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.

Marketing crack: Kicking the habit

May 23, 2015

canalside view

o-CRACK-COCAINE-facebook

“We’ve created a gambling culture in which we tune out everything except the most immediate outcomes.”

Laurence Fink, Chairman and CEO, BlackRock

“Addiction is a pathological attachment to something attractive in the short term, but destructive over time. Recovery is about looking where we’re going and choosing a path that can last.”

Dr. Chris Johnstone, addiction specialist

IMPATIENT TIMES

Would you rather receive $100 today or $125 a year from now? Although a 25% increase is an excellent one-year return on investment, the average decision-maker would choose the smaller immediate gain rather than the larger future gain.

Psychologists tell us that this is because decision makers generally feel disconnected from their future selves – which leads them to prefer smaller immediate gains to larger future gains.

This tendency to discount the value of future gains is what psychologists call “temporal discounting” and what economists term “rates of time preference.” It’s…

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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…

Setting the table for CRM Success

July 7, 2014

Like most endeavors that have complexity beyond choosing a candy bar, having a plan in advance of acting is crucial for a successful CRM implementation. It is also important that this plan be aligned with your organizational needs and objectives, and not those of external support partners.

crm-sports-marketing-data_jpg1

Originally appeared in http://winnersfdd.com/

It is critical to assemble a team of stakeholders, as well as a sponsor and project manager, to initiate and develop the expected benefits/results from undertaking the CRM project (integration with e-commerce, improved sales cycle times…) and to identify risks involved with both implementing and also not implementing the system.

This should be done prior to any potential CRM vendors or partners being engaged, including technology consultants, who may not be as agnostic as they would like to believe. If parties outside the organization are consulted, it should be for very specific asks around the feasibility of achieving the intended results: Potential integration pain points, current industry practices and trends in CRM information cataloging, collection and integration with other systems might be on the table, but specific solutioning should be avoided in conjunction with suppliers of those solutions.

The next phase would be to establish organizational priorities related to the implementation, and build a timeline with specific defined segments as to achieving these priorities. One of these priorities needs to be a consideration of user adoption, and how that can best be achieved. These segments can later be modified based upon the extent of integration needed, solutions chosen, and further understanding of the needs of the organization. Now that a clear path has been defined, it is now time to build RFPs and call in the potential partners.

Semantic Search…

June 26, 2014

“In many ways semantic search takes us back to the golden days of the Web when in terms of working online anything was possible as long as you had passion, belief in yourself, and energy to work at it.”
― David Amerland

It’s time to try again….

June 22, 2014

“What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness.”
George Saunders 

What I regret second most is not being consistent with posts to this blog (not actually, but I’m making a point….). I did better in the past when I generally created short posts or found insightful quotes to post and briefly discuss than when I tried for deep insights requiring extended thought.

It would seem that I am a microblogger at heart, which is why I have gravitated to Twitter and G+. So let’s see what develops…

BTW…this is also the first blog post I have ever done from a mobile device. In the past, I have decried this practice, so this is yet another milestone.

I’m testing another blog

November 9, 2013

Hi All,

I’m adding another blog to my repertoire in order to test out BlogSpot and compare analytics. The link is http://mtietbohl.blogspot.com and the title is Marketing…The Ever Changing Paradigm. I will likely explore tried and true marketing concepts and philosophy there, as well as emerging trends. Hope to see you there.

Freedom to be wrong…what a concept

October 13, 2013

“Search marketing, and most Internet marketing in fact, can be very threatening because there are no rules. There’s no safe haven. To do it right, you need to be willing to be wrong. But search marketing done right is all about being wrong. Experimentation is the only way. No one really knows whether that page will rank #1 in Google; no one really knows which paid search copy will get the highest click rate. Even experts can’t tell you which content will attract the most links. You just have to try it and see.” Mike Moran, IBM

Claude Hopkins

Claude Hopkins

If Claude Hopkins had had the internet 100 years ago, he could have told you this….

(Thanks to Dan Perry for posting the quote at http://www.danperry.com/blog/online-marketing-quotes/ )