NEWS...Launch a Powerful Brand Command Center on a $20K Budget

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The reason you should read this article is that it’s about your brand, and how to give it the support it needs in today’s hyper-competitive market.

For the better part of the last five years, I’ve had the great honor to deliver real-time Brand Command Center analytics and hardware visualization solutions to some of the biggest brands on the planet. In my humble opinion, I think it’s safe to say that I've learned a few things in the process. My goal for 2018 is to share that experience with the brands that truly need it – small to midsize incumbents.

At Ideacage, the Dallas-based company I founded in 2012, we've built and deployed over 100 Brand Command Centers across 55 countries. We've installed screens at major red carpet events like The Grammy’s and The Golden Globes. We’ve powered event booths at all the major conferences such as SXSW and CES.  We've delivered powerful and visually stunning data to support an impressive array of major sporting events --  from pit parties at Formula One races to parking lots at the last five Superbowls. If it includes touchscreens, projectors, media walls, big screens, small screens, digital signage, or walk-up kiosks, it's likely that we've done it, and created an incredible experience for one of your customers at some point.  

Naturally, some Brand Command Centers have been more successful than others. I’ve always been intrigued to learn more about why that is, in order to help replicate the best outcomes for our current and future customers. The good news is that a successful effort no longer needs to cost a fortune – by following best practices and deploying efficient technology, organizations of all sizes can implement a successful Brand Command Center effort.

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Your brand deserves to have key data analytics accessible from any browser or device at your fingertips, any time of the day, from anywhere you're located, displayable on any screen in your business environment.  

But don't feel bad if you aren't prepared to deliver this yet. We’ve found that 9 out of 10 customers have never previously worked with tools and systems like this before, so to say this industry is in its infancy is a drastic understatement. And the 9 out of 10 brand customers I am referring to are from Fortune 100 organizations -- not small businesses, not even medium-sized businesses, but really, really, big businesses that have been cutting their teeth with bleeding edge technologies ahead of their competitors and the marketplace.

I'll tell you why.

The biggest, most well-known consumer brands already have a decade’s worth of experience with the impact of millions of social media brand mentions on a daily basis -- some positive, some potentially negative. After a decade of trying various processes and solutions for monitoring the overwhelming magnitude of social media activity, they have determined that the impact of social media justifies whatever budget is required to get ahead of potential issues. 

Notice that the objective here is not to immediately drive measurable ROI, but rather to serve and protect the value of the brand. That’s because major consumer brands recognized years ago that if they don't get out there and start interacting with people, they will be remembered by what others are saying about their brands, rather than what they are doing proactively to build stronger relationships and loyalty.

Brand marketers caught on quickly to the importance of listening to their customers on social media. Early Brand Command Center adopters like Dell, Cisco, Nestle, Chase, MasterCard, and Kraft started to build amazing spaces filled with screens that combined social listening together with visual analytics and brought in key players from PR, content development, digital media and other marketing departments to take immediate action on the insights surfaced. They were enormously successful at getting the message out that they cared about their customers’ opinions, and that quickly translated into market share growth and new revenue streams.  

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But what about the brands that don't have hundreds of thousands of dollars to achieve the same success that the largest brands experience through their sophisticated listening systems and visual analytics solutions?

At some point in late 2017, I literally started losing sleep trying to figure out how Ideacage was going to serve all of the smaller competitive brands contacting us who don't have hundreds of thousands in their budget to spend on huge enterprise licenses for listening systems. Because let’s face it -- the big brands will always have an advantage. It doesn’t matter how awesome the product or service offering of a smaller brand might be, because the larger, more established brands in the space have a huge head start with the tools that allow them to find customers in the giant haystack of the consumer marketplace and get products in front of them first. As the leader of a small business that fights to stay relevant in this fast-paced data-driven world, I know first-hand about the pains and challenges that come with having to compete with big competitors. I couldn't sit idly on the sidelines knowing all of these smaller brands were being drastically underserved, outspent, and outwitted by their bigger-budget brand competitors.

That’s why I became obsessed with figuring out a way to serve the market of small and mid-level players with a solution that enables them to level the playing field with the big guys without building a specialized space or hiring a dedicated team. The result of that obsession is Ideacage BrandNews, a single screen real-time listening and visualization solution powered by data from a source you can trust, LexisNexis, that enables companies of all sizes and shapes, from all corners of the globe, to gain access to important brand data. Think of it as an always-on news concierge service tailored just for your brand, so when you walk in every morning you know exactly how your brand is performing, what your competitors are saying about it, and how much of it is impacting your brand reputation, We pair that with an Ideacage DE3 Media Player powering a 90" LCD screen installed at your preferred location or conference room, with the annual BrandNews software license, all for well under $20K. This solution demonstrates Ideacage’s commitment to bringing the power of real-time business data to the masses at an affordable price point while simultaneously observing the best of breed practices we've been perfecting for the past five years.

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With that said, for it to be effective here are 3 insider tips for creating a successful Brand Command Center, regardless of the size of your brand or budget:

1.     Take advantage of technology. Brand Command Centers are powered by technology that pulls in streams of real-time data, including news aggregation, social media monitoring, brand engagement, viewer sentiment, email campaign ROI, sales performance metrics, customer care stats, commentary from top influencers, and more. The key to this process is having great visualizations people will easily engage with, designed to filter through streams of data and surface the most salient bits of information side by side in real-time. By drawing upon content from Social Media, CRM, Website Analytics, Customer Care, POS, Email Marketing, Ad Network, Daily Reports, and dozens of other powerful platforms, the Brand Command Center presents one unified view of everything in real-time to empower marketing teams.

2.    Respond in real-time. Actively listening to your customers in real-time is a great start. The next step is to create a two-way dialogue. The best brands respond to what they see in real time by resolving customer issues,  helping them through the buying cycle, or just letting them know that you care. Social media has created an expectation of immediate response times. In order to stay competitive, brands need to be there, continuously demonstrating to their audiences that they care. Brand Command Centers bring together key people from multiple departments and disciplines to view and respond to key business information and social activity in real-time. Together, they can react, collaborate, develop and deploy compelling creative content within minutes, and use the incoming data to monitor how audiences are responding as it happens.

3.    Keep your ear to the ground. Many companies use Brand Command Centers to actively listen to their direct competitors as they make news announcements and distribute content on social platforms and websites across the marketplace. This enables them to make quick product modifications, launch proactive communications campaigns, and keep their pulse on the overall competitive marketplace. Teams listen to what is being said and alter their strategies on-the-fly to reflect trending topics.

Please share your thoughts and Brand Command Center best practices in the comments.

Matt Murphy CEO & Founder Ideacage

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