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Archive for the ‘new launches’ Category

These beauties are mine, and I can thank the power of brand influence, technology on the go, and my complete inability to pass by the Kate Spade store on Newbury Street and not go in. I first saw this pair of must-have patent leather, pointy-toed, Mary Jane-inspired, rubber-soled flats on their Instagram feed.

If you’re not familiar with the program, Instagram is a mobile app for the iPhone that allows you to snap an image, apply one of a handful (maybe 15 filters), and share with a tagged location and comment via Facebook, Twitter, or email. The photo is also saved on your phone. Users who opt to follow you (Twitter style, no accepting necessary) see your photos in a news feed stream and can like and comment on them. The service has come under some scrutiny for its liberal terms of service (read: others can use your images royalty free and without notice to you), but I still snap shots of Woofie on the go without fear of the loss of my intellectual property. When I see brands such as Kate Spade, the Boston Celtics, and  Starbucks hopping on the bandwagon, though, I’m not too worried– and I love seeing brands share their products and industry events with followers through images.

So, back to the shoes. Scrolling through my feed and wiping the drool away from my lips as I passed Chobani and Chow, I meet the Elena flat. You can’t even find it on their website yet, but I was prompted to search because, voila!, here was a product I could really use, and I wanted to find the absurd price. I liked them enough to comment on the Instagram shot. (PS, comments, likes, and new followers are pushed to your phone, but I don’t think anybody’s got a solution that syncs these updates with other network activity a la Echofon.) Uh oh. Once you engage in conversation with a brand over an item, you’re done. You will end up with it– just ask everyone I discuss the merits of a burger and frappe with over on the UBurger twitter feed.

By a destined twist of fate, I walked down Newbury Street today and passed the store. I wondered if they had The Shoes. We crossed the street and went in. They had The Shoes. The Shoes cost a cool $198, a bit more than I’d want to spend for footwear that I intend to wear into the fall, but a bit less than I’ve spent at the same store for some slingbacks I couldn’t live without. The sales girl sealed the deal, recounting to me that she has a pair and loves them, that the rubber sole is durable, that they are a solid city shoe. I made the purchase and happily left the store.

This transaction started long before I set foot in the store, or approached an employee for my size to try on. One night, waiting for someone or something, I casually scrolled by this product. It was something I’d been seeking and wanted and was too damn lazy to commit to shopping for. Buying this product would solve a problem (namely, that I buy cheap black flats every 5 months or so when my old pair wears through), and this brand carries influence and is reputable in my eyes for being quality. The trendiness of their product as well as their marketing team, who is heavily active on Twitter and  Instagram, wins me over as well.

Of course, the attention at the store was appreciated, but I was sold from the second I saw that photo in my Instagram feed.

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As a business consultant constantly considering scaling and always re-evaluating roles, it’s been on my mind lately if our Local Social salespeople should stick to just sales. In my own experience, I look back to my first job out of college, in B2B market intelligence, where I was constantly frustrated that I had so many other talents and interests but was forced to stick to my 150+ cold calls per day. Then, I think about how happy I’ve been with start ups like CoupMe, where my focus shifted constantly and I was responsible for sales, but had other tasks on my plate too– and a good chunk of “sales” meant account management and client services, really. In the case of the former, I see how I benefited the company, but I left after 8 months from burning out and constantly exceeding my previous milestones in terms of sheer volume and engagement to challenge myself. So, net unsuccessful. In the latter, I see how I benefited the company by sharing a variety of skills, but at a time when the need was for sales, sales, sales, and the team wasn’t delivering, my full attention to selling could have made a significant difference. So, net unsuccessful again.

There’s a pretty clear dichotomy here; on the one hand, we have the argument that sales people should stick to a singular task. Sales is mentally taxing, and demands that an individual be focused on your business’ value adds, relevance in the industry, and economic need to keep selling itself to stay profitable (and keep a team employed). I’d say 95% of the sales people I’ve worked alongside are good at talking to people, gauging emotions and timing, and have the schedule flexibility to put their time in where it’s needed. Maybe they take that 20 minute bitch break at 3:30 pm, but they’re also picking up the phone at 8 to place that call back that a gatekeeper demanded. Those 95% are also not people I felt were better suited to complete other tasks. I wasn’t thinking, Bob’s such a witty writer; it’s too bad he can’t contribute copy or, I wish Susan managed vendor payments since she has a strong administrative background. Now, I’m a 20-something Bostonian who has shied away from super corporate environments, and I’m not going to say I can speak for everyone. But, in my experience, I’ve met very few sales people who I feel are wasting a different talent.

On the other, we have someone like myself. In the case of Local Social, we are two young professionals starting a brand without a budget and without the desire to expand so quickly that we haven’t developed a demand for our services before we build a team. Personally, I’ve backed off sales, because it’s not my strength(and I’m so concerned with hitting financial milestones that I’m not negotiating contracts well), and it is my bias that sales should be a completely separate responsibility. I’m happy to sell our brand in a different way; while I’m not picking up the phone and convincing local business owners to give us a try, I’m locking down clients through network referrals, and selling our services through the client work we do and the (hopefully) useful content posted to our blog.

So, sorry for another “all about me” post. We’re striving to be an industry resource, however, and points on how to delegate workload for an itsy-bitsy new venture are quite relevant. If I’ve given you any insight to take away and consider, then I’m meeting my milestones here. [Source]

Thought I’d devote this post to a sort of long-form #FF to highlight a couple of freshly launched brands that we’re keeping our eyes on. Each parallels a start up I’m familiar with, so I’ll be curious to watch them grow.

Gigwalk

First, for anyone looking to make a quick(?) buck, I stumbled upon Gigwalk in Craigslist’s marketing jobs section. Their application is exclusively for the iPhone and uses your location to offer up nearby “gigs,” which involve visiting local businesses, taking photos, and answering basic questions on hours of operation, wheelchair accessibility, etc. So far, I’ve only seen gigs that pay $5 for what is estimated to be about 20 minutes of work.

Sounds like: Yelp, anyone? Looks like they’re trying to build a network of local shops rich in general information. The job post also refers to “review[ing] local businesses” and implies greater payment may be offered for that kind of contribution.

Cool idea? Sure. But it seems one would need to patronize each establishment (or appear super sketchy!) to capture all information.

Suggestion? Push notifications to users when they’re close to or at specific spots that offer a gig. We tweeted this to them last week, and will accept royalties! (Just kidding.)

 

Level Up

Sweet! A product from super start up –I use this term referring to the major funding they’ve secured along with the support of Google– Scvngr that leverages the popularity of daily deals– with a fund raising component twist. The basic concept is this: buy a deal (a la Groupon, Buy with Me, CoupMe, KGB deals, you get it). Great. If you liked that spot(currently on offer are Boloco, Kickass Cupcakes, and the Middle East), you’ve just unlocked level 2, which is a more deeply discounted deal. Buy that, and you’re really rollin’ VIP and can buy yet an even better one.

With an iPhone app at launch(!), I’m stoked about the potential here. They’re currently in Boston and Philadelphia.

Sound like: Groupon? Sorta.  GoodTwo? Kinda. I like this fusion of the two models: The Level Up is robust, comes with an app, and has brand cred from parent company Scvngr. They’re less in your face about the fund raising aspect— it’s GoodTwo’s cornerstone, as they actually rely on those orgs to sell their deals— but it’s a nice tie-in.

The Level Up isn’t super clear about how the non-profit contribution piece works, but notes some portion of deal proceeds goes to the charity partner. Deals for Deeds maybe?

Suggestion: Will be interesting to follow these 3-tiered deals; I’m wondering how sustainable this model is and how far businesses will go with stellar deals. I see some kind of need for levels 2 and 3 to build on level 1 deals, rather than being unique vouchers.

Any other new launches worthy of a quick peek?