Bridging the Offline and Online Worlds

Bridging the Offline and Online Worlds

Starbucks and iTunesYou are waiting in line to order your coffee and while the six people in front of you are going through excruciatingly long orders, you happen to glance at a display next to you featuring a Bruce Springsteen collection you’d never heard of. All you need to do to own the Boss’s greatest hits is take the small credit-card-sized iTunes card to the barista and gladly hand over your $9.99, plus the cost of the latte you ordered, drive that puppy home, turn on your computer, log onto iTunes, type in a 10 digit code, download the album and sync it with your iPhone! In just seven easy steps, you can be listening to “The River” and “Pink Cadillac” and just a few hours prior, you had no idea that you even wanted to.

While it is certain your life is now more enriched, one may ask – why in the world did you go through all of those steps, when you could have just opened up iTunes from your iPhone and downloaded the album? The answer is simple. It’s for the same reason millions of people have bought magazines in grocery stores for more than fifty years, when they could get a subscription for nickels on the dollar.

Impulse zones.

You had absolutely no idea you needed Bruce Springsteen until you saw his mug on a display . . . in the impulse zone. That special place where we, as consumers, lose all of our inhibitions and simply must have whatever it is that is in that place. Magazines have been successful at this for decades; so have candy bars, gum, mints and overpriced flavored water. Impulse zones are the highest revenue generating areas of any retailer and often have sales per square foot that by far surpasses any other square foot in the store. It is also the most competitive part of a store, usually costing marketers a pretty buck to put their product there.

Marketers are increasingly trying to figure out how to reach audiences in the digital marketplace, since that is where a massive upward moving trend indicates buyers are now going. The challenge, however, is that online marketing has a tremendous amount of clutter to break through. If one is marketing a product in a brick and mortar store, they simply need to secure placement near the cash registers to improve sales velocity. Online, the cash registers are embedded with the actual product. So, apart from spending an incredible amount of advertising dollars and implementing extensive word of mouth campaigns, how does one get through the clutter online and be noticed by a potential consumer?

Impulse zones.

Online marketers need to remember that there is a real world too. And in this world, there are plenty of brick and mortar stores. Apple demonstrates this perfectly with its iTunes/Starbucks partnership. All digital marketers need do is bridge the offline world with the online world, using the impulse zone. With that strategy in place, tons of tactics pour forward: coupon codes on countertop handouts, QR codes on countertop displays, promotional giveaways referring visitors to a website, location-based social network promotions, etc.

It amounts old school marketing, but in the new world of communications. Find where your customers are and reach them offline in order to influence their behavior online.

Getting Past “Twitter Block”

Twitter can sometimes be foreboding. One logs in, takes a look at that ominous “What’s going on?” question and may think . . . “What is going on?”  And that person may not have an answer.  Sitting there? Drinking water?  Procrastinating on a project?

Looking for something to discuss, the “Twitter-blocked” may browse through the main feed searching for inspiration.

Stanlopez forget about it.

Covid My buddy broke his collar bone.

Xfdgg TOP 10 WAYS TO GET 10000 FOLLOWERS IN JUST 1 WEEK!!!!

Ronmalone My 12-year-old is great at Photoshop!

Xfdgg TOP 10 WAYS TO GET 10000 FOLLOWERS IN JUST 1 WEEK!!!!

Mikehilton Time to close the laptop.

Xfdgg TOP 10 WAYS TO GET 10000 FOLLOWERS IN JUST 1 WEEK!!!!

Nothing.

The Twitter-blocked may look around the office hoping for something to tweet about. Color of the walls maybe . . . or perhaps how quickly the coffee has gotten cold.  Nothing is clicking.

The Twitter-blocked is generally not using Twitter to talk about “coffee” or “sitting there,” instead he/she uses Twitter to build a brand presence.
The Twitter-blocked understands that endless tweets about the brand won’t work and that there needs be a genuine connection with the Twitter community. A trusted network builds meaningful relationships, thereby strengthening the brand. Sounds easy, right?

But what to tweet about?

When I have “Twitter-block”, I resort to my personal “C.R.A.S.H.” formula:

Comment
Reply
Ask
Share
Help

Comment
Every time you go into Twitter, tweet something.
Anything.  It could be “Good morning, Twitter,” or “Sitting down to start my day,” or anything benign.  Just write.  Once you do that, the rest comes easy. The hardest part of filling out a blank page is writing the first sentence. Just get something out and be natural.  Twitter isn’t always about broadcasting your brand; sometimes you can just talk. Casual conversation builds trust within your network and identifies that the brand is supported by real people. It is easier for people to connect with a person than it is for them to connect with a logo or product.

Reply
Reply to someone.
Find a tweet and reply to it.  It doesn’t have to be Shakespearean, just say, “@neatfollower Good point!” or “@hungryfollower Yeah, pizza sounds good now” or “@Xfdgg Why do I need 10,000 followers?”

Ask
Ask a question. The question could be something like: “How does one get past Twitter-block?”
Or it could be a discussion question about your industry. Or something personal like “What is going on with all of you today?” Questions encourage conversation and the more people that you respond to, the more conversations evolve. Check your @replies frequently and make sure that you aren’t missing out on connecting with someone.

Share
Share something.
Either tweet a link for a blog you’ve read or retweet something interesting someone else said.  You can pipe in many RSS feeds into FriendFeed and easily post them on Twitter straight from there.  You can even tie your blog into FriendFeed so that it tweets whenever there is a new post.  There are Twitter applets and Firefox apps that will help you tweet from wherever you are browsing. Make it a habit to simply share what you find as you find it.  Link retweets are the most popular type of tweet for a reason.  Most people are there to find news and websites, and if you post interesting things people will notice you more.

Help
Help people. Use Twitter Search (or some other 3rd party search system such as Monitter.com or any of the Twitter desktop applications) and find conversations that you can contribute to.
Search by whatever your expertise is and jump in – give advice, help people that are asking questions and peddle your smarts.

Use hashtags (#) on your topics so that they reach a broader base of people, such as: “Writing press releases is good for your SEO! #PR #SEO”. When you use hashtags the tweet shows up in a feed on Twitter Search, which many people follow.

Using the C.R.A.S.H. formula once a day keeps you a valuable and contributing member of Twitter. Leveraging your own expertise and the benefits of your brand in each of those steps will build awareness. But most importantly, C.R.A.S.H. will help you get rid of that dreaded Twitter-block.

QR: Bar Code For The Masses

QR: Bar Code For The Masses

“QR,” as “Quick Response” technology is referred to, has been around in Japan ever since the technology was first created by the Japanese corporation Denso-Wave, back in 1994.  It is simply a bar code that delivers an arsenal of information to a device that can scan it. Surprisingly, while Japan has been immersed in it for the last 16 years, we are just now starting to see a “QR” phenomenon in the US.  As it turns out, mobile phones are the perfect scanner for QR.

If this catches on in the US, beyond only elite tech gatherings, the possibilities for corporate communication seem endless. On a practical level, QR code can instantly deliver contact information to a phone with a simple scan, direct mobile browsers to websites, or display phone numbers that can be instantly dialed. The more sophisticated codes can automate social media following or access cloud software.

For starters, companies can instantly tap this trend by putting QR into the social media activities, whether on blog posts, Facebook walls or websites. Beyond that, brick and mortar businesses, especially, have an opportunity to take advantage of this by offering special deals, access to specific (and hidden) microsites, or by setting up social media networking protocols into QR code. These are only a few ways of bringing offline marketing into the online world.

Other practical applications can include putting QR code on business cards for easy networking at trade shows, setting up QR code “bread crumbs” throughout a community leading consumers to store locations, or simply using it on products or storefronts so buyers can “like it” on Facebook in real time.

To begin messing around with this, search for “QR” in your smart phone application directory and read this blog again, but through the QR code. Or better yet, go to Kaywa and start making your own QR codes for free.

qr

Augmented Reality Marketing: Bringing Online Marketing Offline

Augmented Reality Marketing: Bringing Online Marketing Offline

transformer

The curious power of modern computer technology has allowed us to view the world around us through our webcams and iPhones, and in so doing, we have been able to super-impose images, video and sound over our view of reality. The result: augmented reality.

This new trend of entertainment technology has led to some remarkable applications.  For example: face-recognition technology uses your webcam to put a Transformer’s head on you; it allows you to try on virtual sunglasses as well as translate street signs by looking at them through a mobile device, or bring animated characters to life on your desktop with a webcam.

While this entertainment technology is very entertaining indeed, what are the implications for marketers? There is currently much discussion on the potential marketing value of augmented reality technology, what with new mobile applications and online programs popping up everyday, but there is little clear regard for measurable and useful marketing tactics.

Certainly, the use of augmented reality to develop viral social media campaigns is viable. According to Businessweek, it has been done by Kia Motors, Nestle, Frito Lay, and Wise Foods however with mixed results.   Still, it is expected that $170 million will be dumped into mobile augmented reality advertising within the next 5 years.

Viral videos, tactically, are only one slice of the augmented reality pie. Take for instance what iPhone apps Layar and SekaiCamera are doing. Both apps have taken augmented reality and geo-positioned this together into a whole new virtual universe, where consumers can hold up their iPhone, see information about the business in front of them, as well as its phone number and Wikipedia article. SekaiCamera takes it further, and allows users to post their own comments (virtually) on that business or location. Already a huge success in Asia, the SekaiCamera phenomena could potentially transform the world into a series of post-it notes visible to anyone who holds up their iPhone or Android. The ability to slap a comment on a restaurant’s physical location makes Yelp look like child’s play.

The marketing potential for an app like SekaiCamera trumps imagination. Coupling geo-positioning and augmented reality is a great way to get the word out about one’s brand. In one sense, the whole wide world can be an advertising platform wherein companies can post messages in physical locations right where their audience is. Creative campaigns could even include treasure hunts, whereby customers who uncover particular messages in particular locations, get free prizes or discounts. Or companies could award discounts to consumers who post in the sky about their product. Brick and mortar locations could encourage customers to post virtual tags all over the wall, telling other customers of their positive experiences there.

The overarching point is that the online world has now come full circle and the once global universe of social media marketing is now being transformed into a geo-located virtual reality  – right back in the middle of your target audience’s physical location.

While it will take time for SekaiCamera and other apps like it to catch on in the U.S., location “check in” apps like FourSquare are already transforming the market. The trend is inevitable: mobile technology and augmented reality will bring customers back into the real world and away from their global social media safety net. Online or off, it is still about location, location, location.

Does The Wall Street Journal iPad App Cost Too Much? Here’s a Formula To Find Out

Does The Wall Street Journal iPad App Cost Too Much? Here’s a Formula To Find Out

Photo courtesy of Wired

Photo courtesy of Wired

It was unofficially announced that the cost for subscription to The Wall Street Journal on Apple’s new “must have” device, the iPad, will run a news hound $18/month. This produced an immediate gasp in the media world as to whether this is too much money for an app, when you consider that a subscription for the print version is only $9.

Still, the argument in favor of the premium price is that this is, after all, The Wall Street Journal – not just “any” news app. Another, is that online version promises to have far more features than found in the print version, Also, it will be the very first newspaper app on the iPad and counts for something.

Whereby at first glance the $18 price tag seems over the top – double, when compared with the print version, I began to wonder what should the cost of newspaper apps be on the iPad, how is it formulated and what will the market bear?

Thinking about the standard price formula, I translated some of the costs involved. If we already know that pricing is generally based upon the sum of variable costs, fixed costs, and profit, then without a degree in Business Economics, I may be able to figure this out.

We can assume that WSJ has priced their print to include all of their costs for producing content and that it costs the WSJ less than $9.92 per month to produce it and still make a profit. So, let’s focus then on the costs involved on an app.

Not really knowing as yet the average costs for developing apps on the iPad, it is safe to assume that it will be similar to developing one for an iPhone. According to this discussion, it takes 200 hours at $50/hour on average to produce an app for the iPhone. If I assume that WSJ hires someone at $50/hour to do this, than one only needs to add the application license fee from Apple of $399.  As to downloads, iPhone applications, on average, are downloaded 25,000 times per year. It is therefore safe to assume that the WSJ iPad application will follow this pattern and be downloaded that many times.

So here is the formula that will figure out the WSJ app’s ideal price:

(Development Hours X Hourly Rate) + License Fee/Average Number of Downloads = Price (Apple’s Commission) + Print Subscription Price

Or, shortened:

Price Formula for iPad Apps

If we follow this formula, it will cost The Wall Street Journal $10,399 to produce the app, including the license. If they fall into the average, then approximately 2,083 will be downloaded every month. The total cost then per download is $4.99. When you add Apple’s commission, the cost becomes $6.49. Next, when you add in the current price of the print subscription (which theoretically includes the cost of producing content), the price according to our formula should be $16.41.

If you consider the “prestige” category and that and the fact that the app will contain added features, then $18/month makes perfect sense. Also, if WSJ continues to support and develop the app throughout the year, then the costs would stay relatively the same monthly.

Does that mean the market will bear that price? Time will tell but the sticker price is no longer so shocking.