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A New Don: How the sales profession has evolved from the Mad Men era

As a fan of the series “Mad Men” TV series, I have to share this comparison of the sales profession development with you. When we compare the decades from 1950-2010, we realizte that there were some significant differences. From Don and his friends’ wild office parties and massive whisky as well as martini consumption to a straight organized reality where sales automation has taken over and social media rules the communication between people.

Although, we still here at the universities and in seminars from the advertising Gods like Leo Burnett and David Ogilvy, Don Draper’s world has seen a radical shift in sales profession. But in which direction…? The guys from Leads360 have created an infographic that defines the main trends we saw lately…
– 1960: In-person pitch.
– 1970: Door-to-door vacuum pitch.
– 1980: Not really specified in any direction…
– 1990: In the beginning email messaging, later customer relationship management (CRM)
– 2000: Social integration (Social Media)
– 2010: Intelligent sales automation

“Over the last 50 years, many of these fundamental sales strategies have remained incredibly valuable,” states the infographic. Maybe you find the reasons why when reading through it.

Today, we are talking of Facebook as the barbeque with “friends and fans” and of Twitter as the chatter at the toilet. Well, it seems that we haven’t moved away from socializing. Maybe we just need to add some drinks next to our screens…

The_New_Don_Infographic_Sales

Google Study: How mobile-friendly sites help sales

While Facebook turns more and more to search and ad exchange budgets, Google is still riding the mobile wave. In many moderations over the last two years, I could listen to their attitude towards building mobile websites, and why these are important to the business of the future. However, companies often resist to face the mobile evolution and still stick to their conventional desktop websites. Not to mention what this does to their brands when the user experience is driving into a nightmare of usability and readability.

To get more attraction for their mission, Google has now published some research data on their blog that will help them to evangelize in the mobile business world approach. The benefit for Google is obvious. The more people use mobile sites, the better the experience in mobile usage, the more people tend to approach the Google search which means more marketing budgets into their hands.

In their research of about 1,100 U.S. adult smartphone users conducted by  market research firms Sterling Research and SmithGeiger, Google gives some handsome advertising tips to make marketers better understand and evaluate the power of mobile.

The key findings can be summarized as follows…
– 67% of smartphone users state a mobile-friendly site makes them more likely to buy a company’s product or service
– 74% are more likely to return to the site with a good experience later.
– 61% made clear that when they don’t find what they’re looking for (in roughly five seconds), they’ll click away to another site.
– 50% of respondents said even if they like a business, they’ll use its site less often if it doesn’t work well on their smartphone.
– 72% see a mobile-friendly site important to them, however 96% have visited sites that aren’t.

Spot On!
The Google study advices marketers to create a fast mobile site with big buttons and text, and simplify the mobile experience in terms of keeping steps to complete tasks to a minimum. For sure, Google did not forget to promote the site with Google mobile ads with some good results: two-thirds of people who use search find a site. Their conclusion is that “having a great mobile site is no longer just about making a few more sales. It’s become a critical component of building strong brands, nurturing lasting customer relationships, and making mobile work for you”. There is not much more to add.
Still, we would be happy to hear from your mobile experience – with or without Google. Did you change your site lately and what did it do to your sales?

Interview: "Social Business = Creating a smarter workforce & a proven solution to business challenges"

One-on-one interview with Ed Brill

Ed Brill is Director, Social Business and Collaboration Solutions, at IBM. Brill is responsible for the product and market strategy for IBM’s messaging, collaboration, communications, and productivity products, including Lotus Notes and Domino, IBM SmartCloud Notes, IBM Sametime, Lotus Symphony, IBM Docs, and other related social business solutions. Brill’s focus is on extending and growing the success of these solutions through customer engagement, partner ecosystem development, and harnessing the breadth and depth of the IBM organization.

The Strategy Web spoke with him about the relevance and future of Social Business.

Why is Social Business not only a buzzword?

Leaders in every industry are leveraging Social Business technology to disrupt their industries and create competitive advantage. They are improving productivity and unleashing innovation by tapping into the collective intelligence inside and outside their organizations. With social, they’re creating a smarter workforce and proving that social business isn’t just a buzzword, it’s a proven solution to business challenges.

According to Forrester Research, the market opportunity for social enterprise apps is expected to grow at a rate of 61 percent through 2016. According to IBM’s CEO Study, today only 16 percent of CEOs are using social business platforms to connect with customers, but that number is poised to spike to 57 percent within the next three to five years.

What does it take to make a business “social”?

Organizations have quickly learned that a Social Business is more than just having a Facebook page and a Twitter account. In a Social Business, every department in the organization has embedded social capabilities into their traditional business processes to fundamentally impact how work gets done to create business value. A Social Business utilizes social software technology to communicate with its rich ecosystem of clients, business partners and employees.

Social business is a strategic approach to shaping a business culture, highly dependent upon transparency and trust from executive leadership and corporate strategy, including business process design, risk management, leadership development, financial controls and use of business analytics. Becoming a Social Business can help an organization deepen customer relationships, generate new ideas and innovate faster, identify expertise, enable a more effective workforce and ultimately drive its bottom line.

What does it mean to change the culture of a company?

Changing an organizations culture to embrace social must start from the top. Senior leadership must buy in and promote a culture of sharing, transparency and trust. Recent studies by IBM see this shift, today’s C-Suite recognizes the potential of social. Consider this, according to IBM’s 2012 CEO Study, today only 16 percent of CEOs are using social business platforms to connect with customers, but that number is poised to spike to 57 percent within the next three to five years. Similarly. IBM’s 2011 CIO Survey of 3,000 global leaders indicated that more than 55% of companies identified social networking as having a strategic significance to their company’s growth. And finally, 2011 IBM CMO Study reports that CMOs are using social platforms to communicate with their customers, 56 percent view it as a key communication channel. These senior leaders are the key to social business adoption and there’s a real shift occurring, social business is now a business imperative.

What role is the flexible workspace playing in the process?

Companies are able to build virtual teams out of expertise and leadership, regardless of their physical location or title on the organization chart. Today’s workforce expects to be able to share, post, update and communicate with colleagues, customers, and ecosystem using social tools to get real work done. Through those tools, employees who work remotely, use flexible “hot desks” in company offices, or open floorplans can leverage tools for instant e-meetings, video and audio tools, and embedded applications to process knowledge and activities faster and deliver more value to the organization.

What’s your advice for companies to become a “social business”?

Companies around the world are now focused on becoming Social Businesses, Forrester Research estimates that the market opportunity for social software is expected to increase 60% annually. But perhaps the most daunting part of becoming a social business is how to start the journey. That’s where creating a Social Business Agenda plays a vital role. In order to become successful in social business, an organization needs to create its own personalized Agenda that addresses the company’s culture, trust
between management and employees and the organization and its constituencies, engagement behind and outside of the firewall, risk management, and of course, measurement. The sponsorship for such an activity can be driven by leadership, lines of business, or other organizational catalyst roles.

Tuesday generates highest engagement for social campaigns

Did you not ever want to know what the best day for a Social Media marketing campaign could be? Well, you can get some good indication with the following study…

Many Facebook campaigns go live on Fridays. However, the day that generates most user engagement for a campaign on the social network is the Tuesday, which ranked only fourth in terms of the number campaigns conducted. These are some of the findings of a recent study done by Yesmail Interactive. The results are based on a three-month study of consumer engagement with online campaigns for 20 major retails brands, including Abercrombie & Fitch, Gap, or Ralph Lauren among others.

The study with the title “Using Digital Market Intelligence to Drive Multi–Channel Success” figured out the customer engagement of campaigns on the most popular social networks. In order to understand campaign engagement, it compared the relationship between “volume-based engagement” of Facebook campaigns (number of “likes” or comments a campaign generates) and “actual engagement analysis”. The finding is quite obvious, in that the lower the brand “likes”, the fewer likes and comments a brand on Facebook gets. Still, independent of the size of their fan base, some retail brands generate higher engagement levels than others through Facebook. Nevertheless, average-performing brands still performed as engagement winners, including i.e. Ann Taylor, Eddie Bauer or Kenneth Cole. 

Although, we have already reported that a balanced frequency in posting status updates is important for the success of a Facebook campaign, there is no blueprint and guarantee for success. The most engaging brands had deployed between 20 and 32 campaigns per month. Compared to the five least engaging brands with 54 campaigns per month, it becomes obvious that posting less frequently is better. From a timing perspective, the best Facebook engagement was generated for campaigns launching between 10 pm and 12 am Eastern time (EST) which was also the least-used deployment time slot.

For Twitter, the research showed that most Twitter campaigns (20%) were conducted on Friday, which again is the least engaging day for such campaigns. Almost on the same engagement level performed Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday as those most engaging campaign days. Over 84% of all Twitter campaigns were deployed within regular work hours (between 9am and 7pm EST).

The performance of the 20 retail brands on Twitter showed big differences. Although Forever 21 came in first in terms of follower base, the brand’s campaigns showed significantly lower engagement among followers than the campaigns of brands with smaller follower bases.

The five most engaging brands did 45 to 70 Twitter campaigns per month on Twitter versus the five least engaging brands with an average number between 95 and 115 Twitter campaigns per month. It shows again that lower frequency is better than big blast promotions. If marketers want to generate high engagement, they should place their campaigns between 5 am to 6 am and 7 am to 8 am EST.

In terms of YouTube campaigns, the study found that 85% of the brands studied have a YouTube channel. Still, just 35% deployed campaigns during the research period. Some more findings indicate that on average, retailers conducted 3.5 campaigns per month during the study. The best day for interaction occurred to be Monday. Do we have to mention that this was the least likely day for campaign deployment? YouTube campaigns deployed between 2 am-3 am EST found the highest engagement rates.

The study is based on campaigns conducted from January to March, 2012 via Yesmail Market Intelligence. The selection of brands focusses on 18-35 year-olds as of their digital communication interest.

How Mobile Marketing and B2B work together (video)

We have already shared some information on a Google and Compete study that shows why B2B and mobile have a close connection. And the most relevant information from a mobile point of view can be taken from eMarketer graphic.

The importance of mobile for B2B is partly as business decision makers are frequent travelers, thus most connected business people, and partly as smartphones and tablets have given them a new freedom. And today, we also know from CNBC research that executives in Europe see the increasing value of being engaged on Twitter. B2B managers can and have their conversations anytime-anywhere from their devices.

But what is the marketing potential it offers for companies then?

As business decision makers by their definition have to be fast in their decision making process, today’s professionals need to be connected, informed, and productive wherever they are traveling, or whenever they are in meetings. As of that mobile devices give B2B marketing new opportunities to open up new relationships if using apps, QR codes or video in an intelligent way.

In her YouTube channel, on Twitter and in her blog) Christina CK Kerley shares her knowledge on mobile B2B strategies alongside some good cases. Her latest video gives some insight in how B2B marketers can use mobile to connect the offline and the online world in order to leverage B2B printed ads, to integrate the customers’ voice into video, or to bolster B2B thought-leadership content through images, video and text.

Study: Web-traffic boosts in-store sales

In a recent study the research companies comScore, Accenture and dunnhumbyUSA found some significant relevance between in-store sales and a company’s web presence. The study was based on a panel of CPG customers and one million U.S. Internet users who have given comScore explicit permission to have their online activities continuously measured and matched to their in-store brand buying behavior provided by dunnhumbyUSA.

The report comes to the conclusion that consumers who visit a website prior to their shopping experience in a company store spend 34% more with that company and 57% more on products or services based on their specific industry sector. It also states that visitors of brand websites are frequent buyers of the brand in retail stores. It shows that 42% more of these clients finish their transactions than non-visitors. Furthermore, website visitors are also heavier buyers in a brand’s product category. They are spending 53% more in their category dollars than non-visitors.

“Since website visitors have higher affinity to the brand and the overall product category, there is an opportunity for brand marketers to drive loyalty through personalizing the website experience, catering to the preferences of their best customers.”John LaRocca, Vice President, Strategic Partnerships, dunnhumbyUSA

And again another study highlights the importance of content marketing as the new emerging trend in marketing. Shoppers were more aggressive in their approach to understand and evaluate their purchases prior to their visit in shops as a result of the massive information access through the web. According to the research, content marketing plays a significant role here. So, campaigns on the web not only add value to web shopping but also -and for some companies and brands more importantly- will help to drive and boost in-store habits and sales – apart from positioning a brand’s capability.

“Marketers who create compelling (brand) website experiences for consumers are extremely effective in driving incremental and profitable in-store sales. Analysis shows that consumers visiting the best of the 10 CPG brand websites evaluated in the research study, spent over 200% more on the brand than non-visitors.” Jerry Lohse, Senior Director, Accenture Interactive

Based on the fact that Brafton reported some weeks ago that the average consumer visits more than 10 web pages before a purchase decision, this study marks an important point in the relevance between online and offline shopping. This might be catalyzed by the new opportunities that smartphones, tablets or Augmented Reality (see real-life community shopping) offer, and shows the straight relationship between the two shopping experiences which more and more merge to one close shopping cycle.

Spot On!
More companies are realizing that offering web shoppers the same information and service as in-stores will lead to more purchase at both ends of the shopping cycle: online and at offline locations. The challenge for companies is to differentiate the shopping experience by using SoLoMo (social – local – mobile). Here the question for the future will remain whether in-store shopping needs to become more of a lifestyle experience or adventure to attract more consumers to join in-store activity (see IKEA Sleepover), or wether people will want to have real people around them and thus make it a social reality world, rather than a social web world…

How a campaign brings multiscreen couples together

Many families, and especially couples, experience new formats of evening togetherness. Couples are not leaning back any longer and simply watching TV, or having relaxed chats next to it. With most couples, both partners are using their smartphones, tablets or notebooks to chat with friends, to update their status for their fans and keep in touch with their digital fellows while the TV sceen is fighting for viewing figures.

Did you realize that TV gets the former status of the radio in our digital world? People listen to TV but are actively engaged in something else, in another screen conversation, in a multiscreen reality. Mobile becomes the new prime time. Radio always was the number two from a user attention perspective. So is singlescreen attention today, it is out, digital leads. Multichannel is the big future, and the looser is… the personal relationship. We all know how relaxing it is to lean back, and how TV reduces our “most emotional relationship activities” to a minimum, multiscreen usage could become a limitation catalyst.

But there is hope…

CP+B has thought about this development, maybe not… Still, they tell us in a new campaign how couples most commonly book trips. They have created a 2 for 1 campaign for Scandinavian Airlines. The campaign called “Couple Up to Buckle Up” was launched in banners, emails, facebook app, or print ads, and used two unique QR codes to bring people closer together again, i.e. to book a flight to Paris together.

In the campaign approach, couples need to scan the QR code assigned to them. Then, they would sync their half of a video based offer and reveal the discount code split across both screens. Bit of a challenge to scan/play at the same time but still a nice idea on a critical relationship topic.

And maybe this will help to… Well, you decide!

Couple Up to Buckle Up from Tobias Carlson on Vimeo.

Productivity squared? Future productivity vision 2011 (video)

Many of us web techies have seen the 2009 version of Microsoft’s productivity vision. In their video, Microsoft offered an outlook on how technology could “transform the way we get things done at school, at work, and in the home over the next 5 to 10 years”. Some things have become real in their vision…

Many companies fear that productivity might get lost with the advent of Millenials working in companies in the future. And one things is for sure, screens will change our productivity and our daily working habits in the future.

Also, in their latest version 2011 we can find visions that seem to be not too far away from us, not even visions any more. The video gives still some interesting aspects to think about on how future technology could make our time more efficient to focus our attention on productivity. Now, whether this really strenghtens our relationships when we do different things at the same time, needs to be seen.

Watch it and tell us if this is how you would like to see your productivity squared, and if this is to become real in your future…?!

The Virtual Handshake

Marko Greitschus / pixelio.de

When I was a kid, my grandparents had a little pub. Nothing special. Nothing glamorous. Just a comfortable meeting point for friends or business partners to catch up for a drink. The best day always was the “market day”. Merchants were setting up their booths at the marketplace in the little village my grandparents were living in, early in the morning when most people were still snoring in their beds. When their job was done, they popped up at the pub around 7am when their wives took over to sell their goods.

The guests in the pub did not expect very much. A drink was their desire. A tasty sandwich was luxury to them. Competition amoung pubs was tough, even in this little village a long time ago. There were many pubs around in that coal distrinct north of Germany. The owners of the other pubs in the village changed more or less every year, some even earlier. My grandparents’ business stayed for over a decade, until they decided it was time to stop working. The guests loved their attitude, their individual touch, their personalized way of talking to them. My grandparents’ business was successful.

What was the key to their success story?

Before I answer this question, let me ask you something… When did you shake hands last time with a friend, or a business partner? Do you remember? Did you ever think about why we are shaking hands with people? Have you ever not returned a handshake? It is a common habit of introducing ourselves and of saying Goodbye. We just do it. Well, let’s say in the offline world we do it…

Those days, whenever somebody came into my grandparents’ pub, my grandma and granddad gave them a personal handshake, embedded in some small talk about the weather or last nights sports results. The conversation made people feel good, feel wanted, not just being anonymous guests. They created a living room. People started talking with them about their personal hopes, fears, issues. The handshake had broken the ice…

In our social web world of today, customer relationship management and social networking become an increasingly important factor to be maintain a successful business within a more and more challenging and competitive world.

Many relationships today begin with a virtual handshake. So you may ask: What is a virtual handshake? Today, it comes in the format of a comment on a blog post, a LIKE on a status update on a Fanpage, an introduction mail inside a social network, or an invitation to join a community (Facebook or LinkedIn or a company specific).

In the offline world, nobody would turn away and not return the handshake. However, in the online world individuals put effort in terms of writing, talking and engaging with companies and brands, making their brand passion transparent, or just opening their minds to “business” (or privat?) conversations. All of that often before having received a virtual handshake with those companies that are reaching out to them via their -often anonymous- social hubs.

By participating in a community or engaging in conversations, customers take the initiative, they state a case and describe an act of will. Companies tend to forget that this is a virtual handshake. “Hello! Here I am! Look what I am telling you…”.

Many companies and brands do not answer. They don’t reply on social networks. They don’t value the hand that is right in front of them waiting. The hand which feeds them and their business. The free opportunity to connect, collaborate, or convert. Lack of time and resources is the killer of many of their social web activities.

My grandparents never forgot to shake hands with people that came to visit their pub. This was their success story. So simple, right…?

Think about it next time you set up a group, start a community or approach someone on a social network (be it via InMail on LinkedIn or a status update on Facebook). Relationships start with a handshake – whether real or virtual. There just needs to be somebody that returns the handshake. For some this might be a change management process, for some it is just natural attitude towards customers…

Studies: The internet is more important than water…?!

Can we access the internet if we have nothing to drink anymore, if our water is poluted? No, we can not! Sometimes, adults should ask themselves about, and quickly start to re-think, the values that they hand over to our kids. I am happy to have spoken with mine about this topic last year around the Blog Action Day 2010

Some weeks ago, I have written about a UK study from the London Science Museum made clear that UK people rather prefer to have sunshine and internet connection than clean water. Now, Cisco comes up with a similar study.

The Cisco study states that one in three college students and young professionals consider the Internet to be as important as fundamental human resources such as air, water, food and shelter. The study is based on the second annual Cisco Connected World Technology Report. It examines the relationship between human behaviour, the Internet and networking’s pervasiveness across 14 countries in the world (United States, Canada Mexico, Brazil, United Kingdom, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Russia, India, China, Japan, Australia).

Mahesh Gupta, Vice-President, Business-Borderless Networks, Cisco (India and SAARC), said in a teleconference on Thursday that about 33% across the globe and 95% Indian college students and young employees admitted that Internet was as important in their lives as water, food, air and shelter. The internet has become a crucial important thing in peoples’ lives. More than half of the respondents (62% of employees and 55% of college students) said they could not live without the Internet. They see it as an “integral part of their lives”.

From a face-to-face social perspective, it is also quite amazing to see that people had indicated that Internet was more important to them than meeting with friends, dating, or listening to music. Like in the UK study, updating Facebook seems to be of the highest priority – higher than socializing. Gupta stated that within certain countries 91% of college students and 88% of employees globally had Facebook account and check it on a daily basis at least once. Furthermore, seven of 10 employees have “friended” their managers and coworkers on Facebook, and 68% follow their manager or their work colleagues on Twitter.

From a hardware point of view, mobiles rank highest as their important technology device, as high as being “the most important technology”. Two-thirds of students and 58% of employees felt that a mobile device (laptop, smartphone or tablets) was the most important technology hardware in their lives. Young employees in the UK (74%), India (71%) and Australia (66%) ranked highest when it comes to the importance of mobiles devices.

Spot On!
The study also shows some trends that other industries should watch out for. When two of five students have not bought a physical book (except textbooks) in two years, this is a clear message to the print industry. And when 2 out of 3 choose Internet connection over cars, the it becomes clear why concepts like BMW Drive Now and Smart Car2Go become popular. However, the new trends also need to be watched from a distraction point of view when being online.

Let’s hope they don’t forget to drink some water…