2017: It’s Not All Doom and Gloom

It's Not All Doom and Gloom
This year was plagued with doom and gloom and many horrific events, most of which were viewed through social media.

However, it’s important to remember how social media has helped people this year! Here’s a few stories about social media from 2017, that will brighten your day…and your year!

Child Regains Christmas Presents

In Australia, a child’s presents were stolen right before Christmas – one was a gaming keyboard by Razer. After hearing about the robbery through an online article, the CEO of Razer – Tan Min-Liang – reached out on social media, asking if anyone could get him in contact with the family. After the search was successful, Min-Liang provided the child with a new keyboard, plus other computer and gaming accessories, so the family’s Christmas wasn’t ruined after all!

Going Viral

Out of all the videos this year – there’s been some great ones – some inspirational and others downright hilarious. We’ve seen soldiers return to their families for Christmas, deaf babies hearing their mothers for the first time and cats behaving…oddly. Social media has provided many of us the chance to outlet our stress and see the positive things that are happening in the world, that are often forgotten or lost to the terrible events we read on the news. One heart-warming video comes from a man who proposes to his ex-wife three years after they had divorced. His son videoed the whole thing as his dad re-proposed to his mum with a poem he had written. Such a touching, personal moment resonated with many as the video represented real love and received over ten million views! Social media often helps us remember that we aren’t truly alone in our struggles.

This is also evident in the case of a young girl who helped her school gain blankets through her Christmas list that went viral after breaking the hearts of everyone that read it.

It’s created careers!

Cardi B, now a famous rap artist, rose to fame through her Instagram account. Her increasing social media following meant she was eventually noticed. She was a regular person that expressed her views and voice on social media, which resulted in a successful, musical career. The power of social media should never be underestimated!

Social Media Has Started Thinking About Everyone

As Facebook and Twitter looked more at the well-being of their users this year, Facebook also started making changes on its site for blind users. It’s turned its attention to its facial recognition feature and is currently updating it to identify people in photos for people with screen readers that have low vision. The aim is to make a blind user’s news feed easier for them. By using the recognition feature and artificial intelligence, a person can hover over a photo and hear the caption, a visual detail of the picture and who is in the image. This is a great step towards the future and shows how sites like Facebook are giving back to its users. It’s also made fantastic improvement to its harassment and privacy policies.

Facebook also bought an app called TBH that asks positive questions like ‘Who makes you laugh the most?’ A user can simply select one of their Facebook friends, but the person remains anonymous. It’s an uplifting app that undermines all others like it because of its positive aspects.

It’s important to see the positive side of social media – the side helping people to find their missing relatives, making modern life more accessible to those who struggle to see or hear and for those that deserve recognition in their lives! Also, social media has provided us with videos of normal people that have kept us laughing and entertained throughout the year! It’s an ever-growing force to be reckoned with…especially in times of doom and gloom.

The post 2017: It’s Not All Doom and Gloom appeared first on Giraffe Social Media.

Top XLIVE Speakers Break Down Elements of Extraordinary Experiences

Digging into what makes a moment memorable and an experience extraordinary, with some of XLIVE 2017’s top Speakers.
<h3>The annual <a href=”http://xlivecon.com/” target=”_blank”>XLIVE</a> Conference & Expo, which just wrapped last week at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay, is a celebration of big ideas that make live events extraordinary. </h3><figure data-type=”image”><a href=”/webhook-uploads/1514094555237/_DSC0084.jpg”><img data-resize-src=”http://madrogator.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/O6JNXKy5NAqV6I0BkD_jV4jH8GcnjIOV4TvUanLvE7YtYq9jtNd8qJluXk9OZA4dlyqLedIe-IkAIMcjRzAx7ky1sKM” src=”http://madrogator.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/O6JNXKy5NAqV6I0BkD_jV4jH8GcnjIOV4TvUanLvE7YtYq9jtNd8qJluXk9OZA4dlyqLedIe-IkAIMcjRzAx7ky1sKM=s1200″></a></figure>
<p>The XLIVE community ecosystem boasts an impressive cross section of music festivals, e-sports, event technology, culinary, and brand activations, and each year brings together the biggest names across these various event industries to share ideas that will revolutionize experiences and experience learning.
<p>In the heart of the buzzing XLIVE Expo floor stood a beautiful <a href=”http://www.airclad.com/” target=”_blank”>AirClad</a> structure which housed more than just comfy white couches. This quiet retreat in the center of the chaos would be where speakers took refuge before and after dropping the mic at panels or keynotes.
</p><figure data-type=”image”><a href=”/webhook-uploads/1514093637511/_DSC0118.jpg”><img data-resize-src=”http://madrogator.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/5sEobphck045Xxfi86xqv_yr8shUgCd1C7u1txpm2yPE7R7VWp9fC-FPIGVfk69SUp9CZe7TMQtGIa73o-jcdIgzv7c” src=”http://madrogator.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/5sEobphck045Xxfi86xqv_yr8shUgCd1C7u1txpm2yPE7R7VWp9fC-FPIGVfk69SUp9CZe7TMQtGIa73o-jcdIgzv7c=s1200″></a></figure>
<p>As the XLIVE 2017 speaker lounge sponsor, Cramer had exclusive access to XLIVE’s top speakers, and we decided to capitalize on that by sending part of our content and activations team, <a href=”https://exploreinspired.com” target=”_blank”>Jonathan Ronzio</a> and <a href=”https://www.linkedin.com/in/timothy-owens-14293910″ target=”_blank”>Tim Owens</a>, to dig into a candid interview series with some unsuspecting industry leaders.
</p><figure data-type=”image”><a href=”/webhook-uploads/1514093690059/_DSC0148.jpg”><img data-resize-src=”http://madrogator.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/m9w9R0UqAPasL04yDFpuMmikb8vn2-VF2bz8TnRxCHk3yEweQ-hDw-XzBiosAXVrpWw3bqeYBCXAs6B5BJpcJFHT3SCg” src=”http://madrogator.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/m9w9R0UqAPasL04yDFpuMmikb8vn2-VF2bz8TnRxCHk3yEweQ-hDw-XzBiosAXVrpWw3bqeYBCXAs6B5BJpcJFHT3SCg=s1200″></a></figure>
<p>Okay, so Pete Rose wasn’t an XLIVE Speaker, but hey, it’s Vegas baby! You never know who you’ll run into.
<p>All of those interview videos with the official XLIVE Speakers can now be enjoyed on <a href=”https://www.facebook.com/pg/WeAreCramer/videos/” target=”_blank”>our Facebook page</a>, but to summarize, the “Elements of Extraordinary” series focused on discovering what exactly makes a moment memorable. We aimed to break down the pieces of impactful experiences to understand why, at their core where concept met consumer, they worked.
<p>And what we found were five big ideas resonating across industries, across backgrounds, across speakers—<strong>t</strong><strong>he five elements of an extraordinary experience</strong>.
<h3>1. Hyper-Personalization</h3>
<p>There were several vendors at XLIVE, presenting as well as in the exhibit area, providing services around personalization and customization. From onsite data collection and tracking services to onsite t-shirt or hat design and printing services. This is proving to be more and more important for a host of reasons.
</p><figure data-type=”image”><a href=”/webhook-uploads/1514094260502/_DSC0123.jpg”><img data-resize-src=”http://madrogator.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/5YyLkUPkK-QW7CKgE7dJFnz04CmL0J8Ka4AvW_l7R8MsMQrPMoAvOuv0QpiF36b7SRw6vc1w5VNuGDn_NVOSXc_AjL_-jg” src=”http://madrogator.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/5YyLkUPkK-QW7CKgE7dJFnz04CmL0J8Ka4AvW_l7R8MsMQrPMoAvOuv0QpiF36b7SRw6vc1w5VNuGDn_NVOSXc_AjL_-jg=s1200″></a></figure>
<p>From an attendee perspective, it allows the event to personalize their experience based on pre-event data collection, and continue to customize their journey as they explore their onsite experience.
<p>From a brand perspective, you are able to better customize the attendee journey as well as use the data collected onsite for future event planning and experience customization.
<p>From an event perspective, it allows them to have data on their attendee in order to better service and set up their sponsors for success in future years.
<p>Two of the speakers we had a chance to chat with were Valerie Cox, Director Data Insights at <a href=”http://www2.experient-inc.com/” target=”_blank”>Experient</a>, and Jennifer Justice, President of Corporate Development at <a href=”https://superf.ly/” target=”_blank”>Superfly</a>. Here is what they had to say on the importance of personalization.
<p><em>”You want insight, to know what they’re interested in, and excite, to keep them engaged the whole time. That’s really the ideal experience for any attendee. It’s, show me why it’s worth being here, and show me that you know me and what’s going to make me happy. Using a insights data provider like Experient really looks at that onsite experience, and really looks into what was the most important event element to one participant versus another.” – Valerie Cox</em><br>
</p><figure data-type=”image”><a href=”/webhook-uploads/1514101037216/Screen%20Shot%202017-12-24%20at%201.36.53%20AM.png”><img data-resize-src=”http://madrogator.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/1oh5cOB69ggEgo7CorpfhzsboAuyJFRRSA54wW76LQJ2GMiGh4uiMHoIF9VgMbyVhv90IXh_kgh9XoyFswxBgWMmK-6fgQ” src=”http://madrogator.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/1oh5cOB69ggEgo7CorpfhzsboAuyJFRRSA54wW76LQJ2GMiGh4uiMHoIF9VgMbyVhv90IXh_kgh9XoyFswxBgWMmK-6fgQ=s1200″></a><figcaption>Valerie Cox, Experient</figcaption></figure>
<p><em>”Personalization has to start with the research, the narrative, and the storytelling. It has to have a purpose. It can’t just be I want to make a bunch of money and I’ll put up some stages, and here’s a bunch of banners, and I’ll find some sponsors. You have to have a purpose, and that story will inform everything about the experience. From content to activations to the bands you book, and how it all connects.”- Jennifer Justice</em><br>
</p><figure data-type=”image”><a href=”/webhook-uploads/1514101143682/Screen%20Shot%202017-12-24%20at%201.38.37%20AM.png”><img data-resize-src=”http://madrogator.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/D9ocD4A-cc9A8yZU1KR4bXw6-COOZA-y3RLRgB7e8J33pXdq21uRHRVFX_qkiVzpTdG8CYuZ9wdMSdr-KPDzjZ17OEY” src=”http://madrogator.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/D9ocD4A-cc9A8yZU1KR4bXw6-COOZA-y3RLRgB7e8J33pXdq21uRHRVFX_qkiVzpTdG8CYuZ9wdMSdr-KPDzjZ17OEY=s1200″></a><figcaption>Jennifer Justice, Superfly</figcaption></figure>
<h3>2. Relentless Discovery<br></h3>
<p>Giving the attendee the choice to explore is hugely important. Millennials especially expect their journey to be genuine. They can sniff a marketing and sales play from a mile away.
<p>Building honest and natural brand experiences into an event are essential.
</p><figure data-type=”quote”>
<blockquote>When it comes to self-discovery, I am always reminded of a line from Charlie and The Chocolate Factory… <i>“Little surprises around evert corner, but nothing dangerous.</i><cite>Tim Owens, Cramer</cite>
</blockquote></figure><figure data-type=”video”>

<p>Vince Kadlubek is co-founder and CEO of an award-winning Santa Fe, New Mexico-based arts collective called <a href=”https://meowwolf.com/” target=”_blank”>Meow Wolf</a> and is an experiences curator of “chose your own adventure” immersions.
<p><i>”Letting audiences have control over their experience is critical. It’s about reconnecting people with the scientist inside of them. The person who’s curious, and wants to discover, and wants to learn, and wants to explore. And that feeling is mind-blowing. Businesses are designed to put you on a track, and control you. There’s not much exploration happening. But for the exhibits we create, it’s completely do what you want. We want to open up the art world to everyday families, to let people touch the art and not be so precious about it. That’s what’s refreshing.” – Vince Kadlubek</i><br>
</p><figure data-type=”image”><a href=”/webhook-uploads/1514100868806/Screen%20Shot%202017-12-24%20at%201.33.58%20AM.png”><img data-resize-src=”http://madrogator.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/iyHc-F82mOW4PKWpE5VtasFl2b9kiVm-HxfJkD7Si-bnjPphIvdNGlEFew6nsYZpKOZ4cYzCb1y_VJeX2sWMcctaoSngIg” src=”http://madrogator.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/iyHc-F82mOW4PKWpE5VtasFl2b9kiVm-HxfJkD7Si-bnjPphIvdNGlEFew6nsYZpKOZ4cYzCb1y_VJeX2sWMcctaoSngIg=s1200″></a><figcaption>Vince Kadlubek, Meow Wolf</figcaption></figure>
<p><a href=”https://www.vive.com/us/” target=”_blank”>HTC VIVE</a>’s Executive Director, Vinay Narayan also chimed in on the matter of immersive storytelling and leaving room for curiosity.<br>
<p><i>”So much of what we do is about providing a foundation for ideas. The amazing thing about AR and VR and all these immersive platforms, is that the technology is a tool. There’s so much the industry already knows about what makes a good educational experience, a good event, what makes a good concert, all those things. And it’s really about us platform developers to create the foundation for you to take your experience, and then use this tool to make it even better.” – Vinay Narayan</i><br>
</p><figure data-type=”image”><a href=”/webhook-uploads/1514101303317/Screen%20Shot%202017-12-24%20at%201.41.20%20AM.png”><img data-resize-src=”http://madrogator.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/T8MAtPgtnjxA115q1GMBcKNDwKsEbDWbW4NeFym2MtpJhS51yuYCoQji28XTMNXf_EDhmIvxwINyKD6pdk0kpP2-FeOLGw” src=”http://madrogator.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/T8MAtPgtnjxA115q1GMBcKNDwKsEbDWbW4NeFym2MtpJhS51yuYCoQji28XTMNXf_EDhmIvxwINyKD6pdk0kpP2-FeOLGw=s1200″></a><figcaption>Vinay Narayan, HTC VIVE</figcaption></figure>
<h3>3. Community, Connection, Cause<br></h3>
<p>Just about every event has an organic community of like-minded individuals, that have chosen to come to that conference/concert/festival.
<p> They all like hip hop, or food and wine, or consumer technologies, before they get there. Rarely is there a case that someone just has time on a Saturday and goes because they have nothing to do. It is planned, and they are excited. Getting all these attendees from like communities together fosters powerful connection opportunities.
<p>Experient’s Valerie Cox had a cool story about how strong a connection to a community can be as she recounted her final Tom Petty concert.
<p><i>”I had an opportunity to see Tom Petty play before he passed away this year, and I paid for an additional experience, to get in early. It sounds funny, but I stood in a line, it was hot, New York City in June, and I’m sitting on the sidewalk just waiting to be let in. Now you would think initially, that’s not a great experience, but I realized the people I was with also cared enough about him and his music to have this experience as well. We all had a bonding experience. Some people had met Tom Petty back in the 80’s and had stories to tell, or we would compare how many shows we saw, but just having that opportunity to be there with others who wanted to have an experience in the same way I did, was pretty magical. Community, and that connection, is everything.”</i>
<p>More and more events are understanding that one of the most powerful ways to connect a community goes beyond bringing individuals together under a shared music taste, industry, or hobby banner, but is really about connecting to a cause.
<p>Aligning your experience and your community to a non-profit, with a purpose-driven cause element, pulls the heart strings and forges connections around shared purpose like nothing else.
<p>Jan Gourley, the Co-Founder and Director of <a href=”http://www.savannahfoodandwinefest.com/” target=”_blank”>Savanah Food & Wine Festival</a> among other popular culinary celebrations, had this to say about cultivating a community around a cause.
<p><i>”Non-profits are not only important as far as community involvement, but they’re also a way to give back to the community with an event. You can really work to raise the profile for a certain location or partner with a charity. For instance, with Savannah Food & Wine Fest, we’ve given back over $200,000 to local nonprofits since the beginning of the festival, and we have a nonprofit called CHEF, the Coastal Hospitality Education Fund, and we create scholarships for folks aspiring to work in hospitality. Finding a way to give back within your industry event will be a rallying point for your community.” – Jan Gourley</i><br>
</p><figure data-type=”image”><a href=”/webhook-uploads/1514101402084/Screen%20Shot%202017-12-24%20at%201.42.58%20AM.png”><img data-resize-src=”http://madrogator.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/hB9In0nv2WSOWHdFJjwqRSZY6yGdMILR47N7BYsDmz0WH0HJlh-raOlNN3bTkaGnVjLaDQ_SCflu9Vdfow2VZqTl5tgldg” src=”http://madrogator.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/hB9In0nv2WSOWHdFJjwqRSZY6yGdMILR47N7BYsDmz0WH0HJlh-raOlNN3bTkaGnVjLaDQ_SCflu9Vdfow2VZqTl5tgldg=s1200″></a><figcaption>Jan Gourley, Savannah Food & Wine Festival</figcaption></figure>
<h3>4. Frictionless Attendee Journeys<br></h3>
<p>Ever-evolving event technology allows now more than ever for attendees to seamlessly make their way around a festival without feeling any pain points. For instance, in event-app scheduling means no waiting in long lines or missing out on opportunities because of not knowing where to be an when.
<p> Not only can RFID/NFC technology help with ticketless entry, or cashless pay at concessions, but it can also use notifications throughout the event to reach out and let attendees know that there are no lines at a sponsored VR experience even the bar. We can also use data collected from previous event years to know where traffic patterns exist and better move attendees around the event, creating a smoother consumer journey.
<p><a href=”https://www.shopify.com/” target=”_blank”>Shopify’s</a> Senior Experiential Producer, Rose Welch, dug into why a frictionless attendee journey is crucial to an extraordinary event experience.
<p><i>”I think at a baseline what makes an experience incredible, it’s that seamlessness and friction. When you come to an event from an attendee perspective, if you’re never thinking ‘wow there was trash out,’ or ‘the bathrooms were really clean,’ when you walk away from an event as an attendee and there was never any injunction in those elements, I think that seamlessness created from the experience is baseline. Everything else, you can build on top of that.” – Rose Welch</i><br>
</p><figure data-type=”image”><a href=”/webhook-uploads/1514101525899/Screen%20Shot%202017-12-24%20at%201.45.06%20AM.png”><img data-resize-src=”http://madrogator.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/68NSCATzRTWGbMIqANZLTCzxq0ceQ6ydBbSTbG9QsnwrT8f1VntQ4Q0jQqqnvmDbVu11KztC2yWxpx5kw3k2x0-kP1k” src=”http://madrogator.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/68NSCATzRTWGbMIqANZLTCzxq0ceQ6ydBbSTbG9QsnwrT8f1VntQ4Q0jQqqnvmDbVu11KztC2yWxpx5kw3k2x0-kP1k=s1200″></a><figcaption>Rose Welch, Shopify</figcaption></figure>
<h3>5. Access and Exclusivity<br></h3>
<p>Sometimes access and exclusivity means you needed to <a href=”http://cramer.com/trend/issue-37/” target=”_blank”>apply to even attend the event</a>. Sometimes it means a VIP dinner with a keynote speaker, or Snoop Dogg. And sometimes, it might just mean a 30-minute nap time reservation in an AirClad.
</p><figure data-type=”image”><a href=”/webhook-uploads/1514096375183/_DSC0122.jpg”><img data-resize-src=”http://madrogator.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Alf0fNd0ZQtpLV4f-AqlimpwSPjc62GG7_uEQLNSz37tBcOwxguSLnMwfHfBnGqRb6tJxnQm9fTVynLxcoF-lovuW1s” src=”http://madrogator.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Alf0fNd0ZQtpLV4f-AqlimpwSPjc62GG7_uEQLNSz37tBcOwxguSLnMwfHfBnGqRb6tJxnQm9fTVynLxcoF-lovuW1s=s1200″></a><figcaption>Inside one of The Trade Group’s AirClad installations</figcaption></figure>
<p>People are coming to your event looking for experiences they can’t have anywhere else. They want to connect with a community they wouldn’t meet at their local bar. They want to learn fresh ideas they might otherwise only hear years later in a viral TED talk. And they want the chance to meet newsworthy figures. Celebrities either A-list in general, or A-list in their field. That access to people, content, and experiences, is what keep event attendees coming back.
<p>We had a fun chat with VP of Marketing and Business Development at <a href=”https://merryjane.com/” target=”_blank”>Merry Jane</a>, Jim Baudino, who spoke to the importance of providing access to otherwise exclusive talent and experiences and cited the success Merry Jane has had in doing this with events like The High Road Tour.
<p><i>”With the High Road Tour, we had Snoop and Wiz Khalifa on stage, performing at the same time, and that had never been done before. We’ve found success in bringing live talent to different audiences, whether that be artists and musicians or comedians like Seth Rogan, as we expand our arsenal of talent, more and more communities are engaged and enticed to be a part of something that gives them access to the celebrities or music acts and a culture they identify with.” – Jim Baudino</i><br>
</p><figure data-type=”image”><a href=”/webhook-uploads/1514101592729/Screen%20Shot%202017-12-24%20at%201.46.10%20AM.png”><img data-resize-src=”http://madrogator.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/7rcOVeCU7LlpnO2wzIAbRxndif_24qzzxTWRuqHbhWGskqDpYkXHvzGr0C-HzB_LrNddL14SmnsAfcD_mLajLV1OgMJGUw” src=”http://madrogator.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/7rcOVeCU7LlpnO2wzIAbRxndif_24qzzxTWRuqHbhWGskqDpYkXHvzGr0C-HzB_LrNddL14SmnsAfcD_mLajLV1OgMJGUw=s1200″></a><figcaption>Jim Baudino, Merry Jane</figcaption></figure>
<h3>Uncover the Elements, Live From XLIVE<br></h3>
<p>Check out some of the vendors and technologies we saw at XLIVE 2017 with Jonathan and Tim going live from the expo floor as the event wrapped up on Day 3 in Vegas!

<p><strong>Be sure not to miss the Elements of Extraordinary video interview series, now available on <a href=”https://www.facebook.com/pg/WeAreCramer/videos/” target=”_blank”>Facebook</a>!</strong>

The 10 Most Popular Leadership Stories Of 2017

From experimenting with food detoxes to battling startup sexism, these are the leadership stories you read and shared the most this year.

2017 was a year of pretty extreme highs and lows in leadership. Sexual harassment issues came overwhelmingly to the fore, leading to many perpetrators to pay the price for years of misconduct for the first time. Racial tensions also unfolded on a national scale in ugly, violent, and sometimes fatal ways. Yet amid this tumult we also witnessed many moments of extraordinary leadership. And as Fast Company’s most-read stories of 2017 show, our conflicted political and cultural moment hasn’t curtailed readers’ hunger for making improvements, both personally and professionally.

Read Full Story

Tips for a digital product sampling campaign

Product sampling campaigns can be an excellent way to improve brand exposure, create more personalised results for businesses, and deliver more qualified leads to any sales team.

The simple reason for this is that product sampling allows your customers to test out what you have to offer before they ever make a purchase – giving them the power to get accustomed to your company – free of charge.

At the same time, product sampling raises awareness for the product in question, giving businesses the opportunity to gather crucial reviews, feedback, and data on how consumers feel about an item or service.

What is digital product sampling?

Most companies are only familiar with product sampling in the way it pertains to free giveaways at events or samples offered by a shop on the high-street. However, the truth is that there’s more to sampling than you might think.

In fact, digital sampling can add a whole new dimension to the traditional product sampling marketplace – allowing companies to save time and money when they’re searching for valuable customer data. If you have a digital product, like a piece of software, an eBook, or a learning opportunity available, then you can still take part in the product sampling strategy.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

1.    Start with a solid goal

All product sampling campaigns – digital or otherwise – must begin with a solid goal. This means asking yourself what you want to achieve with your campaign. Are you hoping to learn more about your target audience, or do you simply want to raise awareness for your brand?

Remember that your goal will be intrinsically linked to your target audience, as you’ll need to know who you’re going to target if you want your campaign to be successful. Once you have a goal and an audience in mind, you can think about how you’re going to offer your product sample to your target customers.

2.    Consider distribution

The best product sampling campaigns succeed because they’re carefully and strategically structured. Placing a download on your website and hoping that the right customers will find it might not give you great results.

However, you could consider connecting with customers from the target market you’re trying to reach through email, PPC campaigns, and targeted social ads.

Today, social media advertisements can be designed to specifically show to a unique collection of people based on important demographics like age, job title, location, and more.

Combining your sampling strategy with your social media marketing techniques could be a great way to boost your chances of success.

3.    Measure your progress

Finally, one of the things that makes product sampling such a powerful solution for many businesses, is that you can measure the progress of your campaign, and make changes to your strategy based on the information you gather.

For instance, you might find out that more women then men download your sample, or that you can access more engagement from a particular country.

The more you learn from your digital campaigns, the more you can make real-time changes to enhance brand awareness in all the right places.

Hotcow is a non-traditional creative agency that specialises in experiential marketing that goes viral. Our campaigns generate buzz through crowd participation, PR and content sharing. Contact us on 0207 5030442, or email us on info@hotcow.co.uk.

The post Tips for a digital product sampling campaign appeared first on Hotcow.

Love Communications Pauses to Reflect This Holiday Season

Every year around this time, we find ourselves loading our schedules with this holiday concert, that family party, shopping for those friends and family members and trying to keep up all our traditions. The holiday season can be an overwhelming time of year with so many places to be and things to check off the list. Are we merely going through the motions and operating on autopilot? Or are we being mindful and doing these holiday activities with purpose?

This holiday season, Love Communications took a moment to pause, reflect and come up with a holiday greeting with meaning. What we discovered was a poignant message that resonates with every employee – it’s time to spread a little more Love.

Employees of the agency visited multiple locations in Salt Lake City, held up a sign reading “holiday hugs,” and hugged any and all of those we met. We loved watching the smiles of strangers rise to match those of our employees as barriers were broken and friendships formed. Now is the perfect time to step back, think of those you know and those you don’t, and spread the Love in your own way. Happy holidays, from our Love family to yours!


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The power behind clever product sampling

Whenever someone buys something, there is a process that they have to go through. It’s most commonly known as the buying journey and it’s nothing sinister – it’s just a normal path that we all follow whenever we part with our cash.

That process begins with the realization of a certain requirement or desire. After that, consumers normally do their research and judge their needs against all the objections that spring to mind. Next, we look at alternatives and then reconsider the situation.

Only after passing that final test will we actually make the purchase so, as you can see, businesses face a lot of hurdles to overcome. People can and do drop out of that buying journey at any time.

What product sampling does is help companies drastically reduce this process. It cuts out so much of the pain that it’s just not even funny. Clever sampling campaigns target a demographic that has a particular problem or wish. Then, because they’re given a sample, consumers don’t need to do their alternative research.

And whilst they might have objections, consumers are generally more receptive when they’ve been given something free. Plus, sampling campaigns give brands a chance to answer any objections there and then. Quite simply, consumers are able to race through this buying process quickly.

It doesn’t end there either. Freebies generate a feeling reciprocity, which not only could result in direct sales, but also in fostering brand loyalty. And let’s not forget about word-of-mouth recommendations that could yield long-term benefits.

Word-of-mouth marketing is the most powerful marketing strategy that there is. Research has shown that we’re far more likely to try and buy a product if someone that we know, like and trust has said is good.

If you think about it, there’s a good chance that you’ve bought or tested something on the basis of someone you know recommending it. What product sampling does is leverage the power of this kind of influence.

Ultimately, then, sampling campaigns are incredibly effective because they quicken the sales process. The human brain is strangely predictable and we all have to go through a variety of steps before we buy anything. That’s never going to change, so as marketers, we should concentrate on overcoming these hurdles.

Hotcow is a non-traditional creative agency that specialises in experiential marketing that goes viral. Our campaigns generate buzz through crowd participation, PR and content sharing. Contact us on 0207 5030442, or email us on info@hotcow.co.uk.

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Merry Christmas

Christmas is a time for good will, forgiveness and joy so this year we wanted to temporarily put professional rivalries aside and spread a little Christmas cheer in adland.

We sent the entire agency out carol singing on the streets of Soho, singing personalised Christmas carols to our competitors, friends and frenemies and handing out treats from our lovely clients.

Wishing everyone a very merry Christmas, love Quiet Storm x

Bowtie Marketing

For many years, the idea of the sales funnel (or sales pipeline) has been accepted as a core principle in formulating successful marketing strategies. But, whilst it is a valuable concept in itself, it fails to cover the full scope and nature of the most valuable interactions between a business and its customers. The approach is primarily focused at considering how new customers are acquired, without any recognition of the fact that business from existing customers is typically substantially more valuable, and invariably significantly less expensive – according to many industry experts by a multiple of seven to ten.

However, another core principle of marketing is to optimise customer lifetime value (CLV), which outlines the means by which profit is earned over the duration of a customer’s relationship with a business. A new model is suggested as a more valuable analogy that combines both these elements, and which we refer to as the ‘Bowtie Marketing’ model.

Sales funnel

The idea of the sales funnel is that the people you market to move through successive stages down through a pipeline. The AIDA model explains the process well. At the outset – represented by its widest part– there is awareness amongst potential customers that they have a want or a need, and as a result of media activity (such as pay per click (PPC) advertising, social media promotion, email marketing or search engine optimisation (SEO), for instance) have become aware of your business. The next stage in the process is an expression of interest, where the customer makes contact with you in some appropriate manner, and starts to ask questions and/or request additional information, after which comes their desire to buy, which then leads to action in the form of a purchase of your product or service. And so the bottom end of the sales funnel is reached.

The entire global population can conceivably enter your funnel. However, it is normal to create customer segments and personas that allow you to target your marketing efforts towards suspect customers who display common types of demographic and psychographic traits that you feel represent your target market accurately. It is only when suspects make contact, such as by visiting your website, that they turn from a suspect into a prospect. The further down the funnel they go, the warmer a prospect they become.

The job of marketing is first to get as many people as possible into the top of the funnel, then, in turn, to persuade as many of them as possible to move through each successive stage until they make a purchase. It, therefore, starts with a marketing strategy to secure the attention of the greatest possible number of potential customers. Within the overall population, likely groups of buyers are identified through customer segmentation, and messages refined with the help of customer personas. A suitable mix of marketing tools is then deployed: an appealing website (optimised for search engine using SEO), social media, email, PR, digital advertising, conferences and exhibitions, etc., according to your organisation’s specific needs, articulated in your business plan and sales forecasts. This marketing activity might be backed up by tactical initiatives designed to be specific to prospects moving down through the various stages of the funnel.

We often talk to our clients about customer touch points – be they digital or physical in nature – that occur during the sales process, and how crucial it is to deliver a consistent brand experience at every single point of contact. The only way to achieve such consistency is to have a clear brand proposition in place so that an organisation’s sales and marketing efforts reflect its desired vision and values. This ensures that all communications encompass the right attitude and tone of voice and that behaviour is in line with agreed principles and standards.

Customer lifetime value (CLV)

Before we talk more about the bowtie marketing, let’s take a quick look at customer lifetime value (CLV)

A customer who has made an initial purchase can be thought of as an adopter. The marketing need here is to affirm their decision to buy, and perhaps to seek information that will enable the business to refine its marketing efforts further in future. It’s the perfect opportunity to request feedback about their buying experience and to try and find out what swung their decision to buy the product from your organisation. Think about how successful internet businesses such as Amazon and eBay follow up every sale with a thank you message or a congratulatory note, followed by a request for a review of the purchase and/or feedback on the brand experience. The good news is that you can do the same, easily and cheaply, using today’s modern technologies. The primary investment is in planning and set-up. After that, it is all about ongoing maintenance and management.

If adopters are nurtured, some will become loyalists, returning to make additional purchases. These could be repeat sales of the same product or service, the cross-sale purchase of complementary products or services, or upselling them to a better solution or package to suit their needs. Their loyalty could be encouraged and rewarded through offers unavailable to the broader public, such as are offered by Tesco to their Club Card customers, for example. As a result, some of these loyalists may become advocates, which means that they are happy to give favourable mentions to the business and its products in their interactions with others – interactions which are amplified enormously these days through social media sharing. At the righthand edge of the bowtie model are your ultimate customers: ambassadors. These are super-advocates who actively promote your brand, their opinions being widely shared and respected, even to the extent of going viral. They are as valuable to your business as you or any of your colleagues, perhaps more so: independent voices who eulogise about your products and services to their friends and online followers, all of whom are more likely to trust their judgement than a clever marketing campaign. You can ask your customers to provide referrals at this point in the model, as long as it is perceived to be a win-win scenario for both the referrer and the referee. As you would expect, the number of people in each group gets successively less further to the right of the bowtie knot you go. On this side of the bow, the widening out represents an increase in the relative value of individual customers.

Bowtie marketing

The bowtie marketing model doesn’t dispense with the sales funnel, nor does it disregard customer lifetime value (CLV). Instead, the funnel is turned on its side and a second funnel to represent CLV marketing is added as a mirror image. The bottom of the sales funnel becomes the knot in the centre of the bowtie, which is the point at which a new customer first makes a purchase. Everything to the left of the knot is as it was for the funnel, but to the right is a description of the ongoing relationship between you and your customer reflecting the CLV proposition.

While the sales funnel is focused on gaining and converting as many new customers as possible on an ongoing basis, the bowtie model puts equal emphasis on developing relationships with existing customers. This is surely common sense, given how much more expensive it normally is to win new customers against making further sales to existing ones. But all around us are examples of businesses who seem entirely focused on the former. How often have you seen a company offer better deals to new customers than to existing ones? In the service sector particularly, where by definition an ongoing relationship of some sort between the provider and the customer exists, rewarding loyalty seems to have gone out of the window (think car insurance or heating supplier, for example). Consumers are urged by independent experts to leave the poor value deals they’re getting from their existing provider in favour of sign-up incentives on offer elsewhere. They may check with their existing provider, to see if the better terms available elsewhere can be matched. Surprise, surprise, they often can be, but this begs the question: “Why didn’t you offer me this deal in the first place…?!”

This type of scenario is indicative of great attention being paid to the sales funnel by many organisations whilst lip service is being paid to dealing ethically with existing customers – in fact, the aim seems to be to fleece rather than to flourish. What is obviously needed is a more holistic approach, as is suggested by the bowtie marketing principle. At least as much attention should be paid to a business’s churn rate – the rate at which it loses customers – as on sales figures, to ensure that all the effort expended on winning customers in the first place is optimised down the line.

Ultimately, customers stay with businesses they trust to offer not just good products or services, but also to have their best interests at heart. Genuine relationships always transcend the mere transactional to become emotional ones, where a customer feels the brand is integral to their lives (you probably know people who profess they would cease to function without their iPhone…).

In some ways, the bowtie marketing model harkens back to the days when personal service was paramount (ironically enough, to a time when more people wore bow ties…). With the advent of mass production and mass marketing, perhaps the personal connection was lost – in truth if not in intent – and perhaps the sales funnel was the best model available to many organisations. Now, thanks to exciting new technologies, we can take advantage of CRM systems and marketing automation to genuinely connect with people as individuals. This enterprising approach to business is not just for the likes of Amazon, Apple and eBay – the bowtie marketing model is an option for every single organisation around the world – and that includes SMEs and start-ups too.

Keep up to date

The world of bowtie marketing changes all the time. To keep up to date with all the latest news is almost impossible, but you can keep on top of things by following us on social media – TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn. If you would like to have a conversation with us about bowtie marketing, please contact Stephen Brown on 020 7795 8175 or stephen.brown@abacusmarketing.co.uk – you can also visit our website at www.abacusmarketing.co.uk to find out more.