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Social Spotlight: Marshalls’ #MarshallsSurprise

Welcome to the Social Spotlight, where each week we’ll dive deep into what we love about a brand’s approach to a specific social campaign. From strategy through execution and results, we’ll examine what makes the best brands on social tick — and leave you with some key takeaways to consider for your own brand’s social strategy.

It could easily be argued that e-commerce has taken a lot of the fun out of shopping. Don’t get me wrong–I love being able to order exactly what I need and have it show up on my doorstep the next day. But sometimes I miss the thrill of, as my mom would call it, “poking around” and finding something truly awesome. In this week’s Social Spotlight, we’ll take a look at how discount retailer Marshalls is reviving that feeling for the social era and turning a potential brand negative into a powerful brand asset.


One of the bargains shoppers make with a retailer like Marshalls is that in exchange for lower prices on brand-name goods, there are no guarantees that a given store will carry exactly what you’re looking for. While this could be maddening in the age of on-demand everything, Marshalls has turned its stores’ quirky, unpredictable stock into a treasure hunting adventure via a social campaign called #MarshallsSurprise.

The premise is pretty simple: Through their own social channels (primarily Instagram and Pinterest), Marshalls encourages shoppers to share pics of their best “finds” — from absurdly great deals on brand name clothing to the rug that really pulls the room together — using the hashtag #MarshallsSurprise. They’ve tapped some lifestyle influencers to join the campaign, extending the reach and reminding consumers that anyone can find a great surprise at Marshalls.


As of this writing, #MarshallsSurprise had more than 24K mentions on Instagram and over 130K engagements on those corresponding posts. From new bedding and home decor to pumpkin spice pajamas, shoppers have been eager to share their weirdest and most wonderful discoveries. And according to Sprout’s Listening data, 93% of social conversation around #MarshallsSurprise has been positive. Let’s take a look at how they did it.

  • Goals: When I look at these metrics, two probable main goals for the #MarshallsSurprise campaign stand out to me–brand loyalty and awareness–and they’re intrinsically linked in that the success of one begets success for the other. By giving its current customers and loyalists a platform for showing off their best finds on social, Marshalls is also introducing all the new potential customers among those loyalists’ followings to the thrill of the hunt.
  • Offline connection: This one is easy. You can’t find a #MarshallsSurprise unless you visit a Marshalls store and hunt one down for yourself. It’s a simple, smart and effective way to connect your brand’s IRL customer experience to one of the most motivating aspects of social: the ability to boast a little.
  • Key channels: While there is some #MarshallsSurprise activity on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, it’s mostly limited to Marshalls’ own handles and a smattering of influencers they’ve engaged with to post sponsored content. The brand is doing a particularly nice job of recapping its own favorite finds on those channels, but the real, customer-driven action is on the visually driven channels: Instagram and Pinterest. Most user posts align with the audience behaviors on each, with Instagram trending towards clothing and decor finds and Pinterest centered firmly on furniture and design. I actually think Marshalls should take note of this natural audience behavior and better define the roles for its own handles on Instagram and Pinterest by product category.


Whenever you can harness existing audience behavior to generate brand awareness and bring people into your brick and mortar locations, you’re beyond winning. Marshalls is killing it on two fronts when it comes to understanding what their consumers are already doing and asking them to keep doing it – they’re celebrating the excitement of the hunt for great deals and then encouraging people to brag about their “finds” on social. By turning the potential pitfall of unpredictable stock into an irresistible quest, Marshalls is rooting its brand in something memorable, ownable and affirming for the consumer.


  1. Find something that is specific and unique about your brand, product or service experience and lean into it. Don’t be afraid to think about how to turn a potential brand negative into a brand asset.
  2. Do the work to understand your audience and how they already behave – both in terms of your brand and on social. It’s a lot easier to convince people to participate in your campaign if it feels like only a slight adjustment to something they’re already comfortable with.
  3. Consider how you might meet multiple goals with one campaign by defining a role for your brand and a role for your audience.

This post Social Spotlight: Marshalls’ #MarshallsSurprise originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

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10 Crucial Steps for Launching Your B2B Podcast Into the Wild

Hey, friend, have you heard the good news about podcasts? 

Given the most recent stats, it’s highly likely you have. Over half of all Americans over 12 years of age have listened to at least one. Podcasts have well and truly hit the mainstream. In other words, the gold rush is on for brands looking to connect with a highly-engaged, long-attention-span audience.

However, getting a podcast up and running isn’t as simple as publishing a blog. We recently published an entire B2B podcasting webinar to walk you through the entire process, from conception to publication. This post will zero in on the choices you need to make and the steps you need to take to release your podcast into the wild.

B2B Podcasting Launch Checklist: 10 Steps

Sure, you could just upload your audio to your web server, add an RSS feed, and call it good. But if you want people to actually find and listen to your podcast, there are a few extra steps you should take. This checklist will help your podcast find an audience and start building a subscriber base.


#1: Choose Your Hosting Platform

A podcast syndication platform makes it easy to publish your podcast and get listed in directories. Think of it like WordPress is for your blog — it hosts the files, makes them look pretty, and makes it so people can find them.

Most platforms will also give you embed codes for embedding episodes in blog posts or on a landing page. You’ll also get stats on how many people are downloading episodes, and on what program they’re listening.

We prefer Libsyn as our hosting platform. Podbean, buzzsprout, and Blubrry are also solid options. They all have a free tier of hosting, but you’ll want to pay a few bucks a month for bandwidth and analytics.

#2: Upload Your First Three Episodes

Podcasting is all about establishing a regular cadence (more on that later). But for launch, you’ll want to have at least three episodes ready to go. There are a few reasons for publishing multiple episodes for your debut:

  1. One episode may not be enough to convince people to subscribe. 
  2. Multiple episodes show you’re committed to keeping the content coming.
  3. Most importantly, Apple podcasts requires at least three episodes to qualify for their “New and Noteworthy” section. 

So before you publish, have at least three episodes completed, and be ready to follow up with more at your promised publishing cadence.

#3:  Register with Podcast Directories

Podcasts are peculiar in terms of content delivery. Your hosting platform makes the files available, but most people will listen to your podcast on their chosen podcast app. Each app maintains its own directory — think of it as a search engine for podcasts. 

Your podcast needs to be listed in their directory, or people won’t be able to find you. I recommend registering with at least these six:

  1. Apple Podcasts
  2. Google Podcasts
  3. Stitcher
  4. Podbean
  5. Spotify
  6. TuneIn

Each of these sites will ask for the RSS feed of your podcast, which your hosting platform will generate for you.

I created a podcast tracker to keep track of all these directories — sign up for the webinar and you can download it for free.

B2B Podcast Tracker

#4: Promote Internally

Gaining visibility on a podcast directory is tricky business. Apple and Google are where the majority of your listeners will be, and each employs an algorithm to promote podcasts in search results and feature pages.

How do you get an algorithm’s attention? Engagement! Start by promoting your podcast to all of your employees. Encourage them to subscribe on Apple or Google, give a rating, and write a brief (and honest) review. What’s more, draft some social messages and encourage everyone to promote the podcast to their networks, too.

That base level of initial engagement will help your podcast start finding its audience.

#5: Activate Your Influencers

Most podcasts are Q&A-style interviews with influential guests. If your podcast includes influencers in your industry, make sure they know as soon as their episode goes live. Give them the tools to promote the podcast easily:

  • Sample social messages
  • Social media images in the correct sizes
  • Embed codes

If your podcast doesn’t feature influencers, it’s worth re-evaluating your strategy for your next season. Influencer content not only is more valuable to your audience, it’s an indispensable channel for promotion.

#6: Publish Blog Posts

The one downside of audio content: It’s not super crawlable for SEO purposes. Granted, Google has started to auto-transcribe episodes and add them to search results, but the technology is still in the early stages.

To truly get some SEO juice from your podcast, we recommend embedding each podcast in a blog post. This example from the Tech Unknown Podcast by SAP* shows how simple it can be. All you need is an introduction, a few pull quotes, some key takeaways, and a transcript.

#7: Add Paid Promotion

As with any content, you want to use every tactic available to make sure it gets seen by your target audience. That’s especially true with podcasts, since podcast search engines are incredibly competitive.

Targeted, paid social promotion can help establish your subscriber base and get your new podcast some much-needed visibility.

It’s also worth considering cross-promotion on other podcasts. Consider both paid advertising and trading guest spots with a podcast that shares your target audience. 

#8: Solicit Listener Feedback

Ratings and reviews are essential to your podcast’s success. They’ll help provide social proof for new listeners and boost your search visibility in podcast directories. 

The best way to get ratings and reviews? Ask for them. Make it part of each episode’s sign-off. You can even encourage thoughtful reviews by reading the best ones on future episodes. You will engage your listeners and solicit more reviews at the same time.

#9: Keep Up Your Cadence

As with blog content, there’s no single “right” frequency to publish a podcast. Some of my favorite podcasts publish weekly, biweekly, or even monthly. The best cadence for your podcast is “However frequently you can reliably, regularly publish quality content.”

Choose your cadence with an eye to long-term sustainability, and tell your listeners explicitly how frequently you’ll publish. Whether it’s “See you next week,” or “PodcastTitle is a monthly podcast that…” listeners will find it easier to make your podcast a habit if you stick to a schedule.

#10: Repurpose, Repurpose, Repurpose

In my last post on the content marketing benefits of B2B podcasting, I mentioned that podcasts are a content machine, and I’ll say it again. It’s easy to finish an episode, publish it, then forget it and move on to the next thing. But don’t do that! 

Pull snippets of audio content for social media. Turn them into short videos, too: Add a still image or a simple looping GIF for visual interest.

Use your transcriptions as fodder for future blog posts, quotes for influencer marketing, or even a stand-alone asset. 

Any way you can reuse that content can help bring more listeners to your podcast. What’s more, putting the content in a different medium can reach an audience who might not be into podcasts (yet). 

Check, Check, One Two

Launching a podcast is a little trickier than launching a new blog, especially if you’re new to the format. But if you follow this checklist, you can make sure your podcast is available on all the right channels and is ready to start attracting an audience.

Need more podcasting help? Check out our B2B Podcasting Webinar. In addition to learning the Four P’s of podcasting success, you’ll see me make this face:

B2B Podcasting Face

*Disclosure: SAP is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post 10 Crucial Steps for Launching Your B2B Podcast Into the Wild appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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