Thursday, November 28, 2013

Why I Don't Feel "Scroogled" By My Chromebook Laptop

This year's "Scroogled" marketing campaign by Microsoft is getting a lot of (negative) attention recently as they have now decided to go after the Chromebook, claiming that it is not a "real" or "proper" laptop because it doesn't run Windows or Office. A little sad, I think. Especially since the brand spends so much time in the ad dissing Google, and so little time talking about their own products, and what they offer the consumer. Is this smart marketing? I don't think so. Even in an ad bashing the competition, it's just common sense that your product is featured front-and-center as the better solution.

I'm not saying don't buy a Windows laptop. Hell, buy whatever fits your needs. I decided to buy a Samsung Chromebook (a real laptop, as evidenced from +Chris Pirillo rant here breaking down the term) several months ago because it was the best fit for me. I thought I'd share just a few of the top reasons I feel good about my purchase.

  • The Keyboard - I can't say enough about the Chromebook keyboard. It's sleek and responsive, with keys just far enough apart and raised up just enough to make it an incredibly easy machine to type on. I like the touchscreen on my phone, of course. But, there's nothing like a good old fashioned keyboard when I want to get a bunch of thoughts down. The only thing missing on it for me is a "delete" key (I don't like to use 'backspace" - just a personal preference. I like to remove text from behind the word rather than in front of it).
  • Ability to work offline - Yeah, that's right. The Microsoft commercials would have you believe a Chromebook is useless without WiFi. That would be okay with me. I knew what I was buying, and I pretty much always have a WiFi connection these days. But, many of the apps work offline once you set it up that way, and everything syncs automatically when a connection is available. This brings me to my next reason...
  • Syncing, saving, and updating are automatic - I love love love not having to remember to click a save button or risk losing all of my work. When you stop typing in Google Drive, your work is saved for you. It's as easy as that. Everything you do offline automatically sync where it is supposed to. There are no extra steps to make this happen. Updates to your OS happen automatically, and take effect when you restart the laptop. No checking for them, or clicking through a bunch of windows to get them to download and install. No waiting. 
  • Collaboration in real-time is easy - Before working in Chrome and Drive, I'd have to open a document, read through and make my edits, save it, and then email it back to someone else to do the same thing. This became very tedious. With the tools that Google provides, I can collaborate with colleagues in real-time - we both/all have the same document open and can make edits as we go. Add another layer to this by chatting live in a Google Hangout with colleagues in other locations and you have an amazing and efficient way to get work done. 
  • Quick boot time - Maybe 6 seconds flat. The Windows laptop I used prior took several minutes - very frustrating if you're running late for a conference call. 
  • Battery life - I can be unplugged and working for 6 hours, no problem.
  • The price - $249 for this bad boy. The on-board memory is minimal, so I bought a 1 TB external hard drive for $60 too. A steal. 
  • Weight/Portability - You'd have to look up the spec for the exact weight. I don't remember exactly. But, wow is it light! I can toss this in my laptop bag, or carry it under my arm in a little padded sleeve a bought for $10, and barely notice it. It may not seem like much, but for me it's a huge convenience to have something so easy to maneuver. 
Those are some key advantages off the top of my head. There are more, I'm sure. But, hopefully this gives a clearer image of what Google is offering with the Chromebook line, and their product line as a whole. In my opinion, it's a long way from getting screwed scroogled.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Ads I Like: "Get A World View. Read The Economist."

These days a lot of attention goes toward the more innovative advertising campaigns that leverage the latest technology and marketing trends to motivate action. While digital marketing and innovations in technology are a focus of mine, I find that good old multi-purpose print advertising still moves me as much as it ever did, and really serves as inspiration to me as a marketer.

Below are a series of brilliant ads for one of my favorite publications, +The Economist, put together by +BBDO and shared by +Ads of the World - a great resource for regular inspiration in advertising. Each of these five ads speak to the tagline while challenging the audience to challenge themselves. Take a look and let me know what you think of the campaign.

"Get a world view. Read The Economist."  

Thursday, November 14, 2013

How To Use Google+ To Host Social Media Icons For Your Gmail Auto Signature (6 Simple Steps)

If you're like me, you prefer the look of having icons in your email auto signature that point to your various social media accounts over plain old text hyperlinks. The icons are much more visual, and visuals help motivate action.

A few weeks ago, I noticed that the icons I was using in my auto signature had quit working. They were instead replaced by the logo of the website that I got these free icons from. I went back to the site, found some replacements, and took several minutes adding them back to my auto signature in Gmail (and the right-hand side of my blog). The problem was fixed...for about a day. 

A day or two later, the same thing happened again. I repeated the process again...and again the next day...and again the next. I started to get really frustrated. Because Gmail requires the auto signature images point to a working URL rather than allowing users to simply upload images from their computer, I couldn't find a simple solution. I tried uploading to my blog here. But, it wouldn't work. 

Finally, it hit me. Unlike other social networks, each post made in Google+ is its own unique url that can be linked to. Of course!! So, the following are the steps I took to get my auto signature set up with all of my social media icons once, and for all (I have accounts with a few others. But, these are my main ones). Take a look and let me know what you think. 

Step 1: Find the icons you want to use online and download them to your computer. I don't want to endorse any specific site, especially the ones that move their URLs every damn day! So, just do a Google search for free social media icons available for commercial use (just to be sure). 

Step 2: Go to Google+ and click the "Share what's new..." box to start a new post. Click the "Photos" option to upload a photo from your computer, and upload the icon you want to use.  

Step 3:  Share the post with a private circle - preferably one that you set up with no one in it (before the 'favorites' option for G+ posts, I used an empty circle to share posts with myself that I wanted to read later). This way, you won't be annoying those that have you circled by sharing a little social media logo for some reason unknown to them.  

Step 4: Click on the individual post to grab the URL (sometimes a post will have an option in the drop down options that reads "link to this post". That's what you want.)

Step 5: Go to Gmail and click the gear icon on the upper right - choose "settings" from the drop down options. Scroll down until you reach your auto signature. Click the "Insert Image" icon, and paste in the URL from Google+. Once you have inserted your image, highlight the icon, click the "link" option, and type in the URL for the social media profile you are linking to. Scroll down and click "save changes"

Step 6: Test it out. Open a new mail message in Gmail and confirm that your icons are all there and working. It will look something like what you see in the image below.

That's all there is to it. Please give it a try, and let me know in the comments if you have problems, successes, or know of another great way to make these social media icons appear in your Gmail auto signature and bring more of your contacts into your social world.  

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The GoPro Camera Is Its Own Brilliant Marketing Machine

"It's a marketer's dream" - Nick Woodman on his product, the GoPro camera

That it is, Nick.

GoPro on Instagram
I hope you all had a chance to watch this great story on the founder of GoPro from 60 Minutes after football Sunday evening. Nick Woodman (one of America's newest billionaires, according to the piece) gave his account of how the idea for the camera came about, the hard work that went into building the business, and the extreme variation of applications the camera has seen over the time it has been on the market.

The footage included throughout the story is truly amazing, and would make you want to go out and purchase one of these to take everywhere with you if you haven't already.

What really interested me though was the way the +GoPro camera has been marketed to the public. Here are some of the highlights that jumped out at me as to why it works.

GoPro on Instagram

  • It's visual-based - The GoPro is inherently a viral-friendly product that produces great word-of-mouth advertising for the brand. It records high-quality video and captures vivid still images, both of which have high shareable value on popular social networks like Instagram and YouTube.
  • The customer creates the content - Because of the social nature of photos and videos as mentioned above, GoPro is able to use social media to source marketable material from their own users. Users apply their own creativity to capture a variety of moments using the camera, as they would with any other camera. Though the bar here is a bit higher because the GoPro itself drives people to try something new and different, to outdo each other in one way or another. For GoPro, the best part of tapping into their users is that the content is free, authentic, and continuous.
  • Relevant Sponsorhips - The target segment for the GoPro camera are still athletes of extreme sports and outdoor adventurers. The company even builds bundles of their products for customers on its website based on specific activities. To continue having success in this niche market, GoPro makes themselves visible to these customers. They sponsor extreme athletes as well as competitions, and use the opportunity to make their own branded videos that inspire their users.

+GoPro  is a great product that has grown into a highly successful brand. The marketing behind it succeeds because it is authentic, fun, and inviting. It also just so happens to be the kind of product that plays right into today's world of self-documentation and shareable moments online. A true marketer's dream.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What Legacy Does NBA Commissioner David Stern Leave Behind?

In February 2014, David Stern will step down as commissioner of the NBA, leaving the business to his Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver. Stern's shoes will be hard to fill.

He's not without his faults, of course. But, looking at his history in the league since 1984 there is little doubt that David Stern was a visionary that did amazing things for the sport...and the business of sport. A great profile in MediaPost on Tuesday broke down many of his successes, as well as some more trying times. Here are a few highlights he presided over in his career: 

  • Basketball is now truly an international sport with games being broadcast in over 200 countries and territories across the world
  • NBA teams are now worth an average of $400 million, versus $11-19 million when he began his tenure
  • He brought about the "Dream Team" filling the USA Olympic basketball team with professional players
  • He oversaw the expansion of the league to include 7 new teams - two in Canada
  • He developed the WNBA
  • He established enormously profitable partnerships, allowing companies like Nike and Gatorade to align themselves with the NBA brand increasing their own equity tremendously.  

As a marketer, David Stern is someone to admire. He had a grand vision of bringing the game of basketball to every corner of the world. He did just that, and built one hell of a brand along the way. What are your thoughts on his legacy from a marketing/business perspective? What about from a sports fan's perspective? 

3 Great Ways To Right A Wrong With Customers

Mistakes happen. As much as we may work on our strategy, plan out our tactics, and execute with a goal of flawlessness, things do not always go smoothly. Like Paul Giamatti says, we're human. Oh, and technology isn't perfect. It breaks. A lot. So, something things happen. 

What matters more than the mistake though is the correction. Yesterday, I received a strange email from Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Football that was soon followed by an explanation that not only made me laugh, but left me with a better impression of the brand than if an error had never been made at all. Yeah, so I lost big in week 9. So, what? That's not the point. Yahoo! won me over because they followed a few simple principles which can be applied to many customer service situations. They are as follows: 

  1. Own up to mistakes - This advice was given to most of us as children. It absolutely applies when dealing with customers. A customer doesn't want you to pass blame or deny responsibility. And, ignoring a mistake is risky because that may be the last impression you leave on your customer. So, admit fault and apologize before taking action.  
  2. Laugh it off - Some situations call for a more serious approach, of course. But, if it's something small you can laugh at yourself for, go for it every time. Inject a little humor to the situation, and show your customer you're human. 
  3. Deliver the goods - When all is said and done, the customer must be satisfied. Give them what they were expecting to get at the beginning of this interaction, and all is usually forgiven. If expectations go unfulfilled, this could be the last time you get that customer's business, and they just might tell a few friends.
I'll be sticking with Yahoo! for my league next year, partially due to this little fumble. You can see a shot of their email below. What tactics do you employ to right a wrong for your customer?

Monday, November 4, 2013

10 Tips For Improving Social Media Content (Infographic)

Yesterday, I began following a Twitter handle called @urtweetsrbad for fun. It's simply a handle that retweets brand tweets that leave a lot to be desired, and do not represent the kind of engagement with followers that will ever lead to sales. Something similar has existed on Facebook for a while on a page called Condescending Corporate Brand Page. Both are worth checking out if you want some entertainment, and possible shame for taking the same approach with your brand's fan base.

To combat these mistakes of asking your followers to "Hit 'like' if you hate Mondays" or tweeting "Friday, where have you been? #TGIF" take a look at the quick, simple tips below. These are very easy to follow if you're not completely lazy, and creates better content that breaks through the clutter, delivers value, and hopefully inspires action. That's why we use social media after all, right?

BONUS TIP For Google+ Users: #9 on this list is to overlay text on an image that you share. It gives you a suggested resource to do this. But, don't worry if you're not great with those tools yet. Google+ is the only network I know of that allows users to upload an image, and add a text overlay right there with the click of a button. Easy. Also, each Google+ post has its own unique URL, so you can even use that link to share with your other networks.

How to improve social media updates?
Explore more infographics like this one on the web's largest information design community - Visually.