Cord Cutters Guide to Possibly Spending More! Wait…

“That’s it, we’re getting rid of cable”. We’ve all said it. Then a few hours later you’re three episodes deep into Naked and Afraid and you’ve settled down, accepting that you’re actually not going to cut the cord. Not this month, anyways.

Well, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that there are several affordable options available now that will enable you to watch almost everything you already watch. The bad news is that in order to get all those shows, you’ll likely have to subscribe to several different streaming services. That can add up to a cable bill pretty quickly, because don’t forget you’ll still have to pay for a reliable Internet service to stream anything. Also, despite the fact that some of these OTT (over-the-top) streaming services have been around for years, the landscape is changing pretty rapidly now. It can be hard to keep up with what content can be found on any given platform. For that, I suggest looking on Justwatch.com, which is kind of like a TV Guide for streaming. It’s important that you assess your viewing habits and really consider what you’re willing to live without. At the end of the day, cable may be more expensive, but it’s also a convenient one-stop shop for the best programming. Nevertheless, here are a few of the services you should look into if you want to make a move away from your cable or dish provider.

Netflix, Hulu Plus & Amazon Prime – $9.99/mo, $7.99/mo, $99/year

We’ll call this the cord cutter starter package. These are the platforms that you’ve probably heard of before, as they’ve been around the longest and are putting out some strong original programming. People are raving about shows like Orange is the New Black and Stranger Things on Netflix, and Prime is gearing up to release some competing originals in the Fall of 2016. I’m packaging these three services together because if you’re serious about cutting the cord, you really should consider getting at least two of them. This will offer you a great mix of TV shows, movies, and programming for kids. If you’re looking for content from the big four networks (so you don’t miss your CSI’s), Hulu is the way to go.

Playstation Vue – $29.99/mo and up

Sony has barged their way into the OTT space and they’re not messing around. With three different packages, all including AMC, Bravo, CNN, ESPN and Fox Sports, this is really the closest you’re going to get to feeling like you still have cable. NBCSN is also in the base package, for all of you soccer fans (okay, maybe that’s just me). One of the big differentiators between Vue and Sling TV, its main competitor, is that you Vue allows up to five streams going at once. You might need that because the Vue lineup seems to be expanding all the time. Check out their website before you sign up to see the latest additions.

Sling TV – $20/mo and up

Not quite the robust lineup that Vue offers, Sling TV is the most affordable option to still feel like you have cable. The basic package gives you 25 channels including ESPN, AMC, Disney, and CNN. The next package up is $25, and it adds NFL Network, Fox Sports, FX, NBCSN, Bravo and more, however, it takes away Disney and ESPN. A questionable strategy I think, but obviously they’re trying to push people to their most expensive $40 package, which adds Disney and ESPN back into the mix. Like the others, Sling TV is pretty much device agnostic, so you can play through almost any available device. You’re not totally cutting the cord though, Sling is owned by Dish Network.

 

 

 

 

 

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CommTech

Ask the leader of any successful company and they’ll tell you, good communication is crucial in business. Here are a few innovations that might change the way you look at how communications software can help your company thrive.

Slack
Still using email to talk to your co-workers? That’s cute, but all the cool kids (and businesses) use Slack now. It’s not just the tech du jour, either. About 100,000 companies have made it their primary internal communication tool, including NASA, HBO, eBay and Airbnb. Basically, it’s an instant messaging app for both desktop and mobile that gives you the ability to create your own channels. These channels help you organize your conversations by topic, department, project, or any other way you prefer to categorize a particular thread. You can also share files, it has a robust search feature to find important information quickly, and you have control over making your channels open or private. The best part? It’s free. Of course, there are options to upgrade your storage and features.

Employee Advocacy Software
You have thousands of followers on your social media channels, unfortunately, they’re not seeing the content you post. Why? Well, the short answer is because the platforms (Facebook, Linkedin, etc) want you to pay for that now. All that work and time you put in to building your fan base and they won’t even let you talk to them. Enter employee advocacy platforms. Instead of a brand simply posting on their respective page, now it can get employees to opt-in to a sharing application and distribute the content for them. Employees who opt in will get notifications and can share with the click of a button. Early research shows that content shared by employees receives eight times more engagement and 561% more reach than content shared by brand channels. It’s also mutually beneficial, as employees can position themselves as thought leaders and build their networks by sharing relevant content with their peers…and who doesn’t like to look smart? Social media companies like Sprout and Hootsuite have already built employee advocacy into their current services, and you can expect many more niche players to enter the category.

Digital Body Language
When you talk to someone in person, you have the ability to read their body language. A good salesperson understands that every potential customer requires different treatment, and he or she can react to a person’s actions during their sales pitch. Your website isn’t doing that. When someone is on your website, each visitor is behaving differently, but you’re treating them the same as you try to move them down your sales funnel. Visitors may be going to the page you want them to go to, but only a small percentage of them are subscribing to the newsletter or buying a product. Why? This is what behavioral automation software can determine for you. It can figure out what purchase intent looks like and offer strategic campaigns for each visitor in real time, based on their site behavior. In other words, it can read their digital body language and offer them contextual incentives to convert before they abandon your site. Predicting and reacting to customer behavior while it’s happening…pretty cool stuff. A couple of the behemoths in this new industry are Granify and Bounce Exchange, who primarily focus on enterprise accounts, but the mid-market, niche platforms will undoubtedly come.

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Tips for Succeeding with your Content Marketing

When it comes to content marketing, there’s a lot more to it than just producing an infographic or video, posting it, tagging and calling it a day. That’s what 90% of marketers are doing right now and it’s just plain wasteful. If you’re new to the concept of content marketing, here’s a few thoughts that can help you succeed with your next campaign.

1. Think about the conversion

There is often a disconnect between content marketing and sales. The best remedy is a solid plan. It sounds obvious, but so many marketers are forgetting this basic rule. Before you create that oscar-worthy DIY, make sure you can answer WHY you are creating it in the first place. What are you trying to achieve with your content? Who are your potential customers? Think about the user experience after someone has showed interest in your content. Are you asking them for any information? If the micro-goal is to get them to sign up for your newsletter, with the macro goal of bringing them on as a customer, you need to put yourself in the prospects shoes and really have every step of the sales funnel planned out. I see so many great pieces of content that lead to nowhere. Remember, you’re building content for a purpose. Put it behind a registration form and make it work for you. A targeted, quality audience is always going to payoff better than quantity in the content game. Know your audience and focus your efforts on them.

2. Helping is the new selling

If you are putting out content that only serves your brand or pushes your product, you’re going to fail and everyone will laugh at you. While not seemingly intelligent in most Facebook comments, we are indeed dealing the most sophisticated consumers in history. They do not like to be sold. They do, however, like to buy. There’s a fine line between talking at and talking with your audience and you have to be creative to walk that line. Try to produce content that your audience will find useful in some way, whether that’s informative, funny, educational or will just make them look good in some way when they share it. This is just the beginning of the funnel, you don’t need to close a sale in your content. If you’re cramming your content with a sales pitch, don’t worry, no one will laugh at you…because no one will see your content.

3. Kick start it

“Build it and they will come” might work if you’re opening a new McDonald’s franchise, but it doesn’t work in content marketing. Not only do you need to post on the appropriate platforms (where your target audience is), you need to give a boost with some paid ads. Regardless of platform, you’ll have the ability to select your audience and hone in on the people that will best be served by your content, and ultimately, your product or service. Depending on your audience, I recommend doing a campaign on either Facebook or Linkedin to get your content rolling. You’ll know pretty quickly if it’s getting any engagement and whether you should re-evaluate your efforts. Even a paid campaign can’t help you if your content isn’t useful (see #2).

 

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Always a Critic

Screen shot 2013-09-10 at 11.57.58 AM

The planner in me enjoys picking apart ads and uncovering the strategy behind a campaign. That said, the natural born skeptic in me often gets angry. I see a lot of ads that make me question the research behind a claim. Even with all the regulations in place and the amazing potential for the public to ‘call bullshit’ via social media, there’s still a disappointing amount of misleading advertising out there. I’ll be the first to tell you, when a planner comes across some research that has even a remote possibility of turning into a unique selling proposition for a client, they’re pitching it. Why? Well, even if the client doesn’t go for it, the mere fact that they took the initiative makes them look good. It’s a great way to keep clients loyal and show them you’re always thinking of them. But I think, in many categories, the competition forces

Today I saw a tv spot for Cancer Centers of America, touting a major claim that they have a “95% patient satisfaction rating.” With so many parity services out there, customer service is everything, so this number has significant meaning. Not having done much (any) competitive research to see what other cancer centers are claiming, I’m guessing this is a major differentiator for the Centers. Amazing insight, excellent statistic to cling to for a strategy. Right?

Now for the skeptic in me…how did they get that number? Satisfaction rating? Is that the same as still alive? Being a cancer center, I imagine some, if not many, of their patients die. I also would imagine that they didn’t survey any of the customers that have died, as most would certainly not give their approval. So, to me, that’s a number that needs to be explained further. It’s a great claim to lead with for the advertiser, but for me, it’s a simple reminder to always be a critic.

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5 Tips for Advertising Your Small Business

Advertising can be one of the fun, creative outlets of owning a business. But no matter what media you’re creating an ad for, there are some fundamentals that you should keep in mind.

1. Take a risk -regardless of your budget or the channel you advertise on, you need to be creative in order to capture peoples attention. You generally only have a couple seconds to wow someone before they move on to the next distraction. How will you do this? Well, the best thing to do is work with an ad agency. That’s what they do. But if you can’t afford that, there are certainly plenty of unique ways to steal eyes.  Use amazing imagery. Write compelling copy. Relate to the audience. Be funny (but make sure it’s not just funny to you). Promote a great bargain. What about catchy music or an original jingle? Make it ridiculously simple. See something you like? How about doing something similar?

2. Know your goals? Do you want your campaign to increase sales? build traffic on your site? make people love your brand? Keep this in mind during the entire process. Sometimes even the best ads in the world don’t do anything for a company because they got lost in the details. Make sure your goals are set and your ad is going to help to achieve them.

3. Everything is negotiable. Ask for a rate card, then say no. I bet they call you back with a better deal that they magically found. Don’t even wait until you want to advertise, do it now when you don’t care so that by the time you do want to buy some air time, you’ll have already beat the sales person into giving you a great deal.

4. Be the audience. One of the best things an ad agency can do for you is bring you an objective opinion. It’s easy to get too close to a business and forget to put yourself in the customers (or potential customers) shoes. Take the time to think about a typical day for your average customer. This might help you come up with that kick ass idea that everyone will talk about. And remember, don’t sell them your service, sell them the benefits of your service.

5. Measure and adjust. Was your campaign a success? What could’ve made it better? After any advertising that I do, I like to analyze the results. It’s not always the most fun thing to do, but it saves you (and makes you) money in the long run. Maybe you could’ve ran in a better time slot. It’s more expensive but it reaches more people. Maybe your ad wasn’t as funny as you thought. (Hint: Don’t ask family, they’ll always say it’s funny) Maybe you didn’t run it enough or it didn’t have a clear call to action. Did your website traffic increase? And remember, breaking even isn’t bad. You put your brand in front of thousands of people and you moved enough product to do it again!

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Wegmans Using QR Codes

 

 

 

QR Code

You’ve likely seen a QR (quick response) code by now, a little 2D bar code that stores lots of info. They were invented in Japan in the early 90’s for the manufacturing industry, but only recently are they being used in advertising here in the States. With the advent of the smartphone and apps, these codes have become a great way to link people from a physical product to the digital world. No stranger to smart business practices, Wegmans has adopted the codes in their Menu Magazine.

When you come across a QR code in Menu, go ahead and scan it. It will take you to a video of Wegmans chefs showing you how to make the recipe you were just reading about on paper. Pretty cool!

How they work:

They’re simple and free to use. First, you need to download a free QR Code reader app on your iPhone, Blackberry or Droid. Open up the app and point the camera at the code. It will automatically scan it and take you to the destination embedded in the code. Try mine above. I programmed it to take you to my website.

There’s a lot of potential for these codes to really make Menu, and the entire print industry for that matter, more interactive and fun to read. Here’s a few others…

QR codes in Real estate

 

QR Code tchotchkes

Personal QR Codes

What else could they be used for? Send me your thoughts at Chad@nudgegift.com.

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Slogans

It’s my opinion that every company should have a slogan, even local businesses. It not only helps to quickly define who you are and what you do, a good slogan can also begin to differentiate you from your competition and embed your brand into the hearts of your target audience.

I ran into one that struck me as ‘almost there’. I liked it, but it could just use a small tweak in order to really get the most out of it. It was an ad I saw on a website for a local salon and spa. (http://michaelspitalesalon.com/) The slogan read; “Your hair, our style”. I think this is a great start for a slogan. It’s simple, short, direct and informative.

The problem I have with it is the second part, “our style”. It comes off a bit egotistical and perhaps a little presumptuous. I don’t care what your style is, I want to be IN STYLE. I think if this was changed to “in style”, it would help to eradicate the possibility of it being perceived as assuming. It would also add longevity and tell people that no matter what the style may be at the time, they know it.

A good slogan can really help a business, no matter what size or industry. It’s not just about creating something catchy, funny or clever, it’s about being remembered when the need for a service like yours arises in a customers mind.

What are some slogans that strike you? email me at chad@nudgegift.com

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