Monday, November 25, 2013

The Brand Known As #GivingTuesday

First, there was a phenomenon known as Black Friday, a day when retailers saw an increase in sales following Thanksgiving. Then, thanks to the Internet, Cyber Monday became the online equivalent. And now, there's a third day to kick off the holiday season. #GivingTuesday is a nationwide event to raise awareness for philanthropy, and this year, it takes place on December 3rd.

"New York’s 92nd Street Y was the catalyst and incubator for #GivingTuesday, bringing the expertise of 139 years of community-management to the project and providing #GivingTuesday a home. The United Nations Foundation joined as partners, bringing their strategic and communications clout to the project. Over 2,500 charities, volunteer organizations, corporations, and foundations came together in all 50 US states with one common purpose: to help others and incentivize ways to give more, give smarter, and celebrate the American spirit of contribution. Individuals were encouraged to be generous in whatever ways mattered to them, whether that meant volunteering at a local charity or by donating to a favorite cause."

Blackbaud processed over $10 million in online donations on November 27, 2012 – a 53% increase when compared to the Tuesday after Thanksgiving the previous year. DonorPerfect recorded a 46% increase in online donations and the average gift increased 25%. More than 50 million people worldwide spread the word about #GivingTuesday – resulting in milestone trending on Twitter.

"GivingTuesday is a counter narrative to Black Friday and Cyber Monday because it reminds us that the spirit of the holiday season should be about community and not just consumerism," said Kathy Calvin, CEO of the UN Foundation. "The most meaningful gift we can give our children, loved ones, friends, and neighbors is the commitment to work together to help build a better world."

In the words of Bill and Melinda Gates, "Whoever you support, and however much you give, thank you for participating in #GivingTuesday. It’s a great way to help create the better world we all want. We wish you a happy holiday season."

For more details about the #GivingTuesday movement, visit the #GivingTuesday website, Facebook page, or Twitter page. Also, don't forget to use the #GivingTuesday hashtag on all your social networks.

Image Credit: #GivingTuesday

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Improve Your Brand: Take the IBM Workforce and Customer Experience Assessment

As a result of social media, technology, marketing, and customer service functions within many businesses are getting hard to differentiate. So how can a brand stand out from the competition when threatened by social interference, multiple devices, and internal business strife?

One solution might be for your business to take the “Workforce and Customer Experience Assessment” created by IBM, an online tool designed to benchmark your workforce and customer experience practices. 

“A social business excels at creating highly engaging and personalized connections between people, information, and process. The result is smarter workforces and exceptional customer experiences…Do you know how to leverage your people, information and social insights for competitive advantage?”

A variety of questions address candidate experience, employee experience, manager experience, customer experience, and the workforce – but these were my favorites:

[1] Does your organization use social media sites to recruit talent?
[2] Do you effectively evaluate candidates that closely align with your culture and job requirements?
[3] What elements are included in your onboarding process?
[4] What types of training and skills development programs are used in your organization?
[5] Do you have an effective way for employees to collaborate and share knowledge across teams regardless of location and via any device?
[6] What types of performance management practices are used in your organization?
[7] Do managers know how to motivate and engage their teams and workforce?
[8] How does your organization measure leadership performance?
[9] Can your organization align and measure talent strategies against key business metrics?
[10] What are the top three business priorities driving your organization’s customer engagement strategy?
[11] What tactics is your organization using to improve online customer engagement?
[12] Is your organization measuring the success of your online customer engagement tactics?
[13] Does your organization connect customer insights with product and service development?
[14] How does your organization provide support for customers using mobile devices?
[15] Does your organization understand the value of technology and how to weave it into your daily business operations?

After you answer all of the questions, a score will be provided. Your score will provide a breakdown as to which areas need improvement.

“When companies reduce time-to-hire, increase productivity, lower turnover and increase retention rates, business wins by getting its products to market faster, sharing collective knowledge, and being more creative and innovative. These companies truly understand how employees impact the bottom line. It’s not just good business. It’s smart business. Because what is good for people is good for business, and together, they can change the world.”

So, don’t you want your business to be a smart business?

If yes, click below to take the IBM Workforce and Customer Experience Assessment: 

Image Credit: KROMKRATHOG via

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Does Your Brand Need A Tagline?

These days, every brand needs to stand out in order to attract customers and also keep customers. So how does your brand do it? Do you bake amazing chocolate cakes? Do you manufacturer ergonomic chairs? Do you provide insurance for classic automobiles? Whatever your business does, one way to differentiate yourself from the competition is with a unique tagline. But since not every business has one, how do you know if your brand needs one?

Everyone can recognize the brands behind these famous taglines: Just Do It, A Diamond Is Forever, and Think Different. But Nike, DeBeers, and Apple would have been just as successful without those taglines – or would they?

According to Wikipedia, “A tagline is a small amount of text which serves to clarify a thought for, or designed with a form of, dramatic effect. Many tagline slogans are reiterated phrases associated with an individual, social group, or product. As a variant of a branding slogan, taglines can be used in marketing materials and advertising. The idea behind the concept is to create a memorable dramatic phrase that will sum up the tone and premise of an audio/visual product or to reinforce and strengthen the audience’s memory of a literary product. Some taglines are successful enough to warrant inclusion in popular culture.” (1)

However, taglines are also referred to as slogans. According to Wikipedia, “Advertising slogans are short, memorable group of words used in advertising campaigns. Some slogans are created just for specific limited-time campaigns; others are intended as a corporate slogan, to be used for extended periods. Various slogans start out as the former, and are, over time, converted into the latter as ideas take hold with the public. Some advertising slogans are memorable after general use is discontinued.” (2)

Can you identify these taglines or slogans?

  • We’re Number Two. We Try Harder = Avis
  • The Ultimate Driving Machine = BMW
  • Expect More. Pay Less. = Target
  • Breakfast of Champions = Wheaties
  • Bags Fly Free. = Southwest Airlines
  • What’s in your wallet? = Capital One

So what should your company consider when the “do we need a tagline” discussion arises? And make no mistake, one of these days, a member of your senior leadership team – and 99% of the time, it won’t be the head of marketing – will enter a conference room for a team meeting and say, “I think we need a tagline.”

If your team can answer these five questions, then you may be ready for a tagline:
[1] Would a tagline clarify the brand’s competitive strength or strengths?
[2] Would a tagline speak to the target audience?
[3] Would a tagline get lost in the visual representation of your brand (the logo)?
[4] Would a tagline reflect the personality of your brand?
[5] Would a tagline be easily associated with your brand (memorable)?

Remember, the key for a successful tagline is to integrate it into all aspects of your marketing strategy from online marketing to in-store displays, from email marketing to advertising, from public relations to social media, etc. The tagline has to become an appendage to your brand story.

And lastly, to quote Benjamin Franklin,
Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing about. If you have an amazing tagline, it will accomplish both.

Whats your favorite tagline? To see some of my favorites, check out my Pinterest Board:

Sources for this post:
(1) Wikipedia: Tagline

(2) Wikipedia: Advertising Slogan

Image Credit: Stuart Miles via

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Blurring Lines Between Marketing and Technology

No matter the size, every business is experiencing it. The lines between marketing functions and information technology (IT) functions are blurring more and more every day. Who owns the database? Who owns the website? Who owns the social media accounts? Who owns the documents housed in the cloud? The debate ranges on, and in the process, the tension continues to grow.

Some businesses have created new roles and titles. Some have added a “Marketing Technologist,” while others have added a “Chief Digital Officer.” Some have gone so far as to merge the marketing and IT departments into one. But that’s like adding dentists to a football team – it doesn’t really make sense.

Let’s break it down. On the tech side of the aisle, there are five key specialty areas: system administration/network infrastructure, database designers, website coders, information security, and legal compliance and data/business recovery. On the marketing side of the aisle, the list is even longer: advertising, branding/brand advocacy/brand promise, corporate identity (logo/tagline/brand personality/brand voice/templates/logo guidelines), co-branding, re-branding, strategic planning, corporate communications (brochures/newsletters/branded collateral), public relations, internal employee communications, social media, mobile marketing, copywriting/blogging, tradeshows/seminars/webinars/special events, corporate sponsorship/non-profit community support, metrics/ROI/KPIs/NPS/survey analysis, market/customer behavior research, customer experience/VOC marketing, website marketing, graphic design for print/web/ads, and annual marketing plans/budgets.

At the core, the tension between the IT and marketing departments has grown because the two own important data. Often, that data surrounds a business database. Whether that database was designed internally (and this is where the IT folks come in because they probably coded it) or externally (translation, often with SalesForce or a similar CRM product), the IT team wants to provide maintenance and updates. The marketing team wants to use the data to reach out to customers and prospects to provide service, launch marketing campaigns, and upsell.

Instead of crowding out the other, why can’t the two departments align their objectives? I asked 10 tech and marketing experts to address this topic, and their comments follow below with their Twitter handles.

John Ellett (@jellett): Technology has fundamentally changed the way companies engage with their current and potential customers across paid, owned, and earned media channels. The question shouldn’t be whether Marketing or IT will be in charge of planning and implementing the systems needed. It should be, how do the two divisions learn to be collaborative partners and leverage the strengths of each. Unfortunately, egos, budgetary turf wars, and lack of common language are inhibiting the teamwork needed to make progress at the necessary rate.

Shaun Dakin (@PrivacyCamp): With the increased use of technology in marketing programs, both online and offline, it’s clear that marketing talent must understand code and data just as well as they understand marketing strategy and planning. The future of marketing combines a strong sense of who the customers are, where to find them, what to offer them, and the technologies needed to delight them.

Susan Gunelius (@SusanGunelius): With technology as the foundation of most marketing initiatives in 2013, the need for marketing and tech to work together is more important than ever. Also, accountability must be evenly spread between both departments. The tech team needs to provide the tools and infrastructure to ensure that marketing programs work and drive the results that the business needs. This means that the marketing team needs to educate the tech team about why they make specific requests. What is the lost opportunity cost if the tech team cannot deliver? Accountability starts with understanding the risks and rewards. At the same time, the tech team needs to fully communicate what it can and cannot do to support the marketing team, so that the marketing team approaches the tech team with realistic expectations. Communication between marketing and tech is critical, but there is often a wide gap between these two departments. Companies that bridge this gap will thrive in the future, while others scramble to put out fires and run to catch up.

Gina Schreck (@ginaschreck): Technology is no longer a prisoner of the IT department, and social media needs to be freed from Marketing. Technology is now so tightly woven into everything we do, that successful companies will not just try and figure out how to USE social media, but instead they will explore ways to BE more social in every aspect of their business. I think just as every department within a company uses a phone, every department will soon look at ways to engage both face-to-face and virtual community members.

Elliot Ross (@elliotross): In my years in business technology, one of the most destructive organizational silos I have seen is the silo that can exist between an org’s IT function and its marketing staff. I firmly believe that, in this electronic generation, your IT and marketing leadership have to be joined at the hip, in other words, thinking with a shared brain. Just about every activity in your value chain today can involve the creation or consumption of information that is tied to your product or service. [As for Marketing], you know that the touch points you try to connect depend on technology. And with this prevalence of technology in your business, unless marketing and technology communicate at a relevant level of detail, lost opportunities are endless.

Gini Dietrich (@ginidietrich): As a communications professional, I would love the changes in technology to belong to us. But I think it’s less about a discipline and more about who understands how all of it works together under one umbrella and how to use each tool at the right time to reach the right audiences. The professionals who get it will win.

Lilach Bullock (@lilachbullock): Businesses and marketers will have to learn new techniques and act fast if they want to keep up with their consumers’ needs. Only the most creative ideas will help businesses stand out, and they will have to find new tools and ways to capture their audience’s imaginations. But most importantly, I think that they have to embrace the new trends and not stick to what they know from the past.

Viveka von Rosen (@LinkedInExpert): While marketing is relying more and more on the technology of social media platforms, we must remember that marketing should remain focused on communications. Yes, in some cases the medium becomes the message, but we in marketing must remember that there are real people on the other side of the channel, and that’s who we need to be engaging with – no matter the method.

Ray Hiltz (@newraycom): Social technology and the explosion of content marketing have forced companies to look outward and present a unified brand. This cannot happen with the old silo model. The new reality is “business is marketing,” and much of the marketing happens in the digital space.

Vala Afshar (@ValaAfshar): The most important disruption for CMOs and CIOs is digital transformation: the combination of social, mobile, cloud, data, and apps in the enterprise. So what will a “social business” look like in 2020? According to Forrester Research Director Christopher Mines, “The CIO will play the role of orchestrator and integrator of external services and service providers instead of internally building and owning such applications directly, while at the same time directing more front-end, customer-facing work.” Effective CIOs will take responsibility for turning innovation into business value. (Doesn’t that sound similar to what today’s marketers do?)

What do you think will happen in the future Please share your thoughts – this conversation isn’t going anywhere. On the contrary, as business becomes more social-centric, this topic will become even more important.

Image Credit: Thanks to Vala Afshar for sharing a presentation featuring quote by Mark P. McDonald (@markpmcdonald).

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.