- Issue #1 September 2018 -
THIS MONTHS ARTICLES
Many small businesses make the mistake of overlooking branding efforts because they think of themselves as a business and not a brand. Brands, they think, are the big fish in the pond with huge budgets and national recognition. Resigned to their supposed small-fish status, small businesses do little more than come up with a fun logo and some flashy business cards.
But branding is important for businesses of all sizes because it increases their value, gives employees direction and motivation, and makes acquiring new customers easier.
Here are 5 reasons why branding is important for your small business.
#1 Branding Creates Trust
When a company presents themselves in a professional way, and when there is social proof that their products and service are quality, prospects will trust that company and feel more comfortable giving it their hard-earned money.
#2 Branding Improves Recognition
While your logo should not be the be-all-end-all of your branding efforts, you should still put the time and effort into coming up with a professionally-designed, memorable logo. Not only should your logo be memorable, it should give the desired impression of your company so when people see it, they instantly think and feel what you want them to think and feel.
#3 Branding Supports Your Marketing Efforts
Marketing is an important component of your brand. The mediums and channels chosen as well as the demographic targeted helps to build your brand. Be careful of too narrow of a marketing focus, or you’ll risk being “pigeon holed” and lose your ability to expand into new markets. Then again, too broad of a marketing focus could lead to an inability to create a definable impression of your company in consumers’ minds.
#4 Branding Motivates Employees
Anyone can hire employees, but only a strong brand can hire motivated employees that are inspired to carry your vision and mission forward. When your brand feels pride, your employees do as well. Having a strong brand is essential for employee morale and productivity.
#5 Branding Generates New Revenue
Branding is one of the best ways to get referral or word-of-mouth business. And again, this is why it’s important that your logo, marketing, and reputation work cohesively to form an indelible impression on consumer minds. Think about it, you can’t tell your friend about the amazing golf clubs you just
bought if you can’t remember the brand. Now that you know why it’s important to develop a solid branding strategy, here are a few ways you can do it:
Always Have Your Customer in Mind
Your brand must align itself with your customers’ needs and wants. When starting any branding campaign, always have your customer in mind.
Create Messaging That Illustrates Your Value
You’ve got to create a direct and simple message of WHY your brand should matter to your customer. Most consumers don’t have the time or inclination to figure this out on your behalf. Your brand must create a story that answers the question, “why you?”
If you give consumers a reason to care and feel something about your brand, they have a reason to
buy. Most people make purchasing decisions based on emotions not logic, so create an emotion in your prospects every time they see your brand.
No matter what size they are, the most successful businesses are the ones that have established
themselves as a leader in their industry by creating a strong brand. And, when these businesses
focus on building valuable customer experiences, they easily transform customers into brand ambassadors.
Big data and its impact on business decision making
What is big data?
The act of gathering and storing large amounts of information for eventual analysis is ages old. However, a new term but with an almost similar usage have come about, Big Data.
Big data can be described by its name only, a large volume of data, which can be structured or unstructured. It has become vital for every organisation to be able to decode and decipher the key insights which one draw from bog data. The ability to extract sensible intelligence from big data has been a challenge for many industries. The right technological tools are required to be able to extract useful information from a large volume of data set. If one can achieve high accuracy and precision in analyzing the big data then higher profits and lower input costs would become a mere matter.
BREAKING DOWN ‘Big Data’
The increase in the amount of data available presents both opportunities and problems. In general, having more data on one’s customers (and potential customers) should allow companies to better tailor their products and marketing efforts in order to create the highest level of satisfaction and repeat business.
Companies that are able to collect large amount of data are provided with the opportunity to conduct deeper and richer analysis. This data can be collected from publicly shared comments on social networks and websites, voluntarily gathered from personal electronics and apps, through questionnaires, product purchases, and electronic check-ins. The presence of sensors and other inputs in smart devices allows for data to be gathered across a broad spectrum of situations and circumstances.
Challenges of Using Big Data
While better analysis is a positive, big data can also create overload and noise. Companies have to be able to handle larger volumes of data, all the while determining which data represents signals compared to noise. Determining what makes the data relevant becomes a key factor. Furthermore, the nature and format of the data can require special handling before it is acted upon. Structured data, consisting of numeric values, can be easily stored and sorted. Unstructured data, such as emails, videos, and text documents, may require more sophisticated techniques to be applied before it becomes useful.
Big data is most often stored in computer databases and is analyzed using software specifically designed to handle large, complex data sets. Many Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) companies specialize in managing this type of complex data. Data analysts look at the relationship between different types of data, such as demographic data and purchase history, to determine whether correlation exists. Businesses often use the assessment of big data by such experts turn it into actionable information. Such assessments may be done in-house within a company or externally by a third-party who focuses on processing big data into digestible formats.
Nearly every department in a company can utilize findings from data analysis, from human resources and technology to marketing and sales. The goal of big data is thus to increase the speed at which products get to market, to reduce the amount of time and resources required to gain market adoption, and to ensure that customers remain satisfied.
Business Uses Of Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality (VR) might have started life as a niche product in the gaming industry, but its benefits have now transferred into the wider business sphere. With VR, businesses can create true to life simulations in risk free, cost effective ways. The applications of VR and AR (Augmented Reality) are limited only by our own imaginations. Whilst the technology still has some way to go before it hits the mainstream, here are five important business applications for VR that are in use right now.
Training is one of the most important applications of VR. In 2017, Walmart partnered with Virtual Reality creator Strivr , to prepare employees for its Black Friday sales. Immersing employees in a lifelike environment of long queues and crowds is the perfect way to prepare them for events which are not an everyday occurrence. It also removes the need to disturb normal business operations for training purposes. In a more individual example of VR training, Oculus VirtualSpeech helps users practice their public speaking skills in a simulated environment. Speakers can upload their presentation slides to the virtual room, experience distractions, and receive real time feedback on their delivery. In the medical sector, VR enables healthcare professionals to practice in a risk free environment that would be impossible in the real world. Oculus worked with the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles (CHLA) to train staff for high risk paediatric trauma cases.
Retail offers some of the most explicitly commercial applications of VR. In brick and mortar shops, VR heat mapping technology such as that from Yulio VR tracks a shopper’s gaze in store, providing a detailed pattern of which areas or products attract their attention. This enables retailers to test and refine their displays, signage and store layout to maximise consumer experience and spending. VR also enables shoppers to explore products in a life like way. In 2016 Ikea launched its Virtual Reality Kitchen Experience in Australia to help customers discover kitchen features and imagine how they would feel in their own home. According to a 2017 survey by L.E.K. Consulting, around 70 per cent of early tech adopters were eager to use AR and VR technology for shopping purposes. VR stores are never crowded, have highly attentive assistants, and facilitate a highly personalised shopping experience.
The use of Virtual Reality in construction has a host of benefits. VR platforms such as those provided by Iris VR enable architects to walk clients through their designs before they have been built, supplying vital opportunities for feedback and alteration. The ability to explore construction plans in 1:1 scale through VR also bridges the gap between the real world and a designer’s imagination – letting them visualise the full scale effect of their designs. Virtual Reality portfolios have also evolved as a way for architects to showcase their work to prospective clients. New technology makes it easy to turn paper plans into 3D computer models, and then into immersive VR simulations. Exploring building designs through VR helps potential clients to better understand an architect’s work.
Data visualisation has come a long way since the days of the pie chart. Augmented and Virtual Reality make it possible to display data in 3D displays, which can then be interacted with in a dynamic manner. Founded in 2016, US company Virtualitics have created a virtual platform which merges Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and Mixed Reality to offer detailed and engaging data visualisation techniques. In the Virtualitics platform, users view, analyse, and work collaboratively on their data in their own VR space. Such a customisable approach makes sure that data analytics fulfils the needs of individual businesses. The innovative presentation of data through VR is an important step in discovering insights into business operations and finding potential outliers which need to be addressed.
VR has an important role in the manufacturing industry due to its unique applications in the design and prototyping process. Manufacturers such as aerospace giants Boeing and Airbus use the technology to eliminate the need for expensive, full scale prototypes of their designs. Since 2007, Airbus has used VR technology RAMSIS (Realistic Anthropological Mathematical System) to simulate the interior design of cabins. With a particular focus on ergonomics, RAMSIS enables Airbus to maximise the space inside aircraft cabins and improve customer comfort, whilst at the same time monitoring factors such as ease of component maintenance and installation. In the small space of aircrafts, small changes can have large impacts. The immersive experience of VR helps manufacturers to take a comprehensive view on alterations, including important safety features such as the reachability of oxygen masks and life jackets.
What is the best law firm marketing strategy in today’s digital world?
Lawyers and law firms are service providers selling you skills, not products. Marketing for lawyers is making your clients aware of your particular set of skills so they can be matched with a particular set of problems. Marketing your business or developing clients is vitally important for your law firm both
now and in the future.
The legal services industry is fiercely competitive with many thousands of lawyers, in any given practice field, vying for the same clients. Prior to the advent of the world wide web and online search, law firms – particularly small local law firms – could rely on the loyalty of its local and established clients to survive and to be profitable. The internet, however, has changed the established rules of practice completely.
Law firms increasingly find that their local clients or clients that have been instructing the same firm for many years are being targeted by other law firms via their online marketing efforts. Online marketing has given law firms the tools to attract clients from across the country and indeed the continent. In this competitive environment, having an effective marketing strategy in place gives law firms a significant competitive advantage over their competitors.
What is the best marketing strategy for law firms?
Specialised, thought leadership content marketing is the ideal lead gen strategy for law firms. Law firms tend to generate a lot of content as part of their business development, marketing and client relations efforts already. But this content is often under-utilised, often just published on the firm’s website or client portal, and email-blasted at sporadic intervals to a long list of clients and prospects. This type of content distribution does little to guarantee a return on the amount of time and effort put into creating the content in the first place. After all, if valuable hours are being spent creating high-quality content, it makes sense to maximise the reach and visibility of the content, and use it as a lead generation tool – put your best content (white papers, ebooks, webinars) behind a form and turn your readers into leads instead. The key to doing this is running integrated content marketing campaigns based around particular pieces of content, or series of related pieces. What ‘integrated’ refers to is connecting publishing channels and applying marketing automation, which will not only enable content to stretch further but also to reduce the amount of resource required to publish it. By running integrated campaigns, each piece of content becomes a valuable component of a whole package rather than a lone piece of information lacking context or purpose. Each piece of content builds on the preceding one, taking the consumer on a journey that draws them closer to the source. Importantly these pieces of content or series can be parts of a wider service. This is extremely valuable to law firms and provides a number of benefits beyond loosely tethering existing clients to the firm. A well-executed content marketing strategy helps law firms to:
- Gain industry recognition and differentiate themselves from other firms
- Position themselves as thought leaders in particular industries or practice groups
- Win new business by providing valuable information to clients and prospective clients
- Increase the potential of cross selling services to existing clients
- Gain referrals from existing clients who pass content onto friends and contacts
- Establish deeper relationships with existing clients and create a stickiness factor
As with almost everything of value, the more that is invested in a content marketing strategy the
more there is to be gained from it. However, when it comes to integrated content marketing
campaigns, once they are set up with the correct tools they do not require much additional resource
beyond the creation of the content.
Why are lawyers talking about Artificial Intelligence?
The debate about the role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) within the legal industry has been brewing for nearly two decades. But with AI playing an increasingly prominent role in other industries such as finance, accounting, marketing and healthcare, the debate about the role of AI in the legal industry has spilled from the very elite of the legal industry into every corner of the legal profession. The increasing willingness to give attention to how AI can help law firms deliver better legal services to clients is driven by the need to reduce overhead costs, which can result in cheaper legal services to clients and the increasing pressure from clients for more transparency regarding lawyers’ fees.
Furthermore, law firms are increasingly facing competition from non-legal entities such as the accountancy firms, as well as other ABS structured organisations, who are not only competing for the provision of legal services but are also approaching the delivery of legal services in new and innovative ways. So as law firms continue to pay lawyers hundreds of thousands of pounds in base salary alone, tech companies are figuring out how to automate so many of these tasks using machine learning and artificial intelligence(AI).
Will Artificial Intelligence replace lawyers?
As with almost everything of value, the more that is invested in a content marketing strategy the more there is to be gained from it. However, when it comes to integrated content marketing campaigns, once they are set up with the correct tools they do not require much additional resource beyond the creation of the content.
The current crop of computers and consequentially, AI systems developed, are digital. That means they think in terms of 1s and 2s, true or false statements and essentially follow logical statements. The human mind, on the other hand, follows a logarithmic nature of thought. If you are familiar with mathematics, this can be put this way – computers are based on digits while the human mind is based on functions.
Upcoming projects have seen teams experimenting with analogue computers, as opposed to digital computers. These analogy computers trace back to the age of the first computers. The technology then showed digital computers to be far more practical when compared to analogue computers. But the current technology allows for effective analogue computers. This means, they can think based on logarithmic processes of thought too. Simply put, they will have the nature of the human mind and a hardware that far exceeds it. Yes, they will be way smarter than humans. But they cannot replace human minds. Why? Because they do not have emotional intelligence that makes the human mind so dynamic in terms of decision making.
Computers can only follow mathematical models of thought and the concepts like ambition, greed and even love are thrown out of the door along with survival instincts unless we are smart enough to find a way to put them in the AI systems and are dumb enough to actually put them. Without emotional intelligence, there is no will to try and take over.
Artificial Intelligence will change the way we live for sure. It will also destroy the kind of jobs we have right now as it is being built to replace the Human intellect, but if approached the right way this will present huge opportunities for law firms and lawyers in general. Like the internet revolution or any kind of industry revolution, it will be disruptive for the legal services industry and law firms who are the early-adopters and who understand AI will reap the benefits of it. The good thing is human beings also evolve with the tools they use; so on one hand it is a good thing because initially all the jobs and tasks that AI will take over from lawyers are the ones that generally lawyers find monotonous. Naturally this will provide lawyers with more time to spend and focus on the complex tasks that they really want to resolve. On a more general note regarding the threat posed by AI, it is important to note that one of the greatest abilities of humans is their Survival Instinct. AI may cost a little along the way due to our ignorance but eventually human beings will be victorious. Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma has a very Interesting view on this. He says “Humans will win in the war with the machines because Machine can be trained to gain knowledge but the Humans have wisdom”, this is really profound way of looking at it.