What’s in Your Phone?

16 Jul
July 16, 2014

New digital products have become central to the offerings of almost every successful business and brand. They have the ability to reshape entire industries by changing the nature of customer relationships, creating new sources of revenue and expanding the way we think about brands.  And this applies to digital products themselves, such as wearable technologies and smart phones, and their ecosystems of connected applications, web interactions, and apps.  It also applies to the technologies that make these wearable devices possible.  Advances in integrated circuits, flexible circuit boards, flexible and hard sapphire glass, and micro-miniaturization of manufacturing capabilities all serve to drive the industry forward.

Who does the heavy lifting when it comes to the tough choices in design when trading off an entire consumer experience against the cost of providing everything necessary to control and optimize that experience, along with the features required to deliver the hardware experience?  It’s the industrial designer and the user experience design engineer.  Their decisions affect every part of the product and the overall experience.

Decision-based design methodologies provide a framework within which the design community can conceive, articulate, verify, and promote theories of design beyond the traditional problem-solving view.  These methods take the guesswork out of identifying tradeoffs and help organize the decision-making process.  These methods also dovetail with the processes and organizations responsible for innovation in design – both internal to the brands and their external design partners.

Faster, more accessible electronic technology coupled with new materials and new ways of manipulating them has afforded businesses the ability to create and market products and services all around the globe to a diverse population of customers. Today’s design engineers need an innovative mind, together with a strong understanding of consumer preferences. In the globally competitive market, a product’s success depends upon both understanding the ‘‘big picture’’ to address the needs, as well as attention to the ‘‘engineering details’’ to meet technical expectations.

Marketing needs to keep pace with, and in fact, deliver leadership in experience management.  Since we understand the customer’s mindset, needs, and desires, as well as their use patterns of technology and interactive designs, it’s our responsibility to ensure can offer a better, easier, and more delightful overall experience without drowning the customer in too many features and functions.  Let’s take that challenge, keeping pace with and coordinating design, implementation, customer engagement, and products to deliver innovation that works.



Humanism. Can we scale it?

06 Mar
March 6, 2014


“any system or mode of thought or action in which human interests, values, and dignity predominate.”

There is a revolution going on.  A revolution in the way customers are finding, interacting, and advocating for a wide variety of good and services.  The revolution extends way beyond the Internet, yet is fueled by the amount of information and the ease of access.  And it’s going to get more and more intense.  One response by certain brands to this new era of information provided by the Internet and social media is to focus on becoming more “human” in their interactions with customers.  How, and why are they doing so?

Brands have recognized, through this revolution, and through academic knowledge and experiments like those documented in “The Human Brand – How We Relate to People, Products, and Companies”, by Chris Malone and Susan T. Fiske, that loyalty, advocacy, and connection toward a brand is driven from just two things: warmth and competence.  In fact, the human brain is wired to identify both these elements from a stranger’s face in just seconds.  The research goes on to suggest that brands are stand-ins for people, logos are substitutes for faces, and companies are the equivalent of tribes.  Brands can, and do, exhibit warmth and competence in varying degrees.  Warmth describes the nature of how the stranger or brand appears as friend or foe.  Competence is the appearance of how successful they’d be in carrying out their intentions. We have an immediate and spontaneous attraction to signs of warmth and competence.

As more companies make their customer support and sales efforts more human-centered, people will raise their expectations about what is acceptable in their interactions with brands.  If the brand is not fundamentally committed to bringing more human connections to its underlying business processes, those expectations will be unmet, driving the potential customer further away instead of closer to advocacy.  Moreover, trying to fake warmth and competence merely commoditizes the effort, backfiring on a fundamental basis.  For example, grocery stores issue loyalty reward cards.  Most people of one for every store they frequent, obviating the intended response.  More and more consumers are coming to understand that the rewards they get – through frequent flyer miles, grocery cards, and credit card refunds, are actually a tax (just read the fine print) on the goods and services they purchase to reward heavy users, and result in increased costs without actually driving more loyalty at all from most people.  Though it sounds odd, the complexity of these programs ensures that many of the “rewards” are never actually delivered to customers.   A recent study of credit card reward programs concluded customers and card issuers are both worse off from these rewards.

It is not rewards that create warmth, nor programs that deliver competence.  Worthy intentions signal behaviors of deserving loyalty.  Those intentions are manifested in elements like knowing a person’s name, and delivering some extra attention.   Creating opportunities to connect with your customers in a meaningful way can lead to better loyalty and advocacy – even if it is to respond to a complaint.

In the 2010 Customer Experience Management Survey, Strativity Group discovered that customer who complain, and then experience promptness and respect, become more loyal than others.

The question remains: can we use a combination of design centered thinking, information systems technology, and just plain good customer service management to deliver a human approach to our customers as our brands grow larger and more global, or are those large brands doomed to be fractionalized by niche companies setting the bar on “humanism” by the very nature of their size?

A Year of Living Thoughtfully

31 Jan
January 31, 2014

CMO’s work.  Hard.  And long.  To be effective, we become immersed in the combination of our business dynamics, the fast-changing marketing landscape, and the science of data analytics and behavioral studies.  The work is consuming.  It is rare for us to take a break – even a short vacation.  And so it was with a great deal of anticipation, enthusiasm (and a little fear) that I embarked on a year of doing somethings completely different, following my last CMO position.  (Hence the dearth of my posts over the past year)

That’s not to say I was lounging around the pool (although there was a bit of that).  Rather, I took this rare opportunity to explore some fascinating and recent developments in the science of marketing.  I expanded my perspective on other cultures by traveling.  I revved up my game by completing my Masters of Science in International Marketing with a ton of digital marketing research, experimentation, and practicum.  I reconnected with family, friends, and colleagues in a way that most people seldom have the time or opportunity.  I consulted with companies outside of my normal milieu.

And I emerge from that year the better marketer.  Better prepared for the changes endemic to the way consumers, business decision makers, influencers, and buyers all experience and control their dialog with a brand.

I discovered that, in some ways, the old is the new.  For example, there has always been content (messaging and creative) in marketing.  “Content Marketing” is a new way to wrap science, discipline, and analytics around that content, and then deliver it in “close to real-time” ways through multiple channels of communication.

In other ways, the new really is the new.  People now control more than 60% of their communications channels through technologies including social media, DVR’s, and other time-shifting tools.  Its been estimated that potential customers have completed more than 50% of their research in the buying process before they even get to your web site.

Of course, one area that continues to receive a lot of attention is metrics and measurement.  That’s because most digital marketing tools come with metrics capabilities and online conversion optimization support.  Yet, surprisingly, only 26% of companies recently surveyed have an actual structured approach to conversion optimization.  So, our capabilities to use the tools, the organizational support for them, and our own internal processes have not yet caught up with the fundamental capabilities of those tools.

To me, these trends spell opportunity.  Opportunity to restructure, reorganize, and reengineer the processes that drive implementation of our digital marketing programs in new and exciting ways.  To do so, focus first on understanding the alignment between your marketing efforts and the corporate goals.  Then, and only, then, refine or implement processes that support that alignment.  Finally, build an org structure that allows your organization to take advantage of the tools you use in more and better ways.

Let’s “Talk Content”

08 Jan
January 8, 2014

I believe in content.  As the former CMO for Enterprise Content Management software, I have been steeped in content for years.  Enterprise content, marketing content, content strategies and tactics, and making our use of content smarter.  Since content is ultimately what is compelling for readers, let’s spend a moment thinking about how to make content better.

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The Pain Continues

07 Jan
January 7, 2014

The CMO Council’s North American Advisory Board met December 5th in New York to discuss and share thoughts about the most pressing marketing issues facing CMO’s today.  Attendees included senior marketers from such diverse companies as Kaiser Permanente, the Baltimore Ravens, Citi, Mitel, Ernst & Young, Huawei, IBM, Wells Fargo, and Bloomberg.

Our focus was on the pain points we all shared, with special emphasis in the discussion about Mapping and Modeling the Marketing Mix.  As leaders of large enterprise marketing departments, we must drive improvements in allocation, optimization, and justification of the $1.5 Trillion spent annually on marketing and communications worldwide.

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Step Three – Social Media for Inbound

08 Aug
August 8, 2012

Just a few more weeks of summer, and then back to more frequent writing and posting.  Already the summer has been busy, and I’ve had numerous great conversations and discussions with other CMO’s about inbound marketing.  At the CMO Council Advisory Board meeting in New York, we discussed some very interesting ideas surrounding “Uplift Marketing” and “Precision Targeting” – more on those later.

Meanwhile, my penultimate post in this series, on the elements which create valuable and effective inbound marketing strategies, is focused on the social media aspect of driving inbound.

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Step Two : SEO – Optimized

18 May
May 18, 2012

In my previous entry we examined content strategy as a means for driving the inbound, and the importance of that complete content strategy.  Now its time to think about the means of gathering inbound responses and nurturing them through to real opportunities using that content strategy.  Then, we’ll move on to your overall Social Media Strategy next time.

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Step One – Content Strategy for Inbound Marketing

16 Mar
March 16, 2012

As promised at the end of January in my last post, I am going to work through the strategic implications of the three key elements of an inbound marketing transition and plan.  Those are of course a) your content strategy, b) Search Engine Optimization, and c) your social media strategy.

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Back Again – on Inbound Marketing

05 Mar
March 5, 2012

My sincere apologies to all my faithful readers and followers.  Much has transpired and conspired against me getting back to regular blog posting since August of last year.  I won’t bore you with the litany, but the most egregious was my hosting provider failing to transfer my blog to the new platform, and then taking 3 months to correct it.   Think about the impact of your web site disappearing for 3 months!

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Inbound is the new Outbound

28 Jan
January 28, 2012

This year marks a landmark shift in marketing practices and strategies for both B2B and B2C companies.  It is the year wherein more than 50% of responses, leads, and interest will be generated by inbound tactics.

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