Author Archives: ligesgood

Newly Launched Marketing Platform Carnival Wants Brands To Stop Treating … – TechCrunch

Just before the holidays, a new mobile marketing platform targeting brands and agencies, Carnival, quietly made its public debut. Based in New York and New Zealand, the company is aspiring to chart a course similar to what Buddy Media did for social on the web, but for mobile campaigns, engagement and retention.

Mobile, of course, is quite a different beast from social, but it’s one that the company’s co-founders have a lengthy experience with.

Shortly after the iPhone debuted, Carnival CEO Guy Horrocks, CTO Cody Bunea and others began creating some of the first applications to ever run on the iPhone – before there was even an iTunes App Store. Through their company Polar Bear Farm, they had at one time reached 6 million downloads of their apps for jail-broken iPhones when there were only 10 million iPhones. They even drew the attention of Apple, Horrocks notes. At an Apple developer conference just ahead of the announcement of the iTunes App Store, an Apple employee told them that about half his company wanted to shut down Polar Bear Farm, but the other half was running its software.

Over the years, the co-founders also contracted for Tapulous to create Twinkle, one of the first Twitter clients for the iPhone. And later on, after selling their stakes in Polar Bear Farm in late 2008 to start Carnival, they began building apps for brands like Kraft Foods, Gerber, HBO, Dreamworks and others. They also worked on startup’s apps, like Ptch (acquired by Yahoo) and Voxy.

In other words, the pair has been active and invested in mobile for years. And, explains Horrocks, their experience building apps and working with brands allowed them to spot what they believe is an untapped opportunity in mobile today.

carnival 2

“All these [brands] are producing a lot of apps, but they don’t know how to maintain them, and they don’t really focus on the users after they launch them,” he says. “And the other part of the problem is that a lot of these brands have multiple apps…but most of them are very siloed.”

At Carnival, which has now shifted from being an app-building agency to a mobile platform maker, the goal is to aggregate all of a brand’s users in one place, so they can run analytics on that user base, and allow the brand to run various campaigns, targeting users with content through push notifications, in-app messages, contests, and more.

The platform lets brands reach users using more standard content like text, photos, videos and links – which could be delivered in a “News Feed”-like experience within the app or pushed to the end user’s device via a notification. But Carnival supports other, more interesting or interactive content, too, like coupons, sweepstakes, or polls, or even sending users a fake FaceTime phone call. Users can also be geo-targeted (including via geofencing), or targeted based on other metrics like loyalty, engagement, device, or software version, for example.

(The FaceTime call happened to be tested on One Direction fans, 50 percent of whom accepted the opportunity to FaceTime singer Harry Styles when the band arrived in their city during its tour. The call is actually a mockup of FaceTime with a pre-recorded message designed to boost ticket sales.)

carnival

Many of the things Carnival handles are the kinds of things that many other mobile platform makers provide today, too, but Horrocks believes there’s a need for a platform that specifically targets brands that have different goals than the typical app or game developer.

The company currently has around 60 branded apps using its SDK, including CNN, TIME magazine, Coca-Cola, Dreamworks, Mondelez (a Kraft-owned brand behind Oreo and Cadbury, for example), and more. These companies (or their agencies) pay Carnival on a subscription basis somewhere in the range of the low five figures to low six figures per year for access to the mobile platform, and additional support, if needed. The long-term plan is to grow that base and push them to six-figure contracts.

“A lot of brands are still treating mobile like a billboard. They build an app and do a one-month campaign,” says Horrocks. The guys that are winning are those who “have built an actual audience, utility and value,” he adds.

Carnival recently closed on an oversubscribed $2.4 million round led by Gary Vaynerchuk and Lerer Ventures, with participation from Bowery Capital, FlyBridge Capital Partners, Google Ventures, David Tisch, Jos White, and Buddy Media co-founder Michael Lazerow.

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6 Small Business Marketing Tips for 2014 and Beyond – Small Business Computing

By Janine Popick With the rush of the holiday season in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to think about how you can continue to grow and attract new customers in

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Content Marketing 101: An Introduction to the Newest Marketing Tool for … – Huffington Post

The traditional marketing methods that businesses have used in the past are becoming outdated and uninteresting to consumers, leading to low conversion rates, decreased website traffic and lower ROI (on a company's marketing spend). Today, many companies are choosing to implement new and creative marketing strategies with the end goal of establishing their company and key executives as experts in their industry. Not only does this increase a company's overall credibility, it also helps to shorten the sales cycle drastically. The most effective thought leadership campaigns use content marketing to educate readers (potential clients, media, industry experts, etc.) about a company's area of expertise.

So how can you get started with your content marketing strategy? First, it's important to know the basics...

What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a targeted marketing strategy that involves creating insightful, engaging and interesting written content with the aim of creating customer loyalty and increasing opportunities for future business. An effective content marketing strategy will help a business engage with its customers, leaving them better informed and interested to find out more.

Content marketing can include a variety of tactics including:

  • Thought leadership articles published in high-profile publications

  • Blogging

  • e-Books

  • Webinars

  • Among many others...

Content marketing is not a direct sales tactic, but rather a two-way communication medium between a business and its target audience. Like public relations and social media, content marketing is not directly designed to sell a product/service; however, it can have significant effect on brand awareness and can be highly effective at positioning a company as an expert in their field. As I'm sure you know, these activities cannot be directly linked to an increase in sales, but they can significantly decrease the length of the sales cycle, making it a highly effective marketing medium -- especially for start-ups and companies working in a highly competitive market with high supply. By improving the public's understanding of who a company is and the product/service it offers, content marketing is a fantastic way to increase a company's credibility and brand recognition without the significant costs associated with more traditional marketing methods.

In order to get the highest ROI from your content marketing strategy, it is very important to follow these four tips:

Embrace the Blog
Hosting a blog and sharing content on your website not only allows your customer to understand your position as a thought leader, but it is also the easiest and most effective method of driving traffic to your site and increasing your SEO ranking. Every time a new blog post is added to your blog, the search engines scan your site, which immediately leads to a boost in your search ranking.

Create a weekly blogging schedule and post on the same days every week, so your followers will know when to visit your blog to read your new posts. Businesses should be publishing a new blog post with original content at least twice a week. At least another two times per week, you should be sharing content from other sources (news articles, other companies, studies, stats, etc. with links back to the original source) through your blog. For even greater consistency and brand recognition, you should cross-promote your blog through your company's social media channels.

Promote Through Social Media
Social media is one of the best ways to post and share your content but because many companies are only now beginning to integrate it into their strategy, it can go a long way to establish your company as innovative. Before getting started, it is important to understand the role of social media and the benefit it offers for businesses: social media is one of the best marketing mediums for developing relationships with (and loyalty from) potential customers, but in most cases, it is not a direct sales tactic.

Implementing a social media posting schedule will help your business maintain its competitive edge, and ensure that you can offer interesting, unique content on a regular basis. The more views your post receives, the more it will be shared, commented on and enjoyed by both new and existing customers -- and the greater ROI that your social media outreach will earn. Because of this fact, scheduling your posts to ensure the greatest exposure to your followers can make or break the success of your social media strategy. Scheduling tools like Oktopost will enable businesses to share content at the time of day that it will make the biggest impact.

As well as publishing your own content on a consistent, ongoing basis, businesses should be engaging with customer's posts to ensure continued customer satisfaction. For example, if a hotel guest tweets a picture of the fantastic view of the beach from her hotel room, the hotel should acknowledge the post offering a friendly greeting or 'thank you' for the post. Consider also retweeting (sharing the image with your followers) and then recognizing the customer on #FF (follow Friday), as one of your property's amazing guests. This will make the guest feel special and she will remember the hotel for its fantastic beachside view, as well as its friendly staff.

Drop the Sales Pitch
Effective content marketing minimizes the need for a sales pitch. In fact, if a company does choose to promote their company within their content, its content marketing strategy will not be effective. Most consumers are highly distrustful of advertising messages and so the moment your content becomes promotional, readers are likely to lose interest. Customers visit websites and social media channels to learn insightful information about a business' area of expertise, not to experience a hard sell (or even a soft one!). Instead, provide customers with the information they are looking to find in a creative and informative way.

For example, a hotel can use content marketing to increase repeat site visits from potential customers, increasing brand recognition, brand loyalty and increasing direct bookings in the process. In order to do so, the hotel would need to make their website (and blog) a destination for consumers to find out valuable travel tips (including topics like: how to save on your upcoming hotel stay, etc.). Because readers keep coming back to the site to learn from your content, they will be more likely to remember your hotel and visit your direct website (instead of the OTAs) when they are booking their next hotel stay in that destination.

By providing info instead of just using your content to sell, you are giving the customer time to develop trust for your company, before receiving your sales messages. If your content continues to be engaging, informative and creative enough, the customer will remember your company and come back to make a purchase when they are ready to do so.

Add Videos
Videos are very popular content with followers because most people connect more strongly to visuals than copy; however, many companies are hesitant to use video content because of their perception of it as expensive and time-consuming to create. In reality, videos can be much easier to produce than you might think. With a well-planned script, a professional setting and proper lighting, you can use free video apps (i.e. Vine and Instagram) to create mini-looping videos that can be shared on all of your social media profiles quickly and easily.

Additionally, creating a longer video for your homepage or for YouTube will not only position your company as a creative thought leader, but can also offer very beneficial marketing exposure. For example, multimedia content often appears on the first page of Google search results, which helps to make your business more visible (without having to invest in expensive SEO or Google AdWords campaigns). Even if your videos are not visible on the first page of search results, consumers will often use YouTube to conduct a search. In fact, YouTube is the second most popular search engine in the world.

To conclude, as it becomes harder for companies to stand out from the crowd in a highly competitive market, a content marketing strategy becomes increasingly important. Content marketing is a low-cost, highly effective way for companies to establish a position of thought leadership and develop relationships with potential customers using top-notch content.

If you have any further questions about content marketing or if you would like help planning and creating your business' content marketing strategy, please don't hesitate to contact me at any time at jenn@jlnpr.com.

 

Follow Jennifer Nagy on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jennlnagy

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General Mills vs. The Carlyle Group – DailyFinance

Netflix has changed the at-home movie-viewing landscape by offering subscriptions for streaming movies and television shows. Netflix's success should continue, as it has established the most recognizable brand in an industry that it formed. Lovefilm is the U.K. version of Netflix, and it has also been successful. Several of Lovefilm's founders were determined to use this successful business model in another area, which is how Graze.com came to fruition. The Carlyle Group is a majority owner of Graze, and it has been pleased with the results seen thus far. 

Graze is a subscription-based snack service. For $6 per delivery, customers receive snacks in the mail, whether delivered to their homes or offices. These snacks can be ordered once per week, once every other week, or once per month. You might be wondering if this business model actually has potential. This has already been proven. After five years in operation in the U.K., Graze entered the U.S. market last year. Since that time, Graze has accumulated 55,000 customers, and it's adding an average of 1,000 customers per day.

Graze has strong potential in the U.S. market, but it will have to contend with General Mills and its new Nibblr service.

Nibbling on a new market
General Mills has seen waning demand for its cereals and core products. I happen to believe that General Mills will market and innovate enough to get demand for its core brands back on track, but that's a story for another time. For now, let's focus on Nibblr, created by 301.

General Mills created 301 to generate more innovative products separately from the company's core brands, which would then help fuel top-line growth.

The Nibblr service is very similar to Graze. Nibblr packages range from $5.50 to $5.99, and they often include dried fruits and nuts. Approximately 70% of the time, these packages will contain 150 or fewer calories. The target market is health-conscious women between the ages of 25 and 35 who want to snack at work. This appears to be a small target market, which limits the service's potential, but given the rise of the health-conscious consumer, this market has the potential to expand in the future.

Marketing from 301 has taken place on social media. While General Mills won't reveal any actual numbers on subscriptions, it has stated that it's pleased with the number of customers it has accumulated to date.

This is how it works. You go to Nibblrbox.com to fill out a profile, preferences, and allergies. Then you determine how often you would like to receive a delivery. Once you receive the delivery and try the snacks, you rate them. This is an important part of the process, because it makes consumers feel important. In reality, they are important. This is a form of consumer insight, and consumer insights are more important now than they have ever been. Your ratings will also help Nibblr decide what types of snacks to send you next time.

Graze vs. Nibblr
Graze's tag line: "Snacking Reinvented." NIbblr's tag line: "Discover Something Delightful." We can call that a draw. As far as marketing power goes, the edge has to go to General Mills. On the other hand, Graze has a strong head start, and it's looking to make its biggest push into the U.S. market this month. Furthermore, Graze has a much stronger online presence. According to Alexa, Graze.com has a global traffic rating of 28,251, whereas Nibblrbox.com has a global traffic rating of 985,044. 

Snacking potential
The most likely result in this snacking battle is that both companies thrive. There is enough demand to go around for both Graze and Nibblr. In regard to General Mills, this is a small piece of the pie, but look beyond the facts and current situation. Not only does this market have room to grow, but General Mills' 301 has been created to drive new innovative ideas and products separately from the company's traditional offerings. Therefore, you should expect more creative innovations from General Mills going forward, which could prove to be a big catalyst for the company down the road. While there will likely be misses, any hits will be supported by General Mills' strong marketing power. 

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The article General Mills vs. The Carlyle Group originally appeared on Fool.com.

Dan Moskowitz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Netflix. The Motley Fool owns shares of Netflix. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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How A Bank Gave My Data To A Marketing Firm Before The Signup Process … – Forbes

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As someone who recently moved to Washington, D.C., after three years in London and many more in Norway, and is currently playing the waiting game that is U.S. immigration, I received my social security number earlier this month. Applying for a bank account was next on my list.

Screenshot emailed to me by Charles Schwab's Director of Public Relations

Screenshot emailed to me by Charles Schwab’s Director of Public Relations

Before I had completed the online application–and without ever submitting the form–my personal information had been given to a third party for marketing purposes. As I dutifully entered my details, including my full name, address, social security number and phone number, into the form, the website was quietly sending the information back to the bank using a few clever lines of code.

A close friend had recommended the brokerage and banking company Charles Schwab a few months prior. I was less than impressed by their weak password policy, which says passwords can be no longer than eight characters, no shorter than six and without any symbols, but my friend’s strong recommendation and the promise of a free security token for two factor authentication had me convinced that Schwab would be a good place to bank with.

I was halfway done with step two of the application when I realized I would be unable to complete it online. The form asks for a U.S. driver’s license, something I don’t have yet. After confirming this with a Charles Schwab employee through the live chat on the website, I closed the page and went to fill out the form manually instead. Little did I know that Schwab had already created a profile for me in their system, even though I never clicked the “save” or “submit” button.

The following morning, I received an email from Charles Schwab reminding me that I had not completed the online application. I ignored it. A day later, I received a phone call from Q & A Research, Inc., a marketing research supplier, telling me they were doing a survey on behalf of Charles Schwab and would like to ask me some questions. I hung up.

It reminded me of the story of how Facebook tracks what users type, even if they never post it (in reality, Facebook will only see that a user canceled a post, not what he or she had written). In some ways, this was my fault. I should have read the Privacy Notice, the Terms of Service and the disclaimer written in a small font. I should not have assumed that information would only be transmitted once I hit submit.

“This is not standard practice,” said the Charles Schwab customer service representative I spoke to on Wednesday, clearly unaware of the bank’s own Privacy Notice. “We don’t know how this happened,” he added after speaking to his manager. The representative went on to explain that he could update my profile to limit the sharing of my personal information.

I was surprised to learn that I already had a profile. Had I filled out the application by hand to begin with, and then ripped it apart and thrown it in the trash, Schwab would never have known.

“It could be that only contact details of ‘fleeing’ applicants are used to try and figure out why they fled,” says Joseph Lorenzo Hall, Chief Technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology. “But the transmitting of certain elements of that form before submission, like social security numbers, seems especially dangerous.”

When asked to comment on this practice, Sarah Bulgatz, Charles Schwab’s Director of Public Relations, emailed me a screenshot of the disclaimer with a hand-drawn blue arrow pointing to the Privacy Notice. My followup email went unanswered.

-

You can follow me on Twitter and email me (GPG public key).

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5 Goals I’m Setting For My Business In 2014 – Forbes

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We’re all guilty of it. We set our resolutions on the 31st of December, jazzed to make progress in our personal and professional lives, and then, by the middle of January, we’re bored. Our goals, which had once seemed so within reach, have suddenly become infinitely far away. It’s no wonder that a mere 8 percent of people follow through on their New Years goals, according to University of Scranton research.

This year, rather than giving up preemptively, I propose we reset our resolutions and revive our excitement.

Here’s How To Reset Your New Year’s Business Resolutions, And This Time, Make Sure They Stick

Write your goals down.

Writing your resolutions down is the first step to taking them seriously. While it’s great to brainstorm goals, without writing down your mission, focus fades and continuity begins to decrease. Putting pen to paper forces you to focus, and to identify the specific goals that you are working toward.

In our company, we have a goals board. Everyone gets to set professional and personal goals each year. We broadcast the goals on a formal wall for the entire office to see. Whenever I walk into the office and see my own goal, it reminds me to take action. Our brains work subconsciously to help us accomplish our mission when we keep our resolutions top-of-mind. What’s more, it makes me happy — it’s exciting to so much optimism and ambition, and a reminder of how much there is for each of us to look forward to.

Be realistic with your expectations.

Whether it’s about weight-loss or ROI-growth, setting unattainable goals doesn’t help your success, it hinders it. Set goals that, though they require hard work and perseverance, are, in fact, doable. It’s better to set a smaller goal that can be expanded upon than something you feel you’ll never actually reach. If you aim to increase your bottom-line, think about what strategies you can use to hit that revenue goal. Pick a number; a realistic number. Going from 100K to 100 million in sales will not happen overnight. Think about the most important things that will impact your business that with hard work and effort, you can actually achieve.

Establish milestones to track success.

A year is a long time to stay focused. Here’s where the planning comes into play. If you fail to plan, you are, in essence, planning to fail. Think about what success looks like short term and keep yourself motivated. Be sure to set key performance indicators for each of the goals you set. Otherwise, how will you know if you’re on track? Give yourself a schedule and monthly (or, weekly, if you’re extra committed) milestones to know that you’re breezing through the things you want to accomplish.

Last year, my goal was to lose 60 pounds.  I would not have been able to accomplish that aggressive goal if I didn’t measure my weight each week (sometimes each day) to keep track of how much I lost, how much longer I had to go, and what roadblocks I had to hoist myself over to come out successful.

Taking these ideas and incorporating them into business, my company will be resetting our goals and pushing through 2014 until we see our desired results.

Here are 5 Business Goals I’ve reset for my company in 2014:

  1. Adding Value: We want to continue to organize our company to make it more efficient and profitable so that both, our clients and our employees can get more out of their time. Our goal is to increase our corporate value by 200%.

  2. Thought Leadership: We plan to produce and execute four marketing seminars, one per quarter, to help business owners see success by sharing important growth strategies and hosting interactive workshops and webinars.

  3. Business Networking: We’re working to build our Events Division, Business Events NY, to increase reach by 25% and continue widely branding our company. We aspire to host one monthly event for up to 300 business entrepreneurs.

  4. Strong Recruiting: We aim to hire 10 additional experienced marketing professionals that can add to our existing talent-pool and help continue the steady growth of our business.

  5. Quality Sales: We need to define our target market to three major areas. Then, we’ll start marketing to this target the right industries and going deeper with our clients.

Remember, when thinking about your own resolutions, ask yourself:

  • Where do you want to be in 1 year, 3 years, 5 years?

  • With these goals in mind, what will be different for your company? What’s the end-goal?

  • What type of investment can you make to your goals, in regards to time, effort, energy, money? Is it doable?

So, which goals are you resetting this month? By sharing your goals with others, you train to hold yourself accountable.

Let me know in the comments box below!

Joe Apfelbaum brings more than thirteen years to the online business, technology and marketing community. Serving as CEO and Co-Founder of Ajax Union, www.ajaxunion.com, he has been featured on Fox Business Network and Fox Business News and was selected by Google as a Certified Google Trainer. Today, Joe produces a weekly web series called GrowTime, where he teaches budding entrepreneurs about business, marketing, and technology. Meet Joe in person at one of his upcoming #NYCSeminars. Check out www.ajaxunion.com/events. 

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