Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Smart Phones Are Now Personal Shopping Devices

Phones are people's lives that hold connections, friends, and family members at the touch of a button (or touchscreen). But when you take another look at it, phones aren't just phones anymore. They are computers, cameras, video recorders, gaming systems, televisions, GPS, and now shopping devices!

Leo Burnett recently determined that 50% of moble phone owners use their devices to shop. The eye-opening statistic is extremely important to businesses all over the world.  Apps, text message campaigns, and mobile friendly websites are a necessity for shopping websites/companies. These utilities are not only able to give customers info about store hours, GPS locators to find nearby stores, promotional coupons, and various product information/specifications, but it will result in more app downloads and more traffic on the mobile website. This will result in increased awareness, customer loyalty, improved customer perception, which will ultimately lead to a boost in sales.

People are on their phones for hours everyday, so you better have a presence there, or your competitors will. The number of cell phone users are twice the amount of internet users! With statistics like that, businesses big and small need to be up to date on their marketing efforts, especially with a focus in utilizing emerging digital techniques, including mobile marketing.

Check out this awesome use of social coupons on mobile devices - via LivingSocial

Monday, April 18, 2011

Buzz Marketing Part I

What's all the buzzzzz about?
Consumers are estimated to view over 5,000 advertisements a day and even more corporate logos, so how do companies stand out from their competitors? Some utilize traditional advertising measure that use an emotional, humorous, fear, or fantasy appeal. But others are trying out a newer form of marketing that lets consumers talk about a company’s product or service, known as buzz marketing. Buzz marketing uses the art of word of mouth to spread the word of a specific product or service. 

Many companies rely on this new technique to engage customers as opposed to traditional forms of marketing, like print, radio, television, outdoor, and digital marketing methods. Word of mouth is something all companies need to shoot for in their marketing efforts, because it is coming to the point where people don't buy a product because an advertisement tells them to, they buy something because their friends tell them too. In a time where businesses are finding out unique ways to interact with consumers, how can companies successfully engage customers to the point where word of mouth/buzz marketing will take place? Does Guerrilla Marketing come into play here? What are your thoughts?

Part II coming soon! In the mean time, check out this crazy/freaky video of a flash mob utilizing the element of fear to create buzz.
Unfortunately, the closing text is in German, but it translates to, "Do they know what zone they are living in." This video was made to increase the awareness of risk associated with nuclear accidents. Do you think it was a success?

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Digital Revolution is Happening

Are you on board? Companies are utilizing digital media for their marketing plans now more than ever. The days of advertising on traditional methods like television, radio, print media, billboards, and direct mail pieces are still around, but we see business going for a strong digital presence.

There are many reasons for this change in media vehicles, but the one that should be focused on the most is ROI (Return on Investment).

ROI = (Gain from Investment - Cost of Investment) / Cost of Investment.

In the long run, marketing is all about seeing results. However, ROI is more difficult to determine when utilizing the traditional methods of advertising. This is why digital media is more consistent and accurate with its results. Advertising online can give you extremely thorough reports of who is visiting your ads, how long they view it, if they took action to view your ad, among other detailed insights. For example, if one was to advertise on Facebook, they could choose the gender, geographic region, demographic details, and psychographics (hobbies, interests, etc.) of their target market. This makes it possible for niche marketing to occur. This, along with Facebook's new real-time ad system, is probably why they are projected to make over $2 billion in advertising this year.

Digital marketing needs to engage the customer (also known as pull advertising). Other examples of this include location-based services, mobile apps, or text message marketing. These are fairly new marketing mediums, but some companies are figuring out a successful recipe by utilizing these new trends. Regardless, the digital revolution is happening whether you like it or not. Hop on board before your competition does and kicks you to the curb.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Is Your Business Utilizing Location-Based Services?

With so many ways to connect with consumers, companies need to have a constant presence to be as accessible as possible. Sure, having a great online presence (company website, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, etc.) is becoming a necessity, but something that businesses need to be utilizing are location-based services like Foursquare and Facebook Places in their integrated marketing efforts.

These mobile apps, used with Android, Blackberry, and iPhone mobile devices, allow people to connect with their friends by updating where they are and what they are doing. It's like a status update by specifying where your current location is (stores, bars, restaurants, local businesses). Why should companies care? Well, when people check in to a specific location, it is visible to their entire list of friends. The reach with these location-based services is extremely large. More or less, your company is getting free promotion, PR, and word of mouth. If an individual checks in to your local coffee shop and adds the message, "Some friends and I are here to grab a warm cup of coffee, come join us!" This has the potential to bring in more traffic for your business. It also helps that close to 40 million people are using these apps.

These apps give the user a sense of accomplishment by awarding them points, virtual badges, titles, and in some cases promotional coupons for every check-in. Facebook Placesgives businesses the opporetunity to donate to a charity every time someone checks in to their location. Personally, I enjoy going to venues in the area and checking in on Foursquare opposed to Facebook Places. The interface is easier to use and has a much more appealing design. Overall, these apps are a great way to be involved with friends in the area and interact with local businesses. Is your company using these amazingly popular location-based services to attract and retain customers?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

QR Codes

Scan code to go to my LinkedIn page
Yes, I'm talking about those weird 2-D barcodes that have a bunch of little squares put together. When you scan these barcodes with a smartphone, you will receive a transfer of information, whether it be a virtual business card, a website, a video, a picture, or any other type of engaging content.

The marketing purpose for QR codes is to involve the consumer to take initiative and scan your code. I know the Android market has multiple free applications that will help you scan the QR codes to obtain content and I'm sure the iPhone does as well. Most of these codes can be found on billboards, business cards, in-store displays, and even t-shirts!

Personally, I have never seen a QR code when I'm out and about, but that doesn't mean people aren't utilizing them. These codes were actually developed in 1994, but have just caught on in recent years due to the creativity and engaging aspects of marketing campaigns. With viral and guerrilla marketing becoming more commonly used practices, consumers might be seeing more and more of theses codes. The creativity with these codes is basically limitless and I personally believe that companies can reach customers and get them involved in their campaigns. Consumers don't want messages and ads shoved down their throat, they want to participate in them. These QR codes are a perfect segue into making that happen, especially if they offer valuable content to the consumer (product/service information, a cool picture or video, promotional coupon, etc.).

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Dress to Impress

"The clothes make the man." If you are not familiar with Illinois State University's dress code for marketing majors, you can get all the information you could ever want here. Long story short, all marketing students at ISU are required to come to class in business casual attire. Some people have mixed feelings about this mandated effort, but personally, I am all for it! I can honestly say that I feel more professional, productive, and well-mannered when I am in the State Farm Hall of Business in my required "neatly pressed shirt and slacks." There is just something about being professionally dressed in an outstanding building that makes me feel good about myself and my major. Everybody on campus knows that if they see a person dressed up in business casual attire, its a marketing student. I love everything about that, because people look at me and recognize me as a professional. Upon graduating and obtaining a full-time job, we will have to dress up and look our best, so why not start early and get used to carrying yourself as a clean-cut professional?

I think that the marketing department made a great choice in enforcing this dress code because it builds and improves the university's image. ISU and the College of Business has made some great strides in the recent past, becoming number 93 out of the top 100 business schools in the country. Overall, I think that the dress code enforced by the marketing department makes the students improve their image, professional demeanor, productivity, and grades. Do you think that more universities will adopt a dress code like this?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Social Media in 2005

I recently read an article that discussed how young adults interacted in the era when social media was on the rise. This article was written 5 1/2 years ago and mainly focuses on how the 'at-the-time powerhouse,' Myspace, was experimenting with online advertising.

But to understand this time period, we need to take a step back and really think about what is going on in 2005. CD's were popular, everyone was on Myspace, nobody was on Facebook, and Twitter would not be launched until a few months after this article was published. The article discusses one-hit wonders like the Baha Men, who sang "Who Let the Dogs Out." The next possible one-hit wonder brought up? Facebook! At the time, Mark Zuckerburg was 21 years old and the site wasn't turning a profit. Little did everyone know, Facebook would become the absolute beast it is today!

Advertising on these sites was an experiment due to the fact that people didn't know how users would react to ads. People tried advertising on social networks strictly because they had the potential to reach teens through virtual word of mouth for a relatively small investment. Teens don't buy things because an ad tells them to, they buy because their friends tell them to. If companies could successfully advertise on social media sites, they could be the conductors of the viral word of mouth train. Luckily, they developed ads that didn't block your view or were over-the-top obnoxious. The ads were so subtle that kids could not distinguish between actual content and advertisements.

It is amazing to see how this advertising phenomenon started. Now, Facebook has developed a new advertising system that can use your content (status updates, wall posts, etc.) as an ad for a company. I recently created a post about this, and it can be read here. Facebook is also experimenting with real-time ads that will analyze your status, "Man, I could really go for some pizza..." and develop an ad with a coupon from a local Pizza Hut. Ad Age recently published an article about this. Overall, social media advertising is absolutely new to our market! Luckily, there are jobs sprouting everywhere in this marketing sector. Just imagine what kind of ads will be running in jus a few short years! It will be so intriguing to see how his develops. Hope you enjoyed the post! Please discuss your thoughts in the comment section below.