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Premature Technology Arousal and the emerging mobile world

March 11, 2013 Comments

Guest post from Gary Schwartz who keeps us up to date with the latest in the world of mobile from the 2013 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

To sum up Mobile World Congress 2013, I will borrow from Peter Marx, head of business development at Qualcomm Labs. Peter talks about an tendency for PTA or (for those in the know) Premature Technology Arousal in the mobile industry.

Much of the MWC 2013 floor area at the new Fira Gran Via venue exhibited PTA or Premature Technology Arousal. Solutions that are excited about being solutions. Solutions that are too early. Solutions that are missing reach and frequency. Things that are just not simple enough to drive adoption.

Even before 70 thousand executives hit the show floor, there were signs of “PTA”. From the Near Field Communications (NFC) show name tags that tried to emulate plastic (but that few used because you still needed to show the plastic) to tapping on Coke dispensers with cloud-base wallets that are many quarters away for mainstream adoption.

Booth after booth in this 1.01 million square feet techno-playground displayed incredible solutions and screens. But the real story to follow was how each solution quietly added value to a given business ecosystem. There was an invisible hand playing connect the dots. Here are a few examples:

The Invisible Google Hand: Google was almost absent – unlike the MWC of 2011 and 2012 where Google groupies ran from partner booth to partner booth in search of cute Android pins. But Google was most definitely on the floor. This year the company is wisely playing “powered by Google”. They are the dark silent type. Turn left or right in every hall, Android is the fuel this industry is consuming.

The same holds for Qualcomm. They are the chip manufacture that is quietly taking the lion’s share of the revenue on each global handset. (Intel just cannot seem to create a competitive landscape.) Qualcomm Labs is building in consumer identity and credentials onto its “platform” hoping to not only power the connected device but also own the big data behind the user. When Qualcomm demos a vision of a home of the near future,  they power many of the moving pieces.

The Samsung Show: While Qualcomm’s chip and Google’s OS were the main stories in Barcelona, another key and not so silent player is Samsung. (So much so that my hotel concierge asked me if I was attending that “Samsung” show that was in town.)  The word that floated above the white new-age Samsung booth was “innovation” but the innovation is not just the 3D camera or the ubiquity of the new S-Pen. The innovation was in their business model connecting their screen across the consumer journey. The 3D camera sells their tablet and television. The S-Pen and its SDK allows for ergonomic continuity across their new tablets and tablets.

Mozilla is other important story in Barcelona. Using the Firefox browser on lower-end ZTE devices to run the camera, map and  . . . oh yes, the browser was a definite tech-turn on. Moving the developer and more importantly the consumer out of the (Apple-invented and dominated) app store into the real world super-app is an inevitable step and fundamental to our mobile evolution. The quicker the industry can move away for relying exclusively on industrial design and the app storefront as the sales tool, the faster we will grow.

2014 Screen Wars: The most important leitmotif was the screen. Not only the proliferation of devices with new form factor and application, but the realization that it is in the connecting of these screens that the we can accelerate business models. Samsung, ZTE, Motorola, Nokia all address the consumer journey across all screens and throughout their day. Nearly all marketing VPs had spent their last few months and budget trying to tell this consumer story.

Again while many products had indecent “PTA”, the most important insight was not what was happening on the screen but what companies were doing to connect them seamlessly. The new battle ground this year moving into MWC 2014 will be centered around who can best manage big data, wallet credentials and identity between the screens.

For more from Gary Schwartz, click here.

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Is this the end of purpose driven ads or a new beginning?

March 7, 2013 Comments

Image: SpeechClub

I noticed the article by Rance Crain in Forbes this week in which he questioned whether the end of purpose driven ad is nigh because “none of it worked.” While Crain lays out the case “for” and “against” I would like to add some thoughts to the debate.

First, there is an implicit presumption that purpose-driven ads are a fad that will come and go like any cyclical marketing trend. I contend we cannot turn back purpose driven ads any more than we can turn back the internet, social media or smart phones. The reason is that these new technologies have shifted marketing from a monologue to a dialogue in which marketers need to listen, draw in customers and share the ownership of their brands.

One might still argue that the purpose driven ads may disappear as the economy improves and we drift back to the excessive mindset that led to the global ecomonic meltdown in 2008. This, however, would ignore the density of research to the contrary including Edelman’s 2012 GoodPurpose Report, Havas Media’s Meaningful Brands Report, and TBWA’s Global Millennial study. These reports reveal that global consumers expect brands play a more meaningful role in social impact and that this expectation is on the rise because today’s customer is better informed, media-savvy and more distrustful than ever after the global economic crisis of 2008. What’s more, Millennials demonstrate a fundamental expectation that brands must contribute to society if they are to maintain their social licence to operate.

Crain implies, however, that many purpose driven ads by large brands like P&G are mere tactics to win consumer support either at the mandate of the CEO or simply to curry favor with consumers. Yet with so many cases of causewashing and greenwashing and with such militant consumer pushback against disingenuous brands these days, I don’t believe the CEO’s or CMO’s of such successful corporations are either that cynical or uninformed. Rather, these companies are genuinely struggling to upgrade the practices and mindsets based on old profit centers, business models and traditional media, and start to genuinely tell the story of what they stay for in ways that connect with customers.

Perhaps Crain comes closest to the truth when he quotes Alfredo Gangotena, the chief marketing officer of MasterCard World Wide, who told Sports Business Journal:

“You see many brands doing good with cause-related marketing, but honestly, if the cause they are involved in is not fundamental to their brand, what good does it do? Brands are like humans. You can see quickly if they’re faking it.”

Without an authentic alignment between who a brand is and how it markets itself, no matter of  stated good intentions will resonate with employees or consumers. What’s more, a brand must go beyond merely stating its good intentions and demonstrate its authentic commitment to them. Only then will wary customers become true brand advocates that share the story and mission of brand with others.

My final thought addresses the issue that purpose driven ads should be judged by how quickly they get results. This presumption ignores the fact that brands must now invest in relationships with customer rather than facilitate transactions. This is no small task,  especially on the scale of a company like P&G, and appropriate time should be given to allow large and influential brands to re-to0l their internal structures, systems and roles to reflect the new social business marketplace and its marketing drivers.

I do agree with Crain that an important phase may be ending but its not the era of purpose driven ads. Rather it’s the end of superficial attempts to hijack purpose to merely serve the bottom line. As such its the beginning of purposeful marketing in which brands tell authentic and meaningful stories about the good they are doing to ways that genuinely inspire greater customer goodwill, loyalty and sales.

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Insights from Social Good Brazil: Strategies for driving social change

March 4, 2013 Comments

I was super excited to be one of the speakers at Social Good Brazil in Florianopolis in November last year. There were fantastic presentations from thought leaders like Peter Sims (‘Little Bets’), Beth Kanter (‘Measuring The Networked Non-Profit’) and Aaron Sherinian (the tireless force behind the U.N. Foundation’s hugely successful #GivingTuesday, among others). Here’s the report from the event that just came out including insights from all the speakers. I thought it would be interesting as this was the first time that this event was held and the report breaks down its constituent parts and the results of the event. So it serves as a valuable guide for anyone trying to catalyze a movement for positive change.
I also wanted to share my slides from the event in case they can be useful in helping you frame the positive impact you want to create.  The slides establish a framework for how business can be a force for good in the future and makes the case for why this is good for business as well. it then simply lays out the We First vision of sustainable capitalism with some examples.

I hope both these resources are helpful in how you get your message across so that you can scale your social impact. If you have any questions about any of the slides, fire away. Huge congratulations also to Fernanda Bournehausen and her team on the spectacular event in Brazil.
To keep up with Aaron Sherinian click here, Peter Sims here, and Beth Kanter here. Each one is a goldmine of the latest thinking and best practices in social change. Follow them on twitter at these links Aaron, Peter, Beth.
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‘What’s The Future of Business?’ by Brian Solis: A Must Read

March 1, 2013 3 Comments

I am always excited when Brian Solis comes out with a new book. As an avid reader of his blog, I have come to deeply respect his insights into social business and customer behavior and this new book is no …

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Social media strategies that build your community and business

February 25, 2013 10 Comments

I thought this was a great collection of social media principles to live by when it comes to engaging your community and motivating them to work with your brand to fulfill a common purpose. I also wanted to add a …

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The art of inspiring customers to champion your brand

February 22, 2013 0 Comments

APCO Worldwide just completed a global study into corporate and consumer relations and launched a Champion Brand Index which rates companies on their ability to inspire customers to promote their brand. APCO’s Index measures corporate brand value among more than 500 …

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What defines your social brand and how that defines your success

February 19, 2013 0 Comments

As We First moves into its new offices in heart of Silicon Beach in Venice, California, I wanted to share perhaps the most important item in the new space. These are the We First Values, Beliefs and Manifesto mounted on …

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Mobile matters: Gary Schwartz on how your brand keeps up with shoppers

February 13, 2013 0 Comments

 I had the pleasure of speaking to Gary Schwartz about his book Fast Shopper, Slow Store about perhaps the most transformative trend on the horizon – the impact of smartphone technology on business and retail. Here’s what he said. In …

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About Simon Mainwaring

We First training and consulting helps the world’s most innovative brands tell the story of the good work they do in ways that build their reputation, employee productivity, sales and social impact.

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