Why You Need a Customer Experience Officer

RCMP smiles
Image by Eyesplash

Greg Verdino turned me on to a fantastic article about the rise of the Customer Experience Officer. The article rightly discusses the real trend of branding today — the comprehensive user experience.

By focusing on the comprehensive user experience, research shows brands strengthen return on investment (ROI).

Continue reading

2012 Trend Spotting: Social TV

(Image by Read/Write/Web, based on research from Yahoo!)

The rise of social TV creates dynamic implications across media type. Viewers are commenting about or engaging with other viewers of TV programs real time via their smartphones, tablets and laptops. This unprecedented integration of diverse broadcast and social media types changes programming, advertising and equipmemt.

In essence, social media and instant messaging forms a massive TV back channel, empowering people to talk about a program as it airs. Programmers see this as an opportunity to engage the audience on the back channel with value added content and live interaction. As a result, engagement has increased.

Last Spring HBO had Howard Stern on Twitter while airing his movie, Private Parts. The effort caused a huge viewing spike for HBO. Talk and reality programs like The Voice and Conan O’Brien are integrating social commentary and feedback into their programming.

Twitter has embraced its role as a social TV back channel. It has created an agreement with the X Factor to create voting features to drive the program’s outcome. Further, Twitter is actively seeking to additional TV programming relationships.

Apps, Ads and Gear

Applications like GetGlue are letting viewers check into shows, and comment as they run. Updates can be broadcasted onto Twitter and Facebook, extending a program’s viewership. On the content creator side, Trendrr is helping programmers and advertisers better understand how stakeholders are using these diverse media.

At the basis of the social TV shift is a transition from passive audiences to engaged, interacting stakeholders, but in addition they are engaged in other non-related content. In essence, when the ads are on, the viewer is gone.

This means that advertisers will be further challenged to evolve their content beyond the 30 second spot. They, too, may be forced to create value added interactive content, similar to some of the Super Bowl ads developed over recent years. This will increase the quantity of high quality branded content developed for social channels.

In the 1997, speculators debated wether a PCTV was possible at the Consumer Electronics Show. Fourteen years, later that vision is coming true. Equipment manufacturers are racing to integrate social elements into their TV equipment, and TV into their computing devices (small and large). Perhaps the most anticipated development here is the possible unveiling of Apple iTV.

Implications

Clearly, more programmers will engage in social TV programming in 2012. Viewership is going down, generally, and social increases real-time engagement. But there is a saturation point that has not been achieved yet. Sooner or later, adding social interaction into a program will no longer be novel, and can’t guarantee a spike.

At the same time, programming that doesn’t offer some sort of back channel value add will risk those who have been accustomed to second screen engagement. According to Yahoo! 86% of smartphone users engage on their phones while watching TV, and recent statistics show smartphone use in the U.S. has surpassed 40%. This is a strong minority of TV viewers.

It also means the continued commercialization of the social web will increase. As media companies seek to harness and own the conversations about their shows, casual peer-to-peer engagement will become less natural. And this may cause conversations about non branded content to become more private as conversationalists seek less noise.

What do you think of social TV? How will it change media?

The Super Hero Myth

Marlboro man

We like to believe that one person can save the world, win a project, and deliver the lights out performance that will change everything. No culture believes in super heroes quite like America does, and that includes our marketing.

Just consider the strong man image of the Marlboro Man. Heck, even the Old Spice guy is a play off this dream of one super hero.

The post-mortem deification of Steve Jobs over the past 10 days can be considered in this light. We know more than one person created all of these Apple products, software, marketing, store and web materials.

When it comes to creative we see the same phenomena. David Ogilvy is considered a God amongst advertisers. Many people in his agency (while he was alive) adhered to his methodologies. They also exercised their own creative license in writing and designing legendary ads.

Online, we see the same thing with bloggers. We idealize them as great voices and sages. Yet, many don’t have public accomplishments. Or when they do, we fail to see the critical role players that help make them a success.

Really this super hero/pedestal concept applies to all aspects of our culture.

Consider last Friday’s Give to the Max Day training event, which by almost every single account was a smashing success. Some people have offered props to me as the general manager for Give to the Max Day: Greater Washington, and organizer and point person on the training conference. The reality is much different, considering all of the critical players who executed almost perfectly:

  • AARP’s Tammy Gordon and Beth Carpenter lent us their facility, including its fantastic live streaming and wifi capabilities. They also supported directly not he AARP Facebook page and the Create the Good Twitter handle.
  • Razoo’s community manager Ifdy Perez did a fantastic job on Twitter, and also cultivating blogger attendance.
  • Razoo’s Shai Chu handled all of the logistics for the event, and it came off seamlessly.
  • The nonprofit attendees and their excitement to learn and participate was critical to making the day productive
  • The speakers — including Beth Kanter, GiveMn.org‘s Dana Nelson, Razoo’s Justin Wredberg, NWF’s Danielle Brigida, Care2’s Clinton O’Brien, Atlas Corps’s Abby Flottemesch, and ACTion Alexandria’s Tracy Viselli — all did a bang up job.
  • Two speakers — Katya Andresen and Jocelyn Harmon — came from Network for Good, which is the underlying backbone behind Causes and Crowdrise, two Razoo competitors. They came in a spirit of industry cooperation and in support of our mutual hometown’s nonprofit community. Special hat tip to Network for Good.
  • Gary Vaynerchuk took time to provide a video to attending nonprofits
  • The Razoo Foundation underwrote the whole thing. Give to the Max Day parters United Way of the National Capital Area and the Community Foundation of the National Capital Region promoted the event.
  • Last May then interim Razoo CEO, now CTO Brian Fujito had the idea for Give to the Max Day: Greater Washington, without which none of this would be occurring.
  • Many Razoo executives and staffers touched this event, including Lesley Mansford, Alison Risso, Bo Lotinsky, Claire Moore, Matt Camp, Heather Pringle, Jacques Villareal, Bryce Melvin, and on and on.
  • Beth Kanter deserves a second credit, simply for teaching me how important capacity development is to nonprofits, who can have all the tools in the world, and could not execute, simply for not having the resources, training and talent to succeed. This training event, in fact the whole design of Give to the Max Day: Greater Washington, is infused with this knowledge.

You can see that many, many people came together to form the recipe of success for Friday’s training event (please excuse any forgotten mentions). That’s the truth behind most successes. One person rarely is the sole generator of great efforts.

What About Those Super Powers?

My favorite super hero is Batman. He is always able to succeed with determination and skills in the face of his own tragic flaws. He does so with the help of friends, and no true super powers. Sheer moxy (or craziness), help from others, technology and training power Batman to success.

We all wish we had super powers. We wish we could change the world by flying through the air and laser eye vision or the like. That’s why we admire the super acts of individuals, placing them on pedestals.

All of us excel in certain areas. While all humans are equal in rights and random chance, we are not all equal in skills. Some of us are very talented in areas. However, invariably these skills are certainly offset by character flaws.

This is not to say that the strengths aren’t noteworthy. They are. Albert Einstein was brilliantly thoughtful and analytical. It doesn’t mean you’d want to hang out with him at a baseball game. Such are weaknesses. Understanding one’s strengths AND weaknesses, and how others round out a total effort is the art of management.

All stars have weaknesses. And even if they claim not to, one person eventually hits a limit to scaling. That’s why we need others: To counter weaknesses and collectively achieve what one person alone cannot.

The Myth Lives On

Barack obama yes we can

“In life, there are teams called Smith, and teams called ‘Grabowski’….We’re Grabowskis!” Mike Ditka

Great quote for a team with no ultimate star, the 1985 Chicago Bears. Yet, we don’t love Grabowskis. We love super men (and women), icons who can supposedly change the world.

The hope that we, too, could be super one day touches an inner desire to be special. That’s why pedestals are built, and marketing images contrived. Because deep down inside we want to believe that we can conquer all.

So we celebrate those that appear to do so, in all aspects of our culture.

Yet, in reality, we know that it was many, it was the whole group that did it together. Even the stars need their Grabowskis to succeed. Just don’t shout it out too loud.

What do you think of the American super hero myth?

Steve Jobs, Marketing Genius

Steve Jobs Eulogized on the Apple Website

Now it really is time to eulogize Steve Jobs. Perhaps the best thing to say is thank you for all the great innovation he brought to this world.

There are so many things to be said about the great technological innovation he brought to the world during his tenures at Apple and Pixar. From my first personal computer, an Apple 2e, to the MacBook Pro this post is being written on, Jobs has had direct and consistent impact on the way I have viewed and consumed information for the better part of three decades. In entertainment and in work, Apple has been and continues to be a part of life.

There are so many things to say about Jobs and his companies, most notably Apple. Many people will be sharing those insights for the next few days in his memory.

The one thing to add beyond technological and business insights is respect for the incredible marketing machine Jobs built. From packaging and storefront design to masterful multichannel product launches and tense excitement by tightly managed PR, Apple demonstrated best practices in many areas of marketing.

Until Steve Jobs retired, the marketplace was always poised for the maverick tech titan to lead an on-stage unveiling event, packed with journalists, bloggers, and industry insiders. The company even avoided (and still avoids) major announcement fests such as the annual Consumer Electronics Show, instead preferring to orchestrate its own Apple events weeks apart from known industry events. Companies like Facebook and Amazon now ape this technique with some success, but it’s still not as exciting as an Apple announcement.

Launch events are complimented by traditional outdoor, print and broadcast advertising buys, in-store signage and displays, and of course, beautiful, recognizable packaging. The Apple website is tuned to announcements, turning over on launch day with in-depth web pages and videos explaining new products. Emails are sent to customers on launch day, encouraging them to buy.

These ads and direct marketing outreaches are as orchestrated as the company’s public relations efforts. In fact, they create a seamless multi-channel, multi-touch approach that demonstrates one of the very best integrated and repeatable marketing formulas the world has seen.

Yes, the products walk the talk. But many, many times, including Jobs’s first tenure as CEO of Apple, best technology is often not the most popular technology. Clearly, Jobs mastered marketing as time progressed.

What will you remember most about Steve Jobs? Also, Apple is receiving notes and thoughts about Steve Jobs via email, rememberingsteve [at] apple.com.

Steve Jobs Breaks the No News Cycle

steve jobs co founder of apple computer
Image by Annie Bannannie

Contrary to popular speculation, Steve Jobs is not dead, at least not yet. But it is hard to blame people for the dramatic belief that the icon’s end is near given his ongoing health issues and his weight loss. Further, Jobs’ sudden departure from the day to day helm of Apple broke a monotonous summer of no technology/social media news. Really, how many more Google+ blog posts can we read?

Given that Jobs has asked for and received the Apple Chairman position and will still counsel on new products, he sure doesn’t seem to be planning an imminent funeral. Perhaps it’s simply time to balance his life a little more because life (health, family, mind, etc.) demands it.

The Jobs departure is similar in stature to Bill Gates leaving Microsoft. A true industry titan, Jobs has had a critical role in shaping the U.S. technology in three critical phases — the PC revolution, the .com era, and again in the 2.0 era. And like Gates and Microsoft, it is unlikely that Apple will be the same.

There is so much to reflect on and think about when it comes to Steve Jobs. But until he dies, let’s save the obituaries. Keep breathing the air, Steve.

What are your thoughts on Steve Jobs’ departure from Apple?