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Original articles from Elaine Reed.
Sometimes it’s Better to Just Rip off the Bandage
Refreshing the look of a brand is no small task. Not only is it a huge undertaking for the company, rolling out the new look can be almost traumatic for consumers. Remember when Gap tried a new logo in 2010 and quickly changed it back? Between the bad press and the stressed-out customers, who wants to go through that? Clearly not Sears. Since it acquired Land’s End in 2002, Sears has been trying to update its image from the place where men get their tools to a place women are excited to visit, too.

Taco Bell’s Breakfast Phone is on to Something: Mail
Last week Taco Bell started mailing out what it is calling Breakfast Phones to 1000 fans and influencers. The idea is that Taco Bell uses the phone to send people on “missions” that largely promote its new breakfast menu, which will officially debut on March 27. Initially the idea has been successful because we’re all talking about it. But this campaign has touched on something that probably hasn’t been in regular rotation since AOL finally stopped mailing CDs to the suburbs in 2006.

Go Ahead, Tweet Your Prediction
Last week Mashable reported that Twitter growth has hit a steady decline. This report started all kinds of speculation about the death of Twitter, much the same way that at least once a year someone predicts that email is dead. And then the Oscars happened. During the pre-show all of the people working...

3 Ways to Stay True to Your Brand and Still Use Trendy Social Media Outlets
Instagram, Vine, Pinterest, YouTube; it seems that new visual mediums pop up almost as frequently as new Kardashian reality shows. And they all enforce the adage “a picture is worth a thousand words.” But will any picture or video do the trick for you? Here’s a few tips to help you make sure that your best sales tool...

How Hard Should Your Customers Work for Loyalty Rewards?
There was a time when I worried that if I lost my wallet, I would lose all of my credit cards. These days, I only ever carry my debit card with me unless I know I will need my credit card. However, the idea that I will lose all of my loyalty cards does irk me. It has taken time to rack up all of the points or rewards on each of those cards.

Grey Poupon Takes Quality Over Quantity Seriously
Have you ever wondered how Grey Poupon would market their fancy mustard in the age of automatic car windows? I know I did. Today the answer to that question lies with Facebook. While I’ve not seen a commercial for Grey Poupon in years (full disclosure: I watch very little tv; my family tends to hog it,) over the past week or so I have seen a lot of buzz about Grey Poupon’s fan page on Facebook.

Neiman Marcus Rewards Regular Email Readers
Neiman Marcus is one of those top tier brands that doesn’t often get associated with brands like Macy’s or Kohl’s that are constantly holding sales. They are more closely aligned with Nordstrom’s, who famously only has sales twice a year. But they have managed to take the elite nature of their products and combined them with email to come up with a magic formula that gets people to open and take action on their emails. How? They call it the Daily Dash. Monday through Friday from 11:30 CT until 1:29 CT...

3 Ways to Show Your Customers That You Like Them
A common perception in the marketing world is that you show your appreciation for your customers by offering sales and discounts. The simple fact of the matter is that this only shows that you like their money. If you truly want to build and maintain loyalty, you need to take a few extra steps.

Email Segmenting: Only as Effective as Your Message
List segmentation is a tried and true way to maximize an email list. Basic segmentation includes location, specific interests and order history. Segment by order history seems like a no brainer. If a customer ordered a refillable product, they get a message just before the typical refill time. If they ordered a product that has new accessories or upgrades, they get an email.

How a Summer Reading List Can Get Results for Your Site
With big thanks to my mom, I have always loved books. But like most kids, I groused about Summer Reading Lists. Sometimes it was because I wanted to read when I wanted to, not because I had to have a book done by a deadline. Sometimes it was because the books on the list held no appeal to me whatsoever. Mostly it was because I wanted to pick whatever I wanted to read. As an adult I have a whole new appreciation for summer reading and create a list for myself every year. Yes, I am that much of a nerd.

Are You Truly Utilizing Mobile Marketing?
It’s no secret that smart phones have taken multitasking to a whole new level. Companies have responded with a bevy of options including websites formatted for mobile phones and tablets, and apps designed to showcase key content and make doing business quick and convenient. But what about email marketing? In 2011 studies showed that fewer than 25% of emails were read on a mobile device. But with the growth of tablet and smartphone usage, that number is starting to rise. Plus, people are using fewer apps. Smartphones have a limited memory capacity, which means that people wind up deleting non-essential apps. What do they keep? Their email apps.

How Not to Introduce Ads into Your App
Full disclosure: I love the weather. I love checking the weather, looking at the maps, and taking my guess at what the weather will be for the next few days. Naturally, when I got a smartphone, the first app I downloaded was from The Weather Channel. (Jim Cantore was my big college crush.) What I love about the app is that it takes the best features of the TWC website and puts them at my fingertips: current weather, hourly projections, a ten-day forecast, maps, and even a pollen report. Recent app upgrades have included a special page for severe weather alerts, videos, and updates from Twitter. At first I found the Twitter updates to be silly, but over time I've become amused by them. he TWC app doesn’t pull tweets from a trending tag; they use an algorithm.

The Facebooking of Foursquare
Now that the hubbub of the Facebook IPO has mostly died down, Foursquare has rolled out a new version to iOS users, with the Android and Blackberry versions soon to follow. Since Foursquare has been hinting about this new version since January, users were expecting big changes. Big changes did come, though they were mostly in the look and feel department. Foursquare did add some cool functionality — better maps with friends’ current locations, as well as recently visited venues plotted and a new “explore” feature that recommends places based on day, time, weather, and check-ins and recommendations from friends. The features that really stood out to me are the ones that originally appeared on Facebook.

Five Email Subject Lines That Need to Go the Way of the Dinosaurs
While people debate whether or not email is dying, billions of messages are still sent every day. You would think that with literally billions of opportunities, email marketers would have perfected the art of the subject line. Sadly, email has either become so mainstream that companies don’t dedicate an experienced writer to develop their email copy, or we’ve all gotten a little lazy.

Peapod’s New Virtual Shopping Uses M-Commerce to Reinforce Brand Identity
The online grocery store, Peapod, has taken their main value proposition to a new level. Peapod began as an online grocery service designed to help out people who weren’t able to make it to the supermarket on a regular basis. Now Peapod is taking their program to the next level. Rather than requiring shoppers to go to Peapod.com, they are bringing the store to them in the form of virtual shopping: the company has set up virtual stores in several Chicago El stations.

You Don’t Need a Big Budget to Get Traction with Video
More and more businesses are using video to get more attention and action from their target markets. But many small businesses are avoiding video because of the cost involved in a quality production. There has been an interesting development in video. Quick, “homemade” videos are rising in popularity.

Editorial Calendars: They’re Not Just for Ad Buys
Those of us with a background in traditional Marketing are familiar with Editorial Calendars for ad placements and even article submissions. But this traditional tool can help make a Social Media strategy really hum. Here are a few reasons you should take the time to develop your own calendar, distribute it and refer to it every day.

5 Types of Content to Put on Your Business Facebook Page
Social Media has fundamentally changed the way companies market. And for good reason: studies show that people are more likely to do business with a company that their friends or family recommend to them. But how does a company land on that go-to referral list? The days of picking the first name out of the phone book or defaulting to the local service provider are long gone. The Internet has made consumer options endless and posed new challenges for marketers.

How Old School Marketing Supports New School Marketing
Mobile Marketing has been on the radar for a while now, with Marketers trying to figure out the best way to make it work for their products. Whether it is advertising on mobile networks, developing a mobile site or creating a full-blown app, the possibilities are wide and often expensive. So how does a marketer on a shoe-string budget get started? Look at ScoutMob.

Change is in the Air: Rethinking Your Presence on Facebook and Google
Today Facebook officially rolls out Timeline for business pages. Ready or not, businesses are being forced to rethink their pages if they want to continue to have and grow success there. The same is true of search. At this year’s South by Southwest conference, there was a lot of talk about more changes to Google’s search algorithm.

It’s Time to Get Graphic
Whether it’s because of the massive amounts of data and content that are developed every day, or just that people really like USA Today’s approach, graphic representations are popping up everywhere. In fact, the latest social media darling, Pinterest, proves it daily. But we don’t have to look to modern media to see that graphics capture attention.

Justin Bieber Makes a Funny
Full disclosure: I am 35 and not even remotely interested in Justin Bieber. But this morning he posted a pretty funny tweet, and while I do not follow him, one of the people I follow on Twitter does and retweeted his comment. Here it is: “dear cougars. i see the jokes. i’m legal. hahaha” Not only did Justin’s tweet make me chuckle, it got me thinking. (And no, it didn’t get me thinking about Justin being legal, or wondering whether Selena Gomez is relieved that she’s no longer hanging out with jail bait. Well. Okay about the Selena thing.)

New Facebook Ad Format Could Provide Even More Bang for the Buck
Fast Company is reporting that Facebook plans to update its ad formats this spring. While advertisers will still have the targeting tools that help make Facebook ads so successful, the new format calls for less copy from the advertiser and more from their fans. Why the change? Studies show that people are more likely to buy from a brand that has been recommended by a peer.

How Toastmasters Can Improve Your Social Media Posts
If you’ve ever had to take a Speech or Debate class in school, you probably learned some basic tenets like “Know your material,” and “Practice your speech ahead of time so that you don’t trip over your words.” Basic tips for giving speeches can also be applied to your social media content. No, you don’t have to practice your tweets in front of a mirror or picture all of your readers in their underwear, but keeping some of these tips in mind can make your content better.

What Star Wars Can Teach Us About Poisoning the Well
In case you haven’t heard, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace is out in 3-D this week. In fact, the first screenings have already aired as you read this. I'll be following movie news over the next few weeks to see how it performs — not because I’m a huge Star Wars fan, but because all of the big fans I know say they are not going to see the The Phantom Menace in 3D. What made their statements especially notable to me is that just about all of them said they would pay to see all six of the movies on the big screen again, but in the original formats. When I asked if they were turned off by the 3D edition because the tickets are expensive or if they feared the quality of the 3D they all said no. They liked the movies as they were when they were originally released.

It's a Topsy-Turvy World
For years now we’ve watched our lives slowly move from ink and paper to digital archives. It seems inevitable. Digital can be easier to organize. Is faster and often far more reliable than handwriting. But as we move closer and closer to a paper-free world, an interesting thing is happening. People want paper. And not just any people: the people who don’t remember life before email.

Why Smart Marketers Love the Super Bowl
The Super Bowl is my busiest workday of the year. No, I don’t have a job on the side as a waitress or bartender at my local sports bar. (Imagine the tips!) I am way too uncoordinated to balance a tray of wings and beer, so I stick to what I do best. I set up my computer with several monitors and the TV and marry my clients’ messaging to what’s going on during the game.

Back to Basics: What Social Media Can and Cannot Do for Marketers
I recently heard a peer say that if she could start her business all over again, the only tool she would use to generate leads and sales is email. I am an email marketer at my core, so that statement warmed my heart. But at the same time, it triggered some skepticism, too. Yes, email is a fantastic and highly effectively marketing tool. And part of what makes it so awesome is that it is pretty cheap to do. But we shouldn’t totally toss the idea of social media.

What's in a Tweet? Money.
Since the launch of Google+, it seems like it and Facebook have been the primary focus of many business marketing articles. I can appreciate why, especially since there have been so many comparisons between the two and speculation that Google+ could be a Facebook killer. But I’ve noticed a thread that seems to run through all of these stories. Whenever a marketing expert is quoted in or contributes to these articles, you rarely see links to their Google+ or Facebook pages.

In 2012 Corporate Giving is No Longer a Business Footnote
In years past, corporations made donations both locally and nationally and really didn’t make a big deal about it. It was just part of business: a tax write-off, a way to grease the wheels with communities where they operated. Sometimes they would publish a list, sometimes they wouldn’t. Sometimes the charities they donated to were near and dear to someone at the company. Sometimes they were just well known with a decent track record. Those days are coming to an end. Corporations are still donating to charities, but now they’re taking a completely different approach. Rather than seeing it as just a thing they do as part of the administrative side of their business, they are weaving it into their culture.

Facebook Marketing in 2012: Mastering Timing
When Facebook rolled out their new changes earlier this year, one of the big modifications was how updates appear in users’ timelines. Instead of seeing the most recent posts upon logging in, Facebook now sorts posts by what they deem as the most popular. Updates from people you interact with often get priority, followed by posts that get the most likes, comments, or shares. The remaining updates fall in line after those. Facebook does give the option to switch between the most recent and most popular posts, and even provides tools to de-prioritize or hide stories from the timeline. So how do brands get the interaction that will propel them to the top of the list? The most important factor is relevancy of content.

National Free Shipping Day: Should Marketers Bite?
Since Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we’ve been seeing tons of headlines espousing how wildly successful these shopping days have been. Well, we’ve got one more shopping event this year: the lesser known, but coveted by online spend thrifts, Free Shipping Day. Free Shipping Day began in 2008 and falls on December 16 this year. While this shopping event is only four years old, last year Free Shipping Day was the “third largest online shopping day in U.S. history” and has received media attention from national print and broadcast outlets. So far over 1,800 merchants have agreed to participate this year. (You can find the complete list on the official website.) To get added to the directory, a qualified agent of the e-store has to register with a brief description of their site, the free shipping offer, and a coupon code.


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