Tag Archives: #Cbias

Useful Brands Stay Relevant With Their Core Customers

Advertising messages inundate us in print, broadcast and online. According to a recent study by Razorfish, the average person experiences “5,000 brand messages a day and [most of us] don’t have the time or energy to care about most of them.”

All these banners, jingles, newspaper inserts and videos blast their way into every conceivable nook and cranny of media space, making it impossible for consumers to avoid. We’ve reached a saturation point in traditional advertising, and most of us will do whatever we can to get far, far away from the omnipresent marketer’s voice ringing in our ears.

People are busy working, living and just trying to keep up. While some ads offer a 30-to-60-second humorous escape from the daily grind, many messages simply pander the  offer of the day…or more likely the offer of the minute soon to be replaced by the next minute’s deal from a competitor.

Become Useful to Your Shoppers

In this oversaturated environment, people place value on “brands that are useful over brands that are interesting;” however, everyone defines usefulness differently. A young father at home with 3 kids may need an easy way to make a chore chart while a 22-year-old young woman just out of college may seek inexpensive ideas for creating a great nail art look.

Usefulness Leads to Brand Loyalty

Loyalty programs provide a basic level of utility (in the form of monetary or other compensation for time spent with a brand,) and some services have emerged such as Jingit, Snap and iBotta) that pay actual cash when shoppers give their attention to brand messaging or purchase a product. These companies understand that “consumers are now aware of how much their attention is worth to marketers, and they expect to be rewarded for it.”

Directly paying for a consumer’s attention is a special kind of honesty not long seen in advertising, but it does little to engender true loyalty between shoppers and brands. Modern life is complicated and we seek things to make it less so. When brands provide interesting content and useful tools to help solve our problems, we are more likely to purchase products from those brands on their next trip to the store.

Useful brands:

  1. Can still talk about their product but do so within the context of meal inspirations, party plans, how-to guides and engaging new ways to connect with their friends and family. In this spirit, Home Depot creates and curates DIY how-to guides for its customers.
  2. Know they can’t be the only ones talking about their products. Bloggers, Instagrammers, YouTubers and Viners advocate for their favorite brands because in an authentic way (even when compensated by the brand.) A social influencer who shills for brands only because they get paid are not useful and will soon lose their audience. A blogger with no audience is a blogger with no influence. Coca-Cola leveraged a group of influencers to extend their highly successful 2014 Share-A-Coke program into the Walmart retail channel with the #ShareItForward variant.
  3. Create content that flows to where people want to find it. A story may start on a brand web site or a blog post, but engaged shoppers will share the images and videos from that story (when deemed useful enough) to friends and family across the social web. Whole Foods Market provide meal and decor inspiration to its customers across a number of followed accounts on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

In this brave new world, brands must talk about things other than price and features with their shoppers, and social media is the best avenue for these conversations. We have entered the era of the useful brand. Useless brands today will quickly become the irrelevant brands of tomorrow.

SoFab is Ready for Valentine’s Day!

Are you ready for Valentine’s Day? Our Social Fabric members sure are ready! They have been prepping and have ideas to share! Want to know what to bake or buy for your special loved one this holiday? Or maybe even for your special pet? Check out some of the great ideas our members have!

Valentine’s Recipes: 

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Double Red Velvet Cake Bars from Julie is Coco and Cocoa

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Cinnamon Roll Heart Kabobs from As The Bunny Hops

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Red Velvet Bark from Love Me, Dani Marie

Valentine’s Party Time Inspiration:

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“Craft Your Heart Out” Valentine’s Party Ideas from Play.Party.Pin.

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Vintage Valentine Party Ideas by Gentri Lee

Gift Ideas for Loved Ones: 

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Bigelow Tea Gift Basket from Adriana’s Best Recipes

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Romantic Date Night Gift from The Adventures of J-Man and Miller Bug

Gifts For Your Pups:

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DIY No Sew Dog Collar Bow from Our Holly Days

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Dog Treat Bags from Living Better Together

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Milkbone Peanut Butter Banana Dog Treats from Kendall Rayburn

Whether celebrating with a significant other, throwing a Galentine’s Day party or just wanting a special treat for the furry baby in your life, there’s a unique idea here for everyone. Show your appreciation for the loved ones in your life by giving them something they can’t find on a store shelf. Have a happy Valentine’s Day!

The Future Is Location-Based Content Marketing

There’s no doubt we are drowning in content. It fills our inboxes and a specific search can lead us all into an abyss of content as one piece leads to more and more interesting topics. And even if we escape, retargeting is at every turn, tempting us to fall down the content rabbit hole once again.

Foursquare check-ins promised location-based content; yet it never really delivered on the promises it made to consumers despite its gamification platform and people craving “mayorships.” QR codes sparked early interest by consumers but never did really get the adoption marketers had hoped for.

But, will near-field technology and increasing adoption of mobile devices finally deliver location-based content? I know I shop with my smartphone in hand as do a reported 84% of smartphone shoppers, according to a study by Google and M/A/R/C Research. Add to this the rapid adoption of Beacon technology by major retailers and we might have the beginnings of content on demand, which could totally transform the shopping experience. The only obstacles are getting consumers to see the value and turn on the beacons, and for retailers to not barrage shoppers with ads, but instead provide useful content and information.

So what would I wish for with location-based content?

>>Bye, bye loyalty cards

Nearly any location you can make a purchase or “check in” at (gyms, grocery stores, frozen yogurt shops, etc.) has a chipper sales clerk or front desk attendant asking if you want a “loyalty card”. The idea of being able to rack up discounts and prizes in exchange for frequenting your favorite stores and workout spots is great in theory. In reality, shoppers rarely use their loyalty cards when in-store and they take up valuable wallet and keychain space. Location-based content should eliminate the need for loyalty cards by “checking in” a customer when they walk in the store and keep track of things for them.

>>No more searching for items

Nothing is more frustrating then trying to track down a store clerk or wandering the aisles trying to locate an item. Location-based content should feature a real-time product list or inventory that helps customers avoid going into stores only to find the item they wanted was sold out or not carried at the store to begin with. This is a feature that would truly keep customers coming to stores time and time again, knowing they will find exactly what they are looking for.

>>Product information

Savvy shoppers crave information. Mothers want the best bang for their buck without suffering for quality. Having an accessible database of information, including product reviews and in-store specific options, right on my mobile phone to employ while shopping would keep me from going home to look up and buy a product online.

>>Offers at my fingertips

Few people have time to read print newspapers, let alone scavenge for coupons within them. Having coupons and offers beamed to my mobile phone that are timely and relevant to what I’m shopping for will save me both time and money. If I am considering buying a product, I’ll be that much more likely to put it in my basket if I have a discount on my phone.

>>Speed up check out process

Walmart is infamous for its long checkout times. Getting stuck in line behind someone with a stack of paper coupons to give to the checkout clerk is a fate I wish on very few. Having all the coupons and offers I wish to use racked up on my mobile device that the clerk can obtain with one swipe will shave off unnecessary minutes spent in-store for all customers, bettering customer service and clerk checkout times at the same time.

Content and information that is catered specifically to what I am shopping for and where I am conducting my shopping will make the overall experience superior, tenfold. If retailers can strike the right balance of information flow and relevant content, location-based content could enhance –and change– the entire function of shopping. Game on.

Working with Non-Mommy Bloggers

Written by Amy Fulcher

While many mothers started their blogging careers by simply keeping an online diary, their influence could not be ignored. Brands came calling. Professional personal blogging became a legitimate career and a new boom of work for home career women was created. According to Girlpower Marketing, 52% of all women online are moms. Of course, that means 48% of women online have no children of their own, and I am one of them.

Despite significant evidence to the contrary located in my inbox, I do not have children of my own. I have a large extended family and a great love for children. I just haven’t raised any myself. Yet on a daily basis I check my email to see pitches that open with statements such as, “As a busy mom, I’m sure you know…” or a generic, “Hello, Mommy Bloggers!” greeting.

Who comprises that 48%? They are women who work both in and outside of the home. They too prepare meals, do laundry, clean the house and shop. They may not have children of their own, but they purchase a variety of children’s products for their nieces, nephews and the other children in their lives. With the average cost of raising a child estimated to near $250,000, the potential for extra disposable income in homes without children should not be ignored.

On my blog, As The Bunny Hops, I have covered topics from makeup to food, technology, and everything in between. I’ve made renovations to my home (on my own dime), and shared both sponsored and unsponsored trips and recreational activities. My disposable income coupled with more “me time” allows me the opportunity to truly experience the entire life that comes with lifestyle blogging.

There are challenges in professional lifestyle blogging that come with not having children. In addition to the general assumption that I am a mother because I am female, many companies actively seek only mothers for promotional campaigns. What I would encourage them to think about is how working with non-mothers, as well as male bloggers (both with and without children), can expand the reach of campaigns to entirely new audiences.

As the appreciation for online influence grows and gains the respect it deserves from brands, so should the appreciation for the diverse backgrounds of professional influencers available to help their message.

About the Author: Amy blogs at As The Bunny Hops, where she hops here and there to write about the things she loves. A cooking, crafting and technology enthusiast, Amy is also passionate about early childhood education and children’s causes. When she’s not working with children or writing, Amy is busy planning her next adventure…whenever and wherever that might be! You can connect with Amy on LinkedIn.

 

The Auto Industry’s Missed Opportunity: Female Consumers

Holly Pavlika, SVP Strategy at Collective Bias, takes on the auto industry in her interview with Jody Devere, an automotive expert and the Patty of “Ask Patty.”  Seventy-five percent of moms believe they are the sole decision maker when it comes to automotive purchases, so it’s clearly important for car makers to take steps toward making this demographic feel comfortable while car shopping. Devere says the two keys to doing this are to increase the number of women working in the auto industry and accommodating women in the role of consumer.

In addition, Devere and Pavlika list out tips to help automakers connect with women. From listening to the female consumer, attending “women-centric” conferences, and hiring more women, they dive into tactics that would make the industry more relevant to moms, allowing them to unlock the missed opportunity of the female consumer.

Read more at MediaPost.

 

Can Target Make A Comeback?

Once the go-to big box retailer for “cheap chic” suburbanites across the U.S., Target’s much-publicized security breach last December resulted in personal information being stolen from nearly 110 million customers, a 46 percent quarter profit loss and a severely damaged brand image. As the anniversary of the data breach comes about, Target is pulling out all the stops to win back customers during the high-stakes holiday season. Is the retailer poised to make a comeback? Here’s how Target is decking the halls this year:

3D printing for holiday gifts

Target recently revealed a unique partnership with online 3D printing service and marketplace Shapeways. Customers become the designers: they start by logging onto the Shapeways website and browse through an assortment of 120-plus rings, charms and ornaments. Customers can choose from a range of materials including steel and bronze and can include special messages or monograms on many of the charm options. 3-D printers sculpt the customized creations layer by layer and are then sent to the customers’ doorstep of choice. This authentic and modern offering attempts to set Target apart from other discount retailers like Walmart.

E-commerce initiatives and data security

In an effort to streamline online shopping processes, Target announced it will offer free shipping on all purchases. “No one likes being surprised with shipping charges when they go to check out, so a standing free shipping offer for the holidays just makes sense,” said new CEO Brian Cornell. The retailer also updated their POS terminals and is making a move toward complying with EMV cards, which allows chip-based payments rather than by swiping a magnetic stripe. Bolstering their data security efforts will help to gain customers’ trust back in the future.

Exclusive collections

TOMS for Target, a partnership with the charitable shoe company famous for their initiative of giving a pair of shoes to someone in need for every pair purchased, features over 50 items, all under $50, according to their company blog, A Bullseye View. In addition to the massively popular classic TOMS slip-ons, the licensed collection consists of home goods, accessories and apparel. Every purchase culminates in a blanket donation through the American or Canadian Red Cross, a week of meals through Feeding America or Food Banks Canada or a pair of shoes to a child in need. The altruistic cooperative is an extremely smart move for the retailer in healing its tarnished image.

Pop up shop

Recently named to Time Out’s top 15 New York shops list, STORY is a retail concept space that “completely reinvents itself” every four to eight weeks “to bring to light a new theme, trend or issue”, according to their website. The current theme? Home for the Holidays, starring curated items hand-picked from Target HQ. The 2,000 square foot store was transformed to look like a home that is equal parts ski house and mountain retreat. Each room of the space is categorized by present receivers, making for a living gift guide of sorts. This uncommon shopping experience puts Target in a category completely unique to other New York-located competitors.

The holiday season is certainly the most competitive time of the year for retailers as each vies for a share of consumers’ wallets. After having last holiday season defined by the disastrous data breach, Target is making a concerted effort to bring customers one-of-a-kind gifts and seamless online and instore shopping experiences. If the company will return to its previous stature remains to be seen, but the journey back is assuredly jolly.

‘Tis The Season For Gift Giving

There are 61 days during the November/December holiday shopping period. That’s 61 days full of coupon overload, longer store hours, and discount madness. All in order to make sure that Mom has time to pick out the sweater for Uncle Mark, toy sailboat for Little Jim and the Frozen doll for Sara. When you’ve got 10 family members to buy gifts for lower prices can be a godsend, but the extensive time spent shopping can still leave you delirious, discombobulated and dying for the holiday season to be over.

Luckily, there’s a way to escape the insanity. Today is #GivingTuesday! Instead of worrying about how to make your Christmas special, you’re free to focus on helping someone else, in a big or small way. The mission of #GivingTuesday is for charities, families, businesses, community centers and students around the world to come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give. You can volunteer your time or donate money. You can do something as small as paying-it-forward in the coffee line. It still creates positivity and smiles.

Collective Bias decided to spend the holidays giving back to our community. We’ve crafted a 12 Days of Giving campaign. For 12 days in December we’ll be donating various items to local organizations. We hope this idea will inspire you to jump right in and help someone, too!

So grab an item from the list below and donate to a local organization or family that could use a little holiday cheer this season. Use the hashtag #cbgives and let us know!

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You can learn more about Giving Tuesday on their Facebook page.

 

5 Ways Women Use Mobile While Shopping

By Shell Feis 

We all love our phones. On average, we glance at them over 150 times a day and utilize them for everything from looking up movie times to catching up with our moms.

Recently, there’s been an increase in mobile use while shopping among women, and for good reason. The entire shopping experience, from start to finish, can be made easier by mobile devices. Here are five of the main ways that women are using mobile while shopping:

1. Making Lists: Whether using a simple app like Notepad or something with more bells & whistles like Evernote, making a list on a mobile device is extremely efficient. Rather than trying to remember everything you need to buy when you’re headed to the store, you can keep a running list of everything as you think of it or run out of it. Since most women are never far from their phone, it’s perfect for eliminating all of those sticky notes with just one or two items scribbled on it.

2. Saving Money: Clipping coupons is an age-old way to save a few bucks, but many women simply don’t have time to cut them out, sort and organize them. Mobile coupons are a paperless way to save money, which means they save a lot of time (and trees).

3. Comparing Products: When making big or important purchases, we always want the best. Women often use their phones to look up reviews on products that appeal to them in-store. Some in-store price tags include a QR code that when scanned, brings you to the product’s page on the retailer’s website for quick access. There are also independent apps that can scan a barcode to compare prices between retailers in order to find better deals.

4. Checking Inventory: Many stores provide opportunities to look up a particular item and see which store near you has it in stock. This is helpful when a product is displayed somewhere unexpected or if the item is in fact sold out so you don’t waste precious time looking for it.

5. Getting Advice: Sometimes, an outfit appears to look better (or worse, for that matter) in the dressing room. Snapping a quick photo and texting it to a friend for their opinion is the adult version of hitting the mall with your girlfriends. It doesn’t just work with outfits- posting an electronic you’re eyeing or a home decor item you like on social networks and asking for opinions is becoming commonplace and is a terrific way to prevent buyer’s remorse.

How do you use your mobile device when shopping? Let us know in the comments below!

 

The Social Side of Football Season

Fall means one thing, football season. Both the college and professional football leagues are now in full swing, enveloping football fanatics across the country. But watching your favorite football teams on Saturdays and Sundays no longer consists of attending the game at the stadium or sitting in front of a television. The rise in social media amongst teams, players, coaches, reporters and fans has turned mobile devices and tablets into second screens for the ultimate fan experience all week long.

College athletics have really embraced social media to further develop their respective fan bases. As a majority of their fans are now heavily present on social media platforms, teams and athletic departments at top athletic universities have discovered the need to engage fans on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Vine and even Snapchat. Fans can turn to these platforms to get intimate interaction with their teams by obtaining exclusive, behind-the-scenes information, news, photos, and videos directly from the source rather than wait on journalists and news articles from an outside journalist. Teams are creating new content each and every day and utilizing creative teams to enhance this content with photos, videos, infographics, Gifs, and other imagery to get fans prepared for gameday.

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LSU Football Facebook Page – Alabama Football Twitter Handle – Oregon Ducks YouTube Account

As an alumnus of the University of Michigan, I follow the Wolverine’s football team and athletic department on a variety of social platforms. They utilize these platforms amazingly well, providing exclusive access to the team, including photos and videos of practice and games on Twitter and Instagram, contests and exclusive ticket sales on Facebook, and even the release of a new alternate jersey on Snapchat. The team even had the school’s fan motto “Go Blue” painted as a hashtag on the football field at Michigan Stadium, a trend that is become popular across the country at many schools, including Mississippi State University and the University of Arkansas.

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The University of Purdue is even hosting a “Social Media Game” on September 27th, where the team will feature student photos on the helmet. That’s right, the giant “P” helmet logo will be a picture collage of student season ticket holders.

This season, the USA Today launched the College Football Fan Index, where fans can see which college football programs truly have the ultimate fanbase. This in-depth ranking is calculated from monitoring social media activity, conversation, and photo & video sharing across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It also utilizes weekly, online polling of different themes asking which college programs have the best tailgates, traditions, stadiums and other relevant questions about the best college football experiences.

Just as college teams have weekly rankings, so do their associated social media pages. On their athletics website, the University of Auburn ranks the Top 25 followed official pages, feeds and social media channels for the overall sports programs and their football specific handles. On Facebook Michigan, LSU and Alabama have the top 3 followed football team pages. On Twitter, Michigan, Alabama and LSU have the top 3 most followed football specific handles.

On the University of Tennessee’s athletics website, you can even see the Top 25 most followed college football coaches on Twitter.

While most of the action takes place on the field, the college football landscape is changing, as much of the conversation moves away from traditional newspaper, television programming and radio talk shows and onto various social media platforms. Teams and athletic departments are finding new, unique ways to engage students and fans to reward loyalty and enhance the fan experience amongst a new generation of fans.

5 Reasons A Professional Blogger Should Attend Social Media Conferences

by, Kristin Wheeler

I just returned from BlogHer 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. While this was my first BlogHer and first large social media conference, I attended the more community-oriented SoFabCon and the more intimate Bloggy Boot Camp. Despite the differences between the conferences, I noticed commonalities that I believe represent reasons you should consider attending a social media or professional blogger conference of any size.

1) Networking with People and Brands in Person

Successful bloggers have large social networks, and you can grow your network by meeting PR reps and brands face-to-face at a conference! You might get to “know” PR reps through emails and social media, but seeing them in person is a whole new story. You put faces to names, you can speak more directly and you create stronger relationships. Companies send their brand representatives to conferences, and these reps have just as much fun meeting you in person as you do meeting them and other bloggers. You have the chance to see if your personality fits with the brands, which is why it’s important to be professional, have business cards to pass out, and approach brands you find interesting. At BlogHer, you have the chance to meet and interact with brand representatives in the Expo Hall. It literally took me both conference days to get through them all. You can speak with brand representatives, sign-up to work with them, and even enter giveaways!

2) Attending Sessions and Keynote Speakers

Another great reason to attend a conference is to learn! We all want to learn more about what can make us more successful as bloggers. While you have numerous sessions you choose to attend, I particularly found the session entitled, “Learning to Build Your Email Subscribers” informative. I learned about email subscriptions and how to get people to subscribe via email. Who knew you could have four places above the fold to subscribe without it even looking like you are doing that? I always enjoy attending the the keynote speeches at conferences. I found Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg’s keynote address very inspirational. She spoke about the value of women in the workplace and how our voices can change brands and organizations. She spoke about the need for women to stand up for equal pay in the workplace, which, of course, was received very well among conference attendees!

3) Seeing New Products Before They Are Released

I admit I got excited when I could see new products in person before the general public could! At some off site events you could even take samples and get some cool swag. The Expo Hall had so many new products to check out that it was like seeing the future. My kids loved that I came back with information about toys that haven’t hit the market yet. I received samples from The Zelfs, and I told my kids all about the new Skylanders coming out in October. So exciting to be in the know!

4) Connecting Personally with Blogging Friends

I loved meeting my blogging friends in person! We hung out after hours, ate pizza, shared life experiences, laughed at jokes and made new memories together. Meeting PR and brand reps helps to improve your career opportunities, but converting your online friends into personal friends is an amazing experience. Just think of how fun it will be now conversing in Facebook groups remembering when you hung out in your hotel rooms and went to blogging parties together. It takes blogging to a whole new engaging level. Knowing bloggers and interacting with them will help you both personally and professionally.

5) Attending Special Events for Bloggers

Although frowned upon by conference organizers, many companies host off-site parties for bloggers to help increase brand awareness of certain products or services. Bloggers receive personal invites from companies prior to the start of the conference. If you receive an invite, you have great opportunities to network, get swag and have fun! Attend them if you can! Be respectful though and don’t overbook. I heard stories about bloggers doing that even though they knew they couldn’t attend the events. I think it’s better and more professional to commit to the events you can attend and give those sponsors your full attention. If you want respect as a blogger, you need to earn it by being respectful as well.

To sum up, I think you will find a lot of value in attending social media conferences, so if you have the funds it’s a great thing to help further yourself as a blogger. You can find many conferences to choose from at many different rates to attend. Find one you can afford and go for it! You will bring back knowledge, friendships, contacts and of course swag!