It is wholly inevitable that more and more of your business will be ongoingly transacted via mobile devices. With Pew Research reporting that people glance at their smartphone 100 times or more each day, it’s in your best interests that some of those glances are connecting with your own business. Mobile ecommerce is taking an ever bigger share of the retail sector, as highlighted by IMRG’s monthly e-Retail Sales Index. Most of the financial services industry, including banking and insurance is almost entirely online. In fact you would struggle to find a sector which has not been impacted by the shift first to online, and latterly to mobile devices.
The possibilities for what manner of business you can run and transact digitally are almost limitless, most companies have several different revenue streams which can lead to a degree of inherent complexity in operations. A typical mid-sized business runs its key sales and marketing activities via a centralised CRM or ERM system. Often based around SalesForce, this is then integrated into mailing clients like MailChimp, a separate CMS / blogging system, separate ecommerce system, alongside a myriad of communications, ad management systems, social media, analytics etc.
Scope of Digital Business Delivery
The following are some of they key activities you might wish to deliver digitally:
Advertising / Campaigns / Promotions
Content & Media Feeds
Ecommerce & Digital Retail - Selling both digital and solid goods
If you’ve walked past Selfridges recently you may have noticed that all the window displays are based on the theme of ’Agender’ - in essence the contemporary way of saying ’Unisex’. That is to say clothing and accessories which have been specifically designed with uniform appeal - to appeal equally to both / all genders, whatever your PC persuasion may be.
If we go back far enough in history - say to Greek and Roman times, by and large there was not a huge disparity between what the genders wore. The toga/tunic-style robes were worn by both genders, and both could be determined rather frock-like in appearance. As time has passed though, quite specific gender-biased clothing arose, initially with men’s hosiery and then pantaloons / trousers - where women were encouraged to wear ’more feminine’ and specifically ’dress-like’ constructions. Never was this more evident than in the Victorian age where men were expected to wear very stiff and formal suits (slimline), while women were expected to wear these enormous meringue-like / bird-cage constructions - bustles et al.
Clothing has often been tied into political movements and the state of a particular social group’s empowerment and freedom of action. One of the most universal of clothing items - the denim jeans, has been a uniquely empowering article - bestowing great freedoms upon the wearer. Jeans have now almost reached a level where they are universally acceptable attire, at least in the western world. There are yet still echelons of society and certain cultures which view jeans as overly casual and associate them with libertine ways and loose morals!
Yves Saint Laurent further addressed the balance of gender when he introduced the ’Le Smoking’ tuxedo suit for women back in 1966. Yves popularised and made it socially acceptable for women to wear that last bastion of menswear - the formal trouser suit. It can be argued that Marlene Dietrich was one of the earliest drivers / influencers for women wearing what had been determined then to be very much menswear / masculine. Since that time though - Grace Jones, K.D. Lang, Tilda Swinton and Janelle Monae have further harnessed the formerly male silhouette in their chosen style of wear.
From the other side, we have pop-cultural pioneers David Bowie and
By all accounts yesterday’s state-of-the-industry briefing on privacy tools was well received by all who attended. (Event Details)
Some of those who weren’t totally wide-awake at the start were suitably stirred when Markus raised the potential of operating systems such as Apple’s iOS / OSX actually incorporating such privacy features into their core system. Many will still recall Apple’s campaign against Flash, and its subsequent introduction of Apple Ads. Apple will undoubtedly see this as an opportunity to gain yet more control over its users’ ecosystem under the premise of better user protection. Such a move would undoubtedly shut out some of the leading 3rd party service providers, advertising and otherwise.
You can download the full presentation in PDF format: here
If you require further insights and advice on this subject please don’t hesitate to contact our CCO Jonathan Collins email@example.com | 020 3393 3240
We are currently living through the second golden age of comics, their influence is everywhere, and never has more money been generated by this industry - whether through actual comics and books, film or TV tie-ins or the widest possible range of toys, merch and memorabilia. There are 3 big annual conventions in London, and this one (LSCC) seeks to distinguish itself by being overwhelmingly about the actual comic books and the artists and authors that make them.
I’ve read comics all through my life, from English Beano, Dandy, Viz, Commando, Starblazer and 2000AD, through French and Belgian - Adventures of Alix, Asterix, Lucky Luke, Smurfs, Tin Tin etc. through a variety of American mainstream and indy from Mad to Heavy Metal, Marvel, DC and CrossGen, through to the more mature Image, Vertigo, Top Cow, Avatar, Dynamite, IDW and Dark Horse imprints.
There used to be a time when a successful series relied on stereotypical superheroes - and mostly males, but the current breed are taking comic narratives and art onto wider and higher plains. There’s material on lesbian BDSM (Sunstone), sexual misadventures (Sex, Sex Criminals), and an enormous variety of series covering from the most mundane and low-brow to the highest level existential exploration - traversing every genre and trope, usually along a number of concurrent dimensions and often concurrent titles.
Anyhow, even though there were gangs of colourfully costumed people roaming around the ExCel venue in every direction, and other areas that the show covered, my focus was primarily on ’Artist Alley’ which featured no less than 123 gifted individuals. Living in Central London, my principal comic emporiums are Forbidden Planet, Orbital Comics and Gosh! - all withhin relatively short distance (ish) of each other - so I was pleased also to be introduced to ’A Place in Space’ (APIS)(Croydon) who had the best retail space at the show.
Anyway, onto Artist Alley - where a number of individuals caught my eye, none more significant than genuine legend and genuinely nice guy Ron Marz - who was the chief staff writer at CrossGen when I started reading his work, since then he has worked for pretty much all the major imprints and keeps turning out amazing character-led narratives of the highest order. I spoke to him briefly at this table
Next Tuesday 17th March at the PPA, Affino is leading a briefing and discussion on the impact of privacy tools like Ghostery. Using such utilities on browsers, consumers can effectively turn off all 3rd party cookies, many of which publishers and media organisations are currently relying on to drive revenues via advertising, profiling, personalisation, search, lead generation, promotions and media serving amongst other third party services.
Our CEO Markus Karlsson alongside CCO Jonathan Collins will conduct a brief presentation on the current environment for publishers and media properties, what the challenges, opportunities and solutions are, and this will be followed by some in-depth discussion.
PPA EVENT OVERVIEW
As consumers become increasingly privacy conscious and technologically savvy, are adverts and third party plug-ins on your websites reaching your audience and delivering their revenue potential? What is the real cost of the lost data and how does the increasing adoption of privacy tools diminish the value proposition for publishers, advertisers and users?
Surveys suggest more than 20% of web users are regularly using privacy tools that routinely block cookies and prevent functionality on your website and platforms including delivery of advertising, data capture, analytics, social and other functions.
At this briefing, Markus Karlsson and Jonathan Collins, PPA Associate members Affino, will explore the role of regulation and the tools available to help publishers ensure their content is delivered.
PPA 35-38 New Bridge Street London EC4V 6BW See: Map
This breakfast briefing will run from 9:30 - 11:00 on Tuesday 17th March
Our dynamic duo Markus and JC attended the PPA New Talent Awards last night and were quite overcome by the large number of friendly faces they encountered. All are of the opinion that this was a superb event, so well done to PPA for organising and Lisa Smosarski for hosting. The top picture features ’New Business Journalist of the Year’ Peter Apps (Inside Housing, Ocean Media Group) flanked by our CEO Markus Karlsson and host Lisa - hearty congratulations obviously.
Here is the full list of Winners:
Best Media Owner for New Talent = Haymarket
New Editor of the Year = Phoebe Smith, Wanderlust Magazine, Wanderlust Travel Media
New Team Leader of the Year = Sean Igoe, Advertising Director, Cycling Portfolio, Dennis Publishing
New Section Editor of the Year = Corinne Redfern, Features and Entertainment Editor, Look, Time Inc. UK
New Consumer Journalist of the Year = Andrew Murray, FourFourTwo, Haymarket Media Group
New Business Journalist of the Year = Peter Apps, Business Reporter, Inside Housing, Ocean Media Group
New Consumer Specialist / Customer Journalist of the Year = Daniella Willis, Deputy Editor, Preschool Magazines, Immediate Media Co.
New Art Editor / Director of the Year = Anna Jay, Creative Editor, The Debrief, Bauer Media
New Designer of the Year = Harry Winfield, Junior Designer, Women’s Health, Hearst-Rodale
New Content Strategist of the Year = Leisa Millar, Content Editor, Elle UK, Hearst Magazines UK
New Events Professional fo the Year = Francesca Wilson, Marketing & Events Executive, Immediate Media Co.
New Rising Sales Star = Tessa Webb, Senior Sales Executive, Horse & Hound, Time Inc. UK
New Sales Team of the Year = British Journal of Photography, Aptitude Media
Gamechanger of the Year = Natasha Pearlman, Deputy Editor, Elle UK, Hearst Magazines UK
Best Graduate / Intern of the Year = Viet Train, Junior Designer, InStyle / Marie Claire / Look / Wallpaper, Time Inc. UK
Most Promising Student Journalist of the Year (Postgrad) = Hanna Rose Ewens, City University London
Most Promising Student Journalist of the Year (Undergrad) = Jack Kenyon, Falmouth University
Markus Karlsson CEO on the podium announcing New Business Journalist of the Year nominees and winner
As posted previously, Affino is very proud to support new talent, it is the lifeblood of most creative industries, and a
In the past, Apple has relied on specialist companies to ’bling’ up its devices for the super-rich, who’ll pretty much put down a deposit on anything the slightest bit golden. There are a number of customization companies which will switch out device casings with precious metals and alloys and encrust with precious stones. Apple obviously fancies a slice of that action and has a version of its new Apple Watch due to retail for £13,500 at the end of April. This is pricey for sure, but not nearly as pricey as the £250,000+ mechanical super-watches made by Urwerk, Richard Mille or Greubel Forsey. It is firmly aimed at the city banker though who would be quite happy to splash a similar amount on a Rolex. The major difference is that a mostly hand-made Swiss watch is expected to last for and be handed down for generations, while total battery life and technology obsolescence make an Apple Watch sort of non-functional within 10 years or so...
Apple is using the age old luxury formula of pricing exclusivity - meaning you at least double up your costs of manufacture and then add a zero or two onto the end. It’s something that Hermès has been doing for night on two centuries now. In fact Mulberry customers were confronted by a similar strategy (ex-Hermès executive took the reins) when the average cost of bags pretty much doubled overnight a couple of years ago. Other luxury brands deploy ridiculously expensive variants for sake of aspiration, and to make customers at the lower end of the scale think that they’re getting a slice of something quite improbably out of reach.
Of course when you break down the Apple Watch components and real cost of materials and manufacture, the total is nowhere near the £13,500 mark, and these components are not largely finished and assembled by hand like their high-grade analogue counterparts, it is really just another kind of profiteering. Not that I begrudge Apple its good fortune, but I have to question their humanist and humanitarian credentials. They started off as a small company fighting to compete against enormous super-corporations, they were ’of the people and for the people’ to a large degree. This year saw Apple post the largest ever recorded quarterly profits of no less than $18 billion dollars (funnily 18 is also the quoted hours
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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:
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
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
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.
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.
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 ...
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:
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 ...