Archive for September, 2010

Small businesses are getting it!

Those that follow my blog know that small businesses are near and dear to my heart—more specifically, their feelings about and usage of social media.  And, ofcourse, so is measurement/data. 

Given this, I am happy to report that yet another study has been completed on the usage of social media by small businesses.   According to research conducted by Network Solutions and the Center for Excellence in Service at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, small-business adoption of social media marketing seems to have plateaued at 24% after experiencing double digit growth over the past few years.  That said, small businesses are reaping the benefits of their efforts.

The study of US small businesses found that those that do market via social media primarily use Facebook (82%), and that the most common activities are maintaining a company page on a social network and posting status updates or links to interesting content. About half of businesses that used social media also monitored brand chatter on social networks.

While the performance of the social media channels they used didn’t always line up with their expectations, the performance of the social media tactics employed by small businesses was relatively effective; particularly as it relates to staying engaged with current customers (65%), increasing brand awareness among targeted audiences (64%), and identifying and attracting new customer (53%).

Performance of Social Media Tactics, June 2010 (% of US small businesses)

So what business objectives have small businesses achieved through social media?  The usual: 

  • Connecting with customers through sites like Facebook and LinkedIn
  • Increasing traffic to the company website through Facebook
  • Increasing traffic to the company website through LinkedIn
  • Increasing customers following the company on Twitter

While small businesses seemed to have been more successful in achieving relationship and brand building objectives through social media, about one-third have achieved sales leads through Facebook (36%) and LinkedIn (35%).  Far fewer, only 16%, say they have achieved sales leads from Twitter.

Business Objectives Achieved via Social Media, June 2010 (% of US small businesses*)

While small businesses are achieving the benefits of social media, they are experiencing some of the downsides of being so visible—online criticism.  The percentage of small businesses saying their business had been criticized online nearly doubled (to 29%) since December.  That said, only 1% of small businesses said their image was hurt more than it was helped by social media, a decline from last year (6%).

While the percentage of small businesses using social media may have plateaued (for now), the report does show us that even small businesses are reaping the rewards of having a social media presence and strategy.

Happy marketing!

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The next generation of new product development…

As a marketer and a market researcher, I get really jazzed when I find something that makes my job easier…a lot easier.  And I just found something that I believe will revolutionize the new product development component of marketing.  Here’s how:

When you are developing a new product, one of the major headaches you will experience revolves around getting comps (marketing or engineering) of your product to show potential investors, partners and/or distributors.  Not only can this development phase be costly in terms of prototyping, but it can take a lot of time and people resources.   

Well folks, I am very happy to say that times they are a changing as it relates to prototyping.   

Enter the talented folks at PixelMachine!   

To better explain how Pixel Machine makes CGI visualization work for their clients, let’s look at it in a “problem/opportunity/result” way. 

Analysis Paralysis: Stop doodling and start rendering!

(Click here to see the before and after)

Problem: Building physical prototypes of products in development is fantastically expensive. Using illustrations and cobbled together mock-ups not only degrade the effect of the prototype, they can be at odds with your high quality (high price) brand strategy.  Thus, your comps detract from your brand and leave you with zero interest with respect to investors and distribution partners.

Opportunity: CGI can create a realistic and accurate image and video of your product BEFORE it is actually built.  Thus, it allows you to test your product in focus groups and elsewhere, gain valuable consumer and end-user insights and develop initial marketing materials before you have invested the huge amount of money in prototyping. Edits are quick and require only a re-rendering.  Imagine that!

Result: Final renders (that model your product from supplied schematics or illustrations) are developed with accurate materials such as metals, plastics, glass, paper, etc. resulting in physically accurate images suitable for making mission critical development decisions and changes.

 Departmental Inertia: CGI allows Engineering and Marketing to work together, imagine that!

Problem: You’ve spent money on in-house or contract CAD design of your product, but you need photorealistic images or video to promote the product in print, on the web or on mobile devices. Further, CAD rendering quality usually leaves much to be desired.

Opportunity: Leverage your sizable costs of CAD development by using existing CAD files for photorealistic images and video animations.

Result: Using your provided CAD designs, the company creates imagery (still and animated) that is indistinguishable from photography or captured video. They can animate product functionality, show exploded views, 360˚ rotations, etc.  In the end, you receive hi-resolution images and videos of your products at a cost that is far less than ‘from scratch’ model creation… it allows you to get more mileage out of your CAD investment!

While you won’t ever really get around having to do physical prototyping, what CGI visualization allows you to do is do a better job at concepting and evaluating new product ideas before you spend the money, time and people resources to develop a physical product. 

So what does this mean to me?  As a marketer (and a market researcher for that matter), I can have a much more defined and evaluated product before I enter a market or look for “angel” funding.

 Happy Marketing!

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