How to become a better trend curator

 

A “Non Obvious How to predict Trends and Win the Future” book review (2018 edition)

“Non obvious” teaches the foundations to successfully curate content and think differently to spot non obvious trends.

It starts with a description of the habits to cultivate to be a successful content curator, follows with a process to curate ideas and spot patterns among industries and ends with a deep analysis of 15 trends for 2018 that the author Rohit Bhargava and his team predicted.

Rohit Bhargava, ex brand strategist at Ogilvy and Leo Burnett, and author of 5 bestselling business books, worked on the series from 2011.

When the series passed from only being digital to paper (2015) , the “non obvious trend series” won the following awards:

Wall Street Journal Best Seller (2015 Edition)

Winner: Axiom Business Theory Silver Medal (2017 Edition)

Official Selection: Gary’s Book Club at CES (2017 Edition)

Winner: Non-Fiction Book Awards Gold Medal (2018 Edition)

For maximum transparency the book includes also a summary of the trends predicted the previous years with a rating on how off where the predictions compared to reality. 

The 5 habits of curation taught in the book are:

–  Being curious = consuming brainful media such as ted talks, read historical fiction, and curated compilations

– Being observant = simplify concepts like you were teaching to children, asking questions on the processes in every day life from how the coffee is made to how your movies are streamed on Netflix, and observe the world outside of your phone!

–  Being fickle = Capture ideas without fossilizing on them, save them offline for later consumption, set a timer to evaluate ideas and summarize concepts.

–   Being thoughtful = Take time to comment on the internet, you do not always need to be first and take time to rethink your thoughts.

–  Being elegant = Make concepts as simple as possible but not simpler, keep the ideas short, use poetic principles to make the ideas more memorable and easier to remember.

The Haystack Method, a process to find the trend (the proverbial needle) among the ideas and information gathered (the hay)

 It is composed by 5 steps, (1) saving ideas, collecting them in folders with summaries, and searching for concepts, not conclusions, (2) aggregating ideas, order the ideas with questions on what need or behaviour they underline, and recognize the obvious (3) elevating, understanding what is interesting in the ideas, what is the broader theme and how multiple industries are connected by the ideas, (4) Naming, a method to ensure that the trend name is memorable enough to stick in the minds for example using alliterations (Disruptive Distribution), twists (Small Data), and mash ups (Likeonomics, Shoptimization) (5) Proving, refer to authoritative sources for examples and research that support your trends, check that the trend is present in multiple industries, and watch your biases.

Some of the trends that I found interesting in the book were:

Enlighted consumption, the customer use of availability of information to express their values in consumption , it ranges in a multitude of industries from transformative travels such as the ones advertised by Incredible India tourism campaign to find peace and silence, to mindful ugly produce consumption, the opening of supermarkets in Denmark, Finland and Sweden where people can buy fruits, vegetables that are fresh and tasty but are being discarded for their aspect (started by the Stop Wasting Food movement Denmark Stop Spild Af Mad by Selina Juul)

 Transformative travels

Ugly produce

Light-Speed Learning ,the idea of dividing the teaching of time consuming skills in multiple micro tasks such as short videos/audios/pages and minimum units of knowledge to fasten learning. This is useful to keep audience attracted in consumption that requires the involvement of advanced abilities, for example the guitar producer Fender started to sell short videos to teach basics to new guitarists ( 90% of people that picks up guitar quit within the first year and 45% of Fender annual’s sale go to beginners who have never played before). Another example could be Chinesepod, an online service that divides the teaching of the language in short video tidbits.

Fender Play

Chinesepod

Disruptive Distribution, the trend that business reinvent themselves in their connections with the customers to increase efficiency. Example of this other than the obvious Netflix are Cloud technologies providers, that shifted from on premise to subscription services to better serve the customer, West Elm a furniture retailer that opened its hotel chain where it is possible to buy all the items found in their hotel’s room, and Moviepass a subscription service to see movies in various theaters at cheaper prices.

West Elm

Moviepass

 “Non Obvious How to predict Trends and Win the Future” is a really interesting book with a collection of compelling branding stories and successes that is worth reading.Innovation is found at the crossroads.

Negotiating as if you life depended on it, Finding the Black Swans

Negotiation is an important part of business and life.

In every aspect of our life we trade in and out things. With our boss, our teachers, our spouse with the shop owner to get a discount on something. “Never split the difference, Negotiating as if you life depended on it” is an engaging book that teaches how to negotiate effectively. The author of this book, the ex-chief negotiator of FBI for kidnappings and teacher of negotiation at Harvard, MIT and Kellogg universities Chris Voss, provides a summary of the practical techniques he used in solving though negotiation with high stakes. Every chapter provides a series of compelling stories from his years of FBI expertise and his MBA pupils business’ experiences that illustrate the negotiation skills in action in real instances and the reasoning behind them.

The negotiation abilities taught in the book help to uncover the known unknowns, things that, like in a game of poker we are certain exist in the game but we do not know yet.

poker

“known unknowns are things we are certain exist in the game but we did not know yet”

The main tools described to uncover the known unknowns range from the traditional ones such as tone of voice, calibrated questions, use of precise numbers, and smiling while negotiating to more innovative ideas such as mirroring, the technique of repeating the important part of the other speech in a particular way to create empathy, Labeling, the technique of strategically summarizing the counterpart’s thought with the impersonal sentences like “It seems that…” to defuse conflict and finding new information, the psychological importance of getting a No before the yes to reveal the real stakes in the negotiation, The importance to avoid Why questions ( in every language a question that starts with a why requires a justification as an answer and therefore highlights an explicit or implicit accusation), the importance to get a “That’s right” in the conversation against a dismissive “You are right” to get rid of you, and many others techniques.

A pivotal concept explained in the book is the existence of the Black Swans or the unknown unknowns, critical hidden information that is game changing in the negotiation dynamics.

“Black Swans are red flags/clues that tell us that what appears in front of us is not the ordinary standard negotiation routine but an exception”

Black Swans are red flags/clues that tell us that what appears in front of us is not the ordinary standard negotiation routine but an exception. For example in the book there are various examples where these clues were present: from the first kidnapping where the perpetrator wanted to be killed instead of cashing money, to the more ordinary examples such as when a real estate agent inadvertently revealed that its client needed the money from its 4.3 million dollars property to pay mortgages on other properties, allowing for the negotiation of a much cheaper final price of 3.55 million dollars

Black Swans are leverages that can give the negotiator the advantage on the counterpart and the book discusses on how to spot them with all the methods discussed in it.

I highly recommend this book because it changed completely my perception about negotiation and I think it should be a mandatory reading in every business school and negotiation practice.

Everybody Writes by Ann Handley Book Review.

“This book should be included with every keyboard sold, like a combo pack of communication clarity.”(Jay Baer, President, Convince & Convert, And Author, Youtility)

Everybody writes is a source of incredible writing tips. Ann Handley, the author of the book, explains the steps in becoming a proficient writer and adapt content to the correct format in every internet-based tool at our disposal.

The book idea is to wage war to mediocre content. How many times do we read time wasting articles with clickbait titles that are not even engaging? How long should be a tweet, a blog post or a description to be on spot? How can you write directly to the customers and being relevant?

Ann Handley addresses all these questions in her book, explains where to find the right copyright free images, music and data to support your articles, how to curate your content, how to distinguish yourself and your brand with unique writing on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube. Because writing is not dead it has just changed its form. Especially in spaces where the attention is more and more limited and the competition not only with other brands but with news, advertising, sports events, Netflix movies, Meet ups and Date apps, it is critical to get the message concise and right.

Ann goes far beyond of simply optimizing your way of writing explaining how to learn to get better. And it adds much more value to the reader.

Give a Man a Fish, and You Feed Him for a Day. Teach a Man To Fish, and You Feed Him for a Lifetime” (Ancient Chinese Proverb)

She give heads up on groups to join to get your writing to the next level, shows how to fact check data and give credit to ideas from other authors, explains where to find editorial tools (she wrote about Grammarly before it was over advertised on Internet) demonstrates how beneficial is to make writing a daily habit.

The book is all about how to express more with less. And it is incredible the amount of in-depth suggestions that it contains in  74 suggestions and only 257 pages.

If you take this book to the core and understand its 74 seeds they will flourish in beautiful and resistant trees that will support your brand through time.

 

Final Vote 5/5

The Author

Ann Handley is the Chief Content Officer of  Marketing Profs,a company that instructs a large community of marketers. She Best Selling Author of the Wall Street Journal and columnist for Entrepreneur Magazine, Member of Linkedin Influencer Program and Co-author of the book Content Rules.

 

Crushing It! And why you should read it even if you are not an entrepreneur.

Crushing it! is a book that explores Social Media Marketing and how people with passion grew successful communities.

It covers not only the usual quartet of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram but also new more exciting applications such as Musical.ly, Snapchat, Podcast and Voice First applications.

In the book are showcased both practical examples of people who grew their businesses becoming influencers ( from a Dentist that filled her waiting room with young patients using Musical.ly to Financial Consultancy on YouTube for young women),

                         (Examples of successful business scale-ups)

101 lessons and analysis on how every social media is used and what works best for them.

A really interesting how-to section concentrates on sound content like Alexa Skills and Flesh Briefings and how it should be native, brief and high quality.

Crushing it! details 8 pillars that every influencer tends to use build his personal brand:  Intent, Passion, Authenticity, Patience, Speed, Hard Work, Attention and Content. These insights are great not only for people who want to become entrepreneurs but also for managers that desire to connect with influencers to understand them and establish joint ventures. For example in the authenticity section describes how Social Media Entrepreneurs take seriously their passion and may promote only products that resonate with their audience, how product sponsorship proposals should be declared and transparent to their public;

the content section explains how usually Entrepreneurs focus on a single platform their production and adapt it to other channels experimenting.

This book is a good reading for everyone interested to grow their social media presence or brand. If you are curious, want to have tips on how to grow tactics hands-on and discover the use of on new digital media with both timeless principles and current insights you should buy it now.

Final vote 4/5

 

The Author

Gary Vaynerchuck, in art “garyvee”, is an entrepreneur who grew its wine business developing a YouTube Wine review channel from 4 million to 60 million dollars, Mr. Vaynerchuck has subsequentially branched out growing other successful businesses on Snapchat,Facebook,Twitter,Uber and Venmo. He currently is the CEO of VaynerX a 150 Million dollar media agency. He is also author of various New York Times Best Seller books.

 

 

Gamification and Data Analysis with Harvard Business Publishing

The business world is revolving around the idea of big data.

The most successful companies strive to collect everyone’s data in order to make optimal decisions and predict the outcome of future profits.

Trinity Business Schools choose to use gamification, the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts.

More information about gamification and how it can impact real case scenarios in this video:

Trinity Business School chose to use a Harvard Business Publishing case presented as a game: a Detergent Company trying to get the best possible profit in a period of 5 years.

The Case

In the game, we were put in the shoes of Blue’s Marketing directors, a fictional US detergent company with a slowly declining market share and a traditional Marketing and Manufacturing process.

The company had recently decided to use forecast and reports to improve its profits against the main player of the Market, Turbo, Flash and Retailer’s Stores.

A brief with the history of the industry was given to flesh out the business case.

We were given 10 minutes to figure out the data from the company and how to maximize the profit a lot of information was given at the same time, a market report, an income statement A sentiment analysis with changing live feedback. After an error in inputting information in the first year, Pushkar and I managed to surpass Flash and Retailers in term of profitability in the following years of the game.

 

(our decisions history)

 

( Despite the loss  in the first year, in the end, we were able to have more profitability than Fresh and Retailer stores)

What we have learnt:

1) To follow the trends in the demand and stick to the facts more than trust information at face value. For example, we shifted our features optimization to odor control and pods from the classic more accepted powder pack and gave more attention to data analytics than the initial company brief.

2) The importance of listening more to the customer base and follow its dynamics. A marketer needs to enhance his active listening skill to create more insights.  In terms of qualitative data, social media feedback from the customer is useful when analyzing the most positive and negative reviews. Checking them is a good indicator of what can be fixed and what can be improved. On the quantitative data side, it is important to spot new opportunities to sell. Monitoring the market every year allows to reduce the risks associated with demand shifts and adapt the quantity of product sold. Quantitative data can also support qualitative data when it comes to developing a full-fledged sentiment analysis and to

3) Being aware of our client’s characteristics. We segmented our market to see the demographics of our current clientele.  This is necessary to understand future opportunities for the people we do not serve yet and to plan expansions on the current market target.

4) The importance of using forecasting tools to plan the demand. With the availability of more source of data and information, it is pivotal to use methods to estimate the quantities needed in the future. Having an indication of a probable future can improve a company decision making.

5) Importance of testing possibilities/products on the market. In our exercise, we had plenty of data to decide. This made us reflect that in case of lack of data it is really important to test product launches using pilot programs to see the actual client purchasing behavior against the declared one.

6) Importance of Speed in decision implementation. In big companies adopt solution fast is imperative to maintain or grow in market share and competitiveness. In the case study, the conditions changed each year and all we needed to adapt was to push a button on a dashboard. In real business decisions are impeded by internal politics, disorganization.Data can fasten the whole process.

In conclusion, companies should strive to gain near-perfect information, to increase their profits and having a competitive edge against adversaries.

 

5 books to read before joining a Marketing Course

Blog and author websites

David Meerman Scott Blog : https://www.webinknow.com/

Ann Headley website : https://www.marketingprofs.com/

Winston Wayne Website https://excelwithwayne.com/

Tanner Larson https://buildgrowscale.com/

Books on amazon New Rules of Marketing and PR https://amzn.to/2DQVpbl

Everybody Writes https://amzn.to/2pCjptO

Marketing Management https://amzn.to/2DRrv6R

Marketing Analytics: Data-Driven Techniques with Microsoft Excel https://amzn.to/2G0gQfW

Ecommerce Evolved https://amzn.to/2G2tRG9

 

Gamification to learn Data analysis with Harvard Business Publishing

The business world is revolving around the idea of big data.

The most successful companies strive to collect everyone’s data in order to make optimal decisions and predict the outcome of future profits.

Trinity Business Schools choose to use gamification, the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts.

More information about gamification and how it can impact real case scenarios in this video:

Trinity Business School chose to use a Harvard Business Publishing case presented as a game: a Detergent Company trying to get the best possible profit in a period of 5 years.

The Case

In the game, we were put in the shoes of Blue’s Marketing directors, a fictional US detergent company with a slowly declining market share and a traditional Marketing and Manufacturing process. 

The company had recently decided to use forecast and reports to improve its profits against the main player of the Market, Turbo, Flash and Retailer’s Stores.

A brief with the history of the industry was given to flesh out the business case

First Run of the game First Failure

We were given 10 minutes to figure out the data from the company  and how to maximize the profit a lot of information was given at the same time:

 a Market report,

Market situation Blue

 an income statement

A sentiment analysis  with changing live feedback,

An explorable database,

explorable database

A decision dashboard,

We started with a market share of 11 %, our initial thought process was to differentiate ourselves and serve the market range where we were strong.

So we checked every market area and jotted down on paper

Region – Top player for the region – Household composition – Income-Age

We found out that in most of the markets we were popular with an age range from Under 35 to 44 years old, families with 3-4 components and income from under 20.000 $ to 40.000 $.

So we decided to market softness as an attribute since no one in the market was doing the same move, use liquid detergent as we thought that an innovation would be understood by the younger costumer base.

We used the innovation in the product to justify an increase in price by  1 dollar since competitors already could ask a higher price with newer formulations.We also wanted to differentiate from the cheaper powder private labels.

The real mistake that we did was using the forecast tool.

We thought that the number shown in the cell was the increase from base production. So we inputted 3 mln thinking that it was adding up that quantity to the current sales. We passed from producing 32 mln of units in 2018 to 3 mln total in 2019 !!!

The following turns to do decision lasted 10 minutes each. With so little time we were unable to detect the error we made until the last round of the game where we understood that the forecasting tool was also used to set up production.

Our other choices were influenced by the big loss in revenue on the first turn.

In 2020 we switched back our formula to powder seeing that the customer could not understand how to use the liquid formulation in the sentiment analysis and to reduce costs. In the sentiment analysis, we spotted that most of our customer did not like our old advertising so we optimized the media spending by reducing spending in Radio and Print to increase the one in Digital Advertising.

We also noticed that our product was selling more in Convenience and Club trade channels, therefore, we invested more there in 2020 and 2021.

In 2021 we saw that there was more demand than supply for pods and odor elimination features. We changed the attributes to sell more on the market and finally saw a rise in profit. 

Finally, for 2022 we understood that we were producing fewer units than we were meant to. We upped the production and went back to a market share of 11%, the same condition as the start year.

                                             (our decisions history)

 

( Despite the loss  in the first year at the end we were able to have more profitability than Fresh and Retailer stores)

What we should have done instead

Other than the mistake in the production, we should have noticed sooner the trends in the Demand. We should have shifted to odor control and pods, give more attention to data analytics and weigh less the initial company brief.

What we have learned

We need to listen more to the market and follow its dynamics. Both Social Media and quantitative data on the market are fundamental to listen to the customer.

Social feedback from the customer is useful when analyzing the most positive and negative reviews and ratings. Checking them is a good indicator of what can be fixed and what can be improved.

Quantitative data is important to spot new opportunities to sell and monitoring the market every year allow to reduce risks associated with demand shifts and adapt the quantity of product sold.

In business, companies should strive to gain near-perfect information, to increase their profits and having a competitive edge against adversaries.

 

How to open a WordPress site, Trinity Business School Teaches the basics.

Have you ever wondered how to open your own website?

Worry not, here there is a guide.

In January Trinity Business School has invited an expert in Cloud Computing and Commerce, Doctor Grace Fox. She taught the students how to open and design a WordPress site or blog. No costs involved.

Start by respecting your audience.

A blog or a website is a form of communication. We communicate effectively by being clear and concise. If you open your blog and the font are not big enough no one is going to read your post! This is especially true for older people but also for you.

Which line do you like to read the most

1.)  I am a microscopic line of content, I guess you will lose diopters in trying to read me.

2.) I am a well-written line and I can be read!

Exactly! the second one is the most compelling and readable. But what about little differences in fonts readability?

There are many ways to check how your website is readable. One of the options is to use a readability checker site such as https://www.webpagefx.com/tools/read-able/ in which you copy paste your website link or to download a plugin once you have already set up your WordPress account.

Another optimization that you can add to your blog article is to put an average time reading indicator on the top of the page. The addition of this feature is debatable because a potential reader could put off a relevant and useful article just because of a time constraint. On the other hand, it could help the audience to come back because you are not wasting their time.

Choose the site hosting and Content management system.

If you want to create a website you need to host it on a server and choose which platform you prefer to operate publish your content.

One of the most popular site hoster is SiteGround. It is good because of 2 main features: It has 24/7 technical support and your site will have a high speed that is necessary to reach your audience and avoid the abandonment of the page even before they can read your content!

As a plus SiteGround has 1-year free membership for students that is available with most of the universities.

                                   https://www.siteground.com/students

Through the admin panel you can choose which kind of content management site you want to install in your domain.

In the content management system market, WordPress is the most used.  The popularity is given by the flexibility of the platform (you can use it for a blog, a commercial site or an e-commerce site), Greater number of  free plugins provided (Plugins are programs that add functionalities to your site) and ease of use ( you do not need any HTML and CSS knowledge to start.) 

WordPress.org vs WordPress.com

Wordpress.org and .com have completely different philosophies.

The main questions are if you want to rent or own your website.

.org is dedicated to people that want to own their website. It is free and opensource, you can monetize your content and install any plugin you want but you have to build it from the ground up and you are responsible for backing up your website and update it. It is recommended if you are serious about your blogging or you want to host a commercial site.

.com is more of a blogging platform. It is free up to 3 Gigabytes of space, it has more hand-holding to modify your website, you can not choose the ads that are displayed in your website, there are limited plugins (you have to pay to unlock more), it has more services such as back up, client support. It is recommended if you do not care about money and want to test if a website is the right tool for you.

Plan your content strategy.

You need to plan the content strategy for your website.

The website name is important for being discoverable on Google in its organic search. It should be something meaningful and in line with the scope of the site and the content that you want to share (You can check name availability for your website here https://www.namechk.com/).

Define an audience and buyers personas. It is needed to understand for which person you are building your website on. You need to imagine and write down the characteristics of the ideal person you want to attract, what problem you solve for them and how they interact with your website. You can build multiple profiles if you have different types of buyers that attend to your website.

Plan the design of the website to please your audience. All your effort should be spent on a design that pleases and it is easy to understand for your public.

Lastly set deadlines and metrics to measure your efforts. You need to set clear goals ahead to reach your objectives and have fun with your website!