Drone Technology – A Sign of the Times

Yes, this photo is real.

This sign was posted on a telephone pole that is typically reserved for garage sales and missing pets. But, a missing drone. That’s a new one. I chuckled, and I wondered if this person would actually get their drone back…or if the drone is sitting crushed into pieces in the trash can of a disgruntled neighbor.

As the barriers to access drone technology by the average consumer or small business owner fall, drones are rapidly advancing a number of industries from real estate to healthcare. To sum it up, drones aren’t going anywhere. The applications seem endless, and the person with the drone can do more business for less and time money.

Get a Drone or Get Out of the Way

Real Estate – Not only do drones allow real estate agents to showcase property’s more thoroughly with drone cameras (thanks to drone camera footage and AI, you can virtually walk through your future home), but drones are making property inspections easier and more complete.

Industry and Infrastructure – Drones are being used to make sure bridges, towers, pipelines, power lines, turbines, storage tanks and more are functioning properly for less time and cost than traditional inspections. Drones are even being used for land surveys and construction project inspections.

Security – Big brother. Maybe. The Eye in the Sky. Yep. Keeping tabs on a property…and people. Insert discussion about privacy here.

Shipping – This one is sort of a no-brainer. Amazon’s been talking about this for a few years now. But, picture this. It’s February and there are 5 feet of snow on the ground (lucky you if you live in a warm climate). You have a sinus infection. You do a virtual doctor visit from the comfort of your couch, a prescription is texted in from your virtual doctor to the pharmacy, and a few hours later…beep, boop, bop, boop, beep…a drone from your local pharmacy drops off your script. What a time to be alive, people!

Drone technology, as it applies to our everyday lives is just getting started. Are you in an industry that’s part of the drone evolution? Or could be? Or, are you the person with a drone and the next great idea?

This is Just Cool

TIME magazine recently published a Special Report on drones, The Drone Age. TIME’s special edition issue cover photo is the first to be shot by a drone. Working with Intel’s Drone Light Show Team (the same team that created the drone display during the 2018 Winter Olympics opening ceremony in South Korea), Astraeus Aerial Cinema Systems, and L.A. Drones, the TIME cover used 958 drones set to display a precise shade of red, and a final drone to hold the camera that captured the epic image.

The result was one of the biggest drone shows ever produced in the U.S., so of course, it drew some attention. One Folsom, Calif., resident interviewed by a local news reporter recounted, “Up in the sky, I saw the future.”

We couldn’t agree more.

How to Use Technology and Trust to Prove Your Convincing Advantages

We, as a society don’t trust.

According to The General Social Survey, since the 1970s, our trust in other’s has dropped by almost 20%. And it’s not just people we don’t trust. Only 12% of Americans trust the press, only 14% trust banks, and only 14% trust government officials. Heck, we don’t even trust those closest to us. Only 42% of people trust their neighbors and only 58% of people trust their co-workers (I’m looking at you Jim, I know you stole my Poptart out of the breakroom).

Yet, here we sit waiting for a complete stranger to pick us up in his personal vehicle to bring us to a restaurant we found on Yelp, scanning Amazon reviews to make sure we buy the right toaster.

Ummm…are we really that skeptical?

In short, yes. But, technology allows us to build trust faster than we would in a traditional relationship. When we meet a person, a business, or a product, one to one, it takes time to build rapport. Technology shortens the time it takes to trust by compiling the data we use to assess trust. Not only does technology allow us to get to know our Uber drive before he shows up at the door, we get peace of mind that Steve is a great Uber driver from 100 other riders. I automatically trust Steve more because of those reviews. I might have received the same feedback talking to 10 friends about Steve’s driving, but that would have taken much more time.

Arun Sundararajan, author of “The Sharing Economy,” explains these technologies have essentially “expedited” the process of gaining trust.

“If you meet a stranger and know nothing about him or her, trust takes time to develop,” he says. “But if you have a digital system that gives you a bunch of info about the authenticity of that stranger, trust can be gained instantly.” (The Hustle)

The same is true for an early interaction with your organization. If I meet you a tradeshow, and you’re an RPG customer so you’re Convincing Advantages and Why are solid, I am really interested in how you can help me. I visit your website, see 10 testimonials, and I’m sold. Now, I really trust what you are telling me.

When we talk to clients about their Convincing Advantages, we stress the importance of relentlessly proving them. One of the best ways to prove your advantages is through testimonials. And testimonials build trust. If you aren’t using trust to prove your advantages, it’s time to start.

How do I get started?

First, identify the best way to communicate trust. Depending on your product or service, you may want to use technology that will solicit user ratings or reviews. Case studies are the perfect vehicle to tell in-depth customer stories. Testimonials about your product or service are also very powerful.

Second, ask, and make it easy for your customers to give feedback. You can request feedback in a number of ways; via email, after a transaction – especially if you are using a technology-driven system-, on social media. You might be surprised by how many people are willing to share.

Third, make it a continuous part a part of your marketing and sales process to gather feedback from customers. And, not just new customers. Revisit current customers and update your stories to show progress.

Lastly, publish the testimonials and reviews where you meet prospects – via an app, on your website, in emails and marketing campaigns, on sales collateral. Harness the power of technology to relentlessly prove your Convincing Advantages with trust. And start winning more customers.

Learn more about developing your Convincing Advantages.

Source: The General Social Survey (1972-2016) NORC, University of Chicago; as reported in The Hustle.

What is Mobile-First Indexing and Why Should You Care?

Over the past few months, Google has begun to roll out an element of their search that has been a hot topic of discussion: mobile-first indexing. We know that mobile usage is having an effect on every business online, and we know that more users every day are picking up a phone or tablet to find their answers. But what does a shift to mobile-first indexing mean for your online presence, and what is mobile-first indexing anyways?

In today’s search universe, more than half of all search traffic comes from a mobile device. Mobile search overtook desktop search in volume back in 2014, and the mobile universe has not looked back. Think the next generation isn’t going to continue the trend? Google has an entire look into Generation Z and where it sees the biggest market shifts moving forward. They are getting smartphones earlier, using them more, and want you to come to them, not the other way around.

So now what?

What is mobile-first indexing?

According to Google, “Mobile-first indexing means that we’ll use the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking, to better help our – primarily mobile – users find what they’re looking for.” Sure, nearly every website platform that exists today provides businesses with a responsive version of the site, which qualifies as a mobile version. But moving forward, that mobile version could become the primary page that is indexed and ranks, making the most beautifully, well-crafted desktop design move to a secondary focus for Google’s search algorithm.

Source: Moz.com

 

What impact will this have on your website?

In the immediate, the mobile-first indexing is rolling out only to a handful of websites. Google is testing the effect that this indexation will have prior to making it widespread, but it is going to be coming for all sites. This is not an indication that you will need to redesign your site, but you should begin to look at the site primarily from the mobile point of view. Was it designed with mobile in mind? Does all of the functionality carry over to mobile? How do your users interact with it on mobile? These are just a few of the questions you’ll want to answer.

Overall, the impact on your website will fluctuate. If you have a mobile-friendly site that exists because of the platform you used, you will likely see some negative effects on your organic value. If you designed with mobile-first intent, your site should see positive gains in organic.

What do you do right now?

Step one: don’t panic. Google is not going to be penalizing sites for having a desktop focus directly, and this is still being rolled out fairly slowly. All users will be notified via their Search Console (if you don’t have your Search Console set up, you should do that) when the rollout for your site has completed. As of now, there is no date as to when this rollout will be completed for all sites.

Step two: start making some changes. Although it will not hurt you today, you should begin to prepare for tomorrow. Talk with your team about mobile-first indexing, what you can be doing differently, and begin to focus on your mobile users. Write content that is focused on mobile search (i.e. question-based, terms using “near me,” etc…) and design in a way that will display best on mobile devices.

This will be a big shift in the way that Google operates, and the other major search engines (Bing, Yahoo) will surely follow suit. So begin planning now for the future of search, because your users are out there waiting on mobile!

What’s the Only Question That Matters?

Everyone that’s considering a purchase – a B2B customer, a B2C consumer, it doesn’t matter – has a really simple question they want to be answered, and it boils down to some variation of: is it going to work?

Very often, those being asked think they’re answering it. Sometimes, the one doing the asking thinks so, too. But companies that can reimagine the question and get closer to the answer than their competition gain a substantial advantage in the marketplace.

Take Dominos, for example, who just surpassed their rivals to become the highest-selling pizza chain in America. Their rise in revenue started by addressing product quality. After all, it’s hard to convince your audience that “it’s working” if the product ultimately fails. But then, they did a better job than anyone else answering is it going to work with a simple piece of technology, a progress bar, that convinced consumers in real time that “Yes, it’s still working.”

Uber originally solved the same problem. Calling a cab requires some faith. Did the dispatch hear the address right? Do they know where it is? Did the driver estimate the time right? But with Uber, you know where your driver is, how long it will take them to get to you, and what your exact fare will be; all before you leave! They convinced their users that the product was working, way better than taxi companies ever did.

You see, in between a customer’s agreement to buy and delivery of what you sold them lies a risk that’s usually pretty square on the shoulders of the buyer. In both cases above, Dominos and Uber, these companies helped ease the mind of their customer, thereby making the risk they were taking seem smaller in comparison to their competition:

Will my pizza show up?

“Yes, let me show you.”

What are you doing to help your customers answer that important question? What insight could you provide that no one in the marketplace is offering to help them understand and mitigate the risk they take when they wait for you to deliver results?

Hey Google, can you tell me how voice search is killing my SEO?

Who would have thought a 6″x 4″ speaker would change your life? Whether it’s Google Home or Alexa – sidenote, at 70%, Alexa currently dominates the US speaker market – smart speakers are moving into homes and businesses at a rapid pace. According to research from NPR and Edison Research, 1 in 6 Americans owns a smart speaker. That’s a 128% increase from a year ago.

Combine smarts speakers with mobile voice technology – your old friends, Google Assistant, Siri, Cortana, and voice search have become a dominating force for marketers and SEO.  In 2016, 1 in 5 mobile searches were conducted via voice search. (Mary Meeker, 2017 Internet Trends Report)  Currently, there are over one billion voice searches per month. (Alpine.AI)  And, 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020, according to comscore.

“Of all the disruptions that are taking place in all the things technology is bringing into our space, voice is among the most disruptive,” said Graeme Pitkethly, the chief financial officer of Unilever PLC.

Voice search has two major effects on brands:

#1 – How You Say It

Bottom line, you say it differently than you would type it. On your desktop or mobile, you might type “Store hours for Starbucks” or “Store Hours for Starbucks near me”. But, with voice, the user isn’t inhibited by having to type each word. They may say “Hey Google, what are the store hours for the Starbucks on Beltline and Knapp?” or something more conversational, such as, “Hey Google, how late is Starbucks open?”

#2 – The Algorithms

“When it comes to voice search you go first position or you go home because beyond the first or second place there is no future,” Sebastien Szczepaniak, former Amazon executive who now heads e-commerce for Nestle SA.

Consumers get one to two options when using voice. When a consumer doesn’t specify a brand, Alexa, for example, uses the “Amazon’s Choice’ algorithm which implies a well-rated, well-priced item that ships with Prime. If the consumer has purchased before, Amazon will usually select the brand previously purchased. Like most algorithms, Amazon won’t disclose exactly how it all works. Google Home works using apps or their own Google Express. If a consumer doesn’t specify shopping within a specific app, Google will select one of their current stores based on your location and delivery day.

At this time, brands cannot pay to be served up first.

In conclusion…

The consumer impact for voice search can be felt right now as users are already using voice to look for new restaurants or call up a 24-hour locksmith. But, it won’t be long before B2B organizations begin to feel it just as strongly.  Smart speakers will be in the workplace.

“Hey Google, can you send me a list of the top rated architects in Michigan.” or “Hey Google, please call a local paper shredding service.” and “Alexa, I need a supplier for commercial cleaning products.”

Optimization for voice search will be imperative for organizations sooner than you think. Now is the time to start thinking about your voice strategy if you haven’t already.

“The guy who will win is the guy who will have iconic brands and products,” said L’Oreal SA’s Chief Digital Officer Lubomira Rochet. “I believe voice is as big as the internet—and Google—when it came.”

Additional Sources:
The Next Big Threat to Brands (Yes, Amazon’s Behind It)
How To Hack SEO in 2018

That Time When a Powerpoint Presentation Was the Best SEO Strategy

A while back, a prospect came to us looking for help. Their search traffic had all but disappeared. Leads from the website were halved, and the president of the company had suddenly become embroiled in the details of SEO.

“We only got 13 links last month, and only posted 8 articles about our main keyword. We’re still ranked #27, we need to be doing better. Can you help us?”

We started like we do with most clients, by making a dashboard. In the top left corner, in bold numbers, we showed the revenue that the website was generating. In just three weeks – a relative nanosecond in a busy sales organization – the conversation changed.

“We only converted 10% of our leads last quarter. We need to improve that to make revenue go up. Can you help us?”

You Are What You Measure

The point isn’t that focusing on SEO improvements is the wrong thing to do, but rather that organizations need to improve the metrics they measure. Of course, traffic to your website is good for business, but given the choice between more links or more revenue, there’s a clear winner. After all, what are those links good for, at the end of the day, if not a means to revenue?

In the example above, the sales presentation became the priority because it became clear that it was the fastest thing that would affect the bottom line. But that kind of insight is impossible to gain if you’re measuring links and blog posts, not revenue and expenses.

After the pitch was modernized, the close rate nearly quadrupled. Then, it was time to get to work on filling the top of the funnel, knowing we could close almost 40% of the leads. For this president and her company, the change was fast. For others, it takes a lot more effort, but it all starts with how you classify success, and looking at how you measure it.

Companies that get it wrong confuse activity for achievement. How many emails did we send? How many meetings did we have? How many times did I follow up with that vendor? That prospect? How many pipeline moves did I make?

Companies that get it right focus on results and achievements, however they happen.

What are you measuring?

Top Three Reasons We Are Still Blogging in 2018

“There are millions of blog posts published daily, will ours even get read?”

“Blogging is so 2010.”

“What could we have to say that isn’t already out there.”

Blogging isn’t new. It’s been around since the mid-1990s. We’re not about to present to you a marketing breakthrough or some magnificent new way to do things. The takeaway here is that blogging is still very relevant and vital to your communication strategy. Here’s how it can help you today.

#1 – You Will Generate More Website Traffic

According to a 2017 Hubspot report, 63% of organizations report that generating traffic and leads is their number one marketing challenge. It’s no secret you are competing against a huge amount of noise for website traffic. On top of that, you want to make sure you are generating the right website traffic.

Let’s step back for a minute and think about how people actually search the web. Unless they are typing in a specific company or product, a search typically starts with a question.

So, do me a favor. Google this: How to hire better employees?

What are your results? Scroll past the ads, and you see content in the form of articles and blog posts. In fact, even the organizations that want to sell you hiring services have served up the answer to your question in the form of content from their blog. Your prospects are looking for information to help them solve a problem. A good headline and teaser text will turn prospects that are searching into prospects that click.

#2 – You Will Convert More Prospects

In this Age of Acceleration, a term coined by author Thomas Friedman, the power of individuals has been amplified by the internet. Information is readily available at your prospects fingertips. All of your prospects carry around little internet boxes that give them instant answers to their questions, and more importantly, they are using that power. Prospects are more capable than ever to research products and services on their own prior to purchasing. In fact, 47% of buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep. (Source) Bottom line, you need to be there with the right content – content that solves a problem, answers a question, eases a pain point. This positions you to be the right resource for your customer’s needs, which turns prospects into leads.

#3 – You Will Think Smarter About Your Overall Business

The process of writing can help you think smarter about your own business. Creating content is all about generating ideas and answers, and you might learn a thing or two, or develop a few lighting strike ideas during the process. In addition to the writing process, tracking your content engagement also gives you insight into your target prospects and the information they want. Whether you outline content or draft a complete blog post, the thought process is a valuable tool for your business growth.

 

Three Must Haves For Your Convincing Advantages

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Keep it simple, different, and memorable.

Convincing advantages will help you stand out and position you to win.

Note:  I recently wrote about messaging vs. convincing advantages (read it here) and launching your competitive advantages (read it here).

Here are three must haves for your convincing advantages.

  • Simple – must be easy to remember – easy to connect to real and relevant value.
  • Differentiate – what’s unique to you must be crisp and clear to your prospects.
  • Memorable – craft so they don’t forget – memorable advantages transform “outsiders and strangers” into engaged and effective “insiders” – aka people who buy you.

This simple and powerful transition will have you cutting through commoditization, confusion and no decision in no time!

Kill Messaging. Launch Your Convincing Advantages.

brain pathways image

Messaging doesn’t work any more in sales situations (read the earlier blog post here.) The Convincing Advantages approach works much better.

With tens of thousands of competing messages hitting your prospects on a daily basis, it’s important that your communication is clear, convincing and focused solely on how you solve your prospect’s pain. (Because that’s ALL they’re interested in.) You’re not just trying to “out-message” your direct competitors, you’re also wanting to drive your prospects’ prioritization of you up – by shutting down the distracting noise from other, unrelated solutions.

When does your messaging need an overhaul?

  • If you’re finding your prospects are too often choosing not to make any buying decision – aka “no decision”.
  • If you’ve recently lost business you should have won.
  • If you can’t get in front of the right people in your prospect organizations.

Next, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Can each salesperson quickly identify the three true convincing advantages offered by your organization?
  2. Do you get the same three reasons consistently across the board?
  3. Better yet, can your prospects and customers restate these same three advantages?

If you answer “no” to any of these questions, then it’s time to get to work. Now.

Messaging Vs. Convincing Advantages

light bulb idea web
There are too many instances of “messaging” hitting your prospects. Consider using the
convincing advantages approach to stand out from the crowd.

As you’re out competing to keep existing customers and gain new ones, the importance of messaging becomes evident very quickly. It’s purpose is to drive a clear and differentiating buying advantage for you and your team. To that end, I’m asking you to reconsider the whole concept and – specifically – rethink “messaging”. The move you need to make is to transform messaging into your “convincing advantages”.

With tens of thousands of competing messages hitting your prospects on a daily basis, it’s important that your communication is clear, convincing and focused solely on how you solve your prospect’s pain. (Because that’s ALL they’re interested in.) You’re not just trying to “out-message” your direct competitors, you’re also wanting to drive your prospects’ prioritization of you up – by shutting down the distracting noise from other, unrelated solutions.

It’s your choice. A messaging output that is forgettable – OR a convincing advantages strategy that stands out and positions you to win.