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Impressive digital and social media performance for Duty Free

Duty Free Canada is a group of retail stores that sell products to cross-border travellers free of tax and duty. They’re located on the Canadian-side of the Canada-US border.

The store owners have been striving to educate travellers, particularly Canadian travellers, that they can indeed stop at a Duty Free store before visiting the US. Many Canadians believe that this is not possible. Travellers are also often confused by the customs allowance limits. Government has not done a great job clarifying this.

To address these two issues, we’re working with Duty Free to raise their profile and simplify the complexity of the customs regulations using innovative online tools, social media and now, a national campaign. As a result, they have seen vast improvements across a wide array of metrics: search engine ranking, newsletter signups, Twitter followers, Facebook followers and questions & comments submitted online.READ MORE

Campy, amusing communication that works

We have all been subjected to pre-flight safety messages hundreds of times. How many have we actively paid attention to? In my case, none. Here is Air New Zealand’s campy, funny version.

This is the only one I have ever paid attention to. It is hilarious and fun to try and pick out which of the dancers is the airline’s CEO (hint: yellow shorts, purple headband).

Put ourselves in the position of the marketing executive who approved this execution. How many of us would have the courage to make fun of the serious subject of airline safety? How many of us would have backed off fearing we would be criticized for wasting money on a gay, non-revenue producing expenditure?

Now that the video has gone viral and is raising the profile of the airline it is easy to imagine we would have OK’d the budget. In reality very few executives have the training and courage to champion the creation of communications as risky and self-confident as this.


How can Small to Medium Sized Businesses use social media effectively?

On February 17th, the American Marketing Association held a round table discussion on creating maximum social media impact for Small to Medium Sized Businesses (SMBs). I attended the lively discussion and took away a lot of insightful advice from the panelists. I’ve outlined some of the themes I think are important for SMBs to know.

Should I get on the ‘social media bandwagon’?

It’s important to have a better reason than “my competitors are on Twitter / LinkedIn / Facebook.” Here’s a list of some good reasons to get your company involved in social media:

  • Improve customer service relations (see: Domino’s video apology)
  • Create strong organic search results for your other marketing activities
  • Empower your freelancers and employees
  • Leverage social media for HR/recruitment
  • Generate online testimonials and reviews
  • Organic search results
  • Awareness


Search behaviour hasn’t changed

We expect too much of Google

“Why isn’t my site number one on Google?” is a popular question. Occasionally, it’s because of poor content or mediocre meta-content, but usually it’s because the site doesn’t have a traffic building or awareness program behind it. The site is just…there.

It is a strange question to ask because it sounds like this, “well, I’m on the web, so I should be found.” It’s as if we expect Google to be perfectly accurate with immediate and fair results for everyone.

A marketing analogy is this: just because you’re on the shelf, doesn’t mean the shopper is going to pick up your product. The best product, or website, will die a lonely death without something to help people learn about it, and most importantly, share their views about it.READ MORE


Last night (Dec. 7th, 2010) the Marketing Planning Group of the American Marketing Association hosted a networking and learning event called Deciding the right mix in a new world of exploding choices. The fundamental question was this: how can marketers balance new and old media in terms of their budget and resource planning?

On the panel to address this question were senior marketing professionals from: Rogers Communications, Astral Media, Aeroplan, Shoutlet, M Consulting and the United Jewish Appeal.

new media, panel, ama,

AMA Panelists and the moderator Alan Kay

While every situation is unique and will call for different tactics, this is the answer I took away from the event.


Season’s greeting social experiment

OK. In the left corner we have a greying, slightly overweight fighter – his name is Mr. Impressions. In the right corner there’s a cocky newcomer. She’s clever – maybe too clever for her own good. Her name is Miss Social.

Christmas, card, viral, plaat,

Miss Social. Cocky and confident. Perhaps over-confident.

At Beakbane we have been creating seasons’ greeting cards for the last 24 years and sending them to our friends, clients and to thousands of names in our database who are possibly disinterested.

Our usual greeting card features a clear message that is topical, sometimes a little funny and, to some, bad taste. Prominently displayed is our name, address, URL etc. Think of this as Mr. Impressions. But this year we are trying something new and going with Miss Social. She is, so to speak, wearing little clothing and sporting just a cryptic message, “plaat”, that can be deciphered if Googled. The organic search result (we hope) leads to a wee greeting on YouTube.

Let the competition begin.

Who will win? The tried and true, but tired approach. Or Miss Social who thinks that recipients of the card will be inquisitive enough to Google her. Why? Cos doesn’t everyone Google everything?

You can find the we wish you plaat video here.

Deciding the right mix in a new world of exploding choices

Social media, advanced technology, facebook, twitter, google, netflix, itunes, yelp, skype, msn, digital technologies

The American Marketing Association is hosting a networking and learning event in Toronto on Dec. 7th.

In the world of old connections determining the right marketing mix was more certain. Marketers had more control, understood the costs and could predict the impact of a campaign.

However, social networks, online video, mobile advertising, geo-location are connecting marketers and customers in increasingly important (and often unpredictable) ways.READ MORE