From the New to the Now Economy

There are only two types of companies: the quick and the dead.

           -Michael Dell 

For more than 20 years, we have heard about the benefits, excitement, promise and impact of a digital revolution and a technologically-driven society. Concept albums by iconic rockers such as Radiohead (OK Computer), Rush (2112) and David Bowie (The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars) sung about the all-encompassing power of technology – for good and evil -- before the new economy was born. And, a half century ago, Rod Serling relayed ironic tech-based themes in his brilliant television series, THE TWILIGHT ZONE (e.g., Time Enough at Last, Third from the Sun, To Serve Man, and so many more spell-binding episodes).

          In the 1990s, Internet pioneers such as America Online, Amazon, Cisco Systems, Dell, eBay, E-Trade, Expedia, and Yahoo! dramatically changed how consumers and businesses bought products and services in a 24/7 global market space. A seismic shift in the new economy has taken shape over the past ten years led by the FAANGs -- Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Alphabet’s Google. These digital leaders focus on speed, service, selection, sociability and solutions.  

        What has been the result of this 5-S transformation? Welcome to the now economy! Just as a toddler cannot possibly wait for a chocolate chip cookie and absolutely, positively must have it right now -- today’s consumers are equally impatient and demand immediate satisfaction. Hence, the rise of Amazon Dash, Fresh, and Prime; Apple’s iTunes; Couchsurfing; TaskRabbit; ZipCar; and a multitude of other “I gotta have it now!” business models.

          Strategic differentiation combined with technology and consumers’ interest in choice has led to industry disruption. Marriott and Hilton have sure felt the effects of Air BnB in the lodging industry. Today, target marketing means segment-of-one personalization. Mass promotion has evolved into two-way dialogues with consumers and business users. Customer relationships lead to lifetime brand advocates. The new economy has morphed into the now economy!

           The now economy is service dominant. This includes business, consumer, professional, and government services. Knowledge workers and the creative class turbocharge this economic sector. In addition, digital services (the platform economy) and consumer-to-consumer services have surged in the past 5-10 years. Realize that a strong traditional backbone of manufacturing, agri-business, construction, and infrastructure is still a key economic priority in industrialized nations. And, let’s not forget the trade segment (retail and wholesale), as well as the burgeoning e-commerce marketspace and the rise of smart products (e.g., appliances, energy regulation, and the internet of things) – see Table 1 which summarizes the key components of the now economy.

Table 1.  Key Sectors of the Now Economy

Services

B2B, B2C and Professional Services

Knowledge Work and the Creative Class

Digital Services and the Platform Economy

Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C) Services/Sharing and Access Economy

Manufacturing +

Customized Manufacturing

High Technology

Emerging Technologies

Agribusiness, Construction, Mining

Trade

Retail, Wholesale

E-Commerce

Internet of Things (IoT)

            The 24/7 now economy is always-on and always open. Buyers will no longer accept shopping from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily and noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays.  Online shoppers will expect their orders to be delivered immediately, within the next two hours, or overnight (not in 5-10 business days). Bricks-and-clicks business models allow consumers to pick up their purchases at a neighborhood store. Sub-par customer service will not be tolerated. Buyers expect to be wowed with amazing experiences and will not settle for yesterday’s ordinary store visits. Table 2 summarizes what customers want in the now economy.

Table 2.  What Customers Want from the Now Economy

The 5 - S’s

Speed

Service

Selection

Sociability

Solutions

Customers Value

It now! – Immediacy and convenience

Superb service

Many options and quality products -- goods, services and ideas

Ongoing, long-term relationships with companies that truly value their business

Doing business with innovative, problem-solving companies that are perceived market leaders

Millennials Also Seek

Technology to manage and simplify daily activities – e.g., apps for immediate access

Interesting, enjoyable and memorable experiences

Product access and benefits -- not necessarily product ownership

Emotional connections with companies, brands and user groups via social media platforms as well as supporting organizational/ environmental causes that they are passionate about

Doing business anytime in any location via multiple channels

Consider this example of the now economy in action.

I recently dropped my dog off at a neighborhood pet spa for one-hour grooming services. I visit the Target Superstore down the street to grab a cup of dark roast in the mini Starbucks. The café is sparsely populated but employees (mostly millennials) drop by to consume premium coffee and pricy pastries. Occasional shoppers, largely female, young and old of all ethnicities, stop by to get their caffeine fixes, too. The fresh produce section in the grocery department is right across from me, part of the one-stop shopping experience. A hundred or so yards away is the embedded CVS Pharmacy -- once a formidable competitor and now a strategic partner. Paralleling the unstoppable movement towards online buying, I notice very few shoppers in this cavernous establishment. Is it any wonder that H.H. Gregg, Sears, Macy’s and dozens of other retail leaders have closed stores or went out of business? (The death of retail is a very real threat in the industry). I get a text message from the groomer – it’s time to pick up Maya.    

           The now economy is also about sharing and access. Users are bypassing traditional market structures and business channels to work directly with other consumers to solve individual problems – think about an Uber instead of a taxi. The redefinition of buyer behavior has spawned a vibrant consumer-to-consumer sector and impacts the future of work.

            While most of us would love to be like Tim Ferriss, rich and only work four hours a week, such incredible wealth is unlikely. In the now economy, many individuals are turning to multiple entrepreneurial ventures to pay the bills to survive or thrive. Just as struggling musicians work hard and hope for that big break, many millennials (and others) are juggling multiple gigs such as driving for Lyft, creating apps, writing blogs, posting YouTube videos and starting innovative businesses as they seek the “big deal” and navigate their individual path to success.  

Consider:

1.      What impact does the now economy have on your personal life?  

2.      What impact does the now economy have on your professional life?

3.      Is your company creating superior value in the now economy? If not, what strategic changes are called for?

4.      Identify 1-2 other companies that may ascend as a potential rival(s) to the FAANG giants.

Art Weinstein, Ph.D., is a Professor of Marketing in the Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship, Nova Southeastern University. He can be reached at art@nova.edu

Cross-Cultural Marketing: Race, Ethnicity, and Other Cultural Challenges

Successful cross-cultural marketing requires today’s organizations to be socially and culturally competent entities with vast understanding of people, language, ethnicity, race, and other demographic and sociocultural challenges characterizing institutions and society. Companies must seek to bridge the gaps between people and their race, culture, and other differences. This means hiring diverse value creators, valuing social justice and equality, and keeping the focus on creating and delivering superior value and satisfaction to all stakeholders regardless of human social and physical characteristics. Business is all about acquiring, growing, and retaining customers and catering to their differences as valuable segments with unique and diverse needs.  

Organizations should accept that all instances of communication and interaction with stakeholders represent and affect marketing as these serve to affect perception of customer value via Service, Quality, Image, and Price (Weinstein’s SQIP Diamond). As business organizations witness events like those in Charlottesville unfold, they must consider how America’s current ethnic and racial challenges affect marketing communications efforts and act in ways to become more ethically and socially responsible marketers helping to address society’s causes and problems. Racial and ethnic blunders in marketing communications are not new and have been influenced by the types of events characteristic of Charlottesville, as well as deeper historical and social-cultural prejudices we have been unable to overcome for centuries.

While much of the blunders involving high profile issues of race and ethnicity seem to occur with the type of marketing communication known as advertising, they are not limited to that element of the marketing communications mix. Here are some examples of marketing communications blunders involving race and ethnicity:

1.      In April 2002, Abercrombie & Fitch debuted a line of T-shirts using Asian caricatures portraying Asian American oppression from the past as forced and indentured laborers, mocked the Buddha, and depicting various stereotypes of Asians. As a result of public outrage, the company had to recall the series of T-shirts.

2.      In August 2012, two models for Abercrombie & Fitch in South Korea took photos of themselves posing with what is known as “Asian squinty eyes” to mock Asian physical appearance, and this almost drove the company out of the market.

3.      In August 2017, Google fired a software engineer, James Damore, after he wrote what is regarded as an “anti-diversity” memo [“Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber”] questioning Google’s diversity efforts, and in which, he argued that the comparatively lower percentage of women in technical positions was a result of biological differences instead of discrimination.

Long before Abercrombie & Fitch’s sociocultural-ethnic and racially insensitive marketing, many big brand companies experienced the negative consequences of not understanding how differences in culture, ethnicity, race language, and other factors affect marketing and reception to brands. Here are several examples:

1.      Pepsi’s 1960s “Come Alive! You’re in the Pepsi Generation” campaign which in the Chinese market translated to suggest that Pepsi brought customers ancestors back to life, something both offensive and impossible to Chinese customers.

2.      In the 1980s, when KFC debuted in China, the company’s popular slogan “finger-lickin’ good” was translated as “Eat your fingers off”.

3.      In 1992, Fiat, an Italian car manufacturer wanting to target modern independent working women in Spain designed a direct-mail marketing campaign for its Cinquecento hatchback by mailing out “love letters” on pink papers without indicating that it was a promotional creative advertisement. As a result, this led to panic among thousands of women with many refusing to leave their homes.

While we have made significant progress in some areas as far as race and ethnicity issues are concerned, there is still much to be done in terms of companies being more assertive and responsible players in addressing today’s social pains. Unfortunately, there are still companies that are feature racially insensitive marketing communications. For example, Colgate is still advertising and selling “Black People Toothpaste” (Hei Ren Yao Gao) in Asia, and we still see ethnic and racial undertones in movies and television advertisements.

Marketers must be knowledgeable and aware of issues of race, culture, and ethnicity in both past and present contexts and as a result, become more socially and culturally sensitive in their interactions with customers and other stakeholders. Cross-cultural marketing practices are important and companies and their leaders and managers need to invest in responsible and respectful marketing communications. Events such as Charlottesville can be used to educate employees on racial, ethnic, and cultural awareness as they act as value creators and providers for their companies. Moreover, companies expressing and showing solidarity on social justice and equality is a major reputation or image-building strategy that can lend support to such cause.

Image source: Melaniemilletics.com, 2017

Donovan A. McFarlane, M.I.B., Ed.D., D.B.A., is an Adjunct Professor of Marketing in the H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship, Nova Southeastern University. He can be reached at donovan@nova.edu

Country-of-Origin and its effects on International Marketing

Global marketing studies have proven time and time again that knowledge of where a product is made influences purchasing decisions. The attitudes and perceptions people have in their minds about a particular country are transferred to products and brands originating from that country. If you don’t believe me, think to yourself: would you rather buy electronics made in Japan or in China? According to research from Futurebrand, a brand’s home country ranks higher than traditional purchasing choice drivers like price, availability, and style (Roll, 2014). This bias is what marketing literature calls the country-of-origin-effect, and it is common in product categories such as automotive, electronics, fashion, beer, and certain food products (Keegan 2016).

The country-of-origin effect presents both challenges and opportunities for global marketers. Marketers need to carefully study the markets where they do business and decide where and if they want to prominently associate their brands and products with their home countries through integrated marketing communications strategies.  On the one hand, positive country associations can generate interest, acceptance, preference, and brand equity; facilitate foreign market entrance; and allow marketers to capitalize by charging premium prices. Germany is a case in point. This country has long been associated with innovative engineering and performance. Luxury car brands like BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz have used these associations to their advantage, developing an image of prestige and quality. These brands make sure that customers around the world know their cars are made in Germany. Country of origin can reduce perceived risks by acting as a guarantee of quality (Adina, Gabriela, & Roxana-Denisa, 2014).

On the other hand, negative country associations can be detrimental to a brand. These perceptions can negatively affect demand and make market entrance difficult. Animosity towards the country of origin can lead to product avoidance and sometimes even hatred (Adina et. al, 2014). Negative feelings and associations can come from a history of questionable product quality or nationalistic sentiments. For example, in March 2017, political disputes between China and South Korea over missile defense produced a spur of violence and restrictions for South Korean brands (Doland, 2017). In a video that went viral on Chinese social media, a man smashed an LG washing machine and a TV set with a sledgehammer in front of a banner that read: “We would rather damage these than sell them.” Coincidentally, Chinese authorities also banned imports of South Korean beauty products citing issues of quality and closed dozes of stores owned by a South Korean supermarket chain citing safety code issues (Doland, 2017).

            Country associations are fluid and can change overtime. There are strategies that both countries and marketers can implement to overcome country-of-origin challenges. Countries can build the nation’s brand by emphasizing and diversifying their sources of competitive advantage, being conscious of foreign policy’s impact on popular global brands, publically recognizing their best brands, and improving health and safety regulations as well as intellectual property rights (Roll, 2014). In turn, marketers can focus on making branding and innovation the center or corporate strategy. Brands must pay attention to the smallest details, ensuring that the customer experience is outstanding and well differentiated. Ensuring a positive response to the brand can minimize the country of origin effects.  

What are some of your personal bias for or against products or brands from certain countries? What has a larger influence on your purchasing decisions, where the product is made or where the brand is from?

Sources:

Adina, C., Gabriela, C., & Roxana-Denisa, S. (2014). Country-of-origin effect on perceived brand

positioning. Procedia Economics and Finance, 23(2015), 422-427. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212567115003834

Doland, A. (2017, March 17). China Is Lashing Out at South Korean Brands; Here’s What Marketers Should Know. AdvertisingAge. Retrieved from http://adage.com/article/cmo-strategy/china-lashing-south-korean-brands/308309/

Keegan, W.J. & Green, M.C. (2017). Chapter 10: Brand and product decisions in global marketing. In Global Marketing (9th Ed., section 10.4). Retrieved from

https://etext.pearson.com/#/book/5MFEDOLN4UQ?deeplink=true&platforms_id=xl&id=afa61c765255d6d20213af6ba83fd9d4b7dc22612&referrer=nav&bookId=5MFEDOLN4UQ

Roll, M. (March 2014). How nations and brands overcome country of origin challenges. Retrieved

from http://martinroll.com/resources/articles/marketing/how-nations-and-brands-overcome-country-of-origin-challenges/

Ivy Velasquez is an MBA Marketing student at the Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship, Nova Southeastern University. She can be reached at iv98@mynsu.nova.edu

International Business Students Looking to Study Abroad?

Studying abroad is probably one of the most rewarding experiences a college student can take advantage of. You get to see the world, explore, and learn new cultures. Not to mention how AMAZING it looks on your resume. Employers and grad schools really appreciate that experience when they are recruiting for new employees and students. Especially if you are looking to get into global marketing post graduation, you are an extreme asset because you have that experience and knowledge from another country where you may one day choose to do business.

            Over the last few years, Canada has been climbing to the top of the list of destinations where foreign students are looking to advance their education. Many people are looking at Canada because of their immigration policies. Unlike the US and Britain, they offer a post-graduation work permit of up to three years for eligible candidates.  

            New data states that Canada has moved into the top 5 of international study destinations. Typically the US and Britain are the top choices; however, Canada moved into second place last year as a top choice for prospective African MBA students. They also have been creeping up in popularity with students from Central and South Asia, and surprisingly, is a preferred location for students coming from the Middle East and the US as well! It is said that a lot of these changes could be due to the US and Britain’s anti-immigrant policies and the post-graduate restrictions given to foreign students.

            The amazing thing about Canada is that it has also been deemed a safe and secure location for those incoming students. Having been given the option to receive a three year work permit allows enough time for students to apply for permanent residency in Canada. At the University of Victoria’s Gustavson School of Business, two-thirds of the MBA international student population participates in a three-week orientation that allows them to learn about the Canadian culture. Though Canadian schools are looking to capitalize off of the new foreign student interest, they are still encouraged to attend MBA fairs worldwide. The University of Toronto’s School of Management had a 35%increase in African applicants, and they do intend to send recruiters to Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa in the fall.

Image: Canadian Bureau of International Education (2017)

References

Benefits to Studying Abroad | Study Abroad Guide. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.internationalstudent.com/study-abroad/guide/ten-benefits-to-studying-abroad/

International business students flocking to Canada - The Globe and Mail. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/careers/business-education/canada-an-increasingly-desired-destination-for-international-business-students/article35255564/

Almetia Whitaker is an MBA student in the Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship, Nova Southeastern University. She can be reached at awhitaker@mynsu.nova.edu

Design Thinking in Global Business

Innovation drives the global business out of stagnation and into continual success in each area of its global strategy.  There is no guarantee on your success, but there are methods to ensure you are on the right track to achieving a specific level of success that outweighs the risk associated with you strategy.

Every part of your global success strategy has to be design oriented.  This means that each goal is a part of a fundamental design process that is applied to your strategy and the innovation that drives it.  It will also give you the fluidity to redesign with ease and timeliness.  This is because design thinking is a repeatable problem-solving protocol that can be applied and proven in each step of your global strategy process.

Design thinking is founded on four elements:

1.      Define the problem

2.      Create consideration options

3.      Refine directions and repeat 1-3 if necessary

4.      Pick the winner and execute

Four of the most common problems when taking a company global are:

1.      Currency fluctuations

2.      Bureaucracy

3.      Innovation

4.      Value Creation

You can create a success path that can be proven and applied for each of your goals, which will give you a better success rate with each of the most common global strategy problems, as well as, any mix of them.

You have to define the right problem to solve.  This means making a list of problems and then defining the real problems.  This will allow you to choose problems that have real meaning and provide a real solution channel.  You have to create numerous solutions, then choose the best one.  You have to create the environment for your solution to be grown and tested, to give you what you want.  If you have a solution that yields a significant probability of giving you the expected results that you want, then implement it.

Image source: Contentplus.paceco.com, 2017

Sources

Fast Company. (2006). Design Thinking… What is That? Retrieved on Jun 04, 2017, from

https://www.fastcompany.com/919258/design-thinking-what

Naiman, L. (2016). Design Thinking as a Strategy for Innovation. Creativity at Work. Retrieved on Jun 05, 2017, from http://www.creativityatwork.com/design-thinking-strategy-for-innovation/    

Jabari M. Daniel-Cox is an MBA student in the Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship, Nova Southeastern University, and can be reached at jdanielcox@live.com

Marketing: The Twitter Effect of a President!

Long before President Trump ran for office he had a profound effect on the national media through his use of Twitter and social media. He is the first President to speak his mind freely in such a public forum. This has created a new force for the world in regard to Social Media Marketing. His words, rants, or opinions can be seen at any time and by anyone with an Internet connection. Many people even follow his streams directly, getting instant updates of these opinions and thoughts. Is this the wave of the future, will more presidents, leaders, and dictators take to social media marketing platforms to promote their beliefs as a strategy? It makes sense to a degree since President Trump currently has 28M followers on Twitter. That is a lot of marketing power! He currently ranks #42 in the Twitter stratosphere of popularity. Interestingly enough, Ex-President Barrack Obama is #3 with 87M behind only Katy Perry 97M, and Justin Bieber 93M (Twittercounter.com). With a few swipes of his thumbs President Trump is able to reach an audience that is larger than the highest rated television show typically drawing 12-15M viewers. His tweets have been correlated to a drop in the S&P 500 healthcare index by .54% causing losses for large pharmaceutical manufacturers. After a tweet about Lockheed Martin’s cost overruns, the company’s stock dropped 2.1%.

Without any controls, the President can type anything at any time. Currently there are no controls on what he is saying or doing in Social Media. Along with the tweets about healthcare he has verbally attacked individuals who oppose him, along with news media and companies.

There is seemingly no limit to what the President might say through social media at this point. Ultimately we are yet to see a major effect from any of these social media postings, but as long as the President has a following he will have a platform to market his opinions openly. If this begins to have a tangible influence on people, companies, and politics, the world will begin to change through Social Media marketing more than it ever has or ever was possible. Many companies turn to Social Media to spread its word, so it only makes sense that any individual with enough followers could have enough influence to create change or wreak havoc!

Image sources: Twitter.com

John Weissgerber is an MBA student in the Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship, Nova Southeastern University, where he majors in International Business. He can be reached at jw1922@nova.edu

5 Steps to Better Email Marketing

Google the exact phrase “email is dead” and over 180,000 results are returned. Long has been the debate over email’s pulse - or lack thereof. The truth is email is alive and well and while it has gone through growing pains, the health of this communication channel should not shy you away from developing a sound email marketing strategy. This post will give you 5 steps to building a better email marketing strategy. 
Step 1: It begins at the source
An email marketing program is meant to work in conjunction with all your other communication channels. Start by identifying and documenting all possible lead sources. Some examples of lead sources include your website, the physical store location, social media and paid digital advertising. Once you understand where your leads are coming from, you will be able to control how you collect and communicate with your leads. 
Be nice.
For each lead source, ensure there is a straightforward way a person can request to join your mailing list. Your lead form should collect only the most essential data fields (i.e. name and email address). Depending on the source, set expectations by briefly stating the type of content and frequency subscribers should expect. Use a “Thank You” confirmation message after each form completion. You can also encourage your new contact to add your sender email address to their contacts list to ensure your emails are not be marked as spam. Finally, reassure your audience that their contact information is safe and will not be sold or shared with third-parties.
Focus on quality. Not quantity.
One of the keys to a successful email marketing plan is managing your list of contacts carefully. The sooner you realize you are not going to capture every single contact’s attention, the faster you can focus on creating eye-catching content that will captivate your target audience for each source. When gathering leads, be careful when offering incentives for email sign-ups. Although this can increase your list, you may be capturing leads who will not convert to loyal customers. Offer incentives strategically and sparingly.
Step 2: Invest in the right tools
As a business, if you are communicating with your prospects via email, you must abide to all terms found in the CAN-SPAM Act. The good news is that when you use paid email marketing software, you can easily comply with rules and avoid being blocked by your email service provider. Two common email marketing services are Constant Contact and MailChimp. There are pros and cons to each service and both of them offer email templates, list segmentation, and image editing software, key features to creating branded, engaging, and personalized emails.
Step 3: Develop a communication plan
In this step, you must decide on the 3 Ws: what, when, and who.
What
This refers to both design and content of each of your communications. Email marketing software will allow you to select a pre-built template of upload your own. Regardless of your method, consider these design guidelines:
• Your Call to Action should be visible within 300px from the top of your email
• Use eye-catching images but avoid image-heavy emails
• Opt for responsive design, whenever possible
• Use web-safe fonts only
Decide and write down your general topics. For example, you can use a welcome email, an eNewsletter, highlight a product/service or sales promotions.
When
Once you have your topics outlined, determine the frequency of your emails. In most email marketing software, you can also assign nurture plans to specific lists. You can view general trends by industry for best day of the week and time of day where average opens are the highest. This can be a great starting guideline but feel free to adjust to your specific audience. Whatever the case, be consistent.
Who
Email software will allow you to segment lists so you can assign your leads to specific categories. For example, you can segment by source (website, social media, physical store), specific demographics, or any many other indicators. Note that you will have to collect this type of information on your lead form.
Putting it all together.
Once you have your 3 Ws, put it all together in a simple spreadsheet.

You can also take advantage of calendar features offered by many email marketing software clients.
Step 4: Know your metrics
Once your plan is in place, it is time to assign some KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). These are ways of assessing your efforts. Your email software will provide many performance metrics. Pay attention to the metrics such as click-through rate and unsubscribes. Look for patterns after a particular email topic.
Google Analytics also allows you to generate customer URLs to include additional campaign parameters tying in email campaigns to other paid or organic methods. This will help you see the full impact of your email campaign in conjunction with other efforts.
Step 5: Optimize and repeat
This plan is meant to help you build your strategy. Throughout each step, you may need to make adjustments to fit your resources, market, and/or individual results. Analyze what does and does not work and adjust your plan accordingly.

Image Source: RDM-Rio Digital Marketing, 2017.
(http://riodigitalmarketing.com/paid-search-and-email-marketing/)

Marcia Perez-Del Valle
Marcia is a digital media specialist with 5+ years of marketing experience in the areas of social media marketing, email marketing, website content management, and analytics. She obtained her B.A. in Communication from Nova Southeastern University and is currently pursuing her M.B.A. in marketing. She holds a web design certification and is Google Tag Manager certified. She can be reached at marcgarc@nova.edu

Five Fun Ways to Boost Social Media Engagement

It would be extremely hard these days to find a company that is not using some form of social media for their business. Well-known platforms like Twitter and Facebook are utilized by big corporations and small business as a way for them to promote themselves. However, just because your business is “on” these platforms, doesn’t mean that you are using them to their full potential.

The key to using social media properly is engagement. If your business is not using its social media profiles to engage with your consumers, then you are really just wasting your time. Engagement allows customers to feel personally connected to your business and builds brand loyalty. Being flat when it comes to social media engagement can truly make or break your business. Here are five ways to boost social media engagement:

1. Talk to your customers, not at them

It is easy to create a post on Facebook. The real talent is turning that post into a conversation. When people post comments on your social media, respond quickly. Give your customers the chance to actually talk to you. Allow your customers to feel like they are talking to a human being, not an automated reply system. You can post all the content you want or send it to them, but if they don’t feel as if they are a valuable part of the conversation, it is pointless.

2. Allow the customer to do the talking:

Sometimes, the best marketing comes the customers themselves. It is perfectly fine to allow people to promote your business. Allow people to share their experience with your business. Whenever you receive a great customer review or testimonial, showcase it or share it to your page or profile. Consumers are more willing to take the word of another people over yours. Welcome the opportunity for customers to comment and share their experience.

3. Host Q &A Sessions:

Giving customers a direct line of communication by hosting a Q&A session is a great way to boost engagement. A great suggestion is to let someone who is higher up in the company answer the questions directly from the customer. Host your sessions on Facebook or Twitter, since those are more than likely your most used platforms. These sessions can be between 30 minutes to 1 hour long. Just be sure to let the customers guide the conversation but not to the point that they are trolling you.

4. Contests

Who doesn’t love winning free stuff? Contests are great ways to boost social media engagement. Contests with great prizes encourage people to participate. Creating a contest that is related to your brand will boost engagement with those who are already followers and can help you increase the number of subscribers by requiring those that don’t follow or like your page yet to do so in order to win.

5. Show your Personality

Not every post has to be about your business. Show that your company has personality. Post a funny picture or video of your employees at work. It’s okay to be lighthearted sometimes. Have fun on social media. Customers will love that you are willing to laugh and that will help them to build a connection to your brand. Just be careful with the content. Make sure that it is appropriate for your audience.

Brittani McCray-Fleureme is an MBA student in the Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship at Nova Southeastern University. She can be reached at bm1218@nova.edu

The Rise of Creativity

Pin it! Snap it! Like it!

It seems that engagement is of high relevance in businesses nowadays, thanks to social media outlets such as Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram. Due to the tremendous growth of e-commerce within the past ten years, businesses have invested more dollars in enhancing their brand’s image to tap into the mindsets of X and Y generations with the assistance of creativity.

First, brands must strategically plot the best approach in developing universal communications and summarize what they stand for (Chow & Baack, 2016.) By providing an accurate image, brands portray the solitary nature of the organization and what they sell. Each social media outlet reaches consumers in alternative ways, so it is imperative for brands to select the method to voice their message and build valued relationships. Snapchat, for example, would be an excellent medium for B2C markets since it is used to share exclusive moments of the present within a matter of ten seconds. From a consumer’s perspective, it is valuable to receive the privilege of visualizing what a company does and how it creates value through Snapchat. It also enhances psychological reinforcement, provides a service, and plays with their purchasing power.

Tumblr, on the other hand, serves as a blog where users can post images, intuitive quotes, short narratives, and videos. Account holders range from mid-teens to mid- twenties which gains branding expansion with the youth who is a primary target market for brand longevity (Gahran, 2012.) Unlike Facebook, Tumblr accounts are visible to the public whether they have an account or not. It is imperative for businesses to use generic hashtags and continuous daily postings of content portraying the business to gain awareness. Overall, organizations must create interactivity, delivery, and shape consumer experiences to heighten creative profit growth.

References

Chow, K. E., & Baack, D. E. (2016).  Integrated advertising, promotion, and marketing communications (7th Ed.). New York, NY:  Prentice Hall.

Gahran, A. (2012). A quick guide to using Tumblr for business. Retrieved February 07, 2016, from http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/224084

Alysse Llerena is an M.B.A. student in the Huizenga College of Business studying the innovative strategies of Marketing. For inquiries, you may contact her at al1596@nova.edu

Thought Leadership Wins Social Media Votes in B2B

Did you ever wonder what builds social media audiences in B2B circles?

An empirical study of 171 leading influencers by Dr. John Gironda and yours truly found that thought leadership out ranks helpful advice, engagement, entertainment, inspiration, empathy and content credibility.

So what is thought leadership and what does it mean for marketing and sales representatives?

Aspiring thought leaders must champion groundbreaking ideas that provoke new mindsets around a different way of doing business. Think Steve Jobs and the way he fomented change. But for you to gain credibility for your forward thinking insights, the research suggests you must first earn your stripes with trails of content perceived as timely, relevant and useful (i.e., instructional tips that help buyers with their operational challenges).

This is where a lot of sales and marketing personnel bail out. After all, who has the time to brainstorm fresh perspectives and helpful tips?

But imagine the trust built if buyers see you generously sharing your digital content (e.g., blog posts, videos, live broadcasts, white papers, etc.). Your empathy speaks volumes. And don’t underestimate the confidence built as each shared piece sheds more light on your expertise and relevance to your prospective buyer.

On the thought side of thought leadership, buyers need original ideas or unique perspectives before they consider you a trusted authority. High on their list is your market foresight. How can you help them navigate through turbulent times or uncertain futures? In the social media world, this is often done by consultants who regularly forewarn their customers of risky technologies.

The combination of forward looking insights and operational helpfulness then sets the stage for showcasing your expertise. Without this, your claims for cutting-edge ideas cannot be validated. So start with instructional tips to show what you know. Periodically lay out some predictions for what is coming down the pike, and then provoke a new mindset that signals to your buyers that you are worthy of their selective attention and patronage.

On the leadership side of thought leadership, marketers with the most social clout are often known for their inspiration appeal. You have to be able to drive conversations that literally spark a movement. One way to do this is to edu-tain them. Our research showed no direct influence between entertainment and social influence. But it did show an indirect influence through inspirational motivation. The suggestion here is to dress up your content with humor and visual storytelling as a way to inspire your audience.

Why is this important? Imagine a buyer in total control of the sales process (i.e. inbound marketing). Most of the buyer journey is done digitally, and 60% of the cycle is complete before they contact sales. With over 850 million websites equipped for blogging, everyone wants the buyer’s attention. So who do they follow? Their go-to advisors are opinion leaders that could help in innovative brainstorming. This sounds more like helping than selling.

So what do you think falls next on the list of ways to build social influence?

James Barry, D.B.A., is an Associate Professor of Marketing in the H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship. Dr. Barry develops, teaches and consults on a variety of social media marketing subjects. He can be reached at jmbarry@nova.edu

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