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Tim Peter Thinks

Tim Peter

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November 18, 2014

Digital Marketing Directions 2015: 3 Key Trends for Hotel Marketing (Travel Tuesday)

November 18, 2014 | By | No Comments

Do disruptors and disintermediators have you in their cross-hairs?I was really honored to participate in a webinar last week as part of Leonardo’s look towards 2015. And, as requested, here are the slides for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy:


(And, yes… you can hire me to speak at your next event, too).

You might also enjoy past Hospitality Marketing Link Digests such as these entries on how hotel distribution is heating up and rising mobile bookings, big data, and more.

If you’re interested in learning even more about the future of hospitality e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” Developed specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons can help your business adapt to the changing guest environment. You can get your free copy of the report here.

Finally, you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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November 10, 2014

Is Your Industry Immune to E-commerce Disruption? Um… No.

November 10, 2014 | By | No Comments

mobile e-commerce disruptionWhile giving a talk last week about the key trends driving e-commerce and marketing in 2015, an executive challenged me with a series of reasons why her business has nothing to fear.

Generally, she was right. Her business indeed has nothing to fear. But only because she and her leadership team have started getting ahead of these trends, not because of any systemic immunity.

In fact, I’d argue that no business is immune to the trends of mobile, Millennials, and payments that will shape e-commerce — and most businesses generally — over the coming few years.

Here’s why.

Business Insider posted a deck looking at the coming disruption of the “old school” grocery industry by e-commerce challengers. In a separate conversation last week, I talked with a long-time grocery executive last week who both explained why the grocery industry is immune, and also detailed the significant growth in frozen foods as a percentage of grocery store floor space, revenues, and profits. Now, call me crazy, but if frozen foods don’t have the same constraints as fresh food, coupled with the growth of “same-day delivery” whether from AGFAM players like Google and Amazon, or even newer entrants like Uber, groceries are no more immune to the kinds of disruption that other retailers face. E-commerce innovation is alive and well, thank you very much, and it’s coming for your business too.

Now, that doesn’t mean you’re screwed or doomed or whatever other nightmare scenario you — or others — can envision. It only means that, like my retail executive friend from last week, you’ve got to prepare. You’ve got to get on the front-side of these trends. And, yes, you’ve got to strategically invest.

Those that do, will be just fine. Those that assume that everything will continue the way things have always been, though, face a rude awakening as Millennials, mobile, same-day delivery, and mobile payments enter the marketplace in significant numbers in 2015 and beyond. Here’s hoping you’re the former.

If you’re interested in learning even more about how customers changing behavior shapes e-commerce and marketing, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

Plus, don’t miss these slides and video from my recent webinar, “Digital Marketing Directions: Three Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year”:

Finally, you might also want to check out some of our past coverage of the mobile, local, social web and how to make it work for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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November 7, 2014

9 Mobile Marketing and E-commerce Must-Reads for This Week (E-commerce Link Digest)

November 7, 2014 | By | No Comments

Shopping on mobile Happy Friday, Big Thinkers! No big setup this week, just plenty of juicy link goodness. Without further ado, here’s the list. Enjoy:

  1. Emarketer notes that agency planners find room for digital place-based media
  2. Linda Bustos at GetElastic highlights a cool infographic featuring the top 9 website redesign nightmares.
  3. Mobile Commerce Daily explains how retailers’ promotional strategies get mobile makeover with bigger lifecycle focus.
  4. Marketing Charts shows how search results can drive in-store visits.
  5. Chris Marentis on Search Engine Land looks at marketing in transit and selling to mobile searchers.
  6. The last couple episodes of Thinks Out Loud look at the scary changes coming to marketing and asks whether e-commerce innovation is over.
  7. Mobile Commerce Daily reports that one-third interested in paying for restaurant meals via mobile.
  8. More Makreting Charts data uncovers US omni-channel shopping behavior, by category.
  9. Big data isn’t perfect. But does that mean data-driven marketing won’t work for you?

Want more good stuff to get you through this Halloween weekend? Well then check out these 11 must-read trends and tips, 6 great weekend reads, 8 potentially game-changing trends, and the rest of the weekly E-commerce Link Digest series here.

And, if you’re interested in learning even more about how customers changing behavior shapes e-commerce and marketing, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

Plus, don’t miss these slides and video from my recent webinar, “Digital Marketing Directions: Three Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year”:

Finally, you might also want to check out some of our past coverage of the mobile, local, social web and how to make it work for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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October 29, 2014

Scary Changes Coming to Marketing – Thinks Out Loud Episode 96

October 29, 2014 | By | No Comments


Scary Changes Coming to Marketing Headlines and Show Notes

You might also enjoy the slides from my recent webinar, Digital Marketing Directions: Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year,:

Image credit: Wikipedia’s Horror Films article and believed to be in the public domain.

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Technical details: Recorded using an Audio-Technica AT2035 studio condenser microphone through a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 14m 18s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes [iTunes link], subscribe via our dedicated podcast RSS feed (or better yet, given that Google has now killed Reader, sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player below:

Tim Peter

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October 28, 2014

How To Use Your Hotel Data to Drive Growth (Travel Tuesday)

October 28, 2014 | By | No Comments

Use your hotel data to drive growthAs you put together your hotel marketing and business plans for 2015, here are a couple of questions to keep in mind: What’s a guest really worth to you? And how much do search, metasearch, mobile, social, OTA’s, TripAdvisor, and all the other digital and traditional travel marketing tactics contribute to that total? What’s really driving your guests to find and book your hotels?

As you think about that, here’s one more question: Do you really think the OTA’s can’t answer these questions?

OTA’s don’t just outspend hotels on marketing because they have more to spend — though that’s unquestionably true. They also spend smarter. Most major online travel agencies have invested heavily in recent years building strong “data sciences” teams, statisticians and database wizards well-equipped to unravel the tangled web of modern marketing. Those investments have paid off, helping OTA’s achieve a dominant role in travel marketing, and resulting in higher distribution costs for hotels.

While Big Data has been, to this point, more hype and hope than help for most hotel marketers, the fact remains that your ability to compete effectively with OTA’s — and with the other hotels in your market — depends on gaining a deeper understanding of your guests. And gaining that deeper understanding depends on having and using the right data to drive your marketing decisions.

Even though it’s unlikely you’ll be able to compete head-to-head with the OTA’s from a technology and data sciences perspective, you can use the data you do have to improve your guests’ experiences before, during, and after their stays. And improving guest experience remains the one key area where hotel operators can always outperform the competition, whether from online travel agents, fellow hoteliers, or new entrants like Airbnb. Few things reinforce your brand value proposition as much as your guest’s overall experience when dealing with your hotel. The data you have available to you provides you a strategic differentiator – your competitors simply don’t know everything you do about the guests who research, book, and stay with you. Why not use that to your advantage?

Start small

For all the promises of “big data,” sometimes just knowing more than you do today represents a huge step in the right direction. How many times has your office curmudgeon (not that your company has one of those), stated “There’s no possible way we could know that” when assessing the impact of your marketing or promotions on “intangibles” such as voice reservations, walk-ins, or guest loyalty? When the alternative is “no possible way to know,” any information is literally infinitely better than where you’re starting from. Which would you rather have: No insight at all into your guests’ wants, needs, and desires? Or even a little bit of insight? Each improvement, no matter how incremental, positions you more effectively against your competition, and positions you for greater success down the road.

One best practice that’s emerged from digital marketing is the use of a “test and learn” approach, where savvy marketers analyze the data from each new initiative to figure out what’s working, then continue to “fish where the fishing’s good,” building on successes, and learning from less successful efforts. Apply a similar approach to building your measurements and increase investments on those efforts demonstrating positive results.

Focus your team and your talents

In most businesses, culture trumps strategy. “The way we’ve always done things” creates a powerful barrier to change, no matter how necessary. If you’ve long relied on anecdotes and opinions to shape your marketing strategy, it’s time to supplement your (usually quite valuable) implicit knowledge with some cold, hard facts. Don’t just look at “ROI” for your marketing initiatives; evaluate the number of profitable guests each produces, and the lifetime value of customers gained from each of your channels.

Assign someone within your marketing, distribution, or e-commerce group to coordinate your team’s efforts and align data collection, analysis, and reporting best practices and lessons learned across your organization. And make sure they have support among your executive team, too. Focus on long-term opportunities, while helping your team find short-term wins to apply better business intelligence in marketing, revenue management, and operations. Use technology to streamline and automate your analytics process; but, even more importantly, train your team members in how to apply the learnings new metrics and measures reveal. A big stack of reports piling up in your marketing team’s inboxes because no one knows how to interpret and act on the results represents wasted effort, and wasted opportunity.

Protect the “crown jewels”

It’s almost cliche to say that “content is king” when it comes to digital. It’s also true. And in a world where mobile plays a huge role defining your guests’ experience, the context in which your guests enjoy that content is “queen.” If content is king and context is queen, data represents the “crown jewels” of your kingdom. And just like any valuable treasure, that data demands protection. Assign someone from your technology team to ensure you’re following appropriate best practices for data protection. As we’ve seen recently with retailers such as Home Depot and Target, privacy matters. Ultimately, any data about your guests belongs to the guest, not to you. Protect their private information as though your business depends on it. Because it does.

I’ve said before that OTA’s aren’t evil; they’re just doing their jobs. When used properly, they remain a key component of your overall distribution strategy. That doesn’t mean you should just outsource your entire hotel to them. You have the information you need to find, attract, and convert the guests you want available to you, as long as you invest the time and effort to make that information work for you. It’s time you get that information to do its job, too.

Tim Peter helps companies put the Web to work to grow their business. Since 1995, he has developed innovative e-commerce and digital marketing programs across multiple industries. An expert in e-commerce and digital marketing strategy, Tim focuses on the growth of the social, local, mobile web and its impact on both consumer behavior and business results.

Note: A version of this post originally appeared on Hotel News Now, where Tim Peter writes a quarterly column for the magazine’s Digital Tech Impact Report.
Tim Peter

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October 27, 2014

The Little-Known Factors Behind E-commerce Growth in 2015

October 27, 2014 | By | No Comments

Mobile payments image courtesy of HLundgaard on WikipediaE-commerce growth is going to be spectacular for the next few years. In combination with the demographic realities driving mobile commerce, shifts in customer behavior will push overall e-commerce numbers way, way up. Business Insider estimates retailers will see $100 billion in online sales during this year’s fourth quarter, and that’s pretty good. But, as the saying goes, you ain’t seen nothing yet. This overall shift will make that $100 billion seem tiny by comparison.

Millennials and Mobile Meet the Payment Industry

The huge shift in e-commerce will come from Millennials, mobile, and in particular, mobile payments. According to their 2013 annual reports, Visa [PDF link] and Mastercard [link] handled 58.5 billion and 38.6 billion transactions, respectively, worth a combined $11 trillion. That’s 11,000 billion dollars. Which, in case you’re not a fan of math, is just a shade more than the $100 billion in online sales Business Insider projects for this coming holiday season.

Today, your customers use credit cards to make their purchases because they’re the simplest, most cost-effective options available. But recent moves like the introduction of Apple Pay — combined with the recent card hacks suffered by merchants like Target and Home Depot — are starting to change the game for mobile commerce specifically, as well as for e-commerce overall.

Why?

Because, these new products are safer, more secure, and, when done right, easier than swiping a card. The essentially required shift away from “swipe and sign” cards coming next year will only accelerate the trend. I don’t think this is all about Apple, mind you. I expect Google to improve its Wallet app’s usability in the coming months to more effectively compete with Apple Pay, along with any number of competitors to emerge.

For instance, one group of retailers have joined together to create their own payment app, CurrentC. These merchants have even started blocking Apple Pay in favor of their own system which John Gruber thinks is a sign Apple Pay is beginning to succeed. The consensus suggests that Apple Pay is the better system right now, and will likely gain more market traction in the near-term, but that it’s really too soon to tell who wins in the long run. In any case, as it stands today, CurrentC is unlikely to shape customer behavior due to its poor usability. But it could certainly work to improve.

Long-Term Mobile Commerce Trends

The longer-term trend you need to pay attention to is as follows:

  1. Consumers begin to adopt mobile payments. Regardless of the system, the increased usability and security of mobile payments will drive increased use. Mobile payments already account for almost 1 in 4 online payment transactions, and research shows “…transactional services and activities are also gaining… [and that] …iPhone users in Europe are more likely to use mobile services regularly, [for] financial and transactional activities.” The the demographic trends I talked about the other day will play a role, too, as Millennials demand more mobile-optimized services.
  2. Consumer demand drives product innovation. Merchants, card issuers, and technology firms alike are scrambling right now to create the killer payments app.
  3. More payment options lead to higher m-commerce conversion rates. This is long-since proven in “traditional” e-commerce. Want to get more people to buy? Make it easy for them to buy however they prefer. Providing additional payment options reduces friction and increases confidence that you’re a trusted — and trustworthy — partner.
  4. Increased confidence will drive significantly higher volumes of mobile browsing and shopping. We’re already starting to see this, with mobile shopping beginning to outstrip desktop. Just remember that we’re still in the early days. Smartphone penetration in the US has now reached over 70%, but customers are still learning how they’ll use those devices in everyday life.
  5. Lather, rinse, repeat. As these activities become more commonplace, they’ll draw in additional sets of later adopters, fueling rising growth for some time to come.

Anyone who lived through the last big shift in e-commerce — which started in 1995 or 1996 and continued uninterrupted until 2001 — should recognize this pattern. I strongly suspect we’re entering a four- or five-year period where growth will resemble the S-curve pretty closely, with significant growth in consumer adoption and increasing revenues until the inevitable, predictable, and unfortunately, unknowable speed bump slows us down sometime late in this decade (which itself is usually followed by a decade-plus of slower, more stable growth — look at your own results and see what’s happened in e-commerce overall since 2002-2003 for one example).

Conclusion

I’ve stated many times before that mobile and commerce go hand-in-hand, particularly among Millennials. Gen X and Boomers are somewhat slower to adopt, but a gaping chasm exists between “are somewhat slower” and “won’t adopt.” The reality is all your customers will get there, given enough time.

The key thing for you to do is recognize these coming trends and to get in front of them for the benefit of your customers — and for your business.

If you want to learn more about how customers changing behavior shapes e-commerce and marketing, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

Plus, don’t miss these slides and video from my recent webinar, “Digital Marketing Directions: Three Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year”:

Finally, you might also want to check out some of our past coverage of the mobile, local, social web and how to make it work for your business, including:

Tim Peter

By

October 23, 2014

The Demographic Realities Driving Mobile Commerce

October 23, 2014 | By | No Comments

Woman shopping mobile customerMobile Commerce Daily outlines the key findings of a new GfK report, which states,

“In the past year, Internet shopping via a PC or laptop dropped from 78 percent to 63 percent, while the use of smartphones doubled from 8 percent to 15 percent and tablets from 5 percent to 10 percent…”

Cool, right?

Well, yes. But… as my journalist friends say, Mobile Commerce Daily “buried the lede.”

Check out the demographic breakdown:

“The use of smartphones and tablets for online shopping varies by generation.

In the past six months, 21 percent of Generation Z used a smartphone to shop, up 8 percentage points compared with a year ago. In comparison, smartphone shopping was reported by 25 percent of Generation Y, up 11 percentage points; by 15 percent of Generation X, up 7 percentage points, and by 7 percent of Baby Boomers, up 4 percentage points.”

So, somewhere between one-fourth and one-fifth of all Millennials, are using smartphones—not tablets—to shop. And browse. And buy. And the amount of shopping traffic from mobile can only increase as:

  1. “Gen Z” (either the youngest Millennials or the oldest of the generation behind Millennials, depending on who you ask) starts to influence more purchases, and to make more of their own.
  2. “Gen Y” (i.e., “traditional” Millennials) matures into their prime earning years.
  3. Boomers age out of the marketplace, a trend likely to accelerate within the next decade.

These aren’t “projections” or “educated guesses.” These are demographic realities. Even if new medical technology extends the working—and prime earning—lives of Boomers far beyond their forebears (which would be terrific for lots of reasons), the younger cohorts are also entering the workforce and beginning to spend money at a much faster pace. Remember, the oldest Millennials are entering their 30′s, and more than half are now over 21.

And, they’ve grown up in a world where using your phone to browse and shop and buy is the norm, not the exception. To the youngest Millennials, a smartphone is no more “technology” than a light switch is to older cohorts; it’s just there, ready when you need it, always at hand. Millennials spend more time using digital to research, browse, shop, and buy than any other media, and that’s unlikely to shift dramatically as they age—and as their spending power increases.

Most importantly, this doesn’t spell “the end of retail,” or anything close to it. Your customers are social beings. They like hanging out with their friends, and they like using all 5 senses to experience the world around them. Do a bad job selling that experience and you’re toast. It’s not easy and even some folks you might not expect seem to be struggling with the transition to an “it’s all e-commerce” world. But handle this transition well, and, just maybe, the switch Millennials, Gen X, and Boomers flip will be yours.

If you’re interested in learning even more about how customers changing behavior shapes e-commerce and marketing, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

Plus, don’t miss these slides and video from my recent webinar, “Digital Marketing Directions: Three Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year”:

Finally, you might also want to check out some of our past coverage of the mobile, local, social web and how to make it work for your business, including:

Tim Peter

By

October 22, 2014

What the Hell Just Happened to Google? Thinks Out Loud Episode 95

October 22, 2014 | By | No Comments

Mobile in app advertising

What the Hell Just Happened to Google? Headlines and Show Notes

You might also enjoy the slides from my recent webinar, Digital Marketing Directions: Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year,:

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Technical details: Recorded using an Audio-Technica AT2035 studio condenser microphone through a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 14m 40s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes [iTunes link], subscribe via our dedicated podcast RSS feed (or better yet, given that Google has now killed Reader, sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player below:

Tim Peter

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October 16, 2014

Will E-commerce Kill Retail?

October 16, 2014 | By | One Comment

Woman shopping phoneeMarketer has new research out that asks how much longer will traditional stores remain shoppers’ favorite, with the underlying premise being that traditional retail is doomed. But is that really true? Will e-commerce kill retail?

Well, with all due respect to my friends at eMarketer, this is a silly question. How long will traditional stores remain shoppers’ favorite channel?

Forever. At least for most purchases. And at least if you do it right.

First, let’s dig into the research. Here’s the good news:

“Among digital shoppers worldwide, 72% said the traditional store experience was important when making a purchase—the highest percentage out of locations and channels studied. The internet landed second, at 67%.”

Customers actually prefer the in-store experience over any other channel when making a purchase.

Even more good news for most retail outlets:

“Despite mobile’s rise and rumors of showrooming, smartphone websites and apps trailed behind in-store tech and even email as important channels for purchases.”

Of course, every silver lining has a cloud, right? Here’s the not-so-good:

“Capgemini noted that physical shops faced a grimmer future: Digital shoppers worldwide planned to order directly from brand manufacturers more in the coming years (65%), up ordering via a manufacturer’s app (53%) or third-party app (50%), spend more money on the internet than in a brick-and-mortar (51%) and turn to stores for showrooming rather than purchases (48%).”

Well, sure. When customers have experiences like those in yesterday’s podcast episode, “When It’s All E-commerce Goes Wrong”, of course customers would rather shop online.

But… it doesn’t have to be this way. I’ve said many times that all marketing is social. And that’s because all people are social. For many, many people, it’s a lot more fun to get out and mill about at the mall (or whatever its future equivalent may be), than it is to sit at home. And it always will be.

Remember, I do digital for a living, love it, and breathe it. That doesn’t change the fact that human beings are social creatures. Digital, mobile, online — whatever you want to call it — is incredibly convenient. It makes it easy to shop and buy the things you want, when you want, where you want, and how you want. I recently needed to get some replacement water filters for my refrigerator. Ordering online offered a fantastic way to accomplish that goal as a.) I didn’t need the product today, and b.) I don’t particularly enjoy shopping for refrigerator filters.

Of course, e-commerce and digital provides customers a convenient way to shop when and where they want for all sorts of products and services, including much more highly considered and personal purchases than water filters. It’s not e-commerce or traditional retail. It’s e-commerce and retail, working together that provides the greatest benefits to both you and your customers.

What will change, though, is what it means to be a “traditional” retailer. Take a look at what Birchbox is doing with its new storefront, Amazon’s new storefront in Manhattan, or Apple’s exceedingly successful retail strategy. Each takes a different approach to solving customers’ retail needs. And, yes, it’s not guaranteed that all three will succeed in the long run (though Apple sure seems to have a bright road ahead).

Marketing in a mobile, social, digital era differs from the past in that your customers can easily find a preferable alternative — especially if you don’t offer them an attractive option today. But that’s a choice you make, every day. Make the right one, and your customers will continue to choose you for a long time to come.

If you’re interested in learning even more about how customers changing behavior shapes e-commerce and marketing, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

Plus, don’t miss these slides and video from my recent webinar, “Digital Marketing Directions: Three Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year”:

Finally, you might also want to check out some of our past coverage of the mobile, local, social web and how to make it work for your business, including:

Tim Peter

By

October 15, 2014

When It’s All E-commerce Goes Wrong – Thinks Out Loud Episode 94

October 15, 2014 | By | No Comments

Waiting in line

When It’s All E-commerce Goes Wrong Headlines and Show Notes

You might also enjoy the slides from my recent webinar, Digital Marketing Directions: Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year,:

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Technical details: Recorded using an Audio-Technica AT2035 studio condenser microphone through a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 16m 35s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes [iTunes link], subscribe via our dedicated podcast RSS feed (or better yet, given that Google has now killed Reader, sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player below: