Five Effective Brainstorming Techniques

Brainstorming can be one of the most inspiring and fruitful exercises a group or company can do. However, it can also be the most frustrating. Unfortunately, “it’s all been done before” and “there are no more new ideas” are often heard most when a mental wall hijacks the process.

When all hope appears to be lost, here are a few tried and tested tricks that can help spark new thoughts. While the below might not be appropriate for every situation, hopefully these techniques will result in more valuable brainstorming sessions:

The Sticky Note

Move away from the white board and give participants a stack of sticky notes. Set a time limit to write down the first things that come to mind on a given topic. Possibly propose a new topic (what you did last weekend, where to go on a vacation) to help inspire more creative thinking.

That Sucks

Come up with the worst idea for the topic (e.g., how do we sell fewer products, provide worse service, etc.). This might seem a bit contradictory, but the exercise of thinking of the worst idea can often produce one or two that have some legs.

What Would Jiffy Lube Do?

I learned this one from storyteller Jenne Fromm. Just as the title says, ask yourself what a company like Jiffy Lube would do and start hashing out ideas. Feel free to insert other companies for additional ideas (e.g., Walmart, Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Best Buy, etc.).

Expand Your Horizons

Point to a random word in the dictionary and use that word during the brainstorm. This serves two purposes; first, it helps generate new ideas and second, it expands vocabulary.

Walk Away

If ideas are simply not flowing, just walk away. Often times the brain will stay active on a certain topic while you’re thinking about something completely different. If you have a 2-hour brainstorming session, think about breaking it up — one hour on the first day, the second hour a week later. The key here is to make sure participants write their ideas down throughout the week.


Charlie_WellsHaving worked in marketing for more than eight years, Charlie Wells enjoys the challenge of brand strategy, particularly pulling insights from customers and consumers to develop smart, effective work. Between stints in advertising, he spent a total of five years in the restaurant business managing and running different establishments. When Charlie is not at his desk at KCG, he enjoys kayaking, camping and losing video games to his 6-year-old son and newborn daughter.

Project HoloLens: Will success go to Microsoft’s head?

My 13- and 12-year-old children, like so many kids, are HUGE fans of the online gaming craze, Minecraft. My son, who is a bit of a geek, has even recreated scenes from his favorite literary universe — Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Very impressive, I have to say (speaking as a geek myself). When I was his age, I used to LOVE to repurpose my mathematical grid-paper, along with my No. 2 pencils to create scenes from my favorite genres by coloring in very large pixels… So I understand the way the mind fills in the gaps, touching on those pleasure points of perception. His mom just wishes he was playing with real friends.

But never fear, he is actually playing with real friends. Their cousin even host his very own Minecraft universe, where they chat, chase, trap and out-build one another with the same fervor we used to play pickup football games in the backyard. I often catch a glimpse of my son smiling wryly, or laughing to himself, to the tune of his encoded tap-tap-tap. I am sure he has just outwitted someone and is doing the digital equivalent of a victory lap.

At Koch, I am a part of the Mobility Center of Excellence, the purpose of which is to explore opportunities across Koch companies where mobile development might create value. Apart from the challenges of trying to steer in this dynamic, but fragmented arena, there is also the fun factor: testing all kinds of hand-held devices, trying on the latest wearables, or, best of all — getting to demo various Head-Mounted Displays (officially referred to as HMD). The latter demos have ranged from a roller-coaster thrill-ride with Google’s Cardboard, to an alien adventure with Samsung’s new virtual reality headset GEAR, to walking through an Italian villa by way of Oculus Rift. Pure geek fun!

But each immersive experience has exposed the debilitating nature of HMD: A great experience for the eyes and ears, but essentially taking the user completely out of reality.

“It has been called “the most intriguing…technology…since the Oculus Rift.”

Then I read the February WIRED article about Microsoft’s Project HoloLens. Unveiled to the media early this year, it has been called “the most intriguing…technology…since the Oculus Rift.” (theverg.com) And HoloLens is quickly making waves in the world of virtual and augmented reality. It is billed as the perfect blend of both. It may, in fact, be just the right tool to overcome some of the constraints of current iterations of VR and AR.

About as lightweight as a high-end cycling helmet, the HoloLens (essentially a smart visor with internal projection screens and a host of external video sensors) can generate holograms, virtual environments and augmented reality — all in a way that does not otherwise “blind” the user. It elevates the level of user inputs by responding to gestures, voice and gaze.

This means, for the user, there is a spectrum of outputs as well a wide range of inputs. Normal activities, from sitting at a computer, or interacting with objects (real or holographic) or other people (also real or otherwise), to comfortably ambling through the living room, HoloLens, will allow the user “to do what we’re put on earth to do: interact with other humans, environments, or objects.” (WIRED, 76)

“Soon imaginative kids might be able to play in 3D, working alongside holograms of their real-life friends to build things together.”

Too good to be true? In the world of digital design and creation, the very utterance of the name “Microsoft” generates a gag reflex. However, if you are paying attention, you’ll notice on the fringes of its empire of mediocrity, that the minds up in Redmond, Washington (at Microsoft’s global headquarters) produce a steady stream of projects that are very inspired. Some of the most bleeding-edge digital/computing explorations I have been exposed to were projects of the self-same inventors of the Blue-Screen-of-Death, the Windows phone and SharePoint. Whether these inspired projects actually make it to the market is another story.

For Microsoft and HoloLens, the event-horizon may be getting very close. With new leadership, the opening up of their .NET programming language to the open-source universe, and a new operating system in the works, Microsoft is poised to storm the market with a brand new attitude, and HoloLens leading the way into what they think will be a “new phase of computing.” (WIRED, 76)

Perhaps most telling of all is Microsoft’s recent acquisition of the powerhouse game Minecraft. If the reviews and teasers are accurate, Microsoft is planning to position the game as a flagship application for the new HoloLens. If Microsoft can leverage the some 28.6 million users of Minecraft (theverge.com) as early adopters, they just might have an instant audience.

And if that audience is anything like my kids, they will have a built-in network of friends and family to recruit. “Soon imaginative kids might be able to play in 3D, working alongside holograms of their real-life friends to build things together.” (WIRED, 79)

I can’t wait to try it.  Uh, I mean, I can’t wait for my kids to try it.

 


 

Daniel Brake

Daniel Brake loves the challenges and opportunities posed by new technology. He works in the area of interactive and mobile design/development.

 

A Lesson in Fun: Drive Time, Meetingless Wednesdays and other Silly Ideas from KCG

Have you ever visited us on the first floor of the main tower in Wichita? People seem to be fascinated by the idea of “creatives” in the corporate world. When people give tours of the building, they walk through our space and say, “This is where the fun people work.” On employees’ first day, HR shows them the café, the in-house dry cleaning service and KCG.

While I love showing off our people, space and work, I wonder why everyone can’t be “the fun people.” Someone told me recently that I should teach a class on how to collaborate and have fun at work. I don’t think anyone will sign up — and I probably can’t convince the Market-Based Management® team to make that a part of their curriculum — but I can take over the KCG blog and wax philosophically without much resistance.

“Having fun at work is a requirement. And it is the furthest thing from being unproductive.”

First, can we all agree that FUN is not a dirty word? To me, having fun at work is a requirement. And it is the furthest thing from being unproductive. We spend more time at work than we do at home. Don’t you want to love that time? Yes, there are frustrating days. There are unproductive and redundant meetings. There’s burnout. But those moments pass. What I remember and cherish are the times I spend with great people, doing great work we’re proud of and having a little fun while we’re at it.

IMG_1101[2]

Mayra used her drive time to reignite a childhood passion: crocheting.

Some of what we do in KCG is completely random and unplanned. However, we are intentional with the space we have created. We are die-hard believers and try-hard practitioners of MBM®. It starts in the interview process. We are transparent from the beginning. This place isn’t for everyone. We work hard. We can work long hours. We have to be flexible, nimble and thick-skinned. We kind of have a no B.S. rule. We don’t like drama. We encourage competition amongst ourselves and our counterparts in the advertising/design community. But it’s built on a mutual respect and desire to build each other up and do great work.

Some of the intentional things we do to build a “fun” environment includes Meetingless Wednesdays. This idea is not really about having fun, but it is about getting things done. Which, to us, is fun. We can all get in calendar hell — go to a meeting, rush to the next one, answer an email, check voicemail, and in between, try to at least grab a coffee or two. Then before you know it, the day is gone and you have not really done anything you intended to do. As a creative team, we get paid for our ideas. If we aren’t thinking, we aren’t creating value. Meetingless Wednesdays block our calendars for the entire day so we can try to get some real work done. Occasionally we have to sneak in a meeting or two — but just seeing that day blocked out on my calendar is a freeing thought. A freedom to think, create, build, collaborate. We all need to meet less and do more.

IMG_20150210_101202[4]

Amy, who is already a ridiculously good baker, expanded her repertoire with strawberry and red velvet whoopee pies.

Along that same theme, we believe that passion breeds creativity. We also believe that not everything is created by sitting behind a computer monitor all day. You have to get up and GET OUT. Get out of your area, get out of your building. A small change of environment can make a world of difference. You literally and figuratively start seeing things in a different way. We encourage people to take their laptop and go sit in our lounge space, or take a notebook down to the cafe or take nothing and just go for a walk. Think, daydream, space out. We started something called “Drive Time” last year. This is a dedicated time for employees to get out and be creative, do something they are passionate about and open up their minds to new ideas and possibilities. We’ve had people teach themselves how to crochet and how to cook. Some have gone to the art museum or the bookstore. One person learned how to build a website and someone else wrote a short story. No, they are not working on billable work for a client — but each comes back with a new idea, a fresh perspective, a clear mind and a rejuvenated spirit.

925579_1774571839433592_1206550511_n

Ben went retro with his drive time by creating and coding his own portable video game console.

We have 30 people on our team now. When I started seven years ago, there were six of us. So building a collaborative environment where people truly like each other takes some work. But when you spend time with your co-workers, you start getting to know them, you start liking them and you start trusting them. When you trust each other, the challenge process is much easier. Collaboration happens. And the work is better for it.

We celebrate birthdays, babies, weddings, graduations and everything in between. We cheer each other on. When Chad ran his first marathon in Kansas City, several of us were there at the finish line. We play and hang out at pumpkin patches, restaurants and art studios.

While it may look silly, it matters to us. I have never met a group of 30 people that get along so well and genuinely enjoy being together as much as this group. All while keeping the common goal in mind, which is to do great work for Koch companies. So remember, play hard, work hard and have fun. Class dismissed.

 


Terri newAs the marketing director for KCG, Terri McCool is basically to blame for all the “goings-on” around here. From marketing strategy to brand development, Terri’s vision has propelled KCG to new heights. With more than 20 years of experience in marketing and advertising, Terri stays on top of the latest in the ad world by reading everything she can get her hands on and collaborating with her great team. When not at the office, her two teenagers keep her pretty busy. You can find her most days at a sporting event cheering on her son or starting a redecorating project at home.

 

10 Reasons I’m Thankful to Work in Advertising

1. Sharing funny TV spots with my co-workers.
A few times a week, I get on an email chain that starts out “Dude, have you seen this new spot?! Hilarious!” and then come back with “Awesome! Have you seen this one? It will make you cry.”

2. Keeping up with industry news is interesting.
Watching TV commercials is considered research. And it’s cool to learn about innovative campaigns from other brands and try to find a way to use that as inspiration for my own clients.

3. Meetings are actually fun.
Brainstorms, it’s where the magic happens. Ok, so the great ideas normally come in the shower, but our meetings always turn into laugh-fests.

4. Making clients happy!
Nothing makes my day better than hearing a client get excited about one of KCG’s ideas or getting praise from clients about our work.

5. It’s my job to keep up with pop-culture.
What colors were “in” for Fall 2014?
Sangria and Radiant Orchid.
What TV shows are getting the highest ratings (Outside of the NFL, obviously)?
NCIS and The Big Bang Theory.
Have I seen Taylor Swift’s new music video?
Make all the jokes you want, but I’ve got the chorus down.

6. My co-workers are the best.
I’m obviously biased, but I think people that work in advertising are the most interesting, eclectic group on the planet. I learn so much about life, new music, thought-provoking movies and pointless junk from those strange birds.

7. Advertising is challenging.
Advertising is a blend of art and science. Sometimes research can show us some things we can improve upon, but ultimately a lot of times there is just not a clear answer as to if what we did was right or wrong. It’s hard to compete with 15,000 other advertisements per day. Everyone has an opinion and that keeps things interesting.

8. I get to go on photo and video shoots.
Any time you get a chance to get out of the office, bond with your client and learn about lighting techniques is a good day in my book.

9. Every day is different.
One day, I may be crunching numbers and working on billing, the next day I may be flying to Chicago to test commercials. That beats my old gig as a loan officer any day.

10. Your friends and family can see your work.
It’s kind of hard to explain to my mom what I actually do, but it’s pretty cool to hear her tell you that she saw “your” spot that day (like I contributed at all in the brainstorm meeting).

 


 

Hoppock's Beautiful Mug

 

Justin Hoppock, account director extraordinaire, works out of our Atlanta office in the Georgia-Pacific building. As an AD, Justin works with a number of Koch company marketing teams to develop communication strategies and bring them to life. Even though he has a passion for TV commercials, Justin spends most of his time outside hiking in North Georgia, dropping bombs on the softball field or missing short putts on the golf course.

A Treat for Readers

Listen carefully and you can already hear the screams. It’s that time of year when complete strangers wander from door to door trying their best to frighten you. I’m not talking about election season. It’s Halloween!

My kids received long-distance mailings from their grandparents last week, including a little money to pick out their own Halloween treats. My son instantly asked to spend his at the bookstore. I absolutely love that he thinks it’s a “treat” to read. If I handed out books to other costumed crusaders, I’d expect to find my house freshly coated in egg yolks the next morning.

Thirty years ago this October, Pizza Hut founded its “BOOK IT!” reading program on the fundamental belief that if you want kids to read, you’ve got to give them a good reason. Who knew that you could convince entire generations of people to willingly digest pages upon pages of content with the simple promise of a free personal pan pizza? That’s exactly what Pizza Hut has done for decades, and they’re sweetening the deal this year with a $30,000 college scholarship for one lucky bookworm.

The success of “BOOK IT!” holds a valuable business lesson. It proved the importance of understanding what your audience craves. That’s not to say that every company should hand out free food and cash, although it might not hurt.

As readers, we don’t check out books just to see the “About the Author” page. And as consumers we don’t engage with marketing just to learn random facts about businesses.

David Jones, the publications manager for John Deere, recently spoke at the 2014 Content Marketing World conference. He shared that the company’s printed magazine The Furrow is still thriving after nearly 120 years. It’s now available in 14 languages, and a recent survey revealed that 45 percent of Furrow readers go through it from cover to cover.

Why? Interestingly, the magazine isn’t about John Deere and the company’s equipment. The business is seldom mentioned throughout decades of Furrow articles. Instead, the agricultural journal focuses on current issues and best practices related to farming. Since John Deere owns and operates the publication, it gets exclusive rights to the limited ad space. According to Jones, the majority of surveyed Furrow readers acknowledge that those ads are the first place where they learn about John Deere’s new products and services.

As readers, we don’t check out books just to see the “About the Author” page. And as consumers we don’t engage with marketing just to learn random facts about businesses. We seek entertainment or information that’s interesting to us. When we find those stories that resonate, then we tend to connect with the source. Companies like John Deere are increasingly finding ways to share their expertise in formats that are useful and intriguing to consumers. In return, readers are following those brands.

Before your next marketing project, consider what stories you’re telling. Are you serving up personal pan pizzas to entice your audience? Or, are you just feeding them the same old corporate jargon? Let’s treat them to something worth remembering.

 


 

Chad

 

Chad Armstrong first set foot in the advertising world as an account coordinator. He continued to pursue his dreams of writing and eventually worked his way into the creative department. Chad is now the senior copywriter at KCG and he’s literally known for going the extra mile as a distance runner with a passion for marathons. When he’s not on the go, you can find him managing the Boston Red Sox from his recliner or enjoying the works of other writers.

Lessons Digital Marketers Can Learn from Kevin Costner Baseball Movies

I know, it’s an astoundingly specific subset of movies from which to draw an analogy, right? But, let me explain. Baseball is nothing if not a game of strategy; adjusting lineups, positions and pitchers to accommodate specific situations.

Costner’s baseball movies tend to focus on the everyday aspects of the game. The day-to-day part of it. So for this post, I want to talk about that part of digital marketing — the day in, day out work that makes a plan successful.

Field of Dreams

Yes, he will come. But only when you put in an insane amount of work into the part of that sentence occupied by the comma. So what did Costner have to do for the 90 minutes of movie between building it and when “He comes”? He made a cross-country trip, gave a disgraced ballplayer a second chance, kidnapped James Earl Jones, and fulfilled the life-long dream of a small town doctor. He had to put in all that work to reach his goal. (If you don’t start ugly crying at the 1:50 mark, you might be a robot.)

My point is that just building it won’t get you very far. Whatever “IT” is doesn’t matter. A website, an app, an AdWords campaign. They all take nurturing, thought, planning and work. We can’t just turn a product loose and hope for the best. We have to work, we have to earn success.

Bull Durham

Listen carefully to what the pitcher says. “I’m cruising.” He’s in a groove and doing great, so why should he change that now? The thing you have to know about baseball is that hitters catch on pretty quick. They recognize patterns.

The same goes for advertising. When we start doing the same thing over and over again, people take notice and then stop noticing. We need to be one step ahead of our audience. We should hit the bull once in a while. Don’t let your audience get comfortable.

Look at the current campaign from GE. They had a gorgeous, Emmy nominated spot, “Childlike Imagination.” They followed that up with the similar “The Boy Who Beeps.” Both spots were all about childlike wonder and making the world better with your ideas and talents. Then came Jeff “Crazy Eyes” Goldblum.

A complete curve ball (See what I did there? I’m not sorry). The messaging is still very much on point. An innovative idea that became an innovative product. But they hit the bull with this one. They hit it hard, and it works.

Knock It Out of the Park
What I’m trying to get at here is this: there is no easy path to successful online marketing. It takes a lot of hard work. But with nearly 40 percent of the world’s population spending time on the Internet*, and the average smartphone user picking up their device almost 150 times per day**, can you really afford to shortchange the digital side of your marketing campaign? Build it. Do the work. They will come.

References:
* http://www.digitalinformationworld.com/2014/09/global-internet-usage-by-the-numbers-infographic.html

** http://www.digitalinformationworld.com/2014/09/essential-skills-internet-marketers-need-to-master-infographic.html

 


 

mosherAs KCG’s interactive director, Justin Mosher is responsible for anything with a pixel, from building websites to creating digital publications, and from crafting social media strategies to providing consulting services. With 10 years in the digital space, you’ll always find this self-admitted techie exploring the latest and greatest to find opportunities for our clients. After a long day behind computer screens, Justin looks forward to unplugging with a hearty beef stew and time with his wife and two girls.

Apps that Go Farther

Mobile devices are everywhere; smart phones, tablets, even those new phablets (giant phones that are as big as tablets). They’re consuming a huge amount of our day. I bet if anyone is reading this, they are most likely reading it on a mobile device. As marketers, you are naturally going to want to be on that device. But how do you reach an audience that can ignore everything and everyone and get them to pay attention to your brand?

“An app. That’s the solution. We’ll create an app! An app will let us interact with our customers, another channel, outlet, avenue, bucket or whatever other marketing term you would like to throw in.”

Before you head down this path of planning out your perfect app and pushing content to this huge audience of mobile targets – I mean customers – stop and give this some thought. I don’t, repeat, do not want you to think about your brand, all the cool stuff you are doing and how you are going to get your message out to your followers. No, this isn’t about you. I want you to think about your customer. What are they doing? What do they need? Can you help them with an app? To create a successful app, it isn’t about your brand, it’s about what you can offer the user.

Take the FREE Nike+ running app, for example. I’ve used it to track every run for more than two years. It gives me updates throughout my run, tells me my pace and distance every half-mile, the average pace of my run and has celebrity audio clips to encourage me after I finish. There’s even GPS tracking that maps out your run and then shows the splits for each mile you ran. But wait, it does more. The Nike+ app now features a coaching function. You tell it what race you want to run (5k, 10k, marathon, etc.) and the app calculates when you should start training and creates a plan to have you ready for race day. Say you want to run 12 miles. The app will estimate how long it’ll take based on your average pace as well as count down the miles and encourage you along the way.

But how does an app designed to help an individual become more than that? You create a community.

So you crushed your run? Maybe even a new personal best? The Nike+ app is connected to your social media accounts. And with just a couple clicks, you can send your road warrior ways straight to Facebook and Twitter. Better yet, you can create your own virtual running group. Invite your friends who have the app and challenge each other to race. The app automatically creates a list that keeps track of your friends’ progress each week and month. It also ranks everyone on how many miles they have run. At KCG, we are now in month four of challenging each other to run a set distance in that month’s time. In June, it was 30 miles. In July, August and September, the goal rose to 50 miles. In August, there were 15 people in the challenge and the winner of the challenge ran 50 miles in 11 days 7 hours and 18 minutes. Not only did this app help each of us track our distance but with a little competition and team building thrown in, it helped push four of us to 100 miles or more in September. My friends and co-workers helped push me to a goal that I had never achieved thanks to a digital reminder. Even though our 50-mile goal had been reached, others had not stopped and a new unspoken goal had been realized.

Here is a little app that is useful, fun, creates an opportunity to challenge yourself and your friends. You know what it doesn’t do? It doesn’t try to sell me on Nike products. I have never received an email, text or offer for Nike gear. Yes, there is a button to see what shoes they offer, and you can even retire a shoe, but I’ve never used it and they’ve never forced it on me. They give me something that I want and now rely on without forcing content or talking about themselves.

So, ask yourself, what can you do to help your customer? It should be better than a way to buy your product on a mobile device. Start with something big and crazy. Something ambitious. Something +.

 


 

Joe

As creative director, Joe Robertson oversees, inspires and develops Koch Creative Group’s team of copywriters, designers and art directors. Leveraging 20 years of agency experience with banking, healthcare and aerospace clients, he also works in close partnership with the account service team, providing insight and input on strategy and developing relationships with clients. When he’s not at work or cruising around town in his Shocker yellow Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited, Joe spends his free time renovating, overhauling or rebuilding anything he can get his hands on, including his 1918 home.

Content (Marketing) is King

A recent memo from the New York Daily News’ deputy entertainment editor leaked online, thanking staff for “keeping our stories SEO strong with the *Robin Williams dead at 63* headline.” The memo went on to provide staffers with a handful of other “buzzy” words to utilize, including “death, dead, suicide, etc.,” to ensure the continued prioritization of their article’s placement above others on search.

Cold-heartedness of the memo aside, it serves as a good reminder about the new reality of Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. There is an increasing need for companies and organizations like the New York Daily News to shift their search strategy to focus more on the content of the articles they produce and less on trying to outsmart “The Google” (lest you never forget that Google is smarter than you). In short, content marketing is the new SEO.

The SEO saga stems back to 2011 when the New York Times broke a story about JC Penney’s manipulation of Google’s search algorithm. The company employed an SEO firm to strategically link thousands of unrelated retail sites to JCPenney.com in order to increase their placement above other retailers on Google during the highly competitive holiday season. Unsurprisingly, the company turned over a profit from the strategy, but juice Google and you’ll be sorry. The practice, known as black-hat SEO, prompted the search engine to roll out a series of complicated algorithm updates over the last few years that not only punished JC Penney, but also made it even harder for brands to win at search.

Enter content marketing – a powerful branding tool and the future of marketing as we know it. But what is it?

Content marketing is a technique of creating and sharing content without the intention of selling something to your audience. The information can take on a number of formats including news, videos, webinars, storytelling, infographics, case studies, or photographs, all which depends on the goals for the brand.

While content marketing isn’t a solution to SEO, it’s a fundamental shift in thinking for most.

When done right, it can provide an avenue for brands to start communicating with their audiences in an impactful, and more importantly, real way. And once it’s been developed, it doesn’t have to live as a separate marketing strategy for a brand. It can be seamlessly integrated and leveraged for application across all forms of marketing including social media, PR, inbound marketing and of course, SEO.

Dollar Shave Club needed to increase brand awareness so they leveraged content marketing by creating and launching this video that received 9.5 million views, 76,000 Facebook fans, 23,000 new Twitter followers and 12,000 new customers – in just two days. General Electric needed to refresh how consumers viewed their 132-year old brand so they chose to design Ecomagination, a forum for fresh thinking and conversation about clean technology and sustainable infrastructure. These are just two examples of many brands successfully leveraging content marketing.

So where to begin?

Defining the voice and focus of your content is an important place to start. Where does your expertise lie? What differentiates your brand from your competitors? What does your audience really want to know about you? The average consumer has an opportunity to engage with anywhere from several hundred to several thousand pieces of content and advertisements per day, but only chooses to click, share and like content that is relevant or valuable to them.

By creating an identity for your brand and an organizational foundation from which you’ll communicate your voice, you can define how your brand can create content that engages your target audience and cuts through the noise. Good content marketing will make a person stop, read, think, behave, share, and react differently. Traditional advertising talks at you – content marketing is a conversation.

 


 

_MG_1511
Adalaide Johnson is responsible for #hashtags and all things digital. Propelled by her background in politics and advertising, Ada’s role as social and digital manager immerses her in social strategy, digital branding and content marketing. With experience working on clients such as Susan G. Komen, Quiznos and Sonic Drive-In, creative thinking is her wheelhouse. If a new app, social platform, trend or technology emerges, you’ll find her brainstorming how to make it work for her clients. When she isn’t filling your Facebook feed with content, this KC to ICT transplant can be found painting in her studio, cheering on the Michigan Football team (#GoBlue) or cooking up a new recipe.

Will You Accept This Rose?

If you’re like me, you’re one of the 6.9 million people, ahem women, who tune in each week to ABC’s “The Bachelorette” (or “The Bachelor”) to follow a “regular” person’s journey to find love in the most abnormal circumstances – starting with 25 potential suitors, going on dates you could only dream of, and in the end, if all goes as planned, getting engaged to one of them. It’s my favorite TV show and has been one of the longest-running TV shows in recent history. At the risk of a shameless plug, if you’re bored on a Monday night, you should tune in. In honor of this season’s finale airing tonight (#teamJosh), my colleagues at KCG have allowed me to dedicate a blog post to this cultural staple.

I’ve concluded there are four major things marketers can learn from “The Bachelorette.”  Trust me on this.

They say as a writer, you should write what you know and love. Well, in addition to this show, I also love marketing. So, I’d like to take a moment to examine how the two intersect. I’ve concluded there are four major things marketers can learn from “The Bachelorette.” Trust me on this:

1. Use your time wisely. In “The Bachelorette,” each suitor has a limited amount of designated time to show and prove to the bachelorette that he is, in fact, the one. There is so much noise. As marketers and as consumers, we hear that all the time. The time you have to share a message about your brand is vital, so you must do it right. Research, research, research your target audience so you know you’re not only reaching them in the right places, but also with information and creative messaging that will speak to them and resonate.

2. A primary education in native advertising. “The Bachelorette” brand integrations are some of my favorites to watch. Suave® and Clorox® (it’s second season partnering with ABC) are prime examples, and lest I fail to mention the incredible amount of Stella & Dot jewelry adorning the lovely cast of this show. Is it an ad? Is it part of the show? It’s native advertising, my friends. See two examples of the show’s trendy brand integrations here:

3. Have a hashtag. I know, hashtags are almost old news, but acknowledging and encouraging online and offline conversation is here for the long haul. During each episode of “The Bachelorette,” I love searching #BachelorNation tweets to see what the world thinks about what has just taken place on “the most [insert choice adjective: dramatic / emotional / surprising] episode of ‘The Bachelorette’ ever!” Giving fans a forum to share and discuss helps encourage more conversation about your brand or company. Participate in conversation already happening, embrace it and encourage it.

4. Be honest or be eliminated. Every season of “The Bachelorette” and “The Bachelor,” someone is identified and called out under the dreaded accusation of “not being there for the RIGHT reasons.” The same goes for brands and companies – if you’re not “in it for the right reasons,” you will also be called out and your reputation damaged. If your brand story is not an authentic representation of who you are, you will not be trusted and thus, “sent home.” Authenticity in marketing is key in a time of very high skepticism of advertising, brands and companies. As a brand or company, know who you are and communicate it authentically.

I hope these tips help you get that final rose in your next marketing endeavor. Check out all the chatter from #BachelorNation tonight. Until next time, Kaylan.

 


 

_MG_1284

 

Kaylan Gisi serves Koch companies as a KCG senior account director. She helps guide and manage marketing and advertising initiatives including internal communications, B2C and B2B campaigns. With six years of industry experience, her love for seeing concepts on a whiteboard magically come to life is what keeps her energized day after day. Since moving to Wichita from Kansas City, Kaylan finds her weekends consumed by adoring her dog and her new husband as well as tracking down the hottest restaurant spots in town.

Honesty in Advertising

In this culture obsessed on winning, it’s hard for anyone to accept second place anymore. Only the “idol” gets the record contract. Only the champions get the parade. Somehow, we’ve managed to convince ourselves “if you ain’t first, you’re last,” to quote Will Ferrell’s character from “Talladega Nights.”

Unfortunately, many brands have taken the same approach. Marketers feel it’s shameful not to be the best and they shudder at the thought of mentioning a competing brand could do something better.

But that’s just not reality. Consumers crave honesty so they can make their own decision based on the information.

Tapping the truth is exactly how Avis positioned itself so successfully years ago with its “We Try Harder” campaign. They knew they weren’t going to beat Hertz and they embraced second place with open arms.

“Whatever you are, be a good one.”
-Honest Abe

We see it happen when a company has multiple brands within one category, too.

Take paper towels, for example. Georgia-Pacific offers a “premium” product with Brawny® paper towels but also offers a “basic” alternative with Sparkle® paper towels. That’s why Kerri the Sparkle® Fairy speaks straight to value in the television commercials.

Maxwell House is taking a similar course after a solid decade of explosive growth by competitors in the gourmet coffee café industry. The hundred-year-old company had a big question. If they couldn’t compete with fair-trade, hours-fresh, hand-roasted, freshly ground java, what could they offer?

The answer was just good coffee. Not great. Not amazing. Not a unique coffee experience. Just good. Refreshingly and honestly good.

So whatever happened to good? We’ll have to see how it all percolates.

 


 

nick_blog

 

Nick Gebhardt is associate creative director for KCG. His responsibilities include the management of the copywriting and proofreading team, as well as the overall generation of marketing and advertising concepts across media. He finds creative collaboration particularly rewarding, drawing on 13 years of experience as a copywriter in digital and traditional agencies across the Southeast. Outside of work, Nick plays bass guitar, writes short stories and chases his 3-year-old boy around his home in suburban Atlanta.