Who are you?

Customer centric. Customer focus. I’ve heard it so many times, I’ve seen it written on dozens of business missions or as part of a brand’s values. Yet, I don’t believe it. Because quite frankly if you think about the business decision process within companies, which topics do you reckon come first on the list? Those about what the customer wants… or rather those about margin, reducing costs, maximizing revenue etc? And then you think maybe companies realize that as well, since we’re all buzzin’ about the consumer decision journey and stuff like that.

And let’s assume that companies really are customer centric. I wonder how they make it work, because simply put a lot of companies have no idea who their customers are. To illustrate this point I always show this little movie again: “The Break Up” (aka “Bring the love back”).

And I show it not so much for the reason it was created in 2007 but for this little bit where the advertiser replies to the consumer about not really knowing her:

“Know you? Sweetheart I know everything there is to know about you. You’re 28 … to 34, you’re online interests include music, movies and … laser hair removal. You have a modest but dependable disposable income. Am I the only one not getting the problem?”

That sounds about accurate. That sounds like how companies ‘know’ their customers indeed. So the point is, if you don’t really know who your customers are, how can you be customer centric? You can’t.

And that’s a huge issue of course. So it you really care about the full customer experience, you automatically care about who those customers really are. Thanks to research or just talking to them. Who are those people? What is keeping them up at night? What are their dreams? Etc. Companies do a lot of research to see how people feel about their brand, whereas they should research how people feel about themselves… and how they can affect that (dixit Lou Carbone).

The problem of the internal story

Yesterday Edelman organized a breakfast event together with The Centre for which they had Steve Rubel as guest speaker as well as Patrick Bosteels and Ramon Suarez as specialists at the table for further discussion. Steve’s presentation was interesting (as usual), there’s a good write up about it on Steve’s Posterous.

What struck me most however during the discussion afterwards is how all businesses are struggling with social media, in particular how they were struggling to make it work on an organizational level. A recurring problem that I’ve also noticed plenty of times with some of our own clients. What happens today is that many in the communications department have discovered social media and wish to make use of it. Be it thanks to agency advice, because of their own interest, due to pressure from above, … whatever the reason you see there’s an ask for building solid presence on social media.

In many cases this presence will include telling real stories from real people inside the company, no better way to show authenticity right? And that’s where lies the problem in my opinion. The communication department sees the opportunity of becoming more social, realizes that it cannot do it by themselves for 2 reasons:

  1. It involves the whole company, or at least most departments in the company. Make social media 1% of 100 people’s job instead of 100% of 1 man’s job – dixit Steve.
  2. The real stories are not with the communication department, they are with the people building the products, selling the services, meeting the clients, …

And although they are interlinked, I believe that most of what we’re trying to do today is trying to fix the first problem. I do believe the challenge with the second problem is bigger though, it’s more difficult to tackle.

Steve talked about the necessity to look at what motivates people in the organization to get them involved. Is it money, internal recognition, reviews, … Which button to push to get people to participate. I think that’s very true, but wonder if it can help with that second challenge. I’ve experienced with some small to very large enterprises that and the gap between the comms department who recognized the opportunity and realizes there’s plenty of content within company to be used to actually surfacing that content in a way that is sustainable is too big to overcome.

So how do you overcome that gap? How do you surface the internal stories that matter to your company? What’s your take?

Step into this TV ad…

We’ve launched 2 new campaigns for AXA during the last few days. In line with our “i-Ad” campaign using digital to make a print ad come to life, we’ve now come up with an idea to get more out of a TV commercial using a QR code. The code doesn’t serve as a link to a nice extra piece of information, it actually let’s you enjoy the full story. Check it out in the video below.

Only a few days earlier we also launched a campaign for AXA’s new renovation loan, using a billboard on which we’ve created a QR code with 3.800 paint pots. Quite a bit of work as well to make that one happen :) See video below.

The future belongs to the geeks…

Nobody else wants it.

This is without a doubt one (of many) personal favorites out of all the cartoons Hugh MacLeod has created in the past x years.

I think there’s a lot of simple truth in this one. Every day/week/month I see innovation that impacts the business I am in and which found its origin in technology, software development or something like it. And then I’m not only talking about pure technology innovation but also about innovation of business processes, creative thinking, etc.

An obvious one is about how technology is driving change in the media landscape. And then especially when you think about how long existing ‘traditional’ media are transforming, not just the new media that gets added. Particularly the interactive tv experience is something that fascinates me a lot recently. In this domain several big players are active – television manufacturers, service providers, content networks, … – and yet somehow I believe the main innovation will come from outside, from a few geeks in the corner that will really create a richer tv experience using a tablet device or whatever. They can think without bounderies of current business processes, revenue management, … no old business models to try to protect. There’s a lot of cool stuff out there already.

Another recent example of technology driving change, and this time in business thinking is Agile Strategic Planning, really interesting stuff if you ask me. This whole idea is an answer to changing consumer/brand needs but is based on a concept that has been used (by some) in software development for almost 10 years now. Neil Perkin used the following quote in a recent post while trying to explain the need for this agile thinking:

“Our structures need to be more speedy. Speed used to kill now lack of speed kills. Lets have organizations that can iterate quickly and empower its folks to make decisions. Percolating decisions up and down an organization makes little sense”

Agile strategic development, adaptive marketing, lean planning, … all terms that highlight more or less the same thing. We have to start thinking in ways that allow for much more iterations and changes while the process is ongoing. A new kind of strategic planning that is heavily influenced by concepts developed in software development.

Just 2 examples in my area of interest that came to mind when I saw this cartoon again. But yeah, the future belongs to the geeks, I’m sure of that.

Facebook goes offline!

For real. So the site is still up and running (don’t worry about that!) but it is clearly becoming a trend to bring some of the key Facebook characteristics to the real world. The examples below are perfect proof of that.

During summer Coca-Cola in Israel introduced “The Real Life Like. Together with Publicis E-dologic they figured out a way to embed user data in IDF bracelets, and thus allow people to “Like” real world objects, places and events spreading the word about it on their facebook accounts.

“The implemented these facebook-bracelets at the Coca Cola Village, a watersport, sunbathing, gameplaying amusement park activity-thing for teenagers. When the guests arrive, they are given a ‏ bracelet ID which transmits an RFID signal, which they program with their facebook login. They can then “like” activities and places in the real village, and their actions show up on facebook. Teenagers are driven by vanity like everyone else, so there was a photographer present as well, if you wanted to tag yourself in any given image all you had to do was wave your ID bracelet to the photographer.”

colalike

Probably sometime during the same period, Diesel introduced Facepark aka The Analog Version of Facebook as part of the Be Stupid campaign. Go outside, speak with actual humans ;) Definitely my favorite of all these examples btw, just watch the clip if you haven’t seen it before:

As part of that they also invented the Facebook Ass Status, no sign of that being used within my network yet though :)

The last example to pop up onto my screen is this one from Saatchi & Saatchi in Budapest: Taking Facebook to the streets for T-Mobile:

“At a busy downtown square in Budapest, they painted a Facebook wall(it was not an LCD screen). when users update messages on the online, they will manually place the messages with caricatures on this street wall.”

t-mobile-facebook

Not the most brilliant example if you ask me. Anyway, if you’ve seen other examples that would fit this trend, let me know in the comments.

Cute girl has a catchy dance

I have seen this little ad about 3-4 times now and I agree. It’s cute and quite funny actually. I think the guys/girls of Samsung Mobile did a quite good job on this one. Like.

Also check out the website that goes with it: http://galaxys.samsungmobile.com/

Maybe the Windows Phone 7 team should take a look at this as well. I would really love to give the new WP7 a swing once it’s released to market, but it’s not their ads that made me want it. Really not.

Follow me: the rabbit edition

To promote the show SyFy, Fallon created a multimedia marketing campaign, which includes the following twist on out-of-home:

Other campaign elements include a detective agency, a tea shop, and a casino. So what are you waiting for, go check it out ;)

[Via AdPulp]

Marketer’s view on 2009

Mid December last year Peter Kim released his Social Media Predictions for 2009, for which he collected the thoughts of some 14 thought leaders in one nice little document. There’s a lot of good ideas and feedback in there, although I cannot resist thinking some of it is wishful thinking, hoping that some things will change or improve which probably won’t happen. Anyway, worth checking out.

SocialMedia09

Charlene Li (who was part of the people inputting in Peter’s document) added some extra thoughts on it later on her own blog and also ReadWriteWeb weighted in on the predictions.

More recently Valeria Maltoni asked a dozen marketing bloggers about their thoughts for 2009, and as Valeria puts it: “More than predictions, which is hard to do, we focused on direction. This eBook is the result of our collective energy and execution experience”.

marketing2009

Both documents collect the thoughts of marketing professionals in the field and are definitely worth reading so download the PDFs here: Social Media 2009 (Peter Kim)Marketing 2009 (Valeria Maltoni)

Personality matters

PersonalityNotIncluded Last April in NY during the Blogger Social, we all received a bunch of goodies, most of it small promotional items, but also some marketing related books. One of those books was ‘Personality not included’ from Rohit Bhargava, also present at the event. We had a little chat about the book, which was pretty interesting for many reasons but one thing Rohit said made me more curious about reading it than anything else and that was part of a chapter talking about Microsoft and The Blue Monster. So I started reading on the plane back already, it just took me a while to write down my thoughts.

In the introduction Rohit already makes it very clear what this is about:

“Personality matters. Being faceless doesn’t work anymore. The theory of PNI is that personality is the answer. Personality is the key element behind your brand and what it stands for, and the story that your products tell to your customers.”

Rohit defines personality then as:

“The unique, authentic, and talkable soul of your brand that people can get passionate about”

Chapter 2, that talks about The Blue Monster, interested me for two reasons. One, it’s The Blue Monster (see earlier posts) and two because it talks about ‘The Accidental Spokesperson’. The reason why that interested me more has to do with the revealing of corporations who get social media, lists you can find all over the place these days. Microsoft who used to be mentioned a lot in the beginning as a company who ‘gets it’ is hardly ever in those lists. Why? Because they look at corporate blogs, corporate twitter accounts etc. And we don’t have that – at least not like a CEO blog or something. But there are some hundreds of Softies on Twitter, a few thousands that blog and those are not to be ignored – the chapter shows it well.

Last point I wanted to highlight is something about transparency. Rohit says ’transparency is overrated’ and talks a bit about transparency and authenticity. I pretty much agree with his point and it reminded me of something David Weinberger said during the Euroblog event in Brussels, about how transparency and authenticity are too often used in the wrong meaning, or even terminologies that are sometimes mistaken for one and other. Now David was a lot more articulate about this than I am here now, but I’m sure you know what I mean.

Rohit is a smart guy, he writes one of the better marketing blogs you can find and is a great person to discuss with about the changes in consumer engagement. And that reflects on his book, you can see the personality. The one thing I didn’t like (much like Jennifer) is the ‘Guides and Tools’ section of the book, which is too much repetition for me re the first part. That said, good book, go check it out.