About M/C/C Contributors

M/C/C creates the right mix of communications for today’s audience – from traditional advertising and public relations to highly interactive digital communications, engaging social media and powerful search engine optimization. With such a broad range of communication services, it’s easy to think of M/C/C as the big agency that does. With the passion of the little agency that could.

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The Most Unexpected Thing Yule See this Christmas

Indulge me while I run through my M/C/C bucket list. Let’s see…

Create a stop-motion production using Post-its and office supplies? Check.
Build a 4,287-piece Lego set? Check.
Work with my 5-year-old on an award-winning project? Check.
Reimagine a scene from “The Shawshank Redemption”? Check.
Film a comedy-slash-horror spoof with Santa Claus as the unexpected antagonist?

Santa Sleigher Movie PosterAt M/C/C, our mantra is “Living the Unexpected.” It’s a phrase embedded in our agency culture. We’re the fish swimming upstream. We eat snow cones in December. We wear white after Labor Day. And, on occasion, we turn Santa into a not-so-jolly soul hell-bent on righting the injustices of being obnoxiously nice. We call our annual holiday greeting “Santa Sleigher.” 

I’m not going to sugarcoat this Christmas cookie for you. Santa Sleigher is polarizing. Some will love it, while others will sharpen their pitchforks and light their torches. But before you storm the M/C/C castle, know this: for a three-week production window, laughter filled these halls. We laughed as Todd Brashear ran around the office in full Claus regalia. We laughed as our old friend Peter Nutovsky returned for a small cannibalistic cameo. We laughed as we lowered our tree on top of sweet Ellen. And we all laughed at our not-quite-average acting ability.

“Santa Sleigher” isn’t for everyone (especially not my 5-year-old), but it’s definitely for us. Warmest wishes from everyone at M/C/C!

 

Practicing What We Preach: Leveraging Research To Drive Business Forward

1015-3If you know one thing about M/C/C, it’s probably the value we put on research. Understanding internal and market perspectives and the gaps between them are invaluable to developing a marketing strategy. So, it’s only appropriate – natural, really – that M/C/C performs some research on itself from time to time. Day in and day out, we need to deliver against our clients’ business objectives and their personal expectations of us, their marketing agency.

Over the last couple of months, M/C/C embarked on its own research study to reset its understanding on what marketers – our clients and prospects – find important and value most. Understanding this perspective should help keep our existing relationships healthy and impact our approach to reaching and securing new clients.

M/C/C polled marketers on a variety of subjects, such as:

  • Importance and priority of decision-making attributes
  • Current pain points and marketing issues
  • Qualities of an ideal agency

The results shouldn’t really whip our heads back. Hopefully the results will just help confirm what we already believe to be true and be in sync with our current approach to managing and building new relationships. Let’s take a look.

Continue reading “Practicing What We Preach: Leveraging Research To Drive Business Forward” »

A Drone Here, Some Augmented Reality There and Other Future Video Expectations

Most frequent fliers like the aisle seat. A little more elbow room. Higher ceiling. Slightly faster exit. Not me, though. Give me the window. I’ve seen this world from the ground level. I want to experience it as the birds do. I’ve seen buildings at ground level. I’ll gladly trade claustrophobia for the chance to witness the ascension above the tallest skyscrapers. It’s a vantage point I don’t get to experience every day. That same sentiment creeps into the creative world.

Simply put, humans like experiencing new things. We laugh hardest at jokes we’ve never heard before. Our taste buds awaken with savory spices. And our ears perk up at descriptors like “rare” and “never-before-seen.” When I look at video production, new experiences are shaping success. Audiences have grown tired of the same old camera angles and content. They long for techniques like first person point-of-views, aerial glances and slow motion to keep their attention. When used appropriately, these production methods transform good productions into great ones. It’s changing the way we see our world, and it’s altering the expectations for future creative projects.

What does the future look like? I’m not entirely certain. Maybe flying cars. Hoverboards. Some Nikes that lace themselves up. The future of video can be just as difficult to predict, but one thing is certain: tripods? Where we’re going, we don’t need tripods.

Continue reading “A Drone Here, Some Augmented Reality There and Other Future Video Expectations” »

Infant or Superhero Status: What’s Your Social Marketing Maturity Level?

As a marketing discipline, social media has reached its challenging teenage years. In terms of strategy, it’s not so young that anything goes. While there are new channels popping up constantly and experimentation is always encouraged, there are established best practices for both B2B and B2C brands. At the same time, it isn’t as seasoned by time as a discipline like traditional public relations.

For most marketers, there are well-respected guidelines about how, where, when and why PR should be brought into the mix. When it comes to social media as a marketing tool, many brands have worked through the awkward junior high years of defining their social identity. Yet while 92-percent of marketers reported in a Social Media Examiner survey that social media is important to their businesses, many are still trying to grow their social media practices into sophisticated, functioning resources of their organizations.

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Recently, Meltwater and Forrester hosted a webinar on using social insights to drive business results. In it, researcher and presenter Samantha Nao advocated for investing time and resources into gleaning actionable nuggets from social data. A brand’s entry in the social media world begins when its presence is established on strategically chosen channels and a strategy for activity is defined. But following birth, there is a maturation process from, “Hi! This is our first tweet!” to gathering insights and turning them into business recommendations that can impact operations, customer service, leads and more. Likening the scale to achievements in mobility, Forrester proposes that marketers move along a social intelligence maturity scale from crawling like baby to soaring like Superman.

Here’s how to assess where you’d fit in:

  1. Crawl Stage – The crawl stage is where it all begins. In this phase, marketers are active on their own social media channels and are monitoring topics related to their businesses. They are listening to social media conversations taking place with them, about them, about competitors and about an industry; but they’re not going beyond that. It’s an awareness phase.
  2. Walk Stage – In the walk phase, marketers are taking customer insights and validating them through social data. This could mean taking a hypothesis from the sales team about the most important factor in a purchasing decision and using social data to prove or disprove that. The walk phase is similar to market research.
  3. Run Stage – When you’re ready to run, it’s time to start combining social and traditional customer data through dashboards, scorecards or custom metrics.
  4. Fly Stage – The business value of social media intelligence really takes flight when an organization has advanced to the point of integration. The flying stage includes integrating social and traditional customer data in the customer database through social listening, appending existing records or collecting social information through opt-ins.

Forrester found that most marketers fall into the crawl or walking phases, while only 6 percent have matured to superhero status. Just like in life, everyone starts out on the floor; but at M/C/C, we are experts in helping our clients run the most sophisticated marketing programs.

These are some of our tips for developing your social marketing maturity and getting the most value from social data.

  1. Bring other groups outside of marketing in to join the analysis process of social insights. Collaboration between social marketing, customer service and sales teams can be particularly fruitful for B2B businesses. For example, if you are a data center colocation service provider that has the most engagement on content with a financial industry focus, that could serve as a clue for the sales team to pursue financial leads more aggressively or even elevate that effective content to them through a more personal channel such as email.
  2. Feed recommendations from social insights into real-world operations changes. An example of this could be for a national home auction solution provider who has long established geographic markets flagged as having the highest demand. If a high amount of interest and activity from users in a geographic area that has appeared dormant outside of the engaged social media community, then reconsidering the way properties in that area are organized and presented online could result in a thriving new market and higher number of bids.
  3. Finally, if you want to fly, the key is to make the match between social user names across multiple platforms with the best corresponding record in your customer database. Remember that only 6 percent of marketers are currently doing this. From here you can really begin to document your customer’s pain points and know what is relevant to them.

Don’t be like Peter Pan. It’s time to grow up in social media, and we’re here to help.

Only Seven Months In, “Year of Social Advertising” Doesn’t Disappoint

At the end of every year, marketers gather ‘round in Facebook groups, Twitter chats or comment chains on agency blogs to make predictions about changes afoot in the coming months. Topping the trend lists for 2015 were content marketing as an integrated, company-wide strategy, like Kevin has written about before, and the shift in allocation of digital marketing budgets from primarily social media management and monitoring to paid advertising on social media platforms.

Social AdvertisingIn fact, a study done in partnership between Adobe and the CMO Council found that 53 percent of senior marketers are currently spending part of their digital dollars on social media community growth and engagement. If you’re reading this, that’s probably not news to you. It’s likely that you’re part of the 53 percent. But if you’re also a frequent purveyor of M/C/C’s marketing intel for marketing experts, then you’re well aware that organic community growth and engagement on the largest and most traditional social platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, has plateaued and very quickly – like as quickly as you can say, “I-P-O!” – and has become a pay-to-play game.

As a proud Facebook account holder circa September 2004 and an early adopter when it comes to social media (Hello, Ello!), I have two reads on this paradigm shift. The bad news: the best things in life aren’t free, after all. The good news: they’re pretty darn affordable, though! We’ve been strategically planning and implementing paid social media campaigns for a variety of B2B and B2C clients using Facebook and Twitter’s self-serve platforms for more than a year now, and have seen incredible results in every case – including our own.

We’ve implemented unique campaigns with individual messaging to support separate goals such as growing a Facebook page with the right fans during the discovery phase of the funnel and then nurturing the acquisitions with promoted posts during the consideration phase. As long as we’re targeting correctly, these social communities are built of prospective customers whose interests align with our clients’ product and service offerings at every step of the way. Where one client’s average spend on converting a lead through online advertising could swing north of $40, our targeted social media ads were able to get our messaging in front of them for a mere $0.25 a pop.

That’s not to say that one program should be scrapped in favor of the other. On the contrary, they are great complements to each other when running in tandem, work to establish brand consistency and strive to achieve the greatest action that a prospect can make based on the situation and environment in which they’re viewing each type of ad.

With costs as low as a quarter per action, it could be hard to believe that the CMO Council cites eMarketer as uncovering that worldwide social network ad spending reached $16.10 billion last year marking a 45.3 percent increase over 2013. Just to recap – that’s the spending number before we officially entered the year of social advertising! Now that we’re six months in, I bet you’re curious to hear about what we’ve seen so far on that front.

Continue reading “Only Seven Months In, “Year of Social Advertising” Doesn’t Disappoint” »

Crime, Corruption and Advertisers: How Big Brands Got Roped Into the FIFA Scandal

There are those that hate soccer; and there those that hate the term “soccer” because it’s referred to as “football” in every country except America. If you fall in the latter category, you probably love The Beautiful Game on a level few locals can comprehend. Drogba, Messi and Ronaldo are household names. And if you’re not familiar with those legends, don’t worry. This isn’t an article about soccer. I promise. You gave up the sport in second grade after taking a corner kick to the face, and I want to respect that.

This is about FIFA — an organization so blatantly corrupt that one executive was using kickbacks (pun intended) to house his ornery cats in a $6,000-per-month Trump Tower suite. It’s about an organization so powerful that it has countries fighting over the right to host a global event that spirals the lucky winner’s economy into cataclysmic turmoil. It’s about an organization so dominant that media partners and global advertisers routinely overlooked the corruption and human rights violations  surrounding the world’s biggest, single sporting event. It’s about an organization’s 20-plus years of thousand-dollar handshakes, bribery and embezzlement finally coming to a head, courtesy of the one country that doesn’t care enough about soccer to call it “football.”

Whatever side of the pitch (or soccer field for you bloody Americans) you stand on, you can’t deny the great theater being played out on the global stage. The U.S. Justice Department recently laid the hammer down on FIFA executives while several were holed up in a five-star Swiss hotel (fitting). This move left those not publicly targeted, such as FIFA’s then-President Sepp Blatter, looking over their shoulders. It also left every one of FIFA’s sponsors extremely vulnerable. For this instance, let’s focus on those FIFA Partners.

Caught in the crossfire were some of the world’s top brands: Adidas, Budweiser, Coca-Cola, Hyundai, McDonald’s and Visa. They remained quiet. They assessed. They made vague statements. Carefully worded phrases like, “We are deeply concerned,” and, “We continue to closely monitor the situation,” accompanied the headlines. Public Relations 101.

Look, I get it. You can’t just stand up and say, “You know, we want to see which way the wind blows before we make up our minds on where to stand on this issue.” But this is FIFA, the slumlord of the sports world. What about Common Sense 101? Here was your chance to be a hero. This was your moment to say to the public, “We do not agree with and demand reform from an organization that has been tied to human rights violations and bribery in Qatar.” Never has there been a better opportunity to scorch the earth. Sponsors are among the handful that can actually hold organizations accountable, and the closest we got was Visa saying:

“We expect FIFA to take swift and immediate steps to address these issues within its organization” and “should FIFA fail to do so, we have informed them that we will reassess our sponsorship.”

While it was welcomed, it wasn’t enough. The Internet vigilantes wanted justice.

Shortly thereafter, a slew of creative artists called out FIFA sponsors with reimagined logos and taglines. Each interpretation depicted the company’s public identity with slavery overtones, shining a light onto the migrant labor deaths caused by building World Cup infrastructure for the 2022 event previously awarded to Qatar. Each image was a small stain on your corporate shirt that kept getting louder and louder with every viral share.

Continue reading “Crime, Corruption and Advertisers: How Big Brands Got Roped Into the FIFA Scandal” »

Now Streaming – Meerkat and Periscope Go Toe-to-Toe

The latest live-streaming apps allow you to record or watch broadcasts from your mobile device. Two apps in particular, Meerkat and Periscope, seem to be capturing the most attention and attracting the most users. The buzz surrounding live-streaming apps really kicked off with the launch of Meerkat at this year’s South by Southwest Interactive. Many labeled it the “sweetheart” of the interactive conference, and not since the launch of Foursquare in 2009 had SXSW produced such an app hit. It didn’t take long for Meerkat to get some serious competition. As the app was gaining steam at SXSW, Twitter purchased Periscope to get in on the action and go toe-to-toe with Meerkat. Twitter even went as far as cutting off Meerkat’s ability to port people’s social connections over from Twitter to its own service. More on that here. General functionality of the apps is fairly similar, but let’s see how their features compare.

Now Streaming

Continue reading “Now Streaming – Meerkat and Periscope Go Toe-to-Toe” »

M/C/C Tech It Out: What Apple TV Can Add to Your Next Presentation

Apple TV

Presentations are about making an impression; and for centuries, public speakers have used devices to help engage the audience. For turn-of-the-century politicians, it was transforming the caboose of a steam engine into a platform for reform during whistle-stop tours. For comedian Gallagher, he owned the 1980s with a watermelon and an oversized hammer. For the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs, it was an actual device.

At M/C/C, we feed off of devices and presentations. Recently, we had the pleasure of designing a presentation method for one of our clients, Harris CapRock Communications. Harris CapRock was introducing a first-of-its-kind communications service to the energy and maritime markets, Harris CapRock One, and they asked us to concept an innovative way to demonstrate the service at tradeshows and meetings. Instead of throwing together a Powerpoint, handing them a laser pointer and calling it a day, the M/C/C creative team scoured the deepest parts of its collective brain pan to come up with a better, more functional way to present ideas.

Continue reading “M/C/C Tech It Out: What Apple TV Can Add to Your Next Presentation” »

Research is Key to Creating Content in the Customer’s Voice

Content marketing continues to flourish. M/C/C, our agency peers, clients and prospects all understand its value to the buying process. Marketers continue to make content marketing one of their top priorities, and B2B and B2C companies alike are leveraging it for brand awareness, engagement and leads.

It’s been a while, but I previously wrote about how to get the most out of your content marketing. The post, based on the concept of “stop selling and start helping,” encouraged marketers to develop content that their customers and prospects want to read, not what they want them to read. I went on to suggest that regardless of the form or distribution, the most successful content should help customers and prospects solve problems and put them on the path to meeting their business goals.

What my previous post did not do, is discuss how you put yourself in position to create such content.  That’s what I hope to accomplish here.  Continue reading “Research is Key to Creating Content in the Customer’s Voice” »

Working with the American News Media: A Coast-to-Coast Guide for PR Pros

Lately we’ve been talking a lot about targeting niche audiences through all marketing disciplines. Our Media Director Sherie has written about the effectiveness of targeting audiences within varying geographic niches while VP, Creative Todd drilled down even further to talk about targeting within a niche of people who ride around in a certain type of car. On the relationship marketing side of things, our President has even spoken out in the American Cities Business Journals about using bloggers to reach customers who have specific niche areas of interest. It wasn’t so long ago that marketing was tasked with reaching the most people at the same time through one medium. But the intricacies of the Internet and insights that come with running and measuring thoughtful digital advertising campaigns and social marketing programs have narrowed our focus towards speaking to a handful of the right people in an environment and at a time that is right for them.

At the end of last year, we were given the opportunity to give this philosophy a new and different application – by looking at the members of the media we build relationships with on behalf of our clients as niche audiences we were pursuing in different regions. It all began with a Brit.

It’s been a running joke in European PR circles for years: U.S. marketers think of ‘Europe’ as a single, homogenous entity. Of course, that’s nonsense. But, if you asked European marketers how PR practice – especially influencer relations – differs between U.S. regions, it would be a short conversation.”

~Richard Fogg, managing director, CCgroup

Screenshot of the CCgroup's website highlighting the transcreation between U.S. regions.

Screenshot of the CCgroup’s website highlighting the transcreation between U.S. regions.

What Richard’s talking about up there is a little bit of the pot meeting the kettle. Richard is the managing director at CCgroup, a London-based PR firm that decided to find friends across the pond and conduct research to build a resource that would help international marketers understand the idiosyncrasies of running PR campaigns across multiple U.S. regions. M/C/C was honored to represent the West South Central region, joining nine other agencies representing the state of media relations activities in their own respective regions. After collecting input and evaluating their survey results, the CCgroup put together a website that paints an interesting picture of the U.S. media landscape; and we think domestic marketers would benefit from checking out its findings, too. Three areas of interest stood out to the researchers and participants.

Continue reading “Working with the American News Media: A Coast-to-Coast Guide for PR Pros” »