Happy Holidays from the Lab!

in General, Marketing Thoughts

The "Result Junkies"

Last month in the United States was the start of the Holiday Season.  Thanksgiving starts off a fast and furious couple of months full of food, family, holiday parties and travel.  If you’re like my wife and I, then you are not originally from this great state of Texas, and it means that you get to travel back to your family and native lands.  Oh the joys!

The holidays always mean something different for each person and each family. Just as is does for all of our wonderful clients with whom we would not be able to be here today without.  So as we wind down this year I want to take a moment and thank all of our past and current clients. Without you we do not exist and we are not able to explore our minds and stretch the limitations of our abilities.

We want to wish a happy holidays to all of our troops both near and abroad. Not only do you sacrifice your lives on a daily basis for us to be able to write blogs like this, you spend these holidays far from home and your loved ones.  For that we wish you all of the men and women of the armed forces, the very best holiday season, safe travels and God speed.

January is named after the Roman god Janus, who was the god of doorways, beginnings, endings, and time.  He is often depicted as having two heads, one looking forward into the future and the other looking back into the past.  It is appropriate that we take this time to reflect on the past and look toward the future.  As re reflect, we are most thankful that all of our “Result Junkies” – you – have chosen to seize the opportunities and through hard work, we have had the chance to prosper and grow and know each other in our journey.  Thank you to ALL of you for the hard work over the past year and for your loyalty and support.  Thanks to your families who understood when you went to work early, worked late and traveled away from home which added to their load. These past couple of years have not been easy ones in business or in the World – but you have contributed to improvement in both our prosperity as a company and others who have benefited from our ability to share that.

Looking to the future and what 2012 has in store for us is what makes coming to the lab everyday worthwhile.

We sincerely hope all of our friends, families, colleagues and patrons have a wonderful and safe holiday season.

Travis E. Blythe
Partner/Chief Business Development Director

Social Media March Madness

in Mobile Mktg, Social media

We love this time of year around the lab. March Madness is kicking off and we have our pools and brackets flying around.  Everyone picks their favorite team to go all the way, Kentucky seems to be a favorite pick around here.  We were inspired this year to submit brackets of our own, only we wanted to concentrate on social media and location based apps.

There seems to be a plethora of apps sprouting up, with SXSW this year I am sure there were a few more.  We found 16 apps that are location based apps where you can check-in, shout out, find stuff, rate things and let the world know where you are.  We spent hours locked inside the lab ranking our favorite apps.  Some of the more popular ones got some high seeds and the newbies were thrown in the mix.  The way to win is simple…just vote for your favorite app through our Facebook page and each week the winners will advance until we have a sole surviving app.  Yes we know it is a popularity contest, but hey, I guess they need to tell everyone!

So here are the apps we found and short description of each.  Which one is your favorite? Come over to our Facebook page and vote!

FoursquareEarned a number one seed and I can see why. They have been in the forefront of this category for a couple of years. Foursquare is a location-based mobile platform that makes cities easier to use and more interesting to explore. By “checking in” via a smartphone app or SMS, users share their location with friends while collecting points and virtual badges. Foursquare guides real-world experiences by allowing users to bookmark information about venues that they want to visit and surfacing relevant suggestions about nearby venues. Merchants and brands leverage the foursquare platform by utilizing a wide set of tools to obtain, engage, and retain customers and audiences.

GowallaOur other number one seed. With foursquare integration, they are going to be a new favorite, especially here in Texas! Gowalla does more than check in. You can take photos, comment on places friends go, and share highlights from your life. You may also find virtual items left around the world like digital souvenirs. Many items are redeemable for real-world rewards such as apparel, movie tickets, gadgets and more. We make discovering the world around you both fun and memorable. Enjoy trips created by National Geographic, USA TODAY, CNNMoney and others that guide you to restaurants, through parks and gardens, or on historic walking tours. Of course, you can create and share your own trips with your friends as well.

FaceBook PlacesThey earned our number two seed only because they are facebook. Tough match first round against some Beer dudes! Easily share where you are, what you’re doing and the friends you’re with right from your mobile. Never miss another chance to connect when you happen to be at the same place at the same time. Check in to get individual discounts, share savings with friends, earn rewards for repeat visits or secure donations for good causes.

Loopt – Our other number two seed. Loopt offers a location-first view of the world, shining a bright spotlight on the world around you when you’re out and about. When you open Loopt, you see the world in a more relevant way — you see who’s around, where people are gathering and where people like to go. And because Loopt pulls in data from world’s most popular social graph — Facebook — everyone already has friends on Loopt. Loopt alerts you when a friend is nearby, creating wonderful moments of serendipity that, without Loopt, might never happen.

LocaiiOur other Texas based app! Earning a number three seeds from us, well because they are Dallas based, cool guys and I am having a blast with the app! More than just checking in, they get the conversations started! You can start conversations with your friends and the people around you. Upset about that last call?  Wondering if you’re the only one who saw that bear on a unicycle?  Post up something interesting and you’re sure to get a conversation started. (We love the polling features!)

Whrrl - Our other number three seed is a location-based, social application for the iPhone, Android and Blackberry designed to help people discover highly relevant new experiences in the real world.  Whrrlers join Societies, groups of like-minded people with the same real-world interests, passions and brand affinities to exchange recommendations (new places to go and things to do) and experiences (via photos and notes). Whrrl’s groundbreaking Society Rewards program enables businesses to participate in the discovery experience by offering prizes at places that Whrrlers win by checking in.  This drives first-time visits, but Society Rewards goes further in that the most influential people have the best odds of winning the prizes.  As such, it is the first real-world social loyalty program.

Mytown - Our number four seed, played by over 3.3 million people, MyTown is the most popular mobile location-based social game that turns the real-world into a game of Monopoly. It’s about buying and owning your favorite stores and hangouts. Level up, unlock rewards, and earn cash to buy your real life locations. (They also offer pay to play options to get rewards.)

ScvngrOur other number four seed, who doesn’t like a good scavenger hunt? Play SCVNGR everywhere! At your favorite cafe, gym, theater, park, restaurant. Check-in. Try a challenge. Share where you are & what you’re up to with your friends. You deserve ‘em! Do challenges to earn points and unlock badges & real-world rewards.

FoodSpotting - One of our number five seeds. This one is all about food! We love food! A visual guide to good food and where to find it.  Foodspotting is the easiest way to find and share the foods you love: Instead of reviewing restaurants, you can recommend your favorite dishes and see what others have recommended wherever you go.

TunerfishI know! say that fast three times and everyone will think Tuna! Our second number five seed, this one is all about what you watch! We believe that people are passionate about what they watch – and eager to share that passion with others. We believe that channeling that willingness to share in an easy, fun, and rewarding service is the best way to help you discover great content you might otherwise have missed. We also believe that the line between TV and the Internet is blurring and will eventually be erased – adding dramatically the range of possible answers to the question, “What should I watch right now?”

Gbanga - A late entry entry, but they still managed to get a number 6 seed. Based in Switzerland, they are just starting to catch on here in the states. Gbanga is a mobile platform for hosting an unlimited number of mixed-reality quests that are highly immersive and exciting to play with players around the world. Gbanga blurs reality with fiction, augmenting your daily life with fun gaming experiences. The platform helps you connect with players through quests, challenges and compelling interactive stories on-the-go. In Gbanga, you change the course of the game simply by walking and relocating in the real world.

BrightkiteOur other number six seed, a different twist on the social media angle. Brightkite is the next generation of text messaging. We have created a product that lets you chat with up to 25 people at once, for free. You can also share photos and locations. Brightkite works online and well as on a variety of phones using apps, text messaging and the mobile web.

BeerbyNow this one is one we can get into! Partially because we love beer here in the lab! Beerby is the only beer app you’ll need for your iPhone or Android. Track and take notes about what beers you drink, find good beer near your current location, discover bars that carry your favorite beers, compete with your friends and more! We have a database of over 40,000 beers with ratings for you to discover, track and enjoy. Beerby uses the Levlr game mechanics platform to allow you to compete for Badgers, and create achievements for your friends. Levl up as you discover the world of beer!

ShopkickThis is our other number seven seed.  for all of you shop-o-holics out there. Love shopping? Don’t love shopping? Okay, then we have something for both of you. :) We believe that shopping in the offline world can be done much better than it’s been done for so many years. Why does no one reward you for visiting their stores, only for buying something? Why does nobody make shopping more individual? Where are the offers that really matter to you, especially if you don’t read the Sunday paper? And why is there no fun social sharing and other entertainment when you go to your favorite stores?

GetGlue - I know the name sounds funny, but this is another one for Books, TV, Music and Movies. You earn stickers in this game among other things! GetGlue is a leading social network for entertainment, with more than 900,000 users and 12M new unique ratings and check-ins for TV shows, movies, music and books every month. Fans use GetGlue apps to check-in while consuming entertainment to share with friends and to earn exclusive rewards from our partners.

ToodaluNo need to vote for these rocks stars from last years SXSW.  Upon trying to login, the app appears to not be working and even the website is down.  All it says is coming soon.  Funny I thought you launched last year at SXSW? I guess the market wasn’t big enough for them to make it. Too bad, easy win for Gowalla.

So there you have it, all sixteen entries for our location based march madness app off.  Make sure you vote for your favorite app and get them into the next round.  We will be asking each one to play also, so maybe they can influence some votes! Good Luck everyone! Don’t Forget, the way to vote is to comment on each picture who is your favorite. Go here to vote!


The Truth, The Whole Truth and Nothing But The Truth…

in Marketing Thoughts, Rants & Raves, Uncategorized


The Invention of Lying and Liar Liar toy with the idea of being incapable of telling a lie. What if this concept was applied to the world of marketing? What would advertisements and promotions look like?

Easy Choices

If companies were incapable of lying about their products, consumers may have an easier time with choosing a product or service. Think about it, you’re shopping for a used car and you’re torn between two selections. If the salesman was incapable of lying, he would tell you that the radiator has a crack in it, and it’s been in a flood.
Consumers spend hours shopping around and comparing products and services, but if a company is incapable of lying then those countless hours could become mere minutes.


If you can’t lie, then there is no need to be skeptical. Consumers tend to be critical by nature, but if you remove lying from the equation, then there is no need to be.


One of the best examples for questionable ethical behavior and lying are the cigarette manufacturers. They knew for years that cigarettes were harmful and dangerous, but they continued to market them in an innocent light. If you remove lying from the equation, companies would be incapable of hiding the truth from the public. A lie-free world would create a sense of transparency. In turn, more companies may engage in ethical behavior. Those that don’t would probably lose business quickly.

Business As Usual?

So you can’t lie, big deal. Well, sometimes we need to. If you take away the ability to lie, you take away a buffer. In a lie-free world, trade secrets could be compromised, and confidentiality could cease to exist. Do you think products like Krispy Kream would exist if people knew how unhealthy they were from day one? Let’s revisit cigarettes. If consumers knew about the health risks that were associated with them from the time they were created, would anyone purchase them? Some companies need to lie to survive.

Walk The Walk

How many times have you purchased a product or a service, only to be disappointed with it later? Was it because of false promises and pretenses? If it was, a lie-free world could eliminate this issue.
People can expect so much from a company due to its marketing, but if it was completely honest, customers would know what to expect and nothing more. Puffery, which is responsible for a large portion of exaggerated expectations, would probably stop being used since it is a form of a white lie.

What’s the benefit of realistic expectations? Higher customer satisfaction. Since the customer no longer expects the product or service to deliver false promises, they can evaluate it in realistic terms and base their satisfaction off reality.

Also, customers no longer have to take a gamble when they try something new. They’ll know what sort of outcome to expect.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly…

You’ll be able to tell these businesses apart and determine if they are a good company or a bad company. If a business can’t lie, they can’t spin the facts in their favor, or if they do, they will have to tell you.

Shifting Tactics

The focus for marketing may shift from big sales to repeat business in a lie-free world. Businesses won’t be able to dazzle their customers with lies and empty promises. Instead, they’ll be forced to focus on the strengths and weaknesses of their product and figure out a way to market it to be appealing to their customers.

Over the top commercials may shift to a more dialogue oriented style where the product is described for what it is, and nothing more.

Also, the fine print and disclaimers associated with a product may change. I have a feeling that the fine print of a product would be less confusing if people were incapable of lying. Rebates and warranties would be easier to understand. Marketing promotions would be a lot more clear-cut as well.


The Almost New Gap Logo… A Marketing Trick?

in General, Marketing Thoughts, Small Business, Social media, Web design

It’s almost an absolute that you have heard the hoopla surrounding Gap’s recent unveiling of their new logo. No? Well, ladies and gentlemen… I give you the “almost” new Gap logo (hint: it’s the one on the right):

Do not adjust your computer, iPhone, Ipad or Tablet? screens…this is seriously what they released to the world! But alas, the many Gap enthusiasts, my wife included, quickly made a mockery of the company’s feeble and epic failed attempt to “refresh” their now iconic mark.

If you know me then you know I am going to squeeze the conspiracy out of this story, if for nothing other than making us all think.

Many of us are more than likely going to be inclined to cough this up as a foolish corporate mistake. But is it really? Gap has been a company known to be in financial turmoil. Dwindling stocks stemming from less than impressive year-end financial reports were the perfect contributing ingredients to an impending disaster. Just last year alone the company lost an estimate 2.3% when comparing their previous years revenue, which was also down from the previous year.  If you ask me, this massive sales deficit was not only a side effect of the fledgling economy, but spoke to the fact of the company’s diminshing brand presence. It was a matter of time until a “More Panic” meeting was called.

People always say to themselves, “I wish I was a fly on the wall in that meeting”. Well folks, I spoke to a fly, who spoke to a fly, who heard it on the grapevine, who claims she heard it from Cathy, about what went on…and here is how he thinks it went down”…

“Hear ye, hear ye”… well maybe not, but I have always wanted to start a meeting off like that.

“So what do we do?”…asks the guy sitting at the end of the table, donned in his red and blue neck-tie, white Armani dress-shirt (the irony kills me), Armani reading glasses and $1500 boots (we assume the rest of his outfit is pretty standard…except for his watch which can buy both you and I a brand new house…or feed a hundred starving families, whichever one makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside).

“We shake things up!”…says the marketing director.

“We change our prices and our line”

“Tried that before!”…says Armani suite…

“Well…hmmmm…ok how about we change our brand?”

“I don’t think that is a good idea, people are comfortable with our brand…it will cost us too much money and frankly I am going on vacation at the end of the month and don’t need the headache. Any other ideas?”..says Armani suit

The intern raises her hand, me..me…me

“Anybody else?”


“Fine, Lindsay what do you think?”

“Why don’t we just pretend to change our brand. I will create a logo with my mediocre at best Photoshop skills, and then we can release it at midnight tonight. That way we can generate some press and hope to not lose our shirts…get it?”

“I don’t know”… say the now overpaid marketing director…”that is a silly idea!”

“What do we have to lose? Sales and credibility?… we have already lost those by releasing those stupid looking skinny jeans”…says Armani suit

“Lindsay, you are a genius. Do it!”

We flash forward through panic, disgust, laughter, ridicule and back-tracking, only to find Gap at the fore-front of every news media, trying to explain away what happened with their “failed attempt to release their new logo”.

While we all point and laugh at what a gigantic failure that it was, I must sit back and ask myself…


1 Comment

A Quick Quiz on Social Media and Branding

in Marketing Thoughts, Rants & Raves, Small Business, Social media, Tips & Tricks

Alright class, please use No. 2 pencil only on this and keep your eyes on your own paper. Today’s quiz is in true false format. You have 10 minutes to complete your quiz….and…start.

True or False: I need to be on every platform.

Ok look, if you’re going to use social media marketing you should probably invest your time in a Twitter account and a Facebook account.  A majority of your customers and clients probably have an account as well, and you need to be where they are. Do you really need to have a Foursquare account, Digg account and an RSS feed? No! Don’t waste your time and energy on social media marketing accounts that are going to hardly be viewed or utilized. Keep it simple.

True or False: Social media is a fad.

Considering that Facebook users are multiplying like rabid rabbits, I would say this is false. Even Twitter seems to be hanging in there. Having said that, joining the social media world really isn’t bandwagon jumping or fad-following. It seems that social media accounts are becoming a necessary accessory for businesses.

True or False: You can brand without being online.

Sure, you can brand without having an online presence, but why would you want to? It’s like trying to bake a cake without all of the ingredients! It’s just not right! The internet is your friend, and if you use it properly it can be one of your best allies when it comes to branding yourself. Think back to the Old Spice commercials you saw on TV. Now I want you to go to Youtube and search for that same Old Spice Guy. Seriously, go do it…NOW! You probably discovered his question and answer segment where he actually answers questions from his Youtube viewers. The Old Spice Guy is an extension of the Old Spice brand because he is a persona, and he has expanded his persona to the online world. What’s the end result? Your brand is remembered and thought of in the real world.

True or False: I need a huge marketing campaign to create a brand.

False. Branding yourself can be as simple as creating a catchy slogan and/or pairing it with a great graphic. It doesn’t take television advertisements and print to get your brand out there. Never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth marketing these days. Especially now that Twitter exists. Think about it, a customer has a positive experience with your business and they tweet about it. That tweet is seen by their friends. People tend to gravitate towards products that have personal testimonials attached to them because they trust their friends and family. You see where this is going don’t you? Before long, you could gain twenty customers because of one tweet.

Also, a brand doesn’t have to be a logo or a slogan. It can be a lifestyle or a piece of culture. Take Apple for example. Apple has created a culture around its company. Apple followers line up again and again for the latest and greatest product from them because they want to buy into their brand so they can be a part of the Apple culture. Think back to the I-pod commercials. They were hardly ground breaking; most of them featured shadowed people dancing around a colorful room. I wouldn’t exactly refer to that as a call to action.

Apple is successful because it markets an extension of itself.

True or False: If I make it, they will buy it.

You might have the perfect product, but if you don’t have the proper buzz around it your product could just sit on the shelf and collect dust. The same goes for services. You need to generate an interest in your product. Give out samples, show demos, promote on social media sites or even try more traditional marketing methods. You have to get the word out.

True or False: Spending more money on advertising means more results.

If you don’t build your brand, then no amount of advertising can help you. Advertising is trying to provoke a person to make a purchase. It’s persuasive material, and it’s biased. Sure, advertising is useful, but only after your product has proved itself credible. Why do you think businesses are eager to get their products featured on Oprah? She offers credibility because she tests her products before giving them her personal endorsement. Also, Oprah isn’t an infomercial or an advertisement.

True or False: You need a logo to brand yourself.

Zipbloc, Marlboro and Puffs are just a few examples of companies that don’t have notable logos. They’re recognized by their label and font only. Don’t believe the hype. A logo is not the end all, be all of branding. You can have a successful marketing campaign and brand yourself without a flashy image. This is great news for the budget conscious business person.

True or False: I don’t need to revisit branding after I’ve executed it.

The world changes, your customers interests change, and wants and needs shift over time. Why wouldn’t you revisit branding? It’s your job to connect with customers, and your brand is the best way to do so. However, if your brand is old and dated, customers won’t be able to connect and relate to you. You have to keep refreshing your persona and image.

True or False: My company is huge, so our branding strategy has worked.

Large companies are not immune to branding failures. In fact, if a branding campaign does not go over well, a larger company has more to lose. If you are a part of a small business, your clientele list is significantly shorter than a multi-million dollar corporation. What does this mean? If you experiment with branding, and it isn’t a successful campaign, you have less to lose because your brand only reaches a limited audience. A large company with national recognition could ruin its reputation and credibility in the eyes of millions of customers if their branding campaign goes belly-up.

1 Comment

Web Applications in an Iphone World

in Tips & Tricks

I know what you’re thinking, another IPhone evangelist. Well, kinda but not really.  The first thing I must do is set the topic straight by letting you know that this post is not about enabling your web application for the Iphone. The post is more about what people have come to expect in the way they interact with an application. Since Apple came out with the iphone in 2007, and I guess even before that with the MAC OS (I wouldn’t know, I am a PC… thanks to all of you leaving for stopping by) … mobile users have changed their expectations on what they expect from their User Interfaces. Apple did a good job creating a UI where you can pretty much get to anything with at most 2 clicks, a slide, a shake and a pop…try it…I am not joking. Don’t belive me, check this out… in 2008, apple only controlled approx 3% of the mobile phone market share, by 2009 they owned 13.3%. Yeah 13% is nothing compared to Nokia’s 45%, but with a growth rate that big and almost exclusive control over the mantra of the simplistic approach to usability… inevitability is just a matter of fact.

So with the ground work out of the way, now down to the real topic at hand. You launched a great web application, or software as a service, whatever you want to call it, and now you are thinking, we need to keep our clients engaged, we need to add more features. IMHO, trying to engage your customers by adding more features is like fishing with dynamite, you might get more fish but hey will be all wrangled and dismembered (for the record, I hav elways hated that term). If anything , you should be looking to simplify your application. This aint field of dreams, if you built it, they won’t come, but if you make it usefully simple and simply useful, they will flock to you like 14 year-old-chicks to the Backstreet Boys, who by the way apparently have a new album…what?…why are you looking at me like that?

Before you go putting another sardine in your application tin can, consider the following:

  • Ask yourself, is a feature addition necessary/ is it a preemptive strike. Your application can’t be stagnant I know, but simpler changes can make a big difference. Changes such as themes or layouts or simplifying the process to complete an action can make you look like a genius.
  • Don’t spend time building, spend time learning. Find out what the pains are from your customer….Hint, they really do know best. Surveys and feedback sites such as Get Satisfaction can help you make your application more customer centric..and trust me, that’s all the rave these days.
  • Always have an application log, and check it always. Your server logs can tell you a whole lot about how your clients use you application and besides, working out those very quiet bugs that just rare their ugly heads every now and then is way more important that adding a jet pack to your app.
  • Check with your marketing department, find out what keywords make you pop up in search results. No, I am not saying build your app away from your core services, I am saying make sure you know what the craze so you don’t miss out on opportunities. Make of that what you will.
  • Is my interface crisp, clean and inviting. Can users get to what they need in 3 clicks or less.

This is not meant to be a comprehensive list of do’s and dont’s for your app, all I want to do is give you pause. With cooler technology comes greater expectations on how to use it.

KISS ..google that $#iT


Momma Manners: Let’s Talk About Netiquette

in General, Marketing Thoughts, Rants & Raves


Have you ever noticed that people tend to act differently when they are online? It seems that we’ve forgotten how to act, so  Momma Manners is here to deliver a much needed lesson.

Mind Your Manners
Do you have an online business or an online presence? If the answer is yes, then you need to be extra careful about your online persona. Your social media accounts and websites reflect your character. Wouldn’t it suck if you lost business because of some drunken Tweet you decided to post,  because you posted a disgruntled Facebook comment after dealing with an antagonizing co-worker? If you don’t think your clients are researching you, then you’re senile. Here is a challenge for you, search your name or your company’s name and see what the search results yield. Be sure to use more than one search engine.

I Deleted Everything!
The first thing you should remember is that nothing is truly deleted from the internet. You can remove a snarky comment on someone’s blog, but your unkind words are still floating out there in cyberspace.

How Should I Conduct Myself?

Carry yourself online the same way that you would in person. Don’t post or write anything that you wouldn’t want on the first page of a newspaper.

Spelling—Try to avoid abbreviations or poor spelling on your social media accounts and website. We know that social media accounts are more casual than an office e-mail, but it is better to be overly formal then to be unprofessional. Your websites and pages are a reflection of your organization, and of your own character. Don’t tarnish your presence.

Watch Your Temper


One of your clients may have made you mad, or maybe a fellow employee really ticked you off, but don’t air your dirty laundry online. It’s just embarrassing and immature. Employees are losing their jobs over social media postings, and you don’t want to lose clients over something you wrote. Think before you type!

Keep It Separated
—Make a professional and a personal social media account. It sounds like common sense, but some people haven’t figured out that it isn’t a wise decision to merge the two. If you have a Facebook, you should have a personal account attached to your personal email, and you should have a professional account connected to your professional email. There is nothing wrong with friending your customers and clients, but you don’t want them associating on the same page as your crazy cousin.

Censor Yourself


If you don’t have anything nice to say ,don’t say it at all. It’s an oldie, but definitely a goodie. Yes, you can post statements under an annonymous screen name, but if someone finds out who you are, you’re screwed. Just don’t do it!



Don’t friend your boss on your personal Facebook account! That’s what LinkedIn is for.

Responding—If you’re going to have a fanpage or some other form of social media, you need to engage your followers. If they posted to you, take the time to respond to them.

Keep It Clean—You and your friends may have a cool nickname for each other, but don’t make it a screen name. Also, keep your clothes on! We know you worked hard for that Adonis figure, but if a client were to come across a half-naked picture of you, I’m sure they won’t be impressed.

I Can See You!


Yes, there are privacy settings, but the world is a small place. There are ways to work around privacy settings on social media pages and websites, so keep that in mind when you are writing your content and posting images.

Music—If your website has music make sure that it isn’t offensive. Sounds like a no-brainer, but we all know what happens when we assume.

Language and Tone—Don’t use profanity! Also, if you’re trying to portray a certain attitude through your website (like sarcasm), you may want to reconsider. Your written content may come across as funny to you, but it may come across as offensive to another. Language and tone should be a special consideration if you’re conducting business internationally. Remember that context of your message can be received differently; depending on who is reading your website or posts.

Ultimately, if you wouldn’t want your grandma to read it or see it, then maybe you should reconsider what you’re about to publish.


Free Your Marketing: Why You Should Care About Social Media

in General, Marketing Thoughts, Rants & Raves, Small Business, Social media
Think back to the year 2000. If someone explained the concept of Twitter, Foursquare, or Facebook to you, you’d probably laugh.

Now it’s 2010, and social media is embedded in the daily functions of our lives. Businesses check their media feeds while they have their first cup of coffee. News stories are now being broken on Twitter before a reporter can reach the scene. People are meeting in person through social media connections (Tweetups and Facebook events). Let’s not forget that people are also constantly connected to the internet through their cellphones, computer or laptop.
If social media is still just a silly trend in your mind, you’re probably behind the curve. My marketing professor told me, “In the business world, only the fastest survive.” He’s absolutely right. If you can’t stay current, then you’ll become obsolete.

Swim Fast or Die

A prime example: Facebook vs Myspace. Myspace was all the rage about three years ago, and Facebook was still gaining momentum. Facebook was able to execute a better operating system, it was easier to operate and it was significantly less time consuming. Facebook uses microblogging, while Myspace demands more of a users time. The streamlined style of Facebook beat out the antiquated website-like styling of Myspace. Seriously, when was the last time you logged into your Myspace? That is if you still even have one.

So, what can a business gain by using social media as a tool? A lot.

Take Foursquare for example; it’s members use their phones to “check-in” at various locations. After so many “check-ins” you can become a mayor, or earn other esteemed titles. Ultimately, it’s just a fun game and it allows you and your friends to see where you are in the world.
Companies are taking note though, and they are actually utilizing Foursquare to their advantage. Foursquare Perspectives, by Awareness, allows companies to evaluate “check-in” trends and behavior patterns.

What does this mean for a business owner? If you have a high volume of your customers that are Foursquare users, a business could offer a discount for “checking-in” at their location. The business creates a fortified relationship with its customer because it is making a personal connection, and repeat business is likely to follow. That customer may even spread the word, and the business will grow with little to no cost to the business owner.

Be My Friend
Facebook is one of the easiest forms of social media, and it has one of the highest adoption rates in terms of its users. It is also a goldmine for marketing opportunities. Companies can create pages and post updates about what’s happening in their world. This means that a company can promote an upcoming sale, or a new product.

Facebook also serves public relations tool. If a company just performed charity work, or wants to honor an employee it can do so through photos and status update.

Feedback is the best tool of all for the Facebook user. Companies can post links to products, or create an update about what they are currently working on. Friends of the company can then post their comments, which provides the company with some insight as to how their work is being perceived. Again, this is inexpensive to the business, and it builds a personal connection with the customer. Being friends with a company makes the customer feel special, as if they belonged to an elite group. So, start accepting those add requests!

Tweet Tweet!
Isn’t that the place where celebrities announce that they just brushed their teeth? Yes, but it turns out that there is more to it!

Personally, I thought Twitter was completely irrelevant until I saw its power in action. As I said before, news stories have been broken on Twitter before a news crew can even reach the scene. Victims of the earthquake in Haiti were tweeting immediately after the earthquake subsided. Twitter is almost as instantaneous as a thought, and its micro-blogging design caters to this concept perfectly.

How can a company use Twitter? The Dallas Mavericks gives away game tickets through Twitter, and tweets about upcoming viewing parties It’s rewarding to be a  follower, and once again it is an inexpensive way to promote positive marketing.

Companies can also use Twitter for feedback. If I were to type #Corner6labs #fail, I would probably receive a response from one of our lab technicians in a matter of minutes, asking me what’s wrong. Instead of being dissatisfied with a service, Corner6 has a second chance at righting a wrong that a customer is experiencing. It shows that the company cares.

There have been times when I have tweeted about a basketball team or a particular company, and because I included their name, they wanted to follow me. These are businesses that are ahead of the curve, and they want to make sure that their consumers are happy.

Twitter is even included in television shows. BET’s, ”106 & Park” has a trending topic of the day, and the hosts reference it throughout the broadcast  to see what people are posting. It provides a tweeter with the opportunity to be seen and heard on television, and it engages them on a personal level. What does this mean? Twitter is here to stay. At least until something bigger and better makes it outdated.

Watch Me
Youtube is not just a place for you to watch music videos and college pranks. Youtube adds a face and a voice to your company. It may be the most personal connection that a company can make with its consumer. It’s just shy of having a physical person in the room with you.

A Youtube video can portray the attitude of a company through spokespeople, testimonials, interviews and behind-the-scenes video footage. Companies can also use Youtube to create instructional videos for its customers or employees.

Also, it’s very non-committal. Sitting down to read someone’s blog or status takes time and dedication. We all know how short our attention spans are these days. So, if a consumer can watch a company’s message instead of read about it, there is a higher chance of capturing their attention and engaging them.

Other companies are similar to Youtube’s format. Justin.tv hosts broadcasts and channels for people to view that are created by its users. Who can be a user? Anyone. A company could create a weekly broadcast that recaps events and progress made during the week, which could be viewed by consumers and employees alike. It’s an easier way to keep everyone in the loop, and it just requires a video camera, a few cables and a microphone. You don’t need a fancy studio setting.

Late Adopters
So what’s your excuse? Do you think that your customers don’t use social media? Are you crazy?!  Ad-ology  found that 31% of small business owners have this mentality. Social media should be the tool of choice for a small business owner. It is virtually free to use and it only commands a small portion of your time compared to the foot traffic it can bring in. The key is to be intelligent about what social media platform you choose. If you’re a business to business company, LinkedIn might be your best option. If you’re a small bakery, a Facebook fan page may be best. Do some research and figure out what fits your company.

Another mistake people make is that they don’t keep their accounts current. If you have a following, you need to keep them interested, and that means that you need to update. How many times have you visited someone’s blog or Twitter and saw that the last update occurred six months ago. This is simply lazy. If you aren’t gaining any new followers, make sure that your customers are aware that you actually participate in social media. Print it on your business cards or place it somewhere visible in your establishment. If the consumer doesn’t know to look for you, they won’t.

Try It
Still don’t think social media is right for you? Here is a challenge; make an account with a social media company that you haven’t tried before. Try it out for a month, and see if it has made any changes to your business operations. If you’re clueless about setting up these accounts or operating them, I suggest visiting Youtube and finding a “how-to” video. You can’t succeed if you don’t try. What do you have to lose?

About the Author: Talissa Beall


Using videos for your business.

in General, Marketing Thoughts, Search Engine Optimization, Small Business, Social media

Dwamian Mcleish, Our Director of Technology gets interview on CelebrityU Radio.


Branding. It's not just for cows. Blog your way to successful brand recognition!

in General, Marketing Thoughts, Social media

If these people were blogs, you'd want to be THAT guy.

Blogging. This phenomenon is for sure here to stay and we have advanced past the time of calling blogs just a trend. They are now essential tools in building brand awareness. Blogs provide opportunities to speak directly to audiences engaged in the brand already. Speaking to audiences in their own terms is one of the best ways to explain what your brand is all about.

So what’s the point of blogging?

Visiting a website can tell you lots about a brand. But not everything. And not a lot of the things you really want to know. If you want to KNOW the brand, the voices behind it and the issues that are important to it, a blog is where it’s at. You might find the beginning threads of what you want to know on an official website but digging deeper into a brand requires reading more.

Do us a favor: Just Keep it Simple

If you are blogging for your brand, you don’t want people to have to dig TOO deep. (Or else they probably won’t do any digging at all and move on to the next brand, next blog and not remember yours). It is important to also find ways to keep your old blogs memorable too. Remember that unbelievably awesome blog you wrote a month ago? Well there are a lot of ways to keep that work relevant and entice readers to check it out again. It also has to be easy to read. Establishing your blog and engaging people in what you have to say isn’t always easy though. If it was easy, then brand awareness would be simple and we would all know EVERYTHNG about ALL the brands we use and want.

Write TO your audience, not AT them…

In order for people to follow your blog, they have to have that basic interest in what you’re talking about. You have to know your audience too. Who is actually reading this stuff? Well, you have to know in order to write to them. Some of the best bloggers out there will tell you that branding is all about how you speak to your readers. Having a conversation with your reader is the best way to keep them engaged but also to keep YOU memorable. There are a lot of great articles out there, to help us figure out how to talk to potential clients.

Blogging allows you to literally write your own definition of what your brand represents. By showing people what you are interested in and what’s important to you, you build a personal relationship with them. Successful branding is not easy. This we know. But what we also know is how to create that brand dialogue and it starts with building a relationship.