Around the Bend: A Look at What’s Ahead in Digital Media

Sponsorship marketing has experienced a dramatic shift in the way that properties and brands can engage audiences online. Those on the leading edge of this change can see the potential on the road ahead, but are also keenly aware of the traps and speed bumps that can slow down their progress. Today, TrojanOne‘s Director of Digital Media, Mark Stewart shined a light on what’s ahead for sponsorship marketing within the digital landscape and gave delegates actionable strategies and tools that brands, properties or events can use to drive better relationships and measurable results.

Consumers are now in a “digital first” world. The days of cracking open the dusty encyclopedias are over; the days of Google searches are the norm. The big question Mark tackled today was not “What,” but “Why” this shift only continues to grow, and what you can do to really “hit the gas.” Below are some of Mark’s key lessons that will help inform and inspire you to be the innovators:

Apps vs. Mobile Web: Apps are quickly over-taking the mobile web in terms of usage, but are expected to peak in 2013. With pros and cons to each, the golden rule for mobile apps is simplicity, usability and accessibility. Arguably as important, there are all kinds of devices out there today that consumers are using and your apps need to be optimized across the board — there is no one size fits all. Have you checked out how your website performs on your BlackBerry, iPad, or iPhone? Ensure your website performs on these devices as the world moves deeper into the “digital first” world.

Localization: A.k.a. Location-based technology. “Checking in” on your mobile is a great way to build community and loyalty with your customers by offering discounts, coupons and engagement.  Tip: Combine “checking in” with a QR code — this is an innovative strategy that is slowly replacing your old rewards cards and building your digital wallet. State your claim. Give value. Reward participation. Be local. Be social. Be mobile. Combine real-world and digital engagement.

Social Commerce: The trend is really about decision making and finding the best value. “The key is harnessing the power of world of mouth,” said Mark. (Example: Levis has added “like” buttons across their whole website, allowing consumers to share their finds with their networks). Do Groupon, Living Social or Team Buy sound familiar? Yes, these daily deal providers are social commerce at its best. Take advantage.

Gamification: You are going to see a lot of gaming aspects brought into the newest technologies. Humans are pre-dispositioned to psychological variables — points, levels and challenges are all psychological motivators that keep people engaged. Mark recommends being mindful of visual clues, rapid feedback, multiple goals, status rewards, outreach (prompt to return and re-engage), adding uncertainty/mystery, and fostering collaboration and engagement with other game users.

Real Time: With the “digital first” nature of today’s society, real time is an obvious technology. Considering the following touch points will allow you to “hit the gas” and turn real time into brand enhancement and innovation: Find your targeted prospects now. Track industry trends. Seek instant feedback. Provide best-in-class customer service. Track, analyze and adjust.

Faster and Smarter: This is really about changing old business models and is a fundamental shift in the way consumers are operating. Think digital stores and tweeting your food order.

Fair and Balanced: This is about brands taking a journalistic approach and creating stories.  Identify, organize and share these stories. Check out The RED BULLETIN, Canadian Tire Hockey School or the Hot Wheels Live website for some great examples.

Mark left his audience with five things to do today:

  1. Test your mobile site
  2. Claim your location (check in!)
  3. Focus on the goals not the tools you’re using
  4. RSS @mechastewfeed
  5. Play, explore, laugh

And after you do those… Follow Mark on Twitter @mechastewart for his daily insights on “What’s Around the Bend in Digital Media” in 140 characters or less!

Stop Thinking With Half a Brain: Rediscover Your Creative Side

Delegates arriving at the presentation from Chuck Phillips and Kyle Romaniuk of Cocoon Branding were greeted with a single yellow slide reading: “Before we begin, write down as many uses for a paper clip as you can.” What followed was an interactive workshop with delegates getting hands-on tips on how to be creative and generate new ideas, which inspired creativity, allowed delegates to go home to foster a more creative working environment, and contributed to the development of a more creative world.

In addition to the paper clip brainstorm, delegates participated in a number of exercises to get the creativity flowing and their brains working. They formed into pairs and created one-minute portraits of their partner, which demonstrated how we’ve all been taught to be embarrassed about our creativity. At the end of the presentation, delegates got into groups to revisit the idea of the different uses of the paper clip, demonstrating that openness to new ideas and collaboration can lead to incredible creativity. These interactive exercises created a fun environment with lots of interaction between delegates.

Each of the delegates were given laser pointers, which Chuck and Kyle used to engage the audience and get  feedback throughout the presentation. For example, most of the delegates rated themselves on the higher end of a creative scale from 0-10, but many believe that their organizations are not performing at their creative peak, while ratings of creativity in the work environment were all across the scale.

The presentation was divided into four sections to guide delegates through discovering their creativity.

Why does creativity matter? Creativity pushes innovation and pushes companies to the next level. It can widen the competition gap much better than other techniques, like price drops, which can be easily matched. Creativity taps into emotions, and leads the decision-making process – 95% of decisions are actually made by the emotional brain. Ultimately, creativity can help protect or overtake the leadership position, create a higher impact, and improve your ROI.

Why is creativity such a challenge? People think of creativity as only belonging to artists or musicians, as something that we feel pressured to be as opposed to something that we should enjoy and all be natural at. They believe that everyone is born creative, but over time, we develop filters and barriers that limit our creativity. Why did this happen? We’ve become too entrenched in the way things are and have always been. “The new status quo should be challenging the status quo,” said Kyle Romaniuk.

How do we kill creativity? The devil’s advocate rule is one of the biggest killers of creativity, as it stifles the positive energy of creativity. Fear is the greatest barrier to creativity, especially the fear of appearing dumb or having your idea get rejected. “A lot of great stupid ideas… can lead to great ideas,” encouraged Chuck. Finally, placing too much weight on pre-conceived notions and the way things have always been done stifles creativity.

How do we inspire creativity? Divergent thinking allows you to see different routes to ideas and other ways to interpret the questions. Forget about your pre-conceived notions – free your mind and change the way you look at things. Design thinking takes everything from the current state and redesigns it to a better state – from manufacturing to accounting, every department can benefit from continuous improvement. Awareness of the outside world can help you go beyond your usual thinking, while collaborating and allowing team members to put on different “thinking hats” can inspire new ideas. Chuck and Kyle also recommend always limiting brainstorming sessions to under an hour, as the best ideas come out of short creative bursts.

Overall, this excellent workshop could be summed up with one quote from the presentation: “If you want to play in the game, then do what everyone else is doing. If you want to win, then you will have to change the game.”

Follow Chuck Phillips (@chuckcocoon), Kyle Romaniuk (@KyleRomaniuk) and Cocoon Branding (@CocoonBranding) on Twitter.

From Start to Finish: Strategic Approaches to Sponsorship ROI

David Corelli from TrojanOne is truly passionate about sponsorship and how it is an important business tool that can solve problems throughout an organization. In one of the first sessions of the day, he spoke to a full room about the five business priorities that can be advanced using strategic sponsorships: consumer perception, employee engagement, earned media, new business relationships and community engagement.

Sponsorship can be used to improve consumer perception, whether you’re launching a new product (like Gatorade did when they established G Series as a performance enhancing product) or trying to establish a new positioning (like RONA’s partnership with the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, which established them as a company that cares about Canadians). Employee engagement is also a key problem that sponsorship can help solve, as examples from CIBC and AON demonstrate. These two organizations were both able to use sponsorship to transcend cultural and geographic boundaries and unite their employees. Earned media impacts a company’s bottom line more than advertising ever could, and can also provide one of the fastest returns, as Red Bull and Speed Skating Canada have proven with their sponsorship programs. New business relationships can also be formed through partnerships, as GE learned when they entered China for the Beijing Olympics. Finally, grassroots community engagement is one of the most important ways to maximize ROI – companies can make themselves locally relevant by becoming a part of the important moments in their community. Macy’s localization initiative, My Macy’s, is a great example of engaging communities.

During the question period, David discussed ROI measurement and how to prove the value of your sponsorship investment.

Listen, Measure & Engage in Social Media

Social media is an important tool that companies and properties alike can use to connect with their audience, but engagement is about much more than simply being present. Dave Thomas from Radian6 took the stage today to discuss the importance of listening, measuring and participating in a social media program.

If Dave could leave delegates with only one thing to take away from his presentation today, he’d hope it would be to focus on the fundamentals. Lucky for me, I took away a little more and would love to share it with you.

“Only you understand your business,” says Dave. Everyone has an opinion about social media and it is important to figure out what works for you and your business. Social media has forever changed the way people and companies communicate. Speaking through press releases is no longer enough; people expect to communicate with human beings and as human beings.

Below are the top key learnings that resonated with me from David’s presentation and will help you “rev up” your social media ROI:

Number one: Listen. You need to know how to make it about “them,” not you.

Plan. Social media is only effective with it ties into your business objectives.

Engage. Talk to people the way they like to be talked to. Share information that they will find useful and give people something they want. Dave uses the analogy: how many people “liked” a business Facebook page because they love to read their press release? (No surprise, no hands!) Whether it’s a business blog, Facebook page, or Twitter feed, the reality is people engage because the like their content. Key learning: Tag it, excerpt it… infuse it with the “Google juice!” Think about how you can best optimize drive to your conversation

Analyze. Are your social media activities providing any value? Do you have what people want?

Integrate your findings into your strategic planning process.

Understand the value of your time. Analyze how much you spent compared to how much you sold.

Start with campaigns vs. understanding the ROI of your entire marketing department. That’s a realistic number that you can attain and plan for in a reasonable amount of time.

Make your campaigns trackable.

Be realistic.

Follow Dave on Twitter @DavidBThoms for more insights! You can also find his presentation on slide share.

Start Your Engines: Rev Up Your ROI

The 2011 Canadian Sponsorship Forum has officially begun! Justin Orfus kicked off the opening ceremonies with an introduction of five of the TrojanOne team members, and then encouraged the audience to introduce themselves to those around them. Next, Mark Harrison of TrojanOne took to the stage to introduce the weekend and give an overview of how to rev up your ROI. Mark covered many of the topics that other speakers will delve into over the weekend, including social media and word of mouth, the power of turning participants into promoters, and how to get more by giving more. He discussed going beyond sponsorship to make genuine connections. His presentation included a lot of examples, from Hellmann’s to Coca-Cola, from Kraft’s involvement with Hockeyville to the Purolator Tackle Hunger program. He spoke about the lessons we can all learn from Richard Branson expanding, Oprah quitting, and even Michael Jackson dying.

A clip from Charlie Sheen wrapped up the opening keynote before delegates moved out into nearby rooms for the breakout presentation. Stay tuned for more from the Canadian Sponsorship Forum!

Keep up to date with Mark Harrison on Twitter – @MarkHarrison3.

Welcome to CSF 2011!

It’s finally here! Yesterday, I hauled myself out of bed at 3:30 a.m., took two separate flights, and spent the evening greeting arrivals to the Montreal airport for one thing – the 2011 Canadian Sponsorship Forum!

The Forum has played a large role in my life for the last few months. I’ve written a lot of the session summaries, which got me excited for the many amazing and varied presentations that will be taking place this weekend. I’ve gathered information for speaker bios, and was wowed by the high calibre of presenters that will be gracing the stage this year. In weekly Forum meetings, I watched as the dedicated and hard-working team put all the pieces together and made sure that no detail went unnoticed.

As I mentioned, I spent most of yesterday (well, the part of it that I wasn’t sitting on a plane) at the Montreal airport greeting the Forum delegates that arrived early. It was great to be the first face greeting many of these people as they landed. I spoke with groups and individuals from Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and probably a few other cities that I didn’t catch. Others arrived on the TrojanOne Express train from Toronto, and even more will be making their way to the Delta Centre-Ville tomorrow.

Last night, I got my first introduction to the Forum and Montreal during Formula 1. How crazy! Friendly, smiling people everywhere. Streets filled with energy and excitement. I’m looking forward to things ramping up even more as the city roars towards the big event on Sunday: the Formula 1 race.

Tomorrow, I’ll be greeting delegates again and making sure they’re in the right place. Then, I’ll be watching the opening ceremonies and keynote presentation from our own Mark Harrison before volunteering at a couple of different sessions. So stay tuned tomorrow for updates – and don’t forget to tune in to the conversation on Twitter by following our hashtag #CSF2011.

The Big Red Bank

The Big Red Bank is officially closed.

So proclaimed Scott McCune, vice president of global partnerships and experiential marketing for The Coca-Cola Company at the SportAccord Convention in London recently.

Hearing those words from the leading TOP (The Olympic Partner) sponsor may send shivers down the throats of sponsorship-thirsty properties, but McCune wasn’t suggesting for a second that Big Red was getting out of the sports or entertainment marketing games. In fact, quite the opposite.

Within minutes of announcing the bank teller window was closed, McCune made it clear to the audience that they have plenty of money for great ideas. However, how that money is going to be spent is changing dramatically.

If you think of Coke as a sponsor, you think ubiquity. Their products are consumed by 1/4 of the world’s population and they do business in more countries than the U.N. Sponsorship helped fuel that global expansion. For the 1928 Games in Amsterdam, Coke shipped over 1,000 cases on a ship for the U.S. team members. They also set up refreshment shacks, which witnessed the first sale of Coca-Cola on foreign soil.

By 1934, Coke signed Johnny Weissmuller as their first Olympic spokesperson. “Tarzan,” as Weissmuller became known in his post-Olympic acting career, was a swimming gold medalist, and the rest is history.

Over time, as Coke became more and more involved with sponsorship, McCune characterized their approach quite bluntly: “If it MOVED, we would sponsor it, and if it STOOD STILL, we would paint it red!” At a minimum, this is a company that understands itself.

Fast forward to 2011 and Coca-Cola has a very clear picture of what they want.


Yes, McCune talked to more strategic principles such as shared vision, innovation and common values. But he was quite clear: they are open to big ideas.

As they move into the music business, they found amazing synergies with their 2010 World Cup sponsorship and integration of the anthem “Wavin’ Flag” by K’Naan. Recently they conducted the world’s first live, consumer-driven song creation featuring Maroon 5 in a studio in London. The band took input from consumers around the world for a crowdsourced song they created on the fly in 24 hours. The outcome, “Is Anybody Out There,” is now available on the Coca-Cola website.

Big ideas indeed. Not necessarily fueled by big rights fees. As McCune made clear, they have the most powerful marketing machinery in the world. They have the resources to make stuff happen. What they need is a steady of diet of better and better ideas.

Coke has also recognized the incredible power of doing good with their marketing dollars. He showed a video of their 2010 torch participant selection process, which was largely driven by Sogo Active (full disclosure: this was in partnership with our clients at ParticipACTION and we were the agency behind it). Sogo Active rewarded 1,500 youth who became more physically active with a chance to carry the torch.

McCune noted that they now have a global mandate to get MORE YOUTH INVOLVED IN SPORTS. Wow. Read that over carefully.

It has become crystal clear that social marketing can generate profits for corporations. The cliché providers will tell you it has to be genuine. Oh thanks, why don’t you tell me to breathe while you are at it?

What I will tell you is this. If it “feels good” to you as a human being, it will feel good to a consumer. And if it feels good to a consumer, it is going to generate sales for you.

The Big Red Bank is closed.

But the Big Red Social Marketer, Music Label, Sports Advocate, Idea Kitchen, Promotional Innovator, Environmental Leader is ready and waiting 24/7.

Is your brand?