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Direct & Integrated Marketing Roundtable

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Developing Your Social Media Marketing Plan

The basic function of marketing as we know it has changed.  It is no longer acceptable to simply push out a message or grab someones attention with a catchy slogan.  You must be able to hold their attention.  It is all about creating content to engage the consumer.  This is where social media comes into play.

Many businesses both big and small fail at profiting from implementing a social media strategy.  Remember, social media isn’t a separate part of your marketing efforts. It must be integrated into your overall marketing strategy for social medial to be effective.

I have developed a simple 9 step process to consider when building any marketing plan and in particular a social media marketing plan (see Figure 1 below).
 
 Figure 1 Your Social Media Marketing Plan

Understanding Your Customers
Knowing your customers will help you assess the types of media to consider.  And, the emphasis to place on each.  Are your customers older?  Are they more likely female? Where are they likely to purchase/shop?

Where Are You Now?
Who are your competitors and what are they doing promotionaly.  What is their market share compared to yours.  What is your market potential?

A great blog article on helping you understand the steps to market sizing is:  The Ins and Outs of Sizing Your Market

Conduct a SWOT Analysis
Strengths - Do you have better customer service, better technology, bigger name recognition?
Weaknesses - Do you have fewer locations than your competitor, lower perceived value?
Opportunities - Are you moving into a unique and niche market?  Is your competitor less nimble and capable of change?
Threats - A new competitor could move in quickly, no patent, easy entry.

Check out the following article to help you lay out an effective SWOT analysis:  Discover New Opportunities, Manage and Eliminate Threats

State Objectives
What are you trying to achieve here:
  • Increase the customer base
  • Increase sales
  • Reduce attrition
  • Enhance awareness

Know Your Audience
Detail your segments for targeting and the unique qualities of each regarding demographic, psycho- graphic and behavioral data.  This will be key to understanding the most appropriate social media strategy for each segment. 

Select Your Social Media Channels
There are four dimensions you will need to consider here for purposes of building an effective strategy.

1.  What social media channels make the most sense for your segments? Consider setting a priority of which social media to implement first, second and third.  Especially if there are budget and resource constraints.  This is very important.  But, do NOT make the mistake of thinking you must be in every social media channel available.  Some may not make sense for your business model.

2.  Next think about if you will need a blog or a YouTube Channel?  There are many other beneftis to blogging such as SEO and link building.   Here is a great article by Search Engine Watch that may help:  Why Blog: The Benefits of Business Blogging for Visitors & Links

3.  What about gamification of your brand or service?  For example, badges for completing so many tasks.  Serves as a great retention tool. Check out this Mashable article:  How to Gamify Your Marketing

4,  And lastly, do you need to worry about monitoring ratings?  Do coupon sites make sense? What about social commerce?

Ensure a Good User Experience (UX)
As you lay out your plan, ensure you are representing the brand consistently across all channels both social, digital and traditional regarding the look, feel, price, options, etc.  You do not want to confuse the customer.  Be very deliberate here.

Regarding mobile, ensure your sites are working well in this environment with good responsive design and a supporting app if that makes sense.  Remember, we are using mobile and tablets at higher and higher rates every day to access the web.  So you need to be where your customers are.  And, you need to give them a good experience.  Consider this article to help you decide:  Mobile Site or Mobile App?

The Action Plan
Lay out every step to execute the plan identifying responsible parties and due dates.  Set your budget.  Do not forget the tools.  You will need tools to monitor your social efforts like Hootsuite. Additionally, to help you understand what percent of your budget should be allocated to social, use this calculator to help you get started:  Digital Marketing Budget Calculator

Monitor, Manage and Measure
Name one person to oversee the execution of the plan, hold regular update meetings.  And lastly, define how you will determine success of your efforts by establishing measurable KPI's.

Hope you find this road map helpful.  Would love to hear your thoughts.

Cheers!
Perry D. Drake

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Embrace the disruption, don't fight it!

I bet you are feeling the disruption due to technology advances either in your personal life or workplace?  Am I correct?  And I bet you are feeling overwhelmed at times by these disruptions?  Yes?  Trying to stay on top of the latest computer advances, technologies, medias, communication vehicles, apps, mobile devices, advances in tracking software, and online security issues is not easy to say the least.

Well, don't feel alone.

We are all feeling the impact here.  But here is the deal...embrace these disruptions and adapt and become stronger as a result or as a business you will be out on the streets.  These advances are not likely to slow down any time soon, guaranteed.

Two months ago I was invited to speak on the uses of social media and digital technologies at an AGTA (Airport Ground Transportation Association) conference being held in Clearwater Florida.  And, I was honored to have been asked.



Listening to the 3 keynote speakers prior me going on stage, I heard fear and anger from the AGTA about Lyft and Uber who are infringing on cab and livery drivers turf at airports, hotels, and about town.  I heard them talk about the poor quality of the Uber driver and how they are not licensed, or insured in some cases, or have criminal records.  They went on for over an hour.  I felt hatred, anger, confusion and many emotions pouring out of them that morning during the keynote.  But you know what, I get it.  They are being disrupted by technology.  Just the latest victim due to technological advances.  I totally get it.  But talking badly about Uber or Lyft is not going to make it all go away.  The consumer has spoken.  And they love the ability to open an app, click and have a car at their door.  And, in this day and age of social media, the consumer is in complete control.  The tables have turned.  So, when I got up to start my talk I told them not to feel alone.  I told them they are not the only ones feeling the pains and sense of confusion.  We all are, even us academics like myself.  Yes, even academics.

In case you did not realize we academics are undergoing a major disruption in the University setting.  MAJOR!  In academia we are being disrupted by what we call MOOCS - Massive Open Online Courses.  Courses that are being offered online for free and in some cases full semester courses.  Khan Academy and Coursera are just two such web sites offering these courses from universities like Rutgers and Harvard.  Many universities like mine do not know what to do.  The way we deliver content to students is changing and changing quickly and if we do not adapt we will have no students to teach.   It is that simple.  I cannot tell you how many committees I am on right now dealing with this issue.  But you know what, I love it.  I, like many of my peers, are embracing the challenge and trying to figure out how we can make education more affordable, convenient and a better overall experience for the students all due to technological advances.

Brands too have and are feeling the pain.  Because of social media, they have lost the ability to simply push out a message and expect us consumers to passively accept that message as fact.  Now us consumers have the control.  We can tell our friends what we think of the brand, their products and the type of customer support (good or poor) we receive.  Brands have totally had to change the way they interact with us consumers as a result of social media all caused by advances in mobile technology.  And, those brands that do not understand this simple fact, well, will be left out in the cold.

But two of the the biggest disruptions I can think of were (1) Naspter and (2) travel agencies.

Napster, although what they were doing was illegal, totally changed the way music was purchased and delivered and consumed.  Probably one of the largest disruptions out there due to advances in technology. 

And what about the once vibrant travel agency business model.  Remember them?  Or maybe you don't.  In this case it was the adoption of the Internet alone that changed that business model and killed off travel agencies (except for those dealing with exotic vacations).  Apps or mobile had nothing to do with this feat.  Travelocity, Kayak and others killed the travel agency businesses.  Wow, not that is a disruption.

So Mr Cab Driver we are all being disrupted.  You are not alone.  You (and all of us) have two choices.  Either site back and fight it and lose or, embrace all that technology can bring and use it to our full advantage to build even a better business model.  The later will be more fun and give much better odd of success.  Guaranteed.

I would love to hear your thoughts.

Perry D. Drake
   Assistant Professor of Social and Digital Media Marketing, University of Missouri - St. Louis

Saturday, June 21, 2014

A Statistician's View on the IRS Investigation


If you have been following the congressional investigations on the IRS practices, you may have heard that seven individuals who are under investigation, all had hard drive failures on or about the same time.  In addition to that, the IRS further claimed all failures resulted in an inability to retrieve any data from each of the seven drives.  Here is a link to the Miami Herald from June 20, 2014 on the hearings in case you have been vacationing on a remote island the past week:  http://hrld.us/1lIktol.
 

Photo Source:  C-SPAN 

As a seasoned statistician and data analyst, I thought to myself, what are the odds?  Is this very likely?  Maybe it is.  After all, we live in a digital world and who among us hasn’t had a hard drive crash, or had a close friend who had a hard drive crash?  So I decided to do some investigation to determine just how long the odds were of seven hard drives failing, and following that, the probability that of all seven, no data can be salvaged.

As any statistician knows, this is a straightforward calculation.  It simply requires some data, a few assumptions and a calculator that can multiply.

Data Required
1.  What is the failure rate of any hard drive?   Hard drives do tend to fail more when they are older and in addition various manufacturers have different failure rates.  I found an article on Lifehacker providing some good information comparing some major manufacturers.  (reference:  http://lifehacker.com/the-most-and-least-reliable-hard-drive-brands-1505797966).

They also provided some normative failure rates across all drives.  (reference: http://lifehacker.com/how-long-your-hard-drive-is-likely-to-last-1462918832)  In particular, the last article says that if you consider a hard drive’s life in three segments, the probability of a failure in year 1 is 5.1%.  Past year 1, but before 3 years, the failure rate drops to 1.4%.  After three years the failure rate is 11.8%. 

2.  What is the probability of retrieving information on a crashed hard drive?   In looking into the various causes of hard drive failure, there are many things that can render a hard drive inoperable without damaging the disk itself.  If the disk itself is in tact, the data should be retrievable by strategies that include (1) taking the disk from the inoperable drive and swapping it into a drive that works or (2) taking a transient voltage suppressor (TVS) diode off of the circuit board causing the hard drive to come back to life long enough for one to copy files to a fully functional disk drive.  Joel Hruska wrote an excellent piece on these and other techniques, "Raising the dead:  Can a normal person repair a damaged hard drive?" (reference: http://www.extremetech.com/computing/133294-raising-the-dead-can-a-regular-person-repair-a-damaged-hard-drive 

What cannot be repaired is actual damage to the disk itself.  So in investigating the success rates of companies that do this sort of thing (and provide success rate metrics on their website), I found a company in Grand Rapids, Michigan called Data Recover that gives a success rate on data recovery at 95%.  I also found a German Company called Freecom which gives a success rate on data recovery at 98%.

Assumptions 
We will assume the crashes of the seven hard drives are independent.  Meaning that in an office setting, the event of a co-worker's hard drive crashing has nothing to do with the probability that your own workstation will experience a hard drive crash.  This is a relatively safe assumption.

Additionally, we will assume the ability to retrieve the information from one drive has nothing to do with the ability to retrieve data from another drive.  Again I think a safe assumption assuming we make a good effort to retrieve data on each damaged hard drive.

The Equation 
Assuming independence of events, the equation to compute the probability of seven hard drive failures is the probability of a failure on the first computer, multiplied by the probability of a failure on the second computer...and so on until the seventh computer.  If we assume the odds of any one hard drive crashing being equal to 11.8%, then the odds of seven hard drives crashing at the office would be 11.8% to the 7th power:

(0.118)**7 = 0.0000003185473901 
or converting it to odds
1 in 3,139,250

If we further factor in the probability of not being able to retrieve data on any of the seven hard drives we would need to include the 5% probability for each computer that the data would be irretrievable.  To do this we simply multiply the above figure by 0.05 to the 7th power:

0.0000003185473901 x (.05)**7 = 0.0000000000000002488651485 
or converting it to odds
1 in 4,018,240,425,000,000

To put this in perspective, the odds of an individual being hit by a meteorite has been calculated by NASA to be 1 in 20,000,000,000,000 (reference: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/oct/13/meteorite-space-earth).  And the odds you will win a Powerball Lottery is 1 in 175,223,510 (that is why most statistician never play the lottery by the way!)

What do you think?  Could it be true?  Would love to hear your thoughts and if you agreed with my assumptions. #lovestatistics #bigdata #numbercruncher 

Rhonda Knehans-Drake 
   Assistant Professor, New York University & CEO, Drake Direct

Monday, September 23, 2013

How to Plan and Organize a Tweetup

Want to hold a live event of face-to-face #IRL (in real life) people that you know or met through Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin or other social media sites?  The tools today make this so easy to accomplish.  So, lets talk about what it takes to hold a "tweetup."



There are several steps we must consider.

1.  Determine Your Audience

  • What is your event about and who would be interested in attending?
  • What do the attendees look like?

For example are you holding a workshop to discuss issues of Human Trafficking?  Are you interested in a biking meetup group?  Or would you like to throw a conference on using technology in the classroom?

Once you decide the exact topic and what the attendees look like, you will need to think of keywords that you believe will be used in conversations by these people to help you spot them out in the digital world.  For example, lets assume you are wanting to throw a conference on the use of technology in the classroom for the St. Louis market.  Keywords or phrases that might appear in social media conversations could include:

  • edtech, #edtech or education technology
  • STEM or #STEM  (science, technology, engineering, mathematics)
  • technology or #technology
  • STL, #STL or St. Louis
  • flippedclassroom, #flippedclassroom or flipped classroom
  • BYOD, #BYOD or bring your own device

Do not worry.  You do not have to think of everything.  Once you start examining some of the conversations including these phrases you will see other words or phrases that you might have overlooked and will add them to your list. 

2.  Find Your Audience and Begin Engagement

Your next step is to go to the various social media properties and start the process of finding your future community members.  Lets discuss this for the three major social media sites including Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook

Twitter:  You will use the search function in Twitter to search for tweets containing your keywords.  For example the figure below shows us a partial list of tweeters that have used the hashtag #edtech & #STL in a Twitter search.



You will then click on each one and see if they are meeting your criteria.  If so, follow them and place them in a list that you create on Twitter for this event.  If they do not meet your criteria then pass.

Next steps include: 

  • Wait a day or two and note who follows you back.
  • Start observing what they are tweeting.
  • Retweet some of their tweets or favorite some of their tweets but only if it makes sense and fits your goals.  But, do not go overboard.
  • In your approach you must be real and considerate or they will not let you in their community or want to be a part of the community you are trying to form.  Very important!  If you come across as too aggressive, pushy or sales-like and they will ignore you or worse yet, unfollow you.

Linkedin:  On Linkedin there are two types of searches you will want to do:  individuals and groups.

For individuals:
  • You will search for people that include your keywords or phrases.  
  • Attempt to connect to anyone that appears to be your audience.  
  • Ensure you tell them why you wish to connect.  Do not use the default "I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn."  That will NOT work.  
  • If they are a friend of one of your friends on Linkedin (e.g. 1st level or 2nd level connections), ask them for a virtual introduction.  That will ensure higher success. 

When searching for groups, you will do the same thing: 
  • Do the same search of your keywords and phrases but for groups. 
  • Join the group if it looks good and observe the members for a few days
  • Take note of how active they are, if members regularly contribute and how they interact with one another.  
  • You want to be observant and considerate.  Each group has different dynamics.  So study them first before you start posting things about your event.  Some groups are very strict on advertising events.  In that case you will need to approach them differently.  And, if the group is large with much potential, you will want to plan your strategy carefully to ensure they accept you and identify you as having a high level of authority.

Facebook:  With Facebook you can search for friends that are interested in certain things via the graph search function.  For example, as shown in the figure below, you can enter in the search box "people who are interested in education pages."



You can also search for groups the same way.  If they fit your profile then like them.  Similar to Linkedin, observe the page for a few days noting how active the fans are, what they typically post and how they interact with each other.  And, the more important you see the community being to your cause, the more strategic you will want to be in the planning stages of how you will approach them to ensure they embrace you as a part of the community.

3.  Determine Your Event Details

Now that you are in the process of finding your audience/community, the next step is to determine event logistics.

  • How will you do ticketing and will it be free or paid
  • Where do you want to hold the event
  • What hashtag do you want to create for your event

Ticketing:  There are many free options for ticketing.  Two of the most popular companies include meetup.com and eventbrite.com.   Both allow you to create a webpage for the event, collect payments and even help promote your event to known communities. 


But if your event is charging a fee, they will take a cut.  That is how they monetize.  So, that brings up the next question.  Do you want to charge?  For your first event you will want as many present as possible to spread the word of your event and future events.  Try to hold your first event free.  If not then seek out sponsors to help deflect the costs.  

I have used Eventbrite for many free student events and it works great. Check them out for all the details. They will give you the professional and polished look you will want.

Location:  The location of the event will be equally important. You will want to try and assess where the majority of your community lives and try to find a spot somewhere in the middle.  Take into consideration if they will be coming from work or home. Very important. Ask around to get the best deals.  Sometimes nonprofit locations may donate space if there is a synergy with their cause or clientele or in exchange for free attendance.

Hashtags:  You will want to create a hashtag for the event.  If this is going to be a annual event, then do not embed a date in the hashtag as you will want it to live on.




Having a hashtag will allow you to:
  • Determine how long the conversation is going after the event.
  • Monitor the conversation live during the event and display that conversation for everyone to see using simple and free software which I will reveal later.  
Additionally remember to keep the hashtag simple and easy to remember.  For example, the hashtag I created for my "State of Digital Media Marketing Conference 2013" held on the UMSL campus was #UMSLDigital.

To use a hashtag, you simply tell all tweeting attendees to include your hashtag in their tweets.  It is that simple.  Anyone can make up a hashtag.

 4.  Getting the Word Out

This is the step where you are going to greatly increase your level of engagement with those you have decided to follow from step 2.  If you did your homework correctly on those you are following, you will know who they are, what they like and what they react to. And as such, you should have engaged with many of those you are following, and have had some of them engage with you.  If that is not the case then are not ready to proceed with this step. This is the step where you are going to ask for help in extending your reach.


At this step you will begin to send communications to some of the influencers directly by putting their handle in the tweet.  For example, here is a tweet that might be created to inform a few influencers of an upcoming important conference.


If you have successfully formed a relationship with those you are following, they will be more than happy to retweet your messages to their followers on your behalf.  Success!

But do not forget, when they ask you to extend their reach on their behalf, you will do the same without hesitation.  Very important for a strong relationship to be forged.

5.  At the Event

At the event you will want to do as many things as possible to heighten the engagement of your audience members and to spread the word to their followers.  You have many options to do this.

Stream your tweets live during the event.  Using free software like twitterfall.com or visibiletweets.com you can stream your tweets at the event live for all to see.  Doing so will cause the engagement rate to increase due to the competitive nature of wanting to see yourself on the wall. Below is a screen shot of twitterfall for the hashtag #kenya.  This tool streams the tweets live in real time.




Use hashtags.  You must create a hashtag for your event and ask all in attendance to use that hashtag when tweeting.  Doing so will allow you to determine how long the conversation is going after the event in addition to monitor the conversation live during the event.

As previously stated, keep the hashtag simple and easy to remember. 

Consider using an app such as Bonfyre to further heighten engagement.  Bonfyre.com is a private "Facebook" environment for which you must be invited to join.   You will send an invitation to all attendees of your event or conference to join the Bonfyre.  Once they join, members can post comments, like others posts, share their posts, or upload photos or links.  Once the event is over, Bonfrye serves as a nice digital diary of the event.  Just another way to engage.  I love Bonfrye and have used them for many conferences and in the classroom.  Here is a writeup of my use of Bonfyre for my large digital marketing conference in April of 2013:  Around the Bonfyre with Professor Drake an Event App Conversation


I hope you found this post on creating a tweetup of your virtual friends valuable. Would love to hear your thoughts, ideas and suggestions I may have not considered.

Perry D. Drake
Professor of Digital and Social Media
University of Missouri - St. Louis

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Understanding Paid, Earned and Owned Media

There are three ways in which you can get exposure in the digital space.  They are Paid, Owned and Earned Media.  Let’s go over each and what they each bring to the party.

Owned Media – is the media a brand owns like their website, blog, Facebook page, or any other branded channel including YouTube.

Paid Media – are ads that a brand pays for like banner ads, paid search, video ads on YouTube, or even sponsorships.

Earned Media – are the viral aspects of your marketing efforts including word of mouth, reviews on Yelp, blog comments, Facebook story shares, and any other user generated content on various social channels.  Any social sharing falls in this category.

Each bring something to the party as mentioned earlier.  Owned media helps provide information to your current prospects and customers that are most likely already in the funnel.  This media helps keep them engaged.  Whereas paid media is a way to inform your non customers and those unaware of you about your brand or offer.   Paid serves as a means of getting prospects to the funnel.  Earned media, helps to ignite the flames even more and spread the word more quickly about your brand or offer.  It helps to builds those advocates.   And keep in mind, although we call it “earned media” typically money is being put behind these efforts indirectly.


All three are important from an advertising point of view to create your brands awareness and serve their part in the mix as the figure above shows. But of the three, earned media are becoming increasingly important to a brand.  Where earned, for a large part, is a result of your paid and owned media efforts. 

But do not forget that all three work very closely together and are tightly entwined.  As the saying goes, 1 + 1 = 3 is definately the case here.

Consider these important facts from various sources to keep in mind when building out your campaigns:
  
  • Ad recall of a social ad was 55% greater than a non-social ad (Nielsen)

  • Offline sales of people exposed to a brands website is 3X more likely to make a purchase than those that were subject to the paid ad alone (Nielsen). 

  • 90% of people trust the recommendations of people they know (Nielsen)

  • 70% of people trust recommendations from people they don’t know on sites like Yelp (Nielsen)

  • Fans and friends of fans for Starbucks were found to spend 8% more and transact 11% more in store than non-fans and non-friends of fans (ComScore)

  • Fans are 41% more likely to recommend a brand to a friend (Syncapse)

As can be clearly seen, it is not any one media alone but all three that create your presence.

I hope you found this post beneficial and thought provoking.  I would love to hear your thoughts.

Perry D. Drake
Professor of Social and Digital Media
University of Missouri - St. Louis

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Purchase Funnel, Then and Now



The purchase funnel was first developed in 1898 by E. St. Elmo Lewis as a theoretical customer journey from the first point of contact with a brand to the final purchase decision.  As consumers traverse through the funnel the numbers lessen.  This is due to the fact that of all who first become aware of the brand, relatively few actually convert.  Understanding how changes in our marketing strategies at each of these steps impacts the bottom line is key to the success of any business.   Pre web and social media or post, the basics are still the same.

As shown in Figure 1 below, the marketing purchase funnel has been comprised of four main components over the years:  Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action.  This is known as AIDA.  What has mostly influenced the decisions at each stage were brand initiated and included such things as in store demos, TV and print ads, FSI's, coupons and billboards.


 Figure 1:  Purchase Funnel Pre Social Media

Due to the introduction of the web, search engines and social media, the definition of each are changing as is the relationship of each of these to one another.  However, the basic funnel concept still works.  Let’s discuss each of these concepts further in today’s world.

Awareness in today’s world has totally changed due to Social Media.  No longer are we made aware by simple push messages.  Brands are pulling us in and telling us what they have to offer.  And in some cases it is not even the brand that is directly making us aware of a product but rather our friends who are sharing their experiences with us on social media sites.

How a brand keeps our interest is also totally different thanks to retargeting of online ads or tailored web experiences due to cookie drops.

Once we have gained product awareness and shown sustained interest, a brand has many more options today to move us further along that path in order to increase our desire to buy.  Years ago we would have to call to request a sample or go into an automobile showroom to talk pricing.  Today those are no longer the only options available.

And then of course there is the purchase action.  Money is still needed for this to take place, but what has changed is how we can share our purchase experiences (good or bad) with our friends and family.  We can become advocates and make others aware of the product on behalf of the brand.

The new funnel is being depicted in many forms by various companies like Forrester Research as shown below in Figure 3. 


Figure 3:  New Model by Forrester Research

What this figure shows nicely is the “disruption” being caused in the purchase cycle by the abundance of information we can now gather at every step of the purchase process.
  
But at a high level the “funnel” concept still works.  It shows nicely how as consumers move along that journey their numbers lessen.  

Keep in mind, the funnel never was meant to depict a linear path.  What is vastly different today are the experiences or options we have at each of those steps from a marketers and consumers perspective.   What the funnel looks like today is as shown in Figure 3 below.  As you can see there are now many more things affecting the purchase decision.

Figure 3:  The New Purchase Funnel Post Social Media

The biggest difference in today’s world is advocacy.  Brands need advocates for their products.  They need to create them, find them and foster a good relationship with them.  Why?  Because they who the consumer turns to in order to gain information prior any purchase consideration.  Based on a recent Nielsen report, 92% of people trust brand advocates.  Remember, as said prior, control has shifted to the consumer in so many regards.  This makes brands a bit nervous.  Understanding that shift, as Sephora has done, and capitalizing on it will ensure a strong customer base full of advocates for your brand or offering for years to come.

I would love to hear your comments.

Perry D. Drake
Professor of Social and Digital Media
University of Missouri - St. Louis