Monthly Archives : December 2015

Can You Answer these Tough Interview Questions from Amazon?

Forbes, BusinessInsider, Inc, and Fortune all tout Amazon as one of the best companies to work for.

So, how does the Seattle-based company weed out the winners? Using tough-minded questions like the ones listed below, that will challenge your tenacity, expertise, and even your character.

The World Wide Web Celebrates 25th Birthday, But What’s Next?

It’s that time of the year where we are looking at the technology successes and fails of the last twelve months with one eye on the future to see what advancements 2016 will bring to the table. However, in our excitement, we should also take a few moments to recognize that the world’s first website was launched 25 years ago.

The official birth of the web might have born back in 1989 as a simple concept to allow the automatic sharing of information between scientists in universities and institutes across the globe. But it was on December 20th, 1990 that British scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee performed the incredible act of launching the first website in the world via his NeXT computer at CERN.

Unfortunately, global citizens were not able to digest this early form of sharing information until August 1991, but make no mistake; this act laid the foundations for the always online and connected digital world that we often are guilty of taking for granted. The forward thinking genius also selflessly placed his World Wide Web Software into the public domain to prevent it ever being owned by one company and the rest history.

A quarter of a century later and the original web page remains, but so does a certain amount of confusion, as some users still believe the Internet is also the world wide web. However, BBC Bitesize hopes to settle the age old argument and put digital natives straight on that one by explaining:

“The Internet is a huge network of computers all connected together. The World Wide Web is a collection of webpages found on this network of computers.”

Back in September 2014, the Web Server Survey by NetCraft revealed how we had reached the milestone of 1 billion websites and by 2020 analysts also predict that there will an amazing 50 billion devices connected to the web all sharing information across the world at a phenomenal rate that is continually changing the business landscape every day.

Who would have thought that one idea had the power to transform and effect our lives in ways we never thought possible. Recently we have even seen governments overthrown and its impossible to ignore how this technology is changing politics as well as business.

The mature more readers will be quick to point out that they were busy discussing issues and even trolling users via the worldwide distributed discussion system known as Usenet years before the birth of the web. Usenet was also the precursor of the internet forums that we have come to love and hate over the years.

However, we cannot deny that that it was Sir Tim Berners-Lee ‘s idea of an uncensored world wide web that also championed privacy that resides in the public domain kickstarted our arrival in the 21st century.

Only 25 years ago, we were blissfully unaware of the kitten videos, vloggers, social media and Jimmy Kimmel videos would be dominating our entire families Christmases on the horizon. These billions of devices all allow the human race to interact, share and process information in a way that is still mindblowing when comparing to our former lives back in 1990.

So when you take a look around at your family during this holiday season and how your living room is dominated by smartphones, PC’s, tablets, smart TV’s, games consoles and how every generation of your family is accessing their information via the world wide web. Maybe it’s worth spending a few reflective moments to think about just how different our lives would be if Sir Tim Berners-Lee wasn’t so unselfish and didn’t put his idea into the public domain.

To create the future, we must understand the past and with this in mind, would you agree that technology has dramatically changed our lives for the better over the last 25 years?  After all, the idea you are reading this blog post and replying to my thoughts with your own insights should not be taken for granted. Or do you still have a few reservations about the destination that technology is taking us all to?

We are already scratching our heads at what technology trends will be big in 2016, but I ask you to think about where the internet and the world wide web path will lead us to in 2040 and what devices will we all be using? Now there is a challenge that also illustrates not only how far we have come but equally where we are heading to.

Netflix socks will keep your feet warm and your show paused

With a little engineering and some yarn, days of dozing off during a streaming binge could be a thing of the past thanks to a none other than “Netflix socks.”

Netflix has put up the design for a pair of socks you can make at home that can tell when you nod off and will promptly pause your show or movie. The socks use an accelerometer to tell when the wearer is inactive and flashes a little LED to remind them to move.

If the user remains idle, the socks send a signal to pause the program on Netflix, ensuring sleeping viewers don’t miss a thing. Accelerometers detecting sleep patterns are nothing new, with a similar method used in Fitbit fitness trackers to tell if a user is having a restless night.

Intrigued? Netflix has the necessary parts detailed online, as well as step-by-step knitting instructions for socks themed after some of its original programs, like Marvel’s Jessica Jones, House of Cards, and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

If constructing a pair of electronic socks isn’t enough of a challenge for you, Netflix has also prepared another do-it-yourself project called The Switch, a device you can build and program to dim the lights, put your phone on silent, order food, and start up some Twin Peaks with a single push of a button.

Finding Sweet Spots

In sports the sweet spot is that one special place on a baseball bat, golf club or tennis racket that drives the ball farther or faster with less effort than when it is hit any where else. In the marketing world there are campaign sweet spots too. And when your campaign idea strikes resonant emotional chords with your target consumer’s internal sweet spot then outsized profit and market share gains occur.

So how do you improve your chances of finding consumer sweet spots for your brand? Here are three ways.

1. Remember what it’s like to be a consumer. Everything you purchase is for personal reasons. Sometimes the reasons are simple and logical sometimes they are complex and more emotional. You don’t ever buy anything that doesn’t fill some kind of human need. Neither does anyone else.

Very few things that are truly revealing about people have anything to do with demographics or statistics. Most statistical techniques for describing consumers are so oversimplified and shallow that your chances of finding motivational insights are very slight. Statistics by themselves simply don’t encompass the whole picture.

When the Marlborough Man was first introduced in an ad campaign the traditional research used that tested the concept came back negative. This research advised brand management to ditch the cowboy because most Americans are not cowboys therefore they can’t relate to cowboys as an everyday part of their lives. Traditional research had the facts on consumer life but it had failed to uncover people’s fantasies and feelings. The brand manager felt the research was wrong and ran the advertising anyway. The Marlborough campaign ended up hitting a sweet spot with consumers. To many the cowboy represents that part in each of us that yearns for freedom, independence & open spaces and for a horizon to live out our dreams.

This story is an important one because it shows that the sweet spot isn’t always visible to the naked eye or detectable by conventional research tools. Sometimes the most powerful insights can be well hidden from conventional research techniques.

No matter what your job is in marketing, advertising, or product design, a true insight into your consumers will help you do your job better. Great marketing is more than merely telling people about a great new product, it means presenting your offering in a way that is relevant and resonant.

2. Remember that people look at what interests them – sometimes it’s an ad.

How would you define breakthrough advertising? There’s a problem with the noise level of advertising today. There’s a lot of clutter. The average person is exposed to thousands of marketing messages a day. Consequently, ad people worry about their ads breaking through the clutter and getting noticed. It’s an error however to assume that getting someone’s attention is under your control. Just because ads are made faster, brighter, louder, more outrageous, more intrusive doesn’t mean it will make people pay attention. Usually the reverse is true. People make an effort to tune out to aggressive and intrusive advertising. They don’t like to be communicated to this way.

The style of an advertisement has little to do with what breaking through really means.

When the consumer sees something relevant or personally meaningful in an ad – and when they also feel some kind of emotional resonance – then you’ve really broken through in your communications. Smart agencies and brand consultants look for personal truths as they approach each assignment. Breakthrough can happen as a result of discovering and speaking to personal truths that no one else is speaking to. Because advertising is receiver driven what’s most important about it is how it plays inside the consumer. You don’t persuade people. They persuade themselves. Great ads present stories in such a way that the viewer “finds themselves in the story.”

To increase your chances of understanding personal truths, put yourself in your customer’s shoes. It’s obvious that we need to really understand the person we are trying to persuade – but how often do we really act on that? Attempts at persuasion fail because we don’t know our customers as well as we should and consequently we can’t connect our goals with theirs.

“I often went fishing during the summer. Personally I am very fond of strawberries & cream, but I have found that for some strange reason fish prefer worms” – Dale Carnegie

When you go fishing therefore think about what the fish want. Although sometimes this is harder than it seems. At times we all have a tendency to distance ourselves from people unlike ourselves. We maintain that distance both physically and psychologically. Contact makes us uncomfortable. And instead of overcoming this gulf by really getting to know people, we fall back upon stereotypes and oversimplifications of what they are like. But, any gulf can be bridged if you first recognize that it exists and make an effort to study the nature of the gap so you can overcome it.

3. Remember that to better understand your consumer’s start by getting a better understanding of yourself. This is because to be good at observing and interpreting someone else’s behavior, motivations and feelings – you must first be able to honestly observe your own. To the extent that you can pay attention to the nuances in your own behavior and feelings you’ll be able to read it in others.

To gain practice in self-observation – pick up a new product and use it. Pay attention to every second of what you are doing, how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking about as you use it. Notice as much detail as you possibly can. It takes a lot of practice in reading yourself in this way to get really good at reading other people.

Remember that insightful marketing requires as much sensitive observation as it does science and statistics. Insights are seldom arrived at in a linear, objective fashion. As in the Marlborough Man example discovery of a sweet spot can often come from a shrewd guess, a fertile hypothesis or a courageous leap to a tentative conclusion. Additional insights for reading consumers can be found inside Soulful Branding by Jerome Conlon, Moses Ma and Langdon Morris.

Tim Peake lifts off for the International Space Station at 11am GMT

UK astronaut Tim Peake is due to set off for the International Space Station (ISS) at 11am GMT from NASA’s Kennedy Centre’s Cape Canaveral launch pad.

The European Space Agency astronaut joins Tim Kopra of NASA and Yuri Malenchenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency aboard the Soyuz rocket.

He becomes the first state-funded official UK astronaut – with previous Brits either privately funded or adopting a different nationality.

He has already been active on social media, and posted his final Tweet before launch.

This will begin Expedition 46’s six month rotation in the space station that famously broke YouTube records when it was featured in a music video of David Bowie’s Space Oddity, by NASA astronaut and Commander of the station at the time, Chris Hadfield in 2013.

You can watch the launch live via the Nasa TV website from 10:45am GMT.