Recently, my husband and I were on a rockhounding field trip on a dirt road in the wilds of Idaho. We hit a bad spot in the road and bam! bam! just like that, we had two flat tires.
Not to be foiled, we had brought along an electric tire pump for just such occasion. But, when we tried to repair the tires they would not inflate. None of the other tricks we had up our sleeve worked either and it was getting late. Ultimately, we had to be pulled onto a flatbed truck and driven 50 miles into Boise, where we arrived at midnight. Cost: $385.
The silver-lining to this story is that we have towing coverage with USAA. Within one day, the refund for the towing service was in our bank account. I’m a big fan of USAA and a brand advocate; I tell everyone about them.
And as I learned at a recent presentation by Rob Fuggetta, CEO of Zuberance, USAA has a lot of brand advocates. USAA’s Net Promoter Score (NPS), a metric for loyalty and brand advocacy, is #1 among brands in the US.
According to Fuggetta, the author of Brand Advocates: Turning Enthusiastic Customers into a Powerful Marketing Force, it’s not just the brand promise’s but the customer’s experience of the brand that builds advocates. Service is what makes the difference. Brand advocates are the people that, when asked “how likely are you to recommend our services?” score your product or service at a 9 or 10, out of a possible 0 – 10.
Word of mouth (WOM) recommendations happen all the time. They are now tweeted, mobile and web-enabled, but they are not new. Fuggetta made this important connection for the audience: WOM advocates have clout – they influence purchasing decisions and because of that, it is important to cultivate as well as mobilize your advocates. He also made the point that right now, the brands with the most recommends and advocates are the winners in the marketplace.
How can you mobilize your brand advocates? Here are the top techniques:
Request reviews and incentivize people to participate in your brand. Did you know that almost every category has review sites for product or service reviews? Interesting!
Give advocates an opportunity to tell their story about your brand. I just did this for USAA in the introduction to this blog post. My husband often does the same for Les Schwab Tires, a regional tire store in the Pacific Northwest that is also top in their category for WOM. That’s where we were towed to that memorable night in Idaho.
And, finally, you have to keep the energy going. Brand advocacy is not a one-time promotion. You have to work it, train on it, and build on it. Gather testimonials, collect stories, and curate the messages. Brands rarely build themselves.
Oh, and please “like”and tweet this post. Thanks!
Outsell, Inc., one of the best sources for awesome insights and keen analysis for the information industry, just came out with their Information Industry Outlook for 2014. The theme for 2014 is Convergence Now! You can’t read it without getting jazzed, buzzed, motivated, and otherwise encouraged. Here is part of the sentiment that will pull you in and keep you reading:
We see devices, humans, technologies, value chains, content, and workflows blending and becoming one human-machine ecosystem. Techno sapiens, anyone? There’s no need for more discussion about the print-to-digital shift or about device adoption. It’s all one now, as information and technology have come together as a result of the big bang of Break and Reset and industry players grokking what growth in the New Normal requires.
Outsell’s discussion of the information industry is very broad as it encompasses IT, news, advertising, healthcare, social media and other sectors. Some of the more interesting takeaways from the report include these:
- It’s time to stop focusing on separate services within marketing for “mobile,” “social,” and “digital” and rebel against ad agencies that set themselves up as a “Social Agency” or “Mobile Agency.” We’ve shown again and again that advertisers rate cross-media approaches (combining digital, print, and in-person events) as much more effective than any single media — certainly more effective than just digital or pure-play digital.
- It’s becoming increasingly difficult to determine where humans end and where technology begins. Humans want access to everything — social networks, news, games, video, TV, platforms, and applications — and they want it all the time. Because of this, we embody our devices and connectivity to a point that it becomes a part of us; techno sapiens — smart technology getting smarter — live at this intersection of humans and technology.
- This is the time to become a platform. Revenue growth is coming from integrating workflow tools and other value-added services, leveraging and repackaging new combinations of content and analytic assets, and exploring new business models. IHS, Thomson Reuters, Dwell Magazine, and Healthline all exemplify this trend and show that platform can be about coopetition and collaboration, as allowing others to develop solutions for customers on your platform can become a source of competitive advantage.
- The trend away from mass broadcast to 1-to-1 direct marketing will accelerate. Pull, not push, marketing will flip the advertising model upside down. Trusted environments and platforms for programmatic “intent-casting” will allow customers to advertise themselves as interested and willing to buy, not the other way around as it is today.
The global library market place is $24.2 billion! While it may be too soon for substantial hiring increases, these numbers reflect an optimism in the sector that was missing in the past two years.
Happy, healthy and prosperous New Year’s greetings to you! Now that you’ve shed all the relatives and got the house restored to its pre-holiday grandeur, it’s a good time to check the pulse of our industry going forward. Yep, it’s time to get back to the office and to focus on your goals for 2014. To help you obtain the information and insight you need to achieve your goals, I wanted to share insights about trends you can look forward to in 2014.
I’m fascinated with predictions, trends and pattern of future developments, and at this time of year there is no better place to get Future Ready than the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The CES is the world’s bigger tradeshow for electronics. You could call it the living, beating heart of Geekdom. If it’s techie, leading-edge, and nerdy, it’s there. Many brands stage elaborate displays and use the show as a launch pad for announcing new products and partnerships.
You really owe yourself at least one pilgrimage to CES during your career. Some of the new technologies are pretty amazing and some are, well, let’s just say they are provocative.
It looks like the reporters are seeing similar patterns, as these stories are on everyone’s radar:
- Wearable technology—such as LG’s LifeBand Touch which tracks your fitness activities and even monitors your pulse and oxygen consumption. Also read: Wearables at CES: the useful, the useless & the downright bizarre. CNN predicts a gadget for every limb and a connected house as two of their Five Trends to Watch at CES.
- The Connected Home—such as using your smart phone to unlock doors is garnering attention. TechCrunch discusses sensors that help you track the comfort levels in your home the way Fitbit and Jawbone track your health.
- Supersized smart TV’s IEEE Spectrum pegs 2014 as the year of the smart TV because of Ultra High Definition, flexible curving screens (don’t they have to curve when they are over 70”?) and new integrated apps in CES 2014 Trends: TV’s Future is Curvy, Smart, and 4K.
- Smart cars that not only parallel park themselves automatically, but also drive autonomously. Digital Trends has a great gallery featuring smart cars and wearables.
How will all this play out at the checkout counter? When I was at CES three years ago, the big pitch was for 3D TV’s, but consumers did not buy them, by and large. This year, the hot TV technologies are curved screens and 4K. But will they be on our homes next year? It’s hard to predict which new technologies will gain traction with the consumer for many reasons.
However, each of trends listed above is part of the bigger mega-trend, the Internet of Things, which is showing up in a broad cross-section of industries, from architecture to energy to medicine, and more. The underlying infrastructure which is based on cloud computing and mobile technology has been building in capacity for many years and can support the shift to an even more connected world, so we anticipate the product showcased at CES this year will gain traction.
Are you ready for this uber-connected world? I can help you take advantage of this new frontier by providing you with the following services:
· Deep dive technical research on new technologies
· Market research
· Competitor research
Okay, so this is a bit of a “me, too” post — it seems like everyone and their brother is telling you how to get better at social media marketing. I’ve been active with social media for about four years, and I’ve learned a few things. Mostly, I’ve found that, like everything else worthwhile, it takes time and focused effort.
Guy Kawasaki recently posted a new presentation on “How to Get More Followers.” With nearly 1.4 million Twitter followers and 391,900 LinkedIn followers, Guy has earned considerable credibility on this topic. His presentation included some useful techniques and ideas that are worth sharing, so here’s a summary:
1. Start yesterday. You’re already behind. Get busy.
2. Segment the services. The various social media services have different functions and connections. You can think of the functions this way:
3. Make a great profile. Look at other profiles for clues, and keep yours sharp and up-to-date.
4. Curate content and link to fresh new ideas.
5. Cheat—seriously, that is what he said! The cheat is to link to, re-tweet, and re-post content that is trending.
6. Restrain yourself. 95% of your posts should be interesting topics and ideas that you want to share. Just 5% of your posts should be self-promotion.
7. Add bling. Not just pictures of your favorite cat, but images that add interest and capture the imagination, giving life to your message.
8. Respond. This is a two-way conversation. You’ve put out a new idea, now interact so they know you are real.
9. Stay positive or stay silent. One colleague of mine said “it’s easy to be snarky in 140 characters.” But it really does not add to your followers, your message or well-being, so stay on the sunny side.
10. Repeat. It was good the first time, so now ‘”lather, rinse and repeat.” Keep it light so that you can keep up the pace.
Want more? Get the full recording here.
Recently, I had a chance to take in an online presentation from Gartner, the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company. The topic was “Emerging Technologies Hype Cycle for 2013.” The hype cycle model as well as this year’s predictions provide valuable insight to business processes.
If you’re not familiar with the term “hype cycle,” just think back to your Business 101 classes and conjure up an image of the S-shaped sigmoid life cycle curve. Jackie Fenn and Hung Le Hong, Research VPs for Gartner identified where emerging technologies reside along the life cycle curve on a path to commercialization and profitability. The hype cycle helps you answer such questions as:
- What technologies are ripe for investment?
- How ready are those technologies for commercial development?
- How are products you are interested in positioned relative to other emerging technologies?
Here’s a look at the hype cycle model showing the rise and fall of expectations that emerging technologies typically experience as they progress through time.
Innovative and emerging technologies receive a great deal of attention when they are first revealed and the mass media hype begins. Initial press coverage generates exposure, interest and inflated expectations.
In the second stage, when the product or service reaches the peak of inflated expectations—be it predictive analytics, 3D scanners, or vehicles that drive themselves—it is on the cover of news magazines, referenced on television news, Tweeted, blogged about, and joked about by late-night comedians.
Inevitably, what happens when this new technology can’t quite meet the hype, whether due to costs, scarce resources, or other challenges? You probably know the cycle well – next comes the trough of disillusionment. These can be the dark days in the labs and among the sales force promoting the new technology and the length of time that products languish in this stage can vary immensely.
When the technology is finally ready for broad implementation, it has reached the slope of enlightenment, which is followed by the plateau of productivity. It is important to note that technological developments progress through this process at various speeds, from less than one year to more than ten years.
Here is Gartner’s assessment of the emerging technologies positioning on the hype cycle for 2013.
As you can see there are nearly 20 new technologies with expectations that are rising. I just wanted to point out that at this stage, when the news services are brimming with stories, a good information professional can help you sift through the noise, so you can bettter understand the underlying fundamentals.
Take a minute to digest the breadth of the technologies that are emerging. One theme that connects the technologies together is humans augmented by smart machines. Here are some quick examples:
- Jawbone’s Up wristbands
- Google’s Project Glass
- Baxter Mobile Robots
- Audi’s Connect with self-driving functions
So the next time you see the “next big thing” showing up in the news channel, you might want to refer back to this graph to better understand what the fuss is all about.
If you’d like more in-depth tools or to listen to the Gartner presentation, you can find it here.