Volatility within the stock market and the instability of the global economy can be very unsettling. Planning long-term becomes quite challenging and no one is certain how long the trade and possible currency war with China will last.
In July, the Federal Reserve Bank reported that the Houston business-cycle and leading indexes pointed to a growing economy. Employment accelerated, particularly mining-related jobs, but the U.S. rig count and oil prices continue to fall. Manufacturers reported negative impacts from tariffs, while measures of global manufacturing show signs of slowing. Nonetheless, the Feds still reported that the outlook for Houston remains positive.
Meanwhile, we spent the first half of 2019 diving deeper into wide format and providing our clients with more signage and promotional products. A 6-foot horse cut-out and flip flop bags were only a few of the items produced this summer.
We also upgraded some of our equipment and software. We have been busy educating our existing staff on the new systems and have hired some new talent to help take us into the next decade.
As I often mention, our staff is very involved with local and national trade associations and we have had a busy first half of 2019. We were invited to speak about social media at The Printing Industries of the Gulf Coast Women in Print Luncheon in February, in May our friends at Mailers Hub invited us to conduct a session on direct mail marketing for nonprofits at the National Postal Forum, and we co-hosted the sold out Graphic Excellence Awards in April.
Both of our Marketing for Local Business series sold out and we met some fantastic entrepreneurs while hosting great guest lecturers from across Texas. We had to turn away students for the summer series, and as a result we decided to offer the classes again, beginning in October. It will be the last series of this year and it is already half full, so register soon if you’re interested. Click here for details and registration. Use promo code BUREAU at checkout and receive any two classes FREE.
2019 has also been extremely busy with the celebration of our 70th anniversary and once again, we are including a scan of a newsletter that we created and mailed from the past. In September of 1965, BEB featured a wooden postcard from Cutter Lumber Products of
California as the Mailing Piece of the Month. We shared “Direct Mail Pointers” (most are still applicable today), and talked about how to serve the growing population across the nation. In so many ways, things have really changed. For instance, only 38% of the workforce in 1965 were women, and are seldom mentioned in any of these early articles. In other ways, things have not changed at all. For example, the most important part of a direct mail campaign remains data. We hope you enjoy the peek from the past.
In contrast, this edition of The Bureau features several articles about new technology including artificial intelligence and how it is impacting our industry. We have a story on the successful driverless trucking test the USPS conducted between Dallas and Phoenix over the summer, and information on Informed Address or IA. The outgoing piece doesn’t have an address at all, just a barcode.
Fall is only a few, weeks away and the holiday marketing season will soon be upon us. Please keep us in mind for any and all of your marketing needs, and as always, thank you for your business and partnership.
CEO, Business Extension Bureau
Starting January 1, California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), will require all California for-profit businesses to disclose to consumers upon request the specifics of the personal information collected and its sources. Consumers can also require companies to delete personal information, refrain from selling it, and pursue legal action for failure to comply.
As the start date for the law draws near, giants like Google, Amazon, and Facebook, are working to help push through amendments that will make the law easier on businesses.
California is the first government in the US to regulate how businesses retain and use electronic consumer data. The legislation is the first response to the European Union’s GDPR, enacted last year. The General Data Protection Regulation allows the EU the power to fine companies that violate its consumer privacy protections. Google was slapped with a $57 million fine for failing to disclose data collection tactics to consumers, and Facebook is under several investigations from the GDPR governing body.
Personal information protected by CCPA include:
- search and browsing history
- geolocation data
- IP addresses
- email addresses
- purchase records
- records on consumption histories and tendencies
- professional and employment information
- educational information
- audio, visual and thermal information
Fines for non-compliance range from $2,500 (if unintentional) or $7,500 per violation (if intentional) for companies that fail to cure alleged violations within 30 days.
As efforts to pass federal privacy legislation in Congress have languished, states have stepped up their pace. According to the National Law Review, five other states — Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, and New Mexico — have introduced CCPA-like privacy bills as of March 2019. Another three states — New York, North Dakota and Washington — have put forth consumer privacy bills to protect personal data.
A federal bill introduced in the Senate in December, The Data Act of 2018, remains in committee. As proposed, among other protections, the legislation would prevent “online service providers” from using individual identifying data in any way that would benefit the online service provider to the detriment of an end user.
Email campaigns work. We have a client that offers summer camps as part of their service offering. In the spring, they paid for a booth at a local event that promoted family friendly products and services. We printed fliers promoting summer camps and different types of lessons ranging in price from $200 up to $400.
During the event, they had a drawing for a free, 1-hour lesson and collected names, email addresses and phone numbers from attendees. By the end of the show, they had collected 99 prospect names.
The following day, we input the information into their email database and generated 2 emails. The first email was announcing the winner of the drawing with instructions on how to collect their prize.
The second email was to the 98 individuals that did not win. The email offered a 25% discount on a summer camp, as a way of saying thank you for dropping by their booth.
Both emails were sent within 24-hours after the show. The results are typical and confirm the benefits of using email blasts.
The promotion email had 16 bounces (16%). That is very high, but it is normal for a show. People had to hand-write their information and often it is difficult to decipher handwritten information. 82 emails were successfully delivered.
- 58 (70%) people opened the email, 131 times, an average of 2.2 times each
- 8 (9.8%) people clicked onto a link. There were 3 links to choose from:
- Summer Camp Link (3 people)
- Lessons Link (3 people)
- Home page to their website (2)
Three people purchased summer camps directly from the email campaign generating $1,200 in sales. In addition, one person signed up for six-months of private lessons ($1,800) and another signed up for group lessons for 2 months ($400) bringing the total sales from the email to $3,400.
Quality targets, timing, eye catching graphics, compelling content, and a call to action make for extremely successful email campaigns. If you aren’t incorporating email in your marketing strategy, you’re missing out on sales.
In the 1980’s, the MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) made the human brain visible in ways never seen before. Doctors were able to see brain structure and the soft brain tissue of a living object. This type of detail was only seen previously during autopsies.
During the 90’s, the fMRI (functional MRI) came into its own. The fMRI detects blood flow revealing brain activity which makes it possible to identify which parts of the brain react to scent, visual recognition or even sound.
The fMRI is in transition once again. Though still in development, the fMRI will soon allow scientists to track the condition of our mind with more precision. As researchers analyze the vast amount of data generated by brain scans coupled with the latest computational techniques including Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, scientists are beginning to resolve how our physical brains form our mind.
The research may have a significant impact on marketing, police work and computer interfacing and may even allow the preservation of memories even after an individual has passed.
Some mental functions activate several parts of the brain at the same time. The fMRI can detect that activation and machine learning deciphers patterns into specific descriptions that include what a subject is thinking or doing. In an article published in the WSJ by Jerry Kapalan, Kaplan said’ “It’s like going from identifying individual letters to reading words and sentences.” That’s big!
Studies show that people’s brains organize and process the same information in similar ways. Collaborators in a 2011 study were able to correctly identify which of eight mental tasks a subject was performing 80% of the time, based solely on looking at their brain scans.
The evolution of brain reading continues with Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS). This emerging functional neuroimaging technology offers a relatively non-invasive, safe, and low-cost method of monitoring brain activity. fNIRS is the measurement of near infrared (NIR) light that takes advantage of the optical window in which skin, tissue, and bone are mostly transparent while blood flow is a stronger absorber of light allowing for a more in depth reading of brain functionality.
The ability to decipher this type of technology raises questions about the privacy of our thoughts. It may lead to a world where our mind is subject to a search warrant or become a matter of public record leaving the ever pressing question of who should have access to those thoughts, and how they should be used.
Global spending on Artificial Intelligence (AI) is expected to reach $35.8 billion this year. That’s up 44% from last year. It’s expected to double to over $79.2 billion by 2022.
Below are some terms that will help you to better understand this exploding and learned technology.
Natural Language Processing (NLP) –A subfield of computer science, information engineering, and AI focused on interactions between computers and human language. When text or speech is input and it can be read or extract meaning.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)- Sometimes called machine intelligence, AI is intelligence demonstrated by machines. These machines mimic “cognitive” functions that humans associate with other human minds, such as “learning” and “problem solving”.
Deep Learning -Sometimes referred to as deep structured learning or hierarchical learning, it is part of a broader family of machine learning methods based on artificial neural networks.
This powerful statistical technique is used for classifying patterns using large data sets and ANNs (Artificial Neural Networks). Deep learning neural networks have been applied to fields including natural language processing, social network filtering, drug design, medical image analysis, and game programs. They have produced results comparable to and in some cases superior to human experts.
Machine learning (ML) -The scientific study of algorithms and statistical models that computer systems use to effectively perform a specific task without using explicit instructions, relying on patterns and inference instead. Machine learning algorithms build a mathematical model based on sample data, known as “training data”, in order to make predictions or decisions without being explicitly programmed to perform the task. Machine learning is closely related to computational statistics, which focuses on making predictions using computers. The study of mathematical optimization delivers methods, theory and application domains to the field of machine learning. Data mining is a field of study within machine learning, and focuses on exploratory data analysis through unsupervised learning. In its application across business problems, machine learning is also referred to as predictive analytics.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is able to measure tone, tempo and other voice characteristics. Some systems compare those sounds to stored speech pattern libraries that define a plethora of human emotions to determine an individual’s emotional, mental or even physical health.
When this sound technology is used in conjunction with computer vision, the science that allows computers to gain a high-level understanding from digital images or videos, the applications become even more powerful. For example, imagine a vehicle that is able to hear a driver yawning and see the driving dozing off.
Research firm Gartner Inc predicts that within three years, 10% of personal devices will have emotion AI capabilities that include wearables (similar to a Fit Bit) that is able to monitor an individual’s mental health or video games that adapt to the players mood.
We are so excited to share the news that BEB has been awarded a 2019 Hermes Creative Award. The Hermes is an international competition for creative professionals involved in the concept, writing and design of traditional and emerging media. Hermes recognizes outstanding work in the industry while promoting the philanthropic nature of marketing and communication professionals.
This year there were over 6,000 entries from throughout the United States, Canada and
dozens of other countries. Entries came from corporporate marketing and communication departments, advertising agencies, PR firms, design shops, production companies and freelancers.
The Hermes competition is administered and judged by the Association of Marketing and
Communication Professionals (www.amcpros.com). The international organization consists of
several thousand marketing, communication, advertising, public relations, media production and free-lance professionals.
As part of its mission, AMCP fosters and supports the efforts of creative professionals who
contribute their unique talents to public service and charitable organizations. Hermes entrants are not charged entry fees to enter work they produced pro bona. In addition, the efforts of generous marketing and communication professionals are acknowledged through grants and special recognition.
Judges are industry professionals who look for companies and individuals whose talent
exceeds a high standard of excellence and whose work serves as a benchmark for the industry.
Winners were selected from categories grouped under advertising, publications,
marketing/branding, integrated marketing, public relations/communications, electronic media
and pro bona.
This marks our third award for the work done on a project so near and dear to all of the BEB family; The Run for Rama.
We are proud and honored to have been awarded (for the 4th year in a row), the Houston Better Business Bureau’s 2019 Award of Excellence.
The mission of the BBB is to promote trusted marketplace and celebrate best practices. The BBB Awards for Excellence recognizes businesses, organizations, and employees that are positive examples to all in areas that mirror the core values of the BBB and demonstrate the highest standards of business ethics and practices. These organizations are recognized for fostering trust with their customers, employees, suppliers, and community.
Every year, we marketing geeks anxiously await the data presented by the Pew Research Center on demographics of social media consumption in the US. The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan American fact tank based in Washington, D.C. It provides information on social issues, public opinion, and demographic trends shaping the United States and the world. It also conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis, and other empirical social science research. The Pew Research Center does not take policy positions, and is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts.
Join us as we review the latest information surrounding who (in the US) is using social media!
The most used platform to date is YouTube. Based on US Census Bureau data (from July 2018), there are over 253 million adults in the United States. 228 million are online. 73% of adults online use YouTube; that’s over 166 million people. That number represents only 13% of the total, 1.3 billion global YouTube users.
Of the US YouTube adult users, approximately 47% are women and 53% are men.
YouTube receives over 500 million views each day, with 300 hours of video being uploaded each minute. That translates to 432,000 hours of video per 24-hours, representing over 49 years of video time.
Learn more about the latest social media statistic by clicking here.