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Presenter on stage at Blackhawk Network Summit

Inside the Blackhawk Network Summit

Each year, Blackhawk Network holds a Summit. At this Summit, the companies who sell gift cards through Blackhawk’s network and the retailers who sell those gift cards get together to talk about the state of the gift card industry, what’s new, and how it can continue to grow. For the past five years, AWG has attended this Summit to represent the approximately 1,100 store locations on the 3rd-party gift card program. The most recent Summit was held May 1-3, 2017. AWG Corporate Marketing Manager, Kate Favrow, and AWG In-Store Marketing Supervisor, Bryan Wright, were present at the event. They had 17 one-on-one meetings with card partners including Google Play, Apple, Domino’s, Best Buy, Petsmart, GameStop, and Bass Pro Shop, just to name a few. During these meetings, the AWG team presented promotional opportunities to the card partners. In the latter half of 2017, AWG Marketing will be running everyday awareness campaigns, including one solely focused on the big birthday month of September, a Back to School buy/get promotion, a Black Friday buy/get promotion, and a Holiday shipper. These promotions have…

Brainstorm notes of elements that contribute to a brand.

Branding Strategies for Consumer Engagement

As marketers, our most notable objective is to engage with consumers. While that sounds nice, it is often a pretty difficult objective to excel at consistently. Consumers are fickle, their attention is being pulled a million different ways, and our message may one day be their priority, but the next day may not. One way to cut through the clutter is to deliver a recognizable brand experience. At a recent Kansas City Direct Marketing Association luncheon, Darryl Mattox from Gragg Advertising and Julie Pinedo from Guadalupe Centers talked about how a rebranding project led to more consumer engagement. Conduct Surveys The first step of the rebranding project was to conduct a consumer survey. This survey was to all Guadalupe Centers stakeholders and delivered in both online and printed form and in Spanish and in English to ensure equitable participation. While the survey asked for specific feedback, it also gave the team the opportunity to take the temperature of others on the rebranding project and see what opposition they might face along the way. There were five consumer survey best practices…

Puzzle with Social Media as a Puzzle Piece

5 Trends in Social Media

“Should I even bother with facebook anymore?” “Can you tell me how to do Snapchat?” “Why do I need to spend money on social media?” These are all questions I get pretty regularly from retailers. One thing we all know about social media is that it’s always changing. Knowing these types of questions are prevalent across industries and level of expertise, FleishmanHillard’s Justin Goldsborough recently hosted a Social Media Refresher to talk through five trends on social media. Media consumption is changing There are more ways than ever to connect, and the environment is noisy and fragmented. 75% of our waking day is spent consuming media and smartphone use continues to rise. With this in mind, Goldsborough encouraged marketers to create content in ways to grab attention and cater to the screen we’re on. No matter what, he said to look at marketing in an integrated fashion rather than looking at the channels in silos. Facebook organic reach is dying The numbers aren’t good for facebook organic reach. Goldsborough quoted 1-2% of a page’s audience seeing a post on facebook…

Photo of clipboard with check list.

What to do? Evolving Your Traditional Marketing

With all the different ways of marketing to consumers these days, retailers sometimes have a hard time knowing where to spend their money. We all know that as the options for marketing expand, the amount of money to spend on them stays the same. With vendor funding evolving as well, sometimes this bucket of money to spend on marketing is even shrinking. This leaves retailers asking the question: What should I do? Have a website. If you don’t have a website in 2017 consumers might wonder if you’re even in business. Google processes 3.5 Billion searches each day. It’s the default way people find information. If you don’t have a website, you aren’t helping consumers find you or information about your store. Sharlyn wrote a blog post about why you need a website, you can find it here. Whether you already have one or need one, make sure it is mobile responsive, optimized for search and gives your brand authenticity, Google and other search engines care about all those things when showing search results to consumers. Participate in rebate signage…

Scoreboard with 12 to 24 as the score.

Social with Lean Resources

Ever feel like your social media strategy is to just get points on the board? Get the content posted, make sure feeds are populated and interact with someone every once in awhile? At a recent Social Media Club of Kansas City lunch, Dan Smith, Sr. Manager, PR & Social Media Strategist for Cerner, admitted that was the case when he started at Cerner 18 months ago. With minimal resources and a evolving healthcare IT industry, Smith knew he had the opportunity to expand Cerner’s ability to connect with its most vital followers. Look at Metrics The first thing when trying to manage social media with lean resources is to understand what is working. For Cerner, their blog had been up since 2005 and they maintain social accounts on facebook, twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn, but the real goal historically was to make sure all content was being posted on different channels. That’s it. To build a meaningful presence though, Smith knew they needed to dig deeper into who was connecting with them on the different platforms. That’s when they looked at…

A pile of New Years party hats

A Look Ahead for 2017

2016 has been a busy year in the AWG Marketing department! Through dynamic and evolving programs, we continue to push the boundaries of what independent grocery retailers can do when it comes to their marketing programs. Let’s take a quick look back on some of the highlights: AWG Brands Digital Growth – From giveaways to a content calendar, we are continuing to build ways for you to showcase Best Choice, Always Save, Clearly Organic, & Superior Selections. Giveaways revolved around fun activities such as camping and picnics, seasonal events like Back to School, and even food holidays like Peanut Butter Day and Coffee Day. Short recipe videos met the consumer demand for quickly-consumed video content in social channels and digital coupons were introduced to coincide with the growth in that area. The brand websites were rebuilt to be mobile-friendly and optimized for search and the revamped awgbrands.com aggregates the brands’ social channels, making them easier to share. New Website Platforms– In mid-2016, we introduced new options for retailers wanting a new website. Webstop and Media Solutions joined Brick as AWG…

customer-journey graphic from discovery to educaiton to trust to conversion to advocacy

Practical Steps to Building Your Customer Journeys

Is your customer journey a road to nowhere? That question started off a recent presentation by emfluence teammates Sara Theurer and Alex Boyer. Their discussion revolved around how marketers can help build engaging and memorable customer journeys. To answer the question, though, one had to know what a customer journey is. It is the journey customers take when interacting with a business. Boyer noted it happens in 5 steps: Discovery, Education, Trust, Conversion & Advocacy, yet these days, those steps aren’t navigated from start to finish in that order. There are multiple entry points to the journey because customers are experiencing so many different forms of messaging. Any of the behaviors we want customers to perform aren’t just instinct, customers need to be guided through the journey and we do this through customer touch points, whether indirect like blog posts or direct via emails. Conduct a Customer Journey Audit To help sculpt the customer journey, and the Discovery & Education of your brand, Boyer shared some best practices to put in place. The first is an audit of what you…

Graphic of the local search ecosystem. Google and local in the middle with lots of arrows around them.

The Impact of Social on Search

Someone asks you a question and you don’t know the answer. What do you do? Like millions of others, you pull out your phone and you find your preferred search engine. You type in keywords related to the information in question and 20 seconds later, you now have the answer. Looking at the search ecosystem above from Moz, the waters are muddy and there are many factors to consider when it comes to making sure you get found when you want to. One of those factors is social media. At the November SMCKC breakfast, Corey Morris of ER Marketing shared some tips on how your social media presence can help enhance search. The most critical part of enhancing search with social media is a given according to Morris: Build a Strong Brand. A strong brand, with information people want to know, is naturally going to attract links, social followings, and mentions. As these brand components are part of the search algorithm, a brand that has built these well will naturally show up higher in search ranking. Since that isn’t as…

Succeeding on Facebook – Secrets of the Algorithm

One pro of facebook: the audience is huge. One con of facebook: the audience is huge. In the last 10 years, facebook’s active users haven’t just grown, but the number of advertisers and organizations using the platform has grown as well. Word on the street is marketing on facebook without money behind it is dead. At a recent AAFKC event Ramsey Mohsen of Everhance said that’s just plain not true. He shared some of the ways his facebook properties like Did You Know succeed without paid support behind them. Content Before diving into the actual algorithm tricks, Mohsen stressed the importance of enhancing the kind of content being created. “Consistency facilitates recognition” Mohsen’s first piece of advice is to create content that has a consistent look and feel. The content his team creates for the Did You Know property all has a black background, white copy and an image at the bottom of the graphic. The words on the graphic have a certain cadence and a rhythm. Mohsen reasons that our minds are more comfortable consuming creative that we’ve seen…

Woman in grocery store holding phone and juice looking at juice label.

To Beacon or Not to Beacon? That is the Question.

The holy grail of marketing is catching consumers right at the point of decision. This can be ultimately very difficult because decisions are made in different phases of the path to purchase. Some consumers make decisions about what they’re going to buy when pouring over the new weekly ad on the website. Some consumers make decisions after seeing a sale price on the shelf. A new technology with the potential to influence those decisions is beacons, or proximity marketing broadly. Yet retailers have to understand the constraints and opportunities involved with this type of marketing before diving in. A recent Path to Purchase expo session with Greg Chambers and Nicole Hutcheson from The Coca-Cola Company, dove further into beacons and warned both brands and retailers to tread cautiously because while this kind of marketing is enticing, it is also complicated. Beacons have been the desired medium to deliver proximity marketing messages to consumers. The essence of proximity marketing, according to the speakers, is enriching consumer’s lives and experiences where they are in the moment. Shoppers are looking for new ways…