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Buffett - reputation“Your reputation precedes you” is a phrase that is usually followed by opportunities, investments, and partnerships.

That is because your reputation is the only thing you have when it comes to success. People will work with you, buy from you, and invest in you based on your reputation. And reputation is shaped by your character and your actions. Everything you do or say in life, regardless of your occupation or goals, directly contributes to people’s perception of you: who you are as a person and as a leader.

“If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of me.” – Dwight L. Moody

Integrity is critical to your career. When times get tough, it’s your actions towards others and your actions in addressing challenges that shape your reputation. And that is driven largely by clear understanding of who you are, your values, your purpose. Are you taking an easy way out? Are you delivering on your promises? Are you assigning blame or owning up to your mistakes? Etc.

People with strong reputation are consistent. They lead by example, they pave the way, and they don’t compromise what’s important. Continue Reading »

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shareable_contentCreating a ‘viral video’ is like setting out to produce ‘an Oscar-winning film’.

You can look back at some of the most-shared videos, trying to fathom some sort of recipe for success, but if you try to replicate those vital ingredients your video will most likely feel flat and formulaic. If a movie producer tries too hard to re-create an award-winning film, putting together a big budget, an epic storyline, some top names, it can still be a flop. What movie-goers want is passion, great acting and a sense that everyone involved loved what they were doing: they want to feel something. Movies that make people feel something win awards. Videos too must speak to a brand’s followers if they are to be shared.

Content is shared because it provokes an emotional response

Two University of Pennsylvania professors analyzed the New York Times’ most-emailed list, and came up with a list of factors that contributed to content going viral. They discovered that posts inspiring feelings of awe, anger or anxiety are shared more often than others. Now, businesses will want to stay away from inducing anger in their audience, but awe clearly works well, if it is appropriate to the brand, and humor is another strong emotion that is safe for brands to play with. For brands, making people gasp in astonishment or laugh out loud are safe and popular goals.

But the material to inspire these emotions has to be original. Once something has been done before, move on: don’t imitate. Think back to your company’s history, your company’s mission, why your loyal customers love you – and draw from that.

Originality is everything: there is no second place

One of the most incredible branded viral videos is still Red Bull’s supersonic freefall starring Felix Baumgartner. One year on, it has been seen 36 million times. It would be possible for another brand to re-create a stunt like this… but my guess is that it would be accused of being derivative – and that it would only be shared by people to show the brand’s failure to come up with anything original themselves. In short, copy-cat videos will make a brand look bad. You can only jump from the edge of space once – and we were all their on the edge of our seats with Felix, hands to our faces, hearts in our throats. You just can’t recreate that feeling.

That said, your brand has so many other ways to connect with audience. It doesn’t have to be something elaborate or expensive like the space jump. Just be human, make it your objective to get to know your customers, and show them that you appreciate them.

Inspire your followers

The Red Bull Stratos jump worked so well because it was a perfect partnership between a brand that stands for adrenaline and boundary-pushing, and a dare-devil stuntman. For Samsung, a marketing video to promote LED televisions needed to mirror the brand’s ethos of quirky, innovative technology to capture their followers’ imaginations. The result – ‘Extreme Sheep LED Art’ was both relevant to the brand and to the product they were trying to promote. It was surprising (who would have thought of making art by herding flocks of sheep?), original, and it reflected the brand’s personality and the product they were trying to draw attention to.

Tip: Use ideas that are relevant to your brand and you will strike a chord with your followers.

Build a community: ‘viral’ is a team sport

‘Viral’ is rarely an overnight phenomenon, especially when brands are creating something that is part of their wider marketing strategy. Growing your communities takes time and dedication – but this hard work behind the scenes can be vital to a video’s success. Too many marketers want to run out there and ‘create a viral video’, without realizing the effort that goes into building a loyal following first.

Old Spice has half a million subscribers on YouTube, 2.6 million followers on Facebook and two hundred thousand followers on Twitter. Building an audience this size takes a long-term strategy of great content, original visuals and true engagement with fans. It also takes a content strategy that reflects the brand’s core philosophy, so when Old Spice releases a video like the hilarious ‘The man your man could smell like’, it resonates with fans – and they want to share it more widely.

Tip: Lay the foundations first. Your community and loyal fans will share videos – success isn’t a solo pursuit; it takes a community of passionate people to get the word out.

Re-think your goals

‘Viral’ shouldn’t be your goal. Building your brand’s reputation through engagement and great content is a goal that can lead to a piece of content going viral, but more importantly it will give you a loyal, dedicated follower base. A video should reflect your core philosophy as a brand; it should resonate with your audience and be a part of a wider strategy to build trust and commitment over time. Having a viral hit is great, but you have to ask yourself: “What will translate into sales over the longer period of time, a one-off gimmick or long-term brand advocacy?”

Leave ‘viral’ gimmicks for the cute baby pandas, kittens and singing toddlers, and concentrate on a content strategy that is in it for the long haul.

 

Originally published in Inc.

 

 

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Ekaterina Walter quoteIt’s that simple. And that complicated.

Unfortunately, most entrepreneurs think that possessing a great vision or idea is enough. The reality, as most of them find out, bites.

In my conversations with an investor who was burnt several times in the past by investing in businesses that didn’t take off the ground, I kept hearing him say: “Having the idea is only a start, the hard part is executing on it to make it a success.”

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration over 50% of small businesses fail in the first five years. Why? What goes wrong?

The truth is: there are plenty of brilliant ideas out there, but there are very few leaders who can build a successful business. Having an idea only takes you the first several steps towards the long journey of turning that idea into reality, the rest of it is miles and miles of skills required to run day-to-day operations, to hire and – most importantly – retain the right talent, ability to network and find the right partners, ability to procure additional funding, the list goes on and on. Continue Reading »

Tweetables from the Article

  • Having the idea is only a start, the hard part is executing on it to make it a success.  Buffer
  • You cannot execute on your vision alone. Success is a team sport.  Buffer

It can be hard for marketers to step back from their focus on pushing marketing messages for a moment and think about delivering true utility to their customers. But with an increasingly cluttered online world the brands that are coming out ahead are the ones who are delivering what customers need, rather than what their marketing teams want to say.

There has been an explosion of branded apps in recent years as we move to on-the-go devices like smart phones and tablets, so companies have been trying to bridge that gap between the customer and their products wherever, whenever, 24/7 – and the result has been a plethora of apps designed to sell, sell, sell. A staggering number of apps are downloaded once and are never used again, but some of the best apps are the ones that provide something that the customer actually wants and needs. Useful apps, or utilitarian apps, are the way forward for the brand looking to the future.

Here are 5 of the best apps that go beyond the hard sell and deliver utility to their customers.

1. Walgreens’ prescription services

The US pharmacy chain has developed an app with a range of useful features. Customers can refill their prescription by scanning the Rx label and pick it up from their preferred location, as well as transferring their prescription from another pharmacy with a simple scan. They have a pill reminder so you don’t forget to take your medication, and when you go into the store in person, you can bring up the in-store map to help you navigate. For a customer, having a store that feels like it is on their side is surely going to inspire loyalty.

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Continue Reading »

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Real time marketing (RTM) is hugely effective when done well… but can be embarrassing and ridiculous when done badly. The beauty of online marketing is that you can quickly reach large number of people with your message, but that’s a double-edged sword when it comes to RTM blunders going viral for all the wrong reasons. Let’s look at some of the best and worst examples of real time marketing and see what lessons can be learned.

1. Stay relevant

The best RTM campaign and responses stay relevant to their marketing strategy, to their audience, and to their products. In July, there were plenty of desperate attempts to cash in on the Royal Baby fever sweeping the globe, but this image from bakers Warburton’s stood out as one of the best to capture the mood – and yet stay relevant to the company’s products and sense of Britishness.

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Some brands looked like they were trying just a bit too hard to find opportunities to promote their products. Audi’s attempt to make the Emmys ‘House of Cards’ feature fit with their marketing, for example, comes across as awkward.

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Lesson: The best idea is to only use events that resonate for you as a brand – if it doesn’t tie into your marketing strategy or fit neatly in with your products, then leave it be.   Continue Reading »

Tweetables from the Article

  • Real time marketing is hugely effective when done well, but can be embarrassing when done badly  Buffer
  • The best RTM campaigns stay relevant to their marketing strategy, their audience, and their brand  Buffer
  • When tying your product to a current event, make sure it's appropriate and strikes the right tone  Buffer

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