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Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

Corporate Messaging & Customer Feedback Applications

January 7, 2009 3 comments

Over the next week we’ll be launching our new Boston social messaging & customer feedback application called BostonTweet.  This application is powered by Twitter and as you can see from the image below it enables me to ask a question which immediately generates user feedback – all of which is accessible to anyone who visits the website. We’re using the application to generate discussion about local Boston restaurants but it can be applied to any city or any business. The application is designed to generate discussion and feedback about a niche topic.  That topic can be about a corporation, a city,  a product or an interest – whatever the focus it all stimulates interaction & discussion that you control.  By keeping customers discussing your brand you’re keeping them informed of your product and therefore marketing it to them in an unobtrusive way.  Marketing that is spread via word of mouth and recommendations – a far more effective and affordable form of advertising.

Powered by Twitter

Integrated with Twitter these applications enable users to instantly communicate with their followers, customers and clients.  Followers can be informed via the web and cell phone – both of which you can post from. From your cell phone you can broadcast a question to your followers from wherever you are and on whatever captures your attention at that exact moment. Your post is instantly posted to the application which then creates a unique URL for that post and the responses to it.

Feedback is essential for business – integrated with Twitter these applications bring customer feedback instantly to you, all of which is organized and searchable on your website.  Via our user friendly admin panel, posts & replies can be categorized, organized and/or deleted based on a case by case basis.  Asking your customers to speak their voice creates valuable customer feedback – essential for efficiency, product improvement and public relations.

All of the information that you and your followers post is indexed on your website for users to read, reply to and search for both via the website and on Google. Our custom corporate messaging application is beneficial for any business that wants to communicate with their customers – so basically that includes any business who wants to make money.   

To learn more please contact Tom O’Keefe at tom[at]tokibiz[dot]net or 617-947-8071.

Twitter Customer Feedback Application

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Social Messaging? Blogs? Facebook? Twitter!

December 16, 2008 Leave a comment

Over the last couple of months, to the neglect of this blog, I’ve become quite addicted to Twitter. Like I originally did with blogs, I cursed Twitter because I didn’t see the point of it. Well I must admit that I regret not getting on Twitter sooner.

As I eventually learned a blog is an essential business tool and one that generates all my business, well that was until Twitter. Twitter is a social messaging/notification service that allows you to text updates on what you’re doing right now. You know that one little status section of Facebook that asks you what you’re doing right now? That’s Twitter and it’s phenomenal. Twitter only allows you to send 140 characters at a time but it’s amazing how much information you can learn from brevity. 

In my opinion Twitter has become the best tool for networking with people, connecting with information, marketing and most importantly getting people to talk about whatever topic you’re talking about. These days I have two Twitter accounts. My business is @TOKiBiz and the one I’m most amazed by is @BostonTweet.

@BostonTweet, in conjunction with BostonTweet.com, broadcasts real time Twitter updates about what’s happening right now at Boston restaurants, bars and music venues. @BostonTweet is very focused on local Boston business, which  makes people passionate about voicing their Boston restaurant recommendations. What Twitter does, that blogs and Facebook don’t do (or at least as well), is to get people to think about topics and contribute to the discussion in real time. What amazes me about BostonTweet is people are very passionate about their favorite local people, places and things – I know I am! So when you pose a question about what’s your favorite Thai Food restaurant we all immediately chime in with our vote. This puts the restaurant fresh on our mind and for me makes me want to visit that establishment ASAP. I know I’ve already visited a few new spots based on these recommendations and I’m sure (out of 550 followers) I’m not the only one  – businesses need to get in on the Tweet! I’m definitely going to J. Pace & Son in the North End very soon!!

In my opinion Twitter has become more valuable for business than blogs and Facebook. Blogs are terrific for when you want to be verbose on a topic that you’re passionate about but blogs can no longer beat the immediate influence that Twitter has. Maybe it’s that we can no longer process anything more than 140 characters or 30 seconds of video but those are the influencers and if business wants to survive then they need to embrace that. My buddy at EaT in Portland, Oregon just yesterday asked me if he should spend money on having a website for his new restaurant. I said no way! Create a blog, register with Twitter, and then send updates from your cell phone (while at the restaurant) about what’s happening RIGHT NOW at EaT. With a simple line of code you can notify your followers and update your blog & website with fresh content that will immediately be indexed on the search engines. Your typical portfolio, online brochure website is no longer effective in generating business for offline companies. Sure it’s nice to have an online menu but in most cases it’s not going to generate new business and it’s definitely not going to get people talking. Twitter can!

If you’re an offline business (restaurant, bar, cafe, shop) then you know that word of mouth is your most valuable form of marketing – recommendations from loyal customers. This is what Twitter does for your business and you need to get on board to get people talking and thinking about your business. Blogs and websites are you talking to your customers, which is of course important, but Twitter gets your customers talking. 

As for Facebook I use to think that it was good for marketing but I no longer believe that to be true. Facebook is phenomenal for connecting with former classmates and I owe Mark Zuckerberg a lot of thanks for connecting me with my former St. Martin de Porres (Poughkeepsie, NY) classmates – I don’t know how Classmates.com is still in business. However, as a marketing & networking tool Facebook isn’t as effective as Twitter. In my opinion Facebook’s revenues (or lack of) prove that. Of course Twitter is also trying to figure out their revenue model, maybe someday it will be a necessary utility like the telephone, but in the simplest terms Twitter is an advertising model in itself. Not in the form of banners but in the form of valuable information that’s not clogged with a bunch of spam and excessive text. If you don’t like what someone’s dishing then you just un-follow that person – problem solved. Wouldn’t it be nice if email was like this?

Internet Marketing in a Bad Economy or Even Worse a Recession?

November 15, 2008 1 comment

Internet marketing is more measurable, accountable, faster and viral than traditional advertising. While both forms of advertising might see dips during this economic slowdown it’s likely that traditional (print, TV, radio) advertising will see the biggest decline due to the uncertainty of their results. Internet advertising can be measured immediately via web analytics giving you instant feedback on the success or failure of your advertising dollars. 

Most corporations have not embraced online marketing & social media tools to effectively market their brand. With advertising and public relations (PR) budgets being cut, executives need to utilize the cost effective tools of social media, blogs and online marketing. To cut costs executives have to take an active role in the communication between them and their clients. All of this can be done affordable, but it takes active participation.

My advice – Don’t waste your money on expensive search engine optimization campaigns. SEO firms charge exorbitant fees (however likely to decline in the current market) and they can’t guarantee any results. No SEO firm can promise you the number one spot because they’re not Google and if they were it’s all based o Google’s algorithum. You can accomplish the same results that an SEO firm would do by utilizing online media to your advantage. Also unless you’re in the top 5 of the first page (for a popular keyword) you’re not going to see any significant amount of traffic. 

Now is the time to embrace the web more than ever and now is the time for corporations to take a direct and active role in their online marketing.

Small Business Podcast

November 1, 2008 Leave a comment

For those of you who can’t get enough of podcasts (and intelligent internet insight), Rick Breslin of Drive Thru Interactive hosts the Small Business Internet Marketing Podcast.  

Recent topics include:  “Google Paid Search Clicks Are Down – Why?”, “Web 2.0 for Small Business – Does it work?”, “Local Search Engine Marketing” and “How Much Is Your Web Site Worth?” which can be seen below.  

For the list of podcasts please visit

http://www.drivethru.us.com/small-business-podcast

 

Google Adsense & the Economic Turmoil

October 30, 2008 3 comments

The marketing department is always one of the first departments to feel the heat during an economic downturn. With marketing budgets (and employees) likely getting cut, online advertising platforms like Google Adwords will see a decline in revenues. A decrease in Adwords will result in a decrease in Google Adsense earnings for website publishers. In response to this uncertainty Google Adsense just sent out the following email to all publishers.  

Dear Publisher,

We understand that the recent economic turmoil has created a lot of uncertainty in the lives of AdSense publishers. During these difficult times, we’re continuing to invest in innovations that improve publisher monetization and advertiser value in the content network.

We’re focusing on further developing our product offerings and boosting ad performance for publishers. We recently announced advancements in AdSense for search and experiments to make ads more effective. We’re bringing DoubleClick technologies to AdSense publishers, and we’ll continue to launch new products and features. We’re also continuing to improve our offerings for AdWords advertisers, making it easier for them to target the Google content network. Features for advertisers, such as the new display ad builder, are designed to improve ad performance on AdSense publisher sites.

We’ll keep driving technological progress, but our best asset will always be our publisher partners. The strength of AdSense lies in the value of the content you bring to users and the quality of the sites you bring to advertisers. Our success is tied to yours. We look forward to partnering with you for the long term, and remain dedicated to helping you succeed.

Sincerely,

Web Design: Form vs. Function, the battle continues…….

July 7, 2008 Leave a comment

Paul Yeaton is a freelance designer who specializes in small business and startup marketing, who can be found at his online home, fortunate13.

I thought I would start this article off by giving you the answer.  The answer is a resounding YES to both.  Both of these aspects are of equal importance. You need to always remember, that your website is a stand-alone marketing device that represents you or your business. And, if you want to push one of the aspects over the other, you will find that you are losing customers on your site, and not gaining or retaining them. Let’s outline the considerations beginning with function.

The function of a website would be anything from the way a website works, to the speed with which it loads, to accessibility for the visually impaired, to its effectiveness of delivering the promised product or service.  So, let’s start by looking at functionality.

A website needs to be available and consistently functioning. Functionality of a website is just that: it functions. I don’t know about you, but, going to a website where I get error 404 messages or long wait times between clicking and receiving the query results give me the urge to move on to another website.  Losing customers has never been easier with the web. A person’s attention span is incredibly reduced when it comes to the web. You need to make an impact with the functionality of your website immediately to draw the user in. The functionality of your site is extremely important way to engage the user and keep them there….therefore selling your product and looking like a pro at what you do.  This builds a level of confidence with the consumer of your product.

Functionality is also about what the visitor is looking for from a website. Is the function of the site to sell books, give information, provide social networks etc…? Think about the core function of your site. Does it work in a manner in which the user will be able to easily navigate and get their desired results? Or does it only make sense to you? Think of a potential user of your website, and how they will view it before going ahead and creating an online application only to find that it is unusable due to confusion and frustration on the user’s end.

So, apparently now, you think that functionality takes the cake, and all one needs to do to have a strong online presence is to have a website that works and is easy to use. Be careful: you do not want to find out the hard way that having a website that works great, but is esthetically weak has been driving customers away.
Think of it in these terms: No matter how well they were engineered, if Porsches looked like 1988 Ford Escorts, Porsche would not get $50k for their vehicles.

Form needs to communicate your brand, product, or service clearly and immediately. The esthetic look of your website is just as important as the way it works. This is your name that is being broadcast to the world, and the thought put into the design of the site previous to going live is extremely important. The design is what shows the personality of who you are as a company and the relevance of your product or service.

Form needs to take into account the type of customer that would visit the site or that you’re trying to reach. You need to know who you are marketing your online product or service to, and gear the design towards them. You will find that content styled to the demographic that would find your product or service appealing is much more effective than trying to please everyone.  How you might ask? You need to know your customer. Learn what their average age is, their gender, their location, their interests, etc. Your design needs to speak to them.

Form needs to be clean, meaning matching the functionality of the site so that users can find what they are looking for. Form includes images, fonts, and colors that keep the “brand” or feel of the company intact. For example, the Apple site markets to the young and innovative, creative demographic. Apple’s online presence does nothing less than strengthen their brand, which is built around simplicity, innovation and ease of use. Their website is clean, and easy to navigate and keeps the customer engaged.

All of this is really about something called “usability”. Usability is the cross-breeding of form and function. Function works on its own yes, and a well-designed site works on its own too. But, the two need to work together for an effective user experience and to close the deal. No one is going to spend their hard earned money on a product or service that they feel cannot be trusted. Trust comes from both form and function. Would you drop down your credit card information on a site that looks like it was designed by a 6 year old or a site that frustrated you with its difficult navigation or slow loading time? Take the time and money to make both form and function work for you, and you will find you have a website that delivers your product or service to a happy customer, visually communicates your brand message clearly, and builds repeat user and word of mouth marketing.

Paul Yeaton is a freelance designer who specializes in small business and startup marketing, who can be found at his online home, fortunate13.

Viral Video Marketing

June 22, 2008 2 comments

Even though YouTube’s revenues are still relatively low, a lot of its users are finding success.

Just two days ago the latest Where the Hell is Matt video was posted to YouTube and it already has 1.2 million views – a dozen of those belong to me. What makes this video unique is not just its very uplifting message but also that it was supported by a corporate sponsor, Stride Gum. Stride Gum payed Matt to travel the world and perform his quirky dance in front of some of the most famous places on earth. For Matt this is an opportunity of a lifetime, for Stride Gum it’s an inexpensive marketing opportunity.

Since most people (and corporations) have no idea what makes a video viral it’s easier and less expensive for corporations to sponsor someone like Matt who already has a huge following. Instead of producing and financing their own video (which will likely be a flop) corporations can just lay down some cash for a “sure thing”.

Over time you’ll likely see more sponsorships of viral video producers and you’ll even see product placements within those videos. For corporations this is a much cheaper alternative to advertising on television, as long as it’s not obvious. For unlike television, marketing on YouTube cannot be an obvious advertisement or else the viewer will move on to the next video.

Who knows? Maybe the YouTube video producers will be the ones who pull in the revenues, instead of Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG).