Millennials: We Suck But We’re Also Marketable











Literally, the internet was commercialized the year I was born (1995) so naturally I was just meant to be addicted to twitter and googling all my questions instead of actually consulting a tangible reference.

Sue me.

There’s been a lot of buzz circulating about how millennials are narcissistic, self-centered, vapid (new fav word?) little snots who feel self-entitled to everything without actually wanting to invest any of the hard work and commitment required to go there. While I’m not denying this truth (anyone want to take my finals for me? anyone?), I am here, dear ones, to inform you about the marketable benefits of being a millennial. That’s right! We don’t suck all the time! Ready? Here we go:

1. While being born in the digital age means we are glued to our phones/tablets/laptops sometimes all the time, it also means we’re the most savvy and intuitive when it comes to all things digital. Need to know how to market to the up-and-coming generation? We are literally exactly who you’re looking for. Need to come up with effective social media strategies? We live and breathe it. Need help figuring out Netflix? Call me. It’s like asking a native Chinese speaker to translate for you instead of someone who took a couple classes for their expertise. Millennials innately and intuitively know.

2. We’re super efficient! Granted, we may be lazy butts who balk at the thought of an 8-hour workday. But that just means we find innovative new ways to achieve the desired results with the least effort possible. We’re bright and we’re lazy and we’re damn well efficient at getting stuff done in the least amount of time. Streamlining, yo.

3. We are so lovably self-expressive. When it comes to the digital age, differentiation is key. And we are literally so great at championing our own strong points and packaging ourselves in the best possible light that chances are we can do the same for you! It’s the time to stand out from the pack and do your own thing–and we’re shamelessly proud about it. We can use our incredibly narcissistic worldview to help you rock whatever it is you do best. Most likely it’ll end with creative new approaches and a stronger brand identity. Who doesn’t want a stronger brand identity?

I’ll leave you lovelies with this gem:


Love and Participation Trophies,



Portland Ad Agency: Wieden+Kennedy

Taking a little break from digital marketing to share the spotlight with more traditional forms of marketing.

Ad agency

fav new ad agency yo






Everyone, meet Wieden+Kennedy, a Portland-based ad agency I recently stumbled across and was delighted because they’re from my hometown! (I may be a little biased.) They have several big-ticket clients like Nike, Facebook, Coke, ESPN, and Honda. Cue wolf whistle. According to the dearly-beloved and trusty wikipedia, they’re one of the biggest independent ad agencies world-wide and have garnered numerous awards for their work. Way to go, W+K. You go, Glen Coco.

Though I naturally gravitate towards social media since I’m a millennial baby (more on that later), I have serious respect for advertising agencies in specific because there is so much sheer time, effort, and manpower involved that all have to come together in a creative concoction to formulate an effective commercial. It’s like a dance between the brand and the consumer that has more subtleties and nuances than an awkward first date.

What really goes into crafting a successful ad? On a fundamental basis you need delve into the identity, personality, and core message of your brand. What sets you apart? What’s your THING? What comes to people’s minds when they think of your brand? If you work for a well-established company like Coke, you’re lucky in that the brand identity is already very solidly established in the mental space of the consumer. Oftentimes ad agencies have their work cut out for them because they may have to go back to square one and help build up a brand’s identity through the very ads they’re being asked to create. That’s a lot of responsibility.

Once you’ve established the personality and vibe that you’re aiming for, it’s a whole lot more time and raw effort involved that goes into developing an ad. Different teams under different jurisdictions need to seamlessly blend together to crank out a solid piece of work that’s relatable to the brand’s target audience, resonates with both the brand’s message and their consumers, and captures attention using creativity/humor/surprise/solid craft/whatever they can pull to differentiate themselves. It’s a crapton of work and the final product can be a disaster even after all the resources and $$$ invested.

That being said, I’ve been stalking some of Wieden+Kennedy’s ads and I must say they’re fab. Even their criticized ad Go Forth for Levi’s jeans appeals to the individualistic, experience-oriented, somewhat-vapid target audience. It makes me cringe, but the consumers hath spoken.

Adweek named their Coke ad It’s Mine the best superbowl ad of the decade. What’s really impressive, though, is their video detailing the process behind creating the ad. Check it out:


We may disregard them or look down on them more in the age of digital media, but ads truly are still a powerful giant in the marketing world, and Wieden+Kennedy is spot-on.


SEO for Dummies: What You Need to Know

SEO has become such a buzzword now but for those just starting to learn about its effectiveness and how it works (read: me), it can help to simplify things a bit in order really nail the key ideas. So without further ado, I present to you the dumbed-down, oversimplified, bare basics of SEO for dummies.

Rule #1: Content is king in the SEO world. All the great tips and tactics in the world can’t help you if your content sucks, so make sure the bulk of your time is spent investing in valuable, unique, well-written content that people actually want to read.

Rule #2: If content is king, then links are the benevolent right-hand man. If you want people (and the Google indexing “spiders”) to be crawling your site, you’re going to need some other sources who also think your stuff is worthwhile. The key is that they need to be authoritative sources! A big reason people tend to be reluctant to trust SEO is because of all the black-hat tricks out there that rely on link farms and deceptive sites to gain more traffic. But if you get into the practice of paying for worthless links in bulk, Google will punish you and that’s a lot worse than sitting in the corner without dessert. Make sure you link out, too—though not as valuable, it increases your chances of getting some recognition back.

Rule #3: Reputation matters. In our happy little SEO monarchy, it’s probably the knighthood or something. Essentially, you need to have a positive reputation, which you build up with your valuable content, and authoritative links. It takes patience and time (something a lot of people forget to take into account), but you will gradually build your reputation and popularity which alone will give you higher ranking. You’ll be rewarded for the legit content you post and people will like you and everyone will be happy.

That’s all I got. Good luck.

P.S. for 52 more SEO-related tips, check out Search Engine Journal’s handy-dandy list of SEO Tips Even Your Mother Would Love.

Mobile Marketing Spotlight: Gap

Now that Gap has been sufficiently made fun of for its logo redesign disaster a couple years back, let’s take a moment to praise the brand for something it’s doing right: mobile marketing! It’s another hot-button digital marketing topic but one that brands are still figuring out how to do effectively. If Gap’s move a couple months ago is any indicator, it looks like they’re on the right track.

Gap recently bought out all of Tumblr’s mobile ads for a day (which had never been done before, FYI) in order to kickstart its fall “Back to Blue” campaign. First, the company asked Tumblr bloggers to create original content of what blue meant to them, which already shows savvy and know-how on Gap’s part when it comes to using different campaigns for different social media outlets. The icing on the cake, however, is that the brand picked its four favorite submissions to be featured in all of Tumblr’s mobile ads on August 29. Talk about a smart monopoly!

The global director of digital and social media at Gap, Rachel Tipograph, told Mashable how Gap was essentially using the Tumblr community as a creative agency in its own accord:

“Pop culture doesn’t really start on TV anymore. Pop culture starts on the Internet. When you think about what community is creating pop culture on the Internet, it’s Tumblr. We wanted to partner with the best content creators, give them a chance to make the Back to Blue brief, and then take the best pieces of content and turn them into mobile ads.”

All I can say is…keep up the good work. You go, Gap.

Digital Marketing Spotlight: Kate Spade New York

As I’ve been searching for inspiration to learn digital marketing strategy from, I found many different approaches—all good, but for different audiences and purposes. One brand that I constantly go back to is Kate Spade New York—their social media team is incredible, and it shows in the quality of work they post. I’ve always respected them for their catchy, lively Instagram feed, and it turns out there’s a lot of thought behind it.

In Mashable’s interview with Kate Spade’s CEO, Craig Leavitt, he explains their new take on social media:

“Social media is an integral part of how we look at our marketing and communications and consumer outreach, it’s part of our thinking every single day. We have young people who live and breathe social media and are immersed in it every minute of every day. We allow them to lead and trust them in this space.  We are really fortunate that we had already developed an authentic voice and persona for our brand. The Kate Spade girl aspires to lead an interesting life — to engage in the arts and literature and travel and adventure. We talk about those things on social media because that’s who she is, and she wants to hear about what her peers are doing. It feels very very natural for us.”

Rather than simply touting their own brand, Kate Spade has managed to create an entire lifestyle around their products and the persona of the Kate Spade girl: “quick and curious and playful and strong,” reads the Instagram biography. It beams of creativity and liveliness and energy and calls for followers to join in the lifestyle.

Delving into more specific details, Kate Spade also uses each channel for specific purposes, as highlighted in Oak Interactive’s gush piece on them in February of this year. Most intriguing to me are their Twitter and Instagram feeds:

“On Twitter… the tone is more conversational and playful, but still represents the Kate Spade brand. Hashtags are often used to promote a current line, like #artofthedot, or #livecolorfully, a key tagline. Plenty of conversation starters, check-ins, and updates give Twitter followers a little bit of fun throughout the day. Kate Spade uses Instagram to highlight merchandise, the office, events, and fun graphic details in different environments. There is a more personal feel to these images that you don’t get from the other social media channels.”

Andrew Kyle, Kate Spade’s SVP of Marketing, backs this up. In an April 2012 article with Business Insider, he mentioned how when experimenting with Instagram, followers seemed to really appreciate the candid snapshots of the company, as opposed to directly-marketed-to approached:

“We started putting photos on Instagram of fun drinks or cupcakes we had at office parties, and our customers love that. They just want to be a part of it.”

What a fantastic example of inbound marketing! Instead of using social media as another platform to push their products and interrupt their users, KSNY chooses to draw users in to them with beautiful, engaging, fun content that makes them want to live the Kate Spade lifestyle. GENIUS.

This is my dream job right here, guys. Just saying.

Rosetta Marketing: Where It’s At

Recently some alumni from my school (Grove City College) who went on to work for Rosetta visited to recruit for internships & full-time positions in the company, with a couple guest speaking in my Digital Marketing class. For those of you who don’t know, Rosetta (not to be confused with Rosetta Stone, the language-learning software provider) is an interactive marketing agency that provides a wide range of services ranging from designing an interactive user strategy to analyzing SEO success metrics for a number of A-list clients like Sperry, OfficeMax, and JoAnn Fabrics. They’re a well-oiled machine going great places, especially following their recent merger with Publicis and an announced plan to aggressively pursue commerce in the global market.

Rosetta focuses on providing solutions to underlying problems in order to reach long-term client success; they value their clients and will go the extra mile to maintain a positive relationship. Each client has its unique needs and thus requires unique solutions; Rosetta recognizes this and makes strides to discover these differentiators and use them to their advantage. They use the process of “Identify, Engage, Activate, and Build” to build profitable relationships throughout different channels (mobile commerce, anyone?), which is what’s behind the company’s marked success.

I’ve had the privilege to meet with a few of Rosetta’s alumni and can say I’ve only been more impressed with the company’s innovation, work ethic (they tout the saying “Work Hard, Play Hard” as one of their driving motivators), and culture as I continue to learn more about what they’re doing. Also, they have free vending machines, which is pretty nifty. You can see what they’re up to here!

Who Am I? Personal Branding 101

Ah, college. The period of all-nighters and existential crises and changed majors as we all face our futures and try to make sense of what we’re all doing with ourselves. Throughout this impossibly messy, tangled journey, we’re all trying to put the pieces in place and look like we have it all together. What are we doing here? Where are we going? How are we growing? It’s a learning process for sure and one that I feel I’ll never fully figure out. Nevertheless, throughout this growth we are all—intentionally or not—employing a marketing strategy in our own lives: personal branding.

I say personal branding can be unintentional because—think about it—we’re always sending messages, sometimes subconsciously, that other people receive and read and use to form opinions about ourselves. What we wear, how long we make eye contact, the firmness of our handshake, if we smell nice or brushed our teeth or not—these are all parts of the nonverbal messages we send out, and they all come together to form other people’s perceptions of ourselves. Whoever said that what we wore didn’t matter since “the inside is what counts” clearly didn’t understand that we dress as a reflection of our tastes and personality. What you don’t say still speaks volumes.

Since we already know we’re trying to brand ourselves in real life, what about in the digital space? How are we branding ourselves online and differentiating ourselves from other people?  In some ways, it’s almost the opposite. Instead of a bunch of subliminal messages, we have to be intentional with the image we are creating and the messages we are sending. The easy answer would be to go to social media—platforms that we all use to at least some extent. (And if you don’t, then you are probably sadly on your way to becoming irrelevant. Sorry.)

To narrow down some of the abundant social media outlets floating around, it’s pretty safe to assume that we all have a facebook page. How do we brand ourselves with facebook, even to the outside world? Our posts/cover photos/shared links are increasingly becoming more and more public as the world gradually gets over the what-if-someone-steals-my-identity-and-kidnaps-me scare. While protecting your privacy online is important, it may be helpful to consider making some of your posts public. Anything that helps differentiate yourself and establishes your personality clearly in the minds of others who want to know—future employers, like-minded friends, internet stalkers, the usual—will only help further solidify your online persona and the image you want to project of yourself.

The flipside: only do this if you post worthwhile things. For example, if it’s something that you’d really rather a potential employer (or worse, your mother) not see, then make sure you watch those privacy settings. Besides the ubiquitous don’t-post-evidence-doing-illegal-things-online advice, the same goes for menial, unflattering, unprofessional, or simply bland posts. No one cares if you “had an awesome day today” or “just made some really yummy pasta :) haha mmmm so good!!” Save it for your diary, which will always love you unconditionally no matter how hopelessly uninteresting you are. If you did something worth sharing about or have something to offer, though, post the heck out of it. Look cool. Be yourself (or at least the marketable parts of yourself.)

Do not do this.

just no.

Do not do this.


chocolate sauce selfie

for the love of all that is good and holy no

Personal branding, yo. It’s science.



P.S. for further facebok no-no’s, I kindly refer you to the ever-great Mashable and HuffPost. Read & avoid like the plague.