Brand collaboration: a universe for brands to explore

Partnerships between complementary brands – that is, brands that do not compete with each other but often address similar audiences – offer real possibilities for companies that are looking to expand both their reach and customer base. In addition, a successful brand collaboration allows a reduction of the marginal costs associated with the effort of reaching larger audiences: the good, if affordable, twice as good.

Companies of all sizes have embarked on collaboration projects with other brands. Some notable recent cases include Google with Nestle (which took place during the release of the KitKat version of Android) and the one with Nike and Apple (for tech-enhanced sportswear and gadgets). It is important to note the difference that exists between brand collaboration and strategic partnership. The latter is explained by reasons that are key to the basic functioning of a company – think supply chain stability in the case of Apple and the China-based manufacturer Foxconn. Brand collaboration, on the other hand, is a voluntary, friendly partnership between companies that pursue better experiences for their customers and mutual benefit, all at once.  

Additionally, brand collaboration gets better when small and medium-sized brands are involved. Big brands not only rely on bulkier budgets to develop their marketing strategies but also have to deal with more diverse audiences and higher levels of exposure, a mix that can easily snowball into taking unnecessary risks. In contrast, smaller brands usually talk to sort-of homogeneous audiences and often deal with limited branding resources, a scenario that means nothing but fertile soil for collaboration: there’s much more to be won than lost there.

We’ve found a little-known case to highlight the appeal of brand collaboration schemes: a joint project between the Peruvian fashion brand M.bö with Cumbres, a company that produces premium craft beer from Andean grains like quinoa. A question arises: why would a fashion brand partner with a beer maker?

To begin with, a bit of perspective: it’s not any fashion brand partnering any beer brand here. M.bö is hip and urban, a trait shared with specialty craft beers like Cumbres. Secondly, both brands are growing, a process that often demands high rates of investment. Third, they share audiences in similar markets. These elements set the perfect atmosphere for a successful collaboration.

For example, if Cumbres wants to draw M.bö’s customers attention at supermarkets, a stylish label for its bottles would be a great move. In the same manner, if M.bö wants to reach the same audience that Cumbres does at supermarkets, it can’t just place its clothing line there. A simple solution took place: they provided the stylish label for the beer bottles, and collaboration began. Both brands have been working together for a few months now, exploiting their strengths for mutual benefit and providing unique experiences, prominently through a series of fashion events. Guess who’s providing the drinks for the fashion events?

This is just a minor example of the possibilities that thoughtful, well-developed collaboration can do for brands. In order to achieve meaningful results, brand collaboration demands a strong strategy and a good amount of feasibility analysis, but it all starts with a question: which brand out there would do great with yours? Time to start connecting the dots.

4 questions to evaluate your brand’s online presence

Nowadays, every brand – big or small – needs a consistent online presence. An articulated, strategically planned, cost-effective presence is the ideal scenario, but not always the case. Reasons why a carefully developed online presence is necessary are multiple and fairly obvious:

  • Increasing the brand’s value
  • Boost revenue
  • Improve brand-audiences communication
  • Get valuable data from interactions

On the bright side, it’s good to notice that most brands make – or have made – significant efforts to build their online presences, though the results tend to be more diverse than successful. While there’s no common ground for evaluating pure success, we’ve made a small questionnaire to help shine a light on a brand’s online presence status – assuming they have one, of course. Here it goes:

  1. What do you know about your audiences? How did they start following you? Did you get them through paid campaigns or because of your awesomeness? Can you define your audiences using real data? Knowing who you’re dealing with makes things a lot easier for everyone, trust us.
  1. What are the interactions like? How do your audiences react to what you post? What percentage of your follower base interacts with your posts? Do they communicate with you? What are they saying? What are you saying? Reaping the benefits of great interactions requires both a strategy and an eye for detail to cover spontaneous situations. While the first can be defined beforehand, the second must be trained.
  1. Is there a strategy? Are you following a plan or just going where the wind blows? How is it working? What would you change?
  1. Is data driving your decisions? Information – in the form of hard data – should drive at least a portion of the things you do. A/B testing is a relatively inexpensive way to gather useful data about your online actions – from eyeballs to conversions, it shows what works and what doesn’t. Also, following up on the brand’s multiple actions – i.e. emailing campaigns, content uploads, responses – is a valid way to improve the quality of its online presence.

The questions above are useful to get an initial picture of the brand’s online presence. In addition, keeping track of related variables is a good habit and it will save both time and money in the future. Remember: asking the right questions is the first step towards the right path.

Why are hackathons important? Hint: it’s got little to do with software

What is a hackaton

Hackathons have become a welcome addition to the sometimes cold world of programming. In case you’re new to the term, a hackathon is a blend of the words ‘hack’ and ‘marathon’. Simply put, a hackathon is a competitive event in which different IT professionals form teams to develop a solution for a specific problem, usually lasting between a day and a week. While a handful of successful startups originated in hackathons, the true value of these events lies beyond product development.

Gems of the coding world

Hackathons offer many things besides the opportunity of creating the rare star-product in record time. Above everything else, hackathons are social events that bring people together: they provide a space for bonding and fun for a crowd that more often than not sees itself immersed into bleak, repetitive tasks. In hackathons, the pressure is auto-imposed, which tends to act as a motivational factor: for participants, there is no risk of failing beyond the limits set by the organizers, and while tight deadlines are part of the game, cut-throat environments are exceptional. There will be no angry bosses at the end of it, and there is no risk of getting fired or yelled at for participants.

On top of this, there are perks for companies: it wouldn’t be wrong to label hackathons as a recruiter’s paradise: having the chance to observe developers doing their best against the ticking clock is not something that happens every day. All things considered, hackathon organization should be present in every software company’s HR agenda: the events infuse motivation, help develop stronger multi-level staff bonds and serve to evaluate the pool of professionals for any given IT sub-area.  

Sponsoring a hackathon: yay or nay?

As every other corporate decision, sponsoring a hackathon must undergo careful consideration. Doing so because ‘it will make us look cool’ is not nearly a good enough reason to do it. A list of the most important questions before deciding to sponsor a hackathon includes:

  • Are there any direct connections between the company and the goal of the event?
  • Will the event benefit my company in any way, even if in an intangible one?
  • Is it economically viable?
  • Are there any hidden risks to consider?

And finally,

  • Which hackathon is right for my company?

As it happens, hackathons can vary a lot, ranging from small, low-key events to ultra-competitive, heavily prized ones. It’s shouldn’t be hard to pick the right one, but nevertheless, a bit of attention is required. On a more personal note, our favorite upcoming events are:

You can check out more options here, or else you can just ask us: we’d be happy to help you pick the best event to suit your needs. To conclude, have you ever attended a hackathon that’s worth the mention? We’d love to hear your experience about it!

The Essential App Series #3: Say Hello To Productivity With Trello

Productivity is a decisive factor in the production performance of businesses and organizations. But what does the term mean? In simple words, productivity is the effectiveness of the production effort, that is, how much output do you get from any given input. For example, if a company produces metal forks, productivity can be measured by how many metal sheets (or workers, or hours) it needs to produce a number forks in an economically sustainable way.

However, we live in the digital age now, and – among other things – this means that office jobs are far more common than manufacturing ones. In fact, one of the reasons why we call this era the ‘digital age’ is represented by the massive adoption of the computer, which is nothing but the ultimate contemporary productivity tool. In line with this thought, modern productivity tools often are programs and apps, which stand as the modern version of hammers and nails (and much more fun if you ask us).

You’ve probably realized this a long time ago, since ‘productivity apps’ has been quite a fashionable term for a couple of years; either way, it’s always good to see the whole picture prior to downloading (or worst, buying) any app that lightly makes such claim. Which leads us to the heart of this post: what is, all things considered, a great example of a productivity app?

Trello: taking project management to the next level

Founded in 2011, Trello has seen enormous success by offering a lean, useful product. Everyone who works in an office knows that email has its limitations and that those are easily reached. When it comes to working on a team project, getting (and answering) tons of messages tends to overcomplicate everything and delay the results. However, Trello was not created to replace email, but instead to take a heavy load of email’s back.  

So far, not only has Trello achieved this ambitious goal, but it has also become one of those indispensable apps. Parting from the concept of kanban – a Japanese method for organizing knowledge and information-related work – Trello features boards, which in turn feature lists, and these contain cards. In both its mobile and desktop versions, the simplicity of Trello has enabled an increase in productivity by driving projects faster and more efficiently than with other programs (including email). As it turns out, the organization and exchange of complicated information and archives in Trello is simple to the point of laugh.

Thanks to its organizing principle, Trello has literally made project management easier for millions; nowadays, the company has 10+ million users and has recently been acquired by PM giant Atlassian for the staggering amount of $425M. Not bad for a 5-year old company, ha?

In summary, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by email, give Trello a try. There is a great free version that will allow small teams to rapidly organize projects, and a stellar paid version that will facilitate the process of making bigger dreams come true. To start using Trello, go straight to the company’s website: you won’t be disappointed. And if by the app makes things easier for you, don’t hesitate to drop us a line: we’re always keen for a success story!

What is a lead? You’ve asked and we listened

Leads, leads, leads. Once reserved for sales teams in smoke-filled offices, the word has been let off the leash and now it can be heard in unsuspected places, emerging from the mouths of people with no track record of selling anything. Anyway, let’s cut to the chase: a lead is a potential customer showing interest in your company. But why is everyone suddenly talking about lead generation and the importance of leads? Well, those are different questions, but we’ll happily answer them both for you.

A story of time, money and noise

The world is very different today than it was two or three decades ago. There are more companies, products, and consumers than ever before in the history of mankind – and thanks to global shipping and the internet it’s all sort of connected now. As a result, the act of selling products and services has changed in a radical way: consumers are not necessarily who they were before, nor who we think they actually are. If you like puzzles, just look at the many digital footprints that all of us leave around the web!

In this context of extreme competitiveness and unprecedented levels of information noise, generating and managing leads towards closing sales requires almost surgical precision. And that is exactly what’s happening – tech has done a great job in providing the lead generation (and management) tools for companies. Examples abound: Facebook is amongst the best companies for lead generation, offering target personalization to impressive levels. In fact, targeting is changing too: nowadays, you can pretty much ‘invent’ the target audience based on your preferences and Facebook will connect your company to them. In short, lead generation is all about cutting through the noise to save time and money (and sell, of course).

Managing leads

Once the leads arrive, a lead management stage begins. This is important for a number of reasons: first of all, leads can be very different: some will fit the company’s priorities, and others simply won’t. Managing leads means classifying and tailoring answers for each group and individual in order to provide meaningful experiences and reach sales targets. Companies like Salesforce and Hubspot provide excellent tools that turn lead management into a simpler task. Business owners can always turn to their marketing advisors to manage their leads and develop a funnel towards closing sales. A good point of departure consists in developing a Sales Level Agreement (SLA), where the marketing and sales teams agree on common goals for managing leads and closing sales.

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Summarizing: Getting leads requires a combination of marketing, advertising, branding, production and analysis efforts within a clearly defined strategy. Once the prospects show interest, the management work begins, and it’s usually a fun one: dealing with people that are reaching out to your company, showing interest for a product or service is way better than, let’s say, cold calling. Effective lead management is closely related to customer support, while great lead generation requires experience, creativity, and analytical skills.

If you have any questions or would like to share your ideas and thoughts with us, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for a chat. We’re always eager to listen to new stories and work on challenges!

6 Types Of Video Marketing For Small Businesses

Many times before it has been said that the era of the homemade video was here. The first time this happened was in the mid-1960s, when the Super 8 film cameras made its appearance, inaugurating the first era of homemade videos. Nevertheless, Super 8 cameras proved inconvenient, and they didn’t actually allow the production of quality pieces.

Almost twenty years later, a new era of homemade video arrived, this time thanks to the Camcorder. The bulky piece of equipment became an instant hit: unlike the Super 8 cameras, the camcorder recorded directly on video cassette, which at the time became the standard video format for nearly everything. In parallel, the rise of cable TV propelled the use of the camcorder, and thousands of amateur shows went live thanks to this artifact. Still, film quality was still an issue, and editing required extra (and often expensive) equipment.

Despite the great leaps towards the so-called era of homemade video, we weren’t quite there yet: the real era of homemade video would have to wait for another two decades, until the late 2000s. It was there when three vital elements collided to produce a new reality for all things video: smartphones, social networks, and great editing software. Small businesses today can rely on these three elements to create astonishing marketing videos at scandalously low costs. To make things easier, we’ve compiled a list with the best types of marketing videos for small businesses:

  1. Explainer videos. Not only the best way to translate complex concepts into a simple message, but also a great branding tool. Explainer videos are similar to sales pitches, but instead of focusing on the ‘what we do,’ they’re focused on the ‘how we do it.’ These are perhaps the most challenging videos concerning production and require a well-trained sense of timing, pure aesthetics and a carefully crafted message.

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  1. Company intros. A handy type of video, particularly for social media use. Placed on
    top of a Facebook page it can save valuable time and do a tremendous job in introducing your company to new audiences.
  1. Interviews. These videos are ideal for individual cases. Of course, it all depends on who are you interviewing. Thought and industry leaders that use a company’s product or service make great interview videos; also, interviews can be helpful when placed within company intro videos to reinforce a message.
  1. Live webcasts. The only rule to follow here is a golden one: do not engage in live broadcasting unless there’s something absorbing to show. If that’s the case, don’t forget to build up matching expectations within your audiences.
  1. Demos and Screencasts. These videos are becoming the norm when it comes to improving the customer support side of a company. Tackling potential issues of a product in advance shows that your company cares about customers.
  1. Reels. Ideal for companies that offer a broad range of products and services. Highlighting all (or most of) the possibilities in 2 minutes is a great conversation starter when talking business.

To conclude, make sure you have the right editing software – affordable, yet professional. There are many options out there with different features, but you can always trust industry leaders that offer seamless editing experiences.  

The Essential App Series #2: The Absolute Best Writing App We’ve Ever Seen

Rarely an app becomes an instant hit, and such is the case for Grammarly. Launched in 2008 by Ukrainian innovators Max Lytvyn and Alex Shevchenko, Grammarly is an incredibly helpful app that has the mission of making you a better writer. Far behind are the days of Word autocorrect and its sketchy, often inscrutable functioning; in the internet era where full cross-platform integration is key, Grammarly has sorted this vital aspect out in an impressive manner.

Nevermind if you aren’t interested in becoming the next David Foster Wallace: Grammarly is for people that, simply put, hit the keyboard. From routine email to work reports and academic dissertations, every text you write will be improved with the use of this app. It certainly is one of the most ambitious products we’ve ever seen, and it wouldn’t even be worth a mention if it didn’t deliver as it actually does:

  1. The app is great, but the browser extension is vital. Grammarly is available as an app for Windows and MS Office, and as a free browser extension for Chrome, Safari and Firefox. The browser extension might as well be the best add-on you’ll get in a while, since it automatically syncs with Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Tumblr, and nearly every other platform that supports writing.
  1. Simplicity for enhanced learning. One of the best things about Grammarly lies within UX: the app goes unnoticed, until a mistake is made. Then, the app will highlight the error, providing word options to fix it. In addition, the app gives precise information about mistakes: for example, if you’ve confused a preposition, Grammarly will let you know about it. Encouraging the acquisition of knowledge instead of limiting the work to making corrections has been a very much needed iteration – until now.  
  1. Personalized feedback. Weekly reports with valuable stats come for free with Grammarly, and enhanced reports are included in the Premium plans. Keeping a close record of mistakes might sound like a shameful thing, but it’s actually very useful – the kind of feedback that reinforces constant improvement in a friendly way. 

If you haven’t tried Grammarly, we highly recommend it. According to the company,  76% of users find writing more enjoyable, 99% of students see improved writing grades, and 85% of users are now stronger writers. The numbers might look like an exaggeration, but rare as it might sound, we believe in them: thanks to Grammarly, we are stronger writers and find the act more enjoyable. Now it’s your turn to give it a try:

Grammarly Apps

Grammarly Online Editor

Company website
We promise, it’ll be a wonderful, seamless experience. Having an app like Grammarly will improve your daily communications in unexpected ways. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook to for more interesting stories and news!

Launching The Essential App Series

Today we are launching a new string of posts, called ‘The Essential App Series’.

The goal of The Essential App Series is to showcase apps by their flawless set of functionalities and their ability to deliver great user experiences. Thus, the displayed apps won’t necessarily be new as ‘recently listed on Product Hunt new’. To open the series (and prove our point in a proud-ish style) we’ll start with an app that has been around for 3 years now. If it weren’t for the impressive iterations that come out virtually every quarter, this app could easily be labeled as ‘old’. Yet, it feels incredibly new.

Essential Notebook App: Google Keep

Keep was launched in 2013 by Google, and despite being listed among 2013’s 50 best Android apps by Time magazine, it somehow managed to stay under the radar for a long time. To be fair, competing against a well-achieved product like Evernote (and a zillion built-in note taking apps) does not sound like an easy task. However, things started to change in 2015. That year, Google released Keep for iOS, and updates for both Android and iOS began to show a leaner product, with improved functionality and design. But let’s see why Google Keep is, above everything else, a keeper (pun intended):

  1. Nimbleness: Unlike other note taking apps, Keep is fast, and using it feels good. It excels at doing the most important thing for an app of this kind: taking notes in just a few seconds.
  1. Layout: a key aspect of Keep is the way notes are displayed on screen. You can choose the grid view or the list view, and that’s it. It also allows tags, an option for those who really care about organization. Furthermore, notes can easily be moved across the screen, rearranged and deleted without messing up what we have in front of our eyes.
  1. Integration. Being a Google product, Keep is fully integrated with Chrome and Android Wear, synchronizing inputs in real time across platforms. It also allow users to copy any note to Google Docs. Have an idea while you’re working on your desktop computer? Click on the Keep extension button, take the note and review it later on your phone – if you want to.
  1. No connection required. In a similar way to Google Docs, Keep allows you to take and save notes even if you’re not online. A useful feature in the neediest of times.
  2. Extra features. While not central to a note taking app – but very much welcome – Keep offers a reminder function. In addition, it’s able to grab text from images and allows comments on notes, a function that will instantly be cherished by those who use project management apps like Trello. Moreover, it displays website previews if you insert links on notes: forget about link-guessing or crypto-words for websites you’ve pasted on a note.
  1. Cost. There is no cost attached to Keep. No freemium models, no pay-walled functionalities. Completely free to use!

To conclude, one last aspect that shouldn’t be overlooked. As a Google product, Keep will likely have proper support from its parent company for years. The risks of having an ageing, non-updated product are close to zero – which is important for an app whose function is to keep thoughts and ideas alive. If you haven’t downloaded Keep yet, give it a try. You won’t be disappointed:

Keep for Android

Keep for iOS

Keep Chrome Extension

Next in this series, the absolute best writing app in the world. Follow us for updates!

 

In this era of stories, inbound marketing is king

 

It hardly is news that tech has marked a new era for storytelling. Stories are thriving, making themselves available in multiple formats for audiences measured in the billions. We, more than ever before, live in an era of stories.

Not long ago, stories were equally beloved by our ancestors. However, the processes of production and distribution were by rule far more expensive than now; as a result, the amount and diversity of stories were limited. Can you imagine how much did it cost to print tens of thousands of newspapers and physically distribute them across cities, states, and countries?

Nowadays, things are different: writing encompasses no paper at all, reaching audiences can be done by hitting the ‘enter’ key, and producing a multimedia feature requires nothing but a smartphone. By the time blogging became a thing – think the early 2000s – dozens of millions were publishing stories on a daily basis. Soon after, there were hundreds of millions and along came the inbound marketing explosion.

Generally speaking, inbound marketing is about creating content to generate awareness and, eventually, leads and customers. While most inbound marketing actions consist in the production of texts, there is no limit to what can be done. Infographics, video, slide presentations, art and beyond: everything can be tuned-up to fit an inbound marketing strategy when the main goal is to tell brand-related stories.

However, the production of text has two key advantages that make it an inbound marketing darling:

  • It’s SEO-friendly. A great way to improve a website’s visibility is to produce relevant content, which will impact on its ‘search value’.
  • It’s inexpensive. As long as you can rely on someone (ideally, a writer) to produce content, you’ll be fine. Publishing and distributing? Well, websites do that. For the most part, they’ve been created for that.

Notoriously, inbound marketing currently stands as an opportunity. Given that production, publication and distribution costs have dropped, developing stories has become an affordable endeavor. In addition, those who share our view of brands as stories in development will find that inbound marketing is a perfect fit for what a brand needs: a space and time to share its voice, its past, and future – the way it wants.

2017’s Q1: The Best Tech & Telecom Networking Events

 

Now that 2016 is water under the bridge, the time to set in motion one of our most important New Year’s resolutions has come: for this year, we’ve committed ourselves to make better choices. While it might appear as a simple, unambitious resolution, it’s not: above everything else, the act of making good choices requires solid options to choose from in the first place – and in turn, solid options demand precise planning.

Over the past couple of years, we had the chance to work with a number of interesting clients from both the tech and telecom sectors. These are dynamic, international companies that not only value performance and dedication, but also the ability to plan for the long-haul. Companies living perpetually with a foot in the present and the other in the future, expecting full understanding of the current situation and awareness for what’s coming next.

Under the light of our New Year’s resolution – and because we enjoy working with this kind of companies, we’ve put together a selection of this year’s best networking events for the telecom and tech sectors. Our hope for better choices extends to every person we know, company we work with and, in this case, readers as well. And by bringing together the great options, we’re taking the first step. Let’s take a look:

 

Telecom Networking Events Q1: Welcome To The World Stage

  1. PTC Hawaii: The Pacific Telecommunications Council Event boasts of acting as a ‘partnership enabler’ for companies and individuals with interest in the Asia-Pacific region. Date: January 14th – 18th. More information, here.   
  1. TelecoDays Mumbai: a must-go for those who wish get a closer look at the international stage. Main industry participants include voice carriers, solution vendors and data carriers. Date: February 6th – 7h. The promise of ‘connections, not business cards’ is a very tempting one.
  1. GCCM London: a signature event organized by Carrier Community, a global telecom club with strong presence in Europe. An ideal event for Senior Managers, Directors, VPs and C-level executives willing to network. Date: February 21st – 22nd. Interested? Check out this comprehensive guide to the event.
  1. Capacity Middle East & Capacity LATAM: heavyweight regional events for carriers and wholesale operators. March 7th – 9th in Dubai, March 28th – 29th in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
  1. AWC Miami: The Americas Wholesale Congress (AWC) is the meeting point for the Americas & Caribbean players. For those based in America it represents a short trip filled with opportunities. Date: March 21st – 22nd.

networking-q1

 

Tech Networking Events Q1: Where Magic Happens

  1. Mobile World Congress Barcelona: arguably the largest, most publicized event of the year – and a serious competitor for the ‘best international tech event’ title. MWC Barcelona gets better and better every year: it’s innovation and future trends at its best. Date: February 27th – March 2nd. All you need to know about it  – and there’s a lot to – here.  
  1. Niche events: OFS Los Angeles, BIO CEO & Investor Conference New York: OFC Los Angeles is the main event for those interested in the optical fiber market. BIO, on the other hand, is an exclusive event for investors, professionals and companies of the promising biotech sector.

 

Remember: better options, better choices. Soon we’ll be covering 2017 Q2 events. Stay tuned for updates!