I haven’t been blogging under my own blog since I joined Tahzoo a year and a half ago. For my most recent posts, check out blog.tahzoo.com
Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
Tags: #Forrester, #ForresterResearch, analytics, CIO, CMO, digital agency, integrated marketing, marketing technology, Metrics, ROI
Let’s start with understanding the problem. It’s not that CMOs and CIOs speak different languages, it’s that they fundamentally approach problem solving differently. Most CMOs come out of the advertising and creative world of the “big idea.” At the end of the day, they are dealing with abstraction, creating emotional ties to an ephemeral concept, known as the brand. While they can measure success from outcomes, they can never conduct QA testing to see if the solution works or not. Whereas most CIOs come from an IT background where at there is ultimately a “right” answer or solution to a given problem and it is easily measured b whether it works or not. And the outcome of working is out of scope.
At our company, Blab, I’m lucky that our CTO Joseph and I have a strong working partnership. It comes mutual respect (very common at C level), shared goals (common if business focused) and most importantly, because we spend a lot of time together talking through ways to solve problems.
I’ve learned some of the lingo of technology. I have a rudimentary understanding of database schema and at least don’t cringe when I hear the terms php, ruby on rails and lamp stack. I recognize they are development languages. But what is more important is that I understand that they are critical to my being able to effectively and efficient communicate with my customers across multiple channels.
Joseph, on the other hand, has not spent his entire career managing IT infrastructure. He can write code himself, actually thinking its fun and is excited about solving challenging problems. He’s learned something about frequency and reach and the abbreviations, cpc, seo, sem and crm don’t make his eyes glaze either.
But the real key to our mutual success is sitting down together in front of a whiteboard and sometimes over a beer, talking about the big picture issues we both face. Are we keeping up with our customers? Do we understand the problems they have? Are we equipped with the ability to listen to our customers, analyze what they’re saying and acting on the insight before it’s too late.
Joseph’s mind certainly works differently than mine. He often comes up with a completely different perspective on the issue and as often as not, his logical rational mind is as perceptive as the most gifted and creative brain. And then he tells me how he can build whatever it takes to bring the idea to life.
There was a recent story on NPR that really stuck with me “Dear Santa: Make My Mommy Happy.” The obvious emotion connection was, the tone of kid’s letters to Santa are getting sadder and instead of asking for flashy big ticket items like flat screen TVs, they’re asking for things, both simpler and harder to deliver, like happiness.
But what really hit me was that a barometer of culture may exist within the basement of the New York City post office. Most of the trends we hear about at this time of year are about things like, are retail sales up or down? What is the “it” toy? What’s the level of consumer confidence? Or they are trends in the form of hash tags on Twitter or wall posts on Facebook. Most of these trends are spoon fed to us with a bias; social, economic or political. Such trends are produced because the support a point, make good story copy or are trying to drive a certain behavior. For example, if we keep hearing consumer confidence is up, we might start buying more….
But back to the basement of the NYC post office. Here Operation Santa Claus is collecting unbiased, honest consumer trends; “out of the mouths of babes.” Their letters reflect personal experience, with no agenda other than having their dreams fulfilled by Santa.
I’d suggest that all of us, especially marketers take note of the value of honest unsolicited trends. Learn to separate them from the trends generated by the “professionals” or by brands and their competitors. Both shape cultural trends, but they don’t necessarily reflect the real voice of the people.
Tags: #ForresterResearch, BMA Engage, Customer Experience, integrated marketing
I just read a great report, “eight Customer Experience Megatrends,” from Bruce Tempkin, formerly an analyst with Forrester Research. While every consultant likes to issue their predictions for the next big thing or the direction of the market, I found Bruce’s list and more importantly the key implications of each trend, a stimulating read. Here’s the list. To read the complete report, go to Bruce’s blog, Customer Experience Matters
1. Customer insight propagation… customer insights will drive decisions across the company
2. Unstructured data appreciation… text analytics will become a critical capability
3. Customer service rejuvenation online interactions will increasingly use touch-screens
4. Loyalty intensification… loyalty metrics will be a major element of executive dashboards
5. Interaction iPod-ization… online interactions will increasingly use touch-screens
6. Social media assimilation… social media will get absorbed into the fabric of companies
7. Digital/physical integration… experiences will blend mobile devices with retail locations
8. Cultural renovation… engaging employees will become a key stepping stone for engaging customers
Tags: #ForresterResearch, Adage, Blast Radius, CMO, Customer Experience, digital agency, IBM Interactive, iCrossing, integrated marketing, Interactive Marketing, marketing2.0, Publicis, Razorfish, Sapient, Sapient Nitro, web2.0
AdAge magazine just released its 2009 annual agency report today, ranking all the top agencies by revenue and grouping them according to what may be dying distinctions like advertising, direct, media, digital, search and PR. Overall agency revenues were down 7.5%, “the sharpest revenue decline in the 66 years Ad Age has produced the Agency Report.” Although digital agencies overall faired a bit better, statistically gaining 0.5% over the previous year.
But what I find more interesting than anything else is that digital agencies, once considered the mavericks, the outsiders are now about as mainstream as possible if for no other reason than almost all of the top twenty agencies are owned by much larger agency holding companies. The true independents are becoming rare indeed. It started a couple of years ago with Publicis gobbling up Digitas. They have since acquired Razorfish as well. Blast Radius is a part of WPP and the #3 digital agency is IBM Interactive and we know nothing speaks independent more than being a part of IBM.
In fact of the top 20 digital agencies, only 5 are not owned by a much larger company. And of those, Sapient has merged with Nitro, Rosetta bought Brulant and iCrossing appears to become a part of the Hearst empire.
What does all this mean for independent agencies, for marketers and for consumers? Well, sitting in one of the top five remaining independent agencies, Ascentium, makes me feel like I’ve got a bull’s-eye on my back and I’m waiting to hear the M&A types pounding at my door. And perhaps that might not be a bad thing from a financial point of view.
Although for many us who have done both the big agency and the startup, we know why we went for the small option. It’s more fun, we get to work the way we want to and it frees up our creative juices. Frankly we produce better work because we feel like it. That’s the reason a lot of corporate marketers are turning more and more to independent and specialty shops; that’s where the ideas, the new technologies and the partnership mentality come from.
And finally, what about the consumer, do they care where marketing campaigns and experiences come from? Maybe not, but according to the latest from Forrester, watching advertising ranks lowest among consumers as a measure of influence, purchase intent and loyalty. And it’s the big guys who still make most of their money from these forms of traditional push advertising. So go figure.
I’m proud that Ascentium has made it to the #5 position among independent digital agencies this year. And I hope that demonstrates both our preference for going it alone and for our clients’ preference to work with an agency who considers their clients their partners, not their holding company.