Author Archive

Shmear perfection: An Einstein Bros. Bagels case study

Sometimes it takes a lot more than simply becoming a fan on Facebook to truly realize a company’s motive.

What American bakery chain comes to mind when you hear the word “bagel?” It’s no surprise if you thought of Einstein Bros. Bagels. Now what comes to mind when you hear the word “promotion?” Moving up in the workplace? Sure, but not where I was going. Think. Think harder. Free stuff? Just the answer I was looking for! Perfect.

What sort of perks do consumers look for when they visit a company’s social networking site? A personal connection with the brand? Maybe. It’s hard to measure product satisfaction when you simply click the “Like” button at the top of a Facebook page. A connection with other fans or consumers of the brand? Again, maybe. Although you may not know these people, it can be somewhat satisfying to know that there are others out there who possess similar tastes and interests. That’s the whole point of social networking — to engage with an online audience to discuss topics within particular areas of interest — Right? Underneath it all, however, there’s always that theme of the most frequently asked subconscious question:

“What’s in it for me?”

This is where we come back to the free stuff. Goodies for everyone who becomes a fan of Einstein on Facebook!

Einstein Bros. launched its Facebook page in 2009. It took a few months for the renowned bagel company to reach just under 5,000 fans. At this time, the page was nothing special. Updates were mundane and there was not a whole lot of conversation taking place on the wall. The Chief Concept Officer (CCO) James O’Reilly figured that in order to build the brand’s following, the company must take better advantage of social media. O’Reilly wanted to grow the company’s Facebook presence. Creative Alliance, Einstein’s digital marketing agency, suggested that the company utilize the page to increase its consumer connections on Facebook, a popular platform with the company’s target audience.

We came up with the idea of a direct offer to consumers that would push them into the store, while at the same time attempting to build a community of fans to solicit feedback about the brand and gather their opinions.


The folks at Einstein came up with the idea of offering printable coupons for a free bagel and cream cheese “shmear” for existing and new Facebook fans. At the beginning, the employees working on this project were anxious and perhaps somewhat skeptic. When they launched the promo campaign on January 25, 2010, Einstein saw huge numbers that proved the promotion to be successful. The company was able to multiply its online fan base by 120 times its starting amount.  Following the campaign, participating Einstein bakeries had their best week in sales of the entire year 2010.

I am proud to say that I partook in this campaign. I noticed on my sidebar that tons of my friends all of a sudden became fans of Einstein Bros. on Facebook, so I decided to see what all the hype was about. “Einsten Bros.?” I thought, “I occasionally go there with my parents, but I didn’t think it was that good! Something spectacular must be going on over there.” I went to the page an the first thing I saw was the word “F-R-E-E.” Instinctively, I clicked the “Like” button, printed my coupon, and headed over to Einstein that week. There was a long line that almost went out the door. I’ll have to admit that it was totally worth the wait.

Key results of Einstein’s coupon promotional campaign only enhance the support of this process:

  • Before the campaign began in January 2010, Einstein Bros. only had 5,000 fans of its page on Facebook. At the end of the week during which the campaign was launched, there was a 1,000% increase in its number of fans. The company now had over 50,000 fans who enjoyed a free bagel.
  • One day later, the number of fans was multiplied by 6, increasing to 300,000 in 24 hours.
  • As months came along, Einstein continued to make offered to its Facebook fans. They used geo-targeting to reach out to those who were eligible for offers in specific stores. The fan base eventually grew to a whopping 600,000. Einstein Bros. currently serves nearly 630,000 Facebook users.

This goes to show that customer satisfaction can be challenging, but if strategies are planned out correctly and if companies utilize their resources efficiently (e.g., social media), great things can happen for a brand. Einstein Bros. Bagels marketed their efforts towards a very successful advertising campaign that boomed sales and put smiles on hundreds of thousands of hungry people’s faces.

Now that’s what I call “Darn good” marketing!


Branding: Leave your mark the right way.

brand (n.) — a kind or variety of something distinguished by some distinctive characteristic


Behold the power of brand distinction. Can you name these brands based on a single letter?

Social media is becoming an integral part of life for individuals and institutions. It is usually seen as an organized river of information that allows Web users to communicate with each other. It also facilitates companies’ missions to engage with their stakeholders. Social media platforms can be seen as the fronts on which Internet users gather, cooperate, share ideas, provide feedback and advice, and simply converse with one another. Whether it be communicating with friends and family, businesses, or other communities, social media opens so many doors for literally anyone and everyone around the world.

Pam Moore is a renowned brand strategist/self-proclaimed “marketing nut” who gives amazing tips on how to make your brand stand out from the crowd. Millions of people are online. How will you differentiate yourself from everyone else? How are you going to improve your online presence?


Why bother trying so hard to fit in when you were born to stand out?

On Pam’s blog, she recently wrote an article entitled “Social Media: 22 Tips to Differentiate Your Brand Presence.” She states that companies and people are getting so caught up in all of these new and innovative social networking sites that they are forgetting the basic marketing principles:

We talk about plans, objectives, content and blogs.  We talk little about unique value, market segmentation, product differentiation, and standing out from the crowd.  These words are exchanged for crowd sourcing, sharing and giving. Given this you can see why many newbies get confused.

She provides very useful tips that I believe all people and businesses should take into account to create a stronger, more powerful, more distinct brand for themselves. She covers a great number of topics that one should (but may not) consider from the get-go, such as the effect of color choice, logo design, the time it takes for a brand to become distinguished. She also stresses the fact that you are your own brand, and it is crucial to effectively market yourself. Individuals have their own image, personality, preferences, aspirations, missions, and attributes, just like companies do. The most important pieces of advice she provided are geared towards the folks to just need that extra push to get back into the swing of things or are lost in cyberspace. Sure, the Internet was created to make our lives easier, but there are so many instances in which we get too absorbed in its sea of opportunities and possibilities.

How well are we seen behind a screen?

My generation is involved.

My generation is active.

We’re guilty for being so operative…

…And enjoying every part of it.

Has our obsession with shiny new toys and tools and gadgets and platforms dawned upon us as beneficial?  In my humble opinion, electronic media has certainly altered the way the world can see the rest of the world.  Personally, I always find myself staring at some sort of screen, whether it is my iPod, laptop computer, TV (which is rare, unless Glee is on), or BlackBerry… Most of us can admit to being addicted to these exciting technologies that are readily available to literally everyone.

Just how obsessed are we? By the numbers.

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night, Smartphone by your pillow side, and checked your tweets or Facebook notifications? Guilty? Weirded out? You’re not alone… Nearly half of us do the same thing.

Do you peek at your news feed or Twitter stream during meetings, class, sex, meals, or potty time? What’s that…? Yes? A whopping 62% of us do. Whatcha lookin’ at?!

Does this surprise anyone?

How accurately do others “see” us when we are online?  Do we talk online the same way we talk to people in person? Are our lives being more positively or negatively affected by this entire media?  It certainly isn’t an effective way to prevent carpel tunnel, loss of hearing, strained eyes, or obesity.  My information technology instructor last semester always joked to our class about how social media is simply “reverse stalking.” Nowadays, instead of people having to find out where we are themselves, we tell them.  Tools and tactics such as geo-tagging, tweeting, location-based outlets, and other platforms let other users no where we are and what we are doing. Word to the wise: Most people don’t care what color socks you’re wearing. Make your tweets memorable and allow people to engage in conversation based on what you tell everybody.

On a completely different note, I recently learned about William Wordsworth in my British literature class. “The World is Too Much with Us” was my favorite poems by him.  Being the Romantic he was, he emphasized imagination, the beauty of nature, and how people (even way back in the day) did not spend enough time enjoying the Creator’s gifts to Earth:

The world is too much with us; late and soon,

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers

Little we see in Nature that is ours

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

The Sea that bares her bosom to the moon

The winds that will be howling at all hours,

And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers

For this, for everything, we are out of tune

It moves us not.–Great God! I’d rather be

A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn

So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,

Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn

Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea

Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

In “The world is too much with us,” Wordsworth seems disappointed with Earth’s populace for not being connected to nature.  Not only are people disrespectful of Earth’s beauty, but also unappreciative and oblivious.  The sea, moon, and winds are personified, which can symbolize the expected unity and relationship between humans and Earth.  Wordsworth is trying to make it a point that we all share this planet and should treat it like one of us humans, i.e. care for it, be loyal to it, respect it, etc.

I did some research on the meaning of the sonnet… Wordsworth is criticizing the materialism of the early 1800s.  People are “getting and spending” – Whatever they earn, they spend it on themselves and have little concern for the wellbeing of others or nature itself.  The line “We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!” makes me think that Wordsworth was trying to inform people that they have surrendered to the money-oriented and acquisitive social norms of the time.  It humored me that nowadays, humanity is still extremely materialistic, even more so than the period in which this poem was written.  Technologies have come about that have made us a lot more dependent on machines and electronics, and the Industrial Age is what really sparked the change in society’s reliance on these.  In today’s Information Age, people are constantly behind some sort of screen, whether it is a television, cell phone, computer, or any other electronic device.  Wordsworth would not enjoy being surrounded by what he would consider a modern monstrosity.

Wordsworth’s disgust, sorrow and frustration are shown by his obvious lamentation over society’s need for luxury and selfish fulfillment.  He is trying to make a point that people are letting the earth-shifting movement take away from the marvel of nature, possibly to the point at which people fail to notice its beauty.

Do I love social media? Absolutely. Am I willing to admit that I am becoming absorbed in the evolving media world among us? Indeed, I am. We still need to pay attention to our natural habitat and take advantage of what beauty surrounds us.

Now I feel like taking a walk out in this winter wonderland. Too bad Glee is on in one hour…

A grande idea that’s anything but vanilla, unless that’s what you want

Starbucks is a master at creating buzz… in more ways than one. has thousands talking and the people at Starbucks taking action.

I am typically very impressed when companies have revelations to become more customer-centric, especially when their ideas work.  Being one of the most popular brands of coffee in the world, Starbucks stands out from the crowd when it comes to listening to and responding to its customers.  In early 2008, Starbucks launched, a community Web site that allows customers to post feedback and provide suggestions on the Starbucks products, experience, and involvement.

MyStarbucksIdea allows customers to write about what they like or dislike about the Starbucks brand across a wide array of categories.  Site visitors can post anything and everything they want about changes – innovative or straightforward – and others can vote on the ideas in order for them to hopefully take effect.  The people behind the scenes at Starbucks promise to do all they can to transform the brand into an experience like no other.  Why should you pay the extra buck – or two, three, or four… – for a cup of Starbucks rather than ordering a cup o’ joe from the competitor?  Starbucks is taking notes on what we coffee drinkers want from new flavors to new technology to opening shop in our hometowns to playing better music to going green to serving alcohol (a process in the making).

The goal of MyStarbucksIdea is to connect with customers, giving them the chance to make a difference in the organization’s everyday processes.  By sharing ideas, discussing ideas, and then voting on them, Starbucks customers have seen MSI as a groundbreaking (no pun intended) facet of their favorite coffee company. The site is a frequently used media outlet where customers gather and feel a personal connection with others.  Starbucks tells Forrester Research, “Traffic to the site has been immense right from the beginning. But the participation rates have been what are truly exciting.  We’ve had nearly 75,000 ideas submitted in less than six months, with many ideas receiving thousands of votes and hundreds of comments.”

Now more than ever, customers are given the opportunity to make a difference.  Starbucks has effectively used social media to engage in conversation with its loyals and advocates.  Daring strategies like the one Starbucks has taken have been proven to be successful.  When you enter a Starbucks with a client, co-worker, friend, or date, what do you do? You talk. You take sips of your skinny cinnamon dolce latte with extra foam and cinnamon dust while the person sitting across from you chats about their latest music findings or research courses.  Sip slowly, soak in your surroundings, spread happiness.  Share your Starbucks idea today.  They’ll notice you.

“The Roast”
I think Starbucks is moving in the right direction with the MSI campaign.  Although some of the feedback on the Web site is negative, Starbucks is quick to respond to upset customers.  The company continuously improves upon its business decisions and carries out its mission to be the best.  MyStarbucksIdea is a great tool for the staff and customers to interact with fellow java junkies.  It also motivates consumers to speak their minds, giving them a boost of satisfaction when others agree with their fresh ideas.  Starbucks appears in a number of social networking outlets, all of which are valuable to their customer online base.  It is difficult to point out a tactic upon which they can improve.  MyStarbucksIdea even has its own Twitter account on which it posts the most popular submitted ideas.  Easy registration and site navigation make the experience even more fulfilling.  If MSI continues to be successful, Starbucks will experience a sweet-smelling and flavorful future.

Drink up!

Locks of love

If there’s one part of me I wish would never change, it would be my hair. I dread the day I discover my first gray.

I take pride in my hair. I twirl it, comb my fingers through it, smell it, braid it, and brush it constantly. I hate putting it back in a ponytail (like it is now) all day because I can’t get the full effect of this mass of tresses. My hair is exactly 19″ in length. It grows like grass in the summertime. Every time I see my mom, she asks me if I’ve been eating fertilizer. Nope, I just eat a Flintstone vitamin once a day. Oh, and I do the Herbal.

According to the salon I used to go to when I was all into the highlighting and dyeing kick, my hair is a mixture of espresso and auburn. I’m so over coloring my hair. I have made a vow to myself that I won’t dye it until that aforementioned dreaded day. I used to hate my hair (I secretly wanted to be blonde). Sometimes I still do hate it because there is an awkward kink in it from elastic ties and it never falls the same way. However, I have grown to embrace it. Its rich color and unattainable length are what I love most about it. My hair says a lot about me, and I can’t go anywhere without my friends commenting on its length. Yes, I’m well aware my hair is freaking long. No, I don’t have split ends… not anything noticeable at least.

Back in high school, my hair was even longer than it is now. When I cheered, my ponytail would sweep the floor as I flipped and flipped and flipped across the basketball court. When I would be sitting in class and a hair would land on my desk, I would be so enthralled by the strand and become distracted. One day, my AP English teacher caught me playing with a string of hair and called me “Cearapunzel.” The name stuck. And I didn’t mind it one bit.

I always hear girls complain about their hair: split ends, bleach gone wrong, bad perm, frizz, dullness, lifelessness, weird part, awkward hairline, dark roots, or crappy pampering products. Have no fear, chicas! There are lots of miracle products out there that can save your mane. Quick Tip: I usually venture to Sephora or Sally Beauty Supply for my favorite products, but drugstores and wholesalers carry a lot of awesome stuff, too.

And now… Hair products Ceara swears by:

Herbal Essences None of Your Frizziness Leave-In Conditioner
Smells fresh, never sticky or greasy, a quarter size dollop (even for my length of hair) goes a long way. I use this every single day. I’m thinking about stocking up on this magic potion in case they discontinue it, which I hope never happens!
Redken Satinwear 02 Ultimate Blow-Dry Lotion
My recently discovered savior. My mom would freak out when I would blow dry my hair with no protective lotion… I learned quickly that it makes a world of a difference when I actually use something to protect the follicle. Leaves my hair schilky-schmooth all day long.
TRESemme Fresh Start Dry Shampoo
Sometimes when I’m in a time crunch and don’t have time to wash my hair, I lather this wonder foam throughout my hair and PRESTO! Insta-soft-hair-sans-H2O.

I’m always willing to try new products, but I do some research before and ALWAYS read the back of the bottle.

Ladies (and gents), you’re not going to have your hair forever. Grow it long and be proud of it! Actually guys, for Pete’s sake, shags are so 2000-and-late.

“The hair is the richest ornament of women.” – Martin Luther