Six Steps to Add Some Gaga to Your Marketing Mix

Lady Gaga is a force of nature.  One billion plus views on YouTube, 6.4 million fans on Facebook, and 3.8 million followers on Twitter. The most Googled image of 2009, Time Magazine’s 2010 artist of the year, and Fast Company’s most creative business person of 2010. She’s a marketing maven, a social media strategist, and a worldwide phenomenon.

Love her or leave her, the girl’s got it going on! So let your freak flag fly! Check out these six steps to add a little Gaga to your marketing mix.

Embrace social media: Create a content rich website that shows your personality and engages your audience.

Gaga is a social climber of epic proportions. Her home turf (www.ladygaga.com) is a robust site, chock full of chat rooms, photos, exclusive videos, merchandise, tour information, and downloadable music.

Limit your social network & keep it consistent: Choose two or three social networking sites that you’ll update on a regular basis and stick with them.

Fans can get their daily dose of Lady G on Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace. As for consistency, Gaga tweets about once a day, sometimes every few hours.

Be authentic: Think of social networking as a cocktail party. Make friends and play nice. People do business with people they like.

Gaga keeps it real by engaging fans as though they’re her best buds. During a NYC performance, Gaga tweeted “The team of doctors and nurses who saved my dad’s life came to the monsterball, one of the best nights of my life performing for u. Rejoice NY.”

Establish a tribe: People join tribes, ancient and contemporary, to feel connected and part of something bigger than themselves. Harley Davidson and Apple have built their empires by cultivating tribes.

Gaga’s tribe has been described as cult-like in their devotion. She refers to her tribe, affectionately, as “ little monsters” and has adopted her own internal sign language known as the ‘monster claw.’

Focus your marketing on a particular audience:  If you’re everything to everyone, then you’re nothing to anyone. Create a narrow focus and infiltrate.

Gaga refers to her target audience as “An army of outsiders – All of the weird kids, the artistic kids, all the bad ones. And I love that, because that’s who I was. It’s our own little world.”

Tap into the power of PR: A wise man once said, you pay for advertising but you pray for PR. PR gives a business or person the credibility of a third party endorsement.

Face it, Gaga knows how to make heads turn. She wears outrageous clothes, makes controversial comments, and buys pizza for her little monsters while they wait in line to pay homage to ‘the Lady’. While her counterparts make news for bad behavior, Gaga makes press for partnering with Polaroid and Virgin Mobile.

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Ten Quotes on the Power of PR

“The right story told at the right time can bring valuable attention to your business, even during a downturn.”-Business Week

“PR — even though it is underutilized — is extremely effective when properly leveraged.”-Harvard Business School

“If I only had $2 left, I’d spend $1 on PR.”-Bill Gates

“72% of senior level marketers said PR is most valuable in supporting product marketing and product launches.”-Advertising Age

“You pay for advertising but you pray for PR.”-Unknown

“PR builds brands and generates awareness-fast.”-Inc.

“A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front page ad.”-Richard Branson

“Historically, PR, marketing and advertising budgets are the first to be cut; however, that could be one of the first mistakes a business makes in an economic crisis.”-CBS Market Watch

“In a downturn, an aggressive PR and communications strategy is key.”-Silicon Alley Insider

“There is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary.”-Brendan Behan

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Seven Steps to Creating an Effective PR Plan

I was never big on homework in junior high. Much to Sister Mary Ellen’s dismay, I avoided it like the plague. Hey, I had better things to do! Like eating Cheez Doodles, watching reruns of Sanford and Son and wreaking havoc on the neighborhood with my buddies. Homework was for the birds.

But that was then, this is now. Today, I’m all about homework and espousing the benefits of a good PR plan.

A solid PR plan is fundamental to the success of any PR or marketing campaign. After all, you have to do some proper planning before you dive in and start swimming with the sharks. And if your inner eighth grader tells you to resist and retreat, know that a well-written PR plan will give you the focus you need to reach your target audience and surpass your goals.

A good PR plans includes a situation overview, definition of target audiences, goals, objectives, goals, tactics, budget and timeline.

Situation Overview: Summarize your organization’s current communication situation in one or two paragraphs. What’s happening that make’s publicity a priority?

Are you looking to expand sales? Launching a new product line? Is your organization looking to secure VC funding? Expand your donor base?

Whatever the case may be, jot down what’s going on and why you need publicity.

Target Audiences: Define your stakeholders. Who are your customers? Clients? Donors? Prioritize the list by starting with the most important segment first.

Define what your stakeholders read, watch, listen to, attend and visit online. This will help you create a targeted media list.

Goals: Set and define some specific goals. What do you want to accomplish through PR?

Sample goals may include:

  • To generate awareness of our brand and direct consumers to retail distributors
  • To raise awareness of our cause, increase donations and secure corporate funding
  • Increase bookings with tourists from Philly and New Jersey

Objectives:

Now it’s time to set measurable objectives and define the following:

  • The anticipated accomplishments
  • Who’ll manage the tasks
  • The time frame

Your objective may read something like this:

By December 1, Bill will secure two newspaper mentions and one radio interview about launching a business in an economic down turn.

Tactics: Tactics are the things you’ll do to get publicity. This is your to-do list.

  • Write one press release per month
  • Pitch individual writers
  • Monitor editorial calendars
  • Conduct a survey
  • Organize a flash mob
  • Knock over a liquor store (I don’t recommend this one. Could generate negative publicity)

Budget: How much money can you allocate to PR? This will help you define your tactics and determine whether you’ll be able to hire an outside resource, subscribe to a database or use a press release distribution service.

Timeline: A timeline will help you manage the tasks and tactics included in your plan. If you plan to send out one release a month its best to plan when you’ll write and the release and when you’ll send it out.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Peace, love and powerful press.

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Three Steps to Better Branding

The other morning I woke up bright and early to attend a networking event modeled on the concept of speed dating.

After ample amounts of caffeine I was ready for the repartee. My first date was with an enthusiastic entrepreneur named Esther. After chatting about her business for a few minutes, Esther pulled out a copy of her new brochure like a proud pageant mom.

It didn’t take long to see that Esther’s brochure broke all the rules. There was too much text, the layout was busy, and the messaging was muddled.

How can you avoid Esther’s marketing mishap? Simplify your writing, keep your design clutter free and stay on message.

Simplify Your Writing

William Zinsser author of On Writing Well say’s “Clutter is the disease of American writing. We are a society strangling in unnecessary words, circular constructions, pompous frills and meaningless jargon.”

Read a little Hemingway and you’ll immediately grasp the power of simplicity.

Considered one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, Ernest Hemingway was famous for writing in short, declarative sentences.  In fact, when challenged to write a story in six words Hemingway wrote: “For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

Zinsser’s advises writers to look for clutter and prune their writing ruthlessly.

Keep Your Design Clutter Free

Bang and Olufsen’s chief designer, David Lewis once said, “Truly elegant design incorporates top-notch functionality into a simple, uncluttered form.” Amen brother.

Good design is clean, simple and clutter free. It’s quiet, confident and commanding without trying too hard.

Need a visual? Check out the Eames Molded Plywood Chair. Recently hailed as the best design of the 20th century by Time Magazine, this modern masterpiece is timeless, sleek and simple.

Stay on Message

All of your marketing materials should articulate your brand’s positioning. A brand positioning statement defines what makes your business unique, why consumers would want to do business with you, and how you wish to be perceived. Your brand positioning statement should be unique, narrow, clear, and consistent.

Would love to hear from you on common marketing mishaps and ideas for better branding.

Peace, love and powerful press.

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The Social Cycle

I hate doing laundry. Don’t get me wrong. I dig clean clothes.  I just hate schlepping my duffel bag of dirty duds down the stairs of my third floor walk-up.  It’s a real drag. And that’s exactly what you’ll often see me doing, dragging my bag down the street.

While spending my Saturday at The Suds and Comfort is not my idea of a good time, it got me thinking.  A social media plan is a lot like a wash cycle. If you jump in without proper planning it’s going leave you feeling all wet.

Here are four steps to ensure social success:

Listen:  Before engaging anyone through social media you need to be a voyeur. Take some time to observe and understand the culture, vernacular, and behavior of the community you’re hoping to join. You don’t want to bust into a community, bombarding your new neighbors with your sales pitch. They’ll see you as a spammer and tune you out. Once they tune you out, it will take time to rebuild credibility.

Participate: Create content that stimulates conversation in your community. Think of yourself as publisher. Publishers create content with their readers in mind. Be a passionate thought leader that educates, engages and entertains. Know your audience and make media that resonates with them.

Implement Metrics:  A word of warning…social media is not just a numbers game. You can have a large number of Facebook followers but are they interested in what you’re saying? Are they returning to your page?  But that’s another story for another day.

Four quick ways to measure your social impact:

  • Traffic: Hits to site, followers, friends and fans.
  • Engagement:  Click-thru’s, repeat visits, blog comments, retweets, bookmarks, and subscribers to feeds.
  • Influence: Increased brand awareness, buzz, mentions, links shared, leads, and long tail traffic.
  • Sales Activity:  Map out a time line of social media activity and overlay it with a financial performance chart.

Change and Adapt:  Assess your social media strategy. Constantly evaluate what’s working and where you can implement change. Don’t be afraid to experiment and take chances. Learn from your mistakes, evolve and move forward.

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Four Steps to Makeover Your Media Room

I’ve been poking around a lot of online press rooms lately. Interestingly enough, they all seem to fall into one of three categories: bare bones, yesterday’s news or robust resource.

The bare bones media room is like a pizza box at a Weight Watchers convention—empty. If you’re lucky, you’ll find contact information for a media rep, but that’s usually about it.

The yesterday’s news media room is like a day old danish—stale. The news is outdated and the page feels frozen in time.

Now the robust media room, that’s a different story, the robust media room is like a Porsche 911—fully loaded.

So, “Gentlemen, start your engines” and check out these four steps to get your media room up to speed and on the right track.

Provide Comprehensive Contact Information

Journalists are always under deadlines and juggling multiple stories. They don’t have the time or the patience to be searching around your press page for contact information. Make sure to include the name, phone numbers (office and cell), and email address for an accessible PR contact. You should also provide a general contact option such as press@organization.com for less pressing issues.

Offer an Extensive Press Kit and Multimedia

Provide your company history, executive bios, board list, high-resolution logos, photos, head shots, awards, links to recent media coverage, videos and podcasts. The easier you make the journalist’s/blogger’s job, the more likely they are to write about you.

Share Information on Your Industry or Cause

Want your press room to become a destination for journalists and bloggers? Then offer more than just information on your company or nonprofit and provide information on your industry or cause. Use tip sheets, fact sheets, polls, and surveys to make your case.  For example, let’s say you’re a PR person for a major airline, you could compile a fact sheet of the latest consumer trends in flying: how often the average person flies, the percentage of passengers who do not check baggage, etc. Why not create a tip sheet on how to save on airfare? Go beyond the pale and provide journalists/bloggers with the all the ammunition they need to write a story.  They will soon start to see you as an industry resource rather than a PR rep for your organization.

Create a Calendar of Events and Speaking Gigs

Journalists and bloggers often attend trade shows, conferences and seminars. Why not create a calendar of executive public speaking appearances along with the conferences and trade shows you’ll be attending.  You never know…a journalist/blogger may decide to attend your session or swing by your trade show booth for a chat.

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The Joan Rivers’ Guide to Better Branding

 

Can we talk? Whether you love Joan Rivers or worship the quick sand she walks on, you’ve got to give her credit —she’s a survivor.

I first saw Joan doing stand up at a Boston comedy club about ten years ago. I laughed so hard that by the end of the night my cheeks hurt. While I had a lot of laughs that night, I hadn’t thought much about Joan, until recently, when a friend recommended I watch Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work. The documentary captures a year in the life of the comedienne while looking back on the highs and lows of a career that spans four decades.

The film made me realize that Joan is much more than a comedienne. She’s a marketing maven. In fact, Joan can teach us all a thing or two about marketing, perseverance, and the power of laughter. So here goes, the Joan Rivers’ guide to better branding.

Be Unique: Joan has a personality all her own. She says what she wants, when she wants.  She’s earned a reputation, for better or worse, as a loose cannon. But that’s what people love about her. She’s one of a kind. How would you describe your brand’s personality? Understanding your brand’s core personality traits will help guide all creative and strategic marketing decisions. It will also help you develop a clear and consistent voice for social networking. If you don’t know your brand’s personality, start surveying your customers, clients or donors.

Target a Specific Audience:  Joan loves the gays. “Gays were the first ones who found me, in the Village so I feel very akin to them and very connected,” says Rivers.  Today, Joan starts every live show by asking, “Where are my gays? In return, Joan has a gaggle of gays at every show.  So what’s the lesson here? Know thy audience.  Whether your targeting soccer moms, stock brokers or evangelical ministers is irrelevant.  What matters is that you choose an audience and study them like a book. Learn their nuances. What are their common bonds? What inspires them? What keeps them up at night? Learn to speak the native language and spend time wherever they congregate.

Be Ubiquitous: Joan is omnipresent. Recent sightings have included a new TV series for Oxygen, hawking jewelry on the Home Shopping Channel and a Super Bowl spot for Go Daddy. Did I miss anything? The point is, Joan doesn’t rely on one marketing method to reach her audience— and neither should you. Adopt a strategic marketing approach that incorporates multiple touch points. Think PR, social media, word of mouth, print, web advertising and direct mail.

Experiment: Joan Rivers is like an inflatable punching bag. You knock her down and she bounces back up. She’s had her share of success and failure, just like the rest of us. But what’s admirable about Joan is that she’s not afraid to try something new. There is no magic formula to executing a successful marketing/PR campaign. The trick is to take chances and dare to be different. Need some inspiration? Check out this PR pitch from the CEO and COO of CodeWeaver to New York Times technology columnist David Pogue. Pogue said it was one of the best pitches he’s ever received. I think it’s genius.

And last but not least, keep on laughing because as Joan say’s “If you don’t laugh you die.”

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