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The 'Netflixization' Demand In Marketing: Raising The Bar On Creativity | Forbes, 15 jun 2022
History repeats itself with Big Tech's misleading advertising | Brookings, 15 jun 2022
Words of wisdom from the world's greatest branding experts | The CEO Magazine, 15 jun 2022
The pandemic isn't over. Here's how PR agencies can help guide clients. | PR Daily, 15 jun 2022
6 SEM Best Practices Growth Marketers Need To Master | Search Engine Journal, 14 jun 2022
6 Steps to Launch an Effective Digital Marketing Strategy | Software Advice, 14 jun 2022
How AI Video Analytics Is Energizing Business Operations For Brick-And-Mortar Retail | Forbes, 14 jun 2022
The link between employee experience and customer experience | TechTarget, 14 jun 2022
Where is Video Advertising Heading? | Entrepreneur, 13 jun 2022
Getting It Wrong: How Imaginary Trends Can Shape Consumer Behavior and Impact ESG Campaigns | Yale School of Management, 17 may 2022
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 may 2022
According to the research paper, 'Leveraging Creativity in Charity Marketing: The Impact of Engaging in Creative Activities on Subsequent Donation Behavior' (Authors: Ravi Mehta of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Lidan Xu of the University of North Texas, Darren W. Dahl of the University of British Columbia), published in Journal of Marketing, 'engaging potential donors in creative activities can positively influence their propensity to donate money to a charitable cause.' Prof. Ravi Mehta says, 'Participating in creative activities such as drawing or cookie decoration in support of a charitable cause induces a sense of autonomy in participants, which leads to a positive affective state, resulting in 'enhanced donation behaviors' - that is, a greater likelihood of donating to the cause and a greater monetary amount donated.' Prof. Mehta further explains, 'Charities are constantly looking for new and more effective ways to engage potential donors in order to secure the resources needed to deliver their services. This paper demonstrates that creative activities are one way for marketers to meet this challenge. We think that this research will have substantive implications for understanding how creativity can affect subsequent behavior, and how marketers and advertisers can incorporate creative activities into fundraising efforts, charity events and social media campaigns as a viable fundraising strategy.' Read on...
Illinois News Bureau:
Paper: Engaging donors in creative acts can boost charitable fundraising
Author: Phil Ciciora
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...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 apr 2022
Generating positive word-of-mouth (WOM) is one of the important component of brand influence. Nowadays, brands utilize influencer marketing strategies to get WOM. The study, 'How implicit self-theories and dual-brand personalities enhance word-of-mouth' [Authors: Arvind Sahay (Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad), Sudipta Mandal (Indian Institute of Management Indore), Adrian Terron (Tata Group), Kavita Mahto (Tata Sons Ltd)], published in European Journal of Marketing, investigates how and why consumers' mindsets can influence their WOM intentions toward a brand and the consequent implications for a brand's personality. The research study finds that fixed (growth) mindset individuals exhibit greater WOM intentions than growth (fixed) mindset individuals for motives of 'impression management' ('learning and information acquisition'). Moreover, the study results also demonstrate that brands that exhibit dual personality dimensions simultaneously, one salient and the other non-salient at any instant, garner equivalent WOM intentions from both fixed and growth mindset individuals, contingent on the fit between the salient brand personality dimension and the dominant consumer mindset. Finally, using a real brand, it can be seen that WOM intentions actually translate into behavior'. Prof. Arvind Sahay says, 'In today's world, influencers, both offline and online world, influencers, both offline and online, help you to sell your brand. Many of these influencers will have different kinds of personalities. As a brand, if I can build personalities of the brand itself, that appeals more to different kinds of influencers, they will generate more word-of-mouth.' Prof. Sahay suggests, 'Brands which have a purpose, brands which empathise with their customers, brands who try to connect with their customers are going to do better.' Read on...
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...
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...
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...
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...
Digital Marketing To Connect, Engage And Serve Customers - Part I
Author: Mohammad Anas Wahaj
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
Social-Media Managers Are the Next Generation of CMOs
Author: Tracey Wallace
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...
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...
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...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 18 mar 2021
Web design continuously evolves with latest technologies and consumer tastes and behaviors. This results in new trends keep coming up. Most recently cool futuristic design has been prevalent, but now at the beginning of the new decade the trend is shifting to more minimalist and realistic design. Increasing web access on mobile is popularizing this trend. Following are top 10 trends for 2021 - (1) Minimalism: Involves using only essential elements – simple text and typefaces, plenty of space, monochrome or duo-chrome color palettes, and simple graphics. Simple designs are easy to read and functional. (2) Subtle yet intentional parallax scrolling: In this the background moves at a slower pace than the foreground. This adds depth and movement to the browsing experience. It creates an immersive experience for website visitors. (3) Non-traditional scrolling: It can grab attention creatively and quickly. It allows the website to have a fresh new feel. Helps website to stand out from competition. (4) Interactive landing pages: Landing pages help turn visitors into customers. Custom-designed attractive, creative, and interactive questionnaire and unique landing pages will be an important trend in 2021. (5) Dark mode option: Dark mode features light text and images on a dark background. It offers less eye-strain in low-light conditions and improved battery usage than its light-themed counterpart. (6) 3D visuals all around: Higher quality screen resolutions offer the ability to show hyper-realistic or high quality rendered designs that perfectly compliment website content. (7) Custom illustrated graphics: These graphics are welcoming, enticing, and elevate viewers' experience. They provide a more personable experience and a more welcoming feeling. (8) Gradients: Gradients add depth, eye-catching backgrounds, or texture behind an illustration. They are a simple and effective solution to elevate boring and old-school designs. It makes content pop and graphics stand out. (9) Exciting multimedia: Multimedia elements like photos or videos help a visitor learn without reading and can also create an immersive environment to keep a person engaged while browsing website content. Multimedia will be incorporated in new and exciting ways - voice-enabled interfaces; animations with sound effects; immersive and interactive videos. (10) A focus on functionality, usability, and accessibility. Read on...
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...
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...
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...
Why a Data-driven Approach Can Enhance the Art of Logo Design
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...
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...
Six Essential Steps To An Effective Advertising Pitch
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...
20 Sales Training Ideas to Empower Your Team to Close More Deals
Author: Erika Giles
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 | 31 aug 2020
COVID-19 has brought about new challenges for brands and businesses. Changing consumer behavior, excessive use of social media, prevalence of fake news, fast spread of public opinion through internet etc has exacerbated the problems that businesses are facing. The large amount of content that is generated at this time is filled with mixed emotions - happiness, anger, fear, and disgust. Anubhav Mishra, professor of marketing at the Indian Institute of Management Ranchi, provides a solution for brands to follow to manoeuver through the current marketing challenges - a simple LAC Model - that stands for Listen, Act, and Communicate. He explains - (1) LISTEN: 'Social media listening is the first step, which most of the brands regularly do as part of their digital marketing strategy. Brands collect information and do a sentiment analysis to understand the emotions hidden in those tweets or Facebook posts. Sentiment analysis reflects what consumers are feeling about that brand. A careful filtering of the information should reveal consumer's expectations and challenges from the brand.' (2) ACT: 'The next step is to act on the information collected in the listening process...Brands should find innovative ways to act on the information to ease the pains of consumers.' (3) COMMUNICATE: 'A critical aspect of communication is to gather free media and support from consumers...A firm must resist the temptation to chest thumping which can severely backfire. Many people are dying globally and there is a general atmosphere of fear and mistrust...Consumers are showing signs of distrust and skepticism toward any communication. In such scenario, content must be created to show feelings of concerns towards the severe spread. Brands should reflect that they care for their consumers in these testing times.' Read on...
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...
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...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 jun 2020
User-Generated Content (UGC) is getting more prominence for charity marketing and communications in the COVID-19 pandemic turbulence. Charities are struggling with funds and resources and have substantially reduced marketing and advertising spends. UGC helps charities in creating content to promote their brand, do fundraising, and advertise their accomplishments. Content created by those who were directly supported by charities is more authentic and relatable. When users share their stories they connect better with potential supporters. Following are the ways UGC benefits charities - (1) Marketing budgets are shrinking and UGC can provide a practical, cost-effective solution amid cuts, through users becoming charities' ambassadors online through videos, blogs, podcasts and social media posts. Hiring marketing agency is costly and current social distancing norms are restricting professionals to do location filming. The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NVCO) has estimated that UK charities lost around £4 billion in the first three months of the COVID-19 crisis. According to COVID-19 Marketing Report by Influencer MarketingHub, more than 2/3 (69%) of brands expect they will reduce their advertising spend in 2020 due to COVID-19. 3/4 say they are posting less on their social media accounts as budgets shrink. (2) Charity's frontline staff, beneficiaries and volunteers are able to enhance their digital skills during lockdown. Charities are certainly keen to empower their workforce to support users in creating content. The 2020 Charity Digital Skills Report found that half of charities would welcome guidance on helping their staff adjust to change and stay motivated and productive amid the pandemic. (3) UGC is more authentic and relatable. Last year's Stackla survey found that the public believes UGC is 2.4 times more authentic compared to brand created content. However, too often the power of UGC is not being realised by marketers. The survey showed that marketers are 2.1 times more likely to believe that brand created content is more authentic compared to UGC. Read on...
How and why User-Generated Content is changing charity marketing
Author: Joe Lepper
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 | 26 may 2020
CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) spend is mandatory for certain profitable corporations in India. Most businesses are strategically utilizing their CSR funds. Moreover, Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent directive by government for corporates to participate in Covid-19 relief as part of their CSR activity, has prompted companies to innovate their CSR spends. Gaurav Patra, founder of Value360 Communication, explains how marketers are utilizing the challenge posed by Covid-19 as opportunity to strengthen their brands by strategically focusing on CSR to support society and connect with communities. He says, 'In this hour of global crisis, various marketers are stepping up and aligning their strategy in line with the announcements made by the government. Brands should take this as an opportunity to look inward and be as resourceful as possbile towards the cause. Many companies and businesses are donating certain amounts to the 'PM Cares Fund' formed by the Government of India, while others focus on facilitating vital necessities like masks, sanitizers, gloves, medicines, food to the underprivileged, health institutions, hospitals, etc. Marketers and brands are also committing a certain portion of their CSR funds towards Covid Fund. They are also placing health check-up camps in tier-2 cities in order to help migrants get tested first hand. Few brands have also come forward to manufacture ventilators, sanitizers, thermal testers, drones lending assistance to the government in combating this pandemic situation.' Companies are utilizing various media channels like print, television, social media etc to create awarenesss and educate the masses through creatively designing campaigns with Covid-19 theme. Mr. Patra suggests, 'Given the scale and urgency of the situation, brands should co-create their solutions as an effective response to Covid-19 outbreak. Together, through the right channel, one voice, we can safeguard our nation and help fight this global pandemic.' Read on...
How marketers are now focusing on CSR in current COVID-19 situation
Author: Gaurav Patra
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...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 apr 2020
Fake news at the time of crisis like the current COVID-19 pandemic is a double whammy that further adds to confusion and creates panic. Propagation of false and misleading information through social media and other tech platforms has multiplied. It not only exploits the emotional vulnerability of common public but also impedes and hinders the efforts to collectively and scientifically fight the pandemic and minimize its socio-ecomic effects. But an evergrowing group of Indian scientists have come together to create 'Indian Scientists' Response to COVID-19 (ISRC)' that is working to fight false information. It is a pan-India voluntary effort with more than 400 scientists across more than twenty scientific and research institutes in the country. It counts among its volunteers astrophysicists, animal behaviourists, computer scientists, mathematicians, engineers, chemists, biologist, doctors, social scientists and others. The purpose of the group includes analysing all available data and support national, state and local governments for evidence-based action, in addition to verifying and communicating information. There are sub-groups working on - mathematical modelling of disease spread and transmission, outreach and communication in simple terms for the public and media, translating basic resources in local languages, developing hardware solutions and apps. Aniket Sule, a science communicator with the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education in Mumbai, says, 'Since science communication is my area of interest, I volunteered to be a part of this effort. In this crisis, everyone has a role and each person can contribute by doing what they know best.' R. Ramanujam, a theoretical computer science professor at the Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IMSc) in Chennai, says, 'While people in the medical and healthcare community are doing their work, we thought, what about others like us, what can we do?' Rahul Siddharthan, a computational biologist at the IMSc, says, 'How an individual gets infected is definitely a biology problem, but what we are looking at is how an infection spreads in society, and we are dealing with large numbers of people. Physicists have a lot of experience in dealing with dynamical systems modelling, differential equations, and computer/data scientists can analyse the data that is available. It has to be an interdisciplinary approach and we need people to be talking and on the same platform.' T. V. Venkateshwaran, senior scientist at Vigyan Prasar, says, 'In a situation like this it's important to do two things, one is communicating to people that they need to be alert, not alarmed...The other thing is falling for wrongly circulated remedies and rumours. We need to counter all the misinformation going around so people feel at ease.' The group is putting together links, videos and articles in Indian languages and also working on translating others. Anindita Bhadra, an animal behaviourist and associate professor at IISER Kolkata, says, 'I am not an expert in virology or epidemiology or modelling, but I am interested in science communication so I thought I should help with that as well as translation. You need people who can transmit all this to the public.' Read on...
World Economic Forum:
How 300 Indian scientists are fighting fake news about COVID-19
Author: Bhavya Dore
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...
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
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...
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...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 dec 2019
Graphic design continuously evolves and experts spot the trends and also make predictions. Here are graphic desing professionals predicting trends for 2020 - (1) Intensifying minimalism: Brian Dixon, creative director at Grady Britton; Paul Levy, designer; Adam Murdoch, senior art director. (2) Abstract 3D and vibrant colours: Tamryn Kerr, associate creative director at VMLY&R; Consuela Onighi, UX designer at Illustrate Digital; Alex Halfpenny, design director at Elmwood. (3) Type-only approaches: Emily Benwell, digital design and marketing specialist at Liberty Marketing; Davide Baratta, design director at Impero; Nazar Begen, head of project at Crello; Steve Sharp, director of Fat Cow Media; Chris Willis, head of design at VMLY&R; Katie Larosa, designer at Grady Britton. (4) Super-maximalist and ultra-minimalist: Justin Au, designer at Gretel. (5) Taking GIFs to the next level: Steve Sharp, director of Fat Cow Media; Mark Chatelier, executive creative director at StormBrands. (6) Multisensoral moving content: Davide Baratta, design director at Impero; Iain Acton, head of motion design at DixonBaxi; Emma Newnes of B&B Studio. (7) Motion with intent: Kelli Miller, creative director and partner at And/Or; Dan Healy, image and motion director at Bulletproof. (8) Ingrigue overtakes legibility: Alex Halfpenny, design director for Elmwood; Emily Benwell, digital design and marketing specialist for Liberty Marketing; Dave Gee, co-founder of Jam_. (9) Graphical disruption: Sarah Sanders, head of strategic insight at Precipice Design; Kelli Miller, creative director and partner at And/Or. (10) Backlash against Insta-perfection: Jennie Potts, design director at B&B Studio. (11) Focus on Gen Alpha: Lee Hoddy, creative partner at Conran Design Group. (12) Organic look and feel: Andy Capper, creative director at Echo Brand Design. (13) Action on sustainability: Charlie Smith, creative director at Charlie Smith Design; Steve Austen-Brown, creative director at Avantgarde London; Alex Halfpenny, design director at Elmwood. (14) New perspectives on gender and sexuality: Lee Hoddy, creative partner at Conran Design Group; Davide Baratta, design director at Impero. (15) A spirit of rebellion: Maisie Benson, designer at B&B Studio; Curro de la Villa, creative director at 72andSunny Amsterdam. (16) Device dependent design: Harry East, co-founder and creative director at Equals Collective. (17) Cause-based branding: Adam Murdoch, senior art director at Grady Britton. (18) Immersive experiences: Dave Gee, co-founder of Jam_; Mark Davis, creative director at me&dave; (19) Making brand stories more believable: Andy Askren, partner and creative director at Grady Britton. (20) Uncertainty: Alex Halfpenny, design director at Elmwood. Read on...
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...
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...
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...
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...
The AI Paradox: Why More Automation Means We Need More Humanity
Author: Michael Brenner
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 sep 2019
Utilizing technology to connect with audience & customers is effective and efficient. But, bringing the human element with personalization & customization, and engaging with them to build long-term relationships is even better. Best organizations often try to do that. Gabe Cooper, tech entrepreneur and nonprofit consultant, have suggestions for nonprofit organizations to build personalized communication strategies and making full use of automation technologies available. He says, 'When it comes to marketing software, in particular, nonprofits have long tried to make square pegs fit in round holes, getting locked into software and marketing practices that are fundamentally designed for for-profit marketing or that are based on legacy fundraising practices. This has resulted in mass marketing efforts that make your donors feel like 'sales opportunities' rather than crucial stakeholders in your cause.' Fundraising is an important activity for nonprofits and considering that they lack resources, it becomes even more crucial to be done right. He says, 'In our modern world, impersonal fundraising is a wet blanket on generosity, and that's a problem when you consider that nearly three-quarters of people who give a single gift never give again. They simply don't feel appreciated. That's where personalization through marketing automation comes in. Personalization allows each and every donor feel as though you're talking directly to them...Great personalization provides every donor with the right message at the right time based on their individual passions, capacity and relationship to your organization. Personalization, in this way, creates extreme loyalty.' He advocates a 3 point approach to apply personalization in nonprofit fundraising efforts - Know; Automate; Amplify. (1) KNOW: Gather as much information about your donors as is possible. (2) AUTOMATE: Use marketing automation software to send tailored messages - at the right time - based on what you know about each donor. (3) AMPLIFY: Use data analytics to understand what the right 'ask' should be. He also provides other ways to personalize marketing efforts: Keep the new donor campaigns running to engage them, and make them repeat donors; Use persona segmentation and apply the personalized content to connect with them; Utilize personalization technology/marketing automation that is designed specifically fo nonprofits. Mr. Cooper concludes, 'Taking a more personalized approach to your nonprofit fundraising efforts can result in more donor engagement, higher average gifts, big increases in donor loyalty, and most importantly, you donors will feel that they're part of your cause.' Read on...
Personalization Is the Engine That Drives Today's Givers
Author: Gabe Cooper
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...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 aug 2019
According to Wikipedia, 'Place branding (including place marketing and place promotion) is a new umbrella term encompassing nation branding, region branding and city branding. Place branding is the process of image communication to a target market. It is invariably related to the notion that places compete with other places for people, resources, and business...A place brand is a network of associations in the place consumers' mind based on the visual, verbal, and behavioral expression of a place and its' stakeholders. These associations differ in their influence within the network and in importance for the place consumers' attitude and behavior (Erik Braun, Sebastian Zenker; 2017). It therefore aims to affect the perceptions of a place and position it favourably in the minds of the target groups. Place branding can even be considered as a governance strategy for projecting images and managing perceptions about places (Erik Braun, Jasper Eshuis, Erik-Hans Klijn; 2014).' Bill Baker, veteran place brander and author of the recent book, 'Place Branding for Small Cities, Regions and Downtowns: The Essentials for Successful Destinations', while speeking with Bobby McGill, founder and publisher of Branding in Asia, shares insights based on his long experience in destination marketing and tourism development. Mr. Baker says, 'Tourism can play a very positive role as part of an economic development strategy. However, locations around the world are recognizing that there is the need for a tourism masterplan to balance the marketing of the destination with the need for sustainable and harmonious development to meet community values and aspirations while meeting the needs of external audiences.' Explaing some of the mistakes in place branding, he says, 'The most common mistake or weakness that we see in place branding very often relates to positioning. Defining the brand position for a city, downtown or region is, without a doubt, the most important and trickiest part of the entire process. If they don't get this part right, everything else will miss its mark, since it's the positioning and its relevance to target audiences that informs and shapes all other elements of the brand. Compounding this is the challenge of dealing with the many competing voices of stakeholders.' He also cautions, 'Place branding can be a perilous journey. Some do a great job with defining their brand identity, but soon falter or fail when it comes to deployment and brand management, and the consistency needed to follow the agreed strategy. Others are unable to sustain the leadership, funding, personnel, and partner enthusiasm required to succeed...Our experiences have shown that a lack of understanding about branding, particularly among key decision-makers can be the Waterloo or graveyard for a place branding initiative. Unless staff and committees can get beyond thinking in terms of logos and taglines, or mistaking a snappy campaign theme, then their efforts to define and deploy a genuine, unifying place brand will likely fail.' Regarding the book, he says, 'The focus of my book is on smaller cities and regions, and their focus may not be on tourism alone. Instead, their brand development may be centered on an overarching brand to embrace tourism, economic development, education, relocation and inward investment. Developing an overarching brand often brings to the table many participants who may not be familiar with branding, or in some cases, marketing.' He suggests, 'A multitude of stakeholders will be, or at least should be, involved in revealing a city or downtown brand, and this will depart from the accepted path for branding corporate products and services. One reason for this variation is the composite nature of places. They are a compilation of many independent and competing businesses, products, and experiences that are owned and managed by many different entities. There's no single custodian or owner of the brand. Community leaders who are aware of the differences in branding places and consumer goods are in a much better space to adapt to these challenges when they become evident...One of the leading determiners regarding who will lead the effort comes down to who is funding the project. Place branding frequently involves a single source of funding...Economic development organizations and DMOs (Direct Marketing Organizations) are usually the best-situated entities to plan, coordinate, and manage a place branding initiative...Determining the lead organization can involve balancing acts...Hence, the calls for DMOs to broaden their roles within communities and bring all parties together.' Read on...
Branding in Asia:
Q&A: Insights from Veteran Place Branding Guru Bill Baker
Author: Bobby McGill
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 18 aug 2019
Startups are enabling tech-based transformation of India's retail sector through Android-based smart PoS (Point of Sale) devices. The promise of these devices goes beyond payments and makes supply chain more efficient with data analytics and potential credit scoring. Vicky Bindra, CEO of Pine Labs, says, 'Retailers and merchants from diverse sectors such as electronics, food and beverage, fashion, pharmacy, telecom, and airlines are adopting the new smart PoS machines to improve their efficiencies and enhance consumer's shopping experience.' Praveen Hari of industry association iSPIRT says, 'Today a smart PoS device is not just accepting cards, but they can also provide UPI (unified payments interface) pull transactions, QR codes (displayed on screens), NFC (near-field communication) transactions, wallet transactions, or basically, any payment mode that is available in India.' Ashish Jhina, co-founder of Jumbotail, says, 'Today smart PoS machines can do four key business functions: payment, billing, inventory management, wholesale procurement.' Smart PoS data is also valuable for credit scoring. Mr. Hari explains, 'The GST data itself is good enough for a lender to make a lending decision and the shopkeeper or his FMCG distributor now has an incentive to report all the transactions. The transaction data itself can help a lender make a lending decision.' Manish Patel, CEO of Mswipe, says, 'We have engineered a credit model where when our merchants can borrow money (to make wholesale purchases) from any of our NBFC partners, based on data we provide...In terms of recollection, the merchant can opt to pay back in daily and monthly instalments.' Read on...
Wireless, smart PoS devices revamping India's retail landscape
Author: Salman S. H.
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 19 jul 2019
Good content is essential for every content marketing strategy. But, getting requisite return on investment (ROI) defines it's business success. Steven van Vessum, co-founder & VP of Community at ContentKing, suggests ways to maximize the chances of success of content marketng strategy - (1) Best Content Is Not Equal To Most Successful Content: Be selective and start small; Assess competitor's weaknesses and know your strengths and leverage that; Put together a content promotion strategy that works for you. (2) Create Multi-Purpose Content: As lot of research and resources are used to create content, leverage it to create other types of content to get better ROI; An evergreen content piece can be partically repurposed as a conference talk, a support article, a podcast topic or a guest post. (3) Creating the Best Content Is Not That Hard, It's Just Hard Work: Focus on creating content that provides most value to the visitors and fulfils their search intent; Create a content piece that makes you think not to give it for free. (4) Core Content Is the Key to ROI: Core content is content that your target audience is interested in, and that's close to your products and/or services. Helps in transition to soft sale; Create core content, and build related content around that. (5) Control & Protect Your Investment: Social media and content platforms are easy to use and have large audience reach but they provide limited control. Moreover, they may shut down or modify their terms of service as per their convenience; External platforms often don't support adding Call-To-Action boxes or newsletter signup forms. This results in questionable or reduced ROI; Better option is to publish a summary or introduction on these platforms and link it back to the detailed or full content on your own website. Read on...
Search Engine Journal:
Content Marketing: The 5 Most Important Things You Need to Know
Author: Steven van Vessum
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 jun 2019
Collecting the right customer data and then understanding it to create usable insights is the key to e-commerce analytics success. But, implementing an effective and efficient analytics strategy and selecting the best tools and solutions from among many that are available in the market is no easy task. Ateeq Ahmad, consultant and founder of Albany Analytics, provides a set of ideas and road map to build an e-commerce analytics solution that would finally be used for predictive analysis. Mr. Ahmad outlines the process flow as - (1) Setting up data collection within current data sources. (2) Merging all data sources into one platform and automate such a collection. (3) Analyzing patterns in these datasets to build reports and dashboards based on KPIs. (4) Based on past behavior of customers, create prescriptive and predictive analytics around key metrics and goals. Data that is collected should include transactional data, social interactions and offline customer data. At the stage of merging all data sources into one central repository there are two possible methodologies - build own data warehouse or buy it from market. Of course, there are trade-offs involved in this selection. The best option seems to be to go initially for an available data merging tool, as it is cost effective, and then once sufficient experience and ROI is obtained graduate to build it in-house. Analyzing data and translating it into valuable business speak that paves the way for data-driven decision making is an essential part of successful analytics implementation. To provide right and timely predictive analyses it is critical to have an analytics team with strong data science expertise. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 jun 2019
Wikipedia explains 'Spin' as, 'A form of propaganda in public relations and politics that is achieved through knowingly providing a biased interpretation of an event or campaigning to persuade public opinion in favor or against some organization or public figure. While traditional public relations and advertising may also rely on altering the presentation of the facts, "spin" often implies the use of disingenuous, deceptive, and highly manipulative tactics.' Researchers (Paris Descartes University: Isabelle Boutron, Romana Haneef, Philippe Ravaud; Hôpital Hôtel Dieu, Paris: Amélie Yavchitz, Gabriel Baron; Inspire: John Novack; New York University: Ivan Oransky; University of Minnesota: Gary Schwitzer) in their study, 'Three randomized controlled trials evaluating the impact of "spin" in health news stories reporting studies of pharmacologic treatments on patients'/caregivers' interpretation of treatment benefit', published in journal BMC Medicine, found that participants were more likely to believe the treatment was beneficial when news stories were reported with spin. Prof. Gary Schwitzer of University of Minnesota and founder/publisher of HealthNewsReview.org, says, 'This is important research because misinterpretation of the content of news stories due to spin could have important public health consequences as news articles can affect patient and public behavior.' Prof. Schwitzer says that spin can originate in all stages of the flow of information from researchers to the public. Researchers suggest that spin can be managed by taking the following steps - Train researchers to understand how the public uses the media and, in response, frame their communication to the public in a way which is truthful, relevant, understandable and devoid of distortion or hype; Train PR professionals, journalists and other communicators to detect spin and accurately convey research results; Educate news consumers on the resources available to help them critically evaluate health claims; Support research for developing ideal approaches for communicating scientific and health information. Read on...
University of Minnesota News:
Research Brief: Evaluating the effect of spin in health care news
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 may 2019
Prof. David Dubois, who teaches marketing at INSEAD (France), explains that by customizing digital technology according to customer relationships can provide B2B companies competitive advantage. Marketing spend is not defining factor for success, but how well companies integrate technolgical solutions is. Prof. Dubois says, 'A company's digital investment does not necessarily translate into marketing return on investment (ROI). For that to happen the firm needs to build a digital marketing organisation – data-driven marketing capabilities around the customer. A pivotal and enduring dimension of success in B2B markets lies in the relationship a company has with its clients. Thus, identifying the type of relationships that you have or would like to have with your customers is an excellent starting point to select and embed digital technology into your strategy. And this process is increasingly important for B2B companies if they are to maintain growth even as digital disruption accelerates the shift from B2BigB to B2SmallB.' He suggests defining customer-centricity by relationship type. Susan Fournier of Boston University offers a useful framework by likening customer relationships to friendship and romantic relationships. Once this has been done companies should select a technology that matches the relationship. According to Prof. Dubois, getting customer-centricity right in the digital age involves three steps after the relationship is clearly defined - (1) Test and learn: Consider the technologies and communication channels that are adapted to strengthening each type of relationship. Companies would do well to test and learn strategies. (2) Match technology to client (3) Integrate tech and new practices: Understanding the customer relationship should be an ongoing process. One part of that solution is mining big data on social media and news outlets. Prof. Dubois points out, 'At a time when the giant markets of SMEs such as China and India offer unprecedented opportunities, the roadmap to customer-centricity has never been more relevant.' Read on...
Driving B2B Digital Transformation Through Customer-centricity
Author: David Dubois
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 21 may 2019
Graphic design enhances the value of the brands and creates their visual memory in the audience's mind. Check out the latest trends in graphic design and keep evolving - 3D design and Typography (Brings life and depth to flat designs); Mid-century Modern Elements (Give both a mid-age and modern touch to any design); Custom Illustrations (Heavily influenced by natural and botanical elements, with softer lines and less bold text); Buxom Serifs (Serifs are smarter, better, and make content stand out); Open Compositions (Make the elements appear to be floating off of the screen); Isometric Design (Creates an entire universe in the tiniest of spaces and gives depth to any design and object); Pops of Vivid Color (Provides attention grabbing graphics); Strong Typographic Focal Points (Make content visually strong and readable, a function much needed for small devices and social media feeds); Light and Dark Color Schemes (Create a visually stunning impact); Futuristic Influences into the Mainstream (Make the brand stand out and be influencer in the marketplace); Complex Gradients and Duotones (Look great on mobile devices. Add depth and create a timeless look); Colorful Minimalism (Combining design with necessary components using minimalist approach. Limited color use); Art Deco (Add glamour quotient); Bookman and Old-style Serifs (High legibility and contrast of the traditional serifs make them a great choice to highlight the brand's value); Subtle Motion (Enhances user experience and engages users with the interface. Adds seamless transformations and transitions); Abstract Geometry and Shapes (Fits in any design that demands a modern and expressive look. Makes visuals stand out); Asymmetrical Layouts (Create visual tension. Elements have a more complex pattern); Variable Fonts (Are flexible within the multidimensional space. Consume less bandwidth and load websites or web pages faster). Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 09 may 2019
Ad-free environment is an expected reality with subscription-based models, ad blocking tools and alternatives to traditional media already available. Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer at Proctor & Gamble, predicts that we're evolving into a 'world without ads' as brand engagement with customers changes with technology and consumer requirements. Gary Ellis, Co-founder and COO of Remesh, explains how branding will shift and survive in this ad-free environment. He says, 'There are infinite possibilities for filling the void left by traditional advertising. Success will depend on translating traditional advertising insight into new engagement tactics. Advertisers will need to focus on how they can fit themselves organically into their customer's experience, rather than disrupting a customer's experience as is often associated with traditional advertising.' He adds, 'Consider what is central to the brand building experience, which ranges from embedding tech in products to targeted ads. Pritchard predicts an increased desire for personalization, an interest in learning about a brand's values and more brand experiences. This means a brand's ability to connect with people on a human level plays an even more critical role in this new engagement paradigm. An emotional function will serve as the main connector, and one that can come in many forms.' He further explains, 'Targeted advertising is about two things: relevant content and demonstrating comprehension of customer needs. It stems from the desire to be 'helpful' – providing an audience with the information they need so that they can quickly and easily find what they are looking for. In an ad-free world, what were once targeting challenges can be avoided. This means not just focusing on personalization, but context.' Read on...
How Will Branding Survive In A 'World Without Ads'?
Author: Gary Ellis
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 09 apr 2019
According to the recent report 'India Digital Ad-fraud Market 2018' by techARC, the total size of digital ad-fraud in India stood at staggering US$ 1.63 Billion, which is 8.7% of the global size. The report projects 23% increase in digital ad-fraud in 2019. Digital Commerce contributed more than half 51% of the total ad-fraud in India. While, Leisure & Travel (26%), Entertainment & Gaming (13%), Banking & Finance (8%), Healthcare & Pharma (1%) and Others (1%). Although, App Fraud contributes to over 85% of the total digital ad-fraud, the organizations should not ignore the web platforms. Web platforms are more susceptible to frauds as in several organizations the digital teams are primarily focusing on the app, leaving the web space vulnerable. As video is increasingly becoming the preferred medium of content, it is also attracting fraudsters to exploit this advertising channel. The report finds that businesses who have an ad-fraud solution in place are better equipped to have higher levels of customer engagements. Faisal Kawoosa, Founder & Chief Analyst at techARC, says, 'Digital ad-fraud is getting increased attention from the C-level leadership of evolved organisations, where it is no longer an agenda of a CDO or CMO. The impact of digital ad-fraud now goes beyond diminishing the returns on marketing spends and can jeopardize the entire digital transformation journey hampering Brand Equity, Relevance and Positioning among other ramifications.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 03 mar 2019
Scot Henney (GVP of sales at SAP) and Marcus Venth (GVP of market development at SAP) discussed the importance of customer experience in the digital age with John Furrier and Dave Vellante, co-hosts of theCUBE at IBM Think event in San Francisco, US. Mr. Henney says, 'A new customer-experience domain is open up called the "experience economy". It brings the front office and back office together and adds in "experiential data" on end-users.' As more companies shift from products to subscription-based services, customer-experience becomes crucial. Digital provides more power to consumers and ease of switching brands. Customer feedback becomes valuable. According to Mr. Henney, '80% of customers have switched brands because of poor CX (customer experience) and companies that deliver better customer experience have more than 200% more shareholder value.' Mr. Venth adds, 'The 360 customer view that leads to stellar CX is not achieved with applications, data and professionals in silos. One of the biggest challenges we see [is]...where we have a highly customized environment with lots of disparate applications that really are poorly integrated.' Read on...
Analytics mine consumer brains in new 'experience economy'
Author: R. Danes
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 11 feb 2019
According to the research by Prof. Elizabeth A. Minton from University of Wyoming, Prof. Kathryn A. Johnson from Arizona State University and Prof. Richie L. Liu from Oklahoma State University, 'Religiosity and special food consumption: The explanatory effects of moral priorities', published in Journal of Business Research, people with strong religious beliefs are more likely to buy fat-free, sugar-free or gluten-free foods than natural or organic foods. The research could influence the marketing of those specialty food products. Prof. Minton says, 'Religion is the deepest set of core values people can have, and we wanted to explore how those values impacted the market choices people make. We found religiosity influenced the selection of more diet-minded foods...' The study was carried out online and included responses from over 1700 people across the U.S. Prof. Johnson says, 'Often, people make intuitive decisions about food that could require more careful thought. People might make choices based on a cultural narrative or their religious and moral beliefs, without giving measured thought to whether there is a better option.' According to the research, the moral foundation of care drives the choice of sustainability-minded food products, and the moral foundation of purity is behind the choice of diet-minded foods. Prof. Liu says, 'The findings from our work can directly help businesses promote food products to specific groups of people without potentially alienating customers by including religion.' Read on...
University of Wyoming News:
UW Researcher: Religion Affects Consumer Choices on Specialty Foods
Author: Chad Baldwin
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 14 jan 2019
Autonomous shopping concept intends to bring brick-and-mortar and internet shopping into a unified and integrated retail experience. The grab-and-go smart shopping carts promote cashier-free automatic check-out eliminating wait in lines. TechSpot's contributing writer, Cohen Coberly, says, 'While it seemed like brick-and-mortar retail would be all but killed off following the explosive rise of online shopping, what we're instead seeing throughout the US is not death, but evolution.' According to a 2018 survey by RIS News, 'The leading new shopping option wanted by consumers was "grab-and-go" technology (in which customers can self-checkout using their smartphones). 59% said they'd like to use this, and 9% had used it.' In a global survey of 2250 internet users conducted by iVend Retail and AYTM Market Research, 'Roughly 1/3rd of respondents said they would like to make automatic payments using digital shopping carts.' Caper is a smart shopping cart startup. Josh Constine, technology journalist and editor-at-large for TechCrunch, reports, 'The startup makes a shopping cart with a built-in barcode scanner and credit card swiper, but it's finalizing the technology to automatically scan items you drop in thanks to three image recognition cameras and a weight sensor. The company claims people already buy 18% more per visit after stores are equipped with its carts.' Linden Gao, co-founder and CEO of Caper, says, 'It doesn't make sense that you can order a cab with your phone or go book a hotel with your phone, but you can't use your phone to make a payment and leave the store. You still have to stand in line.' The current Caper cart involves scanning an item's barcode and then throwing it into the cart. Brittany Roston, senior editor and contributor at SlashGear, reports, 'The smarter version will eliminate the barcode part, making it possible to simply put the items in the cart while the built-in tech recognizes what they are.' Chris Albrecht, managing editor at The Spoon, also reports, 'The future iterations, already in the works, will remove the barcode and will use a combination of computer vision and built-in weight scales to determine purchases. The customer completes shopping, and pays on the built-in screen.' The concept of scanless carts involves deep learning and machine vision. Cameras are mounted in the cart. The screen on the cart gives the shopper different kinds of information - store map, item locator, promotions, deals etc. It recommends items based on contents already in the basket. Read on...
Next-level autonomous shopping carts are even smarter
Author: Nancy Cohen
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