Pinterest and Online Tourism – an untapped market?

This could be big, people.

I am by no means a Pinterest expert but oh boy, is it addictive! How cool is it that I can snoop other people’s bookmarked link/image collections online? SUPER COOL. My personal opinion is that Pinterest primarily appeals to females right now because of our love of scrapbooking and collecting pretty things.

Pinterest tourism social media

But you know who could seriously take advantage of this? TOURISM WEBSITES. Tourism is an industry that thrives on people’s ideals, photography and consumer generated content. And what is a better site that brings these elements together than Pinterest?!

Tourism Pinterest Why Travel Social Media

Let’s analyze it from the prospective traveller’s perspective for a moment — when you need travel advice, what online sources do people usually turn to? Blogs, Twitter personalities, or mass travel advice sites (see my blogroll) – all of which require a lot of sifting through text. And if you just want some pictures, it’s flickr or Google images, right? The tourism industry does a dismal job of using photography to its fullest on the internet, but I think this could change if tourism campaign managers figure out Pinterest and pounce. Something I haven’t found (correct me if I am wrong) are contests for the best Pin board on a certain country. That’s a quick and easy contest for companies like  Incredible India, Tourism Vancouver, Flight Centre or Westjet to do.

Pinterest

What are your thoughts on Pinterest? What industries would it be most suited to?

Curiously yours!

Shiv 🙂

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Paris for Students – Best places to people watch

One of my favourite things to do in any city is people watch. I don’t find many places to do this peacefully in Vancouver – usually I’m getting the death stare from the waitresses for sitting for hours with a coffee, or it’s too cold and wet to sit on the grass and watch people jog by with their dogs.

But Paris is the perfect city for sitting and watching people! It’s not only acceptable, but it’s a part of parisien culture: just sit, relax and watch the world. You will have the best time, if you let yourself. Oh, but a little warning – don’t gawk at the gorgeous people and outfits walking by, and at least wipe the drool from your mouth once in a while. Parisiens are hot. You have been warned.

I had a couple of favourite haunts in Paris that were great for people watching. Maybe you like them too 🙂 So, in no particular order…

**Warning: Almost all of them involve food because food always makes the experience better – no exceptions.

Buy some wine, cheese, a baguette and grapes to have a picnic on the grassy part below the Sacre CoeurYou will be looking at the best view of Paris.

paris views people watch students

The view from the Sacre Coeur. Sometimes, you'll be serenaded by French artists here too!

Bring blankets and a couple beers to enjoy on the lawns of the Champs de Mars, near the Eiffel TowerWatch the hordes of tourists go buy and watch the lights of the beautiful metal symbol of Paris 🙂

paris for students champs de mars

The grassy parts you're allowed to sit on...and stare at the glorious metal tower 🙂

Sit on the sloped cement area near the Museum of Modern Art, Centre Georges PompidouYou’re in the heart of Chatelet Les Halles (my favourite area of Paris, great for shopping and loitering around pop art stores). And you can watch the people walk around the crazy museum tubes.

centre georges pompidou people watching paris

Join the pigeons. They know what's up.

Drink a coffee or a glass of wine in any cafe on the street. Is there any way to do soak in the culture than a good book, a glass of something delicious,  fresh air, a good street view and your own thoughts? No. There isn’t.

paris street cafe people watching

Aren't you jealous? Yeah, me too.

So to get you even more immersed in the street life of Paris…Here is an introduction to what you will hear on the streets! Enjoy!

Happy creeping,

Shiv 🙂

Proximity marketing, are you really an upcoming trend?

Mobile-phone-advertising

I first heard that ‘proximity marketing is the future’ about a year back in my Consumer Behaviour class. From what I understood at that time, an example of proximity marketing would be a coupon in the form of a text or message sent directly to your cell phone/smartphone when you pass by a certain store. And my first thought was, “Wow, that would be so effective!” But my second thought was, “That is so invasive! Who would want pop-up ads on their phone?!”

And after doing a bit of research, I have come to find out that we have basically hit that point…sort of. There are two kinds of proximity marketing: mobile push marketing and mobile pull marketing.

We all are subscribers of the mobile pull marketing strategy already. How many times have you Googled something while on your phone? Or voluntarily ‘Checked in’ to a restaurant, and broadcast it on Facebook? Every time someone interacts with advertisements on their mobile device, that’s proximity marketing.

The example I brought up of a pop-up ad texted to your phone is an example of a mobile push marketing scheme, and it’s not too common in Canada right now. But after further research, I saw that’s not as invasive as a pop-up because consumers can ‘opt-in’ for these ads by simply enabling Bluetooth on their mobile devices. An ad pops up when you’re in a convenience store asking, “Would you like to receive a promotion from Coca Cola?” for example and gives consumers the choice to partake in the promotion or not. I can see how that would work. According to a lot of press releases in 2011, Red Bull rolled out Canada’ biggest proximity marketing campaign in convenience stores across the Country.

The links I’ve listed below and the press releases I’ve read all insist that proximity marketing is an upcoming trend in 2012, and was also an upcoming trend in 2011. But what I’m wondering is, why haven’t I seen its progression yet? We’re 1/6 of the way through 2012 already, and I have yet to see anything but hype about proximity marketing. Sure, Red Bull and Coca Cola started proximity marketing campaigns in 2011, but I haven’t been able to find anything about their progress since.

So here’s my question: Is proximity marketing a trend, or a dud?

My sources of inspiration

http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/database-crm/8924.html

http://www.retailcustomerexperience.com/article/178830/8-reasons-why-proximity-marketing-will-matter-for-retailers-in-2011

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/222531

 

An amazing example of viral marketing: The Dark Knight

List of accolades received by The Dark Knight

Glorious.

Edgy, attention grabbing and relatively low-cost: these are some of the words to describe the e-marketing campaign that is hailed as one of the best of all time, the launch of the movie The Dark Knight.

Instead of recounting the exact details of the marketing campaign (as they are pretty extensive), I’m going to give a quick overview of the highlights and then jump into my personal insight on the campaign. But in case you want more information, be sure to check out the links below 🙂

Summary of the campaign:

According to Wiki, there were two main publicity stunts that the campaign centred on, one of which was the ‘I BELIEVE IN HARVEY DENT’ political campaign. The marketing team created the website ibelieveinharveydent.com featuring a big picture of Harvey Dent. It was a realistic political campaign that allowed people to listen to the fictitious politician’s promises to give Gotham City back to the people, and eventually vote for him. The website also encouraged people to send in comments and visit the campaign bus, or ‘Dentmobiles,’ and rewarded the loyal fans with free swag like stickers and t-shirts.

The parallel viral marketing campaign that incited an intense following was the website and pranks organized by the movie’s villain, the Joker. This campaign very literally made me squeal just by researching it online. It’s so breathtakingly exciting! The marketing team headed the Joker’s campaign by firstly creating a mock website: http://www.ibelieveinharveydenttoo.com, and a space to submit emails. Every time an e-mail was submitted, a pixel of the big Harvey Dent picture on the website would fall off to reveal the Joker’s face, and the words Ha ha ha. The silliness continued with the e-mail circulation of Gotham City Times and the Joker’s version, the Ha Ha Times. After thoroughly amusing fans and introducing them to the complex world of Gotham City, they got fans hooked into the movie by recruiting them for the Joker’s army. Fans across America were instructed go to a certain local bakery or bowling alley and pick up a cake or a bowling ball with a cell phone, charger, and a message inside. The phone would play a message from the Joker, instructing them to hang tight and wait for him to contact them for their next mission.

There are so many things RIGHT about this campaign! I don’t even know where  to start, so let’s just dive into what I think are the primary success factors of this campaign.

One of the hardest things for an e-marketer to accomplish is the switch over from online activity to activity in the real world, but The Dark Knight campaign was able to do this on a massive scale. After getting people completely addicted to their websites by having them either watch the progress of Harvey Dent’s campaign or the Joker’s antics, the marketing team called the consumers to action by promising them free things as a reward for their loyalty. After winning the fans’ love, they pretty much guaranteed their seats in movie theatres.

In addition, people simply love to be tricked. People love a good, cheeky rebellion and the Joker’s widescale pranks appealed to this part of the human psyche. Nothing is more hypnotizing than watching someone do what we would never dare, so it’s no wonder people were glued to the Joker’s website,waiting for his next big stunt. Moreover, the campaign was successful at promoting the movie through all the free publicity from every person who got free stuff from the campaign, took off a pixel from the face of Harvey Dent, picked up a cake or were constantly refreshing the Joker’s page for the discovery of new clues. Fans couldn’t stop themselves from sharing the news with their friends on Facebook, Twitter and blogs. Popularizing the simple phrases of the movie before it even comes out was effective in making people find out what is behind the phrase by going to see the movie.

But let’s delve even deeper into this campaign. Creating realistic aspects of the pseudo-real world of Gotham City taps into that thing the Matrix and Harry Potter did for the world: Makes people question reality and seek signs that prove the reality of the world. This is where I’m sure psychology majors would have a leg up on me here, but I think the campaign succeeded at crafting a very real fictional world that people would hope is real. There are a lot of people in the world who do not, or do not want to accept that reality is exactly what we see in our everyday life. As such, the possibility of another realistic world that lives and breathes in secret is something that captivates the imagination of many individuals of all ages, and would drive people to follow a campaign like this with borderline obsession.

And finally, what I loved most about this campaign is the fact that it went beyond the  goal of generating buzz about the movie, but sought to create product ambassadors – people who are absolutely dedicated to the movie, endorse it for free amongst their friends and give it lots of their money happily. Apple is the only other company I can think of off the top of my head that created such a dedicated cult following that if they were to stop all marketing efforts tomorrow, their fans would carry it on for them quite happily. The Dark Knight campaign made the phrase ‘Why so serious?’ the coolest catchphrase of 2008, the Joker the choice Halloween costume, and the repopularized of the Batman brand.

My informative sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dark_Knight_%28film%29#Marketing

http://www.firstshowing.net/2007/the-dark-knights-viral-marketing-gets-very-real-cakes-cell-phones-and-all/

http://www.filmschoolrejects.com/news/marketing-the-dark-knight-a-viral-revolution.php

Marketingly yours,

Shiv 🙂

The saturated market of e-marketing – is there any hope?

The webscape of e-marketing is really just one, big competitive market when you look at it, isn’t it? If we look at the structural characteristics of a perfectly competitive market, we have this checklist:

  • Infinite buyers and sellers: Yep. There is basically no limit to the number of e-marketing experts and people seeking their services.
  • Zero entry and exit barrier: Nothing really stops people from starting or stopping an online marketing business.
  • Perfect information – It’s a lot of fun to google a question and see how many people have asked it before you. Chances are, someone has already asked it.
  • Zero transaction costs – People can get e-marketing services and tools for free.
  • Profit maximization – All websites aim to get the most views for the lowest cost, yes.
  • Homogeneous products – Most e-marketers promise the same things: more website traffic in order to generate more leads.

So how the hell can money be made in this perfectly competitive market?

After Googling the answer to this question and scouring several articles on the saturation of internet marketing (see the end of this article for the sources), I spotted a couple of key insights and would like to add my own.

Firstly, we haven’t reached market saturation yet. One reason is because the internet, and by association this industry, are still relatively new so there is plenty of room for expansion. Moreover, market saturation is a relative term – how do you define saturation? Is it the 100th online gaming site, or the millionth? We’ll always be more saturated than yesterday, but if you compare the number of internet sites tomorrow and today, the market isn’t saturated yet.

And to build on that, another good question to ask is, will we ever reach saturation? More niche markets, the internet, consumers and the world are always constantly changing, developing, being invented and growing. Reaching a saturation point implies that things are in stasis, but the reality is that everything is constantly evolving. If you think about it this way, saturation is impossible.

And finally, the hardest working get the best rewards. In Economics, we see this principle being fulfilled every time the more efficient firm beats out the less efficient firm and makes more money. And today, we see this in e-marketing too: there is no shortage of SEO experts, Facebook pages, Tweeters, and e-marketing gurus out there. With that in mind, it seems hopeless to even try to try and become just another one floating around the internet.

But the fact of the matter is that the harder you work at improving the search engine optimization, tweaking your content to suit your target market and optimizing your resources, the better the results of the e-marketing campaign. Lazy guys never finish first – it’s always the hardworking individuals that become successful, and good e-marketers are constantly learning, adapting and changing their methods to accommodate the ever changing landscape of internet users.

My inspiration for this blog post can be found right here:

http://thekeywordacademy.com/is-internet-marketing-overly-saturated

http://www.yenommarketinginc.com/internet-marketing-saturated-niche.html

http://steven-dean.com/saturation/

Have a great day!

Shiv 🙂

Facebook pages are not worthless for small businesses!

A lot of businesses have a difficult time getting people to ‘Like’ the business on Facebook. I have a theory that this is partially because smaller businesses don’t know how to mine the full potential of Facebook pages because they aren’t very familiar with them (yet). As a result, I come across a lot of small businesses‘ Facebook pages do not offer more than a brief description of the business and some photos on the Facebook page.

Come on!

The Facebook page should be used to ask questions, post giveaways, promotions and other things that are interesting and inspirational like simple quotes, photos and websites. Having interesting content on the Facebook page gives people a reason to ‘Like’ the page, and as long as the content is consistent and good quality, they don’t have a reason to ‘Unlike’ the page. The most successful Facebook pages I have seen and follow are the ones that post maybe once a day, don’t always come up in my feed, and have contests that reward people.

An example of a popular small business’ Facebook page would be my favourite radio station in Vancouver – 100.5 The Peak. In case you’re interested in checking out their Facebook page, here it is: https://www.facebook.com/thepeak

Let’s do a mini case study on The Peak’s Facebook page and find out what their success factors are, shall we? Here we go!

3 things that small businesses can apply to their Facebook pages

1. They post regularly. The Peak’s page is not something people ‘Like’ on a whim and then forget about it – they come up in my newsfeed maybe once a day, so it’s not annoying but it does keep them floating around my mind.

2. They don’t just talk about themselves. The Peak posts links to funny pictures they come across on the Internet, links to recent interviews, cool things to do in Vancouver, etc. Having them on my newsfeed is not too different from having one of my musically obsessed friends, and their content is consistently funny and/or informative.

3. They interact with people online. A Facebook page isn’t a one-way conversation! I really appreciate when they post general questions and get their fans to respond, but they also answer questions that fans post on their wall! For some reason, there are a lot of businesses on both Twitter and Facebook that throw that rule of common courtesy, answer the questions people ask you, out the proverbial window. If a business is too busy to respond to every question, that is a different matter. But small businesses need to stay on top of the online interactions coming their way.

So what are the benefits of having a Facebook page, anyway?

Well, according to this article (http://www.fastcompany.com/1816982/dear-local-businesses-your-facebook-page-is-absolutely-worthless) they are only good for a place for customers to locate you, and post questions and complaints for you to address. I understand the point of view that the objective of Facebook pages is to generate talk about your business, rather than broadcast what you think of your business. But I think one of the biggest benefits of having a Facebook page is to have your business floating around people’s minds. When I think of local Vancouver radio stations, my first thought goes to The Peak automatically because I see their name more often than I see any others.

And besides, having a Facebook page and posting interesting content is one way to drum up talk about your business. People can respond to comments, questions or give their opinion or recent experiences of the business if they choose to. As the old saying goes, any publicity is good publicity. And by having another method to interact with your business, customers will be more inclined to stay loyal to businesses that take what they have to say seriously.

Oh, and this is in addition for the search engine optimization benefits that being listed as a Facebook page offers.

What Facebook pages have you Liked? And why do you still Like them? I’d love to hear some thoughts on this 🙂

– Shiv 🙂

Market YOURSELF on the Internet

Ever tried Googling yourself? Embarrassed with what pops up? If you are, that is a major problem –  chances are a potential employer (or two, or every single one) has done the same thing. Welcome to the modern world. Everyone has some form of a digital imprint, and the savvy student knows exactly how to put your best digital foot forward 🙂

So how else can you promote yourself online? Well, let’s use the basic principle of marketing and apply them here. A quick situational analysis, like a Porter’s 5, should work nicely.

**Quick caveat: These are generalizations, that definitely depend on industry, personal work experience, and the positions that you are applying for.

1. Bargaining Power of Customers: HIGH. If you are selling yourself, then the buyer would be employers. Here are some questions to ask: Are there many employers looking for your qualifications? In the current economic crisis there are generally fewer positions than applicants, meaning bargaining power is high. In this case, it’s necessary to do everything possible in order to make yourself visible and memorable – that means not just creating an account on all the online channels, but regularly tweeting, responding to people, researching and learning about your specific industry.

2. Bargaining Power of Suppliers: MEDIUM.

In this case, you are selling the skills you got from whoever taught them to you. One way I interpret this is : how much clout does your school have? Or your teachers? If it’s not too much, than you would hope to get jobs that give you excellent experience to make up for it. On the other hand, whoever supplied your education will most likely have resources to help you find a job: Look for alumni networks, ask your peers how they got where they are, and connect with your favourite professors. The internet is a beautiful tool to accomplish all these connections 🙂

3. Threat of New Entrants: HIGH.

How many people are going to learn what you know in the future? This is a worry for people in growing industries, like Sustainability for example. Best way to address this is to constantly improve on your professional skills and take advantage of the extra time you’ve been playing the game before them.

4. Threat of Existing Competition and 5. Threat of Substitutes: HIGH.

How many people do what you do? Probably quite a few. But don’t be discouraged by the number of competitors! Every person IS different from another, and no one else will have the same combination of natural ability, life and work skills as you! It is imperative to broadcast how you differ from your competition if you want to be remembered by potential employers. This goes for the interview, as well as your online profiles.

Takeaways: So how do you use the internet to work to your advantage?

There are two major advantages I see to having an online presence:

1. Exposure. By having an online presence, people who are in different parts of Vancouver, Canada and elsewhere have a way to connect to you. You never know who is surfing the internet looking for candidates just like you.

2. Ability to communicate with all types of players. This is a dismally overlooked part of job searching and establishing an online presence in general. Being online doesn’t just mean that potential employers can find you online; it means you have a way to connect with your fellow job-seeking peers, you can research and keep track of companies that interest you, and even discover positions you never even knew about. Speaking of which…

3. Shows you possibilities you never even knew about. About a year ago, I started up my Twitter account and dutifully started following companies in my favourite industries: Food and Tourism. Little did I know, but there is such thing as ‘Food Tourism’ and it’s a big industry in Vancouver. You can only imagine how blown my mind was. The point of this anecdote is to demonstrate that the more you research, the more knowledge you obtain and the closer you come to finding those perfect-fit jobs.

Happy hunting!

Shiv 🙂