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Don't Just Advertise, Educate!

Published on by John Findlay.

Wanna Sell More Stuff?  Don’t Just Advertise, Educate!

There’s an old saying that goes; “fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me”.  Well, this fall I need to buy a new grill so I’ve been comparing features and reading online reviews in an attempt to avoid making the mistake I made last time.  

Fours years ago I stupidly bought the cheap grill thinking I’d save a few shekels.  What’s worse is that I bought a big one because we entertain quite frequently and I wanted to be able to cook lots of food at the same time.  So first of all, don’t ever buy a cheap big grill.  The stupid thing was so flimsy and underpowered that you couldn’t really cook anything on cold nights.  Turns out BTUs (whatever the hell those are) are a big deal.  

While disappointed with my purchase I’m sufficiently thrifty (my wife calls it “cheap”) that I resolved to use the damn thing until such time as I needed a new one.  

Fast forward to a balmy evening last summer on which I was enjoying a delicious beer while cooking some steaks for a dinner party.   As I took an ice cold sip of my Dos Equis (if you must know, I do think it made me more interesting!)  I heard a loud noise from my grill.  Ay Caramba!  Turned out the bottom had fallen out of my crappy BBQ!  

Being someone who tries to learn from his mistakes (at least by the third time!), I resolved that unless I was buying paper clips I’d do a little research before throwing down the Chargex next time.  Figured I’d make fewer misteaks. (sorry, that was lame!) 

So what does this mean for marketers?  

EDUCATE, EDUCATE, EDUCATE

Again, if you’re selling something banal like baking soda, educating consumers isn’t likely to impact your bottom line.  For most other product categories though, education is crucial.  If you’re selling food you should extoll its health benefits (unless it’s Pop Tarts in which case just man up and say “they’re terrible for ya, but man they’re good!).  Or, if it’s vacations, it’s probably better if people understand where they’re going, where they’re staying and what activities can save them from having to chat with their spouse for 7 days straight (ooops, did I say that?).  The bottom line is, the more people know about your product or service the more likely you are to be part of their consideration set, and even its frontrunner.

Don't believe me? Check this out: The more consumers know, the more likely they are to purchase! 

BUT THEY WON’T LISTEN!

Okay, so we know we need to educate them.  The trouble is consumers aren’t waiting with bated breath for your next video or tweet.  In fact, for the most part they couldn’t care less.  So the question is; “what’s in it for them?”.  If the answer is “nothing”, you bet consumers won’t be all that interested in your messaging.

So how do we add value so that consumers are willing to engage with our brands?  At Launchfire we use giveaways and gamification to prompt engagement but there are other tricks including tools, entertainment, exclusive content, etc.  The bottom line is you need to walk a mile in your target customers’ shoes so that you can identify things that would be valuable to them.  By creating valuable content into which you nest your key messaging you’ll attract, engage and educate consumers about why they should buy your stuff!

This post was brought to you by Dos Equis, well constructed BBQs and the American Dream. 

This post was brought to you by Dos Equis, well constructed BBQs and the American Dream. 


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Links we Love: Sept 5 - 11

Published on by Romeo Maione.

I’m looking forward to going somewhere exotic in February. That makes me a pretty typical North American travel consumer. 

This is a man who truly appreciates vacations

I also spend a lot of my free time doing research into travel marketing, which is a little less typical. Check out the links that got passed around our office this week! 

If you read only one link on the list, make it this one. It’s a fascinating look at how travel marketers have an opportunity to be innovative with their digital strategy. I’ll let the article do the rest of the talking: “Within a highly competitive industry, I believe that travel brands need to distinguish themselves and lead the way in user experience, accessibility and gamification.  This should be on top of a comprehensive organic and paid search campaign, content resource marketing including image and video optimisation, social media marketing and social media management / customer services.”

tnooz gives some tips on how to do effective brand content marketing in the travel industry. It’s a decent rundown with a good case study! 

B2C Magazine looked into why travel consumers are more likely to post videos and reviews than any other consumers. Good insights that point to running promotions that are heavily focused on user-gen content! 

tnooz also gave a checklist for travel marketers looking for SEO partners. It’s a good list which applies equally to picking promotional partners: “Marketers should look for transparent firms that can show a clear strategy, a history of open communication and a track record of success.” If a shop isn’t proud of their record, steer clear! 

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3 Reasons the Ice Bucket Challenge Went Viral

Published on by Romeo Maione.

Unless you spend the majority of your time on the moon, you’ve seen people pouring ice water on their head this summer and it wasn’t just to keep cool!

Yeah, we're using a picture of Justin Bieber to get your attention. Get over it. 

Yeah, we're using a picture of Justin Bieber to get your attention. Get over it. 

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge encouraged participants to pour a bucket of ice water on their head and then nominate three people to do the same. It was created to raise awareness (and money) for ALS, and in that respect the campaign was aggressively successful. Everyone from your aunt Margie to former President George W. Bush got in on the action. ALS donations are at an all time high and everyone’s talking about the disease. 

In the wake of such a viral success, people inevitably ask why this campaign was a rousing successes while others failed. Though a lot of it comes down to timing and luck, the Ice Bucket Challenge did a few things that can teach us how to go viral. 

It was simple

Dumping a bucket of water on your head isn’t hard. It’s a little uncomfortable but it’s definitely within people’s comfort zone. The perfect formula for a viral campaign is to make sure what you’re asking of users is just wacky enough to be interesting without requiring too much work. Call it slacktivism, clicktivism or just good old fashioned laziness, but people aren’t gonna do too much. Keep it simple and you’ve got a shot at going as viral as an office cold. 

How not to go viral

How not to go viral

It was user-focused

While the Ice Bucket Challenge raised a lot of money for ALS, the campaign was definitely focused on the person posting the video. It gave participants an excuse to show off while doing something silly. Everybody likes attention but no one wants to seem narcissistic, so the secret sauce for going viral is to create a platform that lets people get the attention they’re looking for while making it seem like they’re doing something undesirable. That lets people have their cake and devour it simultaneously. 

It was self-propagating

The beauty of the Ice Bucket Challenge was that it incorporated a “Pay it Forward” scheme into each video. After you pour the water on your head, you’re supposed to nominate three other people to do the same. Research shows that when people are “called out” in a public forum they are significantly less likely to refuse participation. The best viral campaigns add an extra little hint of guilt and pressure to make joining in more attractive.  

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Links we Love: August 22 - 28

Published on by Romeo Maione.

I know a lot of you are on vacation, so what better time to do some research into travel marketing? Kick back and grab a second cocktail while you read!  

Still counts as one drink

Still counts as one drink

tnooz wrote about the intersection of gamification and travel marketing, a subject near and dear to our hearts. From the article: “In fact, a recent study by Gigya showed that gamification improves engagement by one-third, with online commenting improving by 13%, social media sharing improving by 22%, and content discovery improving by a whopping 68%.” We could’a told you that! 

This article argues that gamification can save travel loyalty programs, which have been lagging in recent years. We’re inclined to agree, but only if it’s executed properly. “Lame” gamification can turn consumers off! 

Forbes posted an article discussing how business travel could use a lift from gamification. It (accurately!) notes that as millennials fill the workforce, turning mundane tasks into games is more enticing than ever. It also spells out what we’ve been saying for a decade, that gamification provides companies with incredible data on its employees and consumers! 

Finally the Financial Post had a great article on how tourists and traveling businesspeople use travel reviews to decide where to vacation. But if you’re a regular blog reader, you’re on top of that already

Labor Day’s this weekend, so enjoy wearing white while you still can. 

Shine on, you crazy diamond

Shine on, you crazy diamond


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Travel Marketing: Using Reviews as a Tool

Published on by Romeo Maione.

Let’s do a quick experiment. Read the following two descriptions of The Hudson Hotel in New York City: 

A)Hudson is filled with exuberance and energy, social interaction and passion for life. It all begins in the lobby, the heart and soul of the hotel, where intriguing lives intersect, genuine conversations spark, and adventure and experimentation begin. Spirited and casual, Hudson is the perfect urban playground, where youthful curiosity hangs with eclectic enchantment, and around every corner lies another opportunity to explore. Hudson is New York City. - The Hudson Website

B) Last time I was in New York City, I stayed at the Hudson on West 58th Street. I got a great rate for a clean and funky room with stellar service. Their bar is trendy and it’s in the perfect location for both Central Park and the Theatre District. I would definitely go back.  - My TripAdvisor Review

Which one has more impact on your likelihood to book? 

If you’re like 81% of Americans, that 54-word TripAdvisor review I wrote on the bus out of New York has a far more significant impact on your booking than all the website copy in the world. 

I totally understand that instinct.  

It hurts to hear, but marketing copy is less effective than it once was. The modern consumer has a finely tuned “BS” meter and doesn’t trust advertisements. However, customer reviews are a totally different story. I really did go to The Hudson and I really did have a good experience. My only goal in writing that review was to let other people know that it’s a good hotel. Since anyone can write a review, and anyone can read them, no one has to parse through potentially misleading, financially driven copy to figure out if a place is good or not. 

He ain't Don Draper

He ain't Don Draper

So how do marketers adapt to the changing landscape of consumer influences? 

Encourage people to write reviews and then respond to them! 

If you host reviews on your website, you can run a promotion that rewards users for writing reviews. If you rely on third party sites like TripAdvisor or hotels.com you can either partner with them for a promotion or simply encourage people at checkout or boarding to write a review. Put “Write a Review” on receipts and boarding passes. Make it as easy as possible for people to share their opinions about your business. 

Of course, there will be some bad reviews. That’s unavoidable and not necessarily a bad thing. Bad reviews lend credibility and are exactly why user reviews are more trustworthy than carefully tailored corporate marketing. As long as you respond directly and quickly to the negative reviews, they could still have a net positive affect on your business. 

TripAdvisor has a great function where management can respond visibly to bad reviews and try to ameliorate the situation. This gives businesses the ability to flex their customer service muscles and turn negative Nancys into repeat customers. 

Consumers are the new copywriters. If you want them to work for you you’ve gotta give ‘em a good experience! When things fall short, make sure you respond to them as quickly as possible. 

Here it comes...the call to action!

If you want to chat about how you can use reviews as a marketing tool, give our travel specialist Phil Mechura a call at 613.706.0194



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Links we Love: August 15 - 21

Published on by Romeo Maione.

In early July I usually start telling my friends & family that summer's almost over.  Drives 'em nuts! Thought maybe I'd try the tactic professionally by linking to this article about Back to School sales forecasts.  Hard to deny that summer's winding down when we're amping up the BTS narrative.  (You want to smack me don't cha?)

This article highlights Back-to-School email campaigns that a few major department stores recently sent.  I included this because it was interesting to see what they were up to and because it allows me to mention how good we are at helping retailers drive new email opt ins!  (I know…shameful!)

Today? For you? 15% right off the top

Today? For you? 15% right off the top

To cool you down even further, we’re planning holiday promotions this week so we got down to some festive research. Here are some interesting tidbits we found! 

This UK infographic shows that men are far more likely to do last minute holiday shopping than women. Shocker, I know. 

This fascinating infographic by Econsultancy shows that 29% of US shoppers start holiday shopping before October. I’m going to go ahead and wager that’s mostly women.

Even this paid actor isn't having a great time

Even this paid actor isn't having a great time

It also shows that 63% of shoppers plan to do most of their holiday shopping online.

Twitter put out a pretty good infographic describing how Twitter users do their holiday shopping. 

Loads of media outlets posted articles that claim this holiday season will be the biggest ever for online shopping. 

Finally, here’s a clock that counts down until Christmas. Excited yet? 

Happy Holidays! 

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Launchfire Interactive Inc.

22 Hamilton Ave N Ottawa, ON K1Y 1B6
EMAIL: sales@launchfire.com       FAX: 1.613.728.1527
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