I was fourteen years old when I attended my first concert in December, 1985. Thirty years ago! It was KISS at the Worcester Centrum (setlist here) and yes, I still call it the Centrum and yes, I will always call it the Centrum! This was the era when they toured without any makeup. At the time, I was blown away – all the people! So loud! Such showmen! In time, I began to realize it wasn’t a great era for KISS and the show was quite average.
Yeah, don’t do that again, guys.
As a total music dork, I’ve kept nearly ALL of my concert ticket stubs, including that KISS show. I’ve got some doozies, too. The Beastie Boys and Public Enemy in 1986 (Centrum!). Pearl Jam at Peabody’s Down Under in Cleveland (capacity 200! Setlist here). Nirvana on Halloween night in Akron in 1993. The list goes on and on. Those ticket stubs are somewhere in my house and I intend to repurpose that content at some point. The idea was to create a large piece of art that includes ALL my stubs and hang it up. Someday….
Which brings me to another topic – repurposing online content. By now, us Marketers know that the old adage “build it and they will come” doesn’t happen automatically – and it definitely doesn’t happen right away. Once in a blue moon you may catch lightning in a bottle and have something quickly go viral and man, let me tell you how good that feels. However, 95% of the time, you gotta work to make your content successful before and after posting.
Which is why I’ve never had any issue re-using old content. Obviously you need to choose wisely, as you don’t want to re-use content that is dated and will make you look out of the loop. While I was at Pure Hockey (large niche retailer), I consciously created content that I knew I could use down the road – and I did.
Our Hockey Stinks series, for instance, was an idea I came up with in January of 2014 and published in August 2014. Most of the promotion for this was for the hockey buying season of August-November 2014, but you can bet I repurposed this content a year later (Aug-Sep of 2015), when I used it for brand awareness on Facebook via some paid social campaigns. And guess what? It was good content that people can identify with, so it got tons of comments, likes and shares again. I also targeted the paid campaign to a slightly different audience, which helped.
There is nothing wrong at all with re-using content, as long as it’s the right content. If it moved the needle before and it’s not promoting an old product, there’s a good chance you can have some success or leverage it for another purpose later. So go ahead, post the same stuff multiple times. Different times of the day, different times of the month or different times of the year!
When I was in my 20’s, I had a girlfriend who did graphic design for a small interactive shop in Boston. During that time, I discovered and began tinkering around with Adobe Photoshop software, never thinking I’d ever use it to be a versatile marketer down the road. I never had aims to be a graphic designer (and still don’t), but as the internet started to take hold during this era, I knew right away that being able to manipulate imagery on a computer would be a good thing to have in my back pocket.
OK, I’m not THIS old. But it wasn’t that far off from this.
So I tinkered and fooled around with it and got fairly proficient and comfortable. Back then, there were no articles online like this one from HubSpot that could help you in a pinch. Since then in some way, shape or form, I’ve used it in every professional job I’ve had, none moreso than in my last job at a bootstrapped retailer, where I ran a team of five in the Marketing and E-Commerce department.
There was only one graphic designer on staff and his plate was always pretty full. I had another very talented person on my team for a while who was also proficient, so between the 3 of us, it worked out well. Then that person left and I decided the headcount should be replaced with a person who had more technical SEO experience, which very much turned out to be the correct move with paid seo tools.
With that said, though, we were down a person who could get around Photoshop. So more of the onus fell on me. When this happened, my general approach was to set aside 30 minutes or so each Monday to plan out email marketing and then work on graphics that night at home. That generally worked pretty well. Of course, I still utilized our graphic designer, but in a somewhat low-budget, low headcount environment it was necessary for me to handle things like quick email graphics or, more importantly, time-sensitive social graphics. Here’s some samples:
[easymedia-gallery med=”2110″ filter=”1″]
The quick moral of the story? Don’t have tunnel vision about your skill set. Ever. You may be very good at fishing, but if it’s the only thing you’re good at, you’ll only eat fish forever. Teach yourself some new stuff, stay educated – and always carry more than a single hammer on your belt. Versatility has helped me in countless ways through the years, both personally and professionally. Especially professionally.
My core strengths are Digital Marketing where we build up your website’s backlink profile with Freshlinks, Content and Social Media, but in today’s day and age, I’ve made damn sure I know my way around platforms and software like Google Analytics, Final Cut Pro, Magento, Amazon Seller Central, WordPress and so much more. Knowing some basic HTML has also been a huge tool.
A Swiss Army tool is going to get used and if you’re the one holding the tool, then you are more valued and you can also serve as a valuable mentor to others. There is NO way you’ll lose by broadening your skills and knowing a little about a lot.
Personalization online is a hot, hot topic these days. Many people don’t even know or care that personalization technologies are present everywhere they surf, but trust me, they’re there – and some are more obvious then others.
Let’s look at Spotify, for example. Without too much fanfare, they launched the “Discover Playlist” over the summer and this kind of personalization is totally on point. You see, I’m a music dork and one thing I LOVE to do is find new bands and new songs that kick my ass. As a father of young children and a person who has a full schedule on a daily basis, though, the priority of discovering new bands was something that fell down the priority list. Here is where personalization solved that problem. Every Monday, Spotify drops their Discover Playlist into my playlists – personalized based on what’s in my library and what I’ve listened to.
For those of you who remember such a time, this is pretty much the equivalent of your buddy handing you a new mix cassette tape every Monday. And guess what? It’s great every week! I was telling an old co-worker recently that at least one new artist a week gets a deeper dive from me when I listen to my Discover playlist. How do they do it? In a nutshell, they’re combining my personal taste in music with what similar fans are listening to and playlisting. It’s unique and it’s uncanny how on the mark they are with these playlists.
You may also occasionally receive emails from your favorite shops, see recommended products on websites and see banner ads on non-shopping sites that are closely aligned with your tastes. Not bad.
But here’s where it gets a little annoying, depending on who you ask – personal retargeting. Let’s say you visit walmart.com and explore the site because you need a blue blanket. You don’t find one and you go to Facebook to check for the latest cat video and you see, right there integrated into your feed, a Walmart ad for blankets. What has happened here is personal retargeting, where Walmart has purchased Facebook ads on Facebook to people who visited their web site and left without purchasing.
Here’s an ad on my own Facebook page where it appears that J.Crew is targeting hockey players?
How annoying is it? Well, to me it is and it isn’t. I could certainly see how people might be a little creeped out. I could also see how it could be helpful. For example, maybe Walmart’s offering a 15% off coupon to come back and purchase. It all depends on your tolerance. As a person who worked in online retail, I can tell you that certain offers for personal retargeting worked well and others did not.
Where it’s potentially REALLY annoying (and timely right now) is when you share a computer with someone else, such as your wife or significant other. You can easily ruin a nice surprise by seeing a retargeted ad on a gift that SHE found for YOU. Whoops.
So…….good and bad, right? Want more bad? A couple of weeks ago I got an email from someone professionally that said “Hey Jeff, I saw you were on our site on Friday night, so I just wanted to check in with you to see if you found what you needed or to see if you had any questions.” Really nice follow-up! In fact, this is good practice. The problem? I hadn’t been on their site in months. Ouch.
These are some pretty basic personalization tactics – it can get much more complicated, but I think these real-life scenarios are just fun to look at.
I guess it comes down to the marketers of the world and making sure your data is dependable, spot-on correct and you’re doing it in a way that doesn’t creep out your customers. If Sugar Pie wants to know, then Sugar Pie should make sure she’s buttoned up and ready to deliver something meaningful to you.
The amount of catalogs we get delivered to the house is insulting. It almost hurts me to think about it too much. Other than being a such an enormous waste of trees, many of the catalogs advertise things Steph and I would simply never even consider buying in a million years. It’s almost like the AirMall, except the shit isn’t even funny inside. At least the AirMall is good for a laugh.
The other day, we got TWO of the exact same catalog in the mail. It was from Ballard Designs, a company I can say with 100% confidence that we have never bought anything from and have never even heard of, for that matter. The best part – they had two different covers. Everything else was exactly the same. What did the covers look like? The one that was addressed to me had a bunch of home office stuff and was decidedly male. The one addressed to Steph was of a Victorian-looking foyer, with grand staircase and a headline that said something along the lines of “Design Your Dream!” Sexism at its quiet finest.
Of course, some other retail shop sold our name to Ballard. What can you do about that? Not much. Doing business over-the-counter or online these days pretty much opts you in automatically to all this crap. I kid you not, I think we get 2-3 of these things everyday. I’ve been considering keeping a month’s work, then making a big stack and taking a picture to post here, but I don’t have time for it, plus it would probably just make me sick.
Luckily, you do have an option. Catalog Choice is a website where you can sign up and go through a fairly exhaustive list of all these marketing nazi’s and opt-out of their mailings. Catalog Choice apparantly takes care of the notifications to the publishers. Nice! I signed up about a year ago and did see a noticable slowdown, but I think I need to go back and update my list.
I’d be curious to know what % of total retail spend these days comes from catalogs? I see them as very very old-school, much like phone books, yellow pages or newspaper and TV advertising. It’s not very targeted, clearly, because nearly 100% of the ones I get go right to recycling. Do you still order stuff from mail catalogs?