advertising

If you are local to North Carolina, get in touch via Thumbtack

on Apr 15 in advertising, For small businesses, marketing posted , , by

Ever wonder why you can buy any product online with a single click, but you can’t hire a photographer, tutor, contractor, or other local service professional without a dozen phone calls? Thumbtack offers a solution. Thumbtack’s mission is to make it dramatically easier to hire services, at the same time empowering independent professionals to grow their businesses. I’m using Thumbtack to help folks local to Raleigh get in touch with me through a trusted, verified source.

2014 portfolio updated

on Jan 24 in advertising, branding posted , , by

Things have been quiet on the blog. But we’ve been busy! Here’s our 2014 portfolio, updated with additional services including video production.

Google’s brilliant ploy to get people to pay for testing Google Glass

on Mar 29 in advertising, branding, business, geolocation, google, marketing, products, strategy, technology, trends posted by

Google’s co-founder, Sergey Brin models the company’s new augmented reality device, Google Glass.As a technophile and early adopter, I am as excited as anyone else by the prospect of trying Google Glass, the new augmented reality device coming from Google in the coming months. Augmented reality apps have been around awhile. You point your smart phone at something and by mashing up geolocation and image recognition the app supplies additional information about what you are looking at.

Augmented reality is a powerful idea, and one that is taking root, most prominently with Google Glass. Google have been tremendously successful in generating hype about the product, which allows users to interact with their surroundings and the Internet with unprecedented ease and intimacy. But the new device is also a big gamble for the technology giant.

The system requires a seamless integration of hardware and software, and we don’t know yet if Google has it right, despite awesome promo videos and gigs of hype. Existing augmented reality apps are still buggy, and limited to large cities where the appropriate infrastructure can support an acceptable user experience.

The company has invested a great deal in their brainchild, and Google Glass is coming. It’s a bold and innovative move for a company that is mostly focused on software. Indeed, just as clever as the device is their testing and marketing strategy.

It seems to me that Google is applying a software testing model to their new hardware. Allow me to explain. When we buy a car or washing machine, or a smartphone for that matter, we expect all the pre-market testing to have been done. The glitches should be ironed out and we expect to receive a good product for our money. Companies invest hugely in testing products to ensure as few expensive recalls as possible.

However, with software, we have become conditioned to accept a post-market testing model. Users do much of the testing after a product is on the market and then happily report bugs, many of which could probably have been picked up in pre-release testing. With an operating system or app, we routinely and unquestioningly download the latest update, assuming it is a necessary and worthy improvement to something we have already paid for.

Google now seems to be bringing the software testing model to the Google Glass hardware. Here’s how they did it. With their initial announcement of its release, the company announced the Google Explorer program. Prospective users had to apply by posting a message on Google Plus or Twitter consisting of fifty words or less, accompanied by the hashtag #ifihadglass. If their application was accepted, the lucky applicant had to pay $1,500 to receive the device.

That is, Google has very cleverly found a way to build a cadre of testers and have them pay for the privilege privilege of being among the first among the public to use the gadget.

What is more, these users are early adopters, and most likely influencers, who are undoubtedly going to feel considerable loyalty to the company, to forgive initial problems, and to become evangelistic brand ambassadors. So Google neatly solved two problems — how to test the product in the market place while minimizing testing costs, and at the same time generate buzz among technology mavens and enthusiasts. Well played Google, well played.

But things did not go as smoothly as expected. Just a few days ago, the technology press was reporting that Google was retracting some invitations. According to reports, Google tweeted: “We’re gonna need to disqualify a few non-compliant #ifihadglass applications that snuck through.” Oops. The retractions certainly bolster the idea that Google is using buyers to pay for testing, rather than magnanimously sharing their new technology with the deserving few, as they would prefer us to believe.

Oops, didn’t anyone notice that Microsoft’s new logo copies Google’s brand pages logo?

on Aug 30 in advertising, branding, business, google posted by

Microsoft’s new logo (bottom) bears a striking resemblance to Googles brand pages icon… (top)Microsoft rolled out a new logo to great fanfare last week. Bully for them. It’s about time. I’m not a big fan of the software giant, but I do grant that their products have made computing more affordable and accessible since the home computing revolution took off in the 1990s.

But their marketing sucks! I won’t roll out the old tropes of Microsoft versus Apple. Apple did that perfectly in a stellar ad campaign, and Microsoft have never quite managed to hit back. 

So maybe the new logo was planned to address Microsoft’s still flabby image. Only, only… It does’t quite do that. Aside from other critiques, well-articulated, what I noticed was a striking similarity between the new logo, and one that’s been used on Google’s brand pages for some time now. Here’s the two side-by-side. What do you think? They are rather similar, aren’t they? Yet again, Microsoft is trying to reimagine itself in the face of stiff competition. And failing miserably. C’mon Microsoft, can’t you do better?

QR Codes for fun and for profit* – ideas and benefits for small businesses

on Jan 21 in advertising, business, marketing, mobile, QR codes, trends posted by

 

Pundits and prognosticators are touting QR codes as a “big thing” for this year. I noted the possibilities more than two years ago. The price of being ahead of my time, I suppose.

There are legitimate questions concerning the technology’s adoption rate (see What Are QR Codes And Should You Use Them?). But the overall trend is definitely up.

The benefits of the technology are easy to see. Access to web-ready mobile devices puts the Internet at the finger tips of ever more users. But it’s still a chore to use those tiny keyboards to type in long URLs. That’s where QR codes come in. Just point your mobile phone at the black and white square and voila, up pops a website. The key point is that QR codes seamlessly integrate offline with online. (See QR codes bridge real life with cyberspace.) 

Anytime you’d want someone to access a website when they’re not at a computer, is a good use for a QR code. This is especially applicable to bricks and mortar businesses.

So how can you use QR codes for fun or for profit? ReadWriteWeb summed up five ways small businesses can use QR codes (e.g., put it on your business card). Another idea applicable to most business is to link your QR code to the subscribe page for your emailing list (see Grow Your Email Marketing List Using QR Codes).

There have been a plethora of similar articles on the general benefits of QR codes for small businesses. But there are few industry-specific ideas out there. Here are some concrete ideas for what small businesses in specific sectors can do with QR codes and the benefits:

Restaurants

  • On menus to provide nutritional and other information. BENEFIT: Saves time for waitstaff to tell the customer, increases customer turnaround time.
  • On outside menus to offer specials and links to online reviews of your restaurant. BENEFIT: Encourages conversion once a prospect is at your storefront.
  • On posters and billboards in your local area to provide a map to your restaurant. BENEFIT: This can synch with the users mobile map app to provide directions to your restaurant on the fly

See this review of Herbfarm for how one restaurant put QR codes into practice  Check out Ventpix’s free app get started.

Realtors

  • On listing sign outside properties. BENEFIT: provides your listing info on a web page, uploads your contact info onto a prospect’s mobile phone and eliminates the need to keep replacing house brochures, thereby reducing visits per sale.
  • On house brochures. BENEFIT: In case the prospect does not access the QR code on the listing sign and provides more info than available on the house brochure.

Clickbrix offers a turnkey solution for a base fee of $25 per month.

Retailers

  • On instore product labels (this was implemented by Best Buy last year). BENEFIT: provides additional product info, allowing more staff time to spend on closing a sale rather than answering the same questions over and over. Opportunity to link to online coupons to motivate a sale.
  • On a billboard outside your store front. BENEFIT: Engages a prospect and can link to coupons, store and product reviews to encourage store entry.

Health professionals

  • In the waiting room to provide patients information about the practice. BENEFIT: provides another point of contact for the patient, reduces waiting room boredom, increasing patient satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Use on printed materials to link to your webpage. BENEFIT: Provides additional information about your practice and specialty area. For example dentists could provide “before and after” images of restorative work.

Authors and writers

  • On the cover of your book or next to your print article to provide additional content. BENEFIT: Adds value to your product since readers are looking for information on your book or article topic
  • On your book cover, link the QR code to an online coupon to motivate potential buyers with a discount. BENEFIT: Increase sales (what more could you want?!)

Additional resources and articles

 

* Apologies to business guru Robert Townsend who inspired the title with his axiom “…if you’re not in business for fun or profit, what the hell are you doing there?”

Does Coke “get” Twitter?

on Oct 04 in advertising, trends, Twitter posted by

Last week, Marketing Pilgrim’s Frank Reed posted a thoughtful analysis of Twitter’s recent foray into advertising.

Twitter’s advertising platforms are indeed headed into uncharted territory. And it’s going to be hard for Twitter, let alone advertisers, to confidently predict the optimal configuration.

Frank cites an AdAge article that quotes Coca-Cola marketing chief Michael Donnolly as saying that Coke is not interested in tens of thousands of people but millions.

One important point to make, and one that I’m not sure Michael Donnelly gets, is that the value of Twitter is not in the quantity of followers but the “quality.” Of course, the quality of a follower might be hard to define, but that does not mean we shouldn’t try. And trying to evaluate the quality of followers might an anathema to someone like Donnelly who seems limited to thinking terms of in millions of people.

Indeed, most of Coke’s tweets seem rather inane. Their tweets provide no links that might be of interest. They consist of tweets such as:

  • @euribjs Coca-Cola loves you, Talita! ^SS
  • @thomasbrunskill Yay! Thanks for celebrating with Coca-Cola, Thomas! Enjoy! ^SS
  • @diogopontes2010 Coca-Cola helada, siempre deliciosa y muy refrescante, Diogo. ^GD
  • @alexaliggio Thanks for following Coca-Cola Alexa! We’re following you too! ^CA
  • @Mahrukh_ That’s enough to open happiness with friends! Enjoy! ^CA

Yawn. There aren’t even any special offers, which might be why most followers are following.

CocaCola ranks 31st among social media brands. And it shows. This performance might lose the company a couple of places in that ranking. What Coke needs to understand is that the key to success in Twitter is to cultivate loyalty through providing value among a cadre of followers who trust you and enjoy your content as I have pointed out in this blog (as have many others more sagacious than me). Focusing on quality of your followers puts the emphasis back on the individual. And it is individuals that wield power in social media.

It really makes me wonder if Coke “gets” Twitter. If I was Donnelly, I’d be much more interested in a hundred thousand followers who I could consider to be brand ambassadors and influencers rather than a million who just wanted a coupon for 10 percent off their next six pack of Coke. In the long run those influencers would give a higher and much more sustainable ROI than an army of marginally interested followers.