Yearly Archives: 2014

Customer Journey…a Road Too Long?


Do you know your product’s top 5 twitch points? You should.  Customer journey is a new age marketing tool used by comms planners to find better ways to intersect with and influence customers. The journey maps out awareness, activities, research, purchase and out-of-box experience. (Chart courtesy of Frog Design.) Some use the old school taxon AIDA (awareness, interest, desire and action), a dumbed down version.  It’s truly good stuff and a lot more valuable than a simple DILO (day in the life of) media planning approach, but if you follow the Frog Design rigor (chart) you may also end up a little dizzy.customer journey

Twitch Points are moments when a person twitches way from one media or device in favor of another in search of clarification. Kindle to Google Earth. Newspaper to Wikipedia. Car dealership to JD Power. Best Buy to Amazon. Car radio to Shazam.

Twitch Point Planning is simpler than the above Frog Design learning scheme. Less complex. Understanding, mapping and manipulating customers closer to a sale is its goal. It needn’t be overthought.  Don’t get me wrong, it needs to be thought, just not overthought. If you find your top 5 twitch points, your five most commerce producing twitches, you don’t need a road map, journey, or KPIs.  You need a good accountant…to count da monies.

Peace be upon you.

How to Find the Best Interns.


A start-up prospect of mine accidently sent me an email, the topic of which was an internship program at a local university. (I did not open it, good boy that I am.) But it got me thinking. The top interns gravitate toward startup companies who do the best job of ‘splaining what the company is and what the company does –startups that can articulate their Is-Does in other word. And that doesn’t just apply to  startups. Many small and mid-size companies lack the Is-Does ability. The smartest interns go to the companies who can easily and clearly define their product and its value. In 140 characters. Not a breathy 6 minute meander. 

How does one create a tight Is-Does? Yep, from a brand strategy. 

A brand strategy is not a tagline.  It is an organizing principle anchored to an idea. It is the result of lots of work, insights, customer care-abouts and product strengths boiled down into a tight easy to articulate, easy to remember explanation.    

If you are a company fishing in the intern pond, you know there will be lots of resumes coming your way.  A tight Is-Does will makes sure the right resumes are coming your way.  The resumes of then next generation of leaders. Peace.  

Trail of Apps


If you were to take all the apps in the world and put them in room then analyze their reasons for being, what would be the commonalities? Access to information. Connectedness among people. Geolocation. And shopping assistance. With the first two of these alone you have enough firepower to change a country’s political future, so we’re not talking trivial functionality here. When combined, these four abilities, are creating unbound wealth and an industry the size of which the planet has never seen. BUT. But most apps, by themselves, are quite shallow, trivial, narcissistic and a waste of good spectrum. And so an opportunity.

That opportunity is for mankind to create web and mobile applications concerned with improving harmonious life on the planet. Less bullying, more cultural understanding. Less bias more plurality. The internet of things that lets us take note of and turn off energy-consuming appliances is a start. Saving money is one motivator for turning out the lights, saving the planet quite another.

Apps that aid the environment, apps that improve health, apps that allow us to contribute positively a sustainable future are going to be the new black.  This is what Kleiner Perkins was thinking about a few years ago. Slow and steady goes the race. As Millennials turn into greyheads, thus will turn the trail of apps. Peace.

A Question for Stuart Elliott.


Ask any Chief Marketing Office or Marketing Director what their annual sales are and you’ll get an answer. Ask about the annual marketing budget. Quick answer. Cost of goods, manufactures suggested retail price, market share? These are questions for which marketing leads all have answers.

Two questions likely to baffle CMOs and marketing directors, however, are: What is your brand strategy (claim)? And what are your brand planks (proofs of claim)? Most marketers know their business KPIs, but don’t have them translated into brand-benefit language. The language that give them life and memorability. CMOs use business school phrases like “low cost provider,” “more for more,” “innovation leader”, “customer at center of flah flah flah…”, but that’s not how consumers speak.  

claim and proof

The key to brand planning is knowing what consumers want and what the brand is good at. (“Good ats” and “care-abouts”.) Combining these things into a poetic claim and three discrete support planks is the organizing principle that focuses marketing and makes it more accountable. Across every expense line on the Excel chart.

Stuart Elliott, advertising columnist of The New York Times should make this a requisite question in all his interviews. “What is your brand strategy?” If he gets any semblance of a claim and proof array, I’ll be surprised. Peace!

A Content Creation Rant.


You’ve heard the expression “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” It’s awful and belittles one of our most important professions. It brings to mind a pet peeve related to the web so I’ve modified it, “Those who can, post; those who can’t, curate.”

I was reading about Contently getting its Series B round of funding, which I’m sure it deserves, furthering my belief that this outsourced cottage industry of content creation is getting out of control.  Crazier than that, however, is the curation business. A friend of mine who is in the school security software space recently sent me a newsletter from Paper.LI with an article about Disney World. Guess it was a slow news day.

I write a lot about the difference between “posters” and “pasters” in web publishing. Anyone who can copy and paste falls into the latter category. Those with original thoughts are part of the former. Good brands don’t outsource content by the pound, they create it themselves. And manage it themselves – hopefully guided by brand strategy.

Content marketing was initially developed as a way to improve search results. Real content vs. cheesed content with lots of keywords.  I suspect the curation business is an outgrowth of this as well and way to build links without much effort. Content creation and curation is probably a half billion dollar business by now. 80% is effluvia, unoriginal noise.

Get your brand strategy right then build your own content. See what works, what’s engaged and keep learning (teacher reference). Peace!


The good the bad and the good.


Lots of people like to predict the future. As someone who professes to work beyond the dashboard, here is my two cents. The following trends are business opportunities and societal movements.

First THE BAD:

Privacy – With the economy fueled by the purchase of lots of new internet connected devices, using few monetization models beyond advertising, more consumer data will be tracked, more ways, in more places than ever before.

Over Medication – If you watch the evening news and are of a certain age you will see we are running out of pharmaceutical brand names. They are getting more ridiculous and unpronounceable by the hour. Don’t get me wrong, some of the work is utter genius. The rest is all about profit. When we need meds to counteract the side effects of other meds it’s time to take a breath.

Security – With privacy compromization (Why is this not a word?) a business model, security companies will continue to grow in importance. Think over medication.

Sedentariness — Our reliance on automobiles for short term transportation is literally killing us. And the planet. But it does give us more time to eat and relax.



Democratization – As more people around the world have a voice and governance becomes more plural, tolerance will grow and famine of the belly, soul and mind will recede.

Craft Economy – As household members take more responsibility for the consumption patterns of their families societies will evolve away from waste. As our leisure time grows thanks to technology and we begin to focus that time on DIY projects, the purchase and creation of products that last, and living more sustainably, the ecosystem will improve.

Learning – The web has created the ability for us to commune with and learn from other people on the planet. It is the biggest positive change in our recordable history. Once we stop trying to monetize it and focus on learning from our worldly cousins, we will heavy up the good side of the ledger.

What have I missed? Peace.


When a food writer can’t taste.


I read a headline this past weekend “When a food writer can’t taste” which got me thinking about brand strategy and marketing strategy.  How does a food writer approach an assignment when s/he can’t actually taste the food? (How did Beethoven compose after losing his hearing?)  Had the food writer the ability to taste prior to losing the sense, the experience would be muscle memory-driven.  Of course the writer would need to know how the meal was prepared, the ingredients and the amounts. And watched preparation technique.  It would also help to watch people eat the food to understand tastes, aromas and textures.

Sadly, a good deal of strategic work in the market today is perfunctory. It lacks the hand and design of someone who has actually tasted the product or product experience.  Often there is a reliance on the muscle memory of other assignments. A reliance on demographics — and then the work is driven by nothing more than a media insight. jean-georges

Just as creatives know when the work is done, so do planners. Planners need enough time to mine insights, experience those insights and learn deeply about their meaning. Put that level of learning into your brand plan and you are, then, ready to start tasting. Peace.     


Give and Take in Content Marketing.


There are two fundamental behavior types on the social web: giving and taking. Givers are those trying to help others, either via original thought or curation.  All those posts on Twitter that start out “7 ways to increase your…”,  those are from givers.  Takers are people looking for information. “Where is Lone Survivor playing? Who is the actress in Vampire Diaries?”  Takers are also looking to get answers to questions. Platforms like Ask, Jelly and Quora come to mind.

If, as a brand, you look at the web from this Giver-Taker point of view it will help you with your customers. SEO people get this. The reality is, though, not a lot of people are in the market looking for brighter brights in clothes washing.  One of the guard rails in my Slideshare presentation on social media dos and don’ts is “Care about what your customers care about.”  If you understand your customers “taker” behaviors and have a brand plan (1 claim, 3 support planks), you can align your social giver content in more targeted, higher-value ways. 

So the keys are: Know what your custies care about. And have a brand plan that gives form, relevance and meaning to your sharing. Otherwise you are just pizzling in the ether. Peace.

El Sears.



The saying “go big or go home” is easy to use when you’re a consultant, coach or pundit, but it often has negative repercussions.  My “go big” recommendation made to hemorrhaging Sears Holding Company nearly two years ago was to become the nation’s first Spanish language store chain.  Easy for me to say, I’m not trying to keep this huge, venerable one-time national treasure alive.  But this store is taking a pasting. All the new inventory systems, cash registers and ad campaigns in the world aren’t going to turn this brigantine ship around.

Huge brick and mortar stores are buggy whipping. “If we take price off the table and make service our differentiator we should be okay,” say the c-level execs at most of the behemoths.  Well you can’t take price off the table when web commerce can undercut everyone for price…and convenience.

This suggestion is a huge move and a no-brainer.  Look at the demographics. I’m no economist, but becoming the first all-Spanish language (first) national chain, catering to 55M people (projected to be 128M by 2060) is more than viable, especially based when you look at the composition of employees and customers.  With new color palettes, cultural conveniences, food courts, and technology departments in densely populated Spanish/Latin zip codes, business will hockey stick. Roll in K-Mart, rename it El Sears or something, close a number of stores, and you will be profitable, albeit smaller, in a number of quarters. Como se darlings of business press?  Sears Holding Company, can you see beyond the dashboard?  Peace.  

The Loyalty Store.


One of the 24 Questions I use in my deep dive brand planning rigor is “How much company revenue comes from existing or repeat customers?” When I compare this figure with lost customer and new customer revenue I get a sense of a company’s loyalty, loss and business development focus.

If you look at marketing job boards today you will notice a great deal of acquisition activity.  The majority of marketers are absolutely smitten by new customers; it’s akin to generals in battle who need to take new territory. Loyalty marketers, on the other hand, know it is the back door, the door customers leave by, that is most critical. 


Loyalty is engendered when customers are not overlooked. Everyone knows a broken family where mommy or daddy found s new partner because back at home they felt underappreciated. This behavior not only breaks up families, it drives wedges between parents and children. Loyalty, love, under-appreciation and inquisitiveness are human traits. Marketers try to build love through the AIDA principle: Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action, often forgetting Loyalty until it’s too late. Until the back door has been open too long.

Coupons (sorry honey flowers), shallow thank yous, and automated responses do not loyalty make. Understanding yourself and your customers through a well-principled brand plan, is the place to start. Otherwise, it’s off to the loyalty store for some quick fix tactics.  Peace.