Category Archives: Uncategorized

Project Managing and Specifying What Needs to Be on a Site

http://www.liquidplanner.com/blog/11-tips-for-new-project-managers/

This article outlines some tips as far as project management goes. It has listening as the number one tip, which emphasizes it. Listening is huge. I’ve been on projects before where either the project manager or the person who’d taken charge didn’t listen to the others assigned to the project. It always spells disaster. Another point is to be an effective team player. One of my favorite doodle-based explanations of teamwork is when someone writes “TEAM” in all caps and then shades in the gaps in the letter “A” to form a lowercase “i”. The person says “hey look, there was an ‘i’ in team, it was in the ‘a’ hole!” The moral of that is that some people will actually work just for themselves instead of for the good of the whole project and the others involved. When that person is the project manager, no good can come from it. These tips SHOULD help prevent something like that from happening.

http://www.reviews.com/project-management-software/

This set of reviews on project management software shows some tools that can be used in the process of project management to keep things on track. Some types of project management software can keep track of everything involved, while some are better suited to budgets and other finance-based things. What’s important though is that everyone who needs to use the software needs to know how to use it. On top of that, the project manager should use it often to record which tasks have been completed and to document the processes. Documentation is huge with project management, and software that keeps track of the documentation does still need to have input, as it cannot just do that by itself. So with all things considered, project management software can help a project move along and keep everyone up to speed, but if it’s not used properly and often enough, it really won’t do any good. In that case, if it’s not a free product, it will just be a waste of money.

http://businessanalystlearnings.com/blog/2013/7/26/15-tips-for-writing-better-requirements

This article is on writing better site requirements. Site requirements are a crucial piece of the web development process, as it outlines exactly what needs to be part of the site and what the site needs to do. Without direction, one cannot simply walk into the web development process.  One point the article makes is to not go into details about how something will get done, just that it will get done. I notice that I jump into detailing how things get done when I’m working on my own projects or even school-related projects. That can possibly be a downfall, and it has been one in the past. Another key point is to avoid suggestions. Don’t make suggestions about what COULD be a requirement. Write what MUST be in the site. That’s what “requirement” means. Another good thing to note is to keep all the requirements in one document. This is for organization purposes, but can be important as it doesn’t create a mess of files that are all dedicated to one site’s requirements and specifications. All in all, keep things neat and focus on the task at hand.

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On Development

http://www.codingdojo.com/blog/8-most-in-demand-programming-languages-of-2015/

This article has the top 8 programming languages as of the end of September this year. While I’m sure some of that is based on opinion, it’s likely that a lot of it is industry demands. Of course it’s pretty obvious that Java would be ranking high, but SQL kind of surprises me that it’s the top language. However, SQL can be used for a lot of things and embedded in PHP and JavaScript, so that’s pretty important to know. JavaScript being 3rd does actually make sense as web is getting so much more advanced very quickly. C# though, that’s definitely something to keep sights on if it’s getting bigger, especially if C itself is the gateway to objective C- iOS developer heaven. To further look at iOS, Swift is on the list as well as Apple seems to be staying strong. All in all, I think learning at least most of these would be a good investment.

http://radar.oreilly.com/2014/01/7-ways-to-be-a-better-programmer-in-2014.html
This article isn’t super old, and it covers programming tips that should carry forth into the future. Plus, they’re nerdy enough to reference Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. If you’re referring to anything Douglas Adams-related, you’re probably steeped in out-of-the-box logic. To depart from nerdiness, the article outlines some definitely useful tips. I noticed that it mentions not being afraid to break things, and I find that interesting as that’s my natural way of doing things. Heck, I keep files and folders on my computer called “sandbox” for the very purpose of dissecting code and pasting it around into a Frankenstein’s monster of hands-on tested code. If I can work on some of the other tips a little more (oops) I can definitely see myself improving as a developer.

http://avocadoplugins.com/5-tips-computer-programming-beginners/
This is a somewhat recent-ish article outlining more tips. It does say that a programmer should work on one language before diving into others, but I feel that as with typography there are rules that can be broken under some exceptions. For example, combining HTML with CSS can be done well before the article’s ballpark estimate of 2 years for a language before moving on. Heck, you really wouldn’t need 2 entire years of those two before adding some JavaScript. In this day and age, rapid learning might move you along faster. However, they say to keep code clean and to love what you do. This does boil down to enjoying problem solving and puzzles. I got into development because I love the coding side of web development and solving problems. Logic puzzles are one of my favorite things, and eventually development just turns out to be a huge logic puzzle that just has tools that are out of the ordinary.

On 90s Web Horror and Ways to Improve Your Skills

http://www.businessinsider.com/big-brands-90s-websites-look-terrible-2013-4?op=1

This article shows some “before and after” style views on some large companies’ websites from the 90s to recent times. It shows how what’s considered good design can change drastically over a decade or so. I think part of the problem, however, was that 1996 didn’t have the CSS technology we have now. However, they did have .gif technology and dancing babies, so they clearly decided that they were going to do everything just because they could. We now know that it’s not a good idea to just use every type of technology all at once and make a scattered navigation page out of the home page, but who’s to say we have the cleanest and most useful web design now? Perhaps in 10 years the decade from 2010 to 2020 will be considered yet another terrible decade in web design. But then again, we weren’t the 1990s. And it’s especially interesting to see how far Apple’s come- they’re supposed to be streamlined and neat, but apparently that wasn’t the original plan.

http://justcreative.com/2007/12/06/bad-graphic-design/

How NOT to do graphic design… and somewhat how you actually should. As far as this article goes, I can agree for pretty much all of it. I’m not entirely certain that the centering looks better- but that’s probably just their example. A poem actually would be centered by its lines. The rest of the body copy however would likely not be centered unless you’re compiling a poetry anthology. I would not commission the author of this article to do that.

However, the rest of the article seems rather sound. It has good advice that applies to print, and maybe a little bit to web. Don’t use comic sans unless you have a really good reason to, and don’t use the same generic computer font every time- unless you have a really good reason to, such as a sales report.

I think the main issue the author in this article is having is that “once you know the rules, then you can break them”. There are times and places for doing different things with design, and if you have a really good reason to do something against what is commonly accepted as a guideline, then go ahead and do it. You’re not going to put a 50-page sales report in 10 different fonts for the sake of not using a standard font constantly. Using more “interesting” fonts could detract from the information.

http://blog.logodesignguru.com/habits-of-bad-graphic-designers/

This article outlines a summary of how not to behave as a graphic designer. I really wanted to use an article on “keming” which is to say, bad kerning, but unfortunately that was a bit risqué for school (you’d be surprised at what people don’t notice until it’s too late). Anyway, with that you could easily add to this list that a bad designer doesn’t proofread.

I like how the article mentions that you should use correct software. That is key. However, as long as your software is doing the job, there shouldn’t be too much problem with deviation. For example, if you need a .jpg image resized for the web, you’re already using raster and GIMP will do the job. It’s just more important to make sure you’re using the right file type and the software that will give you that file type.

On Social Media and… how it ties in to customer relations.

http://money.cnn.com/2012/08/14/technology/progressive-tweets/

This article shows why you don’t want to use automatic tweets for replies as part of a social media team. When replying to any potential consumers, it’s not wise to let an automated reply repeat itself- it’s better to respond to things with a genuine (but tactful) response. So when the public’s concern is one of life and death? Definitely a terrible idea to let the automated responses pile up. This gives the impression that the company doesn’t care at all for its customers. While a single tweet with the message given would have been appropriate as an official statement, using it to automatically reply to any customer or Twitter user that directly tweeted the company was a clear mistake. Progressive could have used the original message once as an official statement, and then replied to a few of the concerned messages separately and with tact. That would have reflected far better on their part and perhaps improved customer relations instead of being detrimental.

http://oursocialtimes.com/6-examples-of-social-media-crises-what-can-we-learn/

This article gives examples of what to learn from social media mishaps. It explains that Applebee’s handled a social media backfire terribly and lost customer trust because of it. It goes on to explain that while Kitchenaid had an incredibly rude tweet get sent to its company account instead of the social media manager’s personal account, the company was able to pick up the pieces thanks to an apology from the company explaining that the person responsible would no longer be using the company’s Twitter account.  Using knowledge about other social media problems that companies may have, even if a tweet making fun of someone having a death in the family was put onto a personal account, the person posting it may have consequences. In short, be careful what gets sent out- and be careful how you handle things that do make it out.

http://mavsocial.com/the-top-5-social-media-campaigns-to-inspire-success/

This article shows not only good social media marketing campaigns, it gives examples of how to create your own successful campaign. Giving examples that point towards humor shows that humor is a driving force behind things “going viral”. When thinking about the last social media marketing breakthrough, most campaigns that come to mind are going to be witty, funny, or downright hilarious. The remainder is going to be filled with touching or inspiring campaigns, such as the mentioned Starbucks campaign on Twitter that dealt with giving other people free coffee.  This shows that social media marketing relies heavily on an emotional approach of some kind. Giving people a way to give others something simple, or making a point with sarcastic use of hashtags can echo throughout social media. And the more shares, likes, retweets and more means more people talking about your brand.

Takeaways from Friday: 9/25

http://www.ccmarketingonline.com/create-your-editorial-calendar-3-easy-steps/

While looking through an article on different parts of an online marketing plan, I found a section saying that an “editorial calendar” would be a good thing to include. Since I did not know what this is, I clicked the link and read about it. An editorial calendar is a basic timeline of what to write about and when to write it. As far as social media marketing goes, this could be a huge asset. Why? If a company’s social media department has a job to do but no idea what to write about, there could be a lag in productivity.

The concept of an editorial calendar could easily be adapted for any form of social media marketing. It could be used to keep track of Facebook coupons, as well as other promotions. In fact, the article does say to make a list of the top ten questions clients are asking. This would be a good way to listen to the consumers and address these concerns.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/lawrencesiff/2013/05/28/5-lessons-for-mastering-your-mission/

Forbes.com has a good resource on what having a mission statement means and how to go about composing one. The article starts off by encouraging the reader to dig deeper into what it is their business is about. For example web design company may provide websites. Digging deeper would be that the company creates solutions for effective communication. However, that’s not the only piece of a mission statement. A mission statement should be concise but clear. Simple without being watered down. “Creating effective communication solutions” would be a good place to start. An emotional connection is the last piece that needs writing. With an emotional, passion-driven component, your company and consumers will be able to feel the mission statement and with it, the business. “Creating effective communication solutions for a world that’s moving forward” would encompass the main points. However, there is one more thing: to live and act on that mission statement. The company should take that mission statement and put it into everything they do. After all, how is the mass public going to catch on and believe in something the company as a whole doesn’t?

http://www.trewmarketing.com/smartmarketingblog/marketing-planning-2/digital-marketing-in-your-marketing-planning/#sthash.hi2yuMvE.dpbs

This article shows where digital marketing fits into a marketing plan. With this, I can make conclusions about how an IT professional would be able to contribute to a marketing plan. The article outlines that digital marketing can be made to personalize the ads and promotions to better fit consumers’ needs.

So where do IT professionals come in when a marketing plan is being put together? Well, where do the IT “nerds” fit in in Integrated Web Concepts? The digital world has been expanding for around four decades, and especially in the last one. So far, in class discussions, the IT part has been how the field ties into marketing- SEO, social media marketing, and CRM software solutions. A marketing plan could include all of these things, and an IT professional who can explain details in “plain English” when asked would be a huge asset when putting together a proper marketing plan.

Differentiation, Positioning, and Strategy

This video explains why differentiation depends on target markets as well as why differentiation is important on its own. It shows a few different ways to differentiate a brand or product. These ways include focusing on quality as a key value. If consumers see your product as being high quality, that could differentiate your brand and gain more sales. Product leadership is another method of differentiation. Like Apple, which (formerly?) has been seen as the high tech, cutting edge leader of computer and cell phone markets. Apple is seen as a clean, futuristic innovator. This is what helped give Apple its loyal consumer base.  Yet another is called “customer intimacy” in the video, but that would be customer relationship- as in CRM. Specializing in great customer service and building good relationships with customers can be a very effective way to differentiate a brand from others in the same market.

http://www.kelseyads.com/why-is-your-brand-positioning-important/

This article makes a similar point, but further hammers the idea that sticking to a proper target market will make positioning your brand against others possible. It gives the example of trying to sell snow tires in Arizona. The target market for snow tires there is going to be slim to none.  A far better approach would be developing tires that grip roads after a sandstorm sweeps through. Sticking with that example, positioning the brand as bringing safety would be a good fit. It’s likely people in the market for tires that grip despite sandy conditions would prioritize safety. But then one would have to stick to the concept of safety. Putting out too many ads that advertise say, the “coolness” of having sand tires, or how well-made the tires are might distract from the main goal. Unless the well-made property or reliability of the tires directly feeds into the safety, the attempts at positioning are going to start falling flat.

http://www.wsxenterprise.co.uk/why-do-you-need-a-marketing-strategy-december-2012/

This article sums up why marketing strategies are important to companies. Because of this, it would sum up a huge chunk of the marketing discussion. Why? It shows how the different pieces of the marketing pie come together in the marketing plan. For example, it shows the relationship between target markets and market research. It would be difficult to do a lot of in-depth research without knowing the target market. To build on this, it would be difficult to even find a target market if the product or service doesn’t fill any needs or wants for anyone. But if that were the case, a company would be able to build a target market (like how razor companies started selling to women during WWII when their original target market, the men, left to fight) – which would be all part of a marketing plan. It also says to keep going over your market plan. If some parts aren’t working out, fix them! It wouldn’t make sense to adhere to a broken marketing plan and it wouldn’t make sense to lag behind the competition.

Customer Relationship Management – How and why, as well as how NOT.

This video shows both bad and good examples of Customer Relationship Management. The first example would likely not get many return customers. The first example’s company would be building a negative brand. What people would think of that company and what they would feel about it would be that they’re cold and unwelcoming. The company in the first example would be seen as trying to rush consumers in and out and not giving one thought about anything besides income.

The second example would be a company that has built their brand on good customer service and has a good handle on CRM. They will likely see far more customers, as the customers will feel welcomed and cared about. Instead of being sent out the door by a rude representative, they are given information to make an educated decision about the service, and are able to ask questions. The questions are met with enough details to know how to make a decision.

http://myndset.com/2009/10/24/customer-relationship-management-crm-2-examples-one-good-one-bad/

This article is similar to the first example, but with the perspective of social media marketing. The first example in this article is a good one. A dentist in France had a plan to send out texts to patients about upcoming appointments. This would be possible thanks to a patient database with contact information. Sending out texts based on such a database would not necessarily be difficult, as there are programs that will send out texts automatically with different messages based on other factors.

However, the second example, which is a cosmetics company that markets internationally, the emails are a mass advertisement that might have a coupon. There is nothing personal about these messages. I’ve actually seen similar ones that my mom gets, and a lot of them focus on one type of cosmetic per ad, and often it’s anti-aging cream. Now they may have figured out that their target market could be looking for that, but their consumer base may have other needs beyond just getting what amounts to a generalized magazine ad in their email inbox.  A CRM software may be used- for example, having consumers who get emails fill in a survey could help sort the possible emails into a few categories, and the copy could be written to be a bit more personal in these emails.

This video shows a few different ways to communicate with angry consumers over the phone (or possibly email) without the situation escalating. This would be a huge part of CRM, as an angry customer is already developing a negative opinion about your business. Defusing the situation is important, as the problem can then be solved properly. It’s also possible that the customer will change their mind about your company. Word of mouth is incredibly powerful, especially if it’s because of a negative experience. Yes, an angry consumer may have spread some nasty comments about your business, but if they receive excellent customer service, they may later tell others about the customer service experience.

It’s especially important to keep the consumer’s possible social media comments when dealing with that consumer over the phone or email. If an angry reply goes to the customer, the customer is going to tell everyone that the employees handling the situation replied in an immature and childish manner- even if that consumer was behaving far worse. Business diplomacy goes so far.

Tips and Jobs in SEO

http://www.searchenginejournal.com/2015-seo-salary-job-research-study-infographic/127163/

I wanted to know more about how Search Engine Optimization related jobs were growing and how the salaries go for such jobs. The lower infographics show where jobs are headed, average salaries, job titles, and more. It’s interesting to see that a couple of common job titles are related to marketing and/or strategy. In fact, seeing that a Director of Marketing could be in charge of Search Engine Optimization is very interesting.

Seeing the amount of job growth is very nice, but it’s not really surprising. As more companies realize that they need Google to get business, they seem to be bringing in more potential for grabbing that part of the market. While I find the coding aspect of development to be my calling, SEO would be a darn good idea.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2014/08/20/15-google-analytics-tricks-to-maximize-your-marketing-campaign/

I found an article on Forbes magazine about Google Analytics. Forbes would likely be a good source to trust when it comes to business, as they have just about everything business-related in their grasp.

Seeing their tips on Google Analytics is great. It’s good to see what business experts find useful out of such tools. They found a way to make it so that you’re not tracking yourself- though it might not work for everyone since it works by IP. But if you’re working at an SEO job in a company, that could be incredibly useful.

http://www.searchenginejournal.com/24-eye-popping-seo-statistics/42665/

This last article shows facts and statistics about SEO marketing and how it’s used. It even shows stats from Bing, if anyone happened to be interested in how searching works from the most default of all search engines. It actually seems to have a similar rate of clicks to Google results. Why? Users click on the first non-sponsored result first. If that doesn’t work, they maybe go to the second one.

While the article directly mentions blogs for companies, the same thing would definitely apply for websites. And now that content management systems are common, it could start skewing the line between website and blog- especially with WordPress-powered CMS sites. These statistics would be wonderful for marketers no matter what sort of site or business they run.

On Marketing Research (and accidentally finding an example of why good websites are crucial to marketing)

http://www.inc.com/guides/marketing/24018.html

This website has a bunch of tutorials on marketing research and a few articles on what other companies have done wrong. It offers insight into such topics as creating your own focus group, a couple of tips about inexpensive ad methods, and tutorials on target markets.

The articles are fairly in-depth depending on the article’s goal. The “tips from a guerilla marketer” page doesn’t have a long article, but it gives a look as to how others have found success in getting ads to the consumers for a smaller cost.

The article on how to set up a focus group, or consumer panel, is actually rather informative relative to recent discussions. Instead of just outlining the types of questions that would be asked during a focus group panel, it also explains ways to invite customers and how to go about using the information. What I thought was really interesting was how it explained the panel atmosphere. It should be kept as anonymous as possible, and there should be employees there to listen to the feedback and take notes- but they should not be contributing any ideas or feedback of their own. The employees should be ready to answer questions, but not give any explanation that wasn’t asked for or any reasoning against complaints.

http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/34145/How-to-Design-a-Marketing-Survey-That-Yields-Legitimate-Results.aspx

This blog post from HubSpot gives amazing insight into writing up a market research survey. It goes over how to write the questions as well as who should be writing questions. For example, the marketing department should be sharing the survey drafts with other departments. Why? Other departments may know things about products or services that the marketing might not. Besides, having more minds to collaborate means more power behind the work. The post also explains that too many questions will lower results. If you have more questions than the recommended ballpark of 40, the article also suggests giving an incentive for completing the survey, such as being registered to win a cash prize or something else reasonable for the survey (perhaps that’s why stores and restaurants offer $1000 for a survey- they could be really long!).  It’s also incredibly important to proofread and go over the questions again and again. Questions shouldn’t lead to an answer or assume one way or another. The grammar and spelling should also be proofread. In short, don’t be short about writing your surveys.

http://web.bryant.edu/~jcurran/Report.html

This article explains the how, what, and why of marketing research reports. It explains in depth how to write a marketing research report and why each section is important. A marketing research report is what it sounds like- a report on the marketing research that has been done. It outlines what the findings of the conducted study were, offers insights to any limitations of the study, and recommendations as to what to do about the study’s results. It also shows that references and appendices can be important, but should not get in the way of the body of the report. References show that you have compiled a valid report and give credit where credit is due. Appendix sections are for surveys themselves, graphs, charts, and any other material that is important to the report but would get distracting or confusing if they appeared in the main parts of the report.

It’s important for a marketer to know how to write a marketing research report, and it is beneficial for other departments to understand how marketing research reports work. Since other departments would really only need some stats and the proposed usage of the information, they should understand how the marketing got to the conclusions from reading the section and then look up anything else that needs clarification.

Takeaways from 9/08’s class

This video goes over STP, but with a little more in-depth as to how you would segment, especially outlining 4 common ways to segment markets. It also goes over targeting, as far as how fitting the segment would be and the benefits of targeting. Another topic of targeting is the range of different targeting styles. It goes over different ways to position as well- but it does say that you don’t need to go for all the different positioning methods. It also hammers the importance of making a good marketing plan. “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” says the video.

I find this to be interesting as it does go a little bit more in-depth than the class while still not being overwhelming. It was interesting to note that there are so many different targeting methods. While it doesn’t explain these methods in detail, I can get a better grasp of how marketers need to do a lot of research before they start doing anything at all.

http://articles.bplans.com/target-marketing/

This article goes over a bit of history of target marketing. It explains how target marketing didn’t exist in its current form at all around 60 years ago. Instead, there were small businesses that knew their customers or ads in newspapers. Companies didn’t look at demographics- they simply marketed their products towards men or towards women and didn’t need to worry about whether or not men who enjoyed a certain sport were more likely to buy the product or if more single than married women purchased something. Eventually, businesses noticed that different age groups were attracted to different products, thus giving way to more demographically-based marketing strategies.

Now, businesses have far more ways to gather research about prospective consumers and platforms for advertising. I find it interesting to see a more historical perspective on target marketing, because it shows how far the concept of marketing has come. Also, it gives a sense of wonder over what the future holds. Where will marketing go from here? We can only guess.

This video goes over how to position a less-than-stellar product. Instead of stretching the truth- which can get you in trouble- or settling for less customers, a marketing team can go for a more humorous approach. In a time when videos can go viral, social media is booming, and consumers are growing impatient with advertising, it is important to grab the attention of the viewer and make them talk about the ad. Why? Because that builds recognition. When people see a hilarious ad, they remember it. They then remember the product. They tell their friends, and then the viewer and their friends try out the product. But if you can’t get the viewer to actually pay attention to your ad, they won’t catch on to your sales pitch. In other words, they won’t see the point in buying the product or service. This is why a lot of commercials on TV are getting surreal or otherwise funny- so you remember the Old Spice commercial, the McDonalds Filet-O-Fish singing fish, or the catchy opera song for JG Wentworth. Another example? Ask around and see who all remembers the Shorewest commercial where the guy bought a yodeling record and sang along with it, or even the Clapper. Even old commercials can stick in one’s memory for years on end.