Thursday, January 31, 2013

NFC "Will Change Marketing Forever"

Firebrand has declared near-field communication (NFC) the "new transformative technology that will change marketing forever."

According to the firm, three applications will drive the transformation:

Tags. "This is where marketing can shine," Firebrand says. "You see a poster of the latest blockbuster Hollywood movie at a bus shelter. You then tap the NFC tag to view the movie trailer, download an app or game associated with the film, and buy the movie ticket instantly. Wow!"

Sharing. Consumers bumping their peers' smartphones "will be the way customers share branded information."

Payments. Bye, bye credit cards! You'll use your phone to pay for almost everything, "from purchasing a bus or train ticket, taxi fare, buying a Coke at a 7-11 or paying for your groceries at the checkout."

"NFC is going to make your advertising and marketing so much more effective, as it brings the digital world into the real world," the firm says.

Customers will walk into a retail store, tap an NFC tag on a product to open a price comparison Website, see real-time ratings and reviews of the product on social media, and buy it. 

"All marketing collateral will feature an NFC tag (replacing the cumbersome website URL or phone number) that prompts you to download more information," the firm predicts.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

None is One

On Pike Place in Seattle, I visited the original Starbucks this week.

My stop reminded me of a favorite statement by Jean-Paul Sartre, "Even when I make a cup of coffee I change the world."

The philosopher meant your every action—large or small—affects all others.

Even though you may not want the job, you are "a legislator deciding for the whole of mankind."

What are you up to today?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Economy is Broken Because Trust is Broken

A "trust deficit" is hampering an economic recovery, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Public trust, "an essential lubricant for economic activity," is broken, the paper says.

"You don't have to look hard to find examples of fraying trust in American society today," the paper says.

"Lance Armstrong admits to cheating to win seven Tour de France titles; Democrats and Republicans can't seem to work with each other; Wall Street keeps delivering new scandals."

Besides Wall Street and the federal government, large corporations, labor unions, newspapers and TV networks are among the most mistrusted institutions in the US today.

But there are glimmers of hope.

Last year's Edelman Trust Barometer "showed big increases in measures of trust toward government, media and business compared with a year earlier," the paper reports.

How can your organization combat mistrust?

Learn from my free white paper, Path of Persuasion.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Dan Pink on the Secret to Must-Read Emails

Best-selling author Dan
Pink contributed today's post. His new book, To Sell is Human, occupies the No. 1 spot on the best-seller lists of The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post; and the No. 2 spot on The New York Times.

What's the secret to a must-read email?

Researchers from Carnegie-Mellon University studied this issue by sitting with email recipients and asking them to narrate which emails they opened and why.
The researchers' conclusions were stark: the most effective email Subject lines appealed to either utility or curiosity.
That is, the emails most likely to be opened had Subject lines that either:
  • Indicated the email was directly related and relevant to the recipient's work; or
  • Provoked a level of uncertainty that made the recipient curious about what the message contained
The principles of utility and curiosity operate somewhat differently based on the situation of the recipient. The researchers found that utility works best when people have a heavy email load—and that curiosity can be extremely effective when the email load is lighter.

Since people have so much email these days, my approach is generally to use Subject lines that emphasize the usefulness of the email's contents—and emails themselves that are as concise as I can possibly create.

Perhaps the best advice is not to get caught in the mushy middle.

Craft the Subject line so that it's immediately clear that the contents of the email are useful (for example, “Three solutions to our paper supplier problem”). Or craft the Subject line so that it gets people curious (for example, “You're not going to believe what I learned about paper suppliers!”). But avoid falling in between those poles with Subject lines like "Followup," "Question" and so on.

The mushy middle is where emails go to die.

The Role of Chance

Business is frightfully competitive. So we tend to believe only the fittest survive.

But success may take more luck than pluck.

Investment strategist Michael Mauboussin thinks so.
He claims we're too quick to discount the role chance plays in business.
“People attempt to extract lessons from what is mostly a random process,” Mauboussin tells readers of Inc.

“Once something has been successful, we start to believe it was the only thing that could have happened.”

By idolizing business winners, Mauboussin says, we forget there were others who followed the same strategies, but failed.
Remembering those failures helps you “keep your mind open to other possibilities,” he says.

Paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould observed the same thing in nature. Gould thought chance was a deciding factor in the evolution of life on earth.
He based his conclusions on fossilized animals discovered in Canada’s Burgess Shale.

The animals in the Burgess Shale were all exquisitely suited to their environment. But none left modern descendants.

From the fact, Gould concluded that fitness is no guarantee of survival.
Survival is really a matter of luck.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

5 Newsletter Must-Haves

Promoting an event?

Digital marketer Juli Cummins, writing for Innovation Insider, says these five features should be included in your next newsletter:

Videos. Videos are smart because they're easy to share and watch on mobile devices. Including one on how to use your Website can boost registrations.

QR codes. QR codes drive readers to videos, Websites, photos and other content you can't include in the newsletter.

Personalization. You can boost readership by segmenting your list. Segment attendees by category, interests or preferences and blast targeted newsletters.

Special deals. Reward readers with newsletter exclusives like gift cards and discounts.

Short cuts. Devote a chunk of your newsletter to Web links to useful info. Include a single sign-on link that lets readers register without entering a username and password.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ready for the Content Arms Race?

B2B marketers be warned!

We stand at the threshold of a "Content Arms Race," says Doug Kessler, creative director for Velocity, on Hubspot's Inbound Marketing Blog.

He compares the state of content marketing today to that of TV advertising in the 1950s.

"The first companies to jump into this exciting new medium discovered something big," he writes. "They discovered that they could use TV ads to build something called brands."

But it wasn't long before TV's pioneers were swamped by sodbusters, and TV advertising lost its luster.

"We’re in a similar place right now," Kessler writes. The window is shutting on opportunities to become content-marketing pioneers ("Those guys who put out that great stuff”).

Marketers instead are entering a Content Arms Race in which "every marketing discipline is becoming content-powered. 

"In the content marketplace, you’re not just up against your direct competitors," Kessler says. "You’re up against everyone who’s producing content on the same issues. You’re competing against all of these in an epic battle for the scarcest resource on Earth: people’s attention."

What's the fallout?

"When the deluge hits," Kessler says, "all this content is going to start to look a hell of a lot like something we’ve all become really, really good at ignoring. It’s going to look like advertising."

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Avoid the Comma Splice

Part 3 of a 3-part series on the usage rules for commas
To avoid looking unlettered, master Rule Three:

Never use commas to splice together separate sentences.
Grammarians call an infraction of the rule a "comma splice." 

Here's an example:
Thanks for registering for FACE, check your email for confirmation.
What's the right way to state this? Chop it in two:
Thanks for registering for FACE. Check your email for confirmation.
Seem too choppy? You could use an em-dash:
Thanks for registering for FACE—check your email for confirmation. 
Or, at last resort, a semi-colon:
Thanks for registering for FACE; check your email for confirmation.
Marketers most often introduce comma splices when linking separate, but related, ideas:
Admission to FACE Expo is free, however you must pay to attend the conference sessions.
Grammarians consider the adverb however too "weak," however, to separate the ideas. Only a period, em-dash or semi-colon will do:
Admission to FACE Expo is free. However, you must pay to attend the conference sessions.
Admission to FACE Expo is freehowever, you must pay to attend the conference sessions.
Admission to FACE Expo is free; however, you must pay to attend the conference sessions.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Mind Your Oxford Commas

Part 2 of a 3-part series on the usage rules for commas
A misused comma can make a sharp marketer look dull.
Here's Rule Two:
When you write a sentence that includes a list of three or more items, you may or may not put a comma before the last item in the list.
The decision depends on style, not grammar.
If you follow the Oxford Guide to Style, you'd write:
Join now and receive an official association decal, member's hat, and free admission to FACE.
But if you follow the Associated Press Stylebook, you'd write:
Join now and receive an official association decal, member's hat and free admission to FACE.
Fans of the "Oxford comma" argue it eliminates ambiguity. Consider this example:
Our keynoters include FACE's outgoing and incoming chairmen, Ted Danson and Al Gore.
It's unclear whether two or four keynote speakers will appear. An Oxford Comma would eliminate that ambiguity:
Our keynoters include FACE's outgoing and incoming chairmen, Ted Danson, and Al Gore.
Of course, you could remove the ambiguity by reordering the items in the list:
Our keynoters include Ted Danson, Al Gore and FACE's outgoing and incoming chairmen.
But an Oxford Comma would improve the sentence's readability. That's why even the Associated Press Stylebook would urge you to include one:
Our keynoters include Ted Danson, Al Gore, and FACE's outgoing and incoming chairmen.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Don't Look Comma-tose

Part 1 of a 3-part series on the usage rules for commas
It's easy to misuse commas. 
The rules of use are terribly complex.
But they're worth mastering, because a misused comma makes an otherwise sharp marketer look dull.
Here's Rule One.
Use a comma when you name something that's the only thing on earth described by the words you use to identify it; otherwise, don't use a comma. For example:
If you attended our annual meeting, FACE, you know it featured as keynote speaker the CEO of Techno, Sue Smart. 
There's only one FACE and only one CEO of Techno.
Our monthly Webinar WOW featured technology expert Dot Friendly.
There are many WOWs and many technology experts.
When your description stands on its ownbecause there's only onethe name isn't needed in the sentence. So use a comma before it; otherwise, don't.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Want Followers? Go Native.

Inc. wants advertisers to go native.

So-called "native advertising" is marketing content that's camouflaged.

Inc. believes we'll hear a lot more about native advertising in the months to come.

A native ad looks and feels like 'the format, style, and voice of whatever platform it appears in," Inc. says. It blends into the landscape so well visitors see it as part of the platform.

As a result, a native ad is better readand responded tothan a display ad.

But native advertising isn't easy, Inc. warns.

You need a steady stream of platform-tailored content.

Fortunately, "The content in question does not have to be slick to be effective," Inc. notes.

Marketers should let go their obsession with eye-pleasing imagery and focus instead on boldness, the magazine says.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Three Tips for Better Storytelling

Struggling to tell your company's story in a way that connects with customers?
Freelance writer Nadia Goodman offers three tips in Entrepreneur:
Describe your company's value in human terms. The compulsion to close deals blocks storytelling. Marketers fall back on contract-talk to define the company's value, when the customers really want to hear how you differ from competitors. "Your real value is about what you believe in," Goodman says. "You're looking for the thing that your organization truly cares about."
Get everyone on the same page. You're in trouble if your CEO describes the company differently than a front-line worker. To get everyone on the same page, Goodman suggests, ask a sample of people at various ranks to provide five adjectives they'd use to describe the company and two statements of the company's value. "Look for themes or especially strong responses, and synthesize them into a clearly defined description," Goodman says.
Give your brand personality. "Once you know why you matter and how to describe your value, choose the type of person that could best deliver that message," Goodman says. Your company should have a "personality" that's clear and consistent. You need to decide, for example, whether it's masculine or feminine; conservative or quirky; opinionated or open-minded.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Office Spaced

Office supplier Herman Miller introduced the Action Office 1 in 1964.

It featured wall-less work spaces of varying heights that allowed freedom of movement. 

The designers believed Action Office 1 was ideally suited to small professional offices, where managers and employees often interacted using the same furniture.

But the product was expensive and flopped big time.

Herman Miller quickly redesigned Action Office 1 and re-released it as Action Office 2.

The redesign was a hit. 

Today we call the product a "cubicle." 

In 1970, the designer of the Action Office 1 wrote that Action Office 2 was perfect for "planners looking for ways of cramming in a maximum number of bodies, for 'employees' (as against individuals), for 'personnel,' corporate zombies, the walking dead, the silent majority."

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

You're Producing Your Own Video. What's the Point?

Washington, DC-based writer/producer Dan Bailes contributed today's post. He has created shows for American Diabetes Association, National Association of Realtors, National Geographic and Urban Land Institute.

First, to power up your video, ask yourself, what’s the point?
What are you trying to accomplish and why?

Second, ask yourself how your product or service benefits your target audience.

And show it!

Best yet, show real people who have benefited from what you have to offer.

Third, have them tell their stories in their own words. 

Authenticity is key and that’s a great way to convince your audience of the benefit of what you have to offer.

Fourth, shorter is better. 

Fifth, if you spent all those years gaining vital experience to excel at what you do, why do you think you can just do the video yourself? 

Sorry about that, but hire a pro. 

It will make all the difference. 

And that’s the whole point, right?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Don't Make These 4 Deadly Video Mistakes

Writing for Intuit’s Small Business Blog, videomaker C.J. Bruce warns marketers of four deadly Web video mistakes.
Not producing a video. "Using video for your business is no longer optional," Bruce writes. The availability of prosumer gear removes the age-old excuse "video is too expensive."
Producing a video. One video "isn't a content strategy," Bruce says. "After all, you wouldn’t send just one email, put up just one blog post, or have a TV commercial air just once." Bruce suggests producing a series of videos and releasing them weekly through the span of a quarter.
Believing you'll go viral. The chances your video will go viral are slim. "You need to have a plan for your videos that includes marketing them with social media and SEO tactics," Bruce says. Be sure to put your videos on your Website and send the link to your email list. Also consider placing ads on Google.
Counting views. Engagement is more important than viewership. Put in place systems to track YouTube likes, shares, comments and viewing times after your video goes live.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

You Say You Want a Revolution?

Then get ready.

It's called NFC.
It will change the way attendees discover content at events.

NFC (the acronym for "Near Field Communication") is a form of short-range wireless that bridges the gap between the real and virtual worlds.

The technology allows anyone with an NFC-ready mobile phone or tablet to access content by touching the device to a comparable one—or to a "smart poster."

Thanks to the manufacturers, nearly one-third of new phones are NFC-ready right now. Two years hence, all will be.

With NFC, attendees will be able to touch salespeople's phones and instantly download anything now delivered on line. Videos. PowerPoint slides. Flyers. White papers. Discount coupons. You name it.

Salespeople not around? No worries. Attendees can do the same thing by touching a smart poster.

But wait, there's more.
Provided the nearest cash register is NFC-ready, attendees will be able to pay for purchases with a touch of their phones.

The revolution NFC will usher in isn't pie in the sky.

It's underway as we speak.

EXPO Magazine has said NFC "will change the face-to-face landscape."

Learn why "NFC will disrupt how things are done."

Friday, January 4, 2013

B2B Marketers: Attract Big Dogs with Web Video

They gripe when employees do it.
But 73% of C-level executives watch Web videos during the workday, says MagnetVideo's David Rose.
That's big news for marketers.
Web videos work especially well when you want to draw the top dogs to your booth at a tradeshow, according to Rose.
One of his clients, QuantiSense, used a Web video to boost traffic at the National Retail Federation's Annual Expo.
Traffic increased 218%.
Before the show, QuantiSense shot a one-minute video and built a show-specific landing page to house it. The firm then blasted promotional emails to prospective attendees, and shared links to the landing page on social media outposts. The firm also posted the video on YouTube, grabbing organic Google search traffic by including the term "NRF 2012" in the video's title, description, tags and closed captioning.
During the show, the firm placed a 60-foot high banner outside the entrance to the exhibit hall. The banner featured a QR code that, when snapped, automatically launched the video. QuantiSense also played the video on large monitors inside its booth.
After the show, QuantiSense blasted followup emails to all visitors that included a link to the landing page. There was no escaping that video!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Learn to Love Tofu

I've just concluded my first month as a Vegan and resigned myself to loving Tofu.

As a marketer, Tofu should be part of your daily diet, too.

Tofu is an acronym that stands for “top of the funnel.”

The top of the funnel, of course, is your lead-cistern.

According to inbound-marketing agency FiveFifty, 97% of first-time Website visitors are top-of-the-funnel people.

They're "just looking" and far from ready to buy. 

So, iyour content appeals only to bottom-of-the-funnel people, you look a little desperate.

"Remember the last time you were shopping at a retail store, and the sales representative kept asking if they could start a dressing room for you?" FiveFifty asks. "If you’re just browsing, their attempts to close a sale can feel overly pushy."

To make delicious Tofu, you need to prepare "buyer personas" that include the demographics, pain-points and priorities of your leads.

"The world’s best Tofu is based on answering real-life questions people have when they first come to your company's Website," FiveFifty says.

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