Do You Live Up To Your Brand Promise?

Shanghai Jazz is a Chinese restaurant in Madison NJ, but not your everyday Chinese joint. As the name suggests, they pride themselves on bring live Jazz to suburban New Jersey – and top quality Jazz at that. Their philosophy is “warm hospitality, gourmet Asian cuisine inspired by the seasons…” per their website, and I’ve always felt they’re on a mission to provide top quality service and a memorable evening. The owners, David and Martha, are always visible, and are polite and friendly hosts.

MartiniLast night was a classic example of a company living up to their Brand Promise. I was half way through my martini (my first one, honestly…), when the waiter pointed out a fly in the drink, whisked it away and replaced it with a fresh drink within a minute. Impressive!

And that’s it. I just love it when a company lives what they do.

Any examples you’d like to share?

What B2B Marketers are Talking About – BMA Blaze

Integrating Marketing with Technology; The Battle for Attention; Realtime Marketing. These were the three most talked about subjects at the recent BMA Blaze Conference in Chicago, attended by 750 leading Business-to-Business (B2B) marketers.

In the last few years, there have been a lot of “new” marketing issues to discuss – migration to mobile; the rise of LinkedIn and Facebook; Content Marketing, and others. This year, “new” was lacking – but more importantly, the focus was on the major trends that are impacting the marketing industry.

Integrating Marketing with Technology. No longer can IT be the folks who run the infrastructure, and are never seen. They now have a critical role in the systems and devices that are needed to enable efficient sales teams,great customer satisfaction and data-driven decision making.

Eduardo Conrado the National Chair of BMA , embodies this first trend. Eduardo was recently promoted from CMO of Motorola Solutions into the role of Senior VP, Marketing and IT.

Whether it’s CRM, Marketing Analytics, Web services, e-commerce or mobile sales enablement, the IT function is now a critical component of the Sales & Marketing function, to ensure that the systems are robust, current and cost effective. And now that consumers are accustomed to the world of shopping on Amazon, banking on their phone and watching streaming movies on their tablet – they are beginning to expect their B2B purchasing experience to live up to that level of ubiquity.

The Battle for Attention. If Content Marketing was the watchword of recent conferences, the pendulum has now swung too far. The common concern was that there is now too much content – and how do you break through the noise to make yourself heard. Much of the coffee-break discussion at the conference seemed to center on how to make Content Marketing more effective, and how to get noticed amongst the clutter.

In fact Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute gave a talk on “Please Stop Creating More Content”. With the basic pitch of “quality, not quantity”, Joe implored the audience to create a Content Marketing Mission Statement, to ensure that the content creation process is effective. The statement should include (1) The Target Audience, (2) What will be delivered and (3) The outcome for the audience [Joe’s presentation is on Slideshare].

Realtime Marketing. The news-cycle as we knew it no longer exists. The information flow is constant, and Marketers need to be ready to react. David Meerman Scott, who popularized the idea of Newsjacking, lead a panel session to discuss “How and Why to do RealTime Marketing” – namely, how to take advantage of current issues to promote your B2B brand. The surprising consensus was that...planning is essential.

Although the headline-makers, such as Oreo’s triumph during the SuperBowl blackout, appear to be spontaneous, they are typically the result of a well-planned strategy and set of guiding principles, that allow people to make quick decisions when events happen. Jeff Beringer of Golin Harris described “the Bridge” – effectively a newsroom in their office that allows a team to monitor global events. This team is aware of the types of stories their clients would like to associate with, have branding and messaging guidelines prepared, and can then act quickly when “news happens” [See video below].


So, as with all conferences, now the challenge is to take these trends, and apply them to your own business. In my case, this means taking a fresh look at how technology can be more closely integrated in to our travel programs; making sure that our content creation process is focused on the true needs of our customers; and laying the groundwork to be able to react quickly to any news situation.

Born to Blog – Book Review

Why read a book about Blogging? I’ve been blogging for a couple of years,  so why read what seems to be a “beginners” book – Born to Blog ? Simple answer – Mark Schaefer. He was an early inspiration with Tao of Twitter, and one of the digital media folks I always look to for trends – so I thought it was worth a read  [the book is co-written with Stanford Smith of PushingSocial].


I would recommend it:

  • If you’re trying to encourage others to blog
  • If you want to take a fresh look at your own blog
  • If you want some inspiration to keep going

[That probably covers 90% of you!]

First of all it’s a quick read – well paced, easy to grasp, but packed full of useful items. As much as I enjoy some of the meatier books out there, such as Lee Odden’s Optimize, sometimes, they can be a bit of a slog! Not so with Born to Blog. You’ll find a couple of actionable ideas in every chapter (and there are 21 chapters…)

The top 3 sections for me:

  • The Minimum Viable Blog – i.e Keeping it simple
  • The four types of content (Evergreen, Identity, People, and Bread & Butter). Intrigued? You’ll have to buy the book to find out more!
  • Blog set-up checklist (pg 152). A simple guide to getting it done.

Sure, there’s some basic material covered throughout – but that makes it useful at any level. I’m planning to share it with some wannabee bloggers in my company, to give them the tools to get stated. But with triple digit blog posts under my belt, I found plenty of takeaways too.

Bottom line. If you’re interested in blogging, at any level, buy Born to Blog. You won’t regret it.

[I have no affiliation with Mark or Stanford, and no financial interest in sales of this book. I’m just a fan of their work.]

The First 90 Days of a Digital Marketing Strategy – Q&A With BMA Buzz

In advance of BMA-NJ’s Digital Marketing Summit, the folks at BMA Buzz were kind enough to interview me for a Q&A Article in their eNewsletter. Here’s the first question – click-through to BMA Buzz to read more…

Buzz: What do marketers need to accomplish in the first 90 days?

Steve Cummins: The first 90 days should be a combination of three elements. Understand the existing digital footprint, including website ranking and social network profiles. Decide on the best mix of digital platforms to achieve business goals. And educate key stakeholders, including management and colleagues, on the importance and utility of digital and how it can have impact relative to business goals.

Buzz: What are the core elements that marketers need to put in place?…..

Click here for the full interview.

The Digital Marketing Summit on April 9th is hosted by Business Marketing Association of New Jersey. It will feature speakers from Google; CK Kerley discussing Mobile Marketing for B2B; and more on “The First 90 Days”.

Click Here for more details.

Real Time Marketing – Ted Kohnen of Stein + Partners Brand Activation Speaks at BMA-NJ

(This post was originally published on BMA-NJ website)

Ted KohnenAccording to Ted Kohnen, CMO of Stein + Partners Brand ActivationReal Time Marketing is more than the latest fad– it’s an organizing principle that can be used to make the marketing message more relevant.

Beyond the much-discussed “instant” Oreo campaign during the SuperBowl blackout, Real Time Marketing (RTM) can be applied in terms of days, weeks or even months, depending on the context. It speaks to the relevance of the message to the current environment.

During his talk at the BMA-NJ Dinner Meeting, Ted laid out the four tenets of a successful RTM organization.

1) A strong, trusted Eco-system. A well-balanced team with a set of  guiding principles that allow quick decisions to be made without excessive levels of control.

2) The right tools. There are a tremendous number of software platforms that can be used to support a marketing campaign. Ted suggested  to choose a relatively small number of tools, but to be sure to use them to their full potential, rather than pick another niche tool for each application

3) Be Prepared. Ted “beamed in” Michael Ruby, the Executive Creative Director of SPBA via a short video clip (prepared specifically for the BMA-NJ event – a demonstration of RTM in action!).  Michael assured the BMA-NJ audience that effective Real Time Marketing requires lots of preparation. Each member of the team must understand the product, target market and the environment, to be able to react quickly. As he put it “Spontaneity has to be Planned”!

4) Always be Listening. To capitalize on current sentiment, a brand team must use multiple sources including social listening tools, polling and customer service feedback, to always know what the customer base is thinking.

BMA-NJ’s next event will be a Digital Marketing Summit on April 9th featuring speakers on Video Marketing via Google & YouTube, trends in Mobile Marketing for B2B and a case study on Developing a Digital Marketing Strategy.

Do you Trust Your LinkedIn Network?

The average American knows 600 people, according to recent research from Columbia University. As Harvard Business Review explains it, that would fill two Boeing 787s   (but would you risk your entire network on a Dreamliner?!)

Trust - Apple Target on Woman's HeadMany people are proud of being “500+” on LinkedIn, so I guess the numbers line up. But the study also claims that we only know 10-25 of these people well enough to trust them.

So does that mean I’m Linked to 337 people I don’t trust? No!

But it does raise a question that often comes up. How do you decide who to connect to on LinkedIn?

My personal guideline  I ask myself “would I be comfortable picking up the phone and asking this person for a favor?” But there are exceptions to this:

  • Aspirational. Someone I admire, or would like to get to know better. Maybe only a brief acquaintance, but could be the” beginning of a beautiful friendship”(!)
  • Appreciative. If a person takes time to write a thoughtful or generous note along with the LinkedIn request.
  • Apathetic. (It happens, especially on Mondays!). Yes, I’ve met the person. No I don’t know them well. Sorry, I can’t be bothered to write and explain why I’m rejecting them. So I accept.

And yes, that brings me to another point. In general, I’ll send a quick note to someone explaining my hesitancy to connect, assuming they had a legitimate reason to reach out (spammers get reported). My network is important to me, and as with anything valuable, it needs to be safeguarded.

Your own LinkedIn philosophy will depend on your role, industry and reason for being a part of a network. But take a minute and decide what your guidelines are…..and also decide who are the 10-25 in your “real-life” trust network!