The Royal Announcement

When the birth of Prince George Alexander Louis was finally announced, the world breathed a collective sigh and moved on with life while companies jumped at the opportunity to somehow tie their brand to the announcement. This brand association strategy is known as newsjacking. You may be familiar with Oreo’s clever newsjacking during this year’s Super Bowl blackout. But companies practice newsjacking more often than you think. For some companies, the process is deeply ingrained as part of the public relations strategy in addition to the marketing strategy. It’s a great way to be associated with a hot topic and can go very well if done right. But sometimes companies also miss the mark. They are late to the conversation so their efforts go unnoticed or seem desperate. Sometimes companies try to newsjack a subject that is irrelevant to its brand. Case in point: Epicurious and the Boston Marathon or Kenneth Cole and the Darfur crisis.

However, companies for the most part do a good job at it. Take for example, the Royal Baby newsjacking by Pampers.

Pampers sells baby products. So it made perfect sense for them to do something. And what they did was spectacular. They appealed to parents and future parents by saying that all babies are little princes or princesses. Who doesn’t want their child to be compared with the likes of the Royal Baby? And just like that, the company’s tweet and video were shared and viewed by over 200,000 people.

You may be thinking, gee only 200,000 views? I’ve seen other videos hit over one million views! Well, while it is important to think about hits, it’s just as important to think about who you are targeting and make sure that you get to them. Hence the newsjacking. People who were following the Royal Baby news likely also have young children or know someone with young children. So it was a perfect strategy on the part of Pampers. They are a relevant brand, their messaging was good, and they did it in a timely fashion.

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The Mother of all Data

Do you remember those analog radios that required precise tuning to get the right station? You needed a certain finesse of the fingers – turning the dial one way and then another. The key piece to getting the right station was your ability to listen and weed out the noise from all the other sound waves coming through the speakers until you finally had the right station and you could dance to your favorite tunes.

I recently read two articles (here and here) on Big Data, which made me think of this radio analogy. The point these two articles drive home is that Big Data is just Big Data; it’s what you do with it that matters. In the world of marketing, this couldn’t be truer.

Now granted, the thought of endless spreadsheets filled with numbers may sound intimidating, but just like the analog radio, it requires “listening” to the numbers to find the information you are looking for while weeding out the unnecessary information.

I think Big Data is a very useful tool that can lead to great ROI for a company. But companies need to look at data as a tool to help drive decision-making and really learn to dig deeper.  As marketers, it is our job to ask the “why”,  the “how”, the “where” – the questions that help drive the analysis and result in key insights for companies. Without it, the data (big or not) would be useless.

Much like the radio, we need to know what we are looking for and where we want the dial to turn before we can get anywhere.

Shock Top and the User Experience

The summer between my junior and senior years of high school, I did a study abroad in Freiburg, Germany. I lived with a host family, attended language courses and learned all about the German culture. I particularly enjoyed the family dinners with my host parents and fellow housemates. In Germany, it is legal to drink beer and wine at age 16. So, many of our dinners included beer (we were in Germany after all!) and my host father taught us all about beer and the beer-making process.

And thus, my love for beer was born.

One brewery I came across about a year ago is Shock Top. I tried their Belgian White at a bar when I was out with some friends and really enjoyed the taste of it. And then a few months ago, I had some friends over and one of them brought over a Shock Top 12-pck with three of their beer flavors. So when we were assigned to research beers for my Digital Marketing class, I naturally zeroed in on Shock Top.

As with all beer and wine/liquor websites, the Shock Top website prompts you to verify that you are over 21. Once that is completed, you are taken to a very easy-to-navigate website. I am a very visual person and this website does a great job of using minimal words and lots of pictures to get their point across. As soon as I saw the website, I wanted to keep browsing through it. The sites provides information about all the Shock Top beer flavors, upcoming events, and locations where you can purchase/drink the beer. It also provides information about food pairings and recipes and does a good job of advertising the company’s Facebook page, their blog and newsletter, and the fact that they have a mobile app.

photo credit: Shock Top mobile app screenshot

photo credit: Shock Top mobile app screenshot

Of course I had to try the mobile app. The app was very user friendly and provided all the same information as the website. I also checked out the actual website on my phone. When I typed in the hyperlink, I was directed to a mobile phone landing page which offered the option of downloading the mobile app or going directly to the website.  Since I already have the app, I launched the full website and found that it was very responsive on my phone. I was able to navigate through it very easily and didn’t find myself scrolling through the site at all.

I have found that some websites haven’t caught on to the fact that many people rely heavily on their phone for information. And not providing a mobile app, or at least a responsive design to their website, may lead to more customer churn than they realize.

I think Shock Top has done a great job at integrating all its systems to provide a seamless user experience for its followers. They clearly get it.

So for all you beer companies out there (and any company for that matter), I suggest you follow Shock Top’s lead and get yourself into the 21st century if you haven’t yet done so.