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What The Walking Dead Teaches Us About Online Marketing

the-walking-dead1The Walking Dead is more than a zombie show featuring Daryl Dixon’s cutoff flannel shirts and Carl’s 21st century insensitivity — it’s about personal relationships, mob mentality, and a few elements you can incorporate into your company’s branding campaigns.

We love TWD at Grammar Chic. It’s a ritual for many of us, sitting down to watch characters we’ve grown close to survive in the wild and wicked world they fight through every day. But whether you’re a die-hard fan, have never seen a single episode, or would prefer the role of a walker, the cast reflects a number of marketing successes and failures that easily translate into today’s world.

Survivalist Branding

Every character on the show has opinions, makes mistakes, and has a defined personality. Here’s a spoiler-free rundown of what our favorite “survivors” (no spoilers, I promise!) can teach us about building relationships via content marketing, social media, and business-based branding:

  • Rick: Rick’s flip-flop role as a leader has hurt his reputation among the other survivors. They all know what he can do, but his hesitancy and overalls (it’s a farmer joke?) have made him weak. He is stuck trying to be a father, a survivor, a leader, and a pacifist — how can a brand expect to survive by playing all of these roles?
  • Daryl: This crossbow-wielding hero became a fan favorite right out of the gate. His originality, convictions, touching monologues (re-watch “Cherokee Rose” and try not to tear up), and all-around badassery sheds light on the most important aspect of branding: Principles. He knows what he wants and does it. Daryl doesn’t need to be told — he acts. It’s not too late to be more like Daryl and market like you mean it.
  • The Governor: The Governor has an “eye” fixed on the future. He wants consistency in Woodbury, peace, safety — three things he failed miserably at. Why? Because he’s a psychopath. He wants the unobtainable and doesn’t understand that other people (i.e. consumers) have their own wants and needs. When marketing, you have to balance your business’ goals and meet demand in the middle.
  • Lori: Also known as the head-in-the-box co-star of Prison Break, Lori adds a motherly element to TWD. She, however, teaches marketers the key element behind any campaign: Your actions dictate the opinions of others. What you say about yourself (i.e. your company) means everything, but what you do can have lasting repercussions. Businesses have to consider the partnerships they make and the company they keep (*cough* Shane), because the actions of others, as well as your own, can bring your brand down.
  • Shane: Don’t be a Shane — enough said.

I’ll sum up Carol, Michonne, and Carl as a whole. These characters are definite side-effects of the times, each struggling to find a place in the zombified world. Michonne takes on walkers with a one-edge approach that works, though she lacks the sociability to draw any other survivor’s sympathy. Carol has adapted well enough to Z-day, though her judgment is clouded by sacrificing her humanity for those she protects. When branding, you have to keep everyone’s wellbeing in mind and find middle-ground approaches that don’t end in flames. Carl? Our little cowboy is just trying to evolve. He knows what is expected of him in this new world and would do well in a zombie-business sense because he understands it better than most.

Walkers 101

It took Rick a few episodes to coin the term “Walker” and figure out that A) They are bitey and B) Have a flesh fetish. These walkers are a bit less civilized and decayed than your average consumer, but there is still a thing or two to learn from the show’s reanimated corpses. Like the living, walkers respond to stimuli. Noise and smell do the trick when it comes to unwittingly attracting them. You, as a brander, social media aficionado, or marketer, understand that every consumer reacts differently to incentives, but nonetheless all react.

You need to find your ideal walker (i.e. client or shopper) and learn what they love. Is it deals? Witty social media? Free cheese samples on rainy Sundays? Your ideal, repeat customer is the one to focus on. Like a herd of walkers, once you figure out how to maneuver the one, you’re able to tap into the many. This mob-marketing mentality applies to every industry and, like when clearing out a prison yard, it’s more efficient to take a direct hammer-to-the-head (We’ll see about you, Tyreese…) approach than it is to surgically initiate specific brain-bashing strategies for every walker.

This method fits social marketing perfectly. Crowd hashtags like #OneLeggedHershel were a big hit. Why? Because it was crude, accurate, and insanely viral. It, like other episode tags, was initiated by Chris Hardwick, the host of that one show DVRs don’t record after The Walking Dead. The tag, while gruesome, tapped into viewers’ imaginations and gave them something to say about the current episode. Jokes like “Will Hershel die? I’m stumped” and others surfaced at once, though TWD did exactly what you should do for your own media campaigns. It wasn’t afraid to try something new and current.

Between The Talking Dead, iOS and Android apps, AMC’s Story Sync (the follow-along 2nd screen experience), and participation between cast and crew in social media, TWD has a multi-pronged approach to engaging its fan horde. Though it has teams to handle this marketing load, it isn’t impossible for you to expand your own tactics to reel in more followers and fans.

Think of it like a prison or, if you’re not that far in the series, a farm or an RV: How do I get along with everyone, avoid getting bitten from an online reputation standpoint, and brand myself? Does this mean becoming a Dale and trying to micromanage everybody at once? Or the Daryl approach of simply getting the job done? It’s up to you, really, on how you’re going to help your brand survive.

Personally, I’d recommend being a Glenn as it relates to your content marketing strategy. He’s likable, has partnered wisely (Maggie), and doesn’t mind rushing headlong into a herd as long as he knows he’s helping someone else. Or Daryl. Everyone should be more like Daryl…

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3 Costly Content Marketing Errors You Might Be Making

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Content marketing is something of a balancing act. Do it right and you can cultivate real authority and relatability for your company—driving traffic to your website and ultimately boosting your sales, in the process. Do it wrong and you’re essentially spending your valuable time and money creating online content that does little, if anything, to serve your business needs. Obviously, it is paramount for companies to avoid this kind of waste and excess.

But how? Start by alerting yourself to some of the most common content marketing mistakes that are out there. There are three, in particular, that many companies make without realizing it, but which can ultimately prove quite costly.

Curating Too Much Content

One of the key components of any content marketing campaign is content curation. Via a company Facebook page, Twitter account, or blog, content curators will share useful, industry-related information from other sources. For example, if you own a financial planning firm, and a New York Times article comes out heralding the importance of independent financial planners, you might want to share that article with your social media followers and fans. The article is informative and helpful to your clients, and it also offers third-party validation for your business—which makes it a homerun, right?

Well, yes—unless that’s the only thing you’re doing. Content curation is ideal for building prestige for your brand. It’s not so great for driving traffic to your website. Sharing curated content is necessary and prudent, then, but it’s critical to make certain that you’re also sharing original content, like blog entries, that drive some traffic directly to your business website.

Putting Things Behind a Gate

A common practice in content marketing is to create a lengthy article or white paper—something that offers immediate benefit to readers—and then to lock it behind a gate, offering it to users only when they submit their name and contact information. As lead generation, this is smart; as marketing, it leaves something to be desired.

Simply put, putting great content behind a gate means you’re not getting the most out of it. By offering a preview of the article—making the first couple of points free, and requiring users to submit their information for the conclusion of the article—you can better entice people to read your content. Additionally, repurposing some of the content, breaking it down and using pieces of it as blog entries, can help you maximize your bang for buck.

Mistiming Your Updates

Posting three tweets and two Facebook updates daily is ideal, right? Not necessarily; if all of your posting takes place at 6:00 AM—long before most people are checking their social media accounts—then you may not be getting much visibility or user traction. It is generally advised to spread out posts throughout the day, rather than unleashing them all in one fell swoop.

As for the best times of day to post, that’s something that’s difficult to pin down. It depends on the user, on the social network in question, and even on the time zone you’re in. Using your social media analytics to determine which times of day seem to generate the most activity is a good starting point, however.

The bottom line is that just doing content marketing is not enough. You also need to make sure you’re doing it right.

The team at Grammar Chic specializes in a variety of professional writing and editing services. For more information about how we can help you, visit www.grammarchic.net or call 803-831-7444. We also invite you to follow us on Twitter @GrammarChicInc for the latest in writing and editing tips and to give a “like” to our Facebook page. Text GRAMMARCHIC to 22828 for a special offer.

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Grammar Chic President, Amanda Clark, Provides Interview to U.K. Blogger Fashionably Smart Casual

So I had the pleasure of doing an interview with a very fun fashion and business blog based in the U.K.  The interview with Fashionably Smart Casual is posted here, I invite you to check it out. (For the record, I DO NOT write in the evening gown featured in the piece.  Just an FYI.)  The article talks a lot about how Grammar Chic was started, so I am pretty proud.  And if you have any questions about anything writing related, which I discussed in the interview, please contact Grammar Chic, Inc. by way of www.grammarchic.net.

Also, on a side note…I draw your attention to Grammar Chic’s new logo.  I think it’s pretty awesome.

Grammar Chic_FF.ai

We recently partnered with Right Brain Branding Consultants on our logo redesign and are also in the process of revamping our website.  That piece is still in development.  If you are in the market, Right Brain is a fantastic company.

More to come soon!

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