Customer Focus

  • The Viral Myth: How to Create Content That Gets Shared

    In the digital era, every company would love to create a video that goes viral. Millions of impressions — at a fraction of the cost of television advertising — is an alluring prospect, fueled by examples like the massive success of the "Will It Blend" videos by Blendtec, a Utah-based middle market company. But most companies do it all wrong, says online video expert Tim Street, digital show runner for Ape Digital. "People fail at creating viral videos because they create by committee, don't know the ingredients, don't have a launch plan, and don't know how to care for a video once it's released," he says. Just as sure-thing Hollywood blockbusters sometimes falter, you can never guarantee that a video will explode. Savvy middle market companies recognize they have less leeway to fail than major movie studios, so here are Street's tips for creating compelling content that's likely to hit the mark.

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  • 6 Tips to Make a Case Study Work for Your Company

    The case study is a standard tool of business classes. But there's another type of case study: the user story. Rather than looking for the complete extended dissection of a business problem, this piece tries to present through context the advantages of a product, service, method, or concept. User stories are a staple for large corporations, which want to present their best faces both to the press and to potential customers. However, there is no reason that only giants can use this marketing technique. Middle market companies can make great use of such case studies, but you want to approach them the right way.

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  • Mastering Real-Time Marketing

    Lately, real-time marketing has become the holy grail for marketers. If you can fire off a witty tweet – like Arby's famously did at the Grammy Awards, noting the resemblance of the rapper Pharrell's hat to their logo — you can win massive brand recognition and acclaim. (They racked up 75,000 retweets and 40,000 favorites virtually overnight.) But the dangers are real, warns Lisa Chau, founder of social media consultancy Alpha Vert. "Real-time marketing is risky," she says. "A well-executed, real-time marketing decision has the potential for high reward, however. The return on a calculated risk can be bigger than anything planned ahead of time."

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  • Strategic Planning: Using Customer Personas to Develop a Competitive Edge

    It's human nature: When we design products, we often design for ourselves. Sometimes, when your strategic planning is perfectly aligned with the needs of your customers, this can work well. But other times it means you're missing critical nuances and the opportunities they present. "We call that self-centered design," said Phillip Djwa, founder and principal of Agentic Digital Media, a web development agency that works with many middle market companies.  Read More >
  • Social Networking: When Is It Time to Adopt?

    New technologies are always coming into existence. Social networking has been on the crest of the hype wave for a number of years now. Venture capitalists have poured money into the sector, which has seen three major IPOs: LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. According to company-reported traffic numbers, more than a billion people check in each month globally, with audience growth still underway.  Read More >
  • Has Facebook Marketing Lost Youth Appeal? (And Does It Matter?)

    Middle market companies seeking to build a sustainable business are facing what may become a new trend: young users leaving Facebook for other social networks. In a high-tech world, reality can turn inside out and upside down quickly. Look at Facebook marketing. The service started among college students, expanded to high schoolers and older users, and then finally allowed advertising. The resulting rush to reach users of the social network propelled the company through enormous and continued growth.  Read More >
  • Strategic Objectives for Success: Driving Market Disruption

    No matter your strategic objectives, market disruption is a brutal fact of life for many middle market companies. Everywhere are the corpses of once-triumphant corporate behemoths who have fallen victim to disruptive innovation. Rochester-based Kodak, once the world's largest producers of film, decided not to pursue the market-revolutionizing digital camera while its competitors did. In the end, Kodak's film business would be disrupted and the company would file for Bankruptcy. Having strategic objectives is fine, but be prepared for disruption - and try to lead it.  Read More >
  • How to Become a Social Business

    For years, business leaders have heard the mantra: Your marketing department must embrace social media. Blogs, podcasts, Facebook, and Twitter are all important. But that vision of the future may actually be too narrow, says Mark Fidelman, author of Socialized!: How the Most Successful Businesses Harness the Power of Social. He argues that we need to reframe the conversation because the real challenge is becoming a social business.   Read More >
  • Why Brand Marketing Is Changing - And How to Keep Up

    If you're like most middle market leaders, you're inundated with unwanted marketing messages - endless radio and television ads, spam email, junk flyers in your mailbox, and more. The same is true for our customers, and that's why traditional brand marketing approaches are quickly losing their effectiveness, says Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute and author of the new book Epic Content Marketing.  Read More >
  • A Customer Training Program Serves More Than One Critical Purpose

    By Rob Carey
    Depending on the product or service your company offers, a customer training program might be an absolute necessity, or simply an amenity that adds value. Nonetheless, anytime you use a training program or other means to engage customers in an effort to learn more about the usefulness of your product, you create an environment whereby those customers will be more satisfied with your product.  Read More >
  • Personalized Customer Experience: The Future of Success

    Understanding the personalized customer experience can be challenging but worth the trouble. Unless, of course, you're happy to see behemoths crush you and start-ups undercut your markets. Hype masters have used the term customer experience "personalization" in different ways for years: relationship marketing, one-on-one business, mass customization.  Read More >

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