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Uncategorized 09 Jun 2011 11:12 am

Video Blog: Marketing Made Simple #1 – Audience & Message

Check out our new weekly addition to the Eiler Communications blog: Marketing Made Simple with Larry Eiler
Marketing Made Simple #1 – Audience & Message

Uncategorized 02 May 2011 04:40 pm

Social Media for the Rich

One of the newest emerging social media trends is the niche site. You may have heard of networking sites for dog lovers, cat lovers, business executives, moms, or even mathematicians; but do you know that one exists for the rich?

Social networking sites, such as Family Bhive, Peers, Pi Capital, Institute of Private Investors, and Affluence are offering the select elite a unique outlet for networking.

Family Bhive, for example only accepts wealthy individuals as members and their wealth must be verified before admittance. Members use the site to talk, arrange meetings and exchange investment opportunities, aside from the general public.

These niche sites vary in specifics, as some sites require membership fees while others are available free of charge. But the general idea remains the same: to connect the wealthy members of our society so that they can socialize, fraternize and talk business.

It is not surprising that members often taken advantage of this niche networking to initiate joint investments with other elites in private companies.

The most popular site in the United States is the Institute of Private Investors (IPI). It has more than 1,100 individual members and 140 professional firms.

So, who are the members of these exclusive networks? Celebrities, politicians, entrepreneurs and those who inherited wealth. If you don’t fall into any of these categories, don’t worry: there is a niche network out there for you too.

Jaclyn Klein

Uncategorized 02 May 2011 04:21 pm

YouTube Instrumental in Help for Japanese City

On March 24th, Mayor Katsunobu Sakurai of Minamisoma, Japan recorded and uploaded a video to YouTube, desperately pleading for help. His city, a mere 15 miles from a malfunctioning Japanese nuclear power plant, faced starvation because it’s inhabitants were trapped in their homes and shelters due to the nuclear alert. Still devastated from the earthquake and 60-foot tsunami, Miniamisoma residents were in dire need of assistance.

The video, titled “SOS from Minamisoma Mayor,” has received well over 200,000 views on YouTube and residents from Miniamisoma are getting help from viewers around the world. The city has received hundreds of boxes of food and supplies for individuals and truckloads from organizations. Many of those who have sent supplies say that it was in response to the YouTube video.

Today, weeks after the video’s release, Miniamisoma is still receiving donations and the city is beginning to return to its normal operations. Businesses are opening again and citizens are slowly emerging from their homes, even despite the orders recommending inhabitants to stay indoors.

This amazing story highlights one of the endless opportunities that the Internet and social media have created. A simple YouTube video gave hope to a city that was lost and nonexistent to the world. Traditional media disappeared from Miniamisoma because of the nuclear threat, but new media opened doors of communication and essentially gave a city the means to survive.

Jaclyn Klein

Uncategorized 25 Mar 2011 03:14 pm

Google Steps Up Globally in Times of Natural Disaster

In recent years, the Google Corporation has been criticized for its dominant market position — a status the company has slowly accumulated based on the multi-faceted services it offers.

Most people are familiar with Google Search, which is the most dominant web search engine in the United States, because it is the company’s most popular service. But Google actually offers some 100 other products and services. Google is able to offer most of these programs free of charge because its profit is primarily derived through advertising programs.

And in the early morning hours of March 11, 2011, Google launched yet another program that would temporarily silence any critics of the company’s global hold in the market.

In the aftermath of Japan’s 8.9 magnitude earthquake, which set off colossal tsunamis that wiped out infrastructure and uprooted thousands of civilians, Google’s Crisis Response team initiated a Japanese version of its Person Finder.

Google’s People Finder is a multi-language database tool that aids in locating lost family members and friends in the time of crisis. Users have the ability to search for the names of people they’ve lost and to post news about people they have found.

Because national disasters often disrupt traditional channels of communications, Google has attempted to create a tool that can mediate the organization and registry of people who may be missing. Specifically, Google Ideas is a think-tank that studies where technology can help solve the world’s problems — and then actually develops them into usable products and services.

Although the Google Corporation has an increasing multinational presence, its ability to create a massive online database that facilitates the location of alive and deceased crisis victims is unsurpassed.

This not only shows the positive role that Google’s People Finder has played within countries during times of crisis, but also demonstrates the growing presence that technology has in our lives today.

Caitlin Smith

Uncategorized 25 Mar 2011 03:03 pm

Social Media is Slam-Dunk for NCAA Tournament

This year college basketball fans across the country have, arguably, the greatest access to the NCAA Tournament than ever before — giving them all the more reason to dance.

March Madness has become something larger than a selective showing of games on just one exclusive television network. Coverage of the 2011 tournament has expanded to four broadcast stations, as well as incorporated a medley of social media platforms.

Fans are now able to tap into the game through live online streaming and cell-phone applications—a trend that proved highly popular in 2010 as some 11.7 million hours of live streaming occurred for tournament games. However, viewers now also have the option to take a more interactive approach to the tournament.

Social media has exacerbated the buzz around college basketball by targeting fans and specific niche audiences. Viewers now have access to social hubs, such as the “Social Arena,” which is an online space, funded by the NCAA and Coke Zero, that fans can go to for professional commentary and fan chatter.

Advertisers are also promoting the big dance through Facebook and Twitter, posting tales about former tournament legends and creating sweepstakes. There is even a social bracket being created on Facebook based on the number of ‘likes’ each team in the tournament receives.

“We have to be where people are spending their time,” Vance Overbey, executive director of advertising for AT&T said.

And so market behemoths such as Coca-Cola, Papa John’s and AT&T have upped their social-media spending. Coke, specifically, has increased its spending tenfold—dedicating more than 20% of its tournament budget on social media this year compared to 2% last year.

For these companies, investment in social media could prove to be a slam-dunk marketing strategy—a chance for companies to utilize the tournament as a coax for consumers to be exposed to, and purchase their brands.

“It’s the ultimate sporting event for social media,’ John Kint, general manager at said.

Caitlin Smith

Uncategorized 26 Jan 2011 11:48 am

Super Bowl Takles Social Media

30-second ad slots in the Super Bowl are highly coveted each year, and sell for millions of dollars. However, advertisers are not adding social media campaigns to accompany their ad slots during the 2011 game to create even more buzz around their product, and for free.

Audi and Mercedes-Benz are leading the Super Bowl social media campaigns. Both companies are relying heavily on everyday people to spread the word about the luxury car retailers in exchange for a variety of luxury prizes.

Audi has already spent $6 million for a 60-second advertisement slot during the game, but will also reap the benefits of free social media marketing. Audi is awarding trips and other prizes to the top-ten social-media users who advertise the company using Facebook and Twitter. Winner are based on creativity and amount of posts, and will be announced by game day.

Mercedes-Benz is following a similar format by launching the “World’s First Twitter-Fueled Race.” Two-person team will compete up until game day to accumulate the most Facebook “likes,” and Twitter “tweets.” The top team will win two brand new Mercedes-Benz cars.

In the age of social media, 30-second ad slots are no longer enough to stand up to the competition. Companies that will profit the most are those that utilize free and viral social media campaigns to their benefit; after all, social media has proven that everyday people are just as creative as the most prestigious advertising companies.

Dana Prainito

Uncategorized 29 Sep 2010 02:00 pm

Why the Rest of the Country is Looking at Michigan’s Economic Gardening as a Model for Growth

Earlier this year, 13 Small Business Development Center representatives from 6 states – Illinois, Minnesota, Georgia, Louisiana, Delaware, and California – came to Michigan to learn about its Small Business and Technology Development Center’s (MI-SBTDC) technology commercialization initiative. The MI-SBTDC presented its history, tools and processes for assisting technology companies, and its approach to partnering with the state’s economic development and entrepreneurial support organizations. The visitors met with several MI-SBTDC clients and economic development partners in the Southeast Michigan area. Each of the 13 visitors left with a similar impression, summarized well by Clinton Tymes, Director of the Delaware SBTDC – “You are very fortunate to not only have such a strong, innovative and effective program in your SBTDC, but the overall infrastructure Michigan has to support entrepreneurship and innovation, as well as the excellent collaboration that exists among these resources is simply extraordinary.”

Michigan does not always receive national headlines about positive impact, but economic developers around the country are learning that Michigan, the state that the recession hit first and hardest, is also the first state with some of the most creative and impactful economic development efforts launched over the previous ten years.

Depending on who you ask, you are likely to get a different definition of “economic gardening” – but most agree that a gardening approach to economic development focuses on supporting and building a fertile environment for a state’s own small businesses with high growth potential as opposed to “hunting” for large companies or “smokestack chasing.” The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) is often portrayed as a “hunter,” and this may be due to the sizeable press attention given to each successful large company attraction compared to the many, MANY small business successes that each create a handful of jobs but add up to a significant sum (and often strengthen attraction efforts – think T/J Technologies and A123.) But through its Smart Zone program and the many 21st Century Jobs Fund (21st CJF) programs, the MEDC has demonstrated some of the best economic gardening in the country, and it’s making a difference!

Launched in 2000 by the MEDC, the 15 Smart Zones are designed to cluster the activities and assets of universities, industry, research institutions and local communities to accelerate the commercialization of technologies and foster new ventures and job creation. The Smart Zone program facilitated tax capture from Local Development Finance Authorities, who along with state and county governments and the private sector, fund business incubators, business accelerators, networking and educational events, and financing programs. Each Smart Zone provides a different set of services depending on the region’s assets and initiatives. Emerging technology companies receive consulting from industry experts; microloans and pre-seed investments; discounts on specialized equipment or wet lab space; multiple day intensive business training; access to university student projects and internships; connections to potential customers, strategic partners, management, and investors; and many more services through Smart Zone business accelerators and incubators.

As one example of a Smart Zone business accelerator, over the past year Ann Arbor SPARK provided consulting projects to 64 high growth potential companies, enabling the creation and retention of 185 full time jobs and over $6 million in capital raised. SPARK’s business accelerator also trained 28 companies through 2 sessions of its 2 day intensive “Entrepreneurs Boot Camp” and held multiple networking and educational events for hundreds of entrepreneurs each week.

An excellent example of a Smart Zone business incubator is the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center (SMIC) in Kalamazoo. Playing a central role in Kalamazoo’s vibrant life sciences economy, 25 companies have been launched in and have graduated from or currently reside at the SMIC. The collaborative strength of the SMIC companies brings international attention and dollars to the region. The SMIC was recognized with the Innovation Award in 2006 by the National Business Incubator Association.

Smart Zones actively engage Michigan’s universities and facilitate collaboration with the private sector to ensure commercial utilization of university assets, contributing to Michigan’s economic development. For example, Michigan State University Technologies (technology transfer office) and Business CONNECT (recently established to connect businesses with MSU faculty) are housed in the Lansing Regional Smart Zone’s East Lansing Technology Innovation Center. As MSU President LuAnn Simon said, this helps MSU “to interact with companies and investors in a cutting-edge business environment.”
Similar activities and impact take place in the 15 Smart Zones statewide.

These efforts have all been supported by the 21st CJF, the MEDC’s 10 year, $2 billion initiative launched in 2005 to create a fertile climate for entrepreneurship and begin the transformation and diversification of Michigan’s economy. However, the initiative has also:
-made direct investments in high growth technology companies;
-made indirect investments in additional high growth companies through venture capital firms, banks, and economic development programs; and
-built upon the existing business support infrastructure to help Michigan companies develop business plans, enter new markets, submit successful research proposals, raise capital, and conduct other critical activities involved in growing their businesses.

Technology focused economic development initiatives require a long-term focus by nature and are not intended to be a quick fix. Even so, five years into the 21st CJF initiative, the results are impressive and making an important contribution to Michigan’s recovery. The Foundation for the New Michigan Economy report recently released by the MEDC indicates that the 21st Century Jobs Fund has provided direct support to almost 1,500 companies, enabling them to create and retain 24,407 jobs. 21st CJF programs have been very successful in leveraging third party funds. Over $1.8 billion of third party funding has been leveraged; a rate of more than 4 third party dollars to each state dollar.

The 21st Century Jobs Fund plays an important role in building what just about any entrepreneur will tell you Michigan needs; a stronger financing environment with support available at different stages of a company’s development. The initiative addresses this by creating multiple programs, each with a different sweet spot.
-The Michigan Emerging Technologies Fund (managed by the MI-SBTDC) provides commercialization funding to companies at their earliest stage when they receive federal R&D grants. Thirty companies have been funded with the first $2.4 million of this program, leveraging $17.7 million in additional capital and creating and retaining 230 jobs.
-The Michigan PreSeed Capital Fund (managed by Ann Arbor SPARK in partnership with the Smart Zones) enables companies to achieve or accelerate early sales and/or meet milestones necessary to raise larger, institutional rounds of financing. Forty three companies were funded with the first $9 million deployed by this program, leveraging over $34 million and creating nearly 500 jobs.
-The 21st Century Investment Fund (as well as a few other similar state initiatives) strengthens Michigan’s venture capital environment and has helped grow Michigan’s venture investment community to 16 venture capital firms with $1.1 billion under management. The 21st Century Investment Fund invested in 11 venture capital firms, who in turn invested $33.9 million in 13 companies, leveraging almost $260 million third party capital, creating over 780 jobs.

Several support organizations received 21CJF support to provide technical assistance to growing technology based companies. The MI-SBTDC Tech Team is a national best practice that helped its clients in creating almost 500 direct jobs over the past 2 years. BBCEtc, one of the top Small Business Innovative Research (federal research grants and contracts for small businesses) training and consulting firms in the country, helped its clients bring $80 million in federal research funding to Michigan through its 21CJF contract.

The programs described above are all technology focused. States implement technology focused initiatives because they have high multiplier effects and help keep their economies both diverse and competitive. But there are also several Michigan “economic gardening” initiatives without a strict technology focus. The MI-SBTDC served 15,000 small businesses in 2009, the vast majority of which were not technology companies. The MEDC has partnered with the MI-SBTDC to launch the Manufacturing Assistance Team to assist auto suppliers with their financial management and access to capital, as well as the Growth Group that helps companies with 10 to 100 employees implement growth strategies. The MEDC partnered with the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center to launch the Keep Michigan Working initiative. This initiative hired industry experts to assist over 300 Michigan manufactures in creating and implementing plans to diversify into industries with high growth potential.

And not all 21st Century Jobs Fund financing programs are focused only on technology companies. The Small Business Capital Access Program (SBCAP) was resurrected in 2006. This financing program works with banks to extend their ability to lend to Michigan small businesses that otherwise might be considered too risky. The first $2.9 million of state money invested supported the lending of over $80 million to 1,259 companies, resulting in the creation and retention of over 12,000 jobs. More than 20 other states have recognized the success and replicated the Michigan SBCAP. The Michigan Supplier Diversification Fund (MSDF) was created to help manufacturers obtain loans to support diversification initiatives by addressing collateral and cash flow short falls. The first $6.7 million of state money invested in the MSDF resulted in $47.2 million in loans to 7 companies creating and retaining 1,728 jobs. The US Congress has borrowed the MSDF model and included a $1.5 billion national version of the program in the recently passed Small Business Jobs and Credit Act.

And there is much more. Michigan Celebrates Small Business is a growing event that highlights 50 second stage growing businesses, through a partnership with the Edward Lowe Foundation “Companies to Watch” initiative. Venture forums such as the New Enterprise Forum and the Michigan Growth Capital Symposium connect Michigan companies with investors. The Great Lakes Entrepreneurs Quest statewide business competition, in its 10th year of operation, connects companies with mentors, provides business plan critiques from investors, and awards cash prizes. The Kauffman Foundation FastTrac, a 10 week boot camp entrepreneurial training is available to help startups and growing companies with their business plans and company launch, statewide. The Centers of Energy Excellence (COEE) takes the best from both “gardening” and “hunting” models, playing a significant role in the energy storage cluster development that resulted in $5.8 billion investment and the creation of thousands of jobs, and generating early results in wind energy and advanced materials.

Obviously Michigan has a long way to go. We are still among the top states in undesirable economic indicators such as the unemployment rate and home foreclosures. And many entrepreneurs consider their situation dismal and feel they cannot get the support they need. But more and more often, one will also hear entrepreneurs say how amazed they are by the vast amount of resources available in the state. There is no doubt that Michigan’s economic development efforts are working. We just need them to work faster.

Due to the unfortunate reality of the state budget, the 21st Century Jobs Fund appropriations have declined each year since first launched in 2005. The Smart Zone tax capture is not materializing as hoped due to economic conditions. 2011 brings a new Governor and considerable turnover in the legislature. New leadership will bring new ideas, strategies, and tactics which are not only welcomed but necessary. However it’s important that our new representatives recognize that the MEDC is much more than a “hunter.” It has launched and supported world class programs that build our own entrepreneurial successes, create jobs, and diversify our economy so that job growth can occur exponentially, and so that we not as vulnerable to the business cycle and economic shifts. In order for this to happen, we need to continue to invest in these programs that are providing essential support to Michigan’s small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Phil Tepley, Technology Business Consultant, Grand Valley State University

Marketing &Marketing Communications &Social Media &Uncategorized 16 Aug 2010 11:41 am

Millennial Marketing

The Millennial Generation, aged 18 to 29, is a group that has grown up with technology instilled into their everyday routines. They are Internet junkies, multi-taskers, and demand personalized technology. They want to genuinely connect with others online.

Millennials are significantly different from their parents in the Baby Boomer generation in numerous ways. At cause of these lifestyle and fundamental distinctions, marketers are struggling to accommodate to millennial needs. However, Brand Amplitude, LLC, a market research firm, has launched Millennial Marketing, an online concept that provides a series of tools to understand Millennials and research to explain where the future of marketing lies.

Millennial Marketing pinpoints the generation. They are more diverse than the baby boomer generation and have a variety of needs in technology and communication areas. Due to multitasking, Millennials are consuming more media than ever, and they are more dependent on technology. Ninety three percent of American teens ages 12 to 17 go online; a Pew Research Study found that while using the Internet, 40 percent of US Youth ages 18 to 24 watch TV, 34 percent text, and 29 percent talk on the phone.

More Millennials than baby boomers have enrolled in higher education. Approximately one third of male and 40 percent of female Millennials have had some college education, compared with 25 percent and 23 percent of Baby Boomers, respectively. Yet a college education puts students in debt largely due to student loans.

The average millennial debt is $21,500, and 32 percent of Millennials feel they are “barely making ends meet.” Furthermore, there’s pressure to do well financially, but the recession has made it difficult to so. In fact, the recession has played a role in the millennial spending. Almost half of Millennials say they have changed their shopping habits somewhat, and others are questioning the need for an expensive college education.

It’s pretty clear: Millennials have different values than the Baby Boomers. They have been shaped by the recession and demand a higher degree of engagement pertaining to technology. As a result, marketers need to tailor their marketing campaigns to their different mindsets.

Millennials are price and value conscious, and they hold the products they spend their money on to high standards. They are highly skeptical of advertisements having been exposed to them their entire lives, and they use a discerning eye when it comes to purchases. Doing a quick internet search before making a selection is second nature to Millennials.

Without a doubt, the most significant shaper of the Millennials has been the internet. Something that can be both a blessing and curse for marketers is that the Millennial generation is always connected. Not only do they utilize the internet for product or service information, but as a broad communication platform as well. When a baby boomer has a bad experience with a business, they casually complain about it the next time they see their friends. On the other hand, when a Millennials has a bad experience, they share it with 800 of their closest Facebook friends. So how can brand managers channel insight into Millennial’s different lifestyle and values into a successful marketing campaign?

BrandAmplitude, LLC offers advice on how to connect with Millennials and their unique mindsets. First of all, a brand must be authentic. Millennials see right through false claims. Also, a brand must position itself as a necessity in order to appeal to Millennials. Due to the recession, this generation believes that they are strapped for cash and will be far more likely to purchase things they deem to be valuable necessities.

BrandAmplitude, LLC also recommends using social responsibility to appeal to Millennials. On average, Millennials are more socially conscious than previous generations, and they have been prone to use the presence or absence of corporate social responsibility as a tiebreaker during purchase decisions among similar brands. Millenials care that no animals were harmed in the production of a product or that a percentage of a company’s sales are donated to charity.

A brand that the Millennials can connect with needs to be shareable via social media. Due to the fact that Millennials spend a large portion of time on these sites, a relevant brand to them has what BrandAmplitude, LLC calls ‘Social Currency’. This means that a brand is social media compatible and can be exchanged on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Lastly, BrandAmplitude, LLC recommends portraying a brand as an experience. Millennials are more apt to spend their money on doing interesting things instead of having interesting things. They perceive experiences as a form of personal investment.

Even though the Millennials have strikingly different values and lifestyles than baby boomers, it is not difficult for marketers to reach this target market due to their dependency on technology. Marketers simply have to take the time to understand the Millennials and ensure that they are delivering a message that they will respond to.

Rachel Krasnow & Emily Rozanski

Uncategorized 28 Jul 2010 11:19 am

The Internet: Not As Endless As I Thought

I can’t even remember how many times I have heard that the possibilities are endless with the Internet. In fact, I turn to the Internet for everything- email, news, phone numbers, social media, weather and research. Everything – or almost everything – is on the Internet.

Imagine my surprise when I read on that there is less than one year until the Internet runs out of addresses. Currently, the Web uses Internet Protocol Version 4, where each address is limited to a 32-bit number and only a maximum of 4 billion unique addresses. All but 6% of available addresses have been allocated and this will run out within the year!

Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) is the latest version and uses 128-bit addresses, supporting a lot more unique addresses. Internet Service Providers, telecoms carriers and large-scale Internet companies each have a responsibility to switch to IPv6. The good news is that Verizon and Comcast have announced trial IPv6 activity while Google has already put the majority of its services onto IPv6 and Facebook is following its lead. However, the complete switch is far from over for most of the Web. But the switch must be made or the Internet will have an expiration date.

Jaclyn Klein

Uncategorized 28 Jul 2010 11:18 am

Cybersecurity on a Phone?

As I am on the go more and use my phone as an internet source, a thought occurs to me. Can I get a virus on my phone? It’s sounds crazy but I can’t help but wonder. I would go crazy if my phone, a life-line of sorts, was to fail on me.

I have learned cell phone viruses do exist, however unlike ones that attack computers, cell phone viruses have trouble replicating and need to be installed by users. This means, multimedia text messages could carry viruses. If it’s not from someone you know and trust, don’t open it! An infected phone with a Bluetooth can also search for Bluetooth phones in the area and send virus code. To prevent this, turn the Bluetooth auto-discovery mode off. And yes, cell phones can become infected by surfing the Internet. However, phones require users to download and install infected files. So don’t download what you don’t know.

Ironically, cybersecurity is becoming such an issue that The University of Maryland University College is launching a cybersecurity degree program starting this fall. The coursework is completely online and 1,000 to 1,200 students are anticipated to be apart of the program this fall. It’s ironic that cybersecurity now includes phones, something I never would have dreamed of as a kid. Where will cybersecurity be needed in the future? I can only imagine.

Jaclyn Klein

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