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76|Cash, Celebrities and The Culture (The Tanning of America Review)

In this week’s episode of MasterMind Podcast, Malia and Chris are taking a break from having a special guest and talking about all things Hip Hop during their review of the book, “The Tanning of America” by Steve Stoute. During the conversation Chris and Malia share what celebrity had the best clothing line, how Hip Hop artists have made companies and brands significant amount of money and recognition and why hip hop plays a huge role in politics. Make sure you’re following and subscribed to us on all platforms to keep up with our lit reviews and to join our reading community if you want to tap into more success, learn more about entrepreneurship, invest in yourself or if you simply like reading for fun: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeart Radio, Youtube, and Apple Podcast. From Los Angeles, California to Charlotte, North Carolina, reading has NEVER been this lit!!!

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Using the scientific method to test digital marketing strategies

30-second summary:

  • Using internal and external data pulled through online conversations and technology such as artificial intelligence can help fuel the “question and research” phase of a company’s scientific approach to marketing strategies.
  • Increasing content personalization, adjusting ad spend, and implementing chat bots can all be effective ways companies can test different hypothesis.
  • Once you’ve gone through your data and tested different strategies to see which best align with your business goals and objectives, then you’ll be able to continue to build out and expand on these tactics to innovate in ways that best suit your business.
  • Even with all the uncertainty of 2020 this is also an ideal time to establish or revamp digital marketing strategies, not only positioning your business to rebound more successfully, but to prepare for an even-faster-evolving world.

This far into an unprecedented global pandemic, we’ve all made significant personal and professional changes. The dramatic effect of the pandemic on businesses and marketing strategies across industries can’t be understated. But as ever-changing customer preferences and buying habits evolve and morph at an even more rapid pace, how can your business keep up?

Planning for the future can feel like an exercise in futility given the uncertainty we’re in, but it’s also a golden opportunity to showcase the flexibility you’ve built into your marketing strategy. Here are ways you and your company can apply a scientific approach to help build or expand an agile, tech-enabled, marketing strategy.

1) Ask a question and research

The amount of data you have at your fingertips should have no limit. From predictive analytics, to online conversations, there are incredible amounts of insights ripe for analysis. Here are a few examples:

AI and predictive analytics

Artificial intelligence (AI)-based crisis modeling and predictive analytics use real-time data modeling to create a more accurate picture of what to expect in the future.

Using what is now close to nine months’ worth of internal data points like business metrics including web traffic, social media traffic, conversion rates, customer service metrics, and comparing them to sales, as well as publicly available data on COVID-19 (e.g., rate of infection and hospitalization by geography), you can create a robust snapshot of how your sales have been affected by the changes in buying behavior during the pandemic.

Then, taking these data points and extrapolating them over the coming fiscal year or two, AI and machine learning can provide you with:

  • More accurate, data-driven sales forecast projections based on crisis scenarios in different geographies;
  • Projected customer churn and retention analytics;
  • Tailored marketing and advertising effectiveness assessments;
  • Specific product sales trends analysis; and
  • Real-time insights and analytics on social media, customer experience, and customer sentiment.

You can then use those outputs to adjust your marketing strategy as you go. Data builds on data, and your models only get better over time.

Online conversations

Looking at online conversations — who’s talking about what in real time, and where they’re located — can help you focus digital marketing efforts and engage with former, current, and prospective customers.

Using social listening tools, look at your social media and digital channels to see what customers in different geographic areas or verticals are talking or asking about, and tweak your strategy to better support them — whether that’s more frequent informational updates, crisis-specific promotions, or even fun social media posts highlighting how your employees are social distancing.

You can also start to identify and build a data-driven influencer strategy​ leveraging the same social listening insights: who are the authorities in your space and to your audience? Has that changed during the pandemic? Are your audience’s needs changing, and how is their sentiment changing?

You might see seasonality trends tied to COVID-19 cases in a geographic area, where sentiment changes from summer to winter and can then use that sentiment to soften or ramp up messaging or leverage different types of influencers.

Last, take a look at your competitors’ social channels to understand what they’re doing during the pandemic, and how they’re taking care of or serving their customers. If you see a number of customers asking for something a competitor can’t offer, it might be an opportunity for you to fill a void by retooling or changing the positioning around your products and services.

2) Form a hypothesis and test it

Once you’ve looked into the questions you’re asking, it’s time to experiment with potential solutions, like ways to increase personalization, adjust ad spend, and implement chat bots.

Content personalization

You know you’ve got to get the right content to the right customer at the right time. Before the pandemic, personalization was about shopping habits and previous purchases—which are still useful. But intra-pandemic, shopping habits vary widely, and previous purchases may not be indicative of future ones (remember the great toilet paper rush of March 2020?).

Now, you need really tightly edited data that helps you understand: who is your customer, how many times have you contacted them, and in what channels? Whether you’re a retailer or B2B seller, having a complete view of your integrated touchpoints enables you to categorize leads into hot or cold and create contextual messaging that is more likely to convert.

In B2B sales, “Account-Based Marketing” is a buzz word, but any marketer can apply the main principles: ​

  • Tap into your anonymous first-party web engagement data and third-party intent data from an ABM service like DemandBase to refine target customers. You’ll see lower cost of leads and more engagement.
  • This in turn allows you to create more personalizedemails, social outreach, and phone calls​, and retarget abandons.
  • Use past data in combination with buyer intent data to level up your retention effort, focusing on existing customers to upsell and cross-sell new products to them​ that make sense—not just for what they’ve bought, but for what they’ve have searched for online.

Ad spend

Many businesses have pulled their ads from online and print newspapers and magazines, radio, and television because they’re unlikely right now to see a lot of return (especially if the ads seem tone-deaf for the times).

Instead, digital advertising can be an easier, more effective and sometimes less costly way to optimize your ad spend and keep your business top of mind with customers, especially if you’ve shifted to new services or have messaging to convey regarding your pandemic response.

Tactics like Google Ads and Facebook boosted posts allow targeting to specific geographic areas, among other demographics, and provide ways to analyze how many customers clicked on your ad, the demographics of those customers, and whether they took actions based on specific promotions.

Added into with your existing analytics, including customer behavior and intent data, these additional data points can provide a more complete picture of your buyer.


While chat bots are not right for every business or customer challenge, they can be a great stopgap to deploy in periods of extremely high volume—like when everyone is shopping online. Customers have become accustomed to using tools like Facebook Messenger and Twitter to interact with brands, and they often expect a response within minutes.

If you can’t ramp to meet those volumes, you can quickly set up if-this-then-that chatbots to handle simple but common inquiries. For example, customers may be asking “What has your response to the pandemic been?” or “How will my service be affected by COVID-19?”

A chatbot can immediately analyze the question, detect certain keywords and phrasing, and send them a link or fact sheet with company messaging around the pandemic — improving a customer’s experience by getting them predetermined answers more quickly than their having to wait for a human.

If you’ve already implemented chatbots and like the results, you’re likely looking into other areas of automation. Bots can handle order tracking, real-time status updates, order processing, invoicing, and many other backend processes.

Advanced marketing automation tools can bring together your data, personalization, and automation strategies for a seamless customer experience. Automation opportunities are continuing to grow for the savvy marketer willing to invest time and experimentation in them.

3) Draw conclusions and keep collecting data—and adjusting your strategy

Once you’ve gone through your data and tested different strategies to see which best align with your business goals and objectives, then you’ll be able to continue to build out and expand on these tactics to innovate in ways that best suit your business.

This is where your agility comes into play: by constantly analyzing what the data is telling you, you can tweak and refine your strategy.

Moving forward

There is no doubt that the coming weeks and months will be challenging for marketers. Uncertainties abound, from how well we can contain the spread of the coronavirus, to what federal and state economies will look like over the next year or two, to where consumers will spend their dollars with many people out of work.

Yet this is also an ideal time to establish or revamp your digital marketing strategies, not only positioning your business to rebound more successfully, but to prepare for an even-faster-evolving world. If you’re not sure how to start implementing digital tools and technologies, look for trusted partners and consultants who can help guide you.

Lyssa Myska Allen is Vice President, Global Head of Marketing, Digital for Hinduja Global Solutions (HGS).

The post Using the scientific method to test digital marketing strategies appeared first on ClickZ.

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The importance of innovating for the experience economy

30-second summary:

  • In 1998, the term “experience economy” entered the business lexicon as a way to define the commoditization of experiences, differentiating them from goods and services as crucial consumer-driven offerings.
  • Innovating for experiences is critical for businesses who are navigating a changed experience landscape post-COVID. Companies must learn how to identify products and services that are ripe for innovation and can meet the changing needs and preferences of their customers.
  • Capgemini’s Adam Rubin provides some insight on how businesses can leverage technology and data to keep customers engaged.
  • Rubin notes that technology will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of the experience economy, particularly in a post-pandemic world.

The term experience economy is a phrase that describes a shift in the way consumers interact with businesses, and encapsulates how this shift is forcing (or inspiring) companies to innovate their product and service offerings to accommodate a different set of consumer expectations.

The transformation of a goods-based economy to a service-based economy to an experience-based economy has been occurring for over twenty years.

A 1998 article in Harvard Business Review by authors B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore notes that the commoditization of experiences is a result of the progression of perceived economic value (e.g., instead of baking a birthday cake from scratch, parents look for a place to host a birthday party that includes the entertainment, the party favors, and the cake).

The progression of economic value—Source: Harvard Business Review

Pine and Gilmore write, “An experience is not an amorphous construct; it is as real an offering as any service, good, or commodity. In today’s service economy, many companies simply wrap experiences around their traditional offerings to sell them better.”

Now, twenty-two years later, the experience economy has fully taken hold thanks to a combination of technology, data, consumer demand and, most recently, the rapidly changing needs of consumers due to the coronavirus.

Leveraging technology and data

We asked Adam Rubin, the Head of Innovation and Enablement at Capgemini Invent, to weigh in on how businesses can leverage technology and data to keep customers engaged.

Headquartered in France, Capgemini is a global technology consulting firm that works with companies to help innovate, automate, and embrace digital transformation. Capgemini Invent is a business line within Capgemini that combines strategy, technology, data science and creative design to solve the most complex business and technology challenges.

“The experience economy is about B2C and B2B interactions that are elevated and customized to individuals and organizations, going beyond products and services into deeper, longer, more personalized engagements,” writes Rubin.

“You’re not drinking coffee; you’re going to Starbucks. You’re not waiting at the airport gate, you’re in the SkyClub Lounge. You’re not buying a phone; you’re happily hanging out in the Apple Store for the afternoon. Experiences are memorable and emotional, and customers seek them out because they deliver disproportionate value over the commoditized alternatives.”

This year has posed a challenge to the experience economy, with businesses that thrive on the promise of good experiences (amusement parks, restaurants, events, and hotels/destinations) all but shut down because of the virus.

A July report from PwC found that the accommodation and food sectors were the hardest hit in the UK due to the pandemic, with arts, entertainment, and recreation following closely behind.

These industries rely on traditional experiences to thrive—that is, people congregating in a shared environment creates the experience.

COVID-19 has forced businesses in all industries, but particularly these sectors, to be innovative. For example, many restaurants and retailers have created curbside pickup models using apps, websites, and other technology to facilitate the process.

Businesses who want to survive (and thrive) during the pandemic—and beyond—absolutely must learn how to create and identify products and services that prioritize experiences.

Identifying products and services that create great experiences

Identifying products and services that are ripe for innovation and can meet the changing needs and preferences of consumers is an incredible opportunity for businesses. To be successful at this, businesses need to put experience first, designing their offerings so that the experience is inherently part of the offering.

“Experience-design is an avenue to escape the undifferentiated abyss of commoditization,” explains Rubin. “So, to the extent that there’s a product or service area that companies want to preserve or grow, innovation through experience-design is a good tactic.”

To embrace this approach, Rubin recommends identifying the products and services that occupy people and businesses’ time without delivering value. Ask the question: What drains people’s time?

“Waiting rooms in doctors’ offices. Commuting for suburbanites. These are places and spaces that people are constantly trying to ‘pass the time.’ These are opportunities for companies to engage people, stimulate their senses, enrich their lives, overdeliver, and exceed expectations,” writes Rubin.

Rubin also recommends looking at areas of life where people construct their own solutions from disparate products and services, weaving them into solutions that work better for them.

What are some common hacks? When and where are people finding ways to compensate for a partial-solutions offered by companies? These are places to find opportunities to elevate goods and services to meaningful experiences.

When innovating for modern experiences, it’s important to understand what consumers value.

In a recent article in The Conversation, writer and marketing professor Brendan Canavan notes a new tourism trend that revolves around people’s desire for attention. The ability to share and gain attention from your travels equals a good experience.

Canavan writes, “It may be time to add a new layer to Pine and Gilmore’s progression of economic development, in which value is added by facilitating performances. People are now willing to pay for goods, services and experiences that support their gaining of attention.”

The future of the experience economy

The future of the experience economy will unquestionably involve data and technology. It will also likely support the gaining of attention. These days, sharing experiences has never been easier thanks to social media, mobile connectivity, and the fact that pretty much everyone carries a camera in their pocket.

Rubin agrees that technology will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of the experience economy, particularly in a post-pandemic world.

“I’m the millionth person to remark that the virus has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies and in mere months, it has driven more transformation within business and for customers than what was expected over multiple years,” writes Rubin.

With assets and resources being reworked and redeployed through digital channels, it’s not just nice to have products and services provide optimal digital experiences, it’s essential.

“As an example, prior to the pandemic, video collaboration tools had a set of standard, ubiquitous features. It didn’t matter what you used, you just used what your company gave you. But now that we’re all literally dependent on these services, we’re noticing the differences and its pretty easy to imagine the ways in which they can be finely-tuned to deliver rich experiences, not just delivering a video conference service,” writes Rubin.

“Imagine how good a virtual doctor’s visit could be if the user experience was tailored for the physician-patient interaction. Or the teacher-student interaction. Or the coach-athlete interaction. The experience economy will leverage digital technologies to further customize to niche needs, where the marginal cost of delivering customizations is zero, and where the impact on people’s lives will be greatly felt.”

The post The importance of innovating for the experience economy appeared first on ClickZ.

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Biggest LEGO Set Ever: The 9036-Piece Roman Colosseum

At 9036 pieces, the Roman Colosseum is the largest LEGO set ever offered, surpassing the 7,541-piece Star Wars Millennium Falcon by a longshot. The iconic Colosseum has been carefully designed to match ruins of the original Roman amphitheater. Fans of history and architecture will appreciate the design’s accurate detail—from the 3 different types of bricks comprising its exterior to the columns matching distinct historic eras. It measures 10.5” and 23.5” across. Drops November 27, Black Friday.

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Nomad launches its fitness-focused Sport Strap

Apple’s own Sport Band is a hard one to beat but we think Nomad is onto something with their new Sport Strap. Compatible with every Apple Watch model, the fitness-focused strap is constructed out of durable, waterproof, and oil-resistant FKM fluoroelastomer rubber that is perfect for intense …

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Jeep reveals its most powerful 4×4 ever, the Wrangler Rubicon 392

The Jeep Wrangler is getting some serious grunt for the 2021 model year with the reveal of the brand’s most powerful model to date, the Wrangler Rubicon 392. Powered by a 6.4L V8 with 470 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque, the new high-performance Jeep can get from 0-60 in just 4.5 seconds while still …

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Buffalo Trace launches its 1995 Vintage O.F.C. Bourbon

Buffalo Trace’s acclaimed O.F.C. series launches its latest bourbon, a 1995 Vintage, which is also the fourth release for the small batch label. The 1995 Vintage will be incredibly limited with just 1,500 bottles for the year. The bourbon will come housed in a wooden display box with a provenance …

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Worn & Wound releases an adventure tool watch in collaboration with Christopher Ward

Worn & Wound’s Windup Watch Shop releases its first collaboration with British watchmaker Christopher Ward, an adventure tool watch called the C65 Sandstorm. Inspired by the world’s of desert rally racing and overlanding, the watches feature 38mm cases with a unique sector dial featuring metal …

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Protectionist behavior & isolationism in affiliate marketing harm the modern marketer

30-second summary:

  • Legacy founders and experts have exhibited protectionist behavior in Affiliate Marketing, a behavior that harms today’s marketer.
  • Skilled affiliate practitioners have been held back and unfairly limited from increasing their ability to contribute strategically, by a category that has deliberately and systematically segregated itself from the broader marketing ecosystem due to measurement fears.
  • A continued dependence on the last-click attribution models that inequitably reward the cash-back and coupon publishers who have defined the category since its inception, does marketers a profound disservice.
  • The industry should worry less about recasting a narrative and much more about demonstrating that we are a rock solid strategic category built on integrity, having learned from our history and the history of other channels.
  • The C-Suite can benefit by using the category to create operating leverage and fuel sustainable growth.

Recently, Impact’s Matt Moore authored a byline — one part explainer and one part future vision — on the affiliate marketing space, relative to marketing as a whole. Meant to advise the modern marketer, it was provocative. But was it accurate?

Rather than dissecting the author’s premise and narrative, instead, in the spirit of actually serving the marketer, it’s worth examining the definitions and vision expressed — and offering a counter if not better primer as a whole.

To start, the piece enters the very blunt premise that putting affiliate inside marketing limits its import and therefore its power. Affiliate as an ecosystem — which it very much is — deserves a detailed look, so that we can understand key connections across practices and methodologies.

The legacy ecosystem

Within the affiliate space, there is a core group of category experts, an “inside circle” of high-integrity, intelligent, and entrepreneurial professionals. They are “in category” founders, or they are OPM (outsourced program management) agency founders that have bootstrapped their success over a sustained period of years.

There also exists a comparatively small, relative to paid search, paid social, and programmatic, but dedicated group of skilled workers who execute the day-to-day operation of affiliate programs.

These skilled practitioners have been held back and unfairly limited from increasing their ability to contribute strategically, by a category that has deliberately and systematically segregated itself from the broader marketing ecosystem due to measurement fears. That blatant fear is corroborated by self-indulgent rallying cries like “we proved it!”

Here, in the confines of this insular pocket of the industry, we also see continued dependence on the last-click attribution models that inequitably reward the cash-back and coupon publishers who have defined the category since its inception. This does marketers a profound disservice.

The limitation of this category, and as a consequence the professionals within it, stems directly from elitist, status quo operating principles fueled by insecurities that have manifested themselves in a “grading our own homework” approach to incrementality measurement.

We have systematically built our own walled garden of attribution without even having the consolidated power of a Facebook or Google to shield us. This ignores the fact that transparency is the only path to legitimacy.

The stark truth is that the skill set required to elevate the category is rooted in an understanding, respect, and operational embrace of an approach that recognizes that our channel needs to work in tandem with primary sales and marketing channels.

To enable that requires a collective move beyond the status quo and a universal commitment to supporting the development of a cross discipline or T-shaped professional.

This category has not historically embraced that equalized approach and that myopic failure by resident Founder elites, not its association with the marketing discipline, is the primary limitation to the careers of our most deeply qualified professionals.

Similarities to the paid search agency ecosystem of old

Interestingly, when I entered the affiliate category in January of 2018, I was immediately struck by the similarities to the paid search agency ecosystem of the mid 2000s.

During this period, SEM subject matter expertise was largely concentrated in two places; (1) the limited managed services function of the paid search publishers (GOOG, ASKJ, MSN, YHOO), and; (2) a concentrated cohort of boutique specialists that emerged and thrived based on the marketer’s need for channel expertise in both the strategy and day to day management of a rapidly scaling paid marketing channel driving material increases in customer acquisition.

But something interesting happened in paid search that has not yet happened in affiliate, even though I’m here to tell you it should. The channel earned its seat at the CMO’s table.

If you’re looking for a lagging indicator of that ascension and the related influence on the specialist ecosystem, look no further than my industry colleague, David Rodnitzky’s, thoughtful view of what happens when the boutique agency starts to die.

As David states, “Scarcity was at its height in the early days of SEM, when SEM was still a ‘nice to have’ for most companies…” So, the real question to ask is why hasn’t this dynamic taken off in affiliate marketing yet? Why have we not seen a wave of consolidation of OPMs akin to the holding company feeding frenzy on SEM agencies over a decade ago?

It’s not as Moore’s article suggests, because we are putting “affiliate marketing programs in the marketing bucket,” or because “keywords don’t have feelings, but partners do.” It is because affiliate marketing has historically failed to address the core challenges that today’s marketer faces.

That is ironically, a problem perpetuated by legacy affiliate providers. Because of that bias, affiliate marketing simply hasn’t yet earned its uncontested right to ascend in the marketing category (or any other for that matter).

Among numerous failures of inaction, our legacy network incumbents have largely failed to address the partner diversification challenge at scale, effectively hindering innovation as larger corporate parents siphon off cash flow for other operating businesses.

They are holding steadfast against opening up the black box of attribution, and reluctant to provide both supply chain transparency and brand safety and compliance solutions on par with what has been achieved in other paid marketing channels.

Conversely, companies like the author’s have focused solely on software as the catalyst for change, emphasizing shiny product features and marketing narratives that portend a new category, without any measurable commitment to the transitional work that must be done to elevate the category from “nice to have” to this mythic visionary “promised land.”

Learning from past mistakes

The key point that Moore’s article misses is that you don’t just get to skip over the inherent obligation to do the hard work along the way by recasting a value proposition to appeal to the CEO. There are no shortcuts and the ecosystem will not be fooled into believing otherwise.

We can’t just pen bylines to attempt to divert attention away from prior failures. As evolution in our space persists, that won’t age well. And, it does the modern marketer a disservice. Owning historic failures and the learnings they deliver are the key to overcoming them.

Expanding the addressable market, opening up larger budgets, shifting the vision forward over the horizon away from shortcomings for which we haven’t made contrition is on some level very smart. It’s a big idea and big ideas certainly matter.

In time, with hard work, we agree that those markets will ultimately be activated. But, the unapologetic attempt to shift the category away from the marketing discipline, the very discipline and budget that underpins their livelihood and future growth opportunities, does damage because, quite simply, it hinders progress.

What matters are the results themselves and earning the right to appeal credibly for market expansion that is predicated on a foundation of repeatable, scalable, and verifiable success in our core market.

Final thoughts

So what does that mean? The CMOs I know (and Chief Growth Officers or Digital Officers for the matter) understand the need to create operating leverage in their unit economics, and know that the place that occurs is at the intersection of scale, automation, and outcome- based commercial models.

What they seek is an affiliate channel that allows them to accomplish that through transparency, automation, and service, not to mention actually solving the business problem not just blatantly changing the industry narrative.

Not one of them has ever expressed particular concern over the semantics of category naming conventions that Moore seems to unduly rail against. Our chief marketers need help and our collective opportunity is to finally deliver on our potential.

Afterall, as Forrester states in its recent 2021 predictions, “Strong CMOs Will Own Their Companies’ Regrowth.”

The 2021 CMO is exactly where this category should be focused. According to Forrester, “CMO leaders don’t supervise from afar. They don’t hope that tools, processes, and structures set up for another time with a different economy will get them through. And they don’t wait for someone else at their company to figure out the answers.”

What that means is that businesses need to be omni-present. Every opportunity to convey a brand impression integrated with a performance opportunity must be capitalized upon. This is an expensive proposition and our category is perfectly positioned to deliver a critical subsidy to other primary sales and marketing channels.

We should worry less about recasting a narrative and much more about demonstrating that we are a rock solid strategic category built on integrity, having learned from our history and the history of other channels, that is ready to elevate and become the partner that CEOs, CMOs, Chief Growth Officers, Chief Partnership Officers and anyone facing and marketing to the consumer can count on to create operating leverage and fuel sustainable growth around the world.

That is the enduring partnership ecosystem vision and practical application on which we should all unite and aspire to deliver.

The post Protectionist behavior & isolationism in affiliate marketing harm the modern marketer appeared first on ClickZ.

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Keep Winter Workouts Running with EXOspikes

For running, hiking, & winter walks, micro-spikes on your shoes can be the difference between a good workout & needing new front teeth. Kahtoola’s EXOspikes strap on to your sneakers or boots to ensure grip and traction on the slickest terrain. From sheer ice to crusty trails to that alpine summit ascent, the combo of stretchy TPU & grippy metal spikes keep you sure-footed.

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