Listening to Me or Doing Something Else?

Social skills have suffered a great deal not necessarily due to “social media” per-say, but because of all the electronics we all carry and are addicted to in our daily lives. It did not used to be so easy to ignore people and seem disinterested because there was not much else to do during a meeting or when in a group. Now we have the world at our fingertips, so it is incredibly important to make it known to people what is acceptable and what is not. For instance when I am speaking to an audience, I do really want them quoting and posting about me via social channels as it spreads my words throughout the social graph, and to many who cannot attend. But when in a meeting or speaking one-to-one I certainly want their attention. But I also remember that many in the room are not really important to the meeting so I do not care if they are “off” somewhere else and I focus on those who “are” paying attention. We all need to set our standards and agenda’s and focus on those who are worthwhile and can deliver. You cannot truly impose ethics, but you can lead by example.

Originally posted at

#SOcialpr: Brand Apologies on the Rise. Implications for your biz, brand, and future

With social media usage the new societal norm, we’ve developed a hyper-connected culture, where what we do and what we say is publicly broadcasted in a matter of seconds. Social media has opened up a whole new world of opportunities, many of which should not be taken recklessly, considering the presence of such a mass audience.

Every day, 50 million Twitter users and 9 million Canadian Facebook users log on to the web to check the latest news, see what their friends are up to, and check in with their favourite brands. These considerable numbers represent a public that is ever vigilant, always watching, listening and sharing – evoking a new culture of social policing.

This summer, we saw a proliferation of public apologies issued by businesses and celebrities, including Twilight heroine Kristen Stewart, Olympic athlete Voula Papachristou, online fashion retailer Celeb Boutique, and even social network giant Twitter. All of which attracted considerable controversy.

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Marketing Lessons from Children: Listen for “Moments” — and Make it Personal

As marketers we think we’re all grown up, and that business has nothing to do with being personal. Like the pat excuse we’ve all heard when a business decision affects other people’s lives, “This isn’t personal, it’s a business decision.”

It’s that kind of thinking that kills us as marketers and brands—when we take “personal” out of the equation we always lose. However, we can turn that around and win! And the quickest way I know to learning how to do this is to closely observe children in action. Think about it… when our kids are young we can talk to them, share with them and really relate on a kid level—and we can also control them to an extent. But when they’re teenagers, they’re not as open to what we tell them; pushing things on them just builds more resistance. And if they think you’re going to give them a speech, they shut you down in a hurry.  If you want to get through to teens you have to look for moments when they’re receptive, tamp down the desire to push your opinions on them, and just listen. Be there for them. Help them when they ask for it, but don’t preach at them. It takes practice to learn to recognize those opportunities.

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How the San Francisco Giants Hit a Home Run with Social Media

It wasn’t too long ago when sport industries were confounded by the openness of social media and the ability for fans and players to share experiences in real time. Now of course, times have changed and teams in every sporting league imaginable are experimenting with social media to improve relationships and experiences with fans. The San Francisco Giants are among the sports teams that are leading the way for a new genre of engagement and community building.

2010 was a whimsical year for the San Francisco Giants. Not only did the team win its first World Series in 54 years, it was the year that a new Giants story started to unfold. Pablo Sandoval, Brian Wilson and the beard, Tim Lincecum, and the rest of the team started to win together and social media emerged as a digital stadium where fans around the world could not only watch how the story unfolded, but also become part of the story.

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Twitter/Social and Small Business

Twitter has not been readily accepted as a small business tool yet but there are those who are having a great deal of success using it in many ways. So why should small business be using social media at all? The most prominent reasons are responding to customer questions, networking and education… but there’s more. To date, most small businesses have not been looking to help build the sales funnel through these channels. This is interesting considering some of the success that can be found with a small business that gets it. And for those who do, and execute effectively, the opportunity to directly facilitate and create sales are out there and have the potential to be huge since the volume of additional sales that can make a difference are fractional compared to what it takes for a large organization.

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Blitz Package: My One On One With The CMO Of The Philadelphia Eagles

Another season of NFL football is upon us and I for one could not be happier. Living in the northeast, Philly to be exact, I always love feeling that cool, crisp fall air on a Sunday afternoon as my beloved Eagles gear up for battle. Makes me want to suit up myself.

Well, not really but I do wear a jersey on game day. Hey, I know I’m 46 years-old but I can’t help it. I just love football.

But I also love marketing and advertising and as such I decided I want to go behind-the-scenes and pull back the astroturf to see what goes on in the marketing department of a professional football team. So I reached out to Tim McDermott, the Chief Marketing Officer of the Philadelphia Eagles. I wanted to pick his brain to see what it means to market and promote a professional football team in a city where a) the fans are very knowledgeable and yes, fanatical and b) there are three other major sports franchises all competing for the same piece of the sports consumer pie.

As you will see the marketing of an NFL team has its own unique set of challenges but you will also notice that a lot of the same logic Tim and his team use is applicable to any business or organization wanting to build a strong brand.

SO: What are the biggest challenges (overall) in the marketing of an NFL team? 
TM: One of the biggest challenges we face is that we don’t have nearly as much control over our product as we would like. In other words, we can’t control wins and losses. A restaurant chain can control the atmosphere, the ingredients in their food, the taste of their food, the lighting, and so on. A customer has a set of expectations, including consistency that the restaurant tries to meet/exceed. As marketers of a professional football team, we can’t control the outcome on the field.

Therefore, our job is to manage all of the other variables that impact satisfaction in order to create an incredibly strong brand so that when the team is successful we are able to maximize success. Obviously winning helps. But I believe you can and must create successful brands independent of on the field results.

SO: How has the marketing of an NFL team changed over the past 3-5 years? 
TM: The explosion in digital media has created new platforms, new ways to engage fans, new commerce opportunities, new ways to communicate. It really has created a complete shift in allocation of resources (where we spend ad dollars, how we allocate internal resources, etc). In nearly all industries, power, information, and control has shifted to the consumer. Consumers want transparency and authenticity. They have a voice and want to be heard.  We set up a digital department so that we could dedicate resources to the exponentially growing digital revolution.

The staff in this department are thinking about new media every day and the ways we can leverage it. Meanwhile, two years ago, we also established a 35 person season ticket holder advisory board.  We meet eight to ten times a year and discuss a variety of topics. The idea isn’t just to create a glorified focus group, but rather they are to be extensions of our marketing department.  In other words, we don’t just want them to tell us what we are doing wrong, we want them to help us come up with the solutions. That sort of dialogue with our consumer has been invaluable to improving the fan experience.

SO: What impact, if any, does the fact that there are 3 other major sports teams in the city of Philadelphia have on you market the Eagles?
TM:Philadelphia is an incredible sports city.  In fact, it has to be one of the best, if not the best.  Everyone in this city breathes and lives sports. Sports matter here. This is a four for four town. People root for all four teams. In general, I think the better each team does, it helps all of us.

At some level there is friendly competition with the other teams.  I think it makes the marketers at each team strive to be the best we can be.  We each want to innovate, to create new programs, to offer our fans the best experience.  And when we see something being done well by one of the other teams there is respect and admiration.

SO: (follow up) Do you think it would be easier, harder or about the same to market the Eagles if there were NOT 3 other major sports teams in the city?
TM: I think having all major sports teams represented is part of the core identity of this city.  I love the fact that there is hockey, baseball, football, basketball, and soccer. It provides the foundation to having many strong sports media entities in newspapers, blogs, TV networks, and radio stations. And when you have so many great sports media outlets talking about your product, it helps continue to fuel the passion for your team.

SO: What impact, if any, does the success of the team on the field have on what is done off it re: marketing?
TM: Winning certainly helps with off the field business performance. When teams win, there typically is some positive correlation to other KPIs. But it’s hard to quantify the level of correlation between winning and off the field success. And I would never let team performance dictate who or what our brand is or be an excuse for off the field performance.

Named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review and a Top 50 Social Media Blogger by Kred, Steve Olenski is a freelance copywriter/blogger looking for full-time work. He has worked on some of the biggest brands in the world and has more than 20 years experience in advertising and marketing. He lives in Philly and can be reached via email,TwitterLinkedIn, or his website.

If you are only focused on the Money, you risk completely overlooking the People

I was with a senior marketing executive from a major retailer recently and we got into an hour long conversation about Return on Relationship™, my philosophy, and what it means to me. He was incredibly interested personally and for his company, is a very thoughtful person and was interested in digging down to what my mission is… or better yet, what I want most to accomplish with respect to ROR (#RonR). What it seems to come down to, after discussing, riffing on the topic, and a bit of introspection, was helping others without expectations of what you get directly from that person in return. And how that plays into the old adage… “what goes around, comes around.” We then had an inspirational discussion of what that means to us personally and can mean for brands with consumers.

Short and simple: if you are only focused on the money, you risk completely overlooking the people. Don’t make that mistake! If you don’t know who your people are, you might as well toss your marketing and prospecting money down the drain. It is not that complicated.

Relationships ARE the new currency – honor them, invest in them, and start measuring your ROR

Originally posted at

Message to Businesses: Change Your Framework—Change Your Future






Originally posted at IBM Smarter Commerce… Redefining commerce in the age of the customer. 

A comment by Dino Dogan on my post regarding Scaling Social Messaging got me thinking recently. He said:

“Businesses try to force-fit their own framework onto the existing social framework. That’s a mistake. Social framework is much bigger and stronger. When two frameworks meet, one has to give in. In this case, biz framework has no choice but to give in or lose out. “

This is totally in opposition to the way businesses approached frameworks in the past. In the past, the frameworks were controlled, imposed, and enforced onto consumers by a business.”

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Bah Humbug – Lack Of Mobile Integration Means Not So Happy Holidays For Brands

You know, there are some things in life that never cease to amaze. For instance, how is it after all these years of marriage (we’re approaching 20) I still somehow manage to do exactly the opposite of what my wife really wants me to do? You would think during the course of my marriage I would do onething the way she intended it to be done, yes?

Um, no.

Another thing that never ceases to me amaze me, as we approach the holiday season in the year 2012 is the fact that so many brands, still are not integrating their offline with their online marketing strategies.

“A report from global interactive marketing provider ExactTarget found more than half of America’s fastest growing retailers have yet to fully connect online and offline shopping experience, leaving shoppers unsatisfied with their shopping experience.”

Two phones with mobile internet capability dis...The live above is from a press release I received recently. The headline of the release was even more ominous: Research Finds a ‘Mobile Chasm’ Between Retailers, Consumers Heading into Holiday Shopping Season. 

Wow. Anytime you throw the word “chasm” into a conversation and use it to describe any type of gap or hole, you know instantly that said gap or hole is as Mike Myers might say, friggin huge!

Jeff Rohrs, ExactTarget’s vice president of marketing research and education says as they gear up for the holidays, marketers need to “consider how consumers use their mobile phones while shopping,” adding “shoppers are turning to their phones for coupons, promotions and discounts, and marketers have a never-before-seen opportunity to transform these interactions into ongoing conversations that drive sales and repeat purchases.”

The press release also makes mention of a Forrester report from earlier this year which, among others, reported that:

  • Twice as many consumers compared to last year are researching products for purchase using their mobile device
  • More U.S. mobile phone owners are downloading applications and receiving SMS/text alerts compared to last year

Should any of this surprise or amaze you? If it does, it’s time to think about a career change if you’re currently in a marketing or advertising related position. Seriously, if you don’t already know of the impact of Mobile Marketing, I would like you to draw me a picture of the rock you clearly have been living under.

It should also come as no surprise that the lack of online and offline integration is “leaving shoppers unsatisfied with their shopping experience.”

Last July I wrote an article titled Shoppers Want Integration, Retailers And Marketers Not Delivering It in which I made reference to two separate reports/surveys which revealed that integration, along with convenience and service are what consumers want most but find most retailers and retail marketers don’t deliver.

From the reports/surveys:

Integration (consistency) – What Consumers Want

  • 85% want an integrated shopping experience
  • 72% want an integrated marketing approach

Integration (consistency) – What Consumers Currently Get

  • 50% get an integrated shopping experience
  • 39% get an integrated marketing approach

Looking at the gap in percentages between what consumers want vs. what they actually get may or may not qualify as being “chasm-worthy” but make no mistake about it, there is a major disconnect for sure. And it’s not as if marketers don’t want to deliver an integrated approach, either.

From another article, this one titled aptly enough Marketing Integration: What Every Marketer Wants For Christmas:

The article was written last December and the above is a from survey conducted by Webmarketing123. You’ll notice that marketing integration outscored search engine marketing, PPC, even social media when it comes to what marketers want to learn. Yes Virginia, it even outscored social media.

So why then does integration continue to be The Eleven Letter Word That Continues To Elude All CMOs And Marketers?

Can’t we find a couch and Chuck Woolery and make a love connection between offline and online marketing strategies? Can it be that difficult?

This past May I made a trip back to the future of sorts, looking at Integrated Marketing Communications – Then And Now. I made reference to something that was written all the way back in the year 1999 in the The Journal of Marketing Communications: “The need to strive for greater integration is considered inevitable by many, although the means by which such integration may be achieved is uncertain.”

Seems the inevitability has come to fruition where the means is still something many are still seeking.

Named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review and a Top 50 Social Media Blogger by Kred, Steve Olenski is a freelance copywriter/blogger looking for full-time work. He has worked on some of the biggest brands in the world and has more than 20 years experience in advertising and marketing. He lives in Philly and can be reached via email,TwitterLinkedIn, or his website.


Why the CMO Needs to Bond with the Chief Supply Chain Officer (CSCO)

As the world of commerce continues to become more complex, volatile and socially transparent the need for a strong linkage between the CMO and the Chief Supply Chain Officer (CSCO) grows. In our ongoing exploration to better understand this need within the emerging reality I call Matrix Commerce, last week I had an opportunity to connect with John Mesberg of IBM.

The below Q & A points capture John’s insights into the growing need for C-Level bonding between CMO and CSCO. I then wrap up with a few thoughts on some of the SCM factors CMOs may want to consider as they begin to build out this relationship facilitated by technology for enhanced brand protection and longevity.

Ashcroft: Why is it important now for the Chief Supply Chain Officer and Chief Marketing Officer to partner?

Mesberg: When it comes to both marketing and supply chain and we consider consumer demand and supply, both sides are simultaneously becoming more volatile. On the demand side, you have consumers who expect more. They expect products to be delivered more quickly than we ever envisioned in the past. Consumers expect products to be available in an hour at a local store. They expect to walk into a store and if the store doesn’t have what they want, they expect the store to fulfill that order to make the sale. So the level of expectation on the consumer side is changing. On the supply side, we’re now dealing with a global supply chain with significant commodity price fluctuations. There’s political unrest, supplier volatility, and managing the risk of those suppliers. Both the consumer and demand side are undergoing more volatility than we saw even ten years ago. When it comes to marketing, I tell my clients, CMOs and marketers are the ones responsible for making brand promises. CMOs are telling their customers what to expect of the brand, whether that’s fashion, service, etc. And to a degree, marketers are now telling the customer to not just expect a certain product, but to expect a certain experience. And ultimately, marketers are dependent on supply chain officers to fulfill that brand promise and deliver on the experience. These promises however, are becoming increasingly more difficult to fulfill due to the increase in customer expectations and the challenges faced on the supply chain side in order to deliver the product and that experience.

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