Introducing Content Recommendation Alerts

We’re excited to announce one of our newest alerts: Content Recommendation alerts. We’ve already rolled out these features to a select few of our beta clients and have been collecting feedback (as seen below). We hope you enjoy these new alerts as much as we do!

How do they work?

For the users that have been with us for a while, you may recall our Trending Alerts. However, a recurring feedback we received was that these alerts were neither necessarily useful nor actionable. You spoke, we listened! To address this issue, we’ve transformed our old Trending alerts and developed them into more actionable Content Recommendations. As you will find below, we will only alert you about content relevant to the topics you are tracking and catch content at the start of a trend rather than after the trend already happens so that you can proactively capitalize on these strategic marketing opportunities. The Content Recommendation alerts will surface up only the best content for you to share with your Twitter community and help you with content curation and establishing your brand as an industry thought leader. In short– it’s content your followers should love! You’ll find three new types of Content Recommendation alerts:  

1. Trending Links We’ll notify you about any particular links to articles, photos, or videos that are trending within a particular topic you are tracking. That’s right. Instead of sending you generic links trending across all of Twitter, we have made our algorithms granular enough to send you links that are trending just within a particular topic or industry of your choice.

                  Trending Links
Here is an example of an alert that tells you what article is currently resonating best with your audience and presents them with an opportunity to post similar content to further engage their audiences.

2. Trending Hashtags As mentioned in Hubspot’s “The Secrets Behind Social Media Today” Webinar (#WLW14), hashtags are a great way to discover and participate in important conversations happening within your industry. That’s why we’ve created a Content Recommendation alert notifying you about any key hashtags that are just starting to trend within your industry. We want to help you be one of the earlier thought leaders joining in on these pivotal conversations.

Trending Hashtag
On April 30, 2014, President Bill Clinton came to speak at Georgetown University. Before Twitter even blew up with tweets from the lecture attendees, we were able to catch a particular hashtag that was circulating most frequently among this audience. As a result, Georgetown was able to join in on this particular hashtag conversation to better engage their audience.

3. Popular Tweets Our last Content Recommendation Alert will notify you whenever there is a very popular tweet that is being actively retweeted among members of your industry. Popular tweets will be an opportunity for you to understand which types of content members of your industry like to see, and engage in key conversations surrounding this tweet.

Trending Tweet
Here is an example of an alert that we sent to another user, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). As you can see in this alert, we’ve caught that this particular tweet from Intel was growing extremely popular among followers of the topic, Wearable Tech. Using this alert, CEA could quickly jump into the conversation by retweeting it, engaging with Intel (the original tweeter), or reposting content similar to this tweet. By repurposing and engaging with this tweet that has already shown traction among their audience, CEA has an even higher chance of increasing engagement with their followers.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on what you think regarding our latest alert. As always, feel free to say hello@encorealert.com, comment below, or tweet us @encore. If you aren’t receiving alerts already and are interested in trying them out, sign up at encorealert.com!

Live Blog: Hubspot’s “The Secrets Behind Social Media Today” Webinar (#WLW14)

Hey everyone! Hubspot is hosting a ginormous webinar right now on “The Secrets Behind Social Media Today,” an effort to break the Guinness World Record for most people on a live webinar at once. In fact, the hashtag for the webinar is #WLW14 (World’s Largest Webinar). They’re only streaming it live, so we thought we’d take some notes on key points and learnings for those of you who aren’t able to listen in!

Here are the details:

SPEAKERS:
Scott Engelman, Head of Online Marketing at LinkedIn
Jed Clevenger, Global Head of SMB Channel Marketing at Facebook
Russ Laraway, Senior SMB Director at Twitter

HOSTED BY:
Dan Zarrella, Social Media Scientist at HubSpot

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2:06pm: Incredible hold music choice–Hubspot is playing a electronic dance version of “Let It Go” from Disney’s movie, Frozen.

2:09pm: Hubspot giving away free swag and discount codes to their big annual conference, Inbound.

2:13pm: Starting with the question, “How do you make your social media presence more awesome?”

The most important thing is setting a goal and figuring out how you are measuring.

The first secret: create a Twitter Profile That Attracts More Followers

Make sure that you are making a great first impression. Make sure your bio is clear and that you have photos that visually represent your products and your look/feel. 75% percent of people access Twitter via mobile first, so make sure it looks great on your phone too. Include your URL and a hashtag; give people a reason to come back to your Twitter account.

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@Bonobos is cited as an example of a great first impression.

2:17pm: How about making an awesome profile on Facebook?

Make sure all the information is accurate and complete. The more information, the more “official” your page will look. Use photos that work well with your brand. Finally, use free tools like Contact Importer and Friend Inviter to invite all of your friends and customers to like you and engage with you.

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SweetHaus is an example of a page that has achieved over 3000 likes without any paid Facebook advertising. They use a cover photo that makes your mouth water — complete with hours, ratings, and address.

2:19pm: Finally, how about LinkedIn?

First, make sure you write a compelling description. Second, define and use keywords so that people can easily find your business when they are searching about your industry. Finally, a compelling image on the business profile draws people in. Once the page is set up, continually engage your community by posting updates and thought leadership.

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2:23pm: Use the 80/20 rule on content. 80% of your content should not focus on what you are selling.

Think about how you can offer value to your audience, and go even further to think about what they can offer to their followers (driving retweets). Tweets that include photos and Vines get double the engagement.

2:24pm: When using LinkedIn, consider the professional mindset that people have when they come to the site–they are looking to improve their skills and advance their careers. Therefore, professional content like best practices and industry tips works best on LinkedIn. Try using Slideshares, photos, and videos to supplement your content– valuable content outweighs original content.

2:26pm: How do I grow my following on Twitter?

Consider a “follow” as an explicit opt-in to receive updates from you. Users are usually pretty careful about the accounts that they choose to photo. A good way to discover accounts to follow and get others to follow you is to participate in hashtag conversations and also directly tweeting at influencers in your industry and having conversations with them.

2:28pm: How do you target your content to get in front of the right audience on Facebook?

Once you establish your page and start building your audience, go through the 3 step cycle: Test-Learn-Iterate. Any post you publish can be limited by location, gender, relationship status, educational status, and age. Businesses who succeed are using their authentic voice and are amplified through their existing customers to reach new customers.

2:31pm: How should I enter in new conversations on Twitter?

Think of hashtags as a way to do a structured search of joining new conversations. Most industries have an evergreen hashtag that is commonly used, as well as hashtags that come and go. Don’t just squat – try to add value and expertise to the conversation.

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If you create a hashtag, make sure it’s easy to understand and build momentum to make sure it’s widely used. A good tactic is to give incentives to people to use the hashtag (like giving away swag for using #WLW14!).

2:35pm: How do Sponsored Updates work on LinkedIn?

Sponsored Updates helps you get the best content in front of the target market you are trying to reach. First, take the posts that get the best organic engagement and use those for your sponsored updates. You can target by location, company size, seniority in company, etc.

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For example, LinkedIn itself uses targeting to reach companies with over 15 employees to spread the word about its talent recruitment features.

2:38pm: And what about a successful Facebook ad strategy?

1) Create a newsfeed ad- that’s where people spend the most time.

2) Use targeting- Facebook has the best targeting because real people give them a lot of information.

3) Drop a pixel in your site to measure ROI from Facebook traffic.

4) Measure- use your Page Admin and insights to make constant adjustments.

2:43pm: When you create “bigger” content – like ebooks, webinars, and blog posts – you can create bite-sized tweets from that content to distribute.

For example, to increase subscribers to your email newsletter, you can tweet out different, modified tidbits throughout the day and link to your newsletter. Keep it simple and make sure the user is able to focus on the call-to-action you want them to take.

2:46pm: What’s the biggest mistake you see social media advertisers making?

Jed from Facebook says the biggest mistake is that brands aren’t human enough. He cites a great example of a plumbing company that posted photos of their team in order to make their profile look less cold and intimidating (see below).

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2:53pm: Scott from LinkedIn mentions that the most important measurement on LinkedIn is clickthrough rate (CTR). It shows you how much value your audience finds in your posts.

2:54pm: Final best practices:

-Always use data in your social media decisions. Making social media decisions without experimenting with data is like driving with your eyes closed.

-Don’t just use images, but also remember to piggyback on trends (like the Polar Vortex) and hashtags, and have a clear call to action.

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-On LinkedIn, don’t forget the “professional mindset.”

-According to the experts’ research data, it’s hard to overtweet but you can over-Facebook. The best brands tweet around 22 times a day but only post around 1 time a day on Facebook. Treat the networks differently because posting the same thing everywhere will just annoy your audience.

3:02pm: The panelists gave their final pitches for their respective social networks. 

The discount code for Inbound Marketing Conference is WLW14 and it expires 5/31.

That’s all folks! Hope this has been helpful!

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3 Case Studies That Will Remind You Why Real-Time Marketing is Awesome

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On social media, everyone has something to say- but how do you get to the right person at the right time? If you properly listen to that buzz and know just when to tune in, you can create a situation where you can make your brand relevant, engage with the right customer, and be in control of the buzz that is out there. Here are three cases picked from AdAge’s great article on Real-time Marketing Cases:

1) Ford jams with Spotify

Brand events are great opportunities for real-time marketing.  Whether you are launching a product, hosting a conference, or simply creating a situation where customer centricity is pivotal, you can think ahead and plan how you will want to engage your social media community to achieve your marketing objectives. Prepare hashtags, have pre-designed images, prepare the launch of a website to push out content, and react to social media during the event. Take the opportunity to manage what the conversation will be about.

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The carmaker Ford introduced Spotify streaming in dashboards of its Focus model by successfully leveraging Daft Punk’s newly-released single, creating promoted tweets containing #daftpunk, #spotify and #fordsync. This launch highlights how engagement in real time during brand events allows the brand to become in control of what is trending, leading to a more beneficial and monitored social media engagement.

2) Pretzel Crisps feed their community

Customer interaction represents another area filled with opportunities to control the buzz. Customer relationship programs, customer service and complaint resolutions become great starting points for the establishment of a beneficial relationship, which is very strategic marketing in an era where the customer expects the brand to respond to any digital complaint or confusion in near real time.

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Pretzel Crisps used this approach as they listened for tweets from people who were posting about being hungry. The company then replied with an offer to send product samples out to these hungry tweeters, seizing the moment to increase brand awareness and market their product. Needless to say, there were a lot of “wow” moments created!

3) Walgreens targets customers at the right time

Many companies have already mastered the use of predictive analytics- Amazon has long used predictive data to achieve marketing objectives and display recommendations to customers based on browsing and purchase history.

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Following in their footsteps, Walgreens developed a social-local-mobile (SoLoMo) strategy that reaches in-store shoppers when they are most likely to buy — in the store. When a customer has checked in to a Walgreens location, they instantly receive a coupon. This is a great example of strategic marketing and using real-time to drive real, physical customer behavior.

All of these examples are clear portrayals of the advantages that come about when one knows how to powerfully and meaningfully engage with those who express interest in your brand. Real time marketing is all about getting on top of the buzz- when you are aware of it, it has the power of becoming one of your most powerful tools.

 

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3 Reasons You Need to Pay Attention to Influencer Marketing

3 reasons

We all know that “influencer” has transformed into something of a marketing buzzword in the recent past, but don’t let that detract from the incredible value these individuals are capable of generating for your brand.

An influencer is anyone who your customer views as a source of quality information- anyone from a blogger to celebrity to close friend. According to a Nielsen study, 70% of consumers trust other consumer’s opinions posted online, and 92% trust recommendations from people they know. These friends and fellow consumers are influencers, and they are as important to the sales process as the prospects themselves. Influencers can also be anyone from an industry expert to celebrity, and they can radically affect what your customers think about your brand in ways that the brand itself cannot change. Brands of all sizes can utilize and leverage social influencers as a powerful form of word-of-mouth marketing.

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If you’re not convinced you should be using Influencer Marketing yet, here are three reasons you should bring it into the fold as an essential cornerstone of your marketing strategy:

1) It’s easier than ever to identify influencers

How do you find the most influential voices in your social sphere? Use the growing number of influence ranking tools that perform twitter analysis and facilitate the intelligent identification of important voices in almost any community or subject area you can imagine.

These tools are simpler and more readily available than ever before: services like Klout, Kred, PeerIndex are free and easy to use. Their twitter analysis sorts through millions of social actions to score people on influence. The number of Facebook and Twitter followers someone has is also a solid proxy for influence. If they’ve managed to organically grow a large audience, they’ve likely built a good reputation for saying things worth hearing.

Imagine how hard it was to do before, manually!

2) Google is introducing Influencer Ads

The growth of influencer marketing will be driven by Google’s plans to roll out a new form of display advertisements called +Post. Instead of placing the ads exclusively on Google+ (the way social ads function on most other networks such as Facebook and Twitter), +Post will enable social marketers to deliver their content all over the web through Google’s Display Network, which is made up of over two million sites. Brands can repurpose photos, videos, and even Hangouts posted on Google+ into highly interactive ads that users can follow, comment on, or +1.

Google post ads

This new advertising model will be built on influencers, unlike the keyword-based ads that we’re used to on Facebook and other sites. Its aim is to increase users’ brand engagement while amplifying brands’ social content. Google is essentially going to connect brands with influencers who will receive compensation to distribute brand content — and influencer marketing is about to evolve into a core channel as a result.

Brands like Toyota USA and Ritz Crackers are currently participating in the closed beta, and Google says +Post ads are already seeing expansion rates 50% higher than the industry average for rich media ads. You can apply for the beta here.

3) The return on investment for Influencer Marketing is huge

At the end of the day, influencer marketing is mainly a method of amplification. Influencers extend their legitimacy to your brand, and influence buyer decisions as a result. Influencer marketing is the easiest way to garner the largest number of impressions and actions on your social media, and there is huge value attached to those views. We live in a world where social media has a huge impact- where something as simple as a pin on Pinterest is worth 78 cents in sales.

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Last year, Motorola’s online engagement with 250 influencers generated 4,966 pieces of user-generated content and 61.8 million impressions. Social media is crucial, and influencer marketing is the fastest and most cost-effective way to harness its power, reach your customers, and promote your brand.

Have you tried influencer marketing in the past and/or are you doing it now?

6 ways love brand

6 Ways (and Stories) to Make Customers Fall in Love with Your Brand

6 ways love brand

I came across this great infographic by Aaron Fifield, a graphic designer based in Brisbane, Australia.

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(click the image above or here to see the full infographic)

Fifield visually represents the six major ways that a company can achieve customer delight with their brand; here are some brief cases to back up the points established by Fifield:

1) Awesome Customer Service:

CEO Tony Hsieh (right, middle) talking to customers during the holidays.

CEO Tony Hsieh (right, middle) talking to customers during the holidays.

Forbes ran a profile of Zappos’ (a huge online shoe and clothing store) customer service model, which is widely touted as one of the best in the world (paraphrased below):

Zappos invested their money in customer service rather than in expensive marketing campaigns. Their time is spent observing and tracking customer behavior with the on-going goal of creating more personal emotional connections with its customers. Nothing can replace the human touch, especially when customer service representatives are empowered to go to just about any lengths to help the customer. They understand that the customer experience is not singular, but it’s in each of those singular moments when interacting with the customer that loyalty is forged or lost.

In fact, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh loves to tell a story that illustrates just how far they are willing to go. One late night, Hsieh and some vendors he was meeting with became hungry, but the room service at the hotel had ended. Hsieh jokingly suggested that they call Zappos’ customer service. Even though Zappos doesn’t sell anything remotely close to pizza, the customer service rep stayed on the line to give them a list of local pizza places that were still open and delivering.

2) Fix Up- Look Sharp:

Starbucks store at 1st & Pike in Seattle, WA

Starbucks store at 1st & Pike in Seattle, WA

Starbucks is a paragon of aesthetics at work; they were profiled by Strategy+Business:

Starbucks is to the age of aesthetics what McDonald’s was to the age of convenience or Ford was to the age of mass production. It’s the touchstone, the pioneer others seek to imitate. “Every Starbucks store is carefully designed to enhance the quality of everything the customers see, touch, hear, smell, or taste,” writes Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz in Pour Your Heart into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time (Hyperion, 1997). “All the sensory signals have to appeal to the same high standards. The artwork, the music, the aromas, the surfaces all have to send the same subliminal message as the flavor of the coffee: Everything here is best-of-class.”

3) Create Brilliant Content:

Stanford shared an awesome video about a scientific breakthrough:

Stanford University released a moving tribute to a brilliant scientist – and I love the way it is his wife who steps out to hug the bearer of good news whilst he’s stood there trying to take it all in – but it’s also a brilliant example of taking a story and turning it into digital friendly content that can spread online. What could have been just a brief, traditional media story has instead become a widely shared, heart-warming piece of content, taking the message about Stanford’s academic credentials to a much wider audience.

4) Stir Up Emotions:

In the Season 1 Finale, Mad Men introduces the dilemma of branding for Kodak execs:

In this episode, Don Draper realizes the value of emotion in marketing, and he harnesses the feeling of nostalgia in order to brand this projector. “Nostalgia literally means the pain from an old wound. It’s a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone. This device isn’t a spaceship, it’s a time machine. It goes backwards, and forwards… it takes us to a place where we ache to go again. It’s not called the wheel, it’s called the carousel. It lets us travel the way a child travels – around and around, and back home again, to a place where we know are loved.” This style of branding brings one man to tears at the end of the clip. That’s how you know your product is phenomenal.

In the words of photographer Annie Leibovitz, “if it makes you cry, it goes in the show.”

5) Under-promise and Over-deliver:

Consider a generic example of a bakery that has to make a bulk order of some goods:

Luck is the only way to give 110 percent, so you should try to low-ball how much you can give. Take this example: You enter a bake sale and they ask you how any cupcakes you can make. Take it as a given that you can make 50. But using this trick, you will tell them you can reasonably make 35-40. You can then show up with 50 (exerting little to no effort), and it appears as if you worked hard, to make 10-15 more! This applies to many different things in life, and it makes people much more appreciative of your offering.

6) Encourage Feedback & Listen:

As the infographic notes, 89% of customers have stopped doing business with a company after experiencing poor customer service. Brands that genuinely want to hear about their customers’ gripes are the ones who will learn and constantly improve.

One of my favorite examples of this comes from CustomInk, a Virginia-based company that enables customers to design and order custom t-shirts. We ordered our Encore Alert team shirts from CustomInk because we’ve had a history of receiving great products and customer service from their team. Unfortunately, this time around, some of the shirts were discolored!

Yes, those are our nicknames!

Yes, those are our nicknames!

In every step of the process — from approving proofs to follow-up after shipment — CustomInk frames their communication as completely open to negative feedback. They say, “please be picky because we are too” and make it clear that anything less than perfection is unacceptable. They immediately followed up with a detailed survey that asks about everything from the fabric quality to the print itself. They post these ratings, completely uncensored, on product areas of their site.

customink

As a result, they’ve offered to replace our shirts and have followed up multiple times to make sure we’re happy. It may not come as a surprise to you that, despite the negative experience, we’re excited to work with them in the future again!

There you have it – six principles and six cases to increase customer delight. Do you agree with this list? What are your ways to create “wow” moments in your customers’ day?

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Encore Alert Raises $390k Seed Round Led by DC’s NextGen Angels

 

Actionable alerts that help lean marketing teams identify and execute quickly on social marketing opportunities 

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Encore Alert, a proactive alerts tool for lean social marketing teams, has closed a $390k seed round led by one of the Washington DC area’s top angel groups, NextGen Angels.

Participants in the round include Sid Banerjee (CEO of Clarabridge), Tyler Peterson (Manager of Global Social Strategy at Google), Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology (CIT), Adam Riggs (former President of Shutterstock), Grant Allen (ABB Technology Ventures/Keybridge Venture), Thatcher Bell (Managing Director at Gotham Ventures), Michael Goldstein (Founder of Exhilarator/SwitchPitch), Sameer Gulati (Zynga and Spreecommerce), and Sonny Ganguly (CMO of WeddingWire). Encore Alert, which started less than six months ago in Acceleprise, is already helping marketing teams at brands like WeddingWire, Consumer Electronics Association, and Georgetown University be more effective by automatically uncovering critical social media opportunities and suggesting optimized marketing responses.

Encore Alert SxSW example

Marketers have been striving to become more data-driven in recent years, but actually making effective decisions rooted in data on a consistent, daily basis remains a largely unfulfilled promise for marketing teams at small to mid-sized brands. Encore Alert empowers these marketers to act on “the right opportunities at just the right time” by scanning thousands of brand mentions and related tweets each minute to algorithmically identify the most important marketing opportunities like trends, influencers, and spikes. Then, the tool sends its users a simple and elegant push alert directly to their inbox, clearly displaying the relevant insight and offering recommendations on how they can act immediately.

The actionable alerts mark a clear move away from the standard-fare, complex, data-heavy dashboards and fulfills the promise of data by putting the heaviest emphasis on actionability:

“Encore Alerts cut through a lot of the clutter and noise that comes with social media management, helping me find useful content from influencers that I often miss in my dashboard. The alerts to my inbox are perfect for quickly drawing my attention to current conversations about my brand,” explains Anupam Chakravarty, Director of Interactive at Georgetown University.

NextGen Angels

Brett Gibson, managing director of NextGen Angels, discusses the opportunity the group sees:

“Every day, Encore Alert learns what actions drive results for marketers, and allows the platform to become more predictive. Over time, Encore is becoming smarter. They’re gathering data on actions, alerts and making recommendations. It’s marketing automation at its best.”

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In addition to investing, Sonny Ganguly, who has led WeddingWire as its CMO to becoming the world’s leading wedding marketplace and is considered one of the most highly-respected marketers in the community, will join Encore Alert’s board of directors. Ganguly notes:

“As a marketer, finding actionable insights across social platforms is a tedious task. Encore Alert enables our marketing and customer support teams to understand social insights as they happen, which allows us to seamlessly take action at the right time. Speed is of the essence to maximize results in social media and Encore allows us to never miss a beat.  James and team are amongst the brightest entrepreneurs I’ve met in the DC area and it’s my pleasure to be an early investor as well as a board member. I look forward to being a part of the growth ahead.”

The Arlington, Virginia-based company, led by CEO James Li, CTO Felipe Lopes, and VP of Product Tammy Cho, is one of the youngest teams ever to receive investment from Acceleprise, the DC-based enterprise technology accelerator led by Sean Glass (founder of Higher One; NYSE:ONE).

The company intends to add technical, sales, and marketing talent to its team, accelerate product development, and accelerate to market.  James Li, co-founder and CEO, says:

“We’re extremely thrilled to have these investors on board and to continue leveraging their great expertise and advice. We hear from marketers all too often that social is increasingly overwhelming and, with the limited time that they have, it’s common to miss important opportunities that are hidden in the data. We’re confident that the brands who are able to find and capitalize on these opportunities in real-time are truly going to stand out in building brand equity and loyalty, and we’re excited to be able to empower these marketers every day with our actionable alerts.”

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Why, How, What: The 3 Keys to a Clear, Effective Message

why-how-what

Some argue that ideas provide the greatest store of value in the 21st century. While such a statement might seem true at first glance, even the greatest ideas fall short if they prove impossible to execute. Although ideation seems more in the domain of the typical marketer, the exceptional marketer knows what to do and how to do it, and then does it. Fundamentally, this translates to What is my company’s story and how do I convey it to my audience effectively to make them take action?

In brief, good storytelling, according to acclaimed TED speaker Simon Sinek, consists of Why/How/What:

1) Why are you doing what you do?

This should always come first! Most marketers skip this step, and subsequently, consumers skip their product. As a consumer, I’m much more inclined to buy a product or service that I know the story behind, especially if that story resonates with me.

Sinek offers the example of Apple: “If Apple were like everyone else, a marketing message from them might sound like this: ‘We make great computers. They’re beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly. Want to buy one?’ Here’s how Apple actually communicates. ‘Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?’  People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”

At Encore Alert, we go through this exercise ourselves every few months to make sure our work is still aligned. Our “Why:” we believe in helping marketers be more effective and brands be more human in order to truly engage the connected consumer.

“Why” is not about making money – why is the reason your organization exists in the first place.

How do you deliver on the Why?

How does your company deliver on the mission above? These are the things that set you apart from your competition. It can be something different in your production, in your delivery, or in your talent, and it’s a layer of thought that’s easily missed.

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Apple Senior VP of Design – Jony Ive

Apple challenges the status quo by using amazing designs, innovating in technology, and prioritizing simple user experience.

Our “How:” we achieve our “Why” by making social marketing data extremely accessible and actionable to marketers, focusing on elegant insights/recommendations, the power of push notifications, and algorithms that learn about brands over time.

Every company knows What they do. 

This is the level that many new marketers get stuck at; it’s easy to keep talking about the “what,” especially if you know your own company and the ins-and-outs of your product features particularly well.

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For Apple, it’s the computers and devices they sell. At Encore Alert, it’s the alerts we deliver to marketers’ inboxes.

Here’s another example you might be familiar with: TOMS runs a One-For-One campaign to provide shoes, vision aids, and water to people in need for each unit of their products purchased. They share this mission with their customers, and this inspires purchases. By the time the customer is considering the look, color, and size of the shoe, they’re already 90% of the way there.

why-how-what

The bottom line is that you must resist the urge to tell consumers what you do right off the bat. Enthrall them. Make them care about your vision, your “why.” Then tell them how you do it, and finally what you do; I promise that it’s the most effective way to make people jump at the prospect of buying your product.

 

 

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10 Steps to Grow And Unleash Your Creativity, according to Chase Jarvis (SXSW 2014 Spotlight)

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Over the next few days, we’ll be shining the spotlight on a few South by Southwest (SXSW) talks we really loved. We hope there will be at least a couple of takeaway for your brand, your marketing strategy, or your career development!

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Speaker: Chase Jarvis is one of the top photographers in America. He’s done commercial work for brands like Nike, Pepsi, Volvo, Reebok, Apple, and Red Bull and has earned worldwide recognition for his photography, directing, and writing.

Thesis: “Creativity is going to solve all problems.” From Martin Luther King’s approach to civil rights to our approach today to the clean water crisis, creativity has been at the root of all problem solving. Unfortunately, Jarvis argues that our creative instincts are “extinguished” when we go through elementary and high school.

The good news is, you can intentionally discover, grow, and unleash your creativity. Here is Jarvis’ countdown of the ten steps to do so:

10. Pursue a Creative Craft

There’s a widely held stereotype that most engineers, lawyers, or developers are not as “creative” as musicians, photographers, or designers. Perhaps you feel discouraged that you are not as “creative” as someone you look up to. Recent data shows that this is simply a myth — regardless of job and skills, everyone has the equal capacity to be creative, and labeling people as “uncreative” creates an overly limiting frame.

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Whatever your function is on your team, you can bring your creative skills to the table. What’s important is that you are open-minded and refrain from discounting others’ ideas just based on their titles.

9. Find a Space

Where you work matters. Jarvis has a very useful approach to thinking about how to balance your time between crazy meetups and conferences (like SXSW) and quiet, solitary work time.

Sample the mayhem…

Go to these types of events to learn about the newest ideas in your industry and meet people to hear totally different perspectives from yours. You should spend no more than a third of your time getting these “inputs.”

…then synthesize.

Then, extract yourself to a quiet place and focus on your “outputs.” Many prolific authors, like Dan Brown, set aside time to write all morning and spend the rest of their day socializing and exploring new ideas.

8. Play 

The Importance of Breaks At Work

If you’re passionate about your job, it’s easy to overwork. We recently read an article on Tim Ferriss’ blog, Preventing Burnout: A Cautionary Tale, that was as much of a warning as you’ll ever need. Make sure to completely take off 30 minutes each day so you can approach each problem with a fresh mind.

7. Find a Tribe

6. Show Your Work

Jarvis and several other SXSW speakers spoke about the importance of sharing your work with your community as much as you can. Internally, this means that while you are working on your own project, you should not only share the final product but also the process with the rest of your team. We can tap into the collective genius and receive encouragement that will feed our work further!

There is also an important brand personality and marketing lesson here. As the book Rework notes, there’s a reason why celebrity chefs aren’t afraid to show their recipes and how things are done. Giving your customers a glimpse behind the scenes of exactly how things work leaves them wanting more, and is a brilliant way to turn customers into really passionate advocates.

5. Imperfection + Iteration

As much as we’ve been trained by traditional schooling to strive for perfection on assignments, don’t be afraid to put out an imperfect product and iterate. Jarvis played the following video to illustrate:

Yes, that’s Macklemore, winner of four Grammy awards and one of the hottest rap artists of this year. The video was filmed at a 2009 dinner party hosted by Jarvis himself, back before Macklemore found his fame. You can see Macklemore nervously clutching a piece of paper with lyrics on them, trying out a new song in front of an untested audience. The best artists, Jarvis says, are willing to show their work early and often, and continue to iterate.

4. Put More of You Into Your Work

A common challenge for marketers is finding the proper voice for their brand. Should you be professional? Snarky? Hip? Sarcastic? Funny?

It’s great to make a decision and be intentional about the voice you choose, but Jarvis argues the only way to truly find your voice is to use it. Just like the way a baby finds her voice is by screaming and crying, your brand personality and voice will develop as you create more and more content.

3. Doubts? You’re Doing it Right

doubts

We, as creators, often like to hide our work as a result of feeling vulnerable. And who can blame us? It always seems like the draft “isn’t ready,” and there are “just a few more things to add!” It’s a natural feeling, and it means we are expressing our creativity in ways that will pay off in big ways.

Jarvis contends that if it doesn’t feel risky when you’re launching something, you’re not doing it right.

2. Make Something Every Day

 

Modern research has demonstrated that the brain continues to create new neural pathways in order to learn new information in other words, you can train and mold the brain with enough repetition, experience, and practice even as an adult.

Jarvis suggests starting small by doing one creative activity every day. It could be something as simple as taking a daily photo of something interesting with your phone or doing 15-20 minutes of creative writing/doodling. Sticking to this habit will help you and your team become more creative psychologically.

1. You Have Nothing to Lose

Steve-Jobs-Commencement-Speech-at-Stanford-University

Jarvis recalls literally running into Steve Jobs on a trip to Apple headquarters; in awe and admiration, Jarvis turned around and quickly snapped a photo of Jobs with his smartphone. Just a couple of months later, Jobs passed away.

Feeling the gravity of death helps put things in perspective. Jarvis ends on this quote from Jobs’ famous 2005 Stanford commencement speech:

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

Photo Mar 10, 2 41 52 PM

 

When we look to our heroes, we realize how disciplined they are in mastering and executing these principles above.

Do you have any other tips to increase creativity? Please share them below!

SXSWstartupoasis

Encore Alert is at SxSW!

It’s our first time at the mega-conference in Austin- we’re extremely excited to meet new people and learn about the latest products.

We’d love to meet you! We’ll be all around (probably wearing a company shirt), but you can definitely find us at these two events:

Austin TechBreakfast Kickoff Spectacular

Friday, March 7 – 9:30am – noon – Fogo de Chao (309 E 3rd St)

Austin TechBreakfast Kickoff Spectacular Presented by Aereo   Mar. 7  2014   Fogo de Chao   9 30AM to 1PM

 

We’ll be giving a speed demo and a sneak peek of our technology surfacing trends and influencers for SxSW itself!

UP GLOBAL Startup Oasis Launch Pad 

Saturday, March 8 – 10am – noon – Old School Bar & Grill (6th St. and Trinity)

SXSWstartupoasis

We’ll be launching a new version of our product along with some friends, mentors, and reporters!

Come and say hi — we’d love to meet you!