Marketing Monday

Marketing Monday: QR Codes

First of all, I was MIA last week because I was sick in a way I still can’t quite believe. After sleeping 14 hours a day and being supermedicated the rest of the time, I’m finally feeling better. In other words, the blog is back on! Thanks for those of you who called or wrote to see where I was. Nice to know someone reads these!

Every Monday, Breaking Even talks about a business, website, or non-profit doing something cool to market themselves.

I first heard a lot about PR codes from this link from Hall Web shared by Marc Pitman.

I had seen one in a magazine a few months ago for a free music or short movie download but I didn’t know how it worked.

A QR (Quick Response) code is a sort of bar code that can hold information like a web address or contact information. It can be read with any smartphone (after downloading a QR reader application). It looks like this (scanning this will take you to the Downeast Learning website):

A QR Code I generated in about five seconds online. Have you seen one of these before?

A QR Code I generated in about five seconds online. Have you seen one of these before?

It has a lot of applications for print media/advertising. Many print companies like GreenerPrinter will generate them for you as part of their services but you can also find many free online QR  generators online. That’s how I made the one, stage left.

Some ideas I’ve read for QR codes are on temporary tattoos at an event, on business cards (holding the person’s contact information), and on flyers/ads to hold additional information that can’t fit on the printed page.

To read more articles about QR codes, check out any of the articles linked above, this Fast Company article, and this Mashable article.

Now if only I can get a client to try this out!

Marketing Monday: Betsy Thompson On Flickr

I got on Flickr about a year ago and didn’t think a lot about it. I upload pictures there of my mini-adventures. I used to put them on Facebook but I figure this way, I can just connect them to my Facebook account and people like my mom can see them without having accounts.

I was at the Chapter Two Gallery in Corea when I saw one of Betsy Thompson’s mixed media collages. They’re really fun and lively so I took one of the cards she had on hand there. (I see she’s restricted use of her images which is why I’m not putting one on this blog. I’ve put the link below though in case you want to check them out).

Now if you’re an artist looking for how to market your work, I think Betsy does a good job of showing her stuff and really using Flickr to keep in touch with her audience. She not only puts up her work for sale but photos from her life and recently a collection she did for Anthropologie.

Flickr allows not only a nice format to display photos (like the white wall of a gallery really) but allows the uploading of multiple images and video at a time (and you can even mass-tag images, which helps them come up in searches). With a Pro account ($20/year), you can also get some stats and additional upload space. A nice tool that I am only beginning to use to it’s full potential but it’s clear people like Betsy figured this out long ago.

If you are a business or non-profit that hasn’t checked out Flickr, I’d do a search for your company, yourself, or even your geographic area and see what comes up. And if you see a photo you like, contact the photographer and let them know. You never know what may come of it!

Anyone else using Flickr and enjoying it? If so, please find me! I need some friends…

Marketing Monday: Nervous Nellies

Every Monday is a preview of a company, person, or website doing something cool in terms of marketing. Have an idea? Let me know!

Nervous Nellies Enterance

The Nervous Nellies entrance let's you know you're about to do more than just buy jam.

Stonington Buy Local Campaign

Stonington's 'buy local' campaign is really nice. I saw it coming onto the island on a roadsign and liked how it was both positive and empowering.

I met Anne Beerits at Nervous Nellies Jams and Jellies when she was one of my first real clients. She was so nice and fun to work with and I told her if I was ever in Deer Isle, I’d stop by her shop.

When I was in town over the weekend, I stopped by her place. “See why I have such a hard time marketing this place?” she said. And I had enough material for about 100 blog posts just based on what I saw. Great products, a buy local campaign, an integration of art and product (Anne’s husband Peter Beerits is a sculpture), and a historical tribute to Deer Isle-Stonington (relics from Hardy’s, a local gas station, was saved by Peter and Anne and are displayed in the village/sculpture garden).

Anne is in the process of redeveloping their website but I think a place like this with a following (over 10,000 on her email list and decent foot traffic since at least 10 people came while I was visiting on a fall Sunday morning) is bound to succeed, online and off.

And because pictures say a lot, here’s a visual tour of Nervous Nellies in Deer Isle, Maine:

[nggallery id=1]

Marketing Monday: Method

Mondays, the Breaking Even blog likes to profile a business, non-profit, or person doing cool things online. If you have an idea, let me know about it!

A few years ago, my first dog Sadie spent a lot of time licking my kitchen floor. I hadn’t thought much about what I was putting on it until then but as an over protective first-time dog parent, I started looking at my options. Method (tagline: people against dirty) advertised in some of my favorite magazines and their natural cleaning products that smelled good sounded great to me. I’m now a fan.

I recently got an email about their new website. Now, it takes a lot for a website to get me to want to create a free profile for myself. But Method got me to create a profile on its new community website because it was actually kind of fun to fill out. What is one Method product that is my soulmate? What is the leading cause of dirt in my house? Sure, they collected my basic info but the fun questions balanced out the boringness.

For signing up, I also get 50% off a different product (user chosen) every week. I do like to save money on things I’d buy anyway!

Anyway, the way Method has made a space for their customers to talk about their loyalty is really interesting for the individual site visitors, but will probably also help them get some great data on what people like a lot and why customers buy their products (two questions snuck into the short profile questions).

The real reason I first bought (and still buy) these products however is that I appreciate the green but design-y aspect of the products. I even saw their detergent bottle won a design award. Living in a small house, I appreciate that under my kitchen sink isn’t half filled with a ginormous jug of laundry detergent!

To see the new site in action, visit

A complete aside: this email about the new site launch inspired me to wash my floors. Mmm, almonds. And since I ran out of cleaner, I got online to order some more… Holy cow, I’m just realizing now that this email campaign actually worked on me!

Marketing Monday: Time Warner Cable

Every Monday, it’s an example of a business, non-profit, or website doing something interesting to promote itself online. Got an idea? Let me know!

Now I’m not a big fan on national cable companies but I thought how Time Warner is handling their Disney/ABC negotiations pretty interesting.

They are keeping customers informed via email.

I’ve gotten a few updates about the current negotiations via Time Warner Cable email (and yes, I opted not to receive anything extra). I haven’t unsubscribed because these emails aren’t frequent. Also in their favor is they tend to be short and all driving customers to another website if they want longer versions of anything:

They are driving their customers to a separately branded website.

Time Warner needs to keep running its day-to-day operations going on their company website, and these cable negotiations are a small part of what it does. So, for this ‘campaign’ they’ve set up a different website for educational (and political) purposes. I appreciate how they have their company name in the sidebar (as in they aren’t pretending to be some third party group). But it is smart of them to keep their advocacy separate from their business, at least in terms of branding.

An informative graphic: saying more to people than they'd typically read.

An informative graphic: saying more to people than they'd typically read.

They are concentrating on education versus telling people what to think.

With graphics like the one above and other visual (and written) information, Time Warner isn’t telling customers what to think or do. Instead, they are educating and providing a forum. As anyone who has ever taught can tell you, allowing someone to discover for themselves (versus telling them) not only helps them learn better but helps them take ownership of the knowledge. Time Warner wants its customers to protest ABC/Disney’s price increases because they understand that the price increases mostly go to the programmers.

(Actually if you think of the info graphic above, not taken into account are the costs paid to run ABC/Disney’s business. Also if I did this for my business, you’d see almost the entire Breaking Even dollar goes to run Breaking Even Communications but that’s another story all together…)

In other words, if your company or non-profit is doing some advocacy around a specific issue, it might be a good idea to set up a different website.

I feel like there are other businesses/groups doing this separate website for an agenda idea but much less transparently… Can you think of any?

Marketing Monday: Jet Blue

Every Monday, Breaking Even looks at a business, website, or non-profit doing cool things online. Have an idea? Contact me and let me know!

It’s easy to do the whole internet marketing bit when things are going well but what about when you have a PR disaster? How do you handle bad press about your company when you’ve made yourself very available online?

Jet Blue had an employee freak out on them last week. He’s been getting tons of press and I don’t feel a need to give him any more.

That said, I do need to say how Jet Blue has handled it seems really great.

They’re keeping calm and carrying on.
The natural instinct when something doesn’t go your way is to disappear for awhile. But JetBlue continues their Twitter customer service and Facebook notifications about news and events.

They briefly and professionally addressed it on their company blog.
It would be weird to completely ignore the controversy but what should you say when you don’t want to be libelous or strangely silent? Read the great blog post solution called ‘Sometimes the weird news is about us…’ They aknowledged what happened and thanked their great employees.

This is bound to make it into some kind of ‘Letters for any occasion’ book.

Commenters may want the flight attendant rehired (or otherwise compensated) but not many people seem to be attacking JetBlue.
Comments were mixed about the incident but while people expressed opinions, many said they ‘still love Jet Blue’ or called it ‘my favorite airline’. Overall, ideally what you’d want to happen when your company does something ‘controversial’.

If you are a third party, might as well capitalize on a cultural phenomena (read: strike while the iron’s hot).
Want a t-shirt commemorating the incident? Choose from dozens of designs.
Want to watch an animation of the event? Check out this recreation in CG animation.
Basically, you could Google the name Steven Slater and any product you’d want and find some entrepreneurial person who’s set up a website around it. And hey, you’ve got to admire that on some level.

So just because you’ve made yourself accessible online, doesn’t mean you can’t handle it when things don’t go your way as a company. Take it from Jet Blue: be excellent, be professional, and realize this could happen to anyone.

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