Mobile Youth: Cigarettes, Cell Phones and Cars

I first came across Graham Brown many years ago when I was working in youth marketing. I loved the way that he applied serious, insight driven analysis to the fast moving youth markets. And I loved the way that he understood and articulated the tribal nature of youth culture.

In this video introduction to his new book The Mobile Youth, Graham reveals an astonishing connection between the reduction in smoking in young people and the rise of smartphones. Despite widespread public health advertising, it was not until the social value of cigarette smoking (ie not the product but the social by-product of the act of smoking) was able to be released towards another social tool of similar or greater value, that young people began to shift their behaviour.

And this – for me – is the important lesson. So much advertising and marketing is directed towards product with very little focus on the desired behaviour. It’s like we are constantly pushing a “message” without any regard for the “context” in which our audiences live and work. This applies not only to youth segments but to any and all. Until we start to address what Graham calls “the social meaning” we will continue to see advertising and marketing failing to do its job.

You can start to remedy this situation by asking two important questions. Where do you customers belong. And what is the significance of that (to them)? The answers you find will tell you a whole lot about your marketing. You’ve just got to be sure to listen for the answer – even when it’s not what you want to hear.

You Are Not the President of the Communications System

I often think we misunderstand the moment in which we are living. Sure technologies are transforming the way that we work. Sure these fancy mobile devices are making us more connected and connectable. And yes, all this data is allowing us to find, engage and even predictively sell to our customers.

But where are YOU in this moment? What is happening in your present moment – there between breaths and tweets?

When you work for a brand or an agency, you often spend a great deal of your creative energy on “cutting through” the noise of our everyday lives. It’s as if it is possible to excise your experience of life as a professional from everything else. But what if you were able to dissolve that distinction – and what if you were to open the imaginative floodgates between your different lives?

My view is that it is inevitable – and that it is happening whether you like it or not. It’s what I call The Social Way. But rather than being something to be feared, it’s something to be embraced.

To succeed in The Social Way we need to rethink a few things. Like customer relationships. And what it means to be innovative or creative. And we need to think about respect.

But don’t take my word for it – listen to Dan Wieden – founder of creative powerhouse Wieden + Kennedy. As he says, we need to rethink the way we use communications systems – after all, you’re not the president. Respect and storytelling – they go hand in hand. They both start by listening.

And thanks to Martin Weigel for sharing.

Adjacent Storytelling

Often when I speak with other marketers, they complain that their brand, products or services are just not “sexy enough”. They are interested in social media and in producing content but simply cannot find the angle to make their brand shine. But this is not a problem of social media. And it’s not a problem of branding. It’s a problem of storytelling. And the only way to attack that problem is not with demographics and data (as much as I love them both). It’s with imagination.

Take a look at this “best job” video connecting a bunch of brands from the P&G stable. Not only is it interesting to see P&G stepping out from the long shadow of their powerful brands – it’s fascinating to see how “adjacent storytelling” can really showcase beauty and triumph in the mundane existence of our everyday lives.

So, what is “adjacent storytelling”? To me, it’s secret sauce.

How many times have you been asked to make the “logo bigger” or “more prominent”? How many times have you been pushed to mention a product or brand name three or more times in 30 seconds? This infantile understanding of branding comes from the triumph of data over imagination.

Adjacent storytelling is not about naming your brand. The adjacent story is there – the one that you see out of the corner of your eye. It’s the story that stays with you long after you have forgotten the wording. It’s the feeling that reminds you that your experience is not singular and that we are connected more by our commonalities than by our differences.

The adjacent story is the story of your brand in the hands and lives of your customers. Someone, somewhere, once had a problem that needed to be solved. This too, is the adjacent story. It’s the story of the problem, not the story of the solution.

Every brand – every product or service – has this story buried within. You need to scratch the surface to find the beating heart of your brand. But don’t stop there. It’s time to go deeper. Let’s hear less about you. Let’s hear how, together, we can change lives of those around us. Of those most important to us. Let’s explore how we can change this world.

That’s the adjacent story. And here you were thinking this was a blog post on social media!

Got a Glitch in Your eCommerce Process? It’s Time to Reinvent Retail

You know the story … you just want to buy a product online – but the process is infuriating. You are asked to register before the purchase. The search doesn’t work or the half-hidden check boxes add you in for cross-sell or up-sell opportunities without your knowledge. At every click the website seems to prompt you to close the browser and go somewhere else. In short – the customer experience stinks.

And while many of us understand this frustration as consumers, rarely do we apply this knowledge to the online stores that we build, rollout or activate on behalf of our businesses/brands.

Now regular readers will know, I have long running dissatisfaction with the customer experience offered by most retailers. Big department stores are the worst of culprits – with skeleton staffing, low staff morale/motivation and little attention to customer needs and loyalty – but poor retail customer experience is endemic. And for my money, this is what is largely driving customer online. It’s not that consumers don’t have the money to spend – it’s that they don’t want to spend it with the companies on offer. So, yes, it’s a brand issue.

But coming back to the eCommerce experience. What would happen if an online shopping experience was played out in the real world? Check out this re-enactment from the Google Analytics team. Great stuff. And you know the same happens in-store. It’s time we reinvented retail, don’t you think?

Be the CMO of Your Own Team

I’ll get this out of the way up front – I have never been a CMO. But I have always had an interest in making sure that Marketing has a seat at the strategy table – and that really means one of two things – you need to drive revenue or your need to manage costs.

In all my professional roles – certainly covering the last 15-20 years, I have been interested in understanding the business decision making process. I dug through the jargon and pushed to determine the real situation. I even threw out the old metrics by which we measured success – choosing instead the same measurements that applied to those I supported (usually sales). It didn’t matter whether I was working agency or client side – it’s always the same goal. Grow business by delighting customers. Drive innovation and manage costs. Do your best work and encourage the same in your team.

Now, the reason I mention all this, is that it is never too late (or too early) to apply the same principles to your own role. No matter whether you are an intern or early in your career – or whether you do, in fact, hold the role of CMO. Your challenge and opportunity is to step up. Become the CMO of your own team. It might be a team of one, but it will be noticed. Systematise your work and your outputs and allow creativity to flourish where it can. Have an agenda, have a plan and measure your own success. And learn. And ask questions. And talk to your customers.

The Business of Being Social

This presentation was part of the City of Sydney library workshop program at the Customs House Library. I spoke on the topic of Social Media for Enterprise 2.0 to a packed room of people hungry for knowledge (or maybe it was just lunchtime hunger I was sensing).

I shared some of the results of my recent Outlook for Australian Social Business 2012 report, explained some of the frameworks that I have created (like this one on social business maturity and how to build trust in social networks) and hopefully showed how we can address some of the challenges faced by businesses wanting/needing to engage with customers, partners and other stakeholders via social media.

In response to questions, I was luckily able to point to the Getting Started with Online Marketing infographic. Again, it is a great checklist for new and experienced practitioners alike. Hope you like the presentation!

Finding Your Passata

How do you change the world? It’s not about doing things … well not entirely. It’s about metaphors. It’s about storytelling. It’s about changing behaviours one person at a time. Just ask Sally Hill. It’s also about passata.

Open Your Mind to the Open Learning Revolution

Comic bookI’ve been a passionate and curious learner for as long as I can remember. As a very small child, maybe 3 or 4 years of age, I created by own “office” is my grandparents’ house by opening the kitchen door and nestling down in the gap between the door and the gas heater. There I would spend hours reading, drawing and discovering.

When I had the opportunity to teach at university, I leapt at the chance. I loved the whole process of designing courses, engaging interesting and challenging “guest lecturers” and seeing the light in eyes of students when “everything clicks”.

But it wasn’t until I reached the corporate world that I understood the power and importance of learning. After my first 12 months with IBM, I realised that I had learned more in that year than I had in the previous five. It was a pressure cooker that made me bring all my experience, knowledge and capacity to new challenges – and to reassemble this in new ways. It was my own personal learning revolution – and helped me begin thinking about The Social Way.

Fast forward a couple of years and it’s clear that the opportunities, risks and challenges are social. I put together this presentation and speech on social learning back in 2009, presenting it along with my colleague Joe Westhuizen in Singapore, the US and Europe. But exactly how will social learning impact us all?

David Price is an education consultant, project manager, strategic adviser and public speaker. In 1994 he helped establish Sir Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, where he was Director of Learning for 7 years. Since then, he has led national projects in arts and education in the UK and advised companies, NFPs and govt departments internationally. The focus of his work is primarily about finding innovative ways to engage learners through more democratic and more relevant forms of education. He is a Senior Associate at the InnovationUnit.org.

And tonight – if you happen to live in Sydney, you can find out more about The Open Learning Revolution in a talk and workshop led by David Price. It’s bound to be fascinating … hope to see you there!

Report: Outlook for Australian Social Business

Outlook for Australian Social Business Report In the fast-moving world of social media, technology and marketing, you can be excused for feeling like you are being “left behind”. There’s always another new site, social network or mobile app to assess, figure out or show off to your friends and colleagues.

Now, the majority of these come from the US – but we are seeing more of these innovative startups appearing on the local Australian scene (take for example the recent launch of Roamz).

But startups are one thing. Adopting these innovations and using them in your business is quite another.

So a couple of months back I asked for input to a survey on the BUSINESS practice of social media. I wanted to know what people were thinking and what they were doing. I wanted to understand the ROADBLOCKS and the challenges as well as the opportunities that were emerging – specifically in an Australian context.

And now the results are in – and make for fascinating reading. The use of social media appeared far more widespread than I had expected – with a change in focus and a deeper commitment in terms of budget and resources. Moreover, this commitment cuts across all business sectors and sizes – it’s not just the small business owner who is investing in social business … the pattern is repeating right up to the largest national and global enterprises.

The real challenge is seems is twofold:

  1. Addressing the perception gap – the difference between what and how brands use social media and the expectations that their customers have
  2. Demonstrating value – we clearly need to find metrics that work for our businesses. Note that this does not seem to be a roadblock to investment!

You can download the analysis and the results here. The first 100 downloads are available at a 50% discount – only $49 (use discount code socialway).

I plan on repeating this survey each six months – to map this challenging and fast changing space. Keep up-to-date by subscribing to the Social Way newsletter.

Business Impact of Social Media by Wildfire

I tend to agree with Olivier Blanchard’s approach to social media ROI – that it is a financial measurement and shouldn’t include various non-financial measurements such as “likes”, comments, interaction or “brand awareness”. That doesn’t mean that these measures are not important metrics for your business or your marketing efforts – it’s that they are not measures that correlate with direct increase in revenue or reduction in costs.

When the team at social marketing platform, Wildfire, surveyed marketers to understand where they were looking for returns, many came back with three main metrics (only one of which is financial):

  1. Changes in fan base
  2. Revenue
  3. Brand awareness

Obviously, the focus of this survey was skewed towards marketing, but I firmly believe there is significant business value beyond a single line of business (especially for B2B). The challenge is figuring out not necessarily where the ROI is for your business – but where the value building opportunity lies. It’s about figuring out how you and your business can “become one” with The Social Way.

Via FrogLoop.

wildfiresminfographic