Marketing for Thought

Attracting new markets online

The explosion of social media platforms has opened doors for brands and services to reach even more diverse, specific audiences.  With the majority of social media obsessors still between the ages of 16 and 24, companies have gone new lengths to appealing to a younger demographic.  But what works, and what doesn’t work?

Coca Cola “The AHH Effect” Campaign

Screen shot 2013-04-24 at 9.40.30 PM

According to an article on Fast Company, Coca Cola recently purchased 61 domain names, all variations of “” with different numbers of h’s, in their most recent effort to attract a younger demographic.  Each webpage has interactive games, YouTube videos, and gifs that will remind teens that Coca Cola is the perfect refreshment.

The site’s content will be updated every two weeks based on hits.  If teens aren’t enjoying certain games or videos, they will be removed.  Ideas for content will also be contributed from other brands targeting the same age group including Vevo, as well as teens and young artists themselves, creating a community where people can share their “ahh experiences.”

There are no television ads for their latest campaign, but all content is designed for mobile application in “snackable” doses. “They can dip in, dip out, and move on,” Pio Schunker, senior vice president, integrated marketing communications, Coca Cola North America Group says, adding, “and if you look at the way teens consume tweets and posts and texts, that’s pretty much their behavior.”

While I agree that targeting teens through interactive social media platforms is key for reaching that demographic, I can’t see how teens, with so many different aps, social sites, and gaming sites available, will choose to go to or or to play or watch Coca Cola designed content. Why spend time on ah aps or webpages when can you search for specific content you want to watch or see directly on YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter?

It is a creative length and an extremely interactive digital campaign, but at what point will people reach out to this site over their own social media obsessions? Maybe I fall too far outside their target demographic or am skeptical to games with brands plastered all over them, but what is going to make young kids choose this site over the original? It will be interesting to see what works over time.

Dodge Dart Online Car Registry

Wieden + Kennedy Portland, the same company who created the “AHH Effect” campaign above, invented an entirely new way to purchase new cars.  The Dodge Dart online registry works similar to a wedding registry, providing a platform where the potential car owner can personalize the car and then different people can sponsor parts of the car.  Using social media sites, you can pitch family and friends to sponsor parts of the car.  Users have 90 days to get the entire car sponsored.

There are currently 6,000 active accounts with over 500,000 needed parts, and only 1,330 parts have been fully funded.  While these numbers seem daunting, this market effort is not considered a failure.  According to Forbes, the marketing campaign has built a relationship with younger users who have spent the time to customize and familiarize themselves with the different parts and features of a Dart automobile.

The Chrysler Group recognized a problem: younger demographics can not afford a new car.  They are paying off college debts, trying to find a job, maybe they just graduated high school.  They are in the market for a car, but there is no way this target profile can afford a new car on their own.  This crowdfunding has given millennials the chance to petition for a new car, completely customized for their preference.

Only time will tell which campaign will be more successful and effective. What do you think?




This post is a part of a series of posts for Integrated Marketing Communications class that explores strategies of integrated marketing communications and recognizes strong and weak branding strategies today.




Inner Fashionista, Marketing for Thought

Inbound marketing: the new key to business success

Incorporating the new

The Internet and social media have completely changed people’s lifestyle.  Their communication styles, hobbies, and information gathering are completely altered in comparison to their attitudes and habits ten years ago.

For business to be successful, they must keep up with these changes, not only with technology but also with the way that people interact, communicate, and search for information.  In David Meerman Scott’s Book The New Rules of Marketing & PR, he emphasizes the importance of putting meaningful content online, not pushing information in a one-way relationship format.

“If your organization isn’t present and engaged in the places and at the times that your buyers are, then you’re losing out on potential business-no mater how successful your off-line marketing program is.” – Scott, pg. 5 of The New Rules of Marketing & PR

Similar to other blog posts and literature we have examined in my integrated marketing communications class this semester, Scott believes that emphasis should be placed on creating and maintaing relationships with current and potential customers.  These relationships ultimately build brand loyalty, brand awareness, and ultimately increase sales.  It is not how much information you put out there, but the outlet you choose and the meaning behind it the content.

Not only will companies be maintaing and stimulating relationships with current and potential customers, but the company will have the opportunity to use this customer feedback they are receiving from these outlets and incorporate it into future strategies and product design.

“You can’t just make decisions on what you think your products do; you need to make decisions on the perceptions of what people are actually doing with your products.” – Scott, pg. 65

A Scott lesson: People are eager to share when given valuable content

Ocean Frontiers Ltd. of the Cayman Islands started The Green Shorts Challenge, where scuba divers who visit each of the 55 dive sites within the East End dive zone in Grand Cayman are given special recognition including the coveted green ocean frontiers uniform shorts, a plaque, a gold medal, an achievement party, and recognition on the Ocean Frontiers’ Facebook page.

Referred to as the “scuba diving hall of fame,” followers become addicted to the challenge and record their journey in a journal where they can draw pictures of each of the 55 sites.  The sense of accomplishment leads to countless posts on their social media outlets, exposing the company endlessly.

“You couldn’t ask for a more loyal and dedicated customer base than what we’re building. From whatever social media platform they communicate, if someone wants to go diving in the Caribbean, our customers are going to recommend us. There’s a human element that can be brought in with Facebook. You humanize what your business does.”– Steve Broadbelt, Managing director of Oceans Frontier Ltd.

Here, Scott has highlighted the importance of giving our viewers valuable content.  With the amount of information available on the web, people are not going to share everything.  By humanizing business and giving customers an opportunity to interact with the brad and be recognized, you create value.

Lucky Community: a new strategy at increasing magazine viewership

Screen shot of the Lucky Community page

Screen shot of the Lucky Community page

Recognizing the overwhelming amount of avid fashion bloggers and enthusiasts, Lucky has launched a platform called “Lucky Community” where blogger “contributors” can sign up and contribute their posts.  The posts are collected on a page that is displayed and updated similarly to Pinterest, giving fashionistas and Lucky fans more fashion beyond their print magazine.

Screen shot 2013-04-15 at 10.36.04 PMAnyone can sign up to be a Lucky Contributor, but the editor of Lucky Contributor decides which content will be streamed on the main page.  After submitting your application online, the editor reviews your writing and you are given your first “Lucky badge” that you can put on your blog.

Writers are rewarded with different badges for the number of views or community votes that their posts generate. More selective badges include “Editor’s Favorite” or “Style Collective” and are given different perks, including the ability to upload content without editor moderation and possibility of interviewing with Lucky editors.

The Lucky Contributor concept and The Green Shorts Challenge are mirror images of a pursuit of customer engagement and value creation for different types of people.  Fashionistas are awarded for posting their work with badges that not only give them credit and 15 seconds of fame, but also a glimpse of writing for a prestigious fashion magazine- a coveted position that not many people can get. With the diminishing print publications, it is vital for magazines like Lucky to continue to innovate ways to keep people engaged and excited about their brand.

Customer engagement and creating valuable content are only pieces to the puzzle, but exemplify the importance of company’s incorporating inbound marketing strategies into their current plans.



This post is a part of a series of posts for Integrated Marketing Communications class that explores strategies of integrated marketing communications and recognizes strong and weak branding strategies today.

Inner Fashionista, Marketing for Thought

Spring’s hottest look: Green Fashion

Discussing Levi’s current Water<less green campaign in class a couple weeks ago

It turns out that they aren’t the only ones trying to reduce their carbon footprint and go green.  H&M’s green clothing line H&M Conscious clothing line that launched in 2012 offers pieces made with sustainable materials such organic cotton, recycled polyester, recycled wool, recycled plastic, and organic linen.  Yet, the Conscious line holds true to the H&M name- super-cute, in-trend, high-end styles with a low price point and a quick turnover rate.  


H&M’s Conscious Exclusives Collection, Spring 2013

Their commitment to making sustainability an integral part of the fashion industry spans deeper than just their Conscious line.  CEO Karl-Johan Persson’s goal is to make it a central point of their future business model.

“Our business idea is to offer fashion and quality at the best price. Sustainability is an increasingly important part of this. I strongly believe that sustainability will more and more become a hygiene factor in our industry. Our goal is for H&M to be at the forefront of sustainability. We work hard to always strengthen our customer offering. I think that adding sustainable value to our products is one of the keys to do so.” –  Karl-Johan Persson, H&M CEO

The line recently expanded this spring, introducing a more formal look called The Spring Conscious Exclusives Collection.  These pieces became available online April 4 and several celebrities including Ashley Benson, Victoria Justice, Jessica Lowndes and Jessica Stroup hosted parties across the country to promote the new line.

Beyond the eco-friendly clothes themselves, H&M has implemented other strategies to ensure the success of this line and the betterment of the environment.

H&M Conscious also acts as a service where customers can bring in old, unwanted clothes in return for 15% off any item in the store.  Ninety-five percent of all clothes that people throw away could be used again, and H&M is making this possible while reducing landfills. For every pound of clothing donated, H&M CharityStar donates one cent to a charity in that store’s location.

Celebrity promotion and endorsements are leading the sustainability initiatives to success. Not only is the face of the brand French actress and singer Vanessa Paradis, but iconic celebrities including Amanda Seyfried, Michelle Willimas, and Helen Hunt have been photographed wearing pieces from the lin on the red carpet, including the Oscars.

Going back to marketing basics, you need to give consumers what they want in order to succeed.  Maybe green marketing initiatives in the past haven’t worked because they weren’t what the consumer was looking for, or maybe it wasn’t a big enough change. Douglas L. Melville, president of Red Carpet Runway and a strategic adviser for various entertainment brands and personalities, wrote in his article “Why Green Marketing is Doomed” that people did not understand that Frito Lays’ eco-friendly bag helped save the environment and that’s why they weren’t willing to sacrifice a noisier bag for a worthy cause.   I doubt that it was their lack of understanding or awareness that turned them away from the bag.

We are led by our wants and needs, and at that point in time maybe people weren’t ready to “sacrifice” their quiet snack time for the environment. H&M’s strategic clothing collection does not only help our environment and local charities, but it provides a service that is easy and of interest to consumers today.  They aren’t just shoving a green movement in their consumer’s face- they are offering lifestyle changing products consistent with their image and a service that will help them improve the environment.


This post is a part of a series of posts for Integrated Marketing Communications class that explores strategies of integrated marketing communications and recognizes strong and weak branding strategies today.

Marketing for Thought

3 Lessons from Nonprofit Marketing

Every nonprofit wants to save the world. They want their cause to make a difference and they want all of the general public to be aware and involved.

While this sounds perfect and merry, it’s just not realistic.  People today have too many choices, too many problems.  This is exactly why nonprofits must be very specific about their message, their mission, and who they are targeting.

David Williamson, managing director of the consulting firm of Bernuth & Williamson, argues that marketing is essential for developing a brand, owning a message, and motivating people for a cause in his his essay Marketing & Communications in Nonprofit Organizations: It Matters More Than You Think. The following lessons highlight what I thought were the most essential lessons and nonprofits that have followed these lessons to success (or failure).

Lesson 1: Figure out what motivates your audience. That’s the basis for your message, not what the board, management, or staff want.

Consumers today are tricky. They know what they want, and they know what they want to hear.  What’s even worse? If they don’t like your message, they can easily tune you out. So how do you get them to do what you want to do?

Williamson believes you have to deliver the message in a way that not only the intended audience will listen, but something that will motivate them to do what you want them to do. It’s all about the delivery and the mesage angle.

Case and point: Williamson discussed the “Truth” campaigns vs. traditional anti-smoking messages. Targeting teens through “just say no” conventional commercials- YAWN. Why tell them something they are already hearing from their parents or health classes? They tune out their parents, they will tune this out. Teenagers are just beginning to itch for “independence”- the last thing you would want to do is pull a parental angle.  The “Truth” campaign was a success because it turned the table and made the tobacco companies the bad guys.  The campaign revealed how the tabacco companies had been manipulating them to buy cigarettes, using eye-wrenching images of people talking through tubes and social experiments to demonstrate addiction.

Let’s take this a step further: how do motivate people to act for causes that are harder to understand?

Upstream Impact, a Denver nonprofit that provides assistance for people living in poverty, created a one-day simulation for middle and upper class families to experience what it was like to live in poverty.  During the simulations, participants had to deal with situations like getting evicted, having access to limited resources, being robbed, finding child care, and searching for food. They made the inconceivable conceivable by bridging the lower and middle classes.

In Chip and Dan Heath’s Made to Stick, a novel about what makes strong ideas that are rememberable and achieve their goals, the brothers discuss how abstraction makes it harder to understand a concept. “Language is often abstract, but life is not abstract……The barrier is simply forgetfulness- we forget that we’re slipping into abstract peak. We forget that other people don’t know what we know.”

By putting members of the community in a poverty simulation, they finally felt and understood what it would be like to live in poverty.  We have all heard of poverty- we know the statistics, we hear about it on the news, we may pass homeless people on the streets. But it’s harder to understand these concepts when you have never been there.

Another great example of this is City Harvest’s “Skip Lunch Fight Hunger” campaign.  This New York City nonprofit provides healthy groceries and meals to people in the city, and their campaigns aims at spreading awareness of what is like to “be hungry” while raising money- the ten dollars you would have spent on lunch.

Like Holly Stewart said in her presentation, making a situation relatable is the best way to motivate people.

"Skip Lunch Fight Hunger" campaign, City Harvest

“Skip Lunch Fight Hunger” campaign, City Harvest

Lesson 2: There is no such thing as the general public.  Find the audience that matters most to your mission and focus on them lik a laser beam.

Defining your audience- their age, gender, likes dislikes, habits, frequencies  location, needs, wants- can help you narrow down your message and make it more effective.

Eve Mendes posing for PETA's "I would rather go naked" campaign

Eve Mendes posing for PETA’s “I would rather go naked” campaign

PETA, people for the ethical treatment of animals, is the largest nonprofit organization focused on animal rights in factory farms, clothing trade, laboratories, and the entertainment industry. Their organization and mission has always attracted a certain type of person: younger generations, quirky, vegan, ambitious, mostly liberal, passionate, socially and environmentally aware, and the type of person that dedicates their lifestyle to a cause. For these reasons, they have always had considerable liberal leeway with their commercials. For example, PETA’s “I would rather go naked” campaign urges people to boycott fur through pictures of celebrities, athletes, and models posing naked.

Despite their liberal, young, passionate audience, their “Boyfriend Went Vegan and Knocked the Bottom Out of Me” campaign in 2010 arguably took their unconventional approach too far.  The video (below), is a 30 second clip featuring a girl with a neck-brace because of aggressive sex with her boyfriend after he went vegan. While making a fake disease, BWVAKTBOOM, because of a vegan’s sexual prowess could be a humorous tactic, PETA did not consider how involved their target audience is with other nonprofits and social causes.  These people are extremely liberal and opinionated, and those that took this commercial offensively took to all types of social media and news sources to express their concerns and disgust.

“The positive portrayal of women getting physically injured by their boyfriends. Yes, I get the “joke” of amazing sexual prowess by veganism, but nevertheless, you’ve ended up with a campaign where you try to get people to do a particular thing, and then show that thing by boyfriends causing girls to wear neck braces and eyepatches. It’s very counter-productive,” says Youtube user BlackMoonLilith, quoted in the Huffington Post.

Despite this backset, PETA ultimately has the right idea- they knows their target and they certainly know how to catch their attention.

Lesson 3: Don’t just communicate. Market.

Nonprofit organizations have to have two types of content: things that pull you into the cause, and things that push you to take the action. It is important to build awareness and communicate about the issues you are highlighting, but you also need a clear strategy on what people should do with this information.

The Girl Effect does a great job of providing communication and marketing tools on their website.  They call themselves “a movement” to empower girls around the world by making them realize their unique potential and driving massive resources to them. Their website provides an abundance of information and videos for people to be informed about the cause, but they also provide pages of marketing tools so that people can advocate.  Their call-to-action is for people to advocate for empowering young girl’s- and their website provides them all of the avenues to do this. It’s simple, interactive, informative, and motivating.

Girl Effect's website- it has  an entirely separate page to show people what to do with the information

Girl Effect’s website- it has an entirely separate page to show people what to do with the information

In conclusion, nonprofits can make significant leaps through the right marketing strategies.  Just like for-profit brands, nonprofits must make their causes relatable to drive motivation, know their target audience, and provide the right materials to achieve their call-to-action.  Without an effective marketing strategy or powerful, concrete message, their message could get lost in translation.


This post is a part of a series of posts for Integrated Marketing Communications class that explores strategies of integrated marketing communications and recognizes strong and weak branding strategies today.

Marketing for Thought

If you can’t beat them, join them

We’ve spent a lot of time in class discussing the customer’s growing power in today’s marketplace, but what companies actually commit to change and create environments and dialogues that are more valuable to the customer?

And then I walked into one of the new Microsoft retail stores.

I was wandering through the Mall of America (for the first time), adoring the variety of stores and the enormous amusement park, when I stumbled across what I thought was an Apple store.  The storefront was completely glass.  Inside was white and clean-cut, very simplistic, with light-colored wood flooring.  Long tables with were set up in rows across the store-each a different station for trying different products.

Almost everyone has been to an Apple store or has seen an Apple store. Doesn’t this sound like one?

Well, that’s what I thought…until I glanced to my right and noticed the actual Apple store. What I described above was actually a Microsoft store.

Microsoft retail stores are sprouting up across the nation

Microsoft retail stores are sprouting up across the nation

Apple and Microsoft’s Rivalry

Almost anyone can recall the “Get a Mac” campaign, and nothing exemplifies the rivalry between Apple and Microsoft more than these commercials.

To recap, a younger man and an older man personify each computer system, a Mac and PC respectively. Each add described different characteristics, but overall describes Macs as reliable, compatible with other technology, easier to use, and “cooler.” PC’s are described as slow, older models, not compatible, less secure, and “less hip.”

As a Mac user, I completely agree with this stereotype.  In my own experience, my PC was slow, Windows had lots of defects, and I always got viruses on my computer. Meanwhile, my Mac is easy, fast, and I have never gotten a virus. It’s reliable. And I always have onsite assistance at the Apple store if i need help with software or have questions.

I know many others have had similar experiences with PCs and now prefer Macs, especially students. But how did Microsoft initially react to this campaign? Through this lame attempt-the commercial below, of course.

What Microsoft has learned from Apple

Create retail locations.

The creation of retail locations has allowed Microsoft to develop relationships with their customers.  Coming to a tangible location to ask questions and get a feel for the products is less intimidating than calling Microsoft’s customer service line or ordering offline.

“Microsoft retail stores – both brick-and-mortar locations and seasonal holiday stores – have become a vital way for the company to develop closer relationships with consumers, and conversely, to put consumers directly in touch with Microsoft technology,” said Jonathan Adashek, general manager of Communications Strategy.

They are also set up similarly to Apple stores- each are simplistic, with long wooden tables that display gadgets, a wall of accessories, and a station for tech support.

inside a Microsoft retail location

inside a Microsoft retail location, via

Place importance on customer service.

Apple’s employee training program places emphasis on one major concept: it is more important to help the customer solve their problem than push merchandise. The Wall Street Journal interviewed employee’s about their training experiences and compared their observations of the employee’s responses to therapists. The confidential training manual actually reads “Listen and limit your responses to simple reassurances that you are doing so. ‘Uh-huh,’ ‘I understand,’ etc.”

This is where Apple succeeds.  They create an atmosphere where the customer is in control.  What the customer needs, wants, and feels dominates the conversation. Employees are attentive, perceptive, and reassuring.

Not only this, but Apple provides in-store classes to learn the Mac software and a Genius bar for on-staff technology assistance.

Microsoft has taken the hint. Ryan Scott, a Microsoft store manager, describes Microsoft’s mission as customer satisfaction and service oriented.“From the second they walk in the store, whether they buy anything or not, I want them to have a world-class experience and walk out with that wow factor so when they think about Microsoft they think about incredible service, the best technology in the world, and they then want to share that with their friends and family,” he says.

Physical locations have given Microsoft the opportunity to open conversations with customers about their products and get a better feel for the brand.

How Microsoft is going above and beyond

Incentives for attending store openings.

Every store opening features a special performance from popular musicians.  Past performances have included Maroon 5, Kelly Clarkson, Enrique Iglesias, and Black Keys.

Community giving at every store opening.

Microsoft views store openings as a way for them to connect with the community.  It allows them to introduce their products, company, brand, and store while supporting important groups in local communities.

In every community where Microsoft opens a store, they give software grants to organizations within that community. For example, at the Corte Madera store opening, Microsoft gave a $250,000 technology grant to the the Children’s Creativity Museum and the non-profit organization Girls Inc. They also gave a $1 million grant to Junior Achievement of Northern California.

New job title: community development specialist.

Microsoft created a position at every store that specializes in organizing in-store events and activities to raise awareness of causes in the community while providing opportunities to learn new technology.

Each store has theatre space.

Theatre space is provided to give space to community organizations to use for free.

Are you still a Mac user?

Microsoft employees excited and enthusiastic at the opening of a store location in the UK, via

Microsoft employees excited and enthusiastic at the opening of a store location in the UK, via

It’s clear that Microsoft  is making strides at improving their company and brand image, but many have argued that the similarities between Apple and PC stores are a huge turn-off. But who can blame Microsoft for following suit? The Wall Street Journal reported that “more people now visit Apple’s 326 stores in a single quarter than the 60 million who visited Walt Disney Co.’s four biggest theme parks last year.”

Customers demanded better customer service, more answers, more help, and easier technology. They want to be understood and heard. The retail store was the best answer.

Their first store opened in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 2009, and currently operates 43 stores. And every store is strategically located in proximity to Apple stores. Why? To reassert them as a competitor- and a darn good one to say no too.

Not only this, but they are playing Mac’s game even better than Mac. Microsoft has not only set priority on providing the best customer service (so good that one report says that an employee offered a customer a Diet Coke while browsing the store!), but they have made it their mission to connect and help the community. Their technology grants, theatre, and in-store activities allow the communities to engage with the brand and develop new brand perceptions.

They may be copying Mac’s retail look and customer service agenda, but who’s to say they aren’t spitting better game?

This post is a part of a series of posts for Integrated Marketing Communications class that explores strategies of integrated marketing communications and recognizes strong and weak branding strategies today.

Marketing for Thought

Social Awareness and Cause-related Marketing

Last night before my sorority’s chapter meeting, Kalli Veldman, a junior at Elon University, and one of her Sigma Sigma Sigma sisters came to share with us a cause that their organization cares deeply about: Home of Hope.  Now, by no means is my sorority a quiet group of girls- I would describe us more as extremely opinionated and social girls- but for the entire ten minutes that these girls talked to us about Home of Hope, we were dead silent.  She described the orphanage as a safe place for children and women to escape cycles of prostitution, and that their chapter alone had raised enough money for a plumbing system for the orphanage.  When she played a short YouTube video to wrap up her presentation, you can tell that everyone in the room felt compelled to help.

And then it hit me: we really are a  more socially-aware and environmentally-conscious world. We are compelled by causes and want to make a difference.

 Cause-related Marketing

According to the Edelman Goodpurpose Study 2012, 53% of people would be compelled to buy a certain good based on social purpose, if price and quality were the same as other products.  In 2011, Forbes reported that 94% of Americans alone would purchase a product with a social purpose over a competitor’s with similar price and quality, according to Cone Communication’s research.

So, what drives people to support non-profits? 

Since the beginning of this semester, my class has been observing and researching different marketing techniques and brand trends in the non-profit sector and cause marketing. The following are factors that I think are essential for non-profits.

  • Emotional connection: From my interviews with other students last week, I found that people want to be enticed to help.  According to Cone Communication’s customer survey post Cyber Monday and Black Friday, “consumers’ heartstrings are leading their purchase decisions and putting brands’ support of social issues at the top of their gift lists.”  People are much more willing to spend money or time when they feel a tug at their heart.  Compassion is the first step towards persuading people to get involved.
  • People involved want to see results! They want to know that THEY are making a DIFFERENCE.
via Edelman Goodpurpose 2012 Study

via Edelman Goodpurpose 2012 Study

Jenna Sonlin and Tori Sonlin, a junior and freshman at Elon University, both paid $50 to the Home for Hope Orphanage to sponsor an orphan.  After they donated, they received pictures of the orphan they sponsor and a collage from the orphan.  Each month, they receive cards and letters from their orphan and can pen pal them.  Fifty dollars is a lot for college students without jobs, but they both believe that it’s rewarding because they get to see their orphan grow and can interact with them.

People want to see their results, no matter how much they are able to contribute. Donating and volunteering today is about making a difference more than anything else.

  • Power of Story: In one of last week’s classes, Holly Stewart discussed the importance of building a story.  Every brand needs a story- why it was started, it’s mission, it’s vision- and consumers and customers want to be able to envision themselves in this story.  Chip Heath and Dan Heath, authors of Made to Stick, the elements that make ideas and brands memorable, also believe that creating a story is essential for non-profits and for-profit organizations. ” The story’s power is twofold: It provides stimulation (knowledge about how to act) and inspiration (motivation to act)..both benefits, stimulation and inspiration, are geared to generating action.”
  • Heartache to Hope: It’s important to make consumers feel emotional about a cause, but it’s also important to establish how the organization and it’s volunteers and donors are making a positive change. You never want to leave your consumer feeling hopeless.

Trending…Teaming up with For-profit organizations

After discussing so many different organizations that team up with non-profits in class, it’s crazy to think of how many companies would want to get involved (Pampers and UICEF, National Geographic and World Wildlife Foundation, Dawn and the International Bird Rescue/The Marine Mammal Center, etc!). It’s beneficial for both parties- providing larger audiences and donations for non-profits, while the for-profits can expand their image of being socially responsible.

A great example of strong co-branding between a non-profit and for-profit organization is Disney and the African Wildlife Foundation.  Disney released African Cats in 2011, a documentary of African wildlife similar to March of the Penguins.  Disney then donated a percentage of the first ticket’s sales to the African Wildlife Foundation.  This drove people to go see the movie the first week it was realized, and it reached an audience that cared about African wildlife.

This brings us to… ABAN

This semester, a team of three other students and myself are working towards increasing traffic, awareness, and sales of a non-profit organization started in the North Carolina community.

via ABAN

via ABAN

A Ban Against Neglect (ABAN) is a non-profit organization that strives to improvement Ghana’s environment and empower street women and children to restoring themselves and creating better futures.

40 tons of plastic is thrown on the street everyday. 30,000 children sleep on those same streets.

They provide a 2-year program for 20 street women that heals their body through providing a safe home, nutritious meals, and healthcare, develops their mind through educational classes (math and reading), life-skills courses, and responsible living, and nurtures their spirit by helping them develop positive views of themselves, community engagement, and spiritual life. By the end of the two year program, these girls have learned life skills and trade skills that will give them the opportunity for better futures.

From liter to unique products, via ABAN media kit

From liter to unique products, via ABAN media kit

ABAN Community Employment (ACE), ABAN’s for-profit subsidiary, sells bags and accessories made of the plastic littering that they collect from the streets of Accra, Ghana.

Ultimately, ABAN strives to create a place where women realize their worth and dignity and empowers them to transform their futures.

In the future, ABAN hopes to be able to help more women and open other locations.

Looking Forward

I am extremely excited about the opportunity to work with ABAN and help them strategize marketing techniques to reach their goals. It’s an exciting project considering how socially-aware my generation is and how willing people are to be involved with products and organizations that make a difference.

I am especially looking forward to researching for-profit companies that support and co-brand with non-profit organizations like ABAN.   I think this is an untapped trend that ABAN could really benefit from.

This post is a part of a series of posts for Integrated Marketing Communications class that explores strategies of integrated marketing communications and recognizes strong and weak branding strategies today.

Marketing for Thought

Are you representing yourself well?

As a junior undergraduate looking for summer internships, I know that I am preaching to the choir when I say that entering today’s workforce is extremely competitive. Reviewing the list of preferences and qualities that companies are looking for in interns is alone overwhelming.  Tradition lies in sending in paper resumes, personalized cover letters, etc., but how do you differentiate yourself from other candidates when your potential employer’s are reviewing hundreds of other people?

Maybe we don’t.

Example 1: #EllenNeedsErica

Erica Barstein advocating herself to be hired by The Ellen DeGeneres Show

Erica Barstein advocating herself to be hired by The Ellen DeGeneres Show

According to, it has been Erica Barstein’s dream to see The Ellen DeGeneres Show in person.  And her dream has come true: on January 16, she won tickets to see the Ellen show on February 21. Life for University Arizona senior Barstein would be even better, if her second dream comes true: working for Ellen.

As an avid fan of the show, Barstein knows what type of candidate the show would consider hiring.  They need to be bright, witty, a quick-thinker, imaginative, and have the ability to laugh at themselves. So how does she plan on differentiating herself from the hundreds of candidates that apply for the famous talk show?

Through 36 videos, one for each day since she got the tickets until she goes to the show. She has created videos showcasing why Ellen needs her, and each highlights a different theme or characteristic she has that would benefit the Ellen team.  Video topics include accomplishments, humor, diversity, and parities of other viral videos. No matter what topic of the day it is, she always brings it back to Ellen’s carefree and witty attitude.

Her YouTube channel alone has over 80,000 views (to date). On Facebook, she has over 2,000 likes, and has generated more than 50,000 views. Advocates for her have also taken to Twitter, using #ellenneedserica to increase popularity and tweet at The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Example 2: BuzzFeed Fellow

BuzzFeed, a website that captures the essence of what’s trending online through videos, images, and editorials, uses humor, sarcasm, and lists in most of their pieces.  What better way to grab the attention of employers than a list of why they should be hired?

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The future of branding yourself

Are Barstein’s videos and social media campaigns or BuzzFeed’s mock post really that far-fetched for advocating for a position? Not at all.

We, in the job search journey, are faced with similar challenges that companies face when strategizing how to compete and differentiate themselves from other brands with similar products.

We are entering a period of brand parity. With the lack of available jobs, their are more applicants seeking the same jobs, many of whom possess similar qualities, experiences, and characteristics. Outside of referrals or internships, resumes and cover letters are no longer the strategies to set yourself apart from candidates who have similar qualifications.

How do we define ourselves?

We define what’s unique about us. How do companies do this? Brand equity.

Don’t believe it? See for yourself:

(Using the #EllenNeedsErica example from above, how is she setting herself apart? By building brand equity)

  1. Research and analyze what it would take to make a brand distinctive.Barstein has watched the show since the first episode aired. She knows Ellen’s skits backwards and forwards.  She recognizes Ellen’s attitudes and what differentiates Ellen from other shows. From watching the show (and other research) she knows what qualities would be most appealing to the Ellen team.
  2. Engage in continuous innovation.Barstein has made her own YouTube channel and has posted a video everyday about why she should be hired. 
  3. Move fast. She started the day after she received news that she would be an audience member of the Ellen show. Since then, she has kept to task and has made a video everyday. She recognized her window of opportunity.
  4. Integrate old and new media. She uses YouTube, Facebook, and has created a Twitter following.  She has been sought out by student publications at the University of Arizona about her project. She also uses word of mouth by getting other people involved in the making of her videos and other people spreading awareness on social media platforms. 
  5. Focus on domination. Every video and effort stems back to the original idea: she is the best candidate for the job.

Integrated Marketing Communications

Consumers are looking for brands that not only appeal to them on emotional levels, but also engage with them. Companies are looking for the same thing in their employees. Outside of #EllenNeedsErica’s direct peer engagement and encouragement, developing ourselves on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites are crucial for careers in marketing, public relations, strategic communication, broadcasting, etc. Similar to a portfolio, it creates a brand foundation beyond our paper resume and cover letters. We, the job seekers, want to create a similar and cohesive message, desire, and confidence across all platforms considered by our potential employers.

So, what do companies actually think?

Maybe not all companies are onboard with innovative and non-traditional hiring tactics, but some embrace them.

Vala Afshar, chief marketing officer at the tech firm Enterasys Networks, is one of these people. During an interview with USA TODAY, he said, “The paper resume is dead. I believe the very best talent isn’t even looking for work.They’re mobile and socially connected and too busy changing the world.” He is currently looking for a senior social manager strategist based on tweets.  You can tweet at the company until April about why you deserve the job.

What can we do?

Branding yourself is more important than ever.  We are competing with so many people for the same jobs.  It is more crucial than ever to differentiate yourself, no matter what unique way that may be.

Kudos to Erica Barstein. I would have never had the courage to do what you are doing for your dream job. The best of luck to you Thursday.  We all have something to learn from you.
This post is a part of a series of posts for Integrated Marketing Communications class that explores strategies of integrated marketing communications and recognizes strong and weak branding strategies today.

Demember, Alyssa. “For UA senior, making it on Ellen Show is everything”

Horovitz, Bruce. “Tweets, not resumes, are trending #icymi” USA TODAY.

“Ten Reasons Why BuzzFeed Should Hire Me As A Fellow”