Ahead of the Curve, GDR Trends Reports
A host of emerging technologies are being enthusiastically embraced by rapidly growing numbers of digitally savvy consumers. Leading brands and retailers should be harnessing these technologies to create engaging experiences and practical tools that enrich consumers' lifestyles. If they are to stay ahead of the game, brands must explore and intergrate these new developments.
How are you looking at innovation today?
Is it something that you reject because it doesn’t fit with your business model, or fear because we are only just coming out of recession?
Ask yourself now: Am I really connecting with my audience? With more and more people becoming ‘digital natives’, staying ahead of the curve is critical to a brand's success. As such, brands should be exploring emerging technologies in order to create experiences that make digitally savvy consumers want to engage with them.
Far-sighted brands realise that being innovative during a bad economy is a great way to gain a leadership position. While everyone else is pulling back, brands must work out how to open up. It may even be the right time to form a new company or spin-off brand.
There is no such thing as a ‘no risk’ position, and hanging on to an existing business model may leave brands and retailers vulnerable to competitors that are more open to innovative thinking. Take the case of the old encyclopedias. When I was growing up, the Encyclopedia Britannica was Google and the world wide web of information. However, the company did not adjust in time to a world in which information could be disseminated online. They couldn’t see the big picture. Today, instead of being Google, they’re relegated to a back seat at best.
Are you Just Hunting, Event Marketer
It’s not just a cliché, it is a new world. The problem is, if you listen to the language of marketing, it sounds a lot like the language of a hunt. It’s about capturing the audience, capturing “eyeballs.” Capture audiences everywhere and claim that as success. I know it’s not a pretty image, but I keep seeing the pictures that were used years ago to protest seal hunts—except that now the marketing community is holding the clubs and the consumers are the seals.
The Brand As Experience, Marketing at Retail
When you look at the profound changes occurring in both the retail and media spaces it's only logical to explore how they are going to impact each other. The first place to look is the technology that it is driving much of the change on both fronts. And the key to success in harnessing technology for marketing or sales is to realize that technology has to be focused on creating a better experience for the consumer, not for the retailer.
Audiences have come to expect dynamic environments in everything that they do. They watch content when they want to. They receive information when they want it. The have bought into just-in-time marketing. When they are bored with our content, they make their own. So as you look at the technologies on the retail horizon, think about how you could use them to create something more unique for the consumer. Dan Pink, writing for Yahoo Finance, recently had this to say:
"Today, utility is abundant. We have more products and services than we can handle, and most function just fine. To stand out in a crowded marketplace, sellers must make a dramatic leap in utility-or stand out in some other way. They can try to compete on price, but that usually ends in a downward death spiral. So the alternative is to compete not on left-brain attributes like price and functionality, but on right-brain qualities such as emotion, meaning, and look and feel. Case in point: Target sells toilet brushes and vegetable scrubbers designed by superstar architect Michael Graves. Even the most mundane, utilitarian objects in our lives have been turned into objects of desire."
Continue reading The Brand as Experience
The New Face of Retail, Marketing at Retail
In many retailers today you'll have a hard lime finding staff that can tell you where things are. But recently I've been visiting stores in our SoHo neighborhood where the employees can not only tell you where things are, but they can also tell you where they came from, how they were made, and anything else you could think to ask. Is this the new face of retail?
Are You Telling a Great Story, Entertainment Management
Last December I was asked to make a presentation at the Brand Masters conference in Ft. Lauderdale—my first workshop on brand storytelling. Faced with an audience that would rather be by the pool, I asked if we could move my session outside to the pool bar. No surprise—no resistance.
Now I just had to worry about enthralling them with a 60-minute session on storytelling and how it relates to such current buzzwords as branding, brand experiences, CRM and the like.
Well, close to two hours later, I was still engaged in a lively dialogue about the importance of storytelling in the business world. And no, we didn’t go almost double the allotted time because I’m long winded; I asked at the right time if we should stop and the audience said no. How many times have you seen that happen at a conference?
Guest Feature, Ideations
It seemed a simple enough announcement:
P-O-P Times sat down with Evan Anthony, Kroger’s corporate vice president of marketing and advertising, to discuss roll-out plans for an ambitious, integrated network that will turn the nation’s largest supermarket chain into a “media company.” (Emphasis mine)
To be fair to Kroger, they are not the only retailer thinking this way. Steve Heyer, formally CMO at Coke, has been saying that Starwood Hotels are a media channel as well. This seems to be pretty standard thinking for retailers today—or anyone with a location that can now become a media dynasty!
Creating the Great, Good Places, Entertainment Management (I wrote this piece soon after 9-11 to discuss the importance of the social experiences we can create.)
As I write this, it’s been just three weeks since the tragic events here in New York. I have had a difficult time getting back into my normal swing of things. Thankfully I have not suffered any direct losses as a result of the World Trade Center attack, although I live in a place just outside of New York that lost many members of its community.
In the weeks after the attacks, I spoke to many colleagues in the entertainment marketing field who all asked the same question: How do we go back to our business in the face of such a tragedy? What we do seems so trivial in the face of such tragedy…so unimportant. I, too, asked the same questions and wondered how I would get back to "business as usual" after these events.
A Short Detour on the Information Highway
I just went to my first grocery store that had the self-service check out system. If you haven’t seen this system, it’s pretty cool. Even my wife, who doesn’t get as excited about all of this new technology as I do, had a great time with this system. But you know what? I know the grocery store will use this as a chance to fire staff, rather then figure out other ways to use people—not unlike ATM machines, which were originally marketed by banks in terms of the cost savings that would be passed on to customers. Now they’re charging for ATM withdrawals—and deposits. No matter how cool this system is, it will never replace a great cashier who knows how to say hi and make you really enjoy your shopping experience.
Tripping Over Technology
CRM is often used as a tool to help the company touch the customer. Unfortunately, customer service is all about the customer touching the company! Many companies implement CRM to add bottom-line savings or to provide better sales opportunities. If that’s the case, it should really be called PRM -- Profit Relationship Management. CRM has little to do with the customer, and even less to do with the relationship. In fact, it often stands in the way of customer relations.
At the end of the day, it’s the people, not the technology, that will make or break the relationship. My all-time worst experience? Being told by Jim Keating, a Customer Service Supervisor at AT&T Wireless that “it’s not our responsibility to meet your customer service expectations!” With all the dollars AT&T has spent on CRM, how long do you think it took before I found another company who would meet my expectations?
Increased business value used to be a byproduct of good customer service. Today customer service is a byproduct of trying to increase the business value. Consumers are smart. If you want to look into a crystal ball for your company’s future, take a look at where you fall. If you’re closer to lip service than real service, get your resume out today. Your future doesn’t look very good!