The Impact of Technology on Marketing and How Brands Can Use Technology in Marketing

The virtual realm ranges from the daily humdrum to some of the most astonishing and complex utilities that have changed the way we live our lives. Today, each one of us have become a creator and designer, which was not very appreciated a decade ago. In 2008, Nike got recognized as the World’s Most Innovative Company, all credit going to Nike iD, which helped the customers to imprint personalized designs onto Nike sneakers. We are living in the age of technology and creativity, where latest and easy to use tech tools accessible on our phones through apps are available. You talk of any sector or industry, technology has not only enabled, but also encouraged a unique customer experience.

Let’s see some examples:

Real Estate: Real Estate professionals are leveraging VR to allow home buyers to visualize, interact with, design and experience their homes in immersive 3D. You can now design your interiors even before the house is constructed. You can now view every corner of your house and see what it looks like in real life, rather than relying solely on 2D models and other people’s advice. To the builders, it helps them is giving confidence to the customer in terms of designing, purchasing decisions and above all saves a lot of time.

Retailers’: Technology has changed the way people explore a store. Now if you want to buy furniture or even a car, you can make your selection sitting on your couch. The pricing and other relevant details are made available just in few clicks and your order gets placed. Also so many technologies, including VR have come up where the customers can take part in an experience where they can design their wardrobes, kitchens, bathrooms, etc. and even share it ahead with their friends through various social media channels.

Advertising: Advertising houses are making big time use of VR and related technologies and are designing their campaigns in context of the brand culture. Mountain Dew for example, created content and videos using Samsung’s Gear VR. Industry players and experts believe that if there is anything that is going to inspire mass consumer adoption, it will be Virtual Reality. It has also been observed that commercials with an interactive experience holds on the visitors for a longer time, in comparison to others!

Entertainment: You can now enjoy the music of your favourite artist anytime and anywhere. Music companies, specially are already exploring the role the technology can play in live music experiences.

Health care: With a 3-D model, doctors can now explore a 360-degree view of the patient’s body or a particular part before the surgery and thus spot and work on some critical issues that need to be addressed. Moreover, it also helps patients get a better sense of what will occur during the procedure, which can help put them at ease.

Travel: A lot of airways have found a new way of entertaining the customers while waiting for their flight. Airports now have public VR kiosks, where they can virtually visit a place even before they board. Experts have shared these experiences are not only a wonderful source of in-flight entertainment, but also drives the customers’ attention towards things like services, etc.

Thus technology is helping the brands to create a unique and memorable experience. While every sector and industry is becoming competitive; creation of a viral and immersive customer experience is something that the marketers will have to think of. Being ‘tech forward’ has a lot of importance these days, but at the same time, not many brands and agencies are well-versed with it. So think smartly about how will you use technology to create an engaging and memorable experience for your customers!

The Benefits of Non-Profit Branding

To the uninitiated, branding is synonymous to the image of a logo. Yet, branding is much more than a logo. What then, is branding? “Branding is endowing products and services with the power of a brand” (Kotler & Keller, 2015). One can clearly tell from this definition that branding is much more than a logo, a website or a brochure.

In times past, non-profits adopted the concept of branding mainly for fundraising purposes. Today, branding has evolved beyond fundraising purposes and offers the following benefits:

1). Builds Trust

An effective branding strategy that communicates the impact of a non-profits work engenders trust. By sharing its’ activities and progress, people become aware of the role the non-profit plays in its’ community. With the trust earned, a non-profit can easily garner support for its’ causes.

2). Advocacy / Expanded Support Base

Once people become aware of a non-profits’ work, it becomes easier for them to connect with its’ brand. Consequently, they not only become loyal adherents of the non-profit but they also become its’ advocates. This can serve the non-profit in many ways. For instance, success stories shared on a non-profit’s social media page can be re-posted by loyal adherents and shared with their friends. Such activities have the power of expanding a non-profit’s support base since a wider audience is reached through the act of sharing.

3). Increased Funding Opportunities

A strong brand improves the rate of success of a non-profits’ funding endeavors. By creating a positive brand image, it becomes easier to engage favorably with funders and stakeholders alike.

4). Facilitates Partnership Formation

A strong brand makes it easier for a non-profit to forge meaningful partnerships. The ability to collaborate with other organizations enhances a non-profits ability to implement projects that have a wider reach/scope. This in turn creates a favorable perception for the non-profit and influences its’ fund-raising potential.

5). Reflects a Non-Profit’s Identity

According to Nathalie Kylander & Christopher Stone (Spring 2012 Blogpost), a ” brand embodies the identity of the organization, encapsulating its mission, values, and distinctive activities”. In essence, a thoughtfully planned and executed brand image will convey the ideals of a non-profit to its’ constituents and the general public in an effective manner. It will aid in reflecting the unique value proposition of a non-profit while differentiating it from other entities.

Thus, its’ constituents and the general public will be in a position to familiarize themselves with the vision of the non-profit while keeping track of its’ achievements. As a result, the process of nurturing relationships with supporters(such as volunteers) and sympathizers to its’ cause while entrenching its’ position will be greatly improved.

It is essential for a non-profit to develop a compelling and consistent brand since it engenders trust among its’ audience, expands its’ support base, increases its’ funding opportunities, facilitates its’ ability to forge partnerships and reflects its identity.

References:

Kotler & Keller: Marketing Management (2015), American Marketing Association (AMA)

Nathalie Kylander & Christopher Stone (Spring 2012). The Role of Brand in the Non – Profit Sector[Blogpost]. Retrieved from https://ssir.org/articles/entry/the_role_of_brand_in_the_nonprofit_sector#bio-footer

Some Things Your Car Insurance Company Won’t Tell You

1. How to determine the value of “total loss.”

Most companies will tell you that they use at least three methods or schemes to determine the actual a totaled vehicle’s value including value books, computer-generated quotes from dealers, and local market research. In this case, you will probably think that local area is your current neighborhood, but it is not specifically defined by the insurer. If, in any case, the company cannot find an auto replacement in your neighborhood, so they have to find it not from your “local area,” your totaled car’s value is certainly affected. For example, if you currently live in New York, replacing your totaled vehicle in suburbs will be cheaper than in the city. Insurance company will, of course, use quotes from suburbs area as the most-reasonably-priced estimates. The main purpose in totaling a vehicle is to allow the consumer (the insured person) to purchase the same car that is totaled in an accident within the local market. Since they use three different schemes to figure out real value of a totaled car, a consumer may end up with a cheaper car than the totaled one. It is impossible to be sure what value you will get when your company does not tell you how they determine it.

Fortunately, you can do some smart methods to help yourself and your company to do the value determination. First, you have to produce valid proof that your car was in good conditions when the accident occurred; car in good condition has better value than a wreck. Bring a copy of maintenance records including oil changes and inspection by an authorized mechanic. The records will tell your company that your auto was regularly maintained, meaning it was actually in great shape (in terms of appearance and performance) when the accident occurred. Moreover, you probably had special features installed such as multimedia system, anti-theft system, anti-lock brakes, rear view camera, or 5-harness seat belt. The car insurance company may charge you more because of some special upgrades, so make sure that your insurer includes that in the evaluation.

Another good thing is to find at least three dealers and get quotes on replacement from them; make sure all dealers in your local area or at least within short driving distance from your home. Present the quotes to your insurer and ask your insurer to provide a list of some car dealers who probably can provide a car for the price listed in the quotes. If you are not satisfied with the company’s value determination or you get less than you expect, you can choose to do mediation. So, meaning you present the case to third party (neutral) to get help to settle the dispute, or arbitration, or you can even request a formal inquiry to the court.

2. If you want to cancel your policy, do it officially

Most companies say that consumers can cancel their policies at any date, but you need to notify the insurer concerning the exact date you want to end the coverage. The statement is clear enough; in other words, it says consumers have to notify their companies when they want to cancel their policies. However, consumers often think that when they ignore the last bill before renewal, the company will automatically end the policy. Too bad, this is not how it is done. People can forget and deliberately miss a bill, and the company totally understands that. After this first missed bill, your insurer is going to send you one more bill for premium payment; if you don’t pay the bill, you will be cancelled for non-payment, and the record will hurt your credit score.

What you should do when you want to cancel auto insurance policy is to let the company know that you are canceling. Please make sure that you provide a specific date; it helps you avoid being totally uninsured for a certain period, time, term. The cancellation request will be sent to you, and all you have to do is to put your signature. It is recommended that you carefully check the document before signing it. Some companies may require you to provide valid proof that you indeed have another coverage before they can approve the cancellation. If you’ve financed your car, the dealer needs the updated policy information because valid proof of insurance is required in the purchase contracts.

Credit history still matters

The use of credit information to determine approval and premium rate is still common, despite the fact that some states already started to ban such practice. Some (if not most) companies use the credit history to generate risk score. They believe that it strongly linked or correlated to the likelihood of the consumer reporting a claim. More likelihood of filing a claim is exactly the same with high-risk driver that usually also pays more expensive premium fee compared to “safe-driver” or “the preferred class.” The preferred consumers are those with stable credit card history as it suggests financial stability, meaning they are not likely to miss a payment. People of this category are safer consumers to insure compared to people with shaky credit history. Auto insurance companies do not like consumer who pays sporadically or changes accounts quite frequently.

There are some credit card issuers who offer free credit score checking, but in most cases, you need to pay for the service. Unlike credit score, risk score for insurance-related matters will not be available for you, but both probably indicate the same thing which is financial stability. If you are currently in the market to purchase auto insurance, and it turns out that you have quite unusual activity on your credit history within only certain time frame, you can wait until one month to allow the credit activity to go back to its usual condition. If you cannot keep the credit score stable, prepare yourself to pay more expensive premium fee.

3. Budgeting by installments is not always efficient.

Installments can pay almost all items, and consumers think that it is indeed the best way to budget the expense. When it comes to auto insurance, you can ask the company to divide the annual premium into a monthly basis, quarterly, or on six month. Please put in mind that dividing the annual premium will cost you “fractional premium.” You can consider this additional service fee to arrange the installment. It can be as cheap as $10 per payment; the more you break it down, the most fractional premium to pay.

Most companies will probably offer you to pay in installments since it makes more money for them. When you apply for insurance, it is wise to ask whether there is any additional charge for installments option, and then you can compare the difference. If the fractional premium is not very expensive, then perhaps it is worth it. Another big difference between upfront payment and installments is that certain companies will immediately cancel your coverage if you miss one payment; even worse, they can do it without notification. It is best to pay up front if you can; the entire process will be easier, and you can indeed save few dollars.

Every vehicle model and type has certain premium rate

Of course, you all know that sport cars need more expensive insurance policies than a van, but insurance companies will not tell you the exact numbers. In general, it is true that attractive, sporty, luxurious car with turbocharged engine will go very quickly on the road, and it increases the risk of accidents, but this is not always true considering the discounts for safety features, security features, mileage (especially when you drive it less), etc. Auto insurance companies have a specific system to know the premium for all car models you can buy, based on the system rating by ISO (Insurance Service Office). Every type of car is rated from 3 to 27; higher number means a higher premium. Insurance Service Office says that it will not release the rating system for publication because its clients are insurance companies.

You will not get the rating system from your insurer; you may not even find it anywhere at all. The best thing you can do when you want to purchase a new auto is to ask the insurance how much insurance premium you need to pay for a new car that you want to purchase. If you keep a good relationship with an independent agent, he/she should be able at least to predict the price based on raw calculation.

4. Filing claim increases your premium.

People are always interested to see insurance companies reduce premium fee to attract potential customers. It is indeed one of the best things customers get from the competition in the market, but your insurer can increase the price right away after you file your first claim. The industry standard is to increase premium fee up to 40% of the base rate after first-at-fault accident. With the help of an online car insurance calculator you get a base rate of $500, your premium increases by $200. Some companies have different rules, but there is always a big chance your premium will go up after the first-at-fault claim. Some insurers offer “first-accident forgiveness,” meaning your first actual claim will not affect the premium at all, but the variable and requirement for eligibility can be different from company to company. You should ask your insurer if such discount is available and how to qualify for it.

Teenage Weight Loss – How Teenagers Can Safely Lose Weight

Teenagers with body mass measures between 25 and 30 require immediate medical attention. The internal stress caused from so much weight almost guarantees the premature development of medical problems such as diabetes, heart disease, cancers, and stroke.

There's no question that aggressive weight loss methods are necessary and these teenagers need to be followed by medical experts for years to come. But what about teenagers with body mass measures just below 25? Is it safe for this group of overweight and mildly obese teenagers to lose weight?

The verdict is still out – the weight loss community continues to wait for more evidence supporting aggressive weight loss methods for overweight teens. I say while we wait, let's lose some weight.

But we do not need to be so aggressive with this group. Overweight teens need to lose weight, but in a slow, gradual process. Lasting weight loss and the development of positive habits should replace the push for immediate weight loss in adolescents with body mass measures between 22 and 25.

The there's the teenager wanting to lose weight for purely cosmetic reasons. How do we approach this fragile situation as parents and professionals? We can not just say no to her for fear she might turn to unhealthy means to lose weight. But we can not just give him a green light and say go for it, either.

The rest of this article focuses on the cosmetic teenage weight loss dilemma. The best thing I can do is at least provide some ground rules for teenagers with body mass indices less than 22 who insist on losing weight.

Cosmetic Teenage Weight Loss – The Ground Rules

Here's a simple, straight forward list of ground rules for teenagers wanting to lose weight for cosmetic reasons:

  1. Losing weight with a body mass index less than 19 is not recommended and might even be harmful. Things like eating disorders, endocrine abnormalities, stunted growth, and anorexia are all well documented consequences from unnecessary teenage weight loss.
  2. Teenagers with body mass measures between 20 and 22, can lose 5 to 10 pounds in a safe and effective manner.
  3. The primary mechanism for teenage weight loss is always the "burning" of excess calories through increased physical activity. A combination of aerobic exercises and resistance training works fast and produces the best results.
  4. Teenage weight loss by restricting calories should be kept to a minimum. A slow, gradual, and controlled restriction of calories is key. I recommend starting with a 5% reduction of calories from baseline for two weeks. This is followed by a 10% reduction for one week and then a 15% reduction (if necessary) for one week.
  5. Dedication to a consistent exercise program typically produces the weight loss desired without any changes to the caloric intake. A more natural way to reduce calories comes from eating a more balanced and nutritious diet, including more servings of fruits and vegetables.
  6. Emphasizing consistent exercise and a nutritious diet is often all that is needed for a teenager to drop some weight, firm and tone muscle, and achieve her "cosmetic" goals.

For the actual steps to safe and effective teenage weight loss, additional information on resistance training, and guidelines for restricting calories, use this link …

Teenage Weight Loss Plan

To Healthy Living!

Michael A. Smith, MD

Chief Medical Consultant

Diet Basics Website