War of the marketing clouds


Empathic management

The video below does not need any comments, but it is actually an excellent example of a very concrete thing of everyday life in which we can see how and why design drives experience of people using an object or a service.
It highlights two very important aspects of the experience of using something, which are discoverability (i.e. the possibility to find out very quickly what something was created for and how to use is) and feedback (i.e. perceptible consequences of proper usage for the person using the object or service). However, to create something that has both discoverability and feedback, the designer needs to care for what the actual usage of the object or service will be like for people who need to use it. That's called empathy and there are ways and methods that will help you leverage empathy in what you do in business from the way you think about an in-store experience, to how an e-commerce site co-exists with other channels, to how a marketing campaign works, to how a business cases is presented to your finance people and senior management.


A generic template of letter of intent

We're often being asked about documents and templates for various purposes. So far we've provided that kind of help to customers and people in our network upon request. However these requests have been growing in number and since we've never believed that the mere access to a tool or resource is a durable source of competitive advantage, we're starting a "Giving Back" category on this site where we'll be sharing templates and other resources.
The understanding is that

  1. these are documents we are using for our own purposes and are always amended as we see fit,
  2. they are provided without any warranty whatsoever as to their fitness of your purposes,
  3. they do not constitute legal advice or a recommendation of any sort,
  4. they are provided in their current form without any warranty or commitment on our part,
  5. access to these documents may be interrupted at any time without prior notice
  6. all documents, content and resources provided under the "Giving Back" category are published under Creative Commons BY-SA-NC license
  7. we do genuinely hope they can help you achieve your goals and be happy
So we're starting with this generic template of letter of intent.

For any questions or specific advice, please get in touch.


Internal consistency as bedrock to market success

Communications is growing more important in marketing and is more coupled with sales than ever before, but something much less visible is going on as all three are critically dependent on an organisation's digital backbone. Whether that organisation sells online or not does not really change the situation.
That's in part because the conceptual boundary that was traditionally considered as an impenetrable shield has become porous and transparent in the digital age, making it possible for the outside world to see through it and get a degree of information and understanding about the inside of a company or institution that's unprecedented in recorded history. So for all practical purposes, we should consider internal alignment, effectiveness and efficiency as directly beneficial to the organisation’s public image and ultimately its ability to address the needs of its key constituencies.
Furthermore activities traditionally considered as having more of an operational impact without influence on marketing and communications are, in fact, more than ever providing the bedrock for the value proposition and for the promise of the brand. For example, a telco’s back-office, billing and customer care services will have a critical impact on the brand’s reputation and in the field of e-commerce the quality of customer service may easily become a critical source of competitive advantage as has been the case over the years with Zappos (part of Amazon since 2009).
We've represented this on the following framework that we use to assess marketing, communications and sales in companies and other institutions. There are other much more complex models out there to help examine how goals, processes, tools and skills align to deliver beneficial results to a company, but we've found this one to help concentrate attention on key elements and their interactions, while at the same time being easy enough to explain to a business audience.

Framework of analysis for digital transition in marcoms
The framework shows:
  • a porous organisational boundary that compels companies and other institutions to invest resources in internal consistency, impeccable processes, adequate tools and competent people;
  • the critical role played by goals in determining which processes and tools should be deployed towards achieving those goals for the company;
  • how processes and tools depend on skills and quality of human resources;
  • the major importance of an "always be testing" mentality and on focusing on the feedback that those tests generate;
  • a need to reconsider goals - thus potentially processes, tools and skills - on a regular basis depending on the results of feedback collected in constant testing and measurement of the effects of the way an organisation functions.


Parody: effective and fun brand communications

Here is a recent example of attention grabbing and fun communication for a brand that challenges the generally accepted idea that digital and connected is a better way to do things. The sequence works because it is a caricature of our collective behaviors and consensus about how great Apple's ads are. Of course it could backfire, but that would require a serious competitor to IKEA with great agility and a world-class cross-channel commercial organization able to show the audience how a smart catalog with all the right tools could beat its more traditional competitors. Given that such a player only exists in the future and has a name starting with I and ending with A, today's IKEA can safely play this marcoms game.
Experience the power of a bookbook™:


About customer service

As Internet technologies become more pervasive in business a number of things are happening that are not unlike what many of us saw in the early days of use of IT in companies: after an enthusiastic early adoption that also happens to be a very chaotic phase, businesses become more mature and systematic in their approach, so operational aspects become critical aspects of the experience customers have of the company's products and services. However, with social media giving customers a much stronger voice, there is one specific aspect of operations that is of strategic importance: customer service, both in the traditional sense and in the form of self-service / self-care functions available online. There are at least three important guidelines every executive should keep in mind when deciding about marketing, sales and customer service.
1. Consistently good customer service comes through systems, not just smiles. 
2. Extraordinary customer service comes through smiles, not just systems.
3. You can’t give good customer service if you don’t hire appropriate employees.
To get another more quantified perspective on the importance of customer service, we recommend reading a recent publication by McKinsey&Co titled "Why companies should care about e-care".