August 9, 2011
Today I’m at the eTail Boston conference listening to a very distinguished collection of speakers talk about the challenges of growing our ecommerce business. At 5pm today I’ll present on multi channel marketing integrations. You can see the live stream via this link http://bit.ly/qkX5ZP and also download it later.
What I’m struck by from the discussion from my colleagues is how we are mapping out the future for ourselves. Many pundits and vendors have opinions about how important for instance social or mobile is however brands feel that the jury is still out on how these things are integrating into their overall strategic vision. I feel it is folly to think that purchasing behavior won’t continue to evolve the same way we’ve seen it exponentially expand and transform over the last 10 years. Key is making sure your brand message is not lost amongst the technology. I feel that holding the customer experience as the main touchstone of your development efforts is extremely important.
Deciding whether or not you are a company that is going to grow and customize its own platform, embrace open source customizable solutions or partner allows you the freedom to move forward accordingly. I’m not sure that many companies now need to focus on their own slate of programmers. There are tons of tools readily available today that arguably can get you into the frey in a particular channel much faster than doing it yourself. You will still require staff but the skill sets will be different. Having a realistic view of the existing strengths of your team and your willingness to financially invest in them is an important business decision.
The great thing about conferences of this nature, at least for me, is that I get an opportunity to have some space to think about the big picture amongst other people who are doing the same thing. There’s an immediacy to the inspiration that comes from hearing about the solutions and challenges of others.
The CEO / CMO / SVP panel today drove home one thing – a focus on the basics of great customer service will always put you head and shoulders above the rest. Whether it was the CMO of ShoeBuy.com talking about their API’s or the President of Build.com hammering that exact point home they were both really talking about the same thing. Technology alone or new channels won’t save a business that doesn’t have a clear focus and capability on the fundamentals. Furthermore, now is not a time to be timid. Now is the time to push forward with enthusiasm as noted by the CEO of Brookstone. If you react to the market factors with fear one of your more bold competitors will run over you.
So be bold, go forth (with good metrics) and conquor the new channels that make sense for your brand. There’s no time like the present and tomorrow may be too late!
Thanks to the great folks at eTail for putting on a show with so many valuable speakers and including me in the list!
June 18, 2011
Have you ever sat in a meeting with a vendor and felt like this guy behind the desk?
This hilarious video made me laugh so much because it hits squarely on the head the absurdity of our current digital marketing situation. Between all the technobabble coming out of vendors and the industry as a whole business people like myself are often left holding the terminology bag and still not driving revenue up. I think I know why. We have to get back to basics.
Customers don’t care about our latest cloud based solution and neither does your CEO. What they care about are the basic key principles of good customer service delivered to them where ever they are. Yes, we all need our website, Facebook page and Twitter feed but all too often we’re not thinking about the tone of what we’re saying and doing. We’re only thinking about the next greatest coolest thing we can deliver. Here are a few notes from my own thoughts about doing this better:
1. Have Real Conversations: Pretend you were standing there talking to a customer. Yes, I mean live, in the real 3d world. What would you say or show them about your product and how would you do it? Translating a this personal experience to the web is the holy grail. You can’t do it if you’ve forgotten what the real human experience is like.
2. Know Your Customers Consumption Device: Pictures are worth a thousand words. We all know this but all too often we talk too much and show too little in a useful visual way. Remember the lowest common denominator of device that someone will be viewing your digital product artwork on?
3. Workflow Your Customer Service Process: Yes, folks good customer service does not happen by accident. It is a process. What happens when someone wants a return. What’s the conversation you have with them at that time. How do you gather metrics throughout the process? What about exchanges and credits? This may sound operational but at every step in this phase you are informing your customer about the integrity of your company and that is brand management 101.
4. Evaluate your Competitors: Usually you have successful competitors. Know what they are doing. Too often we are buried in our own work and forget to look up and around at what other people are doing until its too late. You don’t want to see your competitors new tool from an article on Mashable.
5. The Web is About People Not Gadgets: I could write an entire article on this thought alone. Technology is meant to bring people together in a web of knowledge and shared experience. The toys and gadgets are secondary to this true purpose. Stay true to this concept and you’ll be that much closer to elevating your brand beyond the basics.
Happy digital marketing folks. I hope you enjoy this video as much as I did. Thanks to Mark Miller from Global360.com and NothingButSharePoint.com for posting this to his Facebook feed. It made me laugh out loud!
May 27, 2011
I had the distinct privilege to be included in the mTech Conference on marketing technology with an amazing array of leaders in this field. Each presenter had 60 seconds to discuss their important thoughts on marketing technology and the topics that surround it. It was presented on the web and you can download and MP3 file or read the transcript from their site. You can also search #mtech in the Twitter feed to get an abridged version of important points.
I highly recommend reviewing the transcript or putting the file on your iPod to hear amazing and wonderfully succinct discussions about this amazing convergence that we are all a part of. Several years ago the term “marketing technologist” was not well known. Now, it’s not just social networking that makes us valuable additions to executive management teams.
The importance of our positions is being driven by the need to craft more engaging and complete consumer engagement strategies. People are smart and they have very little time in the day to engage with your brand. Leveraging existing and emerging technologies to enhance this engagement is on every smart CEO’s must do list and we are the people to make that happen.
Who knew that my passion for the creative and the technical would lead me to this crossroads but I’m more grateful than ever that I get to combine two great loves into one job. I have often mentioned to people that I could not design a better career for myself than the one I have now. However, we can never forget that the real proof is in the pudding. If you aren’t personally good at metrics then get someone on your team who is. Collectively we have to prove how our time and money are returning value to our organizations.
I’m thrilled to have been a part of this micro conference – which by the way is a great concept – and am looking forward to implementing some of the ideas I heard!