Distance Makes The Heart…You Fill In the Blank

11 Jul

One month ago, I put on my big girl pants, packed up, and moved to Concord, North Carolina where I know absolutely no one. Granted, this will [hopefully] all be worth it, because I am gaining valuable working experience and getting a real taste of the working world. But, (there’s always a but) I have never been on my iPhone so much in my entire life. Why? Communication.


Photo Credit: PhotoPin

According to the Fast Company article by Raeann Fera, Skype Bridges the Gap Between the Virtual and the Real With “Stay Together” Campaign, the campaign was launched by Periera &O’Dell in conjunction with Skype to tell the stories of three (3) divided families. Over 300 videos have been submitted to demonstrate how each person uses Skype to connect with others. The campaign just launched last week and is set to end on July 22nd.

Sounds familiar, right? What makes this campaign different is that working with photographer, John Clang, Periera & O’Dell has created three real- size family portraits by using a Skype projection. Others have submitted their videos for the contest this way too! The Skype screen projected on the wall creates a ‘real-life’ look and feel. It makes all the difference, Skyping in not only real-time, but also real-size. How cool.

On July 22nd, the winner of the contest will be presented with a $10,000 voucher from United Airlines to visit his or her loved ones. That is truly bringing Skype to life.


she was gone, gone

25 May

If you have ever read a single one of my blog posts, thank you. Without your support, I probably would not be writing this one. Hats off to Professor Mac for encouraging Elon students to blog.

This summer, I am transforming my blog. As I begin my journey as an intern at Richard Petty Motorsports, I think I am going to switch gears (NASCAR pun intended) and direct my posts more towards what’s going on in the racing world, and me! 🙂 Here goes nothing.

I think this will be good for me. I am at the brink of uncharted territory right now. Here I am 21 years old, about to take my first big step in the big girl world.  To make this short and sweet, here is a snapshot of what I have learned throughout my third year of college.

  1. Chase would be SO proud of me. I owe it all to you. Building my work ethic at such an early age so I could set the vest best example for my sweet baby brother.
  2. “Customer relationships and added value.” – Professor Randy Moser at Elon University. The backbone and foundation for my marketing education. Thank you, Professor Moser.
  3. Inbound marketing is the new jam; but don’t count outbound marketing out of the equation either.
  4. Taking derivatives in calculus is actually fun, and I am good at math.


Gatsby        5.   Life is moving a whole lot quicker than you think. Don’t get left behind.

Don Draper: Marketing Guru of the ’60s, Fashion Icon of the 21st Century

28 Apr

There are two things on my mind as of recent: the ABAN project and our co-branding objective, and David Meerman Scott’s ideas in his book, The New Rules of Marketing and PR. I stumbled upon a juicy AdAge article about the Banana Republic that has applied both co-branding principles and the new rules of marketing. Crazy when the concepts you learn in class can be identified and applied in real-life, right?! Welcome to college 🙂

Here’s what I found:

Screen Shot taken by Ashley Bunting

Screen Shot taken by Ashley Bunting

Banana Republic and sibling stores Gap Inc. and Old Navy are switching gears from uneven performance to global brand management. Last month, Catherine Sadler was appointed as the Chief Marketing Officer. What’s her number one goal, you might ask?

‘To establish a singular brand voice and more-consistent brand experience around the world.’

Global brand management is a sizable initiative, no doubt about it, but Sadler is determined. She is conscious that her biggest challenge will be connecting with loyalists and first-time customers in the same way.

To add a little more spice into the equation, there has been a shift in Banana’s buyer style. This ‘new look’ is more corporate and less casual. In other words, customers want the sleek professional look. This also means that Banana can also charge higher prices for clothes incorporated in this line of products.

Mad for Mod: The ‘Don Draper’ Look

Accommodating the new shift in the buyer’s style, Banana Republic has fostered a partnership with AMC’s award winning series, Mad Men. For those of you who may not be familiar with the series, let me provide you with a little background information on why the partnership ‘clicks.’

  • Mad Men, based in the 1960s, tells the tale of the corporate and personal affairs of Don Draper. Draper is the Creative Director and a Partner at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce ad agency, otherwise known as famous marketing guru and advocator for mass marketing. During a little bit of my Don Draper investigation, I came across this blog post from REAL MEN REAL STYLE that guides men on how to capture both the classic and casual Don Draper look. According to REAL MEN REAL STYLE, “There’s one icon of the Mad Men style that stands above the rest, and it’s Don Draper.
  • Want to view more of Don’s style? Check out the Complete Don Draper Look Book Here, courtesy of GQ.
Image retrieved from collegefasion.net

Image borrowed from collegefasion.net

In this partnership, Banana Republic has been working with Mad Men’s costume designer, Janie Bryant. Together, they have been busy creating Banana’s third line of the “Mad Men” collection and launched an online content hub called “Mad for Mod.”

Only four years ago, Banana Republic was promoting Mad Men style with manikins in its store windows. The new rules of marketing are in full force. Sadler is implementing a re-focus within marketing. Web content is being re-evaluated and Banana is taking a stab at ‘thinking like a publisher.’ This means that Banana is aiming to produce a more content driven website. Sound familiar? According to David Meerman Scott, content drives action. To me, it looks like Banana is headed in the right direction. No news yet on when the third Mad Men line comes out, but I’m keeping my ears and eyes peeled. Also curious to see how Banana will continue to implement the ‘new rules of marketing’, otherwise they could fall into more than one Don Draper trap and go back to the old ways.

Source: Banana Republic’s CMO Talks New ‘Mad Men’ Collection, Unifying the Brand

Dress Like the Mad Men: the Fashion on Don Draper

The Complete Don Draper Look Book

This blog post is a part of a series for Integrated Marketing Communications at Elon University.

Insta-Menu for the Greater Good

16 Apr

If you are an Instagram user, you and I both know that you have Instragrammed a picture of your food or drinks. The photo you uploaded was probably complemented with hashtags like: #Noms #FoodPorn #Delicious #SoHungry

Wait, why are we taking pictures of our food?…

Hey, I am not trying to single you out. I will be the first one to admit, I have uploaded an “Insta-Menu” picture. If you are not an avid Instragram user and you don’t know what I am talking about, check out my personal example. Yes, I am guilty for Instagramming a picture of Maxi B’s Fresh Strawberry Buttercream cake.

Screenshot on Ashley Bunting's iPhone

Screenshot on Ashley Bunting’s iPhone

According to this FastCompany article, sharing pictures on Instagram can now be for the greater good, thanks to FoodShareFilter. The FoodShareFilter application allows users to take/retrieve photos, edit them, and upload them to Instagram with the #FoodShareFilter hashtag. Every photo that is uploaded to Instagram through this app counts for a monetary donation to Manos Unidas.

Manos Unidas is a Salvadorian charity that works in third world countries to fight hunger and spread hunger awareness in Spanish-speaking populations.

FoodShareFilter application is offered both in English and Spanish. Although this video is in Spanish, I encourage you to still watch it!

Why Use Instagram as the Platform?

DDB Spain is the agency behind the creation of the food filters. Nerea Cierco, the digital creative director at DDB Spain, says that they chose Instagram because they wanted to attract the younger demographic. In thinking about younger online trends, “food porn” was a hot topic. Instagram is also a channel that young people are very comfortable using for photo sharing and communication. You’ve seen it on Facebook and Twitter. ‘Retweet this tweet and Company X will donate $1.00 for every retweet to Charity Y,’ or ‘Share this post and organization X will donate for every time this picture is shared.’

By using FoodShareFilter to upload pictures through Instagram, sharing pictures of your food now has a purpose. By downloading this application for a mere $0.99 and using it as the portal to upload your food pictures, you are making a charitable donation and helping fight hunger.

If we use the FoodShareFilter app, everyone can feel a whole lot less guilty about Instagramming “food porn” and positively contribute to a pressing global issue.

Source: If You’re Going To Instagram Your Food, At Least Help End Hunger In The Process

This blog post is a part of a series of assignments for Integrated Marketing Communications at Elon University.

Out with the Old, and In with the New: Bombarding to Blogging

16 Apr

It was not until I read a little more than half of David Meerman Scott’s book, The New Rules of Marketing and PR, that I fully understood the importance of delivering useful content. The web has totally transformed the ‘rules’ of marketing. Flashy, obnoxious advertising is an interruption and intrusive. The new way is described by providing meaningful content that niche users are actively seeking. This content is valuable and authentic.

“The Internet gives you opportunities you never had before.”

            -David Meerman Scott, pg 17

Reading that quote made me really think about how marketing has changed. How brands now have the opportunity to engage and create dialogue with consumers. Why spend outrageous amounts of mass-media advertising when there is an opportunity to create an online ‘community of passionate fans?’ By the way, the channels to create and engage in these online communities are [usually] free!

Source: PhotoPin

Source: PhotoPin

What are the channels to create this intimacy, you ask? Social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter), blogs, video sharing sites (YouTube), Podcats, and Wikis, just to name a few.

If you ask me, it sounds almost too good to be true. FREE marketing tools are the secret to engaging with consumers, directly interacting with them, and creating brand-loyal, lifetime customers.  Don’t believe me? Believe Brian Halligan, co-founder and CEO of Hubspot, who says that “search engines, blogs, and other Internet trends have fundamentally transformed the way people and business purchase products.”

Scott says that his key marketing tool is his blog. The more I blog, the more I read blogs, the more I believe this to be true. According to a Hubspot slideshare, an estimated 1/3 of US companies use blogs for marketing purposes. This same slideshare tells us that more than 57% of businesses have acquired their customers through company blogs.

With a quick Google search, I discovered some of the best corporate blogs of 2012. The Cleanest Line of Patagonia really caught my eye. Patagonia, a leader in outdoor clothing and gear, has created a blog that allows customers to tell stories about their crazy outdoor adventures around the world with their Patagonia gear. Sharing thrills with other adventure seekers and engaging in dialogue with the Patagonia experts- sounds like a win-win.

Screenshot of The Cleanest Line taken by Ashley Bunting

Screenshot of The Cleanest Line taken by Ashley Bunting

Sharing: More than Toys

Source: PhotoPin

Source: PhotoPin

When we were rugrats, our teachers and parents told us more times than we can count: Share with your friends. Years down the road, this message still applies. This time I am encouraging you and your business to share content on the web. Sharing free online content is truly powerful. Sharing information with your followers and friends is what gets people talking. It is what makes content go viral.

It all sounds great, right? Well, first you have to ensure what you want to be shared is:

  • Sought After and Accessible
  • Valuable and Authentic
  • Free

In Scott’s blog post The art of asking, he encourages organizations to give away their content. You heard me. He is actually suggesting giving away (such as videos, PDFs, and images) for FREE?!?

Here’s why: Don’t worry about the ROI now. The ROI will come in the future. Scott is advocating that we should ask for the fans support, after we have provided them with the content. Scott and Amanda Palmer (guest incorporated in the post) are certain that fan support will build. Marketing specialist Ms. Molly McGinn also supports this reasoning. In a guest lecture, McGinn told our class that in her eyes, sharing online content is like an expression of an identity, or an online “journal entry.”

The take away message here is that companies need to provide meaningful content online because it is important to the customer; they are actually searching for it! In the words of Mr. Scott, the web has forever changed marketing and the ‘new’ rules are all about online discussion provoked by sharing authentic content.

Don Draper would not be happy about this, but Peace Out!, mass media.


Hubspot Slideshare

David Meerman Scott’s Blog

The New Rules of Marketing and PR, David Meerman Scott

This blog post is a part of a series of assignments for Integrated Marketing Communications at Elon University.

NASCAR Novela: Coming full-speed to the Hispanic audience

31 Mar

Danica Patrick winning the 2013 Daytona 500 pole is not the only big diversity move happening in NASCAR.

In an AdAge interview (2012) with NASCAR Chief Marketing Officer Steve Phelps, Phelps outlines five goals for NASCAR to achieve in the next five years:

  1. Build the star power of individual drivers
  2. Increase engagement among children and college-age consumers
  3. Attract a multicultural fan base
  4. Craft more cohesive digital- and social-media strategies
  5. Improve the racetrack experience for fans

Phelps has been driving these efforts (NASCAR pun intended) since 2010. In this Q&A session, Phelps was asked about what NASCAR is doing to attract a multicultural fan base, specifically Hispanics.

“We’ve done some small things. At three of our race tracks we did heavy up-spending in those markets buying media. We had a virtual garage tour in Spanish. The NASCAR website can be viewed in Spanish, as well, but that’s basically just a translation. Looking ahead, we’re in discussions with a Spanish-language outlet to create digital content for us, and we hope to have meaningful content live in 2013.”

Of course, it all starts small. But NASCAR executives know that Spanish garage tour and translated website is not going to seal the deal.  To attract and engage such a large market, NASCAR needs to truly capture the Hispanic audience off the track before they can capture them on it.

Just as stated in Phelps’s response, 2013 is the year for NASCAR to produce meaningful digital content to Hispanics. NASCAR has pursued digital content in one of the most popular forms of Hispanic entertainment: novelas.

¿Qué es una novela?/ What is a novela?

According to Wikipedia, a telenovela is a limited-run serial dramatic programming popular in Latin American, Portuguese, Filipino, Spanish, and American (Spanish language network) television programming. Essentially, a novela is a Spanish soap opera.

A Virtual Racing Experience

Arranque de Pasión, La Historia de Ela,’ a drama set in a fictional NASCAR world staring Latina actress Kate Del Castillo, tells a story with equal parts romance and speed. This novela is co-produced by NASCAR and Univision and will debut on Univision’s website this month. In May, ‘Arranque de Pasión’ is scheduled to appear on Univision network television.

Screenshot of Univision.com

Screenshot of Univision.com

Sounds like a pretty good gig, right? After all, NASCAR is lacking significant exposure to Hispanics. But why did NASCAR choose a novela to reach this particular audience? Mexican actress Kate Del Castillo, who stars as Ela, knows why.

“When you think about it [NASCAR], it’s all about family, and that’s what we like. It’s about spending an entire day at the track. It’s an experience, a whole day for family, and yet it’s very dangerous. It’s very dramatic. I think it’s perfect for us.” -Del Castillo

So, this is the digital media content Phelps was talking about. Hey, I think this might be the perfect element to draw Hispanic attention. Drama, passion, romance, with a racing vibe to capture viewers and make them want to be a part of the NASCAR experience.

Univision knows what they are doing when it comes to producing novelas, and NASCAR is watching over to ensure authenticity and accuracy of the sport.

Speaking of authenticity, here’s the big question: Are there going to be guest appearances from our favorite NASCAR stars? So far, all sources have indicated ‘no.’ Although the majority of the filming was conducted at Homestead-Miami Speedway, don’t get your hopes up for any guest appearances… at least not yet, I imagine this could be an aspect still up for discussion.

An Extra 0.02 Cents

This is exactly what I have been waiting for! I knew I was a Spanish minor for a reason. This is exactly what NASCAR needs: a more diverse demographic.  For a while, I was worried that the multicultural initiative was going to be all talk and no game. I think the novela is a big move and Phelps’s goal #3 is finally coming to fruition.

Look forward to a blog post about the first episode. It will be in Spanish (of course), but I am fluent and will keep all my non-Spanish speaking readers informed!


Sources: NASCAR Hopes To Win Latinos With Telenovela

NASCAR Targets New Audiences, Revs Up Social-Media Strategy


This blog post is a part of a series for Integrated Marketing Communications at Elon University.

Nike’s New Tiger Woods Facebook Ad: Far From a Hole-In-One

27 Mar

I think Ricky Bobby said it best, “If ya ain’t first, you’re last.” This famous Talladega Nights quote just about sums up the fact that no one likes to lose. But while Ricky Bobby is a fictional character, there are professional athletes out there displaying less than mediocre sportsmanship.

Tiger Woods is back under the spotlight. Ping ponging from one scandal to another, the headlines of Tiger’s promiscuity had finally calmed down, just in time for his golf game to spring back up. This past week, Tiger Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which allowed him to return to his N0.1 ranking. Tiger held this ranking for 281 consecutive weeks before his golf game and personal life came to a crashing halt when it was released he was unfaithful (more than once) to his wife, Elin Nordegren. The ‘Tiger Woods Scandal‘ resulted in the loss of major corporate sponsors such as Accenture, AT&T, and Gatorade. Nike continued their relationship with Tiger.

How does Tiger and his loyal sponsor Nike Golf respond to the recent win? By releasing an ad on Facebook that makes a bold statement about winning. Word of mouth created a buzz of negative reviews, so I went online to check it out for myself.

Screenshot by Ashley Bunting

Screenshot by Ashley Bunting

“I’ll Never Buy Another Nike Product”

According to this article on AdAge, Crisis PR expert Mike Paul says that this ad is “brazen” for both bodies to take on when they are in the process of recovering their brands. Mr. Paul was right. The majority of fans are not pleased. Many parents have responded in the general attitude of, “This is poor sportsmanship. Is this is what we are supposed to teach our children? No.” However, some fans, such as the ones clearly noted in the screenshot above, go as far to say that because of the arrogance communicated in this ad, they will never buy another Nike product. 

Nike Golf Spokeswoman Beth Gast replies, “The statement … is a salute to his athletic performance.”

Does ‘Just Do It’ Imply You Must Win To Be Great?

Just Do It. The Nike slogan that the athletic company has built their brand on. This is the message that speaks to individuals hitting the gym for the first time in years because they have finally gained the confidence to put themselves out there. And if you ask me, most importantly, it speaks to the youth to be active. The bottom line is that the ‘Just Do It’ slogan speaks to athletes of all caliber.

photo credit: albyantoniazzi via photopin cc

photo credit: albyantoniazzi via photopin cc

Did you hear that? I think it was the sound of Nike shooting themselves in the foot. Sure, Tiger Woods might be the best golfer in the world. But what does Tiger’s new ‘Winning’ ad say to the average Joe who wears Nike apparel. The ‘Just Do It’ tagline inspires him. He now goes on morning jogs and is headed in the right direction to living a healthier life. To Nike’s dismay, he has never won a trophy in his life. Is he still winning?

What does this message say to Nike consumers? Some could perceive it as even if their personal life plummets, everything is a-okay (cue a thumbs up) as long as you are bringing home the biggest trophy.

The Tiger Woods fan club will stay the same. He has been through tough times (to stay the least) and his loyal fans have stuck by his side. They are thrilled to see him back on his golf game and securing that No. 1 spot. The Nike fan club is the one on the rocks. Nike’s customer base is much more diverse. To many, winning is not everything, as long as you are doing the best that YOU can do.

Me? What do I think? Well, Since You Asked.

In my amateur opinion, ‘Winning Takes Care Of Everything’ completely contradicts the ‘Just Do It’ message. I would even go as far to say that this Tiger ad could make some Nike product users feel bad about themselves because they are not winning.

Trust me, as a competitive athlete since I was 7 years old, I do not believe that “everyone gets a ribbon.” However, Nike’s Facebook ad comes across as arrogant and pompous, rather than tasteful and classy.

Sources: Nike’s Tiger Woods Ad: ‘Winning Takes Care of Everything’

Tiger Woods Facebook Ad Draws Mixed Reactions

Tiger Woods’ Gatorade Sponsorship OVER: Third Major Sponsor To Leave

This blog post is a part of a series of assignments for Integrated Marketing Communications at Elon University.

When Life Gives You Lemons, Check Their Transparency

25 Mar

The hottest topic in athletic apparel? Lululemon’s yoga pants. For those of you not familiar with the brand, here is a little background info.

According to Urban Dictionary, here is the most PC definition of Lululemon that I would personally agree with:

“A popular yoga and exercise brand of clothing. Mostly for yoga and dance and running, but also just worn for fashion. Extremely comfy and modified fabrics are used, like LUON for wicking properties and staying dry.”

Why all the buzz over a pair of yoga pants, you might ask? Well, turns out multiple batches of Lululemon’s popular pant were poorly manufactured, in turn, they are see-through. Customers have filed in one-by-one, back to the stores, to return these pants because of the pant’s transparency. This has resulted in a recall in the Luon Pants (and you thought only cars were recalled).

Before you read any further, take a look at this video.

Okay, okay, some of you might find this video a little bit offensive. The jokes about the “yoga pants” shortage, and “I like what it does to my curves, I have to say” quote. Let’s dig a little deeper into this.

My Professional Sales professor’s last words before he dismissed us for Spring Break: “Why do people pay $4.00 for a coffee at Starbucks, instead of paying $1.00 for a coffee at McDonald’s. It is about the experience.” And yes, there is an experience with yoga pants. Upper-middle class and upper class women will pay a Franklin ($100 bones) for  a pair of workout pants because they believe it enhances their workout experience. They want to be beautiful when they are sweating. These are not pants strictly for the gym either. Women will run errands in them or wear them around town as casual-wear because they like the way the pants look, the pants are comfortable, and the brand logo shines on the small of their back all day long.

photo credit: lululemon athletica via photopin cc

photo credit: lululemon athletica via photopin cc

Transparency In the Pants, But Is There Transparency in Lululemon’s Future?

According to Brian Davis’s AdAge article, the Lulu pants scandal may cause a lasting impact on the brand. Clearly, the product recall has raised a lot of questions. Women are now taking a closer look at their yoga pants. When customers are paying such a price, quality is expected. The pants recall is embarrassing for the brand, just as it is embarrassing for customers (pun intended).

However: “Lululemon may have an opportunity to squeeze this lemon into LuluLemonade,” says Brian Davis in his article. This leads us to the fork in the road. By taking immediate action to fix the problem and being honest with customers, customers may respect the brand even more. Everyone makes mistakes, right? Lululemon is in the spotlight now, but it will only be so long before another brand’s scandal steals consumer attention. Davis also predicts that it would not be out of the ordinary to see the misfit pants sold on eBay to yogis who practice yoga in private.

Behind the Brand: Livin’ La Vida LuLu

I do not own any Lululemon, personally I am more of a Nike girl. But I am a runner, swimmer, dancer and outdoor enthusiast, so I decided to do a little more research on the Lulu brand. After reading the FastCompany article, Lululemon’s Cult of Selling, I am a little… unsettled?

What I have gathered is this: Lulu recruits yoga instructors to endorse their brand by wearing it and offering Lulu sponsored yoga classes. Hmm seems logical to me. Almost like celebrity endorsements if the most renowned yoga instructors from Beverly Hills are wearing the brand. This is where things get interesting: Lulu employees are referred to as “educators,” and required to go through intense self-actualization training which requires posting their goals on a public wall and listening to motivational recordings. Lulu sees this as an opportunity for educators to access a “learning library” and attend Landmark Forum seminars.

However, past Lulu employees seem to feel a different way. This FastCompany article had many comments from past [angry] Lulu employees, stating that these “educator” practices are what forced them to quit their job.

Why do I bring up the internal structure of Lulu? Good question!

Interested to see if and how these employee practices will change/modify in the coming months due to the “pants scandal.” Based on what I have read on the company culture, I am predicting a whole make-over for LuLu (inside and out!).

Sources: Lululemon Recalls Luon Pants, Expects Shortage | Video – ABC News

Flipsides: Could Lululemon Come Out Ahead After See-Through Yoga Pants Recall?

Lululemon’s Cult of Selling

This blog post is a part of a series for Integrated Marketing Communications at Elon University.

Name of the Game: Marketing. Rules? Depends on the players.

12 Mar

The “rules” of marketing have been heavily debated. Go ahead and Google “Rules of Marketing” and see what you get. The results are all over the place. There is not one single textbook definition or solid set of principles that every single marketing department and marketing firm adheres by. Personally, I believe it depends on the organization and what works the best for them. After all, each organization has its own target market and distinct strategies. However, in his article Marketing and Communications in Nonprofit Organizations, David Williamson of Georgetown University outlines nine morals that he believes should be closely adhered to in marketing specifically for non-profits.

For the purpose of this blog post, I have zoomed in on three of the nine morals, or guidelines, that Williamson believes are crucial to non-profit marketing success. As my group and I dive into our ABAN research, we are keeping William’s morals in mind as they apply to our client.

Morals In Context: Successes and Failures

Moral: You can’t go far wrong in communications if you stick to the Holy Trinity: Audience. Message. Vehicle.

How does this relate to success non-profit marketing? It is so simple! Let’s start with audience, aka who or what you need to reach. How can they be identified, and are they already aware of the issue? Second, you need a message that motivates the audience. I think this motivating message, which provokes a ‘call-to-action’ can be viewed in two ways. The first is inspiring the audience to act for the first time; the second is capturing them as a life-long supporter. How many times have you given to a charity only once? My point exactly. The last component to this moral is the vehicle, or “the best means of delivering the message to the target audience.”

Okay, I have just thrown three ambiguous nouns at you: audience, message, and vehicle. Essentially, this moral ensures that you are delivering a meaningful message to the right people in the right ways. To better understand this moral, let’s take a closer look at the March of Dimes.

Often times, people believe that effective marketing costs a pretty penny. However, the March of Dimes has proven otherwise, using a multidimensional approach that supports its core mission. According to this Mashable article, blog posts, YouTube videos and Facebook posts have been spreading like wildfire. Why? Because they are telling stories of how a child’s life has been saved. These stories are constantly updated on Twitter. This user-generated content has been supported by the organization and provoked discussion that allows people to tell their stories. The user-generated content has created loyal ambassadors for the brand. March of Dimes supporters have shared their personal stories and stories of other babies (message) with their friends, creating new supporters (audience), via social media technology (vehicle).

March of Dimes Twitter Account

March of Dimes Twitter Account

This example of the March of Dimes directly reflects Holly Stewart’s advice of telling a story. A mistake non-profits management makes is that they dangerously assume that everyone else cares about their cause just as much as they do. Unfortunately, that just is not the case. So, how do I get new supporters’ attention? Tell a story, and make sure you are keeping audience, message and vehicle in the process.  Nothing is more genuine than a story about saving a baby’s life.

“Not very complicated, right? And if it’s as simple as that, then how come marketing consultants continue to earn handsome fees from nonprofits?”

A very valid question, Mr. Williamson.

Moral: Fundraising is often a core component of marketing and communications, but not all fundraising collateral translates into more money raised.

Fundraising for a non-profit can often appear as skeptical. As Williamson states in his article, “… is a healthy skepticism about the demands of fundraising collateral.” Nothing is more annoying that organizations asking for money. Sometimes I ask myself, how do I even know this money is going to the cause? I believe that a tool that can combat this is simple Thank You follow-up emails and Thank You videos.

photo credit: Amber B McN via photopin cc

A Thank You from March of Dimes baby
photo credit: Amber B McN via photopin cc

According to the blog post, Five Common Mistakes Make in their Online Fundraising Campaigns, a Thank You email or Thank You video goes a long way. How often does a simple ‘Thank You’ from a stranger brighten your day? The same applies to supporters. And let’s face it- people want to see the difference they are making with their donation. Show them.  Take a look at the Thank You video from Operation Smile. The organization’s management, doctors, nurses, and patients are all shedding light on how they could not do it without you, the supporters.

Of course, I am sure this video took a little extra time to make. But the returning supporters satisfaction of knowing where their money is going and the supporter appreciation is well worth it. In the words of David Williamson, “the key is to focus on few things that you can do that will have the greatest impact” and “don’t try and save money by cutting corners.” It is not worth it in the long run!

Moral: Your brand defines your organization to the outside world. Take the initiative and define yourself, before one of your enemies tries to define you.

We have taken a look at Operation Smile and March of Dimes, both distinguished non-profits that are following one, if not many more, of Williamson’s recommended morals. What about an example of a non-profit that has failed because it has not followed the morals? Point in case, Madonna’s organization Raising Malawi. This organization was founded in hopes of establishing a school system for impoverished girls in Malawi. According to the New York Times article, Madonna’s Charity Fails in Bid to Finance School, after spending $3.8 million dollars, the organization flopped because of a lack of identity. Madonna’s management style was reportedly below par and supporters in Hollywood, that were supposed to give some pretty big bucks (if ya know what I mean), abandoned the project. Madonna’s former boyfriend, Tracy Anderson, also cost the organization its reputation with expenses for his golf course membership, office space, and a free car and driver for the school’s director. Seems a little silly to spend money on all these things when girls in Malawi are lacking an education.

David Williamson would explain this as “lack of authenticity.” Clearly, Madonna’s charity was a failure. According to Williamson, “regrettably, about the only thing that compels non-profit leaders to pay attention to branding is when something goes spectacularly wrong at high-profile peer organizations.” Despite the fact that Raising Malawi was not a high-profile organization, Madonna is a pop icon and known face, and therefore draws a lot of attention.

Ladies and Gentlemen, that is all we have time for today. But I urge you to Google Williamson’s article and dig into the other six morals. Pretty insightful! Read on, friends.

Bunting, out.

This blog post is a part of a series of assignments of Integrated Marketing Communications at Elon University.

Another Look Into Brand Loyalty: featuring Die-Hard NASCAR fans

10 Mar

It is a Sunday afternoon and SURPRISE! I am sitting in front of my television, doing homework at a snail’s pace because I am watching the Kobalt Tools 400 in Vegas. Piddling through FastCompany articles, I came across an article that could not have been a better job at catching my eye: How NASCAR Uses Access to Build the Most Loyal Brand Fans Anywhere. Brand loyalty, a common theme we have been discussing in IMC and NASCAR. Sounds like a great Sunday afternoon read.

Martin’s First Lap (No, not Mark Martin)

Amy Jo Martin, founder and CEO of Digital Royalty, tells of her first NASCAR race, the 2011 Daytona 500. She prefaces the article with all the negative connotations she had of a “monotonous day of left turns and mullets.” Martin does not go into detail about who drove well or who won the race that day, but rather emphasizes the experience. She knew that NASCAR fans were as loyal as they come, but she did not understand why until she experienced a race herself.

To someone who does not follow NASCAR, the sport and the fans are both misunderstood. Martin will first claim and even “swear on her iPhone” that she did not see a single mullet. Take a look at the photo I have attached of NASCAR fans in the Grandstands. There are men, women, boys, and girls. Notice they are all standing. They’re engaged and they look just like me and you.

NASCAR fansphoto credit: mlovitt via photopin cc

photo credit: mlovitt via photopin cc

What she did see was accessibility. Interaction. Passion. It is a different experience than any other professional sport because of the accessibility to the track and the drivers. Drivers take pictures, sign autographs, and interact with fans literally until the second they enter their vehicles.  Fans are allowed to be on the track and capture memories that will last them a lifetime. Each driver interaction entices a fan to want to meet and connect with more drivers. It is a never-ending cycle.

Martin says that personal access is the “entry point for any growing brand.” Personal access? That is exactly what I experienced when I met Kasey Kahne at a Q&A session in Martinsville last April. I was even able to talk to him for a minute about a mutual friend we share, my mentor and NASCAR inspiration, Mr. Phillip Murdock.

Martin recalls fans at the Daytona 500 being called down from the Grandstands to sign the track.  This is essentially the same thing as the Red Socks fans summoned down to Fenway Park to stand on the pitchers mound. But let’s be honest, that does not happen unless you are the lucky winner of hundreds of thousands of fans entered into some kind of contest. For a kid who goes down to the track with his or her parent and signs the pavement, a connection is made, and a lifetime fan is born.

Martin’s Final Lap

Every NASCAR fan has the opportunity to access, connect, and create a relationship. This is easily why fans have a favorite driver who they are loyal to.  This loyalty all starts with first point of access the fan was exposed to.  And despite the fact that NASCAR drivers ride solo, NASCAR fans certainly do not. What Martin learned was that they not only have a connection to the brand and the drivers, but with each other. Let me support that statement by assuring you that every time I have been in the Grandstands, I have made friends. These are people I will never see again, but for three hours, we can enjoy cheering and watching the race with each other. At the end of the day, it was all about the experience.

There are two lessons to be learned here:

  1. Martin concluded her article by writing that with her #GiveNASCARaChance hashtag, she created an audience (that like her) gave NASCAR a chance and tuned in for the first time ever. In one day, Martin was made a believer. “The woman who never had a NASCAR bone in her body,” had gained an appreciation for the sport, no long ignorant to “left turns.”
  2. Brand loyalty all starts with accessibility. My point? There might be a thing or two to learn from NASCAR. Their fan loyalty speaks volumes.

I hope this shed some light for y’all! Thanks for reading to all my non-NASCAR readers.

This blog post is a part of a series of assignments for Integrated Marketing Communications at Elon University.

Source: How NASCAR Uses Access to Build the Most Loyal Brand Fans Anywhere