A new post:

“By partnering with leaders across departments and teaming marketing efforts with technology capable of deriving the greatest available value from data, CMOs can gain the insights they need to create positive brand interactions across every channel and at every stage of the customer lifecycle.”

Read the full article here.

An article I wrote for CMSWire focused on building a mar-tech stack for success.

“The promise of an all-in-one MarTech solution that opens up new capabilities and accelerates growth is alluring, but it’s rare a single vendor can deliver that.

Not to mention your IT and development counterparts may feel wary of the IT lock-in that can occur with all-in-one solutions.

In reality all marketers (and their teams) will employ a dozen or more vendors to help ensure their B2C e-commerce, B2B partner portal, or other web or mobile-based solution satisfies their customers.”

Read more on CMSWire.

Wire Stone Adds Jason Michaels as Vice President and Managing Director of California Offices

SAN FRANCISCO, CA–(Marketwired – Aug 25, 2016) – Wire Stone, a top-25 independent digital marketing agency, today announced Jason Michaels will serve as vice president and managing director of the company’s California operations. In this role, Michaels is expected to drive growth through client success, operational excellence, and strategic expansion for the agency (which recently acquired Tenthwave Digital).

Read more on Yahoo Finance.

YDesign Group Acquires Lumens, a Leading Multi-Channel Retail Brand in Lighting, Modern Furniture and Home Accessories

YDesign Group, LLC (YDesign Group), today announced a definitive agreement to acquire Lumens, LLC (Lumens), a leading multi-channel retail brand in lighting, modern furniture and home accessories. The Lumens brand will join YLighting, YLiving, and YBath in the YDesign Group portfolio.

Retail leaders with a combined 25-plus years in online commerce, the combination of YDesign Group and Lumens creates new retail leadership in the design-driven lighting, modern furniture, home accessories, and decorative plumbing retail vertical. YDesign Group now has an unparalleled product catalog of over 500 partner brands, a customer base of more than 400,000 trade professional, residential, and commercial customers, and boasts an annual revenue growth rate of more than 24% since 2012.

Read more on PRWeb.

My sister is a Counter Burger fan and frequent air traveler. When I shared on Twitter that she chooses to layover at San Diego International Airport (SAN) because of The Counter, Co-CEO Craig Albert responded. Our initial Twitter exchange was friendly and brief.

Fast forward a few weeks. My sister was again headed to SAN, but risked missing The Counter’s closing time by 15 minutes. I tweeted and Craig immediately took action. We coordinated flight arrival time and burger service with the efficiency and excitement of a lunar landing. The result: a fun tweet stream, a great photo, and a brand advocacy story that’s hard to beat. Here’s the interaction:

Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 4.47.10 PM

Craig’s tone and communication style is reflected in every Counter Burger touchpoint: on their website, in social media, and behind the sales counter. The company has created one voice – a voice that’s open, human, and fresh – and that obviously resonates with their loyal customers.

Many thanks to Craig and The Counter team.

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I recently moved back to an executive position on the client side from a C-Level role at a leading midsize digital agency. Many aspects of the client side have changed in my five-year hiatus, but the following client-agency pitfalls remain the same. If you’re an agency pitching new business, an AOR, or mid-project, take note of these red flags.

Tell me why you matter

Answer these two questions:

1. Why does your company exist?

2. Do you have experience and success in my business sector?

If you can demonstrate both, let’s talk.

Do your research

Show me that you know my target audiences and that your team has a basic understanding of my competitor set. Be sure to have a point of view when you walk in the door.

Get the green light

Make it easy for me to sell. Give me a Powerpoint that is easy to understand, based in researched fact, and that I can sell to management. Making me reformat work that we’ve agreed to or that we’re co-developing will simply delay the project.

Bring KPIs

KPIs are not an afterthought. When you show up with the big idea, tell me how we’re going to measure it. It’s okay to have softer goals with social initiatives, but you can’t show up without them. Better yet, show me how our solution drives compound results, e.g., how SEO and social work together to create activation.

Wins

Demonstrate short-term wins and show a clear time to value. I’m running both sprints and marathon efforts; don’t suggest a strategy with zero short-term wins. If there is a technical or pass-through cost, show me how it will pay off and when. This helps me manage expectations inside my company.

Responsibility

Manage our budget. Synch our spending with our timeline and let me know when we’re being inefficient. I can make decisions and staff changes that get us back on track. The worst thing you can do is to tell me when we’re almost out of funds and only 50-percent through the project.

Account management 

Account management changes cause disruption. We both have to reinvest in a shared understanding of goals, history, and ‘the roadmap.’ Assign a senior person to oversee this transition or risk creating an inflection point for a change in the relationship.

Know our Plan B

What if what we’re doing isn’t working? When do we cut our losses, and what’s our Plan B? We should develop alternatives together. No one gets fired for executing on a shared plan.

Think ahead to what’s next

If you want more work, proactively pitch initiatives that are going to provide greater customer insight and generate activation. I’m not holding back a bucket of money; I have to justify greater expenditures, and budget approval can take internal pre-sales and procurement time.

Wire Stone has been working with a press relations firm to highlight our agency’s talent. Here are three mentions that were contributed on my behalf. You can see more Wire Stone voices here.

How Critical Are Technical Skills in Marketing? 13 Leaders Weigh In

How Your Sales Team Can Make Your B2B Website Sing: 3 Tips

Designing a B2B Website? Better Talk to Your Sales Team First

The future of retail does not hinge on any one device or technology. The future of retail demands a commitment to the customer experience above all else; technology is simply an enabler for a brand’s contextual and personalized connection to the customer.

The biggest challenge for CMOs and their agencies is threefold:

  1. To engage: create moments that engage, surprise and delight the customer
  2. To bring context and relevance to the customer experience: harness multichannel data to increase engagement and conversion
  3. To drive actionable insight: through data, to derive an accurate view of the successes, failures, and opportunities that new technologies afford the business

What is hype? It depends on your desired business outcomes. If your goal is to be seen as a progressive organization whose use of Google Glass personalizes the customer experience – such as Virgin Airlines use of Glass – then Glass is not hype. If iBeacon successfully delivers incentives and streamlines checkout, then iBeacon is not hype. Hype is a condition of unsuccessful implementations.

I believe that the future of retail can be found at the intersection of personalization, utility, and stopping power, or engagement; to synch the shopper’s journey with the right technology – tools, data inputs, and measured insights – to enrich the shopper’s experience.

What do we know?

“70% of the buying process in a complex sale is already complete by the time prospects interact with a sales person.” – Sirius Decisions Research

“80 percent of people who own three devices switch between devices to complete tasks or activities.” – GfK Market Research

“60% of Millennials are already willing to provide their details about their personal preferences and habits with marketers.” – Mintel

“For Starbucks, more than 11 percent of transactions per week are now happening with a mobile device in-store.” – Starbucks

“I say that my job here is 10 times harder and 100 times more interesting than it was 3 years ago.” – Carolyn Feinstein, SVP of Global Consumer Marketing for Electronic Arts

Who will clean up the multichannel data mess? Clients are experimenting with new roles such as the Chief Omnichannel Officer, or “COCO” for short. Apparel retailer “Finish Line” installed its first COCO this year. His (in this case) job is not to tie together customer data one API at a time, but to be a strong marketing and digital leader – to be accountable and responsible for the customer experience across the multichannel retail landscape.

Where and when is the transition from experimentation to practical implementation? That time is now. What we’re experiencing is the Big Bang of data, technology, design, and customer experience. The question is whether your organization is ready to create a strategic planet for these elements or if you’re going to end up with a lot of hot air.

The ad agency industry is a powerful ideation and ROI machine. It’s no wonder that clients and traditional consultancies want a piece of the action. Here are three trends that I see happening right now:

  1. Large clients are creating in house “agencies” as a way to get closer to the customer (and their data). These in-house agencies are also taking over social media responsibilities for the firm and its brands.
  2. Business transformation firms like Deloitte are acquiring ad agencies to complement their current services with marketing transformation data and services, e.g., social metrics, analytics, and creative.
  3. Mid-sized agencies are combining off-the-shelf measurement applications – or are doubling down on suite proficiency, e.g., Adobe Marketing Suite – to demonstrate greater ROI to their clients.

What are you seeing in Adland?