Evolution of Marketing

I just read an interesting email newsletter from Forrester Research about the evolution of marketing. Historically, marketing was a one way street where companies pushed everything to consumers; this was done on and offline.  Now as the online experience evolves consumers and marketers begin to develope “relationships”.  These relationships grow as consumers actively engage with a companies brand .

As I can’t provide a link to the newsletter—here is a cut and paste of the content:

Direct marketers and market researchers unearth deep client needs. Leading direct marketers already combine Web clicks with purchase and loyalty data to unearth a consumer’s interaction with the brand. But BrandIntel went a step further and recorded the content that users generated and other consumers read. It could then analyze what its customers really wanted and why one production flopped — Snakes on a Plane — and another succeeded — Heroes. Direct marketers will also use this data to find brand ambassadors and pamper them.

eCommerce professionals drive online sales with personalization. More than a third of Web visitors will make a purchase after seeing a personalized recommendation. eCommerce professionals can boost online sales with one-to-one personalization, such as individual homepages at Amazon.com, or one-to-many personalization, such as Virgin’s mobile offers based on someone’s home address. These firms base personalization on engagement — how the consumer behaves on their site.

Customer experience professionals innovate the brand. Whirlpool observed people at home and used the results to develop a new sub-brand — Gladiator — with fridges for men in their garages. To meet these uncovered needs, customer experience professionals will develop a disruptive strategy, simplifying the interaction, amplifying the service elements, and repositioning the brand overall.

Interactive marketers drive a better online experience. With 80% of consumers visiting manufacturers’ sites to learn about products and services, a firm’s online presence is the ideal starting point for repositioning. Firms can improve their online engagement with their customers, inviting them to offer input for brand values and product strategies in an online community, as Lego and Dell have done.

Marketing leaders steer based on hard data. Measuring engagement will take the guesswork out of budget allocation.  Engagement can drive awareness, transactions, brand preference, and loyalty. But each of these objectives requires a different approach and investment in people, processes, and technology. Marketing leaders from firms like CompUSA and BMW prioritized one goal, chose a very specific set of tools and vendors, and successfully moved the needle on transactions and loyalty, respectively.

Design Strategy

Everyone in business is a designer. The role of a designer is to solve problems, whether you’re designing a poster, a website, or a product- all of these things have been created because there was a need for them. The poster was needed to sell a dvd, the website to sell books and the product because we needed a chair to sit on.

Before each item was designed, the designer would have been presented with the problem- I need to sell my dvd. Sometimes the solution phase is quick and easy and other times it’s more a iterative process and research is conducted to fully understand the requirements. Every situation is different, but the design/problem solving processes are always there.

Problem solving is done by all areas of business- customer care, accounting, marketing and sales. People in these roles need to be innovative and produce deliverables that give their company a competitive advantage and I am not sure these individuals consider themselves designers. I think they should and I think introducing an innovation culture and design principles into an organisation can help staff approach their day to day problems like designers typically do.
Today I came across a new MBA in Design Strategy from California College of the Arts. Hot! Now this looks interesting. The idea is to train leaders who can help integrate design processes and creative thinking into businesses. The program only takes 30 students a year and the two year tuition looks like it’ll be well over $60,000K; not cheap. Take a look at the syllabus:First Year

  • Business Models & Stakeholders
  • Design/Innovation Studio
  • Effective Communication
  • Leadership & Entrepreneurship
  • Managerial Accounting
  • Managerial Economics
  • Operations/Systems
  • Products, Services & Experiences Studio

Second Year

  • Law & Intellectual Property
  • Managerial Finance
  • Market Insight Studio
  • Strategic Management
  • Sustainability Studio
  • Venture Project Studio
  • Electives

So for those of us who can not afford $60k + living costs + loss of income- we have got to take into our own hands. Upskill ourselves and look for careers in organisations that are design lead. Those jobs are out there, I have had the opportunity to work for some and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

What will the Urban Dictionary tell us in 150 years?

A friend of mine has become slightly obsessed with (and an author within) the Urban Dictionary. I think her love of the English language brought the concept of this evolving dictionary to her consciousness, but the ability to create words and phrases based on modern life is quite powerful and in most cases a good laugh.

What I find most intriguing is not the creation of the words today, but how historians will look back at them to analyse and understand the people of this era. For example, today’s word of the day is Jingle Mail. Definition:

Jingle mail is the package containing the keys to your house that you send back to the bank when the interest rate on your adjustable-rate or IO/neg-am mortgage resets, or the property tax bill gets reassessed at double what it was two years ago, or you find out that heating and AC and repairs cost a ton of freaking money, or you lose your job because of the recession that’s coming with the housing crash, and you can’t make the payments any more.

“My neighbor put up the Escalade and the Beemer that he bought with his third HELOC for sale, and has been having garage sales every week for the last month to raise cash … I give it about 90 days till he sends in the jingle mail.”

Can you see what the Urban Dictionary will tell us? In 150, historians will look back to March 18th, 2008 and see that the word of the day was Jingle Mail. Why is this word relevant and humorus today? Hmm… let’s see the world is skating on thin ice awaiting the true impact of the subprime mortgage crisis, yesterday, one of America’s largest investment banks was sold for a 17th of its value, oil is at a record high per barrell and people are scared of a recession and a depression.

What’s the impact of all of this on culture? Let’s check out the urban dictionary and see what are people saying? How is their language evolving to cope with what’s going on?

I can almost see the thesis abstract on the sub-prime mortgages crisis, there will be a foot note reference to the urban dictionary showing how the economic waves rippled down into culture by the formation of new words.

Delivering an Extraordinary Customer Experience

Awhile ago I read an interesting article with Scott Griffith , CEO of Zipcar.com in an Adaptive Path newsletter.

The most interesting part was about Zipcars’ approach to user experience being ingrained in the brand ideals of the organisation. These ideals start at the website and then they are interwoven into the lifetime experience of the customer.

From interview

Question: In terms of the design of that service — you’ve got a lot of components — a web site, mobile (I don’t know if it’s SMS), you’ve got the cars themselves, and a call center. How explicit is the design of the service? How planned is it? What does Zipcar’s blueprint look like? Is it really refined and detailed, or is it a bit more organic?

Answer: Well, we have one. We have a culture that we’ve tried to develop that, we hope, matches the brand that we deliver; and that’s all around self-service. The design is meant to be simple in nature, elegant, and self-service focused. It starts in the company’s culture and in the DNA of our brand. We’re very serious about keeping all of our user systems very simple, but we have a group internally that we call our product group.

They focus on the lifetime experience that a member has with our service, from the first time they go to our web site through the last time they ever use one of our cars and decide not to be a member any more. They map that cycle and follow it; we’re constantly trying to refine and improve that map, that architecture. That timeline, by the way, lasts for typically four or five years, our members stay with us for multiple years.

We think about that whole experience as they use the cars for the first time or review their online billing for the first time. They might have a problem on the side of the road, to refuel the car, get into an accident; these are all experiences that we have to deal with, because we’re treating these cars very much like car ownership, but you’re just buying it one hour at a time.”

I love the idea that to truly deliver an extraordinary customer experience, it needs to start with a careful definition of what that is; then ingrain the solution into the companies brand and culture. Give the customer a full experience that starts with marketing/sales material and then seamlessly embed it into every interaction that the customer has with the company over time.

Festival Talk- an hour with Joesph Stiglitz

Every second year in Wellington, an Arts Festival of great magnitude is unleashed. It’s quite a spectacular event as acts from all over the world in Theater, Dance, Music, Art and Literature are asked to come and perform/speak in New Zealand. As NZ’s remote location makes it expensive to travel to and from, this festival is a great opportunity to see what’s hot in the performing arts arena in the rest of the world.

As part of the Readers/Writers’ week- the festival brought over Joesph Stiglitz to speak. Dr. Stiglitz is a very big brain. He’s a 2001 noble prize winner, former head of The World Bank, former Chairman on Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers and current professor at Columbia University and an accomplished author.

I wasn’t a fan of the format of the talk because he was being interviewed by a journalist who was unable to offer pure Q&A without giving his own journalistic spin/opinion on each topic. However, I did enjoy the content.

A couple things that stuck out from this talk were:

  • Stiglitz is a democrat
  • GDP as a current measurement tool is ultimately flawed
  • The USA have a great GDP- one reason behind this is that they have the most people in prison per capita. This means that there is less unemployment because people are being paid to build prisons and the individuals who may otherwise be unemployed are in prison. What does this say about the economy?
  • Countries need to invest money in their children, health and infrastructure if they want to be sustainable
  • Gloabalisation is not all good
  • The American government is propping up their fragile economy until the election in November
  • The world will feel the impact of the slowing US economy. China will use this time to take a breather from its constant growth
  • It is a failure of Reserve Banks to only measure inflation as they should also be considering unemployment
  • Government does have a role to play in markets; regulation is important to prevent corruption
  • To prevent the inflation of the housing boom- how about tax a little less on wages and more on housing capital gains- which he believes mostly comes from luck
  • The developed world needs to re-think the way they live because if India and China become such huge consumers, the planet will not survive. We have the resources and technology to test ways to improve the planet- we should be doing it now

I am not sure if a copy of this presentation will be online, but I’ll post it if I find it. In the meantime, if you are interested in hearing more from Dr. Stiglitz- here’s a link to an interview he did with Carnegie Council.