Thursday, September 13, 2018

How I learned all the things at CMWorld 2018

My sixth time at this great event was a little different. This year, I was honored to co-host a session with my good friend Cathy McPhillips, to help attendees get the most out of the conference. Holding a session at 4:30 p.m. on the eve of the first day, we weren’t sure what to expect as far as attendance, but people came. People sat on the floor and in the isles. It was great.

After the always-fun first night event at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the different feeling continued. First up, it was the fab Robert Rose taking the stage, not Joe Pulizzi. Robert did a great job of welcoming us and reminding us – true to this year’s Game On theme – that a new Player 2 had entered the Content Marketing game, and that new player is trust. True, poignant and thought provoking. But it wasn’t the orange-clad godfather I was used to seeing.

Stephanie Stahl, General Manager of Content Marketing Institute (CMI), joined Robert and welcomed the crowd, estimated to be larger than last year’s 3,600 content marketers, to what would be a great show. But where was…

Ah, then I felt better. Enter Joe Pulizzi, founder of CMI, creator of Content Marketing World and wearer of everything orange. As the guiding force he has become in the content marketing space, Joe provided some needed insight and reassuring familiarity. He told us there are three reasons our content marketing efforts fail: our goal isn’t big enough, we aren’t delivering consistently or our efforts aren’t focused. Joe also reminded us that in marketing, we always want to harvest; we take, take, take. In content marketing, we serve.

Balance restored. On with the show.

The first keynote of the show is given, as always, by the highest-rated speaker from the previous year (I love how this works, btw) and that was Andrew Davis. So many good messages here, but the main message he had for us is that we aren’t creating enough drama in our content. Or, as Drew puts it, enough tension. The payoff of your content, Drew says, must be proportional to the tension you build.

He proceeded to prove his point by bringing a giant mystery box with him on stage. He started to open it several times, but never took us all the way, if you know what I mean. He also shared two videos of exploding watermelons, because one does these things. One was a slow-motion explosion that took maybe 7 seconds. Nice, he says, but where’s the tension?

Then he shared a video where two Buzzfeed employees, clad in plastic from head to toe, began wrapping rubber bands around an unsuspecting watermelon. Everyone knew what would happen. Eventually. But when? What would it look like? People were watching online, delaying meetings and not picking up their kids at school to watch as more and more rubber bands were added. More than 700,000 people were watching at one point. This is tension.

Then, as any good tension-builder does, he let that sit. Drew Davis left us hanging. He talked about this idea called the curiosity gap, which is the chasm between what we know and what we want to know. He says we need to make this as big as possible to build, you know, tension. LIKE THE RUBBER BAND THING – CAN WE PLEASE GO BACK THERE? WHAT IS HAPPENING??

Of course, he did. And it exploded. But not before the point was made. He left us all with the question: what are you doing to build tension for your brand?

Tough act to follow, right? So, I went to see Jay Baer.

Jay is a speaker, author and lover of tequila & BBQ. He also knows some stuff, yall. On this day, he’s talking about word of mouth. We’ve all heard talks about word of mouth, but Jay’s examples brought it home. And, even though it’s called word of mouth, the best stories, he said, are about what you do, not what you say (because, if I may, it’s not your mouth, brands!).

Like Doubletree Hotels and how they will always have a warm chocolate chip cookie for you. For 30 years. What does a choc chip cookie have to do with clean rooms or a good night’s sleep? Nothing. But they are a reminder of home…and who doesn’t want that on the road. The cookie is the content.

Jay also trotted out Cheesecake Factory’s 5,940-word menu (he had an intern count the words for him). They prepare chicken in 85 different ways. This is the Cheesecake Factory, right? The ridiculously large menu has become their oversized calling card. And it works.

Jay called these things talk triggers and asked us about ours. Fair question. He also left us with this: surprise and delight is a stunt, not a strategy. Yes. He’s got a book coming out and you should get it. It has an alpaca on the front and no one knows why. Get it anyway.

Next for me was another Jay, no relation. Jay Acunzo has been successfully beating the best-practices-are-just-average drum for a bit, but always in a meaningful way.

To prove what I mean, Jay started out by reminding us, almost as if it was the first time, that there’s a gap between the work we want to do and the work we actually do. Yes! But, wait… why? Because we make decisions in three ways, Jay says, based on: conventional wisdom, the latest trends or, simply, everything. Because when you don’t know what to do, you do it all.

He offered great brand examples, like Poo-Pourri and Merriam-Webster (yes, the dictionary), and talked about this thing he called first principle insight, which are basic but hard-to-reach truths about your situation. Dig deeper, look for the real reason and you will also find an emotional connection, he told us.

Finally, he encouraged us not to be an expert, but an investigator. Then there was this: exceptional work isn’t created by the answers others give, but by asking better questions. Yes, my friend.

Just when I thought day one couldn’t get better, they bring me Ann Handley.

You know Ann. We all do. The first Chief Content Officer on the planet and, now, thanks to a surprise ceremony on this day, the first recipient of the Content Marketing Hero Award. Big doins folks.

Then, after all of that, she still gave a great presentation.

Ann spoke, appropriately, about great communication. She talked about newsletters, of all things, and why they are seeing a resurgence in growth and popularity. Ann told us that the secret to a great newsletter wasn’t the news part, but the letter.

Writing something to a specific person makes it — wait for it — more personal. She mentioned Warren Buffett, the bazillionaire investor guy, who’s famous for his shareholder newsletter. People wait by the mailbox (okay, probably their inbox) for this thing every quarter and he writes it…to his sister Doris. Smart guy, that Buffet. He figures if his sister, who’s a smart lady but knows virtually nothing about investing, can understand his newsletter, others can, too. Works.

And that’s what you get from Ann. Smart insight that’s so accessible it also makes you feel good. Hey, I’d buy MarketingProfs stock. Okay day one, I thought to myself, that will do.

But I got an unexpected surprise.

Famed National Geographic photographer Dewitt Jones was up next (I’m sorry…who?). Now, I’ve seen National Geographic magazine. And if they say this guy’s a great photographer, that’s what I’m going with. But content marketing? What’s the connection? My mind started wandering, I started thinking maybe I could find this elusive new Starbucks in the convention center people were talking about…

I decided to hang around. And I’m very glad I did. Mr. Jones is a fine photographer, people. But I’m here to tell you he’s a better storyteller. He might even be a great storyteller. He’s probably a storyteller who also takes pictures (that’s how good the stories were).

From jungles and desserts to Scottish weight-thrower guys, he certainly had some great examples. His overall message was this: when it comes to creativity, there can always be more than one right answer. Let that sink in a bit, because it’s powerful.

Time and again, he would show us a beautiful photo he had taken somewhere in the world, only to be replaced by a better one (usually much better) that he captured just by looking at something closer, further away, differently. And then he dropped this on me, mister Dewitt Jones did: it’s not trespassing to go beyond one’s own boundaries.

Thank you, day one.

The second day of Content Marketing world would start out in a thoughtful way.

Mathew Sweezey (one T, please) from Salesforce offered a talk on the difference between high and low performing marketing teams. I was all in on this one (and so were a lot of others) because we want to be in that first group, right?

Mr. Sweezey started by telling us that tactics don’t matter. Yes! 1,000x. Everyone has the same tactics available to them, so that can’t be the difference between high and low performing teams. He also talked a lot about the importance of customer experience, which has taken on a buzzword feel today. He successfully used the Kmart Ship my pants campaign of an example of a great message (it won a Lion at Cannes, for Pete’s sake!) that wasn’t consistent with the in-store or online experience and, as a result, failed miserably. Point to Mr. Sweezey.

We don’t have a content problem, he said, we have a getting the right content to the right person problem. Game, set, match.

My next session took me across the pond (metaphorically, people, there’s no actual pond) to hear from the British content marketing duo Andrew & Pete. They challenged us to follow the leaders of the medium, not the industry, and argued quite successfully that there are only two ways to succeed today: be better or be different. (Is it me or did that last bit sound like I was speaking in a British accent to you? Me, too. Right.)

They had a great way of talking about the things we should probably already know, but in a fresh way. Like the remarkability trifle, which everyone should order the next time you’re in a restaurant that serves marketing desserts. There are three layers in this trifle: ideation (delivering content in a different way); validation (using SoMe to test your ideas and improve on them) and Dependability (be dependable in how, when you deliver content). It was delicious.

Next was Joe Lazauskas, who says it’s the golden age for brands who want to build meaningful relationships with their audience. To prove it, Joe educated us on the neuroscience stuffs and even went so far as to wire up four (willing) participants from the audience to see how they reacted to a somewhat (okay, very) emotional ad from HP. I wasn’t crying, you were crying.

It was cool — and a little scary — to think about how marketers might use this tech to test ideas and get even deeper into our heads. Kudos to Laser for researching and bringing us these deep thoughts. One audience member asked where they might get this technology today and Joe said it wasn’t yet available but that, since he was from Jersey, he might be able to “hook you up.” Perfect.

Just two more, swear.

Tom Webster talked about the importance of voice and the spoken word, not just those new-fangled smart speakers and podcasts, but sound in general. He suggested your brand needs to find its own sound and that there’s an open door here: while the NBC three tone jingle was the first sound registered as a trademark in America back in the 1970s, only some 200 others have been ® since. Opportunity?

Tom reminded us to do five things with audio:
Be consistent. Tom Bodett from Motel 6 and his “We’ll leave a light on for you” line has created a character over time that adds to the brand story (heck, he probably is the brand story). And none of us knows what he looks like. Honestly, I thought he worked at Motel 6; turns out he’s a voice actor and has been doing Motel 6 ads since 1986.Be contextual. Be aware of what people are doing when they are listening to you.
Be helpful. Things like smart speakers give people a chance to ask questions they might not want to ask other people. Like their doctor.
Be relevant.
Be a show. Entertainment value of sound is important. And, according to Tom, two guys sitting around talking about the Cubs is not a show. Be a show.

And, of course, as you might have heard, Tina Fey was the final keynote speaker this year. And she was great. Getting to her, with 4,000 of my closest friends, was another matter. While in line, I passed through rain, campfires and briefly lost consciousness. I don’t want to say the line was long but, when I first got in line, Burt Reynolds was still with us. Still, it was worth it.

Here’s Tina Fey on:

Women in comedy:
“We used to be treated like cappuccino machines — ‘Why do we need another one, we have one already?’”

“Everything before Command+P is a nightmare”

Personal brands:
“I feel like I’m maybe a generation too old; I have a brand, but I have it by accident.”

The one rule when creating content:
“Trust your gut.”

How she prepares for something new:
“Learn from things you think are good and learn from things you think are bad.”

For those of you who attended #CMWorld (and the three of you who made it to the end of this long piece), we share a common bond. We came in search of knowledge and received so much more. We’ve renewed and created entirely new friendships, learned from experts in our field and from each other, and were inspired to do great things. And thanks to the great team at CMI, we are ready.

Let’s do this.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Who’s translating your brand’s story?

How front line associates hold the key to a more authentic brand

Many companies work hard to craft a brand story that’s designed to bring in new customers. They invest millions in sales, marketing and other means of telling their story to get people in the door. But, if they don’t keep all of their associates in the loop, the experience inside those doors can be quite different.

How much time and energy do you spend making sure your front line associates understand and can talk about your brand in a way that’s consistent with the story you use to attract new customers?

In many cases, after-the-sale staff like customer service reps are the hardest working people you have. But, if they don’t know what brand story you’re telling, how in the world can they be consistent with it?

There are great examples on both sides of this common situation.

Brands who do this well — think Zappos, Chipotle — are great at communicating their story to all front line people, whether they are working in customer service or taking orders at the counter.

Zappos does a great job of pushing information out from the brand, through associates and eventually to customers. And, in many cases, it has nothing to do with shoes. The Zappos Family Library is how the company shares preferred readings, free of charge, to associates to help them learn and grow.

It’s a great way to instill the culture and show associates — rather than just telling them — the company is committed to learning and development, a core value for the brand. The library has been so popular that the company is now offering it to customers, too.

At Chipotle, they’ve learned that the best associates are home grown, just like the food they serve. Over time and through some growing pains, the brand figured out that promoting from within helps to keep the culture consistent from location to location and also helps associates stay motivated (and with the company longer).

If you’ve done business with either of these companies recently, you know the experience is very consistent, regardless of whether you’re online, on the phone or in a restaurant anywhere across the country.

Unfortunately, there are brands that aren’t as consistent with their brand story, and many of them are no longer around. No surprise. For example, Circuit City struggled to define its brand among a sea of electronics retailers and was never big enough to compete solely on price. Perhaps its biggest mistake was a double whammy.

Rather than investing in its experienced workforce, they chose to fire a large portion of the company’s long-tenured staff, replacing them with cheaper, less experienced hourly workers who were compensated whether they sold something or not. That’s whammy #1. And where do they think those experienced salespeople went? Yep, to the competition. Whammy # 2.

Another brand that’s no longer with us, Radio Shack, made a different kind of miscalculation. The Shack never really decided who their target consumer would be. Could it be the DIY electronics guy? The home PC buyer? The young mobile phone buyer? The gamer? The online catalog shopper?

Unfortunately, the answer for all of these was a resounding no. Without a target persona, the company didn’t know what problem to solve and lost focus. And, quite naturally, Radio Shack’s associates could never find a rhythm, not knowing who the folks at corporate were trying to pull through the doors this month. Ironically, as associates would ask prospects if they could help them, they must have been wondering the same thing themselves.

Of course, each brand must find its own way. I’m not suggesting every brand do things exactly like Zappos or Chipotle, but any brand that wants to be as successful should look for ways to include its front line associates if they want to continue to deliver an authentic brand experience to customers.

Customer retention is critical and can’t be solved by pouring more money into sales and marketing. Your associates are the way the brand gets delivered everyday. Make sure they know what you stand for and empower them to deliver on that experience.

I would argue it’s the best investment you can make in your brand.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Change management and marketing: aren’t they really the same thing?

I’ve recently taken a new view of marketing – thanks to a new job outside of it.

Last March, I took a new role at my current employer focused on helping our associates manage change, mainly using a change management process called ADKAR.

If you’re not familiar, ADKAR was developed by Jeff Hiatt in 2003 to help manage the people side of change. It’s actually an acronym that stands for the phases a person goes through as they deal with change.

First, people must be Aware of the need for change. Then, they need to have a Desire to change. Next, they must have the Knowledge needed to make the change and the Ability to implement these new skills and behaviors. Finally, there needs to be Reinforcement to sustain the change.

The ADKAR methodology can be used to help people through a change like adapting a new system or process, and many organizations use ADKAR for this today.

But I also see a link to the behavior changes brands are trying to create with customers and prospects. Think about it – isn’t this what you would like your future customers to do:

Awareness:               People know why they need to change (and choose you)
Desire:                       They have a desire to choose you
Knowledge:               They understand why they should choose you
Ability:                       They have the ability to choose you
Reinforcement:         They can choose to stay with you (or continue to choose you)

So, yeah, change management is marketing, in a way. Not in every way, of course, but there are helpful similarities. So, what can you do with this information? Plenty:

1.     Take a look at your marketing today. Are you helping customers and prospects become aware of the need for choosing you? Perhaps a deeper, more important question: do consumers feel a need to choose you? This can be at the category level (here’s why you need a car) or at the brand level (here’s why you need a Buick). Your brand’s maturity will dictate this.

2.     This is where it can get fun, but also challenging. Do people want to choose you? Give them a reason! People always have other choices for what you do/provide, so how do you stand out and convince people to choose you? This is what us old-time ad guys used to call a USP or unique selling proposition. Today, we usually call this your reason for being or your differentiator. Call it what you want, but make sure your target audience knows it.

3.     Have you given people the information they need to be able to choose you? You may have the best smelling, longest burning candle in the world but, if people don’t know why it’s good for them, it just doesn’t matter. Don’t just get the word out, tell your story.

4.     Can people choose you if they want to? This includes important marketing elements like distribution (Can I find you? Are you where I expect you to be?) and pricing (Can I afford you or justify your cost for the value you provide?)

5.     How can you make sure people continue to choose you? This includes after-the-sale service and other retention efforts that don’t always get the same attention that acquisition efforts do. They should.

The next time you’re asked for a marketing strategy that delivers, consider thinking about your challenge as a change management strategy and use the structure and power of ADKAR.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

It’s not advertising or content; advertising IS content (and other musings)

Photo credit:
It always happens.

Something new and different comes along and two groups quickly form.

There are the bandwagoners, who were just looking for something new to get behind. And the don’t-move-my-cheesers, who don’t know why people have to mess with things when they’re working just fine.

In the advertising/marketing space, there’s been a lot of talk lately about content marketing. So much talk, in fact, that people can’t decide what content marketing is and what it isn’t. People also have to decide which group they are in.

And, in the ad world specifically, this comes at a bad time. People are tuning out all of those TV commercials agencies and brands spend so much time and money creating. The world is changing and people have more control over what they see — and it turns out they don’t want to see commercials.

So the ad agencies and their clients are understandably on edge, when along comes this new and different thing called content marketing.

The bandwagoners, of course, were all over it. This is going to be great, they think. We’ll create our own content and push it out to the world through our own (almost free) channels and win the day! We don’t need to pay to create or distribute ads anymore. Ha, they say.

But…if everyone does that at once, it might not be as effective (and not everyone is good at it).

On the other side, the don’t-move-my-cheesers have seen this all before. Didn’t we all get into a tizzy a few years ago about social media? Wasn’t that going to save the day? Yeah, well, brands still need to promote themselves and, anyway, we’ve been doing this storytelling thing for more than 100 years — really well. Don’t worry about us, they say, we’ll be fine.

So who’s right? Well, they both are.

The bandwagoners are right that this is different and technology is somewhat responsible/to blame. It’s true that brands can now create and distribute their own content, but that doesn’t mean they will all do it well. And when they all do it at the same time, things get really noisy (and consumers tune out).

The don’t-move-my-cheesers are right that storytelling is one of the most important pieces here, and many agencies do that really well. But not all of them. And agencies need to open their eyes to the fact that people’s preferences are more sophisticated; the old campaign model is broken and funding research that says TV is still the most effective medium is not only wasteful, but a little desperate.

So, where do we go from here? As usual, the truth lies somewhere in between. Here are a few bottom-line outcomes to keep in mind from someone with a foot in each camp:

• Advertising is still useful, especially if you’re trying to build awareness for a brand
• Advertising isn’t a cure-all, nor is it the only solution

• Content Marketing is a philosophical change in the way messages are created
• Content Marketing isn’t just digital, nor is it the Holy Grail (or new, for that matter)

• Progressive brands employ a variety of strategies to grow their audience
• Not-as-progressive brands are just trying to sell products and services the same old way

• It turns out, people don’t want to buy stuff, they want to experience things
• Sometimes, that may mean buying stuff

• Consumers don’t want a TV show, they want to be told a story
• Sometimes, the story is a TV show, but it’s not limited to the big TV networks anymore (see: Walking Dead, Orange is the New Black, Making a Murderer, etc.)
• And, sometimes, it’s not TV at all (see: The Lego Movie, Share a Coke)

Successful brands know their audience; they understand their wants and needs and know their preferences. They don’t just jump on any old bandwagon, yet they are willing to try new things as long as it allows them to serve their audience.

By employing the best practices of content marketing, you can avoid being either a bandwagoner or a don’t-move-my-cheeser by simply telling your audience a great story that solves a problem in their lives.

And, if you’re patient enough, they just might invite you in.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

I still don't like events, but...

I'm an introvert.

That means I'm quite comfortable here behind my keyboard, thank you very much, but not as comfortable in other places where you might find, say, people. Like the real world. But, at least once a year, I try to leave the comfort of my keyboard and venture to Content Marketing World in Cleveland. That's where I am today.

And, as is typically the case, I have already learned some things and received some value from attending. The funny part? Yeah, the show hasn't started yet.

While the sessions are always well done, given by very smart and well-respected people in their given fields and well attended, the most value I get from #CMWorld, as it's called, is from the time before, after and between sessions.

This is the time you get to meet people you've 'talked' with online for a year or more. But you actually get to look at them, and they at you. You get to see the body language, the head nods, the smiles. And it makes all the difference in the world.

So, while I would typically rather lose a toe (the small one, if you please) rather than willingly sign up to attend a 'trade show', Content Marketing World is different. Is it because I feel more comfortable? Probably. And that's because of the people.

From the Content Marketing Institute folks who host the show (who, btw, are fabulous) to the speakers and moderators and presenters who are genuinely interested in helping people learn, I think this show has a little something different going on.

I can't tell you what that something different is, but it's there, just the same.

For you, it may be a different show in a different town covering a different topic that's near and dear to you. And that's great. I would encourage you -- especially those of you in club introvert, like me -- to find your CMWorld. Find the people you call your people and you will learn from them, and they you.

I've found mine.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Magazines: a time tested example of customizing content for an audience

Image courtesy of
Let’s take this act like a publisher thing for another spin, shall we?

Everyone talks about how brands should act like publishers (especially since technology makes most of them publishers now anyway), but what does that actually mean?

Brands are struggling with managing all the different ways they can publish content today. Especially on social media.

Whether it’s Facebook or Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram, brands often struggle with how these channels — and the content they share on them — should be different. In reality, the perfect example for how to solve this problem was created more than 300 years ago.

It’s magazines.

As far back as the 17th century, magazine publishers were developing different publications to suit their different audiences. Ladies Home Journal served a very different audience than the American Law Journal or National Geographic.

Of course, times have changed and digital technology has caused some magazines to fall on hard times or disappear completely. Sadly, Ladies Home Journal was shuttered in 2014 after a 131 year run.

But the example of customizing messages for a specific audience has never gone out of style.

It’s very much the same with social media platforms today. The folks who choose to engage with you on LinkedIn are likely very different people from those following you on Instagram, who are also different from those engaging with you on Facebook.

Yet brands don’t seem to get it.

By picking up a story (video, infographic, etc.) they create for one channel and plopping it down on another, brands continue to show their audiences that they just don’t see them as different or special. As the consumer might be muttering to herself as she sees the same generic messages pushed out across different channels, “They just don’t get me.”

“But,” the brands argue, “we can’t keep up! How can we create messages for the dozens of social media channels our customers are on today…we just don’t have the resources?”

I think I see the problem.

Let’s go back to the publisher model. If Meredith Corporation, publisher of Ladies Home Journal, didn’t have the revenue or subscription level to support a given title, they would have to shut it down, as they did in 2014. Actually, this happened a lot during the economic downturn of 2008-2009 as digital technology and ad revenues passed quietly in the night.

The good news for brands is that no one has to lose their job if a brand chooses to not participate in every single social channel available. The social team can simply dedicate more time (perhaps the time that’s been necessary all along) to create content that helps the audience feel a special connection with the brand.

And that’s exactly what needs to happen.

So, while the ‘act like a publisher’ mantra has many lessons for brands who are the publishers of today — including thinking about their audience rather than their product — it also provides a valuable lesson about focus.

We all know intrinsically that trying to be all things to all people is a recipe for disaster in marketing.

Can we please take that lesson to heart when it comes to social media, as well?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Content Marketing Review (TCMR): Share a Coke

Coca Cola

Ogilvy Australia (agency)

Share a Coke

CM Score (out of 100): 90 (quite successful)
Scale: 0-50 (unsuccessful); 51-70 (moderately successful); 71-90 (quite successful); 91-100 (superior).

If you can believe it, back in 2011 the world’s most iconic soda brand was having an awareness problem in Australia. According to the company, fully 50% of teens and young adults hadn’t even tasted a Coke in the month before this effort launched.

In what was truly a bold move at the time, they decided to remove their most valuable asset — the ‘Coke’ name — from the flagship product and replace it with 150 of the most popular names of people in Australia.

They also created kiosks where people could add their own name, just in case Coke had missed someone, and Aussies waited in line for hours just for the privilege. I would imagine they also bought that can of Coke, don’t you think?

Why it works
This idea, which has since been duplicated around the world by other branches of the Coca-Cola family tree (you know what they say about imitation), was big and bold, but it was also simple.

It broke through and connected individually with people and made them feel special by leveraging the power of the Coca-Cola brand. It’s a classic example of showing rather than telling…and Coke was telling Australians: “We want to get to know you personally.”

In just three months, young adult consumption of Coke was up seven percent. It was working.

Why it works as content marketing
This was a big idea that had to be executed on a grand scale in order to be successful. But where there’s risk, there’s reward; and this was clearly more than just advertising. It was an idea that leveraged the power of the brand to make people feel good…something more brands should strive for.

It’s the kind of big thinking that can only be executed with content marketing. Running ads showing cans of Coke with people’s names on them wouldn’t have worked…it would have come off as egotistical. This clearly did not.

What can we learn?
There are many things we can learn here. One of the biggest is that localization is invaluable in strategy and concept development. While the idea has been imported across the globe since, it was designed to solve a specific problem the brand was having in Australia by allowing people to become the hero of the story…that’s why it worked.

Coke also did a nice job of extending the effort seemingly everywhere, creating interactive applications with electronic billboards, digital apps and websites that replicated the excitement online. They also kept the public involved by inviting them to vote for an additional 50 names that would be added, helping to keep the momentum going.

Perhaps the best part of this idea is that it can inspire smaller brands, who may not have millions to spend, to think big even if they can’t spend big.

What’s your brand’s most valuable asset? How can you share it with people to make them feel special? How can you make your audience the hero of the story?

Think big and, like Coke, you will be rewarded.