Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Experiential Marketing

Plum Tree Group is always looking to enrich our services, and in doing so, we are enchancing our marketing department through experiential marketing. So, to begin with, what is experiential marketing? Experiential marketing is basically what it sounds like. Marketing through experience. However, to expand, it allows people to engage and interact with brands, products, and services in sensory ways. This type of marketing provides information, but through personal experiences that make people feel connected. An analogy would be that customers are the cord, and marketing is the outlet. Experiential marketing is the action of plugging the cord into the outlet. 

The process of experiential marketing, like any type of marketing, begins with understanding the client's expectations. Why are they so passionate about their brand and products? How can we convey that to people? We are currently in the process of working with Illinois Vehicle, an automotive insurance company. Part of their experiential marketing are videos for a knowledge center being featured on their website. One of their primary goals is outreach to the Latin American communities. Second is research. Lots of research. This includes hard data speaking to what's working within an industry and why. If we have a niche client, will what they're doing work from an angle, or do we need to modify some things to appeal to more people? These are questions that we ask ourselves and answer through our research. One of the things we researched was what specific things that our target demographics need and want more information on, so that we could choose the appropriate topics. 

So in conducting our research for Illinois Vehicle, we decided that in order to best help them achieve their goal of outreach to the Latin American communities, it would be best to film the videos in areas where those communities are based. We asked ourselves what would be an appropriate location. So we went straight to Pilsen, a heavily Latin American community to film. This will help Illinois Vehicle better identify with the customers, and show that we are actually creating contact with the people that we are trying to reach. The filming process was prepared with clothing changes, concepts, scripts, and set locations. We had a great time that day meshing with people and bringing the videos to life so that they could be sent through post-production and distribution. 



Remember though, experiential marketing doesn't stop with videos. Next up for Illinois Vehicle is attending a huge Latin American festival to create awareness and meet people. Events are also a key component. It is a very creative department, so anything from flash mobs to the new House of Nike can help a brand. Think about some of the best experiential marketing that you have experienced. What made it special? Our goal at P.T.G. is to continue to define and grow this department through fundamentals and innovation. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Plum Tree Group at Techweek 2012

Like a first site launch or a first wireframe, the first trade show is a rite of passage all digital agencies find themselves face-to-face with eventually. But we here at Plum Tree Group know we passed that milestone at Chicago’s Techweek with flying colors! We met a lot of great people, introduced our new products and saw some amazing new innovations in the span of just a few days.

Techweek 2012 Expo was held on the eighth floor of the Merchandise Mart, from Friday June 22nd until Monday June 25th. The Conference - which featured many interesting panel discussions, workshops and insight from some of the foremost leaders in technology, media and marketing - went until Tuesday, the 26th. We gave away a lot of flyers (and candy!) while engaging with fellow tech-nerds interested not only in our product development side, but also our design and development work. We had a team of friendly PTG’ers there to answer any questions from our development, design, sales and marketing teams.

Plum Tree Group spoke with many people interested in our new products, which we unveiled at our booth: eIntelli and OnBoard. Many fellow business owners and salespeople loved the idea of making their proposal-writing easier and more effective, while several company representatives loved the idea of gamifying the new employee orientation process.

There were a ton of great features at Techweek, but a few were absolutely standout. Several of us participated in the Food Truck Face-Off, which largely meant stuffing our faces at the food trucks parked outside Merch Mart. PTG’s unanimous favorite @TheWagyuWagon actually won, congrats guys! The Startup City was certainly a highlight, with some amazing new ideas ready to roll out. If you missed it, there’s a virtual tour on Techweek’s Facebook page, check it out!

All in all, Techweek was a fun, amazing time for Plum Tree Group and if you came by our booth, you helped make it a great first trade show experience. Let us know if you met one of the team, Techweek brethren!  We’re sure to be back!

Monday, July 09, 2012

Creating The Best Mobile Landing Page

Here at Plum Tree Group, we've helped design a lot of websites for companies, and a lot goes into it. However, these days, there's more to the traditional website. People aren't looking at websites on just their desktops anymore, or even on just their smart phones either. Now there are e-readers coming out in all shapes and sizes, as well as other forms of tablets. So you need to make sure that you have the best mobile landing page. In other words, you need to make sure that your website translates on to every device in a way that will make consumers reciprocate. Here are three primary tips that will help:

1. Words. It's important to be brief. Very brief. Reduction is approximately 35% for smart phones, and 65% for e-readers and tablets. This means making headings no more than four words, and using no more than three bullets. Every single word should have a large amount of value. It's also important to be legible. Consumers shouldn't be using their fingers to zoom in and out of different things. Google recommends an arm's length as a legibility guide for mobile. Be mindful of contrast and color schemes as well.

2. Accessibility and speed. People don't want to download the same software on to their mobile devices the same way that they do on their desktops. So make sure that your entire page can be viewed. Flash, frames, certain kinds of images, and many plug-ins do not work on mobile. Instead, try to stick to HTML5 and JPEG's. 40% of consumers turn to a competitor's site after a failed mobile experience. Speed is also crucial. 74% of consumers wait five seconds for everything to load. Then they're on to something else. So don't clog your website with too much.

3. From orderly to action. For mobile devices, single column layouts are the best. Be sure to put all of the important information at the top, scrolling from top priorities to lower ones. Then, have calls to action. Keep forms simple and short. If there is more information to be collected, separate it into to pages, to make it seem like it's not so much. Also, have phone numbers embedded with direct calling capability. A lot of phone calls to companies are made from mobile devices, all coming from websites. Just remember not to have too many calls to action. Try sticking to three or less. 


We hope that this information helps. Google is an excellent resource to collect more information on this. Keep everything mobile in mind when designing anything for your company, because this is where a huge amount of consumers are. This is one of our key focuses at P.T.G., and we want to make sure that you are up to date on all of the constant changes. 

(Some images obtained from www.searchenginewatch.com.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Hidden Treasures of YouTube

Social media is everywhere these days. There's no denying that. For most companies, it's not even a choice or not. You must create engagement. However, out of all of the social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram... YouTube is often overlooked. The Plum Tree Group is currently in the process of creating short videos for clients, and we have found the process to be educational, but fun. 

So what are the hidden treasures of YouTube? How powerful can it actually be? YouTube now has over 200 million views a day on mobile. It serves as an inclusive voice to create awareness and engage in conversation. We want to share five hidden treasures of YouTube that can help your personal or company brand...

1. YouTube can create a revenue. An exceptional revenue. It's estimated that in 2011, YouTube generated around $2 billion. There's a YouTube Partner Program, where you can make a deal with the site. Rules basically state that you need to create original videos, which you own, that are regularly uploaded and viewed by thousands of users. How much can you make? That all depends on the volume of views. However, most say that their videos bring in thousands a month. Not bad, huh?

2. You can legitimately learn anything on YouTube. It's actually a central place for education. Not only are there experts on YouTube, but there are people who should be experts, and can offer loads of knowledge. Whether you want to learn how to do your make-up like Lady Gaga in one of her music videos, or engage in an hour long fitness session, it's all on there for users like you. Also, if you're tired of listening to A.M. radio or N.P.R., there are also a lot of current issues being presented on YouTube, from all different kinds of perspectives. 

3. Voice. A strong voice. If your company is looking to create a general awareness, and speak to the public in large about things that are important to you, this is the place. When this social media channel is used correctly, you can have millions of views over the span of a weekend. This isn't like other social media channels where people have to be your friend, following you, or even have to be subscribed to you in order to see your content. Without a YouTube membership, anyone can go to the site and punch in your video's keywords. 

4. Sponsored isn't always best. You want subscribers. These are people who view all of your videos on their feed, giving you guaranteed views. However, a lot of people subscribe to channels based off of recommendations, not sponsors. It's all about word of mouth. So think twice before dropping a lot of money on a sponsored message or placed advertising. A buzz needs to be generated instead. This can be created by first, having catchy content, and second, by using other social media channels to draw attention to your video. 

5. It's about efficiency. Although your content has to be catchy, it also has to be efficient. People in YouTube videos serve as filters to present information however they want, creating the voice we mentioned before. However, it's important to remember that people don't want to sit through a 10 minute video. You need to pick what content is the most appealing and important. Short, but not too simple is the way to go. Humor also doesn't hurt. 

Lastly, it's important to remember to appreciate YouTube. Because of it's power, a lot of other cultures view it as dangerous. It's actually banned in China and Ethiopia, where using it is considered a punishable crime. So remember to utilize YouTube, whether it's for building a brand, creating a personal identity, sharing knowledge, or trying to bring in some revenue. As we mentioned, it's often forgotten in the world of social media, which is a mistake that you could be making. 

Images courtesy of www.youtube.com

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Creating a Dynamic Inbox

This past weekend, The Plum Tree Group was a part of Tech Week here in Chicago, where we got the opportunity to see and get to know a lot of great startups. Here at P.T.G., we're all about taking these big ideas, and creating big results. In order to create an answer, or product that people will use, you first have to ask, what is the problem that people are having? As the saying goes, "People don't want a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole." 

Innovation is the core of the relationship between brands and their consumers. To channel this, Microsoft BizSpark has started The Spark of Genius Series, where each post highlights a unique feature of a startup. We found a post about a startup called PhilterIt particularly interesting. 

So what is the problem? Your inbox is a mess. Even though you might have multiple e-mail accounts, personal e-mails, promotional e-mails, and work e-mails can all start to collide. Plus, you can't leave those work e-mails at the office. You constantly need to be in the know. On average, a person checks their e-mail every one to two hours in their free time. 

In comes PhilterIt. PhilterIt is all about choice. First, you need to register, using AOL Mail, Gmail, or Yahoo Mail. Then the process begins. If you still want to see all of your read and unread e-mails, or every e-mail at once, that's fine. However, if you want to seperate your personal e-mails and brand e-mails, or categorize all of them, that can happen too. The interface pulls all of the e-mails that you have received in the past 30 days. PhilterIt lists all of the brands that have sent you e-mails, and categorizes them. Categories include Organizations and Retail, Finance and Bills, Entertainment, ect. From then, you can prioritize, and choose which e-mails will be accessible on your personal Dashboard. 

PhilterIt is the result of lots of research, surveys, and interviews. All of these helped creators Avi Levine and Robert Wollner discover what individuals want from their inboxes. 

The concept is that it can be as dynamic or as simple as you want. The startup's ultimate goal is to revolutionize e-mail and online communication. With the company starting development last November, they realize that there is still a path ahead, constantly working to perfect the product. Their most recent goal is to make the web platform capible of going mobile, which is naturally the next step. 

This means that companies are going to have to work that much harder to reach their consumer via e-mail. Although e-mail is an effective and growing means of communication, it will now be easier for consumers to filter brand e-mails out. So companies have to make sure that consumers view their e-mails worth their time. 

If you want to see this startup for yourself, check out http://www.philterit.com

Images courtesy of http://www.philterit.com.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The End of Online Shopping Problems

Online shopping. It’s great. You can buy anything that your heart desires in the comfort of your home with the click of a mouse. However, haven’t most of us come across online shopping problems? You have that moment when you realized that you ordered something three weeks ago, or it’s arrived, and is almost unrecognizable to what you thought you ordered. This creates feelings of anxiety around online shopping, preventing people from taking the jump.

It would be nice if there were something universal, which could ensure that people wouldn’t run into these problems. The world of online shopping is vast, and we want quality for our money. In comes Google Trusted Stores, connecting shoppers and great stores online.

Google has been testing this program since last fall with 50 merchants and over 10 million orders. They were met with success, and as of June 7th, any U.S. merchant can apply to Google Trusted Stores.

What happens if their application is approved? First, they get a Google Trusted Stores badge. When readers hover their mouse over this badge, they will see the merchant’s “report card” with their “grades” on it. They receive a grade for 1) shipping and 2) service. This badge is only given to merchants that have provided overall excellent experiences to customers. 

Still feeling skeptical? When you buy from merchants with badges, you can get up to $1,000 lifetime purchase protection per shopper. There is also a customer service team ready to help you and a merchant resolve an issue.

Overall, this is going to benefit everyone. Consumers are going to feel more assured in making online purchases. As well as on the other side, merchants are receiving an opportunity to demonstrate excellence and gain new business. Badges will soon show up on Google.com ads and Google Shopping results. Merchants both big and small can utilize this. Wayfair, one of the largest online-only retailers increased sales on its site by 2.3 percent with Google Trusted Stores. And Beau-coup, a specialty online retailer, saw an 8.6 percent increase.

Google Trust Stores is free to both customers and merchants, and is still being improved to reach its full potential. The Plum Tree Group is excited to see this roll out, and hopes to incorporate it into work with clients.