It was another successful year in Chicago at the 40th Annual Association of National Advertisers/Brand Activation Association Marketing Law Conference. During Friday’s general session, I gave a presentation titled “The Pursuit of ‘Truth’ in Advertising,” taking a look at how consumers view the truth in this era of fake news and alternative

It was an incredible three days in Chicago at the 39th Association of National Advertisers/Brand Activation Association Marketing Law Conference, “Breakthrough: Legal Strategies for Dynamic Businesses.” During yesterday morning’s general session, I gave a presentation titled “Transformation Sweeping Advertising and Marketing: Key Trends and Legal Developments,” exploring not only the trends and changes in

REPYou’re only as good as your first page of Google search results. That’s the reality of today’s business environment. Keeping a company’s online reputation as pristine as possible is a baseline for any sophisticated marketing strategy.

Need proof? The Edelman Trust Barometer for 2015 found that Internet search engines are now the most trusted source


As I mentioned last week, I will be continuing to discuss the FTC’s updated answers to its FAQs. This week, Advertising, Marketing & Promotions Partner Allison Fitzpatrick and I will focus on influencers and ambassadors, celebrity endorsements, and social media and promotions. Stay tuned for our last post in the series on online reviews, employee

Social media can be challenging with its many channels and niche audiences. Where does a brand start? And how do brands tie their efforts together? VIZIO, the nation’s largest seller of flat panel televisions, answered these questions by creating its own social network, called Fandemonium.

By leveraging a sponsorship begun in 2010, VIZIO first launched

2014 has been a banner year so far for shoemaker Stuart Weitzman. The luxury shoe brand is a top choice for a dizzying array of starlets who love Weitzman’s combination of style and comfort – such as Beyoncé who has claimed to have danced a thousand miles in hers, and Kate Middleton who sported a pair of Stuart Weitzman wedges when the Royal Couple visited Australia – and the brand made a big splash with the launch of SWxYOU.

SWxYOU is a series of limited edition shoes that allow customers to customize their shoes by choosing their own colors and hardware. Of course, Stuart Weitzman, the man behind the brand, has always been an innovator, ever since he took over his father’s shoe business and famously started using materials like lucite and wallpaper.

The brand has also been making news with its successful expansion.  In 2013, Stuart Weitzman opened Zaha Hadid-designed flagship store in Milan, and 2014 openings include Hong Kong and Rome.  All told, the brand operates forty-four retail stores across the United States, sixty-two international stores, fourteen international shop-in-shops, and e-commerce sites in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Hong Kong, making its footwear and accessories available in more than seventy countries.

Much of Stuart Weitzman’s recent expansion was fueled by careful data collection and savvy use of social media. The company uses offline data, such as in-store sales reports, in combination with online performance data, to gauge international audience preferences. It then uses those insights to drive promoted posts on Facebook in countries where it is about to open new stores.  For example, when Stuart Weitzman opened its new store in Mexico City, the brand saw 5,073 post “likes” and 46,128 clicks. It has since used similar campaigns to promote store openings in United Arab Emirates, Taiwan, and Korea.

The Way I See It

  • I see a revival of bespoke clothing and shoes. From Stuart Weitzman’s SWxYOU initiative, to suit and shirt makers like Indochine and Blank Label, brands are catering to customers by offering unique and individualized merchandise they can make their own via online templates.
  • I see social media remaining a key aspect of a brand’s marketing and advertising. Brands will continue to push out content via social media platforms – such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest – as a mode of connecting with their customer base. After all, many of us rely on social media to obtain the latest trends, news, etc., and brands have taken notice.
  • I see store opening events as not something of the past, but as a key player for brands. For all the handwringing about the demise of brick-and-mortar retailing, store openings can still be major events for brands that know how to play them right.  As Stuart Weitzman has demonstrated, smart social media promotion can drive foot traffic as well as virtual clicks.

The Way the Industry Sees It

I sat down with Wayne Kulkin, Chief Executive Officer at Stuart Weitzman, to discuss social media and world retail domination.

What was the inspiration behind SWxYOU, and what have sales been like through that program?

Our business model has always been inspired by creating styles that can be customized by the various merchants around the globe. We gave the merchants the ability to choose from hundreds of thousands of variables in an array of materials, heel shapes, heel heights, sizes and widths as well as their choice of ornaments and finishes. We even give customers the opportunity to change the type of sole from leather to a variety of comfort materials like latex. So we thought in this world of bespoke ecommerce that we would give individual customers the same opportunity as a retail merchant – allowing her to have a wide range of colors, ornaments, studding, and heels.

You partnered with SocialFlow – social media optimization platform – and use their Crescendo platform for your social media marketing. What did Social Flow bring to the table that made it a good partner, and what does Crescendo allow you to do that other platforms don’t?

SocialFlow and Crescendo are the firepower that helps us to cut through the clutter and ensures that people that are interested in the brand are seeing the content we work so hard to create.  We partner with SocialFlow to promote our posts as well as utilize day to day publishing through Crescendo. SocialFlow and the Crescendo tool use data and an algorithm that allows us to post content at the optimum time, to the most relative and engaged audience. Our publishing decisions are determined by looking at audience availability, topical appetite, topical saturation, and a risk assessment that includes audience and topical variability. Crescendo also provides an ad buying platform enabling clients to run ad campaigns on Facebook and Twitter. The product uses keyword targeting, refined by demographic targeting, to segment and target existing, potential and competitor audiences based on real-time conversational data. Through SocialFlow on Facebook we average thirty-five to forty percent higher engagement than when natively posting. Our results on the paid media side tend to be even stronger, with click through rates (CTR) as high as ten percent. Industry standard tends to be around one to two percent. Through SocialFlow on Twitter, we have an average engagement rate of approximately three hundred percent above retail averages and an average cost per engagement eighty-seven percent below retail averages.

Continue Reading Stuart Weitzman Turns Its Shoe Obsession into Success

Marketers promote, entertain, celebrate, and explain. In other words, they talk. But Dave Kerpen, cofounder and chairman of Likeable Media and founder and CEO of its sibling company, Likeable Local, believes that a different skill is needed in a media landscape increasingly driven by social media – listening.  And by listening, Kerpen means more than just using social media channels to respond to consumer questions and complaints.  He sees listening via social media as a means to tell stories and engender authentic conversations with and among consumers and to promote conversations that strengthen and reward brand loyalty.

In a lot of ways, it’s the next step in the evolution of branding. Branding started with the idea that companies and products had actual identities and that consumers would affiliate with brands that enhanced or fit well with their own identities.  And – without invoking John Roberts and suggesting corporations are people – the next step seems to be making brands part of the consumer’s social circle, or at the very least, using the social circle to validate the brand.

Kerpen first made a splash in all media – not just social – when he and his then soon-to-be wife raised over $100,000 selling sponsorship rights to their wedding, which was hosted at the Brooklyn Cyclones ballpark. They then leveraged their notoriety to launch Likeable Media, a social media and word-of-mouth marketing company that is one of the fastest-growing privately held businesses in the United States.  Kerpen also authored two New York Times Best Sellers: Likeable Social Media and Likeable Business, and was also named the #1 LinkedIn Influencer of All Time last summer when his article, “11 Simple Concepts for Becoming a Better Leader” garnered 1.8 million views and 21,000 likes. The first concept on his list – listening.

The Way I See It

  • As much as things still keep changing – and will likely continue to keep changing – I see a growing maturation in the use of social media. Whether marketers are arriving at it through Dave Kerpen’s advice or their own observation, more and more brands are realizing the central nature of listening and storytelling to the way social media works.
  • I see consumers heavily relying on participation as a means of measuring trust. They want brands they can engage with and relate to. And they want that engagement validated by their own social networks.

The Way the Industry Sees It

I sat down with Dave Kerpen, cofounder and chairman of Likeable Media and founder and CEO of Likeable Local, to discuss listening, social media, and his most recent book, Likeable Leadership.

Two of the strongest themes in your writing and speaking are listening and storytelling. How are those two skills related?

I always say, “Listen first and never stop listening.” Listening is the single most important communication skill, and sometimes it’s harder than you think. Often when we think we’re listening, we’re just waiting to talk. Try shutting up and really listening to everyone: your customers, your fans, your employees, your husband or wife, your children, etc. You might be surprised at the valuable insight and stories you’ll hear when you do. The next step, of course, is to share those stories. No one remembers facts or statistics, but everyone remembers a great story. Practicing listening and storytelling will make you a better communicator and, ultimately, more likeable, and more successful.

What did you learn as you were “listening” to the stories you collected for the new book? Did anything surprise you?

I am constantly surprised by how much I learn when I just shut up and listen. People’s lives and stories are so fascinating to me, and there are always lessons to be learned. Last year, I wrote an article about my interaction with an older man on a flight to Boston. I chatted with him, asked him a few of questions, and listened … a lot. I had met Frank Lautenberg, the late United States Senator, who taught me, in just forty-five minutes, one of the most important lessons of my life: Career Highlights Won’t be on Your Tombstone. With a few questions and a lot of listening, you can literally change your life.

Continue Reading Likeable Applies the Lessons of Social Media to Branding