International Marketing Done Right!
I am happy to share that Hostelling International’s Big Blog Exchange won 1st place in the WYSE Travel Confederation’s Global Youth Travel Awards for marketing innovation. It was wonderful to take part in something that was so well organized and thought out, and I think that they were aptly rewarded for their efforts. Their campaign was global and it engaged people from many countries across this planet. It was a huge success.
In light of this award recognition, I would just like to highlight the Big Blog Exchange as an international marketing project done correctly. Marketing to an international community can be quite difficult and present its own set of challenges. The effect that culture has in marketing is subtle yet important and therefore, it requires broad and considerate approaches, which incorporate a variety of personal styles. (By the way, you can get a newsletter update about the upcoming 2014 Big Blog Exchange at BigBlogExchange.org.)
I think campaigns like the Big Blog Exchange are the future when it comes to reaching and/or engaging with a particular audience. Companies will need to adapt with the times. The internet is an impactful force that many companies are starting to become well aware of, but that goes well beyond the forces of just social media platforms. Companies are realizing that it can be important to have a presence within the blogging communities outside of typical advertising practices.
Other companies have realized similar things and done things to a variety of scales. One example would be Travel Supermarket. They have a marketing campaign that is simple, yet effective. It is called Capture the Color contest. Capture the Color is about engaging a wide-variety of bloggers via a photo competition. Basically, bloggers nominate one another (5 at a time), to submit their favorite 5 photos capturing 5 different colors. They can use any photos from their travels. Each color has a different judge who selects a winner. Winners receive one of several gifts. This competition is done on a much smaller scale than Hostelling International’s Big Blog Exchange, but still does a lot to increase followers for Travel Supermarket.
How does this benefit the company?
Well, let’s just analyze the basics of the situation. I am mentioning these two companies, as well as providing links to their websites (win, win). This article will be consequently shared on Twitter, then to my Facebook page. It might also be shared on my other social media platforms. This article will be received by my email subscribers, not to mention others who read the article from my website. I have a social media following of about 2,500 at the moment, so potentially at least a moderate percentage of those will see this. Multiply this by how many other blogs and see what you get for the amount of people reached. Add cross promotion with the companies and it gets even better. Let’s just say that for a competition like the Capture the Color contest, 5 people nominate 5 people, who nominate 5 people, who nominate 5 people. That’s 625 people. If that cycle continues two more times, it is 15,625. The results are exponential. Take note if you are in marketing.
Not every company will be able to afford big campaigns like the Big Blog Exchange. Other companies can look to Travel Supermarket’s Capture the Color contest as a viable and affordable means of building followership, awareness, and credibility.
We have seen other successful international marketing campaigns that weren’t necessarily attached to any particular company. Two examples of these are the Liebster Award and the Versatile Blogger award. These two are peer awards, presumably started by an independent source, that engage a wide-range audience. They help smaller bloggers to present a little about themselves and help other bloggers to get to know about their websites. In addition, they enable bloggers to link up with other bloggers. Here is my entry from those two; they should have been separated though.
Therefore, companies can take a lot of lessons from these positive international marketing successes. To create new brand awareness and followers it is essential to market in ways that will make people want to get involved. Competitions, promotions, contests, and the like are all great ways to engage in the blogging community. Things should be straight forward, clear-cut, and honest. My participation in the Big Blog Exchange was just that. I knew that it would be somewhat promotional, but that it was of mutual benefit. Companies get promotion from you, while a blogger gets promoted by the company. Two entities working together can be a powerful promotional force. Imagine if you engage a lot more than two?
International marketing done wrong
I should mention one international marketing campaign that backfired, but it could have easily been avoided. Earlier this year, an employment company attempted a campaign to engage young travelers in working around the world. Their plan, I presume, was to promote their company while helping young travelers to have wonderful experiences around the world finding employment in a variety of sectors. The problem was that they used another bloggers website name and slogan, which ultimately demolished their campaign and attracted a lot of bad press for them.
The company used a blogger’s website slogan and name. The blogger, a well established travel blogger, had worked his way around the world and blogging about it. One day he woke up and his entire website name had been hijacked and his website no longer even showed high in Google searches. He created a peaceful movement against the company until they finally canceled the use of the name. This movement ignited travel bloggers around the world to write posts against the company in support of the blogger and his website. During this time, I viewed the comments on the company’s Facebook page and it was not good. It had hundreds of negative comments, possibly more.
Unfortunately, the company fought for some time before giving into the blogger’s request, which earned them lots of unnecessary and unwarranted attention. The blogger eventually got his website back and the company agreed to his terms, but what was the cost? The company had to agree and comply with the blogger’s financial conditions, which totaled into a hefty sum of over $50,000-100,000. Additionally, they likely lost a deal of credibility that is not necessarily measurable.
The moral of the story in this case is three-fold. First, as a company and/or marketer do your research. Research is extremely important. Know what you want to do, see if someone has done it, and be original. Second, give credit where credit is due. If the company, would have admitted fault initially, they would have been revered and likely received positive attention. They underestimated the power of the blogging community at-large, which leads me to my third and final point, respect the community and the work that they do. Bloggers work hard. They put countless hours into their websites and many people such as this particular blogger, make a decent living (or at least find opportunity) from them.
In the end, I commend the company for doing the right thing. They retracted their campaign and met the requests of the blogger. I think that it was a big lesson for everyone about Accepting Responsibility.