1. Make technology work for you

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    A few months ago I attended an Agency Management Institute meeting in Austin. While there, I checked in on Facebook at the restaurant where we had dinner the first night. The next day, I received a message through Facebook from some friends I hadn’t seen in many, many years that they were now living near Austin. We met for dinner on Friday night and got reacquainted. Facebook is fantastic for keeping up with the news of others, but it cannot replace face-to-face interaction. It was through technology that I was able to rekindle that relationship thanks to the friends who receive my news feed.

    Technology has its place in advertising. Streaming video, social media and online gaming to name a few are in the marketplace for entertainment and sometimes educational purposes. But, the more traditional media – TV, radio, newspaper, magazines, direct mail and outdoor – are still viable sources to connect with your customer as well.

    “No one reads the newspaper anymore.” If you’re reading this, either you’re reading it in the newspaper or you’re reading it online. It was specifically written for the Northeast Mississippi Business Journal for the June 2018 issue dealing with technology.

    “No one listens to the radio anymore. It’s all gone online.” While streaming radio such as Sirius/XM, Pandora and Spotify are popular, the standard ratio stations that I grew up with are still more popular. When you hear the term “terrestrial radio,” it refers to the stations you can dial into in your car or on your radio alarm clock.

    Television is finding its way into the digital world. “Binge watching.” or watching multiple episodes of a TV show in a single sitting, has become very popular. Viewers are also still watching episodes as they air too. Some shows, particularly sporting events, are mostly watched live.

    I could keep going with all the media. The point is that all media have a place in the marketplace. Yes, the introduction of newer digital channels gives more options for the consumer and therefore gives more options to the advertiser from which to choose. The analogy I hear the most about this is that the pie is not getting any bigger, but the slices of the pie are getting smaller as more organizations become part of the pie.

    My friend Danny Foster addressed an Apilachi District meeting of the local Boy Scouts of America. He commented that every day we have 86,400 second to use. We spend them every day; we cannot make any more. Each day we get the same number. So with many other opportunities for our time – TV, radio, newspaper, magazines, outdoor boards, Netflix, Hulu, Sirius XM, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. – there is less and less time to spend with each one each day as more enter the marketplace. A choice will be made on where time will be spent.

    With so many options the consumers can choose, it becomes much more important that the advertiser defines its target for messaging. There can and will be multiple targets. One size no longer fits all. A more precise target makes a much better aim where the proper media and vehicle can be chosen to do the most good for the advertiser.

    Technology continues to change things. Don’t be afraid of it. Don’t shy away from it. Find out how to make the changes work for you.

  2. The tools of technology are here sooner rather than later

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    In January of 2016, I attended a conference hosted by the Agency Management Institute to learn about advancements in technology in the realm of advertising and public relations.  I was also given a brief overview of what we’d be seeing “sooner rather than later.” While I am usually skeptical about that phrase, it turned out to be prophetic.

    I’d heard of virtual reality, also known as VR. I’d actually started hearing about it when I was in college. Science fiction became science fact, though probably not in the way that was envisioned while the authors wrote the fiction on their word processors. I was not as familiar with augmented reality (AR) which is where the virtual reality world and the real world meet. The example I was shown was from a real estate agency in New York. By use of the agency’s app, the smartphone owner could look at the New York streetscape and be notified by graphics on the phone where properties were located. No, this wasn’t a map. This was like taking a video on the smartphone while graphics popped up with information and addresses of the properties. So the virtual world of the properties on the screen and the actual picture on the screen merged into an augmented reality. So I had some ideas how real estate agencies and retail stores could use this technology as an interactive catalog, and I had good examples of how to explain it.

    The shock for me was that I’d been in a conversation about this technology called augmented reality only months before and through a game it had worldwide status almost instantaneously.

    While it still may not be a household term, Pokémon Go is. It was only a few short months after returning that Pokémon Go became extremely popular. It wasn’t unusual to see people playing the game at night in Fairpark in front of city hall. Museums in Washington, D.C., were posting signs requesting players to be respectful as they traipsed through. There were interesting reports of bizarre trespassing incidences.

    The Internet of Things, or IoT, was discussed at this conference too. If you’re controlling devices in your home by a computer, tablet or smartphone, then you’re using the Internet of Things. These devices have sensors in them that allow you to monitor them, and some allow you to  control them remotely through a wireless connection. Your Fitbit that tells you how many steps you’ve taken, what your heart rate is, and tells you how well you’re sleeping; the air-conditioning unit that you can control by phone; and when you voice-command the gadget in your house to turn the sprinklers on to ward off your daughter’s serenading suitor, that’s the Internet of Things. Like the internet you’re familiar with, it is growing too.

    Have you thought to yourself “These things are great for large cities, but we won’t see them in North Mississippi for a while”? They’re here.

    Most advances in technology are gradual. Like watching a child grow, the changes are difficult to spot because they happen slowly.  When a grandmother says, “My how you’ve grown,” it is because she recognizes the changes since she doesn’t see her grandchild every day. If that doesn’t strike home, do this. Think about doing all of the things that you do on your smartphone now with the one you had two phones ago. Gotcha! Technology is steadily coming into our lives.

  3. A marketer’s personal view of technology

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    James Gregory is a comedian from the Atlanta area who told a story about his uncle watching a commercial about a movie that ended with the phrase “Coming soon to a theater near you.” The uncle responded with the question, “How do they know where I live?”


    I haven’t purchased film for a camera in a decade; I use a digital camera. Using digital printing, graphics can be changed from one printed piece to the next without having to make a physical change to the printer. I’ve noticed that if I’ve gone to a website looking for a product, I start seeing banner ads about the product I viewed, prompting me to buy it; this is called “retargeting.” Although I’ve not seen it demonstrated, I attended a meeting where a media buyer talked about pushing commercials to home televisions through cable and satellite systems much in the same way that the banner ads are pushed to the shopper on digital devices. I guess that means “Coming soon to a home theater near you.”

    Technology enables me as a marketer to reach customers with more precision than I’ve had in the past. I can go from a shotgun or scattergun approach to a rifle approach with the information that is available. I can target by geography, economy, ethnicity and job title. I can use combinations of targets.

    As you shop at a grocery store or a pharmacy, do you get coupons printed when you get your receipt? They’re based on your buying habits. I often get coupons to order contacts from a store where I only buy contact solution.

    This year I was at a convention with a group of clients. We wanted to get away from the hotel to eat. I made reservations for 14 people with an app on my phone. I’ve used an app to get a taxi in a major metropolitan area.

    I get messages on my phone from apps that suggest things to see and places to eat. I can be eating at a local restaurant and see a banner on my phone that asks, “Are you eating …?” and it knows where I am. I can follow my friends as we travel from different origin points to a common destination.

    I can see and talk to my two-year-old niece using Skype or FaceTime although she lives almost 2,000 miles away.

    Technology has its place. For marketers, it helps us add more credibility to our media buys. We can see the needle move and look back at the dates of our campaign to correlate how the message was received.

    I look at a popular online retailer called Amazon.com. I hear a lot of retailers who wish they could be the next Amazon. Amazon started as an online bookseller and now sells almost anything imaginable. Amazon is constantly working on itself to make the purchasing experience with them better. So what is their latest move? Amazon has opened its first bricks-and-mortar bookstore in Seattle. Have they come to the end of their technological journey? Of course not. It’s possible they’re going to find that the human connection can be as important as convenience.

    Technology has invaded Scouting too. I recently pitched a tent that had plastic guyline tensioners which allow the user to adjust the tension of the rope attached to the tent to lengthen or shorten it as necessary. I also know how to tie a taut-line hitch, which is what the guyline tensioner was designed to replace. The plastic pieces work great until they break. The taut-line hitch doesn’t break.

    Technology is a tool. A tool is neither good nor bad. It’s how the tool is used that is important. It’s important to know how things work because technology – as good as it is – may not always work. And, I don’t want to answer a client, “Because the app told me to.”

    I enjoy learning about technological advances and how I can use them to my advantage, and I like to know how the technology works to spur ideas of how I can effectively use technology to the benefit of my clients.

    Originally published on page 5 of the December, 2015 issue of the Northeast Mississippi Business Journal in the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal.

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