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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

24 Feb 2015 9:53 AM
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The current digital age is a boon for businesses wanting to operate across boarders and way beyond any localized or temporal restrictions. With increased opportunities though comes more inherent complexity, and a greater need to wrangle some sort of competitive advantage over a much larger competitive field. The following 10 points are core to our own Affino philosophy in how best to deliver a successful business.

 

Mobile First Approach - As Pew Research reports, people glance at their phones an average of 100 times per day, it is the one device you can guarantee people will always have to hand - it makes total sense therefore that you should choose to maximise returns from that contact potential

 

Responsive Design - In line with the above point, people are increasingly accessing content, media and services via their smartphones. There is no way consumers will download an app for every single retailer or service they use, so you need to rely on a slick responsive-designed business interface which can provide a consistently brilliant interface to your consumers - across every platform / touchpoint

 

Single Customer View / Journey / Omnichannel - this very much dovetails with Responsive Design - which is about providing a superior and seamless journey across different devices and locations, a great example of this is Netflix, where you can start watching a film on your smartphone, then switch up and watch some more on your tablet, then desktop, and finally finish off the last 30 minutes on your Hi-Def big-screen TV

 

Content Filtering - Instead of extensive menu panels leading to different content silos, you publish single streams / feeds of content where the readers can filter down to their desired content by activating selective keyword filters

 

Concinnity - the harmonious bringing together of different parts, often used to describe deep, multi-channel, integrated marketing campaigns, we at Affino apply this to the bringing together of different business units / divisions into a single unified experience / interface

 

Digest - the contemporary world of media is dominated by soundbites and short-form content, you need to be able to serve up easily digested highlights where your consumers can absorb what they need in just a few minutes

 

Automation - there is a lot of talk about Sales and Marketing

... 10 Key Considerations for Digital Businesses Success in 2015
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

19 Feb 2015 10:30 AM
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The perfect logos for me are the ones distilled down to the simplest forms, using the fewest of brush-strokes, and conveying exactly the right sort of meaning to the intended target audience. I have selected 25 of the best examples of this, where the brand values, history, mission statement etc. is perfectly encapsulated and communicated in a single symbol. Some of the symbols on this page are nigh on perfect, some only work fully within certain contexts, and others suffer a little from scaling issues. The perfect brand mark is one that is immediately discernible and understood by whomever views it, and can be used at any size and it any context. The very best logos require no words at all, just a single scalable icon.

 

Here are the pertinent details:

 

Amnesty International - human rights charity’s candle wrapped in barbed wire was inspired by the ancient Chinese proverb - ’It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness’

 

Android - Google marketing team employee Irina Blok came up with android ident within days of ’Android’ platform name being selected, she was supposedly inspired by airport toilet signs; the android remains genderless and nameless, most likely deliberately so

 

Apple - fruit from the biblical forbidden tree, said to represent knowledge and awareness amongst other things, not a bad symbol for the current most powerful / successful business in the world - instantly recognised everywhere and carries a high-worth quality stamp with it

 

Bacardi - dual references to symbolism here - free-tail bats are key agents in the propagation of principal rum ingredient sugar cane - as they are significant pollinators of said plant, as well as protectors as they devour the insects that would otherwise feed on those plants. Bats were also discovered in the rafters of the first Bacardi distillery set up by founder Facundo Bacardí Massó in Santiago de Cuba

 

Bandsintown - Live Gig / Concert discovery / notification service and app - has found the perfect symbol to represent itself - the rock’n’roll mosh-pit ’horns’ salute for which the thumb here forms an obvious ’b’

 

British Rail - one of the many reasons we should bring British Rail back is this best ever representation of railways symbol - two tracks with arrows

... The Most Iconic Brand Identities
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

17 Feb 2015 5:37 PM
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Pew Research reports that people check their smartphones 100 times a day on average. At the same time this current generation’s attention span continues to dwindle (increased ADD). Of course the world is totally over-saturated with media, to an extent that people no longer seem willing to consume any form of media in-depth as it were. This generation of consumers is what I designate ’Skimmers’ - they only consume media superficially really and at great haste.

 

Examples of this include the move away from Albums to Singles and onto the now dominant format of playlists. You could say that Twitter and Snapchat / Vine were also a natural evolution of the Skimmer lifestyle. Hand-in-hand with ’Skimming’ of media, you have the increasingly important role of ’Curation’. It’s as if people need an army of personal assistants to expressly help them to the most pertinent of soundbites. Apps like Yahoo News Digest and The Economist’s ’Espresso’ make a virtue of curation. The idea is that you can absorb the key news and business stories in just 5 minutes - perfect for the busy executives on the move, just waiting to board their plane, train, limo etc.

 

In the world of the soundbite, no one does it better really than the Kings of ’Clickbaiting’ - I mean Buzzfeed of course, who continue to wreak merry havoc on their more traditionally motivated counterparts. The lessons for all media companies really is that they must master the new Short-Form standards to stay relevant. People are no longer prepared to search through an index or scrolling news feed, they want personalised highlights served up to them on a plate. All publications need to take a leaf out of Yahoo’s and The Economist’s approaches and do something similar with their own content. This does not mean the total death of Long-Form, just a a total change in how it is delivered. Companies need to get used to delivering content in incremental soundbites. In jourmalism we all know about the inverted pyramid and how all the essential facts are contained in the first paragraph of an article. News and media organisations will need to evolve new drip-feed methods for disseminating this type of information in the most appealing and easily absorbed formats.

 

Several of my nephews’ and nieces’

... The Rise of Short-Form
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

09 Feb 2015 11:29 AM
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Going beyond the question of ’What is Affino’ to ’What drives Affino?’. The following 10 Characteristics define how we function, and how we work (amongst ourselves and with others) - these are our watchwords. We are a close-knit international team of like-minded, dedicated professionals, who delight in overcoming complex challenges in smart and innovative ways:

 

Collaborative - Working together as a Team, within and without, dovetailing into client organisations and providing complementary skills and expertise - even if just bouncing ideas and sharing challenges with like- sharp-minded peers

 

Conscientious - Duty of Care, Future Safeguards, N+1, Backups, Redundancy, Recovery, Restoration, Scalability - considering everything you need to keep your business running smoothly, safely, securely and confidently

 

Empowering - Power to all staff members, enabling complete control over your digital business, using your existing resources - manpower and otherwise

 

Entrepreneurial - Enabling Small Companies to do big things rapidly and effectively, daily evolution in a sea of change, seizing opportunities and maximising business potential

 

Inquiring - Always asking questions - exactly why is this being done, for whom (all sides), what is its essential purpose and utility, can it be simplified, can some existing asset or functionality be re-purposed with minor modifications, how can it be improved?

 

Passionate - Strong Minds dedicated to their sciences, arts and crafts, with a particular pride in the quality of their work

 

Productive - A single person achieving the output of several, a handful of team members taking on the world

 

Self-Sufficient - Doing more in-house, our mantra for ourselves as well as our customers, The Affino Platform empowers all staff to do more, without the need for external help

 

Systematic - Affino is a complete holistic business platform, it needs to oversee and manage all functions seamlessly. All functions must be wholly connected to enable full control and utility. Only when you have complete control over all functions can you be in total control of your digital business

 

Visionary - One eye always on the future, the need to keep innovating to meet ever-evolving and future demands. No sector moves faster than the digital domain, where the

... 10 Key Characteristics which define Affino
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

03 Feb 2015 12:23 PM
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As you may have read via this blog approximately five years ago, I found my way to my own little slice of fitness heaven, you can read the whys and wherefore in my earlier ’Nordic Walking is My Fitness Heaven’ post. Last year was a little hectic for me, so not too much Nordic Walking unfortunately, but this year it’s back with vigour.

 

Since my last Nordic Walking blog post, I added one additional piece of equipment, in the form of a Home Versaclimber - which gets a full day’s worth of exercise done in circa 30 minutes. It is very complementary to the Nordic Walking - being low impact (i.e. minimal strain on joints and ligaments) as well as a total / full-body workout. With Nordic Walking you are mostly pushing away and down with your arms, on the Versaclimber you are pulling up, as if scaling a particularly steep slope / cliff-face. I usually do Nordic Walking and Versaclimbing on alternate days.

 

It is quite remarkable how little my core kit for Nordic Walking has evolved, I’ve only changed out the gloves - for ones with touchscreen ability, and my iPhone is obviously the current model (6 Plus if you must know). Mostly as per the above visual (Note discrepancies with scale!) my current kit has remained largely unchanged for five years (bar wearing out a few pairs of Salomon trainers of course):

 


Nordic Walking Gear

From Top to Bottom:

 

Sticks!: Leki Carbon Traveller Pro - Still brilliant, lightweight yet incredibly strong with smart shark trigger release, although I go through possibly too many rubber powergrip pads (as many as half a dozen in a good year / roughly every other month)

 

Headphones: Sennheiser MM 100 - Lightweight, bluetooth, neckband-style, great sound quality, supremely comfortable, leak just enough noise for you to be aware of your immediate environment (cars and cyclists)

 

Music Box!: 128GB iPhone 6 Plus - mostly filled with music, but serves other roles too - such as pace / distance / step monitoring / maps etc.

 

Shades: Rudy Project Magster - Lightweight, photochromatic, perfect fit, keep out various airborne contaminants as well as sunlight

 

Hooded Jacket: Paramo Limited Edition Halcon (Navy) (I have both versions) - All-Conditions, weatherproof, breathable marvel of a jacket, stands up to pretty much everything bar the most excessive and

... 5 Year Nordic Walking Fitness Regime Review
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

29 Jan 2015 11:38 AM
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A recent article on the Media Briefing quotes chief digital officer Alceo Rapagna of Italy’s RCS Media Group, who states that traditional sources of revenue are still shrinking and likely to continue to dwindle. RCS Media Group is already diversified into TV, newspapers, magazines and book publishing, yet this is still not considered sufficient to safeguard the group’s future.

 

For me a great counter-point is the growth of alternative media services such a Vice, Newsy, Buzzfeed and even Yahoo’s twice daily ’News Digest’ app. The ongoing international success of Buzzfeed certainly should not be ignored. Publishers are having to think increasingly smarter, not only in how they create / source their content, but really how it is contextualised, packaged and delivered. Social Media sharing is proving to be increasingly important, and the high number of shares Buzzfeed continues to get is causing consternation for most mainstream media owners.

 

YouTube is still a runaway video media success, and even though many don’t consider its core mechanic, most of the high volume traffic is largely down to crowd-sourced content. I have always advocated the view that self-fuelling crowd-sourced media outlets were the future of much of publishing. Think of fanzines which are almost entirely populated by their membership. There is still a need for some degree of editorial control - in how best to organise, package, display and deliver said content, but far less needs to be actually originated in-house as such. If you want to continually keep things fresh and interesting, it’s as well that you tap into what’s happening organically and virally.

 

Buzzfeed and Daily Mail have shown just how international an appeal content can have - on my Facebook feed, I get the same articles being shared and liked again-and-again over a period of several years, translated and transmogrified across different mediums and re-shared, re-distributed and liked and promoted all over again.

 

The digital / mobile world is a truly international medium, I have friends in all continents, and follow them, as well as all manner of artists, celebrities and opinion-leaders across languages, international boundaries and time-zones. I have long protested the ridiculousness of staggered releases of media - whether digital or printed

... All Publishers need to look to Diversification and Internationalisation in 2015
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

23 Jan 2015 12:05 PM
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Hieroglyphs, Pictograms and Insignia have been with us in some form from the earliest of our sapient ancestors, as featured in some of the earliest recorded cave paintings. They are an essential part of communication, used for marking territory and in the running of this modern world. We encounter them as a sometimes subtle, though typically an overt and constant barrage of marks, instructions, labels and alerts.

 

A cursory glance over the above sets of icons reveals a multitude of squares, rectangles and triangles alongside some slightly more abstract and curved forms. There is a spine of circles straight down the middle, and the icons are arranged in rows of themed families.

 

One of the most ubiquitous encounters you have with icons is on the home screen of your smartphone, where pretty much all smartphones now use a nigh identical set of symbols to represent the key functions. The two top rows above represent icons typically found on smartphones with juxtaposition between modern and traditional symbols as well as using variations to serve the same purpose while achieving subtle differentiation.

 

Row 3 should be familiar to all car owners, but hopefully not seen that often - bar the On-switch. The penultimate row has roots in the old reel-to-reel tape decks of the 1920’s, and should be obvious to anyone who has ever operated a cassette player, CD player or DVD player. The final row features common public signage which should be part of most people’s daily lives.

 

Pretty much all shapes convey some inherent meaning, the earliest written languages were based on pictograms. Most shapes have multiple meanings, even on occasion contrary ones. The best symbols are those instantly recognisable as stand-alone icons, many more though need a specific context or sequence to convey their function. Certain well-known symbols can even be co-opted and corrupted, as was the case with the Gammadion Cross / Swastika which was a sacred symbol for auspiciousness in Hinduism used for a few thousand years before the Nazis got their hands on it.

 

When we design brandmarks, we are always looking to convey meaning and inherent values in the symbols we choose, something that can be instantly recognised and has the right sort of traction with the intended target audience. Symbols form a significant part of a larger visual

... The Art and Science of Symbolism and Iconography
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

21 Jan 2015 1:49 PM
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There have been a large number of articles in the past couple of months pitching and debunking the different angles on Sales and Marketing Automation (SMA). For most companies SMA means adding yet another layer of software / systems on top of an already highly complex suite of solutions. Most articles conclude that Sales and Marketing Automation is really only for the largest of companies, that it is not practically viable for small to medium enterprises.


One of the key things we at Affino do is to declutter and demistify the process and purpose of digital business / commercial website ownership. Affino’s Seamless Holistic Solution has SMA built into the core of the system, alongside CMS, Ecommerce, Community and Analytics. The truth is that modern business / digital business is highly complex and without a singular system like Affino, it is almost impossible to manage properly.


A key myth for any website or digital business is that these things entirely run themselves. What you have in reality though is an engine, and we are talking about the difference between a steam engine and a modern computer-controlled one. The analogy is really about the change in focus from shovelling coal to fine-tuning where the engine takes you and how. With modern digital businesses systems like Affino, you still have to fuel and fine-tune them, but your resources are spent on making the journey more enjoyable versus just ensuring that the engine runs.


What does Sales and Marketing Automation deliver for all companies?

  • Effectiveness - Modern Marketing including Growth Hacking is highly complex and active across dozens of different mediums and contact points, you simply cannot track and action everything manually
  • Efficiency - With Affino, a single person can accomplish the actions and activities of an entire team or small division
  • Scale - Target, track and respond to millions of activities
  • Reach - Modern Business and the Internet is truly Global, you have untapped customers around the world
  • Scope (24/7) - Every business has limited operating / office hours, yet customer interest can be aroused at any time


The 7 Essential Principal Parts of Affino Sales and Marketing Automation

  1. Customer Ladder - Sales and Marketing Automation is core to Affino, as part of the Automated Customer Ladder, it ties in with every activity and every contact point of your digital
... The Real Deal of Affino Sales and Marketing Automation
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

13 Jan 2015 2:15 PM
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For most companies and organisations January is the time you review the previous year’s performance and start preparing yourself for the year ahead. It’s usually evident by now which areas need attention and what needs to be put in place for a more successful future. Most companies suffer from a degree of seasonality - where certain months of the year yield significantly lower revenues than others. In certain industries even, the Christmas period can be responsible for as much as 80% of the year’s turnover. It is critical therefore to be properly set up for the year - so that you can take best advantage of peak times and weather the droughts between. The following overview is a quick checklist:

 


Finances

  • Reserves - Keeping a small but significant portion of funds saved for emergencies, prudent fiscal policy
  • Cash Flow - The bane of many a small company - ensuring you have disciplined procedures in place in order to be paid in a timely fashion - fines for late payment, beneficial terms for swift payment etc.
  • Facilities - Overdraft, Factoring, Short-term Loans - essential services for seeing you through the leaner times of the year
  • Investment - Significant inflow of funds - usually to cover some form of expansion - be very careful what you give away for a stake in the company though, it is absolutely essential to attract the right sort of investor - someone who is in it for the long-term and does not put short-term gain above everything else

 


Human Resources

  • Growth - Adding staff to cope with / take on additional work - key criteria is compatibility with existing workforce over everything else
  • Pruning - Ensuring that the organisation is properly lean and harbours no ’passengers’
  • Replacements / N+1 - Most companies and organisations suffer some degree of churn or absences, things like maternity leave and sick days etc, need to be factored in as well as key staff holidays

 


Collateral / Consumables

  • Sales - Essential Sales Materials - Sales Presenters / leave-behinds, Presentations and other Face-to-Face materials, Price lists, Case Studies etc.
  • Marketing - Brand Maintenance, Newsflow, Social Media, Growth Hacking
  • Events - Trade Shows, Customer Events, Co-hosted Partner Events and Round-tables
  • Stationery / Supplies - Everyday office consumables - most companies need the basics of business
... January Business Fitness Check
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Markus
Posted by Markus

06 Jan 2015 12:50 AM
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2014 saw some great new developments for Affino. Many of the developments happened outside of the product side, key highlights being growing our revenues by 70%, focusing on the Affino brand so everything about us is now Affino, and growing the team by 50% with great new team members. We also made significant leaps forward within the UK media space, of which we’ll be able to tell and show you much more over the coming months.

 

Affino’s growing footprint meant that we’ve evolved how we develop and deliver the Affino Service. The main change has been to create two delivery streams, one focused on developing the core Affino platform and a second focused on delivering Affino services and working with our clients to build out their digital businesses. It has taken some effort, but the benefits will be felt by everyone in 2015.

 

2014 saw the smallest number of Affino releases yet, with just two major releases, however there were 628 update projects covered and Affino’s ability to let you manage your customer relationships has been completely transformed. As usual it has been hard to pick the top ten updates for the year, however the following are the stand-out ones for me.

 

Responsive Design

 

Although not fully released yet, our main focus for 2014 was again Responsive Design. We have completed the lion-share of the intellectual work behind the new Responsive Design Centre and the new Responsive Page Engine and are now in full-on execution mode. We have multiple responsive design projects under-way and although the new responsive design centre is not available to all, it is being heavily used on a number of projects and live sites. This means that when we do finally release it this year we know it will have a transformative effect.

 

We’re now in year four of Affino’s transition to responsive design, and at every stage we have decided on the harder but better route for Affino. It means that when we finally do release the responsive design centre publicly it will be world class in it’s performance and ability to deliver the next generation in multi-device optimised sites. You will also be able to run both classic and responsive pages alongside each other meaning that you’re not forced to do a big bang shift, giving you the time to make the most of what is going to be possible.

... Top 10 Affino Developments in 2014
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

02 Jan 2015 3:58 PM
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NOTE - this blog post will be updated throughout the year, particularly the Album Release Schedule ...

 

2014 was an excellent year for music all in. Not much rock really, but plenty to get excited about. There are not as many big releases forthcoming in 2015, which seems destined to be the year of the blockbuster movie. Nevertheless there are lots of minor music industry intrigues happening - especially Apple’s imminent launch of iTunes Streaming. There are also a number of new artists exploring interesting diections in 2015 ...

 

 

Top 10 Albums of 2014

 

  1. St Vincent - St Vincent
  2. LP1 - FKA Twigs
  3. Goddess - Banks
  4. Cut Your Teeth - Kyla La Grange
  5. Beauty is Pain - Rebecca & Fiona
  6. The Inevitable End - Röyksopp
  7. Chiaroscuro - I Break Horses
  8. Blue - Iamamiwhoami
  9. Kiasmos - Kiasmos
  10. No Mythologies to Follow - Mø

[for a greater selection see Best of the Year 2014 article]

 


Top 10 Tracks of 2014

 

  1. B a NoBody / Blud - Soak
  2. Chandelier (Four Tet Remix) / Free the Animal - Sia
  3. Prince Johnny / Digital Witness - St Vincent
  4. Hideaway / No Enemiesz - Kiesza
  5. Tough Love (Cyril Hahn Remix) / Say You Love Me (Gorgon City Remix)- Jessie Ware
  6. Two Weeks / Pendulum - FKA Twigs
  7. Rather Be / Real Love - Clean Bandit ft. Jess Glynne
  8. Beautiful / Hey QT - A.G. Cook / Sophie
  9. Change / Beggin for Thread - Banks
  10. Do It Again (Original) / Monument (TIE) - Röyksopp and Robyn

[for a greater selection see Best of the Year 2014 article]

 

 

My Top 21 Online Music Discovery Resources (alphabetical)

 

Every day / week I get a number of new release prompts - automated subscriptions from most of the following list. I follow several hundred favourite bands / musicians / DJs on Facebook now and for the last few years these have been the source of a surprising proportion of new likes for me. If you want to check out a known-name band, then it’s difficult to do much better than Last.fm - to check to see if an entire album is worth buying - Spotify or Deezer are essential resources. For more obscure / left-field bands, you can usually find these on SoundCloud or Bandcamp. A very high proportion of these resources focuses on electronic music, which is of course my primary music of choice:

... The Future of Music Online 2015
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

31 Dec 2014 12:29 AM
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Time has come around again to scope out new directions and find some new blood which may just strike it big in the forthcoming 12 months or so. I’ve already discarded some nominations as they featured heavily last year, or have already released a commercial album (you can unleash infinity mix-tapes and still feature!). Anyway, should be something for everyone here from this list of 88 contenders. James Bay seems to be favourite already, and has already picked up the BRIT Critic’s Choice Award. There are 27 here I rate highly, including 7 of the 10 most popular. I typically don’t go for too much folk or guitarry strumming, but if it’s really special it may just strike the right chord. Really impressed with what Ben Khan and Kacy Hill are up to ...

 

Advocates = Amazing Radio, BBC, Deezer, Gigwise, GlobalGrind, Guardian, iTunes, MTV, Spotify

 

x3 etc. = number of backers
+ = rated by Stef!

 


Most Championed Artists

 







  1. James Bay [Contemporary Folky Pop | 2015 BRIT Chritic’s Choice Winner] x7
  2. SOAK [Ethereal Singer / Songwriter] x6 +
  3. Years & Years [Dance-inflected Electronic Pop, tour with Clean Bandit] x6 +
  4. Raury [Singer / Songwriter] x5
  5. Ibeyi [Soulful Percolated Pop] x4 +
  6. Kwabs [Contemporary Soulful Pop] x4 +
  7. Låpsley [Ethereal Electronic Pop] x4 +
  8. Shura [Contemporary R&B-inflected Pop] x4 +
  9. Slaves [Percussive Riff-Rock] x4
  10. Becky Hill [Contemporary Pop] x3
  11. George the Poet [Poetic Lyricist] x3
  12. Laura Doggett [Singer / Songwriter] x3
  13. Rae Morris [Singer / Songwriter] x3
  14. Seinabo Sey [Soulful Pop] x3 +
  15. Sunset Sons [Surf-inspired Pop-Rock] x3

 

Stef’s Top Outsider Picks

 



  • Ben Khan [Deep Electronic Pop] +
  • Kacy Hill [Futuristic R&B] x2 +
  • Tourist [Dance-inflected Electronic Pop] x2 +

 

Full Alphabetical Long List with Advocates

 

  • All We Are [Folky Pop] (Gigwise, Spotify) x2
  • Autobahn [Indie Rock] (Gigwise)
  • Becky Hill [Contemporary Pop] (iTunes, MTV, Spotify) x3
  • Ben Khan [Deep Electronic Pop] (iTunes) +
  • Black Honey [Pop-Rock] (Gigwise) +
  • Blood Diamonds [Electronic / Hip-Hop / Beats] (Gigwise) +
  • Brawlers [Punk-Rock] (Gigwise)
  • Charlotte OC [Singer / Songwriter] (Gigwise)
  • Cheerleader [Pop-Rock] (Gigwise)
  • Chet Faker [Electronic Pop / Downtempo] (Guardian)
  • Circa Waves [Indie-Rock] (Gigwise, iTunes) x2
  • Coasts [Indie-Rock] (
... Sound of 2015 - Key New Artists championed by BBC, MTV, iTunes, Spotify et al
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

29 Dec 2014 12:00 AM
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At the end of every year I run through the highlights of the preceding 12 months, and no matter how much I experience I never catch everything, and not necessarily in the right frame of mind to fully appreciate it. I have been composing this list pretty much since the start of this month, and every day I make some minor tweaks. The top few entries are relatively safe, but there is a lot of movement lower down, as something catches my fancy and forces me to elevate it. As far as music goes, it was always going to take a lot to shake St Vincent from the top of the tree this year, same goes for Star-Wars-level-brilliant Guardians of the Galaxy - the perfect marriage of Sci-fi with humour and 70’s soundtrack. I certainly watched a lot of films and television this year and reacquainted myself with the wonderful world of Anime, mostly courtesy of Crunchyroll...


Best Albums

 

Glastonbury 2014 really switched me on to St Vincent, who’s eponymous album justifiably takes the top seat. I really liked FKA Twigs LP1 too, but expected it to be even better than it turned out. The top 10 features a lot of ’Scanditronica’, while Angel Haze’s debut was my favourite hip-hop long player, ahead of most others’ favourite ’Run the Jewels 2’. Hardly any rock in this year’s chart, which is dominated by electronic music.




  1. St Vincent - St Vincent
  2. LP1 - FKA Twigs
  3. Goddess - Banks
  4. Cut Your Teeth - Kyla La Grange
  5. Beauty is Pain - Rebecca & Fiona
  6. The Inevitable End - Röyksopp
  7. Chiaroscuro - I Break Horses
  8. Blue - Iamamiwhoami
  9. Kiasmos - Kiasmos
  10. No Mythologies to Follow - Mø
  11. Dirty Gold - Angel Haze
  12. Selectadisc - Ronika
  13. New Eyes / NE SE - Clean Bandit
  14. Junto - Basement Jaxx
  15. Little Red - Katy B
  16. Recognise / Unrecognisable - Fred V & Grafix
  17. Tough Love - Jessie Ware
  18. It’s Album Time - Todd Terje
  19. Sound of a Woman - Kiesza
  20. Ultraviolence - Lana Del Ray
  21. Queen of the Clouds - Tove Lo
  22. Faith in Strangers - Andy Stott
  23. Tremors - Sohn
  24. The Future’s Void - EMA
  25. Our Love - Caribou
  26. Lost in the Dream - War on Drugs
  27. Look to your own heart - Lisa Ekdahl
  28. Run The Jewels 2 - Run The Jewels
  29. Wonder Where We Land - SBTRKT
  30. Unflesh - Gazelle Twin
  31. Clark - Clark
  32. Trouble in Paradise - La Roux
  33. Jungle - Jungle
  34. 1000 Forms of Fear - Sia
  35. Xen - Arca
  36. Aquarius - Tinashe
  37. Silkidrangar - Samaris
  38. Compl&
... Best of the Year 2014 - Audiovisual
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Markus
Posted by Markus

24 Dec 2014 1:32 PM
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2014 has been a real roller coaster year. There have been lots of scares with Ebola topping the list, catastrophic regional wars, more extremist organisations and politics, more suppression of the public globally, wholesale spying on all of us, cookie armageddon, and yet at the same time the world feels a better place.

 

We had the World Cup, oil came down in price, the world economy started to pick up, Europe stabilised, and in the UK we managed to have a great summer and stay together as a single nation with our Scottish buddies.

 

As always the tech world rolled ahead, personal highlights were the new iPhone 6 Plus ... best thing since sliced bread, and a taste of what Android phablet users have had for a few years now. Uber pickups, buying everything online is just so much easier, and thanks to Dark Sky I now know when it’s about to rain before it gets to me.

 

This has been another storming year for Affino and the Affino community. We’ve had great times rolling out the new IMRG Benchmarking site, many more great enhancements to Procurement Leaders, and all the other great projects we’ve worked on. We launched the stellar Affino 7.5 CRM Edition which makes life that bit better. Not to mention we’re now working with great teams including Briefing Media / Farmers Guardian, Humanity Direct, Travel Trade Gazette, and now Mash Media.

 

2015 is going to be an amazing year for the Affino community, given everything that we’ve got lined up and we can’t wait to share it with you.

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Markus
Posted by Markus

24 Dec 2014 12:49 PM
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The Affino CRM is very capable but there’s a certain amount of effort required to set it up and get the most out of it, as there is with all CRMs. Unlike the majority of CRMs, Affino gives back much more than you put in, so each Account or Contact created, when coupled with a Customer Ladder, Conversion Events, Conversion Funnels, Message Campaigns, Social Integration and Landing Pages gives a massive return on your effort. We have created a guide here for those on Affino Support.

 

Affino provides great insight into all your engagement campaigns; instant notifications of key prospecting events; customer self-service and profile updates; social population of profiles and social invites, along with all the CRM stats and reports you need.

 

Below are the key steps you’ll want to go through (in the right sequence) to set up the CRM. There are lots more elements to explore once you get going. There are also many more guides to help you with setting up the store, running message campaigns, setting up security and starting off with the Customer Ladder which will also be useful for you during this process.

 

Note also that you must update to the Affino 7.5.1 + release as it includes minor improvements, chief of which is combining many of the setup profiles into a single CRM Profile screen. You also will simply not see all the CRM screens until you update as we tightened up on the security aspects.

 

CRM Navigation

One of the great things you will notice in this release is that there is a dedicated CRM tab on the Control Navigation. Simply switch across to this and you’ll immediately be able to search all your contacts, accounts, contracts, opportunities, tasks and notes. You will also have instant access to most of the key CRM tools.

 

CRM Security

Most of the CRM is secured under one of the three following rights: Community Manager, Sales and Contract. Community Manager for the Contact screens, Sales for the Opportunity and Account screens and Contract for the Contract and financial screens.

 

Main Account

The starting point is to set up the Main Account. Simply go to Accounts and add the Account for your company (if you haven’t done so already).

 

Users

You will then need to select / add the key members of your team to the Account as these will be required when you’re setting up

... Getting started with the Affino CRM
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

18 Dec 2014 11:07 AM
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Online Christmas Shopping for 2014 has been marred by a series of failures in delivery, which has given an unexpected boon to the high street. Date-wise - it is at that time of year for me, when I no longer risk shopping online - even as an Amazon Prime Member. I’ve noted this year with Amazon Prime, that with the inclusive delivery service I am getting diminishing returns. Used to be when Prime first started, I pretty much received everything the day after I ordered, now it’s often 2-3 days after order, with some of the Christmas gifts taking more than a week to arrive. I’m not exactly sure what has happened here, but mostly it’s no more than a 50:50 guarantee of next day delivery for Amazon Prime, which is a significant drop in service for me. A few years ago I had a Christmas gift or two go missing in the post from Amazon, nowadays at least they typically do turn up, but they seem to be taking significantly longer to arrive.

 

I pop into Central London and Westfield most weekends, and happened to be in town at one of the busiest times of year - the weekend after Black Friday. I’ve often levelled criticism at the not long recently renewed trimmer HMV at 363 Oxford Street, which - with its low ceilings and too many squeezed-in display-stands was a tight fit at the best of times. On the weekend in question, the queues on the ground floor / entry level very pretty much out the door and you were quite unable to navigate through the aisles - one of those moments which makes you run home to shop online.

 

From the comfort of your lounge chair, there is none of the hustle and bustle which typifies an in-store Christmas shopping experience, you do have the haunting spectre of uncertainty though - both in terms of availability and delivery. Amazon for instance has seen a huge increase in Marketplace products - many of which are now coming from the continent, so that unless you read the fine-print very carefully, you are frequently not aware where the product is coming from, both my brother and I have been caught out by this. I mentioned in an earlier blog post this year, how a significant challenge for high street retailers was the task of consolidating their online and in-store inventories, to give customers a better idea of stock availability. As a prime example of this - for the past couple of weeks nearly all the

... Christmas Shopping 2014 - Online and In-store
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

12 Dec 2014 12:20 PM
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Following on from Spain’s recent introduction of a ’Google Tax’ - compelling Google to pay Spanish publishers for any references included within their wholly advertising-free Google News listings, Google has decided to pull that service from its Spanish offerings.

 

The only thing that Spanish publishers have achieved by these actions is to punish their own consumers and deny themselves revenues by cutting off the most obvious discovery and referral route available to their content. Had they but heeded the lessons from their German counterparts - where similar actions caused web traffic to leading publications to plummet. One of the main instigators in Germany - ’Axel Springer Group’ was quick to backtrack when they realised the obvious and foolish consequences of their actions - hitting them square on their bottom line.

 

It’s so obvious who’s behind the latest EU motions to attempt to curtail Google activity. Google has every justification in pulling its services from countries which are that short-sighted and are outweighing the benefits of the many for the sake of the financial interests of a few leading industry lobby groups. As I have posted recently, publishers who invested too little and too late in the new technologies cannot rightly be seeking to penalise those who had the good judgement and foresight to see where the market was heading. Will the EU next introduce first-mover-advantage-tax to penalise those pioneering companies - the whole thing smacks of protectionism to me?

 

Those countries most active against Google and Amazon are the ones who have typically migrated the slowest towards new Internet-enabled technologies - these recent activities are looking more and more like a tax on innovation...

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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

09 Dec 2014 12:32 AM
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Our Danish cousins at Lego really know how to push the boat out! It looks like Christmas 2014 is going to break all manner of records for Lego. 2014 all in all has been a bumper year for them, lots of excellent sets across all the different themes - with particularly strong Movie and TV tie-ins, all the usual fantastic console games and apps, and now a blockbusting Hollywood movie also!

 

A recent BBC article once again tries to cast aspersions on the creative impact of Lego, as the majority of sales now come from pre-packaged sets with detailed instructions. As any kid will tell you though, you likely only build to the instructions the first time around - before you go off and customise / re-build and even combine sets to create something entirely new and different. You also have all those original bucket brick sets anyway for freestyle building - so you can build whatever you like in any case - all that old fashioned traditional stuff is still there fully intact - you just have lots more choice nowadays.

 

For the past few years we have treated everyone at our company Christmas dinner with some mini Lego kit or other - usually Lego Technic, and what you learn is at the very least the following:

  • An Eye for detail - careful consideration that everything goes in exactly the right place
  • Spatial Awareness - appreciation for engineered structures and their relative placement / integration
  • Hand-to-Eye Coordination - the ease and deftness with which you assemble your kit - something our CEO Markus in particular excels at
  • Problem Solving - figuring out what went wrong when final pieces don’t fit - several pieces look very similar but may have very slight variances in depth or colour!
  • Cause-and-Effect - Lego Technic sets are based on sound engineering principles, you genuinely learn how certain engineered structures / components really work

 

The last few years’ Christmas gifts have not been short of a Lego set or two, and this year looks like they are more prevalent than ever. A quick glance on the John Lewis website this weekend showed near enough every Lego Technic set ’out of stock’. I happen to know that John Lewis prioritise in-store inventory, so I dashed into Oxford Street to get what I needed. In the queue for the tills, pretty much every other person was holding one or more items of Lego. Lego itself

... Lego Owns Christmas 2014
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Markus
Posted by Markus

04 Dec 2014 9:01 AM
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The Affino 7.5 release is an instance where the whole is much greater than the sum of it’s parts. Each new feature rolled out in this release is complimentary to the overall goal of creating the most effective Social CRM on the market today. What makes the release so exciting is that Affino now rewards every effort of the Sales / Marketing and Community teams by giving back much more in terms of insight through the connections between the CRM, messaging campaigns, live sites, ecommerce, social spaces and even the social networks themselves.

 

We have spent a great deal of time working through each of the key Social CRM screens and many have been iterated a dozen times to get to the point they are in this release. It means that throughout there are nice features such as the instant Account tagging, Contact Notes, Add to Contact List, Follow-up Tasks, and Campaign Reach which provide that extra to make it easy to get things done quickly and efficiently.

 

We hope you enjoy using the new Affino Social CRM as much as we have in creating it.

Affino 7.5 Mindmap
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Markus
Posted by Markus

04 Dec 2014 9:00 AM
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The Affino 7.5 release elevates Affino to the top of the Social CRM ladder. We have put Sales, Marketing and Community Management teams at the heart of our thinking when developing the new Social CRM hub. Every activity undertaken and insight gained by a team member can be instantly shared; and any activity by the client or prospect instantly triggers conversion events which can feed into any number of engagement campaigns.

 

We have spent time analysing what makes a great CRM, great Sales and Marketing Automation, great Messaging apps and have incorporated all the key elements within Affino 7.5. This has meant filling in all the missing areas, extending all the existing ones and creating a new breed of product which can replace any number of CRM / Analysis / Sales and Marketing automation platforms.

 

The true strength of Affino shines through when you see all of the features working together, delivering maximum performance for every input. There’s much more detail below, and we’re certain that you will appreciate the transformative nature of this release when it comes to engaging with your community and driving business development.

 

Although the main focus has been on the Social CRM, Promotion and Analysis hubs, there are also great updates on the content side with both new and improved article imports, improved workflow inbox and subtly improved publishing tools. The Ecommerce side gets new shipping label printing and UPS Access Point integration. On the Media side we’ve added a new Media Export which lets you export Images from any Media Library, plus we’ve also improved the Media Inbox and now support the Apple file types including Pages, Numbers and Keynote.

 

Where’s Responsive?

Some of you will be wondering where all the responsive elements are in this release. Rest assured, we’re getting close to the initial public responsive design release for Affino. You will notice sites such as IMRG’s E-retail Benchmarking System running on the new Affino responsive engine. We also have a number of other sites currently under development, and great progress is being made. We’re getting close to the Responsive release and will keep you updated via Affino com as it approaches.

 

What you will notice when browsing through the Affino Control Centre are the new references

... Affino 7.5 - The CRM Edition
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