Now that were well into 2013, I thought it might be useful to review some ways (5 to be precise) you can commit to improving your marketing this year. New year’s resolutions are so “last month”.
1.) You will improve search performance
Google has made changes. You are very likely aware of both Panda and Penguin but what have you done to leverage them. Don’t try to outsmart Google– it’s just not worth it. Time is better spent understanding the rules and adapting to them.
2.) You will narrow your focus and broaden your appeal
The recent economic troubles have caused us to be too busy and too inclined to do work strictly for the sake of revenue. Focus is the key to winning the a position in the mind of your customer. in 2013 you will narrow your focus and broaden your appeal. Doing so will make your unique selling proposition easier to articulate and remember.
3.) You will automate and optimize your lead generation
You are fully aware that your email newsletter isn’t enough anymore. Playing with social media is not likely to deliver any results, either. You will get serious this year. Your communications efforts need to be better coordinated and you will. By building content to support every phase of your sales funnel, you’ll optimize your sales resources so that your sales cycles will be tighter and more cost effective.
4.) You will document your Customers’ experience more frequently
Everyone is talking about content marketing. The best content marketing is credible documentation of your customers’ learnings. Best practices are important but they erase distinctions fairly rapidly. The key challenge is to make your best practices readily available so that you can continue to improve on them. Today’s “Best Practices” are tomorrow’s “Standard Operating Procedures”. Insight into how to continually improve that part of the enterprise your offering can best enhance is your key to developing the kind of content that reduces risk of purchase.
5.) You will improve reporting and reduce reports
Most of your competitors and customers are awash in data. Too much data is pretty much as useful as no data. You can improve your marketing by actually putting the data you have to use. This year resolve to review your key metrics and identify the important ones you actually use to make more rational decisions. Further commit to measuring the results of your marketing efforts even when costs are sunk. You can continually improve your efforts if you are willing to accept that failure provides useful metrics from which to refine your efforts going forward. The dissonance around reviewing efforts made in the past is very strong. Resist blaming yourself or others. Make your next marketing initiative better by finding out what went wrong and how to fix it.
With nearly everyone hooked into some social media source or another, employers have discovered a new, unethical avenue to assess job candidates: asking for usernames and passwords and logging into social media accounts. Particularly Facebook.
High unemployment makes for desperate job seekers, and it’s that desperation that has many falling into this trap–handing over their personal log in data just so that they’re not passed over for a position. But despite the seeming popularity of this new hiring tactic, there are certainly enough negatives to make it worth reconsidering.
What, exactly, can you learn from logging in to a candidate’s social media accounts? Generally, a candidate’s ability to do a job has nothing to do with how they conduct themselves in their private lives. All that a Facebook page will tell a prospective employer is what the candidate ate for dinner, or their thoughts on last night’s episode of 30 Rock. Is that crucial information?
Further, taking pains to uncover this information can put you in a compromising situation. Suppose you log on to a job seeker’s page and find out they are pregnant. Now you know that they’re in a protected class, and if you don’t hire them, they may have grounds to press discrimination charges. If you had stuck to the interview, where it’s illegal to ask such questions, you wouldn’t have this issue.
Anything that you could want to know about a candidate is fair game in an interview, so violating privacy is really unnecessary. Besides, speaking with someone face-to-face is a far better indicator of their employability. You can get a sense for their critical thinking skills, learn about their prior experience, and even throw in a few curveball questions to keep them on their toes.
Interviews are a two-way street. Smart job seekers—which are the kind you want to hire—spend much of the interview process assessing potential employers, looking for the best fit. If you are invading their privacy before they even sign a job offer, candidates are more likely to feel harangued than welcomed into the fold. Your top choice hire might be the top choice for other hiring managers as well, and you cut your odds of winning a great employee when you ask for their Facebook password.
Even after you’ve requested a candidate’s personal log in information, checked out their profile and made sure they were a perfect fit, you’ve really only been lulled into a false sense of security. You don’t need to plan for any embarrassing social media misfires—you know your team better than they know themselves. Except, people are unpredictable. Someone with a completely respectable online profile could turn out to be the worst fit. Maybe they erased all of their disparaging remarks about their former employer, along with the strange incriminating photo albums. The thing is, you can study a candidate’s profile for hours and still not be any closer to predicting whether a potential hire will work out.
A big problem with this invasion of privacy is that candidates will begin to see your company as something to fear. No one wants to work in such an insecure environment, where their every move is being stalked. Employees want to feel valued and trusted, not like they’re back in fifth grade quivering in front of their overly strict math teacher.
Security and trust must be cultivated. By showing your employees that you respect them and their right to a private personal life, you allow them to breathe. They don’t have to be afraid to come to work. They can start to enjoy their jobs and become better at them, fattening your bottom line.
Perhaps the most critical argument against asking for a job seeker’s username and password is that the practice is (technically) illegal. Facebook’s terms of service clearly state: “You will not share your password, let anyone else access your account, or do anything else that might jeopardize the security of your account.” All site users must agree to these terms of service before registering with Facebook, so if you have a presence on the site—you did, too.
Violating a site’s terms of service is against the law. Although it’s atypical for users to be charged with a violation of terms, it’s not impossible. You may luck out and slide under the radar, but you might not. So, instead of having a potential employee taint your reputation by posting unflattering status updates, you could end up embroiled in a legal scandal that will drag your company’s name through the media mud.
Less Invasive Alternatives
If you’re eager to learn more about a candidate, head to Google and plug their name into the search field. You’ll find that most people have a multitude of PUBLIC records, none of which require a personal username and password to access. Many people keep their Facebook profiles private, but you can still gather insight by looking on sites like LinkedIn or Twitter.
For employers who won’t be satisfied without seeing a candidate’s Facebook, check to see if they’ve “liked” your business. What savvy candidate wouldn’t? by liking your business your candidates public profile is easy to see. While you might not see the private correspondence between your job candidate and their mother-in-law, you will get enough of a glance to make sure that the interviewee is not certifiably insane and that they’re unlikely to do something that might jeopardize your company reputation.
Any candidate who lacks a sufficient social media profile may not be a good fit anyway. It’s 2012. You should be able to track down at least a few records online, and at the very least, you can contact former employers and references. It’s impossible to know a candidate fully before hiring them, but if they have a solid record of experience and several references behind them, you can be confident in your hiring decision.
Marketing without science is fanciful. Success comes from hypothesizing, testing and repeating. Experimenting and testing can get ugly. Is your brand in the dark ages? Learn why it’s about share of mind –and share of shelf –not loyalty.
Gartner has a nice, (reasonably) accessible piece on Getting Business Value from Big Data with Pattern-Based Strategy. We believe “Big Data” and its attendant disciplines (like infographics) is the next frontier for marketers. Big Data can generate highly predictive scenarios, and clients will insist ROI from the data they already have and marketers should be expected to put points on the board in this area quickly. Marketing must have a seat at the BI table or it risks losing relevance. This is a good place to get started… (Gartner)
Never the less, I’m willing to give MSFT the benefit of the doubt on W8. Why? Because as both Gruber and Newman point out in their opposing viewpoints, W8’s success or failure is all about what is doing the heavy data lifting. Neither tablet will be doing that “heavy lifting” in OS5 or W8.
Here’s the thing: I think MSFT has a better sense of the cloud than APPL–particularly in the Enterprise environment-(music and entertainment media files aside). If W8 manages data and “heavy lifting” via the cloud in a more elegant way than APPL does via the desktop box or via iCloud, it could well be a winner. That is certainly a possibility (the Ozzy snub not withstanding). Ozzy brought the cloud to MSFT, and he understood its power better that St. Jobs did during those critical years between 2006 and 2009 when all this stuff was getting mapped out.
I will not count MSFT out. Ever. As APPL gets more powerful and the cloud more essential, everyone is now pretty much equally evil. Google can’t keep things screwed down from a security standpoint and Amazon can’t seem to make hardware (sorry the Kindle is just sad now). APPL’s announcement about iCloud will certainly be important– game-changing even, but here’s the thing: APPL’s failed in the cloud over and over. Even if they get it right this time (as it appears), they are only going to get it right for consumers. Sadly, it’s difficult for me to imagine them getting it right for the Enterprise. They don’t even sell their enterprise-grade servers anymore.
Honestly W8 could be a big deal for MSFT and its followers. I still think the UI is ugly, but that doesn’t really matter– elegance and beauty have never mattered to the Enterprise. MSFT’s base is huge and people desperately want a tablet for work. While Keynote is ok, Numbers is a joke (really? no pane freezing?). Office still rules. Does anyone seriously predict “Office for iCloud”? APPL can’t seem to write applications worth a hoot, and I have always been compelled by the haters arguement that Apple’s OS is just Unix in a nice UI wrapper. APPL is an amazing hardware company. Always has been. The genius of the APPL strategy was its ability to master hardware AND distribution (iTunes). MSFT is a software company as is GOOG. AMZN is a distribution company. We will continue to watch power cycle from software to hardware to distribution. Look at the power that T NFLX and CMCSA have now. This may well be the the resurgence of MSFT if GOOG doesn’t get in the way. Android is a huge disappointment from the functionality and security side, it’s market share, however is enviable.
It pains me a little to say it, but this might be MSFT’s comeback if they aren’t too big to fix.
Regardless, I won’t be buying any W8 devices anytime soon.
“The belief that the future will be much better than the past and present is known as the optimism bias. It abides in every race, region and socioeconomic bracket. Schoolchildren playing when-I-grow-up are rampant optimists, but so are grownups: a 2005 study found that adults over 60 are just as likely to see the glass half full as young adults. ”
1. Facebook’s Temporary Web Dominance
This is the Big Trend next year as the new-new Facebook rolls out. The Olds will protest, while the kids couldn’t care less. In the middle though, a notable number of regular people will love having all their communication content in one place. This will create an enormous opportunity for marketers and hackers alike. More than half of whom will completely screw it up. That’s OK. We all learn from our mistakes. You can avoid a few by working extra hard to narrow your focus and segment your audience so that you don’t get stuck in the bottom bin. Relevancy and immediacy are your best shots at earning attention on Facebook.
Facebook will not meet disruptive competition in 2011. Ubiquity is not going to serve them in the long run, however.
2. Communication Fatigue
Facebook, Twitter, and all the other new ways of receiving communications has driven many to overload. Last year I mentioned going off-the-grid as a major trend, and it continues in earnest during 2011. We see it manifesting in a number of other trends that are worth paying attention to.
Much like our indifference to other drivers when we are wrapped in gleaming steel and chrome, our digital indifference to “the other” grows. This seems ironic in light of our own growing number of machine-mediated personal contacts and social-graph. On-line bullying will continue to shock us in 2011 as more and more people distance themselves from each other with technology. This creates a specific problem for customer service managers as human-to-human contact becomes potentially more confrontational. This is important to marketers as social customer services (SCRM) becomes more integral to the marketing process.
Location Services were all the rage in 2010, but now as the mobile device gets more sophisticated, location services will go into the background. Despite their best efforts, Foursquare and Gowalla and their kin will slow their uptake. Location services will work in the background as more people check in with out “checking-in”. The key to success with check-in services is meaningful reward. Until that arrives in the form of more sophisticated couponing, there is too much risk in announcing yourself.
2. A Social Media Dip ?
The global uptake of social media will continue to mask the real story in 2011.
Managing information flows and trying to teach machines what is and isn’t relevant really is fatiguing. Maintaining attention is getting tougher. The loss of efficiency is enormous but just as attention wanes from friends, it gets more and more commercialized. Social media becomes a highly effective collaborative tool (with it’s own social codes and cues) inside the enterprise as collaborative software hits mainstream adoption this year. Yes. If you want to make someone hate what they love, pay them to do it. In 2011, social media grows up and becomes work – just like in real life.
We watched this trend closely last year and see it only heating up further. In 2011 enterprise communication tools get simpler to use, more focused in their application, and more easily integrated into Business Intelligence reporting.
3. IPTV and On-Demand Programming
If you have kids, you already see this trend emerging. For those who don’t run a cable company’s head-end– or have kids– the impact of NetFlix has yet to be felt. It is very real though– even if you don’t watch TV on a PC, iPad, or other device. Heavy users of IPTV are hogging your bandwidth, ISP’s claim, and scaring the crap out of everyone in the content business. Now, there is real competition for the set top box. If you have fallen in love with all-you-can-watch programming for 7 dollars a month (plus broadband) be prepared to be frustrated as the war for on-demand TV programming heats up to uncomfortable levels for everyone.
In my eyes the most important story for 2011– that came in 2010 –was the peering dispute between Level 3 and Comcast and its implications for net neutrality. When you couple that debate with FCC and FTC approval of the Comcast’s merger with Universal, it’s clear that consumer content and marketing communication strategies must adapt in 2011. Key to adaption is finding programs that integrate content and brand. With attention at an all time premium, segregating content from advertising is more risky than ever.
4. Improved Legacy Media Advertising Revenue
The economy is turning around and advertising revenue is a great indicator that the world is not ending. While election and issue advertising over-stated revenue growth in the 3rd quarter, year-over-year things should look much better. The Recession is over and inflation is just around the corner. Meanwhile for many re-emerging businesses, investment in marketing communications will look smart again. With all the digital distractions, simple advertising will feel right– even with unmeasurable results. Still it will be hard to find an ad that isn’t somehow tied back to a digital element. That is where the value will be claimed.
5. Crowd sourced programming for radio
Jelli and Listener Driven Radio are only the beginning of this trend. Technology gives radio stations new abilities to turn programming over to the listeners in a way that makes the once-derogatory term “jukebox” an antique. These services- and those that follow- are destined to grow in popularity at a very rapid pace. Now if radio can only figure out how to monetize it, it could be a very big deal for the once-beleaguered legacy media channel
6. Print’s Migration to Digital
As tablets grow in popularity, print has an opportunity to recast itself. Corroboration is an essential part of the new media landscape and truly effective content strategies from trusted content brands will help people will find their way out of an ever more sticky echo chamber.
I think the most important thing to remember is something Fred Wilson said at the end of 2010 “Restricting access to content doesn’t work. Someone else’s content will get filtered and curated instead of yours”.
It’s all about a better ad model for legacy media. Accountability is essential if print can find pricing models that help advertisers justify costs revenue will return, even if margins take a little longer.
With the debate over the long tail all but over the new debate centers around curation or the collection of meaningful relevant content ordered in a creative way that brings value to each element collected. Facebook will become a center of curation in 2011. Measuring that curation will have marketers awash in data that could provide astounding customer insight. Will we get that? Will we be able to afford it? Those are essential questions for 2011.
For businesses and individuals just becoming social, Curation is a useful short-cut content strategy almost anyone can use to increase attention. the keys: get good at sourcing and get narrow. “Narrow your focus and broaden your appeal” was never truer than it is in effective content curation.
Good curation seeks authority. Authority has become the ultimate attention economy status symbol. in 2011 people go beyond seeking just an answer or a point of view but the correct answer and the best-informed (or most similar) point of view. Authority becomes the holy grail for the search engines and content providers. Trouble is, machines still can’t understand the words and content as well as they can scan it. Not even close. This metric will improve as we roll through 2011, but it is hard to know how useful it will really be; as issues like sentiment and context elude machine-driven analysis.
Authority is the win for legacy media in 2011. It is at the center of its value proposition. To leverage, legacy media needs to crank out more content–open up the firehose all the way. Get it branded and get it out there– but avoid the temptation to seize the browser . If you can’t void using stumbleupon or ow.ly take great pains to find a new method of measurement and avoid caging your audience with frames.
With so many sources of information how do you know who to trust–particularly when all the sources you read are biased at best and partisan at worst?
A few years ago I worked on a study at the CDC to understand public perceptions of “Public Health”. Part of that research was understanding how people internalized information as true. One thing we learned was that most people need to corroborate information. They need to see the information repeated in multiple places–not just a single source–regardless of the expertise or credibility associated with first source. That’s one reason curation matters.
News– Content is tough. Speed and accuracy win. News organizations need to learn how to sell speed and authority to their sponsors. these things matter. People like to be believe they are the first to know things. but even more importantly they want to fell right about what they have learned.
Shopping– Purchase dissonance hurts everybody’s business. There is always risk associated with converting cash to goods or services. For the past 100 years branding helped reduce that risk by giving the buyer the sense that they knew the good or service though recognition of the brand. Now, in addition to branding buyers have the ability to corroborate pricing and performance to reduce purchase dissonance even further with collaborative buying.
Announced at Salesforce’s dreamforce this year, this tool is going to drive small and mid-sized businesses to the cloud in ways no one could have predicted.
This is one of the more elegant and profitable use of the cloud. Salesforce stock shot up in 2010 for good reason. Getting data in a universal and easily accessed state is the goal for technology over the next 5 years at least (if not forever). That’s why Database.com was- IMO- the single biggest product launch announcement in 2010. In 2011 I think we’ll see lots of examples why.
Adobe air and its spawn have been way underrated in their importance. As Facebook becomes more important to most people’s everyday lives, ways of navigating through the noise of pointless status updates and marketing incompetence become essential.
Further, enterprise IT has to recognize the threat and value of Facebook to the business. Apps to the rescue. With irreversible trend of a mobile workforce and the work / personal digital identity conflicts in full reveal the only solution in the near term is a fat (local) client. Developers rejoice: you really can commit to building for the box again. Just make sure the box can move.
If this sounds more like a 2009 forecast to you, you’re caught up in the hype. Apps have yet to really penetrate the enterprise. Legacy software is a big reason for the slow uptake. That roadblock will start to come down this year.
12 Outlawing Anonymity
What good is looking into the future without a scary part?
While the debate about wikileaks continues into 2011 the lesson for our dear leaders is clear: End Anonymity Now . In return for the ability to keep ourselves insulated and entertained we seem to gladly trust huge amounts of personal data to the providers that be (regardless of their political affiliation). This is disturbing to a few of us, but not disturbing enough to most of us. Those with nothing to hide may have a lot to lose.
Of course we know anonymity is a thing of the past . It’s also different from privacy. But there is an important difference between anonymity being difficult and being illegal. Everyone will begin to understand that difference in 2011.
There will be clamoring for a clearer definition of journalist. For the last decade bloggers have been able to get press credentials with relative ease, that won’t be the case going forward. Consider that Universal/Comcast merger mentioned earlier, and the threat of investigative blogging and leaking to the legacy media. Conspiracy is hard, but shared interest is easy. In 2011 we’ll be asking “who benefits” a bit more often.
Fortunately, leaks will be impossible to contain and secrets tougher to keep. New sites will emerge and old ones become more well-known. My bet is that in 2011 the government will continue to embarrass itself with Assange and others who would take his place. Transparency wins. Let’s hope that’s more than rhetoric in 2011.
13. What’s Next–
If you were in early-in to social media you are a winner– if you weren’t, you’ll find the value of your social media efforts dubious at best.
Novelty wins the digital marketing ROI war– plain and simple.
Here’s the secret to burn on your frontal lobe: If you are early to adopt a communications method or channel, you win because there is less noise and less expense– even though the perceived risk is higher. Remember that when you are reviewing mobile marketing strategies or thinking about QR code promotions this year.
Trends I’m not watching in 2011: 3DTV (gamers only– bigger next year), “augmented reality”(not till 2015 at least), and the ever-escalating mobile device feature/benefit claims war (yawn).
Read more social media predictions here
I’m not a designer. So there’s that.
I work with them a lot, though– most of them for longer than 10 years. We still like each other too. I know this because after all these years I still don’t have to pay the a-hole rate.
The Gap logo controversy presents a good learning opportunity for designers and those who manage them.
New logos are change. Everybody hates change. Despite the rhetorical power of “new” there will always be those who will cry “FAIL” every time convention is changed. Pepsi’s re-branding was met with the same derision as Gap’s. Every time Facebook changes UI, people freak. Everyone thinks they could do it better. Here’s why they probably couldn’t:
1) There is a reason there are no monuments to committees. People dilute each other’s vision–they need to in order to have a sense of ownership in it. Brands are important,. People who work on them want to own a piece– to be able to say “I was a part of that”.
2) The Gap is very big. Size makes any change proportionately riskier. As revisions cycles pass, there is a tendency to make things safer– to not change things too much.
3) Helvetica is safe and ubiquitous. So much so, they made a movie about it. Helvetica is socialist democracy in typeface. We all know this subconsciously–so we see the new logo in its Helvetica commonness and a small part of us recoils. Gigantic Gap assimilates us in to it. If we like Gap we’re certainly suspicious of the fact that many others like it too. The use of Helvetica in corporate identity just confirms the “you are like everyone else” problem. Nobody wants to think they are just like everyone else–even when they really do. We were all teenagers once.
I don’t know if these are legitimate reasons to actually reject Gap’s new identity outright– but, I know they are at the root of the outrage. Personally, I think there are enough Helvetica logos. Who cares? That is precisely the rationale that is likely used to justify it: Helvetica is proven, easy to read and highly conventional– just like the Gap
Beyond getting what you pay for, what to learn from this?:
1) Designs don’t get better after the 3rd revision they just get different. Most designers listen to your feedback with the intent of pleasing you. If they haven’t after the third time either you don’t know what you want or you have the wrong designer.
2). Write an awesomely thorough creative brief. Justify your strategy. Make sure you articulate with great clarity what you want your customer to understand.
3.) Trust the people you hired to do their best. You hired them because of their ability. Don’t place the risk of change on the shoulder of your designer. They didn’t make the strategic decision to change. You (or your boss) did.
4) That said, insist your designers justify their choices. Why Blue? Why a bold typeface? How do their creative decisions support the strategic goals articulated in the creative brief? These are reasonable questions. Don’t be afraid to ask them.
5) Find two things you like for every one thing you don’t. Opposition creates meaning for designers (and everyone else) so both positive and negative feedback is important. Negative feedback is helpful but can sap creative energy. Boost it with positive feedback. Be specific about what you like and don’t and why. Vague criticism is very expensive.
6) If you believe “you’ll know it when you see it” you are fooling yourself. Design is not porn and you are not Justice Potter Stewart. Love at first sight is romantic but rare. Eureka moments are more scarce than people realize. Suspicious? Think about your three favorite, most enduring songs. Did you love ANY of them the first time you heard them? It takes time to internalize changes that you believe will be permanent. Let things sit a bit before you decide that third revision won’t work.
7) Since instinct is unlikely to cut it all by itself, set objective criteria for approval. testing customer reaction is fine- just understand customers don’t like change anymore than anyone else. It is highly unlikely that any customer said “Gap needs a new logo” in any research. Still you can use aesthetic criteria: simple, clean, contemporary, classic, etc. If your criteria seem at odds, identify attributes that the seemingly opposing criteria share and focus on them.
You can get a better result closer to your vision if you can articulate it. If you can’t, researchers and planners are here to help. Whatever you think of the Gap logo, you can use the shared experience of its launch to improve communications between talent and management.
Tonight, AdAge had an update Gap to Scrap New Logo Design
This is an awesome presentation about how people are effectively motivated in the work place. Seems we’re more complicated that we think.