B2B Marketing News

Should Products and Company Name Be One in the Same?

February 26, 2015 by

Arketi friend, David Cummings, recently wrote a blog post titled Products and Company Name Should be the Same (http://davidcummings.org/2015/02/18/product-and-company-name-should-be-the-same/). In it, he recounted how early on his company, Pardot, decided that their product needed a separate name from their company; however, over time he came to the conclusion that the product and company name should be one and the same.

David, we agree (most of the time) and here is why.

A company should consider branding each product as a strategic investment. The top three goals of brand strategy should be:

  • Increasing customer loyalty,
  • Differentiating the product from the competition, and
  • Establishing market leadership.

Branding architectures try to optimize the customer’s view of the product in relation to the company itself and the other products in the company’s portfolio. The product may be branded as a stand-alone product, associated with other products, or simply associated with the company as a whole.

Branding in service markets is made difficult because of the intangible nature of services. A key differentiator can be to emphasize the people of the company that distinguishes the service from the competition.

Technology companies often have short product life cycles and complex products. Branding individual products that may have short useful lives is costly. Here, the company brand can have a major impact on the customer.

Business customers have complex purchasing processes. A company with a strong brand has a better chance of making the short-list of vendors when a company considers a major purchase.

What we currently see happening in the marketplace, which is also supported by academic research, is a move away from branding new products as stand-alone brands. Instead, the idea of an overall company brand or an umbrella brand over the product line or business units is preferred.

What are your thoughts when it comes to aligning products and company name?

Young pros must STOP

February 24, 2015 by

Since being a college sophomore, networking and seeking out advice from PR pros has come naturally to me. Today as a young professional, reaching out for suggestions and assistance from more seasoned industry leaders and resources is still something I’m comfortable with.

As a desire to learn more about and grow within the PR industry, I enjoy reading up on industry trends and professional development articles. A few days ago I read an article on PR Daily, a resource I’m learning from, about things young PR pros need to stop doing and thought it was on-point. After reading the 10 points the article outlines, two really hit home.

The article references that young professionals tend not to speak up and that they also accept existing processes. In not speaking up, you may be withholding the next brilliant client campaign that everyone loves. You would hurt your company and your client by not mentioning your idea.

By not accepting existing processes, you could have a more small-scale impact. If you have an idea that would improve your organization, why wouldn’t you vocalize it? It’s very possible others haven’t thought of executing a task the way you have.

To take the PR Daily article a step further, I thought some of the points could translate to how Arketi operates. From my time here, I’ve learned all employees are encouraged to be comfortable and start doing. Arketians very much believe that it’s important to go outside of your comfort zone and take challenges by the horns. When you’re challenging yourself, everyone can win.

I recommend young professionals just start doing. If you’re going outside of your comfort zone, you are learning new things and growing. Don’t worry about making mistakes, a mistake can become your biggest learning opportunity. Of the mistakes I’ve made, each has taught me something about myself or a situation that I have since done differently.

So, young pros, how do you feel about the 10 things article? Do you think anything is missing?

For the more seasoned professionals, what things do you see young pros doing that they need to stop immediately?

Feel free to share your thoughts below.

MODX : Using getCollection or “Getting stuff fast, really fast.”

February 17, 2015 by

The more I learn about MODX and coding in general, the clearer it becomes that there are so many ways of doing the same thing. As the Vorlons from Babylon 5 say, “Truth is a three edged sword. Your side, my side and the truth.” I think with doing any sort of coding that sword has somewhere upwards of several thousand edges.

Lately, I’ve been working on increasing speed and building faster ways of doing the same thing. While a lot of MODX veterans or experienced PHP coders will have done this in the past, hopefully this will give those learning beyond the basic concepts a jump-start in building their own custom Snippets.

Lets say you want to build a set of press releases for your site. You have an overview page, and maybe you have them all listed underneath the overview page in the document tree or you’ve installed the awesome “Collections” tool to keep them organized. (Check back here! We’re going to be talking about the Collections tool soon!)

On your overview page you’ve placed a getResources snippet like this:

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[[getResources?
    &parents=`53`
    &tpl=`tplPressReleaseLine`
    &limit=`0`
    &sortby=`publishedon`
    &sortdir=`DESC`
]]

With your tplPressReleaseLine chunk looking something like this:

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<h3>[[+longtitle:notempty=`[[+longtitle]]`:default=`[[+pagetitle]]`]] - [[+publishedon:strtotime:date=`%A, %B %e, %Y`]]</h3>
<p>[[+introtext:notempty=`[[+introtext]]&nbsp;`]]<a href="[[~[[+id]]]" class="readMore">Read More</a><p>

Here is an alternate way of doing things that is extremely fast, and contains everything inside a single snippet.

getCollection is a MODX function that allows you to get an array of objects meeting whatever criteria you set down. Once you have your array you can manipulate it however you see fit.

We are going to use MODX’s getCollection to grab everything we need and walk the data back through a foreach loop, outputting our press releases.

First lets look at the completed snippet, “buildPressReleases”, before breaking it down.

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<?php
//clear the output
$output = '';

//the Parent ID of where your press releases are
$ids = $modx->getChildIds(53);

//Start defining your criteria
$criteria = $modx->newQuery('modResource');
$criteria->where(array(
    'id:IN' => $ids,
    'published' => '1',
    'template' => '7'
));

$criteria->sortby('publishedon', 'DESC');

//Get your array of objects using getCollection
$pressReleases = $modx->getCollection('modResource', $criteria);

//Now walk through the array
foreach ($pressReleases as $pressRelease) {
   
    //check to see if we have a longtitle
    $title = $pressRelease->get('longtitle');
    if (empty($title)) {
        $title = $pressRelease->get('pagetitle');
    }
   
    //Make our date pretty
    $date       = strtotime($pressRelease->get('publishedon'));
    $prettydate = date('F j, Y', $date);
   
    //See if the introtext is blank and add a nonbreaking space
    $introtext = $pressRelease->get('introtext');
    if (!empty($introtext)) {
        $introtext = $introtext . '&nbsp;';
    }
   
    //put the pieces all in place, including the link
    $output .= '<h3>' . $title . ' - ' . $prettydate . '</h3>
    <p>'
. $introtext . '<a href="' . $pressRelease->get('uri') . '" class="readMore">Read&nbsp;More</a><p>';
}

return $output;

It is fast and elegant. So lets look at each step of the process to understand what happens.

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//clear the output
$output = '';

//the Parent ID of where your press releases are
$ids = $modx->getChildIds(53);

This ensures we have a clean and empty output before using getChildIds. As it is written here, it will get an array of IDs that reside under document number 53. As there are no conditions, it will grab everything no matter how deep it is in the the document tree. There is no sorting done here.

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//Start defining your criteria
$criteria = $modx->newQuery('modResource');

$criteria->where(array(
    'id:IN' => $ids,
    'published' => '1',
    'template' => '7'
));

$criteria->sortby('publishedon', 'DESC');

//Get your array of objects using getCollection
$pressReleases = $modx->getCollection('modResource', $criteria);

This is where we get what we want! However, there are still a few things we need to do. First, set up a new query in the $criteria. Next we are going to ad a few conditions into it. We only want our array to have objects that meet three conditions:

  • The id is IN our array we have in the previous step.
  • That the document is published
  • Finally that it is using template number 7, The template for a press release

Finally, we want all this sorted by the “published on” date in descending order. This will show the most recent first. Once our criteria is set up we do the getCollection call. It is important to remember that what we have now is an array of objects sorted by the criteria we set up. If you need to turn it into a regular array, you will need to use the “toArray()” command on each object.

An important word of caution here, if you need your query to exclude things like deleted, hidden from menu or other parameters you have to tell it. This way will grab everything meeting your parameters, ignoring the rest.

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foreach ($pressReleases as $pressRelease) {
   
    //check to see if we have a longtitle
    $title = $pressRelease->get('longtitle');
    if (empty($title)) {
        $title = $pressRelease->get('pagetitle');
    }
   
    //Make our date pretty
    $date       = strtotime($pressRelease->get('publishedon'));
    $prettydate = date('F j, Y', $date);
   
    //See if the introtext is blank and add a nonbreaking space
    $introtext = $pressRelease->get('introtext');
    if (!empty($introtext)) {
        $introtext = $introtext . '&nbsp;';
    }
   
    //put the pieces all in place, including the link
    $output .= '<h3>' . $title . ' - ' . $prettydate . '</h3>
    <p>'
. $introtext . '<a href="' . $pressRelease->get('uri') . '" class="readMore">Read&nbsp;More</a><p>';
}
return $output;

This is where we walk through the array. It uses some basic PHP.

As a practice, we use the longtitle field as the headline of the page or a longer more SEO friendly title. The pagetitle field is  used  primarily in the manager to make clear what the page is. But it is important to always have a fallback just in case the longtitle is not set for some reason. That is what we check first. We get the longtitle from the object. If that is empty, then we grab the pagetitle.

Next we pretty up the date. Grabbing the date from the object and using the strtotime command, follow that up with the PHP date function to display it in a more friendly format.

Then lets see if we have some introductory text. If there is, add a non breaking space after it. This will keep our read more link from breaking strangely if the copy gets close to the edge.

Lastly, in each loop lets build our HTML from each piece we have created. Here, I am getting the uri from the object in the link. In most cases this will work, but if you need to create a full http/https link you can always add another step and use MODX’s makeURL function.

After we have stepped through each array entry, you simply return your output variable to the page.

Hopefully, this is just a starting point for you to jump off from when exploring more ideas of how to manipulate content in differing ways. You can modify this technique and add additional conditions to perhaps grab all the press releases for a year, or building a blog style Previous and next function for your documents. You can see a front end example of this here . A variation of this code is what runs the Arketi Press release overview page, with additional sorting by year built in. This snippet is called uncached, and just look at the speed!

The best advantage of MODX is that it lets you choose, build and manipulate your content in the way that works best for your site and structure. Can you use the basic getResourses way? Sure. Build your own custom snippet that’s fast? Sure! You can even do something else entirely.

Resources

Bob’s Guide – Understanding MODX Revolution Objects and xPDO

Bob Ray wrote the book on MODX. Literally. It’s an invaluable Resource.

Documentation for getCollection is here.

Do you have any unique ways of manipulating your MODX? Leave a note and let us know!

Mixology Mondays at Arketi

February 9, 2015 by

#MixologyMonday has arrived at Arketi Group. The first installment of mixology Monday last month was headlined by a simple and unique cocktail: the classic Black Velvet.

Legend has it, this classic drink was invented in 1861 at Brook’s Club in London. Prince Albert had died, and the country was in mourning. As the story goes, the steward at the club, overcome with the emotion of the occasion, ordered that even the champagne should be put into mourning. He then proceeded to mix the bubbly with Guiness. The taste was so delicious the Black Velvet quickly became extremely popular. Check out the recipe below!

Arketi Mixology Monday taste testers

 

Serves 1

Ingredients:

Champagne

Guiness Extra Stout

 

Directions:

Pour the Guinness Extra Stout into a clean champagne flute or collins glass until half full. Then top the glass off with champagne, being careful not to spill.

Pro tip: Position a bar spoon in the glass with its backside facing upward with one hand, and slowly pour champagne over the back side with another hand until glass is full. To get a perfect separation of layers, make sure the tip of spoon floats over the surface of the beer and adjust as the glass fills.

Black Velvet pouring technique

 

Do you have a favorite drink or recommendation for our next Mixology Monday at BARketi? If so, leave us a comment!

The Promise of Pretend Press Releases

January 27, 2015 by

Once upon a time, Amazon’s Fire Phone was simply a “big idea” conceptualized in a press release crafted by an Amazon employee. Although most in the tech community feel the concept should have never left the paper, the strategy of mocking up a press release to fine-tune messaging around a new, or pie in the sky product could actually be a good one.

According to Fast Company’s recent take on Jeff Bezos and the Fire Phone, Bezos’ requires employees to write pretend press releases to help them refine their ideas and distill their goals with customers in mind. While that might seem completely daunting, especially during the infancy of a product idea, the earlier you can begin preparing with the end in mind the better. 

Traditionally, the purpose of a press release is to tell the story behind your announcement, whether it be a company milestone, or in Amazon’s case, a product. Drafting a pretend release gives you the opportunity to begin ironing out details like who your audience will be, what your product is, when and where it’ll be available, why it’s significant, and how it will benefit the audience.

Despite not having all of the specifics you need to distribute a real release, writing a mock release allows you to think through tough questions early on, find potential holes, and ultimately determine whether or not a product idea has what it takes to be successful. 

Drafting a mock release can also be a great way to promote out-of-the-box thinking and collaboration within your organization. Take a page out of Bezos’ book and extend the assignment of writing a pretend release to other departments beyond marketing. Engage your product and customer care teams, for example, to aggregate a variety of perspectives on one idea, or generate even more.

In the end, not every idea is ready for primetime, but that shouldn’t stop dreamers from dreaming. Introducing a mock release into your development strategy can unlock innovation and become the starting point of a product’s communication plan.

What Makes an Effective Leader? Agency Executives Tell All

December 29, 2014 by

During a recent discussion, the topic of leadership came up. In my opinion, to understand effective leadership within the PR profession, the best thing to do is tap into The Counselors Academy, which is a brain trust of talent.

The Counselors Academy is a group of nearly 400 agency leaders within PRSA featuring senior-level PR and communications counselors, from executives of leading multinational agencies to independent agency owners.

Tactics presented several questions to the group to understand the ins and outs of leadership. Here’s what some of them shared with us: 

How do you describe leadership?

Leadership is knowing when not to lead — that is, when to step aside and give people a chance to make some of the same mistakes you did, so they have a chance to learn from them.

Always giving people the right answers and protecting them from following the wrong path isn’t leading. It’s the ability to release the reins and let them gallop off on their own, and knowing when to do this so as to not put a project, client or enterprise in jeopardy. That is what separates those who lead from those who simply control.     — Jon Goldberg, chief reputation architect, Reputation Architects Inc.

Do effective leaders have similar behavioral traits?

One of the standards of leadership behavior was created by Rush Kidder, the late founder of the Institute of Global Ethics. He identified five elements to effective, ethical leadership that he found to be universal around the world, summed up as: Effective leaders must have the courage to be honest, responsible, respectful, fair and compassionate. — J.R. Hipple, managing partner, Albright Group

What’s the most common trap that leaders fall into?

The most common trap that leaders fall into is that they do not look to reinvent themselves. “How can we become the company to put us out of business” is a great quote and a question we should be asking ourselves often. — Bret Werner, managing director, Catalyst

What’s the most important quality of a good leader?

I will pick two: flexibility and openness. Regardless of title, education or experience, a leader must unleash his or her creativity and unique personality. Allowing yourself and others to be wrong or right and freeing your mind to see the opportunities and interpretations of an idea allow leaders to understand more and see things that they might have otherwise missed. — Janet Tyler, APR, co-CEO, Airfoil

How can a leader best engage and influence others?

Shut up and listen!

Strong leaders are often great speakers but all too often forget the importance of listening. Social media has changed the landscape of public relations and we’re constantly reminding our clients about the importance of engagement. Great leaders know that to truly engage and motivate people, you need to recognize the contribution of others and hear what they’re saying. — Alison M. King, president, Media Profile

Is it critical for leaders to be willing to make decisions?

Absolutely. But possibly even more important is empowering and encouraging your team to make their own decisions even if you know they might be heading down the wrong path. Letting them learn from mistakes and using this as a teachable moment is as key to leadership as knowing when to intercede. — Pam Golden, president, GLA Communications

Is leadership about what you do or who you inspire?

Both — they really go hand in hand. Leadership means consistency and excellence in all actions. If you achieve that, then you can’t help but be inspiring. And, the ability to retain consistency and excellence comes from listening and applying equal parts logic and intuition. — Terri Howe, APR, owner and principal, Howe Marketing Communications LLC

How do you know if someone is a leader?

It’s not about your title or corner office. Want to know if you’re a leader? Turn around: If you see followers who would follow you in the toughest, scariest of times, who share your vision, and who trust you absolutely, then you’re a leader.

I’ve seen senior account executives who are leaders; I’ve seen executive vice presidents who aren’t. — Ken Jacobs, principal, Jacobs Communications Consulting

Is it possible to be a born leader or can people learn how to lead?

We are all capable of being leaders if it is recognized and encouraged. “Born” leaders will come to it more naturally and will seek out opportunities to lead. Others may need to be presented with the opportunity to learn to be a leader in order to have the confidence to make it happen. — Abbie S. Fink, vice president and general manager, HMA Public Relations

Is there something that you do regularly that helps you be a better leader?

Managing and leading employees is like managing personal relationships. You have to focus on individuals’ strengths and good qualities, versus the weaknesses and what you don’t like about them. Not everyone has the same strengths, and you have to nurture and use those strengths while gently and positively encouraging them to build their weaknesses. — Jean Walcher, president, J. Walcher Communications

What’s the best way to strengthen leadership skills?

I am a constant learner — always searching for ways to hone my leadership skills and style. I watch and learn from other great leaders while reading a lot of leadership books. As of late, I’ve focused on coaching people, versus managing them. This is something that can be taught but something I’m working to perfect. — Aaron Blank, CEO and president, The Fearey Group

What have you done to develop your leadership skills?

I joined a business executives group in our third year in business. As a former financial journalist, I was largely clueless about basic management skills. The chair of the group was the former dean of the business school at San Diego State University, so I had great mentoring. Over the years, I’ve gained greatly from my membership in the Counselors Academy and our firm’s global network. Both have brilliant counselors who are pleased to share ideas. — Tom Gable, APR, Fellow PRSA, CEO, Gable PR, LLC

So what does this mean?

Nearly 25 years into my career, when thinking about leadership, I still find myself drawn to the class bumper sticker “Lead. Follow. Or get the hell out of the way.” Attributed to Gen. George S. Patton, over time, I have come to realize that this is not a message about leadership, but for leaders.

As these wise leaders in our profession have pointed out, leadership is not always about taking command; it’s about knowing how and when to take, give or share the responsibility to do what’s best for the organization that you are serving. For more on effective leaders, check out the article

This article first appeared in the June 2014 issue of Public Relations TacticsFor more on effective leaders, check out the article here.

Not All (Marketing) Content is Created Equal

December 16, 2014 by

A recent Forrester report highlights how BtoB content marketing fails to engage users. An Advertising Age article provides more detail here.

As provided in the article, Forrester identified 10 criteria for engaging content, ranging from a customer-centric home page to innovative use of video. Only 4 of 30 BtoB websites had a passing score (20 out of 30). The majority of companies fail to engage users, with companies talking about themselves, rather than focusing on prospective buyers.

For many years, Arketi has shared the mantra with its clients of “Stop selling. Start listening.” The idea is twofold: first, you need to understand customers’ needs before you can properly message to them; and second, you need to engage them with content that is about them–not that simply sells what you have to offer.Engagement Image

The struggle with creating compelling content goes beyond understanding and focusing on customer needs. It sounds like a “no duh,” but to engage users content must be exactly that, engaging. And, too often, it isn’t. Why? Oftentimes, marketing departments have so much on their plates, they default to the generic content, like a piece of collateral or a white paper.

Engaging collateral must both have crisp messaging and be presented in a visually appealing manner. And, it must be easy to read, watch or digest. Infographics, e-books, and videos are some mediums that can engage users. But, even these must have the right messaging and a strong visual component for users to stay tuned in. The effort required to do this right is much greater, but there is strong ROI attached to doing such.

Arketi has run numerous campaigns for clients, and the results are clear. An average piece of content will have a below average response, and an above average piece of content will do much better than average.

So the next time your marketing department says, “Wow, we would love to do that great piece of content, but we don’t have time; so let’s run with this collateral piece as our call-to-action,” you need only remind them that the goal of the campaign is to generate leads (i.e. conversions).

And, if the content doesn’t engage, having a campaign executed sooner with poor results will not reflect well on anyone. Better to delay the campaign a month and build the better content to execute a campaign that can work.

Let’s face it: for B2B marketers, engaging content remains our currency.

Marketing Executives Speak Out on Digital Marketing

December 11, 2014 by

Georgia is a hotbed for many technologies, but increasingly the state and the Atlanta metropolitan area, has been turning heads because of its digital marketing chops. In addition to building a very strong base of digital marketing technology successes, the area has also proven to have deep talent pools of digital marketing professions – inside agencies and corporations – that are helping to reshape today’s marketing landscape.

When TAG asked me to write about the topic I was somewhat overwhelmed. Then it hit me, the best way to dig into digital marketing, what it’s about, where it’s going, and why Atlanta is leading in this area, was to tap into some of the brightest marketers and marketing organizations here in Georgia.

Here’s what some of them had to say…about digital marketing:

 

Q1. How do you define digital marketing?

NCR | Corinne Cuthbertson, VP of Creative, Digital and Experiential Marketing

Digital marketing is the practice of delivering a company’s message to the right target audience through electronic means (computer, tablet, smartphone, etc.) using a variety of technology platforms. The tactics and approach chosen for digital marketing are grounded in a solid understanding of your target audience and that understanding drives you to choose the best mix of tactics.

VeriFone | Leah K. Roscoe, Vice President of Global Marketing

For us, it’s a very broad category. Our global team oversees web, social, email, and the use of new technology for marketing purposes. We’ve tried just about everything and continue to watch B-to-B marketing trends for what’s next. It’s really an exciting and fun part of our job.

Brightree | Terrie O’Hanlon, Chief Marketing Officer

I think that the promise of digital marketing makes possible on a mass scale one-to-one marketing. You make that promise real, and you can make your marketing more of a relationship – a service relationship – really understanding what somebody wants and then serving it up to them in a personalized but affordable way. And that’s not possible without digital technology.

Aptean | Todd Craig, Vice President of Marketing

I think a good marketing program combines both digital and traditional methods.

In today’s world you should have a strategy to market to prospects on as many platforms as possible, speaking the language and style of each individual vehicle, but maintaining the same branding and messaging.

 

Q2. How has technology changed your marketing department?

Craneware | Ann Marie Brown, Executive Vice President of Marketing

It has allowed us to measure and manage marketing tactics more effectively. This in turn has required us to learn new ways of thinking about implementing marketing tactics and to learn new software tools.

Piedmont Healthcare | Matt Gove, CMO and Senior Vice President of External Affairs

Everybody who works in my department has to have some level of digital expertise.  Even areas that you might say are not digital natives – look at media relations or even events. Those still have digital execution and having a clear understanding of how digital has affected the way our customers consume content is critical in how we determine which media outlets to use, how we release stories, and what that process looks like. 

VeriFone’s Roscoe: Digital and digital technology is a consideration in everything we do now. We still do a lot of traditional marketing, but where we can, we supplement traditional with digital or we replace it with digital for the economic benefit. Everyone on my teams has to stay abreast of technology and the impact on marketing. As a result the digital marketing team participates in everything from planning to execution.  Finally, because we are in an expanding tech industry we have to track digital best practices to stay current.

NCR’s Cuthbertson: The role of a typical marketing manager is starting to look more like that of an IT manager. We need to hire people with more technical acumen than we have in the past so that they can do three important things:

  • Partner with our IT organization to develop a marketing technology infrastructure to meet diverse company needs.
  • Evaluate and purchase marketing technologies that are compatible and scalable.
  • Operate these technologies at peak efficiency to speed adoption of digital best practices and save the company money while driving revenue.

We also need to hire people who are data oriented and have the skills to interpret the data we glean from the many different technologies we currently employ to help us test and learn.

 

Q3. Is there a digital marketing strategy, tactic, channel or technology that is most exciting to you today as a marketer?

 Aderant | Ian Oxman, Vice President of Marketing

What excites me today is evolving the use of marketing automation platforms from tracking and conducting campaign level activity to now tracking and conducting activities at the individual contact level. Identifying prospects on our website, monitoring their interaction with our content, scoring their behavior, and immediately following up with marketing and sales activities that add benefit to the prospect’s experience is powerful. It’s certainly a new world of visibility and possibilities for marketers today. 

Piedmont Healthcare’s Gove: Yes, and in healthcare particularly. I’m obsessed with two things: transparency and what that means in the context of consumer choice. And the connection of CRM or CRM-like tools with marketing automation. 

Craneware’s Brown: It’s exciting how many of the tactics and technologies are being combined: for example, video, mobile and social media. You have to be careful not to get swept up in the excitement of the “coolness” of new media but remember to ask, “Will this help our company to better engage customers or prospects to want to purchase our solutions?” With that in mind, I wonder if people aren’t becoming overwhelmed by all the digital marketing and communications, and responding positively to the “traditional” marketing tactics like receiving a marketing piece in the mail or a phone call.

NCR’s Cuthbertson: I’m excited about a tool we are evaluating to visualize and report on all the data we have in a more meaningful way to the organization. NCR is a data driven company that is run by the numbers. The new tool we are evaluating and launching will help marketing be seen as more analytical and data oriented. I’m also excited about a tool we are implementing in social to help us listen to social conversations and understand the appropriate way to engage.

Brightree’s O’Hanlon: I am very enamored with video and animation – and the reason is you can passively consume that information and it makes people do things in a more creative way than simply writing a bunch of texts or sending emails or doing a brochure. It allows an organization to make its purpose come alive in a way that’s ‘edutainment’ – you know you’re educating and entertaining at the same time and then aspiring to action. It’s the digital form factor I like the best.

 

Q4. Does Georgia have the talent pool needed for digital marketing success?

Aderant’s Oxman: Definitely! UGA, Georgia Tech, Georgia State, and Kennesaw State University are graduating a terrific pool of young potential marketers. However, most of these graduates don’t know that their skills are of great need in marketing departments. For the more senior, experienced marketing professional, Atlanta remains a hidden secret of technology industry talent. 

Aptean’s Craig: Without question. Just having strong universities in the state that are also very active in our our technology community opens up students to the many different roles they can occupy within a technology company. It’s not uncommon these days to have someone in marketing that started out in industrial engineering and choose a different path.

 

Q5. Why do you think Georgia and Atlanta have such a strong digital marketing industry? 

VeriFone’s Roscoe: Young people want to live in the Southeast, and we have a great mix of creative, marketing, business and technology programs in our state universities and colleges. With so many Fortune 500 brands and global companies, it’s also a great place to start a career client-side or agency-side.

Brightree’s O’Hanlon: We have a ton of great universities here and then we have a whole video, movie, music, and animation industry – a creative culture that’s growing here. We have the talent, and digital marketing is less confined to a particular physical location. In the old ad agency days, everyone had to gather and look at boards on the wall. Today everything is electronically shared, and people can easily communicate and collaborate regardless of location. That means the core group of people can really be anywhere. For those reasons I think we’re a hotbed of creative thinking.

  

Net Net…Georgia Gets Digital Marketing

These marketing executives have proven to me that we are currently in a state that is doing more than its part to lead a new renaissance in the marketing industry. Ignited by technology – much of which is Georgia grown – marketers are re-writing the rules of their industry.

It’s an exciting time for those of us in marketing and is exceptionally exciting if you live in Georgia.

This article first appeared in the Spring 2014 edition of Hub Magazine.For a digital or print version, visit: http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/749861

When was the last time you scanned a QR code?

November 25, 2014 by


A QR code – short for Quick Response code – is essentially a square barcode that can direct a user to relevant content on their mobile device simply by scanning. The idea was simple — create a way to connect the growing digital world with online content leveraging a consumer’s smart phone.

With over 50% of American adults now owning a smart phone[1], something as unique and practical as a QR code should have quickly become a success. However, the technology with so many positive elements, has taken more than 10 years to gain momentum in the consumer marketplace. Has the time come to pronounce the QR code a failed digital trend, or are these little squares finally positioned to take off?QR code

Below are some examples preventing the technology from advancing and improvements that may rescue the QR code from demise.

Ease of Use

To no one’s surprise, QR codes have proved time and time again too laborious to ever take off among mobile users. In order for the QR code to work, people first need to have a QR scanner app already downloaded. Next, they must be willing to stop what they are doing, unlock their phones and open the app to finally scan the QR code. And this is assuming the consumer is educated on how to use these codes. Otherwise the digital mark will also need to include instructions on how and where to download the proper app to read the icon before they are even able to discover where the QR code is directing them to or what its purpose is. All of this can be overwhelming and time consuming to an audience. 

Poor User Experience

In the rush to capitalize on this digital trend, many marketing efforts were too inconsistent in creating mobile-optimized and rewarding landing pages or experiences for these codes, creating an unsatisfying user experience.

Many codes only take users to non-mobile optimized sites, or worse, to a site where the connection to the original call-to-action is lost. Yet, the destination is only half of the issue with developing a rewarding and engaging user experience with QR codes.

The other half is the implementation of the QR codes. QR codes located on moving objects like the outside of buses or trains, TV commercials, or even in emails can make the code unwieldy and difficult to use. Something a simple URL could achieve just as easy if not easier. All of this, as well as the necessary QR reader application requiring precious space on mobile devices hinder the use of QR codes. 

Better Alternatives

  • SMS short codes — every mobile phone has functionality that allows users to text. Short codes allow a user to text a simple keyword to a five-digit number and receive back information or a link to an online experience.
  • Near-field communications (NFC) — Near-field communications (NFC) is still developing as a viable QR code alternative, but it has the potential to overtake preceding technologies and become the main driver of the mobile-physical integrated experience. Examples include the Google Wallet and Apple Pay.
  • Augmented reality — While some companies have tied augmented reality experiences to QR codes, this is no longer necessary. Augmented reality allows for a much richer interactive user experience that can excite users to continue interaction.

 To the Rescue

  • Easier Use – With the launch of IOS7, the Apple Passbook app now comes with a QR code reader pre-loaded. Consumers now have one step less in reading a QR code. Also, Android phone’s built-in Google Search widget can decode QR codes as well.
  • Functional Use – While many of the experiences behind QR codes are still a disappointment, there are industries (particularly in industrial and real estate businesses) where having a QR code provides connectivity to deep linked product specifications, etc. Even realtors are using QR codes on property signs, for quick access to the property information.
  • Innovative & Improved User Experience – Finally, in The Optical Society’s (OSA) new high-impact journal “Optica,” new research explains how QR codes are being used to create personal 3-D entertainment, product visualizations for manufacturing and marketing, and secure 3-D data storage and transmission by simply scanning a series of QR codes. Which shows that perhaps QR codes are better suited as supplementary, devices not marketing material.

Any technology will eventually evolve or be replaced. The timeline for the QR code however, may be getting shorter. Let us know what you think below in the comments.

 

[1] PEW Research — June 5th, 2013 — http://www.pewinternet.org/2013/06/05/smartphone-ownership-2013/

Campaigns Based Solely on Creativity Do Little to Advance BtoB Marketing

November 14, 2014 by

As the end of the year rolls around, the awards season heats up. Just last week Arketi Group and four of its clients landed a total of nine award between the PRSA Georgia Chapter Phoenix Awards and the MarCom Awards.

We’re proud of these award because they are judged on RESULTS and IMPACT, not just good looking creative. Don’t get me wrong, solid creative is much needed in today’s BtoB environment, but creative alone does not drive marketing success.

Arketi at 2014 PRSA Phoenix Awards Ceremony

I was excited to see that AdAge’s Best BtoB Awards were open for submissions. Which campaign to enter was my immediate question knowing that we have a number of campaigns to choose from, including:

  • One that generated a campaign return on investment of more than 820%
  • One that netted 120 prospects
  • One that increased site traffic by nearly 50% and increased page views by almost 250%
  • One that earned 2.1 million media impressions

Then I was crushed by a simple sentence on AdAge’s BtoB Best Awards submission page: “All categories are judged on creative aspects (not effectiveness).”

What? Did I just read that?

In today’s results-driven business world – which is rightfully so – should one of the industry’s leading publications be giving awards based on a beauty contest? Much less calling them the “Best BtoB Award”?

I was very disheartened and needless to say we are not spending the $125 per entry to enter. I hope the smart folks at AdAge will come around to the realization that most in BtoB marketing  – including our clients – know that bottom-line results are needed in conjunction with beautiful creative to advance BtoB marketing. If you get those two right, you truly are the best.