Sunday, 27 January 2013

Are Travel Postcards now Passé?

has social media killed the postcard business
When was the last time you sent a travel postcard?
In this digital age of email, mobile and social connections, do you still send travel postcards to friends and family, while on a holiday? Or do you go snap snap with your phone and post to Facebook, connecting instantly with friends and family.

A survey conducted by O2 Travel in 2012, showed that over half of the people on a holiday in Britain have never sent a traditional travel postcard. I would have assumed these statistics would have been much higher given the internet & mobile pentration across the world. Unfortunately, there are no statistics available (or atleast I am unable to find them via google) of how many postcards were actually sent via the postal system in 2012 vs a decade back.

When was the last time you received a postcard? And when was the last time you sent a travel post card or even bought one as a collectible. Has social media finally rung the death knell for the traditional travel postcards?
Do share your comments..

Monday, 12 November 2012

Out-of-Home Advertising…The times are changing!

You step out of your house and head towards the tube station. Along the way you see a row of billboard advertisements. As you walk into the station, another set of posters invite you to attend a play, or buy the latest night cream. The train arrives and you hop on. Yet, another set of advertisements displayed. You reach your destination; and voila more brands promoting themselves, this time in the form of Digital LED displays.

Video Advertising
Out of home advertising! The advent of a new era
Welcome to the World of Out-of-Home (OOH) advertising.

It’s amazing to see how the OOH advertising industry has transformed from mere billboards to more innovative forms viz video advertising out of home. I recall my first visit to a popular shopping district called ‘lot 10’ in Kuala Lumpur; I was amazed to see a huge three dimensional Digital LED cube used to advertise a new telecom brand instead of the regular rectangular shaped digital screen. And the digital cube was a huge attraction for visitors in that area.

The OOH advertising industry’s innovation in measuring the impact of outdoor ads is now also comparable with other media sources and is another feather under its cap. Instead of DEC (Daily Effective Circulation) which merely measured circulation,  EOI (eyes on impression) is the new measurement system which shares data on the probability of the ad actually being seen, based on demographics, ethnographic reach, frequency, and position of the ad.

But can this new measure help us to attribute direct sales to this medium? Is OOH advertising used more effectively for brand recall or can we, as marketeers, clearly ascertain the value of leads generated through this medium?  Ultimately, isn't ROI our measure of success. 
Digital OOH
What about the effectiveness of digital out-of-home? Stands to reason that, digital OOH is likely to be more effective, given the flexibility to update the message quickly compared to static billboards.

Till such time that the OOH industry comes up with adequate research to show that there is a direct impact on sales, it’s going to be necessary for there to be a clear call to action on any outdoor campaign, whether it’s a QR code that directs viewers to the company facebook or twitter account, or push customers to download a mobile application.

But what would be equally exciting would be to see other innovations from this industry. Perhaps a predictive interactive advertisement which displays messages based on the weather, your mood or the traffic situation. Or better still, a chip in the billboard that interacts with the GPS in your car or your mobile phone and based on your destination displays targeted advertisements. After all the world is becoming more & more intelligent.

Now that would be something interesting to watch out for.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Channel Partners: 4 simple steps to embark on the social media path..

A lot has been written about leveraging the power of social media and using it in business today. Most of the articles while insightful are centered around B2C. This article is focused on advising the B2B channel community on getting started on the social media path. 

I recently attended a training on social media by Profitecture. During the course, there was one statement that stood out  - “Its no more about what you know or who you know that’s important. What you are known for and who know’s you, now that’s what’s important” Replace the word "you" with "your company".  Makes sense? Social media is all about building Social Authority with your target audience.

Marketing StrategySo how does a midsized channel company build social authority with their target audience?

Here are some practical steps for the channel community who are looking at leveraging this powerful medium.

Step 1: Ask yourself the fundamental question, why do I want to use social media?  What’s my objective?
Is it to build an ongoing dialogue with  my target audience or be considered as an expert in my area?

Step 2: How do you do this? Simply put content is the King. It’s all about getting the right message out & showcasing what value your company delivers.

Now given all our busy schedules, the question is; is this solely the job of a marketing manager?  From where do you get content? Here are three  options
a. The biggest asset that any organization has, is its people. Every organization has SME’s. It’s time for you to start leveraging their expertise. Get the  SME’s in your organisation to blog or tweet on their area of expertise. Its a first step towards towards building social authority for your company.

b. Remember, your principal vendor has a lot of content. Retweeting or sharing those with your target audience, or offering expert opinions on your principals new products is another route.

c. Leverage on customer case studies you have built over a period of time.

It’s very important to have a pipeline of content available for the next 1-2 months to keep the traction going.

Step 3: Build an engagement with your target audience. I have seen a lot of companies, who have started on this journey but have not been able to sustain it due to lack of quality content. They start on a facebook page, and when you visit the page there is minimal content, few followers despite having launched this over a year back. So here is the deal – start simple!  

social media, an exciting journey ahead
Social Media: An exciting Journey ahead!
 Twitter is a great way to getting started on this journey. Infact it’s the simplest.  It’s much like SMSing. Requires only 140 characters and links to an external article or your company website for more details. My recommendation,  tweet daily and have a minimum of two tweets a day. Ensure you interact with your followers by asking & responding to questions to keep them engaged. You could also manage and schedule your content posting to twitter by making use of free tools such as hootsuite.

Linkedin is another great platform. Simply join existing groups and atleast once a week post content or offer insights on the group topic or invite the relevant audience for your sales events. It takes off the pressure of managing your own linkedin page till the time you are ready to do the same.

It’s very important to not only sell your product or service. The intent of any social media engagement is to offer content which would be a useful read to your target audience.

Step 4: The most important one. Measure the effectiveness of your social media endeavor. Now how does one do this.  There are lots of free websites which helps you measure how influential you are on various topics, and calculates your followers and retweets. That is a very good way to begin measuring the success in the short term. One such wesbite is Klout, a simple, easy to use tool, that shows you a trend over a 90 day period. Over a period of time as you start engaging with your audience, you will see your Klout score increasing.  This means people are talking about your company.

In the long run, there are other ways to measure the impact of your social media campaign. But that’s a topic for another day.

Social media is a long term engagement strategy. To really enjoy the fruits, you have to keep nurturing the seeds.  When someone else starts talking about you and that multiplies exponentially, imagine the free publicity for your company. Remember, what is important is “what you are known for and who knows you”!

In early 2012, IBM conducted a CMO survey, which stated that 80% of CMO’s plan to use social media as one of their marketing strategies next year. The question that I have for you, are you one of the 80%?

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Going beyond the pages..

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
Photographed at The Jane Austen Centre, Bath, England
Don't all women simply love the quintessential Mr Darcy from Jane Austen' Pride & Prejudice. Every women's imagination of the perfect man... now available in Strawberry, Spearmint & Vanilla flavor..

Marketing of literature & fiction novels is today not just restricted to  paper backs, hardcovers or e-books for kindles. Books that reach the best seller list have become brands in their own right & go beyond just the pages. At the minimum, they get a 2 hour movie associated with them. And if the novel has a strong charcacter like our Mr Darcy from Pride & Prejudice, not only is a men's clothing line set up with the brand name of Mr Darcy but also other curios (as seen above).

But, what lends  a novel to become a 'brand' in itself once it reaches the best seller list. Is it a strong character in the book? Is it the plot ? When should publishers take the story & character out of the book and get it to engage with its audience

As an avid reader, I believe its easier for fantasy based novels that spark our imagination and create an alternate world for us to create an engaging experience with their readers. A classic example is JK Rowlings Harry Potter. Pottermore, is a website developed to keep the series alive and engage with the fans. Not to forget the more popular ones, like Marvel's Spiderman which not only has a 3 part blockbuster movie, but also toy's for kids, games and many many more merchandise sold under the 'Spiderman' brand name. 

Having said that, this doesnt mean that other genres of books cannot create an engaging experience for its readers beyond the book. They just have to get more creative & innovative. And thats where the publisher and marketing guys play a key role! Christian Grey, the billionaire character from Fifty Shades of Grey, the latest book topping the bestseller charts, was voted by over half a million men as the one of the most influential males in 2012. Surprise Surpise. Perhaps the publishers can consider a range of suits for men, and for women, how about a limited edition of Fifty Shades of Make-Up signed by our millionaire friend!

I personally would love to see a theme park made out of  Enid Blyton's Enchanted Woods Series. How about you ?