Author Archive

Book Review: Brand esSense

Posted by on Sunday, 20 April, 2014

Brand-esSenseI actually finished Brand esSense by Neil Gains a few weeks ago. I’m glad I fell behind with reviews though. Last week a friend and I chatted about the popularity of a branding session at the recent Market Mix conference. We couldn’t understand why marketers are confused by branding, when it’s essentially unchanged since the 1940s. That’s when brands were first described as anthropological concepts.

Without that discussion, I would have deemed Brand esSense an overly academic, deep read in a short book. It is an academic deep read in 232 pages, but it’s also an excellent bridge between the sensory aspects of brand and how they are used with current marketing tactics.

Who is Brand esSense for?

This needs answering a tad earlier than usual. Brand esSense is for the experienced marketers, like the ones at Market Mix. The ones with brand theory knowledge. This book skips the basics and jumps straight into the psychology behind the components of brands. It’s a heavy book.

Does it Really Go That Deep?

Yes, it does. After reading this book you’ll know which colors elicit anger, why to use smell, and creating archetypes, among others. See, I said it’s detailed.

The detail makes it a hard hard read. It’s also not linear so concepts jump around, which can be confusing. Archetypes is one. While this sounds nasty, especially when you look at other books like Seth Godin’s lighter reads, I recommend Brand esSense, just for a more academic read or experienced marketer. The detail includes some amazing research. Both scientific research and case studies explain and show how each concept helps form a brand.

And if Brand esSense gets too dry, skip to chapter eight. It’s a great summary of the book and gives enough detail to stand on its own.

Note: Being an Australian in the US meant the play on essence really confused me. I’ve been i the US long enough now to confuse Australian/UK English and did actually check spelling before posting this. Tangent, but I hope you weren’t confused too.

Guess Who’s a HootSuite Brand Ambassador?

Posted by on Sunday, 13 April, 2014

HootSuite-Brand-AmbassadorHey, I’m in social media. I’m a marketer. I love to share and promote great products. That’s why I’ve joined the HootSuite Brand Ambassador program.

You all know the benefits of a strong community for brands. It’s a free extension of your PR team, word of mouth by peers is more trusted than your marketing messages, the list goes on. HootSuite have done this very well, and globally. Last year the volunteer HootSuite Brand Ambassadors held more than 150 HootUps (events) in 22 countries. That’s in addition to participation in online chats, creating links and mentions, and personal recommendations. I challenge you to put a dollar value to that.

What do I Get for Joining the HootSuite Brand Ambassador Team?

I do score a few perks. My HootSuite University and Pro memberships are comped for three months, a bunch of swag, a significant discount on the Newhouse Advanced Social Media Strategy certificate, inclusion in a active community, and the privilege of bragging about it.

Pretty good for what I’d do for free.

Is This Why I Switched from Sprout Social?

No. The switch and becoming certified with HootSuite University both occurred before I knew about the HootSuite Brand Ambassador program.

Around the time I wrote about my content curation process, we switched up the PSAMA social media process. We needed team members to have access to all our profiles, and at $40 per user, per month Sprout Social was just too expensive. I love their analytics and reporting, but I don’t feel I can ask volunteers to pay a subscription and I can’t justify it enough for the chapter to pay. HootSuite Pro gives me an additional user with the $9.95 per month fee. Even with adding HootSuite University I was financially ahead.

What’s Next?

Planning has started for #HootUpSEA – a Seattle gathering. There are a few other ambassadors local and we’re working together. Add search stream #HootUpSEA for updates. Also, I join in the weekly #HSUChat (soon to become #HSChat). It’s Tuesdays at 11am Pacific and a great conversation open to all. Even if I find the topic not relevant to me (last week was social media second screening television), I follow and get a tip or two.

If you have any HootSuite or social media questions, feel free to Tweet me at @BiancaJSmith. Or just Tweet to say hi.

Finally, the HootSuite Ambassador program is accepting applications for all regions. Complete the application form, and don’t forget to tell them I sent you.

PS, Seattle HootSuite users: do you want a content or purely social #HootUpSEA? Let me know in the comments.

The One Year Rule: aka Happy Anniversary to Me

Posted by on Sunday, 6 April, 2014

One-year-ruleI don’t know where I heard about the one year rule for new businesses. I may be making it up, but for the last few months I’ve believed it to exist.

The rule is that it takes one year until a business is successful.

Technically, Tap Dancing Spiders is nearly five years old, but last week was the first anniversary of it being my full-time gig.

What have I learned in the last year?

  1. Sometimes my best isn’t enough. Budgets change, contracts fall through. It’s not personal on me, despite how it may feel. Smile, offer to help in the future, and move on. Keep it positive and they’ll come back.
  2. Take that chance. Yes, it’s scary and it may fail, but I’ve learned things and met people you wouldn’t have otherwise.
  3. The right tools make my day so much easier. This includes FreeAgent - my accounting package, HootSuite Pro, Google Calendar, and my web hosting with IvyCat.
  4. Relationships matter. Whether it’s professional relationships or personal, I need them. I’ve gained projects through professional connections, knowledge shared with all, and most importantly, I’ve learned how much my friends mean to me and I to them.
  5. And the final one is from a Doctor Who quote: We’re all stories in the end. Just make it a good one, eh. It’s been a roller coaster ride, and while it’s starting to steady out, I know there are more dips and turns to come. I’m actually looking forward to writing a book of my experiences, just not yet.

So thank you to all whom I’ve met, worked with, laughed with, … cried with… over the last year. The one year rule is real. Let’s have cupcakes to celebrate.

Clarification on the full-time gig thing. Yes, I was full-time on Tap Dancing Spiders when I left Australia, but that was just temporary while I resettled. This time it’s for keeps.

Book Review: The Power of Visual Storytelling

Posted by on Thursday, 3 April, 2014

The-Power-of-Visual-StorytellingWow, The Power of Visual Storytelling launched with a bang.

My Twitter feed during SXSW was filled with praise for Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio’s new book. In the book, there are endorsements from power names, including Gary Vaynerchuk, Guy Kawasaki, and Charlene Li.

With these high expectations, what’s The Power of Visual Storytelling about?

It’s 221 pages of stats, profiles, and recent case studies of social media campaigns. I especially loved Ekaterina’s personal experiences with @BenefitBeauty’s #BeautyBoost campaign.

The call-out boxes off each social media platform make the book a valuable resource, for now at least. We all know that social media is dynamic and it’s often hard to get a conclusive profile and how-to for each platform. I applaud the research that went into this.

Who is The Power of Visual Storytelling for?

This question was tricky at first because I overlooked the sub-title and was expecting a book on actually story telling and using visuals to tell narrative. You know, all the hero’s journey and overcoming adversary etc. This book comes after that. There’s a short chapter on the benefits of storytelling, but if you’re looking for more on storytelling, check out Nancy Duarte’s books.

For the next few months, The Power of Visual Storytelling is a brilliantly useful resource show how to tactically use images on social media. Just get in quick, before facebook makes a major change… again.

What’s your ROI?

Posted by on Tuesday, 11 March, 2014

What's your ROIMy first marketing lecturer, Dr Mario Miranda, taught me the relationship between price and quality. His example was a Waterman pen versus a Bic disposable. While my tastes are more Mont Blanc, the premise stands. Why do we choose Apple, Nordstrom and Mercedes Benz?

Why don’t we apply the same premise to ourselves? What’s your ROI? Does your price equal your quality?

I was chatting with a colleague last night about clients wanting expert work done at junior rates. We’ve all encountered it, “I’d love to hire you but [insert name] is $500 cheaper.” On eLance, I’m asked to pitch for work at hourly rates lower than the minimum wage in that country. The RFPs are filled with “expert” and “top performing”.

As marketers, we have a choice to make. We can take the work and discount our rates, or we can walk away. We can decide if we see ourselves as a Kia or a Mercedes Benz. In other words, what’s your ROI?

I know you’re thinking, “There’s more to the job than money, Bianca”, and I agree. Sometimes it’s a job title, resume points, or brand names that make up the difference. I’m doing some work currently that gives me studio photography experience. But that’s part of the ROI calculation. I gain experience and a small amount of cash; they get product photography.

It’s when the returns don’t equal or exceed investment (in this case you) it harms the entire industry. Precedents get set, your price goes down and you turn from Apple to Samsung. It’s hard to recover from this, and near impossible if it’s across the industry.

Yes, this was written as a vent over a recent situation, but also because walking away from a particular project was one of the hardest things I’ve done. The ROI figure just wasn’t a good result and saying yes now will mean it gets pushed further and further with each contract renewal. I hope I’m never in this situation again.

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