15 Ways Companies Can Build Brand Reputation Sharing Honest Reviews

Question: What is one of the 15 Ways Companies Can Build Brand Reputation Sharing Honest Reviews?
Answer: Comment On Less-Than-Stellar Reviews To Address Customer Concerns.

“If there is a less-than-stellar review, a brand can take the time to effectively comment and address any customer concerns related to the product. When another potential customer sees the brand’s response, it raises trust in the brand that it will effectively address customer concerns and act to fix them.”
Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

For the full article go to “15 Ways Companies Can Build Brand Reputation Sharing Honest Reviews” at Forbes.

How Holiday Planning Looks Different For Marketers And Advertisers In 2022

Question: Why Does Holiday Planning Look Different For Marketers And Advertisers In 2022?
Answer: ‘Seasonal’ Promotions Can Drive Sales All Year Long Now.

“Holiday sales and marketing have continued to expand well beyond Black Friday and Christmas, with holiday sales and promotions now starting in early fall and running through the New Year. In addition, Amazon Prime Days happen in the summer, which means there can essentially be promotions all throughout the year that drive consumer sales all year long.”
Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

For the full article go to “How Holiday Planning Looks Different For Marketers And Advertisers In 2022” at Forbes.

12 marketing mistakes many small businesses make (and what to do instead)

Question: What is one of the 12 marketing mistakes many small businesses make (and what to do instead)?
Answer: Not bothering with marketing at all.

“Customers won’t necessarily come unless you actively market your business and let the public know about your service or offerings. It can be as simple as making sure your retail display signage shows you are now in business to launching digital, print or offline media campaigns promoting your business services. Also, it doesn’t hurt to kick off with special promotions to get the consumer to try your products.”
Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

For the full article go to “12 marketing mistakes many small businesses make (and what to do instead)” at The Business Journals.

Don’t Blur the Lines When Marketing to Millennials and Gen Z

Smart performance marketers are making the distinction
between these two generations of consumers


Gen Z is standing apart from millennials more than ever.
Getty Images: RGStudio

When developing marketing plans, it’s all too easy to lump different generations of buyers into similar categories, hoping to hit them both effectively with broader messages. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work with millennials and Gen Z which, on the surface at least, may seem easy enough to put into the “under 41 years of age” category and hope for the best.

Dig down deeper and you’ll see that there are some clear distinctions between American consumers aged 26-41 (millennials, or Gen Y) and those aged 10-25 (Gen Z). Here are five differentiation points that performance marketers should factor in when creating advertising and content for millennial and Gen Z consumers:

Gen Z likes to disconnect

While millennials came of age along with technology, most Gen Zers have been using it since they were infants or toddlers. “Phones have transformed from a way to communicate with friends and family from a distance into a doorway giving people and companies 24/7 access to each other—and all the information in the world—with the tap of a finger,” writes Stefan Pollack in Forbes.

This might indicate a love of digital interaction on the part of younger consumers, but in reality they do enjoy talking face-to-face: “It seems that while using technology can provide an escape for millennials and older generations, the escape for digitally native Gen Zers is to disconnect and be in real life,” according to Pollack.

Social media: Boredom killer or connectivity tool?

According to Relative Insight, Gen Z finds value in the connectivity of social media. They use Snapchat and TikTok to keep up with what’s going on with family, friends and colleagues. They’re also using newer platforms like BeReal, which has been downloaded more than 43 million times since its launch in December 2019 and has grown its user base by 315% as of August 2022. Not to be left out of the party, TikTok recently rolled out TikTok Now, which emulates some of the core features of BeReal’s platform.

Unlike Gen Z, millennials view social media as a place to scroll through their feeds to stave off boredom and kill time.

They spend differently

Gen Z is more apt to put a small financial windfall in the bank or purchase gifts for loved ones, Relative Insight says, and tends to place a lower value on pricy items and material possessions. Millennials think differently and are more apt to invest in a fun vacation or a designer bag.

“This could imply that, because they have greater financial security in their daily lives, they think they deserve a treat,” the report points out, “or that they put less cultural emphasis on the importance of saving money, and they really are the entitled generation.”

Authenticity is a must-have for Gen Z

Citing recent CM Group research, Alexandra Pastore of Women’s Wear Daily writes that Gen Z buyers are practical, ambitious and focused on education. They like to buy from companies that are authentic—right down to their designs, brands, products and social impacts.

“In the past, the images people saw in media were aspirational and out of reach for many of them,” Allison McDuffee writes in Adweek. “More recently, consumers have become wary of meticulously curated and perfectly polished content. Consumers are now searching for genuine, human connections and the accompanying imperfections: A selfie without makeup, a look behind the screen or a vulnerable moment with fans.”

Online versus in-person

Shopping habits are another major differentiating factor between these two generations. Millennials prefer to shop online while Gen Z enjoys browsing and buying in physical stores. “If you’re targeting Gen Z,” advises Jennifer Herrity of Indeed, “consider ways you can bring more people this age into your stores with social media-worthy experiences.”

Keeping both the generational similarities and differentiation points in mind will only become more important for marketers as they work to reach and engage with younger consumers. As you plan your next campaign, try to avoid blurring the lines between these two distinct consumer groups.

14 must-do activities for leadership groups in Q4

Question: What’s one of the 14 must-do activities for leadership groups in Q4?
Answer: Dig into strategic planning for the coming year.

“A necessary “must-do” is strategic planning for the coming year, through all-day or several-day meetings. Review the past year’s goals, successes and areas of improvement, then build on those and reset for the upcoming year with a fresh start.”
Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

For the full article go to “14 must-do activities for leadership groups in Q4” at The Business Journals.

15 ways to tackle a perfectionist mindset and get more done

Question: What’s one way to tackle a perfectionist mindset and get more done?
Answer: Make a detailed strategic plan.

“Take time to put together a strategic plan for the year, and then break it down by quarter and month to see what work is necessary to achieve your goals. This can help you keep from getting caught up in menial tasks and doing work for the sake of perfectionism.”
Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

For the full article go to “15 ways to tackle a perfectionist mindset and get more done” at The Business Journals.

Advertise in the Metaverse? It’s Complicated.

If the metaverse becomes a place where billions of real people interact and have expendable currencies, brands will leverage experiences to drive consumers down a purchase funnel, just as they do in the physical world. But how that ecosystem of brand/advertiser, media and consumer take shape is still in flux. Our SVP of Marketing Christian Jones has some things to consider when jumping in.

Advertise in the Metaverse? It’s Complicated.

If you’re confused about the metaverse — what it is, how it’s changing the way people interact with each other and brands, whether marketers can create value from metaverse ads, etc. — you’re not alone. The metaverse is still taking shape, and the long-term implications of ephemeral or persistent virtual worlds that can be accessed via augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), mixed reality (MR) or even a humble browser (via platforms like Decentraland or Roblox) are as yet unknown.

A recent article in Wired compared today’s discussions about the metaverse to people talking about the internet in the 1970s. The pieces of a new way to interact are coming together, and it has massive implications for society and enormous commercial potential, but we’re not sure what final form it will take. Personally, I think of the metaverse as “XR”, not as a catchall for AR, VR or MR but instead as “extended reality”. In the metaverse, we’ll interact as virtual extensions of ourselves in some form, human or otherwise.

Marketers are curious about the potential of the metaverse, and some are frantically trying to get up to speed due to fear of missing out. Since the metaverse is still taking shape, it makes sense for marketers to watch closely and understand the factors that may influence its direction. How might the metaverse emerge and what could it mean for brand building and marketing now and in the future?

Driving Virtual Consumers Down a Real Purchase Funnel

If the metaverse becomes a place where extensions of billions of real people interact and have expendable currency — whether via in-world crypto, tokens or offline official government currency accessible via digital wallets — brands will have an opportunity to use advertising and/or curated experiences to drive consumers down a purchase funnel, just as they do in the physical world. But how that ecosystem of brand/advertiser, media and consumer take shape in the metaverse is still in flux.

In the physical world, the mechanics of advertising are well known. We’re familiar with ad units by channel, and we can calculate how much those units or impressions will cost and factor in the value of an impression in terms of meeting critical KPIs. That’s not to suggest it’s simple — the real world ecosystem is fractured and constantly in flux, but it’s knowable, manageable and familiar too.

But in an entirely new world, how do we value a new set of ad units or XR engagements? Audiences are often anonymous, and demographics are potentially inscrutable. Is the person behind the avatar a 63-year-old professor or a high school sophomore? We don’t know, so how can a brand or advertiser measure value? Non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which provide proof of ownership of a digital asset, are forming the connecting bridge, for the moment at least.

NFTs function as a talisman for brands, a way to engage virtual audiences and confer status on NFT holders. Brands like Stella Artois, Papa John’s, Acura, the NBA and many others are experimenting with NFTs, some to promote products or provide product functionality, others to highlight good causes and support charitable work. AdAge keeps a continually updated list of how brands are using NFTs.

Another way brands connect with virtual consumers is by creating experiences on platforms like Roblox. At Nikeland on Roblox, one of the earlier, high-profile brand entries in 2021, users could dress their avatars in branded sneakers and apparel, play games and unlock sports superpowers. Branded virtual apparel as a digital commodity is a straightforward implementation. Gucci just upped their profile from Gucci Garden to Gucci Town – dropping virtual bags and apparel within limited-time windows to style your Roblox avatar. Other recent brand implementations include a McLaren F1 Racing experience and a Chipotle Burrito Builder event – the possibilities are staggering.

The Value Conundrum

As these examples illustrate, major brands are already betting on the metaverse, and their participation generally falls on one of two tracks. The first is brand integration, like the user experience strategy Nike, Gucci, Hyundai or Chipotle have pursued on Roblox. Users can interact with the brand, hopefully developing an affinity of lasting duration that extends to the brand’s products in the physical world.

The second track is to create NFTs and associated content, placing assets in virtual storefronts or other digital venues and marketplaces. This strategy requires finding a way to create scarcity because virtual land and digital content like NFTs are valuable in proportion to their perceived authenticity and ability to generate demand that exceeds supply. As Scott Galloway observed “credible scarcity and authenticity will unlock real value in digital markets”.

So, the question remains: what is the value of a potential customer interacting with an avatar brand representative in your virtual apparel showroom? What’s the value of out-of-home signage for your virtual showroom if placed on a plot of land adjacent to Snoop Dogg’s virtual plot? How much will it cost to design and build a truly immersive virtual brand environment, and what’s the return on that investment?

The truth is, we just don’t know yet. It’s not a coincidence that most of the brands now active in the metaverse are there to drive awareness rather than conversions, at least so far. The metaverse may develop in unexpected ways, so for marketers who want to get their digital feet wet, now is a good time to watch closely, drop into some virtual worlds and interact with whoever is there now. Just like traveling to a new country in the physical world, take some time to observe with an open mind and respect the local customs of that corner of the metaverse. It’s complicated, but then again, isn’t any new world?

Are You Using Social Media to Inspire Younger Buyers?

Millennials and Gen Z are increasingly turning to social networks for advice.
Here’s how performance marketers can leverage this trend.


Performance marketers looking to capture the tech-savvy market have to consider speed, efficiency and social change.
We Are/Getty Images

Whether they’re following accounts that inspire them, perusing videos, researching products or connecting with their favorite brands, the younger generations of American consumers are clearly influenced by social media. More of them also want to become influencers, start their own businesses and get involved in new hobbies.

Millennials and Gen Z will often go first to social media platforms like TikTok, Pinterest and Instagram to learn and get advice before making a purchase or taking on a project. With millennials standing to inherit more than $68 trillion from baby boomer and early Gen X parents by the year 2030—setting them up to potentially be the wealthiest generation in U.S. history—and Gen Z projected to hit $33 trillion in income by 2030, performance marketers should be paying attention to these trends.

Here’s how performance marketers can leverage this trend in a responsible, deliberate manner.

Stepping up their games

Social media companies are clearly aware of these trends and are finding new ways to optimize their platforms. In February, for example, TikTok launched a new feature called Collections, which allows users to organize their favorite videos into folders (Instagram implemented a similar feature in 2019.)

The Collections feature allows users to save recommendations and sort them into useful categories, making it easier for them to quickly return to ideas and recommendations.

TikTok’s core offering feeds millennials’ and Gen Z’s desire for inspiration. Upon pulling up a video, users can instantly see what a restaurant looks like inside and who’s recommending it. “It allows for maximum vibe reconnaissance,” Mashable points out. “And if someone made a TikTok on it, and it came up on your FYP [For You Page], chances are it’s something you’ll actually enjoy and the information is up to date.”

4 tips for Success

Performance marketers looking to capture the tech-savvy market that’s turning to social media for inspiration can’t just advertise and sell products. They also have to consider speed, efficiency and social change versus just spending time polishing up their marketing messages. And knowing that Gen Z are all under 25 years old—and as young as 10—positively influencing behaviors is also important.

Here are four tips for success:

  • Step up the pace. Your Gen Z customers are used to a fast pace, so get onboard with it. They also have shorter attention spans and tend to be highly influenced by what they see and interact with on social media.
  • Know your platforms. According to a recent YPulse, Ad/Marketing Effectiveness report, TikTok (27%) is the top place Gen Z is seeing ads that influence them to make a purchase. That’s followed by YouTube (17%) and Instagram (13%). Millennials, on the other hand, respond best to Facebook (16%), YouTube (15%), Instagram (14%) and TikTok (9%) ads.
  • Support social change. Gen Z and millennials both care about making a difference and leaving a smaller footprint on Mother Earth. They’re also involved with social causes and tend to look favorably upon organizations that put an effort into environmental, social and governance (ESG) causes.
  • Be authentic. Younger consumers can see right through the glitz, glamour and overpolished marketing messages. And when they’re getting their information from friends, connections and influencers, it’s not hard to figure out which brands do and don’t deserve their hard-earned dollars.

7 common social media faux pas committed by businesses (and what to do instead)

Nearly every business has at least one social media account these days — most have several. With the variety of platforms catered to a wide range of audiences, social media can be an essential and effective marketing tool for a business of any size. However, a social media slip-up can cause quick and lasting damage to a brand or business.

The Business Journals

There are several common social media faux pas committed by businesses; smart leaders should learn about and from these mistakes to avoid making them themselves. Below, seven members of Business Journals Leadership Trust discuss some of the most common social media slip-ups committed by businesses today (and what you should do instead).

1. Trying to follow every trend and fad
If you’re trying to follow every trend and fad on social media, you may find that you’ve only diluted your core message and weakened your connection with your target audience. As with marketing in any form, try to resist the temptation to be everything to everyone. Instead, stick to messages that align well with your brand and customers. Share your expertise with passion, and be authentic. – Lincoln Jacobe, 6 Pillars Marketing

2. Not reframing your approach during a crisis
In a national or global crisis, it is important to consider whether you should “pause” your social media posts or reframe how you are engaging online to reflect the serious nature of the matter. Companies that fail to do so appear “tone-deaf” and without compassion. This can be exacerbated if the social media content is automatically scheduled in advance and a manager “forgets” to turn it off. – Hinda Mitchell, Inspire PR Group

3. Failing to stay on message
Staying on message is important. It is easy to get into the habit of posting something — anything. Make sure your messaging resonates with your clients, and try to make it fun or different; we have become immune to traditional online advertisements. – Jared Knisley, Fizen Technology

4. Ignoring or deleting negative feedback
A business ignoring negative feedback and/or deleting the content from its profiles is a common mistake. This tone-deaf and frankly weak approach throws gasoline on the fire — it doesn’t put it out. Deal with these comments head-on in a collaborative function. – Christopher Tompkins, The Go! Agency

5. Failing to be cautious
Social media is polarizing nowadays. Companies should be cautious about what they share on social media, since it can “cut off” prospective customers. Instead, companies should stick to their core messages (that is, the services/products they provide, value to customers, benefits case and so on), modifying those messages to fit the intended audiences as well as the targeted social media platform. – Quoc Nguyen, Arthur Lawrence, LLC

6. Focusing on fleeting mass media topics
With social media, focus on your brand and the specific benefits to the consumer and their lifestyle. Try to steer clear of any current mass media topics, as they are fleeting and have nothing to do with your brand’s effectiveness. It would just be social commentary, which is unneeded. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

7. Disconnecting from the community
Being disconnected from the community and what concerns them is a major faux pas. Too often, brands are so busy implementing their long-term strategies that they forget to react to recent events or major developments that concern their target audience. Such negligence can cost brands dearly, as it might convey an image of carelessness and apathy toward major issues that are important to their users. – Peter Abualzolof, Mashvisor

12 Ways To Capture Consumers’ Attention With A Back-To-School Campaign

As summer comes to a close and the new school year begins, back-to-school marketing campaigns are in full swing. From selling school supplies and college dorm furniture to promoting special deals on phones and travel, marketers work hard during this short but critical window of time to capture the attention of students and their parents.

Forbes Agency Council

To help marketers gain and retain the attention of this key demographic in the back-to-school season and beyond, 12 members of Forbes Agency Council share their best tips for advertisers and marketers who offer relevant products and services. Follow their advice to make your campaigns stand out from those of your competitors.

1. Leverage Influencers
There are many college- and school-focused creators, as well as parenting creators, who have the perfect audience, credibility and authority to promote products and services in that niche. Influencers bring amazing results because, for their audience, it feels like they are getting a recommendation from a friend. – Anastasia Cecchetto, Ace Influencers

2. Optimize Your Content And Messages
Creativity is the No. 1 variable in advertising performance. Optimizing your content and messaging to be aligned with back-to-school and the products and services you sell will drive the most relevant clicks. Brands need to ensure cross-channel content is aligned across media, email and the Web, and they need to start early enough to have 20 to 40 days of campaign messaging in the market to drive enough reach. – Tucker Matheson, Markacy

3. Incentivize UGC With Email And SMS Options
Email marketing and SMS marketing options incentivize students to share their own experiences with products and services; you can then use that user-generated content in campaigns to create more buzz around the product or service. Parents and students want an experience—create an option that provides both a financial incentive for the consumer and content for the brand. – Vix Reitano, Agency 6B

4. Utilize Social Media
Back-to-school is an overlooked retail opportunity, as it’s hard to get people focused on it until they’re actually in-store doing last-minute shopping. The real opportunity is online (with a focus on social media) using paid videos on Instagram and paid and organic opportunities on Pinterest, not to mention audio—by advertising to on-the-go parents who are streaming or listening to podcasts during afternoon drop-off and pickup. – Scott Harkey, OH Partners

5. Position Company Founders As Industry Experts
In public relations, position your brand’s founders and representatives as experts in the field of parenting, whether they are parents themselves or market to parents. Parents are looking for trustworthy and reliable brands that they can relate to. Also, it’s all about how you communicate your brand’s values and initiatives to the media. – Jessica Kopach, The JKO Agency

6. Highlight Convenience
Back-to-school shopping can be hectic. Leveraging new ad types can help push convenience messaging. For example, Google Shopping and local inventory ads have a new beta: pickup later. Advertisers can now enable pickup later in the attributes of their inventory feeds. Using this beta will help advertisers capture consumers’ attention while avoiding the back-to-school “rush hour.” – Donna Robinson, Collective Measures

7. Appeal To Consumers’ Emotions
Use visuals and content that appeal to emotions. Starting a new school year can be a stressful transition for both parents and students, so show why your offerings are the solution. Aim for content that is both visually appealing and informative. – Hannah Trivette, NUVEW Web Solutions

8. Begin As Soon As Possible
Start your back-to-school marketing campaign as early as possible, especially this year, as it’s the first school year for some kids to be back fully in person since 2020. Along with that comes excitement and retail demand. You can reach the students themselves through social media and use more traditional media outlets to reach the adults who are supporting their school transitions. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC

9. Email A Promo Code To Existing Customers
For parents, your most cost-effective (and direct) approach is to email last year’s customers a back-to-school promo checkout code. For students, get their attention on all the biggest social media platforms, such as TikTok, Instagram and YouTube. Each of these methods will need different messaging and creative tones, but both lead to the same place: more back-to-school purchases! – Bernard May, National Positions

10. Incorporate The Latest Trends
Consider the latest trends and developments your customers care about and incorporate them into your marketing plan. Remember that people will spend more this year because more students are returning to full-time education, and including a hot trend will grab their attention. – Dmitrii Kustov, Regex SEO

11. Run TikTok Ads
We’re in unprecedented times. Our agency spent $100 last week on a test ad, which garnered 700 new followers in one day. ROI for website traffic is just as impressive. This is where students and parents alike are hanging out online. All ads need to be tailored to this 9:16 video experience. – Kelly Samuel, Snack Toronto

12. Highlight Price Comparisons
It’s all about the visuals and ensuring that your ads “stop the scroll” and your products are priced affordably. This year, parents are going to be looking for bargains and deals, so highlighting price comparisons will be key. – Dawn Sinkule, Digital Dawn