Founder & Executive Director
The mobile phone has come to represent the most pervasive channel of communications and targeted engagement on the planet, reaching nearly 90 percent of the world’s population. Portia Research projects more than 6.5 billion mobile subscribers worldwide by the end of 2012, annual handset shipments of over exceeding 2.15 billion by 2016, and a global market projected to generate total service revenue of nearly $8 trillion during the next five years.
The immediacy, convenience, pervasiveness, and personal attachment to mobile devices make this medium an ideal means of expanding marketing messages and enhancing engagement with a global customer base. Mobile social networking has not only become a better way to touch and understand customers, but it has also given consumers the ability to gain affirmation about brands, products, prices, and merchant experiences from trusted friends, family, and peers.
The mobile channel is an unprecedented opportunity to reach consumers in developed markets in new and intrusive way, and to access the previously untapped, unreachable, and unbanked mass of humanity in emerging economies. An estimated 2.5 billion adults (more than half of the world’s adult population) do not use any form of formal financial services, yet about 70 percent of all people on the planet use a cell phone.
Consumer Advising Eclipsing Advertising
Using traditional advertising to engage and activate an audience is rapidly being eclipsed by the pervasive nature of social media networks, massive mobile device dependency, as well as the amazing analytics capability of cloud-based, business intelligence providers, which are pioneering new relationship marketing practices.
More targeted, timely, and helpful messaging and info sourcing through mobile communications channels are helping consumers get trusted advice, find the right products, and source the best deals, any place, at any time. In addition, customers are now empowered to transact and interact on-demand without any limitations or restrictions on where and how they buy.
Brands are digging into online customer conversations, content postings, and social media data in a big way to assume a new role as “Consumer Concierge” or “Personal Lifestyle Assistant.” They are gaining greater marketing efficiency, effectiveness, and campaign response by using personal insights gleaned from public domain information in social media networks, blogs, tweets, Web sites, online communities, chat rooms, bulletin boards, contact centers, help desks, and affinity groups to provide more relevant information, education, guidance, assistance, and individualized recommendations.
Customer insight, intimacy, and engagement are essential to sustaining successful brands. Yet for many companies, especially those that sell through indirect channels or to cash-only customers, connecting with and influencing the customer is a serious struggle. Consumer marketers around the world are now trying to overcome these traditional obstacles by leveraging the power of the Web and mobile social networking to create more direct relationships with customers.
The Move To Mobile Relationship Marketing (MRM)
The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council predicts Mobile Relationship Marketing (MRM) will transform the marketing mix and enable brands to engage at every stage of the consumer life cycle. An effective MRM strategy will integrate social interaction, customer insight gathering and analytics, consumer engagement and loyalty, market listening, purchase incentive or inducement, as well as lifetime revenue optimization, all through optimized use of the mobile channel.
Marketers will employ new mobile apps, location-based messaging, proximity marketing, and smart merchandising systems in-store to attract and engage consumers in any place where they are willing to interact, transact, or stay in contact with brands. This includes retail, sports, entertainment, destination, education, mass transit, and travel environments.
Operationalizing MRM will help companies across multiple industries maintain continuous customer touch and interaction, sustained support and service, closer and more dependent connectivity, as well as greater insight and intimacy. MRM has vast potential to create business value, improve process efficiency, trigger product consumption and use, further loyalty and repeat purchase, as well as increase customer feedback, assistance, affinity and advocacy.
The CMO Council envisages a new PROMPT Model of Mobile Relationship Marketing. This framework will include key drivers of revenue, response, and retention:
- Personalization: More intimate, individualized messaging, handling and engagement.
- Relevance: Insight-driven contact and offer delivery based on behavior, preference and circumstance.
- Opportunity: Making contact,conversion, closure and commerce easier, quicker and more satisfying.
- Motivation: Reward, inducement, benefit or perk that prompts action, induces trial or encourages repeat purchase.
- Proximity: Geo-targeting and location-based messaging to attract customers, maximize traffic and trigger impulse buying.
- Timing: Customer life stage tracking, social media monitoring, and wireless user analytics to time contact and deal delivery based on highest levels of predisposition.
Unfortunately, just 16 percent of 250 global marketers surveyed by the CMO Council in mid-2012 said they have a formal strategy for using mobile as a significant channel of customer engagement, convenience, and gratification. But participants in the recent Engage at Every Stage study have no hesitation in identifying the most important ways they can use mobile channel, namely to:
- Provide more personalized and relevant messaging (49 percent)
- Deliver value-added services not offered by competitors (35 percent)
- Multiply the quality and frequency of communication (34 percent)
There’s no doubt brands see MRM as a critical area to gain competency and competitive advantage. Big drivers include the high level of lifestyle and business dependence on mobile devices, the proliferation of mobile apps, growing mobile social media engagement, and ever-faster wireless networks that can deliver rich media content.
While interest is high, skepticism exists; many marketers feel that today’s mobile channel is filled with false claims, unmet expectations, lack of visibility, and few best practice leaders. Not surprisingly, 77 percent of marketers surveyed by the CMO Council would like to see more case studies of best practices or success stories. Organizations like the CMO Council are advancing new models for MRM and showcasing innovations from both developed and emerging growth countries where mobile subscribers far outnumber online Internet users.
In conclusion, bear in mind the comments of Lucas Herscovici, head of digital marketing at Anheuser-Busch InBev: “The advantage of mobile is that it’s always on, and you can reach more people in an extremely local and relevant way. The biggest challenge, on the other hand, is that there are so many different platforms and no standard. All devices have different capabilities, so you can’t engage with all consumers in the same way.”
For more information on the CMO Council’s Mobile Relationship Marketing (MRM) advocacy and research, please visit www.mrmstrategies.org, where you can also download its latest Engage at Every Stage report sponsored by Pandora and FUN Mobility.
The Social Era Is More Than Social Media
By Nilofer Merchant
September 24, 2012
The 11 definitive social-era rules that allow both people and institutions to thrive.
Things we once considered opposing forces–doing right by people and delivering results, collaborating and keeping focus, having a social purpose and making money–are really not in opposition. They never have been. But we need a more sophisticated approach to understand business models where making a profit doesn’t mean losing purpose, community, and connection. Finding the right balance among them is key. We will find that balance as we shape new constructs for business models, strategies, and leadership. What we can create will be rich in many senses of the word.
Here are the social-era rules that allow both people and institutions to thrive:
The social era will reward those organizations that realize they don’t create value all by themselves. If the industrial era was about building things, the social era is about connecting things, people, and ideas. Networks of connected people with shared interests and goals create ways that can produce returns for any company that serves their needs.
Power used to come largely through and from big institutions. Today power can and does come from connected individuals in community. Power can come from the way you work with others, such as one party offering a platform to the multitude of creators. When community invests in an idea, it also co-owns its success. Instead of trying to achieve scale by all by yourself, we have a new way to have scale: scale can be in, with, and through community.
Organizations that “let go at the top”–forsaking proprietary claims and avoiding hierarchy–are agile, flexible, and poised to leap from opportunity to opportunity, sacrificing short-term payoffs for long-term prosperity. No longer can management espouse the notion that good ideas can come from everywhere, while actually pursuing a practice in which direction is owned by a few. Instead of centralized decisions, there is distributed input, decision making, and distributed ownership.
The foundational element starts with celebrating each human and, more specifically, something I’ve termed onlyness. Onlyness is that thing that only one particular person can bring to a situation. It includes the skills, passions, and purpose of each human. Each of us is standing in a spot that no one else occupies. That unique point of view is born of our accumulated experience, perspective, and vision. Without this tenet of celebrating onlyness, we allow ourselves to be simply cogs in a machine–dispensable and undervalued.
“Doing work” no longer requires a badge and a title within a centralized organization. Anyone–without preapproval or vetting or criteria–will create and contribute. And this fundamental shift changes how any organization creates value, and how many individuals gather together. This talent inclusion–across ages, genders, cultures, sexual orientation–is essential for solving new problems as well as for finding new solutions to old problems. Be the one to enable that connected individual in your enterprise, through systems and leadership, and you win.
More and more companies embrace consumers as “co-creation” partners in their innovation efforts, instead of as buyers at the end of a value chain. Consumers, traditionally considered as value exchangers or extractors, are now seen as a source of value creation and competitive advantage. This collaboration shares power between the participants as we start to recognize value creation as an act of exchange, not simply a one-way transaction. As an exchange, all parties need to do it sustainably as each must have equilibrium to stay viable.
Reach and connection in the social era start to be understood as a relationship similar to falling in love, following an arc of romance, struggle, commitment, and co-creation. These are not easily controlled by one party over the other but are a process of coming together. And the relationship gains strength from trying new things and the resulting failures, for it is in the process of making mistakes–and the ensuing forgiveness–that resilience develops.
Adaptability is central to how organizations and people thrive in the social era. In psychological language, the key to adaptability and personal growth is resilience. In biology, the equivalent term for adaptive skills is plasticity. In the social era, the term to use is flexibility. Instead of viewing strategy as a set end point, it becomes a horizon to aim for. Instead of asking employees to each simply man their own oar, we must encourage their capacity to navigate as conditions shift. Instead of perfection and getting it right the first time, innovation can be continuous.
Protecting intellectual property allows a company to keep its edge, to erect barriers to entry from competitors, to establish entirely new markets. At least, it used to. Then along came the social era, with its networks through which open, connected ideas became powerful, even catalytic. It’s the difference between holding our ideas in a tight, closed fist or holding out our hand, open to what happens next.
The social object that unites people isn’t a company or a product; the social object that most unites people is a shared value or purpose. Money motivates neither the best people nor the best in people. Purpose does. When people know the purpose of an organization, they don’t need to check in or get permission to take the next step; they can just do it. Nonprofits have leveraged the power of people and purpose for years. But business hasn’t been able to see the upside of purpose. With social purpose, alignment happens without coordination costs.
Don’t assume any set of rules is fully baked. Accept that your job is to stay alert to what happens next to figure out what assumptions need to be tuned. Listen, learn, adapt.
Let’s dive in.
All Hail the Generalist
by Vikram Mansharamani | 10:53 AM June 4, 2012
We have become a society of specialists. Business thinkers point to “domain expertise” as an enduring source of advantage in today’s competitive environment. The logic is straightforward: learn more about your function, acquire “expert” status, and you’ll go further in your career.
But what if this approach is no longer valid? Corporations around the world have come to value expertise, and in so doing, have created a collection of individuals studying bark. There are many who have deeply studied its nooks, grooves, coloration, and texture. Few have developed the understanding that the bark is merely the outermost layer of a tree. Fewer still understand the tree is embedded in a forest.
Approximately 2,700 years ago, the Greek poet Archilochus wrote that “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” Isaiah Berlin’s 1953 essay “The Fox and the Hedgehog” contrasts hedgehogs that “relate everything to a single, central vision” with foxes who “pursue many ends connected…if at all, only in some de facto way.” It’s really a story of specialists vs. generalists.
In the six decades since Berlin’s essay was published, hedgehogs have come to dominate academia, medicine, finance, law, and many other professional domains. Specialists with deep expertise have ruled the roost, climbing to higher and higher positions. To advance in one’s career, it was most efficient to specialize.
For various reasons, though, the specialist era is waning. The future may belong to the generalist. Why’s that? To begin, our highly interconnected and global economy means that seemingly unrelated developments can affect each other. Consider the Miami condo market, which has rebounded quite nicely since 2008 on the back of strong demand from Latin American buyers. But perhaps a slowdown in China, which can take away the “bid” for certain industrial commodities, might adversely affect many of the Latin American extraction-based companies, countries, and economies. How many real estate professionals in Miami are closely watching Chinese economic developments?
Secondly, specialists toil within a singular tradition and apply formulaic solutions to situations that are rarely well-defined. This often results in intellectual acrobatics to justify one’s perspective in the face of conflicting data. Think about Alan Greenspan’s public admission of “finding a flaw” in his worldview. Academics and serious economists were dogmatically dedicated to the efficient market hypothesis — contributing to the inflation of an unprecedented credit bubble between 2001 and 2007.
Finally, there appears to be reasonable and robust data suggesting that generalists are better at navigating uncertainty. Professor Phillip Tetlock conducted a 20+ year study of 284 professional forecasters. He asked them to predict the probability of various occurrences both within and outside of their areas of expertise. Analysis of the 80,000+ forecasts found that experts are less accurate predictors than non-experts in their area of expertise. Tetlock’s conclusion: when seeking accuracy of predictions, it is better to turn to those like “Berlin’s prototypical fox, those who know many little things, draw from an eclectic array of traditions, and accept ambiguity and contradictions.” Ideological reliance on a single perspective appears detrimental to one’s ability to successfully navigate vague or poorly-defined situations (which are more prevalent today than ever before).
The future has always been uncertain, but our ability to navigate it has been impaired by an increasing focus on studying bark. The closer you are to the material, the more likely you are to believe it. In psychology jargon, you anchor on your own beliefs and insufficiently adjust from them. In more straightforward language, a man with a hammer is more likely to see nails than one without a hammer. Expertise means being closer to the bark, and less likely to see ways in which your perspective may warrant adjustment. In today’s uncertain environment, breadth of perspective trumps depth of knowledge.
The declining returns to expertise have implications at the national, company, and even individual level. A collection of specialists creates a less flexible labor force, one that requires “retraining” with technological developments creating constantly shifting human resource needs. In this regard, the recent emphasis in American education on “job-specific” skills is disturbing. Within a company, employees skilled in numerous functions are more valuable as management can dynamically adjust their roles. Many forward-looking companies are specifically mandating multi-functional experience as a requirement for career progress. Finally, individuals should manage their careers around obtaining a diversity of geographic and functional experiences. Professionals armed with the analytical capabilities (e.g. basic statistical skills, critical reasoning, etc.) developed via these experiences will fare particularly well when competing against others more focused on domain-specific skill development.
The time has come to acknowledge expertise as overvalued. There is no question that expertise and hedgehog logic are appropriate in certain domains (i.e. hard sciences), but they certainly appear less fitting for domains plagued with uncertainty, ambiguity, and poorly-defined dynamics (i.e. social sciences, business, etc.). The time has come for leaders to embrace the power of foxy thinking.
Twitter Launches Brand Pages: What it Means for You
Posted by Melissa Parrish on December 9, 2011
Yesterday, Twitter announced the launch of its highly-anticipated brand pages. The move is being lauded as the next logical step for the social network in attempting to bring its offerings in line with competitive services for companies– like the already-launched Google+ brand pages and the perennial favorite Facebook pages. But how exactly will the changes help brands or change the way they interact?
First, the the pages offer marketers more branding opportunities. A large banner on the top of the page will let you show off your logo or other creative without worry that it’ll get lost behind the Twitter stream like your custom background images may on your current pages.
Second, you’ll be able to make a tweet sticky, but pinning it to the top of your stream– with media like photos or videos– for as long as you choose.
These features sound– and are– good news to marketers who’ve wanted better tools to create a destination for their audiences on Twitter. But remember, the majority of interaction with your followers on Twitter happens in the stream, not on your brand page. So while these new tools will let you position your Twitter presence better to capture new followers, you still have to have a clear strategy for engaging your followers once you’ve got them…
Which brings me to the change that I think will make the biggest difference to marketers– and it’s not on the brand pages themselves. The brand pages were launched as part of a general redesign, which includes a feature they’re calling “Discover”. Think of it as a more robust– and smarter– version of clicking on a hashtag. Twitter describes it like this, “When you use Discover, you’ll see results reflecting your interests—based on your current location, what you follow and what’s happening in the world. As you use Twitter more, Discover gets even better at serving up more content just for you.”
The content a user explores in Discover will include images and video in-line, creating an experience that almost looks more like Tumblr than the Twitter you’re used to. All of this means that while the design of your brand pages will be more compelling, the content you create is where you can really have an impact. If you’re looking to take the fullest advantage of this Twitter redesign, you should be thinking about how you can make your content as compelling and relevant as possible to your audience.
Shocking advice? Certainly not. It’s the same principle that successful Twitter marketers have been following for years. (More on that, and other Twitter principles, in an upcoming report.) But now you can expect that your most creative elements will be seen in the stream– and your most relevant content will be Discovered by more users. So the biggest change isn’t what you’re doing on Twitter, but rather how seriously you take your Twitter content strategy.
So what do you think, marketers? Are you excited about the changes?
Complements of David Armano, Edelman & Information Visualization Strategiest!
Social Media Strategists Grow Up
Report: Career Path of the Corporate Social Strategist: Be Proactive or Become Social Media Help Desk
View more documents from Jeremiah Owyang.
Edelman colleague Steve Rubel and I (*David Armano were interviewed with a host of other active practitioners for Altimeter’s latest report on the state of social strategists and to some degree social business in general. Here are a few findings that I thought were interesting as well as a few personal opinions that I have on the findings based on personal experience.
Social Strategists come from a digital or marketing background.
While social media is an emerging technology set, most Social Strategists are already seasoned in digital technologies or marketing. Hiring managers sought 6 years in digital or marketing and 3 years experience in social media.
I believe this is accurate as the initial wave of social media has been pounced on primarily by marketers who are conditioned to react to the fickle behaviors of consumers especially in the digital space who seem to change user behavior as easily as one would change a shirt. The next several waves will likely see professionals with mixed backgrounds ranging from customer service, to public relations to even HR. But I believe the common denominator will be a proficiency in human to human interaction vs. one way communication.
They act more like program managers and resources for the whole corporation.
In our analysis of 50 LinkedIn profiles of current Social Strategists and job descriptions, we found these common job responsibilities:
Screen shot 2010-11-14 at 1.54.25 PM
You know that the field is still in in its infancy despite signs of early maturity by the focus on evangelizing initiatives and figuring out measurement vs. implementation of policies and processes which is still low in relationship. Expect this to shift over the next few years as initiatives become integrated and implementation becomes more common across organizations.
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Their programs are organized into a “Hub and Spoke” formation. The culture of a company directly influences how they develop their organizational formation.
I also recommend “hub and spoke” organizational structures, but there is another dimension to this structure:
Centers of Excellence:
Centers of excellence typically reside within the “hub” of the structure and are responsible for cross discipline education, infrastructure (such as policy) and knowledge/best practice sharing across the organization.
High Level Structure
Once an organization has it’s policies and general infrastructure in place, the “center” or hub begins to serve a different purpose. A core team exists primarily to act as a group of “internal consultants” actively working with teams that exist at either the brand or product level where channel strategy and implementation take place. The core team still loops in to a multi-disciplinary committee so that essential practices can be incorporated into initiatives that occur across the entire organization.
There are some really great findings in the analysis and the document is worth previewing and downloading if you are working in this space or thinking about it. The overall theme? Social media adoption for organizations is still in its infancy but growing up rapidly.