Sandhu Talks Tech and Talent At Summit
Sandhu also stressed that smart companies place a premium on their customers' needs. In the case of Grouplend – which offers three-year personal loans of up to $30,000 at personalized rates that start at 6.3% APR – the firm provides quick answers through algorithms that determine credit worthiness.
"We started our company to give people an alternative to traditional banks, which can be frustrating," Sandhu said. "We felt like there was an opportunity there. We're an exclusively online company, so we have to go deep into data – not just collecting it, but making it actionable. In the same way, companies today need to find out all they can about their customers to service them better."
Sandhu – known as a disruptor in the Canadian market – also argued that some risk-taking is important to really make a difference in business today. Sandhu himself gave up a lucrative finance career to start Grouplend. He followed his passion and suggests all entrepreneurs do the same. "We've gotten traction two or three times greater than what we thought we'd have at this point," he said. "Taking a risk – especially when you see an opportunity – is good."
After his session ended, Counselor caught up with Sandhu to learn more about his approach to business. Click here to see the interview.
Alibaba Exec Keynotes Power Summit
Lee outlined Alibaba.com's trade assurance program, which uses big data to help buyers determine which manufacturers are reputable. The program runs reports offering more sophisticated measures than just a credit history to rank top manufacturers. "This is a 360-degree view that allows us to endorse manufacturers," Lee said. "Buyers can know if a manufacturer has been sued, for example, and whether a manufacturer works with a big brand that already vetted them."
On the issue of patent and copyright infringement, Lee said that Alibaba has a process in place to help identify offenders, though he conceded cases are often challenging and the system "is not perfect." Lee also acknowledged that Alibaba's sites are platforms and won't necessarily intervene or accept full responsibility when defective products are shipped. "We don't touch those products, but we can help facilitate some resolution," he said.
Lee identified two trends Alibaba is seeing on its sites. The first is that orders are tending to be smaller and more frequent. The second is that more international companies are engaging in business dealings. "We're seeing an increasing number of global companies on our platforms – it's up to about 30% that are not from China," Lee said.
Following his session at the ASI Power Summit Canada, in an interview with Counselor, Lee admitted that Alibaba may pursue acquisitions of ad specialty companies in the near and long term if the situation was right. He implied, though, that no purchases were imminent. Lee did speak, however, to the great potential of the ad specialty market, especially if industry companies are willing to sell – not just source – products in Asia. Click here to see Lee's full interview.
Cultivating Creativity In Branding
Pointing to pens, magnets and T-shirts as some of the company's go-to items, Tanna conversely identified items that she'd never OK the BMO logo being used on: "Any sort of mat – because I don't want the logo walked on – and, even though I personally like them, nothing edible like cupcakes or candies decorated with the logo. I don't want the brand being eaten."
Steve Pons, vice president of sales for Top 40 distributor Accolade Promotion Group (asi/102905), which was recently acquired by Staples Promotional Products (asi/120601), works with Tanna and BMO to craft promo-driven campaigns. "When I'm looking at products to show Prabha and her team, I always keep authenticity in mind," Pons said. "Will the products show BMO in the best way possible and convey its core messages of helping and valuing customers and employees?"
Routinely named as one of Canada's Best Places to Work companies, Tanna noted that BMO has a robust diversity program and stringent product safety guidelines in place. "And of course, we're always partial to products that are made in Canada," she said.
Counselor spoke to Tanna after her session to find out more of her promotional ideas. Click here to see the interview.
How Cognitive Diversity Can Elevate Your Business
And one trend of note from Bazile-Jones: "Our studies show that when women hit their 40s, that's when – if they're not totally happy, fulfilled and engaged in their jobs – they'll jump ship to follow their own passions. So, you can expect to see a lot of new female entrepreneurs in the marketplace."
Canucks Creating Memories With Ugly Sweaters
Hockey fans always have wanted ad specialty items that are "about the experience," Raham said, and Millennials are even more that way. "When people think of a typical sports audience, they're picturing older white males, but that isn't the case with today's fans," he said. Canucks fans average about 20 to 30 years old, and there are almost as many women at the games as men.
"These fans don't want to collect a bunch of stuff. They want pieces that commemorate a special moment in their lives," he says, "such as the retirement of a favorite player or a big playoff win." And sometimes, the Canucks marketing team has to do some quick thinking when those special moments happen. One example: A few years ago, the Canuck players turned up at a holiday charity event purposely wearing hideous holiday sweaters. Fans loved it, and photos of the players in their outrageous outfits (picture Rudolph with a blinking nose) went viral. Raham and his team saw an opportunity, and immediately ordered scarves and other apparel featuring the players in their outfits. "People went bananas," he said, "and now these things have become collector's items."
Click here to see an interview with Raham just after his Power Summit talk.
Ad Spending Forecast To Rise In 2016
Per Schonfeld, the top ad category next year will be the automotive industry, which will spend over $44 billion in advertising – a year-over-year jump of 2.8%. Key brands like Ford, General Motors, Honda, Toyota, Nissan and Volkswagen will all spend at least $2 billion on advertising in 2016. Other leading advertisers will include large diversified food companies and the wireless communications industry, which will spend $30.7 billion and $23 billion on ads respectively next year. In contrast, Schonfeld expects the pharmaceutical industry will decrease ad spending by 1.7% next year to $21 billion, a significant reversal compared to past trends.
The industry with the highest average ad-to-sales ratio will be the consumer products sector, which is poised to spend 6.5% of its total sales on advertising in 2016. The communications, products and services sector, along with the computers/software and health-care industries will have ad-to-sales ratios of greater than 3%, as well.
Drawing spending data from publicly reported information, the Schonfeld report forecasts ad spending and accompanying ratios for more than 5,000 companies across 320 industry segments.
Social Media Increasingly Influences B2B Sales
"We've found that consistent use of social media has humanized our brand, making it more accessible to both end-users and prospective partners," said Kathy Cheng, president of Redwood Classics Apparel (asi/81627). "We use platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest to share our voice and mission to sustain Canadian manufacturing with the world. When we make a case for the importance of reshoring, we also make a case for our company's value proposition."
Furthermore, the study showed that social media's influence on the sales process is growing. KiteDesk revealed that 64% of B2B sales pros had closed at least one deal due to social media usage in 2014, up from 54% in 2012. Meanwhile, about 25% of sellers said they closed six or more deals last year; only 11% said the same in 2012. Tellingly, about seven out of 10 reps who exceeded quota in 2014 reported that they closed at least one deal as a direct result of social, while 41% said they closed six or more.
"We've unquestionably seen an uptick in sales as a result of our social media efforts," said Alex Morin, executive vice president of sales & marketing at Debco (asi/48885). "Each channel is a means of communication. Whenever you can communicate with a customer over their preferred platform, you increase the prospect of delivering your message in a meaningful way."
The survey from KiteDesk is far from the only research to suggest that social media is becoming a more integral component of B2B sales. A November 2014 study from Huff Industrial Marketing and KoMarketing Associates found that nearly 60% of B2B buyers in America use social media as part of their vendor discovery process. Similarly, a worldwide poll from SAP discovered that 35% of B2B purchasers used social media and blogs to research products and vendors.
"Social media encourages conversations with consumers and companies around the world," said Cheng. "These are conversations that we never would have had five to ten years ago. When face-to-face contact isn't possible, social media is our greatest asset."
Promocatalyst Welcomes New Distributors
The support allows distributors to spend additional time with existing customers, while identifying new prospects, as well as qualifying for preferred group pricing. For more information, visit www.promocatalyst.net.
Gemline Appoints Stephen Graham
"We are very fortunate to add Stephen to the Gemline sales team," said Ted Simpson, national sales manager for Gemline. "He is an experienced, well-respected sales professional with established relationships with key customers in the B.C. market." Contact Stephen Graham at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE BIGGEST INDUSTRY SHOW OF THE SUMMER
ASI Show® Chicago, July 14-16, in the West Building of McCormick Place, is right around the corner. This is the perfect time to get fresh ideas and meet new suppliers to help you prepare for your all-important fourth quarter. This three-day schedule will help you build valuable partnerships while keeping up with important industry trends and news.
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