In this series, we’re going to explore marketing and advertising campaigns that changed America and put certain products and ideas into our homes and heads. Some will surprise you, some will make you go “OHHHH,” but one thing is guaranteed – you probably didn’t know that they all started with a marketing strategy. This month we explore how diamond engagement rings became a staple of marriage proposals.


You’ve been dating your partner for years. You’ve been through the ups and downs, thick and thin, and they’ve been your rock through all of life’s adventures. They take you out for a fancy dinner one night. You think nothing of it, it’s where you two had your first date and you still go back every now and again. After your meal, your partner starts to talk to you about how much they love you. Where are you going with this? You think to yourself as they speak. Wait… and before you know it they’re down on one knee, opening a box, and presenting you with…a necklace?

Not what you were expecting, huh? The idea of a marriage proposal is almost synonymous with a diamond engagement ring. Even for those of us who are less traditional (like yours truly), we can’t deny that this parallel has been ingrained into our brains. But how did we come to equate a shiny object with eternal love? Well, you may be surprised to learn (or maybe not since that’s the point behind this entire series) that this association came from an extremely clever marketing campaign.

Flying Cork Marketing Engagement Rings 2

Heigh-Ho, De Beers Diamonds

The plan (or should we say scheme) to make diamonds a major cultural staple began back in 1870 when enormous diamond mines were discovered near the Orange River in South Africa. Prior to this point, diamonds were considered rare but suddenly they were being scooped out by the ton. Now that there were plenty to go around, investors in the diamond industry needed to think fast before the market became oversaturated and diamonds became, essentially, worthless. They consolidated into a single entity called De Beers and (much like the eyewear industry- yes we’re looking at you guys, too) monopolized the diamond trade. Since diamonds were all being controlled by one unified company, they could control the prices and make sure they didn’t go down due to market competition.

N.W. Ayer

Controlling the market was only half of their plan. In order to make diamonds valuable, De Beers also had to control public demand. To achieve this, they began a partnership with N.W. Ayer, a leading advertising agency in the United States. Since diamond prices had collapsed in Europe during the Depression, the U.S. seemed to be the best place to begin their marketing plans. Together they came up with a new type of marketing strategy. Rather than focus on promoting a specific brand or name to the public, they decided the best strategy was to attempt to alter the perception of diamonds themselves. Their goal was to encourage consumers to see diamonds as an integral part of the courting process.

Flying Cork Marketing Engagement Rings 3

‘A Diamond Is Forever’

In the 1930s, Ayer began to put their plans into action. One facet of their plan was to utilize the relatively new medium of motion pictures and movie stars. Similarly to the business to influencer relationships we see a lot in modern-day marketing, Ayer began to give diamonds to movie stars. These celebrities would be photographed with the diamonds, and Ayer would feed newspapers and magazines stories about these celebrities and their diamonds- emphasizing them as symbols of indestructible love. They made sure diamonds ended up in the hands of well-recognized women, even including the Queen of England. They would stress the size of the diamond and had a series of advertisements which included paintings from well-known artists in order to relate diamonds as a unique work of art.

By 1947, the advertising agency had constructed an even more direct approach by arranging a series of lectures to high schools around the country. According to an article from The Atlantic, the agency is quoted as saying, “We are dealing with a problem in mass psychology. We seek to … strengthen the tradition of the diamond engagement ring — to make it a psychological necessity capable of competing successfully at the retail level with utility goods and services… All of these lectures revolve around the diamond engagement ring, and are reaching thousands of girls in their assemblies, classes and informal meetings in our leading educational institutions.”

Over the course of these marketing efforts, De Beers coined the slogan ‘A Diamond is Forever’ which works on multiple levels. On the surface, it goes along with their plan of wanting diamonds to be associated with eternal love. Even though diamonds can be shattered, discolored, clipped, or incinerated- this slogan makes the consumer feel like they have a magical eternal quality.

In addition, it works to further allow the prices to remain high. Because diamonds are actually quite common with no rare qualities, De Beers didn’t want people attempting to resell their rings. The illusion they’ve created quickly shatters when you realize how little diamonds are worth in resale value. By making them feel like they’re as eternal or ‘forever’ as the love we have for our spouses, they’ve assured that people won’t be trying to pawn off their engagement rings when they hit a string of financial hardship.

Flying Cork Marketing Engagement Rings 1

Across Seas and Time

Once they had us Americans buying their rings, it wasn’t very difficult to put these ideas into the culture of other countries as well. They simply used us as an example and marketed the diamond engagement ring as a symbol of ‘Modern Western Values’ and boom- everyone bought it (literally).

And that takes us to today, where purchasing a diamond for your betrothed was practically ingrained into our brains since birth. So if you’re ever wondering why you’re all but required to spend an average of $4,000 to ask your significant other to marry you- you have a marketing campaign to thank.

In this series, we’re going to explore marketing and advertising campaigns that changed America and put certain products and ideas into our homes and heads. Some will surprise you, some will make you go “OHHHH,” but one thing is guaranteed – you probably didn’t know that they all started with a marketing strategy. This month we explore how the Hollywood Sign went from advertisement to landmark.


America’s famous landmarks may not be as architecturally stunning as the Taj Mahal or full of rich and ancient history like Stonehenge, but we play the game with the cards we are given. And one of those cards is the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles, California. 

What started off as an expertly placed advertisement has grown into a spot on every tourist clad in socks with sandals, fanny packs, and visors’ must-see attractions list. 

Marketing That Changed Us: The Hollywood Sign Blog History

“What? The Hollywood sign started off as… a glorified billboard?” 

Yes, it did. And its journey from advertisement to one of the nation’s most recognizable landmarks was a long and kind of sad one. 

In 1923, the then “Hollywoodland” sign was erected after being built by the Los Angeles Times publisher Harry Chandler. Chandler built the sign to bring attention to his new, upscale real estate development with the same name. 

The brightly lit sign was originally only supposed to last a year and a half in Hollywood, but the state of international affairs had other ideas. World War II sent Hollywood from producing extravagant pictures for the big screen to transporting supplies and housing returned soldiers. Alas, the Hollywoodland Real Estate Development had gone belly-up as a result of the Great Depression a few years prior. 

While the billboard, which had been unmaintained for a few years but was still standing after being abandoned by its original purpose, became city property in 1944, it had to wait a little longer to get the proper monument makeover. And for that, we can thank the silver screen.

Television v.s. The Big Screen: Hollywood’s Makeover

We don’t think much about televisions. Most of us weren’t alive when they first became a staple of the American home – unless you’re my grandma, who isn’t reading this because she doesn’t have a computer. But their effect on Hollywood changed the face of the star-studded valley forever. 

As televisions became more common, Hollywood had a transition to go through. Studio lots that had been abandoned by filmmakers were quickly snatched up by TV companies, and by the 1950s more television shows were being filmed than movies in Hollywood. In order to match this transitory stage, the Hollywoodland sign, as it was still known, needed a makeover. 

In 1949, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce removed the “-land” and fixed the H, which had crumpled either as a sign of the deterioration of an old billboard or as a grand metaphor for the state of Hollywood (you decide), and was presented to the world as the iconic sign that we know it as today. 

But, like the inevitable twist in an M. Night Shyamalan movie, that wasn’t the happy ending for the sign. Through the years, the weather gave some wear-and-tear to the newly anointed monument, and by the 1960s it was, once again, in a state of rust and decay. 

Is there no hope for the Hollywood sign? Was it destined to live a life of being restored only to be destroyed again and again and again? It sure started to feel that way. Especially after some “clever” pranksters altered the O’s in 1973 to spell out H-O-L-L-Y-W-E-E-D. 

Time to party like it’s 1978

In the late 70s, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce decided it was best to just rebuild the entire sign than it was to attempt to save the now rotting mass of letters. And like most things in Southern California, it was not going to be cheap. With a price tag of $250,000 (which, adjusted for inflation, comes out to about $1.05 million in today’s standards) the hunt was on for how to acquire the funds. 

Rock band Fleetwood Mac offered to hold a charity concert in 1977, but locals turned it down. So, Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy Magazine, decided the next year to hold a gala fundraiser at the Playboy Mansion. Letters of the sign were auctioned off at $27,700 a letter, with stars like Alice Cooper purchasing the “O” and Andy Williams “W,”  the sign rebuild was funded. 

Where are they now? 

Marketing that changed us the hollywood sign history blog

So, what’s up with the sign nowadays? It got a few paint jobs here and there in the 90s, got itself on the list of iconic monuments around the world, and, in 2000, was outfitted with a state-of-the-art security system that’s running 24/7 and can even be viewed on the internet here

The Hollywood sign seemed to reflect Hollywood’s current state, matching its highs and lows. Which is why it’s revitalization is said to have been the marking of the current growth period Hollywood is experiencing today. 

And to think, all of that for a sign that was originally used to advertise a housing development that went under over 50 years ago. Not bad for a glorified billboard.

In this series, we’re going to explore marketing and advertising campaigns that changed America and put products into our homes and heads. Some will surprise you, some will make you go “OHHHH,” but one thing is guaranteed – you probably didn’t know that they all started with a marketing strategy. This week is Edward Bernays and the All-American breakfast.


Close your eyes. Wait, actually, don’t close them. You can’t read this if your eyes are closed.

Let me start over.

Look into the distance and think about what a typical American breakfast looks like to you. Not necessarily what you personally eat, but how you would describe breakfast in the U.S. to a foreigner who wants to learn more about our culture.

Whatever you picture, there’s a good chance that eggs and bacon are involved, right? But why?

Edward Bernays, the proclaimed “Father of Public Relations,” and a brilliant marketing campaign is why.

Nephew of the “Father of Psychology” (a lot of father’s in that family), Sigmund Freud, Bernays was an Austrian-American pioneer in Public Relations and propaganda. Many of his marketing campaigns changed entire chunks of American culture and the way we think of brands and branding – including breakfast.

Before the Industrial Era, Americans ate big “farmer-style” breakfasts, including bacon and eggs – two food items that were common on farms and could easily be accessed.

However, after the Industrial Era, during the Progressive Era, more people moved from farmlands to big cities and breakfast became lighter, healthier, and quicker to make. This prompted the rise of cereal thanks, in part, to religious leaders like John Harvey Kellogg.

And before you ask, yes that Kellogg.

Religious folks believed that eating bland, vegetarian diets may help prevent sinful thoughts and successfully tied in religion, the importance of healthy eating, and hard work.

On top of that, Americans feared indigestion and it was believed that eating a bigger, heavier breakfast would cause an unruly stomach and eventually lead to a slow work ethic.

It was a combination of these key events that lead to the downfall of the original heavy breakfast – people were working inside all day, they needed breakfast to be fast and easy to make, and healthier eating was correlated with being of religious morality and good workmanship.

Which basically means less bacon and more fruit.

Then came along Bernays – you remember him, right? Nephew of Sigmund Freud, father of PR? The point of this Marketing That Changed Us blog? Bernays was hired by Beech-Nut (famously known for being a baby food company, but in this case, they were selling and packing pork) to bring America back to its big-bacon-n-eggs-country breakfast roots.

But how did he do it?

Edward Bernays Father of PR Flying Cork Marketing

Edward Bernays, “Father of PR”

Bernays knew that the America public was becoming more health-conscious and which group of people does everyone trust as the authority on health? Doctors.

Bernays took to his agency’s internal doctor and asked him if it would actually benefit Americans to go back to their heavy breakfast routines. The doctor, suspected to have confirmed this due to his position within the company, said yes.

Bernays then got the doctor to write to around 5,000 of his peers to confirm that a heavier breakfast was actually better for you, produced a “study” from the other doctor’s confirmations, and had it published in major newspapers all throughout the country.

And just like that, the face of the traditional American breakfast was re-formed – all thanks to a sly PR rep who just so happened to be the nephew of the inventor of modern psychotherapy.

While marketing campaigns don’t always have to have major cultural effects on our society, there is something you should take away from this: With the right branding, even something that seems completely impossible at the time, can be made to work because people are fluid, easily swayed, and always looking for the next big thing.

If you’ve landed on this blog post, you want to know the difference between digital marketing and traditional marketing.

And I am here to tell you that the difference between both forms of marketing is that one is digital and the other is traditional.

Hopefully that answered your question! Thanks for stopping by!

I am totally joking.  However, in every joke there’s some truth and in this case, the truth of the matter is that the format of each of these styles of marketing is what sets them apart.

But before we get to the meat of this blog post, let’s lay the ground work.

Digital Marketing vs. Traditional Marketing: What’s the Difference?

Digital marketing, as defined by Hubspot, is “…all marketing efforts that use an electronic device or the internet. Businesses leverage digital channels such as search engines, social media, email, and their websites to connect with current and prospective customers.”

Traditional marketing is commonly associated with print advertisements, television and radio commercials, direct mailers and billboards.

Digital marketing is…digital and traditional marketing is more, well, traditional in that the methods are “tried-and true.”

Let me pause for a moment…

This is when I come in stage right and put a plug in that Flying Cork is a digital marketing agency and we offer digital marketing services that include digital strategy, digital marketing, digital advertising, and design and development.

Now we’re back to our regularly-scheduled programming…

No matter how big or small your business may be, there always seems to be that inevitable tug-of-war between people who reside in two overarching camps.

The camps to which I am talking about are the people who favor digital marketing and the other people who believe in the power of traditional marketing. Of course, there are some people who have their hands in both pots.

Regardless of which side of the spectrum you’re on, it’s important to know that you’re not wrong. And in order to provide you with the most value that I can in one blog post, I put together a high-level  pros and cons list of digital marketing and traditional marketing.

Pros of digital marketing

  • An obvious pro of digital marketing is that the vast majority of consumer attention is focused on the internet, namely social media. When you let the market be your guide, you’ll realize that there’s untapped potential when it comes to Facebook advertising and organic content creation to build and strengthen brand awareness with your target audience.
  • So, you have the attention.  Now it’s time to measure your results. Digital marketing offers a plethora of data that can be mined and leveraged to help tweak and deliver a refined marketing strategy.
  • Digital marketing is fast. And by fast, I mean that it can be done with the simple tap of a button. All that it takes is a status update, a helpful blog post, or a quick-witted comment to stay in front of your target audience and build brand awareness.

Cons of digital marketing

  • Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. While some people believe in that quote, for digital marketers, the copy, tweak, and paste effect can pose problems for our campaign efforts. What do I mean by all of this? Digital marketing campaigns can be easy to imitate (copy) by your competitors which can then be manipulated (tweak) to fit their narrative and posted to their social channels (paste). That being said, make sure to keep tabs on your competitors and be in tune with conversations that are swirling around your brand and your industry.
  • Just as the internet offers unbelievable amounts of opportunity, it also invites a lot of noise and chatter that can make it harder to reach your target audience. However, it’s a problem that’s faced by all marketers and it’s one that’s solved by creative and empathetic marketing. When you take the time to truly understand your customers’ pain points, questions, and topics of interest, you’ll in turn create content that’s relevant and will resonate with them.

Pros of traditional marketing

  • Traditional marketing as a whole isn’t extinct. However, the way that we approach this form of marketing has shifted in some respects. For example, at one point in time, traditional marketing was the only way to do marketing, and now it has become supplemental to our digital efforts and vice versa. While online marketing can help increase your brand’s exposure if done correctly, digital and traditional can build off one another. Why? Because it’s important to remember that your audience doesn’t consume content the same way. Some people turn to the internet to discover products and services while others rely on the mail, TV/radio, etc. to get their information. To cast a wider net, you can supplement your traditional methods like billboards and mailers with digital advertising by serving the same information based on location of the traditional advertisement. This helps build brand awareness and encourages brand recognition.
  • If you’re a local company trying to reach your local market, then radio advertisements could be a good use of your marketing budget. However, just like with any advertisement, you need to consider a few different aspects like who makes up your target audience, what channel best aligns with who you’re trying to target, and what message are you trying to articulate? Depending on what you’re trying to achieve, radio can be a good way to tap into and reach your local target market.

Cons of traditional marketing

  • Traditional marketing is more or less a monologue in that there’s little to no interaction between the brand and audience. Traditionally speaking (pun somewhat intended), traditional marketing is focused on selling the consumer on a product/service. In some cases, this type of marketing can feel intrusive and forced which can lead to consumers simply tuning out your content.
  • Traditional marketing can be very expensive. From billboards to purchasing TV and radio spots, the fees associated with traditional marketing can stack up fairly quickly and eat up most of your marketing budget.
  • In the world of marketing and business in general, every single dollar counts! Think of it this way: when you’re in a car if your eyes aren’t on the road, they’re unfortunately more than likely on your phone. This means that your attention isn’t focused on the billboards on the side of the road. Translation, you could be spending a decent amount of money on a billboard that not many people will see. Likewise, the introduction of DVR and online streaming has affected how we consume television shows. How so? We don’t want to be bothered by commercials anymore. Time is the most valuable commodity and commercials inherently take away from what we’re trying to do – watch a TV show. Think about how you consume TV for a second. When you’re watching a show and it goes to a commercial break, what do you normally do? More times than not, you’ll grab your phone, take a bathroom break or get a snack in just the right amount of time to be situated when the show comes back on. Again, depending on your target audience, these two examples can be seen as wasted marketing dollars that could have been allocated to another resource within your marketing budget.

Though we’re a digital marketing agency, we understand that elements of digital marketing and traditional marketing can be leveraged to create a holistic marketing strategy.

Which type of marketing do you prefer?

Another year is quickly coming to a close and as we prepare for 2018, I wanted to take the time to dive a little deeper into the future of pay-per-click (PPC).

Let’s get started.

Search Advertising

The paid search market is highly competitive; nothing less than perfection is the general expectation. Because of this, Flying Cork focuses on more creative, impactful and effective digital advertising campaigns. Search advertising is one of the most effective ways to generate more exposure and business for your brand.  Whether your focus is B2B or B2C marketing, search ads are a must in any digital marketing campaign strategy.

We understand the stakes are high, so we take advantage of each component of search advertising by increasing our reach and conversions at a cost-per-acquisition that makes sense for your KPIs. Along the way, we identify a scalable process so the PPC formula can grow as your brand magnifies its reach online.

Display Advertising

Display advertising, also known as retargeting, requires more than just bid management from a marketing team. This strategy, if executed correctly, can be an extremely effective approach to increasing brand awareness and conversions.

Flying Cork focuses not only the PPC managers for this approach but also our designers. When executing a retargeting advertising strategy, it’s essential that user-centric design is included.

Focusing on the end user from the very beginning of the ad design process and continuing that mindset through launch, allows for a higher probability of conversions. In addition, Google’s display ads appear on over two million sites, that translates to thousands of users that could see your ad.

On the flip side, the impact on the brand if the ad didn’t appeal to these users could be grave.

Whether you’re executing search or display advertising it’s important to remember to do your homework. Make sure you know your brand and your competitors. Remember, your ad will be seen by thousands of potential customers, so make a good first impression!

Here are a few steps you need to take before publishing your ads to the public.

Executing a Successful Digital Marketing Campaign

Digital advertising comes in many forms, knowing what PPC channel and what portion of the campaign budget should be allocated to PPC, can make or break your digital strategy. It’s the difference between outperforming your competitors or getting lost in the internet shuffle.

It’s important to note that allotting too much in digital ad spend can put you at risk to burn through your budget before the end of the month which will give your competitors an advantage.

Now, if you don’t allow enough spend or you’re not strategically spending, then you run the risk of underperforming and never setting the campaign up for success. When this happens, a brand’s digital footprint never fully matures, leaving the company with a major sales deficiency.

In the end, if the issue is left unresolved, the campaign will fall short and will never produce the desired conversions or adequate traffic.

As you can see, managing your ad spend correctly is a balancing act and if you don’t have an experienced in-house marketing team creating a strategy that will produce ROI within a designated timeframe, then you need to hire one and fast. Remember, the longer you wait, the longer it could take to catch up to the competition.

Designing a Digital Marketing Strategy

Whether you plan on going on this journey on your own or are actively searching for an experienced marketing team to hire, you will need to do your homework.

Well planned digital marketing campaigns are developed based on information found in three areas, competition in your vertical, financial goals established for the business, and what your audience is searching for.

So, dig into your competitors; understand who they are, how you stack up against them and what their online strategy is. This information should then be handed off to your marketing team along with the goals created for the business. From there, research on your brand’s audience will be completed to better understand who they are, what they respond to and what they need in order to convert online. All of this information will act as the foundation for a successful digital marketing strategy.

If you’re unsure of who your online competitors are or where you can find information on your competitor’s strategy check out Not only will SpyFu pull your online competitors based on the date you input, but they will also include the portion of the market they cover for organic and paid results.

The graph below shows you how your competitors will show up in SpyFu.

A SpyFu screen-grab of for keyword research.

More than Words

Once the initial research is completed, the next step is keyword research. While developing your keywords list, it’s crucial to remember that these terms should mirror or act as an extension of the foundational research completed and the call-to-action you want users to engage with once they click on your ad. Use tools like Google Keyword Planner and Moz to determine the level of competition around certain key terms. Then, use tools like SEM Rush or SpyFu to better understand how your brand performs when placed alongside competitors at your designated price point. This should give you a general idea of how easy or difficult it will be for your brand to reach a level of success.

Most business owners or marketing team members have a general idea of what keywords users are utilizing in search. If you know what keywords your audience is using (based on your experience with marketing this brand), then research those terms and check out the competition level. Like most companies, you will probably have an initial PPC budget, so spend it wisely. If you find certain terms are just too pricey for you early on, find and include alternatives that are less expensive but still effective.

Remember to dig deep, think about the users that are further down in the buyer’s journey. What terms are being used when they are ready to convert?

Tip: Successful advertisers use 5 – 20 keywords per ad group.

In this scenario, our call-to-action (CTA) is “pet adoption”. We know that users searching for “dog breeds” are the type of users that we want to stay in front of. The problem here is that a user searching for “dog breeds” may not ready to adopt, so placing CTA “pet adoption” in front of these users will not be effective.

These users are still trying to find the right type of breed that fits their lifestyle. That said, education would be a better option for them. A blog that is created to help users decide what type of breed is best for different lifestyles would work well here. In this case, make sure your blog page is optimized for organic traffic.

Tip: If you’re a local business, consider using local advertising tactics. This will help your site rank for long-tail terms that include “near me” (i.e. pet adoption near me)

The Final Touch

Once you have your CTA and keyword list, it’s time to create your ads. Make sure you naturally tie your keywords and CTA to your ads. Google will provide you with a quality score that will influence your CPC (cost-per-click) and ad positioning.

When PPC is executed correctly results are somewhat immediate and just like other digital marketing channels, PPC can have a positive impact on brand authority and overall conversions. After the initial 60 days of a digital advertising campaign, you will start to experience quick wins. For example, you will begin to get conversions on some long-tail keywords. Once we’ve achieved those quick wins at Flying Cork, we then double down and integrate high-priority phrases into your PPC campaign. This will increase your space on SERPs placing your site in the first position and allowing the brand to take up more real estate.

To help you better understand the rules in place for Google AdWords, we have teamed up with Google to host a hands-on webinar, but that’s not all!  Flying Cork would like to help you start the new year off right, so we will be auditing PPC accounts! The goal is to help you apply what you learn in the webinar to a well-organized and freshly audited AdWords account.  Both the webinar and the audit are free!

We hope to see you on Friday, January 12 at 1 p.m. (EST).

The holiday season is quickly ramping up, and a sound social media marketing strategy could be the difference in whether or not the holidays are merry and bright for your company.

With each passing year, with more and more competition during the holiday season, you have to get a little more creative in order to break through the noise of commercials, radio jingles, Facebook ads, and promotional giveaways.

For small businesses, in particular, the holiday season creates prime opportunities for you to be a step ahead of your competition.

Before we dive into my five tips, let’s first highlight three of the biggest shopping days of the holiday season:

Black Friday – November 24
Small Business Saturday – November 25
Cyber Monday – November 27

Now that we have these dates in mind and realize that they’re closer than we thought, it’s not time to panic. It’s time to get to work. Here are five social media marketing tips to keep in mind this year.

Tread Lightly
To err on the side of caution and avoid offending your audience, be cognizant of the imagery, metaphors, and verbiage that you use in your holiday campaigns. Always have your target audience at the forefront of your efforts and keep them in mind when creating holiday campaign content.

Showcase Your Employees
The holiday season is a festive time of the year, which means that company celebrations are a given. Showcasing your employees is a great way to humanize your brand. However, there’s a fine line between putting faces to your company and oversharing. Obviously, you want to avoid the latter. So, before posting pictures from a company holiday party, you’ll want to vet the content and make sure that it aligns with your company’s overall mission. Be tasteful, mindful, and professional when posting.

Give Back

There’s no better time to give back to your loyal customers than during this season of giving. Take some time to make your customers feel special and like they’re an important piece of your business (because they are). Recognize and thank your customers by giving them something of value. When you do this, you’re fostering goodwill that can ultimately create brand advocates who will help spread the word about your business. Happy customers translate into influencers who can help build brand awareness through word-of-mouth marketing.

Grow Your Email List     

Your wish list isn’t the only thing that should be growing this time of year. It should come as no surprise, but people are always looking for freebies and ways to keep money in their wallet. Leverage this information to your advantage and grow your email list by creating a valuable giveaway for your audience. Create a specific promotion on social media that requires your audience to provide their email address as part of their entry. But, before you hit publish on your post, there are a few things to consider so that you avoid being added to the naughty list by local laws:

  1. Make sure that you give your audience the opportunity to opt-in to (or out of) future email communications from your business.
  2. Include full disclosure of the rules and regulations of your contest.

Once you’ve covered these legal bases, make sure that your value proposition is worth it. My rule of thumb for giveaways is that the prize matches what you’ve asked of your audience. Giving you their email address would earn them a greater-value prize than simply liking a Facebook post, for example. Keep this in mind when deciding on the prize for your list-building giveaway.

Be Present

Make sure that you’re manning your social media channels throughout the season to address any issues or questions that come your way. Providing swift customer service to your audience will speak volumes for your business long after the holidays are over. It’s crucial that you stay on top of what people are saying not only about your brand, but your industry as well. Use social listening to your advantage to provide value to your audience.

With all of this information in mind, if this is the first time you’ve thought about your holiday marketing campaigns, don’t panic. Use these five tips to start mapping out your campaigns. If you want to prevent bearing the last-minute rush, get in touch with us today and we’ll make sure that your social campaigns run like well-oiled machines all year ‘round.

“Treat others the way you want to be treated.” I’m sure at some point in your life someone has recited that age-old adage to you. Well, today I’m going to preach it to you again. This time, however, I’m adding a little spin to it and applying it to social media.

Whether you’re a small or large business, well-known company or are just beginning to build your brand, there’s one thing that remains the same: You must give back to your followers.

As the Content Manager here at Flying Cork, a large chunk of my time is spent living and breathing all things social media. Whether I’m creating custom content for each platform, practicing my personal golden rule of social listening, or engaging with others, I’m constantly trying to provide value to the end user. It’s this type of content that I believe helps build a strong bond between brands and their consumers.

It’s a cyclical approach because let’s face it, you can’t have success without an audience. You have to go above and beyond to reach your audience, grab their attention, provide value, and keep them coming back for more. So how do you do it?

One word: Reciprocity.

I’m a big supporter of reciprocity in social media. I think it’s imperative and should always be factored into an overall social media strategy because the value that it provides is beyond your average ROI. Sure, we have to worry about numbers and making sales, but doing that becomes harder if you don’t have an engaged following that’s backing your brand.

So how exactly do you infuse the golden rule of reciprocity into your social media strategy? Here are some guidelines to get you started:

Don’t expect anything from your followers.

I know that sounds harsh, but hear me out. When I say this, I mean that you shouldn’t expect your followers to do anything for you if you haven’t done anything for them. You should have the mentality that you’re going to provide your audience with some sort of value in every exchange. Whether it’s an infographic, a helpful tip, an informative blog post, or some piece of content that’s going to be worth your audience’s time to consume, always, and I can’t stress it enough, always give your audience more than what they give you.

Always put the consumer first.

When you do this, you’ll produce content that directly addresses their needs, which speaks volumes to the end consumer. In this day and age, so much of the consumer’s attention is given to social media, so what better place to mine valuable data than the source? When you uncover the interests, trends, and pain points of your audience, and create content that addresses those, provides a solution, or simply is of interest to them, it will ultimately show that you’re listening and that you care. When consumers feel a connection and that a brand is relevant to them, they’ll be more likely to take action when asked.

Shift your mindset.

As marketers, we’re programmed to sell and are focused on the ROI of each piece of our overall strategy. But given the current landscape of social media, you can no longer rely on obvious plugs of our products on our social profiles. Instead, you have to realize that consumers don’t always want to be overtly old when they’re catching up on Facebook. Rather, they want to be told a story that clearly explains the benefits of the product/service and how they essentially can’t live without it. When you take the time to thoughtfully craft content and don’t audible to the easy way out for quick wins, you’ll realize that your return on investment of giving more than you get will be creating a strong, avid, loyal following of people who care about your company and what you have to say. Always remember that social media marketing is a marathon. When you set yourself up for a sprint, sure, you have quick returns, but it’s impossible to maintain that pace time. Slow and steady wins the race, and in this case, always keeping your consumer top-of-mind and providing value in every exchange will ultimately drive you to the finish line.

Reciprocity is something that all marketers should practice, particularly on social media, because it puts the consumer at the forefront of every action you take. So, when it comes time to create content, lead with value and build your following; then, when it comes time for you to ask your audience to do something in return, they’ll do it without a second thought.

Do you need help implementing the golden rule of social media to your efforts? If so, I’d love to chat!

As a brand-new hockey season is drawing near, I wanted to take some time to enjoy the late-game heroics that sealed the deal for the back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions, our hometown team, the Pittsburgh Penguins.

To do just that, I found a goosebump-inducing clip from Business Insider of Patric Hornqvist’s game-winning goal. Enjoy!

Pittsburgh Penguins, back-to-back Stanley Cup champions.

A reason to celebrate

In the sports world, when a team clinches a playoff spot, wins their division or takes home a championship, champagne is always part of the equation. After all, we’ve seen countless video clips of locker room celebrations with players wearing goggles, jumping for joy, and popping bottle after bottle of champagne to celebrate.

This just goes to show that every big win has a monumental moment. It’s in this moment of success that corks are flying and the entire team (fans included) feels as if they’ve had a hand in the big success.

Now, the idea of celebrating a win isn’t reserved only for sports.  In fact, in digital marketing, we celebrate successes both small and large every day with our clients.

The fact of the matter is that Pittsburgh as a whole is a treasure trove of inspiration and being that the Flying Cork office is located in the heart of the city, right across the street from Point State Park, we’ve been able to feed off of the constant supply of motivation and apply it to our own work.

As a proud member of the City of Champions, I wanted to take some time to focus on the evolution of our hometown and why not only our sports teams, but the people who live within the city limits, are a testament to the idea that “the secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

Pittsburgh is built on evolution and change.

From our early origin as the “Steel City” to being known as the “city of bridges” to now becoming a welcoming home to entrepreneurs and creative minds, Pittsburgh has become a place for forward-thinkers. Even Forbes Magazine took note of our growth when they listed Pittsburgh as an up and coming tech city in the U.S. (watch out Silicon Valley, we’re coming for you!).

Over the years, we’ve seen the introduction of the self-driving Uber onto our busy city streets, countless breakthroughs from Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science, and a large presence by none other than Google. And this progress is something that we can all be proud of because we have, as a city, worked to break the mold in the tech world all the while putting culture in the forefront as well.

Just take Pittsburgh’s Cultural District for example. This 14-square block area of downtown is home to a myriad of theaters, art galleries and much more. It’s here that you can find an upcoming play at the Benedum Center or Heinz Hall to name a few, enjoy a delicious meal at one of the 50 dining establishments, or even take a bike ride through the city.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the evolution and change that’s emanating from this city because the ongoing story of perseverance, grit and the wherewithal to embrace change and run with it is what fuels us as a team at Flying Cork.

Pittsburgh and marketing. 

The connection between Pittsburgh and marketing is strong because we as marketers have to be nimble and willing to change in order to stay relevant, create and implement fresh ideas, and be one step ahead of the competition.

As I’ve said before, there’s a lot of motivation to pull from this city and when it comes to business, the idea of embracing, not fearing change, is one that powers us to take risks and think outside-of-the-box.  Because without change, there’s no growth and as the popular saying goes, “change nothing and nothing changes.”

To end this blog, I think it’s safe to say that Pittsburgh is like a fine wine: it only gets better with age.

I’m going to channel my best Joan Rivers impression when I ask, “Can we talk?!” In this blog post, I want to talk about Twitter. Yes, Twitter – the social media site that’s seen as a dinosaur in comparison to its competitors.

Let me start by saying that I love Twitter for a number of reasons. To me, Twitter is like the hotline for the public’s opinion. It’s where we go for news, to express our thoughts, and to join in on conversations. (Shameless plug alert: Here’s my blog post on social listening via Twitter.)

If you’re still rolling your eyes so hard you could do a somersault, let me ask you a few questions.

What social media site do you turn to in order to voice your opinions about your favorite show? How about to post your thoughts on a political debate or to complain about poor service you received from a company? What if you actually want to say something positive about someone or something?

If I had to guess, you likely thought to yourself – Twitter. And to that I say, I told you so.

Attitude aside, all of this information leads me to the main focus of this blog post: the power of Twitter chats.

If you’re unfamiliar, let me give you the Cliff’s Notes version.

A Twitter chat is essentially a Q&A session that’s moderated by either a company or an influencer. The Twitter chat starts with a question from the moderator, and participants chime in with their thoughts and use the custom hashtag for that particular Twitter chat.

Sounds like a good time, right? Right!

Obviously, I’m a sucker for a good Twitter chat. My Google calendar has recurring reminders for various chats so I can join in on the conversation if I’m not otherwise occupied. A few of my favorites (in no particular order) are:

Why do I love Twitter chats? I thought you’d never ask. Here are my top three reasons.

You can connect with others in your industry.

As digital marketers, we’re constantly tasked with learning as much as we possibly can and then forgetting what we just learned in favor of the new and improved strategy that was released two minutes ago. The industry is constantly evolving and it’s our job to evolve with it. What better way to tap into the minds of our peers than with a Twitter chat? Each chat has its own theme, and from that theme comes a variety of different questions. The nice part about a Twitter chat is that you can respond to the question and then “listen” in to see what others in the industry are saying, too. This gives you the chance through social listening to engage with others.

You can showcase your expertise.

In the real world, we find it to be a bit intrusive, to put it lightly, when people insert themselves into conversations. We hit them with a middle-school girl caliber side-eye and wonder what makes them think they can just state their opinion? Well, when it comes to Twitter chats, the exact same thing happens. The only difference is that the negativity is removed and all that’s left is people who share the same affinity for a certain topic and offering their insight. During a Twitter chat, you have the chance to insert yourself into a conversation and show that you know what you’re talking about—what’s more, it’s welcomed! In essence, you’re flexing your marketing muscles by adding your expertise and your opinion into the mix. Plus, it feels good to have your tweets acknowledged by the moderator and your peers!

You can build your following.

As with most things pertaining to the social media world, the more consistent you are with your approach, the more likely you are to see positive results. In my case, I manage the Flying Cork Twitter profile, and through my engagement via Twitter chats, I’ve seen our tweet impressions, profile visits, mentions and number of followers steadily increase. In fact, August was the first month that I pushed full steam ahead in posting on our Twitter feed and participating in Twitter chats, and though it’s a small case study, as you can see from the screenshot below, the numbers don’t lie. The more you tweet and the more you engage with others, the better your chances are of increasing your reach and building your following.

Screenshot of Flying Cork's Twitter performance for August 2017.

Conversely, you can’t just respond with one-word answers or give a lackluster performance and expect positive results. Just like on all social channels, building a Twitter following takes time and effort, a commitment to providing value, and consistency and patience once your strategy is implemented. While I know that August’s numbers are impressive for our agency, I also know that those numbers won’t continue their upward trend if I don’t put in the work and use Twitter chats to Flying Cork’s advantage.

Now, that I’ve highlighted my top three benefits of joining in on Twitter chats, are you convinced of their power to help put your name out there, engage with your peers, and build your following?

Still need a little coaxing or maybe a little help? Say no more. Let’s chat.

But before you say goodbye, say “Hello” and see what’s new at Flying Cork on Twitter | Facebook | Instagram.

What is the biggest difference between a responsive email and an adaptive one? In reality, your budget. In this blog, I’m going to compare these two mobile-friendly methods of building emails and what each of them means for the end user’s experience.

When it comes to email, especially from the user’s point of view, they really only care about one thing: The information they’re reading in your message. Essentially, they want to be able to consume the content quickly so that they can either take action or move on.

In that small time-frame when a person checks their email on their phone, you, as the marketer, have to create a design that supports the content and breaks through the clutter to grab hold of the user’s attention. Because let’s be honest – there’s nothing more infuriating than an email that doesn’t load properly or provides zero value.

Wasting the recipient’s’ time is a surefire way to have your future emails sent right to the trash bin of their inbox. So, how can you avoid this fate? You need to create emails that perform well wherever and however the user chooses to read them.

As most of the world is checking their email via mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, your emails should be readable on just about all of them (or, if you’ve done your research on your target audience, you can cherry pick the most common devices and optimize for those). Basically, developing a mobile-friendly email is a must. However, fully responsive emails are just visually better.

How? Allow me to explain.

Adaptive Email

These emails simply adapt to the screen size by scaling down proportionately. For example, if part of your email has an image next to some text in a two-column layout, it will remain that way on all devices. The downside is that on particularly small devices like smartphones, your text may be so small that users can’t read it without pinching the screen to zoom in, which isn’t going to provide the best user experience for your audience.

Responsive Email

In a responsive email, the design responds to the screen size by recognizing the width. The same two-column layout on a smaller device will instead stack the image and text on top of one another so that the text remains large enough to read. Your users won’t need to pinch and zoom, as the email is perfectly readable on whatever device they’re using.

With that in mind, some will argue that responsive emails will garner more user engagement because of the favorable user experience, and more engagement may lead to increased conversions. However, there are many variables that contribute to whether the user will ultimately decide to take further action, including, but not limited to, the content and design.

So why does the budget decide?

It would be awesome if we could always use responsive emails all the time, every time. In the beginning, I said that it was your budget that realistically decided what method you use to build your emails. That’s because time is money, and fully responsive emails take a lot of a developer’s time to build and test.

Adaptive emails take much less effort to build and are much less time-consuming than fully responsive emails. There is only one version and it simply scales to the device. Testing across different devices, browsers, and email clients is less painful because the email should look the same in all of them. Just set the same width value in three different ways and you’re done! No messy media queries that may or may not work.

Fully responsive emails, on the other hand, take much longer because the developer has to test the email thoroughly to ensure it looks fantastic across the different devices, browsers, and email clients. A fix for a bug in one email client might break something that worked in another one. So that starts the process of what I like to call fiddling around until they find a solution.

To help you decide whether you should go for the fully responsive or adaptive email approach, I present to you the Iron Triangle, also known as the project manager’s triangle. Your ideal goal for any project would be to get the best deal by paying the least amount for a good quality product with fast turnaround time. While I hate to be the bearer of bad news, accomplishing all three is simply impossible; you have to choose up to two of the three goals: fast, good, and/or cheap. Anyone who promises you can have them all is lying – beware!

If you have the budget, it’s worth it to request (and expect) a high-quality result. If your project is also a low priority, the “fast” goal doesn’t matter. In that scenario, only the “good” goal was chosen. Those are my favorite types of projects because I can spend the time making a great, robust, and bug-free product. The fast and cheap projects hurt my soul because it is inevitable that the outcome will be of low quality. If you need to choose cheap, I’d recommend setting your deadline far in advance, else the quality will suffer and everyone working on it will know it before it ever even reaches the user.

I think I’ve covered enough for one article. As you can see, I’m very vested in this subject, so I’m going to leave you with a teaser for a future blog post:

Adaptive emails are not “enough” and fully responsive emails are too time-consuming, so check back in the coming weeks to learn about how new method developers like me are now learning!

Parents everywhere are jumping for joy, a smile on their face and a cup of coffee the size of a small hot tub in hand. The reason for all the excitement? They’re happily seeing their kids off for the start of another school year. But just because our kids are heading back-to-school, doesn’t mean that we can’t learn something new, too. Today’s lesson plan: Social Media Strategy

Essentially, I’m laying the groundwork for your social media strategy with five key elements that you should keep in mind with every campaign you manage.

Social media is the driving force for businesses both small and large to reach their target market, own their niche and make a name for themselves.

Use the infographic below as a jumping-off point, and consider incorporating these tips into your next social media campaign.

Flying Cork social media strategy infographic.

Oh, and there will be a test—every single day when you create content and engage with your consumers, you’re being tested. Are they engaging with your content? Is it relevant to them?

If you need a tutor to help you ace your test, let us know.


Content marketing is more than just a term that’s thrown around in the industry; it’s the line of communication that can connect businesses both small and large to their target audience.

In a world where we’re inundated with content, it takes a smart and savvy marketer to break through the noise and get their content out there and in front of the consumers’ eyes.

How can content marketing help you and your business stand out?

Here are five tips to help you refocus your attention on content marketing so that you can create and execute a well thought-out strategy to bolster your business.

Tip #1: Stay Consumer Focused.

Perhaps the biggest problem that I’ve noticed is that brands are focusing more on the microgame than they are the macro. What do I mean? They’re putting all their chips behind advertising and pushing their product instead of focusing on what matters most: the consumer. The best piece of advice that I can offer you today is to focus more on the long run, the end game, rather than obsessing over your short-term goals. When you switch your focus from your business to the consumer, you’ll start to see a change in how your audience perceives your brand and interacts with the content that you’re creating.

When writing content, you want to take a “consumer first” approach and work to slowly build your audience. First, you’ll want to form relationships and nurture them. Once you’ve done this, you can then start to shift your content to a more sales-focused approach to monetize your work.

Your content cadence should be: give, give, give, give, get.

Give them content that’s valuable and that solves a problem. After you’ve provided them with relevant information time and time again, only then can you ask for and get what you want from your audience in return.

In short, you never want to lead off by asking your consumers for something when you haven’t even taken the time to build your voice, position your brand in the industry, gain their trust, and give your target audience some semblance of value.

Tip #2: Find Your Sweet Spot.

One way to make content marketing work for you and your business is to find your sweet spot – your niche. If you’re a little unsure as to where exactly you fit in your industry’s spectrum, it’s time to do a little digging. If you have a shovel but don’t know where to break ground, let me point you in the right direction.

  • Pinpoint your purpose – What exactly is the goal of your content? Have you taken note of what the community is talking about? Their pain points? Their frequently asked questions? Once you’re in tune with the current events in your industry, you can then reassess your messaging and determine exactly what you want to accomplish with your content marketing efforts.
  • Create remarkable content – Anyone can write content, but it takes a skilled marketer to create content that hooks the reader, reels them in and leaves them wanting more. When it comes to content marketing, you can’t simply go through the motions and expect to yield astounding results. Rather, creating remarkable content requires attention to detail and the ability to take your message to the next level.
  • Strengthen your credibility – Your authority and credibility are like a muscle. It takes constant work to strengthen that muscle and keep it in shape. This means that when it comes to your business, you have to continually be exercising your authority and credibility within your industry to stay relevant and in tune with what matters most to your target audience. Once you’ve solidified this credibility it’s up to you to create content around your strengths and continue to build up and off of these assets.

Tip #3: Identify a Difference.

Industry competitors all share commonalities on some level. After all, they are pushing the same type of product and trying to reach the same audience. While there are similarities, you must identify a difference that sets you apart from your competition. When you find this distinction, you can begin to identify your company’s hyper-targeted ideal audience. Your difference will open you and your business up to a plethora of opportunities to tell a different story from your competitors, fixing other problems and in turn reaching out to new audiences. Once you’ve figured out who you are and what your company stands for, you can begin speaking to this notion and driving your point home through your content marketing strategy. All assets, from your website to your social media profiles, should reflect your main selling point and your unique difference from your competitors.

Tip #4: Pick your Content.

As marketers, we have the tendency to want to be firing on all cylinders and have as many irons in the fire as we possibly can. Basically, we could insert any cliché about doing too much into this paragraph and you’d get the picture. While it may seem like we have to dabble in each platform and test every idea, even if it doesn’t make the most sense for our brand, I’m here to tell you to do the exact opposite – for now at least.

Start by identifying a primary platform to distribute content. What platform does your target audience gravitate toward? Once you’ve decided on your focus, it’s time to begin consistently delivering valuable and insightful content. The byproduct of regular, valuable content will be that you build an audience on your chosen platform; over time, you can start to encourage that audience to follow you to another platform, rinse, and repeat across the myriad social platforms.

Tip #5: Be Flexible.

The current climate of digital marketing is always changing. When you feel like you have a grasp on a concept, Google launches a new algorithm, or another company completely throws you for a loop and introduces a brand-new platform or a way to approach your marketing. Rather than resisting and staying with the tried and true methods that have worked for you so far, you have to approach your strategy with an open mind and a willingness to be flexible. You’re probably thinking that the last two points I’m making are contradictory. In my fourth tip, I told you to focus on one platform at a time, master it, and then add another to your repertoire; now, I’m telling you to try new things, be flexible and avoid getting stuck in a rut. But, as is with everything in the digital marketing world, you need the yin and the yang. You need balance in order to see what works best for you and your company. While I’m not telling you to jump head first into a new strategy and completely change gears without any rhyme or reason, I am telling you to do your research, investigate new ideas thoroughly, and gradually implement them into your overall content strategy. I’m a firm believer in trying new things and testing new ideas, but you have to do it in light of your brand and your industry.

Content marketing is more than just a means to get your message out to the masses. It takes a well-rounded strategy, patience and a high caliber of execution to succeed.

This all sounds serious, but it can be done. If you need some help in the content marketing department, drop me a line. I’d love to chat about how Flying Cork can help your efforts.