Monthly Archives: March 2010

The Magic is in the MiX!

I often get emails from BRANDEblog readers who want a more complete picture of what BRANDEMiX does. So, for that audience only, I would like to share more information about our unique niche in the marketplace.

FOB’s (friends of BRANDEMiX) can skip this one.

BRANDEMiX is a B2E agency- we connect brands to people- your people – the one’s you care about- the talented employees that advance your business goals. The competitors that you wish worked on your team. The engaged ambassadors of your brand who keep your customers coming back.

Think of us as a bridge connecting your marketing, advertising, internal communications and human resources. This powerful synergy creates a veritable BRAND FORTRESS – consistent, indisputable, relevant and meaningful messages across all print and interactive channels.

All with one singular goal—to foster connections.

Our unique value is in our ability to create, deliver and manage an end-to-end program from strategy through launch.

We have demonstrated success in creating:
Benefit Communications
Change Management Communications
Employer Brand Development
Event Marketing & Support
Internal Communications
Interactive Marketing
Media Planning & Placement
Qualitative Research
Recruitment Advertising
Social Networking
Training and e-Learning
Website Development

Any questions?

Corporate Career Sites: All You Really Need to Know You Learn from School.

Is revamping your Corporate Career site on your to-do list? Has it been there for more than 6 months because trying to keep up with the latest trends and technology is too scary?

Here’s a thought to cheer you up. What if, instead of Talent Acquisition, you were responsible for Student Enrollment at a mid-tier college? What if you were branding your Value Propositions to 16 -18-year olds? Being a smart marketeer, you would no-doubt want to incorporate all the bells and whistles that would appeal to today’s teens, but who’s more wired than they are?

Now THAT’S Scary!

Hopefully you’re feeling somewhat better now but wait…

Today’s college-bound senior will be tomorrow’s new job seeker. (Well, tomorrow in 4+ years.)

If you’re really trying to stay ahead of the Talent Acquisition curve, you’d be well advised to pay attention to trends among teens and keep up with the latest news from Student Enrollment Marketing front.

For instance:

According to a variety of research from Pew, Forrester and Alloy Media, today’s teens blog half as much as they did 3 years ago and only 8% use Twitter. They don’t send many emails, and their activities on social networking sites are declining. More and more, they are accessing college websites through mobile devices – iphones over others.

Personalized home pages, SEM, chat rooms and virtual tours are very effective in driving in students and making them take notice.

Bob Johnson is a consultant to Higher Education and each week offers a link to Best Practice web pages from Colleges and Universities- here are a few he’s highlighted in recent weeks:

The College of Charleston for a free campus tour app. (Not as pricey as you think.)

Elon University for bringing the value propositions front and center. (I like this for ease of navigation.)

Carleton College for their report on giving. (Definitely something that Millennials hold important.)

There are tremendous similarities in recruitment marketing and student enrollment marketing. The two pieces of good news for you is that the schools need to stay ahead of the technology curve, and they are usually very restrained in funding.

So I urge you to pay more attention to what they’re doing. In doing so, you may well get a bit more mileage out of any Career Site improvements you’re thinking of making. At BRANDEMiX, we do!

For more information about Career Site enhancements, leveraging your employe brand through your Career Site or Career Site usability studies, contact me.

INVERTISING: I Just Might be on to Something-

Greetings from Jody O’rdioni-

In honor of St. Pat’s this week- I bring you the latest from Noreen O’Leary at Adweek. With special thanks to my friend Bruce O’Dorskind at The Dorskind Group.

Madison Avenue Wakes Up To Employer Branding

Employee Benefits: Workers as Brand Ambassadors
The trend seems to be accelerating, but are consumers convinced?
March 15, 2010
Lowe’s employees star in current spots.
In the battle to win over consumers during difficult economic times, marketers are sending their employees to the front lines. The trend seems to be accelerating. Last week, Zappos introduced a new pitch with puppets fronting actual recordings of employee-customer service calls. Last month, Lowe’s launched a campaign with store associates advising cash-strapped DIY consumers.

Those campaigns come after several others celebrating the rank and file. Over the past year or so, Southwest Airlines, Ford, Domino’s, Bank of America, General Electric, Exxon Mobile and Verizon have featured staffers or actors playing them.

The use of workers to humanize corporate entities has been a time-honored marketing tradition, of course. But in an era of Web 2.0 transparency, their visibility takes on greater meaning, signaling the higher importance of customer service in the marketing mix. More subliminally, as America’s battered consumers have lost faith in the institutions they hold responsible for the current economic mess — and are angry with corporations behind massive layoffs — staffers offer a kind of peer credibility as corporate advocates.

Companies whose images had taken a public flogging often made use of the marketing tactic. Bank of America used associates in blunt, no-frills ads with the unscripted spots addressing “stressed” consumers, those who had lost their jobs and others just trying to survive. “We weren’t there to sell to them, but just to let them know we were trying to work with them,” said Meredith Verdone, BofA brand and advertising executive. “The reaction we got was how it humanized the bank, which was important to rebuilding trust.”

Last summer, General Electric employees personified CEO Jeffrey Immelt’s public remarks about the imperative for American manufacturing renewal. In commercials like “Wrench,” GE staffers from its aircraft, engine, healthcare and energy businesses participated in a relay toss of a wrench around their respective units, with a voiceover describing GE as a company creating “innovation today for America’s tomorrow.” Said Judy Hu, GE global executive director, advertising and branding: “We focused on the idea that we innovate with technological solutions to solve the world’s toughest challenges, but what we do everyday is just as important.”

Lowe’s is reaching beyond a customer service message in its positioning of staffers as guides to help navigate remodeling projects — work that might have been given to tradesmen before plunging home values and disappearing home-equity lines of credit. “Consumers’ mind-sets have changed,” said Tom Lamb, vp, consumer marketing at Lowe’s. “It’s forced us to rethink our offerings. There’s a return to sweat equity and expense control. Customers are looking for a lot more advice.”

Domino’s Pizza last year learned how employee representation — unauthorized as well as legitimate — could cut both ways. The chain was doing damage control last spring after two former rogue employees posted an online video showing disgusting food preparation, which quickly went viral. Earlier in the year, TV spots showed Domino’s CEO Dave Brandon as a man of the people in a spot where he criticized corporate and Wall Street bailouts, saying he was bailing out the “hard-working people on Main Street” with a new price promotion. Russell Weiner, Domino’s evp, CMO, said subsequent testing scores increased “tremendously above the norm.

By year’s end, franchisees and employees became part of a pitch touting the launch of a new Domino’s recipe, at the expense of the company’s previous offering. Weiner explained, without irony, “It’s about being transparent as a company; we’re showing you the people who make your food.”

Like others interviewed for this story, he underscored the morale boost to staffers. “The campaign became great ‘invertising’ as well,” he said. “Our franchisees and employees loved seeing themselves. It was compelling to consumers and motivating to our staffers.”

Not all employee reps move the needle for every marketer. Last April, Nationwide Insurance rolled out a campaign themed “I Am on Your Side” showing agents describing actual customer stories. The company has since scrapped the idea. “The ‘I am’ communication and stories were all great, but we didn’t break through. Those were extraordinary stories, and we made them very powerful. But maybe we were talking to ourselves a bit,” said Steven Schreibman, Nationwide vp, advertising, brand management. “At the end of the day, the consumer doesn’t care so much about what you did for someone else. That’s harder to project. They want to know: ‘What’s in it for me?'” Similarly, H&R Block dropped its “I’ve got people” employee ad focus and unveiled a new pitch in December that looked at tax preparation from more of a consumer point of view.

Rob Frankel, a New York marketing consultant, is also skeptical about the popular marketing tack: “Viewers aren’t hoodwinked. They know they’re watching a 30-second TV spot paid for by a company.”

“Half” Joke Reveals HR Truth and Opportunity

Yesterday I met with the VP of Human Resources at a Fortune 500 company. I asked him how many people he had working for him and he said “About half.”

Though he said it in jest, it’s no secret that workplace morale- intrinsically tied to workplace productivity, is down. In January a Conference Board survey found that only 45% of those polled were satisfied with their jobs. Last month, Addecco Group North America released results of a survey to see if American workers were still “in love” with their jobs, and only 39% said that the economic situation caused them to appreciate their jobs more.

With the economy stabilizing and in many cases improving, popular thinking is that employees will be jumping ship, and the “war for talent” will be back as a hot topic.

But what about the Loyalists. Or the Lazyists? The ones that aren’t looking for a new job or leaving any time soon. Maybe they’ve downshifted their efforts to match demand. Maybe they’ve gotten used to marching to a slower tempo. Will they wake up one Monday and start giving 110%?

The internet is full of quick, cheap and tidy ideas on how to improve workplace morale. They range from cuddles (recognition) and huddles (go-team-go) to thank-you notes, free lunches and time off for good behavior.

But I contend that these broad brush strokes do little to improve culture or morale or raise the needle of employee engagement in any significant way. (I invite you to disagree and leave a comment with your proven favorites.)

Rather, now is the time to survey your population and get a baseline understanding of the current climate.

Are your employees connected to business?
Do they understand the goals and how their work contributes to the success of the enterprise?
Do you understand the top three places they might seek employment if your organization ceased to exist, and why?
Do you have systems in place that compensate employees for accomplishing goals large and small?

If your company has “taken a break” from launching employee surveys out of fear of what they will reveal, I urge you to bring them back.

We are at the pinnacle of new and noteworthy times when HR can drive the rally, and implement focused ideas, tied to business goals that improve culture.

At the very least, you will have real insights from which to compare next year, or build a solid communications plan that drives employee engagement. (For help with survey or plan call us). At best, you have validated your own contribution to growth and revenue of the company you call home.

Later in the conversation, I asked him if he had any metrics around his recruitment advertising results. He said that he’s wasting half the money he spends- the trouble is, he doesn’t know which half. [sound]