Tag Archives: community

Keep Marketing Fun – Landing Page Optimization

KMF-LPIf you haven’t heard, our monthly marketing event/meetup is just around the corner! On June 19th, come check out Keep Marketing Fun – Landing Page Optimization. The fun starts at  6 and we’ll be hanging out at our new space at 445 rue Saint-Pierre, Suite 302.

Being the self-crowned “Landing Page Kings of Montreal” this event is beyond just defining what a landing page is and should be. We have an awesome lineup of speakers eager to drop some knowledge about landing page creation, getting your landing page noticed as well as the science behind optimizing user flow for landing pages.

We supply the food and drinks as well as prizes! Once you register for the event, you’ll be eligible to win tickets to Social Media Breakfast Montreal, a Brendan & Brendan landing page (design and copy edit – valued at $1500), as well as services from our awesome partners Unbounce and Crowdvert. Crowdvert, who works with some of the world’s larges brands, is very excited to award three attendees content conversion consultation.

Psyched yet? We certainly are – REGISTER HERE and come Keep Marketing Fun with us at our Landing Page Optimization event.

Video of the Week – A Helping Hand to India’s Children


A common pitfall for social-cause advertising is that all too often, companies focus on image rather than content. When Coke went down to Columbia and got a bunch of villagers to paint Coke bottles, harvest rain water and sell them to really rich American socialites, their ad campaign read more like a company giving itself a high-five rather than a genuine social campaign. Sure, they helped out to a village in dire need, but the message was unmistakably about brushing up Coke’s image as a company with a social conscience rather than as people who generally care about poverty. Remember KONY 2012? A promising campaign, KONY and Invisible Children imploded on itself in like a week once the disappointing facts about IC and their questionable executives were released. At its core, KONY was a campaign that went after a highly marketable target in Joseph Kony, the ruthless Central African warlord, and not the actual reasons of strife in the region.

The Rotary Miracles’ collaboration with JWT Kolkata is a great example of socially-conscious advertising done really well. Over the past couple years, Rotary helped India eradicate itself of polio, made 5,000 free heart surgeries for children possible, as well as establishing e-learning services in over 10,000 schools. Not bad, huh? In this particular campaign, the focus of is on child labour, and the idea of education as a liberating vehicle for Indian children. Child labour is a dark mark on India’s growth and modernization with over 60 million child labourers currently working under inhumane conditions.

While there are a couple variations of the ad, the story is more or less the same; a stop-motion cartoon of a child drawn onto a small hand. The child toils away at work until a larger hand touches the small hand, allowing the cartoon child to safely jump from the workspace to a computer desk. The ad is all it needs to be; it’s cute but not fluffy, and the simplicity of the design is poignant and direct. This campaign is very clearly about the issue of child labour and not about a company brushing up its image; Rotary’s logo only briefly shows up at the very end of the ad. The finishing touches here is the choir of children echoing in the background and it only adds to the charm of the ad without cheapening the message in a “save the children” type way.

What’s important here is that JWT, an international ad giant went with a local approach; Rotary is an international company, but at no point does this ad feel like rich foreigners with a white savior’s complex coming to India to help children and look awesome while doing it. Using JWT’s local Kolkata agency gives the campaign an authentic lustre that makes no mistake in defining the real purpose of the message: helping children jump feet-first from deplorable workplaces into modern and accessible digital classrooms.

Check out the excellent ad here:


5 Ways to Breakfast – How Not Having Events is Killing Your Business

Keep Marketing Fun - Business Edition introIf you’ve met any of us who work at Brendan & Brendan and you are not already a client, chances are it was probably at an event. We love throwing events. Why? Because it’s like a better version of social media. While we love the blog, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, Flickr, and even being interviewed (see our most recent interview here) nothing beats a little face time and by face time, we mean the, actual in the flesh kind.

Even though we’re a digital agency, and we don’t even meet a certain percentage of our clients face-to-face, throwing events helps us grow our business. Here’s how we leverage our events and you should too:

  1. Helps grow our community:
    All of our growth has been organic. We eat our own dog food, which means we employ the same marketing techniques and strategies that we advise to our clients. Throwing events has been instrumental in introducing us to many business, local and international.
  2. Builds traction:
    Events build social traction and help us build our business… which I’ll get to later. Our social media has grown by leaps and bounds during and after events simply because by throwing events there have actually been things to talk about.
  3. Networking at Keep Marketing Fun - Business EditionProduces new leads:
    This is part of how we build our business. A well-produced and well-timed event shows off our skills as a marketing company. Even if that’s not in your wheelhouse, it helps get your name out, and can show off the capabilities of your team.
  4. Builds company credibility online and offline:
    While you’re getting Tweeted about and Instagrammed, you’re gaining social proof – basically digital credibility. It shows that you’re real and that other real people have met you. It’s always nice not to be mistaken for a bot ;). But even more than that, it’s so much easier to connect with people IRL instead of being a disembodied voice or floating head on a screen!
  5. Attendess of Keep Makreting Fun - Business EditionInforms clients about our products and services:
    Your audience might not be captive, but if they came to your event, you definitely have their attention. This is a great way to show off your best side and announce new changes and even gain potential user feedback.

So when are you throwing your next event? Invite us! Want to know more about our events? Check them out here!

Fun Friday Post – B&B Road Trip to WordCamp Ottawa

B&B Road TripBrendan’s giving a talk about building responsive WordPress themes on Foundation. So, we decided to take Brendan & Brendan on the road. This morning we packed our bags into the rental car (two people missing toothbrushes) and we embarked on a trip to Ottawa.

Here are 10 things we learned while on the road:

  1. B&B road trip - on the roadYou should play “Geography” to pass the time. We’ve been playing since we hit the Quebec/Ontario border and the game could have gone on for a long time. The rules of the game are that everyone takes turns naming geographic entities (countries, cities, regions, mountain ranges, rivers, etc.) but the first letter must match the last letter of the previous person’s.
  2. Leila and Harris know their Middle Eastern food, so when we stopped at a fast food shawarma place, it was cool to hear them discuss, with much Falafel bros!seriousness, the alarmingly neon color of the pickled beets, how falafels are often a hit or miss, and the worrisome tendency of microwaving food on styrofoam plates. Also the option of choosing regular, large and extra large sized shawarma rolls. Think literally three times the amount of choice you would find in Montreal. Opinions are divided on whether this is a blessing or a curse.
  3. Driving in Ottawa is very stressful, or maybe it’s just Leila.
  4. Leila has a drinkWhat’s everyone’s drink of choice? Sweet Laura likes her alcohol sweet and in reasonable doses. The other girls aren’t that picky, a nice glass of white will do. There were talks earlier in the day of bourbon from Brendan, Drew, and Harris, but it seems most have settled for some Dutch and Belgian beer.
  5. Harris used to do dangerous car stunts in Abu Dhabi. We now call him “Ghost Rider.”
  6. Brendan used to be a Reiki master.
  7. Laura is obsessed with board games.B&B road trip digs
  8. Leila and Vivien know who Robert Mapplethorpe is and regret it deeply.
  9. I am part Native even though I don’t look like it.
  10. Drew remains a mystery, as he wasn’t in the car with us. He has his own car, a concept foreign to most of us.

MTL Startup Jobs – A Special Project by Brendan & Brendan

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 12.05.17 PM

We believe in giving back! This is a FREE service for employers and job hunters.

Recently I came across a post on Facebook by a known Montreal Startup community leader complaining about the lack of resources in Montreal to help job hunters find work with startups. Of course this is not just a problem for people looking to get an in with startups, job hunting in general is difficult and most BIG job sites today are overwhelming and, in my humble opinion, poorly thought out in terms of user flow/experience.

Like most of us in the industry, be it service or software, if we have a job or run a company we always get asked the question “are you hiring?”. Not to mention the inevitable question on many a MTL Facebook community page “Hi, I’m new to Montreal and looking for …” or “I just left company x and I’m looking for …”.

With our recent launch of Bootstrap❤Love we thought, why not throw another hat into the startup arena? After all, we’re a part of this community and so are many of our clients.

Our motto at Brendan & Brendan is Keep Marketing Fun. With that in mind we thought why not Keep Job Hunting Simple! Why should it be difficult? Why can’t the community rely on a single point to find and post startup, or any entrepreneurial, jobs? The answer is simple. Of course they can, but somebody needs to build it and we figured, why not us.

Our goal, beyond helping the community, is to begin a movement towards re-defining what a job site is. We wanted to design and develop something that was super easy to use, understand, and navigate. We also understand that most companies don’t have time to devote to a lengthy-post-a-job process especially when on major job sites a local Montreal position can be easily buried. We wanted to create a hyperlocal job engine for our community by our community. With feedback from both the job hunters and employers we’ll continue to iterate MTL Startup Jobs in an effort to give people what they want Job Hunting and Posting Made Simple!

This is a FREE service for job hunters and employers. If you have any questions, comments, or feedback please reach out to us at http://www.mtlstartupjobs.com/contact/

I’ll leave you with this inspirational quote:

“Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.” –Thomas Jefferson

You’re a Content Marketer and the Internet Hates You

The last couple weeks haven’t been kind to content marketers. First, Google’s very own anti-spam enforcer, Matt Cutts, went after guest posting. Then Downworthy (a browser plugin that rewrites sensation headlines) declared war on clickbait. And finally, the Boing Boing editor, partner and tech culture journalist, Xeni Jardin, sounded a call-to-arms to reclaim the internet form the so-called “viral mills” of the internet marketing world (the irony of which was not lost on the Boing Boing community).

An Ironic Call to Arms (Source: BoingBoing.net)

An Ironic Call to Arms (Source: BoingBoing.net)

So what’s a marketer to do? Do we have to start worrying about the day where users rise against the machines in some sort of Skynet reversal scenario? Probably not…

This happened, for realz...

This happened, for realz…

Truth be told, all this hype is, ironically, the same kind of sensational hyperbole that it’s targeting in the first place. What’s really at issue, here, is that there’s a little bit more buzz than usual about how users (i.e. human beings) hate douche bags, so as long as you’re not a douche bag, or don’t let any douche bags infect your marketing, you should be fine.

That, of course, doesn’t mean that just ’cause you’re not a douche bag users are spontaneously going to find you. You still have some marketing to do. The real question is “How to go about it?”

Create useful & meaningful content…

In a sense, all marketing assets are content. From billboard and print spreads, to banners and PPC ads, almost everything you use to communicate a value proposition or unique selling proposition is something that engages users (or consumers) on some visual and cognitive level.

What do you think?

What do you think?

The thing about users (or consumers), though, is that they’re human beings. They’re human beings with limited bandwidth and attention span, and if you’re hoping to capture any of it and hold it, then you have to respect that by being mindful of their needs and how you can cater to them.

This is kinda Marketing 101 stuff. Just because someone is a human being, it doesn’t mean that they’re a potential buyer or targeted lead. And that’s what you’re supposed to be after as a marketer: targeted leads.

So when you’re creating content, focus on (1) who your target marketing is, (2) what you can do for them, and (3) how you can help them understand just what exactly it is that you can do for them. In other words, your content shouldn’t be focused so much on generating a sale (or click) directly, but on engaging human beings by helping them solve some problem or fill some need. If you can do that, your brand will be top of mind the next time they set out to make a purchasing decision.

and not just for SEO…

Another upside of this is that guest blogging is not actually dead. Instead, it’s getting back to what it was originally meant for: reaching out to a pre-existing community, engaging it, and giving them something it can use and appreciate and benefit from.

If you’re creating meaningful and useful content, you have every reason to take it out to the communities that are already out there that can benefit from it. ‘Cause, you know, we have another word for communities in the world of marketing: a target market.

So don’t be afraid to guest blog. But when you do so, do it for the right reasons — which do not include the linkjuice you’re going to get out of it. Rather, guest blog because you’ve found a community out there (i.e. target market) that can relate to you because you can relate to them.

and then build community…

True story...

True story…

Going out to the community is nice enough, and it’s a good start, but as a marketer, it won’t completely solve your problem of how to acquire and retain new customers (because let’s face it, that’s what marketers should be out to do). So you’re going to build a community around your brand, and that means making and maintaining a content footprint that’s not easily forgotten.

This might sound like a big, long-term, ongoing commitment, but that’s ’cause it is. And, of course, it’s not gonna be cheap, but you get what you pay for because content is a lot like tattoos: good ones aren’t cheap, and cheap ones aren’t good.

Don’t Let Abuse Ruin Your Community – Set Guidelines, Report and Ban!

What do you want your community to be?

It’s the first question you should ask when starting a community, yet I wonder how many people do? This past weekend we ran a workshop at our offices and during my seminar on Community Management & Building the question of banning users came up. As a long-time community manager and owner my response to this question is always “Sometimes you have to!”. But, the real question is how did it come to that?

Online communities are not much different than offline communities. Whether it be your neighbourhood watch, a schools parent association, or a regular industry meetup, when a group of individuals are given the opportunity to “speak their mind” not everyone is going to agree, or be polite. As the number of people in the group grows, the more pollution you, as the moderator, need to deal with.

The web is rampant with volatile comments on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. Communities are constantly under siege with a stream of negativity, racism, threats, homophobia, etc. yet, most moderators and owners choose to leave these comments. Community managers have debated the topic of deleting comments and banning users since the dawn of online forums and to this day there is no consensus on how, when, or if you should. It comes down to a personal choice as a member of the community to ignore the stupidity and as moderators and owners to set guidelines for their communities to be followed and acted upon – herein lies the problem!

Many online communities have little or no guidelines for their members to follow. At the beginning of this post I posed the question “What do you want your community to be?”. By understanding the kind of community you want to have you will be able to define some very basic, but essential, guidelines for your members to follow to ensure the goal of your community is being met and that the core philosophy and mission is intact leaving a satisfying experience for your members. Members join for a reason. It is up to you to support them in finding the answers they seek.

First rule of community building – set guidelines!

Don’t look at them as rules that must be followed, though they essentially are, but consider them the defining points that enable your members to get the support they need. For example: I belong to the Montréal + Startups Facebook group. A group dedicated to helping startups in Montreal learn and collaborate with each-other. I don’t post about my kids in this group. Why? Because the group manager has set some very basic guidelines “pinned” to the top of the page to help existing and new members understand the purpose of this group:

Promotion of books, events or services without relationship to Montreal+Startups group is banned.

Discussing knowledge, startup tips, sharing montreal startup news, community events and success stories, are good.

So think twice on how your post can benefit the community. Thanks!

Simple and effective! As a current or potential member I know what this group is for. If I break the “rules” I will be warned. If I continue to break the rules I will be banned. You should never be afraid to stamp out abuse in your community!

Let’s take a look at another example from Penny Arcade, one of the largest gaming forums on the web, their rules are rather lengthy, you can read the full thread here, but here’s the opening:

Screen Shot 2013-10-29 at 11.59.59 AMAn Important Note About The Nature Of These Rules

This thread is intended as a guide to the most important rules that must be followed by all members of our forums. It contains all of the most crucial information you will need in order to participate and also contains a FAQ about our forum culture.

What’s key here is the opening sentence ” … This thread is intended as a guide to the most important rules … ” They make it very clear that it is a guide to what they consider most important. They go on to explain why every member must follow these guidelines. They break down expectations for each category of the forum and make it very clear that you will “banned” if you don’t follow these guidelines.

Penny Arcade went through a tough period of growth where the guidelines they had were not good enough and abuse was at an all time high leaving many members no option but to leave for peace of mind. Like most things on the web, guidelines need to scale and change with your community’s growth. Strong communities look to their members for advice on their guidelines. Setting guidelines is essential to building a genuine culture around your community. Ask your community what kind of experience they want and expect. You can always change the guidelines, but you can’t change bad members!

I came across this great post, a framework for online community management, that discusses how to determine what is considered good or bad behaviour in your community. Sangeet Paul Choudary is an internet geek who currently works for 500 startups and explains the basics behind understanding user activity, regulation and prevention of actions taken in most online communities. It’s a solid read and I highly recommend it.

I also stumbled upon a Quora post asking “What are some good books for community managers to read” it’s a big list but there are definitely some gems in there. I would recommend reading Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk – 2 of my faves!

There’s plenty to be said on this subject and I hope I’ve given you something to think about if you’re considering starting your own community or if you have abuse issues in the one you currently run. I hope to write more on this subject in the future.

All feedback is welcome in the comments below! I’m always curious what other community mangers have to say on this topic 🙂