Posted by Tom Humbarger on April 6, 2009
Have you seen any of these colorful ‘tags’ on product packaging or marketing literature recently?
My vCard in Microsoft Tag
Microsoft introduced these new tags at the CES 2009 in January and I just ‘discovered’ them last week. Microsoft Tag is based on a new technology called High Capacity Color Barcodes (HCCBs), which was invented in-house by Microsoft Research and it uses triangle shapes and colors to store data. This technology is an update to the QR Code 2-D bar codes created by a Japanese company in 1994 where they are the most popular type of 2-D code.
According to the FAQs on the Microsoft Tag (beta) site, Microsoft Tag:
…connects real life with the digital world. Microsoft Tags are small, colorful codes that can be printed, stuck, or displayed just about anywhere. When you snap a Tag with the camera on your internet-enabled phone, additional information or experiences are automatically opened on your phone. There is no fumbling with URLs or texting short codes. Microsoft Tags can make product packages, posters, print-based ads, magazine articles, exhibit signage, billboards, storefronts, business card, or just about anything else, interactive.
The idea is to close the gap between the physical and digital world by making it easier for end users to easily get more information about products and services.
Microsoft Tag Reader is available on most mobile platforms including Windows Mobile, J2ME, iPhone, Blackberry, and Symbian S60 phones (your phone will need a camera and internet connection). I used the iPhone application and it works as advertised – just launch the application and point the phone camera at the tag. To get the free reader application, point your phone’s browser to http://gettag.mobi and you can get the iPhone application from the Apple Store.
For now, Microsoft is allowing users to make their own tags by going to http://www.microsoft.com/tag/ and creating an account which is super-easy if you already have a Microsoft Live account. You can create tags that include URLs, free text, vCard or even dial a phone number. There is also a reporting service tied to the tags you create where you can view the number of clicks by day. After you create the tag, you can render the tag in several different formats so you can copy it to product packaging, post on a website or document. The interface to create the tags could be more user-friendly and it should also let me create JPG files for my tags instead of just pdf, wmf or xps.
Options for Rendering Microsoft Tags
For me, I will definitely add the tags to my next set of business cards. Companies should also start experimenting with adding the tags to their packaging and product literature. Obviously, it will take some time for user adoption since end-users need to take the step to install the reader program and companies won’t take a big leap unil more end-users have the Reader application. Within the next 12 to 18 months, I expect this tagging technology to take off in a big way.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: hccb, high capacity color barcodes, iphone, marketing, microsoft tag, microsoft tag vcard, mobile platforms, qr code | 5 Comments »
Posted by Tom Humbarger on October 29, 2008
My latest project finally launched today. Chris Fox is a longtime friend of mine and he runs a valet parking company called Minuteman Parking in the Los Angeles area. For the past 2 months, I have been helping Chris update his website and marketing messages.
In the process, I learned a lot about the valet parking business and discovered the fun and challenge of consulting with small businesses. Chris’ business is pretty unique. While he services more than 30 locations in the Southern California and Seattle areas with more than 600 employees, he really only has about 10 people on his ‘headquarters’ staff. So, I became his ‘hired’ marketing expert.
Here is what the original website looked like:
Old Minuteman Parking Website
And here’s the “after” look – the new and improved Minuteman Parking website:
New (and Improved) Minuteman Parking Website
The executionists of Marina Del Rey, California provided the design for the website – and while they have an unusual name, their team lead by Temy Gu did a wonderful job “executing” the concept.
Some of the new features of the website include:
- Updated design and theme – We have to thank our web design team for coming up with a new theme and color scheme. It was important to keep the patriotic idea linked to the company name, but the old site was very early 2000′s in look and feel. The executionists added some flash to the home page and added pictures to the other pages which help to personalize the company.
- Simplified messaging – Chris and I worked to simplify the messaging for his key business lines of providing customized parking solutions for Hotels and Medical Facilities. He also wanted to capitalize on a new business line of Special Events and we incorporated that into the menu structure.
- Company blog and news – I finally convinced Chris about the importance of keeping content current in his website and we had the executionists incorporate a blog into the new site. You can find the blog under About Us->News. Now I have to hold Chris to updating the blog and news section on a weekly basis.
- Clear actions – We put clear actions on the landing pages and key solutions pages. And we gave people many options for contacting Chris’ team via email, web form and toll-free phone number.
- Customer list and testimonials - We added a list of customer logos and several short customer testimonials. Chris has some name-brand properties and we listed the corporate brands without having to identify the specific locations. The customer list and testimonials should provide Chris with a better way to get his foot in the door at new prospects.
Check out the website and let us know what you think. And thank you Chris for listening to me and trusting me with your business.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: blog, chris fox, consulting gig, marketing, marketing consulting, minuteman parking, new media, valet parking | 3 Comments »
Posted by Tom Humbarger on October 24, 2008
In this TED Talk from 2007, marketing guru Seth Godin talks about Wonder Bread and other marketing delights. His premise is that ideas that spread will win and he refers to the current time as the “Century of Idea Diffusion”.
Here is the TED description of the 15 minute video presentation:
In a world of too many options and too little time, our obvious choice is to ignore the ordinary stuff. Marketing guru Seth Godin spells out why, when it comes getting our attention, bad or bizarre ideas are more successful than boring ones. And early adopters, not the mainstream’s bell curve, are the new sweet spot of the market.
Seth goes on to say the the “TV industrial complex” is not working any more. Consumers don’t care about companies because they have way too many choices and too little time – so they just ignore stuff. Which means that you or or your message must be remarkable to stand out from the crowd.
He also brought up the Japanese concept of otaku – which is used to refer to people with obsessive interests. Ideally, you want to cultivate people with otaku for your product or service because they will help you spread the word.
Some of the brands that Seth brings up in the video include:
He left the audience with three thoughts:
- Design is free when you get to scale
- The riskiest thing you can do now is be safe
- Being very good is boring and average — no one is going to notice…so be remarkable
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: aeron chairs, century of idea diffusion, cooper mini, dutch boy paint, life gems, marketing, otaku, seth godin, silk soy milk, ted talk, wonder bread | Leave a Comment »