Reaching SMBs Through SMB Communities

It’s a well-established fact that social media is every bit as – if not more – influential for business decision-makers (B2B) as it is for consumers (B2C); Forrester clients can read more here. And SMBs are the most prolific of all business-size segments in utilizing social media and online communities to inform their technology purchase decisions. So where are SMBs turning to for that information? Where can you check the pulse of SMBs’ thinking?

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The Data Digest: Which Music Devices Do People Use?

The sheer number and types of devices on which people can listen to music have expanded enormously in the past few years. How has that affected people's music consumption? Our Technographics survey data shows that the car stereo is the most popular device on which to listen to music, followed by the home stereo and the PC. About one-third of US adults regularly listen to music on a MP3 player, and 8% listen on their cell phones.

Even though music functionality on phones has been around for about six years, only iPhone owners have adopted it in a significant way. What keeps consumers from adopting new music offerings? A recent Forrester report called "Which Device Offers The Best Music Experience?" uses Forrester's Convenience Quotient (CQ) methodology to assess a sample of devices to evaluate consumer experiences. This analysis shows that every device currently available leaves consumers with a wish list of features and improvements: challenges with installation and setup, an inability to share music, a broken link between music and video, or a lack of logic in the navigation. The tradeoff for consumers is simple: They only adopt something new when the benefits are bigger than the barriers.

United Airlines - Crawling Forward Into The Era Of Modern Mobile With A Unique Approach

About four or five months ago, I was on a United flight bound to the east coast from San Francisco. For reasons I don't remember, I had booked the ticket on Orbitz (I usually book directly so my records, receipts, etc. are all in my profile). Am boarded. Am sitting in a middle seat. Sigh. "Ping" goes my phone. I receive an alert that our flight has been delayed 20 minutes. I open my bag and pull out a salad. The two gentlemen in between whom I am squeezed look at me oddly and exchange glances as they expect the doors to close and the plane to back away from the gate. Salad finished. "Ping" goes my phone again. There is a maintenance issue with the plane. The "equipment" is being changed and we are being moved one gate over. I begin packing up my things, remove my seat belt and give the guy on the aisle my look that says, "are you moving or what?" He says to me, "where are you going?" I say, "equipment + gate change." He says, "how do you know?" I say, "SMS alert from Orbitz." He says, "What is an Orbitz?" More puzzled looks are exhanged. (Do I really want to explain a text alert in the year 2010 to someone who doesn't know what Orbitz is?) Several minutes later there is an announcement from the flight attendant with the same information, and everyone gets up to move. Now my fellow passengers are more intrigued. A third party is more efficiently delivering information to United's passengers than United is to their agents or customers directly.

I don't know how many times I've seen this poster in a United Airlines jetway and wondered, "Is this recent? or 20 years old? Do a lot of doctors fly? Is that why they advertise pagers?"

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Amazon Shows How To Protect Your Brand While Connecting To Facebook

As you probably know, Facebook and Amazon are allowing consumers to connect the two sites.  What I find most interesting is the care Amazon is taking to inform consumers what this will mean to them and why they should do it.  Given Facebook’s repeated stumbles on issues of consumer privacy, the approach being taken by Amazon is one every marketer should note and consider. What’s important about Amazon’s approach is that it's not simply leaving the communication of important information to Facebook. 

CNN, for example, lets Facebook do the talking. Below is Facebook’s standard "Request for Permission" page, which is the message consumers receive when they click the button to connect CNN with their Facebook profile.  What does it tell users?  CNN can "access my basic information," but what will they do with it?  Will they share or sell it further?  Will it be made available to marketers or other users?  Will my list of friends -- one of the items mentioned in the list of basic information that will be shared -- receive information from CNN as a result of my actions?  And what information will CNN send to Facebook -- every page I visit or only the ones I "like"?   

CNN Facebook Permission page

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Q&Agency: Teehan+Lax

Welcome to Q&Agency! Each week, I talk to agencies small and large and get to hear (in their words) what differentiates them and the experiences they create. To help bring some of that information to you, I'm showcasing an ongoing series of interviews with small to midsize interactive and design agencies. If you'd like to see your agency or an agency you work with here, let me know!

On July 21st (after a hiatus and relocating to California), I talked with Jon Lax, a partner at Teehan+Lax. Edited excerps from that conversation follow.

Forrester: Tell me a little bit about Teehan+Lax?

Jon: We were founded in 2002 in Toronto in the deepest, darkest part of the dotcom bust. Geoff Teehan and I were at Modem Media and they had just decided to get out of the Canadian marketplace and focus more exclusively on the US market. When we were left out of work, we began looking for companies that understood what was going on in the industry at the time and we just couldn’t find any. Some of the former Modem clients and Modem Media in Conneticut were interested in continuing to work with us so we decided to start a company that was an alternative to what we had come from – a large ad agency.

At the time, there were a bunch of people circling around similar ideas. We were inspired by the thinking of Tim O’Reilly, Jason Fried of 37 Signals, and Adaptive Path about what we called user experience. So we decided to start a firm that could define and design customer experiences in the digital channel. Define and design is most important part of that phrase. We’re not technology developers. We don’t have to do everything to do anything. A lot of our clients were separating technology from user experience projects so they didn’t need us to do that.

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A New Analyst "On Display" at Forrester

I’ve spent the last 10 years, on and off, representing the buy side of the display marketing equation.  For many years I held the post of Media Supervisor at digital marketing leader Razorfish, managing the display efforts for a Fortune 500 financial services brand.  I co-founded, and successfully ramped, the “agency trading desk”, ATOM Systems, for my agency.  And I worked within Publicis Groupe’s VivaKi Nerve Center as an educator and advocate for the in-house audience buying solution, Audience on Demand, as AOD’s head of Brand Relations. 

Never did I really get a chance to take a step back and contemplate the big picture – What are publishers struggling with in this rapidly changing ecosystem?  How do the different point solutions (many of them technology based, these days) fit together… or not? What are the challenges that digital marketers are facing in their (often uphill) battle to grow digital’s share of spend, and what are some solutions?  Taking off my buy-side hat and taking a step back, as the newest member of Forrester’s Interactive Marketing group, offers a welcome change in viewpoint! 

 My experience over the last few years, however, does give me a unique point of view - I’ve spent a lot of time thinking and talking about how the modes of acquiring, optimizing, reporting on and deriving insight from display media are going through a dramatic shift.  This shift is a direct result of the rise of ad exchanges like Yahoo!’s RMX and Google's ADX, Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) like Invite Media and MediaMath, data marketplaces like BlueKai, and more.  I strongly believe that we’re at an inflection point in how a significant portion of Display media will be managed – and by whom - going forward, and I personally look forward to sharing my perspective on it with this community. 

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Want To Be Bought? Then Talk Cloud

Continuing my musings about the impact of cloud on our industry (see last week’s blog), I’m in the middle of a cloud project where we are identifying and profiling potential channel partners for an ISV that is about to launch a systems management product for cloud environments. I must say, I’m surprised by the number of channel partners already talking about cloud.

It reminds me of a conversation with staff at Nimsoft, a company recently acquired by CA, about how they were promoting their cloud offerings. My personal view is that Nimsoft managed to complete their exit strategy so quickly and successfully because they focused all of their new product announcements and general positioning toward the cloud. Coincidentally, CA had decided to turn up the heat on its own cloud campaign and promptly bought three technology companies to strengthen the cloud offering and show their commitment — Nimsoft, Cassat, and 3Tera.

While Cassat and 3Tera were cloud-specific solutions, Nimsoft was already successful as a provider of systems monitoring software to enterprises and managed service providers. My theory is that their cloud image was the result of a considered repositioning exercise that culminated in their placement on CA’s wish list. Here’s another example: Yesterday, Adobe announced its intention to acquire Day Software, the Swiss content management ISV. Day Software had a consistent ECM business with modest growth, but I notice that they turned up the cloud messaging over the last months — I suspect this is what got them into Adobe’s sights.

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Location-Based Social Networks: The Conversation Continues

You know how an analyst can tell when she's hit on a hot topic?  When it generates this much conversation.

We published a report about location-based social networks (LBSNs) earlier this week, and it's spurred quite a lot of dialogue. The opinions are varied -- and so much the better for it because it's lead to rigorous discussion about the users of these services and how marketers can get involved, rather than just focusing on the technologies and their (admittedly very real) cool factors. 

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QR Codes - How Will You Drive Awareness? A Local Case Study

I was walking through DuPont Circle in Washinton DC last week. I stumbled upon Axis Salon. I was so intrigued by the glass storefront that I had to hang up the phone and stare. The salon front was COVERED in QR codes!!!

Storefront

Close-up of shop name:

Instructions to download: (they recommend 3GVision's i-nigma)

They should be telling consumers more about what phones are compatible, probably. There should probably be more instructions, but at least they OFFER instructions.

Scan the code ... link to a Web site with a coupon.

It's pretty basic, but very effective. They must have a lot of people asking. It's certainly driving buzz - I mentioned it to a couple of people I met in DC, and they knew about it. Partial instructions available. Lack of compatibility with most phones ... maybe an issue, but those who don't know about 2D codes are probably also less likely to ask. Fun.

 

eBusiness In Financial Services Serves Two Masters

These days one of the top questions we get here at Forrester is around how best to organize for eBusiness. Should the group report to marketing? Should it report to IT? Should it be centralized, or should it be decentralized? Tons of industry brainpower has been spent thinking about these questions.

The answer reminds me of the old SNL skit for Shimmer where the husband and wife argue about whether Shimmer is a floor wax or a dessert topping, and in the end the announcer tells them emphatically, "New Shimmer is both a floor wax and a dessert topping!" The right eBusiness organizational structure is one that reports to both marketing and IT. Why? Because eBusiness has two masters: eBusiness is both a channel and an enterprise function.

Let me explain. Nobody would argue that the ATM is a servicing channel and not an enterprise function like corporate marketing. On the flip side, nobody would consider corporate marketing a channel versus an enterprise function, which it is, but eBusiness fills both roles in most financial service companies. It is a servicing channel for existing customers looking to servicing their accounts, but it also has a marketing and sales enterprise function along the lines of corporate marketing.

I have recently published a document on the Forrester Web site where I explore the implications of this dilemma in organizing for eBusiness. I welcome any feedback on my approach, and look forward to any more blog posts where I can reference SNL.

Brad