Riding The Bird Scooter Around San Diego

For weeks now, I’ve read articles blaming The Bird Scooter for everything from congested sidewalks to world hunger.

But last weekend I was down in San Diego where hundreds of thse things can be found along the Boardwalk in Pacific and Mission Beach.

The concept behind the scooter is simple. Like Car2Go, you download an app and look for a nearby scooter. When you see a scooter close to you, you walk to it, then “Unlock it” using a QR code. Then you ride it where you need and “Lock it” so someone else can use it. Locked scooters are almost impossible to roll anywhere and make a beeping noise that alerts that someone is trying to steal it.

The boardwalk along Pacific Beach and Mission Beach is pretty long. It could take you 40 minutes or more to walk from a bar to your hotel. But with The Bird, you just hop on, and cruise at a nice safe 8-12 MPH, cutting your time by about 66-75%. It costs $1.00 to start it and $0.15 a minute. So it’s roughly the cost of a short Uber ride, but way more fun.

After using it for a weekend, I think the haters in San Francisco are ridiculous. I was able to navigate the scooter through pedestrians, bikers, unicyclists, skateboarders, roller bladers, and other scooter riders. My only near accident was caused by a 5 year old on his non-motorized scooter who decided to come at me head on while in my lane. But it was easy for me to stop the scooter and dodge the kid at the last minute.

Also, you can ride remarkably slow and still keep your balance. In fact, you can literally slow to walking speed if you see someone you know and want to travel at their pace, or see a group of pedestrians going 5-wide and blocking the entire path.

The downside: Even on a small hill, I was pretty uncomfortable, and my repressed teenage memory of crashing into a tree while trying to ride a skateboard down a hill in Bellevue suddenly re-surfaced. So, I don’t know if I’d come down from 6th to 2nd downtown. But for getting around Wallingford, Greenlake or Capitol Hill, these things would be great.

Bikers will yell and scream that you should just ride a bike instead. But really, if you are going out to dinner, do you want to get sweaty riding a bike? No, a scooter is effortless. And a bike is actually much larger than The Bird. You take up way more room on a road or bike lane.

So, what I learned is that the scooter is an effective form of short-form travel in flat areas. I’d like to see it become more prevalent up here. Ignore what the haters in San Francisco say. If they are so worried about being a pedestrian and getting hit by a scooter, then they should jump on a scooter.

Content Hint of the Week - Powerpoint Slides Made Easy

I love graphic designers. You should hire them whenever you can.

But let's pretend for a second that you have a presentation due tomorrow. There's no way you can get a designer on board to help you. And you are at least savvy enough, not to bring a deck full of bullet points to a meeting or speech in 2016. What can you do? Well, here's a little trick we like to use. 

Q: What industry regularly mixes powerful visuals with headline text while talking over it with the rest of the story? 

A: The news industry

Great design is all around you. When you see something you like, even if it's on TV, take a picture of it and see if you can put your own style on it. And TV is a contained place to go find something you like.

If you're in a rush, do a simple Google Image search on TV shows you enjoy. I bet you'll find you have a surprisingly positive response towards its visual aesthetic. And I bet you can use it as a model to make your own design. 

Ask a Marketer: Video Marketing

In the last two segments of the “Ask a Marketer” series we covered Paid Search and Email Marketing. This week’s topic is Video Marketing, and we talk to Derek Merdinyanof Video Igniter.

Derek-Merdinyan-Video-Igniter-150x150.jpeg

Q1: Give me the 3 second pitch – Why should I spend money to add video into my marketing mix?
Video enables you to package up and present your message in a way that is educational, entertaining, engaging and easily sharable.

Q2: What are some examples of things I can explain better using video than if I just tried to write it in a blog or white paper?
Software, technology, systems, stories, anything that is complex and better explained through analogy. In almost every case, it is possible to explain things better with animated video instead of ‘filmed’ video because animations can be used to focus on the specific visual details that make it easier to understand new material.

Q3: What are some ways I can take the money I spend on video, and use it in other areas?
If you are speaking about animation specifically, be sure to ask your animator for a full project archive – odds are you can repurpose the visual images they created (i.e. characters, icons, charts, etc) and turn those images into image posts for social media.

Q4: How much should I expect to pay for a video? What’s the range and what determines that range?
If you go to a freelancer marketplace website, you can expect to pay $300 – $5,000 – the range varies by a few factors, notably the production quality, the number of revisions you can request, and the overall responsiveness, creativity and professionalism of the person you are working with. Hiring a full on animation studio can run you $5,000 – $50,000 or more. 2D projects tend to cost between $3,000 – $15,000/minute for visual quality you will be proud of. Quality 3D animations are easily going to be north of $15,000/minute.

Q5: A standard line is that on a project, there’s Cheap, Fast and Good, and you can only have 2 of the 3. Is that true for video as well?
100%.

Q6: Anything else we need to know about Video Marketing?
Most people think you just make a video, put it online, and promote it. Few people analyze and optimize their video – which for many companies is their largest marketing asset. When you first put your video online, you should host it with a service that provides you analytics to see what % of people click the thumbnail to play the video & how long people watch the video before they stop. Are only 10% of your landing page visitors clicking the play button? Maybe you need a better thumbnail for the video.  Do most people watch the whole video or are a large number of people dropping off around 14 seconds? If your video is animated, it’s much easier to revise and recreate part of your video to make it flow better for viewers; live action videos are harder and more expensive to optimize because it means bringing back the same film crew, actors and booking a location just to re-shoot an alternate segment. It would be wise, for both live action and animated marketing videos to create multiple alternate endings for your video to see which variation leads to more conversions (i.e. sign up here, call this #, download the app, join our newsletter, etc).

The New 4 C's of Marketing

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about marketing topics, and reading conflicting arguments on whether “Content Marketing” is dead. After listening to both sides of the debate, I think I’ve landed on the position that “Content Marketing” IS “Marketing” in 2016.

Everything from lead generation to sales tools are now dependent on a solid content strategy. So I put forth the new “4 C’s of Marketing.” Everything you do today needs the following attributes.

1) Consistent
In early meetings with clients, I like to advise them to look at the masters of content when coming up with their content development model. Sunday football games are always at 10:00am and 1:25pm Pacific time. Movies always come out on Fridays. Music always drops on Tuesdays. TV shows are scheduled for a certain day and time all season long. Magazines get delivered on the same day each week. Etc…. This is because the most experienced marketers of content in the history of the world know that people have rhythms and habits. They demand some predictability in return for their attention. They appreciate you providing them content, but they won’t search for it, or be happy if it doesn’t show up. Imagine waking up one Sunday morning in October, flipping to CBS or FOX, and finding the NFL got a little busy and moved all the games to Tuesday. It doesn’t work like that. Build an editorial calendar and figure out when you’ll be publishing in each channel.

2) Concise
You have A LOT to say. And it’s all VERY IMPORTANT. Now cut that down to 25%. I’ve become a believer in the 3-30-3 rule. You get 3 seconds to hook someone and earn another 30. In that 30 seconds, you need to pique their curiosity enough to earn their next 3 minutes. And in that 3 minutes, you’re giving them the pitch to earn their email address or whatever you are trying to get from them. But that message up front needs to get across quick.

3) Compelling
Yes, even your company has something interesting to say or a unique way to say it. You cannot just publish a recipe for Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches and expect an audience. Put on your creative hat and come up with something good. You have a lot of smart people in your org with even more interesting opinions. Find them.

4) Convertible
To the pessimist, the amount of channels in which you need to produce content is terrifying. To the opportunist, it’s a dream come true. All of your content should e specifically tailored to the channel, but it also should be easily transformed. One well-written, long form blog post can also be your email newsletter content, a Powerpoint presentation for Slideshare, a series of soundbites for Twitter, at least a few Facebook posts, a conversation for Blab, and a YouTube video.

Advertising Notes: How to Use Product Placement Effectively

Q: If you are a TV show on the bubble between renewal and cancellation, what's the best way to make the bosses happy? A: Make them more money. Undateable will never win an Emmy. It's niche is that in its 3rd season (and basically out of desperation due to being moved to the Friday night dustbin), it decided to shoot every episode live. The result is a hyped up Friday night live studio audience that contributes to a show that is part script / part improv. BUT... that doesn't necessarily mean it will be back for Season 4. So the show needs an extra revenue source on top of the normal :30 spots to secure its place in the Fall lineup. Enter Amazon, in what is one of the sneakiest product placement deals I can imagine. Remember, subliminal advertising is illegal. But subliminal product placement apparently is not. I counted about four different camera angles in two different scenes where the logo is visible. I'm going to estimate the logo got about 60-120 seconds of airtime. How much do you think that subliminal product placement is worth? More or less than a :30 spot? Can you spot it?
Undateable and Amazon 1 Undateable and Amazon 2 Undateable and Amazon 3 Undateable and Amazon 4 Undateable and Amazon 5

Bad Spam is Worse Than No Content At All

I'm a marketing guy, so I'm ok with targeted spam. I get it. Leads are hard to turn into prospects, I rarely get offended when people are tyring to maximize their email list.

In fact, if they have a robust email system that effectively and efficiently inserts my company's name into a generic email, that's fine too.

But the key word up there is, "relevant." Best described as, "opposite of relevant," this email doesn't make any sense at all.

The company sent this email to a University of Washington address I keep, which I sometimes use to test out new products.

vindicia

"Subscription companies like University of Washington have a common issue, churn due to failed credit card transactions. Most of the time these failures happen at no fault of your customer."

Well I had no idea. Thank goodness someone finally figured out the issue plaguing universities across the country - the students are churning out due to bad credit cards. I thought it was a decrease in state spending, an excessive amount of tenured professors or a drop in donations. Turns out it's the credit cards. Who knew?!

It's too bad I don't know the person at the UW who is in charge of keeping all the parents' credit cards on file. Seems like we could solve some real problems.

Moral of the story: Be smart with your email plan. Nothing is worse than bad spam.

Addendum:For example, here's some spam that actually could be relevant.

ForClass

This Week, I'll Join the Turbine Agency on Blab

Well this should be a lot of fun. Wednesday I’ll be joining Dominic Canterbury, President of the Turbine Agency, for a discussion on B2B Marketing and how to reach new markets. We’ll be having our conversation via Blab.it, one of the new forums in which people can discuss topics and have a great dialogue with the audience.

We’ll be kicking off the conversation at 11am PDT at this link. I’d love for you to log in and throw out some questions. Plus, I’d love to hear what you think of Blab.

Join Me at the Seattle Interactive Conference

Over the last few years, I’ve had a few amazing chances to get in front of a large audience and either speak on, or moderate panels full of smart people. In about two weeks, I’ll get the opportunity to moderate a panel at one of my favorite events – the Seattle Interactive Conference.

The panel is focused on the changing role of online advertising. Here’s the description:

Game of Screens: The Rise of Multi-Screen Marketing
The rapid evolution of consumer behavior as it relates to their media consumption has rendered many of advertising’s traditional targeting and measurement metrics difficult or obsolete. So how do you accurately measure results when Device proliferation is making even basic reach and frequency management nearly impossible? How can you balance the new expectations amongst consumers that messaging to them should always be relevant and timely? And what are some recent technology advancements in targeting and measurement to help address some of these challenges? In this panel, executives from Choicestream, GoDaddy, Logitech and Sharethrough will share their experience and expertise in delivering successful behavior-driven marketing to consumers who live on multiple screens.

The panel will be on Nov 3 at 11:00am. If you’re attending the event, please come on by and check out our session. And if you have questions you want answered, shoot me an email and I’ll add them into the queue.