Last week, I went to the Together Digital 2020 Digital Trends panel. I learned that voice continues to be a powerful force, with more people using smart speakers to search for things. It’s becoming critical that content on websites is set up to answer voice questions. I’m starting to ask my Google Home more and more questions so I can keep learning about voice search.
Thank you to the panelists April Jones, Stephanie (Stevi) Cannon, Sheryl Mckenzie, and the moderator Kimberly Lee Minor, CLSSBB.
My key takeaways from the event:
Always wonder what’s next digitally
Look at what’s happening outside the USA – that’s the future (Example: GDPR, 5G, etc)
The emergence of 5G is coming in 1-2 years, they still need to build infrastructure
Voice is big (like Alexa, Siri, Google Home)
Make sure your website is set up to answer Voice questions
Mark up your website with schema for voice
People are using voice for healthcare “Alexa, remind me to take my pills.” “Hey Google, make a doctor’s appointment for me.”
Create content for voice with long tail conversational tones that answers questions
Today, we need to provide faster customer service, nearly instant because customers are becoming used to this level of service
Digital health apps, like Apple Health or FitBit are collecting tons of data about us, even about single short activities (going on a short run can generate pages and pages of data)
Use data to tell your story
You need cross functional teams, diversity, innovation
What can you do in 8 hours to get closer toward your overall career goal?
Today I went to an AAF Columbus panel discussion about the importance of trust when the brands are big and the stakes are high. I volunteer on the Communications committee of AAF Columbus and was happy my schedule allowed me to attend this luncheon.
The panelists talked about the differences of marketing through an agency versus in-house marketing. I’ve only done brand side marketing so I was very curious to learn more about agency life. Kelly Ruoff advised to try both throughout your career to see which you prefer. This creates a well balanced career, she said, and it can be helpful to know what it’s like on both sides. At an agency, there’s variety in the work but it can feel transactional and less trusting. But with a brand, you can get tired of the repetitiveness.
Alison Bechtel noted that most companies start with, what she called a McGeneralist, who can do a lot of things quickly and do them well. I like to think of myself as a McGeneralist. After that, most companies start looking at hiring outside vendors or agencies to dive deeper.
The panelists talked about how it can be difficult to find the right balance between doing branding work in-house versus hiring an agency. You never want to upset, devalue or offend your in-house team so you need to make sure you’re outsourcing tasks or projects that don’t fit with their strengths, passions or career goals. Partnering with a talented agency can help lay the groundwork for creative and pave the way for future projects, that could potentially move back in-house. Keep in mind that hiring an agency does not count as a marketing strategy. They are partners that help you develop a marketing strategy together.
Recently I watched “The Imagineering Story,” a new docuseries on Disney+ about the history of the Disney theme parks. I grew up going to Disney World every year with my mom and when I wasn’t at the park, I was reading about all things Disney and watching TV specials about the Behind the Scenes of the park. Even to this day, I watch YouTube videos of Disney cast members talking about their experiences. So, “The Imagineering Story” was right up my alley.
As I was watching it, a lot of the senior executives and Imagineers started to say familiar advice that I’ve seen in my career. I was surprised that Disney employees faced similar issues at work. I wanted to take a moment to highlight some of the takeaways and lessons from “The Imagineering Story.”
Encourage Failure and Bad Ideas
The Disney Imagineers, or WED Enterprises as they were formally referred to, were encouraged to take risks. I should stop to clarify that Imagineering is a term unique to Disney and is the combination of creative imagination and technical knowledge.
In Episode 4, called “Hit Or Miss,” Imagineers recalled how in the 1990s there were dedicated teams focused on exploring new technologies, different attraction layouts, and new ride vehicles.
“Succuss is about many many failures,” said Jon Snoddy, an Imagineer with Advanced Development. He goes on to talk about how they created a culture that doesn’t judge if things fail. In fact, they intend to fail! If over half of the projects succeed, then they aren’t trying hard enough. This experimentation helped them when it came time to create Tokyo Disney Sea. I love how much Disney prioritizes and values experimentation and risk. And moreover, how their team leaders support that innovation. That’s where the magic happens.
But, Imagineers aren’t naive. One senior Imagineer, Joe Rohde (the guy with the incredible left ear piercing) acknowledges that Imagineering is very frustrating for business-minded people. There is a permanent tension between Imagineering and the business department. “Core components of creativity do not reconcile with efficiency-based business theory,” he said. How do you balance these two?
This tension is not new. According to Disney folklore, Walt Disney was always asking his brother Roy for more money so he could do more creative ventures and Roy was skeptical and nervous. Roy was business-minded and Walt was creative and risk-taking.
Design for the final level of the marketing funnel
In episode 3 “The Midas Touch” the Imagineers go into detail of how Euro Disneyland, later called Disneyland Paris, was built. They wanted to create the most beautiful Disney theme park and spared no expense.
They returned to their history when building this new park, using tried and true principles. Walt Disney had four levels of detail that he preached to Imagineers. Design Imagineer Coulter Winn describes these principles as:
Detail Level One: You’re in the country, you see over the trees some tall buildings, maybe a church steeple
Detail Level Two: You’ve walked into town, now you’re on Main Street
Detail Level Three: You’re looking closely at the colors and texture of the buildings
Detail Level Four: You’ve gone up to the front door and you’re grabbing the handle, feeling the texture and temperature of the material
All of these detail levels need to work together. Coulter says that at Disney they have to get to Detail Level Four to immerse guests in their story. This is where people fully buy-in and believe what you’re selling.
These different levels of details reminded me of the Buyer’s Journey or Customer Funnel. First, you have the awareness stage when the buyer starts to hear of your brand in the distance, then they become interested and learn more about your brand, thirdly they are intent on buying your product and last they purchase what you’re selling. Just like with Disney’s design levels, your customer journey has to lead them to that purchase or Design Level Four.
You don’t need to re-invent the wheel
With budgets as large as Disney’s it’s hard to think of them scrimping, saving and repurposing things. But, they are first and foremost a corporation focused on pleasing shareholders. I was surprised to learn in Episode 3 “The Midas Touch” that Disney Imagineers reused animatronics and set designs from an old 1974-1988 Disneyland attraction called “American Sings.” The happy singing birds, frogs, turtles, alligators, and rabbits found a new home at a more exciting ride called Splash Mountain. They fit right in next to the other Song of the South characters. Disney probably saved millions in time and money not having to design and build new characters for Splash Mountain.
Take a look back at work you’ve previously made, whether it’s a template built that wasn’t used or a draft of a design. Could you repurpose that work?
Don’t get siloed and stuck in your department
When Imagineers were building Michael Eisner’s Disney’s California Adventures, they worked on a tighter budget than they had on Euro Disneyland. They were also divided between two projects. One team worked on California Adventures while the other worked on the new Tokyo’s Disney Sea, which had a much larger and looser budget.
One Imagineer, Bruce, recalled the short-lived, much hated, ride Superstar Limo and how it was built by Imagineers who were in these tight pods, not consulting with anyone else. They had adopted the mindset of, “This is my attraction.” They stopped checking in with their peers to ask if this was good enough. They lost touch. Whereas, in previous Disney theme parks, rides were built more collaboratively. Superstar Limo only lasted one year and was later remodeled into a Monster’s Inc themed ride.
Take time to chat with or eat lunch with people in other departments at work so you can share what you’re working on and collaborate.
Your work needs to make an impact
One of the head Imagineers for Animal Kingdom, Joe Rhode, stated that he’s most proud of the projects that have a non-entertainment payback within them. He’s proud of the conservation station, a working research lab and a conservation fund that resulted from Animal Kingdom.
Profits, entertainment, metrics aren’t enough to make a long-term meaningful impact. Richer rewards are needed. Who are you helping? How can your work give back to the community?
As a kid at Disney, you don’t think much about how the theme park rides are built. They just kind of appear one day. As you get older, you realize that the project of building a theme park attraction isn’t all that different from working on a project at your work. Everyone has to collaborate, think creatively, first you build a mockup, you try to repurpose things, and you need to have a sense of purpose behind it all.
I thought “The Imagineering Story” would be similar to the “One Day at Disney” movie that blatantly and blindly praised Disney CEO Bob Iger. But no, in “The Imagineering Story,” mistakes are acknowledged. A key takeaway from the docuseries is that when theme parks like Euro Disneyland, California Adventures and Hong Kong Disneyland were built for half the price, to please shareholders, the quality suffered, attendance shrank and guests were not happy. This modern cost-cutting mindset becomes more frustrating knowing it violates Walt Disney’s wishes. Walt is quoted as having said “Disneyland is a work of love. We didn’t go into Disneyland just with the idea of making money.” I hope that in the future, Disney can continue to balance creativity with profitability, in order to continue its legacy and because many other businesses look up to Disney.
Often the impact you make in a role goes beyond what you did as part of your everyday job duties.
I went thrift shopping at Volunteers of America today because I love thrifting. I needed to donate some old coffee mugs and I wanted to see if there were any cute sweaters or dresses. I love to check-in and hunt for unique clothes at the thrift store so when someone compliments me on it I can brag that I found it at a thrift store. The joys of thrifting!
I found some dresses I liked and as I was checking out, the cashier recognized me. “Oh, you’re the girl who put that TV up!” She pointed to the TV on the wall above her where a slideshow was playing.
When I worked at Volunteers of America Ohio & Indiana, in an effort to educate thrifters and distinguish VOA from other for-profit thrift stores, I designed a simple slideshow to inform shoppers that VOA is a non-profit and show photos of clients who have been helped by the proceeds of the store. I took this project upon myself and volunteered to do it. After I made the PowerPoint, I came into the thrift store with a flash drive, stood up on a ladder, plugged the flash drive into the TV, fiddled with the remote and taught the store employees how to turn on the slideshow each day. I did this multiple times in our different stores, To be honest, in the moment, the slideshow felt like an annoyance to me. I had to interrupt my day, drive to the thrift store, mess with a TV when I know very little about TVs or remotes or Input buttons. Sometimes, the TV wouldn’t turn on, the remote wouldn’t work or the TV wouldn’t play my PowerPoint in the format I had saved it in. It was frustrating. I would think, “This isn’t what I signed up for. This is not my job. Someone else should be doing this!”
Older Debbie now knows that likely no one else would’ve made the slideshow and taken the time to install it. I’m now able to take a step back and see how the slideshow has endured after I left VOA. It made me happy to see that the slideshow still plays in the VOA thrift store every day.
The cashier handed my stuff to me and I looked down to see a plastic bag that I recognized. I helped design the bag, hell I even worked with the plastic supplier to get it made. I learned more than I wanted to know about how plastic bags are made and shipped!
The idea for this started as part of an innovation brainstorming session we’d had with different team members in different departments. We needed to find a way to increase thrift store donations. Someone suggested we redesign our bags. The bags could become a tool for future donations if they had our logo, phone number, tagline, website, etc. It sounded like an easy solution to change the bags at first but ended up taking about four months to complete. It was tough to juggle this bag project on top of my other duties especially when I was doing something I’d never done before. It took a lot of persistence but eventually, the thrift stores switched from generic red and white Thank You bags to branded bags, with a meaningful tagline on one side and useful information about how to donate items back to a VOA thrift store.
The impact of my time at VOA can be found not just on the website and social media. In fact, I’m not too sad if no one remembers the social media posts I made. I know I made a lasting impact by working on things outside of my stated job description. I went to meetings, listened to problems that existed, volunteered to raise my hand, thought of creative solutions, tried new ideas and worked with others to make the change happen. I was thinking about this on my drive home and I’m not one to brag but I do need to acknowledge that I did some awesome things for a non-profit that’s dedicated to helping everyone reach their full potential and achieve well being.
Every time I walk into a VOA thrift store, I’m reminded of the impact I made during my time there and I feel so proud.
This December, at MedVet, we ran a digital campaign called The 12 Dangers of Christmas.
This campaign was intended to educate pet owners about potential dangers to their pets, building brand trust and adding value to our audience. The goal was to help MedVet stay top of mind as a leader in specialty and emergency pet health care if a pet owner needs an after-hours emergency this Christmas.
The results of our December social media campaign:
We published 520 posts on Facebook to our audience of 64,348.
Our goal was to get 1,379 Shares across our Facebook pages.
We achieved about 80% of our goal. We got 1,097 Shares.
We also got 3,561 interactions (likes, shares, comments), 240 clicks and 202,520 impressions.
Compare this to the 3,428 Interactions and 501 Shares on our Facebook posts for the November campaign
The October campaign had 2,040 interactions and 850 Shares.
Beyond social media, we wrote a blog post related to this campaign and linked to the blog post in most of our social media posts.
Overview: November is National Pet Cancer Awareness Month and MedVet ran a campaign on social media to engage and educate our audience about cancer in pets. Medical Oncology and Radiation Oncology are unique life-saving services that MedVet hospitals offer to pets.
Goal: See a 15% increase from last month in Shares and Interactions. (Last month we had 8,074 Interactions and 1,464 Shares, so our goal is 9,286 Interactions and 1,683 Shares).
Results: We did not meet our goal. We had 3,428 Interactions and 501 Shares on our Facebook posts for this campaign. For comparison, our October campaign had 2,040 interactions and 850 Shares and was for only 10 days rather than 30 days like this campaign.
Our overall numbers were down for the month of November. All our Facebook posts had 6,334 Interactions and 1,168 Shares. Compared to October, overall we saw a 19% decrease in Interactions and Shares.
I think I underestimated how Share-worthy the Pet Cancer Awareness Month content was. I was surprised at how few Shares and Interactions Titan’s video received as well as some of the infographics. I think perhaps information on pet cancer is less “shareable” than information on keeping your pet safe over the holiday.
In the future, I’m going to prioritize Facebook content about pet owner safety information that’s holiday focused. My next campaign will be focused on the 12 Dangers of Christmas (it’s a veterinarian’s take on the classic 12 Days of Christmas, get it?)
Campaign Assets with screenshots of their posts:
Throughout the month, we also highlighted local patient stories on Facebook.
Before I created graphics for this campaign, I did some research about what other groups had posted. I was really inspired by the graphics that AAHA had created and shared.
So, I’m recently engaged and have been researching reception venues and attending wedding shows to get ideas. With my digital marketing knowledge, I can’t help but think that some of the vendors I’ve interacted with aren’t doing the best marketing they could. I want to take a moment to reflect on what I observe wedding vendors doing and what I think, from a digital marketing perspective, they ought to be doing.
Adjust your CTA for your audience
What they do: At wedding shows, most vendors seem to all have the call-to-action of “Buy Now!” For example, photo booth vendors told me how they were offering a discounted price, but only if I booked today. I was at the bridal show just to browse and to get ideas. I even told the photo booth vendor that I didn’t have a date yet, no venue, but he still gave me his brochure advertising his today-only-deal and wanted me to book him right then. No way, dude!
What they should do: Meet your customers where they are at. At wedding shows especially, switch your CTA to match brides who are in the awareness stage. Make your CTA “Subscribe to my email newsletter for wedding planning tips” or “follow me on Instagram to enter for a chance to win something” so you’re adding value to the bride, and you’re staying top of mind for when she’s ready to book. Maybe some brides are ready to book the photo booth that day, but you need to talk to her first and assume that every bride is in the awareness, not the decision-making stage of the marketing funnel. Measure the success of a bridal show by new website visitors, Instagram followers, and email subscribers, not by the amount of revenue made that day.
Meet in person as soon as possible
What they do: A lot of wedding vendors have a Contact Us page on their website and when someone fills that out, they email the bride back with more information and it becomes this back and forth email chain until eventually, someone stops responding.
What they should do: Immediately offer to meet the bride for coffee. Try to schedule an in-person meeting as soon as your schedules will allow. Vendors who I met in person, I felt a strong connection to and was extremely more likely to book with them. I felt loyal to them, I knew them, I trusted them and wanted to work with them.
For example, When I was looking for a wedding planner, I sent out several emails asking different planners for more information about their services. One of the planners emailed me back the next day asking to meet up for coffee, another planner asked to schedule a phone call, and the third asked me to fill out an online questionnaire. Guess which planner I ended up booking? The one I met in-person. You can’t underestimate the power of a face to face real conversation. I’m reading Sherry Turkle’s “Reclaiming Conversation” right now and her thesis is that young people are losing the ability to hold a conversation and that no amount of technology can replace the power of a face-to-face conversation. I may be young but hell no, I’m not going to sign on a contract with someone I haven’t met face-to-face. I need to meet you in person and feel a connection if I’m going to work with you on my wedding day.
No response from her means don’t send her any more emails
What they do: A bride requests information so the vendor emails the info to the bride. She asks a question, they respond over email. She doesn’t respond again. The vendor then sends her emails with additional pictures of the venue, additional information, additional dates, etc. These emails continue, once a week, if not more. Eventually, the bride marks the emails as spam, hurting the vendor’s email domain reputation.
What they should do: Listen to your customer. Respect their wishes if they don’t want to hear from you. If they don’t ask you any follow-up questions or request a tour, assume this means they are thinking about it. They’ll let you know if they have questions! You risk damaging your reputation and coming off as difficult to work with if you badger brides with continuous emails. It’s a delicate balance between one follow up email a week or two after your first email and then no follow up. I’d lean toward no follow-up, because from my perspective, no follow up will change my mind.
Don’t use scare tactics
What they do: At bridal shows, I hear vendors ask questions designed to spark fear and insecurity. “Do you know what you’re going to do for your first dance?” “When’s the big day?” “Where are you getting married?” “How will your guests remember your big day?” “Have you booked this yet? Time’s running out!” “Have you thought of what you’ll do with your wedding dress after your big day?” “Did you know fall is the busiest wedding season?” “Good luck choosing 10.10.2020!” Ack!
What they should do: Ask questions to get to know the bride, not scary questions that will only stress her out even more. Build a relationship with her. Don’t just talk to her like she’s a clueless pile of cash. I wanted to hear more vendors ask general simple questions like “Where are you with your wedding planning?” “How’s the wedding planning going?” This question allows me to volunteer the information I feel comfortable sharing and my answer doesn’t make me feel bad.
Acknowledge how you got my email address
What they do: After I attended my first wedding show, I suddenly got all these emails from vendors I had never heard of. No introduction, no explanation of how they got my email, just a cold hard sales pitch.
What they should do: Acknowledge that you got my email from the wedding show and tell me you’re adding me to your email newsletter. Give me the option to unsubscribe, front and center. In this age of increased data privacy and customers trusting brands and businesses less and less, be transparent with your customers about how you obtain your marketing data.
Follow up by email or phone
What they do: I talk to a vendor in person, we connect, I ask for a follow-up, they say they will, and then I never hear from them.
What they should do: Stay true to your word. Follow-up with a bride you connected with by email the next day. Remind her what you talked about, give her additional details, and thank her for her time. Do what you told her you were going to do and follow up by email when you say you will.
If you really want to knock it out of the park, try answering her email with a phone call. Depending on the bride, she could be impressed by your dedication and appreciate the ease of a phone call rather than a long email. I experienced this where I emailed a vendor with questions, he called me 15 minutes later to answer my questions and we ended up talking for 30 minutes and of course, I booked a tour.
One more note is that I’m always impressed by businesses in the wedding industry who treat their customers like human beings. I think the venue, The Henry Manor, did this best with their plain-text follow-up email to attendees of a bridal show. Note how in the second paragraph they state how they want to earn my business. That was so refreshing to read because it contrasted all the other wedding emails I’d received. I appreciated this down to earth email:
I hope you found this informative and hey, if you know of any wedding vendors in Columbus, I’m in the market!
I like social media marketing because I’m always learning and experimenting. The main ingredient of a strong social media strategy should be innovation.
Recently, I shared on MedVet’s Facebook pages a recipe for dog treats, as part of a larger Halloween Pet Safety campaign. I got the idea from another animal hospital’s Facebook page and saw the high levels of engagement their post was getting. So, in Canva, I made this graphic for Facebook and added this post to my content calendar in Google Sheets. I made sure to give credit in the lower right-hand corner to the blog where I got the recipe from.
Sharing a treat recipe was something MedVet had never done before. I knew our audience loved pet safety tips, education, and helpful insights. From tracking the best performing post each week, I knew those types of posts had performed well in the past. I was pretty confident this recipe would be something of value to our followers and would be appreciated. My hypothesis paid off and the post was a success across our 24 Facebook pages, getting as many as 63 shares! I hope to share other treat recipes in the future, perhaps themed for Thanksgiving or Christmas.
I want to talk about the Halloween Pet Safety social media campaign I ran for MedVet. Campaign Goal: Increased brand awareness. Make sure MedVet is top of mind for pet owners in case their pet faces an after-hours medical emergency. We will measure the number of post shares.
Over October 20-31, our goal is to see a 15% increase in the number of Shares on all Facebook Pages
From September 20-30, 2019, we saw 286 total Shares on Facebook across all our Pages, so our goal was to see an increase of 43 shares, so we aim to see 329 Shares.
Campaign Results: On November 3, I looked at the analytics to see how many Shares across all our 24 Facebook Pages these Halloween Pet Safety posts had gotten.
I used HubSpot to schedule the posts and track the success of the campaign. In HubSpot, I marked each post related to this campaign “Halloween 2019” so I could easily pull a report only on posts for the campaign
We far exceed our goal of 329 Shares. We got 845 Shares!
Purpose: To use our emergency veterinary expertise to educate pet owners about the dangers of pets accidentally ingesting chocolate.
Our desired reaction from the campaign was for users to share the Facebook post with their friends and family. We also want them to remember the key idea that MedVet is open 24/7 in case of a pet emergency and provides expert
Opportunity: Become the trusted source for accurate and easy-to-share pet safety information on Facebook.
When: October 20-31 on MedVet’s 24 Facebook pages
Target audience: Pet owners and those who currently like a MedVet Facebook page
Tone: Knowledgable, expert, pet-loving
Even in small amounts, chocolate may cause serious health problems if ingested by your pet. Chocolate toxicity can
cause vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate, heart failure, seizures, and in some cases even death.
While chocolate is a favorite treat of ours, it can be harmful, sometimes fatal, to our canine companions. With
Halloween right around the corner, please remember to keep all chocolate and other candy, such as raisins, sugar-free
candy, and sugar-free gum, safely out of reach of curious noses!
Dogs and cats are particularly sensitive to a chemical in chocolate, coffee and tea called theobromine. Theobromine is found in very high levels in bakers and dark chocolate. If a dog eats a lot or is a smaller dog, milk chocolates can
cause problems too. Be careful when you have chocolate in your home and keep your four-legged friends far away from Halloween baskets this year!