Bullseye: How Big Data has helped Marketing hit the target every time

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At its core, marketing is about effective communication. How to deliver the message about a product or service through the need assessment, past the decision-making process and into the hands of the consumer. Seems simple enough, right? Wrong. The mediums by which the message is moved through the communication channels have been fragmented by the internet and mobile devices. It is much harder to reach the intended target when they are constantly on the move.

The rules of engagement for marketing are the same: The right person with the right message at the right time in the right place. The challenge now is finding the right place. Television has always been the key medium to deliver high quality images and sound to a captive audience. And for the most part, television still is. However, the way people watch television has drastically changed. More and more people are using television on-demand to watch programming whenever they want and not during prime broadcasting time slots. Adding in the fact, a growing majority of people are not gathering around their televisions but watching it on their laptops or mobile devices. This has created more static than a strong signal to the channel.

With all of this fragmentation of time and place, what is a marketer to do?

The answer is data. Big Data is the collection of all the tiny fragments brought back together to create a very clear big picture. Here is how the same old rules are used in the new game of marketing:

The right person: Social media has opened many doors for marketers to walk through and into the audiences’ homes. No longer is the target audience a female, age 30-55, living in North America with 2.3 kids with an annual income of $69,000 to $75,000. She is Jennifer who lives in Calgary with her husband, son, and daughter and drives a Toyota Sienna. Social media has helped brands create the deep personal connections with their audience. Relationships that used to take years to establish with traditional advertising alone. Now, brands can see the faces of the people they serve and engage with them on a more personal level.

The right message: Have you ever looked up a new song on the internet and then all the advertisements on your sidebar for the next week are for the album that song appears on. That nifty occurrence is Google’s AdWords and predictive analytics at work. No longer do you have to struggle to find the message that will appease to your needs. The message will find you.

The right time: One of the things that makes the Super Bowl the best sports event of the year are the commercials. For one night a year you can see the best, longest, and most dramatic commercials that are on-par with sitcom episodes. In a perfect world, marketers would want it to be the Super Bowl every day with an undistracted viewership. The reality is, life is busy and full for distraction. Especially, if most households have multiple televisions, computers, and Smartphones. The audience is no longer at the mercy of the advertiser’s or mediums schedule. With the use of data in social media trends, Nielsen rating reports, and growing number of Smartphone ownership, marketers are better able to time the likelihood that their message will be seen, be the most effective, and actionable.

The right place: As it was mentioned before, the mediums are drastically changing. This leaves marketers scrambling to keep the audience they have and attract new ones. “Spray and pray” is a term marketers used to describe the costly uncertainty that comes with blindly leading a marketing plan and execution.

Mobile devices and application are probably the best thing to happen to marketers since the television. With the use of geo-targeted advertising through location tracking and brand’s offering fun and engaging mobile applications. Today marketing is so precise and in real time that when a customer enters a shop they can receive promotions on their phone and increase the chances of action.

Although, there are many choices as to what medium to use to deliver the message, the use of data in marketing has taken the guessing out and made execution more effective. Marketing messages are no longer being shot in every direction at random targets. With today’s data information refining the process of the right message to right the person at the right time in the right place, marketers can hit the bullseye every time

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Brick by B.R.I.C: How Big Data is Strengthening Emerging Markets

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What does it take to build a new business? The answer is usually a shopping list consisting of money, people, equipment, materials, and knowledge. But what if some of these items are scarce or few? Does this mean that the potential business idea is doomed, especially if the country the business will operate in lacks the required resources? The answer is no, the potential business idea has all the resources it needs with the integration of Big Data

Craig Mundie, Senior Advisor to the CEO at Microsoft, is quoted as saying:

“Data is becoming the new raw material of business”

Mundie is completely right in saying so. Big Data is the ultimate game changer in the world of business for a number of reasons. First, Big Data is relatively inexpensive compared to the cost of machinery or technology. Second, so long as basic math and computer skills are taught, Big Data doesn’t require a PhD to learn (although having a PhD in analytics never hurts.) Lastly, Big Data transcends language barriers. As the language of data is numerical, the findings are simple to express and outcomes easy to convey. The key is asking the right questions of the data

Big Data has brought opportunity to the emerging markets of B.R.I.C (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) in a way that has made them an equal contender in the world’s economy. Here are some of the ways Big Data is being used in these countries:

Although Brazil was a little late to the Big Data game, it was quick to institute college and university courses to its curriculum because it lacked qualified analytic professionals. The second reason for this educational action was to help build its citizens resumes and qualify them for higher paying jobs in fields of statistics, math and technology, both locally and abroad.

For years Russia has been a leader in technology. It should come as no surprise that Russia has some of the world’s most highly reputable programmers in the field of Big Data and analytic technology. From developing telecommunication software to using data to assess weather conditions for travel, Russia is creating data technology that the everyday person will use. At a competitive level, Russia is able to keep it costs down which has made their services desirable to smaller businesses who are looking to outsource their data analytics.

The people of India are known for their upbeat attitudes and kind demeanor, which is why many telecommunication centres set up shop there. The sheer population of India gives it a huge competitive advantage when it comes to labour. Telecommunication service are viewed mainly as a customer service function of any business. However, telecommunication is brimming with Big Data opportunity. At its base, telecommunication is Big Data personified. It is the collection of data on the human experience of any business’s products and services. The data that is collected via telephone exchanges is then collected and converted to the insights that make the decision-making opportunities of Big Data so effective.

Aside from China’s vast population, it was the first to use electronic trading. China’s Big Data advantage comes from its large population. This large population gives China the largest databases in the world from which to draw insights and analytics from. These large databases have given China great predictive power in terms of financial planning and spotting market trends. This ability to foresee financial opportunities and pitfalls has made the world’s economists and stockbrokers turn to China for financial advice.

It would be remiss to omit Mexico from the list of emerging markets. Mexico has been using Big Data to create jobs and control drug-related violence in recent years.

Big Data has cracked the code on business opportunities in many ways. Most importantly, it has created a level playing field for markets to set up shop and advance in the global economy quickly and efficiently. It should be mentioned that most of the advances that these countries have made in Big Data have only been in the last four years or less. B.R.I.C may be referred to as emerging markets but with the results of their efforts today, they will be mature in no time.

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Connected: Big Data for Social Good

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It was author Randa Abdel-Fattah who said: “Belief means nothing without actions.”  The same can be said of data. With data being collected at an estimated and astounding 2.5 quintillion bytes of daily data, these numbers are meaningless if not for the innovation and action of the humans generating it. Big Data is more than just the latest buzzword in the IT and business community. It is being used to improve the quality of life for millions of people around the world and bringing new opportunities for developing nations.

Three areas where big data is being used for social good are: agriculture, micro-credit loans for entrepreneurs in developing countries, and predicting then decreasing the prevalence of crime in high-risk regions.

Farmonomics:

Farmers for centuries have known their land, their crops, and weather patterns like the backs of their hands. However, as the world’s population continues to grow and the unpredictability of the environment and atmosphere, these variables threaten everything our farmers have relied on. The integration of Big Data in agriculture enables farmers to input data about their seeds, weather patterns, soil quality and saved them time and money in the face of the biggest threat to any industry, the natural environment. Through data aggregation technology, farmers are able to yield better crops, avoid droughts, work towards food security for the growing global population, and remove some of the guess work.

Mobile Money-Makers:

The availability of cell phones in developing countries is rapidly changing the quality of life for the people who live there. Aside from the ability to communicate on a larger scale, cell phone use in developing nations is increasing literacy and household incomes. As many people in the western world would know, cell phones collect a lot of data about the user, connects the user to the internet, receives and stores important correspondence which can instantly open doors of opportunity for employment.

Mobile crowdsourcing is being used to help entrepreneurs tap into micro-credit loans, supply donated water to drought-ridden areas of the world through NextDrop, and allow the underemployed to find work doing small jobs at a global-scale through application like Cloud Factory. Cellular phones have made the global economy scalable at an individual level. With the help of data collection, mobile applications, and cellphone access, we can finally make improvements to the quality of life around the world into a tangible reality.

Crime & Space:

Every year in every city there is a statistical report released to show how well (or not so well) law enforcement has been able to manage and deter illegal activities and crimes. It should come as no surprise that law-makers and enforcers are using big data as a predictive tool to determine the likelihood of crime at a regional level. There are many reports and studies around “contagious crime” or crime that is prevalent in areas that share the same characteristics. These characteristics include areas of high poverty, racial segregation, and past history of illegal activity. By recording data around these characteristics, time of year, places, and individuals involved, and creating positive relationships between these communities and law enforcement, crime is being controlled and mitigated before it happens with greater results and better outcomes.

Four Industries Using Big Data for Better Results

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Data is being collected 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. It may come as no surprise that data is being used in every aspect of every industry imaginable. But to what degree, in what capacity, and what improvements has data’s implementation had on industries like healthcare, security, aerospace, and oceanography?

Healthcare:

Imagine a world where traditional medicine could cure cancer even before diagnosis. With advancements in medical data there are more pre-emptive measures in healthcare. No longer will healthcare be merely the reactive response to illnesses, but the proactive steps the healthcare system sorely needs to prevent diseases, keep wait times to a minimum, and costs down.

Security:

From personal security like identity protection to society’s safety, data has enabled law enforcement, government, and military to use predictive analytics to reduce risks and minimize threats. By simply tracking individuals bank transactions to prevent theft or cutting through long logs to detect and prioritize potential national threats, data has made it easier to spot points of weakness in protective precautions and security.

Aerospace:

The aviation industry has always been an intensive process of perfect timing, gage reading, and monitoring. With the integration of data, it has made the recording and deciphering of numbers a seamless process. Benefits of data’s use can be seen in operational efficiency like preventive maintenance and improved customer service through timely communications, reduced wait times, and fewer cancellations.

Oceanography:

Even one of the oldest forms of travel, exportation, and exploration is experiencing advancements with the incorporation of data. By using small submarine-like devices that map the ocean floor which transmit signals to satellites, data is being collected and used in the tracking of fish migration, gaging environmental impact on the oceans, and improving the shipping of goods around the world. These data-infused operations are protecting sea life, uncovering once-impossible to reach depths of the ocean, and keeping exports moving around the world with less resistance.

It is an exciting age to live in. Data has made old industries new again and improved how business is done around the world. The numbers have always been there but with the integration of data, it is easier to spot patterns in less time than it takes to record them. Data has cracked the code to success and continues to improve many areas of life and industry.

5 Easy Steps to Building Your Professional Brand and Getting the Job You Want

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You: The Brand

The definition of a brand according to the American Marketing Association is:

“A name, term, sign, symbol, or design, or a combination of them, intended to identify the goods and services of one seller/group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of competition[1]

In this case, for all intents and purposes, the brand is you. You are the image, symbol and design you set forth in life and in career to differentiate you from all others. So, whether you are just starting out in your career or considering a re-branding, here are five easy steps to building a successful professional brand.

1) LinkedIn All Star? Nah, be a Rock Star:

When filling out your LinkedIn profile, make sure you fill out all relevant education, awards, and employment information with easy-to-read (no acronyms or buzz words) and factual information (just because you were a judge in a chili cook-off does not give you previous judicial employment experience). Be sure to update your LinkedIn profile often and not just when you are looking for work. This can be as simple as updating your profile picture (only professional headshots here. LinkedIn is professional, Facebook/Instagram is social) or adding new skills that your connections can endorse for you.

LinkedIn is a great way to build your professional tribe. When connecting with people on LinkedIn, think strategically and ethically. Ask yourself what field of work you could see yourself in and reach out to people that are already established in that field. First, send a message to your desired connection and explain who you are and why you wish to connect with them. If you are looking for a mentor in a particular field, ask if they would be interested in meeting for coffee (on you) or just answering a few questions about their job (Think: labour questionnaire). If their response is positive, send the connection request and follow-up about coffee or send your questions via email. Never send or accept a connection request without doing your homework first. People can see if you were looking at their page, so view only with intent.

2) You Better (Net) Work:

Networking is a big step in making your employment dreams a reality but it doesn’t come naturally for most people. The first step to networking is doing an environmental scan of your industry’s associations and social functions. If only there were a place to find these types of events…oh, yeah, there is: Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn. It is up to you to show some initiative and research your industry. After you locate them, join all associations and memberships in your field. Be sure to stay up-to-date on all events, and put them in your calendar. This is the quickest way to becoming an insider as opposed to an outsider.

Before you attend a networking function, you need to prepare your pitch/elevator pitch/introduction and bring your business cards. Your pitch is basically who you are and what you bring to the table as far as education, experience, and future career goals. It’s not bragging just a brief, pleasant, and impassioned way to let everyone know you are worth getting to know.

Next, you need business cards. Business cards are an investment because they will end up in the hands of people who will open doors of opportunity for you. Vista print (www.vistaprint.com) or Moo Cards (www.moo.com) are user-friendly and have great templates. If you are really on your game, design your own original business card.

Once you are at a networking function, be brave yet relaxed, and speak to people. The trick here is to ask guests questions about themselves. Find out who they are, what they do, and really listen. Listen to how they got their job, why they like their job, what education they have, and what piece of advice they would share with someone just starting out or starting over.

3) Oh, My Blog!

Start a blog about something you are passionate about. Failing that, start a book review blog. Why are blogs so important? It gets your voice out there, showcases your communication skills, and gives valuable experience with social media and content creation. Blogging is a valued skill set in today’s business world, as is social media management. The great news is, young people are very savvy with new technology and quicker to adapt to new forms of communication. So, get out there, teach yourself how to blog, and explore all forms of social media.

4) Keep it Real on Social Media

Everyone is online and so are their issues. Pro Tip: Leave the drama for your mama and never post it on social media. We all have bad days, drunk days, and FML days. It’s important to remember it’s not so much what you say but how you say it. The reasoning here is that employers will creep you on social media to see what kind of person you are and if you will fit their organizational culture. This reality might sting a little, but it helps employers find the right employees. At the end of the day, there are no bad jobs, just bad fit for jobs. It’s okay to find yourself a bad fit for a job, too. It will save you and employers a lot of time and heartaches.

5) Work on Your Skillz

We live in an age where if you don’t know everything about everything, you can Google it and in 0.0003 of a second you will know everything about everything. So, use it! In fields like marketing, there is a big state of flux. There are so many opportunities to learn high-level overviews of all aspects and then go deep with one you are passionate about. Marketing has far broader of a scope with the integration of analytics and social media. It’s true that you can get degrees and diplomas in various segments of marketing, but you can also homeschool yourself on Google Analytics, Google Ad-Sense, web development, and social media tools. Find out what aspects of your desired profession interests you and get to work. Read the latest book on it, research job market trends, and ask questions. Ultimately, success is finding how to get paid for doing something you enjoy doing.

Always remember brands, like people, are designed to leave strong, favorable, and unique impressions that are enduring. Be sure to always be your unique self, be strong, and leave favorable impressions with everyone who crosses your path because only the best brands stand the test of time.

[1] https://www.ama.org

A Social Media Anthropologist goes Data Mining

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As a child, I was known as “Snoopy”, the kid who always found the gifts before Christmas. I loved uncovering the truth and being in everyone’s business. So, when Facebook arrived on the scene in 2004-2005, you better believe it was like finding the mother-load of poorly hidden gifts in my mom’s closet. All the snooping and spying I ever wanted. It was all in one place and all at my finger tips. I spent days checking in on high school friends whereabouts, discovering who got fabulous or famous, and whether ex-boyfriends actually died or went bald.

It would appear as though my love of snooping..or..”researching” is now a highly regarded measure of productivity, better known as Big Data. Big Data is a way to better understand human nature through numbers, frequency, patterns, and relationships. Every time you log on to the web, you are being tracked and calculated. Right now, you are regretting viewing that last video you watched, fearing that a Google-nerd is judging you in an office somewhere in silicone valley or worse, reporting you to the FBI. Depending on what you are in to, this could be true. But my guess is that the Google-nerd is checking what keywords you typed in the search engine and finding more videos related to what you just watched to keep you coming back for more.

Marketing is in such a state of flux, right now.We have moved from “look at me and what I’m offering” marketing attention tactics to “look at you and what I can do for you” marketing strategic dialogues. More and more businesses are spending less and less on large-scale, poorly aimed, and flashy advertising campaigns. Yes, frequency and reach are still important but there needs to be a highly defined and grow-able target audience to engage with.

Between TV, internet, print, radio, out-of-home and mobile marketing, there is a lot of clutter to cut through. Analytics are helping figure out where your audience is spending their time, money, how to find them, and get them to act. The action of  getting an action is the sweet spot that analytics offers. All social media platforms have some sort of “insight” or analytic function. These tools help the user know when their audience is at their highest available reach-ability, how many “Likes”, “Shares” or “Follows” were received hourly or daily, and what was the most acted upon post.

I love analytics but I feel that they fail to capture emotion. I like to take a span of time on a social media page and track what made people react (see top of page for example). What is it about a certain post or image that caused a response or interaction. Once you spot the relationship between the post, comments, likes, and follows you will be able to better target your message and content to deepen the engagement with your audience.

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