Online Communities: “Friend” Them or …

“A groundswell is rising among your customers. Are you ready?” In case I haven’t mentioned it recently, there’s a business book called Groundswell that is worth every dime and minute you spend on it.

Buy This Book.

I recommend it often to clients and colleagues as an excellent primer on how to tame and master the art of social media marketing.

In Groundswell, two of Forrester Research’s top analysts show you how to turn the force of customers connecting to your own advantage. There’s targeted, memorable advice in the book, backed up with real-world ROI to prove it works.

Groundswell is more highlighted, tagged and dog-eared than any other book within reach of my desk.

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World’s Busiest Port is…

… no longer Singapore. It’s now Shanghai.

Shanghai, China: Top Port

China’s State Council, or cabinet, has set an aim of making Shanghai a leading shipping center by 2020 — the same year by which the government hopes the city will become a global financial center.

I expect China’s inland manufacturing centers will also spur growth even further, and in fact many of those cities will be among the top 10 world’s busiest ports… as air, rail and some maritime infrastructure boosts their growth.

Read more.

Sales Channel Communication Tools

Among the many online and automated forms of communicating with channel partners recommended by Hanson Marketing — all of which are intended to ENHANCE and not REPLACE person-to-person contact, right class? — two are particular favorites. We prefer them for their quick and responsive handling and speed (just like your favorite sports car)

NING: Huh? NING is your very own social networking site… like a custom Facebook. This nifty social marketing tool became part of my channel marketing toolkit when our hard-working PR agency pitched it… and at a price tag of FREE, I have expanded its function by inviting channel resellers to join. What is it? Take a look here.

Constant Contact: Back when dinosaurs roamed Earth, my weekly outbound correspondence was via automated fax transmissions. All the news fit to print on one, black and white, curly piece of paper. Now, Constant Contact and similar solutions unleash a can of powerful, quasi-personal communications tools. A channel leader can reach all or parts of his active partner roster, with rich visuals, polls, and calls to action. A good reseller becomes a great one, when armed with industry- and product-specific info, and a brief, valuable newsletter does the job.

Tip: Think of what you’d say to the channel partner if you had 5 minutes, face-to-face… then put it in writing and send it!

TechAmerica San Diego’s 2011 Trends and Forecasts

Hanson Marketing co-hosted the kickoff session for TechAmerica San Diego’s Marketing and Sales Roundtable this week. Participants got to witness the San Diego debut of TechAmerica Foundation’s CyberCities Report, and were treated to an informative market trend report, courtesy of UPS.

Paul Weddle, Director of High-Tech Sector Enterprise Sales for UPS, was guest speaker. Kevin Carroll, Regional Director for TechAmerica presented the CyberCities Report, a concise summary of research into tech sector growth around the nation, in terms of jobs, salaries, and new business activity.

Takeaways from Paul’s talk:
China’s economic growth plan includes strong incentives to move ODM operations to its growing inland metropolises… feeds the nation’s employment engine, and seeds regional economic development. I’d also watch how China builds up its aviation and rail infrastructure, to enable and accommodate this distribution of the nation’s manufacturing sector wealth.

E-waste laws in the US now exist in 23 states, signalling mandatory recycling fees upon purchase of goods, but also a sign of growth for a new service sector: outsourced recycling operations.

SaaS solutions are driving corporate IT spending levels back to pre-2010 levels; 70% of CIOs polled expect to adopt some form of Cloud Computing solutions. That’s great news for providers of professional services and consulting. Again, outsourcing potential.

Logistics = opportunity for innovation. As a customer service differentiator, a driver for cost savings and improved efficiency, and as a competitive advantage. A topic near and dear to UPS’s heart… in fact, their new tagline says “we (heart) logistics”.

The event is the first of six which will be hosted by the Marketing and Sales Roundtable, with topics ranging from “Cold Calls No More…” to “Power Up Mobile Marketing” to “Sales on Steroids”. They’re great events for brushing up on skills and exchanging bright ideas with other, area tech pros.

Follow TechAmerica San Diego Marketing and Sales Roundtable on LinkedIn.

Put Trade Agreements to Work for Your Company

The International Trade Administration at the US Department of Commerce takes the lead on Market Access and Compliance (MAC), to assist exporters expand their share of the global export market.

MAC’s core mission is to aggressively support US business interests abroad, leveraging diplomatic, law enforcement and trade agreements with foreign trading partners. The ITA team, located throughout the US and at overseas offices, has a great track record of staying in lockstep with US companies involved in global trade. They think and act with a sense of urgency, which those of us who’ve worked in the startup sector can truly appreciate.

Trade barriers are legal (tariffs, embargos) and illegal (piracy and counterfeiting) The work done by the MAC division at ITA is shaped by real-world challenges faced by American exporters and workers.

What we commonly define as “Barriers” is open to debate, but nearly all of us might apply the term to any of these three scenarios:

procurements by foreign governments that favor particular suppliers

higher taxes in foreign markets than similar, locally produced products

difficulty protecting or enforcing IP in a particular country

The more complex, unique, or technical your company’s solutions, the more you need to know about MAC.

Check out yet another valuable federal resource, TCC On-Line (www.trade.gov/tcc). Need to report a trade barrier? Visit the site and click on Report A Barrier.

STOP Fakes: Exporting Your Intellectual Property

Protecting your company’s intellectual property in global sales transactions means ensuring that America’s creative and innovation assets remain valuable and relevant, able to overcome illegal trade barriers raised by piracy. That covers every exporting American company, whether they sell products or services.

There’s a federal government initiative run by the US Department of Commerce called Strategy Targeting Organized Piracy (STOP!), a comprehensive program that makes it easier for rights holders to obtain and enforce their IP rights at home and abroad. Its ultimate goal is to leverage international law enforcement tie-ins to dismantle the criminal networks that manufacture and distribute fake goods.

If you have not already secured your company’s intellectual property rights, then start your own STOP today. Call 1-866-999-HALT or visit www.stopfakes.gov

Japan’s Consumer Segments

Meeting Japan's Consumers Face-on

Quick: guess which age group among Japan’s consumer segments is referred to as Parasite Singles? (see below)

Silvers – aged 65+, this first group will make up 30% of the nation’s population by 2025. The revered generation, they’re seeking health- and fitness-related products, and practicality when they spend their yen. Community parks and recreation centers are being retrofitted to accommodate the social and fitness needs of Silvers, since there are so few children in most neighborhoods. More self-responsibility for retirement planning is underway here, as well as in the second set…
Dankai Generation – Japan’s baby boomers, now pushing 60 years old. Pursuing health and fitness to prolong and maintain life, as with their Silver parents; plus hobby- and travel-related spending.
Dankai Juniors – the third age set falls in the late 30s… children of boomers. Working, raising one or no children, seeking child-focused, in-home entertainment, leisure items.
Parasite Singles – 4th of 5, these are singles who work full-time yet still live with their parents. Primarily women, number about 8.3 million consumers. Value luxury, travel, socializing, fashion.
Fuyu-so – last but not least, Japan’s very own jet setters. This upper crust is growing and it even has a new name: fuyuso, the free-spending super-rich. But let’s face it: jet-setters, it’s a case of “same planet, different worlds.” Accordingly, product marketers and selling teams need a unique solution for this thinnest of slivers in the consumer segments.

Top of mind for all global market planners should be this: the fact that, by the year 2050 the nation of Japan’s population will decrease drastically. Now pegged at 127 million, the nation will count just 95 million in 40 years. That’s a whopping drop within a span of just 1.5 generations. Ensure you focus on product features such as intuitive interface, comfortable fit, and sustaining healthy, mobile lifestyles. How about honing your company’s solutions for outsourcing professional services? There won’t be enough native-born, entry- and mid-level workers to ensure highly-personalized finance, insurance, and accounting services.

(Photo courtesy Wired Magazine, Sep-07.)

CES Wraps in Vegas; 140,000+ Attended

CEA, owners and producers of the annual Consumer Electronics Show event, has another one under their belt, one to brag about.

Major technology trends emerged from the CES show floor, including the launch of more than 80 tablets, wireless 4G LTE, connected TV technologies, smart appliances — featured for the first time in show history — and electric vehicles.

Ford Motor’s Alan Mulally unveiled the company’s first electric car at the 2011 International CES with its Ford Focus Electric. Interesting to note that Ford opted to hype this new product line via this consumer venue, alongside the annual car show.

Of note? More than 30,000 international participants… that’s 20% of total headcount. This global technology gathering featured more innovation, more news, more social media buzz and more international attendance than any other show in CES history.

The International CES will return to Las Vegas next January 10-13, 2012.

Successful Export of Agricultural Products in 2011

Hanson Marketing has made great use of several tried and true, publicly-run business development agency programs when establishing selling channels worldwide. Among them is the Foreign Agricultural Service at the US Department of Agriculture. In 2010, we took part in a novel program in Brazil, on behalf of our client who makes gourmet sea salt in Hawaii. The Sao Paulo office of USDA connected us, at no charge, with a pre-qualified short list of prospective wholesale channel partners. The process was soup-to-nuts: all we did was ship a set of samples and literature to their US address (how easy!) and they took it from there. Though sales have not yet materialized, must say it was a smoothly run operation, and a great example of how a public agency thinks and responds like a private company. Total cost to participate? Zero.

In 2011, the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) is leading the way for exporters of US-grown agriculture products to meet new channel partners and customers at a series of valuable selling events. Also, check out this national trade association of state agriculture commissions here.

Scan this one-pager listing key shows for 2011. Choose a market, then go!

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Retailer Plays Wholesaler in Caribbean

Recently, Hanson Marketing learned about international expansion activity by Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse, who sells directly to customers in Caribbean nations. Lowe’s directs buyers to its eight southern Florida retail locations to do the shopping (online) and quotes retail prices to commercial accounts as well as to individual shoppers. While prices are quoted at retail, it seems that the retailer’s variety, quality and price ranges make it attractive even to commercial buyers.

To date, neither Lowe’s nor Home Depot have any physical presence in the Caribbean, as volume and purchasing power don’t justify store placement. So, Lowe’s global retail-wholesale solution seems like the next best thing, and probably sets them up as authorized supplier for procurement by regional government and NGO/non-profits, too.

Interesting move to capture sales in a fast-growing, still-developing part of the Western Hemisphere.

Meanwhile, we see growth in the Caribbean for club warehouse retailers such as PriceSmart, offering finished goods and perishable food items to same customers.

Read up on the Lowe’s activity in the Caribbean here. And click here to see their trade-focused advertising: SKMBT_C45010123014400

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