Putting the cherry on the cake

“Being realistic is the most common road to mediocrity. Why would you be realistic? What\’s the point? It just puts up a barrier”

I really liked that quote by Will Smith when I read it. Always trying to be perfect is not always perfect. It puts yourself in a square which excludes creativity and often personality.

That\’s the same thing when you apply for a job for example. Usually you have your application pattern with which every application looks pretty much the same and doesn\’t really tell something about your personality. Career advisors always tell that you have to be outstanding so that personal managers will observe you between all the other applicants.

That\’s actually what a few people did lately:

A woman portrayed her Facebook addiction in order to get an internship at Daimler\’s social media department. And it worked! An other example is a guy who sent in an application photo which shows him lolling around – dressed like Pamela Anderson. Even this crazy guy got hired by an ad agency and is now employed as their creative director.

To just include an other example: If Ben Franklin wouldn\’t have “crossed the borders of the square” and wanted to enforce his crazy idea of delivering mails between colonies at night – which was inconceivable in this time – our today\’s mail system may not exist.

See, sometimes it is important to not behave like mediocrity! BUT you shouldn\’t overdo it! And you should first look at where you apply.

Frank Smith, personal marketing boss of Lufthansa, states that a lot of companies are not interested in exceptional applications. “Last year we had over 150000 applications floating in, that\’s why we have to focus on skills and don\’t have the time for more complex applications.”

Relating to this Jürgen Hesse, application trainee and author, invokes:”Determining is the special idea!”. Sure you shouldn\’t be too happy to try out crazy things applying for conservative companies. Nevertheless the whole range of possibilities should be exploited of its full potential. “What about writing the application in landscape format. That\’s different and still legitimate.” proposes Hesse.

So why not being a little creative and exceptional in this world where perfection seems to be pressuring and personality underestimated?

Keep it simple and stupid

This week I was helped to discover that my interest is in data visualization. So with this post I want to give my readers and interesting insight of the topic of data visualization. Of course not the topic as in general, but more like something that caught my interest during this week.

I tipped over a quote of Grace Dobush, who said:

“What’s the big deal? Everybody’s doing it, right? If you put [Infographic] in a blog post title, people are going to click on it, because they straight up can’t get enough of that crap. Flowcharts for determining what recipe you should make for dinner tonight! Venn diagrams for nerdy jokes! Pie charts for statistics that don’t actually make any sense! I have just one question—are you trying to make Edward Tufte cry?”

For me personally data visualization has always been a tool that enables us as humans to get an better understanding of complexity by just simply visualizing it.

So where is the problem here?

According to the “Gurdian UK” data visualization tools like “Wordle” had been designed as an academic exercise that had turned into a common way of showing word frequencies over the past years.
Furthermore, it claims that during the past years the supply of data visualization tools that were free has not been that much as it is now. And compared to what we are being offered nowadays is more “fancier” and also more diverse. As a result of this people have been tending to make data visualization look less and less nicer.

But we still want to keep on using data visualization tools. Ian Lurie is on the opinion that more people want to easily follow a story that is being told visually then being told verbally. And it is nothing wrong with that. But it is important to not get excited and overzealous about what data visualization tools offer to us.

So here are some advises for everybody they should consider when working with data visualization:

 3D

In recent times 3D animations and pictures have become more and more popular. They are associated with a high degree of fanciness and we love to use them. But we have to be careful when using them. Fanciness does not always lead to fancy story telling. 3D data visualization can create more work, because more data or information is needed, since you now have another axis that has to be filled up with the right information.

Colors and Data Visualization

Some of us might feel, the more colors the better. Well when it comes do basic data stick with a basic amount of colors. Too many colors for the certain data set will only lead to confusion and nobody wants that. Keep it simple and stupid actually fits in here perfectly.

And here I have another example:

fina destination

The information based in this picture is based on the data given at this website.

1. The term destiny is here not clearly defined.
2. The circles represent the amount of fatal accidents. Using the USA as an example this picture states a number of 2613 fatal accidents. But do we know how many flights were flying to the USA? In fact do we know how many flights were operating in general? This picture might lead to misjudgment for example thinking the USA is a dangerous place to fly to.
3. Do the dots stand for the certain city or the country itself? (see Europe)

After this week I have learnt some more on data visualization and I hope you have, too. It is always good to put yourself in the position of a listener who does not want to be shocked with a chart that contains all colors of a beautiful rainbow.

Hotels seeking for graduates

With over 72,4 million jobs within the hotel industry in 2012 the hospitality sector is the fastest growing industry in the world. Globalization and the increased importance of e-commerce, various new job opportunities and careers have emerged within the industry. This development also leads to an increased demand for graduates, which is especially interesting for us as students.

What is needed to become part of this fast-paced industry

Nevertheless, hands-on-learning is essential within this special industry, so one should always catch the opportunity for real-life experience. Several studies in the industry have shown that there are four main skills within hospitality, which are „oral and written communication skills, supervising skills (staff motivation and training), ability to engender customer satisfaction and service skills“.
Also important, and interesting for a business application group, the role of technology becomes more and more important, which leads to the conclusion that being able to handle the current technology should be one of your skills when being part of the management in a hotel.
In an interview with the New York Times Ana Silva O’Reilly (travel blogger and marketing consultant) reported on her experience in the Four Seasons Hotel in Milan. Soon after posting on Twitter that she would be checking into the hotel, she received a message from the hotel stating that they were looking forward for her arrival. “I know hotels do it all for my loyalty and my money, but it does feel welcoming when they contact me,” she said.
Being able to find new and innovative ways to delight customers is thus also an important skill.

Starbucks’ Social Side

In my whole life I have maybe only been three times to a Starbucks Coffee shop. In my opinion they  sell coffee for way too high prices. So, I never really felt the urge to buy coffee in a Starbucks as I maybe do with Hamburgers when I pass a McDonald’S or a Burger King.

But while researching a bit on corporate social responsbility I stumbled upon this company’s name frequently, hence, I got interested.

According to their website, Starbucks Coffee attaches great value to the sustainability of their products and only use raw material from certified suppliers and responsible farms.

Additionally, they also thrive to help the communities where their stores are located. Consequently, they cooperate with numerous non-profit organizations in more than 10,000 projects around the world, that I don’t want all to list here. Therefore they get support from more than 71,000 volunteers.

Noticing this I now have gained a slighly more positive view of the company, that I before just have seen as a provider of over-priced coffee.

 

Content Marketing as a stepping stone for fashionable sustainability

According to the technology trends 2013 open & big data as well as content marketing are pushing fast forward towards business efficiency. Mainly businesses with online involvement are quickly adapting these trends. Referring to eMarketer, online apparel and accessories is the fastest growing category of online sales among nine major categories. Here I see the highest need for technology adoption and new analytic utilization to prepare for upcoming trends while responding to real-time activity in this space.

So what does the power of big data means for the business of fashion?

Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier (authors of Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work and Think) insist that through loyalty cards and other methods fashion businesses are able to collect and analyze far more data about people’s interactions with fashion products. Both agree that individual preferences will become much better known, more comprehensively and in greater detail than ever before which provides valuable insights for the fashion industry. J. Jang, E. Ko, E. Chun & E. Lee, who created “A study of a Social Content Model for Sustainable Development in the Fast Fashion Industry” (I am going to explain this study later on), state that these numbers can help designers identify in which direction to go, but disagree with Schöneberger & Cukier, and making clear that human intuition will be needed precisely because data can never tell the full story & surprise and serendipity are central to human nature. But generally speaking all experts are convinced that this real-world data can build predictive models that can find patterns, establish correlations and infer probabilities with enough accuracy to help fashion businesses to identify emerging fashion trends.

L.N. Balaji (president of ITC Infotech Inc.) talks about the imagination of a clothing store where the apparel is arranged according to its popularity on social media. Better yet, imagine a design studio where customers can recommend shades, patterns and colors for apparel and even play with virtual fashion games. Schöneberger & Cukier confirm this statement by reporting that retailers and fashion giants continue to use Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms to gain ideas and suggestions from customers on everything from designs to retail preferences.

Balaji announces that technology will bring fashion crowd-sourcing to new heights!

“This real-time market intelligence is a must-have tool!”, Balaji promises and supports the arguments of Schöneberger & Cukier who point out that the customer is now an important part of the manufacturing and product line planning process by testing styles and providing valuable insights into preferences and patterns-which then can translate into products they would actually purchase to benefit the fashion industry. The predictive insights of big data are not limited to understanding customers only. Marketing and advertising will become more efficient too, experts agree.

So we can say that the fashion industry is going through a technology revolution with players becoming more open to effective data analysis for business direction; and more data-driven and flexible to take into account real-time opportunities. These new customer engagement channels are more and more used as the foundation of content marketing strategies.

In my opinion, content marketing should be used to inform and convince the customer about sustainability of their products in order to reduce increasing environmental issues and inhuman work conditions. Mainly the fast fashion businesses, or as Jang, Ko, Chung & Lee say the “MacFashion” industry, should improve their sustainability concepts, promote them and create an ethical consumption attitude in the consumers mind.

Adriana Herrera (founder & CEO of Fashioning Change) advises the possibility that fashion social content marketing can focus on environmentally friendly products, customer service, fair employment opportunities, fair allocation of profits, diversity of quality & design, and ecosystem promotion and it should be necessarily concentrated on. I totally agree with her that unfortunately the Fashion design has shifted from a focus on quality and timeless construction to mass production and consumers are turning over poorly constructed products as fast as they can.

Herrera mentions a report by the Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability which states that 8 out of 10 shoppers say they like the idea of buying non-toxic, safe, sustainable, and sweatshop free clothing and accessories but never make the leap because of the misconception that “buying green” means spending more money. By the way, her startup is a great website (Wear This, Not That ) that connects online shoppers to over 18,000 stylish, money-saving, non-toxic, sustainable, and sweatshop-free apparel and accessories which maybe can give you a feelings that “buying green” not necessarily is more expensive. Well, and this online shop is successful!

Well, I mean everybody can imagine that a sweatshirt by Primark costing 5€ cannot be made under human and environmental friendly conditions. Showing people other opportunities to change their ethical attitude a little at least plus the awareness of benefit sharing is of big interest for me. I am convinced that the fast fashion firms should concentrate on social contents which show sustainability inform and convince the consumer to improve their ethical consumption – the need is increasing.

Moving on to a great study by J. Jang, E. Ko, E. Lee and E. Chun in The Journal of Global Fashion Marketing (2012) who did a pioneer research on this  `Social content model for sustainable development in the fast fashion industry´ are emphasizing that present fast fashion brands like Zara are using social content based on consumer participation in the production and marketing stage. It is a study that develops sustainable social contents for vitalizing eco-friendly experiential marketing with the understanding of a social content model and this shows that it is possible!

First, they had in-depth interviews with 8 experts from fast fashion and ethic fashion brands on sustainable social content for fast fashion which led to 5 sub-themes they presented: independent designer participation, storytelling, an eco-friendly identity, clear differences between reform and redesign, and consumer perception change. These sub-themes, which can be applied to fast fashion brand’s requirements, emerged from existing ethical brands’ present processes. Second, they developed 5 sustainable social programs for the MacFashion industry. The detailed programs were a 1:1 sponsorship, eco-friendly design sourcing, a reform style contest, redesign consulting, and an eco-fashion gallery.

All of them suggest that a brand should follow the procedure seeking consumer agreement based on sufficient promotions for the importance of the sustainable side and development need for each program and then consumer involvement can increase naturally.

Through social content and active customer participation, fast fashion brands can establish an intimate relationship with the customer, contributing to the sustainable growth of the brand as well as lower working capital and inventory levels à All in all, for proactive fashion businesses this can lead to higher sales and an improved ROI. This statement is supported by all experts I mentioned here and in my opinion, the fashion industry as a powerful market segment that employs 1/6 of the world’s population, should consider to quickly implement content marketing to popularize fashion’s ethicality.

Salesman on stage in “How to get a job”

 

A lot of people study business or sales but when it comes to finding a job it is most often a pain in the butt and they forget about all the things they\’ve learned. But those things you\’ve learned in business school are actually so easy to transfer to “real life”… for instance when you are searching a job! That\’s why I want to share my knowledge and my research solutions with you and show you 3 main aspects you should be aware of while looking for a job!

1) Pipeline Principle

When you begin you should take the pipeline management into consideration. This refers in the business world to a cross-project management which means that you do multiple things with the same objective. To transfer it now to our job search: You should work more efficiently and save time and you do work which is similar, which has the same objective, parallel. It is like a funnel: In the beginning you need o lot of job opportunities to actually get one.

2) Sell yourself!

As a salesman you know how to sell products of any kind, you get taught to do that all the time! But why is this behavior mostly also forgotten when it comes to a job interview? What is important? You are the product which needs to be sold to the buyer who is the interviewer! What is the interviewer looking for? (e.g.: a child is rather looking for toys than for a lawnmower!) What is relevant for them and how can you best promote your skills and experiences? To find that out it might also be good to know how to do research and find useful information via internet.

3) Always a step further

When you set up a business talk or meeting or even when you just write a mail, it always has a reason behind it and already a next step in focus. One would probably ask for meetings, conferences or further collaboration. In the job world it should be the same. Why should you just send your documents without asking directly for an interview? Or when you already had an interview you could also model it like the career expert Dana Manciagli suggests:”I am eager to hear the next step in your hiring process and am more passionate than ever about the position we discussed. I want to work for you.”

I hope this little excursion has helped you a little bit or reminded you at some stuff you\’ve probably heard of .. or it may also gave you a hint to sometimes listen to teachers when they talk because it could be from time to time very useful!

How the web can change tourism

Peer-to-peer hospitality

The way that people go on vacation is said to change a lot in the coming years. Over the last years peer-to-peer booking websites gained more and more popularity. As sharing is a really hot topic at the moment, what impact does it possibly have on the hotel industry?
These peer-to-peer or even sharing platforms allow the travellers to individually book a private accommodation directly from the one who owns the residence. Mostly this is cheaper that staying in a hotel, in some cases as couch surfing for example it comes even without any costs.
These booking platforms until now rather stayed a place where backpackers that are looking for some adventure have the possibility to find a cheap place to stay and might even be able to meet some new people. For business people it is however lacking the amenities of a usual hotel, however there are more and more high end accommodations in this market. Even though these pages become more and more prominent, the total share that they occupy is still insignificantly low.

Threat for usual hotels?

Douglas Quinby, who analyzes these peer-to-peer networks as he works as a principal analyst for PhoCusWright says that “There may be some incremental leakages, but we don’t see it as being anything really substantial”. However the hospitality world agrees that one should not underrate the speed at which those developments can take place.

80,2 million, not 81,7 million

After reading the advices at C – Webwork for the 5th of July I saw Hans Roslings Tweet from the 1st of June 2013:

“Germany has 1.5 Million fewer people than reported and hence higher CO2 emission per person than reported”.

What does that mean, I asked myself shortly after I read his tweet. I clicked on the link next to it, which showed an article by the New York Times.

So after this I read some more about this topic, I saw that the claims were confirmed by several media instisutions and also the German Federal Statistical Office.

It I started to ask myself what kind of consequences this will have? Continue reading

Corporate Social Responsibility or just a Marketing Tool?!

In today’s society it seems that one of the ugliest and most despicable things one can be called by one’s opponents is a “capitalist”. Probably since Karl Marx’s “The Capital” capitalism and “the capitalist” have been having slightly negative overtones. This discredit surely arose because capitalism is widely associated with a ruthless greed for money and wealth without regard of losses.

Therefore, today many companies have incorporated and are led after a certain code of ethics that shall define a company’s social agenda and moral believes. This code of ethics is also known as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and besides social aspects often also includes matters of environmental sustainability.

Certainly, many companies – huge multi-national corporations as well as SMEs – are truly dedicated to social equality, human rights and environment-friendly business processes. And often also see the necessity to “give something back to the society” in turn for the profits they make. But undoubtedly there are also firms that use the customers’ preference for sustainable and fair companies to develop clever marketing strategies that lead customers to believe whatever the firm wants them to believe.

Underneath, you can see two promotional videos published by the Coca Cola Company showing one of the many projects the firm undertakes.

After watching, please, let me know what you think about Coke’s campaigns and similar ones by other companies, below in the comments. 

Do they really show social commitment or only try to create an image?