Tuesday, September 27, 2016

VR Set To Revolutionise the Worlds of Business and Training

Over the last ten years there has been an undeniable and ongoing swing in the importance of all things social and digital in business marketing. As business people we have become aware of the universal customer need to for businesses to become much more interactive, experiential and ultimately engaging.



Businesses that have adopted this mantra have certainly enjoyed a first mover advantage over slower, less responsive rivals. Not surprisingly the technology we use is also continuing to evolve and support this customer need and the most obvious example of this is in the form of the Virtual Reality Units and Bluetooth Controllers that have a virtually unlimited number of potential business applications.

Despite some brands being priced very high with price tags of between $600 to $3000 per single unit, I'm pleased to say that other quality, entry level units are much more affordable and given their quality, functionality and access to large amounts of impressive free content, represent true value for SME's in particular.

One such option is the VR Box (Series II) model that has just been released. https://verve.digital/vr-box/ It is a truly impressive unit that simply requires a modern smartphone runs on any regular mobile and does not require a laptop to run off ensuring a greater level of freedom of movement.
There is a plethora of content online where much of it is actually available free. Some great immersive (360) videos can be obtained from:
  1. Jaunt: https://www.jauntvr.com/
  2. 360Rize: http://video.360heros.com/
  3. Littlstar: https://littlstar.com/
  4. Discover VR: http://www.discoveryvr.com/
  5. YouTube (There is a growing range of 360 degree videos here): https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=360+video
  6. Google Play & Apple Store apps
Even as a teaching tool for teachers and trainers, many of these can be woven into teaching classes, such as the Shipwreck and underwater shark experiences, space exploration, city flyovers, sporting and events etc.

Also interesting to note is that the Google cardboard app and related content can also be viewed on these headsets as they implement the same VR viewing methods via a smartphone.

In terms of dedicated curriculum, Google has launched Google Expeditions (https://www.google.com.au/edu/expeditions/) where the VR learning and experience comes from the downloadable app. The full Google Expeditions kit is not required and at its foundations each student would have a headset and the teacher would facilitate the learning experience from e.g. a tablet, all connecting to a single access point (WiFi).

So regardless of how proactive you have been to this point, the advent of Virtual Reality technology now affords another exciting opportunity to differentiate your business offering from competitors and provide an even higher degree of value added service delivery that will continue to allow for a more interactive and immersive brand experience.

So until next time, good luck and good marketing.
Regards,
Daniele.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Advertise On Pinterest With Promoted Pins




What Are Promoted Pins

When you have important visual pins that will drive business for you, Pinterest gives you the option of paying for Promoted Pins which is the advertising modality within Pinterest.
When you scroll down your personal feed you will read the term: Promoted By on pins which designate promoted pins the way Google Adwords have ‘Ad’ on them.  Any pin that is public can be promoted in this way.
Essentially as a first step you need to think critically about the thing that is central to what your business does. In other words what is your ‘core’ business? Within any area you will be able to see the level of activity within Pinterest as measured by the number of people that follow that area.

Mobile Friendly Video Pins

Pinterest have now also confirmed that you can now also incorporate Promoted Video Pins that are at this stage at least, being targeted exclusively to mobile users that as we know make up the vast majority of Pinterest users with over 80% of use happening on a mobile device. These video pins are viewed on the mobile screen as an animated GIF and when selected direct the viewer to the full video.
As an added incentive those businesses that use these new video pins will be able to at no cost, add six free pins below the video. These complimentary pins show as a carousel under the video, and are used to provide additional content regarding the product being marketed.  

Currently the videos are on third-party video players like YouTube but Pinterest is developing its own video system so it is just a matter of time until it replaces the current system and users will upload video content directly the Pinterest system.

Using Promoted Pins

The key benefit with the use of Promoted Pins is that you can effectively target defined groups where you create an ad campaigns based on three main business goals: Namely: Awareness, Engagement and Traffic.

Brand awareness campaigns allow you to promote your pin to your target market using a Pay per Impression (PPI) model of 1000 impressions.   Whilst with engagement ads, the Pay per Click (PPC) system is used where you pay each time someone clicks and enlarges your pin, repins your pin, saves your pin, or clicks and your pin.With traffic campaigns, the business pays for each click-through on your pin.

Personally as with Adwords which is also PPC I have always preferred the value that PPC ads provide. 

Budgeting for a Promoted Pin Campaign
Pinterest will provide you with a CPC budget estimate based on the keywords and interests you are targeting. Typically it will be around a dollar plus per click so it is more expensive potentially than a Google Adword but I believe a good complement to it.
For brand awareness campaigns, you will be looking at around 3 to 5 dollars per click.
Industry reports say that around 5% of all pins are promoted pins.
Image result for pinterest promoted pins options

Buyable pins are also now available as promoted pins represent a change where when you buy you no longer need to be transferred to the seller’s site.

So until next time, Good luck and good marketing.

Regards,
Daniele.
 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The PEST Analysis

Background

As readers of this blog you know that I have always believed that the most underutilised tool in the business world is the all encompassing SWOT analysis. It is perfect for any business in any market and provides unfailing insight into both the internal processes and systems of your business as well as the external market forces that prevail outside of your business.  Recently I had a student ask me about what is the best way to assess the current and foreseeable opportunities and threats that are likely to present themselves within the next twelve months?  Enter the  PEST analysis.

                                                                  http://bit.ly/1pkgwUJ

The PEST Analysis

The PEST analysis is a structured framework of macro-environmental (external) factors, which essentially act as a feeder that facilitates a better awareness of the likely opportunities and threats that your market will present your business in the short, medium and long terms based on the current available knowledge and understanding. It is made up of four key groupings.

Political 

Political factors examines how directly and to what extent the Government (National, State or Local) intervenes either in the market your business operates in and/or within the economy. Political factors include monetary and fiscal policy, taxation levels, employment law, environmental legislation and regulation, trade policies and tariff settings.

Economic

Economic factors include various aspects that measure the state and dynamics of the economy such as the inflation rate, foreign currency exchange rates, income tax rates, the level of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the level of budget deficit or surplus.  The robustness or weakness of the key economic indicators have a direct and profound effect on the level of business optimism, levels of risk tolerance and subsequent levels in business expenditure.

Social (and Cultural)


Social factors look at the prevailing attitudes, beliefs and generally sum up the current mind set of the people within different groups that make up the community or market place. These factors include: key demographics such as age distribution and population growth rate as well as attitudinal data such as environmental attitudes, home ownership, career aspirations and immigration. Changing beliefs in these social factors affect the demand for a company's products and future products. Currently for example Australia has a Baby Boomer driven aging population that will increasing require additional levels of pharmaceuticals, medical services, retirement facilities,etc.

Technological


Technological factors as the name suggests involve any refinement or advance that occurs in the processes, automation or broad technology used by that market or industry. As the levels of sophistication and cost for technology rise in any given market, so to do the barriers to entry which protect the businesses currently within that space and deter potential rivals from entering. Broadly speaking technological advances made by any business or group within a market, drive continued research by the other players to match and surpass that business and lead to greater quality, production levels of efficiencies in production supporting a more profitable outcome.

Summary

By utilising the PEST analysis and reviewing your findings on a regular basis you will be able to ensure that you are feeding the best, most relevant and timely information into the SWOT analysis as the basis for robust and reliable long term, strategic and short term, tactical decision making for your business.

Naturally to discuss any of the marketing and social media discussions raised here, please come along to any of the Victorian Chamber of Business Workshops as detailed at:
http://www.victorianchamber.com.au/business-solutions/training/course    Hope to see you there.

So until next time, good luck and good marketing.
Regards,
Daniele.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Empire Strikes Back As Facebook Respond to Adblockers

 
Facebook in response to increasing  usage of ad-blockers has recently flipped a proverbial switch that will now allow the Facebook platform to be able to avoid the effects of the ad blockers. 




Predictably the argument that is being forwarded by the social media giant is that this will give the user more say in which ads they receive and which ads they block. Now this may appear reasonable on the surface except that for most people who block ads, the point is they want to block all ads.


The way the new technology works is that it blocks the ad-bocker's capacity to differentiate between a sponsored or unsponsored post.Facebook will also include new ad preferences which they say will provide consumers more power to select and therefore be able to choose certain brands.
Now again I ask if Facebook really wanted to provide greater control to users would they not respect the fact that all those people have opted not to receive Ads full stop? In the end it's not hard to see why Facebook continue to lose respect amongst users and observers alike. Perhaps these will be the seeds for the possible shift in preference to another single or multiple number of rival alternatives that show more respect for what consumers actually want.


Saturday, August 13, 2016

When Your Customer Satisfaction Exceeds Customer Expectations You Get Wow Factor

I have often tried to impress on my students and clients the fundamental need to be able to inject some Wow factor into your Total Product Offering (TPO) as it's the Wow factor that energises people to talk about things that they have experienced and act.

 A lot is understandably made of the various research data classics such as the TARP data that focuses on the inevitable consequences of customer reactions to their level of dissatisfaction. It is frightening data on two fronts because it shows us both that the vast majority of customers who are dissatisfied will not necessarily complain about it and also that if they remain dissatisfied will usually tell around ten people who in-turn will go out and tell another five each.  OK then the simple message here is don't do the wrong thing by your customers and hopefully you will avoid this.

But as business owners we do not go into business to avoid dissatisfaction. Surely our aim needs to be universally to delight our customers with a consistently high level of customer satisfaction that at very least meets their expectations and hopefully, exceeds them.  To do this of course we need to inject some WOW factor into our product offering to the market.




 The specifics of how you do this will naturally enough depend on what your product is and the market that it operates in. The key point is that in every circumstance there is an existing level of customer expectation that need to be addressed in your promotional campaigns where you verbalise your brand promise which outlines exactly how it will meet the prospects needs.

 Beyond the promotional campaigns and the purchasing comes the actual product usage and experience. This is as Jan Carlson so aptly put it: The moment of truth.

It is here that the additional features and benefits and perhaps value added services kick in to leave the customer surprised and excited about the product, the value that it offers them and the consequences of using it in terms of a better outcome when compared to alternative brands that they may previously have used that did not provide them with any WOW factor.

One of my favourite anecdotes that I like to share on this topic is the story of when I gave a presentation in Portland Victoria which is around a six hour drive from Melbourne. I arrived at around 5 pm to deliver a 4 hour class which went from around 6 to 10pm.

I had driven my own car and noticed when I parked it in the underground car park that it was very dirty from the trip and I thought that the next morning I would have to find a car wash to wash it before making the trip back home or run the risk of being pulled up by the police and fined.
Anyway the night went well and I enjoyed a comfortable night there and the next morning on approaching my car I noticed that it had been washed and a message had been left on my windshield. It read:

“Mr Lima thank you so much for choosing out hotel to stay at whilst in Portland.
We noticed that your car had become dirty from the trip and we took the opportunity to wash it for you at no cost to ensure you have a safe journey once you leave here. We hope you had an enjoyable stay and hope to see you again. Many thanks."
Staff and Management of the Comfort Inn.

Now that's what I call Wow factor.  Do you provide your customers with this type of experience?
If the answer is no, not yet, then start now.  Do something to make people feel good about you and give them a reason for them to spread the gospel of you and your brand.
So until next time, good luck and good marketing.
Regards
Daniele

Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Potential For Strategic Alliances

Yesterday during a workshop the opportunity that strategic alliances present to businesses was again raised during discussion within the group. Put simply a well thought out Strategic Alliance (SA) is the most underutilised business strategy and this is especially true for SME's that somehow have this unspoken belief that every business needs to go it alone to be successful. Of course nothing can be further from the truth and all we need to do is to look at how the larger companies do it to see what amazing benefits a strong SA provides for all parties involved.



Just the other day I was involved in a discussion on this very issue and discussed with a colleague the wonderful example of the global strategic alliance that has been formed between: McDonald's, Village Cinemas and Pixar Movies Animation Studios.
What wonderful simplicity when you think of who the target audience is for all three of these businesses that you realise that they are for a large part, the same group.
I really don't suppose for a minute that we should be surprised that when business heavy weights like these organisations mentioned the result will be good, given their resources and marketing talent.
But the simple truth is that and businesses or organisations can do it with a little thought.
The first question that needs to be asked is what other quality organisations out there, already  target my target market and may already have well established good will, market expertise and professional networks already set up.
The second question you need to ask is which of these organisations from question 1, can I approach that are complimentary but not competitive with what my business or organisation does?
Finally what am I willing to offer and what would I like those other businesses to offer the same market in any co-marketing campaigns between us. Here you literally have a blank canvas and are only limited by your own imagination and creativity.

In the case of the example above the specifics are well known with movie merchandising available at the restaurants and access to McDonald's vouchers when you buy movie tickets, and so on.

 In marketing I believe that this tool works so well because the businesses leverage and support each other’s efforts.  It is a classic win-win scenario and one that should be very appealing to SME's everywhere.
So go to it and start thinking about who you could approach to form such an alliance with.
And until next time, good luck and good marketing.

Regards,
Daniele.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Putting Together An Effective Dashboard For Your Busines


 Increasing Complexity


As the scope of social media continues to expand and the type of marketing platforms seem to have no limits, it becomes increasingly important to focus on your stated social media and overall marketing objectives to determine how well (or otherwise) our key performance indicators (KPI's) are being met over time for each platform. To be able to answer this with confidence you need to do a couple of key things. 



Firstly you need to be clear about what it is we want to be able to measure from its existing point (i.e. baseline reading) moving forward and why these measures are the key ones for you.  If you focus on the wrong measures, then even if they are properly assessed, the result will provide little useful data for the business.

Secondly and almost as almost as important is the way the metrics will be displayed. Too often, managers are inundated and overwhelmed by copious amounts of raw data making it difficult to focus clearly on the key data points and trends that really matter and provide the basis for true insight and future decision making.

For this reason it is wise to set up a simple, efficient and practical dashboard that will provide management with facts and figures designed to update and provide this added understanding into what has transpired.

There are I'm pleased to say various existing providers of Dashboard templates and resources available. Some are free and some will cost you some money.

Possible Providers

 iGoogle (www.google.com/ig) and MyYahoo (http://my.yahoo.com) both for example provide free tools for the respective Google and Yahoo home pages.

For Twitter, Hootsuite (www.hootsuite.com) provides a dashboard specifically for the brief Twitter messages.

Specifically for social media you have free dashboard services such as: paid versions from suppliers such as: UberVU (www.ubervu.com)

Regardless of whether you opt for the free service or pay a little more for the one of the paid options, the point is simply that you need to be starting to get your structure set up so that all valuable information is routinely gathered, analysed, seen and understood by the business.

Additional Training Resources

Naturally to learn more about any aspect of Social or Digital Media marketing click on to this link:
http://www.victorianchamber.com.au/business-solutions/training/course

And so until next time, good marketing and good luck. 

Regards,
Daniele.