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Monthly Archives: October 2010


More than 20 minutes

Posted on October 26, 2010 by ddefreeuw

Early this past September I read a post from one of my favorite marketing dudes, Chris Brogan. This message has stayed with me and continues to resonate. The post was written on a Sunday and talked about taking 20 minutes (on Sundays) to connect with friends and family. I remember my first thought being “20 minutes, really? Is that all I should spend?” I recall as a kid piling into the car after church on Sunday and making the rounds to visit relatives. I think that is the kind of time we need to remember to spend, face-to-face.

Don’t get me wrong, technology is a wonderful thing; I talk to my host daughter in Austria on Skype and love it. I can’t get to Austria every week so this technology helps us stay connected. The same goes for my “niece-daughter” who lives in California. My folks, who I am blessed to have living in the same city, deserve more. A visit, a family dinner or maybe a trip to the bookstore is my goal. I fear that technology can make us apathetic and we risk losing the art of communicating in person. How about Saturday we take 20 minutes to catch up with far-flung family and old friends, and Sunday, the whole day, become technology free day and we take the time to “really” connect.

The same idea is true for clients. It is great to send them an e-mail newsletter, maybe mail them a special offer or coupon, and invite them to “like” you on Facebook. When it comes down to it, the relationship that you build and the real life connections you create can’t be beat.  So, make it a point to schedule a visit and connect face-to-face, it makes all the difference.


Pin sites to your taskbar

Posted on October 18, 2010 by force5

With the recent release of Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 beta you are now able to see the work that has gone into a browser that has not seen much forward development in meeting web standards or rendering speeds compared to its rivals (Opera, Firefox, & Google Chrome). Microsoft has even launched BeautyOfTheWeb.com website showcasing the new features and abilities. One of the new features that I believe will be really useful for some users is pinning the website to the Windows taskbar. By pinning the website to the taskbar the end-user will have the ability to go to a site quickly without having to open up the web browser and finding the link in favorites/bookmarks area. One of the better examples where this feature can excel at is from USA Today. By pinning this site you are able to get quick links to all the different news sections (news, money, sports, life, & tech).

What do I need to do to add it?

The only basic prerequisite is that your website should have a favicon. That way aesthetically your pinned site will be branded appropriately. Code wise you will need to add at minimum two <meta> elements inside of the <head> section of your web page. First, add your application-name. For example, we'll enter "Force 5" into the content attribute.

  • <meta name="application-name" content="Force 5"/>

Second, add an msapplication-task. The content attribute is broken up into a couple sections. The name parameter is the label you want to appear; in this case we will enter "Discover Force 5". The action-uri parameter is where we want to send the end-user; in this case we will enter "http://www.discoverforce5.com/". The next step is optional; you can enter your favicon to the icon-uri parameter. Lastly, just repeat these steps to add more "tasks".

  • <meta name="msapplication-task" content="name=Discover Force 5;

Example with multiple tasks:

    <meta name="application-name" content="Force 5"/>
    <meta name="msapplication-task" content="name=Discover Force 5;
    <meta name="msapplication-task" content="name=Media Hub;
    <meta name="msapplication-task" content="name=Employee Blogs;

Next: pin your site

After saving your changes, go to your web page with the new code above.

  1. Grab your favicon by dragging it to the taskbar.
  2. Pin favicon to your taskbar.
  3. Site is successfully pinned!
  4. Click on your new pinned task icon and go some where.

Even though IE9 is still in beta it is good to see Microsoft bringing new features to the table. If you feel like trying out IE9 today, click here.


Earlier this year, the University of Maryland researched social media efforts being made by small businesses. In early 2010, about 25% of small businesses said they were using social media. The most recent survey from Network Solutions and the Center for Excellence in Service at the University of Maryland points to a stall in the number of small businesses that are turning to social media.

The percentage of small business engaged in social media has not increased and analysts believe it’s because expectations have somewhat outpaced accomplishments. For example, even though the overall percentages were not exceeding low, the following expectations of small business owners regarding social media were not met:

  • Higher awareness of company in target market
  • Attract new customers
  • Improved collaboration with suppliers, partners, colleagues

But, there were two areas where accomplishments exceed expectations. Small business owners say that using social media has allowed them to stay engaged with current customers and it has improved internal collaboration efforts. This is an important strategy. By listening to your customers, and engaging them, your success for loyalty is increased. Even if the conversation is about criticism or other problem areas, the fact that you are engaging your customer is important. However, this does come with a cost.

While social media is increasingly being seen as a tool to manage customer loyalty as opposed to being a way to acquire new customers, small business owners still have concerns. Managers say this channel takes up more time than they had expected and as a result, it costs more than they had imagined. From a small business strategy, Social media isn’t free. It takes an effort of planning and personnel to effectively use it. Social Media needs to become part of your overall marketing effort.

Small businesses will continue to explore the benefits and drawbacks of social media. This current survey indicates they will proceed cautiously. We encourage our clients to prepare a plan that includes listening first-then engage when they have the resources to properly respond. We’d be happy to help you in your social media strategy in any way we can.

[Source: Small Businesses Change Social Media Expectations. Emarketer.com. 29 Sept. 2010. Web. 14 Oct. 2010]


The Value of QR Codes

Posted on October 13, 2010 by nmcelwrath

QR CodeYou've probably seen them. Tucked in the lower corner of a magazine ad, on the back of a business card, on a bus sign or even on the entire side of a building. It's an increasing trend in advertising that some say is a fad, and some say the next great new way to promote.

What are QR Codes? QR Codes, simply put, are 2 dimensional, scannable barcodes that can either be used to dial a phone number, visit a web site, display text or send a SMS. The data is stored directly within the code, so it will not expire.

QR Codes are not effective just anywhere. The effectiveness can be optimized by using the QR Code in the way it was intended. In this case, it's important to understand how the QR code works. The code is optically scanned by a camera and through the use of software, directs you to the intended destination - whether be a website, plain text or a phone number. Smart phones are the ideal tool for using QR Codes due to their ability to utilize a camera and process the data relatively quickly. FYI: The "QR" in QR Code stands for "Quick Response".

The real value in QR Codes come in their usage. You would not use a QR Code in an email signature or a tweet. Unless your email or twitter client happens to double as a QR Reader, this would not be ideal usage. QR Codes shine when they are used out in the physical world. QR Code T-shirtSome QR Code ideas:

  • Tshirt or Conference Badge
  • Back of business card
  • Brochures, magazine ads and other print media
  • Back of company car window
  • Link to a demo video of a product out in the field. ie, How to change your lawnmowers spark plug with a code in the owners manual.
  • Coupon codes that can be redeemable or returned to the merchan
  • Or, better yet, a QR tattoo

For those who would like to experiment, generate your custom QR Code here.

Another 2D Code variation:

Microsoft Tag  - Microsoft's version of a 2D barcode that enables great analytics and the ability to alter the tag contents after creation. The difference here is that the tag value is stored on Microsoft servers rather than in the tag directly like QR Codes.

Depending on your mobile OS, here is a list of QR Readers for a variety of mobile platforms.

In combination with a great marketing campaign, QR Codes can help achieve the engagement necessary for success. If you'd like to assemble award winning marketing and branding campaigns, let us know!


James Bond and Q -or- Sales and Marketing

Posted on October 11, 2010 by butch

The first movie I can recall seeing in a theatre was the 1971 James Bond 007 film, Diamonds Are Forever.  Yes, at the tender age of six, I became a fan of James Bond movies.   I was too young at the time to appreciate James for his prowess, his daring, his panache.  What I loved about Bond films were the gadgets.  Those wondrous and often deadly devices included:  the rocket-launching leg cast, the Rolex buzz-saw watch, and the Aston Martin DB5 - nicely equipped with machine guns, smoke screen, and champagne chiller (I guess those flying corks really can be deadly.) There were scores of Bond gadgets and all of them were developed by James’ behind-the-scene partner:   the arrogant, condescending, yet lovable, Q. 

There was a perpetual tension between Q and Bond.  I think this was the result of each believing he was just a little more important to the success of the mission than the other.  Q brilliantly anticipated the traps Bond might encounter on his mission and developed the gizmo required to overcome them.  And James, with his cunning instincts, always knew exactly how to utilize those gadgets, complete the mission, and ... get the girl.  It was a beautiful thing.  Despite this tension, James Bond and Q together made the perfect team.  There could have been no successful missions without the other’s contributions and James and Q were equally, although unadmittedly, aware of this.

I’ve observed a similar, but often much stronger, tension in businesses between the marketing department and the sales force: 

“I can’t believe what those morons just spent on that brochure!  We’re so overpriced already!”
“Those Neanderthals just don’t get it!  They’re not leveraging the tools!  All they know how to do is give everything away on price!”

Like James Bond and Q, Sales People and Marketing People are two quite different breeds.  I’ve been both, and from each vantage, I’ve observed that regardless of organizational size, tension between sales and marketing will exist.  That being said, managing the degree of this tension can determine a company's success or failure.    Too little tensions begets subservient, organizational apathy.  Too much tension reveals departmental self-importance and fosters silo mentality.   Tension at either end of this spectrum can ultimately lead to a poor customer experience and a resultantly weak brand.

I've found that in the strongest organizations, Sales and Marketing work together like James Bond and Q: each secretly respectful of the value the other provides, each contributing from a position of strength, and each occasionally willing to offer some credit to the other for the success of the mission.

I think that unless both sides sit down and figure out that they are on the same side, the mission will be over, SPECTER will win, and the competition will get the girl … or at least the sale.