3 More Reasons Why New Orleans Should Host Every Super Bowl

velocity New Orleans, Timeline

Nate Scott published an article in USA today giving 10 reasons why New Orleans should be the only city to host a Super Bowl and as a local I agree. I want to expand on what he offered, and I may reiterate a few of his points here, but I want to expand on them as a local.

Resiliency

For one thing, New Orleanians are resilient. We recovered from Katrina, the costliest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic with $108 billion in property damage. Five years later we dealt with and overcame the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. No matter what you throw at us, we come back. Any challenges that come with a Superbowl are handled with ease.

 

We are the home of the party (and the police who can control it)

We’ve hosted 10 Super Bowls, 5 Final Four’s, and one Republican National Convention, and when you add in annual events like Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest, if there is one thing New Orleans excels at it’s throwing a party.

We also have at least a hundred festivals happening throughout the city in any given year and our police officers are sent to other cities in the US to train them in crowd control. If you can think of a better place to have a party, let me know but I think New Orleans has them beat.

The food

Scott mentioned the food in his article but what he left out is that both Saveur magazine and Thrillist have named us number one food city in the nation. The restaurants here are some of the best in the world and south Louisiana has a unique cuisine that you can’t find anywhere else.

 

Bonus:

All the companies that come in and need to produce events in coordination with the Super Bowl can hire the premier event design business in the south, Velocity’s own Event Design Build.

9 Apps to Improve Your Mardi Gras Experience

velocity Mobile Technology, New Orleans

One of the things about working in technology is that it is easy to see how technology can help make things better and Mardi Gras is no exception. As the Fat Tuesday weekend gets underway we wanted to give you a few apps that might help you avoid some headaches and enjoy the weekend ahead.

Getting there and Getting Home

Waze

If you are driving I’d recommend Waze. The more people on the road the better it’s crowd-sourced traffic data works, making Mardi Gras the perfect time to use it. Waze alerts you to traffic jams, accidents, road hazards, and my favorite feature, warns you of police ahead. Oh, and Google owns it so it’s reliable. Download it now. iOS | Android

Transit Tracker – New Orleans RTA

The best way to get downtown during Mardi Gras is public transportation. The French Quarter is closed to driving from Friday evening until midnight Tuesday, so driving there is impossible. Even if you try, you won’t be able to find a place to park as people tend to rent the spots in the private pay lots for the whole 5-day stint. Transit Tracker will allow you to put in your starting location and desired destination and it will show you which buses or streetcars will get you there and where you will need to walk. It also has real-time GPS data on the bus/streetcar locations, but this is reliant on the RTA actually keeping the trackers in working conditions. If the past is any indication, this could be a hit-or-miss thing. iOS only

Google Maps

When you are downtown, Google Maps is still the best map for walking around and finding restaurants, bars, and hotels. Google has the best database of business listings and it loads fast. You should already have this app, if not, STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND DOWNLOAD IT! NOW!!!! iOS | Android

 
Uber

I was hesitant to add this one because surge pricing will likely be in effect all weekend and getting an Uber will be expensive. But if you’ve got the budget for it, rock-n-roll. iOS | Android

 

PARADE NAVIGATION

There are several parade tracker apps that will give you the schedule, real time location, and in some cases some history of each Mardi Gras krewe.

Arthur Hardy’s Mardi Gras Guide

Originally started as a print publication in 1977 it’s morphed over time and it now available as both an iPhone and iPad app. If you want the history of Mardi Gras, background on the krewes, and what the hot throw is, along with the usual date, time, and route maps, this is the guide for you. iOS | Android


WWL TV and WDSU Parade Tracker Apps

Two of the local TV news stations have their own branded parade tracker apps. They are fast loading, pretty much offer the same features, and are free. They both show you routes, times, and give you a real-time update on the where their vehicle is along the route (usually near the front of the parade). These apps are great to give you an idea of how long you will be waiting for parade once you have staked out your spot along the route. WWL iOS | Android WDSU iOS | Android

 

Utility

AirPnP

One of the things about Mardi Gras is there ain’t no place to pee on Mardi Gras Day. This is such a local colloquialism that it was immortalized in a song by local celebrity band, Benny Grunch and the Bunch. This app provides you with a map of places to relieve yourself on Mardi Gras day without risking a misdemeanor charge and fine. There are free locations and ones that charge but when you got to go, you’ll pay almost anything. iOS | No Android, but there is a web app

Communication


SMS

Trying to make a phone call along a parade route is an exercise in futility. It has something to do with the massive numbers of people in close proximity and the amount of bandwidth a given cell tower can handle, but no matter the reason the result is the same, you can’t make a call. No download needed

 

 

GOOGLE: Better Than YELP

velocity Mobile Technology, New Orleans

To YELP quite literally means “to Howl, Yap, Screech, or Cry.”

Think about that the next time you regard a “Yelper” as a legitimate anything.

Since moving to New Orleans from the REAL culinary capital of the South, Lafayette, my girlfriend and I have made it a goal to try a different culinary establishment each week and give it a true taste-test. Being the Google AdWords Manager at Velocity Agency, it is my natural instinct to Google “Best Restaurant Near Me” rather than ask locals. Upon searching, there is a bevy of places that pop up. I narrow my destination upon two factors: ratings and types of food. One place caught my eye with its 4.5-star rating with over 170 reviews and Creole description, Jacques-Imo’s.

When doing a random search, it is easy to overlook all the amenities Google provides to help you in your decision. When searching Jacques-Imo’s, not only did it show salivating pictures of Southern dishes known to this region, but you can view their menu, hours of operation, and also click the map to give you directions from your current location. But, you already knew that. The features that Google recently added that are really captivating are the popular times feature. It shows which times you can expect the largest crowd. This is based on the users who have chosen to store their location information on Google servers and average out over the previous weeks. This feature is used for restaurants, bar, gyms, or other establishments Google deems relevant.

The other feature that Google recently rolled out is to make a reservation. All you have to do is simply click on the restaurant of choice to show more options, select the size of the party, and chose a time. Voila! Your table is waiting. However, to use this feature, the restaurant must use Open Table. Sadly, Jacques-Imo’s did not have this functionality, so we had to stand outside and wait (so 2012). These are just some of the features Google has provided to make our indecisive lives and future New Orleans tasting tour that much easier.

Virtual reality in the palm of your hand

velocity Digital Innovation, Mobile Technology

As technology increases at an exponential rate, the public is being integrated into the technological realm faster and faster. With advancements such as 3D printers, voice recognition software and hover boards, the world we inhabit is slowly becoming what was once only imagined in a sci-fi movie. Thanks to another innovation by Google, virtual reality has become a physical reality.

Google Cardboard has brought the world of virtual reality to the comfort of your home, in the palm of your hand. Cardboard gives the user full submersion into a 360-degree virtual world. The purpose of Cardboard is to encourage the development of virtual reality applications and to make these applications available at a low cost.

One application of Google Cardboard being tested is virtual field trips for students. The affordability of Cardboard, and the authenticity of its virtual worlds provides students with an opportunity otherwise unattainable. Through Cardboard, the students can travel across the globe to locations far from reach, even underwater and the surface of Mars. Each student will view the selected reality through Cardboard, while the instructor uses a tablet to conduct a guided tour and point out learning objectives.

When should students expect to travel across the world from their desks? The Expeditions Pioneer Program is currently scouting locations to introduce Cardboard into the classroom. This program came to New Orleans through Loyola University to spread awareness, and revealed that it hopes to be inside schools as soon as the 2016-2017 school year. Aside from the occasional student catching a case of motion sickness, Google Cardboard looks to have a promising future in schools of five countries.

How Can Retailers Capitalize on the International E-commerce Opportunity this Christmas?

velocity Seasonal

With the global market for cross-border e-commerce valued at $230 Billion in 2014, and predicted to surge to $1 Trillion by 2020, the business opportunity for online retailers has never been greater[1]. International consumers are increasingly favoring shopping from the comfort of their own homes and this is even more appealing during the holiday period, as it avoids the big crowds and stress that Christmas shopping entails. Empowered by the supercomputer in their pocket, consumers are in control. With nearly every 18-54 year-old using a smartphone[2], it comes as no surprise that consumer expectations will reach new heights when it comes to shopping across channels and devices.

Research from Adobe’s Digital Index suggests this year’s festive season now represents 20% of worldwide online spending[3]. With Christmas offering a massive amount of potential revenue for retailers, ambitious brands need to make sure they have the right processes in place to capitalize on the online opportunity – not just nationally, but globally.

International e-commerce promises a great deal of revenue potential for retailers as it offers brands an unprecedented ability to quickly grow businesses internationally, enabling them to offer their goods to customers in foreign markets. Commitment to delivering a seamless shopping experience, without the need for a physical presence, will be the driving force global online sales this Christmas.

The problem is, many retailers often struggle to match impressive homeland sales in international markets. This is due to various cross-border barriers to e-commerce such as high shipping rates, unknown import duties, inefficient returns, and difficulties supporting local currencies and payment methods. These issues take on new weight in the competitive Christmas climate where poor customer service will send shoppers elsewhere.

 

The following four considerations are a necessity[4]:

  1. Have multiple shipping options at reasonable rates. Providing a simple and risk-free returns process is crucial for every customer, as it gives them confidence to buy online with you.
  2. Offer the local currency. There are few things more off-putting to online shoppers than the need to calculate the cost in their own currency while browsing, not to mention exchange rates.
  3. Always aim to put the customer’s mind at ease. Avoid any potential surprises for customers by being upfront about these transactional costs.
  4. In most cases, avoid translating your website content or building local sites. These tasks require high investment and usually generate low return. Therefore, hold off on any action until you have proven yourself within the new market(s).

 

The key rule of international trade is that, in order to be successful, customers must enjoy a great shopping experience regardless of their location. This is where the much-forgotten, often disregarded, user experience (UX) is paramount. To keep customers engaged, retailers need to make sure their e-commerce portal is simple, intuitive, safe, and seamless.

These are some important UX considerations for e-commerce:

  1. Seamless touchpoints: Many consumers now utilize several devices before completing a single purchase – for example a shopper might research offers on a phone and complete the transaction on a laptop when he or she gets home. Retailers that allow consumers to move seamlessly between devices will come out on top this year. Remember that a mobile first strategy is becoming a prerequisite for an e-commerce presence.
  2. What I want, when I want, and where I want it: To succeed, companies must have a complete view of stock at all times and offer services like click and collect, specified delivery times, and even delivery lockers. It is the consumer that dictates transaction channels and fulfillment.
  3. Personalization: When consumers share their location, preferences and device information, retailers must use them to deliver messages in a tailored, non-intrusive, and relevant way.
  4. The new service experience: Intelligent retailers see the value in extending their services far beyond the basics. Some brands are two-way conversation with consumers and digitally connecting with them to provide insights and/or help with items purchased. Businesses can take advantage of the chance to become the go-to solution for customers’ needs by going above and beyond what’s offered by the competition.

 

Brands cannot afford to ignore the cross-border e-commerce opportunity this Christmas. Achieving this doesn’t necessarily require massive time and resource investment in-house either; retailers can find a global partner to better service their needs and meet international sales expectations, increasing the ROI of going global.

Technology partners can support retailers in providing a seamless international e-commerce experience and offer customers the level of service that is essential in the competitive retail market. Without the assurance of a localized experience, accurate timings for delivery and transparency in total cost of sale, retailers will see their consumers abandon purchases or move to competitor sites in a matter of clicks.

[1] www.global-e.com

[2] www.emarketer.com

[3] www.blogs.adobe.com/digitaldialogue/news-reports/christmas-online-shopping

[4] https://www.marketingtechblog.com/retailers-international-ecommerce/

Smartphone App Fatigue

velocity Mobile Technology, Research

Smartphone users are suffering from app fatigue. It seems like every week there is a new app I’m downloading: Uber, GetMyBoat, Afterlight, Enlight, PDF Pro, etc. The bad news for app makers is that I probably won’t keep the apps very long. It’s not just personal experience saying this, it’s data.

A new survey conducted by Research Now reports that 49% of US smartphone users use 6-10 smartphone apps a week. A Pew Research Center report adds a little more depth and says 30% of US smartphone app downloaders had 1-10 apps downloaded on their phone as of February; another 32% had 11-20. This report revealed different  usage numbers with 46% of respondents using 1-5 apps per week and only 35% using 6-10.

When looking at long-term usage the results get worse. According to AppsFlyer, most apps are not even kept a full day. Data from July 2015 showed 29.1% of apps download by Android users were retained for at least a day but it was only 25.5% for iOS users. At the end of 30 days 3.3% of Android and 3.2% of iOS users still had active users.

You should keep this data in mind when you are creating an app. The reality is that unless your app provides some sort of utility people won’t use it. For some brands this might be easy, like Kraft creating a recipe app. For others you will need to be creative, like Charmin who developed the ‘Sit or Squat’ app to help people find public restrooms. These apps provide a utility (i.e. solve a customer problem) that extends beyond the brand and may only be tangentially related to what you sell.

Velocity Vice President Guest Lectures at Loyola University

velocity Velocity News

Our Vice President, Kevin Conway, was invited to be a guest lecturer in Dr. Todd Bacile’s Electronic Marketing class at Loyola University New Orleans College of Business. Velocity has been working with Dr. Bacile to prepare future marketing students for the ever-evolving digital landscape. Based on our input, his Electronic Marketing Class has been re-designed to also train marketing students to be Google AdWords certified.

The class focuses on search marketing, but it also dives deep into social media marketing. Conway had the chance to speak with the students about the importance of mastering digital marketing technologies.

Mr. Conway said, “The age of making a pretty ad and throwing it over the wall is over.” He explained to the class how technological advances in the digital age allow us to pull back the curtain to track and monitor content in real-time.  While some firms cringe at the thought of analyzing data, at Velocity we live by it.

He said, “our team of analytics experts are always looking for new ways to turn data into opportunity – by opportunity, we mean ROI.” Conway continued, “This isn’t just your traditional web analytics; we provide detailed insight across all of our clients’ media to show them what’s working, what’s not, and how to adjust for optimization.”

After the class one of the students said via email, “much of what you said to us really resonated with me. I’ve spent some time in the music industry playing shows, and I never imagined that I would want to work with technology either. You gave me insight into something I have been curious about for a while and after hearing your story I would really like to learn more about search engine advertising and online marketing as a whole.”

Kevin Conway is an alumnus of Loyola receiving a dual JD/MBA in 2010.

UPDATE: We received a note from Dr. Todd Bacile at Loyola Univ. New Orleans. He said, “16 of my students have passed the first of two Google exams. A few more will pass the second exam to become AdWords certified in the next week.”

Additionally, the Fall issue of the Loyola Executive has an article where Dr. Bacile recalls that while talking about his class with a contact in the search marketing industry he broached the subject of having his students take the Google Adwords exam and the unnamed contact replied, “If I he [Bacile] could send a student to him already certified, he would offer them a job.” We can’t be certain, but we think we might know the identity of that contact.

The Power of Focus

velocity Professional Development

The Power of Focus

 

My pastor recently sat down and had lunch with Jack Nicklaus, and he asked him how he became such a great golfer. Nicklaus said he actually wanted to play football when he was young, but realized his hands were too small to be a quarterback. He also wanted to run track, but he was too slow. It was through this process of elimination that he got to golf as the sport he was going to play.

Nicklaus had many choices available to him, but he chose to focus on the one where he had the greatest chance of success. Peter Drucker says, “Concentration is the key to economic results. No other principle of effectiveness is violated as constantly as the basic principle of concentration … Our motto seems to be, let’s do a little bit of everything.”

The world’s best businesses focus relentlessly on becoming the best in their field. The Ritz-Carlton focuses on being the best hotel chain in the world through a best-in-practice Service Excellence Culture; this legendary service model has resulted in engaged employees and customers through the concept of empowerment. When you try to do too many things, you end up losing focus on a core-competence – becoming mediocre at an array of things rather than the best in the world at one.

If you are going to become the best at your job, vocation, or hobby, choose to focus on your strengths. We all have weaknesses, but time spent improving weaknesses will yield far fewer results than time spent focusing on strengths. If you are a great salesperson but bad manager, focus on being the best salesperson in the office and turn down a promotion to sales manager. If you are great at golf but mediocre at baseball, step off the diamond and spend your time on the green or driving range.

I’ll leave you with this quote from Seth Godin, “Just about everything you learned in school about life is wrong, but the wrongest thing might very well be this: Being well rounded is the secret to success.”

Twitter rolls out Moments and Facebook test Reactions

velocity Digital Innovation, Mobile Technology

The next time you login to Twitter you will notice a new icon on the bottom of your screen. The lightning bolt icon will allow you to access Twitter’s newest feature, Moments. Moments gives you access to trending stories on Twitter along with the most relevant tweets. There are several topic areas in Moments: Today, News, Sports, Entertainment, and Fun.

When you first enter Moments you will default onto the Today section, which is a collection of stories and videos from the various sections. News is selection of hard news stories and videos. For instance, when I logged in, I had live video and tweets from the recent terrorist attack in Israel show up. Sports is going to have the latest scores and sports-related stories trending on Twitter. Entertainment has tweets about new book releases, music and celebrity news, TV premieres, and fashion. Fun is where you find Buzzfeed-type stories and things that are trending that don’t fit into other categories.

This is a first attempt by Twitter to solve the question new users often ask, “I’m on Twitter now what do I do?” If you don’t follow anyone on Twitter, it can be a pretty underwhelming experience. Mentions give a new user something to do the first time they login. It also becomes a de facto source for breaking news. Considering how many journalist and news organizations use Twitter, I’m sure this is a welcomed feature.

 

Twitter Moments on iPhone

This week Facebook also began testing 6 new “reactions”

For years people have been clamoring for a dislike button, and Facebook has resisted. Well, Facebook finally decided to offer something beyond the “Like” button. The new options are “love,” “yay,” “wow,” “haha,” “sad,” and “angry.” These are quite similar to the emojis used in text messaging.

Facebook Test Reactions

 

Mark Zuckerburg felt that in certain cases people would like to display some empathy in certain situations and a “Like” wasn’t always the best choice. Facebook felt that these new “reactions” could help to make that choice easier for users. Currently the new feature is getting beta-tested with users in Ireland and Spain. No word yet from Facebook on if or when it will roll out to the rest of us.

 

WIRED TO CONNECT

velocity Market Information, Professional Development

Woman using an iPhone while sitting at her Mac with a USB key on the MacClients and potential clients continually ask me what industry is our specialty. From here, I know it is going to be an uphill battle in shifting perception. Lucky for me, shaping perception (for any industry) is my specialty.

Healthcare, Consumer Packaged Goods (“CPG”), Retail, Travel, Tourism, etc. all face the same problems (opportunities). Almost all industries are becoming more consumer focused and experience-driven, which creates a consistent set of marketing needs across all industries.

This means that we have to go back to a re-examination of the traditional 4-P’s of marketing – Product, Price, Place, and Promotion (one of those few things I remember/found useful from college) – and make a complete paradigm shift to the 5 C’s of digital marketing.

 

The evolution of data, technology, and communication, along with the changing dynamics in most industries is gradually putting the consumer at the center and in full control. The ecosystem is starting to respond to consumer’s emotional and functional needs. As is evident from the past, technologies and innovation do not disrupt categories, but consumers do.

Most brands are now aiming at an always-on, seamless, omni-channel experience that will inspire behavioral change and participation. The term “omni-channel” may be a marketing buzzword, but it refers to a significant shift: marketers now need to provide a seamless consumer experience, regardless of channel or device. Consumers can now engage with a company in a physical location, an online website, a mobile app, or through social media.

Digital marketers across all industries can achieve success if they focus on the 5 C’s of digital marketing in an era that can be best described as the ‘convergence era’.

The 5 C’s:

  1. Consumer
  2. Context
  3. Content
  4. Commerce
  5. Convergence

“We need to always place the CONSUMER at the center, both in strategy and execution. CONVERGENCE is needed at all levels to overcome the challenges of fragmentation and silos. The two channel agnostic pillars of a seamless experience is CONTENT and CONTEXT. If executed properly, these 4 C’s will organically drive COMMERCE,” said Mayur Gupta, Senior VP and Head of Digital at Healthgrades.

1. CONSUMER – The consumer is connected, informed, collaborative, social, and more empowered than ever before. The consumer is the extension of your brand. The consumer’s persona, buyer’s journey, and experience must be at the center of your strategy. You can replace consumer with customer or client – bottom line, behind every B2B or B2C, there is a person – the consumer of your content, products, and services.

2. CONTEXT – the power of contextual intelligence is the ability to personalize your engagement with the consumer. Context is about knowing and understanding behavior at any point in the relationship, across all touch-points, at all times. Context is about knowing the who, what, where, when, and most importantly, why the consumer wants something, and then delivering just that, at the right time and channel of preference.

3. CONTENT – Content must be influenced, inspired, and driven based on context – relevant and useful information that is delivered just in time, pervasively across the ecosystem (channel, device, and touch-point). “Content without context or context without the ability to inspire and influence content is both meaningless and will never drive behavioral change,” said Gupta.

4. COMMERCE – Anticipating the needs of the consumer and making it easy and fast to purchase is key. Ultimately, convenience always wins.

5. CONVERGENCE – The final C, and perhaps the most challenging for marketers is convergence. By placing the CONSUMER at the center of your strategy and execution framework, marketers must find ways to drive alignment across the business and the ecosystem by constantly and vigorously championing convergence. There are hundreds of marketing technology vendors that are focusing on the art of marketing convergence using CRM, marketing automation, communities, analytics and social networking.

I suppose now would be a good time to talk about what Convergence truly is:

  • Convergence: 1. an act or instance of converging. 2. A convergent state of quality. 3. The degree or point at which lines, objects, etc., converge.

Technology has come a long way since the early days of the 21st century. As it advanced, each type of media has evolved to become more portable and interactive. These different types of media and platforms have also quickly merged together. It’s a logical progression, feeding our insatiable appetite for technology and for progress.

As technology has advanced, so have the worlds of advertising, marketing, branding, PR, public affairs, content, publishing, and business strategy. Brands and marketers are now looking for ideas that are deeply connected to culture, which can align with societal changes and help shape them. As a result, companies are starting to converge to offer a new model and to enjoy the same benefits. It’s a natural result of the media convergence we have seen happening for decades.

In my business, the edge is the complete opposite of the traditional advertising agency. It is a new approach based on a new model for marketing in revolutionary times. And we’re not alone. Businesses throughout the world are discovering that convergence is fast becoming a key business model – one that will help them to stay lean, focused, and as profitable as possible without compromising on quality.

The biggest challenge, as marketers, is the journey from strategy to execution. With the consumer at the center of this ecosystem, strategy alone is not enough; the consumer demands real and tangible experiences. This is where we need to get real and deliver a seamless experience for the consumer, keeping his or her interest, needs, and desires at the center as a human being, not a segment.

Today’s consumers are empowered and their expectations are changing; transparency, authenticity, intelligence, and accessibility are the keys to success. Businesses and marketers must now focus on arguably the most important C-word in business – culture.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,” said Maya Angelou.

In today’s on-demand economy, relevance is the most important currency in business. To stay relevant, businesses must adopt a customer-first culture, knowing that the path to scale is a committed, common-sense approach with competent and confident employees who exhibit the character that inspires customer loyalty and advocacy. It may sound cliché, but smart businesses and marketers recognize the only constant is change. To stay relevant, you must have the courage and discipline to strategically change and evolve to mirror an ever-evolving global culture.

We, as marketers, can learn the ins and outs of any industry. Spend some time with me, give me the time to research your business and your financial statements, and I will understand your competitive (strategic) advantage and profit margins. Therefore, clients shouldn’t pay us for being experts in a specific industry, but rather experts in the human experience. The heart of all business and commerce is people, and we need to make them feel something.

Businesses need to stop looking for so-called “industry-specific experts” and focus on finding an agency that understands the ever-evolving consumer landscape. Moreover, businesses need to find an agency that understands the human experience and specializes in social connection.