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Understanding Flash

What is Flash
Flash is a web based multimedia technology by Macromedia. It has been around since the mid-1990’s and has slowly been building in popularity to the point where many bundled programs come with flash players, Macromedia boasts, “Over 516 million Internet users now use Macromedia Flash”.

The benefits of Flash

The strongest benefit of Flash from a viewer’s perspective is the smooth multi-media presentation which can provide a polished and relaxing user experience. Obviously, this impression can positively impact a company’s impression and brand. With Flash you can intertwine animation, video, sound, music, voice-overs, and even connect to a database for personalized interactivity or calculations. Another advantage is that the Flash piece can be designed once for both CD and Web applications allowing the piece to be used in direct mail as well as online. The overwhelming technical advantage is the files are smaller than other multimedia authoring platforms allowing faster download. We have found that a Flash application can double and sometimes triple the number of users viewing information on a web site.

Common Flash Applications

Flash applications are as vast as ones imagination. Here are some common applications that we have developed:

  • Splash screen to a web site
  • Small “eye candy” animations on a web site
  • Product demos and tutorials for web and CD applications
  • CD business cards
  • Educational tools
  • Web site interactivity connected to a database
  • Web and CD based games
  • Kiosks
  • Banner ads
  • Corporate Presentations

Disadvantages of Flash
Although Flash is a smaller file size then other technologies it can still be rather large even when the Flash piece is streaming (loading only what you need at the moment instead of the whole file). Not all users have Flash and not all users have the same version of Flash. In some cases too much animation and sound can be distracting especially when you have seen it a couple times already and all you want is the directions to the company.

Important considerations when using Flash

  • Make sure your users are not all dial up customers.
  • Allow non-Flash users to view the same content on the web site.
  • The Flash piece should automatically detect if the viewer has Flash and its version.
  • Don’t use Flash in critical branding areas like a logo unless a Flash detector is in place.
  • Don’t force the user to view a splash screen each time they go to your site.
  • Use streaming when possible.

Have a link or automatic code to download the latest version of Flash on your site.

5 Rules for Loyalty Marketing

Building customer loyalty enhances company brand while increasing revenues in a steady manner. Unlike one time sales events or other short-term promotions, a loyalty program can create constant sales and build a barrier between you and your competitors. Below are a few of the basic components of any well-developed loyalty program.

1. Customers will provide personal information for a reward

A recent study showed that 82 percent of online consumers would provide personal information for a chance of winning a $100. 61 percent gave e-mail addresses, 49 percent full names and approximately 20 percent gave financial information and telephone numbers. The trick is to offer a reward that both benefits the customer and the company. For example, patrons that use restaurant coupons usually spend more than if they did not have a coupon.

2. Personalize communications

When communicating with the customer always personalize the message with at least a name. If possible offering products that are within the profile of that buyer. The most sophisticated loyalty system automatically ties products together targeting the buyers profile. Amazon is a good example. Customers often receive an e-mail about a book about a subject they have an interest in.

3. Build member status and customer value

Create status of the member by developing a program, which ranks the consumers discount level. What value does the customer receive when they purchase your product or service? The value should be clear and well stated to the customer. Give the consumer pride and financial benefit in purchasing from your company. If a tiered program is too complicated for your company at least provide “membership” to your store. Provide special customer status and treatment for those that are members. Acknowledge the loyal customer by discounting shipping, etc. You may think that the company may lose money but the opposite happens. This is because of the 80 / 20 rule. 80 percent of your revenues often come from 20 percent of your customers. Always be aware of how you treat the 20 percent.

4. Community = Ownership = Loyalty

Most people get jobs from people they know not from a newspaper ad. The same is true in building loyalty. Think of your customers as a community not a customer base. In a community all participate and share in the outcome. Ownership is a very powerful tool in building loyalty and brand recognition. For example, this year Mars company had a campaign to promote M&M’s. Customers voted on a new M&M color. You can bet the company will use the e-mail addresses they collected for follow-up e-mails. Other companies have had campaigns to name products and / or design product packaging. Try to involve your customers in your product and service offerings.

5. Program metrics

Every program needs goals to measure success and growth opportunities. Make your goals clear and easily measurable. Have your sales team “sign-off” on the goals to make sure they are reasonable. Track your results and adjust the program and the goals, so they are attainable.

5 Tips in developing an interactive marketing plan

Here are a number of considerations for your interactive marketing plan:

Pull vs. Push
– The web medium is a pull medium not a push medium. This means the presentation to the viewer has to be stimulating enough to attract and build interest but not too stimulating such that the viewer is confused and put off. “Call to action” text and images are important tools used to pull the viewer further into the site and have them register or purchase. The web site and email are always asking the viewer to interact. If the viewer does not interact the perspective customer is lost.

Usability
– Once the viewer is interested, the web site or email has to be designed extremely simple so that any type of user would be able to figure out how to either contact the company or to fill out a registration process. When a viewer is completing a process it is important that the user understands why the information is needed and what it will be used for. The simplicity of the site and learn-ability of the site allows a user to easily flow through the site and find what they are looking for as well as know where they are on the site without getting lost. A user is only on a page for an extremely short period of time. If a viewer becomes frustrated they we will be off to another site in one click.

Content is King
– The content is important on a site for a number of reasons. The most important is the education of perspective buyers. Often a perspective buyer may not know they are looking for your business until they learn more about what you can offer and why it is important. An educated buyer shortens the sales cycles allowing for more sales opportunities. Depending on the information the site or page will be spread to others seeking the same information. This helps in the branding of your company and product. The second reason is the ability to place the site on search engines. When done correctly the web site can be placed extremely well compared to a site that has no content.

Advertising
– The greatest company or product will never succeed without marketing and advertising. Whether the adverting is viral “word of mouth” or direct “email and snail mail” or passive “search engine placement”. Unfortunately doing only one of the above will not work either. One of the first tasks for a new site launch is to place the site on search engines. The search engines are like yellow pages for a phone number. Depending on the other tactics being used, a simple submission of the company name may suffice. In other cases, especially more commodity type industries, the advertising must target specific product categories. Being placed on a search engine under a specific name can be expensive so do your homework and analyze your payback. Also write the description for the search engine such that only qualified buyers will click on the link. Remember your search engine campaign needs to correlate with your other advertising campaigns to truly be successful.

If the site is to have an email newsletter then the site should have opt-in and opt-out forms. Collecting email addresses of perspective buyers is extremely valuable and will take time.

Know your customers
– The more personal the presentation is with perspective customers the more your company will be a step above the competition. Everyone likes to be treated special. Create your campaign so that it truly targets the perspective customers likes and personality. Getting inside their head is key. This effects how the copy is written to the graphic images, colors and style. What concepts and images are your perspective customers going to resonate with?

Golden Rules for Direct Advertising

Often clients convey a story of an unsuccessful direct mail advertising campaign. Clients figure because it was tried once it will never work. There are many elements to direct advertising. Below are some of the golden rules to consider in your next campaign:

1.      The list – In both email and snail mail the list must be accurate. You can waste a lot of money with snail mail if it is not. If using email make sure you have permission to send the email or in other words, it is an opt-in list. Finally, make sure the recipients are targeted correctly. Sending an expensive offer to a list of low-income people or products targeted for women to men is a sure way to fail.

2.      The first sentence – Imagine driving by a billboard on a highway. How much time did you have to look at the ad without hitting the car in front of you? That is about the amount of time a perspective customer will spend on reading your direct ad. Make sure your first sentence is to the point, state the offer or the question you want the customer to realize efficiently. Do not bury the words in pictures or odd fonts. Keep it simple and direct. This is especially important with email. Most user delete spam and other email in a couple seconds.

3.      The hook – At this point you have enough attention to continue reading. The best direct ads create excitement and realization of the benefit of the product or service. If you cannot create excitement how can you expect a person to part with hard earned cash. Some tips are: keep the benefit to the customer in mind, use clean easy to read type, breakdown the information into simple chunks of information.

4.      The follow up – OK, the perspective customer is interested, the fish is on the line. It is a shame to lose them now. Create a simple step-by-step process for the perspective client to contact you or fill out a form to apply, etc. Walk the customer through the process one step at a time. Don’t assume anything.

5.   The Close – In closing your direct mail piece provide a way to get off the email list. You don’t want to brand your company in a negative way. Also repeat your benefit / offer. Many people who are interested skip the meat of the letter and go right to the end to signup, etc. Finally, repetition is important. Send your ad or a similar ad out five to seven times. It takes that long for most people to notice an advertisement.

Amazon Kindle ver 1 Screen Saver

The Kindle can view pictures and you can upload images to the screen saver function. As you know pictures on the first version of the kindle are low resolution so black and white or grayscale images work best. The image screen is 800 x 600 pixels but images look best at 550 x 450 pixels. Total image size has to be less than 64k, JPG, GIF or PNG.

To upload an images do the following:
1) With your Kindle connected to you computer, make a folder (with lower case letters) on your Kindle called “pictures”.
2) Create a subfolder and put the images in it.
3) In Home screen press Alt-Z. A new “Folder” should appear as a book. Open it to view your pictures.

To user your images as a screen saver:
1)       Upload images to your Kindle above. Use the folder names “pictures” with a sub folder “screensavers”
2)       From the Kindle home page Press alt-z to create a new book called “screensavers” which you can find at the end of your book list.
3)       Click through each picture by clicking the “next – page” button. On each picture press alt-shift-0 (that is zero). This will set the image as a screen saver.

To delete screen saver images:
To delete your images from the screen saver you have to go to a hidden folder call screen_saver. It is in the systems folder. You will have to set you computer to show hidden files to see it.