Category Archives: Business

Supermarket Champagne and How Quick Win is Not Always Beneficial for Your Brand

For a person coming from Finland where you only can buy wines from government-run monopoly even seeing wines in supermarket is somewhat mind-boggling. However where I advocate liberal policies, being too accessible might not be that wise strategy if you want to be regarded as premium luxury brand.

In the case of G.H. Mumm the genie is out of the bottle (no pun intented) and it has definitely positioned itself as a mainstream champagne. However even for supermarket champagne this promotion is just plain ridiculous:

gh_mumm

Taking picture of receipts?

Sending messages to dubious WhatsApp numbers?

How low will your brand go?

To me if you want to be perceived luxury you should not even be having promotions or discounts. But even if having promotion you could create a better and more luxurious experience, maybe a nice landing page or if you want to use messenger apps: a chatbot.

Brands are after quick wins and forget that those actions will deteriorate the brand on the long run.

(Some smartass might ask why I bought the bottle in the first place, which is a valid question. In this case, the wacky promotion did not stop me from buying the product (but it was close). I just ignored the promotion) 

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The Age of Assistant: The More Personalized and Predictive Internet

starwars

We are entering the age of assistants, they just reside in our mobile phones.

Internet used to be about destinations. Typing in URL. Searching for something you need in Google and then following that search result to the rabbit hole of different sites. Clicking on banner ads and going to the websites from those banners.

That age is soon long gone.

Although majority of firms are still basing their digital strategies on destination approach, we have already moved to the age of assistant. Internet will become more personalized, predictive and the same time it will become more even more centralized. Our communications will start revolving around our messenger app (mainly WhatsApp), our information gathering will happen in Google app (increasingly through voice) and our buying will start to focus (again increasingly more through voice). Every brand needs to become better in predicting user behavior to provide more personal service:

  1. Prediction will trump the destination approach

When I have booked a flight, Google will automatically say to me to check-in, take a taxi and arrive on time. I am not going willingly to websites of either my airline, the airport or taxi company. The whole journey is prompted by the assistance of Google and I am happy for it. Our digital properties must be able to work in conjunction with this new assistant ecosystem. We need to balance between positive surprise (“How did they know that? So cool!”) and slightly creepy  (“How did they know that?” So scary!).

  1. People want the service in their own personal way

Chatbots have just scratched the surface of conversational commerce. We want to order pizza with emojis. Get song recommendations based on the context (“Hey Google, play that new theme from James Bond”). While the world will become more voice and message-driven, the transactions will become more personal and conversational. We must revamp our service process and lingo, so that we are able to serve our consumers in way that is intuitive for them.

The future of your digital business will be revolving around consumer data. The more you can have it, the better you can predict the behavior and more personal service you can give. We are entering the age of assistant and the best butler will rule them all.

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Turning Over a New Leaf

Last week I started a new job.

It is always exciting times. Lots of new faces and names. New processes. Different snacks in pantry. Different slang.

First couple of weeks are also devastating: you are already anxious to make your mark but you should also listen and absorb as much as possible. First weeks are great time to ask those stupid questions that everyone is anxious to ask, but after a while are too afraid to do so. So I have been mainly trying to talk to as many people as possible and to think as much as possible. I know that soon the time to think is of high value.

Many people asked what prompted me to change the job. I gave the following analogy:

The key to continuous progress when you are training with weights is to frequently vary your load or the amount of repetitions. Not too often, because then you lose the focus and just do random things. Not too seldom either because then your muscles get too comfortable to your current exercise. For a while it felt to me that I was doing the right exercises at work, but I did not develop as fast as I desired. Then you start to analyze can you easily vary your load, repetitions or should you change a gym.

After four great years in R/GA, it was time for me to change the gym and also the complete training program.

It is of course early days, but it already looks like the training program is starting to bear a fruit.

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Anatomy of An Insight: Don´t Ask The Internet

Cyberchondria is a growing concern among many healthcare practitioners as patients can now research any and all symptoms of a rare disease, illness or condition, and manifest a state of medical anxiety.
-Wikipedia

I seldom get sick, but when occasionally I start to feel under the weather I will enter to full-fledged hypochondria. After entering the rabbit hole of Google searches I will be convinced that I have gotten some weird tropical disease and I am on my way to early grave. Knowledge is power, but quite often knowing too much about potential diseases will just result in increased anxiety. To tackle this common behavior, the healthcare app Babylon has launched a new outdoor campaign “Don´t ask the internet. Ask a real doctor”:

hangover

Insight: People find visiting their doctor cumbersome, so they try to self-diagnose themselves with Google and avoid doctor visits as long as possible. This results in false diagnoses and growing unsubstantiated fear about potential problems.

sorethroat

Good campaign idea combining the humans need of convenience and rising cyberchondria. Babylon health app provides diagnoses from fully qualified GPs (with some AI) to your mobile phone, so you can get authentic info but don´t need to physically visit doctor:

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Why You Should Not Read This Post

Did I catch your attention?

I thought so.

In his great book ”Originals”*, Adam Grant shares story of how Babble (online parenting magazine and blog network) pitched to Disney. Rufus Griscom started his presentation by listing five reasons why Disney should not buy them. Surprisingly (or not) Disney bought Babble with 40M.

Why this counterintuitive sales tactic is actually really smart?

  1. You don´t do hard sell

Too many times when I listen to pitches, the people sound like used car salesman and are bombarding you with too many reasons to buy. That makes you sound insecure. There is a thin line between passionate and desperate. Confident salesman does not need to push.

Often times entrepreneurs who get the most investment are actually the ones who are the least enthusiastic.
– Adam Grant

  1. You anticipate their biggest concerns.

Investors are always thinking about potential challenges with their investment. When you address the concerns in the beginning you don´t need to sell your best parts so hard.

If he’s confident enough that the company is high quality that he’s willing to talk about its weaknesses, it must have some strength.

– Adam Grant

  1. You catch the attention immediately.

How many time you have been in sales pitch that follows the usual format? By flipping the script, you immediately catch the attention and you are talking to an audience that is awake.

It’s grabbing attention, it’s different, you don’t expect it.

– Adam Grant

This method does not necessarily always work, but it makes sense to shake up the status quo of your pitches from time to time.   

Assuming that the idea has some merit, when people have to work hard to generate their own objections, they will be more aware of its virtues.

– Adam Grant 

*One of the better business books of later years. It does not really have unified narrative or answer what makes people original, but it has useful anecdotes on almost every page that defy the traditional views. With majority of business books I just recommend reading executive summary, but this book is definitely worthwhile to read as a whole.

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New Social Order: Why Everything You Learned About Social Media is Wrong?

nwo

“Messaging is the new web browser. Everyone has a phone. Everyone has a favourite messaging app on their phone. If your new thing can message people via those apps, then anyone can engage with you.”

Matt McAlister (Guardian) 

Social media has been good to me. I used to work in MySpace in its heyday. I mostly made my name after that doing many succesful Facebook campaigns. I have exploited all the useful social media channels in promoting my books, parties and whatever else I have been doing. Majority of readers to this blog come from Twitter and LinkedIn.

That being said, social media is not what it used to be. It has become big business. It has become boring. It has become predictable. Essentially social media has reached the adulthood.

Marketers took a while to learn the ropes of social media. Now we have to unlearn everything we knew about social media if we want to succeed in the new marketplace:

  1. Social media listening is becoming meaningless

70% of the social discussions cannot be tracked because they happen in ”dark social” e.g. in messenger platforms and to lesser extend e-mail and SMS (older demographics). All the social media listening tools are focusing heavily on Twitter with some Instagram and Facebook mixed in. That is hardly a representative of almost any audience. Social media listening tools focus on Twitter because it is easy to monitor. That is like only doing biceps at the gym, because it is the most convenient movement to do. The reality is that you don´t know what your audience is talking about in digital and most likely will not be able to know in the near future.

Regard social media listening as a pulse (or weak signal) of what is happening, but not the full accurate picture of your audience and what they are talking about. Unless your audience are ”social media gurus” and celebrities.

  1. Engagement with your audience is a myth

Facebook is not social media; it is paid media. There is no organic reach for the brands anymore. You have to approach Facebook with same tools and methods as TV (expect with slightly better targeting opportunities). The most interesting bit about Facebook is the whole ecosystem with WhatsApp, FB Messenger and Instagram. Referring to previous point, we might not know what people are talking on WhatsApp but soon we can target ads based on what they are talking.

Forget always-on, approach Facebook through campaigns. Do less, but bigger things. For smaller things, automate as much as possible.

  1. Chatbots are the magic bullet to bring utility to social and make brands meaningful

The whole digital experience will start to revolve around messengers. The real value brands can bring is not in human relationships, but in human-machine relationships. Community manager –model is not sustainable as it requires actual people running it. Seeing a social post of pizza will not improve your life, but ability to order pizza from the messenger will (or make it worse depending on how many pizzas you eat a week). Conversational commerce will be the biggest opportunity for the brands in the short run to become meaningful in digital sphere.

Define how you can bring value to your audience through messenger with chatbots. Move fast because your competitors are most likely thinking about the same things as well.

  1. Influencers and partnerships are the key to borrow relevance

Ad-blocking is becoming more and more prevalent. Whether your ad is in Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, the default setting for your audience will be to block it. Only way to overcome ad-blocking is Again brands should not play in human-human relationships, but as an enhancer and enabler of star-human relationship. You have to start working with relevant influencers and start creating native content with the relevant media entitities. The answer to ad-blocking is not making better ads, because once you have blocked your ads you will not unblock them just because quality of interruptions has improved.

Go where your audience is and play with their rules.

  1. Forget social media

Like said earlier, the digital behavior will start (has already started) to revolve around messengers. That will be a melting pot of social, mobile and eCommerce and you have to understand that whole melting pot to succeed in the new marketplace. Our audience is not slicing and dicing their life. Messengers are lifeline of their whole existence and there is no boundaries between real-life and digital.

Your audience does not live in silos. You should not select your vendors to specialize in silos either. 

New social order has been here for already quite a while. Is your company ready for it?

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Who are able to Keep Their Jobs when the Robot Apocalypse Happens?

terminator

Majority of the work we are doing as marketing professionals will be done by robots in (not so far) future. So if we won´t embrace that change, we will The workforce lead by robots is not only a threat for luddites but also opportunity for broad-minded professionals. Before anything can be automated and singularity kicks in, there will be a (probably relatively long) period of augmentation when we can work alongside with smart machines.

In their book ”Only Humans Need Apply”, writers Tom Davenport and Julia Kirby list five potential ways for us humans to remain relevant when robots starts to take over:

Step Up
Overseeing the automated systems.

Who will keep their jobs in advertising industry?
A few lucky managers, who are visionary and ruthless enough to replace majority of the workforce with automated systems.

Step In
Learning more about how robots will work and how to improve them.

Who will keep their jobs?
Those who are currently good at their jobs but not opposed to progress and using robots to do majority of the heavy lifting in their work. Combination of machine learning and human tacit knowledge is quite often the killer combination compared to only-human and only-robot approaches. At least for now.

Step Aside
Paradoxically the much-ridiculed ”soft skills” are more robot-prone than the more analytical skills. It is easier to teach robot to kick your ass on math challenge, but way harder to teach robot to have empathy when your colleague is having a bad day.  Using human skills like motivation, creativity, persuasion or empathy while using the automated systems will be the killer combination in expert services (e.g. financial advisory: robots are doing the investing, humans are doing the selling).

Who will keep their jobs?
Everyone who can sell and gets along with people. Evem when majority of the hard work is done by machines you still need human touch to sell those solutions to other humans.

Step Narrowly
Specialize in field so obscure that it does not make sense to automate.

Who will keep their jobs?
Those specialists who you call to perform really weird tasks with high price tag (e.g. the best taxidermy photographer, world´s best copywriter for sanitary pads, scouting agent specializing in New York) and you always wonder how they make their living (from those weird tasks and commissioning premium, duh). In global marketplace there is enough demand for pretty much anything and there is always higher demand for the best one in the field.

Step Forward
Developing new systems and technology to automate processes.

Who will keep their jobs?
Forward-looking people who have good understanding of current processes and preferably understanding of data & algorithms (or alternatively ability to speak the same language as data geeks).

As we can see from this list, there are plenty of opportunities in our field to work alongside smart machines. What combines all of these ways (maybe excluding stepping narrowly which is probably the least applicable route to majority of us) is that we need to embrace the improvements that smart machines can bring to our ways of working.  We need to be willing to work to add value to machines and be willing to let machines add value to our work. If you are opposing change and just hope for legislative restrictions to slow down the inevitable, you are without your job sooner than you think.

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Elevating Everyday Chore to an Experience

Some people say that things don´t make you happy. I say that those people just haven´t yet had good things in their life.

One of the things I have enjoyed the most this year has been my newly acquired straight razor.

bismarck

Why any modern man would need straight razor?

Not for any rational reason and therefore it is just the right item for modern gentleman. When everything is becoming more and more like commodity, the way to differentiate is to make your product less accessible. We are taking so many things granted nowadays because they have been made too easy for us. Mass industry will continue simplifying things further, so we as consumers need to complicate things for ourselves, if we want to regain our appreciation to everyday things.

Here are five pointers you should apply to your own (mundane) product:

1. Create ritual(s) around your product
When shaving with straight razor, you cannot just start shaving. You need to “strop” your knife with leather belt to ensure that your straight razor is sharp. Then you need to soften your skin with hot towel. Lather cream to your face with the badger brush using a circular motion. Use hot towel again and also some expensive after-shave products. What used to be boring forgettable everyday chore is not highlight of the day*. This is a great example of “Ikea effect” when you put disproportionate value to things you have spent time on. I didn´t have any discussions about shaving before, but now my oldschool shaving regime is a conversation topic.

2. Build your own tribe
Before I started this straight razor routine I did not know how much there are information and shaving aficionados in the world. On global scale there are enough specialists to create sustainable business out of everything.

3. Be proudly old-school
My razor is actually a replica of Bismarck razors. The company was founded in 1852. For me vinyl records are the best format for music, not necessarily the most convenient and the effective for music listening. You cannot compare straight razor experience to modern methods on rational terms, because whole idea of using straight razor in 2016 is completely irrational.

4. Make your product hard to acquire
You cannot exactly buy your good straight razors in your local 7-Eleven. I had latently been trying to find a good razor for over a year and then scored one in Gentleman´s store in Amsterdam. Scarce availability makes you appreciate your product even more. The current manufacturer for Bismarck blades, Dovo, is not either that accessible. Their website is only in German and although I technically should understand it, the experience is not as smooth as your everyday Gillette. That is accompanied with only having product information as PDF. Old-school brand should consider do they need new-school website.
 
5. Have sense of danger in your product
Although we don´t need to wrestle lions anymore, it feels quite manly to take care of your beard with weapon that could theoretically kill you. That makes you humble and grateful after every shave.

Sometimes the secret to making your product desirable is to actually make it more complicated and less accessible than the competitors.

*Using straight razor is naturally easier for guys like me who need to only shave once a week. Current beard trend helps also in that you do not be that clean-shaven daily.

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The Referee and The Player: Digital Media´s Dilemma

“We have also been calling for a long time for media owners like Facebook and Google not to mark their own homework and release data to ComScore to enable independent evaluation. The referee and player cannot be the same person.”

– Sir Martin Sorrell (WPP CEO)

The most successful companies of digital age are data companies. The data is their core business, so it is quite understandable they are not particularly keen to share their most valuable asset to third party companies. There is a worry that competitors could get to learn their secrets. The dilemma is that some of the secrets are crucial for business success, but other secrets are quite dirty.

“I don’t lie. I just massage the truth.”

– Jack Donaghy (30 Rock)

Facebook inflated numbers for their videos for over two years. I was not particularly shocked. 56% of display ads are never seen. Majority of the ads that are seen, are not really seen by humans but bots. 100 of millions of people are blocking mobile ads every single day, so you are most likely serving your ads to less digital savvy audience.

Digital advertising has always been prone to fidgeting with numbers. Anyone who has worked in digital media, knows that there are tricks to inflate certain KPIs when your monthly report is due. Companies are not exactly telling lies about their numbers, but they are not telling the whole truth either. Everyone reports their main metrics a little bit differently, so that the numbers match with their sales pitch (not the other way around).

It is not necessarily with everyone interest to have 3rd party assessment for the biggest platforms, but it would definitely help. Other important thing would be to have more unified metrics across the main platforms:

  1. For big reach channels with minimal ad interruption (e.g. Facebook) it should be the average audience in any given minute.
  2. For more interruption and visible formats (e.g. YouTube pre-roll) it should be the time seen and actions taken.
  3. At the end of the day it should always be about the eCommerce sales. Actual transactions are harder to fake with bots and different reporting standards.

It might also be that recent “videogate” does not change anything. The literacy for marketers regarding numbers and data is unfortunately still quite low.

“The issue is being hugely overblown. Marketers do not care about it, and it has zero impact on spend.”

Jason Stein (Laundry Service CEO)

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Show That You Care and Don´t Screw Up

If waiter repeats customer´s order, he is more likely to get a tip. Just by repeating order, 78% gave tip compared to 52% when waiter just confirmed the order. It is a simple thing, but how many waiters really do it?  It is also good rule to live by every time you are serving customers. You need empathy but you need to deliver as well.

Show that you care
People love their own words and decisions. Repeating the order confirms that you have done the right decision. Customers will experience sameness with the servers, like them more and will leave bigger tips.

Don´t screw up
When waiter repeats the order, there are higher likelihood that the order will be right. By doing something that showcases interest of your customer´s needs, you are also securing your own back.

It is win-win situation: you appreciate the customer and same time you minimize your probability of doing mistake. In Singapore context though, I don´t know what would be the result on tip when waiter repeats your order but is still able to mess it up.

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