During the COVID-19 lockdown, we all had to spend more time working in the Home Office. In turn, our use of digital communication platforms for work and personal reasons has increased. For instance, data from Linkedin tell us:

  • There was a 55 percent increase in conversations, such as comments, between March of 2019 and March of 2020.
  • There were 300 percent more “live broadcasts” during February and March/April 2020.

The use of webinars or web events and viewing of videos has also increased:

  • 272 percent more comments were made during live stream events during February and March 2020 alone; and
  • 180 percent more hours of watching videos on #LinkedInLearning =>  4 Million hours in March, 7.7 million hours in April 2020.

By the way, our focus here is on using these platforms for work related purposes, not our hobbies or entertaining ourselves during our spare time. That’s why we chose LinkedIn, which is considered a business exchange platform.

LinkedIn ROI (Return on Investment)

Today people might tell you that time, personal as well as professional, is a very valuable asset. Accordingly, using social media platforms such as LinkedIn during work hours should benefit the individual as well as the company. With that in mind, some questions may arise:

  • If I share an update my employer made to the corporate LinkedIn page with the followers on my personal LinkedIn profile, is this time well spent?
  • Besides maybe getting one of my friends to smile when they see my comment on the shared company post, what other benefits are there?
  • Does my sharing help raise brand awareness for my employer with my circle of acquaintances?

What we do know is spending too much time on social media platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn may result in higher occurrences of signs of depression than if you spend time outdoors. LinkedIn and Instagram are both transaction platforms, while Baidu, Match.com, Uber, AirBnB or Hotels.com are intermediaries or online marketplaces that make it possible for users to exchange goods and services or information including contact data.

Most platforms have different objectives, such as trying to be a glorified Rolodex and helping you keep in touch with your career-related pals and acquaintances. For this, LinkedIn has created a means that should make it easier for us to stay connected. We will give you a short run down based on personal experiences and reflections.

Interesting read to check out: Cusumano, Michael A., Yoffie, David, B. & Gawer, Annabelle (Spring 2020). The future of platforms. MIT Sloan Management Review, pp. 46-54. Accessed on 2020-06-01 from http://sloanfreview.mit.edu/x/61304

How do you keep LinkedIn groups alive? Personal reflections

We started a group in November 2009 and did pretty well until about 2013. The focus was on how lawyers could use social media and what legal and economic issues they had to consider for themselves and their clients. Many legal luminaries were actively participating. But at that time LinkedIn was very new for lawyers and the world had yet to begin with using social media channels in earnest. Here are some facts for you about our former group.

  • Title: Originally ‘Social Media for Lawyers’, now Social Media for Lawyers with Nancy Myrland
  • Founders / Owners: Founder Nils Victor Montan (lawyer), I was asked to join shortly after it got launched as a social media expert, Nancy Myrland (the current owner; also a social media expert) became a co-moderator around 2013.
  • Founded: November 2009
  • Members: 3,327
  • Moderating: No pre-approval needed, but violating the principles and the focus may result in the deletion of content.

At the beginning we spent at least 15 minutes each day ensuring we replied to every comment left by a member. We also used to monitor this group 24 hours a day. Not that difficult, considering that Nils was in the US, and I was in Europe. But it took A LOT of time.

Then, my colleague Nils Montan (a crackerjack lawyer) felt that his interests had shifted. I was working in a start-up, so I had to be very careful with my time. Another problem for me was that in those years, I was unlikely to serve clients in Argentina or Singapore, but many of our active group members came from far away places.

So we passed the baton to Nancy in about 2013. She is a very savvy social media consultant and had worked with us as a co-moderator for a while beforehand. She does a great job of sharing interesting stuff and tidbits for lawyers using various social media platforms even today. But things have changed. Nancy is the most active poster, yet lawyers – our primary target group – have become pretty much inactive in the group.

Fact 1: You need plenty of stamina to keep going. Even if you have the resources (most large firms such as Philips do), is it worth the trouble to spend maybe three working hours every week on moderating a LinkedIn or Facebook group? Is a once-weekly activity enough, or do I need to engage daily?

LinkedIn Check: Groups have lost their shine, finding added value is getting to be difficult.
LinkedIn Check: Groups have lost their shine; finding added value is getting difficult.

What is LinkedIn groups’ latest illness?

Many of the factors above can be used to describe even some of the most successful groups. One example is the one listed below (see also screenshot above), from global consumer brand Philips. But why would Philips decide to close such a group?

  • Innovations in Health group on LinkedIn (not hyperlinked because Philips closed it June 30, 2020)
  • Owner: Philips
  • Founded: September 2009
  • Members June 2020: 165,142
  • Moderating: Members’ posts require admin approval before they become visible to others
  • Closing: At the beginning of spring 2020, the page had this text: “The Innovations in Health group will be closed on June 30, 2020. Please follow the Philips LinkedIn page to continue the conversation: https://www.linkedin.com/company/philips/

Clearly, the group had amassed plenty of members since its launch. Already with its name, it was clear its primary focus was health and innovation. Nevertheless, moderating such a group is not an easy job and takes time and patience. In other words, you need to enforce the group’s charter. If posts do not fit the charter, they have to be pulled and people have to be warned. This gets to be a pain after a while, but you have to remain courteous, polite, and professional – despite needing to deal with members who know they overstepped the charter or group guidelines. Even if caught, some people still react surprised and irritated when told that what they did was neither nice nor according to the rules.

The greatest challenge is keeping up the engagement and participation of the members. The Philips group on Innovation in Health and our former Social Media for Lawyers group illustrate this very well. Especially because exchanging ideas, and hosting discussions of people’s differing opinions is what we are after. At least in theory.

Fact 2: Just broadcasting seems to be perceived as more resource-effective than running a community group (see Philips corporate LinkedIn profile as a corporate page).

Do some of these platforms that supposedly want to foster discussions and dialogue belong in our rearview mirror? Is it like a balloon – the air is out, the novelty has worn off, and LinkedIn ROI is a thing of the past?

LinkedIn ROI Check and Engagement KPIs

Marketers find that increasing value in user-generated content is one of the pipe dreams we are being sold. Specifically, we are supposedly able to gain traction in terms of engagement rates and ROI. But how many times will you look at Made.com’s Instagram posts that showcase its products in customer homes?

Buffalo Wild Wings created an ad in just six days using homemade fan videos. In reference to the absence of live sporting events, the ad shows a number of people creating their own made-up sports at home. Yes, it created 100,000 views by now, but did it help sell products? Since it was mentioned in the press as a laudable example of how to do it right, the brand awareness certainly went up. Great.

The above two examples are Business to Consumer (B2C) situations, but if we look on LinkedIn, it does not seem to be vastly different in the Business to Business (B2B) space. To illustrate, social media is supposed to have moved us all from a broadcasting culture (few send to many) to a culture where many send to a few or maybe many who follow, but all engage, discuss, reply, and so forth. Some TV shows use hashtags and Twitter polls during live events, apparently to better engage with their audience.

The moderators of the closing Innovations in Health group directed me to the Philips corporate page on LinkedIn that has 1.6 Million followers, but:

  • 100, 20, or fewer likes per post – 80 percent of them Philips employees it seems, and
  • zero comments / engagement from the followers over the last month or even longer… okay, maybe one post with a single comment, but no reply from the author.

If we just post about our products as Philips and many other large companies do, we have downgraded a dialogue opportunity to an advertising channel. It basically provides little if any added value to our customers and potential clients. Is this bad or just a shift in what we find more effective for our company and how we communicate with clients on platforms like LinkedIn or Xing?

Fact 3: Navel-gazing metrics, such as simple follower numbers as a “possible reach” are not the whole story. 50 likes may be fine, but unless you get more substantive reader comments that in themselves add value to the original (i.e. more than just “great post”), who cares? Of course, the author(s) replying to the comment is a must, or the commenter is unlikely to feel appreciated, and chances are they’ll never comment again.

Time Sink: ROI von LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. brauchen viel Zeit. As lohnt und was nicht?
Time Sink: LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. require plenty of time. Is it worth it?

LinkedIn: Conclusions

Like Xing and other platforms, the fact remains that LinkedIn is a glorified electronic Rolodex (originally a rotating file device used to store business cards of contacts). I can get information about a person even if one changed has jobs. Unfortunately, in some cases, users make that difficult by not providing a phone number or contact email on their profile. However, this helps LinkedIn or Xing sell paid subscriptions that enable one to contact people via the platform directly.

The people whom you really wish to reach and who can help you in your B2B business are maybe executives in the purchasing or product development departments of your targeted client company. They may neither have the time nor be willing to take the time to be on LinkedIn or Xing.

LinkedIn Groups are a way you can connect and interact with like-minded professionals in your industry.

Neil Patel

Neil Patel’s (a British author, entrepreneur, marketer, and blogger) quote is interesting but it presumes that those you want to reach are active on the platform and want to engage. Who has the time, besides people like Neil, who is trying to convince us that it is worth it? Even if you are one of the top 40 digital strategists, as Neil claims to be, you cannot change these facts 😅.

For Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SME – see EU definition) having business contacts in markets where they are not active might make one feel good. Obviously, their marketing and branding campaign worked, right? Nevertheless, those contacts and their interaction won’t make the cash register ring – today or tomorrow. Nor will such LinkedIn contacts help you to pay the rent at the end of this month.

Overall, we found that most active people on LinkedIn use the platform as an information and idea exchange marketplace. In addition, they find it helpful to stay in loose touch with (former) colleagues, since everyone will probably keep the profile updated. We also heard from some really small entrepreneurs (coaches, one-man-shows, etc.) that they do get inquiries for talks, sessions, or small business opportunities. For large companies such as Philips, LinkedIn and similar platforms represent a brand-building exercise, not a sales funnel.

Please share your experiences with us in the comments:

  • How much do you like and use LinkedIn and how much time do you spend engaging, commenting, or posting?
  • How do you know it is worth the time?

Interesting read to check out: Heffer, Taylor, Good, Marie, Daly, Owen, MacDonell, Elliott, and Willoughby, Teena (2019-06). The longitudinal association between social-media use and depressive symptoms among adolescents and young adults: An empirical reply to Twenge et al. (2018) (see also ResearchGate). Clinical Psychological Science, 7(3), 462-470. DOI: 10.1177/2167702618812727. Accessed on 2020-07-20 from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/2167702618812727?journalCode=cpxa& or ResearchGate

Covid-19 Coronavirus Pandemie

Fears about the coronavirus or Covid-19 are going around. But it has now grown more into a general panic, which does not help anyone. On the contrary, it is unnecessary. In such situations rational thinking has an an advantage. One should deal with the right facts. So, we thought we would publish some facts and resources about the coronavirus here.

The input for this article was the yesterday’s video shoot on a large construction site of one of our customers. We met there with young apprentices and their supervisors. On our way home, our team was discussing if we would have been able to do this shoot maybe a week later. We feel, probably not at all.

In our company and at the customer’s premises, working from home is recommended. Of course, this is not so easy on a construction site, because then the site would have to be shut down. Many other professions would also suffer as a result.

Helpful pages including useful metrics:

  • Ressource page from the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (it loads slowly but has all the facts and tips like don’t shake hands, keep distance to others, wash hands often with soap or disinfectant, don’t put your hands in your face and others).
  • Johns Hopkins University Covid-19 – a graphic showing the worldwide spread in countries and more here (slow during the day, early mornings okay response)

Reality check

The coronavirus scenarios may justifiably frighten us. But the deaths caused by the coronavirus are modest (but of course tragic) compared to those caused by global air pollution, for example. For many, a spreading virus is a greater danger because it is more present. Deaths due to environmental influences, on the other hand, are skillfully ignored, as they do not lead directly to death. Yet it is precisely here that the risk for death should be taken more seriously.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 13 million deaths could be prevented annually if our environment became cleaner. The WHO estimates that around 7 million people die every year as a result of air pollution.

  • WHO: Deaths per year caused by air pollution (a PDF)

Just for comparison, as of March 13, approximately 130,000 were infected with the coronavirus worldwide. Of these, nearly 5,000 people have died. The Covid-19 leads to death in under 4 percent of those infected. And that is only if they are in the coronavirus risk group. In the remaining 96% of the sick, the medical condition is mostly comparatively harmless.

According to the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health, these persons are in a higher risk group:

  • Persons over the age of 65

All persons with one of these previous diseases have a greater risk if they get infected:

  • High blood pressure
  • Chronic respiratory diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Diseases and therapies that weaken the immune system
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Cancer
Girlfriend taking a selfie. Coronavirus - soziale Nähe vermeiden.
Girls taking a selfie. Coronavirus – soziale Nähe vermeiden.

What does the coronavirus pandemic mean for meetings and association assemblies?

There is no simple answer to this question. But Europe can learn from the Italians: Rome hesitated for a long time until drastic measures were taken. The closure of entire regions has also meant that many people infected with the SARS-CoV-2 oder coronavirus have left this region shortly before. This has probably resulted in a faster spread throughout the country.

Replacing the greeting with a handshake, hug and kiss on the cheek with pantomimic gestures, however, worked well. Certainly, in large rooms, 1m distances between the participants in a meeting can be kept.

For this reason, for example, Zurich’s City Council and the Cantonal Council of Zurich have moved their meetings to Zurich-Oerlikon from their usual meeting place. This was done in the hope, that the 1 meter distance between elected members of these councils could be assured during meetings.

In Switzerland, meetings with more than 300 people will probably soon no longer be permitted. Some companies like Credit Suisse have already cancelled all meetings since the beginning of the month.

We cannot determine whether sessions with 50 people pose a danger. In Zurich, restaurants cannot have more than 50 people including staff. How this can work we will see. There is always a residual risk. Nevertheless, one should not be completely deterred by the risk. Whoever takes precautions can already drastically minimize the risk of being infected by Covid-19.

The law or association statutes can also put obstacles in our way here. For example, shareholder meetings cannot yet be held virtually in Switzerland because the new law that would allow this is not yet in force. The statutes of an association also require that a meeting must be held in a room to ensure the necessary quorum.

What do you think? Will your next club event or meeting be canceled?

Also interestingt: model calculations for the pandemic with facts, figures, prognosis

PS. Spokesman Fabio Weingarten, President Jair Bolsonaro’s press officer met USA President Donald Trump with Vice President Mike Pence in Florida on March 6, 2020. As of this week, Fabio Weingarten is also in quarantine/isolation due to the detection of coronavirus. Whether he infected President Trump in the process is as of now unclear.

PPS. Schools in Austria are closed. Starting March 16, all schools from kindergarten to university education will stay closed In France and Switzerland.

Kommunikation: Gleicher Inhalt, unterschiedliche Aufbereitung für Print und Digital.

Corporate Communication (CorpCom for short) deals with the internal and external communication activities of a company. The aim is to develop a clear image of the company (i.e. corporate image) among the relevant target groups or general public and employees. However, the term corporate communication is often defined very differently. This is clearly shown, for example, by comparing the Wikipedia and IPRA – International Public Relations Associations. In addition, some experts point out that two factors have made CorpCom’s work more challenging:

  • Broadcasting is out. This was probably mentioned first by the BBC around 1998. In essence, it means that a few communicating to many has been replaced by many reaching few listeners. Accordingly, the chances that our message gets lost or fails to reach our target audience are smaller than years back.
  • Patience and attention span have become increasingly precious, i.e. people don’t simply read a document, but scan it first. Opening and closing credits in a streamed movie are skipped and even whole passages, if they are not of interest to the viewer.

The corporate image has to be communicated in a shared message to all different target groups. In addition, the company uses different media, such as traditional print and TV, or social media. Doing this well is a challenge that we must master to satisfy top management. Moreover, the KPIs (key performance indicators) developed for communication activities must be understood and accepted by management as well. This is not an easy ride.

1. Doing the Analysis and setting targets

Communicating using print and / or digital means is a decision that must be made. The KISS Principle (Keep it Simple Stupid) must be applied in order to answer the following questions

  • Which of our stakeholder groups are the 5 most important? Business customers, consumers, suppliers, employees, investors, etc. Out of this list, the 5 most important ones should be selected.
  • How do we do content marketing / communication? Are possible synergies between the company’s magazine, press releases, digital content, events, etc. being leveraged effectively?
  • Are we doing well with social networking and content marketing? How well are we networking with our critical stakeholders at events such as conferences, and with the help of social media platforms?

Below is a quick sketch of how these things might change. The left column shows how a company might look today. The right-hand column shows where we want to go.

Analysis / Inventory: How do we do things today?

Today, boundaries between corporate communication (CorpCom) and marketing communication are often blurred. The company newspaper, media releases, etc. may be part of the CorpCom team. Nonetheless, content for distribution on social media, stories on the website, etc. are part of the firm’s traditional or digital marketing departments. Synergies between these groups and their output are not always easy to achieve.

Advantage: Clear distribution of work, possibly based in part on the team leader’s preference.
Disadvantage: Potential synergies between CorpCom and Marketing, such as digital, are rarely used.

Strategy / Targets: Implementation within 12-18 months

What are the 3 to 5 most important stakeholder groups that we need to reach, on which channels and with which type of content produced by different teams?
The primary goal is the optimal coordination and more effective use of content. Examples include articles from the company newspaper, reports from events, etc. These are curated and maintained for storytelling in the digital field and for use in press releases.

Advantage: Different groups such as millennials or digital natives within different stakeholder categories can be more easily reached while engagement improves.
Disadvantage: Good collaboration between teams is a must.

Kommunikation Papier und Digital, nur Papier oder nur Digital? Egal welcher Kanal, die Message muss ankommen.
Should communication be digital and on paper, only on paper, or just digital? Regardless of the channel, the message must get through.

2. Business Communication 4.1: Building Brand Equity

The factors listed above show that thanks to more cooperation and coordination between different areas such as CorpCom and Marketing, we are better able to reach the important target groups. In other words, whether corporate communication or digital marketing both produce important content. This content must reach the desired stakeholder groups and attract their attention. It should not be forgotten that each stakeholder group has different age, education, income, and gender groups! This in turn requires that we adapt our communication accordingly.

The main objective with communication is to have a clear message regarding the brand, its message and the image we want to portray. The table below illustrates this with the help of a model that proposes changes are implemented using 3 phases.

Start of projectPhase 1
Starts in month 0
Duration 1 – 3 months
Phase 2
Starts in month 4
Duration 1 – 4 months
Completion in months 4 – 9
Phase 3
Starts in month 9
Duration 3 – 9 months
Completion in months 12 – 18
AnalysisIdentify possible changes.Where do we have potentially affected areas were collaboration and coordination can be improved.1 – 2 larger changes where things can be improved.
TargetsGet the “low hanging fruit” first.Use SMART-Metrics when setting targets.Specifiy who does what, until when, and how we define success versus failure.
ImplementationStart implementing small changes with a big impact now.Start quickly and realise objectives using a step-by-step implementation process.Only start implementing agreed-upon changes after the necessary resources have been approved.
ControlAfter 3 months, check whether targets were reached.After 2 months, measure performance and analyse for further improvements.After 2 months, check for first results.

Note. Phase 1 starts in month 0. In total, successful completion of the 3 phases should take between 12 to 18 months. After Analysis, phase 2 puts the spotlight on implementation of 2 to 3 simple things that achieve great results without requiring many resources. Phase 3 requires that after 12 months, the first positive results can be reported.

3. Implementation and control

The key to success is that during phase 1, actions that represent “low-hanging fruit” are realised. This means that relatively simple and cost-effective changes that immediately improve the impact of corporate communication are identified. Once complete, these ideas are immediately implemented.

For example, an easily implemented change in phase 1 would be preparing an article simultaneously for publication in the company newspaper and on the website. Of course, the text will be different and include other visuals such as a graphic. Nonetheless, this does not require substantial additional resources. It is important that such a change will allow the message to reach different demographics within a stakeholder group. For instance, millennials and digital natives within the consumer stakeholder group.

In phase 2 we might supplement the text of the online content with a video and also include a link to it in the press release. A short clip could be shared on a platform such as Instagram. Viewers are then also referred to the company website.

Phase 3 should contain a maximum of 3 possible larger improvements which will help change our communication for the better (we recommend using SMART metrics). These are usually longer-term and more intensive as far as implementation is concerned. Nevertheless, the impact on communication and the bottom line is likely significant.

For the customer, the packaging of the brand is less important than what comes with it. To illustrate:

  • We have innovative and competitive products – do we communicate this effectively?
  • Quality at a fair price – how do we compare to the competition?
  • Excellent customer service – according to what, customer reviews?

The company has to successfully master these 3 things. In addition, different stakeholder groups must be reached with this message. If this is the case, the firm is almost always very successful.

Nevertheless, CorpCom today is about more than communicating a clear image of the company (i.e. corporate image) to stakeholders and employees. Neither media representatives nor stakeholders are willing to invest time in our content if it does not provide them with added value. Communication today helps the company to position its brand. With the help of brand staging, for example, we move the product away from rational comparability. In this way, we also create proximity to the customer. The interesting story, e.g. in terms of sustainability, charity and brand commitment, is becoming increasingly important in communication. Without emotions and brand staging only the price remains as a differentiation for the product. This puts our mission path to success on very thin ice.

4. What do you think

It’s important that we analyse the current situation first. Based on these findings we can then decide what needs to be changed. To make this process smooth, we must define what needs to be accomplished through the changes we intend to implement. This must include a clear understanding of what constitutes success or failure. With the help of our KPIs we can then ensure that our subsequent evaluation is based on facts, not fiction.

In corporate communication, as well as in other things related to volunteering or company work, we should be guided by the following thought:

Once you have the diagnosis, know what needs to be fixed and how this can be done, just do it. We need to act fast or the window of opportunity will close.

“The low-hanging fruit”, i.e. problems which the analysis has revealed and we can solve quickly with little effort, must be taken care of as quickly as possible. Implementing these small changes also provide the team with those important first successes, empowering them to tackle the more significant adjustments and changes to further streamline their work.

But what we would really love, is to hear your opinion on these matters!

  • How did you solve the challenges discussed above?
  • Have you ever had to reorganise your corporate communication or digital marketing?
  • To what extent has the work on communications content, such as media releases, triggered changes in internal processes?

We are looking forward to your comments, which we will read with interest. And of course, we will reply!

We have to learn from others that do know more than we do. That can be far from easy for some people to accept.

Have you ever had to rebrand your company, toss out a big idea or do other important work to help your company grow?

Then you know that it is tough.

Other companies have struggled through. For instance, for most of its history since being founded in 1963, Weight Watchers primary service has been helping clients lose weight. Dieters meet up, get weighed, and discuss their successes and failures in succeeding at the program.

Some have suggested that given that history, it seems a no-brainer that Weight Watchers was eager to rebrand itself as WW.

This is another case analysis from the trenches that illustrates how some great ideas work out and others fail miserably – brand equity is destroyed much faster than it can ever be built.

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1. SWOT analysis helps

Doing a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis of your company should reveal a few interesting things to any manager. It could tell you where there are opportunities to build on your strengths or better exploit your advantages. Or, it could show weaknesses that need fixing.

In our case, we had established a brand called DrKPI (Key Performance Indicators), meaning our core business had less to do with our business’ original focus on Cyber Threat Reduction and Prevention (CyTRAP Labs GmbH). All important to know when you want to grow a company or strengthen a brand.

As the set of slides below illustrates, you need to analyse what your brand or corporate name stands for. It requires that your team talks it through. And yes, there will be some disagreements, tears, frustration, and anger.

Everybody wants to focus on brand building, but if you fail the exercise, you will have wasted a lot of time and money. Weight Watchers is an example where it would have been much easier if the company had stuck to its original name instead of changing it to WW.

DrKPI GmbH führt qualitative und quantitative Analysen durch.

Wir optimieren Unternehmen in den Bereichen Unternehmens-kommunikation, Digital- und Content-Marketing sowie Compliance, Datenschutz und Datensicherheit.

Darüber hinaus bietet DrKPI Schulungen, Kurse und Audits.

DrKPI GmbH conducts qualitative and quantitative analyses.

We optimise companies in the areas of Corporate Communications, Digital- and Content-Marketing, as well as Compliance, Data Protection, and Data Security.

In addition, DrKPI offers Training, Seminars, and Audits.

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The above was one attempt to get it right. Below you see the next, just to show how tough a time we had.

Wir optimieren Unternehmen in den Bereichen Unternehmens-kommunikation, Digital-, Content- und Impact-Marketing sowie Compliance, Datenschutz und Datensicherheit.

DrKPI GmbH analysiert inwiefern eine definierbare und messbare Wirkung erzielt wurde.

Darüber hinaus bietet DrKPI Schulungen, Kurse und Audits.

We optimise companies in the areas of Corporate Communications, Digital-, Content- and Impact-Marketing, as well as Compliance, Data Protection, and Data Security.

DrKPI GmbH analyses the extent to which a definable and measurable effect has been achieved.

In addition, DrKPI offers Training, Seminars, and Audits.

This was our second attempt, and still, the elevator pitch is not as good as it must be. More work is needed.

Rebranding

Jean Nidetch founded Weight Watchers, in 1963. In 2018, the company rebranded as WW, but it was a much-mocked effort.

Rebranding is a costly exercise. Using US data, researchers checked 200 rebranding announcements across 101 industries. They reported in their paper that news of a rebrand was linked to an average 2.46% rise in stock prices. Unfortunately, in more than 40% of the cases investigated, the announcements were followed by “negative abnormal returns”.

Hence, we decided to stick with DrKPI. Or in a more colloquial but succinct way, Pilita Clark points out:

“… any company that sticks to a name that is meaningful, legible and simple will always have my vote.”

So the brand stays. Conveying succinctly what we do – research, digital marketing, social media marketing, GDPR and compliance work – is a must. Of course, our own analysis tool helps, but it is not centre stage in our message, just added value for clients.

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Administration needs streamlining

Figuring out that we did not want to rebrand, but needed to change our elevator pitch is a first important step. Additional organisation was needed to assure that we would grow while making a sizeable profit.

So we decided to improve our bottom line. This required that we submit tenders that are built upon much better project management and cost accounting than we had used until now. In turn, this would empower the project manager to keep abreast of progress in both tasks and costs.

Of course, there are tons of tools to choose from. Our team decided on one, but we are still trying to get our head around the online office suite from Zoho. Even signing up requires patience… the process is not that smooth. Moreover, the promised 30-day trial fails if you need to test it with colleagues. I was definitely not amused…

Even though the company provides support, the staff seems to forget that the UK is not in the same time zone as the rest of Europe. They call after work hours or else during lunch. After trying twice they do not try a third time at the time slot suggested. What a case of wasted resources on their end, and a cumbersome experience for any client trying to figure things out.

Zoho is a web-based online office suite. We use Projects and Invoice to streamline things. But it is not easy...



Zoho is a web-based online office suite. We use Projects and Invoice to streamline things, but it’s easier said than done.

But in the larger scheme of things… these difficulties are manageable.

Website pruning or reform is needed

Incidentally we discovered that we needed to restructure or at least archive some of our webpages. In addition to this site, we have far too many sites, such as http://university.commetrics.com.

When you visit http://drkpi.com, the design differs and visitors do not feel they have a unified experience across sections of the site. And now we are in midst of this work… and there is still sooooo much to do.

But our readers will be the first to know when exciting new things happen that improve your user experience and, most importantly, give you a chance to benchmark your marketing efforts using our tools.

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What is your opinion?

When Jean Nidetch founded her company, she chose the name Weight Watchers, but the company rebranded as WW 45 years later. An unfortunate choice, because pronouncing the two letters takes twice as long as the old name does. Moreover, WW is widely understood to mean World War.

The corporate makeover is almost always baffling. This is evidenced by a number of rebranding announcements in the past couple of years including Weight Watchers, Dunkin’ Donuts, and even Pizza Hut, which tried to rebrand itself as ‘The Hut’ in an apparent attempt to appeal to a younger demographic. The rebrand got cancelled before it went live.

We knew that the only thing a rebrand absolutely guarantees is that money will be spent, but the result of the rebrand must always lead to an improved bottom line.

In our case, we had neither a longstanding brand name nor logo, but we needed to improve our focus. And the rebranding was the easy part that followed a long, painful process completed ahead of the launch. Nor did we want to destroy the brand equity we had already built.

Safeguarding brand equity

The why, when, and how of effective rebranding means that brand equity must be protected. Otherwise, the rebuilding is costly.

According to David A. Aaker, brand equity is like a chest of drawers with the following:

  1. Awareness of the brand, meaning our target audience knows about our brand – or not.
  2. Associations with, and beliefs about the brand (e.g., associating the brand with sustainability).
  3. Attitude towards the brand (i.e. positive, negative or no opinion).

And while a rebrand may or may not help financially, the second possibility was not an option for us. Time will tell and yes, our readers will be the first to see the results here in a few weeks.

What do you think?

  • Do you have an example where rebranding or changing a logo was a success with customers?
  • Have you ever gone through a rebranding exercise at your job. How would you rate it, success or flop?
  • Do you have an example of an appalling rebranding announcement? Please let us know below.

Please share this entry on social media using this link: https://blog.drkpi.com/?p=5894

Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Actionable metrics: Business associates deciding which KPI metrics are most useful.
This is another blog entry in our series on metrics.

A short while back somebody asked me this question:

We are helping a company to get more bang for their buck from their social media activities. Of course we also want to develop the necessary KPIs.
In your advisory services, do you have an approach you can recommend?

This blog entry addresses KPIs (key performance indicators).
We also address how one can avoid falling victim to vanity metrics instead of using actionable KPIs. The latter can make a real difference to your bottom line.

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Wine cellar: Inventory needed

I remember when, as a young adult, I worked in a very fine hotel with a great wine cellar that also had a store.

The cellar master told me that to find out what treasures he had in his wine cellar, it was best for us to do an inventory. But while counting bottles was okay, he assured me that was not what he was really after.

Of course, it was nice to know how many bottles there were of each brand and year. However, he was much more interested in learning which wines left the shelves the fastest and sold frequently. He was also keen to know how the various wine types compared when it came to customers complaining about a bottle having gone bad (i.e. had cork pieces when opened).

As the above suggests, his understanding of the term inventory or social media audit included “show me the numbers” – i.e. sales data.

Vanity versus actionable metrics: Navel gazing metrics are out.
Vanity versus actionable: Navel gazing metrics are out.

Knowing what insights we want to gain from a KPI helps develop the metrics that deliver the insights we want. As the wine cellar example shows, choosing insightful metrics makes a huge difference.

The above illustrates that besides counting bottles when doing an inventory or a social media audit, you must address such things as:

  • Which wines sell the most and are beloved by customers – For social media this means, which types of tweets or Instagram posts get the most likes…?
  • Which wines did people complain the most about after consuming the product (e.g., tasted bad) – For social media this means, which bloggers or Facebook users are most likely to complain / write negative entries about the brand…?
  • Which wines get many recommendations or word-of-mouth referrals – For social media this means, which types of tweets or blog entries get re-tweeted or receive many reader comments?

Clearly, the wine-making business and social media marketing have more in common than it would appear at first glance. In both cases, before you move forward you need to take stock. In turn, this allows you to gain insights into what you have already accomplished.

2. Effective KPIs depend on a clear objective

Besides taking an inventory of how good things might be right now, you need to know what objectives you must accomplish next quarter or during dinner.

Is the bottle of wine to woo a friend, impress your boss or just enjoy with your company?

To impress your guests it might suffice to simply purchase the wine that your favourite life style magazine recommended a while back.

Pageviews or likes on Instagram might not be the actionable metrics we want. These are like vanity metrics, i.e. we might feel good about large numbers, but they will most likely fail to move product from our shelves.

We need to decide what insights a KPI provides us with that will help reach our goals fast. To illustrate, Arsene Wenger (Arsenal football team’s longest serving coach) used a few metrics that have become legendary in the UK’s Premier League.

Of course, when considering paying to have a new player transfer to your club, you always want to check the medical data. If the player’s key medical indicators are satisfactory, you try to negotiate and hopefully they end up playing with your club.

But even when the medical data looked okay, Wenger was famous for also immediately checking the striker’s acceleration speed. Acceleration speed was a critial KPI on which he based his decision of whether to pursue a transfer or not.

Wenger was of the opinion that with great acceleration speed, the striker was more likely to win a one-on-one fight for the ball. In turn, this would increase the striker’s likelihood of winning many one-on-one contests. Whenever a striker won a ball this way, he could again use his speed to create situations that might result in another goal. Thierry Henri was one of the more famous examples where Wenger demonstrated the importance of this KPI for evaluating a striker’s potential.

Sharing content on social networks, reading content on your mobile.
Sharing content on social networks, reading content on your mobile.

What does the Wenger example tell us in the context of social media marketing? For starters, we need to decide whether we are dealing with:

  • consumer goods or capital goods, or
  • business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) situations.

Influencer marketing might work with fashion or luxury items, but paying US$ 40,000 or more for an Instagram post does not necessarily correlate to more sales. Without tracking the result with a URL and discount code, we might get many views but zero additional sales.

In the B2B context, a blogger with expertise in the business you are in (e.g., robotics) might be a good strategy. Here, Instagram posts might be a waste of resources.

In short, if your goal is to sell screws and bolts, try to assess if your KPI has any correlation with a desirable outcome, such as higher sales or more repeat sales.

Your focus could be on increasing awareness of your product or brand with your B2B target audience. Regardless, you want to find a KPI that helps measure this. One desirable outcome of your marketing activity on social networks might be you getting more requests for information or new subscribers to your newsletter, and so forth.

♥ Please share this news entry about KPIs and their best use in social media marketing on LinkedIn, Snapchat, Twitter, etc. using this URL: https://blog.drkpi.com/?p=5794 Many thanks! ♥

What is your opinion?

Incidentally, we have not discussed what to look for when purchasing a wine. Any wine connoisseur will tell you that what year and time of year the grapes were harvested matters. Many more factors can be considered for determining how well the wine might taste after it is ready to be sold. Of course, if you want to guzzle the very cheap stuff, this may not concern you at all.

Similarly, you must answer these two questions in social media marketing:

  • what target audience do you intend to reach, and
  • what content will you produce and share on social networks?

Navel gazing or vanity metrics are not very helpful. The KPIs must permit you to gain insights. They must help you improve against yardsticks, such as:

  • number of customers, and
  • amount of sales per client.
Unless you measure for impact, why measure at all?
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Business person reading the insightful DrKPI report full of actionable metrics.
Business person reading the insightful DrKPI report full of actionable metrics.

We love to hear from you!

  • Do you have KPIs that you have used in social media marketing across projects?
  • What KPIs do you use in the B2B versus B2C context?
  • What is your best KPI in a consumer product versus a capital good (e.g., machine) context?
  • What questions do you have about KPIs?
  • What do you like or dislike about KPIs?

Please share this entry on social media using this link: https://blog.drkpi.com/?p=5794

Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

The author declares that some of the companies mentioned herein are clients of CyTRAP Labs or subscribers of DrKPI® services.

Trying to hitchhike to get to your destination.

This is the fourth in a series of blog entries about the concept of blockchain.
Blockchain is a decentralised database that keeps track of all transactions between participants in the system.
Blockchains are intended to help sellers and buyers, for instance:

1. Counterfeits can be prevented from entering a company’s supply chain, and
2. Consumer scams can be stopped before they begin.

♥ READ about blockchain in German and on the Vault Security Systems blog

Blockchain possibilities

Nakamoto (pseudonym) stated that the objective of a blockchain was to provide users with:

an electronic payment system based on cryptographic proof instead of trust.

Interesting read: Nakamoto, S. (2008). Bitcoin, a peer-to-peer electronic cash system. Retrieved March 5, 2019 from https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf

The scope of use for such peer-to-peer crypto-currency platforms has grown considerably. Since the beginning, most blockchains have included five elements:

1. Anonymity of the blockchain’s users. This is accomplished by use of a public / private key pair. Each user of the blockchain is identified by the public key. Authentication is then completed by signing with the private key. This is neither a new procedure nor invented by blockchain.

2. Distributed but centralised ledger. Several transactions are stored together in what is called a block. Each block contains a part of the digital signature or hash of the following transaction.
The network of nodes (i.e. many computers) guarantee a unique order of transactions – for example, how they happened according to the timestamp, and validate the block of transactions.
The ledger contains all blocks of transactions. Once it is published on the network, it is immutable.

3. Consensus algorithm for mining (i.e. process of adding transaction records). This is a way to ensure all the copies of the ledger are the same. Each transaction must be approved by members of the community. Transactions are accepted when consensus between validating nodes has been reached.
This is expensive because it requires a lot of data storage and energy to maintain the system.

4. Single purpose focused. For instance, Bitcoin performs a single purpose only, i.e. to sell and trade its tokens. Such blockchains do not contain programming features to allow solving computational problems. The latter enables the blockchain to be used in a multi-purpose setting.

5. Trading of tokens. Tokens are used, for instance, to pay people who run mining operations that require much energy (see point 3). Investors or speculators buy and sell tokens to benefit from market up- or down-swings.
Transactions involving these tokens are stored on the ledger.

The above describes a blockchain such as the one used by Bitcoin to allow the trading of tokens. Its purpose is to maintain a ledger that accounts for who owns how many tokens. Moreover,

    1. owners of these coins remain anonymous,
    2. transactions cannot be reversed once they haven been executed, and
    3. if one loses one’s private cryptographic key, the tokens cannot be recovered – i.e. they are ‘lost’.

Interesting read: Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak discovered that point 2 applies when he had $70,000 in Bitcoin stolen after falling for a simple, yet perfect, scam.

Lots of experts do not like such single purpose platforms, especially if they focus on trading tokens only. For instance, Bruce Scheiner wrote in February 2019:

“Honestly, cryptocurrencies are useless. They’re only used by speculators looking for quick riches, people who don’t like government backed currencies, and criminals who want a black-market way to exchange money.”

Blockchain - a single one will not do.

Blockchain – a single one will not do.

What now?

The above illustrates that single-purpose blockchains may not be that useful to businesses to protect their supply chain or provide additional data services to their clients. To illustrate, in the enterprise or global trade context, programming features need to be offered in order to process various computational problems in the blockchain.

watch the WEF Davos interview on bloxlive.tv here

Another reason why single purpose blockchains are not useful for companies is that if clients have an issue, nobody is there to mediate the dispute. In most business applications, it seems most feasible to implement a combination of features of a consortium / private-type blockchain to better protect and manage data, as well as goods and services being traded.

Table 2 – Checklist: Deployment Models for a Blockchain
Type Access Key Characteristics Typical Use Cases
Public Unrestricted Distributed (multiple copies, immutable), consensus algorithm and currency (i.e. token) Cryptocurrencies,   general purpose
Consortium Restricted to consortium members (public may have read-only access) Immutable and distributed Consortium-specific cases, such as trade between members
Private Restricted to single entity, read-only access can be public / unrestricted Internal audit, database management, supply chain within corporation and its subsidiaries

Note. Adapted and expanded upon from Uhlmann, Sacha (2017). Reducing counterfeit products with blockchains. Master Thesis, Univ. of Zurich. Accessed 2019-01 at https://www.merlin.uzh.ch/contributionDocument/download/10024

Case 1

To illustrate, a replacement part is shipped from the original manufacturer. Each time the part enters the warehouse of the next party in the distribution chain, this is added to the block of transactions (e.g., wholesaler, importer). The final transaction occurs when the mechanic replaces the defective part in the car with the new, genuine one. Once this final transaction is stored on the block, the block is completed and digitally signed. The block is now ‘closed’.

With this block of transactions, the car owner now has proof that the defective part was replaced with a genuine one – not a fake. On this blockchain, both parts are being tracked, as well as work provided by the car dealer and the repair shop. Reselling and other car servicing data will also be stored on the blockchain.

In short, a single purpose blockchain will not be the best strategy. Only a multi-functional one will permit all these different types of transactions to be stored safely on the blockchain.

Interesting read:  Tabora, Vince (2018-08-04). A blockchain is a database, unfortunately a database is not a blockchain explains differences nicely.

Remind me when I have to take my car in for service. Original parts only...

Remind me when I have to take my car in for service. Original parts only…

What is your opinion?

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Distributed ledger technologies are collectively known as blockchain. Blockchain is a decentralised database that keeps track of all transactions between participants in the system. Several transactions are stored together in what is called a block. These are connected to other blocks in chronological order according to their time stamp.

Any corruption of the chain of transactions after consensus was reached will quickly be discovered, because the corruption of this chain of transactions is visible. This also makes a blockchain very safe against fraudulent activity.

While they offer great opportunities, we have to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to blockchain hype. We hope this blog entry helps you in that process.

What do you think?

  • Do you have experience with crypto tokens?
  • Is your company trying to use blockchain technology to make its processes faster, more efficient or transparent for its customers or suppliers?
  • What questions do you have about blockchain?
  • What do you like or dislike about blockchain?

Please share this entry on social media using this link: https://blog.drkpi.com/?p=4904

Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

The author declares that some of the companies mentioned herein are clients of CyTRAP Labs or subscribers of DrKPI® services.

Fake bags being sold at the beach promenade in Barcelona.

This is the third in a series of blog entries about the concept of blockchain. For most of us, the problem is all too familiar: a fire sweeps through someone’s home, reducing their treasures to ashes.

The worst is when that person finds out that, not only have the much-loved treasures (whatever they may be) gone up in flames, so have their documents of ownership, tucked away in a drawer in the same home. Proving their ownership rights to the insurer now becomes considerably harder.

But the same can happen when somebody robs you. As Arman Sarhaddar, CEO of Vault Security Systems AG (with its iVAULT brand of products) explains:

These days, in some places not even your locked and supposedly guarded storage space may be safe. That happened to me – when I returned, my valuables and personal items were gone.

The above example is one case where blockchain can help the consumer, and even the insurer. Many more applications are also feasible. We explain some of the technical issues below.

1. What are we trying to accomplish?

The blockchain can help answer the important questions listed in Table 1 below.

Table 1 – Checklist: What challenges do we solve with the blockchain?
What are we trying to do? What value do we want to capture? For whom is this of use?
Record the transaction Information and knowledge about what changed hands Clients
Track the transaction Attribution and who is responsible Suppliers
Verify the transaction Access to records or permission to view them Manufacturers of goods
Aggregate transaction Ownership Creditors or investors
Reputation and trust Public agencies
Contracts Employees
Transaction ledger

Table. Adapted and expanded upon from Felin, Teppo and Lakhani, Karim (Fall 2018). What problems will you solve with blockchain. MIT Sloan Management Review, p. 36. Retrieved 2018-10-20 from http://sloanreview.mit.edu/x/6015. See also https://blog.drkpi.com/show-me-the-facts-1/

A blockchain attempts to maintain a permanent, trusted database, which the owner, and trusted advisors and manufacturers have access to only with a secure key. In turn, history and proof of purchase, the provenance of works in a collection and all related legal and insurance documents can be held on a blockchain.

However, before you decide to use a blockchain, it helps to address the questions outlined below:

  • Do multiple parties share data?
  • Do multiple parties update data?
  • Is there a requirement for verification?
  • Can intermediaries be removed and reduce cost and complexity?

If you answered yes to three of the above questions, then you have the potential to apply blockchain.

Blockchain technology - What kind of blockchain is best for me?

Blockchain technology – What kind of blockchain is best for me?

2. Privacy

The traditional blockchain paradigm is complete transparency. Business applications, however, need to meet certain privacy criteria.

Not all transactions should be visible to everyone. The reasons for this may range from concerns of commercial confidentiality, to legal requirements.

Regulations, such as Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) simply make it impossible for companies to make all data accessible. Instead, some information, such as a patients ID number, must be protected.

Thus, any enterprise blockchain platform should provide an extensive set of privacy features. Only then, can GDPR compliance be assured (see this resource page from MC Lago – checklists and forms that help)

3. Security

Another requirement, closely related to privacy, is security. Businesses usually need to prevent data theft at all costs. They also need to ensure all actors are clearly identified. Again, this necessity might be imposed by the business case or by regulations.

Thus, enterprise blockchains need to implement authentication features and control who can participate in the network.

Security, Safety, Privacy, and Data Protection: Vaultsecurity.ch to the rescue.

Security, Safety, Privacy, and Data Protection: Vaultsecurity.ch to the rescue.

4. Transaction throughput

As Table 2 below illustrates, public blockchains may have advantages, but transaction throughput and energy consumption levels may not be to everyone’s liking.

Enterprise applications are usually transaction-intense and need to be scaled in terms of transaction throughput.

At the other extreme, public blockchains need to be scaled in terms of the number of nodes that can participate in the consensus protocol.

In most enterprise applications the number of validator nodes can be relatively small: for example, one representative per company participating in the consortium. Thus, transaction throughput can be prioritised.

Hence, enterprise applications may not be public. Instead a combination of features of a consortium / private-type blockchain may be used.

Table 2 – Checklist: Deployment Models for a Blockchain
Access Key Characteristics Typical Use Cases
Public Unrestricted Immutable and distributed Cryptocurrencies,   general purpose
Consortium Restricted to consortium members (public may have read-only access) Immutable and distributed Consortium-specific cases, such as trade between members
Private Restricted to single entity, read-only access can be public / unrestricted Internal audit, database management, supply chain within corporation and its subsidiaries

Note. Adapted and expanded upon from Uhlmann, Sacha (2017). Reducing counterfeit products with blockchains. Master Thesis, Univ. of Zurich. Accessed 2019-01 at https://www.merlin.uzh.ch/contributionDocument/download/10024

By the way, the video below shows in a straightforward way how the blockchain principle can work for you and that its foundations – asymmetric cryptography and distributed systems – have been known for decades by computing science researchers.

Also check out iVAULT on bloxlive.tv – Interview at #WEF2019

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5. What is your opinion?

Distributed ledger technologies are collectively known as blockchain. While they offer great opportunities, we have to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to hype. We hope this blog entry helps you in that process.

What interests us, however, is what you think:

  • Do you have experience with crypto tokens?
  • Is your company trying to use blockchain technology to make its processes faster, more efficient or transparent for its customers or suppliers?
  • What questions do you have about blockchain?
  • What do you like or dislike about blockchains?

Please share this entry on social media using this link: https://blog.drkpi.com/?p=1990

Danyele Boland Co-founder of Vault Security Systems AG

In December, we gave you insights into the #iVAULT blockchain, the new brand by Vault Security Systems AG, and the DrKPI production of the first three videos for iVAULT.

Now, we are happy to provide you with an update, available on YouTube, which is an additional clip to introduce you to Danyele Boland. She is the co-founder of Vault Security Systems AG (VSSAG) and as passionate about her business as the rest of the team.

If you need to know more about iVault or the minds behind this idea, read more here:

To stay tuned and get the latest updates on Vault, sign up for our newsletter here. Or subscribe to the iVAULT Newsletter here.

Danyele Boland: “Why I am involved”

iVAULT is a global network for users to register assets, such as lost or stolen property, to search for and identify them on a blockchain. These items can be anything of value to the individual user of the iVAULT blockchain. Companies and businesses, on the other hand, can protect their supply chain against counterfeits and contraband.

Working with Danyele was a special treat. She is a charismatic and intelligent speaker, and it did not take us long to get some great shots, even though she had just arrived from the US.

With years of experience in international sales, human resource management, logistics, and much more, she is an irreplaceable part of the VSSAG team.

In her video, Danyele recalls when Arman Sarhaddar told her about his storage unit getting robbed. He lost some of his most valued belongings. This is how they got the idea to create a platform to secure physical assets such as luxury watches, pieces of art or jewellery, or anything else that is of some value to its owner.

Gain more insights on her perspective and what she tells us about blockchain technology here:

https://youtu.be/LeMDFZ7zD98

What’s your opinion?

iVAULT is the first global network to use blockchain technology for registering and identifying assets (such as lost items or stolen goods). It lets users register their items on the blockchain, search for, and identify them.

So, what do you think?

  • Have you ever used a blockchain?
  • Do you want to try iVAULT, or do you still have some concerns?
  • Have you ever had a problem iVAULT would have immediately solved? You lost something of great value or bought a fake product? It must have been very upsetting. Tell us about it, we’d like to hear your story.

Join in the discussion and leave a comment. We will respond soon.

The author declares that some of the companies mentioned herein are clients of CyTRAP Labs or subscribers of DrKPI® services.
Crowdsourcing consumers started in 2007 with getting them in creating selfie videos to asking them to design luxury watches today | Author : Rawpixel.com| Fotolia #88900750

Summary: The Trump administration’s tougher stance on China will surely continue to curtail global trade.
Apple CEO Tim Cook’s letter to shareholders in 2019 blames weaker economies and trade tension for lower revenues.
What it all means for marketers, strategists, and investors.
Read #DrKPI’s 11 trends for 2019 and get the insight story!

Share this blog entry: DrKPI’s 2019 trends: Google, Apple, Facebook, or Amazon?

Creating buzz is of interest to any brand manager I have talked to recently, but it keeps getting harder and harder to get it right. In the recent past, social media was useful to reach certain client groups. But will it still work tomorrow?

Remember Second Life? In Spring 2008, Madagascar and Sweden each raced to open a virtual embassy on the platform. By 2012 Flickr was a popular photo sharing site. Today, Instagram has surpassed it.

BMW and others spent plenty to engage with users on Second Life. And today? The platform still exists, but most large brands have pretty much withdrawn from it. If that isn’t enough to convince you that putting your bet on one or two platforms is risky, Beebo was once a formidable Facebook competitor – and who remembers MySpace?

Our past predictions covered these changes with 78% accuracy.

For 2019, we again address the trends in marketing and business policy as we expect them to unfold and why this matters to investors.

Just click on the hyperlinked points below to read more.

♥ Curious? Join 1,500 other subscribers to this blog’s newsletter and read on!

1. How things were…

One way to get more buzz, in theory, is getting customers involved. In the past, some companies like Starbucks did it on their Facebook page. A popular way to get more likes or comments was giving people free goodies or coupons to get their next cuppa for free.

Long before that became so boring, however, Fast Retailing in Japan invited clients and bloggers to produce their own short videos.

Sounds stale, but in summer 2007 this was innovative and a creative way to get buzz on social media. In particular, it got those target audiences involved – the same people that were supposed to flock to your outlets when the new line of apparel went on sale in your stores.

The company produced a whole series of videos that bloggers were invited to show on their own blogs.

What was innovative was that it produced plenty of content, including videos, photos, text, and so forth. Most important, it was easy for bloggers to embed such fan-produced content along with their own blog posts.

In 2007, shared content and using a press campaign to launch a new line of apparel got attention, but will it suffice 12 years later in 2019? Of course not!

Much has changed since then.

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[embeddoc url=”https://blog.drkpi.com/wp-content/files/Fast-Retailing-Uniqlo-offers-free-uniqlock-blog-parts-in-new-promotion-June-2007.pdf” width=”100%” viewer=”google”]
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Go back in time with UNIQLO new media promotion or view it on Fast Retailing’s webpage, where it is still shown (a very good thing). Or visit the Uniqlo international retailer website – no news is good news?. See also Fast Retailing cuts profit guidance for third time in 2016.

2. Broadcasting was, is, and continues to be… OUT

Private as well as corporate blogs have been with us for some time. But around 2011 many companies started to focus on social networks instead of corporate blogs. Since 2016, fast-growing and large companies seem to have rediscovered public-facing corporate blogs, however:

  • 55% of Inc. 500 – the fastest growing companies in the US – use blogs, the third yearly increase since 2015.
  • 53% of Fortune 500 companies use blogs, an 11% increase since 2017.

53% of Fortune 500 and 55% of Inc. 500 firms in the US have public-facing blogs. Source: Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.

53% of Fortune 500 and 55% of Inc. 500 firms in the US have public-facing blogs. Source: Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.

While blogs have regained momentum in the US, in Europe several companies and charities have orphaned their blogs (Caritas Zurich), or taken them down completely (e.g., Möbel-Pfister, Oxfam).

The primary reason may be a lack of understanding of how important blog content can be for branding, SEO (search engine optimisation), and getting increasing engagement from your target audience. Some had their budget reallocated or began re-focusing on their press releases.

Other misunderstandings about corporate blogs’ potential for getting your target audience’s attention can be:

  1. Believing your target audience cares about company events or new products, and
  2. thinking high-quality content requires neither time, investigation nor a writer that really understands the topic.

As well, the novelty of commenting on corporate blog sites, especially considering boring content, has long since worn off. As we know at DrKPI, it takes effort to get reader comments – i.e. engagement – for your corporate blogs.

When producing content like videos, for example, just ask these two questions:

  1. Why should your target reader view your content and spend time writing a comment?
  2. Are you answering these comments? If so, are you doing it in the right way? If you get comments, a thoughtful answer of each one is a must to show respect and appreciation for your reader or viewer.

So some people are falling back into behaviour from the lates 1990 and early 2000s: Broadcast and many will listen. Really? I don’t think so!

3. #Crowdsourcing can matter

Crowdsourcing can mean many things. One example is Patek Philippe and Beyer Chronometrie (the oldest watch shop in Switzerland). They invited the latter’s employees to create buzz and attention with customers.

35 submissions from Beyer Chronometrie employees were made in the contest for the best design. One employee’s design was chosen as the winner of this contest.

The winner’s design was then used to produce a luxury Dom-Pendulette of which Patek Philippe only produces a few each year. Unfortunately, whatever else the employee may have received and whether she did her designing during work hours at Beyer Chronometrie is not known.

In this case, Beyer Chronometrie did a write-up in its magazine that is available online. It was also mailed in print form to clients. (Picture taken from the Beyer magazine, Beyond, Nr. 22 / 2016 – page 50 shows the winner of the design contest with the completed Dom-Pendulette.)

Patek Philippe CEO Thierry Stern and René Beyer had the idea to get Beyer employees to design samples, with the winner used to create a luxury Dom-Pendulette. #Crowdsourcing to create #BrandBuzz (via print media, etc.).

Patek Philippe CEO Thierry Stern and René Beyer had the idea to get Beyer employees to design samples, with the winner used to create a luxury Dom-Pendulette.
#Crowdsourcing was used to create #BrandBuzz (via print media, etc.).

This is certainly an attractive approach for creating synergies between the manufacturer and the retailer. The latter’s employees may even create brand buzz, if they share their experience on the web.

However, it continues to be ever harder to stand out to your target audience. And even if you do, there’s no guarantee that they’ll spend time with your content.

Incidentally, micro-influencers such as employees or your customers are far more authentic and trustworthy to your target audience than people who sell their services as influencers.

4. The more things change, the more they stay the same

The video shown under point 1 above is just one of many options that companies were and still are using to get their customers involved in campaigns. In 2007, Uniqlo was able to get quite a lot of #brandbuzz for its Fall collection release.

But in 2019 this will not be good enough.

[su_box title=”2019 trends that are known facts ” box_color=”#86bac5″ title_color=”#ffffff”]

What we know

a) Seen that, have the t-shirt

Many users are inundated with ads, content, news tickers, and so on. The content must be good enough so people want to share it.
Creating something that sticks in people’s minds is a challenge for any brand or company AND it is getting even tougher.

b) People always want more for less

Some younger consumers may not want to pay to attend an event that is being sponsored by a brand. And even if it is free, they may not be satisfied with what they get.

Incidentally, millennials (born 1981 – 1997) are not that different than the older generation when it comes to consumer habits. BUT they are the first generation since 1950 to be worse off than their parents (see OECD data).

c) Sharing economy grows as market domination is on the rise

Ever more people use AirBnB, Uber and many other services. As these companies try to optimize their tax bill, free-riding by companies avoiding taxes and social insurance contributions is increasing (see also point 8 and 9 below).

While consumers want the best deal from companies shirking their social responsibilities, they fight for secure jobs with lots of fringe benefits and lower gas taxes – France’s Yellow Shirt demonstrators. Oddly enough, consumers seem to be comfortable with these seemingly conflicting standpoints.

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Millennials in OECD countries have less real disposable income than their parents - by DrKPI

Millennials in OECD countries have less real disposable income than their parents – by DrKPI

As the above graphic indicates, real wages and therefore also real disposable income have hardly increased. This means millennials might be strapped for cash in some cities (e.g., New York, Paris or Munich), were apartment prices, public transport, as well as entertainment costs eat up much of the disposable earnings available. In turn, not having a car may be as much an economic decision as an evironmental one.

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TRENDS that we should take into consideration

4. 1990 was about webpage strategy, today a hashtag strategy is a must

In 1990 some early adopters started to add their URLs and email addresses to a business card or company stationary. Today a company needs to use hashtags in content, on social media posts, in blogs, and everywhere else.

Using a hashtag such as#ccTiM for Competence Circle Technology and Innovation Management, or #DrKPI for our own brand is a start. For starters, just using a hashtag in a print ad would suggest your c-suite fails to understand the digital economy and search marketing. Not a good thing – you’ve got some educating to do.

Actress Jane Fonda, the 1980s fitness queen made videos that millions of people purchased and used to stay fit. Nevertheless, she neither had a webpage nor a hashtag strategy.

A very different example is Kayla Itsines. She is neither called an actress nor a fitness trainer, but most experts and media call her an influencer. Nevertheless, she has built a virtual fitness conglomerate with more than 22 million fans, partly using social media. Hashtags are part of her marketing strategy, such as.

  • #DeathbyKayla are selfies posted by her fans after having done a strenuous training session, or
  • #KaylasArmy and #BBG (Bikini Body Guide), which are both about her fans’ training progress and successes.

More info: #MCLago – 2018 Hashtag strategy makes the difference

5. #Crowdsourcing must be carefully managed

We all want the crowd to help us, but morals and ethics must also play a part. For example, it is unhelpful if the public, customers or employees perceive the situation as exploiting one’s employees.

Getting the latter involved is one thing, but making their sharing of content on social media a must threatens the authenticity of your brand, an, in turn, the trust of your customers (see image below).

More info: #helpIlayda crowdfunding campagin: The interview

6. Experiential word-of-mouth marketing is critical to protect brands

Word-of-mouth is helpful for spreading the word about a position at your organisation. Of course, your employer appreciates if you love your brand, spread cheers, and maybe help raise awareness about it on your Instagram account.

But ever more important is that clients that have used or experienced your product, service, etc. talk about their great experience. Even if things go wrong, take care of the problem, learn from your mistakes – and talk / write about it!

Both Jane Fonda and Kayla Itsines are both successful in business. But Kayla uses Word-of-mouth (#WOM) marketing and #crowdsourcing (including hashtags #DeathbyKayla and #BBG) to spread her virtual fitness empire around the globe (see also point 4). She is called an influencer while Jane Fonda was ‘only’ an actress. But what’s the difference?

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Functionality helps improve client's trust in brand, loyalty to brand, and word-of-mouth about the brand - by DrKPI

Functionality helps improve client’s trust in brand, loyalty to brand, and word-of-mouth about the brand – by DrKPI

The above chart shows that building brand strength, trust, awareness, and loyalty can all benefit from word-of-mouth by your customers about how great your product is… such as value for money, innovation, great service. You know the drill.

By the way, just because media houses have rediscovered podcasts does not make this a trend we need to be concerned about. #DrKPI staff did podcasts starting in 2005 until about 2009, when it got a bit boring.

Welcome to the latecomers! And no, your customers or investors will rarely care about your corporate podcasts unless you are Apple’s Steve Cook announcing that you sold less or more than predicted for this quarter…

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What is just around the corner – watch out, beware, and take care

What Google, Apple, Facebook, or Amazon worry about are the things listed below.

7. Walk-out technology: Aldi, Amazon, BP, Shell, Wal-Mart

Will you shop at your favourite neighbourhood store next Christmas or will “Amazon Go” and stores using other walk-out technology get your hard-earned cash (oops cashless shopping)?

Cameras, sensors, and so on will continue to disrupt your shopping experience. Nevertheless, having a short chat with the cashier is still more enjoyable than scanning the products yourself.

Having purchased overpriced processed or pre-cooked / prepared food at Amazon Go or your gas station convenience store does not make me enjoy shopping. Does it do it for you?

8. 2019: #Blockchain will become boring

Many of the projects launched in 2017 are getting close to getting beyond the prototype. Smart contracts are being put in place to take real advantage of the blockchain (a system of distributed ledgers).

More info: Blockchain – protect your assets – what is a blockchain video

9. #GAFAtax: Nothing is free, and free-riding is out

The Google, Apple, Facebook, and Apple (GAFA) tax went into effect in France on January 1, 2019. The UK intends to follow in 2020 after EU-wide efforts stalled. The French government hopes to raise €500 million with GAFA.

France and other EU member states such as Germany want to tax companies according to where their digital users are based.

On a side note, the past few months have seen Apple’s share price take the sort of fall that would usually result in an Apple Watch calling for an ambulance.

10. People have to care about each other before they care about the environment

All of us, except maybe President Trump, are aware that climate change is causing increasingly severe problems with droughts and storms. Nevertheless, unless we care enough about each other, we will be unwilling to do our share to solve the problem.

Therefore, shopping trips to cities like London or New York, or weekend trips to far away places for adrenalin junkies will continue to increase in 2019.

11.  Google might collapse, Amazon could run the world and Apple?

Ever more people block mobile ads (e.g., with your iPhone) and an ever larger group in North America search for products on Amazon first, not Google.  Also, people have trained themselves to ignore online or mobile ads entirely, a phenomenon that is also called “banner blindness.”

2017 Amazon Web Services (AWS) dominated with a 33.8% global market share. Microsoft, Google and IBM together accounted for 30.8%…
In 2019 AWS is surely gonna account for about 63% of Amazon’s profits (growth continues).

Alexa does well and YouTube/Google are trying to get you to subscribe to all types of content including music and podcasts.
In 2019 Apple’s revenue from services like iMusic, iCloud, AppStore will account for about 20%, compared to today’s 15% of its revenues.

What is clear is that searching for new products are ever more happening on Amazon and more and more users are blocking ads. And while Apple is moving from a hardware provider over to become more of a service one, Google’s search for revenues beyond ads continues.

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By the way, regardless of what you do, interesting content is popular – but what is interesting? For instance, US teens care mostly about groups and online forums that have content regarding hobbies such as gaming (41%), humour (40%), pop culture, and sports (both 28%)… position 9 is politics (9%). (Pew Research, Nov. 2018)

5. Have your say – join the conversation

What is your opinion?

  • What important 2019 trends for marketers, strategists, and investors did we forget?
  • Know of other great blog entries on these topics? Provide a URL for our readers in the comments below!
  • When was the last time you shopped for a brand or stayed at a hotel because of your awareness of the brand or positive feelings toward the brand?

Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

The author declares that some of the companies mentioned herein are clients of CyTRAP Labs or subscribers of DrKPI® services.

Thanks for reading. If you liked this one, you should follow me for the next one (or get the RSS feed if you prefer) and learn about another way the market changes.

Arman Sarhaddar and Urs E. Gattiker preparing for the iVault video shooting in Zurich

Three new DrKPI videos are out now on YouTube.
Counterfeiting and theft are a global problem that is growing. Billions of dollars of damage are recorded every year.
Here, we explain how you can protect yourself against both counterfeiting and theft using iVAULT.

“Protect what’s yours.” That is exactly what you will be able to do with iVAULT. This new brand was created by Vault Security Systems AG.

This blog entry is about the three videos we created with Arman Sarhaddar, Urs E. Gattiker, and Lothar Rentschler, all engaged in their work for #iVAULT.

If you prefer to read their statements, you can find each of them here:

  1. Urs E. Gattiker, COO: What is a blockchain and what does iVAULT do with this technology?
  2. Arman Sarhaddar, CEO and founder: Why I created iVAULT
  3. Lothar Rentschler, CMO: Initial thoughts on marketing

Read this blog entry in German here.

To stay tuned and get the latest updates on Vault, sign up for our newsletter here.

1. What makes iVAULT special?

Urs E. Gattiker, Chief Operating Officer of Vault Security Systems AG, talks a little bit about the basics:

  1. What is a blockchain?
  2. 4 challenges iVAULT helps clients with.
  3. How does iVAULT ensure that no fakes enter their supply chain?

Remember when your club or association kept a petty cash book or ledger on paper? Each record was entered by hand, and then we started doing it all with accounting software, possibly customised for use in associations.

To be sure things were done properly, we probably had two club members act as auditors. They checked the books, including petty cash, and reported back to the other members at the annual meeting.

This is much easier with iVAULT. All club members or a selected group (e.g., board, advisory board, and elected auditors) can have a copy of the books in digital, encrypted form. This distributed system records each booking, which is then entered permanently onto the books once the majority agrees. Entering it onto the blockchain also means it can no longer be altered, unless others agree to the alterations.

With iVAULT, the new platform, we can keep our association’s books via the blockchain. Additionally, an individual may register their assets in the data bank. It can be seen and checked by everyone on thousands of computers, and the data cannot be manipulated. This means that if you want to buy a product secondhand, you can be sure that the person selling it to you is the true owner. Most important, if purchasing a used luxury car, jewellery, or expensive technical equipment, you know that what you think you’re buying is what you’ll get.

No fakes, only the original with genuine parts.

iVAULT offers four advantages:

  • Authenticity: Consumers can be sure that they’re not buying stolen or fake products.
  • Compliance: Streamlining your governance processes.
  • Information Security: iVAULT helps better protect consumer data while strengthening privacy.
  • Costs: Reducing costs, while speeding up transactions in the supply chain.

Urs explains this in a video, with an example:

If we want to buy a luxury car secondhand, we want to be sure that all data about the car are true.
This challenge iVAULT addresses by providing you with 100% assurance of that, because data, once entered onto the blockchain, can no longer be altered or even falsified.
You can trust that what you buy is what you get. As well, the company can assure its customers that they get the original product. In turn, this helps protect the company’s reputation.

We can check the information on every computer:

  • Which garage did the warranty work,
  • was the car in a major accident, and
  • more factors that affect its value and dependability (e.g., mileage and major repairs).

That is why we can protect what’s ours with iVAULT. But how did this idea originate?

2. Why I created iVAULT

Arman Sarhaddar, Chief Executive Officer und founder of Vault Security Systems AG, tells his own personal story in the video below.

It is what inspired him, along with his team, to create iVAULT.

With his personal belongings in a storage facility, he would have gladly used iVAULT, had it existed. When he was robbed seven years ago, having iVAULT available would have given him a real chance to recover his stolen treasures, and things he loved.

Watch the video of this very personal story below.

Arman lost all the things he gave to a storage facility, like a wooden sculpture and his complete music production studio.

With iVAULT, everyone can register, search for, and identify assets, such as lost or stolen items. Consumers can look up the information given by a seller about a watch, a painting, a car – almost anything – to check if the seller is the true owner and has the right to sell it.

For companies, the benefit can be even greater. For example, when fake medication is sold online, it damages the business’ image, and hurts patients. iVAULT makes it possible to identify counterfeits, both medication, and medical technology.

3. Initial thoughts on marketing

Lothar Rentschler, Chief Marketing Officer, explains that customer happiness, as well as service, is essential to iVAULT’s vision and mission.

iVAULT is about providing a new level of security and comfort for consumers and businesses alike. It is an outstanding solution for counterfeiting and theft. iVAULT helps to protect your goods, and that is why everyone on the team is certain of the market potential of the new brand.

Last but not least, if you want to read more about the shooting take an exclusive look at us behind the scenes.

4. What’s your opinion?

iVAULT is the first global network to use blockchain technology for registering and identifying assets (such as lost items or stolen goods). It lets users register their items on the blockchain, search for them, and identify them.

  • Have you ever used a blockchain?
  • Do you want to try iVAULT, or do you still have concerns?
  • Have you experienced something like Arman Sarhaddar did? Did you lose something of great value or buy a fake product? It must have been very upsetting. Tell us about it, we would to hear your story.

Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

The author declares that some of the companies mentioned herein are clients of CyTRAP Labs or subscribers of DrKPI® services.