Is it the End of Print?

When is the last time you read a paperback or hardcover book?

a. Just recently
b. Never, I hate reading
c. What is a paperback or hardcover book?

If you responded with c, I want to first inform you that books are those things with pages and second, you may be one of many who have ditched actual tangible books and have hopped on the eBook and e-reader bandwagon. Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook, and the Sony E-Reader are just a few of the electronic book readers changing the landscape of how we read. And for the first time, Amazon’s sales of their electronic books for their Kindle have overtaken those of printed versions. For every 100 printed books, Amazon sells 105 electronic ones. It would be unrealistic to think that this could never happen, but now that it has, it is interesting to know how popular eBooks and e-readers have become. E-readers possess qualities like easier portability, ease of use, and they have the ability to purchase books instantly from the device, among other features. They are also a more eco-friendly version to reading as well as more functional.

So what does this mean for printed books? Only time will tell. But in the mean time, marketers can step up their skills and create something unique to keep printed books in the minds of consumers.

The Social Side of Gaming

If you haven’t heard of Angry Birds or Farmville, you have been living under a rock. These are just two of the many games that have transformed the trend of social gaming. Social gaming is playing games as a way of social interaction, via social networks like Facebook. Gaming is not only for the stereotyped teens, now moms, business execs, and retirees are reshaping the demographics of who a gamer is. The two top activities people do online is social networking and gaming, so its no wonder social gaming has become so popular.

Social gaming is not only keeping users entertained, it is also helping companies market and advertise their brands. Marketers use social gaming to reach a wide variety of people. It also gives them the opportunity to target specific groups of people by uncovering their preferences, habits, and acquaintances via social networks. This is where targeted advertising comes into play. Companies are leveraging their brands to create experiences that exist within the games to encourage engagement and interaction. For example, you can get a pair of Nike tennis shoes for your Avatar. The idea is to incorporate businesses and brands into the gaming network instead of overloading users with ads. By integrating brands into games, users will have the chance to interact with the brand instead of being attacked by numerous ad campaigns.

Social gaming enables an interaction to take place. This is the first step in attracting users to a brand, product, or service. By integrating brands into a game, it allows users to have fun with the brand and get to know it. If a user’s avatar wears Nike shoes, the user may be more inclined to buy a pair of Nike shoes for themselves.

What is Crowdsourcing?


Have you ever wondered what crowdsourcing is? I have heard of it, but never fully understood what it was. For starters, the name crowdsourcing came from combining crowd and outsourcing. By definition, crowdsourcing is the act of outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, to an undefined, large group of people or community. Still confused? Well when a company has a problem they usually hire someone to perform the necessary procedures to fix it. Now a company will involve a crowd to help them solve their problem. A larger group of people has a higher potential of finding a better solution than compared to one person. So the basic idea then is to tap into the collective intelligence of a group of people to perform business related tasks.

Crowdsourcing increases productivity, while also allowing to hear feedback from more than one individual. A lot of businesses are using crowdsourcing to gain insight and solve problems. As social media has become the way we communicate, crowdsourcing is becoming more and more popular. Businesses may use crowdsourcing to get opinions on a new logo design, voting on a product design, or rank songs and movies. Crowdsourcing can be used for any purpose a business needs.

Sony used crowdsourcing to get people from untapped audiences the chance to think of new ways to tackle the sustainability challenges we face. This started in September of 2010 when Sony set up an online open forum. PepsiCo also dabbled in crowdsourcing last year when they created their Refresh Project campaign. They asked for customer’s favorite ideas for community involvement and they would fund the ideas that got the most votes. Mob4Hire is one of the world’s largest mobile research and testing companies and they used crowdsourcing to test products.

Crowdsourcing connects businesses with their consumers and produces collaboration. It gives businesses the chance to hear what a group of people have to say to get more feedback and opinions.

To Tweet or Not to Tweet

I will admit that I finally signed up for Twitter a week ago, so I am a few years behind. I didn’t really understand the importance of Twitter until I hopped on the bandwagon. I was confused by all the hash marks and other symbols, that I didn’t recognize how powerful Twitter is as a business and marketing tool. Using 140 characters or less, Twitter can help any business promote and share its marketing efforts to a vast amount of people. Since Twitter is one of the largest social media outlets in the world, it has also become a new form of communication. Twitter is used to share content. Businesses want to share content to attract potential customers. So here’s a crazy idea: businesses can share their content on Twitter to attract customers to their company.

Twitter may seem confusing at first, but it is actually easy to use and provides many benefits to businesses.

Here are some of the benefits Twitter can bring to businesses:

  • Free and easy to set up
  • Can impact search rankings
  • Drive traffic to your business website
  • Can be used check competitors accounts to see what they are sharing and who they are following
  • Target the people you want to target in relation to your business
  • Twitter search allows you to follow relevant conversations, trends, and people
  • Hear feedback about your business from the content you share and conversations you start

Those are just a few benefits Twitter provides for businesses and marketers. Twitter also allows you to unleash your creative side. You can customize your profile, add a picture, and create a descriptive bio. Creativity combined with interesting and knowledgeable tweets will allow any business to be successful on Twitter. So the question is: to tweet or not to tweet? I will let you decide.

Kung Fu and QR Codes

 

QR codes (quick response) are those black and white symbols that can be found on all types of packaging, print ads, and billboards. These codes provide a wealth of information such as text, websites, and other data that is embedded and decoded with a mobile device. All this mobile device needs is a camera and the down-loadable app and the information is unleashed. Usually QR codes are embedded with some type of promotional tool such as a contest, special offer, or an unique website. It is a great way for marketers to engage and attract consumers. These codes are designed to invite customers to participate, discover, share, save, and interact with brands.

Sun-Maid, the famous raisin brand, is utilizing QR codes to promote the animated movie by DreamWorks, Kung Fu Panda 2. Sun-maid has put these codes on their packaging to take customers to a special website where they have a chance to win a trip to Zoo Atlanta. Since entering the contest is as simple as having a mobile device, Sun-Maid hopes the number of entries will be high. They have also used Facebook to promote this contest as well. Sun-Maid brand designed their packaging with these QR codes in hope the special contest will entice consumers to buy their raisins. The packaging design also gets consumers engaged in the Sun-Maid brand as well as provides consumers a way to interact with the brand.

Going Back in Time With Retro Packaging

Packaging design is a critical decision making criteria for consumers. The first sense we use when we shop is our sight, which means we see packaging before we see the actual product. Marketers need to make sure packaging is appealing so it will entice consumers to make a choice and purchase. A new trend in packaging is going back in time and creating a retro look and feel. Retro packaging design adds a dash of nostalgia and curiosity. Below are three products that have embraced the retro trend and used the idea in their packaging design.

Doritos wanted to relaunch their taco flavor chips so they decided to reintroduce them in the original 1960s packaging. Consumers have made comments online about how much they miss the taco flavor. So Doritos listened to those people and brought the taco flavor and its retro packaging back to life. They also announced that the taco flavor will remain in the permanent product line-up.

When the very first washing machine was invented, Tide was a choice for detergent. Today Tide is still a choice for getting clothes clean. Tide wants consumers to enjoy their retro packaging, hoping it will bring some past memories back to life. Tide has been a trusted brand for over 50 years, and its retro packaging showcases how this brand has grown. The retro and vintage look of Tide’s limited edition packaging shows how it looked years ago, but has the same performance qualities we know today.

Celebrity Apprentice finalists meet 7UP as they designed retro packaging for their final task on the show. The retro look for 7UP displays the brand’s legacy from the 1970s and the 1980s. The retro designs showcase how 7UP is “The Uncola” with its crisp lemon-lime taste. It has been a great tasting brand for over 80 years, and the retro packaging lets consumers know how much it has evolved and stayed true to its roots.

Retro packaging is a creative way to bring nostalgia and uniqueness to packaging. It gives consumers a chance to see how packaging has evolved and grown. For others, it takes them back to when they got their first washing machine and used Tide to clean their clothes, or when they drank 7UP at a family picnic, or when they ate Taco Flavored Doritos when listening to the radio. Retro packaging lets consumers get involved with the packaging and product, giving them a chance to experience something vintage.

Green Consumerism

Consumerism is a movement that seeks to protect and inform consumers by requiring practices like packaging, advertising, product guarantees, and safety standards. In theory it is also the outcome of producing greater consumption of goods for the benefit of the economy. Since we have become a society that is concerned with the state of our environment, consumerism has become eco-friendly. Green consumerism is a new movement that is concerned about products and services that are considered ethically made. This means with minimal harm to or exploitation of humans, animals, and/or the natural environment.

Green consumerism is interesting in that it focuses on us buying green products. Well how beneficial are green products to the environment if we don’t use them properly. An article written by Jacquie Ottman titled “The Next Frontier in Green Marketing is Responsible Consumption” pinpoints this issue spot on.  The article provides an example: how is an eco-friendly light bulb eco-friendly if the light remains on after everyone leaves the room? They contradict each other. We may feel good about doing our part if we buy green products, but we need to focus more on the behaviors we conduct when we use them. It defeats the purpose of buying green if we are not using the products in an eco-friendly manner.

Going green is based on behavior. If we want to be buy eco-friendly products we must learn green behaviors. If we look at this issue from a business perspective, marketers of green products should focus on adding value for consumers and providing them with the needed knowledge of how to use the product. Buying green products and using them properly is how we will help save our planet. Green consumerism is on the rise and more consumers feel they have a personal responsibility to do their part to help the earth.

Social Media Addiction One Year Later

If you read our blog post from May 5th, 2010, we shared a study conducted by University of Maryland’s International Center for Media & the Public Agenda. This study featured 200 students who had to live 24 hours without social media. This meant no access to Twitter, Facebook, email, and even texting. The students in this study wrote blogs about their experience without social media and lets just say it was a traumatic challenge.

Now a year later a new study is released that went global this time. They asked 1,000 students from the United States, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and Asia to abstain from social media for 24 hours They were asked to report on any successes and failures during the experience.

Highlights of the study were interesting. Students actually used the word addiction when asked about their social media usage. Some reported that they felt depressed, lonely, and even shaky without having a social media connection. They also reported that they felt like they lost apart of themselves without social media. This led to confusion and a sense of loss. It wasn’t just access to social media these students lost for a day, they also lost email, music, news, and entertainment. So not only is social media how we stay connected with others and the world, but it is also a way of life. Social media is how people manage their lives and how they communicate.

Although this study shows that a year later we are still addicted to social media, it also helped students realize their dependence. As we are becoming a society that uses social media in our everyday lives, businesses should put their own perspective on the matter.  Marketers and advertisers should harness the benefits of social media for their business. This study should help businesses learn how to use social media and understand how consumers use it. Marketers and advertisers will be at full advantage if they can figure out how to use social media to better their business and attract new customers. Social media has so many facets to choose from, giving businesses the chance to experiment and find what works and what does not.

How Social Media Can Help Your Business

Millions upon millions of people have created their own presence via social media. It isn’t just a place for individuals to keep in touch with family and friends, it has also grown into an extraordinary marketing tool that businesses should take advantage of. Facebook and Twitter for example have upwards of 600 million and 400 million users respectively, providing businesses and marketers with a vast platform of people to market to. Marketing is an action businesses need to take to attract consumers to their products or services. Social media marketing is just a new form of  marketing in the new digital age we are living in.

Social media marketing has many benefits for businesses. Here are 4 ways social media marketing can help businesses and marketers.

1. Increase exposure: If social media is just used at its simplest form by just minimally creating a presence and updating it on occasion, you are still creating exposure to your business. Social media marketing allows for your name to be seen. Since millions of people participate in social media, the more you use social media increases your chances for exposure.

2. Increased traffic: Social media marketing allows for traffic to be increased. One benefit of social media is that you can provide links to your website or anything else related to your business. By providing links and information for people, there is a higher probability of creating traffic as your exposure becomes more proficient.

3. Lead Generation: If you think just teens and college students are using social media you are wrong. Businesses all over the world are using social media for marketing. This provides businesses with another way to generate leads and interact with them. Social media networks also provide a wider reach and database of people who could be leads.

4. Advertising: One of the main benefits of social media is that most sites are free. This gives companies the ability to have their name present without spending a dime. The best part of using social media for advertising is that users that know and like you are automatically endorsing you.

Marketing via social media is a great way for businesses to get noticed. It is easy to get started as well as easy to maintain. Social media is changing the way we market businesses, products, and services.

Mobilizing Your Marketing Efforts

Mobile usage has drastically increased in the past few years and its future is looking brighter. In this day and age it seems like everyone owns a mobile device, most not being able to function without one. Mobile devices have become so advanced that they not only are used for calls and texts, but they now have Internet capabilities, cameras, navigation, email, and many more applications, literally making your mobile device smart. Over 4 billion people own a mobile phone, which is predicted to increase by 50% in 2015. Landlines and desktop computers will be a thing of the past in the coming future as new technologies are being invented everyday to make mobile devices better and more advanced. We have grown and been molded into a mobile society making mobile devices the perfect technology for our busy lifestyles.

The vast amounts of people who own a mobile phone gives marketers a wide array of opportunities to develop a mobile marketing plan. Two of the most widely uses of mobile devices are to socialize and surf the web. Social media networks, most popular being Facebook and Twitter, have developed mobile apps to make socializing easier and in the palm of user’s hands.

Marketers have a wealth of potential to attract customers to their brand, products, services, and their company. A mobile marketing campaign has an opportunity to attract a widespread market of people, a market consisting of an upwards of 4 billion people. This gives marketers room to experiment and try a variety of marketing ideas to cater to that group of people, with one major thing in common, they all own a mobile device.

Here are 5 steps to help mold a marketing plan to fit a mobile lifestyle:

1. Prioritize: A mobile marketing plan is something that will take time to develop and implement. Marketers should have goals and a time line set up before starting. This is not something that can be thrown together in one day. A detailed plan should be prepared for a mobile marketing plan.

2. Utilize: There is an extensive amount of information that is available, it just needs to be looked for. Take advantage of the knowledge others provide. A mobile marketing plan will be easier to create when you have information to help you along.

3. Recognize: Be aware of what others have done in the past and the present. If that information is obtainable, it will become a very useful tool to see what other have tried and if it worked or failed.

4. Characterize: A mobile marketing plan should be exciting, creative, and full of energy. If it is boring, no one will pay attention to it. The idea to keep in mind is to give a mobile marketing plan a personality so that users can feel like a company has a soul. Keep in mind that a company that portrays themselves as fun and refreshing will have a better chance of being seen and heard. Also remember that this marketing plan is being catered to a mobile device and if the campaign doesn’t catch the eye of users it will be quickly dismissed.

5. Initialize: After goals have been made, information has been collected, and a plan has been formed, it is now time to put that plan into action. This is the most exciting step because this is when you find out if your hard work and planning will produce results. A plan to track progress should be put into place at this time.