Entrepreneur Report- Shannon Stowell, president of the Adventure Travel Trade Association

Established in 1990, the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) serves more than 900 members in 80 countries worldwide. Members predominantly include tour operators, tourism boards, specialty agents and accommodations with a vested interest in the sustainable development of adventure tourism.

The market the ATTA is pursuing is adventure travel industry. Because the ATTA has a strong orientation towards low impact travel and less harm to the environment, the ATTA also positions itself in eco-travel industry, which is defined as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education”. (TIES, 2015)

Ten years ago, when Shannon bought the company, adventure travel industry has already existed. However, there was no company that dealt with adventure travel seriously and the quality of the service was bad. As a result, the ATTA was unique back to that time. Now, the adventure travel industry is much more developed, the volume of adventure travel tourists is booming very fast. The globalization development also advances the international tourism.

The ATTA delivers solutions and connections that propel members towards their business goals and the industry toward a responsible and profitable future. The ATTA excels in professional learning, networking and partnering services. With expertise in research, education, adventure travel industry news and promotion, members of the ATTA receive competitive opportunities that help establish them as leaders in adventure tourism.

Because when Shannon came to the board, there were already several business partners, he did not need to find the first customer. However, their clients were not satisfied with their service of the time, that was the critical issue facing him. To deal with the issue, he began to talk to every clients and hear what their demands were, what they envisioned from ATTA. The financial cycle was bad at the first year, there was small income, so Shannon and one full time junior assistant and one half time staff had to cut down their budget a lot. By sincerely listening to people’s feedback, things began to pay back after three years. For now, the ATTA have 16 full time employees, 5 part time staff and 5 contract employees.

For marketing channels for the public, they have platforms in Facebook, Tweeter, Instagram, Google Plus and Youtube. Email is also a frequent and suitable tool for the ATTA. Now, it has 20,000 professional to register the ATTA email serve list. Since the ATTA insists on a business to business model, it develops their customer normally through one to one conversation. Built on interpersonal communications, Shannon believes that this can be a strong and competitive tradition for ATTA to compete with other companies. They use Sales Force, a tool to track customer relationship, to manage their clients. This tool helps them record all the conversations, how complexity the conversation is, how people meet, what service clients want to or have purchase from ATTA, and who to contact. The ATTA also has its own channel the HUB, The Adventure Travel Social Network, working as a networking forum and new business development tool.

ATTA Website: http://www.adventuretravel.biz/

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Entrepreneur Report – Nussbaum Group

nussbaumgroup

Lead by landscape architect Dale Nussbaum, the Nussbaum Group has taken landscape construction and maintenance to a whole new level.   While they do not design the landscapes they do provide the following services for residential and commercial clients: collaborative landscape construction services, comprehensive organic landscape maintenance services, efficient year-round maintenance of all types of irrigation and landscape lighting systems, annual color and container designs and installation, and holiday and event lighting.

The landscape construction and maintenance market is nothing new. The Nussbaum Group however is dedicated to an elevated attention to quality and success. Dale’s experience as a landscape architect positions him as an expert in the process of landscape design and implementation. Adept at speaking the languages of design and construction Dale has his company more valuable to his clients than a typical contractor. At first glance the Nussbaum Group feels more like a design firm than contractors. This is what sets them apart and has allowed them to disrupt the market.

The Nussbaum Group straddles and interesting line between B2B and B2C. While their end clients typically are high-end residences and small commercial spaces, most of the Nussbaum Group’s marketing efforts are directed at the design firms that bring them into a project. These firms ultimately act as evangelists passing the Nussbaum Group on to their own clients where they work together to install landscapes, and the Nussbaum Group continues to work maintaining the landscapes they’ve built.

To reach the firms that bring them into projects the Nussbaum Group relies primarily on referrals and direct contact through office visits and trade shows. These efforts directly reflect their commitment to quality and service. From a branding perspective their goal is to “look smart and appeal to the high design sensibilities of Architects and Landscape Architects.” Quality comes through in everything from their sleek graphics and consistent branding, down to the weight and finish of their paper stock.   In addition to the typical logo and pantone associations to their branding the Nussbaum Group has adopted chocolate as a key element in their marketing.

One super fun strategy they have employed, Dale refers to as “Doughnut Marketing”. They bring doughnuts to design firms around town that they do or would like to do business with. This allows the Nussbaum Group to stay present in the companies’ minds, and it facilitates an ongoing conversation unbounded by the constraints of a formal meeting. As their ability to collaborate is key to the Nussbaum Group’s offerings these conversations are all the more important.

http://nussbaum-group.com/home.html

Panel Write Up: Optimizing Pricing and Distribution Plans

Panel Write Up: Optimizing Pricing and Distribution Plans
Team ClearHome (Heather Lewis, Jeff Kinney, Mary Ke, Sarah Abramowitz, Sungjoon Kim, Michael Pamphlet)

Introduction
This past Monday, our class was fortunate to hear from three very accomplished and visionary entrepreneurial thought leaders; Leigh McMillan, VP of Marketing at Avvo, Steve Banfield, Digital Executive at Rightside, and Brant Williams, Founder of Tenacious Offense and Guided Products. The panel was a split discussion, first focused on pricing and distribution and then around customer retention and referrals. Each of these topics is relevant to our class start-ups as we begin to explore what it actually  looks like to take our products to market, and retain the amount of growth and engagement that we have established through our digital marketing efforts thus far.

Key Insights
The speakers gave great advice during our discussions of pricing and distribution. They had a lot to say regarding the importance of choosing the right business model to drive pricing strategy, and understanding the pros and cons of online retail channels vs. brick and mortar stores,  as well as  the importance of SEO as part of distribution strategy.

Before landing on a pricing strategy, it is critical that we think about our business model. For ClearHome, we assumed that our product would be sold as a one-time purchase of the in-home air quality monitoring device and we would provide the app as just part of the deal. However, Brant Williams challenged us to think about whether we were selling the “razor” or the “blade”. In other words, are we focused on being profitable against the one-time purchase of the platform, or is the platform simply the open door for ongoing customer purchasing for services or add-on benefits?

In this vein, Leigh McMillan stated, “Once you have shown people there is something they can take advantage of, you have the ability to show them volume for other solutions. Get as many out there as possible and as we present problems to them with the mobile app, we make money on the backend as the entity providing the solution.” With just a business model, we may not price the device as high-end but instead competitively to increase our adoption. These were great points that our team has now taken into consideration. Similarly, she suggested that we make the app available for free download with limited functions. As users became more engaged with the app they would be encouraged to buy the hardware device in order to receive all the benefits of the product.

In thinking of distribution channels, it matters how we want to cut our profits across distributors and which channel would be most effective at getting the attention of our audience. Traditional retail may not make the most sense for us, considering the high margins taken by the stores and the fact that our potential customers are not yet aware of the ClearHome brand, and our device may suffer from bad placement on big box distributors’ shelves. Instead, we should leverage online retail to go directly to the consumer, and save significantly on shipping (single shipping for an online retailer such as Amazon, versus multiple shipping to a brick and mortar distributor). However, there are pros and cons to selling directly from our site and using other eCommerce platforms, such as Amazon. With our own site, we would not have the brand awareness to reach as many customers as established channels, like Amazon. However, with established channels comes cuts to profits. Online retailers are a friendlier place to distribute. Traditional retail usually results in a $10 sale price if the cost of goods is $1. Approximately 40% goes to distribution costs. Think about Pro.com and Porch, they are serving the connector role between consumers’ money and the services they want.

They also cautioned that if we do elect to go through traditional retail as a distribution channel, we have to be careful to avoid channel conflict. If we decide to later incorporate online sales and start selling our product online for a lower price than in stores, box retailers will be alienated and will be concerned about experiencing a drop in their margins.

We also were reintroduced to SEO as a channel strategy. This was a significant paradigm shift for many people in the class and on our team. Whereas, we often thought of SEO as the amplifier to a channel, Leigh McMillan positioned it as such a vital part of her lawyer business that it essentially was at the top of the channel strategy for her. According to Leigh,”You need to create liquidity in the market.” Her company created a free Q&A space, allowing consumers to get free answers to their questions from actual attorneys. This service was good for both customers (who received responses) and lawyers (whose expert answers worked as free advertising for their services). All the while this resulted in detailed, long-tail content which is valued highly by Google, particularly questions formatted as How Do I…? Leigh was strategic in her formatting, adding key words that would assist in the SEO, and she was careful not to tag duplicate content. Leigh also used referrals and offered a first-time complimentary service to new customers, resulting in more traffic and ultimately more search power to her site. Similarly, this quality SEO allowed her company to initially get around branding and recognition. Once this SEO strategy resulted in significant traffic, they then shifted to accelerating their growth which requires gaining consumer trust, by creating a known, recognizable brand. This multi-pronged SEO strategy could be a critical part of our ClearHome plan, especially with a new product space like home air quality assistants, because the market is not yet saturated.

Entrepreneur Report- OneBuild

OneBuild is a supplier, manufacturer, and real estate developer of prefabricated, steel residential units. The units are built in China and then shipped over to Seattle. The pods are then transferred over to the construction site and stacked on top of each other like Lego. This type of construction technology saves time and money, and has ultimately introduced a new construction method to the Pacific Northwest.

OneBuild’s one-bedroom units could be considered micro housing, as they are approximately 350 sf, while the two-bedroom units are 700 sf. The company is targeting individuals seeking an urban lifestyle, as the concept of OneBuild is ideal for infill, urban development. OneBuild is essentially disrupting an existing market and creating a new one. They are disrupting the current small sf unit size multifamily developments. Demanders of this type of space may view OneBuild as innovative and a more appealing option than the typical wood framed, relatively cheap construction of normal multifamily developments. OneBuild is also creating a new niche for themselves in the market with the goal of attracting new customers. This type of construction, while popular globally has not yet taken off in North America. It is OneBuild’s goal to attract new demanders of space through their unique approach of modular, prefabricated living.

OneBuild’s positioning is clearly defined by the innovative approach to construction and living that they offer their target market. It takes but one glance of their product to understand the uniqueness of their brand.

Belltown Apartment

N-Habit Belltown (www.onebuildinc.com)

Due to the small size of the units it is clear that this style of living is not for everyone. It is however, perfect for the young professional who values urban living, quality, and innovative technology.

OneBuild is trying to reach their consumers primarily through word of mouth and by physically visiting their projects. They have set up social media channels, but they truly feel that one cannot appreciate the uniqueness of their product without actually seeing it in person. It is OneBuild’s goal to continue to reveal that the construction industry can be revolutionized and that it is moving forward with cost and time effective construction techniques.

Entrepreneur Interview: Kevan Brown – Northwest Hoops Leagues

I decided to interview Kevan Brown – an entrepreneur who is currently enrolled in the Foster School of Business Evening MBA Program at the University of Washington. Kevan started Northwest Hoops Leagues: a Seattle based company that provides a high quality recreational basketball league for players 21 years and up. In addition to the competitive nature of the game, Kevan provides players with stats, a profile specific to each player, box scores, and photos accessible through Facebook and the League’s website (http://northwesthoopsleagues.com/). Unique from the other basketball leagues available to players, Kevan provides the entire schedule for each season so players can plan for games more in advance.

The type of market that the company is pursuing is a working professional who is physically active and has played basketball in the past. Kevan wants to bring a level of competition available for all skill levels. As mentioned above, the unique attributes of Kevan’s basketball league is providing the boxscore, stats, and player profile to each player. Kevan’s not trying to re-invent the wheel, but what he is doing is providing Seattle with a league unlike his own with the unique attributes that he provides his basketball players.

Going into year 2 of his basketball league, Kevan is continuing to position his company as a recognized brand within the recreational basketball community. His league is currently full, consisting of 10 teams and a waitlist of teams wanting to compete in future seasons. The Northwest Hoops League is now a recognizable brand, but it took Kevan time to experiment through several social channels for brand recognition. When Kevan first reached out to his first customers, he tried using Facebook Ads and bought ad space online to advertise his basketball league. Unfortunately, the success of these channels to attract new basketball players did not result in what Kevan was looking for. Instead, Kevan says that the best channel to get new basketball players and to grow his brand is through word of mouth from current players talking to their family and friends.

In talking to Kevan, I got a sense of the time, emotion, and energy he has put into his Northwest Hoops League. I want to thank Kevan for letting me interview his experience as an entrepreneur and I wish him the best of luck with his company and the pursuit of his MBA. Thanks again, Kevan!

Retention and Referral – Panel Write up

Team AlControl (Henry Olson, Carl Petrillo, Ryan Delacruz, Damian Moreno)

Panel Write up – Referral and Retention (Leigh, Steve, and Brant)

This panel was a pleasure to oversee. The three speakers had a great connection that carried the discussion with very little help from the panelists. While there were many fantastic points made, we would like to focus on three ideas that were brought up regarding retention and referral.

Retention – The best way to retain your customers is by continually astounding them with new content. As a company, you want them to be thinking about how lucky they are to have found your service or product. Retention strategies based on making it difficult for them to leave your service will work but only for a short time. When another service comes along that lets them do without you, they will leave.

Referral – Referral strategies boil down to making a great product and politely giving the client the opportunity to spread the word about you. Referral is much more effective when you simply ask if there is anyone they know who might want this product. You should not bog down the customer with survey requests on your performance as this will seem tedious and they will then be less likely to refer you to their network.

Referral – Offering a reward for referring a new client can be a great way to get people to bring in new customers for you but you must always make the reward match the target group. Brant mentioned a shirt designing company that sold $300 dollar shirts but offered a $20 referral reward. While $20 is nice for a student, if you are buying $300 shirts, it is almost meaningless. In this case, the referral reward wound up being small enough that Brant was unwilling to refer his friend as it would seem odd when his friend found out that he had gotten $20 for it.

These are just a few of the stories and ideas we walked away with. The three speakers seamed very knowledgeable and would have been easy to talk to for hours rather than just the 45 min we had.

These ads are following me

It wasn’t difficult to find a few content advertisements based on my browsing history. One of the ads following me lately is for SmartThings, a product that I discovered while doing research for class. It has been showing up regularly for two weeks. This instance appeared on the Puget Sound Business Journal. SmartThings Ad Another product that appeared today on Facebook is a Mitsubishi Ductless Heat Pump. A few days ago, I looked up Mitsubishi product specifications for one of my projects at work. Thanks for the reminder, Mitsubishi—I didn’t finish what I was working on. Mitsubishi DHP Ad Finally, here’s one more that is legitimately for a product that I shopped. This mod sofa looks cool, but the reviews for this brand were not convincing. It’s a no-go. LexMod Sofa Ad

Are the ads effective? It’s a mixed bag. We learn to ignore them because they often are irrelevant. I think more focused targeting and lower frequency could make many of them more effective.

The Feminism T-Shirt

Recently I saw a colleague wearing a black, perfectly shrunken t-shirt with white lettering that read, “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people”. It was one part Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, one part history, and of course a little sarcasm. I liked it enough to want to have one to wear around the house or in very casual settings, so I looked it up online. I found the company that manufactures it and, despite the relatively low cost, decided that I didn’t really need it. Then it popped up on my Facebook feed, the right column on the New York Times’ website, and again when I was checking my email. That last time- when I was checking my email a new piece of text flashed across it, “Today, 30% off”. It had been a cheap t-shirt to start with, so this extra incentive was enough to make me buy. Last night I ordered one.

Clearly in this case the additional advertising (and the sale) led me to buy the t-shirt. What I find that this form of advertising does most effectively on a consistent basis, is keep products on my mind for longer than they otherwise would be. When it comes to consumer goods, I have a very short attention span. In a physical location, I can like something and forget about it very quickly. The online reminder that I like something does probably make me more likely to buy products, or at least help those products make it to a “want” list hidden somewhere on my laptop.

Targeted Ads Blog Post #4

I am an avid user of Facebook, and have received the occasional targeted ad on Facebook that is relevant to my recent browser history. I was not not able to reproduce this for this assignment however.  I had been looking at apple products recently, and shop a lot on jack threads, but the recent ads I get in the side bar of Facebook have not been even remotely relevant to my browsing behaviors.  The ones shown below are the first two ads I see when I open Facebook.  They unfortunately have no relevance to me.  Facebook ads in general have become invisible to me recently.  It seems like my brain has learned to zone out ads, and so I do not even notice them anymore.  I cannot remember the last time, an ad has caught my attention on Facebook as of recent.  The off chance that the ad does come up, I rarely click on them.  Maybe it has something to do with my personality, in terms of myself not being so much of an impulse buyer, but rather shopping only if I’m in need, and buying only for that need.  Considering the effectiveness of these ads, I do believe they are efficient.  More so especially, than random advertisements such as the lawn service and insurance ads below.

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 5.26.41 PM

“I already bought the SWEATER!”

Recently, I purchased a “men’s active wear” sweater from Old Navy online. Now, on certain blogs I visit, I keep getting fed ads for THE EXACT SAME SWEATER—and, from GAP, which is apparently owned by the same parent company. I’m not sure if Old Navy knows that I purchased the sweater (and wants me to buy another), or if it’s trying to make sure I close on the deal.

In any event, I’ve often found the exact same item I was looking at Amazon fed to me in an ad—only to think to myself, “yeah, I know about the Samsung 256 GB SSD, that’s why I was admiring it on Amazon—but am just not ready to buy.” In fact, now that I think about it, I’ve NEVER purchased anything that I “found” via a targeted ad, but did visit/make purchases that were later included in targeted ads.

Blog #4: Advertisement Analysis

I have noticed that on the sponsored ads section of Facebook, I most often see ads about Microsoft or the fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma. This isn’t very surprising to me because I work at Microsoft and I am also a member of the fraternity. Paying more attention to these ads, it is impressive to see how the companies, in partnership with Facebook, has been able to interpret my behavior on the social app and my associations to target me for the right ads.

I acknowledge both the ad channel and the promoting company in this. Facebook has taken advantage of its access to millions of people’s social networking and online searching behavior and it providing companies with the ability to target many different segment types. For example, since the fraternity wanted to target its members, the most granular level of targeting Facebook might have been able to provide is “people associated or actively socializing with a sorority or fraternity”, but instead they allow you to target a specific fraternity or sorority, making the relevance of the ads much stronger.

Below is a photo to show as an example.

Facebook_Ad

Blog #4 – Retargeting

Products: I used to shop in Macy’s online store. Recently I just searched for boots on Macy’s website and clicked on the product I’m interested in and stayed on that webpage for couple of minutes. Several minutes later when I logged on my Facebook page, that pair of boots appeared on the right hand side of my Facebook page.Screen shot 2015-02-09 at 4.33.09 PM

Services: I just joint Marketing Profs as a member and have searched for its online courses. Several days later when I happened to go to gigaom.com to read a marketing article, the online course provided by Marketing Profs appeared on that webpage. Another example is about Marketo. I used to search for marketing articles through Marketo. And an ad asking me to download an article from Marketo was magically showing up on my Facebook page. I’ve also seen many other retargeting examples from online retail stores such as Amazon.com and taobao.com.

Screen shot 2015-02-09 at 4.18.42 PM Screen shot 2015-02-09 at 4.36.14 PM Screen shot 2015-02-09 at 4.38.31 PM

Generally speaking, these retargeting type of ads are distracting, especially when they are showing up on some totally irrelevant website of their business. But they are still effective in my opinion since they do make me more likely to buy and I did take many actions through those retargeting ads. I will download most of the articles from Marketo whenever I saw the ads on other website. And I used to spent hundreds of dollars on Amazon.com through its retargeting ads. The most important reason those ads work for me is because they know my product preference and shopping style through my recent activities on their website. So the products or services they displayed on the other website are either attractive for me in general or what I’m looking for recently. That’s how retargeting ads success – get to know the customers purchasing behavior and meet their demand.

Blog #4

For this exercise, I started by visiting Amazon and browsing a couple tech gadgets, like gaming keyboards, mice, and headphones. I noticed that Amazon was very good at remembering my browsing history and had many suggestions of related products. However, when I went to Facebook, CNN, reddit, twitter and the NY Times, I didn’t have any ads whatsoever. Then, I realized I had Adblock installed, which blocked these ads. I disabled Adblock for the purpose of this assignment and wondered if my browsing data was still saved or if unrelated ads would pop up for me with Adblock removed.

Upon visiting Facebook, my ads were very targeted – but not to my browsing history for specific products. Instead, they targeted clothing shopping, which I receive e-mails for and browse some websites for. However, I never buy clothes on Amazon or other larger aggregate shopping websites, but rather either specific brand websites or smaller online clothing stores. As a result, the ads seem to be targeted but the information seems to be pulled from other sources, such as my e-mail or possibly my Facebook status history (posting/sharing about buying clothes). CNN, twitter, and NY times only seemed to have generic ads – pizza hut, home insurance and banking, which I never searched for online. Reddit has ads as well but for reddit-specific things, and does not seem targeted either. After a couple more hours, Facebook ads then began to update to my tech-gadget focused browsing from before, but no ads seem to be specifically targeted towards me.

Blog #4 – Jibo

Speaking of a product that seem to be magically showing up in ads, JIBO immediately jumps in my head. I had followed their news and stories since their commercial video was launched last summer.

JIBO is a sociable family robot, that can see, hear, speak, learn, help and relate with multiple family members in home environment. From their ads, first of all they compare JIBO with other home devices and made it outstanding and differentiated than others. Then it demos how adults, children, and senior citizens interact with JIBO for different functions, such as hands-free camera, reminder alerts, voice mailbox, food order, entertainment, etc.

In my opinion, the ads are very effective. These ads actually relate to our daily life and demonstrates how we use the product, and it’s very home oriented. It makes me more likely to buy the product, but the site is no longer accepting pre-orders as they are focusing on the first shipment: 5,554 orders and raised $2,289,606.

Blog #4: Targeted Advertising

I visited a few product websites, including Natural Pet Food on Amazon, Nordstrom, Square and 21drops, and then visited Facebook.  I immediately noticed that specific clothing items that I had clicked on appeared in ads on the side of the screen.  In addition, 21drops’ Facebook page showed as a promoted ad within my newsfeed.  That advertising was a little tricker, because it almost appears as if one of my friends has posted or shared the company.

I think there are two sides to this type of advertising.  First, it serves as a reminder to consumers who are thinking about purchasing an item, but haven’t actually done so.  With the 21 drops, it actually reminded me I wanted to visit their site again.  However, the advertising was more strategically placed.  Second, it could push the consumer away.  For example, the ads displayed below are sponsored ads that appeared on the side of my screen.  I noticed that I’ve become almost immune to the advertising on the side and top in banners, and if I do notice them, it is more of a negative reaction than a positive reaction.

Ads

Stalked by shoes

Shoes follow me everywhere on the internet, thanks to Zappos. The cute booties that I browsed on Zappos one day suddenly pop up in my email, my search results, and my Facebook feed the next day. At best, it’s a nudge to go back to Zappos and browse again. However, sometimes I will be trailed by a pair of shoes I decided NOT to buy, which makes it an annoyance.

It does seem like the ad served is related to my activity on Zappos. If I search the term “bootie,” then I will see different styles of ankle boots as I browse around the web. If I spend a long time on a particular product page, or tag the item as a ‘favorite,’ then that specific shoe will follow me around.

I usually do not take any action when I see the ad. I feel like I am approaching ad blindness – I see these types of retargeting ads so often that I don’t pay attention to them anymore.

Example:

blog4

Re-targeting

I don’t know whether things have changed recently, because I haven’t been able to catch the sneaky culprits on my favorite sites, but it used to be that Foster School of Business and the Husky Team Store were the two biggest re-targeting offenders. The two would split time prominently displayed on my favorite “news” site (Dawgman.com) and on my favorite media channel (Pandora.com).

For me, neither were effective. With the Foster ads, I am obviously already enrolled in the program and thus do not need to be sold on it’s benefits. As for the Husky Team Store, I can definitely see how this could have been an effective strategy as the ads were usually displayed where I was consuming other Husky news. However my purchasing behavior is more direct than that…I don’t generally make purchases on a whim, they are usually planned, making these types of ads less effective at inspiring action on my part.

3 Takeaways from Andy, Paul and Taylor

3 Key Takeaways from Taylor, Paul and Andy

 

Last week, we had the pleasure of listening to three great men in the marketing/journalism/PR world: Andy Karuza of BrandBuddee, Taylor Soper of Geekwire, and Paul Owen of Owen Media. Each shared unique perspectives on PR and building an online community. Here are 3 top takeaways from that discussion.

  1. Create a Story that has Value to the Reader

This primarily came from Taylor’s experience at Geekwire. If you want Geekwire, or like publications, to notice you, be interesting. Ensure that you have a story to tell. If you have an awesome new product to launch, that’s great, but unless you have a story to tell, don’t expect anyone to write about you. A product launch in itself is not a story, unless maybe you’re Apple. Find the magic and share that.

Additionally, be your own media. Make it easier for others to write about you by gathering the data they will need, add pictures of key people to your website and beginning writing about interesting

  1. Separate Influencers from Advocates

The idea of influencers and advocates can easily blend together and many use terms interchangeably; do not do this. When thinking of the difference between the two, think of the 12’s. The 12’s, if you are another planet, are what Seahawks fans are referred to as. The 12’s live and breathe Seahawks football and have become as big to the franchise as Beastmode, Russell and LOB. They have brought magic to Seattle and are the best product advocates you could imagine. Your product advocates are the ones who are closest to the product, that need it to survive and naturally tell their friends that they should have it too. This allows for incredibly genuine brand support, like the 12’s. Influencers on the other hand are paid and may sound unnatural when speaking of your brand.

  1. Focus on the Problem

To be clear, focus on the problem and how you solve it. With that being said, your product or brand does not do much unless there is a problem to solve. When thinking of a new product, first identify the problem that you seek to solve. You can create the craziest, coolest knickknack imaginable, but if it does not solve a problem for anyone, you don’t have a story and you won’t have a successful product.

Identifying the problem and focusing solely on the problem, not only shapes your story, but helps you narrow down who your target audience is and helps you create a persona of your ideal customer.

 

 

 

 

 

Blog 4

Whenever I visit zennioptical.com to search for glasses, an ad from them will immediately show up on my facebook homepage. Not only will the ad be from Zenni, but it will show a picture of one of the exact pairs of glasses I had just looked at (example pictured). glassesAnother company whose ads always show up is Nordstrom. I regularly visit their website, and pictures of the items I have viewed will often appear on my facebook page. These ads can be effective when they remind me of items that I like and even considered buying. However, they have never resulting in me purchasing the pictured items. I don’t intentionally avoid buying those products, but the ads have never been effective enough to convince me to go back to the site and make the purchase. Also, I think it is important for companies to consider the downside of these ads. These ads often showcase not only items that I like, but also ones that I dislike and have rejected. Repeatedly showing me items that I have no interest in leads me to have a negative association with the company doing the advertising.

Reading My Messages…

I recently had the pleasure of moving to a new apartment, in the middle of the quarter, the day before the Super Bowl. It was as enjoyable as you can imagine. But with moving come the perks of upgrading. New appliances, gas fireplace, vaulted ceilings, balcony; this place makes my old place look like a shack. Once the boxes were finally unpacked, I began the Amazon shopping frenzy to quickly and conveniently make all those little purchases of everything you realize you need (such a weird paradox when you are moving and thinking, “Why do I have so much stuff?”). Though I’ve purchased countless things on Amazon within the last week, it is not Amazon or my Amazon searches that showed up in my news feeds.

 

My living room has large windows, awesome, until you realize you look right into your neighbor’s bedroom; not really my thing. My walls are painted light green and most of my accessories are very loud, so I need to tone it down on the curtains a bit. Turns out, I want very specific curtains. I began my search for 60in x 96in white, ruffled curtains. My search led me to Wayfair, a site my mom also told me to check out. Knowing that I’m spoiled and have a birthday coming up, I took a screenshot of what I wanted and sent it over iMessage to my mom. Holding out for a better price (or for a present), I decided not to purchase. Then, I opened Facebook and there it was, my curtains on Wayfair. My Facebook advertising shifted towards home decorating or apartment searches. Additionally, I had sent iMessages with a friend regarding a trip to Iceland. All advertising is trying to get me to go to Iceland, on the cheap, and buy my ridiculously specific curtains.

 

I’m a sucker for advertising and if I liked something enough to view it, I’m most likely going to like it more the more I see it. If I had the funds, I probably would have purchased curtains and the trip to Iceland. By the way, Wow Airlines is coming to America and offering flights from $99 from DC to Iceland….at least that’s what Facebook tells me.

Blog Post #4: Targeted Advertising

Being a graduate student, I don’t have a ton of free cash to spend on outdoor apparel. As such, I am constantly keeping an eye out for good deals, sales, and high quality used merchandise. This has led to a rash of targeted advertisements aimed at selling me the hottest new trends in outdoor gear. Unfortunately for the marketers, not only can I not afford a brand new technical jacket, but I also use AdBlock. As someone who uses AdBlock, I’m only ever aware of Facebook ads when I am on my cell phone.

The two social media applications that I use frequently on my cell phone are Twitter and Facebook, and I do see ads geared toward my interest. The major advertisements tend to be for Black Diamond, Backcountry.com, and few that I’m quite sure where targeted to me after some of the Marketing HW assignments we’ve had. However, I feel that as someone who has used a computer extensively for their entire life, I am relatively immune to advertisements and just scroll past without really taking note. In fact, I’ve always wondered if anyone actually clicks on the links. The rise of popularity of AdBlock and other ad blocking software really makes me skeptical as to the effectiveness and real potential of these ads to drive traffic and sales. The only time I’ve ever been tempted is if a specific item I want is listed with a specific discount from a particular sale.

B-2-B ads resulted from our Class Assignment

So I shop quite a bit on Nordstrom online. Often I put my stuff into my online shopping cart so I can better see what I am interested in buying over time. However, more recently I noticed Nordstrom is growingly aggressive in sending me “There’s Still Stuff in My Cart” emails. They also occasionally post those items I like or I viewed as part of my FB feeds.

Over the weekend, due to the need to find content for this assignment, I saw something which made me tick. I noticed an advertisement featuring, GUESS WHAT?, that’s trying to sell me TINYhr.

I know you probably don’t know what TINYhr is but this was the company that I wrote for one of my other blog assignments. I couldn’t believe it. The cookies/computer think I am a business company -it is trying to sell a business/enterprise software to me without realizing I am actually a person.

That said, I am getting a bit wary of these tracking “cookies”. In retrospect, as I began to understand the issue of privacy on the internet more and more, I am deeply thinking question the purpose of such data collection. If unprotected and unregulated, such data could turn the benefits of technology into a threat to personal security and personal welfare. I wish there’s a community I’d join and learn more about how these ad issues can be addressed at the point of web designing.

Blog 4: Xfinity Ads

My roommate just moved out so for the past week I have been looking for a new service provider for cable and internet. I have been browsing Comcast and century link websites to figure out the best plan for my home. As a result, a majority of the news websites I typically visit now have xfinity (Comcast) ads.

Although I eventually bought an xfinity (Comcast) package, personally speaking, the ads were more annoying and distracting then helpful. I chose Comcast because of the two service providers in my area, Comcast gave me a better deal. The Comcast ads were focused on features which are of no interested to me. However, the ads did serve as a periodic reminder to me to go and finalize the order for internet and cable. Here’s a snapshot of the ad I saw:

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Blog 4 – Clothes and bike parts!

I typically do a fair amount of shopping online, and I have found that whenever I shop for clothing, it tends to pop up all over the place on the pages I visit. Two retailers that are particularly notorious for this are BetaBrand and MyHabit (run by Amazon). I have found these ads on a variety of websites, including sports blogs that I visit and Facebook. I have found that for clothing, these ads typically are effective, as I am reminded that I wanted to buy the item, and am encouraged to return to the site at some later point in time.

Recently, I have also been “shopping” for bike parts online in support of the Rider Oasis homepage. I have seen a variety of these parts located on websites, which might be useful at some point in time, except that I was merely browsing for the parts, so it seemed ineffective here. One comical ad I noticed was for a particular bike which I browsed on Amazon after being shared a link with how ridiculous looking the bike was. I often research products for one of my positions, and find that I still get targeted ads for products which I never intended on buying.

Unique Mix of Targeted Ads

Gilt.com appears to have heavily invested in targeting online marketing.  Usually I browse on Gilt and then if I can make it passed the initial urge to buy I forget about what I saw and wanted shortly after. I first noticed their targeted ads a few weeks ago when I added a jacket that had sold out to my waitlist.  When it became available again it magically started appearing all over the internet, taunting me, just begging for me to buy it.    At first I thought the ads were a bit unsettling, but the more I saw that jacket the more I wanted it.  If it wasn’t wildly out of my price range the ads probably would have persuaded me to buy it.  As an experiment I added another dress to my cart, and within seconds it showed up on my facebook page, right next to ads for bootstrap themes from a site which I had been browsing last week looking for inspiration for a web development project I was working on.   I wasn’t looking to buy a theme, but certianly was interested in related content.  It was interesting to see two highly targeted ads placed next to each other, that would probably never appear together in any other context.

Targeted Ads

Blog 4 – A reflection upon jewelry and AdBlocker

I started this assignment wondering where to find these adds. I hadn’t seen any in quite a while. Then I uninstalled AdBlocker. It turns out there are quite a few.

I visited the Forbes website and was scrolling through some articles. I kept noticing ads for jewelry stores. As I had just picked up something for my wife, these ads were not too surprising. They were, however, ineffectual. I had already made my purchase and was not planning on picking up any more. Jewelry seems to be a poor thing to market in this fashion (to me at least) since I only buy it periodically and never really make an impulse purchase of it.

While it seems that online advertising has potential, it needs to be marketing the right product. It also needs to find a way to deal with AdBlocker.

Blog 4

As a busy business school student, I generally don’t have much time shopping in brick and mortar stores. 90% of my clothes and shoes were purchased from online stores. Before I get included in the calculation of Labor Force Participation Rate, I use affiliated websites to monitor discounts and promotions of my favorite brands. www.dealmoon.com is one of the common ones I use. Meanwhile, since I have purchased in multiple websites of the branded products, I keep receiving hundreds of promotion emails every day.  During the last week,  I have visited websites of Uniqlo, Sephora, 6pm and ASOS through email links.

Thereafter, when I visit my facebook page, I could find the advertisement on the right lower corner the boots I checked on 6pm. This is on target, since I was really interested in the product.

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As I use Google Chrome as my default explorer and dealmoon.com generates income from Google Adsense, I can tell that among all the brands I have been following, Uniqlo has been advertising extensively. The recent items I checked on their website is shown on the right hand side, while the promotion items showed in a banner I continue to scroll down.  Though sometimes, these repeating advertisement might appear a bit redundant, they remind not only my historical records but also display the sales items that I might be interested in.

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Be a Great Mind and Fall in Love with the BEST in BEAUTY!!!

Late into fall quarter my entrepreneurial strategy team was tasked with conducting some mild research on Birchbox, the send-you-free-samples-for-$10-a-month cosmetic company. Although this company can furnish classy, gentleman-colored boxes of a viridian hue, the bulk of their wares are shipped in a Mexican pink enclosure much more amenable to genderbirch-stereotyped shades of the lady consumer. A tragic byproduct of this “research” I conducted is that a seemingly omnipresent glare of the Birchbox magenta stalks me from page to page, whether I am looking up guitar tablature or checking out Facebook. What has struck me most about this is the stubborn longevity of their targeted advertising. I really thought (and hoped) that, by now, this cookie-guided box ad could be packed up and shipped to some other corner of the web. Instead, I keep asking myself if I want to ‘fall in love with the best in beauty’. Fortunately their efforts have failed to curtail my aversion to their product, but how long can I hold out? Falling in love can be so rewarding! The thrill of it all! The excitement! It can also, however, leave you with unwanted eyeliner, mascara, and associated sundries cluttering your bathroom countertop and an empty sense of feeling used.

EconAs a subscriber to The Economist, I will from time to time post interesting articles on my Facebook wall, copying the URL from the online version of the publication. Today, I was pleased to see that a song lyric site I visited bore the welcome catchy white text of my favorite news periodical. Seeing as how their advertising already succeeded in roping me in, their advertisements only reinforce my appreciation for their pithy, witty articles punctuated with epenthetic ‘u’s and other archaic Britishisms. This ad in question even helps trump up myself esteem, allowing me to identify myself with the sultry erudition of The Economist. By Jove, it’s a cheeky one, it is!

Lastly, for several months I contemplated making one of the largest retail expenditures of my life: a pair of Wolverine 1000 Mile Boots. Being the son of my father – through no fault of my own, mind you – I am prone to the Knackstedt proclivity of researching, studying, and open-mindedly reading every review of a product imaginable and, upon more consideration, devoting near-equal commitment toward price comparisons before any notion of a purchase is executed. As such, I have wanted a pair of this objectively sublime footwear for over two years. Longing indeed makes the heart grow 1000fonder, but the equally stylish ads have, with some sly regularity, popped up on various websites I have perused and engendered an even deeper yearning. Here, though, I can say that their algorithmic persistence paid off and that this story – and blog post – are wrapped up with a happy ending of me purchasing the shoes three weeks ago. There is now a noticeable spring in my step (although that could be complementary from my now much-lighter wallet, too).

Blog 4

Hugo Boss

Blog 4

1.-Visit a couple of product web pages that you have considered buying or have bought in the past.

I visited Hugo Boss webpage, and I saw a few suits.

2.-Then visit news sites and social networks you normally visit.

Later that same day I entered yahoo finance to find a Stock price.

3.-What products seem to be magically showing up in ads?

The discounted suits appeared on the yahoo finance website.

4.-Are these ads effective?

Not for me.

5.-Do they make you more likely to buy?

No, I like the brand because of the quality, and I am the kind of buyer that first checks the merchandise and the next day goes and buys the thing, but if I feel that the seller is insisting too much, I usually decline in my intentions to buy the product.

Ad on Sina Weibo

I’m considering applying for a new credit card and I have been comparing different credit cards using different websites. When I logged in my Sina Weibo (a Chinese microblogging website) account, this ad showed up. These ads are not very effective for me because I only search for products when I am in the mood. If I’m checking my Weibo, I will not switch to other website.Screen Shot 02-08-15 at 11.00 PM