Archive for the ‘Case Studies’ Category

It’s not enough to call social media a “trend.” It’s a full-fledged cultural phenomenon, and more business owners are jumping on the bandwagon each and every day.

It’s not surprising, considering the fast-paced and often confusing nature of the industry, that myths and misinformation are prominent. Below are seven of the most common–and the most damaging:

1. “My customers are not active in social media.” Nielsen estimates that social media sites and blogs reach 80% of all active U.S. internet users. Social media isn’t limited to certain demographics. Your customers are out there–it’s up to you to figure out where.

2. “Facebook is the only social media site we need.” Facebook is an ideal platform for reaching consumers. LinkedIn, on the other hand, offers easy access to business owners and professionals. Twitter continues to explode in popularity, currently growing at a rate of 11 accounts per second. LinkedIn, Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest all have a valuable role to play as well. Don’t limit yourself to a single social media channel.

3. “I can’t have a significant impact if I don’t have thousands of followers.” While a large audience is certainly desirable, pursue quality over quantity. A hundred Twitter followers or Facebook fans that belong to your target market are better than 10,000 who don’t. Seek to build relationships and provide value to your market; the numbers will take care of themselves.

4. “Pinterest is a passing fad… so I don’t need to establish a presence.” Actually, Pinterest is the fastest growing social network of all time–ignore it at your peril! (Here’s how to get started.)

5. “Social media is great for B2C sales… but not B2B.” LinkedIn is an incredible platform for selling to businesses. Create a profile, get involved in targeted groups and participate in discussions relevant to your industry.

6. “Our customers talk about us on social media without us–we don’t need to create conversation.” Customers who act as brand ambassadors are incredibly valuable, but if you fail to control the conversation, you are leaving the fate of your business in the hands of others. You need a presence in order to respond to criticism and consistently broadcast your brand.

7. “I don’t need a social media strategy.” Many business owners consider social media platforms to be fun and even engaging, but not worthy of a long-term strategy and a system for executing it. But in order to be effective on social media, you must be consistent. And without a systemized approach to social media, it’s impossible for a busy small busy owner to maintain a consistent presence.

[Image: Flickr user Gabe Gross]

Originally published by expert blogger JOHN SOUZA | 04-20-2012 in Fast Company

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… pioneering initiative paves the way for retail revolution …

hybris, a global leader in multichannel commerce solutions, has announced the development of a new plug-in for its B2C Commerce solution, in association with the world’s leading family leisure, baby care and toy megastore, Toys “R” Us. The plug-in enables the retailer to link directly to customers searching for products through the Google Local Shopping (GLS) service with the reassurance that its product information and availability is completely up to date.

Local Shopping is a service offered by Google that is designed to bring together local stores and people who are shopping online. Retailers submit the products in their bricks and mortar stores through to Google, enabling them to reach out to customers searching for specific items, and communicating the availability and location of the product at a store close to their own location.

The hybris plug-in has been developed for Toys “R” Us (www.toysrus.co.uk) in partnership with Neoworks, hybris’ specialist ecommerce solutions partner. Neoworks has been responsible for integrating the hybris B2C Commerce platform for the retailer as part of its multichannel strategy in the UK.

Toys “R” Us delivers its stock figures directly from the mainframe each morning, and Neoworks processes these through hybris B2C Commerce in order to deliver three feeds directly to GLS. The first provides up to date details on the locations of stores in the UK, opening times, and other store information. The second confirms the product catalogue available through GLS, and the third is an update of prices and availability of products.

Will White, Head of eCommerce at Toys “R” Us, said: “The hybris plug-in allows us to maximize the Google Local Shopping service by ensuring that information available to customers is always up to date. We are particularly targeting customers who use mobiles to research and locate products, offers and availability of stock. This is an enhancement to our Click & Collect service putting our online customers in touch with our stores to locate and purchase products quickly and easily.”

hybris and Neoworks have further developed the GLS plug-in feature as a built-in function of the new version of the hybris B2C Commerce stack, which is due to be launched in December 2011.

Ariel Luedi, CEO at hybris: “The Google Local Shopping plug-in is a fantastic example of how we can maximise the combined engineering and product development expertise of our own and the Neoworks team. The feature is delivering rich data that enables Toys “R” Us to connect with a broader range of customers and attract them into stores across the UK. Our next step is to roll-out this feature across other European countries.”

Originally published by Hybris

Steve Jobs video from his days at NeXT

Posted: December 1, 2011 by FMstereo in Apple, Case Studies, Tech
Steve Jobs at NeXT

Another reel of video footage of Steve Jobs is making the rounds, this one featuring Jobs during his tenure at NeXT Computer, after his ouster from Apple. The film was shot for a series called “Entrepreneurs,” and while the quality isn’t great (at least not until somebody fixes the tracking), the footage is truly fascinating. We get to see a very young Steve Jobs gardening, as well as him ensconced in the NeXT office, unveiling the Paul Rand-designed logo for the young company.

Originally published by By Laura June on November 29, 2011 05:28 pm in The Verge.


Media research firm Nielsen today announced the results of its Mobile Connected Device Report survey for the first quarter of 2011, determining that Apple held a dominating 82% of the installed base for tablets in the United States during the quarter. The survey found 3G-capable iPads slightly more popular than non-3G models, 43% to 39%, with the Samsung Galaxy Tab proving the most popular competitor with only 4% of the market.
The study also examined the effect of tablet ownership on usage of other devices, with 35% of tablet owners reporting that they had decreased usage of desktop computers and 32% reporting decreased usage of notebook computers. Interestingly, 9% of owners actually increased their desktop machine usage while 13% increased their notebook usage, calling into question just how much of the usage variation is due to effects from tablets.Twenty-seven percent of those who also own eReaders said they use their eReader less often or not at all – the same percentage as those who also own portable media players. One-in-four tablet owners who own portable games consoles are using those devices less often, if at all, since purchasing a tablet.
About half of tablet owners report that they are the exclusive user of the device in their household, while 43% report sharing the device with others. 8% of tablet owners do not use the device at all, with usage instead tied to another member of the household.

Originally posted by Eric Slivka on Thursday May 05, 2011 01:25 PM

The Super Bowl XLV showdown between the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers set more than just an all-time TV ratings record. No, Green Bay’s taut 31-25 victory over Pittsburgh was also the most tweeted sporting event of all-time.

To be precise, at 10:07:16 Eastern Standard Time, Twitter users were sending out some 4,064 tweets per second, which shattered the previous record held by Japan’s 3-1 win over Denmark during last summer’s World Cup in South Africa. But more than that, global Twitter usage actually broke that recordsix times during Sunday’s contest.

And, with Twitter being Twitter, the company has released a helpful chart that helps illustrate the spikes in TPS (or tweets per second, natch) that occurred during various points of the game. As you can see, the first record-breaking occurred when eventual-Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers hit wide receiver Jordy Nelson for the game’s first touchdown. (Click the image to embiggen and take a look for yourself.)

Interestingly enough, Usher ended up being the most talked about person during the entire Super Bowl, thanks to his surprise appearance during what was an otherwise dreadful halftime show featuring the Black Eyed Peas. (Actually, it’s kind of sad to see how small Slash’s spike is as compared to Usher’s.)

Still, with the NFL having set all sorts of ratings records during the 2010 season, it really comes as no surprise that this year’s Super Bowl would take its rightful place not only atop the TV ratings pantheon but Twitter’s traffic charts as well.

By Erik Malinowski, February 9, 2011  | 4:55 pm  |

Today’s consumers are most likely to interact with brands via social networks. So, what does this mean for brand websites?

Bacardi: focus on social networking

Bacardi’s decision to move away from campaign websites to focus its digital strategy on social networks (Marketing, 26 January) may seem bold. However, it poses a question to all marketers: do expensive brand websites have a role in the age of social media?

Faced with declining numbers of visitors to its brand sites – according to comScore, Bacardi’s unique visitor numbers fell 77% between 2009 and 2010 – it is understood that the company will be shifting up to 90% of its digital spend to its presence on Facebook in the next one to two years.

Branded content will be shared primarily through online communities, with dotcom sites for its brands, such as Bacardi, Bombay Sapphire and Grey Goose, pared back.

Bacardi may be one of the first companies to re-examine the role of its websites, but it will not be the last. As Ian Crocombe, planning director at digital agency AKQA, says, if some brands deleted their corporate website, it would make little difference to their level of brand recognition online.

‘Corporate sites made sense in web 1.0, when you drove traffic to landing pages with banners, and collected email addresses,’ he says. ‘Modern consumers are engaged by real-time, social digital experiences which transcend device and are powered by location.’

Forward-thinking brands, such as Nike (an AKQA client), have already made this leap, he adds. Nike Football realigned its digital marketing two years ago and focused on delivering real-time experiences. For the 2010 World Cup, it built a platform where it could engage with 4.6m football fans and delivered exclusive content.

Honda also re-assessed the role of brand websites two years ago when it redesigned its systems architecture to centralise all sales and marketing information on one site.

Ian Armstrong, Honda manager for European communications, says: ‘Traditionally, each new campaign had a microsite with relevant content. You end up replicating some level of functionality. The opportunity was to construct content in a way that’s more modular and shareable across multiple platforms.’

Given the nature of car purchases, information-rich websites will remain vital. People want a place where they can come where the content is trusted, says Armstrong.

However, social networks have a huge role to play in car purchases, too. ‘People have conversations about cars and the network has a view that influences the purchase decision,’ he adds.

Graham Hodge, branded content director at digital agency LBi, says that within budgetary constraints, marketers should not perceive an ‘either-or’ situation. ‘There is certainly plenty of life in brand websites, especially if you enjoy a transactional relationship with your customers,’ he adds. ‘However, it is naive to invest a lot of money in a destination website and not support it with activity that engages audiences out there, where they spend the bulk of their time online.

‘Each approach has its strengths. Social sites have huge traffic; and well-thought-out branded content that fuels conversations can be a great way to recruit people into a brand. Meanwhile, a brand-owned property like a website can offer a more immersive experience for brand loyalists.’

Dangers of relinquishing control

As a warning of the risks that exist in the push toward social media, Hodge cites the example of confectionery brand Skittles, which decided to scrap its website in 2009 and replace it with a page that aggregated social-media mentions. It backfired when people realised they could post abusive material.

The brand reconfigured its approach, but has maintained a social element, encouraging users to submit images and video. Ian Tweedale, senior marketing manager for Skittles owner Wrigley, says social media now provides a key platform through which to engage with consumers. ‘It facilitates a two-way conversation and enables consumers to create their own ways of communicating,’ he adds. ‘The 14m fans of the Skittles Facebook page offers us a constant audience to deliver our messages to, and the result is more-regular and richer communication.’

Skittles’ experience of user-generated content highlights the danger of a headlong rush to be social. Rather than a multitude of brands ditching their websites for Facebook pages, YouTube channels and Twitter feeds, the future is likely to engender platforms combining to offer a more complete picture of the brand experience.

Brands need to understand how and why their consumers will engage with these channels before deciding which strategy to take.

OPINION – THE VIEW FROM DIAGEO

– Bryony Stickells, Head of digital, Diageo

You have to start with the consumer, who they are, where they engage with a brand and what they want to engage with. Then consider what channels suit the brand. Gordon’s drinkers, for example, are less confident with social media than people who enjoy Smirnoff.

Social spaces have their uses in hosting community-based conversations, but they are not so good for hosting rich content. For that, the consumer would expect to go to a brand website.

However, the days of lavish £200,000 websites are over. What will emerge will be content that is more interactive and richer, which is what consumers expect. Rather than being mere repositories for information, websites will connect to social networks and platforms.

Websites remain important. They allow you to represent the brand in the way you want. This is not the case with social media or apps, as their set formats reduce brands’ creative licence.

Baileys launched a Facebook page before Christmas for its target audience of women in their mid 20s to 30s who are really up for conversations.

In future, it will be about how to encourage regular and quick chats and reward loyalty via the relationship programme.

This article was first published on marketingmagazine.co.uk by Stuart Derrick, 02 February 2011, 12:00AM

Sales of e-books overtook sales of paperback books on Amazon in the last quarter of 2010, when the online retailer notched up its first $10bn quarter.

Amazon: Kindle sales soar as online retailer records $10bn quarter

Amazon: Kindle sales soar as online retailer records $10bn quarter

For every 100 paperback books sold, Amazon is selling 115 Kindle books, although sales of paperbacks are also increasing.

Profit before tax for the last quarter of 2010 rose to $506m (£319m) from $471m the year before, with full-year profits rising to $1.49bn from £1.16bn in 2009.

Sales at Amazon passed the $10bn mark for the quarter for the first time, rising 36% to $12.95bn (£8.16bn). Full-year sales rose 40% to $34.2bn (£21.55bn).

Jeff Bezos, chief executive of Amazon.com said: “We achieved two big milestones. We had our first $10bn quarter, and, after selling millions of third-generation Kindles with the new Pearl e-ink display during the quarter, Kindle books have now overtaken paperback books as the most popular format on Amazon.com.

“Last July we announced that Kindle books had passed hardcovers and predicted that Kindle would surpass paperbacks in the second quarter of this year, so this milestone has come even sooner than we expected – and it’s on top of continued growth in paperback sales.”

Amazon finally bought LoveFilm earlier this month for an undisclosed sum.

In November, Amazon acquired FMCG e-commerce business Quidsi, which owns baby product site Diapers.com, for a reported $540m (£334m).

It also bought online shoe retailer Zappos in 2009 in a deal worth $850m (£531m).

This article was first published on marketingmagazine.co.uk

By Ed Owen, marketingmagazine.co.uk, 28 January 2011, 09:32AM

Recently, I wrote about several things clients say that drive freelancers nuts. Some of these things are annoying, but can be addressed.

There are, however, certain types of prospective clients that freelancers should avoid at all costs.

Without further ado, avoid the client who…

  • Asks you to first work on spec. While amateurs and those who are desperate for work will often agree to take on spec work in the hopes that it will lead to a paying gig, a prospective client who would ask you to perform services without pay is almost certainly not worthy of being your client.
  • Expects a firm price quote before deliverables are finalized. It should go without saying, but it’s kind of hard to agree to perform work at a certain cost when you don’t know what that work is. Yet some clients will expect precisely this. Sometimes freelancers are tempted to go along, especially when dealing with a large project budget, but agreeing to do work on a fixed cost basis before you know what you’re going to have to deliver usually doesn’t end well for the freelancer.
  • Wants you to make all of the decisions. It’s nice to have clients that trust you to make certain decisions, but be very careful about clients who want you to make all of the big, tough decisions. Nine times out of 10, these types of clients will decide after the fact that they really want the opposite of what you decided. As such, it’s best to avoid clients who are too lazy to help you help them.
  • Has a bad reputation. If a potential client has a legitimately bad reputation (eg. is notorious for not paying on time, has acted dishonestly in the past, etc.), run, don’t walk, away. Zebras don’t change their stripes.
  • Is rude. Some clients are difficult. But there’s a difference between a client who is difficult and a client who is downright rude. It all boils down to personal respect. A client can be demanding and business-like to the extreme. That’s fine. Your clients are paying you to deliver the goods, not to be a friend. But when a client is insulting and treats you like trash, it’s my opinion that you will always come out feeling like a loser. Your dignity and happiness doesn’t have a price tag.

Acquiring clients can be hard work, so it’s often difficult to turn a prospective client away. But problem clients end up hurting your bottom line and reducing your ability to deliver for the good ones, so if you want to succeed as a freelancer, focus on building a roster of quality clients and avoiding impostors.

Originally Posted: 23 February 2010 11:19am by Patricio Robles

Bemoaning clients is a popular past time for agencies. The client is stupid, doesn’t know what they want and aren’t willing to pay for it. Sometimes this moaning is warranted, a lot of the time it’s definitely not.

As a client, hiring and then sustaining the relationship with the right supplier is much more difficult than is appreciated.

Following on from five clients you should avoid like the plague, here are five suppliers to look out for…

The Back Bedroom

Spare Bedroom being used as an Office

Back Bedrooms are normally One-Man-Band small operations that try to make themselves look bigger than they are during the tendering process. They operate from a back bedroom in their house, converted into an office. Sometimes you can tell straight from a name (I have a habit of avoiding anyone called Studios or Productions), sometimes by their body of work.

Of course, you would never hire these guys in the first place, but appearances can be deceptive. Remember it’s perfectly fine to ask for turnover, trading history and staff size during the tendering process.

If a previously established name is now running on a skeleton crew, it’s going to affect your deadlines. If the company doesn’t have the resources to invest in continuous training, it’s going to affect the quality of their work. If you’re going to trust your business to this agency, then it’s vital that you know as much about them as possible.

Does this mean there’s no space for small studios within your supplier portfolio? Of course not. The most successful small suppliers I’ve seen are the ones who’ve focussed on producing amazing work within a small niche, quickly becoming the go-to guys, rather than the one-man-bands who say they do everything, in the hope of being hired (something that can apply to larger agencies too!)

The Factory

Factory conditions

An agency will never start off as a Factory, but how quickly they turn into one is what to watch out for. Let me explain:

A client hiring a supplier is an admission. The admission being “I can’t do this myself, I don’t have the knowledge or experience in doing this”.
,
However, the client will have business goals, and an idea on how they can be achieved. So what does The Factory do? They execute those ideas, without question, in an efficient and timely manner.

How terrible!

I am frequently wrong. I don’t know best and I’m keen to admit it, that’s why I’ve hired an agency with the expertise and know how. If I’ve been smart during the tendering process, the supplier would have done the job for someone else, and will bring that knowledge to my project, tell me (gently!) that I’m wrong, and show me a better way of doing it.

The biggest problem that occurs when your agency turns into a factory is that the magic disappears: that spark of creativity and innovation that begun your relationship wanes.

But fortunately this is a situation you can fix yourself. Any business partnership is a relationship that requires honesty on both sides, so if you feel the magic is going, tell your agency, they might even feel the same and want to fix it.

The Bait & Switch

Supplier Rickrolls

You’ll be in the tendering process, and of course during the pitch, the Bait & Switch supplier wheel out their Superstars. The discussion on creative will be done by the creative director showing work they themselves have done. Technical Lead or Head Consultant on whatever your project is about will be present, speak knowledgeably and fill you with confidence that Yes, These Are The Folks For The Job.

This is the Supplier equivalent of a RickRoll.

This is because, when you start working with the Bait & Switch, you don’t get the Creative Director, Technical Lead or Head Consultant, you get the “B” team. Even worse, sometimes you get the junior or the new guy, who the Bait & Switch are using your account to train on. However, unlike at a Hair Salon, you’re still paying Creative Director prices.

Make sure, during the pitching process, the people you speak with are the people you’ll be working with.

The Emotionally Distant

Unhappy Couple not communicating

The Emotionally Distant don’t spend time understanding your business, and don’t want to. Often the problem of large agencies, there’s a feeling of arrogance when you work with them – that this is not a relationship of equals, you have difficulty connecting. They’re professional, but not warm and sometimes not fun and rewarding to work with. They are certainly not your friends.

It’s the responsibly of your Account Manager and Project Manager, and your responsibility, to make this relationship work. In fact, your Project Manager makes or breaks a relationship, more so than an account manager, since they are responsible for delivering on the reason they were first hired.

During my career, I’ve been fortunate to have been blessed with some amazing Project Managers, including Rob BorleyNikki Parker, and Claire DeVilliers as well as some truly shocking ones (who I won’t name!).

Client/Supplier relationships only work when trust and respect, and a desire for understanding is held on most sides. If you have a sour relationship with your chief point of contact at a Supplier, you won’t be working with them for very long.

The Used Car Salesman

The Used Car Saleman

The Used Car Salesman is big on making money and getting the sale. Not a bad plan for any agency that wants to stay in business, but they way they do it is often at odds with a healthy business relationship.

You can normally tell this supplier from when you initially enquire about their business. Soon you’ll be getting a call a day asking for an update on your decision, sometimes with an incentive to make it. “Hey, I’ve been authorised to give you 10% off the annual fee and Free Dashboards if you sign up today”.

This tells me three things:

  1. Dashboards aren’t worth anything.
  2. I can probably get them to 40% if I try hard.
  3. I can get this discount any time I like.

Finger-in the air pricing models are normally based on what the Used Car Salesman will think you’ll pay. If you have to deal with these people, remember to act poor.

But sometimes, the Used Car Salesman will try a different tactic. Within months of starting the relationship – you get assigned a dreaded Business Development Manager. A permanent sales person, who make you ask yourself, “exactly whose business are they trying to develop?”.

A client/supplier relationship is one built on trust, if that trust is compromised by making the client feel they are perpetually being sold to, the client will leave.

How do you avoid suppliers like these?

The sure fire way: always ask to speak to other clients of theirs. Whilst they’ll obviously bring out the clients who’ll be suitably glowing, it gives you a great feeling of the sorts of clients they work well with, and if theirs a personality fit with you as a client.

Originally Posted on Econsultancy on 21 January 2011 12:48pm by Matthew Curry

Becoming a freelance consultant or service provider is easy, but turning a profit can be difficult.

One of the lessons learned through experience: profitability often has a lot more to do with avoiding the wrong clients than it does finding a never-ending stream of new clients.

Fortunately, the wrong clients typically come in several well-defined and easily identifiable shapes and sizes.

Here are the top five clients you should consider avoiding like the plague if you hope to be profitable.

The Fisherman

If you’re a web designer or developer, chances are you’ve met The Fisherman. He often appears to be a serious client, and he may very well be one, but early on in your initial dialog it becomes clear: he’s going to want a lot out of you before he’s ready to officially move forward with paying work.

For instance, if you’re a web developer, The Fisherman may come to you without a project spec, and without a clear idea of the technologies he should use. So he’ll ask you to help him figure out what he needs, gratis, of course, so that he can do you the favor of moving ahead with the project after you’ve given him a four-course meal of your expertise.

Why You Should Avoid The Fisherman: Unless you can get him to pay for your expertise up front, you’ll provide far more value to The Fisherman than you will likely be compensated for — if he actually hires you to implement, which is always a big if.

The Mime Artist

Communication is a crucial part of any client relationship, and it’s a two-way street. Clients should expect that their service providers are capable communicators, but clients should also understand that their ability to communicate is a prerequisite for project success too.

With The Mime Artist, communication is so difficult that you feel like you’re trying to figure out what’s going on sans the spoken or written word. As a result, you’re unable to get a clear understanding of what the client needs and wants.

Why You Should Avoid The Mime Artist: Trying to communicate with a client that is unable to communicate effectively is one of the best ways to damage your head without banging it into a wall repeatedly. It’s also a great way to spend time on a project that is likely to leave everyone disappointed in the end.

The Deluded

Many freelance web developers have seen The Deluded. He’s the client who wants you to build a site that will combine the features of Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Digg, Napster and every other popular site ever built since 1998, to create a website design in exchange for equity because he’s going to revolutionize an industry and sell his site for a lot of money within a year, etc.

In other words, The Deluded is usually completely out of touch with reality and wants you to become a part of his impossibility.

Why You Should Avoid The Deluded: Simply put, you can never deliver for The Deluded. Fortunately, this client is easy to spot and most experienced service providers do manage to avoid him.

The Spouse

Clients deserve a certain level of respect and attention, particularly when they’re paying good money. But some — The Spouses — expect a little bit too much. You probably have some experience with these clients: they send emails for the sake of sending emails, like to phone you a few times a day just to see how things are going, and want you to meet frequently on-site because they ‘like‘ interaction.

In some cases, you may even half expect to see them when you arrive at home because they find a way to make themselves a fixture in your life. Hence the name, The Spouse.

Why You Should Avoid The Spouse: There’s a fine line between a client who needs a little bit of hand-holding and a client who isn’t hugged enough. When you encounter the latter, it usually means that you’ll spend an inordinate amount of time not getting work done, which can eventually harm your other client relationships.

The Cheapskate

Everybody loves bargains, and if you’re a service provider, chances are clients and prospective clients will frequently ask you to provide them in some form or another. The Cheapskate takes bargain-hunting to another level, however, as he seeks to maximize how much he gets and minimize how much he pays you.

In many cases, The Cheapskate will try to change the terms of your engagement afterthey’ve been agreed upon. Particularly dangerous is The Cheapskate who has mastered the subtle art of scope creep, and who can sometimes make you feel guilty about not doing extra work for free when he requests it.

Why You Should Avoid The Cheapskate: Working with clients who want a ‘great‘ price rather than a solid value is rarely a profitable exercise.

Originally Posted: 19 January 2011 11:47am by Patricio Robles