If you walk through your entire shopping experience as if you're a customer or prospect from before the first interaction (when a prospective customer starts searching for something you sell), it is likely you'll find something you can improve upon. As you do this, everything may be good, but try to think of ways to make it memorable. In a good way, of course!
If you're a retail store owner, put your customer hat on and take off your owner hat for a moment. Start by doing a quick online search for something you sell. Let's say you sell kayaks. Try a couple searches like, "kayaks near me", "kayaks for sale", or "kayaking in Tampa [insert your local town]".
Side note: You can use tools such as Keywords Everywhere (which is free) to find ideas for related high-volume searches. In this case, you'll see that "kayaking rentals near me" has search volume of 40,500. "fishing kayaks for sale" has 14,800 search queries per month with the low CPC cost of $0.74. If you're going to run some Google Ads campaigns, you might want to buy "fishing kayaks for sale". If you offer rental services, you'll want to optimize your website for "kayaking rentals near me".
Okay, back on track. If you've searched and found your business right on top of the listings, great job! If you couldn't find your business at all, you've got some work to do.
Next, let's go shopping! Start from the very beginning of the customer journey. Pull into your parking lot and park. Remember to wear your customer hat. Begin by observing your surroundings. How do you feel? Start asking yourself questions such as, "Are there enough spots?", "Is the parking lot clean?", "Are the neighboring businesses inviting too?". Take note of every part of this parking experience from landscaping to litter. Now that you've parked, walk up to the building. Is the entryway inviting? Did you see something that interested you in the window?
I think you're getting the idea now. When you walk in the store, was the staff helpful? Overly helpful? Were things organized in a way that made you want to browse? Were you able to find what you were looking for? Did you find additional items you liked but weren't looking for?
Think of each of your senses. Here's the really fun part because one of the advantages retail operations have over e-commerce businesses is that you can engage all of the senses. So have some fun with it! Sight: Was the store well lit and clean? Or was it dark, dusty and cluttered? Touch: Sticking with the kayak example, put your paddles out for people to pick up and stand next to. If you sell deck bags, put one out for people to open up and see how much they can fit into it. Sound: What kind of music is playing? Think about what will appeal to your audience. Since outdoorsy people will likely be shopping at your store, you might want to put in a fountain so you can incorporate the sound of running water. Smell: How about the smell of fresh pine, leaves or a campfire? You can do this with candles or air fresheners. Taste: Bonus points if you don't sell food and you still incorporate taste. This is really fun, so get creative. What if you had some s'mores Girlscout cookies sitting around a tabletop fireplace for people to eat as they browse? That'll really get them into the spirit -- and likely keep them in the store a little longer!
Okay, now for the final checkpoint. You've selected the items you want to purchase and take them to check out. How long do you have to wait in line? Was the cashier friendly? Did your items, including sale items, ring up correctly? Did you have any problems with your coupons? Were you invited to join the loyalty program or email list? Did your credit card process quickly? Are the bags environmentally friendly?
Now that you're back in your car and you're happy with your newly purchased items, ask yourself one more question. What would have made you want to stay longer or buy one more thing? Maybe you can't think of a thing. But maybe there is something simple that can take your sales to the next level.
No matter what product or service you're selling, it's always a good idea to shop yourself. If you're an e-commerce business, you can still go through many of these steps. It's important because you rely so heavily on your website to make sales. Your questions to yourself may be a little different, but the overall goal is the same. Think about your website speed, your checkout process, the flow of the sale. Think about how you feel when you shop online somewhere else and try to incorporate the things you like and avoid the things you don't like. If, at any point, there is something that interferes with your purchase, make sure to correct it right away. Give some thought too, to how to up-sell and cross-sell.
If you're a service-based business, how many rings does it take for someone to answer the phone? Did you get all of your questions answered? Were appointments met on time? Were work estimates accurate? And once again, how easy was it to make a payment? You always want to make sure your customer has the easiest path possible to give you their money.
Oftentimes we forget to shop ourselves because we're so busy but it will be time well spent. I've found so many opportunities to improve and increase sales by simply walking thought my own customers' experience.
There is one thing that I think separates good marketers from great marketers. It's actually very simple -- anyone can do it. It doesn't take a fancy education or even a whole lot of experience. All you need is a little imagination. (A bit of research helps too.)
It's empathy. Put yourself in the shoes of somebody you're targeting. Speaking of shoes, we'll walk through an example as if that's what you sell. Close your eyes and imagine somebody wearing your shoes. What else are they wearing? Where do they go for lunch? What do they do on the weekend? What do they do for a living?
Answering questions like these will provide insight that can guide you through everything else you do. Once you "know" this person, you can connect with them.
Now... Let's dig a little deeper. Let's say you're selling these shoes. (below)
Let's try to picture the person who is wearing them. In my mind, I'm thinking of someone who is interested in sports or fitness. Possibly running. If I were wearing these shoes, I may have had a smoothie for breakfast and will probably do a workout after work. This person is confident, disciplined, and has a lot of friends. They're 25 -- 34 years old and college educated. They're mid-level in their career with aspirations of growing professionally. They prefer to communicate through text message or social media.
What you've done is begun to build a persona. Now take it one step further. Try to think of someone you know who is like this person and dig a little deeper into what makes them tick. Where do they shop? Do they consult online reviews? When they buy online, are they willing to pay for shipping? If you don't know, shoot your friend a text (because that's how they prefer to communicate) and ask them. Now that you've associated the person you're selling to with somebody you know, you'll have even more insight as to how to reach more people like them in meaningful ways.
With the answers to all these questions, you can start to think about what to say to these people and where to say it. You will be able to say more with less. This is important because in our world, you only have a few seconds to capture somebody's interest.
If you don't take the time to think through who you're going to be talking to, you may be doing a lot of work and not getting your best results. I'm passionate about finding ways to connect with all kinds of people. If you're not interested in someone's life or you don't take the time to get to know them, you're not really connecting. The more you can connect, the more you'll sell.
Pursuing the extraordinary with passion.
Recently I've been asked how to execute a marketing campaign. The answer is: There is no simple answer. Every campaign is different. In my attempt to help my friends asking for advice, I would begin to dive into several questions that I always ask myself. I thought these were simple questions because it has become second nature to me, but the reality is, it doesn't come so easy when you're not exposed to it every day. So that leads me to my first rule of thumb.
Rule Number One: Never assume somebody knows what you're talking about. Take it back a notch.
Even though every campaign is different, there are some things that remain static. You're going to have to answer some questions before you get started. The answers to these questions will give you the guidance you need to nail down the details of your campaign.
What is your goal? Sounds like a no-brainer, but it's not as easy as you may think. Oftentimes I find that people have a lot of goals. If that's the case, you may need more than one campaign. Break away your first objective, then go through the rest of my list and repeat with the rest. Once you've identified your most important goal, write it down. Refer back to it on a regular basis. Your goal may be: Build brand awareness, generate new leads, gain loyalty, increase sales conversions, etc.
2. Target Audience
Who is your campaign talking to? A consumer? A company? A person within a company? Try to identify as many details as you can around your target market. How old are they? Where do they live? How many kids do they have?
Now that you know your goal and who you're targeting, it's time for the fun stuff! Think about your target audience. Pretend to be them for a moment.
Maybe you're a Gen Xer, but you're targeting Gen Y. It makes it easier to put yourself in their shoes if you can think about a couple people you know in the category you're targeting. Maybe you're targeting a certain gender or people in a specific profession. Try to get in their head. Google your butt off. Take lots of notes.
Okay, things are starting to add up. It's time to put your research to work. Now, make a list of all the places you can reach your audience. Online (search, facebook, website, blogs, etc.), mobile device, mailbox, restaurants, community events... Every time you're out somewhere and you see someone who fits the description of who you're targeting, add that place to your list.
Here is where you take all of the things you just put so much work into and put them together. What are you going to say to your audience so you can achieve your goal? Where are you going to place your content so it resonates? How are you going to position it so it's relevant within the channel? First, you'll have to determine the type of content you'll be creating. Are you going to write a case study? Create a template, infographic, video? To be more efficient, you can repurpose the same message for different channels. And don't forget rule number one (above). Here are a couple basic pointers you can use:
Frequency is so important because you don't want to become a nuisance. If you're annoying somebody, it becomes highly likely they will tune you out. Then when they're ready to buy, they'll remember that you annoyed them and they may go with a competitor instead. The tricky part is to find a balance because you don't want them to forget about you either.
Frequency is a lot easier when your content is relevant. If you're giving them information they want or need, at a time they want it, they're much more likely to pay attention. You can use a marketing calendar to help you with your frequency strategy.
Make sure you have a way to track the success of your campaign. There's always a way. Try to think about how you're going to report the value, preferably in dollars. Bosses always equate value to dollars.
Don't forget to look at the budget. I put this down here, rather than at the top, because I didn't want the budget to limit your creativity. If you can't afford to implement all your ideas, save them for later. Pick one, make it successful and then maybe you'll have more money to spend later.
Now you launch your campaign, but the work doesn't end there...
You already implemented a way to track this thing. Good job! Now take a look at the data. Celebrate your return on investment (ROI). Put it in a format that others understand so you can communicate what you've done and where you want to go from here.
11. Continuous Improvement
If you're happy with your results, you don't have to do anything different. I almost always find one or two things I could have done better. If the first attempt isn't perfect, improve it the next time around. You can even A/B test different colors, subject lines, form fields, CTA's, etc.
Oh and by the way, if your campaign ends up sucking after all, don't be afraid to kill it. You've already got plenty of ideas from going through this process, so go ahead and try another one.
By Tonya Cardinali
Before going through Agile training, the only involvement I’d had with IT departments was that of the typical non-IT employee. I submitted tickets for things that were broken, lost passwords, etc. I would work with the technical people to make something, make something work, or make something work differently, usually website- or CRM-focused. I never really understood what went into the process, or how to truly communicate what I wanted. So I would draw pictures – the only common language we shared.
Imagine my surprise when I arrive at a new job to learn I’m going to be going through Scrum (“What’s that?”) training to become a Product Owner.
Imagine my added surprise when I realized, three years later, that though I’m no longer using Agile Methodologies at the company I currently work at, I’ve unconsciously applied them to my method of communication.
In Agile requirements gathering, you are taught to write a requirement in a very specific way.
Part 1: "As a ________," Here, you are supposed to define your audience.
“As a consumer…”
“As a stakeholder…”
You are forced to take a step back to let the developer know whom they’re building this for.
Part 2: "…I would like ________ (to happen)…" This is the easy part. This is what we’re all used to communicating.
“…I want similar books to the ones I’ve already read, to be recommended to me on my account….”
“…I want a real-time report that tells me how many sales I’ve made...”
Part 3: "…, so that _______" This is the “why”. This is important so the developer can understand how your requirement will be used. What value does the consumer or stakeholder (or whomever) get out of it this development?
“…so I can easily find books to buy, by new authors in a similar genre.”
“…so I can check regularly to see if I’m on target to meet my sales goals.”
As I mentioned earlier, I hadn’t used any of this in a couple of years. Or so I thought. I caught myself writing a standard e-mail asking for something, where I would normally only communicate Part 2. This time, without even thinking, I’d included the “who” and the “why”. So I got to thinking about how many times I’d done this without even realizing it. I’ve done it in meetings, when trying to explain something. I’ve turned it around on other people, to better understand what they were asking me for. I believe this has saved me a lot of time in exchanging multiple e-mails or preventing me from starting on a project but having to backtrack because I didn’t fully understand the need.
Little did I know this simple requirements gathering exercise would help me to become a better communicator overall.
By Tonya Cardinali
London came and went so quickly. I don't know it really even warrants a full blog post of its own. Also, things didn't quite work out as we'd planned. We'll see how this goes. At least you'll get some highlights.
We arrived around 1:00 p.m. We didn't do our research because we'd I'd been to London a few times before, and we'd banked on doing a hop-on-hop-off bus tour to get an overview. Little did we know, they only run until 5:00 p.m.. Once we ate and checked into the hotel, there wasn't even time to do the tour if we'd stayed on the bus for an entire round so we decided just to pick out some highlights and run with it.
We stayed at the Crowne Plaza-The City, which was a nice room, nice size. The downside: Internet was a separate charge and there was literally only ONE available power outlet in the room, including the bathroom. No outlet in the bathroom? I found that strange.
For lunch, we walked across the street to The Black Friar, a historic English pub. The building is wedge-shaped and has been around since the 12th century. It was used as a monastery, a Parliament Chamber and changed hands a couple more times, before becoming the haunted pub, as it stands today. Supposedly the doors will open and close on their own, and glasses will move from one place to another as a way for their friendly ghost to make its presence known. If you're looking for traditional British pub food, this is a good spot.
Our first tourist destination was Big Ben. We hopped on the Tube and got off at an extraordinarily busy section of town, where people are all trying to get a look at the famous Houses of Parliament and the clock tower.
If you're at Big Ben, and turn about 180 degrees and look, you'll see the London Eye. Another tourist cluster. If you want to go up in the Eye, I highly recommend getting tickets in advance, to skip the line.
After a quick look at the London Eye, we went over to the Tower Bridge. This was both of our favorite site. The Tower Bridge is often mistaken as the London Bridge because it is more visually iconic than the London Bridge.
From there, we walked over to Covent Garden, just as the vendors were packing up for the evening. Then a few blocks away to Trafalgar Square. By this time, it was dark, and the fountains were lit up. We didn't have time, but the National Gallery is here as well. Across the street is a rooftop bar across the street at the Trafalgar Hotel, that is open during the warmer months, called Vista Bar.
The next morning, we got up and walked about seven minutes from the hotel, over to St. Paul's Cathedral before breakfast. It's definitely worth a look!
This next part is important: We used the last of our British pounds for breakfast, assuming we could use a credit card for our cab to the train station. Wrong, we were! Most of the taxis only accept cash and when we did finally find one that said they accepted credit, our cards were declined once we got to the station, causing us to miss our train to Paris. Luckily I asked to pay in Euros, and the driver accepted it at a not-so-good exchange rate. We were able to make the next train, which was a half hour later. Another thing to remember... If you're taking the Chunnel, you have to go through security at the station, so be there MORE THAN a half hour early, to be safe. We arrived a half hour early, on the dot. This is how we cut it so close.
Here are some additional worthwhile highlights we didn't have time for:
Hyde Park (This is where the famous Speakers' Corner is.)
If you're into shopping, Oxford Street is London 's most famous shopping destination.
St. Patty's day didn't even exist this year in my mind. We spent the entire day on airplanes. It was a dreaded day, but necessary to get to the next, much anticipated day... March 18. The first day of our honeymoon!
We arrived in Edinburgh at 6:30 a.m., without much sleep. We checked into the hotel the Ibis Southbridge. It was simple, clean and well located. It had a pod of a bathroom. The efficiency of the space was rather impressive. The beds weren't terrible either. We took one look at the bed and resisted the temptation to lie down. We decided to stay awake to get our bodies adjusted to the timezone. With that decision, we knew we needed to get out of the room fast.
First stop, Edinburgh Castle. Right after getting a fantastic cup of coffee at the Brew Lab, to give us a little pick-me-up. Great atmosphere too. The Castle was neat, old, but somewhat underwhelming. We explored for a while and then ventured on to get some lunch at the World's End. Nick liked his fish and chips. I got a meat pie that was pretty terrible. Everything on my plate was bland. My beer was good though.
Next, we decided to take Rick Steves' recommendation and stop at Cadenheads to get some Scotch. Neither of us are scotch drinkers but we like whiskey and bourbon. Before we walked in, Nick warned me not to mention Rick Steves. He'd read reviews on the place saying they get a ton of tourists in there who are looking for free tastings. Sure enough, the guy made mention of this, saying we could have a taste if we were going to buy something. We would have gladly paid for it but their license doesn't allow them to sell tastings. He poured a taste of lowland malt scotch directly from the barrel, into our glass. We liked it so we bought it. Then he recommended we go to Kilderkin's bar up the street and taste some more of their stuff. So that's what we did. The bar tender, Whiskers, was very nice. We told him Cadenheads had sent us to try some more of their scotch options. We told him what we liked, and based on that, he poured us four additional samples. We drank those and made our decision. Had no idea what to expect as to the tab. Nick and I debated. £20? £50? It was only £12.50! So we get back to Cadenheads and they don't have the one we like. We decided we wanted to try a rum barrel aged bottle but he didn't have a open bottle to try. Back to Kilderkin's, we went! We ended up deciding on a bottle from the first tasting, that was a little out of our comfort zone.
We walked the Royal Mile for a while, and then over to Old Town to hit a genuine Scottish Pub Nick had found online, called Bow Bar. The Royal Mile was touristy; I liked Old Town much better. The shops and pubs were colorful and unique there.
After Old Town, we decided to head outside the tourist zone a bit. Nick is always finding fantastic spots for us through his love of beer. He found two restaurants near each other, that are known for their beer selection. First, Cloisters, where we also grabbed a burger to share. It was quite good. I'd wished we'd each gotten our own! Oh and I should mention, all the beers were cask... Cellar temperature and very low carbonation.
After Cloisters, we went to another place known for their beer; Hanging Bat Beer Cafe. This was a favorite. The atmosphere was great, very contemporary though. It didn't have that authentic Scottish feel. It was very local. By the this time, it was about 8:00 p.m., we were nearly falling asleep at the bar. We took a cab back to the hotel and crashed. Day one over and out.
Day two was a little more low key because we'd checked off most of the things on our list on day one. We slept in, until 10:00 because our bodies were beat from more than 30 hours of no sleep the day before! We stopped for breakfast at a fantastic farm-to-table restaurant called Edinburgh Larder. They were serving breakfast so I initially ordered the quiche. Apparently quiche is lunch... So then I made a quick decision to go with the French toast. It. Was. Amazing. The French toast itself was pretty basic. It was the topping that was amazing. It was a mixture of apples and berries cooked in cinnamon and vanilla. No syrup. No syrup necessary.
The one thing I'd really wanted to do in Edinburgh was Arthur's Seat -- a hike to the top of a hill that overlooks the town. The hike up was steep, especially for us Floridians. I'm not a fan of heights, so the trail that was about the width of my arm span, and then dropped off the side of a cliff, was rather unnerving to me! But I pushed forward. We got to a spot where it became steeper, but was close to the top of the mountain. That was about the point where Nick started anticipating the trip back down. As I started overcoming my fear, his began. Without knowing how much further the top was, he wanted to start back down the hill. I wanted to go to the top. We had a small dilemma on our hands. He begrudgingly agreed to continue onward. Upward. And so we went. Once you get to the top of the hill, it is exactly as you would expect Scotland to be. Hilly and green. The day was beautiful. We got lucky with the weather. The sun was shining, about 50 degrees, standing on top of a giant hill we'd just climbed up , overlooking the city of Edinburgh!
Welp, that was fun. Time to head back down. We'd worked up an appetite so we wanted to go to anotherRick Steves place on our list, Old Bell Inn. We needed to map it, so first we stopped at a random pub called Tollbooth tavern, in hopes that they had WiFi. We grabbed a beer and mapped out our destination, stopping in some shops along the way. Old Bell was another local spot with great food. I had the lamb shank, Nick had fish and chips again, and we shared an amazing cartelized onion and goat cheese tart.
Once again, off the beaten path, and once again, a Rick Steves suggestion, (he hasn't steered us wrong yet!) we headed up the road about a tenth of a mile to John Leslie Fine Ales. We were the only tourists in the place. There was a cute little spaniel dog that reminded me of Simmer only black, skinnier, and super sweet with people. Okay, the only thing that reminded me of Simmer was that it was a dog and a spaniel. The best part about this place was the guy next to us. We talked to him about his travels and ours, and then he bought our beers for us. There was another interesting character on our way out the door. He was drunk but jovial. Really the best thing about Edinburgh was the people. The people really made the place. Everyone is nice and they all seem happy.
About a half mile in the direction of the hotel was The Abbey, a whisky (no "e" in Scotland) bar. We stopped to try to refine our pallets for scotch a bit more. We shared two taste tours that consisted of three different scotches. The first one, we stayed with the familiar lowland malt. Our favorite of the three was Bladnoch 1993. The next tour we ventured out a bit and went with the 18 year selection. Our favorite there was Highland Park, a smokey but smooth island malt.
Last stop day two: Brew Dog... Of course! The brewery is located in Scotland, but not Edinburgh. This was a beer bar that served their brews. It was very Americanized. The beers were on taps and much more robust in flavor. Brew Dog distributes in the US. This was a good spot too. The beer was just okay I preferred some of the other cask porters I'd had to Brew Dog's. But I enjoyed the place and it was a short walk back to the hotel.
And that, my friends, was our Edinburgh adventure! I'm writing this on the train to London. We've only got one day in London, so stay tuned for more Adventures of Nick and Tonya.
By Tonya Cardinali
My grandmother is 85 years old. She’s the only grandparent I have left, and one of my favorite people on earth. She has been known to say things like, “Men – aah, I’m not interested in men – unless I found one with a lot of money, that’s got one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel.”
I was talking to her on the phone the other day when she started telling me a story about her life – life before I was born. It wasn’t much part of the story she was telling, but more her mentioning in passing that she used to wash clothes on a washboard and she didn’t like having to heat her iron up with coals. That’s what inspired this blog post. I hadn’t actually put much thought into it, but before she said that, I didn’t realize I knew someone who washed clothes on a washboard. My grandmother knew that hanging your whites out to dry makes them whiter because the sun bleaches them. I’m sure there are a lot of other things she knows that I’ll never know because of her life experiences. I never had to think about how to get my whites whiter because I just poured some bleach into the washer.
I’m definitely not here to say not having technology is better. I’m the first person to complain about having to wash clothes in a machine where all I have to do is toss a pile in and push a button. But that conversation got me thinking about the things kids today will never know about, that I experienced growing up. How does it make me better? How does it make them better? Who cares… It’s just interesting.
6 Things Your Kids Will Never Know Because of Technology:
1. A world without cell phones
Sure, cell phones existed when I was in school. My dad had one… mounted to the floor of his car. And then a few years later, he carried one around in a lunchbox-sized pouch. Meanwhile, I had to make sure I had a quarter to use a payphone to call home if I wanted to get picked up from school or the mall.
When I started driving, I got a pager. At first I thought I was really cool. Then I realized my parents had a lot easier access to me than I cared for. They would page me and I’d have to find a pay phone to call them back within a certain allotted timeframe. If I didn’t I was in deep shit. Looking back, I can understand the “being in deep shit” part from their perspective. At the time, I was horribly burdened by this rule. In any case, kids these days needn’t carry quarters. Or even make phone calls, for that matter. They send a text message. Speaking of which – text messages have replaced a lot of things. They’ve replaced paper notes. Remember passing notes during class? There was an adrenaline factor involved in those that our kids will never know. The anticipation of sending your note across the room and hoping it made it to the person it was intended for without the teacher intercepting it. There were very personal words in those notes. Words we didn’t want the teacher, our peers, or worse, our parents finding out about!
2. Going to school without e-mail
I took a typing class in high school. A class I thought was empty credit. I didn’t take it seriously. I got a detention for chewing gum. We typed patterns on our typewriters to help us memorize the keys – “asdf;lkj (space) asdf;lkj”. If we made a mistake, we had to backspace, insert whiteout, and retype the character. I didn’t really learn to type until AOL Instant Messenger came out. I still don’t use proper finger placement for the keys.
Oh, don’t forget spelling and grammar… Now I can type an “I” without holding down the shift key and the computer says, “Hey Tonya, I bet you wanted to capitalize that lone, solitary “I”. Let me help you out with that!” ...and viola! My grammar has been corrected! I don’t really need to understand the difference between “effect” and “affect” anymore because if I use the wrong one, Microsoft Word puts a green squiggly line underneath it. If I misspell the word “misspell”, MS Word puts a scary red line underneath it for me. I’m much less likely to appear to be illiterate these days, regardless of my spelling and grammar skills.
3. Online dating
Somehow I’ve managed to avoid the online dating scene. As a result, I’m a skeptic. I do know of… well okay, I don’t know of any successful online daters. In any case, a lot of people use online dating now as a way to meet people. I used to meet people in class, through friends, and yes, of course, in bars. (Lots of commas in that sentence but fret not, it is grammatically correct. No squiggly green line.)
4. The World Trade Center
To anyone born after September 11, 2001, the World Trade Center will be a piece of history; a shadow in a photograph. To us, the twin towers were the tallest buildings in New York with 10,000,000 square feet of rentable space. They had seven levels underground. People worked there. 19 murders happened there. 17 babies were born there. 3 men parachuted from the top of the buildings.
Now it’s a memorial. A beautiful, huge, deep, somber memorial. I visited it for the first time in September of this year. I was surprised by how deep the fountains ran. I was surprised by how close the two buildings were. I think the thing that moved me the most though, was seeing and feeling everybody else’s pain. You looked around and you could see people remembering their loved ones. Some people were looking for a name. Some were crumbled over on a bench with someone’s arm around them, probably recalling that day.
For those of us who are old enough to remember, most of us remember the vivid details of 9/11. I remember driving to school and my cousin calling me to make sure my dad was okay because he traveled a lot. I remember getting to class and campus being silent. The professors turned on the TVs and we sat shell-shocked, watching the news. I wasn’t personally affected by the event of 9/11 in that I didn’t know anybody who died, but we were all affected by the results of that attack on America. We went to war, our economy spiraled downward. People lost their minds and got angry. Even me, even though I didn’t have half as much to be angry about as those people I saw at the memorial. As a result, we all said and did some irrational things. In a sense, those suicide bombers got what they wanted for a while – for a long while. 12 years, in fact. I truly think America is on the mend though. Let’s just stop being so pissed off all the time, okay people?
5. Libraries, Card Catalogs, Encyclopedias, Books
Jiminy Cricket taught me how to spell “E-n-c-y-c-l-o-p-e-d-eyyyee-aaayyeee”. They’re basically extinct now. People argue that Wikipedia is more reliable anyway. It’s definitely more accessible. Our kids will never have to spend hours at the library, first finding what we’re looking for in the card catalog alphabetically, and then searching endless rows of shelves for the numeric code.
How about books in general? Unless it’s an art book, a cook book or any other book that has big bold pictures and colors in it, I’m using my Kindle.
Okay, I’m about to admit something really nerdy. My “hangout”, when I lived in Ohio was Borders. It was the only thing to do there that wasn’t a bar, so I went there a lot. I met friends there. I took in the smell of books and browsed those beautiful rows of knowledge for hours. Now I buy my books online. In fact, I buy pretty much everything online thanks to Amazon. Amazon recommends books for me based on other books I’ve bought or looked at. I almost always like them. Amazon took away Borders, but gave me something else. I don’t really miss Borders, or books.
I never got into MTV but I do remember my older cousins lying on the pullout bed in their slippers and swooning over Bon Jovi. They would spend hours watching music videos. I honestly don’t even know what’s on MTV these days, but I do know I go to YouTube for music videos – or any other kind of video, for that matter. I don’t feel like our kids will be missing out on much here.
What Else Has Changed?
I watch Mad Men and I love when they depict things like these that have so clearly changed over the years. People smoking and drinking in the office. Women smoking and drinking while pregnant. Drinking a bottle of Jack, while driving already intoxicated. Littering in the park. All of these things give you the “ACK!”-factor, but then you realize it was the norm back then.
What else has changed? What memories do you have associated with these things?
Here are a couple more I can think of:
· Styrofoam containers at McDonalds
· Cigarettes – almost everybody I knew growing up
· Collecting baseball cards
· Seat belts – we never wore them!
By Tonya Cardinali
As more and more social media platforms adopt hashtags, they are becoming increasingly popular – as well as increasingly annoying. In light of the hashtag mockery video by Justin Timerlake and Jimmy Fallon that recently went viral, I wanted to provide a resource on using hashtags across multiple social media platforms.
Hashtags are words or phrases that are preceded with the pound sign (#) to allow you to link to other Tweets marked with that keyword. When you use a hashtag for a topic that has more than one word in it, you should fuse the words together and capitalize each word like this: #JustinTimberlake Doing this will create a link in your post that people can click on to see other posts that include that same hashtag.
The Evolution of the Hashtag
The hashtag was created by Twitter as a way to categorize or filter content by keywords. They were made popular during the San Diego Fire in 2007, as a way to track updates on the disaster. Users then began developing shorthand versions such as #FF which is short for #FollowFriday. Now, people are placing hashtags all over the place. Technically you can put a hashtag in front of any word, phrase or combination of letters – there is no approval or coding process.
Hashtaging Can Be on Different Platforms
You can search a keyword on Twitter and it will show you all the tweets that have word or phrase in it. If you click a tagged link, it will bring up only other tweets that are linked by that hashtag.
Hashtags work very similarly on Facebook. The search function is the difference. If I search Facebook for a keyword, it will bring up people or pages that have that keyword in it. If I add a hashtag in front of it, Facebook then returns posts that include that topic.
G+ takes you literally. If you search for “#TGIF”, your results include any posts that have that have been tagged. If you search for “TGIF”, Google+ shows you any post that has, “TGIF” in it – not “#TGIF”.
It is acceptable to break the rules and use many hashtags within these two social media networks. In fact, you'll want to use a lot of (relevant!) hashtags so people searching for certain types of images or videos can find yours. Just be careful when sharing your post to other networks, as they may be perceived as being annoying with all those hashtags.
How Hashtags Can Be Useful:
1. Brands use them to create social components to increase exposure. For instance, I recently visited the 9/11 Memorial in New York City. As you’re walking in, there is a giant sign that tells you to tag your content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Vine using #911Memorial. Now anybody who visits the memorial can view others’ photos and videos by searching that keyword. Remember though, if you’re going to create a hashtag campaign, you have to be prepared to promote it otherwise nobody will know about it.
2. Find stuff: You can identify what’s trending. You can also search for people, topics of interest or events via hashtags. Also, use different techniques when searching to get different results. For instance you can search “Fall Recipes”, “#Fall Recipes”, “#Fall #Recipes”, “#Fallrecipes”… you get the point.
3. Marketing: Use humor or run a contest. Lots of companies are getting really creative with campaigns. One of my favorite funny campaigns is Kmart’s #shipmypants campaign.
What Not to Do:
Hashtags are meant to be used for relevant keywords or phrases. The problem is that people are starting to use them for everything and now they’ve become noise.
1. Don’t overuse hashtags – It is recommended that you don’t use more than two hashtags per post. You’ll create distractions in your message. Those distractions can:
a. Cause people to #not #read your entire #post.
b. Steer people away from what you want them to do. In other words, if you have a link you want people to click and your status is your call to action, you may not want to use hashtags in your status because that creates two links in one post. Increasing the number of actions that can take place will reduce the likelihood that the action you want to take place will happen. If you have two links and only one goal, the likelihood of achieving your goal theoretically becomes reduced by 50%.
2. #Don’tUseReallyLongHashtags. You only have 140 characters to work with!
3. #DUHPWU – Don’t use hashtags people won’t understand.
Not sure if you should launch a hashtag campaign? Click here for a helpful checklist. Or click here for a great infographic on hashtag usage.
If you want to see how a hashtag trending across multiple platforms, you can use http://tagboard.com
By Tonya Cardinali
When I was in 6th grade, I read Subliminal Seduction by Wilson Bryan Key. That was the beginning of my interest in Advertising. It was the point at which I realized there is so much more behind an ad. An ad is not just an ad; it's art. There are hidden messages in advertisements and logos that we oftentimes don't see up front.
With Mad Men on AMC, my interest in vintage advertisements has been rekindled.
First, let's take a look at a couple logos we see on a regular basis. Tostitos for instance, did you notice the two people eating chips and salsa in the "tit"?
How about the FedEx logo? Did you see the arrow between the "E" and "X", indicating movement?
If you look at the "our", combined with the yellow dot, you'll see a cyclist in the Tour de France logo.
Baskin Robbins has 31 flavors. They tell you so in the pink part of the "B" and the "R".
Hmmmmm... Owls eyes? "O"'s? Or.... Hooters?
This post wouldn't be complete without mentioning the new Wendy's logo. Wendy's claims it was unintentional, but the word "mom" is spelled out in the logo on Wendy's collar.
Advertising agencies learned a long time ago that sex sells but rules banning certain subliminal messaging have been put in place. Some brands still find a way to incorporate it, but let's take a look at some of the advertisements before those bans were in effect. These brands were true innovators in setting the stage for what advertising has become today.
We'll start with a couple easy ones. See the "Sexplosion" on this Skittles package?
How about a Hiney? Don't see it? Flip this ad upside-down.
This one becomes quite a bit more promiscuous...
...when you flip it upside-down.
Land O' Lakes uses a technique called displacement to play tricks on your mind.
Here's what you see subconsciously.
Palmolive uses a different technique. If you look closely at the arm in this image, it is a man's arm, not the woman's arm, as you initially think. The man is out of the image otherwise, but the ad is subliminally implying there is more than meets the eye.
Absolut vodka isn't so subliminal...
This one is a little harder to see. Let's start with the second ice cube from the bottom. Do you see the letter "E"? Now look at the ice cube above it and you'll be able to make out the letter "S". Of course the "X" is a little more difficult to distinguish, but I bet you'll never look at this ad the same.
I remember this one from back in high school. The Camel logo has been known for being controversial for quite some time now.
There have been several theories as to what subliminal messaging is on this cigarette pack. Here is one of them.
Even the more modern version of Joe Camel is considered to be controversial.
I couldn't really see it until the author of Subliminal Manipulation blog Photoshop-ed a Michelangelo's David.
By the way -- Click the image to find even more examples.
Coca-Cola? No! Really?!
Take a look at this vintage Australian ad by Coke. The messages are difficult to notice but when you blow up the image, they are definitely there.
Here is a more recent example. Starting with the second bottle from the left -- Pomegranate. You can make out the yellow letter "S" near the top right of the label, mixed in with the green. The flamingo's head and neck, on the third bottle from the right make a lower case letter "E". You know what's next... See the "X" in the windmill on the fourth bottle from the left?
If you need a gag gift for your friend's birthday, get them a bottle of Pomegranate, a bottle of Acai Blueberry and a bottle of Dutch Caramel Van Gogh vodka. It'll be a fun gift to explain!
By Tonya Cardinali
This post by @AHaleyBoutique wins the prize for me. It's clever and attractive. It caught my eye right away, drew me in and told me what it wanted me to do all in about 3 second's time.
If you're not following @coffee_mate, you should be. We can all learn from their creativity. Their posts are upbeat, aesthetically pleasing and well branded. Easier said than done.
How about Clear-Channels' billboard campaign, #United4th? From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream Waters these signs sing the National Anthem.
@BarackObama's post was a little risqué but relevant in multiple ways. I dig it.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium (@MontereyAq) goes for cute-factor.
New York City goes iconic.
These are just a few that caught my eye. What other posts/ads did you see over the Fourth of July weekend?
By Tonya Cardinali