5 Things Marketers Should Do Now to Prepare for Google+ Business Pages

Screenshot of Ford Motor Company's Google+ page

Everyone is talking about Google+. Is it going to kill Facebook? Is it going to kill Twitter? When will businesses be allowed on Google+?

As a marketer or community manager, you’ve built up followings and relationships on Facebook, Twitter and more. Maybe you’re afraid that will all come crumbling down, or you’re exhausted at the thought of having another social media channel to manage.

What should you do?

1. Don’t panic!

Luckily for businesses, Google didn’t have business pages ready to go. Yes, I said luckily. I know it was ugly when Google started evicting brands from their new Google+ pages, but this was actually a good thing. You now have time to learn before you leap.

2. Get familiar with personal page functions now.

Create a personal Google+ page, and have people on your team do the same. Test out the features and talk about what features your audience seems to be using most. Notice that you can also use these features for business purposes:

  • Circles – You have time now to name your circles thoughtfully, so do that. Plan out how you want to segment people you follow and people who follow you. Now you can follow back customers and separate their stream of posts from other streams. You’ll be able to segment your messages and send out more targeted info and promotions.
  • Hangouts – Video chat with your team and test out potential customer service uses. Role play and practice potential scenarios so you’ll be able to experiment and prepare away from the public eye. Even better, test out Hangouts as an informal focus group tool. You’ll have a chance to get small groups together and chat with them on a regular basis. (Remember this also when naming your circles.)
  • Huddle – Test crisis response. Huddle allows you to text as a group, as you would talk as a group in a conference call. A perfect scenario for using this function is any sort of emergency. For example, you have a public relations nightmare brewing and it’s after hours. You need to get your team together quickly and share messaging. You can do it by text. Get comfortable using Huddle now so you don’t have to fumble around when speed of reaction is crucial.

Start brainstorming now on all fronts, so you’ll be ready to implement once Google+ brand pages become open to you.

3. Stay up to date on business beta pages.

Follow Ford Motor Company, who is one of the first brands to have a Google+ page. Read everything you can about Google+ business pages. And, if you can get in on the beta phase do so.

4. Pay more attention to your Twitter and Facebook followers.

What are they saying about Google+? Are your follows and likes decreasing or are they still increasing? Poll Facebook and Twitter users in your streams who are also using Google+. Get their thoughts on what they want to see from brands there.

5. Start working on your Google+ page now.

How will you migrate followers and information from other social channels? How will you integrate your marketing efforts? Get photos ready to display and videos ready to load. Have an editorial plan ready to go.

Yes, you may have to make changes once the final version of Google+ business pages is released, but you will already be ahead of the game, instead of at square one.

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I just started on Google+ too, so if you want to connect with me there, follow this link. We can keep talking there about how to use this new social media channel to engage with your audience. 

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Boomer or Bust? Toyota Rolls Out a New Venza Campaign

Toyota Venza has finally decided to put all its advertising eggs in one basket—the Boomer generation. (Buick might want to take note).

When Venza first came out, Toyota tried to market the vehicle to both younger and older audiences. But Toyota already has Scion to handle the youngest audience, and the Venza is a bit stationwagony. It’s nice to see a company fix a mistake after faltering.

Now, this new campaign, from Saatchi & Saatchi LA, drives a straighter road, flipping the relationship between Gen Y and their Boomer parents. This snippet from Toyota’s YouTube channel sums up the general theme:

It’s the middle of the day — do you know where your boomer parents are? When they have a Toyota Venza, boomers are anywhere but home. Visit http://www.toyota.com/venza to learn how Venza helps you keep on rolling.

Keep on Rolling is the Venza tagline. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it when I saw the print ad (below). But my interest was piqued to look further into this campaign.

Copy of Venza print ad

When I first saw the ad, I thought two things:

  1. Great copy. “Four out of five Venza owners were too busy to answer our survey.” Plays off of other types of ads and is driven home some by the photo below it.
  2. Who is this ad targeting? The mountain bikes and the tire rims suggest younger. But the still clean, shiny white car suggests something else.

Then I noticed the TV ads, with a little prompting from a friend who asked me if I had seen them and thought they would make a good topic for my blog. (Thanks, Nancy!)

The TV commercials clarify who the target audience is pretty quickly, and the Keep on Rolling tagline makes much more sense. Here’s the first one I saw, called “Social Network”:

All of the Venza commercials take this same approach—a slyly funny poke at stereotypes younger generations and advertisers have of the older Boomer generation.

Toyota is smartly going after a generation that feels left out of most brands’ advertising. The huge positive here is that not only is Toyota advertising to Boomers, but they are showing this older population in a very positive light.

Smart move, statistically. Numbering more than 79 million, Boomers are the largest group of consumers, and they are much more active than many advertisers seem to think.

The best statistic of all? Consumers 50 and older spent more on cars last year as compared with those under age 50. (Source)

The biggest mistake I see Toyota making with this is something I complimented Jeep for doing well in its Cherokee ads—reusing content from one commercial to another.

Maybe it’s the people in Toyota’s ads that make the content reuse too obvious. I know my first response to seeing this second ad (below) was “Hey, those are the same people and that’s the same footage…lame.”

What do you think? Am I being too harsh?

You can find all the Venza commercials on Toyota’s YouTube channel or you can view them below. Check them out and let me know what you think.

Will the campaign work? Could they have done something even better?

Notice the Cross Country and Messages commercials share footage too. I don’t think it works well in these either. But I do still think this is a fresh and solid campaign that’s a step in the right direction.

Cross Country

Messages

Commute

5 reasons the new Heineken Light campaign falls flat

Man in snakeskin jacket ordering two beersHeineken Light is getting a lot of press lately for round two of their ad campaign. But I don’t have high hopes for it, do you? (If you haven’t seen the commercial yet, watch it here.)

Their “Be a Man of the World” campaign (according to their press release): “celebrates consumers and their ‘occasionally perfect’ experiences. While every occasion is not right for Heineken Light, the beer is a perfect fit for those situations that call for something a little more unique, special and upscale.”

Reasons this won’t work are easy to come by:

  1. What does “Be a Man of the World” remind you of? You don’t even need to see their man in a snakeskin jacket to guess that this seems like a ripoff of Dos Equis’ “The Most Interesting Man in the World.
  2. “Occasionally perfect” is a horrible tagline. Why? Because it needs context to be understood correctly. When the average person hears “occasionally perfect,” they equate that to “every once in a while we get things right.” When you see the ad, you know Heineken means to say that their beer is not for every occasion, but is perfect for many.
  3. The light beer market is a difficult one for premium beers, and lately sales have been dropping for standard light beers as well.
  4. Craft beers are hot and growing hotter. The craft brewing industry grew in 2010 at least 11% by volume and 12% by dollars, while overall, U.S. beer sales were down an estimated 1% by volume in 2010 and 2.2% in 2009. (Source)
  5. Last, but not least, Heineken Light got a D+ from Beer Advocate. If it doesn’t taste good, no one’s going to buy it.

What’s the solution? Well, the taste problem is going to be hard to overcome. But I think Heineken Light, and other premium light beers, could make headway if they advertised to women.

Right now, Heineken is trying to sell their usual male audience on a cut in calories and a cut in alcohol content. Sorry men, but in advertising, promoting responsibility usually relates more with women than with men.

Also, women are the forgotten market when it comes to alcohol advertising. I mean, we drink too, so why not follow Jack Daniels’ lead and go after female purchasers?

Hey, it’s either that or drop the price. And I don’t think Heineken is looking to make that move. Premium beers get a premium price—otherwise they wouldn’t be called premium, right?

Movie madness: Captain America missed its perfect release date

Captain America ShieldYou don’t have to be an advertising genius or even in marketing at all to know the answer to this question:

What weekend is the perfect weekend to release a movie called “Captain America”?

Did you say July 22? Of course you didn’t, but that is when Captain America is coming out. We don’t need Captain Obvious to point out what a mistake that is.

How could the producers not release this movie on July 4th? There is no better weekend marketing-wise. The producers have millions of dollars (more even) of subliminal advertising at their disposal for FREE.

No other weekend has as many mentions of the USA or has as many people dressing in red, white and blue. Flags are flying, people are singing patriotic songs and saluting war heroes at thousands of parades. Gee, how do you think they’d respond to a movie with America in the title?

Of the people who went to the movies over 4th of July weekend, millions of them probably would’ve chosen Captain America over any other blockbuster that’s out. Yes, even Transformers 3 (which, by the way, came out June 29—a Wednesday).

Did Independence Day come out on July 22? No, it came out on Independence Day weekend. The Patriot and even Coming to America chose July 4th.

Captain America missed its perfect release spot. Why?

The practical (maybe political) answer is that Transformers 3 was produced and distributed by Paramount Pictures. Captain America is only being distributed by Paramount (produced by Marvel Enterprises).

Maybe Paramount did lay claim to the spot and wasn’t willing to compromise. But, I think if you don’t release Captain America on America’s #1 holiday, you might as well say “our movie is crap.”

I guess we’ll see. What do you think?

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I hope you all enjoyed your holiday weekend. If you’re interested, here’s a list of movies that came out July 4th weekend.