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31 Why Computers Don't Matter Anymore

AppleAn event occurred recently that was widely covered in financial and tech circles, but the significance of which may have been lost on most.

Apple’s market cap rose slightly above Microsoft’s, making it the largest tech company in the world. Now, market cap is based on current stock price and is a lousy measure of things to come and this is by no means a post about good and bad investments, but to me it marks a point in time that clearly points to the path we’re headed for the next decade or so.

Apple, on the verge of extinction in 1996, rose up with laptops, but then bet the farm on hand held devices and applications. Apple now makes the bulk of its revenue from iPods, iPhones and iTunes – in fact, it would be safe to suggest that Apple is not really a computer company. Apple built its store right next to the new freeway off ramp (the mobile freeway that is) and has benefited through this location dramatically.

As computers and even web browsers continue to lose significance by yielding ground to mobile devices and applications Apple is positioned to dominate for years to come. In the application world social networks like Facebook will continue to grow, cloud computing via applications will generate far more revenue than operating systems, software and hardware.

What all of this means is that Google must successfully nail a social strategy or even it’s mobile plays will cut into it search ad revenue. Microsoft may be in big trouble as it clings to shrinking government and enterprise installations too big to move elsewhere.

Small business can and should seize the opportunity to claim low cost operating efficiencies found in the cloud. Marketers must find effective ways to play in social networks. Resistance to mobile tactics such as location ads, text messaging, and mobile applications must erode as they become the preferred method of content and information consumption.

42 5 Ways to Get Your Customers Talking

word of mouthWord of mouth marketing is considered by many to be the most desired form of marketing. The trust, referrals, and overall brand building buzz that’s garnered by customers spreading the good word to prospects is worth its weight in gold. Some products, services, and experiences naturally produce chatter, but there are certainly things that any company can do to stimulate word of mouth and cash in on the buzz.

Here are five way to get your customers talking about you and your organization:

1) Ask them – the best word of mouth starts with “word of listen.” Call your customers up and ask them why they buy, why they stick around, and why they tell their friends about you. You might be a bit surprised by their answers. Hint: it’s usually not the stuff you have in your new marketing brochure. You stand a far greater chance of attracting the right customers and the right buzz if you really understand what your current customers value about doing business with you. This goes for online and social media listening as well – what are they saying in chat rooms, blog comments and on twitter?

2) Teach them – sometimes great word of mouth just happens, but sometime you’ve got to help it along. One way to do this is to make sure you are teaching your customers how to spot an ideal client, what a prospect in need might say when looking for your products, and how to properly and concisely describe how your company in different. Of course, in today’s hyper social media world you should also be teaching your happiest customers how to write reviews on Yelp, Insider Pages and CitySearch type rating sites.

3) Include them – People like to be asked what they think, it’s just human nature, but it’s also a great way to get some sound advice. Create a round table discussion group made up of select customers and charge them with advising you once a quarter or so on new marketing and business initiatives. (Reward them for this in some way as well.) This can include advising on everything from a product extension to the look and feel of your web site redesign. Members of your marketing round table will become natural ambassadors for the brand. (You can do this with simple video chat meetings – tinychat)

4) Star them – Letting a customer testimonial or success story go uncaptured or untold is downright criminal in WOM circles. Go out and get a TouchMic MityMic to record customer testimonials to your iPod or get a Flip video camera and start doing video interviews with customers to record their success stories. These “real life” bits of content are gold and turn your featured customers into talking referral billboards for your brand. Want to take this idea up a notch? Hold a customer party and film a dozen or so at one time in a great atmosphere – this alone will get your customers talking.

5) Surprise them – I like to think I saved the best for last – few things get people talking faster than surprising them. This can include doing something that was out of the blue and much appreciated to just giving them more than they bargained for. I remember a PR firm that was pitching me some business and the account rep showed up to meet with an apple pie (I’m still talking about it.) I once worked with a financial planner that hired a mobile auto detail firm to detail his customer’s cars during their annual review – that created some buzz.

Bottom line of course is that you’ve got to do good work, do something that somebody appreciates, and create an experience worth talking about, but then, prime the pump and leverage all that greatness.

Image credit: rego

9 Casting Sounds Into Content

Hopefully you’ve concluded that today’s marketing requires lots of content, lots of education and lots of trust building via expertise sharing. And you’ve also likely concluded that all of that is a ton of work. It is a ton of work, well worth it in the long-run, but work to build no matter.

The secret to maximizing this content production play is to develop strategies that help you multiply your efforts, that make it naturally easier to produce content, and that employ technology and services that provide huge return on your time invested.

One such strategy that puts all of the above into service utilizes the recorded word as the foundational tactic. For some reason many people find it easier to say what’s on their mind than to write what’s on their mind. Funny thing is for most the spoken story is much more authentic and personal too. When business owners sit down to write a marketing piece, they end up sounding like marketers trying to sell something and make it sound important. When they speak the same marketing piece it comes off much more engaging and real.

Tune Talk micSo, get the Belkin Tune Talk stereo mic attachment for your iPod and start speaking your marketing materials and web pages and then get them transcribed by a service such as Casting Words and then use a service like TaskUs to “punch it up a bit.” This little content creation routine may just be the secret weapon that turns you into the content super-producer.

But, why stop with marketing materials per se? What about white papers, expert interviews and customer success stories. Start recording this type of content via the phone using a service like SkypeIn and Ecamm Call Recorder. Take your interviews back to CastingWords and all of sudden you are creating content and information products on the fly.

Seth GodinI did a live interview with Seth Godin recently and exposed one audience to the live session, thousands more to the audio download and now, thousands more will consume the audio transcript of our session.
Download interview transcript with Seth Godin.

Content creation mirrors the recycling mantra in many ways – reduce (your time to create), reuse (what you create in different formats), and recycle (what you create in different forums and audiences.)