10 ways to promote word of mouth marketing

word of mouth

Building a brand from the ground up is no simple task no matter the business. Besides the incredible amount of work that you have to put in from the start, there is a lot that is out of your control. Word of mouth marketing is still king so it’s important to build a brand that people will be passionate about. Whether they are talking about you to their friends in person or writing a Yelp! review, what they say will largely be what the general consensus is about your business. Knowing this, there are a number or things that are within your control to ensure that your brand is one worth talking about.

Here are 10 energizers which inspire people to spread the word about you.

  1. People will share your message, if it makes them look clever. This is why social networks are packed with Einstein quotes.
  2. People will share your message, if it makes them appear generous to their friends or community
  3. People will share your message, if they think it will make them look informed, ahead of the curve or cutting-edge.
  4. People will share your message, if it’s remarkable. Extremely satisfied customers tell their friends when they receive an amazing service.
  5. People will share your message, if they are paid to. Such as bloggers who write sponsored posts, affiliate marketers and advertising providers.
  6. People will share your message, if they are part of your community and want others to join in.
  7. People will share your message, if they believe it will help you and they care about you.
  8. People will share your message, if it’s baked into your product or service. When you see someone using an Apple MacBook in public, there’s an illuminated apple on the rear of their screen.
  9. People will share your message, if it says something they aren’t brave enough to say for themselves.
  10. People will share your message, if they believe it’s of great value and that their friends need to know.

4 Qualities of A Bad Design Client

Design Client

Every designer has gone through the following scenario at some point. You get a new design client for some work. It may be for an app, a website, business collateral or a logo/branding overhaul. The work is pretty straightforward after you get to know the client a little bit and understand the values of the company or business entity, and what they are looking for. You grind away on the project, and finish with what you think is close to a final product. Then comes the feedback loop. For me this includes asking designer friends what they think (provided I haven’t had to sign an NDA) as well as my colleagues. The most important feedback of all comes from the design client though. After all, it’s them who’s lining your pockets. This is where the trouble begins. Despite general positive feedback from others, they aren’t happy with what you’ve done. It’s frustrating, but it’s part of the job, and it’s up to you to fix it. But how much feedback is too much? How far is too far when it comes to criticism and input? As designers, we live and die by our portfolios, so it’s important to know how to recognize a bad design client and cut ties. Here are some of the more obvious character flaws.

Closed Minded

You’ll always come across these people who are set in their ways. They refuse to be open about the most minute changes such as a color swap or font replacement despite delineating a design plan that clearly indicated such changes would be necessary. They often are the type to hover over your shoulder throughout a project, making sure everything is done exactly as they say and usually not accepting of new ideas or creative solutions. In order for a project to be successful, both the designer and client need to be open to compromise. If your client comes across as closed minded it may be time to pull the plug because they’re certainly not someone you want to work with.


I cannot count the number of times it’s been suggested to me by friends and potential clients alike to do something for free because “it’s just art,” or “it’s just design.” I spent the same amount of time time as everyone else learning the principles and practices of my field so that I could provide a financial means to live my life. To have it discounted by anyone is offensive to me and it should be to other designers as well. A disrespectful design client often sees themselves above you and can be condescending. Don’t work with these people.


Bad design clients often believe that once they detail the scope of the project, the entirety of its responsibility falls on you, the designer. They refuse to become involved until the very end and often tell you things like, “I trust you,” and “Just take care of it and we’ll review when you’re finished.” No. No. NO. Designers require constant feedback on the process to make sure there is no time wasted on something that will eventually be scrapped. Explaining these points to a client usually results in a mutual understanding with them being willing to play their part, but there will always be the few that are too busy to give you their time.

Unopen to Criticism

Part of designing is being open to criticism at all times. It’s something we learn early on in our careers and eventually learn to utilize to inform and mold our decisions and design styles. That being said, it should be obvious that this same level of maturity and ability to take criticism is expected of any professional. If a design client can’t handle criticism it’s a red flag warning of a bad client. Drawing from the last two points, often times design clients overlook the fact that designers are experts in their field and utilize their artistic expertise to solve problems just like anyone else. That being the case, the same level of deference should be given to a designer’s suggestions as someone would give a lawyer for their council.


For hilarious and horrible real life examples of what it’s like working with a bad design client please visit clientsfromhell.net/ 



The Major ? s to Marketing Success as Learned from DJ Khaled

dj khaled

If anyone had asked me just a couple months ago what I thought about DJ Khaled I most likely would have responded, “who? That annoying dude that screams his own name and ‘WE THA BEST’ over every annoying club anthem ever and does nothing else? He’s a joke.” Today, my answer to that question is very very different. Today, if you asked me what I think about DJ Khaled I’ll say, “he’s smart. He’s loyal. He’s the best. He’s arguably the most supportive person in my life. He’s a social media sensation, a marketer, and dare I say it, a revolutionary.” So what happened to sway my opinion you ask? Pure and simple, I followed him on Snapchat.

At some point in the last few months DJ Khaled took to snapchat, thought it a great idea to make his username publicly available, and starting broadcasting his lifestyle to millions of would be fans like myself, making it the fulcrum of his resounding social success the way that Instagram has been for Kim Kardashian. His infectious Khaledisms such as “Major ? alert,” “Cloth talk,” and “They don’t want you to win” have steadily worked their way across other social media platforms and even snuck into daily conversation amongst millennials. Whether people are saying  these things ironically or jokingly is irrelevant. The point is that they have caught on and generated an insane demand for more everything from DJ Khaled (ANOTHA ONE!), that most other public figures and major companies would salivate over. So are there lessons to be learned from DJ Khaled that you can follow? You bet your ass there are.

Major ? #1

Capturing emotion and creating personal moments is what marketing is all about. Is your company taking customers behind the scenes? Are you taking them through your routine, sharing breakfast, or living it up at a nightclub? DJ Khaled makes it a point to share the intimate moments of his life whether it be hanging out with Diddy and Rick Ross or checking to see what Chef Dee made for breakfast. He makes you feel like you’re a part of his day and then he proves that you are in a major way: Fan Luv. Beyond letting viewers see his life, he invites them into it, often posting the address of where he’s going to be and inviting any of his fans to come see him, creating minutes long stories of his own and allowing said fans to record their own 10 second max snap of the fleeting time they got to be a part of the DJ Khaled microcosm. He’s establishing a genuine emotional connection and relating to his fans and not just boasting about how many he has. And lastly, he doesn’t just go home and call it a day when it’s all said and done. He reminds us all to be grateful and count our blessings, something that all companies know, but very few express.

Major ? #2

You should care about your brand than anybody else and you should let everyone know it. There is no doubt in my mind hat DJ Khaled would bet it all on his brand being “THE BEST.” His brand, from the music he produces to the clothing he sells, is the accumulation of his life’s work and the grind he’s had to put in over the last two decades to get to where he is now. Khaled knows this and takes it upon himself to impenitently tell the rest of us over snapchat, often wearing clothes and flip flops from his We The Best line or listening to his own music during his “elliptical talk” work outs. Repetition of these not-so-outlandish statements is vital to his success. He knows in his heart that he’s the best and he won’t let the rest of us forget it. It’s as if he took a page out of the public speaking book. Tell them what you’re going to show them, show them, then tell them what you showed them. DJ Khaled is the master of this kind of repetition, and it works. If it didn’t, I wouldn’t be wearing a pair of his flip flops right now. For those who have the gall to call him out or disagree, DJ Khaled would like you to not “play yourself”, “bow down”, and “just know,” because.

Major ? #3

This key follows directly from the previous one. Marketing means nothing without a decent product. While the quality of his clothing line cannot be derived from simply watching DJ Khaled’s snapchat (which is why I bought a pair of his sandals. They’re super comfortable.), what cannot be argued is the vitality and success of his music. You can’t say you’re the best at something without having the proof to back it up and Khaled can do that. Over the last decade DJ Khaled has had anthem after anthem go platinum. These were all before he was on snapchat too. He is the living embodiment of what it means to have a top quality product before you can even start thinking of pitching it to the masses.



The Difference Between Earned, Owned, & Paid Media

paid media

If you have ever worked or still do work within the world of marketing, chances are high that you know the differences that differentiate earned, owned and paid media from one another. As a company that aims to serve small businesses in Austin we’ve found that small business owners to more often that not be on the opposite of the spectrum and not know what these differences are or why they matter. That being the case I thought I’d take a little time out of my Friday night to explain the differences.


Simply put, earned media accounts for brand exposure your company has receive through word-of-mouth. Whether it’s the content of your website or your social media channels, your customer service reputation or community influence, earned media refers to the recognition you receive as a result. This often comes in the form of mentions in the press, reviews  and recommendations on sites such as Yelp and Glassdoor, shares on social media sites, content you post in collaboration with other companies and more. Some of the benefits of earned media are that it’s the most credible (because it comes unsolicited from people not connected to your business), it’s transparent, and its long lasting. However, there are a few negative trade offs such as you not being in control of it. Take a look at the trainwreck that used to be Amy’s Bakery. Negative press killed that business (Not that it wasn’t deserved). Earned media is usually at the top of the funnel for lead conversion and is what gets people initially interested in your company.


Whereas earned media is uncontrollable, owned media is just the opposite. You are in full control. From the graphics you feature to the words you type, the way your company is perceived through your channels in in your hands. The most common types of owned media come in the form of your website and social media pages but may also take shape as blog posts, case studies, whitepapers, etc. The primary goal of owned media is to provide value to leads as they try to find out more about your company without being overly promotional. Think educational content. What do you want people to know about you, your company, and your resources. Because you have complete control you can tailor this however you want, but be wary. Just because you can say whatever you want doesn’t mean you should.  Being hyperbolic or deceptive is a sure-fire way to  lose trust and credibility.


Last but not least is paid media. As is the case with owned media, you are in full control of paid media. Paid media at its roots is a way to promote content and drive exposure for your company and in today’s world of technology  there are a multitude of ways to do this. Paid media also brings you full circle back to earned media. Have you ever seen a funny commercial and then told a friend about it, or even made them watch it? This is a simple example of that conversion. Advertisements on TV, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more are the most obvious examples of paid media, but there are certainly more. It all depends on where your target audience likes to congregate both digitally and in the real world. Besides full control, another benefit of paid media is the immediacy of it. Being able to identify what’s in demand and custom tailor a quick solution for people to latch onto is great. The negatives are that in the growing digital realm where ad blockers are present, a lot of paid media is now treated as unwanted clutter.




How Package Design Affects The Way Our Food Tastes.

One man is leading the charge to research how taste is affected by the way our food looks and sounds.

If you’re paying attention the next time you stroll through a supermarket you might notice how colorful everything is, a botanical garden of plastic wrapped consumerism. You might also notice that your eye is often drawn to a particular package design that is subconsciously appealing to you. Whether it be based on the color or the shape of the package, there is something screaming out to you saying, “look at me. Buy me.” This is effective design and marketing at work. But what if your consumer habits weren’t the only thing influenced by package design? What if the way that that food actually tastes to you was being directly affected simply by the way its packaging looks?

package design 1

In a recent New Yorker article about the multisensory studies of Charles Spence, a professor of experimental psychology at Oxford University, this very idea is explored in a way that could have major implications for the future of package design and marketing. With a team of researchers at Spence’s Crossmodal Research Lab, Spence has been studying how taste can be transformed by color, shape, and sound. As an example, their earliest research suggests that the perceived freshness of a chip can be affected by the pitch of the crunch sound that it makes, or that the sweetness of strawberry mousse is ramped up when served from a white container instead of a black one. With many more experiments revealing similar findings alongside the Western world’s already rampant snack-food craze where food is consumed directly from the package, it’s not hard to see where the potential for major marketing comes into play. Consider for example that for the span of a decade, Spence was part of a research group funded by Unilever where he and his team tested the effects of volume and pitch on perceptions of aerosol sprays.

In 2006, with funding from Unilever, Spence conducted a study to see whether altering the volume and pitch of the sound from an aerosol can would affect how a person perceives the pleasantness or forcefulness of a deodorant. Based on Spence’s findings, the company invested in a packaging redesign for Axe deodorant, complete with new nozzle technology. The underarm spray, which is targeted at young men, now sounds noticeably louder than the company’s gentler, female-targeted Dove brand.

With countless studies under the guidance of Spence revealing similar outcomes it’s easy to see that the future of package design in marketing is as big as it’s ever been and just getting bigger. The important question is how marketers will use it. There is a very real concern surrounding the obesity epidemic in the united states. Making packaging more appealing through the employment of color and shape has already been shown to encourage poor choices with regards to purchasing food. Spence contests that his research could be used for the complete opposite reason though, combatting obesity and promoting health. He has recently been meeting with the U.K. government’s Behavioural Insights Team to discuss how companies could use sensory manipulation through package design to replace some of the detrimental nutritional content of packaged foods.

Read more on Charle’s Spence at The New Yorker


The Pumpkin Spice Latte: Cultural Icon, Marketing Genius, and Personal Growth.

pumpkin spice latte

It’s 6 A.M. on a Tuesday. The sun has yet to crest over the eastern horizon, and the only light is the dingy reflective glow of traffic lights and store signs on the damp empty roads of downtown Austin. The world around me is still asleep with the exception of the likeminded few who choose to use this morning hour to listen to some Helios, clear their heads, and punish their knees on a run. I know my route by heart. West on 11th from home to Guadalupe, South on Guad to South 1st street, East on Riverside, then North on Congress through the Capital grounds and up 15th to San Antonio where I always stop at Starbucks for coffee. I’ve only been doing this for a few months, trying to reverse the effects of being a stagnant, gluttonous waste for the last two years that I’ve been out of college, but it feels normal by now. Everything is familiar and routine. Today something is different though. As I make my way up 15th, I see my daily Starbucks in the distance, a beacon of hope on my exhausting 4 mile journey (progress!). There’s something different about it. I don’t see the usual small crowd of exercise junkies and early rising business people that usually inhabit the place. Instead I see a line out the door of young looking women who I presume attend college next door at UT based on their oversized t-shirts, nike running shoes, and messy buns. It suddenly hits me what has happened. The pumpkin spice latte is back. I laugh to myself as I recognize the telltale sign that Fall is here.

pumpkin spice latte white girl

The “basic white college girl with her $2000 bag and her PSL,” is an image that’s permeated our culture for a while now, and it’s not likely to go away soon even though it is a bit tired.  As I stand in line I can’t help but think it myself, but as the wait progresses my thoughts turn to something else. How did this damn drink get so popular? How did it become associated with college aged future suburbanites?  In the 20 minutes it takes me to get to the front of the line I realize a few things.

  1. Starbucks’ marketing of the pumpkin spice latte is awesome. Its presence in every social channel and the number of devotees is indescribable. Not only does the drink have its own Twitter account where the drink has been personified with over 114k followers, but the #PSL, #PumpkinSpice, and #PumpkinSpiceLatte hashtags have been attached to almost one million photos on Instagram.
  2. More impressive is that in the time since its introduction in 2003, the company has sold more than 20 million of the beverage. WOW. At the going rate for Starbucks drinks, that’s a huge profit.
  3. Starbucks didn’t just manage to create the most popular Autumn beverage of all time. They created a movement that is evidenced by the massive amounts of pumpkin spiced EVERYTHING we see debut around this time. From lotions, to candy, to alcohol, pumpkin spice is everywhere. Consumers just can’t seem to stay away, and it’s all thanks to Starbucks.
  4. This means that Starbucks not only cashed in for itself, but that it allowed other businesses to piggyback on that success, encouraged competition, and stimulated the market. Way to go Starbucks!
  5. Perhaps most importantly, the immense level of success shows that Starbucks knows its target audience for the pumpkin spice latte in a way that every company should aspire to. The fact that the “basic white girl” image is associated with the PSL is proof of its success, and despite any negative connotations, Starbucks and the millions of people drinking their pumpkin spice lattes own it. And why shouldn’t they?

As I approach the counter, drenched in sweat and most likely smelling like wet trash, a cool young guy with a slicked back Macklemore do and tortoise shell Warby Parker glasses says “good morning,” and asks me if I’d like my usual americano to which I manage to stutter back, “N..not today.” Palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy (shoutout Eminem) and I say to the man, with the confidence of every young lady that stood in line before me, “I’ll have a grande pumpkin spice latte.” I’d like to say the crowd erupted with a celebratory roar as everyone in the shop came up to shake my hand and congratulate me on my overall success as a human being. I’d like to tell you that I was the millionth PSL customer of the day and that I won an unlimited amount of PSLs for life. In reality, I shuffle over to the corner and wait with nervous excitement for my drink, shivering in the air conditioning as sweat runs down my back, and then it comes, the moment of truth. My whole life has led to this moment. I take a sip of my pumpkin spice latte, and you know what?