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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.

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.

Customer Experience, Digital Culture, Marketing Trends, Social Media Marketing

A CMO’s Take On March Madness and #CustomerExperience

March is one of my favorite months of the year.


Because as an athlete and  a CMO, March is when two of my great loves –basketball and the customer experience – collide, creating one phenomenally fun event: the NCAA college basketball tournament, one of the most popular athletic championships in the US. (In fact, the weeks-long tournament is so action-packed and the fans are so, well, “fanatical,” that the whole experience is now known simply as “March Madness.”)

Last year, I wrote about how brands leverage March Madness to connect with their customers in fresh and innovative ways. This time around, I’m sure companies will ratchet it up even more. After all, marketing success now comes from engaging with your customers, and relating to them on their terms. Today’s leading brands are finding ways to join in on conversations that consumers have already started.  And what about the next few weeks? You guessed it. Many, many of those conversations are going to revolve around March Madness and all the “hoopla” that surrounds it.

Of course, most of that hoopla is relatively new – for both the tournament and for marketing. Over the years, I’ve watched both evolve, and looking back, it’s almost as though they’ve truly been on some kind of collision course all along.

The first NCAA men’s basketball championship tournament was played in 1939 and involved only eight teams. By 1994, the tournament included 64 teams and was well on its way to becoming the one of the nation’s preeminent sporting events. Coincidentally, that’s the year I started working on a PhD in Media Ecology at NYU.

Every single person I mention that to asks, “What’s ‘Media Ecology?’” So as an aside, let me mention that Media Ecology is the study of how technology impacts culture. But as it turns out, I didn’t continue down the PhD path. Instead, I opted for a job in IBM’s Internet Division, where I worked on launching IBM’s first “electronic commerce” payment product. Those were the early, early days of the digital customer experience, when creating your own “home page” at technology conferences like Internet World was all the rage. And coincidentally, once again, it was just about then that the NCAA created the first online computer page for the Final Four (1996).

Since that time, digital channels, social media and mobile communications have fundamentally changed the way consumers interact with brands, and as all that was unfolding, the NCAA continually evolved the “experience” of the tournament. What started out as a competition that involved only the players and those in attendance has become something of an annual national Spring-time ritual where anyone and everyone – from office workers to students to the President of the United States – can share in the experience . . . all the while driving value and loyalty back to the NCAA brand. These days, March Madness has grown into the U.S.’s second most popular sporting event for advertisers, second only to the NFL playoffs. Media coverage of the tournament now extends across four TV networks, along with scores of radio stations, websites, apps . . . and new this year, a chance to win a $1 billion prize?

Yes, the customer experience has evolved considerably since my days in the Media Ecology lab at NYU, and the NCAA has done a fantastic job of keeping pace.

Make no mistake about it, the future of marketing lies in the customer experience. And as any marketer who’s filling out a playoff bracket this week will tell you, you don’t have to look any further than March Madness.