inbound marketing

Alec Baldwin’s Schweddy Balls A Viral Hit

September 10  |  Viral Marketing  |   Simon

With all the hype trending around the release of the Nike Air Mags that Marty McFly wore in “Back to The Future II” after a 23 year wait, you might not have caught another viral product announced at the same time: Ben & Jerry’s “Schweddy Balls”.  This new flavour from Ben & Jerry’s, like with the Nike Air Mags, have come from fantasy to reality. If you’re not familiar with the Saturday Night Live skit Schweddy Balls is based on, check out the video below.


This combination of vanilla ice cream with a hint of rum with fudge covered rum and malt balls is another stellar example of viral marketing that was practically competing with the Nike Air Mags on Twitter. This limited edition flavour was able to virally leverage the SNL Schweddy Balls meme to completely cover all marketing costs.

Twitpic of Ben & Jerry's "Schweddy Balls"

@cherrygarcia's twitpic has 2119 tweets and 33,000 views

Twitpic Credit: @cherrygarcia

Let’s look at the social data from for the three days since Schweddy Balls was first mentioned.  The original article by Time announcing Schweddy Balls has been Facebook liked 867 times and Facebook shared a staggering 42k times. It has had 4560 direct tweets, 245 Diggs, 54 Stumbles and 74 +1’s.  The link has also racked up 4,457 social mentions. Ben & Jerry’s official Twitter account, @cherrygarcia, tweet linking to their Schweddy Balls page on their site received 1,899 retweets. The now famous fake family name “Schweddy” has 7,768 social mentions 7,768. Alec Baldwin (@alecbaldwin) has a massive following of 330,766 and his tweet of the Times post received 505 tweets plus 19 influential tweets alone.

Imagine the ROI of promoting a new flavor of ice cream through traditional channels like banner, print or TV ads, compared to inbound marketing tactics like blogs and social networks, and you just can imagine the money saved. All it took was a clever idea and the balls to actually put it into action. Yep, had to throw in a balls joke somewhere.

@alecbaldwin's "Schweddy Balls" tweet

Like with my previous post on the viral marketing hit of the Nike Air Mags, Schweddy Balls stands a premium example of successful viral marketing and leveraging inbound marketing. What was great about Marty McFly’s Nike sneakers was the proceeds go to support the Michael J. Fox Foundation. I think it would have been a smart and funny PR move by Ben & Jerry to have proceeds of the limited release of Schweddy Balls went to support prostate cancer, which gets much less attention than breast cancer but affects just as many men. Too bad they didn’t aim to do some social good like Nike, but both reap the benefits of viral brand building, which resonates in today’s marketplace so much stronger than traditional ads or commercials.

Follow me on Twitter:@S_Gerard



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Marty McFly’s Nike sneakers have finally come Back From the Future

September 8  |  Viral Marketing  |   Simon

As a senior member of Gen Y, the 80s holds many of my fondest pop culture memories. The Back to the Future movies were huge hits when they were released and are still loved by millions today. I still remember seeing the original Back to the Future when it was first released to VHS. When the sequel came out, where Marty McFly travels to the future, my whole generation was blown away. No one can forget the flying DeLorean, the hoverboard, the 3D Jaws movie billboard to the self-tying Nike hi-tops that Marty McFly wears. With all this and so many other imaginative details, Director Robert Zemeckis and producer Steven Spielberg were able to send us all to the distant future: the year 2015. Now in 2011, Nike is finally releasing the same Nike’s Marty McFly wore to ride his hoverboard, after over 20 years of rumours and hype.

The legions of Back to The Future fans have always discussed and fantasized about when the hoverboard and the self-tying sneakers would become a reality. On September 6th, 2011 the Nike “Air Mags” finally came back from the future in a teaser Youtube video by user “DocEmmettBrown88”, for those who don’t know all their BTTF trivia, that’s the name of the scientist who invented the time traveling DeLorean.

The next day at around 3pm,, one of the leading authorities in the world of sneakers, received a special package from the future. Just like the scenes in the movies where Marty would receive messages from Doc Brown for another point in time, an iPod Shuffle had a special message from the Doc himself saying: “Welcome to Los Angeles. If my calculations are correct, over the next 24 hours you are about to see some SERIOUS SH*T!”. It included an invitation to: “IT’S ABOUT TIME…an unveiling that could change the course of time”, a special event in Hollywood tonight. I’m sure the NiceKicks staff are BTTF fans and I couldn’t imagine their excitement, I would have screamed and fainted for sure.

promo package for Nike's "Back to The Future" Air Mag sneakers

Doc Brown's metal wrap glasses from "Back to The Future II"The package contained Throwback Pepsi (the mid-80s formula), some 80s candy, such as Nerds and bubble gum tape. It also had the Back to The Future Trilogy and a pair of Doc Brown’s metal shield glasses he wore in the film.

While there have been a few Nike releases with a “Marty McFly” theme, none have been official or done the pair from the movie justice. Last August, NiceKicks reported that Nike had filed a patented for a pair of battery-operated self-tying shoe with LED lights. Many dismissed it as a hoax since rumours of this sneaker being made have always come up over the years.

80s candy, Throwback Pepsi and "Back to The Future" movies

Now we have confirmation that the dream is real, tonight at 8pm, the real-deal Marty McFly Air Mag sneakers will be unveiled. They will be the first rechargeable footwear from Nike, featuring a glowing LED panel and it actually auto-ties itself with a button… JUST LIKE IN THE MOVIE!!!!

Nike's Air Mag sneaker from "Back to The Future"

1500 have been made, with 150 to go up for auction on eBay for 10 days, starting tonight. All proceeds will go to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s disease. In case you are not aware, Michael J. Fox who starred in BTTF, has Parkinsons which led to him starting this foundation. He will appear on David Letterman tonight, hopefully in his signature outfit from the movies. Leading up to this release, Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki said they would match all donations to this foundation up until 2012, at a max of $50 million. With over 20 years of hype for this release, I’m sure it will be an all out 10-day bidding war for these sneakers, so it’s great to see Brin and Wojcicki stepped up to match all donations.

Marty McFly holding his Nike Air Mags in "Back to The Future II"

Mark Parker, CEO of Nike, said he wanted to translate all the built-up excitement for this sneaker and turn it into a positive action to raise money and awareness for Parkinson’s disease. A great PR move by Nike to help a great cause. The viral-ness of this sneaker has blown up across Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere. This has covered all marketing costs, outside of the teaser video, release event and promo packages. And Nike and BTTF fans get a chance to fulfill a childhood dream while giving to charity. This ends up being a win-win-win situation, with Nike, charity and fans all benefiting. It also stands as another stellar example of viral marketing and leverage of inbound marketing techniques, brought to us by the geniuses at Nike. stats for "Back to The Future"

Hoverboard from "Back to The Future II"

Still waiting for the Hoverboard to come out...

Let’s take a look at some of the real-time stats from after 24 hours of NiceKicks’ post on receiving the promo package. The Back to The Future hashtag, #BTTF has been used just over 1000 times. “Back to The Future” has been mentioned 5,600 times, “Marty McFly” has been mentioned 2,800 times and “Nike Air Mag” mentioned 1,500 times. The post itself has had over 19,000 FB ‘likes’, 228 +1’s and 3683 retweets. The teaser Youtube video has received almost 185,00 views in two days. All this without the shoes even being released yet. Just imagine the ROI of promoting a pair of sneakers or a charity through traditional channels like banner, print or TV ads, compared to inbound marketing tactics of social networks and blogging. You can imagine the $$ saved.

We’ll see how long this topic trends with 10 days of auctioning. And I’ll also update if I’m incredibly lucky and win a bid… They would just make the perfect pair of (online)work shoes.

UPDATE: The winning big on the first pair was $37,500 by British rapper Tinie Tempah, who also received a plutonium case to carry them in and was apparently promised a puppy by the auction’s host. And unfortunately, the sneakers do not auto-fasten, guess we’ll actually have to wait until 2015 like in the movie… But in other BTTF news, Coke-a-Cola has angel invested in The Hoverboard Program, which aims to bring us the hoverboard by 4:29pm on the 21st of October 2015, which is the exact date/time when Marty McFly arrived in the future. Its hard to say how serious this program is, they are hiring though. Just like with the legacy of the Nike Air Mags, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Follow me on Twitter:@S_Gerard

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We Build Brands (Not Just Links)

July 14  |  Brand Building  |   Ryan Clark

So our own branding slogan is as the new banner says. While it sounds cool (right folks?), what does it mean really and how does it make us differ from most of the other companies out there? I thought I’d explain it in a little more detail, and hopefully show everyone what we’re about. There are a million in one ways to market your business online, just not all of them are perhaps the most suitable route. We do our best to send companies in the right direction, and this of course requires more than just a handful of good links.

While there are thousands of SEO consultants, companies and guru’s out there, we aim to always offer something unique to the client. The marketing game is always changing, and a company that forecasts, plans and adapts to those changes will never have to worry about a “dreaded” Google algorithm update. With that being said, our company makes sure every client is dead aware of not focusing on free Google traffic as their sole source of business. If you’re in this boat now, and you’re still sleeping sound at night, then I’m here to shake off that thought process.

Our companies process for each client is highly customised and fine tuned for your market in depth. Our team is here to help build amazing content, sniff out those diamond in the rough links and help you conduct social media like a BOSS. We’re a boutique marketing firm that aims to been felt as an extension of your brand! This philosophy has kept the majority of our client base with us for years, and not just a pump and dump process you’ll get with a lot of other agencies.

Our firm is also aimed for the brands that are in a competitive landscape. We prefer to work with clients that need more than just one month of consulting because there’s no miracle cure for bad rankings. So if you’re looking for a team that can do it all, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We provide extremely in depth proposals at no charge. All our clients, regardless of budget also get 24/7/365 direct contact support from our team, and we’ll never charge for that.

Contact Us Today!

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Coffee Shop Marketing Strategies In A Social World

May 25  |  Inbound Marketing  |   Ryan Clark

The one thing I know well besides marketing and branding online is coffee shops. I spend a great deal at Starbucks, other chains and the local independent stores and have seen it all. One of the smaller coffee shops here in Victoria asked me for some help after getting to know the owner over the course of the last six months. I decided to make a deal/bet with the owner that if I could increase sales a certain amount, I’d win free drip coffee for a year. That was a deal for drugs I was ready to commit to. There were a lot of obvious first steps to take, those I won’t go into here as it’s pointless, but rather share with you some of the more unique strategies I put in place with little effort. The results were rather fantastic!

While not many people use search engines to find a local coffee shop as they’re everywhere, so we didn’t worry about ranking for a specific term here. Instead, I took on some unique social media methods that would drive a lot of customers and hopefully turn them into returning ones. Tapping into the local community played a huge role here and it turned out to be a game changer for this local business. So let’s get into the inbound marketing strategies and even a couple link building ones. One last thing, I’m happily enjoying my free coffee as I write this post!

Attracting Links:

Like I stated, the link building aspect wasn’t really a focus here but we did nab some links that would come in handy down the road. The other part of the social media marketing also netted the company a few links, so all in all it worked out nicely nicely. In their case we just focused on links from;

– local business directories within the area only
– links from the local bakery website they got their goods from
– links from the company that supplies their beans
– links from a few coffee shop directories

So nothing hardcore, just general link building that should be applied in almost every scenario like this. This alone did manage to bump them to the first page for their local area. This was not unexpected but the links combined with a few on page SEO changes did the trick no problem. This should be noted by other coffee shop owners trying to achieve this…chances are good that there is no real competition.

Utilizing Their Local Sub Reddit:

I’m a 4 year long Reddit veteran and a huge fan of my local subreddits. We decided to just let everyone know there that they’d get free refills on their coffee and tea if they just mentioned Reddit. We also put out an open ended invitation to host any Reddit meet-up events they had as well provide discounts that night on everything in the shop. This strategy was received quite well and has been providing them with more and more return visits. We nerds love our coffee, and if you have a unique shop with quality product, then you’re going to be a hit for sure. Just make sure you don’t come off as spammy or pushy with this route, and don’t expect great results every time.

Marketing With provides tons of amazing networking and marketing methods, and restaurants are always benefiting huge from it. Some of the events I go to in Vancouver attract over 100 people, and the bar we go to makes some serious bank that night. Almost every event lists where the meeting will take place, and usually this leads to a link.

We got in touch with half a dozen groups and offered the place out to the group, even after hours for a few of the late night crowds. The coffee shop now hosts nearly 4 Meetup events a month and it has done wonderful things for their sales.

Daily & Group Deal Sites (Groupon Etc):

You all knew this was coming, and it’s a no-brainer. A lot of local businesses complain that the cost of running a daily/group deal is not worth it. I had to remind them here that it’s more about branding and buzz in hopes those customers will return. If you can provide them with an amazing experience, your chances are really good that you’ve nailed down a new customer. Another interesting feature of some of these deal sites is that they provide a vendor link, and those are natural quality links you’re going to want in your profile.

Foursquare Mayor Deals:

Foursquare is still blowing up all over the world and it’s a great way to attract new and old customers. Your vendor page can net a worthy link, and your customers can fight over the mayor deal you offer. This coffee shop owner had never heard of Foursquare and that’s no surprise as it’s targeted at a much younger generation.

We made sure to get the check-in sticker on the door, a mayor deal on the web and added a few tips to add more depth to his venue page. The more geo-located tips from other users the better. These will pop up on your screen if someone has checked in near your business, and this can be worth it…it’s bloody free folks!

The Result?

Obviously the coffee shop had seen an explosion in sales compared to the previous 3 months. Obviously doing something over nothing would have a positive impact, especially how easy it all was to do. I spent no more than 20 hours setting everything up and I’m now going to be enjoying a lot of free coffee.  Now I’d love to hear from other coffee shop owners who’ve either tried some of this out, or are going to now. Let us all know how it works out!

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Ace Hotels: Boutique Brand Building and Inbound Marketing Case Study

April 27  |  Inbound Marketing  |   Simon

I spend plenty of time following fashion, travel and hospitality blogs in between the time I’m not actually travelling or shopping, this all of which falls under “reconnaissance” for related Linkbuildr clients (so I’m technically working, if anyone asks). One boutique hotel with stellar online visibility is the Ace Hotel brand, catching my eye on a number of occasions over the last year. The Ace Hotel brand has a focus on their patron’s experiences, and they bring this to them with an art-fashion prerogative, an active social life, and stylish blog to match.  Their reputation and fashion-forward thinking has spawned a range of cross-branded products, which has in turn become linkbait, generating blog content. This is on top of all the links sprouted by their varied events and parties.

Ace Hotel Cross-Branding

With any cross-branding collaboration, brand alignment and authenticity, is crucial. Thiscan’t be forced; it has to come naturally, which it does in Ace’s case.  You take a search for them on top fashion blogs and you’ll find plenty of examples of this, from exclusive Havaianas sandals being offered in their Palm Spring location’s mini-bar to Wings + Horns designed boxing-style robe, a tribute to their NYC building’s boxing history. Most are available on their online store, making great mementos for Ace patrons or just fans of Ace or the collaborating brands.  Check out the Ace blog posts of the Havainas sandals and Wings + Horn boxing robe; both have their own story of the cross-branding involved. These details and insight truly make Ace’s brand shine. Now on to how this translates to perfect linkbait and an excellent example of inbound marketing.

Ace Hotel’s Natural Linkbait

Ace Hotel naturally exudes an inbound marketing and SEO prowess that you can’t manufacture. My cross-branding pick to showcase this is Ace Hotel’s collaboration with Converse on a custom line of Chuck Taylor sneakers. The Chuck Taylor sneakers have been around since the 70s and have held their relevance by serving as a blank canvas to be styled in unlimited ways, similar to Nike’s Air Force 1. This gives each new artist-designed or cross-branded Chuck Taylor release its own character, making each sneaker a little piece of art.  This aligns perfectly with Ace Hotel’s brand, as they host countless fashion, art, music and design-related events and parties.

The first edition was released Jan. 5 with this blog post, which told the story of its unique details and purpose as staff uniform. It was then released in limited numbers to the public to follow. This spread through the fashion blogosphere, appearing on blogs such as HighSnobiety. This hits their prime target audience, people who are interesting in fashion, art and design trends. When they step out for events, parties or head out of town, they want an experience that matches their interest.

The series of posts, tweets and shares that followed grew a wealth of links and traffic. A Google search for this release from Jan. 5 until Jan. 19, found 77 links with Ace Hotel, converse and Chuck Taylor in the title, all linking back to the Ace Hotel store or blog.

A second edition was released Mar. 30, this version fitted for rainy weather, with waxed canvas and rubber navy outsoles. A nod to their rain-prone locations in Seattle and Portland, their staff was equipped with them, with a limited release to the public. A Google search for the second release (Mar. 30 until Apr. 12), yielded 98 links.

Residual Brand Equity and Link Building

Brand equity residuals come in several forms from this example.  The first is through storytelling. The staff gets a stylish pair of custom sneakers, a rare perk at any job, which they get to share with their social circle. The buyers lucky enough to grab a pair get a nice memento of Ace Hotel, along with the story to tell their friends. And I can guarantee these sneakers and their story found their way onto these groups’ social media networks within minutes.

For link building, this example served as a perfect topic for fresh fashion blog content. With the two releases garnering 175 links between them in the first two weeks, searching in just the post title alone. Not including the wealth of social mentions that accompany that many posts.

Blog as your brand anchor, with social media support.

Outside of their achievements in branding and cross-branding, their blog and strong social media presence are integral to their success. The Ace blog carries the brand, personality, and self-conscious style from their hotels across to their online presence. This completes the modern synergy needed to complete a customer’s brand experience. It features event recaps, art, interviews and branded and cross-branded products. They also have a strong following, with 8,500 Facebook fans and over 10,000 Twitter followers. These channels are used beyond just for broadcasting their blog, thanks to their busy social life.  With all the events, shows and activity in and around Ace Hotels, they never run out of interesting things to say. Like a socialite friend who acts as a hub for your social circle, Ace Hotel is this friend.

Boutique hotel brands take note

For boutique hotels, active collaborations, events and parties are essential to build a boutique brand.  This will serve as blog fuel, enabling each post to be inspired instead of mandatory. This needs to be paired with active, authentic social media management to engage your customers and showcase your brand personality. These elements complete the brand experience, which is the value that customers look for in a boutique hotel, over a faceless hotel chain. The personality of your boutique hotel has to be felt from your rooms out to your tweets. This connection is what brings customer back, who will in turn serve as ambassadors for your hotel. This is all something that Ace Hotels does naturally, making them my case study pick for organic seo and inbound marketing in the boutique hotel industry.

Make sure to follow Ace Hotel and check out their blog for more intrinsic lessons in boutique hotel branding:

Their Blog: Ace Hotel Blog
Follow on Facebook: Ace Hotel Facebook Page
Tweets By Ace: TheAceHotel@Twitter





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