AOR, Inc. Denver-based advertising, marketing and interactive. Mon, 03 Mar 2014 16:16:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Ski Resorts Real Time Marketing Mon, 03 Mar 2014 16:16:37 +0000 As tribute to the great snow we have been having this season here in Colorado, lets take a look at how ski resorts engage in marketing and get you up on the slopes. The snow has done most of the talking for the resorts this year as forecasts of fresh powder motivate skiers to head to the mountains, but lets see what else is going on here in Colorado and elsewhere. Social media and digital venues play the biggest role in ski resorts marketing practices. This makes sense since their marketing position can change over night with a big snowstorm to use as bait.

Vail Resorts often use ski videos to sell their product. These videos showcase things most guests cannot do, but get people excited. Videos are easily deliverable. The videos and social media efforts push real time decision-making instead of guests planning their trips to the resorts months in advance.

Most resorts use social media outlets such as Facebook to connect with their audience and share updates about driving conditions, snow conditions, après ski events, etc. It is crucial that the resorts are responsive to their audience’s questions on social media more so than other companies because of the nature of their product. Their audience wants to know what’s going on in the now. If this post from Breckenridge doesn’t get you going I don’t know what else will.


Traditional print advertisements are often not the best use of a marketing budget for ski resorts. Resorts do not want to commit to advertisements 4-6 months in advance because at the time the advertisement runs months later the resort might have changed the position they want to push and ski conditions might have changed immensely.

Squaw Valley in California had one of the best and simplest real-time marketing tactics last year. They had an app that pushed notifications to all users. These notifications were short and sweet text messages reminding the users of the conditions. An example reads, “7” of new snow. Come enjoy some mid week freshies!” It’s hard to resist a personal invite.





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Best Super Bowl Ads of 2014 Thu, 06 Feb 2014 15:28:12 +0000 As much as I didn’t want to bring up this year’s Superbowl, I figured we should at least chat about the commercials. Overall I think this year’s super bowl commercials were pretty underwhelming, especially compared to last year’s ads. Being that I was pretty indecisive and could barely even remember any of the commercials, I decided to enlist my coworkers to help me rank the top  five ads. To be fair, I only gave them 5 commercials to choose from (five of the most talked about commercials) and had them rank them 1 through 5 – 1 being their favorite, 5 being their least favorite and give me their reactions. Here’s what we came up with:

Five: Chrysler with Bob Dylan

I disdain this spot. There’s nothing more un-authentic than Bob Dylan telling me “We will build your car.”

Four: Radioshack 80′s

I enjoyed the self-deprecating humor in this, and appreciate Radio Shack’s efforts to become more relevant. Reminiscent of Avis’s most famous campaign—consistently beaten by Hertz, they took pride in their number two slot and proclaimed “We try harder.”

Three: Tmobile with Tim Tebow

Eh, who cares? I zoned out after 10 seconds.

Two: Wonderful Pistachios with Stephen Colbert

Clever humor with notable celeb. Surprising head crack at the end actually made me laugh out loud. It won’t make me buy pistachios though.

One: Budweiser’s “Puppy Love”

I mean come on-Cute puppies and beer are two of everyones favorite things. What can beat that? I also like that it told a story with a happy ending since theSuper Bowl did not for have one for Denver.


Other favorites:

Beats with Ellen

I probably remember/liked this one the most.

Squarespace “A Better Web”

I really liked the SquareSpace ad and couldn’t agree more with its premise.


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The Biggest Ad of Super Bowl Sunday Thu, 30 Jan 2014 22:29:40 +0000 On Sunday during the Super Bowl, a 30-second commercial usually claimed by companies with millions will be reserved for a small start-up business. Brainchild of mega-millions company Intuit (of Turbo Tax and QuickBooks), the “Small Business Big Game” nation-wide competition has already garnered a lot of attention. Tens of thousands of small businesses entered for the chance at this once in a lifetime advertising opportunity. Millions of votes from around the world were cast and the competition has been narrowed down to four finalists: a toy designer aimed at promoting science skills in girls, a company that makes dog treats from spent grain from breweries, a natural compost company, and an egg company that raises free-range chickens.

Considering the annual buzz over Super Bowl commercials, and the fact that everyone seems to be talking about this one, Intuit appears to have gotten it right. Not only does this charitable act even the advertising playing field, it also gets Intuit some really positive press.


Which company do you want to see win the 30-second spotlight? As an office with a strong dog culture and the privilege of having worked with Brew Bones, we may have an affinity toward one in particular.




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Holiday Advertising: Making the Emotional Connection Tue, 03 Dec 2013 21:31:51 +0000 Even though Christmas is still ahead of us this post may be slightly past due considering many companies launch their holiday advertising campaigns before Halloween. The reason for the ad frenzy is that holidays come with deeply engraved celebratory traditions that advertisers can tap into in hopes of creating that same ongoing connection to their brand. Companies that leverage the emotional ties consumers have to the holidays within their holiday advertising can better their chances of an increase in brand loyalty.

Coca-Cola for instance has made their brand synonymous with Christmas. In fact, it has even been said that we can thank them for developing the current rounded, red suited, bearded Santa Claus. Their first rendition of Santa was created in 1931. Santa’s pipe was cleverly replaced with a Coke linking the brand to Christmas imagery, and the rest is history. This deep tie to Christmas has effects on whether people truly think that Coca-Cola tastes better than a competitor. The placebo effect results in consumers continuing to choose Coca-Cola not simply because it tastes better, but because they view it as a leading brand that has positioned itself as having traditional family values and provides happiness and warm wishes at Christmas. This is all happening subconsciously of course.

Customers enjoy seeing advertisements that make them feel warm-spirited during this time of year. Coca-Cola has mastered this with the polar bears, the light up delivery truck, festive Christmas music and the theme of giving. This year they have gone a little further and created a short film featuring the iconic polar bears. During the holidays, Coca-Cola’s ads aren’t focused on positioning themselves as providing the best price or best product, but instead use emotional displays to create a support of their overall brand image. If you haven’t noticed, brands these days want to do more than offer you the “best” product, they want to be a part of your life and ultimately affect your buying behavior.

Coca-Cola has set the holiday advertising bar pretty high so how can other companies break through? John Lewis has successfully become the new player in Christmas ad arena and this year, their “Bear and the Hare” doesn’t disappoint.  For companies to even play in the big leagues this year they can expect to spend a pretty penny and produce blockbuster ads with emotional sound tracks and story lines. Get the mix just right, and the result could be yearly anticipation of what will come next from your company, but I don’t suggest trying to reinvent Santa.

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Lovely Letters Thu, 21 Nov 2013 18:55:02 +0000 Before computers and catalogs of precision-crafted typefaces, there was imagination, artistic ability, and a steady hand. The work of Sweden’s Martin Schmetzer is a great example of what can still be accomplished with the latter. Hand-lettering has been cropping up in design a lot over the past few years, but it tends to be a more rustic, and deliberately rough—not at all the like Schmetzer’s beautifully ornate creations.

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Beautiful Bevs: Soda! Wed, 13 Nov 2013 22:44:36 +0000 If you’re into really delicious things you should try the Rocky Mountain Soda Co’s Prickly Pear. It’s amazing. While sippin’ down one of those the other day I got to thinking how cool it would have been to go on down to the soda fountain for an afternoon soda but alas, I was a few generations late. Thankfully, the natural soda industry is blowing up these days! And to compete with one another they’re creating awesome packaging. After doing a little research on all the soda bottles out there I compiled my favorites below. I might be biased but I still love the Rocky Mountain Soda packaging the best – it’s just so….rustic and natural. But JOIA’s got a good thing going too with their hand-drawn, simple graphics. Anyways, enjoy the eye candy!


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The Power of Great Content Mon, 11 Nov 2013 17:00:44 +0000 Perhaps you’re thinking “oh great, another writer blabbing on and on about the virtues of content.” I admit, I am a writer, but there’s more to this post than my love of content, I promise. Let’s walk through a few questions to make sure we’re all on the same page.

  •  When talking about content, what does “great” even mean? In the case of this blog post, let’s assume it means relevant, timely and noticeable.
  •  What is content? It’s all the information your customers or prospects can consume about your brand or product.
  •  What can content do? It can ATTRACT (build brand awareness); it can ACQUIRE (generate new leads); and it can ENGAGE (nurture closed sales).

Now let’s explore how a customer encounters and engages with content.

The traditional purchase of a product or service is like a decision journey; a customer learns about a product, investigates it, makes a decision to buy it and then interacts with it. The marketing geniuses at Procter & Gamble call this journey the First Moment on Truth. While serving up great content during every point of this journey is important, there’s another stage in the process our friends at Google identified. They call it the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT). ZMOT is identified as all the information or “noise” a customer can encounter from the time they learn about the product to when they decide to buy it. The most obvious sources of content customers may consume (and the ones we can control) during this phase come from your official site, social media outlets, advertising, search engine results and blogs. A few other outlets to keep in mind are third-party product reviews, word-of-mouth chatter and referrals (do the “experts” recommend your product?).

That’s a lot of noise and content to try and keep up with. Before you can try and influence a customer’s buying decision you have to first understand the journey you would like your customer’s to experience AND be mindful of what your customer really needs. A good first step is to evaluate your average sales cycle; determine the point at which a customer is most engaged (ZMOT) and be sure to reach out to them during that time (see “timely” above).

A key component of effective ZMOT messaging is to make sure every point of communication sounds like it’s coming from you. There’s no need for an overt sales pitch in each touch point—just be sure to maintain a consistent voice and message across all media. This will ensure that no matter what screen a customer is viewing your content on (TV, phone, tablet or computer) they’ll be immersed in a genuine brand experience.

You may be wondering how to make content feel relevant to your customers. Again, think about what your customer really needs and when. Once you have that nailed down, try one of my favorite writing techniques for consumer-facing content: Speak in benefits vs. features. Let’s use shampoo as an example. “Oil-enriched formula” would be a feature. The benefit? Truly soft, moisturized hair. Translating features into what they really mean for a customer will help you stand out from all the other ad noise and get noticed.

Customers are busy, on-the-go and connected more than ever before. They don’t need MORE content, they just need great content when and where they want it. The smarter we can be about creating relevant, timely and disruptive material, the greater results we as marketers and sellers will see.

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How Chipotle is Revolutionizing Marketing Wed, 18 Sep 2013 14:48:59 +0000 For those of you who haven’t, watch Chipotle’s recently released 3-1/2 minute video ad – “The Scarecrow”. Created by Moonbot Studios, the video is an animated short promoting sustainable farming. Yes, it’s extremely well done. Yes, it’s very memorable. But there’s more to this video than the beautiful animations and thoughtful metaphors. This video could possibly be the beginning of the future of marketing.

Chipotle’s tactics in the video are clear; to make people aware of the processed food industry and the effect it has on the world. You don’t see the Chipotle logo plastered all over the video nor do you really see any indication of what it is advertising until the very end – when a quick little ad comes up for their free downloadable interactive game. So what’s in it for Chipotle and what are they trying to achieve with this strategy?

Chipotle is using what is called “Cause Marketing.” They are attracting attention to the cause rather than themselves. Cause Marketing can be quickly ineffective if the cause doesn’t align with the company and their values but in this case, Chipotle has positioned themselves extremely well to not only bring attention to the cause, but also benefit from that attention.

So take a look at the video and let us know what you think – just another well done viral video or the start of a new wave of marketing?

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In Defense of the E-Newsletter Mon, 16 Sep 2013 22:05:15 +0000 I’m constantly on the lookout for ways to better aggregate and consume information. I have accounts across Twitter, Pocket, Zite, Instapaper, Flipboard, and RSS feeds to my email.  I simply can’t keep up.

Of late, I’ve started to find great utility in subscribing to e-newsletters from “can’t miss” websites that post tons of content that’s either interesting or relevant to me. In a raucous sea of information spewed forth from Twitter and its ilk, the e-newsletter is the closest I’ll get to navigating calmer waters of information.

I admit, e-newsletters are kind of old school. They’re like a hipster Twitter. Nevertheless, it’s a wonderfully static alternative to the kinetic nature of modern information dissemination.

So, you’re probably curious about the newsletters I subscribe to. I’ve listed a few below. If you like these and wanted to know about a few others I follow, which are simply too many to list here, shoot me a note @pat_armitage on Twitter:

NextDraft – Called “The day’s most fascinating news from Dave Pell” and I couldn’t agree more. This daily newsletter is the Cliffs Notes version to my Twitter stream. It condenses the relevant and irrelevant nicely. The highlight of all my emails I get each day.

Buffer – I’ll borrow straight from their website: “A blog about productivity, life hacks, writing, user experience, customer happiness and business.” This newsletter is a deep dive on topics ranging from social media to improving your memory. Never boring, always enlightening.

Harvard Business Review: Weekly Hotlist – Pretty much a download of what’s trending on HBR: blog posts, podcasts, and videos. For someone who likes to frequent their site, this newsletter gives me the biggest, most viewed stories sent straight to my inbox.

Now I Know from Dan Lewis – Not really a newsletter that will make you a better marketer or manager, however, I’ve found it to be a great read when brushing my teeth in the morning (yes, I read while brushing my teeth…that’s normal, right?). I love this daily newsletter for the quirkiness of content. Lewis features the background and history on random bits of trivia and information. If anything, it’s great cocktail fodder!


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Be a (First) Follower Thu, 05 Sep 2013 21:26:48 +0000

We’ve been taught our whole lives the merit of being a leader, but Sivers has an intriguing point here when he gives the credit of risk to the first follower. After all, the first follower has the potential to not only be an only follower, but a failed leader as well. It’s an interesting realization that ideas become reality only through the power of multiple people supporting it, not by the potential of the idea alone. It makes you wonder what ideas have been put on the backburner simply because no one wanted to take that initial risk, and where companies would be if they hadn’t taken risks. Where would Apple be without Jonathan Ive, designer of the iPod and iPhone? HBO’s Game of Thrones, one of the most expensive TV show ever produced, wouldn’t be raking in the cash if producers and writers hadn’t been willing to take on such a complex narrative, either.

There’s a moral to this: take risks, especially when you have the ability to benefit off of someone else’s great idea.

Can’t view the video on this page? Click here to view it.

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