Saturday, October 30, 2010

Make mine to go

If you don't have a mobile strategy, you don't have a growth plan.

If that sounds extreme, consider some of the latest data that is reinventing consumer orientation for every business in every industry. For starters, the 3,339 texts per month (or six per hour) traded by U.S. teens (4,050 texts per month for girls) suggest that mobility is a way of life.

Young adults 18 to 24 text about half as much, or an average three texts per hour. Texting is the primary reason that young consumers say they have mobile devices; it is easier and faster than making phones calls. This is a clear sign of permanent behavior change hinged on an unprecedented level of interactivity.

But data and apps are the real rising stars of the more than 85% of mobile handsets expected to be Web-connect by next year. The number of people accessing the Internet from mobile devices will outpace the PC within five years. For consumers, it's all about the power of convenient connections and information.

94% of teens consider themselves advanced data users, using their cell phones for messaging, Internet access, multimedia, gaming, downloads and other activities. Downloading and using apps -- a shortcut to where they want to be and what they want to do -- is a rapidly rising second. Mainstream usage of mobile connectivity has surpassed activity on pre-installed games, ringtone downloads and instant messaging.

Even with some 233 mobile phone users in the U.S. on par with the estimated 115 million domestic households that have at least one TV, mobile advertising is just $3 billion of the total $25 billion in total ad spending. While companies grapple with mobile ad solutions grounded in conventional ad practices, the real marketing magic will likely emerge as more interactive consumer pursuits.

For instance, the growing acceptance by users of touchscreen mobile devices such as iPads to make micropayments on the go suggests the development of sustained target marketing relationships punctuated by transactions -- advertising's endgame. Virtually half of consumers say they are routinely making purchases for movie tickets, takeout food, travel and apps using their mobile phones.

Up to 50% of the world's mobile subscribers could be making payments by 2014.
Global mobile commerce is predicted to reach $119 billion by 2015, with Japan and other Asian nations leading the way. In the U.S. alone, consumers already have ordered more than $1 billion in products from Amazon in the past 12 months using mobile devices.

What better place to be than in consumers' hands and heads? With 85% of all American owning a cell phone, about one-third of which are expected to be smartphones in 2011, the mandate is clear. Until that new mobile mindset becomes a strategic and operating priority, companies' growth prospects will lag.

There are signs that Google's entry into the mobile device arena with its Android operating system, now the most popular among recent smartphone users may lure more advertisers to the other side. Google said it expects to realize $1 billion in mobile revenues this year, or about 3% of its total revenues.

New ways of connecting with consumers -- apps, local geotargeted marketing and social networking -- embrace the interaction and transactions that mobile consumers clearly crave.

As mobile Web browsing continues to increase, the pathway to the consumer will be dictated by how they use their personal devices to manipulate their cars, appliances and homes while monitoring their finances, health, work and recreation.

Failure to grasp the interactive possibilities of mobile could be fatal.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Parents Weekend Circa 2010

This weekend was Parents weekend at Quinnipiac University. We have two sons in college in Connecticut, one at UCONN and one at QU. Our entire family met at Quinnipiac today, with our dog Bella in tow. We used GPS to drive to the college. My wife sent text messages to her two boys (non-stop) during the two hour drive from New Jersey. We used EZ-Pass to cross the Tappan Zee Bridge. On campus, we took digital photos from iPhones and numerous digital cameras. We used cell phones to stay in touch when we all were occasionally separated. There were 2D Barcodes all over Quinnipiac, for instant coupons to be sent to mobile phones for Parents Weekend specials. You could text “Boomer” (the QU Mascot) to the short code for QU to win a free dinner at a local restaurant.

Quinnipiac played Holy Cross in Ice Hockey at 4pm. The game was streamed live on the Internet. At least half the people at the hockey game had video cameras, and the others were watching the game on the Jumbo Screen at the new sports arena. Some people in the stands were actually looking down at the ice, watching the game live. What a concept, watching a sporting event live, without using any form of electronic device.

Before my wife and I said our goodbyes, I had some time alone with my youngest son, Robert, our UCONN sophomore. There were no cell phones involved, no text messages, and no cutting-edge technology. It was just the two of us, and our dog Bella. Robert spoke to me directly, looking me in the eye, standing just a few feet away. I will remember that five minute one-on-one conversation for the rest of my life. There was no need for digital technology. As they say on the TV commercials, “priceless”.

Technology is all around us. Technology can make our lives better. It can save us time, it can make us money. In some cases, it can even save our lives. But technology can never replace the most important things in life. The take home message: do not miss the “no technology required” moments in your life. And, these moments happen more often than you think, so pay attention. Put away the cell phone. Just use your eyes, you ears. And, if you are lucky enough to have the opportunity, put your hand on your son or daughter’s shoulder, and use your sense of touch as well. The best “Kodak moments” in life do not need a camera.

By the way, if you are interested, you can watch the replay of today’s Ice Hockey game on Hulu and on YouTube, as Quinnipiac beat Holy Cross 3 to 1. Technology really is amazing.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Get Lost!

Over five centuries ago, Christopher Columbus set sail across the Atlantic Ocean in search of a new trade route to India. The findings of this explorer from Genoa, Italy, would change the map of the world and forever alter the course of human history. Columbus accomplished this great feat by getting lost.

When Columbus's crew came ashore in the Americas, they arrived in a world previously unknown to his contemporaries in Europe. Columbus returned to the Caribbean three more times after his maiden voyage in 1492, convinced of the vast potential of what he had seen. His expeditions foreshadowed the journey across the seas for millions of courageous immigrants who followed.
Interestingly, most people do not realize that America was discovered by a salesman. Christopher Columbus was looking for India when he missed it by about 10,000 miles. Fortunately, he was a better salesman than he was a sailor!

If you question his sales ability, just review the facts: He was an Italian in Spain with only one prospect to call on. If he blew the sale, he would have a long swim home. That is what I call pressure selling. Once aboard his borrowed ship, he really had to "sell" his crew in order to get them to sail for him. After a week or two at sea, the crew was going to throw him overboard, convinced that they were all doomed and that Columbus was crazy. He kept saying, "It's just over the horizon, let's sail one more day!" Then came that fateful day and exciting call from the lookout, "Land ho!" and the most profitable sales call in history came to a close. Talk about a long sales cycle!

Actually, everything is selling and everybody sells. At MTP, I say "Our sales department is not the whole company, but the whole company is the sales department." So, no matter what your title or job description might be, no matter what career path you choose, we are all in sales whether we realize it or not – we are all just like Christopher Columbus.

So, the next time you are feeling lost, just remember that you never know what is just beyond the horizon, or just around the corner. Just keep on sailing (selling) and you too might have a Federal Holiday named after you one day.

Oh, and you might want to pick up a GPS to keep the crew (boss, employees, co-workers, wife, etc.) happy.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Swing Batter, Swing!

In baseball and in business, timing is everything. You miss a phone call, you could lose the deal. You hesitate on a contract and a competitor can beat you to the punch. Timing even affects professional ball players - swing too early or too late and you strike out. Performing any action at the proper point in time has a major impact on their level of success.

It's all about the timing.

Research has shown that the best time to send e-mails, make phone calls, and get in touch with your clients and customers is midweek and mid- afternoon, when your customers' responsibilities are fewer and they welcome diversions from their work.

Whenever deciding to launch a product, market a service or even send an e-mail, always put yourself in your customer's shoes to be sure you time it right.

Seasonal Marketing: Everything in life has a season. Fans and cooling systems are needed in the summer; toys and personal gadgets should be featured around the holidays. If you focus on your customer's needs, then your marketing timeline will naturally follow.

Punctuality: Arriving on time for meetings and interviews makes a favorable impression. If you're late, you'll need to work harder to gain favor and recover lost ground that you've relinquished to competing individuals or businesses.

Tomorrow’s Technology Today: Technology changes rapidly. Keep your business, computers and phone systems in the 'now'- updated and modernized- in order to maintain your competitive edge.

Apparel Time: Be sure to dress right for each occasion. Tuxes are for weddings, shorts for the beach. Each item has a place and time. You need to dress to impress at some points in time; at others, you may need to tone down your garb in order to put your customers and clients at ease.

How do you determine proper timing in marketing? There are many factors that affect this decision, but a lot has to do with your client relationship. If you have a solid connection with your customers and have your finger on the pulse of your target market, you'll know what they want and need - now. Last month, something may have been vital - this month, it's already old news. Don't miss your chance. Keep in touch with your clients, find out about their requirements and figure out a way to service them with your products and services.

Just like in baseball, too early or too late, you will strike out - no matter how great and how strong a swing you have. Timing is everything: your creative ideas and inspiration are vital to success, but employed at the wrong time, those great ideas are just a useless waste of energy.

Go Yankees!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

New Jersey Five-0

Hawaii Five-O is an American television series produced by CBS Productions, and set in Hawaii. The show originally aired for twelve seasons from 1968 to 1980, and continued in reruns. The show featured a fictional state police unit run by Detective Steve McGarrett, played by actor Jack Lord. The theme music composed by Morton Stevens became a number one hit on the radio. Many episodes would end with McGarrett instructing his subordinate, Danny Williams (played by James MacArthur), to arrest the alleged offender(s) with the phrase: "Book 'em, Danno!"

Born Oct, 2nd, 1960 I turned the “Big Five-0 today”. I keep hearing that show’s theme music in my head. Instead of seeing the opening scene of that massive Hawaii ocean wave that started every show, I am seeing a collage of scenes from my life. In my mind’s eye I can see the best days of my life: my wedding day, the birth of my two sons, both of their high school graduations, etc. I have so many blessings; too many to count. And, thankfully, I have resisted the temptation to do something stupid like buying an expensive sports car (or motorcycle) or sky diving or trying the myriad of things that “turning 50” might bring about. And since I do want to see 51 without my wife ending my quest early, I have behaved myself.

But now, that collage of vivid memories in my mind has switched to scenes of technology. I am reliving watching man land on the moon, and how I watched it on television with my parents. I am remembering how much I loved the “James Bond” movies growing up, and I can’t help but think that my love of 007 made me buy my first car phone in 1983 (I had no job – but I just had to have a car phone). I remember my days at Purdue, when the first “micro computers” were introduced, and how my Professor predicted that everyone will have a personal computer. We all thought he was crazy. I remember my first digital wrist watch ($300) my first Texas Instrument calculator ($200) and all of the toys and gadgets that have shaped my life – and ultimately - shaped my career. I witnessed the birth of Microsoft, Apple Computer, and the Internet. I lived through the break-up of AT&T, the birth of the “Baby Bells” and the creation of the Smartphone. Wearing a beeper used to tell the world that you were either a Doctor or a Plumber. Now, I can’t remember the last time I saw anyone with a beeper. And the iPhone, ah yes, the iPhone. From the company that was all but out of business, Steve Jobs and Apple have now changed the world (again) with the iPad. It feels like just yesterday that calling “long distance” was a big deal, and calling to places like Italy, France or the UK was like a buck a minute. Can you say Skype?

The Facebook movie came out this week. I just had dozens of people from all of over the world wishing me a Happy Birthday. One sent me the Beatle’s “Happy Birthday” tune as a .wav file. It all started with an idea - Facebook - a revolution in communication. Now in just a few years, Facebook is worth $25 billion. Mark Zuckerberg is the youngest billionaire. Amazing times, don’t you think?

This week, a Rutgers student killed himself because an embarrassing video of him was posted on the Internet. With so much information available at the click of a button, it is hard to imagine that such a vast resource could be used for such terrible deeds. Social media has a huge effect on the lives of young people, who often share pieces of their life with their social networking friends that they normally would not bring up during conversations. The death of the Rutgers student is, of course, one of the more extreme cases, but it is not the first case of suicide following online social media bullying. Please join me in saying a prayer for him and for his family.

I love my life, my family and my job. I have been truly blessed to work in an industry that is exciting, entertaining, and that continues to change the world. It is not a perfect world, and it will never be perfect. In my humble opinion (as a certified technology nerd) technology is here to stay - so we better all figure out how to use it for good and not evil.

Will Facebook go the way of “the beeper” or will it still be here in 2020? As my last 50 years can attest, the proper answer to all questions regarding technology will always be “perhaps”. There is a quote that says “money makes bad people worse, and it makes good people better”. I say the same goes for technology. Money and technology are tools. It will always be up to all of us how we use our tools, for good or for evil.

OK, so thank you to everyone who wished me a “Happy Birthday” via Facebook. Even those of you who I have never met, those people that I never spoke with in my life, I thank you for your good thoughts for my big 5-0. In closing, I did get a wonderful email today from a Facebook friend that has informed me that he needs my help. It turns out that he is a Prince (from some country that I never heard of) that needs to move several million dollars to the USA. And, if I help him to wire the money, he will give me 10%. Wow, and on my birthday too! To this birthday blessing, I can only say one thing:

"Book 'em, Danno!"