Amid position shake-ups, Bengals release 8-year veteran linebacker Rey Maualuga

first_imgCINCINNATI >> The Bengals have released eight-year veteran linebacker Rey Maualuga, saying they were moving to a younger group at the position.Saturday’s move comes five days after they signed free-agent linebacker Kevin Minter to a one-year deal, an indication they were going in a different direction.Maualuga was Cincinnati’s second-round pick in 2009. He has played in 114 games, starting 104 of them. Maualuga and Andy Dalton were named team captains in 2012.Second-year linebacker Nick …last_img read more

Media Forum debates Brand South Africa

first_imgFrom left, Kim Norgaard, Africa bureau chief, CNN; Celia Dugger, Africa correspondent, The New York Times; Ian MacDonald, editor, South Africa: The Good News. Delegates exploring the MediaClub stand. Professor Anton Harber speaking at the conference.Khanyi MagubaneThe strongest identity a country has is its brand, the way it portrays itself to the world and, in turn, the way the world perceives it. And at the second International Media Forum South Africa (IMFSA), held in Johannesburg on 21 and 22 May, government, business and the media, both local and international, came together to unpack Brand South Africa.The mission of the IMFSA is to improve international media relations, mostly for the economic development of South Africa, but also for the continent as a whole.This year’s event saw a swarm of journalists, media relations officers as well as senior government communication officials thrash out issues including the seemingly deteriorating relationship between media and the government, the international coverage of South Africa, the appeal of South Africa to the international business community, and South Africa’s readiness to host the 2010 Fifa World Cup.Speakers at the conference included Themba Maseko, Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) head, John Chiahemen, editor of Reuters Africa website, Kim Norgaard, bureau chief for CNN, Andrew Simmons, the Africa editor, for Al Jazeera and Chip Cummins, Africa bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal.Opening the conference this year was Dr Essop Pahad, minister in the president’s office. In welcoming the delegates he spoke of the critical role the media has in shaping the national agenda. “The media are not neutral purveyors of news and voyeurs of facts. They are political actors and political agenda setters in their own right and through the social construction of news,” he said.“Through a set of values which they secrete … they decide what is important for readers to think about, they in effect structure the thinking of readers.”He stressed the importance of cherishing and protecting the freedom of the media but in the same breath also urged delegates to be vigilant about any transgressions on the rights of others by what he termed “the guardian of the public interest”.Free access to South African stories and imagesMediaClubSouthAfrica, a web-based media service which offers journalists and other communication practitioners free access to content about the country and its development, was officially launched on the first day of the conference.Brand South Africa (formerly known as the International Marketing Council), co-hosts of the IMFSA, are the custodians of MediaClub, which includes a comprehensive image library.Talking about the venture, Brand South Africa’s Tyrone Seale said, “MediaClubSouthAfrica.com will provide relevant, mind-opening, up-to-date and verifiable information in the build-up to 2010. We took this step because we recognise the importance of media – local, African and throughout the world – in shaping perceptions of South Africa and our continent.”Also on the first day of the conference, a number of leading journalists from around the world spoke about their experiences in covering South Africa.Caroline Lambert, the Africa correspondent for The Economist, spoke of the frustrations that journalists, in particular foreign journalists, were experiencing in dealing with government communicators. The shortcomings were acknowledged by GCIS, which made a commitment to deal with the frustrations of the journalists.International media coverageLambert’s address was then followed by a panel discussion entitled “The big debate”. Chaired by Professor Anton Harber of the University of Witwatersrand’s Department of Journalism and Media Studies, the discussion sought to understand different points of view in terms of international media coverage of South Africa in relation to countries with similar economies.CNN’s Kim Norgaard made the point that while there may be a perception that the international media is only interested in reporting the negative stories coming out of South Africa and the rest of the continent, this was not entirely the case. As a news agency they had the responsibility to cover current affairs, which may be seen as “negative” reporting. This, however, was coupled with the positive human-interest stories too.He said that CNN’s audience had become a global one and that Africa was no longer the poor cousin of the world. The news channel had a responsibility to its African viewers to balance the reporting and angles used on the different stories.To give a more South African perspective to the debate, Ian MacDonald, editor of South Africa: The Good News, said that in his view international media do more harm than good in their reporting on the country.He pointed out that his online publication was committed to writing the good news, not because it was turning a blind eye to the challenges faced by the country, but because there was a critical shortage of good news coming out of South Africa. He said the international media had to do more to give a balanced picture of what was happening in the country.While many speakers said that the current xenophobic attacks taking place in certain parts of the country have deeply hurt South Africa’s image abroad and might also hinder tourism as well scare away investors, some speakers were positive that all is not lost.Business community interest in AfricaChip Cummings, Africa bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal, spoke of the big role South Africa plays in the economic development of the continent. The mining industry is especially of interest to the “A list” international business community. He said that businessmen across the globe are constantly looking for new investment opportunities and in many ways look to South Africa as the continent’s business leader.Cummings spoke of the responsibility of business reporters to always report on the fresh and exciting news coming out Africa. “Nothing gets a business reporter’s heart racing more than news of a big [business] deal. Especially if it’s a big African deal,” he said.Ayanda Ramncwana, a government spokesperson, prompted heated debate among the delegates when she said, “We need to separate Brand South Africa from the South African government.”She spoke of separating the need to report accurate news and the need to promote a Brand South Africa. Some of the delegates were of the view that there needed to be synergy between the two, while others contested that they should remain separate entities and that organisations like the IMC should not be “putting out” government fires.The second day of the conference saw the level of debate taken a notch higher. ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe opened the session with an address entitled, “How do you communicate what the country has to offer in order to improve international confidence and media coverage?”In his address, Motlanthe spoke of the media holding the key position of information dissemination, which can be used as an instrument of empowerment, development and progress. He said that the government was committed to protecting media freedom, but that in turn the media had a responsibility to represent every sector of society. “We seek a media environment that is rich and vibrant, and which represents the diversity of languages, interests, experiences and political perspectives that exist in our society,” he said.“We want to ensure that those South Africans whose views and interests have not been adequately represented in the media now have an opportunity for their voices to be heard.”Ready for the 2010 World CupThe issue of South Africa’s state of readiness in adherence to Fifa’s requirements for the World Cup came under scrutiny. Tim Modise, the chief media and communications officer for the 2010 Local Organising Committee, and BSA’s acting CEO Moeketsi Mosola were some of the panellists who took part in this debate.Modise gave the assurance that preparations were still going according to schedule and that in fact South Africa would be ready ahead of the time stipulated by Fifa. From a branding perspective, Mosola also gave the assurance that South Africa was well-placed in terms of its positioning ahead of the event.Modise also dispelled the myth that Fifa was snatching the World Cup away from South Africa and handing it over to Australia, as hinted at in some media reports.Journalists posed some tough questions about access to information about the LOC programmes ahead of the event, as it seemed that reaching the LOC was difficult at times. Modise acknowledged that more needed to be done to keep journalists informed about World Cup developments in a bid to end speculative reporting which contributed to fears that South Africa will not be ready to host the event.In wrapping up the two-day event, Prof Harber spoke of the recommendations made at the last IMFSA in 2006, and said he felt confident that the direction the debates had taken had yielded the desired effect of opening up debate and communication around the branding of the country, government-press relations and reporting news accurately about South Africa without forgetting the good news.He also urged those in attendance to “stop stereotyping global media in the same way that we want them to stop stereotyping us”.Useful linksInternational Media ForumBrand South AfricaSouthAfrica.infoBrand South Africa BlogGovernment Communication and Information Systemlast_img read more

South Africa’s expanding global influence

first_imgSouth Africa has gone from being an international pariah, shunned because of its apartheid policies, to being an influential player in world affairs.The country has served on the United Nations Security Council for a two-year non-permanent term, become a member of influential emerging economy blocs BRICS and Ibsa (the India, Brazil, South Africa Dialogue Forum), and is still the only African country on the G20. (Image: Mathiba Molefe)Brand South Africa Reporter In the space of just two decades, South Africa has gone from being a international pariah, shunned because of its apartheid policies, to being an influential player in world affairs and a powerful advocate for global political and economic reform.This is according to the government’s 20 Year Review, a report reflecting on South Africa’s progress in reconstruction and development since 1994, and on the challenges facing the country as it enters its third decade of democracy.The report, released by President Jacob Zuma in Pretoria on Tuesday, notes that South Africa has sought to improve north-south relations while pushing for reform of the global economy and global governance, better market access for developing countries, more favourable terms for debt relief, and new forms of partnership for development.Growth in missions at home, abroad“South Africa’s reintegration into the global community has seen its diplomatic, political and economic relations expand rapidly to include countries with which it previously had no relations,” the report states.By 2012, the number of foreign diplomatic missions and international organisations in South Africa had increased to 315 – the second-largest number of diplomatic offices accredited to any country after the US.Over the same period, South Africa’s missions abroad increased from 36 to 125, with the increasing importance of Africa in South Africa’s foreign policy reflected in the growth of South African diplomatic missions in Africa, from 17 in 1994 to the current 47.Pushing for peace, global reformThe country has served on the United Nations Security Council for a two-year non-permanent term, become a member of influential emerging economy blocs BRICS and Ibsa (the India, Brazil, South Africa Dialogue Forum), and is still the only African country on the G20.To promote the interests of developing countries, South Africa has pushed for a rules-bound international political and economic order, and sought to transform north-south relations through dialogue while consolidating south-south collaboration by participation in groupings like the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad).South Africa also works with other African states and multilateral organisations like the UN, African Union (AU) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) to promote international respect for human rights, democracy and good governance.It has helped Madagascar, Zimbabwe and South Sudan resolve their problems and assisted with peacekeeping in Ethiopia/Eritrea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Burundi, among others.The country has also hosted numberous major international conferences and events since 1994, including the Non-Aligned Movement Summit (1998), Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (1999), UN Aids Conference (2000), UN World Conference Against Racism (2001), World Summit on Sustainable Development (2002), and the UN Climate Change Conference (COP17) which delivered the landmark Durban Platform that rescued the Kyoto Protocol in November/December 2011.The democratic South Africa has prioritised the development of political and economic relations with African countries. Since 1994, it has signed 624 agreements and established 40 bilateral mechanisms with countries on the continent. The 20 Year Review does note, however, that there have been challenges with the implementation of some of these agreements.Expanding, shifting trade relationsSouth Africa’s export markets have changed considerably over the past 20 years, with new markets emerging at the same time as the country’s share of exports to some traditional markets, such as the United Kingdom, Japan and Europe, has declined.According to the report, China has emerged as South Africa’s most important export trading partner since 2009, with its share of non-gold merchandise exports measuring 12.9 percent in 2012 compared with 0.8 percent in 1994.India is now South Africa’s fifth-largest export destination, having overtaken both the United Kingdom and Switzerland, and African countries have also become increasingly important export markets, especially for manufactured goods.“Exports to the entire African continent increased from 10 percent in 1994 to 17.6 percent in 2012,” the Review states. “SADC countries claimed most of these exports, accounting for 12.9 percent of overall exports in 2012, up from 8.3 percent in 1994. Africa accounts for around a third of South Africa’s exports of more advanced manufactures.”South Africa has also benefited substantially from the United States’ African Growth and Opportunity Act of 2000 (Agoa). Bilateral trade between South Africa and the US grew from R15.9-billion in 1994 to more than R129-billion in 2013, with the trade balance in South Africa’s favour.Between 1994 and 2013, South Africa’s fiscal and macro-economic policies helped to boost trade between South Africa and European countries, while stimulating foreign direct investment (FDI) and tourism.From 1994 inward, FDI stock increased significantly as South Africa experienced a continuous upward trajectory, from R44.7-billion to R1.38-trillion in 2012 in nominal terms. Over the same period, exports in goods and services increased from R106-billion to R892-billion (in nominal terms).Looking to the futureLooking forward, the report says South Africa’’s foreign policy should continue to be shaped by the interplay between prevailing diplomatic, political, security, environmental, economic and regional factors.“It should remain cognisant of global power shifts, the stratification of regional groupings, threats to human and state security, internal and external sovereignty and natural resources, and the need to promote South Africa’s national interests.”The report notes that regional and continental integration are important for both for Africa’s socio-economic development and political unity and for South Africa’s prosperity and security.“The country will strengthen its support for regional and continental institutions that work towards achieving peace and resolving security crises, and it will take further steps to strengthen regional integration, promote intra-African trade and champion sustainable development on the continent.”The review states that cooperation between state institutions that deal with international relations policy and cross-border issues should also be strengthened.“Closer collaboration and partnerships between government, business, civil society and labour must be pursued to ensure that the country operates holistically in the competitive and unpredictable international arena.”Source: SAnews.gov.zaWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa materiallast_img read more

You Have the Watches. We Have the Time.

first_imgIn Afghanistan, the locals have a saying about their strategy with soldiers from other countries. The saying is: “You have the watches, but we have the time.” The idea here is that at some point the foreign soldiers are going to leave and go home, and that they locals aren’t going anywhere. The strategy is to wait out the foreigners and, over time, it works.Giving Up Too SoonWhen a salesperson asks when it is time to give up on a prospective client, or their dream client, it’s because they are discouraged, lack patience, and underestimate the power in a strategy built on a professional persistence. The fact that it is difficult to gain a meeting with your dream client—and even more difficult to displace your competitor—shouldn’t discourage one from pursuing those clients. Instead, it should encourage them, as the kind of loyalty the prospective client has for their existing supplier is a tremendous benefit later, when you have won their business.Time will pass whether you call on your dream client or not. You will still be prospecting, working to gain meetings, create new opportunities, and win the opportunities you create. You will still be doing the work that salespeople do regardless of whether you pursue the cold targets that are better than warm leads, even if they are difficult to acquire.Because this is true, there is no reason to give up. There is no benefit that accrues to you for abandoning the pursuit of what you want. Giving up only ensures that you never have what you want because you quit too soon.Trading Watches for TimeIn sales, you are better believing your dream client has the watch and you have the time, rather than its opposite. If you are not getting any traction, you are receiving feedback. That feedback may be that you are not offering enough value in trade for their time and attention. It may also mean your timing is bad, and that you might do better to try again later.Given a long enough timeline, every one of your dream clients is going to change their strategic partner. The choice you have to make is whether you are going to persist long enough to be that partner.last_img read more

Two orphaned tiger cubs die of viral infection

first_imgTwo orphaned tiger cubs died of a viral infection at Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh, a forest official said today.One of the cubs died at around midnight yesterday and the other succumbed this morning, Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve’s field director Mridul Pathak said.Both the cubs were four months’ old.They were among the three cubs found on January 22 this year at Sarwahi village on the periphery of the Sanjay Gandhi Tiger Reserve in the state.The poachers had killed the mother of the cubs.Later, the three cubs were shifted to Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve to be put in foster care, he said.“We tried our best to save the cubs who were infected with parvovirus. This virus generally infects dogs, but it infected the cubs here. The doctors from Panna and Jabalpur were called and proper medicines were also administered to the felines but they could not be saved,” Pathak said.The third cub also has the infection and a team of doctors is trying to save the feline, he added.last_img read more

Ind vs SA: Tendulkar’s ton goes in vain as India lose by three wickets

first_imgSachin Tendulkar scored his sixth World Cup century, but India ended on the losing side. South Africa chased down 297 with three wickets and two balls to spare during their World Cup Group B match at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Ground in Nagpur on Saturday. Score | Photos | Video The match went down to the wire with South Africa needing 13 runs in the last over with Robin Peterson and Faf du Plessis at the crease.The first ball was swept for four by Robin Peterson off Ashish Nehra even as skipper MS Dhoni scrambled behind the stumps.The second took the aerial route off Peterson’s bat and ended up past the fence with a six on board. In came a Yorker that was sent for a couple and finally a four by Peterson saw South Africa put 300/7 on board.This despite the fact that paceman Zaheer Khan scalped South Africa skipper Graeme Smith in the 9th over of the innings. Smith wanted to play a big won but ended up giving an easy catch to Sachin Tendulkar at mid-off. He fell to 16 and South Africa fell to 41/1.Post Smith’s wicket, Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis batted on to frustrate the India bowlers. Their partnership helped South Africa cross 100-run mark. Clearly the two didn’t want to give India any room.Amla even got a life when Yuvraj Singh dropped him off Harbhajan Singh at mid-wicket. Luckily for Harbhajan Singh Amla fell in his next over. He was deceived by Harbhajan’s Shing’s extra bounce that took the edge of his bat to bat in skipper M.S. Dhoni’s gloves behind the stumps. He scored 61 and South Africa at the stage was 127/2 in 28 overs.advertisementSoon Kallis and AB de Villiers got on with another partnership. But, the two had put 46 runs together on board that Kallis got run out in Zaheer Khan’s over. Skipper MS Dhoni collected the ball from Harbhajan Singh and removed the bails even as TV replays showed that he was clearly short. Kallis fell for 69 and South Africa fell to 173/3.It seemed that partnerships had become the norm for the day with every batsman aiming for that. And AB de Villiers and J.P. Duminy too aimed for that. He two put on 50 runs for the fourth wicket. But, just when de Villiers was beginning to look dangerous Harbhajan Singh got the better of him. De Villiers wanted the ball to cross the boundary, but it ended up getting lodged in the safe hands of Virat Kohli in the deep for 52. And South Africa lost their fourth wicket at the score of 223 in the 41st over.India offie Harbhajan Singh was gradually getting in the groove. He had already calimed two wickets and added another one to his tally by claiming Duminy in the 43rd over. Skipper Dhoni performed the final rites by stumping him on 23. South Africa were 238/5 at the stage.The pacers too displayed their ware. And it was Munaf Patel, who got the opportunity to do that by trapping Morne van Wyk leg-before on 5 and reduce the Proteas to 274/6 on the last ball of the 44th over.But Harbhajan got to keep the accolades to himself. Just when Johan Botha was charging away at his balls scoring a four and six off his bowling in the 48th over, a short fell short of the boundary and Suresh Raina came under it and soon Botha was walking back on 23. South Africa were 279/7 at the stage.Finally, Robin Peterson and Faf du Plessis helped their team home without loosing another wicket. And South Africa won by three wickets.India inningsEarlier, Sachin Tendulkar scored a ton, but post his dismissal India batting line-up folded within a span of 36 runs as South African paceman Dale Steyn claimed five wickets to restrict India to 296 all out.Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag charged down at the South African bowlers from the word go after India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss. The two helped India cross 100-run mark and in the process completed their half-centuries.But, there was more to come as clearly the two were enjoying their stay in the middle and scoring at a brisk rate. The do put on 142 runs for the first wicket before Sehwag fell. He scored an impressive 73 off just 66 balls hitting 12 fours on the way.In the 18th over a Faf du Plessis’ ball finally broke their partnership. Sehwag wanted to cut Faf for a boundary but the ball didn’t have enough turn and a thin edge got carried towards his stumps. Finally there was uproar in the South African camp.advertisementPost Sehwag’s dismissal, Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir got on with another partnership. Tendulkar went on to complete his 48th ODI ton, which is also his 99th international century. This was his sixth World Cup century – the highest by any batsman.After posting his century Tendulkar too walked back with his head held high. He scored 111 off just 101 balls hitting eight fours and three sixes on the way. First he completed a 142 runs partnership with Sehwag by his side and then went on score 125 runs for the second wicket with Gautam Gambhir, before falling to Morne Morkel.He was on charge and went for a big hit off Morkel in the 40th over, but ended up hooling a catch at point to J.P. Duminy. India were 267/2 at the stage.Post his wicket, the South African bowlers pressed further and claimed two quick wickets in the form of Gautam Gambhir and Yusuf Pathan. Dale Steyn had them both in the 41st over of the innings.But that wasn’t the end of the tale as soon South African pacers got busy counting scalps. It seemed as if they were just waiting for Sachin Tendulkar to complete his ton before tightening the noose. For when the Master Blaster was at the crease it seemed that India would go on to post a 320-plus figure, but post his dismissal India’s fortunes took a U-turn.After Styen scalped Gambhir and Pathan. He got on with more devastation claiming Harbhajan Singh and Ashish Nehra and Munaf Patel to finish off with a five wicket haul.And as things would have it India could not even cross the 300-run mark and were all out for 296. Skipper Mahendra Singh remained unbeaten on 12.last_img read more

We saw the ugly side of cricket: Mahendra Singh Dhoni

first_imgFrustrated after rain interruptions forced a tie in the fourth ODI against England, Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said the “ugly side of cricket” came to fore in the match as the side which had the upperhand “didn’t want to play.”Sunday’s tie gave England the five-match series after the first game was washed out and the hosts won the next two.India had set England a formidable target of 281 in Sunday’s match before rain interruptions forced a tie with the hosts at the Duckworth-Lewis par score of 270 for eight.”We just saw the ugly side of cricket. Whichever team has the upper hand, doesn’t want to play. Whichever team is not on winning side, will stick around and even play football. That’s what people do and that’s what both sides did,” Dhoni said after the match.There were as many as three interruptions – first when England were up and second when the Indians were ahead on the Duckworth-Lewis rule. The intervening showers did cease 10 minutes after the proceedings were ended but the rules didn’t permit the game to be played under lights.”If you have a day game, you need different guidelines and principles to follow. If you put it under lights, it doesn’t look nice,” he said.Dhoni said some of the Indian players were confused about the result. “Some of the guys were confused. Some thought we had won it. Most of us thought it was a passing shower and we would be able to get back on the field,” said Dhoni.advertisement”Once inside the dressing room, we saw the final sheet of paper. After looking at it, it was apparent it was a tie and none of the side had won the game,” he added.Expressing his frustration with the interruptions, which robbed his side of a win in the series, Dhoni said, “This is not the first time. We were close to winning the first game also. But as I said, you can’t control the weather.”Dhoni’s batting was quite refreshing as was the knock of Suresh Raina who top-scored with 84 runs.”We got off to a good start. Openers did well. When I came in, we wanted to make sure we play a number of overs. We didn’t have a target in mind. We wanted to try and rotate the strike. Not to play shots which were risky and get closer to the 40-over mark. In the last 10 overs, we were able to get 110 runs which really made a difference.”For the second game running, India did well in batting powerplay. In the last game at the Oval, they made 51 runs from five overs and here at the Lord’s, they plundered 58.”It has been good in the last two games. It’s important not to look for 60 runs in five overs. You look at 40 runs as a benchmark. If you have explosive power, the last three overs can really make a difference. You can even get 50 runs. But it’s important not to aim too high,” Dhoni said. .There was a feeling that with so much on his plate, Dhoni was better off in giving the keeping responsibility to Parthiv Patel.”I am not a very good fielder. I love fielding on the boundary. But you can’t lead the side from there. So that option (of letting Patel keep) is not there right now.”Dhoni said it would be India’s aim to win the final game at Cardiff on Friday.”Every game is important. Every game is an international game. It’s important to get the most out of it. It wouldn’t be bad to get a victory finally in the whole of series.”England will be visiting India in October and after the encouraging show by a few youngsters, speculation is rife about the seniors retaining their spots.”Quite a few players would be fit by then. We then may not have a very good fielding side. But then grounds in India are small and there is not much opportunity for batters to take singles or twos. You have to see which all players are available. It becomes difficult when senior players are available. It’s tough for the youngsters but (this tour) has been a good grooming period for them. When the time comes, they could be around for 5-10 years.”last_img read more

Foolproof Formulas to Turn a Cluttered Twitter Stream Into Real Business

first_imgIn one second on the internet, there are more than 6,000 tweets.Take a breath.There are now 12,000 tweets. Blink again. 18,000 tweets. Amid all of these tweets are a flurry of opportunities missed by the average marketer.But then … who said anything about being average? Odds are you recognize the potential that each of these social interactions have to advance your business and solve customer problems. The challenge is finding them and converting them into real business relationships. How you handle a given tweet will depend a lot on the person on the other end of it — who they are and where they are in their decision process. Here are a few tried and true examples to help you make the most of your interactions on Twitter.Turn a Follower Into a LeadOne of our customers, Yale Appliance and Lighting (@MyYale), is a good example of a company that just “gets it.” They use social media in a way that’s helpful, not disruptive — but they also understand how being useful can guide someone to the next stage in their decision process.In the example below, Yale Appliances is helping a Twitter user decide between GE and Electrolux ranges. They found this prospective customer by setting up a Twitter search for broken ovens. They were then alerted to a tweet from someone in need for some oven advice. Yale replied by directing the ovenless tweeter to an article on the subject which weighed the differences between the two brands. She downloaded it and instantly moved from a casual social media follower to a lead. Because they were using HubSpot’s Social Inbox, that lead information was infused directly into their view of the conversation — which you can see below under “Lifecycle Stage.”Recipe for This Conversion Opportunity:Set up a Twitter search for a relevant keyword. Setting up a keyword search is straightforward, but it takes some thought and nuance to choose the right keywords. Think of the phrases people use when they’re looking for advice: “Comparison,” “versus,” “help,” “advice,” “recommendations,” and so forth. As you find relevant tweets, use those to narrow down your search terms.Set up an alert to email or notify you when someone uses your combination of keywords. You’ll probably need a social media app like HubSpot or Hootsuite to do this. Setting up alerts will help you monitor twitter without having to be tied to your Twitter streams. You can choose to get an email or push notification whenever someone new meets your search criteria. Direct the help-seeker to a piece of useful content behind a conversion form. Don’t try to sell them. Just get them to that next iterative step along their research phase. Direct them to a blog article or, ideally, a piece of educational content behind a lead conversion form. This is what translates a stranger into a website visitor or lead.     Turn a Lead Into a CustomerOnce someone begins to consider a purchase, they enter into a new stage on social media, as well. According to Nielsen, approximately 46% of online users count on social media when making a purchase decision. At this stage, questions shift from general inquiries about an industry or topic to more specific requests about companies. In the example below, HubSpot used Social Inbox to catch a tweet asking for a comparison between us and another marketing software provider. Because the person seeking advice was already a lead, Rosalia, a HubSpot marketer, notified the sales team member who had already been in talks with this prospective customer and then replied with some information that could be useful in seeing why people choose HubSpot.By taking the time to notify the sales representative, Rosalia gave him the context he needed to make his next call with the lead more relevant. Recipe for This Conversion Opportunity:Set up a search for your company name and the names of similar companies. This is not really about competitors as much at it is about catching leads in the moment that they’re weighing a purchase decision. At this stage they’re thinking more directly about products than they are, say, at the top of the funnel.  Bring the sales rep into the conversation. Take a look at your CRM or contact database to see if the person on the other end of that tweet is currently talking with one of your sales representatives. If so, forward the tweet to him so he can either reply himself and further strengthen the relationship, or have that extra context for his next interaction with the lead.Reply with more than “Pick us! Pick us!” The lead is asking a legitimate question. They’re looking for insights, not a hard sell. Reply with information that will help them navigate that decision. In the above example, we went with case studies from customers who had switched to HubSpot.   Turn a Customer Into an EvangelistHappy customers are like new born babies. They’re like rays of sunshine. They’re like getting to work to find that all your meetings have been canceled and there’s a fresh pot of coffee on. You get the gist — they’re pretty great.A good company will find these happy customers on Twitter and thank them. A great company will find a way to turn the moment of happiness into a lifetime of advocacy.Sound ambitious? It’s not as hard to scale as you think. First, let’s look at a company doing this well — brought straight to you from my own personal Twitter account. Wistia is a video hosting company that HubSpot uses. They first captured our attention because they create a lot of remarkable (and humorous) content around video marketing. While content was the start of the relationship, it’s product innovation and personal attention that has kept us as customers.Over the years, I’ve become a true fan, but look for a moment about how Wistia took this impromptu tweet of happiness and turned it into an opportunity. I shared a positive experience with their product and they responded with both gratitude and a way to push the conversation forward. By inquiring about the problems we were solving, Wistia’s Chris Savage opened up the door for a customer case study, testimonial, or more feedback that could contribute to future product development. A top-notch social response.Now, according to research from Oracle, 80% of Twitter users expect a response to a customer support inquiry in 24 hours or less. So responding to customers should obviously be a priority — but where companies really excel is knowing their customers well enough to celebrate them even when they don’t expect it. Wistia did a nice job of this in the example below. They noticed that one of their customers had gotten some positive media attention for a launch of their own. Seeing the article and valuing the customer, they immediately took to Twitter to congratulate them on their success.  Doing this can create a memorable moment for the customer and turn them into a long-time fan and advocate. In 2012, Wildfire conducted a study on brand advocates. They found that over the course of a year, brands with high advocate populations get 264% more earned media impressions than average brands. And brand advocates bring in an average of 1.3 new people each to the company.  Recipe for This Conversion Opportunity:Set up a simple search for people mentioning your brand. If you’re using HubSpot you can create a stream that separates out your customers from the rest of your company so you can focus on them. Otherwise, look for anyone who is positively mentioning your brand. Go beyond a thank you. For each interaction, follow up your thank you up with something to push the relationship further. Ask a question or send them a creative message. This extra step will go a long way to turning your brief supporters into long-time advocates.Create an internal feedback loop to surface customer stories. It may be hard for your social media or marketing staff to keep track of everything your customers are up to, but if you have a customer service team or account managers, they can help to surface good stories. Set up an internal email list-serve or a wiki page to share positive customer stories, then have your social media staff monitor it for posting ideas. Twitter may seem like a fire-hose of content, but small changes to the way you approach it can lead to a more productive time investment. In looking at our own customer base, we found that companies with more than 1,000 Twitter followers generate more than 800 new website visitors a month. Not only that, 36% of all marketers have acquired a customer via Twitter, with B2B companies leading the pack (Source: HubSpot). For each interaction you have, consider which of the above categories it could fit into. Think about the person at the other end of the tweet and what they need most at that moment.Have you ever acquired a lead or customer through Twitter? I’d love to hear your own stories in the comments below.   Image credit: garrettheath Topics: Twitter Marketing Originally published Aug 12, 2013 2:00:00 PM, updated February 01 2017 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

How to Break the Communication Barrier Between Marketers and Designers [Q&A]

first_img Topics: Sometimes, it seems like marketers and designers speak different languages. You have marketers focusing on the timeline, designers focusing on the creation process, and neither of them understanding where the other is coming from.That’s a worst case scenario, and perhaps a common one for you — but it doesn’t have to be that way.I sat with two members who head up HubSpot’s creative & design team (which sits on HubSpot’s marketing team) — Keith Frankel and Jon Smith. I wanted to get their opinions on the best ways people like me can work with designers, and how we can get past some common communication barriers.Here’s what Keith and Jon had to say, including some helpful resources and a list of terms marketers should know about design.What is the most common misunderstanding between designers and marketers? And how can we address it?Keith: If there was just one common misunderstanding I could clear up, it’s this: Designers are not artists, and to view them as such can hurt both your working relationship, and the quality of the work you receive.While it’s absolutely true that designers are uniquely skilled at taking something from rough concept to beautiful completion, that final deliverable must — at its most fundamental level — solve a problem. In a way, design is all about making someone’s life easier. So rather than focusing primarily on form or expression (as is often the case with art), the primary purpose of design is the exact opposite — to support function. Acknowledging the distinction is vital in ensuring that marketers are able to get the most out of designers.Jon: I think it’s also important to have clearly defined goals and get on the same page as early as possible. The first interaction between a marketer and a designer is important to set the stage, figure out what the goal of the project is, and set a plan to execute on that project. If marketers know a bit more about design and the design process, that can also help. It’ll come in handy when there’s a conflict in which marketers and designers are trying to decide whether a part of the design is the problem, or something else entirely. It usually makes it easier for designers to synthesize the information they’re given from the onset, too, instead of making changes along the way. There’s a lot of time and energy that goes into synthesizing the marketer’s ideas and figuring out what will be the most beneficial for them, so understanding that process can help make it go more smoothly. Designers should also fully lay out and document what the whole project entails and explain why certain parts of the process take a lot of time and cost a lot of money. They also need to work on being more specific and explain the full process in detail to marketers to help them understand it all. Being clear and expressing exactly what the project entails will help both parties get on the same page from the get-go.On that note, can you talk about how a designer and marketer should kick off a project together? When a project is requested, what information do marketers and designers need to share?Keith: There is usually a lot of talk from designers around the importance of requiring marketers to fill out a creative brief. I’ve found this to almost always be unnecessary. If a designer takes the time to sit down and actually speak with a marketer, they will usually be more than able to capture all the information necessary to establish a project plan and start working in the right direction.For the designer, then, the initial meeting is all about gathering the necessary information — such as the intended audience, problems that need to be addressed, and general tonal direction — so they can then determine the concept, project scope, deliverables, and deadlines.For marketers, it’s more important what they don’t come to the kick-off meeting with — namely, a closed mind, a set-in-stone concept, and a commitment to any one kind of physical deliverable. Designers should have a substantial amount of influence on the shape and form of the final deliverable, both in terms of concept and execution. Nothing is worse than a marketer coming to a kick-off meeting and telling a designer exactly what they’re going to create.Jon: Designers need to have information on why a marketer is starting a project, their goals and aspirations, their target audience, etc. Think about giving concrete answers, such as, “We’re trying to grow advertising revenue,” or, “We’re trying to take a social approach on our site.” It can also be helpful for marketers to bring in examples of things they like and don’t like about other competing brands. That could include things like typography, color, or texture.Additionally, it’s vital to set the stage for who is responsible for what parts of the project. These questions are common ones designers should be asking their marketing counterparts:Who is going to write the content?What keywords are important for SEO?Who is responsible for that research?Is there an established brand identity that designers should stick with?What are you prepared to invest in after the site launches?Okay, so you’ve had your kickoff meeting, designers are working, and the first “draft” is in. If a marketer has feedback on that, how should he/she present it? Keith: Unfortunately, feedback sessions between marketers and designers are often tense, uncomfortable, and unwelcome events. However, this doesn’t have to be the case — so long as both parties enter the sessions with a few things in mind.First off, for companies with internal creative teams that are large or sophisticated enough to necessitate a Creative Director or Creative Lead, feedback should almost always occur between this individual and the marketer. It’s typically not ideal for a marketer to bypass the lead and go directly to the assigned designer, unless that designer is pretty seasoned.Many companies don’t employ this position, though, so it’s important for marketers to understand what designers are looking for in feedback. It’s not the case that designers are completely averse to input — in fact, if your company is employing a designer who feels above feedback, they should be let go sooner rather than later. Instead, designers are looking for a specific type of feedback.For marketers, the best advice is to remember that it’s not your job to give pixel-level feedback on aesthetic elements such as typefaces or colors — that’s the Creative Lead’s job. In other words, feedback along the lines of, “move it over three pixels” is something marketers don’t need to focus on.It’s also generally a bad idea to give ambiguous or presumptive feedback such as “make it pop” or “I’ll know it when I see it.” These aren’t informative. Rather, marketers can focus on higher-level feedback that calls into question the design’s success at solving for factors such as proper brand alignment, general tone in light of the intended audience, visual presentation of the content in the correct order of importance, etc. It’s the designer’s job to sift through this higher-level feedback and come up with a pixel-level solution.Finally, if you’re unsure about certain elements but aren’t positive how to approach them, just start by asking questions. Good designers understand that they need to make justifiable and defensible decisions. Chatting with a designer about their intent in handling a design in a particular way can often shed light on what seems like a tension point.By talking through the reasoning behind the design, chances are the designer and marketer will come up with revisions together.How many versions should be presented?Keith: “Could you send me a few different versions?” is one of the most frustrating requests a designer can receive. Remember, a designer’s first job is to solve problems. Any designer worth their weight, when being tasked with responding to some need, will have invested their most thoughtful work into the first idea. It’s like responding to a doctor who has just recommended diet and exercise as your best chance for losing weight with: “What else ya got?”Now, this isn’t to say that designers will “nail it” the first time every time or that a designer’s work can’t be improved with thoughtful review and feedback. Feedback is absolutely necessary, and no good designer thinks they’re above it.However, in order to ensure that you get the most successful design out of your designers, don’t start by asking them to create multiple versions of the same deliverable. Instead, work more closely with them upfront by providing them with all of the necessary information they will need to knock the first version out of the park.When it comes time to review later, you’ll thank yourself.How do you think a designer’s success should be measured?Keith: Unfortunately, there is a terrible misconception that good design is flashy or “eye-catching.” This couldn’t be further from the truth.The most successful designs satisfy presenting and highlighting the intended information without calling attention to the highlight itself. Good design isn’t necessarily loud or ornate. In fact, it’s often completely invisible.Having said that, it’s important to keep in mind that the goal of design is, first and foremost, to support function by providing thoughtful solutions to a marketer’s problems. In the same way, designers are also responsible for improving the overall quality of a consumer’s experience with the created deliverable. To that end, designers should be graded based on their success or failure in addressing both the users’ and marketers’ problems, as provided by the marketer and laid out in the initial planning meeting.Designers are ultimately here to help marketers create the most successful — not necessarily the prettiest — solutions to their needs.What are some industry terms that designers use that would be helpful for marketers to know?Jon: If I had to come up with a core list of terms marketers should know, I’d say these are the core ones that will help to start:Sitemap — A document that lists the pages of a website in hierarchical orderWireframe — A visual guide that shows the layout of a websiteInformation architecture — Organizing content on a website in a user-friendly mannerLow-fidelity mock-ups — A rough sketch or mock-up that doesn’t have too much detailHigh-fidelity mock-ups — A design that is pretty close to the completed productFully developed site front-end and back-end — A completely developed websiteIt’s also important for marketers to understand that the process of website redesign is broken up into these different parts. Some huge sites may require designers to spend months on just one of the stages listed above.(Note: You can find a more comprehensive list of major design terms in this blog post.)How can marketers stay up-to-date on design trends so they’re more current when talking with designers?Jon: There are tons of websites that provide detailed information about different design trends. Some of the best ones, in my opinion, include:Smashing MagazineDribbbleTheBestDesigns.comDesigner NewsThe Best WebMarketers who follow these blogs can get a great idea of what’s going on in the world of design and help build some rapport with the designers they’re working with. Originally published Feb 5, 2014 11:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Growth-Driven Design Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

The Inbound Approach to Turning More Leads Into Customers

first_img Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Inbound isn’t all about marketing. After all, what happens to all those leads you’ve been getting? Your business can’t run on leads alone — you need customers who help bring in revenue and fuel your future inbound strategies.So once you’ve perfected your visit-to-lead acquisition, it’s time to get to work on your lead-to-customers game. Below are some of my favorite tactics that inbound marketers and salespeople alike can use to help nurture and close more leads into customers.Target your email sends.How many times have you received an email from a company you’ve never even heard of? What about an email with a subject line that says something along the lines of “Get a great deal on our product!” from a site you just visited for the first time? And how many times have you actually liked those emails and continued to open more like them in the future?If you said something along the lines of “oh gosh I hate those emails why are you reminding me about them,” you’re not alone. Emails that are either wholly irrelevant to their recipients — or irrelevant to where those recipients happen to be in the buyer’s journey — can not only annoy your potential customers, but in fact make it less likely they’ll want to do business with you in the future.Now let’s switch gears a bit: Think about the last time you received an email directly related to a piece of content you downloaded or an offer you signed up for, or one that offers an answer to the question you’ve been trying to figure out all week. Did you open that email? Chances are good you did.It’s easy to see why emails specifically targeted to recipients’ needs and interests are much more likely to be opened, but even emails with subject lines like the “get a great deal!” one mentioned above can garner a plethora of clicks if it’s sent to the right person at the right time — like a contact who is in the decision stage of the buyer’s journey. Sending emails tailored to deliver exactly the right message at the right time immediately build recipients’ trust in your organization and make it more likely they’ll continue to engage with you in the future.Think about email as a tool for building relationships with your leads. The more you position yourself as a consultant within your emails — ready to help your prospects with their challenges — the more likely they will interact with you.Personalization is the magic word.What do you see when you visit a website like Amazon or Netflix? Probably something different than what your coworker, friend, or relative sees. These websites make the effort (and use the data) to better understand their visitors’ likes and interests and create a personalized website experience.These companies’ use of personalization goes a long way toward building trust with their website visitors — and makes it more likely that those visitors will think of Amazon or Netflix next time they’re interested in buying a product or watching a movie.While you’ll need to use smart content to create a personalized website, you can easily integrate this level of personalized messaging into your emails using personalization tokens. These tokens are small fragments of text you can place into your emails that pull in information your contacts have provided about themselves. Personalization tokens can be used to customize your email’s subject line or body to include the recipient’s specific company size, industry, location, title, or otherwise. Using these tokens can go a long way toward transforming each email you send into a sales-generating tool.Here’s a real-life of example of how email personalization can work to generate sales. Two months ago, I bought a 30-day supply of protein powder from Amazon.com. Just as my protein powder supply starts to dwindle, Amazon sends me an email asking: “Have you bought your protein powder this month? Check out similar flavors that might interest you!” Amazon instantly hooks me and gets my business yet again. Align your sales and marketing teams.“Our sales team is lazy,” says a marketing specialist. “Our marketing team is irrelevant,” says a sales rep. Sound familiar? No matter which side of the equation you’re on, chances are you’ve heard one of those two lines spoken before. You’re not alone — in fact, according to a study done by the Corporate Executive Board, 87% of the terms sales and marketing use to describe each other are negative. A study by the Aberdeen Group, however, showed that companies with strong sales and marketing alignment get 20% annual revenue growth. Imagine that: 20% growth simply from collaborating with your coworkers!It pays off for both teams to not only get along, but actively work together toward accomplishing overall company goals. By collaborating and removing the negativity between the two teams, companies can actively close more leads into customers. So if you’re not already getting together on a regular basis, schedule a meeting between your sales and marketing team leaders and take the first leap into aligning to better each other and your company as a whole.Be an open book & leverage the buyer’s context in the sales process.Not only has inbound transformed the way we market, it has also transformed the way sell. While the sales process used to consist of weeks upon weeks of cold calls and static pitches, today’s sales process is on the buyer’s schedule and must be tailored to their specific needs and wants. Instead of salespeople acting as the gatekeepers to content and information about products and services, we make that content readily available on our websites for prospects to download and access on their own. Gone are the days where sales rep hold the power in the buying process. Now, the tides have turned and the buyers have all the control. In order to succeed with sales in an inbound world, sales reps must be open books — ready and waiting to provide helpful information to their prospects and customers. Your potential customers can see right through generic scripts or stagnant sales pitches, so don’t be a machine! Breathe some life into your sales process by listening to potential buyers, tailoring sales pitches to each individual and their unique context, being helpful, and always keeping conversations relevant and personalized.Determine the goal of a call before picking up the phone.To all the sales reps reading, we get it. You have an ambitious activity number to hit and reaching it can be more than a little stressful. But, that’s no excuse for poor sales tactics. To get the most out of each call — and to set each one up for success — always determine the goal of each one of your sales calls before picking up the phone. Research prospects so that when you get the chance to interact with them, you’re prepared and able to have the conversation that’s most relevant to where they are in the buyer’s journey and who they are as people.Beyond understanding both who your prospects are and what you’d like to accomplish when speaking to them on the phone, it’s important to make sure you know who you’re actually going to be speaking with and how that may influence your goal. Maybe you’re calling someone to make an introduction, maybe you have the decision maker’s name and number and you’re calling to make the sale, or maybe you’re just trying to get an internal or external referral. Regardless of the situation, the goal of the call will depend on who you’re talking to and where they are in the buying cycle.The inbound methodology doesn’t end after “convert.” In order to be truly successful with your inbound strategy, you need to effectively close your leads into customers. To dive deeper into how to maximize your customer generation efforts, check out HubSpot Academy’s Inbound Certification. Topics: Originally published May 22, 2014 2:30:00 PM, updated July 28 2017 Passing Leads to Saleslast_img read more