Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Small Business Marketing News Update - Klout May Not Be Delivering Real Clout For Jacksonville Businesses

Several Jacksonville marketing firms that been touting to their clients the importance of increasing their scores on social measuring sites such as Klout.com. They also advocate targeting the top Klout scorers because they are online influencers who could have an impact on their client’s product, service or idea.

But when you dig down into what is being measured, are these social scoring services really compiling accurate data needed to determine if someone is a major influencer?

If you are not familiar with these social sites, there are several free measuring services such as Klout, Kred and Peerindex that offer a third party evaluation of a person’s activity and social capital online.

One of the problems I have with these services is that they do not take data from any other source than Twitter and Facebook. They do not collect data from Google, Linkedin or blogs. Twitter is the major data source for them because Twitter activity is one of few social networks that doesn’t firewall conversations.

And people can game Klout with Twitter. A good example is when you constantly see an individual tweet their location (I’m at the gas station or I’m at so and so restaurant.) The more tweets someone has, the higher their score is on Klout. So does that really make them an “influencer?” 

Paul Gillin, a columnist for B-to-B magazine (New Channels by Paul Gillin) has an excellent expose’ about the value of measuring online influence. His concern is somewhat two fold. First, he believes that influence involves decisions that are more complex. He reports “conversations at conferences – over dinner or on the golf course – help decision-makers work out important details. The bigger and more complex the decision, the less likely it is that those who influence it are sharing their recommendations on Facebook.”

His second concern is that social media has demonstrated that audience size has little to do with influence, particularly in the narrow markets that typify b-to-b transactions. He goes on to say that the measurement services frame their definition of influence by number of followers and retweets. Gillin hits home this point by saying that, based on this criteria, Lady Gaga is the most influential person on the planet.

Gillin offers additional excellent examples of the flaws of measurement sites:

Marc Andreesen is one of the fathers of the modern Internet; but because he rarely uses Twitter, he earns mediocre rankings on the two most popular measurement service sites.

Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, because of his job, cannot use Twitter. According to these sites, he has no influence!

I would have to agree with Gillin in his assessment that for b-to-c marketers, these services have limited use. And for b-to-b marketers, they are almost useless. Therefore, I caution Jacksonville businesses not to place too much confidence and too much time online with social measurement sites.

If you get a chance to read Gillin’s column each month in B-to-B magazine, you won’t be disappointed with his updates of online industry trends. His website is www.gillin.com.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Small Business Marketing News Update - Jacksonville TV Stations Sold To Cox Media Group

There is news out that Newport Television, LLC has sold 22 of its television stations, two of which are WTEV and WAWS in Jacksonville. The other side of this news is that they were sold to Cox Media Group, which owns WAPE, WFYV and WOKV in Jacksonville.

Consolidation of media outlets is nothing new today. However in the past, it used to be a real concern, particularly by the government, and specifically by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

In the mid 80’s in North Florida, Morris Communications, which owns the Florida Times Union, underwent the process of purchasing Naegele Outdoor Advertising Inc. The FCC was questioning that Morris, through ownership of the city’s only daily newspaper and the largest billboard company in North Florida, would have too much control over the media.

As a partner of one of the major advertising agencies in Jacksonville at that time, I was interviewed by the U.S. Attorney General’s office. They wanted to know if sales representatives from the Times Union were putting pressure on me to buy billboards along with their print ads. (Just for the record, I never experienced that issue from Times Union sales reps and I had no problem with the purchase.) The newspaper was finally cleared to purchase the billboard company. Years later, Morris sold the billboard business.

Today the FCC has been lax in their policies. The agency has ignored many problems, including a major issue that is very obvious to the viewing public - the problem with stations ratcheting up the audio volume during commercials. The U.S. Congress had to step in to offer a remedy.

Good or bad the buying and selling of media properties is going to continue. And with broadcast companies, further movement will be seen with the emergence of Hulu and other Internet sources.

As far as Cox taking over WTEV and WAWS, no one knows for sure how that will turn out. Years ago, ClearChannel, which had a group of Jacksonville radio stations, took control of these two same stations. Management tried to have the TV sales force and the radio sales force cross sell their stations. That didn’t last long. It was too difficult to mix the two sales cultures.

All we can hope for as viewers and as media specialists is that Cox will invest the dollars in these stations to provide attractive programming to the North Florida market.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Small Business Marketing News Update - Jacksonville's Small Retailers Need To Be Aware Of Current M-Commerce Trends

If you think it has been hard for Jacksonville’s small, local retailers to compete with the big chains, thanks to mobile marketing, the picture has become bleaker. And in some cases, m-commerce is presenting a problem for the big retailers, too.

Internet Retailer magazine ran a series of articles that details how consumers are now going to brick and mortar stores to view products and compare prices, but are eventually making their purchases online with their smartphones.  

Actually 29% of consumers who use smartphones for product research while in a retail store buy online, according to data research from ClickIQ.

Not only does this create a big disadvantage for small retailers, but the large retailers are also taking a major hit. For example, the ClickIQ study showed the most frequently used retail store customers visited for product research was Best Buy at 36%. They were able to retain 35% of the researchers who ended up buying at the store with another 14% who bought at BestBuy.com.

But it starts to drop from there, with Wal-Mart experiencing 30% researchers with 26% purchasing at the store and 10% buying at Walmart.com. Target was third with 29% researchers, 29% in-store purchasers and 8% buying at Target.com.

Research data revealed that the reasons customers purchased online was mainly due to price at 67%, followed by availability of product at 14%, product features at 8%, and free shipping at 7%.  

ClickIQ also identified profiles of consumers using smartphones. The research found…
-       51% of mobile comparison shoppers who research in-store and buy online are between ages of 18 – 39 and 55% are male;
-       26% between ages of 30 – 39 and 25% between the ages of 18 – 29 have recently used a mobile device to research a product while in a store;
-       The numbers drop with age for those researching in a store with 12% between ages of 40 – 49; 6% between ages of 50 – 59; and 2% over the age of 60.

One major retailer trying to break this trend is Walgreens. According to Internet Retailer, Walgreens is using mobile/social shopping service technology such as foursquare and Facebook Places to greet customers on their smartphones as they walk into the store. The Walgreens apps offer customers onscreen product recommendations, promotions and special price points available at that specific location. 

But there are other clouds looming online that will be an additional threat to local retail businesses. That’s the online giants Amazon.com and eBay.

Of the 97 million U.S. adults who owned a smartphone running Apple iOS, an Android or a BlackBerry operating system, 45.4% visited Amazon.com’s m-commerce site or used the e-retailers’apps in March, according to the Mobile Metrix 2.0 report from the web and mobile measurement firm comScore Inc.

eBay Inc. followed with 28% of smartphone users visiting the m-commerce site or using eBay’s apps.

For the top 15 Internet destinations measured by comScore, 81.5% of visitors’ time was spent on apps while 18.5% was spent on sites.

According to comScore, the top 15 mobile destinations are (in order of number of unique visitors)...  
Google, Inc.
Yahoo sites
Wikimedia Foundation sites
Apple, Inc.
AOL Inc.
eBay Inc.
Rovio (Angry Birds)
The Weather Channel
Microsoft sites

For more information, go to the April and June issues of Internet Retailer magazine and look for the articles authored by bill@verticalwebmedia.com.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Small Business Marketing News Update - 121 Financial Credit Union Partners With WJXT-TV To Bring Financial Tips To Jacksonville Viewers

In an effort to position itself as “the local financial experts,” 121 Financial Credit Union has partnered with WJXT-TV (Channel 4) to bring financial news tips to viewers in a segment called “4 Your Money” that airs during the station’s “The Morning Show.”

The news segments feature interviews with various financial experts from 121 Financial Credit Union. Past segments have covered wide-interest topics such as mortgage sources for people underwater; financial education for children; identity theft; debt settlement; tips on using debit cards; and various ways to finance your education.

In each segment a121 Financial expert will offer a brief overview of a topic and then the audience is given contact information on the TV screen as to where they can obtain additional information about that topic. It has become an easy avenue for people to get financial information important to them, and gives young singles and families access to financial data that they otherwise may not have. To date, 121 Financial has reported a great response coming in after the interviews.  

In order for people to see the segments again or to catch segments they may have missed, WJXT has posted the interviews on their website at www.News4Jax.com/money.

According to the July issue of SmartMoney magazine, credit union membership hit a record high 92 million last year. And while the popularity of credit unions is growing in North Florida, there are still a large number of people in Jacksonville who don’t know about the advantages of using a credit union over other financial institutions.

A recent news segment featured an interview with David Marovich, 121 Financial’s Business Account Officer. He detailed the benefits available to small businesses that signed on with 121 Financial that included better opportunities for obtaining business loans, fewer or maybe even no fees and interest on business checking. In this tough economic environment, it’s tragic that many businesses don’t even know they can have a business account at a credit union, which in some cases could mean the life or death of a company.

121 Financial started the news segments with WJXT in March and has found this approach to be a great outreach to the community that they didn’t have previously. A key to success in social marketing has been based on providing valuable information online to encourage interaction with customers and prospects. With the Channel 4 news segments, 121 Financial is accomplishing that same goal, except with a traditional medium – television.

Catch the next “4 Your Money” segment by tuning into WJXT’s The Morning Show” at approximately 8:20 every other Saturday. 

The photo shows the WJXT set with Davis Johnston, Senior Vice President of Operations for 121 Financial Credit Union, being greeted by The Morning Show host Jason Law.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Small Business Marketing News Update - Jacksonville Businesses Are Turning To More Aggressive Marketing Techniques Such As Door-To-Door Sales

During this lagging recession, companies are getting more desperate in their sales by hiring aggressive door-to-door salesmen.  This one seems to be taking advantage of the recent storms in North Florida to sell flood insurance.