Is VR becoming hot?

We have all heard the term VR, Virtual Reality.  What do you think of when you see these words.  I think of those 20 something nerds sitting in their basement with these crazy goggles on hooked into a computer playing a souped up Sims or D&D game where they get to make believe they are someone much cooler.  Only it’s better than your standard PC gaming system, because they are “really there”.  There are some niche aspects VR that have gained some innovators and early adopters: the military and police force, or medical professionals use VR for training purposes.  This way they can go into threatening or dangerous experiences without the risk.

Virtual simulators allow cadets to practice patrolling as a squad in a town, enter and clear a building, and perform other simulated operations.
Credit: United States Armed Forces

In general, however, VR is still not mainstream.  Initially this was because of price.  When the Oculus Rift came out as a consumer product, it started at $600 with touch controllers costing $199 each (because you need one for each hand in VR), pair that with a powerful enough PC and you’re forking out over $1500 for a fully functional gaming system and you’re still wired to your PC.  Other brands have entered into this space since Oculus pioneered VR, such as HTC (Vive), Playstation (headset), Samsung (Gear – from Oculus) and Google (Daydream and Cardboard) are venturing into the VR space.  Many of these are mobile, and  Google has just created the ability for their phones (that you will already be buying for ~ $800) to be turned into VR headsets.

It’s been 4 years since Rift was released as a development kit, and 2 years since they have been selling to a broader customer base.  This tech is still young and there are a lot of companies vying for position in the market.  Where they are benefiting is the growth of streaming media and introduction of 3D broadcasting.  3D is making it becoming mainstream, even the NFL was broadcasting some football games in 3D.

Netflix is providing a ton of content for VR as well as games being created specifically for it.  And now Occulus has the Go, a wireless system with a single controller.  The target for this product is wireless gaming and media immersion. Imagine sitting on an airplane putting on your headset and fully immersing yourself into a movie instead of watching it on that tiny screen on the back of the seat that keeps leaning closer and closer to you.  Ahh… that would be amazing.  Except to everyone around you, you look like a crazy person with that funky headset on.  Is the experience enough.  I say, yes.

And here comes the marketing.  Now, not marketed to developers, or to gamers.  Oculus is targeting the mass market.  Who better to sell these than our favorite movie and music stars.

Well, I believe that we are nearing a turning point in this VR cycle.  If it can make the jump over the chasm of adoption between the early adopters and the early majority we may have a product for the masses!  Wireless is one step in the right direction for more appeal, ease of use and comfort with watching the streaming media that they already know is another one.  The last big hurdle will be to see if VR can get out of the basement and into the public for the world to see and then it may be on fire.

For more ways to happily waste your time, check out all our fun links:

Is VR becoming hot?

Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and the IV Vitamin Drip: The Celebrity Effect on Social Media Marketing

What if there was a product that could offer a quick fix for the common cold, cure the dreaded hangover after a long night out, give you an energy boost after pulling an all-nighter on your presentation, or just generally help you feel better and younger?

Sounds too good to believe, right? Then, add the celebrity endorsement power of Rihanna, Madonna, Adele, Kim Kardashian, Simon Cowell, along with many other talented athletes and artists who have been seen using these products and espousing their benefits on social media, and these factors combine to create a powerful strategy for IV vitamin therapy companies to promote their services.

Why does it matter if celebrities are seen on social media using your products? Let’s explore the celebrity effect upon companies.  

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Photo Credit

What is IV Vitamin Therapy?

First off, what the heck is the IV Vitamin Therapy? Intravenous (IV) therapy delivers liquid substances into a vein and is the fastest way to deliver medication, vitamins and fluids throughout the body. IV therapy began in the 1830’s and became widely used in the healthcare industry after the 1950s. IV vitamin therapy is also referred to as vitamin drips. Typically, only 40% of over-the-counter vitamins ingested orally is absorbed into your body while vitamins administered intravenously will absorb at 99.9%.

Over the last few decades, companies have begun to offer IV vitamin therapy at spas specifically designed to provide these services and with mobile services at homes or concerts. Originally marketed as a hangover cure, these companies have now expanded the appeal of their product to include remedies for allergies, anxiety, depression, fatigue, colds and flu, along with being heralded as one of next big beauty treatments.

Incredible, right? These are amazing claims, but alas, scientific research has not quite caught up to validate these claims or to evaluate the safety of regularly receiving these treatments. You should consult a medical provider prior to jumping on the Kardashian IV Therapy bandwagon.

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Photo Credit

The Celebrity Effect

Does seeing a celebrity using a product affect a consumer’s purchasing decision? Yes, it does. One Taiwanese study showed that consumers remembered products associated with a celebrity better than other products. If you happen to be a fan of that celebrity, you’re more likely to place a higher value on that product. Your subconscious suggests to you that using the product is a way to emulate that celebrity’s desirable traits.

Does this mean that I’m going to run to the store to get one of the newest endorsed product by Ryan Reynolds, Aviation Gin? Not necessarily. Seeing your product used on social media by a celebrity mainly builds consumer confidence, preference and brand awareness through social media — especially when your target may include the social media savvy Generation Zers and Millennials.

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Photo Credit

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Remember Rihanna’s backlash at Snap Chat on Instagram? Stock prices dipped after the backlash but the company regained its losses later that week.  While this only had short term effect, it does not help the company’s image in the court of public opinion, especially with losing support of an influential celebrity in Snap Chat’s targeted market segment.

Does it work?

Yes, celebrity social media endorsements do contribute to the perceived value of a product or service. According to a report from Marketwatch, a simple brand signing of a celebrity or athlete can increase sales by an average of 4%. The social media presence of a celebrity using a product contributes to consumers’ trust and brand awareness, and promotes your product while influencing consumer purchase intentions.

Is this another Kardashian endorsed prepaid credit card? Will we see a resurgence in Trump Steaks and be happily grilling them over Labor Day weekend? Or brushing our teeth with a Justin Beiber singing toothbrush with Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen AquaFresh toothpaste? Hold on… having a celebrity endorsement does not guarantee your product or marketing strategy is successful.

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Photo Credit 

Keep in mind that celebrity endorsements are not enough to guarantee success in attracting new consumers or gaining acceptance in an emerging market. Gaining the endorsement of Justin Beiber or Rihanna may not necessarily matter to the consumers in your targeted market segment.  Companies must continue to demonstrate their value to consumers and show them how they’re providing benefits and value in real and tangible ways.

5 Best Marketing Tools of 2018

(from the opinion of a couple of Willamette MBA students)

Looking for a way to make your company stand out?  How do you know if you are reaching the right customer base? Confused with all of the tools and software programs available?

Well go no further! We have reviewed some marketing tools that will help you gain the market intelligence, analysis, awe-inspiring content creation, and social media management you’re craving.

Here are our top 5 picks:

Pardot 

This marketing tool powerhouse, focuses on Marketing Automation, allowing your sales & marketing team to work smarter, not harder.  Enjoy the ease of Advanced Email Marketing and formulated Lead Nurturing that helps you stay in touch with your prospect and move them to the Happy Customer Stage.  Pardot truly is an all-in-one marketing solution. Other features include:

  • Blended Lead Scoring & Grading
  • Prospect Activity Tracking
  • Forms & Landing Pages
  • Closed-loop reporting

SocialBakers

Ready to turn on the artificial intelligence?  Check out the AI-Powered Social Media Marketing Suite from SocialBakers.  Be a Master Marketer with Content Intelligence that provides details on A/B campaigns and what your consumers & prospects prefer.  Check out the full suite of features:

  • Audience Personas
  • Social Media Management
  • Social Media Monitoring
  • Community Management

Emma

Focused on the personal element for your company’s marketing?  Emma’s Content Creation is an easy to use interface that provides a personal but professional email campaign as a result.  With seamless integration with various CRM systems, Emma is the service you need to create beautiful emails that provide great ROI.  Also included in Emma’s services: 

  • Marketing Automation
  • Personalized triggers & follow up emails (tracking the journey of the customer)
  • Ease of use (speed & design) Email Editor
  • Email Analytics

    Google Trends

    Need to know if people are searching for your product or service online?  Well go to the source, Google Trends.  Explore what the world is searching to help narrow down your customer locale with global heat maps and compare keywords to see which provide better results.  Use the Historical Search Database to see what is trending in searches, and use the analysis feature to find related topics and queries.  Click the link below to take a short Google Lesson on how to effectively use Google Trends. 

LESSON: https://newsinitiative.withgoogle.com/training/lessons?tool=Google%20Trends&image=trends

AppAnnie 

Going Mobile?  Who isn’t now a-days?  Take AppAnnie for a spin and see how your business ranks in the app market with data & analytics. How much should you charge for access to your app? How can I ensure my app is driving engagement & targeting the right audience?  AppAnnie knows it all, and can provide a lot of knowledge for a little.  Check out AppAnnie:

We know there is a plethora of great software, knowledge base, and tools in the marketing game today.  We hope you enjoyed the tools we use to help make our marketing efforts successful.

Check back this week for more exciting insight into the brave new world of Marketing!

What do you think about the tools of the Digital Marketing Trade?  Give us your thoughts and feedback by clicking the survey link below!

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/3ZR7TXZ

Help us win the weekly vote!

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The Future of Paid Social Media Marketing: Kinda Creepy, but Also Smart

Professional Development Series

Interview Spotlight:

Nick Footer: Founder and CEO of Intuitive Digital 

We had the pleasure of interviewing Willamette MBA alumni Nick Footer about the continuously emerging market of paid social media advertising, how he got to where he is and where he thinks it’s going.

Tell us about your previous work experience and how you got to where you are at today.

So, way back in the day – by this I mean 2006 – when I was in college, Facebook was the new shiny object. I just geeked out on it; I thought it was the coolest thing since sliced bread. Along with a few other networks you might have heard about, like Myspace, I spent as much time trying to figure out and learn how a business could use these networks to get in front of consumers. Obviously, during that time the networks weren’t designed or optimized for this, but I still did a bunch of my undergrad work on social media, then went to agencies and did everything I could there.

Advertising really started on a lot of the channels like Facebook when they realized they’d need to make money to go public. They started focusing on ad capabilities and all of it was terrible. FB ripped off the same model forum sites had been using, just a bunch of banner ads down the side. The entire strategy was: get a bunch of eyeballs and people will pay. Paid advertising was pretty shitty when it started. It’s gotten better, but in large part, all they’ve done is a better job of hiding the fact you’re looking at an ad, coupled with better targeting. Actually, Facebook has bought a bunch of different companies just to feed in consumer data to improve targeting accuracy. It’s kinda creepy, but also smart.

Like IBM did by buying insurance companies to feed the health records data to Watson? Yes, exactly like that.

What’s changed from an agency perspective?

Five or six years ago, I wouldn’t recommend paid social to any of our clients. But I was also working with small businesses with small budgets so there were better places to spend their marketing dollars. Today I recommend paid social to almost all our clients. It still has problems, but with the additional targeting capabilities, you can get a good return on investment.

When would you not use paid social?

Facebook sometimes isn’t the best for super B2B. LinkedIn has gotten better but you need a large target audience both geographically and in volume to eventually get to the right people.

What challenges do you face in posting quality content within your field?

The biggest challenge is what used to work 6 months ago doesn’t work today and what’s working today won’t work in 6 months. The industry is evolving faster than it ever has and I think this will continue for at least the next couple of years.

Can you give us an example of this?

Sure, let’s stick with Facebook as an example. Content posts where you’re just sharing linked content with a blurb to drive web traffic specifically is dying.

What’s working now is content that’s literally engaging with or trying to get responses with your audience. So actual comments back and forth. This increases its edge rank and helps it show up organically in people’s feeds.

Does that work when you’re asking consumers to engage with a brand?

 It’s definitely more difficult as a brand. We’ve seen some success with letting people know who the social team behind the brand are. It’s not faceless IBM, it’s these three people managing IBM’s Facebook account.

Other than the obvious mechanic differences, what other important ways do you think paid social differ from organic?

The difference for us is that is that we do all our testing organically. Once we find the most engaging content, that’s the stuff we then use in our paid campaigns. This has a lower cost for our clients because we’re cherry picking the best.

Also, you always need to think about who you’re targeting. Targeting your potential customers is what paid content is for. With organic, you’re targeting people who’ve already liked your page.

Let’s talk about the difference in B2B and B2C.

In B2C providing specific offers, usually, a discount code or coupon continues to work well. We have an online pet store that’s just murdered it on Facebook. In large part, it’s because they’re offering 10% discounts to people who’ve liked their page.

B2B isn’t rocket science either. It’s normally trying to provide thought leadership and content. We’ve done a lot of white papers and also had great success with getting people signed up for video drip campaigns. You’ve got to make it easy to engage with the content. We make sure we have a really low risk for signing up; all that’s required is an email and these are short videos, 90 seconds and you’re out. We’re also doing Youtube and other remarketing based on them.

 What do you think is coming with paid social?

For me, I hate interruption marketing, but that’s still really the only way that we’ve been able to do it. I see a continuation of that through in-stream video, specifically geotargeted and very specific to content. So, if someone snaps a video and says, “I’m outside of this club!”, people who open that up will get a specific ad from that club. It’s going to get creepier in terms of AI knowing what we’re saying, where we are and who’s viewing it through crawling the voice content or the image. To me that’s really going to get pushed is our line of privacy.

Obviously, there are also other smaller platforms. If you have a specific demographic or psychographic which aligns, these can be really effective. There’s probably going to be more of those as Facebook trends down. This opens up some places in the future.

What’s your favorite thing about social media marketing?

What I love most about social media is the ability to communicate directly with your end consumer. Prior to social, you had to pay hundreds of thousands (if not more) to have the type of communication you can now have organically through the internet.

If you liked Nick’s Q&A Interview Check Out Other Posts in the Series: 

Q&A with Andrew Hickey: Ten Top Tips on Linkedin Marketing

CAN POKÉMON GO BE REVIVED?

CAN POKÉMON GO USE A REVIVE?
HAS POKÉMON GO MANIA FAINTED??

Upon release Pokémon GO was one of the most successful apps ever, with immediate viral public appeal. It was so popular, in fact, that it crashed Niantic’s servers due to the popularity. One can speculate that Niantic underestimated the popularity of the product. Pokémon GO was constantly in the news and the public eye during July, August and September. Much like the late 90’s, Pokémania was in full effect, and just like in the 90s, Pokémon Go’s popularity has subsided. In our opinion, Niantic lacked a long term business strategy when launching this product. With the recent release of Gen 2, what can Niantic do to regain some of that “spark” from the summer of 2016?

Here are some ideas that could revive the franchise:

  • Boost marketing efforts during spring
  • Capitalize on social media apps
  • Trading with friends
  • Encourage outside social interactivity
  • Capitalize on the nostalgia factor

Boost marketing efforts during Spring 2017: The weather will be nice enough for people to walk outside and be active again, give them something they can do outside! There is no better way to regain an audience than reminding people of your product as they come out of their winter hibernation. We suggest marketing on social media platforms like Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram. Their next best marketing move will be finally releasing the long-awaited Legendary Pokemon to kick-off another chapter for the game series. 

Ellen managed to persuade a Bulbasaur to stick around for a photo-op.

Capitalize on social media apps: Pokémon Go should first decide which channels best suit its needs and then put processes in place to make sure that these channels are feeding customers through the funnel of decision making for purchases and providing the full-frontal user experience. Partnering up with Snapchat, much like bitmoji, can help Pokémon GO stay relevant and “in” within the eyes of the target demographic: millennials.

Trading with friends: Part of what made Pokémon so popular in the 90’s was the ability to become social with other people by simply trading IRL. Having a trading mechanic (which so many people have been asking for) that limits trading Pokémon to people within 4 feet of you will help users attain Pokémon they don’t have in their home biome.

Encourage outside social interactivity: Setting Pokémon lures should be an incentive for Pokémon GO players to gather. The lure setter should earn extra XP for everyone catching Pokémon in their lure, which means more $$ for Niantic. Since their revenue comes from their limited PokéCoin sales and by selling user information, seems as though they’re about due for a steady cash flow.

  1. Capitalize on the nostalgia factor: Nostalgia is a MAJOR
    Remember the good ol’ days…

    factor in games and platforms that have been around for multiple generations. Just look at the Super Mario Run app. These 2nd Gen Pokémon create less feelings of nostalgia and home for long-time Pokémon community members. Pokémon Go needs to unleash the power that’s already inside. New Pokémon Go fans are not as familiar with the newer generations. We recommend having small story lines that introduce the new generation of Pokémon. Sticking with the first 151 Pokémon is not a sustainable strategy and moving forward they need to work harder to integrate newer generations.


  2. Historically speaking, the Pokémon franchise can attribute its popularity to the social interactions it facilitated, whether that be meeting another Pikachu lover or trading someone for the their best Pokémon card. In the early 2000s once the original Pokémon fever had died down the franchise was able to stay relevant within their niche market, with the constant release of new Pokémon generations. Even though the Pokémon franchise was not as prominent in popular media’s eyes the Pokémon Company has survived more than 20 years with each Pokémon game outselling its competition.  We believe Pokémon Go can be revived.

Facebook vs Linkedin, Who Will Do it Better?

Original Article: You Might Find Your Next Employee (or Job) on Facebook

Facebook is making its creepily comprehensive knowledge of its users available to employers looking to hire help.

Original Contributor: Lesya Liu

Businesses in the U.S. and Canada will now be able to post job openings and review applications on Facebook. Users who are considered to be a good fit by Facebook will see the job listing in their newsfeed. Apparently, Facebook is trying to compete with Linkedin in the job search market using their huge daily user base, but here comes the question; Is Facebook really capable of doing that?

“You might lose a chance at a job before you even get your chance”
Given the nature of the personal interactions between Facebook users and their posting behaviors, the article argues that applicants would lose their chances in jobs at the early stages because of their posts, interests, and images on their profiles, but this could be a double-edged sword because the firms can match applicants with their organizational culture based on their posting behavior. This would save both sides a lot of time and effort during the hiring process and give applicants another strength by showing who they really are!  
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“Facebook beats specialty networks in their games”
The article argues that Facebook is trying to beat LinkedIn as a professional platform, however, LinkedIn interaction’s dynamics are different than Facebook’s. LinkedIn targets professionals with high levels of education. On the other hand, Facebook depends on the personal relations between users that would lead to a bigger pool for part-time jobs and low-level opportunities.



“Put paying customers in the driving seat”
Although Facebook has 60 million business pages, only 4 million are actively advertising. The author, Lesya, argues that the new job search attempt is just a way for Facebook to increase its advertising revenue by attracting the small businesses. However, Facebook is trying to overcome the fact that its organic reach is almost gone. Therefore, Facebook is making use of the job listings by letting the businesses pay to promote their openings and drive more traffic to the platform.

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