Thursday, November 7, 2013

Three Trends Impacting Digital Marketing

digital trends wordle
Earlier this fall, I keynoted at Lee Jean’s Digital Days, a day long event for Lee Jean’s marketing teams and their agency partners. They asked me to share a few digital marketing trends that were beyond the tipping point. I discussed three:
  1. Real Time Marketing
  2. Creating Youtility Through Care, Context & Creativity
  3. Empowering Employees & Fans
Here’s the slideshare for your review and I highlight a few key talking points below.

Let’s dig into the three trends starting with Real Time Marketing.

The term Real Time Marketing is overhyped. I’m sure a few of you are rolling your eyes. I get it, but I don’t think we – in the digital marketing industry – have really defined it and provided the rationale for a more steady state of Real Time Marketing.

What does Real Time Marketing mean?
Real Time Marketing is using data analytics with a process flow to shift marketing messaging in real time or near real time. 

The key words in my definition are really process flow and shift. Real Time Marketing isn’t going to work without a documented and blessed process flow. If there is no shift in your marketing messaging, then there’s no “real time” element.

And you can call it whatever you want if you think Real Time Marketing is too limiting or overhyped. Call it Agile, Right Time, Marketing in the Moment, Engagement Marketing… – really, at it’s core it is simply Marketing.

Real Time Marketing has three unique layers: 1) It’s an process, not a project (meaning there’s no start and stop date); 2) It’s an ongoing newsroom not an advertising campaign; and 3) The content has to be brand relevant and current but not a buzz wedge. How many buzz wedgie RTM tweets have we all seen and groaned over? I think I should devote a post to a few of them, eh?

Ok, so on to number two – Creating Youtility Through Care, Context & Creativity. Jay Baer coined the word Youtility and it’s the title of his NY Times best selling book, Youtility – Why Smart Marketing is about Help not Hype. I highly recommend you grab yourself a copy. It is jam-packed with excellent content marketing case studies from companies large and small and plenty of how-tos. Youtility is marketing so useful, people would pay for it.

I bundled a few of Jay’s key Youtility points to explain this second trend – Creating Youtility. In the digital world, customer service is front and center, with a two-way dialogue it is mandatory. Secondly, social listening isn’t just for passive company actions like brand protection and reactive ones such as customer service.  Social listening is also for proactive company actions like product innovation, marketing sideways and sales. We will see more and more traction with Youtility as we roll into 2014. Yes, you can hold me to that.

And finally, let’s chat quickly about the last trend I discussed which is Empowering Employees and Fans. This is about enabling your best fans to tell your brand story in digital. Brand advocacy boils down to having simple tools like Expion's Social Advocator, providing content with guardrails and making sure you don’t mandate employees or fans (through loyalty program requirements) to share. So, no voluntolds period.

The three trends cover always-on marketing; providing creative content marketing and product innovation through social listening; and, giving your brand advocates the means to share stories about your brand. There’s a ton more to cover and I’d love to hear your thoughts below in comments or shoot me a tweet so we can keep chatting this up.

This post was originally published on Expion's blog.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Book Review: Marketing to Millennials

They got me with the introduction. 

 “They” being authors Jeff Fromm and Christie Garton. The hook for me - stats. The Marketing to Millennials intro is not the standard “why we wrote this book and there’s how it’s laid out” bit, instead it highlights the research that was the catalyst for the book. The numbers are compelling and made me want to gobble the rest of Fromm‘s and Garton’s sensibility up.

The book is part resource (research from Forrester, Pew, BCG, Gartner, Barkley, etc.), part storytelling (many millennial interviews) and part case studies (several brands that are maneuvering their way into millennial relevance, daily consumption and loyalty.) Yes, you did read right, millennials can be fiercely loyal - if a brand lets them be - and this book explains the how behind the what.

The book flow is one that I akin to marketing research books I read for my MBA classes. It is straight forward and business-driven with a focus on explaining the millennial market backed with multiple research findings, discussing the unique opportunities, pointing out the gray (ie – Is this a life-stage driven or a true generational difference?) muddledness and providing in-depth analysis on how brands succeed with millennials.

Each chapter is easily digestible starting with a millennial quote that is a summary statement for the chapter’s theme.  There are at least two charts from industry research powerhouses in each chapter backing up the authors’ key points. The case studies are landscaped in a helpful “Who? What? How? Impact?” framework. And at the end of every chapter, there’s a handy one-to-two page key takeaways summary.

The content is solid for any company that is creating and marketing brands targeting millennials or those they influence. I think it’s relevant for companies that are trying to attract and keep millennial employees as well. Here’s an excellent review by Bob Morris that goes into detail about the content.

I really didn’t know what to think going into this book as I really didn’t know if the subject matter was core to my current role. Given how many brands my company, Expion, works with that target millennials and also given the average age of our office is 28 – this book is a necessary resource for me. I’ll definitely be keeping this book handy. I don’t say that about most books I read. I typically read and give away. Marketing to Millennials needs to stay within arm’s reach for me. 

·   Disclosure: I received a free copy of Marketing to Millennials from Jeff Fromm to review however I’ve given that book away and have ordered a few on my own dime – one to keep on my shelf and a couple to give to industry colleagues.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Visiting Our Sponsored CFCA Child At Her Family’s Home

I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to top last year’s New Year’s Eve. As part of my Guatemala CFCA awareness trip, I was able to visit our sponsored child, Angelica, at her home. Typically on CFCA trips a home visit isn’t part of the itinerary so this was an extra special event. For me, it meant I could see where Angelica calls home, meet her whole extended family and see how they live.

When we started sponsoring Angelica in 1998, her home was described as having two rooms with a metal sheet roof and mud floors. Having spent a lot of my awareness trip visiting with families whose homes fit that description and were near earthquake fault lines or on mountains prone to mudslides, I was anxious to see if Angelica lived in a safe home. I knew her family was a loving family but I was worried her living conditions might align with the many I had experienced. I really don’t think if I could have gone back to the US without seeing Angelica’s village and family home. I needed to make sure her family wasn’t living in harm’s way. My next blog post will share a story of a Guatemalan family that lost three children to harm’s way.

  Back to New Year's Eve and our adventure to Angelica's village. We traveled or about 2 hours up mountains, down valleys and up mountains. It was gorgeous scenery. Think Napa Valley Mixed in with a bit of Hawaii. On our trip to the village, our translator, Elena, shared that Angelica’s family lived in an area that was not plagued by mudslides nor was near a fault line. News that was even more calming to me than the scenery. So this gave me the courage to ask about their home. Elena assured me that the family had been building on to their home and it was safe and comfortable. Another sigh of relief for me. She also informed us that we needed to be prepared for a very large celebration!

And boy, did the family throw out the red carpet! We were greeted by what seemed like half the village and a large band that was made up of Angelica’s two brothers, uncles and cousins. There were lots of introductions and hugs. I felt like I was being thrown a coming home party and that that Angelica’s family had adopted me. It was very heartwarming and overwhelming especially getting to meet both sets of Angelica’s grandparents.

Angelica’s family pridefully showed me around their home as the music and festivities continued. It was beautiful! I would say the stucco-cement blended walls were at least a foot thick. Her father, Luis, assured me they would withstand typical earthquakes – though no earthquakes had hit their area. The floors were not mud but were gorgeous ceramic tiles. The roof was made of tiles with straw and mud insulation so the home was cool.   

Angelica walked me to her room that she and her sister, Yessica, share. She showed me a little Weist family area she had created with photos from us and
little gifts we had sent. This was a tear jerker for me for so many reasons. Her favorite gift was the saints book we had sent several years back. It was my favorite religious book growing up and I was so happy to hear it is her favorite as well.

Angelica’s mom, sister and aunts were busy making a Mayan feast for us. The highlight of my visit was sitting around their living room eating tostadas with Angelica’s whole family. Laughing and sharing stories. What a treasured moment!

Meeting a few of the children that Angelica’s family has taken in over the years was extra special as well. These kiddos, 10 in all, needed a safe place to live and be raised while their parents dealt with alcoholism. I couldn’t believe how committed Luis and Edilberta were about this. “It’s just the right thing to do. Our family has been blessed and we want other children to have a happy and safe childhood,” said Edilberta.

We danced in their courtyard for longer than we should have but no one wanted us to leave and we would have stayed but we had one more family to see that day and day light was escaping us. Saying goodbye was so incredibly hard but my heart felt light knowing Angelica’s family lived in a strong, safe home with a large supporting family. I also talked with Angelica and her parents about school and following her dreams to help her family continue to thrive. This home visit was the best way for me to see how our family had given Angelica’s family a hand up not a hand out.

Playing a little part in helping Angelica’s family achieve their dreams – that is what our sponsorship is all about. There were so many amazing moments to this day. The ones that are most precious to me are
seeing Angelica in her environment so happy and at ease - showing me around and so happy to have me with her family. Her personality really came alive and I saw a side to Angelica that I never could through letters. I also got to see for myself how the family lived, what they needed, and how their life plays out day in and day out. There’s a lot of love in Angelica’s home. Such a comfort.

If you are considering a home visit with your sponsored child, I would definitely say: do it.

A very big thank you to all the local CFCA trip that spent their holiday driving, hosting and interpreting for me and the CFCA headquarter’s lead, Judy-Anne. A very special thank you to Pedro, Angelica’s social worker, and of course our translator, Elena. I know that Elena was very late to her family’s New Year’s Eve fiesta and I very much appreciate her giving heart and helpful spirit!

Interested in learning more about CFCA and why I chose to sponsor a child? Here's my story.

I’ll be posting more recap blogs here. I'll update with video from CFCA when post-production work is finished. Many in-the-moment updates have already been posted on TwitterFacebookInstagram and Pinterest - just look under #cfcatrip.

DISCLOSURECFCA covered my flight and lodging for my Guatemala mission awareness trip in return for me documenting my trip via blog posts and sharing my CFCA awareness trip experience via my social channels. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day, Mom - No Butts About It

Happy Mother's Day to my beautiful, smart and loving mom, Maralyne Monsour.

She nudged me this morning. I still get those Mom vibes. She inspired me to write this post. So here goes, me find the words.

My mom died about three years ago. She was one of those moms. You know the kind that always make a big deal for others on their birthdays and holidays but didn't really want you to fuss around her big days. She was an amazing woman, wife, mom, grandmother, aunt, cousin, friend and fighter. She fought lung cancer for over 10 years. She was one tough cookie! And she has been the subject of a few of my posts. Here she is with our youngest. I treasure this photo as it was from my mom's last Mother's Day.

Today's is about her last moments fighting with lung cancer. Warning: This isn't my typical cheery post.

As soon as my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer she quit smoking. She had smoked since she was in high school and she stopped around age 63. After she was diagnosed she said that she brought this disease on herself - that it was her responsibility. She stopped smoking cold turkey! That is an unbelievable feat!

Yes, she was strong and firm. On quitting the habit, Mom would say,  "If you want to do something you just do it. If you have the will, you find the way." Her voice saying that phrase still lingers in my mind. I smile at her common sense, no-nonsense way of going about life. What a mentor! A modern day lady that was as tough as nails with a hug that drew you in just long enough to know she really loved you and a smile that warmed you to the core. Tough, yes, but all love.

I had the honor to be by my mom's side when she passed. Few children are so blessed. I share this next bit with you, in case you have a loved one that smokes or smoke yourself...

Watching someone die from complications due to lung cancer is extremely hard to bare. Struggling for air is the worst endeavor. I know first hand as I almost drown when I was 3 years old and that feeling still haunts me. Gasping for air and having my lungs fill with water...there's nothing so terrifying. Mom - my hero -  pulled me out of the pool and had to resuscitate me.

That terrifying feeling of not being able to breathe consumed me again on the day my mother passed. It was our ultimate bonding experience - my mother's last moments. She was struggling for air but her lungs were shot, the years of smoking and the cancer had literally sucked the life out of her -  she had pneumonia and there was nothing that could be done. Her time had come. It was an excruciatingly tough way to leave this earth.

I was blessed to be there by my mom's side. Holding her hand and praying. She was surrounded by her children and loved ones.  She was ready to go. She had beat the odds and fought a 10+ year battle. She was ready to join my dad in heaven.

So I share my mom and my last moments together with you - in my less than eloquent way - to hopefully motivate you to kick your smoking habit in the butt or to help your loved ones stop smoking.

Find tips on how to stop smoking at The American Lung Association and there's several stop smoking online groups.

Mom, thanks for keeping the inspiration coming. And for all of you that still have your mom here with you - go love on her with a hug, a call, or even a facebook post (that last one is for Heather ;))!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Fourteen Years In The Making - Meeting My Sponsored Friend #cfcatrip

I was extremely excited to meet Angelica and her family in person on Day 3 of my Guatemala CFCA awareness trip.  This moment had been 14 years in the making and the butterflies were getting the best of me as we set up video cameras and did sound checks. I'm sure there will be an outtakes clip I will share here. I was shaky at best.

Many families filed in starting around eight in the morning. There were 38 sponsors - some who sponsor more than one child or aging friend - so several families needed to check in. Though the lines were long, every Mayan had a smile on their face waiting in anticipation to meet their sponsor either for the first time or catch up since the last visit.

It is easy to tell yourself you are not going to cry when you meet your sponsored child for the first time. It's a joyous occasion and you only have a few hours so you want all smiles and no tears. Yep, the reality of that mantra lasted all of about 15 seconds for me.

I saw Angelica and her family registering and just couldn't wait to throw my arms around her and share that moment with the camera. There were lots of tears of joy and it was such a once-in-a-lifetime moment. I'll post the video as soon as I can. 

It's hard to put into words how overwhelming of a emotionally-charged moment it was. To spend time with someone you care so much about, have so much hope for and want so much for - someone you didn't think you'd ever be able to meet - I wanted to slow down time and cherish every second. And the seconds flew by!

Angelica was such a delight. Her smile - it is a treasure and it barely left her face all day. I haven't seen her smile much in photos we have gotten over the years so seeing her spirit so alive and happy was a goodness that words again can't describe. Her parents, Luis and Edilberta, are so proud of her and her little brother, Fernando, was all over her that day - just crazy for her. There was so much family love and respect for each other. What a comfort for me to see! So many acts of kindness without thought or reflection. All so apparent to me but so matter of fact for them. 

Angelica and her mother, Edilberta, made our family special gifts including the native outfit I am wearing in these photos. Their weaving is incredibly beautiful and Angelica has inherited her mother's love and gift for weaving. They are blessed to be able to help provide for their family. 

After seeing how well Angelica weaves it really hit home how difficult it must be for her family to commit to keeping her in school. She is so talented but they realize that her education will be more beneficial for the family long-term.

We were able to spend about an hour together before lunch. Angelica loves to play basketball and read so I brought her a ball and some books. We talked about school and her hopes to be a nurse. Her father, Luis, pridefully shared how Angelica juggles school work, weaving and helping her mom with chores around their home. We talked about all their family. They got me caught up on how Angelica's grandparents are doing. We discussed how Angelica's family helps take care of children in their village that need a healthy and happy home to stay in for as long as they need it due to alcoholism. This kind fact made sense of all the kids we had seen in pictures over the years. They have taken in several children. A family in need helping others. 

The morning was spent sharing a web of stories that had a few gaps given we'd known each other fourteen years but hadn't ever met. We were filling in those gaps real time with our amazing interpreter, Elena. Even with the gaps - the bond - the family-like bond was instant and steadfast strong. 

The highlight of my day after meeting Angelica was eating a traditional Mayan lunch with Angelica's family. It was nice to have time over a meal - to break bread - and not have to worry about any of the family serving on us. As a mom, it was something that really stuck with me. CFCA staff did all the waiting on and we just enjoyed amazing food and each other's company. Also, each family with their sponsor could speak in front of the whole group. Angelica's dad shared with the community our story in such a captive way. I have to say I fell in love with the prose of the Mayans that day. They know how to give heart-felt talks that are beautiful to take in. They flow like songs. And, during the program we danced together - the Mayans love music and dancing. We - Angelica and I - did a folk dance to Mayan music. That was yet another highlight of the day. 

And the best news for me - I was going to visit Angelica's family at her home in a few days so though this day came to a close too quickly at least it was just a temporary good-bye for us.

Interested in learning more about CFCA and why I chose to sponsor a child? Here's my story.

I’ll be posting recap blogs here. I'll update with video from CFCA when post-production work is finished. Many in-the-moment updates have already been posted on TwitterFacebookInstagram and Pinterest - just look under #cfcatrip.

DISCLOSURE: I was CFCA's guest blogger. They covered my flight and lodging during my Guatemala awareness trip in return for me documenting my trip via blog posts and sharing my experience via my social channels.