New consumer behaviors and fickle buying habits have made brand loyalty and push marketing a thing of the past. Acquiring and keeping customers requires more intensive and targeted consumer experiences and engagement. More important, as Millennials (and Digital Natives soon thereafter) continue to enter the workforce with increased purchasing power, having a digital strategy becomes key to long-term failure.
Customer Experience: Creating a memorable and personalized customer experience is key.
Mobile Marketing: Without a doubt, people access information via mobile devices, so any digital strategy will need to consider mobile. This is a tough nut to crack, however, as there has not yet been a clearly defined formula for success. This, in and of itself, creates an exciting opportunity for those with the resources to experiment.
Content Marketing: Not only for improving search engine optimization, but for offering more reasons to engage with customers (much like this article does).
B2C vs B2B: While the priority for B2C digital strategy is customer experience, mobile optimization and conversion rate optimization, the priority among B2B marketers is clearly content management.
Experimentation: Most marketers indicate that 2014 will be a year of experimentation, as they all attempt to try to find the most effective “formula” for content, mutli-channel and mobile optimization.
Control Moves from Marketing to Market: Consumers have complete control of choice, so brands will now need to “battle to provide a continuous flow of ever-changing content for customers to digest.”
Brand Loyalty is a Myth: Information, choice and personalization is creating fickle customers.
Expectations are Outpacing Brand’s Imagination and Investment: Customers want, and have access, to more of everything, so staying ahead of their expectations will be tougher.
The Future of Social Media is … ?: With savvy consumers being able to tailor their social media engagement and privacy settings, it will be increasingly more difficult for brands to get in front of them. As well, the behaviors, from written (Twitter) to visual (Instagram, Snapchat) is quickly evolving, so the next popular social media platform is and will continue to change.
Devolving Effectiveness: While it is losing its effectiveness, marketers still see it as a key to a customer engagement strategy.
Cross Channel Approaches: It needs to be properly balances with other means of reaching consumers, specifically younger consumers, such as social media.
Keep It Simple Stupid: Consumers read email on small mobile devices these days. Marketing messages can often become clustered or difficult to read on a small screen, so engagement should be reconsidered altogether.
Disappearing Effectiveness: Still a primary channel for reaching consumers, but with the fragmentation of cable, dwindling audiences, and rising advertising costs, television is becoming less and less effective. Of marketers polled, 50% indicated that television advertising doesn’t work, and only 20% thought that television would still be useful strategy in five years.
Content Marketing: 90% of those surveyed indicated that “the role of content will continue to grow as push marketing becomes less effective”.
From TV to Mobile: The shift of viewing audiences from the desktop to mobile devices is inevitable.
Prioritizing Mobile: For many organizations, there is already an imperative to become “mobile-first”.
Consistent Message: Maintaining a consistent brand image, culture and message across all channels of engagement is important, especially when considering content may differ from a mobile device to websites viewed online.
Consumer Behavior: Understanding how and when consumers utilize different devices when making a purchasing decisions is key. This is especially true as consumers continue to use mobile devices for price comparisons and consumer reviews during their shopping experiences.
Digital Strategy Skills For Success:
Understanding technology and how it can be applied to improve marketing efforts
Unveiling and utilizing data patters to improve strategies
Thinking creatively and having a willingness to experiment as well as the perseverance to fail
Understanding business and business concepts in general
When I was fourteen years old, I landed my first job at a retail electronics store. The legal working age was (and remains) sixteen, so in order to get the job, I had to lie about my age on my application. This was the era before the internet and readily available background checks, so it wasn’t difficult to do.
I worked in the store’s warehouse, with my primary responsibility being stocking newly received inventory, breaking down oversized cardboard boxes, and heaving a comparatively large, industrial sized broom here and there and back.
I was ecstatic to be paid $3.35 an hour, if even the work was glamorous.
I had a modest middle class upbringing, but my parents weren’t wealthy by any stretch of the imagination. They provided a comfortable lifestyle for my brother and me, but like most families, I could see the luxuries of life were just beyond their reach. At fourteen, I really wanted better clothes, “flash cash” for the newest mall arcade game, and the freedom to splurge for a burger at Orange Julius when I wanted. I didn’t want to guilt my parents into giving me money they didn’t have, however, so getting a job was a logical choice.
The warehouse manager was the first to find out I was under aged, but he allowed me to stay because I was reliable, punctual, committed and hard working. After a few more months, however, corporate higher-ups started asking questions and getting suspicious, so I decided to leave. A few months later, when I turned sixteen, I returned and was immediately re-hired, no questions asked. I worked there for a few years, eventually getting promoted to the showroom floor.
My name tag was something I wore like a badge of pride.
Now imaging if, after the discovery that I had lied on my application and was working illegally, I was punished by having my right to work stripped from me. Imagine I was no longer able to get a job or, at best, had to wait behind other less qualified candidates for the rest of my professional career. No amount of education, experience or ambition would allow me back into the work force with the same rights as others.
All because I was guilty at young age of being ambitious, driven, and desiring to make a better life for myself and my family.
Luckily, America doesn’t punish ambition this way, but this imagined outcome is a frightening example of where the immigration reform debate is dangerously close to going.
Today, almost 11.7 million immigrants are in the US without proper authority or documentation (Pew Research – Hispanic Trend Project). These immigrants live, work and play among us. They have jobs and pay taxes, even if under alias names. In cases where they do not pay taxes, most would happily pay if given the opportunity to do so legally. They are contributing to their community by paying rent, shopping, attending church, buying groceries, and otherwise simply living and raising families. Arguably, the impact on their community is limited, but given the constant threat of arrest and deportation, and the paltry pay typically afforded them, their ability to contribute is limited.
Overall, these immigrants are proud to be law-abiding, family-oriented, and generally good, wholesome and loving people.
Some immigration reform proposals currently under consideration allow undocumented workers to remain in the country but prevent them from gaining citizenship or, at best, create barriers which effectively make it impossible to do so. If implemented, these reforms will in essence create a class of citizens who are allowed to live, work, play, pay taxes and contribute to our community and economy, without effectively having the promise and hope of ever of sharing in the same rights afforded to other U.S. citizens.
It would punish many good people simply for being ambitious, driven and desiring to make a better life for themselves and their families.
It is a complicated issue to be sure, and it will require a well thought out strategy. We are a nation of and built by smart, resourceful and compassionate immigrants, so I am confident (to a degree) that we can find a way to forge policies that will work for everyone. What we must make certain not to do is create a second class of citizens who will never have the same rights as the rest of us.
What is a personal brand? Sometimes, it’s best to look beyond definition to examples for clarification. Working and actively interacting as I do in a large industry like the toy industry, I’ve had the opportunity to see and meet a number of people who, in the short time I’ve been working with them, have done an impressive job building a personal brand. Richard Gottlieb for the toy industry, and Daymon John of Fubu and Shark Tank fame, are two individuals who come to mind. When it comes to “building a personal brand”, however, is not as easy as slapping up a website and calling it a day. A colleague recently shared an interesting article that had a great info-graphic demonstrating what it takes to create an effective personal branding strategy. As a fan of info-graphics (and general fan of things visual rather than written), I thought I’d share here. See below. Enjoy.
Handwritten cards are an undervalued and underutilized business tool. When was the last time you received one via snail mail?
Now when was the last time your email pinged?
If your inbox is like mine, it is full of emails that need reading, responding and filing. Even with filters and spam guards, it only takes a couple hours for my inbox to get cluttered and my productivity to take a pummeling.
Because of this, I have come to rather enjoy receiving snail mail and the brief reprieve it brings. And, when I receive a note from a colleague or new acquaintance, the rarity makes the task that much more enjoyable.
I understand that the task of writing cards is cumbersome (not to mention outdated) and has been largely replaced by emails, Facebook messages and tweets. Sending a hand written note, however, to thank someone for a meeting or offer congratulations for a promotion, communicates volumes of in just a few words.
Yes, it is time consuming, but because this small gesture can make such a large impression, here are some tips for streamlining the process and maximizing their impact.
Keep the presentation simple.
You can find simple, blank cards in the clearance aisle at OfficeMax or at Dollar General. Buy a box and keep a few with you at all times. Remember, it’s the thought that counts. If you want to perk up your presentation, you can beautify your stationary through online services such as Mo0.com, which will create customized, high-quality notecards for a premium.
Pre-label and pre-stamp envelopes.
Take a few minutes to prep your envelopes with a return address label and stamp. This will not only cut out this step in the process, but it will make you more inclined to actually use them. And, yes, buy stamps. Real stamps. You’ve gone this far in the process, so don’t ruin the impression with a generic red stamp from a postage meter.
Keep the message brief.
A long, detailed note defeats part of the original purpose. Simply include a brief reminder of where you met, what you discussed, and how thankful you are for their time. Anything more will most likely be seen as insincere and as an overzealous marketing ploy (it is, but it should not come across as such).
Include a business card.
Instead of using valuable notecard real estate reminding the recipient of who you are, include a business card and let it do the talking. Just make sure your business card says what you want it to say.
Use a good pen.
I find that having a high quality pen helps. While I will make small corrections on the card, if the pen leaks, bleeds, or runs out of ink mid-message, it kills the presentation.
You can even find online help (if you need it).
If you find carrying cards with you too much, or you simply don’t know where the nearest post office is located (hey, nobody’s judging), then consider an app that will do the same thing. For instance, Felt is an app that allows users to create customizable greeting cards with handwritten messages on an iPad, which are then printed and mailed for you. It even allows you to handwrite the address on the envelope. Cost is steep at $3.99 per card, but the presentation is very nice.
Sending handwritten cards does not have to be a time consuming and burdensome task. The return on investment for your time, however, is priceless. And, if doing so gets you away from the anxiety of an Outlook inbox packed with email, even for just a few minutes, well, that may just be worth it all in the end.
What other tips can you share for making a unique business impression? Please share below.
This morning, a leak by a reliable South Korea’s brokerage firm provided us with stunningly specific details about the new iPhone6, due out later in 2014. Not to be outdone (almost a few hours later), the same firm released details surrounding the Galaxy5, also due for release in a few months. The pictures are fantastically intriguing (as most artist composites are), and I am excited to hear that Apple seemingly (and finally) is introducing a tablet-size phone, or “phablet”, with a 5.5 inch screen and stunning HD quality. The rest of the comparisons go into technical jargon that I don’t care much for … or understand. I am genuinely intrigued, however, at how these “leaks” continue to improve in detail and reliability and, hence, erode Apple’s legacy of secrecy. They seem to have become a regular part of the new product launch cycle and complimentary public relations war. Steve Jobs is undoubtedly rolling over in his grave. In similar news, speculation last week about Apple’s iOS8, the operating system for Apple phones and tablets, seem to hint about a new feature in our phones that will monitor our activity and allow us, presumably through a new iPhone app (Healthbook), to better monitor our health and habits …”redefining mobile health and fitness tracking”. There already exists a glut of "wearables" or "engadgets" that allow us to monitor our physical activity. Even Nike+ has been permanently imbedded in the Apple iOS for a number of years.
The underlying story seems to be the continuing generation of personal data that will be available to anyone with the sense to hack into and make sense of it all. It continues to call into question just how much of our data can and should be collected, and who should have access to it. I suppose iOS and Android already know exactly where we are and where we are going … always … so what’s the harm in adding a step counter and heart monitor?
But, if we expect the developers to protect our data, they will first need to gain our trust by demonstrating their ability to protect their own secrecy.
Just the other day, I was on a run and inadvertently clipped my headphone wire with my hand, yanking the headphones from my ears. I had a brief “if only someone would invent …” moment, but it passed with the aching in my legs and lungs (turning 40 has been rough). Well, as timing goes, I came acrossii Snap Trap on Indigo today, a simple idea that helps solve this problem. At $7.00, I think it’s actually a bargain. So, I’m passing it along because 1) I love simple ideas that solve simple problems, 2) I love and want to support ambitious inventors, 2) I love and want to support crowd funding, and 3) I can’t be the only klutz who could benefit from this. See below for demo video of the product. Cheers!