WHAT WE LEARNED THIS WEEK: Gen Y can’t recall brands – so stay consistent

New research this week from marketing company Lifelounge Group has found that only 15% of Australians aged between 16 and 30 could recall any type of brand from a variety of advertising.

That may be due to the scattered nature of media consumption – across tablets, smartphones, and so on – but the company suggests it may actually be because brands don’t maintain a consistent message across their different marketing channels.

This is actually something companies tend to forget. Your social media output needs to have the same type of branding and tone as the marketing on television, or on radio, or in print, and so on.

Using technology to target your audience

A few weeks ago, Australian tech entrepreneur Ruslan Kogan announced he would start charging people more if they accessed his company’s site using Internet Explorer 7, a piece of software developers hate working with due to its outdated features.

Now, a company in the United States is doing the same thing. Hotel booking site Orbitz is now showing Mac users different options, saying that Apple users actually tend to spend more money on average.

Neither of these methods is new. Businesses have been targeting specific user categories for years. But technology now allows you to drill down further.

Whether or not you like the methods these companies are using is irrelevant – did you know you can actually drill down into your demographics like they did?

Many businesses don’t. For instance, how many people access your site with an iPhone? Or with an Android tablet? How many access it using Safari, or Firefox?

You don’t even have to do anything with this data, but it’s important to have it. Look at the way Kogan and Orbitz have kept a keen eye on what technology shoppers are using – you should be doing the same. It’s not even expensive, so talk to your IT people about how to look up this type of data.

Local search is paramount

The ABS released some interesting statistics this week regarding internet usage – and there’s a lot for businesses to learn here.

For instance, they show that just over half of Australian businesses placed orders over the internet, up 9% from 2009-10, and that half or more of businesses in the wholesale trade and manufacturing industries received orders online, compared to 35% in retail.

But only a third of businesses with four employees or less actually have any type of web presence.

This is basic, fundamental business practice. You need to have a website. No ifs, buts, or excuses. If you don’t have a website, you aren’t fulfilling your potential.

Without a website, no one can find you. The more information you put online, the better off you’re going to be, and the more you’ll increase chances of higher sales.

As Google pointed out this week, having a website is more important than having a phone. Even if you’re just a local company, you can still tap into services such as Yelp.

Search is becoming increasingly local, with people browsing on the go – one in five searches are now localised. Make a website to respond and profit from that demand.

Enterprise social networking is worth a try

Microsoft put down $US1.2 billion for Yammer this week, an enterprise social network that’s only four years old. It’s the biggest acquisition Microsoft has made since it bought Skype for $US8 billion last year.

The announcement that Yammer will be placed in the Office division should be an indication Microsoft is serious about getting enterprises used to social networking – and your business should as well.

Yammer and other enterprise social networks are a good way of keeping track of what projects people are working on and what type of help they need.

This isn’t about Yammer, specifically. But you should at least be using some type of internal communications system. The rise of enterprise social networks only makes that easier.

Most are free, and you should at least try them out. After all, thousands of companies use them – including most of the Fortune 500 – so they’re working for someone. You might find your productivity begins to increase.

Watch out for ATO scams

It’s tax time again, and that means more scams are coming your way. Every year, people try to trick individuals and businesses into thinking they can get a bigger tax return if they just hit “reply” and hand over some personal information.

Don’t do it. These types of “phishing” emails are easy to spot, and you only have to use some common sense.

For instance, does the grammar appear to be correct? What about the contact details – do they match the contact details on the official ATO site? And look at the email the message was sent from – does it contain any errors?

And lastly, you should always avoid any email that asks for your credit card details. As the ATO itself said yesterday, it’ll never do such a thing.

Don’t put your money in the hands of a stranger – be extremely vigilant about replying to unsolicited emails.


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