Mar 24

Not Getting Enough Leads? Try Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing focuses on drawing the attention of potential customers to a brand or product.

Inbound marketing focuses on drawing the attention of potential customers to a brand or product. An agency will use several techniques to create brand awareness and attract customers to help grow a business. A large part of inbound marketing strategy utilizes marketing automation, SEO, content marketing, email marketing, social media, blogs and more.

To clarify the difference between outbound and inbound marketing, one can look at it like this: Outbound marketing works to directly attract customers, whereas inbound marketing is aimed at creating awareness about a company and increasing its visibility; this is particularly important for online searches for products or services.

We all know how important the internet has become when it comes to gathering and distributing information. People have become accustomed to finding what they want at any time, no matter where they are. Where we used to say “I’ll look it up,” we now say “I’ll Google it.” This is true whether we’re looking for general information, specifically want to buy a product or need to find a particular service.

The truth is, the internet has made us lazy. We can find anything we need without leaving our seat. This means that consumers will search for an item online and usually won’t look much further than the first few results shown by their internet search engine. This has made inbound marketing (using marketing automation amoung other items) essential to the survival of any modern business. People want information brought to them; no one wants to spend too much time searching. Without a visible presence online, a brand will go unnoticed.

Online marketing requires a good mix of science, creativity and strategy. This takes experience and innovative thinking. Digital agencies offering marketing, web design and SEO services are everywhere these days. They all come with bold promises. The problem is that you can never be sure of the service you’re getting. A few months down the line and thousands of dollars later, you could find that you’re no better off than you were before you engaged the services of a so-called digital expert.

So what should you look for?

Experience

Marketing relies a lot on current trends, and the industry is full of young and fast paced thinkers. Being on top of current trends plays an important role in getting your message to the modern consumer. However, this can only take you part of the way. As in any industry, experience trumps all when it comes to successful marketing. To remain relevant in the marketplace, you need energy and enthusiasm. To maintain your position, you need experience. You want an agency that is both dynamic and has a high level of industry experience. This gives them the ability to face any challenge.

Understanding of your business

Every business is unique and their brand is a part of this unique identity. In order to represent you and your brand, an agency has to understand you and your business. This takes a specific dedication to you as a client. All too often, marketing agencies adopt a one-size-fits-all approach to their clients. This limits their ability to fully recognize your potential and ultimately grow your business.

Comprehensive approach

Inbound marketing makes use of a lot of tools to help achieve results. It requires innovative thinking, a scientific approach and above all an understanding of you and your customer. For a marketing agency to effectively represent your brand, these skills have to come together seamlessly to give you a polished website, good online presence and a brand that attracts positive attention. This is crucial to promoting sustainable growth for your business.

To sum things up

Your primary aim as a business owner is to maximize your sales potential. In order to achieve this, you need to have an effective inbound marketing strategy. This is a simple fact of doing business these days.

In order to get your business noticed, you’ll need an agency that you can trust. You want an agency that embodies all the factors I’ve listed above. As you may well know, this isn’t too easy to find. So it’s a good idea to look into an agency’s track record and make sure that they can deliver on what they promise.

Photo credit: Shutterstock / Rawpixel.com

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Mar 23

Big eyebrows are big business for start-ups

Big eyebrows are big business for start-ups

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Mar 22

Product And Platform

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When Snap – the parent company of the popular social media application, Snapchat – made its recent debut as a public company, a full coterie of technology journalists, investors and analysts debated its long-term prospects. Will Snap displace Facebook as the internet’s global behemoth, or is it the next Twitter – a tool beloved by journalists and sports fans, but limited in its broad appeal and ability to monetize? Will Facebook leverage its vast resources to reverse-engineer the most popular elements of Snap? Will Snap demonstrate generational or age-specific appeal?

These are all legitimate questions that compel focus on a limited but meaningful subset of metrics: daily active user growth, aggregate advertising revenue, average revenue per user (or, ARPU), geographic reach, and user demographics. But when I take measure of Snap, or any other internet company, I apply a different lens. Rather than read tea leaves in search of forward financial returns, I’m interested in whether a company shows a durable ability to disrupt and refashion the broader ecosystem.

To that end, my first question of any technology company is: are you a product company, or a platform company?

Product companies begin by building hardware or applications (either consumer-facing or business-facing) that often enable new activities or automate, streamline, and simplify older ones. My industry – advertising technology – offers a useful example. Many early “ad tech” companies introduced products into the market that automated digital advertising and enabled marketers and publishers to buy and sell advertising inventory at scale. But what happens if new products come along and displace or supersede these offerings? Then what?

In recent memory, I can point to myriad companies that introduced products that achieved rapid adoption by, and popularity with, consumers. Sony, Phillips, and Toshiba (VCRs and DVD players) – Motorola and Nokia (mobile telephones) – TomTom and Garmin (GPS systems) – Amazon (e-readers). Each of these products, though widely influential for a time, eventually reached a tipping point, after which it met either with commoditization or obsolescence. Streaming outdated both video cassettes and DVDs. The smart phone displaced mobile flip phones and superseded e-readers. Bluetooth systems made portable GPS units useless for owners of most new cars.

In short, products do not often exhibit long-term disruptive value. Platforms do. In each case, companies that invested in underlying platform technology were able to exert lasting influence over the way in which people consume content and information.

Platform technology takes years to build. It contains core features and capabilities that companies later package and incorporate into consumer-facing or business-facing products. It is the strength and sophistication of the platform, rather than the individual products built on top of it, that determine a company’s power to reorder and dominate a market.

Here’s one example:

The conventional story arch around Amazon is that it began life as an online bookstore and then expanded into other e-commerce verticals. In fact, it started by building a core platform with distinct capabilities and features, presumably including user authentication, order management, data management, real-time decisioning, pricing, clearing, and content recommendation. (I say presumably, because I have never worked at Amazon and can only speculate about the functionality of its core eCommerce platform.) These capabilities rest on sophisticated, machine learning technology that took years to build and scale and require ongoing development and refinement. Amazon subsequently rolled these capabilities into distinct B2C or B2B products, and its customers – whether they are consumers buying books or independent booksellers plugging into the company’s marketplace – capture the platform’s functionality by adopting some or all of these products.

Working from a platform-first approach enabled Amazon to scale its business in an initial vertical (books) and subsequently build products in adjacent verticals like music, film, and clothing. But all of its products and marketplaces – its bookstore, streaming service, third-party marketplace, and web services – rely on that underlying platform.

An example of why platform-first companies often succeed where product-first companies falter is the e-reader. Though the Amazon Kindle was not the first such device, it quickly became the most popular after its launch in 2007. With the introduction of the iPhone and iPad, the Kindle – like all e-readers – became instantly obsolete. Why buy a device that does one thing when you can buy another that does an infinite number of things? If sales of Kindle devices dropped off, the Kindle application continued to thrive, in part because it leverages Amazon’s powerful platform, which in turn allowed Amazon to dominate global book distribution.

Another benefit of platform-first companies is that they often, though not always, unlock new value by inviting partners to build products and marketplaces adjacent to their own. Amazon was able to move its Kindle application to the iPhone, because the iPhone’s underlying technology platform is designed to encourage such co-innovation.

When in 2005 Steve Jobs launched an internal initiative to build iOS, he faced a central dilemma. As a Bloomberg article framed the question: should Apple endeavor to “shrink the Mac, which would be an epic feat of engineering, or enlarge the iPod?” Jobs set two teams of engineers – one that worked primarily on the Macintosh’s operating system, the other of which focused mainly on the iPod’s – in competition. Ultimately, the Mac team, led by Scott Forstall, won the day. Because iOS was based on the company’s mature and widely-adopted desktop platform, developers were quickly able to rejigger preexisting applications and build new ones for the mobile platform.

The end result is a wide-ranging ecosystem of partners and competitors, all building their own products and marketplaces atop iOS. Today, Apple sells music and streaming services on the iPhone, but so do Amazon, Netflix, Spotify, Hulu, and Pandora.

Platform companies are also critical in the business-to-business space. Salesforce, arguably one of the pioneers in software-as-a-service, saves its enterprise customers the cost of constructing and maintaining their own core computing infrastructure. Its marketplace, AppExchanger, which Business Insider once termed “eBay for business software” – and which Forbes dubbed “iTunes of business software” – offers other companies an opportunity to leverage the functionality of the Salesforce platform to develop their own products adjacent to Salesforce’s. The company even developed its own programming language, Apex, which enables third parties to write and run code on its shared architecture. Though most of its products and partners are not as familiar to consumers as popular streaming services or social network apps, to millions of sales and marketing professionals, the Salesforce ecosystem is a critical CRM and customer success asset.

My key takeaway is that product-first companies come and go. Many of them will make money and return value to investors. Some will even upend or help reinvent existing industry verticals. But companies that are most likely to disrupt and dominate the internet long-term are those that first construct a platform and then roll up its features and capabilities into distinct products and marketplaces. The best of these companies also invite other innovators (be they friends, competitors, or frenemies) to build their own products and marketplaces on top of their platform.

There is little doubting that Snap has produced a popular and well-designed product. But is it fundamentally a product-first or platform-first company? Are Spectacles to Snap’s platform the equivalent of the Kindle to Amazon’s platform? Will a vibrant ecosystem of products and marketplaces emerge atop Snap’s core infrastructure?

Sitting here today, I don’t know the answer, but it’s the question I’ll be asking myself as I follow Snap’s progress as a public company. It may not help forecast short-term profit and loss, but it’s a powerful barometer of its lasting influence over the internet.

Permanent link to this article: http://homebiz2bizreview.net/internet-marketing/product-and-platform/

Mar 21

The rural digital divide: Better internet access and tools could boost the farm business in the Caribbean and beyond

While studying at Darden Business School at the University of Virginia, Luis Solis began to wonder why the U.S. market didn’t have more natural juices derived from fruits grown in Latin America and the Caribbean. There are, after all, at least 55 million Hispanics in the U.S., and many of them have a taste for juices squeezed from passion fruit, guava, mango and other tropical delights. Solis found that many of the existing products in the U.S. contained added sugar and lacked the flavors and textures he remembered growing up in the Dominican Republic.

So in 2014, Solis, 28,  and his business partner Cristian F. Robiou, 27, a fellow Dominican-American and Harvard Law School grad, founded Caribé Exotic Juice, launching their first juice products in grocery stores and restaurants in Miami and Mid-Atlantic states. This week the company is expanding into the metro New York area with four flavors (guava, passion fruit, starfruit and acerola cherry) and is planning their first marketing campaign.

But this business model is about more than just making and selling juice products. As undergraduates, Solis and Robiou studied the problems facing small, rural growers in the Dominican Republic. Many such operators sell their fruits at local markets or to export-import brokers. Neither option is very profitable for the growers.

“That was part of the reason to start this business,” Solis told Salon. “I was on a mango farm in the DR and I heard this farmer say, ‘I sell all my mangoes for a peso [apiece],’ which is like two cents of a dollar, and I was like, ‘Oh my god, that’s crazy.’ And then I took a plane to the U.S. and I talked to this broker and he tells me that he sells mangoes for $2 apiece. And I thought, Where is all that money in between [the farmer and the broker] going?”

How a broker tends to earn the biggest share of profit when products are exported to distribution networks abroad is an issue vexing small rural farms across underdeveloped countries, especially for farmers of perishable agricultural products. Unlike the exporting of coffee and sugar (the Dominican Republic’s two main agricultural exports), the exporting of tropical fruit requires substantial investment in refrigerated transport and storage equipment. Roads can also be impediments because many of small independent growers are in remote locations, like the 13 farms that supply Caribé with about 10,000 pounds of mango, guava, passion fruit, star fruit, lime and acerola cherries each month. Fruit from farms in Sanchez, Constanza and the outskirts of Santo Domingo among other venues are pureed in the Dominican Republic and then shipped to Caribé’s cold press and bottling facility in Edison, New Jersey.

Solis said the physical infrastructure needs are the most important, but expanding information technology tools to these farmers, such as systems to track fruit from the farm to export terminals, would also help immensely. A lack of access to the many digital technologies that people in developed countries take for granted, most notably internet access, is also impeding poor rural farmers’ being able to find new customers. In fact, the digital divide is a primary concern for groups like the International Fund for Agricultural Development, a specialized agency of the United Nations.

“While digital technologies are expanding global knowledge, they are not necessarily democratizing it,” the agency said in its annual rural development report of last year. “Knowledge and its ensuing benefits are disproportionately accruing to the wealthier, the better educated and the well-connected.”

The report pointed to a critical need for greater investment in improving technology in rural areas in order to give locals access to the knowledge and skills that expand entrepreneurial capacity. For small rural farms this would include expanding local low-cost internet access and educational outreach on a broad range of issues.

“Better access to the internet would allow us to be able to communicate better directly with small farms,” Solis said. “And education is a huge thing. These farmers need to be incentivized to educate themselves about the opportunities in external markets, how to become more competitive, how they can increase their crop yields, how they can keep everything organic. All of these things I feel like they’re missing.”

Fixing the problem facing the world’s rural growers will require immense investment from the public and private sectors. For entrepreneurs like Solis, and the the 13 small farms deep in the hills of the Dominican Republic who supply his company (and employ 100 people), these fixes couldn’t come sooner.  


Permanent link to this article: http://homebiz2bizreview.net/internet-marketing/the-rural-digital-divide-better-internet-access-and-tools-could-boost-the-farm-business-in-the-caribbean-and-beyond/

Mar 20

Internet Marketing Miami

Internet Marketing Solutions Fostering Success in Your Community

Consistency between mediums is the cardinal importance in an advertising campaign. Many companies’ internet advertising campaigns are seldom consistent, but we recognize the importance of a good image. Create a web page rooted in your inveterate brand, and you will find success. Misinform your audience about your brand in the slightest, and you will find yourself tailing your success.

Miami’s Community Newspapers Wants You to Succeed

Marketing is only important because you are important–subordinately, your company is important. If you succeed, your company succeeds, and then the community succeeds. Negligent attempts at superficial brand creation among online forums will result in defamatory marks. The internet is a sensitive node of information.

Blog posts about your product will perpetuate your positive image or develop it–if you do not have an online presence. Advertising on Facebook is now a necessity in internet advertising campaigns. A/B testing for performance is a standard within Miami’s Community Newspapers. We run our ads after intense scrutiny from our graphic designers.

Your niche needs to be clear on the internet. If you are a retail company, then your brand will speak for you–not your products. Advertising a brand requires building brand equity to set at ease potential consumers.

Creating Your Internet Presence

Social media is the new medium for advertising. Before, it was newspapers. The transition from print to digital comes with many benefits in the field of advertising. Advertising online is simple and it is not costly. Because the internet is overwhelmed with ads, it is difficult to protrude your company among the ocean of brands.

Miami’s Community Newspapers can help you establish your local connection, in print and online. Contact us for a free consultation about how to generate leads for your business.

Miami’s Community Newspapers–Our Advertising Services:

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Mar 19

Virtual and Augmented Reality: Transforming The Way We Look At The Internet and Data Security

Short Bytes: Virtual and Augmented Reality have redefined every aspect of our modern world ranging from gaming, music, and pop culture, to business, human interaction, and development. However, ‘with great power comes great responsibility’. When it comes to a technology slowly becoming a part of some of our most sensitive aspects in our lives (finances, identity, and health), ensuring its safety is highly important. Despite this, many companies have certainly not done their part to ensure the better virtual reality security and, in turn, an extremely dangerous cyber security disaster may be on the horizon. 

Although many gaming and entertainment platforms have developed countless versions of VR in the last few years, use of virtual reality is far from a solely game-driven industry. In fact, the implications of VR in the IT world are enough to provide solid proof that this form of virtual technology can be utilized in the business and tech sectors effectively and continuously alike.

Despite the immaculate list of pros involved in virtual and augmented reality, the question of cyber and data security still remains. In 2016, the number of reported data breaches increased by 40 percent, and 45 percent of all breached organizations were in the business sector. With a device such as a VR headset which is not commonly known to boast strong security systems, modern-day hackers can turn the IoT that these devices are connected to into a platform for wreaking havoc on businesses, government officials, and even consumers.

Data_breach_incidents_by_type_of_occurrence

However, with every new case of data intrusion, yet another company stands tall and responds with a solution in order to make this form of technology safer in the interim. Furthermore, companies have begun to utilize things such as Steganography and SpatialOS to prevent rather than play offense in this cyber security war. The results are not only positive but also are reforming the way we look at the internet and technology as a whole.

Virtual and Mixed Reality in IT, Design, and Development

In the last few years, since the first virtual reality prototypes were released, companies and consumers alike have been unable to contain their excitement and their demand. In fact, in 2016, 6.3 million VR headsets were shipped across the globe according to a Super Data Report, and over $2 billion was invested in virtual reality according to a Digi-Capital report likewise.

The implications of virtual reality in business have been immense ranging from 3D modeling and testing all the way to 3-DAT data analysis that allows companies to use 3D VR techniques to assess financial and business data. In turn, the future of virtual and augmented reality continues to expand far beyond its original console-based reaches.

For instance, by utilizing CAVE fully immersive virtual reality along with Haptic gloves such as Neurodigital Technologies’ Gloveone showcased at CES and a motion tracker such as HTC’s VIVE tracker, you can not only test and manipulate models, products, and architectural designs but also be able to feel and interact with them as if they were real objects.

Furthermore, the University of Warwick’s Physics researcher, Richard Wellard, created a research company known as 3-DAT to help reduce the time it takes businesses to discover trends and find ways to improve their business model using 3-dimensional data. This kind of 3D technology can be used to track data for IT portfolio management and business model improvements, and can help companies in the IT sector review massive amounts of data with ease.

After being part of a team of researchers from Warwick tasked with the difficult analysis of three-dimensional paths of charged particles in near-Earth space, Wellard discovered that utilizing 3D technology to analyze the data reduced the time it took to not only compile but rather analyze said data in a far more efficient manner.

Therefore, he created a virtual reality 3D data modeling company dedicated to making data analysis a virtual effort and allowing companies the ability to actually see their data and determine multiple plans for improvement in far more efficient and interactive way. However, even utilizing software such as FileMaker integrated with RESTful API’s, IBM’s Watson Analytics, or Linux’s R or ROOT tools in the future can become wonderful ways to integrate programs currently being used by your business into a virtual platform for better analysis.

Another way companies have begun to utilize Virtual Reality is through its ability to connect various web design tools in order to make web design a far more interactive and easy-to-use process. Although some speculate this could mean a decline in the need for web designers in the next few decades, the market is still rather small and learning to integrate this new tool in your web design department. By using VR design tools such as Javascript’s API, WebVR, and looking into some of the ways that Virtual Reality design can be used at Mozilla’s MozVR, you can begin to learn VR design on multiple platforms including the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Google Cardboard.

Similarly, with data security being such a major issue in our modern era, multiple companies have begun to offer virtual data recovery for VMware in order to protect any and all of this sensitive data being utilized on VR platforms. In turn, a new way of storing and securing data has been born but with it comes entirely new and unique ways of infiltrating data likewise.

With any connection of devices with low-security standards, the threat of identity theft and data breaches still remains. With 6.3 million VR headsets connected to the IoT, the probability of a massive malware breach infecting said devices and infiltrating personal data from these headsets is immense and the actions that these VR and IT companies take in the next decade will significantly affect the security of their consumers, companies, and government alike.

Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and IoT – Is it Safe?

With the demand for Virtual Reality increasing daily, companies looking to be ahead of their competitors in the release of their VR technology chose to bypass many of the privacy and security standards that would make these devices far more safe to connect to the IoT and various other programs and applications in conjunction with them.

On the subject of supply and demand leading to virtual reality security issues, Ben Smith, CEO of Laduma, stated, “As new developments are rushed to market in order to gain a lead on competitors, there is a risk that mistakes are being made.” Because of the massive popularity that Virtual and Augmented Reality has gained in the last few years, companies were forced to either put out products that were not necessarily secure or forego their inclusion in the massive VR market of 2016.

However, it is no surprise that the connection of multiple insecure devices on a network creates a perfect entry for hackers to retrieve the massive amounts of data which Virtual Reality platforms both receive from the users themselves as well as collect without necessary consent for marketing purposes. In fact, Tata Communication’s Srinivasan CR once stated on the subject, “Every device connecting into a network is a potential vulnerability which can be used to infiltrate the network itself and other devices connected to it.”

When the Oculus Rift was released in March of last year, terms of their agreement stated that they would not only receive basic information from users but also far more personal information such as the user’s email, occupation, date of birth, and place of residence in order to build their marketing analytics and target these individuals based on their location, demographic, and interests. On top of this, Oculus Rift users are also tracked via their online transactions and web and app usage patterns in order for the company to specifically create targeted marketing campaigns that include your personal interests and items you either wanted to buy or need for the items you recently bought.

However, although the company claims to have substantial VR security measures in place, this collection of data in conjunction with the weak devices connected to the server create a massive opening for identity thieves, data manipulators, visual terrorism, and phishing alike. Furthermore, when using augmented reality such as Pokemon Go or Mixed Reality, such as the recent creation from Dan Gottlieb, geolocation is highly important. This poses a threat for many individuals with weak security devices as this makes you traceable and can allow hackers to track your daily routine in order to attack you physically (think back to the people luring Pokemon Go players into alleyways and robbing them) or discovering information such as banks and other location that you frequently use.

Lastly, applications such as OpenSimulator Metaverse’s HyperGrid and Content Delivery Networks (CDN) are another way in which hackers have begun to attack VR users and their personal information. With OpenSimulator Metaverse’s HyperGrid, in particular, you are connected along with various other VR devices via hyperlinks, however, these links are often unsafe which allows for hackers to infiltrate the devices and intrude upon the data collected from them.

Similarly, CDN’s have begun to take hold in the VR world since E3 as they allow for companies to deliver content such as new videos with VR compatibility to their consumers using a system of distributed servers based on geolocation. However, DDoS CDN attacks have continued to rise in the last few years as hackers have discovered new ways to infiltrate the firewalls of these CDN’s and create forwarding-loop attacks likewise time and time again. With this said, utilizing CDN’s in VR could lead to countless infected devices and once again create a botnet which could lead to the leaking and theft of countless consumers’ personal data.

Visual Terrorism, Botnets, Facial Recognition, and Phishingface authentication

Although identity theft aspects regarding VR are fairly straightforward in nature, visual terrorism, botnets, facial recognition, and phishing are all slightly more unorthodox ways in which hackers have begun to utilize VR to their benefits. Although many consumers are unaware of these malicious forms of cyber attacks and how they work, they continue to pose a serious threat to VR users and companies across the globe.

Visual terrorism, in particular, is a large concern of multiple countries due to the fact that it consists of intensifying the negative effects that using VR have on a person including dizziness, nausea, muscle twitching, blurred vision, headaches, and seizures. By hacking into weak devices and spreading malware that creates loud flashes, bright colors, or spinning screens, hackers can create mass visual attacks on VR users and even be the cause of some consumer’s deaths in the process.

Furthermore, a team of researchers from the University of North Carolina recently discovered a new way to bypass modern face authentication by using synthetic faces displayed on the screen of a VR device. In the past, facial authentication systems were used in multiple different ways including mobile payment and sensitive data safety precautions for larger companies, however, these past recognition software could be easily fooled by the use of a picture in from of the screen. However, now these devices focus on nearly 80 different nodes in a person’s face and textures to analyze their faces in a far more complex manner.

Despite this, the University of North Carolina was able to take a few pictures from each of their tested individuals’ social media accounts and create highly accurate 3D models that were then displayed on the screen of a VR device and put up to the camera of the device looking to achieve facial recognition. In doing so, all five apps that were tested were unaware of the difference between the real thing and the 3D model posing yet another unconventional yet highly terrifying security threat for companies and consumers alike.

Similarly, phishing is another way that hackers can utilize this tech for their malicious intent. Phishing is a technique in which hackers create false identities in order to trick individuals into doing things they would not normally do. For instance, by hacking into VR headsets and using fake virtual objects or pretending to be updated for the system, consumers may unwittingly deploy trojans into the network or leak their passwords to hackers leading to a far easier entry way for hackers to manipulate data in the cloud.

In the same sense, many healthcare professionals have seen firsthand the negative effects of insecure Telemedicine devices including VR headsets for rehabilitation practices. In the last year, many heart monitors were hacked leading to several deaths likewise. Therefore, although it is obvious that the healthcare system should embrace telemedicine due to its astonishing abilities for low-income individuals facing serious diseases, measuring safety performance is important and, in turn, the insecure devices being utilized should be reviewed in-depth before ever being used at all.

Another threat which has been seen quite often in the last year within the IoT, in particular, are botnets spreading malicious malware such as Mirai into connected devices leading to massive DDoS attacks. Mirai malware, in particular, uses a table of nearly 60 common factory default usernames and passwords to target devices with weak security and infect them with the malware. From there, these devices monitor a command and control server to bypass anti-DoS software.

Along with BASHLITE, Mirai Malware infected a myriad of weak cameras connected to Krebs on Security in September of last year and had the largest attack strength in history at 665 Gbps, however, this was far from the most powerful attack on the IoT performed by this malware. In October, only one month after the attack on Krebs on Security, Mirai Malware infected countless more devices and previously infected cameras from the Krebs attack combined with these newly infected devices and joined a network which included multiple high-profile companies on a DNS service provider known as Dyn. This led to the inaccessibility of multiple large websites including Github, Twitter, Spotify, Reddit, Netflix, and more.

This attack set a new record that was staggering at best clocking in with an attack strength of 1.2 Tbps. In response, ARM CEO, Simon Segars, stated, “If you’re a device maker building IoT products, you really ought to be worrying about updating the firmware that’s in it.” In fact, ARM has since then developed Mbed Cloud to help companies push updates to their device’s chips and customize OS in order to prevent malware attacks such as the DDoS attacks on Dyn and Krebs.

On top of this, multiple other companies have begun to take botnet security extremely seriously implementing new devices and programs to prevent data intrusion and DDoS attacks alike. Securifi, launched January 23rd of this year, in particular, has decided to help the IT professionals looking to utilize VR or retrieve data for their company at home by creating a device which specifically defends against botnets to ensure that your home devices with weak security are not affected by hackers in the long run.

What We Learned From Mirai Malware?

Dyn Outages
Dyn DNS Outage

One key thing that IT professionals, as well as both Dyn and Krebs on Security, were able to determine by analyzing the attacks was that they primarily came from cameras and DVR’s with weak security. The issue with this is the fact that it showed us that weak security home devices, in particular, are what Mirai tends to target. With this being said, the push for VR without following proper security measures as well as its dependence on the average consumer whom typically does not focus on security and utilizes weak passwords or default settings all too often may be the perfect formula for malware such as Mirai to create its third record-setting DDoS attack.

In fact, multiple companies claim that this attack proves that AI’s utilized in weak security devices like VR headsets and cell phones will undoubtedly be the next systems attacked by malware and hackers in 2017. On the subject, Alex Matthews of Positive Technology even said, “AI agents will be, perhaps, the most dangerous VR objects. AI is a hard task for security checks since the range of its actions and reactions could be pretty wide.” With this said, it is no stretch to assume that 2017 will be the year of VR data breaches and the companies combatting it will continue to help businesses utilize VR without the fear of becoming a victim of data intrusion in the process leading to a continuation in the expansion of VR technology and its profitability alike.

Similarly, after Krebs on Security was attacked, Brian Krebs stated, “The internet will soon be flooded with attacks.” Despite this seeming rather dark in nature, Krebs and the countless other IT professionals witnessing the effects of connecting weak devices to the IoT may not be far off. By analyzing data from attacks such as these two and learning how to counteract them, we can ensure that the millions of VR users out there including the countless professional settings which utilize this new tech for data analysis specifically are not the next target for the malicious world of hackers and their botnets alike.

Using SpatialOS, Steganography, Cloud Security, Botnet and IoT security, and Load Balancing to Promote Data Security

As data security has become an issue in VR through the IoT and multiple companies have seen the incredible impact VR can have on data analysis, 3D modeling, and more, therein lies a disparity between security and insecure devices which multiple companies are choosing to tackle head-on. For instance, when two representatives from the British government came to the company Improbable in order to use their SpatialOS to create a 3D model of the internet, Improbable rose to the occasion with style.

By using SpatialOS, they were able to demonstrate a dynamic model of Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) at scale and study it for various weak spots in order to determine where hackers could attack or were attacking currently. In doing this, they were able to prevent multiple data breaches before they ever became a problem and the use of this form of 3D modeling continues to be an impressive but extremely useful tool for governments to regulate weak devices and the companies providing them.

Furthermore, with companies hopping on the VR bandwagon left and right, accessing data remotely to work from home on virtual models or the testing of products using 3D technology is slowly becoming yet another way for hackers to attack the weak VR devices and access sensitive information from companies worldwide. Therefore, the use of steganography in files which can be shared to the VR such as audio or video is slowly becoming a more common process.

With so many of these VR devices connecting to the cloud to become a part of the IoT, companies have tried to target the weak points in cloud security in order to protect these connected devices. However, because of the sheer amount of data being provided, some individuals speculate that using PCI DSS security standards and data anonymization techniques are our only hope at combatting data insecurity.

For instance, with PCI DSS data security standards, they tend to focus on ways to build cloud security as well as CDN security and increase concurrent users and the reliability of apps by load balancing likewise. Furthermore, Teesside University’s Joao Ferreira is a huge proprietor of data anonymization and has even said in the past, “New data anonymization techniques will be required so that the new data being collected by VR devices does not identify its originator.”

Lastly, IoT security measures to prevent botnets have slowly risen in the tech world. In turn, devices such as F-Secure and Norton’s Geodesic Dome have been developed. These devices prevent your weak home and office tech from being hacked into and also support IoT and cloud security likewise. By using these devices in office VR endeavors, companies can ensure their VR headsets are safe no matter how insufficient the actual technology may be and reap the benefits of virtual reality in business without the unfortunate consequences all too often associated with it in return.

In the end, it is not surprising that these incredible virtual and augmented reality headsets are becoming the bricks with which the future of technology in business is paved. However, by knowing where to step on this road and ensuring you remain safe in the process, you can continue on into the future without falling victim to the crippling effects a data breach can have on your business. With this said, the future is now, virtual reality is finally a reality, and the impact on the internet, security, and our lives that it will have continues to expand each and every day.

Did you find this article on the current state of Virtual Reality security interesting? Don’t forget to share your views.

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Mar 18

How Your Product’s Packaging Speaks to Millennials

In the era of e-commerce and slowing retail sales, can your product’s packaging still provide adequate value to millennials?

Let’s face it – millennials (or members of Generation Y) are often considered a new era of mankind, and there are many reasons for this. With constant technological influences, millennials have close to infinite resources within their grasp. Instant access to information, images, video and media means they can find almost everything online, without needing to leave the house. This has greatly changed the retail industry with the average millennial spending an hour shopping online per day. This not only means the consumers in this generation are shopping more frequently, but they also have greater comparative abilities, since access to most stores are at their fingertips.

What does this mean for your company’s product packaging? Seldom do we see packaging displayed with the product when shopping online. Does this mean your product’s packaging is no longer an important consideration increasing your product’s value?

The answer is both yes and no; here’s why: 

Yes, because unboxing videos can influence your sales

While most products displayed online focus on the product itself, there are some very successful subscription box programs heavily dependent on its packaging presentation to increase its value. ‘Unboxing’ videos on YouTube also became a trend (and its own genre) starting from 2014. These videos aim to show customers how the product arrives in the mail and the packaging materials used, highlighting the entire customer experience after receiving and opening up their newly purchased products.

Viewers (many of which are millennials) claim that watching unboxing videos can provide the same feeling as opening gifts on Christmas Day, without having to spend the money. If you’ve glanced through YouTube comments on most unboxing videos, you will definitely have noticed that there is never any shortage of trolls and overly-harsh critics. This only raises the necessary standards of providing appropriate and high-quality packaging for your products. You can be sure that if you cheap out on your packaging, your product’s image and value will be slammed by the internet.

Yes, because products sold on shelves need to stand out

Retail product packaging is and will always be significant as long as items are sold physically on shelves. As mentioned earlier, millennials have instant access to data and information. They are generally more aware of what products exist in the market and what they are looking for when shopping in stores. Unless you have a significant advantage in one way or another, the sales of your products will suffer if your packaging does not stand out. POP (point of purchase) displays and floor displays have become more popular to help a line of products stand out from the crowd. In Asia, boxes and containers often have stickers on them to pop-out more and present even more value propositions. 

Yes, because higher end, greater involvement purchases need to live up to their hype

You should invest in a thoughtful package design for your product to meet the standards consumers hold it to. Branded plastic or paper bags can be used for clothing, while non-malleable items should be packaged in protective and attractive boxes. I often mention Apple’s packaging, consisting of mainly telescopic rigid boxes (lid and tray), which provides adequate protection to the product and is also able to withstand a beating of its own. A tattered Apple box would instantly, from shipping or mishandling, reduce the value of Apple’s prestigious products, causing cognitive dissonance and potentially buyer’s remorse. By packaging their products in very sturdy packaging, Apple can be confident that buyers will be satisfied with their purchase and that their presentation lives up to their value offerings.

Whether purchases are done at a physical location or online, packaging will always play a role in the customer experience. While lower-priced discount items may be able to get away with minimal packaging, millennials (and most consumers) will feel dissatisfied if their higher-end purchases come without adequate packaging. 

No, because lower priced clothing retailers or deal websites can get away with minimal packaging

Millennials (and most customers)  that purchase products at pricing well below market price will usually lower their expectations and expect the trade-off of less, or no, packaging. These ‘deal-hunter’ types of customers generally prioritize the discount and overall value more than the presentation and understand that professionally branded packaging would act to increase their costs.

Lower-priced clothing manufacturers such as Forever 21 ship their clothing in a plain (but branded) kraft box or mailer, with each clothing item bagged in clear plastic. Companies that focus on minimizing their packaging use can often also promote their leadership in corporate social responsibility. Customers understand and appreciate actions that benefit the environment, as long as this is communicated to them. Keep in mind, it may be cool to be environmentally friendly, but possible damaged items as a result will only harm a company’s image and sales figures.

Most millennials are very value-driven and are quick to compare items purchased within the global market. Value is often defined by standards and expectations. If the competition provides high-end packaging and your product is similarly priced, you can bet that the customer expects the same (or better) quality packaging from your product. Do yourself a favor – if you’re going to minimalize your packaging, make sure your customers understand how and why this benefits them.

While online marketing and promotions usually feature actual products more than its packaging, remember that unboxing videos, comments and customer reviews can make or break your brand image and e-commerce sales numbers. Well branded, custom packaging will always be appreciated by consumers, and you can be sure that thoughtful packaging will always improve your product’s perceived value.

Photo credit: Shutterstock / ouh_desire

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Mar 17

Direct Response Marketing

MIAMI’S COMMUNITY NEWSPAPERS ADVERTISING (305) 669-7030

Direct response advertising is commonly considered as spam. The reality is that direct response marketing is reliable and fast. To upstage other companies, businesses use direct response marketing. Articulating your company’s message among the tempestuous world of digital marketing will be made simple with direct response marketing. People who dismiss direct response marketing as inefficient have not looked at the revenue it produces. The industry accounts for $100 billion per year of revenue gained through advertising. This seldom seen statistic brags of big gains and attests to little loss.

Without a good reputation, direct response marketing will not work. We want your company to have a good reputation before it has an advertising campaign, and the way to build your brand integrity is, luckily, through advertising with us. Because we publish local newspapers, our reputation within the community is scintillating. Through association, your company will gain a boost in reputation. Consumers will not need to decide whether your company is a scam because they already have an established trust with us. We use direct response to enlist readers to our newsletter where we also advertise. Our minimalist design will enhance your image because it will not obstruct your advertisement’s well-developed artistry. Direct response advertising will complement your ad campaign and expand your audience. An idea of what to place on direct response ads is a sweepstake. Giveaways draw the attention of a reader, particularly if the giveaway is featured by a wholesome ad.

Direct response advertising enables your company to get results which are relevant and countable

Headlines are much more than scribbles. They are irrefutably important to your direct response ad. If you return to college, you will remember you’re your most important sentence is your first. The first sentence establishes the tone and pace of your paper. The same holds with direct response marketing: Your headline contains the promises your company will uphold. Your credibility lives within the headline. Your headline should present the same fervor, and urgency, of a president’s inauguration speech. Within the ad, it is fine to include testimonials. Data shows that testimonials add value to advertisements. But the cardinal rule to follow is “don’t hit your own head with your bat,” which translates to “make sure your headline reflects the value of your product.”

The internet is overwhelming. What will distinguish you in the web is direct response advertising. Online, someone is always watching. Although this can be an ominous realization, it helps with advertising. Consumers, potential partners, and competitors will all see your ad within seconds of going live. Do not let that dismay you. There is a sequential process to direct response advertising and the first is exposure. We utilize the influence of our online newspaper to create an internet presence for our clients. We write stories, create ads, and place you in our newsletter.  Whether you own an online store, a contracting business, or retail store, direct response is essential in developing your company’s image.

The bustling enterprise created by the internet requires an online presence to stay relevant in any type of business. More people search for businesses through their phones. The first step in creating your online footprint is to jumpstart a direct response advertising campaign. The biggest reservoir of customers is the internet. If you analyze a successful company’s website, you will see that their ad campaigns are well developed, and they are consistent with their intended image. Subtle messages are often carried to our subconscious when we look at an ad, and if we recognize that it is not consistently valuable it loses luster. Performing maintenance on your website promotes the positive outlook of your company and will make your direct response ad more effective.

Direct Response Marketing by Miami’s Community Newspapers

LIKE DIRECT MARKETING, DIRECT RESPONSE SEEKS TO ELICIT ACTION. IT IS ACCOUNTABLE SINCE RESULTS CAN BE TRACKED AND MEASURED.

Breaching the competition of internet marketing is more affordable than most anticipate. For small businesses, we recommend a standard online set up which will not cost you over $100. Establishing a connection to your online consumers is simple, and not only for companies with big budgets. You need a place for consumers from direct response ads to congregate. This place can be the phone line; however, it is preferable to have the face of your company available within a few seconds of seeing your advertisement. To get you hyperlocal results, your contact information must be in all local directories—both online and in print. Our newspaper facilitates your entry into the online and print network. Apart from our online advertising, your website will receive a boost from our complementary backlink. This will help you rank better on google for your niche keyword phrase.

In-depth SEO work does require a larger budget. SEO is the backbone of all internet marketing strategies. SEO campaigns target your specific audience to produce unprecedented results. These campaigns take time. Most SEO companies will give you a general sales pitch that consists of empty promises which only manifest for a few weeks. Google knows quality, and SEO companies like to deliver quantity. It is inadvertent to trust your company to Search Engine Offenders because they will not create the long-term results you want.

Advertising campaigns that see success are those that mix traditional advertising with the new-age methods. Direct response advertising freely moves between digital and print marketing.

Calculating how many leads are generated from direct response advertising is simply because the approach is simple. It is effective because it is simple. The simpler, the better. We can observe this effect in any technology. Phones are now slim. Televisions are no longer bulky. Ads are no longer cluttered with information. Direct response creates immediate success because it is simple.

The internet endowed the world with motivation to make everything cleaner, sharper, and easily accessible. Our campaigns replicate that move towards the modern. In the modern, we find what works, and what works is simplicity. A well-structured campaign utilizing the power of direct response marketing, print marketing, and digital marketing paves a successful path.

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