Monday, 28 January 2008

Making Marketing Matter: Impact At the CEO Level

Why is being the CMO one of the riskiest jobs in America?

With the reality that it is hard to quantify marketing in terms of tangible business results, marketers tend to go to the next best thing. Visible Impact which often equals a refocus on the advertising.

“The practical reality is that if you’re a sophisticated marketer, you are aware that advertising is less and less important in your overall marketing mix. However, the conundrum is that advertising is the most visible. This is why people tend to migrate towards fixing the advertising even though other broader customer experience problems may exist,”

- Joe Tripodi, Allstate as CMO

It's a cycle however, that sees short term perception benefit to that leads to longer term lack of success. We all may know that - but how are we able to get marketing and brand up on the CEO agenda?

Part of the issue is tangibility. Quantifiable data will always have the strongest impact. We saved X dollars by reducing our call centre calls by Y. Fantastic. Totally tangible. The only problem is the fuzzy research that the marketing department gets that suggest the reason we had Z churn that same time period is that the customer was rushed off the phone and ended up being pissed off and canceled their service.

But Ops still got their bonus. And the CMO still got fired.

How can we reconcile this gap?

Learning from other disciplines that have had similar challenges is a good first step.
And one of the my favorite examples are, environmental planners. For example, environmental assessors of the past would only view a new say, dam project, in terms of cost and benefit. The cost would be the actual dollars associated with the project and the benefit would we the number of jobs created for the building of the project etc. However, what rarely got assessed were the softer measures such as the social and or cultural costs (a flood plain would destroy the last 1000 year old community in the region). Thus social impact assessment was born.


IMO of the most important things that SIA attempts to do is to quantify less tangible impacts that allows the environmental impact assessors to create a weighting and ranking model that are inclusive rather than solely focused on the economics.

It all sounds very scientific but the issue here, is that people use numbers to tell stories. Some of the stories are true and some of them quite frankly are a load of hooey. What SIA does is it levels the playing field so that traditionally non-quantifiable objectives and results have a voice.

Brand and customer relationships have a parallel relationship with the the social and cultural aspects of environmental projects. We know and understand their importance, but we also watch as they get eroded due to budget constraints and "business fundamentals". We have learned what the results of ignoring them is for EIA, but we are only beginning to understand what the same risk is within a business context.

Many moons ago, I spoke to one of the foremost SIA specialists in the world, Reg Lang, who was game to apply his SIA methodologies to a CEO performance model that was inclusive of marketing. Now we just need a client brave and willing.

As my friend Fraser would say, Bueller? Anyone? Bueller?

Thursday, 24 January 2008

How To Ruin A Perfect Customer Experience: The W Hotels

Last week we stayed at the W hotel in Chicago for business. The hotel was beautiful. The rooms were immaculate (i love their aubergine colours). The bathrooms were fantastic (I am all about the shower pressure).

I even noticed that they changed the floor mats in the elevators to reflect the time of day (good morning and good evening). The staff was helpful, the food in the restaurant was quite good - all and all a pretty close to perfect customer experience.


Turns out, my credit card didn't register with their system and the individual who checked me out didn't notice. So since I wasn't there, they just chose to use the credit card of the person who reserved the hotel. I'll call that person, poor Nansi. So poor Nansi is the receptionist at the Blast office in NY. She's one of the most helpful people on the planet and instead of having a good day today, Nansi has been fighting with the W hotel over this issue. Even though it is THEIR error they are not only requesting my credit card (which we gave them) but as well, a faxed copy of photo ID.

This is just unacceptable. Let me count the reasons why:

1. One can routinely purchase items online without any photo ID
2. They know the error was theirs
3. They know Leigh Himel (whose credit card they have now been given over the phone) was the person who stayed in the room
4. Blast is clearly a real company, with real offices, who clearly poor Nansi works for bc she was the one who booked the travel in the first place

Not only that, but they have now turned a perfect customer experience into a horrible one. I was just filling out my profile for travel and was asked what my hotel preference is. While I am a starwood hotel travel member, I am now rethinking the whole thing.

What a shame. It's why end to end is so important and why living the brand means more than following a silly un-customer focused policy book.

Update: The W Hotel rocks my world again....Read about it here

Note To Self

I was looking at my posts as of late, and I seem a bit frustrated don't I? I'm actually not. I think it's just a lot of exciting things going on - ripping down old models, building new ones and finding like minded people all over the place in all manner of agencies, companies and consultancies. I'm feeling a bit evangelical about the entire thing. And it's nice to see so many interested people challenging their ideas not only on what's going on in the market but how to adopt and adapt to it.

Note to self, less frustration, more excitement.


Tuesday, 22 January 2008

It's Not The Brand, It's The Network Silly......

Ive been wanting to write a post on this for a long while but I've been having trouble articulating exactly what my issue is. And I do have an issue. Forrester came out and said that digital agencies aren’t positioned currently to be key brand strategic partners.


"The interactive agencies are in a position where all their staff is focused on executing on digital," he said. "They need people who understand that broader relationship between online and offline media."

Ok, so here is my beef. The relationship between offline and online media is only relevant if:

a. you are speaking about advertising
b. you are speaking to a target audience that even differentiates between offline and online (which is becoming a smaller and smaller segment of the population as the lines between virtual and real become completely blurred)

The key isn't offline and online - it isn't integrated 360 media, or convergence - it's about networked brands and understanding new and complex networked marketing models.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, digital has changed everything except how traditional advertising agencies build brands. A singular brand promise can be communicated in a 60 second TV spot or print ad. However, if you want to now extend that brand to be meaningful in a call centre, in retail, or on a corporate website, you need to dimensionalize it beyond one aspirational thought.

Similarly, marketing models need to account for the interrelationship of complex parts - the ecosystem approach that I have blithered on about for a while now.

Anyhow, it's sounding like a rant. Read this article (i've mentioned it before) about asking if ideas are too big for advertising and then add on to that, is it really about an 'idea' or is it really about building networked brands and networked marketing architectures that can then support that.

Monday, 21 January 2008

A Different Take On Red & Blue America

"Leading churches in USA"

And as one person put it, clearly this diagram shows that up in Canada we are godless heathens. heh.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

How Web Designers Can Make Women Happy: Lessons From Mom

My mom sent this to all the men in our family (yes even her son-in-laws). It occured to me that there was clearly some customer insight here. If we build digital experiences with this in mind, it would be a whole new web wouldn't it? (oh and if you read to the end, clearly the early Web designers were primarily focused on the men ;-)

How Men can Make a Woman Happy

It's not difficult to make a woman happy. A man only needs to be:

1. a friend
2. a companion
3. a lover
4. a brother
5. a father
6. a master
7. a chef
8. an electrician
9. a carpenter
10. a plumber
11. a mechanic
12. a decorator
13. a stylist
14. a sexologist
15. a gynaecologist
16. a psychologist
17. a pest exterminator
18. a psychiatrist
19. a healer
20. a good listener
21. an organizer
22. a good father
23. very clean
24. sympathetic
25. athletic
26. warm
27. attentive
28. gallant
29. intelligent
30. funny
31. creative
32. tender
33. strong
34. understanding
35. tolerant
36. prudent
37. ambitious
38. capable
39. courageous
40. determined!
41. true
42. dependable
43. passionate
44. compassionate


45. give her compliments regularly
46. love shopping
47. be honest
48. be very rich
49. not stress her out
50. not look at other girls


51. give her lots of attention, but expect little yourself
52. give her lots of time, especially time for herself
53. give her lots of space, never worrying about where she goes


54. Never to forget:
* birthdays
* anniversaries
* arrangements she makes


1. Show up naked
2. Bring food

Friday, 18 January 2008

How Much Market Research Could 500 Million Dollars Buy?

Get it together people. According to an update to Mathew's blog:

"Holy crap. Numerous sources — including the Bits blog at the NYT, as well as Mashable and Business Week — are reporting that Slide [facebook widget] has raised $50-million, giving the company a valuation of $500-million."

A VC named Lee Lorenze says in the comments

"Both Slide and RockYou have over 100 million facebook installs for their apps and over 30 million unique facebook users that interact with those apps and with whom these app aggregators can communicate via Facebook's messaging system. That means that each of these companies can sample detailed user profile data from about 50% of Facebook's entire population...."

Yeah, so. I don't get it. So freakin' what? I have said so many times, that people are over valuing customer data because no one does anything really with the data they already have.... note - if it's worth 500 million dollars my question is, is that a better value than just spending that 500 million on actual market research? I could put a pretty killer research plan together with that kinda cash.

Wanted: A Social Network Tagging System To Reinvent Search

This idea started for me a while back. At oponia, we had the idea of creating a new way of organizing and searching a document system through tags (that we never got funding for *sigh*). I wrote about it in my post tag and flow: connecting the end points.

And then Fraser and I started a conversation about hierarchies and friendships that has continued over at the Adaptive Blue blog.

The concept is relatively simple. I have this ever growing network of social connections, both implicit and explicit. But as with everything in life, people have different meaning to me and if I get really utilitarian about it, they also have different value.

My friend David Chant as an example, owner of the Electric Company. You might go to Dave's site and think, Dave is a motion graphics expert based on his company. But because I personally know Dave, I know him as the gadget guy. You want to buy a new tech toy? David is the guy to talk to. And if I was going to "search" through a search engine about a new gadget, I wouldn't want to search like Leigh (because I wouldn't know the first thing about new tech gadgets, bc I just go ask Dave), I would want to search like Dave.

...What if I could somehow connect my search to Dave? What if I could tag to explicitly define our relationship - Dave as 'friend' and also tag what I think he's an expert in - in this case, 'technology' 'gadget'? It would allow me to potentially then use Dave's search intelligence for my own.

Well, that's great. But what if it could then get even more interesting and we could connect Dave to all the other people who have been tagged as experts in 'technology' and 'gadgets'? Wouldn't I theoretically be able to have a socially created vertically brilliant search engine?

Ok, I don't have time now to do this start up (other than continued oponia activities, I have a doll company i want to start which will never get or require VC money), but I think someone else should get to it because I need a new and better search engine.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Scrabbled Marketing Brains If You Ask Me

The makers of scrabble want facebook to take down the Scrabulous app.

Mathew calls it dumb, and I call it bad marketing. In an age where customers are creating brands, the makers of scrabble have the ability to leverage rather than rip down. Sure as Mathew suggests, they could just buy it, but even if they don't, I can think of a myriad of very cool ways they could build community around it.

And just to add on another anecdote to Mathew's of my own - my family has been having a bunch of battles online - we are convinced my brother David is cheating. We have now challenged him to a live game of scrabble that's not during the xmas holidays. When was the last time that happened?

Talk about the old school mentality of marketing. Get networked Hasbro and unscrabble your marketing brains.

Monday, 14 January 2008

The Creation of Omission

CBC radio had an interview with a Jazz writer who was talking about the genius of the late Oscar Peterson. One comment that struck me was his reference to Oscar's ability to know when NOT to play and rather defer to the talents of others. It was this notion of his genius of omission that reminded me how important that is as well, for the creation of brilliant digital experiences.

It might be a fundamental principle of design to know when not to put to many elements on a page however, it remains one of the biggest struggles in the interactive space. By wanting to ensure we satisfy a myriad of business objectives and meet a host of customer needs, we end up cramming features and repeat navigation elements - often to the detriment of the overall user experience.

In an age where there is often too much information and too much choice, simplicity and focus can become a competitive advantage.

Apple has done this brilliantly and on the Web, Google was one of the first companies to take this approach in the search space and look how that turned out. Truth be told, if they had taken a traditional business approach to looking at their competition (Excite, Go, Yahoo) they might have felt compelled to create a crazy directory page.

The creation of omission - a great reminder - thanks again Oscar....

Friday, 11 January 2008

Quote Of The Week

A conversation between my 12 year daughter Cee and my partner, Peter.

Cee: Do you have a hotmail account?
Peter: No.
Cee: No? You have MSN...
Peter: No.
Cee: No? You don't? What do you use to connect with people?
Peter: A telephone.
Cee: Oh...???...

Burning The Tea Leaves Model Of News

Via Johnnie Moore, Micheal Rosenblum asks the question "What could you do with the 14Million salary of Katie Couric?" Stop letting producers read focus group tea leaves cuz the Website Is Your Focus Group DUH!

oh p.s. for those of you who know Jody Colero of Orange Lounge, is this guy not Jody's double or what?

When Is Clever Advertising Not Clever? An Open Question Regarding The Human Flip Book

Found via a tumblr site, the human flip book.

You think it's a cute youtube video. But I guess we all know by now, most of those end up being ads. So really, what is the human flip book?

Erbert & Berbert sandwich shop based in the mid-west were looking for an innovative way to activate their brand online and come up with this cool little video which has now gone pretty viral with over 264 (now 265) blog postings.

I showed it to Peter and he agreed that it's a great little execution, but his question was (it always is) - sure, I get it, but what does it say about the brand? Well, what does it say about the brand?

The truth is, the first time I saw it, I didn't even know it was for a sandwich shop because once I got the idea I 'flipped' away from it before the reveal at the end (i'm so punny). The only reason I found out was an ad, is that I wanted to reblog it and had already closed all the windows - googling human flip book took me to the original site with the advertising message on it.

Clearly as an awareness vehicle their viral approach has been successful, but as a brand vehicle do we consider this a success? Does this make me want to eat their sandwiches? With these type of viral executions, it seems that finding the balance between WOM traffic and the building the brand connection is still an elusive goal.

I'm 50/50 on this particular one. I bet their traffic numbers were positively impacted so in the short term they would likely consider this a huge success. But is there a cost to that in the long run or (equally as possible) are we just a a bit up our own marekting arses on this one?

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Communities of the Moment & The Role of Place

As we continue in our UCaPP world, digital experiences are becoming less solitary and much more about our interconnection with others - our collective experiences.

Collective consciousness isn't anything new and yet we have only begun to explore what its implications could mean for the creation of networked communications.

One idea that's been milling around in my head is the notion of communities of the moment. Groups that come together around an idea, subject or place but only for a short period of time.

Let me give an offline example that I started thinking about after I bumped into Bob Jacobson's book in progress referencing exemplary cases of experience design.

I went to the Viet Nam memorial for the first time on a Mother's day. If you haven't been there, next to the Yad Vashem in Israel, it was probably the most powerful memorial I have ever experienced. Seeing it in pictures cannot capture the experience of walking down the path and slowly having the wall with the names of the dead increase until you are practically drowning heads below them. Even more, the five minutes of the walk connects you not only to those names, but also to the individuals who are there with you - the hands on the wall, the mother day's cards and flowers, the veterans in their army garb.

What struck me in particular, was how connected I felt to all those other people, none of whom i knew, simply because they had been at the same place at the same time as me. For those five minutes, we were all having some sort of collective immersive experience.

I can't quite think of any digital experiences that have captured that. I realize probably comparing very emotional memorials is a bit of an unfair comparison, but still I wonder is something to the notion of creating communities of the moment?

*Mark if you have a direct link to a definition send it to me and I'll repost directly to you....

Update: link updated and Mark has given some great exerts in the comments...

Sunday, 6 January 2008

8 Things Meme

Kate tagged me in an 8 things meme. So unfair because I did my original blog post with bits and pieces about myself which was pretty much the 8 thing meme. And there was the 5 thing meme. But I'll do my best.....

1. I love to play cards. I begged my older brother Jeff to let me play his weekly game of clubbish (A Jewish trump game) with his friends when he was in grade 13 and i was in grade 7. He finally let me play. I creamed them all, won 50 bucks and was never allowed to play again.

2. I almost died when I was 11 by cutting my groin near my main artery. It made a really big white hole that had blood pouring out of it. All I cared about however, was my embarrassment when I was at the hospital that I was practically naked in front of strangers!

3. I was a sugaraholic as a child. My mother frequently found tubs of chocolate icing underneath my bed. Ew....

4. I have a rescue Husky cross named Tasha. She is from a native reserve in Sandy Lake. Most amazing (and beautiful) dog ever. If anyone ever wants a rescue, let me know, I'll give you the contact name to the wonderful woman who has saved hundreds of dogs from there.

5. Roald Dahl is one of my favorite writers and I have read Charlie and The Chocolate Factory over ten times.

6. I couldn't whistle until i sorta learned in my twenties. A shame I hid during my childhood.

7. I love science fiction and always have. Dr. Who, Star Trek, Battlestar Galatica (yes old and new version), I'll even throw in Smallville for good measure.

8. I love Southern Ontario. I've been lucky to have been all over the world however, my favorite vacations are still up at the island we own between Sudbury and Timmons. Old old beaten up log cabins (that we are rebuilding), generator power, canoes, views etc. It's my idea of paradise.

Now I have to tag/aka piss off 8 other people. I hate doing this to you all. It's some weird guilt clearly.

Here i go

Jted, Fraser, Mark, Vanessa, Mark F, Jeremy, Sean, and, Oh sorry Mathew, but Mathew too.

by the way, I will never do one of these again. Well at least ones about me. :)

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