Get Real, Brands: Why Real Is Usually Right

Whether you’re a racing fan or not, you have to love Jeff Gordon and his sponsor, Pepsi MAX, right now.

Last year, the duo produced an awesome ‘test drive‘ video, where a disguised Jeff Gordon took an unsuspecting used car salesman on the ride of his life. Only, it was fake. A stunt driver, paid actors and a car that didn’t exist (an ’09 Camaro). Some of the thrill wore off after the truth came out. And the truth will come out in today’s ultra-connected, 24/7 world.

So this time, they got it right. They wanted to show the reporter, who broke the story of the initial video being fake, that they could, in fact, pull off a real stunt of EPIC proportions. And they did. Jalopnik‘s Travis Okulski went for the ride of his life. All real this time, and the Internet’s buzzing about it.

No, you can’t believe everything you see on the Internet. But when a brand gets real, it usually gets it right.

What did you think of the video?

“Test Drive 2” video courtesy of Pepsi YouTube Channel
Tweet from Travis Okulski’s Twitter feed

Cheers,
Jaime

All real, all the time. Let’s connect:
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Best Advice: Figure It Out

LinkedIn’s latest question posed to its Influencers made me think. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? As usual, there’s some great posts worth reading, from Richard Branson’s Protect the Downside to Barry Salzberg’s Lock Your Kryptonite in a Lead Box. You can browse them all here.

LinkedIn Influencer or not, here’s my advice: figure it out. From the time I was young, I had a natural curiosity about me. I loved to understand how things work (and still do), how people accomplish things and how people come up with ideas. I didn’t just want the answer or the solution; I needed to understand how it was achieved. Maybe that innate curiosity coupled with the time and place I grew up instilled a love of figuring things out. As I’ve gone through life, I’ve discovered that this is not a common skill.

sun breaking through the trees

That ‘aha moment’ when you figure something out is an amazing feeling.

Sure, it would be great to live in a world where everything was perfectly spelled out (or upon further thought, probably not), where everything came with a set of easy-to-follow instructions that could be completed in no time at all. But life and business is rarely like that. Whether you’re an accomplished professional or fresh-out-of-college grad, there’s benefits to figuring things out, such as: 

  • You’re seen as proactive. Figuring things out generally leads to viewing situations proactively. What information might be valuable in the meeting tomorrow? What example can I cite on my conference call this afternoon? What other products or solutions may my client be interested in? Yes, it’s a little extra work, but being prepared will make you shine.
  • Your work ethic becomes famous. Hard workers are valued the world over, but especially in America. From the time our ancestors arrived, Americans have pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and made a life for themselves. A strong work ethic will still take you places.
  • People value you. When you make the extra effort to figure things out, you usually end up with information — which is valuable. You’ll soon become known as the go-to person when someone has a question or is stuck. Colleagues, business partners, bosses and clients will appreciate your usefulness and recommend you for future opportunities. Word-of-mouth is a powerful thing.
  • The company values you more. $$$ We need people of all levels and abilities, but critical thinkers and problem solvers are generally viewed as more valuable, therefore drawing more compensation. Be a person who figures things out and see your value rise.

So who passed on this valuable advice to me? Quite a few people actually, through words and deeds. My parents are big believers in kids figuring things out for themselves (unless death or destruction is imminent), so they got me started in the right direction. I was fortunate to work closely with two amazing people in my first job out of college, who baptized me in the Corporate America environment. They were always willing to answer questions or explain things, but they never sat behind me and gave me step-by-step instructions. For that, I’m grateful. Finally, I worked for (and survived a crazy culture with) a lady for 6 action-packed years, who I learned so much from. But she too gave me space to figure things out and run with them, which I will always be thankful for. 

Curiosity will not cause us to die — only lack of it will. Never to want to see the other side of the hill or that improbable country where living is an idyll (although a probable hell) would kill us all. Only the curious have, if they live, a tale worth telling at all.  -Curiosity, by Alastair Reid

I’ve tried to pass this same advice onto my employees, colleagues and even clients. Trust yourself: you do know how to do this. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have or show you how to do something. But there’s something about figuring things out for yourself, too. That sense of accomplishment is an amazing feeling.

(p.s. I’m NOT saying to never ask questions or request help. We all need help sometimes, whether it’s collaborating on a specific project or because our job or business becomes too overwhelming. There’s a lot of value in outsourcing tasks that fall outside of our sweet spot, so that we can focus on what we do best.) 

Speak Up

Do you prefer step-by-step instructions over figuring things out?

Is there a situation where figuring things out is actually detrimental?

Is your preference for figuring things out or being given specific, detailed instructions a generational thing?

Let’s discuss.

Still figuring out life,
Jaime

I’ve figured this out. Let’s get social!
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Walking on the Wild Side to a Devoted Blog Following

In our last post, we talked about attracting an audience when you first begin your blog, and a little about Field of Dreams. (Hey, it was a great movie.) Thanks to all who contributed to the discussion. Now that people are coming through the turnstiles, how do you keep them at the park?


Google Calendar’s a lifesaver, but I couldn’t live without my Harley-Davidson wall calendar.

Publish Consistently

Of course, quality content is important, but so is publishing consistency (even more so than frequency, in my humble opinion). Choose a frequency that you can handle (realistically, not in your dream world), and stick to it. When I first started this blog, that was my biggest issue. I’d publish a post here and there, which didn’t help with drawing visitors. Once I committed to a schedule, business definitely started to pick up. Last year, I decided to up my frequency to twice a week, publishing on Tuesdays and Thursdays (after initially experimenting with Tuesdays and Fridays). It’s a commitment, but I’ve managed to stick with the schedule pretty well with a little planning and guest bloggers.

A Note on Guest Blogging

Note that I only began inviting guest bloggers once the CCC blog had reached a decent readership. Second, guest blogging has come under fire recently because some marketers and social media folks (OK, a lot of them) have abused it as an SEO tactic. Google has been criticized by some circles for warning against this practice, but you shouldn’t be guest blogging or accepting guest bloggers purely for SEO purposes. Will the proposed content interest and benefit your audience? If not, then pass. The same is true if you’re looking to write for other blogs. Only propose content that fits their audiences and don’t stuff it with unnecessary links back to your work.

Yours Truly, in leopard print

Yours Truly, in leopard print. Hey, I’m not really a buttoned-up kind of gal.

Walk on the Wild Side

It’s OK to walk a little on the wild side sometimes or have a wide path to begin with. It may take a little time to figure out exactly what topic(s) you want to discuss. This blog is a little different because it covers a myriad of subjects, but they’re all related to four main topics: marketing, writing, social media and personal reflection. It just so happens that Elvis, MacGyver, The American President and leg lamp cookies all relate to these topics while giving the blog a breath of fresh air. I have a plethora of passions and like to try new things, so it’s only appropriate that my blog is wide-ranging as well. Have fun, and don’t be afraid to take a stand on an issue or two. (Just don’t hate; that’s never helpful.)

Open Mic Night 

Involve your readers; don’t lecture at them. People like to share their opinions and experiences, which will add another dimension to your blog. Always ask for comments, and feel free to throw some specific questions out there. It’s always fun to hear others’ points of view. We’re fortunate to have people around the world reading this blog, and I love hearing from them. (Full disclosure: I’m a sucker for British accents, so I always read comments from Great Britain out loud complete with accent.) Sometimes a post can take on a whole new meaning because of a question posed or insight provided by a reader.

Don’t worry if your blog’s comment box isn’t blowing up either. You may have loyal readers who love your posts who would never venture past the like button, if that. Some people prefer to remain silent while others don’t want to take the time to leave insightful comments or just don’t have anything else to add. Regardless, if your follower count keeps creeping higher, then people are listening.

That’s the leopard print lady’s take on filling the grandstands with devoted readers. What do you think?

What other suggestions do you have?

Is anyone else in love with animal print? 🙂

As a reminder, we covered how to get folks to visit your blog in our last post. We’d still love to hear your thoughts on that subject as well.

Still walking on the wild side,
Jaime

Constant Readers, let’s get social…
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Who has more rights — you or me?

We’re blessed with an abundance of rights in this country. We have a right to free speech, the right to practice any religion of our choosing, the right to voice our dissent and peacefully protest. We vote our leaders into office, participate in local government and sit on school boards.

United States Constitution

“We the People of the United States of America…”

So what do we do when our rights collide? Think about it. There’s approximately 314 million people in this country. That’s 314 million people from all over the world with vastly different opinions and preferences, tastes and traditions. The religion your family has devoutly practiced for generations is referred to as witchcraft by others. The clothes that you choose to wear are frowned upon by more conservative types. Your thoughts and beliefs are 180° from people you work with every day.

Who has more rights: you or me? You’re signing petitions to get my favorite show removed from the air. Do your rights go beyond not watching it? Do you have the right to have it removed from the air? Don’t I have the right to watch it? The music you buy offends some people. They work to have it pulled from the shelves. Your free speech is vehemently opposed by others, so they sue to have your rights rescinded. Who has more rights: the speakers or those who don’t want to listen?

“America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You’ve gotta want it bad, cause it’s gonna put up a fight.”


When I was in college, a 17-year-old went to a store in our city and bought music his dad didn’t approve of. Instead of being angry at his son, the father was incensed that music with explicit lyrics was for sale — anywhere. He started a petition, rallied friends & families and insisted that his 17-year-old son should not be tempted by this evil music. The store, an international chain, responded by pulling all explicit lyric music from its shelves. A journalist from our school paper wrote an article explaining how quickly we wouldn’t have any music left in the world following this trend. Trust me, no matter how much you love something, someone somewhere hates it.

Let your voice be heard on this important subject.

Who’s rights prevail when our rights collide?

How far do our rights go — to change the channel or have a show removed from the air?

International friends, how is this dilemma handled in your country?

I’m looking forward to your thoughts!

“Constitution of the United States and Feather Quill” by Rosie O’Beirne // CC BY 2.0 
“American President Speech” via António Costa Amaral

Cheers,
Jaime

Exercise your right to connect!
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You Don’t Know Jack About Brandjacking

In the mid-nineties, there was a trivia game called You Don’t Know Jack. As a trivia buff, I loved the game and even had it on CD-ROM (remember those?). OK, I also loved telling people, “You don’t know jack” when they answered incorrectly. Which brings me too…

You Don't Know Jack logo

Brandjacking. What is it? When someone hijacks your brand, either personal or business, in order to steal your thunder (and publicity) or to hurt your brand’s reputation. It usually happens online, especially on social media. The term is widely credited to Business Week, which used it in a 2007 article.

So what’s the problem? First of all, it’s desperate. You’re either trying to grab some cheap publicity from another brand’s (hard work &) success or trying to cause damage to someone else’s brand. Either way, you look bad.

Second, come up with your own brand. Put in the work to build your brand, formulate a strategy and put it into action. Don’t try to jump on someone else’s coattails to success without putting in the work.

Maybe I’ve just spent too much time working on companies’ brands and understand how much time, effort and money go into the branding process. As all of you fellow marketers and business owners know, it’s a lot of hard work. For someone else to benefit from that (outside of donated publicity for a non-profit or cause) is incredibly frustrating and annoying.

Clearly Conveyed Communications logo

As a small business owner, my brands (personal and business) are my everything. I’m all in, as they say at the poker table. I’ve put every last chip I have into making Clearly Conveyed Communications work. For someone to come along and hurt my brand(s) would be a horrible blow.

As Tony Zayas so elegantly puts it on the Proforma blog, trust is the new business currency. If clients and prospects don’t trust you, they won’t work with you.

So if you think brandjacking is cool (or a viable marketing tactic), then you don’t know jack about branding.

The mic is yours…

Do you agree? Or is brandjacking a viable guerrilla marketing tactic?

Are there any brandjacking examples that you feel have been a success?

Would you brandjack?

You may also like: The Art of Branding | The Olympics: A Global Brand (Kind Of)
Rage Against the Political Machine: 5 Takeaways for Your Marketing Efforts

Photo credit: You Don’t Know Jack

Your trivia (& branding) buff,
Jaime

Connect with CCC & me…
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Global Expansion: Thinking Outside Your Borders

Clearly Conveyed Communications is excited to welcome Sloan McKinney as the latest contributor to the CCC blog. You can learn more about the author at the end of this post.  

Small businesses make the mistake too often in assuming that just because they’re small, international expansion will never be an option. It’s this kind of mindset that causes the troubles a lot of business owners have that prevent their company from growing. The fact of the matter is that reaching an international audience is much simpler than it was years ago — and we can all thank the Internet for that.

What many companies don’t realize is that the Internet isn’t obsolete; there’s really no conceivable way it can become obsolete. While small business owners lament slow sales or the difficulties of expanding their market to their friends on Facebook, they don’t realize that they have the technology to grow as a company. In fact…they’re using it.

Think outside of the box

Expansion Concerns

The idea of expanding a business to reach a larger base is inherently desirable. But the want to make it work often outpaces the logical questions that need to be answered before going forward:

  •  Is there a demand for the product or service overseas?
  • Does your company have the staff to handle the incoming demand for your company’s services?
  • Does your company have the means to handle transitioning into a larger company?
  • And lastly, does your company have the confidence to make the move?

These are all questions that need to be seriously considered before moving forward with anything.

Think Locally, Act Globally

It’s crucial that any business considering expansion first isolates what made them successful in the first place. There’s a reason why your company is doing well: what is it? Tie this in with the question about confidence. There’s a reason why you’re thinking about supplementing your business strategy, and it’s certainly not because you are struggling.

Once you’ve identified what makes expanding to new markets viable for your company, it’s time to consider if it is, in fact, viable to do so. Can your company support the move?

Time to Act

Alright, so you’ve answered all of the questions, and now you know it’s time to take the next step…which is what exactly? Easy: apply all of your answers to the previously stated questions to the new markets. Designate places you believe your business can be successful, and move. Start with niche advertising to get the ball rolling.

For example, if your company sells specialized toolboxes, advertise with a trade publication, and set up a booth at a trade show. It’s much more likely that experienced plumbers will purchase a hyper-specialized toolbox than a group of Boy Scouts.

Setting up a local phone number in the areas you are targeting is a good way to garner local business, because it will establish a local presence. It’s understandable why a consumer would patronize a local, established business over the upstart who just moved in…or isn’t even located in the immediate vicinity. A local phone number can be forwarded to an already established number, making it easier to manage calls, while still reaching a larger audience. It’s easy to implement, inexpensive, and a gesture to the locals in your new audience that you believe you have a product that they would like, and it’s a good one.

Expanding your operation is a justifiably daunting task. But with enough time, research, and patience, it can work for your business.

Sloan McKinney

Today’s guest blogger is Sloan McKinney, who is honored to have had the opportunity to share her knowledge on international communications with CCC‘s audience.  Her writing, which can be found on SmartVirtualPhoneNumber.com, also covers business globalization and technology.

“Think Outside The Box Concept” photo via Shutterstock 

Thanks for the wonderful article, Sloan!

What inspires you?

Inspiration. It’s a beautiful thing but can be hard to come by sometimes. Where do you draw inspiration from?

Need inspiration? Look at nature.

Typically, I hit the ground running. Physical activity, especially in serene natural settings, does wonders for my creativity and mind (not to mention my health). Today, it was a candle-lit bubble bath with a great book. Delving into another world opened up my mind to blog topics and content marketing ideas. Other days, a quick meditation may do the trick.

Related reading: Need an Idea? Just Walk Away

So, what inspires you? Whether it’s an intriguing piece of art, an upbeat Zumba class or a person you hold dear, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Chime in and help inspire us all to greater things.

Humming the Rocky theme song,
Jaime

Feeling inspired? Let’s connect!
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