IKEA Demonstrates Effective Parody Advertising

Parody-as-marketing has be executed almost flawlessly to avoid the appearance of pettiness or coming off as “trying to hard.” This send-up of Apple and technology from IKEA is an excellent example of how to strike the right balance between playful parody and marketing when launching new promotions.

 

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How to Avoid Common Public Speaking Mistakes

Modern family quote: Look, I should probably just sit down and say nothing, but it's too late. I am standing, and I'm obviously talking, and now you're looking at me, and I feel the need to keep going.Do you struggle when it comes time for you to deliver your presentation to a crowd? Keep these common public speaking mistakes in mind the next time you’re preparing to give a presentation:

1. Your presentation is too long
2. Your presentation has too much detail
3. You don’t have a story
4. You don’t have a call to action
5. Your message is unclear
6. Your slides are boring
7. You’re making the wrong pitch

Take a look at this article from Ragan.com for more tips on improving your public speaking skills.

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What are the Best Times and Types of Content to Post on Social Media

Social Media Post TimesIf you’re trying to grow your organization’s social media presence, you might not realize that WHEN you post to social media can matter just as much as WHAT you’re posting. Take a look at this infographic from Quicksprout for a quick guide on ideal posting times for different social media platforms.

Find the full infographic here: http://bit.ly/1BiXLLc

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Using Stronger Bullet Points

Bullet pointsBullet points are one of the strongest tools in a communicator’s arsenal, taking complex chunks of information and laying it out in an easily digestible layout.  They can be used in all types of prose, from PowerPoint presentations to business proposals, and often make reading your content a much more accessible endeavor for your audience. More than simple tools for breaking down unwieldy information, bullet points can also be deployed in your content as tools to draw readers in and either keep them engaged in your writing or sell them a product or idea. These types of bullet points are referred to as “fascinations,” and are often used as marketing or sales tools, but can be repurposed for nearly any type of content.

Fascination bullet points come in two flavors: external fascinations and internal fascinations. External fascinations are used to prompt a call to action, typically by alluding to information, effects, or benefits of a product or service without revealing hard evidence or substance, a kind of “teaser” bullet if you will. The second type, internal fascinations, are slightly more versatile. Theses bullet points are meant to persuade your audience to continue reading your content, and are especially useful towards the beginning of blog posts, articles, or book summaries.

Finally, perhaps my favorite way to use bullet points is by “bullet chunking.” As any longtime BZ blog readers know, I am prone to compound sentences and complex ideas. The next time you have a long list of supporting evidence to back up a claim or thought, try removing each item and instead create a bulleted list, making your content more readable and therefore more persuasive.

For more tips on using bullet points effectively, take a look at these tips from Copyblogger: http://bit.ly/2eYTh6d

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Search Engine Optimization: A Starting Place

Magnifying glass showing the word engine among a background of zeros and onesIf you’re trying to extend your brand’s reach and recognition, search engine optimization is a good place to start but can seem daunting. Use this quick checklist as an easy starting point to help share your content with a wider audience:

  1. Title Tags: A title tag tells search engines what your webpage is about, and associates it with relevant keywords your audience will be searching for. Your title tags should be formatted like so: Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Brand Name. Try to keep your title tags unique for each page in order to ensure your audience is seeing the best possible match for the content they’re searching for.
  2. Meta Descriptions: A meta description is the text you see beneath the links in your search engine results, and is a key component to encourage your audience to actually click through your link in their search engine results page to your website. Again, try to keep each meta description for each page of your website unique, and keep them to 150 to 160 characters each.
  3. Keyword-rich Content: Google and other search engines will penalize your website if you have multiple pages with the same content, so make sure that each of your webpages has content that is unique and relevant.
  4. Header Tags: A header tag is essentially the subject line of your webpage – be sure to use your keywords in your header tags in order to drive traffic to your site.
  5. Image Alt Tags: An alt tag is the name you give to images on your website. When possible, these should also use your relevant keywords, as this will help drive traffic to your webpage through image search results. Alt tags also make your website more accessible, as visitors using screen readers will be able to hear the description of the image in question.

For more tips on optimizing your web pages for search engines, see the full checklist from Orbit Media here: http://bit.ly/2bXiD3X

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Getting the Right Feedback

Business Colleagues Working with Laptop ca. 2003Testimonials are among the most powerful marketing tools available, but getting useful feedback from customers can sometimes feel like pulling teeth. Oftentimes customers are generically positive when leaving feedback, providing glowing reviews but without the right language to push undecided consumers to also choose your goods or services over a competitor’s. Copyblogger author Sean D’Souza recommends starting with the following 6 questions in order to get the most out of your customer testimonials:

  1. What was the obstacle that would have prevented you from buying this product?
  2. What did you find as a result of buying this product?
  3. What specific feature did you like most about this product?
  4. What are three other benefits of this product?
  5. Would you recommend this product? If so, why?
  6. Is there anything you’d like to add?

Read through the full quick guide from Copyblogger to make sure you’re asking questions that will generate powerful testimonials: http://bit.ly/1c2sp1Z

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Buzzwords, Jargon, and Clichés

Business Buzzwords InfographicWhile widely used business buzzwords can be effective communication shortcuts, be careful not to overuse industry speak with your clients and coworkers. Not only can these catchy, “inside baseball” terms come of as rote or cliché among your peers, with overuse it becomes more likely that your consulting jargon finds its way into public relations copy or deliverables you generate. Here are a few quick examples that are fine to use in the conference room, but that you should keep out of your writing:

  • Deep Dive: when you spend a little more time in the weeds than you probably should. It’s a PowerPoint presentation, not a scuba class.

 

  • Game Changing: just because there a new hot concept on the block doesn’t mean the game won’t be played the exact same way next week.
  • Low-Hanging Fruit: no-ladder-required apples are fine in the beginning, but don’t forget that you’ll have to do some tree-climbing at some point.

Read the full list from PR Daily here, and keep it in mind the next time you’re in a meeting or drafting your next deliverable.

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Jazzing Up Your Conversations

Too often when we engage in debates with colleagues or friends, the conversation becomes a back and forth of rehashed concepts, each side just waiting for their next turn to talk. This habit of taking turns talking AT each other back and forth is unlikely to actually change anyone’s mind, as cathartic as it may be to vent our tightly-held opinions to the wind. To truly engage in any meaningful dialogue, it is much more effective to view your conversation partner as a teammate, adjusting to what they’re saying in an effort to direct the conversation to your desired outcome.  Cathy Rose Salit, the author of Performance Breakthrough, likens this conversation method to performing a jazz piece, each conversation a co-created work of art that changes based on the input of both “performers.” Using this method of actively engaging in conversation will help keep people genuinely interested in what you’re saying, helping them hear your message.

Watch Salit further expand on this useful metaphor in her short video below,or at inc.com here: https://lnkd.in/eFiegGq

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Client Spotlight: Supporting IDIS at Summer Tradeshows

IDIS executive signing agreement at IFSEC 2016The BZ team made its return to the US earlier this month after supporting global client IDIS at two major security industry tradeshows in June. The team’s first stop was Philidelphia, PA, where IDIS showcased  the latest generation of its total solution technologies at the NRF PROTECT exhibition, including its flagship DirectIP™ platform and a number of proprietary technologies with particular relevance to loss-prevention and the retail sector. BZ then crossed the Atlantic, arriving in London, UK for the IFSEC 2016 tradeshow, marking the fourth IDIS appearance at the global security exhibition. Learn more about this BZ client at http://www.idisglobal.com.

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Emoting in the Workplace

Assorted emojisDuring this age in which the text message seems to have far outstripped the phone call as the communication method of choice, emojis have become a language all their own. From smiley faces to side-eye smirks, the ubiquitous yellow faces are now also widely used on Facebook and have found their way into professional emails as well – but is the workplace really an appropriate setting for sending emojis back and forth?

When deciding whether or not to use an emoji in your workplace correspondence, a good rule of thumb that I generally follow is a simple one: know your audience. If you’re writing to a client who frequently uses emojis in his or her emails to you, then by all means feel free to include a lighthearted grinning face. If your email is meant for a stern, tight-laced supervisor, however, it might be a better idea to stick to prose to convey your message.

There are times when abstaining from emoji use may be the right call regardless of your audience, however. We often turn to emojis to help clarify intent by attaching emotion to our message – but in reality, the recipient of an email in the workplace is likely to misinterpret the message as more emotionally negative or neutral than intended. For example, when offering corrective feedback, a supervisor may include a smiley face to soften the blow, explaining that a mistake is “no big deal.” That smile is often all to easy for an employee to interpret as condescending or passive aggressive. To avoid these mishaps, try to think about the worst-case scenario interpretation when sending feedback – it’s often less complicated to avoid emoting inthe first place.

Take a look at more considerations on emojis in the workplace in this quick article from TLNT: http://www.eremedia.com/tlnt/to-emoji-or-not-to-emoji/

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