New blog address

Time to move on to the next level. I've made the switch to WordPress and a new blog format.  I hope you continue to follow my blog and contribute to the conversation. 

Follow me at As far as this one. It's over and out. 

FourSquare Follow Up

A few weeks back I posted a Letter to FourSquare pleading FS to step up their game and be more aggressive at recruiting businesses to get involved.

I just found a great blog post on Mashable (written by Jennifer Van Grove) reinforcing my plea, but also providing a peak at the business analytics of FourSquare.  A great profile into your customers, who they are and when they are checking in with your business.  This post also gives some strong suggestions on how businesses could use FS.

FourSquare Business Analytics

Good stuff. Today I heard 10 people are checking in on FourSquare every 10 seconds. It appears to be growing.  We'll see.

My Behind the Scenes Look at the FedEx Brand

I recently had the privilege of hearing Steve Pacheco, the Director of Advertising & Marketing for FedEx, speak about the FedEx brand. Impressive. Entertaining. Insightful.

First, it's important you know I was with the American Advertising Federation Seventh District and attending a spring convention of around 200 people in Mobile, AL.  It was also during some major international air travel concerns in the Iceland area due to volcanic eruptions and the subsequent poor flying conditions. Hundreds of flights were being delayed or canceled. To say this affects FedEx worldwide shipping is an understatement.

Yet Steve Pacheco stayed true to his commitment to our little convention and his 45 minute speaking engagement. That's cool.  He's a class act.

His message was to tell the story of the FedEx brand. Most of us are pretty familiar with its history starting with one of the more popular product pitch lines of all time (when it absolutely positively has to be there overnight). Interestingly, every marketing example he showed absolutely positively fulfilled that message. He showed some of the more popular and recent TV commercials. Check out the FedEx YouTube channel. It's quite entertaining. It's also worth noting how many videos are posted that were never intended for TV broadcast. They receive hundreds of thousands of views through social media, an intentional strategy.

He also spent a while talking about the greatest brand-product endorsement ever - the movie Castaway. A movie featuring Oscar winner Tom Hanks about your company's brand promise?  Are you kidding me? And the blockbuster film concludes with the package being delivered. Unbelievable.

As a life-long ad agency dude, here's what I admired most from Mr. Pacheco. He went out of his way to recognize BBDO, the ad agency of records for FedEx for the past 20 years. He basically said the success of the FedEx brand was a team effort and that BBDO was instrumental in this partnership. FedEx actually flew about 20 or so BBDO employees to their offices in Memphis for a FedEx-BBDO 20 year marriage party. That's cool. Give me a client relationship like that one.

Since I am a BBDO alumnus, I went up to him afterwards to mention how cool I thought it was that he gave a shout-out to his agency like that. He said, "You know, sometimes I am probably a difficult client, but at the end of the day we all do really good work.  They've (BBDO) done a lot for us and it's helped made us who we are."

Sounds like an agency-client relationship that keeps each other sharp. No push overs. No order takers. Just mutual respect and one shared goal of doping outstanding work.

Letter to FourSquare

Dear FourSquare - 

We don't need more geo-based status updates. "I'm at Ray's Rib Shack (Ocean Drive North, Florida).".

What we want is to be rewarded.  Rewarded for being frequent customers to any given place.  You can do this.  You have the technology.

But there's one problem.  The local businesses don't know about you.  More and more consumers are learning about you, but I'm afraid many of them may give up on you if more local businesses don't start getting in on the game.

If they only knew.  They could use your ability to recognize customers.  They could use you to serve up coupons for, dare I say, the MAYOR and the countless number of people on a quest to oust that frequent purveyor of services! Holy loyalty programs.  What if the restaurant across the street actually knew that everyone from our office has connected to their FourSquare location?  He could serve us coupons to eat there one more day of the week than we already do.  He could offer us happy hour specials only available for FourSquare members. We'd become like family. We'd be there every day and sing songs over pints about how much we love that establishment. Ha! An insider track to receiving good deals.  I'm so sneaky and clever.  We'll probably be offered shares of the business.  Perhaps I'll change the name of the place to Steve's Place.

But no. This is not happening.  Everywhere I go I check in with FourSquare just in case they want to know me.  But they can't because they don't know you.  Please tell them who you are so the many local businesses can begin to know us - their customers.

I've just unlocked the "I've got nothing to do with my FourSquare check-ins Badge".



Twitter - @sschandler

Choose Your Headlines Wisely

Sometimes we act faster than we think.  Nice lesson.  This photo says it all.

You Do Not Determine Your Brand Image

We all spend a lot of effort towards shaping our brand image. Truth is, we are not the decision makers. Consumer perceptions and opinions are the ultimate barometer of this. Look at the Tiger Woods brand. Yes, a lot of effort was put toward carefully conducting a press conference. Personal image consultants were obviously coaching the script so it could speak to the various audiences effected by Tiger Woods. In my opinion, they did a decent job. But the true measurement of all of this orchestrated circus will be the people's perception.

Consider your own branding efforts. You may desire a particular image for your company, or even your own personal life. But your reputation is dependent on how others see you. Reminds me of high school. One truth I firmly believe is what people really think about you is not what they say while you're speaking with them, it's what they say about you when you're not around. Wow. It really is like high school.

Lesson learned? You can spend all the time and money in the world trying to control how others see you, but people know marketing spin. They want authentic people and products. Not some spun story.  Maybe the best way to deliver a strong brand is to be a brand of character, instead of being a character.

Your Website Is Your Visitor Center

Did you know the average consumer now spends as much time online as they do with any other medium? Technically, those who spend their time with Old Man Television (35%) only make up 1% more than those who get it on digitally (34%). Knowing these stats, it sets me on fire when I experience a number of organizations still treating their website as a trifle expense, only deserving of a modicum amount of financial chump change. Looks like it's time to pimp out the year 2010. Again. 

Let's put it this way, if you're looking to open your own retail store do you seek out the cheapest real estate in the seediest location?  Skimp on signage? What about the features inside the shop?  Are you going to toss meager pennies in the pocket of your interior designer to just "make do?" Unless you're in the business of going out of business, the aforementioned new biz suggestions probably make you want to hurl softballs at baby pigeons.

Creating an attractive and inviting establishment requires building an experience like none other. This also rings true to how your website should fully represent your business and create a valuable experience for the consumer from the moment they land on your homepage.  If you are able to create this experience in your retail shop then the increase in demand for what you are selling is an obvious one-off.  The same goes for the message your website should be sending to your consumers. Powerful message =  Memorable impressions. Memorable impressions = People talk.  People talk = People return. You get the idea. If you don't, well stay with us. We all know successful brands that have knocked this out of the park - Starbucks, McDonalds, IKEA and Barnes & Noble just to name a few (giants). They way I look at it, don't feel small. Get even. 

Your website should be a gateway to creating that same on-site experience for your user but creating it online. Do your visitors and potential customers spend more time in your physical store-office or on your website? I must say that very rarely do clients and potential new business partners ring our office without having already scoped out our website. If you're in the tourism industry, most all booking and the entire research process occurs online without a user ever having to pick up the phone.  Yep. Travelers are making entire purchase decisions on what tourism destination gets their green without ever having to talk to a warm body for assistance. Furthermore, did you know that less than 10% of all tourists ever take a stroll over to the destination's actual physical visitor center, yet over 50% have perused their website? Hmmmm. Insert image of The Thinking Man here.

If you are a travel/tourism destination and you are selling a beach with the smell of tranquil breezes and relaxing beachfront experience, your website must try to replicate this experience for your visitor online. Simply said, they need to FEEL it. This post is not as much about serving up ideas for HOW to do it (which, of course, is always fun) but more about encouraging businesses to invest in what it will take for them to develop a website experience that generates excitement and attention and is something people will remember. The long and short of it  - if you're cheating your website, you're cheating your business. Cheating = bad. Just don't do it. 

Some folks claim that your "brand" is what people say about you when you're not around. I dig that. If that is in fact true, then your website is where people are scoping you when you're not around. So make it relevant. Make it matter. Make it you.