Does Email Make It True?
I have a relative, albeit a distant relative who, in his golden years, has discovered the remarkable ability of email communication to stay connected to his widely extended family. Weekly, if not more often, he sends out family updates, jokes, cartoons, and the occasional diatribe about politics and global injustice. Suffice to say that his taste in jokes and cartoons rarely tickle my funny bone but I had no problem getting them and having a quick look, if for no other reason than my respect for his ability and desire to connect the family in whatever tenuous way that email affords him.
Occasionally though, he uses this platform to write about, or forward articles and cartoons that are questionable at best. By questionable I don’t mean pornographic or misogynistic. I mean questionable in that he takes stabs at those in power that do not have his views in ways that can be described as racist, insulting and often blatantly untrue. He also rails against other religious groups that he feels move en masse in a way that is detrimental to his religious upbringing and to world peace. In the past, I have mostly (and regrettably) just deleted the email with a mental note that the next time I would respond to him and scold him for his untruths and exaggerations. Now, I am one that has strong political views and rarely keep those views to myself. I also believe that I am not a racist in any way(at least I hope that is true). What I did unfortunately prove to myself is that I can be a silent partner to others who spew trash and bile simply because it is easier to delete an email than to respond to an elderly man who, at heart, is just trying to stay connected.
That ended this week when yet another email from this relative landed in my inbox. It was a forwarded piece that described how the UK school system voted to institutionalize racism and denial. Of course, this just didn’t sound right to me so I did what every person who received this email should have done…..I went to Google and found scores of sights that have debunked this now old story (origins are 4 years old). It was then that I had to make a decision. Do I berate this relative or quietly feel self satisfied that I found the truth and do nothing?
I decided that I needed to tell him what I thought mainly because I understand the power of email. I know his circulation is quite large for a family email and I assumed that a high percentage forward his notes and those that receive that forward, go and forward to others and so on and so on. I also knew that by responding to this, I would probably end with my name deleted from his circulation list. Something odd happened though. I began receiving emails from other relatives thanking me for highlighting this lie and showing everyone which sites they could go to when they wanted to verify various assertions made. I was very happy about this because, if nothing else, I have shown that just because you get it in an email; it doesn’t mean it is true!
As you can probably tell from my last post; I love nothing more than to spend hours browsing through the App Store in search of the next big thing. Granted, sometimes this results in time wasters such as Fruit Ninja or Zombie Smash - but there’s a time and place for everything.
This time around, I decided to take things a little more seriously and attempted to find an app that would help me get into shape (you can stop laughing now). Being only twenty-six and having already experienced ankle and back problems (in the past three months alone!) was enough of a wake up call for me.
Lo and behold, I came across Nike Training.
The premise is simple: Pick a workout category (‘Get Lean’, ‘Get Toned’, ‘Get Strong’ etc.), chose your skill level and then select a workout from the list. Most vary between 30-45 minutes and include video demos for each move. Users are coached by a friendly female voice who indicates when to start and stop and counts down the final seconds for each exercise. To make things even better; you can perk things up by selecting an album or playlist straight from your iPhone. Talk about an all-inclusive.
In regards to the app’s design, it does a pretty good job of staying within Nike’s minimal, streamlined aesthetic. No unnecessary buttons, obnoxious ads or in-your-face notifications. It does what it’s meant to do and nothing else. All for zero dollars.
One iPhone and two $15 iTunes gift cards was all it took to get me hooked onto the App Store and, subsequently, the applications that keep me entertained on a day-to-day to basis. Before taking the much-anticipated Apple plunge, I was forced to settle for the most mediocre of Blackberry’s – a puny Pearl. And while I knew I was missing out on some highly entertaining technology, nothing could prepare me for the joys of pig bashing in Angry Birds, immediate photographic ability (via Instagram) and the ease of use behind my beloved social media apps.
Dearest iPhone, where have you been all my life?
Below is a list of my personal top 5 iPhone apps. While some are more useful than others, they all seem to serve a purpose at some point or another - even if only to keep me entertained in the subway.
5. Stumble Upon – One of my favorite websites of all time also happens to be one of the greatest Apps in the market. When Angry Birds is not enough to keep me on my toes, Stumble Upon always leads me to a site/blog I’ve never been to before. And to keep that Coliseum-style decision making process, a thumbs up (or down) is all you need to start educating the App into your likes and dislikes.
4. Instagram – While the built-in iPhone camera is good, Instagram makes it infinitely better. The premise is simple (as in most quality apps): take any standard picture and apply a professional-looking effect to it - all with the touch of a button. Another bonus: browsing through community photos is an excellent way to spend a few minutes and get inspired.
3. Super 8 – Despite never really being into filmmaking, I now find myself taking Super 8 videos of friends and innocent passerby’s on the street. Featuring the same grainy, low-res styles of the past, your everyday videos can now look like something shot in the 60’s. Because HD is for suckers.
2. Word Lens – This nifty little app may still be a bit shaky, but helps in giving us a visual into the technologies of tomorrow. Simply take a picture of your foreign text of choice, and it automatically translates it for you. If that’s not brilliant I don’t know what is.
1. Angry Birds – Boasting 10 million downloads to date, there’s something to be said about this simple, yet rather delightfully addictive game. The objective is simple, to destroy an army of green swine with a penchant for bird eggs. While I highly doubt ever seeing my name prominently displayed in the coveted high score list, Angry Birds will always assist in helping me kill time in the most unproductive of ways.
To ideate or not to ideate….is that really a question?
In the course of our business, we are approached by many start-ups and many established companies to create a web experience and strategy for them –be it to launch their company or to refresh their brand. Our approach to both is very similar but the reactions to our approach vary.
After many years in business in many different companies, we have concluded that the only way to fully understand the needs of our clients and for them to fully understand what they will feel comfortable with is to have a structured “ideation” session. In our minds, it is a must-do process that begins with a questionnaire and homework that we have developed and distilled to have our clients tell us a story about what they want and where they want to get to with their business. It uncovers truths, challenges, opportunities not previously thought of and approaches that may have been overlooked. When we have resistance to the idea of including just such a session, we generally balk at proceeding any further. Here’s why…….
The key to a web experience is to tell the right story to the right people in the right way to get to the right conclusion. Too often marketers and company owners leave the telling of the story and the decision of who exactly are the right people to hear the story to the digital company they hire. The truth is that only after some intense pondering and a roadmap to guide the way of thinking, can those decisions be accurately made and agreed to by all the stakeholders involved. The process isn’t always easy, but it is worthwhile and it is critical to quicker success.
How Does the Social or Digital Marketer Protect Brand Value?
One of the toughest jobs for the online, social or digital marketer has to include being responsible for brand loyalty at a firm. There are so many ways to get “noticed” in Google and Bing, and not all of them within your control. I was lucky enough to spend a little time working on a project for Reuters Chief Marketing Officer Alexander Hungate just after 9/11. Alex shared with me a few lessons about brand loyalty and brand value, and these lessons are serving us well as we try to help firms build, enhance and protect its brand quality while doing business in the digital frontier.
Each day must begin with trepidation and concern about what might have happened the day before that might possibly affect brand value and brand loyalty. Let’s check the Google Alerts and see what’s being said about us, good and/or bad.
Sam Walton was able to protect the Walmart brand by enticing his employees to be brand champions. But in this digital era, the custodian of the brand’s value is not just the employees of the corporation, but rather it’s being affected and impacted by anyone speaking openly in blogs, forums and the wide array of social media venues. And your future clients, randomly monitoring or searching are somewhat left to their own devices to determine how much of those messages are carried forward within their own evaluation of your business.
We operate a fairly intense digital monitoring center in Visakhapatnam, India. We actively monitor client’s brands, products and services or at least how their being mentioned in blogs, forums and the wide array of social media venues such as Facebook and Twitter. We not only prepare summaries, but we also do media valuation against any forums, blogs or articles published. And for what can best be described as “brand incidents” we either take nominal action to mitigate further brand value erosion, or we immediately notify and act upon these incidents. For example, if someone mentions that they’re having a terrible vacation, and hashtag our client, we can take some action, attempt to resolve, or escalate to our client to jump into action.
Our team does a tremendous job protecting the brand and turning these situations around quickly. But I can’t imagine the stress that each incident must place upon our clients. If you troll through the various comment boards on the press websites, negative comments easily outweigh any positive comments. You’re more likely to send up a flare cause you’re having a bad vacation than hashtag a resort because you LOVE the service.
A couple weeks ago I mentioned a bad night I had at a particular hotel chain near a major U.S. airport. I had expected much more from the company and felt as a card carrying member of their loyalty program, I deserved better. They tweeted back within minutes, and I didn’t reply to see what would happen next. The answer, nothing!
And to ensure a level playing field in the social media universe, I wrote a nice Trip Advisor review for a motel that I often frequent, partially because they asked, and mostly because I felt I needed to share some good stories along with my bad reviews. But this is not the norm.
In the digital marketing world, negative reigns supreme. And we know people are reading those negative things. It’s affecting Brand value and product awareness. And ultimately it’s impacting Lifetime Value (LTV) which enumerates the value one customer brings to a brand over the course of their lifetime. And LTV certainly contributes to overall valuation of your brand value.
It must be an impossibly tough job for any business to maintain its brand quality, to think in terms of Lifetime Value, and to preserve (and ideally grow) its brand value. But as I sit in my local coffee shop and write these thoughts, I’m thinking in our 140 character world, there are lots of hit-and-run incidents of sharing negative incidents … the real work however: taking steps to turn that virtual frown upside down.
You can’t lose weight by joining a gym. You can’t launch an Internet business by publishing a web page or signing up for a Facebook account.
The ability to lose weight at they gym involves one simple step: you gotta go and work out!
The ability to attract more revenue through digital marketing is an equally simple process. It involves following a calculated step-by-step, hour-by-hour, day-by-day effort consistently applied plan … one that begins with the identification of your ideal client, and ends with the continuous generation and conversion of leads that match your ideal client profile – new clients who buy, who love your product and in who create an online community of like-minded, potential clients for your business.
Why the Digital Marketing channel? Well, let’s first agree it is not for every business. But we feel it can be a solid channel for many businesses. Digital Marketing can be a vibrant lead generation and sales conversion channel for your business if done correctly.
It’s not really about websites anymore. It’s about your entire Marketing strategy. Are you just sharing information across a number of channels, or are you actively engaging your audience in a comprehensive conversation. Are you limiting those who engage with you to be either visitors or followers — or do you have a compelling offer to convert visitors and followers into customers. That is, will they go to your sign-up page, and provide you with enough information about themselves to permit you to engage them in a meaningful two-way conversation. And while your website remains the cornerstone of your strategy, have you decided it serves your customers best as your digital brochure or is it an important element of your revenue plan? Do you know who your ideal clients really are, and can you articulate why they became your customers in the first place?
We recognize that while they’re visiting your digital assets (web, blog, social, mobile), visitors are starting to get engaged. We view these customers and potential customers as a community and when you design content and conversion opportunities to uniquely meet the needs of your ideal client community — the results can be phenominal.
The revolution has begun. It’s about Digital. Digital unites traditional, social and online, giving our clients the opportunity to reach their target audience by allowing them to participate in the most unique blend of web, mobile, traditional, social, direct mail, loyalty and analytics. Period.