One day I stopped to ask a farmer why they use silos. After getting the ‘boy are you some sort of igneramous’?!’ look, he answered my question. “Keeps product separated. One goes one place for one price, another somewhere else. Also keeps it safe. You know, dry. No mold, moisture or mice.”
Ahh. A barrier to keep things in and out. Nice and safe and separate. Very good for a farmer who counts on getting the highest price for high quality corn.
While silos in farming are good, silos in business aren’t quite as good but equally real. The problem is that business decisions are made every day using homogenous resources relying on homogenous tools.
Here’s what I mean. A colleague of mine, Chris Samuels, former research quant-geek at McKenzie and Bain likes to use a phrase I think sums this problem up.
Focus Groups are words with no data and polling is data with no words. They are the worst of both worlds. Yet, strategic decisions are made every day by marketing or product teams or knowledge and insights teams or strategic pricing teams or any other of the multitudes of corporate groups that use these types of tools. Problem is, these teams tend to operate independently from one another, each delivering its own ‘product’ that is then locked down and used by somebody else. That somebody else takes the product as gospel. The result is a product or service that is ‘good enough’ without being great or really relevant. More often when something is a hit, it’s as much out of luck as having the right insight, tools and team.
In the end, for organizations to be more relevant and successful, they need to embrace a whole new level of diversity. We’ll never bust down the silos inside of organizations but we can cut holes in them and create bridges between them.
By doing taking a couple simple steps, it is possible to flatten your organization; becoming more nimble, relevant, informed and profitable in the process. A number of organizations have begun this process, with significant results.
So what does it take? A couple of simple steps:
By beginning this process, you will take the first step in creating a flatter organization that is likely to be a better competitor. It won’t happen overnight but as Confucius once said, ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’.
Vegas is like being at a party in a house with no kitchen.
This statement is designed to startle your brain, which is naturally in a static state. It uses schemas to keep its carbon footprint at the bare minimum. Schemas are mental short-hand for how the world works, or for how the brain believes the world works. They allow the brain to function without exerting undue effort. Interrupting a schema stimulates thought; the brain needs to actively process the “unknown”, which stimulates conversation. Blending two disparate schemas together into a new mental model also creates the same disruptive patterns.
Academia has long embraced cognitive science as it applies to learning and rehabilitation. Now, application of cognitive science is gaining a foothold in the business world. A great example was presented recently by Steve Knox, CEO of Proctor and Gamble Tremor. They are using cognitive scientists to help understand word of mouth and why people talk.
Here are a few of the examples he gave during a presentation at the Word of Mouth Marketing Association’s (WOMMA) recent Summit.
Disrupting a schema: Let’s say you arrive in the UK and rent a car. Yikes. Before you arrived, you knew that you would be driving on the ‘wrong” side of the road in a car with a steering wheel on the wrong side of the car. Yet, you talk about it because it helps you resolve the disrupted equilibrium that happens when you disturb your normal mental model of driving. Eventually, you get used to this new driving pattern and do not have to actively think about it as you drive. But, when you return home, you may have to reset your “normal” driving schema.
Disrupting schemas is a way to potentially stimulate conversation and spread word of mouth.
Conceptual blend. This is where you blend two familiar schemas to create a new unfamiliar on. One of the examples that Knox used in his presentation was the I Phone. It was a phone AND a computer; the combination of which created a whole new category. People talked about it because the very combination of two familiar devices created a disruption.People normally viewed the phone and the computer as two separate, distinct devices. When a brand creates a new blend, it owns the space. It is the epitome of first mover status.
Knox cautioned the group that applying these principles requires deep knowledge of cognitive science and hard work to strike the correct balance. The key is to use the following four questions as a guide:
· What is the foundational truth of your brand.?
· What schemas are at play?
· What would disrupt a schema?
· Are there blends that make sense?
So, why does the first sentence of this post make you stop? First: our mental model of Vegas is decidedly not one of a party in someone’s house. And, secondly, every house has a kitchen, right? These disruptions can take us on an interesting path that epitomizes both the art and science of conversation. The application to the science of word of mouth marketing is interesting and intriquing.
Who owns social marketing initiatives? Well, the marketing team of course!
Seems like a logical answer but wrong. To do social marketing and specifically community well, it takes the whole corporate village, not just a select few marketers who have window views from their cluster of cubes and have been to a social media conference.
Social marketing, which is really more of a strategy and an aggregation of appropriate tactics needs to be defined by the teams who support both social marketing initiatives, as well as, getting products to market and keeping customers happy.
Let’s think about this for a moment. What is social marketing really? I mean in its simplest form? Let’s break it down. Social marketing boils down to two simple concepts.
You see, words have meaning and actions or lack thereof have consequences. For passionate and interested people to congregate and collaborate it has to be worth something. You have to provide real, meaningful and measurable value. You have to deliver this in a way that’s useful. Specifically, you need to provide:
Let me give a simple example of what I mean.
The big game is on and you are glued to the action. Your child approaches you for advice on how to solve a homework problem. You fail to give your child your full attention and instead help them solve the problem without teaching them how you got to the answer. The next day your child misses several of the same type on a test. That night your child approaches you again for help. You are fiddling with a report you are working on. Your child fails to grasp the concept they are asking you for help with. You get frustrated because the solution is so obvious (to you anyway). Ultimately, they give up and go ask your spouse for help. You return your attention to your report unaware of the events which have transpired beyond the homework problem.
Part of your brand promise as a parent is ‘I am here to help you’.
When approached, you need to provide be aware of the conversation with your child. Not just show them the answer. Teach them. Make sure they understand. That’s two way dialogue. Showing them is one way.
When re-approached, did you help to solve the issue in a way the child could understand-in a way that was relevant to them?
Did you support the value of the interaction with you? Did you provide utility to your child?
What happened? They gave up based on their experience and abandoned you.
Brands are experiencing these series of events every single day. If you have read our recent research report, The State of Online Branded Communities, you would know that a large percentage of brands have Community Ghost Towns. Why is this?
No relevance, no utility for the interested parties. No clear mandate. No pay off of the brand promise and one way communication. Nobody wants something they can’t use shoved down their throat. Lots of tools and tactics, lots of branded messaging, no real value.
Back to the analogy for a second. So how could you as a parent solve this problem? Simple. Take 5 minutes away from the game, give it your full attention the first time. First listen to your child and then help them to set up and solve the problem. Collaborate. Bring your spouse in and have them check the solution, as well as, and listen to your child explain how they got the answer. A team effort. Recognize the success. You have an enlightened, committed and happy child. As a parent, you have a better understanding of their weakness and can keep an eye out for it in the future. Everyone wins.
For brands, like parents, it also takes a village or a team effort to do social marketing and community well. You have to include the product teams, the CRM team, as well as others. Identify who is involved in making your brand and its products and services a success. Enlist members of those teams because those are the people who need to be at the table and involved in collaborating on your social initiatives for them to be successful.
All is not lost even if you see your brand in the analogy I gave. You can still change your approach and your results!
By following the simple approach outlined below, you’ll begin to see the fruits of your labor-more engaged customers, lower operational and support costs, decreased churn, greater customer intelligence, increased loyalty and of course, increased profit.
You can also get a detailed pdf of these guidelines from the Did You Know Section on our homepage. Simply click on the Simple Guide hyperlink to download a copy.
I thought it was a joke. Holiday Inn in London is offering a human sheet warming service. Apparently, some staffer dresses in a fleece suit, jumps between your sheets and warms them up for you. Really? Like who wants this? They assure guests that this giant Teddy will be out from between the sheets before you pop into bed. Well, that makes me feel better.
In word-of-mouth marketing, the concept of “talkable brands” refers to the parts of the brand’s DNA that naturally stimulate conversation about its products and services. What makes brands talkable can be breakthrough design, a category game changer or just exquisite customer experience. Some brands confuse buzz with a natural innate talkability that some brands posses or work hard to develop. How? By listening to their customers and offering cool innovations or new levels of service that actually resonate.
Holiday Inn’s human hot water bottle has certainly generated buzz. I personally have told tons of people about this ploy. Everyone has gotten a horrified look on their face and thought I was making it up. Many claimed they would never stay at a Holiday Inn again because this was just too creepy. While people are talking about Holiday Inn, the brand is not “talkable.”
So far? My favorite news story of the year.