Facebook Advertising 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 Jan 18, 2012 9:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Topics: It’s tough to nail down a successful Facebook advertising strategy unless you do some testing. However, testing Facebook ads, with all their nuances and constant updates, might seem scary. In this post, we’ll walk you through the basics and functions of Facebook ad split-testing.Understanding Facebook Ad CampaignsIn the Facebook Ads Manager, you arrange your ads into campaigns. A campaign is a group of similar ads that have the same purpose but slightly different variations. The chart below is just an example of how you can arrange your campaigns. The ads belonging to each campaign will be split-testing different variables. For instance, you can test different versions of an image or a title to find out the most effective one to use in your ad.6 Split-Testing Tips for Facebook Ads1. Change One Variable at a TimeYour main variables are the title, the picture, the copy, and the targeting.2. Keep Similar Ad ConditionsSame time of the day, same bid (although bid prices vary), same length of time, etc.3. Watch the ReportsIt may look like one ad did better than the other, but check the actual ‘Likes’ (fans) generated.4. Always Create a New AdDon’t try to tweak one that didn’t perform well. Facebook makes it easy to click on “Create a Similar Ad” so you preserve your settings.5. Try Split-Testing Your Destination Landing PageWhere do people land after they’ve clicked on your ad? Make sure the page is congruent with your message. If it’s your website, do you have the promised offer on the page? If you have the resources, you can also design two landing pages on your website where you send the traffic. In that way you, can optimize for a higher visitor-to-lead conversion rate.6. Rotate Your Ads OftenEven a well-performing ad will wear out its welcome. The ads are often served to the same audience several times, and if you aren’t rotating them every few days or when the CTR drops to 50% of its original value, you will be wasting your money.Here Is a Real-Life ExampleSome easy mistakes to make when split-testing Facebook ads is not testing the ad for a sufficient amount of time or letting it run too long and wasting your ad budget. A good comparison usually requires at least 20 clicks and requires that the ad run for at least two days. But clicks may not always be the best measure, depending on your targeting. You may want to run them for the same amount of impressions.Would you like to read more about advertising on Facebook? Download our free ebook, How to Create Epic Facebook Ads.
Just because other employees know they Reward your most prolific content creators. Originally published Jan 17, 2013 9:00:00 AM, updated October 20 2016 create guidelines they can follow contribute content, doesn’t mean they’ll feel comfortable doing so. This might stem from the misconception that they have to write like Shakespeare to get published on, say, your company blog. Let employees contribute to your blog in ways that best suit their talents. That could mean they create a video, an infographic, a SlideShare presentation, present data they’ve researched, or stick with the written blog post we all know and love. For instance, we work alongside a few extremely talented visual content creators, which is why fostered a content culture within their organizations. To create a company culture that celebrates content, it’s incumbent on leaders within your organization to communicate the benefits of being a published author. Explain to employees that having content published under their name will help establish themselves as thought leaders. That’s right, even hand I’ve found that the marketers who are most successful at sustaining a rapid pace of does Being a published thought leader helps them move upward within the company, and grow their careers. , this blog post is going to teach you how you can create a content culture within your company. If your employees can This blog post is written for those experiencing the latter. easily see for themselves how their content is directly contributing To make it easier for everyone to contribute, Creating content shouldn’t be reserved for just Marketing — or even just a couple people within Marketing. It’s natural to want Marketing to have a Encourage different content formats. to important company goals, like hitting Marketing’s leads goal, or Sales hitting their quota, you can bet people will be much more interested in creating content. I mean, how often does someone in, say, Support get to say they had a direct hand in generating new revenue? That’s a pretty good feeling. When I talk with inbound marketers about high quality content While fame is all well and good, sometimes a little friendly competition is all you need to get your company into the content creation spirit. For instance, let’s say you’re interested in getting more content about a particular subject matter on your blog to prepare for a product launch. Hold a contest to see who can write the blog post on that subject matter that gets, say, the most views, and reward the winner with a gift certificate. With a friendly competition like this, you’re winning on all fronts. You’ll get a higher volume of content, from a diverse set of people, on a subject matter that aligns with your goals; employees will get their name in flashing lights, some more thought leadership attached to their name, and maybe, a little moolah, too. In fact, we’ve seen this tactic work well in our favor to encourage contributions to this very blog! Poppycock. The content is a built-in online portfolio they can refer to years down the read. Reward these employees by highlighting their content and the specific results it achieved ( yesterday morning’s blog post was actually a SlideShare presentation Explain the benefit of being a published thought leader. ) in a public way. “Public” could mean your next marketing team meeting, your next company meeting, or even in an internal email or newsletter. Just be sure the content creator is present, and preferably some power players in your company, too 😉 you (Yes! You!) can be a thought leader! Here are a few benefits you can tell them to look forward to, the more they author and publish amazing content: Authoring content gets their name — and how wicked smart they are — visibility with important people, both inside and outside of your organization. ! Because the writer, Ryan Brown, totally rocks at creating visually compelling SlideShare presentations, why force him to write out a 1,000-word blog post when we have beautiful visual content at our fingertips that allows him to contribute to content creation? If they’re in a Sales or customer-facing role, it helps establish credibility with leads and customers. Topics: Finally, remember that your company culture comes from the top down. If you want to foster a culture that encourages content creation, that needs to come from the top down, too. Employees Communicate (and celebrate!) the bottom-line results can While enabling and encouraging content creation will help get people started, it won’t keep people going in the long term. To keep your entire company enthusiastic about the importance of contributing to content creation efforts, use numbers to communicate the impact it has on your business. Think about how much more meaningful it is to share that a blog post generated 10,000 page views, 50 inbound links, 20 new leads — two of which are poised to close this week — than to say, “Rachel wrote a really cool blog post last month. Good job!” content creation content drives. model executives’ behavior. So if the CMO isn’t blogging, some people might still blog; but if the CMO Content Creation If you’re starting your own business, growing your marketing department, starting a job at a new company, or just trying to motivate a shift in your company’s attitudes toward How do you foster a culture of content creators in your company? numbers are your friends here, marketers The first way is an exchange of tactics we’ve both employed to make content creation possible in the long term. The second way is detailing how difficult, sometimes nearly impossible, it is to keep up with the content creation pace they want to live up to. Play into people’s competitive spirit. in the content that goes out, but that doesn’t mean the entire burden needs to fall on your team’s shoulders. Instead, enable anyone in your organization to contribute content, from Sales, to Services, to Development. This is great because you’re getting content that highlights different perspectives and different areas of expertise, both of which make your content arsenal more well-rounded. Lead by example. Their content might lead to future opportunities, like speaking engagements, or being quoted as an expert in other publications. will Image credit: Some content is going to stand out among the rest — maybe it generates an unprecedented number of leads, maybe it gets picked up by a major publication, maybe it even goes viral! Reward the content creator for their innovation and brilliant execution, so you encourage other employees to strive to create this type of content. Enable anyone to contribute. create content on a regular basis, can you imagine how deep any other employee would have to dig to come up with the excuse for not also contributing? Pretty darn deep, I imagine. creation are the ones who have — specifically, how companies can create a sustainable internal content creation model — our conversations usually go one of two ways. content creation Kazarelth to make it more likely their content fits your publishing standards. You can even have content specialists on your team who train those extremely interested in contributing content on the types of editorial guidelines the marketing team follows. These folks — your marketing team’s “editors,” if you will — can be the ones who brush up the content you receive so everything that’s published aligns with the tone, style, and other guidelines you’ve established for your brand. Don’t forget to share this post! 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When we think of marketers, we often think of using social media to promote content and engage with consumers online. But this isn’t the reality for all marketers (even though it should be).When you’re working within the highly regulated finance industry, there can be legal implications for companies that are seen as being “over-promotional” on social networks like Twitter and Facebook. The result? Many finance marketers have hesitated to adopt social media, saying the risk isn’t worth the investment.The reality, though, is that even financial companies’ customers are spending a lot of their time online — and these customers expect to be able to reach brands through social media.Not only are people willing to do business with finance-related businesses online, they’re actually more likely to do business with you if you offer engagement online. Plus, social media is resulting in more and more qualified leads for businesses (both B2B and B2C) as well as other beneficial functions like amplifying the brand at a low cost, customer support and public relations (showing off corporate social responsibility, charitable donations, fundraisers, sponsorships, and so on).Investors are among the few members of the finance community to embrace social media. According to a digital survey of investors, people still look to companies for information to inform their investment decisions. More and more, they’re looking for that information on social media. Nowadays, 81% of high-net-worth investors are using social media. Will other branches of the finance industry join investors and find a way to commit to social media?For many finance marketers, the first hurtle is knowing where to begin. First, run your website through HubSpot’s Marketing Grader. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to think a little more big-picture. In this post, I’ll go through three things finance marketers can do to get started on social media.1) See what your competitors do well on social.What better way to start than by competitive analysis? If this is your first full venture into a comprehensive social media strategy, take a look at what everyone else is doing — and do it better.First, dive into your website analytics and decipher which social media channels your own traffic is coming from. This will help you to eliminate spending time researching your competitors on channels that aren’t currently working for you. You’ll get to those, don’t wory — but only once you’ve nailed down the top-priority channels.Next, list your top ten competitors and evaluate their social media channels. Take notes on what you find good and bad.What do people engage with?What day/time seems to be more effective? (You can use the “analyze” function in a tool called Followerwonk to figure this out.)Which topics resonate with their audiences?Which images, hashtags, tones of voice do they use?What types of images are they using as their header image/profile photos?How do they describe themselves?Get a real feel for the experience a visitor to these companies’ social media channels has.Here are a few tools that will help you with this step.Twitonomy (For Twitter)The detail in this app is unbelievable for a free tool. It’s well worth spending time dropping your competitors’ handles in here and seeing what conclusions you can draw for your own plans.Likealyzer (For Facebook)Likealyzer isn’t as thorough for Facebook as Twitonomy is for Twitter, but it has the added advantage of a dropdown list of industries so you can peruse the best and worst pages easily in the vertical you care about. Plus, it’s also free.RivallQFor a deep-dive/holistic competitive overview, RivallQ is an excellent resource, despite being a paid tool. Type in your competitors URLs, and drill down into all the major social networks except LinkedIn. You can find out meta descriptions, bios, level of content engagement, and more.At this point, you should have a good idea of your competitors’ activity and have a better sense of what you can achieve via your own social media channels. (For more information on how to get customers from social media, check out our ebook How to Acquire Customers on Social Media.)2) Develop a social media usage handbook and crisis plan for your employees.It’s no secret that finance marketers are restricted by stringent rules and regulations, terms and conditions, standards, and provisions, no matter what their sub-industry. Indeed, the recent guidelines published by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) set out guidelines by which U.K. financial marketers need to follow when it comes to social media promotion.Different regions around the world have different guidelines, so make sure to familarise yourself with any guidelines appropriate to you. Then, ask yourself: How can I get around these restrictions in 140 characters or less? Here are a few tips.Talk more about your customers than you do about yourself.One of the golden rules of social media is not to use it for purely self-promotional material. This is especially true if you’re bound by the regulated social media policies. Nobody’s interested in the person at the party that only talks about him/her self. Social media results rely on being social.It’s also often a good idea to have your more prominent company personalities available on a channel or two of social media. Take a look at the difference between these profiles: Topics: The @MoneySavingExp account was set up in May 2009, while @MartinSLewis (the human behind @MoneySavingExp) was set up in 2011. His personal account has 2X the followers and vastly more engagement than the generic business account.The takeaway here? A real face and a real voice is more trustworthy than a branded account alone. Plus — the business account only publishes updates about itself.So, how do you decide on what to post on the company social media accounts? The 10-4-1 rule is good place to start. For every 15 social media updates you post from a given account, 10 should be pieces of other people’s content, 4 should be your own blog articles, and 1 should be a landing page. Aim to be helpful and educational, not salesy.Point followers to your company’s terms and conditions.There’s little space for the vast list of required terms and conditions on social media posts. One way to get around it is to accompany your social media posts with an image that includes a message that terms and conditions apply, and where they can find them.Of course, all the better if your can include this in the main message (which you can do on Facebook). But for networks like Twitter that’s restricted to character limitations, the image solution works well.You’ll want to check out the social media guidelines in your region for best practices. If you want to see an example from the U.K., here’s a link to Section 1.13 of the UK’s social media guidelines for the finance industry.Be wary of implying misleading promises.It’s nice to get people excited with amazing statistics and enticing graphs. But it’s not-so-great when it can be misinterpreted as factual rather than merely possible.This is a common way compliance rules are broken. To avoid this, stick to stating truth and making people aware of potential losses. This doesn’t mean you have to be boring, just make sure to choose clarity and avoid misleading language.Join the conversation on topics aligned to your company, rather than specifically about your company.Find conversations happening around topics associated with your industry. Foller is a pretty new tool than can give you some pretty great insights into what people are talking about on Twitter within your industry. All you have to do is pop in your competitors’ handle and see which conversations they’re contributing to.For example, Allied Irish Bank’s social media team builds their Twitter campaigns around what their financial services enable people to do, not around specifically bank-related topics. Some of the hashtags they’ve used often include #thetoughest, #onegoodidea, #startup, #finals, and #savingselfie. They tweet about things their customers are interested in — like school and final exams. Try intregating some of the hashtags your competitors are using into your own Tweeting and become part of the conversation.Stay nimble.Staying current on social media can be a huge challenge for finance marketers. It’s rare that you would get pre-approval to post tongue-in-cheek updates on social media during major events like the Super Bowl, for example.For finance marketers, being responsive and current on social media usually means one thing: winning trust from the compliance department. Once you have their trust, you can grow the capacity to be more lenient over time.Sit down with your compliance team and develop a thorough social media policy and guidelines document together. (Here are a few examples of good ones.) Follow these guidelines to the letter, and make it clear that you’re doing so. After a couple of months of doing this, you should find it much easier to get quick pre-approval for your updates. Planning is absolutely key in finance. You should try to plan your content calendar a month in advance, which gives your compliance team time to approve any social media updates that need approving without any bottlenecks. (Here’s a great social media calendar template if you don’t have one already.)3) Plan regular training and crisis reaction sessions.Unfortunately, employees’ public social media accounts can sometimes be construed as speaking for the brand. This is why it is important to train in new employees, and to have training sessions when changes in the social media platforms’ rules are implemented.Here are a few tips:Recommend to your employees that they either make social accounts private or add a disclaimer to the bio stating, “Views expressed in this account do not reflect those of [Your Company Name].”Advise employees to see what items the company account is tweeting to get familiar with what bandwagons are acceptable to jump on, and what should be avoided.Lay some ground rules for the kind of content the company social accounts are allowed to curate and reshare/like/upvote, as well what’s NOT allowed to.Appoint a go-to person you’ll reach out to if you’re ever faced with a difficult scenario on social media, and don’t act until you have their advice on the next step.Have social media monitoring set up to catch negative messages before they get out of hand. (HubSpot customers: Monitoring is already a part of HubSpot’s Social Inbox tool.)Using social media in the finance industry can be challenging and frustrating. However, it should be seen as a vital part of your digital marketing strategy. Embrace it, use it, and use it well — while remaining within the confines of the law.Need some more guidance on how to integrate social media into your digital marketing plan as a finance marketer? Check out HubSpot’s new ebook, which is tailored specifically to marketers in the finance industry. Social Media Marketers Originally published May 13, 2015 4:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack
ScreenwriterMarketer Deliver a moral to the storyBenefit statements Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Topics: Create an obstacle to overcome Suggest a problem to solve Offer a reflection characterOffer customer testimonials So, it turns out that Hollywood screenwriters have quite a lot in common with professional marketers.First of all, there are thousands (if not millions) of both of them, all trying to make a living through forging a connection with an audience. Both the screenwriter and marketers’ job is to connect with a particular audience in order to increase sales, whether it’s box office tickets or machine parts, their jobs are very similar.Most recognize the need to emotionally connect with their audience and most recognize the importance of key ingredients to their job including the need to: Be Human, Be Vulnerable and Be HonestThe temptation to showcase your products and services as the best thing since sliced bread can be overwhelming. Naturally, as a storyteller charged with adding value to your business, it’s natural to live in the world that talks about the benefits of what you’re selling and why it’s so amazing.Something that virtually nobody does is write about a situation that went wrong. Why would you ever reveal your flaws or failures? How would that help you sell more product?When we fail, we chalk it up to experience, we learn and we move on. If you can talk about those epic failures honestly, you can also demonstrate how you’ve become better and more valuable because of those experiences.When is the last time you saw a case study page on a website listing a long line of epic failures? You’ll certainly stand out from the crowd, endear yourself to your audience and probably become more credible to them than by talking about a string of victories.When you’re honest about your shortcomings it inspires two reactions in the people you’re talking to. You come across as caring (and you are, right?) because your end customers’ experience with your brand matters to you. Being honest about your flaws shows that you don’t want them to be disappointed.Secondly, people start to trust you. If you’ve nothing to hide then people have no reason to be suspicious of you. If you’re not wheeling out the smoke and mirrors to try and blindside your customer base then you instantly become more likable. The old adage that people buy from people they trust has never been truer when it comes to laying it all out in the open.Dove took the bull by the horns when it comes to making themselves vulnerable as a brand. Exposing the beauty industry’s obsession with using a very limited selection of women in their advertising and marketing, Dove redressed the balance by using a wider selection of female models to sell their products. This move took guts because they implicated themselves as colluding in a long-criticized advertising standard while also taking clear and transparent steps to move beyond it. And now? They have a digital community of millions of loyal and inspired customers all over the world. Sometimes vulnerability can be very worth it!The Bottom LineSo, ‘Save the Cat’ or ‘Save your Marketing’? You’ll have to decide that one but I know it gave me plenty of food for thought during the research phase of writing Getting Goosebumps. It turns out marketers have a lot more in common with other professional storytellers than you might initially presume.I’ve read the tricks and techniques of stand-up comedians, political leaders and even professional pick up artists during the writing of the book. It turns out that, as a profession, marketing has a lot to learn from all corners of the storytelling world. Yep, even pick up artists…If you have come across any other examples of professions that us marketers can learn from to make us better storytellers, I would love to hear about it.And finally, I’d also love to know what you think of our finished book, Getting Goosebumps. It includes more insights into how marketers can connect emotionally with an audience with tons of great examples from different industries about how to craft a compelling story.Start to really understand your audience and figure out exactly who they are by downloading our free guide to persona and empathy mapping. You’ll win their hearts and minds once you start crafting great content just for them! Buyer Personas Originally published Jun 17, 2015 4:00:00 PM, updated February 01 2017 Both are storytellers. Unfortunately most of them, despite being decent storytellers, are failing to make that emotional connection sufficiently to make a difference and this is of particular interest to me.The mechanics of a good story have been studied and well documented in both worlds, yet still there is a wealth of stories that just don’t cut the mustard.Now I love movies, I love writing about marketing and I’m sometimes also guilty of procrastinating over one to talk about the other. One particular afternoon I was having lunch with a friend during a break from researching my book, Getting Goosebumps. Whilst chatting about what I should have been doing at the time, my good friend, Glynn was listening to me draw parallels between movies and marketing and started to get quite excited. At first, I thought his excitement was due to such a profound parallel I was drawing, however it turned out to be something else. Randomly, Glynn had just read a brilliant book about Hollywood screenwriting. He read this book in less than 48 hours, couldn’t put it down, and the same was about to happen to me. Amazon Prime served me well and in less than a day I was part man, part book for 48 hours too.The mechanics of good marketing storytelling seem to be a little more basic than the twists and turns, sub-plots and character development you can find in Hollywood. However, I was convinced the two worlds had more to offer each other and this book was about to let me in on the secret that Hollywood had kept from marketers for far too long.Hollywood screenwriters have been ‘saving cats’ for years – this was the one thing I’d been looking for… Let me explain.The late Blake Snyder, author of ‘Save the Cat’, sums up the reason for some movies being a hit and others being a complete flop, regardless of budget, lead actors, special effects and every other whistle and bell that Hollywood has to offer.If you don’t like the hero, you don’t like the movie.Snyder explains that in the first 10% of all successful Hollywood movies, something happens, something is said or the hero does something to provide a very good reason for the audience to like them. He calls this, the ‘Save the Cat’ moment.Now, this doesn’t mean all heroes need to physically save a cat from a tree (although that would probably work). But they do need to do something that operates along the same principle.Even if the hero is the meanest, most evil genius on the planet, if they do something to endear themselves to the audience in the first 10% of the movie, the audience can settle down, content that they like the hero and the story can continue to unfold.A Modern ExampleDisney writers are old masters at this concept. When they first wrote Aladdin, they faced a problem. Aladdin was originally a thief; he stole things from people for his own benefit and he wasn’t such a likable guy. After several re-writes of the screenplay, the opening sequence now included Aladdin stealing some food, only to give it to a couple of street urchins that were in greater need than him.Just to make sure the likeability factor was as high as possible, the two street urchins immediately found themselves in danger, about to be whipped by a rich suitor for the princess. Who steps in to catch the whip and get the children out of harm’s way? Why it’s our hero, Aladdin, of course!Aladdin is now safe to continue with the main plot with the full backing of the audience. We like him, we want him to win and it’s all due to the addition of the ‘Save the Cat’ scene.I could write about these examples all day. Top Gun – Maverick flew back to guide Cougar home after he freaked out at nearly being killed by enemy Migs, despite being low on fuel. Heist – Gene Hackman leaves his mask off during a robbery in order to distract an innocent woman in the bank, despite being caught on the security cameras. You get the idea now, right? OK, so now you’re in on the secret mechanism used by great Hollywood screenwriters, what do you do with this information, apart from shout, ‘Save the Cat’ every time you see the scene in a film! (It’s a great game to play but only if everyone is in on it – don’t do this in movie theaters without being prepared to be thrown out!).How can us marketers use this technique within our story telling to encourage your audience to like your brand right from the start?Set the Scene and Provide ContextTake a sufficient amount of time to set up a scenario before jumping straight into the features and benefits of your product or service. Your audience needs to understand the relevance of your story and its apparent value to someone else before you can talk about yourself.It’s really important for brands to pay attention to context when storytelling. You could be creating amazing content every day but if you’re putting it in front of the wrong people it’s meaningless. In today’s saturated marketplace, personalized, relevant and contextually appropriate marketing is how you get your audience to love you from the off!Be FunnyConsider using humor in some way to explain a situation or to break the ice with your audience. humor is a great way to draw your audience in to a story before they’ve decided whether to buy into the whole shooting match just yet.Humor is such an important and fundamental aspect to the human personality. It’s a direct and authentic way into a potential customer’s emotional decision making. Most buying decisions are emotional ones, so if you can provoke some humor then you’re well on your way to engaging with your audience and they’re more likely to remember you that way.In Hollywood, writers sometimes use humor as the single redeeming feature of an otherwise unlikable character to make the audience laugh and find something to like about the character. We’ve all met grumpy angry characters before – the world is full of people that just aren’t very nice. But, if they have a sharp wit and they can make you laugh, their jokes save the day every time.Danny DeVito has played many a leading role whereby he’s a horrible, angry man. In ‘Twins’, we’re introduced to him sleeping with someone else’s wife, he double crosses Arnie and steals from him multiple times. But, he’s got this amazing angry wit that’s just so likable. The second the audience sees this side to him that, believe it or not, is his ‘Save the Cat’ moment!A brilliant example of a brand that wasn’t afraid to inject some humor into their marketing is television channel TNT. They set up a big red button on a podium in the middle of a quiet, unremarkable square in Belgium. Above it hung a sign, in the shape of a giant arrow, saying “Push to add drama.”People being people, it wasn’t long before a curious passer-by took the plunge and pressed the mysterious button. What follows is a sequence of increasingly weird events, a fight between a paramedic and a cyclist, a football team carrying a man on a stretcher, a woman in shocking red underwear riding a motorbike, all topped off with a banner that falls from a nearby building, proudly proclaiming “Your Daily Dose of Drama : TNT”Why does it work? Well, who could possibly forget something so out of the ordinary, ratcheting up the tension on an unsuspecting public? When the marketing message is revealed it is filled with knowingness and a natural sense of humor that you’ll struggle to forget the scenes you’ve just seen. As marketers, if you can be fun and memorable, that’s half of your battle won! Define a heroDefine a brand Provide a goal to strive for Provide a goal to strive for Be Brilliant at SomethingWe all admire an outstanding talent or ability. It can be as simple as Marty demonstrating how good he is at skate boarding at the start of ‘Back to the Future’ or Mitch McDeere, clearly being the outstanding, superior A-grade law student that everyone wants to hire at the start of ‘The Firm’.You don’t have to be lovable to be liked if you’re a genius. However, this one comes with a health warning. If straight out of the blocks you lead with, ‘look at me I’m amazing’ it can be very difficult to recover and the audience can be turned off quickly.I recommend demonstrating your genius carefully by using your customer as the hero, or even portray the genius of your customer for using you as the solution to their problem. Nobody likes a smart-ass so be careful how you showcase your brilliance.Mitch was also waiting tables to pay for college. Marty was cool, but also a flake who was caught being late for school which gave us insight into the endearing character flaws and traits we could also identify with.One of my all-time favorite examples of a brilliant brand being…well, brilliant while simultaneously making their customers the hero of their story, is WestJet Airlines’ 2013 Christmas marketing campaign. This is an example we look really deeply into in Getting Goosebumps.WestJet asked their passengers what they wanted for Christmas before they boarded a busy, holiday time flight using an interactive Santa on a TV screen. A nice touch? Sure! But that’s not where it ended.In the time it took the flight to get from Toronto to Hamilton, WestJet had bought every passenger’s Christmas wish, which were left gift-wrapped and waiting for them on the luggage belt. You don’t really have to look any further to find a brand that knows exactly how to make their marketing all about their customers, while managing to make themselves look pretty brilliant in the process.As viewers we’re left in no doubt that this is a business that cares.
This year, 73% of content creators plan to prioritize creating more engaging content, while 55% plan to prioritize creating visual content, according to a report from Content Marketing Institute. This means more infographics, more social media images, more video content, and more visually appealing advertisements. What constitutes as visually appealing advertisement?In short: A lot of things. It needs to be simple, on-brand, targeted, actionable, understandable … the list goes on. To help you and your team better understand the underlying mechanisms that go into the creation of a compelling visual ad, check out the infographic below from Bannersnack. They’ve provided everything you need to know about visual ad creation in one infographic — and they’ve alphabetized it. 81Save81Save Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Visual Content Originally published May 6, 2016 6:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017
Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Marketing Case Studies Topics: 2) Outdoor VoicesChanging the fitness narrative.This indie fitness apparel brand is poised to dethrone long-reigning powerhouse Lululemon as the dominant force in the $100 billion athleisure space. Founded by a 27-year old graduate of Parsons The New School for Design, Outdoor Voices sets itself apart in a crowded market by focusing on accessibility above all else. While other fitness brands preach a credo of high-performance workouts and no excuses, Outdoor Voices stands behind a much more attainable motto: “Doing things is better than not doing things.”The casual, authentic approach to working out shines through in its advertising. The brand’s first campaign was a simple Instagram hashtag — #DoingThings — that invited users to highlight the ways that physical activity is naturally woven into their day-to-day routines. The campaign’s approachable sentiment resonated with young consumers and led ultimately to the inaugural Doing Things Day, a fundraiser to fight childhood obesity.The brand’s blog also manages to champion the accessible side of fitness, featuring posts about light and social exercise ideas, such as how to play frisbee and stretches you can do at the office.Image Credit: Outdoor Voices3) BandierMaking brick-and-mortar worth the trip.A three-story, 10,000-square-foot space might seem a bit ambitious for a startup fitness apparel boutique, but there’s a catch: Bandier only uses one floor to actually sell its high-end merchandise. The rest of the multi-use space is devoted to lounges, music, events, and food. The top floor even hosts a fitness studio, offering a wide selection of playfully named classes — like “New York Pilates” and “Yoga for Bad People.” Converting traditional brick-and-mortar spaces into multi-purpose venues for social events and other activities is a growing trend among retailers. When people have the option to shop online, it takes considerably more effort to get them off the couch and through the doors of a flagship store.But Bandier’s expansion into a hybrid retail and event space is unique for its industry. The athletic apparel space might be a booming market, but the vast majority of brands are adhering to a digital-first ecommerce business model, avoiding permanent storefronts altogether. “We don’t have competition in the format that we are in,” said Neil Boyarsky, one of the stores’s founding partners. “Other companies sell activewear online, but they don’t have brick and mortar.”The risky business model has paid off. Bandier already has multiple locations in the U.S. and is looking to expand into Europe. Image Credit: Racked NY4) Kit and AceRedefining fitness apparel for luxury consumers.Founded by the former head designer of Lululemon and her son, Kit and Ace has carved out a uncommon niche for itself as the athleisure brand for the luxury market. While other fitness brands are immediately recognizable for their flashy patterns and neon color schemes, Kit and Ace has positioned itself as the grown-up antidote. Its subdued palette and classic tailoring is more reminiscent of Banana Republic than Nike, enabling the brand to comfortably straddle the line between fashion week and yoga class.So what actually makes its clothing athletic apparel? It’s all in the materials. Namely, its signature “technical cashmere”: a stretchy fabric made from synthetic materials and a hint of real cashmere sourced from mountain goats.More important than the fabric itself — which is flying off the shelves — is the way they market it. Cashmere isn’t the main component of “technical cashmere”, but adding it to the name certainly screams high-end. And its not stopping at that; the brand is perfecting a stretchy athletic silk-based material as well: “technical silk”.By giving an athletic update to traditional luxury fabrics, Kit and Ace has been able to break into the upper echelons of the fashion universe — a place no athleisure brand has been before.Image Credit: Christopher Deagle5) EVEN HotelsAdapting to a powerful demographic.IGH hotel group saw a gap in the travel market for health and fitness-centric hotels, and it decided to fill it. EVEN Hotels presents travelers with an appealing alternative to the typical gluttonous breakfast buffets and crowded leisure pools of most hotel chains. Health-conscious travelers can expect world-class fitness centers, standing work stations, high-end spas, and a carefully curated menu of healthy food options — complete with small dessert portions (because even health nuts enjoy some balance).As part of its marketing plan to make a big impression on the wellness industry, the brand launched Wellwellwell by EVEN Hotels, a hub for articles on how to remain healthy while traveling. The initiative has allowed EVEN Hotels to capture thought leadership real estate in the coveted health junkie space. Articles such as The Best Restaurants for Vegan Travelers and Secrets to Staying Fit During Wedding Season deeply resonate with its target demographic.EVEN Hotels is a perfect example of how the fitness craze doesn’t stop at the gym or even with gym clothes. The wellness industry commands significant consumer power, and other industries can benefit from catering to the health-conscious.Image Credit: EVEN Hotels6) LarkDeveloping an accessible and personal approach to wellness.What if you could carry a health coach around in your pocket? Lark is just that: an app designed to monitor your movement, ask about your meals, and help you be healthier through friendly, natural conversations. For example, if you tell Lark that you ate “bacon and eggs” for breakfast, the bot will kindly remind you, “That’s the third time this week you’ve had bacon,” and offer up some better alternatives. It’s all about changing behavior patterns. “The interface of empathetic coaching and chatting, having a conversation with people, is a big part of that,” explained CEO and co-founder Julia Hu.The App Store has no shortage of fitness apps, so what really sets Lark apart? It takes a more holistic approach to health, forgoing the tedious calorie and mile trackers of other fitness apps in favor of personalized recommendations and positive reinforcement. Lark knows when you’ve been stationary for too long and encourages you to get up and go for a quick walk. It monitors your sleep patterns and knows when you might need to clock in a few more hours. Most impressively, it acknowledges when you make progress, cheering you on for the extra mile or when you reach for an apple instead of chips.Lark’s human touch comes from real health coaches. “We basically cloned tens of thousands of conversations and interventions that these health experts knew would be effective in helping people get more active and eat healthier and sleep better,” Hu said.Image Credit: LarkFeatured image credit: Outdoor Voices When every new knick-knack on the block is labeled “disruptive” within an hour of its launch, how do we know if something actually breaks new ground?The fitness industry is a perfect case study for real innovation. Estimated to be the next trillion dollar market, it’s proof that people are more than willing to shell out for pricey equipment, clothing, apps, and tech to improve their workouts and health. But even among constant giants such as Nike and Weight Watchers, people are always looking for the next big thing to emerge.These six little-known fitness brands are each redefining the fitness space with their business models and advertising tactics. Their ability to carve out lucrative niches in a crowded market is impressive, and any business looking to re-vamp their image should take note.6 Innovative Fitness Brands1) PelotonUsing tech to revitalize studio fitness.This tech-driven cycling startup offers fitness aficionados and amateurs alike an at-home alternative to SoulCycle’s studio classes. Cycling workouts are streamed live from the company’s New York studio, and anyone with Peloton’s touch screen-equipped stationary bike can tune into the action.While the adrenaline rush is surely a powerful lure for riders to keep on peddling through multiple classes, the brand wants to make the social element addictive. Currently, users can follow each other’s remote workout activity streams and share their progress on Facebook. But they want to take it a step further. The company’s Vice President of Community Jayvee Nava has been working to cultivate a sustainable community on Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube to get Peloton’s 12,000 riders more socially invested. “The group fitness experience needs people to feel that community part,” Nava explained to Fast Company.It seems to be working so far. Peloton has developed an undeniable cult following, and its new CMO Lori Marcus thinks the biggest challenge for the company has been clearly communicating to the public what they actually do. To remedy this, Peloton recently enlisted the help of agency Partners & Spade to spin up a “comprehensive brand refresh” in the form of print and TV ads aimed at educating consumers. Originally published Aug 15, 2016 5:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017
At a conference in June, a Facebook VP said that in five years time the platform would be “all video.” That’s a bold statement, but it’s not unbelievable if you’ve scrolled through your News Feed lately.And one of the biggest drivers behind the growing prevalence of video is Facebook Live, which only was introduced in April of this year, but has since become a major distribution channel for both publishers and brands. Mashable has promised to stream 35 hours of live video per month, and The New York Times is streaming four live broadcasts every day, according to Advertising Age. These in-the-moment, authentic videos are capturing the attention of Facebook users, and it’s time to take advantage of the feature for your own brand. Going live on Facebook isn’t complicated — the platform has made it so anyone can stream with their mobile device and access to the internet. But there are a few best practices for live streaming, promoting your event, and driving engagement that will ensure your broadcast impresses your audience and drives new fans to your brand. Learn how to start broadcasting with our new online guide — The Guide to Facebook Live. In this guide, you’ll get:Tips on setting up your next live streamInspiration on the types of content to broadcastStrategies for driving viewers to your Live eventClick here to download your copy of The Guide to Facebook Live today. Facebook Marketing Originally published Oct 6, 2016 6:00:00 AM, updated February 01 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 SlackSlack
Pick a “good” client that utilizes the majority, if not all, of the data systems used to support their media strategy.Gather the account and media teams that support this client around a whiteboard.Build a measurement strategy. The teams should work together to review/develop the key performance indicators (KPIs) needed to demonstrate value for this client.Build a data strategy. Identify all of the data systems that contain the key data metrics needed to support the measurement strategy and make a list for each system.Build a reporting strategy. In a single page dashboard, mock-up a report design of what the elements would be to demonstrate the value of the campaign.Launch a data engine. Implement a process to bring all of this data together into a single source to enable the use of any reporting/data visualization tool to make these strategies come to life.While I have used this recipe for success for the past ten years, success ultimately begins with a change in thinking and a desire to have your agency operate like Analytics Annie. Without this desire and commitment, the agency simply won’t be successful in analytics long-term. APIs are usually preferred, but not all source systems have APIs. Often times, they simply aren’t very good. In other cases, some data (like TV buys) lives in files instead of in a system.Most agencies, however, run very lean and instead rely on external marketing data management platforms. These platforms already have all the API and ETL connections in place so that agencies are able to authenticate their media sources and get access to their consolidated data very quickly.Move from Reporting to AnalysisRegardless of the solution, the Marketing Marys of the world can reduce their reporting prep time by up to 90% once they fix their data collection problem.A marketer’s time shouldn’t be spent collecting the information, or even reporting on it. It should be spent using that information to optimize their marketing efforts and increase gains (achieving goals).That’s why Analytics Annies are the stars of the marketing world. They have the time to dive into the meaning of the data, develop insightful recommendations and do actual analysis, not just build reports. Analytics Annies are so successful in their role because they:Automatically update their reporting nightly.Optimize budgets across all channels with clear attribution modeling.Consolidate their offline and online media performance to a single chart.Roll up all their agency-wide metrics into a single holistic view. Love it or hate it, data is essential to any agency professional’s existence.And where there’s data, there’s reporting. Marketers can’t and (shouldn’t) avoid reporting, so they have to increasingly become proficient with it.As clients have become more knowledgeable and demanding about reporting, their analysis and insights expectations have become higher. This adds additional stress to agency teams trying to manage more data, more frequently, and from more media sources.Subscribe to HubSpot’s Agency newsletter today.Data analysis can often seem like a painful burden, and marketers today are either avoiding it, or going crazy trying to make sense of the data overload by purchasing reporting tools to solve their problem.This leads us to wonder how the Marketing Marys and Analytics Annies of the agency world are solving their own marketing data reporting problems. With the sheer number of data sets to analyze, decipher and review, the life of marketing reporting analyst is becoming ever more complex.So how are agencies approaching this data problem? Let’s take a look at a day in the (reporting) life of Marketing Mary and Analytics Annie, each responsible for client reporting at their respective agencies.The Story of Two MarketersIt’s the first day of the month and Marketing Mary is starting the “Data Death March:” the painful task of manually gathering media channel data for month-end client reporting. This can take days — sometimes weeks of effort — only to spit out a basic report recapping what happened last month that the client will hopefully read.For Analytics Annie, the first day of the month is no different than any other day. She opens a client report (automatically refreshed with current media results), begins to analyze performance and develops timely, insightful recommendations to share with her client.Annie’s reports aren’t just a spreadsheet of numbers — they are factual bits of information organized in an easy-to-read report that shows not only the state of the union — but what and how to improve their marketing efforts.Data First, Then ReportingSo what’s the difference between Marketing Mary and Analytics Annie? Many might say Analytics Annie has a fancy data visualization tool to make her reporting automated. And they may be right — or she could actually just be looking at a report in Excel.The real reason Analytics Annie is able to spend her time on impactful analysis for her clients has nothing to do with her reporting tool of choice. It’s because she solved her underlying media data collection problem by way of automation.Mary, at some point, likely succumbed to using a data visualization tool for her reporting that promised all the bells and whistles. It looked good, seemed simple to use, and was going to take all the pain away to allow her agency to make reporting for all her clients effortless.But the tool wasn’t even collecting the necessary data to begin with. The challenge Mary was facing wasn’t a tool problem, it was a data problem. Without having the underlying data in a usable format to begin with, she was still manually gathering and preparing her media data, leaving no time for analysis.She put too much faith in the tool to solve her reporting problems that in the end, all she had was prettier dashboards, but not better or faster ones.Because Annie knew that she had to solve her data collection problem first, it made finding the right reporting tool much easier to justify and use, freeing up her time for analysis.A Single Source of TruthSolving the underlying media and marketing data aggregation problem is both simple and complex. The simple part? You need one single location (like a data warehouse or a marketing data management platform) to store all of your media data together.The hard part? Automating the data collection into the warehouse, building relationships between the disparate data sources, cleaning up jacked campaign tracking parameters and maintaining the integrity and accuracy of the data.A few agencies with large teams dedicated full-time to managing the agency’s data platform can do it in house using a data warehouse, like Amazon Redshift. If you do it yourself, you need to input the data in an automated fashion. Typically this will happens in two ways: Using History to Drive PlanningWhen you fix your agency’s approach to data and integrate all media channel data for all clients in one single location, the agency’s ability to drive data-driven media planning and forecasting exponentially increases.For Mary, client media planning revolves around crawling through monthly presentations, tracking down historical spreadsheets from different team members, and pulling an all-nighter in a conference room with bad takeout food to piece together some sort of educated plan for the client — only to know that this exercise is the first of many to come.For Annie however, simply accessing her single source of truth to analyze all media performance over a number of years, visualize media mix patterns and changes, and aligning these patterns to spend and performance, happens dynamically within a few minutes.Not only does this approach yield real data-driven planning grounded in accurate data, Annie is spared the heartburn and fatigue from the all-nighter and greasy takeout food.Building a Winning Data ApproachIn this scenario, Marketing Mary represents what most agencies are struggling with today. In fact, I think it is safe to say that most agencies have historically treated analytics as a means to justify their strategies and tactics. This lack of focus has created thousands of exhausted Marketing Marys everywhere in the agency industry.To fix the marketing data problem, agencies need a data engine and a solid analytics strategy. The steps below are a good place to start: Topics: Originally published Nov 29, 2016 5:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Build APIs into the source systems.Create an ETL process to upload source files. Data-Driven Marketing Don’t forget to share this post!
In my last internship, my manager told me a funny story about her 18 year-old brother after he visited the office one day. And it made me realize I officially don’t understand the teenage mind anymore.After meeting me for a mere two minutes, he wanted to add me — the only other person around who looked like they could’ve just graduated high school — on Snapchat, so we could start a Snapstreak.I knew what Snapstreaks were, but I didn’t get why he wanted to add a random guy on Snapchat just to start one. I mean, it was cool he seemed to identify with me. But why do today’s teenagers value Snapstreaks so much that they’d add any fellow Gen-Zer to their most personal social network and commit to messaging them everyday?Download our free Snapchat guide to learn how to use it for your business. Let’s back up before we delve too deeply into philosophical questions about Gen Z’s social media habits. If you’re above the age of 25, you might not know what a Snapstreak even is.What is a Snapstreak?A Snapstreak occurs when two people have sent each other Snapchats back and forth for more than three consecutive days. When you start a Snapstreak with someone, you’ll see a fire emoji next to their name in the app. The number next to the fire emoji indicates how long the Snapstreak has been going.Snapchat will notify you when one of your Snapstreaks is about to end by putting an hourglass emoji by that friend’s name. And if one of your Snapstreaks ends, but you know you and your friend snapped each other back and forth within the 24-hour window, you can report the error to Snapchat.You might think it’s silly that falsely expired Snapstreaks have sparked so much user backlash that Snapchat needs a customer support team for the issue. But, for some teenagers, a fire emoji next to someone’s name is an extremely meaningful indicator of friendship.Snapstreaks Indicate FriendshipA long Snapstreak is concrete evidence for a close friendship. It proves the two friends are committed to talking to each other everyday. So if someone claims they’re close with someone, then their Snapstreak with that person should be long. Some teenagers even bring up their Snapstreaks in conversation with peers to prove the quality of these friendships.But teens don’t just value the length of their Snapstreaks. They also value the quantity of their Snapstreaks. Having a lot of Snapstreaks is impressive because it means you talk to a lot of people. And the more people you talk to, the more popular you must be. Along these lines, the number of Snapstreaks you have is like a popularity score.When teenagers accidentally end Snapstreaks, it can ruffle some feathers, especially if the streak spans over a year. Since both friends invested a portion of their day for an entire year to maintain the Snapstreak, unintentionally ending it can make them feel like all that time and effort went to waste. The pain can sting so bad that teens will even Snap each other in the middle of the night to save their Snapstreak from expiring.Snapstreaks might just seem like a game or a superficial way to prove popularity, but a lot of teens realize it’s an excuse to connect with their friends everyday. Teenagers value Snapstreaks more than any other Snapchat metric like story views or Snapchat score because they know starting a streak with someone can lead to actual conversation. By using Snapstreaks as a reason to talk everyday, they can strengthen their friendships. Originally published Mar 15, 2018 6:00:00 AM, updated March 15 2018 Don’t forget to share this post! Snapchat Marketing Topics:
While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. Major announcement coming later on tonight!!— Caleb Chandler (@DatBoyCC) January 6, 2017 #FlippinFridayBaby ????@CowboyFB_Elite Confirmed Flip!!! #GAConnection5️⃣5️⃣ set OVisit date‼️#RareBreedOL17 #OkState #GABeast #LETSRIDE pic.twitter.com/h3OO4lVgsN— Coach Arroyo?OREGON® (@coacharroyoTheO) January 6, 2017 Some major news appears to be coming — and with Arroyo’s batcall, it could be in Oklahoma State’s favor. And for OSU looking for a big bully offensive lineman to come in and contribute quickly, Chandler fits that bill. After losing the commitments of two highly rated offensive line recruits in December, Oklahoma State is on the prowl to bolster it’s big men up front before signing day in a month.Enter Caleb Chandler, a 6-foot-5, 300-pound offensive tackle recruit from Jefferson, Georgia, whom Oklahoma State extended an offer to earlier this week. 247sports ranks him as a four-star prospect, and he has 32 Division I scholarship offers that includes Louisville, Florida, Oregon, TCU and a whole bunch of others which you can check out here.Despite the crowded group of schools vying for his attention, Oklahoma State appears to be gaining some real steam in his recruitment. So much so that there may be some big news coming out of Georgia in favor of OSU on Friday night. Coach Marcus Arroyo sent this tweet alluding to some potential good news, and shortly after, Chandler himself signaled a “major announcement” was coming on Friday evening:
The Reload is PFB’s recruiting recap, catching you up to speed with the latest scoop with an ear to the ground for what’s to come.OL coach visits top targetOn the first day of open recruiting, offensive line coach Greg Adkins made a stop in the Houston area to make an in-home visit with 2017 OL Eleseah Anderson.https://twitter.com/eleasahanderson/status/819748684116226057Anderson is an Alief Taylor High School prospect. The 6-foot-4, 280-pound mammoth is also considering offers from Baylor, TCU, Houston, Kansas, K-State and OSU.2017 defensive tackle commitment making official visit to TCUI mentioned this was happening earlier last week, but the date is officially set: 2017 defensive tackle commitment Fua Leilua is visiting Fort Worth for an official to TCU this weekend.Despite his commitment, which would be considered a “soft verbal”, Leilua is still hearing pitches from OSU coaches. He hosted defensive line coach Joe Bob Clements for an in-home visit earlier on Thursday.https://twitter.com/jlei44/status/819753453740322816He’s narrowed it to OSU and TCU, so the visit this weekend could go a long ways as to whether the Cowboys can hang on to his pledge.OSU commitments get visits from coachesOSU coaches on the trail yesterday paid several visits to commitments. Here’s 2017 safety pledge Trey Sterling:Great home visit with OSU tonight! Can’t wait to be a poke ? pic.twitter.com/isxkJ5cwvw— Tre Sterling (@sterling__trey) January 13, 2017And Gundy and Kasey Dunn visiting Tracin and Tylan Wallace.@OfficialTylan2 @TracinWallace @kasey_dunn @CoachGundy The only Picture taken last night…Thanks for making the process so easy and fun! pic.twitter.com/YCYuA3vp1Y— Mandi Moore (@mandimoore74) January 13, 20172017 WR commit LC Greenwood.https://twitter.com/lc_greenwood/status/819704437929312256And finally, 2017 FB/TE commit Sione Finefeuiaki.https://twitter.com/sione_9/status/819775036638662657With the live period now in full swing, coaches will be on the trail hard over the next few days working to close the deal with recruits already committed, and trying to bring in the last few into the fray before signing day the first of February. While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.
While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. Brandon Weeden recently made it back for an Oklahoma State spring practice, and he talked about the team and his time there in an interview with Allison Gappa.“I’m impressed,” said Weeden of the team at the beginning of April. “I told all the coaches — especially Coach Glass — that these guys look different than when I was a sophomore or a freshman.“We had some good looking athletes but especially D-line and some of these receivers. I’d be the shortest guy in the quarterback room. Guys look good. Playing fast, which I like to see.”Weeden was particularly enthralled with the Mason Rudolph-James Washington twosome because of how it reminded him of himself and No. 81.“I’m sure they’re going to break every record we ever set, and I hope they do,” said Weeden. “I hope they do. I’m excited for Mason more than any of them.”Yes, this is probably true. Rudolph probably will end up with all the career QB records. But Weeden will still have him from a per-season perspective.Either way, it’s pretty cool to hear the best QB1 in school history comment on the one who will probably go down as the second best.We caught up with @bweeden3 at practice last Friday. Check out his interview with @AllisonGappa after the scrimmage. #okstate pic.twitter.com/3ijUlNitaF— Cowboy Football (@CowboyFB) April 4, 2017Also, nice pullover.
Transfers Returning to Real Madrid would be incredible – Mariano Diaz Robin Bairner 19:45 15/3/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(1) Getty Transfers Real Madrid Olympique Lyonnais v CSKA Moskva Real Madrid v Girona CSKA Moskva Olympique Lyonnais Girona Primera División UEFA Europa League The attacker has been in prolific form in France and has targeted the possibility of playing for Spain in the coming months Lyon striker Mariano Diaz has admitted that he would one day love to return to Real Madrid.The forward has been a hit with the Ligue 1 club, having arrived from the Champions League winners in the summer for a fee of €8 million.He has scored 18 times in 38 outings, and his form has been such that Madrid have been linked with the possibility of re-signing him. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp It is a prospect that excites the 24 -year-old forward.“I have a five-year contract with Lyon but going back to Madrid would be incredible, even if I decided it was best to leave the club in the summer,” he told Cadena SER. Indeed, he even tipped Zinedine Zidane’s men to regain their European crown ahead of Manchester City.“I prefer Madrid,” he said. “City, both in the Premier League and Champions League, have played at a good level but it will have to be seen how they react when faced with a big club.”Mariano has his own lofty ambitions, with the forward aiming to be called into the Spain international set up for the first time.“I went to France to be a big player and for me it would be the realisation of a great dream to be in the Spain squad,” he said. “Of course I hope for it.”The forward will hope to impress in the Europa League on Thursday. His Lyon side hold a 1-0 advantage over CSKA Moscow ahead of the second leg of their last-16 clash, which will be played in France.
The Cowboys are donning the Darth Vader look for their home game against TCU, with a new twist on their alternate helmet.#OKState gameday threads 🤠🔶 #GoPokes | #TCUvsOSU ⚫️ pic.twitter.com/OHIze3KLEQ— Cowboy Football 🤠 (@CowboyFB) November 2, 2019I like the look of this bandana lid sans the barbed wire stripe and the orange brand with orange facemask really pop.#OkState in all black uniforms today against TCU pic.twitter.com/yBAFViS1z4— Jackson Lavarnway (@TheLavarnway) November 2, 2019This is the first time OSU has gone all-black since last year’s Liberty Bowl. The Cowboys are 7-3 all-time in this color scheme.For those keeping score, both Kyle Porter and Justin Southwell correctly predicted B-B-B. While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.
ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read: Posted on August 18, 2009November 13, 2014Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tim began his career at The Population Council in New York where he was the Special Assistant to the President, charged with cultivating and maintaining institutional relationships with government overseas development assistance agencies, as well as foundations, NGOs, multilateral institutions and UN agencies. In 2001, Tim joined the London-based communications agency InterScience as a senior consultant where he worked with a range of clients on their sexual and reproductive health programs. In 2005, Tim was appointed Executive Director of the Staying Alive Foundation at MTV Networks International based in New York. As a global grant-making and advocacy organization, the Foundation encouraged and enabled young people who are involved in HIV and AIDS awareness, education and prevention campaigns especially in developing countries.When MTV changed its philanthropic directions in late 2007, he returned to private consulting and has been working for a range of clients in the public health field. Tim has played a key role in the start up of the MHTF over the last several months and we’re delighted that he has agreed to become a member of the MHTF team!Share this:
ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read: Posted on May 20, 2010July 21, 2014Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) On June 7th, 2010, the University of Oxford will be launching ‘Global Voices for Maternal Health’, a crowd-sourcing project to give maternal health care providers around the world a direct global voice in identifying and solving the barriers to providing evidence-based maternal health care. This ground-breaking project is supported by the Maternal Health Task Force at EngenderHealth. To view other projects supported by the MHTF, click here.Global Voices for Maternal Health will have two elements:● an online survey (in 9 languages) of over 10,000 maternal health care providers in developing countries about the barriers preventing the implementation of safe, effective and affordable treatments for complications related to pregnancy in their settings.● an online discussion forum for health care providers, program managers and policy makers who are seeking new and innovative solutions for overcoming barriers to providing evidence-based maternal health care.The website will give new weight and force to the views of people who are actually delivering medical care, providing them with a stronger voice to determine where the global community’s future efforts should be focused.Visit www.globalvoices.org.uk to find out more and take part in the project.Please help us to spread the word about the project and reach people working on the ground. For information on how to help, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.Share this:
Transfers Capello: Juventus got a fantastic deal selling Paul Pogba at £89m Chris Burton 05:49 6/18/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Getty Images Transfers Juventus Manchester United Serie A Premier League Paul Pogba The former Bianconeri boss has suggested that a man offloaded to Manchester United in 2016 has struggled to justify what was a record-breaking fee Former Juventus boss Fabio Capello claims the Serie A champions got “a fantastic deal” selling Paul Pogba to Manchester United for £89 million ($118m).After four years in Turin, the France international decided to return to Old Trafford for a second spell in the summer of 2016.The deal which took him back to England was the costliest in world football at the time, but the 25-year-old has struggled to justify that price tag amid constant criticism of his game and off-field activity. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Perfection from Pulisic: Chelsea’s Captain America has arrived in the Premier League Why always Raheem? ‘Unplayable’ Sterling setting a standard Man City’s other stars need to match ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Capello believes Juve have been the biggest benefactors of the lucrative transfer, with the trophies having continued to roll in for the Bianconeri while Pogba has been found out for United and France.A man who spent six years with Juve as a player and two as a manager told Mediaset Premium: “The truth is that Pogba makes the difference in Italy, but not in England or on international duty.“That’s because with his physical strength, to us he seems impossible to control, but when he plays elsewhere, he becomes normal.“I’d say Juventus got themselves a fantastic deal by selling him at that price.”Pogba is currently in the process of trying to rediscover his spark while on international duty at World Cup 2018.He has made a positive start in Russia, but one former team-mate has been denied the opportunity to grace such a stage.Paulo Dybala starred for Juve in 2017-18, netting 26 times, but was overlooked by Argentina and Capello believes the 24-year-old is paying the price for a lack of consistency.The Italian added: “Dybala is still a long way off [Lionel] Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.“He has to improve his consistency and the way he participates in the overall moves.“He always waits for the ball to come to him, but that’s because he plays in a strong team that lets him do anything he wants.“Dybala could’ve given Argentina something different, especially from distance, and I would’ve used him against Iceland.”
Tunisia 1 England 2: Captain Kane saves Three Lions Nicholas McGee Last updated 1 year ago 04:02 6/19/18 Getty Images A controversial penalty appeared set to earn Tunisia a draw against England, but Harry Kane headed home an injury-time winner in Volgograd. Harry Kane marked his World Cup debut with a stoppage-time winner as England made hard work of overcoming Tunisia 2-1 in their Group G opener.England’s talisman and captain put them ahead in the 11th minute of Monday’s clash in Volgograd, but Tunisia levelled in contentious fashion.Referee Wilmar Roldan pointed to the spot when Kyle Walker caught Fakhreddine Ben Youssef with his arm and Ferjani Sassi levelled with an unconvincing penalty. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Perfection from Pulisic: Chelsea’s Captain America has arrived in the Premier League Why always Raheem? ‘Unplayable’ Sterling setting a standard Man City’s other stars need to match ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar England wasted numerous opportunities prior to that leveller but will have been unimpressed by Roldan’s performance thereafter, the Colombian ignoring multiple penalty appeals from the Three Lions.Gareth Southgate’s men appeared to run out of ideas in the second half, with Tunisia seemingly set to see out what would have been an unexpected draw.But in the first minute of injury time they made the mistake of leaving Kane unmarked in the box for the second time and he took advantage by heading home at the far post to ensure England start the tournament with a deserved, if unconvincing, win.Never in doubt. #threelions pic.twitter.com/jmYB1BFMJX— England (@England) June 18, 2018Jesse Lingard would have opened the scoring in the third minute had Mouez Hassen not pulled off a fine save with his legs after the Manchester United forward was found by a cutback from Dele Alli.Hassen appeared to suffer an injury when he collided with Lingard as he raced clear down the left and squared for Raheem Sterling, who will have taken comfort from an offside flag after a glaring miss.The knock did not stop the Tunisia keeper producing heroics to keep out John Stones’ header, but he could do nothing about the follow-up as Kane confidently tucked home.Hassen was withdrawn four minutes later for Farouk Ben Mustapha, who was tested by a long-range drive from Jordan Henderson, with Lingard then spurning a gilt-edged chance as he mishit a volley from Ashley Young’s cross to the far post.And 10 minutes before half-time England were punished for wasting chances as Roldan ruled Walker had intentionally made contact with Ben Youssef, Sassi’s penalty powerful enough to beat the fingertips of Jordan Pickford and find the bottom-left corner.England had a legitimate case for a spot-kick at the other end when Kane was bundled over in the box as Alli headed against the crossbar.Southgate’s men will have been frustrated by their profligacy, Lingard latching on to a ball over the top and knocking it past Ben Mustapha, only to see it trickle onto the post and wide.Kane had another appeal for a penalty waved away within five minutes of the restart as he was impeded by a pair of Tunisia players at a corner, but the rate at which England appeared to run out of gas was alarming.Young drifted a free-kick well over the bar and England’s chance at victory appeared to have gone.However, Harry Maguire flicked a Kieran Trippier delivery into the path of Kane, who made no mistake from point-blank range to break Tunisian hearts.Match-winner. #WorldCup pic.twitter.com/AYPUl33vDJ— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) June 18, 2018 Key Opta stats:- England scored more than once for the first time in 10 World Cup matches, since a 2-2 draw against Sweden in 2006.- Harry Kane has scored in each of his last four games for England, his best ever run for the Three Lions.- England’s Kieran Trippier created six goalscoring opportunities, more than any other player has managed so far in the 2018 World Cup.- Kane became the first England player to score a brace in a World Cup match since Gary Lineker against Cameroon in 1990. read more
Rhian Brewster ‘I know what I want to achieve’ – Rhian Brewster opens up on Liverpool ambitions Neil Jones Click here to see more stories from this author Last updated 1 year ago 16:34 6/19/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(1) Getty Images Liverpool Real Madrid v Liverpool UEFA Champions League Premier League Opinion The 18-year-old talks about his dream of playing for Jurgen Klopp’s first team at Anfield as he hopes to follow Trent Alexander-Arnold to stardom Edgeley Park, Stockport. The archetypal ‘old school’ football ground, hidden away among a cluster of tight-knit terraced houses in the heart of a community.It’s seen better days, of course. It could do with a lick of paint here and there, and the pitch has been ripped up to be re-laid ahead of next season. “Much needed,” says the guard on the gate.At one end of the ground, the 31st Stockport Beer & Cider Festival is in full swing. Pies and pints are keeping the patrons happy, while a local Ska band will take to the stage later in the evening. For £2, it’s a decent day out. “A proper community event,” says one happy customer. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Perfection from Pulisic: Chelsea’s Captain America has arrived in the Premier League Why always Raheem? ‘Unplayable’ Sterling setting a standard Man City’s other stars need to match ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Goal, though, is here for something else. Over in the Danny Bergara Stand – named after the man who guided tiny Stockport County to four Wembley finals in the 1990s – one of English football’s brightest young prospects is waiting to speak to us.He’s got plenty to talk about, too. Rhian Brewster may only have turned 18 in April, he may not have made a senior club appearance yet, but as interviewees go he’s as eloquent, thoughtful and interesting as they come. The boy has things to say, and he knows how to say them.He’s here for a fashion shoot, promoting Lyle & Scott’s latest range, but over the course of our chat he speaks with great maturity about issues ranging from racism to transfer rumours to the difficulties English football has in bringing through young talents. Eighteen years old? You sure?The obvious place to start is with Brewster’s own situation, which at the time of the interview remained uncertain. Interest from Germany, in the shape of Borussia Monchengladbach and RB Leipzig, had been widely reported. Liverpool were desperate to keep their young star, but had yet to convince him to sign a professional contract at Anfield.The scene has changed since, which is good news for the Reds. Though Brewster’s deal is still, as we speak, unsigned, the understanding is that he will be staying on Merseyside, having been convinced by the club’s plans for him. It’s a big call, but one Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp are very happy with.So what does the man himself make of it all, then? “At the moment, I just want to be playing regular professional football for the first team,” Brewster tells Goal. “Whether that was at Liverpool or somewhere else, yeah it was uncertain. “But hopefully in 12 months’ time I’ll be sat here saying I made the right decision in what I chose to do. I want to be able to reflect positively on that.”It is clear that this was not to be a decision motivated by money, but by opportunity. Brewster’s desire to play senior football, even at such a tender age, shines through in just about everything he says. He wants to go to the top, and he’s not shy of saying so.He has already made one big call in his young career, leaving Chelsea at the age of 15 to move to Liverpool because he felt the pathway was clearer. He’s a smart boy who knows what he wants.But with Premier League clubs finding it harder and harder to bring through youth graduates to their first team – Chelsea, in particular, have become emblematic of the struggle – alternative options have been emerging. The Bundesliga has already tempted English players across, with Reece Oxford and Ademola Lookman enjoying loan spells of differing success, and Jadon Sancho swapping Manchester City for Borussia Dortmund.Sancho’s case is particularly instructive. He and Brewster were born a week apart, both in London, and have grown up together through the England youth system. They were both members of the U17 World Cup winning squad last year, and both are tipped for big, big things.So was Brewster tempted to follow his pal to Germany?“Sure, I look at people like Jadon,” he says. “But then I look at people like Trent [Alexander-Arnold].“You can do it both ways. You can go down the road of staying, waiting for a chance and then taking it, like Trent did, or you can look at it like Jadon did, and think maybe I won’t get my chance here, so I can go somewhere else, abroad maybe. I look at it both ways.“I’m going to do what’s best for me. If that meant going Jadon’s way, I’d go Jadon’s way. If it means staying and doing what Trent did, then I’ll do a Trent!”‘A Trent’ it is then. Like Alexander-Arnold, Brewster certainly has the talent to make an impact on Liverpool’s first team, and the club’s reluctance to sign a striker this summer shows exactly what they think of him. He will be fast-tracked towards the first team under Klopp, who is as big a fan as anyone. It is perhaps unusual to hear a player, and especially one so young, speak so clearly about their ambitions, but if strikers are supposed to be single-minded and driven, then Brewster ticks all the boxes.“I just know what I want in life,” he says “I know what I want to achieve.“People say ‘follow your dream’ and that’s what I want to do. But there are others who try and put you down.“Those people, they only inspire me. If they hate on me for doing something good, then it makes me want to do even better and stay at that level.“I love it, to be fair. If you play football and fans are booing or saying negative stuff, it makes me play better. All I want to do is put the ball in the back of the net and say, ‘what are you gonna say now?’ If I have a centre back giving me stick, I want to score and say, ‘shut your mouth!’ It makes me strive, man.”That ambition and that work ethic will be needed if he is to complete the journey from talented prodigy into established professional. When we meet, he is still using crutches, recovering from a serious ankle and knee injury suffered playing for Liverpool’s U23 side in January. It is expected that he will be out of action until late-August.In the meantime, he has been using his time wisely. He is a regular at Anfield, an avid football watcher. He was in Kiev for the recent Champions League final, watching Alexander-Arnold, watching Sadio Mane, watching Roberto Firmino. His eyes, naturally, are drawn to those he wants to emulate – or to overtake.“I don’t switch off,” he says. “I like to watch the games, and watch what I am missing. It makes me want to be out there even more.“Being injured gives you the chance to reflect on the players who play in your position, too. You see things you can do, things you can maybe do better. It’s about doing everything you can to get to the top, so any little advantage you can take, you should do it.“I do it off my own back. The staff at the Academy will sometimes invite me to games, but it’s more something I like to do myself. I like to watch Firmino and the rest. It’s about being the best I can be, and if that means learning stuff off other people, then I’ll do it.”He’s warming to the theme now, his eyes lighting up as he discusses the strikers he admires from around the world – past and present.“If I was building an ideal striker?” he smiles. “Ooh, it’d be a bit of Firmino, a bit of Suarez, and a bit of Thierry Henry.“Growing up, Henry was my idol. He’s the reason I wanted to play football. If you could put all those three together, you’d have some player!”And what about himself? Where do Rhian Brewster’s strengths and weaknesses lie?“Obviously you want to be the perfect player, so you have to always work towards that aim,” he says. “If that’s working on my left foot, scoring goals with both feet, then that’s what I’ll work on. Or if it’s my first touch or my physical attributes, I’ll work on those. You can’t stop working.“Mentally and tactically as well, you have to develop. You could play for different managers, who want different things, so you need to be able to adapt to everything. If you do that, you will play.“You don’t want to be just a big striker that only plays one way or under one manager, you want to be able to do everything, whatever a manager needs from you.“I speak to a lot of people, to get their advice and their thoughts. But ultimately, you have to do what you want to do. What’s in your head? If you want to be at the top, be at the top. If that means making sacrifices, then that’s what I am going to do.“No, it’s not easy! I still have my friends, and they’re wanting to go out places and stuff. I can’t. I train and I rest and I play. Even when I’m off, I have to be careful, I still have to do the right things. For me, it’s about being careful and sensible. You make big sacrifices, staying in, eating the right things, but that’s what you have to do to get to the top – and I want to get to the top.“Of course it’s been hard. Your friends are chilling while you’re training, but what would you rather do? Go to their house and chill, or go training? My rewards will come.“At the end of the day, I’m doing something I love. In the future, that may lead to money, but the main thing is that you don’t want to be in a job that you don’t like. You want to be in a job that you love, where it doesn’t feel like work.”How refreshing to hear, especially from someone who has already seen both sides of ‘The Beautiful Game’. World Cup wins, golden boots and eye-catching performances are one thing, but Brewster – still a teenager remember – has already felt compelled to speak up about one of the game’s big issues; racism. An interview given to The Guardian in December detailed seven separate instances where he has suffered abuse playing for club and country.One of those was during a UEFA Youth League game for Liverpool against Spartak Moscow at Tranmere Rovers’ Prenton Park ground. Brewster reported the incident to UEFA, but saw the case dropped three months later due to ‘insufficient evidence’. He was not surprised.“No, not at all,” he says. “I just wanted to put my voice out there and be heard. No it doesn’t surprise me the way the ruling went, but hopefully it does change at some point in the future, and that it helps bring the rubbishness out of football.“With the World Cup being in Russia, I hope no-one gets abused over there. I think it happened recently with France, but my hope is that something can be done about it and we can change it, to be honest.“You hope it doesn’t happen to anyone else, but if it does then my advice is to follow the rules. Control yourself, as hard as that is, tell people and speak up. It’s not easy, but it’s the best way.”Of course speaking out about such issues is important, but for one so young to do so was striking. Brewster’s courage struck a chord within football; the reaction to his interview was huge, elevating him into the public eye perhaps more so even than his exploits at the U17 World Cup a few months previously.He is thankful for Liverpool’s support during that period. Klopp made a point of mentioning Brewster in a speech given to the Football Writers’ Association at their annual awards dinner last month, praising the youngster’s “power, command and composure” in going public on such an important issue.“It’s a really close-knit club,” Brewster says. “The feedback and the vibe I got off them was that we are a family. Everyone was behind me, nobody said I shouldn’t do it.“Even the fans, I got lots of messages and I really appreciate that. No-one was against what I did. It was a bad time, but people were there for me. I won’t forget that.”Of course having a public profile comes with its own risks; scrutiny of footballers is huge, whether they are 18 or 30. The social media age means fame is instant, but so is judgement. Every move is analysed, debated, criticised.Can Brewster, a Londoner born and raised in Chadwell Heath, handle all that? Is he spotting the looks from strangers in the street?“Yeah man, I see it!” he smiles. “When people look at me, I look at them back like ‘what you looking at?’ but I have to be careful now! They know my face!“It happens when I’m out and about at home or in Liverpool, I get asked to take pictures and stuff. It can be a good and a bad thing, but for me it’s more good than bad. It shows that people are recognising you and that you are progressing.“Where I’m from, you have to grow up quickly. That’s a fact. I just want to be a footballer and a big face in the game. I want to be an idol to young children. It’s starting to happen now, and I hope it continues.”It will do so at Liverpool, for now at least. But wherever that first-team chance comes, you can be sure Rhian Brewster will do everything he can to take it. It’s just who he is.“You have to stamp your mark,” he says. “You have to get the chance and you have to take it.“My hope now is to be playing regular football, so I can play at the highest level for club and country. The next World Cup or even the next Euros, I want to be in with a shot of being picked. That’s what I strive for, to be the best I can be, to hopefully give me the best opportunity to get there.“The only way you can do that is by getting a chance in club football. I can’t wait for mine.”Lyle and Scott are delighted to announce Rhian Brewster as their new ambassador. Rhian launches the new World World Cup campaign focusing on Rhian and his rise to U17 World Cup Champion and Golden Boot winner. 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World Cup Coutinho steps up for Brazil and out of Neymar’s shadow Sam Lee In Saint Petersburg Last updated 1 year ago 22:32 6/22/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(10) Getty Images World Cup Neymar Brazil v Costa Rica Costa Rica Brazil Philippe Coutinho The Barcelona man has struggled to perform consistently throughout his career but he is proving in Russia that he can be his country’s talisman Two games into the World Cup campaign that they entered as favourites, Brazil are starting to find their rhythm. And, while it took Neymar until the very last kick to get his own all-singing, all-dancing show on the road, Tite’s men had at least been able to rely on Philippe Coutinho.Neymar, after weeks/months/years of scrutiny, after two games of rough treatment from his markers, and after flattering to deceive in Russia so far, finally made a positive mark in the 97th minute, with a goal which, just moments later, provoked floods of tears as he sank to his knees on the Saint Petersburg pitch after the 2-0 win over Costa Rica.It had been a trying afternoon for the Paris Saint-Germain star up until that point, and had it not been for Coutinho the headlines would have been entirely different. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Perfection from Pulisic: Chelsea’s Captain America has arrived in the Premier League Why always Raheem? ‘Unplayable’ Sterling setting a standard Man City’s other stars need to match ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Coutinho, for the second time in two games, came up with the goal Brazil needed. He was their best player in the disappointing draw with Switzerland, the first time Brazil have not won their first game at a World Cup since 1978, and he was there again on Friday, with his side staring down the barrel of another frustrating stalemate.It was the Barcelona man who charged into the box in the 91st minute to meet Gabriel Jesus’ knock-down, poking the ball through the legs of Keylor Navas, who had hitherto produced yet another World Cup masterclass.It was a goal that could be described these days as ‘a bench emptier’. The Brazil substitutes and coaching staff leapt from their seats and charged up the touchline to celebrate with their hero, just like Iran did in this stadium one week ago, when they snatched a last-minute win over Morocco.Yet Brazil are not Iran, they are the favourites for this tournament, and their celebrations were born more out of relief than the sheer joy of the Iranians.Indeed, Tite, the highly-regarded coach who has got this team into shape, was so overcome by it all he ended up falling face-first into the ground as he attempted to keep pace with his younger, fitter countrymen.For Tite the goal provided vindication. The coach had made shrewd changes to spark Brazil into life after an underwhelming first half, but for so long it looked as though they would have had to make do with a goalless draw.The nature of the World Cup dictates that such a result would not have been seen favourably, but make no mistake: it was clear for much of the second half that Brazil deserved to win this match.Tite’s decision to replace the poor Willian with Douglas Costa at half-time was wise, and also showed that he knew he could not afford to wait.Costa immediately looked bright and his side came close to breaking the deadlock when Gabriel Jesus headed against the bar and then, somehow, Coutinho’s shot was narrowly deflected wide.The blue shirts sensed that a goal was a matter of time but as they struggled to put the ball in the net they turned to another quality back-up, Roberto Firmino. The Liverpool man, who has been battling with Jesus for a starting berth, was pushed on just behind his Premier League team-mate, with midfielder Paulinho making way. With Costa Rica digging in, this was another clever, and brave, substitution by Tite.Yet somehow, despite the increased energy in the side and a raft of chances created, it seemed it would not be enough.Neymar, first and foremost, would have been the villain of the piece. He was criticised for his nomadic, overly flash performance against Switzerland but here he was far more involved – and usually not for the better.He forced a fine save from Navas, though had he kept his shot down he would have given his side the lead. Later on he found himself with space to burst into but decided to take his shot early, from the edge of the box, and curled a powerful effort just wide. It would have looked spectacular had it gone in, but it didn’t, and that looked set to sum up his performance.In fact, what had looked to sum up his performance was the penalty he thought he had won. After receiving the ball inside the area, close to Navas’ goal, he checked back onto his right foot, losing the momentum of the attack. The referee initially awarded a penalty, judging that the forward had been pulled, but after consulting with his colleagues in the VAR team he reversed his decision. Rightly, too; after making a mess of another good chance Neymar had gone to ground too easily.A few minutes later he was booked for petulantly slamming the ball into the ground after committing a foul. Coutinho got a yellow too, for airing his displeasure at his mate’s booking.But 10 minutes later their fortunes changed. Coutinho, the man brought to Camp Nou with much of the money Barca received for Neymar, proved yet again that he is the ace up Tite’s sleeve.Tite has only used the former Liverpool man in the midfield three in the past couple of weeks, and on this evidence, and that of his first few months in Catalunya, it is a role that suits him.Coutinho regularly struggled to perform consistently at Anfield, his stunning goals often papering over the cracks of patchy performances against England’s bigger clubs – and some of the medium-sized ones, too.But since joining Barca, and particularly in Russia, he is showing that he is the man for the big moment.His goal forced Costa Rica forwards, finally, and liberated Brazil. Neymar certainly seemed unburdened – he produced a textbook rainbow flick over his marker’s head down in the corner, as if all of his troubles had disappeared.They certainly did moments later, when the impressive Douglas Costa got in behind the defence and provide the perfect cross. Neymar, at last, was there to make the difference.Or at least a difference. He will not have to worry about too many negative reviews tonight, as Brazil picked exactly the right moment to kick their World Cup into gear. But it will not be forgotten that it was Coutinho who did it.