Business transformation and innovation are embedded in the DNA of UPMC (formerly University of Pittsburgh Medical Center), one of the country’s largest integrated healthcare companies. Continue reading “UPMC – Technology Enabled Business Transformation”
Raise your hand if you are in marketing and have embraced the need to deliver content across multiple media and channels. It is a virtual certainty you have. It supports SEM strategies, increases impressions and communicates multiple perspectives. Content teams are working harder than ever to deliver quality content in a variety of forms.
Now, raise your hand if your budget and resources have increased proportionately. Note to self – no raised hands are visible. So without additional resources what options remain? Work harder or work smarter ( or both is a third option of course).
The dynamics of digital content are very different than non-digital. I recognize that this is obvious, but how much have your content creation strategies changed? Not much… is the response from most organizations.
The business world still has a documents-first mindset. Oh sure, they are tweeting, some are blogging, a few are socially active, and if my email inbox is a barometer, everyone has a marketing automation tool. But the source, focus and process is typically based on a document, which marketing then repurposes across digital channels.
Repurposing content is reactive, not proactive
“Repurpose your content.” You’ve read it, I’ve read it, it is everywhere. It makes sense – at first glance. But when you look deep into your goals and digital tactics, it’s backwards. Repurposing content from high-value documents like whitepapers or eBooks, is inefficient. It’s a reactive retrofit, not a proactive strategy.
I’m not saying that your whitepaper is not valuable, just that how most create them today is inefficient considering additional digital content goals.
Engineer you content, don’t retrofit
The idea of content engineering is based on the need for scale and orchestration of message. It is an evolution guided by content, communication and promotion strategies designed to articulate value to an audience where they will find it and in a form appropriate for consumption. Fish where the fish are. The challenge (as if there is only one…) is that there is no longer a large school of fish, but many ponds and baits.
I embrace the engineering approach because it is rooted in strategy and progressive steps. Strategy is a top-to-bottom approach, defining the core conceptual message, goal and tactics. Strategy guides the framework – your message pillars that can both stand-alone and support the big idea. Each pillar has it’s own foundation and unique conversational value.
What is more unique than non-digital approaches is the idea of creating functional components from the bottom up. Developed incrementally and progressively, guided by the broader strategic message, each pillar is functional along the way and does not need to be reverse engineered to become smaller assets later.
This process is efficient and delivers incremental content throughout the process. It provides a roadmap to inter-connect supporting ideas and will often uncover relationships that were not initially obvious. Most importantly, you won’t be waiting for the completion of the ‘next big thing’ and then working backwards to extract messages and content to promote it. Instead, you’ll have time to orchestrate how it is delivered and shared with your target audience.
What is your experience – care to share?
The Consumer Revolution forces organizations to rethink the way they engage with customers. The explosion of mobile and smart devices, unified communications and an insatiable appetite for social channels (and apps dedicated to engage within them), has forever changed the terms of engagement. Continue reading “Why businesses MUST enable multi-channel customer interactions”
Improved business outcomes. Isn’t that why any business invests in technology? According to Thomas Lah, co-author of a new book, B4B – How Technology and Big Data Are Reinventing The Customer-Supplier Relationship, the focus on measured business outcomes is growing. Moreover, shared risk and responsibility for those outcomes is becoming a differentiator and a new source of revenue for systems integrators and solution providers. Continue reading “Business 4 Business – A New Model”
Lets be honest, there is nothing new about predicting the year ahead. By now you’ve no doubt encountered many projections for how our industry will evolve between now and December.
In the spirit of full disclosure, the goal of my commentary is to commit my own thoughts “for the record” so that I can return to these strategy KPI benchmarks later for measurement. Too many times have I said to myself “I predicted that” but had nothing in writing to validate my internal boasts. Enough said. Here is my list:
Google+ will gain serious momentum as an important B2B social channel
Omit Google+ at your own peril. As Google continues to refine search algorithms with emphasis on defining and empowering the semantic web, Google+ will emerge as a key channel for B2B research, digital conversations and audience engagement. It will fill the gap between personal conversations on Facebook and professional engagement on LinkedIn.
Organizations will begin to recognize the need to restructure for digital content creation and multi-channel delivery
Execution of digital marketing message, content and program strategies require more integrated team planning and execution. Traditional twentieth century organization structures were designed to market via non-digital processes and media. These legacy org structures represent silos and obstacles to capitalize on new tools, media and channels and blended digital strategies. The emphasis on measurement and improved marketing ROI will force organizations to recognize the need for structural re-alignment. Not much change will occur in 2014 but the conversation will escalate.
The document-first approach to content creation will begin its decline as the content strategies adopt a content engineering approach to optimize for multiple channels and media
Creating a white paper and then having a discussion about additional ways to leverage or “repurpose” the document is not enough. Repurposing of flagship documents, webinars, etc. will be replaced by a process that strategically plans and designs for multi-channel digital distribution rather than retro-development of a single tactic. While this won’t yet gain significant momentum, the conversation will evolve away from repurposing to strategic multi-purposing and execution in the planning stage.
Momentum for the Marketing Technologist and Data Scientist will soar
The importance of technology and user experience in any digital engagement cannot be ignored. As technology is now the delivery path for content, services and applications, achieving meaningful, audience-valued interactions will require greater collaboration and alignment between IT, marketing and other groups. Combined with the need to capture business value from volumes of data and continued pressure for meaningful marketing metrics, these two roles will be instrumental in the maturity of these goals while acting as liaisons between the traditional CMO v. CIO non-conversation.
Video will receive a greater percentage of marketing budget and will grow as a preferred communication media.
Video has reached the precipice of business acceptance. It is recognized as a powerful communications tool, but it has yet to be leveraged in practice. Barriers limiting daily video use such as the networks ability to deliver quality video, ease of adoption and creation, and user experience are falling. Video as the “killer app” is ready to assume a dominant role in business communications in ways most do not yet see.
APIs and digital platform consolidation will emerge as vital to content strategy
Context and rationalization of content aligned with both audience personas and the sales cycle are important competitive differentiators for business. To connect ‘the right’ resources that bring contextual value to the marketing mix will place increased emphasis on APIs. Consolidation of disconnected information and content sources will take time but the trend will be to recognize the need and begin a process of integration not previously acknowledged.
Curation will grow, but successful integration within messaging and content will remain dormant
There is too much content to manage and consume. Period. Automation of the process has matured and gained momentum, but only a very small minority will go the extra mile to truly optimize and integrate it within their content creation and delivery strategies.
Social listening will become a budget line item
Business is social. Social listening will soon be deemed a requirement, not an option. Recognizing that peer-to-peer conversations impact every target audience and with the integration of social into customer service platforms, listening will be emphasized. The challenge for B2B will be timely response due to lack of strategy and structure.
Apps will proliferate and have a significant impact on experience design and will influence web interface design
I see this everywhere already so maybe it’s not a fair prediction, but mobile apps have forced digital designers to jump out of their interface design box. This is long over-due and I’m thankful to mobile for a better user experience and more visual delivery of digital content. Many thanks to Apple and Ideo in particular for igniting this evolution.
Engagement goals will lead to more B2B focus and emphasis on brand communities.
Business has recognized the value of social channels and is now committed to respond. Two trends are inevitable – brand community growth and increased emphasis on measurable KPIs of this activity.
Branded communities will be the natural strategy for most mid-sized and large B2Bs. Why? Because most these brands find it hard not to focus on themselves and because it will be easier for them to manage KPIs in communities they control. The majority will not gain much traction however, because users will gravitate to communities of interest and not communities of brand.
What do you think? please share thoughts and comments.
Once upon a time, I made a less than lavish income as a painter. I pursued my love of southwestern art and a long-standing goal of painting. This page is a doorway to my WordPress southwestern art gallery containing several paintings produced during that period so that I can share with friends and family. Maybe I’ll return to fine art someday, when I’m ready to reinvent myself again. Please visit the site and share.
All of us recall events, activities and mentors that impacted our personal and professional lives. These are the experiences that shape our behavior, skills and personality, ultimately making us who we are.
One of the most memorable lessons of my education came during a drawing class I was enrolled in. I loved to draw, but sketches of the human form were not in my portfolio for a reason. So when the instructor declared our assignment of the day to be a portrait to be rendered from a photo, self-doubt was a clear undercurrent as I scanned the resource files for my photographic model.
Soon the model and I were back at our seat, poised and ready with pencil in hand. In an instant, my doubt turned to curiosity as the instructor told us to turn the photo upside down and draw the image from that perspective. I could see from a glance around the room I was not alone in my surprise.
When the exercise was finished, the results were impressive. The accuracy of my sketch was unprecedented, easily the most accurate portrait I had ever drawn. But why?
What we learned that day was that shapes and objects familiar to us are influenced by our memory and interpretation of what we see. Because we are familiar with a shape or image, the brain skips more critical study once memory tells us what it is supposed to be. By turning the image upside down, preconception of what the object looks like is eliminated and forces critical evaluation of now unfamiliar shapes, relationships and patterns.
I leverage this lesson almost every day in life and in business. It taught me to turn questions and problems upside down in order to see them more clearly and to eliminate the influence of preconception. Used in combination with my favorite question – what if, it activates an exploration of opportunities and critical evaluation of environmental factors that are sometimes easily missed. The result is inevitably a more clearly defined goal unrestricted by the sometimes-restrictive framework of familiarity.
“CIOs and CMOs should know enough about each other’s field of expertise to be interchangeable” according to Jim Davis, SAS’s global marketing chief in a recent CMO.com article.
I had to read that statement more than once.
After considering this concept further, I thought to myself why don’t we also add the CFO, COO and CEO into that prototype and include a couple of engineering PhD’s and legal counsel. Now that is an executive persona. Clone them into a board of “Mini-Me’s.”
Think of the synergy in that boardroom. No hidden agendas, no bitter debates or personality conflicts. The enterprise now has complete strategic alignment across operations, product development, IT, marketing and sales. Dream team.
Don’t get me wrong; Mr. Davis makes many important points. As a former CIO his emphasis on technology is no surprise. To be clear, I agree with the majority of his opinions. I just don’t’ agree that the CMO and CIO roles could be interchangeable.
In fact, it’s not that I completely reject the ideal of that concept. It’s just not realistic. Culturally speaking, no one sits at more distant ends of the boardroom than the CIO and CMO, assuming of course that the CMO has a seat. Their training, skills, experiences, and often personalities, are polar opposites.
Technology is a tool; it’s not the solution to marketing’s mission. There is no debate about the unprecedented potential it represents as a production, delivery and measurement mechanism, but to confuse marketing with technology is naïve and doomed to failure. And B2B technology vendors are often the worst offenders.
Marketing has become distracted by technology and automation.
Marketing is ultimately about awareness, communication, persuasion, and audience experience. It begins with a compelling message and story that delivers unique differentiation that your audience cares about. To quote Leo Burnett, effective messaging “does not just circulate information. It penetrates the public mind with desires and belief.” It is human, empathetic, and most of all, memorable.
These basic building blocks do not come in a box. The technology and the applications – they are tactical tools for delivery and measurement. Ultimately success is measured in terms of customer acquisition and retention, not the size and quality of your database or email open rates.
As a technology marketing and content strategist, I agree with Mr. Davis’ philosophy at the tactical and execution level. Marketing does need a better understanding of what’s in the technology box, and how they can use it. But do not become distracted by it. Without simple, memorable, inviting messages, it will not achieve the objective. Garbage in, garbage out, it’s just being distributed more efficiently.
The CMO and CIO are not interchangeable, but the evolution of digital technology does require that their roles and objectives be synchronized and complimentary. The digital age has also created at least one shared reality – it has forever changed the IT and marketing roles. The changes these executives have seen in the past 15 years are unprecedented, turning both their professional worlds upside down.
To succeed as business leaders in this new age, the CMO and CIO will need to transcend isolated and historic roles. As digital interactions and devices continue to mature, the two business groups will become inseparable in the customer experience conversation. Marketing and IT will represent a new business ecosystem that will ultimately be defined and measured by customer experience.
As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome additions to this conversation.
Marketing, you have become distracted; you’ve lost your focus. Somewhere along the way you lost site of your roots and abandoned your heritage. You have forgotten that content is king, communication is personal and your audience has issues and needs other than your own. They really don’t care about your goals; it is all about them. Selfish, isn’t it?
You have been seduced by technology and automation. It’s understandable, and it’s not entirely your fault. We all listen attentively to the promise of technology. We wait anxiously for the next digital release and the new roadmap to success. So does your management team.
Marketing, your distracted relationship with technology and automation at the expense of message and story will not end well. Laura Ramos eloquently captured this in a recent Forrester blog post:
“Once upon a time, there was a little marketer with a big problem. Her sales executives said, ‘We need more leads.’ So she bought a big new shiny marketing automation engine . . . Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but I’m sure we all know the end of the story. The marketing engine didn’t live up to expectations because data and content didn’t come in the box”.
I’m waiting for the culmination day when I receive the marketing automation email that simply tells me to fill in the registration form. No exchange offered, nothing of value for me, just the naked opportunity to give up my email, phone and address information and wait for the telemarketer to call.
Enchanting and powerful as technology is, it will remain a tool and not the solution. To believe it has all the answers marketing requires is both naïve and doomed to failure. But there is hope. Every pendulum swings both ways and ultimately settles into a balanced state.
Marketing is ultimately about communication, persuasion, and audience experience and success is measured in terms of customer acquisition and retention. It begins with a compelling message and content that delivers unique differentiation that your audience cares about. These basic building blocks do not come in a box; they are inherently human, emotional and memorable. The technology and applications are important tools for the digital age, but they are the mechanics, devoid of vision and empathy. Even the technology vendors realize this.
Jim Davis is the global marketing chief of technology vendor SAS. Davis is also a former CIO. In a recent CMO.com interview he makes a strong case for data-driven marketing and why marketing needs to “think more like a technologist.” He also suggests that IT needs to adopt a more strategic understanding of the business and collaborate more effectively across organizational teams to deliver solutions that align with the business objectives they support.
It is an interesting read and his fundamental message is that marketing needs a better understanding of what’s in the technology box, and how they can use it. Davis believes that to succeed in the digital age, technology is such an important foundation to marketing success that ultimately the CMO and CIO roles should be interchangeable. I don’t completely support that position but he makes some compelling points that highlight a dramatic evolution in the marketing landscape
Here are 10 important points from the interview with Jim Davis by Nadia Cameron:
- Marketing is increasingly quantifiable. Analytics will deliver better customer understanding and program insights
- Data and analytics support the decision making process, they don’t replace it
- Digital channels and touch-points are everywhere and integration is essential to efficiency and consistency
- Vendors often lead marketing into the mistake of believing the analytics and automation system just needs to be switched on to achieve results
- IT often does not truly understand the needs and requirements of marketing CRM and automation systems
- CIOs need to understand what the technology can do for the organization and how it can interact with the customer
- One of the common CMO hurdles fully leveraging data, technology and expertise is their relationship with the CIO and IT
- Recognize the silos of information within the organization and integrate them
- The emerging marketing technologist and data scientist roles can help bridge the divide between IT, the data, and marketing
- The future of the marketing-technology relationship is real-time customer interaction, with context and personalized content
Marketing delivery and response has become much more quantifiable. New tools, new channels and new tactics demand that we rethink our approach to execution. In the never ending digital evolution, marketing and IT will become increasingly dependent upon one another. But I have a very difficult time accepting that they will become interchangeable.
Marketing has become seduced by technology at the expense of its true mission – story and message. We have become increasingly focused on automation, SEO, and Google rankings at the expense of creativity and content. For marketing there has been no other choice, technology has added new overhead to the process without a matched increase in resources, many in fact working with less.
As a discipline, marketing has been forever altered by digital technologies, turned upside down in many ways. Is it science? Not in my view. Delivery and analytics is heading in that direction and technology is a powerful tool-set, but let’s not forget about what we are delivering through those tools.
Lets not forget about story and message – it remains the true mission of marketing.