Saturday, June 3, 2017

Millennial Marketing - The Generation Gap

The generational marketing landscape has changed;  unanimous in conversations of marketers at digital summits and recent agency meetings.  All conversations and data lead back to this: Millennials matter.  Many questions remain unanswered. Who are they? How are they communicating? 

If your business is not reaching millennials, you are likely looking at data with annual declining stats.  We spent the last few weeks at digital summits and agency meetings holding client discussions on the topic.  Local businesses, enterprise marketers and agencies are struggling to reach this new demographic of consumers.
Some Numbers on Millennials
Millennial encompass those aged 20-36 in 2017. In fact, Pew Research states that the youngest millennial was born in 1997 and the oldest was born in 1981.
Millennials now number 75.4 million, surpassing the 74.9 million baby boomers (ages 53-71). They are communicating on mobile devices, active on the newest social media platforms and not responding to emails.  If you are building marketing budgets for 2017, read on.
Who are they?
Most research shows that millennials have a strong sense of community both locally and globally. Millennials care about sharing local information; this transpires in the number of reviews and photos they post and the rankings they allot using maps, apps or their mobile devices in that capacity.
Businesses are affected by the content that is ranking online and those engaging customers through review marketing are outranking their competitors in online and mobile search.
Other research has defined these individuals as the influential “me generation” with a sense of entitlement and narcissism.  A 2016 study goes as far as finding that millennials exhibited 18% more narcissism than older adults, with males scoring higher on average than females.  This study defines two types of narcissism: extraverts, characterized by attention seeking and power dominance, and introverts, characterized by an acute sense of self-entitlement and defensiveness.  Call it narcissism perhaps but be mindful that this new group of consumers is flocking to social media and they are more likely to take advice from friends and contacts than they are from any marketing messages they see on television.  

Memo to Marketers
Millennials are holding conversations on social media about your products and services.  You can join the conversation or sit back and watch sales decline.  Social conversations are impacting sales.  Consumers are finding information ranking on Google, maps, apps and within car navigation systems and in turn their buying decisions are made from data originating from social media posts. Why? Because this seemingly entitled group of narcissists have money to buy.  
Millennials have a strong purchasing power and a high desire to make more money than their parents. Snapchat “that”.
The University of Michigan's "Monitoring the Future" study of high school seniors (conducted continuously since 1975) and the American Freshman survey, conducted by UCLA's Higher Education Research Institute of new college students since 1966, showed an increase in the proportion of students who consider wealth a very important attribute, from 45% for Baby Boomers (surveyed between 1967 and 1985) to 70% for Gen Xers, and 75% for Millennials.
According to authors from the Florida International University, original research performed by Howe and Strauss as well as Yu & Miller suggests that baby boomers resonate primarily with loyalty, work ethic, steady career path, and compensation when it comes to their professional lives. Generation X on the other hand, started shifting preferences towards an improved work-life balance with a heightened focus on individualistic advancement, stability, and job satisfaction.
How are Millennials Communicating?
Since their emphasis is on collaboration, most Millennials consider email inefficient and prefer not to receive emails at all.  New collaboration platforms integrated with mobile apps, lower email consumption by over 30%.
The Millennial Generation gravitates to collaboration tools like Google Docs, #Slack, and ZenDesk to enable new goals for work life balance. Gen X coined the phrase. Gen Y realized how to accomplish it in less time.  New collaboration tools provide creative outlets for communication with benefits of immediate feedback.  Augmentation of social media enables the remote worker to collaborate with a team.  
How Do We reach this New Generation of Buyers
A generation gap remains in effect with subpar marketing standards in place perhaps due to a lack of understanding and experience with new technologies, and unrealized trends in consumer behavior.
Consider these stats: Each office worker receives an average of 120 emails daily.  Over 800,000,000 emails are sent every hour in the US.  We might want to rethink marketing strategies that include email marketing to reach millennials, who do not like to use email.
75% of Gmail’s 900M users access their accounts on mobile devices. According to TechCrunch, we need to consider the fact that email marketing campaigns should be optimized for mobile.
Marketers, stop linking to websites with anchor text that reads “Click Here.”  Please stop. No one is clicking. You are 64 times more likely to climb Mount Everest than click on a banner ad.  If we know and understand this reality, why are we still running banner advertising campaigns without defining consumer interests via targeted local interests?
So What is Working?
2017 Marketing plans for Millennial Marketing should include video; that is video online, not necessarily television.
Millennials are responding to video.  Video marketing on YouTube reaches demographics of 18-34 year olds and 18-49 year olds who watch more video online each day than they do on any cable television in the US.
To keep this audience engaged, use humor and stay relevant.  Video is effective in targeting both B2B and B2C markets.  Case and point - Cisco demonstrates creative use of humor in video for B2B Comedy in Content Marketing: The Perfect Gift for Valentine's Day, from Cisco.
Keep up with the times.  Did you know Snapchat passed Twitter in consumer use?  Are you using Snapchat for marketing?  B2B and B2C consumer markets are using the platform.  Bloomberg and Forbes are reporting 150 Snapchat / 136 Twitter active users.  Why?  Because it matters to businesses.  Social media matters to Millennials and in order to keep in front of them, brands must keep up with the times.

Promo, a new platform for video creation, allows users to create original digital content using curated media. Join 100,000 businesses winning with Promo. 

Monday, January 2, 2017

New Year Resolutions of an Entrepreneur

New year resolutions traditions fit the entrepreneurial mold because focus determines reality.  Working on various projects simultaneously - this entrepreneur begins each day making lists and completes a day checking them off.  The list of 2017 Top 10 Resolutions began early this year with a question which remains in effect:  Should this year’s resolutions list include your top 10, a summary of just a few or any number of your choice?  
Why Make New Year Resolutions?
We make promises to ourselves and others with great intentions.  This year, we are making a commitment. This year let’s hold ourselves accountable.  This is not just a slight promise over a glass of champagne- although those can stem from good intentions as well.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the latest neuroscience research suggests that spreading resolutions out over time is the best approach. However, most entrepreneurs would contend that this is 2009 research and that we can get more done these days. After all, we are multitaskers, high achievers; we can press on!
Reflecting on The Past is GoodIn 2016 I celebrated my 50th birthday surrounded by family and friends in New York. I met 75 people from 37 countries. I traveled to review and showcase top hotels, restaurants and destinations of cities visited by US Travelers. I also launched 3 companies, brought on new clients and partners.  I helped bury my father and reunited with family members who impacted my life. I gave back and helped others.  I failed, succeeded, and learned more than I ever have before.
Entrepreneurs: Your Focus Determines Your RealityEvery year, we evaluate a list of financials, utilization rates on staff involvement and costs involved against potential and current upside.  This year we have many options and directions - too many to choose from.  In this case, 2017 resolutions will include a decision to focus - to bring a few very high potential projects to fruition.  
Last year, I resolved to give back, be happier and spend more time with family.  I spoke at my alma mater - spending a few days with over 800 students, went on more family trips and commissioned artwork… all of which make me very happy.  
Failure? Too many projects.  The business took on too much too quickly, spreading my time and focus too thin.  I found myself waking up every day at 4 AM naturally without an alarm clock.  Some would find that commendable, although most found it to be crazy.  I would have to agree with the latter and cannot buy into the fact that the older you get, the earlier you awake.  
2017 New Year Resolutions of This Entrepreneur
Top 10 - In no related order.
  • Spend time with family: immediate family, and extended family reunited.
  • Make a difference in a new person’s life each month.
  • Meet 100 people from 30 countries.
  • Grow company margin : more employees does not equal more margin.
  • Invest in best interests.  Gain interest from work.
  • Create new artwork every week : new works, no molds of past projects.
  • Travel to new places.
  • Showcase local businesses.
  • Go to Barre Class every week.  No exceptions!
Be happy with the here and now.  Laugh more.
The Summary
Mind - Focus.  Create something every day.
Body - Bring health goals to fruition.
Stay Spirited.  Laugh More.

Focus on HappinessTo summarize the top list 2017 resolutions, mind, body and spirit should prevail.  Happiness should matter most.  What makes me happy improves the mind, body and serves spirit.  2016 brought many truths to this equation.  2017 has great potential to reach new heights, with focus.
The Origins of New Year’s Resolutions:  The Odds Matter.At the end of the Great Depression, about a quarter of American adults formed New Year's resolutions. At the start of the 21st century, about 40% did.[1] In fact, according to the American Medical Association [(AMA)], approximately 40% to 50% of Americans participate in the New Year's resolution tradition from the 1995 Epcot and 1985 Gallop Polls [2] It should also be noted that 46% of those who endeavor to make common resolutions (e.g. weight loss, exercise programs, quitting smoking) were over 10-times more likely to have a rate of success as compared to only 4% who chose not to make resolutions. [3]

Saturday, December 31, 2016

E-Commerce Holiday Stats in a Nutshell

As mentioned in previous articles, the Holidays is a great time of year to connect with your existing clientele base and grow it. The right holiday campaign will either lead to a repeat purchase or introduce your brand to a new customer. If you’re not convinced yet, here are compiled stats about digital holiday retail data collected online that will blow your mind.

How are your Customers Behaving Now?
  • In 2015, 40% of holiday shopping occurred online.
  • 78% of shoppers used Internet for holiday research in 2015.
  • The most popular time to buy online is weekdays from 12-2pm and on Sunday evenings.
  • 41% of online shoppers purchased from a new retailer around the holidays.

Is your Competition Going Digital?

  • 1 out of 3 retailers allow 30-50% of their total online marketing effort to the holiday season.
  • U.S. retail e-commerce grows between 15.3% to 16.6.% every year.
  • 86% of retailers are expecting their online holiday sales to increase in 2016.
  • 38% of marketers do not use personalized communication (such as e-mail) in their holiday campaign.
  • 49% of E-commerce retailers will have launched or at least designed a holiday campaign before Halloween.
  • Only ⅓ of marketers don’t increase their social media spending in Q4 (Sep-Dec).

Are your Consumers Using Their Phones in Your Store?

  • 49% of shoppers view products in person first to find them online for a cheaper afterwards.
  • 22% of customers research your products on their smartphone while being in your store.
  • 27% of customers read online peer reviews while shopping at a store.
  • People who shop both online and in person appear to spend 66% more than those who only shop in person.
  • Shoppers that use more than one channel (online and in person) show a 30% higher lifetime value to your brand.

As you can see, consumer trends are changing and your business needs to move where you can reach your current and potential new customers. A well planned holiday marketing campaign will drive success and increased brand loyalty and awareness if executed well.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

How Brands Are Embracing Social Media Advertising

The advent of Web 3.0 and Social Media has forced the advertising world to move to digital platforms. The international proliferation of social media usage has moved brands to social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ - YouTube and Instagram to advertise. If brands did not fully understand how to maximize their presence on those outlets before, they now have a full understanding of how to capitalize on digital impressions via social media.

Times have changed. Television and print advertising can only reach a portion of your audience. Brands need to connect with consumers where consumers already are, and they are on their smartphones or tablets. In the past, brands were only able to engage in one-way communication. They would be talking at consumers rather than conversing with them. Now, brands can engage in multi-directional communication. Not only can brands directly interact with consumers and get instant feedback on their content, but consumers can pass on their content to other users via social media.
Consumers are leading brand conversation in social media.  And brands are listening.  The chain of communication is no longer led by the brand.  The days of broadcast promotion are over.  The chain of communication is linked It is going from brands to consumers, consumers to consumers, and back to the brands which are engaged in the social media conversation. This kind of communication would never been thought possible twenty years ago, but it has since prevailed and now stands as a means to collect immediate feedback from consumers and therefore co-create brand value.

Another way to get attention from your audience is done through the proper use of hashtags. The outdoor gear brand Poler Stuff is now famous for their notorious hashtags including #campvibes. The brand now has 419,000 followers on Instagram.
Online Shopping Using Social Media
The female clothing brand Made Well decided to optimize their Instagram account so that consumers are able to shop, while browsing through their posts. The brand decided to tag items on their pictures and the tags redirect consumers to their online store where they can go ahead and put in an order of the item they liked on Instagram.
Another way that brands use social media to encounter a large following is done through storytelling. A lot of content creation experts such as the HubSpot Academy or Hootsuite will argue that brands do not want to follow a brand; they want to follow a story.
A lot of fitness professionals have become Instagram famous simply by posting interesting storytelling with proper hashtags and cross-promotion.
An example of this is Brock O’Hurn, a personal trainer from Florida who became famous by posting videos of himself tying up his hair in a bun. The trainer now has an international following of 1.9 million people and has relocated to Los Angeles to become a full-time brand ambassador and model. He is used by many brands including Ebb & Flow jewelry to feature their products on his Instagram page.
Oftentimes, those Instagram sensations cross-promote themselves in hope to capture some of their friends’ following. They do that on a regular basis and usually return the favor to those who have promoted them on their page.
Those Instagram sensations share their life story with their audience, from what they eat for breakfast to what they do at the gym. Their followers live vicariously through them and find their lifestyles aspirational.
In the same fashion, consumers aspire to become Internet famous as well. A good example is Austin local photographer Zilker Bark. The photographer became famous by creating an Instagram profile on which he features short clips and pictures of dogs that he meets at Austin’s Zilker Park. The Zilker Bark Instagram account now has 41,600 followers and redirects to the photographer’s website where you can contract his services. The idea is to provide free entertaining content that also features his work in order to reach a huge potential audience: people who like cute dogs.
Co-Creating Value
Another example is the Loews Hotels’ "The Room You Need" campaign, which featured real-life images of guest experiences, compensating them for their contribution. In order to do so, the hotel chain reviewed more than 50,000 pictures posted on social media using the Loews Hotels hashtags and location tags. This was an attempt to market their brand for what it is; according to them, no one can be a better endorser for their brand than consumers themselves. Thus, using real guests’ pictures show that they are not using tricks or photoshopped shots to promote their locations but real-life experiences captured on social media.

Product Placement in YouTube videos
In 2014, 180LA took on an interesting project when they decided to use pop singer Meghan Trainor’s music video to promote HP. In order to do so and to ensure that the video would reach a wide audience, the agency decided to feature international online sensations in the music video such as vloggers (bloggers who post videos rather than blog entries) that already have existing followings. By doing this, they were able to reach audiences around the world. Since online personalities are more affordable than traditional celebrities, and these online celebrities’ followers are spread across the globe, it proved to be cost-efficient and highly effective.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

How Consumer Reviews Are Affecting Local Businesses

Forget the paper map, the local phone directory or coupon book found at the highway rest area. Consumers have smartphones now and they can find anything they want by simply typing a few keywords.
By using platforms such as Yelp or Google Maps, not only can consumers locate local businesses, but they can also read about previous consumers’ experiences and contribute their own.
This week is National Small Business Week. What does review management mean for local businesses? Should businesses pay attention to what is said about them online? Is any publicity good publicity?

Google Maps
Google Maps provides a great platform for consumers. They have the ability to rank businesses out of 5 stars, add pictures and personal comments.
Good rankings on Google Maps are crucial as they are automatically linked to search results on Google. Therefore, as soon as a business is googled, not only is the address and phone number made available but also consumer reviews and user picture contributions.
Now that brands can engage in two way conversation with brands, local businesses can directly interact with consumers and get instant feedback on their products and services. On their end, consumers can pass on their content to other users via social media or share their reviews with their friends.
Bearing this in mind, Google provides businesses with the possibility of replying to reviews. This way, businesses have a chance to acknowledge their successes and apologize for their mishaps.

Trip Advisor
Similar to the solutions Google Maps provides but without the navigation component, Trip Advisor is a platform on which consumers can share their experiences. For each city, establishments can be ranked and commented on. On Trip Advisor, businesses are able to claim their business page and have a provided platform to respond to user reviews. The main downside of Trip Advisor is that reviews can stay for a very long time. Therefore, there could have been a wide array of managerial changes about a local business between 2006 and 2016, but very negative reviews from a long time ago can drag down the average ranking of your business. Therefore, being listed on TripAdvisor is an incentive for businesses to prevent negative reviews because once those are posted, they are published for a very long time. The authenticity of Trip Advisor reviews is verified but it is said that businesses can easily incentivize customers to post positive reviews with a reward of some sort like a draw or a gift card.
Yelp is similar to Google Maps and Trip Advisor, also featuring a street view component where you can see local businesses listed with their reviews. The main difference is that fewer reviews get approved and published, as their authenticity verification system is harder to crack. Therefore, businesses would not be able to incentivize customers to post positive reviews for an incentive. This further incentivizes them to take good care of their clientele to avoid negative word-of-mouth.

Society has changed. The Internet has given every consumer the opportunity to voice their opinion and share their experience about local businesses they visit. If local businesses acknowledge this new means of communication and caters to their clientele right, this could lean to more conversions and positive word-of-mouth. If they don’t, negative word-of-mouth can snowball and incur challenging repercussions.