Anyone can do market research!

Spoiler alert: I’m going to tell you my super awesome, top-secret interactive portion of my presentation for tonight’s final class of Marketing 322.

It’s called…Poll Everywhere.

This website, called Poll Everywhere, allows presenters to interact with their audience in a dynamic way. It also creates an awesome opportunity for presenters to receive instant feedback about what they’re talking about from audience members. This allows presenters then to customize their presentations to cater to the specific audience.

Poll Everywhere is a website that works somewhat like a Powerpoint. You can customize the look and feel of your slides, and present questions to the audience that you want them to answer. A question we asked, for example, was “As a young working professional, how likely would you be to utilize a dog walking, running, and hiking service?” Our classmates will then be able to text either in a shortcode with their response, or logging onto the website and submitting their response. It is so dynamic that you can tweet your response to the question as well. The responses show up on the presentation on the screen, and is a great opportunity to receive instant feedback from audiences.

This merging of all these different options for respondents to share their ideas is an example of digital convergence. Our textbook states, “Digital convergence refers to the profound changes in the structure of media caused by the emergence of digital technologies as the dominant method for representing, storing, and communicating information.” This term explains just how dynamic services like Poll Everywhere really are, and how digital convergence provides so many different options for presenters and audience members and for technology users overall in today’s society.

 

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‘Tis the Season to go Viral

Viral marketing is the gold-standard in creating a social media campaign. Every internet marketer’s dream is that their content goes viral, which promotes their brand in a way that makes it nearly impossible for people not to notice.

Viral marketing, according to our text, “is a promotion that, either by design or by accident, catches on with Internet users and is passed from one to the other, multiplying the effectiveness of the original distribution.” Anyone who uses social media is aware of posts like these, and many of us have felt the urge after watching a video to share with everyone ASAP. The tricky part of this, however, is that there is no sure formula for a given social media campaign to go viral, making it more difficult for marketers to predict just what it will take to go viral.

Some examples of viral marketing that I think of around the holiday season includes the “Elf Yourself by Office Depot“. This website allows users to upload a picture of their face onto a video of elves dancing to cool beats. There were even options for you to do more than one character at a time, so you and your friends and family could all dance together in the video. The tipping point, however, was how easy it was to share that video on your social media accounts. Facebook that first season was inundated with Elf Yourselfs everywhere!

Since its beginnings in 2006, the Elf Yourself by Office Depot has grown in popularity in every year that it has existed. Recently, a football recruit used the Elf Yourself site to announce his Top 3 picks for college choices. This example shows just how relevant this viral social media campaign remains, and is an example to all internet marketers as to how a great idea can prevail with just the right tweaks to make it viral.

 

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Persona to Person

“If you just learn a single trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

-Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird)

This quote, from the classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird, is a vital lesson for us all to learn in our lives. One perspective to consider, however, is how this mindset might help you formulate a business strategy as well.

In marketing, and specifically internet marketing, it’s crucial to understand your customer. One strategy that marketers go about to better understand the complex nature that is their target market is to create a Customer Persona.

This in-depth profile is an example of a customer that might be interested in your product. Our textbook defines a persona; “It puts flesh on the bones of a typical segment profile, which describes a customer on a series of business demographic, product use, and buying behavior items.” Developing a persona for your brand can help you to better understand how to market to that character, in turn improving your overall marketing strategy.

Progressive Insurance is a phenomenal example of the use of a persona to act as a spokesperson for the brand. Flo, the agent that graces all of their promotional material, could be thought of as the human form of what Progressive embodies. This strategy has allowed Progressive to not only formulate an entire ad campaign around this character, but also shows that they have an in-depth understanding of what their customers want and need.

A great example of the use of personas in internet marketing would be Wendy’s. Wendy’s has proven itself recently, especially on its social media platforms, to have a consistent voice and clear brand message. Its Twitter, specifically, responds to tweets about Wendy’s in a clever and helpful way, establishing value to their followers and fans. By creating a persona of what “the coolest person who eats Wendy’s” is like, Wendy’s can better tailor their social media campaigns to maintain a consistent brand message across all platforms. Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 5.20.27 AM

http://www.sellingeating.com/long-john-silvers-wendys-and-this-guy-named-hunter-in-a-love-triangle-happy-valentines-day-everybody/

Was Black Friday TOO available?

This past Black Friday was a disappointment to countless retailers around the country this year. Business analysts think that’s because, essentially, Black Friday did not play hard to get.

Black Friday became a holiday season tradition because of the appeal of urgency. In the past few years, Black Friday was a one day free-for-all. There were people waking up early, scrambling to get the best deal while completing their holiday shopping. People were (unfortunately) resorting to violence to get the deals that were only offered on Black Friday. The problem isn’t the demand–people still want to get the best bang for their buck, it’s the supply that was out of balance.

This year, Black Friday lasted, in some cases all week, even all month!! The plethora of time available to the American shopper to get these deals, the less likely they were to venture out on Black Friday. That’s because their sense of urgency was decreased dramatically. An article in Time states, “According to one poll, 70% of Americans said that Black Friday is meaningless because there will be more sales throughout the holidays.” (Tuttle, 2014)  This stresses the inconvenience that Black Friday brings to shoppers, and the weariness that brings to sales that day.

This factor was just a portion of why in-store sales on Black Friday plummeted. A huge factor that played a role this year was online shopping. comScore Inc. reported, “record Cyber Monday sales that grew 17% year-over-year and topped $2B in sales to become the heaviest online spending day in history.” (Drogen, 2014)  This provided an important opportunity for online retailers to step up their game when it comes to online shopping. One way to benchmark success in an ecommerce site is the use of hit counters. A hit counter, according to our text, “is a small piece of software that can be added to a website to provide few basic metrics like number of visitors to a particular page”. (Roberts & Zahay, 2013) Using tools like hit counters, businesses can gauge how effective their Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales are, and how they wish to plan for next year.

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Drogen, L. (2014, December 7). What Black Friday And Cyber Monday Sales Foreshadow For Fourth Quarter Retail Results. Retrieved December 9, 2014, from http://seekingalpha.com/article/2736375-what-black-friday-and-cyber-monday-sales-foreshadow-for-fourth-quarter-retail-results

Tuttle, B. (2014, December 2). Why Black Friday Sales Were a Bust—and How to Get the Best Deals Now. Retrieved December 9, 2014, from http://time.com/money/3612641/black-friday-cyber-monday-sales-best-prices/

Roberts, & Zahay. (2013). Internet Marketing: Integrating Online and Offline Strategies. Mason: South-Western Cengage.

Social Media in Customer Service; Making Noise, or Making Sense of It?

Social media seems to be the big buzz word that companies just can’t get enough of. I know that in many of my internships and in interviews, I’ve been asked about what websites I’m familiar with, and what sites people my age are using. The key for companies to remember when using social media channels is that not only is it a platform for advertising your product. It is a platform for listening.

Gauging public perspective is nothing new in marketing. Originally, many companies sought secondary market data from databases and through analyzing survey data conducted by other institutions.  Utilizing these strategies is something that companies can use, but with the rise in social media, is something that might become to them, secondary as well.

The advantage of platforms like Twitter and Facebook is that companies have an opportunity to obtain customer feedback in a more organic manner. Social media has not only changed many trends in which companies go about customer service, but has actually changed the channel itself.  No longer is it a hassle for marketers to get customers to fill out surveys–with social media, you’re meeting the customer where they are.

Businesses like Starbucks are doing just that. Starbucks has built a fabulous reputation with their Twitter page, which effectively shares content as well as responds to complaints and suggestions about their company. This interaction is a win-win for companies of that size…not only are they getting to control the response to a person’s concern, but then their brand name is displayed among a Twitter user’s tweets on their timeline. Starbucks has also utilized the ability to listen to consumer’s ideas with the creation of their Twitter handle, @MyStarbucksIdea, where customers can submit their ideas for making the entire Starbucks experience better.

Starbucks’effort, among countless other companies, are creating value within their company by making their consumers feel valued. And that is the difference between making noise on social media, and listening to create a positive customer service experience.

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How Restaurants Can Use Social Media to Enhance Customer Service

Snapchat Relies on Square Reputation to Validate Snapcash

This past week, mobile app giant Snapchat released a new feature that they’re calling Snapcash. It’s a way for Snapchat users to send each other money through the app. As a Snapchat user, when they sent their customary “TeamSnapchat” mass messaging promo, I thought, “Why on earth would I trust Snapchat with my bank account when I can hardly trust them with my embarrassing and unflattering pics I already am concerned about?”

Snapchat, who has come under fire by not only its users but also by the US Federal Trade Commission, does not have the cleanest record when it comes to being honest with Snapchat users. According to a charges made by the FTC, Snapchat had at one point claimed that after the “timer” had expired, the picture sent would simply disappear. However, after further investigation, it was found that the pictures and data were not only being stored by Snapchat, but were also accessible by users on their very own phones. The very feature that was appealing to users when Snapchat was released was compromised, and for many users (myself, included) the appeal was gone.

Now, fast-forward six months, and Snapchat is releasing a feature that requires you connect your credit card to your account. At first I was shocked, and frankly couldn’t believe anyone would do it. However, after some more investigation, I learned that Snapchat was bringing Snapcash to life by partnering with the company Square, a well-established mobile payment app. Square has a sparkling reputation for data security and keeping your account information safe.

Looking at how my opinion of Snapcash changed with the realization that it would be Square handling the monetary aspect of Snapchat, I can see a prime example of how reputation management, and the strategic partnership of two companies with very different reputations can be used to change consumer’s perceptions of a product.

What do you think? Will you be utilizing the new Snapcash feature?

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Why, thank you!

In today’s world, it often goes unnoticed that the websites we frequent coincidently display information that is appealing to us. Kind of like the beauty of hitting shuffle and getting the perfect lineup of music, we often forget that we are the ones who chose those songs in the first place. While pressing shuffle might be a bit more random, there is more at play when you open your favorite website and see recommendations tailor-made for you. Our textbook explains this concept called predictive modeling, which is defined as “a series of statistical techniques known as predictive analytics to identify underlying patterns of data.” (Roberts & Zahay, 2013, p. 73) Predictive modeling employs an algorithm using previous shopping data on websites like Amazon.com and offers you recommendations similar to what you’ve bought in the past. This is done in an effort to create more shopping ease for the customer, and is a popular Internet marketing tool for countless websites.

Next time you open websites like Netflix, Amazon, or Pandora, make sure to thank them for showing you all the awesome things you love. And thank predictive modeling, too.

Success Kid Shuffle
Success Kid Shuffle

 

Roberts, M. L., & Zahay, D. (2013). Internet Marketing: Integrating Online and Offiline Stradegies, Third Edition. Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning.

 

Walk the walk, Write the talk

Flesch’s Readability Formula is a strategy that is vastly underutilized. According to our textbook, Flesch “suggested that people who write the way they talk will be able to write better.” (Seitel, 2011) This theory, paired with a little creativity, can change the way that a writer comes across to audiences.

For a current example, we look to Twitter. Twitter, a social media website that allows for user to microblog in 140 characters or less, is the epitome of Flesch’s theory. In today’s society, people are exposed to up to 5,000 advertisements each day. (Johnson, 2006) It is crucial to communicate important information in the most user-friendly way possible.

 

 An example of Flesch’s Readability Theory may help us to better grasp the point. For instance, according to our textbook;

 

  •  One of President FDR’s speechwriters once wrote, “We are endeavoring to construct a more inclusive society.” FDR changed it to “We’re going to make a country in which no one is left out.” (Seitel, 2011)

 

In this case, FDR read his audience, and knew that the American people were best reached using simple and concise language. This supports Flesch’s theory, and reiterates how important it is for people in communications and public relations to adapt to their surroundings. To reword a speech, press release, or tweet might make the difference between whether or not the message is received and comprehended. Although altering the way we write is not an easy task, it is crucial to the development of writers and communication specialists.

 

(And yes, I did have to go through my first draft and change several sentences to fit Flesch’s Readibility Theory.)

 

(Not easy. But hopefully worth it.)

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Johnson, C. (2006, September 17). Cutting Through Advertising Clutter. Retrieved April 6, 2014, from CBS: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/cutting-through-advertising-clutter/

Seitel, F. P. (2011). The Practice of Public Relations. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall.

Most Valuable Press Release (of all time)

On March 18th, 2014, Bleacher Report posted an article claiming that Michael Jordan’s announcement of his return to the NBA was the best press release of all time. In this press release, dropped on March 18th, 1995, Michael Jordan said all that needed to be said in the most succinct and memorable way possible, in two words:

“I’m Back”

These two words made an incredible impact that will be remembered by sports fans, and Americans, for many years to come. According to our textbook, news releases and announcements “are short—a few paragraphs—and designed to encourage readers to visit a Web site or request further information.” (Seitel, 2011) Clearly, the brevity of this monumental announcement did just that, and fans were clamoring to learn more about the legend’s return.

Although it was not necessarily Jordan’s intent when he told his publicist what to write, the mystery behind the shortest press release ever merely added to the frenzy of fans and peers that had never in their wildest dreams imagined that MJ would come out of retirement. The briefness of this press release, while not necessarily informative, played upon the fame that was the legend of Michael Jordan, and is now remembered by Bleacher Report, 18 years later, as the best press release of all time.

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Vintage Sports Illustrated March 27, 1995 Michael Jordan “I’m Back” Cover courtesy of @MJclektr

 

Sources:

Sietel, F. P. (2011). The Practice of Public Relations. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall.

 

Who’s the Boss? Spokespeople.

Recently, LeanIn.org launched a campaign called Ban Bossy, with the intent to ban words like “bossy” and “pushy” in an effort to encourage young women to embrace leadership roles. One of the promotional videos featured iconic women like Beyonce, Condoleeza Rice, and Jane Lynch, and has accumulated over 2 million hits. By using these women as spokespeople, #BanBossy was even trending on Twitter the day the campaign was launched.

However, there was much controversy as to the message the Ban Bossy campaign is promoting. There have been countless articles and tweets written in response to the launch, such as the article I Don’t Give a $*%& If You Call Me Bossy from Jessica Roy at Time.com. In the article, she argues, “Perhaps we should teach girls to embrace the word bossy, to channel their bossiness into productive methods of leadership instead of being hurt when someone calls them it.” (Roy, 2014) This article, although intended to counter the message Ban Bossy is trying to spread, has created a dialogue to discuss issues such as sexism and gender roles in our society. Whether or not you agree that the Ban Bossy campaign is necessary, it is undoubtedly the direct result of the use of spokespeople, and is a prime example of how star power can be harnessed through PR.

Do you think that using spokespeople in this video adds to or takes away from the validity of the Ban Bossy Campaign?

 

Roy, J. (2014, March 12). I Don’t Give a $*%& If You Call Me Bossy. Retrieved March 17, 2014, from Time: http://time.com/21498/i-dont-give-a-if-you-call-me-bossy/