agilemarketing, content marketing, leadership, Strategy, thoughts

Hard And Early, Out Of Lockdown, Game On!

New Zealand is preparing to exit lockdown and return to a resemblance of normality.

We’ll forgo the hugs and high fives we want to give teammates, my pack training runs will have to wait a bit longer, but shops will reopen, and we’ll get back to some of our old routines.

Kids will return to school

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But I’ll miss weekday family breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Something we’d never managed to accomplish pre-covid.

We’ve been working, but those who couldn’t work from home, join us.

Retail, services, hospitality and tourism in its new form can start to piece things back together. It’s a fantastic time to reprioritise. Re-evaluate priorities and what will be the new normal.

There’s plenty of opportunity

The world will be watching to some extent, as we’re the class that the teacher let out to play after the rain. Everyones gonna be envious, and looking out the window. If we make it all muddy, the others will blame us for their teacher keeping them back longer. Time to keep it green and impress with our playground moves!

Fundamentals haven’t changed. Solid solutions, to your client’s big problems, still win.

At FileInvite, our Go Back To Market plan is executing on more of the same tech that’s powering professionals to collect sensitive documents remotely. We’re already seeing that barriers are falling globally and that in the software space, being local is less of an issue.

Here’s some thoughts from a marketing perspective

1. Use your Zoom skills, and ability to focus on needle moving activities, to your advantage. The last months haven’t been distraction free at home. Finding big levers to shift the needle has been even more important. I’d also say: chase big wins, even if they’re on the other side of the world, or local clients you thought you were too small to tackle.

2. The advertising space has had a massive shake up. Being one of the first countries exiting lockdown gives New Zealand a great First Mover Advantage. With Travel and Hospo adjusting, I think we’ll see some big changes in ROI.

3. Marketing with conviction and a compelling value prop will be key. There’s going to be a lot of all nighters as the winning teams, the ones that will have money to spend, are going to be busy earning, building their businesses back up they’ll want no nonsense or no fuss solutions.

4. I also hope we’ll see some quality creative and something different to the current loop of: “Now more than ever, in these challenging/difficult times, we’re here for you, it’s about the people, united in our separation, and thanking our front line staff, (who help you buying our stuff)”.

And a little less unprecedented unprecedentedness please.

What about you?

How are you? Can I help with anything? How have your priorities shifted?

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agilemarketing, Strategy, thoughts

My CPA Calculator For Marketing Activities

If you’re like me and into agile marketing, you might find this tool handy to calculate the true CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) of any marketing initiative.

For a digital marketing initiative there will be a number of figures you will need to consider when weighting up ROI, and working out how much of a priority a certain activity should be.

Typically you will have figures for:

  • Traffic, recipients or impressions
  • Open Rates
  • Click Thru Rates
  • Trial Rates
  • Trial to Paid Rates
  • Cost or CPM (Cost per thousand impressions)

But also remember the frictional costs of an activity, the creative costs and make some kind of calculation around your time spent in the shower coming up with ideas.

You could also use an ICE score to rate and compare the activities beyond just cost.

ICE standing for:

  • Impact
    Could this compound, be replicated, be pivotal, be influencial, be ‘viral’?
    1= one off, 10 = compounding hypergrowth
  • Confidence
    How confident are you in the data and your assumptions
    1 = Faulty Towers, 10 = Four Seasons
  • Ease
    How easy is this to do?
    1 = will take an army, 10 = child’s play

Have a look at what this might look like. Give my calculator a try:


marketing-growth-hack-calc

CALCULATE CPA


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Agile, agilemarketing, leadership, thoughts

Do this weekly, heck daily if you’re brave enough. The Retrospective!

What’s my one tip as a coach?

Do this weekly. Heck daily – if you’re brave enough. Challenge your team to do regular retrospectives.

The biggest #GROWTHHACK I can think of is consistent and regular review of:

– What worked?
– What didn’t?
– What are we going to change?

The best organisations have mastered this rapid iteration and constant velocity of improvement. Taking cues from Ray Dalio’s Principles – the top 1% document their change decisions so that even the way they learn (and make decisions) evolves.

Reflect, Recognise, Reward, and Realign


Make learning a key part of your week

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Agile, agilemarketing, leadership, thoughts

Structuring Teams For Growth

I’m an Achilles heel, but I know it! The nature of our industry implies we have teachers, head teachers, academic leaders and a principal or CEO.

This centralised hierarchical structure means we have clear interfaces with the government and regulatory bodies, roles with built in dependancies, and bottlenecks when it comes to decisions. From a risk perspective these bottlenecks are strategic weak points. Heck even my current job title, Head of Marketing, sounds ripe for lopping off and leaving a lifeless directionless body…

It’s an org structure that historically has been well adopted, but is it the right structure for today’s VUCA world?

Beyond my KPIs as a Marketing Director, I see my role in any organisation as head of distribution. Where possible moving from a centralised system to a distributed model. At least in terms of our marketing capacity if not the wider organisation.

Creating scaffolding. Enabling with tools that allow open records, transparency around actions and accountability, and systems that empower my team to make decisions that better serve customers.

So why did the centralised systems form?

When we identify chaos our first reaction is to classify what we’re seeing, create order and build complex systems to make the chaos understandable and tolerable. It’s why we have forms, policies, procedures and why everyone (except well intended guests and relatives) puts the coffee cups back in the same spot. It creates efficiency.

But at the start, who decides if your draw goes knife-fork-spoon or spoon-fork-knife?

Historically we had tribal leaders that knew what to do and could make decisions. Without procedures or scaffolding, we would look to those leaders for guidance. It seemed like the right way to run a company. When you get a lot of bodies together it seemed easier to control them through orders and one commanding voice. Think of that guy on the megaphone at a busy ferry terminal or at the start of a marathon, barking orders usually on a platform in a top down fashion.

A tribal leader was usually, in Darwinistic fashion, the toughest or strongest one that could win the battles.

centralised-decentralised-distributed

Decentralised Was A Step Forward

As globalism spread, we realised that a certain degree of decentralisation had to occur. If just, as an example, to scale and let the East India Company make decisions that couldn’t be shipped back and forth like goods every month.

Progressing slightly, decentralised movements gave some resilience. Each node has a head and the required body parts to function. But the constant battle is to standardise processes and procedures again in order to make sense of the differing markets. You loose economies of scale, as you gain some independence and diversity of revenue.

Distributed Independent Organisms – Starfish over Spiders

Modern first world society has become so dependent on centralised structures that we are all just 9 meals away from anarchy. So how do we mitigate this reliance? Re-wilding and home grown organics maybe? We’d be distributed for sure.

What if we look back beyond our assumption that an organisation is a tribe that needs leadership. What if we saw it as an organism?

Brafman and Beckstrom Draw a fantastic analogy in their book The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations.
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Highly responsive, naturally resilient and adaptive, distributed systems and organisations cannot be controlled. This is in fact the basis of internet, a distributed system.

Here are a few more examples:

  • Wikipedia – Where no one author or contributor is responsible for verifying an entry, it has become a very strong source of basic encyclopaedic knowledge.
  • Terrorist cells – Modern terrorist cells are very hard to immobilise as each cell operates independently and can do so without revealing themselves through communication with others. In fact the most effective counterterrorist efforts have been conducted in cell like, rogue units, operating disconnected from the typical structured (predictable and traceable) Seal and SAS efforts.
  • Epidemics – AIDS and Bird flu are particularly hard to fight as our antibacterial usage struggles to combat continuous mutation and developing separate strains.

For some business examples check out:

  • Burtzorg (Europe) distributed healthcare
  • VALVE (USA) manager-less – game development
  • Enspiral (New Zealand) a cohort of self managing, distri ventures.

But why create something so organic/different from our current societal norms Nick? 

Are generation X,Y and Z customer and cause, not company focused?

Centralised organisations are very internally focused and looking up for guidance. Internal noise in many instances can drown out the outside world. At the very least it can leave your speech filled with acronyms and make communication with customers difficult.

Leaders now need to focus on managing the environment, connecting people with the purpose of the organisation and maintaining accountability.

Is it time to remove our exoskeleton and open up a connection with the customer?

Should we let the customer decide or lead the way?

Developing small distributed agile teams I believe is the way to go. It will take a while, and many may never to shed their hierarchies.

Design thinking and distributed teams are a good step in the right direction.

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agilemarketing, Strategy

Creativity – Daniel Flynn from Thank You Water

Almost a year ago I Brought Daniel Flynn’s book Chapter One, the story of Thank You Water to date.

The notion that a small band of university students would ditch their studies and launch a national water brand and go on to sell a range of food, cosmetics and baby care products to Coles and Woolworths – is crazy. For anyone that has been or seen their contacts scarper to get any product into a nation wide FMCG market for years and years, launching a product range in WEEKS, not months or years, is the stuff of legend.

As a Not For Profit giving 100% of their profits to charity Thank You Water are committed to their WHY. Daniel, in a time of doubt received a sign, as he flipped through his bible it opened to a page of giving water to those in need. Since that day he’s doubled down on his WHY.

Together with weekly consulting sessions by his mentor, a billionaire responsible for global creative projects Daniel’s been able to inspire his team to greatness.

Today I heard again Daniel discuss their amazing journey from $1000 seed capital across the three founders to over $5 million dollars of impact to their causes.

Beyond a powerful social impact cause being the backbone of Thank You Water, the second powerhouse to their success has been creativity.

The team’s creativity and their stoic belief that this will work have been the keys to their success.

Here are some of the highlights I took form Daniel’s story around creativity.

Think creatively around funding

The team had $1000 of seed capital and the initial RFP requests had the market suggesting an initial run of their product could cost between $200k and $400k.

Good, they thought.

They went to EVERY supplier until one bucked the norm and agreed to supply their goods in advance.

Think creatively around path to market

Most products start out in farmers markets, growing slowly, bit by bit.  They decided that the best way to do things, was to do the opposite. Go large, hit the mid sized retailers first. Sadly, without patents or protection of their ideas, two declined the offer to work with them and promptly created their own charity water brands.

Daniel’s thought was – “Good, is this such a bad thing?” They got creative for their biggest targets Coles and Woolworths. Being agile and learning from the last attempts they went big publicly with their intent.

The massive news coverage ensured that Coles or Woolworths couldn’t run with their own brands and ultimately led to both brands taking on their food range as well as their water.

They had a full product range hit the shelves in record times (weeks) and their products hit spots one and two across Australia.

Get creative with pricing

Thank You water was building through the network of contacts the founders were building. They knew that this would be the engine for them to expand, not just through sales deals with these lead retailers.

Daniel always jokes that bottled water is a silly product that people pay silly money for. With that idea in mind and after some deep reflection Daniel wrote a book called Chapter One – priced using a Pay what you want model.

They managed to convince the Airports in New Zealand and Auckland to stock their book on a month by month basis through the power of their social media networks and the PR they promised would ensue. It did. The book sold out in the first weeks in many locations. It was the top of the business category and to date has had prices ranging from 15 cents to $5000 a copy.

The book has raised $1.7 million dollars and counting, selling in Australia and NZ airports in a year and has funded the launch of their baby care products and explorations into New Zealand. In the airport bookshops it was second only to Harry Potter launch week and the book store directors gave them the annual innovation award for their product launch.

Get creative with leadership

One of Daniel’s final points was to get your ideas out there. Too often we hide our ideas until we feel they’re worth sharing. He suggested, or maybe this is my interpretation, that we underestimate the value of the efforts our team members, colleagues and connections can make in nurturing our ideas and bringing them to fruition.

“Bring it to the market, to the community and get it heard.” Sharing your idea will create LEVERAGE – the more people that know your journey and the ideas you have, the more they can bind to your WHY and generate momentum.

He’s certainly got me thinking around creativity and challenging what we consider to be unmovable paths, truths or conventions…


 

I highly recommend you order his book Chapter One, it challenges conventions from the first page. Literally,  it opens vertically.

 

 

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agilemarketing, content marketing, crisis management, How To, social media, twitter

Monitoring your brand online

Track the open web with Google Alerts

One way to ensure you are aware of mentions of you or your brand is to set up a Google Alert.

This tool has been around for some time, but many are still yet to adopt it, or leverage it correctly.

Visit Google alerts and you can use Google to monitor for news about your brand or industry. To ensure the results are relevant enter your search term  (the brand name or industry terms you’d like to see information for) and click show options.

You can select how often you whish to receive the alerts, “as-it-happens” or  a weekly digest. I find the as-it-happens setting ideal for responding to mentions in the news and gives me a chance to respond with immediacy, thanking the author for the mention.

From there you can choose “only the best results” and limit the country results to your country of interest. This is helpful for neighborhoods that take their name from the United Kingdom or other locations in the old world. There are a number of areas called Canterbury around the world, for example.

Build your brand and interact with your industry

One novel ways to use Google Alerts is for mentions of key themes that you wish to create content around, or be considered a thought leader for.

I have filters set up to monitor for specific exact terms that I use to inform me of movements in the industry . You could do the same, for example to monitor the green construction industry, with a search like: “SIPS” or “passive house” or “Blower door” or “airtight construction” .

Limit the results to your country and you will very quickly find those that are outspoken online in the industry and potentially the local online influencers. Cross referencing their social media profiles with a tool like Klout and you can have a basic understanding of their influence online, or at least you will know if many people find the content they share relevant.

You can then effectively surround yourself with online experts, build your knowledge and inform yourself to create interesting content that we know resonates with the industry.

A video introduction to Google Alerts

A few other searches you could try are:

  • competitor’s brand mentions – keep an eye on their activities
  • legislative terms for your industry – be the first to comment on a law change
  • misspelt brand terms – this is handy if you have a brand that’s hard to spell
  • negative industry terms – just to keep an eye on potential acquisition opportunities
  • unhappy customer terms – you can then use social selling techniques to introduce your brand
  • some fun terms to receive jokes or fun videos clips on a Friday.

Monitoring blog mentions and Twitter

Google may not catch all mentions of your brand and obviously doesn’t index closed social network posts or dark social media (Facebook Messenger, Snapchat and Wechat for example).

Socialmention.com is a great free tool that provides a pretty accurate record of blog and Twitter mentions. They have a daily email alert service that you can subscribe to,or an RSS  feed that you can use to monitor your mentions.

Socialmention also provides some breakdown of popular hashtags associated with the posts and a register of the top profiles that have mentioned the term by frequency.

Again you could leverage this for industry insights and share relevant content with your audience.

Hopefully these tools can improve your interactions with customers and industry peers. I’d love to hear of any other tools people have used successfully.

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The Digital Marketing Manager a forerunner
agilemarketing, content marketing, social media, Strategy, user experience

The Modern Marketing Manager – A Forerunner

The tasks, skills and abilities required of the modern digital marketing manager, online manager or webmaster are broad. T shaped skills sets are squared off and it is the same for any marketer – on or offline. The influence of technology everywhere means speaking tech and having EQ is the equation for success.

We are required not only to have a technical understanding, but also the skills to wrangle: tech upgrades, shiny new social networks, integrations, content, user experiences and the teams or relationships involved in creating them.

That said, the most powerful approach/skill/technique that a Website Marketing Manager can take is that of being a forerunner for: his leaders, his team and his customers.

They’re the forerunner and Product Owner for their tools – the website, social media and online channels

As the forerunner for an organisation’s online presence the Website Marketing Manager champions best practice. By ensuring the overall consistency of look and feel, that image selection and copy reflects the tone of voice and brand guidelines of the organisation the manager creates harmony. An experience for the user that is consistent throughout the website, across social media platforms and through the various mediums of copy, image, video and interactive.

They understand that a post with an image is more credible, they understand heuristics like scarcity, anchoring and abundance, but most of all they craft a better online experience.

A forerunner respects rules and regulations, but also appreciates that a new audience or network will respond better to content designed for them. Ancient forerunners learnt the languages, dialects, customs and body language that appeased their new audiences, carving a path for their leader.  They master the technology and tool available but also know how to hammer in a nail with a variety of tools and quickly repurpose.

The forerunner not only tailors but they develop and implement an overall content strategy into which they meld the requirements of various stakeholders. All whilst addressing the needs of their buyer personas (the target audiences of their organisation).

They’re the forerunner for customers online

First and foremost the forerunner is customer centric.

The forerunner rolls up their sleeves for the customer ensuring they find resolution for their pain points with products and services, or information and content, should their needs be met elsewhere. They ensure the experience is as painless as possible.

They understand the various customer journeys that buyer personas take, they optimise sales funnels on the site to maximise conversion rates and they do so to ultimately please the customer.

They’re the forerunner for their team

A forerunner likes to roll up their sleeves. In posting content, status updates and A/B testing the forerunner keeps tabs on the user experience for internal customers too. Those that have to deal with cumbersome workflows, ageing tools or inefficient processes. The manager spots things like:

  • folksonomy editing
  • the pairing, deleting or formatting of tags
  • category management
  • approval bottlenecks
  • duplication
  • batching synergies
  • and workflow inefficiencies.

They keep a backlog of process and system improvement to implement that will streamline publication processes and minimise risk.

The forerunner creates a scaffold for his team to work autonomously towards well communicated joint goals.

They’re the forerunner for their leaders and peers

Forerunners are ahead explaining complex scenarios in a dialect the audience can understand and they manage stakeholders needs. Be that senior management, HR with careers branding, or legal with compliance. They communicate efficiently with each.

Like a good auctioneer the website forerunner has his eye across the digital room remembering all parties, their bids and their interests. With an eye on all facets of technical and content needs, prioritised backlogs are built of:

  • technical improvements
  • content features
  • content types, their audience, trends and seasonality

The forerunner has contacts in all camps and bridges sales, marketing and IT to meld the an optimum website within technical and budgetary restraints.

They’re the forerunner for the future

Through constant research – the forerunner has a backlog of potential new ideas for the site, social media and all digital touchpoints. The forerunner is a connector not only of people but also ideas through loose ties. Leveraging industry but also global and hyper local trends as they fit with the goals of the company, the forerunner proactively shares ideas to guide their leader.

As the champion of his website the forerunner isn’t afraid to challenges roadblocks and those deviating from what is currently considered best practice. He has the brand standards, site standards, usability and overall site design at the forefront of any decision.

They’re Agile

The forerunner has become an expert at iterative decisions. Taking big decisions and testing them with MVPs. Trialing on a low risk asset or A/B testing to integrate new features or content.

Constantly improving. Continuous beta.

 


This post is prompted by a recent Tim Ferriss podcast on the canvas strategy and a quote: “The person who clears the path ultimately controls its direction, just as the canvas shapes the painting.” – Ryan Holiday.

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