Online Marketing & Your Privacy: Can They Coexist?

As a marketing professional, I find myself in a conundrum. I completely understand companies wanting to gather information about me in order to present a more personalized experience. Targeted ads, relevant special offers, personalized product suggestions.

Online information tracking creates security concerns

But it’s scary. We live in a digital world, and identity theft and fraud are on the rise. If we don’t have our identity, what do we have? I’ve heard horror stories of people having their identities stolen and fighting for years to get it back, clean up their credit report, etc..

Recently, I read an informative article from Lifehacker about protecting your information online. It really made me think, and I proceeded to install some security plug-ins for my browser and strengthen my security settings. However, I soon ran into issues.

Sites that I commonly use (and trust), such as clients, vendors and mainstream services, were rendered ineffective. I’ve already run into multiple instances where I couldn’t even log in to these sites without enabling cookies. Also, these plug-ins seem to be really slowing down my browsing experience. So what to do? What do you do?

I did check out Lifehacker’s “The Best Replacements for Privacy-Invading Services,” along with other suggestions for bypassing some of these companies and services. But do I really want to forego Gmail and Facebook entirely? I can’t imagine removing my Facebook company page in lieu of a presence on Glassboard. Would you? Have you?

As noted, I can definitely see both points of view as a marketer and consumer. I enjoy the personalized experience and convenience that information tracking allows. However, I’m at a crossroads right now. Security or convenience & personalization? Can these two sides ever coexist?

I would love to hear your suggestions and experiences on how you live in our digital world while maintaining your privacy. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

Stay safe,
Jaime

Image credit: cedro via Flickr

I’m grateful for… “I have an app for that.”

Save anywhere with Pocket

I recently read a blog post by Lifehacker asking readers what free apps they are most thankful for this year. That’s when I realized how much I utilize apps to make my life, both personal and professional, run smoothly. What are your favorite apps (paid or free)?

Here are 7 apps that have become a part of my regular routine (in alphabetical order):

  •  Dropbox — this awesome app allows me to access my files anywhere from any of my devices. Also, it’s an easy way to collaborate on projects due to its sharing capabilities. Dropbox was a life saver when I was working on a printing project with a customer in China earlier this year and working with large art files that needed several revisions.
  • Evernote — my favorite note-taking app! I use Evernote daily for work and play. From keeping a running shopping list to making note of possible gift ideas, this app is easy to use and share with others. In fact, it’s my app of choice for gathering quotes, successful case studies and ideas from events that I work for clients.

  • ING Direct — I love banking with ING, who was recently bought by Capital One and is becoming Capital One 360. I’m crossing my fingers that they, and their app, won’t change for the worse (which I’m sure it won’t). I love being able to check my account balances, pay bills, transfer money, find an ATM, cash checks and more from the convenience of my phone — anywhere at any time.
  • Mint.com — my financial snapshot at my fingertips. Plug in your accounts so you can easily keep an eye on your finances — loans, investments, checking and savings, mortgage, etc. If it affects your finances, it’s there. Budget, see where you spend your money and save for those goals, like that vacation on a tropical island.

mint.com app

  • MyFitnessPal — this app allows me to track calories, fat, sugar, sodium, etc. and view a snapshot for the day, week or month. Enter your exercise as well, so you can see your net calorie intake and stay on track fitness-wise. The database has thousands of foods already entered, or you can enter your own, like my legendary peanut butter cream pie. Remember, a sound body means a sound mind too.
  • Pocket — I’m always coming across interesting headlines or intriguing websites right as it’s my turn to check out, a lunch appointment shows up or the light turns green. No problem, I just save it to my Pocket. This handy app lets you save favorites for viewing later on any device and share easily to social networks or non-social friends as well (i.e. text messaging, email).

Save anywhere with Pocket

  • Pulse — It’s 2012 and my newspaper is now on the Web, customized to me. Stay up-to-date on the latest news anywhere via any one of your devices, and easily share what interests you to your social networks or save for reading later when you’re stuck in line. Create pages so you can flip through content similar to the sections in a physical newspaper; only now, you create the sections, specify the content and don’t have to recycle the paper later.

So if you run into me in the real world while I’m on my phone, I’m probably using one of these apps. They’re game changers, and they have improved my life for the better.

What apps have found a permanent place in your life? I’d love to hear your favorites! While you’re at it, remember to be thankful for some other things in your life too.

You might also like: 50 Things I’m Grateful For…

Image credits: Evernote, Mint.com, Pocket

Be Thankful,
Jaime

Social Media Savvy: It’s All About the Brand

Twitter bird icon

UPDATED: It’s Still All About the Brand

Whether you’re a social media superstar or a company touting your social savvy, it’s all about the brand. The social media platforms’ brands, that is. Are you brand compliant?

Facebook logo          Google+ branding          Twitter bird icon          Pinterest logo          LinkedIn logo

In July, Twitter switched its iconic identity from its well-known “t” logo to the bird. I still see “t’s” dotting the digital landscape everywhere I go.

Facebook prefers the “f” logo and generally does not allow use of the full Facebook logo.

Google+ offers a configuration tool for use of its logo online, but does not approve of the use of its +1 icon in online ads.

Pinterest offers use of both its full name and “p” logos and gives examples of successful brands utilizing its platform.

The LinkedIn name (not logo) should always be accompanied by the ® or ™ symbol, and its logo should always be used in color for online use (and offline, if practical).

For your convenience, I’ve included links below to current branding guidelines for these networks:

Remember, you can still get social while being brand compliant!

Are you using outdated branding guidelines to promote your social media usage? Have you never even given social media branding a second thought? I’d love to hear your take on this topic along with any other suggestions you have to shine on the social media stage.

While you’re at it, connect with me! Below are links to my presences on these social networks. I’d love to hear from you via these networks or in the comments below.

Enjoy the day,
Jaime

Facebook logo  Google+ branding  Twitter bird icon  Pinterest logo  LinkedIn logo

Image credits:
Facebook Brand Permissions Center *** Google+ Brand Guidelines *** Twitter Trademark and Content Display Policy *** Pinterest Goodies *** LinkedIn Branding Guidelines

Local or Global — Where’s Your Business?

There seem to be a couple of different schools of thought on doing business today.

Local or Global?

Local or Global — Where’s your business focused?
Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Local has been a hot topic the past couple of years with mobile and check-in services, where you can help promote a company and/or receive special offers by checking in, downloading an app, opting in to receive text messages, etc. For example, I had dinner with a friend at a restaurant in downtown Akron, and it offered a discount on our dinner if we downloaded its app. (Neither of us did because we didn’t feel the app was worthwhile but the offer was there nonetheless.) Companies can even entice you to stop in by alerting you of special offers if you’re in the vicinity of their store.

However, some companies would rather market themselves globally or at least nationally. They don’t list a physical location on their website or marketing literature and use an 800 number so potential customers don’t know immediately where they’re located. These companies may project an image of being a large, strong company that has numerous resources at its disposal or simply one that takes advantage of technology to extend its reach.

I see pros and cons to both philosophies, and I’ve included some benefits below.

Local Pros

  • Encourage customers to support local business / economy
  • Focus marketing efforts on specific area
  • Take advantage of check-in services, special offers via mobile

Global / National Pros

  • Market image of large company with impressive resources (i.e. buying power, partners, locations)
  • Larger area for potential customers, referrals
  • Keep customers if they move

Does your business market itself as a local or global/national brand? Is that position highlighted in your marketing efforts?

My business -- Clearly Conveyed Communications

My marketing & branding company, Clearly Conveyed Communications, is based in Akron, OH but targets clients nearly anywhere.

As a small business owner, I’m targeting new, potential clients nearly anywhere but don’t shy away from where I’m located. I love living and working in Akron, OH and enjoy helping fellow companies and brands in the area with their marketing and branding efforts and event planning needs. However, I’ve made some wonderful connections over the past decade that have led to projects with companies out of state (technology rocks, doesn’t it?). So I guess I tend to think of myself as a local company with a national reach partly due to the services that I offer.

What are your thoughts?

  • Does the size of the company factor into this decision?
  • Products or services offered?
  • How did your company decide how to market itself?


So are you local or global? Or do you see yourself as a hybrid — a local company with a national/global reach? I’d love to hear from you.

Cheers,
Jaime 

Technology: It’s Not Just For Trekkies Anymore

Trekkies!

The Original Series Trekkies at BayCon 2003
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Technology has permeated all aspects of society from the workplace to how we order pizza. (If you’re still phoning in your orders for the popular pies, get with the program.) You probably utilize technology throughout your daily routine and don’t even realize it. Why? Because it works. You don’t have to understand why it works or how it works as long as it does. You may not realize just how plugged in you are until there’s an interruption (like last weekend’s storms / power outages).

The uninterrupted access provided by technology offers us increased flexibility – in how we work and how we live. You’re no longer tied to an office to get work done; smart phones, laptops and wireless technology allow us to log in from virtually anywhere.

Because of this virtual landscape, technology items cross over from work to play effortlessly, resulting in increased usage and visibility.

When you promote your business with a branded technology item, it will be seen – again and again – lowering the cost per impression (CPI) to a miniscule amount. When recipients use – and like – the item you gave them, they recommend it to others and associate your company with that good feeling. Who should I go to when I need a service? Oh, there’s XYZ company on my USB drive.

Also driving exposure and CPI is technology’s lengthy shelf life, so to speak. Yes, it’s constantly evolving, but items don’t quickly become obsolete.

Remember when everyone thought we would be driving flying cars by now?

New features are introduced and items are redesigned, but at the end of the day, it’s still a digital photo frame. It’s still practical, stylish and occupies prime desktop real estate.

Think technology is out of reach on your budget? With the continued evolution, prices become more and more competitive.

Remember IBM’s first USB drives debuting at $50 for 8MB of storage? Your dollar will go a little further these days.

And don’t discount accessories. The technology arena has expanded to include embellishments that make your life even easier, protect your gadgets or just make them look cool.

The important thing to remember about technology is that it’s ingrained in every aspect of life for most of us. So when you delve into this popular category, you extend your reach into places your company could boldly never go before.

Cheers,
Jaime

Social Media: What Do I Say? (Part 2)

In the last post, we discussed how to recycle quality content from other resources. As mentioned, this is a great way to continue to provide your fans and followers with compelling content while not bearing the load of always creating original content. It’s also a wonderful way to make connections on social media platforms and draw the attention of others.

Original Content
At some point, you will want to create original content as well. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be as intimidating as it sounds. There are several ways to quickly create engaging content to help draw your fans and followers into a conversation with you.

  • Successful case studies / testimonials — these are a great way to showcase what your business can do without saying so yourself. Customer testimonials or situations where you came through for a customer show other customers and prospects that you are a dependable business who will solve their challenges too. Check with customers before sharing specific information, such as their client names, order amounts or details of a project that may include proprietary business practices, etc.
  •  This / that questions — ask a question with two answers — this or that. For example, you see two new products at a tradeshow. Post pictures of both and ask your fans or followers whether they prefer product A or product B. It’s a great way to engage your fans and also garner feedback on what they like.
  • Pictures / videos — images are such a powerful way to break through the sea of text online and help to establish a human connection with your followers. Post pictures of your building, yourself with clients, product testing, at shows, etc. Don’t be afraid to mix in personal ones as well!
  • Quotes — inspiring or positive quotes can be a great way to make people smile and catch their attention. Quotes are often highly shared or retweeted, so they’re a great way to grow your follower base.

Don’t get overwhelmed with producing fresh content and stop updating your social media in fear of posting the wrong thing. Just use common sense when posting, and don’t be afraid to mix personal in with business. Yes, you have to be careful, but it’s a great way to show the person or people behind your business. Always remember…

People do business with people, not businesses.

They want to know who you are, what your hobbies are and the connections they have with you. Social media is a fantastic way to truly get social, and bring a human touch online and off.

Do you have other ideas on creating original content for social media? Please share in the comments. I would love to hear about them!

Jaime