Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Originally published Apr 6, 2015 12:00:00 PM, updated July 28 2017 Holiday Marketing It wasn’t until late afternoon on April Fool’s Day when I came up with the idea for an epic prank.No, not covering a colleague’s desk with Post-It notes or planting staplers in Jell-O. I’m talking something a little more … client-facing.Let me quickly give you some context here. My marketing consulting company, Brand Builder Solutions, is a very strong advocate of all things inbound marketing. Our mission is to generate revenue for our clients online using inbound marketing best practices, and we’re proud to be among the top 1% of HubSpot Partners, which means we train and support our clients using the inbound marketing methodology.Alright, back to my prank idea. Here’s what I had in mind: First, I wanted to give my company’s website a makeover — so that instead of promoting all things inbound marketing, we were strongly advising against it. And then, I wanted to create and send out a marketing email with a similar message to prank our contact base.The results from this April Fool’s joke were astounding. But I’ll get to those later. Knowing my team might try to talk me out of the idea (they’re a bit more sane than I), I decided to go ahead and get started on my own. So I closed my office door, hunched over my keyboard, and began typing away into our website editor.Step 1: The Home PageThe first thing I did was create a new home page to reflect our “new values.” I temporarily directed our normal home page URL to this prank home page, while storing the real home page elsewhere. From the moment I made the changes live until 11:59 PM on April Fool’s Day, every single visitor to our website saw that Brand Builder Solutions was no longer in the business of inbound marketing.Here’s what the top of our home page looked like:As users scrolled down, they were greeted with messaging like this:And this:Users who made it to the very bottom of our home page saw an April Fool’s message coupled with a link to the page where I’d stored our real home page’s content:Once I was done with the home page, I sent the live link to a few friends in the inbound community, including a mentor of mine, Rick Roberge. It was after hearing positive responses from the community that I saw an opportunity to take the joke to the next level. What about sending out a prank email campaign?Step 2: The Email CampaignGold, I thought. But I wondered: Should it go to only a few close contacts? Would it be a good idea to send it to customers and prospects? Most importantly, was the whole thing a little too risky?When you want to do something but you’re hesitant to act on it, ask the person who thrives on this kind of uncertainty. For me, that was Rick Roberge. My email to him read: “Rick, I’m thinking about sending a prank email to everyone.” Rick’s reply? “Do it.”Those two words were all it took. Within a few minutes, I’d set up the campaign in HubSpot’s software and sent it out — to customers, to prospects; to everyone. Here’s what it looked like:What Did I Just Do?I wondered whether the recipients of this prank email would “get” it, or whether this would turn off any of our prospects. Prank emails can be a mixed bag for people, so I figured I’d get a range of responses. One of the things we all love here at Brand Builder Solutions is to make things “engaging” and “remarkable.” I was certainly expecting engagement, as well as some remarks.Here’s what did happen.For context, the four email campaigns my company had sent prior to this one to the same group of contacts averaged 6% clicks-to-delivered. Within the first 30 minutes of launching our April Fool’s email campaign, we’d already topped that average.Within 24 hours, our April Fool’s email campaign had crushed our prior average by 300%, reaching 24% clicks-to-delivered.Only one recipient marked the email as spam.Do you remember that link to our real home page’s content that I’d included at the bottom of the prank home page? After sending out the email campaign, our “real” home page began generating more activity than normal. You can see the spike in website visits here: In real time, we were seeing that a lot of our prospects were not only looking at our services, work, and templates, but were also downloading content. (And we knew they were prospects because we were using Sidekick by HubSpot.)Some People “Got” the JokeI received many positive responses to the email, including:”LOL, almost had me for a second.. Very funny. Best joke I’ve heard all day.””Very clever…you and Amazon had the same idea. Although I suspected it was a ploy, I appreciate your humor. (And I needed a dose of it today!) Thanks””HAH! This is one of the best ones yet. Sent it out to our team here for a good chuckle!”Some People Didn’tI also got a few less positive responses. One read, “I’m confused by this email. What is it about?” I replied asking if they’d clicked the link, and their response was, “Well it got my attention, that’s for sure! Nice work. Haha.”What About The People I Didn’t Hear From?It’s likely that there are some people who didn’t click through on the email and actually think we’re done with inbound marketing. To solve for this, we set up a smart list using HubSpot’s software to capture all of the people who opened the email but didn’t click — and we’re launching follow-up emails to that group to keep them informed.We also plan to continue engaging with those who did clicked through on the April Fool’s email. We’ll do this by sending them another email with simple questions like, “What did you think?” We want to hear that feedback. What do we expect to hear back? Everything from “We laughed” to “We were confused” to “We were afraid to click the link,” and, finally, to “We didn’t like it.” Each of those responses give us an opportunity to keep our engagement going in a constructive way.Is Playing An April Fool’s Prank In Business A Good Idea?Well, we had our highest open rate and clickthrough rate ever with this April Fool’s email. I was able to engage with existing customers that had been distant for a while. I also had some inquiries on quotes for work related to these interactions.But I’d love to know what you think. Was this a good idea? Would you have done it? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
“Never let schooling interfere with the tech startup you’re running out of your dorm room.” – Mark TwainAdmittedly I may have taken a few artistic liberties with the Mark Twain quote above, but the underlying sentiment remains: When it comes to learning — to amassing the knowledge you need to be successful in life — formal education isn’t always the best option.In a study of over 39 companies with $1 billion valuations or higher, eight of them boasted co-founders who had dropped out of college. Not to mention, three of the top five companies were run by college dropouts.Of course, there’s no ignoring the evidence to the contrary: The overwhelming majority of billion-dollar companies were founded by people who not only earned college degrees, but who earned them from selective schools. So the point of this post, to be clear, isn’t to convince folks to drop out of school. It’s simply to highlight some of the exceptional cases where taking a less traditional route ended up paying off big.6 Famous Business People Who Dropped Out of School1) Bill Gates(Source: ITPro)Bill Gates applied to just three colleges after graduating from high school: Harvard, Princeton, and Yale. He was accepted to all three.In the end, it was Harvard’s campus that Gates chose to stroll onto in the fall of 1973. But within a couple years, earning a degree from one of the most prestigious universities in the world would take a back seat to another opportunity: Creating a programming language (Altair BASIC) for one of the world’s first personal computers, the Altair 8800.Originally working out of his Harvard dorm room, Gates would formalize his partnership with long-time friend Paul Allen in 1975 under the banner “Micro-soft.” The two then set up shop in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which was where their first customer — Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS), maker of the Altair 8800 — was located. And while Gates did initially try to balance academics with business, and would travel back to Harvard to take classes, the business inevitably started taking up more and more of his time. (He was a CEO, after all.) So Gates made the decision to drop out of school for good.Today, Gates has an estimated net worth of $77.6 billion. And you might be surprised to learn that he also has a Harvard degree: Gates received an honorary doctorate from the school in 2007.Are you a startup? See if you qualify for up to 90% off HubSpot software.2) Steve Jobs(Source: 9to5Mac)Unlike Bill Gates, who dropped out of college so he could run a company, Steve Jobs dropped out of college so he could … well … go to college. Allow me to explain.Having found the required classes on his schedule too boring to bear, Jobs dropped out of Reed College just six months into his freshman year so he could drop in on the classes that he was actually interested in — like Shakespeare, dance, and calligraphy. That calligraphy course, as Jobs would later call in a 2005 Stanford commencement speech, helped inspire him to incorporate multiple typefaces into the Macintosh.I learned about serif and sans serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great … None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac.”In that same speech, Jobs mentioned another reason why he dropped out of college: He felt bad for spending his parents’ money on an education that he didn’t really see the value in.I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK.And when you consider that Jobs went on to create what is now (at the time of this writing) the most valuable brand in the world, I think it’s safe to say it all worked out OK.To start scaling your startup, download this free Startup Marketing Blueprint today.3) Oprah Winfrey(Source: K92.7)Three years after Steve Jobs gave Stanford’s commencement speech, another college-dropout-turned-billionaire would take the stage: Oprah Winfrey.In her speech to the graduating class of 2008, the Queen of Talk recalled how she started working in TV at the age of 19 while she was a sophomore at Tennessee State University. “I was the only television anchor person that had an 11 o’clock curfew doing the 10 o’clock news,” she commented, before continuing, “Seriously, my dad was like, ‘Well, that news is over at 10:30. Be home by 11.'”By the time her senior year rolled around, Winfrey’s TV career was looking promising. So promising, in fact, that instead of sticking around to complete the one credit she needed to graduate, Oprah dropped out of college. A year later, at the age of 22, Winfrey was co-anchoring the 6 o’clock news in Baltimore.Needless to stay, Winfrey’s decision to drop out paid off big. Today, her net worth is estimated at $3.1 billion. But there was one person in Winfrey’s life who could never come to terms with her not finishing college: Her father. As Winfrey recalled in the Stanford speech …He’d say, ‘Oprah Gail’ — that’s my middle name — ‘I don’t know what you’re gonna do without that degree.’ And I’d say, ‘But, Dad, I have my own television show.’ And he’d say, ‘Well, I still don’t know what you’re going to do without that degree.’ And I’d say, ‘But, Dad, now I’m a talk show host.’ He’d say, ‘I don’t know how you’re going to get another job without that degree.'”In then end, Winfrey’s dad would prove to be the winner of that argument. In 1987, Winfrey went back to Tennessee State University and completed her degree.4) Mark Zuckerberg(Source: PR News)Mark Zuckerberg holds an interesting spot on this list, as he’s one of the few college dropout success stories who actually planned on going back to school. In a talk he gave back in 2012, the Facebook co-founder and CEO recalled how he had been upfront with investor Peter Thiel about not wanting to drop out of Harvard.Thiel didn’t believe him. In fact, Zuckerberg’s own family didn’t believe him — they all thought he would drop out. As Zuckerberg commented during that same talk back in 2012:My life is a long history of people thinking I would drop out of school long before I did.”For Zuckerberg, at least in the early days, Facebook was just a hobby. Whereas Gates knew he was onto something big (e.g., consumer software) when he started running Microsoft out of his Harvard dorm room, Zuckerberg was a bit more skeptical when he launched the first iteration of Facebook. He even had a back up plan if this “hobby” didn’t work out: He’d go work for Microsoft.Of course, as Facebook began growing like wildfire, becoming one of the top 10 most-trafficked site on the internet within a year and a half of its launch, Zuckerberg inevitably realized that this side project of his had some serious potential. So in the fall of 2005, Zuckerberg left Harvard to focus on Facebook full-time.He’d return to Harvard a year later … to recruit engineers.5) Jay Z(Source: EW)While Jay Z is perhaps best known as a rapper, he’s also an accomplished entrepreneur. From founding his own record label (Roc-A-Fella) and talent agency (Roc Nation), to launching a clothing line (Rocawear), to re-launching a music streaming service (Tidal), Jay Z a.k.a. Shawn Carter has a diverse business portfolio.Something else you might not have known about Jay Z: He never finished high school. The Brooklyn native dropped out to focus on his job at the time … dealing drugs. As Jay Z recalled in a 2013 interview, drug dealing ended up teaching him some valuable business skills, like budgeting. But at the same time, he always knew it wasn’t a viable path forward:At some point, you have to have an exit strategy, because your window is very small. You’re going to get locked up or you’re going to die.”Fortunately for Jay Z, he had an exit strategy: Music. As of 2015, his estimated net worth is $550 million.6) Lady Gaga(Source: The Mirror)I know, know … another music example. But trust me, Lady Gaga is more than just a performer: she’s a business unto herself. (I mean, there’s a Harvard Business School case study on her, for paparazzi’s sake.)Born Stefani Germanotta, Lady Gaga attended New York University’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts after graduating from high school. But during her sophomore year, she decided to drop out to focus more on her fledgling music career — a decision that would end up paying off in a big way.In addition to earning millions through selling and performing her music, Lady Gaga has been able to cash in through numerous brand partnerships and tie-ins. For example, she’s teamed up with Versace, Virgin Mobile, and even Starbucks for promotional campaigns.Today, Lady Gaga’s net worth is estimated at $225 million.Know of any other successful dropouts who should be on this list? Tell us in the comments section below. Topics: Originally published Apr 5, 2016 7:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017 Entrepreneurship Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack
Topics: Originally published Jun 8, 2016 8:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017 Or this one? Snapchat Menu Hacks is back and spicer than ever. Follow “TacoBell” to find out how to make all of these creations. pic.twitter.com/6hGwKXo4p0— Taco Bell (@tacobell) May 19, 2016 Download your 5 free SlideShare templates. (Then check out this post, which provides you with some SlideShare creation tips and best practices along the way.)3 PowerPoint Presentation Templates (Download Here)What about if you’re creating a slide deck that’s not necessarily meant for SlideShare? Maybe it’s for an internal presentation you’re giving to share the results of a project you did, a deck to report on your monthly marketing metrics, or some slides for an upcoming speaking gig you have.We have a few general PowerPoint templates available for download as well, which also comes with a series of four videos to teach you some basic PowerPoint creation tips, including how to enhance images, how to clean up your text, and how install premium fonts — all right in PowerPoint.Download your 3 PowerPoint templates here.50 Customizable Call-to-Action Templates (Download Here)Of all the templates on this list, this one is probably the most utilitarian. After all, CTAs are pretty darn essential for lead generation — and lead generation is one of the most important goals for many marketers. But there’s also no denying that CTAs still require some design skill.Luckily, this template download offers 50 customizable CTAs in — you guessed it — PowerPoint! Here’s one I created from scratch in PowerPoint to promote our data hub, HubSpot Research.And if you want more inspiration (and proof) about just how professional-looking you can make CTAs in PowerPoint, check out this blog post featuring seven big-brand CTAs recreated in PowerPoint. It’s life changing.Download your 50 customizable calls-to-action.18 Ebook Templates (Download Here and Here)… because your ebooks deserve to look better than a 10-page chunk of text in Microsoft Word. We started out by building five free ebook templates, and then more recently added 13 additional templates — so you’ll have plenty of professional-looking, attractive design options to choose from when you’re creating your next ebook.And if you need help with ebook creation in general, this blog post walks you through it step-by-step using one of our very own ebook templates.Need a little more help with the whole writing part? This free guide will walk you through how to write an ebook — from content and concept to design and promotion. Download your ebook templates: 5 here | 13 here195+ Design Templates for Canva (Download Here)It can be hard to find the time and resources to create a cohesive set of campaign visuals, from Twitter graphics, to blog images, to email header images. That’s why we partnered with Canva to put together the ultimate set of 195+ design templates for every visual marketing need, including infographic templates, social media templates for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, email header templates, blog featured image templates, and more.These design templates are easy-to-use, work for any industry (finance, dentistry, agriculture, law… we’ve got ’em all), and are completely free. For each template, you’ll find 10 visual design types and multiple themes that are carried through each design type — making it easy for you to quickly spin up a visual marketing campaign across multiple channels.Download your 195+ design templates for every visual marketing need here.550+ Royalty-Free Stock Photos (Download the First 80 Here)Okay, so this is the one resource on our list that isn’t exactly a template. However, you can (and should) absolutely remix and customize these free stock photos in PowerPoint. These are completely free images you can use in your marketing campaigns — no royalties or fees whatsoever. Use them on your website, on your blog, in your emails, in social media, or anywhere else without any worries about attribution or copyright infringement.We have four collections of stock photos available to download:80 Assorted Photos75 More Assorted Photos160 Business-Themed Photos250 Holiday-Themed PhotosHere’s a preview of our assorted stock photos collection:To customize these images, simply plop them into PowerPoint and work your magic: Write captions, crop them, add thought bubbles, remove backgrounds, and so on. Check out the following example of how we took one of our stock photos and made it our own by adding a screenshot to the laptop screen:Download your free stock photos: 80 Assorted Photos | 75 More Assorted Photos | 160 Business-Themed Photos | 250 Holiday-Themed PhotosWhile not a template, if you’re just getting started with visual content marketing, you might also want to check out The Marketer’s Crash Course in Visual Content Creation. Consider this the do-it-yourself (DIY) designer’s handbook: It not only explains why visual content marketing is important, but it also runs through the types of visual content you can create, 10 best practices for DIY design, 23 free tools to help you with visual content creation, and a design evaluation checklist so you can ensure you’re following all the DIY design best practices.Ready to start creating awesome visual content quickly and on a budget? Get downloading — then start creating!Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2013 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness. The second one, right? Case in point.But Twitter isn’t the only social network where visual content will garner you more engagement. In an analysis of one billion Facebook posts from three million brands globally, BuzzSumo found that the post formats that get the most engagement are questions and images.So what can you do to make the content you post on Facebook, Twitter, and all other social networks more visual? Lots of things, it turns out. Here’s just a smattering of options you’ll get when you download the visual social media content templates — much more visually stimulating than just a description and a link, right?And here’s an example of visual social media content we’ve created for HubSpot’s own Facebook Page — right in PowerPoint:Download your 100 free social media graphic templates. (Then check out this blog post to see how quick and easy it is to customize them.)5 Pre-Sized Social Media Cover Photo Templates (Download Here)As you now know, social media is where visual content thrives. So to get started, you’ll want to make sure your business’ social media accounts are optimized with attractive cover photos. This download includes five pre-sized PowerPoint templates to help you create customized social media cover photos for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and YouTube using the right cover photo dimensions.In fact, we frequently use PowerPoint to create HubSpot’s own Facebook cover photos. Here’s an example of one of our former cover photos that was used to promote our free stock photos (we’ll cover that later in this post).Download your 5 social media cover photo templates here.15 Infographic Templates (Download Here)When you think about visual content and marketing, what’s the first thing you think of? I bet many of you think of infographics. The infographic is a great choice for visual content — particularly for your blog — since it can generate a lot of traffic, inbound links, and social shares. After all, infographics are Liked or shared on social media 3X more than any other type of content. But man, can it take a lot of time and skill to pull off.Enter our 15 customizable infographic templates, which can help you cut back on the time, effort (and, yes, skill) required for infographic creation.There are 15 infographic styles to choose from, and each is completely customizable. And because all you need is a little PowerPoint know-how (don’t worry — the download also offers some basic PowerPoint tips) and the content to plug into them, these templates will severely cut back on the time, effort, and design skills necessary for infographic creation.In fact, my colleague Lindsay used one of these templates to create a brand new infographic in under an hour. Read this blog post to see the before/after, and what she did to create it.Download your 15 free, customizable infographic templates.5 SlideShare Presentation Templates (Download Here)Another great option for creating visual blog content is SlideShare. SlideShare is a site that allows you to upload files that people can view, share, and embed. It’s most typical use is for sharing slideshows.SlideShare presentations are great for content that is best presented in a visual way — like quick tips or best practices, data, visual examples, or content that tells a story. But like so many other forms of visual content, SlideShare creation does take time and skill.That’s why if you grab one of our five SlideShare designs and plug in some content (like a blog post) you’ve already created, you’ll make things much easier on yourself — and shave off valuable content creation time, too.Below is an example of a SlideShare presentation we created from scratch using PowerPoint. The contents of this presentation also provide some helpful tips for using stock photos in your visual content. Lucky for you, we’re about to throw some free stock photos your way, too ;-). Cooking Rule: If at first you don’t succeed, get Taco Bell.— Taco Bell (@tacobell) May 3, 2016 Visual Content Visual content is in high demand. Just about every piece of content you create can be enhanced by some kind of visual element. In fact, content with relevant images gets a whopping 94% more views than content without relevant images.And in social media, visuals pretty much make or break your presence. According to Buffer, visual content is more than 40X more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content. And if you need any more evidence to convince you visuals are essential to your content marketing, just consider all these stats.But honestly … who’s got time for all that? And I don’t know about you, but I don’t exactly have a degree in graphic design, or the budget to hire someone who does. So, what’s a design-impaired marketer to do?Luckily, over the past couple years, we’ve been on a mission at HubSpot to make visual content creation much less of an obstacle for the average marketer. How, you ask? Templates, my friends … templates. And what’s great about these templates is they’re all built for software you probably already have on your computer: PowerPoint.Click here to download our full collection of free templates for designing stunning visual content like infographics and more. I’m going to walk you through all the visual content marketing templates we have available for free to download, and show you how we’ve used them ourselves to create awesome visuals right in PowerPoint.(Want to learn more about content creation, strategy, and promotion? Get started with this free online course from HubSpot Academy.)The Free Templates You Need for Visual Content DesignClick on a template below to jump to that section:100 Templates for Visual Social Media Content5 Pre-Sized Social Media Cover Photo Templates15 Infographic Templates5 SlideShare Presentation Templates3 PowerPoint Presentation Templates50 Customizable Call-to-Action Templates18 Ebook Templates195+ Design Templates for Canva550+ Royalty-Free Stock Photos Download 195+ visual marketing design templates to use for social media posts, infographics, and more. You know how I said before that visual content is more than 40X more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content? That’s right: Visual content rules the roost in social networks. On Twitter, for example, early research into visuals for the Buffer Twitter account revealed that tweets with photos earned 150% more retweets and 18% more clicks than tweets without images.It makes perfect sense why: Just consider how much more prominently visual content gets displayed in social media feeds compared to text-based content. Of the two tweets below from Taco Bell, which one draws your eye more quickly?This one? Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack
Originally published May 30, 2017 8:00:00 AM, updated October 08 2019 8 Rules for Communicating With Your Boss1) Start with the bottom line.I asked Kranz what he thinks is the most effective way for your marketing team to talk to you.Start with the bottom line. When you speak in hyperbole you end up telling a story that eventually gets to the bottom line. Start with, ‘we are getting 50 more leads and here is why…’ and avoid, ‘So I ran an email campaign and a PPC campaign and had HUGE success. We are now getting 50 more leads.’ When you start with the bottom line, I am in a position to then ask appropriate questions like, ‘How did that happen?’”What does this mean?Don’t beat around the bush. Your boss is a busy person and you need to respect that. Give her the point of your discussion first, then go backward if questions are proposed. This will keep your communication streamlined and focused.2) Speak in numbers.I asked Kranz if he prefers the bottom line to be in numerical or qualitative data, and if he prefers to hear about the bottom line or have a document or graph to guide the information.I prefer numbers over words. A lot of CEOs are numbers-driven. Visual data is much quicker to digest, so if information can be visual, please make it so. If you give us a spreadsheet, we’re happy, but if you give us a paragraph to read, it can be left open to interpretation.”What does this mean?Numbers are powerful because they can communicate success (or problems) at a glance. Use them to your advantage when communicating with your boss — numerical data speaks for itself.3) Schedule when you communicate with your boss.Next, I asked Kranz if he prefers discussions with his marketing team to be scheduled in advance.It’s best to schedule a meeting with me. That way, I can plan for our discussion and focus. You don’t want my mind to be elsewhere, and if our discussion isn’t scheduled, then you’re most likely going to end up interrupting my workload, which is inefficient for both of us.”What does this mean?We all can attest to the fact that writing back and forth via email can get messy, so try not to fill your boss’s inbox with email after email from you.Instead, schedule meetings with your boss to avoid messy lines of email communication and walk-in office interruptions. This will help streamline your communications and save valuable time.4) Establish the that you have certain “rights” to communication.I asked Kranz if he limits the number of employees that he communicates with directly.Right now, I speak directly with everyone at our agency because there is only a handful of us, and that’s how our business model works. At companies I have been a part of in the past, with more than 50 employees, I would scale down my communications to about seven people. There isn’t a rule for it, it was just more effective that way.”What does this mean?Do you have the right to speak with your boss? Of course — we all have that right. But that doesn’t always make for effective communication.If you have concerns you want to address with your boss, but you’re not the main point of contact with her, you should bring your concerns to your direct supervisor. This person will address your concerns with you, or take it up the food chain to your boss.5) Communicate the anticipated results and next steps of your plans to your boss.Next, we chatted about how Kranz wants to discuss future plans and goals with employees.Always be able to tell me where we are, where we’re going, and how we’re going to get there. If we’re at point B and you want to get us to point A, then tell me how you plan to do that, and what will happen once that step occurs. Communicate the results of your plan and what the next steps are that I can help you with.”What does this mean?Communicate your plans effectively by addressing what the plan is, what the results will be and what the next steps are. If you bring these talking points to the table, you’ll be organized, and your plan will be well spoken for.6) Bring problems to your boss’s attention right away.If a problem emerges, Kranz wants his team to bring it to him right away.Come find me in person, because the problem needs to be addressed right away. Sending an email can delay my response time and doesn’t put us in a good position for a problem-solving discussion. Additionally, it’s smart to always bring at least one solution to the table. Never give me a problem without a solution, because then you’re just passing the buck.”What does this mean?Don’t skulk away when a problem pops up or a mistake occurs. Respond to it proactively, and don’t keep your boss in the dark. Communicate your own proposed solutions when you present the problem so you and your boss have a basis to start a problem-solving conversation.7) There’s a right time and place to promote your achievements.I asked Kranz how he prefers achievements and success be brought to his attention by direct reports.In a successful business, things are going well on a regular basis. If someone were to tell you every time something good happened, you would have someone running into your office all the time, because good news makes your business run. In my opinion, a monthly review of results would be best. It’s easier to digest these results as a report, too. During the review of results, your achievements should be highlighted. Weekly meetings are another good place for everyone to discuss their recent achievements.”What does this mean?We all love to brag about what we do well, but there’s a time and place to do it. Your work will speak for itself if you’re bringing in the type of results your boss is looking for. Then, you can get on your podium and share your achievements when you present reports to your boss or allocate time for success stories at the end of a meeting.8) All business-related topics are noteworthy.Kranz doesn’t believe there are any topics that would hinder effective communication between an employee and his or her boss.There’s nothing my team shouldn’t come to me with. We want to hear about how the team is working together and how your work environment is, so anything is open for discussion.”What does this mean:Speak to your boss about business topics that concern you, or any particular success-related stories. Communicating feedback on what is going on in your business environment is an effective way for your boss to see a full picture of the company from someone else’s perspective, so don’t hold back.Communication Is a Two-Way StreetEffective communication with your boss starts with you. You need to approach it a certain way for the conversation to be as productive as possible, so you can minimize the divide between executive and individual contributor perceptions across companies. To learn more about the global state of marketing and sales industries, download the 2017 State of Inbound report today.What are your strategies for communication effectively with your boss at work? Share with us in the comments below.Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2014 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.Want to learn more about office politics? Check out Want to Be Less Awkward Around Your Boss? Try These 11 Tips. Topics: Do you feel like you and your boss are on the same page most days of the week?If you nodded “yes” emphatically, that’s fantastic. But many readers might have a different opinion. In fact, a recent HubSpot survey revealed that while 70% of executives might reflect positively on their team’s marketing strategy, only 50% of individual contributors agree.As a marketer, it’s imperative to communicate effectively with your boss to avoid this executive divide. I wanted to create communication rules that all marketers can follow, so I went straight to the source for some answers and talked to my own boss.Download our complete workplace productivity guide here.I interviewed Rick Kranz about effective communication with his marketing team. He has more than 30 years of business management experience and was more than willing to share his opinions with us. Read on for his thoughts and key takeaways about communication strategies between managers and employees. Office Politics Don’t forget to share this post!
Marketing Mistakes Everyone makes mistakes. Even (especially?) marketers. Usually, we learn from them and move on with our lives, maybe escaping with just a touch of public shaming. But what happens to those companies that make mistakes on a much greater scale and cost their company millions in clout or (gulp) dollars?They go down in history as the biggest marketing mistakes of our time. It’s hard to move on when you’re being cited as the example of what not to do, huh?Download Now: Free Ad Campaign Planning KitWe looked into the biggest mistakes from many popular brands — but glossed similar instances of faux pas from smaller companies, because, well, we don’t want to hurt the up-and-comers.Keep reading for a little entertainment, and some reminders of what you should never do to ensure you don’t repeat these mistakes yourself.8 Legendary Marketing Mistakes to Avoid Replicating at All CostsGuerilla Marketing Without Due DiligenceTone Deaf TweetsLackluster New LogosLosing Sight of Loyal CustomersBeing Too Speedy With SendsPromising Free Stuff — and Running out of ItFixing Something That Isn’t BrokenGetting Lost in Translation 1) Guerilla Marketing Without Due DiligenceIn 2007, Cartoon Network launched a guerrilla marketing campaign in which it set up LED signs in various places throughout cities to promote one of their cartoons.A resident in Boston, however, thought the devices were bombs and called the police. This turned into a terrorism scare, resulting in the shut-down of many public transportation lines, bridges, and roads.The problem cost the head of Cartoon Network his job, and the broadcasting company $2 million in compensation for the emergency response team. Source: Business InsiderThe tweet came from the Kenneth Cole corporate Twitter account — actually, from the chairman himself, as indicated by the “KC” in the tweet.The company received negative feedback immediately, and they soon took the tweet down in response and apologized to anyone offended by the tweet. The lesson social media marketers can learn from this awful mistake is that humor doesn’t work if you’re newsjacking something contentious.3) Lackluster New LogosIn October 2010, Gap launched a new logo in an attempt to be more modern. Guess how long that lasted?Source: Vanity FairA whopping two days.Gap quickly put the old logo back into place after unbelievable backlash from the public.Gap, known for everyday basics, tried to redo their image to appeal to a more hip crowd. Unfortunately, the brand didn’t understand who its target market is — the people who want the basics and aren’t interested in trendy styles. Its loyal customers felt that Gap was changing their image for the worse, and lost a connection with the brand.Gap was also unsuccessful at attracting the younger, trendy generation with the redesign (albeit, only a two-day redesign), resulting in a failure on two fronts with this new logo.While it wasn’t so awful for Gap to pursue a logo redesign, the lesson is simply to stay in touch with your buyer personas so you can ensure your new design reflects them. Marketers focus a lot on metrics — for good reasons — but never underestimate your audience’s feelings towards your brand. They’re harder to quantify, sure, but boy will people speak out when their sensibilities are offended.4) Losing Sight of Loyal CustomersIn 2011, Netflix had a $16 billion market value with its mail-order rental. But then, the brand decided to enter the digital streaming market with a brand called “Qwikster,” an easy alternative to mail order DVDs.Source: Idea LemonUnfortunately, splitting the company between Netflix’s mail-order DVDs and Qwikster’s DVD streaming made things more complicated — not to mention, it resulted in a 60% price increase for those who wanted both services.Even worse, current customers weren’t grandfathered into the new price structure at the old rate, causing serious negativity amidst all the general confusion. Plus, the Qwikster Twitter handle was already owned by someone else: a pot smoker who discussed boredom, smoking, and partying.According to CNET, the company lost 800,000 subscribers and its stock price dropped 77% in four months.Businesses need to remain agile and fast-moving to stay relevant, but make sure you communicate those changes to your audience clearly before making them. Oh, and don’t forget to show gratitude to your current customers, instead of giving them the short end of the stick.5) Being Too Speedy With SendsIn December 2011, the New York Times sent an email to people who recently canceled their subscriptions asking them to reconsider, and giving them a discount to sweeten the deal.Sounds like a good idea to get a customer back, right?Too bad an employee accidentally sent it to 8 million subscribers — instead of the list of 300 that it was meant for. Whoops.Source: Daily BeastSubscribers instantly assumed that the email was spam as a result of hackers. Some were even mad that they weren’t getting the same discount as a loyal customer.Of course, employees responded immediately apologizing and telling people it was an unfortunate human error.Still, this type of mistake is every email marketer’s nightmare, and it serves as a much-needed reminder to always double check your list before clicking ‘Send’ on any campaign!6) Promising Free Stuff — and Running out of ItTimothy’s Coffee did what many brands have done to increase social media reach: offer a coupon or free sample for following them on social media.Unfortunately, Timothy’s offered more than it could deliver, depleting its supply of free K-cup packs after only three days.Get this: It wasn’t until two weeks later that Timothy’s sent out a message saying that coupons and samples were issued on a first-come, first-serve basis. Talk about too little, too late.Source: Sparker Strategy GroupDespite an apology video and the potential for receiving a free coupon in the mail, Timothy’s is still trying to recover from the fan backlash on social media. When running a contest on social media, don’t underestimate the impact of your offer — especially if it’s meant to grow reach.Think about it: If your contest works — and you’re designing a contest based on the premise that it will work, I hope — your reach will get bigger with each new participant. If you can’t actually back up your end of the contest bargain, all that new reach will be used to hurt your brand, instead of singing its praises.7) Fixing Something That Isn’t BrokenIn 1985, Coca-Cola tried to introduce a new, sweeter version of their beverage to combat its (then) new competitor: Pepsi.Those of us who were around at the time remember the Pepsi commercials boasting that, in blind taste tests, people preferred its taste over Coke’s. This campaign is a symptom of thinking in a silo — marketers must always be aware of current events and public sentiment when crafting campaigns. Most people, particularly city dwellers, are on high alert for signs of something fishy. I guess you can say hindsight is 20/20, but large-scale guerrilla marketing campaigns of this nature should really consider all possible outcomes before launch.2) Tone Deaf TweetsIn early 2011, a tweet was sent out from Kenneth Cole’s Twitter account trying to promote their new spring collection. No big deal, right? Except when it’s offensive, insensitive, and offends millions of people. The tweet was a poor play on the political turmoil happening at the time in Egypt: Topics: Originally published Nov 28, 2017 7:07:00 PM, updated October 07 2019 Coke, for its part, felt the need to regain market share with a new recipe. So, how did that turn out? Not well. Public response was so negative, in fact, that people were actually hoarding the old Coke flavor, and selling it on the black-market for grossly inflated prices.Why were people so upset? Coke’s brand embodied classic American traditions — so, Coke drinkers didn’t want a new flavor. They wanted that classic beverage whose secret recipe was guarded under lock and key in Georgia.Finally, after retiring the “New Coke” recipe, sales of the old classic — actually renamed “Coca-Cola Classic” to make it extra clear to consumers — rose significantly.So, what do we take away from this marketing mistake? Learn what your customers want before spending time and money on a top-secret product or service change.8) Getting Lost in TranslationCoke wasn’t the only major beverage to blunder, though. When Pepsi expanded its market to China, it launched with the slogan, “Pepsi brings you back to life.”What the brand didn’t realize, however, is that the phrase actually translated to, “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave.” Source: Glantz DesignOkay, maybe this mistake is kind of funny. But, when you’re a brand that’s working toward major international expansion, a mistake like this one might not exactly have you in stitches.If you’re launching a new market, be sure to do some cultural research. And please — ask native speakers of the language what your slogan actually means. Don’t forget to share this post!