Summer Blockbusters: They Don’t Always Disappoint

Been to the movies lately? Neither have I, but I do have a few summertime musts on my list:

Credit: Pixabay

Been to the movies lately? Neither have I, but I do have a few summertime musts on my list:

10. Disaster movie: It’s not current events in Washington, it’s what’s going on in the database — get it cleaned up. Here’s a perspective from Radius.

9. In work and life: Skip complaining about Millennials and Plurals, and consider today’s realities. One perspective from Canada.

8. Speaking of Plurals, they’re entering the market now, so get to know them (what, they skip advertising?!): https://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2016/02/forget-millennials-meet-plurals/

7. Transition the ads: There’s a wholly updated portfolio of digital ad specs and standards to take command of from Interactive Advertising Bureau: https://www.iab.com/newadportfolio/

6. Study up on GDPR and data-driven marketing — because we have to — via Evidon, TrustArc and even Aberdeen. Note the sequel: ePrivacy Regulation.

5. Wow, congratulations! What a lineup of Direct Marketing Club of New York Silver Apples 2017 honorees — from IAB, American Express, PCH, Bottom Line and more — I must get a ticket for November 16.

4. August in New York City? Oh, I’ll be judging ECHOs, while others in B2B solve the sales and marketing gap with data and content at LeadsCon Summit: Connect to Convert.

3. Yes, I do believe in “Wonder Women” — a summer highlight after all: http://www.dmnews.com/2017-marketing-hall-of-femme/topic/51589/

2. Get on it …You have exactly five days to get your blockbuster breakthrough entered in this year’s Innovation Awards.

1. Set you travel plans for October 8-10, NOLA. It’s not for Bourbon Street, but maybe some late-night jazz and all my data and marketing questions answered at Data & Marketing Association’s &Then.

Looks like I’ve got a busy month ahead, and not in a theater near you!

Nightmares, Ghosts and Terror in Data Land

When you come fresh from a large industry conference — such as DMA’s &Then16 — where you have lots of conversations and learn about lots of pain points, you’re highly motivated to put those winning ideas to work on solutions. Most of these solutions require access to data and handling it responsibly to make smarter marketing decisions — for the ultimate service to customers.

marketing Data graphicWhen you come fresh from a large industry conference — such as DMA’s &Then16 — where you have lots of conversations and learn about lots of pain points, you’re highly motivated to put those winning ideas to work on solutions. Most of these solutions require access to data and handling it responsibly to make smarter marketing decisions – for the ultimate service to customers.

Today, it’s Halloween, so here’s my own nightmare.

I wake up one morning and the entire world collectively lost its mind and governments have mandated a marketplace that’s totally (and only) opt-in for all types of marketing uses that are only helpful to consumers. There’s no more algorithms and no more “discovery.” All commerce must wait and wait and wait until a consumer asks for it. Particularly egregious online.

Marketing collectively goes dumb. Oh, I love pure branding, pure creative — but take data out of the equation, we’re truly back before the dawn of direct marketing. Not 20 years back. Not 50 years back. But 100 years back.

Entrepreneurship is destroyed. There’s no way to tap a niche market. Data is off limits. Everything is opt-in. Opt-in request here, opt-in request there. Think Europe and cookies — ask, ask, ask. Before long, we’re numb. And, except for big business, there’s no budget for blanketing the world with awareness advertising. (And why would even a big brand want to waste so much of its money?)

Websites get clunkier. You can’t even get past the home page without having to click on a permission (again, read Europe). All because some nanny-types who control policy decided consumers are stupid and have to be protected from being tempted to make purchases that generate sales, jobs, tax revenue — and, by the way, happy customers.

Everything becomes more expensive and, without the commercial availability of data, there’s a lot less of “everything.” Why? Because advertising and smart advertising (read, data), finances content, services and conveniences — gone, gone and gone. Nobody in regulatory land bothered to ask who was paying for the Internet. No one ever bothered to understand the economics of the Information Economy. No one ever understood that AdTech, MarTech and data-driven marketing had become one of the greatest of U.S. assets and exports, and Silicon Valley’s (Silicon Beach, Silicon Prairie, Silicon Alley, etc.) highest rewards.

The range and diversity of consumer marketplace choices disappear. Constantly asking for permission becomes deafening. Thus, data eventually wanes and is off limits. There’s no way to derive insights to build better products, no way to devise better services and no way to compete in a healthy, competitive marketplace with a better idea.

The Information Economy is maimed — only a concentrated few, behind huge walled gardens, get to “own” and use the data. We just inflicted upon ourselves the greatest harm. We gave up the golden chalice, handled with care, for a tin cup. Beggars all of us.

Less choice. Less informed. More expensive. And, the consumer is left poorest of all.

It’s Halloween morning. Somebody woke me up.

Business IS Personal, and Other Leadership Rules

“Business is one of the most human things in the world,” Simon Sinek said early on in his presentation during &THEN. He shared that when he hears someone say, “It’s not personal, it’s business” he just laughs to himself. No, no it’s not … business is personal. It’s human.

I have a new marketing crush. It’s Simon Sinek.

Simon SinekHe was the Monday morning inspirational keynote speaker during DMA’s &THEN event last week and I’m still running over in my head all the things he discussed in under an hour, a week later, because he gave us that much to chew on.

His wonderfully dynamic speaking skills aside, Simon was able to be upfront and frank with a hall full of marketers.

“Business is one of the most human things in the world,” he said early on in his presentation. Then he commented on that when he hears someone say, “It’s not personal, it’s business” he just laughs to himself. No, no it’s not … business is personal. It’s human.

business_personalAnd human is something we could all stand to do a little better, and a bit more often. Especially in leadership roles.

Simon spoke about how in this ever-connected world, technology shouldn’t replace human contact. Instead, it should bring humans together. And leaders need to take the charge.

Certificates Don’t Make a Leader

“[There’s an] incredible lack of leadership across the world today in every industry,” Simon said. It may seem harsh, but hang on before you brush off his point.

As humans, we like intensity because its easy to measure, and this is how leadership is often taught:

  1. Attend a leadership seminar
  2. Earn a certificate
  3. ”I’m a leader now!”

It’s the intensity we crave, but that’s not how it works. Consistency matters more than intensity. Good leaders are built over time, energy and actions.

Another point of his I really liked was that good leaders create an environment of vulnerability, which allows people to speak up and honestly ask for help and feel safe. If you know you can ask for help with a project and not fear a layoff or something else, employees will do so. This builds trust and stronger teams (trust me, THIS WORKS).

Put the Phone Down

We’re all saying this, but Simon both reinforced points and made some new ones.

When someone’s smartphone is out — whether in their hand, on a table or anywhere else visible — it makes the other person in the conversation feel less important. Why? Because at any moment it’s understood that a notification can go off, and attention gets transferred directly to the phone.

During a meeting, a smartphone on the table announces to all “you’re not important.” And yes, Simon let us all know that flipping the phone over in an attempt to be polite is still just as bad. And it’s true! How many meetings have you sat through with all the buzzing from phones being set to vibrate … or the phone with the ringer still on?

It’s distracting, but we all do it … and probably because a fair number of the people in leaderships roles are doing it. Not to be jerks, but because of this need to constantly be connected. Here, the tech gets in the way of the relationships.

Toward the end of his presentation, Simon said, “Whoever understands people the best wins.” “People” are our prospects, customers and even our fellow employees. Make it personal … because that’s just what good business is.

There will probably be a couple more blog posts in the future that will reference Simon’s presentation at &THEN 2016 … he gave me a lot to think about.

Listen to Tyler Oakley: Dare to Be You

During this year’s &THEN event in LA I got to see Tyler Oakley — one of my video inspirations — speak and explain the intimate connection viewers and vloggers can have, especially when the video maker makes regular lasting connections with their audience. But you don’t have to be a YouTube star to do this!

This past week I was in LA with some of the Target Marketing team for DMA’s &THEN conference and wow … it was a whirlwind 3 days.

Not-so-fresh off my red eye flight, I have several blog posts started and even more notes to shape up, but what I want to share with you this week is a realization I had during the Tuesday morning inspirational keynote featuring Beau Avril of Google Preferred, Dan Weinstein of Collective Digital Studio, and Tyler Oakley, Youtube personality, author, and activist.

When introducing Tyler, they showed this quick clip about #DaretoBeYou, which he launched in late 2015:

And that’s when it hit me:

Tyler Oakley Dare to be YouDuring the keynote, titled “The New Face of Creativity,” Tyler made an interesting point about YouTube videos and vloggers in general. He explained that the level of intimacy between viewers and the YouTubers/vloggers is heightened because it’s them watching on a screen, usually closer to the body than a TV or movie screen.

Tyler likened it to Facetiming, and explained how many viewers consider YouTube personalities to be like friends — they share personal stories and make connections.

But you don’t have to be a YouTube personality to do this.

Since launching Sass Marketing a little over a year ago and “What Were They Thinking?” less than five months ago, you’ve tuned in, watched and hopefully laughed at my antics. Or maybe shook your fist at your screen when I said something you didn’t agree with.

My favorite reaction, though, is when you take the time to leave a comment, write me an email or share a tweet telling me exactly what you think of this series.

Or in the case of this past week, came up to me during &THEN and simply said, “I love your videos.”

This reminds me that I made the right decision to be myself — loud, sassy with eyerolls to spare — or as Tyler says, “dare to be you.” Sass Marketing/What Were They Thinking isn’t just an act I put on … it’s me, and it’s more myself than some of the work I’ve done in the past, but that’s partly because I was still finding who I am in all of this.

I’m fortunate that I have this space in the marketing world to do this, the support from my colleagues and mostly importantly, you.

Tyler Oakley You Dare to Be YouI’ll continue to dare to be me in order to delight you and make you laugh, but I need you to dare to be you. A world of people being their genuine, true selves is a world of beauty and limitless possibility.

 

Marketing in the In-Between of an AI Revolution

“To be good at the digital and physical is what the future’s about. … Get used to living in the in-between.” That was something Beth Comstock, vice chair of GE, said during her keynote at &THEN16. And it really got me thinking: Marketers are living in a whole lot of in-betweens. It’s not just the in-between of physical and digital. We’re also on the cusp of an AI revolution.

“To be good at the digital and physical is what the future’s about. … Get used to living in the in-between.”

That was something Beth Comstock, vice chair of GE, said during her keynote at &THEN16. And it really got me thinking: Marketers are living in a whole lot of in-betweens.

It’s not just the in-between of physical and digital. We’re also on the cusp of an AI revolution. A few weeks ago I was at Dreamforce where I saw this slide from Wired’s Kevin Kelly:

At that same show, Salesforce announced its Einstein cloud-based AI, which can do some pretty cool things. For example, Einstein can analyze a sales person’s email string and determine if it’s likely to convert. It may notice there’s no one with purchasing power at the appropriate level on it, and recommend the email for you to send and who to send it to to fix that.

Yes, Einstein will write the email for you too.

Meanwhile, at &THEN, Adobe just announced that they’re bringing aspects of their own AI-facilitated product, Adobe Analytics, more directly into its marketing tools. That includes adding the analysis workspace directly into Adobe Campaign, which will allow users to analyze customer segments and campaigns with real-time visualizations and AI insights.

Adobe is also adding predictive remarketing to its suite. Predictive remarketing will look at your website visitors, for instance, individually and identify ones who are less likely to return. It then automatically creates and deploys a remarketing trigger to try to re-engage that customer through email, SMS or other channels.

We’re essentially automating the automation. And as we begin to add a flood of passive data from the Internet of Things to that analysis, the automation is going to get very, very smart.

It’s all part of a revolution in what humans can accomplish with data and machines.

Kelly made an analogy: You could think of the Industrial Revolution as the introduction and mastery of artificial power — steam and electricity replacing human, animal or other forms of natural muscle. That power became controllable; it enabled many, many times the output of the old natural power; and it became cheap enough that we soon put electricity in every household.

He said that’s exactly what we’re about to see in the revolution of artificial intelligence. Hence the next 10,000 startups.

The AI Revolution Will Not be TelevisedWe’re collectively and spontaneously reorganizing our culture around digital information structures, according to Comstock. I think the acceleration of machine learning tools is a testament to that.

The fact it’s happening here in marketing pretty early in the lifecycle of true AI is testament to another thing she said: “Marketers are behaviorists, we recognize and anticipate change.”

And the role of shaping, communicating, and promoting (or discouraging) that change also lies in the hands of marketers. “Communications is where change happens,” Comstock said. “Communications is how you structure a culture.”

Turns out it’s also how you structure a machine culture. And perhaps how a machine culture will continue to restructure us.

So we are all very much navigating the in-between: Of physical and digital customer interactions, of human and machine intelligence, of a revolution that will not be televised because it’s already streaming live on a dozen social networks to audiences carefully chosen by algorithms to be most likely to engage.

Get used to it.

Amid ‘Data Marketers’ in L.A.

Will I be counting the stars on the Hollywood Boulevard or all the data geeks and data lovers inside the Los Angeles Convention Center this week? The latter, of course. Everything about &Then16 in Los Angeles this week is seemingly about what’s next … and I mean that.

insight into content marketingWill I be counting the stars on the Hollywood Boulevard – or all the data geeks and data lovers inside the Los Angeles Convention Center this week? The latter, of course.

Everything about &Then16 (that’s #andTHEN16 to Tweeters) in Los Angeles this week is seemingly about what’s next … and I mean that. I went to my first DMA show – well, let’s just say a while ago — and even from a few years ago, I can hardly believe the transformation.

I don’t mean only the name of the conference, or its rich, on-the-cusp programming. I mean literally everything about the profession, as if we have accepted the full heritage of what direct marketing teaches us, but we are immersed fully in a new data-enriched ecosystem. The variety, velocity and variability of Big Data – handled with care — is available and in service to make small data (contact information) more important than ever, in how we unify the data points to create more relevant content and messages.

It’s hard to (still) call this “direct marketing.” In so many ways, we’ve taken those invaluable DM practices and principles, and have re-interpreted them for a new age. We have become data marketers and we need to be accountable communicators as data proliferates. DMN is saying as much. DMA is well on its way.

In its latest white paper in partnership with the DMA and Interactive Advertising Bureau, The Data-Centric Organization: Transforming for the Next Generation of Audience Marketing (September 2016), the Winterberry Group reports these six takeaways:

  • “Though strategies to promote data-centricity are in full force – and will continue to represent a dominant priority among marketing and media organizations over the coming year – few organizations have yet to achieve meaningful results from their efforts at data-centered business transformation.”
  • “Though marketing and media organizations are looking to engage audience data to support a wide array of use cases, the hierarchy of those applications is shifting.”
  • “Data users and their supply chain partners agree: few organizations have either the depth or breadth of talent they need to derive full value from their data-driven initiatives, particularly when it comes to leveraging analytics as a driver of audience insights.”
  • “Standing in the way of business transformation: organizational silos and other internal process issues that hinder data access and sharing.”
  • “As they look to significantly ramp up their investments in technology, data and service-driven solutions over the next several years, data users are looking for their third-party partners to elevate their support for the strategic functions underlying such investments — calling for a renewed focus on business case development, technology assessment and holistic system alignment as elements of a comprehensive approach to ‘data-centricity.'”
  • “Going forward, data users are also likely to look to their supply chain partners to play a more active role in supporting their day-to-day marketing and media objectives – in particular, by helping leverage analytics to deliver strategic and campaign-level insights.”

Is this a business rationale for the next year or the next couple of decades? Seems to me that we now know why thousands of marketing practitioners are gathering in Los Angeles this week.

A Hard Call for a Softer Side to Advertising

Social sustainability can be a key differentiator and motivator in our sharing economy. In consumer markets, TOMS built its message upon redefining “Buy One-Get One” as “Buy One-Give One” – and 35 million children around the world (and counting) – and by giving its customers a mission.

Build an emotional connection to your brand.

Change the world, one pair of shoes at a time.

Every individual has an opportunity through education.

We are not data, we are human beings.

One primary take-away from &Then 2015, a DMA event, last week in Boston is that effective advertising today is most certainly about strategy, creativity and results – all over this year’s International ECHO Awards. But let’s add another key ingredient: Social sustainability can be a key differentiator and motivator in our sharing economy.

I’m not talking about some modicum of a social responsibility tie-in … “Buy our product and we’ll plant a tree.”

But rather that, in an economy filled with attention deficit, good advertising, effective advertising, must make us pause and consider. The table stakes for engagement happen when we trust and connect to emotions in ourselves.

In consumer markets, TOMS built its message upon redefining “Buy One-Get One” as “Buy One-Give One” – and 35 million children around the world (and counting) – and by giving its customers a mission. While TOMS has moved its social responsibility mission beyond shoes to eyewear, water and other projects, I choose TOMS precisely because of its giving back along with its very comfortable shoes.

Singer John Legend has his handlers, most certainly, but when you heard his call to action for education reform, justice reform and minority business leadership – therein lays substance and authenticity behind his own storytelling in music. He may not sing about those subjects, but his celebrity is leveraged strictly for those causes that motivate him to act, that have defined his life, in how he was raised and how he sees the world as it is and what it can be through positive change.

Even look at this year’s winning crop of ECHOs. Many campaigns used emotion to tell compelling stories — with breath-taking results. Skoda’s Guardians of Winter, Uniforms for the Dedicated’s Rag Bag, Huggies and Volkswagen’s Eyes on the Road are just a few examples of campaigns that took individuals on an emotional journey of one sort or another – and made you think twice. You literally spend a moment walking life in someone else’s shoes, and realize it could be your own.

Suffice to say, these motivators are hardly new to advertising, it’s just great to see them in employed in data-driven campaigns and breaking through cacophony. What is new is that, as brands seek to connect with target audiences, truly making the world a better place to be is more meaningful today than ever.