Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Checking out "Checking-In"

I was wandering around Facebook recently when I stumbled on one of my friend’s posts that appealed to my fashionista shopping instinct in a big way: “Continuing my inspection of Chanel boutiques around the world.”

My designer label envy was now at full throttle. I was hooked.

Below her post was a little square map showing a tiny section of Las Vegas. On the map, right below Caesars Palace, was a little orange dot that represented a Chanel boutique. I say “a” because apparently there are several Chanel boutiques in Las Vegas. Those of you who actually win money in Vegas can go Chanel hop-shopping the next time you are there.

The little map intrigued me so I clicked on it and was whisked away to another page (with more scoop on that particular Chanel boutique) powered by Foursquare, a location-based marketing company. I had heard the buzz about Foursquare but had not really delved into understanding what all the fuss was about.

Basically Foursquare allows you to share your location with your friends. Wherever you go you can “check-in” (Foursquare’s term) using your cell phone and your friends will see where you are on the handy little Foursquare map. There is also a game associated with it that allows you to earn points for checking-in frequently.

These fun and games are all well and good but location-based marketing is also serious business and is poised to be a game changer for those companies that choose to employ it in their marketing mix.

Foursquare is one of the first but certainly not the only player in town. Loopt, Gowalla, Brightkite and Yelp have great “lo-so” networks. Yes there is already an acronym for location-based social networks as they are officially called. And the big boys Facebook and Twitter will soon be helping you scout out your location as well.

Facebook will be adding a location-based feature this month. About 100 million Facebook users access the social network from their phones, according to Ad Age.

Shane Snow at writes that lo-so networks, “enable any business with a physical location to not only communicate with customers online, but actually get more of them to walk in the door — and that’s exciting.”

To read the complete article click here

It contains nine “Killer Tips” to employ for a successful location-based marketing strategy.

Major companies are already jumping on the lo-so bandwagon. Starbucks recently signed a deal with Foursquare — you can earn a "Barista badge" by checking in five times at the coffee retailer.

The Wall St. Journal, as part of its new focus on covering New York City, gives Foursquare users links to Journal stories about various locations they check-in at around the city.

Borrell Associates, a research and consulting firm that focuses on interactive advertising and marketing, forecasts that location-based mobile spending will hit $4 billion in 2015, more than 11 times the $34 million spent last year.

Ad Age reports that search engine giant Google will soon get in the act with new types of location-based mobile ads that can navigate consumers toward a store.

"Location-based services are a compelling audience engagement feature unique to the mobile platform. By providing more location-aware services and products, brands can now create a much more intimate presence in consumers' lives," said Jacqueline Rosales, EVP, Business Development & Client Service, Luth Research.

The team at BrightBlue Marketing would like to know your thoughts about location-based marketing. Have you tried one of the lo-so networks? What did you think? Would you consider using one to engage your customer? If so which one and how would you use it?

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Contingency Plans

The Iceland volcano is affecting us at BrightBlue Marketing personally: Our President and Founder is in Scotland with her fiance, trying to get back here in time for her wedding. They're making the most of their time there, however, and thanks to the internet, it's business as usual. Candace has a series of backup plans for all contingencies.

It reminds me of a seminar we attended in 1998 in Dallas, specific to meeting planners. When you're a meeting and event planner, every seminar, sales meeting, technology expo or site visit is YOUR responsibility. You need contingency plans for failing electricity, health emergencies, acts of nature, failed equipment, food allergies, domestic violence that spills into your meeting...the list goes on and on. We went through the steps one would need to take if we were having a meeting at a hotel and there was a tornado. Or an attendee was having a heart attack.

Being at the ready and having thinking through issues before they arise is crucial for ALL aspects of your business. I was responsible for the Executive Business Center (EBC) at a company in Dallas with a notoriously buggy sound and projector system. On days that we had guests, I'd have all of the presentations printed out in case the Barco projector went south. I had IT and graphic artists on standby to come fix the machines INSTANTLY should we have issues with the PowerPoint slides or the projector gear got persnickety. Meanwhile, I'd need to be at the ready to let the caterers into the back door to set up in the EBC kitchen. I'd have called the day before to follow-up on the date and time, have one of my colleagues at the ready to take over running the catering if I was wrassling with the equipment in the other room and have a local back-up caterer on speed dial in case of all-out food failure.

Never once in all those years did the EBC have a less than stellar showing for our clients and VIPs. It wasn't luck or skill as much as just plain FORETHOUGHT and TEAMWORK. Let BrightBlue know if YOU need help with your contingency plans!

Monday, 12 April 2010

Happy Birthday, BrightBlue!

BrightBlue Marketing, Inc. turned 5 last week. I spoke with Candace about how she achieved this milestone, the secrets of our success and what the future holds.

When did you start thinking of starting your own company?
January, 2005. After I left Oracle, I kept getting contract work. My former boss at Oracle recommended I start my own company. I suggest one does not start a company unless you know for sure you have a couple of customers wanting your services!

Tell me the story of how you came up with the BrightBlue name
I’d worked in the corporate world long enough to know that I wanted a name that reflected something very positive, creative and also reflected a bit about what the company does. I also liked the idea of having a color in the name of my company.

Walking my dogs on a clear day with a very blue sky, the word “blue” popped into my head. I liked how Blue pertains to technology, a la IBM and how Bright has a double meaning: intelligence AND illumination. And I liked how both words worked together with “Marketing” to make clear what the company would offer.

What makes BrightBlue different and successful?
What makes us successful? A staff that naturally goes above and beyond to help people. Our clients see that we truly care about them, and that we will always give a little extra in our efforts to help them grow their business.

What makes us different? Our objective to remain innovative in the marketing techniques we practice.

We offer a Virtual Chief Marketing Officer (VCMO) model. Unlike most companies, we not only offer the strategic guidance to help companies without marketing departments, but we tie in an execution team that makes these strategic ideas happen.

On April 6, 2005, you had a team of 1: you. On April 6, 2010, we have a team of 23. Where do you see BrightBlue on April 6, 2015?
I see BrightBlue as as the go-to partner for technology companies without a marketing department who are ready to grow to the next level. We will continue to grow and expand, while always ensuring that our team continues to be the best of the best!

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Bad News Doesn’t Get Better With Age

Last weekend, my husband and I went to an out-of-state wedding. We rented a car, hired a pet sitter, drove 450 miles (each way) and spent three nights in a hotel. We showed up at the appropriate location on Saturday morning, only to find that the wedding had just been called off by the apparently not-so-happy couple. Wow!

In sharing this story with people, I have heard many different comments, most commonly along the lines of “At that point, you owe people a wedding! They should have gone through with the ceremony and gotten it annulled a few days later.”

I don’t agree with that. I think that if you don’t want to get married, you shouldn’t. But I do have issue with the timing of it, which brings to mind the old saying about “the right decision at the wrong time is still the wrong decision."

In the case of the canceled wedding, it is possible, although extremely unlikely, that any new information became available the day of the wedding that caused the betrothed to question everything they knew about each other and the plans they had made for a life together. What is more likely is that the information required to make the difficult decision had been there all along; only when drama attendant to the wedding reached its fevered pitch did someone finally admit that the jig was up and make the tough call.

Making the right decision at the wrong time is legendary, and no one appreciates the decision maker for taking suitable and appropriate actions when the actions come too late. Take, for example, the ongoing crisis at Toyota. No matter what corrective actions the company undertakes, at this point, they will go down in history as the automaker that failed to respond to huge quality issues that that threatened the safety of their customers.

In the case of the failed wedding, if the decision to cancel the wedding had been made earlier, it could have been a much more private matter between the couple and their families. Oh, sure, there are guests who would have canceled their travel plans and probably been out some money. Others, like my husband and I, would probably have still taken the trip, just planned our time a little differently. There might have been some gossip and speculation about what happened. But most of the guests probably would have respected the couple for reaching this heartrending conclusion.

Unfortunately, because of how and when the decision was made, everyone who was even peripherally involved now has a story about it, from the guests, to the hotel employees, to the florist. I am actually blogging about it, because it’s part of my story now.

So, next time you are faced with a tough call for your business, think about how it will play out in the minds of your customers if you make the decision early or late. My guess is, like both Toyota and the hapless couple in my story, you will find that bad news doesn’t get better with age.