What is Brand Strategy? | Some Basic Tips

Here at Track5Media, we’re all about keeping our brands healthy and in tip-top shape. At the moment, we’ve got six separate lead generation websites (not including the one you’re on) that we maintain. The sites are devoted to healthcare staffing, commercial trucking, and senior care placement. And while there are many similarities between each site, their audiences and the types of content vary widely! Still, we do our best to maintain a distinct identity as Track5Media, whether that’s through our content’s voice, what we share on social media, and the overall aesthetic decisions we make. But what is brand strategy and how can you utilize it to your advantage? We’ll discuss that here!

What is Brand Strategy | Basic Starting Points

The main idea of any brand strategy is going to center on encompassing some specific, long-term goals that you can steer your product or business toward. It’s going to be figuring out exactly what aspects of your company’s character will stand out from all other competitors. Really, your brand strategy is a process that needs to connect these main things:

  • Consumer Needs
  • Your Product’s Value
  • The Competitive Environment

So while it may be natural to think that your brand strategy is your logo, your name, your website, or your product itself, this isn’t exactly true. Yes, all of these things are necessary aspects of facilitating a business, but really a brand is more closely related to the experience itself! It’s the intangible qualities of your company which are important to highlight and maintain throughout the implementation of your brand strategy.

But how? Here are some all-purpose takeaways:

Find your Purpose

As explained by Allen Adams, chairman of the North America region of brand consulting and design firm, Landor Associates,

“In a marketplace in which consumer confidence is low and budgetary vigilance is high, it’s not just making a promise that separates one brand from another, but having a defining purpose.”

Yes, it does make sense to define your business strategies in terms of the promises you make to your customers, but brand strategy often relies on that purpose you fulfill in the lives and businesses of others. In terms of how a brand exists in the real world or a digital space, Business Strategy Insider defined purpose in two general ways:

• Functional: Focuses on a business’s success in terms of the immediate or commercial reasons. Basically, the ‘how’ of your method of generating income.

• Intentional: Refers to a business’s ability to make money based on public perception and the impact it seeks to have on customers or the world in general.

what is brand strategy

Hone Your Consistency

As with any of the top brands out there, it’s often the case that there is a sense of cross-platform consistency. Essentially, you’re seeking to magnify your purpose and unify the presence of your brand by finding consistent ways to depict and communicate this.

In terms of online marketing today, bringing a consistent consumer experience from one device to the next is absolutely essential. Before most sales even occur, customers will have made several touch points with your product or service. Your brand strategy needs to account for the fact that a consistent voice, content, message, and service can all be found wherever the consumer journey may go.

It may be that someone doesn’t have a need for your product or service now, but when you can be the solution, then having that brand recognition is what it’s all about!

Stay Flexible

As much as marketers like to believe that a brand strategy is exactly as it should be, maintaining a healthy brand means staying flexible to change. Of course, you’re probably wondering how it’s possible to stay consistent while considering new insights and marketing maneuvers — but it all comes down to balance.

So if you’ve been running targeted ad campaigns that maintain your voice and communicate your message but the results aren’t what they should be, your brand strategy needs to accommodate updates made to itself. This often means finding a good mix of recognition and variation so that your content isn’t confusing to customers while building a stronger presence to reach your goals.

So, what is brand strategy? In the end, developing your brand strategy relies on the key components of recognizing your audience, understanding your purpose in their lives, telling your story as a company, and remaining open to the new opportunities to evolve!

What is brand strategy to you? Let us know in the comments below!

How to Conduct an Effective Job Interview

Here at Track5Media, we’re always hiring. We also work with plenty of recruiters and agencies who are always hiring as well. Needless to say, the interview process is a familiar one. While there is no single recipe for a perfect interview process, there are a few things that can help you conduct an effective job interview. Anytime you are hiring a new employee, the costs of making a bad hire can be huge. With this in mind, it is important that you get the decision right the first time around. In order to do this, consider the following tips when preparing to run an interview!

5 Tips on How to Conduct an Effective Job Interview

Conduct an Effective Job Interview

1. Clearly Define the Position

Of course, if you are hiring then you have some specific job responsibilities that need to be filled. However, it is important to fully assess what you need and want in your future employee. Failing to explicitly define job responsibilities, roles, and duties can create problems for both you and your job candidates before or after the hiring decision. Take the time before posting any job listings to talk with everybody relevant to the position within your company in order to gain a complete understanding of the hard and soft skills that will be useful in this role. This can help the applicant to understand the role before applying and can ensure that everyone within your organization is on the same page regarding a new hire.

2. Prepare in Advance

Too often, interviewers fall victim to the belief that only the interviewee needs to prepare. Dedicate time before the meeting to closely review the candidates’ application materials and craft informative questions based on those materials. It may not always be helpful to ask each applicant to describe their work history when that information is available on their resume. Instead, identify key positions they have held that relate to the job you are filling. Asking questions about those prior experiences will help you understand how the candidate will fit into your organization.

3. Make the Applicant Comfortable

Reducing stress in an interview situation is important to conduct an effective job interview. Given that you are in a hiring position, chances are you’ve been through a few interviews yourself. This process is naturally stressful and it can be difficult to accurately represent yourself when stressed. Be sure to communicate the format and expectations for the interview in advance so that you interviewee can feel more comfortable. After all, when the applicant is not stressed out you are more likely to get genuine answers.

4. Interview With a (Small) Team

When interviewing applicants (especially if there are a lot), bringing in two or three interviewers can ensure consistency. In making a big decision, it is important to have insight from multiple people affected by the decision. Having a couple of people involved in the interview means that you will have multiple perspectives. Different interviewers will pick up on different cues and can discuss their observations afterward. This said, avoid involving too many people in the hiring process. Unfortunately, hiring by democracy can often be too time intensive and ultimately ineffective. Choose a small group of people to help make your final decision.

5. Ask the Right Questions

In order to conduct an effective job interview, it is important to ask the right types of questions. Of course, this is closely related to preparing in advance. However, the right questions will likely allow for you to ask the candidate follow-up questions. Behavioral questions are a common type of question in interviews because they allow the candidate to tell their story. Questions like, “Tell me about a time that you initiated a project that increased efficiency…” allow the candidate to detail a personal experience that may provide insight into how they would handle the role available. If there is something about the applicant’s answer that you’d like to know more about, ask them to elaborate.

 

In short, it is not always easy to conduct an effective job interview. However, with an appropriate level of preparation and consideration, it can be. Remember that hiring someone is like making an investment. A good investment can grow over time while a bad investment only causes unnecessary expenses. Putting in a little extra work upfront can pay off in a big way down the road!

After reading our tips for running an interview, if you interested in interviewing with us you’re in luck! As mentioned above, we’re hiring! So, apply today!

How to Know When to Quit Your Job

Change is scary, especially when it comes to changing careers. There are many things you likely worry about in trying to decide when to quit your job – what if the new job is even worse than the old one, or what if there is no better job out there that has equal or improved pay? Yet, at some point, you have to bite the bullet, so to speak, and find a new job. Eventually, if you are unhappy at work, the pain of staying will be greater than the fear of the unknown. Like with any big change, it’s easy to find excuses and put something off until later, but there are some sure signs that it’s time for a new career.

Here are four things to consider in deciding when to quit your job.

Ask Yourself These Questions to Decide When to Quit Your Job

when to quit your job

Are you passionate about the work?

When we ask about passion, we’re not only talking about whether or not you like your job. We aren’t implying that you have to be excited to go to work every day in order to be passionate. We all have good days and bad days. What we’re talking about is, even on the days when you’d rather sleep in, is there something about your job that inspires you or moves you forward? Is the work that you are doing meaningful on at least some level? Are you still doing the job to the best of your ability, or is your lack of passion causing you to slack at work? If you dread going to work every day, it doesn’t have to be this way.

How’s your work-life balance?

Is the stress from your job affecting your life outside of work? If so, that’s a good sign that you need to move on. Although some days are naturally more stressful than others, if that stress is so consistent that you can’t enjoy your free time without worrying about work issues, a line has been crossed. Remember, work hard, play hard. If you can’t balance these two things at your current job, consider looking for a new one that has more flexibility.

Are you still learning new skills?

Consider whether or not you are still learning at your job, or if there is room for advancement. If you feel like you’re not passionate about your current position, is there somewhere else within the company for you to go?  Maybe it’s not the time to quit your job, but to advance your position within the company. If you are no longer learning or growing in your career, and there’s no possibility of advancement, start looking for your next career move.

Do your colleagues bring you down?

You may think that company culture is some bogus thing that people talk about to sound cool, but it’s actually very, very important. Think about it. You spend more time with the people you work with than you do with the people you live with or hang out with outside of work. If your co-workers are negative, not friendly or creating a toxic work environment for you, it could be that you aren’t connecting with the company culture.

 

If you are looking for a career change, check out Track5Media! Not only do we have available positions at our company in Lancaster, Pa, but we also manage several websites that connect professionals, from healthcare workers to truck drivers, to new jobs all across the country.

Customer Feedback: Gaining Valuable Insights

Even though we’re living in the most technologically advanced period of human history, one of our most valuable tools as marketers remains: customer feedback.

We’re at the point where technology allows us to completely conceptualize, prototype, and release products with not much more than a keyboard and the proper computer code. 3D printing, remotely employed team members, crowdfunding, and constant access information allows relatively anything to happen for startups and innovators. Yet, we often get so caught up in racing excitedly to the finish line that we can overlook invaluable customer feedback until after the fact.

Staying competitive means innovating, and proper innovation relies on engaging with your consumer – all while staying true to your mission statement and core values, and omnichannel marketing efforts.

customer feedback

Customer feedback is your way of understanding what can be improved, and how to remain innovative.

Technology moves quickly, customers shift constantly, and this doesn’t leave room for anything short of a precise execution of your product or service the first time around. After months, sometimes years of developing your product or service, it’s easy to lose perspective on how real people will respond. Gaining access to, and then understanding your customer feedback is critical to ensuring your business stays afloat even when waters get choppy. Social media consistently represents one of the most active methods of getting to know what your customers think and what trends they’re bound to be a part of.

To engage your customers and anything they may be communicating, consider these following ideas:

Formulate a ‘problem statement’ – Although your customer research may have led you in the right direction initially, you’ll need to prepare for unforeseen roadblocks and issues as they arise. Asking for customer feedback means you’re looking to respond to their praise, but more importantly their problems. Not only that, but all your customers (and potentially new customers) will see how your handle these situations and make judgments on whether you’re serving their needs.

Hypothesize – When customer feedback leads you to a change you’ll need to make, it’s much better to respond as early as possible to avoid losing their business. Meeting with your team and any possible stakeholders, the next step is generating a hypothesis as to how the problem can be solved and get testing quickly.

Practice Makes Perfect – Your customers are the lifeblood of what it is your company achieves and – working with this metaphor – you’ve got to be your own immune system. Re-design, retest, and rapidly update what you need to in order to exceed expectations whenever possible. Even if a solution is still a way off, signs of progress really make the difference and can keep overly critical opinions from becoming too vicious.

When Customer Feedback Breeds Greatness

Designing your product or service with the holistic experience in mind is the stuff of greatness. Really it’s about creating something that fits into the interconnected market of your customer, becoming a part of their everyday life. Here’s a great interview driving that point home from one of the founders of Airbnb:

Really, becoming a customer-centric product or service comes from nowhere else but from within a company. Allowing those who rely on your product the most to be your most valued critics is a strength and source of innovation not to be overlooked. Sure, it can be difficult to accommodate certain requests and suggestions, but forgoing customer feedback altogether is a huge mistake. Look to celebrate your customers as the MVPs they are – your team, product, and business will thank you!

More than a Paycheck: Salary Negotiation for Women

When it comes to gender equality in the workplace, the gender pay gap is a hot topic. Across most industries, women make less money than men, and most people try to dismiss the issue placing the blame on the women who don’t ask for a higher salary. While there is research that could support that thought, the truth is that salary negotiation for women is an entirely different process than for men.

When it comes to salary negotiation, women do ask for raises and promotions as much as men, but women are less likely to receive a raise. Furthermore, women that attempt to negotiate their salary find themselves penalized when they do so. For my ladies looking to get that raise or a higher salary in 2017, here is what you need to know about salary negotiation for women.

By the Numbers: Women in the Workplace 2016 Study

This past fall, the Women in the Workplace 2016 study was released, and its findings clearly suggest that women are disadvantaged in the workplace. Women will begin to fall behind early in their careers and continue to lose group with every step.

data visual showing salary negotiation for women pushback

Salary negotiation for women differs because of the pushback they face.
Source: Women in Work 2016 Study

One of the main findings of this study was that women are negotiating as much as men, but typically do not get the pay or promotion they are looking for. Compared to men who negotiate, women who do the same are 30 percent more likely to receive feedback that they are being too “bossy”, “too aggressive”, or “intimidating”. Even if they are asking for the same rate, women are 25 percent less likely than men to get a raise when they ask.

The study also showed that women of color face even more barriers in corporate American. When it comes to promotion or salary negotiation for women, black women are the most disadvantaged. Even with 78 percent of companies reporting that gender diversity is a top priority, only 55 percent of firms have racial diversity as one of their top priorities.

Not only do women of color have to worry about gender discrimination, they also face racial prejudices in a country where women of color have proven to be more ambitious about reaching high-level positions. These statistics show that this country has a long way to go when it comes to gender and racial equality as it applies to the corporate workplace.

data visual showing gender representation in the corporate pipeline

Source: Women in the Workplace 2016 Study

Salary Negotiation for Women: Tips and Tricks

Companies need to take strides to ensure that their company is prioritizing gender (and racial) diversity, their hiring and promotion processes are fair, and hold themselves accountable. However, ladies, we know it may be some time before we solve the wage gap issue. So, in the meantime, what can you do to make sure you get the best likelihood of landing that promotion or raise?

Be prepared

Make sure that before you go to discuss a potential raise, promotion, or title change, you are prepared. Throughout the year, make a list of all the things that you have done. Remember all those times when your supervisor gave you positive feedback about a project? Keep those emails because it’s something you can use to support your case.

Part of being prepared is also doing your research. When women are able to show objective information at a during a salary negotiation, they will be more likely to get what they are asking for. Bring research that shows comparable salaries in your field.

Negotiation Style

Your negotiation style is essential to your success in securing the pay raise or promotion you want. When you are in a salary negotiation, you need all the leverage you can get. Don’t communicate in regards to salary negotiation via email or electronic communication. Your words may be used against you to result in a lower pay.

Use ‘we’ when you make your pitch instead of ‘I’. Remember that assertive women are seen as aggressive and bossy. Using the word ‘we’ helps you seem less “intimidating”.

Using your bargaining chips

When it comes to salary negotiation for women, of course, you want as much leverage as you can. But you must be extremely cautious with any aggressive approach to your negotiations. Bringing an outside offer to the bargaining take can severely backfire because your company can view it as a threat.

If you do choose to use this type of bargaining method, don’t bluff. The worst thing that could happen is you pretend you have this offer from another company willing to pay you what you think you’re worth. If your bluff is called, you’re definitely not getting the desired pay or promotion you were looking for.

Even with your objective information you bring to your negotiation meeting, be careful in how you present it.

Practice. Practice. Practice.

It may seem silly to think about at first, but you should role-play with someone else. It takes some time to develop great negotiation skills, so it is important to practice; especially if you have never negotiated your salary or benefits before. Practice allows you to refine your argument and make mistakes before it counts.

More than a Paycheck

Don’t forget that salary is not the only thing you can negotiate! Many women (and men) forget that there are so many different benefits you can haggle for. Millennials should especially negotiate benefits because many businesses will not be willing to pay you what you should make. Here is a short list of benefits and perks you should also consider in your negotiations:

  • Time off: vacation days, sick days, leave;
  • Workplace environment: work from home, visit company branch;
  • Education/Professional development: tuition reimbursement, conference/workshop opportunities, training;
  • Expense accounts: industry travel, industry networking, commuter benefits;
  • Other perks: title adjustments, company share/stock options;

When it comes to promotion and salary negotiation for women, there are some major changes that need to be made industry-wide. While we wait for the gender wage gap to shrink, share this post with your network of women so they can get the pay they deserve too!

Top 5 Hiring Trends for Job Seekers in 2017

Human resource departments and recruiters are constantly tweaking their hiring methods to engage and hire the top talent. It is important to know the future hiring trends for job seekers so they can find the perfect job.

As you look to have a more productive and rewarding career in 2017, take note of some things happening in the recruiting industry. This will give you a slight advantage over other candidates when exploring new career options.

2017 Hiring Trends for Job Seekers

For those looking to find a new position or make a career change, 2017 might be the ideal year to do it. One of the major hiring trends for job seekers to note is that 56 percent of teams intend to increase their hiring volume this year.

This means that employers want to hire people – they want to hire you! With candidates at an advantage in the job market, let’s look at 5 trends that will affect the way you navigate the employment search in 2017.

1. The Role of Referrals

It is no secret that a candidate referred by a company’s current employee is more likely to get the job. In fact, the team at CareerXroads found that referred candidates are 14 times more likely to get the job than someone who applies without a referral. This will continue to be one of the top hiring trends for job seekers in 2017.

Referred candidates make up more than 40 percent of new hires at companies described as one of the best places to work. Referred employees are faster to hire, tend to perform better, and stay at the company longer than others.

For companies, referral hiring is effective and provides cost savings. For those looking to find new positions in 2017, ask your potential employer about company referral activity. It can be one way to spot a poor work environment.

2. Enhanced Candidate Experience

Companies are starting to understand how critical the candidate experience is to attract top talent. Essentially, the candidate experience during the applicant process is a reflection of recruiter and business performance.

Hiring departments looking to keep candidates well informed of their status during the hiring process. They know that regular status updates show that they are an employer of choice. A poor experience will lead to bad reviews on sites like Glassdoor.

This is one of the hiring trends for job seekers to pay attention to because they will be able to drive the frequency and form of conversation in 2017. Whether you are on email, phone, or social media, recruiters will be there too.

3. Diversifying the Workplace

In 2017 one of the hot hiring trends for job seekers will be workplace diversity. In 2016, the topic gained a lot of attention and companies are now placing an increased focus on diversity in the workplace.

According to a Glassdoor survey, 67 percent of active and passive job searchers consider diversity an important factor when comparing companies and job offers. Over half of recruiters said that their talent acquisition methods are designed to attract diverse candidates.

As companies continue to understand the benefit and competitive advantages workplace diversity provide, they will continue to implement strategies to eliminate unconscious bias. Companies are looking for diverse people with different cultures, values, and skill sets.

Diverse companies are great to work for because they typically have a culture welcoming of a wide range of people. For those of you on a job hunt, avoid companies that use cultural fit to disguise hiring bias. Don’t be afraid to ask about the role diversity plays in the organization.

4. The Discovery of Talent Rediscovery

There are typically high numbers of applicants for a single position. However, once resumes enter an applicant tracking system (ATS), most of them will never be looked at again. This is not because recruiters don’t want to review those resumes for talent; it’s just hard to do.

A major pain point in the hiring industry is the lack of technology to effectively and accurately screen resumes of past applicants. New technology is going to help recruiters do just that.

Though it is new technology, you should expect it to rise to prominence quickly because talent rediscovery is such a large issue in the industry.

Now, companies will not need to pay to source candidates that they have already screened. For highly qualified candidates that may have missed one job from a company, you’re more likely to get a call or email when another position opens up.

5. Less Full-Time Jobs, More Blended Workforces

The decline in full-time positions is one of the hiring trends for job seekers that may cause concern. As companies across all industries use more technological and automated services, many positions will cease to exist.

More companies are hiring contractors or freelancers on-demand to solve key problems. You can expect to see many more blended workforces in 2017. For managers, remote management will be a critical skill in order to find success with those employees working away from the office.

For job searchers with focused skills, this could be a great opportunity to be contractually hired by companies for their specialized expertise. Since there will be fewer jobs, consider taking temporary jobs while you wait to land a full-time one. They will keep your skills sharp and even help you acquire new ones.

Cultural Fit: Hiring Tool or Disguising Bias?

It is hard for a business to be successful without a formidable team helping pave the way. That is why hiring and retaining quality employees is important. When it comes to hiring employees, you always hear about cultural fit or workplace culture playing a major role in their success. Look at Zappos or Google, for example. I’ve even written about creating work culture to foster innovation. This is not that blog post, however.

There are many that think that cultural fit is a new form of discrimination. Yes, a positive work environment is beneficial to your company productivity. But if everyone thinks and acts the same, who will ever ask the hard questions that spur innovation? More importantly, what is cultural fit? How does a company quantify or measure something intangible?

A quick Google search will give many definitions from various influencers. Why? Because cultural fit is something that is recognizable, but generally immaterial. Workplace culture is based on the behaviors, beliefs, and values. The culture of a company refers to the way things are done. When a company is looking for a fit, they are looking for an alignment between the company core values and the candidate’s attributes, skills, and qualities.

Benefits of Hiring for Cultural Fit

Obviously, there are many advantages to hiring for a fit culturally. Even if you are not able to really measure it, you know when a new hire is missing that cultural fit. Those that fit into their company will experience greater job satisfaction, perform better, and will likely stay at the same company.

Casual workplace business meeting at a startup

Cultural fit can be make-or-break for a new hire. Are internal bias’ interfering with your recruitment process?

Don’t underestimate the power of hiring an employee that fits. When employers recruit bad hires, it can lead to declines in sales or employee morale, losses in productivity, and added training costs. Lauren Kolbe, founder of KolbeCo has stated, “an employee who is not aligned with the culture and is not committed to living it can wreak havoc pretty quickly, even if they bring a great deal of skill and experience to their craft.”

The idea behind hiring for the right fit is that the manager wants to work with people that are like them. Managers want to mentor people that seem like versions of themselves. There is nothing wrong with that. After all, it is human nature to want to surround yourself with people with the same values or behaviors. So, when does this become an issue?

Unmasking Discrimination in the Workplace

Clearly, there is a need to hire for fit in the workplace, however, it becomes an issue when you are using cultural fit as a reason not to hire someone. If you don’t even know how to measure your company culture, how could you possibly use it to eliminate a potential candidate?

Some companies are using this idea of culture to discriminate against employees based on their gender, class, race, sexual orientation, or education. That is not to say that companies are purposely discriminating against prospective employees. But, when you start letting personal bias get in the way of hiring the right candidates, you are putting your company at risk. Without diversity, you don’t get any out of the box thinking from your team.

looking for the cultural fit

Having diverse hires allows employees to learn from each other, innovate processes, and ultimately grow your business.

While you may be looking to hire someone you would want to drink a beer with, you may be turning away skilled employees that could really help your company because they don’t fit. When everyone in your office thinks the same way, no one will challenge anyone. If no one is challenged in their thinking, you can create a sense of complacency and overconfidence. No one will ask questions about products or processes that will spur innovation and grow your business.

Considerations for Hiring a Cultural Fit

Always remember that you should always be looking to diversify your employees. When you have employees with various life experiences, backgrounds, and values, you have the perfect ingredients to encourage changes that will grow your business. So, how can you still hire for fit, but ensure that you are not turning away quality hires based on biases?

Create two lists. On one of them, write down your organization’s core values. These should be the same values you want to see from every candidate. On the second list, write down your company’s cultural patterns. There is a reason that I want you to make two lists; those values should remain separate. Look for your core values in a candidate first, and then see what cultural patterns fit your company.

Remember that if your corporate culture is open to new ideas, you can build teams that can leverage each other’s differences. By having diversity in your company, your teams will be able to take smart risks and learn new methods of doing things.

Most importantly, make sure that if you are eliminating a candidate for not being a cultural fit, explain that decision. You should be able to look at exactly which values the candidate does not emulate. If you cannot quantify a cultural reason for eliminating a potential hire, do not eliminate that potential hire.

Top Startups You Need on Your Fantasy Team

It’s that time of year folks. A time where friends are lost and enemies are made. I’m talking about the Dungeons and Dragons for jocks. Fantasy football. Here at Track5, we’ve decided to do things a little differently. Since some of us aren’t the biggest of football fans, we’ve created our own fantasy league, the SFL. The Startup Fantasy League is comprised of the most promising startups of the past few years. Things got very heated during the draft, but here are a few highlights, and key startups for you to keep an eye on in the near future.

Medium

A consensus first round pick, Medium is looking to rival WordPress to become the go-to publishing website. Hell-bent on changing the way people communicate, Medium has become a free-reign outlet for anyone to use including celebrities, athletes, and of course, you and me. The company is so highly touted because of its versatility. Is it a news source? Is it a social media platform? Is it a creative writing forum? The answer is yes – and as more and more creative minds continue to flock to the website, expect Medium to grow larger and larger in the near future.

theSkimm

Created by two former NBC News producers, theSkimm has gone from just another email newsletter, to the main source of news for nearly 2 million subscribers and a top startup. Designed for those who need to consume their news on-the-go, theSkimm summarizes articles from major news outlets and gives the option to read the entire article if the reader chooses to. Known for their satirical humor, theSkimm has been popular among college students looking to stay up on current events in between classes. It’s no surprise theSkimm easily cracked the top ten in our Startup Fantasy League.

TheSkimm quickly rose up our draft board as a top startup

TheSkimm quickly rose up our draft board as a top startup

OTTO

One of the biggest gambles in this year’s draft was the selection of OTTO, a tech company intent on bringing driverless vehicles into the trucking industry. One of the youngest companies in the draft, OTTO’s inexperience might actually be a blessing in the disguise. Founded by former Google employees, the product was actually introduced on Medium this past January. OTTO states, “At the heart of our vision is the belief that self-driving tech is the key for creating a more sustainable, productive — and above all, safer — transportation future.” This young and ambitious company could either be a draft bust, or one of the most innovative startups in the past decade.

Product Hunt

One of the most talked about companies to crack our top startups list, Product Hunt is a paradise for nerds. According to the company, “It’s a place for product-loving enthusiasts to share and geek out about the latest mobile apps, websites, hardware projects, and tech creations. The site allows tech lovers to discuss, browse, and purchase their favorite tech products as Product hunt curates a feed designed specifically for you. Will this draft darling live up to the hype as one of the top startups? Only time will tell.

Product Hunt has quickly become the darling of the draft

Product Hunt has quickly become the darling of the draft

Truebill

Arguably the biggest “sleeper” in the draft, Truebill is looking to help you keep track of those pesky subscriptions and other reoccurring charges. One of our top startups, the company uses data mining to figure out which subscriptions and reoccurring charges deemed unnecessary. Still getting charged or the Amazon Prime account you never use? Truebill will catch it. This top startup could save you hundreds, snagging those unwanted charges.

Track5Takes: Music Streaming Services

            This is another installment of a series we’d like to call Track5Takes. Throughout the week, we come across a variety of interesting subjects dealing with marketing, social media, and technology among other things. Our staff often discusses these articles or videos, with each of us forming our own opinions. We’d like to not only inform you about what’s going on in the web-marketing and technological world, but we want to show a little personality by giving our own “takes” on various issues. 

            This week we came across an article on The Ringer titled “A Short History of the Spotify-Apple Music Beef.” The article details the competition between both streaming powerhouses and it sparked a debate in the office over what the best streaming site is. Many of us remain “plugged in” throughout the day, listening to music on our computers and the staff had various opinions over who the reigns supreme in the streaming kingdom.

troy-200x200

Troy Diffenderfer, Marketing Intern

            In this two-party streaming race I’ve actually decided to go the “Gary Johnson” of music streaming services…Pandora. Now hear me out. I realize that Pandora isn’t the music streaming goliath that Spotify or Apple might be, however, I like to think I act a lot older than I really am. I don’t like change. I come home, watch Jeopardy every night, eat a bowl of ice cream, and listen to Pandora. I don’t need a fancy new iPhone or “exclusive” content. I want to throw on a random series of songs that I can enjoy.

I’ve always been someone to grab my pickaxe and mine the Internet like a 49er looking golden nuggets of music. I then proceed to hoard those nuggets of music like a crazy person, convincing myself that I discovered them first and that nobody else is worthy of hearing them besides me. This yet another reason I enjoy Pandora – because new artists can emerge at literally any moment.

As new technology emerges that could ban the recording of live music, it’s becoming more and more important for music streaming services to provide music at a moment’s notice. I’ll let Apple and Spotify slug things out while Pandora slowly and steadily becomes your favorite place to mine musical nuggets of gold.

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Connor Smith, Marketing Specialist

As a very active music listener, I’ve aligned with the Spotify music streaming crowd for some time now, mostly because it’s been around before Apple Music and Tidal (if it’s even worth mentioning.) In most cases, I’m able to find all of the music I need with Spotify and more. Unlike Apple Music, Spotify does still have a free version with commercials here and there.

Recently, Frank Ocean’s Blond had me mooching off my sister’s Apple Music account — only to block me once she started listening on a separate device. This still happens with Spotify if the music is streaming, but otherwise if the files are downloaded and saved there isn’t much of an issue. Plus, I really enjoy Spotify’s black and green interface — it’s refreshing and much easier to look at than other platforms I’ve seen.

Whether Spotify is actually surpassing Apple Music-exclusive artists seems unlikely, but then again I might do the same thing if clients started choosing a competitor for their releases.

Spotify, just get Frank Ocean’s new album up for me and we’re totally good.

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Ekom Enyong, Marketing Specialist

Let me say this first. I choose Apple over everything and I always have. I’m honestly not even sure I could work somewhere that didn’t use Mac computers. I have a whole slew of Apple products:

  • An iPod that uses the click wheel (What’s a Zune?)
  • The first three generations of iPod Touch
  • Some old iPhone 4S’ (2 still in boxes)
  • My old white MacBook that wasn’t even the unibody style
  • My current iPhone 6 (Can’t wait to get a 7Plus in my hands!)
  • My new 15” MacBook Pro powerhouse

I say all this in hopes that other Apple fanatics will not read this and see me as a traitor, but I’m going to say it: Spotify is a way better music streaming service than Apple Music.

There I said it! Do with me what you want, but first let me tell you why.

If I had to choose one reason in particular, it would be that Spotify’s user experience is absolutely phenomenal. When I want to quickly queue up songs, on the mobile app I can simply swipe right on the song to add them up next. If I queue up something that I don’t want to hear, I can easily swipe left and remove a song from the list.

Spotify has an amazing Discover Weekly playlist that changes, yes you guessed it, weekly. Depending on what you’ve been listening to, it will give you a whole new list of songs that you’d probably like. I have found so many artists that I would have never found without Spotify. I can easily create playlists and send them to my friends, or follow their playlists.

I can plug my speakers into my computer, and as long as I’m on the same wifi network on my phone, I can still search, play music, change songs, or change listening devices right from my phone. This is an awesome and easily accessible feature that is great for parties, or lazy Sunday afternoons.

I even tried Apple Music when they gave out the three-month trials. While it’s “pretty” (as all Apple products are), the interface leaves much to be desired. It takes at least 2 touches to be able to queue a song up. The “radio stations” Apple has have never led me to discovering new music. I don’t think Apple ever gave me a suggestion that I actually liked. Beyond that, when you use Apple Music, yes you can save the songs and such to your phone to access offline, but when you stop using Apple Music, you lose all that. After I ended my trial I had to say goodbye to all the music on my phone, my playlists were gone. I’m not sure if this still happens, but once was enough to let me know I would NEVER use Apple Music again.

I’m still #TeamApple, but Spotify will forever have my heart.

Business of the Year?

This year has been a wild and exciting ride for the company, and things seem to keep getting better. A few weeks ago, we received a letter in the mail carrying some pretty surprising news — Track5Media is a nominee for the Central Penn Business Journal’s Business of the Year award!

When our president, Oliver Feakins broke the news, we were almost in disbelief. After a calm week, the announcement was a shot of pure joy.

For such a small and close-knit company, a nomination like this is really impactful. Although we may be national leaders in the job board industry, we still approach each day looking to improve. Needless to say, we’ll never claim humility because that’s the whole point. Still, it feels great to supplement this past year such a great honor in the region.

And if their Business of the Year nomination wasn’t enough, Oliver recently found out he was also nominated for the CPBJ’s Forty under 40 Award. A good time for Track5Media indeed!

business of the year

Where implementing new ideas and taking risks feels forced process for some, these things remain core values at Track5Media. With our newest brand, Senior Caring the risk is very real — it’s a serious subject for many families and the competition is fierce. Yet, at no point have we ever doubted our ability to bring this vision to life. Through inevitable staff changes, moving to a new office, and learning curves, the momentum is stronger than ever.

Business of the Year — Every Other Day

In creating this write-up, I really got to thinking about the reasons for these nominations. Two words kept coming to mind: Living innovation. So much of being a digitally-focused company means staying on the edge of the industry. Every day we scour the web for whatever digital nuggets of value we can acquire for the betterment of our clients. That said, we bring that pursuit for innovation to life in every way possible — or rather we live to innovate.

For examples, look no further than our in-house massage days, ice-cream outings, and zip-lining team building. I mean come on, we have an actual “fun committee” — how many companies can say that? I mention this because it’s from the working environment that success can sprout. Working in an open office space with open doors and easy communication is second nature at this point, and we don’t take it for granted.

business of the year

Track5Media’s zip-lining adventure at Refreshing Mountain.

There is a creative vibe flowing throughout Track5Media, even on tired Monday mornings and the lull of a Thursday afternoon. As we prepare to launch our newest site, Senior Caring, we’re looking toward a future of growth in an exciting time.

Whatever happens at the awards ceremony, we know that (as cheesy as it sounds) Track5Media is OUR business of the year past, present, and future.