iBeacon Technology: Why it’s Awesome for Marketers

So we’ve had QR codes and location based services for some time now in the tech and social industry – and since Apple introduced their iBeacon (although this tech has been around for a while too) – we’re entering new territories as marketers and customers.

What are iBeacons you ask?
iBeacon’ is an Apple marketing term for a specific type of Bluetooth Low Energy (also known as BLE). According to Apple Insider – “Essentially, rather than using satellite signals to locate a device anywhere on Earth as GPS does, BLE can enable a mobile user to navigate and interact with specific regions geofenced by low cost signal emitters that can be placed anywhere, including indoors, and even on moving targets.”
Why this is awesome for marketers:
  • Imagine being able to send messages to consumers more contextually. For example, if your brand is trying to target consumers at a venue for an event; you’ll be able to know they’re there and send a message through your brand app to them automatically. Not only is this awesome, but it’s convenient for the consumer too.
  • Why is location so important? It creates the contextual relevance for advertising that otherwise isn’t already there. For example, being at a concert when you get an advertisement for a discount on food located at the venue is way more useful then getting that advertisement on a random day. It is then useful, easy to use, and actually relevant to that person.
  • Imagine your target consumer is parking at a large mall. You already know they have an intent to purchase, and now you can target them accordingly right through the device that is already at their fingertips. They’re probably already thinking what deals can I snag while I’m here – the mindset is there; the location is there; and the context is there.
  • What I think is even cooler? Sending messages or showing different visuals to a person as they walk by a display due to the iBeacon. For example, if someone sees a product they may like, perhaps they get a real-time demonstration of it right then and there.
Things we need to consider:
  • What if Blue Tooth is not enabled?
  • Unless the consumer is an early adopter and really into tech like this (as marketers like myself are); adoption will be slow.
  • Privacy is still a rampant issue that many consumers face and tech like this make some uncomfortable.
What do I envision?
I see this technology growing rapidly and taking shape in many apps and devices. However, I see mainstream adoption not truly occurring until 2015, when more people grow comfortable with this type of location and contextual detection within apps and devices.
Tip to marketers:
Be patient, but be bold too. Take into consideration the age old saying, “test and learn.”
Image source: google images

Classrooms and How they Integrate the Latest Technology and Social Media into Teaching

Living in a city where there is a sea of college students, I see more technological gadgets on these young students than sometimes even on adults. They have iPads in the classroom to take notes on, read their books on, and more. However it’s not just technology that’s advancing in the classroom it’s also the acceptance and usage of social media. There are many colleges that demonstrate adaptation and skill in using social successfully to teach students. So what are the benefits of using new technology and social media? Here are three reasons why your classroom should consider the same…

1. Use the technology and Networks They Already Use and Know

Students are already posting on Facebook, reading blogs on Tumblr, tweeting their favorite things on Twitter, and pinning what they love on Pinterest. They know how to use the sites well, and they use it often. Make part of the class participation online participation. It helps those who are creative but perhaps shy in class. For example homework can include keeping a Tumblr blog about a topic which students can comment on and share ideas on. Or if it’s a photography class, how about utilizing Instagram or again Tumblr to host that content. Tip: find the networks that work best for your lesson content (and students).

2. Integrate With Lesson Plans and Learnings

The infographic demonstrates that professors and teachers are already adapting, andeven shows the networks where they can utilize to make their efforts more fruitful with their students. It’s not just about using Facebook and Twitter, but realizing that you can create a wiki for the class and online discussion, and/or pin daily findings on a Pinterest board. There are numerous ways to take advantage, it’s about creating the lesson plan that works for you and your students creativity and desire to engage with the content in places they love interacting. Some students may be hesitant to use their own profiles that already exist – so perhaps create new ones just for class or a location where they can all contribute.

3. Continue and Extend the Conversation Past the Classroom

It is a great opportunity to extend conversation past the classroom. Take the offline, online. For example creating a hashtag for the classroom to corral conversation and extend a topic that was discussed in class, after class has ended. It keeps the students thinking, searching, reading, and interacting with the content.

Last Tip: Remember to  keep content and tools fresh. As we all are well aware, tools and social networks, and apps change, update, and pop up daily. It is tough to keep up but we have to. Perhaps utilize students who work for the school to keep up on the research regarding what’s the latest to help keep lesson plans fresh.

NOTE: This post was originally written for socialnomics and my original post can be found here. 

Further Reading:

Takeaways from “All Marketers are Liars”

Last time I was in NYC, a good friend of mine insisted I borrow his copy of Seth Godin’s “All Marketers are Liars.” Knowing I am a marketing junkie and social media geek, he felt that this book would be right up my alley. He couldn’t have been more right!

A few points I took away from this insightful book…

“Stop trying to find the formula that will instantly make your idea in the winner. Instead of being scientists the best markers are artists They realize that whatever is being sold is being purchased because it creates an emotional want, not because it fills a simple need.”

From my own experience, this could not be more true. How many times have you bought a product because you want it, and justified it as a “need”, but it’s really a “want?” Example: I decided to buy an iPad. Did I need this when I already have a Macbook and numerous other Apple products? Probably not. However, I realized I would be attending SXSW and may not want to carry around my laptop. An iPad would be perfect for this, right? I can throw it in my purse, go to the sessions I choose to attend, and then out and about afterward with ease. This definitely was not a “need” but a “want” in order to be comfortable and feel that I could take part interactively via Twitter, blogging, Facebook, etc. In addition, it’s an Apple product, which is so much “cooler” right? Furthermore, I hate being left behind in technology, and when it comes to the newest and latest and greatest, I must be a part of this right? Emotional want. Not a simple need.

The marketing team for Apple are without a doubt exceptional. They make each product cool and sleek and an immediate “want.” But how did I connect myself to this enough to purchase it when I didn’t need it? In this case, Apple made me a loyal consumer. I am a complete Mac user (convert from Dell a few years ago) and love the simplicity and ease of use of their products. The innovation is always above and beyond and makes you feel like you are in the “in group.” Does this mean I have an inner need to feel included and part of the cool group? Was this the route of my emotional want of this product? Perhaps. My point? Marketers such as Apple are able to demonstrate and create a want emotional enough within us, that we buy their product. Is this a science? Some argue yes. Godin, says it’s an art. I say, a bit of both.

Do not spend all your time on just your website. “Every point of contact” is what matters. Be consistent. Be authentic. Cover all the possible impressions and allow the consumer to make them into a coherent story, you win.

In short your story is what the consumer believes it to be. It’s not your story, it’s theirs. You, the marketer, may try to “sell a story” but in the end its the consumer who convinces themselves why they “need” such and such product. For example, in Godin’s Puma example he notes, “The way Stephanie felt when she bought the Pumas was the product. Not the sneakers…” Again it was the emotional connection to why the consumer buys the product. Maybe it will make her feel prettier. Maybe it will make him feel richer. Maybe it will make her feel thinner. Whatever the reason, there is a deeper connection to why a person chooses to buy a product, and although the marketer can do a great job at “selling” it — it’s the consumer who really “sells it” to him or herself. Case in point: my iPad.

Godin did a great job in this book and really made me think of myself as a consumer when trying to think as a marketer. In the end, we’re all selling something whether to ourselves or to someone else. Maybe all marketers are liars after all…

The Necessity of a Brand Audit

Conducting a brand audit on your brand is not only smart, but necessary. Having recently conducted a brand audit for my MBA global branding class on Sony’s brand (focus on electronic products), I was able to realize the importance of these audits to a brand’s success and future. You may think your brand is doing well and that consumers are happy with the product because sales seem lucrative, but is that truly the case? Do consumers really see your brand the way you see it? Are they loyal? Do they regard your brand as a quality service/product? Do they understand your brand message and logo and equate them to your brand accordingly? Are you sure?

These questions were just a few we investigated for Sony and we realized there was inconsistency regarding the brand message “make.believe” and what consumers perceived of Sony. In addition, from a survey we conducted, most did not even equate their new product “Google TV” with Sony. Yikes!

Although a brand audit can be extensive here are a few of my main recommendations:

1. Have a consistent brand message (Ex. Sony has the Sony Style and Sony logos)

2. Make sure your target market is aware of the connection between your logo/slogan and your brand (Ex. Survey: consumers did not understand connection between make.believe and Sony products)

3. Investigate if your target market thinks what you think of your brand (Ex. Survey: Consumers felt Sony was over-priced for what they offered)

4. Check to see if your target market believes your service/product is “quality” and why they do or do not purchase your product/service (Ex. Survey: consumers did feel the products were quality and have felt so since the “walkman“)

5. Compare and see what your competition may be doing better (Ex. Sony Survey: Apple is big competition and great at innovating)

6. Determine if your target market loyal or not loyal to your brand (Ex. Survey: It’s a toss up)

7. Find out if consumers feel an emotional connection to your brand (Ex. Survey: no specific emotional connection)

7. Revise accordingly.

Thus if you want your brand to do well, you should stay on top of what is perceived about your brand, how consumers “feel” towards it, and consistently innovate your product/service/campaign.

Isn’t branding fun? :)

Communication of Message

“How to communicate a brand message” for a product takes effort to be creative. 3 creative methods that I researched for the Sony brand (for a global branding study) include:

1. Creative Product Placement: Honda did a fabulous job at placing its CR-Z in a Facebook game in order to create brand awareness. It was also a very unique way for its audience to engage with the brand. In addition, HP placed its computers in Project Runway, which was a great way to show how easy the computers were to use and how cool they were for designers and others who love to geek out.

2. Consistent Spokesperson: Sony has had an issue with being consistent with its brand message. Using a consistent spokesperson could be helpful as Apple had done with Justin Long in its successful “Apple vs. PC” ads. Can you blame Apple for being named “Marketer of the Decade?” Although Sony used Justin Timberlake for its 3D TV ads, it was short-lived. It may behoove the brand to find a new “cool” spokesperson such as from a popular TV show like Glee. Just a thought.

3. User Generated Content: Nowadays UGC has become the norm and many brands are taking advantage. Sear, Chevy Tahoe and FreeCreditReports.com are just a few of the brands who have utilized UGC. For example FreeCreditReports.com had a summer long contest where bands would compete to become the new band for the ads. The winner would debut at the 2010 mtv awards. How cool is that? Sony could do something similar like having contestants produce songs and the winner could appear in a Sony Studios movie.Therefore, keeping the promotion of “innovation” consistent and utilizing the brand message “make.believe” where what you can imagine can come true.

In short – communicating a brand message requires effort, creativity, and consistency.

How do you Subscribe?

Do you subscribe to magazines the old-school snail mail way? Or do you get the digital version sent to you via email? I cannot help but still enjoy turning each glossy page filled with a ridiculous amount of advertisements…and then the other day I was trying to decide whether or not to subscribe to Fast Company. I paused when I was about to subscribe via snail mail thinking I can get all the cool articles right on the website and via email rather than having 50+ issues stacked up on my nightstand collecting dust, as they hope to be opened and taken on the T on my way to be work. It is a never ending battle for me as I do not see myself w/ an iPad (yet), so as for now I am becoming a fairly regular digital reader (thanks to Google Reader) but also enjoy my stack of magazines that I can just throw in my bag on the way to work, dinner, and/or on my future apartment balcony where I sit on my lounge chair taking in the short yet splendid Boston summer.

Where do you stand?