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Holiday Ramblings December 23, 2011

Posted by Edwin Ritter in Grab Bag.
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The busiest time of year is here with both the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. Lots of things involved to properly celebrate, which makes us all very busy.  I am ready for the holidays. My family will be together once again. I look forward to spending most of my time on personal things. I anticipate and enjoy being in the company of loved ones and reconnecting with those close to me.2011 Holiday Season

As it is near the end of the year, it is also a time of reflection. I have had a year with several major changes. Some good, some bad. On the whole, I’m lucky that the good outweighs the bad. That makes for a positive year. Several people have remarked they are surprised that I maintain a positive attitude. I much prefer that to the alternative. Yes, there is room for improvement. Always. For what I can control, I will look to make those improvements. Keep the good and change/fix the bad – always a goal for the next year.

I’m ready for the holidays and hope you are also. Keep the old traditions alive and start some new ones. Appreciate those who are in our lives and remember those who have past and are no longer with us.

During this busy time, I encourage you to carve out time to reconnect with those people near to you. Make some memories – laugh, love, live.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Peace.

Ramblings on Social Media Best Practices December 19, 2011

Posted by Edwin Ritter in Trends.
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Now that we have been practicing for some time, we are aware of good (and, bad) ways to employ social media. Opinions will vary about the ‘best of the best’. That is the beauty of the web, it always changes. From a book summary I read on social media, here are some of the best practices according to the author at this point in time. The full abstract about the book is available here. This is not an exhaustive, all inclusive list. The basics are covered and should align with your current techniques for using social media effectively.

There are multiple platforms* available for your content and they should be used relative to the target audience. Perhaps due to timing, one platform not mentioned is Goolge+. Having likeable content is a fundamental criteria for success. Get your customer to listen to you and then….

  1. Listen first, and never stop listening – You want to know what customers think. Ask and they will tell you. Next, the most important thing to do is listen. Closing the loop by acting on what your customers tell you will prove that you not only listened, but that you understand and can do something about it.
  2. Define your target audience better than ever – There are many tools that allow you can focus on your true demographics for your product/service(s). Define them and determine what will  make them ‘like’ your content.
  3. Think – and act – like your consumer – Remember, it’s about them, not you. Don’t sell them; instead, provide content this is of interest to them. Get them talking about topics of interest and find ways to integrate your wares into their lifestyle.
  4. Invite your customers to be your first fans – Word of mouth (WOM) is key here. The more likes you get, the better your credibility. Be clear about your value proposition and define what is in it for them. Remember, there is no value add if only your employees are interacting with your content.
  5. Create true dialogue with, and between, your customers – Related to listening and being genuine. Get them talking about you to leverage the WOM effect. When your customers share tips, tricks with others, it proves they are engaged. It also saves you from providing customer support directly. Help guide the discussion by acknowledging comments – and, correct where needed.
  6. Be Authentic – Get connected by being demonstrating an interest in your customers. Personalize it by including your name.
  7. Be Honest and transparent – You can spot a phony a mile away. Your customers can too.
  8. Integrate social media into the entire customer experience – Another fundamental for success and canot be stressed enough. Make sure everyone who interacts with your customers has the same message and is aware of promotions and specials. Regardless of how they find you, it should be consistent messaging. The last thing you want is a dis-connect among channels and mis-managed expectations from your customers.  If they are online, they can tell their network about you – the good and the bad.
  9. Don’t sell! Just make it easy and compelling for customers to buy – They already found your content and are engaged. Don’t insult them with a bland sales pitch. State the (relative) value proposition clearly and make it easy to ‘Add to Cart‘.

*Platforms range from Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, FourSquare, LinkedIn, Blogs and specialized networks (e.g. – flickr, yelp, etc.)

Having a dialogue with your customers is easy using a social media platform. I would add that you keep in mind how you want to be treated. After all, we all are consumers in the end.

Ruminations on 5 New Management metrics December 14, 2011

Posted by Edwin Ritter in career, Project Management.
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I saw this article today on Forbes.com about new ways to manage. I agree with each and have used several of these metrics with success. To read the full article, use the link provided. My comments on each metric are included below. While it is a catchy title, I don’t think managers need to know these to be successful. You can adapt one or more for your own use easily and look for ways to subtly employ each of the strategies described. These metrics won’t drastically change management styles, but they do provide ways to improve your management ability and help drive your team to be successful.

Metric 1: Flow State Percentage

Basically indicates that people need more think/soak time. When you have time to concentrate (i.e. – no interruptions), you are more productive. Getting to, and staying in, the zone more often makes you a better performer.

Metric 2: The Anxiety-Boredom Continuum

Keep a balance here. Not too easy, not too hard. Stay engaged and tune the level needed as it suites your team.

Metric 3: Meeting Promoter Score

I have used this to great effect. If you rate the meetings, you get instant feedback on what works, what does not and what people are really interested in. I found that once you have a consistent score, you don’t need to track it and your team knows what to expect and is engaged. Bonus – if you end meetings early, expect your score to increase.

Metric 4: Compound Weekly Learning Rate

My Father-in-Law, who came from the old country, always said “Every day you learn.” You do if you are motivated to do so. Even if you just did this for yourself, measuring your progress would change your priorities and how you spend your time in the office.

Metric 5: Positive Feedback Ratio

Catch your team doing things right. Even the mundane tasks. The author mentions the payback is realized that when you have legitimate criticism, your reports will listen.

These strategies are easy to implement. You can try one or more with your team and tune them as needed. With the new year just around the corner, now is a great time to look at ways to improve your management skills. Who knows – you may influence your peers and your boss by doing this.

Good luck and let me know what your metrics look like over time.

Ramblings on 2012 trends December 13, 2011

Posted by Edwin Ritter in Trends.
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Among the many trends expected for 2012, I think video consumption will see the biggest change. I base this in part from my own biased observations, anecdotes with my friends and from the video highlights of Mashable’s  recent media summit in November.  The link includes a video where each of these topics are discussed. Here is a summary of the 2012 prognostications as described by Mashable’s own Pete Cashmore.

  1. The interface evolution from CUI to GUI will continue to evolve with Touch. Apple devices started this awhile ago with gestures and magic mouse. Now, Smartphones, tablets and even some basic phones include touch screens. Expect to see new screens and new devices use touch technology.
  2. More choices for Aggregation services. Managing the data stream coming at you from news, weather, sports – whatever the topic of interest, expect to see more apps. Examples include flipboard, pulse and livestand.
  3. Life after the iPad – advances in ereaders and other tablet competitors will drive the market. Expect to deals on these devices along with feature, function improvements and price point changes.
  4. Social gestures – do you share everything? Do you want to? Privacy issues will push what is our commonly accepted practice to share & manage information.
  5. TV Everywhere (my pick for biggest impact). Video consumption from any device will continue. On demand – what we want, when we want and where we want it. Cable companies will continue to explore ways to grab and maintain market share by enabling devices beyond the TV (iPad, smartphone).
  6. The 2nd Screen experience – interactive TV let viewers engage with the shows they are watching. Think polls, audience feedback in real time, viewers multi-tasking, enriching the video experience via Social Media apps.
  7. Speaking of which – more TV & Movie marketing apps. This could lead to a new distribution channel for trailers and teasers.
  8. Social Music – more apps like Rdo, Mog and Spotify. These apps and others will integrate the social gestures mentioned above.

Best of the rest includes advances with HTML5, flexible displays, iTV (that video impact again) and several option in push-based media. Among them location based news and media using near field communications (NFC).

Looks like 2012 will be an interesting year. Video consumption will not only impact cable companies but also content producers. TV shows will fragment into smaller digestible chunks on any device capable of streaming video. Cable companies will need to be able to provide bandwidth on demand. I also hope that we consumers will push for flat-fee services, not usage based.

Flexible display may be a way off for the main consumer but might be one of the hot products at CES this year. Remember, you heard it hear first.

 

What trends are you going to watch?

Ramblings on Print on Demand Books December 5, 2011

Posted by Edwin Ritter in Trends.
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Being a published author has never been easier. I found a recent column in Wired that describes self-publishing and print on demand books. Wikipedia defines self-publishing when the author of a work publishes it without use of a third party publisher. Popular self-publishing sites include Lulu , Self-Publishing  and Instant Publisher.

In the near future, when we are all published authors, the phrase will morph from ‘Read any good books lately?‘ to ‘Published any good books lately?‘  Print on demand publishing will fill a niche in the long tail. These books will expand the range of topics published and the quality of writing will vary greatly. It was the best of times, it was a dark and stormy night all in the same volume.

Being able to print books on demand will drive publishing in new directions. Will there be a future best-seller that collects commentary via SMS text messages? A limited print quantity of poems solely containing acronyms? A collection of Tweets with a certain hashtag that captures a unique moment in time? Or, a self-published commentary to supplement online videos about dropping mentos into liters of coke? Self-published authors will routinely promote these as part of the future common multi-media experience.

Around the time the term ‘paper-less office’ was introduced during the rise of PC in the office, the movie Ghostbusters came out and one of the characters states that ‘print is dead‘. Both are wrong. In the case with print on demand or self-publishing, the truth is stranger than fiction.

When you publish your book, let me know and I will do the same.

Ruminations on Infographics, Part 2 December 2, 2011

Posted by Edwin Ritter in E-Commerce.
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In answer to my previous post on Infographics, here are a few I found related to this years’ holiday shopping. I hope you find them as informative as I did and provide insight for your online strategy.

Cyber Monday

As you know, Black Friday formally kicks off the holiday shopping season.  2011 Holiday shopping onlineCyber Monday  is the now online equivalent  and occurs the weekend after Black Friday.  Buying online has matured to the point where savvy buyers expect, and eagerly await, massive bargains online. To stay competitive, most online retailers gear up to provide web only deals at greatly reduced prices.

As the retailers continue to drive more online sales, Cyber Monday definitely has an effect on worker productivity. This graphic indicates that almost half of the online shopping on Cyber Monday occurs during work hours. If you do shop while in the office, a word of advice – don’t shop during a meeting!

Online sales have set records each year and 2010 sales topped $1B. The average transaction is also at an allt-time high ($195).

As with other online habits, shopping from mobile smart phones will continue. I like the use of the term ‘Mobile-Monday’. Real time comparison shopping is growing and will become the norm in the near future.

2011 Holiday Shopping Predictions

Predictions include that 60% of shoppers will shop online. That’s big money and as mentioned in the previous infographic, 2011 sales were above $1B.

Expect competition to continue among retailers for online market share. Timing may advance from Cyber Monday to occur earlier and earlier in the month. It may ramp up slowly with focused online specials and then culminate in Cyber Monday when all the deals are available.

This infographic indicates only 29% of  shoppers do so while at work – quite a difference from the previously noted 50%.  Last minute gifts ideas include gift cards and cards with $$$ in them.

As this is a prediction, the accuracy will vary. Expect another record set for online sales. When you shop online, remember your transactions are included as part of the data. As that data is collected and analyzed, it will confirm existing fundamentals and also indicate new behavior.The post-mortem on this holiday season will be interesting to see which predictions are true, which did not pan out and should include some surprises. And surprises are part of the holiday spirit.

I have shared these infographics (and, more) as SlideShares on my Linked In account. Along with 2011 Holiday Shopping, you can find topics that include CRM and Email campaigns, marketing automation tools, job search and social media.

I invite you to view them and post your comments. ‘Til then, Happy Shopping!