I’m Just a Little Bit in Love with This

I’m just a little bit in love with a great presentation by Martin Weigel.

I didn’t want to get in the way between you and this presentation – but it’s important to remember that there is a huge perception gap between what WE think consumers want, and what they EXPECT from us. It’s not even that we have to CLOSE the gap – just acknowledge it is there. Then we can get to work on truly inspirational customer experiences.

I'll Give You All I Can... Brandon Warren via Compfight

Content Marketing in Australia Needs a Wakeup Call

The Content Marketing Institute’s new report on Content Marketing in Australia is timed nicely for the upcoming Content Marketing Conference (4-6 March 2013). The report contrasts the content marketing approaches taken by marketers in Australia vs the USA and reinforces much that we already know:

  • Over 60% of marketers expect to increase or significantly increase their expenditure on content marketing in 2013
  • Australian B2B marketers prefer LinkedIn as a social channel while B2C prefer Facebook
  • B2B marketers allocate higher proportions of their budget to content marketing activities than their B2C counterparts
  • A large proportion of marketers outsource content creation (B2C 74% // B2B 54%)

These findings, however, should raise alarm bells for CMOs across Australia.

  • Poor digital capabilities inhibit success. While 96% of Australian marketers use content marketing, the tactical choices favour traditional marketing channels with much lower levels of investment in experimentation and digital engagement. Marketers should set aside greater levels of budget to experiment and innovate around digital and social media. Training and workshop/conference attendance  should be provided to help more traditional marketers to transition their skills.
  • Weak digital strategy delivers weak outcomes. Weakness in digital strategy is seeing a misalignment between content marketing objectives/focus and measures of success. Marketers should draw upon skilled digital practitioners beyond their organisation (and even their industry), to begin to correctly align their business and marketing strategies.
  • Conservative channel choice cripples engagement. Marketers the world over are challenged to create engaging content, yet continue to focus on non-digital channels which produce high-levels of engagement. Again, experimentation is vital. Also, look to pure-play agencies to bolster internal skills for particular marketing programs – for example, work with a social media agency on a social media project, bring in a digital experience expert to reinvigorate the online customer experience.
  • Lack of effectiveness is undermining confidence. Content marketing effectiveness levels remain abysmally low, undermining confidence in marketers and the work produced by their agencies and suppliers. After correctly aligning strategy (as noted above), marketers should build metrics and analytics dashboards to report on effectiveness. Investigate options from companies like Anametrix.
  • Executive buy-in to content marketing needs to be revitalised: Connecting results with effort will give marketers the tools to gain buy-in from their Boards and from senior executives. Investments in analytics and reporting software that aggregates multi-channel data should be prioritised.

The detailed report appears below.  Remember to check out the Content Marketing Conference, using the code CMI200 will save you $200 when registering.

You Thought Siri Was Cool Until You Got Google Glass

I can remember my first bulky personal digital assistant (PDA). It was cumbersome, hard to use and ugly. Very ugly. But I loved it. It felt like a ripple in the fabric of the future.

While at university, I took notes on this PDA, scrambling to jot bullet points into the slim LED screen and save them before we moved onto the next subject. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes I lost whole lectures when the AA batteries failed. But even then I realised that there was serious value in being able to search through lecture notes on-the-fly.

And then along came the Palm Pilot. I thought the handwriting recognition was a breakthrough. As I skimmed my stylus across the plastic screen I really felt that I was experiencing another of those ripples in the fabric of the future. It was the right device at the right time – a bridge between my analog and digital worlds. But it wasn’t just a PDA, it was a phone too. And it was changing the world.

With each new innovation, the barriers between me and my device would evaporate. They became easier to use, smarter, friendlier – and dare I say it – more human. Each iteration would be less about the device and more about the experience. My experience. It was like the technology was disappearing before my eyes.

Recently, when Siri came along, we celebrated as if the world had turned on its side. Apple had somehow, again, not only innovated on top of its already innovative iPhone platform – they trumped themselves and changed our relationship with the technology. Now you didn’t even need to swipe and type, you could speak. You could ask questions.


And we all loved Siri. But, for me, Siri was a constant reminder that I was using a device. A particular device. It called out my own reliance on that device and its manufacturer – for always in the background, there was that awareness that the experience was being delivered only by Apple. In many ways, Siri wasn’t just a ripple in the fabric of the future, it was the rock that caused the splash.

But Google’s Glass project fascinates me – partly because it is literally transparent.

As you can see from this video, it’s freshly intuitive – and that’s saying something considering Google’s usually clunky interfaces. But the thing that excites me most is the way that experience – human experience – is front and centre. For decades, technology has drawn us away from the body and focused our minds on the screen. But here, we are celebrating, not the technology, but the body in action. It’s technology taking a back seat. It’s the always on Kodak moment.

And its the closest we’ve yet seen to the future.

At least until the next ripple.

Water Drop ~ Explored ~ Sergiu Bacioiu via Compfight

Group Buying Code of Practice Tightens

Group buying has proven popular in Australia. In 2012, the market generated $504 million, and according to a December 2012 study by Telsyte, the top five sites showed year-on-year growth of over 9%.

However, it is not all roses. Competition is fierce and the size of the market is not expected to grow as strongly this year. That means we can expect consolidation at some point.

But the industry has also suffered from a range of issues and has been the subject of complaints from consumers and merchants alike.

To combat this, ADMA, the principal industry body for data-driven marketing and advertising, became involved in writing the Group Buying Code of Practice last year.  The aim was to set a best practice benchmark for group buying in Australia.

The code which is voluntary, boasts foundation members Cudo, Groupon, LivingSocial, OurDeal, Deals.com.au, Ouffer and Scoopon – but Spreets has changed its business model and will no longer be a signatory to the Code.

A recent review recommended changes to the code, which the ADMA Code Authority will be enforcing. The changes to the Group Buying Code of Practice include:

  • New Code Authority powers to spot check group buying company compliance
  • Requirements for more detailed terms and conditions (no more surprises for consumers)
  • Tighter controls over how many vouchers are sold – helping ensure merchants understand and can meet their obligations
  • Clear and unambiguous refund policies which must be readily accessible with each offer
  • Improved complaints handling with defined response times for queries and complaints (1 business day) to reduce consumer frustration
  • Defined complaint resolution timeframes set at 10 working days — unless there is a reasonable expectation the process will take longer — but no more than 30 days.

The ADMA Code Authority will proactively conduct checks on the websites and offers made to the public. Signatories can be identified by the Group Buying Code Member logo which will be on their websites and offers.

@Doug88888 via Compfight

Five Must-Read Posts from Last Week

This week there has been plenty of discussion around the world of digital. From metrics to trust  and selling to strategy, it feels like digital – as a disruptive force – is itself being disrupted. This reinforces the sense that we must continuously update our skills and expertise – and work with one foot in the present and an eye on the future.

  1. Great article from Ben Kunz on the changing world of digital metrics. In Going for Global Metrics, comScore Dismisses Clicks, he explains that changing consumer behaviour warrants a rethinking of what we measure and how we measure in the digital domain.
  2. Drew McLellan says the hard sell doesn’t work anymore and argues that Selling Shouldn’t Equal Annoying. I think I agree.
  3. I almost missed this one – but am glad I didn’t. Roger Martin reminds us that Strategy is Not Planning.
  4. Have you ever shared a link without checking it first? Admit it! Well, Adrian Snood has a warning for you.
  5. Ellis Hamburger says you’re not gonna Like it: Facebook’s new search struggles with the real world

Waving Goodbye to Posterous

Bye Bye PosterousI have long been a fan of Posterous. It was a platform that was ridiculously easy to use – and was a great introduction to social media for those who were (or remain) cautious of technology and online publishing.

But when Twitter acquired Posterous in 2012, it was only a matter of time before it was made redundant. And now we know that Posterous will be turned off on April 30, 2013. Making the announcement on the official Posterous blog, founder, Sachin Agarwal, thanked the users and supporters of Posterous and explained how to backup and download your site:

  1. Go to http://posterous.com/#backup.
  2. Click to request a backup of your Space by clicking “Request Backup” next to your Space name.
  3. When your backup is ready, you’ll receive an email.
  4. Return to http://posterous.com/#backup to download a .zip file.

I’ve started the process of moving the various Posterous sites that I have created. I will probably move them to a WordPress site of some kind – when I have the time … but I do so a little sadly.

Posterous’ ease-of-use was a phenomenal wake-up call to the rest of the web world. It will be a shame to see it disappear. Let’s hope the Posterous focus on simplicity impacts the Twitter product roadmap. After all, we don’t need more features, we need a better experience in our use of technology. And for my money, simplicity it the key.

What’s in Your Startup DNA

There’s plenty of hype around startups – and around the founders of those startups. We buy books (books, really? Yes!) written by startup entrepreneurs, attend talks, download podcasts and go to  conferences. Sometimes it can feel like meeting a rockstar rather than a business person.

But for every startup, there are countless others, often behind the scenes, who have helped drive those startup successes and the failures that they are built on.

This great presentation by Yevgeniy Brikman is the view from the front row. It talks about the nitty gritty of startups. It’s not the big ideas or the grand plans. It’s the stuff that makes the business tick. And it makes you think … what’s in your startup DNA – and how deep does that go.

Image: Creative Commons License Kevin Dooley via Compfight

Five Must-Read Posts from Last Week

The last week seems to have been introspective – a looking back rather than looking forward. And also a sense of pausing before the next onward push. Maybe it is to do with the (now) Chinese Year of the Snake. Or maybe it’s just a collective deep breath. Either way, these five must-read posts from last week go deep. Take a snorkel. And a box of tissues.

  1. In this busy world, rather than rushing to do, sometimes we need to take time out, disconnect from the world and reconnect with our sense of purpose. Anne Lise Kjaer says we need Time to Think.
  2. Often when we think about marketing strategy, we think about “touch points”. But what does it mean to really touch someone? What does it mean to break through their senses and change someone’s life? Theo Priestley reminds us that the customer experience IS the journey
  3. A powerful, personal story by Alexander Ross Charchar on the colours of grief
  4. Our dreams can take us on unexpected journeys – they can feel real and sometimes even more than real. But how would you describe the night you met Tom Waits?
  5. Marketing may be the art of stimulating desire – but it’s heart taps profoundly human characteristics. Sometimes we have to look behind the scenery.

Gustin Shows Why Retailers Still Don’t Get Digital

For years, Australian retailers have under-invested in digital. They held back technology investment, closed down innovation programs and hired traditional marketers when they should have been growing their own breed of tech-savvy innovators. And while retailers had their heads in the sand, the world changed.

Recent failures like ClickFrenzy have been down played and it’s clear that even the retailers with some digital budget are unprepared for the fast moving transformation taking place thanks to mobile.

In spite of all the trends, facts, figures and forecasts, retailers remain unconvinced. What is driving this myopic view of the future of business? In many ways, it feels like a classic illustration of the The Innovator’s Dilemma – companies (and indeed a whole industry) misses out on new waves of innovation because they are unable to capitalise on disruptive technologies.

But I also think retailers are captives of “Big Thinking”. Because they operate at scale, big thinking clouds their judgement. It’s easy to discount competitors when they generate sales that are fractions of a percentage of your business. But it’s not the percentage that’s important, its the velocity and momentum.

Hand made men’s clothing manufacturer, Gustin, illustrate this shift beautifully. They launched a Kickstarter campaign some time ago with the aim of raising $20,000. The premise was simple:

  • Capitalise on their growing brand and reputation for premium menswear hand-crafted in San Francisco
  • Allow for pre-purchasing of products through crowdsourcing – perfectly matching the demand and supply chains
  • Deliver the retail items to customers directly at wholesale price

Now, with two days before the campaign closes, Gustin have massively over-reached their goal. Currently sitting at almost $407,000, Gustin have smashed the target, connecting with almost 4000 new customers and validating not only their approach but also whole product lines.

And all this was done by taking an outside-in view of their business.

Until other retailers can transform the way they think about their business, their customers and the experience they provide, they will continue to struggle with this new world of digital.

Let Your Customers Tell the Story of Your Brand

We have lived for many years with the illusion of control. We believed that we could:

  • Control the experience of our brand
  • Manage the way our brand was represented
  • Dictate the messaging people used when discussing our brand

To administer this, and to reinforce our sense of ownership of our brand, we created processes, guidelines and tools of management that enforced consistency, clarity and style. We measured our control in pixels and pantone colours. And we sat at our desks in the contented glow of our three ring binders, style guides and brand books.

And because we controlled the medium in which our brands were discussed (or at least paid large sums to those broadcasting our messages), we came to see this belief in control as truth. This, in time, made us happy.

And then along came the web. It was billed as a levelled playing field but it was really a simulation of what had gone before – the means of publishing production remained centralized, controlled and administered. But a new power was created. The ascendency of the geeks was underway and the promise of the world wide web remained tantalisingly close – veiled behind layers of code and techno-speak.

It was not until the advent of the social web that publishing, distribution and creation was democratized (of course, consumption is another question). Now, anyone with an internet connection (yes, even mobile), can engage in the publishing process.

This social media free-for-all remains a challenge for many brands. In fact, despite Australian audiences ranking amongst the most avid consumers of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, many companies still tread warily around the edges of social without a clear strategy to engage, participate or simply listen.

But for every story of risk and corporate fear, we also see celebrations. For whether we like it or not, our customer use the products and services we create – generating unique experiences and amazing results.

Look what happens when high school student Melody Green produces a video documentary of her school science experiment. Not only does she tell the powerful and exciting story of a young girl learning about high altitude science (should be more of it) … it generates story after story:

Getting behind this kind of momentum is a brilliant move by GoPro and the High Altitude Science folks. It’s a great example of what can happen when you do let your customers tell the story of your brand. But it’s amazing what happens when you not only let that story be told, but you actively promote that as PART of your brand.

Just think … you could do that too. Today rather than obsessing over the negative, shine a little light on the great things your customers say. It might just amaze you.