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Constraints Are A Good Thing

One of the cornerstones in Buddhist teaching is the removal of the uncessecary. Why have draws full of plates and bowls when you only need one? Essentially, creating constraints frees us. James latest email from his terrific blog applies the same logic to productivity. And he is right on the money.

Meanwhile, when we place a constraint on ourselves, it can become much easier to get something done. This is especially true if it is a constraint that forces us to start small.

  • If you want to start exercising, set a rule for yourself where you are not allowed to exercise for more than 5 minutes. You have to stop exercising after 5 minutes. I talked with a reader named Mitch who used this strategy to make his first six weeks of exercise very easy and then gradually built up to doing more. He ended up losing over 100 pounds. (Nice work, Mitch!)
  • If you want to become more creative, you can use constraints to drive your creativity. For example, you could write a book by only using 50 different words. This is the strategy Dr. Seuss used to write Green Eggs and Ham. (Full story here.)
  • If you want to eat more vegetables, you could limit yourself to only one type of vegetable this week. By limiting the number of choices you have to make, it’s more likely that you’ll actually eat something healthy rather than get overwhelmed trying to figure out all of the details of the perfect diet.

A great read. Its worth subscribing to Jame’s email.

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Don’t Build Your Brand on Land You Don’t Own

John has some eloquently put advise for any brand – don’t build on land you don’t own. The spark came from this piece:

One point of frustration is Facebook’s ongoing squeezing of traffic to organic brand content. A digital agency exec described a recent meeting with Facebook that turned contentious. In what was meant to be a routine meeting, the exec said the Facebook rep told him the brands the agency works with would now have to pay Facebook for the same amount of reach they once enjoyed automatically. That position and Facebook’s perceived attitude have led to some disillusionment on Madison Avenue, where many bought into the dream peddled by Facebook that brands could set up shop on the platform as “publishers” and amass big audiences on their own….

…The cruel irony in all of this is that brands themselves greatly helped Facebook by giving it free advertising in their TV commercials and sites, urging their customers to “like” the brand — and paying Facebook to pile up likes. Facebook has returned the favor by choking off  brands’ access to those communities. That’s one expensive and frustrating lesson that it’s better to own than rent.

As consumer still embrace “free” platforms – who doesn’t like the simple utility of sharing on your favourite social platform – big brands have no excuse. They have the chops, technology and budget to build their own content streams on land they own. John puts it well:

Yup. You leased your land, Mr. Brand Marketer, and the rent’s going up. If I were you, I’d get back to your own domain. Spend your money building something worthy, then spend to drive people there. Your agencies have entire creative and media departments that are good at just such practices. They might even spend a fair amount carefully purchasing distribution through Facebook’s streams. I’m guessing Facebook will be happy to take your money. But there’s no point in paying them twice.

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Four Simple Things For 2014

I’m not a big one for New Year’s Resolutions. Why wait a year for something you ought to start today? The question is where to start.

The announcements unfolding at CES would be enough to provide any of us with a marketing technology agenda for 2014. 

Unfortunately you’d have long list of hyperbole, hot ideas and resulting sense of hopelessness. Personal tracking devices were all the range and yet apparently research says nobody wants them. Google Glasses nested on plenty of foreheads just as pundits penned columns proclaiming their inevitable demise. 

And then there were lightbulbs. Bulbs that dimmed and changed colour at the touch of your phone’s screen. We are all going to have them apparently. But at the princely sum of $250 a piece I’ll be waiting awhile for them to go mainstream at CostCo.

CEO after CEO proclaimed everything is going to be connected. Fridges, planes, lightbulbs and even you. We are all going to come together in a beautiful Internet of Things. 

I’m not so sure.

The visionaries at CES have clearly never tried to get connectivity at hotels on a regular basis, or, had to pay for their own phones or data plans. Little of this is going to achieve scale unless the people who provide the Internet in the Internet of things can make money through related services to fund reliable, low cost connectivity to the masses.

Similarly, marketers excited about all the new screens on which messages can be delivered need to refocus their attention on building the technology platforms on which marketing runs. It’s time for focus less on what runs on the platform and more on the platform itself.

2014 is the year in which to get it done. Here are four simple steps that will drive immediate results in 2014.

First, deploy the core marketing operations platform. Excitingly an Australian company is at the top of the leaderboard here. What Salesforce did for CRM and Marketo for marketing automation, Simple is set to do for marketing operations. 

Simply put, Simple enable marketers to run marketing – from allocating budget, briefing agencies, reviewing and editing creative through dashboarding results – from a familiar, Twitter-like interface on virtually any device. Major Australian brands are flocking to them to realise productivity, efficiency and sanity gains.

Second, unify CRM and Marketing Automation. Salesforce made a big move in 2013 with the acquisition of ExactTarget to bring more outbound marketing capabilities to CRM. Marketo does the same with a historical strength in both inbound and outbound marketing. So whatever your preference, don’t wait for CRM platforms to do what they can’t do – marketing. Get your marketing automation platform deployed and integrated.

Third, listen and respond harder. Elements of analytics will always be done by specialists like Deloitte, Beyond Analytics, Palintir and MuSigma. All four are growing fast in Australia as marketers look to use their loyalty and transaction data to better meet customers in the market with timely and relevant offers. Define the initiative, carve the budget out and get going now.

At the same time, put your own listening platforms in place. Platforms like Radian 6 are powering greater insights into the chatter across Twitter, Facebook and more. The voice of the customer needs to be heard more loudly than ever in organisations – armed with with these platforms, Marketers become the champions for these voices.

Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, marketing’s accountability needs to be improved not through mindlessly complex spreadsheets and a ever-shifting set of metrics but systems that point to where the next dollar should go. And not just within marketing but within the business as a whole.

Big brands will swing to offerings from companies like Marketshare. With data in-hand, expertise on tap, and compute capacity in the cloud, marketers will become drivers of business performance on the basis of the insights they delivered. They will tweak and challenge the historical behaviours of their businesses.

For some of us the “things” in the Internet of Things are exciting and quick to drain our wallets. 

But all of us who love this marketing game cannot afford to ignore these four simple steps if we are to reduce cost and complexity, focus our efforts, better meet customers in the market and free dollars to innovate and compete. 

Make 2014 the year.

  • Learned

Read This: Social & Internet Stats

  • Inspired

How You Do Things Matters

Here’s an interesting list of trends from the recent Ad Exchangers’ summit. Its a great list. I’d argue there is a big one missing.

And that is to do with automating the business of marketing. How we do things as marketers needs to be automated and moved to the cloud – this will in turn free up capacity to embrace these trends.The category has an entirely uninteresing monkier – Marketing Resource Management – think of it as Marketing Effectiveness Engine.

  1. Is 1:1 interaction with your audience actually necessary? Is 1:some actually fine? Research shows that marketers are not sure about the payoff of a segmented versus individualized approach. Joanna O’Connell, Director of Research, AdExchanger
  2. “Programmatic”, or a way of automating the buy and sell process, was the word of the day. Panelists agree that people always will create demand, but the demand can then be processed by technology.
  3. Native Ads are on the rise. To combat “banner blindness and skipped pre-roll ads”, marketers are increasing the level of programmatic digital advertising. -Rebecca Lieb, Industry Analyst, The Altimeter Group
  4. Measure Native Ad effectiveness against paid, earned, and owned media convergence. Start measuring somewhere or you’ll never know what works. -Lieb
  5. It’s time for marketers to act, not just think, like real publishers. “Be omnipresent but not superfluous,” noted Jonathan Hunt, Head of Digital Strategy, Vice. “Cater to where your future audience actively consumers, creates, and shares what’s most important to them.”
  6. Empathy is the key to going viral. The sharing mindset goes beyond keywords and tags, and is emotional based. Smart content in marketing embraces this factor. –Jonah Peretti, Founder and CEO, BuzzFeed
  7. Mobile is a marketing must. Prepare to embrace integrated, contextual, and experiential strategic mobile marketing. Jenny Wise, Mobile Marketing Analyst, Forrester Research
  8. Cross-Device Linkage metrics are increasingly important for some business models to analyze. AOL Networks is seeing that with brand advertisers 45% of display spend is going cross-linkage, according to CEO Bob Lord.
  9. Publications are still untapped grounds to support your earned media strategy. Think The New York Times “PAID POST” where brands share thought leadership content in a natural discovery environment. -Michael Zimbalist, VP, R&D, The New York Times
  10. Centralizing data sources is key to your engagement strategy. Understanding how to develop a universal customer profile is critical to delivering on the promise of relevance and value. –Kevin Akeroyd, GM, Oracle Marketing Cloud
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