The Knitty Gritty - Carney
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The Knitty Gritty

How a 140-year-old yarn company stays on top of trends and turns customers into influencers.

How Lion Brand Yarn Company Turns Customers Into Influencers

Before I (Mark) listened to today’s podcast, I asked Jordyn if she already listened to it. She gave me a look like this. That’s probably the same look a lot of you just gave your computer as you read this headline. A podcast about a yarn company? ::Yawrn:: (10 points for that one.)

But, stick with us. This podcast is packed full of info from a 140-year-old company. To stay relevant for 140 years, you gotta be doing something right. And they definitely are.

Lion Brand Yarn Company has been on the forefront of a number of trends. They started doing ecomm in 1998(!), started a blog in 2007, were early adopters of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, the list goes on and on.

One of the coolest things they’re doing is turning their customers into influencers. Lion’s VP of Marketing, Ilana Rabinowitz, is going to unravel that journey today.

The fun starts at 8:40…

  • (10:38) Lion Brand uses a tight-knit group of influencers for product development.
  • (11:25) Their influencers produce products for them and Lion resells them on their website.
  • (11:44) Lion took notes from influencers in their space on how they should present themselves. They then transitioned their own style to more closely match influencers.
  • (14:20) Feedback from influencers has also affected Lion’s content strategy. They let employees write social media posts, blogs, etc. in their own voices. There’s no “corporatizing” of the copy.
  • (19:30) Lion doesn’t micromanage their influencers. They give them a ton of freedom to do what they want.
  • (24:35) One thing they do on Instagram that is really popular is featuring customer content that isn’t fully finished, like a half-knitted sweater. The point is to highlight that not everyone is a pro. It’s about showing the journey.
  • (26:57) Give an opportunity for your customers to engage with you. They want to communicate with you, they want to feel like they’re part of the brand.

8 of the Biggest Marketing Mistakes We’ve Ever Seen

Yesterday, we showed you one of the worst ads we’ve ever seen. Now we’re bringing you the some of the worst marketing mistakes. Seems like a good way to finish out the week if you ask us.

That ad was a total snoozefest and downright offensive to creatives everywhere. But it still got the most clicks of the day. By a lot.

Learning from others’ mistakes is clearly a way we all love to learn. So here we are, with some of the biggest marketing blunders over the years, from emails to social media to guerilla marketing. 

Here are a few faux pas from today’s Read:

  1. Tone deaf social media posts. In a tweet promoting clothesKenneth Cole made a joke while referencing the turmoil in Egypt at the time. The tweet was taken down after immediate backlash. The lesson? Humor doesn’t work if you’re newsjacking something contentious.
  2. Bad logo redesigns. We’ve all seen plenty of terrible logo redesigns. But Gap’s in particular stands out because they just didn’t know their audience. When they changed their logo to appeal to a more hip crowd, they lost a lot of customer loyal. It went over so poorly with their following, they changed it back after two days. 
  3. Guerilla marketing gone awry. “Awry,” she says. Cartoon Network basically shut down the city of Boston. The network set up LED signs in various places to promote one of their shows, but a Boston resident thought they were bombs. Badda-bing-badda-boom, bomb scare. The problem cost the head of Cartoon Network his job, and the broadcasting company $2 million in compensation for the emergency response team.

Still more flubs from Netflix, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, The New York Times, and a coffee company that promised free stuff, but ran out of it. Tsk tsk.

Beer We Go Again

All right, enough bad stuff. On to the good stuff. The special stuff.

In the latest ad spot from Modelo Especial, the Mexican beer brand highlights all the ways the word “special” is overused in advertising. So much so that it’s lost all meaning. What is special anymore?? Fitting for a brand with “special” built into its name.

The fast-paced montage takes you on an amusing journey through special offers, special deliveries, special effects, that special someone, and so on and so on. “Special” has become the norm. 

Well, that’s where Modelo Especial comes in…

“The hardest thing to remember is that, as a brand, it’s not about you. It’s about them.”
Ilana Rabinowitz

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