Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tips to Help Small Businesses Taking Advantage of Holiday Season

Holiday season is always the period of time that business can boost their sales. As a CIT executive, managing the logistic system and leveraging data are the most important issues. As a graduate student studying integrated marketing communication, I found better shipping process and high customer satisfaction will let company stand out.

Small businesses are always too busy to deal with the boosted sales in holiday season because they have limited human resources. For the reason, I recommend three tips for small business to optimize their system.

Preparing for big holiday sale

  • Integrate All Selling Channels.
    If you are selling your products through different channels, considering using a software that can manage all your orders at the same place. In such way, you can manage orders more efficiently and optimize shipping and packing process with a click.
  • Use Data to Drive Up Customer Satisfaction.
    Customer data can be used to make improvement. For example, customers will feel totally different if their name can be remembered by company.
  • Use A Thermal Label Printer.
      If you are printing labels on a laser printer, consider switching to a thermal printer.  These printers can speed up label generation and they don’t use ink. What’s more, thermal printer saves a huge amount of time compare to laser printer.

Those tips will help you win the battle of holiday season. But remember, you still need to find what fit your company most. And after that, it's time to see your sales going sky high!

Evan Cheng is an Integrated Marketing Communications student living in Chicago.  He is interested in data analytics and customer behavior.  You can reach him with questions or comments on Twitter @ck900789.

My Girl for TIME's Person of the Year 2012

You see that darling face right in the center of the image to your left? That's my girl, Malala Yousafzai! A teenager from Pakistan who stood up for her rights and faced adversity with utmost bravery. She's back, she's stronger and she is on her way to becoming a global icon. She has been nominated to be TIME's Person of the Year in 2012. A strong contender, she's holding herself in the top three spots amongst several worthy opponents- and women.

The year 2012 has been the year of women we can be proud of. From teenagers in the spotlight such as Malala Yousafzai and Olympian Gabby Douglas who charmed many with her infectious smile, to tech-giant leaders like Marissa Mayer and politicians like Hilary Clinton, the canvas is etched with faces we have grown to love and admire.

When TIME announced The Protestor as Person of the Year in 2011, it was somewhat of a pleasant surprise. Journalism honored the pain and suffering of those fighting the good fight. The cause of journalism stood strong and proud. It wasn't always so.

TIME started this tradition in an attempt to honor the 'Man of the Year' in 1927. It took them a good 72 years to realize that this sexist term was getting a bit old and the title was changed to Person of the Year in 1999. At the turn of the millenium, people realized women were people too. And, not many women have won this title yet.

It is now 'time' to change this.

Gender bias is becoming a thing of the past
According to a recent article by Danny Hayes in Washington Post titled, "Why did Women do so well in 2012? Because gender bias is declining," talks about how people finally accepted the fact that female politician are indeed just as capable and competent as their male counterparts. This year, we picked more female leaders than we ever have.

We have to help women have it all
Anne Marie-Slaughter began the conversation a few months ago when she wrote her acclaimed piece, "Why Women Still Can't Have it All."The system needs to help women achieve their goals. Her support system, her family and her employers have to recognize her intelligence and facilitate her success. People like Marissa Mayer, who got a job while she was pregnant, should have changed perceptions. Since taking on her role as CEO of Yahoo, stock prices have surged. This will set a precedent in the right direction, hopefully.

Women have to help themselves
Partly, women are to blame themselves for having remained silent for so long. They are still not making their presence known. Very few contribute to editorials, scholarly publications and have stayed away from the conversation.

No one will speak for you, if you do not speak up for yourself
Learn from a 15 year old like Malala who spoke for herself. She is from a country considered to be one of the bottom five places of the world where one could find themselves born. So am I. And, I am doing fine.

I speak for myself.

And here is your chance to do the same.

Cast your vote and pick your girl this year!

The polls are open till midnight on December 12 (EST). Out of the 40 names, see the name you want most up there and let's see whose name will win on December 14.

Saman Sheikh is a broadcast journalist with several years of experience in the media industry. She is currently a student at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. She has embarked on a journey to educate herself by pursuing a second master's degree in Media Strategy and Leadership in an effort to continue her pledge to educate the public with the power of media. Follow her @SumSheek

Photo Credit: TIME.com

Content Marketing is King

Content marketing is coming of age: 82% of marketers say that it is a top tactic, according to the recent B2B Marketing 2012 Trends Report by Curata.
It makes perfect sense.  For complex sales, B2B marketers are constantly challenged to find ways to keep in front of key contacts.  Not only do we as marketers need to stay part of the company’s consideration set when it comes time to buy our product, we need to frame our solution as one that will help solve their problems in advance.  In some cases, we even need to propose problems they weren’t aware they needed solutions to.

Said simply, marketers’ job is to “date” to give Sales the comfort level they need to “pop the question.”  And that’s the key for content marketing: BtoB magazine’s report, B2B Content Marketing: Ready for Prime Time, cites the top two reasons marketers use content marketing is that it “improves engagement with audiences” and “makes brand a trusted source.”

While it can be challenging to keep up with content once you discover how valuable content marketing can be, it’s easy to start.  Just write a short article that helps your target market in some way.   But don’t try to sell your product – that comes later.

Articles are the most used content marketing vehicle, and 79% of marketers use articles for content marketing, according to B2B Content Marketing: 2012 Benchmarks, Budgets & Trends by the Content Marketing Institute.  Articles are a good way to get your feet wet with content marketing without having to start a blog, put together a longer-format white paper or host a live webinar.  And if your article is truly relevant to your target audience, your article could “go viral” or get it published by a trade magazine or association.  

Challenged for topics?  Dig deep and think about what your clients’ needs – either to complete their day-to-day tasks or how their company as a whole can benefit.  Or, get someone in your company to help.  Your product is designed to solve a company’s problem – no doubt there’s a subject matter expert nearby that understands the market and can give valuable insight and help you to get started.  Bottom line is, make sure you give your audience something – advice, information, resources – that they want and can use.
Now get out there and create some content.  Content marketing is the hottest B2B tactic out there today.  

Ian Eccleston is a marketing director at a major financial services company.  Ian has 14 years of experience marketing for the B2B complex sale, and is a student at Northwestern's Integrated Marketing Communications masters program.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Televison Expanding To SocialTV

Television content is generating new spaces for conversation and viewership online and through social media. Broadcasters are looking for ways to provide innovative online solutions where viewers can interact and engage with their content and advertising brands. 

As a Media Strategy and Leadership graduate candidate at Northwestern University, I have been able to value how social media helps connect traditional broadcasting media with digital distribution platforms, providing rich content to the audience and improving the source of advertising revenue for all parties involved.
The latest example of this integration came on November 7th with the announcement made by NBCUniversal, the broadcaster, and American Express, the financial services group. They are joining forces with zeebox and yaptv to further develop a “SocialTV" apps for tablets and mobile devices. Through this platform, viewers will participate in gaming activities, engage in conversations about their favorite programs, and will interact as consumers with special offers and rewards for products inspired by these shows. I recently had the opportunity to listen to Christina Kerley talk to my Direct and Interactive Marketing class about the relevance mobile devices have in engaging in every aspects of people’s life, and how companies risk losing relevance if they don’t quickly align their marketing strategies with “anytime, anywhere and always-on media platforms”. 

For the first time, television broadcasters have the opportunity to instantly communicate both ways to their audiences; so far ratings provided data without sentiments. SocialTV provides the opportunity to listen and gather data that includes comments, preferences and purchasing behaviors. Thus, media companies can develop effective and efficient marketing strategies to leverage viewership growth for niche programming. The future is wide open to expand multiple ways to introduce content in current and future digital platforms. Marketers should focus their efforts in creating collaborative strategies to align content and advertising to audience’s social trends.

Miguel Huerta is a Media Strategy and Leadership Candidate at Northwestern University. He has 17 years of experience television as a news executive producer in Chile. Follow him at @miguelhuerta

Saturday, November 24, 2012

How to Hire the Best For Your Startup

No matter the niche, location, or size of your media startup, there's a horror-story-scenario that many media entrepreneurs fear - hiring the wrong person with disastrous results for your company.

As a graduate student at Northwestern University with a concentration in Media Strategy and Leadership, I recently heard from two media leaders who share this concern - Josh Albertson of Curbed.com and Jeremiah Seraphine of Groovebug. The wrong hire for a growing media company could not only stunt a growth strategy, it could cost you in sales.

So what can media startups do to ensure they hire the right people for the job? I collected some best practices from reliable sources. Here are three things you can do right now:

  1. Take your time. Most companies make hiring mistakes when they rush the search. Get along without filling the position for awhile if you have to. You'll be better off doing a little extra work now, rather than correcting a lot of work later.
  2. Maximize the resources you have. If you have a stand-out employee, ask them if they know anyone who would be a good fit for your open position. Birds of a feather flock together, so there's a good chance your fabulous employee knows a few people with the same work ethic and passion.
  3. Ask a candidate unusual and open ended questions. It can be incredibly difficult to really get to know someone during an interview. Meticulous observation can make the process efficient. Ask candidates questions he/she wasn't expecting. Maybe you ask a personal question about family, maybe it's a question about what makes him or her weird, just make sure your questions let you recognize the qualities you need. Take the interview outside of the office to shake things up a bit.

There's no surefire way to find and weed out good and bad candidates. Each plan should be catered to fit your leadership style and your company's culture. With a lot of skill and a little good fortune, you'll be on your way to building a top notch team.

Sheeka Strickland is a graduate student at Northwestern University where she is studying Media Strategy and Leadership. Sheeka came to Medill after six years as a reporter and anchor in newsrooms in Georgia and North Carolina.