Saturday, January 29, 2011

Portland Digital Marketing

Check out my latest blogging adventure: A digital marketing blog for professionals.

Here are some of the online marketing topics I cover:

  • Mobile Marketing

  • Web Analytics, Metrics & Tracking

  • Digital Strategy

  • PPC & Online Advertising

  • Search Engine Marketing

  • Site Architecture & Navigation

  • Marketing Automation

  • Email Marketing

  • Social Media Marketing

  • Online Lead Generation

  • Project Management

  • Product & Brand Marketing

  • Online Campaign Management

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Marketing Metrics

Marketing metrics are huge for sports business as much as any other. If' you're interested in creating great competitor analysis, positioning maps, and any other strategies related to managing market performance then you might want to check out Roger Best's Marketing Metrics Handbook. (Get a free trial here.)

The table on the left is an example of a Relative Market Share and Market Concentration table I created for Nike, adidas, New Balance, and Under Armour. (I used 2008 revenue numbers for each company, and used 2008 figures from retail sporting equipment, sports apparel, and retail athletic footwear.)

It's a cinch to calculate the ROI, ROS, margins, etc. for these tables, and they really beef up presentations and quantify marketing expenses.

Note: I am not affiliated with Roger Best, and receive no incentives (financial or otherwise) for promoting his handbook.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Facebook Best Practices

Since the inception of the new Facebook layout in March, 2009, company best practices for using Facebook have changed. Now, the site is dramatically less reliant on independently-developed applications and much more focused on fan pages. The following are company best practices, mostly from outside of the sports property sphere, for developing a fan page.

Integrate other platforms. On the “Year One” page, fans have the option to play “Rock, Paper, Spear,” a clever game that redirects fans to YouTube. After a quick video that ties in the new Year One movie with a humorous version of rock, paper, scissors, fans play a two-round game of rock, paper, spear with a tribal warrior. The video then directs viewers to watch the movie trailer.

Converse with fans. The Disney fan page is a leader in this practice. With increasing frequency, the Disney asks its fans questions to create a conversation. After Disney recently asked, “Who is your favorite Disney couple?” 1,294 fans posted comments in the first two weeks. Talk about engagement.

Another way to engage with fans is through the “reviews” feature on the Facebook fans page. Several brands make excellent use of this feature, such as EA Sports in its FIFA 09 page. Here, fans have free rein to post unfiltered opinions about the game, some of which are vulgar, others unfavorable, but most of which are overwhelmingly positive.

Get and use feedback. In a recent conversation with Pat Coyle, former Executive Director of Digital Business with the Indianapolis Colts, I asked haw the Colts get feedback. A major source of feedback is forum threads about marketing issues or emotional topics, which they use in various ways.

Use Flash. Fox news goes a little overboard with its Flash games, but is a good fan page to look at to see the different applications of this tool. Here, Fox News has a “Fox News Flair” Flash widget that lets fans send buttons of their favorite conservative pundit, a “360 degree studio tour” that lets news junkies get a view of the inside of three studios and the Green Room, a Flash tile game, a “Fun Facts” widget for fans to learn more about these TV personalities, and a shop that allows fans to buy trinkets like hats and mugs.

Post events. Barack Obama used social media as a successful campaign tool, on the way garnering more than 6 million Facebook fans. Part of his success came from keeping his events calendar stocked with upcoming meetings, rallies, and speeches.

Create albums
. Just like individuals, brands are starting to create photo albums. A classic example of this is the Coca-Cola page. Here, Coca-Cola has 11 different albums with hundreds of photos, in categories like “Coke is Everywhere,” showing cans from around the world, and “Coca-Cola Archives,” displaying vintage advertisements. The site also allows fans to post Coke-related photos, which has led to more than 1,300 pictures of fans engaged with the brand.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Social Media Podcast

On Friday, I interviewed four top sports business managers about their use of social media as a branding tool. We talked about how their companies use social media, platforms of interest, and the future of online communities.

Jason Mucher, Communications Manager at USA Triathlon
Ryan Stephens, Social Media Analyst at Sports Media Challenge
Bryan Srabian, Vice President of Marketing at Sacramento River Cats
Andy Rentmeester, Director of Relationship & Strategic Marketing at Oakland Raiders

Monday, April 20, 2009

Online Branding with Ning

Four days ago, Ning celebrated the one millionth social network created on its platform. The site, which allows individuals to create their own social networking sites, has amassed 22 million users (six million active users) in just two years, and yet few online brand managers even seem to know it exists.

How has this little-publicized startup reached so many people so quickly? CEO Gina Bianchini contends that no one else is thinking about people with a focus on passions. Ning, however, is all about encouraging users to congregate around their interests. Because of this highly-niche grouping, Ning is an ideal tool for online brand managers to create conversations or add to discussions.

There are a number of cases that brand managers should look at for best practices.

Adidas, for example, created a human resources site on Ning just a couple of months ago. Already, the site is an enormous success: 3,600 members from across the globe, more than 50 blogs, forums, and discussion about how to make adidas a better place to work.

Pat Coyle, online sports marketer extraordinaire, built a Ning site to helps industry members network. Sports businesspeople assemble themselves into subgroups (team marketing, sponsorship, collegiate marketing & NCAA, among others) to share ideas, discuss events, and talk about industry trends.

Ning is simple to set up, but also allows network administrators to customize their offerings. Kicks on Fire is currently running a contest, for example, where members who reTweet their message can win a pair of Nike Air Yeezys. UFC fighter BJ Penn has a shop to sell apparel to his 81,000 members and fans, while Veloist lets users map and share bike routes.

Ning is far from a perfect solution. Here are a few of the issues brand managers face when considering whether to start a site.

1. Spammers. Many sites quickly get bombarded by users trying to push a product or service that has no place on your site. Ning doesn’t offer flagging or similarly helpful anti-spamming measures, so administrators often spend too much time cleaning forums and blocking offenders.

2. Brand control. Ning is a great way to offer a voice to niche fans, but online brand managers should carefully consider whether the goals of the organization could be better met through a company Web site. A brand gives up a certain amount of control in exchange for the ease-of-use Ning provides.

3. Generic features. While Ning lets administrators create their own features or choose from preset forms, the look and feel of a Ning site is as generic as a MySpace page. Sure, you can upload a unique background, but Ning sites generally have few feature distinctions that brands might want to set themselves apart.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Twitter Best Practices

I recently had a conversation with a senior executive at an NBA franchise that opened my eyes to how much corporate leaders distrust Twitter. There is a commonly-held view that Twitter is populated by ego-driven geeks who drone on about what they had for breakfast. While there is certainly some of this, brand managers should also be aware that Twitter is filled with millions of users who are talking right now about their needs, their likes & dislikes, and about your brand.

Hundreds of companies are using Twitter to successfully promote their brands and engage with customers. Here are six best practices for Twitter:

1. Provide customer care and feedback. This is the most talked about brand management tool available on Twitter. Ford, JetBlue, and ComCast all put tremendous effort into responding to customer complaints, praise, and questions. By using the search function on Twitter or more advanced listening tools, brands can immediately redirect frustrated customers toward the help they need, often turning a bad experience into a positive one.

2. Engage your audience. Customers want to feel like they have a voice. Starbucks asks its followers to come up with new ideas, EA asks its gamers what they’re playing now, and 10 Downing Street (Tweets from the Prime Minister’s office) asks followers to throw questions out via YouTube.

3. Start a conversation. Whether it’s Al Gore reflecting on the market for electric cars in China or John McCain lambasting the Wall Street bailout, Twitter is a public forum for conversation. Brand spokespeople can make use of this great feature, too, by authentically raising a concern or praising an achievement. It’s best if the achievement isn’t their own.

4. Learn about customer needs. Marcel LeBrun, CEO of Radian6, encourages companies to use Twitter to answer key questions about their customers. What other things (besides my product) are customers interested in? What are the most important subjects being talked about by people who use my product? Who are the key influencers?

By learning and listening, companies have the opportunity to meet their customers at a point of need. Most people won’t open an email coming from a lawn-care company, but are happy to listen to a pitch right after they complain about their brown grass.

5. Advertise an event or promotion. AdidasRunning promotes running events around the world, Powell’s Books lets readers know when an author is coming to Portland, and Samsung pushes cell phone deals and giveaways. All these companies are taking advantage of their large voice that comes with thousands of followers, brand loyalists, and industry influencers.

6. Be creative. Ashton Kutcher is quickly becoming best known for his Twitter personality, thanks in part to the gauntlet he dropped at the feet of Larry King and CNN to see who could be the first with 1,000,000 followers. EA has taken advantage of the media hoopla to offer Ashton’s 1,000,000th follower 10 EA games, and a role in the Sims 3. EA’s individual titles also creatively use Twitter to engage customers. Battlefield Heroes, for example, holds Twitter trivia contests and gives away swag to the winners. Great publicity, and a model for Twitter best practices.


Saturday, April 4, 2009

adidas House Party

In late November adidas Originals launched a marketing campaign called “House Party,” designed to garner attention for the 60th anniversary of the brand. While the campaign includes live events, real house parties, commercials, and other media buys, House Party has enjoyed its largest successes in the digital sphere, where the campaign attracts viewers on YouTube, Facebook, and on the adidas corporate Web site.

In the House Party video—the focal point of the campaign—celebrities (Young Jeezy, David Beckham, Kevin Garnett, The Ting Tings, and others), as well as hundreds of good-looking young people, congregate at an urban house party where they skateboard inside, paint on the walls, and dive fully-clothed into a backyard pool—all-the-while conspicuously sporting the three stripes and adidas Originals logo.

Response to the campaign has been overwhelmingly positive. The YouTube video has 830,000 views to date, the adidas Originals Web site continues to hawk online spin-offs of the campaign (like The Ting Tings paint party), and the adidas Originals Facebook page (with more than 1.5 million fans) threw a house party for a lucky fan.

The important question to consider, though, is whether adidas loyalists have found the campaign authentic enough. While called House Party “an ego-fueled, self-indulgent, hipsteresque, celebu-fest,” most blogs have been on fire with praise for the campaign, and one TV station even created a knockoff of the ad to promote The Simpsons. It’s clear from a look at the online chatter over the campaign, that the vast majority of online creators, critics, and collectors agree with that House Party’s use of skateboarders, hip hop, motorbikes, and graffiti all contribute to the authenticity of the campaign.

While the most successful attribute of the campaign is authenticity to the brand and to brand loyalists, the campaign didn’t take full advantage of the Web’s most fascinating feature: user-generated content. House Party is hugely successful in a Web 1.0 world, where adidas has pushed excellent content on the consumer. On the adidas Originals Web site, viewers can even get more in-depth in the house party by choosing a room they’d like to see more of—the living room, for example—and can witness more footage of people drinking, dancing, playing poker, and painting on the living room walls.

However, nothing put forward by the campaign allows users to interact on a more personal level, or create their own content. Wouldn’t it be a more successful campaign if users were uploading their own house party videos, using social network to create a virtual house party, or pulling content onto their own sites?

Moving forward, adidas might consider revising their campaign to make full use of the following online tools:

1. Twitter. Adidas Originals has 108 followers of their Twitter profile. So few because there are zero Tweets coming from adidas Originals. Adidas could quickly start a conversation (and, more importantly, be a part of a conversation) by updating their fans and asking questions of the roughly 8 million people who use Twitter. It’s a small number, relative to Facebook, but Twitter caters to early adopters, young people, and those who like to be on the cutting edge: just the demographics adidas Originals would like to target.

2. Content sharing on the corporate Web site. Adidas should encourage their fans to use House Party to create something original of their own. To do this, adidas could allow fans to download:
  • Art assets including concept art & hi-res logos
  • Site design elements including borders, backgrounds, fonts, and stylesheets
  • Exclusive content: Forum avatars / Messenger images
3. Ning. Why not create an online House Party? Ning allows users to create their own social networking site, which would be the perfect tool for adidas to create an invite-only virtual gathering, where invitees could invite friends, who could invite friends, who could invite friends… just like a real house party.

Interested in learning more about sports business? You might be interested in The Business of Sports, Second Edition.