Opinions And Ramblings By Adam Kmiec On All Things

Tag Archives: Planning

Improve The Customer Experience, By Asking, What Is The Intent?

There’s a lot to look at when evaluating the “creative” that will reach a customer. From logos to the colors and from the photo to the call to action, there’s no shortage of things to review, critique and optimize. When you think about all the creative elements needed to support an integrated marketing campaign, this can really add up. You have the TV, print and radio elements. Then, there’s the video, banner and social components. Don’t forget about the email, paid search and in-store signage. It’s a lot to absorb.

With so many campaign assets to keep track of, it’s no wonder that we get a bit myopic when we review an individual piece of creative. “Checking” an individual piece, often means we lose sight of the overall campaign. We miss out on how this campaign is supposed to feel. We lose the ability to see how consistent all the touch points are.

This has nothing to do with this post. I just liked it.

Several years back, in an effort to fix this narrow approach to creative reviews, marketers created, “table” or “wall” reviews to regain the ability to see the forrest and not just the individual tree. Each and every piece of creative would be laid out, at the same time in a “war room” of sorts. The amount of paper that was killed in the name of “taking it all in, like the consumer will” was tragic. This approach, created great excitement in an organization, but was ultimately more sizzle, than steak.

Of late, our team is being asked, “what is the intent” of “this” element of the campaign. For example, if we have a holiday email set to deliver on 12/7 and another on 12/23, it’s not good enough that they:

  1. Have the right subject line, right offers, a proofread headline and all the necessary legal/compliance information.
  2. Look like they’re in-step with our branding standards, from the colors to the photography and from the logo to the font.

Please, don’t misunderstand. Those are important areas of focus. Indeed, we have to see the forrest (big picture) and the trees (each detail). But, increasingly, it’s becoming more imperative to first ask, “what is the intent?” That question is designed to help us understand what we’re trying to accomplish with a specific piece of creative and then link it to both the big picture and nitty gritty details. For example, if the 12/23 email is all about last minute gift ideas, would it make sense to include an offer for something that takes 7 days to get delivered? Probably not, even though, that offer is probably 100% factual and visually, in line with the overall look and feel of the campaign.

“What is the intent” is making us more accountable for the overall customer experience. When we have to think about the intent of something, we improve on how we’re evaluating what’s placed before us. We begin to see the connection between what we want the customer to do and how well we’re designing an experience that will elicit that action.

There’s no silver bullet for how to review something. But, starting with the question, “what is the intent” is a simple way to improve the effectiveness of your review process.

What I’m Noodling On, Post CES

I like CES. In general you can get a lot out of any event if you know what to expect, are realistic, come in with a clear agenda and focus. This applies to CES, SXSW, iMedia, etc. I hadn’t been to a CES in years. Not for lack of interest, but because I generally reward my staff by sending them to summits. It’s a great way to acknowledge efforts and build morale. Anyhow, CES, is massive. You can get lost if you don’t focus on the signal and avoid the bright shiny objects.

No doubt there will be plenty of analyst recaps about the good, the bad and the ugly of the past few days. I’d encourage you to seek those out; they’ll broaden your knowledge base and give you food for thought. I’m not an analyst nor am I a futurist. I’m a geek and I’m generally pragmatic. So my interests are a bit different than Mashable’s.

So, here’s the 3 things I took away that have broad implications for today’s business.

1. We’re moving into the post mobile world. It seems crazy to say that, since so many of us feel like we’re just starting to get comfortable with mobile and its potential. Let me put a sharper point on this concept. For the past few years, mobile has grown as a stand-alone channel. We had email, texting/SMS, enterprise functions, mobile web, apps, etc. As marketers we covered all those bases and more. Now, with smartphone penetration well over 50% and mobile devices more powerful than computers from a few years ago, companies are rethinking what mobile can do. Instead of mobile being a channel, it’s becoming an enhancer of the experience. For example, there are new cable boxes and TVs coming out that allow your phone to control the entire experience, like a super remote. And, that super remote will bring content that syncs with the shows and enhances the viewing experience. Additionally, car companies are playing with the idea of allowing your phone experience to be replicated on the in-car digital display. This means all your contacts (something we’ve had for years through Bluetooth), all your music, all your apps and more.

2. The battleground is shifting to the car. With consumers spending 1.5 hours a day in their car commuting and cars becoming the gathering table on the weekends when all the kids and your spouse pile in to run errands, technology companies and automakers are shifting their attention to the car experience. Ford announced a partnership with USA Today to bring the USA Today “app” to Ford cars. That, isn’t a game changer. The game changer is that Ford, USA Today and Microsoft collaborated so that the USA Today content could be read to the driver over the car’s audio system. To make that work, talent rights and compensation models for distribution changed, seemingly, over night. Cars have had GPS for some time, but that GPS wasn’t used in the dynamic way like the GPS in your phone. Expect to see real-time data being streamed into the car to inform and persuade the user.

3. Syndication over Destination. It’s no surprise we have more media fragmentation than we’ve ever had. TV, DVR, mobile, social, print and on and on make it difficult to “target” and “drive” consumers to where we want them to go. That’s the old model; it looks like a funnel. Whe you take a funnel approach to marketing (not digital, but marketing in general), fragmentation is your enemy. But, if you think about medium being irrelevant, so long as the message is absorbed, fragmentation become a friend, because it becomes syndication. We heard from twitter, Arianna Huffington, CNET and others; the message was clear and consistent (perhaps a first from media publishers): focus on creating content designed to be shared and consumed across the web. This is leading some brands to organize teams representing marketing, communications, social and media like a newsroom. It’s also leading to companies re-examining the definition of things like “impression” or “reach.”

A few other quick thoughts:

1. I’m blown away at the over saturation of TVs. Seems like a miss. Do people really want another giant box, where the only difference is more pixels?

2. More walled gardens. Samsung is the biggest culprit. People don’t want to move their content from one place (eg iTunes) to another (media hub). Walled gardens benefit, at best, the company and rarely provide benefits to the consumer.

3. Wow, lots of companies getting into the headphone space. Even saw Bob Marley headphones.

4. Registration and badge pickup is still chaotic. Really, we’re still using paper badges?

5. Still bummed that companies don’t let you purchase items right from the floor, at a discount.

Fear Creates Inaccuracies

Insights.  To me it’s all about insights.  Every day people make decisions.  Sometimes those decisions are right.  Sometimes they are wrong.  While I’d prefer that people were right every single time, the reality is that’s impossible.  So, I focus on the insights that drove the decision they made.  Were the insights grounded in the right foundation?  Were they strategic?  Were they on trend?  Were they sourced from the right locations?  Someone who makes mistakes that are grounded in strong insights, I can accept.  Those mistakes are honest ones and with the right coaching they can be all but eliminated.

The problem is, in most organizations we have a fear based culture where making mistakes is seen as a bad thing…and all mistakes are treated the same.  If you will, context when evaluating the mistake is taken off the table, when in fact it should be the first thing on the table.  I’ve worked in a fear based culture and it’s no fun.  When you have a fear driven culture in place, you end up with a lot of sandbagging.  Here’s a little narrative to explain what I mean:

  • Widget line manager asks the widget maker, how many widgets can you make in a week?  The widget maker knows he can make 25, but just in case he can’t says 20.
  • The widget line manager tells the widget foreman they can make 15 widgets, because he certainly doesn’t want to be blames if they don’t make 20.  And besides, if he says 15 and they make 20, he’s a hero.
  • The widget foreman tells the widget plant manager they can make 10 for the same reasons the widget line manager told the widget foreman 15.
  • The widget plant manger now tells the sales force they can make 5 widgets because he needs to pad and sandbag.
  • The sales force tells the Wal*Mart buyer, they can produce 1 widget a week for them to carry.
  • Wal*Mart says, no thanks we need at least 20.

Fear, drives us to stretch the truth.  It drives us to sandbag.  It drives us to be inaccurate.  This is the reason I rarely trust financial projections.  Who wants to say they are going to generate $1,000,000 this quarter, then hit $990,000 (falling short by only $10,000) and disappoint everyone?

The truth is we all lie all the time because of fear.  Think about it.  When you tell someone you’ll see them in 30 minutes, you’ve added in padding/wiggle room.  We pad, wiggle, buffer and provide slack all the time because we fear not hitting our mark.  Fear, drives inaccuracies.  If we were more understanding of mistakes and took into account context and intent, we might just become more accurate.  And, isn’t that what we’re all striving for?