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The ALS Challenge … Creating a Movement

If anyone ever doubted the power of social media you only have to look at the success of the ALS Ice bucket challenge. To date they have raised $79.7 million dollars significantly more (over 4x) than the $19.4 million in total contributions the ALS association received during the year that ended January 31, 2013.

Watching this phenomena unfold reminds me of a Ted video I watched four years ago on “How to Start a Movement”  A movement takes a leader, the first follower, second follower, more followers (more people less risky) … and it must be public.

The ALS challenge has all the components a leader, early participants and tens of thousands of followers. But is there more to it? Why did this turn into a social media bonanza?

ALS is no doubt a great cause but there are a lot of great causes. However, this campaign was the perfect storm. Take a great cause, couple it with a interactive media that reaches 500+M people, throw in the opportunity to do something a bit off the wall AND share it with your friends …. you have a movement. Successful marketing is about creating a movement. No matter what the channel(s)

Has your company created a marketing movement?

Since Xplor International is the association for the electronic document industry AND we think ALS is a great cause we are going to donate $5.00US to each of the first 300 people (up to $1500) who share their ALS video on the Xplor International Facebook Page – have some fun and help raise more money for ALS!

Here is my ALS challenge video: Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 12.48.11 PM

Donate to ALS: http://www.alsa.org/

Until next time …. Get wet!

 

Make Your Next Tradeshow An Event!

Are You Excited About Print13?  You Need To Be!

You book a flight, a hotel room and make sure you register for the free exhibit hall pass. You even sign up for a few conference sessions.  Where are you going?  To a tradeshow!

If you are in your mid-20’s you are absolutely pumped. A trip out of town, a few days away, most likely to a new city, all expenses paid. It doesn’t get any better than this. If you have been around the industry for 20+ years, you are either truly excited or saying “oh, boy another trade show,” with a great deal of sarcasm in your voice. Young or old if you are not excited get out of the industry and go do something else.

Two Types of Tradeshow People

Primarily there are two types of tradeshow people: the buyers and the sellers. Buyers attend to look at new products and services, get a little education and expand their network. Sellers attend to show the buyers their products, share their knowledge and hopefully become part of their network. The buyer/seller relationship can and should be a beautiful thing.

Young or Old Tradeshows Present a Unique Opportunity

I have been attending tradeshows for over 35 years and I still get excited going to one. Why, because I MAKE IT an event. I plan for it, I set expectations and I make sure my investment in time and money will pay big dividends and you should be doing the same thing too.

If you are a buyer tradeshows are a great opportunity to visit with a lot of vendors without being “overwhelmed” shall we say. My suggestion is to:

Put together a show plan:

• Write a list of any technology that your company is considering and cross check it with the exhibiting vendors on the tradeshow website. Do your homework on the vendor companies and visit their booths. Do some preliminary qualification.

• Allow blocks of time for “new stuff”. Large tradeshows are a mecca for new product announcements of products you may not be aware of. Make sure you look on the event website, onsite publications etc. for new technology announcements. The more you know, the better you can stay on the leading edge.

• Look at the available conference sessions. Pick a few that would expand your knowledge base and make you more valuable to your customers and company.

• Get on your social network and find out who is attending and meet up.

Work the plan and plan to work!

As a seller, where else can you hook up with dozens of customers and prospects without flying city to city going through security, eating airport food and getting back home grumpy and tired. Tradeshows can be a sales bonanza IF YOU PLAN!

• Contact ALL of your customers and prospects to see if they plan to attend. If you can, offer them free exhibit passes, an invitation to a company event, etc.  Even if they do not plan to attend they know you were thinking of them. It is a point of contact!

• Schedule appointments with your customers and prospects. If you have a booth, take them through the latest product announcements and/or new features.

• Check out your competition. (Get some free tchotchkes )

• Allow blocks of time to walk the floor and look at “new stuff” in your product category. The more you know, the better you can stay on the leading edge.

• Look at the conference sessions. Pick a few that would expand your knowledge base and make you more valuable to your customers and company. Learn a couple “techie” phrases. Goes a long way.

• Get on your social network and find out who is attending and meet up.

Work the plan and plan to work

Whether a buyer or seller expand and share your knowledge, meet new people and have fun. It should be.

My next tradeshow is PRINT 13 in Chicago September 8-12. Let me know if you will be there. We can hook up.

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Is Multi-Channel Marketing Just Another Spray and Pray?

Last week when I was in Haiti I had an interesting conversation with one of the people in our group about the whole subject of marketing and in particular the best way he could solicit funds for his not-for-profit organization.
He shared that he had researched the concept of multi-channel marketing and was keen on the idea of trying to communicate with people using different channels to increase the odds of his success. His logic followed conventional wisdom that if he puts his message out utilizing different channels that one of them would stick, prompt some type of response and increase donations.

As we talked more I began to wonder if multi-channel marketing was becoming the new spray and pray.

Spray and Pray

In the old days of direct mail the terms “spray and pray” meant you sent “x” number of people a direct mail piece and a percentage would respond. Acceptable response rates were 2-3% and as technology and demographic targeting became more prevalent exponential increases in percentages of responses were realized.

More relevant and targeted marketing, generating fewer mailed pieces, with a higher response and better ROI have replaced the spray and pray method.

Is Multi-Channel Marketing the New “Spray and Pray”?

I have children so I understand they will respond to a text faster than a phone call. Call your child, wait for it to go into voice mail (if they have one) and then text them to get an instant answer. Text messaging as a channel works. For others it is Twitter, LinkedIn, some Facebook (although kids are leaving it since their parents discovered it!) and there are still many who value their walk to the mailbox.

One would think then it would be all about the channel.

What Could Multi-Channel Marketing Be?

I attend a lot of conferences, participate in a lot of Webinars, and I have seen some great multi-channel campaigns that were works of art. They not only relied on the delivery channel but the message associated with each type of media. They capitalized on the attributes of each channel as well as the various senses they triggered. They were an “ongoing message” designed to engage, engrain a message and drive different calls to actions. Different messages using different channels.

Maybe it’s not just the channel, but a combination of the channel and messaging

Confusing? Yes? No? Not sure?

I guess everyone’s definition of multi-channel marketing is a bit different. Some simply take the same information and send it out using different channels and others make it an engaging experience.  If it works, who is to say it is wrong.

Back to Haiti! As we continued to talk he realized that the delivery channel was important but so was the product, story line, design and demographics of the recipients. (He is not a marketing guy just someone who want to raise money to help people.) Since we had a whole evening with no TV, little light and no internet, we decided to plot out a campaign that included video, pictures, social media presence, etc. etc. It will be interesting to check back with him.

It all boils down to the right message, to the right person at the right time using the right channel(s).

Come and Hear for Yourself …. Are We There Yet?

I invite you to attend the complimentary Xplor at Print13 breakfast session entitled “Are We There Yet? A 2013 Multi-Channel Communications Industry Perspective” moderated by Matt Swain of InfoTrends.

The panel will feature end users who have provide multi-channel communications to their customers. They have been there and will share their successes and failures.

For more information or to register please visit: http://xplor.org/upcoming-events/xplor-at-print-13

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Are We There Yet? We will see at #Print13

One of the buzzwords or phrases that has made the rounds the last several years is “multi-channel marketing”.  I have watched dozens of  presentations on the subject, spoken about it and have debated it’s attributes.

What is Multi-Channel Marketing?

According to our friends at Wikipedia – Multichannel marketing is marketing using many different marketing channels to reach a customer.[1] In this sense, a channel might be a retail store, a web site, a mail order catalogue, or direct personal communications by letter, email or text message. The objective of the companies doing the marketing is to make it easy for a consumer to buy from them in whatever way is most appropriate.

Does Multi-Channel Marketing Equate To Effective Marketing?

My favorite definition of relevant communications is “the right message, to the right person at the right time …. using the right media.  Is multi-channel communications the same thing as effective marketing? Sometimes, maybe but not always. 

When I was looking at what type of programming Xplor was going to do at Print13 I decided it was time to address the issue. I wanted to have a forum where several companies who had implemented multi-channel communications speak openly about their successes and failures. I wanted someone to ask the tough questions, who knows the industry.

Are We There Yet: A 2013 Multi-Channel Communications Industry Perspective 

InfoTrends_A_Questex_Company_LogoPrint 13 is the perfect backdrop for Xplor’s breakfast keynote session moderated by industry expert Matt Swain of InfoTrends. Matt’s panel of leading print service providers will talk about their challenges, the things they would do different and the things that worked.

It is a don’t miss 90 minutes at Print13.

The breakfast panel is taking place September 10th from 8:30 am to 10:00 am. The cost, complimentary thanks to our sponsors CompartCrawford Technologies and Solimar Systems.

Join us for breakfast, a great educational session and also receive a complimentary exhibit hall pass simply by registering to attend.

The session is going to be conveniently located at McCormick Place South in Room 101 a few short steps from the shuttle bus drop off area.

Register here ASAP as attendance is limited to 200. 

See you in Chicago …. Are We There Yet?

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The Future of Credit Cards …. Really!

I recently read an article on “The Future of Credit Cards” published as a result of a conference devoted to travel and credit card rewards.  Executives from Chase, Barclaycard, US Bank, Capital One and American Express were on hand to share their views on the future of credit cards.

My expectation was that they would simply predict the demise of the physical credit card, as mobile technology certainly can replace it almost instantaneously. In one of my February posts entitled “Remember Your Smartphone, Forget Your Wallet”, I addressed this.

However, these execs went beyond the boundaries of simply replacing the physical card. For many, these discussions are not an “epiphany,” individually you may be familiar with some if not all of their talking points. For others, who assume the evolution of technology, they make perfect sense and you ask yourself, “what is the big deal?”

The fact that banks are talking about this collectively is a big deal.

  • Big Data – One of the new buzz words certainly familiar within our community. We talk about it in webcasts and conference sessions but what was interesting in the article is the discussion of leveraging that data across multiple vendors. Can a free Subway drink at your local Walmart be in your future?  (Only makes sense if your Walmart has a Subway)
  • Mobile – Once again not a new concept, but providing realtime “offers” to cardmembers utilizing location and spending data. My wife would love to get a 20% off coupon while standing outside Justice with my daughter.
  • Budgeting Tool/Spend Smarter – This one seemed counter intuitive to me based on the concept of the credit card and habits of some people in using one.

Banks hope to offer cardholders not just deals and offers, but information to help manage spending  offering information to consumers about how they spend and how to spend smarter. This should be interesting to watch.

  • Unbanked/Underbanked – At the conference it was reported that 8.2% of the people did not have a checking or savings account and were referred to as “unbanked.” They also referred to the “underbanked” as people who have a checking or savings account, but use non-bank means of credit, like payday loans. This group represents 20+% of the population and growing.

AMEX partnered with Walmart on the BlueBird prepaid card looking to the next generation who may not want a bank account. As mentioned in the article, it remains to be seen but the next generation might find bank accounts as relevant as land lines, compact discs, and print publications.

  • Less Junk Mail / More Social Media – Note was made that credit card marketing is changing. No surprise here. Rising costs of traditional mail coupled with the communication preferences of the next generation makes this a bit of a no brainer. Barclaycard was noted as leading the way in integrating social media with its credit card products by introducing the Ring card .

David Gold, General Manger of Partnerships for Chase Card Services noted that he wakes up every day worried about what will be written online about his products by bloggers who focus on how many cents they can get out of each point. Certainly something we need to watch today.

What does it mean for the stakeholders?

As a customer:  Some of it sounds pretty good and high tech. Who wouldn’t want great relevant offers, discounts and ways to spend your money smarter?

The credit card company: higher customer retention, decreased costs, increased revenue and more accounts.

As a vendor: Opportunity! These companies will need consultants, software and hardware to implement these changes.

Will be fun to look back on this in a few years.

To read the whole article go to: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/future-credit-cards-080024294.html

To Blog or Not to Blog, That Is The Question

Over the last several months I have personally questioned the effectiveness of social media as tweeting, posting and blogging can eat up your time. As such I wondered if my time was being well spent.

At this year’s XDU On the Road I have consistently asked “How many people have a twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook account? Write a blog?” The majority of the people raise their hands for Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook with one or two writing a blog.

Then, I asked how many people tweet, use LinkedIn and Facebook AND how many people read blogs. Significantly fewer people raised their hands.

So as I was evaluating how I wanted to spend my time and resources in 2013 Deborah Corn of Print Media Centr sent me a report on my blog. Now, to make sure everyone knows, Deborah helps with my social media including Twitter and the Xplor Facebook page. As far as my blog, I write it, she makes it look great and then posts it for me. So, back to my blog.

The report I received from World Atlas stated the following.

  • My blogs had 5,300 views in 2012 on 26 posts – Average 204 per post
  • The busiest day of the year was September 30th with 261 views. The most popular post that day was Printing is not dead, it is different.
  • The top referring sites were: Facebook, Twitter, networkedblogs.com, globalnews.printmediacentr.com, linkedin.com
  • Blog was read in 117 countries (there are 193 countries in the world depending on what source you reference http://www.worldatlas.com/nations.htm)
  • Most visitors came from The United States, India & The United Kingdom

Now these numbers pale in comparison to many others but a couple key things came from them:

  • I know someone has been reading them, so there is an interest
  • It give me a base line to expand ….. My goal for 2013 is 15,000 views read in 140 countries
  • REALLY has motivated me to really see what I can do with it

Hope all of you had a Happy Holiday Season and I extend my best wishes for a happy, healthy, joyous and prosperous 2013.

Thank you for reading my blog, and don’t forget to pass it along if you think it is worthwhile.

Who gives a tweet

At the recent XDU On the Road in Chicago I asked attendees a couple questions, which I often do, about twitter. I asked three questions:

1. Who has or has had a twitter account?

2. Who actively tweets?

3. Do you read the tweets you receive?

With the theme of the 2012 XDU On the Road program being “making it relevant”, and the 5 sessions focusing on relevant communications the subject of social media was certainly part of the discussion.

In Chicago, as in other cities the percentages were close. In Chicago approximate 70% said they had a twitter account at some time. About 20% said they actively tweeted and about the same percentage claimed to read some if not all of their tweets.

Many have told me that there are a lot of twitter accounts, with few people actually being engaged. So why should we give it a tweet?

The answer, yes you should give a tweet, especially if they are among the 20 or so percent who like to communicate via twitter. Right message, right time, right person using the right CHANNEL. That is what relevance is.

Do you give a tweet?

PS – 20% is huge compared to the 1-5% using other channels.