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Chicago Cubs win the 2016 World Series!

Chicago Cubs win the 2016 World Series!

Tonight, magic was made.

A 108-year drought was washed away following a 17-minute rain delay Wednesday night when the Chicago Cubs won the 2016 World Series. For generations, Cubs fans have fought bitterly over who was the best. In the end, their love of the game and the passion it drives was rewarded with a storybook ending.

It was a fairytale story – 108 years in the making. Seven games in the series. Two teams were staunchly fighting to end their post-season loss records. The tension was incredible! Game Seven matched at 6-6 is forced into extra innings. If that wasn’t enough, the rain stretched the season out just a few minutes longer.

Whether you support either the Cleveland Indians or the Chicago Cubs, the folks who saw the game will admit that they watched sports history in the making. Lovers of baseball will talk about this series for another 108 years. It’s a safe guess that almost every baseball fan will remember exactly where they were when they finally saw the Chicago Cubs win the World Series.

New York will always give Chi-town a friendly-spirited run for their money, but for now, the Chicago Cubs have earned our Kudos and support! Congratulations to the Cubbies. Great job!

National Cyber Security Awareness Month

National Cyber Security Awareness Month

Cyber security is critical to your business. No matter your endeavor, the safety of your data is central to your success and security. At the heart of every business are passwords, financial transactions, employee data, and a host of other digital concerns. The protection you extend to this data is critical to your success.

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, organized by a joint effort between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance. This alliance between private industry and the U.S. Government is celebrating its 13th year helping you protect your data.

Take a few moments to explore the issue of cyber security. StaySafeOnline.org coordinates many efforts to protect the digital concerns of individuals, small businesses, and large corporations. Simply put – if you have a computer, you are at risk. Anyone anywhere can be hacked. This group has created an extended list of free tools and resources for everyone to help define their individual risk assessment. Here is a technology checklist for your business’s cyber concerns. Examine your company’s digital resources, to become #CyberAware of your network’s security status.

The National Cyber Security Alliance has listed an extended series of events taking place around the globe during the month of October to discuss various aspects of cyber-security. Some of these events are virtual; others are physical. Take a look at this list to see if there are any events in your area that you may be able to attend.

We often use this space to discuss advertising or tech developments. This week, we felt we’d explore an issue that helps to define our security, our independence, and our freedom in the marketplace. If you cannot specifically define the security status of your system, you may not be aware of the actual nature of your exposure.

 

Programmatic Native Advertising

Programmatic Native Advertising

We’ve all had the experience of mobile pages loading almost instantly, littered with gaping holes in the text. After a few seconds, we see those holes filled by an advertisement that finally drops into place. A significant reason for this lag-time is the different file types used to create those mobile pages. Often times, when that ad finally appears, it may not quite “fit” the page.

By its very nature, mobile content has to be powerful. It needs to be nimble on delivery. To meet the needs of the mobile user experience (UX), Google created the open-source format, AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages). Their end-purpose is to load mobile data quickly regardless of the mobile platform.

Users expect close to an immediate load, but studies show that “an alarming 77% of (mobile) publisher’s today, their web pages take more than 10 seconds to load…and the average is actually 19 seconds.” The same studies show that publisher’s “who can deliver this content in five seconds or less earn twice as much (search volume) as those at the average point.”
Paul Muret VP, Display, Video & Analytics, Google

Google announced the AMP format in December 2015; soon mobile screens were rapidly filled with new content. This covered the main content of the mobile pages. Unfortunately, the advertisements were still left dragging with a format that took longer to load, thus creating the gaping holes.

The solution was Google’s release this month of AMP for Ads. This format allows for advertising content to load at the same rate as the page content. Google also announced AMP for landing pages. This way, all mobile content is delivered seamlessly without the time gaps.

What about the mobile UX?

This technology translates to a cleaner transmission of page elements. But how do you tackle the issue of merging content, context, and UX? The answer is the Programmatic Native Advertisement in their DBM (DoubleClick Bid Manager). In short, Google has created an environment where advertisements are built from scratch to maximize each individual page load.

Before now, the artwork for a mobile ad was selected from amongst three or four established graphics previously built by a graphic artist. As an ad was called up, the best fitting graphic was chosen for that request/platform. Now, when an advertisement is requested to fill a unique audience/seller/publisher combination, the ad is crafted from scratch to fill that request. Each of the elements of those artworks is individually uploaded. The computer decides the best selection, configuration, and layout of those separate elements, relative to the audience. This programmatic approach allows for a fluid display of content across all campaigns and platforms.

Think of it this way – currently, a graphic artist may use a graphic design program to craft a polished graphic. That artwork may consist of 30 or 40 layers of visual elements. When they’re finished, a couple of polished elements are presented as options dependent upon the needs of the ad. Now imagine taking a collection of those graphic elements and tossing them all into a bowl. Programmatic Native Advertisement will select a specific cluster of those elements to create a new graphic, for each page load. The ad will be built to fill the screen, platform, size, device, all built in context to the user.

The beauty in this development is not so much the uniform data transfer rates, as it is the context in which the advertisements are experienced. The ad’s form and function will be subordinate to the mobile user experience (UX). This technology adds a unique flexibility to advertisements in the mobile universe. Gone are the days of guessing how to best craft your mobile message. If you have questions about addressing your audience, contact Colure’s development team.

The art of storytelling

The art of storytelling

The ability to communicate with your audience is crucial to every business. Your employees, your customers, and your potential audience all have the need to understand what your company offers in the marketplace.

Business Basics

The engagement of consumers with a simple idea is not a new concept, nor does it belong solely to marketers. The art of storytelling has long been central to society’s growth. As individuals, we might remember a terrifying story told to us as a youth, sitting around a campfire at summer camp. Others may remember a writer who evokes warm and cuddly feelings speaking of their first kiss. Be it terror or passion, the emotional component of the story is an element that often binds a narrative to our long-term memory.

We speak to our family, to our children, and to our peers with words meant to evoke a response. Whether we are writers, software designers, digital strategists, or graphic artists, we are all storytellers. The complexity of our stories differs from project to project, client to client. In the end, we ask only one thing – “remember my message.”

Storytelling components

If we are all shooting for the same goal, how do we stand out from the crowd? How do we send a message that is cleaner and more memorable than the competition? Emotion is one component that makes for an extraordinary story. However, knowing with whom you are speaking is incredibly important. A few gray hairs have provided me with these insights:

  • The K.I.S.S. Rule (AKA – Keep It Simple Stupid)

Try to keep your message focused. If you stray from the core of your message, you will lose your customer. Don’t fall victim to chasing ideas down a rabbit-hole. A creative environment allows for the creation of details. If those details are not kept in check, they can often dilute the original message.

  • Understand your audience

Be sure you understand your audience during this process. Be certain that you truly know your customer’s wants, needs, desires, and goals. If you just offer a message without focusing on the needs of your audience, there’s a good chance you’ll miss your mark.

  • Engage your audience

Communication is an interactive exchange of information between two or more people. This function requires a living, breathing relationship between those parties. Be sure that when you offer information to the next party, that they understand both the content and context of that information.

  • Don’t speak beyond your “voice”

As storytellers, we need to speak to our audience authoritatively. If a storyteller uses words, concepts, or ideas that are beyond their grasp, the audience will lose faith in the validity of the writer’s words. Readers have an amazing ability to identify rubbish when they see it. If you have to present an idea that is beyond your intellectual grasp, education, or base of life experience, attribute that idea to someone who possesses those skills. Don’t try to re-invent the wheel. If you have to discuss theoretical physics, don’t BS your way through it. Offer a hyperlink to someone who is qualified to speak on that subject matter.  For example, I’m not a theoretical physicist, but this team at UC Berkeley is pretty comfortable discussing these concepts. In short, you take a potential liability in your writing and create an asset by providing proper attribution to your sources.

Storytelling has been deeply engrained in the human experience for thousands of years. If you visit the Indonesian Island of Sulawesi, there you will discover the earliest known cave paintings. The images on the cave walls date back an estimated 40,000 years. These are the earliest visual stories known to be told by humans. The basic storytelling elements employed during this window in history remain the same today. Communicate an idea that can be clearly understood by your audience.

Sharing your thoughts in a context that is recognized by your audience is crucial to successful storytelling. As business leaders, you provide a material good or service that is desired by the consumer. Before they can appreciate your offerings, they must first be able to understand your story. You, in turn, must be willing to listen to what they are saying to you – not what you think they are saying. If you have any questions about reaching out to your customer base, contact Colure’s team to help you hit your mark.

Hololens Holoportation: Virtual 3D Teleportation in real-time

Hololens Holoportation: Virtual 3D Teleportation in real-time

The Microsoft Corporation has created a functional, virtual 3D teleportation system that is a mixture of multiple high-powered lens-displays, cameras, and computers. It allows for the creation of multiple virtual people in real-time, creating interaction between the participants. The system brings people from remote locations together in a single space – a virtual environment. The developers call this the “Hololens.”

In 1977, a generation of film-goers was swept up by the film “Star Wars”. Viewers were shuttled off to a distant corner of the universe that was filled with mystery, adventure, and amazing technologies. There, a holographic image of Princess Leia appears to Obi-Wan Kenobi, pleading that he’s her “only hope.”

Now, almost forty years later, that holographic dream has become a reality. Microsoft has designed their Hololens Holoportation system. It is the digital interface between imaginative dreams and amazing tech developments.

Holoportation is a new type of 3D capture technology that allows high-quality 3D models of people to be reconstructed, compressed and transmitted anywhere in the world in real time.” – Microsoft

In the demonstration video, Microsoft Research’s Shahram Izadi illustrates the practical applications of this technology.

This development shatters our perception of the boundaries of space and distance in the physical world. Sit back and enjoy. Listen to the development team describe the reality of real-time interaction with computer generated images of real people. No, we don’t need droids to share these messages. The reality of this message delivery system is undeniably amazing.

Relationship marketing and customer relationships

Relationship marketing and customer relationships

Relationships. Why are they so darn important in our lives? It’s a question that cuts to the core of the human condition. What is it about this most basic of human interactions that move our minds, our hearts, and our souls? My humble guess is that every person cradles their own, very particular answers to those questions.

Marketers have tried to access that very special part of our lives for many years. Relationship Marketing is the establishment of a long-term interaction between a company and an individual. The goal is to establish a genuine interaction, built on loyalty. That long-term relationship is essential to this process.

The tortoise and the hare?

This concept differs from transaction-based relationships, which focus on promotionally-based sales. Advertising often focuses a select message during a finite time window. Immediate sales and individual ad campaigns often pursue the short-term ROI. A long-term relationship appreciates a long-term return, provided consistently over time.

Forbes contributing writer Steve Olenski describes the concept of Relationship Marketing as revolving around one critical component:

The word I am referring to is “emotion.”

Long the holy grail of marketers and advertisers the world over, the word emotion speaks to that rarified place where few brands and advertisers reside. For just as in any relationship in life, touching on human emotions, preferably the positive emotions, is the key to any happy, healthy and long-term relationship.”

The advantages of this marketing strategy include:

  • strong word of mouth advertising
  • a higher rate of brand loyalty
  • retaining a long-term consumer is less expensive than the cost of acquiring a new customer

Embracing a consumer relationship requires knowing your market, your consumer and having an understanding of your own goals. Familiarity breeds a consistency that benefits both parties. Engaging your consumer leads to long-term gains.

If you are interested in developing long-term relationships with your customers, contact our team.

 

It’s time for your 2015 corporate social media review

It’s time for your 2015 corporate social media review

The end of the year marks the time for a broad review of your corporate social media plan. Take this opportunity to examine your media successes and failures for 2015. Before you step forward into the next calendar year, you should examine what has and has not worked for your company.

This broad overview is a specific year-end event. This differs from the regular monitoring of  your media profile. The yearly review is an opportunity to see if you have reached the broad marketing goals you set for yourself and your company. Key Performance Indicators (or KPI’s) are the benchmarks used to measure social media performance. A KPI could be the measure of website traffic, likes, clicks, or retweets. You need to examine your audience’s level of interaction with your social media profile. Are they interested? Have they been motivated to interact with your media? Are you providing the content they crave? At the end of the day – what service or content have you provided that they value?

Your media team should be analyzing your social media on a regular basis. How often? Daily, weekly, monthly, who is to say? Every company has different needs and resources. No two groups are the same. However, the one constant common to every organization is the clear need to understand their own customers. You need to decide what works best for both you and your customers.

There is one definitive answer – choosing to do nothing will be the most costly option you can select. At that point, you are wasting resources – time, money, and most importantly, your relationship with your customers.

Keep in mind that your social media profile is a living, breathing relationship between your company and your audience. It’s critical you listen to what they are telling you. However, it’s not always a simple conversation. The difference between what your customers are saying and what you are hearing can be immense. Be sure that you take the time to provide an honest evaluation of your media’s track record.

Media analytics tools make the process of analysis clean and simple. As a manager, you’ll be able to read either a brief overview or an in-depth report. Take the time to examine the story that is being presented to your team. As a business owner, this is a conversation you must understand. You don’t have to have fluent media skills, but you must be able to speak the language. You have to understand the basic concepts.

The key steps here are:

  • Research and Plan – Do Your Homework
  • Execute
  • Review your Analytics
  • Modify your Media Plan
  • Re-Execute

Let your media team do the heavy-lifting for you, but as an owner, you need to understand what they are saying. A small investment of time will yield a great reward. Learn the simple mechanics of social media analytics.

This is a polite reminder to re-examine the performance of your corporate social media portfolio for 2015. Before you do anything else, schedule a review near the end of Q4 2016 or whenever you perform your next yearly corporate media review. Don’t allow another year to pass without this critical review.

As you read these words, hopefully, you’ll smile and tell yourself “I’ve already had my yearly media review”. If this is a new concept for you, I challenge you to review your 2015 media results soon. Before you step forward into 2016, be sure to review your performance for 2015.

If you have questions how to proceed, contact Colure’s Advisory Team to help you mold your media profile for 2016.

Programmatic media buying

Programmatic media buying

The ability to present the right advertisement, to the right person, at the right moment is priceless. Computers have forever changed the advertising landscape. They have brought together all of the key stakeholders in a place of efficiency and finesse. This is called programmatic media buying (sometimes simply referred to as ‘programmatic’). Its simple beauty is founded in highly complex math. This is the algorithmic purchase and sale of advertising space in real time (1). Fluid and seamless; it presents seemingly effortless connections between the consumer, publisher, and advertiser.

It is more than just the computerized buying and selling of ad space. It’s an interactive relationship between all of the players of the online advertising world. One definition is “the automated method of buying digital advertising in which supply and demand partners make decisions on a per-impression basis and adhere to business rules as provided by the operators of each platform”. Defining the inter-relationships between the stakeholders can be difficult. A group of industry experts offered their insights to help define the process for the layperson.

Simply stated, this process levels the playing field for companies of all sizes. If two companies have the same amount of funds for advertisements, ‘Bob’s Key Shop’ can have the same market reach as a ‘Target’.

This process provides an established pathway allowing all parties to reach highly focused goals. Companies can focus their advertising budgets toward an exact audience. If they need assistance in defining their target audience, they system provides the support and data to bring the parties together. Long gone are the guesses of “how do I get my audience to notice my business?” A focused approach delivers data based results.

Programmatics have dramatically changed the marketplace for everyone. For clients entering the marketplace for the first time, the system is tremendously beneficial. “Programmatic buys are a good thing for our clients when it comes to paid media campaigns, (meaning SEM, display banners, desktop and mobile marketing) along with traditional tv campaigns. It allows us to get inventory which normally wouldn’t be available to the client, at an affordable rate. It’s definitely a good thing for paid media campaigns.” – William Belle, Chief Colure Advisor.

The system hasn’t always been embraced by everyone in the marketplace. This response is from a blog posting from just two years ago:

“Sounds like another thing for large companies to spend more on staff figuring it out than they’ll ever make/save on ROI, and another thing for scammy marketing companies to sell contract services to small businesses. In 3 to 5 years, the fad will have passed, some lessons will have been learned and the smart businesses will come and implement changes and software then. My ROI is not a beta test.”

Some of the concern is based on who the end consumer may actually be. “There is some skepticism of Programmatics because we don’t truly know if a real human is absorbing the content,” says William Belle, Chief Colure Advisor. The focus and delivery are there, but it’s impossible to gain a definitive assessment of the message consumption. The fact that a human is still the ultimate consumer leaves a variable in the equation. The true level of message absorption can never be accurately measured. Like they say, ‘you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make ’em drink’.

Despite voices of concern, the marketplace performance of programmatic purchasing has been well established. The significant growth in market share has provided the viability that few question.

If you want to discuss entering the marketplace with your business, contact Colure’s project managers to see how programmatic media buying can assist your company.

A key to corporate communications

A key to corporate communications

The mobile marketplace is placing new demands upon both corporations and how they interact with their clientele. At the core of many consumers’ concerns is the ability to obtain a clean interaction with an organization. Simple customer service requests or corporate transparency issues are often the sources of an inquiry. Success in these interactions boils down to a company being able to cleanly interact with their clients.

The solution begins with anticipating the needs of your consumer. It’s nice to be able to have customer service department that can filter incoming queries, but how does your corporate hierarchy handle that request once it hits your company’s “1-866-ASK-MEEE” phone line?

Internal communications

Communications is a proactive and interactive process. By anticipating the needs of your customers, your employees, and any possible regulatory agencies, you position yourself to respond intelligently to an inquiry of any caliber. The process starts on the inside.

Two critical needs for successful communications are:
  • an established path of open communications – Is that path flexible to meet the changing needs of the consumer and your corporation? 
  • trained “brand ambassadors” who understand your brand and your corporation. Do you have people who can effectively communicate with your clients? Do they simply read text off of a computer screen or do they actively process the requests when they are contacted by the public?

The way we interact and the way we prepare for that interaction are mission critical to the success of your brand. If a customer’s requests gets lost in a web of inefficiency, the potential PR damage is probably greater than the event that generated the initial query. No one likes to have their concerns dismissed, lost or just ignored.

Be sure that a flexible, interactive pathway is established before you “open the front door”. If your staff doesn’t have an answer, at least have the ability to ‘vamp’. Be able to intelligently acknowledge, record and pass along the very real concerns of your clients.

Your corporate brand is not an image on a bumper-sticker. It is the breathing, interactive face of your business. It is the lifeline to your customer. Be sure that you understand the process of communication.

Simplify the corporate image

The internal workings of almost any corporation are complex. Structure, hierarchies, and procedures are mission critical to keeping an organization well oiled and operational. However, when a customer calls in, they really don’t care about your structural needs – they just want a simple answer to their problem. Getting that simple answer can be like pulling teeth sometimes. Sometimes, these needs will clash with the other. The solution is found in a balance between your structure and facilitating your customers’ needs.

This is the challenge to every Corporate Communications office. How do you merge these two necessities? The challenge to most corporations is being able to listen successfully and answer intelligently. Calvin Sun wrote a great piece on corporate communications for TechRepublic.

Being able to successfully communicate involves active participation. Be ready to listen. Be ready to change for the needs of your customer, your industry, and your brand. If you want to discuss your communications needs for either internal or external clients, contact our project managers to help you get your brand to those who matter most.

Ad blocking: Who will pay for the Web?

Ad blocking: Who will pay for the Web?

Display advertising has long been the driving financial force behind the Internet. Ads pay for the consumer’s seemingly endless appetite for the content they consume each day. The market forces created by profit margins and the ever increasing power of market leverage are staggering. Together, they have driven advertisers to peruse an ever-evolving set of techniques and technologies to grasp either the user’s attention or information.

A growing opinion amongst users is that internet advertising is out of control. It occupies too much space, data, time, and invades too far into our privacy. Users have now been given the opportunity to block most of the advertisements that fill their screens. A critical problem created by blocking all of those advertisements is that ‘no ads equal no cash flow.’ With this new shift in power, who will pay for the web? How will the current economic model of the internet survive?

At the heart of the issue lies the following dichotomy: while practically everyone wants free access to almost all internet content, they want to yield profits from their own internet endeavors. They don’t want to have to pay, however, they do want a pay-day. No matter how you cut it – there is no free lunch. If you are on the internet, you are paying a price to someone.

With this cost in mind, several questions come to mind. What is a just and equitable compensation for ‘free access’ to content?  At that point of full and just compensation, do the data harvesting and advertising behaviors of the advertisers change accordingly?

There is no question the internet is a capitalistic environment. Publishers should be compensated for their efforts and content. The question then becomes ‘what is a reasonable price for their product?’ Should users be given a price or simply subjected to endless mining of their resources and data simply in exchange for access to content? These questions have established a blurry synergy established between the users and providers. How many advertisements are enough? At which point has the consumer fairly compensated the publisher for the content they have consumed? When has enough data been mined?

In the past few years, a growing debate has given rise to the concerns of excess. It is virtually impossible to access any online platform without being, for the lack of a better description, attacked by advertising or silently data-mined. The scary part of the equation is that while consumers are aware of the advertisements that are flashed endlessly in front of their face, they have no clue as to the nature, amount, or depth of the data about that is silently harvested behind the screen.

Bluntly, this is the price of doing business. If you access the internet, you will pay the piper.

There is a growing backlash over the increasingly invasive nature of net advertising. At the forefront of this battle are two corporate giants – Apple and Google. One corporation has built their business model upon the mining of data, the funds generated through online advertising, and content management. The other has provided the consumer with the ability to limit the access of that reach.

The recent release of Apples’ iOS 9 and OS X operating systems include “content-blocking extensions” (AKA  “ad-blocking software”). If users can now effectively remove advertisements from the ‘free web’ who will pay the bills?

This clash of titans was eloquently described in a recent posting. I’ve posted an excerpt from it here:

The central philosophical dispute over ad-blocking goes something like this: Publishers have no right to force readers to be exposed to certain kinds of ads or allow numerous third parties to collect their information without a prior agreement; readers have no right to read or view content that they don’t pay for in one form or another, be it with money or data. What is not in dispute is that if ad-blocking becomes ubiquitous (and there’s nearly every reason to think that it will be!) it will be devastating for publications who derive much or all of their revenue from advertising—which comprises most of the professional publications on the internet. When Murphy first posted about “an hour with Safari Content Blocker in iOS 9,” he asked, rhetorically, “Do I care more about my privacy, time, device battery life & data usage or do I care more about the content creators of sites I visit to be able to monetise effectively and ultimately keep creating content? Tough question. At the moment, I don’t know.” (With the impending release of Crystal, it seems he’s resolved that tension.) When I spoke with Chris Aljoudi, lead developer on uBlock, an extension that tells users how many third-party scripts are active on a webpage, and asked how sites should sustain themselves if all of their ads are blocked, he replied, “I’m not an expert on whether it’s a business model, I don’t think we need to know as developers of a tool like this.” Even if they don’t have solutions, “users need to be able to control what they are forced to come across,” Aljoudi said, using the example of nytimes.com, a website for which no known mandate of visitation exists.                                                                                                                                                                                                      – Casey Johnson writing for theawl.com

In order to provide “free access” to content, publishers rely upon heavily inserting code scripts that too often invade users space, take control of the window, or harvest an unknown amount about data about the user. Providers do this to pay the bills. A broader question for everyone is ‘how and when can equity be found for all parties at the table?’

At Colure, we are well aware of this consternation and provide a balanced approach to advertising:
The way we differ from our competitors is that we help our clients with a balanced advertising portfolio. Within this picture, display or PPC advertisements would only be a single component of the greater picture. We also recommend SEO, app store optimization, blogging, syndicated or sponsored blogging with influencers. Digital PR is critical; let us not forget our recommendations for social media with content management. At the end of the day, we move forward to find a proper, working balance between the needs of our clients and those of the public.

Communications with your client and their customer base is an ever evolving game of chess. If you would like to discuss your project needs, contact our project managers.

The age of the Smart Home is now

The age of the Smart Home is now

The vision to interconnect your washing machine, refrigerator and even your windows by an internet connection, may soon be built into your next home. True control the of your home’s operation from your smartphone is rapidly approaching.

The redefinition of objects changes not only the form but the function of an object. It tandem, the modifications change the home from a static object into an interactive reflection of your life. In one example, the deadbolt for your front door has been computerized. The metal key is often gone and access has become a relative commodity. Owners can now control who has access, where and for how long right through a mobile app.

Over the past decades, what was seen as fanciable dreams is now being engineered into reality. The ideas of books and TV shows like “Star Trek” continue to find a growing place in our lives.

The bringing together of multiple devices in your home, working in tandem, is soon to be a reality. It requires an openness of spirit and vision in the manufacturing sector. “Without this kind of openness,” Samsung CEO BK Yoon stated in a recent keynote presentation, “there won’t be an ‘Internet of Things’ because the things will not fit together.”

What is the ‘Internet of Things’? It is a realm, in the near future, where multiple household items hold as valid a place on the Internet as do your smartphone and computer. In a few short years, it is widely proposed that many of the items in our homes, those we now see as independent and isolated, will all be interconnected.

When it comes to our homes, many believe the issue is a matter of redefining our vision of the world around us. To meet this challenge, Apple has embarked upon Homekit. This framework is designed to provide developers the tools “…for communicating with and controlling connected accessories in a user’s home.”

The market has been defined by our dreams, needs and technologies. As time quickly passes, we will see the marriage of what we once thought of as static and isolated. The idea of how and what we define as ‘home’ will quickly shift, as developers continue to provide us more control over our living spaces.

The future of data cookies could be on a restricted diet.

The future of data cookies could be on a restricted diet.

Cookies have long been at the center of software developer’s diets (that’s data cookies). In order to gauge the appetite of the public, developers track user’s digital behaviors. Cookies have been the default bit of tracking code inserted programs of all sorts, in order to read the digital footprint of a consumer.

While this has been wonderful for the marketer and business person, many consumers have found the “tracking from the shadows” to be an intrusion into their private lives. As technology continues to evolve, we’ve seen how cookies have been used.

Two new shifts present another set of changes for the evolving diet of consumer information:

  1. Mobile devices offer a limited use of data tracking. The major problem with mobile cookies that they are not universal. They cannot be applied everywhere.
  2. Upgrades in the next iOS operating system will allow consumers to block cookies. Adblocking is coming to the iPhone with iOS 9. Consumers will be able to block advertisements from hitting some of the major web pages. What this means to advertisers and the finances of the digital ecosystem still remains to be determined.

Although the function and face of cookies continue to shift, the end purpose of tracking consumer behavior will never end. As we see these two trends take hold, new courses of consumer tracking are sure to evolve.

If you are interested in defining your mobile dreams, contact Colure’s Project Managers to describe your project.

U.S. Women’s Soccer Team enjoys a Ticker Tape Parade in New York City

Thousands of soccer fans flooded Manhattan today for a the city’s first ticker tape parade for an all-female sports team. As the US Women’s Soccer Team passed down NYC’s ‘Canyon of Heroes’, many renamed the trek as the ‘Canyon of Heroines’.

The list of ticker-tape parades in New York City has been reserved for those who have made significant contributions to the nation. The tradition started with an impromptu parade in 1886 for the dedication of the Statue of Liberty. Other celebrants include Albert Einstein, Charles Lindbergh, John F. Kennedy, the New York Yankees and Mets, and the Crew of Apollo 11, the first men on the Moon.

Colure joins with New York City and the rest of America as we celebrate this fantastic win for American Women’s Soccer! Congratulations to the team and to their supporters! Job well-done ladies!

Study confirms Americans’ Internet usage headed toward market saturation

Study confirms Americans’ Internet usage headed toward market saturation

The Pew Research Institute has released an analysis of Americans’ internet usage spanning the past 15 years. The study shows our collective internet use pointing toward an end goal of total market saturation. As Pew looked across all demographics lines, they saw two key points:

  • All groups were steadily increasing the level of internet integration into their lives.
  • The rate of increase varied between groups.

Starting in 2000, Pew conducted 97 studies examining how American adults use the internet in various facets of their lives. Amongst the data, four key data points displayed usage within certain communities:

  • Age: Young adults showed the highest level of usage, but senior citizens demonstrated the highest rate of growth for usage within their age group.
  • Education: Adults who are college educated are more apt to use the internet. However, those with less than a high school diploma have shown a steady increase in usage.
  • Financial: Family households with a yearly income above $75,000 reflect a 96% usage rate. Families with annual incomes below $30,000 reflect a dramatically lower usage rate, but that number is steadily increasing with the use of smartphones.
  • Ethnic: English-speaking Asian-Americans reflect the highest usage by ethnicity. All other ethnicities reported lower rates, but all showed proportionally consistent growth.

During the life of this study, Americans have consistently demonstrated a demand to integrate the internet into their lives. If consumer trends continue, we should see this trend of internet access entering more corners of our lives.

The cost of running your own social media

The cost of running your own social media

Running your own business is more than a full-time job. If you are like most entrepreneurs, you’re probably already working between 40 to 60+ hours per week handling the day-to-day operations of your company. A huge question that frequently hits the corporate boardroom is “in addition to running my own company, should I also handle my company’s social media?”

First and foremost, we applaud the entrepreneurial spirit. It’s this drive that motivates each business owner to reach for their greatest dreams. Everyone has their own goals and abilities. The drive to “do it all” is often found at the core of success. But everyone has limits on two of their most basic resources – time and ability.

Let’s be frank – You probably would not try to fix your own transmission, perform a medical procedure on yourself or defend yourself in court. If you saw someone else trying to do this, you might be tempted to ask “Is that ego or ability?” The operations of your corporation and managing the corporation’s social media are two separate, full-time jobs. If you can honestly handle both of these corporate tasks, then we tip our hat to both you and your achievements. Not many individuals are able to muster both the time and intellectual resources needed to accomplish this set of tasks. If you cannot perform flawlessly in both arenas simultaneously, it’s only a matter of time before one or both of these two paths will become compromised.

Learning a new skill set, in order to communicate with other professionals, is critical for your growth and survival. However, there’s a huge difference between actually developing a functional skill set and “thinking” that you possess those skills. Understanding the differences between these two positions could be the line between success and failure.

Running a corporate social media mechanism requires time, industry perspective and a refined skill set. The social media manager must possess a social acuity, finesse and the undeniable ability to communicate with others. In most cases, this is NOT a part-time job. Unfortunately, these are not skills you’ll acquire ‘just because you have a Facebook account’.

Corporate owners might consider the actual cost of social media:
  • Do I actually understand what it takes to do the job? The wrong manager will kill a project. It’s that simple. Just because a manager understands some of some of the project parameters, does not guarantee that they possess a broader base of knowledge and experience required to manage the entire project. A solid project manager appreciates when they do not possess the expertise for a given objective. There is a time when knowledgeable experts are needed to facilitate a process or project. 
  • Can I do the job? You need to ask yourself – objectively – “Do I have the ability to dedicate myself full-time to my company’s social media needs?” Can an entrepreneur effectively fulfill the social media needs of their corporation and then spend an additional 60+ hours per week running their company?
  • What is your long-term objective? Do you want to be able to communicate with functioning teams or do you need to be in control of everything? There’s a huge difference between managing teams and trying to micromanage everything and everyone around you. One behavior is healthy. One is not.

A wise choice to consider is hiring a team who can objectively handle your social media needs. Whether this is an internal or an external team is the next question. That answer will be determined by your corporate needs, budget and audience. Knowing the limits of your own skill base is the first step in defining both your corporation and its social footprint.

If you are interested in exploring various social media possibilities for your corporation, contact Colure’s project managers.

Wearable Technology Trends for Mobile Applications

Wearable Technology Trends for Mobile Applications

Wearable technologies have become part of both our personal and corporate landscapes. As each day passes, we see new wearable applications being introduced to the marketplace. Multiple industries are integrating the technologies into their operations. Runners and athletes of all capabilities use wearable computers to document tremendous amounts of data about their physical status. We may take the wearables for granted as part of our everyday lives, but it has been a path that developers have been embracing for years:

  • Medical applications – Years ago we heard a TV commercial describe a patient who had fallen but could not get up to call for help. Those same patients today can communicate with emergency responders by transmitting critical medical data through a wearable computer. Although a patient may not be conscious, their wearable computer is still able to intercede with life-saving communications. Techcrunch.com took a look at the advantages of pairing wearable technologies with the medical community.
  • Google Glass – In April, 2012 Google started the public discussion of their eyeglass-mounted computer, “Project Glass”. This was the beginning of “Google Glass”. The evolution of Google Glass has encountered not only a technology growth curve, but also a social growth curve. Community members react differently to social norms being challenged when someone arrives in crowded a room wearing a camera on their face. The history of the Glass project has been well documented by glassalmanac.com.
  • The Apple Corporation – Apple has invested heavily, banking on the success of their smart watch, called the “iWatch”. Many see the iWatch as the next step of the wearables revolution. While many ‘smart watches’ temporarily record data, they are anchored to a larger smart phone to download and process data. The recently announced upgrades for the iWatch demonstrate it to be a more of a self-sustaining platform. “This new version will have great new capabilities and bring native apps right to your wrist,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a recent announcement. The first generation needs to dock with an iPhone 5 (or later) but is setting the basis for an independent system with future developments. 

Being able to stay current involves not only understanding your clients’ current needs, but also appreciating the trends in the marketplace that affect our daily lives. Writing mobile apps for wearables is the next step in our evolution for programmers, runners and patients. Being able to communicate intelligently is critical to our growth.

Advantages of mobile applications for small businesses

Advantages of mobile applications for small businesses

A smartly developed mobile application can help level the playing field between companies of any size. The key to success lies within the quality of the user experience (UX). If a customer has a meaningful interaction, there is a better than average chance they will return to your company’s application. Much of a consumer’s attitude toward a company is molded by the quality of the interaction created by the company’s mobile application.

Here are 5 key advantages of a mobile application for any small business:
  • Access to the customer at all times – Possibly the greatest advantage is being able to interact with your customers in a truly meaningful way. The mobile app allows the consumer to decide when they are primed for your specific service or product. The user decides when and to which extent they are willing interact with you.
  • Marketing – Develop a meaningful relationship with the customer. A quality user experience (UX) will allow you to provide an interactive relationship that cannot be developed through other media. Take this opportunity to market not only your product but more your industry to your customer. By providing additional information and resources, the customer will probably engage your application for a longer period of time. More attention directed toward your application can often equal more revenue generated by that customer base. Think of this as a digital version of the free classes provided by home improvement stores. They’ll hire an expert to teach a free class on tiling or plumbing. When class is over, all of the students start grabbing tools and supplies off the shelves. It provides a great ROI.
  • Direct customer feedback – the amount of real-time data gathered by your app has a value that extends far beyond simple transactions. It reaches the very mindset of the consumer. You are able to decipher the specific wants and needs of the user.
  • Specifically craft your product to interact with a specific audience – Most media sources provide a one-sided relationship. Mobile applications allow you can craft an interactive product that targets a finite audience, with a specific interface. No other format allows for such an engaging experience. Creating a truly rewarding user experience must be “Goal #1”.
  • Brand Identity – Crafting your brand requires a labor of love. It takes time and commitment to craft a brand with whom the consumer truly identifies. Your brand includes a living, breathing relationship with your customer. Be sure to respect your customer as you would any relationship. By providing a truly remarkable user experiences, your audience will return time and again to your app.

Separating yourself from the competition takes a quality product, planning, and skill. The interactive relationship you develop with your customers will help determine your future growth. Don’t leave that development to chance. Never take your relationship with your customers for granted. The greatest downfall for many companies is to negate their customers’ true wants and needs, in favor of their own vision of the same. Being blinded by your own biases can be a very costly mistake.

Success is built upon many well measured steps. When you are ready to take your first steps in the development process, contact Colure’s Project Managers to explore your vision of success.

In-App Advertising for Mobile Applications

In-App Advertising for Mobile Applications

Mobile devices have been described as ‘this generation’s fuel for their soul’. It seems as though every function, need or desire can be addressed, answered or satisfied by some type of mobile application. Being able to monetize these behaviors has been a point of significant focus by corporations both large and small. Competition in the marketplace is incredibly fierce. Successful market shares are measured in both time and dollars; the two are inextricably connected. The longer you keep a user engaged in your application, the better your odds are of generating revenue from that user. 

The big question that faced developers for years concerned both of these factors. How do you keep a user interested while engaging their wallets? In order to retain your clients, you need to hold their attention. A quality interface engages the user and won’t let them drift away from your application. Unfortunately, traditional advertising would do exactly that! When a user clicked on an advertisement inserted into a mobile application, they were whisked away to a distant website, often unable to find their way back to the place they started…the app. So how do you enjoy a mobile app without being taken to a web browser solely for advertiser content?

In 2009, Apple and Google got into a bidding war over a tech start-up which introduced a unique solution to that question. That solution integrated high-quality advertising directly into a mobile application’s operating platform. Google won the bidding war and acquired what would later be released as AdMob. The competitor of this was iAd, introduced as a new component of Apple’s iOS 4 operating system. Both provided customized, high-quality content, able to engage the user on many levels. This advertising platform, within a mobile platform, allowed the developer to engage the user with content, without taking them away from the app of their choice.

Both advertising platforms address a considerable business opportunity. Unfortunately, iAd was never able to conquer a majority of the market. After a few years on the market, iAd has had more than its share of challenges.

The market trends show that the demand for in-app advertising is strong. Users liked to be wooed right where they are, cradled comfortably inside of an app. As time passes, developers will have to continue the task of redeveloping advertising platforms.

Beginning with the earliest of spoken story tellers, advertisers have wanted the consumer right in the palm their hand. The mobile device has re-defined that for the foreseeable future – it is now the advertiser who is begging to be held by the consumer.

Project management for mobile app software development

Project management for mobile app software development

How do you develop a simple idea into a fully functional mobile app? The answer is quite simple – solid project management. Many individuals have ideas for an app, but not many invest the needed time and effort to bring the idea to maturity. Along with your vision, you’ll need an experienced project manager and development team who can help you avoid the pitfalls often associated with a new project.

Project management ideas:
  • Be sure that you are fulfilling a real need. This need could be a totally new idea you create or you could be advancing an existing idea. No matter the origin, be sure that your app actually has a valid purpose. Make sure that it actually does something.
  • Allow your idea to mature. Anyone can place a half-baked app into the market. Don’t fall into the trap of ‘rushing for sake of rushing.’ Time is critical for the maturity of ideas and growth.
  • Take off your blinders. One of the most difficult moments in project development is when you concede that someone outside of your ‘camp’ may have a better idea than yourself. Yes, you too may have a solid idea, but always be ready to listen to the perspective of others. They just might possess a wealth of knowledge from years of experience or education. Take the time to listen with a level head. The viewpoint offered by those outside of your project can often see past your own biasses. Just because you came up with an idea does not mean that your idea will always the best. Each project manager needs to appreciate their own limits. A responsible project manager knows when to check their ego at the door. It’s a  tough lesson, but one that will surface in almost every project, in one form or another.
  • Learn from your mistakes. A poorly developed idea is usually worse than a simply weak idea. The weak idea often has a couple of good ideas at it’s core, but may lack refinement. Poorly developed projects are often riddled with a lack of planning, vision, and purpose. These projects are often doomed from the beginning.
  • Break the process into manageable steps. Be sure you’ve taken the time to explore the needs of the development process. Don’t try to do everything in one step. You’ll need to be able to review and modify your project as it progresses. Make sure that you identify both the short and long-term needs of the project. Growth and development are mission critical.
  • Work with a development team. Engage a team of professionals who understand the subtleties of breathing life into your ideas. As the originator of your idea, you need to stay focused, but stay open minded.

TechRepublic put together a great list of pitfalls that can plague a software development project. Often, project mechanics get gummed up for different reasons. Sometimes those reasons are valid. Sometimes they’re not.

When you’re ready to explore the needs of your next development, contact Colure’s project managers to discuss your dreams.

Mobile gaming is big business

Mobile gaming is big business

There’s no question that the greatest money makers in the app stores today are games. Entertainment is serious business for both the Apple and Google’s app stores. Gamasutra.com looked at the trend and found without question, that one person’s entertainment is another’s business.

The top two revenue-generating apps from late last year both generated over a million dollars per day. During October 2014, Supercell’s “Clash of Clans” brought in almost $1.4 million each day and King’s “Candy Crush Saga” brought in just under $1.2 million per day in the major app stores (Apple and Google).

The vast majority of the market is filled with players who elect to play free-for-play games. However, the numbers of players who actually generate funds are amazing limited, as a percentage of the audience. Gamasutra added that “Only 2.2% of users ever pay in free-to-play games, and 46% of the total revenue comes from just 0.22% of the total amount of mobile users, Swrve reports.”

It’s been reported that the average user checks their smartphone over 1000 times per week! That number may seem a bit high, but it demonstrates how engrained the mobile phone has become in our lives. With repeated use and shorter attention spans, game developers must capitalize on bringing the customer back to their app.

Although the numbers show a tremendous usage of the device, we see the average user launching apps about 10 times per day. These numbers reflect repeated usage of a limited number of apps. Thus, the market share for competing apps is tremendous. If you can hook the user into coming back to your app, you’ll retain their time and funds. More importantly, you’ll keep those resources from being spent on other developer’s applications.

The gamer is hooked by an enticingly addictive environment, then offered pay-for-play levels deeper inside of the game. The funds are generated by offering ever increasing levels of adventure, tools, rewards, and exploration.

Contact Colure to engage our game development team. The market is hot for those who want to host their own games.

The importance of UX and UI in mobile app design

The importance of UX and UI in mobile app design

Creating a fluid user experience is central to the function and flow of any mobile application. User Interface (UI) design explores how an app looks and interacts with a user. User experience (UX) defines how the app feels, from the users’ perspective. These concepts are at the development core of any mobile project.

During the development cycle, focus on the end product. Be sure that all of your efforts are centered upon the end user; concentrate on how they will interact and react to your app. Here are a few things to keep in mind while you design your new app:

UX/UI Must Haves:
  • Offer specific mobile-only functionality. Be sure that the product you put in the users’ hands will fulfill their mobile needs and wants. Make certain that the end experience is as solid as the function.
  • Design core features specifically for the target audience. Are you focusing on gamers or shoppers? Regardless of your audience, all features must deliver as promised. Take the time to ensure that the user’s experience dovetails with the features in hand.
  • The use of multimedia should be considered for the project. Be sure that the user has full control over the media. Don’t allow the media to become a memory hog.
UX/UI Mistakes:
  • Don’t confuse web UX for mobile UX. Simply scaling down the UX features of a web page is not the same as designing an app that is built specifically for a mobile platform. These are two different platforms with very different audiences.
  • Build an app that highlights your mobile users’ needs. Don’t build an app just so you can justify all of your ideas. Feedback, change and growth are all critical factors in the development cycle.
  • Be sure that you app has a specific function. Make sure that it actually does something. If your app ends up as a glorified sign-up page for a service, you’re going to upset the very people you are trying to reach.

DigitalGov.gov has established a set of guidelines to help the US Government develop quality mobile applications for the consumer. They looked at a wide variety of UX and UI design issues. This list provides an interesting set of ideas to examine while you consider your next mobile app. Not all of these ideas may be relevant to your project, but they provide a solid core of ideas to consider while you dream and design.

No matter the purpose or function of your application, the end product must provide a superior quality customer UX. If you aren’t ready or able to place a flawless mobile experience into your customers’ hands, the release of a lower quality app could be doing more harm than good to your reputation. Keep both the UX and UI design at the forefront of your design.

Contact Colure’s development team to discuss your dreams for a mobile application.

“Mobilegeddon” and Google’s algorithm update

“Mobilegeddon” and Google’s algorithm update

On April 21st, 2015, Google will release a major update to their search engine algorithms, significantly expanding the role of mobile-friendliness. This is widely considered by many, to be one of the largest game-changing events in the history of internet analytics. The announcement was made officially on Google’s blog in February of this year.

Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high-quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”

Mobile access has already dominated the marketplace. Companies who have not integrated a mobile-mentality into their marketing plan are already being hurt because of the lack of customers who can view their website. The new shift in search results could significantly limit the remaining market share available to these companies. Companies without a mobile design will drop dramatically in the search engine rankings.

The purpose is to be sure that companies are adopting a mobile-friendly mentality to meet the expanding demands of the consumer. This event is about more than just having website with a Responsive Web Design. This is about companies embracing an entirely different mentality toward their marketing efforts. Next week’s shift will be monumental in the marketplace.

The event is significant enough to have been dubbed “Mobilegeddon” within the industry. This change will firmly establish what the industry already knows – mobility is not an “option”. It is a “must have” feature at the core of every application. The cost benefit of this move will re-enforce what many companies are already experiencing. Those who have not embraced the mobile movement will pay a significant price for not keeping up with the demands of the market and the consumer.

What will be changed? Google is keeping that a pretty tight secret. However, a recent post by Cindy Krum and Emily Grossman of MOZ, provides one of the best explanations I’ve seen of the upcoming changes. They discuss, in depth, how this will affect you and your company.

To assist companies in gauging these changes, Google has provided a test page for you to check your website’s mobile-friendliness.

Whether or not you have already modified your marketing plan, website and approach to mobile-friendliness, there’s an outstanding chance that next Tuesday should be pretty interesting. It’s sure to grab the attention of many CEO’s and stockholders.

Contact Colure’s Project Management Team to discuss your mobile concerns.

The Software Development Process

The Software Development Process

The Software Development Process is an organized, systematic approach to developing software. It’s an organized pathway traveled together by both the client and a software development team. The development cycle is an upward spiral that allows for discovery, new growth, consideration of new ideas, inspiration and change.

The process begins when a client approaches a development team with an idea for a new ‘digital mousetrap’. It’s critical that the software team listen to all the concerns of the client. These may include a timetable, budget concerns, support, logistics and so on. In turn, the clients must understand that the development team will do everything in their power to assist them.

During your application’s development, you will encounter numerous pressures that will divert you from your end goal. It is critical that you have a focused plan and a development team who can appreciate these concerns. A solid team will keep your project focused toward a specific goal.

The Software Development Process includes the:

  • development phase – it starts as an idea, quickly followed by an analysis; quality standards are established; specific goals are set.
  • design phase – you’ll discuss form, function and the delegation of duties.
  • implementation phase – The actual program code is written during the implementation phase.
  • testing and verification phase – after the development team has a working copy of the project, they will usually issue it out to a limited group for beta testing. Here, they gather data on what works and what can be refined. Quality standards are met.
  • documentation phase – here the data is brought together and assessments are made.
  • maintenance phase – this is the longest phase. It consists of the constant updating of the program and customer management. This phase continues long after the final release of the project.
The key to success is open communication.

The process is often met with long hours, varied opinions, and strong emotions for a project. This mixture of blood, sweat and tears is critical to the creative process. For as much as a client is passionate about the function of an application, the creative team has similar motivations. They view the project from the inside-out. Ones and zeros take on form, function and texture.

It is this marriage of visions that brings life to the original idea. Each project is more than just the sum total of the various parts. The project evolves with each new idea, inspiration, and dream. Contact Colure’s Development Team to discuss bringing your software dreams to life.

SEO For Small Businesses

SEO For Small Businesses

Efficient search engine optimization (SEO) is vital to every business. Regardless of size or industry, the critical need to analyze your internet data is key to every business owner. Small business owners are often challenged by not having a staffer dedicated to looking after these affairs. This frequently leaves business owners facilitating both the mechanical end of their business and needing to extend themselves to cover their digital concerns.

Keeping a few tips in mind can help you as wade through these waters:

  1. Never consider you website complete. Because of the dynamic nature of the market, your clients, and your business, you need to constantly tweak your site. It cannot be seen as static, nor can your business.
  2. Learn the mechanics of Google. They’re a dominant force in the internet industry today. In order to understand how your site will interact with the internet, you need to learn how Google operates. Here are three SEO tools to investigate:
      1. Google Webmaster Tools – Explore these tools. They will help you understand how Google views your site and provides you the tools to interact with Google.
      2. Google Analytics – Here you will learn the statistical background of your customers.
      3. Google My Business – Set up a ‘Google My Business’ account. This is a social networking platform to share digital content with businesses and customers. By establishing an account, you increase your visibility across the entire Google network. One of the most critical things to do here is to categorize your business properly. Google allows you to place your business into two of five categories. The purpose for this is so Goggle can better understand your business and is able to provide cleaner search placement results.
  1. Be sure that your content is relevant and up to date. When a customer looks at your page you’ll have less than eight seconds to hold their attention. Make the effort to keep your data current and competitive. It’s important to have clean, easy-to-access information for your customer’s needs.

No matter your size or need, clean and efficient SEO operations are critical to everyone. Contact Colure about helping your organization rise to the surface in the search engine rankings.

Project management tools for advertising agencies

Project management tools for advertising agencies

Project management tools are designed to help agencies to bring their projects from conception to completion. The ways in which you manage every idea, resource, and staffer will affect your ultimate destination. Given the span of variables in the creation process, it’s impossible to find one simple answer to meet everyone’s needs. Whether you are a team of one or 50 members, success is built upon a systematic approach.

A simple starting point to determine your PM (project management) needs, is to look back at your last three projects. What went wrong? What worked well? Was your problem time management? Was it information management? Was it the way you utilized your teams? Were you able to reconcile your billable hours against your accounts? Did you have an organized plan of attack or did you feel as though you were trying to round-up a bunch of wild cats?

The completion of your project is based on the premise that you have a solid footing in project management. This requires being able to wear multiple managerial hats. When it comes to project management skills, everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. It’s critical to identify what skills you have mastered and which may need a bit of help. It’s safe to say that almost everyone needs a bit of assistance with at least one skill.

An organized approach to your project is critical. Here are a few tools that can help you and your team better understand your project needs. Each of these applications has their own feel; all of these are strong tools to move you closer to a successful completion.

Suggested Project Management Tools:
  • Tomsplanner.com This is a simple, Gantt chart subscription service. This offers a strong starting point to organize your thoughts. This is a great place to organize a project’s multiple needs and resources.
  • Basecamp.com Organize your teams’ efforts around multiple projects. This system works well by internalizing conversations.
  • Wrike.com This platform likes to expand its communications across email platforms.
  • Getharvest.com This system does a great job of integrating your various finances.
  • Pivotstack.com offers a multitude of services from PM, accounting, and communications.

Every journey begins with a first step. Be sure that you move your project forward, towards a successful destination. Contact Colure’s Project Managers to discuss your visions for successful software development, marketing and concept development.

The power of the “Alex From Target” Campaign

In November 2014, a simple photo of some guy at working at Target was posted on the internet. As a result, untold thousands of people have been going crazy trying to learn more about him. The now cultural icon #alexfromtarget was born. Who is he? Where’s he from? And a lot of girls are asking “Is he single?” The simple answers to a number of those basic questions are answered in a posting from LinkedIn.

The amazing aspect of this story is not that a lot of folks are interested in this guy from Texas. The take-home message is the recognition of how a simple moment in life was specifically manipulated into a breathing, growing internet sensation. It became a very successful media campaign. This is the untapped potential energy (and financial value) of the Internet. This highlights the specific resource that every marketer and advertiser dreams of manipulating.

What is the “Alex From Target” campaign and ‘does it actually matter’?

Consider the implications of being able to motivate millions to comment, to have them make a social comment about their own lives. Imagine bringing people to action just because they saw an image of some guy putting something into a bag. ‘What is the purpose of this campaign?’ That question falls into a far distant second place behind the reality that focused social media has motivated masses of people to action.

As content creators and storytellers, we must know how to share our ideas, thoughts, and feelings. Being able to motivate your audience is a mission-critical goal. Connecting with your audience is at the heart of any media campaign.

In 1989, film director Phil Alden took a group of moviegoers to an obscure cornfield in northeastern Iowa. There, a voice told us “If you build it, he will come…” Those simple words became a catch-phrase that changed the cultural landscape of a generation. If you ever have the pleasure to actually stand upon home-plate at the ‘Field of Dreams’, in Dyersville, IA (as I have), you will feel the magic.

Both of these are strong examples of how a simple idea became a cultural event. Have faith in your ideas, belief in your dreams and clarity in your visions. Whether you plan to write a simple blog or to engineer the most incredible mobile application, keep in mind that any social movement begins with a simple idea.

Contact Colure’s storytellers and software engineers to express your dreams. We hope 2015 will bring your dreams to fruition.

What is a Minimum Viable Product (or MVP)?

What is a Minimum Viable Product (or MVP)?

Every entrepreneur wants to release their product with a complete set of features and functions. They want to be able to solve the needs of their customers within the first product release. The reality is that in order to gain insight to your customer, you need to get your product into their hands so they can provide feedback. In this way, you have direct insight to their tastes, needs and wants. What is the absolute basic commodity that can be built in order to answer those needs?

Every development opportunity presents the creative team the same question: “What problem do we need to solve and what is the most cost efficient way to solve that problem? The answer is the development of a minimum viable product (MVP). The “MVP is a development technique in which a new product or website is developed with sufficient features to satisfy early adopters.[1]

How barebones is ‘minimum’?

In short, the MVP is the absolute base model of an application or website, one which offers the fewest number of features to make it a viable entity in the marketplace. This model presents the very basics of your concept to which the customer can both interact and react. It is from this interaction you gain valuable insights to your customer’s wants and needs.

The key to this process is gaining information. You will be able to craft the development of your idea to specifically reach the needs of your customer. Without this insight, you can very easily waste time, money, and effort building features that will take you down a rabbit-hole, which might offer a limited ROI.

The MVP is an ongoing process that constantly redefines the concept, the customer, and the market. It starts with an idea to meet a need in the market. In order to understand the market needs you will need insight to your customers. To understand your customers, you must understand how the market is or is not facilitating their needs. As you learn more about each leg of the puzzle, you gain a greater insight to the whole process. It creates an upwards spiral that leads to a more sophisticated development of your original concept.

Almost every product or service has passed through some form of the MVP process. Everyone in the marketplace, from entrepreneur to Google and Apple, have all explored this process.

The minimum viable product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.” [2] Your goal as a entrepreneur is to develop your idea with the least cost and effort; reaching out to an audience to gain the most information about them; offering a product in the marketplace that customers will use and purchase with the absolute minimal number of features.

Contact Colure’s Development Team to discuss a strategic approach to your concepts and dreams. Our team has developed numerous apps, some with 10 million+ downloads.

Top 10 Mobile Applications of 2014

Top 10 Mobile Applications of 2014

As 2014 draws to a close, we look back at a few of the many mobile applications that were released this year. Developers worked to create a new set of tools to aid us in our mobile travels. This collection represents examples of outstanding form, function, and flavor. This is not a listing of the most popular apps of the year. These are presented in no particular order, only as a group of outstanding finalists. Each app is a shining example, demonstrating its ease of use and functionality.

The Mobile App Finalists

  • WunderStation by Weather Underground (iOS)   This wonderful weather app is incredibly flexible for your travel needs.
  • Wickr-Top Secret Messenger (Android / iOS)   Secure and entertaining messaging.
  • Monument Valley(Android / iOS / Kindle)   A visually stimulating game.
  • Google Analytics (Android / iOS)   Not a new program, but a new app. Analyze the web in your hand.
  • Lingua.ly (Android / iOS)   A new school of thought to learn a new language.
  • Scout (Android, iOS)   A strong navigation tool.
  • avast! Mobile Security (Android)   Security in the palm of your hand.
  • Seamless (Android, BlackBerry, iOS)   Your city’s food at your fingertips!
  • Evernote (Android, BlackBerry 10, iOS, Windows Phone)   Organize your thoughts and your notes.
  • Microsoft Office (Android, iOS, Windows Phone)   The power of editing Microsoft documents in you mobile device.

This is a wonderful selection of apps available for your mobile device. However, no discussion of 2014 would be complete without addressing the issue of cloud security. Repeated invasions of cloud facilities emphasize the need for everyone to be careful of where and how they store their prized data. One mobile app that challenges the norm is not a new release for 2014, but it is incredibly relevant to this year’s events. For this reason, we include as a bonus app:

  • Spider Oak (Android / iOS)   Encoded Cloud Storage. Your data is encoded before it is stored in the cloud.

Thank you for following our blog this year. We wish you the very best in 2015!

Marketing mobile applications

Marketing mobile applications

How should you approach the marketing of your newly designed mobile application? Competition within the mobile apps market has never been more fierce. Both Google Play and The Apple Store each offer over 1.3 million apps available for download. Each day, the competition grows tighter. The fight for market share grows tougher. At every turn, someone smarter, faster, and possessing a potentially better mouse trap releases a new application.

So how do you compete? How do you possibly fight for elbow room on the worldwide stage? How do you struggle against a competition with seemingly endless resources? The answer is to be smart in the way you prepare for the fight. To paraphrase an ancient (4th or 5th Century) text ‘the best victory is achieved when the war is won before the battle begins.’

Create a Marketing Strategy

  • Establish a solid Pre-Launch Strategy

Before you spend your limited resources on development, you need to know if you have a place in the market. Do your homework with a competitive market analysis. Find out if there is a viable market for your product. If so, use this exercise to define that market. You must know exactly who are your customers, the market, and your competition. Learn these things before you begin your development. If not, you are wasting your resources.

  • Maximize social media

Create an impressive demo video of your product or service. Utilize social media to maximize your message. Craft your message to reach a very specific audience. Be sure that you are marketing your ideas is a way that communicates to your customer base. You can’t just toss out an app and expect people to find it. Create media kits you’ll provide to industry icons who review and promote new applications.

  • Maximize the resources of the app stores

If you plan to release in one of the major application stores, be sure to research how to best make use of their resources. Find out how other competitors have marketed their products and learn from their experiences.

Regardless of your strengths, you must first understand your own weaknesses. No matter how smart, how fast, or how rich you are, there is always someone faster, smarter, better and less expensive than yourself. That’s a reality of life. Position yourself to compete in the marketplace wisely. Learn from the mistakes of others. Grow from the guidance of those who have successfully completed the process. Be sure you understand that while you may feel your plan may be battle-ready, your competition will do everything they can, to destroy your market share.

The failure to plan is planning to fail.

Contact Colure to speak to our team about establishing a focused plan of attack for your mobile application.

Branding for Small Businesses: Are you branding your business?

Branding for Small Businesses: Are you branding your business?

Everyone works to present their clients in the best possible light. As marketers and advertisers, our industry fights to win over each and every possible customer. But that fight is often long and tiresome. It becomes easy to fall into a deep trap. Sometimes, marketers negate the entire process of communication because they become too worried about the tools they use, trying to communicate. In short, the mechanism of communication actually impedes the process of communicating with someone. It’s the age old problem of not seeing the forest for the trees.

From time to time, you may need to step back, close your files and get a breath of fresh air. When your nose is too deep in a project, it’s easy to lose track of the fundamental concepts involved with communication. You might be speaking, but is anyone listening? Does anyone care what you have to say? If you keep hitting the same wall day after day, try keeping these simple ideas in mind:

Clear Communication for Businesses

  1. Keep It Simple Stupid (the K.I.S.S. Rule) – Keep your focus and get to the point. Avoid the temptation to create too many layers, providing too many details about the same thing. Stay on task; tell me a simple story. Businesses need to effectively communicate.
  2. Describe your product or service in less than 10 seconds – If you are not able to communicate the value of your service or product in that short amount of time, you may have lost your customer. Worse than that, you might have lost their repeat business. Some national sources place internet attention spans at less than 10 seconds.
  3. Poorly delivered content is worse than weak content – Let’s be honest, you won’t always have the opportunity to sell the biggest and best widget. Sometimes we work hard to sell something ordinary, something simple and plain. Regardless of what we are selling, you must be able to use both the medium and language of choice perfectly. There is no way a client will trust you with their advertising budget if you cannot create a properly structured sentence. If you ever have a question with your copy – ask someone for help.

  4. Learn to Listen – This is critical. Listen to a client’s ideas and concerns. Invest the time to discover which words they use to communicate. Keep in mind your audience’s mindset. Find out what is important to them – not you. Businesses are constantly trying to stand out from the crowd, to be seen as different. Be sure that you are not seen as being indifferent to your audience. Listen to what they are saying.
  5. Identify your client’s values – Don’t confuse your values for those of your client.

At the end of the day, we are storytellers. Our one task is simple: “Tell me a story.” If you can’t do this clearly and simply, you may want to take a step back and take a breath. Listen to what is happening around you.

Let us help you tell your story. Contact Colure’s storytellers.