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Third world leaps into first place

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Long ago, I completed a research paper on the impact of technology on developing countries.  The early advantage of a media and information rich country over those without the same access were very clear.  If one country could get instant information while another waited for printed material or otherwise unavailable information, then the information itself was a commodity that could be easily monetized by the savvy holder of the knowledge.

Along comes wireless, broadband, internet, satellite and mobile devices and voila, information becomes more available to more people.  In some cases, the developing countries actually outpaced developed countries in the use of both satellite television and cell phones.  A trip to Venezuela in the 90’s revealed for me my first look at a truly cell phone society.  Mobile phones were relatively cheap and there were no roaming charges or per minute fees, just a pay as you go or monthly fee.  It seemed that everyone had a cell phone, in every financial demographic no less.  It was many years before I ever felt the same prolific use and visibility of cell phones in the US.  In fact, even now we are often more reliant on wired broadband connections than many seemingly less developed areas.

Information as a commodity may still apply but the playing field has certainly leaped into a more fair and equal place.  That may also mean that the US, once leading the information commodity race is no longer in a prime position and must find new uses for technology if it wants to maintain its global status.  Perhaps another case for investing in known hyper-growth regions like India, China and South America.

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The call is coming from inside the house.

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If you are one of the unfortunate who saw a movie from 1979 called “When a Stranger Calls,” you might remember the frightening line when the police let the babysitter know the calls from the scary stranger are coming from inside the house.  Yikes, that is chilling but at least it is Hollywood.

 

When a Stranger Calls

But what about the creepy characters setting up shop from the inside today?  Cookies, bots, malware and more lie waiting to identify and capture data usually without our knowledge.  Mostly, we readily give the information as a convenience of use and interaction but mostly we know not where it goes or how intense the information can be sought, monetized and used without our consent.   On the heels of Sony Corps’ reported security breach last month which exposed data from over 100 million (yes million) online video game users including credit card numbers from over 12 million (yes million) customers, it is no surprise that four new privacy bills have been introduced in the US Congress recently.

One such bill, called the “do not track bill” was introduced by Senator Jay Rockefeller just today according to a Reuters news story (retrieved from my Reuters news app).  That bill calls for companies to refrain from collecting personal information about people who ask not to be tracked.  Even if the information is collected for a service, the company would have to anonymize (new term for me, thanks Reuters) or delete it once the service has been performed.

Where there is a threat, there is always new money to be made.  Mobile devices (once known as phones) are now front line of new virus and malware offenses to capture usable data that could really mess up your week among other things.  So, be looking for all of the usual suspects, Symantec, McAfee and company to help us protect ourselves from the cyber thieves.  There no longer needs to be a physical presence for the call to come from inside the house.  Just go to clean up your cookies and internet history and you’ll get just a small glimpse of how many people are parked inside your computer right now.

If your arm hairs just stood up, they should have.  We are entering a new age of digital horrors awaiting all of us innocent users.  For some insight on how to get secure without losing your mobility, check out this link:

baseline

It’s the wild west out there, so let’s be careful.  Even in 2007, researchers were already aware of major infections in the mobile space as you can see in this perhaps too detailed report from “Asian eMarketing”.

I will keep going digital and e-filing my taxes and choosing e-bills and e-statements, but I will sure be looking closely to at least recognize if my life has been breached by nefarious thieves.  As for marketers, I guess they will keep zero-ing in on my tastes and psychographics until they control my every purchase.  So be it, I’m tired of all the choices anyway… so why don’t you just tell me what I should buy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qM79_itR0Nc&feature=player_detailpage#t=25s

Who gives a tweet?

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Surely we will all tire of all of this social media moderating, posting and general digital tom foolery.  Many an internet expert has pointed out the passing fancy of exciting but fleeting and fading fads created by the internet.  And just as we begin to talk about the new language of a new generation, something compels me to think just what if all of the information overload and useless tidbits of touching base will fade into a rejection of device checking and faceless texting much less tweeting ad nauseam.

Can’t we all just take a break from the incessant communication and check out once in a while?  We can certainly check out from ourselves, but it seems we can’t help but keep checking in with everyone and everything else.  I am not so concerned with shutting down my own communication, but how can I shut down the constant chirping going on without me.  Sure, I could de-friend and dis-like everyone and even un-link but not without the fear of simply dropping off the face of the earth.  Anyone know of a method for auto sending a “I’ve checked out for a while and won’t see anything you’ve been up to for the next seven days”?  Kind of like an email auto reply.  There has simply got to be some benefit to not giving a darn about new information every 60 seconds.  So what if I didn’t know Osama was killed for a day or two?  What exactly was that lack of information going to do to me and even more assuredly, what were my opinions, thoughts or comments on the subject going to add value to.

Beware marketing warriors.  The entire social, mobile, digital movement could be a fad.  The collective soul of our intended audience could just decide they don’t care to know anymore.  The only shred that might remain is anything that makes you laugh.  That is the one component that could survive the social media Armageddon that awaits us all.  So, make em laugh and you might keep getting your message across.  But make em engage in utter nonsense and meaningless drivel and you may be a part of your own new media demise. 

Blogger Tom Foremski has great insight into the notion that social media is actually mass media as most of the posting is coming from fewer posters:

“A recent Yahoo! Research report found just 20,000 elite Twitter users produce 50% of Tweets (Twitter has 150 m users). Sounds very mass-media like to me, I bet 10,000 of those users are journalists Tweeting about their stories.”

Check out his blog the demise of social media.  Then there is always just the sheer distrust that is sure to follow the proliferation of social media as a means to sell, here is another blog with a similar title, the demise of social media.

What if social media is not actually social at all.  Big business means big budgets and eventually the individual may find it hard to get noticed at all.

No man is an island… unfortunately.

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I am so excited to have started my career at a time with no internet, no cell phones, no email, no satellite radio, no laptops, no iPods (much less iPads and iPhones) and limited connectivity.  If I had not started work in the 80’s, I don’t think I would hardly believe that such a world could exist.  How were we productive back then and what the hack is thermal paper?

The biggest early advances with wide use at that time were fax machines and fed ex.  I remember those times as just as hectic and fast paced as today.  You could just as easily put in long hours even if you weren’t texting a colleague, taking a call on your drive home or logging into your email.  And yet, you had more time for reflective thought, for independent thinking, for focus and for being decisive.  You were also more susceptible to relying on individuals and relationships to get things done.  No checking the web for reference or putting out bids online, you simply had to rely on the people you worked with.

Fast forward to today and I am just as addicted to digital mediums as the next guy.  I go from device to device from wake up to bed time checking emails, texts, apps, sites and voice mail.  In fact, television and books are actually fading from my daily repertoire very quickly.  The last time I went for a good walk in the woods, I actually wound up sitting on a stump talking through my bluetooth headset for over 40 minutes about the prospects of a new global ice show tour.

Much like this rambling post, I don’t know where I’m going with this.  And that may be the point.  I don’t think anyone knows where they are going anymore.  We are all just moving.  With the world of information available at our finger tips and instant access and communication always within reach, isn’t it ironic… a little too ironic, that we don’t seem to be very good planners anymore.   Last minute is the new plan ahead.  Facebooking your friends is the new writing down of goals.  Blogging is the new term paper.  I try to think what it would be like to source everything originally these days.  Or to take more than five minutes to source an opinion (most likely someone elses that appears to be an expert based on their SEO ranking).

I can only hope that somehow someday, my own kids will have to fend for themselves and find content from within to get through at least one business endeavor.  No man is an island, but it wouldn’t hurt to visit one every now and then.

Check this out for a fun look at 1980’s computer history.

Win tickets now.

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I’ve got two tickets to the Atlanta Tennis Championships an ATP World Tour event that kicks off the Olympus US Open Series this July 18-24. Come to opening night on the 18th to see the likes of John Isner, Mardy Fish, Sam Querry and other world top 40 tennis players serving up a Summer of Love at the Racquet Club of the South in Atlanta.

Just complete the poll and respond to this post, and you’ll be in the running for two great seats.

So what does this do for us?

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We all want to be in the digital game.  Text marketing, mobile advertising, device apps, data analytics… we just have to be there.  But man do I dread the question, so.. what does this do for us.

Take text marketing.  I have actually had a text marketing provider show stats to convince me to use their service that show an event with attendance of over 20,000 where 200 people responded to a text promotion with 100 actively signing up to stay active in the text “club” and then 50 being still engaged and not having opted out a few months later.  That is one case where we have to ask, so what is this doing for us?  I for one am not excited about .1% – 5% data capture rates for a mobile promotion.

Granted we sometimes have to play in a field until we get a complete understanding of its potential as an advertising and selling platform, but sometimes we might also be correct to simply punt and wait for the next round all together.

In the texting case, I actually believe it is a worthwhile endeavor for event promoters.  But, like in most marketing endeavors, you have to be willing to fully apply yourself to reap any rewards.  The problem with so many sports and events is that they actually don’t value the text platform enough, hence, they get paltry returns for their efforts.  No, I am not happy with less than 5% data capture (a number that would actually be at the high-end of most text promotions at events).  The investment required to make the promotion successful goes well beyond the cost of the text platform and its communication to your event going audience.  You have to also invest in the reward for the participants.  A t-shirt or a couple of tickets simply is not compelling enough, but a chance to meet a player back stage and fly with the team to their next away game might get you a shot at a much greater opt-in from the audience.

Much like traditional advertising where you would not spend $1 million on the media buy and then $1 hundred to create the spot… so too, you must remember that investments in digital and mobile platforms require more than just the technology for the execution.

Has anyone seen a truly successful text promotion out there?  Any examples of a promotion where you were compelled to text?

Here are a couple that have gained real traction in their text promotions:

Los Angeles Lakers

Pittsburgh Penguins

If you had to pick one new medium, which would it be?

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There simply is not enough time in the day for a one-person marketing department to implement all of the digital platforms available today.  So, what to do if you can only pick one? 

Let’s assume you have a product to sell and a limited budget.  Some of the digital avenues include:

  • Website
  • Blog
  • Text Promotion
  • Social Media
  • Mobile App
  • You Tube Video
  • E-mail campaign

One thing that seems to separate the digital from the traditional is the digital platform’s need for consistent updating and interaction.  With traditional media, once the creative is produced, you can just put it out there and wait to see what sales or leads are generated.  On the digital side, you have constant feedback as to what is or is not working.  In many ways, the digital front is simply very time-consuming and therefore requires a real gut check on just what your availability is for engagement.  There are certainly many forms of help in that arena, but most  require a budget commitment whether it be for an agency, consultant or software solution.

So, if we can’t do it all, what comes first.  While it may already seem old school, I would have to recommend the web site as the one first necessity in selling product.  As time and budget allow, more digital applications can and certainly should follow, but the first priority is getting the web site complete.  One interesting take on the web vs. blog consideration can be found in this You Tube video.  As time and budget allows, you have got to work on getting your site marketed and noticed.  Driving customers to your site much like getting customers to a retail store is critical to actually selling product.  Next steps in the digital realm include optimizing for search including SEO and web marketing like banner ads and pay-per-click. 

Traditional media can also play a role in driving traffic to your site.   The site, when executed correctly and generating sales can be the basis for moving into new digital platforms.  Natural extensions and additional traffic building methods can include a blog, social media, mobile apps and text promotions.  All can be added one piece at a time, which may be the only way a lonely marketing professional can tackle the digital landscape.

I enjoy Adam Singer’s blog that covers many facets of this very post.