I created a retail roundup, a public Twitter list that brings together the many facets of the retail industry ecosystem. Think of it as my retail radar for scanning retailing, technology and innovation. I leverage this list extensively to stay current, find research and uncover case studies to help add color to my customer experience blog series.
By no means is this retail radar list comprehensive and complete but it’s a good starting point for anyone interested in keeping tabs on retailing events, expert opinions, analysts, vendor specific retail practices, analytics and industry publications.
Here are some of my favorite go-to retail specific Twitter handles.
A few years ago, I had the pleasure of mentoring an ambitious and innovative marketer named LaSandra Brill. It wasn’t long before she blossomed into a leading edge authority on social media. LaSandra is the change agent visionary behind one of the top five product launches in Cisco’s history. At Cisco, she leads a team responsible for implementing a mix of innovative digital, mobile and social media techniques.
One of LaSanadra’s Facebook updates caught my eye. I’d always wanted to attend an in person TweetUp (a meet up (virtual and/or in person) of people that ‘tweet’ about a specific topic using Twitter) but never got around to doing it.
The one featured in LaSandra’s Facebook update was especially appealing because of its location, the topic (Social Selling or Selling Social?) and the panelists: Ted Sapounitz, Jennifer Leggio, Michael Brito, and LaSandra Brill – la crème de la crème of some of Silicon Valley’s best and brightest social media minds.
Silicon Valley Tweetup combines networking with philanthropy by raising money for family-oriented charities. Run by @britopian (Michael Brito), @gabrielcarrejo (Gabriel Carrejo) and @mediaphyter (Jennifer Leggio).
Jennifer Leggio describes herself as a raconteur, comedienne, hockey lover (no wonder I like her!) and “Security Twits herder emeritus”. She is VP of Corporate Communications for Sourcefire. Forbes.com tech contributor.
As of last week, Ted Sapountzis is head of Marketing and Product Management at NextPrinciples– he was formerly VP Social Marketing at SAP.
Sponsored by onemedical, the event was held was held at the Palo Alto Women’s Club. The format for the event was one part networking, two parts highly entertaining expert panel and one part free going twitter chat.
Needless to say, I felt far more comfortable at this event.
Is it that time of year? Is your heart racing at the thought of having your performance evaluation and career development discussion?
Anemic Career Development Plan?
Whatever you call them; employee reviews evaluate our performance on the job. They often determine raises, promotions, and sometimes whether we get to keep our jobs. It’s no surprise that these “report cards” often make us feel uneasy. Have you become a “human-doing” and neglected to invest in your development plan?
In any learning organization, continuous improvement means growth through learning events and experiences. It can be applied to individuals and teams. Cost and time need not be barriers to your continuous learning investment.
IMU is a free (yes, free! management will love you for it) educational program powered by HubSpot, a software company that helps marketers and small businesses grow their business online through inbound marketing.
IMU Online Training and Certification Course for Internet Marketing Professionals
Because IMU courses are self-paced, you can watch the videos whenever your schedule allows and you can download all the materials including videos, handouts and case studies. The sessions are moderated by the who’s who of content marketing. In total, there are 18 modules covering a wide range of topics from blogging basics to SEO tactics, inbound lead nurturing as well as social media for big business; to name only a few. The training curriculum concludes with a certification exam, where one can become an “Inbound Marketing Certified Professional” (providing you score 75% or higher on the online certification exam).
GF101 as in “get-found-101”
The first course covers how to blog effectively for business. It goes over the basics of blog layout and content. Ann Handley (MarketingProfs’ Chief Content Officer) and Mark Collier (Social Media Consultant) moderate this lead off session. The dynamic digital duo offers advice on how to draw in an audience and maintain quality engagement through feedback and interactions.
You’ll have to roll up your virtual sleeves to obtain the IMU certification. Each module includes a homework assignment that helps you put into practice the learning of each session. Specifically for GF101, you need to write about three best practices that you will adopt into your blogging strategy.
Fortunately for me, I’ve been blogging for a while. CaféLina is my virtual café where you’ll find tips, ideas, best practices, references and discussions on all things marketing, communications, digital, mobile and social. I’m always looking to improve the CaféLina reader experience (it’s a labor of love!)
Specifically, I want to get better in the following areas:
Analytics: better understand the nuances in the data and plan out my editorial calendar accordingly
Engagement: greater comment interaction on each post
BlogRoll: develop an area where readers can easily find and reference resources they value (people, blogs, information)
If leading edge marketing is your thing, build in a bit of time in your calendar over the course of the next few months and the next thing you know, you’ll obtain one of the industry’s hottest certification. You’ll even be looking forward to your next performance evaluation and career development discussion
It’s up to us as individuals to make a commitment to our own development.
Considering the explosive evolution of technology and business processes, it’s not difficult to understand why leading organizations strongly encourage employee self-driven quest for knowledge. These organizations understand that a culture of continuous learning is directly linked to competitiveness and business success. However, a company’s training department is seldom able to provide everything that employees need to be great at their jobs and prepare for the jobs of the future. It’s up to us as individuals to make a commitment to our own development.
What’s in your development plan? (leave a comment below)
The re-imagination section includes several examples of business models through to what Kleiner Perkins’ refers to as:
the “third wave of innovation,” combining social networking, mobile and e-commerce.
In December, 2010 Mary Meeker left her position as a managing director at Morgan Stanley and head of the bank’s global technology research team to become a partner at the Silicon Valley venture capital firm of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Meeker was named “one of the ten smartest people in tech” by “Fortune” magazine in 2010.
Mobile social networking is surging and calls for new user paradigms and behaviors … but nothing kills faster than poor execution.Mobile methods to engage the customer are expanding, making control of the engagement a higher priority for maximum reach and effective conversion.
Don’t be too quick to dismiss the usefulness of QR Codes. Naysayers usually narrowly describe them as “QR codes in ads”. Before deeming QR codes ineffective, consider them in a broader spectrum than B2C advertising. Armed with a specific goal and positioned in the right medium, they can be highly effective.
Be very clear with your mobile-social goals:
What are you trying to accomplish?
Who are you trying to reach?
What’s your success target?
B2B : Business-to-business (B2B) describes commerce transactions between businesses, such as between a manufacturer and a wholesaler, or between a wholesaler and a retailer.
Business-to-government (B2G, sometimes BtA or business-to-administration) is a derivative of B2B marketing and often referred to as a market definition of “public sector marketing” which encompasses marketing products and services to various government levels – including federal, state and local – through integrated marketing communications techniques such as strategic public relations, branding, marcom, advertising, and web-based communications
e-Government: The four types of e-government services are Government-to-Citizen (G2C), Government-to-Business (G2B), Government-to-Employee (G2E), and Government-to-Government (G2G).
Business-to-Consumer (B2C, sometimes BtC) is a term that describes communication and trade relations between companies and private individuals (consumers).
BYOD : Here, There and Everywhere
Coupled with the BYOD movement overtaking the business world, there’s an opportunity to capitalize on mobile-social behavior in many settings.
Bring your own device (BYOD) is an alternative strategy allowing employees, business partners and other users to use a personally selected and purchased client device to execute enterprise applications and access data. Source: Gartner Glossary.
For 2012, Deloitte forecasts that smartphones will influence $159 billion in retail sales.
Deloitte’s Study is based on a survey of United States consumers about how they use their smartphones to shop today and measures the impact of smartphones on in-store sales. This includes in-store sales driven by consumers’ store-related smartphone activity such as product research, price comparison or other mobile application use.
QRart: According to Gartner (as of July 2011), QR/color code is positioned in the early “slope of enlightenment” stage with an 2-5 years estimated time frame to full mainstream adoption (i.e. reaching plateau of productivity).
Following are 3 examples of cross-media optimization with QR Codes:
Walgreens: mobile app adoption
Fandango: mobile tickets sales
Shoebox: increase Facebook fan base
In its qrcode101 approach, Walgreens cleverly directs customers to the Walgreens’ Mobile App with built-in QR scanner versus an independent QR scan application.
For more on Walgreens Cross-Media Optimization, check out the following SlideShare Companion.
“Mobile purchases now comprise 27 percent of Fandango’s overall ticket sales.” | Jessica Yi, chief product officer at Fandango | July 2012
Social media is legendary for its transparency and speed. This can turn out to be a double edge sword as mistakes can be highly and widely visible.
Did you have a slip of the key? Perhaps it was an accidental tweet, an unfortunate typo or a well-meaning but poorly worded Facebook post? Maybe the brewing crisis originated from outside issues such as a customer complaint or an economic, political or a natural disaster.
After your first acknowledgement, take time (not too much, though) to craft a more detailed response. It doesn’t have to be exponentially longer than your original note, but it should contain three things:
Your understanding and acknowledgement of the problem
Affirmation that you have learned from the situation
The steps you’re taking to correct it now and prevent it from happening in the future.
Lessons Learned? Assess your response and its impact, build knowledge into the plan
Everything you do, and everything you don’t do, communicates about your brand. A mistake speaks volumes about your (in)ability to manage social media effectively. Remember that despite your best efforts, mistakes happen at some point. The key is not to panic, but to implement a social media response plan to quickly restore credence in your brand. Invest in “listening” as it offers the ability to learn from what your customers are saying.
With smartphone use soaring, many companies (big and small) are turning to quick-response, or QR Codes to connect with customers on the go. They’re placing the codes in ads, direct mail, in-store displays and product packaging, and using them to link to a host of features—discounts, websites and videos.
QR Codes in Marketing Collaterals
The conference is just around the corner, time is of essence; marketing materials are expected at the printer. If they include a QR code, be sure to test it out in all intended formats (business card, post card, banner, mobile and web landing sites).
Testing Scannability is a MUST!
This obvious and essential step is often overlooked yet it’s critical to your success. The potential customer has decided to take an important step in the engagement journey by attempting to scan your code. She wants to see the demo of your product, NOW! The QR code will get her there. She might also want to share it with her boss. Make sure it works!
Recently, a well intentioned company (who shall remain nameless) decided to incorporate a QR code in its marketing materials. The company has a slick online demo that showcases its product offerings. The marketing team decided to create post cards for an upcoming trade show. The asset contained an attention grabbing headline, a clean crisp message, and strong call to action with a companion QR code that drove to the slick demo. The post card was beautiful. So far so good.
On the surface, even though the post card “looked great”, the QR code didn’t work because the printed image on the post card was a resized (reduced) version of the original asset. The QR code image had been compromised in the shrinking process rendering it unreadable even with a reader with an error level tolerance as high as 30%. The vendor realized the error only after hearing about it from a prospect.
Testing the QR code in all intended sizes and formats would have prevented this costly mistake.
Tip : Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes, test the QR code journey you want him to take. Testing is especially important if you’ve resized an asset to a smaller or larger size. What works in the original size may not in a different one. When you resize, be sure to preserve the integrity of your QR code image and avoid this costly and embarrassing mistake. With a scannable QR code you’ll be able to track and monitor the customer journey and relationship between on and offline – making every aspect of your marketing effort quantifiable.
What Makes Silicon Valley the World Capital of Innovation? Why is it home to high-tech wizardry and entrepreneurial witchcraft? What’s the Silicon Valley secret sauce and why it is so hard to copy?
Every spring, the newest crop of UOttawa eMBA candidates visits Silicon Valley. Over the course of their one week trip, the students are exposed to Valley tech companies (from BIG names to startups), VCs, and schools. They network for projects and assignments – all with a view of gaining insights into what makes Silicon Valley such a special place. Is it something in the water, the air, the food or is it the climate that fuels the innovation DNA so characteristic of Silicon Valley?
The eMBA trip includes an Alumni evening reception. As an UOttawa MBA alumni and Silicon Valley resident, I’ve participated in this annual function for over 10 years. Some questions are consistent from one year to the next. These typically include:
But by far, the most consistent question is always:
What makes Silicon Valley so special?
Thankfully, this year, Gigi Wang was on hand to address that one! Gigi is the Chair Emeritus of the MIT/Stanford Venture Lab (where she remains on the Board) and is Managing Partner at MG-Team, an international strategic marketing and business development firm for mobile, web services and telecom companies. In her keynote, she outlined her perspective on “What’s makes Silicon Valley such a special place?”. Needless to say, she did a much better job than I did in addressing this question.
“It starts with the culture” she says, “In addition to the excellent institutions and R&D, governmental support, and access to investment capital, it’s the culture that really makes a region like Silicon Valley so unique and wildly successful”.
She structures her talk around insights or pearls of wisdom. Each pearl includes anecdotes and examples that help to explain the mystic of Silicon Valley.
Need to Trust:trust begins with openness and transparency, it must be mutual or it won’t work.
Risk-taking:Innovation and entrepreneurship requires risk-taking in addition to passion.
“Embrace cultural tourism” explains Gigi, “go beyond your comfort zone, build a prototype, visit a new place”. She goes on to emphasize her final point: “but most important of all, know that failure is good because mistakes leads to valuable experience and knowledge”.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” Thomas Edison
Collaboration: People need to share ideas and work on problems together, even competitors
This is counterintuitive to most of us. “We guard our ideas and our piece of the pie for fear of losing it”. “Do the opposite” she explains. Gigi illustrates the point with how the CEO of Coulomb Technologies, a maker of electric charging stations, openly shared ideas and challenges with a Spanish counterpart. She describes how the Spanish CEO was floored at this uncharacteristic openness because the two companies target the same market. The executive came to appreciate that “trust, openness and transparency leads to a bigger pie” she says. Make the most of your frenemies.
“In the high-tech world, it’s not about fighting over the existing pie,
but GROWING the pie together.” Gigi Wang
Integrity: High-level of integrity is required when being open and collaborating
The objective is not about “win-lose”. It’s about give&take and that win-win-win is the objective. She explains the three pronged win as being the success of company, employees and partners in the service of customers as espoused by Groupon founder Andrew Mason.
Accessibility:access to experience and resources to new entrepreneurs
Gigi’s advice to budding entrepreneurs and leaders: be open, reach out. “Don’t wait for an introduction; take the risk to introduce yourself”. As for successful and seasoned entrepreneurs; she suggests that they reach out to young entrepreneurs and share valuable advice and learning.
Lee Fraser, President of the Canadan California Business Council (CCBC) was also on hand that evening. To reinforce the point on accessibility, he cites the C100 as one of countless mentorship program in that regards. C100 is comprised of a select group of Canadians based primarily in Silicon Valley, including executives of leading technology companies, experienced startup entrepreneurs and venture capital investors. C100 is dedicated to supporting Canadian technology entrepreneurship and investment.
Constructive Feedback:you must understand what you’ve done right and what you’ve done wrong
Develop and refine your “pitch” skills, embrace continuous learning
Stanford offers more free online classes for the world: Last fall, 356,000 people from 190 countries expressed interest in one or more of the first three classes offered, and approximately 43,000 successfully completed a course. Participants came from as close as Stanford’s Palo Alto campus and as far away as Ghana, Peru, Russia and New Zealand.
NPR: The Birth Of Silicon Valley: A Timeline (This graphical presentation covers the period from the formation of Hewlett Packard in 1938 to the 1971 first appearance of the nickname Silicon Valley in print. Includes a picture of the garage where William Hewlett and David Packard founded Hewlett-Packard Co. in 1939)
iTunes App, an insider’s guide to the companies, people, and products that created this vibrant center of high-tech innovation. More info Tracking down the roots (the pioneers) and shoots (the spin-out companies) of the digital revolution is made easy with this unique guide to over 150 locations and resources in the southern San Francisco Bay Area cities, campuses and industrial parks. Each location has many photos, concise descriptions, maps, and links to additional information.