Quikkly Wants To Be A Better QR Code

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Quikkly You’ve all used a QR code, right? Those weird-looking barcodes you’re supposed to scan using a mobile to open a related web link. Nope? I thought not. For one reason or another, the technology, which was originally developed for the automotive industry to track parts in vehicle manufacturing, has never really gained critical mass from a consumer point of view. Enter Quikkly,… Read More

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Applause Raises $765K From Salesforce CEO For Its Revamped Weight Loss App

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revolution-foods If you’re worried about blowing your diet over the holidays – or perhaps, thinking about making a New Year’s resolution to “eat healthy” (you know, again) – an app called Applause, now seed funded by Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, may help. The startup aims to bring to market a more lightweight food and activity tracking service combined with virtual… Read More

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Emojiary Is A Mobile Diary App Where You Visualize Your Feelings With Emoji

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Screen Shot 2014-11-26 at 11.45.26 AM Regularly journaling your thoughts and feelings is a good way to “check in with yourself,” raise your self-awareness and connect with your intuition, but it can also be a time-consuming activity that most of us don’t have time for, given our busy lives. A company called All Tomorrows wants to change that, by offering a quick and arguably more fun way to track your feelings… Read More

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Tips for Finding an Authentic Voice in Higher Ed Marketing by HubSpot

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find your authentic voiceWhat do you say when a prospective student asks, “What makes (insert your college or university here) different?” It’s easy to tout the low faculty to student ratio or list off a long inventory of degree programs. While these are important, most higher education institutions can proclaim the same thing. How do you show what makes you, well … you?

As higher education institutions make the shift toward inbound marketing to tell their tale, how do we use content to draw people in without it sounding like a sales pitch? Finding an authentic voice not only provides a more genuine representation of the university, but it also attracts quality prospects that may not have found you otherwise. So how do we do this?

Here are five tips to help you find your organization’s authentic voice.

1) Know Who You Are

It’s sometimes easier to know who you want to be rather than who you are. But it’s important to discover (or rediscover) what makes your university unique. What draws people to your university? Is it your Ivy League pedigree, SEC titles, academic rigor, STEM programs?

Not sure? Ask. Get a group of students, alum, faculty, and staff in a room together (with the bribery of free pizza of course) and just ask. Ask what drew them to your institution and what keeps them loyal. Ask what makes the institution distinctive. Ask what they brag about to their friends — and maybe even more importantly, what they complain about, too. Take some time to recruit people on campus who are less engaged and who have probably never been asked about their own institution. All of this information and feedback will be crucial to helping you identify what makes your university different. 

2) Embrace Curation

We often hear about the power of storytelling in marketing — so much so that it has almost become another checkbox to complete, along with a Facebook Page and a blog that you don’t actually use to its full potential. To help you make the most of this trend and still have time in your day to accomplish other crucial marketing tactics, it’s time to promote yourself from storyteller to story curator.

And who better to tell the story than the people living it? Set up a section of your website devoted to student stories, quotes, and photos. Try out having a new question every week that students can answer by submitting their own captioned photo or video. Then share it on your social media channels or spotlight a particular submission on your website. Whatever your method, you should be gathering a stockpile of stories and marketing collateral directly from your audience.

3) Get Inspired

If your only view of your university on a regular basis is the worn pathway from your parking garage to your office, you’re missing out on the energy reverberating around campus. You might miss the Quidditch match on the quad, or the drum line practicing outside, or the student-made robot races meandering down the sidewalk, or even the recent influx of tightrope walkers (and yes, these are all things I have personally witnessed). Be part of the community you’re endorsing.

Once a week put your laptop away, bring some walking shoes, and use your lunch break to just walk around campus and soak it all in. When you get back to the office, take 10 minutes to make some notes and write about your experience. Incorporate these observations into your editorial calendar — block out time in your schedule to create and share these photos and anecdotes through your various inbound channels. By building in this time for spontaneity, you’ll ensure you can publish timely and relevant content. 

4) Build Personas

Invoke your best UX design alter ego and use the information you’ve gathered from your focus groups and weekly jaunts around campus to create a few personas that represent your key audience. Who are your constituents? Why might they be interested in your institution? What would make them choose you? Having that kind of information about your personas will be key to design your content strategy and messaging matrix.

Still having trouble with figuring out who your personas are? Brainstorm the qualities of your target personas, and then bring them to life by having your team role-play a persona interacting with an admissions counselor. You might be surprised at what you discover.

5) Stop Peddling Education

Stop writing like a marketer and start writing like an educator! Your job is to promote the college experience to students who would be a good fit for your university. Yes, you want more leads … but do you really want a pool of prospects that you know wouldn’t be a good fit? The pressures of enrollment numbers and donor dollars make it easy to forget why you got into the higher education field in the first place.

This is an easy one to solve: Remind yourself every day why you do what you do. Don’t refer or think of incoming students as “customers” or you might as well just prepare your best stock elevator pitch and have a BOGO coupon on your admissions page. When you’re developing content, remember they are students looking towards the future. How do you plan on helping them get there?

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Social Marketing Startup Tiger Pistol Raises $3.1M As It Plans For US Growth

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tiger pistol Tiger Pistol, a startup offering social marketing tools for small businesses, is announcing that it has raised $3.1 million in Series A funding.
The company started in Melbourne, Australia, and I first covered it in 2012, when it left beta testing. Since then, Tiger Pistol (named after the tiger pistol shrimp) has moved its headquarters to Los Angeles, though it retains an office in Melbourne. Read More

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Microsoft-Backed Inlope Is An Interest-Based Local Social Network

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Inlope Is there room for another social network in your life? Inlope, a Munich, Germany-based startup which was founded last year and has just launched its app reckons so. And it’s not alone — having persuaded Microsoft to cover its costs for a year while it seeks to scale its idea into a living and breathing local social network. Read More

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Canopy Brings A Curated Amazon Shopping Experience To The iPhone

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canopy-ios A company called Canopy launched last year to bring a more curated and community-driven experience to shopping Amazon products, with an organized catalog of recommended items, and a number of tools for finding and saving favorites. Today, Canopy is bringing that same experience to mobile with the launch of the Canopy iOS application. Like its web-based counterpart, the iOS app offers a… Read More

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These Weed Snobs Show Why Pot Can Be Just as Snooty as Wine

Weedmaps, a Yelp-like service focused on pot, wants to show that marijuana can be just as sophisticated as alcohol. But it's hard for a company named Weedmaps to buy ad space, and it had to get a little creative with its marketing.

That's why it hosts WeedmapsTV on YouTube where it has more than 100,000 subscribers, and it just put out its latest video. It's a bit of content marketing from a company that can't buy ad space on Facebook or Twitter because its mission is to rate all the legal places to buy pot in the country, which is slowly embracing the weed industry with pro-marijuana laws.

The new video, produced by Los Angeles shop Prior 98, is part of a Web series called Weed Snobs, which turns the table on conventional wisdom. It's a parody with two men at a fine restaurant ordering from the weed menu and discussing the dangers of drinking.

"We cannot do paid advertising on Facebook so that leads us to be creative and come up with alternatives through social media," said Kyle Peterson of Weedmaps, which posts its videos to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. "We do content marketing and create fun stuff that's sharable."




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How to Set SMART Marketing Goals [Free Template] by HubSpot

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SMART-marketing-goals-excel-templateGoal setting is probably one of the hardest things marketers have to do. You’ve got to choose a goal that’s lofty, but not too lofty. And it’s possible you have no idea what “lofty” is anyway — for marketers implementing brand new activities, picking the right goals (and then tackling them) can feel like a guessing game.

To help you eliminate the guesswork and set the right goals for your marketing team, HubSpot’s put together a goal-setting template. This marketing goal-setting template will help you set yearly, quarterly, monthly, and even daily goals that are realistic, measurable, and help you figure out how to actually hit those goals with … you know … a plan.

To learn how to use this goal-setting template, download it now so you can read along with this post’s step-by-step explanation. We’ll walk you through every part of the template and teach you how to use it to set yourself up for stellar marketing growth.

First, a Brief Message on Setting SMART Goals

Goals are great — they help us prove how effective we are, keep us focused, and push us to be better. The thing is, though, goals are totally useless if they’re not grounded in reality. That’s why it’s critical to set SMART goals. (You’re about to find out that SMART is an acronym, but your goals should still, indeed, be “smart.”) Here’s what we mean by setting a SMART goal:

  • Specific — Do set real numbers with real deadlines. Don’t say, “I want more visitors.”
  • Measurable — Do make sure that you can track your goal. Don’t hide behind buzzwords like “brand engagement” or “social influence.”
  • Attainable — Do work toward a goal that is challenging but possible. Don’t try to take over the world in one night.
  • Realistic — Do be honest with yourself, because you know what you and your team are capable of. Don’t forget any hurdles you may have to overcome.
  • Time-bound — Do give yourself a deadline. Don’t keep pushing towards a goal you might hit “some day.”

Alright, now that we’ve got that little best practice out of the way, on to the template!

Step 1: Summarize Your Goal

The first step is to write down a summary of what your goal is. Goals are not always clear for marketers, so this may be harder than it seems — but forcing yourself to write it down here lends clarity that you’ll find immensely helpful. In the orange box, set a numbers-driven goal (keeping the SMART acronym in mind).

preparing_smart_goals_template

If you can’t come up with one now, leave it blank momentarily and come back to it once you’ve completed the worksheet — you might find you have an easier time of it, as the template helps you figure these things out.

(Note: This example has our company name and logo — you, of course, would swap this out for your company’s.)

Step 2: Categorize Your Goal

We’ve found that most marketers need to do one of three things: get more visitors to their site, get more visitors to convert into leads, or get more leads to convert into customers. When you click on the right of the white box in your template, this drop-down will appear:

marketing goals resized 600

Use the drop-down menu to select which best describes your current situation.

Step 3: Set a Specific Numerical Goal

Now that you’ve narrowed down your goal, it’s time to set a value to work toward — this can be the hardest step of all, but this template should make it easy! If you’re new to inbound marketing or are not sure what you should be aiming for when setting your goal then use ONE of the THREE calculators in this step. It will help give you an idea of what you should be working towards.

As an example, let’s say I am new to marketing but I know that I need to focus converting more of my traffic into leads. I’d use the second calculator you see here, outlined in orange, like so: 

calculating marketing goals resized 600

I just insert my average monthly site visits — let’s just say 10,000 visits — and my current visit-to-lead conversion rate. Once I add in those two numbers, the rest is completed for me and I now know exactly how many leads I should strive to generate.

Step 4: Select a Completion Date

A goal is just a dream until you add a deadline. Select the length of time you think it will take to reach your goal. This will help you figure out how aggressive you need to be with your marketing efforts.

marketing goal timelines resized 600

Step 5: Commit the Time

Now that you got all aggressive (it’s okay, we kind of encouraged you there), it’s time for a reality check. Of course, we would all love to see huge growth in short periods of time, but are you able to commit to putting in the hours it takes to achieve your goal?

By selecting how many hours a week you can work — and we mean really work — on inbound marketing, you’re setting another smaller goal that helps your marketing dreams become reality. This personal goal is something to be mindful of and work toward reaching every week.

inbound marketing time investment resized 600

Step 6: Be Aware of Potential Obstacles 

There are always going to be things that may stop us from reaching our goals. State those now so you’re aware of them, you can start planning ways of getting around them, and you can prevent them from turning into excuses for not reaching your goal. Preparing for the hurdles now will make it that much easier to reach your marketing goals.

marketing challenges resized 600

With a clear goal and a timeline, you can start to put together a strategy to make your best year yet. Just don’t forget the most important part of any goal strategy: planning the celebration when you reach your goal! And then, of course, remember to use this worksheet to help you set another goal, and then another, and, well, you get the idea.

This post was originally published in 2012 and has since been updated for accuracy.

free marketing goal setting template

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BitTorrent Goes Legit With Its First Original Web Series

Peer-to-peer file sharing platform BitTorrent wants to change what the public thinks it does. Instead of being associated with all the illegal TV shows, movies and illicit content it can store, the tech company wants to be seen as a provider of premium legal content.

Next fall, BitTorrent will distribute its first original Web series, Children of the Machine. The series is helmed by Marco Weber (producer of Igby Goes Down and The Thirteenth Floor) and takes place in the year 2031, in a futuristic society where androids take over and force humans to band together to survive. And, if you're interested, the only place to get it is to download it via a BitTorrent Bundle, a service that allows artists to release content directly to consumers. 

"This is a science fiction show catered to the typical tech-savvy, male-dominated audience," Weber said. "We're not trying to launch a romantic comedy, so the concept of this show moved us toward BitTorrent."

Currently, BitTorrent has more than 170 million users around the world, the majority of whom are male. Over 2 million legally licensed pieces of content are available via BitTorrent, often through the Bundle program. Artists who opt into the Bundle program get 90 percent of the sales revenue, as well as data on those who downloaded their content. Tom Yorke released his album Tomorrow's Modern Boxes, and electronic music superstar Diplo dropped Mad Descent Block Party and F10rida through this program.

Weber said he chose to release his show with BitTorrent because the site's users are his target demographic, which means a built-in audience for him and his future advertisers. The pilot and an ad-supported version of Children of the Machine will be made available for free download, but those who want to skip ads can pay $4.95 for the eight-episode season or $9.95 for bonus content. Six weeks after the pilot is released, the show will be available all at once, much like the Netflix model. The show has not signed any ad deals yet, but it's in talks with technology industry companies.

"If you put a commercial in a TV pilot, you don't get the audience as focused as you get on BitTorrent," Weber explained. 

BitTorrent PR manager Kevin Fu explained that at its core, the company allows computers to talk to each other and move large data files. While that data can include information from Facebook, Amazon and Blizzard Entertainment, it can also include pirated content from platforms like The Pirate Bay. The very name "BitTorrent" has become linked with illegal downloads, but the company wants to fix that.

"We haven't done a great job over time of owning that brand name," Fu explained. "It's something that we’re working on changing."




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