On The Fifth Hour of Set Up.

On the fifth hour of set up M2W produced for me…

Five Golden Rings, with Aerialists A-Swinging

(Aerialists compliments of Cirque Central)

Tip: More than just a pretty face, performers can act as a functional piece of decor.

Promotional Idea: Natural Juice – Smoothie Company. Redefine your taste tests by transforming them into a fantastical journey. Image your current sampling campaign meets a Mid Summer’s Night Dream.

Aerialists in custom outfits can perform on custom cirque equipment that will transform our performers into nature spirits performing in a mythical forest. Higher performers can call attention while performers closer to ground level can provide the ultimate Instagram or Snap Chat post. Guests can snap pictures or videos of our aerialists pouring samples from high up in their mythical trees amidst mid performance.

* Music in Aerialist Video compliments of http://www.bensound.com

Training Is Everything

Never underestimate the selling power of a well-trained street team

The more “complicated” our clients’ brand becomes the more important it becomes to train our Brand Experts really well. At M2W we are known as YOUR ARMS AND LEGS IN THE FIELD…but if I could add something to our event division’s slogan it would be Your Arms, Legs and BRAINS In the Field!

At M2W we have very long term relationships with our customers, and with long term relationships come the challenge of constantly trying to raise the bar. Most event companies think this means coming up with a bigger and better WOW! factor – it does, but it also means raising the bar on the staffing/training side. Training takes a lot of brain power, not only from the Brand Experts as they learn, but from our management team as they put together a creative, dynamic training curriculum.

Fortunately at M2W we have an incredibly talented staff that understands the importance of a well- trained, well-branded street team. While they themselves aren’t always the most structured bunch, it seems to me they really put client product training, appropriate staffing (the right peeps for the event demographically) and key message delivery as a priority.

I look at training/staffing the most desirable street team like cooking a healthy dinner: make sure you have a lean protein to start, one or two strong BE veterans that have worked many of this specific clients’ events. Then add the green veggies for simple carbohydrates, a couple of rookies are OK (they have great energy since they are new to the biz – or to this specific client – and energy abounds) and then add a few complex carbohydrates (these are your constant BEs – they won’t win any “bubbly energy” contests, but they are always on time, have key messaging down and always follow the rules). This would be an ideal group to train.

Leslie Voigt-Kenfield, M2W Director of Operations, has been dynamic in developing some really great training programs, including a training webinar that she and our client MetroPCS worked on together. Leslie also conducts some really “FUN” training sessions in her markets coast-2-coast. We are also fortunate to have some other good trainers in both our management teams and Brand Experts. My hat goes off to Sophia Jackson (NY/NJ Market Manager) and Joseph Lanzarin, also on our NY/NJ team…and then there is John Mitchell – a Brand Expert extraordinaire – he is truly the best Brand Expert I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. On the video below you will see Sophia, Joseph and John on stage as they train and interact with our A Team of Brand Experts during extensive, high profile training in Manhattan. The video is courtesy of our Director of Business Strategy, also out of NY/NJ, Jen Cho, as she oversees all trainings in NY/NJ.

Some key points of a good training session:

  • Plan on spending 4 hours of preparation for every one hour of training
  • Make sure that you have the client buy-in, that the client knows exactly what your training entails and that they have provided the necessary training materials
  • MAKE IT FUN- Games, prize drawings…yes, even role playing can be fun!
  • MAKE IT INTERACTIVE-let the hams get up and strut their stuff, if anyone is a little bit introverted now is the time to put them to the test…and weed them out…this business is absolutely NO place for an introvert
  • Feed them, if you are feeding them you don’t have to pay them. I’m not a proponent of paying any Brand Expert to show up for training…as long as we are guaranteeing them work.  If you are not guaranteeing the BE work, then you should AT LEAST feed them. My staff disagrees with me on this, but that’s OK.
  • Give them the next training date…make sure that you have a follow-up date for the next get together, you might even give some of your “training superstars”  a chance to be involved in the next training.
  • Take pictures…or make a video like this one…

 

Training Is Everything

So, to our potential clients, make sure that you hire an Experiential Event Company that believes and executes (often) training for their staff, which ultimately will be representing YOU in the consumer’s eyes.

 

The Fab Five: Five Social Media Tips and Tricks You Need to Know

Over the past couple months, we have seen a significant amount of change in the world of social media: from the birth of Google+ to the constant transformation of Facebook. It’s a testament to the fact that the world of social media will never stop evolving. To help keep you current on some of the things that are going on, I have made a list of five tips and tricks that I think you should add to your social repertoire. Here goes:

1. Google+ Hangouts Directly from YouTube – If you haven’t heard, Google+ is the new social media platform that Google just rolled out last month to compete with Facebook. It is still in limited field-testing, so a finite number of users have been allowed to sign up. However, if you are one of the lucky ones that is already Google Plus-ing, here is a cool tip: If you are watching a video on YouTube (another Google product), you can start a Google+ hangout directly from the Share menu. (For those new to Google+, a hangout is an informal, impromptu video chat session. It’s a way of saying, “Hey I’m online and ready to chat with whoever else is out there.”) This allows you to watch and comment on videos with up to nine of your friends in real time – as if you were sitting in the same room. You can play, pause and stop the video you are watching and the action will be mirrored on your friends’ screens.

2. Uploading Photos Directly to Twitter – Last week, Twitter announced a new, long-awaited feature. You can now upload photos to your Twitter feed directly from your Twitter profile instead of having to rely on third party applications like Twitpic and TweetDeck. All you have to do is click on the camera to add an image to your Tweet. If you are a current Twitter user, you should see this notification next time you log in to your account:

3. How To Customize Your Facebook Status Update Settings – We’ve all been there. The office gossip asks to be your friend on Facebook. You don’t want to say Yes because you don’t want everyone from work knowing your innermost secrets. But, you can’t say No because it will cause tension with your co-worker. So, you begrudgingly confirm the friend request and begin the practice of meticulously monitoring and censoring all of your Facebook activity.

Shouldn’t there be a better way? There is! You can customize who sees certain information on Facebook. Just go to Privacy Setting under the Account menu.

Under Sharing on Facebook, click on Customize Settings (refer to screenshot above). From this screen, you can control how and with whom every piece of information is shared on Facebook: things you share, things others share and your contact information. For each item, you can select to share with: everyone, friends of friend and networks, friends and networks, friends of friends, friends or you may customize a list (see below).

The custom list is where your power lies. This is where you can choose to share information with friends but then you can list anyone that you want to exclude from the list under the Hide This From section (see below). So all of your friends except for the office gossip will see your posts. Who ever thought Custom Privacy would be such a beautiful concept?

4. How To Customize Your Facebook News Feed Settings – On a related note, say that the office gossip posts twenty times a day about things that you could care less. You can’t remove her (or him) as a friend because, as stated previously, you don’t want to ruffle any office feathers. But, you can’t stand having your News Feed cluttered with meaningless information. Here’s what you do: Click on the “x” next to the post in question.

This will bring up a menu where you can specify one of the following: Hide this post, Hide all by [person’s name], Hide all by [application’s name], or Mark as Spam. If you choose to Hide all by [office gossip] you will no longer see any posts by this person. You will be happier and that person will be none the wiser. Everyone wins!

5. “On This Day…” Facebook Gets Nostalgic – I have saved the best for last today. There is a rumor floating around that Facebook has started rolling out an update to user profiles. Whenever you are on a Like page or another Facebook page other than your own, you will see a section on the right called On This Day. The section will show what the currently logged in user posted on the same day in a previous year (provided that you actually posted something).  This feature could potentially be quite hilarious or severely humbling depending on the nature of your posts.  Has anyone experienced this new feature yet?

So, there you have it: The Fab 5. I hope this has been informative, entertaining and/or insightful. Please comment below – I would love to hear what you think about all of these features.

 

Great Examples of “Out-of-Home” Ads

At M2W we aren’t just about street teams and handing out “tchotchkies.” We also have an incredible creative department. Taylor Potts and his team do some amazing things. It wasn’t until I was browsing the Internet for some creative ideas for billboards (excuse me, I believe it is called Out-Of-Home media now) that I came across some amazing pieces of complete and utter creativity…that would even make our M2W Creative Team say, “WOW!”

Many of these were anonymously posted on various marketing sites, but a few you will recognize like Bic, Adidas and Cingular (the old ATT).

The key to this type of creativity is to do things BIG!  For BIC…and if we can do this (shave a field)…just think what we can do to your face…WOW!  Adidas has always been a soccer (European football) leader but to maintain their position as the larger-than-life football brand that’s what they did, a giant football player diving for an Adidas ball  directly over your car…impressive and WOW!  A simple board mounted at an angle by the billboard company and Silberman’s Fitness Centers more than get their point across.  Mr. Clean and Fed Ex Kinkos used simple cross walks and paint to get their point across.  Enjoy and if you’ve got some great out-of-home visuals you’d like to share with M2W…we buy great ideas….really.  So feel free to contact me at clare@m2winc.com …and let’s talk.

Football for Fans or Fantasy?

Usually I would write about marketing items, but with football season maybe on the horizon I thought I’d touch on that subject instead. I love football and everything about it: the fans, the spirit, the smack talk and the all around competitiveness. This is especially true for college football (Gig ‘em Ags!) But my beef today is not about college football, as they’ve got their act together for the most part, but rather about the NFL and the current lock out.
As of today the lockout is going for a vote with the players. I’ve been following this lockout pretty closely but not because I’m a diehard NFL fan, but rather I’m a diehard NFL Fantasy Football Fan. I don’t have a team. Just because I’m from Texas doesn’t make me a Cowboys fan or a Texans fan (but my girlfriend Steph has that team covered). I like players from all over based on their skill and talent which makes me the perfect person for Fantasy Football.
Its official you now know. I have been playing Fantasy Football for over eight years and I play in at least three leagues annually. I play with all girls, with work and in a league where I have been the only female there forever. I even got my husband started in playing (and he’s a walking football stat book). My favorite time of the year is league draft time. Whether it’s an online draft where you have to take your key players quickly or they’ll be gone or a live draft when another woman says she’s taking a player because of the college he went to or how he looks, I love my drafts.
With this new lockout…we are looking at a very rushed draft and the not knowing of what they are really going to look like out on the field since there haven’t been any “real” practices. I will admit I was sweating some of the lockout. I have some great players on some of my teams that I’ve worked hard to obtain and I didn’t want to lose them. Call me selfish, but man I wanted to win big this year and this lockout could have possibly derailed this for me.
I’m hoping today things go through on the players end quickly and smoothly. If that’s the case teams will be at training camps in two days and I’ll have a chance to see how the players end up with the new salary cap. Then I can finally decide who I really want to keep and drop prior to my league drafts. Fantasy Football is big business and I’m invested in it. I like being my own Jerry Jones where I decide who I play on what day and it’s not about the paycheck, but about who is performing.

P.S…..you are all going DOWN this year!

Unplugged

I have written before about being a Crackberry-aholic. I truly am always plugged in. Between my Blackberry, laptop, iPad and such I am always in tune with what’s going on at work, in the social elements (Twitter, Foursquare and Facebook) and I’m always reachable. But recently I had the chance to truly “UNPLUG” from the world and let me tell you I think it saved my life.

 

I took a vacation and spent six of those glorious days camping with my husband and son. We had no electricity where we were staying so needless to say I had no TV, no cell, no laptop, no internet, no Twitter and no text messages at my disposal. I thought I would have major withdrawal symptoms since I live on my phone and computer. What would I do with nobody reaching out to me to solve a problem, or someone needing me to approve a project item? How would we survive with no DVR or TV? I wasn’t sure but I was game to find out.

 

Day one was a bit tougher than I thought. I kept reaching to my pocket for a phone but it wasn’t there (I did have it charging in the car in case of a medical emergency).  I had to resort to just truly enjoying my vacation and the wonderful world we live in. The state park we were at was huge and there was plenty to do that didn’t require my phone or laptop (which I left the laptop at home as well).

 

For the next five days I managed to read six books on my Kindle (ok it’s techy, but was better than six hard back books), I played eight hour of cards with the family, I spent two hours daily swimming in the river and we managed to go hiking twice. All of it without my technological plug in to the rest of the world. At the end of our six day stay I truly didn’t miss being plugged into the world.

 

I continued that unplug mentality for the remainder of my four days off before returning to work.  In my 10 days away from work I had only made a handful of calls to my family and friends on the phone. I didn’t rely on my faithful friends Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare to share my who, what, when and whys of daily life.  I didn’t send 1001 emails and I managed only 10 text messages the entire time off. I had truly unplugged from the hectic world we lived in and it brought sanity.

 

I know most people don’t care that I got to unplug but since being back for less than week I have already noticed certain things in life.

  1. I don’t check my emails on my phone in the evenings as much. I have learned to turn off work after a certain time and know it will still be there in the morning.
  2. The click, click, click of people who text or email on their phone is rather annoying sound. (I didn’t really hear it previously.)
  3. I realize more often when people tune out of conversations to return text messages and emails instead of realizing it can wait another 10-15 minutes while we enjoy the face-to-face company we are having right now.
  4. I enjoy the quiet of life now. Just being and enjoying the beauty and sounds of the world around us is so peaceful and enlightening and I look for more opportunities to enjoy it.
  5. And finally sometimes we just need to be. Be in the moment and be with the ones we love. I truly valued the time with the family. I honestly miss playing Uno for hours with my little one while being in a tent.

 

I believe every once in awhile we must all unplug. I have challenged myself to unplug daily in some way shape or form. I challenge you to do the same.

Eggs

Blog…I could wait no longer…I only hope that someone searches for EGGS on an EXPERIENTIAL MARKETING COMPANY’S BLOG…this blog is probably our furthest removed from Experiential Marketing ever…it’s about EGGS…and in celebration of earth day and Easter… I just wanted to share a story about EGGS…you eat many of them, there are so many cool ways to prepare them…yet most people don’t really know the true story behind the majority of eggs that they eat…but I will tell you the story…certainly not to get you to stop eating eggs but to buy the “right” eggs and to boycott the wrong eggs.

 

Today my blog is on marketing for the earth and those eggs we love to hunt at Easter!!!

 

Fortunately, after years of educating my family they now BUY the right eggs…but it’s tough…you see commercially produced eggs come with big time “baggage”… that certainly isn’t listed on the label.  The “chicken or egg farms” (and I live in Iowa where there are a lot of these chicken confinement houses) are certainly not the pretty little red barns with the beautiful golden chickens/roosters roaming around showing off all their soft feathers.  The eggs you are probably eating originate in giant warehouses where hens are so tightly packed in cages and completely removed from anything that might resemble a blade of grass or a glimmer of sunlight.

Sadly, many of the hens are debeaked, that means that part of their beak is cut off in order to avoid them pecking one another and causing injury to each other.  They are fed low quality food (which of course you in turn eat) and given continual amounts of antibiotics to offset the numerous diseases that can crop up in their overcrowded environment. And don’t think those eggs are laid in pristine, natural nests either. They are laid in an environment that forces commercial egg companies to wash them in chlorine bleach due to the filth, which in turn strips away the eggs natural protective coating and can allow harmful bacteria like salmonella to enter the eggs.

So it should come as no surprise that eggs from “unhappy” hens are not as healthy as those from hens who have room to roam.  In 2007 eggs were sampled from free-range hens across the country and compared to the USDA commercial eggs from non free-range hens and the free range hens’ eggs contained half the cholesterol and twice the omega 3 fatty acids to help with circulation, heart health and hormonal balance.  In addition, the free range hens’ eggs had significantly higher levels of vitamins A and E.  BUT…buyer beware…USDA claims that “free-range chicken” labels can be put on egg cartons where the chickens have FREE RANGE of those disgusting chicken warehouses too.

So, here is my advice, take it or leave it, but since we just got done celebrating Earth Day…try to buy local eggs (in fact try to buy local “everything” if you can). Even if you live in the city…a local egg producer may be closer than you think. Check out the website www.localharvest.org to find a farm with free range chickens near you. Call them and they will probably be more willing to give you a tour of their family farm.

 

Take the Fresh Egg Test-

  • Submerge your egg in cool water
  • Fresh eggs will sink and lie flat on their sides
  • If the egg sits straight up in water, it’s more like 4 weeks old
  • If it floats – DON’T EAT IT!

Farm Fresh Egg Tips-

  • Do not wash farm fresh eggs
  • Because they are so healthy, they will be harder to peep when hard-boiled.
  • Best way to cook farm fresh eggs is to put them in a steamer basket for 24 minutes
  • The brand of steamer I have is a Black and Decker, but there are many varieties out there

 

So next blog I’ll go back to straight up marketing but this was one “egg”ception!

 

The Ever Changing World of Social Media

Just when you thought you had Twitter down, a basic understanding of LinkedIn and you finally know how to upload a video to YouTube, the world goes and changes everything! From plug-ins to location-based marketing initiatives to the move to higher bandwidth, there’s change afoot in the world of social media. Star Hall at Entrepreneur.com put together the top social trends of 2011 that I’m now sharing with you. This isn’t to scare you into not using social media – quite the opposite actually. This is to give you the knowledge and power to move forward with your social marketing plan with confidence.

1. Location-Based Marketing: Location services will grow in popularity as people get more comfortable checking in to a business. This will be the result of enhanced safety features — such as privacy options that block your location from public view — and more enticing brand offers. It’s time to acquaint yourself with sites and applications such as Foursquare, Facebook Places and Gowalla. These sites will help you better target prospects’ likes and interests, pique interest and influence purchase decisions by offering discounts, promotions or giveaways when they “check in” to your business.

2. Video Platforms: YouTube might be one of the largest user-generated video-sharing sites on the Internet today, but other platforms will begin to surface that are more business-focused, easier to market videos on and not as crowded. Sites like Viddler, Vimeo and Dailymotion will gain momentum with a stronger focus on live streaming on sites such as interactive broadcast platform Ustream, or streaming straight from blogs.

3. Text Campaigns: As the mobile arena grows, small businesses will continue to move marketing campaigns to mobile phones. Start by incorporating a mobile widget onto your site to help collect mobile numbers through an automated system and create campaigns specific to area codes or regions.

4. For Cause Tweet-a-thons: A Tweet-a-thon is a fundraising campaign on Twitter for which users encourage their followers to tweet about and donate to a particular charitable cause over a specific period of time. These initiatives will gain in popularity as savvy entrepreneurs capitalize on the relationship-building advantages of social media and the good publicity that comes with giving back.

5. The Move to Higher Bandwidth (4G): Say goodbye to 3G. The use of higher bandwidth will not only be a necessity but a demand from busy consumers. Widely becoming recognized with carriers such as MetroPCS, 4G speed allows marketers to get the message out faster with quicker download times. Jump on this bandwidth wagon early and incorporate it into your 2011 marketing plan.

6. WordPress-Based Websites: Open source publishing application WordPress will become the platform of choice. Why? It makes it easier for websites to implement search-engine optimization at little to no cost with plug-ins, which add specific capabilities to software applications. To stay competitive, I recommend that you consider moving your website to a WordPress platform. These sites are user-friendly and do not require knowledge of HTML code.

7. Plug-ins: The use of plug-ins will proliferate, with thousands of new options surfacing monthly. An increasingly popular plug-in is Scribe which monitors and scores your keywords and updates to your site automatically to increase results with your search-engine optimization.

8. Review Sites: Websites dedicated to customer reviews will dominate the social media landscape. Consumers want to be heard, and more importantly they want answers. Sites such as Groubal.com, will achieve this by consolidating common user-submitted complaints and presenting those petitions to businesses, demanding answers for their wrongdoings. Consumers are even creating blogs specifically about teaching people how to complain effectively. This is another reason to monitor conversations about your products and services online. Moving into 2011, make sure you have a plan for how to respond to positive and negative reviews. Remember to respond immediately. Reviews will start to spread like wildfire with these sites.

9. Monitoring Conversations: Show your customers you’re listening and responding. Set up online monitors for your company. You can choose social-media dashboards or keyword-alert services. There are free service sites Hootsuite and Tweetdeck. These dashboards not only allow you to monitor but participate in live conversations. If you haven’t set up Google monitors yet, they’re free. Go to www.google.com/alerts.

10. Presentation Platforms: As teleseminars become overused and tired, interactive web seminar platforms will step in to fill that market need. New presentation platforms such as SlideRocket.com and Prezi.com are incorporating easy-to-build presentation tools with social media, live feeds and video. People online want to see the presenter, not just listen over a bridge line. Choose your presentation platform for 2011 and make sure that it not only streams well but also allows for immediate interaction and cutting-edge presentation tools.

 

Do Something Different

Do something different.

 

I recently had the opportunity to work with a client that needed to “do something different”. The market had been overly saturated by cookie cutter, in the box campaigns and for this client the norm simply would not due.

 

M2W was hired to build a program that would launch this new brand into the market with a splash. Utilizing branding, social media, CRM direct marketing, experiential marketing, and campaign development/deployment we built a program that did just that.

 

Within the first few weeks after the campaign launch the client’s phone was ringing off the hook, but interestingly enough not just by their potential customers. Big leaders within the industry were taking notice and were calling to congratulate our client on the inevitable success of the campaign. It’s not everyday that you get a phone call from top executives of one of largest apparel manufacturers in the world.

 

It’s still too soon to see how successful the campaign will be in the long haul, but we are very optimistic about the future success of our new found client and their initiative to “do something different”. No problem…we can do that!