Google To Revive Real-Time Search, Thanks to Google+ | Mashable, the top source for social and digital news

Yet another reason for marketers to keep a close eye on Google+.   According to a report this morning in Mashable , real time search is returning very soon and it will be enhanced with data from Google+ as well as other social sources. Real time search was, until July, Google’s way of delivering social signals from Twitter, Facebook and other social sites and sharing in search results. When Twitter squeezed off Google’s access to the Twitter torrent, Google dropped real time search.   Google+ is their attempt to make Google a social sharing powerhouse as well because we all know that social is impacting traffic to web sites. Watch for Google+ to introduce a search feature just for Google+ in the very near future.

Five Steps to Building a Better Event or Sponsorship Experience for Your Brand

Fan Experience Young Enthusiastic Crowd

As more consumer marketers shift budgets away from traditional, paid media to newer channels like social, mobile and other digital media opportunities, events and sponsorships, along with other forms of experiential marketing and promotions are getting a digital makeover and as a result, delivering significant brand and sales benefits.

The shift from paid advertising to more promotional forms of marketing is reflective of the greater emphasis marketers are now placing on activating their brands as opposed to building their brands. Although consumers have always been more influenced by what friends and peers say about a product or service than a brand’s marketing messages, until fairly recently, the brand-controlled, traditional mass media advertising and marketing message approach worked. The internet and “always on, always connected” devices have provided a mass media platform for consumer-generated reviews, ratings, comments, likes and dislikes to be distributed to the world. And, this has fundamentally changed how consumers discover, compare, shop and buy a whole range of product and services (for more info on this issue, see “Branding in the Digital Age: You’re Spending All Your Money in the Wrong Places”, McKinsey Quarterly, The Consumer Decision Journey and Google’s report: The Zero Moment of Truth).

In order to succeed, it become critical for brands to be a part of the conversation. To do this, you have to engineer experiences which inform,  entertain and delight. You have to create social conversational capital. Traditional advertising and marketing approaches, coming from the brand, lack both the credibility and appeal to do so. Other than Super Bowl or industry networking events or trade publications, when was the last time you actually heard consumers discussing how great an ad was and why?

Because experiential marketing activities such as promotions, events, sponsorships and in-store activities are more active and interactive in nature, they lend themselves particularly well to being objects of social conversational capital when properly enhanced with social media and other digital tools, content and connections .

It requires brand marketers aiming beyond typical objectives such as reach and loyalty, going deeper in exploring ways to create value for consumers to drive specific behavior and perceptual changes. When properly designed and orchestrated, experiential marketing efforts that blend offline and online engagement offer the prospect of creating deeper layers of consumer relationships, content and conversations. This results in improved metrics like reductions in marketing expense, enhanced brand perception, willingness to recommend and other key brand health indicators…and ultimately better sales results.

To borrow from a concept familiar to war planning; integrating online to your offline promotional and event activities is like adding air support to your ground troops efforts. With this in mind, we’d like to share some ideas and examples to help you get better results by amplifying your offline marketing engagements online.

Five Steps to Better Event, Sponsorship and Promotion Integration with Social Media, Mobile and other Digital ChannelsVision Looking Ahead

1. Start at the End. Sadly, a lot of marketers aren’t thinking through what exactly they want to accomplish with the experiential or promotional activities. We’re finding that to be the case in a bench marking survey we’re currently conducting with the Promotion Marketing Association (PMA). If you haven’t taken it yet, we invite you to participate here.

Our findings to date are consistent with other surveys we’ve seen. Why is this? It may be because most marketers spend the biggest portion of their event marketing budgets on trade shows, which leads us to believe they are  seen as more of a tactical than a brand-building effort in spite of what they say. In our survey, 52% of brand marketers view experiential as a brand building activity. Yet, when asked how they measured it, they applied metrics that were more tactical in nature. Whatever your objectives, be clear about them and prioritize them.

2. Plan using the C’s of Conversational Capital…One of Which is NOT Campaign. Most consumer brand marketers still cling to the vestiges of the campaign-like planning when it comes to their events, sponsorships and promotions. “We create. We place. We execute. We are done.” Ah, not really.

Marketing in the social age is more of an iterative process. And, it’s all about the Content, Community and Connections that foster conversations. This has little to do with ad units or PR messages because if you don’t have something to talk about, no one will. Brainstorm all the forms of content that could be interesting to your audience.

What communities are they participating in? Don’t just look at the obvious ones like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or YouTube. There might be very interesting opportunities to activate grass roots communities via Meet Up or other forms of vertical interest social communities. Meet Up has 7 million members in the U.S. that participate in a variety of groups based on shared interests…everything imaginable. How might you leverage opportunities like this?

Using Connections also means keeping abreast of all the new tools and technologies that can connect you to your audience. This is a full-time job and not for the faint of heart. Getting the help of a professional who focuses on these areas can help you out.

3. Think Through the Before, During and After of your Experience. Using the Three C’s of Social Capital above, orient them into “before”, “during” and “after” buckets. What takes place before your event? How do you build buzz in advance? What can you do during the event to not only provide deeper levels of engagement at the experience but also have that engagement amplify into online content and connections, reaching individuals who can’t attend in person? How are you going to follow up with all the leads you generate with the activity? How do they get integrated into your CRM system? What happens after your event to carry to core aspects of the experience through to their next, logical place?

Hot Air Balloons Rising Freedom

4. Think Multi-Channel and That Means Mobile! Rarely does a consumer use one source or one device to gather their information now but if they do, it’s going to be a smart phone.

We are multi-media multi-taskers. This can be a bit daunting for those of us planning marketing programs. There are so many choices. And new ones come about every week. Google+ was announced at the first of July and it already has over 20 million users sharing over 1 billion pieces of content a day. Should it figure into your experiential promotion strategy? Yep.

Iphone Front Facing Home Screen Black Cover We briefly touched on Connections in our second step (Three C’s of Social Conversational Capital). But, addition emphasis should be given to this one issue…over half of all internet access in the U.S. is right now occurring on mobile devices. Shouldn’t mobile be carefully considered as a component of your event strategy? In a recent survey by Chief Marketer, only 18.4% of marketers have studied their consumers mobile habits directly and have a clear picture of their mobile engagement. We can tell you this-it’s more than you think.

By way of recent example, OceanSpray is currently conducting a promotion that combines live events, QR codes on brand ambassador shirts and a whole layer of content and consumer engagement.

If you’d like more info on mobile techniques, check out this Hubspot article for a helpful glossary of mobile marketing concepts and terms.

Engage Audience Kid Face5. Involve your audience. Part of the problem the marketing industry is scrambling to correct is that it remained a spectator sport when the world became participatory.  When everyone can and does create content of one form or another you have several choices as a marketers:

  • You can ignore it or deny that it’s happening
  • You can be afraid of it and run from it
  • You can try to use the new channels based on the old approach
  • You can embrace it and harness it to your betterment

It’s surprising how many brands opt for one of the first three options. All of these are wrong-headed at best and dangerous to your brand at worst.

Our obvious recommendation is to embrace your audience and invite them to become a vital part of your marketing mix. But, involving your audience is not without it’s pitfalls. You may not always like what they have to say out in the open. Yet, if you’re patient and don”t view it as an existential threat, listening and reacting positively to even negative content can be a good thing.

When the audience embraces your idea as their own, that’s when things take off and become more than you could have ever hoped for. Just ask the Old Spice brand manager what the viral video sensation Old Spice Guy has done for their brand.

What approaches do you have for amplifying your experiential and event marketing and promotions online?

10 Things CMOs Need To Know About Google+

Google+ icon

Chris Brogan writes a pithy piece on the 10 Things CMOs Need To Know About Google+ for Forbes. After using Google+ for a couple weeks, we think it will be game changing.

As Brogan and others point out, AOL seemed pretty cool at the time it first arrived. But it just got the email ball rolling. In the same way, Facebook will seem rather dated by the time everyone starts using Google+.

Already, the “by-invitation-only” service, which is still in beta and requires a Google account, has over 10 million users and over a billion pieces of content are shared with it every day. The open and flexible nature of the tool will lead to fast adoption and pervasive use, we think. And, the mobile interface is also very easy to use.

Google+ just may be the one ring to rule all the other social networks. Are you using Google+ yet? There’s often a first mover advantage in digital. Time to check it out.

Winning the Zero Moment of Truth

Cover of Google's Zero Moment of Truth report by Jim Lecinski

Jim Lecinski, managing director of U.S. Sales and Service for Google and all around good guy, has kindly given us permission to distribute his phenomenal report entitled Winning at the Zero Moment of Truth. The 73-page e-book documents the startling changes in consumer buying behavior brought about by the internet and activities/tools such as search/search engines, social channels and networks, user reviews, other consumer generated content and “always on” smart phones.

In reality, the “internet of things” arrived a bit earlier than anticipated. It came in the form of the Internet of US and emerged due to our iPhones, iPads, Androids and other smart, mobile devices, perpetually connected to the internet, broadcasting our likes and dislikes…our sharing, creating, commenting, reviewing and recommending. The hard cold truth for most brands is not that the technology is ahead of their marketing efforts…their customers are ahead of their marketing efforts!

Marketing model for the first moment of truth

Legacy Marketing Model: First Moment of Truth

In order to understand the Zero Moment, you have to understand the First Moment of Truth. This concept was made popular by Procter & Gamble and referred to the first place a brand had to win…when the consumer, stimulated by some kind of marketing communication or advertising like a TV spot, a coupon or a magazine ad stood in front of the product at the retail shelf and weighed the decision to put the brand in their shopping cart. The marketing model was simple: run creative advertising to get the consumer to be aware, to have interest, to go to a retail location and buy your product. A tremendous amount of time, money and effort has gone into perfecting this system.

graphic depiction of the zero moment of truth concept

What’s changed is there is now a huge critical moment between stimulus and shelf in every product or service category. Consumers still watch your TV spots or see you magazine ad. But then they grab their laptop or smart phone and search for reviews to see what others are saying about your product. They go to Twitter or Facebook and ask their friends if anyone has used the product and what they think. They may go to YouTube and look for a vedeo of someone using the product. And, before they’ve even been able to go to the store, they’ve made up their mind.

The Zero Moment of Truth describes the dominant role these connections, community and content are now playing in how we research, learn, search and ultimately find and buy products and services. It’s not just about business-to-consumer brands or considered goods. The behavior is remarkably consistent for business-to-business marketers and it’s just a relevant for makers of $40,000 automobiles as it is for manufacturers of $3.50 bottles of toothpaste.

Jim sites several examples of zeros moments of truth in his report:

  • A busy mom in a minivan is looking up decongestants on her mobile phone as she waits to pick up her son from school.
  • An office manager at her desk, comparing laser printer prices and toner cartridge costs to determine which office supply store has the best price
  • A student in a cafe, scanning user ratings and reviews while looking up a cheap hotel in Barcelona.
  • A winter sports fan in a ski store, pulling out a mobile phone to watch video reviews of the latest snowboards
  • A young woman in a condo, searching the web for juicy details about a guy with whom she’s been set up on a blind date

We’ve been tracking these behavioral changes for a while ourselves. That’s why we started to incorporate digital content and social connectivity components in our promotions, events, experiences, sponsorship activations and shopper programs. The idea is to take what happens in the real world, reaching thousands of people, and amplify it with the conversations, content, connections and community so that the offline activities ripple online to impact and reach millions.

Kim Kadlec, worldwide vice president of Global Marketing at Johnson & Johnson puts it this way in the report:

We’re entering an era of reciprocity. We now have to engage people in a way that’s useful or helpful to their lives. The consumers is looking to satisfy their needs, and we have to be there to help them with that. To put it another say: How can we exchange value instead of just sending a message?

That’s the question every marketer should be exploring and using to examine every piece of traditional advertising and marketing. Is it delivering value? Is it helping to answer the consumers need for information? Is is designed to engage and amplify across our now reality, filled with zero moments of truth? Something to think about.

How Tasti D-Lite Has Raised the Bar for Social Media Success

Frozen dessert shop Tasti D-Lite has been heating up the social space over the past few years, introducing a series of innovative digital programs and campaigns. Read more

The Future of Foursquare: Understanding Location-Based Marketing

Location-based marketing can be a valuable customer acquisition and retention tool for brick-and-mortar businesses.

Street Marketing 2.0

While buzz is still a primary objective for brands, street efforts must now also convert consumers into customers. Check out what Street 2.0 looks like, how it’s being deployed—and what you need to know.

Top 5 Emerging Brand Trends on Facebook

This was an excellent and comprehensive Mashable overview of the five major trends brands are using to connect, transact and serve customers on Facebook. There’s some very impressive innovation going on in the space, lead by some very big brands like Ford and Nike. What have you seen brands doing on Facebook that impresses you?

59% of Adults in US Go Online via Mobile Devices

Pew Research has just released a research report on mobile phone use and an astonishing 59% of Americans are using the mobile internet. This is a 51% increase from those who said they did this at a similar point in 2009.

When you start looking at the multicultural landscape, there’s even more use of the mobile internet…64% of African-Americans and 63% of Latinos are wireless internet users.

Every activity you can do with your smart phones and laptops grew year over year as well.

Apple iOS 4 review

In case you’re just dying to know what all the new iPhoney goodness is all about, CNET has this helpful rundown of all the shiny new features in Apple’s iOS 4 being released this week.

Some of the features I’ve seen demoed are stunning. Apple keeps upping the game, that’s for sure. But, I’m getting tired of feeling compelled to fork over $300 every July for the newest phone. Is there such as thing as Apple Status Quo-a-phobia?

Apple iOS 4 review | iPhone Atlas – CNET Reviews.