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The Future Does Not Fit In The Containers Of The Past

This is the infamous “flying cockroaches” keynote from the 4A’s Transformation Summit where I make the case that a) marketing is a huge growth industry, b) Partnership and collaboration is key c) Companies that are “one-stop” are selling mounds of mediocrity and d) we have to inspire, ignite and invent a new generation of talent!

Six Current and Six Rapidly Expanding Trends Marketers Should Focus On

Image(Originally delivered at the Publicis Investor Conference in London on April 23, 2013)

It is clear to everyone today that six forces are driving the future. These are that the world is, and it will become more

a) Digital

b) Networked and connected

c) Mobile

d) Social ( we live in a people network age)

e) Driven by emerging markets

f) People powered as tech democratizes everything and empowers people

Now we are anticipating six key drivers of the future that build on the original six trends. And we are building our future strategy around these six new realities.

1. The future is not just increasingly digital but it is integrating with analog (Digital Leakage)

Mobile phones make place and people important. E commerce and regular commerce blend. Amazon has stores and Walmart goes digital. Alibaba in China is spans real world and digital world.  People remain filled with analog feelings in a digital world.  All this places a premium on those who can combine TQ (Tech Q), IQ and EQ (Emotion Quotient). Brands and stories will matter greatly  since in the end its about people and “we tell each other stories in order to live” (Joan Didion) and “we choose with our hearts and use numbers to justify what we just did” (Blaise Pascal).

2 .The future is less about marketing and more about facilitating self marketing

People use search and social, to learn and speak to each other about products and services. They self market using people’s networks like Facebook, blogs, Twitter, Yelp and much more. Clients must ensure that their Brands are easily accessible, responsive and broadly distributed in this world. Are you facilitating self marketing. In a transparent world authenticity is what matters. How can brands remain relevant and authentic?

3. Advertising will be less about messages and more about content curation, creation and distribution, and increasingly about  utilities and services.

Acts not just ads will be key. Brands increasingly will develop digital products and services such as Amex open forum and Nike Fuel Band.  Mobility, Participation and API’s (Application Protocol Interfaces) will allow new ways to tell stories, engage and deliver value to consumers. Experiences will rule.

4.The future of TV will be even more powerful, but, will be very different and come from the slime (IP TV) and be multi-glass.

Look at Amazon, You Tube, Netflix, Twitter (and their global equivalents) for where TV is going.  Look at the app ecosystem that consumers are getting used to on their phones and tablets as a new way to engage with TV’s.  Look at the 13 to 18 year olds who watch more Internet TV than broadcast TV to see future behaviors.  A world of on demand, multi glass (screens, devices like Google Glass and new wearable computing) , and full seasons released at one time. Glass will not just be connected to each other and to IP networks but to many of our devices like cars!

5. The future will be about more access and less ownership

Consumers increasingly want access to content (Spotify, Netflix etc.) or things (Zip car etc.) rather than just ownership. This will also be true in the world of big data. It will be how to access and combine rather than own the right data in real time to help deliver services and predict customer behavior. Finally. marketers will want to be both accessible and look to partners who can provide them with access to global partnerships and opportunities key

6.Marketing a huge growth category

This is a growth game and not a share game as empowered consumers call for empowered marketing. To grow in a networked world collaboration and friends rather than “frenemies” (you are or you are not pregnant…odd this “frenemy” thing)

The future world will not only make marketing more effective but will make brand-building story telling more compelling and to prepare for this huge growth we are aligning behind three pillars of a) Commerce+, where marketing is commerce and commerce is marketing, b) Next Generation Story Telling  which leverage mobility, participation and API’s and c) Content (Creation, distribution and measurement across glass which in some cases will be screens, in some cases will be glasses like Google Glass, and in some cases will be devices like new iWatches) .

The future of marketing will be bright. Now all of us marketers have to be bright enough in learning, re-inventing and collaborating to remain relevant and truly unleash this potential!

Five Ways To Make The Most Of Time

PD825In the end time is the only thing we have.

And the way we spend our time is the way we spend our lives.

We often say we are killing time.

But really it is time that is killing us.

So how best to make the most of time?

1. Eliminate: Many people recognizing the limitations of time tend to try to do as much as possible. They multi-task and run around in a frenzy. Usually all they achieve is more multi-tasking and more frenzy. Doing more stuff is  not the same as achievement. Activity is not productivity. Showing how busy you are does not show how important you are.

2. Focus:  The key to doing less is to focus. Here are two filters to help you decide what you should focus on.

a) Comparative Advantage: You should spend your time doing things that you can do better than most people. Some focus areas are are easy like being a spouse or a parent, since by definition you should be able to do this better than other folks. However for many of the errands you run and the assignments you take on at work, it is important to ask if you can outsource or delegate or find a colleague who is better than you.

b) Positive Outcome: Where you can choose you should only do things which give you a positive outcome. Either you 1) earn a financial reward,  2)  learn something new , 3) help someone else or the team get better or 4) experience in itself feels good.If it is not one of those four outcomes and it is avoidable why are you doing it?

3. Scale: You can scale yourself  and your impact and therefore save time. Two ways to do this is to use “leverage” and “momentum”.

Much of what we do as white collar workers is  to think, communicate and sell. Basically with a few exceptions our success is based in large part on how we are as  communicators and sellers of ideas and points of view.

a) Leverage: Today technology and scheduling allows people to leverage. You can use social media, good writing and speaking skills to reach many people that you need to communicate and sell your thinking to. You are not limited to small meetings and groups. You can decide if you are senior to gather folks at the right conference or meeting versus repeating yourself again and again.

b) Momentum: The trend is your friend. To not waste your time you need to understand the underlying trend that is driving your firm or your business and in most cases align with it. The world is going global. The world is going digital. Every company has a built in DNA. If you are going to go against the flow prepare for much loss of time and grief. I am not suggesting that you sometimes do not try to change the trend of your firm or relationship but be alive to your chances and better have a superb strategy or you will be have nothing to show for it but bitterness.

I often meet people who doggedly pursue totally wasted causes and complain about how little time they have. Time is all you have. Stop having idiots decide how you spend it.

4. Do new things. Tattoo the moment: While the first three behaviors of elimination, focus and scale are scientific, the next couple are much more artistic.In the movie “Into the Wild”, there is a line about how the core of existence is new experiences. Often what we remember and which gives time certain elongation and depth are new experiences. These do not just have to be travels or new relationships and new jobs but could be as simple as walking down a new street, eating at a new place and going to a new cultural event. If there is a way to tattoo the moment into your memory you should try too.

5. Give you time to others:  One of the best ways to use your time is to use it not on yourself but on others. Nothing is as rewarding as helping other people, mentoring younger people and forgetting about yourself in your time equation.

If you respect other people’s time. If you give them your attention. If you think not of  the lack of time but the beauty of time, you will find that the time you spend is magical.

And in the end it is the time that you do not measure that is the most meaningful of all.

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 58,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

The Arc of Content Era

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Today, more and more,  people are engaging with video  (and increasingly other content) on two types of screens.

1. A bigger screen that hangs vertical on a wall, which we call a TV or in some cases another vertical screen that sits on our desk called a personal computer.

2. A smaller screen, that lies horizontal on our lap or in our hands, which we call a smart phone, laptop or tablet.

The future of the content business, from advertising to programming, will be built around the interaction within the ninety-degree arc between the horizontal and the vertical screens.

This is the Arc of Content.

Findings from a host of places including NBC Universal’s “Billion dollar” Olympic research indicate that people are consuming video and content in an additive way.  They are following events on multiple screens.

During most live television events we now follow the events on the big vertical screen while hearing or sharing our perspectives on the horizontal screen. Increasingly, many people find a Twitter stream on their phone or tablet is the more insightful soundtrack for live events than what accompanies the broadcast. For others a second screen experiences such as Zeebox or Get Glue add information or social or transactional layers to the activities on the vertical screen.

As tablets proliferate and smart phones get more powerful this multi-screen habit will grow.  While at home, we are likely to use the biggest television we can find as the vertical screen and a tablet or phone as the horizontal screen to create the Arc of Content. But we will soon create this arc everywhere. For instance, in the privacy of our room or on the road we will use the tablet propped vertically and the phone horizontally to create an “arc on the go”. Or the vertical screen will be a television in a bar and our tablet or phone will be the horizontal screen.

Basically, content will be consumed as an arc in as many places as we will be able to make this happen. Being transfixed to just one screen for video will over the years shrink to a minority of people who are old or do not have access to a wireless connection.

The Content Arc will transform marketing among other things.

Marketers will have to learn how to tell stories using multiple screens. They will also have the ability to enhance storytelling and data gathering and collapse the funnel from awareness to transaction. Interactive television will be more an Interactive Arc between the vertical and the horizontal screen rather than interactive TV as we imagined it, which involved zip code targeting, interactive menus and remotes.

Programmers and distributors are already moving quickly in working to understand and leverage the Content Arc whether it be unleashing video such as HBO Go, investing in the horizontal plane of the arc as Comcast recently announced with Zeebox, or Nielsen leveraging Twitter as a quick, real time research tool. But, increasingly the sight sound and motion business will not just come from the traditional video companies and studios but from the Trojan horse of the horizontal screen which will via technologies like Apple Airplay take over the large screen.

While we think of Google’s You Tube combined with Google+, Amazon Instant with their data warehouse or Microsoft’s X-Box as ways technology companies will come to the large screen, it is not just a technology play. Conde Nast, Hearst and the magazine business can now become major television players as they take their titles and properties and make them truly multi-media and get distribution over IP based versus cable networks.

The opportunities and threats for each marketer, brand, agency and content player will be significant as we enter the Arc of Content Era.

 Companies and individuals, who think and plan around the Arc of Content, should see their future blessed with another arc.

 They will enjoy a rainbow of wealth and business growth after the storm of change.

 

 

The Turd on the Table

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Earlier this week, I participated in a meeting with the CEO of a very well regarded large company to discuss ways our two companies might partner.

After sharing visions and perspectives on the future, it was time to get down to figure out how our companies might work together.

So I suggested we begin by addressing “the turd on the table”, which was the fact that on the fringes we were competitors and both of us saw the same path to growth which could make us bigger competitors in the future. Was this a “lets learn about the potential competitor meeting” or a “lets find a way to partner so we can both grow recognizing the potential of friction meeting”?

The CEO said, “I am so glad you brought up what I was thinking about but you brought it up so “elegantly” “

We had a very positive meeting and dinner for the next few hours since the CEO and his team and our team addressed “the turd on the table” and because of this our conversations moving forward were “bull shit “free!

Many years ago a boss of mine identified leadership as the ability to understand, face, adapt and align with reality.

Too often, particularly in meetings, we hide reality within layers of protocol, diplomacy, and dazzling multi-media shows. We are so afraid of the truth breaking out that we hold meetings to prepare meetings to get ready for a meeting.

Time passes. Opportunities come and go. The world spins.

And all the while instead of addressing the “turd on the table”, we talk about being sensitive, being politically correct and we all think we are in some psychological thriller or dramatic play where every move and word can make the difference. Meetings are thick with intrigue, back room dramas, meaningful silences, and side bar “bathroom break”conversations.

The joke is on all the participants because everybody knows what needs to be addressed. We all know what is the” turd on the table” and after the meetings we speak about how no one went near it.

So instead I suggest calling out the turd.

Call it out. Shine a bright light on it. Place it on a pedestal. Address the damn thing !

Here are some suggestions for you to become a “turd slayer”,  even though you may have  been have been indoctrinated not to do much of this advice.

a) Say what you think. In business we care what is between your ears. If you cannot say what you think (hey if its wrong you will be told so, in fact even if you are right you will be told you are wrong….). Truth eventually has a habit of breaking in. Why not open the door and save time and damage ?

b) Assume the person you are trying to be diplomatic to about an issue knows what the issue is. If you bring it up you will be more respected by them. If they did not know, you will earn an ally.

c) Do not go with the crowd if your instinct says no. Often group and crowd dynamics take over in much decision making. People think about what their boss wants  to hear rather than what they should say. People worry about the impact of their career rather than what is right. Sooner or later too many people are dodging their own shadow and playing mind games that lead to slow and bad decisions.

d) Do not work for a boss who you cannot bear the truth or whom you fear. We are living in a time of change and most of the time senior folks need to be told that their core beliefs may no longer be true. I have seen too many companies from newspaper to magazines to many other companies hasten their decline because their leadership did not face reality, in part because their staff was scared of them.

e) Tell all the truth but tell it slant: Once you have decided to address the turd on the table, you might want to do so in a way so the message gets through. Ideally it is in a way that does not make the person receiving the news “lose face” so much of this is best done person to person. In other times some humility, self awareness, metaphors or humor will be called for. Emily Dickinson says it best in her poem, too much of shock and you will have blinded someone to the turd!

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant --
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise

As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind --

So lets address the “turd on the table” wherever it might be.

For instance this post might be a turd in itself.

We would then call it a “meta-turd”

Marketers Need To Pay Attention To Changing Marketplaces

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Marketplaces are evolving at a rapid pace as the Internet a.k.a “The Connection Engine” is changing every aspect of what a marketplace is.

Historically a market place has been where buyers and sellers congregated and then exchanged goods and services with accepted currency.

First, there were the physical bazaars and souks and then the malls where the sellers congregated, the buyers came in crowds and service was transacted using either a form of barter or currency or credit.

Then there was the Catalog and Telemarketing addition,  to allow for virtual marketplaces which was then further expanded using the first generation of e-commerce.

A significant shift to the nature of marketplaces and their dynamics arose with E-Bay which created not only a new way to buy and sell but expanded the ranks of buyers and sellers. Amazon Marketplaces built on this momentum.

Today mobile phones, social networks, broadband and cheaper technology  are so changing every aspect of the market from a) what is the marketplace to b)who are the buyers and sellers and c)what is the nature of the currency used to execute the trade that every aspect of marketing will change.

The Marketplace

Today the marketplace is no longer a physical space or an e-commerce site or a catalog but pretty much anyplace where a buyer or a seller decide on a transaction.

There are dozens of new marketplace models of which the following are truly innovative

1. The Sampling Marketplace where you sign up for samples and then buy product or keep the sample. A more sophisticated book of the month club these include Birch Box, Shoe Dazzle and much more.

2. Sudden/Private Marketplaces which provide a just for you or just for now opportunity of which The Gilt Group is a leader

3. Reverse Marketplaces where buyers congregate and then ask seller for prices and deals such as the original version of Groupon

4. Collaborative Consumption and Production Marketplaces where spare capacity whether it be a spare room or a space in your car like Airbnb or Sidecar can now be monetized. Freelance creative talent have platforms built by Victors and Spoils and Jovoto among many others to make their skills available.

5. Exchange Traded & Electronic Marketplaces expand to all sorts of goods including computing power and storage sucha as Amazon Web Services, freelance talent such as Odesk, and data and ad inventory that began initially with Right Media.

6. Place based marketplaces where inventory is created based on the proximity of buyers and sellers such as Uber for cars or Four Square and Groupon place based deals.

7. New Funding Marketplaces such as Second Market which helped provide liquidity for Facebook holders pre-IPO. Then we have the awesome Kickstarter that has raised more money for artistic projects (among others) than the National Endowment for the Arts. In fact, projects on Kickstarter have raised more than a million dollars from the crowds at least  on seven occasions. Finally, Prosper enables a marketplace for peer to peer lending.

New Breed Of Buyers & Sellers

These are just a few of the way the Internet has enable completely new marketplaces to come into existence.

But as interestingly these marketplaces have allowed for a completely new breed of seller and buyer since productive capacity as well as consumption capacity that was untapped is now brought to the market.

In the case of sellers we now have every home owner can now not only offer a spare bedroom to the market but also a space in their car or even rent out their ladder!. And if you like designing and making things there is Etsy and if you are a sitter there is Sittercity and the list goes on. Your hobbies and your spare time (now we can all be freelancers) can be monetized (and you can also give your time for charity or to help others).

Similarly a new crowd of buyers surge into a marketplace because either the price is right or the place is right or the offering is right. For instance when a non car owner needs a car for a grocery run there is a Zip and the fact that the store you are near has a special deal that you hear about when you check in on Four Square makes you an additional buyer.

Medium of Exchange

The orginal medium of exchange was barter and in many ways barter is one of the new forms of exchange as people can trade cd’s and home articles and much more due to the ability to create new markets.

But in addition to old fashioned barter we have new currencies including Facebook Credits, Airline and Hotel Miles and Credit Card rebates and much more as companies marry data and the internet to reduce friction and enable transaction.

Implications for Marketing and Marketers.

There are three things every Marketer  and their Agency should ensure they are doing.

1. Audit and Understand the New Marketplaces Impacting their Category:  How will the new markets create new opportunities as well as potential competitors for  you? Are there ways to reduce costs or enhance the ability to gather ideas and input? Will the new markets allow for new products and services you did not think of in a static or existing marketplace

2. Understand the new levers available to your firm due to new Marketplaces.There is a host of new companies that can provide incentives to the right people at the right time due to these new marketplaces. They not only offer ways to target folks but gain insights and potentially bundle your product and service with another. Do you understand the new levers?

3. Participate in or create new marketplaces: After understanding the landscape and determining potential opportunities it is critical that marketers participate in the new market places or create one of their own (this may be as simple as a collaborative sharing marketplace inside their own company), in order to stretch and test their own organizational system and capabilities.

The future of marketing will change as the nature of marketplaces change and leaders will change with it. ‘