Posts Tagged ‘Mission Veritas’

Marketing in Code

December 7, 2011

Did you have a top-secret decoder ring as a kid?  One of those pens that wrote in invisible ink?  Have a special handshake required to enter the neighborhood clubhouse?

QR codes are the 2011 version of secret messages and savvy businesses are using them in all sorts of clever ways to communicate with their customers.  You’ve likely seen them all sorts of places but may not have noticed…but you will after reading this!

Here is the QR code I generated to take you to my business page on Facebook.  Use the QR code reader on your smart phone and try it.

So why use a fancy QR code rather than just give you the web address of my Facebook business page?  Have you tried typing in a long address into your smart phone?  Did you end up with typos?  How many times did you scribble down a web address or info you meant to look up later and then never got around to it?

Generate your own with your contact information and print it on the back of your business cards or use it in a large printed format at trade shows.

QR stands for “Quick Response” and it allows you to communicate information to customers and potential customers quickly, easily and accurately!  Here’s the link I used to generate my QR code and yes, it’s FREE and super easy to use!

Other innovative ways I’ve recently seen them used:  A Korean subway platform has a wall mural of grocery items.  Commuters scan their “purchases” and they are delivered to their home.

My husband, John Murphy, just finished a Science Fiction novel , “Mission Veritas” to be published as an ebook.   On the back cover, as well as at the end of several chapters, there is a QR code.  The code takes the reader to “bonus content” not unlike the bonus material provided with most DVDs you purchase.

The codes and bonus content take this from just a SciFi novel to more of a game and engages the reader.

While in Best Buy last week, I was browsing the row of DVDs for sale.  There I noticed a few random DVDs with after-market stickers on the front with QR codes saying “Scan the code, Watch the Trailer”.

Yes, codes essentially are embedded web addresses so whatever is on the page it takes them to is what they see, a video, a photo, a coupon or special offer – whatever you can put on a webpage – you can use a QR code to allow customers to access.

Then I noticed something even MORE INTERESTING.  There were a LOT of movies I had never heard of and they were MORE MONEY than the blockbusters but they were the ones with the QR code stickers!  What better way to sell a movie?  I scanned the QR codes and watched trailers right there in the store aisle on my phone and yes, it encouraged me to actually buy a movie I had never heard of and would not have given a second glance to at any price without the intrigue of the QR code.

At lunch at BJ’s restaurant, I noticed the Heinz 57 ketchup bottle had a special label.  The front of the distinctive bottle says “Our turn to serve” and the back explains the program and offers a QR code.  Heinz has partnered with the USO to send digital cards to service members AND when you use the QR code (which takes you to their Facebook page) and “Like” them, they donate .57 to the Wounded Warrior Project.

Start looking more closely as you go about your daily life and you will no doubt begin to notice QR codes lots of places.  Get a QR code reader (free app) on your smart phone and start scanning.  See what other companies – large and small – are doing with these codes and then generate your own.

Sure, some of your customers won’t know what they are, others may not even notice, but to the tech savvy and younger customer, it’s the language of the future and you need to learn to speak the code!

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Cash Isn’t Always King

March 11, 2011

What do you think motivates employees? If your first answer was money, you are not alone.  It’s a common – but incorrect – response.  The primary motivation of people is recognition – not money.

Motivating employees without money is one of the topics I speak on regularly.  It’s also a major focus in my book “Common Things Uncommon Ways”.  As a result, when my husband, John Murphy was at a trade show in Chicago this week and learned about the Motivation Show, he emailed me the link.

Why would companies like Starwood, Honey Baked Foods, Wilson Sporting Goods, Vera Bradley and Sharp Electronics be exhibitors at the Motivation Show?  Because items like hotel getaways, a Honey Baked ham for Easter, new golf clubs, a designer laptop case or the latest electronic gadget all make great employee incentives.

Employees may think they are working for a paycheck, but in reality, they are working to improve their quality of life.  If you, as an employer, can offer other ways to provide an improved quality of life, that is usually more valuable than money.

Experiences and gifts, particularly those shared with loved ones, are remembered while cash is quickly spent and forgotten.  As families watch their budgets more carefully than ever, experiences from a dinner out to a family movie night to a weekend getaway become even more precious.

Tangible items such as golf clubs, a colorful laptop case or an electronic gadget serve as reminders of the recognition they represent each time they are earned.  Suddenly the below par game becomes the result of the new clubs the company gave you and the company gets some of the credit in the bragging on Monday morning.

If you want to learn more about engaging your employees, your customer and even your vendors to improve your bottom line, check out the Motivation Show.  All types of companies from Abbott Laboratories to Allstate Insurance to S & C Electric Company to Southwest Airlines to Target are already registered to attend.  What about you?

Effective motivation is about tying rewards to results.    Understanding motivation and making it an integral part of your business plan makes bottom line sense for your business.

Google Yourself Today…and Often

February 23, 2011

Have you “Googled” your name and the name of your business lately? Years ago, when Google was just getting popular and I was busy building and running Sleep Country USA, Robert Olsen, a lifelong friend did an internet search for my name and it came back with over a million hits! He called me to tell me which prompted me to do my own search just to confirm it.  He was right!

It wasn’t just the number that shocked me; it was the variety of sources, comments and mentions there were – and that was just for my name, not even my business name!

The search as I sat down to compose this blog yielded slightly over 180,000 hits and most of them relate to the projects I am currently involved in; my book and speaking events.  However, there are still plenty of mentions of me connected to the business I founded in 1990 and sold in 2000 – yes, over a decade ago!

The point is, the internet is a wonderful tool but it is also a huge repository for all sorts of information – some accurate, some not.  Some flattering, some not. As a business person you cannot afford to be unaware of what others see when they Google your name and/or the name of your business.  Be sure to Google common misspellings!

Even if you don’t own a business, as an employee, your personal reputation is influenced by the reputation of the company where you work so you need to know what is being said out in the marketplace.

This information can influence future customers, employers, landlords, business associates or even friends!

My husband, John Murphy and I host dinner parties in our home every month and have done so for years.  Last month I was running late and did not get out the usual mailed invitations so I did an “evite instead.  Using the evite list, EVERY person in attendance had done both a Google and Facebook search of every other guest.

 

Do an internet search on yourself and your business today, then make a note on your calendar to do it again every 3 months. When you find erroneous information, contact the source and ask for them to correct it or at least comment back in reply if there is an option.

If you find a lot of unrelated information, particularly negative information on someone with a similar name, you may want to help others find the right search words to locate you.  Something like “Now if you search the internet for my business, be sure to include XYZ in quotes or you will find a lot of unrelated data on a business with a similar name in Florida”.   This can help you not get tarred with someone else’s bad reputation.

Is monitoring your reputation on the web time-consuming?  Not really.  If you feel it is, you can always utilize a web service such as Reputation Defender.  Is it really important?  Absolutely!  All you have in this world really is your good name!

Protecting Your Brand

February 11, 2011

Sunny Kobe Cook is a registered trademark.  That may seem “odd” for a person’s name, but while owner and advertising spokesperson for the company I founded, Sleep Country USA, the line between my personal name and “the brand” became blurred.  When other businesses began to encroach on what was my legal name, I registered it as a trademark.

This week, my husband, independent film maker John Murphy, submitted his latest script for “Mission Veritas” to the US Copyright office before sending it off to the script review service he is using.  The on-line process only cost $35 – a small price to pay to protect your creative work.

Clare Barboza is an extraordinary photographer.  Her work is featured in 3 fabulous cookbooks and even a couple of major newspapers.  You wouldn’t necessarily know the ones in the major newspapers (the same 2 shown here with her blessing)) were hers because she received NO PHOTO CREDIT.

Certainly listing the photographer’s name is a small price for a FREE photo, especially if you are the Wall Street Journal, a publication aimed at the business community.  As a subscriber to this reknown newspaper, I’m sadly disappointed they not only dropped the ball on this one, but have failed to correct the error or even apologize.

It was Clare’s Facebook post expressing her distress over the situation and the slew of outraged comments which prompted this blog.   I realized her situation is far from unique.  Many small business people and artists have their ideas, work, products and brands copied or stolen.  Often they don’t know how to protect themselves.

There are some things you can do yourself and at low cost.   Many State and U.S. Government trademark and copyright registrations are available on line.  Other web services such as LegalZoom have streamlined the process for everything from incorporation to trademark and patent applications.

Other times, you need a law firm. A firm such as Perkins Coie who have a speciality in trademarks can often protect your brand with a sternly worded letter to an infringer.  Just as there are advantages in going to a medical specialist because of the depth of their expertise, the same is true with lawyers.  A firm specializing in trademarks and copyrights may charge more per hour than your family attorney, but it will take  fewer hours and likely yield better results because they do this type of work every day.

I’m not one to run to an attorney for everything but big firms don’t hesitate to protect their brands.  A recent story in Special Events, a trade publication recounts an event coordinator who was threated with a lawsuit by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (Oscar) over some statues used at an event.  Her legal bills exceeded $2000!

An internet search will uncover examples of Walt Disney Company threatening daycare centers who used the likeness of Mickey and countless other examples of BIG companies aggressively protecting their brands.

Why would they?  Why should you? Because the law requires you actively protect your brand in order to maintain your rights.  It is your brand – why would you NOT protect it?


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