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The Art of the Corporate Blog

Corporate blogs take on many shapes and play many roles like the executive blog (to staff or public-facing); the "how to" blog; sharing news; offering promotions; building the brand or acting as the entire corporate website.

In essence a corporate blog is an opportunity to connect with a reader community or customers and strengthen their relationship with the brand - PR at the click of a mouse.

A recent article by Likeable Media called Corporate Blogs Done Right, highlights these elements as keys to blogging success:

  1. Have multiple writers like Kodak to bring many different perspectives to your blog.
  2. Be true to your brand through the blog design, language and style and by reaching out to readers with useful tips and information like Southwest Airlines.
  3. Collate the helpful voices of a user community such as Wordpress does in its blog, thereby giving users a forum.
  4. Create a community by sharing not only information about products but also about a company's values and those things it holds dear like Wholefoods.
  5. Open the doors of your company to the world by showcasing your unique culture and employees at work like Zappos do in their "Family Blog".
Read the full article here.

When You Love Your Tims..


...and your Tims loves you back!

This is the story of Tims, TA and Velma the Vanilla Dip.

When Everest climber and Tims fanatic TA Loeffler decided to take her ownership of the Tim Horton's brand to new heights, Tims was there to support. To TA a Vanilla Dip doughnut (eaten in moderation) is akin to a "religious experience". In fact, it came to her as no surprise when she noticed one day that budhist prayer flags such as the ones that provide protection to climbers on Mount Everest are indeed in the colours of the sprinkles that decorate her beloved Vanilla Dip.

Being so close to her Tims brand, made Tim Hortons an obvious choice when she was seeking sponsorship for her attempt on Everest. In her own words, the fund-raising effort for an expedition of this proportion, tops the challenge of the actual climb.

Tim Hortons, like all other big brands, is no doubt inundated with requests of this kind and their subsequent $10 gift certificate was probably quite generous, all considered.

It is not until TA's second attempt to summit Mount Everest two years later and another sponsorship request that the story started to unfold in the most interesting way.

It is important to mention that TA summited Mount Elbrus in Russia in the mean time and an important lesson was learnt here. The Vanilla Dip doughnut (Velma I) that went along as expedition mascot did not do too well at altitude and emerged a shadow of its former self.

Not keen to repeat this mascot disaster, TA approached Tims again. If monetary sponsorship was not on the cards, what about a preserved version of Velma for the 2009 attempt on Everest? This is when Tim Hortons came to the table: with a specially preserved vanilla dip doughnut that was to be collected last minutes at a Tim Hortons coffee shop en route to Nepal.

Velma the Vanilla Dip II returned well traveled, very experienced and having reached amazing new heights.

The love between TA and Tims continues - wonderful photographs of Velma's adventures have been posted to the Tim Hortons Facebook Page. This page is seen as the most successful Facebook brand story in Canada with more than 1.2 million people liking it at the time of writing. It is stories such as this one; photos such as TAs and a technology that allow us to share, that build the essence of Canada's beloved brand. It is about more than coffee - and also about a "religious experience" to some.
Follow the story of Velma, Tim's vanilla dip doughnut, and her and TAs extreme adventures on Tim's Facebook album.

Mark the Spot: Location Based Marketing

The Social Web and the Destination Web
Barely getting acquainted with Web 2.0 and what it means and now there is talk of the "Social Web" - as opposed to the "Destination Web" - phrases coined to distinguish brochure-style static websites from websites with interactive "social" characteristics such as feeds, posts, comments and ratings.

Location-based Marketing
And in comes location-based marketing.... The newest in the social media family, this technology aims to get to know as much about you as it can, then get your GPS location from your mobile phone with the aim to offer you a deal that is tailored to your needs.

A block away from the nearest Starbucks, your phone sends you a message that you can have a special discount on a tall skinny cafe latte - your favourite drink.  (this is only an example). This is what location-based marketing aims to do.  Location-based services are growing - there are FourSquare (that let's you become the mayor of your favourite spot), Facebook Places and Facebook Deals (watch video), and Gowalla to keep your eye on.

Location-based Contesting to Create Brand Awareness
Check our this fascinating video of a recent Mini Campaign in Stockholm that used GPS locator technology for this contest game.  Participants aim to obtain a virtual Mini and keep it for a week to win a real Mini Countryman:



Location-based Marketing and Your Business
If you find this mind-blowing, come and join 99% of us.  However, early adopters often reaps the awards - so think about how you can apply this to your business.  Ideas are no doubt starting to flow.  Here's a suggestion (it is new to me too, so I will be trying it along with you):

  1. Claim your business on the map in Facebook Places, Google Places, FourSquare and any other similar space you can find.
  2. Set up accounts where you don't have them and check out what is happening.
  3. Watch for examples where others are successful.
  4. And who knows... perhaps at that point you're ready to become more than a spectator.
Which Location-Based marketing site do you like best?  Did you get any useful deals?  Any interesting experiences?  I know a downtown Toronto shoe store peeved my new friend Ryan - refused to give a refund that was due- he posted his dismay on FourSquare... and there it sits for the world to see.  Don't buy there!

A Good Friday Chuckle

Thanks to Zoho's Meera Supra for this "cloudy" perspective.

Business Tips from the Dragons' Den

A privilege and honour to be nominated for the Mount Pearl Chamber of Commerce's annual Best in Business Innovation Award last night, it was an equal pleasure to listen to Dianne Buckner of Dragons' Den fame share her Top 10 Tips - those characteristics that successful entrepreneurs share - straight from the Den!  I paraphrase as I summarise them here.  The list should be read in reverse for order of priority.

  1. Successful entrepreneurs know how to get to YES.  They seek to understand where their "target" is coming from, what would be important to him/her and how to make a pitch that will get an ultimate yes.

  2. When pitching a solution, successful entrepreneurs remain open and flexible.  By being agreeable they negotiate until a deal emerges that is good for all the parties involved.

  3. Tough times are not necessarily bad times. Most successful people have the ability to deal with circumstances that present themselves at the moment and many success stories such as Home Depot started in times of recession. Tough times can spur great creativity.

  4. Successful people stay abreast of trends.  In this age of fast paced innovation there is no shortage of new trends.  While eco-friendly economics and social media are currently hot trends, Dianne also cited the example of a company who came up with temporary phone numbers - used like a disposable phone number that could be useful for online dating etc.)

  5. Successful entrepreneurs are brief.

  6. A comfort level with their own weaknesses - successful entrepreneurs understand that they cannot be great at everything and they have a plan for dealing with them.  They understand that there is always something to compensate for.

  7. Contrary to popular belief, successful people proceed with caution.  They go out on a limb with caution.

  8. Hard work.  No surprise here and no way of avoiding it.  Successful entrepreneurs work exceptionally hard.

  9. Success also requires not to work too hard. Successful people define success by something broader than money.  Working too hard always takes a toll - health and relationships being first in line.

  10. Persistence.  Successful entrepreneurs learn and get better continuously.