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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

Satisfying when it all comes together

There are few markets as brutally competitive as automobile retailing. There is excess manufacturing capacity with too many retailers selling identical products and fighting over easily aggravated consumers. This is an ideal testing ground for fresh and more disciplined approaches to marketing communications.

The president of Sisley Motors, Hugh Sisley, retained us in February to help build two dealerships – Honda in Thornhill and Hyundai in Ajax. Since then we have relaunched the brand, refreshed the corporate identity, changed the advertising, developed a dozen promotions and launched new websites. How is it all working out?

Helping families find homes for cars, Sisley, family driven, dealership

Helping families find homes for cars

Frankly… better than we anticipated. Used vehicle sales have broken the record. New vehicle sales overtaking other dealers. Winter tire sales way up.

We are looking forward to generating more momentum this coming year.

New media: we’re all drowning in content

My passion is flying. On weekends I get a thrill hopping into a little Cessna and wandering around the countryside at 4,000 feet. I wanted to share my passion with aspiring pilots, so in the summer I started a blog.

From working with our clients I’ve always known that it isn’t easy to create and keep up social media. I’ve now learned that it is vastly more difficult to do so recreationally. The reason isn’t a lack of content. I’m too busy–and recreation too often takes a back seat to ‘things that can’t wait’ or ‘must be done’.

This experience has taught me a valuable lesson: marketers can become like doctors who only see the illness, and overlook the person.READ MORE



Mindcamp is an annual get-together for creative professionals held just North of Toronto. This year I facilitated a collaborative workshop on creative video to encourage participants to learn how to capitalize on this rapidly advancing mode of communication. We created this short video that answers the question, What is Mindcamp?

Produced in our collaborative video workshop

Google’s 7 strategies

Google is an unbelievably successful company because of its clean implementation of new technologies. It is also successful because it is a savvy marketer. It does not follow the traditional paths of packaged goods marketers and yet, especially for a technology company, its communications are human and focused. Ed Keller in his blog on Jack Myers reports on Google’s Seven Rules for Building Brands.

Google’s Superbowl spot – simple and human – remarkably so for a tech company

Google’s Superbowl spot of the Parisian love affair is an example of simple communications that delivers emotionally. Here is the site where they encourage their audience to create their own stories.

Branding: a lure and a seed

Last week I gave a presentation to the Canadian Duty Free Association on modern approaches to creating value. The point that I aimed to communicate was that traditional marketing tactics often do not create much long-term value unless they emanate from a brand focus, which is comprised of a name, a benefit and a supporting narrative.

To help explain the principles I often use the metaphor of a fishing lure. In order to catch fish the hook has to be sharp (i.e. it has to be focused) and it has to be appealing to the fish (by communicating a benefit). However, this metaphor doesn’t help explain why approaches like price promotion that increase sales in the short run, do little to create brand value.

Patron Tequila, alcohol, liquor, premium

Which are quality and which poison?