Merry Christmas Now Walk The Plank You Scurvy Elf!

Posted in Interesting, Welcome with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 19, 2008 by mediapirate

arrrr

Merry Xmas everyone! I am off to Texas/Mexico to spend time with my family over the holidays so I just wanted to wish you all amazing holidays and enough pirate rum that you can’t remember enough about them to tell me 🙂

Check out one of the sweetness of presents (My new nifty T-shirt) that the lovely duo of Chris (@MrChristopherL) and Mary (@PRMoxie) gave me for xmas! Neato hey?

scc-xmas

Merry Christmas from Sterling Cross Group!

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Go East Young Man, Go East!

Posted in Interesting, Random Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 10, 2008 by mediapirate

Cool bottle of TY KU liqueur

Welcome to a completely unexpected review! While I am typically a scotch or beer drinker when it comes to alcohol I have had an amazing introduction to the tastiness of Asian inspired drinks lately from two completely unrelated sources.

The first experience that I had with these exotic drinks (outside sipping warm sake with sushi and the occasional sake bomb with friends) has been at a Minneapolis restaurant & the first sake microbrewery outside of Japan called moto-i. I ordered the flight of sake which consists of three different unpasturized sakes Junmai Nama, Junmai Nama Nigori and Junmai Nama Genshu. They were all awesome! Yet they were all very unique in their own right. The Junmai Nama is very crisp with almost a fruity aftertaste. The Junmai Nama Nigori is (my favorite by far) is a visually cloudy sake that has very textured taste with hints of watermelon with a little less sweetness to it. Lastly, the Junmai Nama Genshu which is the kicker of the bunch. The Genshu has a powerful little kick of which I failed to notice until a short while later 🙂 Makes for a fun evening for sure, and if what I have heard is true there is no hangover when drinking quality sake. That is something any pirate can enjoy!

My second experience involves an eastern inspired Liqueur called TY KU. First off, this bottle is the coolest thing ever! The bottle lights up! How cool is that. Seriously, I have been involved with marketing and advertising for a long time and 99.9% of the time the client decides against these type of cool elements in favor of a more cost cutting solution. So congrats on the design team for pulling that off! Ok, ok, enough about the packaging you media geek! Lets get to the taste! The taste is unique and far more complex than your standard vodka & seven. With hints of green tea, ginseng, honeydew, and something called mangosteen (?) this drink is a refreshing change to the pallette, it’s honestly nice to try something that doesn’t taste like everything else these days. It’s a crisp drink with a mellow aftertaste that can be mixed or poured straight (Both ways are great, I tried it. Purely for research purposes of course hehe) without being overbearing.

So if you are in the mood for something off the beaten track or sick of your regular drinks I would highly recommend trying either of these fantastic beverages. These days everything seems very cookie cutter it’s very cool to see some companies that are willing to push our boundaries!

Back to Social Media Bacak’s (Basics)

Posted in Interesting, Media, social media, Twitter with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 2, 2008 by mediapirate

I really wasn’t prepared to do another blog so soon but a situation happened this morning that changed my mind. This morning we were shown how social media in the wrong hands can create a backlash go viral and destroy a reputation.

The unfortunate target of discussion is a man named Matt Bacak (@mattbacak on twitter). I don’t know Matt. In fact all I know is what his bio says “Husband, Dad, Internet Marketer and Entrepreneur”. This guy could be a perfectly nice guy. The only problem is he released this. It’s a press release where he states “Anyone can call their promotional abilities ‘powerful’ but I actually prove that mine are,”. The problem is that this type of ego really contradicts the the overall social media mentality which is basically “It’s not about you, it’s about the overall community”.

The backlash that I mentioned earlier is shown here. Hundreds of comments naming him as “The Biggest Douche In Social Media”. I know, you all want that title 🙂 He has even been featured on Digg with this title (Matt Bacak on Digg) and at the time of this post has 197 Diggs. At this point it has gone viral and there isn’t much he can do about it.

I feel bad for Matt but this is what happens when you enter social media with a traditional marketing stance. Social media followers need to feel special and not like numbers. When someone goes and states that they are more powerful than everyone else due to their excessive follower numbers their followers end up feeling more like a stepping stone than a part of the bigger picture. It also didn’t help that Matt was only following back 32 people of the 1800 that followed him.

Let me know what you think of this situation. Do you think this punishment was warranted? or was it too harsh? How would you deal with a situation like this if you were Matt?

The Real Questions Behind Social Media In Business

Posted in Media, social media, Twitter with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 1, 2008 by mediapirate

So what is this social media thing all about? Do I get a blog started, or maybe chat with people about nothing on strangely named applications like twurk or plitter (Yes, I realize that’s not what they are called)? Can I make money with social media? Will my business look unprofessional in the context of social media?

The answer isn’t as straight-forward or as simple as “yes” or “no” but it’s not as complex as we seem to make it either. We have just been asking the wrong question the whole time. While I do appreciate that blogs are read by a large percentage of people and twitter is growing at a record pace it’s about more than these simple stats. Here is the magic questions…..dun dun dun….Can this fit into my companies existing marketing strategy? Do I really know how to use social media? Does my target market exist on these platforms?

So it’s really not a question of the tools. It’s a question of strategy and implementation. So without knowing your marketing strategy or your target here are a few tips to help you avoid the old school interuption marketing approach within social media.

1) This is an important one: Follow all valid followers. I’ve said it a million times but I always get questioned on this. Social media isn’t social unless it’s a two way conversation. This isn’t advertising on TV, print or radio you need to listen even more than you talk.

Once you have followed all of these people how do you manage them and interact with them? This can be tricky because the more people that you have following you the harder it is to keep that personal touch, but it just requires a different perspective on the situation. Look at your social media following like it’s a party. While you can’t be involved in all conversations make sure you respond to the people talking directly to you within a fairly short period of time and engage in interesting conversations that occur.

2) Don’t use auto follow and more importantly don’t use auto follow with a sales pitch attached. This is another form of interruption marketing that might sound like a good idea but in a social media context it will not typically be received well. Social media is all about the conversation so if it isn’t something you would say to someone you’ve just met in a social situation then don’t say it here. Build your relationships and listen to what people need. Once they learn what you do they will be more than happy making use of your services and passing out references.

3) Use a picture of yourself. Sure, you may work for the biggest company in the world but social media is about the connection between individuals. Seeing a face will allow your audience to get to know you on a completely different level while building your own personal brand. An amazing example of this is Frank (@ComcastCares on twitter). Frank has changed many peoples views on Comcast as a company including mine but we all know him as Frank. If he was just a number within the company we wouldn’t have the faith in him we do.

4) Allow people to opt out. You can’t hold people hostage to your subscription services. Respecting peoples space is very important. I have seen numerous situations where followers have tried to unsubscribe to services for one reason or another and were unable to. This hurts your credibility and can cause followers to share negative opinions of you online which of course isn’t a great idea in terms of reputation management.

5) Don’t remove yourself from the conversation. Allow people to comment on your blog entries and media portals such as Facebook and Myspace. By disabling comments to protect yourself from outside opinions you remove yourself from the conversation. This means any chance of building advocacy or reputation management is lost. People will still share their opinions but now they will be forced to do so outside of your environment resulting in even less control. Address negative posts and thank the positive. Remember, sometimes losing control to a degree is the best way to maintain control.

Please let me know your questions and thoughts. Social media is ever evolving opportunity so jump into the conversation and maybe we can all learn something.

For more cool social media and business awesomeness check out Above the Buzz

Thanks,
Scott

Design for fun???

Posted in Design with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 6, 2008 by mediapirate

Recently I discovered that I had stopped designing for fun. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy designing logo’s and brochures and websites. They’re all very cool in their own right but it’s not the same as doing something completely self gratuitous. Something just for you, that pushes your capabilities and teaches you things you just can’t learn in the process of designing a logo or inserting a corporate headshot into an annual report. You know, the crazy stuff you thought of when you started learning a program like photoshop. The stuff you would do if you were a kid and you knew how to do it.

So last week I decided I needed to have a little fun with my creativity so I snapped a picture of my lovely girlfriend and proceeded to twist, warp and mutate her into a figment of my bizarre imagination. It took me about six or so hours of playing around as I didn’t know what I wanted before beginning but it finally came together. I found the whole process very therapeutic. All of a sudden I really enjoyed photoshop again. I was dusting off rarely used techniques and having fun.

I’m sure a lot of you out there are already aware of these type of exercises, but I would also wager that some of you are just like I was. Too tired from work and life to even want to sit down at a computer much less do a project. I know. I felt the same. What I discovered though is that if you can find the fun and inspiration in what you do, the next day at work isn’t as much work anymore. I have even noticed since this that my creativity is easier to call upon for considerably more unique ideas. Anyway, it’s just something to think on. While you’re doing that let me know what you think of my creation. It’s not perfect but it was a good time.

🙂

Bizarre Creative Project

For additional inspiration check out one of my favorite blogs – Lost and Taken

Curing Brand Schizophrenia

Posted in Articles, Media with tags , , , , , , , , on September 12, 2008 by mediapirate

and keeping your business on the same page

Like most small business owners you deal with multiple tasks throughout the day, not the least of which is how to present a positive marketing image for your company. The question is, how do you present your company in multiple mediums effectively and consistently while maintaining the other aspects of your company?

For years businesses have hired separate companies each specializing in their own medium of communication; print, web, marketing, public relations, video and audio. These specialists may be the ideal solution for a company with internal brand management but what about the small business? Not every organization has the resources necessary to support the cost of independent services or the time required to manage multiple companies to achieve a cohesive package.

The answer is integrated services! Integrated services means that one company (Your chosen Integrated Media Provider) contains the knowledge to bring all of your media resources together maximizing the power of your marketing and the price you pay for it.

A common thread

The power of a consistent campaign is not unknown, but if you are like many small companies there is no one dedicated to ensure the sanctity of your brand. This can mean varied colors between web and print, skewed logos, inconsistent brand message and many other variables. It also usually means that the relationship between mixed media has not been successfully exploited.

A website is a powerful entity. However, if the relationship between it and the other media such as public relations, print, video, audio, etc. is not properly integrated there is wasted possibility for success. For example a PR event is great but it would be ideal if the PR event could be updated into the website which in turn would feed this information via RSS (Really Simple Syndication) directly to existing subscribers.

Depending on the business, this type of thinking can translate into increased confidence in the company, jump start sales of a new product, and many other possibilities. Granted, this is only a very simple scenario involving only two of the many mediums. So imagine the possibilities of fully integrated services.

Divide and conquer

So the question is, how can one company know everything about everything? And the honest truth is that one company can’t.

In today’s market one of the most effective ways to ensure consistency of brand and mission is through successful strategic partnerships. These partnerships maintained by your IMP (Integrated Media Provider) ensure that each individual aspect of your company’s media is being driven by the greatest depth of knowledge.

By counting on the quality control, account management and ROI awareness from a recognized IMP and its chosen vendors, you can experience an environment devoid of project pipeline delays, explaining and re-explaining your brand and the constant search for the most effective vendor for each media solution. In turn your mediums are thoughtfully planned out to feed off of one another and like a drop into water, generating a reach that is continually expanding and delivering you a calculated ROI.

This relationship between the IMP and their vendors also works to serve the end client in terms of cost as well.As each IMP maintains multiple vendors specializing in many medium, your project will be internally bid out to ensure the most cost effective resolution is reached within a group of proven and trusted partners. This internal competition for the work ensures that prices always remain at a fair market value.

A needle in a haystack

What do you look for in an IMP? Well, for starters, the experience and qualifications of the team core. These are the people responsible for the outcome of your project, so in order to pull off a true integrated media plan they will need a foundation in everything that their outside vendors offer. These elements include PR, media relations, creative direction, print media, web interactivity, video/audio production, new technologies (eg. wikis, podcasts, subsites, wireless technology, etc.) and the understanding of the limitations within each of these markets.

This might sound like a lot. However, in order to utilize the momentum from one medium to feed another, a foundation in all of these areas is crucial in integrated media. The easiest way to find this out is through online research, business to business networking or if all else fails, just ask to see some portfolio examples.

Consistently diverse

Understand this is not the only way, just the most effective way! For the small business owner this option can end up saving invaluable time in your busy schedule, save you money, and ensure that you end up with a consistent campaign generating the greatest amount of exposure. So in closing, one company can’t know everything about everything but then again, no one knows this better than your local Integrated Media Provider.

4 Questions to ask a potential Integrated Media Provider

What is your in-house knowledge?
How many vendors do you utilize and how long have you been with them?
How have you integrated campaigns previously? Who were the clients? And to what effect?
What is my potential ROI and what steps do you take to ensure this?

The De-Evolution of Advertising

Posted in Media, social media with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 14, 2008 by mediapirate
De-Evolution of Advertising

In the beginning… Advertising was a word of mouth business. One person would communicate to another about a crazy new innovation like fire, the wheel, etc. and that person would pass it to the next and on and on. This communication made it possible for the world to grow and overcome obstacles improving the quality of life.

Advertising then became more clever with the advent of new technologies and studies. Research was done on keywords, unique selling propositions, primal behavior and targeted manifesto’s making it considerably easier to convert a potential consumer into a buyer. Combined with television, print, billboards, etc. Thus advertising had become a game of numbers. The companies that could afford to get their message in front of as many people as possible usually succeeded due to brand recognition and superior marketing while the smaller companies that couldn’t keep up with the cost incurred from the design and placement of traditional media were left without a way to communicate to the masses and thus typically suffered.

Unfortunately though, people don’t like to be generalized and herded like cattle (Actually, I doubt cows do either but that’s a whole separate topic) and have begun to think for themselves again. This has resulted in our landscape changing again. Free and cost-effective tools now exist that allow the general populace to choose who is marketing to them and how. The consumer no longer wishes to have brands forced down their throats. Not when they can decide how they receive their information.

E-commerce sites can make the smallest shop appear the size of any Super-Target, the advent of TiVo has allowed consumers to rid themselves of the majority of TV advertising and search engines have allowed people to research product and news of choice bypassing print and TV for the most part. Social Media has brought the advertising model full circle and now allow people to once again communicate their biased or unbiased opinions allowing the consumer to once again be in control of the products that will succeed or fail, determine which news is important, and support a local business in a overcrowded market.

I guess all that remains to be seen is if the smaller businesses take advantage of this situation or not. Smaller businesses are typically late adapters due to financial restraints, lack of education and lingering doubt. Without the prohibitive costs to deter you can you really justify missing this opportunity because you were unwilling to learn and adapt?