Content Marketing Suite – Parfait in #YGK

Content Marketing from Attachmedia.com
Image Source: Attachmedia.com

It has been a long journey, but my fellow classmates and I are now in the final days of the semester and that means all reports and projects are due for Interactive Marketing Communications at St. Lawrence College.

Today, I will be sharing the creative strategy and final pieces from our Content Marketing Plan for Parfait, which is a fresh and frozen yoghurt bar in downtown Kingston. Parfait is a young business that is wants to grow its brand via new and innovative tactics.

My hope is that over the holidays, I will be able to post the full report to my Portfolio, so I will not go into the full research and decision-making process. However, I will share the objectives and creative strategy that led to the creation of 4 types of content: An infographic, a video, a podcast, and a subscription email newsletter.

PLAN OBJECTIVES
  1. To create 4 pieces of informative and valuable content for Parfait’s target audience to increase awareness and engagement with the brand online.
  2. Create a positive relationship with Parfait’s brand.
  3. Establish the brand as a unique & essential part of the downtown community.
TArGET AUDIENCE

Our primary target for the campaign are women between the age of 20-35 who are ambitious, active, and concerned about their health.. These women are involved in the community and are constantly looking for healthy options when it comes to food.

CREATIVE STRATEGY

Parfait is a new business (5 months old) and this plan will target consumers in the awareness stage and consideration stage. All creative content will focus on the freshness and simplicity of the yogurt product, as well as fueling a healthy body and an ambitious lifestyle.

We really liked the idea of yoghurt as a natural fuel for healthy and ambitious young professionals and students, and this creative idea shows up repeatedly in our content. The last consideration was to maintain a tone that is informative and inspiring.

INFOGRAPHIC

Parfait Infographic 

VIDEO

Both our video and newsletter feature expert advice from a local nutritionist. We really wanted to focus on the kind of content for people who are making informed choices about what to put in their bodies.

PODCAST

Our podcast continued to build on the idea of yoghurt as a clean and natural fuel by asking community members ‘What Fuels You?’, with the understanding that this could be an ongoing series on healthy living in Kingston, ON.

NEWSLETTER

The newsletter is slightly different in tone as it is less of an awareness piece and is more positioned towards customers who have become loyal to Parfait and have submitted their email address for ongoing content. Once again, this piece is highlighted by expert advice from a local nutritionist, but there would also be a monthly inspirational quote, as well as select pieces from health and lifestyle blogs. *Click on the image for the full email PDF.

newsletter-screenshot

FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE PROJECT

In the end, this was one of the most enjoyable projects of the semester because the variety of content meant that we were working on something different all the time. It was also challenging because there is such a fine line between content and promotion. A small local business (especially one that is less than a year old) can produce their own content, but they also need to consistently connect the content to their brand in a way that is not pushy – but rather continues to offer information and value to either potential or current customers.

I believe that we were able to successfully walk the line between content and promotion, but I would love to hear other opinions – especially from those professional marketers out there. Please feel free to add your comments below, or you can reach me through the contact information at the right side of the page. ~~DJB.

Starting a nonprofit in Ontario: First steps

I consider myself something of a rarity (novelty?) in the School of Business at St. Lawrence College in that my motivation has always been more geared towards marketing in the nonprofit and public sectors vs. the private sector. This is largely due to my personal politics, but I have also come to believe that the nonprofit sector desperately needs an influx of marketing expertise and support, and I want to do my part to help fill the gaps – especially for my local community.

There are so many organizations in Kingston, ON that are working hard to serve the people of this community, but we are at risk of losing those services if we don’t help them to strategically plan for their activities, growth, and survival. The lack of expertise is largely due to funding constraints and small budgets for nonprofits, which means that career opportunities are minimal. Many nonprofits are staffed and managed by volunteers – as much by necessity as by design – and the skill sets of those volunteers (no matter how willing) does not often include strategic planning and marketing communications on a professional level.

Thankfully, there are some resources out there for organizations if you know where to look. More than that, I believe that marketing resources for nonprofits are increasingly available online due to the need mentioned above – fueled by increased access via digital and social media. These supports can range from basic videos like the one below, to web hubs for the sector.

I was recently approached by a community activist from Napanee who wanted to start a nonprofit that provided free bicycles to those in need in her region, and she really had no idea how and where to start. During our consultation, it was obvious that she is clearly an intelligent and hard-working volunteer with leadership abilities. She simply needs a helping hand from someone with experience, and some tools to help her navigate the process.

Even as someone with 8 years with Kingston nonprofits, it took a bit of thoughtful searching to figure out the most A/necessary B/practical and C/accessible resources to help her start the process. In the end, I gave her the following four links:

Image credit: sectorsource.ca
Image credit: sectorsource.ca

Sector Source connects charities and nonprofits with resources that help develop organizations and support the work you do for your communities.

Source credit: www.charityvillage.com
Image credit: http://www.charityvillage.com

Charity Village communicates employment opportunities and resources for the Canadian nonprofit and charity sector.

Ontario Nonprofit Network (ONN) – News, policy and resources for the nonprofit sector in Ontario

Ontario’s Not-for-profit Act – The legislative framework for nonprofits in the province of Ontario

This is just a starting point for a new organization, and I recognize that the information on these sites is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the tools and resources needed by nonprofit volunteers, boards, and community leaders. I would love to hear from other marketers and those with nonprofit experience if you have better examples or other easily available resources. Please feel free to contact me through the comments, or through any of the connections in the sidebar navigation.

~~DJB.

Get Your Horns On 2014: Inspiration and Perspiration

Get Your Horns On 2014 It has now been a week since my return to St. Lawrence College for the fall semester and honestly…it has been a blur. As a matter of reflection, I want to write a few words about my experience coming back to the School of Business for Year 3, and the best tool to explain how I feel is my experience with the 2014 edition of our Get Your Horns On fundraiser.

For those who know nothing about this fundraising drive, it involves the mobilization of most of the School of Business and the sale of MANY horned Viking hats. The money raised goes to the college’s Business Student Initiative fund, which allows business students to take part in special projects, as well as directing money to other worthy causes such as KIVA, TEDx, and the Ryan Taylor bursary. You can find out more at the link above.

I have to admit that as a 3rd year student, I did not experience the same verve and drive this time around. I have a distinct memory of having my competitive juices flowing freely last year, and I think this is a phenomenon shared by many upper year students. This does not mean that I (or others) see the fundraiser as any less a worthy activity, but I felt myself being far more concerned with sorting out my student loans, class schedule, and figuring out my lifestyle logistics for the busy final year that we have been promised by the faculty.

I recognized my lack of inspiration for GYHO from Day 1, so instead of forcing the issue I tried to draw upon my love for volunteering by playing more of a cheerleading and helping role for the Orientation Leadership. Roughly speaking, this means that I took my joy from handing out helmets and encouraging the first and second-year students to put their best foot forward.

In the end, my fundraising totals were far below last year, but I eventually did find great inspiration in the ingenuity and work ethic of our new business students. The blurry picture above was a team that became especially notable to me because they were able to pull together an incredible amount of donations, gift cards and swag from local businesses in the span of 2-5 hours. From my perch in the Student Association lounge, watched them make many phonecalls on that first day and simply could not believe the kind of community support they were able to drum up in an afternoon.

Impressive as that was, the team above did not take home the grand prize. That went to another group of new students who became recognizable to me because I met all five of them selling helmets downtown at 9PM on Wednesday night. If you are willing to sell helmets downtown in the dark, you are showing the perspiration necessary to do very well in our School of Business…So they really must be congratulated for that, as well as for inspiring my pride in our student body.

Thanks again to all of the teams for their hard work. Thank you to the faculty for giving their time and energy. Thank you to our amazing Orientation Leadership in Emily and Beth for bringing it all together. Now…if I can only memorize my fall schedule, then maybe this year will turn out just fine.

~DJB.

Canada Post: Research and Ethical Decision-making

Stepping Stones believes that Canada Post CEO Deepak Chopra should be fired.
Stepping Stones believes that Canada Post CEO Deepak Chopra should be fired.

This will be my last ‘official’ post on our Canada Post research project, which means that I technically do not have to complete any more for our COMM 57 assignment. However, I have pushed myself to build the research page to try to carry this topic through to the point where I will post our research findings over the next 3 weeks.

In the way of a quick update, our team does have quite a bit of data to sort through now, so I am budgeting a couple of weeks to sort through it all, come up with some scintillating graphs, and put it in a report form that we can be proud to submit. I will offer my thanks to everyone that contributed their opinions. If you would like to fill out the survey or the interview sheet you can find it on the research page.

The assigned topic for today is Ethical Considerations, which will probably make this post a bit lighter on links and heavier on my opinion. I suppose I could go out and search for specifics articles on the importance of ethics and objectivity in research, but I am not in an academic mood. I want to shoot from the hip.

The first point of ethics I would like to discuss was touched on in my February 14th post. I admit that I have been critical of crown corporation management from the beginning because it seems like the decision to cut home delivery and raise stamp prices was done virtually in a vacuum. There was very little public input, no access to market research, Canada Post employees were not engaged sufficiently, and the decision was announced the day after the House of Commons exited their winter session.

None of the above aspects imply any kind of business rationale or accountability in decision-making for the crown corporation. This would be completely unacceptable for a publicly-traded corporation, so I cannot understand how CEO Deepak Chopra has escaped more severe public scrutiny. Canada Post continues to be mismanaged and I have trouble understanding why this man still has his job…UNLESS his decision-making is really being directed by the Canadian federal government, which is who appointed him in the first place.

This leads me to the question of the redacted and minimized market research that should be guiding the process of decision-making as Canada Post moves forward. When the company is part of public life and public interest, is it ethical to leave this document to collect dust on a shelf? How can we assume that the decisions made were anything but political decisions, when the business decision-making process has been ignored? I don’t need to tell Canada Post workers that their jobs are at stake, as is the quality of public services. This is not a small matter.

I will end my comments with a disclaimer that even without the business proof, I would be in favour of saving those jobs and continuing delivery service. I believe the benefits of public service contribute more to our economy than the cost. However, if I can bear down and use business principles to try to chart an honest and accountable path forward, I don’t see why our federal government cannot do the same. That is the thing that bothers me the most, because the Conservatives are awfully quick to invoke business rationale in their principles – but I just don’t see it in practice.

DJB.

Canada Post: The Marketing Communications Gap

 After a week’s hiatus, Stepping Stones is back for a fifth installment on our Canada Post research project. This should be the second-last post focusing specifically on the project before I move on to other community/public issues, but I will do my best to finish strong on a topic that affects all Canadians.

Tonight I am releasing a link to our research survey through FluidSurveys.com. This survey has now been completed 212 times, surpassing our goal of 200 responses, but a hard and fast rule of research is that your accuracy increases with a greater number and variety of participants. With that in mind, I would urge you to complete the survey if you can and please share through social media or other platforms.

Additionally, I will use this blog’s Canada Post Research category to share the personal interview that we created for the purpose of research triangulation – which is a fancy way of saying that it is the third source of research data. You can look for a link to a PDF version around 10:00 PM eastern tonight.

This is a short 8-question open-ended questionnaire that is designed to give more depth to our research because it allows for more thoughtful answers. If any of you would like to fill out the questionnaire for submission to our research, you can send a copy to dbeals21@student.sl.on.ca.

Those are all of the updates fit to print, but I should say a few words about the topic of Canada Post and Marketing, since that is the assigned topic for this week. If you have read our research proposal you will see that one of our assumed problems with Canada Post is a lack of communication with the public regarding the services that are currently offered. At first glance, this assumption has been supported by public opinion, but I look forward to sharing the results.

To be honest, it is not a great stretch to say that Marketing Communications has been a problem for the corporation. Canada Post has a website that I have shared many times, but is anyone aware of anything beyond a handful of news articles over the past two years that spoke about efforts to modernize Canada Post or promote the services that are offered? This kind of marketing promotion would be standard practice for a private corporation and it has to have had an impact on the use of services.

After all, we already know that the federal government is not shy about spending public dollars on advertising when it suits their self-promotional needs, but it would be nice to see them do it for a crown corporation that provides services and economic benefit to all Canadians. As a marketing professional and a public representative, this further influences my opinion that the government has made a concentrated effort to sabotage the success of Canada Post because they clearly know the benefits of a strong marketing communications plan, but have done nothing communicate with their customers.

LCBO - LCBO's 20th annual Ontario wine promotion
The LCBO employs an aggressive marketing promotion strategy

I will leave you with the contrasting strategy of the LCBO, which is a provincial crown corporation that has been very aggressive with its marketing communications and business development. While I have not always agreed with the LCBO’s treatment of its employees, I do appreciate that they are actively striving to be successful because the LCBO’s profits benefit all Ontarians. Why should Canada Post be any different?