Roadblocks to Innovation: How to Keep Moving Forward in Business

Kraft has been making cheese since the early 1920’s. They’re a well-respected brand and a leader in the business. Still, they can’t simply rest on their laurels. They have to keep coming up with new products, like Fresh Take. This product creates a crunchy, flavorful cheese and crumb coating with almost no mess. The secret is their dual bag that magically zips open to become a mixing bowl and crumb shaker. Kraft took a kitchen chore (breading meats) and turned it into a fast and easy option for dinner.

Innovation is necessary if a company wants to grow, but it’s one of the hardest elements of running a business. Particularly when you’ve been around as long as Kraft has. It’s hard because innovation is a creative process and our days are generally anti-creative for a variety of reasons.

Google Offers SMB Mobile Site Free For One Year

Yesterday, I asked you what smartphone users would see when they accessed your website through their phone. Does it deliver or does it fall short?

If you chose the second answer, have I got a deal for you. Google Mobile (aka GoMo) has teamed up with DudaMobile to help small businesses set up mobile-friendly websites.

The step-by-step system automatically converts your current website to mobile. Then it allows you to add important touches such as click-to-call, mobile maps and Adsense.

Obviously, this only works with sites that are light on the bells and whistles. Flash and e-commerce won’t translate but it’s an excellent opportunity for the small business owner who needs to get the basics to customers. To add to the incentive, they’re even going to host your mobile site for free for one year.

App and Mobile Browsing Up Nearly 5% Over Last Year

Depending on your half full / half empty point of view, a 5% increase in mobile activity is good / not that great.

comScore’s latest report shows that 49.5% of mobile subscribers downloaded apps in the past ninety days. That’s an increase of 4.6% over the three month average from late last year. (Check out the chart for specifics.)

But considering the constant barrage of new apps in the market, and Google’s new push with Google Play, I would have thought the number would be higher.

Then again, given that we’re looking at only about half a year’s time, a near 5% jump isn’t that bad. And, as you can see, there was an increase in all types of mobile activity including playing games and social networking.

Talking Baseball and the Younger Generation

Baseball season is upon us and though I am strictly an NHL gal, I understand the marketing potential of what many consider is America’s pastime.

Scarborough Sports Marketing just released a new study and infographic which shows that 49% of all American adults are Major League Baseball fans and 15% consider themselves “avid fans.”

What’s surprising is that 44% of Generation Y respondents said they were fans and 13% said they were an “avid fan.” Surprising, because we generally think of the 18-29 group as technology buffs who prefer Wii games to “we” games. But these numbers from Scarborough show that even though baseball card collecting isn’t as popular as it used to be, watching the games live and on TV still rules.

Influence, Popularity and Profits: Which One Begats the Other?

It’s good to be popular. It means people like you. They want to hang with you and they’re interested in what you have to say. On Facebook, that means a lot of people want to be your friend. If you’re a brand, they like your page.

Popular means you have a great deal of influence over those that follow you. Or does it?

Brian Solis talks about the difference between popularity and influence in an article on PaidContent.org. He states that influence is a combination of three factors. One is reach. Popular people have that due to the large number of followers on Facebook or Twitter.

Second is Relevance. Justin Bieber has great reach, but that doesn’t mean he’s the best person to Tweet about life insurance or pharmaceuticals.

The Art of the Social Referral

Word of Mouth marketing has been around since the town crier stood on the street corner hawking the day’s news. But with the dawn of the internet and social media specifically, the concept has expanded. We’ve gone beyond what one housewife tells another during their weekly bridge game. Now, we have one person broadcasting their opinions to hundreds, even thousands with a single Tweet or Facebook post.

These social referrals are extremely valuable to a marketer. So much so, that it’s often worth rewarding customers for spreading the word among their friends. But managing and tracking such a program can be overwhelming so I asked Angela Bandlow, VP of Marketing for Extole to offer some tips for making the most out of social referrals.

Inspiration Alley: Miracle-Gro Meets FarmVille

Miracle-Gro is the latest brand to add their logo to Zynga’s FarmVille and it’s probably the most natural tie-in we’ve ever seen (McDonalds?!?).

When you visit the Miracle-Gro farm, you’re prompted to visit their Facebook page. That action delivers a free, branded tomato plant and a bottle of Miracle-Gro Insta-Gro. It also makes you eligible for discounts and real-world rewards.

According to Zynga, 8 out of 10 FarmVille players enjoy actual gardening. Like the kind you do outdoors with real dirt and seeds. A very interesting stat and it makes me wonder about the people who enjoy games like Grand Theft Auto or Mafia Wars. But that’s another story.