You live or die by your database

You live or die by your database. Someone way smarter then me once said this, and it has stuck with me over the years. We all know that making connections count. It’s how business gets done. The bigger your circle of connections, generally the bigger your circle of influence, and by default the bigger your potential circle of sales and success.

In business nothing happens until someone buys something. And it’s that list that is often at the heart of the connection that eventually leads to the sale.

But lists have fallen a little out of favour. Tarnished by online and telemarketers buying contact info expressly to push product to unsuspecting prospects with little or no relationship, we’ve all seen the result of these actions: overflowing in mailboxes, and phones that ring during dinner. In Canada, Can Spam legislation scared many marketers last July 1st with mandatory opt in and crazy stiff fines. Many marketers, without well documented email lists, saw their email database decimated as they begged for opt ins – kind of like asking if you’d like TV with or without commercials; do nothing to get it commercial free, take action if you want commercials. No wonder it became a great opportunity to pear down the crap coming in, to only receive what was truly of value. Based on my research most people willingly accept 6-10 newsletters, of which a core 3-4 are truly valued. The balance get looked at occasionally, and the others that somehow started showing up despite never having opted in, likely lurk in that in box suffering from opt out neglect and downright busyness. In the US the double opt in requirement also hung many lists out to dry.

Is it any wonder many businesses have given up on their list?

And yet, the list is where opportunity exists. The list is what generates sales. That list and your database is what your business will live and die by. In my mind, the list is a two-part mindset or service and value.

listsService: You should exist to serve the people on your list. If you are obsessed with finding ways to grow their capabilities and connections, you have the right mindset. Frankly that’s why I’m obsessed with creating new content of service weekly for readers and not missing deadlines with my e-newsletter and blog.

Value: You should create value frequently for those on your list. Sometimes that value is in exchange for love (they share the content online, tell you how much they value what you do) and sometimes that value is in exchange for money (they might buy a book, a course, hire you to consult or speak)

If you are not going to subscribe to the mindset of service and value, using your list to sell will fail.

Building out interesting and useful media (such as blogs, podcasts, ebooks, videos, white papers, research, help sheets, and enewsletters) that lead to a list is the key to earning more customers. Your media will drive the model.

I’ve referred to it as your media “anchors” and “outposts” in past posts. Anchors are where that original content is created and outposts are the social media tools to broadcast and engage around the content. Once someone has engaged with the content, the key is to get them into the list funnel – I’m a strong believer in the enewsletter for this purpose. Once you have earned the permission to have them ask to be on your list, it is a one on one personal relationship. It should be treasured. It’s then like a relationship, you need to engage, interact, and continue to bring new and fresh things to the table.

The regular newsletter is where you may eventually earn the right to sell. But only if you nurture the relationship and continue to offer value. The model is actually pretty simple: Media drives subscribers, and subscribers are part of a community that will eventually lead to the opportunity to sell.

Does it happen overnight? Not a chance. It’s a slow and steady stream. I’ve been doing a  newsletter for close to two years, every week, delivered the same time each week. I’ve never missed a deadline. It is what drives my business.

Do you have a list/database? Are you currently doing an enewsletter? Do you use the service and value mindset? I’d love to hear about what’s working, or what’s not.

 

 

5 Public relations tips to get more INK and AIR

Getting ink and getting air is the ultimate goal in the “earned media” game of public relations and publicity. Whether it be print media such as newspapers and magazines, or broadcast media such as radio or TV, getting noticed, talked or written about in traditional media can go a long way in forging greater awareness of your business, brand or ideas.

Press_old_fashionedIn an era where it seems we are all fighting to be heard above the noise within social media, it is easy to dismiss the simple and massive reach of more traditional media methods. All successful print and broadcast channels these days are also amplifying that content via digital means online, which means you actually achieve even further clout should you get coverage. And, once that coverage is online, it is there for you to further broadcast it through your own channels. The magic of course being that it is third party endorsement, and you can attach your success to the media’s brand. Not bad when that media might be CBC, NBC, the Globe and Mail or the New York Times! But it could just as easily be local media such as your community newspaper or local radio station, that might have tremendous clout with your existing and potential customers.

Achieving media coverage is a pretty compelling value proposition and certainly one worth devoting some effort towards. So here are five tips to make the task simpler and increase the likelihood of success.

  1. Know a reporters expertise. Reporters are inundated with press releases and pitches daily. If it’s not related to their area of coverage, they will hit delete. Ideally you are familiar with a reporters beat and have read or heard their stuff. Over the long term this will also gain you a respectful relationship with them, so that when you do send them something well targeted, they are more likely to respond. If you’re always shouting to everyone, nobody will listen. If you selectively speak to some when it’s genuinely important, they will listen.
  1. Make the reporter look good and help them serve their audience. Your real job in writing the pitch is to make that reporter look good to their boss. The best way to do that is to help the reporter serve his/her audience. The reporter lives and dies by how they serve their audience. The media outlet is also in the rating and social sharing game. They are obsessed with going viral. They want a story that readers or viewers will share online. The bottom line here is: it’s about them, not about you. If you can frame your pitch from that perspective, you will be ahead of 95% of the pitches sitting in reporters email boxes right now.
  1. Send media a story they are hungry for. What is in the news right now that is hot? (NDP winning in Alberta? Tanker traffic and spills? Foreign ownership and real estate prices?) These are local Vancouver examples, but you should frame it from the geographic area where you are and where you want to achieve coverage. What are some trends of interest? Is there a celebration day that is relevant for timely coverage? (Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, International Women’s Day forexample). Lists are hot. Browse the headlines of Buzzfeed or the Huffington Post and you’ll see lots of lists – The 5 things you need to know… How to get a promotion in 3 easy steps…) Lists are good because they are finite, organized, have a takeaway and are shareable. They’re also idea for a population conditioned to receive information in bite size nuggets, which is increasingly the case in our time-starved society. How to and personal memoir success stories are also popular. We can attribute that phenomena to the Opera effect, being conditioned to crave success, or overcoming obstacles stories. The key here is to look at the publication or station you would like to target and see what would fit with their editorial style and reader or viewer interest. This of course requires you to do some homework, but it is that work which will help you stand out from others.
  1. You absolutely, positively need a compelling subject line. I’m talking email subject line here, but it could also be a catchy headline on Twitter if you were tagging or personal messaging a reporter on Twitter. Make the subject line clever, but simple. Shorter is better, and if you’re not sure how it will display on mobile (which is where it is most likely to be previewed or deleted), send yourself a test to your mobile device. These days your subject line needs to be mobile friendly. You want that headline to display fully and grab the reporter to click and read more. Frankly it doesn’t matter what is in the email if the recipient never makes it past the headline. Do your research, and model the existing style for the particular media you are targeting with your pitch. Check what kind of headlines they write. Get creative and draft yours in a similar light. Just remember while clever is good, don’t over complicate it.
  1. Keep the pitch short, simple and tight. If your communication is written poorly or is unclear, a reporter won’t have time for you. Make sure you tell the reporter what is in it for them and their audience first right at the very beginning. Essentially respond to questions such as, why is this relevant, and why now? Try to make a human and emotional connection. Put a short bio and contact information at the end. The reporter will read the headline, if it captures their interest, they will skim the text. Keep all of this relatively short, and again, remember the context of mobile viewing. Send yourself a test copy. Did it grab you? How long did it take to skim the copy? Sometimes an image within the body of the email (no attachments!) can tell the story quickly and hit an emotional hot button. If you’ve got an image that tells the story in fewer words, by all means use it, but be sure to size it right for the email so it loads quickly and displays properly. Again, send yourself a test first to your mobile device.

Of course these points are just about how to get the reporters attention. There is a lot more to consider if you score coverage, especially if interviewed. Practice thinking and talking in sound bites, since your interview will likely be edited.

The bottom line here is this: getting media coverage is free, but it requires a lot of work, and frankly you have to earn it. But that’s what makes it so valuable. It’s certainly worth the time to pursue, especially for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

There are many great resources out there to help you with this (including a great marketing consultant that writes this fabulous marketing blog!) If you’d like to tap into fresh content and ideas about PR, www.prdaily.com is also a good place to start. They also have a great newsletter you can sign up to receive free tips.

 

Are you ready for mobile search friendly site rankings?

On April 21st Google brought into play potentially sweeping changes that could affect your business, and search engine optimization in particular. The most notable change is the plan to favourably rank sites that are mobile responsive.

This is huge folks.

Apple Silver iPhone 6 Plus showing the home screen with iOS 8.We have seen over the last couple year’s steady growth in the use of mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets. According to Business Insider, currently about 60% of all web searches are performed from a mobile device. While it depends on the industry and user, I have seen other estimates of this figure at 50%. Suffice it to say, we have now reached a time when more then half of all search happens from mobile devices. And we can expect that to continue to grow. We’re now solidly in the age of the mobile internet. Users want real time, real results, time and location specific. And they want it immediately. So in response, since Google essentially owns search, and has a vested interest in users having a seamless experience, they will now make their search algorithms favour sites that are mobile viewing friendly. That means sites that detect what type of device is visiting and configure displayed material for the viewing screen size, will rank higher in search. If your site is not responsive, you may see your search ranking suffer. Not sure if your site is mobile friendly? Check here at see with this free Google tool.

This is pretty significant if you want to maintain your rankings.

But having a favourable mobile display is just the beginning of the coming sweeping changes…

Google has always been about relevancy. Content has always proven king. But that is also changing. While content is extremely important, user experience is just as important. That seems to be the message with the shift to favouring mobile friendly.

And now Google is upping the ante yet again – beyond just quality content.Google search in the future will favour those that have demonstrated that they have an audience. Yes, having an audience that is talking about your content will matter.

It now seems you will need to go beyond quality, and demonstrate a relevance with your particular target audience.

In the end, these changes are good for search, and they will be good for business, at least the legitimate ones, who now will truly earn the ranking they deserve. What’s the real message in all this? Produce quality content that is relevant to your target audience, content that gets talked about, and delivered in a mobile friendly manner.

Really, there’s no trickery about it. That just sounds like good marketing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Social media: Are all animals created equal, or are some more equal than others?

For anyone who read George Orwell’s 1949 book Animal Farm, you’ll likely recall this telling quote:

“All animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

This politically fueled satire featured animals organizing their farm and occupants not unlike a state and its people. The eventual downfall of the system rife with alliances and greed pointedly was Orwell’s comment on a distaste of socialist dictatorship society.

Animal_FarmBut viewed from a different context, this quote has a modern day meaning when applied to social media. While there are many platforms out there, and many of us tend to treat them as all deserving our attention in the competition for eyeballs and engagement, some platforms are indeed more deserving then others.

A frequently occurring conversation in business circles is how busy people have become, and how hard it is to keep up with all the emails and social media. Add to that an uncertainty about the effectiveness of that time spent on social, and it becomes a murky place to navigate.

I believe seeing all options and social media platforms as equal largely fuels this frustration. Indeed as Orwell noted, some are in fact more equal then others. But which ones are “more equal” and thus deserving of your time, really depends on your business, your audience and your objectives.

So here are some 2015 statistics courtesy of Pew Research about some of the major social media platforms.

Facebook

  • 71% of online adults use Facebook. Of those:
  • Women: 77%
  • Men: 66%
  • 18-29: 87%
  • 30-49: 73%
  • 50-64: 63%
  • 65+ 56%

Of relevance here is the broad cross population coverage of the platform, and particularly 18-49 with the highest concentration in the 18-29 year old bracket. While Google + has tried to break into this market, Facebook remains the dominant player for a broad based audience channel. It’s part of the reason they have been successful monetizing sponsored posts and getting companies to pay to boost their content. They have a huge repository of personal information and profiling, and for the time being, the cost to boost posts is relatively inexpensive if done well. It is however the 2015 equivalent to being a display ad in a paper people are reading, it’s just that you get to select who will see your ad buried in their news feed. For smaller companies or individuals perhaps using a personal account rather then a business page, the non-monetized options are actually not bad – if you post publically, have solid followers, and have enough clout to have your content rise in search.

Instagram

  • 26% of online adults use Instagram. Of those:
  • Women: 29%
  • Men: 22%
  • 18-29: 53%
  • 30-49: 25%
  • 50-64: 11%
  • 65+ 6%

Of relevance is the fact that it is not as broadly used as Facebook, but the heavy use by 18-29 group is relevant if that correlates well with your target market. It is also very visual and conversational, so if your content is visually oriented towards a younger audience and you want to build community this is a good one. Of frustration for business use is the limited ability to link to other stuff except through your home identity, so the key seems to be to change that URL when you have something relevant to link to (such as a blog post or offer) and refer to it in the post.

Twitter

  • 23% of online adults use Twitter. Of those:
  • Women: 21%
  • Men: 24%
  • 18-29: 37%
  • 30-49: 25%
  • 50-64: 12%
  • 65+ 10%

Of relevance is the profile of the 25-37% who do use it, as well as the heavier use by younger populations. Those that do use Twitter regularly are generally highly engaged in a topic or area of interest. Twitter is also heavily used by media to monitor stories and get tips on content. The nature of the medium in being able to follow and tag, can give easier access to journalists then email is some cases. Twitter is also becoming much more visual with the sharing of images and video. The bottom line is, Twitter will never have the broad uptake of Facebook, but it has strategic uses for growing the audience for your content and for getting media attention.

LinkedIn

  • 28% of online adults use LinkedIn. Of those:
  • Women: 27%
  • Men: 28%
  • 18-29: 23%
  • 30-49: 31%
  • 50-64: 30%
  • 65+ 21%

Of relevance is the broad use across age groups, the profile of who is using it being business oriented, the type of content shared also being business oriented. The 30-64 group has the highest use frequency. This makes it an excellent platform for B2B sharing and networking as well as personal brand building.

Pinterest

  • 28% of online adults use Pinterest. Of those:
  • Women: 42%
  • Men: 13%
  • 18-29: 34%
  • 30-49: 28%
  • 50-64: 27%
  • 65+ 17%

Of relevance is the high percentage of women who are engaged on the platform, in particular younger women 18-29 but the platform has solid uptake by women 30-64 as well. This platform is highly visual, so if you have a lot of visual content and women are your audience, this could be a good one to focus on.

My suggestion for those who find themselves time starved is to pick one or two to focus on with effort. Pick those that make the most sense for your business and audience. Only add others when time and effort allow, or put them in “maintenance mode.” Additionally using a platform such as Hootsuite, which is a dashboard that integrates all your social media and allows you to monitor and schedule posts, can make management easier. You then have a one stop shop to check once a day, or to set things up for the week and get back to work.

Really it comes down to good time management and having a strategic focus. In the end, while it may appear that all social media platforms are equal and deserving of your time, in fact some platforms are more equal then others!

Dove’s “choose beautiful” campaign reinforces commitment to long term strategy

Whether you love Dove or hate them, think they connect well with their target group, or are pirating a cause to hawk their wares, you can’t argue with the consistency or their messaging. Last week Dove launched another iteration of their “real beauty” campaign with #ChooseBeautiful, a global experiment spanning San Francisco, Shanghai, Delhi, London and Sao Paulo featuring women choosing to enter buildings through either the “beautiful” or “average” door. They filmed the results and documented reactions and discussion. At the heart of it is the message that women have the power to choose to feel beautiful. Have a look at the video here.

Dove_beautiful_average

 

I’ve written extensively on this blog about their previous campaigns, which I’ve included as links at the bottom of this post. What is most remarkable is Dove’s power of consistency. Ever since the campaign for real beauty was conceived in 2004, Dove have been very focused. They have had a purpose and message consistent over time that reflects their values, and I think there’s something to be learned in that for all of us. Here’s a brief look at that consistency:

Global market research in 2004 revealed that only 4% of women considered themselves beautiful. Subsequently Dove embarked on the “Campaign for Real Beauty” to empower women to be comfortable in the skin they are in.

2004: Fat or Fab? Wrinkled or Wonderful billboards. Deemed controversial at the time, the conversation began.

Withered_wonderful

 

 

 

 

 

 

2006: Little Girls (Released during 2006 Superbowl – tapped emotions and went mainstream).

Little_girls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2006: Evolution (Featuring the Photoshopped girl next door becoming billboard supermodel) This won Grand Prix advertising awards globally and won the hearts of consumers. Remember this was before the great unwashed realized how photos could be manipulated.

Dovelution

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2007: Onslaught (A tour of advertising and its effects on young girls tapped emotional hot triggers particularly in the very industry that Dove competes in)

onslaught

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2008: Pro-Age (Showing mature women in their skin and not much else)

pro_age

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2010: Men Care (Launched during 2010 Superbowl)

Mencare2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2013: Sketches (Featuring the forensic artist and blind sketches mirroring personal perceptions)

sketches

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2014: Patches (The beauty patch placebo – beauty is a state of mind)

patches

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2015: Dove Men Care (Real strength during 2015 Superbowl)

MenCare2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2015: Choose beautiful (Where door selection reflects personal perceptions)

Dove_beautiful_average

 

 

 

 

 

 

While there has been branching off into new product lines, and occasionally new targets markets when focusing on older women and men, the core value of the message has been consistent: natural beauty and empowerment trumps all. So what’s to be learned from all this? As marketers, I think there are 3 things:

  1. Have a purpose.
  2. Have a consistent message over time.
  3. Ensure what you are doing reflects your values.

Truly Dove has achieved what few other brands have – purpose, consistency and values through a well targeted message and fresh new creative over time.

Here are some direct links to previous posts about Dove on this blog:

Dove patches: from tricks to truth and remaining true to their positioning 

Dove Real Beauty Sketches: a campaign of a movement?

 

 

Future Shop closure signals the shifting face of retail

On March 28, 2015 Future Shop announced the closure of 66 stores, and the conversion of a further 65 to Best Buy. It was a second major blow to Canadian retail, just over a month after Target’s announced retrench from the Canadian market place.

What on earth is going on?

Most would say that the Canadian economy is healthy, interest rates are low and confidence is high. These moves and the impending loss of 1,500 jobs from Future Shop alone, seem to indicate otherwise.

What’s really happening is a shift in the way Canadian’s are buying, and that must be reflected in the distribution model of retail.

Future-Shop-closesFuture Shop was launched in BC in 1982 and by 1990 had become Canada’s leading consumer electronics retailer. In 2001, American retail giant Best Buy purchased Future Shop for $580 million. The early to mid 2000s saw a major expansion of “big box” retail, mega stores with huge retail footprints. Many sectors experienced the trend. Big box retail knocked out smaller local competitors wherever they opened. Witness Chapters and Indigo in Canada and Barnes & Noble and Borders in the US rolling out huge bookstores. Staples and Business Depot took on the stationary and office supplies category. Pet Smart and Pet Cetera brought us everything pet related under one mega roof. Lowes and Home Depot became the big box go to for home improvement, causing other Canadian retailers like Canadian Tire to expand stores and offerings or fail. Walmart was probably the first all round big box discount category killer.

But big box retailing may have had its day.

Many companies that expanded their footprints aggressively in mid 2000s are now downsizing or consolidating significantly.

At the heart of the issue is the acceptance of online shopping. Collectively society has moved to a level of trust in online purchasing, and with the readily available bevy of information and non-bias reviews, many prefer it. Consumers often now shop in person to browse, touch and experience, and then retreat to the couch to buy online at the best price point. This trend is called showrooming. In fact, one bullish Australian specialty food retailer decided to charge a $5 “just looking fee” to enter the store, which would be deducted from anything purchased. That strategy is no doubt misguided, but it speaks to the frustration of retailers paying the overhead on physical stores.

The decision to close Future Shop was good business. The twin companies didn’t make financial sense and the separate branding, for arguably the same consumer electronic commodity, was always a bit of a mystery to consumers. They tried to brand the experience as different, Future Shop appealing to the urban tech savvy customer, and Best Buy to the suburban, less tech knowledgeable who didn’t want to deal with commissioned sales reps. But it became an unnecessary brand differentiation in a shrinking marketplace.

So where might retail be headed?

Best Buy has already signaled that they are moving to embrace online sales more aggressively. Along with closing half of Future Shop stores and converting the balance to Best Buys, I would also expect downsizing of some remaining locations. Ultimately what is needed is a model that accommodates strategically located local warehousing, with retail fronts to service pick up and same day delivery of online purchases across Canada.

We’ve already seen the digitization of content that can be delivered and sold online, such as music and video, knock out previous retail giants like HMV, Rogers and Blockbuster. This downsizing of commodity and price based retail to accommodate a hybrid model of face to face browsing and online buying with quick delivery, is really the next evolution. In the end, the only thing certain is change.

Here is a link to an interview I did with CBC the morning the Future Shop closure story broke.

CBC_news_Future_Shop_interview

 

And here’s an interview I did for an article in the North Shore News, further expanding my views on this subject:

 

Capilano University School of Business wins awards!

Students from Capilano University School of Business won first place in the Western Canada Business Competition last weekend. For anyone considering business schools and university options in Western Canada, this is a big deal! In addition to consulting, speaking and writing, I also teach marketing at a couple local universities, Capilano University being one. And having coached teams and accompanied them to competitions personally myself, I know what an accomplishment this is. Not to mention the time and preparation work. I’d like to share the great news and congratulate the students and faculty who made it all happen!

The Western Canada Business Competition is a multi-disciplined team competition where students manage business-to-business companies through a simulation platform. They make rigorous business decisions, submit a strategic plan and present to an experienced panel of business judges. The contest included months of preparation and three days of live competition at Okanagan College March 20-23.

CapU_case_team

First Place Team members:
Marco Fleury: CEO, CFO
Lucas Daley: VP Human Resources
Teneille Lewis: VP Marketing
Saulo Novais Ferreira: VP Operations

On a personal note, I was thrilled to be able to congratulate Lucas Daley, in my evening intro marketing class this week, and share the accomplishment with his peers in class.

Not only did the CapU team beat out Camousen College, College of New Caledonia, Okanagan College, College of the Rockies, Douglas College and Langara but these students all won their individual awards as best: CEO, VPs in Marketing/HR/Operations. Well done all round for this dream team coached by my colleague Andrea Eby!

And on another winning note…

CapU student Daniel Dubois named one of BC Business 30 under 30 winners

CapU School of Business student Daniel Dubois has been named one of this year’s winners of BC Business 30 Under 30 award recipients for his progressive business venture called ShareShed, launched on the leading edge of the sharing economy. Click here to link to the full article.

danielShareShed earned Dubois a spot as entrepreneur-in-residence at Hootsuite’s Next Big Thing Foundation, which kicked in $10,000 in startup funds. ShareShed also won $100,000 in in-kind support after placing first in the region at the Entrepreneurs’ Organization’s Global Student Entrepreneur Awards.

Well done all round to these young up and coming business students. Our future is in good hands!

 

 

 

 

 

Is it “time” for Apple to disrupt again?

Last week Apple launched the long anticipated and rumor rampant Apple Watch. As with all things Apple, product leaks and speculation had been swirling for some time. While not widely available for retail until April, CEO Tim Cook’s launch week was aimed squarely at building momentum and desire. Starting at $349 and spiraling upwards to over $1,000 with deluxe bells and whistles, and even available in a gold plated $10,000 model, this is obviously a product aimed at affluent early adopters in advanced economic regions of the globe.

Apple_watchThe question then begs, who is the target market? And will it be deemed a necessary addition to an Apple dedicated owners suite of products to compliment an iPhone and likely an iPad and Apple laptop or desktop?

The watch itself appears a slick marriage of technology, fashion and lifestyle. Christy Trulington Burns, an American model currently representing Calvin Klein’s Eternity campaign was chosen to launch the watch, no doubt for her fashion credentials. She is shown training for a half marathon in Africa using the watches fitness devices, highlighting her charity, Every Mother Counts, which works to combat maternal mortality. You can watch a video about how she uses the watch here. Given the watches personal trainer capabilities, Apple Pay system to tap and go like a wallet, and hands free messaging, being able to listen and dictate messages and emails, as well as general web browsing capabilities on a micro scale, my take is that the target market spans the fitness buff, the fashion forward, and the tech early adopter in general, and anyone who has already committed to other Apple products with fierce loyalty.

As such, the tap and go wallet or the hands free messaging capabilities on their own are enough to be a disruptive technology with significant uptake.

US SMART WATCH GRAPHIC.jpg

If you’re curious to learn more about the Apple Watch, here’s a link with some features and video about it.

Apple has a history of disruptive technology.

Just think about what the iPod did to the music industry, disrupting CDs and retail music distribution with iTunes. Just think about what the iPad did to ebooks, book retailing and distribution, and the way we interact with printed matter in general spanning to newspapers and magazines. And consider what the iPhone did to cell phone communication in general, launching the mobile internet, and a litany of apps we arguably can’t live without now, as well as disrupting the camera industry. One could argue their latest technology is now even disrupting their earlier technology. Why would you buy an iPod when your smartphone can hold it all? Maybe you don’t need an iPad mini if you have an iPhone 6 plus.

So could the Apple Watch do the same thing?

Certainly it changes the competitive turf for watch manufacturers. That’s a direct hit. What about credit cards and payment services? What about fitness bands like Nike Fuel and other fitness product devices? And what about smart phones in general? Could wearable voice activation communication eliminate the need to type on a device? It’s starting to feel a little like a Star Trek episode. Too bad Spock didn’t live to see it! The watch certainly could change the issue with distracted drivers texting. And it represents interesting challenges for faculty supervising students during exams.

Only time will tell once the early adopters have gobbled it up. If there is significant uptake, it certainly could be disruptive. There seems to a lot of buzz about wearable tech and the Apple watch could well be the gateway drug for broader acceptance.

What’s the lesson is all this for marketers?

I think we need to accept disruption and look for opportunity in it. Rather then fear the threats that come with it, focus on the changes needed now to possibly capitalize on shifts that could be coming. What might that look like?

  • Apps with simple interfaces suitable for super small screens.
  • Voice activated Apps.
  • Voice activated mobile friendly websites. While such a thing may not exist now, it likely will in the future. Perhaps I’ve just given you your next $1 million dollar idea?
  • Medical monitor of fitness vitals and wireless, remote one on one personal training.
  • Hotel room key free entry.

Remember, many people were stumped initially as to why we would all need an iPad when we already had a laptop and iPhone. And what on earth would we do with all those album covers if we could fit over 2,000 songs on a little thing called an iPod?

The marketing lesson ultimately is this: Sometimes we don’t know what we need until it arrives. And when there is significant uptake of a new disruptive technology, business needs to anticipate and prepare for the permanent shift taking place.

 

Trust and targeting: Two reasons to love word of mouth

We all know that word of mouth works. It’s one of THE most effective forms of marketing, and it doesn’t cost a cent. But have you stopped to consider WHY word of mouth is so golden?

It’s about trust. And it’s about targeting.

re-targetQuite simply we trust what our friends tell us. Generally they have our best interest in mind. Helping you reflects positively on them, and in the end, they are your friends after all. Friends are supposed to help friends.

But it’s also about targeting. In the vast world of marketing and advertising messages out there, good content can get lost in the clutter. Friends tend to filter content, selecting what to share based on their knowledge of your needs, interests and passions. Nobody filters content better then friends, not even a Facebook boost campaign! The beautiful thing is that friends also tend to know what is timely content. Timely is important because it is what will resonate with you at a particular moment. It could be that they know you are looking to get your roof replaced. Or they know you’ve been thinking of going back to school. Or maybe they know you just needed a good laugh this morning after a stressful week. Friends share what you need and what will make them look good.

Did you catch that last line? It’s about what will make THEM look good.

If you provide content that will make someone look smart, insightful, funny, or connected to an inner circle of knowledge in some way, they are more apt to share it, because it makes them look good. Couple that with the friend filter of known interests, and you have marketing gold.

So the next time you’re thinking about what to share on your business Facebook Page, blog, or social media, frame your content from the perspective of what will make your reader look good to their friends. Make it easily shareable, and then trust them to fan it out accordingly to their self selected friends. Know someone who might benefit from reading this blog post right now? Share it on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn right now. Or better yet, sign up here for my weekly 5-Minute Marketing e-newsletter. It’s insider marketing knowledge and tips aimed at entrepreneurs, small business owners and marketing managers.

This approach to content creation works not only for online campaigns, but good old fashioned real word of mouth chatter. Your customer wants to look smart, funny and connected to their friends. Just help them do their job!

 

 

What’s your purpose? Your flag?

Five years ago February 28, 2010 my hometown Vancouver wrapped up hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics with an epic men’s gold metal hockey game. Downtown became one massive street party in a sea of red and white, with people hoisting the Canadian flag proudly.

Canadians, we get a little excited about our hockey, eh?

6753076837_710f9506b3_z This 5-year anniversary of all that crazy flag waving patriotism got me thinking about flags in general, how we support what we believe in, and our purpose.

So what is your flag?

Your flag summarizes what you stand for, your ideals and why others should gather around you. Really it comes down to three simple questions:

Who do you serve?

How do you help?

Why do you do it?

I put these same questions out to my newsletter community recently, and it was amazing the comments I got back about how helpful it was for them to focus on their purpose.Here’s how I define my purpose. I’d love to hear about yours. Just respond in the comments field below and get the conversation rolling!

  • I serve entrepreneurs, marketing managers, students and anyone who wants to market their business or ideas.
  • I speak, write and consult, but ultimately teach and inspire.
  • I help you connect what you do well with an audience that cares. It’s about helping you sell your products, services or ideas.
  • I do it through teaching, consulting, speaking and writing.
  • I share, so others can be successful. That’s what gets me up in the morning.

And here’s the golden question to add at the end, for those of us who have a way of becoming distracted.

  • Is what’s on my “to do list” today advancing those goals? (And if it’s not, get it off your list!)

If you’d like to get into the “inner circle” of where I share my best stuff – marketing insights and ideas weekly, why not subscribe to my weekly e-newsletter? It comes out every Sunday morning. Loyal readers make it part of their weekend morning ritual, and a few crack it open Monday morning. Really it doesn’t matter when you get to it. I find the weekend seems to work for many entrepreneurs. It’s a time they can actually take 5 minutes to read it, and get ideas to start off their week. Link here to sign up directly.

If you’re curious about what I share in the newsletter, link below to some samples.

5 Steps to fuel word of mouth

The 4 pillars of your media empire

2015 social media trends

So wave your flag proudly this week. And always be learning!