Power and flexibility of social media sites should not be undermined. Among many usage of these sites, the lesser known is that they serve as an emerging source of data for public health studies, including mental health (Schrading et al.).
According to a study on domestic abuse disclosure on a social media site, Schrading et al. reported that this site offers “less intimidating and more accessible channels for reporting, collectively processing, and making sense of traumatic and stigmatizing experiences”. One such site is Reddit.
Reddit is a popular social news and entertainment media launched in 2005. As of 2015, Reddit has amassed 36 million user accounts and 234 million monthly unique visitors. This site has a vast range of forums dedicated to various topics, known as “subreddits”. Its forum-style social system allows users to share texts and media as posts that allow votes and comments. Unlike Twitter, Reddit allows lengthy submissions.
Given the unique characteristics of the site, Reddit acts as a support system for mental health suffers, which provides a platform for self-disclosure, social support, and anonymity. Users may interact anonymously and become connected with others who share similar difficulties, misery, pain, condition, or distress (Choudhury & De).
Moreover, each subreddit is moderated by online community volunteers. For sensitive subreddit topics that are related to mental health and illnesses, their main role is to ensure that “the anonymous submitter has access to local help hotlines if a life-threatening situation is described” (Schrading et al.).
In essence, Reddit is a comfortable and safe space for people who cannot disclose their mental health experiences due to social stigma. Even for ones who are simply willing to share a piece of their own life story to help others.
Infographic below summarizes key findings and statistics in relation to this topic:
Social Media may rule our lives, as qSample has demonstrated. Yet when it comes to marketing or simply engaging deeply with our audiences, email is the king of all internet media (as our president Rudly Raphael proved in his article The Dominance of Email).
The queen might be text messaging. It’s often overlooked as an efficient form of marketing, according to Small Business Trends. Regardless, the relevance of text messaging as a medium is astounding. For example, check these statistics:
– Texting is the most frequently used app on smartphones–with 97% of Americans using it at least once a day. – More than six billion text messages are sent in the U.S. each day. – People worldwide will send 8.3 trillion text messages in 2016 alone. That’s almost 23 billion messages per day or almost 16 million messages per minute. – Text messaging has a 45% response rate, while email only has a 6% response rate. – Over 80% of adults text, making it the most common phone activity. – Text messages brag a 98% open rate, while email only delivers a 20% open rate.
For more context and awe, we present you our latest infographic (and please text your friends or colleagues about it; they’ll open it more than if you email them this data):
In a crowded “nothing new under the sun” world, being successful no longer means having more or being at the apex of a vocation. That narrative is a dime a dozen. The richest man on earth is as forgettable as the average speaker at a TED Talk is memorable.
Being successful in a digital, multichannel age means transcending the constraints of your field, the expectations of your culture, and even the guarded borders of your identity. It means reinventing yourself to the point few will forget your brief tale in this universe. That context of achievement is easy to grasp when thinking of such modern “success” stories as Steve Jobs, Tim Ferris, or Reed Hastings.
How to do these lords of transcendence do it? Is there a code? If there is one today, it might be found in a book aptly called The Code of the Extraordinary Mind, written by Vishen Lakhiani. Although known as the founder of Mindvalley, trying to label Lakhiani is as hard as labelling the complex figures mentioned above—individuals who can thrive as both entrepreneurs and social activists, captains of commerce and spiritual servants of the common good.
The Code of the Extraordinary Mind is also hard to pigeonhole. You could say the book is a manual on how to upgrade and reboot your existence with an equal mixture of common sense and mysticism. You could say the book is transcendent.
Lakhiani’s work provides a blueprint for any individual to find his or her potential without having to run to a cave in Tibet (although that is optional). He is no mere guru of anecdotal experience dressed in New Age lingo. His writing is brutally honest, humble and intimate. At the same time, the book’s content is laser-like in its practically—drawing partially from Lakhiani having 17 jobs in 17 years, from washing dishes to founding (and losing) companies. He also draws heavily from many of today’s “success” stories.
Thus, I present here the wisdom Lakhiani learned from other lords of transcendence and revealed in The Code of the Extraordinary Mind.
Lakhiani asked the famed founder of Tesla this questions: “Elon, you’ve done some pretty epic things, stuff most people would never even dream about. Yet what makes Elon Musk? I mean, if we could put you in a blender and blend you to distill your essence, what would that essence be?”
Lakhiani writes that Musk laughed at the blender metaphor and then thoughtfully answered:
When I was just starting out, I walked into Netscape to get a job. I just sat in the lobby holding my résumé, waiting quietly for someone to talk to me. No one did. I waited and waited. But no one spoke to me. So I said: ‘F**k it! I’ll just start my own company.’
Obviously, few of us can be like Musk. He also did tell Lakhiani that “I have a high tolerance for pain.” In any case, many us forget that before we can think outside the box, we must understand we’re trapped inside one.
While spending time together on the beach at Richard Branson’s private island, Lakhiani shared openly about various philosophical issues with Branson.
At one point, Branson interrupted him and stoically said, “You should write a book.”
That was it. Lakhiani took the suggestion. Why? Because Branson found him interesting? Maybe or maybe not. It was likely that Branson simply knew everyone has an important story to share. Lakhiani had merely been brave enough to take the first step of disclosing one’s soul to later expand it.
Later on, Lakhiani asked Branson why he always seemed happy. Was he ever sad? Branson answered, “I can’t remember the bad times. I only remember the good things that happened in my life.”
Branson’s view reminds me of a Tom Robbins quote: “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.” The past is a stern classroom, sure, but eventually the bell needs to ring and we need to venture into the playgrounds of our positive experiences. Your mileage and metaphors may vary.
Lakhiani recalls asking Arianna Huffington the same questions offered to Musk: “What makes you Arianna? If we could distill you and try to extract your essence, what is it that makes you you?”
I would say trust. I have an incredible trust in life. One of my favorite quotes is a little misquote: ‘Live life as though everything is rigged in your favor.’ I really profoundly believe that whatever has happened in my life, including the biggest heartbreaks, the biggest disappointments, was exactly what was needed to help me get to the next stage of my own personal evolution and growth. I always had a sense of that, but now I believe that so profoundly. I can literally see the hidden blessing in every bad thing that happened.
In essence, I would say, every person has a history and that history is unique—filled with wonder and insight.
Lakhiani recalls in his book a quote by Peter Diamandis, founder and chairman of the X Prize: “If you can’t win, change the rules. If you can’t change the rules, ignore them.”
Not much can be commented on this quote, especially once you’re involved in writing the script that is your life (as with Musk and Branson) and are enraptured in the lessons of your past (as with Branson and Huffington).
In The Code of the Extraordinary Mind, Lakhiani proffers his own insights that correlate with the figures mentioned. He furthermore presents his personal journey, as Rudyard Kipling wrote, of meeting with “Triumph and Disaster” and treating those two impostors as they were one. It is quite a journey, and he calls for each one of us to take that journey.
As mentioned, being successful today means transcending until you find the best, unique, and helpful version of yourself. It’s not so much about reinventing, though, but rediscovering who you were meant to be—and that is a person whose tale is unforgettable in this universe.
Comedian George Burns famously said, “I look to the future because that’s where I’m going to spend the rest of my life.”
College students are taking Burn’s advice, it seems, focusing on the future with an attentive, pragmatic yet positive eye. They want successful careers more than anything, care little about popularity, and social media is not the great democratizer but just another neutral avenue in life.
These are the findings from qSample’s latest study, presented here in an infographic. The study was conducted using our college student sample, surveying more than 200 participants on a range of social and economic topics. Respondents were accessed from our Campus Universe initiative—regularly utilized for varied studies for both academics and businesses by clients. The findings can also be found in our post College Students Optimistic About Economic Future.
The qSample research should give hope for the country’s future (and certainly relevant with graduation season around the corner). Millennials spend $600 million a year in the U.S. alone, with some estimates having them reach $3 billion in a decade as they dominate the labor force. Therefore, the economy should be in good hands, unless these graduates are hamstrung with student debt and not enough salary growth.
Please enjoy our infographic and please enjoy spending the rest of your life in the future:
A book taking the business world by storm is Disrupted: My Misadventures in the Startup Bubble, written by Dan Lyons. The work is a scathing critique of tech startups and their Wonderland-meets-the-Hunger-Games sensibility, centered mostly on Lyons’ stint as a marketer for inbound software company HubSpot.
I haven’t laughed out loud in years while reading a book—although weeping might have been a more suitable reaction in various sections. Lyons describes the new normal of tech startups: a work culture that exploits workers within racist, misogynistic and ageist ecosystems; a business model that fosters neo-feudal economic realities where a few get very rich while the middle class gets atomized; an Orwellian atmosphere of mystic Groupthink where workers fall on their swords while simultaneously glorifying egomaniacal founders and supporting mediocre management.
Lyons, a former Newsweek reporter and current writer for the HBO hit Silicon Valley, makes HubSpot the centerpiece to his case for the toxic malady that are tech startups on the American workforce biology. Witness hallways teaming with beer taps, free candy, orange bean bags and overworked Hipsters. Witness endless meetings where a founder bestows a teddy bear an exclusive seat at the conference table. Witness realms of magic realism math where a company that has never made a profit can go public. And witness that Doublespeak tech lingo where a fired employee is called a “graduate” and never spoken of again, while management goes around telling employees that 1+1= 3 (and they better believe and make it happen).
That’s just scratching the surface of Disrupted. However, one can tell that Lyons does have fondness, empathy and even admiration for HubSpot. Personally, I can say HubSpot has brought value and useful information to my marketing life.
Lyons’ true wrath falls on an individual who seems to exemplify the corruption and greed of tech startups.
“The Ron Burgundy of Tech,” Lyons calls this person (and is the title of a chapter in his Disrupted). This is none other than Marc Benioff, the billionaire founder and CEO of Salesforce. Lyons’ revelation of Benioff occurred when he attended Dreamforce—Salesforce’s annual conference in San Francisco in late 2013. We might as well get to his insights from the book.
He starts the chapter by offering this formula:
Imagine Joel Osteen pumped up on human growth hormone. Imagine there’s a secret government lab where scientists have blended the DNA of Tony Robbins with the DNA of Harold Hill, the aw-shucks shifty salesman from The Music Man. Imagine a grizzly bear in a pinstriped suit, standing on his hind legs and talking about changing the world through disruptive innovation and transformation.
That’s how Lyons sees Benioff, watching him give the keynote speech at the Moscone Center.
The critique gets worse.
Lyons calls him “a buffoon, a bulls**t artist, and such an out-of-control egomaniac that it is painful to listen to him talk.” He says Benioff is like “some kind of cheesy talk-show host, roaming up and down the aisles, a man of the people” saying astral remarks like “the speed of now” and “the internet of customers.” He further mocks at how Benioff states: “Have you transformed the way you innovate?” (you can switch the two buzzwords around, and it makes just as little sense).
“There’s an art to this kind of horses**t, and Benioff is its Michelangelo,” Lyons declares, dejected at the speech while thousands of techies eagerly drink Benioff’s Kool-Aid. It gets worse for Lyons, as such figures as Sean Penn and Deepak Chopra appear to edify Benioff, while Huey Lewis and Green Day are prostituted to play at the festivities.
The rest of Dreamforce is a mixture of Roman debauchery and New Age spirituality. As mentioned, this where Lyons has his epiphany, the point the Red Pill fully goes down—for he sees Salesforce and the rest of the tech startup industry for they are (not companies who claim falsely, like Google and Apple, that they want to change the world). As he writes:
Having the best product has nothing to do with who wins. What matters is who can put on a great show, who can create the biggest spectacle, who can look huge and unstoppable and invincible, and who is the best at bluster and hype.
When it comes to these things, nobody comes close to Benioff. Nobody has cashed in on the bubble as well as he has. In 2012, Salesforce.com lost more than a quarter of a billion dollars, and in 2013 it will lose almost as much. In 2013 the company is fourteen years old and not making a profit. But its revenues are growing more than 30 percent each year, and growth is what investors are looking for, so even though Salesforce.com is bleeding red ink, its stock has doubled over the past two years, and Benioff’s personal net worth has soared to $ 2.6 billion.
Now, here in the Moscone Center, the P. T. Barnum of the tech industry is giving a master class in how the game is played. It’s the Marc Benioff show, brought to you by Marc Benioff, with special guest Marc Benioff. Fifteen thousand people are packed into this hall. Thousands more are packed into spillover rooms. It feels like a rock concert. In fact it is a rock concert.
Oddly enough, Lyons admits that he wanted to buy Salesforce software, such is the charisma of Benioff under the spectacle of watery lights and frenzied sound in the auditorium. More than a rock concert, the keynote speech event (and conference) is more like a religious revival where the audience devours the software like Communion.
Lastly, Lyons criticizes Benioff’s philanthropy because he makes it public and way to leverage customers—instead of being discreet like Bill Gates or other old tech guards. Okay, there’s more, but hopefully you have gained a taste of Disrupted and the alarm it sounds.
Personally, I’ve never used Salesforce and know little of Benioff. I suspect he has probably brought more light than darkness into the world. Still, Lyons characterization of the mogul, at the very least, is an allegory of what has befallen the tech startup industry. He is obviously not alone in this assessment (hey, there are more writers on Silicon Valley). The worst is not the dog and pony show of the tech startup industry, the smoke and mirrors full of self-mythologizing, or its vicious, Darwinist work philosophy dressed in Star Trek themes.
No, it’s the reality that, according to Lyons, another tech bubble bursting will soak the middle and lower classes even worse than in the 90s. Then the whole country will be disrupted in ways that might make the 2008 crash seem like a small interruption.
Note: A similar story appeared in Valleywag, Marc Benioff Is the Ron Burgundy of Tech, in 2013 and written by “Anonymous.” It’s not secret, though, that Lyons went to write for Valleywag after leaving HubSpot. No plot thickening here.
Netflix is undoubtedly one of the premier brands today. The Los Gatos, California company is so culturally revolutionary it’s even made the action of abusing television something cool. The phenomenon of “binge watching” has become a clarion call for Millennials and often a mating call for Hipsters. The vast wasteland that was television is now a vast paradise of streaming on mobile devices.
Netflix has changed many perceptions as well as overcome many societal and economic shifts—remaining at the top of the brand food chain.
Much of the success of Netflix can be attributed to founder and CEO, Reed Hastings. The essence of this former vacuum cleaner salesperson and Peace Corps volunteer can be found in Scott Smith’s book, Extraordinary People. The work uses primary and secondary interviews to mine the synergetic history of Netflix and Hastings. It showcases Hastings as a complex visionary, yet at his core with a practical approach to improving the lives and experiences of those around him.
A Common Sense Visionary
In his book, Smith reveals that the conception of Netflix didn’t begin so much with market research but a mixture of common sense and anger—the kind many of us perhaps felt decades ago when being wallet-raped by video companies like Blockbuster. A Smith writes:
The genesis of Netflix came in 1997, when Hastings misplaced a rented videotape, Apollo 13, and was hit with a late fine of $40. Afterwards, on his way to the gym, he wondered why a rental service couldn’t work like the gym: a flat fee for members to use it as much as they wanted with no late fees.
This thought-process led to the creation of Netflix. In May 1998, Hastings offered a free trial to initial adopters of DVDs for $4 rental and $2 postage. Few signed up to pay. However, a year later, he experimented with a flat monthly subscription with no late fees. The tweak worked. By the end of 2000, Netflix boasted 239,000 customers.
The company exploded, but still needed to overcome many hurdles in those early years such as:
– The dot-com bubble bust. – 9/11 and the ensuing soft economy. – Fierce competition from giants like Amazon, Blockbuster, and Walmart.
Nevertheless, in 2002 Netflix started setting up regional warehouses to speed up DVD distribution and went public after reaching 857,000 members by the end of the year. By 2004, membership ballooned to 2.6 million.
Eventually and not too long ago, Blockbuster went out of business. In retrospect, that Apollo 13 video Hastings rented might be the most expensive video in history.
A Daring Visionary
In 2007, inspired by the rise of YouTube videos, Hastings made a concerted effort to make Netflix into a streaming service. He saw the writing on the proverbial wall, but unfortunately missed a step when it came to execution, and the fall was hard. To this day, many Millennials and Hipsters must shudder when thinking of the disaster, which happened as follows:
Soon after being hailed the 2010 Company of the Year, being the U.S. Postal Service’s biggest customer, and being the largest source of Internet traffic in the evening—Netflix announced it was going to restructure its DVD business as a subsidiary called Qwikster. Customers who had been receiving disks and streaming movies under the same subscription would be forced to buy the services separately with higher prices. This business shift was done to accelerate the transition of Netflix from a company renting DVDs to a streaming service.
The reaction was vastly negative. The company’s stock dropped from its all-time high of $305 the day before to $64 in November of 2011. Close to a million customers cancelled subscriptions.
“I screwed up,” Hastings admitted soon after in a blog post. “If our business is about making people happy, then I made a big mistake. I slid into arrogance based on past success.”
He also called off the plan.
We all know how the story ends, of course (binge-watching reigns supreme). Fast Company called the turnaround “the biggest comeback in entertainment history.” And here we are, with Netflix being one of the most innovating, expanding and successful companies in the world.
A Company Culture Visionary
Beyond good ideas and reputation management, Hastings’ other achievement is creating a “culture of entrepreneurship” in his company. Netflix is notorious for paying and treating its employees well.
As Smith writes in his book, Netflix emphasizes the qualities it seeks in employees upfront in the hiring process:
1. Judgment—You identify root causes and get beyond treating symptoms.
2. Innovation—You keep us nimble by keeping things simple.
3. Impact—You focus on great results, rather than the process.
4. Curiosity—You contribute effectively outside of your specialty.
5. Communication—You listen well so that you understand before reacting.
6. Courage—You make tough decisions without excessive agonizing.
7. Honesty—You only say things about fellow employees you would say to their face.
8. Selflessness—You share information proactively.
9. Passion—You inspire others with your thirst for excellence.
Lastly, Extraordinary People presents real life lessons for all us lesser mortals who never swore revenge on a video store:
– Imagine your industry in 10 years and work towards that vision. – Deliver a high-quality customer experience no matter what. For most companies, that’s a slogan on a wall trumped by political infighting and treating front line workers as the least important. – Screen recruits for personality and values, not resume and technical skills. The specifics of a business can be learned by smart outsiders. – Don’t be afraid to admit mistakes quickly and learn lessons to prevent future errors. – Have a passion for whatever you do—making money is not a sufficient motive to get you through tough times.
Not everyone can be Hastings, and not everyone will work for a company like Netflix. However, everyone can use common sense marketing to find the needs of customers; and every company should understand that treating employees exceptionally more often than not fosters exceptional employees.
They say there is no such thing as a free lunch. However, in our hallowed digital age there exists plenty of free hacks when you need support or an extra angle. This includes market research.
These hacks might be more and more necessary. In a recent Greenbook post, researcher Neil Cole explains the why and how market research budgets are being sliced across the very world. In essence, companies have a tendency to slice the long-term (sound research on a brand) and keep the short-term (sales, broader marketing, advertising). So it’s safe the say that market research hacks could be useful until the common wisdom (if you want to call it that) shifts and companies once again invest fully in market research. Of course these free tools are useful for smaller companies or virgin startups.
Therefore, we present you our latest infographic, 4 Free Market Research Tools, based on our article 15 Free Market Research Tools & Resources. We hope you find the means for more quality data and branding in either of these sources (and maybe more money for lunch or department budgets):
There comes the idea. There comes the vision. There comes the sound market research to ensure a virgin good takes its place in the hallowed pantheon of world-changing products.
Oy vey! There comes a product that ends up employed for something completely different from its original intention. The product still changed the world, people got rich, but what the heck…
More than a comedy of errors and that fool of fate vibe, we think you will find some powerful lessons from these products on determination, insight, adaptability and other vital characteristics of entrepreneurship.
America’s favorite soft drink started out as anything but soft. Coca-Cola’s original purpose was to combat anxiety, headaches and drug dependence. John Pemberton, a pharmacist and Confederate veteran suffering from morphine addiction, invented the primordial Coca-Cola in the late 19th century. He named the drink Pemberton’s French Wine Coca, and it started out a sweetened alcoholic beverage infused with coca leaves.
As it grew as a brand, Coca-Cola was gradually honed with carbonation and non-narcotic sweeteners to give the world its most famous soda.
2. Kotex & Lysol
I place these two products together because they reveal the plight of women wading in the torrid currents of marketing. On one hand, Lysol began as a feminine douche and contraception, failing on both accounts and being downright dangerous to women’s health. Marketing campaigns even accused women of being deficient spouses if they didn’t use the product. Mercifully, research and politicking mutated Lysol into what it is today: a cleaning and disinfecting home product.
If you don’t believe me or the header graphic, check out this old ad found in Mentalfloss:
On the other hand, Kotex started out as a surgical dressing. Perceptive Red Cross nurses discovered another use for it due to its absorbent material: feminine hygiene. After the war, Kotex discovered a new market.
No, this product wasn’t created for your toddler to make your carpet crusty, even if it buys you a break. Soap manufacturer Cleo McVickers first invented this salty clay-like substance in the 1930s. Originally, McVickers believed he’d discovered the ultimate wallpaper cleaner. He didn’t get rich for this, but 20 years later his son Joseph remarketed the product for kindergarteners. The rest is messy history.
4. Bubble Wrap
In 1957, engineer Al Fielding and Swiss inventor Marc Chavannes thought they had a hit by designing the ultimate wallpaper—plastic sheets with air bubbles. Needless to say, the idea went over like a lead bubble. Fielding and Chavannes attempted to market their invention as a greenhouse insulation, and that approach failed as well. The product found its purpose (and was saved) by an idea from a marketer at Sealed Air, who used in 1959 as the wrapper for IBM’s 1401 computer. Is there anything computer technology can’t do?
The material was quickly dubbed Bubble Wrap. Today it’s a $4 billion a year in sales product. The home decorating industry is eternally grateful.
Not everything is about sex in society, and Viagra is a perfect illustration. At first, the med was conceived as a treatment for symptoms of heart disease. However, in Phase I clinical trials researchers discovered that the drug was a failure for its intended purpose. However (again), researchers noticed that male subjects were hardening not in the arteries but other places. Voila! A heavenly product “erected” from a failed drug, and now Viagra rakes in an estimated $1.9 billion dollars a year.
Over a century ago, Listerine was invented as a surgical antiseptic. It didn’t quite catch with the medical community, and later was employed for these purposes:
– A cure for gonorrhea – Treatment for sweaty feet, soft corns, and toe crust – An additive for cigarettes – Treatment for dandruff
Sometime in the 1920s Listerine found its destiny as a cure for stinky breath. Thus, if you’re ever booted from Shark Tank, know that you can come back many times with the same product and different marketing.
7. Post-It Notes
Talk about the greatest failure becoming the greatest success. In 1968, Spencer Silver was working for 3M trying to create super strong adhesives for the aerospace industry. Instead, Silver created the opposite: an extremely weak, pressure-sensitive adhesive. Interestingly, the substance left little residue and could be reused several times. As with the other products mentioned, marketing and market research attempted to find a use for it to no avail.
Years later, another employee of 3M, Arthur Fry, used the adhesive simply to keep hymnal papers together when he was singing at church. One sticky thing led to another sticky thing, and the Post-It Note came to the market in the 1970s, floundered for a while, and finally became an American staple (or replacer) in the 1980s. And no airplanes had to fall apart either!
8. St. Patrick’s Day
I know. It’s not a product, but it’s still is a brand. Moreover, St. Patrick’s day reveals that some celebrations are steeped in fiction and lies, but that doesn’t make them any less meaningful. As we reported, St. Patrick’s Day was originally a day of devotion lacking in parades where the government outlawed liquor consumption in pubs; and that American activism and thirst for equality is what truly inspired the holiday’s modern variation.
Oh, and leprechauns aren’t real either, if you were wondering.
9. Super Glue/Krazy Glue
Everyone’s favorite repair hack was once utilized as an emergency wound-sealer in combat situations, specifically the Vietnam War. That’s not how it started, though. These glues are composed of a substance called cyanoacrylate. Harry Coover invented cyanoacrylate in 1942 for Kodak Laboratories—in an attempt to create a special extra-clear plastic suitable for gun sights. That intention didn’t work, and neither did other uses such as plastic for airplane canopies. After years of tweaking, cyanoacrylate found a temporary home on the battlefield as makeshift would sealer that prevented soldiers from bleeding to death before being taken to the hospital.
The invention saved many lives, but the Food & Drug Administration never allowed it for the general public. This version of cyanoacrylate made its way to consumers for home repair, although some variations are employed in orthopedic surgery and dental procedures.
This product was a joint stumbling of both men and women. In the late 19th century—around the time Pemberton was getting high on Coca-Cola—chemist Constantin Fahlberg thought he had almost perfected a coal tar derivative. During that discovery time, when at home after work, he noticed that his wife’s biscuits tasted much sweeter than usual. Fahlberg discovered that the reason for those sweet-ass biscuits had to do with him not washing his hands after work and getting the residue of the coal tar derivative on the food.
Sometimes bad hygiene can lead to vast riches, as well as pink packets on every restaurant table.
As you can see, the line to success is rarely straight, and often seeming mistakes can be transformed into vast opportunities—just as good intentions and aggressive marketing can cause massive damage (as with Lysol). Also, what starts as something base can evolve into sophistication for consumers. The key with these inventors and entrepreneurs is that they kept their eyes and ears open, accepted failure as a bridge to triumph, and simply never gave up…stoned out their minds or not.
Content marketing has become increasingly attractive to many businesses and brands seeking to expand their web presence. But what is content marketing and how does it work—beyond being a sleek buzzword in cyberspace? Can it work for those in the earthly construction industry?
In essence, content marketing is any marketing involving the creation and sharing of media content to help and inform customers—ultimately with the goal of acquiring and retaining them. It takes a variety of forms including news, videos, white papers, ebooks, infographics, how-to guides, and blog posts.
Content marketing is viewed as solely functioning on the internet, but that’s not necessarily the case. One of the primal forms of content marketing would be the famed Michelin Guide, published over a century ago.
And yes, content marketing can be beneficial to those in the construction industry seeking to expand their online branding and generate traffic.
One of the main reasons content marketing is beneficial is because it’s currently seen as an essential aspect of any internet marketing and its continual paradigm changes. After all, it was marketing guru, Seth Godin, who said, “Content Marketing is all the marketing that’s left.”
Those are bold words, but these are bold online times. As examples, 88 percent of B2B marketers in North America already use some form of content marketing, while 76 percent of overall marketers are increasing investment in content marketing in 2016. All trends point to the financial rewards of content marketing.
Centering on the construction industry, a prime example of content marketing success can be found in a case study by Delta Marketing Group involving commercial contractor company, North Country Mechanical Insulators (NCMI). By using a sound inbound marketing strategy, NCMI increased its organic web traffic by an astounding 200 percent, as well as rank in the first page of Google under its preferred keyword (“mechanical insulation”). NCMI achieved this by optimizing its pages for local keyword search, rebranding its online persona via content as an “energy advocate,” and escalating its social media presence, among other strategies.
Adding to this, our research reveals that only 26 percent of general contractors utilize any form of online marketing. In other words, the internet is wide open to fill with traffic-generating content.
Content marketing is the future now, and construction companies should further pay heed for these three reasons:
1. CHANGING CONSUMER PSYCHOLOGY
It’s no secret that everyone is flooded with more information than ever before. The average American is bombarded with five times more information than he or she saw 15 years ago. It is more of a secret, though, that consumers have become anesthetized to unwanted information. Furthermore, mobile technology has shrunk the space to advertise in and Ad block technology has made it easier to expel intrusive advertising from screens.
Look at it this way: Once banner ads were ubiquitous across the internet, and the investment paid off for many companies. That’s no longer the case. According to recent data from marketing company HubSpot, the average click-through rate of display ads is merely 0.1 percent.
Content marketing is the answer to this, bringing the buyer down the sales funnel by adding value, education, and entertainment in their purchasing journey.
2. THOUGHT LEADERSHIP
Just as consumers have become more nimble at avoiding traditional marketing, they have also become more cynical as they navigate a vast field of brands wanting their attention on the internet. It’s just not enough for companies to explain how great they are—they have to show them.
This is where thought leadership comes in. Company heads can highlight their knowledge and expertise via articles, videos, infographics, and other elements of content marketing. This not only improves a brand, but it also assists and educates consumers—ultimately making them more grateful, trusting, and potentially closer to the contact form when it comes time to make a buying decision.
Search Engine Optimization remains key in any form of internet marketing. A good construction company craves the highest possible ranking on Google and other search engine providers (and the case study mentioned above made it a reality with NCMI). One way to rank is to spend inordinate amounts of money to remain on the first page of a search engine. The other is to utilize content marketing.
Content marketing is, at its core, about creating relevant content. The more valuable content created with relevant keywords, the higher the chance a website has of being indexed by search engines. Furthermore, more videos created can be noticed on YouTube, more infographics drawn can be shared on Social Media, and more guides published can be downloaded from a site into the hard drive of potential customers.
BEYOND THE CONTENT
Beyond the mentioned, content marketing is useful for branding, public relations, and even networking. This type of marketing is traditionally more cost-effective than other internet marketing, although distribution depends on a company’s needs (AdWords, Social Media displays, etc.). A construction company does not need an agency to successfully content market—simply a dedicated staff and owner that want to share their insights and passion with the industry.
At the end of the day, content marketing benefits consumer needs and forges a bond between brand and customer. That’s never a bad form of marketing …
Statistics are much more than numbers. They drive major business decisions, engineering, and everyday life. They fuel testing of new medicine, protect our borders, push the Warriors to the NBA title, and even guide personal decisions, whether used consciously or not.
Over millennia, military leaders employed data and analysis to defeat enemies. Today, major business leaders all over the world employ the same methodology in delivering cherished goods and services. Even the world of sports and entertainment understands this aspect of modern business. For example, The Cleveland Browns recently made headlines by hiring Paul DePodesta, a former collegiate wide receiver, rose to fame through a dramatization of Michael Lewis’ “Moneyball,” which chronicled his ability to use baseball statistics to aid the Oakland A’s in competing against better financed teams.
After moving to the NFL, the Cleveland Browns collected three championship trophies in their first 5 years in the league. Unfortunately, their performance slipped into mediocrity by the 70’s, and in subsequent eras, their lackluster performance continued. While the Browns have a history of making bad personnel decisions, the Browns tapped DePodesta not due to their situation, but rather out of the need for a guide in transforming their organization, and remaining competitive.
This article explores analytics, big data, and their impact in and outside of sports; and why the Browns joined countless organizations in exploiting the power of data.
The Analytics Machine Driving Modern Business
Analytics or business intelligence (BI) owes its substance to military intelligence and serves the same essential purpose. At every stage of a campaign, intelligence gives commanders a clear picture of battle with pros and cons of options. In business, leaders maintain a picture of operations and status, and the factors affecting outcome.
Before computer use in business, business intelligence primarily involved legal spying (like military spies). It began to mature by the 1800s when Richard Miller Devens wrote about a banker exploiting data to outperform competitors. In the 1950s, commercial computers hit markets, and modern business intelligence officially began. Hans Peter Luhn, an IBM researcher and leading computer scientist, created foundational business analytics systems, and laid the groundwork for analyzing and distributing documents. Some consider him the father of BI.
Business intelligence advancement developed parallel to computer technology development, exploiting every viable tool available to private organizations and individuals. Through various innovations, its main resources actually remained the same: big data, analysis applications, and statistical theory. Cultural shifts within business led to more and deeper business intelligence use. Business, like sports, possesses a macho culture with great minds exploiting their instincts and natural talent. This environment wrestled with accepting analysis, however, the cold, hard facts won them over, cementing and advancing its role.
Analytics In Action:
Virtually every industry employs analytics including, but not limited to the following examples.
– As it relates to marketing and advertising, analytics determine the effect of campaigns and channels including their ROI. – Analytics is widely used in politics to determine the best way to access, motivate and interact with political supporters. – Analytics is widely used in the military to understand the enemy or to go as far as anticipating or counter attacks. Some military applications even analyze an enemy’s facial expressions. – In medicine, along with improving profits and reducing waste, data predicts epidemics, aids in curing disease, and aids in avoiding preventable deaths.
IBM surveyed over 1,000 international executives from 67 countries. The survey reveals 63% of organizations achieve a positive return on analytics investment within one year, and 26% realize it in as little as 6 months. Businesses across sectors clearly recognize the transformative effect of analytics with customer service, operations efficiency, and financial or risk management as the main areas of application. Out of those surveyed, 49% of organizations report employing big data exceeded their expectations for returns, and 40% of organizations (up from 25% in 2013) focus analytics on operations.
CIO magazine surveyed over 300 professionals, and 65% credited analytics with driving business process change. These professionals represent manufacturing, financial services, telecoms, government, nonprofits, and healthcare. 100% of respondents stated their organization used analytics; furthermore, 57% claimed their organization would increase analytics spending.
Research has shown that more than 80% of the world’s major business leaders pursue big data projects to remain competitive.
Case Study: Nate Silver
Nate Silver, a statistician, skyrocketed to fame on the back of his baseball and election analysis. He initially became known for his PECOTA system, a statistical forecasting system for major league baseball player performance. His system grabbed the attention of major sports media entities and publications such as ESPN, the New York Times, and Sports Illustrated. Others recognized Silver’s talent after he correctly predicted 49 out of 50 states in the 2008 US presidential election. This earned him a spot on Time’s “100 Most Influential People” list. Four years later, he correctly predicted all 50 states in the 2012 election.
Quality data and analysis form the foundation of powerful analytics. The data must tell a story, and provide all the information needed to spot trends or support critical decisions. Any other data offers no insight. The size of big data proves its weakness and strength. Analysts unfortunately spend more time aggregating a sea of data than analyzing it. Many organizations also realize, like sports organizations, data analysts must partner with experts in the field to achieve quality analysis.
Rebuilding Cleveland’s Machine
Analytics might not get the Browns to the superbowl anytime soon, however, the organization has a different goal. They simply want to leverage an excellent resource in tuning operations, a move the NBA, MLB, and many other major leagues agree works. Many know about the general results of these efforts, but much of it remains hidden like the trade secrets of successful businesses.
Analytics on the Field
The Red Sox exploited analytics and emphasized on-base percentage, something which proved critical to developing a championship contender, and which currently fuels huge salaries. Nor (number of walks) caused baseball to reevaluate hitters and pitchers, and control the metric given its value both in prevention and draw. Analytics also caused a drop in base stealing attempts, which fell by 30% between 1993 and 2013. The NBA flocked to the 3-point corner shot on the strength of its performance in analysis, increasing the attempts by over 100 percent. Analysis also revealed optimal lineups and tactics.
Analytics offers more than game actions, and extends to player health. Many organizations use data to monitor, prevent, and manage injuries.
Data influences picks and coach selection, and goes even deeper. In football, a single statistic can be created to encapsulate the performance of a player, merging quantitative and qualitative characteristics. This aids in building a well-designed, devastating team instead of assembling a pack of men or women who display a bit of talent.
Analytics also goes further than the field and into more practical aspects of an organization’s business performance including areas like ticket sales and fan engagement. Data aids in reaching fans, supporters, and investors.
Ultimately, analytics make the Browns a stronger organization with better performance, a firmer foundation, and enhanced longevity in a competitive space. Despite this reality, a certain amount of reluctance exists in the NFL due to the very nature of the game. Many consider football too complex for analysis. Box score statistics accurately describe 90% of a baseball game compared with 40% of a football game, however, simple adjustments overcome this such as placing chips and sensors in football pads to gather data, or placing analysis equipment on the field (as in basketball and baseball).
The financial and cultural dynamic in the NFL also affects attitudes. The longtime owners of the NFL are extremely risk-averse, and along with owners who fear change, many coaches and managers also feel threatened. They fail to understand analytics as support for their decisions rather than a replacement for them.
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