Monday, September 21, 2020

CSIT - 155 FA - Greg B - Week 4 Homework

For the first part of this assignment I chose to review the two Nurseries.

Armstrong Gardens - 

Armstrong Gardens is an upscale Nursery with over 31 locations vs. Rancho Vista Nursery which has just one location. They are well know and well established and highlight this fact on their website in bright red colors. 130 years in business. The website is both colorful and informative. I like how they display pictures of their flowers and their website layout is well thought out.

Armstrong caters to a wide a customer based. They have individual homeowners that are buying plants, shrubs, flowers, for their landscaping needs. This includes walk in customers and those that are shopping online and looking for more services.

So through their website Armstrong markets their products to homeowners through several methods:

The first is the Armstrong Advantage. Buy signing up for this paid service a customer receives exclusive discounts, pre sales notices, private classes, and the participant becomes part of a private membership group. This would be an example of a call to action by having customers join this service and with the perks create a revenue stream. The more members, the more sales.

Next, Armstrong targets the professional landscaper by offering special wholesale prices to landscapers and gardeners that are in the business of designing and maintaining both residential and commercial property. They attract this type of consumer by advertising a lifetime warranty. Thus, another example of call to action. To make things easier, the customer can order everything online and Armstrong will arrange the will call.

However, there best marketing program they offer on their website is the professional services.

Armstrong has gone beyond the norm of a plant nursery and figured out they can make way more money engaging in professional services to support their customers. This is how they distinguish themselves as a high end luxury horticulture business. They offer free consultations and will design, install, and perform contractor services. They will personally pick up the plants ( personal shopper ) and for a fee do all the work.

By providing this professional advice and services on their web site they have opened a larger target market and figured out how to use the 131 years of knowledge to make more profit.

Rancho Vista Nursery -

Rancho Vista Nursery takes a much different approach and has a much more narrower customer base.

This is a single nursery that specializes in succulents and cactus. I do like the appeal of their farmhouse type of website. Gives off a rustic feel and their message is specific and direct. They offer rare, exotic, succulents and are considered a specialty grower. So if the consumer is looking for this specific type of product then their website presents this in an easy format to follow.

Additionally, this nursery is specific in their customer base. They are primarily engaged in attracting resellers. So their customer base is primarily the contractors performing the work for the end user.

They have a new covid schedule which is under the what's new category. 

Rancho's target demographics are resellers and they advertise that they did the work for the succulent gardens at Disneyland.

I think there best call to action would be the pictures of the cactus and succulents on their website with verbiage that their plants are no only beautiful but drought tolerant. Emphasizing drought tolerant in bold indicates that they know their customers are facing drought like conditions and this is a great catch phrase to help sell their plants. Anyone with a yard can relate on how to save money on their water bill.

The psychographics that there succulent plants are great for the worlds most hostile environments is a good usage of attention getting buzzwords. I think they probably help them sell their products.

Visually, the web site is calming and has a nice rural evoking image. They do list both Facebook and Instagram as social media references.

They do grow year around which is helpful and offer free customers.

Overall, I thought this was a good website and definitely targets a specific buyer.

Part II

I am going to try and help my company expand their social media presence. Currently, I run business development but we really suck in this area and need help.

I work for a sole proprietor that owns Durable Superior USA.

We manufacture and distribute casters and wheels. These products are used on equipment in every facet of industry that you can imagine. From the office chair your sitting on to moving airplane parts. We offer a very diverse, and complete line of products. About 50% of the business is wholesale.

We are just under $60 million in sales and aiming to increase our gross sales to $100 million within the next 5 years. So we have great expectations and much of this is on my shoulders.

Business had been excellent with annual 12% growth until the Covid hit around March. Then things slowed down with some peaks and valleys since then. Things are starting to stabilize but its also an election year and this has added to a tremendous amount of uncertainty in our industry.

Typically, I would target both buyers, design engineers, maintenance buyers, and owners of caster distributorships to both promote and spec my casters on their equipment. Historically, this was done in person.

Now with the Covid we need to sharpen our marketing skills and come up with some new ways to attract and expand the customer base. There are a number of competitors and we are all vying to gain new business.

The only social media outlet we are using us LinkedIn and our message is both weak and inconsistent.

So will see if I can come up with some new ideas to help.

Monday, September 14, 2020

FA20 CSIT - 155 GregB - Week #3 Homework Developing Your Brand

 I am going to try and help my company develop a Logo that will tell customers exactly what we do and the specific products that we manufacture. My thought was creating a picture of our main product and highlight this in either white or black and have a red back ground to help illustrate our products. I like the color of red and this conveys strength.

Our products are marketed to both OEM and Industrial MRO markets and I would like the colors to indicate strength and offer a professional looking appearance.

We go to market in 4 separate ways.

We sell large customer direct, we sell through industrial distributors, we sell through catalog houses, and finally, we sell through companies that market strictly through the internet. This is a growing sector for us and it is important that we convey a look that attracts the attention of our customers.

Our typical customer is a purchasing agent. Traditionally, this was someone we would reach out to and visit. Now, with the restrictions due to Covid we are having to reinvent our marketing to reach customers through the internet. And I can tell you this is not easily accomplished.

So my goal is to come up with a flashy log and brand identification that conveys our expertise and services.

I would like to use a large font, with something eye catching. I have numerous competitors and definitely looking for a look that helps us stand out.

The competition is tough and since there is a push to buy American this could change how our customers view our company. We import and our subject to the tariffs that are affecting China.

So I need to sharpen our marketing tools to make sure we stay relevant and necessary. 

Friday, September 11, 2020

CSIT - 155 FA 20 - G. Burke Homework Part A - Aesthetics

The first two websites that I am reviewing are the Gates & Fences and then Toyota's website.

Part I.

Gates & Fences

This website has a lot going on here and it seems like they have crammed as much information as possible on their web page. I found  it very difficult to follow.

Concept:  I felt that there is way too much information on their web page and made it difficult to read. They should have put a few less pictures on their website and this would have made it much easier to read. I ma not sure a customer would take the time to read about all their information to determine the type of gate that they were shopping for.

Contrast: The color scheme is very difficult to read. The top of their web site is in Bold Black Letters with a green background which is ok but this does not compliment the borders which are in white lettering with a red background. I found it very annoying and difficult to read.  The difficulty of deciphering all the information is a major problem.

Repetition: I am not sure what their logo is. The page is unclear due to the small type and all of the pictures of the various gates they have listed.

Alignment:  This is probably the worst part of their web page. The borders have way too much information and although it lists everything they can produce and the various options, and controls, I think most customers would find this overwhelming and click to find an easier page to read. 5 found the page layout with the margins difficult to read and their too many headings so this is another problem area.

Proximity: The type is way to small and too close together. Their message gets lost due to the abundance of information that they are cramming on the web page. The final problem is size of the font and the volume of script. Just too much information.

Hierarchy: Gates and Fences does not present a clear message on what they are promoting. They profile entry gates but this idea gets lost in the minutia. 

Typography: Small print makes it difficult to read.

Ease of Use: The web page is has too much data and the reader ahs not idea where to start looking for their gate they want to buy. Does not seem to follow any logical sequence.

Navigation: Not sure where the starting point to this would be. I found it cluttered and too much work to read. As a customer I would pass on this web page.

Content: Gates and Fences has put as much content as possible on this page. As mentioned, its too much information. It looks like they dumped their entire catalog page and this would turn off most consumers.

I would give this web page a C - and tell them to hire a professional to clean up their page and focus on their message.

Toyota's web page

The message is much easier to understand and there is flow to what Toyota is trying to convey.

Concept: Looks well thought out and has categories that are easy to understand and navigate. Not sure if you need all the features they are promoting. That may be to much information. They have a featured vehicle portion that may be unnecessary. But overall much cleaner web page.

Contrast: I like the white back ground with picture of the vehicles and content organized. Looks appealing.

Repetition: The Toyota logo is prominently displayed and the web page divides up the various sub headings in a logical concept. 

Alignment: This was easy to follow. If anything they may have too many sub headings that could cause the reader to lose interest. Most buyers access their website looking for a new car. But the website is easy to look at.

Proximity: Their may be too many groupings for all their various categories. Although, easy to read and navigate as a car buyer I may lose interest in their Community Feature. I personally do not care about how their handling the Covid Crisis. So I would eliminate this.

Hierarchy:  This is eye catching and the most important feature for the Toyota site. The View Offers is the category that attracts car buyers.

Typography: The print is easy to understand and organized.

Ease of Use: Easy to read and follows a logical sequence. Although, some of the other content like how Toyota is dealing with Covid may be unnecessary.

Navigation:Toyota's web site was easy to navigate and very clear and concise.

Content: The Toyota web page is the appropriate in length. The picture of their cars that they are marketing convey the message that they make a quality product and are very big on the latest technology. 

Overall Toyota is at least a B maybe higher based on ease of use.

Part II.

Penny Juice

This website was easy to read. The color contrast using the yellow background helped with the contrast and highlighted the various flavors that the company is trying to market.

The concept was simple by incorporating a Penny for their logo this was easy to navigate and relate to. I thought the repetition with the penny was good and the name is catchy.

Both the alignment and content were laid out in a nice, simple design. Easy to follow and the message is that their juice is designated for childcare centers. 

The design was basic yet professional. Very straightforward approach.

I feel the web site design with the picture of various fruits floating in water would capture the attention of a childcare or preschool for ordering their products. Not too complicated and yet they used colors that are warm and inviting. 

Very simplistic design but you understand their message.

Apple

You would expect Apple to shine and they do not disappoint.

Very clean looking web page with excellent color content to highlight their brand.

The I PAD Pro is highlighted with contrasting colors and this demonstrates the importance of using contrasting colors with excellent pictures.

Apple has contrasted the various images with simplistic yet artistic colors and make it both easy to read and scroll the sub categories. The various categories are in white and this works well with the black at the top of their web page.

Apple does not have a lot of clutter. The products are clean and the black and blue background color contrast works.

Easy to read and easy to operate. Ease of use is made easier by the sub headings at the top of the web page. So the viewer has it all laid out for them to choose which category of products they are searching for.

Very professionally done with a clear image on what they are trying to promote. They apples products are distinctive for their designs and the web page is a reflection of their artistic talents.

The Apple brand is portrayed as slick, modern looking and functional and I like the way they also use the contrasting black and  white hierarchy.

Overall this is the best web site I have seen so far. Very classy and well done.








Tuesday, September 8, 2020

CSIT 155 FA 20 - Greg B - Homework Post 2

For this assignment I am analyzing the Top 5 Biggest Fast Food Chain Restaurants.

Subway

www.subway.com

Subway is a privately held restaurant franchisor that sells submarine sandwich's and salads.
The business started in 1965 when Fred De Luca borrowed $1,000 from a friend to start the very first subway in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Today Subway has more locations than any other fast food restaurant chain including McDonalds.

There are over 42,998 Global locations and 25,90 are located in the USA. Total investment in a subway franchise costs anywhere between $150,000 to $350,000 depending on the location. Their core products are submarine sandwich's. Subway spends over $500,000 a year in advertising.  Subway is considered the fastest growing fast food chain with a market penetration in 112 countries.

What is their marketing plan for Social Media? Subway utilizes three primary methods for Social Media. They are Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Within Facebook, which is their primary media target they have 24,232,949 likes and 21,267,170 followers. I checked all three websites and the last post for both Facebook and Twitter was to promote Labor Day. 

Additionally, on Facebook they post jobs, promo's, video's, how to order, specials, and where the nearest store is located.

Subway although not a huge user of social media does encourage conversations among its followers and does promote conversations revolving around their food and a healthy lifestyle.

On Twitter they have 2.3 million followers and have a new promo featuring the Coach of the New England Patriots touting the benefits of eating their food and a having a healthy lifestyle. I thought this was an interesting use of a well know sport celebrity. Especially, since Coach Bill Belichick is well know as someone that is extremely non - media friendly and hardly ever says anything when dealing with the media. However, he is a winning Super Bowl Coach and they must have thought he will convert customers to the brand.

Conclusion:

Subway utilizes 3 approaches to Social Media with Facebook and Twitter the leading forums.
Their approach is to sell the healthy lifestyle. I did some research and their three main goals is to promote 1. Fresh Food. 2. Their Food is Cost Effective. 3. They host social events to promote the brand.

They have invested heavily in hiring 150 employees to help them spread their digital image and promote content friendly technology and develop a digital strategy to compete with McDonalds and other large competitors in this market sector.

They also spend a great deal of time on Social Media promoting special deals on their combination sandwich offerings. 

A special emphasis is now on promoting the Subway special app. for Android, Apple, and Paypal.  They new emphasis especially with the covid crisis is to promote online ordering. 

I found their Social Media policy effective especially with their special sandwich promo's. They have great pictures of their products even though they rarely look like this when you actually buy their food.

McDonalds

www.mcdonalds.com

McDonalds was founded by two brothers in San Bernardino, CA in 1940. In 1955 Roy Kroc joined their business and eventually purchased this from the two brothers. They now have a Global Headquarters located in Chicago.

McDonalds is an international corporation with locations in over 100 countries. There core business is selling hamburgers and French fries. 

Their revenue comes from rent, royalties, and fees paid by the franchises. In 2018 McDonalds was considered the second largest employer in the world.

In 2018 McDonalds reported earnings of $5.9 million with an annual revenue of $21 billion.

With  regards to Social Media, McDonalds is not a major player in this sector. They use the following to spread their message: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Within Facebook they have 80,559,330 likes and 80,588,789 followers. They do not have that many posts listed on Facebook and only post company messages maybe 5 times a month. Their last message on Facebook included shout out to their employees this past Labor Day for 9 - 4.

Twitter is also figures heavily in their social message with 253 tweets with 8,525 following and 168.9 followers. I am assuming this is in the millions.  I still don't know enough about Twitter to read to much into this other than they mimic many of the same messages on Twitter that are used on their Facebook page. Wishing a happy labor day to their employees and all workers.

Conclusion:

McDonald's does not rely that much on Social Media. They update fewer than 5 times a month. So very little activity. When they do promote something it usually involves their healthy food alternatives. Additionally, they promote social content with regards to the issues of the day. i.e. BLA

They are one of the most mentioned social media non - technology companies and seem to have placed emphasis on listening to their customers feedback. The text states a good company listens to its customers and that seems to be the primary emphasis for McDonalds.

For example, they received complaints on both Facebook and Twitter from customers complaining about running out of Szechuan Sauce for their chicken and this was tied in to a marketing program with their Partner Disney to promote the ne movie "Mulan." 

My impression of them is that they do listen to customers but most of their social media is tied to marketing new products.

Starbucks

www.starbucks.com

Starbucks is an American multinational chain of coffeehouses and roastery reserves headquartered in Seattle, Washington. They are the largest coffeehouse chain and operates over 30,000 locations in over 70 countries.

Their core products are hot and cold drinks, whole bean coffee, tea, snacks, and they are heavily involved in seasonal promotional specials like the Fall classic, Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Started in 1971 and sold the company in the 1980's to Howard Schultz. Whose inspiration was the taken from expresso type drinks that he discovered while travelling in Italy.

Starbucks is heavily involved in various Social Media platforms and the once constant message is selling their brand.

Starbucks in heavily involved with the following social media platforms:

Facebook.  They have 36,724,491 people liking this with 35,562,942 people following them. Their last post on Facebook was last month and they have announced they are pausing advertising on all social platforms which include Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Starbucks has pause advertising because they are discussing internally with their media partners to prevent the promotion of hate speech. Seems they have decided to join the politically correct movement and reexamine whether they want to partner with companies that may be viewed as fomenting prejudice.

On Twitter they have 93.6 million following and 11 million followers. As mentioned they have suspended all promotions with their last tweet dated on 8 - 25.

Conclusion:

Historically, Starbuck has invested heavily in promoting their brand on various social media websites. Their Corporate directives has been to publish Quality Content and use bold colors in their photos to promote whatever item that has been selected that month. They don't post a lot but are vivid in the images that are used.

They tend to use Creative Captions that makes their posts easier to read. Posts are very clean.

They value their customers more then anything and communicate content by responding to their customers posts and comments.

Finally, they have a large target market and try and identify this with catching drink names to attract new customers.

Out of all the companies I have looked at they seem to be on the cutting edge of Social Media.  Starbucks is perhaps the biggest name to promote their brand and incorporate this into a lifestyle.

Dunkin Donuts or Dunkin

www.dunkindonuts.com

Founded in 1950 the chain was acquired by Baskin Robbins in 1990 and has been rebranding its image as a beverage led company. Today they are the worlds leader in baked goods, which include donuts, bagels, coffee, and donut holes.

Dunkin has 11,300 locations throughout the world and 8,500 located in the USA. They are one of the most recognized companies with their current slogan that " America Runs on Dunkin".

Their marketing efforts led to a name change in 2018 and they are now called , "Dunkin".  The name change was the result of a shift in rebranding to a beverage trend company. Based on consumer research that customers are more health conscious and buying less donuts they have aligned their image to reflect that change in market behavior.

Facebook  - They have 15,743,975 likes and 15,676,323 followers. The company is 68 years old so they are constantly creating new promotional tools to engage new customers. They do place an emphasis n customer feedback.

Twitter - They have 54.2 million following and 1.2 million followers. They also use Snapchat and KIK.

There is cross sharing across these marketing channels and they have employed new emoji keyboards to allow their customers to comment on their favorite products.

The last tweet I read was from 9 - 2 and it was involving a new ice drink.

Conclusion:

Sharing channel specific content is their primary emphasis and they have a social media team in place to achieve those results.

They are content oriented and use Facebook to promote video's and show behind the scenes stories that their customers would be interested in.

Their future emphasis is on messaging apps and conversational content with their customer base. Dunkin seems to be on the cutting edge for social media and they place a heavy emphasis on connecting with a younger demographic.  

Pizza Hut

www.pizzahut.com

Pizza Hut is an American restaurant chain and international franchise which was founded in 1958 in Kansas. The company is know for its Italian Food, primarily, pizza and pasta. Today they have over 18,703 restaurants worldwide. Now owned by Yum Brands and have a great international presence.

As of 2015 they have 1,903 restaurants in China and is considered China's largest and most successful foreign casual dining chain.

Facebook -  Pizza relies heavily on promotions through social media and this is especially true with Facebook. They have 32,032,679 likes and 8,016,748 visits. Their most recent post was on 9 - 8 and they are promoting reading by marketing children's books. There is a big emphasis on education, and improving their customers lives with their " Our Book It " program where a parent can enroll their kid to help read.

Twitter  - Pizza Hut has 85.5K following and 1.6 million followers. Their last tweet was on 9 - 7 to promote a picture of a pizza and the three day Labor Day weekend.  A special emphasis on content involves high quality photo's of their pizzas and the ease for online ordering. So they have reacted to the Covid crisis by using an app to order your food.

Conclusion:

Pizza Hut uses three primary ways to connect with their customers through social media. The major emphasis is on both Facebook and Twitter. They also have YouTube listed on their website and have videos demonstrating how to order online and all the various promotions. So they are engaged with their customers.

The companies strategy is promote social media to build value and return on investment.

They have active Listening Keys to create value. They track user during new product launches to help gain feedback.

Pizza Hut utilizes customer feedback to help align promotions with specific target markets.

Another use of their data is to help identify what their competition is doing and that in theory helps identify customer threats and how to head them off.

Finally, they target customers who specifically purchase rather than a broad email blast and hoping you receive an order. So this is target specific and driven by their marketing department. 

Overall they seem to be well in tune with their customers and have an aggressive social media strategy.










Friday, September 4, 2020

CSIT 155 - FA 20 - GregB

How does social media make it easier to get noticed or get your problem solved?

Social media can help you get noticed or solve your problem through the following methods:

First, it can allow your product or company to brand itself and come up with a format for addressing 

your brand or issue. Once you have an established brand you can have a purpose that helps you from

posting about the products without any specific goals.  By listening to your customers you can find out 

what is important  to them and better understand through their feedback what your trying to market and 

if there is a problem on how to fix this.  The response is immediate and timely. As stated in the text, by 

listening to your customers one can champion things that are important to the customer rather than 

what you think is important. The feedback is more immediate and essential to improving your brand.

Social Media helps identify your audience. Once you have a goal for your particular product or brand

you can better target the customer base. For example, in my company we try to roll out a new product 

every few months. However, this is the old way of doing business and not very effective. With our last

product offering I had a customer email me ( we marketed this through LinkedIn ) and asked me why

we did not contact our customers first before rolling out a new product. This was a good lesson and 

helped me understand that the customer needs to be involved in this process.

How does the roll of social media differ from the past?

The previous way of communicating to a company or its products was through things like yellow page 

ads, mailers, catalogs, trade shows, and customer surveys. Not that these forms of communication are

completely gone but as stated in the text, they were far too sweeping and failed to capture a target

audience. The new way to target your customers is with specific targeting criteria.  For example, the

new method of using Facebook with their many different ways to target a customer base, one can get

specific and target a customer through interests and workplace. For my company, we use LinkedIn to

target purchasing agents.We have had some success and I think a combination of all these types of 

methods with social media as our main focus with help grow our brand.

What types of comments do you share if your review a product or business? 

I use social media like Yelp to either leave a good review or negative review depending on my 

experience. I found this process anonymous and unforgiving. I am sure most owners are not

wild about having someone destroy their business online with negative comments. To me

if your a vindictive person you can really hurt someone's business or service. And there is really

no way to verify the comments. So although I use Yelp I can see where it has its devastating effects.

I also, use Travel Velocity and when we travel I try and use this to promote the virtues of a nice hotel

or a great experience. And I notice I rely on this more and more for travel advice. I try and stay 

positive and in turn rely on previous customers comments for making some of my travel decisions.

If it was your business on social media, how would your respond to a positive or negative 

comments?

I don't think you can ignore a negative comment. Probably the worst thing you can do. The text 

states you need to be a good listener.  If the product or experience is bad I would apologize and

try and make it up to the customer. Basically, I was taught the customer is always right.

Additionally, I don't think its very wise to make false and misleading statements. Best

to be honest and direct. I would try and be polite and reply right away. From my 

experience small issues become big problems if ignored and what distinguishes me in my

area of expertise is that I always deal with problems and try and show some empathy.





Monday, August 31, 2020

I looked at the following Blogs:  Cordova Patricia, George Emily, and Hughes JJ. I thought all three were excellent.

Very impressed with their insights, comments, and rational for choosing their backgrounds and the overall appearance.

All three had distinctive tones  that were unique and would make me want to read their blogs and follow them. I think that is one of the main points of this class: to attract followers to promote your products and have someone follow you. To me, all three were successful.

I need to step up my game because these three had great first time comments and after reading my fellow students I need to get more creative.

Regards,

Greg Burke


Thursday, August 27, 2020

Week #1 My Template and Weekly Blog

I chose this template because I like the vivid color.  I am hoping this class helps me gain an understanding on social media and how I can use it to expand my companies business. Currently, we do next to nothing with social media and I hope I can change that.

We do use LinkedIn for some announcements regarding new products but that is the extent of our social media campaign.

I think LinkedIn and Twitter are probably the best avenues for promoting our business but perhaps there are others that can help us. My company has received any value from participating in LinkedIn. I can't think of a single incident where someone actually contacted regarding our products through social media. I am sure that is a reflection of how poorly we promote it.

Facebook is probably the best social media website for personal connections but I don't use it and I am not a big fan of Mark Zuckerberg. However, I do realize this is the most popular way to stay in touch with family and friends.

Personally, I am a private person and keep a low profile. Maybe by taking this class I will be more open to sharing personal information online. Just have to wait and see.

Regards,

Greg B

CSIT - 155 FA - Greg B - Week 4 Homework

For the first part of this assignment I chose to review the two Nurseries. Armstrong Gardens -   Armstrong Gardens is an upscale Nursery wit...