The Walpole Yearbook – my article on Social Media in Luxury

I’ve just posted my article on Social Media in the Luxury sector on my blog:

http://pencil.wpengine.com/the-walpole-yearbook-article-on-social-media/

The article was a short one, written to stimulate debate in the luxury sector, where adoption of social media both lagging and also challenged as to whether it’s relevant to the sector.

Research on this was really interesting, and I came across some fun companies (especially ThisNext.com which is now a firm favourite as an exemplar of social-meets-brands-meets-commerce).

Amsterdam images

Just updated Flickr with some images I took in Amsterdam while at the IADS conference.

I managed to get a couple of hours’ wandering done after the conference and was lucky with some bright, early spring weather: low sun, nice contrast and best of all wonderful wandering weather.

I took a stroll up to the Central Station and then walked along the river/waterfront before cutting back through the station.

I used a combination of my two favourite films atm – Fuji’s 800Z Pro for colour and Neopan 400 for B&W.

The scans were done as ever by the nice folk at Panther Digital but, with the difficulty of getting really solid, contrasty blacks on the 800Z I’m thinking that perhaps it’s time to do a little scanning at home (yes, I know I said I would never do it AND I sold my Nikon scanner ages ago and now wish I hadn’t… Sigh. Moral of the tale – never sell anything!).

Microposting(s) for March 19th through March 26th

These my micropostings and bookmarks – March 19th through March 26th:

Internet Retailing – first results from the Inspiration Index

The March issue of InternetRetailing’s hitting desks around Europe and we’re able to release the standings after the first ‘dimension’ of the Inspiration Index voting – on “Moments of Brilliance and Delight”.

irii-results-dimension1

To recap for those who missed the IRII announcement, the InternetRetailing Inspiration Index focuses upon:

those moments of admiration, enjoyment and – frankly – envy: when we look at another retailer’s activities and wish we’d thought of that first, had implemented as well, or have an open regard for a difficult problem elegantly overcome

You can see the full article from InternetRetailing Magazine here:

IRII Article (pdf) – download

The next dimension – Customer Experience – is now available and awaiting your comments. Please follow this link to the eDigital Research survey page:

https://ecustomeropinions.com/survey/survey.php?sid=473664927

Results and the site review will be published in the May issue of InternetRetailing Magazine.

Other links

Microposting(s) for March 9th through March 15th

These my micropostings and bookmarks – March 9th through March 15th:

  • http://www.neurofocus.com – Quoth them:

    "SIX CRITICAL MEASURES FOR SUCCESS
    Neuroscience provides a deep, clear view into the real-world, real-time reactions of consumers at the most elemental level: their brainwaves.

    The human brain reacts to stimuli in milliseconds. NeuroFocus captures these reactions thousands of times every second.

    Our sophisticated methodologies measure:

    * Attention
    * Emotional Engagement
    * Memory Retention

    From those we derive gauges of:

    * Persuasion,
    * Awareness
    * Novelty

    These are the six critical metrics that determine consumers' engagement with your brand, with your marketing, with your messaging or other content. "

    Coo.

  • 10 Best Twitter Tools for WordPress Blogs
  • Visual Recipes – Okonomiyaki aka Japanese Pizza Recipe
  • Hacker Public Radio – Nice site, nice idea, well implemented. Hacker podcasts, by experts, for experts, but with others able to listen in.
  • Wooden train buildings & Scenery – Discounted Brio wooden trains. Everyone needs more trains. And more track. And more trains. And more track…

Getting Canon inkjets to work on a Mac…

So, the ugly, ink-swilling, temperamental Epson Stylus Pro 1270 finally died a death. Total inability to feed paper (bit of a disadvantage in a printer). So, with Vicky having a book to get ready for London Book Fair it was back to the PITA of finding an A3 colour printer for high quality home office use.

Mac users know that the only company to have a full driver complement for their range is Epson, with HP doing pretty well as a second place. Most normal people can now stop reading. The rest of the post is for therapeutic purposes and the sanity of other Marital Tech Support People who have to get the printer to print…

Firstly, we bought a Canon Pixma 9000. The reason was the great reviews (rave, in fact) of the image quality, PLUS the fact it had 8 ink cartriges, build quality of an armoured vehicle and we didn’t want to touch Epson again.

The first thing I should have realised were that all the reviews were from PC users, raving about the step up in quality. The ‘Mac compatible’ bit lulled me into a false sense of expectation. Rookie error.

So, we get it home (weighs a ton) and set it up and pages just RACE through it. I’d read that it was 5 mins/page in highest quality, but the test print ran through in about 15 seconds for A3. Hmmm.

The quality wasn’t great, so I looked for the ‘quality knob’ to twiddle and couldn’t find anything over and above the most basic settings. This was the same in every application.

The root cause is that Canon has not created a ppd for the printer on a mac. This means that the output is essentially just draft quality inkjet. There’s no way to control the cunning ink reservoirs, colour balance and profile, resolution etc. It’s SO annoying.

The choice then was to retrieve the packaging from the recycling dump (!) or ‘make it work’.

Steps, therefore were:

  1. Go to Canon’s site and get the latest “installer” for the Mac. This does not include a PPD and there’s no ‘driver’ available on their site. FAIL.
  2. Google to find out why I couldn’t select the PPD in the print dialogue box. This brough the realisation ‘there’s no PPD’
  3. Looking up PPDs on Wikipedia – remembered about Postscript and felt old
  4. Re-googled, PPD with generic Adobe. Found out that Adobe have a ‘generic print driver’ and tried to associate this with the 9000. Didn’t work, but failed in a more attractive way. Found some suggestions that if one saved work as a PDF then printed that it’d improve quality. Exported the Adobe Illustrator book cover as a PDF and then printed this. Better, but we were still looking at divorce…
  5. Turned to twitter and asked about PPDs for Canon. Doug Winter (@winjer), ever-helpfully, pointed me at the stunningly useful openprinting.org (formerly linuxprint). These folk test, edit and create print drivers for the linux world. Luckily a) the mac is based on unix and so this all works; b) unix folk can roll their own; and c) unix folk like sharing things free 🙂
  6. Here’s the driver page for Canon:
    http://openprinting.org/show_printer.cgi?recnum=Canon-PIXMA_Pro9000
    No open PPD, sadly, but a pointer to TurboPrint.de and the promise of “working”
  7. TurboPrint has a mac-specific printer driver suite called (catchily) PrintFab. €49, but we needed the €79 version (interesting licencing approach – you need a more expensive licence to print bigger pages! The entry level just supports A4, while the ‘pro’ supports A3 and A3+). I admired greatly through gritted teeth as I downloaded.
  8. PrintFab installs as a new printer and – after a restart (bah) there’s a total transformation. Not only is the basic output better (certainly ideal for proofing), but the quality twiddling is nothing sort of breathtaking. ICC profiles, gamut adjustment, ink-by-ink adjustment (directly by ink mix, RGB or CMYK adjustments). The ink-saver mode is really useful and the photo quality is photolab level on 6×4 and 5×7, and passable for a 10×8. More work needed on this.

So, we now approach happiness. The Canon’s delivering on its promise and we have a great step forward from the (admittedly ancient) Epson. We also have a whole pile of new things to learn – colour profiles? Ugh.

Whatever happened to “just press Apple+P” ??

Social Media Influence 2009

03032009008

Last Tuesday I wandered over to Social Media Influence 2009, organised rather well indeed by Matthew Yeomans (about) and Bernhard Warner (about) (once of CustomCommunications, and now the newly-formed RadarDDB). The event promoter was none other than Mark Pigou of InternetRetailing fame.

The venue was great – the Cavendish Conference Centre – tucked away in a mews entrance off Portland Place, then underground. It was bright, modern and had a good seating area and presentation capabilities. It was let down (painfully!) though by its utterly crap broadband and totaly lack of mobile signal. I know that it’s lucrative for conference venues to have hived off broadband supply so that they can gouge conference organisers to ‘provision’ broadband but PLEASE! You can get 20Mb at 20:1 contention for £20 per month in London… That’s 4 years’ worth of connectivity for the £1000 a time you charge conference organisers…

Anyone interested in a venues “name and shame” website? Interestingly (as I ranted) I found out that one’s not even allowed to install one’s own connection – closed shop, restraint of service, cartel…  I suggested to Mark that at our next conference we print in large letters across the programme that “We apologise for the crap internet connection here: it’s due to the profit-gouging, neo-luddite, short-termism of [manager’s name] of [venue]”. Grrr.

The dongle-carrying, macbook-waving twitterati at the conference were not to be defeated, however, and it was quite a surreal experience to look behind the speakers and see a live ‘twitterfeed’ of the conference proceedings projected large, while looking at the screens of the assembled folk watching and writing tweets on their laptops. So meta it was hardly being there!

The conference brought together a good group of people and there was lots of time to chat, catch up with people and exchange ideas.

In addition to the tweet tag (#SMI09) you can also see a collection of assorted web coverage and feeds on the SMI Netvibes page.

Speaking: International Association of Department Stores, in Amsterdam

I was pleased to be invited, along with Frederik Nieuwenhuys of Fredhopper.com, to give the keynote at the IADS meeting in Amsterdam on Thursday, looking at the future for department stores online. We received a warm and open welcome at the de Bijenkorf flagship store for two days.

My pleasure turned quickly to a feeling of privilege, however, during two days of open, candid, revealing and utterly stimulating presentations and discussions.

I’m unable to recount details or attendees, but I can say that the leading stores in the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Turkey, Mexico, Sweden, Spain, Switzerland and Chile were represented.

A further highlight was the informal discussion time in the evenings, where I found in particular the directorate of IADS to be in possession of a mine of information, challenging ideas and an archival historic view on the sector… We’ll be hearing more of this in future issues of InternetRetailing!

My (publishable) take-aways from the meeting were:

  • a focus on the customer and customer expectations, rather than technology
  • concentration on ROI, and investing in business process and ‘cross-channel’ as much as in ‘building the web store’
  • a tension between comprehensiveness and focus when it comes to online range – along with a view that there’s no single, simple answer
  • a focus on growth (surprising in this economic climate) – geographically, in terms of range and scale of operations.

I’ve lost count of the number of conferences I’ve sat through, but I can’t remember the last time that I sat through two days without a single weak presentation, scribbling notes and ideas all the while and having my preconceptions challenged to regularly.

In my view this emphasises the benefit of smaller, peer meeting that allow for candour. I’d certainly be pleased to attend any further events by IADS based on this exemplary conference, and will reflect on the format for upcoming InternetRetailing events. A well-spent couple of days.

You know you have a powerful brand when…

After a week or two of conferencing and marketing meetings I’m getting a bit sick of the talk of ‘branding’ and ‘brand values’. Call me curmudgeonly, but I hold fast to the notion that I as a consumer bestow ‘brand’ status on a product or service and that this status is something earned as a result of some underlying value: working as or better than claimed; consistency; transparency; fair dealing. And then a little bit of desire and ‘wow’ to finish things off.

This true story recounted to me yesterday says all that’s needed about the power of a brand – even with competitors…

A friend, let’s call her “Nicole” for the want of a spare false name, had recently requested a PAC code from her mobile provider (let’s call them T-Mobile, just for the sake of the story). The PAC code closes your account and allows you transfer the number to another network.

As well as a PAC code, the request invariably triggers calls from the bowels of the contact centre and the ‘customer recovery’ team – those rare beasts empowered to grant your tariff desires, issue free phones, and generally persuade you to cancel the request and ‘de-churn’ yourself.

Said T-Mobiler introduced himself to “Nicole” and started the spiel. “Nicole” tried to cut him off saying that nary a blandishment nor inducement would change her mind and could he please leave her alone.

Silence for 10 seconds. Then – “You’ve bought an iPhone, haven’t you”.

“Yes”.

“OK. I understand. Thank you very much.”

When even your competitors’ battle hounds decide to go home and floss their teeth you know that your brand is in a strong position.