Horned Dinosaurs Had Better Teeth than Mammals

first_imgTriceratops and its buddies carried around fine sets of self-sharpening steak knives (to eat plants).Imagine finding dinosaur teeth so well preserved you could put them in a cow and they would work. That’s what biology prof Gregory Erickson (photo) says about teeth of Triceratops examined by a team of paleontologists and engineers at Florida State. They could see five distinct layers in the teeth, compared to mammals’ four and crocodiles’ two. “Each of those tissues does something,” Erickson says. “They’re not just there for looks.”Moreover, Science Daily says, the dino teeth are self-sharpening. This is a stunning case of “paleo-engineering” the headline announces; in fact, Brandon Krick, a professor of engineering from Lehigh University and an expert in tribology (the study of surfaces in motion), found that these self-sharpening teeth are so good, he’s getting ideas for “new engineering techniques that can be used for industrial and commercial applications.”A sophisticated three-dimensional model was developed to show how each tissue wore with use in a strategic manner to create a complex surface with a fuller (a recessed area in the middle, much like those seen in fighting knives and swords) on each tooth. This served to reduce friction during biting and promote efficient feeding….“Paleontologists challenged us with an interesting engineering problem, and now, we have a wear model that can be used to design material systems with optimized wear properties and surface features for many applications,” Krick said.A short video on Live Science features Erickson calling this a “remarkably complex tooth” – with emphasis on the adjective. “It rivals modern mammal teeth such as horse teeth in sophistication,” he says. “The material properties of these 70-million-year-old teeth are still preserved. You essentially could take these teeth and put it in an animal today; they would self-wear back to their functional morphology and function today.” Mammals used to be thought to have the most complex teeth that ever evolved, but Erickson says that Triceratops teeth are even more complex; they are “far more intricate than any reptile or mammal living today.” They provided “very efficient feeding” on the bulky plant material that comprised their diet.Meet RegaliceratopsSpeaking of horned dinosaurs, a new species with an ornate frill was announced in Current Biology by paleontologists in Alberta. Nature calls it “bizarre” because of its “strange halo of bony spikes.” An artist’s representation is shown at PhysOrg and Live Science. Though its genus name Regaliceratops refers to its royal-looking crowned frill (with a hat tip also to the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Canada), some of the fossil hunters are calling it “Hellboy” over its fearsome appearance.The scientists are invoking convergent evolution again. Caleb Brown from the museum calls this “bizarre” dinosaur “the first to show evolutionary convergence in horn-like structures between different horned-dinosaur subfamilies.” To the discoverers, convergence is just a fact of life everywhere in the fossil record:Most surprisingly, Regaliceratops exhibits a suite of cranial ornamentations that are superficially similar to Campanian centrosaurines, indicating both exploration of novel display morphospace in Chasmosaurinae, especially Maastrichtian forms, and convergent evolution in horn morphology with the recently extinct Centrosaurinae. This marks the first time that evolutionary convergence in horn-like display structures has been demonstrated between dinosaur clades, similar to those seen in fossil and extant mammals.All the reporters bought the convergence line without criticism. Laura Geggel at Live Science, for instance, dutifully reported that it’s “the first example of a horned dinosaur showing evolutionary convergence, meaning that these two groups developed similar features independently of each other.”Let’s get this straight. Blind forces of evolution hit upon complex self-sharpening teeth that engineers would like to imitate. And these teeth are 70 million years old but still work today. This is known as cognitive dissonance, an affliction of evolutionists who refuse to abandon a falsified worldview even when it bites them in the behind. (Visited 12 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

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Deal Site Groupon Launches G-Team, Campaigns for Local Causes

first_imgPopular group-buying daily deal site Groupon has gone back to its roots with the launch of an initiative called “G-Team,” which harnesses the collective consumer power that has made Groupon such a success, in order to connect users to local fundraisers, campaigns and other charitable causes. The causes will be tied to the deals posted to Groupon so as to attract like-minded shoppers with community organizations whose campaigns they may be interested in. For example, a deal on canoe rentals might be tied to a campaign to clean up a river, a deal on bike tuneups might be linked to a campaign to donate bicycles to disadvantaged youth and so on.G-Team: Campaigns for Charity or Just for FunBut G-Team campaigns don’t necessarily have to be focused on charity: they can be used for fun too, like organizing a flash mob or rounding up Groupon shoppers to use their coupon together on the same night at a particular venue. Although the G-Team initiative was announced over a month ago, there has been little media coverage so far, likely due to its staged rollout. Initially, G-Team is only available as a pilot program in Chicago, but Groupon says it plans on bringing the program to more cities in the future.The first campaign, just announced via Twitter and now available here, is raising money to support a local theater organization. sarah perez Groupon’s Roots are in Community Organization Many of Groupon’s users may not realize that initiatives like these actually served as the roots of what became the discount shopping experience that’s now practically a household name. According to the Groupon website, the organization grew out of a website called The Point, launched in 2007, which lets anyone start a campaign, but delays action until enough people have committed to the project. That same philosophy of collective power was later applied to what became Groupon, a site that offers a daily deal that’s only available once enough people join that day. With the G-Team campaigns, now hosted on The Point’s site, there will be a “tipping point” that will need to be reached before action is taken. And anyone can apply for one of these Groupon campaign sponsorships, either as an individual or a representative from a non-profit or other local grassroots organization. Explains Patty Huber, community manager for both The Point and Groupon, “First, we’ll help you create a campaign page on The Point. Next, we’ll develop a partnership with a Groupon merchant who will help support your campaign. Then, we’ll promote your campaign along with the merchant’s daily deal to our huge subscriber base.” G-Team campaigns, says Huber, are designed to benefit local communities, run for a limited period of time (usually a day), support causes that resonate with subscribers, aid specific projects and are organized around a “compelling story.” If you or your organization wants to be considered for sponsorship, the online application is available here. 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hostingcenter_img A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Related Posts Tags:#crowdsourcing#Non-Profits#web Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic…last_img read more

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Militant killed in encounter in J&K’s Kupwara

first_imgAn unidentified militant was killed in a gunbattle with security forces in Langet area of Kupwara district in Jammu and Kashmir. An encounter broke out between militant and security forces on Sunday morning after the latter launched a search operation in Langet, 100 kms from here, an Army official said.He said one militant has been killed and the encounter is still underway.last_img

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If Marketers Went Caroling, What Would They Sing? [Video 1]

first_img Topics: Holiday Marketing Fa la la la la! La la la la! Fa la la la la! La la la la! Search Engine Optimization Kit ‘Tis the season for happy marketing.  We hope this special carol will bring a smile to you and the marketers in your life. This is the first of a series of four HubSpot Holiday videos. Enjoy! Download our Keyword rich with inbound linking Tweet this marketing carol! . and @ Fa la la la la! La la la la! Learn moreabout how you can optimize your site to rank higher in search enginesso you get found by more qualified prospects. Common Soundcenter_img HubSpot Singers: repcor search engine optimization kit shaxxon Search Engine Optimization! Fa la la la la la! La la la! Begins with content creation! Lyrics Video Credits Originally published Dec 17, 2009 8:30:00 AM, updated October 20 2016 Gets you traffic. That’s smart thinking! Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Producers: @last_img read more

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Must Watch: 12 Awesome Social Media Tutorials

first_img Facebook ad campaign How to Get LinkedIn Recommendations , here are 12 video tutorials to help you properly set up many important basic functions. This post focuses on Duct Tape Marketing LinkedIn tip . Even if you don’t yet have a twitter account, do a quick The Facebook interface has changed a bit since How to Send Twitter Updates Through LinkedIn Duct Tape Marketing Thanks Donny for the link to the newer version of this video! The good people at  Common Craft Twitter Search in Plain English for an industry related topic or interest and you’ll be supprised at what you find. Learn how to automatically updated your LinkedIn status from Twitter in less than a minute. Thanks to profile to 100% complete. For those who have only used Twitter’s online interface, adding a Twitter client like Topics: explaining how to give and get recommendations on LinkedIn. posted this video about a year ago, but it’s still an accurate outline on how to create a , How to Import a Blog or RSS Feed into Facebook will help you get stared. LinkedIn . . TwinkedIn , and As the title suggests, this does fall somewhat into the “sneaky trick” category, but it works. Thanks to  video does a great job at explaining the basics of getting started. David Kirk of vividinsight How to Setup a Facebook Fan Page The Marketing Twins Donny Vaughn at   put together some awesome videos. In this example, they explain Twitter search in “plain english.” The key point of this video is that Twitter search is a Twitter search developers.facebook.com TweetDeck also known as a Facebook business page. John Jantsch at Howcast . LinkedIn Answers How to get your How to Use TweetDeck . If you haven’t tried using LinkedIn Answers, I highly recommended it. It’s a great place to make connections, find prospects and help brand yourself as a thought leader on a particular topic or industry. Facebook One Sneaky Trick to get more Twitter Followers to the mix will change your life. This video from John Jantsch at Tech-Recipes created this video outlining how to add a blog or RSS feed to into Facebook. How to Create a Facebook Ad LinkedIn How to Add a Facebook “Like” Button to Your Site Twitter Originally published Jun 3, 2010 10:00:00 AM, updated October 20 2016 social media marketing Facebook fan page MrInternetTips How to Use Twitter for Business does a great job of outlining the ins and outs of How to Use LinkedIn Answers  does a great job at explaining how to create a basic Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack , which are the three networks I reccommend everyone set up for themselves and/or their business. Leave a comment below and let me know if there are other social media outlets you would like to learn more about. SmartPassiveIncome . If you’re still wondering how to best use for Twitter for your businesses, this Another How to Create a 100% Complete LinkedIn Profile put together this awesome explaination of differt types of Facebook “like” buttons, and boxes that you can add to your website. For more information on the Facebook Like Button, visit These were some of the best videos I could find. Please let me know if you have other’s that you have found useful. Update 6/6/2010: powerful Social Media Marketing For those of you who are getting started withlast_img read more

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15 Educational SEO Charts and Diagrams

first_imgWhile search engine optimization is one of the core elements of inbound marketing, not enough businesses are incorporating an SEO strategy into their marketing efforts.It’s understandable — SEO can seem complicated if you’ve never focused on it. To help you get a handle on it, we’ve aggregated some helpful visual aids so you can start to understand how SEO can be helpful in your business’ marketing strategy.15 Educational SEO Diagrams1. Cycle of Social & SEO by TopRank Online Marketing2. Google’s Collateral Damage by SEOBook and Jess.net (click to enlarge)3. SEO Diagram by MentorMate4. SEO Success Pyramid by SmallBusinessSEM.com5. The SEO Process Chart by SEOBook6. Link Building 101 by ProspectMX (click to enlarge)7. The Periodic Table of SEO Ranking Factors by Search Engine Land (click to enlarge)8. The SEO Flow Chart by SEOBook9. On-Page Optimization and Link Acquisition by SEOmoz 10. SEO Tactics by Response Mine Interactive (click to enlarge)11. Link-Building Risk vs. Reward by Conversation Marketing (click to enlarge)12. SEO Process by Digital Clarity Media13. The SEO Hierarchy of Needs by Bruce Clay, Inc.14. SEO ROI From Link Building Tactics by SEOmoz15. Search Engine Marketing Process by Komarketing AssociatesWhich educational search engine optimization chart/diagram do you like the most? Have any others to share? SEO Originally published Aug 25, 2011 9:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017 Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

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5 Golden Rules for a Successful Location Based Marketing Campaign

first_img Originally published Sep 8, 2011 11:00:00 AM, updated October 20 2016 Marketing Campaigns Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Enter to win a copy of Aaron’s Book!The Evolution of Location Based Marketing”At that point [in 2007], it was really just one of these cool things. It was fun. There were some legs to it, but you couldn’t quite see the business use.”Using location based tools started out as just a cool thing to do. But in 2009, Foursquare launched with an eye toward utilizing location based tools for marketing and business. People started to realize that you can check into businesses. Businesses started setting their locations and offering incentives for check-ins.Now more companies are getting into the location based marketing game. According to Aaron, there will be more development in this area, and then more consolidation and acquisitions, but we’re really just at the beginning. Businesses are still trying to figure out how to use these tools in a beneficial way.Adopting Location Based Marketing Services”I think with the location based things, it’s not to say that if you make a mistake it won’t get some notice, but I think both customers and the press and social media in general are willing to cut you more slack if you’re going in and playing around with them.”If you’re a business, now is the perfect time to be trying out location based services because they’re still relatively small communities. If you make an error, you won’t get as much backlash as if you were just starting out with Twitter or Facebook.Building a Successful Location Based Marketing Campaign”We like to have what we call the Five Golden Rules.” Here are Aaron’s Five Golden Rules for creating a successful location based marketing campaign: 1. Go out and explore the services. Get yourself set up on Yelp, Foursquare, Gowalla, SCVNGR, and Local Response. Claim your location in those places. 2. Start embracing the influencers that are checking in. Pick one or two services that are right for you (probably Foursquare, and maybe Yelp), and do that. 3. Create your offer. Make sure your offer syncs up with what your business goals are (loyalty, engagement, increase foot traffic, increase sales, etc). 4. Test, learn, optimize, and measure. Keep tabs on what’s working and what’s not working, and make changes.5. Operationalize. Train everyone involved (from the top to the bottom) on what the offer is, how it works, and what the purpose is.Using Location Based Services to Build a Loyalty Program”I think that goes into perpetuity. Every fifth time you go, you’re getting this extra benefit, and smart companies will start to think about how do I do that.”Here are a few examples of companies who are using location based services to build up loyalty programs:Tasti D-Lite has a loyalty program where, through the swipe of a card, you can check into Foursquare, Twitter, and Facebook. Checking in earns you additional points towards free menu items.Starwood Hotels has a similar program where, when you attach your Starwood account with Foursquare, you get additional points for checking in.Hideout Theatre has it so you don’t just benefit the first time you check in or if you’re the mayor, but also during your 5th and 10th visits as well.Point-of-Purchase and Location Based Services”So I think the more you can tightly tie in some of these elements to the point of sale, the bigger retail stores will embrace this. But I don’t know if it’s going to be the end-all, be-all. It will definitely add scale. It will add comfort, I think, to a lot of these customers.”A new element that is emerging is a way for businesses to track when people have actually purchased and been inside their business. This builds on loyalty programs, but it can also be used to further relationship building and engagement.Offering Incentives for Sharing With Your Networks”The more reasons you give for someone sharing their check-in with their Facebook account or other social networks, the better.”It’s best to give the user the control on how/what they share with their networks, but the more reasons you give them to share, the better (e.g., “Get more points for sharing your check-in on Facebook.”).What Happens After Check-In”We need to think about the benefit that geo-awareness adds to any kind of transaction business data, etc.”Businesses need to figure out how they can use this information going forward. Can you build check-in information in your loyalty program? Can you add that into your communication with your customers?Digby (a mobile ecommerce company) is looking into this issue. If they can get you to check-in on an app that they’ve built, they can passively know whether you’ve been in a store or not. So then you have that data that you can work with.What Kinds of Businesses Should Use Location Based Services?”I think if you look at companies like Bravo TV, companies that are either publications or they’re consumer package goods, there are things that you can do — whether they’re educational, they can be partnerships with the actual retail locations.”Location based services aren’t just for brick-and-mortar businesses with lots of locations. Other types of businesses can partner with retail locations.For example, you can check in at the Statue of Liberty. When you do, you can pull up a particular show episode on the History Channel and historical facts. The History Channel has partnered with historical locations so that when someone checks in, they’re shown History Channel content.Measuring the Effectiveness of Location Based Marketing”This is a space that will continue to evolve. One of the things that we do have is we have a website. It’s LocationBasedMarketingForDummies.com, and that’s going to be the book site, and we’re going to keep a regular blog there. You’ll be able to find out about some of these services as they evolve, because Mike and I will keep wiki pages that will let users contribute as well — talk about all these different services that can help measure and monitor.”A lot of the platforms offer their own dashboards for tracking who’s checked in, demographics, etc.But there are also a lot of other tools that can help you measure and monitor these campaigns. Some of them are:MomentFeed: for tracking across multiple locations and multiple servicesGeotoko: for managing multiple offersValuevine: for all kinds of tracking of location based campaignsLocal Response: for mining Twitter and finding specific check-ins and making offers to themResources for Location Based Marketing Information”I have a list that I’ve actually built if someone checks out my Twitter handle, @AaronStrout. You can see my LBS Twitter stream that I’ve got.”Check out @Mr_LBS on Twitter, the Location Based Marketing Association, @JBruin on Twitter, and all of the individual services’ Twitter handles and blogs.Where to Start Your Location Based Marketing Efforts”Try it out as a consumer and check in to some places and get some ideas, and then get your company set up. Claim your location. Think about maybe a light offer that you could do.”If you’re just starting out, get set up on Foursquare. Try it as a consumer. Get some ideas. Then claim your location, and work on a light offer.Connect With Aaron OnlineYou can follow Aaron on Twitter @AaronStrout and his personal blog. Don’t forget to also check out his company blog, his book, and the Quick-n-Dirty podcast.Enter to Win a Copy of Aaron’s Book, Location Based Marketing for Dummiescenter_img Topics: Aaron Strout joins us for another exciting episode of Inbound Now, HubSpot’s social media and inbound marketing podcast! Aaron is the head of location based marketing at WCG in Austin. He is the author of an upcoming book, Location Based Marketing for Dummies, he runs his own podcast called The Quick-n-Dirty Social Media Podcast on BlogTalk Radio, and he blogs over at his own site.In this episode, we chat about:The evolution of location based marketingTips on adopting location based marketing in your businessBuilding a successful location based marketing campaignUsing location based services to build a loyalty programPoint-of-purchase and location based servicesOffering incentives for sharing with your networksWhat kinds of businesses should use location based servicesMeasuring the effectiveness of location based marketingResources for location based marketing informationWhere to start your location based marketing effortslast_img read more

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Google+ Launches New Features, Adds Support for Google Apps

first_img Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Originally published Oct 27, 2011 3:00:00 PM, updated October 20 2016 News related to Google+ has been slow in recent months. Hopefully, Google is working on business profiles for its social networking platform. However, today we got some exciting news. Not as exciting as business profiles, but close. According to Google, to date, 1 billion posts have been shared on Google+.Google+ has also launched three new features. The first is a new tool called Ripples that visualizes how messages are being shared on Google+. The second, What’s Hot, helps users discover interesting and popular posts. Finally, Google+ has added Creative Kit, which introduces basic photo-editing functionality into Google+. Additionally, Google today announced that customers of Google Apps can now use their Google Apps username and password to sign up for Google+.Sharing Analytics Gets VisualWith Ripples, Google has added a visual layer of explanation around social sharing analytics. Ripples enables inbound marketers to see how their content is shared and which influencers help drive the most sharing activity. Trying to explain it doesn’t do it justice. You need to watch the video below to really understand Ripples in action.Trending Posts Comes to Google+Parody is rampant in the social networking industry. Twitter and Facebook have long helped users discover popular or trending topics in addition to most recent posts. The new ‘What’s Hot’ section on Google+ will appear after your regular updates section and use a special Google algorithm to rank popular stories. For a full explanation, check out the following video:Google+ Gets More Like InstagramWith Creative Kit, Google for the first time provides the opportunity for users to edit images in Google+. This makes Google+ much more similar to popular photo sharing service, Instagram. To view Creative Kit in action, check out this video from Google:Google Apps Users RejoiceMany companies and individuals use Google’s Apps product for a hosted version of popular Google apps like Gmail and Google Documents. As of today, Apps users can now sign up for Google+ using their Apps account. According to TechCrunch, Apps users will be able to share posts directly to other users within their organizations. Google is also building a migration tool, allowing existing Google+ users to port their personal accounts over to their Apps accounts. It isn’t done just yet, but Google says it will be in a few weeks.Marketing TakeawayThese new features are cool, but they aren’t exactly original. Marketers still need business profiles more than any of the new features Google announced today. However, take advantage of what Google provides. Ripples are clearly the most interesting feature for marketers. Understanding how your content is shared and who the top influencers are that cause the spread of your content is valuable. Look at Ripples for some of your content and gather data to improve your content creation and promotion efforts.How do you feel about these updates to Google+? Google Updates Topics:last_img read more

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How to Build Better Buyer Personas to Drive Killer Content

first_img Buyer Personas Originally published Jan 25, 2012 11:30:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Topics: Pick any day of the week, and there’s one thing on every inbound marketer’s to-do list:  creating new content . Marketers used to create content only when it suited their company’s internal needs – say, when they had a new product to promote. Well, inbound marketing forces you to give up that approach. But constantly coming up with new content can be overwhelming, and if you panic and start pushing out content that’s a bad fit for your audience, you risk attracting the wrong kind of visitor while driving away high-quality prospects.That’s why, like publishers, inbound marketers must have a detailed picture of their target audience in order to create optimal content for them. The best way to understand your audience is to build buyer personas with these 3 steps: segment by demographics, identify their needs, and develop behavior-based profiles. 1. Segment by Demographics Who are your ideal customers and prospects? What are their biggest concerns, needs, and interests? Where can you reach them – on search engines , social media , or blogs – and what kinds of content do they prefer? These types of questions will help you develop buyer personas. Personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers, based on real data about customer demographics and online behavior, along with educated speculation about their personal histories, motivations, and concerns.Start developing personas by researching your existing customer base to identify the most common buyers for your products and services. You may have several different types of buyers, so give each one a detailed description, including name, job title or role, industry or company info, and demographic info.For example, a community bank’s biggest customers may include small business owners and mothers managing the bank accounts for a family of four. In this case, the bank’s marketers might name these personas “Business Owner Bob” and “Martha, the Busy Mom,” and extrapolate details about their responsibilities, the typical size of their business or household income, what geographic region they’re in, and so on. 2. Identify Their Needs Based on those profiles, you can outline the pains, needs, and challenges of each persona by asking yourself several important questions: What are the biggest problems they are trying to solve? What do they need most? What information are they typically searching for? What trends are influencing their business or personal success? Analyzing the path that prospects take on the journey to becoming a customer is a great way to get insights about the needs and challenges of your target audience. If you use a marketing platform like HubSpot , you can see which search terms brought prospects to your site, how long they stayed on your site, which pieces of content they viewed, and which forms they’ve filled out. Such lead intelligence will help you make better decisions when identifying the characteristics of your ideal customers and ways to nurture your new prospects. 3. Develop Behavior-Based Profiles Next, develop a profile of each persona’s typical online behavior. You know who they are and what their needs are, now think about all the ways they research a potential purchase on your site or on others. Here are suggestions of the questions you should ask:What do they do online? Do they read blogs? Are they active on  Twitter , Facebook , or other social networks? What kind of search terms do they use? Are they email newsletter subscribers?What kind of information do they tend to consume online? Educational pieces? Trend articles? Interactive tools like calculators or worksheets? Do they watch videos or listen to podcasts?Which of your products do they spend the most time researching? How do they use those products?The result of this process should be a detailed description of your personas’ demographics, needs, and behavior. The more detail you pack into your persona development, the easier it will be to create content for each of your target customer segments and know where to promote it.Don’t look now, but you just put yourself on the path to a killer content strategy. This post is an adapted excerpt from our free ebook,  A Practical Guide to Killer Marketing Content .  To learn more about keeping those great content ideas flowing,  download the free ebook here! Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

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Everybody Loves Zombies? How the Undead Helped Build a Burger Empire

first_img Topics: Originally published Oct 24, 2014 6:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 My boss was in Des Moines, Iowa a couple weeks ago, and sent me this message:Subj: Zombie BurgerBringing you the menu from that zombie burger place. Such a cool content story. The co-owner’s childhood dream was to one day open a zombie themed restaurant. Three years in they’ve sold 1 million burgers! There is always a wait. Always.Took photos of artwork. We should write about them.Between you and me, he had me at zombies, but the “one million” certainly piqued my interest. What is this place? (Zombie Burger + Drink Lab in Des Moines, IA.) How’d they make it to one million burgers on a zombie theme? (Their food, branding & content had a lot to do with it.) And the burgers … they’re actually good? (Yep.) Like … really good? (Yeah, they have like 8,000 Facebook reviews raving about them.)I wanted to learn more. So I did what I always do when I want to learn more — Googled them — to see if I could get in touch with the owners. Along with finding their Facebook account with almost 50,000 Likes and glowing reviews on Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and UrbanSpoon, I found an email address on their crazy cool zombie-themed website and shot them a quick note to see if they’d be willing to talk. They responded in four minutes. I think I’m starting to get why these guys are killing it.I talked with the Paul Rottenberg, the co-founder of the restaurant, to learn more about their “zombie marketing strategy” and what’s made them so successful. Here’s what he had to say.Why zombies? Where’d the idea come from?The idea really started out by having the desire to do a chef-driven burger restaurant. My co-founder, Chef George Formaro, and I had done several upscale places, and we wanted to do a place that was more fun and casual. We talked a lot about what the theme would be, and my partner is a horror movie buff, so he wanted to do a horror theme originally. We looked at a number of places, and nothing turned up that we liked — but then when one did, George said he wanted to do a zombie place. This was 2009, so by the time we opened it looked like we were riding on The Walking Dead thing, but the idea started before it ever came out.So the zombie idea came from George. Were you equally enthusiastic about it?To tell you the truth, I had never even watched any movies about zombies. So when he told me about it, I started watching movies and documentaries and reading books. And I remained unconvinced we could carry the idea of great food and zombies — I was worried it might be a concept diners didn’t want to think about with their food. It took me about six months to sign on. In fact, on the original loan applications, I just called it a hamburger restaurant because I didn’t know how the bank would respond to a zombie-themed restaurant.But I eventually got sold on the idea. I was meeting with our third partner, Jeremy Reichart, telling him about the idea. He said he thought it was a great idea and we oughtta do it. I asked him, “Will you put up a third of the money?” And he said he would. When did you know your idea was a hit?Even before it opened. We got a ton of attention from the press and the public. Before we opened we had 5,000 Facebook Likes and won best hamburger restaurant in Des Moines.Before it opened?I know, it doesn’t seem fair does it? It just had so much top of mind awareness. On opening day, we were prepared to serve 800 burgers, and we sold out by 9:00 p.m. From the time the doors opened there was just a huge amount of interest.How does this restaurant differ from the other restaurants you’ve opened? Does it serve a different demographic for Des Moines?Well, it’s in a hip part of town. We thought it’d be a kitschy fun place for the cool, young demographic to hang out in. But it’s the broadest demographic of any business we’ve opened. From little kids to grandmas, white collar to blue collar, every walk of life. It’s universally appealing.Even something as polarizing as gore and horror?Yeah, it’s weird, isn’t it? I had my first inkling I was going down the right path when I went to file some paperwork and had to write down the name. The lawyer said, “Oh, that’ll be great. My son is reading about zombies, we love zombies.” And then my friends, who are quite a bit more conservative than me, said they watch zombie movies all the time — another friend of mine said, “My first date was a George Romero movie!”It looks like you took that interest and ran with it. The zombie theme pervades everything — from the menu to the decor to the artwork.Developing a zombie burger facility and space was a real exercise in marrying blood and gore content with food. It was a challenge to figure out how to tell that story without offending people. To help with that, the original concept was that zombies were outside — that you’re boarded up in this tavern — and then Ron Wagner, a comic book artist that did the murals, created a story about the apocalypse happening outside.Once we opened, though, it got edgier and edgier because customers said we could do more.So the customers played a role in the story’s development?Absolutely. After that we added Frank, the zombie mannequin, and a ton of other things because there was a demand to kick it up a notch. It got edgier and gorier because the customer said to do more.From a business standpoint, we say it’s good to start with a good idea — but to be successful you have to listen to what the customers want you to be. We call it “Food that doesn’t try to be smarter than the customer.” George could be a chef at a 5-star restaurant anywhere, but he likes putting out food that makes people feel good.You’ve got over 8,000 reviews on Facebook, nearly 50,000 Likes, over 8,000 Twitter followers. Tell me about how that social media presence grew — did the zombie theme just make it happen, or did you work at it?It was a combination of work and natural interest. I believe once you get up into the high numbers, it becomes exponential. People come to us now with things they want to do together — for example, a guy that draws zombie comics wants to get some eyes on that, and we’re a natural place for him to show his talents.Who runs the social media accounts?All our accounts (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) are managed in-house with much of the content coming from the chef, Tom McKern, and Karen Davis. Tom runs the kitchen as our executive chef, and he’s just an incredibly funny guy. Karen is our general manager and has a long history in the entertainment industry — she was the manager of a chain that does a combination of beer, food, and movies. So they’ve both got a good sensibility about what will work on social.So they’re responsible for the #zbbasicbitch account on Twitter?[Laughs] That’s one of our burgers … I think they were doing a hashtag with that, but did they start an account?Yeah, a follower tweeted the account — @zbbasicbitch — and tagged @ZombieBurgerDM. Tom did a #basicbitch burger that was a spoof on the pumpkin spice thing. That was one of the #TweakedOutThursday burgers. I bet it was Tom that did it, I’ll have to ask him, but I guess it could have been anyone — these things just kind of build on themselves.It sounds like most of your customers would probably find that funny, but then again, you serve a really wide demographic. Do you care if stuff like that offends people? How do you decide what’s too edgy?Yeah, I do care. And I probably represent the most conservative of the sensibilities. We had a meeting about naming this burger. Tom talked about the idea and I can’t remember what the original name was, but it was even edgier, and we decided that might be too far. When we released it, most people got it and thought it was funny.Did anyone complain?We got one complaint. But even she said she loved the restaurant, just didn’t like the name. I think our restaurant has been able to develop a relationship with its customer base that’s kind of edgy, so I’m careful not to rein in those guys too much. Tom avidly studies social and is aware of the latest trends, so I’m careful not to stifle his creativity — we’ve had some big successes because of those ideas.What are some of those successes that came from being creative and current?We did an Undead Hasselhoff burger. It got picked up all over the world. Germany loved it.When Jim Gaffigan was in town, Tom started tweeting with him, and Jim answered him. Tom said he was going to create an Undead Gaffigan burger when he was in town, and asked him what he wanted on it. Jim said he wanted bacon, cheddar, white bread, five patties (he’s got five kids), and jalapenos. The burger ended up being featured in his latest book.You’ve clearly got some creative people on staff — is one of them responsible for writing the zombie newspaper stories on the back of the menu, too?George’s brother Tom Formaro — not the chef, a different Tom — is a locally-based writer and he writes those. He just wrote a book called The Broken Heart Diet. He’s hysterically funny. We try to change them a few times a year, and we’ll build on whatever is current in the season. For instance, in 2016 we’ll have the Iowa caucuses, so in that menu edition we’ll likely write stories that spoof on the candidates.Will you take any position, politically?We’ll steer clear of taking any political positions. We’ve got customers who are radically liberal and radically conservative who love the restaurant equally — and love zombie movies.Who knew zombies were the great equalizer?I think the reason zombies work is it just seems okay to hurt zombies. You know, cuz they’re dead already.But first and foremost, what we want to do is just build a better burger restaurant. Every item we send out is made by our team — so if we’ve got breaded jalapenos, we’ve made them there. We have the machinery to grind the burgers and cut the fries. Because people wouldn’t come back if the food wasn’t good. When you’ve got 50,000 people talking about your burgers on Facebook, it can go both ways — you’ve gotta win the conversation with a good product if you’re going to make those conversations work for you.So the brand and the product are inextricable?No question. The food needed to work, the environment needed to tell the story, and it needed to be a comfortable, functional restaurant. You could just have one or two of those things, but it blew up because it had all of those. All of those things had to happen.Artwork from Zombie Burger + Drink Lab restaurant. Marketing Case Studies Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

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