Millennial Migration: What Will Happen to Branded and Curated Content?

Millennial Migration: What Will Happen to Branded and Curated Content?

As I sat at my undergraduate graduation this past weekend, I saw hundreds of my peers taking photos, Instagramming, Snapchatting, and posting photos to other social media sites. A quick glance through my various social media timelines confirmed my suspicion. Their actions were not simply to capture memories but to share a change in their social status with the digital world.

For Millennials, the act of posting photos to social media is a chance for instant gratification. Quantified by likes and comments, memories have evolved far from the old shoebox in which my parents used to store 4×6 photo prints. With so much thought devoted to the caption and composition of each photo uploaded to social media, it is easy to understand why little thought is given to the future of said content.

Similar to the migration of downloaded music to streaming (this reference definitely labels me as a Millennial because I said “downloaded music”, and not CD’s), social media usage trends are bound to change with the demands of future generations. What will happen to all of the memories that my peers deposited on Facebook? Will they be lost forever when platform use declines? Will an entrepreneur charge to migrate and reformat digital content?

While I do not have immediate answers to the questions I posed above, I do foresee a major challenge for brands that invest heavily in their digital brand across the most popular social media platforms. Simply posting branded content and investing heavily in digital brand management is not enough as culture rapidly advances into an uncertain digital abyss. Millennials are known for varying heavily in preferences depending on the day and social climate.

Gen Y’s behavior is driven by an innate desire to stay in the know and on top of current trends. Shouldn’t brands and digital content producers do the same? It is important for brands to choose their digital investments wisely in the coming years as what is popular today may not be in six months.

It would be a shame for thousands of dollars of branded and curated digital content housed on social media platforms to be lost because of a brand’s inability to keep up with consumer trends and preferences. I’d suggest that brands and individuals refrain from investing all of their money and memories so heavily into just one or two social media platforms. It’s hard to tell a consistent story when the content that contributed greatly to the company’s advertising economies of scale is inaccessible or rarely viewed on an extinct platform.

For all of you social media and brand managers out there, heed this message: monitor your consumers’ media consumption habits and platforms, and be prepared to migrate curated and branded content from platform to platform. Afterall, it’s called brand management, not brand sit back and watch!

Garrett Meccariello is an aspiring brand strategist and researcher based out of NYC. In his free time he can be found building the next great brand, exploring the city, and eating a lot of cured meat and cheese.

Photo Credit

Millennial Minute: The Degradation of United’s Brand in 11 Memes

Millennial Minute: The Degradation of United’s Brand in 11 Memes

I had originally planned on writing an in depth piece covering the latest United Airlines fiasco, but it occurred to me that this situation calls for a visual representation of the degradation of their legacy airline brand. United is a hallmark example of a brand that has yet to understand millennial consumers. If this was observation was not evident when they banned two female teenage passengers from wearing leggings aboard a plane (on an award ticket), it has to be now.

I will not delve into the politics and practices of the airline, but will briefly touch upon their response to the latest explosive situation. Rather than getting ahead of the “internet” (referring to the trolls and meme lords) and issuing an authentic apology, the brand defended their gate agent’s decision and refused to budge on their corporate stance. In the short time following the incident, thousands of likes, shares, and comments were traded on social media platforms that placed the brand in an unflattering light. As if the brand hadn’t already faced issues with attracting millennial fliers, they managed to turn thousands of them into enemies overnight. Individuals who may have been considered passive or non-rejectors of the brand have been exposed to this brand-damaging content every time they scroll through their social media feeds. This exposure builds to create subconscious brand biases that ultimately influence consumer-buying behavior.

“Give the Internet a meme, and they’ll laugh for a day. Teach the Internet to utilize an open source template for creating and sharing memes, and they’ll laugh for a week.”

Take a look at the top memes below:

Garrett Meccariello is an aspiring brand strategist and researcher based out of NYC. In his free time he can be found building the next great brand, exploring the city, and eating a lot of cured meat and cheese.

Image Sources:
http://heavy.com/news/2017/04/united-airlines-doctor-chinese-passenger-video-removal-memes/8/
http://rollingout.com/2017/04/11/twitter-fire-brutal-unitedairlines-abuse-passenger/
http://www.evilmilk.com/pictures/United_Airlines_Memes.htm
http://knowyourmeme.com/photos/1241770-united-airlines-passenger-removal
http://heavy.com/news/2017/04/united-airlines-doctor-chinese-passenger-video-removal-memes/3/
http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-united-airlines-memes.php
https://me.me/i/when-you-successfully-make-it-on-the-united-plane-12687300
http://www.funniestmemes.com/funny-memes-i-made-a-new-logo-for-united-airlines/
https://me.me/t/maximum-overbork?s=new
http://www.evilmilk.com/pictures/United_Airlines_Memes.htm

Is Your Professional Brand Recession Proof?

Is Your Professional Brand Recession Proof?

In times of consistent month-after-market growth and near perfect employment (occurs when the unemployment rate is between 2-7%), professionals rarely think about how they will recruit clients in tough economic times. It is too late to start thinking about your business back up plan once a recession hits.

Personal and professional brands, similar to those of large corporations are susceptible to market slow downs. Whether you are a lawyer, doctor, or entrepreneur working on a side hustle, it is imperative that you strategize a plan B (or C) to prepare for a market downturn.

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Credit

When the market performs well, economists see increased levels of disposable income spent by consumers throughout the economy. Once leading indicators predict a slow down, news sources and pundits herald calls for recessionary spending cuts and budgeting. Unemployment levels will begin to rise simultaneously as companies and families cut back spending habits and the economy contracts.

What does this slowdown in personal consumption habits have to do with your side hustle or law practice you may ask? Simply put: when confidence in the market drops, discretionary consumer spending also drops.

Since the rise of the .COM boom in the early 2000’s, entrepreneurs have monetized the Internet, and capitalized on its benefits during economic slowdowns. Three simple digital marketing strategies below will add to your armamentarium to recession proof your personal or professional brand:

Content Marketing: It’s a free way to exhibit thought leadership and increase the authority of your personal or professional brand. If you aren’t able to convert clients or customers during their first experience with your brand, a consistent flow of content can help convert them sometime down the road.

PPC Advertising: Rather then spending money to attract business with traditional outbound marketing initiatives (while an individual is not in the market for your products or services), refocus your marketing budget towards inbound channels such as pay-per-click marketing on Google, Yahoo, or Bing (to quote a Millennial friend of mine, “Eww lol”). By targeting spending toward interested individuals when they are ready to purchase, you have the ability to ensure a higher ROI on your campaigns.

SEO: Inbound marketing efforts touch individuals in the research phase of the digital customer acquisition cycle. Enhancing one’s search engine optimization strategy will improve digital authority and entice individuals to click through to your website and engage with your products or service. The best part about SEO initiatives: they’re free!

Strategize your recessionary marketing plan today before it’s too late. During economic dips, turn your free time into a marketing asset that can boost and maintain your digital brand for your professional services or products. Discounting marketing and advertising initiatives during a recession can spell out the death of your brand. Do not, I repeat do not, fall victim to a slow down. Utilize your understanding of consumer behavior and economics to build out a robust, recession proof marketing plan that will keep your personal brand afloat in challenging economic times.

Garrett Meccariello is an aspiring brand strategist and researcher based out of NYC. In his free time he can be found building the next great brand, exploring the city, and eating a lot of cured meat and cheese.

Marketers, Agencies: Don’t Pass Over Millennials

Marketers, Agencies: Don’t Pass Over Millennials

As an aspiring brand strategist and researcher, I spend a lot of time trying to get into the heads of the “dreaded bunch”: darn Millennials with their insatiable demands, expanding minds, and lack of brand loyalty (often called nomadic). This crowd has a reputation of being a thorn in the side of brands of all sizes often leading to poorly planned brand executions. The solution is so obvious. So mind blowing, that it just might work. That’s right. I’m suggesting what most dread: hire them.

Incorporate Millennials into your culture. Encourage them to educate your staff. Most importantly, allow them to lead your company’s expansion and growth in the coming years. Millennials are often overlooked for mid-level job positions at agencies and client side companies due to a common perception held by older hiring managers who value experience. While some Millennials lack on the job experience, they may possess a native understanding of how their peers view marketing and advertising efforts and what it takes to uncover the deep seated insights that drive them. The best way to market to Gen Y is to have them quite literally market to themselves.

Some brands have understood this, however. The effort to include Millennials is displayed prominently on the digital front. Social media influencers saw a rapid expansion across multiple platforms such as Twitter, YouTube, & Instagram. These influencers, often peers, leverage their personalities and real life anecdotes to influence millennial purchase decisions by up to 20%-50%.

What happens when agencies and client side companies alike neglect refreshing their workforce with Millennials? They miss out. Take the example of Adidas. An independent filmmaker created a short spot that blew Adidas’s previous creative out of the water and attracted mass attention, without ever receiving a response from the brand’s communication department. Adidas missed out on a captivating piece of creative that combined a riveting story. This short story is one that draws an emotional response, as well as artistically showcasing the brand’s purpose. Take a look for yourself. Bravo, Eugene Merher!

Garrett Meccariello is an aspiring brand strategist based out of NYC. In his free time he can be found building the next great brand, exploring the city, and eating a lot of cured meat and cheese.

15 Free Marketing Resources for Startups & Small Businesses

15 Free Marketing Resources for Startups & Small Businesses

Stuck in a rut with your small business or startup’s marketing plan? Are you looking to boost your brand, web presence, or marketing initiatives? Check out my top 15 recommendations for online marketing resources guaranteed to drive traffic and brand exposure:

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Small Business Marketing HAS Changed. Cartoon by Mark Anderson.
  1. Build a Website, and a Good One Too! (Squarespace)
  2. How to Submit Your Website to Google (HubSpot)
  3. What Is Content Marketing? (Content Marketing Institute)
  4. How to Launch & Manage a Successful Blog in 2017 (HubSpot)
  5. An Introduction to Social Media Marketing: A Guide for Small Businesses (Social Media Today)
  6. How PPC Fits into Your Digital Marketing Strategy (Portent)
  7. What is Marketing ROI? (Explania)
  8. Update: How to Host a Kick-Ass Event (Eventbrite)
  9. 6 Steps to the Perfect Pitch (Entrepreneur)
  10. How To Network Like A Pro (Business Insider)
  11. How-to Create the Perfect Brand Partnership (Brands With Fans)
  12. Ten ways to build a brand for your small business (Marketing Donut)
  13. The Complete Guide to Building Your Personal Brand (Patel & Agius)*
  14. How To Build A Marketing Dream Team For Your Brand (Even If You Aren’t A Marketer) (Digital Marketer)
  15. Key Things to Look for in a Marketing Consultant (Chron)

I cannot stress enough how important it is for startup founders and small business owners alike to build and maintain their own personal brand separate from their entity. Often times, VC’s and other investors look for personal traits before making a significant capital contribution. If you would like to learn more about how your personal brand can impact investor’s decicisons, check out this article “5 Personality Traits Investors Look for in Entrepreneurs” by Entrepreneur.

Do you still have a marketing question, or are you looking for more guidance on building your company’s brand or digital marketing strategy? Feel free to get in touch with me here.

Garrett Meccariello is an aspiring brand strategist based out of NYC. In his free time he can be found building the next great brand, exploring the city, and eating a lot of cured meat and cheese.

3 Emerging Trends Disrupting the Advertising Agency Model in 2017

3 Emerging Trends Disrupting the Advertising Agency Model in 2017

Six. That’s the number of agencies that have asked me a variation on the question: “How
will the traditional advertising model change in the coming months?” during the employment application process.

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The answer to that question is: yes, it will, and in unexpected ways. The agency model will change because we live in the information era in which trends are born on news feeds and timelines. Social movements can sweep very rapidly from coast to coast with a single post. While there has been little change in the traditional agency model (shout-out to Grey Adventures for shaking up the model), consumers have broken through traditional social norms. These changing norms demand faster responses to their trends from brands and their marketing teams.

  • Legal Marijuana: Likely to be a big contender in 2017 with 4 states recently moving to legalize recreational use of the drug. So how are agencies going to adapt to this growing market opportunity? Will the traditional “big boy” agencies seek out marijuana dispensaries as clients side by side with their financial or pharmaceutical greats? Or will neighborhoods see an influx in new shops opening up that specialize in building (or planting) emerging marijuana brands without fear of the stigma that surrounds the industry? I foresee great market opportunities for creatives and strategists to break away from the more traditional, larger agencies and open their own specialty shops to capture the business of this soon to be 8 Billion Dollar per year industry.
  • Millennials: Yes, that’s right: the dreaded bunch (myself included). During a recent conversation with a senior marketing manager, our discussion turned from the familiar industry dialogue toward a more inquisitive one. The tone suggested that many marketers are unsure of what’s next with this generation. Millennials may not follow the same demographic and psychographic trends as we have seen with past generations, but they are fluid. They are exceedingly loyal and preferencial when it comes to brands, which further drives their demand for unique and individual experiences. I frequent brands that make me feel like I am an individual, unique from my peers, and not just a number on revenue reports. Ultimately, this means that agencies must tailor communications strategies to individuals, rather than setting demographics at a high, unfiltered level. Successful agencies will need to leverage CRM marketing initiatives and tailor copy to speak to the individual preferences within the consumer, not the wallet in their back pocket.
  • Disappearing Gender Norms: It’s timely that brands have finally made strides toward removing traditional gender norms from their products and marketing. Most notably, Cover Girl recently debuted its first ever Cover Boy. No longer is the company sticking to traditional social norms and avoiding cultural taboos. This company is making a statement that brands will begin to allow consumers to define the target demographics for their products. The trend of disappearing gender norms has spread to other personal care brands as well. Premium beauty care brands, such as the Art of Shaving & Kiehl’s, have led the charge targeting their marketing and products towards men as social stigmas regarding self-care have been destroyed. The emerging market of men’s beauty care and maintenance products will continue to drive entrepreneurial investment into new companies and extend existing traditional feminine product lines of dominant companies to men. The creative work published by agencies must match evolving consumer expectations rather than pushing traditional social norms onto the market. Consumers reported appreciating “real advertising” from brands, such as Bodyform, that don’t shy away from incorporating an unfiltered life into their creative work. This trend is likely to extend into male beauty care as disappearing gender norms convey to male consumers that it is ok to take the time and use products to enhance appearance.

These three trends are just a few of those posing an upset to the traditional agency model. With social trends and demographics changing at the blink of an eye, agencies must look within and ask themselves if they are fluid enough to adapt to these changes before other competing agencies swap out the traditional model (known for the lag time between creative ideation and execution). To all potential employers out there asking questions of their applicants, weigh the insights provided by Millennials and commit to adapting to new trends and changing the way your agency operates to stay relevant and competitive in this ever crowded marketplace that we will soon call 2017.

I would like to wish a Happy New Year to all of my readers, colleagues, family and friends. May we all adapt to changing times and charge into 2017 with innovative and open minds.

Garrett Meccariello is an aspiring brand strategist based out of NYC. In his free time he can be found building the next great brand, exploring the city, and eating a lot of cured meat and cheese.

Trader Joe’s Isn’t Always The Healthiest

Trader Joe’s Isn’t Always The Healthiest

The clock strikes five. I’ve just finished a day’s worth of class lectures interspersed with some brand consulting work, and I’m starving. I open my freezer and reach for the first thing I see: Trader Joe’s Frozen Gnocchi al Gorgonzola, a quick ready-made meal purchased from my local store. When I bought the 16 oz. package, it was just one item in a basket filled with organic vegetables, antibiotic free chicken, and gluten free rice crisps intended to take the load off of preparing a meal on the busiest day of the week.

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I would describe the dish as being rich, filling and delicious, but not healthy. Dang nabbit, I fell for it again: their clever brand centric marketing. This time, however, I wasn’t the only one who fell for the delusion that all of the products inside the hip urban grocery store were good for my diet.

Trader Joe’s, a privately held grocery chain with over 455 domestic locations, prides itself on high quality and private label offerings. The fact that the company controls nearly all of its entire horizontal and vertical supply chain ensures delivery of quality ingredients to consumers at a significant price discount compared with Whole Foods, a direct competitor.

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Trader Joe’s private label food brands

In a recent qualitative study by iModerate Research Technologies (see the full study here), consumers listed Trader Joe’s top benefit as having “healthy”, “organic” offerings. Batter me up and deep-fry me! Did consumers (like me) perceive that a majority of the product offerings were healthy, when in reality they weren’t? Why yes. Yes we did.

http://www.prweb.com/releases/grocery-brands-research/traderjoes-vs-wholefoods/prweb13045722.htm
New iModerate Study Reveals Differing Perceptions of Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods (Courtesy of iModerate)

Trader Joe’s pioneered the specialty food store space by offering high quality ingredients not available at typical grocery stores. The frozen meal options are attractive to millennials shopping on a budget for ready-made meals holding the belief that the pre-made food won’t completely ruin their diets. The product offering meets this demand, except for one little problem: the macro ingredients used in some of their frozen meals aren’t healthier just because they come from Trader Joe’s when compared to their name brand competitors.

Alongside the freezer chests full of fresh-frozen vegetables and unseasoned brown rice sit diet landmines such as corn dogs, fried macaroni and cheese bites, and General Tso’s chicken. These products share the same packaging style and design as their healthy counterparts, but they are no healthier than the traditional offerings in the freezer aisle of any other local grocery store.

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Trader Joe’s Fried Mac and Cheese Bites

During my first few trips, I’ll admit that I was convinced that a bag of cheesy pasta had to be healthier from Trader Joe’s than from Stop & Shop. In reality, I was confusing the benefits of certain product lines, such as their Trader Joe’s brand frozen vegetables without additives or preservatives, with the entire store’s offering. The lack of doors in the freezer and refrigerated section replicates the allure of a farm stand in which the consumer reaches directly into the bin and selects a specific product. I encourage all of my readers to shop at a Trader Joe’s’ sometime in the near future. You will be amazed at how simple packaging and marketing initiatives can create the impression of a healthy product when in reality the ingredients are the same if not worse for your health.

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Trader Joe’s Frozen Display Cases

So buyers take heed. When shopping at any supermarket, be aware of a product’s ingredients and nutritional information. Marketers are involved from product conception right up until the moment of purchase (and even post-purchase, too!) Marketers cleverly influence buying decisions and perception. If it seems to be true that fried macaroni and cheese bites are “healthy”, it probably is too good to be true.

Garrett Meccariello is an aspiring brand manager based out of NYC. In his free time he can be found building the next great brand, exploring the city, and eating a lot of cured meat and cheese.

Your Toddler Is A Walking, Talking Advertisement

Your Toddler Is A Walking, Talking Advertisement

This past weekend I was very fortunate to spend time with my entire family at the Connecticut shore. I was surrounded by aunts, uncles, cousins, & grandparents. Everyone under the sun in my family was there… including the youngest members, the toddlers.

My first foray into entertaining young children turned out to be a fantastic time in the sand for them, and an even better continuing education advertising moment for me!
We’ve heard the rumors that supermarkets place sugary products marketed towards children at their eye level. Let me tell you a little advertising secret: those rumors are true. Little did I know that young children’s exposure to brands is not limited solely to supermarket aisles. One of my relatives asked my youngest cousin to sit still while she applied sunscreen to her back. Without missing a beat, the first words out of the toddler’s mouth were “if it’s not Banana Boat, I don’t want it”.
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Whoa. Hold on for one second. Was that a brand name and a small moment of brand loyalty that just came out of a toddlers mouth? Why yes. Yes, it was.
I thought loyalty just applied to fast food chains, sugary products, and flashy toys. There is actually a deeper tactic that marketers use to sell products to toddlers.
Think about it. A three year old can’t walk into a McDonald’s to pay for a own meal without parental assistance. Why is it that children recognize the golden arches before understanding their own name? The answer starts with segmenting target audiences and target markets.
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The target market is a demographic tool that explains who is purchasing the product. The target audience is the segmented group to which the advertisements are geared. This practice is often called influencer marketing in which one person influences the purchasing decision of another person. The influencer can be friends, celebrities, or even children! Advertisements encourage children to ask their parents to purchase products by name on their behalf.
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Target Market vs. Target Audience
Advertisers and marketers work hard to define their target audience and understand what makes them tick. This strategy is used when  developing a creative campaign that often targets our children without adults even noticing. That is until they roll and scream on the floor for candy (see here for a laugh)!
Garrett Meccariello is an aspiring brand manager based out of NYC. In his free time he can be found building the next great brand, exploring the city, and eating a lot of cured meat and cheese.