The federal government’s Commission of Audit report has sent shivers through the Community Broadcasting industry. Somewhat incredulously it proposes cutting all funding to the sector. The reason it gives is ‘good governance’ and the fact there is already over $1billion being passed over to the ABC and SBS.

Just why a government would even consider shooting itself in the foot over a paltry $17m that it distributes to the Community Broadcasting sector (via the CBF) is a puzzle. The leverage that mere morsel achieves through the unpaid efforts of 22,000 volunteers has been estimated at around $388m. Couple this with the fact that we are talking broadcasters here – ie. the sector has a weekly audience is around 5.2 million listeners – and it would be a very foolhardy political misstep indeed.

In that context, we have this week provided a paper to the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia that sets out strategies for the sector to take advantage of the emergence of personal clouds.

We believe that broadcasters can leverage these emerging technologies to offer an already highly engaged community more ways of participating. Through these technologies it can deliver deeper engagement and more relevant and personal interaction. Additionally, it can open access to alternate funding mechanisms and, just as importantly, to better ways of consolidating sector-wide support.

The one simple idea is that by making the listener the centre of the relationship, a whole lot more things can happen. We propose mechanisms to enable this. By way of example, consider the added convenience around something as simple as listening to your favourite show – when you want to and how you want to:

 

Example

 

In this example, my personal cloud enables the digital interaction to occur the way that I want it to. An event occurs, my favourite show is on-air, and my personal cloud receives a message. It then processes that according to my preferences. So for example when I’m on the train home, I can click into straight through to my fine vibes…

There’s a little more to it than that. If you’d like a copy of the paper, drop me a line, we’re always happy to share.


We’ve recently been conducting a survey of hair salon client’s to get better understanding of their attitudes towards digital communication. We figure that the responses will be representative of personal service industries generally. It affirms the view that this communication is due for a shake-up.

#1 “Deliver messages to my mobile”

When it comes to receiving appointment confirmations and reminders, people prefer SMS.

confirmations

It’s interesting that even though they’re reading more of their daily emails on a mobile device, people are distinguishing between the congested flow found there and these actionable “must-see” messages. Appointment confirmations matter – that’s why it’s okay to interrupt their person-to-person message stream.

#2 “I want it to be easy”

We are on the cusp of change when it comes to integrating digital prosthesis in our daily routines. This inflection point can be seen in the way people are using their digital calendars.

calendar

The point being that it isn’t easy to incorporate events in our calendars, it requires fat fingered typing in all sorts of awkward ways. This is why when we asked people what they most wanted from their hair salon the most common response was… one-click add to calendar. (It was closely followed by send the reminder to my phone!)

‘Convenience’ is the lowest common denominator for picking winners in the digital race. It’s like the difference between having to type “Y-E-S” to confirm an appointment by SMS, and simply clicking a button. It’s clear which has the winning hand.

#3 “I’d like more control”

It is one of the paradoxes of the internet age that as the data captured about each of us proliferates there remains a near universal sense of unease about who gets to see this. Surveys in the US, the UK and Europe have consistently shown that the overwhelming majority are concerned about their privacy in one way or another (the magic number tends to be 95% depending on the question asked). Unsurprisingly, we found the same thing with only ~5% of people agreeing that ‘Privacy is an old world concept’.

The thing is most of us don’t know what we can do to change things. It’s interesting then that the use of ‘dedicated’ email addresses for business may be on the rise:

email

 

Conclusion

The future is mobile, convenient & offers more control. We think the future looks like this…

Future of confirmations 


As we move through beta, we are starting to push out harder into the real world with the aim of gathering different perspectives on what we are trying to do.  To that end, it’s been great to get support from some of the leading innovators in Australia’s startup media.

1) Shoestring Startups – Tasnuva Bindi (editor of Shoestring) interviewed us recently and has put together a comprehensive profile of Geddup – http://bit.ly/GYLkMc

2) Anthill Online – Published “Branding Bill Gates style”, another look at how branding works for startups – http://bit.ly/19YOXfF

3) Eagle Wave Radio – Mat Beeche and Shona Mackin had Adrian and I on their show Eagle Startups. Great hosts dealing with first-time-radio-hacks – we can only get better at this! – http://bit.ly/1eFejjM

Thanks guys…


 


Great night at the 2013 Australian Mobile Awards with Geddup receiving some unexpected applause. We won Best Utilities App and Best API.

But perhaps best of all it was great to see that the judges had just got it – with no need for an explanation from us. MC Mark Bergin was spot on when he alluded to the untapped potential of Geddup’s API.

Just check out these smiling faces…

Geddup at Australian Mobile Awards


 


On 14 August 2013, we held a workshop with representatives from the hair industry. The cast included salon owners, an event manager, a marketing manager, an industry body representative and our co-host, Eleven Australia, a hair product wholesaler. The purpose of the workshop was to explore the different ways that the hair industry and particularly hair salons communicate with clients – with a view to identifying areas that could benefit from newer communication technologies.

The main conclusions were that salons could use newer technologies to:

  1.  Improve how appointments are made and confirmed; and,
  2. Expand the ways salons build their business and brand.

 

INTRODUCTION

Hairdressing is a face-to-face, or scissor-to-scalp, activity where most communication with clients happens while they are in the salon. Outside the immediacy of the salon, communicating with clients remains a challenging proposition.

Booking an appointment

The booking of appointments most often occurs either in-salon or via phone. Online booking is still a small proportion of total sales (~10% for our group). Those salons that offer online booking are generally using vendor software to facilitate this service on their website. Notably while our salon owners were aware that software vendors enable booking via Facebook, no one had set this up.

The clients that book online are typically viewed as the early adopter set, and are more likely to promote, rate or otherwise participate in digitized user feedback.

“People who use online booking are the sort that will write on Urban Spoon”

Given the growth in ecommerce, that is being further fuelled by the adoption of smartphones, the proportion of bookings undertaken online can be expected to increase substantially over the next few years. (For example, of the 52% of Australians that have smartphones, over 40% have used their mobiles to shop online. See our slide-deck “Know your customers” for more details.)

Appointment confirmations & reminders

For those that send appointment confirmations, SMS is typically a preferred method as it is received on the client’s mobile phone and has a high probability of being read. It has some troubling limitations though:

“SMS confirmations can be dodgy – if a client types ‘Yep’ instead of ‘Yes’, the system struggles.”

The problem is that SMS are not smart. They fail to make use of our technologies.

  • A client must type a response rather than simply click a button.
  • There is no easy way to use an SMS to call, email or otherwise contact a salon to change an appointment.
  • An SMS can’t interact with a client’s calendar – it’s not easy for them to ‘add to calendar’ or setup a reminder alert.
  • SMS do not always make it easy for the salon to process the confirmation.

Notably, the key target market for a better solution may be the more bearded sex:

“Men send text messages to make appointments”

The single-syllable male is a likely candidate for technologies that better integrate booking, confirmations and manicures into their phone.

Product sales

Salon websites are typically used as brochure sites – image-heavy contact pages that are the modern equivalent of the ‘yellow pages’. This makes sense given the specialist nature of their business and how difficult it is for a hair salon to meet the long-term commitment required for more content driven websites.

“We aim to keep our website fresh – but it’s hard.”

It also reflects the difficulties that salons face in selling product online. Having said that, with the growth in competition from various ecommerce sites, salons are starting to look for ways to participate in this trend.

In this respect, salons have a strong competitive advantage versus their online competitors in that they have a direct relationship with their clients. The challenge is to find ways to make it easy for clients to purchase product from them. This is where we have been working to tailor a solution for salons.

Marketing

Snail mail was considered the most effective form of marketing for a hair salon. A hand signed letter is appropriately personal and perhaps reflects the more intimate relationship that we all have with our hairdresser.

It was interesting then that the less labour-intensive email is considered a viable alternative for marketing to clients. This assumption is that an email is easy and has a fair chance of getting delivered to a client’s inbox.

“Email is more about a ‘Call to Action’ than building your brand”

But as our event marketing representative was quick to point out, the “problem is I don’t know who has read my email.” In her case, she tends to send emails to clients with increasing frequency as an event approaches, simply ”because no one responds.”

Herein lies the rub. Email as a communication medium has been so diluted by overuse that most messages received are never read or responded to.

Perhaps email is really a negative marketing exercise for personal service firms like hair salons. We know that something like 90% of email is spam. For true spam marketing firms, if only 0.1% of respond then that is enough for them to make a return on their investment. For a hair salon, this success ratio is implausibly low. In this context perhaps the most insightful comment was:

“Email is a tick-the-box medium”

Perhaps the most divisive part of the discussion was around social media. About the only thing that was clear was that no one had a clear idea about how effective it was for marketing purposes.

It was notable that there was a strong generational gap in relation to attitudes to Facebook. The youngest person in the room suggested that we:

“Checkout the iPhone dock of a 20 year old – you’re more likely to find Facebook than Email.”

While the crustier over 30’s, suggested that Facebook is purely a social medium.

“If someone sent a serious email by Facebook I would not open it…”

Still, the raw data suggests that social media is worth exploring as a marketing medium – as our industry representative noted the AHC Youth Network has over 20,000 followers that are very active via Facebook Chat.

CONCLUSIONS

The hair industry is only just starting to come to terms with an increasingly mobile and online client base. The most obvious areas where newer technologies could be used to improve the effectiveness of salon communication are in relation to appointment management and the development of ecommerce capabilities. It is too early to make an assessment about the effectiveness of social media for marketing. The one common thread across all the discussion was the need to extend the reach of the salon in a way that facilitates a closer relationship with their clients across the hairdressing cycle.

 


 


We ordered balloons today. 1000 orange and 1000 white with our icon emblazoned upon them. We’re going to a local flea market and the balloons will share the stage. Our brand is leaving the matrix to enter the real world.

The question we struggle with is how to invest our limited resources in nurturing our brand. Our view is that the look and feel of Geddup is integral to how people will experience the product. Our brand sends a signal about who we are, and we want to gain the confidence and trust of our audience.

This article provides a discussion of the key branding decisions we have made on our short journey and why we have made them.

Small beginnings

Brand has been an important part of the project since its inception.

Very early in our thinking, we commissioned an online tournament to design a logo. As the process required iterative development with designers from across the globe, it offered an opportunity to test the core concept with a diverse audience. The winner was a Metallica-loving longboat-lovechild from Norway (A.design).

Design winner logo by A.designWe were then able to use this logo through our market testing. While our JQuery Mobile mockups may have been relatively crude representations of the concept, the embedded logo added an element of cohesion to the process. It made it easier to test for more than the success of our UI – we were testing demand for the concept itself.

The net result is that within a relatively short period of time, the brand of Geddup had begun to take on a life of its own. It had become synonymous with an orange balloon (at least in our universe).

Real men don’t set Souvenir

We like the balloon because it’s symbolic of what we are trying to achieve. We want Geddup to offer an uplifting experience, freeing our users from the shackles of overwhelming, chaotic communication. The balloon appeals to that carefree child in all of us.

But once we had made the decision to proceed with Geddup, we quickly realized that we would need a more refined vision of the brand. This is when the guys from Clear Design joined the team. The impact was immediate.

New Geddup logo by Clear Design

While we were reluctant to lose our balloon breaking out of the box, the easy recognition that the new design offered was clearly superior. Most importantly the new logo worked on small scales and large, and in our new corporate colour and in silhouette. It was simple, clean and light.

The other interesting decision at this time was to choose our font. We had vaguely suggested that we’d like something friendly and early 19th century. Our Creative Director, Russell Mann suggested Souvenir. But there was a problem. It seems that some people don’t like Souvenir. Font scholar, Frank Romano has a particularly jaundiced view:

“Souvenir is a font fatale”…”We could send Souvenir to Mars, but there are international treaties on pollution in outer space”…”Real men don’t set Souvenir“

Souvenir was originally an art nouveau font created in Germany around 1905, so coupled with its homespun serifs it fitted our request pretty neatly. The problem seems to be that in the 1970’s, Souvenir grew in popularity until it reached saturation point. It was everywhere from Hungry Jacks to Playboy, Dungeons & Dragons to the Bee Gees. Another font aficionado, Mark Batty, nails the problem by suggesting Souvenir is – “A sort of ‘Saturday Night Fever’ typeface wearing tight, white, flared pants.”

Bill Gates business card with souvenir and flares

We were taken aback and questioned the wisdom of adopting a font that was ranked 7th in the most hated fonts of all time. But Russell argued differently.

The thing is that our key target audience are parents of children aged 5 to 15 yrs. That means typically they are children of the 1970’s. They are imbued with bell-bottoms, sideburns and crazy big hair even if they were not old enough to have them. In Australia, one of the most recognized brands remains “Life. Be in it”. It was a get-into-life campaign born out of the 1970’s and its font? Souvenir. The light went on, we could benefit from the almost subconscious nostalgic association. We chose Souvenir.

Up, Up & Away

Our brand is now permeating the digital landscape of Geddup. Our website echoes the simplicity of the brand – as does the video that welcomes new visitors to the site. Importantly, the app draws on these same strengths and we like the point of difference that comes with using a font that has gone out of fashion.

It is still early days for Geddup. We are in beta and rapidly evolving to meet prospective clients’ needs. No doubt our brand will change too. Still we’ve come a long way from the single-celled idea we began with. And with balloons soon to arrive, the transition from virtual to real seems that little bit closer. Maybe one day we’ll get to take to the skies in our logo writ large.

 



We have been gently introducing Geddup to different segments of our target market over the last 4 weeks. It’s been an interesting and occasionally intimidating process.

On the one hand our beta-explorers – friends, teammates and hand-picked others – have been welcoming without being effusive. We have not received a single standing ovation. Presenting Geddup in workshops and seminars has also been a mixed bag. A single concept can resonate strongly, but then get lost in the subsequent noise.

On the other hand, Geddup does exactly what we set out to achieve and does it well. It delivers on what people asked for in our market and prototype testing. And best of all, it has become part of my daily life and is proving to be incredibly liberating and simple to use. Our task is to enable our early users to replicate my experience.

Herein lies the challenge. There is a world of difference between a product in a test-tube and the same thing in the wild.

So for the benefit of posterity, following is an attempt to distil our recent learning into the three main hurdles that our target market has set before us:

THE HOP – “Why do I need this?”  

This and it’s burly cousin “What is in it for me?” have come up time and again in various guises. It is the first and easiest barrier that a user will put up and it must be overcome for them to take another step.

Having said that, it’s a pretty obvious requirement – and we thought we had it covered. But in our experience, it takes more than simply recapitulating the problems and showing how you solve them to convince an audience that they should use your product. The cost / benefit analysis is heavily skewed by the weight of inertia. 

In short, it takes a tangible need to motivate people to get off their couch and try a new solution. The more ‘necessary’ that Geddup is, the more likely that it will succeed.

For example, we can compare our experience with two basketball teams. The ‘Rep team’ is a pretty motivated crowd, the kids and parents thrive on competition. I structured the introduction to Geddup in a way that it was necessary to try it – parents could only view the game details via Geddup. Not surprisingly perhaps we had a 100% success rate in the take-up. This compares to the more relaxed ‘Club team’, where I made a less pressing ‘request for feedback’. The success rate was less than 50%.

THE SKIP – “Why should I trust you?”

Geddup may be the most useful app in the universe but users won’t adopt it unless they think its credible. Notably, the single most common measure of trust is “Who else is using it”. For good reason, evolution has delivered the school of fish, the wildebeest herd and the wisdom of crowds.

For example, we ran a workshop with people from the hairdressing industry – owners of salons, an event manager, product wholesaler and a representative from the industry body. They all spoke about the need for better ways of communicating with clients – emails are not opened, SMS is dysfunctional, Facebook is not appropriate. They all also agreed that any solution must have critical mass before offering it to their clients. 

We think we have an answer to this chicken and egg thing, but recognise that we need to build ‘credibility’ from a variety angles. Nurturing our brand is squarely in our focus at this early stage.

THE JUMP – “Why should I try this now?”

This really is a variant of ‘The Hop’ but with the added emphasis on ‘now’. We are all busy, distracted and guilty of ignoring what might be good for us simply because it’s often easier to keep doing what already works. Just because something is annoying, doesn’t mean that you will invest the time to learn another, better way of doing that same thing.

Ultimately this suggests that we will have the most success if we introduce Geddup when the need of the individual is at its most pressing. We win if our solution is simple and effective.

Demographics make a big difference here. The older the audience, the more likely they will resist change – perhaps because the perceived effort to learn something new is greater.

For example, I introduced Geddup to the guys that I play poker with. It’s a gathering of increasingly crusty, post-modern men. Notwithstanding that I know these guys, the success rate of getting them to test Geddup based on an introductory “I’d like your feedback” email was 20%. Compare this with the 20 year old sports coach, who had opened and responded to a message within 30 seconds of sending it – this is the demographic that has no use for email, it’s an instant message world for them.

Conclusion

It is not like we are the first people to struggle with these particular hurdles. I remember trying to describe this thing called Twitter over the dinner party table in 2008. The crew didn’t get it. I’m not so sure how many of these same people get it even now. But we are confident that they will get Geddup – it is something that they need –  there are just a few small steps to overcome first.


Consumers want control over their personal data.

Such a short seemingly uncontroversial statement. Yet one loaded gun for an advertising industry that had only just rediscovered its mojo after its traditional models had been torn apart by the internet. “How are we supposed to know what people want if we can’t track their every click?” – they ask.

The evidence that consumers do indeed want to control their data – including their data exhaust – is mounting. The issue of control was the single biggest finding of this comprehensive survey of 5000 UK citizens undertaken by Demos. And the  mainstream has picked up the meme with reports of ‘Crypto Nights’ in the popular press (here). And then there is the growth in downloads of browser extensions like Ghostery and AdBlocker.

So when Microsoft suggested that they would turn on ‘Do Not Track’ by default in their latest browser, it seemed like a good idea. Until it wasn’t…

  • The New York Times (here) – summarises the sputtering objections from the advertising industry and the pros and cons of the debate.
  • ZDnet (here) – chuckles over the absurdity of it all.

These debates reflect badly on the self-regulated approach that is promoted by the advertising industry. Lack of progress on a resolution suggests that it is only a matter of time until legislation catches up. Recent comments by the European Commissioner (here) suggest that moves are afoot in that part of the world. While in the US, the Federal Trade Commission has proposed Do Not Track become the standard (here).

The odds are that if consumers want control, it will happen – one way or another.

Matthew Mobley argues that the winners from DNT will be those companies that are explicitly authorised to collect our personal data – most conspicuously the social media bohemeths (here). If you are happy to share yourself with your social media provider, I guess that is right.

I’m not convinced that this arrangement delivers the type of control that people are looking for. Ultimately, these companies are aligned to the advertisers on their networks, rather than the consumer. This conflict is already the source of plenty of angst, the imposition of DNT would surely magnify the concerns.

 

Conclusion

We’d argue that the evolution of VRM tools is more likely to lead to the rise of bilateral sharing of data – that is, we will share our data with our commercial and community relationships directly and uniquely according to the nature of that relationship. Our health insurer doesn’t need to know about our preference for stripes on polka-dots. If we want to broadcast our intentions, then we will have the choice of doing so under the veil of anonymity. This is where the likes of Kynetx and the Digital Asset Grid are going (here). All power to them.

(For more reading on the Do Not Track movement head over to the official website at http://donottrack.us.)

 


On the road, so the summary will have to be brief.

Highlights from the week include:

  • Phil Windley wrote two pieces that are worth a look at his blog (here)
  • A UK based VRM service for the health sector – Patients Know Best
  • ING boss reckons they will make bank statements available on Facebook – really?
  • OUseful returns with a list of research undertaken into personal data…here
  • An interview with Sandy Pentland of MIT’s lab for Big Data – could do with editing but some interesting perspectives (here)

Also, some VRM progress this week with Azigo launching its beta version and Connect-Me saying something cryptic that it is coming soon.

All the links plus a couple more at Bitly.

 


Governments have mixed feelings about the transformation in data that is occurring. On the one hand, the opportunity to keep a closer eye on the marauding masses motivates them to require our data exhaust to be trapped and stored away – just in case they might like to look at it later on. And on the other, there is the opportunity to make our data open and accessible so that we can use it to drive all kinds of efficiences.

This week we can see both trends unfolding:

  • The UK’s midata initiative is stepping ever closer to enabling practical services – check out the 10 ways it can help at the UK govt’s BIS site.  I liked OUseful’s.Info exploration of what midata might mean and links to related issues. And Mydex has added their take too.
  • The Australian government’s exploration of new Data Retention laws have been causing a stir recently. It’s a sad reflection on the government that there is no comparable easy-to-navigate site to find out more – A ‘Back Pocket Brief’ prepared by the A-G’s department and released under Freedom Of Information is here and a speech by the Attorney-General on 5Sept here. Elsewhere Delimiter has kept tabs on the feedback from those in the know.

Also this week:

  • Understanding what ‘customer centric’ means – Customer Blog
  • SWIFT thinks that banks will be the hub of the Digital Asset Grid – the intention economy – American Banker
  • The state of Facebook e-commerce – TechCrunch
  • A nice infographic about what makes a good website – Bit Rebels
  • And Subscription Commerce gets some coverage – Viral Blog
All the links can be found at Bitly here…http://bit.ly/Qe4rAI