SMS Masterminds, a division of publicly traded SpendSmart Payments Company, Inc. (OTCQB: SSPC) and the emerging global leader in next generation mobile loyalty marketing, is pleased to announce a major expansion of its business.
This announcement follows steady growth over the last year and aligns with one of SMS Mastermind’s strategic initiatives centered on geographic expansion and retail sales. The company continues to expand its focus into new territories and has appointed Spencer Cooper as Territory Development Manager and Amit Mehta as National Retail Sales Manager to cover the United States, Mexico and Canada markets.
Spencer, a UCLA graduate with a degree in economics and over 20 years of experience in new business development, competitive market share expansion, and customer relationship development, will focus on interfacing with licensees to help them achieve strong market penetration.
Amit comes to SMSMM with a widespread list of big brand sales experience, including Subway, Whole Foods, Adidas America, to name a few. He will be actively working with the company’s national network of 110 licensees in specific territories to draw in even more major regional and national brands to the company’s loyalty and mobile marketing solutions programs. In this role, Amit will lead the continued account sales growth in addition to overseeing brand relationships.
CEO, Alex Minicucci states, “We are thrilled to have Spencer and Amit join our team and lead our expansion into key markets. We have been experiencing significant growth over the last year and the establishment of these key roles demonstrates our commitment to our current and future clients in these area.”
SMSMM’s expansion is due in large part to the recent acquisition from SpendSmart Payments Company. The merger initiative signed in mid-February is expected to increase the company’s product offerings with prepaid cards focused on shaping spending habits as well as strengthen their overall market share.
SMS Masterminds also provides SMS-based Mobile Loyalty Solutions primarily to small and medium sized businesses, addressing a worldwide mobile advertising market forecast to reach $11.3 billion in 2014, according to eMarketer.
“This is a very exciting time for us and for our clients,” Minicucci said.
What? Mobile marketing isn’t a commodity, and it’s not a product. Mobile marketing is a thought. It’s an abstract concept of being able to reach people any time, any where, day or night – all because people have these miniature computers with them everywhere they go. Mobile marketing is a philosophy of understanding that we as marketers can reach people any time, any where, which gives us great power – but we as marketers have the responsibility to respect the relationship with the consumer.
Mobile is still a relatively new technology, and smartphones are even younger. Apple’s first iPhone came out in 2007 – only seven years ago! Because these technologies are younger, they tend to be viewed as a passing fad – a nuisance, something that won’t be able to stand its own in terms of marketing and consumer engagement. It’s time for merchants to realize mobile is here to stay, and will be invaluable in the marketing world.
I run a business development company. I help entrepreneurs succeed in mastery of mobile and loyalty marketing, and then impart that knowledge to small-to-medium-sized businesses around the country. We develop technologies to allow these merchants to capture, retain and engage their most loyal customers.
Listen to my recent interview with Success Magazine’s Darren Hardy here for more about mobile and loyalty marketing!
As part of our 2014 State of Digital Marketing Talent study (announced yesterday, see post here), we asked 747 advertising and Fortune 500 marketing executives which digital marketing skills they value the most, and which skills their talent actually possess.
This enabled us to identify the largest talent gaps, and the most coveted digital marketing skills to have in 2014. (We define the talent gap as the difference between skills/specialties marketing executives value the most, and the skills their talent currently has.)
Brand side: most coveted digital marketing skills/specialities are analytics and mobile marketing
74% of agency executives surveyed believe mobile is a very important/important skill to have, but only 31% believe their talent is stronger/much stronger than competition—a gap of 43 percentage points. Ouch!
Marketing professionals, advertising professionals and job seekers alike—you can increase career opportunities and command a higher salary by improving your skills in these areas (they are all in demand!). Our library of online classes will help you do just that.
Get a competitive advantage and increase market share by improving your team’s skills with training and better hiring. The better equipped your digital team members are, the better your return on advertising and marketing spend will be. This will lead to better profitably overall. It’s a win-win! We’ve seen firsthand online training for teams improves company-wide performance through our own eLearning programs.
If you want to stay relevant, it’s critical to close these gaps through training. The largest digital skill gaps are on the agency side, not brand side. C’mon, be the strategic experts that you are! Your team will gain more trust and credibility in the eyes of your clients, and will know how to drive better, more quantifiable results. This will lead to higher billings and client satisfaction. Make it happen! We’re here to help.
Digital Marketing Skills and Talent Infographic (embed code at the bottom)
Our friends over at Kelly Services did an incredible job creating this infographic to go along with the report—it highlights these key gaps and opportunities. Big shout out to Todd Wheatland, Michael Kirsten, and Dominique Hanlon at Kelly—you rock!
Various studies point in the same direction: customer loyalty is disappearing in a hurry. Consumers put less trust in brands and tend to switch brands a lot faster. The famous 80/20 rule (20% of the customers account for 80% of the turnover) has turned into a 60/40 rule (40% of the customers generate 60% of the turnover) and is slowly evolving towards a 50/50 rule. In the latter case, loyal and disloyal customers generate the same amount of income. This shift is putting quite a few established marketing tactics in doubt. Should marketers invest less in loyalty programs? Or should they invest more? Should marketers favor proven methods such as investing in mass media?
The brand paradox
On the one hand it’s no surprise that brand loyalty is on the wane. Apart from the odd exception, top brands aren’t able to retain their status as market leaders as long as they used to. A loyal customer base can melt away in twelve short months. Many of Nokia’s loyal customers switched to Apple or Samsung without a second thought. On the other hand, consumers do tend to attach themselves to certain brands. Research shows that consumers are prepared to commit to up to five brands as longs as they provide a clear added value. Consumers have an emotional attachment to these brands. As a result, loyalty to these brands is almost self-evident. In other words, there exists a certain brand paradox in the world today. People like specific brands while putting less trust in brands in general.
Why customer loyalty is down
Several causes explain the decline in customer loyalty:
Companies can’t keep up with rising consumer expectations. In recent years, declining customer loyalty has been an issue for most companies in spite of heavy investments in service improvement. This is because the consumers’ pattern of expectation is evolving even faster. Consumers don’t compare a company to where they were a year ago; rather, they compare companies to the ‘best-in-class’. If Amazon doesn’t question a faulty delivery and deals with the problem immediately, consumers will expect the same of their local supermarket. The best examples create expectations across all sectors. Companies with a certain history and an older infrastructure have trouble coping with today’s rate of change.
Loyalty programs are missing their mark. Many companies thought there was a shortcut to creating customer loyalty: the loyalty card. However, all the latest studies agree that loyalty cards slash profit margins on existing customers. Instead of creating loyalty you’re really losing money. Loyalty is not for sale but must be earned.
Digitization makes everything transparent. The world is becoming more and more digital. The fast adoption of smartphones and tablets has further enhanced transparency. Today, more than half of the consumers use their mobile devices to compare prices while shopping. If a company or brand doesn’t provide a clear added value then consumers will shop for price. The online world has made price transparency very accessible, a trend that spells danger for any company out there.
Focus on individual touch points instead of on the customer experience as a whole. Companies are divided into various departments, with every department being responsible for the customer’s experience of one specific aspect of the customer relationship. There’s hardly any contact between the sales and after sales departments and invoicing is housed three floors down. Few companies take a holistic approach to customer relations, with just one person in charge of every aspect of the customer relationship. In a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, McKinsey claimed that disloyalty is caused by a lack of understanding across the various touchpoints rather than by customer dissatisfaction with a single interaction.
No unique relevance to consumers. When customers are disloyal, they are really saying that a product or service was not relevant enough for them to remain a customer there. The product or service in question didn’t stand out from the competition. In recent years marketers have launched scores of innovations, often a new flavor or packaging. Too little thought is put into the role a brand has to play in consumers’ lives. The relationship is too rational in nature instead of emotional.
Everything becomes a commodity
The five causes of declining customer loyalty described above all point in the same direction. Digitization has created a rift between the consumer’s expectations on the one hand and what the average company is offering on the other hand. The ever-increasing transparency is turning nearly every industry into a commodity industry at a record pace. The problem with a commodity industry is its high focus on price. Some sectors even find themselves competing against a free alternative. For instance, free online content is becoming the bane of the printing industry. When paying solutions no longer have an edge on the free alternative, the outcome is predictable.
The solution: back to basics
According to popular theory, there are two ways to escape the commodity market. On the one hand a company can work more efficiently, making it possible to sell its products cheaper. On the other hand, you can offer a unique added value, thereby reestablishing differentiation so you can charge higher prices again. In today’s society, though, this theory should be revised. Rather than an ‘or’ question, we are now looking at an ‘and’ question. If companies are to survive, they will not only have to work more efficiently; they will also have to build a unique added value for their customers.
Organizations should explicitly ask themselves: what is our place in our customers’ lives? What is our relevance to their lives? The answers to these questions provide the basis for devising a new method of approaching customers.
It all starts by approaching customers with a transparent story that goes beyond mere product information. In addition, modern consumers expect companies to act properly on three levels. Ranked in order of importance according to the customers themselves, these are:
Treating customers well: customers primarily expect an excellent and proper treatment.
Treating employees well: companies that exploit their employees or use child labor can get into trouble.
Doing good for society: customers like companies with a sound world view. While they don’t expect companies to wear a cassock, they do expect them to make a difference in a way befitting the company’s identity.
To meet this expectation, the story needs to be the same on all three levels. A company like Ben & Jerry’s is a prime example. They make delicious, high-quality products. Their employees and customers are treated the same and meanwhile they’ve started working according to fair trade principles. The overall picture fits, which enhances Ben & Jerry’s credibility on the market. No wonder Ben & Jerry’s boasts an above average customer loyalty.
Conclusion: customer loyalty is declining and we’re not going to solve it through marketing. The solution lies on a deeper level
This means you can’t boost customer loyalty through a simple marketing trick. A new customer program is not the answer and a new ad campaign won’t solve the problem either. The solution is not to be found in the marketing department (alone). Instead, we should look to the company’s top echelon. Those on the highest rung of the corporate ladder should have a clear vision of the added value their company has to offer and they should be able to translate that vision for their employees and customers. Getting your story straight on every level is the first step towards reaffirming customer loyalty.
We’re at the point of the holiday season where people are focused on shopping, and holiday traffic is expected to be larger than ever. Many stores are opening their doors on Thanksgiving this year to accommodate the rush of shoppers.
The latest Online Insights study asked 993 US online adults about how and when they plan to shop for the holidays, and the results couldn’t be more positive for mobile. Nearly one-half of consumers will use a smartphone to shop this year, up 51% from the 2012 study.
Capturing the Holiday Rush
The answer is simple: mobile. Imagine being able to capture the holiday shoppers during the slow winter months ahead. Imagine being able to give them special offers for their patronage. Imagine those customers coming back, over and over, simply because you’ve made them feel special for shopping with you. These things and more — that’s what mobile can do.
During the holiday season especially, consumers look for deals. That’s the whole point of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, right? People try to be the first to the store, the first to get in line, the first to get the deals. Mobile can take these deals further.
Offering a special deal to your most loyal customers will make you soar over your competitors. Sales, coupons and promotions are a marketer’s best friend during the season.
What Should I Do?
If you’re a retailer, take advantage of all the mobile shoppers. Shoppers are going to continue looking for deals and discounts into December as they’re finishing up their holiday shopping, so make sure to leverage mobile marketing to reach those consumers by doing the following:
Create a mobile-friendly website for shoppers surfing the Web for deals on their mobile devices.
Issue mobile coupons through text messaging to target the consumers looking for deep discounts.
Implement QR codes at the point-of-sale to encourage customer interaction.
Consider the different ways in which consumers interact on their mobile devices, including peak days of the week and times of day that they browse the Web, send text messages, look for coupons, etc.
Retailers, businesses, and brands— gear up for the holiday season. Shoppers are going to be active on their mobile devices browsing the Web for deals, searching for coupons, and making payments.
Take advantage of users’ increased mobile engagement during the holidays by creating an integrated campaign that reinforces your message, raises awareness, and creates excitement so that consumers will want to engage with your brand.
After the holiday season is over, retailers tend to see a sharp decline in sales. If you utilize the right tools during the holiday season, you’ll be able to reach those customers who came in to shop. Capturing a database of customers who opt-in to receive deals and specials from you during the holidays could prove to be invaluable as you navigate the last months of winter. Offering deals for being a holiday shopper and informing those customers of clearance inventory will bring them back into your store, even after the holidays.
How do you plan to implement mobile this holiday season? Tell us in the comments!
Halloween is in the rear view mirror—and all eyes are on the upcoming holiday season.
If there ever was one, this is the year for mobile. According to our latest Online Insights study, where we surveyed 993 US online adults about how and when they plan to shop for the holidays, nearly one-half of consumers will use a smartphone to shop this year. That figure is up 51% from our 2012 study. Two-fifths will use a tablet for holiday shopping—a 190% increase over last year!
Considering Hanukkah starts before Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday falls in December for the first time since 2008, the respondents to our survey are ready to hit the malls and shop online. In fact, of respondents of who specified when they would shop for holiday gifts, a plurality (44%) says they will start shopping after Thanksgiving. And that means marketers and retailers have distinct opportunities NOW to pinpoint and engage their target consumers.
Remember though—engagement is the key! Presenting captivating creative that allows shoppers to research and compare offerings, find a location where they can purchase products and grab coupons or sales promotion codes should be paramount.
Grab the full “Spending Season 2013” Online Insightshere (PDF), and check out our Spending Season 2013 infographic below.
Marketing starts before you launch a product and never ends once the product is out. Marketing is how your website is designed, how you speak to your clients, how you respond to customer feedback, how you approach customer service and how every employee relates with customers and prospective clients and partners.
Every employee plays a part in communicating your brand story to the public. You are how you respond to everybody else. Marketing doesn’t mean you should break the bank… it just requires creativity. Get it right and you will attract loyal customers, get it wrong and nobody will even know you exist. These are 100 proven marketing ideas that have worked for successful businesses.
1. Create a great product. No amount of marketing is going to make up for a poorly made product.
2. Focus. 50% of strategy is knowing when to say no.
3. Figure out the 10 journalists you want to have see your product before you launch.
4. Offer influencers early access to the product.
5. Create a press kit and keep its contents current-bloggers love it.
6. Give out teaser information about your product prior to launch.
7. Release a compelling promo video.
8. Everything starts with the story.
9. If you don’t have an interesting story, your blogs,videos and tweets will be ignored.
10. The marketing message should resonate with your target customer persona and call them to action.
12. Make a product that you yourself can’t stop using.
13. Launch is a process, not an event, stick with what works.
14. Too many things can go wrong if you bet everything on one award, one demo, or one event.
15. Focus on the processes that will get you real users.
16. Measure, measure, measure.
17. Find ways to bring your target market into the beta test.
18. Once your target market is in the beta test, communicate with them early and often.
19. Commit to creating timeless content.
20. Do not neglect your local media. Even more if your product/service is simple to understand.
21. Learn everything about the target market. The more you understand them, the easier it becomes to predict their behavior.
22. Understand your niche market, know where they are, go find them and introduce your product or story to them.
23. Business is personal. Make it Personal.
24. Try to outsmart your competition not outspend them.
25. Have a contest on your blog/Facebook/Twitter (giveaway something free to create awareness and gain interest)
26. You do not have to use every social media tool out there, find the ones that suit you and use them consistently.
27. Add value. Create a relationship.
28. Design tweets keeping in mind trending hashtags
29. Improve on the successful tactics, reduce or eliminate the unsuccessful and optimize your marketing strategy.
30. Don’t just start a blog. Share information consistently.
31. By all means, have a blog.
32. Adopt and learn from startups that have succeeded in your niche.
33. How about a customer advisory board to help you understand product problems better
34. Maintain an FAQ and address customer concerns.
35. If you’re hoping to send a piece of content viral, set aside some budget to launch it.
36. Respond to comments on reviews about your startup and address issues raised.
37. Communicating consistently with your fans.
38. There is no replacement for learning as you go.
39. Don’t ignore social comments.
40. Listen constantly to what’s being said about you and respond when you have to.
41. Build your network before you need them
42. Make your message memorable with a story that sticks.
43. Forget about you, your product or your company. Focus exclusively in creating a good and interesting story.
44. Be willing to experiment with a video that might not be consistent with your brand image.
45. Market to people who are in control of what they consume
46. Develop a contest that allows users submit their own video or content, which then is made available for others to see.
47. Free makes everyone happy. Share something for free.
48. Don’t be afraid to outsource, just be smart about it.
49. Creating content is only half the battle. Spend as much time as possible promoting your content
50. Pick something novel or unusual about your niche and write about it.
51. Connect with people emotionally – decisions are based on feelings
52. Content marketing shouldn’t take place only on your own site.
53. Develop content for the long tail.
54. Infographics and case studies are typically the most shareable form of content.
55. Produce content at each stage of your customer buying cycle.
56. Get more attention and you’ll get links.
57. For viral marketing to work, it must be completely painless and easy for your prospect or intermediary to pass it on.
58. Do something unexpected.
59. Your marketing goal should be linked to your business goals.
60. Add a link to your customer service emails that makes it easy to tweet
61. Create a very strong emotion. You need to have an opinion, to express an idea with commitment and dedication.
62. Do not try to make advertisements but connect with stories.
63. Don’t just write for engines, write for humans.
64. A good marketing strategy provides specific goals
65. Commit to smarter usage of images in your content.
66. Evaluate performance regularly – internally and externally
67. Anticipate customer’s needs and add before they ask
68. User-generated content is one of the best ways to scale your content marketing.
69. Forget neutral, trying to please everyone, supporting several target groups or any of the many ways to be unbiased.
70. A successful viral campaign comes down to three factors. Idea, Opportunity, Execution.
71. Listen more than you talk.
72. Your team is arguably one of your biggest marketing tools.
73. You can only focus on creating one sort of loyalty at a time, true?
74. Commit to smarter usage of images in your content.
75. Provide exceptionally great customer service.
76. Making promises and keeping them is a great way to build a brand.
77. The cost of being wrong is less than the cost of doing nothing.
78. You have an excellent opportunity to use inbound marketing techniques to bring in new business through targeted LinkedIn communities.
Author of The Icarus Deception, Purple Cow, All Marketers Are Liars, Small Is the New Big,The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick), Meatball Sundae: Is Your Marketing out of Sync?,Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? and Poke the Box and others.
79. The future belongs to people who can invent, implement, and sell the ideas–the free prizes–that become purple cows.-Seth Godin
80. Marketing is the way your people answer the phone, the typesetting on your bills and your returns policy.
81. People all over the world, and of every income level, respond to marketing that promises and delivers basic human wants.
82. You won’t get it right the first time. Your campaign will need to be reinvented, adjusted or scrapped. Count on it.
83. Companies must create remarkable products and services and let consumers do the marketing themselves to generate a buzz.
84. Tap into those ‘listeners,’ as they will always be interested in what you have to say.
85. Marketing that works is marketing that people choose to notice.
86. People don’t buy what they need. They buy what they want.
90. Marketing is not an emergency. It’s a planned, thoughtful exercise that started a long time ago and doesn’t end until you’re done.
91. At some point, you’re either going to have to stick to your convictions or do what the market tells you. It’s hard to do both.
93. Anything that’s worth being talked about is ‘a remarkable idea,’ and remarkable ideas spread.
94. One disappointed customer is worth ten delighted ones.
95. Companies can no longer rely on mass-media advertising to sell average products to average consumers.
96. Instead of ‘selling’ to a ‘hit and miss’ type of market, tapping into innovators and adapters would always be the right approach.
97. Be topical… write posts that need to be read right now.
98. Don’t promote yourself and your business or your books or your projects at the expense of the reader’s attention.
99. Instead of speed dating your way to interruption, instead of yelling at strangers all day trying to make a living, coordinating a tribe of 1,000 requires patience, consistency and a focus on long-term relationships and life time value.
Whether it’s for email, social networking, search or online shopping, people simply can’t get away from their mobile devices. For marketers, this presents both a steep challenge and an incredible opportunity. How do you engage the right audience, with the right message, at the right time when people have so much control over the information they take in?
Implementing a flawless mobile marketing strategy is no simple task, but these 19 facts should help get you thinking about where to start.
31% of cell internet users “mostly” access the internet via mobile devices. (Pew)
75% of people favor mobile-friendly websites. (SnapHop)
Mobile internet usage is expected to surpass desktop internet usage by 2014. (Microsoft)
Mobile is responsible for 50% of local searches. (Microsoft)
86% of mobile users are on their devices while watching television. (Yahoo)
More than 80% of mobile users claim a fast and reliable experience plays a role in how often they access a mobile website. (Gomez)
24% of users expect a mobile website to load in 3 seconds or less. (Gomez)
13% of mobile users say that they would never return to a mobile app if it did not work the first time. (Gomez)
Between 2010 and 2012, there was a 69% increase in mobile share of web traffic in North America. In Asia, there was a 192.46% increase. (Pingdom)
21% of US tablet owners user their tablets to shop more than once a week. (emarketer)
88% of people use their mobile phone to check email daily. (Return Path)
If all US mobile Internet time was condensed into one hour, 25 minutes would be spent on email. (Return Path)
63% of Americans would close/delete an email that is not mobile-optimized. (Return Path)
Over half of US consumers who have purchased something using a smartphone have done so in response to a marketing message delivered by mobile email. (Return Path)
Mobile subscriptions will surpass World Population this year. (MarketingProfs)
The average American spends almost 3 hours per day socializing on his/her mobile device. (Microsoft)
More than 33% of Facebook users are on Facebook Mobile. (Microsoft)
Half of all Twitter users are on Twitter Mobile. (Microsoft)
US mobile ad spend is estimated to reach $10.83 billion in 2016. (Mobile Marketer)
As a provider of mobile marketing and loyalty services, how do we answer the objection of “I don’t discount to my customers”?
If you’re selling our system as being a “discount” or “coupon” service, you will get a negative, knee-jerk reaction from some merchants. Businesses who over-coupon will find over time that their customers are being taught to only pay discounted prices. When 80% of a merchant’s business comes from 20% of its customers, the last thing we want to do is undermine the merchant’s bottom line by discounting to their most loyal customers on a regular basis.
Our system is a “loyalty” solution, not a “coupon” service. Our Masterminds help to identify and UPSELL customers by providing added value and increased product awareness through regular mobile engagement! Hair Salons, for example, are not interested in discounting hair cuts that frequent customers would have bought at full price. They’re interested in getting that same customer to by a bottle of product in addition to the service. Customers love the idea of receiving additional services for free or at a reduced price because it feels as though they’re getting hooked up with something exclusive and unexpected.
It comes down to customer types at the end of the day. You have your regular customers (whom merchants don’t want to discount to) and you have the irregular customers (whom merchants have had to spend money on to get in the door). Merchants need to understand that the core of loyalty marketing is never to undermine their bottom line, but rather to upsell regulars and increase the frequency of the inactive customer. This is accomplished by targeting the two groups strategically with different offers. Provide greater value without discounts to frequent customers and buy back irregular customers with enticing discounts and offers.
SMS Masterminds does not only provide the technology to accomplish this strategic engagement, but also the training and best practices of loyalty marketing. With over 1.2 million subscribers in our network we must be doing something right!
No more theoretical nonsense, no more existential conversations about whether a good customer would’ve come in anyways if we hadn’t sent that offer to them. These are great late night conversations over a good bottle of scotch, but entrepreneurs are about getting stuff done. To repeat a slightly lame phrase we use in the office, “analysis paralysis” – think too much and do too little.
I’m not going to tell you what to do today. We have a ton of great content on our blog and Facebook page for you to look at. This is a call to action to mobilize your efforts and DO something to build your business. NO action or program is 100% guaranteed, so use your best judgment, get started, evaluate frequently and make adjustments.
Your customers are mobile. I don’t care what business you’re in, if you’re not using mobile to engage people, you’re leaving yourself vulnerable to a competitor who WILL fill that gap. A sale is not a sale until the cash register rings. If you want to count on your customers to remain loyal without reaching out to them, you take a bigger risk than the risk of investing in a program to retain them. The downside of investing in mobile marketing: wasting a little money. The downside of NOT investing in mobile marketing: no more customers.
The greatest opportunity every small business owner has: loyal customers. Invest and protect them and you will thrive, or you can continue to sit on your butt and ‘think about it’.
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SMSMasterminds is now part of the SpendSmart Networks, Inc., a publicly traded company (OTC:SSPC)