The Future Isn’t Wearables, It’s Integrations

As 2016 came to a close, one tech trend was extremely clear: wearables aren’t catching on. In particular, smart watches are seeing a definite death-spiral. In October, Microsoft killed its Band, Motorola put a hold on any new 360 watches, Pebble got bought up by FitBit (but their watches are dead) and even Apple Watch is seeing unimpressive numbers (though they did see a boost in December, likely due to the hole in the market left by Pebble).

But then there’s Snap’s “Spectacles” – which saw a huge success at launch. So maybe wearables aren’t dead after all? Of course there’s always the chance they’ll die off just as quickly, now that all the early adopters have gotten theirs (or at least once they do get them – they’re sold out).

So then what’s the deal with wearables? Are they dead or not?
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10 Blogs for Small Business

10 Blogs Small Business Owners Should Follow in 2017 | NCR Silver

The other day Dave Johnson reached out to me via Twitter, asking if I had any blogs I recommend small businesses or marketers read. Of course I was happy to help with my recommendation – but I won’t share it here. You have to click through to go over to the NCR blog to find out yourself.

And while you’re there you can see nine other great blogs small businesses should be following in 2017.
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No, You Don't Need an App

Mobile Strategy: No, You Don’t Need an App

With the iPhone released nearly 10 years ago, mobile web and apps have been around for quite a while now. Still, the question continues to come up: Do I need an app?

The short answer? No.

The long answer? It depends on what you’re trying to do.

As mobile started to take off and the world was enamored with the new app economy, the immediate rush of thinking was to either build an app or miss out on mobile. The question most people didn’t ask was this: What will an app accomplish that my website won’t?
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Content Marketing Is Creating a Cesspool

Content Marketing Is Creating a Cesspool (Rant)

The Internet has already had its fair share of garbage. It’s been there since the it offered everyone the ability to publish their thoughts.

But seriously people, stop making it worse.

Yes, I’m talking to you, “content marketers.” I get it. You are trying to break through the noise of traditional advertising to pull people in (it’s why they also call it “inbound marketing”) but it’s starting to get way out of hand.
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Predict the Future

Pro Tip: Use Onsite Search Data to Predict the Future

Did you know you have the power to predict the future?

It’s true. You can … if you know where to look. You can even manipulate it.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. There’s a place in your analytics you can use to determine what is likely to happen next – and that’s in your on-site search data.

A lot of the focus on analytics looks at traffic trends and attribution analysis, but in my experience those are useful for showing you what has happened – not what will happen. Yes, you can use predictive analytics on top of your platform to get some better forecasts and predictions, but you also have a treasure trove of information that can give you amazing insight into shifting customer trends and interest already at your disposal.
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If You’re Not Unique Why Do You Exist?

Solving a customer problem is only part of what makes a product marketable. There’s another part of this – and that’s the question of if others already do this, why should people switch to you?

Let’s face it – there are a lot of products and services in the world, with many of them tackling the same problems. If you’re starting a new company or launching a new product, there is probably someone out there already doing the same thing. Their product might be somewhat different from you, but at its core it might be very similar. So why should people use your product?
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Kellogg's Advertising Pulled from Breitbart

Kellogg’s Advertising Pulled from Breitbart. Smart Move?

News just came out today that Kellogg’s Advertising firms are pulling all of its advertising from the site

The site has recently come under stronger fire from groups condemning it as sexist, racist and promoting hate-speech. A big push for this has been on social media, particularly on Twitter and Facebook.

The reasoning for Kellogg’s decision to pull their advertising is that Breitbart’s recent articles and rhetoric “aren’t aligned with our values as a company,”

(And for the record, I’m staying out of the debate about Breitbart’s content, I’m questioning the brand move from advertising and PR perspective)

But with a country as divided as it is right now, is this a smart move? After all, Donald Trump’s top aide and future White House Adviser, Steve Bannon, used to actually run the site.

Is this decision to pull their online advertising from it likely to get it caught into a new firestorm with people who are regular readers of the site, or Donald Trump supporters? Or do you think it was a decision mostly to just get out of the crosshairs of any kind of public backlash?

My last question – the one I’m really pondering, is this: If journalism (let’s just call Bretibart journalism, for the sake of this argument) is reliant on advertising to survive, and groups can rise up online against speech or reporting they don’t like, are we risking a censored journalistic environment?

As much as there are plenty of things out there that are reported on and opinions I don’t agree with, I fear that we risk setting a precedent where we stamp out speech we don’t like by threatening boycotts of the companies who are just trying to get in front of potential customer eyeballs.

So what do you think of Kellogg’s advertising pull from Breitbart? Leave your thoughts below.


Is It Ethical for Stores to Be Open on Thanksgiving?

When I was growing up it wasn’t even really a question: Should stores be open on Thanksgiving?

The very idea of being open on Thanksgiving was ridiculous – at least unless you were a store that people might rely on for the day. Say a gas station or a grocery store – and even those generally had very limited hours. But as Black Friday (and more recently Cyber Monday) have taken off, the competition has become more fierce and we see more stores open on Thanksgiving.

It’s become such a controversial issue that we now see lists online of stores that will be open or closed on Thanksgiving, and even calls for boycott against those that are open.

Even the other day, a colleague of mine posted an article about stores being open on Thanksgiving, and my knee-jerk reaction was “boo!” But then it got me thinking a bit more. Is it ethical for stores to be open on Thanksgiving? Even more so, is it potentially unethical to be closed?

Like anything in life, there is no easy answer, but there are a few things to think about as you consider the decision.
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Fender Guitar

Fender’s Struggle to Get Guitars Under the Tree (And How To Make Your Brand Relevant Again)

As Black Friday looms near and the holiday shopping season kicks off in earnest, it seems Fender Guitar may be struggling for a spot under the tree for a shiny new guitar. According to a recent article from The Salt Lake Tribune, Fender’s marketing is battling flat sales due to that old foe, competition for mind share.

While people have been saying the guitar is dead for quite a while now, Fender’s fight for relevancy in a modern world full XBoxes and iPhones, a crumbling infrastructure for the arts and music, and a general lack of use and excitement around the guitar in modern music is one that, in my opinion, can still be won. But it’s going to take a lot more work to get there than just standard marketing can do.

I’ve argued for a while now that in order to build a strong brand, you need to encourage behavioral change. Yes, it’s possible to ride along on the waves made by others and sell popular ancillary products, but when you’re in a position like Fender is, where frankly there’s nothing out there in the greater zeitgeist that’s increasing the demand for guitars, you’re fighting an uphill battle.

As I like to say: If you can’t get anyone to do it for you, you might as well do it yourself.

And that’s what Fender and other companies are going to have to realize. It’s part of my Inspire, Aspire, Perspire theory of marketing.

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Business Card

Never Underestimate the Importance of the Good Old Business Card

In our modern tech-driven world, the idea of a business card seems kind of … quaint.

After all, with LinkedIn and Facebook and Twitter and e-Mail and all the other ways we can easily get in touch with someone, or at least look them up, the idea of carrying around a piece of paper in your pocket to hand to someone seems almost counter-intuitive to technology.

It’s not the case though. In fact, I’d say that having a business card on hand now is just as important as it ever was.
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