Sep 17, 2012

In an extremely competitive marketplace, business leaders need to dig deep to identify their companies' differentiators. As products and services become increasingly commoditized, many organizations are finding that their biggest differentiator lies in creating an amazing customer experience, which begins with creating an exceptional company culture with happy, fully engaged employees. To do that, providing honest, team developing feedback -- both positive and negative is critical. Easier said than done! Here's a great article on how to give feedback to employees by Andreas Dudàs, Swiss visionary entrepreneur, mentor, motivational speaker, and expert on authentic leadership.: 

“I can handle feedback. Why couldn’t he just tell me?”

This is often what I hear from employees who yearn for a straight talk and desperately seek feedback so as to know whether and how well they really perform. However, many leaders don’t go to great lengths when it comes to giving proper and open feedback. Major reasons include the fear of hurting the counterpart or just the lack of time.

Employees are not just looking for positive feedback, but also on what they have not done well or could improve. If managers dare to provide sincere feedback regardless of the nature of the particular situation, then they will also raise the degree of their own credibility, which is one of the crucial pillars for gaining natural power. Keep in mind that feedback is often more powerful than any other financial incentive, since people feel recognized and appreciated. Furthermore, feedback is the be-all and end-all when it comes to empowering people. They find trust in their leaders and dare more easily to live up to their true potential. Giving proper feedback is an art, and over the years I outlined a sort of checklist that helped me to develop this crucial skill.

Adopt the right mindset of honest feedback. The secret behind giving feedback is to consider it as a gift. If you believe that giving open, straight, and honest feedback in an authentic way might motivate and help people to better live up to their full potential, then you will be more inclined to give that feedback. People like gifts, especially from someone willing to tell you that there is still room for improvement and when they are committed to helping you get there.

Don’t beat around the bush. Especially when it comes to providing feedback on “unpleasant issues,” managers often shy away from giving straight feedback. Beating around the bush diminishes trust and credibility. Telling it like it is and speaking clearly, directly, and fearlessly without trying to manipulate or dominate the conversation form the basis for the true art of authentic communication. Always get straight to the point.

Treat “positive” and “negative” feedback equally. Feedback is often considered to be bad news. In reality, feedback shall always be developmental. Therefore, a manager needs to give both kinds of feedback with the same level of intensity and sincerity.

State the facts; avoid emotional judgments. We all tend to create our own reality, often based on perceptions and wrong assumptions. In fact, I dare claim that most conflicts could be avoided if we adopted a purely fact-based approach when it comes to giving feedback. Should you have difficulties adopting a fact-based approach, then keep the definition of feedback in mind: According, feedback is providing information and not expressing an opinion. Feedback is a process in which the effect or output of an action is returned (fed-back) to modify the next action. Information is always better accepted than any opinions based on personal judgments.

Dare to deliver even “bad” news. Even the “best” leaders have trouble giving people direct feedback, especially about possible flaws. Managers are often concerned about hurting their employees’ feelings or running them off. When employees in my organization are asked what they would like more of from their managers, they normally first respond with "feedback." The lack of feedback can cause the stars to leave the company despite promotions or financial incentives. Why? Because they were not provided the room for continual improvement.

Articulate the specifics and reference concrete examples. Employees will accept your feedback more easily when you refer to specific examples. The focus on the specifics helps employees to be more actionable. Generic feedback won’t help either of you.

Apply non-violent communication. When revealing feedback, use “I” rather than “you.” A message delivered through “I have noted that…” is normally better accepted than saying “YOU have done this and this.”

Ensure timely feedback. Do not wait too long to give feedback. The faster you act the better, which underlines your credibility and power of determination as a leader.

Be result oriented. Define the specific results expected and show how all will benefit. Define what can be improved through the support of you and the employee. Only provide feedback on something the employee can change. If the employee can’t do anything about improving a situation, the feedback will only serve to hurt their feelings and cause conflict or resentment.

Stick to face-to-face meetings. In a global organization it might sometimes be difficult to see your expats and employees on a regular basis. All the same, avoid writing feedback in emails. The written word is extremely powerful and can often be misinterpreted. Even if you are not able to see your employee in person, use Skype or make a call.

Regularly provide feedback whenever it is appropriate. In many organizations, managers are required to give feedback only once a year and some still believe that feedback has to be given only during the annual performance review. Giving feedback should be a constant process and applied on a regular basis.

Ask for feedback. These have been rules for giving feedback. What about receiving feedback? Many managers have not had formal feedback sessions and performance appraisal meetings for years. If the bottom-line targets are met, managers are mostly rewarded. However, even they need feedback so as to develop further, especially when leadership shifts more and more towards empowering people and therefore requires the knowledge of their employees’ feelings, needs, and concerns. The 360-degree feedback cycles that are often used in many organizations cannot replace an open and honest discussion with your employees.

Google Chrome is testing built-in Do Not Track tools

Google is including Do Not Track in an upcoming version of its Chrome browser, with the antitracking feature already present in the browser's latest developer build. The Internet Explorer, Firefox and Opera browsers already have committed to adding Do Not Track features. CNET:

Search giant Google has included support for the Do Not Track privacy standard in the latest Chrome developer build, released yesterday.

The search giant and browser maker previously said it would implement a solution to help prevent users' actions from being tracked on the Web, and said it would have a solution out for Chrome and its advertising systems "by the end of the year."

Do Not Track is a feature -- slowly making its way to Web browsers -- to help users opt out of tracking cookies and targeted advertisements. But advertisers fear that the privacy setting would restrict companies' efforts to target advertising more effectively to users' tastes and would suffer as a result.

A Google spokesperson told AllThingsD: "We undertook to honor an agreement on DNT that the industry reached with the White House early this year. To that end we're making this setting visible in our Chromium developer channel, so that it will be available in upcoming versions of Chrome by year's end."

Firefox maker Mozilla, Google, and Microsoft have all joined the industrywide effort to take Do Not Track settings mainstream. Mozilla first showed off its Do Not Track mechanisms in 2011 and soon after implemented the technology in Firefox. Opera jumped on the privacy bandwagon by offering Do Not Track in Opera 12.

Microsoft also plans to include the privacy setting by default in the next version of Internet Explorer, much to the complaints by the advertising industry.

As ZDNet's Ed Bott explains, the Tracking Protection Working Group of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) decided that a browser can only enable Do Not Track by default if the decision "reflects the user's preference". But Microsoft defied the group, deciding that Do Not Track would be enabled by default in the 'Express Settings' setup of Windows 8, which includes Internet Explorer 10 by default, although a 'Customize' setting can be easily switch off the setting.

Apache soon after said it would "ignore" Do Not Track requests from Internet Explorer 10because the Web server maker believes users should be given the express choice.

With IE owning more than 53 percent of the browser market, according to Net Applications, the move would heavily disrupt the advertising industry if Microsoft carries on full steam with its plans.

Why Web designers shouldn't forget about white space

White space can be an effective way to give your Web designs a little breathing room or to make your typography pop, writes Gisele Muller at WDL. Below, she profiles 20 plus websites that use white space to striking effect. My post on minimalist websites is one of my most popular (and you all know I like white space--a lot.) So when I ran across this post, well, I had to give it my props. Enjoy:

There has always been much debate on whether white is really a color. Someone who works with inks and pigments might argue that white is the absence of all color. While someone taking a more scientific approach would tell you that white has to be a color since it is the blending of all colors of light.

Whatever your stance is on white being a color, you can’t argue that it can have a big impact on a design – whether it is used to fill “white” space, or to create bold typography on a dark background. So for this post, we’ve gathered some very good web designs that make good use of white.

Sep 6, 2012

The basics: 3 ways to make your website easier to use

Websites need to be both attractive and functional if they're to win return visitors, and that means getting the basics right. I was just asked to do a critique of a website, and I was shocked at how they failed in one of the most basic and important elements of web design -- poor navigation and no site map! Designing a website -- be sure to include a well-polished search function, easy-to-find contact details and a logical site structure that makes navigation intuitive for first-time visitors. SiteReviver:

When creating a website, there is a lot to think about. As a website designer, you will have to think about the design and layout of the website but you should also be thinking about where the important information should be going on that page. Website usability is extremely important as a website that is difficult to use will get fewer visitors over time so it is important that you follow these tips:

1) Include a search function – People love to search on a website as it will allow them to find exactly what they are looking for with the click of just one button. You should put the search functionality in a clear and defined place like Google so that people know exactly where it is without getting confused.

2) Include Contact Details – People need to be able to contact the owner or the webmaster of the website if there is a problem and it is important to have these details in a clearly defined page. Most websites will have a contact page which is extremely important. Other things that you can include on your website to aid this area could be an online forum, online live chat or even just a web based contact form.

3) Good Structure – This is one of the most important things for any website in regards to user experience and of course, SEO. You’re website should have a logical structure so that users know exactly where they are in the site and how to get back to where they want to. You can use a breadcrumb menu to aid with this if you like. This is also a key factor when it comes to SEO and you should have a good internal link structure.

Website usability is about good design combined with functionality. Usually with most websites, one of these things will be more dominant than the other which means that the website is less likely to have return visitors. Other things to note include having good and descriptive titles and keywords as well as having a good sitemap.

Aug 22, 2012

An interesting way to boost exports

This is one for the "strange but true" news section. Puerto Rico is apparently overrun by iguanas. Having been to Puerto Rico a few times, I can attest to this. They're everywhere. They creep some people out, but I think they have a relaxed, zen like quality. Puerto Rico is hoping to battle the "green plague" by cooking up the lizards and selling their meat to diners in Central America, South America and the U.S. They say the meat is white and juicy, and has reported aphrodisiac qualities ("hey honey, put the kids to bed, and lets have a tasty snack!"). Reported by the eminently entertaining The Wall Street Journal:

The reptiles, which aren't native to Puerto Rico, have few natural predators and are highly fertile. They have proliferated so uncontrollably that their population, estimated at roughly four million, now outnumbers humans in this U.S. territory. "This is a real serious problem," says Daniel Galán Kercadó, secretary of the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources. "We have to attack it."

First, Puerto Rico declared iguanas a nuisance, opening the way for people to hunt them. But that didn't put much of a dent in the population. Now, authorities have a new solution: eat them.

There isn't much appetite for iguanas in Puerto Rico, but the meat is popular in other countries, Mr. Galán Kercadó says. Puerto Rico hopes to gather iguanas up, slaughter them and export the meat to countries in Latin America, Asia and elsewhere with a taste for the lizards. Not only will this help rid Puerto Rico of a problem, Mr. Galán Kercadó says, but it could create jobs too.

Unlike Puerto Ricans, who consider the creatures a pest, many Central Americans go gaga for iguana. They eat it roasted and in stews. They use its oil to treat rheumatism and bruises. Some even consume it in the hope of increasing their sex drive, according to a recent U.S. government report on the reptiles.

"Social vs. search" is a false dichotomy

Search and social media marketers have been butting heads over whose tools deliver the best results -- but the truth is that both mediums perform better when they're blended, writes Adam Riff. Blurring the line between search and social lets brands maximize their outreach across all online channels. "The search-vs.-social debate is a worthless pursuit. Brands don't care, nor should marketers," Riff argues. Advertising Age (tiered subscription model) DigitalNext blog:

When it was reported in early May that social advertising had overtaken search, many in the search-marketing industry reacted with disbelief. Some wished to take up a protracted battle with social-media marketers over whose turf reigns supreme.

Sadly, much of the discussion completely missed the point of what this data tell us: the age of the "walled garden" approach to search marketing is over. Let us all rejoice. The search-vs.-social debate is a worthless pursuit. Brands don't care, nor should marketers.

The future of search marketing will demand a blend of many different digital-marketing components -- traditional search, retargeting, display, etc. -- that must reach audiences across a wide swath of media, as consumers use many different devices to search for content across multiple platforms and interfaces.

Marketers need to focus on how well they are integrating social within search, and vice versa. It's not an either-or debate. There are two reasons this is true.

Social Signals. In the old days of search -- that is, pre-2012 -- many brands and agencies kept their search-marketing campaigns, both organic and paid, separate from social-media campaigns. They feared that mixing the two might alienate the respective audiences of what are sometimes highly distinct customer bases.

But that's all in the past. Social signals and the rapid expansion of the digital-advertising industry are forever altering the search-marketing landscape -- for the better. While still a relatively small portion of search marketing, social signals -- the signals from Google +, Facebook, Twitter and other social networks that Google considers in its algorithm -- are already being optimized for by sophisticated search marketers. More broadly, the digital-advertising industry is poised to reach $39.5 billion in 2012, according to eMarketer, and will overtake TV advertising spend by 2016. That's too big a pot to be arguing over.

Integration as a Rule. The search-marketing industry has changed. It's more integrated and more valuable precisely because social-advertising spend is augmenting clients' search-marketing campaigns.

Search agencies can no longer simply buy keywords, put up ads and hope for success. Today's advanced search campaigns require creating efficiencies at every step of the process. That includes augmenting search campaigns with social-media cost-per-click campaigns segmented by geography and socio-economic factors. Augmentation should be search marketers' new focus, not some outdated debate.

Consider Google+'s impact on search. While little is known about Google's plans for Google+, we can speculate on its impact on the search-marketing industry. Beyond just a social network, it will track user behavior at every level and serve up ads based on that behavior -- to a degree that marketers have never seen.

Layering users' Google+ updates into their searches, Google is ushering in the era of the hybrid social-search engine. This has the potential to radically change search marketing, not to mention display advertising and the myriad other forms of e-commerce that feed off the Google search-engine beast.

Rather than debating which is better -- search or social -- we need to focus on what drives clients' business and what is the best and most efficient means of delivering customers across all digital-media channels. It must be a combination of search and social. This is the discussion search marketers need to be having.

Study: SMBs get best results from website, e-mail marketing

Small businesses plan to keep their marketing budgets at current levels for 2012 and will continue to focus their energy on e-mail, website and face-to-face interactions, according to a Constant Contact study. SMBs also recognize the efficacy of social media marketing, the study found, but are still struggling to master the intricacies of marketing on social networks.eMarketer:

Smaller companies that use social media marketing say it’s the area in which they need the most help

Small and medium-sized businesses and nonprofits admit that drumming up new customers is the concern most often giving them sleepless nights, according to an April–May 2012 survey conducted by online marketing service provider Constant Contact. Perhaps that’s why the poll found the vast majority of SMBs (60%) were holding their marketing budgets steady in 2012, with little variance in that behavior between business-to-business and business-to-consumer companies. And more than double the number of small- and medium-sized firms had increased their marketing budget than had decreased it.

The research found that email, website and in-person interactions were considered the most effective marketing techniques by SMBs. B2C and B2B businesses found email and website marketing to be effective in about equal numbers, but a gap opened up when it came to the effectiveness of face-to-face interactions. Three-quarters of B2Bs found in person interactions to be effective, while only 64% of B2Cs said the same.

The marketers surveyed also indicated those companies that frequently used social media for marketing understood its importance but considered it the area in which they needed the most help. Of those using social media, Facebook was found to be the platform with the most utility, but at rates much higher among B2Cs (83%) than B2Bs (55%).

LinkedIn was considered a much more effective tool by small- and medium-sized B2B companies than it was for their B2C counterparts, understandable given the platform’s focus on business networking.

Aug 15, 2012

Big brands seek local buzz

Big advertisers such as L'Oreal, Nike and Wal-Mart are seeking new ways to reach their customers using local campaigns. Search, social media and mobile marketing are all evolving to serve local audiences, but better data is needed to help marketers make the case for increased local spending. "[I]t is going to be more challenging for marketers to execute and more costly and complex to orchestrate. But the possibilities are exciting," writes Antony Young. Advertising Age (tiered subscription model):

Google, Nike Making Plays But Most Marketers Will Need Better Payout to Shift National Dollars to Regional

It's rare these days to hear a positive story about the newspaper industry, but I recently learned of the Pembroke and Pembroke Docks Observer, a newspaper in South Wales that decided to bet its future on a hyperlocal strategy. It focused almost entirely on covering local news, local people and local events while soliciting community-generated content -- a package not provided by the larger county or national titles. It was rewarded with a doubling of its circulation.

Its owners say their success comes down to remaining local, personal and relevant to their community. That idea has a lot of merit for national brands in the U.S.

We are programmed to play nationally. The national 30-second spot in an "American Idol" or an NFL game is king. While there is clearly an efficiency and value in maintaining a national presence, however, it's become even more important to engage consumers in order to truly grow brands -- or disrupt your competitors. It's also becoming harder to do. Being relevant locally, as the Pembroke and Pembroke Docks Observer discovered, can be a powerful recipe for growing market share.

"There's no such thing as a national customer," a client once said to me. "Just lots of local ones." And it takes insight into local tastes, local demographics, local issues and local competitors to be relevant and win the consumer. Organize national, act local is starting to get some traction. But the media are leading the way.

Media properties' local targeting is increasingly offering more precision. Hyperlocal websites are providing local content and localized national advertising platforms by individual towns.

Google recently announced last month the ability to buy search by ZIP code, and again bet on local yesterday when it said it had agreed to buy Frommer's, including 350 travel guides and a website covering more than 3,500 locations.

Addressable TV is beginning to scale. By end of year, we will be able to target by individual household in 22 million homes. And the large national radio groups have become highly effective on-the-ground local marketing partners on-air, off-air and online.

The question is whether major national and international marketers will invest the time and money to take advantage.

Some sophisticated marketers are moving in that direction. Walmart has introduced a Facebook app customizing marketing for each of its nearly 3,600 U.S. locations, including a dynamic social billboard that serves as an electronic circular with details of sales, special product deals and recipe suggestions. This is a smart local program to move the huge national chain closer to its community.

Nike has been creating city-specific epicenters to spark buzz and credibility for its brand. Its global online reality web competition series "The Chosen" was fueled by local grassroots skating and surfing events. In the U.K., Nike held a 15-day challenge for runners across 48 different post codes in London, using some nifty technology to measure and rank their performance.

The increasing ubiquity, not to mention portability, of mobile media will almost guarantee that all marketers will need a mobile media strategy. And central to that strategy is the ability to embrace location-based messaging and promotion.

National brands are experimenting there. L'Oreal promoted its Vichy line using timeRAZOR, a mobile app to promote and schedule one-on-one beauty consultations at Duane Reade locations in New York, an effort that led to a 150% increase in sales for that promotion.

Search is clearly another major opportunity, with the Kelsey Group predicting that local searches on mobile phones will exceed local searches on desktop computers by 2015. Perhaps the iPhone's Siri, which uses Yelp's reviews, will start to offer brand recommendations in the not-too-distant future.

But ultimately most marketers will need a better payout to shift national dollars to local, posing a riddle for the media companies betting so much of their own money on a local strategy. Data will have to be the compass for media sellers and buyers alike. Mobile ad network xAd recently published data showing that locally-targeted mobile display ads deliver 5% to 8% click-through rates, compared to 0.6% for typical mobile display ads.

There's no doubt that local will be an increasing play for national marketers. It's what brands need to do to engage consumers and grow. However, it is going to be more challenging for marketers to execute and more costly and complex to orchestrate. But the possibilities are exciting.

Aug 8, 2012

IBM on how marketing and IT can collaborate to make businesses better

To meet the needs of today's multichannel consumers and to put a strong emphasis on mobile ads and social media campaigns, businesses should form a team that combines marketing and IT, IBM Enterprise Marketing Management Group's vice president, Yuchun Lee, writes. Almost half of employees at high-performing companies said that marketing and IT have good relationships, and about the same number of marketers said better technology would help improve their productivity, according to IBM's State of Marketing study. Advertising Age (tiered subscription model)/CMO Strategy blog:

Businesses looking to shed old practices and succeed in the era of the multi-channel, empowered consumer will need to get their chief marketing officer and chief information officer to form a team that melds the skills of marketing with IT.

That's one of the conclusions we can draw from IBM's latest State of Marketingstudy. In the survey of more than 350 marketing professionals across multiple industries and regions, close to 50% of marketers stated that improved technology infrastructure or software would enable them to accomplish more in their work.

Based on what I have seen and conversations I've had, however, many cynics are out there arguing over the importance of this "odd couple" dream team. That would explain why so few have taken steps to forge this new union. That's a big mistake. Why? According to the study, 51% of respondents who identified their companies as high-performing stated they have good relationships between marketing and IT.

These findings are right in line with the Gartner research firm's prediction that the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO by 2017.

The IBM Retail Online Index shows that sales from mobile devices reached 15% in the second quarter of 2012, and we expect that number to reach 20% this coming holiday season. With marketers now clearly looking to improve their mobile-advertising efforts, the teaming with IT becomes even more important.

The State of Marketing survey found that within the next 12 months, 34% of marketers intend to deliver mobile ads, a sign that they are prepared to go beyond mobile websites and apps and deliver mobile advertising that reaches each customer on his or her smartphone and tablet.

While this mobile growth is certainly exciting, challenges still exist. According to the survey, while 85% agree with the need for an integrated marketing suite, only 21% are running mobile-marketing tactics as part of an integrated campaign. This represents a huge missed opportunity that will ultimately inhibit the effectiveness of marketers.

Integration is also an issue when it comes to social media. According to the survey, 78% are running social-media campaigns in silos. This approach may explain why many are playing guessing games when it comes to this channel rather than making informed decisions.

We can see this occurring in the survey's finding that 26% intend to launch applications on third-party social-networking sites during 2012, 24% plan to incorporate user-generated content into their social-media efforts, and 23% are looking to launch social-media ads or share links in e-mail and web offers. This lack of consensus may be hindering social-commerce efforts. It may explain why, according to our Retail Online Index, retailers are struggling with social media, evidenced by a more than 20% drop in social shopping in the second quarter.

Mobile and social are just two examples of how an alliance with IT can have an impact on marketing. This partnership will ultimately give top performers greater responsibilities for products and services, price, place and promotion, as well as communication across the purchasing cycle and more influence in their business overall. Our study found that marketers from the higher-performing companies are nearly three times more likely to be pro-active leaders in driving their organization's customer experience across all channels.

At a time when customers are flocking to their mobile devices and social-media channels, businesses must be prepared to connect with them on all fronts, or lose them to the competition. But to make this happen, it will take a village within the company, or in this instance, a marketing and IT alliance.

Strategy across departments is key to delivering results to customers

Becoming more focused on customers isn't a snap decision, argues consultant Adrian Davis; it requires buy-in, planning and execution from all departments, a holistic customer-relationship management strategy, and inspiration and oversight from the top down. "It's your leaders who best understand your business' culture and values, and whether or not they must be changed to accommodate the new customer-centric tactics," Davis

A customer focused business, whether B2C or B2B (we all have customers), is more profitable and has greater longevity. Period. Research has proven that businesses that aim to be more customer-centric have a 24% higher net profit, and have a higher profit per employee than ‘the other guys’ (those that aren’t customer focused).

Let’s not concentrate on this however. Let’s assume you’ve already decided, as you should, that you’d like to be more customer-centric. How do I do this? You might ask yourself. Well, that’s where we’ll begin. To become a successful customer focused business, your leadership must develop a holistic strategy that impacts every department, and revolutionizes the way you do business.

Aug 3, 2012

How to take stock of your innovation successes

Innovation is a bit like gambling, but smart gamblers develop strategies that make their bets more likely to pay off, writes Caspar van Rijnbach. The key to making innovation less risky is to establish systems for measuring innovation success, and being clear about what, where, when and how you're planning to gauge your success or failure, Van Rijnbach argues. Coutesy of (Sweden):

To innovate is to generate results in the short, medium and long term for the organization. Building corporate internal and external capabilities is key, but focus on results will need to be an important guideline. Bringing high impact new technologies, product and services and business models to the market is the key to making your innovation investments worthwhile.

The pressure to measure the results of innovation is gaining ground, but has been a challenge for many innovation managers. To get past this challenge, Caspar van Rijnbach suggests using the six W’s to define the right measurements for you.

Defining the right indicators and measurement for Research, Development and Innovation has been a long time challenge for companies, since:
  • Innovation is more difficult to measure: how much did this technological innovation really contribute to this new product or process?
  • Sometimes it’s not that concrete: what does it mean when you conclude a study and choose the best technology?
  • It takes longer before the end result can be measured: some research can take 10-15 years before real results take effect.
Not too many companies have been able to tackle the innovation measurement question yet, although some, such as P&G, Philips and Natura are consistently reporting on them. Yet, measuring R&D and Innovation results is becoming highly necessary and required by shareholders, since R&D investments can be very large, especially in industries like pharma and software and shareholders are eager for return on their investments.

Although investments in R&D are sometimes equivalent to betting, bets need to be managed well to improve the chances of a positive result, as one can see at the world championship of poker. To be able to define or improve your measurement “results,” I suggest applying the 6Ws (5Ws and an H) to your innovation measurement:

1. “WHO” do you measure for”? Which stakeholder in your innovation investments are interested in understanding the results of the investments? Is it yourself? The CEO of the company? Your internal or external clients? Your shareholders? Society? The government?

Defining who you need or want to report to is fundamental in defining the right indicators. You need to understand who the clients of your innovation efforts are and what their needs are. While a shareholder wants to understand the return on innovation investments, the business manager wants to know what you can contribute to his short and medium term business results.

2. “WHY” do you measure? Do you need to improve communication with your stakeholders? Do you need to better understand why certain projects fail? Do you need to improve the distribution of your investments between high and low risk projects? Do you need to evaluate the contribution of your innovation partners? Do you want to evaluate your staff for their yearly bonus? All of them are important questions when defining your indicators.

3. “WHAT” do you want to measure? Do you measure output, input or process efficiency and/or effectiveness? Do you want to measure individual projects or the overall innovation portfolio? Do you measure financial impact only? Knowledge generation? Avoided Cost? What does a good result mean to you? The answers to these questions will be highly influenced by the definition of your Who’s and Why’s and are highly needed to understand and communicate the different aspects of your innovation efforts and results.

4. “WHERE” do you measure? Do you need to measure Research or Development projects or Commercialization and Implementation efforts? They are different types of animals. The first has to focus on contribution to knowledge and decision making, while the second needs to be measured as a project and the third on its effectiveness in really contributing to business.

5. “WHEN” do you measure? Do you measure at the beginning, middle, end of the project or years after the end of a project? For example, at the beginning you will have potential contribution to company results, while years after you should have better understanding of the real contribution. Also, do you measure per calendar year or more frequently?

6. “HOW” do you measure? Do you measure mathematically, based on peer review, on customer satisfaction? This is probably the most complicated question, since it’s not only difficult to define, it also ends up generating controversy and has those involved change their behavior. For example, when one of your indicators is the number of new products launched in the last three years, managers will make sure that their product somehow fits the definition.

Aug 1, 2012

Digital campaigns deliver the goods, says P&G marketing chief

It's easier to calculate digital ROI than many people seem to think -- and online campaigns are bringing strong results, says Marc Pritchard, the global chief marketing officer of Procter & Gamble. Pritchard says the company has had digital return-on-investment measures in place for almost a decade, drawing on digital media's ease of targeting. "We can measure the effectiveness of digital media, and it's actually one of the highest ROI activities right now because there is a much higher level of engagement," he adds. Here is the entire (but short) interview with the P&G exec, courtesy of eMarketer:

P&G's Digital Push Deepens Personal Touch for Olympics and Beyond

As global CMO of Procter & Gamble, Marc Pritchard has overseen the “Thank You, Mom” campaign for the Olympics. Pritchard spoke with eMarketer’s Tobi Elkin about how P&G is translating the campaign across brands and countries, using digital to push the message far and wide.

eMarketer: P&G’s global “Thank you, Mom” Olympics campaign is a major tent-pole idea. How did the concept come into being?

Marc Pritchard: We briefed one of our agencies and they came back with this idea that wasn’t obvious at first glance because P&G brands like Pampers, Tide, Secret, Cover Girl and others don’t sponsor athletes. But all our brands have something to do with the Olympics because every Olympic athlete has a mom and P&G is in the business of helping moms. We have everyday products and brands that moms trust for their families. Our brands are there every day, whether it’s washing your hair, doing the laundry, brushing your teeth or wiping a countertop.

We thought, “Why don’t we just thank mom for whatever she does?” We loved the idea immediately. One of my tests is when I see great work and my spine tingles—and it was certainly tingling when I saw the idea.

“We want to try to achieve $500 million in extra sales from this campaign from April through August.”

The Olympics allows us to leverage the full breadth of P&G brands around the world. We have brands that span a person’s lifetime, from Pampers diapers to Fixodent dentures and everything in between. The Olympics was an opportunity to bring all of those brands together in one big idea that we can bring to consumers around the world.

We participated in the Vancouver Olympics in 2010 with 16 brands. The London Olympics is a bigger opportunity to unite more brands under the P&G umbrella. We’ll have 34 brands participating in the London Olympics, spanning across 150 athletes. The campaign will activate in 73 countries and be in more than 4 million stores around the world.

eMarketer: What are your goals for this massive effort?

Pritchard: The goals for the entire Olympics effort are to build the sales of our brands. We’ve gone on record saying that we want to try to achieve $500 million in extra sales from this campaign from April through August. Obviously, we want our brands to grow and we also want to connect with consumers on a much more one-to-one basis through social media and our online activities. We’re trying to create a whole new relationship with our consumers.
“We can measure the effectiveness of digital media, and it’s actually one of the highest ROI activities right now because there is a much higher level of engagement.”

eMarketer: You’ve got an ambitious sales goal. How are you thinking about tying millions of impressions back to sales since that’s what really matters?

Pritchard: We’ll measure them. We have return-on-investment measurements and have been using ROI measurements for almost a decade now. We can measure the effectiveness of digital media, and it’s actually one of the highest ROI activities right now because there is a much higher level of engagement. If you can target your communications more effectively and get people to engage, then it does generate a higher purchase intent. We’ve also worked with all of our retailers that have put up some magnificent displays and merchandising in stores around “Thank you, Mom.”

eMarketer: Can you offer an example of how your marketing and PR activities have changed as a result of digital marketing and media?

Pritchard: Tide’s news desk approach is an example of a brand being always on and assessing what’s happening in popular culture so it can make connections. For example, Tide sponsored the “Tide Ride” NASCAR vehicle. This year, there was an oil spill on a track and to remove the oil, they put Tide on it and cleaned it up. The Tide team immediately jumped on that, tweeted it and posted it on Facebook. We bought the rights for the visuals from the video, shot an ad and in 72 hours, it was up and we were talking about it. This was worth about $8 million in TV media and we spent maybe $100,000.

This enabled us to be part of popular culture on a real-time basis, and reinforce the superior benefit of our brands. The tagline was, “You keep coming up with tough stains and we keep coming up with ways to get them out.” That’s the kind of thing that the digital world allows you to do, and we’re seeing more and more of this daily activity as we launched the Olympics effort.

eMarketer: Can you tell me a bit about your budget and what percentage of your ad spending budget is paid digital media?

Pritchard: I can’t give you the exact amount, but I will tell you that more than a third of the impressions that we have are coming through digital—that’s both paid and earned. We’re really reluctant to provide anybody with any dollar figure because that would be proprietary information that our competitors would just love to have. But it’s definitely going up.
“More than a third of the impressions that we have are coming through digital—that’s both paid and earned.”

eMarketer: Would you say it represents a low double-digit increase year over year?

Pritchard: I don’t even think about it that way. I think about it more in terms of the percentage of time that people are engaging with digital. Moms will spend anywhere from 30% to 40% of their time engaging with digital content. That’s why the mobile piece is going to be even more important. It’s becoming an even bigger portion of how they’re getting information about brands.

Are you forgetting the basics of good leadership?

Good leaders should relentlessly communicate their vision, hold people accountable and develop a culture of disciplined execution. That might sound obvious, but many bosses neglect these basic principles. Below is a great article written by John Spence on organizational leadership. As he notes, "there is a huge difference between knowing something ... and living it every day in your organization." Here is the entire article:

During the past eight years, I have had the opportunity to present leadership and business improvement training sessions to more than 1,200 CEOs from firms worth between $2 million and $500 million, as well as dozens of similar programs for senior leaders at a number of Fortune 500 companies. During these intensive workshops, I force the participants to make a critical self-examination of the current operational strengths and weaknesses of their organizations through a combination of audits, benchmarking and highly focused discussion questions. One of the key questions I ask in every session is “What are the three or four biggest challenges you’re facing in your business right now?” Even with an incredibly diverse sample of businesses from every imaginable industry, it has been fascinating to see a clear pattern emerge of four specific issues that the vast majority of these leaders identify as the things that are holding their organizations back and keep them up at night.

1. Lack of a vivid and extremely well-communicated vision

Even though these leaders are personally obsessed with the vision and direction of their company, they reluctantly admit that if you were to go just one or two levels below them in the organization, you would likely find very few, if any, employees that truly understand the vision, mission and core values of their organization. One especially frustrated CEO asked me, “John, when do you know that you have communicated these things enough?” My reply was “When you have talked about the vision, mission and values so much that you feel like if you have to say it just one more time you’ll get nauseous. … It is at that point that the lowest person in your organization just heard it for the very first time.” A major job of every leader, whether you lead two people or 20,000, is to relentlessly communicate an exciting and ennobling vision for the future of the organization. In one-on-one meetings, town halls, e-mails, voicemails, team meetings … the goal is to help people clearly see where the business is headed and what they need to focus on to make sure you all arrive there together successfully.

2. Lack of open, honest and courageous communication

The inability or unwillingness to put difficult, uncomfortable and awkward topics on the table for candid and transparent discussion was identified by these leaders as a major inhibitor to their ability to build strong teams and get their organizations fully aligned. As Patrick Lencioni points out in his superb book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” in large part this lack of candor stems from a fundamental absence of trust that leads to unwillingness by people on the team to be vulnerable and completely honest. However, the desperate need for courageous communication and high levels of transparency is powerfully demonstrated in Kouzes’ and Posner’s seminal book “The Leadership Challenge,” which unequivocally shows that honesty is the single most important driver in establishing credibility as a leader. Especially in times of great turmoil like we are facing now, employees crave as much information as they can get about how things are going in the company and what they need to do to keep it moving forward. Where there is a lack of a well-communicated vision mission and values, you quickly see fear, politics, rumor-mongering rushing in to fill the void.

3. Lack of accountability

As a direct result of the lack of honesty and courageous communication mentioned above, one of the difficult conversations not occurring is a frank discussion about tolerating mediocre performance. After taking a good, hard look at their business, many of the participants in my sessions realize that they have a few mediocre performers in key positions in their organization and that every day they leave them there is another day they are in effect saying to the rest of the company,” we were just kidding about pursuing excellence.” For example, I am currently working with three large companies that have long-established reputations for being exceedingly “nice.” On one hand, people that work in these organizations are very proud to be part of such wonderful and kind company, yet on the other hand, they realize that major issues and serious problems continue to go unaddressed strictly because people don’t want to “hurt someone’s else’s feelings.” The truth is it is not “nice” to let someone jeopardize the organization and destroy their own career because their leader did not have the courage to tell them the truth about their poor performance. Here is a test will bring this into sharp focus: Think of a person in your organization that consistently delivers subpar work, turn things in late and has a poor attitude. … Now realize that, because they still have their job, this individual is the person who establishes the level of acceptable work for every other employee in your company. How does that make you feel?

4. Lack of disciplined execution

For the last five years, I have been a guest lecturer on strategic thinking at the Securities Industry Institute at the Wharton School of Business. Each year, I have about 120 executives in my session and I always ask the same question, “What percentage of the time do companies that have a solid plan for how to succeed in the marketplace … actually effectively execute to plan?” The answer has remained the same year after year: 10 to 15%. That number is shockingly low, but unfortunately my experience indicates it is accurate. What is even more devastating is to realize the monumental waste of talent, resources, opportunity and money that terribly low number represents. Because this was such a serious issue for many of my clients, I decided to do a “deep dive” and really study the topic. After more than 5,000 pages of reading and dozens of interviews, I discovered the process for ensuring effective execution was really very straightforward and simple. Just a handful of key steps need to be applied with vigor and total accountability. I also discovered that nearly every leader pretty much knew what the process was, they were just unable or unwilling to impose the level of discipline needed to drive higher levels of execution in their organization.

So if you had the chance to talk to nearly 2,000 senior leaders and ask them what the four most important things they need to focus on right now to fix their business, their answers would be:
  • Relentlessly over-communicate a clear, compelling and focused vision for the future of the organization to all stakeholders.
  • Foster an environment that demands honest, transparent and courageous communication in order to develop high levels of trust and respect.
  • Be clear about establishing specific and quantifiable standards of performance and then be rigorous, but never ruthless in absolutely holding every single employee 100% accountable to meeting or exceeding the agreed upon standards.
  • Develop a culture of disciplined execution by establishing the systems, processes and checkpoints to ensure consistent flawless execution of all critical initiatives.
At the end of the day, none of the things I have listed here are particularly new or revolutionary. Actually, I am sure that most of us will recognize them as well-established fundamentals for leading a world-class organization.

More companies are joining the culture club

Fearing that the pressures of the recession have left them organizationally dysfunctional, many companies are paying fresh attention to corporate culture, experts say. Some firms have hired chief culture officers to put their organizations back on track. "There's been ... an elevation of importance of culture to the CEO level during the recession and post-recession," says Aon Hewitt executive Ken Oehler. Via CNNMoney/Fortune.
This is a follow-up to a very popular post Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch. Enjoy...

More companies are looking to have someone around to keep an eye on their culture, but doing it well takes more than just adding an additional office in the C-Suite.

Read any management how-to, and it will talk about the sanctity of a company's culture. Culture, you could argue, drives everything a business does -- it's successes and its slip-ups. Cracks in an otherwise sound culture can lead to big, expensive mistakes, much of which we have recently seen in the financial industry.

But a company's culture changes constantly, which makes it a challenge for companies trying to define it and make sure it's progressing the way they want. More and more, companies are trying to figure out how to do this, says Ken Oehler, a senior vice president at consulting firm Aon Hewitt. "There's been a resurgence from our clients, certainly an elevation of importance of culture to the CEO level during the recession and post recession." Many companies, Oehler says, are seeing that "macroeconomic pressures have created a dysfunctional culture, one that is not supporting business performance moving forward," and now, they are trying to figure out how keep their culture from spinning out of control.

One way to do this is to bring someone into the C-Suite whose job it is to keep an eye on culture. The best-known example of this approach is Google (GOOG), which added "chief culture officer" to head of HR, Stacy Sullivan's job title in 2006. Part of her job is to protect key parts of Google's scrappy, open-source cultural core as the company has evolved into a massive multinational.

But Google is the poster child for innovation and foosball at work, it makes sense that they would have a culture-keeper. Yet other, more traditional companies, even in the financial industry, have hired culture chiefs as well. One example is North Jersey Community Bank (NJCB), which recently appointed Maria Gendelman as its chief culture officer. CEO Frank Sorrentino encountered resistance from his board when he argued for the position, he says, because the job description is a little tough to define. Though now, having a chief culture officer is a differentiator for the bank, and there's no reason it shouldn't be status quo, Gendelman says. "Could every bank utilize a protector of the culture as part of the team?" she asks. "Absolutely."

The title certainly isn't enough, though, notes Jon Katzenbach, a senior partner at consulting firm Booz & Company. In fact, he adds, one of the main ways that a culture can sour is if management focuses too much on messaging and not enough on action. In other words, don't preach about efficiency and customer service, but instead make operational changes that allow those behaviors to thrive: Reward great service, streamline technology, etc.

First, a chief culture officer needs to understand the way internal business environments change, which is slow, says Katzenbach. Most companies hire someone up top to monitor culture if they're expecting dramatic change, say, a series of mergers and acquisitions, Oehler says. But the most insidious changes rarely happen during times of crisis.

"Cultures that encourage inappropriate behavior and inhibit change to more appropriate strategies tend to emerge slowly and quietly over a period of years, usually when firms are performing well," according to the book Corporate Culture and Performance by John Kotter and James Heskett, published in 1992. "Once these cultures exist, they can be enormously difficult to change because they are often invisible to the people involved, because they help support the existing power structure in the firm."

To that end, an effective chief culture officer would need the full support of top management. He or she would need to have the CEO's ear without growing too distant from the rank-and-file employees that live, breathe, and define a company's culture with everything they do. CEOs often subscribe to the misguided idea that culture can be controlled from the top down, says Mel Lowe, a consultant with Mercer's Delta division. Culture will morph, she says, and "You can either let it happen or you can influence how it happens." Hiring a chief culture officer is one way to step to the plate.

For Gendelman, that means she's in charge of a range of things -- soon she'll have people mystery-shopping at the bank, making sure employees at all branches aren't using a script and that they're inquiring into the lives of their customers. That's a key part of NJCB's culture. The idea, she says, is that "it's banking a hundred years ago where you knew everyone who walks through the door."

And while customer service is part of the equation, culture includes just about everything a company does. Gendelman's job, she insists, is completely different from head of HR. "I'm there to make sure that every single piece of paper that we give to the customer all looks the same, that our processes are efficient and streamlined -- all of those things touch culture."

But just as no culture is all good or all bad, appointing a chief culture officer is "neither a good idea nor a bad idea," says Katzenbach, "but certainly opens a whole interesting set of challenges." At the very least, it seems promising that companies are thinking about culture again at all.