Hashtags and QR Codes

Josh and I recently had a conversation about his love of QR codes. He has been an advocate for years to include QR codes on the external wrap of trailers. One of the first things we teach new road staff of the mobile experiential firm we work for, is that the job doesn’t stop when the show ends. That trailer is a rolling billboard and you are always representing your client, even at an interstate rest area. This has fueled his passion for the QR code. A quick snap and we can direct the interested party to any platform desired, a micro-site, a blog, or likely a Facebook Page for the particular campaign.

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A Facebook page for marketing tours has a great deal of value without putting huge resources into it. This one social media resource can house schedules, tour descriptions, and be a source to push forward other information. We have been a part of numerous businesses to consumer projects that gave away a coupon; a tour’s FB page can also link to that same promotion. Interested consumers are engaged to ask questions and leave comments. By gaining that precious “like” the brand has the opportunity to share elements from other social media outlets on the powerful platform. I can’t tell you how many YouTube videos, Vines, and Instagram photos we have shared on a project’s page. As part of the management team for tours it is my job to seek out these gems. My favorite tool for doing this is hashtag searches. This little device originated as a part of programing and has now become a part of most social media platforms. Brands can use these to draw users together, while users can implement one to make a message reach farther. The hashtag is flexible and accepted on multi-platforms. Unlike a Facebook page that will only reaches users who are subscribed, a hashtag can find consumers outside your network.

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While Josh likes a QR code I am a custom hashtag advocate, these multi platform functions gives you so many options. A QR code would be the flexible half of this duo. Our client’s have the option to choose where they want to direct traffic. Whether it is a Facebook page, a Twitter account, or my favorite a Tumblr micro-blog; QR codes put users where a client wants them. While traditional blogs and other micro-blogs have their benefits, Tumblr is designed to blend original content, multi-platform posts, multi-media post, and the all too useful re-blog. When I worked with Smithsonian Institute on a program called Animal Connections we would feed in posts that included the guest veterinarians, a little about them and their clinic. There were also many opportunities to grab the content created by guests to the traveling exhibit via a hashtag search. Like the QR codes posted throughout the exhibit there was also an official hashtag. We could grab images off of Instagram, tweets, and Facebook shares for the Tumblr feed. There was also the option to then let these items auto-roll to the Facebook page. The actual Smithsonian micro-site for the program featured a feeder of the Tumblr page. This platform allowed us to add real-time content like you would with Twitter but unlike Twitter the re-blog life is much longer. When we are in the program development phase of a tour these are always elements we work out. Hashtags and QR codes while very different search functions both can build and direct consumers. The QR code puts them on the right path while the hashtag opens a whole new one.

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**For my regular readers this post has a slightly different format, as it is part of my coarse work for SNHU.

 

Bennett, S. (2014, September 2). The history of hashtag in social media marketing. AdWeek. Retrieved from: http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/history-hashtag-social-marketing/501237

Keller, K.L. (2013) Strategic brand management: building, measuring and managing brand equity. Pearson Education, Inc. Fourth Edition

Kirkpatrick, R. (2013, December 5). How Kia accessed a world stage with a hashtag. Event Marketer. Retrieved from: http://www.eventmarketer.com/article/kia-serves-soul-live-feed/

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2008). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business Press.

Schaefer, M. (2011). The tao of Twitter. Lexington. McGraw Hill.

 

Walter, E. (2012, January 13). 10 creative ways to use qr codes for marketing. Mashable. Retrieve from: http://mashable.com/2012/01/13/qr-code-marketing/#2hN9XHn09iqj

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Every Thing Learned Has Value

Years ago we worked on a project called Reflections: The American Funeral, this tour was a multi-year undertaking took us across the country to both small and large communities. People often balked at the thought of a funeral tour but enter any museum and what do you find? The funerary artifacts of a culture. We study their lives from how they honored the dead. While at the Nelson Atkins a year ago, what was most striking in a special exhibit on Saudi Arabia were archeological finds from tombs.

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There was once a reporter who, after learning about our work with this project called it one of our less glamorous assignment. I beg to differ, this was actually a very glamorous project. We were special guests in communities, attended conventions with well known public figures, met governors, and had access to countless media resources. Getting this truck noticed was much easier than many others. It makes me thankful that I was involved with it. By taking part in Reflections I gained exposure and experience in many avenues of the event marketing industry.  The owner at the time Harry, was wonderful in his faith that we could manage and represent a project he closely advocated to see created. I gained a trusted relationship with future mentor, made contacts that I would be lost without, and friendships I cherish. Working on Reflections was everything glamorous. The value from this less conventional project was immeasurable.

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What MRA Does

If you have been following us for a while or have read the About Page you might know that Josh and I work for a firm called MRA. With so many new followers I thought it was a good time to share a bit about the company. What we do for a living is unconventional so I figured it was time to run a few posts about our job. I’ll start with MRA.

We have been working for this Michigan based firm for going on seven years, all of that as field staff. MRA is a premier provider of experiential tour operations and equipment. They give clients with many options for self-contained marketing vehicles. They provide these services for a wide array of industries and uses. We usually work with educational based projects, which include many traveling museum exhibit project but also our current tour, which is a mobile classroom for a German firm. That is just us; the amount of industries MRA touches sometimes amazes me. I’m still not really explaining it.

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There are really two things we provide; help with brand issues and the equipment to get right in front on a consumer. Well what the heck does that mean? First of all we build, design and maintain self-contained marketing vehicles. MRA specializes in a double-expanding trailer with nearly 1000 sq ft of usable space. These are pulled by a custom semi-truck that has its own generator.

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This is what Josh and I are with 99% of the time. This is the bulk of the fleet but my firm is innovative and now has a variety of units that serve the needs of customers that want something smaller but will create an impact.

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MRA provides design, staff, logistics and well all kinds of other untold services to aid their clients in creating an impactful marketing tour.

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That is where the second element comes in, branding help. We are here to help our clients with their brand issue, which means everything for correction to awareness. When we were on Library of Congress our job was to inform people of that massive available resources they had free access to. The LOC struggles with people not realizing how much they can get from the digital archives. Our current project is really fun for two marketing people like us; we get to help create a brand image. Rohde & Schwarz has not reached the point within the US where all of their potential consumers have an understanding of the products and services they provide, we get to help make that initial impact. For us that is exactly what we love doing. Fixing a brand image is what most folks like us do, but creating one is what we thrive on.

There are many firms that provide one or more services in the event marketing field but no one does it all and certainly not as well as MRA.

 

Invasion of the Tiny Turtles

A few years ago while camping we were invaded by turtles, matting turtles. Yesterday we were caught in the middle of the end result of that activity when a hatch of tiny snapping turtles invaded our event site. While Josh taking a call he noticed the first one crawling from under the truck, unfortunately in the middle of hot parking lot and not heading to the creek nearby. He just had to help.

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Isn’t he adorable.

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Don’t Ask Me

You know why really grinds my gears? Being asked overly personal questions by strangers, just because my seems like your business doesn’t mean it is.

When someone finds out how much Josh and I travel with this job a usually reaction is a bit of shock followed by the same questions, every time.

I know that my lifestyle is a bit strange and that I’m probably the only persons you know that travels as much as we do, unless you work for MRA.  So just to dispel some rumors and vent a little.

Do I like my job? – I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t like it.  I have many career options and this is the one I chose.

Do I like traveling this much?- Again, wouldn’t do it if I didn’t like it.

What route are you taking? – Does it matter what route we are taking, do you know some secrete super fast truck route we can use? No, then don’t ask me this.

If/when I am having kids? – This in NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!!!  It is extremely rude to ask about my family planning, you have no idea if there are circumstances that have influenced our decision to be a small family.

Do you sleep in the truck? – Seriously, do I look like I slept in a semi last night and didn’t shower.  And where I sleep in none of your business.

Now these are the ones the just chap me.  There are ones that I don’t mind answering, like the stuff I talk about in the yearly recap posts.

***This is part of a series of posts called “Travel Tuesday“, each covering topics unique to our lifestyle***

I Heart My Client

I would never say something negative about one of our clients on this blog, but I will share the positive.  We have been with Rohde & Schwarz for almost three months now, traveled about half the country too.  We have visited two of their central offices and met more employees than I can recall.  I’m happy to say that we feel like a part of the family now.

 

MRA (who we work for) has always been a small company where most of us are close friends, but our clients are usually large organizations that you only know one or two departments.

Rohde & Schwarz is actually a family own company and even with 100’s of employees they are a family.  Each region we enter is unique but we are given the full welcome.  Many of the Account Manager, Field Engineers and Technicians we work with on the tour have known each other for years.  Not just at R&S either.  They have migrated from other companies to form strong and resourceful teams.

 

With only one-week left of the initial tour it’s exciting to see what they come up with next.  After our trip to Canada we return to the US and start a different round of educational seminars with them, same truck but different presenters.  This next round of travel will take us back around the country and to a few places that we rarely visit.  Maybe even to your backyard.  As soon as I can post the locations I will.

Our New Tour

Some of you have been waiting very patiently for us to reveal our new client/tour. I wish that there was some exciting reason for waiting but I had to get approval to put it out there. We are excited to be working with Rohde & Schwarz a German based test and measurements company. This is a huge departure from our usual assignments in the pubic forum.

The trailer is a double expandable, the usual, but it is set up as a classroom. Well a very chic and clean classroom. The use is for local Rohde & Schwarz reps, tech and engineers to be able to host seminars covering topics covering a variety of relevant topics, yep this stuff is way over my head.

We will be traveling the entire country with this one! So that means I will get to see many of you, maybe not this first run but defiantly this year. This is a great opportunity to learn a new style of tour.