The virtual office – Good reasons why your business may start here.

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Share Word on Round Button - GenerosityIn days of Facebook, AirBnB, Tumblr & others, when new business models and start-ups spread all over the world, some marketing freelancers might think about the option to appear big. Or shall I say for some interim period of establishing a business, these people might want to look bigger than some decision-makers might imagine? Whatever their driver might be. When starting a business, marketing consultants have got the challenge to look professional all over their brand. An address in the right context location seemed to be a must-have. It’s all about the brand, right? However today, the overarching value of a new business brand might have changed. What was a shiny office address in the middle of town in the year 2000, isn’t important any more (and maybe never was). There are new and probably better options that virtual offices can offer.

Thinking back around millenium days, when we launched a start-up with some good business partners, the venture capitalists would have loved the option of a virtual business. The resons were obvious: The business model puts a foot on the “valid business reasons'” groud instantly. Operationals can start immediately. Being first to market, cannot be taken away from you. “Land and expand” is the option. All set. In 2000 this sounded like a dream for founders and their investors. Our company’s rental costs were the biggest liability we had those days (also when we bought the business and sold some years later). We couldn’t just leave and sign off our contracts. The landlord was clever enough to keep us in our rooms for at least six more months. The virtual office is much more flexible and usually offering shorter termination periods.

Talking about liabilities, you might also think about getting a secretary? Another cost topic. Virtual offices have got their own secretaries who will look after your business. Calls, postage, or even emails if you may want to leave it to them: all sorted out by them. Whether it is PR requests, marketing topics, sales inquieries or any other service related business, the virtual assistant is giving clients and business contacts what they are asking for (if you brief them properly). No overhead business. No extraordinary employee costs. If it is your own staff, you have to find replacement for them on days of illness or family issues. In virtual offices, the service is available 24/7/365. These days, you do not necessarily have to pay for health treatment if someone is ill. And speaking frankly, this harms your business in the start-up business three-fold: cost-wise, additional workload and underpaid founders doing processes and projects they should not be looking after in the start-up period.

Later, when I started some other consulting business, I used a virtual office place to start the business. The benefits were quite interesting then:
a) Pay-per-stay. When I was in London for business, my virtual office in London would have been fantastic. Why do you always have to commute around London and waste expense budgets, when from time to time you can just have gotten people to commute to you?
b) Pay-per-use. When clients came to visit, I did one phone call to the virtual office desk and paid for hourly use. That was really handy. Do I need to “own” (and pay) a meeting-room that is unused for 35 out of 40 hours a week?
c) Pay-per-need. When I needed a desk, I paid for a shared desk. If I wanted to stay at home, I just told the office desk the day before. Do I need to rent a place where “my” desk stands and is waiting for me too many days in a month? Traveling is the key to starting a good business. Meet as many people as you think is necessary.
d) Pay-per-inspiration. When I needed business exchange, new innovative approaches or even looked for some new networking opportunities, there were people from many industries to talk to at the coffee lounge in the virtual office. On a good talk, I paid for the coffee. No cheaper way to get consulting. And: Who goes a floor down in his office, just to meet someone as they are tenants like you are in order to speak about business?

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There are valid business reasons to use a virtual office company when you start a business. When the business grows and you have got paperwork to store, you might think about using a bigger version of the virtual office components and features. Still, the reason for renting an office in days of cloud computing, bigger WIFI access and coffee bars in virtual offices is becoming smaller and smaller. And even, if your business grows, there are many ways to leverage the virtual office s long as you act in start-up mode.

How Google works by Eric Schmidt (Slideshare)

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Eric Schmidt shared his view on “How Google Works” in an interesting Slideshare presentation. In a snapshot, this 54 slides presentation gives you some brought insights into the recent NY Times Best Selling book and makes clear how Google acts in their daily business. The message is clear: Get some clever, creative and smart brains at the nucleus of your business and make them shape a product by having access to various tools and more importantly the freedom to invent the future. Throw away your business suits, wear hoodies and free your brains! Sounds a bit wild to most of you, but hey isn’t that exactly what we always wanted?!

How Google Works from Eric Schmidt

Reports: How retail marketing managers use digital, and how customers think…

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Social media marketing has become more and more important for retail marketers in the U.S. this year compared to 2013. This states the latest reports by Extole which was based on the survey response of 302 people responsible for marketing and technology at U.S. retail companies. However, mobile marketing and email are still top priorities as well for those marketers across various verticals, company sizes and geographies.

Extole Report 2014 Marketing Spend to 2013

Although social media marketing was the leading marketing spend compared to last year with 41%, mobile advertising (32%) and email marketing (31%) were catching up as well. Whereas thee marketing spends were on the sweetspot for budget spends, topics like display advertising (28%), content marketing (28%), and paid search (24%) got less marketing spends this year.

Extole Report 2014 Marketing Channels Regularly

The report also made clear that retail marketers use social media and email two most (85%). Not surprisingly as social media was mentioned as the most effective tactic for acquiring customers. 50% of the retail marketers have picked it in the top three results. Nevertheless, if retail marketers want to convert retail customers, email marketing is still seen as the most effective marketing tool.

Spot On!
If we compare this report to another much broader study by Capgemini “Digital Shopper Relevancy Report” that asked 18.000 consumers around the globe, marketers might be putting too much emphasize on social media marketing. Marketers might have a closer look at the not “socially-engaged shopper” categories and then decide in which markets to invest in social media marketing, and which stay with a broader holistic digital marketing approach.

Capgemini 2014 Digital Consumers

What is your experience on how to best address your customers in the retail or technology space?

Digital Strategy Toolbox 2014 (Slideshare)

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Julian Cole released his second presentation of the “Digital Strategy Toolkit”. This Digital Strategy Toolbox for 2014 can be viewed on SlideShare and give marketers some new ideas on which tools to use for their next digital strategy set-up. It contains some valuable insights and examples of tools (19 in total). Furthermore, it is looking at cool websites, research stats and some more inspirational material. Maybe you already know a lot of these tactics but still, it is worth to double-check if you are still up-to-date, right?

Digital Strategy Toolbox 2014 from Julian Cole

Report: Best rated CRM software tools 2014

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A recent report from G2 Crowd, based on the reviews of 1,700 CRM professional users, shows that Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics are the leading two customer relationship management (CRM) systems. This is the finding of a report that has checked the 27 highest rated systems by customers.

The report grouped tools together based on two main deliveries a) overall customer satisfaction (average scores by users) and b) market presence (market share, vendor size, and social impact). The report defined the CRM systems as software systems that provide salesforce automation features (account, contact and opportunity management), marketing automation tools (lead and campaign management), customer support options (knowledge management and support case), and a unifying database.

In the CRM “leader” category finished Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics. Both tools showed substantial scale and were rated relatively highly. Salesforce was rated significantly better by 9 out of 10 users: reviewers gave Salesforce 4 or 5 stars. Furthermore, 84% stated they would recommend the product to peers and 88% thought the CRM tool is headed in the right direction.

However, Microsoft Dynamic’s impact on the market in the top tier is predominantly depending to its large market share. Only 60% of Microsoft Dynamics users rated the product 4 or 5 stars. Still, 64% would recommend the tool to their peers and 60% think the CRM system is headed in the right direction.

G2 Crowd Grid CRM Software 2014

Spot On!
Another study by Salesforce.com shows that customers experince CRM systems to boost customer experience. However, data quality and predictive analytics could still do better in performance conversion. Nevertheless, the battle in the CRM tool business is on. Microsoft just bundled their product offering to challenge Salesforce. Although aggressive pricing might change proples’ minds, Salesforce.com has the benefit there exist hundreds of AppExchange partners, like Marketo, Eloqua, LinkedIn and others. While Microsoft also has its’ partners, Salesforce.com’s still offers the enterprise app cloud development platform that shows more opportunities.

“I love advertising because I love lying.”

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In a normal world, when people get the CLIO award, they thank the whole world, their parents and sometimes God for achieving the honorary trophy. Not so Jerry Seinfeld in New York during the Advertising Week. Although the award is seen as the “world’s most recognized international awards competition for advertising, design, digital and communications,” Seinfeld plays the honor down for having been the longtime spokesman for American Express.

“I think spending your life trying to dupe innocent people out of hard-won earnings to buy useless, low-quality, misrepresented items and services is an excellent use of your energy.”

What an honest statement. What a harsh reality. What a burst of laughter. Don’t bite the hand that’s feeding you, someone like his clients might have said. However, he just let’s it all out and probably makes the whole celebration audience think for the first time in their lives.

Having moderated the dmexco conference some weeks ago, I have to admit that some people also asked, if I hadn’t been too honest when I mentioned that most of the digital advertising companies can be happy that venture capital and private investors exist, as otherwise 80% of the digital parties today would not happen.

Sometime, it is just good to keep the spirit of self-reflecting sarcasm up to drive the future business growth. So, have fun watching Jerry Seinfeld making almost everybody in the room laugh…

dmexco 2014 – Flashback in Quotes & Discussions

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dmexco 2014 Debate HallThe growth trend of the digital marketing show dmexco is impressive and continues to write a promising (hi)story.

Visitors: 31.900 – increase by 16% compared to 2013
Exhibitors: 807 – means over 65 exhibitors more than 2013
Speakers: 470 – as of various stages with new start-up village and work labs

This year I wanted to wait some days before I am writing my little review to see what really stayed in my mind, and what people were talking about after the event. This is what stayed in the brains of my friends – maybe it should reach you.

1. “dmexco is like the Lumascape brought to life.”
#Quote in Breaking Down Silos for Brands Panel
Damian Burns, Director of Global Strategic Partnerships, Google

2. “Nerd is the new black”
Brad Rencher, SVP & General Manager Digital Marketing, Adobe

3. “Online is the new offline.”
Quote by Joko Winterscheidt, TV-Moderator

4. “The play is to work out the first against the second screen.”
Quote in “Addressable TV – A Marketers’ Dream Panel”
Jim Clayton, Executive Vice President, HE New Business Division, LG Electronics

5. “The digital revolution is over, we are now in the digital evolution.”
Quote in Digital Revenue optimization 2.0 Panel
Sital Banerjee, Global Head of Media, Philips

6. “The brand in many ways need to take the back-seat. It can’t be all about the product if you move into the content section.”
Quote in “The Content Summit”
Jimmy Maymann, CEO, Huffington Post

7. “@ft presence at #DMexco so big they don’t even have a stand! They are on every phone and tablet! @dmexco @ftbized”
Quote from #FT rep/via Oliver Matthews

The three main takeaways from the event for me were…
a) Trend: dmexco stages are challenging global TV stages.
b) Topics: TV goes mobile. Digital is leading corporate strategy.
c) Town: Cologne needs more taxi drivers and/or UBER subscribers.

Really looking forward to moderate the next dmexco, 16th and 17th of September 2015.

CU there!

Study: Promoted tweets beat organic tweets by 160%

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Some research by the guys at Convertro gives valuable insights to marketers in terms of paid social media. Compared to other platforms, paid tweets are more successful than organic tweets. The study shows that promoted tweets converted better than twice to organic tweets. However, YouTube is best in introducing new products and supporting consumers purchase decisions.

The report analyzed some 500 million clicks and 15 million conversions during the first quarter of 2014. It tracked the performance of social purchase interactions via the Convertro’s attribution technology amongst their user base. The results show that promoted tweets converted at 3.9%. The unpaid tweets received only a 1.5% figure which makes a difference of 160% that paid tweets generate.

Convertro-AOL-Social-Network-Paid Media

The variance of results can not be seen on Facebook though were paid status updates got achieved 3.1% versus unpaid status updates of 3.0%. Even worse were the figures on Pinterest were paid posts converted with only 0.2% compared to moneyless posts which received 1.1%. So, Pinterest probably needs to rethink their advertising model when unpaid posts (over 80% more successful) do more for marketers than paid posts.

Spot On!
If it wasn’t Twitter, the questions for paid social media would probably even be higher. However, if we look at the overall figure, it is clear that paid posts increase conversion rates by almost 25% – at least according to the stats by Convertro. Maybe you have made your own tests and advertising campaigns with paid social media. If so, maybe let us know if your figures show similar results.

State of Marketing 2014 Report: Social Media and Video Ads up, Mobile down, Programmatic low at 1%

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Compared to some previous study, this years CMO Council’s “State of Marketing” (sponsored by NetBase and Infor) shows that confidence to be a trusted source for the C-level is back with marketers. The online study that asked 525 global marketers in the first quarter 2014 shows that 69% of senior marketers see themselves as a trusted, strategic member of the C-suite and/or are increasing their credibility with the main business decision makers inside their companies. Furthermore, 81% of senior marketers responded that they’re confident to meet management expectations and goals for top-line revenue growth and market share in the next 12 months.

“The level of confidence and optimism is very high. We are seeing the CMO role being elevated to a much larger degree.” Donovan Neale-May, Executive Director, CMO Council

From a budget perspective, the main areas of marketing spending growth for this year will be social advertising (71%), online video (71%), social engagement campaigns (69%), retargeting (67%) and search engine marketing (66%). However, mobile will go down in the attention of marketing spendings this year. Only 62% said they plan to increases and just 25% project increases of over 5% for 2014. 45% said they expect no change for mobile banners. The report makes no commments on reasons for this stagnating mobile budget growth. In general, 54% of marketers plan to increase their marketing budgets over the next 12 months, 27% will keep budgets stable. The most funding will go into new products and program launches (54%), corporate branding and identity building (53%), lead generation and qualification (50%), and customer retention and monetization (44%).

State of Marketing 2014 What tactics is most effective

When asked to identify where marketers will allocate marketing budget across

From an operational and process point of view 12% of the responding marketers said they will invest in product marketing, 12% said in strategy and branding, almost 7% in marketing and planning, 7% in sales and lead management, and 5% in market research, among other areas. It seems that programmatic buying has still not reached the marketing department. Only 1% sees programmatic advertising technology systems an interesting topic to invest in. Maybe they just do not have the right arguments for their C-Suite on programmatic yet.

The senior management expects from their CMOs over the next 12 months to drive top-line growth (56%), grow or retain market share (52%), better define the brand and value proposition (44%), and further customer insights and analytics (37%). As the leading areas of responsibility the marketers see for themselves strategic planning and forecasting (74%), branding (71%), digital (68%), budgeting and mix modeling (68%) and market research (67%). from a C-level perspective the marketers state that their main tasks from the business leaders are driving top-line growth (56%); growing or retaining market share (52%); better defining the brand and value proposition (44%); and furthering customer insights and analytics (37%).

Spot On!
The challenge for marketers as of the cloud technology evolution is to connect with other departments inside the company. Interesting to see from the report to which people marketers are reaching out these days for partnerships. The marketers responded that the CFO (58%), CIO (53%) and chief sales officer (51%) are their main three touchpoints inside the organization to form partnerships with.

State of Marketing 2014 Collaboration

The report also states that 55% of marketers want to hire in 2014. Their main focus of reecruiting people or getting knowledge will be on customer analytics (40%), social media (36%) and content development (27%). Interestingly enough, a trend that we also experience with our clients is that B2B marketers (60%) are very active finding new staff. Their main interest is in people on topics like customer analytics (33%), product marketing support (33%), content development (32%) and social media (32%).

“Stream me up, Scotty!” – Viacom study shows streaming is the new black

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Credit: © XtravaganT - Fotolia.com

Credit: © XtravaganT – Fotolia.com

Scotty’s world is gone. Today’s future is not “beam me up”, but “stream me up”. At least when it comes to listening to music. The Viacom music group, consisting of CMT, MTV and VH1, published some summary results which prove that teenagers and adults up to age 40 consume music in a streaming mode.

In a quantitative study with 1,200 respondents, which also included some qualitative secondary research and some new form of “blography” component, it made clear that streaming has become a mainstream behavior. Almost four out of five (78%) participants of the survey had streamed music in the past three months. The streaming habit on the way to purchase is most often (91%) a form of auditioning music before buying it – especially YouTube has an important role in this process.

The age group of 22-30 year olds is even more active than their older and younger counterparts. Streaming music has become a daily habit for them (63% do it daily). As the group sample was taken from their target audience, it might be a reason that this result is even higher than in usual user studies.

The young generation of “streamers” listens to radio as an important source of information to this group. However, the study credited broadcast and the Internet as sources of music discovery. Interestingly enough the study states that the act of listening seems to be passive. User do not seek to find their music, it basically comes to them. It could be a prove that the music industry has understood how to use big data to favor the music taste of their users.

Obviously, TV is another major discovery platform for this generation. 88% of respondents mentioned that they searched for songs on TV shows next to listening to them. This could become another important opportunity for track-identification mobile apps (like i.e. Shazam).

The path from discovery to purchase (which in this study can mean several things, including “streaming it incessantly”) is interestingly charted. The role of streaming in that path is often a form of auditioning music before buying, according to 91% of participants, who use YouTube for that purpose.

Spot On!
Not surprisingly, the respondents state that downloading music via P2P networks is not popular for them (60% see it as “risky” or “wrong”). Still, this does not mean that the idea is completely gone from their minds. Sharing music data with friends via DropBox or other sharing platforms is a common practice for music fans. However, if 81% of participants believe this is a support to bands they admire can be doubted. Maybe the music fans haven’t quite understood how their bands make money. It probably “beams up” the bands relevance and popularity more if 63% of fans follow artists on Facebook and share the bands’ news in their personal networks.

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