Q&A Session on Technology and Brands

In late 2011 I had a good friend ask me some questions about the digital and marketing landscape we’re facing. Some interesting answers came out and thought I’d share:


1.  What are some of the most common challenges facing brands as they establish/evolve their identity in today’s online world?

One of the biggest challenges brands face these days is the amount of noise and clutter that exists.

Simply put: it is getting harder and harder to get people to come and visit.  People are spread too thin, we have too many options. In essence, offline and online worlds are becoming incredibly fractured and niche, and that is a difficult ecosystem to navigate for brands who have always relied on mass to reach a lot of people.

It gets even more difficult as audiences shift into more focused social platforms.  That shift condenses traffic spread.  So instead of being smart and thinking through what experiences you can create and how to get people to your site or presence, brands are focusing on where people are.  And that is not a great strategic direction in digital.  Where you used to focus on what made you great and offered experiences that made your brand sing, now, most brands jump into established communities and don’t think through what their place is inside that community.

2.  What company has most profoundly re-defined or improved its identity in the past few years through digital activity?

Two brands come to mind.  And a close third.

Best Buy has done a great job of getting out there and establishing themselves as a great digital brand, in that they understand what their customers challenges are pre, during and post purchase and offers solutions that meet their customer’s needs in those purchase phases.

Ford has done a great job of making themselves relevant again by rethinking their product and understanding that consumers have changed.  They’ve stepped up their efforts to offer an in-car experience that has, in the past, been reserved for high-end luxury.  If you can make a consumer’s life easier and allow them to use the technology they carry or are used to using in their daily lives, and offer it into your cabin, you are going to get into the consideration set.

The third: Domino’s.  I mean they’ve reset their marketing strategy and embraced the transparency we’re all asking for.  Send us a picture of your cheese sticking to the box.  Call us on our brands’s mistakes.  That’s important to people, and Domino’s is doing a nice job of delivering and communicating on that. I also think their order tracking application has really heightened what was a formerly passive experience.

3.  What do you think of the current state of corporate/brand engagement in spaces like Facebook?

It stinks.  But it is getting better.

We really need to get rid of “media” in social media.  Digital has, and remains, a channel where consumers make a choice to visit you.  So just because you have an aggregated audience doesn’t mean they want you there to shout at them.

It always has been, and continues to be, about understanding the interactive opportunity that your brand has. Facebook is no different.  So I challenge brands to be better at thinking through this notion “how do I help?”  Meaning instead off messaging to people, think through what their followers are looking for from them inside Facebook and delivering content that makes sense.  And keep it going!!

4. Networks like LinkedIn have changed the landscape of recruiting, job hunting and talent acquisition. What can companies be doing to remain competitive and continually attract fresh talent in this open market? 

Younger generations want to be a part of something. They will accept less and offer you more – but the minute you stifle or offer obstacles your workforce will shut down.

So….stop managing so much.  I really believe you can get a lot out of people by being inclusive, open and by listening.

5.  Name one thing you would love to be able to do online within the next 5 years?

I would absolutely love to be able to manage my entire home remotely.

I think that telco’s, utilities and financial firms have the capability of being leaders in a very utilitarian digital reset.  Allow me to touch, feel and manage the services I pay for from outside of the walls of my home or office.  Completely.

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