Category Archives: Communications

Culture, Content, and Social: Five Trends to Watch This Summer

lookout for trends

Photo Credit: KaSandra and Grace. On the Lookout for Trends

I don’t know about you, but I am always on the lookout for what’s happening in marketing. I had the opportunity to attend last month’s Sirius Decision Summit. What’s Sirius about?  Sirius Decisions describes the summit as “a place where attendees can see and hear how organizations can blend the very best of art and science, and leave with ideas for how to get started on – or advance – your own initiatives.” It is a great conference for any marketer or communicator looking for frameworks and research on what happening in the market today. If you didn’t have the opportunity to go, here five trends to watch for this summer. 

Social media beyond the basics

There was a lot of discussing of using social listening to enhance competitive intelligence and beef up prospect profiles. During the breakout sessions, it was useful to see what companies can do with some third party help to bolster current prospect info. One organization appended their prospects and customers’ profiles with social data through a third party vendor to fill in missing information and provide better insights. Social media has become more than a place to post your favorite cat video, it has become a place to take data and build better, more informed customer profiles. Results of adding social data to customer profiles? A better understanding of their customers and prospects, this organization improved its open rates to 28 percent and click-through to 9 percent. How good is 9 percent? Pretty awesome given most industries see on average less than five percent.

Content still plague teams both on creation and effectiveness.

Julie Ogilvie, ‎research director for strategic communications management service at Sirius Decisions, made a simple, but poignant point about social media “All social media problems are content problem.” I think anyone who manages social media teams can emphatically agree. Lots of nodding from the audience on this point alone. Whether you are looking to increase engagement among key audiences or leverage influencers, you need content. That’s easy, right? Not so much. Ultimately, you can’t create content absent of your audience’s needs and motivation an expect good outcomes. Simple, but B2B companies are forgetting the human in social media and not focusing on what people want to engage with.

The concept of building connections across teams

One of the best quotes I heard was the African proverb, “If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far, go together.” How many of you know your team is doing good work, but you’re looking to make more impact within your team or get more budget? Many of the sessions discussed the power of cross-functional sharing and brainstorming with teams to maximize not only knowledge, but also sharing of information. So simple, yet many of us get caught in our own silos and workload. We fail to think about the power of sharing information to better leverage the knowledge of other teams to deliver better campaigns. One session shared how equipping community managers with more information on the onset of a campaign, such as the targeted campaign’s keywords, who are the “right” influencers in the market, and the right content from other marketing teams armed them for social media success. Genius, right? So simple, yet many of us are so caught up with real-time delivery that we forget to take a beat and think about what we are trying to accomplish.

The importance of culture in change management

Often overlooked, but crucially important. It’s not a conference without great quotes, and Sirius Decision is no different: “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” You cannot ignore your culture and its importance to your success. While there was not a whole lot of discussion on the how, I can tell you communications and cross-functional involvement vastly improve your chances of getting your corporate culture to accept your next marketing or communication initiative.

The value of pilot testing

Every campaign at the conference mentioned the value in starting small and narrowing your focus. Rome was not build in a day. By focusing on a pilot and ignoring how you have traditionally done, you can break away from the norms. Do things differently. Not to say all pilots are successful, failure is okay and an opportunity to learn.

It’s only a day into the conference, but I am encouraged and energized in learning the new and innovative approach out there today. Also, there is still time to follow the conference hashtag, #SDSummit for more great information on Twitter.

The Art of the Pitch: Seven Ways to Present with Purpose

The Art

As my grad students raced to the end of the semester culminating the end of their graduate studies, their last task is to present their communication capstone plans to peers and faculty. The capstone course, similar to a thesis, requires students to perform as communications consultants by finding a cause or company to develop a strategic communications plans. This task alone for some of them is harder than their 50 plus page plans.

Many of you can relate to the daunting task of presenting your precious ideas to an audience who may or may not be interested. With this in mind, I shared my seven ways to presenting their ideas with purpose and intent.

  1. Be human

First and foremost, people buy from people. Whether it’s an idea or a product, you still have to convey your point to a human or group of them. While a presentation with the bells and whistles of video and animation are great supplements, don’t forget to connect with the audience. Body language experts point out the importance of eye contact to connect, which shows sincerity and helps create a sense of trust between people – an important skill for successful presenters. Looking at your notes will not help convey confidence, so lose them.

  1. Don’t phone it in

Nothing is worse than watching a presenter who does not believe in or passionately present his or her ideas. A few years ago, I watched a well-known agency pitch for my organization’s business and it was evident the team was just going through the motions. It was underwhelming and noticed by all in the room. If you are in front of an audience, make sure the audience believe in what you are saying – it’s a skill, just ask the Nike pitch-team who reportedly lost the opportunity to renew Stephen Curry’s sponsorship deal. Some serious gaffes and Nike lost $14B.  Ouch!  So, if you think you can rest on your charm and good looks, think again.

  1. Start with your strongest idea first

One of the best pieces of advice I every received on pitching stemmed from two instructors who were former executives at Weber Shandwick: Always start with your strongest idea. By starting with your strongest idea, you build upon your enthusiasm and take the audience with you. The audience will be swept up by your passion and excitement for the idea. Everything else is gravy after that.

  1. Don’t worry if you forget any parts of your presentation

This nugget is for all my meticulous friends out there. I have seen some great presentation become disasters because people forget a few words. Here’s something to consider: you are the only person who knows the presentation and all the juicy points. If you miss one, don’t worry about it, just keep going. You can always recover, and if you miss something, take that nugget and mention it somewhere else in the presentation.

  1. Don’t wing it

All awesome presentation start with a plan and an outline. No matter if the presentation is 5 minutes or 2 hours, always be prepared. In fact, I would say shorter presentations are harder because you have less time to get your point across. Nancy Duarte gives some excellent pointers how to craft your presentation into an effective, powerful story. Outline what you want to say so that you can see, from a high level, if you will achieve your goal.

  1. Know where you want to end

Similar to number 5, plan out what is the end takeaway(s) you want to audience to have. If you plan with the end in mind, it helps the rest of the presentation make that point again and again. Each slide should articulate your point and at the end, there should be no question what your action item is.

  1. Use visuals strategically

Use more visuals than words. Less words is always better. It works in your favor because your audience will pay attention to what you say verses reading it. Visuals can convey emotions and provide more impact than words. A picture is worth a thousand words isn’t just a cliché but words of wisdom. Here is my own take on how the power of visuals helps convey your point.

As with all presentations, you have to own it. Have presence and confidence to convey your words. Use these pointers to craft your presentation with confidence.

2015 in Review

This year the team put together a 2015 annual report of Metscher’s Musings. I thought it was a great idea from WordPress. Take a look.  What would you add as your favorite blog post this year?

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 3,900 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Seven Steps to Telling Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn

Metscher Musing Brand Story

What’s your story for your online brand?

Last month I published this article on LinkedIn on how to tell your personal brand story. The impetus for the article was based on my own experience on how best to share my experience while painting the picture of who I am and where I have been, so to speak. Here is a snippet of the article:

What tips would you add to creating your personal brand story?

June is one of my favorite times of year as it marks the new beginning for many college graduates. Many are trying to differentiate themselves from the competition in getting their first job. Whether you are a seasoned professional or a newbie, focusing on your personal brand story is important, especially when you are looking to breakout from the crowd.

Your LinkedIn profile should paint a picture beyond your resume of who you are and what you bring to the table. When I look at your LinkedIn profile, what do you want me to know? Are you a B2B rockstar? A Content Marketing Mastermind? And a data-driven professional?

Whether you are a 20-year professional or just starting out, you should consider how to promote yourself through LinkedIn. With more than 350 million users, it is becoming harder on LinkedIn to stand out from the crowd. With storytelling in mind, here are my seven steps to telling your personal brand story on LinkedIn.

Step One: Create Dynamic Headlines

Much like storytelling, your personal brand story needs to make sense and persuade folks to read your profile. You can certainly use your current title; however, think about how someone potentially will search for you. Use keywords in your headline. For example, I highlight my broad range of marketing and communications skills, so my title is “Marketing Leader. Social Media Strategist. Communications & Public Relations. Speaker & Writer. Problem Solver.” Jot down your ideas in terms of these areas to highlight what you want to your brand to stand for.

Step Two: Craft a Well-Rounded Summary

What areas of expertise do you want to highlight? Be strategic. You can use your summary section from your resume, but be short and sweet. This section should be your online elevator pitch. The summary area is also a great place to post all your SlideShare presentations or other multimedia content that provides the social proof that you are a great asset.

Recently, LinkedIn made it easier to create the best keywords for your profile by allowing you to access your data archive. Viveka von Rosen, host to one of the largest Twitter chats about LinkedIn #LinkedInChat, wrote a blog post about how to use the export tool to improve an organization’s marketing, but I believe you can also use it to improve the marketing of you.

Step Three: Show Diversity in Your Experience

If you are the main character in your personal brand story, how will you support your central theme? For example, if I want to be known as a digital-marketing expert, how will I convey this information?

What do you want people to know? It’s more than listing your accomplishments and responsibilities. Think about how you would describe your coherent roles and how the roles relate to your overall goal or next career move. All your roles should have a purpose. LinkedIn job positions should show progression and that through the years you have deepened your knowledge in a specific area.

Step Four: Sharpen Your Skills

Did you know that LinkedIn allows users to add up to 50 skills to their profiles? Jennifer McClure, president of Unbridled Talent LLC, mentioned in her Mashable interview that listing relevant skills helps candidates differentiate themselves from their competition: “Often LinkedIn profiles aren’t fully completed either because people are intimidated by the idea of writing a professional summary or aren’t skilled at effectively summarizing their experience. LinkedIn profiles should be viewed as a personal marketing brochure, and as such, they need to be concise, informative, and compelling.” Bottom line: Focus on your expertise, strengths, and skills to be more discoverable.

Continue reading the full article on LinkedIn.

Online Retailers Missed Opportunity: Female Gen Xers with Millennial Tendencies

Recently, I researched the topic of online clothing retailers and their buyers for a grad school project. I find the retail world so fascinating since many retailers have had to adopt their mass-market approach for the online world. Some have succeeded, others continue to struggle to compete. What was interesting in conducting this research was finding a particular small, but influential group of female buyers that most retailers are missing – a subgroup influential because of their buying power and influence.

These women are not quite Gen Xers, but potentially too old to be millennials. They watched Reality Bites, but maybe didn’t feel as jaded. Potentially, they could have gone to a Nirvana concert and still wear their t-shirts.

Gen Xers with Millennial Tendencies

Photo Credit: Salon. Gen Xers are between the ages of 35-44 who grew up during the materialistic 1980s and saw the aftermath of gluttony in the 1990s.

After reading the blog post Social Media Week: Oregon Trail Generation on SMW, I thought I would share my findings about this subgroup. As marketers, we sometimes have to remind ourselves that marketing to a generation is not always about their age, but about their behaviors.

Below is an excerpt from my project. Happy reading.

Female Generation X with Millennial Tendencies

Before millennials were texting their friends using their first iPhones, there was a generation of women who knew of a time before the Internet, Generation X. Gen Xers are between the ages of 35-44 who grew up during the materialistic 1980s and saw the aftermath of gluttony in the 1990s. They are also digital adopters: Gen Xers were the first generation to grow up with computers and technology, although this occurred later in their lives. Today, they remain tech-savvy and habitually research items online prior to purchase (JWT Intelligence, 2010).

They break rules and redefined a slacker generation

Women of this generation are adventurous, daring, quirky, informed, responsible, and skeptical. Nostalgic, Gen X women gravitate towards happier times from their past (Han, 2012). This public can afford higher-end items because they are more established in their careers and have higher spending power. Because Gen Xers write their own rules, she could be a recent mom or a childfree career powerhouse.

They shop too, but often buy less and look for deals. Most female Gen Xers make shopping lists using a variety of tools, half review circulars, and coupons. Fifty-one percent download coupons from retailer sites and 38 percent research products online. About one-third use deal sites, 31 percent use social media to get coupons, and 23 percent look for updates from retailers and manufacturers via texts or e-mails (McClain, 2012).

Why are Gen Xers with Millennial Tendencies Important? Go Back to Why Women Rule the Purse. 

Though shopping is synonymous with women, there are several reasons why women rule the purse and the economy (Brennan, 2011). First, women are the gateway to household budgets. They not only shop for themselves, but also for others— spouses, kids, friends, family, colleagues, and often their older parents. This multiplies their buying power and influence (Brennan, 2013).

Second, women have a strong connection to community both online and off-line. In their community, people connect with one another to help others realize their potential inside and out, and to make life happier for everyone (Brennan, 2011). Millennial females regard shopping as a group activity, shopping twice as often with their spouses, friends, or family members as non-millennial females (Solomon, 2014). The strong connection to each other is easily seen in their business and personal relationships as well. Women prioritize and cultivate personal and business relationships because creating these networks of family, friends, and colleagues is a primary source of joy and fulfillment (Brennan, 2011).

Finally, women are typically connectors, and that makes them the source of valuable information to the people in their network or community. If women are happy with your business, they are delighted to tell people they know— especially if you provide an incentive for them to do so (Brennan, 2011). From loyalty programs to referral programs, if you are not leveraging your female customers to bring in their contacts, you’re leaving money on the table.


What Three Lessons You Can Learn from Harvey Nichols’ Christmas 2013 Campaign

How to Win Big in Your Next Campaign

One of the greatest things about grad school is I get the opportunity to review many successful integrated marketing campaigns. In researching Harvey Nichols’ holiday campaign, I thought there was some valuable nuggets for marketers to take note.

When you think about Harvey Nichols (HN), words that may come to mind are high fashion, luxury, and prestige. While the brand is well established, Harvey Nichols’ advertising in recent years has become more cheeky and free-spirited. The brand’s holiday 2013 campaign provided a funny, attention-grabbing film that created a stir among consumers and marketers alike. Holiday shopping is fierce for retailers such as Harvey Nichols and its competitors Selfridges, House of Fraser, and John Lewis all competing for the same consumer’s share of wallet.

Why Christmas Advertising is Important?

Christmas retail shopping is the most important part of the year for retailers. Sales in November and December can account for as much as 30 percent of a retailer’s annual sales. Most retail sales in January are terrible, then rise through summer to a peak in September, then after a further lull, sales jump by an average of 60 percent to an annual peak in December. With significant revenue opportunity to come during the holiday season, retailers fight for consumers’ pockets as well as their attention.

Lesson One: Cut through the Noise

There is not only a lot of opportunity to capture shoppers’ attention and money, but also high competition. Thinkbox, a U.K. based media consultancy, reported last year that U.K. viewers watch 48 ads a day during their four plus hours of television watching. Breaking through the noise was important for the retailer to be successful in holiday advertising.

Harvey Nichols and agency adam&eve DDB knew that in order to be memorable, they needed to be different. According to adam&eve’s Creative Director, Daniel Fisher, “The [creative] brief was to get Harvey Nichols talked about — but with only a fraction of the budget major U.K. retail chains have to spend for Christmas we knew we needed to go further than just another 30-second ad.”

Most holiday commercial ads follow a formula: family, home, and most importantly giving gifts that make people happy. Harvey Nichols took a different approach for last year’s Christmas advertising that was brave according to some industry pundits. Its Christmas advertising campaign, “Sorry, I Spent it on Myself” centered around shoppers buying gifts for themselves rather than spend the money on loved ones.

Different? Yes. Bold? You bet.

Pete Favat, chief creative officer at Deutsch LA and Cannes Film Festival jury member, summarized the different approach to Harvey Nichols’ Christmas 2013 campaign, “For a retailer to take their highest-selling season and do something like this is remarkably bold. To take greed and make people laugh and smile about it is extremely difficult.”

Lesson Two: Want to get noticed? Go against the grain.

Harvey Nichols’ Christmas 2013 Campaign: How to Win Big in Your Next Campaign

Image from Christmas adverts.

When other competitors ran 30 second ads on TV, Harvey Nichols created a short film that was distributed on its website and YouTube channel. Competitor John Lewis spent an estimated £7 million on its ‘Hare and Bear’ holiday ad campaign. Conversely, Harvey Nichols spent a fraction of that cost and used its own channels and social media platforms to distribute the film. Woven into its Christmas campaign was the hashtag, #SpentItOnMyself and a microsite where shoppers could buy ‘a little something’ for their loved ones.

Going against the grain did provide some rewards. After the site launched, the unusual presents featured in its ad sold out in less than three days. Additionally, after the launch of the ad, both #SpentItOnMyself and Harvey Nichols trended on Twitter. From the perspective of the brief, success was achieved by getting consumers to talk about Harvey Nichols.

Lesson Three: Use Humor as a Catalyst.

Since 2009, Harvey Nichols has expanded beyond their traditional target market of women from the ages 25-45 to younger, millennial consumers. This focus has not only impacted Harvey Nichols physical space (redesigned the fourth floor to target younger consumers), but also its marketing approach. Harvey Nichols’ Christmas campaign used an integrated approach of advertising, social media (via the #SpentItOnMyself hashtag) and in-store promotions to create a campaign that reached both traditional and millennials shoppers. A key insight for HN that helped fuel the social media fervor is that millennials not only want to share content that is relevant, but also want to be in the ‘know.’ Among U.K. millennials who shared content on social media, younger millennials (25-29) used social media more expressively to earn respect. The HN campaign is smart because it uses humor as a catalyst to get millennials to share its video and get its message out that the brand is a great place to get the latest gifts for themselves and others.

Marketing Magazine summarized why using humor is a big win, “Make people laugh and they will not only share an ad with their friends and family, but with humor the second best emotion at driving brand recall, they will most likely remember the brand for years to come. Recall is key in retail to get consumers to remember the brand when the need occurs. HN made a bold move to use humor during the holiday season that paid-off.

Humor might not work best for your market, but I think was great about this campaign they knew humor would work well with its audience.

Harvey Nichols Wins Again with Smart, Provocative Advertising

Harvey Nichols is known for forward-thinking fashion and provocative advertising. Its recent Christmas integrated campaign, “Sorry I Spent it on Myself,” is effective with consistent messaging about how the retailer is cheeky, fun, and playful. The campaign epitomizes effective creative execution: execution must hold the attention in order for the message to be processed.

To stand out from the crowded marketplace, Harvey Nichols went bold and tapped into shoppers’ guilty pleasure of shopping for themselves. The premier luxury retailer extended the reach of their campaign to millennials by leveraging YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and a microsite to tell shoppers its okay to spend a little on their love ones, but more on themselves. Because millennials are hyper-connected the amplification effect was very powerful; this message resonated high and they embraced and shared it often. The short film on YouTube has more than 660,000 views and trended on social media after its release.

Neuro-Insight, a U.K. neuromarketing research agency, measured how females and males responded to the Christmas advertisements. Results were not surprising. This ad was highly effective with women where the expensive Harvey Nichols gifts are strongly encoded to memory, which in turn, linked strongly to the Harvey Nichols brand. Females respond positively to the tongue-in-cheek humor and the specific Harvey Nichols items featured were very well encoded in long-term memory.

In order for brand recall to occur, first there must be a need and then the brand can be recalled from memory. Creative mediums must establish a link in memory between the need and the brand such as when need arises the brand name will come to mind as satisfying the need. This Christmas campaign achieves memory linking by mentioning the name often throughout the video and again when mentioning the tagline. Finally, the ‘Sorry, I spent in on myself’ tag line is very well encoded as is the key verbal message ‘A little something for them, a bigger something for you’.

Ultimately this campaign stays true to Harvey Nichols brand and uses humor to poke a little fun at gift-giving by tapping into our natural tendencies of selfishness. Being bold has paid off handsomely for Harvey Nichols. It remains a competitive force in the luxury retailer space because of innovative thinking in fashion, but also smart brand choices reflected in its advertising. Keeping true to its vivacious and fun personality, Harvey Nichols uses humor to relate to its consumers. Consumers may have spent their money on themselves; however, I think it is safe to say that they will make it up on their love ones’ birthday, Mother’s day, and other special occasions with Harvey Nichols help.

Rachel DiCaro Metscher has worked with many organizations to build their communications and marketing programs, including Fannie Mae, American Psychological Association, and The Princeton Review. She is currently working in the DC metro area building content marketing programs from the ground up.

Why Building A Permission Marketing Program is Important

A few weeks ago, I was in the meeting where our sales stakeholder mentioned the opportunity of buying a list. As he explain where the list was from ,the number of “contacts” we would receive, and  the nominal cost, my facial expressions illustrated exactly what I was thinking ,  “Eek,Ick, and No! We shouldn’t buy names. We should build a permission based program.” I think most marketers would agree building a permission marketing program is important.

What’s Permission Marketing?

The term “permission marketing’ was popularized by Seth Godin in his book, Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends, and Friends into Customers. The gist is you should seek permission to send your prospects or customers any email or other piece of content. Period. Nothing is sent without the customer or prospects acceptance/ approval/blessing.

Godin explains further in his blog, “Real permission is different from presumed or legalistic permission. Just because you somehow get my email address doesn’t mean you have permission. Just because I don’t complain doesn’t mean you have permission. Just because it’s in the fine print of your privacy policy doesn’t mean its permission either. “

Permission marketing is the cornerstone of most email programs. Without it, your email program is dead.

Why is permission marketing so important?

Dennis Dayman, chief privacy and security office at Oracle Eloqua nailed it on the head when outlining its best practice for email deliverability, “

“Marketers should never assume that subscribers or visitors will want new information or want you to share their information further than what they signed up for in the past or what you promised them. Give them control over their own information. When you do this, customers stay more loyal. Send what you promised to send and send when you promised to send.”

Permission Based Marketing and Rachel Metscher

Photo Source: Pearl Blogger

Getting back to my sales stakeholder, is he wrong? Not necessarily, his job is to sell. And he is just looking to fill his pipeline. However, it is my job to help change the conversation.

Best way to say no is to educate why. Why is the most important aspect in any conversation with stakeholders. Don’t stop at the what. Explain why something should not be done and then explain what you are offering instead.

My colleague wrote the below to the team to explain the importance of permission marketing,

Fun facts:

  • 77% of deliverability is based on sender reputation – Return Path 2008
  • The presence of just one spam trap can drop your deliverability rating by up to 53% Return Path’s Reputation Benchmark Report, 2009

Permission email marketing is not an overnight build. It takes time and long-term patience. But, it will enhance our brand and therefore enhance the business and it will generate more leads for you. Getting people to opt-in is the first step to assessing interest. That is why we mentioned intake first to see who will “raise their hands.”

I understand that it is tempting to buy names, but those names don’t always translate into interest or leads. (This is the why for sales)

 Buildings opt-ins will involve a lot of consistent activity that the marketing team is committed to such as: (This is what we plan to offer instead)

  • Driving traffic to webpages with downloadable assets to capture prospect emails
  • Conducting routine webinars to capture prospect emails
  • Including a form on the website to opt-in to emails
  • Including an opt-in link on all emails sent out from us in case the email is forwarded to someone not on our list
  • Promoting our opt in form via social channels
  • Building a subscription preference list
  • Including the opt in form in employee email signatures
  • Providing collateral to be handed out at events that directs people to opt in to emails to learn more

Third-party lists are often purposely seeded by ISPs with fake email addresses whose only purpose is to catch spammers. Third-party lists also frequently contain out-of-date email addresses that will cause bounce rates to rise. While the act of purchasing and sending email to an unsolicited list does not by itself violate the CAN-SPAM Act, it is an agreed upon bad practice in marketing.

Not bad right?

It is not our intent to say no, but helping our internal folks understand the importance of building a trusted, high performing email program. Permission marketing is the key to trust. Trust is important to any business partnership. If I cannot trust your business with my email, should I really do business with you?

Probably not.

What else would you add?

Rachel DiCaro Metscher  has worked with many organizations to build their communications and marketing programs, including Fannie Mae, American Psychological Association, and The Princeton Review. She is currently working in the DC metro area building content marketing programs from the ground up.