Thursday, October 29, 2009

Francomedia Becomes Platinum Sponsor of CCAT

Francomedia signed a deal with the Calgary Council for Advanced Technology (CCAT) to become a Platinum Sponsor, the highest level of sponsorship at CCAT.

CCAT was Founded in 1983 to provide networking events to enhance and promote technology awareness and business development for the advanced technology community in Calgary. CCAT hosts a number of events each year with guest speakers from a variety of industries and technology companies.

Francomedia is proud to be a sponsor, it's a good fit with the creative work we do - pushing the boudaries of what's possible is a big part of what we like to do for clients. Having access to such a talented and highly skilled technology group should open the doors to some very creative projects.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What are we gonna do with Windows 7?

Tonight, we took part in the Calgary Council for Advanced Technology's event featuring Dell's very own, Jeff Hamlin, Director of Marketing for Medium Business in the United States

We got to hear Jeff’s presentation entitled, Dell’s New DNA: Intertwining Technology Trends and Marketing to Better Address Customer Pain Points.

Mr. Hamlin shared some of the new technology trends (that they can speak publicly about) that they are keeping their eye on, participating in and/or pushing forward.

Notably, there were two topics that I was keenly interested in personally; cloud computing and virtualization.

From a web development standpoint there is so much by way of possibilities with online application development and operating from the cloud that it boggles the mind for anyone that understands it. It's hard to explain to some users and even harder for older users to wrap their heads around the security of it all. But, the change is gonna come. And, it's gonna be awesome... as long as the internets don't get full.


To the client: We call them smart sites, they do smart things and save you time and money.

To the developers: Ok, we're gonna add some fun to the back end....

Virtualization is just simply cool. One of our customers in particular is beginning to promote this with some vigor, they are called the Iteam and they service mid-sized companies with IT support services. Moving to this model can greatly decrease costs on hardware and makes updating software super easy and fast... how many big companies are still running Microsoft Internet Explorer version 6 just because it's a pain to install the new, free browser on 1500 desktops and laptops? This fixes that.

Virtualization doesn't really impact my business the way that cloud computing does, but it's still really cool and it makes so much sense... I just wonder what a huge decrease in the amount of hard drives, RAM and other components will do to the supply chain as far as further innovation on those product lines is concerned, time will tell.

So, to Mr. Hamlin from Dell. Thank you for your words tonight, and more importantly, thank you for the copy of Windows 7 that I won - our developers are looking forward to putting it through the paces in testing the apps we've put onto the cloud.

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Brand Experience - Second Contact

Before we go too far and you start wondering if every customer experience follows this first contact, second contact philosophy.... they don't. Not all experiences are the same, some sales happen on first contact, second contact, third, forth, fifth etc., for the purpose of this series, I am prolonging the customer experience to table as many ideas as possible. Besides, you really should be looking at brand experiences as an on-going process anyways. Every interaction with a customer is an opportunity to reinforce your brand and keep it top of mind for your happy customer to introduce your brand to another person. The brand experience then becomes the customer experience and vice versa.

A memorable or successful brand or customer experience is the result of many conscious actions and is deliberate and planned in every way. My hope is that staging the ideas at different contacts shows some method to how various elements combined heighten the experience rather than just providing you with a list of things that can be done with no rationale, explanation or examples.

Second Contact

A consumers second contact with a brand verifies or confirms their assumptions or changes their perception of the brand. Either way, at this stage (and every stage) you win them or lose them - remember, often times, they are still not a customer, they are still evaluating your brand. They are interested, but not sold... yet.

So, a consumer experienced you for the first time by seeing your brand on the side of a bus, or maybe online in a Facebook posting and was intrigued enough to search out more information. The second contact can be physical, like in the visit to your store's retail location or it can be online - second contacts can be as varied as first contacts. Some of the things that are important at this stage is building relevancy with the consumer, earning their trust and meeting their expectations on a brand essence level.

Make sure your brand is relevant. Relevancy to the consumer involves strategy and an in-depth understanding of the market you serve. Not all brands are relevant to all consumers. Obviously, if you are a grocery store you want to be relevant and appeal to numerous demographics as everyone needs to eat. But, if you are a specialized running shoe manufacturer, you may only want to appeal to a certain segment of the market. A brand that is highly specialized that tries to appeal to broadly runs the risk of losing the very core audience that sustains the brand. Positioning your brand to the right audience and staying true to your brand and the expectations of that audience is what makes your brand relevant.

Earning brand trust. Legitimate, professional, credible and established are words that come forward when describing a powerful brand image. The brand image is more than just a logo or word mark, it's the overall look and feel of how those elements are used along with other graphic elements in a brochure, a vehicle graphic, a billboard, a magazine ad, a retail display, POS, retail location or a web site. Photography, design, colour, space and verbiage all work in concert to deliver the core message, values and essence of a brand. Think about a retail chain like The Gap - their logo is simple, their signage in-store is simple, their store layout is roomy and simple - they reek of simplicity. The Gap was founded on a simple idea, 'to make it easier to find a pair of jeans'. This simple idea was the basis for their entire brand essence and being true to this idea has fueled their growth to an international level. Simplicity is not a new concept, but few pull it off with great success the way The Gap has (Apple has also been wildly successful in taking their 'simple' brand into a retail environment) . The brand essence of the Gap was not created by happenstance, great effort was made to ensure that everything they did outwardly and with the consumer is simple, efficient and uncomplicated - this is through policy, design and awareness of their brand expectations.

Ensure your brand meets the expectations. The best way to meet expectations is to walk the walk and talk the talk. Be true to your brand; your outgoing messaging should be fluent and consistent throughout everything you do - if you walk like a duck and talk like a duck, consumers better hear you quack (never mind your purple cow theory for now, the fact that your a duck got people interested for this exercise, OK). Expectations are everything, as they are the basis of judgement on your brand and for the most part you get to set them. Your outward promotions and advertising should be setting the expectations of what customers will experience.

While you as a brand owner set the expectations in most cases, there are instances where expectations are the result of outside influences. In the case of Nordstrom, which we mentioned in the first part of this series, urban legends about their service grew on a grassroots level and while some of these legends may be based in fact, they can be skewed out of proportion slightly by each person as the story gets told, like playing telephone as a kid - the last one hearing the message gets a different version of the original tale. Exaggerated expectations can be hard to meet, but keeping tabs on your brand online will help to identify these trends and allow you to deal with them as they come up.

If you are true to your brand, earn consumer trust and meet the expectations of the consumer, you may be ready for a transaction with them - time for them to become a customer, not just a consumer.

If this second contact is happening on your web site, a sale could be made instantly if you are set up to do so. If not, the second contact could have given the consumer enough confidence in your brand to visit your retail location or to go to your web site and investigate further, thus initiating the third contact.

Bottomline: Remember Caddyshack? ... be the ball? Well the same goes for your brand. Be the brand. This applies to it's look, feel and overall essence. If you are true to the brand in every decision you make, you will ensure the consistency that makes a brand trust-worthy and relevant your desired audience. The third contact we will talk about service... I promise.

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