Price Sensitivity

With gas prices higher than they’ve ever been (and the obvious consumer discontent associated) it got me thinking about the threshold that exists for price increases. Gas is obviously a commodity that people need to get around, but at what point do people get so frustrated with the cost that they look to alternative forms of transportation? In some cases high prices are bearable and not worth the additional effort necessary to change a daily routine. However; there has to be a threshold at which people decide enough is enough. In most cases that threshold will probably be dependent on the cost of switching to a different brand or in this example, method of transportation.

Often publishing companies that operate on a subscription model battle with the best approach to annual price increases. As a product’s readership decreases the price needs to increase to maintain consistent revenues. But at what point will the customers that purchase the product look for an alternative because the cost of the product is simply no longer worth the value they receive in return?

The Van Westendorp Price Sensitivity Meter is an approach to researching pricing that asks the following 4 key questions to set a range within which people will continue to purchase the product in question:

1) At what price do you begin to think a product is too expensive to consider?
2) At what price do you think a product is so inexpensive that you would question the quality and not consider it?
3) At what price do you think a product is getting expensive, but would still consider it?
4) At what price do you think the product is a bargain?

In the digital age, one thing publishers have struggled with is putting a value on “content”.    Most consumers expect that the cost of a book be significantly less on a tablet because there are no costs associated with a physical product.   By implementing a Van Westendorp Study, you can more effectively use customer feedback to set prices in the range that optimizes sales and keeps customers satisfied.

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Where Do You WANT to Be Five Years From Now

The Harvard Business Review published this article last week discussing a question we’ve all undoubtedly asked ourselves, “where will I be five years from now?”.

To me though, the more important question is “where do I want to be five years from now?”.   Whether you’re a student, an entrepreneur or the CEO of a fortune 500 company, your goals are only as good as the plan you put in place to achieve them. 

Over time circumstances will change and what you once believed would be you “five years from now” may not become your reality.  Where you are five years from now will depend on the path you take to get there and the critical decisions you make along the way.  As they say, you miss 100% of the shots you never take.  It’s easy to dream big, but it take guts to make it your mission to achieve them.

Going Viral

What makes a video go ‘viral‘?

As defined on Wikipedia, a viral video is “one that becomes popular through the process of internet sharing”.  It is one thing to suggest your marketing department create a video, but a completely different story to expect it to gain mass popularity.  Commercials today are so easily spread through various online channels that the word viral really just means popular.

Understanding what will resonate with your customers, while still providing a clear link to what your brand is all about, can be difficult.  There’s really no secret formula to creating a video that will catch your customers’ eyes other than a strong understanding of brand identify and a creative way to communicate it. 

In the video below, Sony combined its two strengths, audio and video (using an array of vibrant colours), to create one of the most successful videos of all time.  Who wouldn’t want to see what it would look like to release thousands of bouncy balls down the streets of San Francisco?

What’s your favourite viral video?

Spreading Ideas

Many of you have probably seen the ‘free hugs’ video on numerous occasions, used to illustrate the power of the Internet and ease of communication through online channels.

Today, the online space represents endless opportunity for passionate people to spread their ideas and make a difference. The online support for Haiti is a great example of this. Sites like YouTube have become both a source for information on Haiti’s condition as well as a platform for people to show their support for the devastated country.

With the tools available to us today, with a good idea or passion for a cause, anyone can truly make a difference.

The Internet and Search Engine Optimization

This weekend I came across some pretty staggering statistics regarding the state of the Internet. With internet use and information sharing more prominent than ever, search engine optimization (SEO) has become an increasingly important initiative for companies hoping to take advantage of the masses searching online.

There are many ways to improve your search engine optimization and many people claiming to know the most effective ways to do it. As an organizational decision maker it is important that you understand different techniques being used by SEO marketing professionals and what your company can do doing to improve its online positioning.

For example, we should all be aware of the differences between black hat and white hat SEO and the implications of their implementation within an online marketing strategy.

Black hat tactics, such as ‘stuffing’ Meta Tags and hiding links, tend to achieve quicker results, but are less effective long term. Search engines will look out for spammed Meta Tags and are likely to penalize those who engage in black hate SEO regularly. White hat techniques are generally free of deception and conform to search engine guidelines. While they may take more time, the long term results will have a much more positive impact on your company’s goals. A few examples of white hat tactics include; quality content, keyword research and effective keyword use and quality inbound links.

For a more full comparison of these techniques and the ethical implications of black hat SEO, click here.

It’s extremely important that you take the necessary steps to improving your company’s search rankings, but also important to remember that there ARE ways to do it without hiring a consultant. Increasing your company’s online presence can be as simple as engaging in social media platforms and creating backlinks to your corporate site. Many organizations are missing out by not engaging in social media because they don’t recognize the hidden search related benefits of being involved in the web on a wider scale.

How Can We Predict What’s Next?

At the 2007 EG Conference, Kevin Kelly discussed the first 5000 days of the web and what we could expect for the next 5000.

Consider the developments that have been made, even since Kevin Kelly made this presentation over two years ago. It’s impossible to predict exactly what’s next, yet essential to remain up to date on developments and adaptable to change as it occurs. By doing so, you give yourself the chance to pick up on trends and capitalize on opportunity before others recognize the potential.

Live for Today

Today I had the privilege of seeing Mitch Joel speak at the annual HRPA Conference in Toronto.  Mitch is the President of Montreal based digital marketing firm, Twist Image and author of Six Pixels of Separation.  He is a well known expert in his field and provided some good insight to digital communications and how the online landscape allows people to connect with one another in ways we’ve never seen before.  

Some interesting facts from his presentation:

1.  Banner ad clicks have dropped 50% since 2007.

This does not mean that customers cannot be effectively reached online.  It does; however, mean that traditional forms of marketing may not be as effective.

2.  81% of online holiday shoppers read customer reviews online.

People have always talked, but now people have the ability to broadcast their thoughts to millions of potential customers around the world. 

3.  20% of searches made on google everyday have never been searched before.

A mind-blowing statistic.  Mitch pointed out that most companies would go crazy if they didn’t know where 20% of their business was coming from.

4.  Over half of YouTube’s audience is over 34 years of age.

Companies that think they can avoid having an online presence because their customers are older need to quickly re-evaluate.  Studies have also shown a shocking number of grandparents on Facebook as well. 

I was probably most impacted; however, by a comment Mitch made early on in his presentation.  He discussed how many people look at an evolution like the iPad and immediately begin thinking about ‘what’s next’ for Apple.  People are always looking towards the future and very easily lose track of the present and what current technologies mean to their businesses.

What’s going on now is more important than the future. 

What’s happening now will impact your business going forward and if you’re too busy thinking about how to keep pace for tomorrow, you’ll be sure to miss the boat today.