Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Second Question?

How many elevator speeches did you deliver in 2014?  Better yet, after you delivered your elevator speech, did you fully engage while networking?                                                                                                                              
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The true meaning of engagement as it relates to networking according to Webster’s is the act of engaging; engross, to induce to participate.  Personally, 2014 was another banner year of networking for me, both offline (conferences, travel, local events) and online (LinkedIn, Twitter).  Candidly, I retired my elevator speech unless I was asked: “What do you do?”  I probably could count on one hand the number of people that asked me that question in 2014, which brings me to the point of today’s post.  Master networkers value engagement.  Accordingly, asking questions is the trademark of a master networker.  One tool they utilize when engaging, is they always ask that second question.  Maybe even a third and fourth question.  By doing so, they end up listening and learning something special about you which enables them to circle back for future engagement.  Sometimes by asking additional questions, the master networker validates we live in a small world (a.k.a. Six Degrees of Separation). 

Will you be doing anything special over the holidays?  Do you plan to unplug over the holidays?  Do you have any special plans for New Year’s Eve?

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Fifth Gretzky

My apologies, I am a little late in awarding SMARTKETING’s fifth Gretzky award to the company or individual skating to where the puck is going.  It was close, thus I was wavering in my final decision – Mondelēz or Starbucks.  Congratulations Starbucks!
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A quick review of the previous four winners:

1.    Nestlé
2.    Yuri Milner
3.    Wang Jianlin
4.    Zaha Hadid

Why Starbucks?  It is real simple.  Despite their recent financial achievement (fourth quarter fiscal 2014 profits of $587.9 million from a net loss of $1.23 billion the fourth quarter fiscal 2013); they do not plan to settle on their current laurels.  Starbucks just announced their five-year strategic plan.  Three primary growth drivers were as follows:

·         Technology – They are ramping up their mobile ordering initiative so customers can order in advance and pick up their orders at their preferred location.  This use of technology, along with their current payment app will also open the door for utilization of iBeacon technology.  The technology I am most excited about is they are testing high-tech Duracell Powermat equipped tables.  If proven successful, in theory, consumers will just place their wireless devices on tables to recharge while enjoying a cup of coffee, some food or even when conducting a meeting.

·         New Brick & Mortar – They announced they will be entering the high-end specialty coffee market with new flagship stores complete with Reserve Roastery and Tasting Rooms.  FYI: Beacons will be utilized to drive information and traffic to their new retail concept.

·         Food – Starbucks announced they will enhance their product offerings complete with “Starbucks Evenings.”  Their goal is to double their U.S. food revenue to over $4 billion in the next five years.

Bill Gates said it best.  “Success is a lousy teacher.  It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.”  Kudos to Starbucks and its entire leadership team.  You are definitely skating to where the puck is going to be.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Holiday Unplugged

Did you dare to unplug this past Thanksgiving holiday weekend?
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Admittedly it is getting more and more difficult in today’s wired, over-connected world to unplug – a few hours, days or even for one whole week.  Some experts call it going offline, experiencing a digital detox, spiritually rebooting.  A quick Google search revealed there are some great retreats that offer an escape of this nature – Coco Blanco (an island off of Panama), the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center in Carmel California, sailing on the Maine Schooner Stephen Tabor in Penobscot Bay, etc.  All these options sound:

1.) Restful ___
2.) Exclusive ___
3.) Expensive ___
4.) All of the above ___

One budget holiday unplugged I read about recently was on Hilton Head Island.  The package now available through February being marketed by Westin is called “Unplug Hilton Head.”  In addition to checking all your electronic gizmos at the front desk, they ask for your car keys.  The resort encourages their guests to experience the South Carolina Low Country by foot or on a complimentary bicycle. 

Personally a one week digital detox complete with some Low Country bird watching and some Frogmore stew sounds very appealing right now as I close out 2014. 

I challenge you to unplug this holiday season.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Black Apps

Fact: On average people use 26.8 apps per month for a total of 30 hours and 15 minutes (Nielsen).  Black Friday is one week away.  According to data from Verizon there is a high demand for even more apps to make shopping easier – best deals, shorter lines, etc., etc., etc.
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By the numbers, last year McKinsey & Company estimated 44 percent of shoppers used a smartphone to make shopping on Black Friday easier.  Now according to new data from Verizon, more consumers want Black Friday apps.  They reported earlier this week that 80% of those surveyed want to know where to get the best deal; 78% indicated they would benefit from knowing what stores have the shortest lines.  Consequently, retailers/brands are going to have to implement dynamic pricing (real time) policies thanks to mobile’s role in influencing shoppers on the move.  Walmart, the world’s largest retailer already announced that it will match Amazon prices at all its U.S. locations (approximately 5,000 stores).   

Black apps will save you nanoseconds and $$$ next Friday!