Considering trademark registration for your brand name or logo? Here’s a simple, step-by-step guide of what to expect when seeking trademark registration before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). [Read more…]
Having an unruly to-do list can be overwhelming. If you find yourself rushing around, but not actually getting anything done, try the following process:
- Write it all down. Put everything on one list. Determine which tasks are easy and which are more difficult.
- Do some easy things. Spend 15 minutes doing the easy tasks. Focus on speed: make the quick phone calls, shoot off the brief emails. Cross as many tasks off the list as you can.
- Turn to a bigger task. Turn off your phone, close all the open windows on your computer, and focus on one of the more challenging tasks. Do this for 35 minutes without distraction.
- Take a break. After 35 minutes, take a 10-minute break. Then return to step two.
The truth about doing business online today is that for many companies, increasing market share requires winning customers from competitors. Using online video to build business is one tactic that has been rapidly gaining popularity in the past few years. It delivers benefits that include personalization, competitive advantage and cost-effectiveness.
1. Video Attracts New, Relevant Search Traffic
No conversation about ebusiness is complete without discussing search engine optimization (SEO). An ebusiness cannot gain on a competitor until consumers know it exists and can easily find it through organic search. Today, ebusinesses that utilize video assets are at an advantage, since Google is structuring its search engine results to reward sites that include video. According to Forrester, any given video in an index of searchable keywords has a 50 times better chance of appearing on the first page of results than any given text page.
To better promote their video investments and derive the greatest SEO rewards, ebusinesses are making videos more accessible to visitors, scaling videos to reach long-tail keywords, and automating video production in order to have video available as soon as new products are introduced.
2. Video Assets Can be Easily Syndicated
Online video is usually channel agnostic. By syndicating video properties to multiple sites — includingYouTube, the second largest search engine today — ebusinesses extend their reach to innumerable eyeballs. In addition to traditional channels, online video plays equally well via mobile networks, TV, and in-store screens. It is a cost-effective way to maintain brand consistency and strengthen consumer awareness.
3. Videos Encourage Sharing
Videos are far more likely to be passed and shared than text-based pages. Additionally, a video thumbnail on a social media platform — Facebook, for example — grabs more attention than static text and often results in more comments, more “Likes,” and more traffic to the brand’s website. When you like or share a video link, a thumbnail appears on your wall and is also seen by your friends.
According to a study from YouBrand, pictures and video within Facebook get engaged with and clicked more often than just text and questions.
4. Video Engages Site Visitors
Video provides a familiar user interface for site visitors. When videos are properly produced, they captivate the user. Instead of the need to navigate, scroll and click to access information, the video is a one-stop shop for information. It takes less energy than the hassle of reading and the user is engaged until he or she is ready to follow an embedded call-to-action. Today’s automated video production platforms easily enable this flow, in many cases directing visual and auditory calls-to-action that guide the viewer to a shopping cart.
5. Video’s “Halo Effect” Drives Conversions
Video can give customers an in-depth view of a product or a demonstration that quells any hesitancy they might have about purchasing online. The peace of mind the customer gains from the video seeps into the way he or she feels about the brand and website overall, building trust and credibility. This is essential to gaining market share, especially for businesses that sell products with a lot of competition.
6. Video Increases Customer Loyalty
Video newsletters are more likely to attract consumer attention. By some estimates, the open rate for a video newsletter is two to three times higher than for a text-based newsletter. While many brands compete for consumer attention with the latter, those who employ the former stand out from the crowd. These video communications can be personalized for each recipient with individualized greetings, references to previously purchased items, or offers based on shopping history, geography and segmentation.
7. Video Creates Online Personalization
By improving and tailoring the customer experience, online retailers in every sector have increased customer loyalty, conversion rates and average order price. The quality of online personalization continues to rise and in many cases can rival or outperform the “live” shopping experience. This is a key factor in gaining market share, since consumers increasingly shop online but still express a desire for the personal touch and the social aspects of in-person browsing.
When prospects go to a store, they get recommendations and help from in-store staff who point them to relevant products. Video delivers this experience online, with far less variability and chance. With new technologies that offer personalized video created on-the-fly, ebusinesses can bridge the gap between live and virtual experiences.
8. Video Production Costs Are Falling, ROI Is Rising
Online video clearly has an impact on competitive advantage. But is it feasible for most ebusinesses? Thanks to today’s automated video production technology, the answer is “yes.”
Two decades ago, the market struggled to replace the labor-intensive process of website management. Today we hardly think about the steps required to update or add web content: Images and text are now template-based, database-driven and easy to manipulate.
Video production is experiencing a similar change. While many website owners once fought the limitations of manually produced videos — including slow production times and prohibitive costs — today’s solutions tend to be automated, cost effective and high quality. With relatively little human intervention, online video production can increase a business’s competitive advantage while creating a better shopping experience for the user.
By Yaniv Axen
Mashables.com June 2011
Call (786) 594-0435 to contact Kompani Group and learn how we can help your business succeed.
Generally speaking, the odds are stacked heavily against the average startup. The rate of failure among entrepreneurs and startups is startlingly high — it comes with the territory. Otherwise, entrepreneurs wouldn’t be pirates.
But, what if there were a way to reduce that failure rate by cracking the formula of startup success? No easy feat to map the double helix of startups, but entrepreneurs are risk-takers by nature, so four of these risk-loving international entrepreneurs came together to found the Startup Genome Report, a report that is part of a larger project that dives into the very anatomy of what makes Silicon Valley startups successful — or not.
The entrepreneurs who founded the Startup Genome report (Bjoern Herrmann, Max Marmer, Fadi Bishara, Aleksandra Markova), have also created a business accelerator called Blackbox, which will be leveraging the data they have collected (and will collect) from their ambitious R&D enterprise.
The Startup Genome Report, as it is today, is a 67 page analysis on data collected from 650+ web startups.The entrepreneurs recruited both UC Berkeley and Stanford faculty members, like Steve Blank, the Sandbox Network team, the Startup Bootcamp team, and the Pollenizer team, to help coauthor and contribute to the study.
The goal of the report is to lay the foundation for a new framework for assessing startups more effectively by measuring the thresholds and milestones of development that Internet startups move through.Blackbox, which was co-founded by techVenture and other organizations that have a track record of working with 100+ startups, including 15 exits (such as Bebo, Tapulous & Lala), hopes to use the Startup Genome Report as a cipher to help crack the innovation code, and give fledgling entrepreneurs and startups from around the world access to the characteristics and qualities that make Silicon Valley companies successful.
Here are 14 of the most interesting trends identified by the Startup Genome Report, some of which are intuitive and some of which may come as a surprise. Among them? Investors may be less help than they think. Take a look:
- Founders that learn are more successful: Startups that have helpful mentors, track metrics effectively, and learn from startup thought leaders raise 7x more money and have 3.5x better user growth.
- Startups that pivot once or twice times raise 2.5x more money, have 3.6x better user growth, and are 52% less likely to scale prematurely than startups that pivot more than 2 times or not at all.
- Many investors invest 2-3x more capital than necessary in startups that haven’t reached problem solution fit yet. They also over-invest in solo founders and founding teams without technical cofounders despite indicators that show that these teams have a much lower probability of success.
- Investors who provide hands-on help have little or no effect on the company’s operational performance. But the right mentors significantly influence a company’s performance and ability to raise money. (However, this does not mean that investors don’t have a significant effect on valuations and M&A)
- Solo founders take 3.6x longer to reach scale stage compared to a founding team of 2 and they are 2.3x less likely to pivot.
- Business-heavy founding teams are 6.2x more likely to successfully scale with sales driven startups than with product centric startups.
- Technical-heavy founding teams are 3.3x more likely to successfully scale with product-centric startups with no network effects than with product-centric startups that have network effects.
- Balanced teams with one technical founder and one business founder raise 30% more money, have 2.9x more user growth and are 19% less likely to scale prematurely than technical or business-heavy founding teams.
- Most successful founders are driven by impact rather than experience or money.
- Founders overestimate the value of IP before product market fit by 255%.
- Startups need 2-3 times longer to validate their market than most founders expect.This underestimation creates the pressure to scale prematurely.
- Startups that haven’t raised money over-estimate their market size by 100x and often misinterpret their market as new.
- Premature scaling is the most common reason for startups to perform worse. They tend to lose the battle early on by getting ahead of themselves.
- B2C vs. B2B is not a meaningful segmentation of Internet startups anymore because the Internet has changed the rules of business. We found 4 different major groups of startups that all have very different behavior regarding customer acquisition, time, product, market and team.
By Rip Empson for Techcrunch.com
Click here for the full article
Call (786) 594-0435 to contact Kompani Group and learn how we can help your business succeed.
What is word ownership, and what can it do for your business? One of the main focuses in business is exposure; the more prospects you have access to, the higher your chances of making a sale. But what if you could get these prospects to do some advertising for you, for free? By creating a single word that you want to have people attribute to your business, you not only create brand recognition but also word of mouth advertising.
A brand is a perception. The company owns the physical brand, but the value of that brand is what it means to the consumer. Take Mercedes Benz whose single word they chose for us to identify their cars with is “prestige,” or Volvos identifying word “safety.” With enough repetition, these words are meant to conjure up images of their products in our minds.
This works with politics too. Hillary Clinton launched her campaign by focusing on “experience,” while Obama focused on the word “change,” a word that matched the mood of the majority of the American public desperately wanting change after 2 terms of Republican rule. Word ownership is more powerful when it is a verb.
Verbs are action words that people can replace your company name or product with. Think of millions of people “Xeroxing,” instead of copying, and have you noticed how you no longer “search” for information on the Internet, you “Google” it? Facebook was never going to become a successful verb, so they cleverly created the “Like” button.
In “The 22 immutable laws of Branding,” Al and Laura Ries tell us that to differentiate your business, you should create a new category and then own it in the mind of the customer. Don’t let the market throw you in a heap with everyone else, and instead define a category and stand out above your competition.
There is a game played around the table at dinner parties, where each person is asked to identify a single word that best describes who they are, heart and soul. This word must be truthful and all-encompassing and create an image for the other people at the table to identify the person with. If you attempt to create a false image of yourself, or one that is unidentifiable, you risk being laughed at and napkins tossed at you from across the table.
This is the same as word ownership in business. How do you want people to react and feel when they hear or see your company’s name or product? What is a truthful and accurate image you would like to portray? Remember, if you are successful then this could be a word you live with in your business for a long time, so make it count.
Call (786) 594-0435 to contact Kompani Group and learn how we can help your business succeed.
We Introduce Exclusive LocateMe Technology!
April 27th, 2011
ROAD AMERICA ANNOUNCES SUCCESSFUL LAUNCH OF LOCATEME® UPGRADE TO ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE TECHNOLOGY
MIAMI – APRIL 21, 2011 In an exclusive partnership with researchers at AT&T, Miami, Florida-based Road America has developed, tested and now successfully launched a GPS technology solution for pinpointing breakdown locations in seconds. This development dramatically improves the speed, accuracy and efficiency of locating the customer’s disabled vehicle through the very same telecommunications device they are using to contact the Road America 24-hour Response Centers.
Simone I. Smith teamed up with the American Cancer Society to introduce “a sweet touch of hope.” Simone designed a stylish lollipop charm to help raise funds and awareness to help save more lives from cancer, a disease that affects everyone in some way. In 2004, Simone was diagnosed with stage III Chondorosarcoma-a rare form of cancer. Her treatment required invasive surgery that altered the appearance of her lollipop tattoo. “It literally looked like someone took a bite out of it,” says Simone. Insprired by her experience, the lollipop now represents Simone’s journey to getting well and staying well, and has sparked a desire to help other cancer survivors. Ten percent of the purchase price is donated to the American Cancer Society.
The Above-the-Fold Myth
By Milissa Tarquini Director, User Interface Design and Information Architecture at AOL
We are all well aware that web design is not an easy task. There are many variables to consider, some of them technical, some of them human. The technical considerations of designing for the web can (and do) change quite regularly, but the human variables change at a slower rate. Sometimes the human variables change at such a slow rate that we have a hard time believing that it happens.
This is happening right now in web design. There is an astonishing amount of disbelief that the users of web pages have learned to scroll and that they do so regularly. Holding on to this disbelief – this myth that users won’t scroll to see anything below the fold – is doing everyone a great disservice, most of all our users.
First, a definition: The word “fold” means a great many things, even within the discipline of design. The most common use of the term “fold” is perhaps used in reference to newspaper layout. Because of the physical dimensions of the printed page of a broadsheet newspaper, it is folded. The first page of a newspaper is where the “big” stories of the issue are because it is the best possible placement. Readers have to flip the paper over (or unfold it) to see what else is in the issue, therefore there is a chance that someone will miss it. In web design, the term “fold” means the line beyond which a user must scroll to see more contents of a page (if it exists) after the page displays within their browser. It is also referred to as a “scroll-line.”
Screen performance data and new research indicate that users will scroll to find information and items below the fold. There are established design best practices to ensure that users recognize when a fold exists and that content extends below it1. Yet during requirements gathering for design projects designers are inundated with requests to cram as much information above the fold as possible, which complicates the information design. Why does the myth continue, when we have documented evidence that the fold really doesn’t matter in certain contexts?
Once upon a time, page-level vertical scrolling was not permitted on AOL. Articles, lists and other content that would have to scroll were presented in scrolling text fields or list boxes, which our users easily used. Our pages, which used proprietary technology, were designed to fit inside a client application, and the strictest of guidelines ensured that the application desktop itself did not scroll. The content pages floated in the center of the application interface and were too far removed from the scrollbar location for users to notice if a scrollbar appeared. Even if the page appeared to be cut off, as current best practices dictate, it proved to be such an unusual experience to our users that they assumed that the application was “broken.” We had to instill incredible discipline in all areas of the organization that produced these pages – content creation, design and development – to make sure our content fit on these little pages.
AOL client application with desktop scrollbar activated
As AOL moved away from our proprietary screen technology to an open web experience, we enjoyed the luxury of designing longer (and wider) pages. Remaining sensitive to the issues of scrolling from our history, we developed and employed practices for designing around folds:
- We chose as target screen resolutions those used by the majority of our users.
- We identified where the fold would fall in different browsers, and noted the range of pixels that would be in the fold “zone.”
- We made sure that images and text appeared “broken” or cut off at the fold for the majority of our users (based on common screen resolutions and browsers).
- We kept the overall page height to no more than 3 screens.
But even given our new larger page sizes, we were still presented with long lists of items to be placed above the fold – lists impossible to accommodate. There were just too many things for the limited amount of vertical space.
For example, for advertising to be considered valuable and saleable, a certain percentage of it must appear above the 1024×768 fold. Branding must be above the fold. Navigation must be above the fold – or at least the beginning of the list of navigational choices. (If the list is well organized and displayed appropriately, scanning the list should help bring users down the page.) Big content (the primary content of the site) should begin above the fold. Some marketing folks believe that the actual number of data points and links above the fold is a strategic differentiator critical to business success. Considering the limited vertical real estate available and the desire for multiple ad units and functionality described above, an open design becomes impossible.
And why? Because people think users don’t scroll. Jakob Nielsen wrote about the growing acceptance and understanding of scrolling in 19972, yet 10 years later we are still hearing that users don’t scroll.
Research debunking this myth is starting to pop up, and a great example of this is the report available on ClickTale.com3. In it, the researchers used their proprietary tracking software to measure the activity of 120,000 pages. Their research gives data on the vertical height of the page and the point to which a user scrolls. In the study, they found that 76% of users scrolled and that a good portion of them scrolled all the way to the bottom, despite the height of the screen. Even the longest of web pages were scrolled to the bottom. One thing the study does not capture is how much time is spent at the bottom of the page, so the argument can be made that users might just scan it and not pay much attention to any content placed there.
This is where things get interesting.
I took a look at performance data for some AOL sites and found that items at the bottom of pages are being widely used. Perhaps the best example of this is the popular celebrity gossip website TMZ.com. The most clicked on item on the TMZhomepage is the link at the very bottom of the page that takes users to the next page. Note that the TMZ homepage is often over 15000 pixels long – which supports the ClickTale research that scrolling behavior is independent of screen height. Users are so engaged in the content of this site that they are following it down the page until they get to the “next page” link.
Maybe it’s not fair to use a celebrity gossip site as an example. After all, we’re not all designing around such tantalizing guilty-pleasure content as the downfall of beautiful people. So, let’s look at some drier content.
For example, take AOL News Daily Pulse. You’ll notice the poll at the bottom of the page – the vote counts are well over 300,000 each. This means that not only did folks scroll over 2000 pixels to the bottom of the page, they actually took the time to answer a poll while they were there. Hundreds of thousands of people taking a poll at the bottom of a page can easily be called a success.
AOL News Daily Pulse with 10×7 fold line and vote count
But, you may argue, these pages are both in blog format. Perhaps blogs encourage scrolling more than other types of pages. I’m not convinced, since blog format is of the “newest content on top” variety, but it may be true. However, looking at pages that are not in blog format, we see the same trend. On the AOL Money & Financehomepage, users find and use the modules for recent quotes and their personalized portfolios even when these modules are placed well beneath the 1024×768 fold.
Another example within AOL Money & Finance is a photo gallery entitled Top Tax Tips. Despite the fact that the gallery is almost 2500 pixels down the page, this gallery generates between 200,000 and 400,000 page views depending on promotion of the Taxes page.
It is clear that where a given item falls in relation to the fold is becoming less important. Users are scrolling to see what they want, and finding it. The key is the content – if it is compelling, users will follow where it leads.
When does the fold matter?
The most basic rule of thumb is that for every site the user should be able to understand what your site is about by the information presented to them above the fold. If they have to scroll to even discover what the site is, its success is unlikely.
Functionality that is essential to business strategy should remain (or at least begin) above the fold. For example, if your business success is dependent on users finding a particular thing (movie theaters, for example) then the widget to allow that action should certainly be above the fold.
Screen height and folds matter for applications, especially rapid-fire applications where users input variables and change the display of information. The input and output should be in very close proximity. Getting stock quotes is an example: a user may want to get four or five quotes in sequence, so it is imperative that the input field and the basic quote information display remain above the fold for each symbol entered. Imagine the frustration at having to scroll to find the input field for each quote you wanted.
Where IS the fold?
Here is perhaps the biggest problem of all. The design method of cutting-off images or text only works if you know where the fold is. There is a lot of information out there about how dispersed the location of fold line actually is. Again, a very clear picture of this problem is shown on ClickTale. In the same study of page scrolling, fold locations of viewed screens were captured, based on screen resolution and browser used. It’s a sad, sad thing, but the single highest concentration of fold location (at around 600 pixels) for users accounted for less than 10% of the distribution. This pixel-height corresponds with a screen resolution of 1024×768. Browser applications take away varying amounts of vertical real estate for their interfaces (toolbars, address fields, etc). Each browser has a slightly different size, so not all visitors running a resolution of 1024×768 will have a fold that appears in the same spot. In the ClickTale study, the three highest fold locations were 570, 590 and 600 pixels—apparently from different browsers running on 1024×768 screens. But the overall distribution of fold locations for the entire study was so varied that even these three sizes together only account for less than 26% of visits. What does all this mean? If you pick one pixel location on which to base the location of the fold when designing your screens, the best-case scenario is that you’ll get the fold line exactly right for only 10% of your visitors.
So what do we do now?
Stop worrying about the fold. Don’t throw your best practices out the window, but stop cramming stuff above a certain pixel point. You’re not helping anyone. Open up your designs and give your users some visual breathing room. If your content is compelling enough your users will read it to the end.
Advertisers currently want their ads above the fold, and it will be a while before that tide turns. But it’s very clear that the rest of the page can be just as valuable – perhaps more valuable – to contextual advertising. Personally, I’d want my ad to be right at the bottom of the TMZpage, forget the top.
The biggest lesson to be learned here is that if you use visual cues (such as cut-off images and text) and compelling content, users will scroll to see all of it. The next great frontier in web page design has to be bottom of the page. You’ve done your job and the user scrolled all the way to the bottom of the page because they were so engaged with your content. Now what? Is a footer really all we can offer them? If we know we’ve got them there, why not give them something to do next? Something contextual, a natural next step in your site, or something with which to interact (such as a poll) would be welcome and, most importantly, used.
Click here for full article on boxesandarrows.com May 2011 Issue
Building a successful small business is about making the fewest mistakes
One of the principles of new media and marketing is a strategy called “Launch and learn.” This method is used to quickly launch products, websites and marketing campaigns to establish brand loyalty and customer communication before the product or website has actually reached perfection. Launching campaigns and websites sooner rather than later allows for consumer response to show you what works, and what doesn’t. Setting up metrics such as open rates, conversion rates and analytics allows you to inexpensively launch several initiatives at the same time using different vehicles to reach end users. After analyzing the results you can then allocate monies and resources to what works the best. If you are involved in e-commerce, the numbers will always tell the truth.
Another basic tenet of strategic marketing and planning is transparency. When promoting products or services, it is absolutely imperative to clearly articulate what it is you are offering. We believe in advertising as a tool to provide the information necessary for consumers to make intelligent choices. People want the facts and the research behind a product before making purchases, whereas 5-10 years ago a spectacular image of a product or the promise of a feeling the product or service might provide, was enough to sell it. Promoting marketing integrity from the start provides a strong foundation by building customer loyalty and satisfaction and also helps the “launch and learn” technique distinguish between product and delivery feedback and a lack of solid information provided to the consumer. When testing initiatives, the less variables involved the better.
Its okay to make mistakes, and every new business should be prepared to make them. By setting up metrics you can launch initiatives and analytics to see what works, and what doesn’t. The key is to make the fewest mistakes possible in terms of time and money. Because each product will take a different marketing approach, there is no way to know exactly what will work best without first testing the waters. Steer clear of any marketing firm that claims to have a successful marketing approach upfront for your product or service, because this may end up costing you more than just money in the long run. If you would like to learn more, please contact Kompani Group at (786) 594-0435 for a free consultation.
The value of a strong brand is indisputable and often accounts for at least 50 percent of the total market valuation
While being remembered is essential, it is becoming harder every day. A strong brand stands out in a densely crowded marketplace. Translating the brand into action has become an employee mantra. There is substantial evidence that companies whose employees understand and embrace the brand are more successful. What began as corporate culture under the auspices of human resources is fast becoming branding, and the marketing department runs the show.