Digital tools offer distributors the potential to improve productivity and sales, offer a better value proposition for customers, and strengthen relationships with suppliers, but success isn’t possible without a smart strategy and some trial and error.

That was the conclusion of Mark Dancer and two industry experts on Wednesday at the NAW 2015 Executive Summit. Those experts — Ellen Holladay of Motion Industries and Brian Nichol of Performance Food Group — offered their experiences in planning, testing, deploying and refining digital tools to drive e-commerce sales at their respective companies.

Digital tools, in this context, include the Web/e-commerce, social media, CRM, marketing automation and more. Dancer surveyed wholesaler-distributors on a number of questions, including:

  • Overall experience with specific digital tools, in terms of “experienced user,” “implementer or shopper,” and “person with understanding of features and benefits.”
  • Leading priorities for improving business results, in terms of distributors and manufacturers.
  • The leading benefits of digital tools for wholesaler-distributors.
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“Video is exploding.”

That statement by Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg during her opening remarks at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s MIXX Conference sums up the sentiment among publishers and marketers as this year’s Advertising Week begins.

Sandberg made her remarks to Katie Couric as the duo shared the stage at the IAB conference. Couric explained that her Yahoo News interviews with baseball legend Joe Torre and Secretary of State John Kerry are available in both snippets and in longer form to take advantage of the multiple ways that consumers now consume content.

“We try to give people options,” Couric explained. “I’m hoping digital content doesn’t make people want things in 30 seconds or less. As we get more involved and more acclimated to this way of consuming information, there will be a desire for longer pieces.”

That demand is being driven in large part by the ready access to mobile devices and high-speed Internet consumers now have. (read more…)

eventsSparking change in an organization — classroom, school, school district, state or nation — sometimes can feel like a Sisyphean task, rolling a heavy stone up a hill only for it to roll down before reaching the summit.

Best-selling author Daniel Pink offered educators — gathered for ASCD’s first general session at the 2014 annual conference in Los Angeles — a different lens to view their work as leaders and change makers.

“A big part of what we do as leaders, as teachers, is move people. At some level you’re actually selling things. You’re selling ideas. You’re selling content,” Pink said. “In order for you to be effective, your effectiveness is built on your ability to move people from point A to point B.”

Pink shared with conference attendees six research-based strategies to help lead change.

1. Reduce feelings of power to better understand others’ perspectives. Take time to recalibrate your feelings of power before asking someone to do something. (read more…)

The South by Southwest Interactive Festival drew people from a variety of perspectives together to listen to App.net Founder and CEO Dalton Caldwell discuss an alternative to ad-supported social networking. As a heavy Facebook and Twitter user, ad-supported social networking is the only model I know, but by the end of the session, I was able to see a feemium model as a real possibility.

Caldwell’s previous company was imeem, built with $70 million in venture capital. It was a music-sharing site supported principally by advertising. Imeem had more than 20 ad salesmen trying to monetize its 26 million users, but in a good month they were selling only $2 million in ads and eventually the company had to be sold at a fire-sale price. Similar services, such as YouTube, survived only by being purchased by more deep-pocketed Web companies. Although conventional wisdom had held that all you had to do was build a large user base and a business model would present itself, imeem and others proved that wrong. (read more…)

It was clear that it was going to be a different sort of panel when lawyers from Foursquare, Meetup and Etsy admitted their somewhat-derogatory in-house nicknames during the “Lawyered” panel at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival: Foursquare General Counsel Brian Chase, or “Dreamsmasher”; Meetup General Counsel Daniel Pashman, or “Lawzilla”; and Etsy Counsel Sarah Feingold, or “Dreamcrusher.” This lively panel was attended not only by interactive and social media lawyers but also by social media and interactive mavens looking for advice on how to cope with their own dream crushers, while staying on the leading edge of electronic and Web commerce. The panel offered five lessons.

  1. What should every lawyer know before leaving a cushy law firm for a startup?. Pashman says moving from a law firm to a startup was a terrific culture shock. Law firms are populated by driven, focused and analytical lawyers who often work alone, while startups often have no other lawyers but lots of creative-, technical- and business-focused individuals who work in teams and seldom focus on issues that drive lawyers crazy.
  2. (read more…)