Tablet Market Up for Grabs

"iPaid too much"

When the iPad appeared on the scene its dominance was all encompassing. But just as the battle for marketshare in the smartphone market is shifting away from Apple’s iPhone towards the plethora of various Android powered devices, the tablet market is seeing a similar pattern emerge.

Apple now holds less than 30% of the tablet market which is down from almost 50% at the same time last year.

In this infographic, eBay Deals, took a different approach – and rather than just relying on pure sales data, they analysed thousands of tweets, search data, YouTube views etc. The aim was to reveal not just market share (which we know), but aspects of behaviour, sentiment and – dare I say it – love.

And in this respect, Apple’s products continue to perform well. But interestingly, it is Google (not Android) that seems to be emerging as a strong competitor in the “tablet passion” stakes. And that – for Apple at least – should be more worrying than the sales figures – after all, one is a leading indicator of the other. And that early dominance can easily be squandered.

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"iPaid too much" Asim Bharwani via Compfight

Mid-Year Digital Marketing Trends 2013

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Report-2013trendsAs we begin to ramp up our efforts for the second half of 2013, it’s always worth taking a moment to reflect on what has emerged, what is emerging and the gaps that are becoming obvious in our marketing strategy and tactics.

For me, one of the things that has solidified is the notion that consumers are not only king, but the entire universe. As such they have become the centre of gravity around which brands now orbit.

Understanding and navigating this new “consumerverse” is a core requirement for any marketer.

My snapshot report on Succeeding in the New Consumerverse reveals four strategies to help marketers win in a state of disruption as usual:

  • The shift from participating to serving with purpose
  • Becoming connected and connectable
  • Realising that channels are dead
  • Embracing tech sector innovation

Register and download the report from the Constellation Research Inc website.

And if you would like to learn more about how this connects to real businesses, some of the interesting proof points that are emerging and how businesses can embrace disruption as a business imperative, take a look at my interview with Which-50’s Andrew Birmingham.

Is Facebook the New Las Vegas?

The Way to the Penthouse

You know how it goes at the international airport check-in counter.

  1. Greet customer: “Hello sir”
  2. Determine destination: “Where are you travelling to today?”
  3. Check passport, print boarding pass etc

It’s all pretty functional.

From time to time, there might be some off-script personality sneaking through, but it’s rare. Unless you are travelling to Vegas.

When I checked-in for my first ever trip to Las Vegas, the routine started as usual. But when we got to point 2 – and I explained where I was heading, the woman stopped and looked up.

Her eyes glistened and she smiled. She nodded and just said, “Veeeegaas”.

It was at this point that I knew that there was something special in store. The thing is, Vegas is a place whose story precedes it. It is a place where stories are born and where we can become wrapped in a story beyond our imaginings in the blink of a showgirl’s eye.

Now, it used to be said that what goes on in Vegas, stays in Vegas. But that was “back in the day” – which in Gen Y speak means about 2009. It was a time when being in a city in the middle of a desert afforded a certain isolation. It was a time before my nanna was on Facebook. And now, as we all know, what goes on in Vegas, lives forever on Facebook. Or Google. Or the computers in the NSA’s secret PRISM data centre.

And this means that the stories that are the lifeblood that is “Veeeegaas” … are no longer contained. Furthermore, those stories are amplified, hyper-real simulacra flashed across a variety of digital networks in multi-format content from pictures on Instagram to collections on Pinterest and videos on Vine and YouTube to collections on Storify.

But just as Vegas transformed itself from family destination to adult playground, it seems that Facebook too is experiencing this kind of shift. With teens and young adults starting feeling Facebook fatigue and dropping away from the social network, it’s leaving a hard core adult population to connect, share and engage. And with a revitalised MySpace and a plethora of low demand/high impact alternatives like Instagram and SnapChat it may well be that Facebook enters a new era of adult-focused engagement.

Perhaps.

But which ever way that dice rolls, one thing is for certain. Before posting a new photo to Facebook, ask yourself the hard question. Should I?

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Note to Brands: Make Things People Want

Evening

Have you ever wondered why marketing and advertising is such hard work?

We are constantly trying to change the way that people behave and think – positioning brands and businesses in the centre of a relationship that is only ever on the peripheral of our customers’ worlds. And while for us – for the business owner, brand manager or agency – there is a real centrality to our relationship with the brand, it is simply not the case for the vast majority of the people that we want to talk to.

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As Hugh MacLeod explained back in 2006, “if you talked to people the way advertising talked to people, they’d punch you in the face”.

And while social media awareness has become widespread, many businesses still struggle with it. Where’s the ROI they ask. Where’s the relevance? How will it drive sales? And while these are important questions, they are important questions for a mature channel. Very few businesses have the knowledge, expertise and capability to determine the answers – let alone the capacity to integrate these answers into a comprehensive brand and engagement framework. The channel has matured but our organisational understanding of it continues to lag.

But there is another way.

Rather than making people want things – spending our precious resources creating awareness, inspiring interest and stimulating desire in our customer base, what if we just made things that people want?

What of we went further – and understood our customer’s journey from the outside-in? So, rather than pushing messages out designed to interrupt and stimulate – what if we could participate and engage? What if we provided so much incentive, surprise and delight that this engagement prompted purchase, created a business relationship or turned a “detractor” into an advocate?

What if what we did made someone’s life better?

John Willshare argues exactly this – that brands are fracking the social web – and missing the real opportunity presented by digital and social media.

But what can you do? Practically? Why don’t you start:

  • Small: Rather than thinking of the vision that will change the world, what is your vision that will change one person’s experience of what you do. Have the big vision in your back pocket, but start as small as you can bear.
  • Quick: Stop thinking about doing and start acting. Raid the petty cash tin and think about what you can do with a budget you can hold in one hand.
  • Inclusive: Don’t sit in a room planning – go talk to your customers. Engage with them on social media. Bring them into your process

And I bet that within a week you’ll have a deeper understanding of the problems your customers want you to solve than you have resources to deliver. And that’s the whole point, surely.

EveningCreative Commons License Hartwig HKD via Compfight

Marketing to Marketers – Just Add ICE

GoogleBuyers

The five forces of the Consumerization of Information Technology (CoIT) do not just affect the chief information officer (CIO). The impact of social media, Big Data, analytics, mobility, cloud computing and unified communications will be felt across every business unit and across every enterprise.

However, it is the office of the CMO – the organizational executive responsible for the “front of house” – which will be increasingly exposed to the challenges presented by consumerization. As a result, marketing leaders will face significant new strategic and technology decisions in the next two years.

Outdated theories and metrics, however, frame the practice of business marketing and continue to inhibit the ability of marketers to respond to the rapidly changing consumerized landscape. CMOs need to plan and execute against a new vision of the connected consumer.

The connected consumer, who uses a range of digital and social networking technologies, discovers, debates and decides on purchases in a completely new way. These processes occur almost completely independent of your brand, your communications and the messages they carry. The connected consumer may share your Facebook fan page with friends and buy your products on the way home. She or he may be your greatest critic or your staunchest defender. They blog, tweet, write reviews, self-publish books and hold online film festivals. They are influencers in their own right.

Marketers need to adopt a long-term view that demotes the campaign-based thinking that has dominated the marketing agenda for decades, replacing it with a focus on relationships, value and customer experience.

Companies that are prepared for the future do three things right when it comes to digital marketing. First, they understand the customer journey as a series of flows between touch points over time – and plan and execute their marketing plans accordingly. Second, they understand the power of data and analytics to create a deeper understanding of that customer and the approaches that can deliver customer engagement at scale. And finally, CMOs are recasting the marketing funnel to model and map the customer journey to better direct their marketing investments.

My report into re-casting the marketing funnel for consumer engagement set out the new touchpoints that marketers need to map against their buyers journey. But this, of course, requires an understanding of that journey not from the brand point of view – which is inside-out – but from the outside-in. And this requires additional thought, planning and preparation. In fact, it needs education.

One of the great successes of Google has been it’s relentless focus on technology. This has also been one of its great failings – and lies at the heart of its lack of success with social networking. With search – where Google clearly dominates, they have followed the ICE approach:

  • Interest – create interest and intrigue in the solution by generating immediate VALUE
  • Contextualise – help EDUCATE the audience in this new world by contextualising the old vs new with patterns of user behaviour
  • Evangelise – show, support and evangelise the OUTCOMES of the new behaviour in the new context

Not only have new behaviours emerged thanks to Google search – whole industries have been built, careers have flourished and our personal and professional lives have been shaped in new ways. Except in small pockets, this has not happened with other Google solutions.

But things are slowly changing.

GoogleBuyers The Think with Google website has become one of my favourites over the last year or so. Their recent work on the How to Go Mo website took a huge step in educating and empowering marketers in their quest to understand mobile marketing. And now, this planning tool on the customer journey helps explain some of the complexity around multi-channel / omni-channel marketing, analytics and attribution.

If Google wants to see more marketers getting value out of their digital marketing investments (which is in everyone’s best interest), then more of this work will be required. Having great technology is only half of any answer (or maybe even less). Without the people, you don’t have a party. For that, you need ICE.

SocietyOne Eyes Off Disruption in Personal Lending

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For decades, many Australian business sectors have been asleep at the wheel – underinvesting in digital technology, employee skills and strategic thinking. Which sectors? They’re the ones people complain about on Twitter and Facebook – retail, healthcare, pharmaceuticals and financial services. And you can add utilities into that list (but that’s a subject for a future post).

In many ways this is what we’d expect. In the industrial era – business was designed to maximise the profits from investment and expenditure – and that’s what they were doing. We call it creating “shareholder value”. But times are changing. We are no longer living in a world where industrial era business models rule. They are the dinosaurs of the 21st century and those companies and industries that don’t look to reinvent their business models will not only face declining revenues – they’ll risk disappearing altogether.

Don’t think it can happen to you? So did Kodak.

When Google created their own financial services division, they fired a shot across the bow of the slow moving personal lending businesses in the UK. What Google understands is speed to market – and disruption. And remember, they have the inside view of what we search for, what we click on and how long we stay there. The shift to digital – the massive transformation in the way that we think, shop and live has largely been driven by access to Google’s services – and financial services is just the next step in a long journey for them.

But it’s not just global internet giants who will disrupt the market. Smaller, agile players are entering the market – rethinking the old business models and out-flanking them. Take a look at SocietyOne. Connecting borrowers and investors in a peer-to-peer fashion SocietyOne takes “crowdfunding” to a new, more knowable level. It’s designed to match investors and borrowers in an interest rate/risk online pitch-off. Check out their introductory video. Looks like no bank that I know. And that’s the point.

Closed slimmer_jimmer via Compfight

Scale Your Digital Marketing with Marketing Automation

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In these challenging times, we are all asked to do more with less. For marketers, this means coping with an explosion of channels, transformation in the expectations of our customers and an abundance of data that can, in equal parts,  obscure or facilitate insight.

So where can you turn to scale your marketing efforts?

The first generation of marketing automation software provided a great way to deal with an increasing volume of broadcast style communications. But in this digital – multi-directional world, marketers must be more responsive, engaging and yes, social.

My just released report, Scaling Up with Marketing Automation, provides a birds eye view of the marketing automation landscape, presents the key strengths and features of a range of vendors and examines how these solutions can help marketers do more with less. You can download a snapshot of the report here.

laughing cow chotda via Compfight

I’m Just a Little Bit in Love with This

I'll Give You All I Can...

I’m just a little bit in love with a great presentation by Martin Weigel.

I didn’t want to get in the way between you and this presentation – but it’s important to remember that there is a huge perception gap between what WE think consumers want, and what they EXPECT from us. It’s not even that we have to CLOSE the gap – just acknowledge it is there. Then we can get to work on truly inspirational customer experiences.

I'll Give You All I Can... Brandon Warren via Compfight

Gustin Shows Why Retailers Still Don’t Get Digital

Gustin to transform retail

For years, Australian retailers have under-invested in digital. They held back technology investment, closed down innovation programs and hired traditional marketers when they should have been growing their own breed of tech-savvy innovators. And while retailers had their heads in the sand, the world changed.

Recent failures like ClickFrenzy have been down played and it’s clear that even the retailers with some digital budget are unprepared for the fast moving transformation taking place thanks to mobile.

In spite of all the trends, facts, figures and forecasts, retailers remain unconvinced. What is driving this myopic view of the future of business? In many ways, it feels like a classic illustration of the The Innovator’s Dilemma – companies (and indeed a whole industry) misses out on new waves of innovation because they are unable to capitalise on disruptive technologies.

But I also think retailers are captives of “Big Thinking”. Because they operate at scale, big thinking clouds their judgement. It’s easy to discount competitors when they generate sales that are fractions of a percentage of your business. But it’s not the percentage that’s important, its the velocity and momentum.

Hand made men’s clothing manufacturer, Gustin, illustrate this shift beautifully. They launched a Kickstarter campaign some time ago with the aim of raising $20,000. The premise was simple:

  • Capitalise on their growing brand and reputation for premium menswear hand-crafted in San Francisco
  • Allow for pre-purchasing of products through crowdsourcing – perfectly matching the demand and supply chains
  • Deliver the retail items to customers directly at wholesale price

Now, with two days before the campaign closes, Gustin have massively over-reached their goal. Currently sitting at almost $407,000, Gustin have smashed the target, connecting with almost 4000 new customers and validating not only their approach but also whole product lines.

And all this was done by taking an outside-in view of their business.

Until other retailers can transform the way they think about their business, their customers and the experience they provide, they will continue to struggle with this new world of digital.

Let Your Customers Tell the Story of Your Brand

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We have lived for many years with the illusion of control. We believed that we could:

  • Control the experience of our brand
  • Manage the way our brand was represented
  • Dictate the messaging people used when discussing our brand

To administer this, and to reinforce our sense of ownership of our brand, we created processes, guidelines and tools of management that enforced consistency, clarity and style. We measured our control in pixels and pantone colours. And we sat at our desks in the contented glow of our three ring binders, style guides and brand books.

And because we controlled the medium in which our brands were discussed (or at least paid large sums to those broadcasting our messages), we came to see this belief in control as truth. This, in time, made us happy.

And then along came the web. It was billed as a levelled playing field but it was really a simulation of what had gone before – the means of publishing production remained centralized, controlled and administered. But a new power was created. The ascendency of the geeks was underway and the promise of the world wide web remained tantalisingly close – veiled behind layers of code and techno-speak.

It was not until the advent of the social web that publishing, distribution and creation was democratized (of course, consumption is another question). Now, anyone with an internet connection (yes, even mobile), can engage in the publishing process.

This social media free-for-all remains a challenge for many brands. In fact, despite Australian audiences ranking amongst the most avid consumers of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, many companies still tread warily around the edges of social without a clear strategy to engage, participate or simply listen.

But for every story of risk and corporate fear, we also see celebrations. For whether we like it or not, our customer use the products and services we create – generating unique experiences and amazing results.

Look what happens when high school student Melody Green produces a video documentary of her school science experiment. Not only does she tell the powerful and exciting story of a young girl learning about high altitude science (should be more of it) … it generates story after story:

Getting behind this kind of momentum is a brilliant move by GoPro and the High Altitude Science folks. It’s a great example of what can happen when you do let your customers tell the story of your brand. But it’s amazing what happens when you not only let that story be told, but you actively promote that as PART of your brand.

Just think … you could do that too. Today rather than obsessing over the negative, shine a little light on the great things your customers say. It might just amaze you.