Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tech Dependence

Last week I tried to bring up an important email on my phone only to find that I couldn’t log into my email. My G-mail account had been hacked recently, forcing me to change my password quickly and without putting much thought into it. I had been using my old password for almost nine years now, a terrible habit, but I had grown comfortable with its familiarity. Now I stood outside my meeting, unable to access this important email, because I was unable to remember my new password.

Sure, I had written it down, but the sticky note on the bottom of my desk was no good to me, as I stood outside the conference, furiously typing in possible combinations of numbers and letters in a desperate attempt to break into my own account. I ended up going into the meeting without the numbers I wanted off my phone, and surprisingly enough the world didn’t end. The situation did get me thinking, however, about how dependent I had become on my computer and phone remembering things for me. I can’t even imagine the kind of wreck I would be if I were to lose my phone or computer and the data on them for good.

As the conveniences of modern technology have grown, my powers as a mental storage machine have begun to regress. Back in middle school, I had many phone numbers of friends and family memorized. Now I sometimes stumble when reciting my own phone number. Why waste brainpower remembering anything these days? Our cellphones save hundreds of contacts and our computers can automatically fill out our log-ins and passwords for us. This system of entering all my information at once and then forgetting about it has been very convenient up until now.

Last week's email debacle opened my eyes to just how easy it would be for me to lose years of collected data. With all the advancements in collecting, storing, and sharing information, how much of this data is going into our long-term memory and not just a bookmark folder on our desktop?

For me, it appears that most of what I think I know is reliant on a fully functioning phone or computer. Often, I find myself saving online news articles to read at a later date, only to delete them the next time I clean out my bookmark folder, the articles still unread. Technology has made it so easy to find and store information that I fear we spend more time searching than we do absorbing what we find.

Everyday we are bombarded with emails, text messages, conversations, commercials, television shows, new acquaintances, and news stories. All this information is coming at us in a constant torrent throughout the day, and we are expected to take it all, process it, store what we find important, and quickly move on to the next item of business. We have become so greedy by the stimulation of new information that we now even create and horde daily happenings on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest. It is no wonder I can’t remember a password I made up with only a day ago; it is buried under a pile of never ending information. I have grown too accustomed to having all this information and technology saved for me, data that I can lose with a simple hard drive crash or stolen phone. How easy it would be for me to lose all my music, emails, contacts, bookmarks, and passwords in an instant. Yes, I have everything saved on a back up drive, and cloud sharing systems are making this less of an issue, but just the thought of all the reliance I have put into technology is a little frightening. My inability to access my email, it seems, has shaken me awake from this digital dream, opened my eyes to just how much I could lose if something happened to my computer or phone.

Our ability to find and share information will only continue to improve in the years to come. Unfortunately, the unaltered human system cannot hope to contain all the data that we are able to access. It's important for us to develop ways to filter the constant stream of garbage that is thrown at us each and every day, storing it not only in our electronic devices, but also in our memory. I am not saying down with the machines, throw down your web-enabled devices, and go back to living in the woods; I just think it is a good idea for us all to slow down once in a while from our constant hording of information and actually absorb some knowledge.

By: Embra King

Monday, May 7, 2012

Creative Marketing is Effective Marketing

I recall reading an article about word-of-mouth marketing used in California. Movie studios were hiring attractive people and models to stand in public areas and crowds and discuss movies and how much they liked them. This marketing strategy works on many levels. For the point of this article it is both creative and effective because it is a fresh approach to breaking down the barriers of immunity to marketing that customers inherently have.

This form of marketing uses attractive people, as others will better value their opinion by wanting to associate with them as successful looking people. It is just a fact that the messages of good-looking people or people with power are more appealing and likely to take root. This was just a small aspect of the approach but worth mentioning.

The true power of this approach is what I am writing about here and the most effective part of this approach. By using this creative undercover marketing approach and having the message seem unintentional, the message takes deeper root. When you think the idea to listen to their conversation was yours, you better value the message. You may even find yourself repeating the message. You may later say to a friend, “I heard that movie was cool”, or “I heard the ending was amazing”. There is a good chance you don’t even mention or recall where you heard this fact, but you did. If this had been a radio ad or web ad, you would never repeat it. You just made this viral because you trusted the source. You trusted the source because you thought it to be a candid and honest conversation.

Would you have thought of this type of approach or calculated how its effect could go viral, due to the source being trusted over traditional advertising methods? All this leads back to why you need a creative and inventive approach to marketing. Working for CGR Creative, I have been exposed to many professionals with diverse backgrounds and real hands-on experience in trying what works and learning what doesn’t on our own time. You can be sure that you will be presented with ideas and approaches you would never have thought of. The marketing ideas you are handed will be tested and have a plan as to why they will outperform the traditional methods your competition is using.

My personal background is in SEO and online marketing. I didn’t attend a seminar or a 2 day course, I spent 9 years building websites for affiliate programs, ranking sites that depended on ranking to make an income stream. I spent 9 years needing to be successful to eat and pay the bills. I was constantly under fire to produce creative approaches to selling traditional products.

Now working with the staff at CGR with award winning graphic designers and community leaders in social and business circles, I am part of a team of like-minded, outside-the-box producers. CGR is a design team focusing on many fields and many different cultural target consumers. CGR's experience with their customers has led to one-of-a-kind creative marketing approaches for each and every project we undertake. A client needs a new approach to their marketing to accompany the traditional methods they expect. Use our graphic, print, media, and online approaches but, at the same time, let us bring your social and online PR presence up to modern standards with ideas your competition has never thought of.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Review Sites Creating A Problem

The good news is that review websites have provided a forum for customers and businesses to exchange and discuss their sales history working together. The bad news is that the intended use for review websites has completely failed. Review websites, like Google reviews, Yahoo, Yelp, YP, Mechantcircle, Superpages, YP, and others, may have had good intentions but have created a mess for small business.

I am certain the true intention of these review pages was the bottom lines of the sites that host them. If you can create an excuse to have a separate page for every single business on earth, you have just justified 1 billion new ads displaying revenue-generating pages for the review sites.

It may be argued that this is a win-win situation, since the reviews sites, like Yelp.com and YP, get to make huge gains in pages to display ads while businesses get free publicity. This would be nice if it was true.

The review sites have turned into a free for all of fake positive reviews and malicious competition targeting bad reviews. Here in Charlotte, we can easily point out examples of local businesses and services that spend hours every week attacking their competition with negative reviews. These review sites require nothing other than an email account to allow you to post high-ranking, anonymous attacks on your competition. The review sites themselves have no vested interest or financial connection to the validity of the reviews. Ad-displaying pages make the same revenue for these sites with accurate or fake reviews; there is no motivation for these sites to try and insure integrity.

The down side is that the only way this sort of phenomenon resolves itself is through becoming obsolete. Until these sites see less users counting on them and the revenue impacted, they will not change policies to protect businesses. Until that time comes, many of these have become an easily accessible medium for slandering competition and misleading customers. ME