ANOTHER YEAR, ANOTHER IFA: EVERYTHING WE LOVED AND LEARNED

This year was all about connectivity – we saw manufacturers in every industry integrating it across product ranges, but also saw huge gaps in terms of common standards for connectivity between appliances, and consumers struggling to understand products currently on shelves. We also witnessed:

The dawn of 8K TV

Commercially available 8K, at that. It’s early days, and may seem premature given that content and bandwidth haven’t really caught up yet, but Samsung still stole the show with an 8K TV that will actually go on sale this year. Sure to be a leader in this sphere, Samsung even offers "intelligent upscaling", to enhance existing 4K content to a near-8K experience. Expect to see a lot of “future-proof” and “8K-ready” products.

Smart Speakers

There’s definitely a risk of oversupply outstripping demand, but Netgear’s Orbi Voice - combining a Wi-Fi router with mesh network capabilities that boosts Wi-Fi in every room with an Alexa-compatible Harman Kardon smart speaker - certainly stands out. The Beosound Edge – which sits on the floor like a piece of furniture or hangs on the wall as a piece of sound-emitting artwork – also has some pretty cool features, including rocking it back and forth to adjust volume and 360-degree sound.

 

Smart Assistants

This emerging trend of Alexa routers is a fascinating one. Citing Star Trek communicators as inspiration for Alexa, Amazon’s keynote address was all about building a new industry; it wants us to talk to everything, everywhere.

 

Wearables

Nubia’s Alpha blew everyone away – it’s a wearable smartphone with a flexible OLED screen that wraps around your wrist and has an integrated camera for video calls. And it’s set for release at the end of this year. Also showcased were Audio-Technica’s ATH-SR30BT wireless headphones, with an incredible 70-hour battery life, and some competition for Apple from luxury (now smartwatch) brand Fossil.

 

Smart Homes

 With hardware being rapidly commoditised, manufacturers are focusing on improving software, apps and the overall experience of using smart home devices, recognising this as the primary battleground for differentiation from rivals. With a rise in people making the effort to live a healthier lifestyle, we also noted (from the likes of Netatmo) that air quality is becoming a key measurement and metric for smart homes.

 

Smartphones

 It’s finally time to get excited about 5G. The CEO of Sony's mobile division made it clear that the brand views 5G as an opportunity to improve its market position. Keen to invest in home-grown technologies and eager to progress in the mobile industry, Huawei also unveiled its gaming phone, Honor Play, another attractively priced device that will put the pressure on subscale phone-makers like HTC, Sony and Wiko.

 

Our other highlights…

Robotics is getting really interesting; LG’s machines can share information in malls and airports, transport luggage, and assist with shopping and mobility problems. We also saw Polaroid’s disruptive comeback range, beautifully blending its classic and unique analogue style with a new digital infusion. The new OneStep+ cameras feel and work just like the old ones, but Bluetooth connectivity to the new Polaroid Originals app kits users out with features like filters, double exposure and light painting.

What we’re taking away from IFA 2018

There weren’t as many breakthrough products this year but there was definitely a sense of gaining momentum – brands are increasingly aware that blending software (especially AI), hardware and services to provide the best possible consumer experience is what gains a competitive edge. 

GDPR IS HERE, AND SO IS OUR NEW PRIVACY POLICY

GDPR is finally here and we’re already seeing stories about corporate US websites being shut down for failing to get their ducks in a row re: data compliance. To us, that’s really important. It always has been. So, to assure all of our clients, suppliers and everybody else who makes up the Zaboura team that data is safe in our hands, we’ve updated a couple of things: 

 

Section 1 – What our new Privacy Policy outlines:

  • – who we are and what we do

  • – what personal data we collect and store about you and how we collect it
  • – why we collect personal data and what we do with it
  • – any third parties with whom we share your personal data
  • – how and why we may store your information and how we secure it
  • – your rights and how to exercise them
  • – how to contact us

 

Our name
Zaboura Consultancy Limited (but we will refer to ourselves using the word “we” and related words such as “us” and “our” in this privacy notice (this is where we are registered)

 

Place of incorporation
UK (this is where we are registered)

Company number
06376610

Registered address
75 Kenton Street, London, WC1N 1NN

Operating Address :

259 Linen Hall, 162 Regent Street, London W1B5TE

VAT number
915280925

Under data protection law, we are considered to be a “controller”. As a controller, we are responsible for, and control the processing of your personal data.

 

Section 2- What Information we collect from you:

In the course of our business as a communications and marketing company we collect the following personal data when you provide it to us:

  • personal details, such as:
    – name and title
  • contact data, such as:
    – address
    – billing address
    – e-mail address
    – telephone and mobile number(s)
  • biographical data from job applications and CVs, such as:
    – institutions attended
    – academic and other results gained
    – employment history
    – any other personal information you provide
  • transaction data, such as:
    – details about payments to and from you
    – details of services you have purchased from us
  • technical data, such as:
    – internet protocol (IP) address
    – your login data, browser type and version
    – time-zone setting and location
    – browser plug-in types and versions
    – operating system and platform and other technology on the devices you use to access our website
  • usage data, such as:
    – information about how you use our website and services
  • marketing data, such as:
    – any preferences in receiving marketing and communications.
  • We do not knowingly collect “special category” personal data. This is a special type of sensitive data to which more stringent processing conditions apply. It comprises data concerning your racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade union membership, health, sex life or sexual orientation, and genetic data and/or biometric data.

We also do not collect information about criminal convictions or offences.

 

Section 3 – How do we collect personal data?

We obtain personal data from sources as follows:

  • – directly from you when you interact with us, for example when you:
    – request information
    – write to us
    – attend an event
    – enter a competition
    – give us feedback
    – apply for a job or internship or send a CV
  • – if others provide your details (for example, if you are copied on an e-mail that is sent to us, and your e-mail address identifies you, we will have collected your personal data). If you are providing another person’s details, please ensure you have that person’s explicit consent to do so.
  • – from subscription services that you have provided consent to:
  • – Response source
  • – Gorkana
  • – Cision

 

Section 4 – How do we use your personal data?

Introduction

We will only use your personal data when the law allows us to. Most commonly, we will use your personal data in the following circumstances:

  • – to perform a contract we are about to enter into, or have entered into with you
  • – if it is necessary for our legitimate interests (or those of a third party) and these are not overridden by your own rights and interests
  • – where we need to comply with a legal or regulatory obligation

 

Lawful Processing

In order to process personal data, we must have a lawful reason (sometimes called a lawful basis). We always ensure that this is the case, and we set out our lawful bases below – but please note that more than one may apply at any given time: for example, if we inform you of changes to our privacy notice, we may process your personal data on the ground of complying with law and on the ground of legitimate interests.

We will use your personal data only for the purposes for which we collected it, unless we fairly consider that we need it for another reason that is compatible with the original purpose.

Please contact us if you would like more information on this, and on situations in which more than one lawful basis applies.

 

Contractual Necessity

If you are our customer or applying for a job, we will process your personal data for the following purposes, on the legal basis that it is necessary for us to provide our services to you:

  • – to identify you
  • – to respond to your enquiries
  • – to the extent necessary to provide pre-contractual information about our services
  • – to provide our services
  • – to carry out billing and administration activities
  • – to evaluate your job application and take any next steps, and to evaluate your suitability for roles where you have asked to be considered for future opportunities

 

Legitimate Interests

We process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, which include the following:

  • – to conduct and manage our business
  • – to enable us to carry out our services
  • – to ensure our website and systems are secure (for example, by conducting security penetration tests on our website to ensure our security tools are effective)
  • – to analyse, improve and update our services for the benefit of our customers
  • – to deal with complaints
  • – to let you know about our services, promotions or events that we consider may be of interest to you (and which may be tailored to your interests as construed): we carry out this processing on the legal basis that we have a legitimate interest in marketing our services, and only to the extent that we are permitted to do so by applicable direct marketing laws. Please see section 8 below for further information about our marketing activities and regarding your right to opt out

Whenever we process your personal data for these purposes, we ensure that your interests, rights and freedoms are carefully considered.

 

Compliance with Laws

We may process your personal data in order to comply with applicable laws (for example, if we are required to cooperate with an investigation pursuant to a court order).

 

Consent

Generally, we do not rely on consent as a legal basis for processing your personal data other than in relation to sending third-party direct marketing communications to you via e-mail where this is not otherwise permitted. You have the right to withdraw consent to marketing at any time. This will not affect the lawfulness of processing that took place prior to the withdrawal of consent.

We will always be clear whenever we intend to process on the basis of consent, and we will process lawfully and only for the purpose for which consent was given.

 

Section 5 – Do we share your personal data?

We may provide your personal data to the following recipients for the purposes set out in this notice:

  • – our service providers, including:
    – e-mail and mail service providers
    – technical and support partners, such as the companies who host our website and who provide technical support and back-up services
    – recruitment service providers
  • – merger or acquisition partners, to the extent that sharing your personal data is necessary
  • – law enforcement agencies, government or public agencies or officials, regulators, and any other person or entity that has the appropriate legal authority (where we are legally required or permitted to do so, to respond to claims, or to protect our rights, interests, privacy, property or safety)
  • – any other parties, where we have your specific consent to do so

 

Section 6 – Do you have to provide personal data – and if so why?

To form a contract with you, we will need some or all of the personal data described above so that we can perform that contract or the steps that lead up to it: this is set out above in this notice. If we do not receive the data, it will not be possible to perform that contract.

If you sign up to any mailing list, you will have to provide certain personal data. Of course, you may decide to stop receiving our mailings at any time.

 

Section 7 – For how long will your personal data be kept?

We carefully consider the personal data that we store, and we will not keep your information in a form that identifies you for longer than is necessary for the purposes set out in this notice or as required by applicable law. In some instances, we are required to hold data for minimum periods: for example, UK tax law currently specifies a six-year period for retention of some of your personal data.

 

Section 8 – Marketing

We may store your contact details, and carry out marketing profiling activities, for direct marketing purposes. If you have given your consent, or if we are otherwise permitted to do so, we may contact you about our services that may be of interest to you. You will be given the opportunity to opt out each time you are contacted. Additionally, you may opt out at any time by contacting us using the details in section 15 below.

 

Section 9 – Do we transfer personal data outside the EEA?

Although we are based in England, we may transfer your personal information to a location (for example, to a secure server) outside the European Economic Area, if we consider it necessary or desirable for the purposes set out in this notice.

In such cases, to safeguard your privacy rights, transfers will be made to recipients to which a European Commission “adequacy decision” applies (this is a decision from the European Commission confirming that adequate safeguards are in place in that location for the protection of personal data), or will be carried out under standard contractual clauses that have been approved by the European Commission as providing appropriate safeguards for international personal data transfers, or by the adoption of EU-US Privacy Shield.

For more information, please contact us using the details in section 15 below.

 

Section 10 – How do we keep your personal data secure?

We have security measures in place designed to prevent data loss, to preserve data integrity, and to regulate access to the data. Only our authorised employees and third parties processing data on our behalf have access to your personal data.

All our employees who have access to your personal data are required to adhere to our Privacy Policy and we have in place contractual safeguards with our third-party data processors to ensure that your personal data is processed only as instructed by us.

We take all reasonable steps to keep your data safe and secure, and to ensure the data is accessed only by those who have a legitimate interest to do so. Unfortunately, the transmission of information via the internet is not completely secure. Although we will do our best to protect your personal data, we cannot guarantee the security of your data transmitted to us. Any transmission over the internet is at your own risk. Once we have received your personal data, we will use strict procedures and security features to try to prevent unauthorised access.

Please contact us using the details in section 15 below if you would like further information about this.

 

Section 11 – Your Information Rights

We draw your attention to your following rights under data protection law:

  • – right to be informed about the collection and use of your personal data
  • – right of access to your personal data, and the right to request a copy of the information that we hold about you as well as supplementary details about that information – you will be asked to provide proof of your identify and residential address, and we may ask you to provide further details to assist us in the provision of such information
  • – right to have inaccurate personal data that we process about you rectified– we want to ensure that the personal information that we process and retain about you is accurate, so please do remember to tell us about any changes, for example if you have moved house or changed your contact details. It is your responsibility to ensure you submit true, accurate, and complete information to us – and please also update us if this information changes
  • – right of erasure– in certain circumstances you have the right to require us to block, erase or destroy personal data that we process about you
  • right to object to, or restrict:
    – processing of personal data concerning you for direct marketing
    – decisions being taken by automated means which produce legal effects concerning you or that similarly significantly affect you (however, we do not currently take automated decisions)
    – in certain other situations, our continued processing of your personal data
  • the right of portability of your data in certain circumstances

You will not have to pay a fee to access your personal data (or to exercise any of the other rights). However, we may charge a reasonable fee if your request is clearly unfounded, repetitive or excessive. Alternatively, we may refuse to comply with your request in these circumstances.

Please contact us using the details in section 15 below if you would like to know more about, or to exercise these rights.

These rights are subject to certain limitations that exist in law. Further information about your information rights is available on the ICO’s website: https://ico.org.uk/

 

Section 12 – Cookies

Our website uses cookies. For more information on cookie use, please contact us using the details in section 15 below.

 

Section 13 – Changes to this privacy notice

We may change this notice from time to time. You should check this notice on our website occasionally, in order to ensure you are aware of the most recent version.

 

Section 14 – How you can complain

We hope that you will be satisfied with the way in which we approach and use your personal data.

Should you find it necessary, you have a right to raise a concern with our supervisory authority, the Information Commissioner’s Office: https://ico.org.uk/

However, we do hope that if you have a complaint about the way we handle your personal data, you will contact us in the first instance using the contact details in section 15 below, so that we have an opportunity to resolve it.

 

Section 15 – Contacting us

If you would like to contact us about this notice or wish to receive further information about any aspect of it, our details are as follows:

E-mail

info@zaboura.com

Post
Maggie Zaboura

Zaboura Consultancy Ltd
259 Linen Hall

162 regent Street

London W1B5TE
Telephone
+44 (0) 203 5880804

End of Privacy Notice

CES 2018: WHAT WE SAW & WHAT’S COMING NEXT

CES has served as the proving ground for breakthrough technologies and disruptive innovators for the last 50 years and this year was no less exciting (especially given the power cuts and the worst rain storm in Vegas for 73 years). Everything is getting smarter, powered by AI. Unlike past years, CES 2018 wasn’t just consumer electronics and computers – now, nearly every product is a tech product, from bicycles to desks, thanks to the IoT.

Robots

AI and deep learning systems are becoming more sophisticated and able to reflect business processes. They’re very much having their 3D printing moment, where they suddenly are finding real world applications, both in the home and public realm. Honda’s new concept robots are just adorable, but most importantly, they’re actually useful; 3E-B18 is a robotic chair, and 3E-A18 was built with social empathy in mind. LG have a little porter robot to help with luggage, a serving robot and even a shopping cart to help with checkout. There’s even an Omron Forpheus ping-pong playing robot (something our office is distinctly lacking). However, they’re more cute than actually functioning at the moment – there was a lot of falling over and there were many embarrassing moments duringdemos. Sony’s Aibo robot puppy was this year’s exception however, and shows how far the field has advanced since its predecessor was pulled from the market in 2006. The market for consumer and business robots is expected to hit $1.5 billion by next year and the triumvirate of technologies that is connected sensors, voice activated systems and deep learning mean that we’ll likely see multi-purpose robots in the workforce (as well as schools and smart homes) in the next several years – shop floors, accounting, law, assembly lines, etc. 

Security

This was a new category last year. People are increasingly anxious about crime and data theft, so the ability of connected devices to record and report on this represents a natural consumer market. This year we saw a tendency for products to draw attention to their security features; there are Gentex Corp. rear view mirrors that can scan an iris to make sure it’s really the driver it’s supposed to be, and multiple facial recognition security cameras off the back of Netatmo’s Welcome & Presence.

 

Virtual Assistants

They’ve been gathering momentum for quite a while but CES this year firmly established that conversational interfaces will be the communication medium going forward. According to some experts, more than 90% of communication is done by voice and by 2020, it is anticipated that 200 billion searches per month will be done by voice activation rather than typed text. Smart assistance is growing faster than any other category since the introduction of tablets, and with a 279% increase in sales, and an estimated 43 million products being shipped in 2018, voice interfaces are here to stay. Only Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft really have the richness of search data to offer a serious product, and the competition between them is compelling. Google hit back at Alexa this year, virtually taking over the whole of CES with ads for Google Assistant and erecting a small house, complete with giant screens, multiple levels, and a rooftop coffee bar, rather than just having a booth inside. Both assistants can be fooled, but they’re taking steps in the right direction. Google Home is getting better and better at finding and playing music, notifying users when flights are cheap and mapping routes, and Google’s “smart displays” are a direct answer to the Amazon Echo Show and Echo Spot, the first-ever Alexa devices with screens (video screens added to voice assistants are hugely exciting as it brings the features of other devices into the home hub). But Amazon are still leading the way with Amazon Echo Show and planning to turn Alexa into a platform – they want to start paying developers of the 30,000 Alexa “skills,” or apps, which could see Alexa transformed into an economy and ecosystem all on its own.

 

Smart City Infrastructure

By 2030, cities will comprise 60% of the population. CES showed that IoT-connected sensors and data gathered from existing systems will power the delivery of safer, efficient services, more cost-effectively. Ford’s Transportation Mobility Cloud, for example, is designed to help connect smart transportation services and reshape the way smart cities are built. Smart infrastructure will optimise traffic lights to reduce accidents and traffic, plant sensors in bins to help manage waste, make video street surveillance smarter and help with water sanitation.

 

5G Technology

5G is poised to change the world. IoT wouldn’t be where it is today without it’s support and multigigabit download speeds. It means longer life for IoT devices, less latency, and will enable the connectivity needed for devices to process huge amounts of data at the edge, rather than central locations like public clouds or enterprise data centres.

Even smarter smart homes

CES 2018 seemed to mark the beginning of the end of “dumb” household products. Netatmo also unveiled their Facebook-friendly chatbot that lets users text their house from their smartphone, and even ask who’s in. The company are allowing for greater mobility and privacy, and in tune with the importance of an omnichannel experience for consumers – it’s an amazing step forward. Kohler have a whole smart bathroom range complete with a bath that fills itself, a mirror doubling as an Alexa speaker and an intelligent toilet with sensors that activate a foot warmer, heated seat, ambient lighting, a bidet (why not) and music. We also saw the TV market adopt organic light-emitting, energy-saving diode displays, with LEDs thinner than a strand of hair, the world’s thinnest laptop, Samsung’s ‘The Wall’ – which is just as it sounds, a wall-sized TV – and even a rollable screen from LG that must be seen to be believed. Tech like this could pave the way for entirely new ways of consuming media. We also heard Innovid explain how their world’s leading video marketing platform enables advertisers to create, deliver and measure personalised video experiences on any device.

 

Health

CES this year showed that health and medical technology is about more than just exercise now. It’s a rising category and disruptive technology is getting increasingly personal, with AI and machine learning leading the way. NeoMano gloves, for example, help paralysed hands to grip, and the Prevention BioMetrics Head Impact Monitor System (HIMS) has advanced sensors designed to save athletes lives, alerting medical staff if an impact is detected and offering the best response. There’s even a handheld device from Nima to scan for peanuts in food, for those with allergies. Xemona’s e-skin pyjamas, designed for dementia patients, have tiny sensors that detect signs of movement or distress in the wearer, eliminating the need for constant surveillance or confining patients to rooms. We also saw customized hair and skin products like L’Oreal’s UV Sense, a tiny dot you can wear on a fingernail to tell you how much sun exposure you’ve had per day. Not only will this help prevent skin cancer, but it’s a key step on the micro-wearable computing journey that will revolutionise healthcare and the world. We also saw Black Box VR building the gym of the future (in San Francisco this year, hopefully), which looks amazing, and so much less boring than just sweating in front of a mirror. Just the beginning of the VR fitness market. The Lishtot Test Drop stood out too, with its ability to analyse the quality of drinking water by examining the electric field around it. 

AR

AR has taken VR’s place as the exciting new category we thought was only possible in Sci Fi. Just look at the Deepframe AR window, that turns you into a life size hologram (who else wants a Leia robe?) Though the AR market is growing, devices are mostly still single-purpose, e.g. glasses that control drones, but these immersive tools will help companies promote collaborative environments for workforces. Though AR & VR are still likely a decade away from their full potential market size, CES this year said a lot about the industry’s current momentum. AR advancements made by Google, Microsoft, etc., both before and after Glass and the HoloLens, are combining into a new movement that’s taking AR closer to consumer fashion. At CES we saw the Vuzix Blade, normal-looking glasses that are actually a more sophisticated, enterprise version of Google Glass, with a larger, brighter display in full colour. Its built-in camera means that it could later incorporate more interactive AR apps, like the sort we expect from the HoloLens. This certainly felt like a consumer product rather than just a fanciful concept. DigiLens’ MonoHUD, which goes into production later this year, has used technology similar to the HoloLens to build an attachment for motorcycle helmets that provide an interactive heads-up display for the road. With companies working on making them bigger, perhaps all car windscreens of the future will also function as intelligent AR displays, overlaying information onto the road? VR and AR are reshaping the customer experience, and brands need to leverage new technology and think about content creation to drive engagement further. It’s a marketing goldmine. 

Smarter transportation

The steadiest and most enduring of all the CES trends, it’s an important part of the attempt to make personal data highly mobile. Self-driving cars will be combined with voice-activated, virtual assistants and AI to boot, as well as anti-collision information, available parking, and huge opportunities for public transport. Byron’s electric car is planning a 2019/20 consumer launch, and their car feels more like a living room than just a way of getting around – there’s a huge screen that stretches across the whole dashboard, complete with facial recognition. The Toyota e-Palettewas also a hugely exciting unveiling, taking us even further into our self-driving future, which will see autonomous transport enter into the supply and demand chain. This will revolutionise the way small businesses can function.

We’re also personally very excited about the wireless charging solutions from Powercast and Energous that power multiple devices over the air. Kingston’s new Nucleum is Amazon’s number 1 release in the category and allows users to connect to 7 devices at once, making it the ultimate travel companion. Their 2TB DataTraveler Ultimate GT USB 3.1 portable SSD is the highest capacity thumb drive in the world too, sporting 2TB of flash storage. That’s up to 70 hours of 4k video. The Sgnl wristband, too, turns your finger into a phone via audio vibrations that travel up through your wrist. Incredible. A lot needs to happen over the next 12 months but it feels like 2018 will be the year where we build upon existing technologies, and refine and properly integrate them into our everyday lives.

DON’T UNWITTINGLY BECOME A TRUMP: 16 WAYS TO BE A LEADER LIKE ELON

Just because you’re a leader, it doesn’t mean you’re a great leader. A management role can be daunting and extremely stressful, and anyone new to it faces enormous challenges.

You can rise quickly and fall just as fast. Becoming a great leader doesn’t happen overnight; you have to work at it, harder than the people reporting to you, according to everyone’s favourite CEO, Elon Musk. It’s a mix of nature and nurture.

Trump was a successful businessman at times (although he never seems to mention the 4 times his companies have had to file for bankruptcy) but running a family real estate business is verydifferent to the executive branch of the United States. Life may now feel like an episode of Black Mirror, but his abhorrent behaviour means that he’s fast becoming a handy case study in exactly what not to do. Take it from Musk and other greats – to actually inspire and gain the trust of your team, leaders must:

 

Set the right tone

Everyone’s still forming their opinion of you during the first few weeks, so set the tone of your leadership and work to earn their trust. Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King were assertive but empathetic, and that’s a good model. Be confident, approachable, warm, self-assured and respectful to all, and don’t play favourites or try to be anybody’s best friend. Remember to listen; act like a student, not a teacher.

 

Communicate effectively

Trump’s foreign policy is completely incoherent. Don’t brag, bully or speak impulsively. Give your team context about what’s at stake and increase personal relevance. Make your expectations and feelings clear, in the appropriate medium. Your team will learn to trust and depend on you, and they’ll work harder. Give feedback – like your employees, you should be constantly improving your approaches, skills and processes.

 

Set bold goals

Musk says to focus on and understand the fundamental principles of what you are attempting to do before you get into the details, otherwise you could be building on faulty ground. It could take years, but the goals need to be achievable enough for everyone to buy into them. 

 

Listen to your team

Even if you don’t like it or want to hear it. Stamp out the ‘them and us’ culture that is rife in too many businesses. Get to know them – they are your most important asset, so serve them by investing in them, appreciating them, and developing them.

 

Build collaboration

It’s not just about power. The best leaders utilise their time and energy to collaborate with others. “It’s give-and-take, but it’s gotta be mostly take. Because you can’t give, you gotta mostly take” – Trump said to Business Insider re: his mantra for negotiating. Do not think like this. You’ll lose out on fruitful long-term relationships and countless opportunities.

 

Be consistent

When things don’t go perfectly to plan, part of the job is putting out fires and sustaining company morale. Showing your commitment and focusing on the larger goal will inspire your team to do and feel the same.

Be passionate & don’t give up

If you aren’t passionate about your business, then you shouldn’t be in it. If you want people to follow you, you need to believe and buy into your own vision. Your team is working there 5 days a week, 8 hours a day, so generate enthusiasm for the company’s future, and be an inspiration.

 

Be radical and act fast

Don’t be unable or unwilling to change; challenge the status quo, like Elon with his vision of Mars. But the first step is to gauge where you can make a real impact. Don’t blindly follow trends; take risks and be disruptive. Keep ahead of trends so you’re able to act fast on new ideas and opportunities.

 

Make firm decisions and stick to them

If you’re indecisive, people will lose trust and confidence in you. Look at 2007 Gordon Brown failing to call that ‘in the bag’ election. Decision-making is the core skill of a leader, so leaders must be the ones to take those chances based on research and facts to hand.

 

Identify mentors and role models

Find people you can look up to and learn from, and follow them closely. Make sure to pay it forward, too. Great leaders are always nurturing and mentoring others, providing opportunities for them to showcase their talent and inspire others.

 

Make time to meet new people

Stay in contact with old team members and take every opportunity to expand your network and experience new things so that you become the sort of person other people want to connect with.

 

Forgive mistakes & learn from them

Everyone makes them. Accountability is key at Zaboura. Don’t make excuses when something goes wrong or pass the buck. If there’s something you’re not good at it, own it and work at it. Don’t beat anyone or yourself up, move on. Trump attacks people with personal jibes and nuclear threats, and this shows a failure to understand the basic rules of logic or focus on the relevant. If you’re fighting a losing battle, know when to retreat and start again somewhere else or in a new way.

 

Make it fun & allow time for innovation

Leaders should enjoy leadership. And your team should enjoy that leadership, too. Little things like bring-your-dog-to-work day, team-building exercises, or first-day pranks make a big difference to atmosphere. It’s important to involve your staff and show confidence in them, letting them come up with new ideas and ways of doing things, too.

 

Back everything up with data

Learning to trust yourself is as important as your team learning to trust you. But do your homework. Never exclusively trust instincts or reactions, and back up all thoughts opinions and decisions with objective facts.

 

Know your strengths & surround yourself with great people

It’s 90% of the solution, according to Musk. Going from doing to leading can be a very difficult shift for a leader. Trump’s a micro-manager, and everyone hates them. You can’t do it all yourself, and truly great leaders, like Virgin founder Richard Branson and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos surround themselves with talented people to offer solutions. Identify employee strengths, set the goals, define the vision, and trust your team to get it done.

 

Make time for a home life

It’s essential to maintain mental health. Too much stress will impact on your work and ability to lead your team, so make steps to reduce it, make time if you don’t think you have it, and don’t forget about your personal life.

FINDING THE RIGHT INFLUENCERS FOR YOUR B2B BRAND

B2B Influencer marketing is a whole different world, so requires a whole new approach

B2B marketing used to be simple. All you needed were some ads in a magazine, a booth at a trade show, a little bit of PR and a few vague figures and graphs. Seismic shifts have divided audiences and outdated these reliable strategies. The buyer’s journey is now long, unpredictable and non-linear, we need new technology to even make sense of it, and the customers make the rules now. They don’t want to read a press release; they want convenience and go read it in their news feed, at a time that suits them, and only if it’s relevant.

We are evolving towards an ad-free world. TV and radio is streamed and commercial-free, internet ads are blocked by one third of customers now, and no one really invests in newspaper ads anymore. Social media, digital and content budgets may be rising, but client trust has hit rock-bottom, and we need a new B2B marketing strategy before it’s too late to win it back. Influencers are now pitching everything from sweets and tech, to cars to countries, but B2B has been slow to adopt. 55% of B2C companies run ongoing or integrated influencer marketing programs, but only 15% of B2B companies consider their programs to be mature. However, 49% are experimenting with it.

 

We’re living in the gold rush era of influencer marketing. The future leaders will be the pioneers who work out how to evolve their marketing strategies for the new, fragmented-but-connected future

The influencer space is becoming loud and crowded. Many companies try to tackle influencer marketing without having a real strategy, and 79% of marketers cited finding the right influencers as a top challenge for their brand. Brands must look for opportunities to move from a campaign-led focus to the long-term and integrate influencer relations into every area and department of the business, including messaging, activities, strategic planning. They must reach out across every department to source and assess influencers, have different teams manage and collaborate on relationships.

Potential reach and trust are what separates influencer marketing from sales. Customers are more likely to trust an honest, un-biased, passionate expert than a brand advert. The voice of the influencer can help cut through all of the noise and distrust that is so present in the B2B buying experience (particularly true when it comes to technology). Organisations must alter their mind sets so that they can recognise an opportunity in harnessing constructive criticism from expert voices. It will lead to the creation of conversations that really engage, improved customer service and perhaps even an improved product. B2B businesses need to really commit to building and nurturing long-term relationships with influencers. If you’re willing to act on feedback, responding to negative comments can actually be a great starting point. Treat influencers like the press; invite them to all the same events and entrust them with all the same embargoed material.

 

 

There must be a fair value exchange between the brand and the influencer

In order to maintain a two-way relationship and a true dialogue, instead of simply pushing brand content, it’s important to find out what the influencer is trying to achieve. Look beyond the numbers and understand their values and how they align with your brand. If they are self-obsessed or will endorse anything for money, then their personal brand isn’t likely to last long. What can your brand do to help them create compelling content? There are thousands of influencers out there but you should aim to build strong relationships with 10-15 people each year. Any more and you may spread your efforts too thinly and won’t be able to provide them with a valuable experience.

The main difference between B2B and B2C influencer strategy is that B2B influencer marketing is more relationship-centric from the start, and then evolves into a relationship around a product or service. Whereas B2C engagement with influencers often begins around a product or a service and then evolves more into a holistic relationship engagement gradually. Match influencers with employees to help form more personal relationships and expedite the sharing of knowledge and ideas. Brands should look to find opportunities for the influencers to engage on their own channels, in their own voice, and build organisational processes to ensure long-term engagement for every initiative.

 

To find the right influencers, you need insight, technology, and input from senior management

Ad-hoc, manual research is a waste of time – you need a content & data led identification approach. Using technology eliminates brand bias and enables laser-targeting. You can find contextually relevant keywords across influencer content, trending hashtags, handles, and popular search phrases, and get really granular with companies/software like Traackr. You can discover new influencers, influencers already talking about your brand, ones talking about competitors (perhaps ones you weren’t aware of), and most importantly, the ones aligned with your brand’s core values and most relevant to your messaging. These influencers will be easier to transform into advocates and form lasting relationships with, and more likely to share your brand’s story and have ideas for the future.

Assess and understand their content, who they are, what they stand for, who they influence, if and why they’re trending, other brands they partner with, past performance metrics, where interests overlap – it takes time, but technology will streamline it. By making data-driven decisions that scale, focused on the content you know your customers care about, the right influencers for your brand – who align with your brand story and can spread your message – will become clear. An influencer who shares content can generate eight times his or her own consumption through their advocacy, according to research by Boston Consulting Group. This goes to show that it isn’t about the content itself; it’s about how that content is transmitted.

 

 

B2B influencer measurement is not impossible, you just have to look harder…

Early influencer measurement efforts were all about ‘reach’ in terms of mentions and likes. It’s moving beyond that, but slowly. It’s still difficult because the buyer journey is long, unpredictable, complex and no longer linear. Plus, meaningful influence may be occurring in hard to find/measure places such as online forums, conversations in person, and industry conferences. A challenge with technology, definitely, is that many influential conversations about, say, hybrid cloud or hyper converged infrastructure, are happening behind the doors of closed forums and groups.

Tracking is much harder than with B2C products, but there are some categories of measurement useful in B2B including measuring engagement in clicks, likes and comments. We don’t really care about potential reach and an influencer’s 5 million followers, if only 5 people engage with the content. Did it start a conversation? Did people take action? How did this compare to previous content? You need these answers to determine if you’re getting it right. Around 80% of the conversations about your brand (including some real loyalty) are happening behind firewalls, in face-to-face discussions and in the comments sections of blogs, and so won’t pop up in a newsfeed or on a Hootsuite graph. Overlooking these qualitative measures, likely means overlooking most of the influencer (and his or her program’s) value. How are you measuring the influencer’s influence? Are you seeing more conversations as a result of the content? Are people converting? Are you getting more warm leads making contact? Are people actually buying something? Measurement is a work in progress but smart organisations can see the benefits in SEO, R&D, sales and awareness.

Influencer marketing and its impact in the B2B sphere is becoming clearer but in the meantime, the answers to those questions will come from taking down silos, getting everyone talking to each other and creating a standardised measurement framework.

THE SECRETS TO SURVIVING A SOCIAL MEDIA MELTDOWN

Roughly 70-90% of your customers are on social media, and becoming increasingly vocal about their interactions with brands. Remember musician Dave Carroll’s ‘United Breaks Guitars’? (and that was just the start for them). Prospective customers will be watching carefully and making decisions about whether they want to do business with you. But 92.5% of companies are letting their customers down on social media.

67% of Twitter’s 310 million active users have reached out on the platform to a brand to get help or service. That’s nearly 208 million people, 53% of whom expect a response within 1 hour. Shockingly, 58% of those customers reaching out don’t even get a response. This will cause 38% of them to have a negative perception about that brand and 60% to tweet about it.

A social media strategy allows you to set goals and objectives with which you can measure impact, so crisis planning should absolutely be a part of it. It is so often the case that we see companies – large and small – desperately trying to put one together whilst a drama unfolds. A recent case in point, a certain mobile giant that failed to acknowledge or respond to the issue (one that had harmed customers, blown devices up and caused a recall to be issued) for an entire week. When they did, it was cold and poorly executed, causing further public outrage on social media and even leading to competitor ads mocking the whole debacle. A crisis plan already in place could have prevented most negative comments and feelings. They would have been listening to all the channels, so been able to spot the problem coming, known to respond sooner as the pot boiled, and they could have diagnosed the product malfunction sooner. They lost billions, and the havoc wreaked on their brand image via social media was irreparable. Don’t be like them:

 

Have a plan

A crisis will arise sooner or later, and your social management team will be on the front line. If you aren’t yet on any social channels, it isn’t too late to start (you’re earlier than you think, compared to most, shockingly, based on the Rational Interaction report). And social media can in fact be a valuable tool for effectively handling crisis situations, in spite of how daunting it can seem after having seen companies destroyed by vocal angry twitter users. Plan ahead, and think about the potential crises that could happen to you, then make time to plan your defence. Be proactive, rather than reactive. Having all of that up your sleeve will increase employee confidence and speed up your response time when it does hit.

 

Keep calm & address it immediately

Take the chance right away to admit mistakes and show how much you care. And not with canned responses. Be authentic and transparent. People are much more likely to forgive those who demonstrate sincerity. Whether it’s a faulty airbag that needs recalling or a bad batch of baby food, any issue will magnify if left unaddressed, and rumours will start to circulate, causing even further potential brand damage. Reaction time is critical. One recent survey shows that, on average, 40% of customers complaining on social media expect a response within an hour, and 32% expect a response within 30 minutes, but an Eptica study showed that the average response time from brands on Twitter was 7 hours and 12 minutes. All brands should be strategising like Nordstrom, who recently responded to a twitter complaint in 17 seconds and demonstrated how in every crisis, there is the opportunity to come out on top from complaint handling. As well as reaction speed, it’s also about the way you react. You need to be on the channels your customer is using, so your approach must be data-driven.

Monitor everything

We’ll say it again: it’s all in the data. You should also be planning to evaluate the crisis. Those rumours and negative comments can all be detected with the right technological tools. Knowing how to proceed comes from listening to what’s happening and how people are feeling. Tools like Clarabridge’s will help – you’ll be able to keep track of mentions across platforms and automate ‘we’re sorry, we’re working on it’ replies, that redirect afflicted customers to an official statement. Look at your influencers and find out where your loyal brand advocates are so you can let them know they can still trust you, and for good reason. When things are rough, these influencers can be very useful in ensuring that no one further turns off your brand.

 

Move fast  

When something terrible happens relating to a product or service of yours, the last thing affected customers want to see during a crisis is a sales letter for the new model, focused on increasing the company’s financial bottom line, or a scheduled post about winning an award for quality, for example. Be sensitive to feelings and content that will only make things worse, and be very careful of tone. Put ads and scheduled social media content on hold to show customers that you’re taking matters seriously and that it’s your main priority, particularly if you must keep the public updated. It will give your brand some power to steer conversations and tone and mitigate damages. Clarabridge’s latest eBook In Case of Emergency: 6 Rules of Social Media Crisis Management details essential best practices for planning and implementing your social crisis management procedures.

Learn from your mistakes and build a plan that provides your business with the right tools to handle the worst-case scenarios and limit loss of customers and future revenue. But don’t just respond to problems and complaints; take every opportunity to engage with your community, about the good and bad. There’s nothing bad about increased engagement.

THERE’S A PERFECT STORM BREWING IN THE WORLD OF CUSTOMER LOYALTY… HERE’S HOW TO GET THAT FORMULA RIGHT

How many of those annoying little loyalty cards do you have cluttering your purse? When you’re fumbling around at the bottom of your handbag, do you really feel like a VIP?

Purchasing behaviour has changed drastically in last 20 years. ‘The customer is always right’ has formed the customer agenda, and they have far greater expectations from their experiences, over a growing number of channels. Brands are used to the traditional sales funnel, and controlling the information that guides a prospect toward a purchase. That process is now controlled by the consumer, and the sales journey is no longer linear. Every sector will be affected by new advances driven by the internet, mobile and cheap cloud resources, toppling conventional ways of doing business. Paradoxically, these trends make it more important than ever to retain loyalty, but at the same time harder than ever to build strong and durable customer relationships.

We’re at the dawn of an age of disruption and marketers are in the driver’s seat” – Yvonne Genovese, group vice president, Gartner for Marketers.

A report by Gartner showed that 25% of CMO’s say that leading the customer experience is the most-increased expectation CEO’s have of them. Creating a relationship isn’t enough; it’s about creating the right kind of relationship with your customers – then, and only then, do you have loyalty. We need to modify the formula, as the commercial world did 10-15 years ago, and there are extraordinary opportunities for pioneering companies to establish themselves as leaders. How we measure satisfaction and retention must change because our customers are demanding a holistic approach. That means interacting beyond the traditional points-and-currency system. The future doesn’t belong to the big, it belongs to the fast. Loyal customers are worth their weight in gold, and finding and keeping them means making them feel like your number one business objective:

 

Listen to your audience & focus on the right metrics

Rewards have got to be relevant and easy to attain. The future of loyalty is about immediacy and use of data. Although digital continues to grow, now more than ever, a single customer view and a loyalty program that is cross- device and omnichannel is critical. 65% of consumers admit to having switched at least one provider in the past year due to poor experiences. So, harness actionable insights – by integrating transaction, channel, interaction and other data, brands can understand what customers want from the brand relationship and get a fuller picture of behaviour, context, interests, preferences and who your best customers are (not always who you’d think). Details that are impossible to discern in a bricks and mortar setting – for example, what do customers look at but not buy, what do they add to their wish list, and what do they share on Facebook or Pinterest? Hone in on customer pain points like Amazon prime (their customers’ biggest pain was shipping costs).Insights can be used to deliver relevant offers and content when and how the customer wants. Perhaps more importantly, they can be used to make better business decisions.

 

Personalisation

Personalisation is nothing new to marketers, but consumers increasingly expect brands to deliver in this area and it’s expected as a bare minimum for online experiences. Most personalisation today isn’t even really personalised – personalisation today is essentially items you’ve searched for that follow you around. It’s about creating & maintaining a positive emotional connection, so you can no longer view and treat customers in amassed, demographic categories; you need to see them as individuals to turn them into loyal customers. Like Innovid’s personalised ad for Channel 4 and 20th Century Fox, and Rosetta Stone’s tailored content. With machine learning and a great strategy, companies can actually personalise the customer experience, and according to Accenture Strategy’s 11th annual Global Consumer Pulse Research, 36% of UK consumers would share more personal information if it resulted in more personalised experiences.

New technology

Chatbots, AI, VR, mixed reality, and deeper data insights all have the potential to deliver new types of customer experiences, deeper loyalty programs, and more meaningful customer relationships at scale. One big advantage of mobile is that it is much easier and cheaper to deliver personalised offers and content digitally than in store. Plus, it’s more convenient for customers, and according to Forrester, 80% of U.S. adults report that the quality they most value in a customer service exchange is when the company values their time. Gartner predict that 85% of total customer interactions will not be managed by humans as of the year 2020. The true hurdle that remains is for companies to recognize and champion the need for data-driven technology, whether in-house or through a vendor. To see the results, people need to invest in the technology and utilise new technology and PR strategies to create real loyalty, like Clarabridge, miners of the actual customer voice.

 

 Fulfil customer expectations

While almost every business says they put their customers first, few actually make the investments in people, data analytics, technology, personalised marketing programs, etc. that are truly required to run the company from the customer out. Deliver on your value proposition. Unfulfilled expectations have a powerful opposite effect and can damage reputation. Create something like Virgin – provide exceptional experience every time a customer interacts on any channel. It’s more than just points, even more than marketing. It’s creating a convenient experience for the customer, one that customers want to use. Like the Starbucks app: place an order, access streamed music, redeem rewards in real time – it reinforces the brand as a lifestyle enhancement. Or Nike, with their “be like Mike” Jordan shoes (a fantastic case study for creating brand loyalty – Jordan retired in 1998 and the shoe brand is still expanding).

It doesn’t stop at loyalty programs; this needs to feed into all company content and permeate every touchpoint – loyalty comes from so many areas, not just rewards for gifts. Rewards for tapping into their psyches. Creating a loyal customer requires an entrepreneurial view, the right marketing tactics, an innovative, diverse and inclusive environment within the organisation where ideas flow freely and hard work is recognised, and a maintained standard of integrity with customers. That’s the glue that makes customers really stick, even in the face of worthy competition. So, clarify your business goals, define your customers (new and existing) and how their customer value is measured, and hit the drawing board.

NEW PR SKILLS & EXACTLY WHAT TO DO WITH THEM: A GUIDE FOR PRACTITIONERS OF THE FUTURE

PR is facing a bright but challenging few years ahead. Though it used to be a neat split (advertising agency, PR agency, marketing agency), the divide has crumbled and a 2017 USC Annenberg Global Communications study revealed that 87% of professionals do not believe the term ‘public relations’ will describe the work they do in five years.

Like the modern British economy, the rich are getting richer, the middle-class is disappearing, and ‘poorer’ agencies must find creative new ways to get by. Budgets may be rising, but so are client expectations of what agencies should provide. Clients are more educated on things like social media, blogs, SEO and online content, too. They want a more complete solution.

Not enough professionals are spending sufficient time on emerging PR skills that should now be a vital part of professional practice. Hiring new talent and skills is one thing. Understanding how to deploy them effectively is quite another. Plus, those new talents want viable career paths. It’s time to strategise & get ahead of the curve. Many have been restructuring the agency model around more specialist areas, capitalizing on dramatic changes in the PR communications landscape, but while specialists remain fashionable for now, a new breed of PR generalists are becoming vital to agency success. To win pitches in 2018, PR firms will need to have a firm grasp on:

 

Strategic Management:

According to the ICCO World PR Report research study, there has been a 10% rise in the number of PR professionals spending most or some of their time on strategic planning. Now at 69%, making it the third most common PR task, behind content creation (81%) and media relations (73%). There’s a reason. Social media, for example – a lot of agencies and consultants offer social media services for their clients. They can tweet, but can they assist with optimised content creation? Can they find and suggest relevant people to follow, and relevant articles to share? Do they understand the true nature of influence, and can they put together an influencer strategy that helps you form fruitful, long-term relationships, and achieve your objectives as a business? Do they understand the different strategies required for B2B and B2C influencer marketing? There are incredible, cost-effective online opportunities that go beyond print, banner and 30 second ads and laser cut the demographic you are looking for, but many agencies just aren’t educated on them. We have these strategic conversations with all our clients so that we are working towards the same goals.

Monitoring & Measuring:

Utilising data-driven research can help us better understand consumers, stakeholders, industries and trends, and provide us with new interpretations of how clients’ products can leverage those trends. Data can help build consensus around business objectives and offer clear insights on how to achieve and measure them. It can shape strategies and enables hyper-targeted campaigns and storytelling. Data science, AI, machine learning and chatbots will make PR easier too, from predicting peaks in customer interest to highlighting and mitigating potential crises.

It may be a new vocabulary for most right now, but in a decade or so, all PR agencies will be ‘data scientists’. Storytelling will always be at the heart of PR, so it’s about finding that synergy, so that the data is supercharging your work. Those agencies that do will be the ones to survive; ones that use data to show the impact of their work across a client’s whole business, not just press clippings. Yet the ICCO World PR Report research study shows that alarmingly, ‘monitoring and evaluation’ is only looked for by 59% of employers when recruiting for senior PR roles. More worrying when 77% claim that ‘strategic management’ is a key skill they look for. How can a PR practitioner be strategic when they don’t understand how measurement, evaluation and data analysis can shape strategy? 

 

Digital:

The huge shift in media consumption (to online) is fragmenting audiences and affecting the way PR firms think about servicing clients and achieving impactful results. We must think mobile and deliver our content to suit. AR & VR that seem so ‘tech-show’ now will soon become mainstream and revolutionise communications, just as they are healthcare and banking. Companies like Innovid are already paving the way, with their personalised Channel 4 trailer. An Accenture Report found that 40% of customers want more digital interaction than they’re getting. These are tools, not toys – clients will expect agencies to control messages through the use of technology, and measure the significant positive contribution they make to the financial, social and environmental bottom lines of a business.

 

Creative Content:

New marketing isn’t about banner ads or agency tweets on your behalf, it’s about content. Content that’s more personal, informed, relevant, and resonant than ever before. And it’s a great time to be writing it, with data and analytics advancements catalyzing the potential for more perceptive and focused work. Make data a primary ingredient in media materials; video content, visuals such as infographics, presentations, websites, collateral, etc. (another reason good data is priceless, it’s dynamic and multi-functional). It will help effectively gauge future developments and let you get ahead of conversations, and predict how they might evolve in time. Basic photo and video production should also already be a core skill. It’s just as integral to PR success as copywriting. Yet that same ICCO report shows that only 35% of practitioners spend some or most time on creation and editing, and a mere 22% of recruiters say this is a sought-after skill for a junior PR position. Even worse, only 9%, for a senior position.

Get ahead of the curve – find ways to disrupt and innovate internally, explore staff’s passions and develop skills in similar categories, create case studies to leverage during prospect and upselling discussions with clients. Get strategic, data-driven, and get to really know your customers.

 

CRAFTING THE PERFECT STORY

“We are bombarded with information. By the time you get to the office, you’ve been bombarded thousands of times. Billboards, people, advertisements, your friend, your boss. Our attention is constantly under attack. People are constantly trying to put information in front of us.”  – Steve Clayton, Chief Storyteller, Microsoft

It’s critical in such a saturated market to create something engaging and memorable. But it’s actually pretty simple when you really boil it down and the buzz over analytics shouldn’t have you forgetting that the most important thing is a great story. Stories go back thousands of years across every culture – they’re embedded in our human nature and they’ve captured our hearts and imaginations since we were children. They’re everywhere, and in everything. We see them everyday and they help us to make sense of things. Data is important and useful, but statistics don’t engage prospective customers or build a memorable brand image. Our brains are wired to remember stories, not data, so don’t just hurl numbers and statistics at your consumers; seek out your brand’s story and the most compelling and enchanting way to tell it from the heart your audience.

Stories can make you laugh, or cry, and change the way people think. However, even if you’ve got an amazing new product or a revolutionary idea, it can easily fail to connect with people and fall flat with a boring story, or even a great one not leveraged or angled properly. It sounds simple, but there’s a real art to it. A science, in fact (studies showing areas of the brain lighting up as if the listener is experiencing the story themselves). Your audience’s attention is finite however; consumers and journalists are busy people, and no one’s going to be interested in a half-baked story. You have to give them something that’s coverage-worthy; they’re not going to just advertise something for you and do your job for you.

Here are 6 things you need to bear in mind when searching for the story that will bring your brand’s messages to life:

 

Know your audience

This is vital. Storytelling is so powerful because it lets businesses connect with their audience’s feelings, needs and passions and a great narrative makes the listener feel like part of the story. Make it personal – great stories resonate, so make it personal and make your audience feel part of the story. Empathizing with characters leads to them imagining themselves in that scenario, using that product (until they are really doing so). Think of that Guinness wheelchair advert, about being ‘made of more’ (than just beer/regular ‘stuff’) – it got 3 million views in the first 4 days of the ad’s release. Or Google’s ‘Dear Sophie’ advert – simple, yet so effective and one of the best.

 

Sell your brand, not your product 

Though not the first to do so, Apple are the perfect iconic example of a brand narrative over any individual product. Their customer-centric narrative revolves around ‘beautiful solutions’ to everyday problems, cleverly packaged for consumers who are more like ‘fans’. And the John Lewis’ Christmas advert, for example, showed how important a good story is in building a reputation. As Francis Ingham, PRCA director general put it: “ultimately consumers don’t buy CEOs, or logos, or even products to some extent; they buy reputation.”

Think visually and creatively

Take the Lego movie, for example. That was masterful; essentially a 90 minute toy advert, but a truly excellent film, enjoyed by kids and adults alike. It’s the way you do it that matters; the techniques used, so think visually and be imaginative. Great stories engage their audience in a world that’s not their own (VR, anyone….?). Shoppers who view videos are 1.81X more likely to purchase than non-viewers, and researchers found that coloured visuals increase people’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80%, according to HubSpot. Make your story shareable – remember that Share a Coke campaign from last year? – social media is a great PR playground for experimentation, so get a handle on hashtags.

 

Quality is key

For a lasting impact. Lots of people talk about the importance of the story but there’s so much derivative and irrelevant content out there. Give them a reason to care. Needs a clear purpose. Don’t let the story become bigger than the message – they’re parables, and vehicles to convey information, and as with all stories, it’ll only work if you’ve got a clear and compelling message that your target audience can understand. Gain their trust by being authentic. Think about Richard Branson and Virgin – it’s a personal, authentic leadership story.

Always be curious and don’t be shy

Look for stories where you don’t expect to find them – you could get the perfect idea on the commute to work.And don’t underestimate the power of anecdotes – this somewhat looser approach could save you days spent crafting pristine messages no one wants to hear. Plus, a lot of journalism stems from anecdotal stories so it will ensure you’re aligned to journalists’ needs.

 

Don’t forget the basic rules

Great stories resonate, have characters and a protagonist, conflict, tension and a satisfying ending. They appeal to all the senses (sights, colours, sounds, scents) and promote intrigue, inspiration and excitement. The story needs to be about someone. From the perspective of someone the product, or an unsung company hero perhaps? Tell their stories.

 

Storytelling works for everyone. Ask yourself what makes your brand unique, and what you want people to remember and why it’s important. It can even define and inspire a business and influence its direction for the future. In the words of two great storytellers, Simon Pegg & Nick Frost, “you have to spin a good yarn before you can weave a great dream”. It takes practice, but in one way or another, we’re all storytellers and willing consumers of stories, so use that innate desire. There’s nothing more powerful.

ASSEMBLING YOUR MILLENNIAL DREAM TEAM

At the core of any business is it’s people, and without great people, your company’s growth and revenue will stagnate. It’s vital to have the right people; talent that you can trust and that will help you achieve your goals. The brutal war for new talent rages on, and expectations about company culture are continuing to evolve fast.

You need a fresh strategy for attracting employees, because Millennials, for example, who will soon comprise around 50% of the workforce by 2020, certainly require a different approach, and the companies who get a hold of this quickly are the ones who are going to have the competitive advantage and their pick of the top talent.

They seem to get a lot of bad press, but Millennials are hard-working, technologically savvy, innovative and committed, and there’s a lot of 20-30 year old potential out there that you could benefit from. Millennials aren’t so focused on traditional HR benefits and are more interested in what a company can offer them in terms of mentorship, a great culture, a healthy work-life balance and fulfilling career challenges and opportunities. Companies like Google, Virgin and Apple don’t even need to try because they’re attracting talent, rather than recruiting it. But even if your company doesn’t make iPhones or self-driving cars, you don’t need a radical culture change to attract the best talent; you just need an alluring employment brand that works for you (if you aren’t familiar with this term, then the chances are your employment brand isn’t all that alluring…) 

An employment brand is the way prospective/current/former employees view your organization. You need to find the one that pulls people into your organization the moment they first engage with you (give your website a sleek, personal, mobile-responsive update if it’s older than 3 years, for a start). Recruitment and retention have started to become both a marketing and an HR function, so you need to think in those terms and put together an attraction strategy aimed at engaging and enticing Millennials; one that ensures the very best talent seeks youout. And when you’ve got the best talent, you don’t even need a lot of it. Future-proof your workforce with these tips:

 

Understand the talent that’s right for you. 

What’s right for someone else’s team might not be right for yours, and there’s no one universal standard for the perfect employee. We wouldn’t be where we are today or have our clients or our awards without our hard-working Zaboura team. And they’re all Zaboura material to the core. Everyone has talent, but you need to make sure you’re attracting the right talent for your organization; your company might want a team of entrepreneurial outside-the-box thinkers, but another might require more deliberative, consensus-driven executives. Look at the most successful people in your organization and what they all have in common, and you’ll be able to clearly outline the employee traits and abilities that you’re after.

 

Make a positive environment  

Involve your employees in why you do what you do; meaningful work means more than salaries, according to a recent survey by UNC’S Kena-Flagler Business School and the YEC. For example, when Californian paper company Ernest Packaging Solutions were struggling to attract young workers, they created a YouTube video called The Ernest Edge, focusing on the Ernest Packaging’s family roots and quirky employees, which has attracted around 50 new millennial workers to the company each year since it was posted in 2011. But you don’t have to be Google or a quirky family company to create a workplace that people enjoy working in. It starts at the top: you can’t have a magnetic organisation without magnetic leaders and the magnetism of a company has a lot to do with who you put in charge and give responsibility to. Everyone’s had a horrible boss in the past, and it’s the main reason people quit their job. Managers impact your turnover and you need to equip them with the knowledge and skills to help them understand what their employees’ needs are and help build a retention plan that will increase employee engagement.

 

Include Engage

They may turn up for work every morning, but are your team really engaged and motivated, and as productive as they could be? People work harder for you if you let them contribute ideas and suggestions – it gives them a sense of ownership and inclusion and they will be more engaged and committed. Take Sony, for example, annual host of the Idea Exposition, during which their scientists and engineers can display projects and ideas that they’re working on. Such initiatives create a healthy and buzzing atmosphere of innovation and creativity for everyone involved, and engaged, motivated employees boost team performance, customer service, profitability and brand reputation. Even little things say a lot, like at TD Industries in Dallas, TX, one of Fortune magazine’s Top 100 places to work: there’s a wall within the company contains the photographs of all employees who have worked there more than five years and there are also no reserved parking spaces or other perks just for executives, because every employee is equal.

 

Nurture & Develop

Talented people won’t stick around if they see no future in their role. Millennials want to work for leaders who are going to give them room to grow and are invested in the progression of their careers – a Linkage, Inc study reported that 40% of people would consider leaving their current employer for a new job that offered the same benefits but greater challenges and better career development. Whether that’s covering the costs for industry conferences or skills workshops, inviting guest speakers for in-house training sessions, or increasing employee responsibility every 12 months to give them a fresh challenge; it’s up to you to pick something that will truly resonate with this generation (think digital, and flexible attendance). And whatever you do: measure. Measuring and regular evaluation is vital for continuous improvement. At Zaboura we measure attitudes, morale, turnover, employee engagement, and ensure that every employee has an individual development plan. The primary purpose of evaluation is to measure progress and determine what makes your team content and what they’re dissatisfied with. Deloitte, for example, (one of the top 100 places to work) discovered during exit interviews that 70% of the talent they lost could have been re-homed within the company. Deloitte Career Connections, their resultant employee coaching program, was utilised by 2,000 employees who looked at internal job openings/self-assessments/resume-developing tools/job-seeking strategies in it’s first week.

 

Recognise & Reward

Once you’ve found the right talent, you want to keep hold of it, and you won’t with just money and benefits. You have to keep them wanting to come back every morning. Most people like the idea of staying where they are if it makes them happy, and not uproooting themselves, so make them happy and you’ll have a loyal team by your side for a long time to come. When did you last tell someone that you’re really glad they’re a part of your team, or gave someone a raise on the spot because of an amazing and deserving piece of work, rather than waiting for the next annual employee review? Everyone wants to feel appreciated and proud of what they accomplish, and you need to bear that in mind on a daily basis. Look at some recognition and incentive programs to get ideas flowing because they make all the difference.

 

Promote work-life balance

To attract the workforce of the future, you need to become the workplace of the future. And part of that is understanding the importance of a proper work-life balance for today’s youth, and accepting that you might need to make a few cultural shifts so that you’re on the same page as your would-be new talent. More than half of those surveyed in The Hartford’s 2014 Millennial Leadership Survey state the most important thing for young employees is a flexible working schedule, probably partly due to millennials being caught between home responsibilities of taking care of children or older relatives while striving for their own personal and professional goals. Even if it’s simply the opportunity to work remotely one day per week, millennials are likely to respond well to such initiatives and companies who aren’t aware of this aren’t going to be places where such young hopefuls want to work.