The holiday shopping numbers have been analyzed and crunched, and the verdict is in: consumers went crazy for one big category of tech gadgets: smartphones, tablets, and eReaders. Sure, you could make a case that these are in fact rather different groups – but when you think from a consumer’s point of view, they all do essentially the same thing: hook you up with information that’s not on paper. Smartphones allow you to actually talk to a person should you desire – but ask any teenager, and text messaging and Facebook are the main communication uses for a phone. Actual talking is mostly for staying in touch with grandma and grandpa.
A just-released Pew Internet Research study
stated that the percentage of adults who own a tablet PC or e-reader nearly doubled during the 2011 holiday season
. According to the survey, 19% of adults said they owned a tablet as of January 2012, up from 10% in December.
E-reader (NOOK, Kindle, etc.) ownership figures increased by the same respective amounts. The poll also found 29% of Americans owned at least one of the devices in January, up from 18% last month
In addition to tablets and eReaders, smartphones have smashed through the 50% adoption point for many consumer segments.
According to a Nielsen Research study released in November 2011
, while only 43 percent of all US mobile phone subscribers own a smartphone, vast majority of those under the age of 44 now have smartphones.
In fact, 62 percent of mobile adults aged 25-34 report owning smartphones. And among those 18-24 and 35-44 years old the smartphone penetration rate is hovering near 54 percent
Given that these devices are no longer even remotely unusual or exotic, we’ll start seeing one simple but important issue that business owners must attend to, and this hits on one of my current pet peeves: MAKE SURE YOUR WEB SITE IS MOBILE-DEVICE-FRIENDLY!
Pull out your Android or iPhone, and see what your own Web site looks like – if it’s ugly or unreadable (like the example I show, which is the Web site of one of my favorite authors) – fix it. If you haven’t updated your Web site in several years, or only changed the content on rare occasions, odds are really quite good that it will look terrible. Think about it – when you’re searching for information from your phone, doesn’t it drive you nuts to find the Web site you want, only to find that it’s nearly impossible to read?
Generally, your mobile site does not need to provide 100% of the content available on your main site – you’re free to edit. Who we are, Contact Us, Directions… make your key information easy to find. And don’t use Flash – many devices can’t easily run Flash content. (Another pet peeve of mine – I really, really HATE flashy Flash site openings; it’s usually something that advertising agencies feel they can’t live without, but it drives me nuts.) Think of all those newly-minted tablet and smartphone users – and make sure their mobile device interaction with your brand is one that delights them. That’s the smartest way to go.
Last night, I was at our local "Retail Resort" (yes, they actually call it such; rustic design, lots of fake evergreens, and the security guards are dressed as park rangers!). This mall is in the second-highest-income zip code in Colorado, which abutts the highest-income zip code. The stores tend to the swanky, high-end brands; there's even a Tesla auto showroom.
There is also an Apple Store on the main level, and a Microsoft Store on the floor above. I'm sure I must have broken a zillion mall rules, but my cell video cam "accidentally" shot short video of both stores. I'm cutting a comparison together to post here. As a former Microsoft employee, their store just made me sad. It's so weak, so unfocused, and such a copycat attempt to cash in on Apple's deft retail touch.
Well, this was interesting! I ended up at Barnes & Noble this afternoon in search of an led light for my NOOK. I hadn't been to this store, which is one of BN's top-tier "concept" stores where they roll out new retail concepts and designs. Lo and behold, in the couple of months since I'd last stepped in the door they had totally renovated. The Music section was finally gone -- I was surprised it had lasted as long as it had; I mean, who buys CD's any more? And smack in the center of the store rose a shining new edifice; a NOOK store. A really really BIG NOOK store.
The NOOK store sells Nook books and magazine subscriptions by displaying the original printed versions. It's probably the smartest way to do this! For example, there's a new biography of Queen Elizabeth on display. It's hardbound, and it's thick; I hefted the book. Probably 2+ pounds of dead tree pulp. I thought of buying that old-school book, and the "responsibilities of ownership": Bookshelf. Storage. And ultimately, when we move to a new place -- schlepping the heavy thing from place A to place B. Nope. I LOVE my NOOK!
I did spot one book on the shelf that caught my attention, though -- because it absolutely defines what I decided to do a few months ago. The authors of Reboot Your Life: Energize Your Career & Life by Taking a Break
lead readers through the four phases of a career reboot: creating space, reconnecting, exploration, and reentry.
I have been blessed to have the wherewithal to do exactly this! I'm now at the Reentry point, and am looking forward to the next chapter. This has been the smartest thing I could possibly have done.
I'll have to see about a NOOK version of this book!
A real BITCH: Brave, Intelligent, Tenacious, Creative & Honest
TABATHA Coffey’s Tabatha Takes Over
premiers tomorrow on Bravo. This woman is in my pantheon of modern-day gods and goddesses; she is the Mars aspect of business in a female-dominated industry, and she is one tough boss. Tabatha goes into underperforming hair salons and whips them into shape, a reality TV model perfected by Gordon Ramsay with Kitchen Nightmares and other shows. She’s steelier in the salon than Gordon Ramsay in the kitchen!
Hair salons and spas have a lot in common. Although I haven't worked directly with hair salons, I was fortunate to partner with the esteemed spa industry expert, Nancy Griffin
, for a few years before she sold industry insider site SpaTrade.com
to American Spa Magazine
. Nancy has a lot of the same toughness and practicality that Coffey exhibits; one thing I adored about working with Nancy was that she was ruthlessly matter-of-fact about the foibles and follies of spa owners -- who, like hair salon owners, tend to still be more mom-and-pop operations than major chains.
The biggest point Nancy Griffin made to me, along with her colleague and friend, Peggy Wynne Borgman
(president of Wynne Business Sps Consulting, whose company provides the best Spa Director management training courses available anywhere) is that when you ask spa owners what sets their business apart from the competition, the answer is most commonly "our customer service is the best". No, it's not. You cannot use customer service as your key differentiator if (a) every competitor also claims it as what makes them better, and (b) if it's a baseline expectation of your customers! Can you imagine Sprint's CEO saying "what sets Sprint apart from other carriers is that we really do connect your phone calls" -- ???
That's why I love watching Tabitha, and Ramsay as well: they don't let small business owners give them any BS about "what makes them special" -- and they call the owners on very fundamental issues of mismanagement, like demanding basic hygiene.
Tabatha has a new book out, and I grabbed a few excerpts from her Web site -- how can you not admire this sort of honesty? Talk about knowing who you are and being comfortable in your skin!
Excerpted from http://tabathacoffey.com/book: I always made it a point to say what I needed to say in order to accomplish what I needed to accomplish. Anyone who has worked with me knows that I don’t suffer fools easily and that I won’t hesitate to speak my mind. The irony of people’s reaction to my candor is that I just say what most people want to say but don’t have the balls to say. I tell the truth.
If, along the way, I’ve been called a bitch for being honest, I haven’t taken this personally. I developed a thick skin very early in life.
So I reclaimed the word “BITCH” as someone who is Brave, Intelligent, Tenacious, Creative, and Honest. And because I am all of these things, I now proudly own the title…
Bravery—Mine is derived from being a risk taker, personally and professionally, and from always being willing to face my demons head-on.
Intelligence—I’m no idiot. Despite having left school early to pursue my career, I’m well read, well traveled, street savvy, and I’m a successful businesswoman with a strong gut instinct. What’s more, unlike many women who don’t want to appear intimidating, I never downplay my intelligence. I believe women can be both smart and beautiful.
Tenacity—If I’m really passionate about something, I never give up. I’m like a pit bull with a bone. I have always battled for what I want and what I believe in, and if I have to dig deeper for the energy to keep going, then that’s what I do to achieve my goals.
Creativity—If I didn’t have this quality, I certainly wouldn’t be writing this book! I thoroughly enjoy expressing my creativ- ity in all aspects of life, whether I’m experimenting with a new haircut, sporting a new couture outfit, or adapting to a new challenge. Creativity keeps me engaged and makes my life that much more interesting while I am coping with whatever comes my way.
Honesty—I think I’ve already covered that, haven’t I? It is the key trait that makes people perceive a woman as a bitch—it intimidates people and rubs them the wrong way. Although this reaction is often due to sexism, women are more than capable of being intimidated, too. For me, honesty is saying what I think to the people around me, but it’s also about being honest with myself. If I can’t do that, then I can’t be honest with anyone.
The more I thought about my own positive spin on the term “bitch,” the more I realized that, on some level, everyone would like to be a little braver, or exercise a little more intelligence, or be a little more creative, or tenacious or honest. The truth is, all of us, women and men, have an inner bitch. We just have to choose how much of it to let out and when.
I read an interesting article from INC. today called "Are Your Employees Destroying your Business?"
. It discusses the ways that the people we're around the most -- those we spend the most time with -- have a direct impact on our own psychology. So, if your staff or coworkers are unpleasant and difficult to get along with, guess what? YOU will begin to be the same way! Even if you started out as an upbeat, positive person -- being surrounded by Eeyores will bring you down.
Great point for businesses, and especially for smaller teams. Nowadays, unless you're working for a major corporation, you're probably at a company where the teams consist of small groups. Even at bigger companies, the typical day-to-day working group won't be huge... if "five people" are the magic attitude trigger, we need to pay close attention to the five people we spend the most time with. And reality is that for most executives, we tend to spend more time with our work colleagues than we do with our own family; so the people we hire and work with are essential to our own mental health. Interesting to ponder, isn't it?
"Don’t waste two to four hours a day on Twitter and call it lead generation. It’s the same as watching soap operas."
-- Chris Brogan
Certainly, social media matters -- but it's not the ONLY thing that matters. The biggest problem with social media is that it can be a time-waster, and your Klout score notwithstanding, it's still difficult to track and measure the impact you're having. Not impossible, but not easy, either. Most brands need the whole package: even a pure online play will need to show up at targeted events from time to time! That requires a skill set that is more than online-focused. Most brands cannot Tweet their way to the bottom line.
New Year, new quarter, new objectives – do you need to set a brainstorming meeting? One of the big challenges can be if you’re trying to include groups in multiple locations for a single session. There are many great tech tools that enable you to connect via video, online whiteboard, audio and PowerPoint – but the tools, while important, are not all you need. I’ve had to run sessions like this in different US cities as well as with offices located in different countries, and it takes more thought and preplanning to make brainstorming work effectively if you don’t have everyone in the same place, let alone taking into account any time zone or cultural differences. The book “Gamestorming” by Sunni Brown provides great ideas for the actual meeting content; but here are some other tips to keep in mind:
- Preplanning is essential – you need more structure when groups are not together
- Give each team prework to accomplish. Use the “split groups” necessity as a positive instead of a negative: give each group tasks to complete and then share with the rest of the team
- If all team members don’t know each other well, have them wear name tags. Do everything you can to familiarize the team members prior to the brainstorming
- If possible, have each group GO OFFSITE to a video conferencing room – it helps remove distractions. Video makes it a lot easier to interact.
- Make sure you have the same resources available to both teams (ie, books, notes, reports, etc.)
- Have a team leader at each location; but only one overall Moderator – Moderator should be skilled at managing this kind of meeting
- Think up icebreaking activities that can help build trust (just google “meeting icebreakers”) – but here are a bunch of ideas: http://insight.typepad.co.uk/40_icebreakers_for_small_groups.pdf
- Have a backup planned in case your online tools go down. (It DOES happen!)
- Keep the group size manageable: max of 8 – 10 at each location (4 – 6 seems ideal)
- Make attendance mandatory if at all possible. If time zones are way off (ie, meeting in San Francisco and Dublin), try to schedule two sessions: one that’s easiest for each group (since one group will get to work early, and one will stay late)
- Stick to a firm schedule (especially for breaks and start and stop times)
- Don’t let the “Main Office” group dominate the meeting
- Structure the session so there’s time at the end to summarize and clarify next steps
Good luck! this can be a fun and informative experience if you plan it well.