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Business & Finance

Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 24 jul 2024

Online privacy, online advertising, user data analytics and online regulatory policies are issues that continue to be debated regarding internet and online users. Big technology companies, consumer organizations, government regulators and various industry lobbies continue to push their conflicting agendas to influence the internet and its future. Convergence of interests that keep the internet free from manipulation by any particular group or groups is a challenging task. The paramount concern of all parties should ba a focus on keeping the internet safe, free, open and friendly, while at the same time bringing economic benefits to all. The socio-economic balance on the internet with consideration of the needs of all concerned groups should remain paramount while deciding the future. Recent backing out by Google from deprecating cookies from Chrome again brought the influence of big tech, user data privacy and online advertising issues on the forefront. Patrick Roman Gut, senior vice president and head of new business at Adstra, explains these issues and suggests options for the post-cookie internet. He says, '...there will eventually come a day when the Chrome browser no longer supports third-party cookies. Other major browsers like Safari and Firefox already default to cookies off, so no matter when Google finally makes the change, it's clear that the world has entered a post-cookie era. Another way to think about this is as a multi-identifier era, where brands must use multiple tools and tactics to find and understand their customers across online environments.' As advertising landscape continues to be more omnichannel and entrenched in multi-ID world, brands must be prepared to effectively handle the paradigm shift. Mr. Gut says - Advertising still largely relies on cookies, but the open market is a multi-ID space; Effective targeting requires a combination of methodologies (deterministic, probabilistic or contextual); Crosswalk solutions provide effective data management in a multi-ID landscape (Crosswalk solution involves mapping anonymous digital identifiers to personally identifiable information to unify online and offline data for a comprehensive view of customer behaviors); AI enables additional insights and predictions for extended reach and future success. Read on...

DIGIDAY: How advertisers are moving from cookies to a multi-ID landscape
Author: Patrick Roman Gut


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 21 jun 2024

Prof. Fadel M. Megahed of Farmer School Information Systems and Analytics (ISA) at Miami University (USA), is the lead author of two papers on artificial intelligence (AI), 'Introducing ChatSQC: Enhancing Statistical Quality Control with Augmented AI' (aug 2023, arxiv.org) (Authors: Fadel M. Megahed of Miami University; Ying-Ju Chen of University of Dayton; Inez Zwetsloot of University of Amsterdam; Sven Knoth of Helmut Schmidt University; Douglas C. Montgomery of Arizona State University; L. Allison Jones-Farmer of Miami University) and 'How generative AI models such as ChatGPT can be (mis)used in SPC practice, education, and research? An exploratory study' (jun 2023, tandfonline.com) (Authors: Fadel M. Megahed of Miami University; Ying-Ju Chen of University of Dayton; Joshua A. Ferris of Miami University; Sven Knoth of Helmut Schmidt University; L. Allison Jones-Farmer of Miami University). He has brought AI into his classroom teaching for business analytics students. He says, 'There was a lot of research that talked about how AI could be used in education, that AI can play many roles in the classroom...As an ISA student, learning to use AI is an emerging skill that would benefit your career. That being said, you should be aware of the limits of such tools: (a) the use of AI tools may not be useful in all applications, so use them with caution; (b) prompt engineering matters, so you will need to craft a good prompt to get higher quality answers; (c) the answers you get may be wrong, e.g., ChatGPT is often confident but wrong; and (d) if you use such a tool in an assignment/exam, you will need to provide your prompt and the AI's answer (which may require tweaking to work correctly).' Regarding the ChatISA tool, Prof. Megahed says, 'I wanted to provide a free tool for students to be more inclusive, a tool where the students' prompts and responses are not used for model training. And I wanted to incorporate state-of-the-art recommendations about context setting and prompt engineering to enhance the outputs our students would get from the same request...Students in my class have mentioned that depending on the instructor, when they have the option to use these AI tools, they use it also for other classes.' Read on...

Miami University FSB News: FSB professor creates AI chatbot to assist business analytics students
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 21 may 2024

As social media continues to grow, businesses need effective strategies to target users. According to 'The 2023 Sprout Social Index', 53% of consumers say their social media usage has been higher over the last two years than the previous two years. Business-to-business marketing on social media requires specific tactics and strategies as the sales and decision-making cycles of B2B products and services are long and have different client dynamics, engagement and relationships. Following are 5 B2B social strategy fundamentals - (1) Align goals to the business and have clarity of purpose: Create brand awareness; Build a loyal community through targeted educational content; Build credibility and trust by consistent valuable engagement; Integrate social media strategy with overall business plan. (2) Adopt a customer-centric B2B social strategy: Understand the businesses and individuals you intend to engage with; Customize commnication to the target audience; Use social data and respond effectively. The 2023 Index revealed that 51% of consumers think the most memorable action a brand takes on social media is simply responding. (3) Prioritize authenticity: Engage with authentic and human-centric content; Focus on two-way conversations; Initiate regular audience polls and surveys for feedback; Utilize listening tools to understand conversations on industry topics and engage with thought leadership; Showcase real experiences with customers. (4) Leverage employee advocacy: Today's customers rely on their peers to tell them who they should buy from, with 84% of people trusting friends and family recommendations; Employees are the best B2B influencers of the brand; Benefits of well-organized employee advocacy program includes expanded social reach, approved content mitigates risk to brand perception, improvement in employee engagemnt and drives more leads. (5) Use analytics to inform your B2B social media marketing: Sprout's 2023 State of Social Media report shows that 7 in 10 leaders agree that social is currently underutilized within their organization. And 97% of business leaders believe that the use of social data to understand market trends will increase over the next years; use analytics to optimize and advance B2B content marketing strategy; Use social data for market understanding and research; Using social media intelligence helps understand audiences that leads to customize strategies for specific channels at specific platforms and at specific stage. Read on...

Sprout Social: How to build a customer-centric B2B social media strategy
Author: Kiran Shahid


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 apr 2024

In the technology-enhanced world, information and news consumption has become more fluid and dynamic. The audience and consumers are no more captive. Opinions and views are established and shared at lightening speed on multiple devices and platforms. Reaching out to the world has barriers removed. Everyone has the power to speak out and get heard. The generation that grew up in this environment knows how to handle the fast paced world of information and communication. Public relations as an industry has been hugely impacted. Deepa Nagraj, Global Head of Communications & Sparkle Innovation Ecosystem at Mphasis, explains how the PR industry has changed in the digital era and how it can adapt to stay effective. According to Statista research analysis, 'Reading news on social is fast becoming the norm for younger generations, and this form of news consumption will likely increase further regardless of whether consumers fully trust their chosen network or not.' Ms. Nagraj provides the following changes that are happening around the PR industry - Workers Are Dispersed And Remote; News Is Digested In New Ways; Attention Spans Are Minimal; Anybody Can Be A Spokesperson; Everyone Is Watching; Noise Is A Constant. She has following suggestions for the PR professionals - Listen to what is happening around on various platforms and channels; Cut through the chase and formulate an appropriate, meaningful and engaging response; Be clear and direct in your communication and share it quickly; Communication should be directed towards a human being and should include all the elements so that it can reach the heart and mind of the consumer and should be open-ended and interactive. Read on...

Forbes: Future Proofing Public Relations In The Age Of Digital Media
Author: Deepa Nagraj


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 apr 2024

Interior design and fashion trends are seeing a convergence. Experts say that these trends are more closely linked to each other then anticipated and there is a trend cycle that works between fashion and interior. Interior designer Marie Flanigan says, 'Fashion often informs interiors by inspiring the choice of silhouettes, color palettes, and materials. Sometimes fashion trends take a few seasons to trickle down to interiors, but always forecast the direction of interior design.' Brady Tolbert, interior designer and Creative Director at Bobby Berk, says, 'Fashion has always been where color trends start, and then they trickle down into multiple other industries.' Designers Kailee Blalock and Taylor Troia of House of Hive explain the similarities of the two industries, 'In our view, the trend cycle bridges interior design and fashion because these two mediums aren't all that different. They both revolve around evoking emotions and creating a particular ambiance. Nowadays, if someone identifies with a particular fashion style, it can easily translate into their interior design preferences.' Social media is also playing an important role in bringing this intermingling of trends especially through personality-led and influencer-led styles. David Samuel Ko, founder of Maison Co, says, 'Fashion is a form of self-expression, and so is interior design. Just as you would tell a story with a new outfit, you can do the same with your home and now more than ever, designers and companies are starting to realize that as they are making pieces that feel very fashion-forward, or creating a space inspired by a runway trend.' Following are 6 interior trends that began in fashion - (1) Quiet Luxury: Interior designer Kathy Kuo says, 'The quiet luxury trend is one of my favorite fashion-to-interiors crossovers as of late because it really speaks to the importance of quality materials and timeless design...Quiet luxury may be billed as a trend, but I think of it as a more enduring lifestyle choice.' Mr. Tolbert says, '...It's all about restraint in color palette and materials, and it focuses on the use of high-quality and luxe materials in dramatic ways rather than having a lot going on in the room.' (2) Layering Patterns and Textiles: Christine Carney, Director of Design at Blackberry Farm Design, says, '...Layering patterns and textures such as florals and stripes with chunky wovens is another example that gives bohemian, effortless vibes.' Ms. Flanigan also observes layering in interior design as a key interior trend for 2024, adding that it can be an effective way to add depth to a room. (3) The Coquette Aesthetic: This style is all about ultra-feminine pieces with a retro feel. Mr. Ko says, 'One trend that was insanely popular during the holidays was this "coquette" and the bow trend.' (4) Eclectic Grandpa: This trend links to to vintage home decor, rich colors, and a general welcoming of an eclectic style and goes hand in hand with the popularity of shopping vintage furniture trends, creating homes that feel full of character. (5) Coastal Grandmother: This interior design style embraces a coastal color palette to create spaces that feel light and airy. (6) Unexpected Red Theory: This trend is based on the idea that adding red in small amounts to any spaces without our homes (or outfits) enhances their visual appeal. Interior designer Natalia Miyar says, 'Red lends itself beautifully to smaller spaces. It creates such an intense and dramatic feel that elevates a small room that can often feel forgotten...' Read on...

Homes & Gardens: 6 interior design trends are also key fashion trends for 2024 - here's what designers say on the shared trend cycle
Author: Emily Moorman


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 mar 2024

According to GlobalData 2023 Q4 Consumer Survey, firms are held accountable by public on their stand on social issues such as human and animal welfare, fair trade, health etc and those that fail to consider and act on it risk losing sales. Survey finds that 31% of Middle East & African consumers and 29% of Asian consumers admitted that they find it essential for products to be ethical or support social causes. Global conflicts and geopolitical issues also influence consumer perception and impact businesses. Meenakshi Haran, lead consumer analyst at GlobalData, says, 'Consumers are increasingly making decisions based on responsibility towards ethical and social issues, driving the need for companies and brands to continually set measures to create and develop genuinely responsible products and services.' Isha Varma, Middle East business development manager at GlobalData, says, 'The Middle East, given its high spending ability, and Asia, with its 'surging' population represent huge growth opportunities for brands - however those that operate in these markets need to send a clear and transparent message about their commitment to ethical and social responsibility to mitigate any loss of reputation and revenues.' Read on...

ESM - European Supermarket Magazine: Brands Ignoring Ethical Consumerism Face Sales Risk, Says GlobalData
Author: Steve Wynne-Jones


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 feb 2024

Clear and specific sales goals and objectives are important for success of retail businesss and assists to measure sales performance, sales team member accountability, visualize targets and motivate the team. Sales goals include - Annual goals (Specify overall sales revenue target for a year); Quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily goals (More achievable short-term goals to accomplish and stay motivated); Individual goals (Provide sense of ownership and accountability to individual team members); Team goals (Boosts employee engagement and assesses team capabilities. Encourages teamwork and competitive spirit); Activity goals (Actions team members should take to achieve targets such as virtual customer interaction initiation, post-purchase email campaigns, customer engagement on social media etc); Stretch goals (Goals that go beyond initial goals and taking more challenges. Need incentives and rewards to motivate team); Waterfall goals (Allows to build upon goals over time incrementally and gradually. Ensures quality and avoids team burnout); Sequence goals (Prioritize goals according to value). Before setting sales goals it is important to have historial sales data, systems needed to achieve goals, consumer and market trends, sales promotions and events throughout the year etc. Then following strategies can be applied - Set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound) sales goals; Analyze sales cycle; Identify a coolective goal; Use data to set goals; Calculae break-even point; Avoid confusing sales goals and objectives with metrics. Following are 11 real-life sales goals objectives - Increase your monthly, quarterly, or annual sales revenue; Increase average order value (AOV); Increase customer lifetime value (CLTV); Decrease customer churn; Reduce customer acquisition costs (CAC); Reduce sales cycle time; Boost conversion rate; Increase lead generation; Improve gross profit margins; Increase sales per channel (and test new channels); Reduce abandoned cart rate. Once the goals are set, teams should work hard to achieve them - Communicate with sales associates; Offer mentorship and suppor; Provide the highest of level of customer service possible; Ensure your staff are knowledgeable about the products you sell; Use gamification and rewards to motivate sales staff ; Leverage consumer psychology and behavior; Regularly track and analyze sales goals; Put your SMART sales goals into action. Read on...

Shopify: 11 Retail Sales Goals Examples & How to Achieve Them (2024)
Author: Alexis Damen


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 14 jan 2024

According to Wikipedia, 'Generative artificial intelligence (generative AI, GAI, or GenAI) is artificial intelligence capable of generating text, images, or other media, using generative models. Generative AI models learn the patterns and structure of their input training data and then generate new data that has similar characteristics.' Positive aspects of generative AI systems include accelerative creativity, egalitarian tech for general public etc, while negative aspects include political propaganda through biased data, human resource displacement challenges etc. Commenting on transformative power of generative AI, Rich Palmer of Launchpad Venture Group, says, 'It's the new electricity.' Jonathan Griffiths, director of Babson College's Weissman Foundry, says, 'Much like a cell phone, AI is going to change how we interact with our computers and with each other in meaningful ways - and, if you don't have an understanding of what generative AI can do and what its limitations are, you're going to be left in the dust.' Joshua Herzig-Marx, a coach for early stage founders, says, 'At this point, if you have a startup and you don’t have a generative AI strategy, your board will be really unhappy with you, because that’s what everybody expects—in the same way that, if you didn't have a social strategy 15 years ago, it was a bad thing.' Prof. Ruth Gilleran and Prof. Clare Gillan of Babson College have designed a compulsory course for all undergraduates, 'Digital Technologies for Entrepreneurs'. Prof. Gillan says, 'We live in a time of tremendous disruption, and the pace of change has only accelerated. I want (students) to land on the right side of that continuous change.' Experts from Babson College provide insights and guidance on generative AI to entrepreneurs - (1) It will enable non-engineers to innovate in new ways: Prof. Gillaran says, 'It further democratizes the entrepreneurial process.' Prof. Thomas Davenport says, 'From an entrepreneurship standpoint, it lowers the barriers for tech expertise to design new products. It's a good thing for entrepreneurs.' (2) It should only be used in certain instances: Mr. Herzig-Marx says, 'Judgment is the big challenge (with generative AI), which is always one of the hardest things for any businessperson. There's no reason to think that whatever pops out of ChatGPT or a text-to-image service is going to be something you would actually want to use.' (3) Knowledge and content management will be transformed: Prof. Davenport says, 'Generative AI will rejuvenate the job of a knowledge manager...I think there are a lot of advantages to doing it for educating your frontline people and customer service applications.' (4) It will generate instant feedback, allowing entrepreneurs to assess viability quickly: Mr. Griffiths says, 'I could see (entrepreneurs) working with generative AI to solve the problems that they may not necessarily have the skills to solve right now.' Prof. Erik Noyes, who teaches Entrepreneurial Opportunities in AI, says, 'Generative AI enables the rapid prototyping of entrepreneurial ideas: literally a visualization and expression of an entrepreneurial idea that you can show to a target customer. You can get feedback on whether you're on a compelling path and creating value, or whether your idea is a dud.' (5) Beware of bias: Prof. Davit Khachatryan, who specializes in machine learning and data science, says, 'Generative AI is merely a means to an end, not an end in itself...Taking the results of generative AI at face value is like the blind following the blind. Today's entrepreneur, or any user of generative AI, needs to have an above-average understanding of how these tools work—and I think that’s where we analytics and data-science educators have a crucial role to play.' Prof. Noyes says, 'If the existing data is biased, there’s a strong likelihood that what’s generated can also be biased. You have to look at anything you’re doing in generative AI through the critical lens of 'How could this just be re-expressing bias?'' (6) Regulatory concerns could constrain creativity: Sam Altman, CEO of ChatGPT creator OpenAI, has urged international regulation of generative AI. Mr. Palmer says, 'When the front-runner (OpenAI) pushes for regulation, it opens up a question of whether anyone else can swim in the wake or not, and if anybody else can catch up again.' (7) Humans still matter: Prof. Khachatryan says, 'Overly relying on the seeming 'magic' that is provided by generative AI is not going to work. To have your leg up, you still need to put your creative hat on and keep it on at all times...it currently has no mechanism in place to evaluate the quality, meaningfulness, or effectiveness of these responses. I don’t think that one should get overexcited about how human-like the responses are because human-like, at the end of the day, doesn’t translate necessarily into meaningful.' Read on...

Babson Magazine: The Age of AI: Seven Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know
Author: Kara Baskin


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 11 jan 2024

According to the research 'Reidentification Risk in Panel Data: Protecting for k-Anonymity' (Authors: Sachin Gupta of Cornell University; Shaobo Li of University of Kansas; Matthew J. Schneider of Drexel University; Yan Yu of University of Cincinnati), published on 07 oct 2022 in Information Systems Research, nearly all market research panel participants are at risk of becoming de-anonymized. The commitment of a market research company towards privacy of panelists cannot be totally practiced as there are ways around it. Prof. Sachin Gupta says, 'When organizations release or share data, they are complying with privacy regulations, which means that they’re suppressing or anonymizing personally identifiable information. And they think that they have now protected the privacy of the individuals that they’re sharing the data about. But that, in fact, may not be true, because data can always be linked with other data.' Earlier research (2006) 'How To Break Anonymity of the Netflix Prize Dataset' (Authors: Arvind Narayanan of Princeton University; Vitaly Shmatikov of Cornell University) showcases the similar risk. Researchers developed a de-anonymization algorithm, Scoreboard-RH, that was able to identify up to 99% of Netflix subscribers by using anonymized information from a 2006 competition, aimed at improving its recommendation service, coupled with publicly available info on Internet Movie Database. Both of these researchs rely on 'quasi-identifiers' or QIDs, which are attributes that are common in both an anonymized dataset and a publicly available dataset, which can be used to link them. The conventional measure of disclosure risk, termed unicity, is the proportion of individuals with unique QIDs in a given dataset; k-anonymity is a popular data privacy model aimed to protect against disclosure risk by reducing the degree of uniqueness of QIDs. Prof. Gupta suggests that even though privacy laws are getting tougher but market researchers will continue to collect and store data, and the challenge of privacy remains. He says, 'The nature of the problem will probably reduce and change, but I don't think it's going away. Read on...

Cornell Chronicle: Protecting identities of panelists in market research
Author: Tom Fleischman


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 31 dec 2023

Entrepreneurship is an important component of thriving economy and entrepreneurial spirit is needed for growth and success of individuals, companies, organizations and nations. It assists to overcome challenges and helps to stay competitive in a tough environment. Entrepreneurial spirit brings in ability to seek innovation, bring positive change, develop new ideas, enhance creativity, enable intelligent and efficient problem solving, overcome status quo, and achieve success to not only individuals but also brings transformation to the organizations they work for and communities they live in. Entrepreneurial spirit is essential for all - entrepreneurs, professionals, workers, students and anyone who is willing to work hard and achieve their goals. Entrepreneurial spirit enables individuals to seek out new ideas and solutions, get things done proactively, makes them fearless in their approach, helps them continuously strive for growth and make things better. Those with entrepreneurial spirit are curious, ask questions and have conviction to proceed towards their goals. They look to achieve the extraordinary. Entrepreneurial spirit provides ability to find opportunities scattered all around, being positive and ignore obstacles and negativity. What one chooses to do is the key as doing makes all the difference and entrepreneurship is all about planning, partnering and persisting until what one seeks out is achieved. Individual entrepreneur often acts as a pioneer in initially sparking the entrepreneurial spirit. Entrepreneurial spirit links entrepreneurs, businesses, innovation, network, regional development. Read on...

ilmeps/read: The Entrepreneurial Spirit - A Brief Introduction
Author: Mohammad Anas Wahaj


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 dec 2023

Social entrepreneurs leverage technology and innovation to solve societal issues and are often for-profit ventures. Bill Drayton founded Ashoka in 1980 and is considered as the 'father of social entrepreneurship'. Social entrepreneurship ecosystem is growing through socially responsible investing, conscious sonsumerism, corporate social responsibility (CSR), environment concerns, responsible governance etc. Following is the list of 10 most successful social entrepreneurs - (1) Bill Drayton, founder and CEO of Ashoka, is a pioneer of social entrepreneurship and also serves as chair of the board for Get America Working! and Youth Venture. (2) Rachel Brathen, yoga teacher, author of 'Yoga Girl' and founder of yoga studio called Island Yoga Aruba in Caribbean and oneOeight.tv, provides health, yoga and meditation services and is one of the top social media influencers in fitness. (3) Shiza Shahid, co-founder and promoter of Malala Fund, manages operations and efforts of Mala Yousafzai that focus on gender equality, women empowerment and girl education. (4) Blake Mycoskie is the founder of TOMS Shoes that donates one pair of shoes for every one sold by their organization and raises awareness on issues like global poverty and health. TOMS has donated 100 million pairs of shoes as of 2020. (5) Scott Harrison founded Charity: Water in 2006 that works on providing clean water to people in developing nations and funds projects like building wells and sanitation facilities. He is the author of the book 'Thirst: A Story of Redemption, Compassion, and a Mission to Bring Clean Water to the World.' (6) Muhammad Yunus founded Grameen Bank in 1983 and popularized the concepts of microfinance and microcredit. He was awarded Nobel Prize in 2006. Grameen Bank provides funding to villagers to bring them out of poverty and as of May 2022, 90% of its about nine million borrowers are women. (7) Jeffrey Hollender is a consultant, speaker, activist for CSR and author of several books including 'How to Make the World a Better Place'. He is co-founder and CEO of Hollender Sustainable Brands and former CEO and co-founder of Seventh Generation, a popular business for natural products. (8) Xavier Helgesen, Christopher 'Kreece' Fuchs, and Jeff Kurtzman are co-founders of Better World Books , an online bookstore that funds global literacy. (9) Marc Koska introduced a non-reusable, inexpensive syringe that can be used in underfunded clinics. He founded SafePoint Trust in 2006, which delivered four billion safe injections in 40 countries via his auto-disable syringes. (10) Sanjit 'Bunker' Roy founded Barefoot College in 1972, that is a solar-powered college for the poor. Read on...

Investopedia: The 10 Most Successful Social Entrepreneurs
Authors: Shoshanna Delventhal, David Kindness, Jiwon Ma


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 dec 2023

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platforms are integrating artificial intelligence (AI) to understand customer sentiment and behavior, make product recommendations, enrich data, train employees and also auto-generating targeted campaigns. According to the September 2023 Gartner survey of 1400 executive leaders, there's been a threefold increase in organizations piloting generative AI in the past year and about 47% of organizations are using AI to help them with sales, marketing and customer service, with marketing operations at the top. Frances Karamouzis of Gartner says, 'Organizations are not just talking about generative AI, they’re investing time, money and resources to move it forward and drive business outcomes.' Marketing leaders should focus on the following areas to fully exploit the potential of AI - (1) To understand customer sentiment and behavior by analyzing customer interactions and communications regarding products and services. (2) To train marketing professionals as AI systems can closely monitor employee performance and recommend best practices in real time. (3) AI can enhance and elevate product and services recommentations to customer by closely analyzing their interactions with sales and service personnels and their purchasing behavior. (4) AI tools are capable to enrich and update prospect databases with accurate information in real-time improving efficiency in sales and marketing efforts. (5) AI can auto-develop more targeted campaigns with more personalization. In future, generative AI will evolve into artificial general intelligence (AGI) that would provide a fully-functional assistant that would think like a human. To be fully aware of what AI can currently accomplish and enhance CRM systems, marketers should ensure database accuracy and completeness, formulate an AI policy, and stay close to software vendors to fully understand current and future AI technologies and their value to business. Read on...

MARTECH: 5 ways CRMs are leveraging AI to automate marketing today
Author: Gene Marks


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 21 nov 2023

In the post-pandemic world, workers in many industries often felt the desire and need to get out of their homes and work from office. But according to the Figma's latest 'State of the Designer' report, 95% of designers are fully or partially working from home and 69% of digital product designers have greater job satisfaction now than they did pre-pandemic. Figma surveyed 470 designers in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region over a three-year period for the report. The report points out, 'Despite many businesses laying off designers in 2022, particularly in high-growth sectors like tech, designers in 2023 are still positive about the job market...Product designers are no longer confined to the sidelines. Instead, they have stepped into pivotal roles within businesses.' Even though there are concerns regarding remote work might lead to isolation effect, but according to the report, 82% of individual design contributors are the most positive about their current roles. Moreover, only 38% felt more distant from their co-workers. The report also finds out thet 53% are using group meetings to design together more often. Read on...

It's Nice That: Remote working seems to be making product designers more job-satisfied, says Figma report
Author: Liz Gorny


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 11 nov 2023

There is a continuous debate regarding AI (Artifical Intelligence) and its impact on jobs that humans perform. Neil Patel, author and co-founder of Neil Patel Digital, provides insights on how AI will influence marketing human resources and what marketers should do to make themselves irreplaceable. According to a survey of 1000 digital marketers conducted by NeilPatel.com in the US, 56.7% of 229 freelancers think that AI will replace human marketers in the near future while 56.1% of 394 in-house digital marketers and 54.1% of 377 running a digital marketing agency think the same. This significantly shows that AI is perceived as a threat to marketing jobs. Other findings from the survey show - 44% feel that AI will have a positive impact on their career; 30% feel there will be a negative impact; almost 30% predict no impact on their career; 20% felt AI's biggest advantage is that it saves money on staffing and tool costs. Overall survey shows that digital marketers have mixed feelings of concern and optimism regarding AI. Mr. Patel suggests to make AI as an assistant and not consider it as a threat, and to do that marketers have to learn AI tools and master them for workflow efficiency. He recommends the use of AI to become a better marketer - analyze vast data quickly and accurately and provide valuable insights into consumer behavior and market trends; develop more effective marketing strategies and campaigns tailored to the needs and interests of specific audiences; create content that resonates with consumers; speed up content creation; workflow automation. AI has the potenetial to replace repetitive tasks, enhance and speed up decision making and routine customer service. But what will make human marketers irreplaceable is their ability to make judgement, be creative and power of empathy. Mr. Patel says, 'Skilled marketers have the ability to create compelling, human-centric content, analyze data to identify trends and insights, and develop effective strategies for promoting brands and products across various digital channels...AI can't develop customized solutions that meet their unique needs. AI may have the insights, but human expertise can materialize actionable steps to achieve them.' Read on...

NeilPatel.com: Will AI Replace Marketing Jobs?
Author: Neil Patel


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 oct 2023

Robert Rose, content marketing expert and author of the recent book 'Content Marketing Strategy: Harness the Power of Your Brand's Voice', explains an innovative model of content marketing strategy in the same line as the traditional 4P's model of the marketing mix. This model includes three core pillars of content marketing strategy - Communication, Experiences and Operations. These core pillars are interconnected and overlap, and provide five specific activities for the marketing practitioners to perform. Here are the core pillars and the associated activities - (1) Coordinated Communication: As content is communication, businesses require coordinated efforts to utliize content to acquire, keep, and grow customers and other audiences. The content and the comunication need to be consistent and relevant to diverse set of people. The first core category of activities in the communication pillar is Purpose. This is content-as-a-capability. The Purpose activity intends to develop and manage a clear set of core responsibilities and processes that build and continually assess the allocation of resources, skill sets, and clear charters that a content marketing team will need in order to become a differentiated business capability. The second activity category in the Communication Pillar: The Model, or content-as-coordinated-communications. Successful content marketing strategy would require a well-defined and well-understood governance/operating model. (2) A Portfolio Of Experiences: Experiences are the designed containers of content being created for audiences. Businesses need a strategic approach to how the content it creates will be utilized to power designed platforms such as emails, websites, resource centers, print magazines, PDF files, events, blogs, or even social media channels. Similar to the media company, businesses should think 'content first' and then how to create all the different kinds of containers to deliver that content. These should be managed as portfolio of experiences that exploit valuable content for audiences. Each container should have strategic purpose, goals, and objectives. The two activity categories within this pillar are Audience and Value. Audience is content-as-product. Value is content-as-insight. Meeting all of the designed objectives of a portfolio of experiences delivers the value of the content marketing strategy. (3) Strategic Operations: This pillar is the glue that holds Coordinated Communications and Experiences together. To achieve consistency in replicating success and become a core business strategy, content marketing must have a clearly articulated and replicable process that can flex and accommodate new ideas as they emerge. The activity in this pillar is the Frame, or content-as-standard. Getting content marketing operations right frees creative people to do creative things that enable the business strategy, and empowers the marketing teams to achieve this at scale. A repeatable set of processes must be put in place that are governed by standards, guidelines, playbooks, and technology. The third pillar includes the people, processes, and technology that help create a repeatable, consistent process to connect the coordinated content creators (Pillar 1) with the experiences powered by the content they are creating (Pillar 2). Read on...

Search Engine Land: The Three Pillars Of Content Marketing Strategy
Author: Robert Rose


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 sep 2023

Artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming the digital advertising space. Those involved in ad-ops are still trying to optimize AI applications and their use for maximum leverage. Eric Mayhew, co-founder, president, and chief product officer at Fluency, a leading innovator of digital advertising management and automation solutions, suggests that for maximum benefits AI should be combined with automation and need to be harmonized with human supervision. He says, 'Today's advertisers face a variety of challenges to growth. Escalating execution complexity, increasing margin erosion and mounting time constraints at all levels consistently rank among the top concerns for ad-ops leaders. Conventional operational approaches, manual campaign implementation and increased talent investment often only compound the problem...automation creates a vast improvement in the productivity and overall engagement of existing ad-ops and strategist teams.' Substantial part of digital advertising is repetitive and delegating tasks to automation gives more time for strategic aspects of marketing and advertising and have the potential to significantly enhance service levels, thus elevating the customer experience and overall satisfaction. On combining AI with automation, Mr. Mayhew says, 'When managed appropriately, AI is in many ways a perfect complement to automation. While automation drives execution efficiency by addressing the processes, settings and nonhuman-to-human interactions, AI can streamline and accelerate more cognitive work, transforming potentially cold messages into compelling interactions.' He also cautions ad-ops leaders regarding compliance and data-usage rights while executing Ai and automation processes. He mentions about emergence of rule systems for self-auditing of AI usage and alleviation of concerns about compliance through RPA4A (Robotic Process Automation for Advertising). Mr. Mayhew suggests, 'To succeed with automation, ad-ops teams must consider brand compliance, the need for advanced experimentation and customization, consistent business data hygiene, organizational inertia and a willingness to embrace new technologies and approaches. The journey toward unlocking the potential of AI in digital advertising requires seamlessly blending AI and automation under the guidance of human insight. Recognizing the nuanced interplay between these technologies, and addressing potential challenges, pave the way for an era of streamlined operations, heightened creativity and unmatched scalability.' Read on...

AdAge: HOW TO UNITE AI AND AUTOMATION TO UNLOCK ADVERTISING SUCCESS AT SCALE
Author: Eric Mayhew


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 09 sep 2023

Social enterprises aim to overcome socio-economic issues, but face myriad challenges themselves due to lack of resources and limited funding. In recent times many social enterprises got started around the world but as the sustainability issues remain their failure rate is also high. The recent research, 'Social Enterprise Performance in South Africa: The Role of Strategic Planning and Networking Capability' (Authors: Willie Tafadzwa Chinyamurindi of University of Fort Hare, Motshedisi Mathibe of University of Fort Hare, Progress Hove-Sibanda of Nelson Mandela University), published in Taylor & Francis Online on 15 May 2023, finds that for social enterprises to enhance their performance, network capability and strategic planning are key. Addressing these challenges can help their owners and managers respond to the challenges such enterprises face. At the core of this is addressing the challenge of funding and sustainability. This research provides new insights into the management for performance of social enterprises, especially in a developing country context. The research included 147 social enterprises in Eastern Cape province of South Africa, one of the poorest regions. Social enterprises were divided into three groups - (1) Focus on poverty alleviation through empowerment projects. (2) Focus on improving livelihoods of communities through agricultural support mechanisms. (3) Focus on assisting communities to respond to health challenges such as HIV/AIDS, the COVID-19 pandemic and tuberculosis. The survey questions focused on asking about how each social enterprise made strategic decisions; the relationship between the social enterprise and its networks; and the enterprise’s continued value creation amid challenges. A model was developed to see how these three issues related to performance. The results showed that three important capabilities were needed to enhance social enterprise performance - (1) The need for strategic planning that involves clearly defining the direction in short and long term, what are goals and tactics, and how to achieve them. (2) The need was for strong networks. Building networks involves continued interaction between the social enterprise and its stakeholders. Networking capabilities allow the social enterprise to remain relevant to other important role players in the community. (3) The need for the social enterprise to keep a focus on its main business, the social aspect mandate of value co-creation. Resarchers recommend - Be proactive in improving their internal processes and structures; Channel financial and non-financial resources such as tangible assets and intangible assets to support strategic planning, networking capabilities and value co-creation; Need clear channels for sharing essential information with stakeholders, including communities, towards achieving the social goal of the enterprise. Read on...

The Conversation: Businesses that address social or environmental problems often struggle to survive: 3 things that can help them
Authors: Willie Tafadzwa Chinyamurindi, Motshedisi Mathibe, Progress Hove-Sibanda


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 aug 2023

Public relations (PR) for B2B companies need to evolve to be effective in the changing and shifting business scenario. The usual traditional ways such as set public releases, reporter engagements, minor product upgrade pitches etc don't suffice and PR has to move beyond. Parry Headrick, founder of Crackle PR, is advocating the new ways of handling B2B PR at grander scale through enhancing communication programs by bringing a shift from tactical incremantalism to strategic, sustainable brand building. The following are the ways he suggests to achieve it - (1) Media: Building Credibility Through a Feel-Good Narrative - Focus on how the company and the provided solutions are addressing societal challenges to make a positive impact. This creates an attractive halo effect that make business prospects like to associate themselves with the brand. (2) Podcasts: Increasing Thought Leadership and Visibility for Execs via Emerging Channels - Tradional tradeshows and speaking engagements do provide visibility but expanding the reach through podcast shows brings on new opportunities and increase influence. (3) LinkedIn: An Untapped Channel for PR - Professional networks like Linkedin can effectively expand and enhance business engagement of B2B PR. Sharing valuable content consistently and engaging with audience through comments, likes and other tools will widen the PR reach. Read on...

PRNEWS: The New Rules of B2B Public Relations
Author: Parry Headrick


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 jul 2023

According to the recent research study, 'Influencer marketing and the growth of affiliates: The effects of language features on engagement behavior' (Authors: Parker J. Woodroof of University of Alabama at Birmigham; Holly A. Syrdal of Texas State University; William C. McDowell of Texas State University; Susan Myers of the University of Central Arkansas; Sandipan Sen of Southeast Missouri State University), published in the Journal of Business Research (August 2023), traditionally major brands have embraced affiliate marketing programs, but the factors influencing engagement with influencer-generated content have remained largely unexplored. To bridge this gap, the research team applied the Elaboration Likelihood Model to investigate how the linguistic features of influencers' affiliate marketing posts influence consumer behaviors. Wikipedia defines Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) of persuation, proposed by Richard E. Petty and John Cacioppo in 1980, as a dual process theory describing the change of attitudes. The model aims to explain different ways of processing stimuli, why they are used, and their outcomes on attitude change. ELM intended to provide a general 'framework for organizing, categorizing, and understanding the basic processes underlying the effectiveness of persuasive communications.' Authors of the current study text used text mining and natural language processing techniques and analyzed a vast data set of influencers' affiliate marketing posts from Instagram. The study revealed that specific linguistic styles within these posts can enhance or diminish engagement with the content. Prof. Parker J. Woodroof of University of Alabama at Birmigham, the lead author of the study, says, 'Affiliate influencer marketing is a good example of a social media marketing strategy that is evolving before our eyes in real time...now we see that the industry is maturing and dealing with new concerns around artificial intelligence, bots and fake followers, and brands are still trying to figure out how to utilize influencer marketing in order to drive value...Affiliate influencers offer companies a lower-risk strategy to partner with influencers utilizing a commission-based pay formula rather than an upfront investment, For smaller brands especially, utilizing affiliates may be the winning strategy moving forward.' Micro-influencers could establish trust with their followers and offer authentic brand recommendations, making them an integral part of brand strategies. The study represents a significant contribution to the field as it is the first to examine the impact of language cues on consumer engagement with influencer-generated affiliate marketing content. Moreover, the research helps to understand the dynamics of influencer affiliate marketing and its potential impact on marketing strategies. Read on...

UAB News: New research reveals how influencers' words impact engagement in affiliate marketing on social media
Author: Adam Pope


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 jun 2023

Startups with first-time founders work in tight budgets and may not give required importance to design as they focus to get product to market faster. On the contrary, Nicolas Susco (Designer, Entrepreneur & Investor, and founder of ElipseAgency), suggests that design need to be prioritized from the early stages of the startup and provides following reasons - (1) Design Plays a Significant Role in User Experience: Good design can brings new customers and signals to customers and investors that company cares about its products or brand. (2) Design can Hide Flaws and Buy Time: Even at pre-product stage a good designed initial prototype can have positive impact on clients and investors and keep them engaged with the startups as it keeps on working on the product. (3) Design Helps Communicate Value: Visual communication attracts attention and is more effective. A well designed website and creative video can convey company's values, make them appear refined and unique, and create emotional responses in the viewer. (4) Design is the Foundation of Any Brand: Fine details in design are the key aspect of the brand image. Every step adds to the impact that brand has on customers and investors. Read on...

Fast Company: The powerful synergy of design and entrepreneurship
Author: Nicolas Susco


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 may 2023

Businesses have to find innovative ways to enhance customer engagement and involve them in their marketing initiatives. 13 experts from Rolling Stone Culture Council share ideas to guide marketing leaders to drive successful customer engagement - (1) Amanda Reiman of Personal Plants: Match the approach to the customer. (2) Candice Georgiadis of Digital Agency Inc: Give the best possible customer experience. (3) Joshua Adragna of Eyerate: Promote user-generated content (UGC). (4) Adam Ayers of Number 5: Leverage scarcity as consumers seek uniqueness and want to stand out. (5) Christian Anderson (Trust'N) of Lost Boy Entertainment LLC: Do story shoutouts during giveaways. (6) Adam Rumanek of Aux Mode Inc: Offer giveaways and ask audience questions. (7) Theo Sastre-Garau of NFTevening: Create a sense of urgency and exclusivity around campaigns. (8) Jacob Mathison of Mathison Projects Inc: Leverage community-source content and utilize open innovation and design thinking. (9) Cynthia Johnson of Bell + Ivy: Host a contest. (10) Jennifer Sodini of Hidden Hand Media: Gamify your marketing. (11) Igor Beuker of Igor Beuker: Move beyond social media, own your fans and IP, and have opt-in email database. (12) Susan Johnston of New Media Film Festival: Go back to grassroots marketing. (13) Ben Spell of GOOD RANCHERS: Do tease campaigns before they're live. Read on...

Rolling Stone: 13 Strategies to Drive Customer Participation in Marketing Initiatives
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 24 may 2023

Textile industry has become highly globalized, contributes significantly to the global economy and provides employment to millions. The emergence of 'fast fashion' concept has further increased the production level, nearly doubling in the last 15 year period. The present textile industry system works in a linear way - raw material obtained from non-renewable sources, processed and clothes are produced in mechanised factories in large quantities, consumed for a short period and then disposed of in landfil or incinerated. This linear system is negatively impacting humans and environment - Excess of US$ 500 billion of value is lost every year due to clothing underutilisation and the lack of recycling; Total greenhouse gas emissions from textiles production, at 1.2 billion tonnes annually; When washed, some garments release plastic microfibres, of which around half a million tonnes every year contribute to ocean pollution. The project report, 'A NEW TEXTILES ECONOMY: REDESIGNING FASHION'S FUTURE' [Core Project Team: Andrew Morlet, Rob Opsomer, Dr. Sven Herrmann (Lead Author), Laura Balmond, Camille Gillet, Lukas Fuchs], published in 2017, outlines a vision for a system that works, delivering long-term benefits - a new textiles economy based on the principles of a circular economy. It offers a direction of travel on which the industry can agree and focus its efforts. In a new textiles economy, clothes, textiles, and fibres are kept at their highest value during use and re-enter the economy afterwards, never ending up as waste. Circular economy is a systems solution framework that tackles global challenges like climate change, biodiversity loss, waste, and pollution. It is based on three principles, driven by design: eliminate waste and pollution, circulate products and materials (at their highest value), and regenerate nature. HIGHLIGHTS OF THE REPORT - Globally, the US$ 1.3 trillion clothing industry employs more than 300 million people along the value chain. Clothing - the focus of this report – represents more than 60% of the total textiles used and is expected to remain the largest application; The current clothing system is extremely wasteful and polluting. The recent Pulse of the fashion industry report estimated that the overall benefit to the world economy could be about EUR 160 billion (US$ 192 billion) in 2030 if the fashion industry were to address the environmental and societal fallout of the current status quo; Clothing is massively underutilised. Worldwide, clothing utilisation has decreased by 36% compared to 15 years ago. Globally, customers miss out on US$ 460 billion of value each year by throwing away clothes that they could continue to wear; Less than 1% of material used to produce clothing is recycled into new clothing, representing a loss of more than US$ 100 billion worth of materials each year; Today's linear system uses large amounts of resources and has negative impacts on the environment and people. The textiles industry relies mostly on non-renewable resources - 98 million tonnes in total per year - including oil to produce synthetic fibres, fertilisers to grow cotton, and chemicals to produce, dye, and finish fibres and textiles. Textiles production (including cotton farming) also uses around 93 billion cubic metres of water annually; Should growth continue as expected, total clothing sales would reach 160 million tonnes in 2050 - more than three times today's amount; If the industry continues on its current path, by 2050, it could use more than 26% of the carbon budget associated with a 2°C pathway; The Pulse of the fashion industry report projects that, by 2030, fashion brands would see a decline in earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) margins of more than three percentage points, if they were to continue business as usual. This would translate into a profit reduction of approximately EUR 45 billion (USD 52 billion) for the industry; Ambitions For A New Textiles Economy - (1) Phase out substances of concern and microfibre release (Align industry efforts and coordinate innovation to create safe material cycles; Drastically reduce plastic microfibre release). (2) Transform the way clothes are designed, sold, and used to break free from their increasingly disposable nature (Scale up short-term clothing rental; Make durability more attractive; Increase clothing utilisation further through brand commitments and policy). (3) Radically improve recycling by transforming clothing design, collection, and reprocessing (Align clothing design and recycling processes; Pursue technological innovation to improve the economics and quality of recycling; Stimulate demand for recycled materials; Implement clothing collection at scale); Make effective use of resources and move to renewable inputs. Read on...

Ellen Macarthur Foundation: A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning fashion's future
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 apr 2023

ChatGPT and Generative AI has already started making inroads in media and advertising industry. At present Generative AI has taken over low-risk functions like mockups and copyrighting but doubts still remain regarding strategically important channels like search ad spending etc. According to Morning Consult, just 30% of US adults have heard or read anything about ChatGPT, and only 10% regard its output as 'very trustworthy.' Moreover, 52% of consumers believe that generative AI will stick around. As Generative AI becomes more trustworthy it is capable to disrupt media and advertising, like for example, the need for intermediate agencies would diminish as platforms could use Generative AI technology to create business ads themselves. Moreover, as the technology can summarize reporting and synthesize press releases, the relatshionship between publishers and search engines has the potential to end. Generative AI could also reshape the economics of search advertising with its definitive responses to search queries. Generative AI could provide raw material, eliminate the need for advertiser A/B tests, help new brands increase output, and keep those in the industry abreast of all the notable developments. But a lot is needed for full scale adoption of Generative AI and its reaching a disruptive stage in the media and advertising industry. Read on...

Business Insider: ChatGPT and Generative AI in Media and Advertising: With Use Cases Set, the Battle for Hearts and Minds Begins
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 mar 2023

As the world is becoming more divided and tussle-oriented, the usual development strategies with a top-down approach driven by international trade and investments are losing their effectiveness. Prof. Andrew Sheng of University of Hong Kong and Prof. Xiao Geng of The Chinese University of Hong Kong Shenzhen, explain that in such a scenario a systemic bottom-up approach can yield progress. According to them, 'Poverty, inequality, climate change and environmental degradation are complex systemic challenges. Yet prevailing policy approaches focus on devising separate solutions to specific problems, or even specific facets of problems, with little to no regard for how their solutions - and the underlying problems - interact...Only by recognising the interconnected nature of our social, ecological and economic systems, and addressing problems holistically, can we optimise their functioning and ensure human and planetary well-being.' They quote environmental scientist Donella Meadows's definition of a system as 'an interconnected set of elements that is coherently organised in a way that achieves something.' Prof. Sheng and Prof. Geng further elaborate, 'Multilateral action - implemented by nation-states - tends to be even less efficient...What is needed instead are bottom-up strategies underpinned by community-based and non-profit social enterprises.' According to Peter Drucker, successful non-profits, 'dedicated to "doing good"', but also 'realise that good intentions are no substitute for organisation and leadership, for accountability, performance and results.' Authors suggest harnessing the power of already-existing tools and resources. They explain, 'Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) are far better equipped than their large counterparts to deploy the mission-driven management social enterprises require. MSMEs - 90% of all businesses globally - account for 70-80% of total employment...Yet, MSMEs do not have access to formal capital markets, let alone the holistic policy and institutional framework - including supporting infrastructure and a consistent legal environment - that would enable them to act as effective social enterprises...technology has enabled the creation of a 'global knowledge commons', through which social enterprises can access the knowhow - and, through trusted accreditation, the financing - they need.' Read on...

IPS Journal: A social-enterprise development model
Authors: Andrew Sheng, Xiao Geng


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 14 mar 2023

In the B2B sales management, leadership has to ensure that the team works efficiently and effectively. B2B sales is different from B2C as the deal size is larger and sales cycles are longer. B2B sales teams have engagement dynamics with their stakeholders at multiple levels and need to manage internal and external teams for deal success. Oscar Chavez, founder of Growthly Group, provides four B2B sales management strategies to be implemented to help improve B2B sales team's performance - (1) Set Clear, Measurable Goals: The goals should be specific, time-bound, challenging and achievable. This provides sense of direction and purpose and helps to focus efforts and stay motivated throughout the sales process. (2) Provide Training and Development Opportunities: To enhance team's performance provide formal training programs like workshops and classes, and also informal training opportunities like coaching and mentoring. (3) Use Data to Measure and Track Performance: This includes tools like sales metrics, customer feedback and surveys. Helps identify team's areas of excellence and shortcomings. Metrics include the number of deals closed, the average deal size, the close rate, the number of meetings attended within a month and the follow-up rate. Customer feedback is also essential. (4) Remain Flexible and Foster a Strong Company Culture: Create a positive and supportive work environment and foster a culture of teamwork, collaboration and open communication. Have a system of incentives and bonuses for reaching targets and achieving goals. This helps sales team to stay motivated and improve performance. Regularly monitor, evaluate and adjust these strategies to ensure team's best performance. Read on...

Forbes: 4 Strategies To Improve Your B2B Sales Team's Performance
Author: Oscar Chavez


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 feb 2023

According to the research commissioned by Trades Union Congress (TUC, UK) and conducted by academics (Dr. Minjie Cai, Prof. Sian Moore, Dr. Alex Stroleny, Dr. Safak Tartanoglu-Bennett, Dr. Scott Tindal) at the Centre for Research on Employment and Work (CREW) at the University of Greenwich, the pandemic 'intensified existing trends' in online shopping, which meant a renewed shift from traditional shop-floor jobs towards work in warehouses, away from direct contact with customers. The analysis suggests that even though warehouse roles often provide more regular hours, and that competition for staff has pushed up wage rates, but warehouse work was considered by research participants as particularly gruelling ('the job is not human'), explaining labour shortages and high turnover, with a suggestion that automation and robotisation might be necessary to save the physical cost to human physical and mental health. Kate Bell, deputy general secretary of TUC, says, 'It was easy for consumers to forget that what feels like the miracle of rapid home delivery relies on real human labour, and real human labour which is increasingly tough - monitored, repetitive, gruelling.' Adrian Jones, the national organiser at Unite, says, 'Employers seem to be relying more and more on automated performance management tools in warehouses to set standards - and it doesn't take into consideration the massive issues that workers face on a day in, day out basis.' The researchers suggest surveillance of staff is used differently in workplaces where unions have a seat around the table. The report says, 'Where trade unions are recognised, workplace representatives play a key role in mediating technology and constraining its use in disciplinary measures against workers.' Tom Ironside, the director of business and regulation at the British Retail Consortium, says, 'The need for warehouse staff has been rising in recent years, so retailers have worked hard to provide the necessary financial and non-financial total reward to attract the necessary talent. As with all parts of retail, good working conditions are a key way of attracting and retaining staff, and warehouses are no exception.' Read on...

The Guardian: 'The job is not human': UK retail warehouse staff describe gruelling work
Author: Heather Stewart


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 31 jan 2023

Even though for founders making their sart-up known, to grow the brand and innovation are essential components, but intentionally adopting PR strategies are often overlooked. Jenna Guarneri, founder and CEO of JMG Public Relations, with focus on innovators and startups, suggests ways for founders to get involved in the PR process as they are the most knowledgeable, committed, passionate and enthusiastic about their startups - (1) Understand Who You Are: Better understand the identity of the company and its goals and communicate it effectively to the customers. (2) Understand Your 'What' And 'Why': Understand what the brand represents and infuse core values and build the messaging accordingly. This will help in developing how the audience perceive the brand. (3) Create An Impact: Proactively create a positive image and be cautious while using digital media as a communication tool as any mistake can dilute the hard work done while building the image. (4) Build A Loyal Following: Relationships are a critical component of PR. Nurture and grow relationships with customers, and create a connection and develop trust to gain loyal following. (5) Know Your Competitors: To differentiate your brand, fully understand the competition and create a unique messaging to communicate how good you are at what you do and at addressing the pain points of your customers. This make you stand out from competition. Read on...

Forbes: 5 PR Tips That Every Founder Needs To Know
Author: Jenna Guarneri


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 10 dec 2022

Online is a medium that is advantageous to all - sellers and buyers. Digital marketing not only brings benefits to the businesses that implement the strategies but also to the consumers who shop and buy from them. Traditional marketing practices in the technologically advance world fall short on many counts when dealing with customers that are becoming more and more tech savvy and are looking for ease, comfort and satisfaction during their purchase experience. Digital marketing adds and enhances the marketing practices. It expands marketing's reach to the global level at an affordable cost. Digital marketing provides businesses capabilities to effectively measure marketing investments and efforts. With digital marketing companies can precisely reach their target audience and also dynamically shift strategies in response to the changes in markets. Digital marketing not only provide instant connections with target audience and customers but also assists in having continuous interactions and build long term relaionships. Digital marketing involves a combined set of processes that need to be strategically designed to achieve desired results. Digital marketing strategy includes - Online Advertising; Search Engine Optimization (SEO); Search Engine Marketing (SEM); Content Development and Management; Influencer Marketing and more. Even though digital marketing strategies are different for different businesses and need to be customized as per requirement, but there are some common processes and frameworks that can be applied and implemented to ensure the effectiveness of the campaign - Identify Marketing Goals; Solidify Sales Process; Identify and Separately Group Target Customers; Select Marketing Channels; Set Clear Benchmarks and Measure Progress; Provide Relevant Content At Each Stage of Buyer Journey; Adjust and Adapt The Strategy When Needed. As digital marketing is driven by technology and consumer preferences, it continues to evolve. Marketers who want to stay at the top adapt effectively to changes in technologies and consumer behavior. Events like Covid-19 pandemic also bring shifts in business processes and customer needs, and marketers that can handle the change do much better then those who don't. Some of the main marketing themes that will be significant in the realm of digital marketing going forward will include - Multichannel Marketing Hubs; Conversational Marketing; Personalization Engine; Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning; Consumer Privacy and Consent. Read on...

ilmeps/read: Digital Marketing To Connect, Engage And Serve Customers - Part II
Author: Mohammad Anas Wahaj


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 nov 2022

Branding for startups begins from the early stage when founders interact with investers, build their team and launch their product. It can be a conscious or unconsious process. Even though the success of branding efforts is hard to measure effectively while building a fast-paced startup, but Daria Gonzalez, founding partner and CEO at Wunderdogs, a brand consultancy, suggests a process that startups can keep in mind while making investments in building a brand. She says, 'Start by defining very specifically what your brand should be communicating to your audience and who this audience is. This means clearly defining the building blocks of your brand, especially your positioning, tone of voice and target audience.' She suggests developing a 'brand baseline' and answer some important questions like how audience view the brand vis-à-vis competition; how the website make audience feel; what does audience feel like coming back when they first interact; is communication giving intended results etc. Comparing the answers to ideal scenarios can provide good measure of branding progress the startup is making. In addition to qualitative measurement it is also important to consider measuring branding with quantitative data by analyzing website engagement data and social media listening. Another important success measure is getting information through direct audience interactions. This can be done by talking to customers, talking to the team and talking to investors. After establishing brand baseline it is necessary to monitor branding efforts regularly keeping in view the long-term branding goals. Read on...

Forbes: How To Measure Your Startup's Branding Success
Author: Daria Gonzalez


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 oct 2022

Jeff Cannon, in his 1999 book 'Make Your Website Work for You: How to Convert Online Content Into Profits', wrote, 'In content marketing, content is created to provide consumers with the information they seek.' But many content marketers still struggle to effectively accomplish this basic goal. According to the '2021 LinkedIn-Edelman B2B Thought Leadership Impact Report', 71% of decision-makers say that half or less than half of the thought-leadership content they read or watch gives them any sort of valuable insights. So what should content marketers do to stay relevant and effective? Gavin Jordan, publishing manager of Open Mic (The Drum's self-publishing content marketing platform), provides marketers ways to approach content marketing now and in the coming year 2023. He suggests content marketers to keep up with the current industry trends and what type of content consumers are flocking to. He predicts the following content marketing trends for 2023 - (1) E-commerce: E-commerce continues to grow. According to Morgan Stanley's 2022 report, 'Stronger for Longer in Global E-Commerce', in the U.S. e-commerce could reach 31% of sales by 2026, up from 23% now, as brick-and-mortar stores close and consumers prioritize convenience. Similar upward trends are predicted in other regions of the world. Marketers should look for content that covers these topics - Hybrid shopping; Personalization; Social commerce; Live shopping. (2) Metaverse and Gaming: Gen-Z and Gen-Alpha are flocking to 'metaverse'. Chris Sutcliffe, reporter at The Drum, says, 'The metaverse ultimately represents potential.' Metaverse will grow into an US$ 800 billion market by 2024, and the number of gamers worldwide totalling a staggering 3.2 billion. In 2023 brands will be looking for actionable advice on how to enter the metaverse/hone their metaverse strategies, as well as the marketing opportunities within these virtual worlds, be it in-game advertising, audio ad opportunities or by utilizing virtual influencer marketing. (3) Data & Privacy: Collecting, measuring and utilizing audience data through cookies will become challenging. In 2023, marketers will be preparing to fill the cookie-shaped hole of the future, and content that helps them do this will reign king. Moreover, marketers also look to analyze data and now they will search for content that helps them overcome attribution challenges, or else provides a clear alternative. Data & privacy are dry subjects and marketers have to find ways to make content surrounding them more enjoyable and engaging. (4) Audio: Number of podcast listeners is rising and so is the opportunity to advertise there. Marketers have to apply effective podcast strategy. Moreover, brands are also looking for in-game visual ads and can also explore audio ads. According to a study by AudioMob and YouGov, 75% of mobile gamers prefer audio ads over video. There is audio opportunity in metavers also. (5) Influencer Marketing: As influencer marketing continutes to grow, content marketers can create quality content that can help make it successful for brands. Virtual influencers and live shopping have disrupted traditional notions of influencer marketing, and brands will be looking at thought-leadership closely to monitor these areas. Read on...

The Drum: What will be the top 5 content marketing trends of 2023?
Author: Gavin Jordan


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 sep 2022

E. Jerome McCarthy's 1960 book 'Basic Marketing: A Managerial Approach' first proposed the four P's of marketing - price, product, promotion and place. The concept continues to be relevant, but over the years the business environment has evolved and major component of this change is technology and most recently COVID-19 exacerbated the digital push. All this brought about an additional P to the marketing mix - the payments. The fifth P brings about a new element to the customer journey as they demand seamless experience till the end. B2C companies have adopted efficient payment systems but B2B companies are trying to refine them. According to DigitalCommerce360's '2022 U.S. B2B Ecommerce Market Report', 51% of business buyers are attracted to B2B sites with an excellent B2C-like user experience. In present times B2B companies can't ignore the fifth P - payments - and risk losing B2B customers expectations of seamless transactions. B2B companies can learn a lot from B2C as they have mastered the understanding of customer preferences and have designed their systems to offer fast convenient ways to pay their way during a seamless, omnichannel experience. Even though most B2B buyers pay online through credit cards but that is not their most favored method. According to the statistics from TreviPay's 'Why More Payment Options Mean More Purchases' report, 'Although more than half of B2B buyers use credit cards to make online purchases, but they don't want to and 50% actually prefer to pay with methods other than credit cards when given the option...90% of B2B buyers research payment options before purchasing from a new supplier...15% of B2B buyers spend more when offered trade credit,..82% would choose one vendor over others if that vendor offered invoicing at checkout with 30-, 60- or 90-day terms.' According to Forrester Tech Tide 2022, 'B2B payment augmentation is increasingly critical to companies' ability to win, serve and retain business customers. Offering trade credit and net terms invoicing, automatic onboarding, instant decisioning and digitizing A/R are all needed...' To stay ahead B2B organizations must provide B2C-like payment methods; digital and mobile purchasing options; payments, invoicing and billing in one centralized location; invoicing, account reconciliation and overdue reminders; risk management and sophisticated fraud detection; more working capital for buyers; and integrations with a myriad of technology vendors. Including the 5th P in the marketing mix offers customer-centric benefits the entire organization should champion. This benefits would include offering buyers consistent, quality service and support throughout their entire customer journey, creating a virtuous cycle of repeat purchases. Read on...

Entrepreneur: Why B2B Companies Can't Ignore the 5th P of Marketing - Payments
Author: Brandon Spear


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 12 sep 2022

The U.S. National Science Foundation's (NSF) Innovation Corps (I-Corps™) program established in 2011 is an experiential education and training program designed to facilitate entrepreneurial innovations in universities towards commercialization and expand their economic and social benefits and impact. The program has three aims - (1) Train an entreprenneurial workforce (2) Bring cutting-edge technologies to market (3) Nurturing an innovation ecosystem. According to the NSF website (nsf.gov) article 'NSF expands the National Innovation Network (NIN) with 5 new I-Corps Hubs' dated 08 sep 2022, NSF now has 10 hubs in total spread all across US with each hub funded for up to US$ 3 million per year for five years and comprises a regional alliance of at least eight universities. The I-Corps™ Hubs work collaboratively to build and sustain a diverse and inclusive innovation ecosystem. Erwin Gianchandani, NSF Assistant Director for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships, says, 'I am delighted the I-Corps™ Hubs that we are awarding today will expand the footprint of the National Innovation Network, harnessing the innovation potential that exists all across the country by establishing clear pathways for researchers to engage with NSF's Lab-to-Market Platform. Each regional I-Corps™ Hub provides training essential in entrepreneurship and customer discovery, leading to new products, startups and jobs. In this way, the I-Corps™ program will open up new economic opportunities throughout the United States.' Vanderbilt University is the lead institution for the new Mid-South Region Hub and will coordinate the program through the Wond'ry Innovation Center. Daniel Diermeier, Chancellor of Vanderbilt, says, 'This role aligns perfectly with our position as a leading center of research and innovation, and with our efforts to help cultivate a thriving ecosystem supporting invention and entrepreneurship in our region...' Wond'ry's Charleson Bell, director of entrepreneurship, biomedical innovation and I-Corps™, and Deanna Meador, deputy director, in a joint statement say, 'The Mid-South I-Corps™ Hub is for everyone. Led by Vanderbilt with an intentional emphasis on inclusive innovation, this hub will accelerate the translation of groundbreaking university research outcomes into commercialized ventures that seed emergent, prosperous innovation ecosystems across the Midsouth. We are thrilled to extend our local successes with I-Corps™ to the greater Midsouth and help underrepresented innovators bring their ideas to life.' David A. Owens, Evans Family Executive Director, and Mandy Lalrindiki, program manager of innovation and design research, are other members of I-Corps™ team. The effort received broad bipartisan support from politicians including Tennessee's U.S. Sens. Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty, and U.S. Reps. Jim Cooper, Tim Burchett and Chuck Fleischmann. C. Cybele Raver, provost of Vanderbilt, says, '...In keeping with NSF's aims, Vanderbilt drives discovery, harnessing big ideas in ways that dramatically increase their economic and social impact...' Padma Raghavan, vice provost for research and innovation at Vanderbilt, says, 'The spirit of collaborative innovation that defines our Vanderbilt community is key to our success...advance the development of an inclusive innovation corridor.' Read on...

Vanderbilst University Research News: The Wond'ry, Vanderbilt's Innovation Center, named National Science Foundation Innovation Corps Hub lead institution
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 aug 2022

Market research analysis is the methodology to understand the target market, customers and competitors. It provides businesses the insights that they can apply to build products and continuously improve them depending on what customers and market needs. This also assist companies to devise effective marketing and selling strategies. Market research analyst is the key human resource in the field of business and their demand is high. According to US Bureau of Labor Statistics the job outlook for the industry is 22%, and the median annual wage is around US$ 64000. There are certain set of qualifications and skills that make a good market research analyst - (1) Getting a business or marketing degree builds the foundation for a successful career. (2) As data is one of the most essential component of market research, it is important to be skilled in sorting, storing and analyzing data. Knowledge of software tools like Excel, Sheets, Tableau etc is needed. (3) Other necessary skills include both technical and soft skills. Analytical skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, data analysis, and logical reasoning are required. Verbal and written communication skills are a must when explaining data in the form of presentations and writing reports. (4) Getting relevant experience while pursuing education in the form of internships help in getting initial placement. Moreover, obtaining specialized market research related degree can pave the way for better placement. (5) Building relevant industry contacts and networking will assist in getting guidance and mentoring and to stay on course for successful career. (6) There are many specialized online courses that can help in honing existing skills and getting new ones. As the field continues to grow and progress taking online courses will assure skill development while staying in the job. Read on...

MakeUseOf: How to Become a Market Research Analyst: The Ultimate Guide
Author: Raji Oluwaniyi


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 aug 2022

3D printing is a computer-aided design enabled additive manufacturing process that makes products through extruded materials layer-by-layer. 3D printing types that have developed recently include fused deposition modeling, stereolithography, selective laser sintering, selective laser melting, digital light processing, fused filament fabrication etc. Benefits of 3D printing include cost-effectiveness; time, resource, and energy savings; significantly less material waste; enhanced design freedom etc. In addition to various industries like manufacturing, aerospace, transportation etc where 3D printing has found extensive use, it is now finding application in textile industry. 3D printing can bring more efficiencies in the fabric production and make it more sustainable. It has potential to reduce consumption of resources like water and materials, and substantially eliminate the waste produced that would reduct textile industry's large carbon footprint. Moreover, 3D printing provides ability to manufacture 'smart' fabrics with embedded functionalities and, complex and unique structures. Even though there is potential for 3D printing in textile industry, it also has many challenges that need to be overcome to its widespread use. 3D printed fabrics are more stiff, less flexible giving rise to impediments in their wearibility and comfort level. Scientists have proposed many solutions to 3D printed textiles to impart properties like stretchability, softness, and flexibility. Three approaches towards this goal are printing flexible structural units, printing fibers, and printing on textiles. Read on...

AZoM: How is 3D Printing Changing the Textile Industry?
Author: Reginald Davey


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 jul 2022

Recent research report, 'The State of Shipping Report 2022: Why Faster Shipping Matters', developed in partnership between X Delivery and Retail Management Institute of Santa Clara University, points out the importance of fast, free, and effective shipping on online brands' customer relationships. According to the report, 62% of shoppers expect their orders to arrive in less than 3 business days when choosing free shipping. On the contrary, more than 4/5ths of leading fashion and apparel retailers are still using 5-8 day delivery options to service free shipping orders. Prof. Kirthi Kalyanam, Executive Director of the Retail Management Institute of Santa Clara University, says, 'Customers want shipping to be free and fast — and they’re willing to abandon carts and walk away from brands that fail to deliver on both fronts. Today’s consumers are more demanding than ever, and it’s up to merchants to give them the streamlined, expedited shipping experiences that they crave.' Peter Sheldon, SVP of Strategy & Business Development at X Delivery, says, 'Everyone understands the ROI of free shipping, but many retail brands aren't yet providing affordable and convenient expedited shipping options. retailers that step up and elevate their delivery options have an opportunity to upgrade their brand experience, reduce cart abandonment, and capture significant ROI.' Read on...

Retail Dive: Survey: 62% of shoppers expect their free shipping orders to arrive in 3 business days
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 jun 2022

Selling is an evolving art and it has become more challenging to connect, convince, engage and build relationships with the tech-savvy and freedom prefering consumers when they embark on their buying journey. 11 members of the Forbes Coaches Council have experienced advice for salespeople for success in 2022 - (1) Merge The Old With The New (Divya Parekh, DP Group): 'It is critical to know current market trends and become familiar with how people think and act...The goal is to help your customers find a solution to their problems. This allows customers to see the value you offer and create trust...' (2) Become A Trusted Advisor (John Lowe, Ty Boyd Inc.): 'To become a trusted advisor, a rep needs to leave their sales baggage at the door...People don't want to be sold; they want you to help them make a decision to buy.' (3) Utilize In-Person And Social Selling Platforms (Antonio Garrido, Absolute Sales Development): 'Follow a successful "hybrid" sales and prospecting process which includes remote/virtual as well as in-person selling...Follow a behavioral plan, and hold yourself accountable for it. Ask for feedback and critique. Become a lifelong learner.' (4) Ask Good Questions And Actively Listen (José Luís González Rodriguez, ActionCOACH): 'The most revolutionary selling technique is the Socratic method...The most professional sale is the one made by the client...' (5) Connect With Your Customers' Values (Natasha Charles, Intuitive Coaching w/ Natasha Charles): 'Your customers desire a personalized, customized experience...' (6) Understand How People Think (Chuen Chuen Yeo, ACESENCE Agile Leadership Coaching and Training Pte. Ltd.): 'Don't rely on tactics that manipulate clients...Think about winning ambassadors, not customers. Connect with curiosity and have the real intention to serve.' (7) Build Honest Relationships With Customers (Michael Thiemann, Strategy-Lab™): '...Remember that customers are less interested in the product than in the result. Your product may only help solve part of their problem; help them solve the other parts too.' (8) Build Relationships The Old-Fashioned Way (John M. O'Connor, Career Pro Inc.): 'Take someone out to eat. Invite them to a talk. Send them a thoughtful, handwritten note with an article in it that you cut out of the newspaper or a magazine...Try to focus on building a more personal relationship and not so much on making transactional sales.' (9) Be A Presence Of Honesty And Integrity (Natasha Ganem, Lion Leadership): '...The only thing they need to sell is a good relationship. Get good at being in a community and in relationships with people in meaningful ways, and then sales will follow.' (10) Help Customers Avoid Pain And Gain Pleasure (Csaba Toth, ICQ Global): 'The highest level of influence is when somebody can connect their message to the other person's highest values and vision in a language they understand. Otherwise, the message gets lost, and even if the client needs a service or product, they would not want it...' (11) Seek To Understand Before Offering Solutions (Bryan Powell, Executive Coaching Space): 'Meet your clients where they are. In today’s environment, it is imperative for the "modern salesperson" to develop a curious mindset and seek to understand before offering a solution...' Read on...

Forbes: 11 Essential Tips For The Modern Salesperson In 2022
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 jun 2022

Social entrepreneurship provides opportunity to do business along with social good. There are some qualities that are inherent to being a social entrepreneur - (1) Think Outside Of The Box: Creativity and teamwork to find solutions to complex social problem. (2) Build A Leadership Tribe: Nurturing leadership and continuously learning, growing and adapting to evolving social issues. (3) Use Your Personality: Good temperament and relatable personality is essential for success as social entrepreneur. (4) Fight Through The Tough Times: Persistence and winning temperament will help overcome hurdles and pushbacks. Diplomatic approach with excellent communication can help lead and convince both those support and oppose. (5) Keep That Passion: Internal spark and continuous passion is necessary to reach the goals. Prioritize passion for selective tasks can help channelize energy in the right direction for sustained success. Read on...

Entrepreneur: Social Entrepreneurship Qualities to Harness
Author: Baptiste Monnet


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 24 may 2022

Steven R. Kovey in his book, '7 Habits of Highly Effective People', mentioned 'Begin with the end in mind' as the second habit, which means all things are created twice - first in our minds and then when they are created in the physical world. The concept is being utilized by organizations to collectively champion their efforts for larger goal. PR industry is using this concept while doing cross-agency collaboration by working together with the same client. Pandemic and conflicts have further demonstrated the significance of cross-sector collaboration. Jessica Starman, co-founder and CEO of Elev8 New Media, explains that cross-agency collaboration in PR is the way forward and can be effective in serving more clients. Traditional PR agancies are finding numerous challenges in changing environment, with large scale use of technology and social media, and one-size-fit-all solutions not much effective in this scenario. Flexible, agile, specialized and customized approaches are becoming prominent with creation of smaller PR agencies. Ms. Starman provides the following benefits of cross-agency collaboration - Wider array of expertise and more resources; Larger audience reach and exposure; More innovation and opportunities; More new and resourceful contacts for campaign acceleration. In the more digitalized and connected marketplace, the new normal for PR agencies is through collaboration to achieve common goals. Read on...

Forbes: Cross-Agency Collaboration: The Future Of Public Relations
Author: Jessica Starman


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 mar 2022

Just like in most businesses, digital in business-to-business (B2B) is transforming customer relationships. Digital transformation is the way forward to succeed in B2B space. According to Michiel Schipperus, CEO of Sana Commerce, mentioned in ITProPortal article 'Why should e-commerce sit at the heart of a business’ digital transformation?' (25 may 2018), 'In a recent survey that we conducted with 300 global B2B organisations, 75% of respondents said that their customers had demanded to buy online, and three quarters of those gave 'ease of online purchasing' as the reason...Our survey found that over half of companies believe that web stores are the most important route to market...our survey found that 63% of organisations have a digital transformation strategy in place...According to our research nearly 70% of companies will use the Internet of Things (IoT) or machine to machine technology to enable automated and/or predictive ordering for customers. While 67% believe that virtual reality will help personalise the B2B buying experience.' Chris Shalchi, President and CEO of Mavecca Group, explains the benefits of digital transformation for B2B businesses and what is required to provide value and meet customer expectations in the highly competitive B2B ecosystem. He provides 4 benefits of transforming to digital-native ecosystem - (1) Managing buyer expectations is easier through digital as more and more customers prefer purchasing online and find it comfortable for subsequent buying. (2) Through right B2B e-commerce software businesses can provide enhanced buyer experience with improved processes and automation. With data and analytics, the knowledge about consumers can help organizations customize buyer experience for better relationships. (3) With digital B2B businesses can develop an automatic cross-sell and up-sell suggestion program to reach existing customers and expand customer base, thus increasing sales. (4) Using data and analytics to enhance decision making is one of the key benefits of digital. With the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) that would provide predictive analytics, organizations have better control and enhanced decision-making, resulting in improved processes. As substantial decision-making in B2B purchases happens before a sales person is contacted, B2B businesses can create and deliver engaging content and have an elaborate communications strategy through digital channels for initiating purchase. B2B organizations have to fully understand what their customers want. Aligning of marketing and sales functions, and efficiently using data is important for overall customer-focused digital strategy. Read on...

Forbes: Make Your B2B Business A Digital Business
Author: Chris Shalchi


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 feb 2022

Investopedia defines co-branding as a 'marketing strategy that utilizes multiple brand names on a good or service as part of a strategic alliance...Each brand in such a strategic alliance contributes its own identity to create a melded brand with the help of unique logos, brand identifiers, and color schemes. The point of co-branding is to combine the market strength, brand awareness, positive associations, and cachet of two or more brands to compel consumers to pay a greater premium for them.' According to the Visual Objects survey of 501 US consumers conducted in May 2021 to determine which components of co-branding partnerships best appeal to audiences and yield successful products - 71% of consumers feel positive about co-branding partnerships, making partnership opportunities appeal to prospective brands; 61% of consumers avoid purchasing products with a negative brand reputation at least sometimes, emphasizing the importance of wisely selecting a co-branding partner; 43% of consumers would likely try a co-branded product from a company they already liked, making co-branding a solid opportunity to reengage returning consumers; 41% of consumers think a brand's values are essential for purchasing decisions, indicating that co-branding partners should spend time discussing values alignment. Essentials for co-branding success include - (1) Positive Brand Reputations: 2/3rd of consumers (61%) avoid purchasing products associated with a negative brand reputation at least some time. Jerry Han, CMO of PrizeRebel, says, 'Before we partner up with a company and offer rewards or discounts on their behalf, we make sure that the impact on the customers will be a positive one and would make them feel excited [to receive our services].' (2) Audience Alignment Between Brands: It is important to bring together customers of partners in co-branding efforts. Samuel Klein of Astor Chocolate says, 'A co-branding partnership should have shared goals for the type of people they want to reach. There needs to be an overlap in target audience size such that neither party is risking too much by choosing this particular business arrangement.' (3) Appeal To Loyal Customers: 43% of consumers would try a co-branded product from a company they already supported. John Li, co-founder of Fig Loans, says, 'Co-branding can help loyal customers venture out and try new products. If they already have trust and loyalty with you, they're more likely to trust your recommendations.' (4) Brand Values Agreement: 41% of consumers think that brand values and mission statements help inform purchasing decisions. Terri Rockovich, co-founder and CEO of Jinx, says, 'Value alignment should be at the core of a co-branding project since both brands will be inextricably linked. If you focus on just connecting a growing audience with a co-brand initiative, the partnership can feel inauthentic and strained for both a brand's current audience and their partner brand's audience. The best collaborations are those that truly bring value to both sides, elevating the values of the other and complementing each others' offerings with something unique that is created through the partnership.' Read on...

Visual Objects: 4 Essentials for Co-Branding Success
Author: Sydney Wess


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 jan 2022

Internet and technology has been consistently driving the shift in the retail sector processes. COVID-19 pandemic accelerated it and also significantly changed the consumer shopping behavior. According to McKinsey article titled 'The great consumer shift: Ten charts that show how US shopping behavior is changing' (Authors: Tamara Charm, Becca Coggins, Kelsey Robinson, Jamie Wilkie), 75% of US consumers are trying a new shopping behavior during pandemic in response to economic pressures, store closings, and changing priorities. This general change in behavior has also been reflected in a shattering of brand loyalties, with 36% of consumers trying a new product brand and 25% incorporating a new private-label brand. Moreover, most consumers intend to continue this behavior beyond the pandemic-induced crisis. The McKinsey research find 10 key consumer behavior shifts: FLIGHT TO ONLINE (1) Digital shopping is here to stay. (2) Millennials and high-income earners are in the lead when it comes to shopping online; SHOCK TO LOYALTY (3) Consumers are switching brands at unprecedented rates. (4) Brands need to ensure strong availability and also convey value; NEED FOR HYGIENCE TRANSPARENCY (5) US consumers are changing how they shop in response to health and safety concerns; BACK TO BASICS AND VALUE (6) Consumer shopping intent is focused on essentials. (7) Consumers want value for their money - especially in essential categories; RISE OF THE HOMEBODY ECONOMY (8) Americans are changing how they spend their time at home. (9) Americans are concerned about going back to regular activities outside the home; BEHAVIORS VARY BY CONSUMER SEGMENT (10) 'Great consumer shift' trends vary by consumer segment. With high levels of uncertainty and competitiveness in the market, retailers have to apply innovative strategies to retain and gain consumers. Ravi Pratap Maddimsetty, Chief Technology Officer of MobStac (a physical-to-digital experience management solution), suggests use of 'phygital' marketing, a hybrid marketing channel that captures customer data to deliver a personalized experience, and provides three aspects of phygital marketing that retailers must know before integrating it into their marketing strategy - (1) Retailers Can Enhance In-Store Convenience Through Phygital Marketing: 46% of consumers still prefer to shop in person, although 63% of shopping journeys start online; Retailers needs digital infrastructure to integrate online and in-store experience; 87% of shoppers say they would prefer to shop in stores with touchless or robust self-checkout options like QR code technology. (2) Not All Phygital Solutions Maintain the Same Security Standards: Prioritize data security while choosing a phygital solution; Consumers trust retail experience that secures their data; Evaluate the security of your phygital solution through the integration of safe QR code use. (3) Phygital Marketing Drives Customer Engagement With Proximity-Based Tactics: Utilize geofencing to create digital campaigns within a defined physical radius; Geofencing strategy should capture the frequency of customer foot traffic and push out relevant notifications for past customers and potential customers. Phygital delivers enhanced retail experiences and the opportunity to better customer engagement and retention by correctly implementing phygital marketing is growing. Read on...

Total Retail: Phygital Marketing: 3 Things Retailers Should Know About the Newest Marketing Channel
Author: Ravi Pratap Maddimsetty


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 dec 2021

Marketing focuses on fulfilling customer needs and the process initiates leads and attracts customers. Marketing involves making a connect with prospective customers wherever they are available. According to Chartered Institute of Marketing, 'Marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.' Traditional marketing with outbound methodology involves various channels like newspapers, magazines, television, radio, billboards etc to reach out to prospective customers. It is static and is mainly a one-sided push communication, where these media show to the public what the brands want them to see, without any direct engagement with them. The rise of internet and consumer technologies, with large section of the public connected through computing devices, led marketing processes to evolve. Digital marketing is an evolution of traditional marketing and many foundational concepts are same. Digital marketing with inbound methodology creates brand awareness and promotes business through utilizing digital channels and internet that would include blogs, podcasts, videos, enewsletters, ebooks etc. Digital marketing process is dynamic with two-way communication and reaches out to customers where ever they are available in the digital media and serve them at different stages of their interaction and purchasing journey. Connecting and engaging with customers is not difficult in digital. What is important is how to achieve and maximize value through this engagement to better serve the customer requirements. Success of digital in marketing depends on how well marketers can understand the consumer behavior through technology-enabled interactions and analytics tools and how well they manage those interactions to fulfil consumer needs. Digital marketing channels, powered by internet, create, accelerate, and transmit product and services information and value to consumers, through digital networks. These channels include Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Social Media Marketing (SMM), E-mail Marketing, Content Marketing, Affiliate Marketing, Online Public Relations, Display Advertising, In-game Advertisng, Native Advertising, Video Advertising, SMS Marketing etc. Marketers of today and future have to keep pace with technological advancements, stay informed and skilled, and be innovative and creative, to connect, understand, engage, and serve the digitalized modern customer. Digital marketing will continue to evolve, but a balanced and mix approach to traditional and digital marketing would provide better results. Mobile Marketing, Internet of Things (IoT), Analytics, Big Data, 3D Printing, Cloud Computing, Artificial Intelligence, Consumer Neuroscience/Neuro Marketing are some of the most interesting and challenging domains where the future marketers are expected to deliver. Read on...

ilmeps/read: Digital Marketing To Connect, Engage And Serve Customers - Part I
Author: Mohammad Anas Wahaj


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 nov 2021

Environment influenced by pandemic, enhanced use of mobile devices, considerations for privacy and safety etc are some issues that would have an impact on the website trends in addition to the normal evolution of technology and design concepts. Paul DeLeeuw, Director of Interactive at ddm marketing + communications, provides trends that will shape web design in 2022 - (1) Sharing Not Telling: Enhanced visitor engagement with website with visuals and interactions. Micro-interactions and micro-animations are lively add-ons on the website. Integrating them effectively with overall look and feel of the website without overdoing them brings energy to the website. (2) Simplicity: Customer engagement needs to be seamless with less roadblocks and impediments. Precise information, soft colors, vivid imagery and clarity in calls to action will be effective. (3) Safety First: Websites are adapting design to the new normal. They are trying to give people space, reduce anxiety, and feel comfortable and safe. Emphasis is on aesthetics and feelings. Designs that feel spacious, inviting, and accommodating will speak to the visitors' sense of security and safety. (4) Customisation and Accessibility: Accessibility needs to be integrated in the design process from the beginning. More website are integrating theme and font customisations. They are supporting operating systems, and accessibility features like font scaling and contrast adjustments. Sites with these features stand out as they signal that they are caring for their customers. (5) Positive Mindset: Prevalence of negativity and information overload is the reality of modern internet. Better websites in 2022 will reduce this and try to create experiences that help and assist the user, and generate positive thinking and goodwill. Read on...

Creative Bloq: 5 exciting web design trends for 2022
Author: Paul DeLeeuw


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 nov 2021

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) is an important human resources issue in public relations field and needs consideration from various stakeholders. Recent research by Prof. Caitlin Wills of the University of North Georgia, published in The Public Relations Journal titled, 'Diversity in Public Relations: The Implications of a Broad Definition for PR Practice?', examines how the top 50 PR firms (Holmes Report) communicate about diversity on their websites. Their specific definitions are important as it showcases their understanding, policies and implementations regarding diversity. According to the research, 'Over half of the websites sampled contained definitions; the majority included expanded conceptualizations of differences, and most did not mention demographic characteristics specifically. Of the nine firms that outlined distinct activities, such as employee networks, all of the activities addressed demographic characteristics of diversity.' Prof. Caitlin says, 'The field has been slow to change and reflect the diversity of society, and fundamentally does not reflect the diversity of its audiences...The PR field is not yet diverse in traditional terms. The field needs to diversify in that way before they can move to broader definitions that ignore race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.' In the research article Prof. Caitlin made following recommendations for PR firms - (1) Develop a definition of diversity based on specific criteria that includes both traditional and broad characteristics of diversity. (2) Show organizational commitment to diversity initiatives by communicating the definition and activities across organizational communication to all stakeholders. (3) Align diversity-related activities to the criteria identified in the definition to allow assessment and ensure effectiveness. She further says, 'A definition of diversity that reflects the PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) guidance might help focus policies and programs on many types of diversity and inclusion, thus, moving the field of public relations toward fuller diversification. Once a definition is identified, it should be communicated clearly to employees and the public on the website. All employees, especially CEOs, should know how their organization defines diversity and defines inclusion. In addition, initiatives should be expanded to address other diversity factors and linked to the criteria identified in the definition.' Read on...

University of North Georgia Newsroom: Wills points out diversity disparities
Author: J. K. Devine


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 oct 2021

Continuous innovation and improvement in strategies is the key for success with rapidly changing market dynamics. Business-to-business (B2B) marketing is no different. Even though basics of B2B marketing are same as for B2C (Business-to-consumer) but it requires some special considerations as business customers are bulk buyers and B2B is the largest market transaction-wise. Marketing strategies in this case need to be fine-tuned for effectiveness. Here are few time-tested and latest B2B focused marketing strategies that should be part of companies dealing with B2B customers - (1) Account-Based Marketing: It has one of the highest conversion rates. It is a targeted marketing strategy with customized and curated campaign specifically designed for select clients. (2) Live Chat Strategy: Live chat is capable of converting a prospective lead into a client through answering queries effectively. Webchat platform reports that it has seen 2.8% more conversions than the business that doesn't use live chat support. It has also reported a 60% increment in B2B sales due to provision of live support to customer during entire purchase journey. (3) Word-of-Mouth: McKinsey reports that 20-50% of all purchasing decisions are based solely on word-of-mouth. (4) Long Content Pieces: Long-form content strategy generates more leads and requires engaging and highly curated content to target the specific business profile. (5) Podcast Marketing: COVID-19 pandemic has increased the listener base for podcasts. According to a survey, 155 million people listen to Podcasts in the US. Considering this curated podcast content is an opportunity to be tapped for reaching out to broader prospective clients. (6) AI Marketing Strategy: AI-based strategy would require product recommendations to prospective customers based on prior purchase data and behavior. (7) E-mail Marketing Strategy: It has over 122% lead generation. Targeted emails with specific content suited to prospective clients is key to the effectiveness. (8) Influencer Marketing: With rise of video-sharing platforms, influencer marketing has become an effective tool to reach clients. (9) Virtual Events: COVID-19 has exacerbated the use of virtual events for targeted marketing. It has expanded the audience reach with less efforts as compared to physical events. (10) Omnichannel Marketing: This strategy helps in reaching out to target audience through multiple channels with a unified marketing approach and helps reduce buyer friction and generate more leads. Read on...

UNB: B2B Marketing: Effective Strategies in 2021
Author: Shahriar Rabab


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 sep 2021

With changing donor behaviors and perceptions, nonprofits should modify their fundraising strategies to stay successful and impactful in the communities they serve. Annual galas, glossy annual reports, generic charity requests etc have been norms in charity fundraising. But, according to a new report, 'Transforming Partnerships With Major Donors' by the Leadership Story Lab, wealthy donors are now seeking new relationships and expecting innovative fundraising approaches from nonprofit organizations before donating. The report found that donors seek more personalized and customized pitches from nonprofits. Moreover, the report found that many self-made givers avoid public recognition of their donations and are more focused on making an impact and solving social problems that are close to their heart. Joe Pulizzi, a marketing and communications entrepreneur in Cleveland, got disillusioned with traditional ways of nonprofit fundraising and after joining the board of one nonprofit he found that much of the donated money was going to pay debt and covering significant overhead. This prompted him to start his own nonprofit and focus more on spending money where it is needed the most - in solving the social problem that nonprofit was set out for. Esther Choy, the president of the Leadership Story Lab and author of the report, said that gift officers didn't always know the potential donor's story and, instead of asking specific questions, led with a pitch about the greatness of their organization. Ms. Choy says, 'Sometimes everything feels too polished. If they can make their solicitation as human as possible, it would work better. It shouldn't be about putting someone on a pedestal.' Michael Wagner, co-founder of Omnia Family Wealth, says, 'People are really looking for something more than a transaction. It's about building a partnership based on a relationship. People used to be OK with just giving the money and being done with it, but that isn't the case anymore.' Mr. Pulizzi says, 'Many nonprofits have a kind of salesmanship that needs to go away. If the nonprofit is calling on someone with means, I think they need to form a better communication strategy so it's not a commercial. They need get to know that person and invest some time.' Many donors want a more educational approach to fundraising from nonprofits then just plain marketing. Tyson Voelkel, the president and chief executive of the Texas A&M Foundation, says, 'The more trust we can earn, the more money donors will give...We have to convince them that we're the best place to put their philanthropic dollars.' Read on...

The New York Times: Raising Money for a Nonprofit? Try a Personalized Approach
Author: Paul Sullivan


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 sep 2021

According to Investopedia, Augmented reality (AR) is an enhanced version of the real physical world that is achieved through the use of digital visual elements, sound, or other sensory stimuli delivered via technology. It is now a pervasive digital technology trend and has become particularly ubiquitous in consumer products like smarphones, with advancements in camera technologies, computer vision techniques, AR software development kits, digital content availability etc. But, its utilization in industrial and manufacturing setting is a bit restricted even though early adopters there have demonstrated its importance. Boeing has tested AR in factory setting. Brian Laughlin, IT Tech Fellow at Boeing, says, 'By using augmented reality technology, technicians can easily see where the electrical wiring goes in the aircraft fuselage. They can roam around the airplane and see the wiring renderings in full depth within their surroundings and access instructions hands-free.' Paul Davies, Boeing Research & Technology Associate Technical Fellow, says, 'Our theory studies have shown a 90% improvement in first-time quality when compared to using two-dimensional information on the airplane, along with a 30% reduction in time spent doing a job.' Volvo Group has also found AR valuable in attracting and retaining employees. Bertrand Felix from Volvo Group says, 'Using visuals and AR is definitely attractive in a manufacturing industry universe. It certainly helps to recruit younger generations, as well as creating new jobs along the value chain who can generate the new digital visual instructions. Many can be created by experienced employees and, in that way, their knowledge is passed on carefully to the younger generation.' Volvo also employs AR to make training more efficient for its operatives. There are many examples like these where AR is finding value. IDC projects a 78.5% global spending increase on AR/VR in 2021. But, what is holding the proliferation of Industrial AR to the depths of manufacturing supply chains, including small-sized contractors is the issue of 'Interoperability'. For many years there have been interoperability challenges between engineering design and manufacturing. Standards Development Organisations (SDOs) have continued to focus on holistic and persistent descriptions of design and fabrication requirements to bridge the gap. Engineering software tools have also made progress in addressing interoperability issues but as manufacturing is moving more towards distributed operations new interoperability challenges crop up for developers. Moreover, for industrial AR the interoperability challenge is further compounded as AR authoring suites often force developers into a silo, which can lock the customer into a particular platform and framework. The lack of suitable interoperability for AR in Industry 4.0, and manufacturing in particular, is costly. Although one-off AR installations have demonstrated value but they are fragile and if the reference data and models change and the use of AR is to continue, the assets of the AR experience must also be modified. In industrial AR installations, automated and persistent data linking, oftern termed as 'digital thread', has not yet been realized. Efforts are being made to bring engineering practice, manufacturing and AR together. Workshop held at IEEE ISMAR 2020 with participants from diverse expertise, including geospatial information scientists, AR software architects, and manufacturing engineers suggests that much of what's needed to realise an AR-capable digital thread is already underway across a number of SDOs. To move forward, manufacturing industry stakeholders and standards working groups must plan for adoption of emerging technologies, such as Industrial AR and address the issues of interoperability between domain-specific models. Without interoperability, manufacturers will continue to struggle with improving the maintainability, reproducibility, and scalability of Industrial AR installations. Read on...

The Manufacturer: Closing the gap between engineering practice and augmented reality
Author: William Bernstein, Christine Perey


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 sep 2021

Consumer packaged goods (CPG) marketers are looking to boost above-average growth in the COVID-19 pandemic era. The challenges are real and according to McKinsey's latest research 78% of CEOs are now banking on marketing leaders to drive growth. The research study looked at how 860 global executives are prioritizing investments and capabilities that help accelerate growth. The study finds that three elements - creativity, analytics, and purpose - that constitute a 'growth triple play' that provides at least two times the growth of peers who don't invest in all three in tandem. Another McKinsey research based on interviews of CPG marketing and growth executives seeking answers about the new reality found that - to attain extraordinary growth requires more sophisticated, predictive, and customized marketing strategies. New approaches and tools are the need of the times. Even though some basics like broad reach, powerful, resonant storytelling, and creativity are critical, but marketers have to utilize data and analytics at scale to crack the code that enables more targeted and engaging interactions to shape consumer behavior. 2/3rd of CPG companies say they have put data-driven marketing at the top of their agenda [Consumer Analyst Group of New York (CAGNY) 2021 Virtual Conference]. Large number of CPG companies are still not able to fulfil the promise for delivering impact at scale from data-driven marketing. Accoring to another McKinsey research, truly sustainable, marketing-led growth has to be granular, focused, and scaled across the entire marketing organization, delivering the right message to the right consumer, at the right moment, at the right place - all the time. To thrive in this new ara of CPG marketing, companies have to - build a continuously updating, AI-powered consumer-intelligence engine that ingests enough signals and data points to not only identify demand but to predict it; use advanced analytics and marketing technology to recommend high-value actions; learnings from hundreds of tests per week need to feed back into this engine, helping drive rapid decision making and informing adjustments to brand plans, spend allocation, tent-pole campaigns, and always-on activation. This new marketing model will require new kind of talent, new organizational capabilities and midsets and adoption of new technologies. CPGs that would succeed and utilize next-level AI (Artifical Intelligence) consumer-intelligence need to have five essential ingredients to unlock data-driven marketing impact at scale - (1) Opportunity/Demand Identification: A 360-degree view of consumers and pockets of growth, supported by predictive and prescriptive insights. (2) Rapid Activation: Delivering the right message at the right time in moments that matter - and measuring the impact. (3) Martech/Data Enablement: Activating a fit-for-purpose data and tech-enabling customer-centric strategy. (4) Agile Operating Model: The new ways of working needed for an agile, modern, marketing organization. (5) Capacity-building: The talent, culture, and infrastructure required to scale impact. Read on...

McKinsey: The new marketing model for growth: How CPGs can crack the code
Authors: Tiffany Chen, Michele Choi, Jeff Jacobs, Brian Henstorf, Ed See


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 aug 2021

Diversity is an important issue in industrial design industry. Research finds that women account for 85% of consumer purchases but most products are not designed by women. Another research suggests that 85% designers are males in industrial design industry. So industrial firms that are women-led are rare and need a special mention. Women can provide different perspectives and approaches to products. Here is the list of 20 design and innovation firms with women in leadership positions - (1) Rinat Aruh, founder and CEO of Aruliden (2) Jo Barnard, founder of Morrama (3) Cheresse Thornhil, design director at S.E.E.D. at Adidas, the School for Experiential Education in design (4) Merle Hall, CEO of Kinneir Dufort (5) Jeanette Numbers, co-founder of Loft (6) Alyssa Coletti, founder of NonFiction Creative (7) Angela Medlin, founder and director of FAAS (pronounced 'faze', stands for Functional Apparel & Accessories Studio) Design Collab (8) Natalie Nixon, PhD, founder of Figure 8 Thinking (9) Nichole Rouillac, founder of Level (10) Maaike Evers, co-founder of Mike&Maaike (11) Liz Daily, founder of Liz Daily (12) Jessica Nebel, managing partner at Neongrey (13) Antionette Carroll, founder, president, and CEO of Creative Reaction Lab (14) Ayse Birsel, co-founder and creative director of Birsel + Seck (15) Stephanie Howard, founder of HOW AND WHY (16) Phnam Bagley, co-founder of Nonfiction (17) Kelly Custer, design director of Knack (18) Isis Shiffer, founder of Spitfire Industry (19) Wonhee Arndt, co-founder of Studio Gorm (20) Betsy Goodrich, co-founder of Manta. Read on...

Core77: 20 Woman-led Industrial Design & Innovation Firms
Authors: Kristi Bartlett, Ti Chang


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 aug 2021

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is becoming an essential tool for businesses to not only participate in a greater good but also differentiate themselves in a highly competitive business environment. Businesses can utilize CSR as a source of competitive advantage by strategically applying CSR in the communities they work. Companies with serious CSR planning and implementation signify that they operate in ethical and sustainable way and care for the environment and are sincere about their social impacts. Particularly for companies that work in developing world with poverty related challenges, CSR is a great tool to demonstrate that they care and contribute for a better world. Here are few points that represent the value of CSR for businesses in today's world - (1) Creates Greater Job Satisfaction: As per the study published in HBR in 2018, 9 out of 10 workers are willing to earn less income to do more meaningful work. Companies with strong CSR culture can increase employee satisfaction and can attract better employees. (2) Encourages Customer Loyalty: Customers are now more interested in how the companies operate with respect to society and environment. When customers find out about CSR aspects of a company they trust it more and would buy products from them. Millenials as customers are more inclined towards such aspects of companies before they buy products from them. (3) Makes Businesses More Sustainable: When companies apply more sustainable practices then their models become more sustainable too and they will reap the benefits in the long run. Read on...

South Coast Herald: Why Corporate Social Responsibility is Essential for Businesses
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 aug 2021

The new study 'Why Do Some Advertisements Get Shared More Than Others' by Prof. Jonah Berger of the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania and Daniel McDuff of Microsoft Research published in Journal of Advertising Research, explores the emotional triggers - happiness, sadness, and even disgust - that make people want to share advertising content. Prof. Berger is also the author of the books, 'Contagious' and 'The Catalyst: How to Change Anyone’s Mind'. The study investigates the link between emotional responses to video ads and sharing. The researchers found that positive emotions resulted in more sharing, but so did feelings of disgust. Prof. Berger says, 'Everyone wants their content to be shared - from companies with their ads to 'influencers' with their videos to content marketers with their content. But actually getting consumers to share is harder than most people think.' Prof. Berger mentions that for the study they used facial expressions of participants as indicator of emotions. He says, 'It certainly seems easier to ask people how they feel or have them rate their response on scale. But there's a problem: Self-reports are often inaccurate. People don't always have a good sense of what they are feeling, and even if they give you an answer, it's not always correct. Further, people sometimes bias their responses based on what they think you want to hear. So, facial expressions can be a valuable alternative. Our face often signals how we're feeling even if we don’t realize it.' Stating the key findings and implications of the study, Prof. Berger says, 'While ads that made people smile were more likely to be shared, some negative emotions, like sadness or confusion, decreased sharing, while others, like disgust, increased it. Consistent with other research we've conducted, this highlights that rather than just being about feeling good or bad, sharing is also about the physiological arousal associated with different emotions. Emotions that fire us up to take action, like anger and anxiety (and in this case, disgust) boost sharing, while emotions that power us down (like sadness), decrease sharing. This has a number of important implications for marketers. First, if you want people to share, making them feel good isn't enough. Feeling content isn't going to make people share. You have to fire them up. Make them feel excited, inspired, or surprised. Second, you don't have to shy away from negative emotions. Because they fire people up, anger, anxiety or even disgust can be leveraged to encourage word of mouth.' Read on...

Knowledge@Wharton: What Makes Some Ads More Shareable Than Others?
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 jul 2021

Sales teams are mostly a people game, but there are always some additional components that need focus depending on the industry's nuances. Chris Thrasher, Director of North American Sales at ABM, provides three characterists of a biological sales team - (1) Have A Strong Understanding Of Agronomy: Biological sales people work like consultants. Understanding of agronomy is important. Need to build upon the previous generations of agricultural knowledge and ability to understand the positives and negatives of the past in the industry can help in the sales process. (2) Have Integrity and Relate To The Customer: Sales team should be able to related to the farmers in addition to distributors and dealers. As farmers/producers are the end customer, it is essential to know what they really want and to build trust through sincerity and integrity. (3) The Ability To Hear The Word 'No': As biologicals are an add-on sales, they can become a difficult sell during adverse situations like global pandemic, abnormal weather conditions or bad commodity prices. They are not essential goods and sales persons have to be patient with the clients and have the ability to hear negative responses from customers. Lot of uncertainty is ingrained in farming regarding the future and farmers are looking for mainly basic buying of seeds, fertilizers and chemicals, biologicals are not their priority. The challenge for sales team to understand this and act accordingly. Read on...

Seed World: 3 Characteristics to Look For in a Biological Sales Team
Author: Chris Thrasher


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 jun 2021

In today's world, social media is capable to make or break a brand. Every organization needs a well thought out social media strategy and requires a skilled human resource to deliver it successfully to enhance the value and reach of the brand. Tracey Wallace, Director of Marketing at MarketerHire, analyzes the critical role of social media managers and explain the skills they need to lead the social media strategy of the organizations they serve. She says, 'Social-media marketing has become a much more critical role within the internal marketing teams at startups as well as at Fortune 500s...modern social-media management requires a deep generalist, with charisma and negotiating capabilities, fantastic copywriting and community-building skills, and the availability and drive to be nearly always on.' Many experts believe that that social-media managers are the CMOs of tomorrow. Matthew Kobach, Director of Content Marketing at Fast, says, 'Social media professionals understand the following about your company: Marketing, Comms (especially crisis), Branding, Industry trends, Customer service, Creative (graphics, imagery, photos, video), How to create and nurture brand advocates. They are the future CMO/CCOs.' Amanda Goetz, founder and CEO at House of Wise, says, 'I can't believe people still think of social as a 'channel' or 'side hustle.' SMMs are the future CMOs. They understand user insights, positioning and brand marketing like no one else.' Ms. Wallace provide the skills to look for in a social media manager - (1) Creative strategy and channel-assessment capabilities (2) Short-form writing and storytelling (3) Community management (4) Internal communication. Read on...

Entrepreneur: Social-Media Managers Are the Next Generation of CMOs
Author: Tracey Wallace


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 may 2021

Social entrepreneurs are impacting the world by doing good in various fields. Here is the list of 40 social entrepreneurs that stood out and are to be followed in 2021 - (1) Ruben Harris (Founder of Career Karma): Career Karma is a member of Y Combinator's 2019 class and since then has been helping people that want to become software engineers by matching them with the right coding bootcamp and supporting them throughout their careers. (2) Robert Luo (Founder of Mi Terro): Mi Terro is a biotechnology company that reengineers leftover milk into sustainable fibers that can replace plastic in the fashion, medical and packaging industries. (3) Tiila Abbitt (Founder of Aether Beauty): Aether Beauty is a cosmetics and beauty products company with focus on clean organic cosmetics and sustainable packaging promoting zero waste concept. (4) Bonnie Gringer (Founder of Sharethelovely): Sharethelovely is reimagining wedding shopping through a multi-sided resale marketplace providing consumers and the bridal industry sustainable products and services for fairytale weddings at a fraction of the cost. Through an online concierge resale model with an offline 'try-before-you-buy” shopping option, it is bridging the online and offline shopping experience critical to brides. (5) Topaz Smith (Founder of EN-NOBLE): EN-NOBLE, by using an international network of independent travel suppliers, offers customers the opportunity to experience local cultures, safe in the knowledge that their money is also strengthening those communities: the company pledges 1% of its revenue will be be reinvested with local partners. (6) Quinn Fitzgerald and Sara Dickhaus de Zarraga (Founders of Flare): Flare makes beautifully designed, modern safety jewelry that empowers wearers to get out of uncomfortable situations at the push of a button. Each piece of jewelry has a hidden button that triggers text messages and GPS tracking to friends, a pre-recorded call to your phone, or even connecting with the police. (7) Brendan Brazier and Mark McTavish (Founders of Pulp Culture): Pulp Culture is a healthy alcohol brand that blends alcoholic beverages that use 100% raw, fresh juices that naturally ferment over three months. Called 'wild fermentation', the result is a zero-additive, zero-sugar, bone-dry beverage with 6 billion naturally-occurring probiotics, B vitamins, and 4.9% ABV. (8) Dinesh Tadpalli (Founder of incrEDIBLE): incrEDIBLE is the first company to mass-produce edible cutlery and help alleviate waste from 100 million plastic utensils used every day in America. (9) Alexandre Koiransky (Founder of FAIR): FAIR is a spirit brand on a mission to support farmers in developing economies for the last decade. When you buy Fairtrade certified spirits, it makes sure that workers who grow the crops are paid a fair price. Fairtrade standards promote direct and meaningful impact within key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) areas. (10) Shireen Jaffer (Founder of Edvo): Edvo is a venture-backed startup in Los Angeles that empowers people with the tools to think better and live better. It provide the tools for a life full of meaningful learning, critical thinking, and better results. (11) Maya Mutalik (Founder of Hope Sews): Hope Sews is an impact-driven fashion brand that creates contemporary clothing made from artisanal fabrics from around the world and provides women entrepreneurs in developing communities with the resources they need to grow their businesses. (12) Garik Himebaugh (Eco-Stylist): Eco-Stylist is an online marketplace for eco-conscious and ethically made men's clothing. Everything at Eco-Stylist is eco-friendly, socially responsible, and ethically sourced. At Eco-Stylist all ethical and sustainable brands are first researched with Remake’s sustainable brand criteria. (13) Laura Alexander and Liza Moiseeva (Founder of Brightly): The Brightly platform focuses on brand + product recommendations, actionable + research content, and authentic community connections to empower people to make a difference for the planet. (14) Abdullah Choudhry (Co-founder of Arbor): Arbor is a platform that brings conscious information to consumers at the forefront of purchasing. Arbor helps users patronize companies that align with their values. (15) David Simnick and Daniel Doll (Founders of Soapbox): Soapbox is a company whose mission is to empower customers with the ability to change the world through everyday, quality purchases. For every product sold, the company gives back through bar soaps, health, and hygiene initiatives in communities both domestically and around the globe. (16) Julia Pennington and Allison Lange (Founder of Hera The Dog Vodka): Hera The Dog Vodka is crafted from 100% organic wheat non-GMO distilled 7 times slow-filtered using gravity through walnut husk carbon distilled. The founders have devised a more sustainable way to raise funds for animals in need and to help these driven, boots on the ground rescue organizations. When they formed the benefit corporation, Animal Spirits, they also created the Animal Spirits Foundation as a separate non-profit entity. A percentage of the funds raised through the sale of Animal Spirits’ products will be donated to the Animal Spirits Foundation to help support rescue groups, sanctuaries and individuals needing help with their four-legged family member through financial grants. (17) Spencer Arnold and Tim Hollinger (Founders of Bathing Culture): Bathing Culture is designed for the adventurous, the design-driven, and the sustainably-minded. Featuring everything that bathing ritual needs, the collection is highlighted by its hero product, the Mind and Body Wash - an organic, biodegradable, all-purpose and concentrated soap. They use plastic bottles made from 100% pre-existing recycled material. (18) Adila Coker (Founder of The Good Tee & Source My Garment): 'Source My Garment' is an essential book written on how to responsibly offshore manufacturing. The Good Tee's mission is to make it easier for any size brand to sell responsibly made products. The Good Tee is a collection of sustainable basics which are a blank canvas for brands to print on. The Good Tee champions responsible manufacturing - slower production schedules, ethical working conditions, and fair deals for all. It has a Fairtrade certification. (19) Kathy Hannun (Co-founder of Dandelion Energy): Dandelion Energy is the largest residential geothermal company in the US. Dandelion transitions homeowners from fossil-fueled to geothermal heating and cooling using their custom geothermal drilling suite and Dandelion Air heat pump. (20) Paul Shapiro (Founder of Better Meat Co.): The Better Meat Co. is creating the future of food sustainability through technology and cellular agriculture. He is the author of the national bestseller 'Clean Meat: How Growing Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner and the World'. (21) Dr. Lydiah Kemunto Bosire (Founder of 8B Education Investments): 8B Education Investments is a fin-tech company that aims to facilitate affordable financing to African students in leading global universities. (22) Jonny Crowder (Founder of Cope Notes): Cope Notes sends daily mental health support via text message to the subscriber in order to help train their brain to combat negativity, stress, anxiety, anger, and doubt. All the texts are written by peer support advocates, so these are people with lived experience with hardship or trauma, illness, and loss. (23) Chami Akmeemana (Founder of Blockchain Learning Group and Convergence): Convergence has successfully deployed several blockchain projects in the developing world to connect individuals to simple human rights and create new businesses in areas never thought possible. (24) Priya Prakash (Founder of HealthSetGo): HealthSetGo integrates technology and health care to empower parents, schools, and governments to make data-driven decisions to improve the health and lives of children. (25) Roberto Milk (Co-founder of NOVICA): NOVICA is a marketplace for artisans and features the work of more than 20000 artisans for sale, improving the economic prospects of artists in some of the world's most remote areas. Showcasing their products on NOVICA, offers artisans fair prices, no binding contracts and the freedom to make a success of their craft by building a sustainable business. NOVICA also gives artisans access to no interest microcredit loans that help build their businesses. NOVICA has empowered global artisans through greater access to international customers, freedom to set their own prices, and the ability to focus on their craft, creating a visible and profound impact on the communities around them. (26) Ryan Shearman (Co-founder of Aether Diamonds): Aether is a public benefit corporation that extracts harmful CO2 from the atmosphere and transforms it into valuable raw materials and consumer products. (27) Lucy Ashman (Founder of Tierra & Lava): Tierra & Lava produces skincare products using only purest form of ingredients (aka just whole plants and minerals). It now offers over 70 natural products with no fillers and only natural preservatives. (28) Matt McPheely (Partner of Chapel): Chapel is a 43000 sq ft office, event, and restaurant space in the heart of a mill village community with a mission of changing the way real estate projects are financed, built, and operated, as a force for good in the neighborhoods. Working with the community is the focus and will include job training, investment into local entrepreneurs, providing a safe space for kids, and offering our flex space as a resource for the neighborhood. (29) Chad Hickey (Founder of Givsly): Givsly is a for-purpose company built around the belief that as the world around us evolves, so should our options to create social impact. Givsly turns business meetings into opportunities to support the favorite nonprofits. Givsly platform introduces a portfolio of ways for professionals to give back, while doing business. (30) Ian Rosenberger (Founder First Mile and Day Owl): First Mile has redirected over 96 Million plastic bottles from landfills and the ocean and transformed them into consumer goods for global brands trying to find value in authenticity, transparency, and responsibility. Day Owl is a direct-to-consumer brand that has created a backpack out of First Mile materials that the team feels will prepare everyone to take on the world. (31) Yasmin Grigaliunas (Co-founder of World's Biggest Garage Sale): World's Biggest Garage Sale is activating the circular economy and resource recovery of dormant goods for good, powered by purpose to provide meaningful employment and pathways for disadvantaged youth. (32) Christian Shearer (Co-founder of Regen Network): Regen Network is an ecological agreements platform working to accelerate the adoption of Regenerative Agriculture. The platform is serving to align economics with ecology to drive regenerative land management. (33) Reese Fernandez-Ruiz (Co-founder of Rags2Riches): Rags2Riches's (R2R) focus is on community sourcing, community-based weaving, and sustainable market access. In addition to providing a sustainable livelihood for partner community artisans, R2R has also co-developed an artisan academy, a savings and micro-insurance program, and opportunities for full-time employment. (34) Margaret Andriassian (Founder of Life Originelle): Life Originelle is a shopping platform where women can shop from beautiful small businesses, and support a cause, all in one transaction. As an impact based shopping website, Life Originelle donates 10% of their proceeds from each order to their cause of the season. Read on...

CauseArtist: 40 Social Entrepreneurs to Watch for in 2021
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 may 2021

Online retail has been consistently eating into the share of brick-and-mortar retail. COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the decline of physical retail in US due to numerous lockdowns, restrictions, social distancing norms, consumer behavior changes etc, and it is struggling for survival. Michelle Greenwald, CEO of Catalyzing Innovation, provides reasons for this decline that will continue to happen even beyond the pandemic - (1) Fewer stores and farther to travel. (2) Retail store experience worsening because space is being devoted to fulfilling online orders. (3) With a lower percent of sales coming from physical retail, allocation of items and sizes to stores can be less, hence it can be harder to find what you hoped to walk out with. (4) Fewer random/unplanned impulse store visits from passing by. (5) Corporate resource/investments are increasingly focusing on further improving online experiences, at the expense of retail. (6) Making stores truly experiential is costly, and hard to justify for many locations. (7) Retail is no longer expected to pay for itself. It's viewed by many as a marketing awareness investment. (8) Muscle memory and post COVID traumatic stress associations make many think twice about shopping in crowded stores. (9) Less in-person retail can reduce the ease of discovering new items. Key Insights - Digital experience is important and it needs to replicate positive in-person experiences; Products might need to limit endless SKU proliferation and focus on fewer, surer bets; Physical stores need to be more exciting and attractive with great locations, venues for events, product sampling, demos etc; In-store customer experience shoud not be effected by online order fulfilment from physical store. Read on...

Forbes: 9 Reasons Why The Future For U.S. Retail Is Dim
Author: Michelle Greenwald


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 may 2021

Architecture is a continuously evolving field, and with technology it is re-inventing itself. Innovation is at the core of architectural design. To stay competitive, architects have to keep on learning new technologies and processes, and innovate. Start-up and entrepreneurship culture is now getting into architecture. Architects are finding innovative solutions and experimenting with new ideas and aiming to develop entrepreneurial ventures. Here are few examples of architects that have pursued entrepreneurship - (1) Eric Reinholdt: Owns a YouTube channel '30 x 40 Design Workshop' with 800k subscribers provides general insight into the world of architecture. He also experiments with alternative modes of practice like selling floor plans by the bundle or selling AUTOCAD and SketchUp drawing templates on his website. He has also written a book 'Architect + Entrepreneur' that provides insights into starting a design business. (2) Safia Qureshi: An architect, designer, and environmentalist, founded CupClub in 2015. CupClub is a tailored, end-to-end returnable packaging service that helps to reduce single-use plastic packaging. CupClub's cups can by used 132 times before they are recycled. Her architectural training has been a catalyst in creating this socially responsible business. (3) Clifton Harness (Architect) and Ryan Griege (Software Developer): Founded TestFit, a software tool that streamlines the design process of projects. The software is capable of providing site and urban configurations based on real-world variables, solving geometry based on constraints such as building codes. competing variables and constraints such as building codes. TestFit is an example of collaborative entrepreneurship between an architect and technologist. Providing entrepreneurship education to architects and designers, and cross-disciplinary collaborations will pave the way for creating innovative solutions and developing entrepreneurial ventures. Read on...

ArchDaily: The Potential of Architects in Entrepreneurship
Author: Matthew Maganga


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 apr 2021

COVID-19 pandemic has brought numerous changes in how businesses go about their processes to create and deliver products and services to their customers. New trends are emerging in digital marketing too. While experts suggest to better what already exists in terms of digital marketing but they also hint at technology enabled shifts particularly with advancements in artificial intelligence. Having elaborate content strategy combined with data will remain a major trend along with focus on omni-channel marketing. Digital customer strategy will continue to be a must in the post-pandemic scenario. Here is what digital marketing experts recommend - (1) Martin Luenendonk (Co-Founder of FounderJar): Companies need to be everywhere. More businesses are focusing on omnichannel marketing and becoming less dependent on one single traffic and revenue driver. (2) Denise Langenegger (Outreach Strategist at Instasize): Focus on stories. Make use of all features of stories options on various social media platforms. The stories format allows brands and marketers to be more candid and post as much as they want. (3) Sandra Chung (Sr. Content Marketing and Partnerships Manager at PlayPlay): Repurpose existing video content for social media. Empower internal teams to create video content. Customer case studies and product tutorials can be transformed into engaging video stories. (4) Olena Zherebetska (Content Manager at Pics.io): Invest in digital asset management software. This will help you access, organize, and distribute assets easily. Some features include meta-tagging, AI-powered technology, advanced search capabilities, shareable public websites etc. (5) Lukas Mehnert (CMO at Smartlook): Focus on your own unique data for content marketing. Choose the unique content produced by the company or hire specialists who will help master this process. Make it properly distributed in the appropriate channels. Utilize industry influencers to spread the content through win-win relationships. (6) David Cacik (Head of Marketing at CloudTalk): High quality content enriched with structure data will rule search engines. Follow Google's guidelines for creating a website structure and creating content. Google assesses content according to the E-A-T methodology (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness). (7) Kristina Ziauke (Content Manager at sixads): Voice search, AI and personalization will be key. Optimize written content for voice searches, implement more and more AI features on the websites like chatbots, product and content recommendations, e-commerce transactions etc. (8) George Mathews (Founder at Kamayobloggers): Artificial Intelligence will change digital marketing forever in 2021. Communication, product recommendations and personalization are all going to be more targeted thanks to AI. (9) Raul Galera (Partner Manager at CandyBar): Focus on retention. Three main risks that online merchants will have to face in 2021 are - (i) the continued growth of online marketplaces (ii) the rise of ad costs (iii) the massive competition in the ecommerce space. Explore areas like subscription options and loyalty points to keep your clients engaged with your brand. Create an omnichannel approach to connect with customers who have found about brand in marketplace. (10) Andrzej Bieda (CMO at Landingi): Continue to nurture and educate your customers. Develop well-functioning marketing funnels, lead magnets, webinars, and sales processes. (11) Maciej Biegajewski (Digital Marketing Specialist at LiveWebinar): Predefined personalization in all digital engagement. Create various patterns (they can be service patterns, advertisements, messages, or even the appearance of the entire online store) that seem to suit this one customer, but have been defined earlier, and now only substitute the collected data and present the recipient. (12) Olga Petrik (CMO at NetHunt CRM): Trust and credibility are more important than ever. Pay more attention to loyalty and retention by developing customer success program. Utilize influencers. Create offers and run campaigns for micro-segments. Address highly-targeted pain points to trigger more responses. Neal Schaffer, founder of the digital marketing consultancy PDCA Social and teaches executives digital marketing at Rutgers Business School and the Irish Management Institute, says, 'Use social media for customer and influencer collaboration, not promotion...reimagine your digital relationships with your customers and celebrate them in social media...over time companies should try their best to source the type of user-generated content from their fans and nano influencers that generates trust and credibility with the public.' Read on...

ClickZ: 2021 digital marketing trends you need to know from 13 marketing experts
Author: Neal Schaffer


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 mar 2021

According to a survey by The Conference Board, 61% of major global companies spent more on philanthropy in 2020 than budgeted, with 58% of respondents using incremental funds for COVID-19 efforts, and 54% of respondents using incremental funds to help address racism in the US. Moreover, more than 2/3rd of the surveyed companies said they plan to maintain or increase their total level of giving in 2021. A 2017 Cone Communications CSR study found that 87% of respondents will purchase a product because a company stood behind an issue they cared about. And a 2016 Cone Communications study on millennial employee engagement found that 64% of millennials consider a company's social and environmental commitments when choosing a workplace. There is a win-win relationship when corporates focus on long-term social and community involvement. This activity benefits communities and helps improve and build brand value, and also achieve business objectives. Cheryl Goodman, Head of Corporate Communications/Corporate Social Responsibility at Sony, provides key steps that needs to be taken for strategic long-term CSR - (1) Identify Causes To Support: For strategic CSR choose causes to support that reflect company's ethos. Determine tangible societal benefits of the CSR efforts. There need to be a correlation between the beneficiary of the CSR efforts and the business that company is involved in. Survey employees to find causes to support. This helps employee to be more involved and engaged in the charitable efforts as they feel heard. (2) Determine Proper Structures To Achieve Success: To determie the structure, companies should think diligently what will make a long-term impact on communities. Companies should have systems in place to measure the impact and success of their efforts. Quantitative key performance indicators (KPIs) won't reveal themselves immediately, but qualitative measures are essential from the beginning. Companies should evaluate their resources and determine time and financial commitment they will be able to make to achieve desired outcomes. (3) Give Nonprofit Partners Space To Lead: Create an action plan to work with nonprofit partners. Develop trust and understanding with these partners, as they have experience working on the ground and know better how to serve communities. Collaborate early, communicate often and support each other authentically to achieve desired outcomes of the charitable efforts. (4) Get The Good News Out Without Missing The Mark: Secure strategic press coverage by involving the right internal and external stakeholders. Involve the right people from the company and nonprofit that can deliver the message right, and establish solid relationships with members of the media. Messaging should also include any relevant data points and stories that help explain why the cause is pressing. (5) Practice Humility And Transparency: By exercising humility, companies can decrease the likelihood of appearing opportunistic. Read on...

Forbes: How Companies Can Strategically Build Purposeful Corporate Social Responsibility Programs In Five Steps
Author: Cheryl Goodman


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 feb 2021

For startups, often struggling with resources and looking for more funds, investing in PR is a difficult but essential decision to be made with a well thought out plan. COVID-19 has further exacerbated the challenge in this conundrum. But in the new year, most businesses are now able to adapt to the new normal and are looking towards growth of their businesses. Last year, they were more cautious towards PR as the countries were entangled in COVID-19 and most news coverage was focused towards overcoming the situation. Moreover, companies were finding it difficult to pitch brand-specific stories with a fear of negative backlash. Some companies shifted to thought-leadership approach in the PR campaigns during this period. Jenna Guarneri, founder and CEO of JMG Public Relations, shares her experience in leading a startup focused PR firm and suggests ways to effectively handle PR. She insists that startups should have PR strategy in place and good PR can help with investors, increase backlinks to the website, increase brand awareness and help companies claim the title of 'the first of their kind'. PR is important for new businesses as it helps in improving their image and facilitates products/services selling. To achieve effectiveness in PR, whether in-house or outsourced, long-term consistent approach is the key. Relationships with media are not made overnight and require time and patience. With limited resources, startups must try to obtain high return on PR investments and they can get it by leaving their PR strategy in expert hands. But founders should not totally disengage themselves from it and should continue to have strategic involvement in it through good communication exchange, building comfortable relationships, understanding the PR processes, staying accessible to PR team and making PR a strategic priority for the business's growth. Read on...

Forbes: Why Startups Need A PR Strategy (And How To Make It A Success)
Author: Jenna Guarneri


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 jan 2021

Forrester's SiriusDecisions 2020 Metrics Study looked at metrics that B2B marketing leaders use on their company's CMO dashboard to manage performance and found valuable insights regarding the state of B2B marketing today and provides a perspective on how successful companies focus on performance measurement. HIGHLIGHTS OF THE STUDY - (1) Leadership Attention Is Precious: On average, 8 metrics on the dashboards need consistent review, emphasizing to focus on metrics that summarize marketing's value. Prioritize metrics that highlight marketing's performance against key growth strategies. (2) Sourcing Metrics Continue To Dominate: Marketing-sourced revenue and marketing-sourced pipeline are two most commonly focused metrics, emphasizing that marketing organizations are utilizing more energy to manage their ability to sources net-new opportunities. But sourcing isn't well aligned with many of the go-to-market strategies B2B organizations are embracing. With declining sourcing rates across the industry there is a need for marketing leaders to quickly diversify the metrics they use to more comprehensively capture the contribution of their function. (3) CMOs Aren't Emphasizing Lead Metrics: Less than a quarter of organizations focus on lead volumes and conversion rates. The concern is that these metrics exist within top 10 metrics used at B2B organizations, but these metrics drop out of top 10 for organizations with high rates of revenue growth (greater than 10%/year). (4) High-Growth Companies Focus More On The Customer Lifecycle: Low-growth companies (less than 5%/year) emphasize more on measuring demand metrics but high-growth ones focus on metrics that describe value created during the customer lifecycle (e.g., retention rates, customer lifetime value, customer satisfaction, customer advocacy). (5) Top Performers Are Minding Cost Efficiency: At high-performance companies customer acquisition costs and cost of efficiency of demand generation were used on 27% and 23% respectively, while only 5% and 9% for low-growth ones. This points out at the need for marketing organizations to utilize the resources entrusted to them most efficiently to be accountable contributors to growth. Read on...

Forrester: What B2B Marketing Leaders Are Measuring: Five Key Takeaways
Author: Ross Graber


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 dec 2020

Logos are a brief visual representaion of the organizational identity and help differentiate them from each other. They assist to instantly recognize brands and over a period of time can become one of the most important component of their identity. Traditionally, organizations utilize the services of graphic designers to get their logos and the process has artistic and creative orientation. But now powered with technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), there are online logo design software tools that can design logos instantly once some specifications are submitted. These tools also provide editing and customization features. Technology is transforming the creative field of logo design into a more scientific one. Research paper, 'Letting Logos Speak: Leveraging Multiview Representation Learning for Data-Driven Logo Design' (SSRN, 25 nov 2019) (Authors: Ryan Dew of Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Asim M. Ansari of Columbia Business School at the Columbia University, Olivier Toubia of Columbia Business School at the Columbia University), proposes a more data-driven approach to logo design in which the authors developed a 'logo feature extraction algorithm' that uses modern image processing tools to break a company's logo into many visual constituent parts like font, color scheme, and many other meaningful features, and a multiview representation learning framework that links the visual components to text that describes the company like industry, value propositions etc. Researchers then applied this framework to a large amount of data available on companies to predict their logo features. Prof. Ryan Dew explains, 'There are things that data and models can say about the design process that can help firms develop brand identities - visual brand identities that are doing the right things for them...we looked at hundreds of different logos, and we also looked at a bunch of textual data describing these firms - taken mostly from the firms' websites. And we also got consumers to react to these logos and the textual descriptions by rating these firms according to what's called a 'brand personality scale'...we developed an algorithm that lets us work with logos as a source of data. We call this our 'logo feature extraction algorithm'...and then we also have all this text, which can be anything...It conveys what the firm does and what their brand is...The idea is, we want to link these two domains to try to get the words to describe what the logo is trying to say. Let the logo speak. Conversely, this is actually how the design process works. You start with a textual blurb describing - 'This is what my brand is. This is what my firm does'. And then you go from that to a logo — to a logo template. This is where the concept of data-driven design comes in. We both, in the first sense, are able to use text to understand logos, but in the second sense, we're able to go from text to new logo templates that will let firms develop logos that are consistent with their brand identities...a more fundamental thing that the current paper can address is this idea of coming up with the 'right template' to convey what you want to convey visually. That is, in some sense, firms should be a little cautious when they're designing logos...understanding these templates and having this model of data-driven design can help with the creative process, to come up with new redesigns or new logos that will excel.' Read on...

Knowledge@Wharton: Why a Data-driven Approach Can Enhance the Art of Logo Design
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 dec 2020

Corporate volunteering is an important part of employee development with a reason to facilitate their engagement with local communities and to demonstrate corporation's social commitments. Currently there is special focus on corporate social responsibility and many organizations are pursuing it as an essential component of their strategy. According to the 2020 Deloitte Global Millennial Survey, employees have been re-examining the companies they work for with an eye toward purpose and impact on society. Research suggests that businesses benefit when they integrate employee volunteering programs with corporate giving, and these programs improve employee satisfaction, foster employee engagement, and boost retention. Macquarie University Graduate School of Management (Australia) research study undertaken as part of the MGSM Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Partnership Network, led by Dr. Debbie Haski-Leventhal, found that 93% of employees who volunteer through their company report being happy with their employer, and 54% of those who are proud of their company's contributions to society are engaged at work. In August 2019, the Business Roundtable (US) redefined their statement on the purpose of a corporation from a shareholder only focus to a larger commitment to stakeholders - customers, employees, suppliers, communities, and shareholders. Beth Bengtson, CEO and Founder of Working for Women, provides an approach to establish corporate volunteering programs with a long-term focus and avoid short-term 'once-and-done' experiences. She explains, 'This new approach requires having your team help a nonprofit solve organizational or operational challenges and/or deliver specialized resources to the population served by the nonprofit. This involves identifying a nonprofit where your employees can lend their skills and expertise over a designated period of time or on a series of connected events...In this strategic model, a tangible and sustained relationship is created between the corporate and nonprofit partners...The result in this model is that mutually beneficial skill-based volunteering adds up to a quadruple win when done right. Purposeful partnerships allow for impact to be measurable for all parties involved.' She developed following guidelines at her organization, Working for Women, - Identify and match the needs and the skills on both sides; Once there's a well-defined project and two willing partners, develop a detailed brief for each engagement; Do the work to understand what your nonprofit partner does and who they serve; Measure impact after each engagement, and before planning next steps; Replicate and scale as needed. Read on...

Harvard Business Review: Reimagine Your Corporate Volunteer Program
Author: Beth Bengtson


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 dec 2020

Organizations now have large amount of data available to them, but the challenge is to obtain actionable insights by using right data analytics tools and processes that help in making right organizational decisions. Data-driven decision-making has become a common practice with organizations trying to find purpose for the data. But it is not necessary that all analytics processes answer the right questions and it's also not a safeguard against the influence of preexisting beliefs and incentives. Prof. Bart de Langhe of Esade - Ramon Llull University (Spain) and Prof. Stefano Puntoni of Rotterdam School of Management at Erasmus University (Netherlands) propose a new approach termed as 'decision-driven data analytics' - 'Find data for a purpose, instead of finding a purpose for data.' They explain, 'Data-driven decision-making anchors on available data. This often leads decision makers to focus on the wrong question. Decision-driven data analytics starts from a proper definition of the decision that needs to be made and the data that is needed to make that decision...Data-driven decision-making empowers data providers and data scientists. The risk is that decision makers take data that is consistent with their preexisting beliefs at face value.' Elaborating their approach, they say, 'To move to a decision-driven data analytics approach, a company must start by identifying the business’s key decisions and the people who make them, and finding data for a purpose rather than finding a purpose for the data at hand.' Data-driven Data Analytics (Anchor on data that is available; Find a purpose for data; Start from what is known; Empower data scientists). Decision-driven Data Analytics (Anchor on a decision to be made; Find data for a purpose; Start from what is unknown; Empower decision makers). To allay fears of executives who might confuse decision-driven approach with preference-driven data analytics (where decision makers use data to support a decision that has already been made and fall prey to confirmation bias), authors suggest leaders to take three important steps - Step I: Responsibility of decision makers to form a narrow consideration set of alternative courses of action. Step II: Joint responsibility of decision makers and data scientists to identify the data needed to figure out which course of action is best. Step III: Choose the best course of action. Read on...

MIT Sloan Management Review: Leading With Decision-Driven Data Analytics
Authors: Bart de Langhe, Stefano Puntoni


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 15 dec 2020

Motivation is an engine or fuel that is associated with human nature and is free to achieve success and reach a better stage in life. Motivation is a catalyst for better change. It brings a transformation in human beings from the state of lethargy, procrastination and avoidance to the state of thinking, action, creation, and success. Humans have many aspects of life where they need motivation - personal life, student life, work/professional life, social life etc. Every moment of life requires optimal amount of motivation to enjoy the moment. Lack of it makes the moment dull and useless, and eventually lead to disappointments and finally to the more disastrous state of depression. From childhood to youth to old age - motivation is one thing that can keep one together psychologically and survive crises of life and come out of them without regrets and live a life of fulfilment, happiness and success. In present time, depressive environment created by COVID-19 pandemic is demotivating in many ways. Stay at home, work from home, study at home etc have become the new normal. Restrictions have become part of life which people have not been used to before at such a massive scale. This has put people in a totally different psychological state. People have to self motivate to get on with the current situation and to remain efficient and productive, and above all happy and satisfied. Motivation has become the topic that is on everyone's mind. Experts consider motivation as an internal state or condition (sometimes described as a need, desire or want) that serves to activate or energize behavior and give it direction. There are various theories of motivation categorized as - Behavioral; Cognitive: Psychoanalytic; Humanistic: Social Learning; Social Cognition; Transpersonal or Spiritual; Achievement Motivation and others. Keeping oneself motivated with an internal drive and goal setting is the best recipe to accomplishment and well-being. In a learning environment motivation of student is an important component that determines learning outcomes. Motivation in education can have varied impact on how students pursue learning and how they behave towards subjects, courses, classes and online lectures. In a work/business environment motivation of employees is key to the success of the organization. Leadership and management have to keep teams motivated to give results and enhance value of the organization and keep shareholders and customers satisfied. Employees need motivation to increase productivity at workplace. To solve real world problems, it becomes essential to engage people in the process and motivation can be key to align them towards the achievable goals. Empowering people by applying principles of motivation and providing them genuine purpose can help them attain value and meaning not only to their own lives but can also bring positive change to their environment and world. Read on...

ilmeps/read: Motivation - It Keeps People Going To A Better State In Life And Overcome Adverse Situations
Author: Mohammad Anas Wahaj


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 nov 2020

Industrial designers earlier carved foam, machined wood, and molded clay to test ideas, refine designs, and get product concepts to clients. This process was slow and labor-intensive. Now 3D printing is preferred for this as it is simpler and faster. Nathan Pollock, founder of Katapult Design (Byron Bay, Australia), says, 'In my career, I've seen 3D printers go from being a bit of a novelty, to an expensive tool, to more of an essential part of design services. Greater reliability, better UX, and much better quality have all had a big impact on acceptance.' David Block, principal of Studio Redeye (New York, US), says, 'At this time, in product design, 3D printing has become a tool of the trade.' Jonathan Thai, co-founder and partner of HatchDuo (San Francisco, US), says, 'If you do not have a 3D printer, and you are in the product development space, you are behind.' 3D printing accelerates the product design process. Mr. Pollock says, 'The top advantage is primarily the speed. We can get quick, concept-level evaluations and adjust or refine our thinking immediately. Not just proofs of concepts, 3D printers can deliver functional mechanical parts and intricate multi-component prototypes. Oscar Daws, director of Tone Product Design (London, UK), says, 'We print everything from quick block models to test the form and proportions of a design, through to high-fidelity working prototypes that allow us to perfect a detail or a mechanism. 3D printing allows us to rapidly iterate complex shapes and accurate details, which means we don’t have to compromise on the design of a prototype in order to physically test it.' Lucas Lappe, partner at Doris Dev (New York, US), says, 'In-house 3D printers enable us to show clients physical representations of their future products and the design engineering work we have completed to date. 3D printers have kept us ahead of the competition, and without 3D printed prototypes, clients often do not understand where their products are in development.' Sanandan 'Sandy' Sudhir, CEO of Inventindia Innovations (India), 'We use 3D printed parts very early in our design process to make some quick proof of concept models, and, at a later stage, for more refined parts to assemble the first-level functional prototypes.' Industrial design firms don't have to own 3D printers and can outsource 3D printing services. Ian Peterman, CEO of Peterman Design (Los Angeles, US), says, 'In the longer term, in-house printing should save you some in print costs, and really save you shipping costs for all those parts, and lead times.' Designers may still outsource 3D printing due to complexity, but some experts believe it is no longer an issue. Mr. Lappe says, 'Every engineer at the company is trained to manage the 3D printers. This gives everyone who designs and is working with 3D printed prototypes and understanding of the process.' There are various 3D printing technologies and printer brands that offer different advantages and disadvantages in terms of available materials, the quality of the final printed parts, ease of use, printing speed, and cost. Mr. Daws says, 'Carefully consider what you will be using it for, as this will have a big impact on the technology you choose. For industrial designers, I'd suggest starting with a high quality FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) printer, which will allow you to do most things quickly and relatively cheaply.' Mr. Sudhir says, 'We prefer to use normal FDM printers for preliminary proof of concept models so that we can do quick and dirty prints and test our ideas.' Mr. Lappe says, 'Buy something that everyone on your team can use. Something that is easy and does not require a dedicated technician. That allows more people to use the printer and makes it a part of everyone's workflow.' SLA (Stereolithography), a raisin printer, is another type of printer popular with industrial designers. These produce finer details and smoother surfaces than FDM. Mr. Sudhir says, 'SLA printers are good for using transparent materials to understand fit and finish related issues as well as mechanical interference with the internal parts. But generally SLA parts are brittle, so they are not appropriate for simulating the exact material properties of plastic parts.' Experts expect further improvements in 3D printing technologies to suit the needs of industrial designers. Read on...

All3DP: How Industrial Designers Embrace 3D Printing
Author: Carolyn Schwaar


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 nov 2020

An effective advertising pitch along with an innovative idea and solid foundation is what it takes to come closer to landing a client for a marketing agency. Six experts from Ad Age Collective provide advice to develop a successful pitch - (1) Explain who you are and don't sell: Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive - '...they help the prospective client find the best match for their business. Winning a pitch isn't really a win if the relationship isn't a long-term fit between partners and peers.' (2) Lead with the result: Patrick Ward, Rootstrap - '...they (audience) care about what the product can do for them. So focus on the result that will accrue for the audience. Tap into FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) so they will see what they lose by not purchasing the product.' (3) Understand all the stakeholders: Maggie O'Neill, Peppercomm - '...what drives their path to purchase or engagement...You need to know what, when and where their audience wants to hear from them. This audience-first mindset will set up and provide the rationale for any strategy, and creativity that follow.' (4) Focus on building consumer connection: Dan Beltramo, Onclusive - '...clearly convey that you understand what motivates the consumer or customer relative to the objective of the campaign and how your recommendation delivers against that...' (5) Explain how you're solving a particular problem: Duran Inci, Optimum7 - '...Give them a reason to pay attention to you and hear you out. Tell them how you are going to solve a particular problem and why it matters to your audience...' (6) Provide examples of similar campaigns: Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner - '...collect examples of previous ad campaigns that are similar and to present the results. Another option is to find data about your target market and why they would respond positively to your ad...' Read on...

AdAge: Six Essential Steps To An Effective Advertising Pitch
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 oct 2020

Sales people often learn their skills on the field by continuous improvement and by tweaking their sales processes for effectiveness every time they interact with their prospective customers. But organizations have to create and nurture their sales teams through structured and proactive approach to sales training to sharpen and further refine their skills. Sales training need to be a frequent event to keep the team in right mindset and updated skillset, and clear focus on accomplishing the organizational sales goals. Sales training helps to improve skills and it is a source of motivation and inspiration. Interactions with peers and mentors during training also involves learning through sharing of experiences. Research by Sales Readiness Group shows that companies who had excellent sales training programs that exceeded expectations had higher win rates at 52.6% compared to companies that either met expectations 48% or needed improvement 40.5%. Organizations can consider three types of sales training based on their requirement - (1) Sales Skill Training (2) Sales Methodology Training (3) Product Training. Following are 20 best sales training activities, ideas, and games to enhance sales team effectiveness - Embrace Field Training; Craft a Great Incentive Strategy; Hold 1:1 Meetings; Improve Your Processes; Ramp Up Your New Employee Onboarding; Shift to Assessment-Based Learning; Institute Daily Micro-Training; Assign Mentors to New or Struggling Sales Team Members; Do Group Training the Right Way; Offer Feedback Often; Listen to and Analyze Sales Call Recordings; Conduct a Competitive Analysis; Encourage Certifications; Have Your Team Do Objection Handling Exercises; Provide Subscriptions to Industry Newsletters, Podcasts, and Publications; Display or Present Your Buyer's Journey; Play Sales Training Games; Focus on Each of Your Sales Rep's Strengths; Bring in Outsiders; Identify the Red Flags of Bad Customers. Read on...

Business2Community: 20 Sales Training Ideas to Empower Your Team to Close More Deals
Author: Erika Giles


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 oct 2020

Pandemic, combined with politics in many countries, is creating uncertainty for both for-profits and nonprofits. In US, racial protests and electioneering, is adding to the instability. Philanthropic activity is at the crossroads and future seems uncertain. Understanding the change by analyzing past trends and anticipating the future by listening to the wisdom of experts can help nonprofits prepare better for their fundraising needs. PAST TRENDS: According to the 2019 survey of philanthropy 'Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy' - Individual giving remains the largest source of contributions (69%); Looking at growth in sources, corporate giving increased by 13.4% (includes gifts-in-kind), and giving by individuals increased by 4.7%; Recipient sectors who benefited most were ones where high-net-worth individuals tend to concentrate their giving, with public-society benefit increasing 13.1%, arts, culture, & humanities increasing 12.6%, and education increasing 12.1%; Philanthropy often thrives on economic results, and 2019 was a strong year with the S&P 500 increasing by roughly 29%, personal income growing by 4.4%, and GDP growing by 4.1%. But now 2020 is altogether a different year, with pandemic impact and struggling economy, the future holds uncertain challenges. FUTURE TRENDS: By utilizing Delphic Panel Approach, in which you ask to a team of experts to consider future questions and offer their opinions on likely outcomes based on their experience and insight, a select group of 20 fundraising experts share their predictions on philanthropy and fundraising in coming years. HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SURVEY: 61% were reasonably confident that philanthropy overall would grow during the next 3 years. A decline in giving is not likely to be long-lasting and there is hope for growth; 67% suggested that their organizations or clients would be investing more in fundraising during the next three years. Respondents were fairly evenly split regarding retaining fundraising staff and hiring more fundraisers. So, despite the short-term news of layoffs, there should be opportunities in development; Individual donors will continue to remain essential in future fundraising while no change or reduction is expected in other streams of fundraising revenue. Community/event fundraising will expect a reduction; Digital will be a main fundraising acquisition channel in which organizations are expected to spend. Other growth areas identified by the survey include DM (direct mail), DRTV (direct response television), and a resurgence in telemarketing. Print advertising channel is expected to retreat. Read on...

Nonprofit Quarterly: Crisis Crystal Ball: The Future of Fundraising?
Author: Alan R. Hutson Jr.


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 sep 2020

COVID-19 brought about changes in buyer behavior and retailers responded with tech-driven solutions to help them adapt to pandemic-driven restrictions. These solutions are not totally new, but current situation brought them to the fore. Three retail technology trends that became part of the 'new normal' are - (1) Online Grocery Delivery: Shutdowns, social distancing norms, fear of infections etc combined with essentiality of grocery requirements help exacerbate this trend. Even non-traditional retailers jumped on this trend. (2) Contactless Payment: According to the 2020 State of Retail Payments study released by the NRF in August, 58% of retailers accept contactless cards and 56% take digital wallet payments on mobile phones. Since January 2020, no-touch payments have increased for 69% of retailers surveyed, of whom 94% expect the increase to continue over the next 18 months. (3) Virtual SMB Product Pitches: Number of retail platforms invited small-to-mid-sized businesses (SMBs) to virtual competitions. COVID-19 brought about homogenization and consolidation of retail and only two types of retailers will survive in this scenario and beyond - the mass and the niche. Mass retailers can enhance their product offerings through SMBs and differentiate themselves from competitors. Read on...

Chain Store Age: Three hot retail tech trends from the summer of 'new normal'
Author: Dan Berthiaume


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 aug 2020

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been around in its various forms for many years. But now it is reaching a level of disruption in many industries and has potential to influence many more. There are major investments in AI with tech giants leading the pack. Businesses are seeing value in AI to make process improvements, enhance efficiencies etc to improve bottom line and at the same time there are concerns related to job losses. Even creative industries like graphic design, that require exceptional human skills to thrive are being significantly influenced by AI. Graphic design softwares are now AI-powered and can mimic human designers by understanding client requirements effectively. These may not not be emotion-powered like humans, but can provide outputs that are fast, affordable and customizable. Moreover, these softwares have their own limitations at this time and the role of designers is not becoming obsolete. In fact, on one side these tools are designed and developed by incorporating inputs from designers and on the other they are complementing and enhancing the capabilities of designers and assisting them to achieve even better outcomes. Following are some limitations of AI in graphic design - Understanding nuances that come naturally to humans; Originality of humans that is derived from being highly imaginative; Human touch that is needed as part of a personalized interactive experience. Read on...

ClickZ: The rise of AI in graphics design
Author: Carl Dean


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 aug 2020

Timing, as in most things in business and elsewhere, is the key to get the most effective and valuable outcome. Public relations for organizations and brands is no different in this regard. When and how much PR is needed requires diligent research and assessment. To avoid costly PR mistakes, April White, founder of Trust Relations, suggests ways to evaluate PR-readiness of a brand. She emphasises that both clients and PR professionals should assess the PR requirement for optimum results. She says, 'A brand is PR-ready when it has a great product, service or story to tell - and assets to support them.' Following are the 10 tips - (1) Professional website providing sufficient information is a must for credibility. (2) Clear brand positioning with defined mission statement, core values, SWOT analysis, competitive landscape etc. (3) Identified target audience to achieve business and marketing goals. (4) Expertise or thought leadership of executives running the company and their credibility to provide industry commentary and insight. (5) Professionally designed packaging to match with the stories brand wants to tell. (6) Supportive research about the product or service like market data, white paper on industry topic, survey regarding demand etc. (7) Dedicated and trained spokesperson to handle queries and interviews. (8) A client representative with the capacity to effectively manage a PR team and be a communication link. (9) Relevant and compelling content in the form of professional images, videos etc to share with the media. (10) Brand's ability to scale to meet the demand after the PR efforts are done for long-term value. Read on...

Forbes: When Is A Brand PR-Ready? 10 Things For Agencies And Clients To Have In Hand
Author: April White


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 aug 2020

Collaborative and coordinated efforts by multiple agencies and institutions are needed to manage, control and overcome a crisis like COVID-19 pandemic. Team from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is partnering with Commonwealth of Pennsylvania agencies and stakeholders in the areas of public health, economics, and emergency management, to create data-based tools for informed decision-making and strengthen planning efforts of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf to re-open the state's economy. Some of the main criteria to determine when a region is ready to re-open and return to work will include - The incidence rate of COVID-19 cases per capita will be evaluated and several public health requirements must be met; A region need to have an average of less than 50 cases per 100000 individuals over the course of 14 days to return to work; Enough testing available for individuals with symptoms and target populations; Robust case investigation and contact tracing infrastructure need to place; Identification of an area's high-risk settings must be made and would include adequate healthcare facilities with sufficient safeguards and equipments. The model dashboard developed through the collaboration will take a regional and sector-based approach to re-openings, the easing of restrictions and response. This data-driven decision support tool will help to better understand the current health and economic status, as well as the inherent risks and benefits to re-opening certain businesses and industry areas. Using data that considers worker exposure and spread risks, health care capacity, economic impact and supply chain impact, the administration will prioritize re-openings where it has the potential for the most positive impact on the economy for workers and businesses, while mitigating risk to public health and safety. Ramayya Krishnan, dean of CMU's Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy and director of CMU's Block Center for Technology and Society, says, 'The purpose is to provide important information to the governor's team to make data informed decision. For example, all indicators could point to opening a specific county, but other factors, such as population density around a hotspot, availability of supplies to ensure workers are protected, or Department of Health criteria could make the county unfit to open.' The multidisciplinary team from CMU involved in the project include - Laurence Ales; Kasun Amarasinghe; Scott Andes; Gary Franko; Rayid Ghani; Jared Kohler; Tim McNulty; Illah Nourbakhsh; Roni Rosenfeld; Randy Sargent; Richard A. Stafford; Chris Telmer; Anne Wright; Ariel Zetlin-Jones; Xuege Zhang. Other contrubutors to the project include - Beibei Li; Lee Branstetter; Jon Caulkins; Karen Clay; Baruch Fischhoff; Marty Gaynor; Joel Greenhouse; Po-Shen Loh; Dan Nagin; Rema Padman; Wes Pegden; Lowell Taylor; Hai Wang; Peter Zhang. Read on...

Carnegie Mellon University News: CMU Dashboard Will Help Inform State Decision-Makers During Pandemic
Author: Jason Maderer


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 jul 2020

For B2B marketing effectiveness segmentation is a reliable strategic tool. But with evolving B2B e-commerce marketplace traditional broad macrosegmentation may not suffice. According to the report, 'Microsegmentation Yields Contextual Customer Experiences That Convert' by Lori Wizdo (VP and principal analyst for B2B marketing at Forrester Research) with Caroline Robertson, Aldila Yunus and Kara Hartig, to fulfil the growing customer demand for more contextually relevant shopping experiences, B2B marketers should leverage new data and analytics tools and strategies to fine-tune macrosegmented audiences into microsegments. The report says that new data and analytics capabilities now allow B2B marketers to break macrosegmentation, that places audiences into large demographic groups such as company size, industry, geography and the end market served, down further into microsegments - covering, in addition to demographics, such criteria as customer buying behavior, record of sales growth, price sensitivity and aspirations - which allows sellers to reach even more targeted audiences. The report further says, '68% of buyers say it is important that vendors provide relevant content at each stage of their buying journey without having to rely on sales reps to deliver it. By targeting the drivers of customers’ actions, you can build trust through more empathetic, relevant content and accelerate the buyer's journey.' Some of the other valuable points of the report are - Microsegmentation will boost a B2B company's return on its content marketing and inbound strategies by using customer information to customize experiences that persuade and influence specific clusters of customers; Microsegmentation will help B2B companies build a high-yield marketing portfolio; Microsegmentation benefits both the B2B customer and the B2B seller because it results in more relevant shopping experiences for the buyer and increased conversions for the seller. Read on...

DigitalCommer360: How microsegmenting boosts B2B conversion rates
Author: Cate Flahardy


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 jul 2020

Downtime for workforce is a reality that needs to be managed well. Experts provide suggestions to web designers to effectively utilize downtime, whether it is normal as in between projects or unusual circumstances like COVID-19 pandemic - (1) Support Your Juniors: Priscilla Coates, managing director at Magma Digital, says, 'Our developers focus on continuous learning as a principle...they engage in targeted supervision opportunities to support more junior developers more closely...we embrace the notion of working on the business as well as in the business.' (2) Test Your Skills With A Side Project: Melin Edomwonyi, director of product for Illustrate Digital, says, 'Downtime is a great opportunity to work on something you've been needing or wanting to do for a while...If the downtime is short, i.e. less than a day, then we'll use this time to explore new UX trends or tidy up our code library to make future projects more efficient.' (3) Read A Good Book: Bryony Sutton, UX and UI designer at Banc, says, 'When a project ends, I take the opportunity to meditate my mind and desktop...To help draw a line under a project, I like to read. I find that completing a book separates one project from the next and puts my mind in a different space.' (4) Host A Hackathon: Paul Ferry, director and co-founder of ShopTalk, says, 'At ShopTalk, we have an internal initiative...a quarterly design-hackathon where the team get to apply their creative skills to their own ideas, and ShopTalk invest in helping to make these happen.' (5) Learn A New Skill: Benoit Soucaret, creative director of experience design at LiveArea, says, 'Downtime can present an opportunity to upskill...So while disruption can see many projects shorten, downtime can still be used productively. There are more opportunities to learn than ever before, designers and developers simply have to open to them.' (6) Improve Your Processes: Arrann Diamond, digital director at Greenwich Design, says, 'I use downtime to improve our processes...I also like learning about new ways to make projects run more smoothly...As digital director, really understanding a developer’s point of view and having a good knowledge of technologies and build processes is essential...Understanding information, rather than just relaying it, is very different, but it’s the key to conveying trust with both clients and developers.' Read on...

Creative Bloq: The web designer's guide to dealing with downtime
Author: Tom May


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 11 jul 2020

According to the survey conducted to find out impact of COVID-19 pandemic on 567 small businesses and nonprofit organizations in US by the research team of Prof. Samantha Paustian-Underdahl of Florida State University, 15.2% of its participants closed permanently, and 14.5% of participants closed temporarily. Another 31% of participants are operating below 40% capacity, while close to 40% of participants are operating at 40% or higher during COVID-19. The survey also found that 46.7% laid off their employees during COVID-19, while 51% reported that they did not. The average number of employees laid off was 10.5. Prof. Paustian-Underdahl says, 'Small businesses and nonprofits have taken a huge hit during this time, with nearly 30 percent of our sample needing to close temporarily or permanently as of early May. The good news is that most organizations are getting some help.' The survey revealed that 92% received some type of financial assistance from the government's Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and/or Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). 75.5% applied for one or both types of government aid. Of participants who applied, 28.9% received PPP funding only, 26.8% received EIDL only, 11.3% received both PPP and EIDL, and 8.3% did not receive anything. Moreover, researchers also found that business owners and nonprofit leaders are experiencing different effects of COVID-19 on their overall well-being and performance, depending on their gender. Prof. Paustian-Underdahl says, 'Consistent with recent research by Gallup , we found that women who own small businesses are experiencing higher levels of stress and burnout during COVID-19 compared to men. While some may assume this could be due to higher work-family-conflict, we found the men surveyed are reporting higher work-family-conflict than women.' Some of the strategies and solutions that respondents have implemented to meet the challenges faced during COVID-19 include - increased communication with employees; an increased focus on implementing technology and creating online content; creating unique ways to contact and keep existing clients instead of seeking new one; increased focus on healthy living, exercise and mental health for their employees and customers. Read on...

Florida State University News: Survey reveals COVID-19's impact on small business, nonprofits
Author: Calvin Burrows


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 jun 2020

COVID-19 impacted the retail sector and brought about unforeseen challenges. Recent study by Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) at University of Warwick (UK) and Blue Yonder examined how retailers have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure their survival. The study is based on the survey responses from 105 different retailers from Europe, Asia and the Americas and identified the human vulnerabilities across the supply chain and the need for future investment in flexibility, visibility and automation to improve future resilience. Some of the challenges that retailers faced are - unprecedented demand for some products while no demand for others; many stores were forced to close, or adapt their operations to accommodate social distancing; shift to online shopping wherever possible but it had its own operational challenges. REPORT HIGHLIGHTS - (1) The majority (61%) of retailers used inventory to buffer against the disruption of COVID-19. Supply chain processes and systems were effective, but more than half (58%) of retailers said a high degree of manual intervention was required to respond to the fluctuation in demand and supply. (2) Workforce issues were dominant issues for retailers with 59% of warehouse and 48% store operatives being affected by quarantine or illness. This often resulted in the closure of online operations and the need to recruit temporary staff. (3) Retailers were polarised in their treatment of supplier payments, with 37% delaying payments and 30% making early payments. Prof. Jan Godsell of University of Warwick says, '...only just over a quarter (29%) of retailers relied on suppliers with more agile manufacturing and distribution networks, which is a potentially more resource efficient and resilient response. With 75 to 80% of products seeing a demand fluctuation, retailers were slightly better at responding to decreases rather than increases in demand...' Wayne Snyder of Blue Yonder says, 'A critical learning for retailers is the need to invest in creating supply chains with greater flexibility, visibility and automation. Here technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning will play a key role in helping retailers navigate future disruption, whilst still meeting customers’ expectations.' Read on...

University of Warwick News: New study provides insights into how retailers have responded to COVID-19
Author: Alice Scott


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 31 may 2020

During Covid-19 related lockdown many countries faced issues related to providing food to where it is needed the most. There were huge challenges in food distribution and logistics from farms to markets to homes. In many cases farmers had to dump their produce due to the broken supply chain. Moreover, farmers lacked the resources to transport their produce themselves as markets were unwilling to buy that at reasonable price. Amid all this, in Philippines, one social enterprise led by Cherrie Atilano has found a way to get food from farms to consumers and enabled farmers sell their produce that otherwise would have been wasted. Agrea, her social enterprise, in normal times intended to end rural poverty by helping farmers move from subsistence to small-scale commercial farming. But, during pandemic crisis farmers and the food distribution networks collapsed, so Ms. Atilano started #MoveFoodInitiative to overcome the produce dumping by farmers. She used her extensive network to appeal to private truck owners to help ship the food to consumers in towns, villages and the capital. In addition to moving fruits from farmers to families, the initiative is also donating food to community kitchens set up to feed frontline medical staff treating people with coronavirus. 'Movers', as the workers associated with the project are called, have created impromptu community fresh food markets at various locations. Ms. Atilano also plans to encourage the development of urban farms and says, 'It is time to learn how to produce food near to you. This is the new normal that we need to prepare for.' Dom Hernandez, COO of Philippine fast food chain Potato Corner, is another entrepreneur helping to get food from farms to urban consumers. He has set up a scheme to allow farmers in his home province of Benguet to sell directly to consumers through the use of social media and his family owned bus network. Read on...

World Economic Forum: This entrepreneur is helping farmers get food to consumers during lockdown
Author: Douglas Broom


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 may 2020

According to Wikipedia, 'Experiential marketing or engagement marketing is a marketing strategy that directly engages consumers and invites and encourages them to participate in the evolution of a brand or a brand experience...Consumer engagement is when a brand and a consumer connect. Brad Nierenberg says that experiential marketing is the live, one-on-one interactions that allow consumers to create connections with brands.' With experiential marketing brands can develop more interest among consumers about their products and services. Covid-19 has brought new challenges to experiential marketing. 13 experts from Forbes Agency Council explain the current and future impact that experiential marketing is likely to have on the industry and how leaders can adapt to its effects - (1) Continuing To Build Relationships And Leadership (Serenity Thompson, A23 Advisors): 'To play well as experiential marketing, virtual events will include moderated group breakouts, gamified agendas and in-app click-to-share social content at a minimum.' (2) Emphasizing The Power of Shared Experience (Steve Wilson, Wilson Dow): 'When delivering a virtual experience, keep a people-first approach.' (3) Reinventing Experiences And Platforms (Lili Gil Valletta, CIEN+): 'Experiences matter; we just need to innovate in where and how they come to life.' (4) Connecting With Audiences During Social Distancing (Jon Waterman, Ad.net): 'Whether it be through VR, playing an interactive game, attending a virtual concert or a live streaming demo, experiential marketing will move towards brand engaging audiences for experiences online.' (5) Offering Consumer-Level Multisensory Experiences (Hamutal Schieber): 'Experiential marketing can benefit from emerging technologies to create personalized, multisensory experiences.' (6) Delivering Personalized Experiences To Wider Audiences (Nicolas Van Erum, Sid Lee): 'Brands will quickly pivot to digital efforts...with greater avenues to track, measure and attribute consumer behavior.' (7) Leveraging New Technologies With Social Spacing (Jackie Reau, Game Day Communications): 'Experiential marketers will need to consider how to use new technologies with social spacing to connect with consumers in an engaging manner.' (8) Growing The Number Of Virtual Conferences, Activations (Scott Harkey, OH Partners): 'As we navigate through this pandemic, brands are challenged to pivot to provide a utility, adopt new technologies and continue to provide value and insight to consumers.' (9) Helping Brands Stand Out From The Crowd (Anna Crowe, Crowe PR): It will be an important part of an integrated marketing strategy to communicate brand stories and grow awareness and loyalty.' (10) Creating A Community (Dmitrii Kustov): 'They (brands) now have the opportunity to find real connections with their audience.' (11) Providing Immersive Experiences Via Influencers (Danielle Wiley, Sway Group): 'Influencers who provide enjoyable, immersive experiences boost brand visibility, build audience connections and drive action.' (12) Leveraging Augmented And Virtual Reality (Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS): 'Every company is ready for it. Apple and Android support it.' (13) Bridging The Gap With Video Demos (Francine Carb, Markitects, Inc.): 'By promoting technical experts as the heroes, customers can gain valuable insights, and companies can more intimately represent their brand.' Read on...

Forbes: How Will Experiential Marketing Evolve? 13 Experts Share Their Views
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 mar 2020

Global COVID-19 crisis has made content marketing vital for lead generation as all events and roundtables have been cancelled. According to the CMO Council's latest report 'Making Content Marketing Convert', only 21% of marketers are sufficiently partnered with their sales counterparts in developing and measuring demand generation programs, and most view their content marketing process as ad hoc, decentralised, and driven by internal stakeholder, rather than customer, interests. CMO Council's another report 'Better Lead Yield in the Content Marketing Field', highlighted the critical need for marketing organisations to bring more discipline and strategic thinking to content specification, delivery, and analytics. Donovan Neale-May, executive director of CMO Council, says, 'Marketers must act quickly and decisively to increase the impact, scope, reach and return of their content marketing investments in 2020.' The report said good content is vital in the selection of vendors, and peer-powered organizations are the most trusted and valued sources of online content - 67% of respondents named research and whitepapers from professional organisations among the most trusted content sources. The report recommends the following top 10 essentials for effective authority leadership-driven content marketing - (1) Partner with credible and trusted sources. (2) Produce relevant and compelling strategic insights. (3) Add customer-contributed views and validation. (4) Present authoritative, newsworthy and enriched content. (5) Engage qualified, verified and predisposed audiences. (6) Target the whole influencer, specifier and buyer ecosystem. (7) Embrace multi-channel distribution, promotion + syndication. (8) Authenticate content consumption and buyer engagement. (9) Ensure lead legitimacy and compliance. (10) Cultivate, activate and convert prospect flow. Read on...

CMO: Why content marketing can make the difference amid the COVID-19 closures
Author: Vanessa Mitchell


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 mar 2020

According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor's (GEM) 2019-20 Global Report, more than 40% of entrepreneurs in 35 of 50 countries agree or strongly agree that their motivations to launch a business are to make a difference in the world. Fifty economies participated in the GEM 2019 Adult Population Survey (APS) and more than 150000 individuals took part in extended interviews as part of the research. Entrepreneurs are trying to blend profits with social good and environmental sustainability, giving rise to innovative business models. In 2006 a company called TOMS popularized social entrepreneurship with a 'One For One Model' to provide a free pair of shoes to someone in need for every pair purchased. Jake Strom, co-founder of TOMS, now invests in and consults companies that intend to incorporate social business models into their existing businesses. He termed this as 'Profit + Purpose Model' that encourages for-profit ventures with deeply woven social benefits. Following are key takeaways from this approach - (1) Create Evangelists, not Customers: Company's story is key branding element. Emphasize the social good aspect to inspire customers to become brand champions. It eventually becomes a competitive advantage. (2) Popular Perception Has Shifted: The idea that a for-profit business could do well and do good at the same time has become substantially acceptable. Profit + Purpose model will further grow in future. (3) Purpose-Driven Brands Can't Take Shortcuts: Effective business planning is essential. Do whatever is needed to provide best products and services and work to gain profits. Purpose would provide added motivation. (4) Think Long-Term: Balance the demands of Profit vs. Purpose. Making a sincere effort to put people, planet and long-term sustainability before short-term gains. (5) There is Never a Perfect Timing: The great idea to do good shouldn't wait. Start with whatever knowledge, resources and expertise is available. Keep learning, growing and evolving along the way. Scale-up when the concept is proven in the market. Read on...

Entrepreneur: 5 Takeaways From an Entrepreneur's Profit + Purpose Social Business Model
Author: Jared Polites


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 mar 2020

Social media has demonstrated its effectiveness for B2C and it has a lot to offer to B2B marketing when done with the right audience. Social platforms are all about interacting and engaging with people and B2B customers are people too. According to Forbes, 83% of executives use social media as part of their consideration of a vendor when making purchasing decisions. Of that group 92% said that they had been influenced by social media in a purchasing decision in the last year. Moreover, among B2B marketers, 82% prioritize social media marketing among their channels. Susan J. Campbell, founder of SJC Marketing, explains the benefits of going social with B2B marketing and suggests ways to do it better. She says, 'First, remember that sales and marketing are always social...Social media works for the same types of conversations...We also see social media as an opportunity to show off what we know...We offer content that we know adds value and allow our contacts to notice that we seem to have some insight to offer...This also ties in with your search engine optimization (SEO). When traffic makes it to your website via social media, it bumps up your search rankings.' According to Accenture, 94% of B2B buyers say that search is an important part of their purchasing process. Ms. Cambell suggests - Set clear goals along with related metrics to track success; Consider social media as an add on to overall B2B marketing; Develop a social media strategy focusing on conversations and engagement with potential buyers; Be consistent and share messages that target audience expect. Read on...

Business 2 Community: B2B Social Media Marketing: Because Purchasers Are People, Too
Author: Susan J. Campbell


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 feb 2020

Volunteer time off (VTO) is the new concept in employee benefits in which a company offers paid time off for its employees to volunteer with nonprofit organizations. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) around 21% of American companies offer VTO, while Chief Executives for Corporate Purpose (CECP) says that more than 60% of enterprise-level companies are going all-in on VTO. Organizations implementing VTO can benefit in many ways - (1) Recruitment: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of employees who are voluntarily quitting their jobs is higher than ever. VTO can help attract the attention of young, fresh talent. A report from Fortune showed that Millennials were more likely to work for a company that has a proven history of social activism and corporate volunteerism. (2) Retention: The 2019 Global Talent Trends Study showed that 51% of employees wish their company offered more flexible work options. VTO is the most desired option that companies can give to philanthropic employees. According to NP Source Charitable Giving Statistics For 2018, employees who engaged in corporate giving programs tended to have 75% longer tenures with the company. (3) Corporate Visibility: According to NP Source stats, 90% of companies indicated that partnering with reputable nonprofit organizations enhances their brand and 89% believe partnering leverages their ability to improve the community. Turning employees into employee brand ambassadors empowers them to represent your company in a positive light. (4) Company Culture: Companies are highlighting their workplace culture as a way to retain current employees and recruit top talent. A 2017 study from Project ROI showed that companies investing in corporate responsibility are seeing the fruits of their labor - Turnover reduced by 50%; Employee productivity increase by up to 13%; Employee engagement increased by up to 7.5%. A 2017 Glassdoor survey showed that 75% of employees expect their employer to get involved in charity work either through donations or volunteer efforts, and nearly half of all employees surveyed expect their employers to allow them to company time to advocate for social change through volunteering. (5) Employee Growth: Employees seek growth opportunities. Volunteering has become popular to build resume and sharpen skills, thus making VTO attractive to employees. NP Source showed that 92% of surveyed HR executives agree that contributing business skills and expertise to a nonprofit can be an effective way to improve employees' leadership and broader professional skill sets. Following are some tips to effectively implement VTO - (i) Organize your time-off request process. (ii) Communicate with employees. (iii) Use software to optimize (corporate volunteering platform). Read on...

G2.com: Here's Why VTO Is the Next Big Thing in Employee Benefits
Author: Lauren Pope


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 feb 2020

Australia's retail industry is in turmoil with some of the big ones entering into voluntary administration. Tom Youl of Ibis World says, 'Weakness in the Australian economy, in particular, deteriorating conditions for households, has been placing pressure on the retail sector...Weak wage growth has been a contributing factor to decreasing discretionary incomes, but rising household costs have also played a part. The bad news for store-based retailers is online players are going to continue to grab a larger share of the pie.' Eloise Zoppos of Monash Business School says, 'Customers are seizing control of the retail landscape and those retailers not up to the changes proposed by their loyal shoppers will be left behind. Friendly and knowledgeable staff, and eye-catching and easy-to-navigate store designs, can help create memorable experiences that customers can share with their friends and family after their purchase.' Even though online shopping is on the rise but Monash's 2019 consumer survey reveals that more than 70% respondents prefer to shop in bricks-and-mortar stores. A positive story coming out of the retail churn is that of an electronics store JB HI-FI. Retail expert Amanda Stevens explains, 'If you've been into JB Hi-Fi lately, it's a fast-moving big box retailer, but they really have knowledgeable staff, which is always a sigh of relief for consumers versus other retailers you go into, and you could spend up to 15 minutes finding someone to give your money to.' Regarding the future of Australian retail Mr. Youl suggest, 'Many retailers have been thriving in recent years. A sound brand strategy and market position are always vital to success, but these factors become of paramount importance over periods of weak growth, as we have been experiencing.' Read on...

Yahoo Finance: Why Australia's retail industry is drowning
Author: Anastasia Santoreneos


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 jan 2020

According to recent ad industry reports large traditional advertising agencies are facing challenging times. Larry Light, CEO of Arcature (a brand consultancy), explains how the existing model of advertising that built the industry is undergoing transformation and how digital technology, changing human behavior, mobile phones etc is changing how brands communicate with customers. He says that if TV is watched in a mute then except for logos the ads of some big name restaurants are indistinguishable. 'This commonality in creativity is illustrated by the use of generic thinking,' he adds. He further explains the use of common phrases in various ad campaigns. He says, 'This kind of brand thinking is a reflection of the overuse of research testing over creativity. Asking consumers to be creative is a certain road to genericization of communication.' He quotes Ryan Reynolds, 'Ads are generally disposable pieces of content,' and comments, 'These advertising greats (David Ogilvy, Bill Bernbach, Mary Wells Lawrence and Phil Dusenberry) would be horrified to learn that advertising has been demoted to disposable, fleeting bits and bytes of single use creations. With the digital advances making short-term marketing spend easier to measure, the marketing focus has shifted away from long-term brand ideas...Advertising messages are now short-lived, disposable throw-aways, meant to capture someone's attention for a moment and then disappear in the ether.' He advocates, 'The primary role of marketing in general, and advertising in particular, is to create, reinforce and increase brand loyalty...Regardless of the small screen digitization of our world, a great advertising campaign can be a key driver for establishing and maintaining brand loyalty. Response to advertising is selective: experience with a brand strongly affects one's response to an ad and advertising can affect one's response to a brand experience. The most important effect of meaningful brand advertising is to build and reinforce brand reputation. Advertising helps to reinforce a customer's personal perceptions of the total brand experience...Brand loyalty is something that grows, slowly and incrementally. A brand can generate clicks and views but not necessarily build brand use or brand loyalty. However, if you are predisposed to a brand, you are more likely to be influenced by the brand messages.' Read on...

Forbes: Advertising As We Know It Is Dead
Author: Larry Light


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 11 jan 2020

Food security problem is a global concern. Everyone should become a part of the solution. Technologies like drones, data analytics, blockchain etc can assist in solving some of the issues related to farming and agriculture. This is what Agriculture 4.0 is all about. It is a new age of food production that leverages digital technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) to cater more precisely to the needs of crops, farmers and consumers. The coming together of - farming communities, researchers and policy makers; farm equipment and machinery, biotechnology, computer and telecommunication companies - can bring agriculture to a new state of success. Multinational agriculture and biotech companies are competing in the race to achieve the technological breakthroughs and expand their businesses and profits. Advocates of Agriculture 4.0 believe that it will solve the food security problems of the future. While critics on the other hand caution that without proper regulation few big companies will attain huge monopolistic power in global agricultural decision-making that will adversely affect small producers. According to the 2018 report Agriculture 4.0 by World Government Summit, approximately 800 million people currently suffer from hunger and by 2050 we will have to produce 70% more food to feed the world. Juanita Rodríguez, Vice-Chancellor of Innovation at Ean University (Colombia), says, 'Even though it's still not widely known, this fourth revolution in agriculture has been agile and its benefits are beginning to show, helping farmers maximise crop yields and developing ways to stop the epidemic of waste that destroys 45% of our supply.' In Mexico, Mexican engineer Julio López and German economist Manuel Richter, have created a platform helping producers to manage their crops using drone and satellite technology. Mr. Richter says, 'There is a huge potential to make the work more efficient, reduce agro-inputs, improve water use, lower environmental impact and create more economic sustainability for the farmer.' Big data use and privacy are other areas that are part of Agriculture 4.0. In 2018, North American companies spent almost US$ 20 billion on third-party data, 17.5% more than in 2017. Silvia Ribeiro, Latin America director of the Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC), says, 'Companies have a huge amount of data at their disposal. They can convert it into another business. What lies behind this is the generation of new profits.' Gabriel Cuéllar, an AI researcher, says, 'Data is the new oil. Companies today need data to make their systems more powerful.' Big data and analytics has positive side in agriculture and can assist farmers in effectively detecting pests, spotting failures in agricultural processes, or understanding market demands. The question with data is not only who is collecting it, but who can analyse it, and who wins or loses as a result. In the report 'The Unsustainable Agriculture 4.0 - Digitization and Corporate Power in the Food Chain', Pat Mooney of ETC explains his concerns on big data in agriculture. He believes that the concentration of power in agricultural data collection could result in a few companies controlling seed patenting data, pesticides, fertilisers and machinery, leaving little or no option for farmers and workers to choose what they buy. In recent times many multinationals have been drawn into controversy regarding Agriculture 4.0. According to Ms. Rodríguez, there is also a significant hacking risk associated with Internet of Things devices. Dennis Escudero from UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says, 'The profile of the farmer is changing. It is more digital. You have to understand the new tools. They don't threaten farmers, they empower them.' Read on...

Diálogo Chino: Agriculture 4.0 promises to transform food production
Authors: Emilio Godoy, Alejandra Cuéllar


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 10 dec 2019

Customers are at the core of any business. No one can think of products and services without thinking of their buyers. Profits are made with happy customers because they continue to buy products and services from those companies and organizations that keep them satisfied. They also recommend to others what they themselves like. For organizations to become truly customer-centric it is essential to create a customer oriented mindset and at the same time develop procedures and actionable tools to provide best possible customer service. This would also involve continuous training and learning on the part of customer service executives and workers. As the customer behavior changes over time with technologies so should the interactive behavior of customer service personnel to adapt to changing scenarios. But above all, the personnel who deal directly with customers should keep the care of customers in their mind and behavior at all times. Organizations should develop a proper framework for customer service excellence. Read on...

ilmeps/read: From Customer-Centric Mindset To Doing What Customers Want - Finding Ways To Do Customer Service Right And Avoiding What Not To Be Done
Author: Mohammad Anas Wahaj


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 nov 2019

Traditional market research involves quantitative methods like group surveys or self-reporting to obtain valuable data, but to get the whole story, Prof. Rebecca Rast of marketing department at Missouri State University, has embarked upon a new methodology of research that utilizes iMotion software technology and uses facial expression analysis to develop a deeper understanding into the complexity of human behavior in the marketing field. iMotion technology captures physiological reactions, such as how humans think, feel, act and respond, in real time and helps to quantify engagement and emotional responses. The software can measure seven core emotions: joy, anger, fear, disgust, contempt, sadness and surprise. Prof. Rast says, 'I'm continuing to think of other applications I can use the software for to continue to look at marketing behavior...If I can share it with my students so they understand the outcomes, then I can apply it right back into the classroom when it comes to topics such as consumer behavior.' Read on...

Missouri State News: Understanding consumers through emotion
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 14 nov 2019

Achieving global food security is a challenge that requires all humanity to participate and work together. It is imperative to improve food production and distribution, tackle environmental degradation and climate change, alleviate poverty and resolve conflicts through peaceful means. Prof. Miguel Altieri of University of California at Berkeley focuses his research on the concepts of agroecology. His group's research and publications aid in the emergence of agroecology as the discipline that provides the basic ecological principles for how to study, design, and manage sustainable agroecosystems that are both productive and natural resource conserving, and that are also culturally-sensitive, socially-just and economically viable. He explains that urban agriculture has potential to enhance food security in US cities. According to him, 'I believe that raising fresh fruits, vegetables and some animal products near consumers in urban areas can improve local food security and nutrition, especially for underserved communities.' US Dept. of Agriculture estimates that for 1 out of 8 citizens food insecurity is a near-term risk. The current food distribution system in cities of Califormia, where large population resides, requires enormous amounts of energy and generates significant greenhouse gas emissions. Prof. Altieri says, 'The food it delivers fails to reach 1 of every 8 people in the region who live under the poverty line - mostly senior citizens, children and minorities. Access to quality food is limited both by poverty and the fact that on average, California’s low-income communities have 32.7% fewer supermarkets than high-income areas within the same cities.' In the past 30 years, urban farming has grown by more than 30% in the US. Moreover, it is estimated that urban agriculture can meet 15 to 20% of global food demand. But, it is yet to be seen what level of food self-sufficiency it can realistically ensure for cities. There are limitations and challenges. According to a survey, 51 countries do not have enough urban area to meet a recommended nutritional target of 300 grams per person per day of fresh vegetables. Moreover, it estimated, urban agriculture would require 30% of the total urban area of those countries to meet global demand for vegetables. Land tenure issues and urban sprawl could make it hard to free up this much land for food production. Prof. Altieri explains, 'Although urban agriculture has promise, a small proportion of the food produced in cities is consumed by food-insecure, low-income communities. Many of the most vulnerable people have little access to land and lack the skills needed to design and tend productive gardens.' Cuban model of urban farming can be applied, where local urban farmers were trained to use well-tested agroecological methods to cultivate diverse vegetables, roots, tubers and herbs in relatively small spaces. In Cuba, over 300000 urban farms and gardens produce about 50% of the island's fresh produce supply, along with 39000 tons of meat and 216 million eggs. Most Cuban urban farmers reach yields of 44 pounds (20 kilograms) per square meter per year. Access to land and unaffordable water for irrigation are critical challenges for urban farming in US. Discounted water rates and land reforms specifically for urban farming can provide a boost to the concept. Prof. Altieri says, 'Cities have limited ability to deal with food issues within their boundaries, and many problems associated with food systems require action at the national and international level. However, city governments, local universities and nongovernment organizations can do a lot to strengthen food systems, including creating agroecological training programs and policies for land and water access. The first step is increasing public awareness of how urban farming can benefit modern cities.' Read on...

The Conversation: How urban agriculture can improve food security in US cities
Author: Miguel Altieri


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 oct 2019

Visibility is critical for the success of business ventures. Public relations is what provides businesses just that when done right. Deborah A. Geiger, CEO of Geiger Communications, suggests a 3-step process to create winning pitches that provide meaningful coverage - (1) Introduce Yourself: Reporters need professional information and capabilites of those they cover in their stories. Provide them all the required details and make them confident about yourself. (2) Place Your News In Context: For the winning pitch place your news in geographical, historical and industry context to make your business and work stand out. Make your story truly unique and newsworthy. Do competitive analysis and differentiate yourself. (3) Consider The News Cycle: News cycle is predictable. Understand it and time your pitch accordingly. Select reporters who cover events and news related to your area of expertise. Keep communication with them helpful and positive, and offer your expertise for their future stories. The core of best PR pitches is simplicity and clarity in communication. 'If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.', said Albert Einstein. Keeping this in mind, with no confusion about who you are, what you do and how you can help, you will no doubt make a positive impression. Read on...

Entrepreneur: How to Write a Winning PR Pitch
Author: Deborah A. Geiger


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 oct 2019

For CPAs (Certified Public Accountant) to successfully transition from the for-profit sector to the nonprofit sector requires a specific mindset and skill sets. Even though their for-profit experience will highly benefit and enhance the value of nonprofit finance department, but they would need add-on soft skills - (1) Adaptability: Understand and adapt to the new organizational culture. (2) Flexibility: Ability to multitask. With resource challenges nonprofits lack support staff and CPAs would need to handle administrative tasks. (3) Leadership and the ability to drive change: Emphasize the value of accurate financial reporting and use of latest processes and technologies for effective and efficient finance department. Explain that doing so will enhance chances of funding. Implement change through collaborative approach. Nonprofit organizations can benefit from for-profit CPA's in many ways - (1) Technology implementation: Many nonprofits are not fully equipped with latest financial and accounting technolgoies. For-profit CPAs bring the experience to do so. Implementation of online technology maximizes productivity, increases transparency, facilitates document flow and approvals, and improves accuracy and timeliness. (2) Documented policies and procedures: The implementation and maintenance of a documented accounting policies and procedures manual ensures continuing operational efficiency and governance, accuracy, and reliability of financial statements, as well as well-defined roles and responsibilities. (3) Effective and efficient internal controls: The system of internal controls is necessary to mitigate risk, increase transparency, and safeguard the organization's assets. For-profit CPAs are familiar with identifying and evaluating internal controls and aware that the process requires understanding and documenting the step-by-step processes that staff members follow to perform their jobs. (4) Audit management and oversight: CPAs with auditing background are familiar with the types of schedules and documents the auditors will request. The books and records of the finance department should be maintained throughout the year so that when the books are closed, only year-end adjustments are needed. Although CPAs spend most of their time with numbers, processing transactions, generating financial reports, and racing to meet numerous internal and external deadlines, but in nonprofits it is more than that - a mission to improve the lives of those in need and to make the world a better place. The transition to nonprofit career can be highly rewarding both professionally and personally. Read on...

The CPA Journal: Making the Transition to the Nonprofit Sector
Author: Roberta Katz


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 oct 2019

Even though AI (artificial intelligence) and big data are enabling automation in marketing and customer interactions, enhancing consumer experience, saving cost and improving ROI, but customers still seem to prefer the great old human touch. According to the report by Calabrio titled 'Are You Listening? The Truth About What Customers Want in a Digital World', three out of four consumers in the US and UK are more loyal to businesses that give them the option to interact to human as opposed to only chatbots or digital channels. Morever, 37% even question the legitimacy of the company itself, if not given the option. Michael Brenner, CEO of Marketing Insider Group and author of 'Mean People Suck', explains how organizational empathy is the key to benefit from marketing automation along with becoming more human at the same time. He mentions limitations of AI, automation and martech - Complexity of implementation; Robotic customer service; Uncertainties in decision-making. He explains, 'When businesses use technology such as AI and automation to boost efficiencies, the outcomes will scale quickly. Managing the consequences calls for not just empathy, but alignment of "purpose" between the brand and its consumers. But while humans survive on meaning and a sense of fulfillment, machines thrive on clear instructions...By clarifying their strategic purpose, organizations can not only provide better customer experiences, but also increase brand loyalty, build a community, as well as foster a meaningful and productive work culture.' Kate O'Neill, author of 'Tech Humanist', says, 'Businesses that transform themselves digitally need to do so in a human-centric way and communicate their purpose to their customers.' Mentioning empathy as the missing link between AI and humans, Mr. Brenner says, 'Empathetic Marketing connects companies, brands, employees and customers in a harmonious, productive and win-win way. You might be forgiven for thinking that ROI and the bottom line is all that matters to companies. While authoring my first book 'The Content Formula', I stumbled on the counter-intuitive secret to selling: Don't talk about the stuff you sell. Then what should we talk about? I hear you asking. Show, don't talk. Show empathy towards your customers. Help, don't sell. Help them solve a problem.' Empathy is the only antidote for the phenomenon termed by Google's Noah Fenn as 'collective amnesia of marketers', where marketers begin to see 'people' as users, leads, personas, prospects, audience, cohorts or whatever label is the flavor of the day. Mr. Brenner suggests 'be human, do human' and in order to fix the brand-customer empathy gap, you need to ask (and honestly answer) yourself - Do you understand the core emotional motivators of your customers? Does your messaging resonate with these motivators?; Do you build a connection before you attempt a conversion?; Do you test your assumptions and biases for every marketing campaign?; Does your AI-driven revenue model incorporate the nuances of empathetic marketing? Read on...

Chief Marketer: The AI Paradox: Why More Automation Means We Need More Humanity
Author: Michael Brenner


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 sep 2019

In the closing speech of United Nations Climate Action Summit 2019, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, 'You understand that climate emergency is the fight of our lives, and for our lives. I thank young people around the world for leading the charge – and holding my generation accountable. We have been losing the race against climate crisis. But the world is waking up. Pressure is building. Momentum is growing. And - action by action - the tide is turning.' Not so long ago, Ernest Hemingway (Novelist and Nobel Laureate) said, 'The world is a fine place and worth fighting for and I hate very much to leave it.' And now the stern remarks of Swedish teenager, Greta Thunberg, in the UN Climate Summit resonated around the world and were call to action for governments, businesses and all those responsible. Although all humans have responsibility to maintain the environment, but along with governments, businesses have extra responsibility towards the upkeep of environment, particularly those that use natural resources or have direct impact on natural environment. So, what it takes to be a sustainable business? The answers are many and approaches different. In 1987, the United Nations Brundtland Commission defined sustainability as 'meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.' For businesses to be sustainable would require change in current practices and they come with a cost. They have to evolve strategies towards sustainability by taking all the stakeholders on board. Moreover, one's move to sustainability may impact the environment in some other way. So, there are challenges to attain sustainability. Here are 4 reasons why it's hard for businesses to be sustainable - (1) THERE IS NO SINGLE DEFINITION OF 'SUSTAINABILITY': UN's Mr. Guterres in the recent Summit sets the goal to completely transform the world's economies to be more sustainable and find solutions to climate change. A daunting task considering the slow pace governments and businesses have been moving in that direction so far. Geoffrey Jones, a business history professor at Harvard University and the author of 'Profits and Sustainability: A History of Green Entrepreneurship', says, 'There is a crippling vagueness about what sustainability means. While carbon emissions are receiving much of the focus because of climate change, deforestation, water shortages and soil erosion are also serious problems that should not be ignored.' Lack of clear definition translates to lack of accountability. At present few companies can provide hard evidence that their businesses are not negatively impacting environment. Socially responsible investment funds (Environmental, Social & Governance - ESG) often include oil & gas companies, and also those that have plastics as an essential component of their business model. Businesses are tryig but it is a long way to go before they become truly sustainable. (2) DETERMINING THE VALUE OF SUSTAINABILITY: Switch to sustainability is costly for businesses. Bruno Sarda, President of the Carbon Disclosure Project North America, says, 'Someone can come up with a cost of doing something different much more quickly than determining what is the value to the business.' Sustainability solutions can be complex and expensive. (3) CONSUMING LESS CAN REDUCE PROFITS: Experts suggest that less consumption is road to sustainability. But, it is contrary to the basics of businesses - more consumption, more profits. There are exceptions though. Doug Freeman, COO of Patagonia (an outdoor clothing and gear company), says, 'We hope our existing customers do indeed buy less. But we hope to attract more customers that are interested in our message: to build the best product, to reduce our impact and cause the least amount of environmental harm.' (4) CLIMATE SOLUTIONS REQUIRE COLLECTIVE ACTION: 'Tragedy of the commons', an economic problem, creates a situation of competitive consumption of natural resources thereby depleting them. To overcome this, collaboration and cooperation, is imperative. Companies are now teaming up with each other and with environmental nonprofits. Joanne Sonenshine, CEO of Connective Impact, says, 'By working together, companies gain more leverage in the national and global marketplace and legitimacy in the eyes of consumers. If you have a group of very respectable nonprofits or research agencies saying we are working with this company because we believe they can make a change, that puts a lot of credence behind what they are trying to do.' Read on...

PBS: 4 reasons it's hard to become a sustainable business
Author: Gretchen Frazee


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 24 sep 2019

Jeff Bradford, PR expert and President & CEO of Bradford Group, suggests that now it is imperative to think about business-to-business (B2B) marketing strategy the same way as thinking about building relationships. He says, 'We expect to gain something from our friendships or relationships. Potential customers have the same expectations. You need to prove your value. Tactics like targeted media exposure contributed content, influencer relations, social media, speaking engagements and website downloads invite potential customers into your company story as friends versus onlookers. A strategic B2B marketing approach builds a relationship with the customer by providing valuable, relevant and consistent content.' He provides 3 ways to build lasting customer relationships - (1) Get Social: According to GlobalWebIndex's latest report on social media trends 2019, more than one in three internet users revealed that they go to social networks when trying to find out more information about a brand, company or product; Share recent company news, media coverage and industry articles to keep a steady stream of content; Add CSR initiatives, videos and behind-the-scenes photos to enable deeper customer exploration of brand; Aim to win customer engagement and share content that encourages dialogue; Implement gated content. (2) Tell Your Story: Have a compelling story to reveal to potential customers, just as in new friendships; Each piece of content should invite customer to the brand; Highlight CSR efforts on social media and website; Welcome new faces to your brand by proving you have a clear vision and showing how they can be a part of it; Make sure to honor customer's time by using your social media, website and media exposure to explain how you can help solve your customer's problem, not simply sell your services. (3) Renew And Recycle: Extend value of content by updating and resharing to reach wider audience; Repurposing a blog post into a series of social media posts linking back to the blog, a YouTube video, an infographic or a pitch for a bylined article; Strike a balance between quantity and quality of content; Existing content can be a foundation to build more content. With all this done right will make marketing to businesses simple, making them brand friends and customers for life. Read on...

Forbes: Three Ways To Bolster Your B2B Marketing
Author: Jeff Bradford


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 sep 2019

According to Learning Enterprise Institute (lean.org), the book, 'Designing the Future' by James M. Morgan and Jeffrey K. Liker, describes the robust new Lean Product and Process Development (LPPD) framework and shares real-world examples from a diverse set of industries. The book explains how the leading companies are using LPPD to create better futures for themselves and all their stakeholders. Authors go beyond broad generalizations on how to 'be innovative' and dig deeper into the theoretical bedrock and concrete development practices that are generating exceptional results at pioneering LPPD companies. Examples in the book show specifically how companies are redesigning product development systems to consistently design and deliver a progression of market-leading products and services. The book explains how LPPD is different from traditional ways of thinking and doing product development. The book helps in learning how to - (1) Avoid the 'extremes' that turn milestones into a 'coercive bureaucracy' and instead turn them into the foundation of a lean development process. (2) Drive out fear, but not accountability. (3) Develop high-performance teams and team members. (4) Cultivate chief architects with complete product and business responsibility. (5) Create flow and reduce rework in the development process. (6) Apply leadership lessons from Alan Mulally and other senior development leaders, as well as the critical elements of a powerful management system. (7) Use the Obeya (big room, war room) system to increase transparency, collaboration, focus, and speed while engaging the entire enterprise. (8) Improve the scientific thinking skills of engineers and developers. (9) Apply the seemingly contradictory concept of 'fixed and flexible' - Yin and Yang - of lean product development as an opportunity, not a conflict. (10) Hire the right people using different approaches, including extreme interviewing events. (11) Use a Commodity Development Plan to develop components in parallel that are on time, functional, and fit together. (12) Improve development problem solving through effective use of A3s and employ a simple but effective 'trick' to check the quality of an A3 report. EXCERPTS FROM INTERVIEW WITH AUTHORS - James M. Morgan: 'The book is for all serious practitioners who are working to find a better way to develop products, processes and services. Especially for those who are in leadership positions who want to improve organizational development capabilities in order to create great products and a great place to work.'; 'Deep immersion at the gemba (the actual place) during the study period to truly understand your customer and their context. To truly study and listen deeply to your customer in a very intentional way. To look broadly across your industry to understand the current state and conduct detailed product or service dissections where called for. Creating an active learning plan and experimentation to test ideas and close knowledge gaps. To create a concept paper to clarify your thinking and engage and enroll others.'; 'Milestones are the key to orchestrating development across functions. They are the primary mechanism for integrating work and for understanding normal from abnormal conditions so that the development team may act accordingly.'; 'The obeya space needs to become the center and the heartbeat of the project. Whether the team is collocated or not, it is the place where they come together to share and collaborate. It is the primary source of project information.'; 'I believe that it (to build aligned and focused teams) is impacted by hiring/selection of people, development of people, manager selection and promotion and of course leadership behaviors. One key is to develop an effective management system. In my view a management system is comprised of two key elements: leadership behaviors and an operating system.'; 'The best leaders have the grit to keep going - and to keep their team moving forward. One key is to look at problems as gems, as opportunities to improve your product, your process, your team - yourself.'; 'Make it okay to experiment, make mistakes, question things and raise issues. Create time and resources for learning - both capturing and applying learning. Design reviews are an excellent mechanism for learning. Then make knowledge available in user-friendly way.'; 'Apply the LPPD principles and practices in your transformation. Start by deeply understanding your current state, develop a compelling vision, learn through pilot experimentation, create an aligned plan, and focus on relentless executing leveraging tools like obeya, milestones, reflection events and design reviews.' Jeffrey K. Liker: 'We also talk about the role of the chief engineer - an overall architect for the product who assimilates all the data and spends time with customers and integrates many perspectives into a vision. These are specially developed people who become the chief architects.'; 'The main failure mode of milestones is viewing them as checkpoints. In LPPD there is feedback and adjustment happening all of the time. The checkpoint is a major opportunity to reflect and learn. It should not feel like passing a test.'; 'The obeya paces the work of many functional specialists so they are checking the status of their work products in short intervals, seeing how they can help each other, seeing gaps between plan versus actual and taking corrective action. It should focus on deviation management.'; 'A big part of the management system is the target setting process. The chief engineer sets the product targets and each function develops appropriate targets to support the chief engineer.'; 'It is also critical to have knowledge gatekeepers for each function who are the keepers of the know-how database for their specialty to avoid lots of information that never gets used.'; 'An exciting culture leads to an exciting product. We also talk about the importance of strong functional groups that are teaching the deep knowledge of their engineering discipline.' Read on...

InfoQ: Q&A on the Book 'Designing the Future'
Authors: Ben Linders, James Morgan, Jeffrey Liker

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