Tag Archives: marketing

Non-stop Tidbits

#agreesharon

Life is filled with so many interesting moments that I decided to create a weekly conversation starter around one of the more entertaining observations made during the previous week. Nothing too complicated — fun to see how people answer the question.

Let me know what you think.

Learning something new every day does not change with age….that’s good to hear! Source: AARP Research #DisrutptAging

I recently started keeping notes on the new things that I observe during the day…..when you take the time to write it down………you realize how much you take for granted. So much activity! So many nuances.baby at mirror

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The Big Rethink US 2014 Conference

I was lucky enough to attend The Big Rethink US 2014 Conference delivered by conference logoThe Economist and further supported by MENG. The discussions surrounding big data, social networking and customer engagement crossed almost every industry. In this blog post, I will share twelve highlights from the March 2014 conference; they are in no particular order. For additional twitter streams, check out #BigRethink, @TheIdeasEconomy and @sharonlewisnyc.

1.Real Time Marketing
This is the Holy Grail that we marketers seek to achieve with confidence, reliability and available budget parameters. The concept behind achieving this is to set up multi-functional teams that are empowered to be spontaneous within a pre-determined set of boundaries. Huh?? Is this possible?
Yes. The example was the 2013 SuperBowl Dunk in the Dark Oreo campaign. With a zero media spend; one tweet generated 525 million media impressions.

2.Data Context: Opt-in May Still Need a Human Intervention to Avoid Bad Assumptions
At @1800Flowers, they do not assume that you send the same person a Valentines’ Day bouquet every year! In a similar vein, you cannot re-use the data that you collect for an arrangement being sent for a funeral or for condolence purposes. Enough Said!

3. Our attention span has become so short that we do not take the required time to explore many worthwhile options. Here are two examples:
Remember the amount of time that what went into making a 30 second or 60 second commercial? Our requirements for immediate gratification (read: short attention spans), have further crept into the creative process. What happened to the evolution of an idea? Some speaker discussion suggested that similar to the final campaign, the creative process has become one that demands instant gratification. As such, we may be pre-maturely eliminating some great campaigns and bottom line results.

As it relates to getting the consumer to the action stage of the offer: @MaryKayUS spoke about a mobile – first strategy with the goal of accomplishing any action within two clicks. …. “Making it easy for the soccer mom en route to the practice field” to be productive……. @SherryAG That does sound pretty close to instant gratification!

4. We have too many channels of vertical expertise. This impacts our corporate structures and our recruitment efforts
Comments from the CMOS of Lowe’s and The Weather Company spoke to trying to break down the vertical channels of expertise. As an industry, we have already established many proven formulas for successful, relevant marketing. While the quantity of the messaging channels has changed, and the available channels for marketing have changed…… The principles of relevant messaging and singular focus to action have not changed.
A good marketer can learn the nuances of a unique communications channel; Good marketing skills are applicable across any vertical channel. Hence why do we suggest otherwise in our (formal and informal) recruitment and career development policies?

5. “Say what”…….Whose language are you speaking? Whose perspective are you sharing?
There was an “aha moment” when the McCann Truth Central story was shared about a focus group participant stating that they engage in low rates of text messaging. Further probing revealed that this young adult had some 300 text messages daily; another participant piped in to say that they wake up some mornings to 1000 messages on their phone. @McCannTruth @TruthLaura
Lesson reiterated: Perceptions are everything. Probe and define the perception from which one speaks!

6. Crisp, singular messaging is nothing new and should continue to be a mantra for good communications.
Remember the old adage for a good billboard ad: six words or less! Why do we act surprised when the role of crisp singular messaging is re-proven with each new communications channel that we invent?

7. Data Sharing and Privacy
There are conceptual lines that consumers use in determining how/when/what they share. Brands are starting to learn that consumers are more aware than ever that they are sharing and that when they do… “They want something back for it”. Many of the speakers noted that they have received customer complaints from those feeling that their data was not being maximized. Again, this creates a fine line in differentiating a personalized experience from a Yuk factor, also known as a “creepy factor”. The app for a healthier lifestyle called @Noom, spoke to their success in the creation of trusted on-line weight-loss support groups; Caesar’s Entertainment spoke about real time data updates regarding the preferences of their clientele.

8. Data Context, Data Filters and Timely Data vs Relevant Data
A real time, big picture challenge that continues to be tested by marketers are the models behind: How does a brand insert themselves into a conversation that is appropriate and relevant to the customer experience?
• Here is where mobile is changing the retail shopping experience.
• Here is where content is being taken to new levels of storytelling, relevancy and entertainment (interpreted as three distinct and intertwined objectives).
• Here is where the concept of “filter failure” needs to be fine-tuned for efficacy and relevancy.

9. Would this ad prompt someone to want to see the ad again?
It seems logical that re-watching an ad is an important criteria to wanting to share the ad, thereby allowing it to go viral. Music videos being replayed on YouTube are a great example. The “Lowe’s Fix in Six,” vine series offers simple, everyday improvements that could also fit into the category of a “want to replay it”. The Apple ads that speak to what you can do with an apple product were touted as another example.
It is hard to predict what will spark a viral reaction; it is easier to go with creating something that people simply want to see/hear/experience again.

10, Note-taking was visual and intrigued everyone in the audience. Take a look

11. Analysis Paralysis
With data exploding at unparalleled rates, projects quickly become so big that they are scary—even to the best minds in quantitative model development. The presenters advised that we all just get in there and start doing it — not everyone can have the big budgets, however everyone can create learning environments.

12. Funny Expression of the Day
The budgets available to test, measure and deliver were never stated during the conference. SVP and CMO of Frito-Lay North America enthusiastically shared some memorable experiential campaigns with the audience. And, with such stories, she had us all laughing with the expression: “The juice is worth the squeeze”.

In closing: I will paraphrase an organization that was not represented at the conference: “Ya gotta be in it to win it”

Wishing us all much positive learning in our campaign endeavors.

This blog originally posted in March 2014 through the mengonline.com community via http://mengonline.com/blog/2014/03/18/reflections-economists-big-rethink-360-cmo/

Ah-ha Moments for Competitive Intelligence

Competitive Intelligence can have a huge impact to the bottom line of a business. This knowledge comes in many forms, and ultimately, it is the application of human intelligence and human logic that reveals the value in the data, the trends and the inconsistencies.ahha moment lightbulb

With this in mind, the “aha” competitive intelligence moments will often reveal themselves where you least expect to uncover them. Here are some questions to help you find the “aha” in non-traditional places, creating competitive advantages for you and your organization:

1.     Does it really matter what the competition is doing?

Competitive Intelligence is not just about looking at what your industry competitors are doing; it is about seeing your business through a completely new set of eyes.

Better stated: The activity of your peers is only one part of the equation.  In fact, case studies show that many innovative breakthroughs came from non-industry competitors. Yes, know the industry competition and, do position yourself favorably. However, do not spend so much time on the competitor activities that you forget to focus on the activity of THE most important piece of the marketplace: the customer!

2.     Can you make lemonade out of lemons?

We know that every production line output includes first quality and imperfect items. Does your business allow you to develop a secondary distribution channel for the “seconds”? For example: “ding and dent sales” for furniture or appliances or consignment stores for manufacturers over-runs.

The lemonade concept has been successfully applied to situations where fixed costs render heavily discounted, last minute offers a preferable option for the business. Last minute vacation websites (think Travelocity, Cheap Tickets) alongside of theatre ticket offerings (think Play-by-Play and Theatre Mania in NYC)  have trained many consumers to plan these activities at the last minute, thereby allowing themselves  an experience that may otherwise be unaffordable.

3.     Do you have a diversified reading list?

We’ve all been trained to regularly read the daily newspapers and the industry journals for our business specialties. However, Best Practices are often industry-agnostic; can you imagine any call center manager disputing the value in real time call monitoring and feedback loops? Reading industry journals from any other industry but your own; reading political articles that you do not agree with and occasionally scanning a forever classic Dr. Seuss book….can move your mind into new directions and thought patterns that can impact your business?

4.     Does this really have to be a seasonal item?

Back in graduate school, I prepared an advertising campaign for matzo as an all year round cracker choice. Fast forward to today’s metropolitan grocer and you are likely to find boxes of matzo year-round. In a similar fashion, Gold’s Horseradish has created another category of condiments and eliminated horseradish as a seasonal product.

5.     How can you change consumer behaviors?

Slowly is the pessimist’s answer. By speaking to emotions is the more logical answer. Create a competitive advantage for yourself by focusing on the emotional level appeal.

Forget the product benefits – Focus on the storyline. This is another great example of seeing a situation through a different set of eyes. Madison Avenue examples of this:

  • Nike is not about shoes and running shorts. It is about a state of mind: Just Do It. Get out and exercise
  • The L’Oreal tagline” Because You’re worth it” moved the emphasis off of the products and onto the consumer. Yeah, I am worth it – I am beautiful
  • What if we could apply this to our children’s chore-list? Imagine: “A neat room is a higher test score”
  • Zappos is a customer service company…that happens to sell shoes!

SUMMARY:

Competitive intelligence is not just about looking at what your industry competitors are doing; it is about seeing your business through completely different sets of eyes.  And using these new and varied viewpoints to maximize opportunities.

 

Original posting: FIVE KEY Questions on Competitive Intelligence. New Places to find the “ah-ha” by @sharonlewisnyc #EQlist buff.ly/1gsE3Dz  via @CASUDI

Tame The Elephant in the Room

You know that feeling you get in your gut when a difficult subject needs to be addressed and you suddenly become the world’s master of procrastination.  Is there an elephant in the room?  What do you do if:

  • The customer service center was unable to handle the volume of inbound leads generated by your Facebook campaign.
  • You hit “reply all” on a conversation which included sensitive subject matter intended only for “reply to sender.”
  • An entire electronic file appears to be missing and the intern is still working on updating the documents.
  • Cash is missing or you realize that someone chipped the heirloom figurine and neglected to tell you.
  • Your toddler, who is in the middle of toilet training, decides to show off their new skills in the toilet remodeling department of Home Depot (Just saw this LOL scene on TV).

No matter how much training you have in mediation or facilitation, these sorts of situations are rarely viewed as light conversation.  Unaddressed, these issues foster confusion and make everyone distracted, preoccupied, and sometimes fearful.  All of these emotions waste valuable time and hamper productivity.

Wikipedia describes the elephant in the room phrase as “an obvious truth that is either being ignored or going un-addressed…an obvious problem or risk no one wants to discuss…” awkward moment image

Five Steps to Managing the “Elephant in the Room”

Recognizing the elephant in the room is an important first step.  The real finesse, however, comes in acknowledging  the elephant in a manner that allows everyone to feel comfortable enough to participate in the discussion and then to move past it.  Let’s take a look at some of the ways that we can tame the proverbial “elephant in the room:”

  1. Open up the discussion by expressing the issue and inviting input from others.  To do this effectively necessitates that you share your views with little or no emotion.  Why?  Because emotions are contagious and at this point, you are looking to ask others to share.
  2. Asking others to share their viewpoint displays consideration for their perspective.  Stop and listen —really listen—to what they say.  Acknowledge their input and demonstrate a sincere interest in their comments.  Creating an environment where someone feels like they can share allows you to discuss a potentially “forbidden” subject and sets the tone for continued dialogue.  As the dialogue continues, you collect more information that can be used for a reality check.
  3. Do a reality check:  Is this really an elephant or can we resolve this with less drama?  Your attitude on this may set the tone for others and alleviate stress or awkwardness.  Honesty expressed in a calm and thoughtful manner can help to disarm the elephant.
  4. Be honest, direct and convey confidence.  A difficult issue becomes an elephant in the room when it is ignored despite everyone being aware of it.  By naming what others may be avoiding, you will transform the elephant into an obstacle—obstacles are far less overwhelming for the psyche to handle and move off of.
  5. Move forward:  Thank everyone for their inputs.   Summarize the next steps.  Ask others to concur with your summary.  Where possible, ask others to take on a responsibility that increases the likelihood of maintaining harmony.

Deep breath.  You can tame the elephant and move forward.

original post : “You, too, Can Tame the Elephant in the Room” http://ow.ly/qJHb8 by@sharonlewisnyc [TODAY’S POST] #MENGonline #Marketing #Leadership

 

How Do I Trust Thee in the Workplace: Let Me Count Five Ways

How Do I Trust You?
For many, the answer could not be simpler: I trust you or I do not trust you. Who cares how you define it?

I propose that the answer is not quite so simple:
• Trust is a cornerstone of creating change
• Trust requires a relationship between two or more people; Not all relationships are created equal
• Trust implies that even when you, yourself, are uncertain of something….the other party (parties) will help you to uncover the issues and direct you to a solution
• Trust involves a leap of faith; it is easier to speak about trust than to “do trust”
Hence, just like we have various types of power, types of love and types of communication….we have numerous types of trust in the business setting. The person that you trust to run your medical office is not necessarily the same person that you trust to decorate your home, edit your son’s college application or help you with your retirement planning.

Here are FIVE KEY questions to understand trust in a professional working environment:

1. Do you have Professional Trust?
Professional trust in the business setting is often a function of dependability.
• Will you deliver what you promised/exceed the expectations of what you promised?
• Are you a team player?

2. Do you have Rules-Based Trust?
This refers to the trust that people have in the rules of society. For example: people politely form lines when walking up stairs; they avoid eye contact on crowded buses and they superficially begin most conversations with the expression:” How’ya doing?”

In previous work environments, rules based trust said that if we work very hard and demonstrate loyalty to one employer, our efforts will be recognized in status, salary and security. In today’s environment, those rules have changed. Hard work is a function of one’s personal drive to achieve and those achievements are portable into other situations, employment or entrepreneurship.

3. Do you have Situational Trust?
This reflects personal experience and is assumed to carry forward to the current situation. It applies to both workplace and non-workplace forms of trust.
• We trust our management team to provide guidance and support to us in meeting our objectives;
• We trust our educational systems to engage us in learning that will be valued in the marketplace;
• We expect that those we work with will be supportive of our personal efforts and responsible in the delivery of their own individual responsibilities.

4. Do you have Medical Trust?
I sit in the endodontic chair having root canal and trust that his expertise and his steady hand will get me through the procedure

5. Do you Trust Your Instincts?
This is another one of the trusts that have both workplace and non-workplace applications.
• You must have a level of trust in yourself so as to be able to trust another
• There was an Oprah magazine article that said something like “take advice as advice”. Everyone gives you their two cents, but you have to follow your gut.

Summary:
Trust is a special relationship that exists between two or more people. The power of trust is significant as it is the cornerstone of change, as well as the cornerstone of on-going working relationships. Not all trust is created equal. However, every form of trust deserves to be treated as the valuable asset that it represents.

How do I Trust Thee in the Workplace…Let Me Count Five Ways!

This blog originally appeared 01/2014 via #EQlist: What Every Entrepreneur Needs to Ask to be Successful goo.gl/d4XFwV

Is there a formula to asking Brilliant Questions?

Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, “If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first fifty-five minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.”

Not surprisingly, Einstein makes a good point. And, so I set out to ask others what they think of that observation. In turn, practicing the philosophy first hand. The dialogue was great. The conversations produced a list of seven common themes. And so, with a number of qualitative research projects on my plate, I set out to be uber-deliberate in using these themes in the formulation of the questions that I would be taking into the field. Correlating the brilliant question criteria to my own facilitation guides did indeed have a positive impact!  Here are the seven themes:

What qualities make a question brilliant?

1. Inspiration to see things in a new light

For example: Five plus five equals ten; what other numbers can be used to get me to ten?

  1. Generates thoughtful willingness to challenge the norm

Referencing Storm Sandy remains a tangible reference point. What would happen if a critical piece of this process were no longer available?

  1. Creates ownership of the solution

Tell me: What do you suggest we do here?

  1. Provides clarity of purpose

In explaining what someone does, they are forced to account for how the dots connect.

  1. Encourages new solutions

Probe: What are the frustrations in doing it this way? Can that be done in any other way?”

  1. Asks for an evaluation of limited resources

If you had the power to change it, what are the consequences of choosing A over B?

  1. Open ended enough to solicit the “how, why and what do you think about this” yet tight enough to provide direction to the thought process

Imagine yourself painting a picture. Now imagine yourself painting a picture of the golf course where you played last week-:)

Image

Look Elsewhere for Answers

In addition to the quest for consistently developing brilliant questions to ask, it always astonishes me when the “ah-ha moments come from where you least expect.

I was recently contracted to interview people that could help us learn more about employee overtime as a source of income in today’s economic environment. While speaking to individuals across industries, it was time to dig deeper within a particular function within a particular industry. Employees, HR executives, department managers all provided lots of interesting insights. It was the conversation with a professional in a completely unrelated industry to the one that I was researching….that the “ah-ha” moment came into place. My facilitation guide took on a new twist and each time I presented the “ah-ha” question to my interviewees…they lit up in the same way that I did with the implications presented. This was empowering. And, it was fun for all involved.

When in doubt, provide praise

In the exploration phase of a project looking to uncover breakdowns between functional departments, I was presented with an opinion that I did not quite know what to do with. “Great point. No-one else has mentioned that”, I said.  “Tell me more.” And the flood-gates opened!

Do you find yourself asking questions that lead you to great answers?

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” (said the same man).

Location. Location. Environment. Environment

Location. Location. Location. This has long-been the mantra in the real estate industry. I propose an extension of this mantra which says: Location. Location. Environment. Environment. The environment that you set up for your work, home, study and communications is as important as the physical location.

I recently learned of a wonderful woman who was looking to launch a think-tank for entrepreneurial start-ups. Her twist on the concept was great and I looked forward to getting the announcement details for the kick-off event. Her meet-up announcement drew a strong response. So why did so very few people show up to the meeting? The location, while conveniently located and free to the facilitator—-was to be held on the second floor conference room of a funeral parlor. Location and environment need to work together.

A recent retiree was excited to start taking classes at her local community center. She read the website and the catalog in detail and chose a selection of programs. Her first day of class, she noticed a sign on the building that she never took note of previously; it read: “Senior Center”. The woman felt horrible and while she knew that both the class and the other class participants were young and vibrant, she gets a knot in her stomach every time she enters the building and sees the words “senior center”. Nuances in one’s environment can make all the difference.

Years ago a decorator told me how they were asked to create a working space for a young student with ADD, poor grades and a frustrated attitude toward his school work. As the story was told, the decorator’s chest popped outward and his shoulders squared back—“I designed a working area for that student”, he said which “took that young man’s grades up to B+/A-. That marked an entirely different type of reward for the decorator who normally created beautiful entertaining spaces.

What do you do every day to create an environment that is creative to your own work and the comfort level of others? Here are a few more examples that I have found recently.

When you speak to your doctor, do they stand or sit so as to meet you at your eye level? They should; it creates an entirely different environment for your conversation.

When you meet someone in their offices, do they bring the conversation to the small work table in their office or move their chair around their desk so as to sit next to you while speaking? That desk creates an informal barrier.

Whenever I am in the elevator of an office building, I always look out into the offices of each floor that the elevator makes a stop. Today I watched as three people got out on the same floor and each employee passing by the reception desk took a piece of the fresh fruit sitting in the bowl on the reception table. What a nice way to tell someone: Good Morning; Take good care of yourself!.

And least, we forget the lighting, the flowers, the candles and the music which so distinctly add dimension to our environment.

Location. Location. Environment. Environment. Both are key criteria to making you, your family and your business team comfortable.