What Everlane gets right about marketing to women

What Everlane gets right about marketing to women

Everlane says it underwear has been in high demand:

The company had a wait list of 30,000 even before last week’s launch. (Courtesy of Everlane)“No frills. No bows. No bulls***,” says Everlane’s newest marketing campaign for its line of cotton panties, bras and women’s bodysuits. “Underwear should be made for you. But for decades, it’s been designed with someone else in mind.”

If Victoria Secret wants you to believe it makes lingerie for perfect angels fallen from heaven, then Everlane is hawking wares for the other 99 percent. The socially-minded company known for its basics, says it has a solution: Cotton underwear that’s designed to be comfortable. The items are promoted on its website with unaltered images of women of different shapes, sizes and colors — with full bellies and stretch marks and cellulite. It’s no secret, advertising professors say, that today’s customer wants more than airbrushed images. Brands like Dove and Nike have found mainstream success — and racked up millions of dollars in sales — with marketing campaigns that challenge traditional beauty ideals.

There has been a slow but steady shift, industry insiders say, toward more realistic advertising as beauty and clothing companies embrace more natural portrayals of women. Companies like Asos and ModCloth have pledged to stop retouching photos, and lingerie brand Aerie says sales have increased by at least 20 percent each year since it stopped airbrushing its ads four years ago. Everlane, experts say, is taking that message a step further with its unapologetic advertising. “You can see stretchmarks on some of these women — stretchmarks!,” said Angeline Close Scheinbaum, an advertising professor at the University of Texas at Austin. “That alone will resonate with millions of women.”

Online retailers seize on long-ignored market: Women size 16 and up

Consumers are more likely to pay attention to an ad when they can relate to it, Scheinbaum says. For example, “if you’re not in the market for a car, your brain tends to tune out ads about sedans or SUVs,” she said. “Subconsciously, you check out a bit. But when you see someone who looks like you or has your body type, your brain might give it some more thought.”

That is increasingly true of today’s 20-, 30- and 40-somethings, advertising experts say. After all, sales at Victoria’s Secret — a company known for its sexy ads and lingerie-filled fashion shows — have been sloping downward for months. The brand’s sales tumbled 8 percent last year, following a flat performance in 2016. The stock price of its parent company, L Brands, has fallen nearly 60 percent since 2016. Everlane’s marketing campaign for its new underwear line was created in house by a woman-led team. None of the photographs were retouched. (Courtesy of Everlane)

And while Victoria’s Secret “angels” may have attracted customers in the past, today’s shoppers increasingly think of the brand as “forced” and “fake,” according to a Wells Fargo consumer survey. Traditionally, advertisers have leaned on highly polished, idealized images to appeal to people’s aspirations. “This generation is calling BS on traditional labels from all different angles,” said Beth Egan, 52, an advertising professor at Syracuse University. “Whereas my generation and the generation before mine both bought into idealized versions in advertising, these women are saying, ‘I’m going to do me and it’s going to be fabulous.'”

At Everlane, an in-house team of about 15 employees — mostly women — put together the campaign for the underwear line, which launched last Monday. They decided from the beginning that none of the photos would be retouched, not even for the company’s billboards in Los Angeles and New York, said Alexandra Spunt, head of Everlane’s creative team. “For such a long time, the underwear industry has put up this image that in order to be sexy, you can’t be comfortable,” she said. “We wanted to show that that isn’t the case by casting these beautiful, natural, confident women who felt super comfortable in their own skin.”

Everlane is opening its first stores, after years of swearing it wouldn’t

But others point out that Everlane’s message isn’t necessarily all-inclusive. Underwear sizes begin at XXS but max out at XL. “At first glance, you look at the ads and say, ‘Oh, they’re using unconventional models. It’s not all bone-thin women with enormous breasts like you might see in a Victoria’s Secret ad,'” said Meenakshi Gigi Durham, a professor at the University of Iowa whose work focuses on media, gender and sexuality. “But then you look closer, and it still all falls within a fairly limited range of bodies.”

Durham also took issue with some of the wording in the company’s ads.

“The language is about comfort and empowerment, but it also continues to emphasize dissatisfaction with things like ‘camel toe,’ which is a term that’s used to embarrass and shame women,” Durham said. “I don’t see this as very non-conformist or resistant. Women are very savvy consumers. and they can see when a corporate marketing campaign is capitalizing on feminist dissent and dissatisfaction with feminist beauty ideals.”

But Spunt of Everlane says demand has been brisk. More than 30,000 people were on a wait list for its cotton underwear ahead of last week’s launch, and she says women in particular seem to have responded to the new ad campaign. (Its men’s underwear line, by comparison, is being promoted by more traditional models who are young, thin and muscular.) “We felt like this was more of a women’s story this time,” Spunt said. “We wanted that to be our focus.”

Chuck Reynolds


Marketing Dept
Contributor

Please click either Link to learn more about Marketing.
Interested or have Questions, Call Me, 559-474-4614

Thomas Prendergast

Investor: Banks [Goldman Sachs] Entering Crypto Will Lead to Bitcoin Price Surge

Investor: Banks [Goldman Sachs] Entering Crypto Will Lead to Bitcoin Price Surge

Bitcoin price $10,000

Jon Matonis, a co-founder of Bitcoin Foundation and executive at VISA,

stated that the entrance of major banks and financial institutions like Goldman Sachs will lead to an increase in the liquidity of bitcoin, and ultimately, the bitcoin price. “I think it’s fabulous that they’re getting into it because it brings in new liquidity. They’re going to develop futures markets, options markets, I even think you’re going to start to see interest rate markets around bitcoin. We’re used to hearing things about Libor, the index for bitcoin interest rates is Bibor,” said Matonis.

When Will Banks Enter?

The cryptocurrency market is extremely volatile, both on the upside and downside. One of the primary reasons behind the extreme volatility of the market is its lack of liquidity. The daily trading volume of bitcoin and other major cryptocurrencies has substantially declined since a major correction occurred in January, along with the bitcoin price.

A significant drop in the daily volume of bitcoin has allowed whales and institutional investors in the futures market to manipulate the market, which is one of the reasons as to why the market has demonstrated correlated price movements over the past few months.

Recently, the Chicago Board Options Exchange (Cboe) has proposed to the US Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) to allow bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) on US stock markets like Nasdaq and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). The entrance of large financial institutions like Goldman Sachs will lead to more institutional and retail traders entering the cryptocurrency space.

As of current, the demand from institutional investors in the US is relatively high, but actual capital coming in to the cryptocurrency market from the public finance industry is almost non-existent. In Japan however, institutional investors are investing large sums of money in cryptocurrencies through trading platforms that specifically address retail traders.

Matonis further emphasized that to the skeptics that have described bitcoin as a bubble, bitcoin is not a bubble, but a pin that would pop the global financial bubble. He stated that equity markets and bond markets are the multi-trillion dollar bubbles that would inevitably burst in the mid-term.  the people who say bitcoin’s a bubble, I would say bitcoin is the pin that’s going to pop the bubble. The bubble is the insane bond markets and the fake equity markets that are propped up by the central banks. Those are the bubbles,” Matonis added.

It is uncertain though when major financial institutions will be ready to enter the market. Critically, the cryptocurrency market’s image over the past few months has been portrayed as a gambling ecosystem, especially by the mainstream media in regions like South Korea. If the market recovers in the short-term and cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin rebound to their all-time highs, banks will prepare to address the growing demand towards the market.

Bear Cycle

In a bear cycle or a slump, financial institutions will not be hurrying to enter the market, unless they want to establish themselves at the forefront of cryptocurrency development prior to their competitors. It would take at least a few months to see major banks enter the space. But, when they do, the cryptocurrency market will be equipped with significant liquidity and public investment vehicles.

Chuck Reynolds


Marketing Dept
Contributor

Please click either Link to learn more about Bitcoin.
Interested or have Questions, Call Me, 559-474-4614

Thomas Prendergast

Crypto Prizes On The Rise, Magical Marketing Or Another Scam?

Crypto Prizes On The Rise, Magical Marketing Or Another Scam?

 

The art world, the gaming world, and even a few app developers

 

are jumping onto the trend that is cryptocurrencies, seeing them as a perfect prize to tantilize and attract people to their work. But what is the end goal for these people and companies? There is of course a lot of free marketing that comes up when ever cryptocurrencies are tied to something – the real estate sector has felt that – but, for an abstract artist like Andy Bauch, it adds another layer of intrigue and interest to his work. Gaming companies have also found a technological link to the digital currency, setting it up as a prize for a global market. They too can benefit from the hype, but can also entice a bigger audience with a collectively attractive prize.

Why are these cropping up?

Prizes are nothing new, especially when it comes to games, or even sporting events. However, the allure of Bitcoin is starting to spread to the likes of puzzles and paintings too. What is the appeal of attaching a Bitcoin-based prize to a game that someone can beat, or a puzzle that someone can solve in a painting?

One of the biggest reasons for this has to be that generally, Bitcoin media comes with a lot of hype and free publicity. There have been many instances where pretty mundane occurrences, like selling a house, have suddenly garnered a lot of attention because of a Bitcoin price. The real estate market was a prime example of this as a £17 mln mansion in Notting Hill, UK saw unprecedented interest since it went on sale in October last year. Saurabh Saxena, founder of property firm Houzen has said of Bitcoin marketing in

the real estate sector:

“I sincerely believe that Bitcoin as a currency or exchange medium is not sustainable. It's purely a marketing gimmick.”

The same could be said about this latest trend of Bitcoin prizes for solving puzzles and games. Everyone knows what it means to be a struggling artist, with little to no recognition of fame – see Vincent van Gogh – but, by incorporating a Bitcoin puzzle, suddenly the news is all over the internet and the name achieves a level of fame.

The Legend of Satoshi Nakamoto

Artist Marguerite deCourcelle has, on three occasions, hidden Bitcoin prizes in digital paintings for the public to unearth. The Bitcoin puzzle series, “The Legend of Satoshi Nakamoto”, has been going on for a long time. It took nearly three years for the third puzzle in the series, “TORCHED H34R7S”, to be solved – recently by an anonymous winner. When DeCourcelle and her team originally placed the key to the Bitcoin wallet into the digital painting, the wallet contained 4.87 Bitcoins – which was, at the time, worth about $1,400. DeCourcelle explained Cointelegraph how she got into cryptocurrency and why she thought this would be a good idea to merge

this with cryptic puzzles:

“In 2013, I was reading books such as Diamond Age, Snowcrash, Ready Player One, Daemon and Freedom which all share an underlying theme: a metaverse with currency that is valuable in both real world and virtual world. I was just learning about Bitcoin around this time, and Bitcoin immediately stood out to me as something that crosses these barriers. I realized that I could break down "money" into a string of information and encode it visually with patterns or layered strategy to encode the information in a more dynamic way – in other words, using game play to unlock a sequence that would otherwise be hidden.”

“Blockchain is a treasure trove of unexplored potential for how information transcends a virtual existence and can be simultaneously rooted in the real world. In the early days of Bitcoin, artists were asked to "show" the Blockchain through conceptual art. This was really hard to do. People also wanted to ‘see’ a Bitcoin – it was hard to accept that money wasn't tangible. So a natural bridge to this for me was to ‘show’ people Bitcoin using art as the gateway.”

New money

Artist Andy Bauch’s new painting series “New Money” combines art and cryptocurrencies by hiding abstract codes in his Lego artwork. The paintings represent the private keys to wallets containing as much as $9,000 worth of cryptocurrencies each. Again, Bauch has been given a free bout of publicity for combining the two worlds of art and cryptocurrency, leveraging the fact that cryptocurrencies being ferocious for any news that emanates from society. However, it would appear that Bauch is not only doing this for the fame as his abstract pieces obviously have a narrative behind them, especially with the exhibition be labeled ‘New Money.’

A gaming gift

As well as artists, gaming companies are also hiding cryptocurrency in their games for those who reach the end first. Montecrypto: The Bitcoin Enigma is a game that will feature an digital world players navigate in the first person, solving 24 ‘enigmas’ in order to claim the ultimate prize of 1 full Bitcoin. The developers have remained anonymous, with their wish to remain as such until the prize is claimed, but they have mentioned in

the game’s FAQ’s that:

“We are not here to advertise Bitcoin. We think it can be fun to have a Bitcoin as a prize for our game.”

Neon District is another game that is launching soon that will have a crypto prize at the end, this time 15 Ethereum (ETH). This game comes from the same team that is behind the digital painting series; they clearly believe this is a good tool for marketing.

Is there a chance to be scammed?

DeCourcelle spoke to Cointelegraph about trust, and its importance, as she came to realise that in the cryptocurrency space, there is a lot of space for people to be trusted, and for that

to be abused.

“I think people are absolutely wary of being scammed. I've found that my puzzles or my endorsement of a puzzle has given people confidence to pursue a contest. Similarly anyone in the space who is ‘trusted’ also brings legitimacy to projects. But it doesn't take much to shake that trust, so we hold it close to our chest and do our best to not lead people astray.”

With the third puzzle being solved only last month in DeCourcelle’s series, she and her team have built up a decent reputation in regards to this tiny, but growing, facet of cryptocurrency. However, she admits that regardless of whether a company or person is offering Bitcoin prizes, or initial coin offerings (ICOs), trust and reputation is paramount.

“I think even in the ICO space, people are launching projects who have no business doing so as they've never had a proven product. Why would people throw time or money at anything that may never come to fruition? Trust and the ability to carry projects across a finish line means everything to a community who is backing a project,”

she told Cointelegraph.

“We're working on trustless systems that still rely heavily on trusting people based on social merit or reputation-based systems. Most ‘giveaways’ these days do not turn heads. In the old days, you could tweet – "1 Bitcoin for one lucky follower" and include a fancy gif. This doesn't work anymore.”

Chuck Reynolds


Marketing Dept
Contributor

Please click either Link to learn more about Marketing.
Interested or have Questions, Call Me, 559-474-4614

Thomas Prendergast

Bitcoin is Dead — Bitcoin Cash is Satoshi Nakamoto’s Real Vision

Bitcoin is Dead — Bitcoin Cash is Satoshi Nakamoto’s Real Vision

We at Bitcoinist can no longer deny the truth —
Bitcoin is dead, and Bitcoin Cash is indeed Satoshi Nakamoto’s real vision.

Policy Update

First and foremost, Bitcoinist has updated its publication guidelines. Articles published on the website — starting with this one — will no longer refer to BTC as “Bitcoin.” To avoid confusion, the cryptocurrency BTC will hereby be referred to as “Bitcoin Core” or, in some instances, “Bitcoin Legacy.” As Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is undoubtedly Satoshi Nakamoto’s real vision, Bitcoinist will hereby refer to BCH simply as “Bitcoin.”

SegWit’s Lead is a Lie

For those who don’t know, the hard-forked Bitcoin (BCH) is a cryptocurrency which came into existence as a result of a prolonged disagreement on how to handle the Bitcoin Core scalability problem. Bitcoin has since proven superior to Bitcoin Core’s answer — Segregated Witness (SegWit) — despite what some research might want you to believe.

According to BitMEX Research, 6.1 million SegWit transactions have taken place since the launch of rival Bitcoin Cash — 20.1% more than Bitcoin’s total number of transactions. The research also claims that, when the timeframe is adjusted to accommodate for Bitcoin’s one-month head start over SegWit, the latter solution actually has a 31.5% advantage over Bitcoin.

But why should you believe BitMEX Research? After all, the results are most likely skewed, if not entirely fabricated, as a result of Coinbase’s recent adoption of SegWit. (Seriously, who even uses Coinbase or GDAX?) If there’s one thing we at Bitcoinist have learned over the past 5 years, it’s that nobody should ever trust these supposed “statistics” from likely sockpuppets.

Vitalik Buterin Knows the Truth

Only those ignorant of the cryptocurrency market would continue to believe that Bitcoin Core is superior to Bitcoin. Even Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin has gone on record to state that Bitcoin Core has failed, and that the BCH has every right to the Bitcoin name. If Buterin’s above tweet doesn’t convince you of Bitcoin’s superiority over Bitcoin Core, maybe this picture of him holding a BCH Gang t-shirt will. Furthermore, Bitcoin (Cash) has seen an increased acceptance within the ransomware community. If that doesn’t lend legitimacy to Satoshi’s real vision, what does?

A Propaganda Campaign

Additionally, we at Bitcoinist can also no longer sit by and idly accept Bitcoin Core’s malicious propaganda campaign against Satoshi’s real vision. As you may or may not know, BCH — as the one, true Bitcoin — successfully reclaimed the Twitter handle @Bitcoin. Since then, Bitcoin Core fanboys have maliciously slandered BCH, despite Bitcoin’s propensity to remain professional, transparent, and collected. Take, for example, the following Twitter poll from @Bitcoin:

@Bitcoin clearly tried to inform the cryptocurrency community of true statements regarding Bitcoin Core but was bombarded by Blockstream trolls ignorant of Bitcoin’s superior block sizes and vibrant community. There are countless reasons why Bitcoin Core is no longer Bitcoin. But the top three are:

  • The real Satoshi, Craig Wright, is a vocal supporter of Bitcoin (Cash). Moreover, true geniuses scribble math equations on transparent glass. Check it out:
  • The Bitcoin.com domain supports Bitcoin (Cash). Sorry Bitcoin Core but the .org just isn’t sexy enough to be the real deal. (Are they trying to run a global currency or a public library?)
  • Finally, Roger ‘Bitcoin Jesus’ Ver believes in Bitcoin (Cash). So just have faith, the BCH price will be resur-rekt-ed!

Bitcoin has died over 273 times. Unfortunately for BlockstreamCore and its sockpuppets, it is now officially dead to us. Long live Bitcoin!

Chuck Reynolds


Marketing Dept
Contributor

Please click either Link to learn more about Bitcoin.
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Thomas Prendergast

Can agile work for marketing?

Can agile work for marketing?

Given that my company sells an agile platform

and has more than 5,000 engineers using agile practices, you’d think we would have adopted agile marketing as a no-brainer, right? After all, agile isn’t about code, it’s about how you approach a problem. And marketers share many of the same goals as developers: We want to be faster to market, have more business impact, and build a more engaged team. So why wouldn’t agile work for marketing?

As leader of the CA Technologies product marketing organization, I had my concerns about going agile. Many development teams are small and co-located, making it easy to stay zeroed in on a compact, well-defined deliverable. But our marketing staff is large, dispersed, and conditioned to long-duration initiatives. I wasn’t sure agile marketing could work at scale.

Turns out, it can. I say that after a few years of trial. Has it been a straight shot? Definitely not. On our journey we’ve run many experiments, not all intentional. We’ve had our share of ups and downs — our own “hype cycle” — building our expectations only to enter a period of disillusionment before eventually leveling out on a road of productivity. But it’s been worth it. We didn’t rush headlong into agile marketing. We moved slowly, answering a key question in each phase.

Question 1:
Can agile work for marketing?

In 2013, I joined a business unit to run strategy, marketing, and business development. It was all-in on agile, across all functions. I took a SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) course and started applying a few of the principles to our strategy and product marketing, but I knew we were just playing at the fringes.

We continued to “dabble” in agile until an important catalyst in 2015: the acquisition of Rally Software, a leading provider of agile development software and services. Pre-acquisition, Rally’s 20 or so marketers had been applying agile methodologies for about two quarters. During the integration process, I observed that their marketing team seemed very engaged. It intrigued me enough to give agile more of a try.

About six months after the Rally acquisition, we started small, with a 35-person delivery group to support our Agile Management business unit, intentionally merging legacy CA marketers with no agile experience and Rally marketers. The team divided into smaller, project-based teams and began to break projects down into two weeks sprints. We began hosting quarterly “Big Room Planning” with stakeholders from across the business, initiated 2-3 standup meetings per week for individual teams, and had bi-weekly sprint planning and “demos” to inform and get input from stakeholders from sales and business.  While not large, our experiment tested a range of team and product variables typically encountered in a larger marketing organization, such as co-located vs. distributed teams, SaaS vs. on-premises products, and products that spanned from early concept to mature.

The experiment went well. The teams figured out how to work in a more distributed environment, and agile marketing was showing it could scale to a larger number of diverse products. Our teams were happier too, with our CA marketers more engaged, feeling appropriately involved in decisions affecting their work, and feeling valued as an employee — significant increases compared to the prior year and compared to CA overall.

Question 2:
Agile is good for the team, but is it good for the business?

With an overall marketing team of nearly 350 marketers, I still needed to measure the impact of agile marketing on the business before I was willing to scale it beyond our sample team of 35 individuals. An opportunity presented itself to see the agile marketing team vs. a traditional marketing team working side by side – literally – as two groups conducted planning sessions across the hall from each other. My job was to run back and forth across the hall to stay informed and steer the teams when necessary.

At the outset, the meetings appeared to be very similar and totally agile. Both rooms housed smart people and a certified agile coach to facilitate. They had the materials necessary for an agile meeting: post-it notes, pipe cleaners, and Play-Doh for restless hands. The meeting agendas were clear and time-boxed. The agile jargon was flowing freely.

After a few roundtrips across the hall, though,  the contrast was unmistakable. The agile delivery group developed a shared vision, defined business objectives, and included a cross-functional team (product and field marketing, web, digital sales, etc.) – everyone necessary to make decisions and commitments was in the room. When they adjourned the meeting, they were ready and committed to act immediately on their plan and start their first sprint.

In the other room, I watched the dependency list grow and business commitments shrink. They couldn’t commit to deliverables that would have measurable business impact, since the other dependent functions and their decision makers were not there. After the meetings, I came to understand what true agile could mean to marketing: higher velocity of decision making, improved alignment across functions, and commitments to business impact.

Question 3:
Agile is good for the business, but can it scale across marketing?

Despite witnessing the benefits, it took one more in-my-face moment to give me the confidence to scale it across our whole marketing organization. In August 2016, management tasked seven product line marketing teams – one agile, six traditional — with building a competitive campaign. After the campaign elements were in market, we gathered the teams for a retrospective and mapped a timeline of their activities along with each participant’s relevant work, engagement, visibility into progress across the team, and their feelings (expressed with smiley faces) on how it went.

The agile delivery group sailed into first place even though they started with the least amount of competitive research. They were easily twice as fast getting their campaign into market. Their strengths were common ownership, accountability, and collective prioritization of this task against their other work. They knew who was doing what when and stayed aligned via the agile ceremonies. They even pivoted twice because of real-time stakeholder input. Even with the heavy workload there were no reported frowny faces.

The six non-agile teams did not fare well. Without clarity on ownership and accountability, they took ages to get started and had difficulty juggling this priority against other departmental objectives. They reported poor visibility into what other team members were doing and were often surprised when a dependent task was completed and tossed over the wall to them. There were lots of frowny faces. I saw that agile marketing made a difference in engagement, velocity, and quality. It was time for us to further scale it up.

Where we are now

Today we have six business unit-aligned Delivery Groups, each consisting of all the marketers that actively support the business activities of that business unit. Our agile marketing reach is now over 100 people within CA, with about 60 practicing every day as part of our core agile delivery teams. The others are specialists in communications, data science, and regional marketing, who support the core teams when needed, as well as active stakeholders, such as digital sales, who meet with our teams regularly to provide critical feedback.

What we’ve learned

We are still learning – this is a journey, not a destination — but we have some lessons to share:

  • Marketing and app development teams really are different.  
    Marketing teams need more vision and context to develop solid messaging and campaigns. We addressed this by investing in quarterly “big room planning” and more time to set the vision, align the strategy, and plan initiatives. Standups and weekly metrics keep us directed.
  • The nature of some marketing work is hard to deliver in two-week sprints.
    We developed persistent teams to handle ongoing, demand campaigns and temporary or initiative-based teams to handle specific events, such as a product launch or CA World. We flexibly staff the temporary teams based on need.
  • Traditional agile terminology isn’t a great fit for agile marketing,
    so we use terms that resonate with marketers. For example: “features” become “initiatives”, “release train” becomes “delivery group,” and “release train engineer” becomes “coach.”
  • Our departmental managers had the hardest adjustment.
    They no longer could add work to an employee of “theirs” who is part of an agile team. They had to shift gears from directing to coaching; they had to learn “servant leadership.” We underestimated the coaching they needed, and sometimes we outright forgot to include them in the initial ceremonies.
  • Watch out for “Agile Theater,”
    groups with the jargon and paraphernalia, but who lack the cross-functional representation, empowerment, and goal alignment that drive true agile marketing.
  • Commitment from the top down is essential.
    This is too big a shift in the way things are done for a sneak attack. Get support, get a coach, and get ready to experiment and learn.

Agile marketing works at scale

Our teams are more engaged, our campaign delivery times have decreased, our marketing-sourced pipeline has increased, and the win rate of marketing-sourced opportunities has increased. So if you think agile is only for small, colocated marketing teams, I urge you to reconsider. But know it won’t be a quick fix and the journey may be bumpy at times.

Chuck Reynolds


Marketing Dept
Contributor

Please click either Link to learn more about Marketing.
Interested or have Questions, Call Me, 559-474-4614

Thomas Prendergast

An Inside Look At China’s Government Controlled Cryptocurrency Project

An Inside Look At China’s Government Controlled Cryptocurrency Project


China, a country that has exerted more control over cryptocurrency than most,

continues to move forward in its efforts to introduce a government-controlled cryptocurrency. A group of Shanghai reporters recently got a chance to learn about this secretive project during the Global Blockchain Summit Forum, sina.com.cn reported. The visit shed light on the extent of the government’s efforts to create a national cryptocurrency. The reporters visited the Bank of China Credit Card Industry Development Co., Ltd. Hangzhou Blockchain Technology Research Institute.

Standards Announced

China’s ministry of industry and information technology revealed last week that it has already conducted a study exploring a framework for standardizing blockchain technology domestically. The ministry’s information and software services division and the China Electronics Standardization Institute proposed that a new technical committee to be established.

The embracive stance toward blockchain technology is in stark contrast to China’s crippling curbs against local cryptocurrency markets which have seen initial coin offerings (ICOs) outlawed and crypto exchanges phased out to effectively shutter domestic trading markets.

The China Banknote Bank Credit Card Industry Development Co., Ltd., one of the core companies of the China Banknote Printing and Minting Corporation, is the earliest team to study digital currency and blockchain technology within the central bank system, sina.com.cn reported. The team last year established the Banknote Blockchain Technology Institute. Leading the team is the central bank’s science and technology leader Zhang Yifeng. According to Yifeng, the overall research and development team is less than 100 people.

The Project Progresses

The China Boxer Blockchain Technology Research Institute has applied for 22 blockchain technology invention patents so far, sina.com.cn reported. The team’s underlying technology architecture has been completed and the central bank’s digital billing business has also been completed, according to Yifeng. Currently, it is promoting the opening and closing of a blockchain registration platform. Yifeng said the most important part of the blockchain is to re-optimize the technology in combination with the actual business while looking for application scenarios.

Not only can the participants of the platform use it, they can also conduct institutional certification and circulation, and achieve mutual trust and cooperation among all parties. The biggest difference between digital currency and the existing electronic payment is that it can be account-based or non-account-based, Yifeng said. Digital currency seeks to facilitate the convenience, speed and low cost of a retail payment system, while at the same time providing security and protection of user privacy.

Only The Official Cryptocurrency Recognized

Only the statutory digital currency issued by the central bank is the real digital currency, he said. Not bitcoin or Ethereum. The digital currency represented by bitcoin is actually a digital asset with stronger attributes, more volatility, and mostly lacks intrinsic value, he said. Digital currency still needs to satisfy the basic attributes of money, and the basic characteristics of value scale, exchange media, payment instruments, and value storage have not changed.

The coins issued by ICO are even more ridiculous, Yifeng said. In addition, he asked, how can a sovereign credit currency act as a liquidity instrument and payment instrument? There is no clear timetable for the launch of the legal digital currency, he said. Meanwhile, the Blockchain Technology Research Institute will establish cooperative relationships with a number of universities and research institutes to promote research in areas such as cryptography algorithms, zero-knowledge proofs, and distributed technologies. At the same time, it will apply for more financial technology patents.

The Digital Billing Platform based on blockchain technology that was undertaken by the Group of China Boxer Blockchain Technology Research Institute in 2016 was successfully tested on the Stock Exchange on Jan. 25 this year, according to sina.com.cn. Fan Guiluo, chairman of China Bills Credit Card Industry Development Co., Ltd., said that blockchain, as a trusted technology, will be used under the trustworthy system of the Chinese banknote printing and minting company.

Chuck Reynolds


Marketing Dept
Contributor

Please click either Link to learn more about Bitcoin.
Interested or have Questions, Call Me, 559-474-4614

Thomas Prendergast

As marketing data proliferates, consumers should have more control

As marketing data proliferates, consumers should have more control

smart phone with business report in modern office

At the Adobe Summit in Las Vegas this week,

privacy was on the minds of many people. It was no wonder with social media data abuse dominating the headlines, GDPR just around the corner, and Adobe announcing the concept of a centralized customer experience record.

With so many high profile breaches in recent years, putting your customer data in a central record-keeping system would seem to be a dangerous proposition, yet Adobe sees so many positives for marketers, it likely believes this to be a worthy trade-off. Which is not to say that the company doesn’t see the risks. Executives speaking at the conference continually insisted that privacy is always part of the conversation at Adobe as they build tools — and they have built in security and privacy safeguards into the customer experience record.

Ben Kepes, an independent analyst says this kind of data collection does raise ethical questions about how to use it. “This new central repository of data about individuals is going to be incredibly attractive to Adobe’s customers. The company is doing what big brands and corporations ask for. But in these post-Cambridge Analytica days, I wonder how much of a moral obligation Adobe and the other vendors have to ensure their tools are used for good purposes,” Kepes asked.

Offering better experiences

It’s worth pointing out that the goal of this exercise isn’t simply to collect data for data’s sake. It’s to offer consumers a more customized and streamlined experience. How does that work? There was a demo in the keynote illustrating a woman’s experience with a hotel brand. Brad Rencher, EVP and GM at Adobe Experience Cloud explains Adobe’s Cloud offerings. Photo: Jeff Bottari/Invision for Adobe/AP Images

The mythical woman started a reservation for a trip to New York City, got distracted in the middle and was later “reminded” to return to it via Facebook ad. She completed the reservation and was later issued a digital key to her room, allowing her to bypass the front desk check-in process. Further, there was a personal greeting on the television in her room with a custom message and suggestions for entertainment based on her known preferences. As one journalist pointed out in the press event, this level of detail from the hotel is not something that would thrill him (beyond the electronic check-in). Yet there doesn’t seem to be a way to opt out of that data (unless you live in the EU and will be subject to GDPR rules).

Consumers may want more control

As it turns out, that reporter wasn’t alone. According to a survey conducted last year by The Economist Intelligence Unit in conjunction with ForgeRock, an identity management company, consumers are not just willing sheep that tech companies may think we are. The survey was conducted last October with 1,629 consumers participating from eight countries including Australia, China, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, the UK and the US. It’s worth noting that survey questions were asked in the context of Internet of Things data, but it seems that the results could be more broadly applied to any types of data collection activities by brands.

There are a couple of interesting data points that perhaps brands should heed as they collect customer data in the fashion outlined by Adobe. In particular as it relates to what Adobe and other marketing software companies are trying to do to build a central customer profile, when asked to rate the statement, “I am uncomfortable with companies building a “profile” of me to predict my consumer behaviour,” 39 percent strongly agreed with that statement. Another 35 percent somewhat agreed. That would suggest that consumers aren’t necessarily thrilled with this idea.

When presented with the statement, Providing my personal information may have more drawbacks than benefits, 32 percent strongly agreed and 41 percent somewhat agreed. That would suggest that it is on the brand to make it clearer to consumers that they are collecting that data to provide a better overall experience, because it appears that consumers who answered this survey are not necessarily making that connection.

Perhaps it wasn’t a coincidence that at a press conference after the Day One keynote announcing the unified customer experience record, many questions from analysts and journalists focused on notions of privacy. If Adobe is helping companies gather and organize customer data, what role do they have in how their customers’ use that data, what role does the brand have and how much control should consumers have over their own data?

These are questions we seem to be answering on the fly. The technology is here now or very soon will be, and wherever the data comes from, whether the web, mobile devices or the Internet of Things, we need to get a grip on the privacy implications — and we need to do it quickly. If consumers want more control as this survey suggests, maybe it’s time for companies to give it to them.

Chuck Reynolds


Marketing Dept
Contributor

Please click either Link to learn more about Marketing.
Interested or have Questions, Call Me, 559-474-4614

Thomas Prendergast

Taxing All Bitcoin Buying Will Backfire for the IRS

Taxing All Bitcoin Buying Will Backfire for the IRS

Bitcoin has a remarkable way of teaching people very rapidly about the law of unintended consequences.  

A great example is when the Chinese government began inspecting regulated exchanges in February 2017. Believing that the exchanges might get shut down (they eventually did), buyers flocked to Localbitcoins, a peer-to-peer exchange whose volume surged 3,600% in the course of a month. By trying to keep better track of and control bitcoin users in China, the government drove them to a method that was much harder to surveil. In the U.S., the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) treatment of bitcoin taxation has arguably had a similar effect.

By effectively telling taxpayers they need to calculate capital gains taxes for every $25 gift card purchased with bitcoin, the IRS is giving them one more reason to treat bitcoin less like a payment protocol and more like digital gold. But perhaps more importantly from a public-policy perspective, the agency's guidance may encourage citizens to use unregulated foreign cryptocurrency exchanges and transact using privacy coins such as zcash and monero. It's almost certainly a contributing factor behind the estimated 0.5% self-reporting rate among bitcoin users come tax time. The vast majority of bitcoin users I know understand that paying taxes on short- and long-term capital gains is not only required by law, but also fair.  The same cannot be said for the taxing of purchases of low-dollar items under the guidance that the IRS issued four years ago.

The 2014 guidance

Stepping back, when that guidance came out in March 2014, the market looked very different. It had been less than a month since Mt Gox ceased all withdrawals, and a teenage Vitalik Buterin had just introduced a "client that looks like Android that can run apps" called ethereum. I was at Coinsummit 2014 the week the IRS published its guidance stating that digital currency would be treated as property, even if it was being used to buy baseball caps or MP3s.

At the conference, I asked Vinny Lingham, then CEO of Gyft.com, what support his company might offer for customers who had purchased gift cards with bitcoin on his platform over the past year. His answer was that while Gyft could make it easier to track spending, it would be unable to verify the cost basis of any bitcoin used to make purchases. As a result, all purchasers of these gift cards would either: 1) manually track all their purchases, sales, gains, losses, and transfers 2) stop using bitcoin to purchase gift cards or 3) become white collar criminals who don't report a portion of their taxes.

I don't think it's a mere coincidence that 2014 was the year the bitcoin community started to bifurcate between those who invested in it as store of value and those who used it as a currency to make purchases. This division only grew sharper in the years, and led last year to the fork in protocols of bitcoin and bitcoin cash. To be sure, there were many factors behind the split: from the differing incentives between startups and other factions of the community to bitcoin's deflationary nature and rapid price appreciation.

But by ignoring the consumer-usage angle and focusing solely on investing and speculating, the IRS further incentivized HODLing and discouraged everyday purchases with digital currency. Bitcoin's track record as a speculative investment has not disappointed, either, with the value of bitcoin up 2,000 percent since the IRS first released its guidance, while daily transactions (an admittedly unscientific measure of bitcoin's use as a payment method) have merely doubled.

In the IRS' own interest

As an agency narrowly focused on maximizing revenue, the IRS is probably indifferent to the way people choose to use bitcoin, so long as gains are reported and taxes paid. But by discouraging the real-world use of cryptocurrencies as money for purchasing goods, the IRS is reducing the incentive for companies in the space to build robust tools to track spending and improve tax reporting. There might be a straightforward way for the IRS to mitigate these consequences, though.  

A year ago, Coin Center, a non-profit research and advocacy center focused on the public policy issues facing cryptocurrency technologies, published a piece entitled "Bitcoin taxation is broken. Here's how to fix it."  In this post, Executive Director Jerry Brito argued that when bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies are used to purchase goods such as coffee or socks, they are being used not as investments, but similar to the way in which foreign currencies are used by Americans to purchase goods abroad.

Brito went on:  

"Say you buy 100 euros for 100 dollars because you're spending the week in France. Before you get to France, the exchange rate of the Euro rises so that the €100 you bought are now worth $105. When you buy a baguette with your euros, you experience a gain, but the tax code has a de minimis exemption for personal foreign currency transactions, so you don't have to report this gain on your taxes."

By implementing a similar de minimus exemption for cryptocurrency gains under $200, the IRS could massively simplify the tax code in this area and make it more likely that bitcoin users will report their gains properly.  These ideas are not entirely dissimilar from ones I proposed in a 2014 paper on the same subject.  Not only would this spare bitcoiners from having to keep records of every piddling purchase they make or live in fear of prosecution, it might also improve overall tax compliance. How's that for counterintuitive results?

Chuck Reynolds


Marketing Dept
Contributor

Please click either Link to learn more about Bitcoin.
Interested or have Questions, Call Me, 559-474-4614

Thomas Prendergast

Why Relying Solely on Social Media Marketing Could Be a Disaster for Your Business

Why Relying Solely on Social Media Marketing Could Be a Disaster for Your Business

This old-school technique may not be sexy, but it offers big returns.
 

It seems like every day some new influencer is posting about the death of email.

Fancy cars, cool videos and hordes of fans have them convinced email is useless. Not only that, they want you to follow the hype and buy their new strategy for Instagram, Snapchat or whatever else is trending. As your trusted digital marketing consultant, I'm here to tell you: Don't trust the hype. Email is alive and stronger than ever. It may not be sexy, might not allow you to showboat your success, but if you take a look under the hood, you'll find email is still the champion for online sales. In fact, here is a comprehensive list of 70 incredible email statistics to make any business owner salivate and start typing up those unsexy emails to make more profits.

From the list of those salacious email statistics, one of the most notable metrics for entrepreneurs is this one from the Direct Marketing Association: For every dollar spent, email marketing generates $38 in ROI. I love that little piece of data, and from my own experience, in many months my return on investment has been over 1000 percent. Since I've made a great deal of income with social media, I can't argue with the fact that it helps to create revenue, but when it comes to the hierarchy of importance, email comes first. This one tragic event of internet celebrity Felix Baum losing millions of fans because Facebook deleted his account paints a clear picture as to why building social media leaves you vulnerable. Since he didn't own the information of his fans, there was nothing he could do.

In contrast, if Baum owned the list of his fans, if his provider shut him down for some reason, he could just migrate his list of subscribers to another hosting service — and he'd still be able to communicate with them. The panacea to being so susceptible on social media hosting sites is simple — build your email list.

How to capitalize on email

By now, I hope we're on the same page — email isn't sexy, but it's worth it. To capitalize on email, you'll need to start collecting emails from your web visitors. Doing this isn't hard; it'll take just a bit of time, thought and elbow grease. First, you'll need to place email capture boxes strategically. The first place your website should do this is in the upper middle half of your site's homepage (right above the scroll). To see an example, here's my website. On average, we currently collect upwards of 50 emails a day. If your email box is large, easy to spot and catches your visitors' eyes — they're more likely to give you their information. Oh, and did I mention that those opt-in boxes help us generate upwards of 50 new leads on a daily basis? Imagine that, having a website that collects prospects for you — while you work, eat, sleep and take care of the kids.

The next place to have an email capture box is at the bottom of your website, across all pages. Some examples of major brands that do this are Victoria's Secret, Eddie Baur, Ralph Lauren and O'Reilly Autoparts, just to name a few. Another way to capture emails is through a pop-up on your website. Yes, I said it, install one of those annoying pop-ups on your site. I know that as a user you hate them, but the data is clear — pop-up email opt-in boxes work. It's for this reason that companies like Coca-Cola, McDonald's and Virgin use pop-ups.

What to offer so web visitors give you their email address

When it comes to creating eye-catching and compelling email opt-in boxes, I advise you to focus on building highly targeted offers that your visitors would want. A straightforward offer you can make is a discount. In fact, according to data collected in the National Email Client Report (in conjunction with eBay Enterprise Marketing Solutions and others large corporations), 38 percent of users give their emails in return for a discount. If you're a business, the lowest hanging fruit to collect your visitors' email is by offering a discount code that requires users to give you their email.

If you don't want to offer a discount or it's not something you believe is right for your industry, there are other options. In my case, since I work in the world of consulting and information-based products, I offer free trainings instead. Similarly, you could offer your visitors a guide and video series that helps with the problems you solve. The goal is simple: Offer visitors a good reason to give you their email and later follow up with an offer for them to make a purchase — but before you can send them inbox offers, you'll need their email. If McDonald's, O'Reilly Auto, Virgin, Polo Sports and just about every other multibillion-dollar company is using email to increase business, isn't it time you did, too? And I hope your answer is a strong and definitive yes!

Chuck Reynolds


Marketing Dept
Contributor

Please click either Link to learn more about Marketing.
Interested or have Questions, Call Me, 559-474-4614

Thomas Prendergast

Two Largest Cryptocurrency Exchanges Look to Exit Asia Due to Impractical Policies

Two Largest Cryptocurrency Exchanges Look to Exit Asia Due to Impractical Policies

Binance and Bitfinex, two of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges

in the global digital currency market, may completely move out of Asia this year, due to impractical policies.

Binance and Malta

Last week, Binance, easily the biggest digital currency trading platform with a $1.4 billion daily trading volume, moved out of Asia and relocated to Malta, a country within the European Union. In its official statement, the Binance team and its CEO Changpeng Zhao, better known to the community simple as CZ, stated that they agree on the government of Malta’s long-term aim to evolve the country into “The Blockchain Island.”

CZ stated:

“After meeting with Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Silvio Schembri, we were impressed by the logical, clear and forward thinking nature of Malta’s leadership. After reviewing a proposal bill, we are convinced that Malta will be the next hotbed for innovative blockchain companies, and a centre of the blockchain ecosystem in Europe. Binance is committed to lending our expertise to help shape a healthy regulatory framework as well as providing funds for other blockchain startups to grow the industry further in Malta.”

For awhile, Binance has clarified its stance towards cryptocurrency-to-fiat trading, and firmly told its investors and users that plans to integrate cryptocurrency-to-fiat pairs are not on the horizon. But, its relocation to Malta and potential establishment of new banking partners could allow Binance to add cryptocurrency-to-fiat pairs with ease, without regulatory uncertainty and conflict with banking service providers.

Already, Binance has revealed its plans to launch a decentralized digital asset exchange called Binance Chain. Although the entire concept of a decentralized exchange defeats the purpose and renders the existence of centralized exchanges unnecessary, the Binance team’s aim from the beginning has been to provide every service that can be accommodated to a wide of users. Hence, given the roadmap of Binance’s development, it is only logical for the company to move from cryptocurrency-only trading, to decentralized exchange, to cryptocurrency-to-fiat trading.

Bitfinex to Switzerland

Another major cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex, a Taiwan and Hong Kong-based trading platform that processes cryptocurrency-to-US dollar trades, has been eyeing permanent relocation to Switzerland, as CCN previously reported. For many years, Switzerland and Zug in particular, have been known as the blockchain capital of the world, primarily because of its friendly regulations towards initial coin offering (ICO) projects and cryptocurrency businesses. Most notably, EOS, the sixth largest cryptocurrency in the world with a $4.5 billion market valuation, is based in Switzerland. Bitfinex CEO Jean-Louis van der Velde emphasized that the company has had constructive talks with Swiss authorities, and is carefully considering its move

from Asia to Switzerland.

“We are looking for a new permanent home for Bitfinex and the parent company iFinex, where we want to merge the operations previously spread over several locations,” said Velde.

The relocation of Bitfinex from Taiwan to Switzerland would lead to two of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchanges leaving Asia to Europe within a single month. If leading cryptocurrency businesses continue to move out of Asia due to impractical regulations to Europe, it could lead to Japan, South Korea, and Hong Kong losing their dominance over the global market, and could trigger competition amongst global economies to house cryptocurrency businesses.

Chuck Reynolds


Marketing Dept
Contributor

Please click either Link to learn more about Bitcoin.
Interested or have Questions, Call Me, 559-474-4614

Thomas Prendergast

The Artist that came out of the Winter