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Lindsey Davis

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4 Fun Ways to Learn about Consumers

Without consumers, brands fail.  Nothing is more valuable to a brand than someone who financially supports them then spreads the word for free. To develop effective messaging, it is imperative to understand who the brand's customers are, and what they want. Here are 4 fun methods that anyone can use to learn about and better understand consumers: Find them on social media.  This is the quickest and easiest way to learn about your consumer.  What are they posting pictures of?  Who are they talking to? What are they talking about?  Take note of the language and tone they use, and how they describe and represent themselves. Read a magazine.  No really.  Go to the store, and pick up a magazine that the brand's target demographic reads.  Before you open the cover, take a second to clear your mind.  Pretend that you're an 18-year-old college freshman, or a golf enthusiast, or whomever your consumer is.  Then, read what they read.  Check out the pictures. Flip through the articles. Look over the ads.  This will help you better understand what they care about and how different brands capture their attention. Watch TV or a movie.  Though choosing an entertaining TV show or film is good choice, a documentary about the consumer is an even better one.  If you go the entertainment route, as with the magazine exercise, you'll want to clear your head and pretend you're the consumer before you begin. Attend an event.  Whether it's a Taylor Swift concert or hanging around their favorite store, going to an event or environment that your consumer enjoys is one of the best ways to submerge yourself in their world.  When you're there, immerse yourself in their experience. Eat what they eat and drink what they drink. Strike up a conversation with the consumer and learn more about them.  Take note of the event sponsors and their involvement. Any of these four activities will give you a glimpse into your consumer's world, and help you think of them as more than just consumers but as people.   While these activities may not tell you more about purchase cycle, it will tell you about what entertains and excites them.  Understanding these passion points will enable your brand to open up a deeper relationship with these individuals.

Marketing Buzzwords: Good and Bad Usage

Big data, ROI, content marketing, thought leaders, low hanging fruit. In the ever-evolving world of marketing, it can be impossible to steer clear of the eye-roll inducing buzzword. Buzzwords are written or spoken words that are technical in nature and have become popular to use, therefore are used very frequently in their nascence. For many, these words are cringe-inducing, but they are important to be mindful of, as they represent evolution of thought. Like all new words, some will live for only a short while and provide little utility (remember 'next gen?'), but others will go on to reshape an entire industry (we will never forget 'high engagement'). Buzzwords can be used in both good and bad ways, but ultimately it is important to be mindful of their purpose and possibility. Bad Buzzword Use 'To show our client that we are thought leaders, let's think out of the box and bring some gamifacation into the mix by creating an immersive and edgy experience for our consumer.'? Bad buzzword use occurs when imparted simply to impress. Use in this way tends to not impress anyone at all as everyone has access to the same industry resources that spread these words. While bad use does show awareness of the field, it does not provide utility in the conversation. Conversation is meant to be a collaborative process. When it is ambiguous, it fails. Good Buzzword Use 'Our client has expressed interest in ROI measurement. Here is an example of how I envision this coming to life and providing value to our client.'? Good buzzword use occurs when affording ground for action. When discussing ways in which a buzz worthy topic can be useful for your clients, this is good use. If something unique is contributed, such as a relevant new tactic or deliverable, it displays boldness and creativity. Being able to align and excite a team around a plan, or having actionable results around those buzzwords communicates leadership. It is important to be cognizant of how buzzwords are being used. If bad buzzword use is taking place, consider how the conversation can be navigated to good use. Good use helps everyone involved become smarter, see opportunities before anyone else, and solve problems before they exist.

iPhone5: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

For the first time in recent history, the American public has become disenchanted with Apple. Despite reported record-breaking sales, the new Apple product has come out to an overwhelmingly negative reception by non-loyalists. One of the major issues is that consumers are accustomed to Apple products that boast new and exciting features and innovations. Unfortunately, Apple's latest creation has solved problems that consumers weren't asking to be fixed. It also boasts incremental changes, rather than the radical new developments that consumers have expected for the past two years. The iPhone 5 invented problems to solve. No one complained that the iPhone 4S was too heavy, that the screen was too short, the casing too wide, or the screen too blurry. Yet these are the major changes that Apple made. It boasts a new reversible connector dubbed the 'lightning,' that is incompatible with the millions of accessories that are currently on the market, including those in cars such as BMW and Mini. Another 'brag worthy' feature is the LTE network - networks already have trouble supporting 3S speeds, so LTE seems more like an empty promise than a functional upgrade. The most apparent misstep is the replacement of Google Maps with Apple's default travel tool, which boasts missing locations, inaccurate information and inferior visual displays. Perhaps rather than inventing problems to fix, and in some cases making problems worse, Apple should have spent a little more time listening to what consumers wanted in their newest upgrade. Even after upgrading the iPhone 5 to be 20% lighter, 18% thinner, and with a longer screen than its predecessor, it appears as though not much has been changed for the better. People expect innovation from Apple. They do not want the incremental improvements they've seen over the past couple of years, they want radical changes. Unfortunately, what they've been given is roughly the same product since 2007. All iterations of the iPhone have been about the same size with essentially the same interface, yet loyalists keep shelling out a premium to upgrade year over year. Apple's history of innovation and sleek, stylish designs has created a loyal fan base, which is still turning up to buy all their latest updates. Luckily for Apple, loyalists do not care that the new iPhone solves problems that never existed. They do not care that they now have to buy new connectors, adapters and accessories due to the new connector. They do not mind that this latest product is not revolutionary. But everyone else does. Non-loyalists are well aware that the iPhone is being beat by its competition, and that Apple, once known for industry advancements is falling further and further away from that reputation. Perhaps it's only a matter of time before we come to the end of the Apple era.    

Reaching Teens through Social Media

'If you are not online, you are completely out of the loop ' you don't have a life, you don't really exist,'? is how one thirteen-year-old describes the importance of being online. For teens, it seems as if online is the new real world. Teens spend an average of 31 hours per week online and much of that time devoted to social networking. To get a better understanding of their social media usage, AMP conducted an online survey of 114 teens, ages 12 to 18. We found that social media consumes most aspects of teenagers' lives with no signs of stopping. In fact, 62% of teens report using Facebook more often this year than they had last year. This may be due to the fact that many consider social media to be more real than their real lives. For brands to have the greatest impact with teens on social media, they must cater to teens' online behavior. Where Teens Are Our findings uncover behaviors that brands can leverage to reach teens in this space. Facebook is by far the most often used social network with 91% of teens having an account. Furthermore, 86% of teens report that they like to get information about brands on Facebook. Youtube is the next most preferred site with 71% having an account, and 31% looking for brand interaction. Twitter follows in a close third with 50% having an account, and 25% wanting to tweet with brands. Brands should focus on communicating with teens on Facebook but also consider reaching teens on Twitter and YouTube, depending on which channel is most appropriate for their objectives. When Teens Are Online Between classes, sports, and part time jobs, teenagers lead busy lives. So, when should brands connect with teens? The sweet spot is between 2pm and 8pm. 79% of teens report that they typically are online after school, and 68% are online before bed. Although many teens log on in the morning (41%) and between classes (31%), speaking with them after school will allow for a more in-depth, meaningful interaction. What Teens Want from Brands To optimize interaction with teens, brands need to consider who teens are and what they want. It is important for brands to understand that teenagers "want a genuine experience, they want to be heard and recognized by the brand.'? For brands, this data suggests brands should not just continuously self promote. They should converse with teens, especially encouraging teens to include the brand's products in teenagers' status updates and pictures, as 63% of teens say posting status updates and pictures the main activity they do do on social media. It also allows brands to reach teens' online networks. 40% of teens have more than 300 Facebook friends, and 30% have more than 100 Twitter followers. So, these posts can be seen by a great number of other teens. When your brand is trying to reach the largest audience possible, it can be difficult to resist posting too much. The likelihood of being un'followed' or un'liked' is relatively low as 90% of teens have never un'followed' on Twitter, and 60% of teens have never un'liked' a brand on Facebook. However, it is important to build a positive relationship with teens, so try not to post too often. No matter how interesting the content, frequent posts come off as spam. 38% of teens consider it an annoyance to clog up their Facebook news feed, and 60% cited over-tweeting as a reason to un'follow' brands. Teens report that they do want to hear from brands about new products, coupons, promotions, and giveaways - just not six times in one day. Brands that understand where, when, and what to post will have the greatest impact on teens through social media.

A Festival of Opportunity

It's 2:00 AM, and the night has just begun. I am in the middle of a packed crowd, waiting for Deadmau5 to take the stage. Despite the 90 degree heat, I see only smiles, peace, and happiness. The crowd is buzzing with excitement and literally glowing thanks to thousands of glow sticks and LED toys. Looking back on my weekend thus far, I can't believe How many times I've been told 'I love you' by complete strangers All of the new delicious food and beer I've sampled The talent and variety of artists that I've been able to jam to' Jay-Z, Stevie Wonder, The Dead Weather, Mumford and Sons, Kings of Leon, Damien Marley, to name a few ' and I still have another full day of music to go! Needless to say, after my first music festival, I was hooked. Instead of succumbing to sleep after a near-sleepless weekend and a 16-hour drive home, I collapsed on my couch, laptop in hand, determined to find my next fest. Much to my dismay, there was a serious lack of centralized information on these events. To make matters worse, the little information that is out there tends to be hard to find, outdated, and unreliable. After discussing these frustrations with my web developer boyfriend, Steve, we decided to solve the problem ourselves. We created the site: festobsessed.com to make it easier to find reliable festival information and advice. Our site features an event map and calendar, blog, and forum for sharing pictures and ideas. Despite the wild popularity of music festivals, the online community is undeveloped, which poses ample opportunity for brands. In addition to a strong online presence, the festival scene is also lacking in another area ' vending. Festival goers consider the weekend to be a vacation and spend accordingly. After all, 'wasting money puts you in a real party mood,'? as Andy Warhol so insightfully proclaimed. Most people go with plenty of cash in their pockets and are looking to empty them on new, unique items. I have left several festivals disappointed in the lack of shopping that I had accomplished, due to lack of vendors, lack of variety, and shops running out of merchandise. However, not every brand will be welcomed with open arms. Do not plan on only putting up banners and signs and expect positive feedback. For the best results, tailor your presence to us. Have your brand provide art installations, an air-conditioned lounge, or another amenity that meets our needs. Keep in mind that the community as a whole is young (18-28), artsy, environmentally conscious, fit, healthy, passionate, and open-minded. Patrons hope to leave with memories of great music, interesting people, and new experiences. Any way in which our experience is enhanced will be appreciated and remembered. The music festival scene is an under tapped market in terms of online resources, vending, and festival-specific marketing. It is hard to even estimate the scope of opportunity considering the high attendance rates (in total, millions of young adults), number of events (more than 300 in the U.S.), and media coverage, especially for big events like Coachella or Lollapalooza. By associating your brand with our favorite weekend of the year, you will be cementing your products in some of our most beloved pictures, videos, memories, and shopping bags.

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