Detroit NewMe Community Meetup

Detroit NewMe Community

Detroit NewMe Community

Last night, I had the distinct honor and pleasure to be in the company of some very talented and intelligent individuals, via the Detroit NewMe Community Meetup group, at TechTown Detroit. I was instantly inspired by the accomplishments, struggles and general dynamism of the group. I’m looking forward to continuing a prosperous relationship with all who are able and willing to make worthwhile contributions. The cause is just. As in many industries, tech is dominated by a few, and the startup world, especially. This group is working toward breaking down the knowledge barrier between often disenfranchised communities and the at-large startup tech industry.

On this particular night Hajj Flemings, an inspiration to many young blacks aspiring toward tech greatness, spoke about the high level strategies involved in developing a startup pitch slide deck.This gentlemen is a contributor to BE.com, founder of Brand Camp University and co-founder of the startup gokit.me He broke down the various necessary sections to include in such a deck, and even expounded on some of the elements that makes those sections capture the attention of a potential investor. Those sections are:

  1. General Business Info and Company Name
  2. Define the Problem
  3. Discuss the Solution Your Company Offers
  4. Market Size
  5. Business Model
  6. User Acquisition Strategy
  7. Competitive Advantage
  8. The Ask
  9. The Team
  10. Contact Page

Additionally, we heard from James Norman, the CEO of Ubi, the next Detroit startup accepted to the NewMe Accelerator, in the second year of its existence. I just signed up for the service but was quite impressed with what I heard from the Founder and CEO on this evening.

I’m looking forward to learning, sharing and contributing more with this group of individuals as there was a plethora of talent in the room. I am excited to offer regular updates about the traction of my own, and all the startups represented here. If interested, feel free to contact me or hit the website to join. We’re open to include more like minded individuals to create a robust support group to benefit all of the aspirational goals of the people in this area and to grow the tech business landscape in Michigan.

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TV – Old Platform New Media Ad Buy

Many customers have been asking me about TV lately. What’s interesting, is that there still seems to be a major disconnect between the actual barriers to entry and the perceived difficulty and cost of advertising on television. The buying advances in local, online video and cable television have changed tv from the old difficult and expensive to purchase platform, to one that is more akin to a new media ad buy.

Television is the ultimate platform to integrate media so it should never be viewed as a standalone purchase. Of course, integrating ideas and marketing concepts holds true in media advertising buys as well. So, there are many options to help you accomplish various things when it comes to television buying. The way I see it there are a number of different ways a small business can take advantage of television viewing time, with their advertisements.  Let’s explore some that may not be as difficult or expensive as you think, to help you reinforce your message on the main screen. First, there is traditional local tv buying direct from the cable provider; second is using online tv buying networks, like Google Display Network, Microsoft Exchange, Simulmedia to name a few; and lastly there’s Video On Demand/DVR ad buying. [Read more...]

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Controlling the Message

A New Media Manifesto

Alright, it’s not so much a manifesto as it is best practices. Manifesto just sounds so much better. The point that businesses need to control their message has been misconstrued as of late, though. On one end, some businesses haven’t resigned to the fact that their messaging is less powerful than the recommendations of others. On the other end is businesses that can answer every message and engage heavily in every forum, but forget that the internet isn’t the only place they interact with consumers. [Read more...]

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3 CRM Tricks to Build Loyalty

Statistics show it takes 60% more effort, money, time, et al to create a new customer. It’s like making a new friend. You have to figure out what you like to do together and whether or not they’ll be dependable. You have to put in some serious effort to let them know that you care. Meanwhile, your friendships that you’ve had a while continue to be of great value by  simply proving loyal on a regular basis.  Building a business is the same way. Here are some ways that you can utilize a friendship strategy with your customers.

Invite them over for special events

What better way to enjoy the company of your friends and inspire loyalty than to host them? When I say host, I mean provide something at your place that allows them to socialize and enjoy the fact that you’re all connected. Business people would say provide some added value. You never know what kind of value one can derive from a small investment, so invest in the people that support you! In only makes logical sense.

To do this, you’ll have to put processes in place that allow you to track who is regularly visiting and purchasing. Try opt-in email and mobile strategies like rewards programs. Give customers the option to sign up in-store or online. I like Place Pop as a mobile and web loyalty/rewards application program. It provide great flexibility and convenience for the business and the customer.

Offer suggestions that will be useful

Ever see something and immediately think of a friend that something would “be perfect for”? I love cigars, and recently had a friend send me a text message about Romeo y Julieta’s on sale at the JR Cigar near my job. I was so thankful, that I’m sure to hook him up with a “stick” when I see him next.

Since you’re capturing purchases, utilize that information to make suggestions or let all purchasers of a certain product know when it goes on sale. The loyalty that can be created by this simple act can be more valuable than waterproof boots in a snowstorm.

Ask Customer Opinion

People have always utilized their friends for advice – from love and relationships to companies and products. Why not leverage this bonding experience based upon the art of pontification, to make a friend out of your customers? Plus, who doesn’t  love to be on the inside? So, pull your customers in to the proverbial fold, or circle of trust if you will, by seeking advice about how to make their experience better. You might shock them into becoming extraordinarily loyal, and that’s all we want.

Adversarial relationships rarely work, so create some loyalty by forming friendly relationships with your best customers by using the help of a customer relationship management tool. Your customers will thank you, and so will your margins.



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Online Advertising: The Truth Shall Set You Free!

Yes, it is true. While I don’t claim ministerial prowess or even great oration skills, I do knowThe More You Know a truth when I hear/read one – whether from the pulpit or the pdf. Delivering truth is the situation the digital advertising industry currently faces. How, you ask? If you haven’t noticed, there is an onslaught of negative press and backlash about what digital marketers are collecting regarding online behavior; personally identifiable information; how their creating target audiences and which companies are “going too far.”

One only need go to the Wall Street Journal to read an article of carefully crafted and curiously self-omitting half truths about what the industry is about and why advertisers feel the need to gather information about online behavior. Many of the articles, interviews and generally accepted myths I’ve read and heard have been not only off base but close to fear-mongering. As an online advertising industry, of which automotive represents roughly 10%, we have done a poor job of getting ahead of the story with education and transparency. We all know what follows lack of understanding…fear.

One of my favorite organizations, the IAB, has done some good work putting together a document that proposes we self-regulate the industry and educate the constituents. It can be found on their website, under ‘Self Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising.’ There are 7 tenets (they call them principles) that we all on the data and customer facing sides of the industry should follow. They are:

  1. The Education Principle
  2. The Transparency Principle
  3. The Consumer Control Principle
  4. The Data Security Principle
  5. The Material Changes Principle
  6. The Sensitive Data Principle
  7. The Accountability Principle

To learn more about each, and see how they are proposed to be put in to practice please click on the above link to the document. The most important thing we can do to keep the internet a place where people can inexpensively exchange ideas, is to bring relevant advertising content. Without ad dollars, the internet will lose some of its egalitarianism, creativity, and public support so we must all do our part to make sure it continues to grow unfettered by complicated pay-for-content models.

I’m proposing each advertiser take a good look at what they can do to increase education in an effort to reduce fear. Once people learn about what is actually being done by reputable companies, they see much less need to worry and regulate a growing industry designed to bring the most relevant content to the eyes of web surfers. As long as you heard me I’m stepping off of my soapbox.

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Direct-Response Digital – Mobile

You may have thought that the direct-response digital series had lost some steam. Au contriare, mon frere. There have been some technical difficulties at the Hand Raiser offices, but Ryan Meray at C! Tech Solutions got us back in the game…we’ll be at 100% capacity soon – but I digress. The real reason we’re here is because I want to talk about mobile. While thinking of ideas for this topic, I was serendipitously introduced to this eMarketer article in my Twitter stream. I am so lucky sometimes, people might confuse it as good.

In brief, the article states that mobile banners out perform standard banners in Click-Through Rates (CTR) and Conversion. In fact, for rich media formats (like floating ads and commercial breaks) the metrics on mobile double up standard web ads in the positive column. Everyone – including myself – have been predicting mobile to blow up like a smoker at a gas station for the past couple of years. It has not happened. At least not yet, that is.

Statistics such as the ones in the eMarketer article suggest that the proverbial shark should be jumped very soon. Total smartphone purchase intent, as represented in the following chart, is at an all-time high of 16.4% according to Change Wave Research. With 52% of those surveyed planning on buying an iPhone, the iAd purchase of Quattro means solidarity among that ad platform. Plus, their $148 Earnings per Thousand (in some instances) number doesn’t hurt either. Android, the other big market share winner doesn’t realize as high of a return on the AdMob platform they run, but I think it is coming soon.

Smartphone Purchase Intent

So, if you follow the money it is clear that demand from advertisers and app developers will be there soon. Why? It all comes down to purchase intent study. Whether it is SMS, mobile video, or mobile ads purchase intent is higher on mobile/smartphone devices than online in almost every category, says Mobile Marketer.

Not until recently have I seen data this compelling. Between the growth of smartphone purchase (where most of the mobile ads and purchase decisions are made) and the high dollar opportunities for brands, advertisers, and app developers alike – the explosion is as inevitable as death and taxes.

My recommendation to you, Mr./Mrs. Small Business Owner, is if you’re thinking about getting into mobile do so now. The benefits realized from a quality direct-response campaign could be colossal.  Just make sure that your program is integrated with the rest of your messages (as I will always tell you) because ad awareness, brand awareness, and acceptance are all raised with smart, relevant and well targeted mobile campaigns.

If you’re already using mobile, what ad platform do you use? Have you found one OS to be more or less effective for your products?

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Direct-Response Digital

Every now and then, we hear at the Hand-Raiser Marketing offices get our dander up about something. Right now, I’m feeling like direct response has gotten a bad rap online. I’m going on a mission to either dispel or prove the theory that brand building isn’t the only type of advertising that is accepted in digital – by the average consumer. I believe this is a bunch of hippie crap but I will dive deep into the archives to see if my postulation is truth or misguided marketry.

Why do we think mobile has taken off so much? Well, because there have been spikes in purchases when direct-response ads are sent to mobile phones. When the proper display ad pops up on the webpage of the browser, clicks, learning and purchases magically appear like marketing rainbows of moments after the storm goodness. Yes, in my humble opinion, direct-response works. I’m not willing to see it mischaracterized by marketing miscreants looking to further the cause of their fluffy rhetoric or offline dinosaur-ness.

Furthermore, I have a beef with the fact that rarely do we (myself included) give the growth of digital (period) to the success of direct-response. Direct-response finds its ultimate mate in digital. The interactivity and engagement that can be coupled with a call to action can be wildly beneficial for brands. In fact, even Media Post released a blog touting that direct-response moves the needle for brands. And in a world where we’re searching for the next innovation to help digital make the huge ad spend leap that should have already happened, why wouldn’t we look to the one thing that businesses love to see…sales increases. Direct-response offers this and in a measurable way in the digital space.

Before I go to do some research, I must mention that the whole point of permission marketing is to get call to action and immediate purchase driving messages to the people that have indicated a willingness to hear that from you. Sure, building communities is great and necessary for long-term value but short term relevancy is derived from the idea that effects are to causes what “oh no she didn’t” statements are to unflattering clothing.

I like to cause things to happen. I’m like a toddler in that way – hit the pot and hear a sound. That is all. I shall return. In the meantime, if you have any research on the subject at hand, feel free to turn it over to the Hand-Raiser team for analysis.

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Facebook Fans

Facebook ValueIf you regularly check the tech blogosphere, then you’ll notice that there has been an increased focus on the value of Facebook Fans to businesses. The catalyst to much of this discussion is a report from Syncapse, entitled “Value of a Facebook Fan.” I’m intrigued by the dollar value study of a tool that should be used mainly for PR purposes, so I delved into the 18 page report and scrutinized it for you.

The fundamental question is, whether any of this information can help change behavior to increase profits or brand affinity scores through Facebook efforts. Here are my thoughts:

Product Spending
Syncapse noted that, on average, Facebook Fans spend $71.84 more than Non-Fans, annually. It is also true that the value difference is highly variant – depending on the brand – from a few thousand dollars to zero. Having a knowledge of this stat for your brand can be important in understanding purchase behavior of hand raisers in general, more than Facebook Fans in particular.

Brand Loyalty
Facebook Fans average a 28% higher likelihood to continue using brands they Fan. This is not surprising, and can probably be tied more to brand/product health than the value of a Fan. While the act of Liking, Friending, and Fanning are low impact, the effect on your News Feed (Facebook’s Real-Time updates) can be great – annoying even. Therefore, people that Fan a brand must be doing so for one of two reasons. First, they want to receive discounts and specials. Second, they want to stay informed on the happenings of your brand. Neither of those delineate much about the dollar value of that fan.

Propensity to Recommend
This I believe to be the most important online statistic when discussing brand performance and Fan valuation. Syncapse found that Fans were 41% more likely to recommend brands they “Liked” to their network than non-fans. Matched with a study from Econsultancy last July, that stated “90% of people online trust recommendations from people they know; 70% trust opinions of unknown users,” indicates a higher dollar value of a Fan.

When I think of my own behavior online, I realize that whenever I’m unsure of product or brand differences, I bring it to my network and almost blindly take the most popular advice from subject matter experts. Therefore, it is obvious that it is very important to build a well informed fan base, if you’re hoping to use Facebook for market penetration.

Brand Affinity
Syncapse found that 89% of Fans felt positive feelings toward the brand, compared with 49% of non-fans. This stat may explain the higher likelihood of repeat purchases and propensity to recommend. Obviously, depending on your business, this qualitative measurement can vary quite a bit but also may only indicate a predisposition to the brand due to the fact that they’ve already stated their “Like” of your brand through the simple act of becoming a fan.

I feel as though this report served to put some substantive numbers behind assumptive estimations rather than any actionable dollar value analysis. I did learn that I have an opportunity to greatly increase my evangelists, which can lead to greater sales and increased revenue. So, the most important thing to do with a Fan Page could be to increase your Fans’ knowledge about your brand so that they can become your best salespeople. Plus, they can help you become more transparent and liked (in the general sense) which means only positive in the important world of online recommendations.

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IMC: Put Together

Like any good outfit (as John Witherspoon saying, “Cooo-rdinate” in ‘Boomerang’ leaps in my head) an Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) Campaign should be a coordinated effort to use the variant business communication tools to further one big message. Regardless of whether or not your brown belt is your favorite, you likely don’t want to wear it with your red shirt and black shoes. That is NOT put together.  There are some actions you can take to make sure that your IMC campaign is cohesive.

First, you have to establish a big idea. The big idea encapsulates your total message in a few simple words or phrases. You should be able to use this to start your elevator pitch, but it is not necessary to have it in your communications (it is not your slogan). For instance if I run a basketball team on the verge of greatness, my big idea could be “We will work harder than ever to win a championship.” A good logo to back that up might be, “Champions work harder.” The preceding works as a big idea because it is distinctive, relevant, unifying, memorable, and can be easily translated into sales – all of the necessary elements of an effective big idea.

In-game promos could include hard hats with the team logo & slogan with the word, “win” scribed on the back. This supports the big idea with the word win, and the slogan by applying the hard hat prop. The team website could be marked with construction tape, reading “Caution: Construction Area” in the team colors. Instead of having a stats page, it could be changed to a “Performance Evaluations” page. The ideas are nearly endless on the website.

Local television promos could show the guys in overalls carrying pick axes punching time clocks under the basket with the star of the team saying, “it’s time to go to work.” Then, a cut to a montage of the team running drills and dunking could ensue. Or, maybe a bunch of hustle plays with guys hitting the deck and scrapping for the ball might also work as an ending montage.

The sales people that year would sell “office badges” instead of tickets. Corporate ticket packages could be called “offsite meeting tickets.” Finally the pitch for all this might sound something like, “This year the (Basketball Team Here) plans to show you the benefit of hard work, and the product they’ll deliver this season will be our best effort yet. Don’t miss out on a great season that will be the result of aggressive work toward our championship goal. Which ticket package can I get you?”

The direct mail campaign might visually resemble an internal company memo that looks like a prospectus that shows the stock of the company (team) based off of the increased production of effort and the call to action would ask for a “stock purchase” through the advent of buying tickets. The direct email will match this message exactly, for increased cohesiveness.

The social campaign would be a great place to get engagement and connect the team to the fans by asking for submissions of people wearing their team gear at work. Maybe the coolest pic or video gets four free tickets. The blog might work as a daily journal of how much effort and sweat equity goes into training camp. The twitter stream would have to directly engage fans by conversing with them about team updates and the fans’ jobs/careers.

Finally the stadium (or service-scape) could have the road construction barrels in the team colors in the hallways, signs that reads “Team at work,” and the large concessions stand cups could look like coffee mugs.

Now, this team has a cohesive integrated marketing communications campaign that can be applied to any other form of communication they send out also. The difficulty is in matching the big idea to every message and medium. If you do you will have a consistent message that creates a feeling that is unmistakable in its affect regardless of medium, while naturally promoting engagement around that centerpiece – kind of like a cool shirt sets the tone for the rest of the outfit.

Now go be brilliant in the creation of your IMC campaigns!

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In the Ram Zone

The following is a blog that I wrote for R. L. Polk, an automotive and trucking industry market analysis and data company, that focuses on some of the things that I’ve been talking about recently. I plan to highlight good programs that deal with social media and permission marketing along high quality marketing communication. I enjoy being able to look at people doing it right and the people at Ram Trucks are definitely doing it right. I hope you enjoy…

Usually you hear of athletes being in the zone and they say phrases like, “the goal looked like an ocean,” and “the game seemed to slow down.” Well, ever since breaking away from Dodge and becoming their own brand, Ram Trucks has been in the zone – literally and figuratively. Their aptly named blog, “The Ram Zone” represents the engagement centerpiece of the Ram Trucks Integrated Marketing Communications strategy. This along with an excellent product will surely make for brand resonance with Ram owners, and a recognized personality that is unmistakably unique to Ram Trucks alone.  They are reaching people through a variety of digital channels, experiential events, in-store promotions and partnerships.  I’m pretty impressed with what the Ram people have accomplished in a few short months. The following is what I’ve noticed.

Social Media Marketing
The main piece, as I previously mentioned, is their blog The Ram Zone. Here you can keep up with all news Ram, while registering to join the community so you can comment about the stories and connect with other Ram owners. Additionally, there is a gallery with tons of immersive  pictorial content. Most important, the blog promotes a Ram Trucks lifestyle that is decidedly tough, hard-working and showing a love for the great outdoors.

There are also easy navigation buttons to the flickr page, and Facebook Fan page where there are nearly 21,000 fans of Ram Trucks. Many of these fans have uploaded pictures and descriptions of their Ram truck, which has created a strong community. They also have a twitter feed, but there doesn’t seem to be as much engagement here. It is just a barrage of event details and tweets containing pictures of those events. They also have their own YouTube channel, with videos of Rams doing some gnarly things.

Strategic Partnerships
When developing a new brand, it is often easier to introduce your position by attaching to a more established name and/or cause to create the desired emotive affect. That is what Ram Trucks has done with Letters for Lyrics and the Zac Brown Band. They’re attempting to get to 1,000,000 letters to soldiers in war zones, while offering some great concerts and music. Dealers benefit too, because the repositories for the letters are only at Ram Trucks locations.

As the website states, the promotion works like this:

  1. Write a letter to a soldier
  2. Take it to a Ram dealer
  3. Receive the free CD

Experiential Events
Finally, Ram Trucks is taking their Motor Trend Truck of the year all over the place to compete in sled pulls, do demonstrations for on-lookers or create viral videos of Rams doing outrageous stuff. Then, to bring it all home, they post the videos and pics up on their website, flickr, YouTube, Facebook, twitter feed, write blog posts and promote lively discussion in all those places.

No matter where they have shown up, Ram Trucks have promoted their slogan…which is either “Get Some Mud on Your Tires,” or “Nothing Works Harder than a Ram.” Either one works. What do you think of the new Ram Trucks brand? Have they captured your attention with their aggressive brand messaging

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