What is your investment dollar doing?

Hats off to InstituteB for this little gem they tweeted out today:

IB Tweet of video

Let the chuckling begin…


Using Heartbeats and Remarkables to drive conversions #dstrategy

Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Seth Godin may have come up with the concept, but it’s the folks at Capulet who are activating “Heartbeats” and “Remarkables” through their digital strategy agency working with tech and non-profit clients.

What are “Heartbeats”?

  • marketing activities conducted on a daily basis
  • how we engage with our community, members, and customers
  • Facebook, email, Twitter…all part of our daily routine
  • Problem?…these channels are all stuffed. Crammed full of information. Messages getting lost. Impossible to stand out.

What are “Remarkables”?

  • big “wow” factor campaigns
  • ideas that draw people in
  • fun, edgy, creative
  • activities that can drive donations, petition signings, etc.

So how do these work together to drive conversions? Well, imagine this: where remarkables bring people in to the bottom rung of the engagement latter driven by an initial, “wow” conversion activity, heartbeats bring them up the latter through other micro-conversion activities seen through our daily routine marketing activities.

What does a Remarkable look like?…

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The Art of Marketing (2012) Recap – Part 4


Biz Stone is the original hipster. This guy is fantastic to listen to and although his thesis was somewhat lost in his presentation, it didn’t really matter though. You know why? Well, as my colleague Ron would say, “it’s because we always forgive the experts”. Biz is enlightening, inspiring, and very entertaining. He comes across dry and somewhat shy, but his message is strong and meaningful.

Biz on Failure:

To succeed big, you have to be ready to fail big.

Biz on Opportunity:

Opportunity can be manufactured.

Creativity is a renewable resources.

Success means you need to be emotionally invested in your product. Love it, or people will give up.

Biz on Change:

Change is not a triumph of technology; it is a triumph of humanity.

(I think you should pause and go back and read that again. Very profound)

Biz on Altruism:

Consumers AND talented employees are attracted to meaning. Spend money on making a difference. Altruism has a compound impact.Change the world. Make money. Do so joyfully.

I made only one single note on murmuration and it was this:

the many become one.

It made me think back, however, to a fantastic video I saw not that long ago in which Don Tapscott (“Growing Up Digital”) discusses murmuration and the macrowikinomics environment. It’s worth taking a look at this – it may be the most beautiful thing you look at today.

The Art of Marketing (2012) Recap – Part 3

Randi Zuckerberg’s self-introduction is priceless:

Unlike the other Zuckerberg, I went to Harvard and graduated with a degree.

There’s absolutely no doubt that Randi is a tech-guru: she lives, breathes, and thinks technology all day long and in her presentation she showed us some fascinating trends in technology. Instead of regurgitating her list, I’ll summarize some of the themes that stood out to me the most. How do you make it in tech these days? Well, consider at least one of the following when carving out your own business strategy. 

  1. Use a demand-lead marketing approach. Start small, roll-out incrementally. Build a critical mass. Think: Gmail, Pinterest, and Fab. All of these brands fabricated scarcity.
  2. Involve User base in design. From translation app’s to Facebook outsourcing its site translation (it only took users 48hrs to translate Facebook into French and Spanish; and only 24hrs for the site to be translated into Farsi).
  3. Create a Hacker Culture. Keep the magic alive and recruit for this kind of passion and creativity. Give employees the room they need to be innovative and imaginative even if it means staying up all night.
  4. The power of social. Our friends hold us accountable to our goals which is why the social aspect in so many new app’s and sites work. Whether I’ve promised to run 10 miles or lose 10 pounds, when I put my goals “out there” I’m more accountable to them. Example: Nike’s Cheer On app.
  5. Choose one things on mobile and do it really well. No, you don’t need to translate a whole site to mobile. 
  6. Consider “Collaborative Consumption”. Apps such as Task Rabbit and Cherry are all about outsourcing what you have neither the time nor interest in doing. From having your car cleaned to having someone assemble your unassembled IKEA furniture, it’s all about outsourcing and making a job for someone else.
  7. From crowd-sourcing to crowd-funding; fund-raising to friend-raising. Technology is enabling rapid changes to existing business models and in particular to raising funds. Kickstarter and Rags to Radio are both popular examples of the role of “social” in helping businesses and individuals turn ideas into reality.
  8. Build Loyalty. Maybe the best line of the day came when Randi said, “loyalty programs of the future don’t offer points, but instead offer emotional connections.”
  9. Today’s economy is a sharing economy. Purchasing is turning to renting as we see an explosion in business models like Rent the Runway and AIRBNB: from gowns to vacation home rentals, why buy when you can share?


The Art of Marketing (2012) Recap – Part 2

If you haven’t had the opportunity to listen to Mitch Joel speak, make it your next priority. He is engaging, insightful, funny, and enlightening. I like how Mitch thinks: he can bring everyday examples to sometimes complicated concepts and distill things down in an entertaining and consumable portion of take-away knowledge.

Mitch had a few really good nuggets from the conference: I’ll share them in point form below.

Mitch Joel

1. Owning the relationship: a great opening question about “who owns the relationship” with the consumer? When a consumer product is available for sale on a retailer’s website which can be accessed through Facebook…ask yourself, who owns the relationship with the consumer? Is it Facebook? The retailer? The consumer brand? Mitch argues that the brand needs to own the relationship: Disintermediation (one of my favourite all-time buzz words that I love teaching to my marketing students) not only means removing channel players from the distribution of physical goods, but it also means removing channel players from owning the relationship with consumers. You build it, you own it. Stay true to it.

A great example of disintermediation also comes to us via Kickstarter: the world’s largest online funding platform of creative projects. If you haven’t checked out this site do it NOW. You’ll thank me later. And be sure to read up on some of the amazing success stories that have come from Kickstarter

2. Sex with Data: say what??? A real Mitch-ism if I ever did hear one; the term “Sex with Data” refers to companies, like Amazon, who are having a field day collecting all sorts of personal data about its users and consumers in an effort to improve personalization in its marketing process. As consumers we forfeit our privacy for “apps” that give us value. An example: Price Check for iPhone is an app that consumers download and use as a scanner when shopping. They can scan the barcode of nearly any consumer product, then the app will compare the price against Amazon’s. The consumer can then decide to buy it on the spot, or get it from Amazong.

Brilliant. Amazon is effectively using its own consumers to gather critical market research information for its own use. To better serve it’s market while keeping an eye on the competition. This isn’t just sex with data people, this is a full-on orgy.

3. Creating Utility: as marketers, we know all about utility, after all, we drill this into our students day one in our Intro Marketing course. We understand form, time, place, and ownership utility. But do we really understand the practicality of creating utility for our customers? Fortunately, does. One of the first and fast growing social commerce web sites, allows users to, “share, buy, like, and tweet” what they are buying. Even back in 2011, Forbes wrote that is, “to Groupon what Facebook is to MySpace”. The social aspect of is what makes it a hit. Online consumers want to share. They want to connect. And they want to follow.

Need another example of utility? Ok, let’s talk about public toilets. Gross. Nasty. No thank you. Well, thanks to a handy iPhone app called, “Sit or Squat”, travelers on-the-go can now find a clean and decent washroom in nearly any corner of the world. What better way for travelers to reduce their anxiety in a desperate time of need in an unfamiliar place? Have you guessed who makes the app? Utility all the way…

Thanks Mitch, as always it was a pleasure.

The Art of Marketing (2012) Recap – Part I

This year’s, The Art Of Marketing (“TAOM”) had a very impressive line up of speakers. Some of the content was recycled from past presentations that I’ve blogged about previously (Mitch Joel, Scott Stratten), so I will instead highlight some of the new ideas, technologies, and tricks of our trade. 

David Usher


First up was David Usher…yes, the David Usher. If you were a music fan of the 1990’s then you know just who I’m talking about. Former lead singer of the popular alternative Canadian band, “Moist”, David walked us through creativity and the creative process as he sees it. As it turns out, song writing isn’t that much unlike marketing in that the creativity involved requires about 5% inspiration and 95% hard work (or “grit” as David calls it). 

The excusees for not being more creative can also be summarized as follows:

  1. Listening to the wrong voices in our head: As children we don’t see obstacles; everything is an opportunity to unleash our creative potential and embrace our joy for life and creation. As adults, our child’s voice has quieted and another voice has taken over telling us not to “stand out”, or “take risks”, or “step out of the boundaries”. Creativity means we need to suspend our adult voices and listen to our inner child. Stand out. Take risks. Colour outside of the lines.
  2. The Beavis & Butthead Treatment: I love this description. Although Moist became a huge success in Canada, they didn’t fair as well in the US. David showed us a video of the animated duo, “Beavis & Butthead” critiqueing Moist’s music on one of their shows and the feedback was very unpleasant. Our fear of failure is only over-shadowed by our fear of criticism from our peers or those even outside of our industry. You’ll never please everyone, so stop trying.
  3. Time & Space: Always in deficit, time and space is a perfect excuse to put creativity on hold. David demonstrated this by playing an audio recording of himself practicing a song in his home studio. In the background of him singing and playing accoustic guitar you could hear his young daughter singing along (or to something else entirely – hard to tell), then coming into his studio asking, “Daddy, daddy, where is my Princess Dress? You know, the one I wore to that party. And my high heels?…” Time and space…make the best of what you have now. The perfect conditions for creativity DO NOT exist. Those of you with small kids know exactly what I’m talking about.

Creativity is really about having the “right” kind of attitude: the willingness to change. It means being adaptive, optimistic, and hard working. 

David talks about being a “scientist” when it comes to the creative process: Collect ideas, move things around. Test. Build. Experiment. Await the Creative Collision: the “flash” that comes when you know you have nailed it down. The hard work he refers to is the 95% effort involved in turning that “flash” into something you can Build & Ship.

So what is creativity? It’s grit, grind, discipline, and a little bit of luck. 

On fostering innovation

On the heels of my discussion with my first year marketing students about “first mover advantage” (and disadvantage), I have just come across a quote and a blog post about innovation; each of which has given me a lot to think about.

So I shall share them both and let you ponder the topic of innovation and how you are cultivating this in your company, strategy, or life.

First, the quote:

On why big tech companies fail:

“The company does a great job, innovates and becomes a monopoly or close to it in some field, and then the quality of the product becomes less important. The company starts valuing the great salesmen, because they’re the ones who can move the needle on revenues, not the product engineers and designers.” 

– Steve Jobs

Second, the blogpost:

Why Innovation Is a Big Deal” – by Peter Aceto, CEO of ING Direct Canada

To summarize part of Aceto’s post, here are four key ways of cultivating innovation in the organization:

Remove the hierarchy obstacle. In other words, foster autonomy. The best ideas come from those closest to customers, and traditionally executives are furthest away. Let others hold the keys to decision-making and allow for cross-functional roles to ensure a well-rounded view of industry and customer needs.

Let mistakes happen. Be comfortable with the mistakes, because failure is an important lesson. It helps modify and adjust ideas and reassess objectives. But don’t fail too often because you risk losing your confidence. Simplify the strategy as much as possible. Involve more people early. Make incremental changes.

Allow time for adoption. Comfort around change is not expected. You may experience backlash, particularly if the innovation involves behaviour change, but human beings do adapt. In the words of Steve Jobs “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

 Balance speed and thoughtfulness. Getting something done is good. Getting it done right is better. You shouldn’t need 18 months to execute a new strategy, but you do want to be mindful of making hasty decisions. Don’t let speed cost you a great idea. Fight for quality.

A Day at the Art of Marketing

Yesterday I attended The Art of Marketing in downtown Vancouver. A one-day conference filled with 5 well-known marketing industry leaders and authors. Let’s be totally honest…I was really only there to see my real-life hero, Avinash Kaushik who I discovered a year ago while researching web analytics. Avinash writes an incredible blog called Occam’s Razor and I dare you to go there and not fall in love!

Back to the conference.

Ron Tite (@rontite) served as MC for the event and did a fantastic job warming up the audience (the Canucks jersey certainly didn’t hurt). Ron spoke about the “new” rules of marketing…or more accurately, the lack thereof. As marketers, we don’t necessary all play by the same rule book: unlikely hockey players for example. Some hit hard, some skate slow, and some stay on the bench. Ron’s analogies were effective and compelling and his ability to reach out and engage with the audience was outstanding.

A “Why To” not “How To” discussion about the Future of Marketing

Mitch Joel (@mitchjoel), author of “Six Pixels of Separation” was our first speaker and set a very, very, high bar. “Where is marketing going?”, asked Mitch. At the heart of this disruptive time is the core reality that consumers are leading the revolution, not marketers. Marketing is undergoing a major reboot – CTRL + ALT + DEL (Mac users: nevermind) – and the platforms serving us today require a completely different approach. What we should stop doing is trying to retro-fit the old methods. It’s time to move towards the new models of marketing which consumers are using, sharing, inventing, and demanding.

Mitch makes an excellent point when he says that the “new consumer” is practically unrecognizable from just two years ago. Think about it: how have you changed in your demand for, and access of, timely relevant information. How quickly do you grab your mobile device to get immediate information on movies, or a product, or a meaningless piece of trivia nagging your brain? Consumers have changed nearly at the same pace as the app industry. And damn, that’s fast.

So what does Mitch call this new era of marketing? He refers to it as, “The Connected Consumer Strategy”, and I’ll say this now…it changes everything in the marketing communications ballgame. During this part of his presentation I sent out this tweet:

Screen shot of my tweet about Mitch Joel's book 6 Pixels of Separation

I wonder if anyone heard it? Hmm…

The Connected Consumer Strategy is all about the mobile user and optimizing:

  • the mobile experience
  • the digital experience

After all, the stats regarding the purchases of mobile devices vs non-mobile are clearly showing a strong trend towards digital mobility. And guess what? Brands aren’t leading the charge on social media or marketing. Consumers are. Mobile, digitally-tuned in, consumers. Are you ready for them?

Strategy & Creativity

William Taylor (@practicallyrad) opened with a powerful, thought-provoking question that we should all be asking ourselves:

Can you persuasively tell your audience why they should be your customer?

Yikes. The reality is, most front-line workers can’t. From retailers to bank tellers…marketers, sales, and customer service all struggle with answering this question in a succinct and meaningful way. What’s missing is an intimate understanding of a brand’s value proposition: moreover, a thorough understanding of the VALUES represented by the brand. It’s companies like Zappos and Fido who have redefined value propositions that are compelling and relevant (not to mention authentic) for their customers: imagine…an Internet company that actually provides a phone number and encourages you to call it, and then a human picks it up and talks to you (unscripted!!!). This is what Taylor calls “humanizing core capabilities”. It’s simple, it’s brilliant, and it’s so over-looked. It’s also a completely new look at customer service. People, pay attention here: customer service IS marketing. Do it right and you will be rewarded.

Taylor leaves us with another great concept that addresses leadership. He challenges us to think like a “solution finder” instead of a “problem solver”. Seriously, problems are not that unique. Come on Mr. and Mrs. CEO…your problems are being experienced and shared world-wide and have already been conquered. Find solutions; ask others, gain their input & insight, hell crowdsource this if you need to. But stop locking yourself and your ego in a boardroom and thinking this is all on you. This, Taylor says, is how today’s New Leaders think.

Web Revolution

It’s no secret that Avinash Kaushik (@avinash) was the main feature for me at this event. I’ve written several blog posts used for teaching and sharing knowledge about basic analytics, with all concepts borrowed from Avinash’s book, Web Analytics 2.0. What’s great about seeing him present is that he speaks like he writes; it’s all coming from the same bundle of funny, intense, passionate, energy. Avinash is a true natural and he knows how to bring the humanity (and humour) into analytics. This my friends is pure genius.

Consider an online video. Google’s, Parisian Love, for example:

How did this make you feel? Happy? Sentimental? Did it make you smile? And did you feel like sharing it? The statistics tell a story about this video:

Screen shot of Analytics of Google's video Parisian Love

But the fine print tells another one:

Screen shot of Parisian Love's Likes & dislikes

What Avinash wants us to understand is that sure there is data and there are lots and lots of stats out there, but we need to hone in on “metrics that matter”. Incremental metrics, not just the well-known ones (my God – do not say HITS or Page Views or else lightening will come find you), such as “Likes” and “Dislikes” tell a very important story. Look, it’s all about measuring the data that tells you you’ve made a connection with people. This is what Avinash is encouraging us to measure.

There are many other metrics that we should all be wrapping our heads around in the analytics world:

  1. Bounce rates (as in, “I came, I puked, I left”)
  2. Task Completion Rate
  3. Message Amplification (Retweets that tell us about engagement & velocity and show us the “ripple effect”)
  4. Conversation Rate (a measure of “shouting” vs “conversation”)
  5. Network Influence Size (measure of the “2nd level network; eg. followers of your followers. This gives us “True Reach”)

To be blunt, which Avinash is and this is why we love him, you want to be measuring outcomes that impact Social Value and Economic Value. One of the best lines of the day was when he explained that measuring incrementally is critical: by running controlled experiments you can “fail faster” (or #failfaster as he put it). Smart isn’t it? Find out which metrics matter, which ones impact your key outcomes, track the data to tell the story of your successes (or, failures).

There is no title for this presentation

No one made a stronger more memorable impact than the fourth speaker of the day, Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee). Author of “Crush It” and “The Thank You Economy”, Gary came out and hit us hard in the front, the back, the side, and on top with his profanity-based honest perspective of the (marketing) world we live in today. It’s a shame no one had an f-bomb meter running, I suspect we could have collected enough money to pay for drinks afterwards.

What I most enjoyed about Gary’s presentation was his fresh look at disintermediation. You just gotta be a nerd to love this stuff. Changing business models and distribution channels fascinate me and the role (new) technology plays in this context is something I could talk or read about for hours. The communication channels today are rewriting the rules and consumers have even more direct access to upward channel players than ever before. So what role are retailers playing? What value are they bringing to the consumer? You either are, or you aren’t…and if you aren’t, then game over.

Alas, a quote from Gary:

Sure, content is king. But context is queen and that b*tch runs the house.

Boom! There you go, that’s probably the cleanest quote I can provide from Gary’s presentation.

How to Create Enchantment

I hate this title almost as much as I hated this presentation. Yes, I know, strong words. Sorry folks, but this presentation delivered by Guy Kawasaki (@guykawasaki) was #NOTenchanting. I found it to be pretentious, demeaning, and at times, patronizing. It was both the content and the delivery of the content that offended and disappointed me. It read like a biz school student presentation – no wait – I’ve seen better in business school – so let me just say that it was completely off mark and anti-climactic after such a #winning day.  😉

A glimpse into my frustration:

My tweets during Guy Kawasaki's presentation

Guy put forth a numeric list of “to do’s” so we can all learn how to be enchanting. From ‘how to’ dress for our audience (yes, seriously) to ‘how to’ reciprocate with our neighbours in order to get something in return (gak), it was all straight from decades past. I’d like to try to find at least one nugget amongst the irrelevant story telling, name dropping, and ass kissing: Ah, here it is… “Tell a Story”. Ok, I get that. Storytelling has long been perceived as marketing’s long-lost and often forgotten younger step-sibling. The power of framing your values, your vision, your brand in the context of a story is practiced by many: Rick Hansen Foundation, Lululemon, 3M…they’ve all done it and done it well.


But the rest of the day was pure gold.