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Black Thursday is the New Black Friday

Here are some thoughts to consider long before that Thanksgiving meal settles. Thanks to KAMA member Kathleen Atkins for contributing this guest post:

Last year, I documented the day after Thanksgiving shopping madness I have annually participated in and has been dubbed by retailers and consumers as the biggest shopping day of the year — Black Friday. The article was based on a tweet from @LauraLPotts: “Black Friday is like zombie apocalypse: you’re either one of them, or you’re locked inside praying that loved ones don’t get trampled.”

This evening, as I’m scouring the Internet doing my research, I’m prepping and flipping through Black Friday ads that have been pre-released, scanned, and posted on various web sites. I’m beginning to formulate my plan of attack.

But this year is different.

Nearly all of the stores are now opening at midnight or earlier. Gone are the days of 5 a.m. store openings I was accustomed to in the “early days.” Black Friday has evolved into Black Thursday, a round-the-clock, nationwide, sleep-deprived shopping massacre.

Black Thursday is the new Black Friday.

I will be among the thousands lined up on a sidewalk or in a parking lot with red blood-colored cranberry sauce stains on my shirt, and everyone will be facing the store’s front door just waiting for the doors to open. Traffic will be at a standstill in Turkey Creek and West Town Mall, and the struggle to obtain the best deals has never been so perilous.

The zombie shopping fever has spread, and I’m afraid it’s hit a pandemic level. I can’t help but wonder, what would Rick from The Walking Dead do?

Zombies in The Walking Dead are quite similar to Black Thursday shoppers:

  • They devour any living thing (deal) they can catch.
  • They never sleep.
  • They are more dangerous in large numbers.
  • Loud noises attract large herds of them.
  • They stand still or shuffle around rather slowly. However when in pursuit, they move much more quickly.
  • They may turn what would normally be a harmless household item into a weapon.

As I prepare to head out into the darkness the evening of Black Thursday, I will be double-knotting my tennis shoes and keeping in mind that the swiftest shoppers can be far more dangerous than the walkers roaming the earth.

Re-thinking Digital: The Evolution of Mobile & Its Impact on Web Strategies

As the number of mobile users increases, the need to integrate mobile strategies into marketing initiatives is increasing as well, a topic discussed by our own founder and lead advisor Brian at a Knoxville AMA event last week.

The Importance Of Mobile

Reaching customers has become increasingly difficult in our digital world, and as the fastest growing segment of the web, mobile is a part of that. Brian shared that the growth of the mobile web has outpaced that of desktop by 10 times, and smartphone sales have significantly surpassed PC sales in recent years.

Many marketers treat “the web” as a single medium like “print” or “TV” or “radio,” but that’s not how we see it at Pyxl. In reality, “the web” is made up of multiple distinct yet connected mediums on desktops, tablets and smartphones. As a business, it’s up to you to not only reach your audience wherever they are, but also to optimize content to work across devices.

Designing For Mobile To Optimize Integrated Engagement

As Brian discussed, desktop computers provide the most space for content display, and visitors tend to spend more time on a site when viewed on a desktop. However, more individuals are beginning to access information through tablets, which provide less space for content but still include web browsing as part of the experience. Finally, smartphones, which provide the least real estate for content, are focused, with visitors heading to a website looking for specific information on-the-go.

So, how do we integrate web strategies that satisfy all mediums?

Four Strategies For Integrating Mobile

Brian shared four options for companies considering their mobile strategy:

1. Do Nothing

The first option is to simply do nothing, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If your site covers a complex topic, those looking for information are probably expecting to complete deep research, which usually isn’t done on a small device like a smartphone. Brian shared the example of the Provision Health Alliance website, one of Pyxl’s clients. For a healthcare company like Provision, people wanting to know more will most likely seek information through a desktop.

2. Build a Mobile Site on the Same or Separate CMS

A second option is to build a mobile site on a single CMS, which provides easier updates and maintenance. Using a single CMS on two platforms decreases the cost of development with some increase in maintenance, but provides a tailored mobile experience. The downside? There will be an inconsistent experience between the desktop/tablet and smartphone experiences.

3. Build a Mobile App

This is a great option for companies that want to create a distinct experience for customers, separate from that of the main website. For instance, Pyxl client Pilot Flying J has a core website that focuses on consumers and is optimized for desktop and tablets, while its mobile app focuses purposely on travelers looking for a specific location or service.

4. Build a Responsive Site (on a Single CMS)

Building responsive websites is becoming one of the best options for companies hoping to utilize integrated engagement, with the created site adjusting naturally for each distinct medium on which it’s viewed. For companies hoping to integrate responsive web design into their strategy, Brian provided a checklist for success:

  • Wireframe. Wireframe. Wireframe.
  • Information hierarchy
  • Ration and scale imagery
  • Readability
  • “The fold” is dead
  • Orientation – horizontal, vertical
  • Less is more
  • Test. Test. Test.

Regardless of the option you choose, simply considering and thinking about mobile as part of your greater web strategy is critical to maximizing integrated engagement. If you want success in reaching customers in this digital age, having a mobile strategy is key.

Do you agree? How are you integrating mobile strategies into your marketing initiatives?

Want more information? Here’s Brian’s presentation in its entirety (scroll to the bottom of the page).

Evan Carroll – Mobile Happens!

Click here to download Evan’s presentation (2MB PDF).

Mobile technology. It’s one of the most accessible and fastest growing communication tools of our time—as many as 24 percent of people even go so far as to describe their iPhone as an extension of their brain or body. The current push many marketing strategies are making into the mobile world has made this topic highly relevant to members of the Knoxville American Marketing Association. That’s why taking advantage of these trends and statistics was the focus of KAMA’s November luncheon speaker Evan Carroll of Capstrat.

Because “we carry this medium in our pockets at all time,” Carroll covered many aspects of how to reach people through mobile technology including smart phones, tablets, apps, QR codes and more. He also talked about the way to incorporate mobile technology into traditional marketing and advertising strategies on TV, radio and in print. Some of Carroll’s main points for us to take away are as follows:

“Forty percent of tablet and smartphone owners use them while watching TV.” Carroll used this Nielson statistic to explain how important it is for brands to reach out to mobile users through TV by directing them to their mobile apps or mobile websites. Since almost half of mobile users are interacting with technology while watching TV, this is one of the easiest ways to reach a large audience through mobile. iPhone and Android apps are also becoming highly valued as mobile continues to grow, however Carroll reminded us to keep in mind that apps are not right for everyone.

“We can use mobile as a response to radio.” After playing a brief sound clip of a radio advertisement that asks users to text the company instead of call it, Carroll explained that through mobile technology, we can make it easier and more comfortable for our target audiences to engage with the brand. People have become more hesitant to call a “stranger” these days, so texting is a much more comfortable form of interacting with an unfamiliar person.

“Print is becoming an interactive experience.” Tablets are changing the way people consume content, and are making print a more interactive experience. The iPad and Kindle, as Carroll used for examples, offer huge opportunities for advertising that will be seen by people in their daily routine.

All this information doesn’t even cover one of the last stats that Carroll left us with—the fact that more than 72 million people access social media from their mobile devices, which are a key component powering social media.

Carroll summed up his stance on mobile with one statement: “Companies that are not thinking about mobile are jeopardizing their future.” Maybe now’s the time for your marketing practices to become more mobile.

Beginning of the End of the Personal Computer?

It’s hard to believe I’m writing this article as I never thought I would see the day when the PC would become the senior citizen of our hardware community. Some PCs are enjoying their golden years such as the hip granddad known as the Apple Macintosh (he prefers being called “Mac”). He has such cute grandkids, too: iPod, iPhone, and iPad. Other PCs aren’t enjoying their twilight years as much. Old Hewlett-Packard (“HP” thank you very much) isn’t doing so well considering two of his grandkids, the rambunctious TouchPad and his little sister, the Pre smartphone, just got killed. Things are so sad with HP that he is considering suicide.

Well, suicide might be a little dramatic, but HP has been considering spinning off its PC division in light of declining profits.

What does this mean to you?

As the owner and/or operator of a website, the implications of this are pretty obvious and we’ve been hearing it for years: the web is going mobile. Face it, PCs are still too complicated and every website you visit you have to fumble around and figure out how to use it with some being easier to use than others. Ah, but mobile phones are so small and I can’t get my wonderful sexy brand through that tiny screen, you say. That’s why tablet computers are taking off. In fact, since HP announced the cancellation of the TouchPad (and lowered the price by $400) it is now a best seller on Amazon. Perhaps this is why HP is now considering aresurrection of the product. Interesting? Yes. Confusing? Totally.

While tablet computers are cool, lightweight, and fun to use, the smartphone will reign supreme due to its portability and ubiquity. However, that small screen is making me go blind, hence the rise of the tablet computer. Tablets tend to stay on the bedside table and have taken over the function of magazines and  newspapers in the family room. PCs, on the other hand, are where the “serious” work gets done that is currently impossible to do on any other device (Photoshop on a smartphone, anyone?). The biggest problem that needs to be solved is making a device that handles the duties of all three devices. Some say it will never happen but I hope it does because every now and then I realize I just left the house with my iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Pro in tow. Now, that’s just plain silly.

My advice for you is to make sure that all your interactive branding projects have a mobile strategy built in from the get go. Retrofitting is such a cumbersome, expensive, and ugly process but it can be done. We can help. Either way, mobile optimized websites and cross-apps that work on smartphones and tablets are the future, so you better improvise, adapt, and overcome. And, while you’re at it, don’t forget grandpa PC as he’ll probably live to be over one hundred years old and he is pretty nostalgic for his websites.

This article was originally posted on the In10sity Blog and is used with permission.

A Helping Hand: How Authenticity Facilitates Public Relations

 

Public relations is human dynamics. It’s the bridge between a brand and its consumers. Sometimes it’s a difficult bridge to build when the brand is intent on self-promotion and hard-line marketing. But when there’s a story to tell that resonates with the public, when the brand is sincere, and the message rings true, public relations happens organically, and the bridge becomes a smooth connection.

Home Federal Bank is building bridges in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Founded in 1924, Home Federal is Knoxville’s largest locally owned bank. With over $200 million in capital above the most stringent regulatory requirements, Home Federal is classified in the highest possible category for financial strength. Perhaps more importantly, Home Federal has heart. The bank has been a compassionate corporate citizen in its hometown for over 80 years, contributing nearly $880,000 to local charities last year alone. Savvy cause marketing, right?

The truth is that’s just the way Home Federal does business. Senior management understands what Marketing Guru Trey Pennington calls the “three-fold human hunger” to be heard, seen and understood.

Eats for Easter is a new initiative sponsored by Home Federal. The bank donated $10,000 toward the purchase of Food CityGift Cards to YWCA Knoxville and the YMCA of East Tennessee to help families in need celebrate Easter. The program is designed to support women in crisis and families in transition at a time of year that is less visible than the Christmas season and traditionally generates less giving.

“Home Federal was founded on the principal of service, and I’m proud we continue that today,” said Dale Keasling, chairman, president and CEO. “Knoxville is a better place, because of the YMCA and the YWCA.”

And Knoxville is a better place because of Home Federal.

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett designated Tuesday, April 12, 2011 “Helping Hand Day” in an official proclamation “whereas the Eats for Easter program will provide a helping hand not a hand out to the good people of both YWCA Knoxville and the YMCA of East Tennessee.”

According to Deb Weinstein, pr executive and president of Strategic Objectives, during her remarks at Social Slam 2011, there are five golden “rules of engagement” for brands:

  1. Be innovative, interesting and news-making.
  2. Be integrated with consistent messaging across platforms.
  3. Be credible – that means human, honest, humble and helpful.
  4. Be relevant.
  5. Measure. Evaluate. Celebrate.

Home Federal Bank practices these golden rules and the original Golden Rule as well.  The bank’s actions reflect its abiding commitment to helping people prosper and grow in communities throughout Knoxville and Knox County – “this place we call home.”

Below is a clip of the “Eats for Easter” event from Live at Five at Four:

This post is used with permission. The original blog can be viewed at talkstreetsmart.com

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