Feb 17

Top SF Audio Fiction from January 2012

I particularly enjoyed these in January.  Frankly, I didn’t think this was a strong month for audio fiction, so I only listed 4.  I think February will be stonger (or it has been thus far, anyway).

Bears Discover Fire
The Drabblecast #230
http://www.drabblecast.org/2012/01/26/drabblecast-230-bears-discover-fire/
-This will be familiar to many people, but it was my first experience with the story. Even if you’ve read it before, listening might be an interesting new way to experience the story!

The Five Elements of the Heart and Mind
Lightspeed Magazine for January
http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/the-five-elements-of-the-heart-mind/
-Another Ken Liu story that I really enjoyed. It meshes space colonization, microbial flora, and romance into a nice bundle!

The Republic of the Southern Cross
Pseudopod #263
http://pseudopod.org/2012/01/09/pseudopod-263-the-republic-of-the-southern-cross/
-Yes it’s a horror podcast, but in this case the story doesn’t really have any “scary” or “horrible” elements to it. The story is a speculative fiction short with hints of Jules Verne as humans colonize Antarctica. Let’s see what everybody thinks!

The Martian Chronicles (Parts 1-3)
StarShipSofa #220-222
http://www.starshipsofa.com/blog/2012/01/11/starshipsofa-no-220-cory-doctorow-part-1/
-This is a great story by Cory Doctorow that IS very long, but definitely worth it. With a child-focused story (think Ender’s Game, not specifically YA), this tribute to Bradbury investigates an updated view of Martian colonization. If you’re only interested in the main fiction, just check the show notes for each episode for the time code to jump to.

Feb 14

I’m…published? Sort of!

So two writing-related bits of good news:

First off, I’m tallying up all of the Critters.org critiques (or “crits” as they are affectionately known) that I recieved for my latest science fiction short story manuscript.  For those who haven’t been subjected to my story, essentially it’s about “time travel without time travel” and it’s called “The Lost Month.”  This may be a working title, though, as one of the critiques pointed out that it doesn’t have a TON of substance on its own.  Anyway, entering all the suggestions into Word comments is taking quite a while (I received over 20 crits), so this next bit of news has given the next little jolt to keep things going!

As many of you know, I listen to a huge number of podcasts, many of them audio fiction podcasts.  One of them, The Drabblecast, purveyor of weird speculative fiction, has a weekly contest for best 100 character story (exactly 100, not counting spaces).  They call it a Twabble because it’s a Twitter-sized Drabble (a 100 WORD story, which they also feature weekly).

Anyway, I put one up on the forum and BAM, a couple weeks later, I got onto episode 232! Just click the link and then download to hear it read (timecode 20:00 if you don’t want to listen to the first two fiction pieces and their weird commentary).  OR just look below, I’ve copied it for your amusement:

“As I leaned in to kiss her moist, pink lips, I received a small electric shock! It must have been static from my PC monitor. ”

Yeah, it’s a little weird, but then, so is The Drabblecast.  I wanted to lead the reader one way and then whip him or her into a different perspective.  Either way, I’m just glad I got picked…maybe I’ll post more on the forum and on here in the coming months.

[Drabblecast Cover by Jerel Dye]

Feb 14

Why your brand needs a customer-focused marketing strategy

According to a study by this website, customers with strong attachments to a brand deliver a 23% premium over the average customer — both in profitability and revenue.

With benefits like that, it’s no wonder more marketers are shifting their strategies to include customer-focused marketing — a strategy that places the individual customer at the center of all marketing initiatives.

You may be thinking, what about an ROI-focused strategy? Shouldn’t profit be the main driver of all our goals? The answer is yes, but as you’ll soon find out, customer-focused marketing is one of the easiest way to boost profits.

This post will help you better understand the value of customer-focused marketing, along with some real-world examples of how the Brandfolder team implemented this strategy.

The Importance of Customer-Focused Marketing

Influencing prospects’ decision-making is more difficult than ever

HNCK9329-1-1200x675

A repeat customer spends an average of 67% more than a new customer, according to a joint report by BIA/Kelsey and Manta. In addition to the fact that attracting new customers is less profitable, it’s also more challenging than ever.

Why? Today’s consumers have access to an infinite amount of knowledge about a brand’s products, services, and reputations. Rather than looking to your sales or marketing team for information about your product, consumers can find everything they need from review sites, social media, and Google searches. When prospects are armed with knowledge about your brand’s weaknesses and strengths, they have complete control over the buying process.

So, when new customers eventually do sign up for a product or service, marketers must do everything in their power to create an outstanding experience. A customer-focused marketing strategy is designed to do just that. The first step in creating great customer experiences? Learning as much as you can about a customer’s behavior, needs, and desires.

With the right marketing tools and a little bit of patience, brands can gain key insights about how a customer interacts with them. This includes details such as which software features customers use most often, and what email content they find most interesting. When marketers use customer behavior statistics to inform their marketing, they’ll be able to create hyper-specific initiatives that directly create value.

Catering to Your Customer’s Needs

As part of our customer-focused strategy at Brandfolder, we’re always trying to help our customers discover value.

HNCK9329-1-1200x675

Since we’re a single product SaaS company, we keep a close eye on which features our customers like to use best. By keeping a strong path of open communication with our customer success and product departments, our marketing team can easily understand adoption rates of new features.

This strategy helped us identify a pain point with a new feature release called Custom Sections. Custom Sections allows our customers more flexibility when organizing the sections their assets live in, further adding to our customization offerings. A few weeks after the launch of Custom Sections, we checked back in with our customer success team.

We asked questions such as: how many people are interested in using, or currently using this feature? What questions or concerns do people have about it? How can we increase adoption of the feature?

Once we looked at the numbers, we realized that it wasn’t a matter of making the feature better. According to our direct support feedback, and reviews seen on G2 Crowd, customization was an important benefit of using our service. And while we had improved our options for customization, people weren’t using the new feature because we hadn’t done a thorough job of informing people about it.

Customer-Focused Lesson 1: It’s important to create features in response to customer needs — but that’s only half the battle. You’ll never know if your customers are realizing the full potential value of your product unless you pay attention to their user behavior.

Increasing Engagement and Reducing Churn Rates

The most effective way to keep customers engaged and reduce customer churn is to help them be successful with your product.

HNCK9329-1-1200x675

Customers who hold negative feelings about your brand, or “actively disengaged” users, are responsible for a 13% discount in wallet, profitability, and revenue share (Cap Gemini). As you learned in Lesson 1 above, customer-focused marketing initiatives help you create marketing materials that offer your users long-term value.

Once we identified our own problem of low feature adoption rates, we needed to find a way to help our customers find value. Thus, we launched two key customer-focused marketing initiatives to boost engagement. First, we published the first installment in a quarterly blog series informing customers of our new features. Second, our product team supported this effort by rolling out a product release roadmap, which users can access from directly within the Brandfolder app. This roadmap shows every release, big and small, and explains why each one is valuable.