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What is Moral Capitalism?

Particularly since the meltdown of the economy in 2008, there’s been a lot of new language introduced (or re-introduced) to the vernacular of business: corporate social responsibility, corporate citizenship, ecological consideration, oversight, etc. Moral capitalism is one of these nascent terms, one that serves as an umbrella identifying the various ways in which a company might try to ‘do good’.

It’s not a new concept. In 1923, British economist John Maynard Keynes said this:

“To convert the business man into the profiteer is to strike a blow at capitalism … The business man is only tolerable so long as his gains can be held to bear some relation to what, roughly and in some sense, his activities have contributed to society.”

While he was discussing the market turmoil in the years following the First World War, the words carry just as much wisdom now in the early days of the 21st century as they did in those of the 20th. In the wake of the housing crash, the public backlash against the financial sector rippled out through other industries. Before 2008, businesses might align themselves with the image of the big banks – too big to fail, with impenetrable façades as trusted, reliable institutions. In the wake of the crisis, the language changed. Many business shifted the emphasis to the ways in which they were different – they cared about you, about the world, they were ethical, they felt your pain and were working to make the world, however small a part of it, a better place. But how many of them were changing their messaging and little else? Continue reading

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Branding: A Challenge and an Opportunity at Every Level

Today, I want to look at the challenges facing businesses at a few different levels of awareness. What should they be aware of, and what should their brand goals be?
‘Household Name’ Brands

These brands are the ones that everyone knows, the ones that have become synonymous with their product or service offering. They are the juggernauts of branding, the ones that seem impossibly out of reach. With such strong brand identities, ingrained in the public consciousness such as they are, it wouldn’t be immediately apparent that they face their own challenges. But they certainly do, and there’s a reason that the biggest brands often spend the most on the ongoing upkeep and promotion of their personas.

Being so ubiquitous, they run the risk of becoming stagnant. So they must constantly evolve their brands – in part, through new product or service offerings, but mainly through a continued effort to present the brand in new ways – to new or existing audiences – still in keeping with their overall brand identity. They must keep giving their customers a reason to choose them, to maintain their market dominance, so the emotional connection must remain fresh. Continue reading

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The Rise of Part-Time Affiliates

You’re crazy if you think a traditional full-time job is the only, or the best, way to build a career anymore. Sounds scary, and polarizing, but that’s the essential message behind a piece by Seth Godin, published on his blog last year. He’s certainly not the only person pointing out the trend away from those permanent, full-time positions that marked business in prior years. It seems as though we’re witness to a new era – the rise of the contractor, the rise of the freelancer. Perhaps also, the rise of the affiliate. Certainly, the rise of the necessity to create additional revenue streams for our overall income. As wages stagnate, something needs to counterbalance the rising cost of living.

Look around you: see what is going on in your own home town or city. Traditional workers are under-employed, displaced, unemployed, and in some cases losing hope for their future prospects. The thought of going back to school, on the off-chance it will positively affect employment options, has its own pitfalls. High tuition fees, lost earnings while studying with no guarantee that things will be any better with some extra letters after your name.

Employers large and small continually rationalize their payroll costs, managing profit margins, sales, rising costs etc, while a challenging economy confronts them with lower business sales and uncertain return to shareholders. The independent entrepreneur mindset is often borne of necessity more than choice. Continue reading

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Digital Marketing in a Social World: Are you welcome here?

The big news in digital marketing right now is General Motors’ decision to stop their Facebook advertising efforts, citing the reason that they found the ads had no effect on car sales. That’s basically the most straightforward reason imaginable, and there’s not much need for interpretation. For GM, Facebook ads don’t work. While they might be one of the biggest, they’re not the first to realize their digital marketing dollars were being misspent – and they won’t be the last.

The response from digital marketers has by and large been that perhaps GM just didn’t ‘get’ social media marketing, or perhaps they just expecting too much or were measuring the wrong results. Perhaps they should have been more focused on how the ads were contributing to their overall social efforts, their community building and engagement. But the fact remains: their ads on FB had no effect on car sales, which is what they, as a business, need their ads to do.

In discussions about social media marketing versus traditional marketing, experts dismiss traditional methods as being ‘interuptive’ – they interrupt the focus of the consumer. The contention then is that social media marketing is a ‘pull’ method – consumers get information when they are open to it, when they want it. This, of course, ignores the reality that most users on a social platform have no desire to see what XYZ brand is doing on their own page, unless they’re already a devotee. There are certainly exceptions to the rule; social campaigns that go viral are the holy grail for marketers, but they’re pretty much that rare. Continue reading

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Will Daily Deals Kill Your Business?

Last week, I wrote about the questionable benefits of daily deals for consumers, and questioned whether the deals for goods and services outside a person’s normal purchasing behaviour were really worthwhile in the long run. But how does that playContinue Reading

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Social Entrepreneurialism in the Global Marketplace

There’s no question the digital world has fundamentally shifted how people, businesses and nations do business. Whether we like it or not, we are now all interconnected to each other in some way, shape or form.

It seems like only yesterday that the dot com craze inspired people on the possibilities of online marketing and business in a globalized world before fizzling away during its crash. Although the business fundamentals weren’t present in those models, they certainly started to shift the world into the digital age we know today. Continue reading

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Is it really a deal if you didn’t need or want it in the first place?

One of our major challenges as we enter the marketplace with Global Coupon is the other connotations that the word ‘coupon’ elicits, both historically and in the modern sense, where aggregators organize the deluge of daily deal offerings.

First, from the consumer’s perspective: Previously on this blog, we’ve mentioned the fact that we see the next generation of coupons as brand offers; targeted brand presences incorporating value and savings on mainstream products, services and professional services. Not necessarily as a piece of paper clipped from a flyer, or an email offering 75% off for that day’s deal. Where these examples come into conflict with our viewpoint is on the subject of value, and the one dimensional deal format aimed at despondent, often indifferent, and inundated untargeted consumers – how much value is there in products or services offered up for extreme discounts if you never would have paid for it in the first place? Surely price isn’t the only reason you’ve never gone parasailing, or purchased a raincoat for your dog, or had monthly deep conditioning done on your hair, or a paintball lesson, or the hundredth spa treatment that month. You probably didn’t need or want those things before the email arrived in your inbox, but since it was such a great deal… Continue reading

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The Growing Importance of Branding B2B

Business to business (B2B) brands have always seemed to inhabit a different world, with different rules, from the business to consumer (B2C) world. But among the most valuable global brands, companies that are primarily B2B are heavily represented – IBM, GE, Intel etc. These B2B brands have long recognized that their brand promise precedes them. They come into contract negotiations ahead of the game, as they have an established emotional resonance with the buyer – a concept traditionally associated with B2C brands.

It’s that concept of emotional relevance which has stunted B2B branding in a lot of ways. The argument being that B2B decision makers follow a rational buying process, based on factors like logic, price and relationships – completely discounting that even those B2B decision makers are human, too; humans who are evolutionarily inclined to resort to heuristics, to simplify decision making processes. Continue reading

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Beyond Likes and Retweets

On average, we are exposed to 600,000 units of information per day; more than five times the amount that we took in only 25 years ago. The average Facebook user visits 662 pages within the site every month! The old rule of thumb used to be that a person had to be exposed to a brand message nine times before they internalized it; in this new information age, the numbers and messaging get muddy. If it’s information overload, we need new ways for meaningful brand intent to get through to targeted audiences.

Online and social media marketing are ubiquitous in our lives. Budget dollars earmarked for online marketing are no longer optional. But it is the allocation that gets tricky – the industry itself is new enough that marketers go for the seemingly safe bets, the big players, in an effort to mitigate risk. But beyond the initial gratification of a ‘like’ or ‘retweet’, how do those dollars convert into actual sales revenue or translate into long-term return on investment? How can limited, temporary exposure on a social media platform provide long term brand presence and impact? Beyond ‘likes’ and ‘follows’, how do brands achieve resonance, loyalty, and sales growth long term? Beyond that, how negatively are businesses perceived by users, when they try to use the ‘social’ platform to drive sales?

Let’s take a quick look at the platforms that everyone ‘knows’ they should be present in, and what the numbers really start to look like: Continue reading

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Who, What, Where, When and Why is Global Coupon?

I’d like to propose a question, and I hope you’ll stick with me as I attempt to answer it for you. When is a coupon not a coupon?

When we reach the limitations our minds automatically place on our understanding of what a coupon is, we must go beyond the word to create a new understanding. I suppose that’s when it’s no longer a coupon as we know it.

As we best know them, coupons have been around in some shape or form since the 1880’s. They are something we all have at least a passing familiarity with, and we know that the word ‘coupon’ generally equates, somehow, with savings. That far at least, we’re on track.

Global Coupon, however, isn’t built along the same lines as your standard grocery circular or aggregator website. What we’re doing is taking that concept, of savings and of value, and infusing an entire business generation system with those basic and too-often overlooked principles. While the coupon itself is not particularly revolutionary, when the power of its association with branding and value is leveraged on the grand scale, I believe the potential is extraordinary.

So if a coupon isn’t necessarily always a coupon…what is Global Coupon? Continue reading