The BIG Reason Why You Need Agile Marketing Now!

Agile marketing and the Zebworks™ Agile Marketing Framework were developed to deliver complete customer focus, swift execution cycles, robust measurement and constant improvement. 

But why do you need it?

The velocity of change has never been faster!

New Technologies

Everyday a new software as as service (SaaS), new permutations of CRM platforms that cross social media platforms, content aggregation platforms, analytics platforms etc etc. Then there are new devices in a zillion different form factors: mobile (which phone do you use and what size is it and what do you use it for?). Tablets, ditto! Laptops ditto! Google glass...well we’ll see about that. Bottom line what do you invest in now to ensure relevance tomorrow?

New Social Networks Everyday

Social networks are popping up -- and collapsing like Top 40 hits! The old standards: Facebook & Linkedin are so blah they are hardly relevant. (When was the last time you heard “Button Up Your Overcoat” and if you heard it would deign to tap your foot? Facebook fatigue is here.) How will you know where your customers will flock next?

Accelerated Market Commoditization

There was always someone who sold your product or service cheaper, but now your customers can find them fast!

Unexpected Competition

Just ten short years ago XM and Sirius Satellite radio blasted off their satellites and provided a zillion digital audio channels seamlessly across country. It was so impressive Howard Stern left broadcast radio, went to Sirius and sunk a ton of money into the company. Sirius and XM were locked in a competitive grip with each other, signing up car manufacturers and subscribers as fast as they could. Little did they realize they were in a double death grip – neither was the other’s true competition. The Internet, wifi and 3G were. Hello Pandora. Who is your Pandora? That question should be making you very anxious right now!

In the past departments working in silos would have been dealing with these issues separately: IT, new technologies; Marketing, new social networks; Executive Management, market commoditization -- and NONE would have seen the unexpected competition coming!

Agile marketing (and the Zebworks framework) is a new way of working. Swift, independent, measuring results, refining and improving your approach as you move forward. But most importantly it demands cross-discipline teams and team members who not only want, but are HUNGRY to learn about each other’s disciplines. Technologists who want to understand marketing and business strategy. Marketers who understand the impacts of their fabulous ideas on technology and budgets. Executive management who know more than just enough to be dangerous when it comes to marketing and technology.

Working together and being Agile, they will not only see Pandora, they will know how to pivot to vanquish her!

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Stand out in the Social Media Crowd - A fast guide to becoming a social media player

Social Media is part of our modern way of living and the stats tell the story: 91% of online adults use social media, thus, businesses can’t ignore this medium anymore. However, in order to succeed it’s important that you have a social media objective for your business, that you align that objective with your resources, that you focus your efforts where your audience is and that your communication plan is targeted according to the social medium. Every effort must be carefully measured to determine the level of success, what works and what doesn’t and what provides ROI.

The myriad of social networks and the marketing hype is overwhelming even to the most sophisticated.  And this often leads to the assumption that businesses must be on every social media platform to succeed. And that, is so overwhelming, that most throw up their hands and say “Why bother? There is no way we can do that.” What many do not realize is that success is not found in being an ace at on every platform out there (truly an impossible task if ever there was one!) But success comes in choosing the right platforms and participating in a measured, thoughtful and relevant approach. 

Social media cannot be ignored. In the Fall of 2012, 91% of all adults used social media regularly and spent 22.5% of their time online. Social media is the new television. By contrast, only 27% of small and 34% of mid-size business are using social media and 25% of them do not have any social media strategy. To make matters worse, on average only 30% of fans’ feedback are responded to by companies and 56% of customer tweets to companies are ignored. Business is losing a tremendous opportunity to engage with customers and prospects. But, where to begin?

Each social network has a unique purpose: connect with friends and family, connect with professional peers, news, photo sharing, even games and TV. When you decide your business must be on a social network, you’re asking your audience to connect, engage and share with your brand. This requires that you give something back to them in return.  To do this effectively you must choose your spot and throw your resources behind being the best on the platform where your customers and prospects spend their time.

1) Determine why you want to be in a social environment. It’s important to determine your objective. Do you want to generate sales? To increase brand awareness? To provide customer service? To increase customer retention and loyalty? You name it. The objective you choose will determine where to focus your social media presence, how you do it and how you measure your success.

2) Evaluate the resources you’ll need to achieve your objective. There is the common misconception that social media is a free medium, where in reality it’s a very expensive one. As a matter of fact, you’ll need a lot of resources (a.k.a people) with different talents, depending on your objectives.  For starters, you’ll need good writers and communicators that understand your business and products. If your products and services can be visually demonstrated, the use of video is a great way to communicate and for that you’ll need video production and editorial talents. If you have a highly conceptual  service, a video or slide share presentation can help organize and simplify your services; in this case you would need Powerpoint and video edit talents in addition to great communicators on your team. You might not have all these talents on staff and you might not need to. Before you go outside, consider which departments in your company will contribute to your social media effort. Then train your staff to answer your audience in an intelligent, problem-solving and professional manner. Lastly, hire outsource talent to perform tasks for which you cannot justify adding a full-time person on staff.

3) Discover where your customers gather online. Your social objective will guide you here too. If you want to connect with brand advocates try Facebook, if you want to visually inspire your audience start a Pinterest board. If you need to connect with top-level executives start with LinkedIn. Find your target audience, align it with your social objective and get involved. A good starting place is to look where your competitors are and how they are working that medium.

4) Determine KPIs before you start. Determine the KPIs (key performance indicators) for your program before begin. Generally the amount of “likes” and “shares” are used as a measure of success, but that data alone is a mediocre measure. A much more powerful KPI is data that can be linked to revenue. You need to concentrate your measurement and analytics time on data the impacts the bottom line. For example, an increasing trend on page fans as it relates to new leads, or shares to new leads.  Or direct contacts from your social media pages that impacted revenue or customer service. 

5) Create a plan for each channel! People who repurpose content in the same format across all social media are not giving prospects and clients a compelling reason to fan their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter, subscribe to their YouTube channel or link to them on LinkedIn. Remember, each social network has a purpose and an audience, therefore it is important that you have a content plan for each channel you decide to invest your resources in. And, most importantly, don’t forget to engage with your audience by replying to their questions and comments in a timely fashion. 

 

Stats reference

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Agile Marketing 101 and The Zebworks™ Framework set Your Agile Course!

EngagementThe Agile Marketing buzz has been building. I thought it would be a good idea to provide some grounding in the hype. Here is quick agile marketing summary and a helpful guide for those of you who are interested in testing the agile marketing waters: Zebworks, an agile marketing framework that is a practical guide for its implementation. (You can download the Zebworks Guide for free here.)

Anthony Freeling the author of Agile Marketing, How to Innovate Faster, Cheaper and With Lower Risk and one of the earliest writers on the topic of Agile Marketing has redefined marketing to address today’s high speed and changing environment:

Marketing is the process of creating and communicating winning offers that profitably attract customer spend in an uncertain market environment. It does this by:

  • Shaping the market environment through innovation
  • Adapting to changes in the environment, and 
  • Beating the competition

Freeling’s definition forms a springboard into the concept of Agile Marketing. Agile Marketing was developed to address our new changing marketing landscape. A landscape that is experiencing a head-exploding rate of change. 

Agile, on its own, is a management process that dates back to the late 1980’s. And it is one that software developers embraced for the same reasons that it has become appropriate for the marketing discipline. Developers were faced with fast-paced change. By the time they completed their projects, using an orderly sequential methodology, their software products were no longer suited the needs of the customer.

The Agile Manifesto was written to address this environment and to change the way organizations functioned:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

And Scrum, the most well-known of the Agile frameworks for programmers, brought more shape to Agile. Written by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland it has become a proven methodology for software product development.

The concept of Agile Marketing borrows from the Agile Manifesto, here is the recently published Agile Marketing Manifesto:

  • Validated learning over opinions and conventions
  • Customer focused collaboration over silos and hierarchy
  • Adaptive and iterative campaigns over Big-Bang campaigns
  • The process of customer discovery over static prediction
  • Flexible vs. rigid planning
  • Responding to change over following a plan
  • Many small experiments over a few large bets

Though a bit repetitive and not as elegantly simple as the original, the Agile Marketing Manifesto makes its point: flexibility trumps rigidity. Validated data trumps opinion.

Theory is lovely, but how do we put this all into practice?

Zebworks was developed in 2010 by myself and the Camarès team. We are a marketing firm that has promoted technology companies for decades and as a result we had been compelled into highly streamlined workflows.

Zebworks was based on that experience as a framework for swift, sustainable a web development leveraging interdisciplinary teams. Highly pragmatic in its approach, Zebworks provided a sustainable approach to web development designed to withstand the chaotic Internet environment. It was delivered in 10 modules totaling 6.5 hours of in depth videos. Later, it came to light that many of the original Zebworks principals aligned cleanly with Agile.  Zebworks has since been expanded to include marketing in general and refined as a framework for Agile Marketing.

Zebworks can be seen as “Scrum” for marketers, but with defined workflows and greater specificity.  Being practitioners working in the marketing trenches, Zebworks is a direct out come of our work. It brings granular specifics and how-to information to the Agile process. 

This Zebworks Guide is free and serves as an overview of the layout and process involved in Zebworks. Subsequent guides will provide further granularity on specific marketing, design and web development projects and workflows.

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Código Aberto Vs Solução Personalizada - Qual é a melhor solução? Um guia para escolher entre soluções de código aberto e soluções personalizadas.

 

Plan Por Denise Maia

Pequenas e médias empresas encaram o mesmo dilema quando pensam em construir um novo website: devemos usar um gerenciador de conteúdo (CMS) de código aberto como, por exemplo, Joomla, Wordpress e Drupal, ou devemos começar do zero? Qual é o melhor? Qual é o mais econômico? Qual irá causar menos “dor de cabeça” durante o desenvolvimento? Qual vai transformar melhor minhas ideias em realidade? E, finalmente, qual vai proporcionar a melhor rentabilidade?

Construir um site do zero é uma ótima maneira de conseguir todos os recursos e adereços necessários e da maneira que você quiser. Soluções web personalizadas são muito flexíveis, pois você determina a aparência, as funcionalidades, as ferramentas, os mecanismos de interatividade, a interface administrativa, relatórios e integração com software de terceiros, como ferramentas de gestão de relacionamento com o cliente (CRM), ferramentas de otimização de marketing, dentre outras. No entanto, toda essa flexibilidade tem um custo. O custo pode ser muito alto, especialmente se você não reservar um tempo para se planejar. Há, ainda, o problema relacionado à contratação da equipe de desenvolvimento adequada, que entenda sua visão, suas necessidades e que seja completamente capaz de concluir o projeto dentro do orçamento, no prazo estabelecido e de acordo com suas especificações.

A alternativa, geralmente considerada como a menos onerosa, é usar um sistema de gerenciamento de conteúdo (CMS). As plataformas de CRM podem ser de código aberto, ou seja “gratuitas”, como, por exemplo, Joomla, Wordpress e Drupal, ou podem ser soluções comerciais, como, por exemplo, Sitefinity e Sitecore, ou até mesmo CMS para um setor da indústria que ofereça soluções específicas para o referido setor. No entanto, para este post, vou me concentrar somente nas plataformas de código aberto, também conhecidas como open source, que têm, atualmente, ganhado grande popularidade.

À primeira vista, o software de código aberto provém muitas funcionalidades gratuitamente. A funcionalidade principal de um gerenciador de conteúdo (CMS) é permitir que pessoas não técnicas facilmente adicionem novas páginas e atualizem o conteúdo de um site. Isso é um atrativo para as empresas que pagam por cada atualização de conteúdo, pois permite que as empresas façam inúmeras e frequentes atualizações sem custo adicional. Na verdade, o software de código aberto abaixou drasticamente o custo que as empresas pagavam por esse tipo de tarefa que agora podem ser feitas internamente.

No entanto, os websites atuais exigem cada vez mais sofisticação e funcionalidades cativantes. Nós, como usuários finais, esperamos sofisticação porque cada vez mais sites usam carrosséis, efeitos light box, vídeos e entre outros. Porém, a funcionalidade padrão de um gerenciador de conteúdo de código aberto constitui somente o próprio gerenciador de conteúdo, e não funções específicas que serão definitivamente necessárias para seu site e, de acordo com minha experiência, é nesse momento que nos deparamos com complexidades e custos.

As funcionalidades adicionais são alcançadas através da instalação de plugins, que são programas escritos por outros desenvolvedores a fim de aumentar a funcionalidade padrão dos CMS. É a partir da escolha do plugin correto de uma fonte confiável que os custos começam:

  • Existem muitos plugins gratuitos, mas é bem provável que você tenha que comprar alguns deles, Tic Tim!
  • Independentemente de o plugin escolhido ser gratuito ou comercial, será necessário que o mesmo seja instalado por um desenvolvedor, Tic Tim!
  • É provável que você tenha algum problema de compatibilidade, Tic Tim!
  • É provável que os plugins não funcionem exatamente da forma descrita ou da forma que você deseja ou precisa que eles funcionem, Tic Tim!
  • É possível que você tenha que procurar outro plugin, customizar um plugin existente ou construir um plugin do zero. Tic Tim! Tic Tim! Tic Tim!

Há outro problema no que diz respeito aos plugins, quanto mais plugins você adicionar ao seu site, mais chances de incompatibilidade você terá quando tiver que atualizar o CMS de código aberto. Agora você deve estar pensando: “Tudo bem, não vamos fazer nenhuma atualização!”, mas o detalhe é que a atualização do software de código aberto é a sua primeira defesa contra problemas de segurança. Manter seu CMS atualizado é absolutamente necessário para que você possa ter um site tecnicamente estável.

Os plugins são um mal necessário quando usamos um gerenciador de conteúdo de código aberto e, para que o custo de desenvolvimento seja minimizado, eles devem ser cuidadosamente escolhidos. Se você não escolher seus plugins com cuidado, o custo de um desenvolvimento de código aberto pode ser tão caro quanto construir uma solução do zero.

Independentemente se a execução de seu site for através de uma solução personalizada ou da utilização de uma plataforma de código aberto, o planejamento é a chave para o sucesso.

Na verdade, não importa o que você escolher: solução personalizada ou de código aberto, a construção de um novo website nunca será isenta de solavancos ao longo do caminho. Quando você vir como as coisas funcionam, é bem provável que você queira fazer ajustes. Então, considere isso em seu planejamento.

Independentemente de você possuir uma pequena, média ou grande empresa, você deverá considerar suas opções com cuidado. Não existe a solução certa ou errada, tudo depende das suas necessidades. Dessa forma, antes de “dar a luz verde” para uma solução:

1. Imagine: Pense como seu novo site seria se você não tivesse limitações orçamentárias. Visualize todos os mecanismos de interação, as ferramentas e os recursos que seu site teria e como cada um deles funcionaria. Tome um tempo para analisar seus diversos públicos e a experiência do usuário final.

2. Especifique: Reveja as principais plataformas de código aberto disponíveis, como, por exemplo, Joomla, Wordpress e Drupal, e seus plugins. Será que alguma delas vai cumprir sua visão? Será que elas têm os plugins que você precisa ou será que você vai ter que personalizar ou escrever um do zero? Escreva um documento sobre o conjunto dos recursos de seu site, onde você poderá especificar exatamente o que o seu site vai exigir e, a partir daí, determine qual das plataformas de código aberto irá atender suas necessidades ou se alguma delas vai te atender suas exigências. No meu próximo post, irei detalhar os prós e contras de cada plataforma, mas, em suma, aqui está uma regra geral: 

    • Wordpress: é ótimo para empresas que precisam de um site de baixo custo e com funcionalidade de blog. Ele também tem muitos plugins que podem ser usados para expandir sua funcionalidade padrão.
    • Joomla: funciona bem para sites que exigem mais complexidade do que uma compilação de Wordpress, mas que não são extremamente exigentes. O Joomla tem recursos poderosos e a curva de aprendizagem é mais fácil para os desenvolvedores e usuários finais, porém tem limitações, o Joomla exige trabalho repetitivo, compreensão do código e pode demorar mais tempo para fazer o site funcionar do que uma compilação de Drupal.
    • Drupal: é voltado para sites complexos. Ele tem uma curva de aprendizagem maior para o usuário final e requer desenvolvedores mais experientes, mas uma vez que você se adaptar a ele, o Drupal será mais intuitivo do que o Joomla.

3. Cote: Depois de especificar suas necessidades, obtenha uma cotação para construir seu site usando um gerenciador de conteúdo de código aberto que você venha a determinar e para construir uma solução do zero. Além do preço, considere a experiência do desenvolvedor, o tamanho de sua equipe, sua programação e sua capacidade de entregar no prazo, dentro do orçamento e das especificações.(Confira as referências cautelosamente).

4. Analise e Planeje: De acordo com minha experiência, os clientes sempre consideram o primeiro orçamento um pouco caro demais. Caso isso aconteça, não se preocupe, você poderá conseguir o que deseja e no preço que precisa se você quebrar o projeto em fases de desenvolvimentos gerenciáveis. Priorize as funcionalidades que você precisa ter no momento e mova as funcionalidades que gostaria de ter para a próxima fase. Esta é uma excelente prática: construa hoje uma solução que possa ser facilmente expandida para acomodar necessidades futuras.

5. Execute: Agora você tem seu plano, execute-o! Você jamais se arrependerá de todo o tempo investido em planejamento.

E, claro, se você precisar de apoio especializado, nós da Camarès somos especialistas em transformar seus sonhos de website em uma realidade lucrativa. É só entrar em contato conosco por telefone.

 

 

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Open Source vs. Custom Build – Which is Better? A guide to choosing between Open Source and Custom Built Solutions

 

Plan By Denise Maia

Small and mid-size businesses face the same dilemma when building a new website: should we build a website from scratch or use an open source CMS solution, such as Joomla, Wordpress, Drupal. Which is better? Which is cheaper? Which will cause less development pain? Which will best turn my ideas into reality? And, ultimately, which will deliver the best ROI?

Building a website from scratch is a great way to get all the bells and whistles you need just the way you want them. Custom built solutions are very flexible. You determine the look-and-feel, the functionality, the tools, the engagement mechanisms, the administrative interface, the reports and the integrations with 3rd party software, such as CRM tools (Customer Relationship Management), marketing optimization tools and the like. However, all that flexibility comes with a cost. The cost can be high, especially if you do not take the time to plan. Then there is the issue of hiring the right developer or development team who understands your vision, your needs and is completely capable of bringing the project to completion on time, on budget, and up to specs. 

The alternative, is generally seen as less expensive: use a CMS (content management software) platform. CMS platforms can be either “free” open source, such as Joomla, Wordpress and Drupal, or be a paid solution, such as Sitefinity and Sitecore, or even be an industry-specific service that provides most of what you need for companies in your specific industry. For this post, I’ll concentrate on the open source platforms since they have grown so popular.

At first glance open source software products provide a lot of functionality, and provide it free. The core of the CMS functionality is that it allows non-technical users to add pages and content easily. This is very compelling to any company who has had to pay for every content update and it also addresses the demand for lots of frequent site updates. In truth, open source dramatically lowers the costs for these tasks by bringing them inside your organization.

However, today’s web demands increasing sophistication and sexy functionality. We expect it because we see the top sites using carousels, light box effects and more. But the core functionality of open source lies in the CMS, not in the specific functions your site design will surely require and that, in my experience, is where the cost and complexity lies.

Beyond the CMS, additional functionality is achieved through plugins. These are little programs that are written by open source developers to enhance the core product. Choosing the right plugin from a reliable source is where the expense begins:

  • There are many free plugins, but it’s very likely that you will have to purchase some as well, Ka-ching!
  • Regardless if the plugin is free or commercial, your developer will have to install them, Ka-ching!
  • It’s likely that there will be compatibility issues, Ka-ching!
  • It’s likely that the plugins won’t work quite like their description or exactly the way you want or need them to work, Ka-ching!
  • You might have to look for another plugin, customize an existing plugin to your needs, or build one from scratch. Ka-ching! Ka-ching! Ka-ching!

There are further issues with plugins, the more plugins you add the more chances of incompatibly you will have when it’s time to upgrade to the next version of the core open source software. “OK”, you may think, “we will not upgrade!” But here is the rub, upgrading is your first defense against security problems and other issues. Keeping your core software up to date is an absolute must for a technically stable site.

Plugins are a necessary evil when using open source solutions and that’s why they need to be chosen carefully so development and maintenance costs can be minimized. If you do not chose with care, the cost of open source can be as high as the cost of building a custom solution. 

Whether executing a custom build or using an open source platform, planning is the key to success. 

In reality, no matter which way you go: custom or open source, building a web site is never without bumps along the way. Once you see how things work it is entirely likely you will want adjustments. So build that into your plan.

Whether you're a small, mid-size or large business, before you begin carefully consider your options. There are no right or wrong solutions, it all depends on your needs, so before you green light to a build:  

1) Envision: Envision how your website would work if there were no budget limitations. Envision all the engagement mechanisms, the tools and the features and how each one would function. Take time to consider your multiple audiences and the user experience.

2) Specify: Review the top open source platforms available, such as Joomla, Wordpress and Drupal, and their plugins. Will any of them fulfill your vision? Do they have all the plugins you need or will you have to customize or write a plugin from scratch?  Create a feature set document where you specify exactly what your site will require, then determine, which, if any, open source platforms will fulfill those needs. In my next post I’ll detail the pros and cons of each, but, at a top level, here is a general rule of thumb:

    • Wordpress is great for businesses that need a cheap site with blog functionality. It also has many plugins that can be used to expand it's functionality.
    • Joomla works well for sites that demand more complexity than a Wordpress build but are not hugely demanding. It has powerful resources and easier learning curve for both developers and end users. But it has limitations, it requires repetitive work and understanding of code and it might take more time to get the site working then a Drupal build.
    • Drupal is for complex sites. It has a higher learning curve for the user, it will require more experienced developers, but once you get the hang of it, it’s smoother and more intuitive than Joomla.

3) Quote: Once you’ve specified your needs, get a quote to build using a CMS or to build a solution from scratch. Beyond price, consider: the developer’s experience and team size, scheduling and  the developer’s ability to deliver on time, on budget and up to specs. (Check references with care.)

4) Review and Plan: In my experience, clients experience sticker shock at seeing the estimates for the first time. But don’t worry, you can get what you want for what you can afford, if you break the project down into manageable development phases. Prioritize the features you must have now and slide the “nice-to-have” features into the next phase.  This is an excellent  practice: building a solution now that can be made ready to easily expand for future needs. 

5) Execute: Now that you have your plan, go and execute it! You will never regret all the planning time invested.

 

And off course, if you need expert support, we at Camarès are specialists in turning your web dreams into a profitable reality. Give us a call.

 

 

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