Welcome To Conversation Marketing

Noticed how your marketing gurus are all talking chatbots and messenger apps?

Well, that’s because in recent years there has been a drastic increase in the uptake of messaging apps. In fact, the usage of these apps and chatbots is actually outpacing that of social media networks. It is predicted that in 2017, the number of messaging app users will be around 2.10 billion. This is indicative of a new trend, as pointed out by Mark Schafer, the rise of the private network. Consumers are changing how they feel about public scrutiny. They’re becoming increasingly afraid of public record and are favoring privacy through apps like Facebook Messenger or Kik.

This is no longer a trend that digitally savvy marketers can ignore!

In 2016, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said,

“Chatbots are the new apps.” 

Chatbots are not new, or at least, the technology is not new. The Guardian, a UK-based newspaper, took a look at the history of Chatbots in September last year. The technology behind the bots dates back to mid-1960s. AI psychotherapist ELIZA was an early computer program created by scientists at MIT that processes natural language cues to simulate conversations. ELIZA was the first Chatbot! In the 1970s, ELIZA was joined by Parry who mimicked paranoid schizophrenia. Scientists did actually attempt a bot-to-bot conversation in 1972, between this two early chatbots. Parry quickly got lost down a rabbit hole of corrupt horse racing gambling.

1991 saw the birth of the chatbot Olympics with the annual Loebner price. The format of the competition is that of the Turing Test, where a human judge holds two conversations simultaneously, one with the computer program and another with a human via a computer. The judge must then attempt to distinguish between the two.

But marketers are not (yet) concerned with computers passing as humans. Instead, they are interested in the fake! Facebook Messenger, Kik, WeChat (to name but a few), are simulating human interaction, in an unashamedly false way.

Chatbots create real-time conversation, that mirrors chatting with a friend. Expectations are, from both consumers and businesses, extremely high. Consumers are favoring the instantaneous nature of these platforms. They can now get information about products, or questions answered immediately. Chris Messina, the Twitter hashtag inventor, wrote in his blog last year,

“2016 will be the year of conversational commerce … you and I will be talking to brands and companies over Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram, Slack, and elsewhere before year’s end, and will find it…2016 will be the year of conversational commerce … you and I will be talking to brands and companies over Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram, Slack, and elsewhere before year’s end, and will find it normal….I’m less interested in whether a conversational service is provided by a human, bot, or some combination thereof…”

Businesses are witnessing consumers engage more and more with chatbots. It enables companies to engage in real-time with their customers or potential customers. New technology like Cloud Computing has made it possible for chatbot integration. Artificial Intelligence has enabled companies to develop a better understanding of their consumers’ behaviors. With future improvements imminent, businesses will be able to use these apps to have an even deeper understanding, which will lead to smarter business decisions. In fact, one such technological development expected is speech recognition. These will further enhance these pivotal customer service tools. Kia used a chatbot for the release of its Super Bowl commercial this year. In fact, they won the coveted Super Bowl Ad Game with “Hero’s Journey” featuring comedienne Melissa McCarthy.

The huge uptake in messaging apps and chatbots has heralded a new era.

Welcome to the ‘Conversation Marketing’ era!

It’s now impossible to ignore this trend. Chatbots and messenger apps are changing the digital marketing field.

As a CMO, why should you invest in this technology?

Its 24/7

In this time of Amazon Prime 2-hour delivery, consumers want everything now, literally. Your consumer will get frustrated if they don’t get timely responses from you and your business. The banking industry suffered from failing to adapt to the consumer desire for service at the time they want it. Don’t make the same mistake.

You’re also way more likely to get engagement within Messenger apps or chatbots than say from your Facebook page. That’s because the communication is 1:1 and 24/7. You aren’t in competition with the hundreds of other marketers who are flooding your target’s newsfeed.

Unique data to create personalized campaigns

Possibly my favorite element of this new technology is the data you can extract. Can you tell I’m a marketer by trade? You can monitor your consumer, gather data and ultimately adapt your marketing to be highly personalized. Marketing has to be personal. The customer should be at the heart of all your content.

What’s also great is that as soon as you engage with someone, you then have the ability to push messages out to them. You can even set automation workflows, just as you would on email.


Chatbots can provide an all-inclusive ecosystem for shoppers. Users can ask questions, receive answers, and based on data you’ve collected, gather recommendations increasing their likelihood to buy additional products.

Self-perpetuating marketing

This technology markets itself. Leads to more word-of-mouth, social sharing, better customer experiences…need I say more?

You can actually create a chatbot in minutes with companies like ManyChat or ChatFuel so why not try it?



No Laptops…Just Our Brains And A Whiteboard

Screen Shot 2017-07-21 at 8.54.06 AM
Photos by Nick Peacock-Smith

Yesterday, we ventured out of the office to the local WeWork space for a brainstorming day.

The combine forces of the Marketing and Client Services teams sat down and tackled some of the challenges that have come up over the first half of this year. Not only that, but we looked at ways that we could add a little extra to our conferences for our attendees.

Focusing on three key areas, Content, Technology, and Luxury, with the space to think and no laptop distraction, we came up with some fantastic ideas to take our events to the next level.


  • Working with our sales team to help them feel more confident selling from the agenda. We’re planning several content deep-dives, where we explore the latest technology and digital business strategies.
  • We’re also going to trial some new content formats, that we believe will offer unique opportunities for our attendees to get to actually test out new technology.


  • Ideas to get the most out of our onsite technology, including our event app.


  • We asked ourselves how we can better work with our hotel partners to deliver a more luxurious experience for our delegates. Morning Yoga? Spa treatments? Champagne After Hours Party?

We also spent the time walking in our customer’s shoes, which is the only way to identify their needs.

Taking the time to get out of the office gave us the space we needed to work on how to take our events to the next level.

We’re so excited to put the ideas into practice!


[INTERVIEW] How to Break Yourself to Make Yourself with Sarah Robb O’Hagan, CEO, Flywheel Sports

And it’s finally here! My interview with Sarah Robb O’Hagan, CEO, Flywheel Sports is finally edited and ready to share.

It was truly a pleasure to sit down with Sarah at our event Digital Retail Transformation Assembly.

What was really poignant about our discussion (as a twenty-something), was the advise she would give herself if she was 27 now…

“Chill out a Bit!”

There’s intense pressure to be perfect. Perfection is not actually possible.

Taking each opportunity as it comes your way is the answer.

Hope you enjoy!



An Evening at the Marketing Hall of Fame

Last night I headed out to the Marketing Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, organized by the New York American Marketing Association.

Was a great night. The 2017 inductees were

  • Gary Briggs, vice president, chief marketing officer, Facebook
  • Jon Iwata, senior vice president, marketing and communications, IBM
  • Jim Stengel, former global marketing officer, Procter & Gamble and president/CEO, The Jim Stengel Company
  • Jerry Wind, PhD, Professor of Marketing, The Wharton School

Full bios at the end of the post.

All the four inductees offered the audience interesting insight into their careers, where they see marketing heading, and their leadership styles.

Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 10.43.50 AM
Jim Stengel – Marketing Hall of Fame inductee

Several themes stood out to me during their acceptance speeches.

  1. Technology and Leadership – Marketing has evolved faster than any other industry or business function out there. Being able to keep on top of the latest technology is an imperative for all marketing leaders. It’s no longer enough to hire Millennials with technology skills, leaders need to understand how these new tools could impact growth, thus making smarter decisions. Jim Stengel actually touches upon this in his new book Unleashing the Innovators: How Mature Companies find New Life with Startups. In it he discusses how legacy companies have partnered or acquired startups to infuse technology and innovation into their businesses. WalMart’s acquisition of Jet.com and subsequent hiring of Marc Lore as CTO is a key example.
  2. Authenticity – Marketing has to be personalized. Brands need to tell an authentic story that engages with consumers. It’s too easy to spot bullshitters in this digital age.
  3. Fostering environments for Growth – it was humbling to see that all 4 inductees see their greatest achievements as having been encouraging others in the field to reach their potential. Each noted that by fostering an environment at work that opened up conversations around new ideas, offered a safe space to experiment and fail, had the greatest impact to the team’s overall successes.

2017 Marketing Hall of Fame inductee bios:

Gary Briggs, vice president, chief marketing officer, Facebook
Gary Briggs joined Facebook in 2013 and is responsible for the company’s consumer, product and platform marketing. Prior to joining Facebook, he served in various roles at Google, Inc, including CMO of Motorola upon its acquisition by Google, and VP, Consumer Marketing.

During his tenure at Google, he led marketing efforts for search, commerce, Chrome, Google+, Google.org, and the Google brand overall. Prior to joining Google in 2010, Gary was CEO at Plastic Jungle, a gift card startup, where he joined their board of directors. Before that, Gary worked at eBay for six years in roles as vice president of Consumer Marketing, general manager of eBay Canada, global marketing head of PayPal, and CMO of eBay North America.

Earlier in his career, Gary worked for six years at Pepsi, where he launched Aquafina, Pepsi’s joint venture with Starbucks and was director of Brand Pepsi. He also spent two years at IBM running worldwide brand strategy and was an engagement manager at McKinsey & Company.

He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1984 from Brown University and a Masters in Management in 1989 from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University.

Jon Iwata, senior vice president, marketing and communications, IBM
Jon Iwata leads IBM’s marketing, communications and citizenship organization. His global team is responsible for the marketing of IBM’s product and services portfolio in more than 170 countries, market intelligence, communications, and stewardship of the IBM brand, recognized as one of the most valuable in the world.

Jon is the architect of IBM’s strategic brand platforms, including e-business, Smarter Planet, and Watson. He is recognized for innovation – from creating Think Academy, a mobile and cloud-delivered online university serving more than 375,000 IBMers, to the application of cognitive technologies in marketing and communications. He reports to IBM Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Ginni Rometty, serves as chairman of the IBM Values and Policy Advisory Board and is vice chairman of the IBM International Foundation.

Jon joined IBM in 1984 at the company’s Almaden Research Center in Silicon Valley. He was appointed vice president, corporate communications, in 1995 and senior vice president, communications, in 2002. He assumed his current role on July 1, 2008.

He is a trustee of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, a director of the Japan Society, director of the Association of National Advertisers and an advisory board member for the Yale Center for Customer Insights. He is past chairman of the Arthur W. Page Society, a professional group of Chief Communications Officers.

In 2015, Jon was inducted into the CMO Club Hall of Fame. That same year, he received the Distinguished Service Award from The Seminar, an organization consisting of Chief Communications Officers. He holds a B.A. from the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at San Jose State University. He is co-inventor of a U.S. patent for advanced semiconductor lithography technology.

Jim Stengel, president/CEO, The Jim Stengel Company, LLC
In October 2008, Jim Stengel shocked the marketing world by leaving his prestigious role as global marketing officer at Procter & Gamble, one of the world’s most admired brand-building companies. This bold move was Jim’s first step on a new mission to share his passion for growing business through a focus on higher ideals. To continue on his mission, Jim has embraced a variety of exciting roles: president/CEO of The Jim Stengel Company, LLC, a think tank and consultancy, author of Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World’s Greatest Companies and Unleashing the Innovators: How Mature Companies Find New Life with Startups, speaker with the Washington Speakers Bureau®, and advisor to several companies.

As the former global marketing officer of $76 billion Procter & Gamble, Jim oversaw an $8 billion advertising budget and had organizational responsibility for nearly 7,000 people. Highly regarded, his leadership was recognized in 2008 when P&G was honored as the 2008 Cannes International Advertising Festival Advertiser of the Year for the first time in company history. He is best known for reinvigorating the company’s marketing culture, personally leading the transformation that firmly established P&G as one of the most admired brand-building companies in the world. During his seven years in the role, P&G’s sales doubled.

Prior to his promotion to P&G’s top advertising and marketing position in 2001, Jim had P&L responsibility for the company’s European baby care business. Previously, Jim held positions of increasing responsibility in P&G’s developing markets, Cosmetic, and Food businesses. He joined the company in 1983, and before that spent four years at Time Incorporated in the Time Life Books division.

Jim is widely known for leading innovation and for his commitment to building leading-edge marketing capabilities. He was recognized four times by Advertising Age as the number one “Power Player” in marketing. In 2005, he was recognized as Grand Marketer of the Year by Brandweek magazine, the same year P&G was named Marketer of the Year by Advertising Age. Jim was named to the first-ever Fortune Executive Dream Team in 2011. He has also served as Dean of the Young Marketers Academy at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity since 2011, where he pioneered the CMO Accelerator program in 2013 and continues to serve as Dean.

Jerry Wind, Ph.D., Lauder Professor, Academic Director, The Wharton Fellows Program Director, SEI Center for Advanced Studies in Management, Professor of Marketing, The Wharton School
Jerry Wind, Ph.D. is internationally known for pioneering research on organizational buying behavior, market segmentation, conjoint analysis and marketing-driven business strategy. He consults with major firms around the world, provides expert testimony in intellectual property and antitrust cases, and has lectured in over 50 universities worldwide.

He is the founding Director of the Wharton SEI Center for Advanced Studies in Management (seicenter.wharton.upenn.edu) and the Wharton Future of Advertising Program (wfoa.wharton.upenn.edu). He is the founder of the Wharton Fellows program (whartonfellows.com) – a global network of CEOs and senior executives who are committed to lifelong learning focused on transformational leadership – and the co-founder of the Wharton-QS Reimagine Education program (reimagine-education.com).

Joining Wharton in 1967, Professor Wind led the creation of the Wharton Executive MBA Program, the reinvention of the Wharton MBA curriculum and development of the Wharton globalization strategy. He was founding director of the Joseph H. Lauder Institute, the Wharton International Forum, founding editor of the Wharton School Publishing, cofounded the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya and is the Chair of its Academic Council.

Professor Wind has edited top marketing journals and published over 300 articles, chapters and papers, and 25 books. He received the four major marketing awards: Buck Weaver, Charles Parlin, Converse, and AMA/Irwin Distinguished Educator Award, and was one of the nine original Legends in Marketing. He is the former Chancellor of the International Academy of Management (IAM), former academic trustee of the Marketing Science Institute and former chairman of the College of Marketing of the Institute of Management Science. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Marketing Accountability Standards Board and a member of the boards of a number of Wharton’s centers, including the Lauder Institute and Knowledge@Wharton.

He is a trustee of The Philadelphia Museum of Art and chairman of its marketing committee and an active advisor to a number of arts and culture organizations. He is a member of the executive committee of SEI and sits on the advisory boards of a number of companies including the Fung Retailing Group, DreamTime Vision and other start-ups.


A New Waze to Get in Front of Your Customer

Over the weekend, I headed upstate to Hunter Mountain in the Catskills, NY to escape the city for the weekend.

As we settled into the hire car and plugged in our phones, we downloaded Waze to get the fastest route to our destination.

Waze is the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app, that leverages crowd-sourcing to providing real-time traffic and road info. That’s not all. It is also a fantastic example of how thinking digitally can open up new marketing roads.

“As traditional and digital media become more and more synonymous, Waze brings to McDonald’s the ability to marry intelligent data and targeting to what would otherwise be broad reaching OOH. The learnings we’ve captured for our client have provided deeper insight into creative, daytime, geo, and consumer behavioral performance.” – LIZ WOOD, Media Supervisor, McDonald’s Northern California, H&L Partners

Staying ahead of the latest marketing technology is not easy. As consumers move away from traditional platforms, we are increasingly pressured to find the next best way to engage with our target markets.

How Waze became the World’s Largest Community-Based Traffic App

Ever sat in a traffic jam and thought ‘there must be a better way’? In 2006, a community project founded and developed by Ehud Shabtai called “FreeMap Israel” worked to provide an answer to that very question. The project aimed to leverage crowd-sourcing to create a community of users, that would work together to provide up-to-date traffic and road information.

The success of the project and potential commercial application led to the creation of Waze in 2008, later rebranded to Waze Mobile Ltd in 2009.

Waze answered a growing consumer need that traditional GPS navigation software failed to respond to. Similarly to traditional software, Waze learns from its’ users’ driving times to provide real-time traffic updates. What makes it more efficient, is that users can report accidents, traffic jams, speed and police traps, and from the online map editor, can update roads, landmarks, house numbers, etc. providing users intelligence to speed up their journeys. By January 2012, Waze had expanded globally and boasted 12 million downloads worldwide. In just one year, Waze reached 50 million users and became one of the most successful apps of all time, winning Best Overall App award at the 2013 Mobile World Congress.

In 2013, the app was purchased by Google for $1.3 billion and from there has continued to grow. This acquisition enabled the app to leverage social data to provide more value to the user.

Waze as a Marketing Tool

CMOs are having to think innovative. Choosing the smartest tactic to stand out from the competition is not easy.

Google’s acquisition of Waze has opened the door for marketers to engage with this pre-built community.

How does it work?

Waze Ad ExampleThere are several ways to leverage the Waze platform.

Branded Pin – Using location-based data, brands can now choose to place their digital billboard informing Waze users that their business is on or nearby. By tapping the pin, users open up the creative and are provided with more information about the business, including how far away it is. They can then opt to reroute their journey. One more tap and Waze provides directions.

Zero-Speed Takeover – This option is designed for brands to get their creative in front of Waze users when their attention is at the highest.

Nearby Arrow – Great for local businesses looking to attract more walk-in traffic. Again tapping the arrow displays your creative. Another tap and the user is one their way!

Promoted Search – Get your brand image to the top of a search. We all love being top of a Google search.

Essentially Waze has disrupted the traditional ideas of signposts and billboards into something new, that is user-friendly, targeted, mobile-friendly, and track-able. By leveraging their existing expertise, Google has created another ad platform.

Targeting & Reporting

Waze’s power as a marketing tool is driven by its targeting and reporting capabilities. Marketers are given the power to target their consumer by who’s driving, operating system, place type, weather, traffic type, route length, time of day and more.

Marketers are also provided a wealth of powerful data. From average ‘distance driven from ads’ to ‘driver loyalty’ statistics, this platform is providing unique consumer insight.

The success stories are numerous and can be found on the Waze website. Here a links to a few that stood out to me:

In this digital world, staying on top of the latest technology and choosing smart marketing avenues is front of mind for all CMOs. Whether you’re looking to build brand awareness or drive traffic to your store, Waze is a platform you should consider.


Marketer in New York heads to Nashville – the home of country music, and venue of Digital Retail Transformation Assembly

Had a lovely week hanging out in the home of country music, Nashville for the Digital Retail Transformation Assembly.

As my first event for my new company, I was super excited to see what our products look like in real life.

It was fantastic!

IMG_0835I had the chance to also sit down with a marketing hero of mine, Sarah Robb O’Hagan, who has just written a book EXTREMEYOU.

Once the video is edited, I’ll share! 😉

But what was also great was the conversations that delegates were having. There were 7 key trends that the marketers in the room were keen to discuss.

Here’s a rundown:


As the digital retail landscape continues to grow, it is important not to forget the in-store experience for the consumer. Connecting the digital experience into the physical space, by bridging the physical and digital divide. In other words, the Phygital is now an imperative for many retailers.

Retailers are searching for innovative technologies to bridge the digital and physical worlds. There are many new companies out there looking to help retailers merged their digital and physical realms into one.

Leading retailers have invested heavily in physical locations. But today, every business must also invest in delivering a rich online experience.

Today’s consumers are more tech-savvy than ever. They don’t just delight in seamless omnichannel commerce, they expect it. Some enterprise-sized brands forget that shoppers are humans, not just segments. Not only do retailers need to merge the digital and physical, they also need to think human. Companies that succeed in marketing to the individual will thrive, those that don’t are destined to fail.

It can be difficult for large companies to shift quickly. Nobody does it well, and consumers don’t care about your legacy platforms or IT roadmaps. They care about personalized experiences and getting access to the most relevant digital content. Potential customers interact with a brand on multiple channels.


PlaceIQ at Digital Retail Transformation AssemblyWe are “data-reach but knowledge-poor” (Sarah Robb O’Hagan).

The explosion of digital has enabled businesses to gather an extraordinary amount of data. What’s missing is the knowledge on how to use it. Retailers consistently adopt the latest technology but do not take the time to investigate how it adds value for the consumer.

Take location data for example. Mobile means more of today’s brands are empowered to gather in-depth insight into the true customer journey. Innovative brands are embracing location data.

Our sponsor PlaceIQ led an extremely popular workshop during the Digital Retail Transformation Assembly, They were key to emphasize the power of this data if used right. Location data has helped brands to make holistic marketing decisions, which have led to creative marketing plans built on customer behavior.


Storytelling is a huge trend, not only in retail but in marketing across industries. New digital channels have not only provided an unprecedented amount of customer insight but also present a unique opportunity to personalize experiences.

What is vital to remember is that brand purpose is still as relevant as ever, especially when you consider the consumer desire for authenticity.

“The “four P’s” have changed significantly. Not Product, life solutions. Not Price, time/knowledge (privacy could become currency too) have emerged as alternate perhaps more valuable currency. Not Place, but context (access/immediacy), not Promotion, but storytelling/co-creation/trust-building. And the 5th P for People is now personalization.” (Russ Klein)

Understanding and delivering content that really connects with the consumer is critical to marketing strategy. Storytelling is more relevant than ever. There is no debate on who owns a story, only on who has adapted their business in a way that delivers truly integrated and effective real-time experiences. Clients who want this level of integration and simplicity, look to brands who are using data to understand what content they want and deliver authentic stories to engage with.

Unified Brand

Delivering unified brand experiences is heavily linked to the previous trend, Phygital.

Marketers must deliver a unified brand message across multiple channels, including in-store. With digital tools, it is possible to change and deliver messages directly, in a quick way.

At Digital Retail Transformation Assembly, the unified brand session leaders emphasized the importance of authenticity.

Marketing according to the dictionary definition, isn’t authentic. Brands try to position themselves in the best light, omitting the negative and do everything they can to woo consumers. In this age of unprecedented consumer empowerment, where the reality of products and services is just a Google search away.

In today’s marketing landscape, consumers trap brands who fail to be authentic, or as is often the case, fail to unify their brand message.


IMG_0806The definition of mobile is changing, expanding past the apps you have on your phones or tablets. Mobile is about the user, and understanding how their physical environment and digital technology interact.

Leading businesses are getting closer to their end-user by leveraging technology to create contextually relevant and more personalized experiences.


Social media is a vital tool for retailers. It can be used in multiple ways.

Firstly, it’s a listening tool. Social media’s greatest power is that it enables brands to listen, by monitoring their target customers and learning about what they are talking about.

Due to this listening aspect, social media also offers marketers the opportunity to collect in-depth data on their customers. This analysis can impact the direction of a company, ignite future growth, and help stay ahead of competitors.

Social media is a tool of engagement. It really is the first example of conversation marketing, which with chatbots and messaging apps, is becoming more important.


IMG_0794Influencer marketing has made a huge impact in retail.

Americans spend 1.8 hours per day on social networks, which is more time than on personal email and search engines combined. As a result, we’ve become a society whose purchase behavior is heavily influenced by those we choose to connect with online. We’re also a society suffering from ad fatigue, ad fraud, and ad blockers. When people get overwhelmed, they tend to revert back to the things they trust, like human relationships.

In the context of marketing, this gives influencer marketing a major advantage over other digital advertising methods. Following the best practices from leading consumer brands, learn how to harness the power of influence and content consumers trust.

Had an amazing time in Nashville! would highly recommend the city to anyone visiting the USA.

Can’t wait to go back!


The Marketing Unicorn – Myth or Reality?

A Unicorn, a mythical creature of legend, that is as rare as it is majestic, has ignited a craze recently that many a marketer is looking to leverage.

Take Starbucks for example, who last week launched their ‘Unicorn Frappuccino’, a brightly colored drink that changes color and taste as you drink it.

Starbucks announcement of the Unicorn Frappuccino on Twitter
Starbucks announcement of the Unicorn Frappuccino on Twitter

With all this talk of unicorns, it got me thinking about if the Marketing Unicorn exists.

Who is the Marketing Unicorn?

Marketing in recent years has become strategically vital to any company’s long-term success. It has also developed the reputation for being a creative, agile, and digital career choice. Whilst this is in part true, marketing is indeed a job for the creative and agile, the Marketing Unicorn knows not to limit the focus to the digital.

Instead, they limit their focus to the customer. The increasingly rare Marketing Unicorn sees the customer first and foremost, and understand that the customer does not always favor digital.

Customers use multiple channels, and yes absolutely, a large proportion of the most popular channels are digital. Whilst, it is foolish not to leverage digital marketing tools in this age of digital transformation, there is something worse – not using the tools that will spark the desired response from your customer. The most powerful examples of marketing can all be traced back to one common characteristic. They put the customer first.

In fact, marketing failures can also be traced back to the customer and failing to put them first. Take Pepsi, who recently found out how disastrous misreading customer sentiment can be with their television commercial featuring Kendall Jenner. Instead of inspiring of a message of unity, it provoked a huge, negative reaction on social media. Many accused the Pepsi of adopting the spirit and imagery of the anti-Trump resistance, Black Lives Matter, and other movements to sell soda.

How to recognize a Marketing Unicorn?

  1. The word Customer, not the word Digital, makes up 50% of their sentences.

It’s almost impossible to have a conversation with a marketer these days without them talking digital or social media. In fact, if you were to ask a marketer to explain what’s integral to their strategy in under 60 seconds, I guarantee you’ll hear digital or social media a minimum 5 times.

The Marketing Unicorn, however, would say customer 5 times. Their explanation would be littered with references to customer needs or experience. They talk of personalization, targeting, the value of customer feedback, and continually work to engage differently with their target markets.

Not to say that digital tools, like social media, are not extremely effective. But what is more effective, is choosing the tools that engage the customer directly, in a unique way. Successful examples of digital marketing do just that.

  1. Their Power comes from Data.

Mythical creatures often have a source of power. In the case of the Unicorn, the source is the single large, pointed, spiraling horn projecting from its forehead. For the Marketing Unicorn, this source is data.

Data is more abundant than ever. Marketers who use data to their advantage are more powerful. They come armed to meetings with statistics and have consumer insight that sounds almost fabricated in its specificity.

The Marketing Unicorn can also take this data to the next level, channeling their power to predict the future. This ability enables them to stay one step ahead of consumer trends. It also helps them assess marketing channels, and choose the MarTech that will enhance their efforts.

  1. The Supervillain of their Story is…

Dr. Buzzword! An evil force that focuses on the latest trend, not the customer. In other words, a business leader who thinks trend-first, trapping the Unicorn in a cage and preventing the formulation of a marketing strategy that thinks customer-first.

What to do if you find a Marketing Unicorn?

Don’t scare it away.

Don’t be Dr. Buzzword and trap this rare creature in a cage.

Nurture it.

Also posted on Business2Community >


A Visit to the Museum of City of New York

IMG_0463We found ourselves in Central Park this last weekend, after getting up early for a typical Saturday stroll. After a cookie the size of my face from Le Pain Quotidien, we decided to walk up Museum Mile and visit the Museum of City of New York.

This museum is one of the best in New York and on my recommendation list to anyone visiting the city.

One of the exhibitions that stood out to me was the recently opened Posters and Patriotism. As a marketer, I’ve been interested in the history of the business function. The marketing orientation or the marketing concept did not emerge until the 1950s, post World War Two. Walking through this particular exhibition, it became clear that what we now know as marketing, has actually played a vital role in how we communicate long before it became a recognized business practice.

Many marketing studies have found evidence of advertising, branding, packaging, and labelling tactics as early as the antiquity.

During the Middle Ages, market towns sprang up across Europe. Some historians have theorized that the term, ‘marketing,’ may actually have first been used in the context of market towns, to denote the process of buying and selling.

Marketing first appeared in dictionaries as early as the sixteenth century, where according to etymologists, the term referred to the process of buying and selling at a market. The more contemporary definition of ‘marketing’ as a process of moving goods from producer to consumer first appeared in 1897. It was this definition that was the first to emphasize sales and advertising.

WW1 Propaganda PosterThe Posters and Patriotism exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York focuses on the use of propaganda to essential “sell” the Great War (First World War) to the American people.

The Second World War is a case in point of the power of marketing. Hitler, a famed orator and propagandist, used marketing tactics to take his party from a small faction in 1919, to power in 1933. Using these tactics in the following years, he also swayed many to his extremist views.

Likewise, the US used propaganda to promote its own war effort; raising money for its troops, and encouraging those at home to do their duty and support those fighting abroad.

Propaganda is an interesting case, as it has both negative and positive connotations. If you think of modern marketing, branding is much the same. It can ignite negative, or preferably positive reactions in a target consumer.

The first reference to ‘modern marketing’ came in 1957 when Hollander and others debated the emergence of the marketing as a business function. From then on Marketing was defined as a planned, programmed professional practice that incorporated activities such as segmentation, product differentiation, positioning and marketing communications. ‘Marketing’ was no longer seen as a simple form of distribution and exchange.

Throughout history, be it a political movement or a theatre production, people have used marketing tools to communicate a message.



“Cloudsourcing” – Crowdsourcing Storm Stella

Like many New Yorkers affected by Storm Stella, I spent the day working from home with the weather playing constantly in the background. New York City missed out on the predicted 24 inches of snow, ending the day with only 7 inches of snowfall recorded in Central Park.

Beyond the images of inches of snow and winds pummeling the Nor’eastern states, something else stood out to me as a marketer of events.

Crowdsourcing the weather. A nickname proposal – “Cloudsourcing”?

(Not to be confused with cloudsourcing relating to cloud providers.)

This was especially noticeable in the New York, as the severity of the weather across the 5 boroughs varied. The storm veered north, so the deep snow missed most of Manhattan and Long Island looked more like a puddle than a winter wonderland.

Storm Stella
A man walks in Central Park as snow falls in New York City, on March 14, 2017. Andrew Kelly—Reuters

By encouraging viewers to share photos on numerous hashtags, meteorologists could provide a more accurate portrait of how the weather was impacting the different states, and the different boroughs.

Crowdsourcing on social media 

The emergence and popularity of social media opened many doors for marketers. One such door was the opportunity to crowdsource.

“Crowdsourcing is the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people.”Prescient Digital

3 ways crowdsourcing will aid your marketing efforts.

  1. Its customer-centric

Firstly, it puts your customer at the center of your campaign, gathering information directly from them. This helps ensure that you are communicating to your target about topics that matter, in a way that works for them.

People love to get involved and be given the opportunity to express their opinions.

“Letting your target audience get involved is like handing out the mic at a conference.”Jay Baer

  1. Its time-saving

How often has time impacted your marketing activities? Be honest.

Marketers everywhere often say that time is their number 1 challenge. There is never enough time in the day to do as much as we would like. So, imagine if your use crowdsourcing to alleviate some of the pressure. Not only does crowdsourcing provide you with a treasure trove of content to share, it also provides you with a diamond – data.

Using crowdsourcing effectively will provide you key insight into your target customer, which can then be used in customer personas to make smarter marketing decisions in the future.

  1. Its engaging

Crowdsourcing is by its nature engaging. You can directly and authentically engage with target and current customers. This level of engagement helps you as a marketer to encourage your target to invest in your company.

Over recent years, with the rise of consumer-led marketing the need for authenticity has become imperative. Consumers choose brands that they have engaged with, that they feel has delivered them an authentic, personalized experience.

How crowdsourcing changed the Super Bowl Ad Game

Let’s take a quick look at the history of Super Bowl commercials. For many a brand marketer, the Super Bowl is the pinnacle of the commercial game. Over its 51-year history, the sporting event has become as synonymous with the commercial competition as it has American football.

Each year, USA Today’s Ad Meter declares the winner of the on-screen competition. This year, KIA won the coveted title with its commercial staring actress and comedienne Melisa McCarthy.

Over the past 50 years, the way marketers leverage these expensive commercial slots has changed. Digital tools have changed the ad game, as marketers look to take their commercials cross-channel using interactive and social channels.

The gold standard of online campaigns is ‘going viral’. This has become the ultimate victory for any social media campaign. Doritos and Frito-Lay used crowdsourcing to achieve this with the “Crash the Super Bowl” contest, which ran for the last time last year.

Using crowdsourcing on social media, the chip makers used their fans to create their Super Bowl commercial. Chip lovers submitted their own ad creative, of which 5 finalists were selected. A judging panel chose the top 2, the ultimate winner being selected by Chip fans. In 2016, the winner of the $1 million grand prize was “Doritos Dogs” by Jacob Chase, which now has over 8 million YouTube views.

This is just one notable example of how crowdsourcing has impacted marketing. Doritos and Frito-Lay created a customer-centric campaign, that encourages their fans to engage with their brand directly. The company also saved their ad creative team time, by outsourcing the design of the commercial.


How Do You Know When Too Much Email is Too Much?

Email is not dead. Email is the core of every marketers’ digital strategy and will remain so for some time. Social Media has tried and failed to knock email off its pedestal.

“Three-quarters of companies agree that email offers “excellent” to “good” ROI.” (Econsultancy, 2016) (Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics)

When it comes to developing your email marketing strategy, there are several elements to consider.

  • How much data do you have?
  • Can you segment the data?
  • Why am I sending emails?
  • How many emails are you planning on sending?
  • How often should I send these emails?
  • What time zone are your recipients in?
  • Does my email system allow me to create mobile friendly emails?

Once you’ve starting experimenting, you’ll start to see significant return. Email is still the number marketing tool in terms of direct engagement and conversion.

We’ve all got frustrated at our inbox at one time or another.

As marketers, we crave information and often sign up for multiple email newsletters all offering to give us details on the latest marketing trends. Recently, two of influencers that I follow teamed up to promote one of their sales training courses.

Now, the idea of this co-promotion is sound. Leveraging off a fellow influencers’ network and getting their seal of approval is a great way of boosting your reach. Another great point to add is that the copy was brilliant. Almost convinced they’re best friends in real life!

However, one thing they didn’t manage well was the sending times of their emails. I would receive and email from one of them, and then within 30 minutes receive an email with the same subject matter from the other guy!

At first, this wasn’t too bad. Obviously, it’s a short-term promotion as there are clear deadlines detailed in the emails. Couple of emails here and there are not too bad.

Oh, how wrong I was.

This bombardment continues for what felt like weeks (3), culminating in an onslaught on my inbox in the early hours of the morning.

Had these emails been the only 6 emails I had received from them that day, I may not have noticed. But, this was only half.

How do you know when too much email is too much

An aggressive sales strategy often works. Telling a story in email also often works. These emails certainly had both.

When sending email, it’s vital to plan the sending. Sending emails at 2am on a Wednesday to a busy executive with an immediate deadline is most likely going to be ineffective. Unless they suffer from severe insomnia, or like to party.  I came in to the office and deleted them all without even reading them (after I took the screenshot of course!)

Considering that at no point had I opened or clicked any of these emails, it may have been smart to remove me from the campaign. Focus efforts on more engaged readers.

How do you know when too much email is too much?

From the outset. Think about your own relationship with your inbox. What email tactics irritate you? Which emails stand out to you?

Thinking like your customer is not a trick. It’s not even an art. It’s actually common sense.

The emails I received came from two seasoned marketing professionals, with tried and tested methods. But as their supposed target customer, these tactics were not appropriate to get me to engage with them, let alone buy their product.