Communication in business

With so many businesses focusing their attention to an online environment through their websites, have you stopped to take stock of how communication takes place in your business?

Traditional methods of communication such as phone and fax are becoming outnumbered by online communication options such as Skype, Instant Messenger programs and most certainly, email.

I was thinking about communication in business today when reading over a recent study done in the U.S. which found that 24% of adults in the U.S. had used the internet to make phone calls. This has grown immensely over the last few years and it got me thinking about how many of those people had thought about integrating internet communications into their service offerings for clients. Here at Brio Group, we make use of programs like Skype to keep in contact with clients who are in different cities to us and also with each other if we are working from different locations.

Other communication avenues to consider are social media, where more often than not, clients and customers will feel comfortable to engage with your business. These could be questions or concerns as well as positive and negative feedback. All of these comments and ideas from your target audience are excellent ways of communicating your message and having a well rounded customer service effort.

Many large corporations are embracing the internet and using it to their advantage when servicing customers and clients.

How does your business communicate?

Yours in great communication,

Brisbane Powerhouse opens new theatre production – Faustus

Faustus, a Bell Shakespeare and Queensland Theatre Company co-production, is set to bring theatrical drama to Brisbane Powerhouse from 30 May – 25 June.

Adapted and directed by Michael Gow, Faustus is based on the two great dramatic versions, Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus and Goethe’s Faust as well as myriad plays, novels, operas, movies and artworks inspired by the story of Doctor Faustus.

The Faustus story explores the idea of punishment through a character who seems to have no fear of it. Faustus is a brilliant man. Yet when he summons the evil Mephistophilis and sells his soul to the devil in exchange for power, love and riches, the limits of his mortal comprehension are exposed.

This new production will draw on music by Gounod, Berlioz, Liszt, Mahler and Schubert, and incorporate multimedia elements to cast new light on this diabolical tale. Audiences will find themselves examining their own moral compasses and determining where they point.

For more information, visit the Brisbane Powerhouse website.

Yours in Brisbane theatre,


[Photo by Ben Rollison]

Consumer reviews set to create valuable campaign content

Yes, I am one of those people who still like to read the newspaper. And it was through reading the newspaper that I learnt about this new website called We Like This.

We Like This is a website that allows you to review products and services and write your opinions about them. Through writing your review, you are given the opportunity to tell lots of people about your favourite products, good experiences, and not so good experiences.

Also, you will be reading the opinion of others so that you too can make informed choices about the products you are considering buying.

The products and services are listed by categories e.g Automotive, Clothing and Apparel, Computing, Food and Drink, etc. If the product or service you wish to review is not listed, you’re given the opportunity to suggest the new product and write a review for it. A new product page is then created by the We Like This team.

Your reviews may also be used across press, online and TV. This way, reviews influence even more people. A positive review of a product is very powerful in influencing others and customers’ review can make or break a brand.

When an advertiser’s products or services have been reviewed positively, they are offered the opportunity to licence these reviews into a We Like This formatted advertising campaign which might run across press, magazines, TV and the internet.

A certain criteria must be met before an advertiser is permitted to use the We Like This brand or any reviews in an advertising campaign. The product must have a total rating above 3.5 hearts to be deemed positive and must have received a minimum of 15 reviews.

Consumer opinions about products and services are more powerful than advertising in helping other people make decisions. I may even get to read all the good reviews by real people in the newspaper!

I like this. Do you?

Yours in advertising,

Report: How Australian consumers and businesses use social media

Social media is joining more and more Australian business’s marketing plans, a new report reveals. To date large companies have seen the benefits of engaging in social media, like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn, to develop a more direct and open relationship with their audience. Meanwhile, 14% of small business and 25% of medium businesses currently use social media, and according to figures an uptake in these markets is expected over the next year. This anticipated rise in social media for business use is indicative of business owners and marketers recognsing the benefits of social media and the significant amount of time consumers now spend online (about 5 hours a week on Facebook).

Facebook trumps other social networking sites:

The Sensis report, which explores how Australian consumers and businesses use social media, also revealed that Facebook is the number 1 choice for consumers and businesses. Facebook captures 97% of social networking users and 60% of all internet users.

What consumers want:

This report is a helpful tool for marketers to gain an insight into the consumer’s behaviour within the social sphere. Not surprisingly, when asked what consumers wanted from businesses and brands they followed, discounts was the most commonly sought after item. Giveaways, invitations to events and general product information were also sought by a sizeabe proportion of followers.

Below are some key takeaways from the report:

To access the report in full, click here.

Yours in social media for business,


Digital media budget? Let’s include YouTube marketing!

If you’re working on your marketing budget for 2011/12 and trying to decide the value of including more digital media, in particular, YouTube productions and channels to that budget – new figures just released from the video giant in celebration of its 6th birthday may be of interest.

YouTube announced that users from across the globe upload more than 48 hours of video every single day to the service. This is a reported 37% increase in video uploaded every minute in the past six months. These are phenomenal numbers and worth taking note for any marketing manager looking to move more to the digital space.

Over the past weekend, YouTube set a new record in user interest – over 3 billion video views in one day! This is a 50% increase in usage compared to last year.

Infographic courtesy of Photographer1773

A number of clients approach me here at Brio Group with questions about the value of using YouTube as a medium and assigning marketing budget towards it. My advice is if you can see where your product or service is transferable, not only to the web but to video, YouTube is a cost-effective way to spread the word about your company and your offerings.

I’d be happy to discuss in more detail with you, so feel free to get in touch with us if you would like to be a part of the YouTube explosion!

Yours in YouTube marketing,


Slash your advertising spend with Facebook ads and DSPs

When it comes to media planning and buying we all want to reach our target market with little or no wastage. Media is expensive – it often outweighs creative by 5 to 1 – and must be measured in terms of ROI (Return On Investment). While we’re seeing more accountability with MOVE (Measurement of Outdoor Visibility and Exposure) introduced early last year there’s still one media channel that wins hands down when it comes to measuring ROI – digital.

The two most exciting aspects of digital media buying for me has got to be Facebook Advertising and DSPs (Demand Side Platforms) allowing highly targeted advertising and minimising wastage. I’ll start with Facebook:

Facebook is seriously clever. Most people will know that when you fill out your profile – gender, age, location, relationship status and interests – you are providing Facebook with rich data that can be used to serve you targeted ads that suit your interests. Every time you ‘like’ a page you are also signalling to Facebook ‘hey I like this stuff’ and Facebook will allow advertisers to use this information and align you with brands that are suited to your taste.

Now despite what you’ve heard in the media Facebook is not actually handing over your personal data to advertisers and your security is NOT at risk – it’s just storing that data and allowing advertisers to set parameters for their ads. Seriously if you want to remain anonymous you can adjust your Facebook privacy settings or opt out of behavioral advertising here – but I’m yet to find someone who’d prefer to see ads that that they have no interest in, over ones that do.

Here’s some screen grabs showing you a few ways you can structure your Facebook Ad and target only those who might be interested in your brand (I particularly like what I call the ‘peer pressure’ ‘like tool which shows which of your friends like that page:

Now for DSPs:

Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) are changing the way online ads are bought and sold and has only just launched in Australia via Brandscreen. DSPs enable media buyers (and agencies) to bid and optimise across several exchanges in real time as well as manage the buy and creative placement of ads. As opposed to looking for an audience to deliver an ad to, DSP allows for people to be valued and targeted individually and anonymously and then be served a highly targeted ad. A bit like an online stock market for ads. Very exciting stuff!

Their website states: Brandscreen brings all the major exchanges within a single, self-serve buying platform, connecting you with Google DoubleClick AdX, Rubicon, AdMeld, Pubmatic, OpenX and ContextWeb. In Australia alone, Brandscreen is already seeing over 250 milion impressions available every day, covering over 2.3 million websites.

How are you measuring your advertising spend? It’s pretty complicated stuff so drop me a line at Brio Group if you’d like to talk more about getting more bang for your advertising buck.

Yours in behavioral advertising,

Johnny Cupcakes: a lesson in brand equity

Johnny Cupcakes is an inspiring fashion brand story. John Earl (aka Johnny) has managed to build amazing brand equity through a simple product offering. How so? Well, in essence by simply injecting his personality into every touchpoint of the brand and leveraging that through viral marketing techniques.

One of Johnny’s latest campaigns was his suitcase tour around the USA last year. On the tour he had a Cupcake Canon built that fired cupcakes at the faces of people at Kamp Grizzly. Check out some of the footage here.

Johnny also organises random events like his movie nights and recently a gigantic game of dodgeball at an indoor soccer field. What a fun and unique way to get to know your target audience while using social media to do the promotion and to capture the events. These events then become brand promotions online that continue to record comments and engage with the audience.

What I think Johnny does really well is to create an experience built around his brand. If you look at his stores they are so different. The Johnny Cupcakes stores have been designed to reflect the brand and Johnny’s personality as a prankster. Instead of traditional rolling racks, T-stands and four-way fixtures that are common in clothing stores, the Johnny Cupcakes shop looks like a bakery. Each of his five stores are different and feature things like a four-foot-tall dough mixer from the 1940s in the window and bakers’ racks and cases with stainless-steel trim.  T-shirts are folded and placed in traditional baked goods display cases.

To create the perfect atmosphere (and a bit of aroma marketing!), employees use vanilla-scented air fresheners throughout the store so it smells like a bakery. Plus, free cupcakes are handed out whenever a new T-shirt is released or a new collection is launched.

If you want to experience more of the Johnny Cupcake brand check out his website.

Yours in building brand equity,


Accessible food for thought

If not now, then when? If not me, then who?

These two interesting questions come from a TED Talk by Mick Ebeling, an entrepreneur who did something amazing and helped “unlock a locked-in artist”. He helped give a paralysed artist who had only the use of his eyes a way to express himself artistically again.

[TEDTALKS MickEbeling_2011A-320k.mp4]

It got me thinking about accessibility, designing and developing for an open and accessible web, and what designers and developers can do to improve user experience today.

While we design our public transport systems and our buildings to be as accessible as possible where ever possible, it’s not always something that always springs to someone’s mind when they ask to have a web page built. So I thought I’d share a couple of important tips and tools, plus some questions to ask yourself when having a website designed or built.

1) Would someone with a hearing or visual impairment be interested in what my website has to offer?

When your website is getting designed or built, it’s important to factor these people into your target audience. Your website or content could be a valuable source of information for this broad demographic and ensuring that it’s accessible could be advantageous to the community and to your business.

2) Have I ensured that my design is readable, logically structured and presented in a way that those with any disabilities or impairments can still enjoy an insightful and meaningful experience?

It may not be applicable in every design you produce but some small seemingly obvious points should be considered when producing a design for web. For example, the use of high contrast navigation for readability. This is important because screen readers read content in a linear fashion, meaning the structure of your content should be designed to flow logically. Sighted users are advantaged in that they can discern content from layout much easier.

3) Has the site been tested during and at the completion of its build to ensure that it has valid HTML, CSS and Web Accessibility tools such as Bobby or WAVE?

There are a multitude of tools to ensure that the sites you build are accessible, but even a simple HTML and CSS validation could dramatically improve the user experience and accessibility of your website.

These simple guidelines share some helpful basic tips. If you’re interested in accessible design and web, please contact Brio Group to discuss or implement web accessibility practices into your site, and help us move toward an accessible and enriched digital experience for everyone. Regardless of how much or little you know, you can help make changes for the better.

Yours in web accessibility standards,

World Press Photo hits Brisbane Powerhouse

World Press Photo of the Year winner 2010: Jodi Bieber, South Africa.

The world’s most prestigious photo-journalism annual exhibition, World Press Photo, is coming to Brisbane for its fourth year running. The amazing collection showcases some of the most beautiful, haunting, shocking, and very raw moments from across the globe as photographed by the more than 100 million entrants.

Earlier this year the winners were announced (read more at Brio Daily’s article: World Press Photo of the Year 2010), and now Brisbane is lucky to have the chance to get up close with the work.

The Brisbane Powerhouse is presenting the collection from June 4-26. For more information, visit the Powerhouse website.

Yours in Brisbane exhibitions,