Don’t Market Like it’s 2003. Get With the Program

Over the last six months or so, I have taken a deep dive into the world of Marketing Automation, Digital Disruption and Mobility and Marketing Trends. And with every report, I see evidence of the situation playing over and over again – there is a growing distance between business and customers. It’s not just a gap anymore – it’s a chasm:

In reality, we are not really dealing with a gap. It could be better described as a “mismatch” – after all, a “gap” would indicate some alignment. But the problem for brands is that the distance between the two sets of expectations [customers and businesses] is growing.

The pressure in this relationship rests firmly with the marketing team. Digital and social media has not only transformed the way that most marketers work, it has significantly added to the process of marketing. There’s so much more technology involved, more analytics, reporting and monitoring. There are more agencies to deal with and more relationships to manage. And targets. And budgets. And so on.

So the title of Mitch Joel’s new book struck a chord with me. Ctrl Alt Delete – we certainly need a reboot in the world of marketing. Let’s take a look at just a couple of the mind blowing stats he starts with:

  • 14% of businesses are not prepared to deal with the speed of today’s competitive landscape. Think about it. What happens to them? Do they just disappear Kodak-style? What happens to their customers and their employees?
  • 74% of businesses don’t have a plan to stay competitive in the mobile world. How many nimble competitors are already eyeing the potential markets that will become available?

The cost of entry to existing markets is so much lower than the cost of TRANSFORMATION. This is why new business models and disruptive competitors are able to quickly gain traction in YOUR markets. Here are a few ideas that you can use to help you cope:

  • Start a customer conversation: Who are your customers? I don’t mean “segments” or “personas” … I mean “real names”. Run a quick check over your records and identify 10 of your best customers and 10 of your worst. Reach out to them and ask them what they like and don’t like about you. See what you can fix and what you can do more of.
  • Run a poll on your website: Get feedback on one or two of your products by running a poll on your website. SurveyMonkey is great – or you could just use Twtpoll. You might be surprised about what you learn.
  • Dig into your website analytics: Don’t tell me you haven’t even installed Google Analytics on your website! If you haven’t, do so. It’s easy. And if you don’t know how, ask Twitter. Once you have stats coming through, look up “Traffic Sources” and learn about how your customers find you. Look at the search terms they use and the links they click to come to your site. Are you solving the right problems?
  • Make your website mobile friendly: “Responsive design” is a hot topic at the moment. But most of the robust content management systems have responsive design templates or plugins that can be easily added to your site. At the minimum, add responsive design templates/capabilities to your blog – after all, Google Analytics will show you that about 25% of traffic comes from mobiles.
  • Start or update your blog: What? Still no blog? That’s so 2003. If you haven’t started a blog, it’s never too late to do so. Start today (just check out IBM’s cool Tumblr as an easy-to-run example). Download WordPress and get going. And if you have a blog that hasn’t been updated for months, write a post and link to this article. Explain you are getting back on the bandwagon because you WANT to hear from your customers.
  • Go social: Whether you like it or not, social is here to stay. But you need to get your hands dirty. Setup an account on Twitter or on Facebook. Do a little stalking to find out what your customers are talking about. Connect and slowly build out a strategy. Be sure to own that strategy – and don’t delegate it to the intern. Make it part of your business and use it to learn more about your customers, partners, suppliers and even employees. CEOs all over the world are doing it, why can’t you?

From Big Data Science to Big Data Action

From the dawn of civilisation through to the year 2003, Google calculates that humans have produced 5 exabytes of data. That’s a lot of stone tablets. But with the explosion of mobile devices, 3G and 4G networks and social networks, we now produce 5 exabytes of data every two days. That means that every photo you upload to Flickr or Facebook, every video you share with friends on YouTube or Vimeo and every one of the billions of tweets broadcast on Twitter is contributing to the avalanche of data.

But add to this the fact that each of these items comes with contextual data. At the same time that you update your profile or publish a photo, you may also be sharing your geolocation, your likes and preferences, your upstream and downstream behaviours, and your attitude to topics (based on sentiment). You may also be sharing your trust network of on and offline friends.

And this is just the tip of the big data iceberg.

The rise of big data is a blessing and a curse for CMOs

While analytics have been available to businesses for decades, but it has largely been the domain of business analysts and researchers. The rise of big data now places analytics firmly in the marketers court. Earlier in the year, a CMO Council and SAS report indicated that only 26% of marketers leverage customer data and analytics to improve decisions, targeting and personalisation.

The blessing of big data is that it is readily available to most organisations in the form of structured business data and the publicly available unstructured data coming from social networks. The curse is that in-house skills and experience with big data is scarce – with a number of marketers now looking to bolster their teams with big data scientists and data analysts.

Marketers don’t need data they need action

It’s not data scientists that marketers need, however. Already we are seeing software vendors emerging who are able to tap structured and unstructured data sources to produce business-ready dashboards. Mapped to best practice business processes, these dashboards and analytic tools promise to release marketers from the fear-inducing data tsunami that looms on the horizon.

Platform players such as Anametrix, for example, transform the science of data into actionable business knowledge for key business processes. This means you can spend less time and resources understanding the data and its various relationships, and focus instead on making decisions that impact the top and bottom lines of your business.

A great example of what can be achieved is the BrandWatch US Electoral Compass. Drawing on Twitter data and press discussion generated since July 2012, the compass matches structured information (location, policies and dates) with unstructured information (tweets, sentiment etc) to reveal the topics that are important to American voters. Now, this is not data from focus groups – it’s stated intention as revealed via status updates, commentary and attitude.

And as business analytics packages get better at mapping business flows, these reporting systems will become ever more granular. They promise to revolutionise the way that businesses engage with their customers – and that will bring another set of challenges for CMOs. The question is – are you ready for this new form of customer engagement?


StumbleUpon: Where Randomness meets Serendipity

When I first started blogging, every now and then I’d receive an avalanche of traffic. In fact, the first time it happened it crashed my server (I had been running the blog on a server in my garage, and it just could not cope) – and I ended up switching to Typepad.

The culprit was StumbleUpon.

These days, social networks like Twitter or Facebook garner most of the attention, but this new infographic from column 5 media shows just how powerful StumbleUpon can be. In fact, it drives over 50% of social media traffic in the US. And the coolest thing is that while pages shared via Twitter have a half life of about 3 hours, stumbled pages are over 130 times more effective.

StumbleUpon also has a cool way of managing and scheduling your shared links. Called, it helps you optimise your shared links by time of day – I wrote about it here. And while many people tend to dislike the StumbleUpon toolbar, with a small investment of your time, the system can deliver you some great content and plenty of new on-topic information. It takes the randomness of the web out and replaces it with serendipity. What more could you ask for?


Mining for Gold: Sean Howard

I have always been a fan of philosophy and theory. I love digging into ideas and concepts to understand where they come from. But sometimes the theory and philosophy is too complex for me to grasp … or turn to something more tangible. And it is these times where I turn to my friends like Sean Howard.

Sean’s Craphammer blog takes deep, complex thinking and translates it into useable ideas. He readily explores the concepts that are at the heart of being human – boldly taking on challenges, opportunities and new experiences – and bringing his learnings into the world of business.

But it is not all work … Sean is also known for his bombastic good nature. He has shocked and surprised us all with his willingness to push the limits – while doing so in a way that threatens no one – except good taste;) … and can be counted on when heavy lifting is required.

If you are new to Sean’s blog, here a few rolled-gold posts to give you a sense of his excellent work:

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Are You a PowerPoint Goose?

Goose Eye extreme
Originally uploaded by david ian…

There are no shortages of "how to" guides for creating better, more effective presentations. A quick search on Google will yield thousands of results, from books to websites and blogs through to live examples on YouTube.

There are excellent presentation decks that can be used for inspiration on Slideshare, and simply watching one or two presentations on TED talks can drastically improve your in-person style and approach.

But despite all this, poorly structured, visually cramped presentations continue to dominate the business landscape. Presenters themselves continue to recite slide content without weaving a story between the bullet points or slide topic areas. This means that those "participating" in the meeting, turn their attention to also reading the slide content — focusing not on you, the presenter, but on the words on the screen.

This turns the presenter into a "PowerPoint Goose" — with no attention from the audience, your "speech" turns into non-representative "honking".

But what can you do if you have only a few minutes before your next presentation? How can you avoid turning into a PowerPoint Goose? Laura Fitton has this great post that steps you through the QUICK things you can do to improve a presentation. She identifies four steps:

  1. Review your audience and objective
  2. Get Darwinian and only allow the strongest slides to remain
  3. Reorder your slides
  4. Do a lightning round on your deck, condensing each slide to a single sentence

Even with only a few moments, you can improve your presentation. So before you go into your next meeting, take a quick look at Laura’s post and aim for the golden egg.

Mining the Gold #1 – Marcus Brown

sacrum First up, I am looking at the exceptional work of Marcus Brown. He is, in my view, one of the foremost PRACTITIONERS of social media creation. He views the Web 2.0 technologies and the social networks that they enable as a fertile creative space in which he can artistically experiment, investigate and expose the various intersections of story, character, history, advertising and performance. He treats social media with both the reverence and contempt it deserves — rigorously decontructing expectations, desires and forms and then rising, phoenix like from the ashes to surprise and delight us all one more (last) time. He has single-handedly brought to life a variety of personalities that have asked the difficult questions that many choose to ignore — Sacrum, for example, sent a job application to Wieden + Kennedy in London which simultaneously demonstrated his skills while also showing how one of the leading advertising agencies on the planet were not adequately listening to digital conversations swirling around it.

In many ways, Marcus’ searing investigations remind me of Antonin Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty — his intellectual and creative endeavours devouring, in their articulation, the topics that he interrogates.

While he has generously left his Kaiser Edition website intact, despite the resignation of its host personalities, there are some key series/posts that any serious student of marketing/brand activation should spend some time with. These are:

Dig deep.

Trawling in a Sea of Sharp Thinkers

Adobeairanalytics One of the things about blogging is that it is immediate. I can think of something, write and publish it very quickly. In minutes it can be in thousands of feed readers and available on the web.

One of the downsides of this is that we can often miss some great thinking — or forget about it in the rush to the next, new thing.

So, with this in mind, I am going to devote a post each week to the trawling some of the older posts from the bloggers that I admire. These posts may be a week or a month or even a year old. This new category is called MINING THE GOLD.

I am also interested in anything that you may want to see re-featured. Drop me an email, add a comment or DM me on Twitter with your recommendations!