Monday, October 31

My Webinar

This coming Thursday, November 3rd at Noon EST, I will host a webinar about Building the Brand Experience.  It's sponsored and managed by TicketLeap, a company that helps other companies to ticket and promote their own events.  A great group of folks who do great work, helping brands make the most of their event marketing.

The webinar will be a mix of content from various speaking engagements I've been doing the past few months as well from my class at NYU.  All of it of course based on my book, "The Experience Effect."  We will hit elements of the brand experience, and take a look at brands who are doing it well in the marketplace.  We'll explore Netflix, Coca-Cola, J.Crew, American Express, and Ragu.  I'm sure Apple and Starbucks will come up ... it's hard to talk about brands without mentioning those two cultural icons.  And because you can't talk about the brand experience without talking about social media, we'll do a little exploring there too.

My agency Lippe Taylor will be live tweeting the entire time as well.  You can register for it free right here.

I hope you'll like it.  I always say that marketing is a spectator sport so we will spend a lot of time looking at what others brands are doing and we will learn from them.  The marketing industry is a small world so let's get to know each other in the process.

I cherish the relationships that I've built through the years.  You just never know when you'll meet a new "friend."  Take TicketLeap as an example.  The Senior Director of Sales and Marketing there was a student of mine at NYU over the summer.  And now he's hosting one of my webinars.  The world is a big circular ride, so jump on!

Hope to "see" you on Thursday ... so you can tell me about your experience.  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President of Lippe Taylor
Author of The Experience Effect

Saturday, October 29

Stats About Halloween


As we prepare for the what some consider to be the 4th biggest holiday in America (after "December", Thanksgiving, and 4th of July), I thought I'd share some interesting facts about Halloween.  Most of the time we don't think about it, but Halloween has become a huge holiday, and a somewhat adult holiday at that!  We need to give it some credit.

Americans typically spend over $5 billion in costumes, candy, and decorations each year.  It is in fact the #2 most decorated holiday after Christmas, and the #1 photo upload holiday of the year in social media (everyone wants to show off and see each other's costumes).  This year there are projected to be 41 million trick or treaters.  We will consumer 24.7 pounds of chocolate per capita this year as well ... a lot of it around Halloween making it the #1 candy holiday of the year (Valentine's Day is #2 and Easter is #3).

There is some debate, but most ranking reports put Halloween in the top 5 of all drinking holidays ... including Super Bowl, Mardi Gras, Thanksgiving Eve, and Cinco de Mayo.  Best city to trick or treat:  San Francisco.  Why?  Not sure, but the survey was done by a real estate firm!

Maybe you can use some of these stats to spark conversations at your Halloween party ... it is the #3 biggest party night of the year after all (Thanksgiving Eve is #1 because everyone is "home" and let's not forget about the Super Bowl which is #2).

So prepare wisely and act safely.  I still have not figured out what I am wearing to our company Halloween party.  The stakes are high, though, because it's a very creative bunch.  Watch out!

Have a great Halloween experience .... Jim.

Jim Joseph
- President of Cohn & Wolfe NA
- Author of The Experience Effect series
- Professor, NYU
- Contributor, Entrepreneur and Huffington Post


PS - Your costume can say a lot about your personal brand ... see why in my new book The Personal Experience Effect

Friday, October 28

Coca-Cola Goes White

There is a short list of brands that seem to keep popping up not only in my blog but also in the minds of Americans as iconic brands, and certainly Coca-Cola is one of them.  I follow the cola wars religiously, and the beverage industry in general because there's great marketing initiatives coming from those brands all the time.

The latest is the new Coca-Cola white can, a project with the World Wildlife Fund to help save the polar bear, an icon of the brand since 1922.

The new can is meant to raise awareness and encourage consumer donations to help the WWF save the Artic region.  With every can purchased, consumers can text the special code from the packaging to donate an additional $1.00 to WWF ... Coca-Cola will match each donation until $2million is raised for the WWF.

This is the first time that the brand is walking away from its signature red packaging, but for good reason.  The polar bear's Artic home is in trouble, and Coca-Cola is not only uniquely suited to help, it's also a nostalgic part of the brand equity.

Signature Coca-Cola isn't the only brand to go "white" ... other Coca-Cola products will start to don white caps as well including bottles of Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Sprite, and Nestea.

You can find out more at the WWF's Artic Home webpage.

Brands like Coca-Cola take these kinds of signature changes seriously.  I love that Coca-Cola is taking a bold move to drive awareness and raise money.  A very positive initiative in the cola wars and the war against Global Warming.

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President of Lippe Taylor
Author of The Experience Effect
Professor at NYU

I'd like to thank Frozen Sunshine for the inspiration of today's blog post.  Thanks for reading!

Thursday, October 27

And Then Blockbuster Responds

In yesterday's blog post, I wrote about the confusion caused by Netflix and their decision to raise prices and switch around some of their services.  It left customers in a spin, and the industry scratching its head.

I find it equally interesting to see what Blockbuster did in response.  It's not like Blockbuster is an angel either, the company has been on many a list of brands that are likely to disappear.

But like in any good marketing "fight", Blockbuster seized the moment by capitalizing on customer confusion, giving people reasons and incentives to switch.  The brand reacted quickly and communicated clearly.

First was a promotional offer to "rescue" Netflix customers with a free trial period along with messaging about the superiority of Blockbuster, including getting access to new movies and games sooner ... speed to all things new is the holy grail in entertainment.

Then the social media kicked in, always a good place to capitalize on confusion, with tweets and facebook posts explaining how much better Blockbuster can be.  Even Blockbuster customers got in on the action, commenting about how much they like the services.  Always a good sign, marketing nirvana in fact, if you can get your own customers to persuade new customers to join in.  Getting your customers talking to each other positively is heaven.  Makes those social media "word clouds" so awesome!

I am not sure how Blockbuster is doing, I don't think they've released their numbers yet.  But Netflix, as reported, is down over 800,000 customers, some of whom I am sure have switched to Blockbuster -- persuaded by their opportunistic marketing.

Jim Joseph
President of Lippe Taylor
Author of The Experience Effect

PS - Join me on November 3rd for my free webinar sponsored by TicketLeap.

Wednesday, October 26

Netflix

I have not really commented at all on the Netflix saga, partly because I found it so confusing and quite frankly I didn't really care.  But hearing the news yesterday that the brand had lost over 800,000 customers last quarter and that the stock price dropped like a stone did make my ears perk up I have to say.  That and the fact that I also received an email from the company stating "Houston we have a problem" because my credit card will suddenly no longer go through.  The email literally said "Houston we have a problem!"

Now I am kind of interested.

I discovered that my confusion is actually symptomatic of the brand's problem.  All through out the summer, no one could figure out what was going on.  The price suddenly surges, the bundles are unbundled, the services transferred ... without any real explanation or logic.  People got confused; loyal customers got confused.  And they complained about it, all over social media.  And the traditional media covered it too.

The brand made a fatal mistake of not really understanding their customers and how they would react to change.  And then they made a second fatal mistake of not communicating well.  And then a third fatal mistake of not getting out in front of the "crisis" when the tide starting turning against them.

Sure the CEO did apologize, but even his explanation was confusing.  At least from my perspective.  What's all this about Quickster ... my brand is Netflix.

Marketing is hard stuff, no doubt about that.  The key is to get to know your customer as well as you can, and then over communicate.  It's a lesson that many have learned, including me.  Look at bp and Toyota as examples.  Get in front of the story and over communicate.

The interesting part, at least from what I've read, is that the company doesn't seem to really care.  From what I can tell, they are tagging the losses as "minor", which to me isn't so cool either.  There are a lot of very upset consumers, and I would never say that's minor.  Just my opinion.

Now I have to go track down why suddenly they are having trouble with my account!

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President of Lippe Taylor
Author of The Experience Effect


Tomorrow's post:  Blockbuster's reaction!!

Tuesday, October 25

Inside Communications: The Brand Experience

Today's blog post is a video ... my first actually.  A couple of weeks ago I was interviewed by Mike Bako for Inside Commnications.  We spoke at length about the brand experience, so I thought I would share it here.  Click away!

Thanks to Mike for a great "experience"!

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President of Lippe Taylor
Author of The Experience Effect

Monday, October 24

What Walmart Can Learn from Target

This is my second guest blog post as part of #Blogapalooza, allowing graduate marketing students from the University of Kansas to share their voice on our marketing blogs.  My first one was last week when Sean Roarke wrote about male stereotypes in advertising.  Today Ashley Schulte comments on her experiences with two rival retailers, Target and Walmart.  I just love hearing different points of view ... it's what makes the marketing world go round!

What's your experience, Ashley?  Jim.

When I choose between going to Target and Walmart for my shopping needs, it usually comes down to my current location or a known price point difference for certain items. But lately I notice that my Walmart leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. I don’t feel very excited to be in there, and I always (I mean always) have to wait in line on average for five or more minutes. No joke, sometimes ten. But thinking as a marketer, I realize that I genuinely enjoy being in Target versus Walmart due to a stronger brand relationship and incomparable store experience.
            
But here’s the thing: most Americans will only go to Walmart for the cheap prices. They have remained a colossal success for a reason: its business model is ironclad. The warehouse feel, the infinite inventory, the one-stop shopping keep us coming. But shouldn’t Walmart engage its customers just like everyone else?
            
While Walmart is known for being BFF’s with Procter & Gamble, Target partners with designers to create its own clothing lines, furniture, d├ęcor, and college dorm necessities. I could spend hours looking at those only-at-Target products…Walmart has some of its own homegrown stuff, but as I said before, it’s simply not the same experience to peruse those aisles.

Meanwhile, Target’s commercials are known as the most cutting-edge, creative advertising in the world. Walmart still prides itself on the “neighborhood” aspect, with its smiley faces, blue aprons, and those friendly greeters at the entrance. Perhaps Target is the upscale version of Walmart with a more limited selection of items, but it seems that Walmart is due for an experiential makeover. After all, Walmart already has such a wide, diverse customer base; I doubt they’ll offend anyone in particular if a few things change.

Walmart doesn’t necessarily need to model itself exactly after Target, but why are there no conversations about changing the store’s look and putting out some new advertising material? Are the same ancient dudes that opened the first store running the marketing too? For instance, if everyone is still going to go there for all of the reasons I previously listed (read: cheap), why can’t the store look change a bit? Just because it’s basically like shopping in a giant warehouse, why does it have to look like a warehouse? It’s just not that pleasant. And when was the last time Walmart put out a commercial that made you think, WOW, Walmart really connected with me as wanting to meet my needs? Are they not an industry leader, don’t they have the money to re-vamp its image? We all like a cheap buy, but I even like to buy Target’s off-brand Up & Up™ brand over Walmart’s Equate™ because the packaging is more appealing. Oh, and by the way, I receive several coupons in the mail for the former to remind me to go to Target and repeat purchase…hmmm…hint, hint, Walmart? You’re losing me there, and this is your own brand!

With the exception of my exchanges with the sweet Walmart greeters, I don’t feel I have any real relationship with the store like I do with Target. The only excitement I feel about going there is spending $3.50 rather than $3.75. So perhaps I propose that Walmart, as an industry leader, could stand to improve its sexy factor (and I bet they have the money to do it!) I’m not asking for the equivalent appeal of an IKEA or Apple store, but if I am one of many Americans who inevitably will end up shopping there for the cheap prices, don’t they want me to want to be in there? Don’t they want to engage customers instead of “expect” our business? Give me something to do while I wait in the never-ending lines, put a little OOMPH in the marketing, re-vamp the stores, and re-invent your self-made wheel! If we need to take baby steps, let’s start with that fluorescent lighting.

Ashley Schulte
I am a Marketing Communications graduate student at the University of Kansas. Through curriculum in branding, experience marketing, and innovation in management, my aim in life is to find ways to improve customer/brand touchpoints and experiences.