How Can You Get Millennials to Love Your Brand?

Millennials—people born between 1980 and 2000—are a highly sought-after demographic by marketers.  Not only are millennials the largest demographic group (there are 80 million of them), but it’s also estimated that they’ll spend $1.4 trillion annually by 2020.  Additionally, they’re expected to inherit approximately $30 billion in the years to come.  For this reason, marketers are eager to snare millennials now so their brands can (hopefully) experience loyalty that lasts a lifetime.

So, how can you get millennials to love your brand?  There are 3 themes that have proven very successful with this generation:

  • Uniqueness – Millennials want to stand out from their peers.  In fact, the report, American Millennials: Deciphering the Enigma Generation, notes that more than half of female millennials surveyed say that they prefer retail locations that offer, “unique items that I won’t see on anyone else.”  To this end, brands that allow some form of customization to their products are especially popular.  For example, the top millennial brand, Nike, allows users to create and customize their own shoes.

  • Socially Responsible – Millennials prefer brands that support a cause they care about, and 40% of them say that social responsibility is an important brand attribute.  Starbucks, another brand that is popular with millennials, is a prime example of this.  The company ethically sources its coffee, participates in conservation efforts, and supports local non-profits in eradicating poverty.

  • Social Media Engagement A high number of millennials (62%) say that they would be more likely to become a loyal customer of a brand that had an engaging social media presence.  Kraft, a millennials favorite, offers a prime example of this with its witty social media responses.

The Costs of Goal Obsession

On a recent episode of Game of Thrones, there was a chilling scene depicting a man behaving horribly to achieve his goal.  Specifically, character Stannis Barratheon’s quest to become king had become all-consuming.  With his military campaign in deep trouble, he burned alive his teenage daughter, Shireen, to appease the gods, despite having fond feelings for the girl.  While obviously this is an extreme example, goal obsession affects many people.  If you’re one of them, we recommend asking yourself, “What is the cost of pursuing my goal?”

We all can probably think of a cautionary tale of someone who was so focused on the pursuit of his goal that he suffered negative personal experiences from it.  Maybe it was the person who devoted so much time at the office that his marriage suffered.  Or perhaps it was the individual who continued to pursue his entrepreneurial dream for years, sinking more and more money into a concept that the market failed to take an interest in.  While focusing on a goal is useful, once it becomes an obsession, it can do more harm than good.

Author and top-ranked executive coach, Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, suggests that while there is nothing wrong with hard work, we should carefully consider the price we pay for achieving our goals.  He recommends that you do so by asking yourself the following questions:

  1. What are the most important values in my life?  Are my values reflected in the way I spend my time?

  2. What is my mission – as a human being?  Am I becoming so focused on achieving my goals that I forget this mission?

By taking the time to ask yourself these questions, you can shape your life in a way that reflects your most cherished values.  By the end of it, rather than being filled with regrets, you’ll be pleased with the choices you made along the way.    

Thought For The Day

“Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man's desire to understand.”
Neil Armstrong



5 Trends that Are Changing the Way Companies Approach Customer Service

Over the past 2 decades, technology has advanced so rapidly that it has completely changed the way people shop, pay bills, order food, and travel.  Subsequently, it has been left to businesses to provide customer service that keeps pace with technology, meeting the expectations that customers have today, rather than those they might have had 20 years ago.  To keep you up-to-date, here are some of the top trends in customer service:

1. The Growth of Web Self-Service.  According to Forrester Research, for the first time ever web self-service has surpassed traditional call centers as the most popular method people use for customer service.  It appears that most customers prefer the ease of the web over actual human interaction.

2. Response Times are Shorter.  No longer is it acceptable to get back to customers in a few business days, Forbes reports.  Today customers expect to get a response to their queries in hours, not days.

3. Optimization for Mobile.  As more and more people use mobile phones and tablets, it’s become increasingly important for companies to provide customer service that’s optimized for mobile.  Not only do customers want to book vacations on their mobile devices, but they also want to be able to easily read emails, submit customer queries, etc.

4. Customer Experience Will Grow In Importance.  Experts predict that by 2020, customer experience will be even more important than price and product when it comes to brand differentiation.  For this reason, companies are investing more money on R&D to fund unique customer service experiences like drone delivery and Personalized Interactive Videos (PIVs).

5. Social Media Support.  It’s not enough to just put your business profile on social media sites.  A J.D. Power and Associates study found that two-thirds of customers visit a business’ social media sites to get customer service.  Rather than putting customers off by suggesting that they use another channel like email or telephone, businesses should be prepared to provide customer service through their social media accounts.

Introduction to Object-Oriented Programming (Part 1)

In our first series of programming articles, we introduced some basic concepts using examples in the C programming language.  You learned about variables, operators, various data types and the different ways to use them, etc.  These “components” appear in almost all conventional programming languages.

From our examples in C, you should have acquired a basic idea of what the structure of a C program looks like.  In simple terms, you declare and define the variables you want to use (and make new data types in the form of structures, if necessary), and you manipulate those variables by writing parts of code.  In programming, we refer to this as a “procedural paradigm” (paradigm – a fundamental style; a set of ideas, rules and patterns which determine the way a program is structured).

You may have also noticed some of the negatives of this way of programming – numerous functions, difficulty in determining the origin of an error, and inflexible code or being unable to represent or model your problem in detail using the given means.  This does not suggest that C is a bad language or that the procedural paradigm isn’t a good one.  What we are saying, however, is that this way of programming is unsuitable for some situations.  That’s why our new series of articles will discuss a different paradigm called object-oriented programming (OOP).

The basic philosophy of OOP is based on the concept of objects – structures which contain data (called fields or attributes), and code in the form of procedures (here called methods, not functions).  Objects can interact with each other, and an object’s method can modify the data contained within the object.

There are many subtypes of the OOP paradigm, but most commonly, object-oriented languages are “class-based” – meaning that an object is an instance of a class.  All objects of a certain class have some similar features.

One of the key features of OOP is inheritance – when one class inherits another class, it keeps all the properties of the parent class but also adds new properties of its own.  This is meant to “mimic” real life situations.  For example, let’s say you have a class called Car and inherit a class called RacingCar from it.  A racing car is still a car, just with some additional features.  This enables a certain type of behavior in objects called polymorphism (which will be discussed later in greater detail).

Although object-oriented programming may seem overly complicated in the beginning, it is an amazing tool for modeling complex structures and solving problems; it enables modularization of code, making modifying the code or adding new features a simpler task, and makes the program more robust (resilient to errors).  That’s why, in the following articles, we will more thoroughly explain the basic terminology – classes, objects, methods, inheritance, polymorphism, etc.  Later, we’ll talk about some general principles and patterns for successfully building a robust, modularized and comprehensive object-oriented system.