social media marketing

Marketing: Who’s running your marketing department?

Let me just say it; I’ll be the one: It’s time to rethink how you’re running your marketing department. You know it; and I know it – what you were doing 10 years ago is not working in today’s environment. I mean, come on, what you were doing last year may not even be working.

The truth is, your customer has changed; and the way they consume marketing has simultaneously changed with them. The millennial generation is starting to make purchase decisions that impact your brand. These are consumers that have a mistrust for traditional marketing, rely on word of mouth more than any other generation and, most importantly, are connected to the world every single second of every. single. day.

I should know – I am one.

I wrote a blog post back in 2010 which I believe to be a telling and raw view inside the generation that companies are now marketing to: the millennial or, “the new consumer”. At the time I didn’t realize the insight I had, but four years later as a marketing professional, I find this to be my biggest asset and a big reason for the success of my marketing strategies.

It’s one thing to think like a millennial consumer, but it’s a whole different story to be one and/or innately understand how your company’s new consumer is analyzing your brand. I’ve read blog after blog and sat in meeting after meeting with very intelligent and incredibly experienced marketing executives and brand strategists, but I find there’s always one thing missing: their innate ability to understand how these new customers consume a company’s brand message. I firmly believe this isn’t something that can be learned overnight or, dare I say, learned at all.

Don’t get me wrong – I believe that there is something to be learned from traditional marketing methods as well. To be fair these are tactics that have worked for years and years, but in today’s world these methods need to be paired with tools and in new non-traditional channels that speak to the majority of those who are buying into your brand.

So now’s the time to put someone in charge of these new marketing initiatives – who do you pick? How can you be successful?

Is it done through a social agency? I don’t necessarily think so. I’ve learned that this seems to be a go-to in today’s corporate world, but know from experience that it’s a risky undertaking. A company’s brand is a very powerful thing and it needs to be taken very seriously. Last year Home Depot learned that the hard way. When you hire an agency it becomes a job for them among many other clients and, in my opinion, the customer can tell. The “new consumer” wants genuine conversations not auto generated messages from someone who’s trying to get a job done. They want to feel authenticity, but how can an agency understand your brand or (most importantly) your customer when they’re sitting in an office thousands of miles away trying to understand three completely different brands as a part of their account setup. From my experience, agencies just don’t work unless they make your company their priority and let’s be serious – they will for the right price. This isn’t to say that agencies are a no-go, but make sure you have someone in place to manage and monitor every piece of content they create.

Is it done through a recent college grad? Obviously the answer is yes, right?! These are young, hip 20-somethings that tweet every thought, meal and know the social space… the golden ticket! Again, in my opinion, not necessarily. While you’re getting warmer, this person doesn’t automatically graduate with the understanding it takes to market your brand professionally. Honestly, this is can be the downfall of many social agencies let alone companies. Hell, I am even guilty of this. When I was hired straight out of college I knew how consumers wanted to be marked to, but I needed to learn how to actually be the brand. The right person will have a few years experience, but still needs to be in-tune enough to understand the spaces in which they are the consumer and how to turn that into the brand.

Is it done through a current employee? Let’s save some money – there’s got to be someone in the company that has a little free time. They could set up a Facebook and Twitter page and monitor these comments; they know the brand, right? Be cautious – while these are employees that usually have the tenure and do understand the brand – they normally don’t have the experience in the marketing or social space. This could stall or even, in some cases, hurt the brand equity you already have.

I’m hoping this blog will help companies understand the social space and, in turn, how their brands should adapt to the ever changing marketing climate. With that said, understanding is different from acting so I encourage everyone to take the learnings and apply them. We’re in this together!

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

Marketing: Social & Mobile Marketing: Don’t Get Caught Up in the Hype of the Next Big Thing

I was honored to write a guest blog for GasBuddy’s sister company, OpenStore Loyalty this month. I was the keynote speaker for their conference in Las Vegas & was happy to give a glimpse into was discussed. 


There is no question that marketing as we know it is changing. Every. Single. Day.

We’ve all seen the statistics: 75% of the population brings their phones into the bathroom with them; and 90% of 18-29 year olds have trouble sleeping because – you guessed it – they’re busy texting, online shopping or surfing social sites until the sun comes up.

I’ve seen the results: 4000% product sales increase, 200% return on investment in the first few months and increased store foot traffic and loyalty.

Mobile and social marketing are relevant, but you know that. That’s why you’re here. You’re just not sure that the hype is real; or maybe you’re not sold on the best way to approach social and mobile marketing. That’s ok – you’re not alone.

Over the course of my stint with WilcoHess, Hess Retail and Speedway, I oversaw the conception and managed the development of 3 C-store mobile apps and 3 C-store websites in under 3 years that netted over 250,000 downloads and 5M+ views, over 22% above industry benchmarks. I did so with a customer-centric, multi-channel marketing strategy that was targeted and relevant to the customer. Easy enough, right?!

Broken down, there are five key things to think about when planning your digital marketing strategy:

1. Integrate your traditional methods

Don’t abandon ship! What has worked for you over the last 10 years doesn’t have to be scrapped. I find that this is the biggest misconception amongst my clients. Use what you’ve done in the past, but tailor it to resonate online and digitally. In actuality, when your mobile marketing strategy lives as its own entity – you’re doing a disservice to such a powerful tool. Use hashtags on POS signage to promote the app (then use the hashtag in a contest!). Use your employees to upsell the download! Then, use the app to promote your products. Why use the valuable upsell to promote the app rather than a special? Longevity and loyalty. Think about the end game; would you rather have one upsell opportunity or endless?

2. Target your message and keep it brief.

Getting the customer download is the first step, but retaining them is the hardest. Your messages have to be targeted and not in the “by age and gender” kind of way. It’s the world we live in. Your customers are more attached to experiences and lifestyles than products; and as a result, brands become a byproduct of the lifestyle they’re selling. How does this correlate to a C-store? Customers from state X shouldn’t be treated like customers from state Y. Big football state? Talk about game day and tie in chips and drinks. Bring the rivalry into the conversation, sponsor a tailgate package – get people talking about it while subconsciously talking about your brand, too. Big entertainment state? Talk about the award show. Send a push notification to these customers asking them to tweet who they think will win. “Award” them with a product.

3. Listen to your customers.

They’re always right. No, really. Gone are the days of the 1-800 # and faceless organizations. Your customer craves transparency and dialog. When running my first successful mobile app one of the biggest strategies in my digital business plan was to listen to the customer and react quickly. When receiving a suggestion through the app’s messaging system – I quickly found out the logistics of how to make their request work (more spins on the Spin and Win game, cheaper fountain drinks, etc.) and always responded regardless of the answer. Sometimes YES! Sometimes no. I found that our response rate and willingness to listen was one of our biggest success factors in growing the app. People became brand advocates because we cared.

4. Stay relevant.

Don’t get caught up in the hype of “the next big thing.” Augmented reality may be the newest trend in the digital blogs, but does it mean your customer is going to care? Maybe, but probably not. Customers, to some degree, like consistency, reliability and relevance. They don’t care that you’re trying to impress the industry by being a first-mover, unless it is executed flawlessly and provides them with additional value they couldn’t get elsewhere. By staying relevant to the industry you’re in, it allows you to focus on the factors that matter most to your customers. In a C-store people want to get in and out (if they go in at all!). So, don’t create a strategy that will have them running around the store searching for a clue that will ultimately lead them to a product. Create a strategy that will simply encourage them to come in, the first step to a sale.

5. Stay top of mind.

As a convenience store this isn’t an easy one, or so I thought. Who wants to talk to a “gas station” every day? No one… unless you give them a reason to. Games. When developing our GasBuddy app for WilcoHess we fully integrated the Spin and Win concept. It gave customers a reason to come to our app every day and we weren’t giving anything away to get them there! Our daily allowance of spins kept people coming back, our gameboard kept people talking and our “big win” was landing on our logo. Talk about a subconscious brand plug. Years later, when I speak at industry conferences, it never fails – there’s always someone in the crowd who comes up to me and tells me how much they miss our old app’s Spin and Win or Bubble Pop game.
Take it from someone who knows what it’s like to be on both sides: an award-winning marketer and your company’s target consumer. Social and mobile marketing strategies are necessary, but they’re not one-size-fits-all. The newest fad? It doesn’t mean a thing to your customer. Your approach should be different from your competitors, relevant to your industry and deeply rooted in the premise of customer service.


Let’s talk about your mobile & social marketing strategy! Get Started!