Linking ‘natural mutants’ and evolution

first_imgA group of “natural mutants” may shed new light on the molecular basis of adaptation in all vertebrates, according to new work that sequenced the genomes and transcriptomes of five species of African cichlids.A research team led by scientists at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard uncovered a variety of features in the cichlid genomes that enabled the fish to thrive in new habitats and ecological niches within the Great Lakes of East Africa. Their study, done in collaboration with scientists at Eawag (the Swiss Federal Institute for Aquatic Science and Technology), the Georgia Institute of Technology, and more than 70 scientists from the international cichlid research community, appears in the Sept. 3 advance online edition of Nature.“Our study reveals a spectrum of methods that nature uses to allow organisms to adapt to different environments,” said co-senior author Kerstin Lindblad-Toh, scientific director of vertebrate genome biology at the Broad Institute, professor in comparative genomics at Uppsala University, and the co-director of Science for Life Laboratory, Sweden. “These mechanisms are likely also at work in humans and other vertebrates, and by focusing on the remarkably diverse cichlid fishes, we were able to study this process on a broad scale for the first time.”African cichlid fish are some of the most phenotypically diverse groups of organisms on the planet, with more than 2,000 known species. Some lakes are home to hundreds of distinct species that evolved from a common ancestral species that left the Nile River to colonize particular lakes. Like Darwin’s finches, the cichlids are a dramatic example of adaptive radiation, the process by which multiple species “radiate” from an ancestral species through adaptation.The researchers wanted to examine the cichlid genome as a model system and determine what allowed these fish to diversify broadly in a relatively short time. The scientists sequenced the genomes and transcriptomes of five distinct lineages of African cichlids: the Nile tilapia, representing the ancestral lineage; a species that inhabits a river near Lake Tanganyika; a species from Lake Tanganyika colonized 10-20 million years ago; a species from Lake Malawi colonized 5 million years ago; and species from Lake Victoria where the fish radiated only 15,000 to 100,000 years ago.After analyzing the data, the researchers found a surprising number of genomic changes at play. Compared with the ancestral lineage, the East African cichlid genomes possess an excess of gene duplications; alterations in regulatory, nonprotein-coding elements in the genome; accelerated evolution of protein-coding elements, especially in genes for pigmentation; and other distinct features that affect gene expression, such as insertions of transposable elements and regulation by novel microRNAs.“It’s not one big change in the genome of this fish, but lots of different molecular mechanisms used to achieve this amazing adaptation and speciation,” said Federica Di Palma, co-senior author of the Nature study, formerly assistant director of vertebrate sequencing and analysis at the Broad, and now director of science in vertebrate and health genomics at The Genome Analysis Centre in the United Kingdom.Some changes in the genome appear to have accumulated before the cichlids left the rivers and radiated into hundreds of species. This suggests that the cichlids were once in a period of reduced constraint. During this time, the fish accumulated diversity through genetic mutations, and the relaxed constraint — in which all individuals thrived, not just the fittest — allowed genetic variation to accumulate. As the fish inhabited new environmental niches within the lakes, new species could form quickly through selection. In this way, a reservoir of mutations — and resultant phenotypes — represented a “genomic toolkit” that allowed quick adaptation.More work remains to fully dissect the mutations that cause each of the varying phenotypes in cichlid fish, and may involve the sequencing of many more cichlid species. This effort could help explain how similar forms or traits evolved in parallel in different lakes, converging on the same morphology through distinct lineages.Using these “natural mutants” as a model system can shed light on human biology and disease. “By learning how natural populations, such as fishes, adapt and evolve under selective pressures, we can learn how these pressures affect humans in terms of health and disease,” said Di Palma.This work was funded in part by the National Human Genome Research Institute, the Swiss National Science Foundation, the German Research Foundation, Biomedical Research Council of A*STAR in Singapore, the European Research Council, US National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), and the Wellcome Trust.last_img read more

West Indies looking for upturn in their one-day form

first_imgHARARE, Zimbabwe (CMC) – Captain Jason Holder hopes the key areas addressed during the recent one-week camp in South Africa will see West Indies turn the page on their dodgy One-Day International form, in the Tri-Nations Series here which bowled off yesterday.West Indies were swept 3-0 by Pakistan last month and have now lost 12 of their last 16 games in the last four bilateral series. They were good enough to reach the final of the Tri-Nations Series against Australia and South Africa in the Caribbean earlier this year, but lost to the Aussies.“I think it is a situation where we need to come together as a team. We’ve struggled in the last few one-day series in terms of batting the 50 overs and that is one area we have addressed,” Holder said ahead of his side’s first game tomorrow.“In terms of the bowling, we need to be a lot better in the first power-play and then we have to close in the last 10 overs. Those are the significant areas we have paid some attention to.“I think once we do that and we string some big partnerships (together) – in the past I think we have found ourselves getting a lot of starts but not carrying on – we leave less for the middle and lower order to do.”West Indies open their campaign tomorrow against Sri Lanka before taking on the hosts on Saturday in their second outing.Last year, the Caribbean side suffered a 3-0 whitewash away to the Sri Lankans and Holder said they were expecting a strong challenge from them again, along with a tough showing from Zimbabwe.“It’s going to be tough. Obviously they are two good teams. Sri Lanka play good cricket and obviously are of a higher rank and Zimbabwe have a point to prove,” the all-rounder explained.“They are playing in their backyard as well so they will be (familiar) with their conditions. It’s a situation where we have to assess as early as possible and go out and play some good aggressive cricket.”West Indies endured a long difficult tour of the United Arab Emirates recently, where they were trounced in the Twenty20, one-day and Test series by Pakistan.Their only success came in the final Test in Sharjah when they produced an admirable performance to win by five wickets.Holder said the camp in Potchefstroom had been a great chance for the unit to re-assess.“We had a good week in Potchefstroom. I thought the guys had a few days off to catch themselves and recuperate after the long series in Dubai,” he said.“It’s just a situation where we got what we wanted out of the training camp and moving into the (Tri-Nations Series) I think we are much better prepared.”last_img read more

Tennis News ‘Crowd chants Roger, I hear Novak’ – Novak Djokovic after winning Wimbledon title for fifth time

first_imgNovak Djokovic won his 16th Grand Slam title.Djokovic is the first man in 71 years to win the title from match points down.Roger Federer missed a chance to win his ninth Wimbledon title. For all the Latest Sports News News, Tennis News News, Download News Nation Android and iOS Mobile Apps. London: Novak Djokovic has vowed to convince fans that he is not public enemy number one even if he surpasses people’s champion Roger Federer as the greatest Grand Slam title winner of all time. The world number one saved two match points to clinch a fifth Wimbledon title and 16th major on Sunday, shattering Federer’s bid to become the oldest Grand Slam champion in the longest final ever contested at the tournament.     Despite being outplayed by the 37-year-old Swiss for large parts of the knife-edge encounter, the top seed emerged victorious 7-6 (7/5), 1-6, 7-6 (7/4), 4-6, 13-12 (7/3). At four hours and 57 minutes, it was the longest Wimbledon final and the first to be settled by a final set tiebreak.     Djokovic is the first man in 71 years to win the title from match points down, saving two in the 16th game of the deciding set. His major title tally is now just two behind Rafael Nadal and four off the all-time men’s Grand Slam record of 20 held by Federer. He has time on his side, being a year younger than Nadal and more than five years younger than the legendary Swiss.     After Sunday’s epic triumph, Djokovic revealed he was able to turn the overwhelmingly pro-Federer, 14,000-strong Centre Court crowd in his favour by training his mind.    ‘They chant Roger, I hear Novak’     “I like to transmute it in a way: When the crowd is chanting ‘Roger’ I hear ‘Novak’,” said the 32-year-old Djokovic. “It sounds silly, but it is like that.”     Djokovic has spent the best part of his career in pursuit of Nadal and Federer and attempting to seduce fans sceptical of his character. For many, he is viewed as too intense, too insincere, too calculating and prone to fads.  Federer and Nadal, in comparison, are treated almost reverentially.     “It’s hard to not be aware of the crowd. You have that kind of electric atmosphere, that kind of noise,” said Djokovic. “Of course, if you have the majority of the crowd on your side, it helps. When you don’t, then you have to find it within, I guess.”      Djokovic insists he won’t get distracted by the pursuit of Federer’s record haul. “Whether I’m going to be able to do it or not, I don’t know. I’m not really looking at age as a restriction of any kind for me at least. What I said on the court, I really meant it: Roger really inspires me with his effort at his age. It just depends how long I’m going to play, whether I’m going to have a chance to make historic No. 1 or Slams.”     When asked if he sees himself still playing at 37, Djokovic said the motivation to be treated with the same respect is strong. Eventually, hearing screams of “Let’s go, Novak, let’s go” will be more than welcome. “Hopefully in five years’ time, I can be hearing the same chants.”      Most consistent of ‘Big Three’     Djokovic is by far the most consistent of the ‘Big Three’ at the Slams. Since the start of 2015, he has won nine of the 19 majors played with Nadal winning four and Federer three. The other three have been split between Stan Wawrinka (two) and Andy Murray (one).     On Sunday, Djokovic saved match points in the 16th game of the deciding set, which ran for over two hours and was settled by a 12-12 tiebreak for the first time in a singles match at the tournament. It was another display of stunning mental fortitude.     He has been in similar predicaments in the past against Federer — saving two match points in both of his semi-final victories over the Swiss at the 2010 and 2011 US Opens. “I just try to never lose self-belief, just stay calm, just focus on trying to get the ball back, return, which wasn’t serving me very well today. But in the most important moments, all three tiebreaks I guess, I found my best game.”      He was off the pace for large parts of the final, only carving out his first break points in the eighth game of the fourth set. Federer won more points in the match with 218 to 204, broke serve seven times compared to three, hit 25 aces to 10 and 94 winners to Djokovic’s 54. “I thought I could have played better. But the one thing that probably allowed me to come back and save match points and win this match was the mental stability,” admitted the champion.center_img highlightslast_img read more

Kerr’s lengthy practice sets the tone for Warriors’ workload ahead

first_imgSAN FRANCISCO — In the first practice since five-straight NBA Finals runs, Warriors coach Steve Kerr opened training camp Tuesday with one of the longest practices under his tenure. Two-and-half hours. Probably an hour longer, to his estimation, than any practice last season.“This is different,” Kerr said. “We’re having to stop and teach, more stops and starts, more instruction, more Why’s and How’s. The first part of camp will especially be, I think, more detailed. And then once we get …last_img read more

The Artwork Behind Building Recommendation Engines with Big Data

first_imgAI is Not the Holy Grail of Sales, at Least Not… We live in a “long tail” world. That means that mass-market products are no longer able to satisfy consumers who ask for tailor-made solutions. This trend has emerged from online retail, specifically Jeff Bezos’ idea of having a million different shops for a million different consumers. In essence, it all boils down to building the perfect recommendation engine. There are various methods to create such a tool, which we will discuss shortly, but all of them have a common denominator: big data.“Hey, you can have any color you want — as long as it’s black.” –Henry FordThe days of Henry Ford and “any color you want as long as it is black” are long gone. Other things that are going out of fashion fast are website filters and asking questions to narrow down options. Modern customers hope to get exactly what they dream about presented to them as soon as they open a website. On the home page slider, if possible.This trend is also evident in the home entertainment sector. Just imagine if you would have to sort through thousands of movies before finding the one you like. Not the most successful business model, isn’t, it? Yet, a movie recommendation engine, like the one powering Netflix and other similar streaming services, can take hints from what you have previously selected and suggest what you might want to watch next.How are “they” making a selection for you?There are three ways to build a great recommendation engine, each with a different approach to solve the same problem.Clustering recommendation engines.To understand the way clustering recommendation engines work, you should think about product packages or product layouts on the shelves. Clustering takes into consideration their functionality and recommends items that are complementary. For example, a clustering engine would show you a toothpaste if you have already added a toothbrush to your cart.These engines don’t consider your customers’ particular preferences or what other users have bought, so you could build an engine like this even without the help of big data, just using logic and common sense in addition to simple out-of-the-box tools. The only problem with building a recommendation engine in this manner is that it becomes almost unmanageable if you have hundreds or thousands of products.In these cases of many thousands of products, clustering them would be too effort-intensive, so an algorithm should come in handy. Big data can help by making the necessary associations automatically.Content-based recommendation engines.The next way to get an active recommendation engine is to start with what customers already like. Coming back to the Netflix example, if they have already watched two Lord of The Rings movies, most likely they would be interested in the third as well.Here, big data is more useful, as the algorithm gathers numerous data points and computes the relevance between them. For example, it looks at the movie genre, the actors, the director, the soundtrack and even filming locations. Next, it scans the database to find items which are similar to the information discovered. This type of recommendation engines takes into consideration a customer’s personal history of interacting with the service and makes truly contextual suggestions.Collaborative recommendation engines.What if you have just installed Netflix or are on the Amazon page for the first time? Your recommendation feed is not empty. In fact, you might see some good ideas right from the beginning. These are offered based on the preferences of existing users.Once you start using the platform and the algorithm learns more about you, the recommendations will get better because you are automatically assigned to a cluster with similar customers.The advantage of collaborative engines is that it can be used for predictions based on customers’ real-life preferences. The downside is that it works on the assumption that if similar users liked similar things in the past, they would continue to do the same in the future, which is a bit unrealistic.Steps to build a recommendation engine.Before you can select any of the previously discussed methods, you need data to feed the algorithm. Since any big data endeavor is a problem of ‘garbage in garbage out,’ you also need to make sure that the data you have is high-quality and genuine.The first step is to collect the right data. The challenge here is that the most useful information is implicit, coming from a user’s behavior. Although collecting data in online logs is straightforward, filtering just the right information is almost art. The difficulty here is to assign proper importance to each item. For example, in the case of a movie recommendation engine, is the genre or the main actor more critical? Depending on the viewer, answers might be very different.Next, you need to make sure you store the data in a way that allows you to access it fast and the algorithm to learn from it continuously. A NoSQL database offers the necessary flexibility and scalability for such projects which usually grow exponentially. Such a way of storage is possible by spreading the data over hundreds of distributed servers in the cloud.The advantage of a NoSQL database is that it offers the opportunity to store any data, including unstructured ones like comments, reviews, and opinions. Most of the times, these are far more valuable than ratings by numbers since you get an insight into more subtle preferences.To create a great recommendation engine, the most critical step is to analyze data and identify patterns. Some of the best-performing systems work in real time or almost in real time, refreshing every few seconds. The least performant but still usable solution is a batch analysis, which is mostly used in retail for looking at daily or weekly sales.Future trends.We can expect that recommendation engines will become so high performing that they will eliminate the need for search, entirely. The danger and downside of this approach is that each customer will live in a comfortable bubble, enjoying the same kind of content with little chance of discovering something beyond that. We are already witnessing this phenomenon happening on our social media feeds — much to our personal and collective danger — and we also see our very own bubbles happening in the automatically generated playlists on YouTube. Sophia Brooke Follow the Puck Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Related Posts Sophia Brooke is a Project Manager with over 10 years’ experience and a proven track record in project management and delivery for a variety of industry sectors: Retail, Software, Construction, Education and Financial services. Tags:#Big Data#big data recommendations#build a recommendation engine#content-based recommendations#marketing#Recommendation Engines#sales Internet of Things Makes it Easier to Steal You…last_img read more

Technologies Redefining In-Store Customer Experience

first_imgAI is Not the Holy Grail of Sales, at Least Not… Related Posts The rate at which customers are shopping online is skyrocketing by the day. The high rate of retail customer defection means that it is now doubly important for brick-and-mortar retailers to enhance the levels of customer experience in-store. A lot of things are being discussed in the global retail arena to achieve this. Ranging from AI to AR and everything in between, there is no denying that the scope and opportunity for in-store enhancement are here. But as you redefining in-store customer experience — are you being cool or being creepy?Although there is a lot that can be done, retailers must keep in mind what it is precisely what their customers want. Wowing customers when they enter the retail store is one thing — making them feel invaded is something completely different. As recent findings suggest, there is a difference between the cool and the creepy.Redefining in-store customer experience — being cool or being creepy.All the premium talks of the modern-day customers’ innate love for technology and automation, there is a certain line that retailers must not cross. Customers don’t mind embracing technology if it makes their shopping journey convenient, or provides them a one of a kind in-store experience. The problem starts when technology gets too invasive.Customer data enables retailers to curate customized offerings for each customer. What customers worry about is data privacy and security. Similarly, there is no denying the marvels that artificial intelligence empowered chatbots are. However, when it comes to customer service, a lot of people can have that connect only with a human being. The whole idea of computer programmed bots emulating humans might seem creepy to them as well. It’s not about how right a specific technology might be — it’s still about what percentage of people can willfully adapt and be comfortable with the technology that matters. What is comfortable is especially the exact point in retail.The following chart clearly identifies what customers treat as cool and creepy when it comes to retail technology. The above chart is a fair indication of what people generally are comfortable with and the impact on the in-store experience for customers.Note: This chart data was provided to eMarketer by RichRelevance.Methodology: Data is from the June 2018 RichRelevance “Creepy or Cool 2018: 4th Annual RichRelevance Study.” 1,037 US internet users ages 18+ were surveyed online in May 2018. RichRelevance is an omnichannel personalization company.Let’s look at a few areas in retail technology that are certainly having an impact on customer in-store experience.1) Robots & Drones.Customer service is one thing that can help brands and retailers score high brownie points in their quest to attain customer loyalty. Robots in retail certainly have the capability to wow customers in the store, at the same time, be un-invasive.Generally robots have been known to optimize business processes along the supply chain by improving productivity in distribution warehouses. But now they have their work cut even inside retail stores.From the essential meeting and greeting customers to keeping track of stock inventory, the use cases of robots are pretty extensive. Robots can now also be used in store to detect hazards like spills and spoilage.Retailers are also looking to install drones in a store that can keep track of misplaced product on shelves and stock inventory. The whole idea is to ensure that the human personnel inside the store are always at the beck and call of customers.Customers don’t appreciate it if they don’t get proper assistance in stores. Human personnel must be available at all times. Coupled with the expert assistance of drones and robots will mean that customers are always engaged. The overall in-store experience of customers can be elevated as a result. 2) AR & VRAugmented and Virtual Reality is making all the right sounds across the globe as digital marketers look to leverage its power to fulfill their branding and marketing ambitions. Most of us are aware of how we can just put on a pair of VR headsets and enjoy a walk at the Great Wall of China, all from the comfort of our living rooms. When it comes to retail, much of the same is possible. People can now wear their headsets to scroll through the online stock and get an idea of how the model or mannequin would look in a particular dress.When it comes to furniture shopping and interiors, VR and AR can genuinely elevate customer experience to a whole new level. Through AR, people can now get an idea of how particular furniture would look at their home, whether it would fit properly in the available space, how different colors would look against the wall, etc. through their mobile phones. Brands like Ikea and Macy’s have already started extensive adoption of the technology.So where does it leave physical retail stores? On the one hand, in-store retailers are planning to flood stores with robots to increase customer engagement. On the other, technologies such as AR and VR are further re-instating the fact that going to a physical store can be done without. It is quite the predicament for sure. Well, physical retailers have no choice but to adopt AR and VR in-store as well.The first thing that comes to mind is smart mirrors. Although they are not entirely new to the equation, the voice assistant upgrades are sure to make it more engaging. Smart mirrors allow customers to virtually try out apparels before deciding the one to purchase. Based on what customers are wearing, these mirrors can also recommend alternatives to customers.Apart from mirrors, retailers can also augment the store ambiance by installing digital shelves that will display digital product description and demo videos. Despite the surge in online shopping technology, as long as retailers keep the store up to the latest digital standards and lay enough emphasis on retail graphics, people will keep hitting the doors.3) Cashier-less check out.One of the biggest reasons people generally get frustrated inside a retail store is when they realize they need to queue up. People don’t have the time for a long wait at the check-out counter, and after online, there is no good reason why they should. Retailers must understand that extended check-outs can convince people not to bother going to the store. They absolutely need to devise faster check-out mechanisms, especially now that everyone’s emulating Amazon Go; at least the check-out bit.Cashier-less checkouts would mean that people would have to make their payment within an app digitally or through a fingerprint device, or even through one of the kiosks. But, who wants to be fingerprinted? Faster check-outs mean faster shopping. Time is at a premium, and customer convenience is the key. Automated, cashier-less checkouts are the future.TakeawayIn-store customer experience is one thing that every brand and retailer is aiming to enhance to remain a force to reckon with against their online counterparts. It’s not just about implementing any technology to boost marketing endeavors, but adequately understanding which the ones that their customers want are. Talking about the road ahead, there is no doubt that technology will continue to make in-roads in every industry, including retail.Retailers must leverage the power of technology to stay at a competitive advantage. However, a proper analysis of their customers and their expectations will only make it easier for them to adopt or implement a particular technology in their marketing strategy. What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … Aditya, through his company Digital Polo, has reached the zenith of brand-design expertise by delivering true value to brands & marketers. He believes that every brand deserves to unlock its true branding prowess. Through Digital Polo, he aims at comprehensively serving the same. Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Aditya KathotiaFounder & CEO of Digital Polo Follow the Pucklast_img read more

Moto M to launch in India today, may cost less than Rs 20,000

first_imgLenovo today is going to add another Moto phone, Moto M in India. The Moto M was launched in China last month and since India has been an important market for Moto it is coming to the country today. The phone was first launched at CNY 1,999 in China, which roughly translates to Rs 20,000. The company teased its launch in India on its Moto India twitter handle.Also Read: Motorola Moto Z review: The most underrated phone of 2016 Interestingly, the phone sports a full metal unibody design and is water resistant like the Moto G4 and G4 plus. The design is also quite similar with a rounded back and a 5.5 inch Full HD display in front; the same Octa core snapdragon 617 chipset and 3000mAh battery. So the major difference then remains with the fingerprint sensor placement.This may have come in response to many Moto fans and critics who pointed out that front button is a useless addition when on-screen home and back keys are the given way of navigation. It is like a home button that you can’t press and that is annoying at times. Then there was the plastic build, both on Moto G4 and G4 Plus that became a fodder for further analysis.Motorola (yeah Lenovo) fixes these things with Moto M. It had to be announced in India. The fingerprint sensor is placed at the back, the build is all metal (and water resistant), the RAM is upgraded to 3GB/4GB and the storage to 32GB/64GB. Then, there is a higher resolution 16megapixel camera in the rear with 1micrometer pixel size. It almost enters the Moto Z league.advertisementIts Metallic. Its Marvelous. And it could be yours very soon. Coming soon on Flipkart! #SomethingMagnificent pic.twitter.com/WccEK8AcLg Flipkart (@Flipkart) December 8, 2016Though, hinting from the China price, the Moto M will also carry a bigger price tag. And that also kind of jeopardizes the pricing of Lenovo smartphones that always manage to carry heftier specs. The Lenovo Z2 having Snapdragon 820 would actually cost the same.That said however, Moto phones grab an edge over its Lenovo counterparts by offering clean stock interface and water resistance with a curvier design. Like you, we are eagerly waiting for the new (read old) Moto design to rise from the ashes, in metal.Also Read: Moto G4 Plus review: Two steps forward, one step backlast_img read more

How Crafters Transformed a Company

first_imgThis guest post is written by Paul Gillin , writer, speaker, and online marketing consultant. Catch Paul speaking at the Inbound Marketing Summit in Boston, MA this October. Register with the code HUB200 and get $200 off the ticket price. If you follow social media marketing closely, you’ve probably heard the story of Fiskars , the Finnish maker of fine cutting tools that has used a private social network to dramatically boost specialty store sales. What’s less well-known is how customer communities have transformed the way this 300-year-old company does business.I wrote about Fiskars’ remarkable community of crafting enthusiasts called the Fiskateers in the introduction to my latest book, Secrets of Social Media Marketing. The company has leveraged this group to take its message to the under-utilized channel of small retailers. Reaching these merchants would have been prohibitively expensive if done by a core marketing team. So Fiskars let its customers do the talking. The result: a threefold increase in year-over-year sales.I recently caught up with Suzanne Fanning, Director of Communications at Fiskars Americas, to see how the program was going. In a word, very well. What I hadn’t understood from earlier interviews was the degree to which quality customer feedback comes to pervade everything the company does. The Fiskateers demonstrate why social media should be thought of as much more than just a marketing program.Some basics: Prospective Fiskateers must fill out an application form to gain entry. While the company rarely turns down applicants, this requirement gives members a feeling of belonging. Once you’re a Fiskateer, you’re special to Fiskars.And boy, are you special! When my wife, a hopeless crafting enthusiast, heard about this program, she immediately applied. A few months later, the company invited her to a local member meeting. Some 30 Fiskateers spent an entire day swapping techniques, trying out new tools and generally bonding with each other. Dana came home that day laden down with hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise. It’s safe to say she will be a Fiskars customer for life, and she’s not shy to share her enthusiasm.More Than a WebsiteThe company does plenty of live events at the local and national level to connect members with each other and with Fiskars. Its overarching goal isn’t to sell more scissors as much as to “have that emotional bond with consumers,” Fanning told me. “Customers didn’t have that bond with Fiskars the company, but scrapbooking and crafting is a very personal and intimate thing. We wanted to tap into that and say “We understand. We get you.”The meeting Dana attended was hosted by two Fiskars representatives, one from communications and the other from engineering. In fact, nearly every meeting of the Fiskateers now involves someone on the product development side. The value of the Fiskateers as a driver of product innovation was the great unexpected dividend of the whole program, Fanning said.At first, people on the business side resisted the idea of bringing customers into the product development process. There are competitive concerns, and frankly, engineers aren’t known for inclusiveness.Once the dialogue began, however, that resistance quickly melted. “We started with small projects to make Fiskateers feel like they were giving input and quickly they realized we were getting fabulous insight,” Fanning said. “They really wanted a voice in our company.”Speak, Customer!That voice of the customer now pervades nearly everything Fiskars does. Fiskateers are polled for advice early in the development process and the group has even taken responsibility for naming some new products. Engineers, who initially doubted the value of the community, renamed themselves the “Fiskaneers.”Fiskars now channels most of its first-line market research through the group, saving money and time. It no longer conducts expensive focus groups. Research has shown that the Fiskateers almost perfectly reflect the larger community of crafting enthusiasts.Fanning remembers one product manager who approached her looking for ideas for new shapes to head to the company’s line of cutting templates. Fanning posted the request to the Fiskateers and gathered 70 good ideas within 12 hours.Next LevelWith a hit on its hands, Fiskars is running with it. Some Fiskateers have been qualified as official product demonstrators. A new website now lets members submit and rate ideas for new products. Product managers hold live chat sessions to get feedback. Vendors of sewing machines and magnifying glasses devices have offered to buy advertising on the site.The lesson: social media is about much more than marketing. Anyone who touches or serves customers in any way can benefit from a closer relationship with those people. Recent McKinsey research revealed that a majority of companies that have bought into Web 2.0 marketing are finding benefits in other areas of their organization. Many say social media is changing the way they do business. Just like it has at Fiskars.Not every company can create a community like the Fiskateers, but then again, Fiskars never expected its program to be such a runaway success. Instead of looking for people who were passionate about cutting tools, it focused its energy on people who cared about what you could do with cutting tools. The results were more than a pleasant surprise. The company originally expected to recruit no more than about 200 Fiskateers. It will soon welcome its 6,000th member. Paul Gillin is a writer, speaker and online marketing consultant who specializes in social media. He’s a veteran technology journalist and the author of two books: The New Influencers (2007) and Secrets of Social Media Marketing (2008). Fiskars is an example of the kind of new media success stories the Inbound Marketing Summit will showcase. Discounted Inbound Marketing Summit Pass Marketing thought leaders will converge on Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA, October 7-8. Reserve your place at the conference now . Use the code HUB200 to get $200 off the ticket price. Topics: Social Mediacenter_img Originally published Sep 9, 2009 8:15:00 AM, updated October 20 2016 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

5 Tips to Improve Channel Partner Lead Generation

first_img – Email is an important part of the lead generation mix. Create a great email marketing campaign with an offer that each partner can send to new leads. Maybe it is a free assessment of a website, or an opportunity to attend a free consulting session. This campaign is to help move leads further down the funnel and to help increase a partners lead-to-customer percentages. Often channel managers have the ability to give marketing funds for offers, so why not provide them the email message to use as well. In a recent conversation with a channel marketing manager I was asked, “What can I do now to get my partners and resellers found?” As with many channel marketing managers, their time is very constrained, but the need to do more lead generation for their resellers is ever present. Additionally, they often talk about how their resellers do a great job once someone is introduced to them, but often their own websites are not helping them bring in new leads. After asking me that question, she said, “I wish I could just give them a few tips to get them started in Inbound Marketing and getting website traction” 1. Identify Longtail Keywords Online marketing is unique for each business. For large businesses that rely on channel partners to sell and distribute products, the online marketing process can be a challenge. With many channel partners across multiple locations, how can a business make sure that partners have the leads they need to help grow the business? brackenb your partners or resellers can quickly optimize their pages . 2. Provide Partners with Lead Generation Offers –  Find 10 keywords that are in the longtail for your services or products and provide them to your resellers and partners to use.  Keywords need to be used in a consistent way on each webpage in the page title, the URL, the page headers and text. By doing the background research and providing a starting point, Photo Credit: 5 Tips For Channel Partner Lead Generation 3. Create a Landing Page Templatecenter_img –  Create an offer such as a ebook or webinar that can be downloaded or accessed from each partner’s website. Maybe your company provides security software and you have a tool that does a quick, free sweep of their network to test for vulnerability. Another option would be to offer a free assessment that will help prospect better understand which product offering best fits their needs. By creating these downloads, you are giving your reseller network an offer they can give visitors that come to their websites. 5. Share Partner Successes –   If one of your partners is finding an offer is converting leads well or a free assessment is leading to more business in the door, let the network know! Inbound marketing may be new, but closing a deal is well understood and anything that drives more business to one partner will help the overall brand and network as well. Share the success! What have you done to help improve inbound marketing for your channel partners? – Create a standard landing page that every reseller can put on their main page of their website to both capture lead data, and provide an offer. 70% of visitors to a website are in the “early stage” of buying. They are not ready to purchase, but are starting to investigate. Instead of having them visit your site and then “drive on”, give them an offer in exchange for collecting some of their information, even if it is just an email address. This will allow you to stay in touch with them via email offers or turn over the lead to your sales team for qualification and follow up. 4.  Develop An Email Template and Campaign Originally published Sep 2, 2010 2:00:00 PM, updated October 20 2016 Topics: Lead Generation 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