If you go online looking for definitions of the word marketing you find things like this:Marketing is the science of choosing target markets through market analysis and market segmentation, as well as understanding consumer buying behaviour and providing superior customer valueThe management process through which goods and services move from concept to the customer The action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising All of which sounds impressive… science, process, business. It’s something of a pity, then, that marketing has often regarded as a bit nebulous, inexact and even fluffy. For those people leading marketing departments and running marketing campaigns in 2013, there has never been a better time to kick the fluffy bunny right in the tail and start reconfiguring the way you operate. And the key to this is data. Data is everywhere and is now more discoverable than ever before. If you work in marketing you will already be familiar with data – from website traffic analytics, to click-rates on your e-shots, and so on. But by joining up the dots between the many data points around you, you can start to build a better picture of customer behaviour and attitudes. Finding that data, and getting hands-on with it, isn’t as hard as some people might suspect. We have produced a discussion paper called "Travels with my Data: Explore & Exploit" which looks at the many data sources available to marketing people, including: Sales ordersSeasonal variations in past business performanceCustomers’ comments given to complaints handlersSocial media trends and hot topics It also gives you some suggestions on what to do with the data you unearth, so that you can extract as much value from it as possible. If you are an old-school gut-feel kind of marketing person, this data-driven world might seem worrying. But no one is saying there’s no room for instinct and creativity. Far from it. Basing your judgements on the best data available to you can only help your cause – the same must be said for measuring your successes. The more you discover, the more you learn, and the better informed your decisions will be. This can become a virtuous circle of improvement and better understanding. But you don’t need to take on more than you can comfortably cope with; if all you do is get better value out of just one data source, you will be making headway.To download your copy of "Travels With My Data: Explore & Exploit” please click here.
For many businesses today, developing deeper insights into customers, markets or their own business is a key way of staying ahead of the competition. Here we'll be looking in depth at some of the key issues of the day, from big data to real time analytics.
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How do you move from simply using social media as a tool, to using it to accelerate and differentiate your business? We'll be looking at how and why businesses are transforming themselves, inside and out, to become truly social businesses.
You don’t need to tell anyone working in HR about the skills shortage in the UK economy; finding bright, articulate people with a mix of business acumen, intellectual curiosity and drive, has probably never been harder. According to a 2012 survey by Manpower Group, talent shortages are cited by businesses as the most common reason for difficulties in filling vacancies. Of course, once you find them, hanging on to them presents its own series of challenges too. After all, why go to all that trouble of finding the brightest and best employees if you can’t retain them, while trying to motivate them to become your most productive and valuable assets? So what is the secret sauce, the magic ingredient that will make your organisation somewhere that the great and the good will want to work, and where they will feel connected, engaged and flourish to be become a top performer, Like most complex problems there’s no quick and easy answer but focusing on the business of employee engagement through social ways of working can start to cast some light on things you can do to become that sort of organisation that meets this challenge. In our HR-focussed discussion paper “How social working practices can improve employee engagement and effectiveness” we look at how technology, attitude and engagement could make a significant difference in your business.Meeting and exceeding the expections of tomorrow’s workforce means understanding the needs of today’s prospective employees. Increasingly these digitally native, always connected, sharing individuals (so-called Millennials) have significantly different attitudes to work patterns, brand attachment and employer commitment than previous workers. Out with the dedication to working 9-to-5 and the career-ladder hierarchy mentality of the Baby Boomer generation. Millennials want flexible work schedules, mentoring not managing, to become ‘a part of something’ and maybe even some “me time” while at work. They want to be guided, not micro-managed and expect to interact with business applications and productivity platforms as they do with consumer services – at the coffee machine, on their smartphone, sharing experiences with their network. They want to feel like they are involved, part of something that matters, not a cog in the mechanism; social networking has given them a voice with which to communicate the brands and companies that meet these needs and those that don’t.Recognising these needs and this new profile of talent, overlaying your organisation's strategic objectives, mapping how best to leverage these new, engaged employees to unlock the maximum potential, is one of the biggest challenges facing today’s hirers and talent managers. In our latest thought paper, we focus on social ways of working to build employee engagement, exploring ideas such as new starter online communities, culture-building for idea generation and innovation, and employee sentiment analytics.To download the paper, where these and other themes are explored in more detail, please click here.
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Whether it's connecting with customers or enabling employees, its difficult to underestimate the impact that mobile devices are having on businesses today. Explore our mobile content for our thoughts about the future of mobile and business.
The current generation of students, and prospective students, has grown up with technology and they consume information in a different way to previous generations.You can bemoan it as much as you like, but these young people expect to be able to use technology – usually their phone – to navigate their way through everyday life. Putting that instinctive reliance on mobile technology to good use is something smart organisations are beginning to realise will help them reach out to this audience.That’s been our experience working closely with Highbury College, to develop an app called iProspectus, which runs on Android and Apple iOS devices.You won’t need to have won University Challenge to guess from the name what it does. But iProspectus is a lot more than a digital prospectus. iProspectus enables prospective students to browse all the information in your current prospectus via their smartphone – so far that’s probably what you were expecting to hear – and then it allows them to apply for the courses they are interested in. Maybe you weren’t expecting that bit.But that’s not all – in the future it will allow students not only to complete their entire application and enrolment process on their phone but to send payment for tuition fees too.iProspectus was built with Highbury College in mind. But could work in any number of similar institutions. It is seamlessly and securely connected to the college’s student records system (in Highbury’s case this is Tribal EBS4) via a number of web services. A SQL database drives a high level view of course information, which is then stored locally on the student’s smartphone by a local SQL database. That means the student can browse through the course material faster.Courses can be searched for by name, keyword or even reference code, and can be saved to a favourites list, or even shared via email to friends, family or colleagues.One of the other things we’ve tried to build into iProspectus is the ability to give prospective students a flavour of what college life is like. Highbury College has news and information on events available within the app, as well as details of locations, maps showing satellite images, an image gallery, plus links to the Facebook page and Twitter stream. All of this content is served within the app itself and doesn’t open a separate browser to view.For students, the appeal of an app like iProspectus is not hard to see… it’s quick, convenient, and fits around them. For colleges, the benefits are just as appealing. iProspectus will make student interactions easier to manage, will help reduce the cost of brochure print, distribution and administration, and offer a very fast return on investment. We were really pleased to be able to work on this project with Highbury College, who have been a fantastically positive and engaged customer. We’d also be really pleased if we might be able to help you with something similar.So why not drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org? We’d love to hear from you.