what they can learn from this is that loosening the reigns a little can foster word of mouth. They will probably hear some negative and inappropriate opinions, but the bank will look more transparent in the public eye… which is really important for an industry trying to foster consumer-trust.

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