Wednesday, February 22, 2012

My search for the perfect bag...

I have several addictions... obsessions... hobbies... whatever you want to call them!  One of them is most certainly bags & purses.  I think the reason is I can easily find items in this category that fit.  My feet need hard to find wide shoes and I'm a curvy girl with weird short-waistedness going on, so clothes are sometimes a challenge to find as well, but purses - ahhh... those I can find that fit just right... and unfortunately, I find them often!  Add to this my gadget loving -and there is a lethal pay-check stealing love.

I promise to work this around to marketing, eventually, but first I'm going to mention some of the bags that have my interests.  My current obsession deals with finding good everyday bags to carry my iPad or my camera in (and sometimes both).  Here we go with what I've found:

Vera Bradley Laptop Travel Tote
The laptop travel tote by Vera Bradley was irresistible when I saw it in the KSU bookstore.  It has a padded compartment that fits both an iPad or a 17" laptop without being big and bulky.  I ended up purchasing it in the new Camellia print - and I love it!  My one complaint is that the length that allows for a 17" laptop to fit, also allows me to loose stuff and have to go on "take everything out" digging expeditions.  There is also a tablet sleeve at Vera Bradley that I'm considering and I love my tech organizer so much I may get a second one.

Now, for the first marketing bit.  There's a new social media platform in town that is drawing women like mad - Pinterest.  I'm going to talk more about Pinterest in the near future, but the SocialMediaToday blog already wrote a short post on why companies - especially those targeting women - need to figure out this trendy social media now.

Pinterest allows you to 'pin' things you are interested in on a 'board.'  I think of it as an electronic design or inspiration board that you can share with others.  Vera Bradley should be all over this because a lot of women 'pin' fashion items or looks that they like and want to remember.  I wanted to pin the bag I talked about above - but it was no easy feat.  Websites may have to be redesigned to accommodate easy pinning of product photos.  And Vera wants me to pin from her site instead of copying the photo to my computer and posting it.  If I 'pin' from her site - it will link to the bag when someone clicks on it.  Not so much if I have to copy and pin it.  Actually, truth be told, I didn't even bother pinning the bag after fighting with it for a few minutes.  I moved on...

Speaking of moving or more specifically traveling - I have found my dream camera bag thanks to my friend, Nat.  Kelly Moore has designed camera bags that are functional, fun and feminine (she does have some guy bags too).  There are several things about her marketing efforts that I think are smart (and a few I would improve upon), but first - the bags!!

Kelly Moore B-Hobo Bag
Kelly Moore Libby Bag
There are two bags that I really like the design, function and look of that I think fit my needs.  A big reason I was able to narrow it down was how Kelly markets her products on her website.  The B-Hobo bag I want for when I'm out and about shooting.  It's a great bag to hold your gear while your sightseeing or working on a shoot (at least for me).  The Libby is the bag I want to use for travel.  This bag is perfect for a carry on that can hold my camera equipment plus other stuff!  The Libby bag will also hold a 17" laptop and they both have compartments that securely hold an iPad as well.  I did have a bit of sticker-shock when I saw how much they are, but I may have to save my pennies and get me one before the Ireland trip in May.

Now, back to marketing.  Kelly Moore does several things really right in her marketing plan.  Her website is clean and easy to navigate.  She has a link that takes you to a "find your perfect bag" page that helps you locate the bags that fit your needs.  I love this tool and used it to find the Libby bag pictured above.

There is also a link to her blog from the home page.  The blog is fun to look at and very cleanly designed.  First-up you see her monthly contest - where to enter you need to like her on Facebook and/or follow her on Twitter.  A great way to draw more attention to either of those vehicles.  Now, here comes one of my 'needs improvement' sections for her marketing - the blog is (at least at first glance) nothing more than posting winners and information about the latest bags.  I want more than that from her.  I want to read about her photography - how her bag worked for her in this situation and in that.  I want a guest blog from a bag user.  I want more.  And hopefully she'll follow her name and give us Moore.

Just like Vera Bradley, her site is very unfriendly to easily pinning for Pinterest.  I did take the time to copy and pin my favorite bag -but the direct link has been lost.  I hope she finds a way to incorporate photos that can be pinned into her site, because I really want to pin more of them and share them with others.
The aspect of her marketing plan that I love the most is her use of video and the vimeo service.  Vimeo is an alternative video sharing place that is used particularly in the artistic community.  All of Kelly's promotional and tutorial videos are hosted here.

She has one video that is just a commercial for her bags that shows them in action.  Honestly, it's nice, but not inspiring.  I thought the actors/models were off - but that is probably a personal preference thing-because they didn't look like me or any of my photog friends.  The production quality is great and the music nice as well - and this wasn't an expensive shoot - so a very doable marketing tool for a small business.  I would just like to have seen more of the product in action and less of the actors.

Kelly Moore Bag Promo Film 2010 from Joshua Smith on Vimeo.

Here's another promo video from two years ago that features Kelly Moore as one of the actors/models.  I actually like this one much better because I get more of how to use the bags.

Kelly Moore Bag - Promo Film from Joshua Smith on Vimeo.
produced by Joshua Smith Films

She could easily combine the promo video with a contest to have consumers share the video in various social media platforms, and possibly she did when they were first released.

When you go to the video page of her site you will see some of her videos for her bags listed, but not all of them.  I would list them all in one place so people could find them.  There were many other videos through out the site on product pages that needed to be here as well.  What I really loved about her marketing was that she included videos of how each bag can be used.  I watched the videos for every bag (I started watching just the B-Hobo bag because I liked the look best, then decided I needed to check them all out to be sure about my choice).  I really got a much better sense of what each bag would hold from the videos.  Awesome way to connect with consumers, help to prevent returns and demo the bags.  I close with the video tutorials for the bags I'm hoping to purchase.

Libby Bag from Kelly Moore Clark on Vimeo.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Presentations & the Land Of Nod

While I was trying to find the land of nod last night, I started thinking about what I should blog about this month.  I need to do a Super Bowl wrap-up -and I promise one is in the works- but it wasn't what had me rolling ideas around in my head at 1AM.  A conversation with a fellow faculty member was keeping my brain spinning when it should've been finding the dream fairy.

Our conversation was about presentation styles and tools.  Now, as you know by now, I'm a gadget-girl.  I love trying new things -and if it is connected to computers and electronics, even better!  My colleague, though tech-savy, used more tried-and-true measures.  Some of our differences are definitely related to the subject matter we teach.  Being a marketing professor has the bonus of creativity being an underlying part of everything we should be doing, which let's my gadget-geek girl run wild when figuring out my presentations.

I'm not going to tell you that every presentation I have done has been great - or even kept people awake.  There are days when I feel like I am the one helping people to the land of nod.  But there are times, when I connect and things sizzle.  The creativity bounces around the room and I know my presentation is having an impact that might actually be remembered later - perhaps when they are finding the land of nod unattainable because they can't stop their mind from spinning about that presentation.  So, here is my take on several different presentation tools out there.

PowerPoint - We all know it, we all use it, frequently with horrible results.  It's the thing "creative" presenters are running from, and one of the most mis-used tools in business and most likely education.  Now, as much as I'm not a fan of Microsoft, I will say there is a lot to like here - and I do use it (though the Mac version).  Where people go wrong is by incorporating walls of text in their presentations.  Remember folks, it's about the highlights.  Less is definitely more with PowerPoint.

I can't say I haven't fallen into the traps of adding too much information or using non-related-cheesey-graphics-for-having-a-picture sake in my PowerPoints.  Right now, I know I need to redesign my Theater PowerPoint for my Entertainment Marketing class - particularly those slides about the average theater goer, where perhaps I went into a bit too much detail on screen.  But we shouldn't throw the baby-or PowerPoint-out with the bathwater.  It can still be effective, and it does have some nice whistles like easily recorded audio, a neat presentation tool for distance learning or corporate presentations.

If you're looking to get some inspiration to spiff-up your PowerPoints, check out Microsoft's free templates.  Nothing says blah faster than a standard, over-used PowerPoint template, and worse, nothing makes you blend in more than when you arrive at presentation day only to discover three other groups'  presentations look exactly the same.

Besides being gamger-girl-gadget-geek, I'm also a Mac girl who drank the kool-aid long, long ago.  I was using Apple, when Apple was far from cool.  The main reason was because I thought like a Mac, not a like PC.  The Apple "Think Different" campaign was all about how I think and how that pairs well with Mac/Apple products.  Apple's presentation software is called Keynote.  Hands-down, I like it better than PowerPoint.  It's cleaner with newer and fresher templates, but it isn't the standard in business, and does have translation problems when you convert into PowerPoint (some of the images you easily dropped in using Pages will disappear when you go to PPT because they aren't supported).  When I want a sleek, clean looking presentation, I use Keynote - especially if I know I can connect my laptop or iPad to the projector.  It's part of the iWork suite of products and there is an app I can use to create presentations on my iPad and even iPhone - so it wins in the portability department as well.  Also, you can open PPT presentations in Keynote and turn Keynote presentations into PPT slides in reverse.  I will admit that even if I create something in Keynote, I will post it in my on-line classrooms in PPT.

Speaking of sharing slides with others, let's take a look at SlideShare.
SlideShare is a portal where you can up-load presentations to the web to be accessed by others.  It's a great place for conference presenters to upload their PPT presentations (do it as a PDF to make it easier on you and others) for attendees to access after the dust has settled and they are trying to remember a key-point or long-forgotten factoid.  What is frequently lost at SlideShare is the commentary - the value-added by the speaker information.  If you are using SlideShare to disseminate your presentation after the presentation itself to your audience, more power to you, but if you are using it as a communication method you will need to think about how to redesign your presentation.  Jon Thomas from the socialFresh blog wrote a post giving some handy tips on creating better SlideShare presentations - take a look if you want more info.

But what is different out there?  What are presentation gadget-geeks talking about around water coolers?  Most likely the answer is Prezi.
I have been using Prezis for over a year now, and I finally have some idea for when they are best used.   I have watched students use them effectively and ineffectively - and I have fallen into the trap of using something new and shiny for no other reason than that it was new and shiny.

When is Prezi effective?  I love to use it when I'm a presenter at a conference.  It's different, keeps attention better, and creates movement that PPT and Keynote just can't.  BUT it has some drawbacks - though YouTube videos and images are easily uploaded and included, arranging things takes more time and consideration of perspective.  Can I create a quick Prezi?  Sure - but it may not be the best Prezi.  Perspective matters here - and if used effectively can make a real impact.  My biggest complaint is that I can't link a url to a word or graphic.  Instead, I have to put the entire url text in the Prezi and click on it.  BLEH and ugly - but I do it because the pluses out-weigh this negative in most circumstances.

Prezis work great when you need to incorporate YouTube videos and images or you are frequently linking to web content.  Last night, I used a Prezi presentation in my Advertising class.  I thought Prezi was more effective because it allowed me to embed the YouTube commercials into my presentation as well as print ads and photos of billboards.  It made my presentation easier than if I had done it in PPT.  Also, the large canvas - everything in the presentation can be seen at once - helped me to organize things easily. If I had been using PPT or Keynote, I would have been switching between different slides and most likely getting frustrated and losing content.

Remember those walls of text that are horrible in PPT?  They are worse in Prezi - don't use them - you'll regret it.  There is also a tendency to use way too much movement in Prezi.  An audience that is queasy and on the verge of losing the lunch they had before your keynote presentation is not a happy audience - so use the movement features judiciously and to make an impact.  Also, don't use their multi-user editing tool amongst users at the same time.  One editor at a time, and your presentation will stay in tact.  If you need to create a presentation using multiple users, try Google Docs.  I've had the best luck with not losing changes with multiple editors working at the same time in Google Docs.  

SlideRocket is another newish presentation method.  I will admit I have not used this one yet, but it is on my radar.  It looks to be sleek and easy-to-use, but I'm not sure about the cost of this one.  Let me know if you've used it or take a look on their website.  Here's an example of a SlideRocket all about being single on Valentine's Day:

Now, that the birds are up tweeting, and my furry kids are in the middle of their mid-morning naps, I think I'll find a cup of coffee and rework on those over-verbose Theater slides.