Proposition, not product, builds your brand

Proposition literally means the act of offering or suggesting something to be considered, accepted, adopted, or done.

In marketing, your proposition is what makes your customers want to buy your products and services. In the main people buy on benefits, not features. When someone buys something, they’re really asking, what’s in it for me?

In other words, they want to know how the thing can help them, make their life easier and how they can benefit from it. Your product and services are there deliver the features your proposition promises.

Your proposition can be split into 2 categories:

  1. Value proposition – what are the quantifiable benefits your product or service offers to your customers.
  2. Unique selling proposition – what sets you apart in the market and differentiates you from your competitors.

Sitting above these is your brand promise - you could call it brand proposition to keep everything nice and tidy. This is what you stand for and the positive sentiment you want your customers to have.

A clear brand promise should resonate on a personal level. If you can generate a positive emotional response then your customers will keep on buying from you.

If you do not deliver on your propositional promises, your brand will suffer. Brand is, after all, what your customers think and say about you.

IE now less than 50% market share – how do you test?

With the news that IE now has less than 50% market share, it might be a good time to review how you test your site’s design and functionality.

Test in mutliple browsers

There’s no set method as all sites have different users who use different browsers and different operating systems. My simple rule of thunb is:

  • If a browser has more than 5% of your user base then fully test it and fix all errors; code and layout.
  • Between 1% and 5%, make sure it works properly but don’t fix minor quibbles.
  • Below 1%, make sure functionality works but don’t worry about layout issues.

Of course, using standards-compliant code will help, as most modern browsers support standards. So spending time agreeing the standards to use is well spent, in the long term.

Why I love news feeds (RSS)

Of all the “new” web technologies that’ve sprung up over the last few years, news feeds are by far my favourite.

They help me do my job, keep up with current affairs and stay up to date with my various hobbies and interests.

What are news feeds, you may ask

Sometimes called “web feeds“, news feeds are a way for sites to provide a list you can subscribe to, and then get automatic updates each time new content is added.

There are a number of different types, but the most popular are RSS (Really Simple Syndication) and Atom.

SOUNDS GREAT, How can I use them?

To subscribe to a feed you just need a “feed reader”. This can be an online tool or some software ou have on your machine – chances are you already have something you can use already.

Google offer 2 tools you can use; iGoogle and Google Reader. Both are free and you just need a Google account to set one up.

If you want software, PC users can use Outlook. Feedreader is a free piece of kit you can download as well. Most modern browsers will also allow you to subscribe to feeds too.

There are also loads of apps for smart-phone users as well.  I use Feeddler RSS on the iPhone and iPad. This has the advantage of using my Google Reader account to login and display the newsfeeds I’ve selected.

My preference is to use an online account, like Google Reader. This means I can access it from anywhere and only need to manage one set of feeds.

Most readers will also allow you to set up categories to help you sort and store your feeds, making it easy to find what you’re looking for.

How to subscribe

To subscribe to a feed, just look for the link. This is often flagged with the feed icon – to use, just click on the link and follow the instructions.

The BBC, Guardian and Telegraph all offer feeds. They are a good place to start:

Email footers – a simple promotional tool

How often do you step back and look at your marketing tool kit? Often the simple things get overlooked. Your corporate email footer is a great example of this.

How many emails does your company send out? How many of these are to customers who might be interested in your campaign?

Adding a short (i.e. a single sentence) paragraph with a strong call to action is very quick and simple way to use up the dead space at the bottom of your emails.

I’ll assume that you already have an agreed template for footers in your company. If not, start there. A footer should have all the basic contact info an individual needs, laid out in a non-obtrusive, brand-friendly way. This should be in the same format for all people in your organisation – of course legal, compliance and security will also want the usual warnings and caveats.

Your promotional message should sit below the sender’s contact details and above the blurb (no one ever reads it so won’t scroll down…).

That’s it. Simple. But…you want to track it so will need appropriate tagging added to the link – that makes it really long. So don’t forget to create a custom URL that encapsulates the URL and tracking tags into a single, short address.

Blog resuming- podcast, vodcast, holiday inn

I’m back in the saddle and will be resuming my blog. How do you like the new layout? WordPress and it’s themes are a wonderful thing – I can pretend that I designed this and am both pretty and clever.

The topics I’ll be covering in the near future are;

  • Brand – what it really means and how to measure sentiment
  • Tools and software – free and low cost options to help
  • Hardware – what’s out there and what you should spend your pennies on
  • Rich media – podcast, vodcast, holiday inn; ideas and solutions for creating immersive online presentations
  • MI – updates on what and how to measure.

I’m aiming to write a number of posts that I can pull together and stick into an eBook – if there are any topics you’d like me to cover, or you disagree with my views, please let me know!

IE 8 Beta Released

The public Beta for IE 8 is now available to download. Whilst on the surface it looks a whole lot like IE7, it promises a number of significant improvements in some key areas, particularly CSS (2.1 compliant) , AJAX and the DOM. Not to mention an interesting “developer tools”, um, tool-set that will help rapid prototyping (in no way cribbed from any Firefox plugins, of course), and versioning that will allow IE7 emulation and a quirks mode for IE5 rendering behaviour.

New features include an “activities menu”, which automates a lot of the cop/paste activity and “web slices”, which at first glance appears to be a cross between micro-formats and RSS.

Having used it for all of 10 minutes IE8 seems to be heading along the right lines, although the “+” signs in iGoogle feeds no longer work and IE8 mode crashes if you’ve got iGoogle and Google toolbar up and running (switch to IE7 emulator moder), so it’s back to IE7 emulator mode for me… (it would also seem to block the “preview” rendering in Live Writer).

Windows Live Writer

This is the first post I’ve written with the above. A desktop application that MS say makes it easy to publish rich content to your blog.

I have to say I’m pretty impressed. Once it was downloaded (following the annoying trend from Google of offering me a load of software I didn’t want) it was simple to install and get up and running. I just entered my blog URL, user id and password and I was up and running.

As it’s a full app, the interface is much richer than most of the WYSIWYG editors, with a very clean interface.

As a bonus, you can also write content when offline and synchronise we you next connect. Overall, I’d say it was a winner.

More at http://home.live.com/.

It as has a number of cool features that meet the holy grail of being both cool AND useful. One of them being the insertion of MS Virtual Earth maps. You can see my office below…

Map image

And another UMPC – part 4

Packard Bell have launched the Packard Bell EasyNote XS, the latest EEE imitator. It’s about the same size/weight as the ASUS but boasts a 30Gb hard drive and 1 Gb of ram, as well as a mouse track pad and buttons above the keyboard, eh?

On the plus side, the hard drive is big enough to store some music and movies, but on the downside, the cost is nearly £400.

It would be good to see a side-by-side comparison/review of these devices soon.

More at CNET and Packard Bell.

This UMPC thing is really taking off… part 3

And if all that’s not enough, ASUS have announced the ASUS Eee PC 900.  It will feature a 8.9″ screen, running at 1024 x 600 resolution. You’ll be able to store 12GB of data, and will have 1GB of ram to access in a package a bit larger than the Eee PC 701. The cost? $600 US to you.

This UMPC thing is really taking off… part 2

My last post reminded me of an article over at CNET recently about Elonex launching a £99 laptop aimed at students.

The British manufacturer unveiled the “One” laptop at The Education Show, in Birmingham. According to Elonex, the Linux-based laptop will boast a three-hour battery life, Wi-Fi, a flash-based hard drive, a “hard-wearing case” and a “wireless music server”, and will weigh less than 1Kg.

“The One removes the cost barrier that has prevented the one-laptop-per- person, large-scale uptake of computers in the education system that has for so long been just a pipe dream,” said Sam Goult, Elonex’s marketing manager, in a statement last week. “Investment in digital technology is paramount to help the next generation achieve their full potential.”

Elonex One website – you can now pre-order for a £10 deposit.

Yet more competition in the UMPC market, along with the OLPC (one laptop per child) initiative and Intel’s Classmate PC .

CNET Article