It's Official - Forbes Agency Council

I have officially accepted my invitation to join the Forbes Agency Council to share my marketing expertise and content with a larger audience.

I'll be writing primarily about entertainment marketing - celebrity activations, social media, event activations, and other entertainment related trends.  Each piece will provide some takeaways that can be applied to various brands and industries and shared via Forbes as a "Community Voice".

Forbes Councils' goal is for business professionals to "connect, collaborate, and grow" - and learn from each other.

So now I ask you to "Help Me Help You". (but seriously, help me out here)

What do YOU want me to write about? What do you want to learn from me?  

I'm in some pretty good company, so help me up my game and better serve my network!

Forbes Agency Council - Help Me Help You 2.0.png

All Hail The Queen - Taylor Swift

Did you watch MTV's VMAs? Or were you too busy prepping finger-foods for your Game of Thrones viewing party?

If you tuned into GoT, you had a much more eventful evening than loyal VMA viewers, but regardless we should pay homage to the 'Queen' - Taylor Swift. T-Swift slayed the lackluster VMAs from her throne - AKA her couch. She didn't even have to attend the awards show to prove her dominance in the art of publicity. Instead, she debuted her "Look What You Made Me Do" music video, likely smirked with each tweet about the lackluster VMAs (hosted by rival Katy Perry), and likely made deviled dragon eggs prepping for 'winter'.

Brands take note - She always with the PR game. What brand will partner with Swift to create a mutually beneficial "Look What You Made Me Do" campaign? So many way this can be spun!

All Hail The Queen.

Kandypens - The Next BEATS by DRE?

Just because MTV 'retired' music videos doesn't mean they don't exist.  Music videos still get MILLIONS of views online, and the content lives FOREVER - Plus, it's more affordable than you may think!  

Through their entertainment partnerships, Kandy Pens has established themselves as a top vape pen brand in a space that is growing exponentially - 470 million views and counting with their most recent placement below.  Regardless of whether or not they are "the one" or best on the market, the point is that they are following in the steps of BEATS by DRE - And we all know how that worked out.

Every brand should have a music and entertainment marketing strategy to keep their product top-of-mind.  Conversion and sales will always be a top priority, but neglecting to make overall brand awareness a main focus could set you up for failure as the market changes.  Entertainment marketing strategies are NOT a "one size fits all" - A tactic that works for a brand may not work for another so it's important to identify goals and customize a program that further supports your traditional marketing and advertising strategies.

Feel free to reach out to me directly for more information on available entertainment partnerships: diana@stilettomgmt.com

http://bit.ly/2oPy7eu

Brand Highlight: The Iconic OREO & their Marketing Mix

Oreo has been a brand on our radar since their "You can still dunk in the dark" social media win during Super Bowl XLVII. While we're not a fan of all the new flavors Oreo's Wonder Vault has released, from Oreo thins to candy bars, we love that Oreo is constantly reinventing their brand and trying new ways to spark conversation around their products.

Today, Oreo launched their #MyOreoCreation social media campaign with the help of celebrity endorser Ellie Kemper and a number of social media influencers. It's slightly reminiscent of the Lay's "Do Us a Flavor" campaign that is successful year over year. Social media contests are a great way to engage your current customer and keep your brand top of mind.

Oreo is more than a iconic cookie. Oreo has established itself as an industry leader and innovator, diversifying their marketing and advertising mix with social media contests and influencers, celebrity endorsements, product development, and more.

If you don't have an eye on Oreo already, start now. While entertainment marketing tactics are not "one size fits all", Oreo might inspire your next campaign.

And Oreo, one request...make this next flavor in MEGA STUF, please :)

http://bit.ly/2pYo5da

Calling all Cannabis Brands – 5 FAQs about Entertainment Opportunities

I’ve spoken with a countless number of cannabis brands since I founded my agency and while it’s still unclear what government agencies will decide when it comes to future regulations (state and national), with recreational marijuana being legalized in key states, the prohibition is over and the stigma is slowly being lifted from the cannabis industry.  The cannabis industry is about to BOOM.

Up until now, social media and cannabis industry-specific media outlets have been the primary platforms for brands to promote their products and/or services (aside from working directly with dispensaries and budtenders). Many cannabis brands have successfully leveraged niche lifestyle influencers through successful affiliate marketing programs with proven ROI. Those tactics are a great way to build a business and those programs will continue to grow, but it’s time to go a step above and really differentiate yourself. 

With the “stoner stigma” being lifted and the fact that cannabis will be legal on a national level (if the projections are accurate), the opportunity for any cannabis brand is about to grow exponentially. It’s not just about sales anymore, the conversation will turn to brand awareness and perception with the goal of reaching new demographics and creating new potential customers across the US and internationally.

So, what’s next?

·      How do you become top of mind?

·      How do you make your product a national brand? 

·      How do you pull away from the rest of the pack, in an already saturated market that continues to grow rapidly? 

·      How do you get ahead of the curve? 

·      How do you maintain your brand image and amplify it to a larger audience?

ANSWER: Entertainment is KING. Whether it’s a beach bum vibe or sophisticated creative mindset you’re trying to recreate, it’s all about how the consumer “experiences” your brand and there are entertainment partnerships to help your brand achieve your goals through branded content.  

Hollywood events, celebrities and influencers are looking for strategic partnerships in the cannabis category NOW.

FAQs

1.      How much for a celebrity to post on social media about our brand? And are they open to an affiliate program?

A.     The cost will vary by celebrity, based on social media reach, current project, and many other factors. Social media influencers, even with a large following, are almost always cheaper, but that is because there is value associated with being attached to a celebrity that has another platform outside of their social media.

I don’t generally recommend “social media post ONLY” campaigns, as they are more successful when they are linked to a larger campaign or piece of content. That being said, in terms of budget, there are few celebrities that will be willing to post for less than $5k per post - And many celebrities only want long-term engagements, not one-offs. Some may be open to an affiliate/% of revenue program as part of the deal, but celebrities will always require an upfront cash fee in addition the % of revenue. 100% revenue based deals are not an option when dealing with this level of talent.

2.      Are music festivals open to cannabis-related sponsorships/integrations?

A.     Yes. Activation details and budgets vary per music festival and type of associated event. (Coachella and Stagecoach are both open!!)

3.      What other opportunities are available for cannabis brands?

A.     Approval for cannabis brands is still a case by case basis, but the following are all open for discussions:

· Celebrity Event Appearance

· Celebrity Licensed Product Line/Celebrity Endorsement

· Music Video Integration

· Music Tour Sponsorship

· Private Party Sponsor (Malibu Beach House, Celebrity-Hosted Music Festival Parties)

· Event Sponsorships (Customized per Event)

· Gift Lounges

· Branded Integration – Web Series or Horror Film

· And more…sky is the limit.

4.      What kind of budgets do we need?

A.     Budgets are flexible and negotiable. Generally we can find something for every budget, but please refer to the “New Year, NEW BUDGET” blog for more budget and asset details.

5.      We’ve been approached for gift bag sponsorship opportunities. Should we do it, is it a good idea?

A.     NO. NEVER. Save your product and marketing budget for something with a larger ROI.

Final Thought: There is no limit to creativity. Brands, celebrities, productions, and events are all open to suggestions and ideas to a degree. It will come down to the final details of the activation and budget to see if it can become a reality.

Event Sponsorships: For every event, there are 5 more. Get in on the action!

For every event, there are 5 more.

It’s that time of year…every weekend there is another “Hollywood” event – Super Bowl, Grammys, New York Fashion Week, NBA All-Star, The Oscars…the list goes on, and soon we’ll be in music festival season, too.  And here’s my PSA - Just because you’re not an official sponsor of a particular event, this does NOT mean your brand can’t participate and get in on the action!

For every event, there are at least 5 associated events – kick-off parties, gift lounges, pre-parties, after-parties, viewing parties and more!  This past Sunday, 1 full week before The Oscars, there was a media event and gift lounge for talent, VIPs, and influencers to enjoy.  There will be events throughout the week leading up to the big show.  This leaves plenty of opportunities for brands, catering to all budgets, to get their products into the hands of influencers while creating PR, media, and social media buzz. 

The Why:

·       TURN KEY ACTIVATION!

·       Differentiate yourselves from the competition

·       Interactive Experience with Top Talent and Influencers

·       Media & PR Buzz

·       Social Media Assets GALORE

·       Product Seeding

There are star-studded events throughout the year – Find one that’s right for your brand and get in on the action!

Contact STILETTO to learn about opportunities today!

 

Brand Spotlight – What we can learn from Protein World’s campaign with Khloe Kardashian

Let’s get something out of the way upfront - Protein World is arguably my favorite brand based on their marketing campaigns and fresh tone shared through their social media accounts.  I also use their products – they are effective and yummy!  I have recommended this brand to many of my friends and family, and while I normally shy away from highlighting brands I have a personal connection to, they are a great example of a brand that is executing successful marketing and advertising campaign.  We can all benefit from that. 

I’ve been following this UK-based health & wellness brand for a couple years now and they’ve just hit a homerun with a “Go Big or Go Home” campaign that not only puts them on the map in a saturated industry, but is in line with the same fierce brand personality their existing fan base has grown to love.

#TBT to Protein World’s bold 2015 “Are You Beach Body Ready?” advertising campaign.  The brand received international attention (mostly a lot of heat) for using a sexy model in a bright yellow bikini in their ads promoting their weight loss program.  Body shaming and how women are objectified by society is a hot button – now more than ever.  Every brand is wary of the trolls just waiting for a misstep, so they are extremely careful when it comes to any mention (or criticism) of the female shape.  And when critics ripped into Protein World, instead of cowering down, apologizing, and having their ads pulled, Protein World stood tall and strong behind their brand messaging.  In some cases, their responses flat out mocked their “haters” and celebrated the record-breaking sales brought on by all the publicity! 

Protein World promotes a healthy and active lifestyle, nutrition supplements that support that goal, and leverages influencers to share their message through social media.  They have loyal fans and haters alike.  Protein World is also a fierce and fearless brand that can talk-the-talk AND walk-the-walk.  So when it came to their “New Year, New You” campaign promoting their 30 Day Challenge, who better to represent their brand and voice than a public figure that faces that same type of love/hate on a daily basis – Khloe Kardashian.

Whether you love or hate the Kardashians, you cannot deny their success.  Through family scandals, breakups, and media frenzies, Khloe has reinvented her mind, body, and soul since she first entered the Hollywood spotlight.  I could give you a slew of reasons about why Khloe Kardashian and Protein World are a perfect pairing and why this campaign will be a success (the website basically crashed during the campaign launch!), but let’s highlight one overarching theme demonstrated by this successful campaign and many others: 

COMMITMENT. 

In order to have a successful campaign, a brand must COMMIT

to their Voice, Influencers, & Messaging.

Brand Voice & Tone – Protein World has demonstrated strong conviction through their engagement on social media and public statements for C-level executives.  They are confident and consistent with their voice and tone, which indirectly instills confidence within their core consumer about the quality of their product. 

Lesson: Find your voice and stick with it.  If you vary in tone and messaging, your content will not resonate with your consumer – in fact, it will turn them off entirely.  Commit and stick to the script.

Influencer Partnership(s) – Protein World works with numerous influencers and now, most notably, Khloe Kardashian.  They will now reach a wider demographic than with previous partnerships due to her overall reach, international appeal, and younger following.  Her fearless and witty personality, and occasional “clap-back” retorts to heat from the press or fans, aligns with Protein World’s “not backing down” stance and tone.  They have secured Kardashian for 6 months for this particular campaign, which will include countless social media posts from Kardashian, media coverage, and additional assets that will be hard to miss within that timeframe. 

Lesson: Identify influencers that reach your target consumer and match the brand’s lifestyle and tone.  Consumers will not only sense a disingenuous relationship with influencers, they will also notice if the influencers’ tones change within the branded content.  Don’t fall for the “firework effect” and expect an overnight ROI.  These campaigns take multiple posts and time to see the full impact.  Commit to your influencers for a longer engagement to maximize the impact with their fan base.

Campaign Themes & Messaging – Protein World is known for their sass, crisp branding & marketing, and influencer marketing tactics.  This has been consistent throughout their campaigns and has grown over time as the brand matures and continues to expand.

Lesson: A brand’s overall voice and tone shouldn’t vary too much from campaign to campaign, but strengthen and evolve with the brand.  That being said, the individual campaign themes and messaging may diverge - sometimes you have to shake things up!  Regardless of the campaign theme, commit to the associated messaging, tactics, and platforms to maximize the impact.  Campaigns can be short term, but invest and commit to each and every campaign to maximize the reach, impact, and overall ROI.

 

New Year, NEW BUDGET! Happy 2017!

Happy New Year, Everyone!  “New Year, New YOU!” doesn’t just apply to our personal lives and resolutions.  It’s a new year, and your brand can take on some new habits in 2017, as well.

So let’s kick off the year with some real talk.  Whether you have $5,000 or $5 million in your marketing budget, please reach out to STILETTO for a consultation.  Most brands assume “influencer and entertainment marketing” is too expensive for them and stick to traditional marketing and advertising methods – This is NOT always the case!  There is generally something for every brand, so at the very least know your entertainment marketing and influencer social media options as we kick off 2017.  STILETTO can explain and present tactics and craft campaigns that work within your budget and align with your 2017 marketing plan and associated initiatives.   

If you want Beyoncé or Taylor Swift to represent your brand, you’re going to pay big for it.  If you want a Super Bowl commercial, same thing.  But the majority of “entertainment” opportunities that yield valuable brand awareness, media coverage, and social media assets are affordable. 

Let’s focus on the activations that will get you the most “bang for your buck” if negotiated and executed correctly:

  • Celebrity Event Sponsorships
  • Gift Lounge Participation
  • Music Video Integration
  • Influencer Campaigns
  • Talk Show Integration & Giveaway

The "Why" & How Much:

Celebrity Event Sponsorship

You don’t need a full blown celebrity endorsement to participate in a star-studded event.  Nearly all celebrity events are sponsored in some capacity, whether it’s a celebrity baby shower, unofficial Super Bowl event, or an “After Party” - and the activation capabilities are endless.  You can’t deny it…consumers can’t resist seeing what their favorite celebrities are into!

What you get*:

  • Guaranteed Press & Media Coverage
  • Branded Interactive Onsite Experience
  • Celebrity and Influencer Interaction & Engagement
  • Pictures & Video assets for social media and internal marketing/sales use.
  • Potential Step & Repeat Logo Inclusion
  • Official Press Release Mention
  • Quick Turnaround – can be executed in as little as 2 weeks depending on execution details
  • Behind the Scenes Assets (depends on activation)

**Endless options based on available budget and brand details.

Recommended Starting Budget for Celebrity Event: $25k

*Varies by event and brand category

Gift Lounge Participation

With many celebrity events, there are associated gift lounges for gifting directly to celebrities and influencers.  Typically these are around award season, but can be a component of any event.  These gift lounges are great for quick assets for social media, but you may be limited in terms of the activation capabilities, press coverage, quality of celebrity talent attending, and overall “cool” factor since your brand will be featured with countless others.  Gift lounges are generally more affordable than a full blown event sponsorship for those reasons.

What you get:

  • Limited Press & Media Coverage
  • Branded Interactive Onsite Experience
  • Celebrity and Influencer Interaction & Engagement (Quality of talent not as high as Event Sponsorship)
  • Gifting to attending talent
  • Pictures & Video assets for social media and internal marketing/sales use
  • Official Press Release Mention
  • Quick Turnaround - can be executed in as little as 2 weeks depending on execution details

Recommended Starting Budget for Gift Lounge Participation: $10k

Music Video Integration

If you read my earlier post about Morton Salt’s collaboration with OK Go to launch their “Walk Her Walk” campaign, you know I’m a huge advocate for music video integration – especially if you are targeting the millennial demographic.  But it’s not just because they allow for more creativity and have a “cool” factor about them – music videos provide unique assets that other marketing tactics can’t offer.  Music and artists are a part of everyone’s lives – there is no demographic a music partnership can’t reach!  And remember, Entertainment is King when it comes to reaching consumers.

What you get:

  • Implied Endorsement – Association and interaction with top talent without huge endorsement fees
  • Can lead to a future long-term partnership with the talent if both parties are satisfied with the results of the initial activation
  • Contracted and guaranteed brand exposure (duration onscreen) and product usage
  • Pictures & Video assets for social media and internal marketing/sales use
  • Trackable Viewership/ROI via YouTube & Vimeo
  • Additional Add-on Assets (including, but not limited to)
  • Social Media posts from the talent
  • Behind-The-Scenes Content
  • Quick Turnaround – Production to release of video generally around one month

Recommended Starting Budget for Music Video integration: $15k*

*Flexible, varies by talent and brand category

Influencer Campaign

The hot tactic that is expected to double in 2017 is influencer campaigns, leveraging social media primarily.  This method is excellent for reaching target consumers based on the platforms they are active on and using select influencers to share branded and entertaining content to reach a particular demographic.  And perhaps the best thing about it, there is no one “right way” to go about it (but you can certainly do it wrong if you aren’t careful!).  Depending on the marketing initiatives, a campaign could leverage micro, social media/lifestyle, or celebrity in their influencer campaigns so the budgets will vary depending on the campaign goals.  The relationship with the influencer can be short or long-term, but that decision should be based on the campaign goals and KPIs.

What you get:

  • Entertaining content created by a select influencer
  • Contract & mutually agreed upon usage and content
  • Leverage of the influencer’s fan base
  • Shareable content for social media
  • Assets for internal marketing/sales usage
  • Flexible terms
  • Quick turnaround
  • Trackable viewership and engagement

Recommended Starting Budget for Influencer Campaigns: $30k*

*This includes multiple posts and pieces of content, and potentially multiple influencers.  This is NOT for a single post on one channel.  In addition, a micro-influencer campaign can be activated for less, but results may vary.

Talk Show Integration & Giveaway

An oldie, but a goodie.  Nothing beats an implied endorsement from a top talent, national exposure, and your brand messaging delivered straight from the host’s mouth!  You can reach millions of viewers with a 30 second brand integration and giveaway that is baked into the content of the episode.  The segment and giveaway may also featured on the TV production’s website and their social media platforms, as well. 

What you get:

  • Implied endorsement from a top talent
  • Guaranteed brand exposure and brand messaging
  • Product Sampling
  • Picture and video assets for internal marketing and sales use
  • Additional Add-ons
  • Social Media promotion
  • Website Inclusion
  • Additional “Home Viewer” Giveaway

Recommended Starting Budget for Talk Show Integration: $15k*

NOTE: Talk show integrations and giveaways require product for all audience members, sometimes an online giveaway, and may require an integration fee which varies by production and segment (reflected in recommended minimum budget below).

*Does not include value of product for gifting.  Many shows require a retail value of $50 or $100 gift value per audience member.  Audience size varies from approximately 50 – 450. 

*Integration fee varies by TV production

FINAL THOUGHTS:  

All of these tactics work individually for a “firework” marketing effect, but are best utilized when they are baked into existing campaigns.  A successful entertainment marketing plan should support all other marketing/advertising efforts in some capacity, which will also add longevity to the assets obtained with each activation.

STILETTO will educate and guide you through the details to create engaging and successful marketing campaigns.  No matter the budget, there is something for everyone.  And if you take one thing with you from this, let it be this point: DO NOT PARTICIPATE IN GIFT BAG ONLY OPPORTUNITIES!  I can promise you with nearly 100% certainty that the samples sent for the gift bag never reach the talent, but their assistants and publicists will love the free goodies.  The assets you receive in return for your contribution (usually a cash fee and product) will yield little to no result.

Contact STILETTO for your free 2017 consultation.

Influencer Marketing - You're Doing It Wrong

Calling all marketers that say “influencer marketing doesn’t work” --- You’re doing it wrong!

Someone extremely intelligent that I respect recently told me that they felt influencer marketing was on the way out because “it doesn’t work” and proceeded to tell me the details of this campaign which had my insides screaming “YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!” 

With 85% of marketing and communications professionals expecting to execute at least 1 influencer campaign in 2017*, the data is in my corner when I say it isn’t going anywhere.  If anything, influencer marketing is on the rise, but the underlying execution and strategy is changing.

Let’s talk about what’s “not working”:

·       TV Advertising – Aside from live events, what consumer hasn’t found an easy solution to avoid commercials (that cost millions in ad buys, by the way)?

·       Digital Ads – Ad blockers, ad blockers, ad blockers everywhere.

·       Print Ads – Are these extinct yet?  I kid, I subscribe to a number of magazines and newspapers, but most of my time is now spent online and on social media like most consumers these days.  Can anyone recall the last print ad that caught their eye?  Was it because a celebrity was in it?

The above would be considered “traditional marketing”, which is hanging on by a thread, yet it’s still considered a “safe” investment by most brands when it comes to budgets.  But even with the above tactics, how do you prove the ROI?  Number of Impressions?  If your product can be purchased online and your goal is to drive sales, you can track the click-thru and your sales funnel, but that isn’t always the goal of a marketing campaign and certainly doesn’t cover every brand marketing and advertising to the consumer. 

Proving ROI has ALWAYS been the #1 struggle for marketing and advertising professionals, so why do we expect influencer marketing to suddenly solve this puzzle?

So, let me ask you this: what didn’t work with your last influencer campaign?  Low engagement? No measurable ROI?  It’s possible that the reason it “didn’t work” is because of poor execution or unrealistic expectations set.

Influencer Marketing is more than paying for a tweet or a single Instagram post (and if that’s how you define “influencer marketing”, you’re absolutely doing it wrong!).  If you’ve read any of my past entries, you know what I’m going to say: ENTERTAINMENT IS KING!

Influencer Marketing is most effective when it’s part of a larger multifaceted strategy, it focuses on entertaining rather than selling, and can leverage micro-influencers, social media & digital influencers, and/or celebrities.  These campaigns vary in scale and cost – Opportunities exist for budgets and brands or all sizes!  (Have you seen American Express’ #ShopSmall #AmexAmbassador campaign leveraging influencers of ALL LEVELS – you literally cannot miss it!)

Here are some questions/steps to think about before activating your next influencer campaign.  With solid execution and planning, you’ll put this “influencer marketing doesn’t work” to bed – for good:

Marketing Basics:

  • Who is your target market?
  • What social platforms do they spend the most time on?
  • What type of content do they respond to?
  • Where else do they spend time online?
  • Identify KPIs to measure success
  • Set a goal based on established KPIs (be as specific as possible – brand awareness, website traffic, sales, etc.)
  • Can these assets (images, video, blog entries, statements, etc.) be repurposed?**

Influencer Marketing Basics:

  • Research, identify, & secure appropriate influencers - Should align with the answers to the “Marketing Basics” outlined above
  • Learn the Influencers’ tone, voice, and review their existing content & style
  • Allow the Influencer(s) to use their creative genius when developing the campaign assets
  • Outline complete ask upfront – total posts, type of content, important brand messaging, etc. (Budget and negotiation tactics will be adjusted accordingly)

 

**Contact STILETTO for your next successful influencer campaign.  We are full service and handle it all, to identifying the influencers, negotiating the terms and/or fees, and final execution. 

 

 

*Statistics from eMarketer survey for 2017

 

3 Influencer Marketing Statistics You Need to Know for 2017

With 2016 winding down, here are some statistics about a marketing tactic that’s expected to nearly double in 2017 and should be incorporated into every brand’s marketing mix:

Influencer Marketing.

The Why:

Entertainment is King!  Branded content held the throne for long enough, but if the content isn’t entertaining it will be dismissed by the viewer.  Consumers, especially millennials, hate being marketed to so baking your brand messaging into a piece of entertaining content has become imperative for future successful campaigns.  Influencers create unique and authentic content that increases reach, recognition amongst consumers, and most importantly – It entertains their fan base while sharing your brand messaging, driving engagement, and increasing traffic to the brand’s social media pages, website and/or landing pages.  The most successful influencer campaigns allow for the talent to put their personality into the content, which allows for an organic and authentic campaign that engages your target demographic. 

3 Influencer Marketing Statistics You Need to Know for 2017*:

1.       94% of marketers find influencer marketing to be an effective strategy

2.       78% of marketers say proving ROI will be their #1 hurdle in 2017 (so nothing’s changed here!)

3.       2016 Average Budget per Influencer Campaign: $25k - $50k**

**Influencer marketing budgets are set to DOUBLE in 2017.

STILETTO specializes in entertainment and influencer partnerships.  Contact STILETTO to build your next successful marketing campaign.

 

 

*Data sourced by Linqia, via Adweek.

Day 1 @ Weed Week PDX 2016 - Make Your Brand Top-Of-Mind

It's fair to say I never thought that my professional career would bring me here: Weed Week PDX 2016. That's right, there are cannabis conferences and they are awesome.  And no, they aren't super laid back and no, the attendees and presenters are not high.  Recreational marijuana is a business, and a very lucrative one that is growing rapidly.  While the attire of attendees and presenters may range from grunge to business professional, everyone is on a mission to grow their business. Very much a "work hard, play harder (or higher)" atmosphere, there will be some product sampling as part of the conference experience.

While there are sessions focused on product trends, legal guidance, industry best practices, etc., for all parts of the cannabis trade, there is one question that has been brought up in nearly every session: "What about that marketing plan?"  As more states legalize marijuana for recreational use, how will that change how these products are marketed, sold and distributed?  How is the industry changing and what does the future look like?

Truth is, it's somewhat the "Wild West" right now since individual states have their own restrictions and regulations.  However, there will be a shift with many brands marketing directly to consumers versus the retail locations themselves.  

Yesterday, Cy Scott, Co-Founder of Headset, a real-time data platform specifically for the cannabis industry, shared that the 80:20 principle also applies to marijuana sales.  If you're not familiar, this means 80% of the purchases are from 20% of the available products on the market today.  If you've been to Uncle Ike's or any other retail location, you know there's an overwhelming selection of products in all categories (flower, vape, topical, edible, beverage, etc.).  

With that in mind, a number of growers, consumer brands, and retail locations have asked how to differentiate themselves before the cannabis bubble bursts.  How do they stand out and continue to grow their business as more and more products and locations hit the scene?

As with many industries, relationships are key and the recreational marijuana market heavily relies on the "Budtenders" to educate the customer and make appropriate product recommendations based on the desired effect.  Budtenders are incredibly knowledgeable about the products, what's new and worth a try, and often times are responsible for establishing brand loyalty with the consumer.  But as more and more products hit the market, will the cannabis industry follow in the footsteps of the pharmaceutical industry which transitioned from physician recommendation to the advertising tagline: "Ask your doctor about (insert brand here)..."? 

My Prediction: The next wave of recreational marijuana consumers will ask for products by name.  (NOTE: The Budtenders' opinions and recommendations will still be valuable, but the "guinea pig" new consumer will be curious to try products based on how they are marketed.)

How do you make your brand top-of-mind?

Here are some suggestions highlighted during Day 1 at Weed Week PDX 2016, with STILETTO's recommendations baked in, on how to achieve your marketing and branding goals so your product is top-of-mind for consumers (which can also be applied to nearly every other business):

  • Brand Creative Brief
    • Define your brand's core competencies and identify your target consumer
    • This will determine the direction for branding and all facets of your marketing/advertising campaigns
  • Branding 
    • Invest in high quality branding and packaging
      • This will not only appeal to your consumer, but the Budtenders and retail locations are more likely to promote a polished brand
      • Use a creative agency that is familiar with the industry to make packaging and design recommendations, which may also expedite the production process
  • Social Media Marketing
    • Social media platforms are currently the most flexible and least restricted marketing mediums
    • Develop a social media plan with multiple content buckets
    • Identify where your target consumers are spending time and reviewing content (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.), then prioritize accordingly.
    • Leverage your branding and creative brief to determine the tone of your social media content
  • Digital, Social Media, and Celebrity Influencers
    • Mix it up: Industry-specific influencers to maintain your current customer base and target consumers most likely to be in a "buying stage", but also broaden your reach by working with similar lifestyle influencers that can attract NEW consumers
    • Identify appropriate influencers and analyze their audience demographic and engagement 
  • Content Marketing
    • "Content is King" - It's not just content, it must also entertain.  Whether it's on social media or another medium, consumers know when they are being marketed to so be sure entertain them to earn their business and remain top-of-mind.
    • Make sure the content is in-line with your brand and current strategy
  • Entertainment-based Content Marketing* (which will become more widespread once recreational marijuana is legal nationwide)
    • Event Sponsorships - Similar to alcohol, event sponsorships offer excellent PR & media coverage, social media assets, interaction with talent and influencers, and provide the unique opportunity to reach consumers and influencers through experiential onsite activation and sampling.   
    • Music Video Integration - Again, similar to alcohol and e-cigs, this is a less expensive method to reach millions of potential customers and receive an "implied endorsement" from top celebrity talent.  Exposure and usage is agreed upon prior to production to make sure your brand messaging is shared with the viewer.

*Depending on other brands participating, this could also increase your brand's reach and value in terms of association with other recognizable brands.

STILETTO can assist with each of these components to ensure your brand receives maximum exposure with each activation.

Stay tuned for a recap of Day 2 and feel free to reach out to STILETTO directly with questions.

How Morton Salt is reaching the Millennial Demographic

 

Who isn't familiar with Morton Salt? Or recognize their iconic "Umbrella Girl" in the yellow dress on the dark blue cylinder? Is it possible Millennials aren't as familiar with Morton Salt as the rest of us?

Well, Morton Salt will make sure they notice that they are more than "just salt".

Morton Salt partnered with indie-rock band OK Go to create an unbelievable visually stimulating music video for "The One Moment" to promote a new Morton philanthropic platform "Walk Her Walk", dedicated to making an impact on the world through 5 organizations.  Both Morton Salt and OK Go want individuals to understand, cherish, and take note of the impact each moment has on their lives and the world.

But let's talk about the marketing aspect of Morton Salt's partnership with OK Go and their decision to use Music Video Integration as a key component to their "Walk Her Walk" campaign.  Many people say "music videos are dead."  While they're not aired on MTV anymore, they live online (FOREVER) and still get millions and millions of views.  These videos are uploaded to YouTube by various sources, the artist, the label, maybe the production company, and even distributed to media outlets for PR stories.  And the view count tallies in front of your eyes.  Morton Salt's "Walk Her Walk" campaign and the "The One Moment" video have already garnered millions of impressions through media coverage alone.  Music videos are not dead - they are very much alive.

Aside from promoting their philanthropic "Walk Her Walk" campaign, leveraging their own "Umbrella Girl" as a spokesperson, Morton is targeting a new younger demographic that may not have grown up with the same dark blue canister of salt that has been around since 1848.  

What are millennials watching, doing, consuming?  Entertainment.

Morton Salt's Formula for Success:

Strong Brand + Worthy Cause + Cool Artist + Fun/Creative Concept = MILLENNIAL CONTENT GOLD (aka Music Video Integration)

5 HUGE Benefits to Music Videos:

·       Quick Turnaround - Most music videos move from concept to production to completion/released within a month

·       Implied Endorsement - Association with talent is an implied endorsement, meaning the association and placement implies that the product is used and 'approved of' by the talent without additional endorsement fees.

·       Assets Galore – Music videos live online forever, but there are additional assets that can be sources and re-purposed.  For example, behind-the-scenes footage, still shots, and more can be used for internal sales and marketing purposes (and often B2B trade shows)

  • Consider additional social media posts & promotions with this integration (Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc.)

·       Promotion/PR – The talent, label, and managers want the video to be a success just as much as the brand so there will be dual efforts to promote the content AND media outlets are more likely to pick up a story that has a “celebrity” associated.

·       Cost Efficient – Many brands assume this is out of there price range, but the truth is it is one of the more affordable celebrity partnerships with the most bang for your buck.  The fee is based on the talent (Beyonce > Next Big Punk Rock Band), length of duration on screen, and brand category. 

The phrase used to be "Content is King" - Now it's "Entertainment is King".

I encourage you to check out the OK Go "The One Moment" video on Morton Salt's "Walk Her Walk" page.  A beautifully executed campaign and maybe the most visually stimulating music video I've seen in a long time - Morton Salt's "Walk Her Walk" 

Contact STILETTO for questions about Music Video Integrations and Celebrity Partnerships.

5 Mistakes Brands Must Avoid with Influencer Campaigns

As with any project, things are overlooked and fall through the cracks during the implementation process, but below are 5 easily avoidable mistakes that are all-too-common. Also, here are a few tips to ensure your influencer campaigns will stay on track and achieve (and exceed!) the desired result.  Influencer campaigns not only yield great results, but they're also fun and often provide great content that can be picked up for additional press and PR.

1.      Not Defining the Goals & Relevant KPIs in Advance

Too often brands don’t determine the campaign goals and KPIs before an influencer activation. They get excited about the activation and work on the other details, but don’t outline where the bar is set for success. There are 2 problems with not documenting these specifics in advance. 

a.      How do you determine if the campaign was a success if you don’t know what to measure? You can read analytics reports, track sales and website hits all day, but without a set target it becomes more difficult to determine which campaigns are more successful and what components of each were most effective and should be utilized for future programs.  

Side Note: This also allows you to fairly compare campaigns against each other when establishing and allocating budgets. If the metrics are available you can more easily evaluate where you can get the most bang for your buck.   

b.      By setting the goals and KPIs in advance, the campaign scope and direction will remain intact. Is the campaign’s focus to increase overall brand awareness or are you targeting a niche consumer base within your industry? Is the goal to drive consumers to your website or to build a social following? There are many questions to be answered when building a campaign, but when all the components are outlined in advance the brand messaging will be concise and consistent, the influencers will be identified and secured with those goals in mind, and the campaign will be more successful as a result.

TIP: Be specific with your goals and be sure to put measurement mechanisms in place so you can track each component and course correct mid-campaign if necessary.

2.      Not Identifying the Correct Platforms

Where is your target audience?Who is your target demographic?  Old, young?  Male, Female? Is your product more of an impulse purchase or does it require a bit more education before a consumer buys in? The answers to questions like these may uncover that specific platforms are better for reaching and engaging your consumer. And remember, you don’t have focus on all platforms.  Snapchat and Instagram Stories, while newer and more “hip”, but is your audience engaging on those platforms and will those platforms help you hit your goals?

This will also dictate the influencer chosen to drive the campaign. Before selecting an influencer, you need to identify where your audience is finding information about your product and where they engage with their friends, family, and other brands. Choose an influencer that aligns in those areas. An influencer’s voice and audience can vary based on the platform.  The type of content (video, boomerang, static image, etc.) created may also vary based on the preferred platforms.

TIP: Ask for detailed information about the influencer’s audience and engagement rate on each platform before including them in the campaign. Available details will vary by platform.

3.      Handcuffing the Talent

The influencers have proven themselves capable of creating unique content that the consumer genuinely enjoys and actively engages with on a regular basis. It is fair to request certain brand message points to be included or share inside knowledge of what has been “successful” in the past, but DO NOT handcuff the talent by taking away their creative control and voice. Share what has worked in the past and what has not, but no one has a better sense for the community than the person who built it and engages with it on a daily basis.

While the brand should always have final approval on content and copy to go live, the branded content should still entertain and feel authentic to the influencer's audience.  If not, the engagement and overall success will be compromised. 

TIP:  It’s ok to take a risk and let the influencer put their spin on the brand messaging and content. While the brand is an expert in their field, the influencer is the expert when it comes to their audience.  

4.      Limiting your Impact with Short Term Engagements

Unless there is a particular event or a firm expiration date for a campaign, most are successful if there are repeated engagements so the audience can build a relationship with the brand.  It also reinforces the authenticity and organic relationship between the brand and the influencer.

On the flip side, don’t overdo it.  The consumer can sense when a product is being forced on them. Too many posts or really heavy content will lead to decreased engagement and potentially negative feedback.

TIP:  Add in the option to renew or extend an engagement based on the success of the initial campaign.

5.      Focusing on Impressions versus Engagement. 

Don’t be lured in by a large following. Weigh your options.

Sometimes the influencer with the smaller follower has a more niche audience and perhaps a stronger influence over their following. Impressions matter, but engagement is key and much more valuable. 

TIP:  Consider the influencer with smaller followings and niche focus areas. Engagement on smaller accounts is often higher due to the follower feeling they have more of a “voice” within the community.

Now you're ready!

There are many ways you can work with an influencer and when executed correctly can yield big results. Get creative, take a risk or two. Start small or big, there is no reason to not dabble in the influencer-driven campaign space!

Feel free to reach out to me directly for questions and assistance!