Dear Montréal, We’re Stealing Mural Festival. Sincerely, The City of Regina.

Dearest Montréal,

We here on the prairies have grown quite fond of some of the pleasantries your fine cultured citizens have the pleasure of enjoying year on year. We feel it is our duty to inform you that we will be politely (and with the utmost respect) be stealing your Mural Festival as well as a few other ideas from your wildly addictive city.

Your streets are nothing short of beautiful. We intend to do the same to our fair city in due time.  Not only do I want to steal the idea of the Mural Festival, I want to take back to Regina a few other parts of Montréal.

Thank you Montréal for your cooperation and willingness to share in your Mural Festival. We from the City of Regina (unofficially), thank you in advance for your consideration of this request.

A Regina citizen that appreciates your fine city.

First of all Montréal is 375 years old, yeah that’s older than our country! So you can assume Montréal is doing something right, otherwise it wouldn’t be around. There’s a lot of history there, a lot of history this author had no idea about. The people are proud of their rich cultural heritage, far more than I witness on the prairies. It’s about time to start that rich, cultural, artistic, prairie heritage.

If we want to become a major destination in Canada we need to believe we can be a major destination in Canada.

What you want? CHEESEBURGER!! CHEESEBURGER!!

They Get Hospitality and Customer Service – fast service is a win-win

You don’t wait for meals very long at all. Be it crêpes, burgers, or a famous smoked meat sandwich, the service in most places in Montréal was remarkable. They are FAST! Sometimes you are served literally in minutes after ordering. This is a huge win-win! The restaurants like to have more people through their doors and customers don’t want to stay in one place too long. Serving meals fast is a way to impress customers and help your bottom line!

The “cooler” the dining experience the better your odds of success

Montréal really gets outdoor dining. Patios, terraces, tables in the middle of nowhere, some of the most romantic places to share a meal with someone are in the most unique places. We can easily steal this idea. We just need to talk to the City of Regina about allowing dining establishments more leniency on “where” they can setup tables to serve you. “Creating Instagramable Moments”.

Does It Cost To Get In? Nope.

Never short on fun (free) things to do 

We went on a Tuesday till a Saturday and there was the Mural Festival, The Francofolies Festival, as well as a beer fest going on near by. They were all free to attend. That means the organizers must have some great funding to be able to put on acts like that throughout the week. The Mural Festival was an entire street blocked off and shops, restaurants, and artistic acts lining the way. Amazing art pieces now cover the not so boring concrete jungle most cities become.

There’s a free app called Cite Memoire that tells the history of old Montréal in 22 different projections telling the history of Montréal.  Some of these projections were literally hundreds of feet in the air and you could only see them after a certain at night (had to check the app). They were breathtaking. Talk about “creating Instagramable moments” what a smart idea!

 

cite memoire

Got street art?

It’s beautiful just to walk around, the Street Art is amazing

Many of the most spectacular ones were from last year and 2015, Mural Festival is a way to keep making your city more artistically beautiful. The amount of tourists walking around snapping pictures of the Murals was also amazing (guilty!). What a brilliant way to make your city more beautiful, once a year hold a “mural fest” invite famous artists from around the world, and BOOM, every year there are more places with stunning art for everyone to enjoy.

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Monetize the website monetize the Facebook monetize our blog! Figure how much profit we can make

The New Age Marketing Rap | Edgar Alan Poems Vol 1

Everyone thinks they understand the marketing game.
But when you see their work, they’re so afraid to go against the grain.

“It doesn’t work on me”, everyone thinks they understand advertising.
Then they only buy pop-culture products by name brands, to me that’s not surprising.

The marketing world has been based on selling more eye balls, I need more exposure, more impressions, more branding!
The smart companies know that if they spend more on Customer service and making a better product, when the smoke clears they will be the ones left standing.

We’re about to enter the marketing war, you have no choice in this matter.
But it’s not about a bigger megaphone to try and create more useless banter.

We're about to enter the marketing war, you have no choice in this matter. But it's not about a bigger megaphone to try and create more useless banter

That’s what we don’t like, your boring message that’s supposedly tailored to my “demographic”.
Really you don’t care about my opinion of your product, you’re making a feeble attempt at increasing your website traffic.

The war of traditional versus the future, we’ve seen this battle before.
Older people don’t like to change but the younger generation can hardly wait for what’s in store.

Agencies have ruled over the marketing world for long enough, I wonder how they’re going to adapt.
When you work for one and offer an idea outside TV, radio, or print, you’re bound to get your hand slapped.

“Recommend billboards or TV, we make a quick 15% off every ad we sell!”
It’s this mentality at agencies that makes me think their business model is about to go through hell.

Monetize the website, monetize the Facebook, monetize our blog!
Figure how much profit we can make, heck put our logo on that dog!

You think I hate mass media, commercials are bad and have no use for the newspaper.
It’s not the medium, it never was, it’s your attitude I have a problem with, you sound like Don Draper.

it's your attitude i have a problem with you sound like don draper

You assume people want to hear about what your company has to say.
But for 98% of us we could care less about your company while going about our day to day.

Stop trying to get more exposure and stop interrupting me while I listen, watch and read.
Focus on the 2% and make sure you’re there the second your service is in need.

Have a conversation with your customers and realize you need feedback to grow.
Your other option is to listen to no one and change nothing, this last opportunity you will inevitably blow.

As marketing budgets get slashed and business models turned upside down, bankruptcy is no longer the “unthinkable”.
If you don’t want to adapt, if you don’t change the course. Always remember the titanic was touted as being unsinkable.

Experience will tells us it’s too risky to change, “focus on your strengths, don’t follow fads”.
Instagram and Snapchat seem like effort, it’s much easier just to buy ads.

Now here’s your warning, I’m delighted to let you know.
If you ignore the conversation and keep interrupting us, it’ll start to show.

You’ll alienate your loudest customers and they’ll be sure to let everyone know,
what an ignorant company you are and to your competition they’ll go.

The companies that will win have something you can’t get from an agency.
A dedicated tribe of people who care dearly about your company.

So fire the marketing department and hire a philanthropist or nine.
Begin your tribe by telling your story to the world online.

Written in January 27, 2012. Originally titled “The Marketing Rap”.

What do you do when you're having a bad day?

What Do You When You Have a Bad Day? // eps 46 #InTheLab

We had a really intense discussion in our office the other day and the question was asked, what do you do when you have a bad day?
(Other than play that catchy Daniel Powter song by the same name)

We had varied answers but what was interesting was that everyone could relate, everyone has bad days. No one is immune from bad days, EVERYONE has them. Everybody. So to figure out what to do about a bad day seems like something we all should talk about.

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Do you think people want to follow a faceless company online

How The Golden Rule Applies To Your Social Media Strategy // eps 45 #InTheLab

How The Golden Rule Applies To Your Social Media Strategy

Common sense is not so common when it comes to social media. “Businesses act too much like businesses online” – Conrad Hewitt

Conrad shares with us why he thinks a lot of companies get it wrong with it comes to social media and their online marketing presence. Running accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram he sees it all right now and from the sounds of it he’s not happy! It’s easy to sound professional and to echo “business jargon”, it’s hard to create a personality that people come to like and trust.

It’s hard to argue against developing a personality online with so many local examples (@ReginaPolice, @KiltedBroker, @Eric_Dillon@BradWall, @Nenshi). All these folks don’t exactly “follow the rules” when it comes to social and their fans absolutely adore it. Don’t take yourself (or your business) to seriously online.

With the amount of options we all have to buy what you are selling from someone else, you have to figure out a way to cut through the clutter. Being different is now the safest thing your brand can be.

I wish your pictures on Instagram were more business like

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Explode Your Community (While Avoiding Casualties): 9 Ways To Get REAL Twitter Followers

Many people and businesses start on Twitter and don’t have much of an idea as to how to get followers or start interacting in a way that will add value to their lives or add customers to their business.  The first step is thinking of it as “growing community” rather than “attaining followers”.  I mean, you could simply follow a thousand people then unfollow the ones who don’t follow you back OR even pay someone on fiver.com to get you 3000 followers by midnight (but, actually, please don’t. stay tuned for a rant on the subject).  What’s the use in having a false following of unengaged, unconcerned people who will never engage with you in an enriching way and never set foot in your establishment? Here are some actual, helpful tips – that when executed in a genuine fashion – can get your community growing:

1. Pick A User-Friendly User Name

If you’re going to be identified and recognized by your name, make sure your twitter handle is your name.  If you need to add in underscores or numbers due to your name being taken, do so at the end of the handle to ensure it’s still easily searchable and can auto-populate when people are mentioning and searching you.

2. Search For People To Follow

Searching for current and potential contacts and customers can be as easy as searching your business’s name or searching a hashtag with the airport code for your city (ie: #yqr = Regina).

3. Know the Lingo

Know it but don’t become a slave to it.  Maintain your own personality!

4. Know Who You’re Interacting With

Taking the time to read the bio and recent tweets of a person you’re replying to or striking up a conversation with can make the difference between a message that is remembered  and a message that is forgotten or received negatively.

5. Add Your Twitter Handle To All Signatures

Show your existing contacts that you’re on Twitter by including it at the end of email messages and putting it in your LinkedIn profile

6. Reach Out

We’ve heard of many reputable marketing and business people actually making a list of people they want to get to know on Twitter and taking an intentional approach to interacting with over time in order to build mutually beneficial relationships.  Try it.  Times are changing and people are more receptive to this kind of interaction.

7. Promote Others

Want to get your own tweets retweeted and encourage people to interact with you? There’s no better way to do so than to first help others out by answering their questions and spreading their value-laden work.  While doing so, make sure you don’t water down your content by relaying sub par, non-remarkable content.

8. Share Your Best Info

Value, value, value! Before hitting the tweet button, ask yourself if what you’re tweeting will be of any benefit to the people who will read it.  If it’s not funny, informative, or remarkable, think twice. If it’s only going to be of interest to a few people, consider tweeting it at them directly or choosing a different medium.

9. Practice Etiquette

Avoid correcting people’s grammar and trolling others. Err on the side of positivity. Negativity can get you unfollowed faster than Usain Bolt can complete his final 50 metres.

The Death of The Four Ps of Marketing

Death of the 4 P'sProduct, Price, Place, Promotion.  They’re dead.  Though I can’t take credit for their annihilation, John Jansch talked about it in The Referral Engine.  The 4 Ps is what you were taught in Marketing class in University five years ago, from the text book that was five years old, based on cases that were 10 years old.  Hell of an education it was!

The four Ps are dead, enter the four Cs:

Content, Context, Connection, Community

But first, the funeral.

Product

It’s no longer wise to focus a large portion of your time on your “Product”, as the Innovators Dilemma points out, companies rarely develop a  product on the first iteration, usually not even on the second adaptation but more likely on the third try.  Instead of focusing on the perfect product, develop your product quicker and seek out feedback on it faster than your competition.  If you know exactly what your target audience (community) wants (context), it will be much easier to provide them value (content).

Price

A wise man once said “If you think having the lower price in your industry is a good strategy, remember that someone is always willing to go broke faster than you.” That wise man was John Morgan, the author of Brand Against the Machine.  What he means is that if your one major advantage over your competition is price, you’re in trouble.  Pricing will continue to be a contested topic in business circles because of the ease of communication (one Tweet can notify thousands of other about an abnormally high or low price).  I can find out what anyone pays for just about every product imaginable with a few Google searches.

You must price your product or service in a reasonable range and be sure as hell you’re ready to justify it.  Negotiating contracts where the price far exceeds the value is a sure fire way to go out of business fast.  Deciding on your pricing shouldn’t be difficult as long as you’ve set up a strategy to garner the feedback from your customers and clients (community), and are willing to act upon their recommendations (connection).

Place

Location in the past may have been one of the most important factors in the success of your business.  Have a lot of foot traffic near by?  Your coffee shop will do well.  Do a lot of cars drive by your dealership?  Again, you used to benefit immensely.  But today, while doing most of your in depth product research at home on your iPad, location doesn’t mean as much as it used to.  Businesses that solely relied on their location for their success will face a major uphill battle against the kid in his basement selling the same product for the half price.

Promotion

Promotion is still relevant today but in a different context.  Thirty years ago you could blanket the population with your message and people would buy.  Today, it’s very difficult to saturate your message on the masses.  With an estimated 2,000-5,000 “brand” impressions every day it’s no wonder we have to ignore so much of the advertising.

The way promotion can work is to determine an audience that wants to hear your sales pitch for your new product and “wow” those people.  Blatant Promotion only works if it’s anticipated, pleasant, and something of value.

Simply advertising is more of an awareness tactic and very difficult to do effectively.  I’d suggest getting familiar with Chip and Dan Heath’s “Made to Stick”, so you can begin making advertising that is, Simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotion, stories.

So why are the four “C’s” the new marketing norm?  Let’s discuss.

Content

What are you creating specifically for your target clientele?  Is it original, real, and compelling?  Yes, I’m talking about that generic monthly newsletter you’ve been sending out, that’s potentially great content that can help sell your product or service.  All your outward facing communications are some form of content you’re in control of.  You can develop your own voice, your own style, your own company personality and optimize the way you communicate over time.

What’s your key talkable difference, your competitive advantage, your key differentiating factor?  If you’re just doing what everyone else is doing remember what Scott Ginsberg  said; “there are no cover bands in the rock n roll hall-of-fame.”

Example:  Nike produces some of the most amazing, original sports content in the world, see the star studded cast of their latest video series, The Kobe System.

NIKE: #KOBESYSTEM: LEVEL 6 BEASTION

Context

In what context do your target customers interact with your brand?  Are they searching for you?  Do they see your commercials on TV?  Do they look at youebsite?  Is your website a positive representation of your brand?  Is it easy to navigate?  Are your services easy to purchase?  Remember Mark Cuban’s Quote “Make your product easier to buy than your competition, or you will find your customers buying from them, not you.”

The context how how you represent your brand on and offline tells us a lot about how you treat us, your customers.

Example:  Redbull knows precisely how to communicate with their target audience, so much so that they even have a button on their home page titled “Holy Shit”Redbull Homepage.

See some of their videos here:

The Art of FLIGHT – snowboarding film trailer

Felix Baumgartner’s Test Jump – Red Bull Stratos

Red Bull Top Altitude: Valery Rozov Jumps From Himalaya Peak

Connection

If you shut down business tomorrow, would your customers miss you?  If not, you have a serious problem.  If you’re not making an emotion connection with your audience/customers it’ll be extremely simple for your competitors to undercut your price and steal away your customers.  Do you think Blockbuster was making an emotion connection with their clientele?  Do magazine publishers actually care about you, the reader, or are they just trying to maximize their advertising revenue?

Yes some industries are immune to needing to connect with their customers to survive, but if you can create a connection that’s more than transactional you have a major competitive advantage.

Example:  Mitch Joel of Twist Image (an Agency in Montreal) writes regularly on his blog, produces a Podcast every week and will answer you on Twitter when asked a question.  He’s humanized his agency and gained a lot of trust in by running his business this way.

Creating a connection doesn’t have to be creating a blog, podcast and monitoring Twitter 24/7.  If you ask Capital Ford in Regina, sometimes all it takes is one Tweet: Capital Ford helping on TwitterI think the Regina Police would agree that making a connection will exponentially grow long-term value.

Regina Police Tweet

Community

Who’s got your back?  Who would stick up for you when people post defamatory comments on your Facebook page?

If you’re not developing a community, a tribe, a following, a group of raving fans then you may have to go back to the drawing board.  If your product or service is really as good as you say it is, it shouldn’t be hard to tell a few people and have your message spread organically.  That, however, is much easier said than done.

Growing a mutually beneficial community around your brand isn’t an easy task but as with anything in life, doing the difficult work will pay off in a big way over time.  What does your “community” want?  A place where their voice is heard?  A forum to connect with like-minded individuals?  Maybe they just want the most up-to-date information on your area of expertise.  Whatever it is, the only way to find out is to begin to ask and try to help potential customers without trying to make a sale.  I’ll say it again if you missed it.  Help potential customers without trying to make a sale, engage them, seek feedback every step of the way and provide more value than you’re extracting from your tribe.

Example:  I have a paid subscription to SEOMoz software, I pay for tools to measure client websites more effectively.  They send out a monthly list to subscribers, of the ten top articles they’ve found over the past month and every single article is extremely valuable.  They also put out a video every Friday called White Board Friday, which usually consists of some advice or case study on how to improve your online presence.

Finally, a lot of the copy and writing on their site is done in a lighthearted, even funny way.  I really enjoy a website that makes a relatively boring experience just a little bit better with humor.

They’ve established a community that goes way beyond a simple transaction.

So you see, we’re living in a completely different marketing era.  What you did even five years ago may not be relevant today.  You must constantly be measuring to understand where to make your largest return on investment and conversely, where you should be readjusting your strategy to systematically rid your marketing mix of useless tactics.

Have an example of one of the four C’s?  We’d love to hear from you in the comments.