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Customer Experience, Customer Journey, Digital Culture, Digital Marketing

@BrianSolis on The Future of Business, Generation C, and Napkins

A few weeks ago, I sat down for a chat with Brian Solis (@briansolis) from the Altimeter group. We had a great time discussing a number of topics that are close to both our hearts, several from his smart and enlightening book, ‘What’s The Future of Business?’.

You can watch the entire 30 minute video here.
WTFbookyesIf you haven’t read it yet, I suggest you get hold of a copy and see if you have the same experience with it as I did. And experience is exactly the word to describe it because Brian deliberately wrote it and designed it that way, even changing his methods of writing to adjust to the sound-bite mode of preference in which we consume media today.

“I love writing, but now suddenly everything had to be a tweet version. Maybe a paragraph and then an image before you continue with a longer post, but I didn’t dumb it down,” Brian explains.

It is Brian’s view that the addressable audience is not specific to a demographic based on age per se, and whilst Millennials are the fastest growing segment of consumers – with a spending power of £1.5 Trillion by year 2015 – it is the way Millennial habits are being adopted by older generations that is driving consumption, purchase and interaction trends today. He terms this newly created and ageless demographic ‘Generation C’ — or the “Connected Generation.”

In the full interview, available here, Brian and I discuss the following topics:

  • Customer experience is becoming more important than the product itself.
  • Disruptive technologies and customer behavior are changing how we do business.
  • ‘Generation C’ – not an age but how customers behave and become digitally connected.
  • Digital culture, experience and journey.
  • The importance of empathy combined with understanding the customer.
  • Design by napkin…

Yes, napkin. Funnily enough, we discussed the fact that napkins are still a popular design medium of choice in Silicon Valley. Take a look at this extra outtake to find out more and if you haven’t had chance to see the full 30 minute interview between myself and Brian Solis, it is available on demand for you to enjoy at your leisure.

I have to admit my brain hurt a bit afterwards! Hoping to sit down with Brian again soon.

Customer Experience, Digital Marketing

Are Marketing Channels Becoming Irrelevant?

As a marketer, I love saying out loud in public forums that I think marketing channels are becoming irrelevant. It makes some marketers very uncomfortable. With all the talk of Digital-Channel-this-and-that, how can we even suggest that this is the case? Because a true focus on Customer Experience dictates that it must be so.

How do customers connect with your brand? Do they use online channels, off-line channels or a combination of the two? Among the online channels, which ones are the most popular . . . and how are they accessed – by mobile, tablet or desktop? How does the in-store experience relate to online?

While it’s essential for you to know the answers to those questions – and more importantly, where your messaging performs well and who interacts with it – I challenge you to take that baseline knowledge and consider it in a new light.

I’d like you to think about how your marketing strategy might change if you thought less about channels and more about the overall customer experience you’re delivering.

We all know today’s consumers are empowered by digital devices. That means your customers choose when, where and how to interact with your brand. It also means they fully expect to move seamlessly between on- and off-line touch points. Your customers want omni-channel engagement, and they assume your brand will be there, as needed, every step of the way.

Along with these rising expectations, your customers care less and less about what channel they’re using.  And that includes marketing channels, which I believe are quickly becoming irrelevant.

Are you ready for that kind of paradigm shift? Few are. But that’s no excuse for putting it off any longer. You need to get moving in the direction of omni-channel engagement, and I suggest you start by:

Connecting the silos. Create a communications asset inventory and identify all touch points along the customer journey. Be sure to include all relevant departments and agencies. Odds are, it will be immediately apparent where you need to improve so that you’re collecting and leveraging data as efficiently and effectively as possible. Internal collaboration is fundamental to delivering an omni-channel experience.

Focusing on consistency . . . and relevancy. As I’ve mentioned before, once you dig into your customer data, you’ll identify where and when to create triggers for communication at different points along the customer journey. Your goal is to fine-tune your messaging so customers feel like they’re being acknowledged as individuals – with unique preferences and paths to purchase.

Taking a long-term view. Omni-channel engagement won’t happen overnight. First, you need to get your house in order. Then, you need to start growing customer relationships – and that takes time. Stay focused on the experience. Not the channel. Not just one sale.

Business Books, Business Transformation, Creativity, Customer Experience, Digital Culture

Shaking Up the Status Quo: Lessons from a “Disciplined Dreamer”

Modern CMOs have become the Swiss Army knives of the C-suite, forging skill sets that combine strategy, tactical know-how, data-driven insights, on-the-spot analysis, creativity and perhaps a touch of fortune-telling.

Nowadays, it’s not enough to fall back on what’s worked in the past or even to rely on what’s working right now. Rapid advances in technology and communications are changing the landscape at such breakneck speed that many are struggling to answer the top questions on everyone’s minds: What is the future of marketing, anyway? And how will we get there?

If you’re not looking ahead—way, way ahead—your competition may beat you to the finish line.

That’s why entrepreneur and venture capitalist, Josh Linkner is a passionate advocate for focusing on what’s next—and how to achieve it. His book, Disciplined Dreaming: A Proven System to Drive Breakthrough Creativity, provided leaders with invaluable insights on fostering creativity and innovation amongst their teams—all with the goal of driving new ideas, new offerings and new methods to maintain a competitive upper hand.

Josh’s newest book, The Road to Reinvention: How to Drive Disruption and Accelerate Transformation, takes the push toward ingenuity and inspiration to a new level by urging us to act as change agents within the enterprise. He says that by actively and intentionally disrupting the status quo, we can actually jumpstart the process of innovation.

Now, that might sound a bit contradictory. After all, won’t disruption just lead to chaos?

Not according to Josh. As he sees it, the right kind of disruption can accomplish just the opposite.

It’s easy for marketers to get caught up in a web of systems and functions that fail to produce successful outcomes, especially if you’re stuck doing things the way they’ve always been done.  From that vantage point—mired in old patterns and processes—it can be difficult to perceive exactly where the problems lie . . . and what might be possible if you stepped outside of your organization’s established universe of silos and campaigns and channels and acronyms and buzzwords.

When we develop the courage to abandon “how things are” and “how things have always been,” we become free to pursue the goal of “making the complicated simple.” We become powerful change agents in service of our own vision and purpose—and ultimately, capable of greater innovation, greater transformation and greater achievement as a result.