Content Igloo Magazine IPad app is launched.

Content Marketing App for IPad

After a couple of months of planning, late nights, blood, sweat and tears, we are out of the gate with our first IPad app.

It’s called ‘Content Igloo Magazine’.  Scroll the details on our flyer.

Click to learn how you can get the first edition free: http://bit.ly/contentigloomag

Engagement Strategy

Digital growth is getting more skewed towards mobile platforms everyday and engaging a prospective audience where there at is central to marketing leadership.

This new digital paradigm presents traditional businesses with the opportunity to connect and engage similar to traditional publishers of print, tv and radio at a fraction of the cost.

A business committed to the principle of content marketing in all it’s forms, integrated tightly  within an overall marketing plan will compete or ‘punch above their weight’ against more resourced companies.

Prospective customers are now conditioned to be entertained, engaged and educated about the benefits or doing business with your long before the ‘pitch’ comes.

Meeting your market where they are at, with relevant, high value content or information that is of benefit to them in an engaging manner is the first step to scalable sales and marketing.

Content Marketing Magazine will help business and website owners with content strategy, planning, creation, publishing and distribution in a manner that will give you more bang for your buck.  AKA Leverage.

We believe in this strategic approach so much that we invested in it.  Today the approach has materialised as our new app.

Check out Content Igloo Magazine

 

 

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There is no reverse gear

Richard Bransons ‘Business Stripped Bare’

Richard Branson - Business Stripped BareRecently I have been reading Richard Branson’s book “Business Stripped Bare”.

While it is very engaging to learn about his exploits in growing multiple billion dollar businesses, certain comments he made, make me consider his approach to business and life.

One of them really stood out:

“there is no reverse gear”

To paraphrase his comments. Basically in business, once you are in, you are in.  There is no backing out, no reversing, no un-weasling promises you made.  You made a commitment to yourself and colleagues to go this path, to your potential customers, so keep moving forward, even when things get tough.

This really resonates as it is an attitude that there is no other option, it is final and resolute.  Push on.

The Water Ski Jump

ski jumpIn earlier days, I tried my hand at water ski jumping.  You know, the ones that you see at the Moomba Masters on Melbournes Yarra River, that are six feet high and professional water skiers hurl themselves at these ramps at over 100 km/hour.

To me, it seems like a good idea at the time, until you are out on the water and a massive immovable structure comes rushing towards you.

It is easy to resist the oncoming ramp as it looks like a flat brick wall.  You feel like you’re about to get crushed or beaten up, and wish that you could avoid it.  Basically turn back, opt out or give up or worst of all… let go of the rope.  But the one of the keys to successful jumping is to attack the jump ramp.

Don’t let the boat drag you over the ski ramp kicking and screaming, this increases your chances of losing position, crashing and hurting yourself. It is actually safer to genuinely attack and jump off the ramp.

How does this analogy and a quote from Richard Bransons book make sense?

It is all about moving forward, attacking todays task, venture or campaign.  By going 100% full throttle.  By doing so you will do a better job and reduce the risks of your business, task or campaign not working.

Jumbo Jets

virgin planeA pilot does not go half hearted taking off from a runway.  Imagine if a pilot was uncertain that his Jumbo would get off the ground, and only went at half throttle because he wasn’t sure.  He would certainly fail in getting off the ground, increase his risk of taking off, most likely crash and potentially losing lives.  100% commitment is the key.

Richard Branson has achieved many things in his life.  Understanding, that in his world, ‘there is no reverse gear’ provides greater insight into how he has achieved great success throughout his career.

I like it.  Do you have similar experiences?  Discuss below

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30 Days with Siri

Disclaimer: Apple has done such a good job of giving a Siri a persona that many times throughout this article I will refer to Siri as ‘her’ or ‘she’. Thanks for making me think my phone is a person, Apple.

This is the tale of a 2 hour a day commuter, 8 hour a day Fortune 500 company employee, and part time Lifehack editor living in the USA using Siri over the last 30 days. Enjoy.

It’s hard to believe that the iPhone 4S has already been out for a month. In this small amount of time we’ve seen iPhone 4S battery issues come and go, Siri outages, and data usage problems (that may not really be problems). But, just like every year, the iPhone proves to be one of the best selling smart phones of all time. It isn’t really surprising, is it?

It’s funny just how important Siri has become in my life in the last 30 days. Being an old Android user, I was privy to the idea of interacting with my phone by voice using Google’s Voice Actions. Google Voice Actions worked well but for some reason my use of them never stuck.

But Siri isn’t just about commanding your phone to do things. It’s about interacting with your phone in a way that Google Voice Actions (or any product for that matter) never brought to the mainstream. Not only does Siri provide the user with a way to interact with one’s device like never before, “she’s” also a tad snarky and has an attitude of “her” own.

This is the “special sauce” that Apple adds to their products. The way to make them more human.

Yes, voice interaction existed with phones before Siri came, and yes, Google did a hell of a job with making voice work with a smartphone. But, Apple is the company that brings “outlying” technologies to the mainstream by making them approachable by humans.

The Good

When I saw the demo of Siri during the iPhone 4S announcement I was super excited. Mostly because I am an Apple fanboy, but also because I am a geek and could see myself using voice to interact with my phone to get things done faster and better. But, deep down, I was scared that Siri wouldn’t be as good as it looked. I was afraid that the attractive man running next to the river effortlessly changing his meeting appointments with his voice through Apple headphones was fake. I mean, whose Apple headphones stay in their ears while running anyways?

But my biggest fear was that this “personal assistant” was going to be a digital interface that only worked if I learned the perfect voice syntax to interact with it.

This is delightfully not the case.

Out-of-the-box

I started doing the normal things first like sending text messages, scheduling appointments, reading text messages, sending emails, checking the weather, seeing how many calories were in a bagel; normal queries and actions to see how well Siri worked.

I would say 95% of the time, Siri was spot on. It transcribed my text messages and emails, added appointments correctly to my calendar (even repeating appointments), created new reminders that nagged me when I got home, played songs from my music library, etc. Siri was so good at first, that it threw me for a loop when she would mess things up like what text note to append something to or the name of the artist that I was giving her to play.

Because of how well Siri worked “out of the box”, I quickly changed my habits and workflows that I have had with my smartphones for the past 3 years.

Outsourcing with Siri

Here are the following things that I now outsource to Siri at least 90% of the time:

  • Appointment creation with the calendar
  • Quick reminders and time specific things that I need to remember (I use to put all of this in OmniFocus)
  • Calling people
  • Checking the weather

And here are the things that I outsource while driving or at home (not in front of co-workers)

  • Everything from above
  • Sending text and reading messages
  • Sending emails
  • Making notes
  • Sending tasks to my OmniFocus inbox (with the “hack” I detailed in our last Siri post)
  • Playing music
  • Searching things (as long as I don’t have to dive into Mobile Safari to get it done)

On productivity

Siri is a joy to use. When we talk about being and staying productive here at Lifehack, we all have this idea of staying in the flow of what we are currently working and concentrating on, allowing us to be in a productive state. Siri allows me to do that. Once the following three things happen, Siri will allow for people to stay in this state more of the time:

  1. Apple opens the doors to Siri for developers (which may be a good or bad idea depending on how Apple and developers identify their roles)
  2. “Normal” people accept the idea of people around them interacting with their devices, telling them what to do.
  3. The Siri service covers more ground and is more selective in the ways that it requires a data connection.

We will be able to use a “digital assistant” that allows us to keep thoughts at bay while we work and use other apps that we need to use with little resistance. Siri can then become a major part of one’s workflow. This is what Apple has planned for Siri in the future and once it becomes more “acceptable” in public to talk to our devices, this type of use of Siri will be a reality.

The Bad

You’d think from reading above that Siri is a bed of roses and that Apple is the king of everything in the world. Well, that’s sort of true. But, I did have some issues with Siri, some of them have still yet to be resolved.

Server outages

The biggest complaint that I have regarding Siri is that even if you do the simplest of actions (like calling a contact) you have to make a data call to Apple’s servers. It makes sense to do this sort of call for intense queries that require some backend processing like that of transcription and dictation or for queries that require some sort of call over the network (Wolfram Alpha search), but for doing simple things that are native to the iPhone it seems unnecessary.

The idea of making a data call for every Siri query isn’t entirely noticeable until the Siri service is down, which over the past 30 days I have experienced 2 times. I’m not talking about down for one query and then back up, I’m talking about Siri being down for several hours at a time.

When I wanted to send a SMS to my wife on the way home from work the other day, I got the typical “I’m having trouble connecting to the network” message. Some consumers may think that this means that the network is down, not that the Siri network is down. This is a truly frustrating thing and for all the times that I had used the Google Voice Actions on Android, the only time I couldn’t access that service is when I couldn’t get a network connection to my data provider.

Apple needs to rethink the way that it uses (and requires) access to the a data network and the Siri network to utilize Siri.

Where am I?

Another bad thing about Siri is how it doesn’t completely support different places around the world. Lifehack’s editor, Mike Vardy, can’t use Siri for location based queries in Canada. Siri just doesn’t know where Canda is right now. This may be fixed sometime in 2012.

I’m not entirely sure how Siri is working in other parts of the world, but when it first launched, location data was seriously lacking. If Apple expects Siri to truly take over, how can it if it doesn’t know where the closest Pizzeria is?

Features lacking

Something else that seems obvious that Siri should do is have the ability to change settings on my iPhone. Things like “Siri, turn off WiFi” or “turn on airplane mode” simply don’t work (good thing about the airplane mode though, you couldn’t turn it off without your network connection!).

Some other oddities that Siri faces is that searching the web can be lacking and inconsistent. I like how you can get a locksmith or find local escort services easily through Yelp! but searching for something like “where was the Lord of the Rings filmed” sometimes brings back a Siri provided search result (that is the search result inside of the Siri app) while other times gives you the option to search the web. It seems that Apple is still trying to figure out how to make sure that the search results that Siri will present are correct and the best.

This is definitely a natural language and processing issue. Apple probably thinks that rather than incorrectly presenting the correct, best results, users should be suggested to search the web through Mobile Safari. This way they can make up their own mind which is the correct, best answer.

When Siri finds things and is certain of what she is presenting it amazes me. But, when I search for something that I think should just work rather than take me into Mobile Safari it starts to reduce the “amazingness” of Siri.

Once again; it’s beta right?

In conclusion

My 30 days with Siri has been excellent even with the slight snafus of Siri being down and general feature issues (both of which will get better over time). Like I said above, I now “outsource” a decent amount of what I do with my phone to Siri. And as the Siri service becomes stronger and more ubiquitous, you better believe that I will use it more and more.

I think that Siri is revolutionary yet has its flaws. When I can raise my phone to my face and simply say, “remind me to take out the trash before I leave home” and have my phone alert me when I’m leaving my house to take out the trash, it makes me feel like I’m living in a dream world. But when I do the same action and Siri says, “Christopher I cannot connect to the network”, I’m reminded that there is still work to be done.

Siri, is by far the best voice recognition and natural language software that I have ever used. No matter what happens, Siri will continue to get better and smarter allowing us to be more productive with our iOS devices.

Tools in order to create content and leverage your time are getting more and more common place.
The new iphone as outlined in the above article can help you outsource, but do not forget how easy it is to create content that can help people, solve problems and build relationships ~ Wes

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Using YouTube to Connect with a Regional Audience

Connecting with an audience of decision makers in regional Australia.

A client of mine… err, my father, bought a specialist engineering firm earlier this year in regional Victoria.  Actually, it is so specialised there are about two firms in Australia that focus on this type of work.

What is it you may ask?.  They repair the fronts of grain combine harvester machines!

Sometimes referred to as the ‘comb’, unless these things are working properly, farmers cannot harvest their grain.  For some farming businesses, grain harvest is their only source of income annually, so when disaster strikes, they need things fixed quickly.

Harvester in Trouble

The ‘front’ or ‘comb’ is the long skinny thing at the front

The Strategic Marketing Issue

Our strategic marketing issue was how to connect with a regional audience that is very conservative and usually takes some time to build trust with new business operators.  On top of this, there was very little marketing budget.

Internet Marketing in Regional Australia

When it came to the web, the question was: how we could apply it to connect with a very geographically dispersed potential client base and build trust remotely?

Based on a research study, CEO’s and big decision makers prefer to use Video or YouTube to conduct their research before making decisions or engaging in business discussion. [Don't ask me where the study research is as I cannot find it].

Building Trust Remotely

Also, we know that regular, engaging video’s are the quickest way to remotely build trust on the web.  If your audience can get to know you, see you, hear you, gain value from watching you, they will become familiar with you.  This trust building process is accelerated with video compared to other mediums such as text, images and audio.

Relevant Content

Within each video and blog post, we needed to make sure that what was communicated was authentic and sincere, including:

  1. what was said,
  2. location videos are shot
  3. where to go to get further help
  4. supporting audio

Ensuring these attributes are conveyed in an approachable and friendly manner that is congruent with the target regional audience is critical to acceptance and the company’s brand values.

John WardConveying Credibility

Most importantly, we had to communicate and demonstrate the new owners bona fides or authenticity with the target audience which was his 53 grain harvest history and still a grain farmer today.

Another way to ‘keep it real’ is not to make videos too slick.  Overly produced videos provide cues that a serious marketing drive is underway.  By making more casual videos, published on YouTube, the target audience may identify better with this style.

Changing Name

One major strategic decision was to change the name from Murphy Engineering to Header Front Repairs.  To a potential client that had never heard of Murphy Engineering, it takes further time to educate what they do.

With a name like Header Front Repairs, the target audience knows exactly what they do.

Ranking in Google for New Business Name (and Old)

As part of the marketing strategy, it was important that if anyone heard of Header Front Repairs, needed their harvester or header front fixed, or typed in the old business name Murphy Engineering, that this business was found at #1 in Google.

If you type ‘Header Front Repairs’ into Google, you will see that EIGHT of the top ten positions are owned by the client.

Integrating Online and Offline Marketing

This type of positioning in Google allows offline marketing activity such as agricultural field days, newspaper and radio advertising to be leveraged and provide a better return on investment.

If a listener to an advert or field day visitor can remember the business name, (or the problem they need solving) but not the website address, google search results provides the nexus between the visitor migrating from offline to online.

Taking that concept further, direct contact phone details are provided so that the person who is in the videos, answers the phone… further establishing credibility and trust.

New Website

Given that the new website was built on MurphyEngineering.com.au, we will have to develop the new domain name (www.HeaderFrontRepairs.com.au) sooner rather than later.  Once again we used a simple video to rapidly build a connection on a very simple one page website.

Latest Video

The style of video creation was to get it as closely aligned with the ABC’s rural radio program ‘The Country Hour’. Hope you like it
Click to View on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPjNTRw18EU

Further Information

If you would like to see previous videos:

  • http://murphyengineering.com.au/blog/murphy-engineering-is-a-family-run-business
  • http://murphyengineering.com.au/blog/header-front-repair-from-benalla
  • http://murphyengineering.com.au/blog/how-to-extend-your-draper-harvester-front
  • http://murphyengineering.com.au/blog/combine-harvester-rotors-get-more-grain-in-your-bin

Comments Below

I would like to hear your thoughts on this approach.  Has this worked for your business or client?  Tell us below..

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