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Is My Smartwatch too Smart For Me?

Ok, confession time: I’m not 21.
Or 25.
Or… well, you get the picture.
Even though I’m not a ‘millennial’ (whatever happened to Gen Y?) I do love digital technology and the brilliance of how it can help us do today what we couldn’t do yesterday.
Yes, I made a big assumption in the above paragraph i.e. that you have to be a 20-something to be able to grasp the intricacies of all things digital.
Which is, of course poppycock.
What is undeniable though is that the adoption rates of new technologies among older demographics is lower than with ‘digital natives’. Why? Put simply, it’s human nature to retain the habits and fashions of our youth.
I still remember as a young boy seeing old men walking around the city in hats; the fashion of their youth.
Which brings us to Smartwatches, the hats of today. Like many of us I watched in bewilderment and admiration at the frenzy whipped up by the launch of the Apple Watch. What a toy, I scoffed.
That was until a friend bought one and raved about how amazing it was. He also said it was just a gadget; but one he couldn’t do without.
Not being the slightest bit competitive, from that moment on I HAD to have a smartwatch. But rather than follow the herd I did my research. That was was when I discovered Kickstarter sensation Pebble smartwatches.
On the back of $20.3 million worth of pre-orders on the crowdfunding site, the new Pebble Time release promised to be the smartest of smartwatches. So smart and so cool that it’s ‘geek chic’. People were breathless in anticipation of touching this incredible new watch.
Of course I placed my order.
There was no hiding it; I couldn’t wait to get it! Everyone in the office was sick of me going on about how fantastic my new watch was going to be. My excitement was palpable right up to the day I received my black, gleaming Pebble Time.
And there it was. And then, well, is that all? I think marketers call it the post-purchase dissonance blues (I added the blues part but same, same).
It was nice, it looked great but after playing with it for 10 minutes I was bored. It was hard to read – maybe you need millenial powered eyes – and the apps are a little clunky. Which is not surprising I guess as it’s essentially Pebble 2.0; I’m sure we’ll look back at this version in 2-3 years and be amazed at how ancient it seems as we do with all ‘old’ technology.
Maybe I’m missing something, though. Or maybe I’ve been spoiled by Apple whose iPad and iPhone 6 – which, unlike Pebble Time is mature technology – I love along with the App Store.
The other alternative of course is that the wonders of smartphones may be above my ability to comprehend them. If that’s the case, that’s fine.
Looking on the bright side, I now have a new hobby: working out what all the fuss was about.
 
The Message is brought to you by Tick Yes – providing solutions for all your digital and content marketing needs.
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Sampling Campaigns Should Give and Take

Everyone loves free stuff. It’s the ultimate win for Joe and Jane Public. Particularly when what we want and like is being given away without us having to pay for it.
The whole sampling industry is predicated on this fundamental aspect of human nature. If you give me something that I value and in return I don’t have to give you anything, I’m all in.
Billions of dollars have been spent by companies wanting to get their (usually) new products into the hands of eager potential consumers.
The white board strategy goes something like this: allow consumers to sample our amazing new ‘insert product here’ and they’ll be so impressed they will be inexorably drawn into buying it until the end of time. PLUS, awareness will go through the roof as they rave and post about our brand on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat etc. Simple. Elegant. Compelling.
So where’s the failure in all of this?
Another fundamental aspect of human nature is the law of reciprocity: if you give something to me I’m compelled to give something to you. More often than not, however sampling companies just give, give, give and ask for nothing in return.
Big mistake. Huge.
Here’s a chance to capture the details of people who almost certainly have tried your product and you let them walk away, in all likelihood never to be seen again. That’s your future revenue and profit merrily skipping away with their free booty.
In fairness, some companies go half the way by telling consumers where they can purchase the product they’re about to enjoy for free. But they’re the exception.
Consumers WILL give you their name and email address if you give them valid reasons to do so, particularly if you’ve just given them something for nothing.
Then, you can contact them about competitions, events, surveys, content to post on social media, cross-selling other products etc etc. The mind boggles with the marketing opportunities created by building a simple database.
Even better, when it comes to a product sampling campaign building an email database is an ‘off-cut’ of the main game. So that way everyone wins, not just Joe and Jane.
So that way it really is simple, elegant and compelling.
 
The Message is brought to you by Tick Yes – providing solutions for all your digital and content marketing needs.
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Digital Marketing: You Know ‘What?’ but do You Know ‘Why?’

Isn’t digital marketing fun!
So many things you can do: websites to build, apps to create, social media updates to post, emails to send. It never ends. No wonder everyone wants to work in digital. You can fill your day doing the sorts of things you do after work anyway. And you get paid for it; bonus!
If playing with shiny new things is…your thing, digital is irresistible.
There’s only one teensy weensy question that’s should be asked by the buzz kill types (usually senior management): why are you doing it?
BEWARE: there are plenty of people who can tell you what you can do with digital, but far fewer who can look holistically at your brand and business and give you a commercially meaningful answer as to why you should do it. And, how digital strategies can help you to achieve your sales and marketing objectives. Which they can.
If you don’t have an integrated digital strategy – as opposed to a digital implementation plan – tread carefully. When you ‘do digital’ just for the sake, in all likelihood all that will happen is that you will deplete your budget and have nothing to show for it. Apart from the shiny new things, of course.
 
The Message is brought to you by Tick Yes – providing solutions for all your digital and content marketing needs.
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Serious Numbers

This week we achieved an incredible milestone. Our humble musings about all things digital, marketing and heck, life as we know it clicked over to a zero number of reads; lots of zeros in fact. Since ‘The Message’ was launched in 2011 our posts have been read over 400,000 times; by 266,000++ visitors no less.
Seriously.
So a BIG thank you. It’s astounding that our small blog that we haven’t really marketed in any meaningful way beyond a little bit of social sharing has been so popular. Of course there are many blogs that probably boast these types of figures every month but we never thought we’d be a able to attract even a fraction of the numbers that we have.
Did I mention thank you?
While we’re talking numbers, here are our five most popular posts (in order of number of reads) all of which still get major traffic every month:
1. How social media is helping beat cyber-bullying
2. Caveman porn
3. Instagram Joins the Video-posting Trend
4. A brief history of culture jamming
5. Are Anonymous’ days numbered?
OK, need to get back to work. 500,000 beckons!
 
The Message is brought to you by Tick Yes – providing solutions for all your digital and content marketing needs.
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In Life and on LinkedIn, Saying “Thank You” Can Take You a Long Way

 
 

Too Many Brands, Not Enough Money

Shock horror. Major retailer Myer has announced that it’s cutting 100 brands to make way for ‘new’ brands. This follows arch rival David Jones’ earlier decision to also axe 180 brands.
It’s all about rationalisation, freeing up shelf space, offering more mid-market offerings blah, blah, blah. We’ve heard it all before.
Cry not for the brands, however.
Frankly, the decision probably makes sound commercial sense. If the soon to be gone brands aren’t pulling their sales/profit weight they should be deleted. It’s always up to the brand owner to drive sales by ensuring that it’s relevant to its target market.
What these decisions do highlight though is the critical need for brands to take greater control of their distribution channel destiny. Clearly, you can’t trust the accursed retailers with their competing agendas.
As I previously wrote, this could not be more cruelly apparent than with supermarkets where Coles & Woolworths are doing a brilliant job of leveraging the demand created by their ‘brand partners’ to create their own premium brands.
So where does that leave the poor old brand owner now shivering out in the cold?
Go direct and retail intermediaries be damned!
Seek out your customers directly by connecting with them online. Open stores on Amazon and eBay. Build massive opt-in email databases and send regular eDMs focused on customers’ specific needs and interests. Engage your customers directly. If you don’t, someone else will and in all likelihood they won’t have your best interests at heart.
Ceding transactional control of your customers to retailers is an old paradigm. It’s not a redundant paradigm, mind you. If you can be listed in a major retailer, fantastic. Enjoy the ride and make your money.
But as hundreds of brand owners are now finding out, being on the inside with a retailer is not something you can or should rely on.
The only loyalty you can count on is from customers with whom you have a direct relationship. The margins are higher, the control is far greater and, if you do your job well, customer satisfaction will be the best it has ever been.
 
The Message is brought to you by Tick Yes – providing solutions for all your digital and content marketing needs.
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SOS: Students or Staff?

 
 

The Email Strikes Back

Imagine a time long, long ago: 2002.
Facebook was but a twinkle in Mark Zuckerberg’s eye. ‘App’ was nothing more than my nickname. Big data sounded like a Clint Eastwood movie. And digital marketing, well that meant banner ads, websites, My Space profiles and spam emails.
Good times.
Fast forward to today and boy, it’s SO much more exciting! Digital technology is infinitely more ingrained in our lives and all manner of platforms, programs and strategies are now available to digital marketers.
There’s only one problem: those pesky bean counters keep on wanting you to deliver a profit from your investment in digital.
Hate that.
There is good news, however.
If you thought Facebook’s 1.4 billion users was impressive, how about another digital platform that has 3.9 billion users. It has a 300% higher conversion rate than social media with sales that have 17% higher value. And here’s the kicker: for every $1 spent on this platform, the average return is $44.25. That’s a lot of beans to count.
So what is this amazing digital platform? It’s, wait for it, EMAIL!
Email? Are you serious? Email is so, well, old and boring.
Yes, compared to all the latest digital, mobile and social media thingamies, email marketing has whiskers. It hasn’t had the digerati WOW factor since the 90’s. And if you’re waiting for an invitation to deliver the keynote at a digital marketing conference dissecting your highly successful email marketing program, don’t hold your breath.
For a time there, the figures suggested that email was on the way out. According to the McKinsey iConsumer survey there was a 20% decline in email usage from 2008 to 2012, inversely proportional to the increased popularity of social media, instant messaging and mobile apps.
Given that many marketers have the attention span of a tsetse fly, the endless new digital tools to play with are tailor made. You get your head around Instagram and then along comes Pinterest. You master YouTube and then you have to contend with Periscope (or Meerkat). Heaven!
The key problem that digital technology has created for many marketers is that there are so many new platforms and methods to learn about that the ‘what to do’ has taken the focus away from the ‘why to do it’.
I’ve seen millions of dollars spent on ‘doing digital stuff’ with no clear strategy as to how the activity will lead to increased sales, awareness, new customers or more satisfied existing customers. As for a longer-term vision that builds on the momentum that’s been created by the initial digital campaign, forget about it.
Of course, it’s not all doom and gloom. Smart marketers have been focused on building digital assets since the 90’s; starting with opt-in email databases through to active communities on target market appropriate social media platforms.
While the jury’s still out on putting all your eggs in the social media basket, there has been a clear resurgence in email marketing’s appeal.
Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s 2015 State of Marketing report found that for 73% of marketers email is core to their business. Tellingly, 60% see email as a critical ‘enabler’ of their products and services this year compared to 42% in 2014.
Even though there hasn’t been anything new to get excited about with email since Adam was fretting over the Y2K virus, the savvy among us know that if it’s results you’re after email marketing is what you should be doing.
Not that the humble email in and of itself is anything special. As with any type of marketing, the magic is not in the technology or the delivery method, it lies in the ability of that marketing initiative to take the target market from point A to point B.
As you’ve no doubt experienced, in the hands of amateurs and villains, email has the power to damage and dilute a brand. How many deathly dull email newsletters have you received that talk all about the sender and nothing that’s remotely interesting to you?
And then there’s spam.
It could be argued – convincingly – that any commercial email that doesn’t focus on what your market is interested in and what can help them is spam.
So be warned. You don’t have to be selling dodgy medical cures or timeshare apartments for recipients to hate you for wasting their time and clogging up their inbox.
Conversely, effectively crafted email marketing is still what it has always been: an incredibly flexible, highly targeted, trackable and results-generating strategy.
Here’s a fun exercise: compare the cost per personal contact for email versus any other sales or marketing method. We did this recently for a client’s Business-2-Business email marketing campaign and compared it to their salespeople calling on the same number of customers who opened the email. There was around a $275,000 difference in favour of the humble email. It’s enough to give those bean counters palpitations.
By all means do the fun digital stuff; it may not achieve terribly much but it sure as heck can look good on your CV.
However, if you’re the person responsible for generating leads, driving sales and serving your customers more effectively, email marketing could well be the solution, digital or otherwise, that you need.
 
The Message is brought to you by Tick Yes – providing solutions for all your digital and content marketing needs.
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Email Marketing

 
 

Context Marketing

Last week I binge watched a new ABC TV series called Glitch. While it’s an Australian series to proud of, most noteworthy is the fact that viewers have been given the choice as to how they view the show.
Traditional viewers can watch the series over 6 weeks where they’ve always watched: on TV. Non-traditional – in the main, younger - viewers can watch the whole series on iView, ABC’s streaming service via their device of choice.
Netflix did the same by uploading all 13 episodes of its sensational House of Cards Season 3.
If you needed more proof was that marketers no longer run the show this it. Consumer ‘hyper-choice’ is the new normal.
Today, social media, digital and content marketing are the tools. Context is the strategic glue that binds.
What does that mean?
It means that we need to anticipate that our products and services will be used in so many more ways, place and times than were ever anticipated even 5 years ago.
Sure, we’ve been hearing that the consumer is now in charge ever since the internet sputtered to life via a dial-up modem.
With advances in our technical connectedness, however the context in which we choose to consume has not just evolved our choices, it has also evolved our expectations.
All of which makes it pretty tough if you sell something pretty standard like tomato sauce. Or Derek Jeter bobble-heads. Or calculators (remember when a phone was a phone and a calculator was a calculator? Good times).
This contextual paradigm shift has confounded some very clever folks across a range of industries including the media, publishing, music and travel.
Other industries, of course have risen and thrived. Gaming, IT security, micro-niche websites are examples.
So what to do to make sure you stay ahead and allow your customers the latitude they clearly expect?
Here are our context marketing tips:

Anticipate
Plan for the fact that your customers expect to be in charge of how / when / why they use your products. No longer doleful followers, we’ve been spoiled by choice. Unless you’re selling something unique, desirable and breathtakingly compelling, you need to satisfy this yearning..or else.
Promote
Let customers know about how wonderfully fluid your offering is. You’d be surprised how few marketers ‘get’ that the world has changed. Uploading a website or posting funny photos on Facebook and Instagram does not a masterful marketer make.
Leverage
How can you link and associate your offering with those that are similar to provide an optimal customer experience. Cross and up-sell in the old parlance, the strategy has never been more important. I’m a huge fan of the smarty who came up with the McDonald’s Happy Meal that bundles together a range of food and toys to make kids happy and their parents spend more. What’s your Happy Meal solution?

The upshot of all this: focus on lateral ways you can market and sell.
 
The Message is brought to you by Tick Yes – providing solutions for all your digital and content marketing needs.
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When to Go All in Online

I’ve had an interesting experience this week. Someone I had never heard of or met proactively contacted me and wanted to connect on LinkedIn. And via email.
And on Skype.
And on Facebook.
Kudos for a shock and awe approach to connect with a prospect. It didn’t work though. I didn’t accept any of her invitations no matter how impressive her persistence and cyber-stalking skills were.
As someone who also proactively contacts people with whom I’d like to do business I have great respect for her energy and application. It’s just her judgement and of course her offering that caused me to not engage with her.
While I had obviously been vetted by the business I run – I assume my dashing good looks didn’t figure too highly as a selection criterion – her ‘try every digital touch point in one hit’ left me cold.
This is what I wrote about in my book Customer Romance (www.customerromance.com). We customers need to wooed before we’re won. Heck, we may not even be right for you or vice versa. But if you show me that I matter and that you want to get to know my needs, fears, wants and desires and then MAYBE we can take it to the next level.
Try liking my last LinkedIn Pulse article, or leave a comment. Take a position on one of our articles on our Google+ page. Re-tweet what we tweeted an hour ago.
Take an authentic interest in me and what I’m doing and the law of reciprocity may kick in.
It’s a lot of work isn’t it. And ultimately, it may all be for nothing as I may STILL not be interested in what you’re selling.
But that’s what it takes to form a relationship personally or professionally. Nothing is ever guaranteed. What IS guaranteed however is that if you go too far too soon you’ll invariably be rebuffed and then there’s no way back.
One of my favourite digital marketing sayings is ‘just because you can doesn’t mean you should’. Yes, I’m on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Skype but trying to connect with me on most of these over the course of 12 or so hours when I’ve never heard of you is a little much.
Perhaps it my Australian reserve coming out but without getting to know me you probably didn’t know I’d feel that way.
Now before you suggest that I get over it, having empathy and understanding as to how your beautifully crafted sales and marketing initiatives will be received by your target market is critical to your success or otherwise.
If you want your audiences to be receptive rather than resentful, get up from behind your desk, walk a mile in their shoes and try to genuinely look at what you’re doing from THEIR point of view.
It’s marketing 101 but it’s not easy. You’re infinitely more aware of what you need rather than what they need. But that’s why we’re called sales and marketing professionals. We have the judgement to know when to hold and we know when to fold (thank you Kenny Rogers).
The Message is brought to you by Tick Yes – providing solutions for all your digital and content marketing needs.
Image courtesy of: goodenough.asia

Is Your Company Ready for iOS 9?

Last month, on June 8th, Apple introduced its newest operating system called iOS 9. The system will be for iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad and will be released in a few months. The new system will include all the...

Worst Digital Marketing Advice We’ve Ever Heard

“Be controversial to get traffic to your site.”
Sometimes, controversy can be a good thing. You can get people talking about your brand and gain more recognition. However, trying to be controversial is essentially playing with fire. It is so easy to stray a little too far into the controversy and have the whole thing blow up in your face. Also, it is almost impossible to sustain controversy for too long, and a digital marketing plan is one thing that needs to be sustainable.
“Don’t worry if you mess up. Just delete it.”
In the new age of the Internet, deleting something is incredible difficult. If you make a negative comment or a poor joke online, everyone can see it immediately. Even if you delete it as soon as you realise your mistake, thousands of people could already have seen it and they can share it with many more. Some people think the best advantage about the Internet is how quickly things can spread, but in some cases this can also be the greatest disadvantage.
“It doesn’t matter what you post about, just post as often as possible for new traffic.”
Although posting often is a good thing, if what you post is lousy or boring, it will not help your business get found online. You may get a lot of traffic early on, but readers will quickly get tired of sub-par posts and leave your site for good. This is a common mistake and all businesses should live by the recognisable saying “quality over quantity”.
“Establish a presence everywhere.”
There are SO many social networks and other ways to market you business online that it is almost impossible to be everywhere. The key is to focus on a few popular options and use them dedicatedly. Spending your time marketing on 10-15 different networks takes time away from doing other important things for your business. By focusing on the most important networks, you can effectively market your business without spending too much time managing profiles or updating information.
“Dealing with comments is hard, so it’s better to just disable comments altogether.”
Of all they bad advice out there, this one definitely takes the cake. First of all, people are going to express their opinions in other ways if they cannot comment. They will go on social media or other platforms, which makes it harder for you to manage the conversation. In addition, disabling comments makes you look like a company that is unable to deal with reality. Comments are supposed to help you to know what your readers are looking for. Comments could give you new ideas that help you grow and attract new customers. And yes, negative comments can be difficult to deal with. Readers can complain or unjustly criticise your company, making it hard to respond without hurting yourself. The best way to do this is just to be honest and genuine with your readers. Do your best to answer them if they have questions or help them if they have complaints, but the worst thing you can do is to not let them comment at all.
 
The Message is brought to you by Tick Yes – providing solutions for all your digital and content marketing needs.