Salad Dressing’s Basic Marketing Reminders

Salad Dressing Marketing RemindersAs much as I love food, it’s not often a condiment provides me with such profound inspiration.  Or at least some good marketing reminders.

1. Be delicious. Give customers what they like, or they won’t come back.

2. Be addictive. This is sort of a take-off on #1, but if you are so delicious they MUST have more, that’s a good thing! Make the experience so good, they won’t go anywhere else.  This speaks not only to your product quality, but also your customer service.  Thanking customers for input and compliments, and making good when there’s been an issue.

3. Be creative. Think outside the box to keep things interesting, to keep your customers intrigued. One of my favorite new salad dressings is Buffalo Ranch from Wish-Bone.  I love that they came up with a whole new line of really unique flavors.  (I’m also looking forward to trying their Avocado Ranch.)  Scanning the grocery store shelves, no one else has offerings quite as interesting as these.  And you know what?  It’s going to keep me buying the fun ones and looking for new flavors to try from this company.  Because I know I can count on them to give me something deliciously different.

4. Be open.  Keep letting the good stuff out. But to do this, you have to listen to your customers so you can continue with steps 1-3, and ensure success for you and customer satisfaction.

*Sadly, I was not able to photograph my bottle of Buffalo Ranch because I ate it all.  Off to the store to buy some more!

Life Lessons from Downton Abbey

downton abbeySeason 4 of Downton Abbey is now over; I admit I’m missing my Sunday night ritual of watching my favorite high-falutin’ PBS drama.  Happily, though, I got a dose of Lady Mary last night when I went to see the new Liam Neeson movie, “Non-Stop”.  Lo and behold, a few minutes into the film, Lady Mary appeared!  Except she wasn’t Lady Mary.  She was Nancy, the not particularly well-developed flight attendant character designed to highlight key elements of Neeson’s character, Bill Marks. Poor Nancy doesn’t even have a last name (although we do find she has a thing for the nerdy-yet-lovable and ultimately brave co-pilot).  But I digress.

It was a bit of a shock to see Lady Mary in contemporary clothes; no, she was not bedecked in jewels and sequined finery,dressed by ladies’ maids.  She was not sitting around a candle-lit dinner table being served by footmen who spoon out gravy with a silver ladle worth more than all my silverware put together.  No, Lady Mary (the very talented and lovely actress Michelle Dockery) was serving others, bringing them blankets and beverages at 35,000 feet.

As I watched, though, I thought about how sort-of proud I was of Ms. Dockery for breaking out of the corset and opting for a more contemporary role (since the last non-Downton role I saw her in was the recent film, “Anna Karenina”).   Some actors stick with their niche because it works.  I mean, how many of us thought that Gwyneth Paltrow was British for the longest time? Yeah, because her niche was playing a very believable Brit. There’s something to be said for the old adage, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  When you find what’s profitable, stick with it.  There is wisdom in that.

But Ms. Dockery recognizes that her talent extends beyond the rolling green idyll of Downton. And while I don’t think she’s leaving her series anytime soon, I applaud her for trying something different, so that “the masses,” who only know her as Lady Mary can appreciate her work in a different context.

All of this to simply say that seeing Lady Mary serving drinks reminded me that it’s good to step out of our comfort zones, to walk in the opposite direction of others’ expectations.  It’s an exercise we should all practice every now and again. You never know what you (and others) will discover about your abilities when you do.

Jelly: Not Your Daddy’s Search Engine

In January, Twitter co-founder, Biz Stone, and Ben Finkel, of Fluther, launched Jelly, the super-slick “next-gen” search engsearch, search engine, Jelly, Google, Bingine for Droid and iOS.  It’s designed to give users quick answers to their questions by linking to their social networks.  Have you seen it? This ain’t your daddy’s search engine.

I don’t purport to tell you that Jelly will replace Ye Olde Google or Bing, no.  Nor will it take the place of collectives like Quora, Yahoo! Answers or even Finkel’s Fluther.  But rather, I will tell you I believe this concept has legs; it combines the crucial feature search engine and collective users want (namely, finding answers), tenets of basic social media success, and the time-wasting, procrastination-inducing, addictive tendencies of any well-designed app.

The Basics

I’ll start with the basics.  Jelly is part of the new wave of search because it’s social.  And it’s mobile.  During a lunchtime conversation with some friends today, we reiterated to each other what is an undeniable fact: folks get their news and information online, often from social media and not from news outlets themselves.  One friend said, “First, it’s Facebook.  Then Huffpost.”  Another said she looks for breaking news on Twitter.  So it’s no surprise when I started researching that a study by the Pew Research Center, in collaboration with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, found that 8% of American adults get their news from Twitter; a staggering 30% get their news from Facebook.  And we know, too, these numbers will continue to rise. These pals of mine and I are professionals who are mobile and tethered to our devices.  We’re connected to each other on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.  We’re texting each other about networking and co-marketing events.  At any rate, we probably should have stacked our phones during lunch, but we didn’t; in fact, one of my companions and I had a Google duel in the midst of our meal, to find the resolution to a query of another friend at the table.  Point made.  (I couldn’t use Jelly because my opponent didn’t have it loaded on her device, alas.)

Social Media Success

After trying Jelly for a few days, I contemplated whether this little app (for that’s all it is, mobile only.  There’s no desktop version, which is another reason it will never supplant the grandpa search engines) was destined to be the future-altering invention Biz Stone believes it to be on the promotional video.  While I don’t think the path of my life will necessarily be drastically altered by Jelly’s existence, I think it is a portent of the future of search.  (Tomorrow’s technology- today! Oy.)

Social media expert Mark Schaefer talks about a vital element of success for any user of social media, as part of a “social media mindset”: authentic helpfulness.  This is the idea that we are genuinely interested in helping others solve a problem, or find the answer to a question, and not to make a sale or seek a business benefit from assisting someone. Jelly plays into the innate human urge to help others.  In a 2009 New York Times article, Dr. Michael Tomasello, author of the book Why We Cooperate, explains that, “[h]umans putting their heads together in shared cooperative activities are thus the originators of human culture.”  This collective effort (as Jelly allows more than one user to answer another user’s question) speaks directly to that need to aid others.

Further, Jelly humanizes the search process.  No more cold links and PPC ads (yet).  No, Jelly makes searching for answers warm and fuzzy, like a giant digital Snuggie.  Content marketing guru and Pure Matter CEO Bryan Kramer promotes the concept of H2H, or human-to-human communication, as part of a successful marketing strategy.  In his February 2014 blog post, “The Rules on How to Speak Human,” Kramer outlines (or reminds) us how simplicity and humanity are the best way to achieve business success. Forget the acronyms and the shop-talk.  Stop selling.  Be HUMAN.  Jelly encourages human-to-human interaction.  There’s no boolean search, no (previously-mentioned) PPC. Simply people asking questions, others answering them.  It’s a different experience than what we’re used to for search.  Dare I say, novel, even though it’s sort of the old-school, pre-historic way to find an answer.  By asking someone.  In this age where machines give us directions, tell us where to be and when, and so much more, it’s nice to just ask someone for an answer.  Plus, with Jelly, you can thank those who give you an answer you like.  Kind of like a digital thank you note.  Your mom would be so proud– such a good boy/girl (insert cheek pinch here).

While I don’t think Jelly will change the way we, say, shop for big-ticket items, I think it’s another tool in our digital arsenal that can make our experience that much more rich and informative.  Sure, you can get reviews on that  new car model online by searching on Bing.  And absolutely, you can get a consumer’s perspective on the digital camera you’re looking to buy.  But here’s another chance to get pointed answers on questions you create yourself– not answers the big search engine thinks you want.

Yeah, It’s Fun

Upon Jelly’s launch, Casey Newton wrote on The Verge that he believes a drawback to Jelly to be that people don’t sit around waiting for questions to answer, and that this will make it difficult for Jelly to build a following.  While he’s not wrong, I do believe that apps hold a different place in our digital psyches than search engines.  Apps are a means to an end, something to help us solve a problem; or, apps are a way to entertain us in the short-term, while we wait to see the dentist or ride home on the train, for example.  So while Jelly may not be a go-to for every.single.search we perform, let’s revel in its helpfulness, humanity, and novelty.  Because it’s fun.

For more information on social media news consumption in the U.S., check out the Pew Research Journalism Project.
Visit Mark Schaefer online and on Twitter @MarkWSchaefer.
Click by Bryan Kramer’s digs online or say hi on Twitter @BryanKramer.

Video

Don’t Be Anti-Social (Media)

Last week, I sat in on a meeting where someone told me they don’t bother with social media because it’s too much trouble. I run into a lot of folks who are overwhelmed by the social media options out there, and therefore ignore it altogether. From a professional standpoint, I think this is a mistake; I believe there’s a lot to be gained by networking and learning through social media, so I decided to do something fun to help encourage folks to give it a shot.  Here I offer some basic, practical examples to those who are just getting started.  Please share this video post with someone you know who might be avoiding the social media stratosphere!

In this video, I offer three tips for getting started with social media:
1. Pick ONE platform
2. Color in your digital picture
3. Give it time

Check out the video for more details!