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Kulula stands out

Kulula Airline – one of four lowcost carriers operating in South Africa – has come on strong with these brightly painted schemes, humorous in-flight commentary, and Kit Kat rewards for passengers who wear green. The Zulu word kulula means it is light or it is easy/simple. They certainly captured my attention with the flying billboard and branding strategy I loved from several decades ago. My then-favorite woman of adverting and style guru Mary Wells declared it was the end of the plain plane with Alexander Calder paint schemes for Braniff Airways aircraft. She set the conservative aviation industry abuzz (and turned the airline around) with her Pucci-designed, flight-attendant uniforms and bar-raising campaign.

I have to hand it to Kulula; they made me smile and increased their marketshare along the way.

Jared’s Picks for July Final Friday

Straight Arrow – Marc Bosworth @ Gallery One Nine

Greteman Group’s own Marc Bosworth introduces multi-layered works that take on themes such as role models and gender stereotypes. In his works you can find references to such styles as abstract expressionism and pop art.

7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
@ Gallery One Nine
125 N Market St, Wichita, KS (18th Floor)

Judith French Millard – In Memoriam @ Gallery XII

A long time member of Gallery XII, the venue, her friends and husband will being paying tribute to her art in a memorial showing this Final Friday. Judith was a Kansas native, WSU Grad and an award winning artist in oils and pastels.

@ Gallery XII
412 E Douglas Av, Wichita, KS

Negative – Ryan Moran

Artists at Old Town will be presenting works by innovative artist Ryan Moran. Created using a unique technique, he begins by stapling several layers of paper together, and then cuts away layers to create his pieces.

@ Artists At Old Town
412 E Douglas Suite C, Wichita, KS

New Via Christi Hospital Ready for its Close Up

We’ve had the great privilege (and fun) of helping introduce the community to Via Christi Health’s newest hospital. (Check out the :15 teaser Now that the opening’s mere weeks away, we were able to get in and shoot footage for a :30 TV spot and longer-form video. As impressive as the $93 million facility is, the highlights of our day came from working with the incredibly articulate, impassioned staff and westsiders barely able to contain their enthusiasm about having Via Christi care so close to home.

See for yourself how the Via Christi Hospital on West St. Teresa is positioned to transform healthcare. Take in its open house this weekend: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Saturday, July 24 and 1 p.m. – 4 p.m., Sunday, July 25.

All the high-tech emergency services wow 8-year-old Jaxon Brackeen and his dad, Judd, a Sedgwick County firefighter.
All the high-tech emergency services wow 8-year-old Jaxon Brackeen and his dad, Judd, a Sedgwick County firefighter.

The much anticipated hospital in west Wichita is the metro area’s first in four years. It’s the modern hospital completely rethought. Not just from the ground up. From the patient up. In addition to 24/7 emergency services it offers a NewLife Center that answers many expectant couples’ prayers. Oh and did we mention that all patient rooms are private suites? And that you can order off the menu much like room service? And, and, and…

Mobile Matters

In interactive technology there’s always a “next big thing” which gets hyped in the media ad nauseum. Our job as an agency is to carefully assess the next big thing and determine if it’s actually something our clients should be considering, or just a lot of hot air. Currently, the mobile web is getting a lot of attention, as more and more people buy smartphones and begin viewing mobile versions of websites on these devices. After looking over the facts, I’ve come to the completely impartial view that the mobile web is the single greatest achievement that mankind will ever see.

Ok, that was a bit much, but here’s some data that should at least give you an idea of what has me excited.

• The mobile web is growing 8 times faster than desktop web did back in its heyday.

• Smartphones will overtake PC in sales next year.

250,000 mobile devices will be activated today.

• In the next 2 years, 1 billion people will be heavy users of mobile web. This doesn’t include casual users.

And perhaps the most important statistic:

In the next three years, more people will view websites on mobile devices than on desktop computers.

Given the limitations of smartphones, this might seem hard to believe. They have such tiny screens compared the behemoth monitor you might have connected to your computer at home. So what’s the appeal of mobile websites? One important reason is that, out of necessity, the mobile web forces us to focus on the information that people really want to see, rather than the junk that can find its way into a website (like pictures of the CEO’s dog). For example, the mobile version of Facebook is widely regarded as a better experience than the full version on desktop computers because it boils the site down to its essentials. It’s easier and quicker to get around. This is especially important because as the web has matured, people have begun to expect information quicker, and with fewer steps. Well designed mobile sites do just that.

With this expected boom in mobile web usage, companies should be planning a mobile version of their site now. Even better, it’s a perfect time to have your mobile site designed, and then revamp your existing desktop site with the same eye towards paring things down to what matters most. And for a company without a website, developing the mobile version even before you start on the desktop version is a great idea. It’s a brave new world out there. We can help.

The Search Results Battle Zone

Have you Googled your brand name lately? What about the name of your CEO or the trademark of your latest, and greatest product? We here at Greteman Group did. Along with the organic (that is, not sponsored) results we saw in the top ranks that were resources controlled by us and some glowing news articles—ads for our competitors. In the “Sponsored links” section of the search results, a couple of our competitors had bought AdWords. AdWords is a textual advertising service provided by Google, where advertisements for pages are served up based on a keyword search.

Having your own virtual properties (like a website and a Facebook profile) is great, but part of managing your online presence extends into fighting for turf in the search space. Here are some search engine tactics you should be keeping an eye on:

The Recruiter

Your competitors can bid on keywords triggered by the name of your latest product, a well-known member of the managing staff or even your brand name. Unless you’re a big name brand being targeted by lots of AdWords clients, buying “Sponsored links” on searches for your company are cheap!

+ the remedy: If your organic results are on target, then don’t worry about it. Competing with rivals for a top spot on “Sponsored links” under your own searches could quickly turn into a money pit? That aside, you might consider running similar ads on your competitor (there are ways to check whether this is bringing value).

Dirty Tricks

Some search engine marketing strategists flood search results with bogus “reports” or stack heavyweight review sites with negative feedback about their competitors’ brands. A particularly famous case is that of developer Carl Herold, who was so desperately buried by negative search results that he turned to the Reddit community for support.

+ the remedy: Beat them to the punch. Make sure you own all the relevant digital properties you can reasonably manage, and optimize them for search engine indexing. It would take a considerable effort to dethrone a brand that’s master of its own keyword kingdom.

The Powerhouse

It can be hard to break into the top results of fundamental keyword searches. In the worst cases, your main competitor is somehow dominating the results for your industry or product.

+ the remedy: Get specific. Sure, you may not be hauling in traffic for people searching for “socks” on Google. But aren’t the customers who are searching for “100% organic grown cotton socks” going to more valuable, repeat customers anyway? Optimize your site to attract these kinds of search impressions.

In the end, if you’re the only brand in your industry on the web or if you’re caught in a down and dirty scrimmage between you and a legion of tenacious competitors, the best way to fight the good Google fight is to optimize your own web presence for prime search engine indexing. And, don’t forget to Google (or Bing) yourself every once in a while.

Twitter Got Me A Job (sort of)

And you are on a giant conference call. Goofy analogy, I know, but the paradigm shift has begun, and there’s a key ingredient in your digital marketing mix that will make you more successful with the new technology.

“Everybody” Knows Twitter These Days

According to a June 16 article in the San Fransisco Chronicle*, the micro-blogging social network boasts nearly 106 million users and as awareness of Twitter across America has grown from 5% in 2008 to 87% in 2010, so too has the acceptance of Twitter as a legitimate and reliable mode of communication.

With Twitter, connections are made, meetings are planned and products are promoted. Networks of industry professionals and consumers debate the latest topics and interlink their conversation with hashtags, like #hashtagsAreNeat. The concept that Twitter is solely for documenting your day through 140- character blurps has long expired.

What does this mean for business?

Your company may or may not be on Twitter yet (and there’s a whole other conversation to have about being a brand on Twitter) but I’m here to ask: are you conducting business via Twitter? If you own a business, are you allowing your employees to conduct business via Twitter? If not, you should.

This is especially true for client-facing individuals on a company’s staff who are charged with duties such as sales, account service, public relations or customer support. Of course, no company should boldly go into the social media frontier without a plan and a set of guidelines. For the quick and dirty, check out our blog about social media policy for the workplace. If you need a little more friendly advice, give us a call.

The short of it is, your employees should be on Twitter because it’s one of the fastest growing, 21st Century means for building relationships.

Take Me For Example

My name is Jared—I’m the new Digital Brand Manager at Greteman Group. A few months ago, I sent a tweet (a message via Twitter) to another person who worked here at the agency, to let them know I was interested in working for them. When a position became open a couple months later, I received a tweet from him asking me if I’d like an interview. After a couple of interviews, I was hired.

Greteman Group found the talent they needed. I got the job of my internet-nerd dreams. Transaction complete—one in which Twitter played a critical role. Other methods of communication could have easily turned out to be less effective, what with phone trees and cluttered inboxes.

Here’s the key:

Beyond my résumé and qualifications, Twitter made it easy for Greteman Group and me to develop a little relationship before our employment interaction. In the past, I would “tweet” about the latest social media topics itching my brain, and solicit comment from the experts here at the agency. Needless to say, we got along, and when it came time for them to make the hire (and for me to score the gig) it was just a matter of building on our established rapport.

Use Twitter Like It’s a Telephone

I understand that Twitter may have yet to be a standard in your industry. For some businesses, it could be a long time before it makes sense to substitute tweets for telephone in a significant way. In that case, you may want to think about the opportunity to lead your industry in customer interaction via Twitter. Give the conversational, instantaneous culture of Twitter a chance—you may be pleasantly surprised by the results.


Don’t Be Like The Microsoft Kin (Dead On Arrival)

The world’s most prolific personal computing giant, Microsoft, has completely botched its introduction to the mobile phone market. Only six short weeks following the launch of the Kin, the phone’s development team is being transferred over to work on the Windows Phone 7. Where does this fit in the realm of Microsoft failures? More important, what can we learn from it?

A Brief History of Recent Microsoft Gaffes

We don’t have to dig deep into the days of “Microsoft Bob” (RIP 1995), or bore you with the all-too-well-known history of how the tech giant rang in the new millennium with one of the buggiest operating systems of all time. We needn’t look farther back than three years.

On January 30th, 2007, glossy packages, boasting minimalist design, accented by beautiful flourishes of color and a refreshed logo hit the shelves. It was the release of Windows Vista, an operating system second only to WindowsME in hollowness. The operating system feigned security, asking for you to authorize yourself at every turn, while leaving your computational backend susceptible to the same old enemies. Vista was also a jealous bid to create an interface as beautiful as Apple’s OSX, miserably missing the mark (with clumsy fades, and pointless animations), while simultaneously ruining system performance.

Vista was eventually found to be a software package so foul, that it won 2nd place on TIME Magazine’s May 2009 list: “The 10 Biggest Tech Failures of the Last Decade”. The same article noted that in April of 2009 (almost 4 months after its release) global market share for Window’s Vista was less than 24%, even as its predecessor Windows XP held onto 62%. Despite the fresh promotional materials, the swanky screen effects and the purported increase in security, early reviews, outing the system as a dud, had consumers hesitating to adopt.

Ever hear of the Microsoft Smart Watch? It was a product launched from the company’s Smart Person Objects Technology (or SPOT) initiative in 2004. It was an ugly, bulky wristwatch that used FM radio technology to receive news and weather (something cell phones had just begun to do). Despite the cool factor of living out your Dick Tracy fantasies, and the marketing power of one of the world’s largest corporations, the project died after 5 short years. By this time, people were accessing way more information on their cellphones, so why pay a $9.95 subscription fee for a geeky watch that does little more than confirm that it is in fact cold outside?

Akin to the Kin

The Kin is (was?) a “smartphone” that was designed specifically for connecting with friends via text messages, Facebook, MySpace, Windows Live and Twitter. Friends were front and center in the operating system, relaying to the user photos and recent status updates in an easy to access feed.

The Kin came in two models, the limited Kin One for $49.99 and the “full featured” Kin Two for $99.99. Additionally, to use the Kin you had to pay a mandatory $30 service fee billed monthly. Both versions were launched with an aggressive marketing campaign targeting teens to 29 year olds, with indie hipster imagery pumped through a litany of social media channels. A recent Advertising Age article reports that agencytwofifteen, the marketing firm behind the “hip” campaign, had hyper-targeted the message based on feedback from over 50,000 consumers between the ages of 20-29.

So on May 13, 2010 the Kin was released. It was cheap, targeted at a specific audience with arguably effective tone. What was missing?

The Kin Was Half A Smartphone

Sure you could connect with your friends, but only on the Kin’s terms. While Facebook, MySpace, Windows Live and Twitter were all native to the phone, the user couldn’t download any apps. For the Twitter client included, there was no way to share photos or videos. Kin didn’t have any GPS capabilities. The device didn’t even have a calendar for scheduling appointments, a feature that has been ubiquitous since the dawn of PDA time.

For a small increase in cost, why wouldn’t the consumer get a more powerful, full featured smart phone with the world’s developer community a “tap” away?

What Microsoft Teaches Businesses, Time and Time Again

You don’t need to hire a high-powered research group to glean this one nugget of wisdom from Microsoft’s follies: no matter how much you polish a turd, it’s still a turd. Quality of content, thoughtful design, truly filling a need or improving on an existing idea – these fundamental characteristics are what sell a product. Don’t get me wrong, you still need an excellent communication strategy, broadcasting the value of your product (aptly managed by a highly capable firm like Greteman Group), but it all starts with quality and a product geared towards complete consumer satisfaction.

When you start thinking about introducing a new product into the market, consider activating people within your business or bringing on a strategic partner that can help you identify a few key items: what do consumers want, where do they want it, at what price do they want it, and how to get the word out. Even better, this same research team can help you identify similar products introduced to the market. Perhaps even those that completely flopped (and why). I have no doubt that Apple, HTC and other dominant cell phone entities will be visiting this case study of failure (all the while chuckling smugly, I’m sure).

In the meantime, we’ll be sending this open letter to Microsoft, in an effort to let them know they may have forgotten a couple points, thereby killing what could’ve otherwise been a real neat alternative.

RIP Kin (2010). May you be remembered for your “cool-indie-hipster-girl-traveling-across-the-country” commercials and not by your disturbing lack of basic smartphone features.