Sunday, 25 December 2016

Digital Signage Network - The out of box idea for sales and marketing

Digital Signage Network - The out of box idea for sales and marketing
What is Digital Signage?

It is a new medium of audio-visual advertising different than TV/Radio advertisements. In this medium, advertisements which are of multimedia nature (audio content, graphic images and video content) are played on large video screens. The only difference being that they are not present in the home of consumers. 

They are located mostly in public places. They are located generally at railway stations, airports, multiplexes, shopping malls, hospitals, bus stations ,pubs, hotels, even schools, colleges, etc. Choice of location is left to the creativity of facility provider and it is limitless. The main motto here is to match consumer eyeballs with right advertising content.

Strategically they are placed at such locations where actually consumer is buying goods or services. Since it is different than playing the content in the home of consumers, it is also called OOH or Out Of Home media. TV advertisements can also be termed as In Home Media.

Technology behind Digital Signage

Technically and essentially, it boils down to creating your own private TV channel where TV screens will be placed in prominent public places where footfall will be high. High footfall will ensure that eyeballs for advertisements displayed on the TV screens will be in high numbers thereby generating viewer traffic for a particular advertisement or content. 

Even Digital Signage Network or OOH media is dominated by content and as it is very well said that content is the king as far as marketing or advertisements are concerned. Since content plays a dominant role, computer technology comes into picture to ensure that right advertisement content matches right eyeballs.

Computer technology makes it simple to create your own private TV channel or Digital Signage Network playing your desired content. It offers fine granular control on content streamed  on each screen or display unit with reporting or feedback mechanism on performance of the content.

Some of the hardware/software required for creating Digital Signage or OOH media is as given below. 

Hardware requirements are like:
  • Large TV screens (LCD/PLASMA , LED screens, Video walls, ATM display screens)
  • Computer CPUs with graphics processing cards (GPU)
  • Wireless Internet or LAN connection for each CPU
  • Central Server CPU and hardware which streams/pushes content (audio file, video file or any other file) to various locations or CPUs attached to screens or display units
  • Each screen connected to CPU along with necessary hardware is termed as one display unit. 
  • Sometimes display unit is converted to touch-screen based display unit which is used to accept user-input also. Such display units are generally of interactive nature and are used to display promotional information also. These are called kiosks. Kiosks are used to display advertisements as well as for capture of user-information.
  • KIOSKs are also used as advertisement display units in Digital Signage Network.

Software requirements are like:
  • Audio/Video player for playing video file or audio file
  • Software for creating random playlist or schedule of play is required for advertisements. Here advertisement refers to one audio or video or graphic image file to be displayed on screen. This kind of software is required, if large number of advertisements are to be played on screen in random order or in a pre-determined schedule.
  • Scheduling software which will create schedule for various advertisers based on time-slots.
  • Software to push playlist and content on each screens via. Internet or LAN.
  • Software for billing and metrics for advertisements.
       
Innovative variants of Digital Signage or OOH network
  • On -vehicle Digital Signage Screens
  • Mobile as Digital Signage Screens
  • ATM as Digital Signage Screens
  • Gaming apps as Digital Signage Screens
  • Holographic Images and Content to play on VR and Augmented Reality Devices
  • Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Devices as Digital Signage Screens
  • POS and weighing machines with Video Display Screens 
  • YouTube and other social media channels as Digital Signage Screens
Basic configurations of Digital Signage Network

Single Screen Network

It contains only one screen or TV display with attached computer CPU. It is suitable for small merchants or establishments where in-house advertising is to be done.
       
Multi-Screen Network (in same premises or geo-graphic location)

It contains more than one screens or TV displays with attached computer CPUs. But all are located in the same building premises or at a reachable distance via. Cables. Wireless LAN or Ethernet cables can be used to connect all display CPUs and one computer CPU can be configured as server which will push or stream advertisement media files to other screen CPUs.
       
Multi-Screen Network (Different geo-graphic boundaries)

It contains more than one screens or TV displays with attached computer CPUs. But all are located in different geo-graphic boundaries where cable or wireless LAN connection is not possible always. Internet can be used to connect all display CPUs with the server in order to stream/push content.
Multi-screen Network can be mixture of LAN/Internet connected screens spread across vast geographically distant locations, sometimes across countries.
       
       
Comparative advantages of Digital Signage Network
  • Content can be of out of box and varied nature e.g. text, audio, image, video, etc.
  • Content can be of interactive nature. User feedback for products/services can be captured.  
  • Sales lead generation is possible because of interactive content. It is one of the great tools for planning your out of box sales and marketing strategies.
  • Performance of the content can be measured in terms of number of eyeballs with additional human tracking devices and hardware.
  • Targeted advertising of products/services can be done based on demographic profile of consumer.
  • Media planners can measure and calculate effectiveness of campaigns mathematically in terms of numbers.
  • Cost-benefit analysis of media campaigns can be done accurately.
  • The configuration and location of network can be changed based on changing business requirements.
  • It directly and implicitly impacts buying decision of consumer in favor of desired product or service.
  • Advertisers can pay based on time-slots or on no. of eyeballs. It increases effectiveness of media campaign as far as cost of acquiring media is concerned.
Companies offering Digital Signage Solutions

       http://scala.com/
       https://onsign.tv/
       
Summary
       
It is an advertising medium which gels consumer eyeballs with targeted content.
      

Friday, 9 December 2016

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Cold calling utmost important for start-ups

cold calling tips and tricks

Why cold calling is important for start-ups?

 

Cold calling is seen as very tedious process for customer acquisition. But it is very important for start-up companies which can make your start-up or it can break your start-up. It is comparatively low cost option of acquiring customer compared to other methods. So it becomes very important for start-ups working with small capital. In this discussion, we will reflect on why it is?

 

Because first 100 customers build your start-up

 

Cold calling establishes one to one engagement with the customer right from calling stage to acquisition stage. It gives opportunity to be intimate with your customers as far as your products and services are considered.  A start-up should select first 100 customers very cautiously, because:
  • They will be your first brand ambassadors doing publicity of your products/services mouth-to-mouth.
  • In the era of Social Media, it has become utmost important because they will share/give feedback on Social Media platforms promptly about your products/services.
  • They will give important feedback about technicalities, design, logistics and value for money of your products/services.
  • They will share positive/negative experiences about your products/services.
  • All this information can be passed to product design or technical team.  This kind of information is actionable information out of which technical information can be used to improve the product/service. This product/service improvement cycle should go on continuously until it reaches to a product maturity stage.
  • Non-technical information like price, delivery mechanism, packaging and any other contextual information can be used to improve operations and logistics of start-up.
  • If these customers are using your other competitor’s products/services, they will give valuable/actionable insights about that. These insights can be used to re-engineer/re-invent/re-design or simply improve your products/services. This is a street smart technique.

 

 Seasoned marketing professional should handle these 100 customers

 

Start-up companies should engage senior and matured sales / marketing people to handle these elite customers. Several leads should be generated from:
  •     SMS Marketing
  •     Email Marketing
  •     Social Media Marketing and from other channels.
Demographic profiles should be studied and researched of these elite customers. A lot of demographic information can be gathered of these elite customers from Social Media Platforms. Their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other profiles should be thoroughly scrutinized to understand the psyche of these customers.

 

Customize products/services for First 100 Customers

 

If possible, the products/services should be tailored or customized as per their wishes /fantasies. Even after sale is complete, they should be given after sales/service support for long time free of cost. Keep on calling them on periodically on special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, festivals, etc. These customers should be placed in first 100 in your newsletter campaign and should remain so. These customers can be called on company festivals, programs and occasions. In fact, they can be part of company’s future advertising campaigns in media.

 

 So select first 100 customers very well

 

So selection of first 100 customers out of huge number of leads generated is very important. Don’t run fast to acquire them. It can break or make your start-up. Cold calling provides opportunity to select these first 100 very well. It requires lot of out of box thinking and creative sales and marketing strategies to get first 100 customers.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

How the websites like Zimmber, Timesaverz and HouseJoy generate revenue ?

Revenue generation by HouseJoy,Timesaverz and Zimmber
Zimmber, Timesaverz & HouseJoy types of websites are basically aggregators of common household/business service providers e.g. Beauticians, Plumbers, Electricians, Fitness Trainers, Home Cleaning, Deep Home Cleaning ,Painting, Pest control services, AC servicing, Sofa cleaning etc. There are many more such portals or websites operating on small scale to big one like JustDial, Quickr, OLX, Locanto, etc.

In a nutshell view, basically they are classified websites where service providers can register themselves with their contact details and complete profile of their establishment.They can provide details of the services and their tariff structure, staff personnel, availability of time and location.The target customers for these portals/websites are young working professionals and migrant population new to the city who are internet savvy and having less familiarity with demographics of the locality in which they are currently staying.

Customers of these portals/websites can search and find the service provides as per their location and availability of time.

What is the business model for these portals/websites which generate revenue?

  •  Revenue generation mechanism for these portals/websites can be:
  •  Service providers can be charged for registration on the portal/website on monthly, quarterly or yearly subscription basis or each transaction happening between Service Provider and Customer can be charged on commission basis. 
  •  Contextual advertisements can be provided to advertisers which will be a source of revenue for website/portal. Accordingly, suitable payment collection mechanism Internet Banking, Payment Gateway or COD (Cash on Delivery) can be implemented.
Technologically they are internet version of newspaper classifieds or yellow pages with additional facilities like:
  •          Location or pin-code based search.
  •          Mobile App facilities (Android and iOS)
  •          24-hour call assistance
Now as far as choosing technology to implement this is concerned, there are two options:
  • Website or portal can be created by hiring PHP/MySQL/HTML/CSS developers to do it from scratch. Building the website or portal from scratch as per custom requirement is time-consuming and it requires significant resources in terms of money and infrastructure
  • Another alternative can be to select some open-source PHP based classified website scripts and tweak that with the help of developers and software engineers as per custom requirements. This is less time-consuming and requires less resources in terms of time, money and physical infrastructure.
The above tasks can be achieved technologies like JAVA or The Official Microsoft ASP.NET Site also. Choice of technology should be decided based on pros and cons of various platforms, scalability consideration and availability of respective technical skills.

Some examples of free PHP based open-source classified scripts:


Please note that just installing a classified website is not the end of task. Significant amount of content and listing of service providers on the website/portal must be loaded in order to shorten the time required to acquire a good database of new service providers and new customers. After the completion of above tasks, the portal/website can expect to start generating user traffic to be in business. Social Media Marketing can be used to increase traffic and penetration in already saturated market with small and big players.

You can also contact various vendors who sell ready-made databases of service providers and customers in order to get go.

The thoughts expressed in the article are author's personal expression and views. All the product(s) and brand(s) named in this article belong to respective companies and they are rightful copyright owner

Friday, 16 September 2016

Content and Gaming Apps for Brand Creation

Content and Gaming Apps for Brand Creation

Question


Recently, we as a Start-Up company have launched an E-Commerce Portal  which sells nutrition and other related products like protein supplements, protein shakes, supplementary vitamins, various salts and oils, jogging and sports related apparels, super foods, snacks and good food capsules and oils.We are trying to grow social media organically, but we are currently related to Facebook and twitter.

Please suggest other methods and medium to achieve our object with least cost of investment.


Answer

Find what is nature of products/services?

 Since your products are related to sports supplements and nutrition, there are available protein supplements also. Naturally your majority of target audience is youngsters who are more sports inclined and who are physical fitness freaks. Grown up men/women are also target audience for vitamins and nutrition supplements.

Generate Educative Content via. Blogging

Creating awareness by writing content on various blogs (Blogging) related to sports, fitness and health and correlating with your products is a way to go. You may create your own dedicated blog also related to these topics and promoting the blogs/content on social media. It is possible to hire a team of dedicated content writers or bloggers for the above topics. The content generated should give scientific facts and information related to your products and it should be able to differentiate among other products available in your competitive segment. Here content of the blog should be of educative nature which should convince reader for necessity of the products.

Generate Educative Content via. Audio Visual Media

Creating a dedicated YouTube channel and videos related to sports/fitness is another way with advertisement of your products, again visual content should be of educative nature convincing the viewers about need of the products.


Co-branding with Gaming Apps


You may use another strategy loosely termed as gamification of your products/services. In fact, it is not a single strategy, but combination of multiple strategies which uses Android and iOS mobile platform.


You need to tie-up with popular mobile games running on Android or iOS platforms. Games or Apps selected must be predominantly action oriented, like car-racing type, bike racing type, counter-strike type games, body-building and fitness related Apps or any other popular games. The deal is that you can provide the access to your website and facility to do product purchase from the game or App free of cost or at discount at certain level of scores in the game. The player or user must be registered to your website as authenticated user.


Users or players can register to your website from the App also. You can also provide "Refer a Friend" concept where user of the game or player can invite other users to your website via. Game only. After certain level of referrals done by the user or player, you can give discounts or allow free of cost purchase. It is a win-win situation for both, the game publisher and your portal. This strategy relies heavily on other popular games running on Android or iOS platform and it solely depends on how you crack the deal?


Second strategy is that you create your own Apps for Android or iOS platforms related to your products. Some of the app ideas, I can think of:

  •     Click photograph of your six-packs and post on your website
  •     App related to schedule of your exercise routine
  •     App related to recipes
  •     How to choose apparels for workout?
  •     App which describes how to use protein to build six-packs and body-building
  •     And there can be many...

Second strategy is capex oriented and requires significant time/resources in development of Apps. First strategy requires less or none investment of time and financial resources and it solely depends on negotiating terms and conditions with App publisher. I think combination of both the above strategies will do a lot in generating traffic to your website organically. It is also termed as Gamification of Brand now-a-days, a term coined newly where Apps are treated as Media platform for attracting right kind of audience.


Again, these are my viewpoints and it is always open to scrutiny and criticism.

Thanking You

Saturday, 3 September 2016

INDIA needs LIGHT revolution, INDIA needs LED

LED Light

India needs "Light revolution". We need light at cheapest cost. We need LED technology to achieve this. We need Solar technology to achieve this. We need combination of these two technologies to make sure not a single kid in a distant INDIAN village is deprived of doing homework at night, because simply there is no light in his/her hut.Forget about good house, we need "Light" first. It is one of the basic necessity after food and shelter. Because it is directly related to the education of children and future generation. It is directly related to why most of our children leave school at rural distant population ? It is related to why our rural agrarian economy is not becoming profitable ? , just because adult literacy is not increasing and there is no culture of reading at night. Simply because there is no "Light".

Just like decades before, we were at the brisk of poverty and our majority of population was going hungry, we created a "Green revolution". Now we are in a position to feed at least majority of population because we started growing variety of crops and we became self-sufficient partially.It happened because of efforts of our scientists , leaders and farmers who participated to achieve this.

Light is costly even today for majority of our  INDIAN village population considering their per capita income and economic situation.In addition to this lack of poor electrical infrastructure, the end result is that electrification is only on papers and in numbers of government files. 96% villages are electrified as per government numbers, but in reality it is far from having all homes running
all kinds of equipment(s) on it. Only 60% of INDIAN villages are able to harness full power of electricity even in 21st century. Off course, we are giant in IT and Software Industry.It is a bitter truth.

I was fascinated by LED(s) right from my engineering college days. In those days, hardly white LED(s) were available. We used to get red and green LED(s) very easily. I was surprised with the fact that a small amount of DC voltage was able to generate so much of Luminosity. A modern white LED light bulb converts more than 50 percent of the electricity it uses into Light. Please compare that to the 4 percent conversion rate for incandescent bulbs.LED(s) also last up to 100,000 hours (almost 20 years), compared to 10,000 hours for fluorescent lights and 1,000 hours for incandescent bulb. A white LED light is easy to make from a blue one. Engineers use a blue LED to excite some kind of fluorescent chemical in the bulb. That converts the blue light to white Light. Our whole world is grateful to Isamu Akasaki and Hiroshi Amano of Japan and U.S. scientist Shuji Nakamura for invention of blue light-emitting diodes for which they have been awarded Nobel prize of physics, a new energy efficient and environment-friendly light source. Because of blue-led light, it is now possible to create while LED Light.

We need pencil-cell operated LED tube light(s) for our INDIAN villages where electricity infrastructure has not reached yet or simply it is not working. We need motor-bike operated LED lighting system so that in day time people can drive motor-bikes and at night battery can be used to LIGHT the house. Motor-bike batteries can be charged at petrol pumps. There is tremendous need of solar operated LED lighting at cheapest cost of ownership and almost zero recurring maintenance cost. There is lot of scope for innovation in this area e.g. developing LED lighting system for farmers where light will be automatically switched off when no human will be present in their field(s) where high-yield crops are present.Also, village street lights operated on solar power which will be switched off in day time. Off course most of the products and technologies are available in the market, but we need to develop an Eco-system where it will be produced locally at every district level of INDIAN villages.

But our cities also need to be "Energy" efficient.We not only need LED lighting system for homes and shops to con-server energy , but also for our parking lots, empty galleries, darkened streets at distant locations in cities, ATM(s),railway platform(s), bus stand(s) , you name a place where secondary lighting is  not required  ?, everywhere it is required, and so LED lighting with conservation is required.
We need to build start-up ecosystem actually developing innovative product(s) in this segment. Sadly, most of our start-ups are focusing on technologies related to software product(s) or service(s).
It is high time they realize that energy conservation for masses is one of the biggest market in our country where at one end most of our village population is not able to access it even at higher cost and at other end urban population , they do not have means to conserve and economically use it.


The thoughts expressed in the article are author's personal expression and views. All the product(s) and brand(s) named in this article belong to respective companies and they are rightful copyright owner

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Virtual Reality And Augmented Reality


The era has come, where the digital technology will blur the distinction between real world and virtual world. Virtual reality and Augmented reality is opening new frontiers, it will change the way we will interact with the real world. It is opening a new path and we are at the the threshold of a new revolution, a giant leap in the progress of mankind.

Already computer desktop has shrink ed in size and it has submerged into the fist of common men. The new generation of smart phone(s) have the same computing strength because of processing power, memory, storage capacity and internet capacity which a decade before we could get in a decently priced desktop or laptop computer. And to accelerate the transition , cloud storage and 3G/4G technology are adding more fuels.

So What is reality ? Once a Buddhist monk asked the Buddha , what is this world ? What am I seeing is a dream ? Are we living in a dream ? Or Do we have dreams when we sleep at night ? The Buddha replied neither of this. We are just having awareness perceiving the reality of universe. Virtual Reality is creation of totally new reality parallel to our world using digital technology and graphics. Augmented Reality supplements our new world with extra information in the form of graphics, images and text. It creates a new reality with union of real world and digital information.

These two technologies are raising new questions in front of mankind. Can we create miniature world(s) parallel to this world using digital technology? Can we see,feel and experience the thing(s),object(s),material(s),sound(s) and visual(s) which does not exist in our real world or it exist(s) in a different way ? Or May it exist elsewhere in the Universe?

Technology has given power to mankind to create new realities. New kind of game(s) are being created where player(s) interact with actual world with imaginary game character(s) or avatar(s) merged into our own real world. Pokemon Go is best example of this game which has given the common people the taste of this new technology.It has become one of the most popular game based on Augmented Reality technology.

How will people behave or react when the time will come when physical presence of human at any event will become less important ? Will the future generation of chatting or messenger application(s) will be designed in such a way that they will be able to project avatar(s) of chatter(s) as 3D holographic image(s) ?

Two people will be able to chat using their avatar(s) face to face without being physically present. Using hardware technology like Google Glass Or Microsoft HoloLens  Or Occulus vision , it is a distant reality in near future very easily achievable. Board-room corporate meetings can be conducted by seating at home by the participants. Teachers and students can interact in virtual classroom using their holographic 3D avatar(s) without need of being present in schools or colleges.

Our day to day life will be enhanced drastically using the above technologies. Newspaper in 3D digital holographic form will be delivered to you in front of your eyes using internet and Augmented Reality in your glasses. Physical copy of newspaper will loose its importance thereby saving lot of paper and incidentally need of cutting trees.

Yes, It will be possible to learn driving in your busiest neighborhood without actually hitting road and damaging your car.It is possible to create simulation and reality based applications which will allow to do that straightway in your hand and in front of your eyes.

The life of movie buffs will change dramatically. It will be possible to watch movies with your favorite actor or actress as watcher being part of the scene. A new kind of hardware Microsoft HoloLens will make it possible to watch movie as being part of movie and actually interacting with your actor/actress in real-time.

The biggest use of augmented reality can be for those who continuously need to refer manuals, diagrams or books in order to carry their professional job. Surgeons, engineers, technicians and other people who need to supplement the live situational information or condition with additional information like working manuals, books, reference materials or internet itself.

Surgeons can perform surgery with ideal anatomical information super-imposed or augmented on patient.
More research on the role of Augmented Reality and Medicine can be found here
Engineers/technicians can perform repairing work with all past information/history , engineering diagrams and drawings super-imposed in front of their eyes. They can actually interact with the information in real-time to carry their job in ideal way.



Currently,e-commerce industry specially fashion and retail is more focused on price and display of product(s) in basic form with images without giving much scope for interaction with the product for end-users. Specially e-commerce in apparel industry is facing a problem where end-user can not have trial or touch and feel of the product before buying.

Well, this technology at least can help in reducing that problem in slightly different way. End-users can look at 3D holograms of the apparel on-line and their avatar(s) can actually try it also to get the real feel of fitting and look. A new kind of holographic e-commerce platform can be developed.

Virtual reality and augmented reality are two kinds of technology which will blend in our day-to-day life like internet has blended.

The current prohibition is mainly related to hardware used for this kind of technology which are not available at cost-effective price.Since availability of hardware is costly, application development market has not matured in this segment yet.

Monday, 1 February 2016

phpinfo().. The most important function call in PHP Scripting Language

phpinfo()

Every programmer or software engineer working in LAMP (Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP), MAMP, XAMPP or WAMP (Windows/Apache/MySQL/PHP) environment should first learn a basic php command :

phpinfo()

It is the most important function call and the output of this function provides wealth of information about PHP and the apache server environment in which your PHP scripts will be executed. The amount of information provided by this function is very usedful in debugging your PHP scripts. This script is also useful for people who are going to maintain your website and install/uninstall different components or modules.

So every engineer/programmer who is dealing with Drupal, Magento, Joomla or any PHP based software can have following script copied into its main server directory and can run the script like:

http://www.yourdomain.com/testphp.php

//testphp.php

<?php

echo phpinfo();

?>


It provides following information:
  • The configuration line,
  • php.ini location,
  • build date,
  • Web Server, System
  • Current and Master values of php directives
  • Additional module(s) loaded and their respective settings
  • Environment variable information that is available
  • PHP License information.
So engineers,programmers and system professionals dealing with PHP.. carry this script always in your toolbox.