New Orleans: A City with Personality

I’ve probably said this a few times already on this blog – but I absolutely loved New Orleans!  It is such a vibrant city and a perfect juxtaposition of old and new, hip and traditional – classic but with a twist.  There is so much personality everywhere you go – case in point here. We were taking a stroll around the Warehouse district when we spotted these street signs:

I loved these little street banners because they are a symbol (however small they may be) of the wit, humour and eccentricity that is New Orleans.  To me, they were a sign of how the city differentiates and brands itself – which got me thinking about Travel and Tourism Advertising.

Travel and Tourism Advertising is an area that I am highly interested in as it combines two of my biggest passions.  The concept of promoting a destination has stayed the same for years but the tactics have certainly changed dramatically!  People are no longer relying on magazines and catalogues – I remember having to request ahead of time, travel catalogues from the places I wanted to visit and having to wait patiently for them to arrive by mail (snail mail, that is).  Today’s travellers are on the web – from the research stage all the way to the booking stage.  And when they are doing their research from the privacy of their own computers – how do you leave an impression and compel them to visit?

I can say that I was in love with New Orleans – even before I got there!

The official New Orleans Tourism website (while a bit dated in its design) is packed with useful information.  From where to eat to what to do, the site is full of useful information for you regardless of what time of year you choose to visit.  There were itineraries based on your interests, budgets and even your age.  This of course, is very typical of tourism websites.

What impressed me more were their efforts offsite.  They were very active on social media, using the hashtag #FollowYourNola to help visitors discover local favourites.  During my research, I also discovered that New Orleans had commissioned several travel bloggers to visit the city and to share their experiences on their blogs with their readers.  The quality of the bloggers was impressive.  I read the blogs and didn’t even mind seeing the disclaimer at the end.  The bloggers shared beautiful photos, off the beaten path activities and customized to-do lists and I genuinely appreciated their efforts in offering authentic recommendations.

For a city that has so much to offer, I think they are doing a pretty grand job getting the word out.  I loved New Orleans – and can’t wait to go back again some day to visit.

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I Spy…Microsoft Cloud Advertising in Chicago Airport

The Chicago O’ Hare International Airport is usually not my top choice when I have to transit through the States.  The chaos from day to night, the masses of people, the line ups and the waiting – the thought of going through O’ Hare definitely has the ability to make my heart to skip a beat (or two).

On my last trip to New Orleans, I had a 7 hour layover in Chicago.  7 hours is a long time to be stuck in an airport – nothing compared to Viktor Navorski aka Tom Hanks in The Terminal of course but still plenty of time for me to roam around and get lost in airport advertising.  I was stuck in Terminal C for the most part and the ads that caught my eye were the big banners by Microsoft.

Microsoft Cloud Advertising

Microsoft Cloud Advertising

These banners were quite big and were hung high up above the security exits.  The colours were striking and immediately caught my attention even amidst the chaos that is O’ Hare!

Cloud computing has been gaining in popularity in recent times.  Microsoft has maintained a strong hold on enterprise solutions for businesses (true for US and Canada) and these ads were intended to solidify or more likely, introduce Microsoft as a cloud solutions provider to business people and IT professionals.

After some digging, I found the corresponding URL for this Microsoft Cloud campaign.  I was surprised to learn that each ad featured a real client success story that was centred around the Microsoft Cloud services. Above, the first ad was actually about how the cloud helped the Lotus F1 team win the race.  The second is a story of how the City of Barcelona used various Cloud services to run one of the biggest festivals in the city with over 1.5 million guests. The 2 stories together showcases how these real life Microsoft clients were able to utilize the suite of products to their benefit.

Here is the corresponding video for the second ad:

This was an interesting campaign for me to look into.  Seeing the ads peaked my curiosity but when I looked up the site – I was given the big picture and I was surprised at how well Microsoft was able to present their solution and products.  The site itself is well laid out – interactive with many videos to help explain the ‘complex’ ideas behind cloud computing, and when you’re ready for more information, you can dig deeper where you will find more case studies and real life examples.  Finally, when you are ready to share your findings with your team – Microsoft makes it easy for you to share by making a White Paper available for download and email link right from their page.

I have to say – I was pleasantly surprised!


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Bill Marriott’s 12 Rules for Success

Bill Marriott 12 Rules of Success

On my recent trip to New Orleans, we stayed at the Marriott Downtown in the Warehouse District right across from the Convention Center.  The hotel was beautiful and the exterior still reflected the old European style of years gone by.  The inside was modern and contemporary. What a great mix of the old and new!

Inside, by the front door was a  framed painting of Bill Mariott.  Seeing the painting reminded me of his blog entry that I read a few weeks ago.  I’m much too young and still too early on in my career to have a definitive set of rules for success but I hope that one day when I am, I will have the wisdom and grace of Bill Mariott.  Here are his 12 Rules of Success (You can read the original blog post here).

  1. Challenge your team to do better and do it often.
  2. Take good care of your associates, and they’ll take good care of your customers, and they’ll come back.
  3. Celebrate your peoples’ success, not your own.
  4. Know what you’re good at and keep improving.
  5. Do it and do it now.  Err on the side of taking action.
  6. Communicate by listening to your customers, associates and competitors.
  7. See and be seen. Get out of your office, walk the talk, make yourself visible and accessible.
  8. Success is always in the details.
  9. It’s more important to hire people with the right qualities than with specific experience.
  10. Customer needs may vary, but their bias for quality never does.
  11. Always hire people who are smarter than you are.
  12. View every problem as an opportunity to grow.


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Living Adventurously

I just wanna go on more adventures. Be around good energy. Connect with people. Learn new things. Grow.

I took a few days off from work last week to visit the lovely city of New Orleans.  The city was magical – and so many different things all at once, it is so hard to describe!  Old, mixed in with the new.  Lively and yet, slow paced.  Elegant and hip.  What an amazing few days I had having my fill of crawfish, oysters, live jazz and sun on my skin!!

I love to travel.  Since moving back to Canada and settling back into real ‘grown-up’ life, my life has been much more grounded… as in ‘no flying’ kind of grounded.  But when I do get to go away for a few days, I always come back feeling more inspired.  The change in environment and routine is always welcomed and sometimes – that is what’s necessary to help me refresh and recharge.  Seeing and experiencing new things always inspires new perspectives in me – and what’s more valuable in life than growth?

I can’t wait to write more about my trip and to share the marketing ideas that the trip inspired!  I have started a new section on the site dedicated to the advertising and marketing I’ve seen during my travels.  A marketing nerd is a marketing nerd anywhere and when I travel, I find that I am especially sensitive to all the advertising that I see!   Check out the section above under “Around the World”. Stay tuned for more!

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New Generation of Online Ads

Earlier this month, Yahoo made a big (and in my opinion, very exciting announcement)! From the Yahoo Advertising Blog:

Today, we are excited to introduce Yahoo Motion Ads, a new ad format that brings images to life, helping brands tell more engaging stories and drive greater awareness with their target audiences.

The new ads use high-quality brand images with subtle animation to create high-impact experiences for advertisers that are equally entertaining for readers. Yahoo Motion Ads are initially available within the creative canvas of our Billboard Ad on the Yahoo homepage, our vertical category homepages, and the Yahoo login page.

Kraft was chosen to the the launch advertiser of this new ad format.  Below is their ad on the Yahoo login page:

Specs for the ad: here

This is the next generation of online rich media advertising!  The motion is the GIF ad definitely sets its apart from standard online PPC ads or banner ads. This brings to mind the Cinemagraphs that were popular a few years back with advertisers.  I cannot wait to see what the big brands do and how they will utilize this new format for advertising!  Imagine the possibilities – the stories you can tell, the images you can bring to life…

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Going Viral – #NoMakeupSelfie

Lately, my Facebook feedback has been filled with female friends taking part in the #NoMakeUpSelfie trend.  This hashtag seem to have appeared overnight and out of nowhere. Women were taking pictures of themselves bare faced, with no make up and sharing the picture online.  Naturally, it made me very curious and I did a little investigating.

Turns out, the #NoMakeUpSelfie is associated with Cancer Research UK and to date, has raised over $13.1 million for cancer research.  What’s more – the hashtag didn’t originally start out as a fundraising campaign for cancer research!  The first instance of the hashtag being used can be traced back to British novelist Laura Lipmann in support of actress Kim Novak’s appearance at the Oscars (see the tweet here). Surprisingly, the tweet had nothing to do with cancer. Once the hashtag gained momentum though, Cancer Research UK joined in and attached the “no make up” idea to fighting cancer.


So what made the ‘campaign’ so successful? Here are a few lessons I’ve learned:

  • Campaigns can be spontaneous – the key is in the timing and knowing when to participate and gain from the momentum (in the least commercial, opportunistic way, of course)
  • There is power is ‘grassroots’ origins – the best ‘campaign’ ideas can come from anyone, anywhere
  • Make it easy for people to participate – the ask in this campaign was very simple; take a photo of yourself with no make up on. There was no dressing up, props or special venue/setting required
  • Make it easy for people to act – Cancer Research UK used a text component that allowed people to donate quickly and conveniently via text from their phones
  • Trigger an emotional response -the campaign empowered participants and made them feel good about themselves. This emotional response is what triggered the viral social sharing

From what I’ve seen in my own Facebook feed, most people were curious and generally, there was a positive response to the ‘campaign’ (which did not look or feel like a campaign at all!) And not only are people participating by taking pictures, they are donating money too!  How amazing that one simple hashtag can make such a big difference – I guess, that is the power of social media.


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5 Ways to Make Your Content Marketing More Interesting

content marketing tips

I admit, some days it is a struggle to develop interesting content for the websites I manage. There is a lot of ‘wordsmithing’ to make boring tedious information seem interesting and engaging for visitors.  After all, did you know that the average attention span of web users is now only 8 seconds? 8…seconds?

These days, I rarely ‘dump’ copy on a webpage as is.  I break up the text with banner images that span the width of the page or Call to Action boxes within the text or at the bottom of the page.  While bulleted lists are a common way to lay out information in an organized way, on the web I find them boring and outdated.  I often apply the ‘zig zag’ approach where I alternate between text and images instead to illustrate the points.

Here are a few creative (and interesting) ways to make your content more interesting:


I love Infographics for conveying complex information or stats-heavy information.  An infographic is a visual graphic presentation of information or data.  The infographics that you see now are so visually compelling, it makes learning look fun and easy!

Frequently Asked Questions

Think about the questions that you have received from your customers in the past. If one customer had that question, chances other customers present and future will encounter the same issue.  Keep track of the customer inquiries you have and save the responses you send to your customers as valuable content for your website.

How to Guides

When it is appropriate, How to Guides can be very helpful to your customers.  If you want to be seen as an expert in your field, How to Guides can also help demonstrate that expertise.  Remembering that people only share what they find entertaining or valuable, offering this content freely to your customers can help increase engagement and shareability of your site.

Product Demonstration Videos  

Instead of writing out product descriptions or step by step tutorials, sometimes it is more effective to let your customers see the product in action.  With Vine or Instagram video, these demonstration videos can even be as short as 8 or 15 seconds!

Expert Interviews

Expert interviews can make great blog entries.  It gives your audience the chance to hear from a voice other than yours and it can increase your expertise level by associating with other experts in the field.

Hope these ideas help when you are experiencing marketer’s block!

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