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top of mind marketing superbowl ads

Super Bowl Highlights: Odell and Eli?

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The Super Bowl is over for another year. Enough of Tom Brady and the Patriots; this year we handed the Lombardi trophy over to the Philadelphia’s Eagles, the underrated underdog that never stopped winning. And now it’s over. Hundreds of players can begin to heal their bruised and battered bodies before another violent season starts again in the fall.

Not a fan? Not a problem. Tune in for superbowl parties and ads

But the SuperBowl is so much more than a ballgame. This has been a year of political upheaval, so we expected advertisers to be sharing their not so subtle anti-Trump views throughout the game. We started out with an ad from Mass Mutual that had an overarching theme of people reaching out across demographics to help others, to create community. I thoroughly expected this to set the tone for the evening, but there were relatively few of these kinds of ads.

The NFL scored big with Odell and Eli

Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. teamed for a Dirty Dancing tribute to the new touchdown celebrations that emerged across the league this season. But there was another takeaway. It clearly illustrated the relationship between dancing and athletics. Don’t underestimate the strength and athleticism of dancers . The Giants had a miserable season. Odell suffered an early season-ending injury and Eli sat out at least one game. I’m looking for the Giants to stage a comeback next year.

There was T-Mobile ad with adorable little babies

Notable was the T-Mobile ad, featuring a lineup of adorable little cross-cultural babies. “Some people may see your differences and be threatened by them, but you are unstoppable. You’ll love who you want. Change starts now.” The ad created a Tweet storm from Trump supporters who promised to end service with T-Mobile. This was clearly not the way to MAGA. These people accused the T-Mobile folks of being SJWs–Social justice warriors.

Tide may have been the big winner

Procter & Gamble, the company that’s not afraid to spend big on advertising, scored a win with their stealth campaign, starring David Harbour. Their four terrific commercials spaced across four quarters was easily the game’s best campaign. You have to hand it P&G—making laundry detergent fun and interesting ain’t easy.

  • Kudos to Toyota, who made a social statement by focusing on inspiring athletes with artificial limbs. “When you’re free to move, anything’s possible.”
  • Danny DeVito starred as an M&M, which dovetails with my curiosity about M&Ms—when did these little candy-coated chocolate morsels become cartoon characters?
  • We learned about the efficiency of a Pringles stack: Create all the flavors of a pizza by stacking three Pringles—spicy cheese, pizza and barbecue.
  • Coke introduced their four new diet coke flavors— Ginger Lime, Feisty Cherry, Zesty Blood Orange and Twisted Mango. I just learned that Coke tested more than 30 flavors with 10,000 people before deciding on these flavors which they hope will bring new fans to the brand.
  • Oz was the spokesperson for Turkish Airlines. Exotic Turkey, with one foot in the east and the other in the west. Dr. Oz, of course, is from Turkey.
  • Sadly, Budweiser chose to do endless dilly-dilly ads for Bud Light rather than the warm, fuzzy ads with puppies and horses that we have come to expect. Big disappointment from the Bud folks.

One final thought

It appears that Tom Brady, unlike the rest of us, hates to lose. He refused to shake hands with Nick Foles. Instead, he sulked on his way to the locker room. Definitely time to pass the mantle.

Do you need help developing and managing a marketing plan that will help you prepare for growth? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and marketing experts.  

top of mind marketing: fake news: tired of it and doing something about it

Exhausted by Fake News and Doing Something About It

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One year into the Trump administration and it feels like a lifetime. You’d think we’d be immune to it all, but we’re not. We’re shell-shocked. Crises followed by unspeakable tragedies. The assault on our democratic institutions is constant and aggressive. We’d never heard of fake news until Donald moved his ill-prepared advisers, family and hangers-on into the White House. Donald’s constant assault on highly regarded newspapers such as The Washington Post and The New York Times, calling them “failing” is his way of undermining our freedom of speech, a basic right guaranteed by our constitution.

Instead, Donald is glued to the real fake news . . .

Donald gets his news from Fox, Breitbart and other negligible institutions which have legitimized these “alternative facts”. So yes, fake news is a big problem. But the people who believe fake news are the same ones who believe everything they see in print. “I read it on the Internet”—so it must be true, right? Really, really wrong. They read the tabloids, the sleeze sheets at the checkout counters, and believe the headlines.

What’s most disturbing is the we’ve raised a generation of people who have lost the ability to think, to question, to differentiate  between legitimate reporting and that which is pure fabrication. People should have a fundamental sense of media literacy. A recent study released by Stanford University researchers, showed that many people don’t.

If you’ve completely lost hope, here are some ways to prove the legitimacy of a news story.

  • Pay attention to the domain and URL. Established news organizations usually own their domains and they have a standard look with which you are probably familiar. Sites that end with .com.co should tip you off that they may not be legitimate. This is true even when the site looks professional and has semi-recognizable logos. An example: abcnews.com is a legitimate news source, but abcnews.com.co is not, despite its similar appearance.
  • Read the “About Us” section. Most sites will have a lot of information about the news outlet, the company that runs it, its leadership, and the mission and ethics statement behind an organization. The language used here is straightforward. If it’s melodramatic and seems overblown, it’s a red flag. You should be able to find out more information about the organization’s leadership in places other than that site—it should be all over the web. Google the leadership and look at their credentials. If it’s questionable, so is the publication.
  • Be wary of the lack of quotes. Most publications have multiple sources in each story who are professionals and have expertise in the fields they discuss. If it’s a serious or controversial issue, there are more likely to be quotes–lots of them, from industry experts. Look for professors or other academics who can speak to the research they’ve done. And if they are talking about research, look up those studies.
  • Be equally wary of the source of quotes. Check the sourcing. Is it a reputable source with a title that you can verify through a quick Google search? Let’s say you’re looking at an article that says President Obama wants to take everyone’s guns away. And then there’s a quote. Obama is an official who has almost everything he says recorded and archived. There are transcripts for pretty much any address or speech he has given. Google those quotes. See what the speech was about, who he was addressing and when it happened. Even if he did an exclusive interview with a publication, that same quote will be referenced in other stories.

The internet means that content lives forever; we now have the ability to validate the news we’re receiving. It’s up to each of us to be a critical thinker. To support free and independent journalism. Our founding fathers understood its importance to a system of healthy checks and balances, the fundamentals of democracy.

Need help creating real news?

Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and internet marketing experts.

top of mind marketing Sarah hucklebee sanders is complicit

The Word of the Year: Complicit

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And the winner is . . . “Complicit”. Every year Dictionary.com identifies the one word that has impacted us the most. At Dictionary.com, the Word of the Year serves as a symbol of the year’s most meaningful events and lookup trends. Just as Time magazine names its person of the year–that individual who has most influenced the world’s news–the Word of the Year is that word that has popped up in the most conversations. Dictionary.com’s decision is data-based; they can track and review the number of searches over the course of the year.

Complicit means “choosing to be involved in an illegal or questionable act, especially with others; having partnership or involvement in wrongdoing.” Being, at some level, responsible for something . . . even if indirectly. Those who stay silent and do not speak out are also complicit; by not being against something, we are condoning it.

A year filled with political chaos

In a year that has been filled with an unprecedented level of political chaos, “complicit” is a word that has filled the headlines for a year. It began with the inauguration, and it steadily gained momentum. From Russian mafia to officials at the highest levels of government, the Trump administration seemed to be complicit with all of them.

Complicit experienced a huge spike on April 5

The largest increase in lookups for complicit–up more than 11,000%–was on April 5, when Ivanka Trump tried to redefine complicit. CBS’ Gayle King asked her about the accusations that she and her husband, Jared Kushner, were complicit in the actions of her father. Her response: “If being complicit is wanting to be a force for good and to make a positive impact, then I’m complicit.”

It’s important to note that complicit is not one of those words that can have both positive and negative connotations, depending on your orientation. There’s nothing positive about this word. Being complicit is negative. It means that a person is involved with someone or something that’s wrong. Politics aside, whether you’re a conservative or a liberal, the meaning of complicit cannot be construed subjectively. Ivanka Trump went on to cap off her own personal definition of complicit with “I don’t know what it means to be complicit.”

 Climate change and the Trump administration’s complicity

For years we’ve been learning about climate change and how we’ve damaged our environment. We all have worked to decrease our footprints, determined to become better stewards of the environment. Companies began rethinking their business models, communities incenting their citizens for embracing clean energy. Solar power and windmills became more affordable and the technology improved. Yet Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement, and his EPA chief has been complicit in his refusal to acknowledge that humans play a primary role in climate change. Information on climate change was removed from the government’s website this year. If only it were that easy. Removing it from a website won’t make it go away.

During the past year we have seen the extreme weather conditions that have brought widespread destruction that climate change can wreak. Terms like climate change, global warming, and carbon dioxide all showed up trending searches this year.

Power and sexual assault

In 2017, allegations of sexual assault were made against a growing number of powerful men, resulting in the resignation and firing of people across multiple industries. Film executive Harvey Weinstein emerged as a longtime predator after numerous women stepped up to tell their stories of sexual assault that lasted for decades. Even worse—his complicit staff covered up for him, often arranging his sexual shenanigans. Weinstein’s downfall inspired other assault survivors to come forward with their own stories.

Dictionary.com has used its platform to make a data-driven political statement. But the bigger message may be something we’ve always known, that words have the power to shape dialog and the way we interpret events.

Having trouble harnessing the power of words for your business? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and internet marketing experts.

Top of Mind Marketing_ who reads newspapers? You'd be surprised. circulations are rising

Who Reads Newspapers Anymore? You’d Be Surprised

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I’ve always loved newspapers, and it stems from childhood. My family always got the daily newspaper and we shared it among the five of us. We could count on my mom to completely trash it. She never put the sections back together, so we had to reconstruct it before we could properly read it. I promised myself that when I was on my own, I’d buy my own paper and be the first one to touch its crisp, pristine pages.

Like most newspaper devotees, there’s something ceremonious about this. I read the sections in a certain order, beginning with the sports page; when I’ve finished I feel better able to understand my place in the world.

Even as Trump harangues journalists, circulations are on the rise

Sadly, with the rise of digital, we’ve seen newspapers around the country steadily going out of business, and many think the industry is dead. Not so fast. Even as Donald Trump continues to harangue journalists and label excellent, iconic publications like the New York Times and Washington Post fake news, their circulations have risen. What’s happening may be a backlash to Trump, but thoughtful people still want to know what’s going on in the world, and they know they’re not going to comprehensive information from FOX.

Those newspapers that have survived are adapting and filling a need. They’re finding new ways to reach their audiences. Publishers are taking digital strategies and applying to them to their print operations.

1.Deepen the focus on local markets

Hearst Newspapers has acquired dozens of newspapers since 2016. A big part of their strategy is staying local, placing an emphasis on regional excellence. Hearst started as a family newspaper, and it has stayed true to these roots, even as the chain has grown to a huge, diverse media company extending to 150 countries, generating $10B in revenue.

2.Deepen the engagement

Combine the newspaper with a digital offering, creating free and premium websites. An example: San Francisco has sfgate.com and sfchronicle.com.

The SF Gate is fast and buzzy, run by a separate digital editorial team while the Chronicle is run by the core newsroom. By freeing up those sites to be more competitive editorially and more savvy on sharable content. The traffic has grown from 20 to a whopping 60% reach through this strategy.

3.Building market-specific products

Hearst has more than 4,000 employees across the country, publishing 22 dailies and 64 weeklies, but they’re committed to building products. Example: In San Antonio, Hearst started an effort called Spurs Nation. Neither a website nor magazine, it’s a whole platform, with a print product and a local Sunday TV show and digital video. The Spurs actually ended up working with Spurs Nation.

4. Leverage data to identify audience preferences

Hearst is investing big in data, because they want to know as much about their users as possible. Understanding their market means that they can continue to offer the right kind of content at the right times. Fundamental business intelligence is critical.

5. Speed to market with comprehensive news and information

You have to have something worth paying for. Breaking news might be one function; deeper analytical journalism another. There’s room for both. People are still reading. They’re curious and want to stay informed. There is still a need for information beyond the 140-character sound bite.

Hearst is on the move

Hearst is driving its own success through creative use of digital tools and social media, plenty of metrics and good old-fashioned reporting. We’ve come full circle. The delivery of news is really what newspapers are all about.

Are you ready to outsource your content marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and content marketing experts.

top of mind marketing on why business cards are not obsolete; they help make connections

Business Cards: Obsolete or a Great First Impression?

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Are business cards on the verge of extinction? I’ve been at a few recent events or in situations where I hand someone my business card and they tell me that their company has just gone paperless. What? Note that it is generally a company that makes this kind of decision, not an individual consultant or solopreneur.

Never travel or attend a networking event without a handful of cards

What happens to them after they’re exchanged is anyone’s guess. If you’re like most of my clients when I ask what they do with the contacts they make, they pull open a desk drawer and stare at a huge collection of dated cards. A better course of action, of course, is to be discriminating. Get cards from those people who are good potential connections. Add these people to your contact management system and newsletter list, connect with them on social media and schedule a coffee date with those whom you want to see again. Follow up with these people and build strategic relationships.

 It’s a physical reminder in a digital world

Of course, one reason business cards are disappearing from both our wallets and radar is our reliance on social platforms. Do we really need business cards when we can quickly pull out our smartphones and instantly follow one another on LinkedIn? Maybe a business card really is superfluous.

But what about these people who are now going paperless?

All of a sudden, the ritual of sharing cards has been aborted. That act of shaking hands, making eye contact and exchanging cards has lost some of its impact. It’s not that you were dying to get another business card, but that business card, like your website or any other piece of collateral, says a lot about you.

An attractive, well-designed business card reinforces your personal brand, helps make a favorable first impression and sets you apart. Many people these days are finding ways to individualize their cards without making them—they’re using the backs to include a quote, they’re adding graphics. Terrific logos go a long way towards personalizing your card. More important, if you’re sharing it with someone with whom you genuinely want to follow up, that card has important contact information that they can reference, and you never want to make it hard for someone to get in touch with you.

Ultimately, business cards are still useful at keeping you fresh in the minds of the recipient. For those who really do like to take those cards home and follow up with their new connections, an important opportunity to connect has just been lost.

Business cards: inexpensive and still relevant

I gave up on print collateral long ago. It’s expensive and quickly dated. When people ask me if I have a brochure, I have no problem telling them that I’ve gone paperless and direct them to my website. That’s a trend that many small businesses and consultants embrace. But I’m for hanging on to your business card. It helps create connections.

Are you ready to outsource your content marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and content marketing experts.

Great headlines are critical if you want your audience to read your posts

You Can’t Underestimate the Power of Rock-star Headlines

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These days, we’re all marketers. We’re all competing for eyeballs, frantically posting to our websites, blogs and social media hoping to build trust, brands and audience loyalty. But let’s be honest–what we’re really hoping to get out of this is new clients.

It’s hard to underestimate the importance of rock-star headlines

Each new social media application and blog platform that hits the marketplace represents new competition. So how do you set yourself apart? It’s difficult to overstate the importance of rockstar headlines. A good headline can entice and engage your audience to click, read, and share your content. Unfortunately, in many cases, headlines are the thing that is shared rather than the article. This is pure clickbait. It’s a scam when there’s no relationship between the headline and the article, and it’s doing a big disservice to your audience and the industry. But do you know what makes an engaging headline?

Listen to this: BuzzSumo analyzed 100 million article headlines. They examined stuff like:

  1. Headline phrases that drive most engagement on Facebook
  2. Worst performing headline phrases on Facebook
  3. Most effective phrases that start or end headlines
  4. Optimum number of words and characters to use in a headline
  5. Numbers to use in headlines that have the most impact
  6. Most engaging Twitter headline phrases
  7. Differences between B2C and B2B headlines

While there is no magic formula for creating a viral headline, by taking a look at what’s successful, we can model our own headlines on these formulas and capitalize on some of these trends.

Note: This research looks at the most shared headlines on Facebook and Twitter which tend to be dominated by major publishers and consumer content. Thus the insights will be particularly interesting for publishers. Business-to-business comes later this year.

Popular phrases in no particular order:

  1. Tears of joy
  2. Is what happens
  3. Are freaking out
  4. The only reason is
  5. Give you goosebumps
  6. Is talking about
  7. This is why
  8. Will make you
  9. Is too cute

As a serious business owner, a few of these phrases would never work for me. It’s clearly important to consider the industry. I’m very aware of the power of headlines and I work hard to make mine and those of my clients compelling and attention-grabbing. But there’s a caveat here. If you’re sending out a newsletter or posting a blog for someone in the legal or financial services industries, for instance, numbers 3, 5 and 9 are probably never going work for you. In fact, they’re wholly inappropriate for a lot of industries.

Data makes you rethink headlines

In the BuzzSumo sample, the most powerful three-word phrase used in a headline was: “Will make you … “ This phrase gained more than twice the number of Facebook engagements as the second most popular headline trigram. So why does this particular trigram or three-word phrase work so well? It’s a linking phrase. There’s a promise of a direct impact on the reader; it’s trying to elicit an emotional response; it’s the start of a relationship, which is what it is all about.

Curiosity and voyeurism also gain Facebook engagement

Headline phrases that provoke curiosity, tension and a sense of voyeurism also gained a high level of engagement on Facebook. For example:

  • What happened next
  • Talking about it
  • Twitter reacts to
  • Are freaking out
  • Top x songs

These days, with the White House in a daily state of meltdown, a lot of the headlines that gained traction are politics-specific. But this is a good example–readers are often curious about what is being talked about by people, what the top items are in a league table, or what is being said by people on Twitter about a topic or event. This type of content appeals to our curiosity and voyeurism. With the Trump administration in Washington, we’re seeing a lot of headlines with “are freaking out” in them, and they’re killing the ratings.

BuzzSumo cautions writers to avoid ‘what happened next’ style headlines. While they have performed well, Facebook now categorizes headlines that withhold information as clickbait and demotes them. I believe this is a good thing. We’re seeing way too much clickbait—headlines that just don’t deliver that shows a clear lack of integrity.

 Other engaging headline phrases are explanations

  • This is why
  • The reason is

We all want to feel that bit smarter after reading a piece of content. Explainer articles promise you an extra nugget of insight. In some ways they are similar to the “will make you” phrase headline as they make a promise about what you’ll gain as a result of reading the article.

We’re all looking for community these days, a sense of belonging to something. A word that has become part of our vernacular is “tribe”. These popular headlines appeal to a sense of tribal belonging. But don’t take these at face value. Model these headlines and make them work for you. Appeal to your own tribe.

  • 25 Things Only Teachers Will Understand
  • 17 Things Only Anglers Understand
  • 9 Things Only Girls Who Grew Up With Older Brothers Will Understand
  • 10 Things Only Night Shift Nurses Understand

Is a subject line important? It’s everything.

I just updated the list I keep by my computer—I try to incorporate these phrases into my blog and newsletter headlines and social media posts when they’re appropriate because I know that they’re powerful. I was working with a client one time and we were getting ready to send out her newsletter. I wanted to get her feedback on several subject lines. She was indifferent. “Is it important?” My answer: “It’s everything.”  

Do you need help with your content marketing program?

Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and internet marketing experts.

Engaging Your Audience with Content Curation

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These days when we’re all marketers, we’re constantly being assaulted with clever, new ways to engage our audiences. But content marketing in all of its manifestations—blogs, videos, infographics, etc.—is labor-intensive. It takes time to come up with good topics, time to fully develop them into well-written articles, time to come up with attention-grabbing headers and it takes time to find really good images that will enhance your blogposts. But let’s face it, you’re taking care of your family, your team and your clients and sometimes you just plain run out of time.

Let someone else engage your audience

If the goal is an engaged audience, why not let someone else’s efforts help you engage your audience? We hear a lot about content curation these days, and it’s an effective way to augment your own great content with quality industry articles and excerpts that can provide another perspective and offer value. Content curation is the act of discovering, compiling, and sharing existing content with your online followers. Something to think about: A full 68% of us rely directly on curated content as part of our overall content marketing effort.

 Content curation can:

  • Help you establish yourself as a trusted source for quality industry information. You may now be recognized as someone who always generates great content—expand your reach a little and be known as someone who also finds great content.
  • Build your own list of blog topics, speeding up your writing by providing more great blogs.
  • Make reporting on earned media mentions much easier.

Content curation is still dependent on great content

You should be reading industry journals, subscribing to newsletters and publications to stay on top of trends and new technology. Read the articles that your favorite industry writers are publishing, then repurpose them to your own website. Be sure to source them and link back to the site. I like to personalize this—add an intro and a conclusion so you’re contributing something of yourself to the effort. Tell why you this article or excerpt caught your attention; explain why you follow this particular author, etc. Big publishers like HubSpot and Buzzsumo offer content curation services, but these come with a price tag; there are other tools that make it easy to do this yourself.

Content curation: Getting started

Start clipping or saving articles that you like or that inspire you. Choose a post that is relevant, and ask yourself how you can add something of value to the conversation. I found a really great tool that is making it easy to clip articles that I like—Evernote. Just create a profile, then download their little clipping tool that you use to clip articles into the application. You can add images and notes so that when you’re ready to use one of your curated articles, you can scroll through the displayed items, select one and copy and paste it into your blog. I’ve been copying and pasting articles, quotes, and links that I might want to use at a later date into a word doc, but it’s a total mess, making it difficult to really see what I have curated. With Evernote, every article is individually displayed, with notes as separate items. This is a huge productivity enhancer.

So what should curated content look like

Here’s a page from a tech blog, Slashdot.

top of mind marketing screenshot of curated content

Note the way they identify the longtime reader, Esther Schindler and link to her website. The two indented paragraphs are taken directly from Esther. Below that the author adds a brief commentary or summary.

Curated content: coming up with good content is still a challenge, but sharing it is easier!

Using curated content is still a great way to raise your SEO value and enhance your website with quality content. When you’re busy, curated content can be a huge time-saver. But keep in mind that, just as with your own blogs, coming up with well-written content that meets the needs of your audience can still be a challenge, but sharing it has gotten easier!

Thinking about outsourcing  your content marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and content marketing experts.

Top of mind marketing updated its site by applying a new wordpress theme, updating content and images

New WordPress Theme Streamlines Website Makeover

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Websites have a shelf life. I’ve been busy with other people’s sites and neglected my own—pretty common for people in my industry. It had been four years, and while my site was built in responsive design, ensuring it would adapt across all devices, and I’d updated the content and consistently posted my weekly blogpost, the overall design was dated and stale.

Applying a new WordPress theme to the old site streamlined my project

For my site, rather than starting from scratch and building an entirely new site, I engineered a makeover–a facelift of my old site, which dramatically streamlined the project. The site was in WordPress, which has more than 2,000 themes, or templates. We identified a new theme that was modern but not too trendy, and applied it to my existing site. This was a fairly seamless process, requiring only some minor tweaking and a little customization. This was infinitely easier than starting from scratch with a new WordPress theme and building a new website.

New landing pages and images

I added three new landing pages under the Services tab and identified vibrant new images for every page, which went a long way toward upgrading the site’s visual impact. I also gave my logo a little refresh. We ported over all of my blogs—more than 250, believe it or not—and these required very little adjustment.

Areas for messaging or to showcase what’s going on in your company

One great feature of many of the new site designs is the areas for messaging or calls to action. My site design includes four tiles across the bottom where we can upload an image and a brief sentence—these are great for calling attention to events, new products, new blogposts, etc. Since I want to call attention to my 250+ blogs (!), I’ve added an image, a sentence and a link to four blogs. On the homepage, there’s also a banner that I can swap out, which I will likely also use to showcase a blog.

The result: For all intents and purposes, a new website

A new look and feel. Updated content. High-quality images. Today’s sites are simpler, there’s less drilldown and menus have collapsed. Today’s new website designs are slicker with more opportunities for messaging and calls to action. I’m delighted with the visual impact and the new functionality of my new website.

Is your WordPress website dated, no longer reflective of the company you are today? Contact us at Top of Mind Marketing today to talk about a makeover! We’re internet marketing specialists.

Two Bellman Two is part of Marriott's wildly successful long-term video strategy

Rethinking Content Delivery: Big Brands Embrace Video

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Video’s snagged a place in the Top 5 Trends for 2016

Take a look at any of the experts’ Top 10 Marketing Trends for 2016 and video has snagged a place in the top five. Sure, we all know we should be doing video—it’s great for SEO, it’s fun, engaging, informative and for certain demographics, this is the preferred way to receive information. But let’s be realistic. Good videos are expensive; they require scripts, perhaps a narrator, background music and professional videographers to create a polished product. And once you’re finished, it’s time for another one, and it takes time and money to keep producing high-quality products. You think they cost too much and have limited reach. Let’s take a look at a video that Marriott produced that’s been wildly successful.

Marriott’s 19-minute video: more than 8M YouTube views

Marriott released the follow-up to its Two Bellmen original short film earlier this year, with the sequel approaching 8M views on YouTube — more than the number of viewers who tuned in to see CBS’ premiere of Man with a Plan. This 19-minute action comedy, Two Bellmen Two, built its viewership over a period of months as consumers shared the content with friends via social media. This is important because it’s the result of consumers increasingly shifting their viewing habits from TV to smartphones and laptops. Savvy brands are creating content that makes an emotional connection with viewers andgets them in front of impressive numbers of potential new customers — in some cases, more than they could with a traditional TV ad.

“ If you deliver something that is valuable and they want to watch, they will actually engage,” said David Beebe, VP of creative and content marketing at Marriott International.

 Content production moves in-house as big brands build studios

This shift in the traditional content creation/delivery model was the topic of a panel discussion at the ad: tech conference in New York in December that featured executives from Marriott International and Charles Schwab. These two big brands are building in-house content studios to produce the kinds of content that today’s new consumers want. Make that millennials. They’re shifting away from TV to embrace a variety of digital content formats.

Demand for video is growing

As consumers look for compelling online content they can share with friends, the demand for video is growing. Brands need content that transcends traditional advertising, and this can be difficult for agencies to grasp. Two Bellmen was first launched in early 2015 and has received more than 5M YouTube views. A sequel came out in early 2016 and a third installment has debuted. Marriott’s efforts have proven successful enough that it is now licensing some of its content, turning its marketing into a revenue source. They’ve developed travel documentaries, webisodes, VR experiences and influencer-driven videos.

You have to be able to take risks; legacy attitudes can stand in the way

For marketers looking to jump into this kind of quality content, one of the biggest hurdles can be resistance from executives who are reluctant to make a significant investment when they don’t see a direct link to a sale. Legacy attitudes can hold companies back, so they must be able to take risks, make mistakes and learn from them. Charles Schwab, long recognized for clever advertising that reaches consumers on a personal level, created a small team three years ago that is focused on telling brand stories that connect with people. Previously, most of the content was focused primarily on traditional selling of products and services.

Today’s marketing is about telling stories

As brands increasingly become content creators, they need to consider new metrics that keep pace as they open the door to new relationships. At Charles Schwab, the content team demonstrated that the videos it created acquired new customers and drove existing ones to sign up for additional products. Brands embarking on a content strategy need to ensure that they continue to engage with their audience.

Are you trying to develop a results-oriented marketing strategy? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and internet marketing experts.  

Super Bowl Ads: An Emerging Social Conscience

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Another Super Bowl, and naturally, my team lost. After a miserable first half, the mighty Tom Brady, perhaps the best quarterback of all time, finally emerged from Sleepy Hollow and led his team into an overtime win. Atlanta had a fairytale year, a terrific MVP quarterback and a Hall of Fame receiver, but they collapsed.

top of mind marketing_terry bradshaw

We all know that the Super Bowl is only partly about football

It’s also about eating and drinking, a day for partying with your friends. And for brands and anyone who’s interested in marketing, it’s about the advertisers who drop millions of dollars for a chance to get in front of one of the biggest TV audience of the year.

Super Bowl ads are an effort to reach Americans on a fundamental, emotional level

They remind us that football is an American sport and this is our big tradition. We may love our craft beer, but we look forward to those Budweiser ads that break our hearts year after year—those magnificent Clydesdales, the puppies, the young servicemen and women coming home to cheering crowds.

While we can count on the usual awful to mediocre ads, there are generally a few that are really clever and leave us laughing out loud. Melissa McCarthy’s saving the whales/trees/rhinos ad for KIA may have been the best ad of the day. Procter & Gamble’s ad for Fabreze, depicting the halftime stampede to the bathroom, was terrific. But I’m holding out for Terry Bradshaw and the Tide ad. Score another big, big hit for those clever folks at Procter & Gamble. I’ve watched this one a few times now, and I laugh out loud each time. But it’s not just about Bradshaw–there’s a message here: It’s not about what’s on your shirt, but what’s in your heart. Peter Fonda fans loved seeing him back, though this time in a Mercedes rather than riding a chopper, “Still lookin’ good.”

It’s difficult to escape our troubled political climate

Many advertisers took a stand for diversity and inclusiveness. Coke reprised a previous ad, “It’s Beautiful”. When it was first broadcast in 2014, it prompted a backlash because it featured “America the Beautiful” sung first in English and then in Hebrew, Spanish, Keres, Tagalog, Hindi and French—these languages are, after all, spoken by Americans all over the country. Budweiser left the puppies behind this year and chose a serious political message in defense of the immigrants who have braved danger and adversity in pursuit of the American dream.

Standing for something besides the product

Super Bowl ad slots cost an estimated $5 million for 30 seconds, yet many brands are dropping the hardcore pitch in favor of a more socially conscious narrative—and may be taking sides for or against Trump. There’s a push for companies to show their social awareness. KIA’s message, for instance, is about environmental awareness. Aligning with a message shows that companies have a point of view, that they’re aware of the world around them.

Good marketing tells a story

The best ads aren’t just pitching their attributes. They’re telling a story because a story has the power to reach its audience on an emotional level, truly connecting with them. These are the ads—and the products—that we’re likely to remember when we get ready to make a purchase.

Thinking about outsourcing your content marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re content marketing experts.