Here at EI, we see plenty of startups looking to evangelize innovations. From augmented reality and health tech to the Internet of Things, a slew of new products and services are revolutionizing responses to both consumer needs and industry pain points. But the unfortunate truth is that 75% of these ventures will fail due to issues involving the brand’s business model, approach or focus.
For those looking to break into the competitive technology space, avoiding these common pitfalls will serve you well:
- Don’t aim for disruption. Aim for enhancement.
There’s an old guard protecting the landscape and a variety of organizations who believe they can disrupt it. What most do not realize is that the marketplace is already experiencing immense changes that can be categorized as less of a “disruption” and more so “business as usual” with a twist. Sure, there are technologies and behaviors that are altering many aspects of the business. And of course, there are industry giants poised to take on specific elements in the space. But the bottom line is that there are very smart, well-financed and protected organizations that are capable of rolling with the punches. Smart startups will seek to pinpoint challenges within the tech sector and craft innovations to address them. They will not look to upend a very profitable system, but seek to enhance it. Ultimately, they will figure out compelling ways to affect positive changes while realizing that disruption is not the key to success.
- Proof of concept is king.
The technology world is a hype-filled place. The industry is fast-paced, ever-changing and offers plenty of monetary gain, so there’s plenty of people constantly trying to enter it. Some of them are great marketers, but that doesn’t mean their products will live up to the excitement they manage to create about them. If your organization is unable to provide a tangible product, all the hype in the world won’t help you. Even before promotional efforts begin, you must prove your technology actually works. There is no such thing as “we’re working out a few kinks.” If a product is ready, it’s ready; and if it’s not, it’s not. On top of proving this validity, a company must also prove the business case. In fact, this is the single most important task for any emerging tech brand. Your business case should be well-structured to perfectly capture the reason and need for your product. In this industry, the folks that live up to the hype and present a proof of concept are the ones that will flourish.
- Jump off the buzzword bandwagon for success that is not short-lived.
All too often, startups, innovators and well-established companies will create and innovate new products based on buzzwords alone. The problem with this approach is that buzzwords are fads, and by the time a product finally goes to market there may already be another buzzword in its place. Seeking to capitalize on specific trends is a short-term strategy based on novelty that doesn’t have any real staying power. Marketing a product solely built around a temporary buzzword is not only a giant gamble that typically doesn’t pay off, it’s also a crutch for the less creative to lean on. Instead of relying on words that may be huge today and gone tomorrow, create your own terms that will allow for profitable results.
Any promising startup can make these common mistakes, which is why we are here to help assist with creating and executing the best marketing strategy for your innovative product or service. By keeping these major blunders in mind while working to craft a paramount business approach, we’ll have the best possible chance of successfully launching you and your product into the technology marketplace.
An article based on Emerging Insider’s deep dive into the purchasing habits of China’s affluent population was just featured by Jen King in Jing Daily. It includes data and insights from our CEO about how wealthy Chinese mobile users interact with brands…and why that should matter to marketers.
To read the full story, click here.
In a mobile world where so many of our interactions have become digitized, there’s still a lot to be said for humanized conversations. The findings of a recent study by RingPartner made this especially evident by garnering numbers that should make modern day marketers look up from their smartphones and pay attention.
RingPartner is a performance marketing network that works with digital publishers to deliver millions of inbound consumer calls to advertisers. That put them in the unique position to analyze hundreds of thousands of these connections made each month to better understand how consumers want to interact with businesses over the phone.
Based on this research, the company found the desire to have actual conversations with brands is on the rise, with consumers spending an average of 113% more time on the phone with businesses in 2017 than they did in 2016. The report goes on to break down what this means for different industries and how seasonality affects both call volume and conversion rates throughout the year.
The bottom line is that consumers still want to reach out and touch someone. It is your organization’s responsibility to ensure your marketing, sales and customer service strategies allow for that opportunity and make it the best possible experience.
The full report can be downloaded here.
If you’re looking to reach China’s massive luxury goods market, you can’t just translate your ads into Chinese. Of course, good translations are very important and can help avoid unfortunate mistakes like that time Pepsi accidentally claimed to bring dead people back to life. But translations alone simply aren’t enough to be successful. The key to an effective communications plan for business opportunities abroad is cultural sensitivity.
China’s consumers have unique feelings about social status, relationships and even leisure activities that necessitate a tailored approach to advertising. If you don’t take the time to understand and then incorporate these tastes into your messaging, you will alienate your audience and eliminate ROI. You will also end up featured as a “Chinese Marketing Fail” on a fine blog like this one. On that note, here are three examples of brands that screwed up launching campaigns in China:
When eBay came to China in 2004, the brand hoped to take customers away from e-retailer Alibaba which at the time was helping small companies run online businesses. In an effort to dominate the market, eBay launched aggressive campaigns, even signing exclusive rights with major web portals that would block their competitors’ ads. It was a savage move that didn’t pay off and the reason they say “know your audience.” Because Alibaba executives recognized that China’s small business people preferred watching TV over surfing the Internet during their downtime. So they invested heavily in television campaigns promoting their new auction site, Taobao. These efforts soon made Taoboa a household name, allowing it to heavily outpace its American counterpart and forcing eBay to wave the white flag in 2006.
2. Home Depot
With home ownership on the rise in China, entering this market seemed like a no-brainer to Home Depot. But six years later, they managed to evict themselves. The company failed on several fronts including a lack of marketing that targeted Chinese women, who often make the final decisions about home décor purchases. Home Depot also greatly overestimated these consumers’ desires to “do it yourself,” a major messaging point in much of the brand’s advertising. Because manual labor is considered the trade of lower-class citizens, this was off-putting to new home buyers. By ignoring these important aspects of local culture, and trying to make middle class Chinese people do their own renovations, Home Depot never effectively connected with this audience.
Despite spending a whopping $432 million on marketing, Groupon failed in China and it wasn’t because the people there didn’t want to pay deeply discounted prices for concert tickets and hair removal services. They already had successful group-buying sites. Groupon was unable to bite into that business due to a lack of cultural understanding reflected in many aspects of their downfall, from their inability to steal executive talent away from competitors to their difficulty trying to build vendor partnerships. Not only did they scare off prospects during sales pitches by demanding much higher percentages than typical of the market, they also insisted on using mass email campaigns to target business owners because this had worked for them when expanding into Europe. But because Chinese small business owners do not typically read such marketing emails, Groupon’s efforts in China fell flatter than an unstuffed dumpling.
Chinese consumers can differ greatly from those in America. Ultimately, if your organization wants to capitalize on advertising opportunities in China, you’ll make efforts to understand the needs and preferences of its citizens. Because as even some of the biggest U.S. brands like Pepsi have learned, cultural sensitivity can make or break a campaign…especially when you promise to reincarnate your consumers.
When was the last time you got excited about direct mail?
When you think of direct mail you hardly think of something immersive or engrossing, since the experience is most often limited to what you’re seeing in your hand or on a surface in front of you.
However, with a virtual reality (VR) direct mail viewer you can turn every phone into a conversation with your experience right in the middle of it.
So far VR has shown that it can effectively help people visualize the future, spark empathy, grasp more complex concepts, and communicate stories in compelling ways.
For example, VR has the potential to help us become “better people”.
When VR direct mail is a good opportunity
I’m regularly tasked with thinking of new marketing experiments to capture value for a new product or business. Often these experiments look at testing marketing channels like email, search engine and social media to help the buyer along the buyer journey.
Direct mail is rarely one of these channels. However, direct mail with virtual reality capabilities has moved into an experiment worth considering if certain conditions are met:
- You’re a business with a mailing list that is current and targeted.
- You have a high degree of certainty the recipient fits the characteristics of a high probability buyer or influencer like an existing member, employee, donor, etc.
- The expected benefit of the experiment is greater than the cost of running the experiment.
- The expected benefit = increase in a key metric x probability of success.
Expected benefits of VR direct mail
An expected benefit is likely greater in a VR direct mail campaign when aimed further down the funnel like a new purchase, increase size of purchase and/or shortening of the purchase cycle. It could also be targeting referrals or even just retention.
Keep in mind that you’ll likely need to report on what direct mail has long been measured against, like response rates, cost per lead and cost per acquisition, which includes cost per unit plus all the other costs to produce and manage the campaign.
Since VR direct mail is a digital medium, it can provide insights from the analytics that might factor into the expected benefits you seek. Analytics in VR technology is, unsurprisingly, focused primarily on eye-tracking heat maps. An eye heat map data visualization helps to understand where people are most engaged throughout the experience. This data also provides meaningful clues to what viewers might be missing that you originally intended for them to see or spend more time on items you may not deem relevant. It is ideal to do some testing prior to mailing because the data itself can inform you to make better decisions in other marketing efforts.
Some VR campaigns include video so expect standard video analytics to be a part of measuring engagement.
Risks to avoid when using VR Direct Mail
New technology often gets sucked into the trap of coming across as gimmicky if not done correctly. It is wise to fully adapt and take advantage of the strengths of the medium. If your work is not contributing to the overall enhancement of the experience, then you shouldn’t use it.
Avoiding the Gimmicky Trap:
- VR is not about putting products into alluring 3-D spaces but building an engaging experience.
- The idea is not to have someone look at an advertisement for a bit longer than they typically would. The experience should be exploratory. The user should be in control of the experience, not the advertiser.
Suggested campaign types
Keeping the buying process in mind, here are some suggestions on what to consider when creating, not only an exciting experience, but a meaningful expected benefit for your first VR direct mail campaign.
- Interactive Tours — Let your customers choose their own adventure while their data tells you how to plan your roadmap.
- VR Post Cards in Giftshops — Your special exhibits can be brought home to share and cherish as collectible designs.
- Supercharged Showroom — Customers can look under the hood with just a glance and schedule a test drive before the dealer even opens.
- 3D Model Previews — Invite your VIPs to the grand opening and let them pre-order your reserve stock.
- Contextual Surveys — Know what your customers really want so you can offer incentives that truly make an impact.
- Attention Research — Learning what draws your audience’s eyes during a screening let’s you change the story before it ever goes to market.
- Mass Customization — Speak to every fan through custom covers and original content synced to each card.
- Event Updates — If your customers already have a VR Card, keep the conversation going with fresh content and incentives before the big day.
Hands on examples of how VR can win over an audience
Virtual reality can help you communicate “a day in the life” experience in a very effective way. Here are two examples:
- Planned Parenthood created a VR film ‘Across the Line’ to effectively communicate “the experience of verbal harassment the organization’s employees and patients routinely endure on the way to a clinic’s front door.”
- The Golden State Warriors pitched Kevin Durant with a VR tour of the team’s practice facility and new stadium.
Where to go from here
If you are on a tight budget you could look to VR direct mail to deliver a meaningful impact. Consider all campaign types and review the optimal conditions listed above to determine if you’re in a good position to pitch this type of campaign in a future marketing experiment.
Best of luck!
Interested in learning more about virtual reality? Take a look at the VR AR industry from inside.com which recently included this handy summary on the future of VR.
By 2020 there will be around 42 million VR headsets globally and this will revolutionize the business world, from making hardware type televisions obsolete to letting people attend live concerts from their living rooms. – THE DRUM
Mitchell Posada, Founder & Senior Product Consultant of LeanStart.io
Mitchell Posada runs a CMO as A Service consulting firm LeanStart.io focused on scaling tech-enabled businesses. Mitch has spent most of his career launching digital products and helping businesses leverage technology and process innovation to transform brands and increase ROI. Mitch is known for his Product and Growth strategy and execution consulting to dozens of start-ups in mobile, IoT, digital marketplaces, and sports. Mitch is currently a mentor at 2112inc.com, MatterChicago.com, 1871.com, Super G Accelerator, and Xberts.com. Formerly VP of Marketing at PathfinderSoftware.com, a healthcare software development company. Prior experience with large enterprise includes DHL WorldWide, WellsFargo, Best Buy, AdMob/Google, Humana, Nestle, HP, and IDT Telecom. Mitch earned his M.B.A. from the Haas School of Business at U.C. Berkeley.
With: Alexandra Thielke, Co-Founder of Twentyfive & Thirty
After this year’s installment of Cannes Lions, we had the pleasure to do a 1-on-1 interview with the co-founder of “world-traveling” agency Twentyfive & Thirty, Alexandra Thielke. Haven’t heard of the 2-person creative agency? Check out their feature in AdWeek!
Here’s the scoop:
Was this your first time at Cannes Lions? Would you agree that this festival is the most rewarding annual event creative professionals can attend?
“This was our 3rd time at Cannes Lions. This is definitely an inspiring event to attend for all creative professionals. This event sets the tone of what is trending and what will be the tendencies in the year to come. So many inspiring people are gathered to share and discuss their point of view of the creative industry. We believe that this is one of the most educating events you can possibly attend.”
In 3 words, please describe this year’s festival.
“International. Inspiring. Rosé.”
Major brands like Burger King and John Lewis brought home the Lions Grand Prix. Out of all participating campaigns, which one stood out to you the most?
“The Swedish number – A campaign created for the Swedish Tourist Association, where they made a number anyone in the world can call to ask about Sweden, which will be connected to any random Swede who have signed up to participate and represent their native country.”
“Breast cancer awareness – The Manboobs campaign takes on social media censorship of female breasts by demonstrating how to do a breast self-exam using a man. We just thought it was so well made, clever and hilarious!”
What was the overarching topical theme at this year’s festival? What was the buzz?
“Virtual reality and 360 video was to be found everywhere – It is really taking off! Passion that beats talent, and the collaboration between agencies and clients was a strong topic at this year’s festival as well”
Cannes Lions always attracts a plethora of celebrities. From Will Smith to Martha Stewart. Would you say that any of this year’s keynote speakers managed to capture what branding and creativity means today?
“Absolutely. One of our favorites was Will Smith. Besides his amazing ability to capture his audience and set a relaxed “down to earth” mood, he had some really good points on how to manage a brand and how social media has changed the entire ball game. One of his main points was the change in running a company, and the increased expectancy of full transparency where companies these days are forced to be completely honest and create good wholesome products. If they don’t, their flaws run the risk of being spread across social media in no time.”
What was the most extravagant occurrence during the festival? Any helicopter entrances or outdoor cirque du soleil performances?
“Our most extraordinary experience was delivered by SNASK who made their talk dressed as a rock band. They just look cool and make great work.”
Lastly, what are the thoughts and ideas you will bring back with you to your creative agency?
“We found the subject on collaboration between agency and client very interesting. We had many discussions about this and how relationships need to change to be more honest and close. There were definitely points that support the way we want to – and already work. Especially the thoughts on working “as a team” instead of accepting the traditional client – supplier relationship.”
“The possibilities with Facebook live and 360 video was also very inspiring and is something that we were already looking into before, but now something we will be looking even closer to get involved in. It is clear that advertising is changing from “making ads” to “solving problems”. As creatives, this is something we maintain a strong focus on so it was very inspiring to see and seeing what others are doing gave us tons of inspiration.”
Alexandra Thielke, Co-Founder & Strategic Planner of Twentyfive & Thirty
Twentyfive & Thirty is the world’s smallest global creative agency set out to challenge the way traditional ad agencies work while fulfilling a dream of traveling the world. It is an agency without a fixed address, without fixed work hours but with the flexibility to work whenever they are needed, wherever they want, and with clients from all over the world. This means they often work with their clients without ever meeting them in person.
By: Colin Petrie-Norris, CEO of Xumo
As well-adjusted adults, we may have learned to suppress our self-indulgent tendencies in favor of social etiquette, but that doesn’t mean the inner voice demanding instant gratification is ever truly silenced. I don’t know about you, but my inner voice sounds remarkably like Queen:
“I want it all.
I want it all.
I want it all.
And I want it now!”
The time has come to take these words to heart.
“On-demand” (as it relates to products and services) is something that has characterized the last couple of decades, but the truth is, we—as a consumer culture—have always desired and championed on-demand access to the various things we consume. This is why disruptive tech and business models like Amazon Prime and Uber are so successful. Today’s connected consumers know exactly what they want, when they want it, and where to get it—and successful brands are the ones that are able to deliver on all counts. This intersection of technology and an on-demand culture represents a great shift in how brands win customers. The customer experience is paramount, and convenience is the name of the game—and this attitude is changing the parameters of success across all industries.
The television industry is no exception. Not only do people watch less TV than they used to, cable companies are raising prices in a desperate attempt to offset demand, pushing viewers even further away. Still, TV revenue is expected to grow by five percent until 2017. Why, despite lower viewership, is TV still likely to come out a winner? Because consumers’ appetite for unique engaging content is increasing and digital services are picking up the slack that traditional multichannel video programming distributors (i.e. cable and satellite providers) are leaving behind. In fact, eMarketer estimates that 93.7 percent of millennial Internet users will watch digital video content in 2016, a number that is expected to grow as digital content becomes more relevant and accessible.
In response to this upswing in interest for on-demand content, major players in the publishing sphere are stepping up their digital video presence and increasing production on the kinds of content viewers want to consume. Hugely popular digital brands like Buzzfeed, Vogue, and GQ now have channels that are accessible directly on TVs, with no cable bill required. This content extends beyond movies and traditionally formatted shows, and encompasses everything from news, podcasts, educational videos, and more—all of which can be viewed on connected TVs, on demand, and across devices with seamless viewing experiences.
So what’s making this new way to TV possible? The answer is OTT (over-the-top) services that are surfacing content that more and more people actually want to watch and making it easily accessible all in one go. It’s estimated that 72.1 percent of US Internet users will use OTT video services by 2019 (nearing saturation of the market), indicating a dramatic new direction for television as we know it. Indeed, consumers are no longer bound by (or bundled into paying for) the programs and schedules mandated by cable and satellite providers. Instead, they’re gravitating towards technology that enables them to access the exact types of content they want, when and how they want to view it. This is the reason that cord-cutting attrition more than doubled in 2015, netting pay-TV companies a loss of 385,000 subscribers—and it also explains why Internet-connected TV ownership saw a 14 percent surge between 2014 and 2015.
The Digital Age has granted each of us greater access to information and insights into pretty much everything we could ever want, which provides us with valuable leverage against competing brands; those that can’t give individual consumers more of what they want will lose out to brands that can. The new era of TV is a perfect example. Instead of being stuck watching and paying for content that isn’t relevant, technology is helping to create platforms that are united for the purpose of delivering the best experience for each individual consumer. These collaborative partnerships help both brands and consumers get a step closer to the promise of “I want it now.” It is definitely an exciting time for the empowering Freddie Mercury voice in all of us and it means that instead of resentfully paying for a bunch of programs and services we don’t care about, we can all sit back, relax, and be free to TV any way we want.
Colin Petrie-Norris, CEO of Xumo
As CEO of Xumo, Colin believes that getting content to television needs to be democratized. He has successfully partnered with the world’s largest television manufacturers to revolutionize the way TVs are programmed. With traditional Linear TV viewership declining, he recognized the need to change things up. As a result, he spearheaded an initiative that combined Linear TV with over-the-top (OTT) content creating a viewing experience that put content and the viewer first. Colin has led a team of engineers to create Xumo, an intelligent and intuitive application that seamlessly integrates with Smart TVs, smartphones, tablets and desktops. Colin has also demonstrated expertise in content development by successfully brokering several relationships with Digital Networks, Traditional Media Brands, multi-channel networks and individual Makers to make the most sought after digital content available through Xumo—streamable on any device. His extensive background in establishing and building worldwide advertising networks has afforded him insider knowledge on how to best monetize digital content that is then passed along to each partner. To learn more about Xumo and Colin’s plans for the company, visit www.xumo.com.
Photo Source: Gable Denims
Are you making the right investments?
It is not an easy task to figure out what is and what isn’t a sound investment in your daily life, yet alone when crafting a marketing campaign.
The below chart has been compiled by industry experts to help bring you some clarity on what to add to your marketing mix this year.
If you are interested in how to make investments for the future
feel free to send us a message
The cardinal rules for writing an effective pitch that will appeal to journalists and is destined for the headlines rather than the trash.
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In the future, 2015 may be known in the advertising industry as the Year of Ad Blocking. The technology has been around for years, but Apple’s move to blockers on mobile devices has caused it to erupt in popularity and notoriety, with paid blocker apps ranking in the Apple Store’s top spots just a day after they were made available. The apps’ popularity means that if advertisers were previously turning a blind eye to ad blockers, they have no choice but to address the situation now.
In a recent piece for Bulldog Reporter, Emerging Insider Communications CEO Zachary Weiner reflects on three ways ad blockers will affect PR professionals. Instead of panicking and wringing your hands about ad blocking’s ability to upturn the entire industry, head over to Bulldog Reporter to read what you can expect in coming years.