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Friday, October 28, 2011

What's Hot in Digital Signage? Data-driven Content

Real-time, data-driven content answers consumer questions
It's interesting to see, in, that "data-driven content" is right up there in a recent "What's Hot?" article.  It's alongside NFC (near field communication) -- a much newer digital signage component providing for simplified transactions between two devices located in close proximity.

CPS has been providing data-driven content in our interactive touchscreen product, SalesTouch, since it was introduced.  We thought it made sense to display real-time information in every presentation.  Who wants to see old, outdated information? Or have to ask even the most basic questions?

Looking for a new home?  SalesTouch displays current inventory and pricing.  Interested in apartment living?  SalesTouch displays available units meeting your desired criteria (one bedroom, view of the river and on a higher floor).  Visiting the Navy Yard?  CPS' interactive map allows you to search through personnel, find their location and notify them of your arrival.

That's what data-driven content brings to digital signage!  Consumers find real answers to their questions.  An equally powerful component is seamless integration whereby data in one system (e.g., current inventory and unit pricing found in a third-party accounting application) displays in another (the SalesTouch interactive sitemap). Great to find out that this is considered HOT!

And, we can help with NFC, too!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

What type of imagery is more impactful: Product or Lifestyle?

CPS develops interactive touchscreen presentations for clients to use in customer-facing environments.  Our SalesTouch product (used in sales and leasing offices) frequently displays neighborhood amenities -- schools, shopping, dining, recreation, etc. 

We're often asked, "What do you think? Should we use pictures of the outside of the location or a map or something different?"
Wouldn't you like to find out more about living in this neighborhood?
The same question can be asked more generically, "What types of images motivate consumers: product or lifestyle?" since motivating a consumer decision is the ultimate objective of the image.

Opinions vary all over the map. 

Those advocating for "product" say that type of image creates a communications path and link with the product. 

Others suggest "lifestyle" saying those images can instantly illustrate an unrealized need in an uncomplicated fashion. 

In a somewhat informal poll, using marketing blogs, lifestyle appears to be the most prevalent.  Karl Adrian said it well, "Rule of thumb: first, sell the heart, then the mind, then the wallet with product benefits and pricing." 

What do you think?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Marketing and Packaging "Green"

Jobie Summer, with, presented her unique approach to "green" marketing based upon how consumers value and purchase "green" in a recent BuilderRadio discussion.
Whole Foods Market Customer Comment Board - multiple shades of green!
It's an eye-opener for businesses selling anything from consumer products to cards to new homes and everything in between.  Summer's approach suggests every seller re-examine their green "value-proposition" in terms of where their potential buyers sit on the "green" scale.  One "green" buyer, for example, will appreciate your LEED certification; another is far more interested in purchasing items impacting their lifestyle.  In other words, buyers motivated by "green" aren't motivated in the same manner and won't make similar purchase decisions.

Jobie suggests buyers fall into 1 of 4 "shades" of green:

(1) LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) - these buyers make decisions based on values, are the least price-sensitive and drive trends, encouraging others to try "green";
(2) Naturalities - buyers motivated by personal health and wellness objectives; they will pay for certain types of "green" products directly impacting their lifestyle ;
(3) Drifters - trends are important to these buyers yet they're not driven by community values; more price-sensitive; green needs to have personal connection;
(4) Conventionals - these buyers focus on the practical; want to see a community perspective as they focus on recycling, energy savings and the like.

What's "green" have to do with interactive touchscreens?  Using a touchscreen allows you to enhance your green footprint -- and respond to multiple "shades" of green.  Highlight your "conventional" green credentials by eliminating pre-printed brochures with the print on-demand functionality; direct attention to specific green components (e.g., carpet, paint, etc); highlight your green credentials through commentary, signage and video such as "behind the walls".

Friday, October 14, 2011

8 Marketing Changes...they're only 8?

It's been said that today's marketing world is experiencing a "revolution like never in its history" according to Loren McDonald.  He suggests there are 8 major marketing events or changes that we can't ignore. 

At the top of the list:

#1 - Customer Service is the new marketing; and
#2 - Customers become your marketing department.

They're related aren't they?  Customers -- in your store, on your website, in your sales office -- gather impressions and make decisions more quickly than ever.  Then, they're likely to Tweet, Facebook and otherwise distribute those impressions to their friends (in other words, their world!).  They're interacting with and influencing people you've never even had a chance to influence -- as well as those you've actively marketed and advertised to with carefully planned campaigns!

As a result, the the customer experience is critical.  Customer Service is no longer answering questions or processing returns in an efficient and friendly fashion; it's the entire experience that's under the microscope.   Making it memorable, unique and positive is key to growing your business and acquiring new customers.  Your customer "marketers" are influencing your market...and it's important (and exciting) to enable and encourage them to do some of your marketing for you.

Social media can't be pigeonholed -- it's not just communications or entertainment or advertising or marketing.  It is up to you to harness social media as your marketing partner as best possible -- and as uniquely as you're able. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Interactive Marketing: Keep your focus on dialogue

Interactive Marketing was recently defined by Forrester Research as the use of addressable channels like email, search, displays, social media, mobile and online video to sense and respond to customer needs.

Those engaged in interactive marketing face a number of challenges including "how do we really engage in dialogue ... in dynamic customer conversation?"

In other words, it's not all about broadcasting information ... interactive marketers have to engage customers, listen and respond in real time to their concerns. 

The Whole Foods Customer Comment Board (illustrated below) provides a unique insight into the concept of a "customer pioneer" as they're using an interactive touchscreen to actively solicit customer input and provide responses in real-time.

Forrester suggests a pioneer is the rare interactive marketer who obsesses about the customer and uses interactive channels as a means to foster an improved relationship with the customer.

In the tension between a channel vs. customer focus and push vs. dialogue interaction, the pioneer's focus is on impactful customer experience -- and technology is a key component in the solution.  We'll be talking more about the role of an interactive touchscreen in this focus on dialogue.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Consumerization of IT --- does that mean your organization, too?

Ray Wang recently published a great article in the July Harvard Business Review, Coming to Terms with the Consumerization of IT.  He pointed out that many corporate staffers work around computer technologies provided by their corporate IT department because they're easy to use and, frequently, push the technology envelope sooner.

SalesTouch: a 6S product providing the competitive edge!
A key point was that business leaders are driving technology purchasing.  Non-IT staff are hunting for applications that make sense for their business objectives and customers.  

Because, after all, you're the one responsible for the strategic advantage, the competitive edge, aren't you?

Wang mentions there's potential for "danger" with a business-driven approach to technology: that it might be less structured, orderly and efficient.  Of course, no one wants bug-infested, inefficient or incomplete products so..what's a business to do?  What about integration requirements, process management and all those IT services?

Wang suggests a couple of critical points: business and IT leaders need to realize consumerization is today and there's no going back.  Work together so your tech solutions meet the 6 "S" principles: simple, scalable, safe, secure, sustainable and sexy!!

Take a look at SalesTouch as a 6S product -- built upon Microsoft SQL Server and .NET technology delivers scalable, safe,secure and sustainable; CPS design and development delivers the simple and sexy components!

Monday, October 10, 2011

CPS QuikLine -- up and running!

Have you ever really thought how much time you spend waiting in line?  Here at CPS, we've been thinking a lot about lines, queues, queue theory and how specially designed software and appropriate hardware can enhance the process.
Opening Day!  There was a lot to wait in line for!
It's been said that today's competitive retail environment is pushing the envelope to enhance the last stage of the purchase process: the checkout line.

The concept of "queue management" has emerged as retailers work to enhance the customer experience while improving store efficiency and generating additional revenue from their properties.  Completing the "last transaction" in a timely and engaging fashion is finally being recognized as an important aspect of the consumer shopping experience.

No one likes waiting unnecessarily (so..reducing "wait time" is a winner for both shopper and retailer!) but there are other components associated with improving the "last transaction" that savvy retailers recognize: decreasing the number of "walk-aways", adding one or more "impulse buy" locations, and adding randomness to reduce register "no counts."

CPS' QuikLine was developed to provide several unique components to automated queue management: use of over-the-counter hardware (monitor, controllers, sound), integration with third-party applications (think: cash registers so QuikLine recognizes when a cashier is free), multimedia reminders (monitor, voice and display lights) and the ability to display promotional video and messaging. 

First installation: done & we'll be talking more about it!