Some innovation to snack on

Summer is slowly saying goodbye. And just in time to keep the good vibes going, We Are Social have published their fourth Curiosity Stop. The last report was so full it was a bit overwhelming so they have toned it down to be more snackable. I really love MotorMood – an LED against road rage or just to put a smile on someone’s face, but also clever new innovations like Mr Gabriel. Used with a smartwatch, it lets you send a text with your location directly to pre-selected loved-ones.

I is for Inspiration – Takeaways From Google’s Larry Page Letter to Staff



Big news from Google this week. Alphabet. Their new holding company. And a great name at that. Suggesting anything and everything and many new ideas and multitude of opportunties.

Larry Page letter to staff, announcing Alphabet, has some pretty good, quotable quotes.  Something any CEO or leader should take note of as they are relevant for any business that wants to be successful.

“We are still trying to do things other people think are crazy but we are super excited about”

If you do not allow for genuine, contrarian ideas to be developed and heard in your company you are crushing innovation. Companies that have a true desire to keep innovating and investing in weird, amazing ideas are sure to be at the forefront of success.

“Over time companies tend to get comfortable doing the same thing, just making incremental changes”

No one wants to end up being the next Blockbuster, Netscape or Kodak. Google is disrupting itself with Alphabet. And a clever move it is.

“Our company is operating well today, but we think we can make it cleaner and more accountable”

The restructuring allows Google to be agile (something the investors have been waiting for). Alphabet gives Google the flexibility to shift businesses. Not only under new umbrellas but also under new CEOs who may offer better leadership.

“Alphabet is about businesses prospering through strong leaders and independence”

With each new business under Alphabet having separate management teams, more opportunities are freed up for career development. This in return is great
for attracting and retaining talent. And we must not forget it allows for strong employer branding. A smart move.

“Alphabet … means a collection of letters that represent language, one of humanity’s most important innovations”

Google may be a tech giant but at the end of the day it is all about your clients and your employees.

And a little marketing side note:  Is it smart to re-organize one of the most recognizable brands on the planet? Sure. In creating Alphabet, Google is following powerful trend in corporate branding just like Apple or GE.  And having a complete house of  strong brands makes for a strong catalyst for innovation.



The digital economy. Cheap smart phones will change everything.

I gave a presentation at the European University as part of the American Germany Business Club Exchange yesterday together with another marketing colleague of mine on “Marketing Strategy in the Digital Economy”. And I realized the 45 minutes we had to present just did not suffice. So much has changed since digital hit us and hit us in all industries and the way we need to do business now and will be doing business in the future.

Catching up on my reading this Sunday morning, I came across this interesting article in WIRED which is just one of the many examples of how changes are influencing our digital economy. Cheap smartphones are popping up everywhere. But don’t dismiss them. For many people around the globe it will be their first screen and their only screen. Their primary interface with the world. This means  a huge array of  new opportunities huge impact on both social and political issues. 

LinkedIn introduces Showcase Pages

LinkedIn wants to become more of a professional publishing platform. On Tuesday they followed through by introducing a new feature called Showcase Page allowing businesses on the professional networking site to target the fans of a specific product or brand. They are intended to work more or less like the already existing Company Pages with the difference being that they linkedin_showcase_pagesenable more niche marketing, targeting a specific audience rather than all of your followers.

As a company you can create up to 10 Showcase Pages for free (although LinkedIn has hinted that they will accomodate larger companies with more if needed). And of course you can support those pages with the usual follower ads and sponsored updates. LinkedIn -after all – needs to make some money.

And LinkedIn will offer a built-in analytics program so you can track the success of your pages. To round it off, the pages look great visually! Microsoft and Adobe have already started to use this new feature and the pages are being rolled out to all users over the next few days. I will definitely be trying it for some of my clients.

Does one really need skills to be a social media manager?

apeWhile I have been working in marketing and communications for a very long time, social media was not always around. Everything I know relating to social media is something that I have taught myself and have learned by working with and for different clients. And it does not stop there. Technology, metrics, SEO, you name it are developing at incredible speeds meaning having to constantly stay on top of the latest developments. It certainly is not something anyone can teach you overnight (even if there are many companies out there, making a quick buck offering certified social media professional courses).

I notice many businesses underestimate what it means to deliver good social media. It takes time and expertise. It demands lots of different skills like networking, planning and strategy, understanding the customer and the business, writing skills, analytics, commitment and focus, just to name a few. And very important is also experience. I certainly would not trust a new college graduate or trainee to handle my business’ social media activities. You need a strong grounding in marketing communications. You need to understand the industry, its products and have customer facing skills to deal with what social media is all about: engagement. Engaging with community for a business needs to be be strategically driven. And this works best if you are a marketing strategist who can oversee the complete picture. If you believe social media success is about having tons of followers then you are walking down the wrong path.

But enough on this topic. Sailing season is starting and I am off to the boat in bella Italia! Ciao.

B2B is P2P

lightThis week, I was wondering why marketers often make a distinction between B2C and B2B. Yes, there may be a difference in purchasing decisions. More logic, less emotion. But even if the name is “B2B” you are still selling to people, not businesses. And these people are also consumers who have daily interactions with the B2C greats like Apple or Amazon and therefore most likely have certain expectations about the sales and marketing process. Across the board they are looking to build relationships, gain insights and knowledge and develop loyalties. So when looking for best practices in B2B marketing, we should definitely take a look and see what we can learn from B2C companies.

Content definitely is a cornerstone for both marketing practices. For B2B it is about showing your expertise and core business values. Good (and plenty!) content can help you stand out among the large flow of information that is out there. So we need to create opportunistic content that revolves around news, visions and trends, finding the right distribution channels and tools. Content that stands out and is consistent over time will be a clear winner. Paired with B2C inspired social media  strategies we can create engagement with our audience. And engagement in turn creates communities.

Our audience should be more than just faceless readers of our content. B2C communities give their audience an opportunity to engage with the brand. In B2B our opportunity exists in creating a real network of customers, influencers and other interested parties where we can share information, developments and comments.I am convinced we can transform businesses and how we market them by taking a closer look at the B2C market and using the inspiration to create a competitive advantage.

Put an end to the old days of marketing!

westThis week I remembered the “good old days” of marketing where when asked to set up a marketing plan we would talk direct mailings (printed! sent via mail!), classic advertisements, printed newsletters or even “give a ways”.

This has all changed with the arrival of online marketing, social media and the ability to actually measure success. And with it, we have seen a shift in marketing focus. We can now truly connect with our customers, strengthen our relationships and improve customer service and products. We can be nimble and adapt quickly to changes in the market or when we see that our approach is not really reaching the customer in ways we want to. Great progress, right? But for some reason there are still many people in marketing out there who for some reason do not grasp the dynamics of social marketing. Maybe they prefer the good old days, with geeky ads in magazines we never were able to know the value of, maybe they are just scared.

In my opinion, us “old” marketers must really stop looking back at the old school of marketing techniques. Yes, there still are many tools out there from way back when that are still efficient. But the new marketing – which really is effective marketing – allows us to make connections that we were never able to build in the past. Having an online presence is just as important as having an offline one. Online gives us an opportunity to be transparent and to influence. It helps us in managing our competitive
advantage on a daily basis. We can measure market share, revenue growth and return on investments. It allows us to develop a strategy and to control execution. Yes, it may mean additional considerations, time spent and input. But with it we become greater influencers. And what is not to like about that?

It’s a bird, a plane…no it’s your marketing team!

Marketing can transform how a business leads. That should be somewhat of a mantra for us marketers. And not only for motivational purposes. ironman
Marketing is a key driver to growth, market share, brand awareness and revenue.Therefore, it is even more important to put together a top class team that understands the value and purpose of marketing as well as has an appreciation of it.  Because marketing is not a discipline “anyone” can do.

So does your marketing team understand your business? Do they have a vision of what they want to achieve? Do they know how to reach your customer and how best to communicate with them? Does your team have enough and varied experience to understand the different marketing channels? Are they adaptable, assertive and quick? Do they want to learn and grow? And finally, and most importantly, do they really understand the sales environment because marketing can only be truly successful if it works in unison with sales.

Your marketing team should be like Marvel Superheros – a group of talented, maybe sometimes flawed, persons coming together to “save the world”. For some super heroic inspiration you may want to read “Avengers Assemble: Putting Together a Superheroic Marketing Team”  – which superhero are you in your team?

“Digital disruption” or a massive shift in the way companies do business

Everything is going digital, regardless what business you are in. This so-called “digital disruption” will mean a massive shift in the way companies do business. godzilla

According to James McQuivey’s interesting articledigital disruption is all customer driven. CMOs are the gateway to the customers, so they need to be the drivers of digital communications, tools and platforms. But as McQuivey correctly points out, this is not a task that can be completed on their own – it has to be a collaboration between you, the CTO, the CFO and COO. And this is where the article gets back to baseline of my previous post: be change agents, embrace new ways of doing business, acquire new skill sets and most importantly really understand what your customers want and how you can best meet their needs. So check out McQuivey’s tips on how to get your C-suite to huddle up and get those “customer-focused purposes digital is leading you to embrace”.