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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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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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churchillMost successful people, when asked what makes them different, will cite something such as “tenacity,” “perseverance,” or just “sheer hard work.” These qualities are all important, but not every success story is based on perseverance alone. There’s also the art of the failure.

Some of the most common household products were created by people who could see past potential disasters. These people had drive and ambition, but they also had the knack of turning failure into success.

Here are four examples of disasters-turned-breakthroughs:

1. Kellogg’s Corn Flakes

It’s hard to imagine a more ubiquitous product now, but did you know that this cereal was the byproduct of a failed attempt to make bland hospital food? Dr. John Harvey Kellogg and his younger brother, Will Keith Kellogg, wanted to produce cooked wheat for their sanitarium patients, who had been prescribed a strict, vegetarian diet. Left unattended, the wheat went stale, so the brothers tried to salvage it by pressing it through rollers. When toasted, the resulting crispy flakes proved to be popular with the patients.

In 1906, Will Kellogg started marketing his corn flakes to the public. He soon added other grains, including toasted rice–now known as Rice Krispies. Continue Reading »

Tweetables from the Article

  • There is art to failure.  Buffer
  • From corn flakes to Coca-Cola, here are 4 examples of disasters-turned-breakthroughs.  Buffer

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ShipMyPants2

Humor is the greatest ice-breaker. It can bring people together, cross cultural divides and help us find our common ground. It can be a hugely powerful tool for marketers that can help us not only reach our audiences, but persuade them to share our message.

The brand videos have all gone viral, and they all use humor in different ways. Some take a very commonplace theme and use humor to make it into something special that people want to share. Some are sheer entertainment, and some cleverly look at a serious message through the humor lens.

Humor connects us, and these videos are a masterclass in how to use humor to give your marketing that extra spice. Continue Reading »

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tumblrTumblr is blogging with a difference. Its format encourages short, snappy, informal posts, which are categorized by photos, text, links, audio, video, quote and chat. It sits somewhere between Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and more traditional blogging with posts that are easily-shared and go viral quickly. Tumblr hosts almost 100 million blogs with 42 billion posts, so it’s well worth getting involved in the community. More and more brands, as well as small businesses, recognize the power of Tumblr in both reach and simplicity of use.

The ten tips below will help you re-think the way you share information. Continue Reading »

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