147 posts categorized

October 08, 2015

6 Halloween Marketing Ideas for SMBs


Everyone’s favorite spook-tactular holiday is approaching, and with it comes the opportunity to drive more customers to your small business. Check out a few of the super-cool Halloween-related possibilities for small business marketing to implement while you enjoy the beautiful fall season: 


Welcome Trick-or-Treaters

Participate in a trick-or-treat event with other area businesses, or simply welcome costumed tykes into your store. Put treats that relate to your business in bags, such as candy featuring your business name, pencils, erasers, small note pads, and pencils. Kids love getting small toys in addition to candy, so feel free to be as creative as you want.


Create a Haunted House

Turn your business into a haunted attraction, and have your employees dress up as various ghosts and goblins. For example, if you have a retail business with aisles of merchandise, turn each aisle into its own special “haunt.” Encourage employees to get really creative with their costumes, which they’ll be all about if they love Halloween. Provide a discount that’s attractive to parents bringing their kids to your business, such as 10 or 15 percent off certain merchandise. Giving away coupons to customers upon their completion of a haunted house is also a fun possibility. 


Offer a Halloween Promotion

Send email coupons or codes to customers that are only good on or around Halloween. Text message codes are another possibility. Decorate your store as extensively as you want—or as much as your budget allows—to further draw people in and look for decorations in dollar and “five below” stores. Dress up in a creative costume and have employees do the same, which again they’ll likely be excited about. 


Hold a Costume Exchange

Show your dedication to the community by hosting a costume exchange. It’s not only a great way for customers and potential customers to cull and subsequently procure new costumes for cheap, but it’s also a way to familiarize locals with what you offer. Besides, people will likely jump at the chance to get rid of old masks of politicians and find something fun without spending a small fortune. Halloween costumes are expensive, after all!


Throw a Halloween Party

Make your business Halloween party central! Host an open house that allows consumers to learn more about your business while enjoying mystery punch and pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies. Designate a section for games, which will keep kiddies occupied, and offer freebies such as temporary tattoos, face painting, and of course plenty of candy. Ensure party-goers leave with goodie bags that feature more freebies and lots of information about your business, including business cards. For best results, make certain all freebies feature your business name and contact information. 

These are just some of the many ways to use Halloween to your small business’s marketing advantage. Have fun and get creative, and don’t forget to ask employees for their input and help. Most people love Halloween, and are excited to participate in anything involving the spooky holiday. Have fun! 

October 02, 2015

How to Identify the Right Mobile Niche for Your Brand


Businesses that are succeeding today are using mobile technology to do so. They’re harnessing the power of mobile apps, mobile search, and text messaging to tap into consumers’—and other businesses’—demands. They’re also embracing mobile technology because it is effective, and it can no longer be ignored. Gone are the days when businesses could afford to forgo mobile technology due to cost or lack of understanding. Today, whether you’re already using mobile technology to advertise and grow your business, or are new to the game, you need to be identifying the right niche for your brand and reaching out.

To identify the right mobile niche for your brand, you first need to determine who your customers are, what devices they’re using, and how they’re utilizing mobile technology. Then, you need to position yourself as a company that’s mobile friendly and knowledgeable, and you need to supply what your customers are demanding.

Let’s take a look at a few ways in which businesses are identifying the correct mobile niches for their brands and seeing success:


When Public Opinion Matters

Mobile marketing to smartphones and tablets can help build a brand’s reputation or save one that’s damaged. The right mobile marketing techniques can increase customer count and shift negative perceptions of a company. 

Take, for instance, a business like a hotel or restaurant. These types of companies are prone to receiving negative feedback from disgruntled customers, many of whom document their anger and frustration online. These businesses benefit from mobile customer service techniques that bring a warm and fuzzy feeling back to the customer. Mobile marketing in these circumstances can include texting discount codes to customers and offering easy booking from tablets and smartphones. 

Brands that have been associated with more traditional marketing techniques, like banking, can utilize mobile marketing strategies to appear more contemporary and current. Recently, we’ve seen an increase in the number of banks offering mobile banking as a way to keep customers satisfied. Businesses that want to compete today need to be where their customers are. And, they’re on their mobile devices.


Mobile Devices to Meet a Specific Need 

Along with the rapid increase in mobile device usage, we’re seeing an increase in the types of mobile devices available and their usage possibilities. This is making it easier for businesses to come up with products and services specifically targeted to help other companies. 

New and unique niche market opportunities have arrived because of the ease of use of mobile devices. Crime scene investigators, trucking companies, and even pavement manufacturers are making the most of mobile technology and offering solutions that have never seemed possible. Those investigating crimes can use software applications to scan tablets and smartphones for important information. Truck drivers’ driving behavior, speed, and other stats can be monitored by their company via tablet. Sensors embedded in pavement can now be monitored, and tests can be analyzed easily via mobile technology.

Today, mobile technology offers opportunities for nearly all businesses—you just have to find the right method for you.

September 30, 2015

SMS Is Helping Women in Kenya Track Their Pregnancies


In remote areas of east Africa, regular healthcare for expecting mothers is hard to find. Nairobi, Kenya, for example, is desperately impoverished; the infant mortality rate in this region is one of the highest in Africa, with 40 out of 1000 babies not living past infancy. This is a story Malele Ngalu, marketing director for Kenya-based Totohealth, laments on a personal level. 

Ngalu was born in Africa; his mother faced medical disadvantages that resulted in the loss of his twin brother shortly after birth. Today, Ngalu has teamed up with Felix Kimaru, founder of Totohealth, a free SMS text service to help mothers and their infant children during a five-year program.  

Kimaru has raised more than $50,000 to get his startup off the ground and implemented in several rural areas throughout east Africa. Nairobi was one of the first areas Kimaru and Ngalu tackled, sampling the service to 2,000 parents.

According to Ngalu, most parents don’t realize their infant is sick until it’s too late. 

“We asked the parents why they did not bring the children in when they saw they had a problem, and they said they didn’t know there was one,” he said.


Texting for Health

To combat this problem, Kimaru has developed content to be delivered on a weekly basis via text message. The content relates to various developmental stages (up to the age of 5) as well as women’s health. The texts also advise regular checkups and include ready access to a help desk, where trained medical doctors and nurses are available to answer questions, as well as refer parents to nearby clinics or hospitals.

Since its launch early last year, Totohealth has seen significant user growth across the continent. Word of mouth from the original 2,000 users helped double the number of parents actively using the service in nearly 30 different countries. 

Unlike most developed countries, providing this service via app is not yet possible in east Africa—the infrastructure just doesn’t exist yet. 

“Even in low income settings like Kibera, the majority of people have basic phones,” said Ngalu.  

Most basic phones have the ability to receive and send text messages, so for the time being, SMS is the best way to deliver the information as well as track patient progress.  

According to Kimaru, the parents who use the service have a 96 percent likelihood of attending every recommended checkup and appointment. These kinds of results are getting the attention of large groups like the World Health Organization. 

The other advantage to using text is that it’s relatively inexpensive, costing only about 25 cents a month per user. Right now, county governments are footing the bill for the service, hoping that government policy and social awareness will help drive further change to reform maternal programs.  

Kimaru is looking to raise another $300,000 in funding to expand Totohealth’s operations throughout other parts of Africa. 

September 28, 2015

Short Messaging Service as a Short Story Service?


People already read books and stories on their Kindles and assorted tablets, but what about reading fiction on a phone? Hooked is a new fiction app for those who always wished they could read a story on a smaller device, such as a—wait for it—smartphone. 

Hooked is the tech baby of husband-and-wife team Parag Chordia and Prerna Gupta. Chordia and Gupta are the people behind Telepathic, a brand-new startup that has so far raised $1.2 million in new funding, bringing its total to $1.9 million. Investors include Greylock, 500 Startups, and angel investors such as Doug Feirstein of Hired and Rick Marini of BranchOut. Gupta and Chordia have previously collaborated on Khush, the app development platform resulting in Songify. It was acquired by competitor Smule in 2011.


Benefits of the Technology 

Gupta touts Hooked as “Twitter for fiction,” though the app has already been likened to a mobile-first version of Wattpad. Hooked is a free app providing a free story every day, with unlimited access available via a $2.99 per week subscription. All fiction found within Hooked is original and comes to the user in dialogue form, just as with text messages. Future Hooked incarnations will include the ability to follow favorite authors and give users the chance to post their own stories.  

"Our whole goal is to have the reader go through an entire narrative arc in five minutes and consume it in a way that's native to mobile," says Gupta. "The idea of telling a story through dialogue is not new. There's actually a long tradition of epistolary literature. Bram Stoker's Dracula, which is one of my favorite books, is told as letters back and forth between the two main characters. And scripts are primarily dialogue." 

Gupta and Chordia aren’t resting on their proverbial laurels. After taking a year to travel, the creative couple started working on a sci-fi novel called The Starlings, which takes place in the Silicon Valley 100 years from now. Writing the novel provided Gupta and Chordia with the perspective they needed in regards to the “business of fiction.”  

“The idea was if we were going to spend our time doing this, we want to give ourselves the best shot at reaching a mass audience—reaching the kind of scale that we've reached with our apps, previously," Gupta says. "So the more we looked into how good books are identified, how they're distributed and monetized, we realized there was a lot of scope for innovation in fiction." 

Gupta also notes that 80 percent of young adult readers utilize digital devices. Add that to the fact that 85 percent of adults ages 18 to 29 own a smartphone and you’ve got a great platform for story apps.  

“The way that we consume fiction today, you read five minutes here, 10 minutes there, you're on the go, it's easy to lose your place,” she says. “So this idea of a book that's 100,000 words, that's sort of this wall of text that's presented on a small screen, it felt like there was a way to rethink that from the perspective of a mobile app developer."


September 13, 2015

8 Apps to Get You Through NY Fashion Week


“There’s an app for that.”  

These words now apply to the fashion industry, with numerous apps cropping up to help fashion addicts get more of what they love. Let’s look at a few of the many nifty apps to take full advantage of during New York Fashion Week


Fashion’s Night Out

Fashion’s Night Out is an app from Vogue that makes it easy to decide which fashion-tastic after-party to attend while enjoying the famous New York event. The app customizes recommendations based on your favorite stores as well as your current location so you get where you need to go without walking a long distance in high heels, or missing shindigs featuring favorite duds. 



Milk is one of New York Fashion Week’s premier hosts, and created a companion app to help you navigate the ins and outs of the runway. The app streams images of models as they saunter down said runway, and can sync with the show you’re attending by listening to the room’s audio. Interesting... and a tad creepy?


Lifebooker App 

Lifebooker’s super-cool app is a great thing to have during fashion week, as it provides access to fantastic discounts on manicures, facials, and haircuts. It also offers discounts on local restaurants and entertainment options so you can make it a (relatively) inexpensive evening out. 



If you’ve been fascinated with runway models since the heyday of Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, and Naomi Campbell, you’ll love Modelinia. The app gives access to model “stats” as well as their coolest beauty, travel, and fashion tips.  



Svpply is likened to “polyvore for grown-ups,” as it’s a wishlist creation platform that’s also an app. It allows you to follow new products available through most-favorite stores and organize wishlists by category—up to 30 categories, to be exact.


AHA Life 

Want to “shop the world’s most unique designers and artisans” via mobile device? AHA Life is the app for you. It makes it possible to shop over 1,000 designers and artisans in more than 45 countries, and is curated by Tim Gunn and the one and only Diane Von Furstenberg. Find favorite fashions, as well as foods, purses and wallets, books, headphones, and a slew of other great items.



Hailed as “the Instagram of fashion,” Trendabi gives users the opportunity to share pictures of their most style-tastic outfits and tag them according to the store, label, or price. Comment and like favorite ensembles, and get inspiration for new looks. 



Looking to do a bit of urban streetwear blog-consolidating? ChicFeed does the work for you by providing a feed of the latest Fashion Week streetwear images. 


September 11, 2015

Make the Most of Grandparents Day



The ultimate sleeper holiday for savvy marketers, Grandparents Day (September 13th) is somewhat overlooked, slipping under the radar less than a week after Labor Day. 

Why don’t more businesses capitalize on it? After all, who are we talking about here? A significant portion of grandparents are Baby Boomers, the generation with 70% of the disposable income in the United States (according to The generation representing 35% of the population, with spending power projected to reach $15 trillion by the decade’s end.  

For marketers, this is the grandmother-lode. Not only do Baby Boomers have the money and inclination to spend it, they’re easier to reach than many people assume. Daily, 71% of Boomers spend time online daily. More than half are on Facebook, and two thirds regularly use SMS messaging. When it comes to mobile marketing tactics, that about covers all the bases. 

What’s interesting about this spending power is how it’s wielded. We already know that children are influencers and parents are buyers. Grandparents have double the number of generations beneath them, buying for their children and - even more lavishly - for their children’s children. Boomers spend $52 billion on their grandchildren before they’ve even got round to buying for themselves (and get around to it they do!). Clearly, we should be focusing much more attention on Grandparents Day. Let’s consider Boomer spending in two distinct forms: for themselves, and for their descendants…


Spending on Themselves

Baby Boomers are probably the wealthiest generation in history - and they’re not afraid to spend their hard-earned cash. Over the past year, 36% of Boomers have attended at least one sporting event; 22% went to the theater; 14% visited an art museum; 12% went to a rock concert. They’re also 11% more likely than the rest of the adult population to have eaten at a steakhouse or seafood restaurant in the last month. Apparently. Add to that the increased spending on holidays, cars and other forms of entertainment, and you have a pretty lucrative market.


Spending on Their Kids… and their Kids’ Kids

Tapping into the grandparent/grandchild relationship is the smart move for marketers. Get Boomers excited about mobile apps - they’re quick and easy to purchase, and the grandkids will probably prefer it to traditional toys. Use social media to differentiate the desires of children of all ages.

Remember, Baby Boomers are a lot more tech savvy than you might think. Furthermore, they know their grandkids are digital natives, and they want to engage with them on a technological level. They have the money to spend on themselves and their offspring, so why not devise a mobile marketing campaign that encourages cross-generational engagement? Happy Grandparents Day!

September 05, 2015

5 Ways to Mobil-ize Your Fall Marketing Strategy


As kids return to school and tans start to fade, you know summer is officially over. For mobile marketing campaign managers, the shifting seasons provide an ideal opportunity to regroup and devise some thematically-appropriate ideas. To help you, we’ve put together some mobile marketing tactics sure to boost revenues during Fall…


Autumn-ate Your Website

Give your homepage a Fall makeover to show your audience that you are up to the minute. A themed blog post or two can - if this one is anything to go by - will give you fresh, topical content! 


Think of the Children!

Offer school-related special offers and promotions. If you’re in clothing retail, push seasonal outfits - try the local college campus to reach students, and give them discounts to engender brand loyalty.


Support Local Sports Events

Most of the major sports seasons kick or tip off during Fall. Capitalize on this by getting involved with your local team. Many large high schools have established, sponsored athletics programs, and small schools currently lacking something similar might be amenable to you approaching them with ideas. Of course, sponsorship requires an outlay of money, the return on which may not be easy to track. One thing you can be sure of: if you get your name attached to a team, there’s a guaranteed weekly audience for the rest of the season. If you’ve got the budget to go all out with free t-shirts, samples and coupons, it could turn into a lucrative long-term partnership.


Thematic Social Media Engagement

As with your website, letting your audience know that you’re constantly in tune with current events will project a positive brand image. Use social media to engage your audience, and share seasonal links and special offers. Social media is a great tool for receiving feedback, so listen to what your audience has to say and respond in kind.


Mark the Main Events

Fall is punctuated by two main holidays: Halloween and Thanksgiving. You’d be crazy to ignore these massive commercial opportunities, so make sure your office does something for each. If appropriate for your business, why not run a Trick or Treat day for kids? Encourage your workforce to dress up, and document the event for sharing on social media. When Thanksgiving rolls around, send out cards to your customers to let them know you’re grateful for their business.

Making the most of Fall is easy with mobile. You can easily scale up a mobile marketing strategy that seemed to work at the micro level, and if you want to keep everything low-budget, there is still much you can do - you just have to get creative. 


September 04, 2015

MiTu Goes Mobile Following Acquisition of Video Company


On April 30, HIP Entertainment Group launched MiTu—a bilingual network that’s part of a digital multi-platform initiative aimed at capturing contemporary Latin/Hispanic millennials—on Youtube. Network executives like Beatriz Acevedo, as well as Doug Greiff, partner and chief creative officer, are looking to capitalize on a growing Latino audience as well as an increasingly mobile one. 

This month, MiTu announced the launch of it’s own technology platform that will work in unison with MiTu’s recently acquired mobile video company, Lightt. Lightt’s video platform allows users to generate unique video content, edit and share videos with other users.

According to MiTu’s website, “We reach millions every day through video and social content on more than 1,500 YouTube channels, nearly 5,000 social channels, and leading destinations for today's Latino millennials and content creators.”


What MiTu Offers 

The new technology platform will allow users to discover, upload, and manage creators and social commentary from multiple sites like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

The platform will also help MiTu better understand growing analytical data on the 100 million global users. With this data, MiTu will be better equipped to manage advertising and monetize content across various platforms. 

According to Roy Burstin, MiTú's CEO, “…Our expanded technology ecosystem... gives us the ability to offer a data-driven approach to both our influencers and our brand and media partners.” 

The partnerships he’s referring to include Discovery, Spanish-language network Televisa, AOL, and Univision as well as brands like Microsoft, Pepsi, Bud Light, and Ford.

It’s an empowering sentiment that MiTu sees a value in proliferating Latino/Hispanic content to this underrepresented group in popular media. Developing the technology platform and increasing the visibility of these content creators and social influences will hopefully allow their voices to be more equally represented in the democratic space of online content. 

Alex Mostoufi, MiTu’s chief technology officer and founder of Lightt, said the users are highly creative and engaged in media creation. 

“We are building a platform that is truly state-of-the-art in digital media," he added.

On the other hand, the smarter these analytical tools get while spreading user-generated content, the more accessible this market will become to advertisers and other marketing schemes across emerging mobile platforms.

So while it’s terrific to empower the underrepresented, it’s likely not in the best interest of those it seeks to represent—Mitu likely serves a different master in the market economy.

September 03, 2015

Infographic: Tackling the Flu with Text Messaging

The flu virus costs our economy billions each year. By promoting vaccinations for workers and children, it's possible to reduce the number of sick days and alleviate the annual burden placed on the healthcare system. We've put together an infographic that highlights the scale of the problem and demonstrates the role text messaging can play in increasing vaccination rates...


September 01, 2015

Infographic: How Mobile Has Transformed Education

In 2015, the vast majority of American teenagers have access to some kind of mobile device, and most classrooms provide Internet connectivity. Textbooks have been replaced by tablets and e-readers, and new apps are constantly being developed to help our young people learn more effectively. There's no doubt about it: within a generation, technology has made education practically unrecognizable to those of us who  attended school with nothing more sophisticated than a calculator...