Best Super Bowl 2015 Ads

SuperBowl 2015 Best Ads

Last night’s Super Bowl XLIX Seahawks-Patriots match up was definitely one for the ages.  Ratings were up 4% (total viewers to be announced later today) from last year which had a record breaking audience of 111.5 million viewers.  Super Bowl commercial are among the most expensive mainly due to the mass audience they attract.  According to The Wall Street Journal, brands shelled out a record breaking $4.5 million this year for a basic 30-second Super Bowl XLIX ad.  The true value of the overall exposure includes online views, brand recall, social media leverage, wide spread media coverage, and positive PR associated with the game.

This year’s ads were focused on heartfelt emotions (from the powerful ads like NFL’s domestic violence, Dove’s Fathers are hero’s to Dodge’s 100 year life lessons) to off-putting (Nationwide childhood death which was very depressing).  Most effective Super Bowl ads use animals, babies/kids, humor (which we didn’t see much of this year with a few exceptions like the Snicker’s ad), surprise endings, celebrities, and longer storytelling.

According to YouTube Trends Dashboard the “Lost Dog” ad by Budweiser was one of the most viewed videos in the last 24 hours (20.8M views) since uploaded on January 28th. Super Bowl 2015 Chart ranked “Lost Dog” #1 with 2.1M shares across Facebook, Twitter and blogs in the last 30 days.  This ad has also taken top dog honors among several media outlets including USA Today Ad Meter, Hulu, Denver Post and Shift Communications tally of online and ad sharing.  Emotions were definitely riding high with this ad and were used successfully to engage consumers with the Budweiser brand.

“The Brady Bunch” ad by Snickers was ranked #2 by Super Bowl 2015 Chart with 187,237 shares in the last 30 days.  This spot was clever and very funny and had it not had a puppy or baby in it, it might have taken the top slot.  “The Brady Bunch” ad has been one of the most shared videos on Facebook & Twitter in the last 24 hours and has 8.1M views on YouTube.  One of Snicker’s successes outside of the humor they used was in launching their ad early with their teaser campaign.  Their teaser ad generated 3.35M views alone.  Launching before the Super Bowl game is ultimately the way to be a part of the larger conversation, engaging with consumers longer.

The keys to a successful commercial are:

  1. Attention: The ad needs to grab consumer’s attention.
  2. Distinction: The ad needs to be different, distinct so it stands out from the competition.
  3. Positioning: Your ad needs to deliver your brands benefit in order to be memorable to your consumers.
  4. Likable/Effective: Your ad needs to be liked, inspiring conversation in a positive way, engaging both consumer and brand.
  5. Net Equity: The ad has to be consistent with the overall brand.

How To Identify Your Target Market?

Target MarketUnderstanding your target market and their behavior patterns is critical and probably one of the most underrated aspects of the planning process.  How can you create a great product or offer a great service if you don’t know who your target audience is, what they like and need and how much they are willing to pay?  Knowing your target market has many benefits to your business:


  1. Makes it easier to reach your target market with focused advertising and marketing outreach.
  2. Makes it simpler to optimize your product catering to the target market’s needs and wants which is important for product adoption and customer retention.
  3. Helps to better understand your market size which enables you to make more accurate financial estimates.

Businesses struggle to define their target market and too often set their sights broadly, trying to please everyone.  One of the biggest marketing errors that brands make is not identifying the target market properly resulting in all of their marketing efforts to be seen by the wrong people which make it much more challenging to convert to customers.

Before you start marketing your product/service and creating your marketing campaign, you need to identify who your target market is.  A target market is composed of a core or primary target, a secondary target and a tertiary target.  The core is composed of consumers who will definitely buy your product.  The secondary target is composed of consumers who may want to purchase your product through persuasive advertising, from word of mouth knowledge and by trying the product initially.  The tertiary target audience is the group of consumers who want to wait and see.  They will wait for the product to be popular, the price to be within their purchasing range and if the product will answer their need at one point in time.  The process of identifying a target market is called market segmentation.  This simply means that you break down the market and define the audience or consumer by:

  • Demographics: Age, Income, Family Size, Education, Occupation, Gender, Marital Status, Nationality/Race
  • Geography: Location, Region of the World, Climate
  • Behaviors: Brand Loyalty, Value of Quality
  • Psychographics: Personality, Attitudes, Values, Lifestyle, Interests/Hobbies, Behavior

Here are some key areas to start identifying who your target market is:

Analyze Your Product/Service USP (Unique Selling Proposition)

  • Try to understand your products/services unique selling proposition or try to understand the problem your product/service is solving for your customers. This will help to begin to identify who would pay for your product/service.
  • Define your product/service features & benefits. A feature is an element of what something does or what it is. For example, a car’s features may include ski racks or an upgraded stereo system. A benefit is a positive result that the feature delivers (I get to go skiing). You can then define your benefits by whether they are functional or emotional. A functional benefit is directly related to the functionality of the feature. For example, an upgraded stereo provides higher-quality sound. An emotional benefit is one that evokes a feeling or emotion. An example is an upgraded stereo might make the user feel like a rock star. From here, make a list of people who have a need that your benefit fulfills.

Know Your Competition

  • Evaluate your competition’s marketing strategy can help you analyze your own target market.
  • Look at your competitor’s USP, who are they targeting, who are their current customers, study their advertisements, marketing campaigns, pricing strategy, products/services, etc.
  • Be sure to differentiate what you are doing from the competition, don’t go after the same target market.

Look At Your Current Customer Base

  • Look at who is already using your product/service. Identify who the heavy users are and their buying patterns, look at their demographics, look for common characteristics and interests.

Choosing Your Target Market|Creating A Customer Profile

  • Based on your product/services USP, your positioning in the marketplace vs the competition, and who your current customer base is, identify who not only has a need for your product/service but who is most likely to buy taking into considering demographics, geography, behaviors and psychographics.
  • Rather than make assumptions that people will need your product/service, conduct research to get a more realistic picture of your audience.
    • Surveys: most common and least expensive. Conducted online, in person or by phone. Can tap into current/potential customer pool, client’s, and vendors for feedback.
    • Focus groups: more expensive, gain feedback on product/services by asking questions in an interactive group setting with a moderator.
    • Search Online: blogs, forums, articles, etc. that talk about your target market or that talk to your target market.
    • You’re Network: tap into your social network to get feedback, opinions and advice.

Evaluate Your Decision

  • Once you’ve decided on a target market, you need to consider the following:
    • Are there enough people that fit your marketing criteria?
    • Do I fully understand what drives my target market to make buying decisions for my product/service? How much purchasing power do they have? Who influences their buying decisions?
    • Can the target market afford my product/service?
    • Can you effectively reach the target market with your marketing message? Are they easily accessible?

Identifying your target market is essential to successfully marketing your product/service.  It will be important to reassess your target market periodically as the marketplace shifts and evolves.  Staying ahead of the curve and adjusting your planning accordingly is an ongoing process.


Strong marketing organizations typically excel in being able to leverage consumer/customer insights, communicate a strong brand purpose, and deliver a rich customer experience.  They are putting out engaging content, inspiring their brand vision throughout the organization, have a strategic focus, organizational agility and are committed to continual training.  Here’s a look at what key elements are needed for a strong, effective marketing organization.



It’s not only important to integrate insights on what consumers are doing into your marketing efforts but also why they are doing it.  Insights are not just the facts and data that you collect, it goes deeper than that.  Insights are also the cause and effect which gets at consumers’ needs in order to address how best to meet them.  Dove is a great example of a brand that has used consumer insights effectively.  Dove has used its line of beauty products (soaps, shampoos, deodorants, body washes) to successfully engage consumers in a conversation for 10 years now about beauty based on their insights around women’s views of themselves.  A large part of Dove’s marketing efforts has been about getting real people to talk about Dove’s products.  Another example is Nike+ suite of personal fitness products and services which combines a deep understanding of what makes athletes tick.  Nick+ incorporates sensor technologies into running shoes and wearable devices that connect to the web, apps, smartphones, training programs and social networks.  Nike+ provides motivational feedback and links users to communities of friends, like-minded athletes and even coaches.  Users receive personalized coaching programs that monitor their progress.  People are rewarded for good performance, can post their accomplishments on social media and can compare their performance with and learn from others in the Nike+ community.




Brand fundamentals matter more than ever before.  That’s why it’s so important for brands to deliver a powerful and clear brand purpose ensuring consistent messaging across all touch points throughout an organization.  Brands must know what their purpose is, why they exist, what their job is, and what results they want to get in order for their product or service to deliver effectively to their target audience.  General Mills offers a case in point of how a great brand purpose can transform your marketing and serve as an anchoring tool.  They set out to have their Betty Crocker brand stand for, “Making a house a home.”  In order for this to happen, the brand had to share expert opinions on and platforms around the ever-changing state of the American Family.  They created a campaign called “The Families Project” highlighted by a website that aggregates stories from families of all kinds giving consumers a place to share their voice.  The website contains numerous videos of families sharing their stories and giving anyone the ability to post theirs through the site and via social media.  Regardless of the makeup of the family, the consistent theme of families working to make their house a home remained throughout.  Another case in point, AkzoNobel’s Dulux, one of the world’s leading paint brands.  AkzoNobel had a decentralized business model with local markets setting their own brand/business goals with mixed results.  They instituted a program to understand consumer’s perceptions across markets on paint’s purpose in their lives and the human truths that inspired people to color their environments.  The consistent theme that emerged was that colors around us powerfully influence how we feel driving their new brand purpose and leading to their marketing campaign, “Let’s Color.”  The campaign donates paint to revitalize rundown urban neighborhoods and has created a globalized organization with a purpose driven approach that has expanded market share.

Betty Crocker


More and more companies today are creating an overall customer experience by enhancing the value of their product and/or service through the breadth of the relationship and through the depth of the personalization.  McCormick (spice and flavoring brand) highlights the depth and breadth in delivering a consistent experience for consumers across numerous physical and digital touch points (packaging, branded content [cookbooks], retail stores and interactive service [FlavorPrint]).  FlavorPrint learns each customer’s preferences and makes tailored recipe recommendations from there generating customized e-mails, shopping lists and recipes optimized for tablets and mobile devices.



Content is another vital piece in the digital age and failing to put out great, rewarding, meaningful content can translate to failure overall for the brand.  The goal is to engage with a highly targeted audience as well as attract new consumers, encouraging social shares and increasing the brand’s visibility.  When the Superbowl plunged into darkness, the Oreo team reacted with a simple but relevant branded tweet, “You can still dunk in the dark.”  The image was retweeted 16K times and 8K new people started following them on twitter.  Oreo built instant brand engagement and a whole heap of press based on their reactiveness to the black-out event.  Another example is General Mills’ Box Tops for Education initiative which generates $600M for school supplies.  They ran a week long appreciation campaign asking Facebook fans how the program had benefitted their school.  Responses were turned into box top art with fans loving the one of a kind pictures that were created for them.  The campaign generated 7M impressions with over 66K interactions.

Box Top



To be successful, the marketing organization needs to be a strategic partner as they actively engage in helping to create the company strategy.  They then need to align its department’s activities with those of the companies.  Another driving force is inspiring the organization around the brand purpose that in turn creates employees that become de facto brand ambassadors.  This enhances cross functional collaboration and also helps ensure a consistent customer experience.  Inspiration is becoming so important for companies these days that they have begun measuring employees’ brand engagement.  Companies such as Amazon, Target and Google have dedicated brand engagement departments that measure how fully people embrace the company’s culture and purpose.  It’s also critical to focus on the right metrics.  Ensuring the brands key performance indicators are clearly linked to the overall business performance is critical to drive overall success.  Today’s marketing organizations must leverage global scale but also be nimble, able to plan and execute in a matter of weeks and more increasingly, instantaneously as in the Oreo example where the tweet was designed and implemented within minutes of the Superbowl blackout making the brand a tending topic.  Companies are creating specialized “centers of excellence” that guide strategy and share best practices while drawing on needed resources throughout organizations.  As companies pursue this approach, roles and processes need to be adapted.  However it’s important to keep in mind that not everything works and there should be a permission to fail.  VC’s take a portfolio approach, planning on the almost certainty that some investments will fail.  Sometimes you have to deliberately support things that at first sound like a bad idea.  Think about the ALFLAC duck or the Allstate mayhem guy, there had to be at least a few folks thinking these weren’t good ideas but they ended up working very well for these brands.  And finally, more organizations are building training programs that are tailored to the specific needs of their businesses continually building on their capabilities.



Creating and sharing high quality original content is one of the best online marketing strategies you can adopt. If the content is entertaining enough and connects with your audience, your content will generate shares and gain virality.

Amtrak has seen a revival in train ticket sales in part due to their recent content marketing push. Amtrak has a newly redesigned blog, an archive of content including pictures of Amtrak that stretches back over four decades, upping its social media game making it a force to be reckoned with. It has also begun sponsoring trips for writers, photographers and videographers, having a handful of brand advocates to create engaging content for the company.

Back in December, the novelist Alexander Chee said in an interview that he likes to write on trains and that he wished Amtrak had residencies for writers, referring to programs that house and sometimes feed artists so that they can focus on their work. This was repeated on Twitter a number of times including by Jessica Gross, a freelance writer who has written for the Times and other publications. Amtrak got in touch with Gross with an offer to test run Chee’s idea with a free trip from New York to Chicago and back again. Amtrak paid for Gross’s trip and in turn wanted Gross to share any content organically that she found along the way with her social network (with no requirement to do so) and to do a Q&A for the Amtrak blog. In February, Gross published an article based on her trip in The Paris Review (click below).

Gross's Published Amtrack Article











The article is not “sponsored by” or labeled “advertorial by Amtrak” however there was a disclaimer within the article with a link to an Amtrak blog post saying the trip was free. This article is an example of a great shareable piece of content in addition to the story behind its creation becoming a shareable piece of content as well. Both The Paris Review and The New Yorker have covered the background of this article, linking to the Q&A with Jessica Gross on Amtrak’s blog.

Amtrak sponsored another trip for Eric White of who is a writer, blogger, vlogger extraordinaire. They sent Eric to 6 cities in 7 days, all by train. This curated content was shared over 6 months after the conclusion of the sponsored trip, reaching over 1K likes and shared over 100 times.

This is the most organic form of advertising with the writers and publishers doing the marketing work. If people can use your product, why not sponsor a blogger or other online authority to use it and share their experience like Amtrak has done here successfully.

Amtrak’s blog has a ton of great content with a mixture of videos, its own produced daily articles and posts, as well as content published by its customers. Amtrak does a good job of making its content entertaining and shareable, even information on its baggage policy. Some of Amtrak’s best articles offer multiple experiences.  Why a ride on the Texas Eagle needs to be on your bucket list  contains gorgeously shot video featuring lots of impressive footage but also sound bites from Amtrak staff and passengers and great practical advice on what best to see along the way all while subtly mentioning the benefits of riding with Amtrak.









Amtrak is using social media as a way to communicate in a two way conversation with their customers or those who are considering taking Amtrak. That two-way communication is exactly how the writer residency program came to be. Because Amtrak spends a lot of time listening to and responding to their customers, they’ve seen a huge spike in those one on one conversations in their Twitter feed. Their travelers are sharing their experiences as it happens through their eyes and Amtrak sees a huge opportunity to re-share those experiences that people post. For example, Amtrak gets 120K photos tagged with #AmtrakonInstagram that they are looking to re-share.

Amtrak is finally doing something innovative. The secret to their success is twofold. First, letting their customers tell their stories and experiences instead of the brand telling the story. And second, devoting individual attention to its customers by listening and responding to them. Amtrak is flipping that tired image it once had and making a new way focused on the customer first.

Dos & Don’ts of E-Mail Marketing


If a picture’s worth 1,000 words, what’s a video worth? According to a recent study by Email Monks, using video can boost your email marketing returns by 280%. Yet only 25% of email marketers are doing it. With so many different uses for video—from product demonstrations and customer testimonials to training videos and factory walk-throughs—there are endless opportunities to leverage the power of video in your next email marketing campaign.

Use the following video best practices to ensure you get the most ROI for your buck in your next campaign:


  • Keep your video short. The shorter the video, the more likely viewers will watch it in its entirety and take action. Plus, concision packs power and helps ensure you’re communicating as effectively as possible. If your topic can’t be trimmed to less than two minutes, consider dividing the video into a series.
  • Use the word “video” in your subject line to draw focus to it and attract an audience interested in video. After all, if you’ve spent your time and resources creating a video, you don’t want it to be overlooked.
  • Turn sound for auto-play videos off for those who are opening their email in quiet offices.
  • Keep it action-oriented with a clear call to action. Clickable buttons and links enhance viewer engagement and help to prevent you from losing leads.
  • Pay attention to quality. Poor sound or image quality in your video can be a big turn-off. Make sure voices are audible and images are at the proper resolutions.
  • Include non-video elements, such as a web URL and a short description of the video, for viewers unable to watch it within their emails. While HTML5 is growing in popularity (allowing more people to view video within emails), not all email clients are on board just yet.
  • Use a fallback “still shot” that is a good representative image so viewers who are unable to watch video directly can understand what your video is about. If the image is enticing enough, they may be more inclined to click on a URL and watch your video elsewhere.
  • Keep your bandwidth 150-200kB/second or less so your video loads smoothly.
  • Include share buttons so viewers can promote your video on social networks. You will also be able to identify these advocates and further segment future messaging accordingly.
  • Follow up with auto-responders to deepen engagement with viewers who have taken specific actions.


  • Overlook content. Content quality is still king when it comes to videos. Rather than send out frequent videos, focus on sending relevant videos.
  • Assume you need a big budget. Keep in mind some of the most popular videos were made for nothing (Think of cat videos.) Production costs do not have to be high in order for your videos to be effective. And because most smart phones are capable of recording video in HD, you don’t have to invest in expensive equipment.
  • Get too ambitious. Start small and test the waters. Set up a focus group and ask for suggestions. Then, once you’ve seen how your audience reacts, you can plan and invest more.
  • Get caught up in perfection. Making videos is about connecting to your audience, not being the next Spielberg. Don’t lose sight of that goal.

With just a little forethought, a strategic approach to video can take your email campaigns to the next level. Ready to take your email list to the next level? Download our eBook “5 Easy Ways to Take Your Email List to the Next Level” today!


Dos & Don’ts of Using Video in E-Mail Marketing

Trend Continues With Brands Emotionally Connecting With Consumers

There was a time in the not so distant past when funny ruled advertising.  Now the trend is to elicit a physically, emotional response from ads/campaigns, connecting with the heart over the head.

Procter & Gamble recently launched ‘like a girl’ video that is making its way around the internet with just under 18M views in 6 days.  The video asks, “when did doing something ‘like a girl’ become an insult?”  The goal of the campaign is to change what ‘like a girl’ means as well as build brand loyalty.  P&G found that more than half of girls said they experienced a drop in confidence at puberty and an overwhelming 89% agreed that words can be incredibly harmful for self-confidence.  Only 19% had a positive association with the phrase, ‘like a girl’ while 57% think there should be a movement to change the negative perception of the phrase.  In the video, they ask older girls and women to depict what ‘like a girl’ looks like showing a stereotype and a negative association with WEAK.  Then they asked girls age 5-10 the same thing and they gave the actions their all, running, fighting, throwing and kicking with the best of them.  Somewhere between 10-15, girls start to see, ‘like a girl’ as an insult.  Always is focused on turning the phrase ‘like a girl’ from being an insult to being a compliment and a boost to self-confidence.  They are hoping to start a movement, #LikeAGirlMovement, which aims to support girls and help keep their confidence throughout adolescence and beyond, starting with showing that doing something #LikeAGirl is awesome.  To that end, Always is partnering with UNESCO on a variety of literacy programs for girls and young women, supporting a puberty education program and providing safe spaces for girls to ask all the questions they have about growing up and getting answers.

Unilever did a great job of eliciting an emotional connection with consumers with their Dove ‘real beauty’ campaign that generated over 114M views making it the most viral video of all time.  The ad got women to think about their own beauty (what their definition of beauty is), their self-esteem and the impact that all has on others.  The other success factor here is that Unilever created good, compelling content that viewers wanted to share.  This ad was shared 3.74M times and was the 3rd most shared video of all time in addition to being the top record holder of share-to-view ratio (one share for every 30 views).

P&G’s Patene brand recently showed how often women apologize needlessly and advised them to stop.  Their “be strong and shine” campaign video has been viewed more than 46M times.  Pantene has also launched the Shine Strong Fund which seeks to educate and enable women to overcome bias and societal expectations as well as celebrate strong women.  The fund is collaborating with the American Association of University Women, underwriting monetary grants and helping college women have access to influential leaders.

And this trend is not just relating to women’s products, the Subaru brand has had great success by focusing on the mindset and emotions of its key buyers.  The ‘love it’ advertising campaign doubled Subaru’s market share over the past three years.  The brand paired this with their MySubaru website and Drive Magazine for owners.  Instead of advertising a laundry list of features and price promotions, Subaru tapped into the mind-set of the customer who buys the brand because of an active, outdoors lifestyle.

While purchasing seems like a rational decision, people don’t buy for logical reasons, they buy for emotional reasons.  A follow-up to this is that people buy for emotional reasons but use rational logic to justify it.  Emotional branding is a vital part of positioning a brand.  The product isn’t important, the customer and their feelings and emotions are.  The emotional aspects of selling are critical to creating a long-term customer and converting that customer into an advocate and evangelist for your brand.  Buying decisions are the result of emotional and rational factors, so your marketing and sales outreach needs to account for both of these very human characteristics.

Here are 5 key take aways to create a strong emotional connection with your brand:

  1. INSPIRE WITH CONTENT & STORYTELLING:  Provide quality original content that inspires, empowers and entertains.  Storytelling makes customers part of the story and helps convert their understanding of your value proposition.
  2. BE A PLATFORM:  Make your site the hub of your digital marketing universe.  Engage and surround your customers with a variety of media types through social and mobile channels.  You need to be everywhere your customers are consuming information.
  3. BECOME A LIFESTYLE BRAND:  Understand who your customers are, what drives them, and what your product/service means to them in their lives.  Determine what business you are truly in today.  For example, Apple is a life style and Samsung is a device.
  4. BE AUTHENTIC:  :  Consumers want authenticity.  Your brand must be true, transparent and trustworthy in order for consumers to want to associate with it.  Develop a unique voice and tone.  Be real and true to the brand.  Have an online persona.  Bring real insights with your content.  Insight comes when its told in such a captivating way that makes consumers stop and say, “this brand gets me.”
  5. LEVERAGE USER GENERATED CONTENT:  Reach out to your customers and ask them to submit videos, blogs, comments and online reviews.  Consumers are more likely to trust products that are recommended by their friends.  And when consumers contribute something to your brand it makes them feel connected.  More importantly, it turns customers into brand advocates who will spread the word through their social connections.

The future belongs to marketers who can marry an emotional connection with great products and services.





How To Attract & Market To Millennials

Marketing to Millennials might seem difficult and more challenging than it actually is, but it’s just a matter of understanding the market dynamics in which you play. Who are Millennials? What do Millennials want? Once you can figure this out, then give them what they want better than anyone else. Here are some insights into who Millennials are and how to attract and market to them, aligning your strategies to what they want.

casual woman working from home Millennial’s are now young adults who represent the largest demographic group in the nation (86M strong). This generation ranges from the early 1980’s to the early 2000’s (age 14-34). According to comScore data, the Millennials’ purchasing power is estimated at $170 billion. By 2015, the annual spending power of this generation is expected to be $2.45 trillion (Source: oracle_gen y survey) and by 2017 they are expected to outspend the Baby Boomer generation, a major consumer opportunity for marketers.

Millennials are true “digital natives” who are extremely comfortable with technology and social media having grown up completely online. They consider themselves fast adopters, being the first to try new technology which is an integral part of their life and work. They tend to own multiple devices such as smartphones, tablets and gaming devices. With access to these devices comes constant contact to the internet in which knowledge can be obtained anytime, anywhere presenting marketers with the most informed consumer generation ever. They need access to information 24/7, anywhere they go. Millennials value the ease, speed and convenience of acquiring products vs the touch and feel of it. They care more about instant gratification and getting in and out of stores than receiving exclusive “friendly” service. And because there are more options to choose from, Millennials tend to put off life choices (i.e. taking longer to get married with so many online dating choices, taking longer to have kids with technology allowing women to get pregnant well into their 40’s, etc.).

Millennials obsess about the size of their social following because they have the opportunity to have and maintain more relationships than ever. They are more likely to explore brands on social networks and interact with them. They use the internet as a platform to broadcast their thoughts and experiences and to contribute user-generated content. This generation is a far more engaged generation especially in activities such as rating products and services (60% versus 46% of non-Millennials) and uploading videos, images and blog entries to the Web (60% vs 29%) (source: BCG). 46% of Millennials count on social media when buying products online (source: YouGov). This generation is unbelievably good at multi-tasking, constantly moving across platforms (mobile, social PC and gaming) or studying while listening to the radio or watching TV. They are seen as the most optimistic of any generation alive today with 49% saying, “the country’s best years are ahead” (Source: PewResearchCenter). However Millennials are skeptics, distrustful of people in general and distrustful of traditional advertising being more likely to listen to the opinions of their peers. 32% of Millennials say they don’t like advertising in general (source: Experian Simmon) while 91% of Millennials would consider purchasing a product if a friend recommended it (source: socialchorusstudy).

Millennials not only want to know what your product will do for them but what it will do for people across the globe. They believe in supporting endeavors that are good for the environment and are receptive to cause marketing being more likely to choose products whose purchase supports a cause. So how can you market to a generation that is everywhere, skeptical, with no traditional usage of media? This generation is much different than previous generations. The way they watch TV, use the internet, develop relationships…is all very different. They might be doing a combination of these activities, so marketing to them is being overshadowed by their multi-tasking abilities. Or they are not doing any of them so reaching them as a marketer seems to be near impossible. Here is what you need to keep in mind when targeting Millennials, to earn their trust and in turn their business.

Build A Relationship: Build a relationship first and worry about the monetization later. Long term relationships with Millennials encourage lifelong customers, not one-time customers. It’s important to market alongside Millennials instead of to them.

Create Conversational Marketing: Millennials appreciate conversational marketing. So create a two way dialogue with them. Give them an opportunity to speak to you (rate your products, give reviews, share comments, experiences/stories) and take every opportunity to share with your audience creating an atmosphere of belonging to a community which Millennials love. It’s also important to identify brand advocates early on and support them; praise them for their involvement. Consumers enjoy being recognized for the time they put into creating and submitting content. Marketers can drive more authentic influence by employing a model to recognize these advocates for their assistance. However, it’s crucial to have the right brand advocates as the wrong ones can be ineffective and detrimental to your brand.

Be Authentic: Consumers want authenticity, especially Millennials. 75% of Millennials see themselves as authentic and are not willing to compromise their family and personal values. Your brand must be true, transparent and trustworthy in order for Millennials to want to associate with it. Jimmy Fallon took over The Tonight Show this past February and it has since become one of the most watched late night shows in history with 11.3M viewers, the biggest Tonight Show audience in five years with almost 3 times the season’s average of 3.9M. One of the keys to Fallon’s success is that the show delivers a sense of authenticity with Fallon being himself as he entertains us. Jimmy Fallon Entertaing Us

Stop Talking and Start Listening To The Conversation: If your goal is to create a good relationship with Millennials, then start listening to the conversations that they are having about their products, company and/or services. Traditional marketing is about talking at consumers. In today’s world, marketer’s need to sit back and take the time to listen to Millennials. This generation is eager to share and eager to tell us what’s important to them. It’s up to us to figure out how to fit into their lives, giving them what they need rather than selling to them. If you can address their needs and desires than Millennials will do the heavy lifting for you, becoming your brand advocate. Sign up for Google Alerts, visit Technorati and see what Millennials are blogging about.

Show How Your Product Will Impact Their Lives: Millennials want to know what your product will do for them before they spend a dime. Marketing efforts can no longer provide just a product overview but has to show how your product will impact their lives. Are they necessary to everyday tasks? Will they help bring out something new in ourselves? Do they empower us to do something better? Do they make a positive impact in our community/world? If you saw Microsoft’s Child of the 90’s video for the Internet Explorer and you were a Millennial, you probably felt the tinge of nostalgia and shared it with your friends but went right back to using Google Chrome because you didn’t learn anything about Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 9 new features. However the recent collaboration between Target and FEED Project is a great example of the programs’ impact on the community and portraying the brand through the lens of giving back by donating meals for product sales, a winning strategy to reach Millennials. FEED USA + Target Collection and FEED USA + Target Road Trip Overview.

Leverage What Is Topical/Trending: Leverage news or trending events within your social communities but only if the topics align with your brand essence and overall social voice. Ensure you tailor the content so that it stays true to your audience and generates strong engagement. Oreo did this beautifully with their Oreo’s Daily Twist Campaign. Every day for 100 days they took a pop culture event e.g. Pride and re-imagined it through an Oreo biscuit. Starting with Gay Pride and finishing with user generated choice, the campaign was a fantastic success (1M Facebook likes, 231M earned media impressions and 4% increase in sales). Oreo's Twist Campaign

Create “Snackable” Media Content That Has Virability: It’s important to understand your audience, know how to keep their attention, know what they will feel compelled to share and talk about with their friends. One thing that Millennials love is telling the world when something cool, great and/or exciting is happening to them or someone else. With the average adult attention span of just 2.8 seconds, “snackable” media content helps grab their attention, quickly engaging them whether there on the go or on a smaller screen, hopefully leaving them hungry for more content in the future. Creating “snackable” content that Millennials can relate to, that involves them directly and is worth their effort to engage in (e.g. viral videos, tweets, great stories, Facebook likes or something that seems exclusive) will give them a reason to tell everyone else about it. That said, if your content doesn’t contribute any new information, then it will die on the social wall as quickly as you have sent it out. Always be asking, why should they care? Will they be inspired to share?

Incorporate User Generated Content: Millennials are more likely to trust who their friends trust and products that their friends recommend. Word of mouth is key to their trust in a brand. When consumers can contribute something to your brand, it makes them feel more connected to your brand and your company. Marketers have an opportunity to leverage and influence user-generated content and empower consumers to tell their brand story. User generated content can include conversations around your brand and/or product, reviews, blogs, social media conversations, bulletin board and forums. To generate user generated content, ask your consumers to 1.) teach you something (Millennials love DIY and how to projects, ask them to submit their own projects and product uses). 2.) tell their story (people love real-world, personal experiences. Nutella asked fans to share their stories about the company’s product for their 50th anniversary. Dove asked women to submit photos of real women’s bodies. ADT asked users to tell how ADT has helped them). 3.) personalize the brand (offer them the spotlight by encouraging them to share content and then use that content in marketing materials. U-Haul uses customer contributed photos in their new truck designs).

Focus On Consistent Messaging: Regardless of the type of messaging, it is crucial to keep it consistent. You will not build trust among your audience or build lifetime customer value if you say one thing and do another or change your message frequently.

Engage Online: When it comes to social media, Millennials are engaged in YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn among other platforms. They visit pages based on recommendations, searches or by linking in through a website. They prefer purchasing products online vs going into a store for ease, convenience, speed and efficiency. Their online purchasing expectations are set pretty high these days with extensive services like Amazon Prime. You know what makes Millennials instantly turned off to a company? When they show up at a site and it is barren, outdated and not easy to navigate. To keep Millennials short attention span, you need to make the online purchasing process as easy as possible. Millennials are lazy about inputting most information so utilizing services like PayPal will definitely help grab their dollars. Be sure to keep your social media invigorated with scheduled updates and understand that it’s a balance; too much effort into one platform can lead you to forget about the others. Focus on the platforms that yield the best results. Tailoring your marketing efforts with these thoughts in mind will help you market to an increasingly lucrative generation.

Email Still Rocks! Social, Surprisingly, Stinks!

Social Channel is for reaching out to people/brands, getting updates and being entertained.  It is not to pimp your brand and expect short term rewards in revenue and profitability.  While E-Mail works if brands respect permission marketing:  executing fabulous frequency, recency and relevance strategies, plus it’s measurable.


E-Mail Still Rocks! Social, Surprisingly, Stinks!:  by Avinash Kaushik

E-Mail Still Rocks Visual 2

At conversions. Email rocks at conversions.

And despite all the hype associated with Facebook and Twitter, and massive amount of funds that most companies have allocated to social in their quest for magical money, sadly the impact on economic outcomes remains disappointing.

In fact email conversion rates are nearly 40 times (!) that of Facebook and Twitter.

While Google+ was not covered in the study, it is likely that it delivers similar outcomes.

E-Mail Still Rocks Visual 1









Lesson number one… Social is a terrible channel to pimp yourself and expect short term rewards in revenue or profitability terms. It is completely irrelevant, COMPLETELY, what your friendly neighborhood Social Media Guru says.

If your boss/spouse/angel believes the Guru, send them this post. It is on LinkedIn. It should carry a lot of authority. 🙂

Lesson number two… Email only works for people who understand the pure essence of permission marketing. It only works for people who execute a fabulous frequency (how often), recency (gap between two touch-points) and relevance (giving a lot of value in exchange for the occasional ask) strategy.

Oh, and it is incredibly measureable. Here’s my post with recommendations across your acquisition, behavior and outcome efforts: Email Marketing: Campaign Analysis, Metrics, Best Practices

As your chase shiny objects, don’t forget the original platform that empowered you to build sustainable relationships and owned audiences. #emailrocks

Lesson number three… Social was never meant to be a conversion driving channel. It was always silly to believe that pimping your company’s products and services on Facebook would lead to short-term revenue – but the social ecommerce hype was/is too strong.

The See-Think-Do content, marketing and measurement model dictates that social media platforms are fantastic at See and good at Think. But they massively stink at Do.

The reason is simple: Intent.

You don’t go to social platforms to buy, and only extremely rarely to research. You are there to reach out to people you have real (or fake!) relationships with, you are there to get updates on your digital or real world existences, and you are there to be entertained.

Brands can win on social platforms if they understand why you are there. If they provide you with entertainment, if they provide you with information you can share with your circles, and if they behave in an authentic manner they can earn a tiny smidgen of your love and attention (brand equity). Case in point: Innocent Drinks.

All that can translate into revenue over a long period of time. When you the customer are ready, not when the company is ready (Now! Now! Give me your money now!!!!).

The two questions the company should ask itself:

  1. Are we inherently social?
  2. Do we have the patience to invest in relationships now to build our brand equity on social platforms?

If the answer to both questions is yes, do social. If the answer to one or both questions is no, stay home. Your company is not going to go bankrupt because it does not do social.

Good luck.

– – PS: If you want to incentivize the optimal behavior on social media by your company, here are the best social media metrics: Conversation, Amplification, Applause, Economic Value



A Marketing Twist To Connecting With Consumers

I’m a big fan of cookies, particularly homemade cookies, but this year I’ve become a loyal fan of Oreo’s cookies.  I’ve been hooked in by Oreo’s 100th Anniversary campaign with their new twist, a daily twist launching daily ads based on their “twist, lick and dunk” ritual.

Oreo is known as the best selling cookie of the 20th century (a testament to the brand’s longevity), selling more than 12 Billion Oreo cookies each year in more than 100 countries.  Kraft Foods has doubled their Oreo revenue in 4 years (from $1 Billion in 07′ to $2 Billion in 11′) in a time when health food is on the rise.  This sales growth is indicative of recent consumer trends with a focus on iconic, classic brands and affordable indulgences as we see our pocket books shrinking.

The 100th Anniversary celebrates Oreo’s first sale dating back to March 6, 1912.  The campaign slogan is ”Celebrate the Kid Inside” drawing on the fun of eating Oreo’s within those carefree moments of time targeting  kids to nostalgic adults who have a special relationship with the cookie since childhood.

The brand shared a steady stream of some of the most creative, fun and engaging content with consumers that I’ve seen in awhile.  This included the first fully integrated worldwide campaign, an interactive website (Oreo Birthday, with 4.6M consumers sharing their Oreo moment), large emphasis on social media, sharing & personalization with tie-ins on Facebook (30.4M Likes) & Twitter, online, TV, print (leveraging pop culture events from the last 10 decades), mobile marketing (effective because they tied in multiple digital experiences – video, web & social media plus they targeted a specific consumer that is willing to pay for mobile content, Hulu Plus iphone app), PR, music concerts by hot country music bands, consumer tie-ins that invited their own customers to be a part of the celebration through contests, live events (NASCAR, ”flash mob’s”), and even a limited edition “Birthday Cake” Oreo Cookie.

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And on top of all this, as the campaign came to a close, the last 100th ad was to be crowdsourced coming from a virtual advertising office in Time Square.  Crowds could submit and vote on concepts IN REAL TIME.  Fans watched the final ad being developed which was a hand imprint noting the anniversary of the first high-five.

When I look back at the entire Oreo campaign, what sticks out is the focus on fun, sharing and nostalgia.  What Oreo decided not to do was the hard sell, focusing on product features and getting consumers to buy Oreos (with coupons, BOGO’s and the like) which is typical of product marketing.  Connecting with consumers on a personal level proved to be an effective approach for the Oreo brand team.  Today’s consumers want to have a participatory experience with brands, where they help shape the story in real time.  Oreo did an outstanding job of mastering this by giving consumers power and control across many different platforms throughout the globe in a very relevant, personal way.  Thanks Oreo, and marketers, take note