Archive for the ‘Our Perspective’ Category

Happy Holidays!

christmas card insert

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strobe gift

For more information on the organizations we’ve donated to this year, please visit
Habitat for Humanity, Nassau CountyIsland Harvest.

See you next year!

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SCVNGR: A New App That Hunts for Consumer Engagement Treasure

There is a cycle to all popular trends, regardless of industry. There are the first to market, either classics with staying power or fleeting successes, and then followers are guaranteed. Sometimes, these are cheap knock-offs, but other times, even better versions than the original. For instance, for all you basketball fans out there, the “Big 3” in the NBA originally consisted of Boston Celtics Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett, and the league is now led by LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwayne Wade who have teamed up in South Beach for the Miami Heat. In the social media space, Friendster led to MySpace which was eventually followed and overpowered by Facebook.

SCVNGR

The curve for social media trends seems to be shorter than in other industries, new apps are popping up daily. SCVNGR is a great example of this; the increasing popularity of FourSquare and other location based social apps led to its creation. According to its website, “SCVNGR is a game about doing challenges as places.” Much like FourSquare, you are able to check in at various locations using the app on your smart phone. However, with SCVNGR checking in is not enough, the experience is more interactive.  With this new app, you can go to your favorite local spots to check-in and once you’re there, you will be prompted to complete different tasks or challenges to gain points. You may have to take a photo at a park, solve a riddle at a museum, scan a QR code at a theater, or do some other kind of adventurous activity. The points you earn for completed challenges are redeemable for bragging rights as well as unlocking badges and other features. Companies can create their own challenges or hunts  as a cheeky way to involve adventurous consumers with their brand.

patriots scvngr

Recently, the New England Patriots tapped SCVNGR for a promotion to get fans excited about the upcoming football season. They have created their own “Trek” and compiled a list of themed challenges for fans to complete at various locations throughout New England, in order to help Patriot player Vince Wilfork find his “stolen” Super Bowl ring. The campaign has received much press for both the NFL organization and the application itself. Other SCVNGR adopters include major universities (such as Duke University and Princeton), city tourism councils (the City of Rochester and Boston are both users), and several museums throughout the country.

Marketers are just starting to jump on board the location-based social media app train, with good reason. The interactive nature of these applications lend themselves to promotions – put an incentive behind these behaviors and the usage rate will surely soar. FourSquare, Loopt, Gowalla and now SVCNGR are great new platforms to attract, engage and reward consumers and I can’t wait to see what comes next.

How to Run an Efficient Kitchen (or Promotion)

Things can get dicey when working for a valued client and simultaneously dealing with several different agencies on their project, but it doesn’t have to be that way. I’m going against the cliché here, but I think sometimes having too many cooks in one kitchen isn’t a bad thing, as long as you all work together.  With more creative minds, you can end up with a diversified menu that will appeal to any palette.

Working with other agencies doesn't have to be like an episode of Hell's Kitchen

Working with other agencies doesn't have to be like an episode of Hell's Kitchen

Think of it this way, the client is the common priority, so keeping them in the loop is key, but making sure all chefs share their cookware is essential.  So the first thing to do, after the initial introduction of all agencies, is to arrange a follow-up call with only the agencies. This allows all to speak freely and identify everyone’s individual responsibilities.  This will serve to set the expectation among all the players.  Second, come up with a strong promotion together, allowing each agency to utilize their expertise.   Everyone has their own special ingredients to bring to the recipe and this is the time to share.  Third, develop a timeline outlining all deliverables, like a sous chef staging the food preparation.  Last, but most important, present the final recommendation to the client as a team. The best way to work well together is to act like you all work for the same company.  (Essentially, at this point, you do!) And viola, you have your perfect entrée.

Every diner has their favorite food, and every chef brings something different to the table. When all the partnering agencies lend their particular spice to the recipe, it should result in a very tasty dish, baked to perfection and aimed at satisfying the client’s hunger for a successful campaign!

Image source: TV Guide/Fox

From a Non-Believer to a Promotion Professional

It’s often said, “don’t believe everything you hear.” This simple lesson is taught by parents, hoping to keep their children safe from falling victim to rumors, gossip and fraudulent claims. By now, it’s common practice to question everything. But, what happens in these cynical times when you’re tasked with convincing others that what you are telling them is true (however incredible it may seem)?

winner mock upFor years, I have been receiving (& deleting) emails from marketers and companies telling me that I won a free car. I have encountered (& closed) the ever-present pop-up advertisements saying “Click Here to Win $10,000” numerous times, without a second thought. It’s easy to dismiss these claims as fake; everyone’s a skeptic, myself included. Until now…

I have been at Strobe Promotions for about a year now. Working in the promotional marketing field has opened my eyes to the value that promotions provide not only for the prize winners, but also for the sponsor. I now know about the great amount of awareness, excitement and buzz promotions can bring to a brand; I see it every day with the sheer volume of mail or large online entry files we receive for each project. The prize in each promotion not necessarily the main focus, like I previously thought, it’s more like the cherry on top. A big portion of my job as a Marketing Assistant is to deliver that cherry by notifying the potential winners in the various promotions we administer for our clients. When contacting our potential winners, I am often asked the question “Are you serious?” It is sometimes a daunting task to convince the potential winner that we are a legitimate company and that they have actually won a prize. In some cases, the consumer may be unaware that they even entered a sweepstakes (with an automatic-entry promotion), making them even more skeptical. I have found one of the best remedies for this problem is to put the consumer in contact with the client directly. Whether by email, or over of the phone, hearing an employee from the sponsoring company usually puts the consumer at ease.

I never imagined that it would be so difficult to give away money (or trips or cars or cool gadgets). A part of me is still somewhat amazed when people refuse to accept the prizes they have won, even though I understand how hard it may be to believe that opening one email or answering one phone call could reward you with extravagant prizes. After all, there still are some shady individuals who use less than honest means to trick people. That’s why questions and follow up are warranted. As a promotion marketing professional, I now know to take a closer look at the next winner notification email I may receive. Sometimes I wonder, what if all of those emails I deleted weren’t just spam? I could be vacationing on an island, driving around a new convertible, and living a lavish life with thousands of prize dollars.

How to Become an Excellent Account Manager

myraAccount Management: is it an art or a science? I’m here to tell you that it’s a little bit of both. The key to maintaining client relationships is good customer service, and there are many aspects to customer service that one must master in order to produce a satisfied client. Here are a few key tips and best practices to help make you hone your account management skills:

Know your clients’ businesses

Understand their brand, their marketing objectives and goals. Always be aware of what their competitors are doing.

Think like a brand person

Help your clients meet their needs by providing strategic thinking as an approach to solving their problems.

Be resourceful

When attempting to come up with marketing solutions for your client, don’t always go for the tried and true.  Brainstorm with your team and be innovative.

Be responsive

When your client contacts you, respond to them immediately.  You may not always have an immediate answer to their questions, but you can let them know you are looking into it and will get back to them within a certain time frame. If you are not available to help them at the moment they need you, appoint someone from your team who will be available to address the client’s questions/concerns while you are unavailable.

Develop a relationship with your client

Be friendly! Smile and ask about the kids or the dog.  Show them you are interested.  Remember, people want to work with others that they get along with, rather than those they dislike.

Be organized

Know where your pertinent information is stored and perform your work in a timely fashion and with accuracy.

Communicate

Reach out to your clients even when they are not reaching out to you.  Forward them interesting articles that you think they may enjoy or may be pertinent to their business.

Be proud (in a good way!)

Take pride in yourself and your work. Believe that the service you provide to your client is valuable.

Be accountable

Manage your clients’ expectations. If there are problems, discuss them and be honest!  If you make a mistake, admit it and offer solutions.

Under promise and over deliver!

You shouldn’t promise a client something you know can’t be done.  However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t shoot to accomplish it, or something close to it.

Master these customer service techniques and you’ll produce satisfied (and profitable) clients.

Account Management: is it an art or a science? I’m here to tell you that it’s a little bit of both.
The key to maintaining client relationships is good customer service, and there are many aspects to customer service that one must master in order to produce a satisfied client. Here are a few key tips and best practices to help make you hone your account management skills:
Know your clients’ businesses
Understand their brand, their marketing objectives and goals. Always be aware of what their competitors are doing.
Think like a brand person
Help your clients meet their needs by providing strategic thinking as an approach to solving their problems.
Be resourceful
When attempting to come up with marketing solutions for your client, don’t always go for the tried and true.  Brainstorm with your team and be innovative.
Be responsive
When your client contacts you, respond to them immediately.  You may not always have an immediate answer to their questions, but you can let them know you are looking into it and will get back to them within a certain time frame. If you are not available to help them at the moment they need you, appoint someone from your team who will be available to address the client’s questions/concerns while you are unavailable.
Develop a relationship with your client
Be friendly! Smile and ask about the kids or the dog.  Show them you are interested.  Remember, people want to work with others that they get along with, rather than those they dislike.
Be organized
Know where your pertinent information is stored and perform your work in a timely fashion and with accuracy.
Communicate
Reach out to your clients even when they are not reaching out to you.  Forward them interesting articles that you think they may enjoy or may be pertinent to their business.
Be proud (in a good way!)
Take pride in yourself and your work. Believe that the service you provide to your client is valuable.
Be accountable
Manage your clients’ expectations. If there are problems, discuss them and be honest!  If you make a mistake, admit it and offer solutions.
Under promise and over deliver!
You shouldn’t promise a client something you know can’t be done.  However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t shoot to accomplish it, or something close to it.
Master these customer service techniques and you’ll produce satisfied (and profitable) clients.

NBA All-Star Weekend 2010

One of the things that I love about my job is that it changes all the time. No two days are alike, and there are always new challenges to take on.  And then of course, there are some days that are much more fun than others.

Strobe handled the Team Xtreme All-Star Sweepstakes on behalf of our client, Pepperidge Farm.  Kids ages 6-13 entered an online sweepstakes, and 4 lucky kids, and their families, won a trip to Dallas, TX to attend the 2010 NBA All-Star game. Strobe helped coordinate the winners’ itineraries at the event, so I was fortunate enough to join them in Dallas.

I was there to ensure that the winner’s experience was everything that Pepperidge Farm wanted it to be. The weather gods were not on our side, so there were a few snags in the winner’s travels.  Eventually, all four families arrived in Dallas.  To add to the fun, Dallas experienced a record- breaking ten inch snowfall upon our arrival!

I met with the families and went over all the events of the weekend. Their prize included tickets to The Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam on Friday night, the All-Star Saturday Night as well as the 2010 NBA All-Star Game.

Pepperidge Farm had also put together a bag for each winner that included some NBA items, new sneakers, and of course Goldfish® crackers. We gave each of the families their welcome packages and I could see the excitement in the kid’s faces.

The other part of their prize was that they got to meet Miami Heat player, Dwyane Wade.  Pepperidge Farm had a Team Xtreme booth at the consumer All Star Jam Session where kids could come and play. Our 4 winners got to meet Dwyane Wade and play basketball games with him while hundreds of onlookers watched.  Our winners were one of the few kids allowed to play with Dwyane and I think it was a highlight of the trip for them.

The winners with Dwyane Wade

The winners with Dwyane Wade

I was there to answer their questions throughout the weekend, and handle any issues that came up. Other than the travel, all went smoothly. We were all at the same hotel, so I saw the kids throughout the weekend. Every time one of them saw me, I’d hear “Hi Sheri” screamed across the lobby. With all the players and coaches etc. at our hotel, it was funny that I was someone that they wanted to see!

John Starks & I

John Starks & I

And this is where more of the fun of my job comes in….I also was able to attend all the NBA events as well as the Dwyane Wade appearance.  I will say at a statuesque 5’2”, I’m often considered vertically challenged. Being with all the NBA folks certainly helped to illustrate this. There were times when players actually didn’t see me and just walked right into me (thank you BJ Armstrong!).

Overall, it was a great weekend. Tiring, yet rewarding. But, I have to say that being a Giants fan, it was very difficult being in “Jerry World” (aka Cowboy Stadium) for the game. All that Dallas Cowboy paraphernalia gave me the willies!

Working (and Playing) as Part of an Integrated Team

They say, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”  As promotion marketers, the last thing we can afford to do is to create a dull promotion. So, how do we keep the energy high, the ideas flowing and the camaraderie among agencies on the same marketing team strong?

Sometimes simply having fun is the best way to connect an integrated marketing team.  In our world of promotional marketing, we often collaborate with other agencies to help build a promotion. I was lucky enough to be a part of a team building experience while working on a client’s promotion with multiple additional agencies. The promotion targeted children ages 6-13 and encouraged these children to “be active.”  Everyday a child could go to the website and enter their “play time” from that day to get an entry into the sweepstakes. On the site we suggested classic games like kickball or soccer for example, but any outdoor activity will do!

dodgeballIn the interest of helping our team to bond, the 4 agencies along with the client organized a “Game Day,” an opportunity for team members to get active and play as well. If you can imagine, the group was made up of about 45 people. We split into 3 teams and took turns playing soccer, kickball, and dodge ball, ending the day with a three-legged race. I have not played these games since I was 11 years old at sleep-away camp. The competitive child in me showed her energetic face once again! We all felt like a bunch of kids running on the field, quickly forgetting about the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives and traded in our coffee mugs for fruit punch juice boxes and our high heels for sneakers.  It was a truly fun day, and made for a terrific team bonding experience!

This past summer, our “Game Day” was the perfect way to make friends out of coworkers, put a face to a voice on the other end of a conference call, and simply just to have fun!  Much like the team-building experience we had with these games as children, adults like us rely on classic games like kickball, soccer and dodge ball to help find a connection and build on professional working relationships. Outdoor team games like these are high energy, safe and inclusive activities that seem to be tailored for just such occasions. Elements of teamwork and competition are built into these team-building activities where participants share experiences with each other in an environment which is fun and stress-free. Feelings of camaraderie and the sense that “we are all in this together” are inspired and an upbeat outcome tends to emerge naturally as a result of people having fun together.

This team-building experience has helped this squad of multiple agencies and brand representatives to get better acquainted, build trust, improve communication and most importantly, learn how to solve problems as a group. Today, though the promotion ended and though it may be the 99th planning conference call of the week, I know that the group on the other end of the line will work just as hard as I do to make sure future promotions run successfully and smoothly, knowing that we really are all in this together!

[image: life is good]

The New Group Dynamic

We are learning so much about the group dynamic these days. I mean the REALLY BIG group dynamic…What does it say when a record amount of money is donated in a record period of time during a time of economic uncertainty?

This seems NOT to be about party politics or religion, but about humankind displaying a reflexive reaction to the tragedy in Haiti. Thanks to all modes of digital communications, people can direct their giving immediately, by texting, tweeting, posting, through e-donating and e-buying. And these channels, being what they are, provide an immediate accounting of this flood of goodwill. As of this writing, The Red Cross alone has raised $147 million in the US, including $25 million from text messages. That needs to sink in… $25 million (and counting) in two weeks, raised by individuals, reacting on impulse and TEXTING their donations, $10 at time. And that does not take into consideration other channels and organizations, such as this past weekend’s “Hope for Haiti Now” fundraising concert which donated funds to Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti Foundation,  Oxfam America, UNICEF, the United Nations World Food Program, the recently formed Clinton Bush Haiti Foundation, as well as the Red Cross.

Cell Phone - Haiti copy

The channels to communicate and contribute are as unfettered as they could possibly be for our time. If 9/11 was the opening chapter of technology-driven news, and the Tsunami (2004) and Hurricane Katrina (2005) relief efforts demonstrated how the internet could serve as a viable donation response channel, then perhaps the earthquake in Haiti is the event that will mark the coming of age of social media. During the past two weeks, “Haiti” has been a consistently trending topic on twitter and ever-present on facebook statuses worldwide. People all over the globe are using social media and mobile channels to come together and help others in desperate need. Never have so many offered so much, so quickly. Over the next weeks and months, we will learn whether or not governments and corporations can mobilize as quickly as the masses that have surged to support the relief effort.

The stories of death and destruction continue to mount in what surfacing as one of the singularly most horrifying natural disasters in history. That our society is attempting to respond in equal magnitude, through untested channels is a testament to the human spirit, and a reason to have unbounding hope.

Free Download: Guide to Social Media Marketing

It’s been predicted that 2010 will be the year in which social media becomes mainstream for marketers.  Facebook and Twitter have experienced a lot of growth in the past year, and are quickly becoming staples of well-rounded marketing campaigns.  If you’re not already planning on joining or enhancing your current strategy on Facebook and Twitter in the coming months, now’s the time to think about it.

Strobe’s new Strategic Thinker’s Guide to Marketing through Social Media offers tips and best practices for planning, executing and analyzing a social marketing campaign. Learn how to attract and engage a following and discover tools to measure your success. Download it here, free!

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Happy Holidays!

seasons greetings 09 sm

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strobe gift

For more information on the organizations we’ve donated to this year, please visit Habitat for Humanity, Nassau County & Island Harvest.

See you next year!

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