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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.

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.

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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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.

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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.

What will the future bring? Nobody knows but we want to be part of it.

Blockchain has become the buzzword of the year 2018.
Apparently, simply adding it to a start-up elevator pitch helps convince more people that they should invest.
But do investors understand what blockchain technology is about?

This is the first blog entry of a series of posts regarding Technology, Innovation and Management #ccTIM.
The main question is, why should I use blockchain in marketing or sales of a Fast Moving Consumer Product (FMCP)?

The fact that people are not always sure what it means is illustrated by Absatzwirtschaft, a monthly publication. Its October 2018 issue carries a special section on blockchains. While it explains a few things and lists important facts, some portions remain confusing to the uninitiated.

This blog entry will clarify some facts about blockchain for you.

Understand what matters

Blockchain allows a transaction to be permanently recorded on a database shared between computers, without relying on a third party to authenticate or process it.

What makes it attractive for consumers as well as companies is that immutability and security are written into blockchain. As well, because no single authority is in charge of the ledger, no one may remove entries or fiddle with them.

Here are three examples:

  • Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency that wants to eliminate the middleman in finance, such as banks.
    It runs on a blockchain that has been used since 2009 to underpin the working of the currency.
    Bitcoin offers one particular application of blockchain technology, a peer to peer electronic cash system that enables online Bitcoin payments.
  • Ethereum aims to bypass online giants such as Amazon, eBay and Facebook.
    It wants to achieve this laudable objective by allowing automated agreements to guarantee users a service.
  • Vaultsecurity.io aims to help those who suffer a break-in or a fire in their home.
    Vaultsecurity creates a permanent, trusted database of valuables that anyone may access with a secure key. In turn, selling lost or stolen goods becomes very difficult, if not impossible.

Bitcoin blockchain is used to track ownership of digital currency (bitcoins). In contrast, Ethereum blockchain focuses on running the programming code of any decentralized application. Other open source systems include Hyperledger, which has five projects.

In contrast to Ethereum, Hyperledger Fabric (one of the five projects mentioned above) provides different roles to the participants within the network. Examples are Peers (e.g., customers), Endorsers (e.g., a jewellery store), and Orderers (e.g., a manufacturer).

The internet is to email what a blockchain is to Bitcoin or Vaultsecurity. A big electronic system, on top of which you can build applications. Currencies, such as bitcoin, are just one possible application.

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Blockchain depends on distributed computing and cryptography.

Blockchain depends on distributed computing and cryptography.

Key questions for designing a blockchain are listed below. We need to figure out what we are trying to do, the value we want to capture, and for whom this is useful.

What are we trying to do? What value do we want to capture? For whom is this of use?
Record transaction Information and knowledge about what changed hands Clients
Track transaction Attribution and who is responsible Suppliers
Verify transaction Access or permission to records Manufacturer 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/

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Besides the more general questions above we feel it is necessary to answer the seven questions below.

Answering these questions is critical

Before you start considering working with a blockchain, it is advisable to answer seven questions that will help you decide whether a blockchain is the best way to go (listed below).

[su_box title=”7 questions to be answered before developing a blockchain” box_color=”#86bac5″ radius=”9″ class=”aligncenter max-width: 700px”]

  1. Do multiple parties share data?
    Example: Manufacturer, distributor, and retail customer.
  2. Do multiple parties update data?
    Example: Customer updates sale to another collector, both inform distributor and manufacturer.
  3. Is there a requirement for verification?
    Example: Manufacturer doing repairs wants to know if person claiming ownership of an asset does rightfully own the asset.
  4. Can intermediaries be removed and thereby reduce cost and complexity?
    Example: Can Amazon, eBay or others be avoided to possibly save costs, and keep customer data to ourselves.
  5. Does a blockchain possibly help comply with, if not exceed, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (2018-05-25) and the California Consumer Privacy Act – Assembly Bill No. 375, CHAPTER 55 (2018-06-27) requirements?
    Example: Can a wealthy client protect their assets while being assured their identity is protected from general public knowledge (e.g., public figure or movie star).
  6. Does the blockchain help reduce trade in stolen goods and fake luxury items?
    Example: How can a potential buyer be sure that jewellery, antiques, or a luxury product are not stolen or fakes?
    Recording, tracking, verifying, and aggregating of information about an asset can further reduce the risks as outlined here.

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Resources: Microsoft, DrKPI, #MCLago White Paper about the GDPR (Tools) Data Protection

With blockchains, no single one-size-fits-all approach is useful.

Cyberspace and Security: Blockchain

Cyberspace and Security: Blockchain

Initial Coin Offering (ICO): One way to use a blockchain

The scalability and user-friendliness of some applications may not be satisfactory. For instance:

  • Ethereum can currently process fifteen transactions per second, while
  • Visa can handle 45,000 transactions per second.

The main benefit of using blockchain is for recording, tracking, verifying, and aggregating of information.

For instance, Initial Coin Offering (ICO) requires a transaction ledger to allow a company and an investor to take advantage of an alternative fundraising mechanism. With an ICO, a start-up can issue their own crypto tokens and get needed capital.

One main difference between an Initial Public Offering (IPO) and an ICO is that the latter is similar to crowdfunding with two differences:

  1. No fee has to be paid to a platform like Kickstarter for the amount being raised, and
  2. token holders do not own any equity in the company but may get the product faster or be paid with product. The company has no real obligation to the contributor to deliver on their promises (ICO example, Lake Diamond CNN video – YouTube).

Lake Diamond uses an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) to raise capital without forcing the founders to give up equity.

Lake Diamond uses an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) to raise capital without forcing the founders to give up equity.

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 of hype. We hope this blog entry helps you in this process.

Have these explanations helped you so far? Feel free to leave a comment below.

  • 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?
  • Are you planning to use a blockchain as a customer soon?
  • What do you like or dislike about blockchains?

Please share this entry on social media using this link: https://blog.drkpi.com/?p=4689

Strawberries - 2 days on the shelf and these fruit will show and taste accordingly | Public Domain USDA | Photographer: Brian Prechtel

In short, Amazon bets on Whole Foods to deliver groceries and events like its Amazon Prime Day on July 11.
Walmart (the world’s number 1 retailer) bought Jetcom and now Bonobos to further reduce prices and compete with Amazon.
Carrefour (the world’s number 2 retailer) left growing markets such as Colombia or Thailand. It also seems a bit too reliant on a business model developed in the 1960s.
Aldi and Lidl just opened plenty more stores in the US, UK and elsewhere.

We discuss this a bit further and wonder, who of the three famous gladiators will win… or will it be Tesco, Lidl or Aldi?

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

We discussed how increasingly challenging e-commerce is becoming in several previous posts:

1. Are we profitable?

Which of these companies is the most profitable? Considering the news coverage it gets, one would think the answer is Amazon. I was surprised when it set out to purchase Whole Foods, an upscale food store chain in the US, for US$13.7 billion.

Of course, analysts may feel that this could help its nascent grocery business, Amazon Prime Pantry. In other words, it might allow this online supermarket to acquire enough local brick-and-mortar points to deliver perishable and staple household goods to its clients – one of the challenges it tries to overcome with its Amazon Pantry service in Germany.

But Amazon is spending less (US$500 million) while taking on more risk in India right now for its grocery business there. Here, the biggest challenge is the heat, so a large fleet of refrigerated vans is a must. It might even buy India’s largest online grocer Big Basket, which is heavily invested in Asia and poised to move into Australia.

But in India, roughly 1 percent of total grocery sales (about US$150 million) is done online. Compare this to the UK’s 5 percent… It’s no wonder the UK is considered the most advanced online market for consumer staples.

Jeff Bezos founded Amazon in 1994. In his first letter to shareholders in 1997 he pointed out the following:

… Amazon.com passed many milestones in 1997: by year-end, we had served more than 1.5 million customers, yielding 838% revenue growth to $147.8 million, and extended our market leadership despite aggressive competitive entry.
But this is Day 1 for the Internet and, if we execute well, for Amazon.com.

Takeaway: Some CEOs’ performance is measured differently

It shows that Jeff Bezos took a risk launching Amazon. But he was also at the right place at the right time.

Similarly, the touchscreen era began 10 years ago on June 29, 2007 when Apple’s iPhone first went on sale. The iPhone’s timing was impeccable. Google Maps and YouTube use were on the rise and, most importantly, the emergence of affordable mobile data contracts happened shortly afterwards.

If we had invested US$1000 on May 15, 1997 in Amazon shares, they would be worth about US$666,000 today. But Amazon has yet to pay dividends. Understandable, considering Amazon has a US$136 billion turnover, but made just US$2.6 billion net profit last year.

Hence, my profits come from the rise in its share price – nothing more, nothing less. But my banker would probably not give me a small business loan based on such low profitability, would they?

Jeff Bezos’s success is measured on entering new markets both geographically and businesswise. Walmart’s CEO Doug McMillon’s success is measured based on profits.

Fair? Maybe, maybe not – but investors are not always rational…

So are Walmart, Carrefour, Tesco, Lidl and Aldi doomed?

Peaches - harvested ripe: After two days on the shelf, these fruit will look and taste accordingly | Public Domain USDA | Photographer: Jack Dykinga

Peaches – harvested ripe: After two days on the shelf, these fruit will look and taste accordingly | Public Domain USDA | Photographer: Jack Dykinga

2. Where is brick-and-mortar going: Doomed?

Well, considering that Credit Suisse (mentioned in FT article) estimates that 8,640 brick-and-mortar outlets in the US will close their doors this year alone, tough times are coming for Aldi, Walmart and co… Maybe.

By the way, the Credit Suisse study mentioned in the FT article cannot be found on the bank’s website. This illustrates how Credit Suisse fails to understand the digital age as far as communicating their research is concerned :-(

Brick-and-mortar businesses have tried hard to fight the onslaught of digital vendors. For instance, former Carrefour CEO Plassard restored workers’ pride in being part of the French retailer’s staff. He came in 2012 and made a lot of changes to the 12,000-outlet strong retailer doing business in 30 markets.

Unfortunately, the company still lacks a clear vision on how retail will be shaped within the next 10 to 15 years. Its challenge is that:

  • nearly half of its sales are generated in France,
  • its online reach is limited, AND
  • its hypermarkets are challenged by discounters like Leclerc and Aldi, both of which are nipping at its heels.

New CEO Alexandre Bompard is supposed to fix the problem. He was hired based on his success with Fnac Darty, France’s largest brick-and-mortar chain. He has quite successfully fought off Amazon in France:

Takeaway: Expansion can help

In 2016, e-commerce accounted for just about 1 percent of sales for Carrefour.

Walmart went a different route by pursuing deals to improve its online reach. It paid US$3.3 billion for internet retailer Jet.com in 2016, resulting in online sales increases of 63 percent in the first quarter of 2017 in the US alone. Its challenge is to integrate key elements of its e-business with Jet.com. This also goes for 10-year-old Bonobos, a digital-focused men’s apparel group that was bought for US$310 million in cash in June 2017.

Aldi’s planned US expansion from 1,600 to 2,200 stores will make it the third-largest grocery chain operator in the country behind Walmart and Kroger.

Aldi’s 2,500 stores would equal about 53 percent of Walmart’s US outlets.

But neither Aldi nor Lidl have a great web presence and apparently have no plans to change that any time soon.

  • Do they know something investors in Amazon may not?
  • Are they wrong to expand so much with brick-and-mortar instead of in the digital marketplace?

Remember Webvan, Foster City, Silicon Valley? Webvan was an online grocery business that went bankrupt in 2001 after three years of operation. Amazon Pantry is struggling in its markets... and may fail in India. Most people prefer getting perishable foods (e.g., dairy, meat, and produce) at their local store.

Remember Webvan, Foster City, Silicon Valley? Webvan was an online grocery business that went bankrupt in 2001 after three years of operation. Amazon Pantry is struggling in its markets… and may fail in India. Most people prefer getting perishable foods (e.g., dairy, meat, and produce) at their local store.

3. Who is the winner? Growth versus profit

We do not know for sure. One reason is that we seem to be comparing apples to oranges. Amazon is growth-hungry, while Walmart is fighting for market share, but continuing to be far more profitable than Amazon (see also income statement).

Of course, the question is which of the two businesses will be healthiest in ten years’ time.

Both companies need to strive for excellence. Amazon will succeed as long as its shareholders value growth more than profitability. My bet is on Walmart staying ahead by continuing to strive in optimising its:

  • Strategy: How do we assure the strengthening of our Unique Selling Propositions (USPs) by using offline and online sales channels?
  • Best Practice approach: How can we strengthen our USPs… by doing what exactly?
  • Synergies: How can we better leverage offline and online activities, infrastructure, and logistics to optimise revenue channels?
  • Market Positioning: How can we use our online e-commerce insights smarter in our offline business and vice-versa, as well as selling B2C (business to customer) versus B2B (business to business) in more markets?

Of course, economies of scale will continue to play an important role. Moreover, dynamic pricing might play a bigger role in the near future.

Nevertheless, the last word has not been spoken. I, for one, do not appreciate Amazon’s smart attempts at dynamic pricing when selling me print books, for instance (see below).

1. Amazon shows higher price for hardcover version of Tim Harford's book. 2. After client searches for paperback, hardcover price is reduced by 18% = discount... How much can we influence an online shopper to buy the more expensive hardcover to get it faster than waiting for the lower-priced paperback?

1. Amazon shows higher price for hardcover version of Tim Harford’s book. 2. After client searches for paperback, hardcover price is reduced by 18% = discount… How much can we influence an online shopper to buy more expensive hardcover to get it faster than waiting for the lower-priced paperback?

As the above example shows, value-pricing used in combination with dynamic-pricing succeeds with me, sometimes. Some brick-and-mortar businesses have started to do the same in-store such as Fnac Darty and Migros. So far without a big backlash from their clients. But once they realise what is happening… who knows what could happen?

[su_box title=”Table 1: Dreaming together” box_color=”#86bac5″ title_color=”#ffffff” radius=”5″ width=”px 700″ ]
While Tesla and Amazon’s share prices continue to go up, if not soar, investors continue treating traditional carmakers and brick-and-mortar businesses as if they were seriously ill.

But the gloom surrounding the incumbents, which still have strengths the upstarts lack, seems overdone.

See also: Together in electric dreams

By the way, since their record-high price in June, Tesla shares have fallen by 18 percent. The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) conducted a crash test with the Tesla S and did not give it the highest rating. The research arm of the insurance industry, the IIHS’ crash tests are increasingly influential in guiding vehicle safety design.
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4. Have your say – join the conversation

Source: Amazon, Walmart, Carrefour: The winner is?

What is your opinion?

The author declares that he had no conflict of interest with respect to the content, authorship or publication of this blog entry (i.e. I neither got a freebie from any of the mentioned companies nor are they our clients to the best of my knowledge).

Final remarks – July 11, Amazon Prime Day

Being a member and paying €69 or US$99 a year gives you faster delivery and allows you to shop and get exclusive deals during Amazon Prime Day. This year Amazon announced on June 30 that the big day will be July 11.

This Tuesday, clients get access to hundreds of exclusive deals, not for the usual 24 hours, but 30 hours. The digital marketplace giant bought TV spots for the event on various channels and in several time slots in the US (see below).

This reminds me of Christian Meyer from müllermilch (responsible for much of their marketing). In his talk at the #MCLago event in Constance (Lake Constance), he explained why his company prefers TV advertising over digital. Seems he is onto something, considering giant Amazon also uses TV to get people’s attention.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMHry1pHnFU

Jana Akyildiz and Urs E. Gattiker - Worblingen and Zurich - designing our new product - Brand Buzz Analytics

Summary: Communication by email, Skype or Google Talk is nothing new these days.
But a purposeful, structured face to face meeting in pleasant surroundings achieved the push we needed today.
A couple of thoughts about where communication strategy is going… and ideas for you, Reader.

I first heard the term ‘virtual organisation’ in the late nineties. We were working on a project with colleagues in Canada, Denmark, and Estonia. A tool like Skype was just the thing then, since it made communication easier.

These days, that’s all old hat. A lot has changed since then. Most organisations use different communication tools. Sometimes picking up the phone is still the easiest, saving us many emails and reducing the risk of misunderstandings.

Nevertheless, a face to face meeting is often most helpful – this time it only took me a short trip on public transport to Germany.

We wanted to meet and talk about the books and our project planning. Also up for discussion was how to improve our processes and working efficiency, etc.

Today’s work was crossborder – Zürich / Rielasingen-Worblingen. That is to say, I was at our branch in Rielasingen-Worblingen.

1. Brand Buzz Analytics

Our new product has been giving a good showing, but it still needs a good Web debut. In addition to the analytical possibilities, there are also creative ones that can be put to good use. Our preliminary comparisons and reports show that our data collection can be done even more efficiently.

Big Data is such a thing. Often, we have much more data than we actually need, but other times, one may be unaware of this fact.

In our case, we have the right data (the contents of thousands of websites), which we could put to even better use to show the manifestation of market forces.

2. Influencer Analytics

Jana-Akyildiz-Urs-Gattiker-nezzform-drkpi-sketchnote-brand-buzz-analytics-content-marketing

Here, our challenge is making the website even more user-friendly. Of course, we have to be sure to do that without sacrificing the visual aspect.

As usual, our colleagues at our Finnish branch take care of the technical implementation, but they were unable to attend today’s meeting. Still, they are hard at work and have assured us that the office’s fourth desk is close to completion in the garden.

Im finnischen Büro in Syöte ist der Werner am Zimmern.

Werner is hard at work – carpentry, that is – at our Finnish branch in Syöte.

Still, we decided to improve our influencer analytics and data processing. When it comes to usability there’s still quite a bit of room for improvement.

3. Content Marketing: DrKPI Hotel – Lite and Pro Versions

In tourism, New options are now possible for smaller hotels thanks to digital channels. But they must also be used, especially since, according to the latest national statistics, hotel stays are on the decline in Switzerland and Germany.

We are preparing DrKPI Hotel, both Lite and Pro versions, for independent-owned accommodations and vacation rentals.

But first, we need to clarify a couple of things, such as:

  • How can we include a booking system, such as WooCommerce, more efficiently in our solution?
  • How do we enable the end-user to choose between several price points (e.g. a room or a suite, high season or low, etc.)?

Not so easy, because e-commerce systems do not offer options specifically meant for independently-owned operations, nor for vacation rentals in general.

The usability leaves much to be desired, but this is where we must focus our attention, because the vacancy rate in Switzerland averages about 60%, which makes it impossible for many businesses to continue operating.

Digital marketing can certainly lend a hand there; our solutions are already in the testing stage and will soon be implemented by clients. Until then, we have a list of things to improve.

4. WordPress optimisation

Every WordPress user is familiar with this issue – the oppression of choice! There are numerous WordPress templates, and often no single one is exactly what we want, so customisation is key. The challenge is finding the time and the money.

No one wants to waste time, which would also incur unnecessary costs, cutting into the bottom line and certainly disappointing a client. This is where finding a compromise would be ideal for everyone involved. Our job is to narrow it down by figuring out which of the templates appeal to the client.

More importantly, though not easy to explain, is what will best serve one’s target audience. Which template, with appropriate customisations, is the best solution for the client’s target group? Can the end-user find the information they need quickly and easily?

This often requires persuasion, by showing the client how one template is better suited than the other, and achieves the larger objective. Direct contact with the target audience is often very helpful here, as it allows us to experience what works well, is easy to operate, gets used, and what doesn’t work, through the target group’s interaction with, and navigation of a website.

This a challenge that must be met, which is why we are currently optimising our procedures.

Susanne Mueller Zantop, Founder and Chairwoman, CEO Positions AG: Gattiker is a blog specialist, who comes across as a slightly dotty professor, but knows his subject matter intimately. He has even managed to make the Caritas blog an exciting, popular online destination – and it’s not as if their subject matter is particularly cheerful.

Take-aways

Email is a great communications tool, but it often requires a lot of back and forth to ensure everyone is on the same page. Skype or FaceTime can help with that, and so can the good old telephone.

When it comes to complexities, however, a face to face meeting still can’t be beat. The day of our meeting was highly productive, and we’re certain that it will provide our clients several new benefits. We also found that being prepared, directing our focus, and meeting in pleasant surroundings made our day even more productive.

Everyone knows exactly what needs to be done and we all have our assignments, which should be completed as quickly as possible, though no later than September 5.

Of course, what we’re particularly keen to learn about is your opinion:

  • How do you solve the usability/user-friendlisness challende for your product, such as a small appliance, machine, train, chair, etc.?
  • What do you consider to be the biggest challenge(s) when it comes to usefulness and usability for websites, e-commerce portals, etc.?
  • How do you increase the effectiveness of team meetings in your organisation?
WORD OF MOUTH MARKETING helps influence the public and hopefully strengthens the brand .... ideally resulting in a sale. WORD OF MOUTH MARKETING helps influence the public and hopefully strengthens the brand .... ideally resulting in a sale.WORD OF MOUTH MARKETING helps influence the public and hopefully strengthens the brand .... ideally resulting in a sale.| Fotolia #109130295

Summary: We all know the secret of real style is having the personality to match.
The key lessons from Donald Trump about style and influence are not what you think they are.

This is a series of posts that began with, Influence marketing experts’ top secrets. Today we focus on the ingredients that help one become an influencer.

Recently I had a talk with two friends in brand marketing and one in the hotel business. Here are some of the topics we covered.

1. Storytelling: Just ask Pension Guggenberger

If you are a Gaestehaus Guggenberger, you do not have a multi-million dollar budget like the Mandarin Oriental group to tell your story. Hence, a global advertising campaign “He’s a Fan / She’s a Fan” with award-winning French actress, Isabelle Huppert or Morgan Freeman is out of the question.

Nevertheless, you can focus on what some call “signature stories”. This is an intriguing, authentic, involving narrative with a strategic message. Stories have been shown to be superior to facts in getting attention, being remembered and getting people to change opinions.

The story should represent some form of strategic statement (see Karen Dietz) about the firm’s mission, values, brand or customer relationship. In turn, it can help achieve corporate strategy.

As a family business for more than 30 years, we need to find a story that helps people relate to the hotel, including “heroes” who have done great things for guests (i.e. family members and employees).

Bottom line: If famous people are part of your marketing campaign, some celebs will do your brand and sales efforts some good, and others will not.

If we lack the cash, we can touch customers and clarify our business values by creating a powerful narrative – storytelling at its best.

Donald always has a story to tell – on and off stage. We may not like it, but it is interesting if not outrageous, and it engages. Hillary doesn’t manage this very well, but Sanders is giving it his best shot.

Read: Aaker, David & Aaker, Jenifer (2016). California Management Review, Vol. 58 No. 3, Spring 2016; (pp. 49-65) DOI: 10.1525/cmr.2016.58.3.49 (short synposis Stanford U.).

2. Superstar economics works – ask JK Rowling

As the author of the Harry Potter novels you have shown yourself capable of telling a great story.

But besides the story, if you are famous like JK Rowling, that helps you sell books. She used the nom de plume Robert Galbraith for The Cuckoo’s Calling, supposedly his first novel.

Shortly after it was published in April 2013 it got a few reviews, but nothing spectacular. Over seven months and with plenty of marketing, it sold only about 450 hardback copies in the UK under Galbraith’s name. But somehow through word-of-mouth or gossip it was revealed that JK Rowling was the author of The Cuckoo’s Calling, at which point it surged to bestseller status on Amazon within a week.

Meanwhile, my book sold just under 1,000 copies in the first seven months even though the publisher had a hiccough. Such a number is great for a non-fiction, technical book. Nevertheless, without much marketing behind it, this illustrates that selling a lot of books is a tough job.

In this example superstar economics or brand recognition means your name is sufficient to cut through the increasing clutter of rivals and newcomers.

Bottom line: Name recognition makes things easier. For JK Rowling it means selling more books, for Hilary Clinton it won her a New York senate seat, and for Donald Trump it means… (see below).

3. Understanding influence: Ask style bloggers

You may not have the winning combination of a thought-provoking, interesting and possibly entertaining story to tell. Nor may the superstar economics or brand recognition of your name be good enough to get through the clutter of rivals and newcomers.

Authenticity is one more way to reach out. But for this Instagram fashion bloggers need to wear clothes that actually suit them. Furthermore, their style needs to express something of their personality, instead of the homogenous fairy dolls that typically populate the red carpet.

Some like Michèle seem to suggest that, “Real style is having the personality to match. I know it when I see it.”

As we discussed in the last blog entry, being female and young seems to help. Apparently, fashion labels believe that a 20-year-old blogger can sell a 50-year-old professional the brand’s latest creations.

Just because somebody has many followers or fans does not mean they can convince people to run out and buy their latest skirt from brand X. This even applies if you are making a living from brands, but actually are lost in a mess of peroxide and passionless fashionability.

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 3112″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”780px” height=”401px” Title=”Michèle knows what influence is, but cannot give us the numbers.” alt=”Michèle knows what influence is, but cannot give us the numbers.”]

See the above in action when you read, Hello, I’m Michèle, I’m a foolish, dumb, little blogger (so worth it – thoughful and sassy).

Bottom line: Influencer marketing is a great field where few can show anyone the numbers. It is not good enough to claim, “I know it when I see it.” Otherwise, why do brands fail to sponsor bloggers over 30? Do these people not need clothes, accessories or cosmetics?

4. Eyeballs matter: Just ask Donald Trump

So your story is authentic, with substance and intriguing. You are famous and your voice is being heard through the noise. But do you have the personality and style, if not substance to go with it?

This is what the US Presidential primaries illustrate. All candidates have or had a story to tell, but some are clearly better at being more authentic and engaging than others. One thing is clear, Trump was already considered the most visible of contenders in 2011 for November 2016’s possible GOP (Grand Old Party = Republican Party) presidential candidates in the US election.

Donald Trump has gotten more nightly network news coverage than the entire Democratic field combined (see report). Mrs Clinton has struggled to get the air time that Mr Trump has, a skill that helped him beat 16 rivals.

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 3567″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”780px” height=”731px” Title=”Social media metrics and US primary-election candidates: Trump tweets from his smartphone – not like others first checked by press officers.” alt=”Social media metrics and US primary-election candidates: Trump tweets from his smartphone – not like others first checked by press officers.”]
Above is from The Economist 2016-02-29: American presidential candidates and social media

Most of Donald Trump’s speeches or events tend to be carried live by US television networks. To illustrate, in week 21, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC chose to broadcast Mr Trump’s event in North Dakota, instead of an event by Mrs Clinton held in Las Vegas. This even though Mr Trump has essentially wrapped up the Republican nomination while the Democratic primary election battle rages on.

Mr Trump plays the media well and the media allows itself to be played with. It will be a tough fight for Mrs Clinton.

Interesting read: Does your marketing influence B2B decision-makers? Word-of-mouth is a winner – marketing, not so much. EMarketer. Retrieved, January 15, 2016 from http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Your-Marketing-Influence-B2B-Decision-Makers/1012927

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 3555″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”779px” height=”337px” Title=”Defining influence: There may be no “one size fits all”, but if we cannot agree on a definition, how are we supposed to measure it?” alt=”Defining influence: There may be no “one size fits all”, but if we cannot agree on a definition, how are we supposed to measure it?”]

Bottom line: If you get a lot of TV airtime and are often written about in online and traditional media, it helps – as Donald Trump knows. It makes you even more famous (see point 1 and #helpilayda crowdfunding campaign).

5. Influence is tough to measure, but Donald Trump appears to have some

As our discussion in the Xing Social Monitoring Group between Jan SedlacekAldo Gnocchi and myself illustrates, influence is a difficult concept to grasp and measure.

When you come across a statistic that suggests nearly two out of five managers are influenced by their peers and colleagues, you start to think.

How much do they listen to their colleagues?
Does it stop them from firing somebody?
Will it get them to stay at my hotel the next time they are in Munich?
Will they change their vote from Trump to Clinton?

Word-of-mouth influences somebody to consider a new product or another brand, hotel, etc, but thinking about or even considering buying a brand is one thing. Going out and buying the product is a big step further than that, and reading an influencer’s tweet or blog entry will not do the trick alone.

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 3553″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”780px” height=”335px” Title=”Measuring Klout almost makes sense, but not quite… Jaron Lanier” alt=”Measuring Klout almost makes sense, but not quite… Jaron Lanier”]

The above is from our Social Media Monitoring group on Xing – Jan Sedlacek posted an entry.

Influence is difficult to grasp and even more challenging to measure. For instance, for an outsider it is hard to understand that a tennis player such as Maria Sharapova, who does not rank in the top ten, garners the most lucrative sponsorship deals. Nike was served disappointing news in March 2016 when Sharapova was found to have failed a drugs test. In turn, the company dropped its sponsorship of the tennis star.

And while Roger Federer is no longer at the top of the rankings, his sponsorship deals outshine those of Novak Djokovic, the current number one.

Accordingly, we do not know if Roger Federer or Morgan Freeman bring more guests to the hotel that features them in advertising. They might put our brand in a better light. We hope so. Unfortunately, we cannot be certain.

[su_box title=”Table 1: JK Rowling, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton share their secrets” box_color=”#86bac5″ title_color=”#ffffff” radius=”5″ width=”px 780″ ]Here are the four factors to consider

1. Superstar economics works, but most of us ain’t superstars

So if you have a reputation in sports or as an actor, great. If not, most of us have to do without a Susan Sarandon or Julia Roberts as an ambassador to increase our occupancy rate at our small family hotel.

Hence, many small steps make the difference in selling enough product or services. Following tips 2 -3 below also helps a great deal.

2. Eyeballs matter, but you must tell me a great story

This year’s US primaries have demonstrated that getting free TV, print or digital media coverage helps a lot.

But are you outrageous, entertaining AND enough of a big mouth to get everybody’s attention? Do you mind getting the facts wrong? Donald Trump doesn’t care much about facts or people’s feelings (a somewhat scary combination if he becomes US president, I think).

Nevertheless, most of us might not want to be that rude. Nor do we come close to his skill at playing the media. Therefore, do not waste time trying.

Instead, be ready to tell an interesting story when given the chance. Hence, we need an:

inspiring and clarifying story that helps people relate to our label, brand or firm to get customers and media interested.
I still have to write mine – starting now. How about your story?

3. Setting goals helps, but focus on the top three tasks

How much money do you want to raise for a very sick child? In turn, what are the three most important things you need to do to raise these funds?

How high an occupancy rate do you wish to achieve for first and third quarter? What do you need to do today to raise your occupancy rate accordingly?

Your stories, content marketing, and social media use all have to help you make it happen.

Hence, a 0.25 percent click rate for Donald Trump on Twitter might be great (see image below). It could possibly bring him another few voters when every single one counts to win the US Presidency in November 2016.

But for you, going to a luncheon organised by the Chamber of Commerce might be more beneficial for landing a new B2B (business to business) client than wasting time on Facebook. Whatever you do, decide, because time and resources are limited.

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Does the #MakeAmericaGreatAgain #Trump2016 campaign on social media like Twitter get people to change their vote come the election?

Does the #MakeAmericaGreatAgain #Trump2016 campaign on social media like Twitter get people to change their vote come the election?

Donald Trump’s 2016-05-22 tweet and its statistics.

The secret to real style is having the personality to match and doing things with some substance. Of course, our behaviour may influence our kids every day.

But just because I clear the breakfast table does not mean I influence my kids to help. In fact, unless I have a serious word with them tomorrow morning, they continue to leave a mess. The result is that I have to continue cleaning up after them every morning. NOT.

Some interesting reads

How useful is Google search data when predicting primary elections?
YouTube stars gain appeal

5. Have your say – join the conversation

Source: Real lessons Donald Trump can teach us

What is your opinion?

  • Do you know a small business person that is influential in your circles? How did it happen? Offline, online, or both?
  • Is social media just an instant signal or does it influence our decisions in what to purchase?
  • How do you decide which are next quarter’s top three activities to improve your bottom line?

The author declares that he had no conflict of interest with respect to the content, authorship or publication of this blog entry (i.e. I neither own any of these brands’ products nor are they our clients).

6. Just do it: Ask Renata Flores Rivera

Incidentally, you can be part of a minority, use a Michael Jackson song and sing it in your native tongue. That is what Renata Flores Rivera did (Quechua are a native minority in Peru). She was heard and became famous across her native country.

Nevertheless, most of us do not even manage to be heard and seen through the clutter in our industry or field of work. Just live with it.

And no, 15 minutes of fame (Nat Finkelstein and Andy Warhol saying) may not be in your cards – it’s that simple.

helpilayda

Update 2016-03-17
Yesterday American doctors informed us that our budget should also include an item for follow-up treatment.
By now we have raised some money and are continuing to also raise funds to be able to pay for subsequent check-ups and treatment. We can do this with your help. Thank you.

Update 2016-03-15
#helpilayda we have collected more than €420’000
we stop at €800’000 ==> depending on where in the USA the therapy will happen, it will cost more or less.

Update 2016-03-14
#helpilayda we have collected more than €300’000 

Update 2016-03-13
#helpilayda we collected over €200,000 so far – a first in the D-A-CH region of countries – social media can make something happen.

Our campaign to secure the funding needed to save Ilayda Yildiz’s life is in full swing. Our German blog entry, #helpilayda – Crowdfunding Kampagne: Rettet das Leben von Ilayda Yildiz, was launched successfully last Friday.
Ilyada’s Blog
Facebook page
Donate now please – it makes a REAL difference

This blog entry is part of our series on viral marketing and word-of-mouth marketing – WOMMA


Who and what is this story about?

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 3448″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”780px” height=”410px” Title=”This picture(right-hand side) shows (from left to right) Nuhhaci Yildiz, Hülya Yildiz, Ilayda Yildiz and her sister” alt=”This picture  (right-hand side) shows (from left to right) Nuhhaci Yildiz, Hülya Yildiz, Ilayda Yildiz and her sister”]

The above picture shows (from left to right) Nuhhaci Yildiz, Hülya Yildiz, Ilayda Yildiz and her sister.

At the center of this story is Ilayda Yildiz (second from right in the picture above). She was born December 17, 2005 in Singen, Germany, a community on the Swiss border. On February 27, 2012, shortly after turning six, Ilayda Yildiz’s parents were informed that preliminary tests suggested their child had leukemia. Additional tests revealed it to be acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), also known as acute lymphoid leukemia or acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The majority of leukemias diagnosed in childhood are ALL.

About 75 percent of all childhood leukemias are ALL (see New York Times – Leukemia In-Depth Report very nicely structured, plenty of facts, numbers and diagrams).

For 20 percent of those suffering from ALL, chemotherapy will not help. This is what happened to Ilyada Yildiz, who is now 10 years old, and has been fighting her disease since 2012. Estimates suggest:

6,000 people in the US (National Cancer Institute),
1,500 in Germany, and
150 in Switzerland die annually because they suffer from a chemotherapy-resistant type of leukaemia.

But thanks to a new therapy, 92 percent of these patients can recuperate fully.

Unfortunately, this therapy is not covered by German or Swiss health insurance. The result is that those patients – primarily kids – die.

Just imagine what would happen if the treatment were covered:

Every year up to about 1350 of 1500 patients in Germany or 130 of 150 patients in Switzerland and thousands more in France, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands could be cured!

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 3457″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”780px” height=”410px” Title=”Ilayda backstage in Stuttgart with Violetta from the Disney Telenovela” alt=”Ilayda backstage in Stuttgart with Violetta from the Disney Telenovela”]

The above image shows Ilayda backstage at Violetta – the Disney Channel Telenovela where a talented teenager returns to her hometown in Buenos Aires after living many years in Europe.

Where does this leave Ilayda?

Like 20 percent of leukaemia patients, Ilayda suffers from a type that is described as chemotherapy-resistent.

Her only option is a personalized treatment called T cell therapy.

This is a process whereby the patient’s own T-cells are removed and genetically engineered to attack his or her cancer cells. The modified t-cells are called CD19-chimeric antigen receptor T cells or CD19-CAR T cells (information from the US National Cancer Institute). These modified cells are then reinjected into the patient. In various tests, the “CAR T-cell therapy can help patients that suffer under acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL),”  (see ASH 2014, Abstract of study 382).

This treatment has been tested and successfully administered to several patients. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has conducted tests under the auspices of the US FDA (Federal Drug Administration) for CAR T-Cell therapy; they are leaders in the field.

92 percent of 39 kids treated using CAR T-Cell therapy showed no evidence of cancer one month after treatment. – Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

How YOU can make a REAL difference in Ilayda’s life

We decided to try to raise the money to save Ilayda Yildiz’s life, so we launched the #helpilyada #crowdfunding #campagin.

We have all heard about crowdfunding campaigns to launch new products or influence the Presidential campaign. We also have seen others raise €100,000 or more for a child.

So, here is the poster for our campaign – you are welcome to use it to share good thoughts!

[embeddoc url=”http://blog.drkpi.com/wp-content/files/Crowdfunding-Campaign-poster-A4-helpilayda-CARTcell-leukemia.pdf” viewer=”google”]

Download the poster (745 KB PDF) for Crowdfunding Campaign #helpilayda: Please print and share

3. We need €823,471 to save Ilayda Yildiz’s life

So we need people like you. People who care about others and are willing to do some good. It will not cost you a fortune, and some will give more than others. No matter what, every donation is generous and every single dollar counts towards helping to pay for Ilayda’s treatment.

Crowdfunding is part of fundraising, but crowdfunding focuses on one project with a time limit.

In the case of the #helpilyada crowdfunding campaign we want to raise enough money to pay for Ilayda to receive life-saving CAR T-cell therapy at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP for short).

For instance, we need resources to pay for Ilyada and her family to get to Philadelphia (US) and back. Her parents and sister will have to accompany her to provide the support she needs to keep up her spirits.

So if you know an airline that could help, please reach out to us here through the blog or via the contact form. We will get in touch with you like Speedy Gonzales.

But real cash is necessary to pay for the laboratory and genetic engineering work at the hospital to produce and pay for the CD19-chimeric antigen receptor T-cells, or CD19-CAR T-cells for short.

The procedures and required hospital stay must be financed as well.

At this stage the family has raised €90,650 (2016-02-03), so there is still a long way to go – another €700,000. Ilayda’s parents are at their limit. Their financial resources are tapped out, and the emotional rollercoaster hasn’t helped.

Likes on Facebook are great. Using our hashtag #helpilayda helps too. But what we need most is donations from the heart!

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QQ9EvQ4PIo[/youtube]

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTQuZ2hWa-0[/youtube]

Even Christiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) has joined the fund raising efforts for Ilayda Yildiz. He wishes her great success.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLT_oMcVN_k[/youtube]

Your donation can be the last bit we need to make it happen and save Ilayda from a life cut indecently short.

[su_box title=”Table – this is how you can help Ilayda today” box_color=”#86bac5″ title_color=”#ffffff” radius=”5″ width=”px 700″ ]1. Money matters.

In this case it is money that will make it possible for Ilayda to get the life-saving treatment, so please give now:

Here is your chance to be part of the group that support Ilayda’s fight for survival – do it with a smile.

2. How can we get airline tickets, hotel stays and so forth to make this happen?

We need your help to connect with those who can provide tickets. Can you make use of your contacts?

Ilayda’s parents and her sister (what a trooper she is!) will have to travel with her, so Ilayda has the emotional support she needs to keep fighting.

What about Novartis, can you help us get Ilayda into their European trials? Anybody have an idea, maybe Susan Longman who is Head, Drug Regulatory Affairs, Europe and Great China at Novartis Pharma AG?

3. Will we get the crowdfunding or is it a pipedream?

We do not know if we will succeed with this crowdsourcing project. But we feel it is worth every hour of our time to help save another child’s life.

We need your support and help to make this happen. Your comment here, and your Like is an important step. But please do not stop there, go beyond and become one of our donors.

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4. Can Novartis help?

Novartis plays a big part in these trials, as David Lebwohl and Usman (Oz) Azam (both Novartis employees) point out. David Lebwohl also states that:

The treatment doesn’t exist until we transform the patient’s own cells into CTL019 cells and deliver them back to the patient.

According to this blog entry, the company is looking at doing cross-country trials, in turn bringing CTL019 clinical trials across borders…

Apparently, European health authorities have helped Novartis start clinical trials across the Atlantic, as mentioned by Eric Couture, head of Regulatory in the Cell and Gene Therapies Unit.

5. What can you do?

We want this story to go viral and hope that with this crowdsourcing effort we secure the funds needed to save Ilayda’s life, BUT after reading Ilayda’s blog entry, we need your help:

– What skills, talents, know-how, contacts can you offer to help save Ilayda’s life?

– As of 2016-02-03, we have raised €90,650, but we still need YOUR CONTRIBUTION to get another €709,350 to make this happen.

6. More interesting information

Crowdfunding campaign: Save Ilayda

Update 2014-03-07 DrKPI – #helpilayda – CyTRAP Labs GmbH donated €750  – Please contribute as much as you can and help us save Ilayda Yildiz’s life

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 3428″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” class=”alignleft” width=”780px” margin=”2px” height=”407px” Title=”#helpilayda Crowdfunding campaign – save Ilayda’s life” alt=”#helpilayda Crowdfunding campaign – save Ilayda’s life”]

More information about the CAR T-cell therapy

Ilaydas blog

NIH – US National Cancer Institute – CAR T-Cell Therapy: Engineering Patients’ Immune Cells to Treat Their Cancers

Brower, Vicki (April 1, 2015). The CAR T-Cell Race. Retrieved March 2, 2016 from http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/42462/title/The-CAR-T-Cell-Race/

President Obama’s “Moonshot” to Cure Cancer

Orphan Healthcare – Foundation for Rare Diseases

Your donation will help save Ilayda’s life – donate now (trust account)

Please, don’t forget to to ask your employer to match your donation. This will help your donation go much further! Thank you. 

The authors declare that they had no conflict of interest with respect to the content, authorship or publication of this blog entry.