Archive for the ‘Trends’ Category

Glamping – the glamorous new trend in camping

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Luxury tent by Exlcusive Tents

So your partner is the outdoorsy type, and, while you don’t mind a romantic evening gazing at the stars, you prefer a firm mattress to rolling around on the terra firma. You are the perfect candidate to experience a new hotel trend called Glamping or Glamour Camping. From Santa Barbara to New Mexico to the Serengeti, luxury style camping draws those of us who appreciate the outdoors but prefer creature comforts.

Your shelter from the elements in glamping comes in many shapes and sizes including tent cabins, safari tents, yurts, motor homes, tipis, tree houses even igloos. There is no end to the childhood (and adult) dreams that can be fulfilled.

I have long heard about luxury glamping in Africa, and we have seen examples from Hollywood in “Out of Africa” and  “The English Patient”. But you don’t have to go on a safari to have a unique experience communing with nature. Glamping can be found across this vast country of ours – in mountains, at the seashore, on lakes and rivers and even in the midst of Manhattan.

In Southern California, Bjorklund Ranch in Goleta, just outside of Santa Barbara, offers a sizable Tiki Yurt that will accommodate up to 5 with activities to please just about every outdoor enthusiast. For around $200 a night, you can wander through 10 acres of a working ranch, hike up to a waterfall with a 9 foot deep swimming hole or just hang out on the deck and watch the stars come out as the sun goes down.

Safari tent at El Capitan Canyon

Safari tent at El Capitan Canyon

I first heard of glamping at El Capitan Canyon, also in the Santa Barbara area. At around $300 per night, you can stay near the beach in Cedar cabins and safari tents outfitted with western-style furnishings and fine linens. You can opt for organized activities and relive your childhood summer camp experiences, or just hang out, relax, and enjoy the beach and the canyon. If cabin fever is an issue, it’s a short drive up to the Santa Ynez Valley for some premier wine tasting.

But what if you are just too much of an urbanite to give up the city lights? Hyatt 48 Lex in Manhattan has a suite glamping package for you. For $500 you can sleep comfortably on beds set up outside on the terrace high above the frenetic streets. You can opt for sleeping bags to create an authentic camping ambiance or just snuggle into crisp hotel linens. Forget the world below, lay back and relax with snacks and wine and gaze at the high rises all around you.

AKA Central park

AKA Central Park

If you want to know how the really wealthy glamp, take a look at AKA Central Park. For  just under $2,000/night you can lounge on a plush queen size bed on the 1,000 square foot wraparound terrace of the 17th floor penthouse suite. And who wouldn’t pay the price when you consider that it comes with gourmet s’mores and AKA’s signature vodka.

Glamping is big, and the bigger it gets, the more creative it has become. Check out this ABC News slideshow and see if there isn’t something that piques your interest for your next getaway. The possibilities are endless. And luxurious.

Buying “likes” on Facebook

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

facebook-like-buttonAccording to the Beatles, you “Can’t buy me love”. But companies are finding that you can buy “likes”. At least on Facebook.

I received this email from The Grove, a local “lifestyle” center in Los Angeles, offering to enter me into a $50 gift card drawing simply for “liking” them on Facebook. Picture 71I realized that over the past couple months, I’d been receiving similar emails with increased frequency.

Apparently, buying friends has now become an accepted strategy. And while our parents might scoff at the idea of purchasing relationships, it makes good business sense for a number of reasons.

  1. As marketers, buying leads is something we have been doing for generations. Long before the Internet and Facebook, we have purchased lists and given away trips as the price for getting people to listen to a timeshare pitch.
  2. Much of the time, the people you’re asking to “like” you are those with whom you already have a relationship. Take The Grove example; I’m already on their email list. So, since I’m open to receiving messages from The Grove, I’m a good candidate for “liking” them.
  3. It’s an inexpensive way to augment your social media presence and strengthen your online reputation. One or two $50 gift cards is a small price to pay to add hundreds of new people to your Facebook community.

So regardless of what the Beatles and  your parents told you, it might be time to consider offering an incentive to get prospects to like you on Facebook.

Social media and the over 50 crowd

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

social-media-icons_group_01The younger generation isn’t the only group using Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other social media platforms. According to a recent AARP survey, 27% of Americans age 50 and over say they use social media sites. Of those sites, Facebook is the most popular. Here’s a look at some of the findings as noted in the survey’s executive summary.

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For a more detailed look at the findings, the survey can be downloaded here, free of charge.

Offend someone, please.

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

shockedYou can’t please all of the people all of the time. And even if you could, it’s probably not a very good idea.

Why? Because that’s how vanilla is made. And who pays attention to vanilla?

No knock against vanilla (unless it’s in candles), but great marketing does not start with a strategy position that reads, “I hope every single person likes it”. Great marketing, and I’m talking about the kind that gets results, not just awards, is provocative. It challenges people to think differently about something.

Not everyone is going to like that. But you have to ask yourself, who are you trying to impress, everyone or your target? Then the question becomes, will this offend my target? If so, perhaps you should rethink the creative. Otherwise, go bold and don’t worry about ruffling a few feathers.

Keep clients informed and keep ‘em happy

Monday, May 24th, 2010

CommunicationIt’s amazing how many communication tools we have out our disposal these days: iPhones, iPads, email, text, Twitter, message boards, Facebook… the list goes on. But even with all this technology, sometimes it seems like we’re still not doing our best when it comes to communicating with our clients. Specifically, keeping our clients informed to the level that gives them confidence in the job we’re doing.

This should a big no-brainer. But my experience  tells me that the lines of communication are not as clear as they should be.

A little background first. I once had a boss who told me I had to “manage up” better. I had been working on my projects in a vacuum, not sharing progress or giving heads ups about potential obstacles. As a result, my boss would get nervous that things weren’t happening as they should be. Clients are like that too.

Personally, if a client has to ask how things are coming along, I know I’ve dropped the communication ball.  So why not go out of the way to make sure that doesn’t happen? This is especially important with new clients who are just getting to know you. To start with, at the beginning of an assignment set the proper expectations  in terms of timing and deliverables. Let them know what they’ll be receiving and when. Be clear about how many revisions they get before going into change order mode.

Once your client knows what to expect, keep the lines of communication open. Let them know that later in the day they’ll be receiving the first look at that new landing page. Or, if there’s been a delay, let them know why and how it will impact the overall time line.

I’ve found that a bit more effort on the communication front pays large dividends in two key areas:

  1. It puts the client at ease and lets them know you’re managing their time, money and brand in a professional and accountable manner.
  2. In the event that things do go a bit sideways, the client is usually more forgiving if they’ve been part of the process from the beginning. They’ll also be less surprised since they’ve been kept in the loop and were likely aware of potential issues.

Granted, these are not breakthrough insights, and successful marketers have been doing this for years. These are best practice basics that, in today’s fast paced world, we sometimes forget to do. And that’s a shame, because  the extra effort required to ensure that your clients are well informed goes a long way toward keeping them happy, and keeping them as your clients.

Is the info you provide on social networks putting you at risk?

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

internet_securityA recent Consumer Reports survey concludes that certain info we post on social network sites and how we use those sites may be putting us at risk for identity theft and cyber crimes. So how does one stay safe in the digital world? As reported by the Los Angeles Times, Consumer Reports offers this helpful list of seven things users should “stop doing now” on Facebook, MySpace and other social network sites.

  1. Using a weak password Stay away from simple names and obvious choices with a number tacked onto the end. Instead, mix upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. Better still,  add a number or symbol the middle of your password.
  2. Providing your full birth date Avoid showing your full birth date in your profile (day, month, year). This info can be used to obtain additional personal info, or access to your bank and credit accounts. Just show only your birth month and day, or nothing at all.
  3. Ignoring useful privacy controls Take advantage of Facebooks many options for limiting what private information is seen by who-knows-who.
  4. Posting a child’s name in a photo caption Just don’t do it. And, if someone else adds a tag to one of your photos with your child’s name, just delete it by clicking “remove tag”.
  5. Mentioning being away from home When you do this, you’re letting everyone know that the house is empty.
  6. Being found by a search engine You can stop strangers from accessing a profile by going to the Search section of Facebook’s privacy controls and select “Only Friends for Facebook” search results. Be sure the box for Public Search isn’t checked.
  7. Permitting youngsters to use Facebook unsupervised. If there’s a young child or teenager in the household who uses Facebook, have an adult in the same household  become one of their online friends and use their e-mail as the contact for the account in order to receive notification and monitor activity.

Read the original Los Angeles Times article here.

I read therefore iPad

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

apple-ipad-ibooksWith the debut of Apple’s iPad this month, the digital book reading experience comes a bit closer to that of reading an actual printed volume. Whereas devices such as the popular Kindle present  pages in black and white, the iPad displays realistic representations of actual pages that even turn as if they were made of paper.

Click here to read the Los Angeles Times’ in-depth comparison of the iPad versus the Kindle.

Target introduces mobile/scanable gift cards

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Image couresy of Target

Tired of carrying around those cumbersome, wallet-busting gift cards? Target wants to ease your burden by allowing you to keep their gift card right in your smartphone. The big box retailer just announced that customers can now  access their gift cards right from their smartphones by presenting the digital bar code to the cashier at time of checkout.

Clearly this is a big step forward in m-commerce (as in mobile commerce) and a likely look at the shape of things to come. “There’s been such rapid growth in m-commerce in the last two years,” Ben Rushlo, senior manager of Internet technologies at Keynote, based in San Mateo, Calif., told Marketing Daily.

Read Sara Mahoney’s article in Marketing Daily for more info.


The 10 best/worst Internet Company Names of the Decade

Monday, January 4th, 2010

naming-babyLaurel Sutton of Catchword Branding does a great job spotlighting some of the most notable Internet company names of the decade. Her recent Marketing Profs article, shown below, offers some valuable insights into what can make or break an effective company name.

Like the internet phenoms they trumpeted, Internet company names of the last decade have been, by turns, wildly inventive, deeply troubled, breathtakingly silly, serviceable (if dull)—and, occasionally, brilliant.

Having christened our share of Internet phenoms, we at Catchword decided to looked back to identify the 10 biggest dot-com naming trends—and their best and worst examples.

(Although, frankly, it was hard to choose just one “worst” in some cases. There were so many Web 2.0 disasters! It was as though the rules of language had ceased to apply.)

Here are the trends and names that rose to the top (and sank to the bottom).

1. The Hookup

Sometimes two words are better than one—especially to convey a new way of doing things. Serviceable hookups can range from descriptive (Facebook, StubHub) to suggestive (LinkedIn) to evocative (Snapfish).

But if two words don’t have a discernible relationship with each other—or the brand—it’s a Random Hookup. And we all know how short-lived those are—in this or any realm.

Win: YouTube

Intuitive, catchy, grassroots-y. The retro slang “tube” for TV evokes simpler times and ease of use: clever for a new app that could have been seen as intimidatingly high-tech.

Fail: TalkShoe

Say what? The name is a play on the use of Ed Sullivan’s pronunciation of the word “show” on his long-ago TV show. Like anyone is going to make the connection…

2. The Conjurer

Evocative words can make memorable brand names when they relate to the core of a brand’s story (like Yelp). But the line can be fine between edgy and baffling.

Win: Twitter

Whimsically conjures up users’ sharing short little bursts of information (like birds twittering in a tree)—as well as excitement (”all atwitter”). It’s extendable, too. A whole vocabulary quickly takes flight—from tweet and twitfriend to twipic.

Fail: MOO

Great for cows, milk, cheese, ice cream. Not so great for a site offering printing services.

3. The Letter-Dropper

The problem with this type of coinage is it’s so distinctive you’re almost bound to look like a copycat if you’re not the first out of the gate. And if you drop more than one letter, you’re asking for trouble. (Was Motorola’s SLVR cell phone meant to be Silver or Sliver? And what’s with Scribd?)

Win: Flickr

The image of a camera’s flicker is relevant for photo sharing and reassuringly familiar, while the dropped letter—a new naming convention—suggested cutting-edge technology.

Fail: iStalkr

Creepy.

4. The Assembly Line

Names assembled from word parts with meaningful associations can be rich and unexpected (witness Gizmodo, the gadget blog). But tone and messaging need to be just right.

Win: Wikipedia

The unusualness of the name establishes it as a fresh player, while the evocation of both encyclopedias and speed (”wiki” is Hawaiian for “quick”) is spot on.

Fail: Nupedia

The flatfooted claim of newness sounds dated from day one. Plus it’s risky to stake an identity on newness in internet-land. Before long, this premise is far from “nu.”

5. The Misspeller

This kind of brand name often spells disaster: hard to remember (Ideeli, Scrybe), confusing to pronounce and spell (Myngle, Wotnext, Gravee), and reeking of URL-search desperation (Itzbig, Profilactic, Fairtilizer).

Win: Boku

French word “beaucoup” is on the money for an online payment service—and for many Americans, the misspelling is actually more intuitive and inviting.

Fail: Cuil

Meant to be pronounced “cool,” but who’s gonna get that? Rule No. 1: Your name shouldn’t need to come with a pronunciation guide.

6. The Wordster

Another convention that ages fast. And there’s nothing more pathetic in naming than a transparent attempt to appear cool (cases in point: Dogster, Agester, Talkster).

Win: Friendster

Not exciting, we’ll grant you, but the intuitiveness of the name helped usher in the era of social networking.

Fail: Napster

In light of its ensuing legal woes, to highlight the “kidnapping” of music is probably not the best idea (to put it kindly).

7. The Double or Nothing

Doubling a letter in a real word only works when the word remains recognizable, and the addition of the second letter serves some purpose, other than to complicate spelling (as in Gawwk).

Win: Digg

Intuitive and evocative, the double “g” underscores the digging nature of research and is graphically interesting.

Fail: Diigo

A social bookmarking site, the double “i” destroys the semantic connection and confuses pronunciation. (Is it Dee-go or Dih-go?) Plus, coming on the heels of Digg, it seems hopelessly derivative.

8. The eThing, the iThing, the meThing, the myThing

“e/i” shorthand quickly becomes redundant in the internet space, although it spawns many workhorse names: serviceable, if dull. The me/my thing (as in mySpace) tends to be similarly predictable and unremarkable. (Now, myBad—that would be interesting…)

Win: iContact

For a provider of email marketing, the “i” works on three levels: “I contact,” “eye contact,” and, of course, “Internet contact.”

Fail: eSnailer, eBaum’s World, eXpresso…

9. The Empty Vessel

A word without recognizable semantic roots can be a useful umbrella name for a company that may want to branch out in different directions. But it needs to be pronounceable and have relevant sound symbolism. Otherwise, it’s not an Empty Vessel—it’s Alphabet Soup. Like Disaboom, Xoopit, Yebol, and Goozex. Cover your ears.

Win: Kazaa

Recalls huzzah or hurrah, conveying excitement. (Sample exclamation: “Kazaa! I just downloaded Season One of Six Feet Under, FOR FREE!!!”)

Fail: Eefoof

Vintage Web 2.0: hard to spell, silly—and utterly meaningless.

10. The Foreigner

Words in little-known languages can also make good empty-vessel names, especially if their meaning provides a springboard into their brand story. The trick is to find words that are easy to pronounce and pleasing to the American ear (like Kijiji, a communal website with a Swahili name meaning “village”).

Win: Hulu

Good empty vessel name for an entertainment company that wants to keep its options open. (Interestingly, the word means “empty gourd” in Mandarin.) The rhyming word is playful, and by evoking hula hoops, it suggests fun.

Fail: Jwaala

Talk about a tongue-twister.

The Coming Decade

As for Internet company naming trends of the coming decade: Companies will demand more meaningful brand names, as far from Web 2.0 flights of fancy as possible; they’ll be willing to pay a premium for real-word or lightly coined domain names; and they will be creative in the messages they explore—as long as they’re relevant to the brand.

Like Internet companies themselves, it appears, Internet naming will be coming back down to earth.

Mispelllllling intenshional

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

stopFrom an early age, we’re taught that misspellings are a no-no. In school, they can lower your grade. In the professional world, they can mean missing out on an opportunity. But when it comes to your URL, you might want to consider registering one or several misspellings of your domain. Why? Because unlike your fifth grade English teacher, many of us are poor spellers.

Case in point: I have a friend who can’t spell his way out of a paper bag. One day he asked me to check his spelling on something and I came across the word “braw.” When I told him he spelled “bra” wrong, he replied, “Oh, did I leave off the ‘w’?”

He’s not the only one out there, which is why we need to anticipate how they might misspell our company names when doing a Google search.

For example, if your company is named Lemon Anchovies, we’ll assume your URL is LemonAnchovies.com. But you might also consider registering LemonAnchovees.com and maybe even LeminAnchovies.com.  The cost of registering additional domains is little in comparison to the business potential of grabbing new customers. And really, just because they can’t spell, that doesn’t mean they can’t spend.