6 Tips for Pitching with an Edge

This blog post can also be found on: bladecreativebranding.com.

Editors:
Wayne S. Roberts, President at Blade Creative Branding
Joshua Murray, Social Media Manager at Blade Creative Branding

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                Image Source: https://www.rolanddga.com

The Pitchers 

In May, I attended “Startup Grind Pitch Night.”, a night dedicated to interactive pitches that help entrepreneurs showcase their companies to potential customers and investors. For more information on Startup Grind Toronto Pitch Night, visit: www.startupgrind.com.

At the event, 9 of Toronto’s best startups pitched their company to a panel of 3 judges and an audience of over 50 people for approximately 45 minutes. Pitch Night is as much about the inspiration for the audience as it is about the innovation behind the ideas. From a company that monitors health from your bedsheets, to an app that puts a truck in your pocket, here are the 3 pitches that I believe were the best of the night:

3. Fetch It! – (The App That Puts A Truck In Your Pocket)Matthew Karabela, CEO
Fetch It! connects you with a pickup, van or truck owner and within moments of their acceptance of the job, you receive the most up-to-date notifications on who is driving, what car they are driving and their estimated arrival time.
Website: https://www.gofetchit.ca/

2. Props Athletics – Lauren Siegal, Founder
Lauren Siegal has created a product that places an emphasis on the efficiency of your workout routine. The glove uses Coolmax yarn to wipe away sweat, as well as signature fingerprint silicon to provide you with a better grip.

Website: http://www.propsathletics.com/

1. Studio 1 Labs – Edward Shim, Co-CEO
Edward and his team use fabric sensor technology in healthcare and human interaction, emergency triage, retail, environmental scanning and data analysis. Edward Shim ended up winning Pitch Night and the $2,000 grand prize.
Website: https://www.studio1labs.com/

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How to Pitch with an Edge

And now, to help you prepare a better pitch, either for an event like Pitch Night, or a small office meeting, here are 6 tips from Blade Creative Branding!

1. Understand Your Business – Fast!

Throughout Pitch Night, I noticed some pitchers who had very little confidence in discussing certain aspects of their business. One judge asked a question about the feasibility of an idea. However, he couldn’t provide a detailed answer and pointed out that it would be a question that his accountant (who was not in attendance) would normally answer.

Not knowing every aspect to your business creates a crutch to the entirety of your pitch. Your audience has already invested their time in getting to know you. Why break that relationship with someone that they will be hearing for only a couple of minutes? You are the visionary and that means every detail must tie back into you!
It’s why setting-up a meeting with everyone involved in your business is so important. Encourage them to make contributions to your presentation and ask them to help you prepare a Q&A strategy before you pitch.

FASTBALL: Make quick strides with your team at learning more about not only your business, but about your industry every day at a very fast rate.

2. Don’t Let the Fear of Numbers Sink Your Presentation

The importance of setting a realistic budget that connects to a launch timeline is crucial to the success of your brand. You may have the most revolutionary product in the world, but if you don’t have the numbers to back it up, it’s all just a pipe dream.

Many people often struggle with presenting the numbers. While it’s exciting to build up the unveiling of your product, the financial element can often be the boring element to a presentation. But it doesn’t have to be! If your brand has achieved success over the past year, (which it should be if you’re pitching), the best way to showcase that success is through charts and graphs. Whether it’s a bar graph, a pie chart or, a pictograph, display those numbers in a visual format that works best for you. It’s easier on the eyes for both you and your audience and it will visually demonstrate your success – allowing you to feel good about your achievements.

SINKER: Don’t let the fear of numbers sink your presentation into oblivion.

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3. Throw Your Audience a Curveball

Edward Shim from Studio 1 Labs had the audience laughing from the very beginning of his presentation. He stated: “A little while back I was in the hospital for two months with a chest injury. Rather than being dead, it took me about a year and a half of recovery. So during that time of recovery I thought – What’s the biggest challenge I can do to get back into physical shape? The most logical thing was – join the army. But the most important thing I learned was the process for emergency response.” Everyone seemed intrigued to hear what Edward would say next after starting off his presentation with such dark humour. It not only created an effective opening. It created a seamless transition that established energy before he began speaking about his idea.

CURVEBALL: Throw your audience a curveball every once in awhile. If humour isn’t part of your personal brand, ask questions or use insights in the early stages of your presentation to establish curiosity. The entirety of your presentation will benefit from it.

4. Change It Up! Use a Combination of Text, Photos and Video

A presentation with only text is boring, while a presentation with only photos and videos can come across as lazy, and lacking information. Striking a good balance between the two will give your presentation the flow it needs to help you succeed. It’s human nature to have a short attention span, which is why a change in pace and structure throughout your presentation will go a long way in keeping everyone interested in what you have to say. It also allows you to convey important information in different ways, especially since different parts of your presentation such as introducing the idea, demonstrating the idea and connecting the financial element with the idea will all need to be presented differently.

Pitch Night featured presentations with many different styles, but the three that I mentioned earlier all had a good mix.

CHANGE-UP: Change-up your presentation from time-to-time. It allows you to change the pace between text, photos and videos to keep your audience intrigued to hear more from you.

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5. Slide In Relatable Examples

Relatable examples encourage the audience to converse about your topic, while generating emotion. No one wants to hear a presentation with very little relatable material because it’s not memorable. For example, if you’re pitching a dating app and you’ve had bad experiences with the functionality of other apps, let the audience know. Chances are, there will be some people who have had the same experience, allowing you to develop an emotional connection with your audience.

SLIDER: If the “serious aspects” of your presentation such as feasibility and your core concept are in place, you should easily be able to slide in relatable examples throughout your pitch.

6. Cut the Umms

Pitchers often forget that their voice is one of the most important elements to their presentation. Your idea isn’t your voice – it speaks through your voice. You may not be able to completely change the tone of your voice while you present, but you can alter what comes from it through your delivery. When people hear a pitch that comes across as genuine, calm and collected, you demonstrate that you know what you are talking about and you know how to talk about it. This is one of the reasons why Edward from Studio 1 Labs had the winning pitch. By eliminating the use of “Umm” “Uhh” and “Like”, your pitch will stand-out and benefit immensely.

CUTTER: Simply Cut the Filler! It’s unprofessional and disrupts the flow of your pitch.

If you would like to share any other helpful pitching tips, feel free to post them in the comments section below!

This blog post can also be found on: bladecreativebranding.com.

Editors:
Wayne S. Roberts, President at Blade Creative Branding
Joshua Murray, Social Media Manager at Blade Creative Branding 

Ontario PC Party Rebrands to be more Inclusive

This blog post can also be found on: bladecreativebranding.com.

Editors:
Wayne S. Roberts, President at Blade Creative Branding
Joshua Murray, Social Media Manager at Blade Creative Branding 

Ontario PC Party Rebrands to be more Inclusive

Every political party is a brand. They build their identity to grow their support. They use emotions to sell you on their beliefs and they attempt to connect with you through their promises. But what happens when a political party abandons their loyal community to go after a different one after decades of campaigning the same promise? That is the case with the Ontario PC party. I’m a firm believer in staying true to your core values and beliefs. But, when they no longer resonate with a community, politicians must look to change the approach of their party’s promise, not the promise itself. Why? It devalues both what their brand has stood for and their loyal brand community that has stood by them through thick and thin.

While Kathleen Wynne has enjoyed her 3-year run with an Ontario Liberal majority government, Ontario PC leader, Patrick Brown is eager to completely change his party’s promise. Their latest 20-second ad is meant to create a feeling of inclusivity before Ontarians head to the polls in 2018.

A Time of Desperation or Necessary Change for the Ontario PC Party?

The Ontario PC party has undergone plenty of changes since Tim Hudak’s departure as party leader in 2014. Let’s be clear: If Tim Hudak and his campaign team presented their promise with a different approach, he may have changed his fate for the better. His pledge to slash 100,000 jobs in the public sector was the turning point in his campaign that drew an overwhelming amount of negativity. Everyone was nervous and rightfully so.

Two years ago, Patrick Brown’s victory speech signaled a shift in the party’s brand messaging. Since 1867, the Ontario PC’s have focused on wealthy, white Christian men. Taking a page out of the Justin Trudeau playbook, Brown spoke about his commitment to having a party built on multicultural representation: “I want a member of our party on every block, in every neighbourhood across our province, reconnecting us with the people of Ontario.”

In their new ads, the PC’s openly called out to and welcomed low income, minority, union and different religious groups to their party – a drastic change in their political approach.

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The Ontario PC Party Attempts to Rebrand

Brown immediately set forth this new action plan, attempting to regain the trust of many voters who have tuned out the party for more than a decade. As part of their rebranding strategy, the PC’s have released numerous 20-second spots with the tagline, “I Believe”, which can be seen on their YouTube channel. Each video tackles issues that people in Ontario face on a daily basis, such as affordable housing and jobs. The PC’s new approach also signalled a change with their logo to visually showcase the party’s new direction throughout the ads.

The U.S. has always had a strong polarity with their Democratic and Republican parties. Although not as strong, Canada has had a similar polarity between Liberals and Conservatives, both provincially and federally. Since Ontario is now predominantly Liberal, the Conservatives are now in desperation mode. They are now adopting “Liberal promises” so they can to appeal to a wider segment of Ontario’s population. It’s the wrong approach. While the Liberals are not a write-off to win the election next year by any means, it would be foolish to count them out. I believe that the greatest political threat for the Liberals is themselves. As the old saying goes – “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.” The Liberals need to make sure that they stay in line with the devil that everyone wants to keep as Ontario’s governing party.

Dating back to Dalton McGuinty’s tenure as party leader, the Ontario Liberal party has had 3 majority governments in their last 4 terms. That’s over 10 years of Liberal rule. Why?

Cultural Inclusivity

The Liberals position themselves as welcoming and accommodating people from all walks of life. As a result, they are able to strengthen their support across different cultures who are all looking for equal opportunities. The PC’s are now walking a fine line between changing their approach for the greater good of Ontario and bold-faced vote-getting. Is the party truly going to embrace more cultural attitudes through a more Liberal approach? Or is this rebranding strategy built on a foundation of expedient political motivation? I think it’s the latter – The PC party is desperate for votes.

What about the NDP?

Both the Liberals and Conservatives are aiming to get closer to the middle of the political spectrum in the hopes of attracting those few votes that have traditionally gone to the NDP’s – votes that will make all the difference come election time. Andrea Horwath and the NDP party have always been committed to the working class, creating warm and fuzzy campaign promises by humanizing their brand with all types of cultures. Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal party have done this too – although their promises have disappeared far too often. The PC’s can only hope that Ontario will offer their support in trusting a warm and fuzzy Patrick Brown as the better alternative in 2018.

Trust is Key

The PC’s are clearly attempting to change their brand messaging to become a party with similar values as the Liberal and NDP parties. They want to be seen as the party that can be trusted to make better decisions for Ontario, while expanding the inclusivity of their campaign to attract votes. But it begs the question: How are the core supporters of the party going to react to inclusiveness come election time? Will their existing brand community accept these changes or reject them? Although the party has established a new voice and a new approach, they still need the most important ingredient of all: Trust. I believe that the best chance for an Ontario PC majority or a minority government in 2018 is through the opportunity to capitalize on more broken promises by the Liberal government. Their inclusive strategy will only drive their core supporters further away. They will either vote Liberal, or not at all.

Do you think the Ontario PC’s are keeping the best interests of Ontarians in mind, or are they simply making false promises so they can get back to their glory days as Ontario’s natural governing party?

Sound off in the comments section below!

 

This blog post can also be found on: bladecreativebranding.com.

Editors:
Wayne S. Roberts, President at Blade Creative Branding
Joshua Murray, Social Media Manager at Blade Creative Branding 

 

 

 

Brand Fail: Shea Moisture Neglects Its Loyal Brand Community

It’s been more than a month since I have started my position as a Project/ Account Coordinator at Blade Creative Branding and I’ve been truly enjoying every minute of it. Below is my first featured blog post. It goes in-depth about the Shea Moisture campaign and how they neglected their loyal brand community.

This blog post can also be found on: bladecreativebranding.com.

Editors:
Wayne S. Roberts, President at Blade Creative Branding
Joshua Murray, Social Media Manager at Blade Creative Branding 

Brand Fail: Shea Moisture Neglects Its Loyal Brand Community

Brand communities are built on keeping promises. Shea Moisture has been delivering on their promise of “A better way to be beautiful” for over a century to generations of their loyal community. That is, until they really blew it.

The Fail

Last month, Shea Moisture launched an advertising campaign titled: “#EverybodyGetsLove”, with the tagline – “Break free from hair HATE.”. The campaign, which was developed in partnership with Vayner Media, was quick to neglect Shea’s core community – African-American women. The video was launched on April 24th and featured one African-American woman and four Caucasian women. Shea’s loyal users were not impressed. At all.

“Yes, we know good hair is for everyone,” a BET (Black Entertainment Television) writer said, “but that’s why companies, that cater specifically to Black women, need to exist – because so many of the products out there do not.”

The Response

Shea Moisture responded with a heartfelt apology, stating their intention was not to disrespect their community. They also went on to try and explain to angry online commenters that they are a black-owned, family business with a diverse group of employees. But their brand community had already been turned off and tuned out.

The question that Shea, and all brands should ask themselves is: Is expanding your audience for a chance to increase market share worth the risk of abandoning the original promise of your brand?

Answer: No

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We’ve seen big name brands like Nike, McDonald’s and Apple grow their market share by attractive new and complementary demographic/market segments. So why can’t Shea do the same?

The differences can be found here:

The Origin Story – Once a brand has solidified its “origin story” for an extended period of time, it is challenging to branch out and reach out to different demographics without alienating loyal customers. Shea Moisture’s story was their dedication to providing hair care and beauty products to black women. That’s why Shea Moisture experienced such criticism after launching their controversial campaign, given they had specifically targeted African-American women… since 1912!

Behavioural Vs. Demographic Differences – Some established global brands can be more flexible with their approach to marketing, while a brand like Shea must be mindful about its core promise which features particular product attributes for its equally specific demographic. For example, McDonald’s can play on the behavioural aspects of their audience in a marketing campaign, since they focus on convenience through fast-food, which can be targeted to a vast audience. In contrast, Shea must be more cautious, since their hair care products were more specifically targeted to one clearly defined market.

The Buy In – Consumers originally buy into your brand because you offer something different than your competitors. In the “#EverybodyGetsLove” campaign, Shea flipped the switch after more than a century of appealing to their core target audience. This resulted in their loyal customers boycotting the brand. The brand made the attempt to move from focusing and caring for African-American women, to trying to attract and cater to white women in a bold, but certainly not a well considered way.

The Cultural Temperature – Across the United States, African-Americans have been fighting for their voice, for their rights, and for their very lives. So when Shea Moisture released the #EverybodyGetsLove campaign, the first thing those same African-American women saw was a brand that they cherished, turning its back on them to focus on white women. Regardless of intent, the message they sent was, “black women aren’t enough for us, we’re going to bring white women into this too.”

While Shea Moisture insists their intent was not, and would never be, to disrespect their loyal brand community, their campaign approach proved otherwise.

Here are a few tips on how to be proactive with your brand, before launching your next campaign:

Blade’s 3 Steps to Being Proactive in Your Advertising Campaigns

1. KNOW The “Behavioural & Demographic” Insights Of Your Audience
Find out what their passions are and what makes them tick. If you are running a particular campaign, discover key insights through targeted market research. Surveys, focus groups, in-store and exit interviews are excellent ways to discover trends with your consumers and how to best leverage, or avoid them in your go-to-market creative. Testing that creative can also prove useful. Movie producers do this all the time. The key is to listen to the criticism, not ignore it.

2. BALANCE The Approach From Your “Origin Story”
Always remember the origin of your brand narrative even if you plan to expand your market appeal in the future.

3. BUILD On “The Buy In” Of Your Promise
If you suspect, from research, that the “progressive growth” approach is going to compromise the trust you’ve built with your brand community, apply the brakes and re-think the whole initiative.

Final Thoughts…

Shea Moisture truly did f**k up on their strategy and the resulting ad campaign. Whether they were pushed into this idea by their agency or not, the fail falls on the brand stewards within the company itself.

At some point, someone should have stood up in a meeting and asked the question, “What will our existing brand community think?” The reality is that Shea’s brand community was betrayed; and that breach of trust is something that cannot be reversed with an apology on Facebook.

What should Shea Moisture do next? Chime in and share yours thought in the comments section.

 

An Emotional Farewell to Encore Catering

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Two weeks ago, I made a decision to venture into the ad industry after spending 3 years as both an Admin/Marketing Coordinator and eventually growing into the role of a Community Manager at Encore Catering. I have nothing but amazing things to say about my time there. They helped me to grow my skills and develop into the marketing professional that I am today.

The amazing people that I met, the success that we achieved and the delicious food I had the pleasure of tasting every day will never be forgotten. Encore will always hold a special place in my heart and I can’t thank them enough for such an incredible opportunity to contribute to their culture. These last 2 weeks have been very emotional for me, and I’ll always remember the incredible times I had – from taking photos in the kitchen/at events to conversing with my colleagues and to brainstorming new ways to be creative in my work at the office.

I found this quote that perfectly sums up how I feel:

“How lucky I am to have had something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” – A.A. Milne

I’m very excited to start the next chapter in my career as I continue to grow as both a person and as a marketing/advertising professional.

Cheers to 2017 and beyond!

Coffee with a Guru at DX3 Canada: March 9th 2017

The DX3 Ambassador Program 

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On the second day of DX3 Canada, I had the pleasure of participating in Coffee with a Guru. I learned about this inspiring program at DX3 Canada through Boost Agents, when they contacted me regarding an opportunity to be part of the DX3 Ambassador program in January. 

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A DX3 Ambassador is given an all-access pass to DX3, as well as the opportunity to network in Coffee with a Guru, where the top industry professionals in the advertising and marketing industry discuss their experiences at several round tables. The DX3 Ambassador Program allows up and coming advertising and marketing professionals to network with Toronto’s top talent in the communications industry at various events throughout the year. 

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Boost Agents 

Boost Agents is a recruitment agency in Toronto and works with both candidates and employers in the digital, advertising, marketing and creative industries. Trina Boos continues to keep a pulse on the industry, with a commitment to foster relationships with both employers and job seekers. 

An Overview of Coffee with a Guru

I had the pleasure of speaking with Julia Amorim, Stuart Dykstra, Matt Di Paola, Stephen Ghigliotty and Carla Congson at Coffee with a Guru. 

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Karla Congson – Co-Founder, CEO of Collective IQ

Karla provided plenty of insights on the advertising industry. I asked how she was able to land her position as Group Account Director and how to move up the ranks in the advertising industry. She explained the importance of networking and stepping out of your comfort zone to discover new ideas and experiences. Collective IQ is a hub of hand-picked experts and helps clients to solve business and marketing related challenges. These experts consist of startup founders, data scientists, chief digital officers, CMOs, trend specialists and more. 

Julia Amorim – CEO of MediaNet 

With a background in media, Julia went in-depth on her experience working at MediaNet and how the industry continues to experience change with the rise of technology. MediaNet focuses on “the digital experience” that engages target audiences.

Stuart Dykstra – In-Store Marketing Communications Manager at Telus 

As the In-Store Marketing Communications Manager at Telus, Stuart Dykstra provided his insights on the fast-paced technology industry. I truly enjoyed hearing his experiences working in the telecommunications industry and how his role as a Marketing Communications Manager contrasts with other industries. 

Matt Di Paola – Partner at Sid Lee

I’ve always admired the story of “Sid Lee.” Starting out as a few broke and ambitious kids, Sid Lee started their own agency after finding it difficult to land interviews at the traditional big-name agencies. Matt spoke of his experience as a Partner at Sid Lee and how the agency has transformed the typical “agency model” through their company culture. Every employee at Sid Lee is ready to jump into a project and learn something new to create success.

Matt also spoke about how the creative vs. business stigma still exists in agencies. It’s the agencies that are willing to put their differences aside that create an effective agency business model. Finally, Matt spoke of virtual reality. Although the “experience” is not refined yet, he sees many different industries embracing VR within the next decade. 

Stephen Ghigliotty – Certificate Developer & Instructor at U of T, School of Continuing Studies

Stephen Ghigliotty is the Certificate Developer and Instructor at U of T and strongly believes in learning through developing practical, hands-on experience. Stephen spoke of his very first experience as a guest lecturer at the School of Continuing Studies at U of T.   The students looked bored and disengaged for the first hour and after his lecture, he felt relieved, although discouraged at the outcome. A few years later, Stephen was invited again, this time with experience in the entertainment industry developing experiential installations in malls and airports. The result? The class was fully engaged and truly appreciated his working knowledge of the industry. 

Final Thoughts… 

DX3 was an incredibly rewarding experience through the inspiring thought leaders that I had the opportunity to meet. I encourage anyone who works in the marketing and advertising industries to challenge yourself by learning something new every day. Learning fuels the desire to bring inspiration to your own career and will develop your strategic perspective in an industry that continues to reinvent itself time and time again.

Day 2 at DX3 Canada: March 9th 2017

DX3 – Canada’s Largest Digital Marketing Event In Retail & Tech

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Opening Keynote by Eric Edge – Head of Marketing Communications and Industry Relations at Pinterest 

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Day 2 of DX3 began with an Opening keynote by Eric Edge, Head of Marketing, Communications and Industry Relations at Pinterest. The opening keynote was very popular and had attendees standing near the doors for a chance to hear Eric speak on his experience with Pinterest. Pinterest originally began as a hub of ideas for art creators. The challenge for Pinterest was to be discovered in such a crowded social media landscape. Eric spoke of the “shopping experience”, asking himself and his team at Pinterest: “How do we make the shopping experience as seamless as possible?” Here are the takeaways: 

  • People want easy access to anything on a mobile platform.
  • While Amazon does a great job of surfacing consumer products, Pinterest surfaces ideas. 
  • Personalized discovery is the future. 
  • How do you move people from inspiration to action? By thinking beyond a purchase! 
  • TV inspires, but it does not create an action. Mobile and digital allow you to bridge that gap.
  • When you see a product on Pinterest, you can now click on it and buy it. 
  • Pinterest bridges the offline world with the online experience.
  • 90% of purchases still occur in store.
  • Personalized discovery and turning inspiration into action are crucial! 
  • How will your ideas be discovered? 

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SEMINAR 1: 

How To Effectively Go Viral With Influencers – Taylor Klick, Founder and CEO of Ivvi 

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In the first seminar of day 2, Taylor Klick spoke of the impact that influencers can have on your brand. Taylor is the Founder and CEO of Ivvi, which provides influencer and viral video insights. Ivvi is the link between the influencer and the brand. Here are some of the key discussion points Taylor spoke about: 

  • Influencer marketing offers 60% more conversion than standard advertising.
  • 85% of marketers launched influencer campaigns in the last year. 
  • MattyBRaps is one of the top influencers. He has over 7.9 million subscribers!
  • However, with so many influencers, there is now inflation at the top.  
  • The Chewbacca mask unboxing video: vulnerability + authenticity = organic.
  • Consumer to consumer is the purest form of marketing.
  • Matthew Santoro is one of the top comedians in Canada with 5.7 million subscribers.
  • There are 4.9 videos being viewed on YouTube every day! 
  • You must be ahead of viral video trends such as the Mannequin challenge. 
  • Analyze audience behaviours to establish the proper strategy and timing. 
  • Every time Adidas launches a product, they build hype through influencers. 
  • In hockey, the players skate where the puck is going to be.
  • Do the same for your brand and streamline your strategies. 
  • Influencer marketing pays $6.50 for every $1.00 spent. 
  • Influencer + Company + Cause is more cost efficient and it brings a stronger ROI.
  • There are 3 ways to get your influencers involved: 
  • 1. Awareness
  • 2. Giveaways 
  • 3. Challenges 
  • Determine what influencers are the best to work with and be ahead of the curve by being authentic. 
  • Look at engagement, not only views. There is no cap on the number of influencers you can have. 
  • Send influencer packages. 
  • There are so many influencers that can create opportunity for your brand. 
  • There are also many mid-tier influencers that create opportunity.
  • Find a tool to help you find the right influencers for your brand. 
  • Avoid influencers who have been apart of scandals.

How Do Small-Medium Sized Businesses Use Influencers? 

  1. Find out what they are passionate about. 
  2. Create events for them and listen to the influencer. 
  • Keep in mind that brands move slow and influencers move fast.
  • Let the influencer have creative flexibility. 
  • Keep in mind the return for using Instagram influencers hasn’t been great. 
  • The brand awareness goes up, but the conversion rate just isn’t there. 
  • YouTube provides the best conversion rate.
  • Use Facebook ads to attract influencers by targeting specific ones for your campaign. 

Microsoft Lunch & Learn – The Marriage of Data & Design: The Perspective You Haven’t Considered

In this Lunch and Learn, two Microsoft executives spoke of the connection between the information that data gives us and the overall aesthetic of a design. The team at Microsoft showed us a very interesting concept, using a website as a storefront for the consumer to make a more informed purchase decision. The website showed two models wearing the products, integrating the online experience with the in-store experience.

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SEMINAR 2: 

Create Enhanced Customer Experiences Using React – Doug Riches, Group Technology Director at Rangle.io

After hearing plenty of valuable insights from Microsoft at the Lunch and Learn, another excellent seminar was presented, this time by Doug Riches regarding the retail industry. He spoke of the following: 

  • Established retailers are struggling to adopt new technology.
  • You must think of how the end user will be integrating with your brand. 
  • Be everywhere, be personal, be fast and be unique.
  • Use a mobile first mandate – You must have a responsive website!
  • The next generation of ecommerce enables creative teams to launch new experiences and innovations quickly.
  • Agile development is not the goal, the goal is agile products.
  • The Design Process: Discovery, Define, Develop and Deliver. 
  • React is built by Facebook and uses the least number of technologies to provide the highest level of value. 
  • React has extremely fast screen rendering.
  • It allows retailers to safely make changes without breaking the site.
  • SEO is extremely important to retail/ecommerce and must never be overlooked. 

The Virtual Reality Experience 

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VR in the Apartment 

In the middle of the afternoon, I took some time to experience 3D marketing through virtual reality at the Innovation Lab by Sid Lee. The first example of VR that I was introduced to was set in an apartment complex, where I used the remote to step forward and my neck to move around the room. It was a very interesting concept that I could definitely see being used in the real estate industry in the 2020s. 

Interacting in the VR Space 

The next VR experience I had was with disassembled  skeleton inside a house. The objective was to put the skeleton together – however, I was more interested in interacting with the environment. I used the remote to pick-up the skeleton bones by pressing the bottom button on the controller. Similar to the apartment complex, I just needed to move my neck left or right to move around the house. From doing so I ended up bumping into someone, but thankfully the rep ensured him that I was unaware of my surroundings from this simulation. 

Up Next: Coffee with a Guru! 

While day 1 of DX3 Canada explored the integration between marketing strategy and execution, day 2 of DX3 focused more on tech and retail in the marketing industry.

In part 3 of my time at DX3, I will be discussing the rewarding opportunity that I received from Boost Agents to be a DX3 Ambassador and attend Coffee with a Guru. Stay tuned! 

Day 1 at DX3 Canada: March 8th 2017

DX3 – Canada’s Largest Digital Marketing Event In Retail & Tech

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On Wednesday, March 8th and Thursday, March 9th, I had the pleasure of attending DX3, Canada’s largest digital marketing event in the technology and retail space. A BIG THANK YOU to Boost Agents and DX3 Canada, who provided me with an all-access pass after I applied to the “DX3 Ambassador Program.” The Ambassador Program connects up and coming marketing professionals with industry experts in “Coffee with a Guru.” Coffee with a Guru is a 2-hour networking opportunity between the rising stars in the marketing industry and the Gurus who have various levels of expertise – including both agency and client side backgrounds.

I will be going into detail about “Coffee with a Guru” in Part 3 of DX3. Data. Creativity. Innovation and eCommerce were the key discussion points among the best marketing and advertising industry experts in Canada. In 2 days, 60 speakers took part in various seminars, ranging from “The Rise of Augmented Reality”, to “How to Effectively Go Viral with Influencers.”

Opening Keynote by Warren Tomlin, Chief Innovation Officer at IBM 

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SEMINAR 1:

How To Get Your 1st 1,000 Customers – Dan Jacob, Growth Manager at Breather

Dan Jacob spoke with passion and conviction as he explained how to grow your company’s customer base. His company, “Breather” specializes in office space and conference room rentals. He identified 3 key takeaways: 

  1. Know your customers to identify fundamental needs. 
  2. Don’t be boring.
  3. Have fun.

Dan spoke of an instance where he went to a local coffee shop and purchased 2-hours worth of coffee for everyone. He received plenty of thank you’s from doing this and also received a few business cards from reputable companies as a result of following his three values.

SEMINAR 2:

Bridging The Strategy To Execution Gap In Marketing – Scott Jamieson, President of Vigorate Digital Solutions 

Scott Jamieson of Vigorate Digital Solutions spoke of an existing gap between what you want your marketing strategy to accomplish and what is actually executed in the market. How do we bridge the gap? The answers can be found by discovering:

The Three Lost Questions:

  1. What do we want the strategy to accomplish?
  2. How do we execute the strategy?
  3. What does success look like?

SEMINAR 3:

How To Get Creative With Partnerships – Ron Tite, Founder of The Tite Group 

The third seminar of day 1 featured Ron Tite, the CEO of The Tite Group. Ron explained that in many companies and agencies, it’s a matter of asking “who we should partner with” rather than “what we should do.” He spoke of some very important insights regarding his experiences on the agency side and how we must be proactive with our internal partnerships: 

  • “We are not an ecosystem anymore. The sweet spot doesn’t exist anymore. We are just a bunch of people running around doing random things.”
  • “The days of smoke and mirrors are over.”
  • In the 1970s, Steve Martin became the #6 comedian in the greatest comedians of all-time. Once he noticed a few empty seats at one of his shows, he decided to rebrand himself by pursuing a career in acting and writing movie scripts.  
  • Great organizations are leading with values, but they are not applying those values internally.
  • An excellent example of a company staying true to their values is when CBC televised “The Tragically Hip Concert.” They received tons of recognition from thinking about Canadians as opposed to the revenue. They didn’t air any commercials and stayed true to their values as a Canadian broadcasting company.

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SEMINAR 4:

Mindfulness Vs. Mindlessness: How Online Search Behaviour Has Changed – John Philipe Romeo, Director of Owned Media & Research at Mediative  

John Philipe Romeo spoke about how online search is changing, with mobile devices habitually conditioning people to scan content quicker. This has resulted in vertical scans as opposed to horizontal scans on a particular page for a Google Search.

  • People are viewing more search listings during a single session, but are spending less time viewing each one.
  • The 1st organic listing still captures the most click activity, with 7.4% of the clicks  below the organic listing.
  • Star ratings are an attention grabber – They receive 24% of page clicks on average.
  • For local listings – Mobile phones are not just a technology, they are a movement.

SEMINAR 5:

Retail Tech Trends & How Real-Time Data Will Change The Customer Experience – Simon Foster, CEO of Chatter & Rob Cameron, CMO and Chief Product Officer of Moneris 

The final seminar was presented by Simon Foster, CEO of Chatter and Rob Cameron, CMO and Chief Product Officer of Moneris. They spoke of how retail technology is changing at a rapid pace and identified 3 key trends: 

  1. Digital Contactless Payments are becoming more and more popular among businesses.
  2. The bulk of transactions that we do are done on a desktop computer.
  3. Consumers have come to expect personalization. (e.g. Kiosks at McDonald’s)

In the movie “Her”, the Operating System (Scarlett Johansson) attempts to emulate conversation with the main protagonist (Joaquin Phoenix.) Both Simon and Rob see this human-OS ideology taking off as we head into the 2020s. Products such as Google Home will play a pivotal role in the human interaction between products and ideas.  

Day 1 of DX3 was an incredible experience with so many thought provoking seminars. My next blog will feature Day 2 of DX3, which goes in-depth about influencer marketing and virtual reality! 

 

 

 

 

My Top 5 MUST-SEE Super Bowl Ads!

It’s that time of year! Super Bowl LI will bring plenty of excitement to sports fans, pop culture junkies and anyone who works in the marketing and advertising industry.

Here are my top 5 Super Bowl ads to look out for in 2017!

1. Budweiser 

Who says you have to enjoy beer to appreciate the Budweiser brand? Budweiser is always finding new ways to draw an emotional connection with their viewership on Super Bowl Sunday. In 2015, they released their adorable “Puppy Love” commercial, a heartfelt story about a puppy longing to play with a Clydesdale. In 2016 however, Budweiser showed a tougher side, releasing an ad with the hashtag “#NotBackingDown” and the following statement: “We’re big. We have clydesdales, not ponies. We’re proud to be America’s #1 full-flavored lager. Budweiser is 140 years going strong, and we’re #NotBackingDown.”

Will the puppy come out to play again this year, or will Budweiser show an even tougher side?

      Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlNO2trC-mk 

2. Skittles – “Romance The Rainbow” 

Tasting the rainbow has never been more delicious! Last year, Skittles brought the star power with Steven Tyler. However, many viewers disliked the 2016 Super Bowl ad stating his high pitched voice was annoying. This year’s ad has kept their comical tone, but with a twist. In their “Romance” ad, a boyfriend throws various flavours of Skittles into his girlfriend’s bedroom in the hopes of getting her attention. However, after she indulges in a couple of them, the whole family joins in on “Romancing the Rainbow” – even a police officer, a thief and a beaver!

“Romancing the Rainbow” has never been tastier!

     Source: http://www.adweek.com 

3. Wix.com – “Big Game First Spot with Jason Statham & Gal Gadot” 

In this action packed ad, Wonderwoman (Gal Gadot) and the Transporter (Jason Statham) meet for the first time. According to (cbssports.com), the ad has been viewed more than 2.2 million times in 8 days!

It’s safe to say that these two are compatible for future TV spots – and films!

     Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlNO2trC-mk

4. TurboTax – “Humpty Fall” 

Timing is everything. With a little over two months until tax season, what better way to engage viewers than with a comically morbid spot about Humpty Dumpty? Everyone hates thinking about taxes – so by distracting viewers with an iconic story, Turbo Tax is defusing the negativity away from their brand. At the same time, they are educating viewers on the portability of TurboTax, through the idiocracy of Humpty Dumpty.

All hope isn’t lost for Humpty Dumpty’s happy ending. TurboTax will be continuing his adventure during the Super Bowl…

     Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVuRordWzMw

5. Lexus LC Super Bowl Ad – “Man & Machine” 

With so many automotive ads crowding the advertising space, it can be a challenge for automotive brands to break through the clutter. They’ve all become very generic and quite frankly, boring. However, Lexus LC has added plenty of firepower to their Super Bowl spot this year by featuring a “half man, half machine” concept. An  extended cut of the commercial takes you even deeper into the advanced technology of the Lexus LC.

Just watching it makes you want to be apart of this mini sci-fi story!

     Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTdfAj4t_HE

What’s The Story? 

There’s one commonality that most of this year’s Super Bowl ads share: Exceptional Storytelling. Breaking through the clutter in 2017 is a challenge, especially in an age when smart phones are the main competitors for brands. When a brand becomes integrated with a compelling story, it engages the viewer on a whole new level.

Do you have a favourite 2017 Super Bowl Ad? Sound off in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

Searsiously Rebranding

As a child, I would often go to Sears with my parents to buy new jeans or shirts at half the price of brands such as Levi’s and Jack & Jones. I’ve heard of the rebranding project Sears has undertaken with the new signage outside of Promenade Mall, but I had yet to re-visit the store since they re-opened.

As I continued towards the home and lifestyle area on the ground floor, I saw “#WhatTheSears” posted on the walls. Much of the bottom half of the floor was eliminated, with a pathway that led to the mall.

Once I made it to the upper level, I noticed a few things:

The Men & Ladies Sections Are Now Combined 

At first glance, everything looks out of sorts – but this is a brilliant idea. I would remember the lineups being unnecessarily long at one end of the store. I would then go to the other end of the store (with a chance for a shorter line.) There’s now more synergy with the products in one place by combining the two sections, allowing families to stay closer together as they shop.

One BIG Cashier Panel

As a result of the men & ladies sections being closer together, the cashiers are now centralized as one long panel (around 7-8 cashiers). This is similar to the set-up at Winners & Marshalls. Customers are now able to congregate from all parts of the store to experience more products before making their purchase.

Perfumes & Fragrances Do Not Block The Entrance

At The Bay (the Yorkdale location in particular), there’s at least a dozen perfume booths that crowd the floor, making it very difficult to find other departments. Sears has eliminated this, opening the floor for a much easier way to find what you came in for.

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The Shoe Section Is Now In The Middle Of The Store

The middle of the store now showcases a much better variety of shoes. I even purchased a pair of warm Logan Hill winter boots.

The Campaign – Is It Too Much Too Late For Sears?

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Although I admire the strides Sears has taken to refresh their brand image, it may be too much too late for this struggling brand.

This rebranding effort should have happened 5 years ago, with many Sears locations across Canada closing their doors because of struggling sales in-store and online. It will be very challenging for Sears to create a lasting positive impression for Generation Y – (the 1980-2000 age group). With so many brand name stores crowding the competitive retail space, it may be too much, too late for Sears to fully change their perception among the younger market.

#WhatTheSears?

The hashtag used in the campaign is making every effort to be hip and trendy, but in my opinion, it falls flat. #WhatTheSears sounds like it’s trying too hard to be cool. The creative team is clearly aiming to attract the younger target market, yet the Baby Boomers are the ones creating the majority of the revenue and will continue to do so.

The End Result?

This rebranding effort will help them refresh their image in the short term – both in person and online. Only time will tell whether it will pay off long term in the perception of the younger generation.

Do you think Sears took the right direction with their #WhatTheSears campaign? Sound off in the comments section below!