The Tin Shingle Blog - #Branding
Celebrities: whether they be from the big or small screen, the world of sports, musicians, dancers, models, big name bloggers or (yikes) reality stars, they aren't just pretty faces. No, these days celebrities can be brandmakers, propelling businesses big and small into the national spotlight with the mere mention of their name (or being spotted with their product).
Like it or not, we all know that highly visible influencers can lead to press, increased sales, retail opportunities, and social media buzz, but not everyone knows how to turn those potential opportunities into a reality. Until now!
At Tin Shingle one of our main missions and passions is helping entrepreneurs and small business owners of all kinds get the word out about their businesses and helping them get to celebrities is part of the deal! That's why we called on the founders of Haute House PR, Jordan Landes-Brenman and Kelly Kepner (PR celebrities in their own right) to compile a list packed with the Do's and Don'ts of working with celebrities. Well, the ladies did more than deliver, they made two lists filled with inside scoop on creating and growing relationships with celebrities that is so big we've broken it into two articles that every business owner should read, print out and hang over their desk!
Top 10 Do's - How to Get Your Products on Celebrities
- Top 10 Don'ts - How to Get Your Product on Celebrities
Don't waste another second wondering why some companies have celebrities singing their praises and yours doesn't, head right on over to Jordan and Kelly's tips and find out what you should (and shouldn't) be doing to make it happen for you!
I love it.
In the drama that was JC Penney has just come out in a new TV ad asking for a second chance (we first spotted it on Ad Age). The retail brand just launched a new TV ad owning up to the fact that they changed from their core customers, and asks for them to come back.
The tone of the ad is calm and soft. The images include nostalgic pictures of older JC Penney stores. The brand portrayed in the ad is not a new flashy Something-mista, no dance numbers, no songs, no flashy graphics. It a portrayal of who their customers were - women living everyday lives.
I like it. What do you think?
When Erin Schiffman, the other half of the NYC based creative branding team Schiffman Creative, updated their Press Portfolio here at Tin Shingle with the press they landed in Time Magazine, we had to know how she got that!
It was a great press opportunity - commenting on the designs of 9 new musical releases from Justin Timberlake to David Bowie. Turns out, having an updated website with their design work, client list, and bios was what secured them the gig.
This is a beautiful example of when SEO & PR blend to create a dynamite opportunity to validate a brand, and how it happened while the business owners were sleeping (after they'd done all their hard work of course).
Here's what Erin had to say:
"Ok...so here is the story. I got an e-mail from the editor explaining the piece and asking if we would be interested in being a part of the expert panel. Of course we agreed to the interview...It is TIMEmagazine.com and it was a really fun story to be a part of!
"After we completed the interview, I asked him how he found us. He explained that he spent a lot of time researching small creative companies in NYC because he was very specific in what he was looking for. After doing a ton of research via Google he came across our site. He said that he felt that we were what he was looking for based on the work we have done and our bios. He also looked at previous companies we worked for, clients for previous and current projects, etc.
"Lesson we learned - very important to have a website, showcase work, include a thorough bio and have easily accessible contact info. I thought the whole thing was pretty crazy especially coming from a PR background. In my past life, I could have spent months and months trying to get a client a hit like this and the odds of it happening were small.
"....this was [mostly] luck and having a website that showcased our business."
Hootsuite, our preferred organizer and manager of our social marketing, started a new series highlighting their users and how they use Hootsuite called #MyDash. They featured Jeff Hamada, founder of BOOOOOOM, an online creative archive community, and a place where Jeff can "give people an excuse to be creative, naive or playful."
In his interview on how he uses Hootsuite to manage his Facebook, Twitter and other social outlets, Jeff makes some great points about how he gets the word out, and where he is surprisingly limited:
Jeff says: "I’m frustrated with Facebook because they limit our voice to our own fans. There are 125,000+ fans on the Booooooom Facebook page and I can only ever reach about 15% of those people with a status update or shared link. That means there are over 100,000 people who don’t see updates from me, people who actually joined because they want to see art in their feed. The only way for me to reach more is to pay Facebook to promote each post. This just isn’t possible for someone like me."
About Google Hangouts, Jeff says: "The users aren’t as active as they are on Facebook yet, but the potential is huge considering how many people use Gmail or Google products in their daily life."
What about you? Are you using and liking Google Hangouts? And are you liking Google + ?
I "met" Ted Rubin on Twitter long before I met him in person when we were both speaking at Tory Johnson's Spark & Hustle Tour in New York City. Since them I've become a fan of his social media expertise, tweets and posts. What I like the most is that Ted knows that the key to business success is relationships: authentic, sincere relationships. Too often these days I see small business owners trying to rush to the finish line or to the next deal and focus too much on numbers as goals (dollars, page views, Twitter followers) instead of focusing on the relationships that will get them to those very numbers they want so badly. Ted's whole theory is something he calls Return on Relationship™ (#RonR via Twitter). Today he posted a story about it on Facebook and I had to share. Give it a quick read and think of it as you make your way through the week!
PS - Get more Ted-isms by following him on Twitter here.
AS POSTED BY TED RUBIN:
I was with a senior marketing executive from a major retailer recently and we got into an hour long conversation about Return on Relationship™, my philosophy, and what it means to me. He was incredibly interested personally and for his company, is a very thoughtful person and was interested in digging down to what my mission is… or better yet, what I want most to accomplish with respect to ROR (#RonR). What it seems to come down to, after discussing, riffing on the topic, and a bit of introspection, was helping others without expectations of what you get directly from that person in return. And how that plays into the old adage… “what goes around, comes around.” We then had an inspirational discussion of what that means to us personally and can mean for brands with consumers.
Short and simple: if you are only focused on the money, you risk completely overlooking the people. Don’t make that mistake! If you don’t know who your people are, you might as well toss your marketing and prospecting money down the drain.
Relationships ARE the new currency – honor them, invest in them, and start measuring your ROR.
Pinterest has been taking the social media world by storm the last few months. But, what is Pinterest? Why is it so popular? And what do you need to know about it as a business owner and entrepreneur?
First, what Pinterest is.
Pinterest is virtual bulletin board that allows users to find and share images, links, and text they like with the world. Users can create multiple boards based on their interests (places you like, neat and quirky finds, clothes, shoes, jewelry, the sky’s the limit) and when they find an image, link, etc… that they like, they use the downloadable Pinterest bookmarklet and ‘pin it’ to the appropriate board to organize it. It’s kind of like a StumbleUpon for images, or Stylehive for style ideas.
Followers can then comment on your pins or re-pin them on their boards. And because as you pin things to your board, they also get pinned to the Pinterest home page, it allows you to build an audience of followers beyond your traditional circle of ‘friends’.
Here's a snapshot of the Pinterest home page when it shows recent photos pinned by different people:
Why you should care about Pinterest right now.
One of the reasons why Pinterest is so intriguing is that it’s now driving more traffic to websites than LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube combined. And that’s interested traffic that tends to buy the items that they’ve seen pinned to the wall. According to an MSNBC.com interview with Sarah Conley, social media manager at ideeli.com, they’ve seen a five-fold increase in sales from the referral site.
We collected some must-read links from media outlets such as Mashable and PR Daily. Read those for more business news about Pinterest.
Why Pinterest is suddenly as popular other social media sites
Why is Pinterest gaining in popularity when other sites like Facebook are suffering from fatigue? Huffington Post writer, Bianca Bosker suggests in her article, The Secret to Pinterest’s Success: We’re Sick of Each Other, that it could be because Pinterest isn’t just another way to proclaim your greatness to the world. It’s less about ‘look what I just did’ and more about ‘I just found something cool that someone else created’. It’s more a beautiful, aesthetically pleasing version of your vision of the world.
What should businesses know about Pinterest?
Well, if you have a product-based business with an online presence, you should think about joining in. Create a board or two and pin some of your gorgeous (note they need to be pretty!) product shots. And just as with any social media tool, it’s about conversation and forging connections with others. See how five small businesses are using Pinterest in their business strategy. So start following some ‘pinners’ who have similar interests. Need an idea of who to start following? Start with us!
Now while you're getting your mid-afternoon Red Eye with an extra shot pick-me-up at Starbucks, the guy behind you might have a different kind of buzz in mind. Yup, Starbucks has announced that they're going to be expanding into the land of adult beverages. Apparently they've been doing a test pilot with a couple of shops in Portland, Oregon and the idea of turning the coffee bar into well just a bar has it's appeal. Stores in CA and Atlanta, GA will be the first to carry the new 'product line'.
There are reasons of course for doing so and Starbucks is trying to figure out how to increase their revenues at a particularly 'slow' time of day. But one has to ask - is it possible for brand extensions to go too far? Starbucks first did just coffee, then pasteries, then breakfast sandwiches, then coffeepots and mugs and music, sandwiches and cheese trays, water, then instant coffee. They've bought up a juice bar and now this. Who and what is Starbucks trying to be to their consumer? They were always said to have postioned themselves as 'the third place'. That place that you could go that wasn't the office and wasn't home, but some place that you could go and relax and unwind and have a cup of coffee. I don't know about you, but the dynamic completely changes for me if I'm go to Starbucks and see a group of drunken frat boys in the corner. Somehow I think I'll be taking my grande no whip extra hot caramel macchiato to go.
Entrepreneurship can be lonely. And if you're looking for 'friends' there are plenty of networks that you can join. But if you're looking to grow your business, to increase your exposure, to improve your sales, to get more press and to establish your credibility in the marketplace, then Tin Shingle has your back.
What makes 'PRENUER unique is that we were founded by real experts in the areas of business strategy, marketing, online media, public relations and SEO. We leverage our more than 30 years of collective business experience to give your brand, your company and you the edge you need as a small business owner.
We don't just send you a list of PR leads and hope for the best, we connect you with the people who are writing the stories that are going to bolster your sales. We don't just tell you that search is important, we actually work our SEO to help improve YOUR site traffic. And we don't just espose business theory, but we give you real concrete guidance and strategic tools that you can use to make an impact in your business.
It's all about real people helping real businesses.
So if your business could use a leg-up, an extra edge and some real solutions, come Tin Shingle with us.
It's a small investment for a lifetime of rewards
A good headshot is extremely important to your small business: it says a lot about the entrepreneur(s) behind the brand, is often the first chance the media you're pitching will have a change to see what you look like (often when they're deciding to use you as an expert) and it's also the first chance potential customers will get to see who you are.
Though everyone, whether they run a product or service based business, should have an updated headshot available to them at all times, a current headshot is especially important to service-preneurs and experts who are hoping to land on-air press opportunities. A television producer will directly ask you for a headshot and you must be able to deliver a professional looking image that reflects how you look today, not five years ago.
Just as you wouldn't use a sloppy looking image on a family holiday card or as your image on an online dating site, don't use one for your headshot either. In the same vein, you wouldn't use a photo from three years ago in a family holiday card or post a photo from years ago on a dating site, so don't do it for your professional work headshot. Not only is it dishonest but it won't do your press relationships any favors either.
Speaking of the press and potential customers, remember who this photo is for....Sure it's representing your brand and you, but what is the entire goal here? If you want a personal glamour shot session you want to hang in your home or over your mantle that's artistic and satisfies secret dreams of being in a major fashion spread or something similar, perhaps save that for a different photo session. You are using these shots to sell your business and expertise to potential customers and the press who will potentially be introducing you to their viewers or readers. Anything that doesn't make you look approachable, something that's a little too artistic, funky or confusing will not be doing you any good in this situation.
If you've read this far and are beginning to think, "it's time I plan a headshot session", be sure you jot down a few more notes to ensure the session is worth your time and money!
Vertical Response has been my favorite e-newsletter program for many years, and then I dumped them. I ran off with the free phpList and authorized a major integration with newsletters sent for our website. Disclaimer: we have a Partner Account with Vertical Response, and offer part of our affiliate sales back to our members as a 10% discount to them.
Several business owners around me use Emma, Mailchimp, phpList, Constant Contact (ich). Emma, MailChimp, and phpList I was always curious about, and Constant Contact I had zero interest in for these reasons:
- admin area was hard to navigate
- breaking into templates was quite difficult, to customize them for a client who wanted to use a pre-designed template
- there was no WYSIWYG editor for custom designed templates, making for easy editing for your own branded email templates
- customer service was lackluster, and I love me some customer service.
MailChimp was, and still is, my next temptress, because they are so modern, fresh, and seem to offer a ton of features with what you can do with your newsletters. However, much of what they offer is the same as what Vertical Response offers. MailChimp's visual design, however, always triggers my weak spot. I'm such a sucker for visual prettiness.
However, when I left Vertical Response for phpList, I made a mistake that I always try to guide my website clients into not making. I took for granted all of the basic features (and I mean basic) that I was used to, and assumed they would be in phpList, my new e-newsletter rebound guy. I'd been having some issues with VerticalResponse, but my reason for leaving was to make the hookup between our member account emails and our newsletter program be seemless. Vertical Response could do this via their API, and we'd used it before, but were thinking we were ready for a change. PhpList was free, VerticalResponse was around $250/year for unlimited email sends for our email list size, so I cheaped out and went for phpList for the theory of an easier integration. Twas not to be the case. The API for Vertical Response could still hook up our member accounts into the email signup/unsubscribe/bounce system, but I thought phpList might be a better hookup. It proved to be wrong, as phpList just wasn't ready to deliver what we needed based on how our website is built.
However. That turned into the catalyst of why I switched back to Vertical Response. Everything at Vertical Response that I viewed as "normal, eh", like how to edit an email, how to view the statistic reports, how to create a new email, became extremely important and sorely missed. So let me take this space to let you know why Vertical Response is special, and very cool:
- At-a-glance snapshot of your newsletters: From the home page, you can get a snapshot view of your drafts and sent emails. This lets you quickly see basic open rate stats, and edit an email or create a new one based on a past one. All in one click.
- Quick edits to your newsletter: Edit any of your drafts in one click from the home page.
- Quick view of partner campaigns: If you are part of Vertical Response's Partner Program and have affiliate sales through them, you can see a graph of your last few months right when you log in.
- Newsletters are Socialized: For a while, Vertical Response can link your newsletters with your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, so that people can easily socialize it.
- Customer Service: Is always wonderful. I've used their service as a normal customer, and also as a "VIP" customer for a partner account. I get treated the same with both services: with respect and a swift fix of the problem (even if the problem is with my own eyes).
- Third-Party vs Custom Solution: Thanks to open source programming, you can affordably custom build a website or e-newsletter solution for your business, without having to pay a license fee or any kind of fee to a business who built a similar service, but runs a business around it. If you do this (and again...hitting myself here), you probably won't get any customer support at all. You may get user forums that the developer of the free service you want to us may check in on and answer from time to time, but otherwise, you're on your own. I know there is a lot of free stuff out there for websites, but sometimes it's much better to pay for them. On the other hand, sometimes it ties your hands and you have limited freedom in areas you want to control.
- Scheduling the e-newsletter: phpList has a scheduler for the future, just like Vertical Response does. But here's where the above bullet point also comes into play: the scheduler ran with our website, and our website has its own process for scheduling things. Without getting too technical, lets just say that it didn't work as planned. AND, they used the time in military format, so one could easily (or at least me) schedule a newsletter for 3am instead of the afternoon. Rrr. Unscheduling was also a problem. That seemed to have been a bug, or a really hard thing to figure out how to do. With Vertical Response, it's one click away - on the home page.
- Merging Newsletter Lists: One of my major problems with Vertical Response was/is that you can have multiple lists, but if a person unsubscribes from one list, they unsubscribe from all. For instance. If you send out a weekly digest, and offer a daily dose, the person may tire of the daily dose, but want to keep the weekly. If they unsubscribe, they are gone from all. Even a member subscription that they pay for. Yup, you'd have to call Customer Service to get them to add that subscriber back to the lists that they sill liked. PhpList didn't seem to have this problem, which was another big reason for why I switched. We don't have a lot of unsubscribes, but it's just annoying.
- Bounced emails: Vertical Response manages all of your bounces for you. You never see them in your inbox. After a while, you can even contact the good people in Customer Service and ask them to debounce everyone in case there were fluke bounces. Sadly, with phpList, all bounces came into my inbox, again, and again, and again. We might could have configured this to do something else, or go to a inbox that didn't go to my computer, but again, why go through the time in configuring that if Vertical Response just "takes care of it" from the get go.
- Sending a newsletter in one click - buh-bye: Again...major assumption on my part that was so wrong. Depending on the size of your list, newsletters take a long time to send. Hours or days. In our case, hours. Days later, however, phpList would still try to put through bounces. A week later even. No no. If a newsletter doesn't reach someone on the date sent, we've moved on. We maybe could have configured this to not do that, but why? Vertical Response takes care of it. It sends in a timely manner. That's all you need to know.
- Sending even if you close your computer: Once you press "send" on a Vertical Response newsletter, you can log off and call it a day (yeah right, you'll just jump into some other project). I think, and I could be wrong, with phpList, your computer needed to be connected to the internets until the status bar stopped sending. This could be a very...long....time.... I'd forgotten about this factor with phpList, and usually I finish up our newsletter production for our free weekly digest email down to the wire. One weekend, I finished it at a coffee shop, pressed send, and oops! Couldn't close the computer because it was still sending. But my family was driving into NYC to meet more family at a sports bar to watch OSU football, and we were running late. My hubby was literally stalking me on Main Street, trying to find which shop I was in, as I was being vague to buy time. When he found me, the newsletter was still sending, so I tethered my laptop to my iPhone while speed-walking to the car (aka, used the iPhone as modem to stay online), and off we drove to the highway (but read why rushing is a bad idea). Which is where we always drop service, so in fact, the entire list did not get sent to when my connection broke. Sigh.
- Bigger company = more stuff: Vertical Response just rolled out a new feature: you can host your events with them, and even sell tickets. I have not investigated yet, but I point out so that you can see how a larger company that you pay for will offer you the good stuff, faster. Because you're paying them. ;)
Assumptions. NEVER ASSUME ANYTHING WITH THE INTERNET. I recently had a client want to switch their website from a custom built content management system into WordPress. There are many technical benefits to doing this, however, the client's reasoning behind it was: "Won't we get a better design if we move the site into WordPress?"
Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear oh dear. No. You won't. Yes, you could pick a pre-designed template, but if you have an existing website, chances are, it has an extensive navigation, and maybe some ecommerce or other special things. It would be a programming nightmare to make the switch because you assumed the flick of a WordPress switch would get you a new visual design. (ps: If your website started out as a blog on WordPress, and you wanted to switch templates, you literally could click-and-switch visual designs...but this was not the case).
No matter who you are, be very careful before you abandon a system that is working, but might bug you a little, and carefully evaluate every inch of what you will jump into. Don't be romantic about it, or think in theory. You may be in a great situation right now and not even realize it.
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