Working in an Agile Digital Marketing World

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Deutsch_Scott_25aThe greatest change that has occurred in marketing over the past two years is the need for “real” agile digital marketing. While everyone talks agile, too many marketing activities still follow traditional waterfall (serial) approaches. This approach for certain marketing efforts just takes too long to determine execution effectiveness quickly. Welcome to a world where readers have 10 second attention spans and 140 character communications are standard.

The need for speed and feedback was addressed by many technology development teams over the last ten years by adopting an “agile methodology”. This was in response to bloated and delayed projects. If your business is using an agile development methodology, they probably have “SCRUMs and Sprints” as well.  Here’s a link to learn more about the agile SCRUM methodology To align marketing with the business, many of us are adopting this approach. One of the most effective areas that I am personally seeing great success leveraging this agile methodology approach is in the areas of public relations and marketing communications.Agile Image for Scott Blog April 2016Our efforts now are focused on obtaining feedback early and often. Being in market quickly and getting results really makes a difference. Perfection in marketing is not realistic or acceptable, as it often takes too long for that last 5%. And the lost time in market becomes our greatest obstacle to success. I found the graphic below (I cannot recall the source- or I’d give them the credit…let me know if you locate it) which helps begin to crystalize the changing communications behavior needed to complete and win in today’s fast changing online world.

Agile Change of News Cycle- Scott Blog April 2016

I found this graphic to be a wonderful example of how agile digital marketing really makes a quantitative difference. This is the approach we are working to standardize across Marketing Communications at Honeywell S&PS. The exciting aspect about this for me is that it really challenges the team to execute rapidly and forces decisions fast.  I’d rather fail fast than spend weeks and months reviewing elements that at the end of the day, really will provide limited impact on our results.  It’s amazing how projects get side tracked for really no good reason. This approach is helping our marketing team learn and learn fast.

By the way, our product management and development teams now smile at my marketing communications team when we talk scrum and sprints. Who ever thought Marcom could learn best practices from a development team?

Present Like You are Giving a Show

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I read a great post today from Chris Brogan ( about presentation skills… I know, I know…. but, after you get hit over the head with another one of those 1,000 word PPT slides… you just want to say something.

Legendary advertiser David Ogilvy said, “The consumer is not a moron, she is your wife.” He wanted us to treat the recipients of advertisements as important people, and I implore you to do the same to your audience. Here’s what I mean when I say that:

  • Your audience knows more than you’re giving them credit for. Every time.
  • They have come to learn something from you that they can use themselves. Give takeaways.
  • They have sacrificed time. Value their every minute as best you can. Trim your presentation.
  • Your audience wants something new. Stay fresh. They might have seen you last month or on the web.
  • Give them something to DO. Give actionable next steps, such that your presentation leaves them wanting to rush out of the room and do what you recommended. If you can, make it as specific to the audience as possible.
  • Never ever ever ever feel like you have to read your slides to me.
You ARE an Entertainer

If you’re going to command the stage (or a room, or whatever format your presentation takes), own the stage. Be as polished, as precise, as eloquent, as helpful as you can be. Here are some tips that I’ve tried to boil down tightly:

  • Think visually. Slides are not Word documents.
  • Make sure your slides aren’t more interesting than you.
  • Speak louder and slower than you think you should.
  • Dress for attention. If you’re going to own that stage, be vibrant (but tasteful).
  • Speak WITH not TO your audience. Get them “in on it.”
  • More than 7 key points is wasted.
  • Be as passionate as you can be about the topic. If you’re not, why will they care?

I take great pride and care in trying to entertain when I present. How about you?

The Future of the Social Web: In Five Eras

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Jeremiah Owyang’s recent report “The Future of the Social Web: In Five Eras” is getting a lot of traction . It should – and marketers must take notice of his findings. Jeremiah is spot on in his interview with CRM Magazine regarding the power shift from the brand to the consumer:

“The community will take charge, and that’s going to happen whether or not marketers or brands participate.”

Jeremiah goes on to outline the 5 eras of the social web – overlapping across the past, present, and future. His insight is predicated on substantial qualitative research with 24 of the top technology brands, enablers, and publishers that are leading in the social space. The overlapping eras are as follows:

1. The era of social relationships

2. The era of social functionality

3. The era of social colonization

4. The era of social context

5. The era of social commerce

I can appreciate this statement specifically:

“…focus is on community and the advocates within each community. Doing so will be the only way a brand can scale.”

Those companies that understand the power these communities represent in terms of advocacy for their brand, will be light years ahead of those that don’t.

Integrating social media into a traditional business is challenging

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Integrating social media into a traditional business is challenging. More than you’d think. I’ve been a part of helping sheppard forward a new online community at a conservative market leading company and it’s been fun and tricky to advance the ball forward. Some of the issues we’ve been confronted with should come as no surprise of any of you in marketing… we’re busy and we’d already got a day job. The interesting thing is that everyone in their hearts knows that getting to a two-way online world is paramount in a strategy to grow closer to your partners and customers. This is what is driving each and every marketer to the table… customer intimacy.

The term “customer intimacy” may be an overused term, but it’s a key attribute that has gained wider support in a slower economy. Companies today need to pick their partners wisely. They need to focus their limited resources on the partners that they trust and that they know can drive revenue. At a minimum, your partners of today have to have a value to help differentiate your value proposition and drive the business forward.

I’ve been fortunate to work with some pretty high class partners over the years and appreciate their value in helping drive customer intimacy for your brand and with your brand. Social media is playing an ever increasing role in supporting the timely communication with partners and between partners.

It’s time we as marketers challenge the traditions of control and engage our partners and end-user customers with social media.

The Strong only Get Stronger in 2009

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Scott_deutsch_Photo If you are one the market leaders in your space, 2009 will be a year of opportunity. If you are a market “chimp”, the year ahead promises to be a painful experience. I think that all the recent negative employment news from some of the biggest and best run companies is a clear indication that management teams are seizing on the opportunity to get lean and review their organizations. The present conditions have enabled virtually every company to cut whatever costs they may have been thinking about for a while. The key advantage a larger company has is that they still have “mass” and are able to continue to invest in the business, just not at the previous levels of investment.

Now if you were one of the market followers, or Chimps as some may call the smaller market players, these are times that have forced you to cut to the bone. Operationally, these organizations will really struggle to succeed and advance their position in the market. The differentiation between the gorilla players and chimps will create situations where the market gorilla’s actually become stronger and actually gain market share these next two years.

Take a look at the social media space and you can see for yourself the changes already happening. I bet that 40% of the more than 100 players in the space that Forrester has identified will no longer be in business by the end of 2009. And most of the remaining players will have been greatly harmed in their race to greater functionality. I bet you will actually see a price increase in social media solutions this year and not a decrease. Companies can not afford the “land grab” mentality this year. They all have more limited staffs and have to be careful to ensure that each customer is profitable. They also are burning lots of cash to keep the doors open and the lights on.

So if you are one of the dominant players in your market, 2009 although painful, will in the long run, be a year where you can gain market share with the smallest level of investment in probably two decades. Go make it happen.

Final Thoughts for 2008

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I sit here today with great hope for 2009 and thankful that 2008 will soon be behind us all. It’s been a challenge these past few months to stay focused on anything, but producing results of today. In fact, I think that’s the one thing about this past fall that has been a change for me. I am so used to being able to balance strategic longer term goals and the needs of sales and leads of today. But, that has not been the case since the summer…

My 2009 marketing budget has a different make up then in years past. Typically, I set aside 20% of my budget for innovation and ad hoc program spending. This year’s budget has virtually no ad hoc spending set aside. I have allocated 10% toward creating a greater presence online. Not exactly sure of the results, but that’s all I can afford for innovation spending in 2009…until we all have greater market visibility.

I saw that Chris Brogan forecast a painful market consolidation of the online community software players, which is really needed to create stronger companies and stronger products. My concern is that marketers will sit on the sidelines the first half of 2009 waiting for the strong to be truly identified. Visibility to sufficient funding is surely going to be hard to achieve for virtually all in 2009. It’s hard for anyone to build a profitable business model to compete with Ning, which is virtually free, or KickApps, which has such a low start-up cost.

I think 2009 will be a struggle for any marketer not having a product in the “must have” category or a product that does not have an immediate and quantifiable cost savings. And I’m not talking about “soft savings”. I’m talking hard savings that will have an operational ROI. If you are a “nice to have”, expect your project not to make it past the CFO…

Have a safe new year’s celebration.

Late Marketing Planning for 2009

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The final touches for my 2009 marketing plan are being completed. I do not recall a period where I have been making such changes this late in the planning process. I bet I’m not alone…

I normally start aggressively working on my next year’s plans right after Labor Day. While everyone is focused on delivering a strong Q3, I’m communicating with others to learn about their aspirations and plans for the upcoming year. I’m also trying to get into the heads of senior management about their expectations. From this information, I head into October with a pretty good sense of what the specific needs and expectations are. It has helped me head into the official planning sessions with a pretty good sense of my resources requirements- be that people or marketing spend.

This year though has been different. In November, we decided to revisit each and every element of our marketing plan to make sure we were prepared to make “changes” rapidly in 2009. This thinking has made us juggle some of our spending commitments in a manner that delays certain funding. I wonder if we are alone in this approach.

One thing we decided to do was to not exhibit at any trade shows this upcoming year. I mean zero. I saw a dramatic drop off in attendance at events starting in October… I bet it continues into 09, until people have greater visibility.

The one area that we have greatly increased our spending and efforts is around online engagement. We are planning to focus a lot of our efforts on our partners and customers.

2009 for me is about creating stronger customer engagements via the internet. What about you?

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