Archive for the ‘Emerging Media’ Category

“There is a season, and a time to every purpose, under heaven”: How we learn today…

July 20, 2016

So go the lyrics from the Byrd’s classic song “Turn, Turn, Turn”. The group was referring to the fact that there is a time and a place for everything. In my mind, this phrase also applies to the options we all have today to learn what we want to or what we need to.

The opportunity to learn today for those who want to is amazing…in addition to the traditional learning venues, there are so many quality options of online material and classes to digest, with many different delivery methodologies and structures. You can learn virtually anything you want to today, from Quantum Mechanics to web coding to how to fix a shower head.

The Byrds

The Byrds

I am a firm believer in the formalized education process, but I also recognize that there are times when the right levels of skills or knowledge mean more than the experience or even the credentialing. There are situations where timing of the need may be a significant factor in the decision. In a professional setting, the modern “corporation-of-one” economy supports this need, as in many fields, the knowledge base changes rather quickly and the need may well be urgent. As indicated in the Byrd’s lyric above, there may be times (seasons) of our life where some choices make more sense than others.

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If She Knew What She Wants…

April 30, 2016

This line from the Bangles song in the mid 1980’s sums up the plight of the marketer today. The current marketer’s mantra is to provide the customer with what they want, instead of what we as marketers want, and then the sun will shine and all will be well. The customer will feel loved, we will have engendered loyalty, etc., etc…

However, like the song states, we as consumers (of either gender, as men often do not know what they want either)  don’t always know what we want. If we did, this consumer-centric focus would certainly be easier for marketing organizations, and more organizations would be executing successfully. However, what people articulate that they want is typically not what they really do want.

 

If She Knew What She Wants

I have been taking an online course from the University of Queensland on the topic of “The Science of Everyday Thinking”. This course makes it crystal clear that people have very little idea as to what they want and as to how their thinking processes really work. There is also a great deal of resistance to changing behavior once a pattern is established. It takes very compelling evidence to make a mental shift, and even this is often discounted depending on how it is presented.

So surveys are often misleading, social signals are often misleading, even comments on organization web sites can be misleading. In an earlier blog post, I posted the old statement from Henry Ford where he once stated “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” If Steve Job (“focus groups are worthless…”)  had only listened to what people said they wanted and looked only at past market performance, we would never have seen the iPhone (or the iPod for that matter).

That said, it can also be very dangerous to go into a market with preconceived ideas that are based solely on your organization’s needs and not ones that are founded on some kind of need in the marketplace. This is a conundrum when solved makes the difference between really good marketing companies and truly inspired ones.

So how do we do this? While there is no magic bullet, Derek Halpern of SocialTriggers suggests that the best place to start is to ask people what they have been struggling with. If you ask for thoughts in this context, people typically do know what their challenges are in a given area, and what pain points could be improved upon. This is especially true when the struggles tie into emotional rather than rational thought. Most people are more able and/or willing to report accurately from the emotional perspective than the rational if the right environment is provided.

The key here even with this method of asking is still based on brand trust and authority, which we will discuss further at later point. (There are some really good sources out there for brand authority, both on and off line. There are the obvious choices -Seth Godin for one- but I might also suggest Denise Lee Yohn, Harley Manning, Marty Neumeier, and if online is specifically your interest I would suggest reading Mark Traphagen, Neil Patel and the Moz Blog and the Kissmetrics blog specifically on articles related to building authority and trust.)

Once you have the feedback, focus on talking through and solving the problem, not building the solution…at least at until the problem is fully understood. Understanding the full nature of the problem…or your customer’s struggle…will lead to ideas on how to best solve for eliminating the struggle and making your solution the easy choice.

And for those of you who do not know the song, here it is 🙂

The Bangles VEVO Video – IF She Knew What She Wants

 

Indecision may or may not be my problem…

April 17, 2016

That quote from Jimmy Buffett sums up my writing efforts the past couple of weeks. I have been working on several topics to post, but for whatever reason, have not been able to get them to gel. So I thought that thinking through it here, on electronic paper, with you, might help.

stress

Photo courtesy of  workplacepsychology.net

 

They are all difficult topics, and all have been written on already (in some cases extensively). So one of the hang ups for me has been attempting to make the post unique…to not be just another “me too” post. There is an incredible irony here because as you can see on the list of topics I would like to write about below, Paralysis by Analysis is the very first one on the list.

Paralysis by Analysis or Why Action is Necessary Today in Order to Conduct Viable Research – We just don’t know enough about the way the consumer thinks, and more specifically behaves in the digital space, especially when it comes to mobile. Not only is mobile is changing rapidly, it is changing the consumer mindset as well. This has become a market where past history does not mean a great deal, so (thoughtful and intentional) action is required.

Alienation – Everyone is writing about alienation in one form or another…alienation due to social media attachment, alienation due to technology, alienation due to lack of empathy. I feel a strong need to write on this topic, but mine will be more about alienation in time and space, or maybe just geography.

Content Marketing– No, I do not want to write about the wonders of content marketing or the 7 things that make it work or the 5 things you must avoid. I’m more of the mind to write here about why people who claim to be writing content for their audience are often deluding themselves.  In many ways, I feel that the content emperor has no clothes. The appropriate situational content has great value. However, it is also arrogant to presume we can write content our audience wants when we make little effort to find out what content they want, or if they even want content beyond a simple answer. I suspect that post will annoy a few people…

Why Growth Hacking is Not Marketing (or is it?) – There are definitely two sides to this discussion, both with very strong points of view. To my thinking process, it depends on whether you are talking mind set or tool set. Growth hacking is also certainly contextual, and not a great deal different than the old concept of guerilla marketing or from online marketing on steroids.

So there you have a few of the topics that have been swirling around in my brain, but have not yet fleshed out enough to put into coherent words on paper. Or at least coherent thoughts that are strikingly different than the content that is already out there….

Proximity marketing…is there value?

March 19, 2016

I have been much more active lately posting and sharing on LinkedIn than on this site. I do hate duplicating content, and have not had the opportunity to do both as well as I would like.

I am going to try and work on that. Maybe I could start with a discussion thread on tracking your phone (by beacon or WiFi), as the whole issue of tracking within the store is an interesting one.

sol-proxmobile

I believe (my opinion only) that in the past couple years, consumers have become more accepting of in-store proximity marketing, if for no other reason other than it has become so much better. Understanding the likely reason to be in the store (based on past interaction with that retail brand), and ability to pinpoint specific areas of the store has definitely improved. Retailers are learning what is too much (or too little messaging) and how to gauge time in store, time in a specific area, and progress through the store in sending these messages at more appropriate times.

Yet, this is a practice that is certainly still in transition, and mistakes are still made. How this process is executed may cause consumers to get their backs up. Receiving an offer after just making that purchase is annoying. Many are opposed to the practice of having competitor’s geo-fencing another store and providing competing coupons, while others find this fascinating. Getting bombarded upon entering the store is usually not desirable.

Also, consumers may not recognize that they may have opted to receive messages from the store location itself, but may also simultaneously be receiving ads and messages from other apps that they have on their phones and other sources they have previously opted to have messages from. To say the least, at times the whole process can get messy.

Here are a few data points that all the more underline why proximity marketing may the best way ahead (note: the originator of this material certainly has a vested interest in beacon technology, but interesting still the same):

  • The average clickthrough rate (CTR) for a Facebook ad is 0.119%, according to a recent Wordstream report
  • The average clickthrough rate (CTR) for an email is 1% to 3%, according to a recent report by Mailchimp
  • The average clickthrough rate (CTR) for beacon based push notifications can be as high as 80%, according to the data published by push notification technologist Kahuna (Beaconstac, 2016).

(more on this discussion can be found here: Sheehy, A. (2013, August 19). The Mobile Advertising Value Chain.  http://www.nakono.com/tekcarta/analysis-insight/mobile-advertising/mobile-advertising-value-chain/  )

I do think that one of the big drawbacks to this type of push marketing is that not all consumers have their phones out at all times (I know…it varies by generation, but it still can be a pain to have your phone out in a department store sometimes).  That is why I am encouraged by some of the other ways that proximity marketing can be accomplished such as displaying digital instore signage of items that might be of interest if you have your phone on or through Near Field Communications (NFC) marketing, where you hold your phone close to the sensor to receive more information. Personally, I also like the fact that proximity marketing for that brand ends when you leave the store or certainly shortly thereafter.

What about you…proximity marketing, yea or nay?

Thought and Planning also Required…

January 24, 2016

“You can have data without information, but you cannot have information without data.” ~ Daniel Keys Moran, an American computer programmer and science fiction writer.

Some experts thinking on marketing in 2016…

January 8, 2016

This is a particularly good and succinct collection of predictions/thoughts on inbound marketing for 2016: http://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/145335/16_on_16-_Inbound_Marketing_Predictions_for_2016.pdf?t=1452198942029

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Paul Roetzer’s section on Artificial Intelligence and Automation is particularly interesting to me, but all of the thoughts contained here are intriquing. You will also want to check out Luke Summerfield and his thoughts on industry shifts.It will be interesting to see how much of this actually occurs in 2016. Cheers…

Forget what you know…find a way to listen to the customer…

September 16, 2015

“If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there’d be a shortage of fishing poles.” ~ Doug Larson

I am constantly reading about the shortage of digital pros or hybrid technologists in the market. And I agree that there is certainly evidence to support that the rate of change in our information needs and abilities has outstripped the ability to completely fulfill the demand.

That said, this is still amazing state to me given how many people participate professionally in the digital space, and the sheer numbers present even within specialized area such as technical SEO, content creation, paid search, various technical platform specialties, analytics, and so on…

My thought is there is actually a gap; and it is a role that is not being filled in many organizations …specifically the ability to manipulate the data or technology AND also understand the result from the perspective of a human being.

You have the technical side: Practitioners in this area know every technical aspect of their work like the back of their hand. This is true whether they be data gurus or system wunderkinds. Today, a certain level of technical knowledge may well be a prerequisite to being in marketing in today’s world, but it is certainly not the complete answer.

With all of the amazing advances that technology and inexpensive computing power has brought, there are still areas where we need to improve. Technological myopia can lead to poor usage of the technology or resulting data and analysis. Understanding how systems work and what the numbers represent is not the same as knowing if those numbers (metrics) represent value, if we are measuring the right aspects of our audience’s behavior or that they are appropriate for our business model.

When we look to the wrong measures and drift to what is conventional, our path can lead to a lack of vision as to what all of this data could be used to achieve. In the end, the result we achieve is often not actionable, and certainly not optimal, because it fails within our business context. This result does not lead to positive change.

This is not to say the technology is not important, because it is…critically so.

The technology today is driving huge changes in the way we communicate and how our organizations are built and interact with the world. However, too much focus on this area can lead to whiffs in other still important aspects of marketing, building a brand and running a business.

Then there is the qualitative side of the marketing community that has limited recognition of the pervasive nature of the technology, the accelerated pace of change we now live with, and its impact on our organizations and customers. While this group will embrace the new communication methodologies, they often will try and use these tools directionally to execute outdated models of customer relationship interaction. On this side of the coin, we have not yet learned that pushing corporate/brand/product messaging to disinterested audiences is not viable. This also will not lead to the intended or optimal result.

Like most other things in life, balance in implementation is key. While technology often renders “what we know” useless or invalid (sometimes within the same year), there are also certain fundamentals of life that remain consistent. People and organizations still have needs, many of which remain very basic. How they communicate to the world around these needs is what has changed, and continues to change, radically.

The difficulty lies in combining empathy for both the quantitative and qualitative sides of the puzzle. This is a combination that neither of these sides usually have individually, necessitating yet another skill set. The emergence of marketing operations and a well-conceived project manager model comes into play here.

All organizations need that balanced view that has best interests of customer and the organization/brand in mind. Especially important is that balance between what constitutes a good use of technology, and yet is still being customer friendly (in all senses of that discussion…usability, creepiness factor, etc…but this topic is a discussion for another time.)

The customer must be recognized above all, as ultimately they have the final vote. Whether we are seeking to interact one-on-one on an individual level or create a heightened connection though finely tuned personas, the approach must be customer-centric, not on our own perspectives of how things work.

Elon Musk on branding…

April 26, 2015
Elon Musk at TED

Elon Musk at TED

“Brand is just a perception, and perception will match reality over time. Sometimes it will be ahead, other times it will be behind. But brand is simply a collective impression some have about a product.” ~ Elon Musk

Very true. At this point in our history, a brand is truly what the targeted audience feels it is. It can also be quite volatile. Scary thought for those of us in marketing and branding…

Consistency is a full time job….

April 22, 2015

“You have to stay true to your heritage; that’s what your brand is about.” ~ Alice Temperley

In Ms. Temperley’s statement, staying true to your heritage is all about consistency. Consistency though is a term that has numerous facets, and all are important to establishing, maintaining, and as much as possible, owning your brand.


In the overall context, consistency is about remaining aligned to your DNA…to your core values, guiding principles and the characteristics you brought with you to the dance. How you demonstrate this consistency or integrity to your core is demonstrated outwardly in several different ways:

  • Consistency of voice – How you engage with the outside world in term of stance and tone must be consistent from occasion to occasion, and also with what is at the heart of your organization.
  • Consistency of message –The content of your communications must remain consistent to themselves and to your overall organizational perspective. This lack of message to message consistency often can muddy the brand and lead to many of the differences in brand perception that can occur with different factions of your audience.
  • Consistency of response modality – How you respond to external requests and events, timing of your response, who you respond to, along with the two points above can determine the overall strength of your brand in the mind of your audience.
  • Consistency of execution- It is important to communicate proactively on a consistent basis. This is not to say that there must always be a rigid timeline, but you must be placing content or communications on a reliable basis. If you communicate three times per week, it is not the end of the world to miss once in a while and only communicate twice that week. Likewise upon occasion, four times in a given week may be desirable. The key is to maintain the perception of consistency with your audience.

Getting these visible manifestations of your brand in line with your overall organizational culture and philosophy will enable your organization to better communicate with your target audience and therefore be better able to maintain your brand image with the external world.

How would I know; why should I care?

December 17, 2014

Some of you may reading this be aware that this is a phrase from an old Zombies song. (Here I define old as it is a song that predates me:). I have always liked this song, and specifically this particular phrase. Little did I know when I first heard the song that this phrase would become essentially the essence of modern marketing. If I was asked today to provide one sentence that defines customer interactions and perspective, this phrase could well be the one.


How would I know…
In a dizzy array of communications sources that people need to deal with, how do they determine where they get their information, and who they should listen to? On the other side, marketers are faced with a myriad of communication channel options, but with very little real prospect for breaking through without a distinct advantage. This advantage must come from the consumer perspective.

Consumers are looking for credibility, trust, authority, and for them, this is mostly likely to come from a referral or what is perceived as an unbiased third party observation. These communications must often stem from other potential members of the consuming public in early stages of the brand relationship. The brand owner today is often not considered a credible source at the beginning of the journey, even when they are the first party the potential customer has heard from. This is one of the reasons that reviews and external third party communications that reference your site/offer help a brand site to rank higher in SEO today.

In order to achieve this, you must leverage people already in your court. Recognize that this is more than social media likes and +1s…we are looking for people who will actually talk about you (positively) either proactively (or at least responsively) on your site, in blogs and on other social media. While there are still some brand evangelists that will stump for you unprompted, gaining discussion time from the rest requires critical relationship building with your customer base.

Assuming we do get our message through, there is still the “Why should I care?” question. Despite our lip service to “the customer being king” and “relationship building”, the majority of marketing emphasis today still often relies on touting and conveying information that is important to the communicating organization, not the person being communicated to. It really needs to be reverse of this.

More than ever, it is crucial to determine what matters to the consumer segments you hope to sell to. Does what you offer match what they want or need, or will someday want or need. If yes, find a way to engage. If not, find a way to adapt (if you want that segment) or move on. Transparency of information makes it unlikely you will convince many mismatches to buy you offering, especially on substantial purchases.

Once you find the target segments you want, build a rapport with them and develop a relationship, you still need to stay in touch to keep the relationship alive. Without ongoing, valuable interaction, it is too easy for what you have built to die on the vine. Inertia is not your friend in a fast paced world , so staying in touch and nurturing the relationship is a must do.

Otherwise don’t bother trying to find her, she’s not there…