Hot Dog Marketing

While we always try to have informative and engaging speakers for our quarterly Lunch & Learns, we certainly received a bonus in the local celebrity of Hot Dog Mike (@hotdog_mike). In continuing with our theme of True Confessions – Real Life Stories of Marketers in the Digital Age, Mike had the daunting task of addressing our fourth marketing point – Something Blue.

No, he was not going to talk to attendees about anything that was particularly depressing.  Instead, he was going to share his experiences using social media (Facebook  and Twitter) to promote and grow his business. How is this something blue?  You see, both Facebook and Twitter icons are blue in color.

Any good marketer knows that one of the first rules of engagement is Know Thy Audience.  In other words, who fits your demographic  profile?  When posed with that question, interestingly enough, Hot Dog Mike responded, “My demographic is shockingly, everybody.”  Man, woman, child.  Politicians, lawyers, musicians, student, librarian, police officer.  You name it, they (we) all gotta eat, right?

So how and why did he use social media to engage with this vast demographic audience?  Surprisingly, in the beginning, Mike wasn’t a big fan of social media.  But he did realize that in order to promote his product (in other words, he needed to market), he had to use a mechanism to help spread the word about what he was all about. And social media tools fit that need. 

Takeaway point – communicate your message using the tools that your target audience prefers to use.

Mike also realized that social media was an excellent tool to use for listening to his prospects, and his potential audience. And because it is a conversation, a dialogue, Mike used this tool to engage with his audience. 

Takeaway point – A successful marketer must use available channels to engage, interact, and react with his or her audience.

After establishing his internet presence using Facebook and Twitter, Mike began using these tools in a manner that fit his personality.  Yes, he is certainly about food, but he is also about his community, and he was looking for ways to incorporate ways to use his food truck to give back to the community. Again, his engagement with his audience allowed him to achieve these objectives.  Mike explains “my brand is me,” so all things related to social marketing are handled by Mike himself.  That way he is certain that it has his look, his voice, his feel.

Takeaway point – In matters of social media marketing, be yourself. Be transparent.  People generally prefer to engage with a person as opposed to a brand.

So there you have it, marketers in today’s digital age continue to use Something Old (direct mail), Something New (QR codes, pURLS), Something Borrowed (communications) and Something Blue (social media) in a variety of ways to ensure their success.  Cross media and multi-channel marketing tools provide for more effective ways to help you Market Smarter.


Paul Strack, CustomXM


True Confessions – Something new for Better Beginnings

Continuing our recap of True Confessions exposed during our Lunch & Learn held September 29th, it’s time to hear about Something New.  And how appropriate it was for to hear from that sharp, young up-and-comer from  The Communications Group, Jason Brown (@JBrown935). Jason spoke to the audience on how Something New – QR codes, personalized URLs (pURLs) and microsites helped his client educate childcare providers about the resources now available from  the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS).

DHS was participating in the Arkansas Early Childhood Association Conference. Their goal was to introduce “Better Beginnings,” the new Quality Rating Improvement System for childcare providers.

Jason explained that his client desired a campaign that would:

  • Drive conference attendees to the DHS booth for the purpose of introducing the new childcare rating system
  • Assist in educating attendees about online resources that are available to assist them in meeting Federal Standards for childcare providers
  • Gather valuable data about attendees’ knowledge and awareness of the new regulations through a list of survey questions.

Takeaway point:  Before embarking on any marketing campaign, clearly identify its objectives.

To help achieve these objectives, 900 cards were distributed to all attendees. These cards included both a QR code and a unique URL that encouraged respondents to visit a microsite to learn more about the DHS program. An additional option of taking the card to the trade show booth was offered as well.

Takeaway point: Always include multiple response mechanisms to make it convenient for your target audience to respond.

To encourage participation on the online survey, a prize was offered to all who completed the survey and redeemed the resulting coupon at the tradeshow booth.  All participants who entered received a note pad and were included in a drawing for one of four iPod shuffles. The response was quite overwhelming – over 280 people completed the survey and visited the DHS booth during the tradeshow.

Takeaway point: People like to get stuff – no matter how small.  Give people an incentive to respond to your call for action.  And then reward them for doing so.

Jason explained that not only was this campaign successful based upon the objectives outlined above, it proved valuable for obtaining additional information that will be used in future educational outreaches to childcare providers.

So, as True Confessions in the marketing world continue to evolve, don’t be afraid to try something new.

Next up, Hot Dog Mike shows his success with Something Blue.


Paul Strack, CustomXM


True Confessions – That Dinosaur will Hunt

We recently hosted our quarterly Lunch & Learn, and as always, the speakers and topics provided a cornucopia of marketing morsels.  Titled True Confessions – Real Life Stories of Marketers in the Digital Age, it actually turned out to be more of a something old, something new, something borrowed & something blue– type event.

All in attendance seemed to be in agreement that marketing communications – the art of telling a story, promoting a product – is certainly an activity that is borrowed.  It’s nothing new really.  It’s just that now, there are so many more techniques available that allow us to be more effective in how we do it.

Brian Bush of Stephens Inc. opened the presentations with the discussion of something old.  And no, it had nothing to do with Brian himself.  Brian told the story of how Direct Mail, that dinosaur of direct marketing, is leading to success with his target market.  Here are some of the nuggets he shared:

  • Because of its strong brand awareness, Stephens has never really felt the need for a direct marketing campaign.  So this direct mail approach was certainly a new endeavor.
  • Along these same lines, because of the Stephens brand and image, Brian said that many investors believed that they did not possess the wealth necessary to be worthy of being a Stephens’ client.  Takeaway point: There is often a disconnect between how you perceive your brand, and how prospects perceive your brand.
  • Brian also shared that the first approach to the carefully selected database was a direct mail campaign that drive respondents to landing pages (pURL campaign).  While it did have some success, more respondents preferred to contact Brian via phone or email, rather than online. Takeaway point: Know your audience and learn how they prefer to communicate.  Today’s marketing tools allow you to do that quite effectively.
  • Because of the lack of response to the actual PURL campaign, that particular response mechanism was eliminated in future mailings.  Takeaway point: Measure your results, not only to repeat methods that are successful, but to eliminate those that are not.
  • Finally, Brian touched briefly on the design aspect of the marketing pieces.  While a flashy, engaging, even humorous approach was briefly considered, it was decided to use a more corporate conservative approach.  In today’s volatile stock market environment, an even-keeled, serious tone is more effective.

Or, to put it another way, Greg Henderson (@jgreghenderson), summarized this takeaway point best with a tweet:  Old rich guys do not like color on their mail.

So while some may consider direct mail to be a dinosaur of available marketing channels, for Brian Bush and Stephens Inc., it still is causing folks to take notice, and react.  And that is what good marketing does.

Up next in our True Confession series, we will learn how Jason Brown (@jbrown935) of The Communications Group used something new to attract attendees to its client’s trade show booth.


Paul Strack, CustomXM