Roller Bearings in the USA

A brand new report detailing the intricacies of the roller bearings market in the United States has just been posted to TraDove Business Social Network. In this report, the author describes the market and its regional segmentation within the seven markets that make up the United States.

Advertisements

Can you own a Hashtag?

Can you own a Hashtag?

An intriguing new trend has been occurring in the business facet of social media. Hashtags (#), those strange little number signs people online have been putting in front of words for the last decade or so, are now being trademarked.

Made infamous by Twitter, and still the main way of sharing popular posts and subjects, hashtags have since spread to other social media platforms as a way of marking topics for others to easily find.  According to Daliah Saper at Business.com, “The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) defines a hashtag as a form of metadata comprised of a word or phrase prefixed with the symbol ‘#’.”

With the right promotion, these can catch on immensely and spread to millions of viewers within a very short period of time.  They have proven to be a formidable marketing tool and are often used in advertisements in addition to the seller’s normal contact information, such as an official website.  To both capitalize on this and secure their sole right to use a given hashtag, companies are now beginning to try registering them as they would other intellectual properties.

But can a single word preceded by a # really be taken as intellectual property?  Copyright and patent law says no, stating that they are neither inventions or ideas, and are too short in content.  However, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) disagrees, and allows individuals and businesses to register a hashtag as a trademark.

Of course there are conditions.  According to Business.com, the USPTO looks at 4 factors before granting a trademark:

•    “Context
•    “Placement of the hash symbol in the mark
•    “How the hashtag is being used
•    “Types of goods or services identified

“In short, hashtags must follow the same trademark rules as words and symbols—they must signify a specific source of goods or services.”

One key item Saper points out, which anyone with experience marketing on the Internet will recognize, it that online trends are short lived.  Combine this with the fact that a trademark registration can take around 6 months to complete, your exclusive ownership may be nearly useless by the time you legally acquire it.

Nonetheless, it is an interesting trend and one to be sure to follow as it continues to develop.

 

This article was written by Benjamin Williams and originally published on TraDove.com.

Will the Green Tuk-tuk Industry Sweep Asia?

Will the Green Tuk-tuk Industry Sweep Asia?

Pulling into a bus station in Laos, my bus was still moving at a minute speed.  A man pried open the side door and stuck his head through à la Jack Nicholson in The Shining.  “Tuk tuk?” he asked with enthusiasm for a fare.

Anyone who has spent time in nearly any Asian country is likely familiar with the auto rickshaw.  Known locally by many names (tuk-tuk, tricycle, etc.), they are a staple in many developing urban centers and the way of life for many people.  Often providing quick and cheap fares in cities with badly congested traffic, these smaller vehicles can push through where normal cars cannot.

Recently, people are recognizing a problem with them, though.  As one article puts it, “[t]hree-wheelers have not been properly regulated. On the roads they chug out black fumes and obnoxious levels of noise. Across Asia, populations are taking note.”

Many new regulations are being put into place regarding such vehicles.  In Delhi, only cleaner, natural-gas engines are allowed.  Indonesia has had the same rule for new imports since 2006.  In Bangkok, Thailand registration of new tuk-tuks is no longer allowed.

In other places, new policies are being made to usher in a newer generation of much cleaner auto rickshaws.  For instance, in Luang Prabang, Laos, authorities are pushing for an entire system of electric auto rickshaws, complete with a unique charging infrastructure.  A similar push was being made in the Philippines where “[t]he government in Manila has teamed up with the Asian Development Bank on a $500 million project to get 100,000 electric-powered three-wheelers driving.”

What does this mean for the manufacturers?  Well, it’s a potentially massive market and many are already starting to get a foothold.

In Luang Prabang, a Japanese company named Prozza is supplying the initial batch of 14 electric three-wheelers.  Meanwhile, Chinese manufacturer Haier is considering manufacturing such vehicles in Laos in part because of its low cost, abundant electricity resources.

Japan-based Terra Motors is already making a large dent in Bangladesh and hopes to sell 30,000 units by the end of 2015.  They have lessened the cost to consumers by using older rechargeable lead batteries instead of newer technology.  Terra Motors had also expressed interest in taking on Manilla’s push for 100,000 electric rickshaws, but stopped due to lack of action by local authorities.

One article states the companies taking on these initial manufacturing endeavors are not engaging in too much financial risk because of the “low cost of entering the business, compared with cars.  Three-wheelers are relatively simple to build, requiring no seat belts, doors or windows.  Nor do they require expensive crash tests, which helps reduce development and production costs.”

However, the same problems of all electric vehicles persist, namely range and charging time.  For example, the Prozza Pecolo tuk-tuk in Luang Prabang can travel about 40km, but takes several hours to charge.

To deal with this, a charging infrastructure is being introduced alongside Luang Prabang’s tuk-tuks.  When a battery is near depletion, the driver can go to one of the charging stations, switch out the battery for a fully charged one in a matter of minutes, and leave the other battery charging.

However, it seems that these budding markets are encouraging others around the world.  For instance, Kawasaki’s ElecTrike Japan is focusing on creating such electric vehicles domestically for the moment, but with plans to move into the South East Asian Market in the future.

Likewise the initial success of these vehicles has inspired French and German manufacturers Renault and Mercedes-Benz to begin producing 1-2 passenger ultraminis as well.  Although whether or not these will be three-wheelers is yet to be seen.

This article was written by Benjamin Williams and originally published on TraDove.com.

6 Video Marketing Trends to Watch in 2016

6 Video Marketing Trends to Watch in 2016

In the mad rush to predict social marketing trends of the upcoming year, one thing that most all commentators seem to agree on is that video is on its way in.  And it’s coming in a big way.

We’ve looked at some aspects of video in a marketing and social media here before, but the ideas and ways that it can be implemented seem to be getting more and more creative and innovative every day.  Here are six trends noted by Digital Marketer Steffan Pedersen for 2016:

“1. Lower production quality is ok.”

Brands are trying to replicate the amateur Instagram-style smartphone posts, and Pedersen points to Starbucks as one of the leaders in this visual approach.  It gets the point across in a low-key and relatable way instead of bashing us over the head with blatant commercialism.

“2. Be wary of video bloggers/influencers — they can fall down as quickly as they’ve risen.”

Typically there is a reason that vloggers gain a following, and this often involves one of two things: letting their personal life into their videos or their ever-increasing idiosyncrasies.  In using these approaches to represent your brand, it becomes easy to see how too much of either could be detrimental to both your blogger’s reputation and yourself and brand by extension.

“3. Social/mobile video is here to stay. Look out for 360 Degree, Virtual Reality coming quick!”

Quoting stats ranging from Snapchat to Virtual Reality, Pedersen points to not only the increasing reliance of users on mobile video, but also the blossoming technologies that it will soon spread into.  He particularly highlights 360 degree video and leaves it to the readers’ imaginations how this might be used in our marketing.

“4. Facebook video ads > TV ads: A long time coming?”

With more and more content creators publishing their material exclusively on Facebook, the opportunities for advertising is increasing dramatically.  More importantly, unlike traditional TV ads, says Pedersen, Facebook’s platform allows for very targeted advertising to the exact demographics your brand is looking for.

“5. Instagram: Building out big brand offerings: 30 second cinematic video ads leave a big impression”

Similar to Facebook encouraging content hosting, Instagram is allowing video adverts and even short-form cinematic entertainment content.  Utilizing this new medium, several brands have seen a significant ROI.  Pedersen points to Michael Kors as one of the best examples.

“6. Cord cutting connects brands more intimately with consumers. I’m a cord-cutter, so this was especially interesting for me:”

As fewer and fewer people are subscribing to cable television due to high costs and lack of options, the trend is catching on with hardwired broadband Internet as well.  Many households are now becoming exclusively users of mobile devices.  Along with this shift comes the opportunity for higher-tech advertisements that engage the consumer, using methods such as interactive and real-time call-to-action videos.

Considering the much higher ad completion statistics Pedersen cites, these alternative media source have the potential to develop into innovative outlets for those marketers creative enough to embrace their full potential.

How do you see video playing a role in 2016’s social marketing?  Is your company in position to utilize the medium?  Join the discussion and let us know!

 

This article was written by Benjamin Williams and originally published on TraDove.com.

The 3 C’s of customer satisfaction

It’s easy to find articles, white papers and books about hot, new business trends and ideas; people are intrigued by what’s said to be fresh thinking that may provide an edge (and writers want attention and sales).

As changes swirl around the world and affect buying and selling in ways good and bad, it’s ever more essential, McKinsey believes, to remember an essential, basic element of doing business: the need for consistency.

The point’s made clear from the title – The three Cs of customer satisfaction: Consistency, consistency, consistency – of a richly detailed paper published by the highly respected consulting firm.

Fair enough, the analytical review quickly notes, that different customers have vastly experiences with “everything from buying a product to actually using it, having issues with a product that require resolution, or simply making the decision to use a service or product for the first time.”

According to McKinsey, one of the world’s largest consulting firms, measuring overall satisfaction, what it calls customer journeys, is “30 percent more predictive of overall customer satisfaction than measuring happiness for each individual interaction.”

Of course, more satisfaction produces more revenue, and reduced expenses, according to the survey of 27,000 Americans and their interactions with 14 industries.

“Maximizing satisfaction with customer journeys has the potential not only to increase customer satisfaction by 20 percent but also to lift revenue by up to 15 percent while lowering the cost of serving customers by as much as 20 percent,” the article said.

Reminding customers of the consistently effective operations is important, as well, McKinsey believes.

“A company’s brand is driven by more than the combination of promises made and promises kept. What’s also critical is ensuring customers recognize the delivery of those promises, which requires proactively shaping communications and key messages that consistently highlight delivery.”

There’s a real need to make sure everything is in good order and ideally getting better, McKinsey says, because customers’ expectations have been getting higher.

“Our research indicates that since 2009, customers are valuing an “average” experience less and have even less patience for variability in delivery,” the report points out.

This article was written by Rob Hough and originally published on TraDove.com.

Kids today: selling to Generation Y

Kids today: selling to Generation Y

What does a 26-year-old in Shanghai have in common with 26-year-olds in California, London and beyond? Those in Generation Y, people born between the early 1980s and 2000, share interests, choices and experiences that transcend borders and cultures – and have vast effects on global trade.

With the internet, efficient shipping and manufacturing, and relentless marketing efforts, this generation has always had a huge range of purchasing choices, lots of information and internet access to share their thoughts.

This presents opportunities and challenges for buyers and sellers, and there are fresh ideas about how to succeed in this environment, much as it can seem random and hopelessly complex.

Look at something as quick and easy as getting a beverage at a corner store. Even the little markets offer several kinds of water, iced teas, energy drinks, juices, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages from several different countries. Of course all those brands have websites and social media outlets to reach and communicate with people.

Whether it’s an inexpensive item anyone can buy in a small store, a smartphone or a car, the number of choices creates ferocious competition for customers’ cash.

Walmart is advertising its delivery services via social media, complete with discount offers on “the freshest fruits and vegetables.”

While studies have found that too many choices and too much information can be frustrating for older people, a recent study sponsored by Credit Suisse found that people in Generation Y want lots of alternatives and details as they look for value – good quality for their money, whether it’s a cold drink, a cabbage or a computer.

In taking that approach, those in Generation Y are quick to try new things, which means there’s less loyalty to brands, products and activities.

At the same time, this makes it easier to attract new customers – if you provide good quality at an attractive price, along with helpful, honest information – via social media or otherwise.

As one young person who took the survey – conducted by the University of Stockholm – said, when people in Generation Y find things they like, they’re quick to get the word out and “do the companies’ advertising for them.”

This article was written by Rob Hough and originally published on Tradove.com.

Twitter Revamps are Good News for Marketers

Twitter Revamps are Good News for Marketers

Visual content provides the pretty packaging to the written content we use for marketing.  Some say that it’s arguably more important than the written content.  This holds true wherever you are posting your content online, whether on your own website or on social media platforms, such as Twitter

A while back, in a post introducing Instagram, we briefly touched on the photo sharing capabilities of varying social media sites.  One of my criticisms of Twitter was that, while it makes good use of a hashtag sharing method, it was not too friendly to visual content, often unnecessarily cropping photos.  It also did not offer many options for video or for editing photos, as both Facebook and Instagram do.

Since then, many of those criticisms had been addressed (not in response to me, I’m sure) through the addition of several new features to the Twitter App.

Most notable and obvious to the casual viewer is that pictures are no longer cropped.  Before, any landscape-style photo was skimmed down slightly on its top and bottom, while portrait photos were chopped into nearly unrecognizable fractions of their true form.  Beginning 7th December, this feature has stopped, showing any photo in their full dimensions.

 

An example of the old and new photo dimensions.
An example of the old and new photo dimensions.

Another change going hand-in-hand with the expanded photos feature is a new sort of gallery.  Before, when multiple photos were uploaded together, they would display in a tiled gallery of severely cropped thumbnails.  Due to space constraints, multiple-picture galleries are still cropped in the main feed; however, they are now presented in a more flattering aspect ratio.

The old vs new photo galleries.
The old vs new photo galleries.

 

In addition to the photo display features, Twitter is beginning to offer photo and video editing features.  While this catches them up to similar features that both Facebook and Instagram have offered for some time, these are only available on their mobile app.   Unlike on Instagram, which serves almost exclusively as a mobile platform, Twitter is just as functional on a desktop and many users might miss having these new features available on their computers.

So why is any of this big news for marketers?  As said earlier, visual content maybe be, at times, more important than written content.  As Twitter moves from its text-based origins into a much more visual-friendly medium, we are being given many more tools to customize our content and to get it seen in the way we intend.

Twitter is giving us the new tools.  How will we use them?

 

This article was written by Benjamin Williams and originally published on TraDove.com.