PODCAST interview on “The Power of Data”


I was recently interviewed by ‏ @Kevin_Craine regarding The Power of Data – In today’s data-driven business environment information equals power. Power to understand, power to personalize and power to make more intelligent business… Listen Now

Like OMG! Klout is not the sharpest tool in the shed…


So I periodically visit Klout to check my score (43 at press time by the way) and to see if they’ve actually changed (or fixed) anything – and today I learned that I am influential on the topic of “teens”.

I tweet, retweet, comment, Like, +1, Instagram and blog regularly about social media, marketing, leadership, customer relationships, and globalization – and since one of the articles I shared last week was the very popular “How Target Figured Out A Teen Girl Was Pregnant Before Her Father Did” from Forbes, these knuckleheads at Klout think I am influential on teens rather than “data mining”, “retail marketing”, or “predictive analytics”.

Obviously the inference engine is broken…

Now, I understand that the reason this happened is likely because this sharing on my part was amplified by my network through their retweets, comments, likes, etc – but that doesn’t make the results any less wrong.

So for you marketers weighing heavily on using Klout scores and influencer topics  as a key piece of data in your social marketing plans, here is another reason to think again.

Upcoming Blog Topics – Brazil, Negotiation, and Air Travel


As we start a new year, I resolve to write more frequently – but make no promises!  I am literally brimming with ideas but no time to turn them into written words.   Over the Christmas break I was able to reflect a bit on some things experienced during my travels in the first part of December – keep an eye out for upcoming articles on the following topics:

  • Brazil Observations
    • Christmas in Sao Paulo
    • Sushi, Pizza, and Hot Wings
    • Orange Juice Prices
    • Expansion of consumer credit
  • Negotiating in a foreign country
    • Pick your battles
    • Recognize when you have no leverage
    • Be willing to barter
    • In most cases, A deal is better than NO deal
  •  The REAL problems with air travel – BOARDING
    • Carry-Ons vs Baggage Fees
    • Infrequent Flyers
    • Lack of Design Innovation

Thanks for you support – and keep on reading!

Be sure to Like, +1, Tweet, or Share my blog with others who care about the same things you do…

marketing+technology blog – 2011 Annual Report


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,500 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 25 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

The Case for Customer Lifetime Value…


Just when things were going great…

Not long ago, I praised a certain  Big Satellite Company  for the outstanding customer experience I had when moving across town (despite some other shortcomings – full article here).  This past month, with a single billing related event, Big Satellite Company almost destroyed our relationship forever.  Let me tell you a story.

Thirteen years ago

As cable TV was riding high and the internet was still a baby, I placed a bet on who I wanted to deliver television content to my home.  Primarily due to the exclusive availability of a certain sports programming package, my bet was placed on (what is now) Big Satellite Company.  For over a decade, through four moves in two states, my chosen television delivery partner provided a fantastic experience in all facets of our relationship, to include my most recent move (full article here).

This year, as a result of some uncertainty with the professional sports league featured in the programming package, Big Satellite Company made a wise move (in my opinion) by not automatically renewing customer subscriptions for this package until the leagues disputes were settled.  However, once resolved, subscribers like myself were forced to contact Big Satellite Company and re-subscribe to the package.  This was not the end of the world assuming I was able to simply renew the subscription, at the previously established renewal rate.

Herein lies the rub

As I prepared to renew the programming package, the pricing I was offered via the website was approximately $85.00 more than what I had paid for previous seasons.  I contacted the customer service center via telephone and was offered a statement credit of $5.00 per month for the next 12 months.  That still left us $25.00 apart from what I felt was fair.  As I was on the telephone, I looked into my account billing history, and proceeded to inform the service agent that as a 13-year subscriber, my customer lifetime value to date exceeded $23,000 and I asked her if she was prepared to let me walk over $25.00?  She responded with a counter offer of additional free services and content, and ultimately got us to where we were only $5.00 apart.  I asked again, are you ready to let me walk over $5.00?  She was.  At this point, I decided to perform an experiment by NOT asking for a supervisor and simply saying “no thank you”.

Everyone who heard this story said “you should have asked for a supervisor, you would have gotten what you wanted” – to this I say, the companies to which we send our hard-earned money in exchange for services, need to have more respect for their customers. The protocol for solving a customer problem should never end with the customer leaving.  I argue that the customer service agent should have proactively escalated me to a supervisor with more authority as opposed to letting me walk.  Most consumer technology services companies (i.e. phone, TV, internet) seem to be in a customer acquisition arms race, as opposed to focusing on serving the customers they already have.

So how does the story end?

Last week, approximately 3 weeks after the incident described above, I was contacted by a “manager” from Big Satellite Company who proceeded to offer me the desired programming package renewal, discounted beyond what I paid in the previous years, plus the additional services and content from the previous negotiation.  Apparently he is one guy who knows it is cheaper to keep a customer than acquire a new one – it’s a shame it took 3 weeks to escalate through the CRM system.  This could have easily been avoided if Big Satellite Company had a robust customer segmentation system and armed the customer service agents with a well thought out “next best offer” strategy for retention of key accounts – maybe even immediately pushing my call to a more senior or experienced agent given my tenure and status.

Have you had a similar experience?  Or is your company losing customers faster than you can acquire them?

Tell me about it.

Did you know that I have now posted more than 30 articles on this blog?  If you read and enjoy the content, please don’t be afraid to Comment, Share, Like, Tweet, +1, or whatever you do.  I would greatly appreciate the feedback.

Will the REAL Trent Dilfer please stand up?


For many years, a common nickname for me during football season has been “Dilfer”.  This began when Trent Dilfer burst onto the NFL scene in the early nineties with the Tampa Bay Bucs, and continues today as he is seemingly on ESPN 24×7 talking football.  True Story – in my mid-twenties, I made my way through a night club red rope or 2 in the Tampa area as a result of this resemblance.  “Welcome Mr. Dilfer, right this way…” 

Not all look-a-likes are created equal

When it comes to acquiring new customers, I often advise my clients to build RFM analytic models that examine their existing clients across many dimensions, resulting in a segmentation that quickly identifies their “best” customers.  From this point, the statistical factors that define the top performing customers can be applied to databases of consumers (or businesses), looking for prospects that most resemble the best customers.

While this provides great results and should be part of any serious marketer’s arsenal of approaches, the ongoing explosion of data worldwide is changing the game a bit.

MJD vs. Dilfer - Tale of the Tape

It’s the differences, dummy

Data points related to sentiment and intent are harder to identify, but are proving that the differences in our customers are sometimes more important than the similarities.

Do you agree?  Let’s discuss at #DMA2011 in Boston next week – DMA 2011

What’s in your Marketing Kitchen?


Bakers, Chefs, or Cooks?  

I think we can all agree that each of these descriptions invoke a different image, expectation of skills,  and a perception of the experience they will deliver.  My wife is clearly a Baker, based on her use of recipes, measuring spoons, and timers, sprinkled with creativity [and powdered sugar].  Chefs are the people we see on TV, with all of their fancy schoolin’ and gastronomic techniques, but ironically, as they gain notoriety, most seem to spend less time in actual kitchens.  Generally speaking, Chefs and Bakers might both be considered the same, but working in different mediums.  Now, as a self-described Cook, I admit I may review several recipes (or pictures), see something on TV, or scan the pantry shelves and refrigerator taking a silent inventory.  But when the moment strikes, I just start start cooking, making adjustments along the way.

A dash of this, a pinch of that – VOILA – dinner is served!

The Marketing Kitchen

When it comes to working on the line in a Marketing Kitchen, the Bakers, Chefs, and Cooks are often at odds when it comes to deciding how to create an award-winning dish.  The Bakers want to plan for every scenario, test and re-test, and generally have 100% certainty of success before actually beginning.  The Chefs are a little more pragmatic, but tend to focus on the technical tasks of the project, resulting in an over-engineered solution.  The Chef often uses too many ingredients, too many techniques, and is over-ambitious as it relates to time lines [ever seen someone on TV try to make Risotto in 10 mins?].

While Cooks may not possess the exacting standards of a Baker, or the training and techniques of a Chef, we are often the x-factor in the Kitchen’s success.  The Cook’s ability to combine disparate ingredients, improvise kitchen tools and techniques, keep an eye on the clock, and take calculated risks, more often leads to a successful dish (and a happy diner).

This leads me to the conclusion that in today’s ever-evolving Marketing + Technology marketplace, we need more Cooks than Chefs or Bakers – except when it’s time for dessert.

Sweet.

Yeah Dad, But They’re From Akron…


In my adolescent years, a fan favorite amongst my friends was the series of “Vacation” movies with Chevy Chase for all of the subtle , sophomoric one-liners, laced with double-entendre. Being from the Akron area made the European Vacation movie especially fun – if you can write to me and tell me about the scene I quote in the title above, I have a special prize (HINT: the prize is an invite that starts with a “G” and ends in “+”).

What does Where we are from, say about Who we are?

For centuries, the difference between friend and foe was often as simple as geographic boundaries. There was no thought given to the trials and tribulations, aspirations and dreams, or the wants and desires of “the others” only the belief that they must be conquered. Sad to say, many of today’s leading consumer brands still feel this way. These brands have been extremely succesful at conquering the U.S. and maybe a few other “mature” markets, but when it comes to global expansion, they are learning that a one-size fits all approach will not work.

Will “What plays in Peoria“, play in Singapore?

The motivations and aspirations of the consumer sector vary greatly from region to region, and again from country to country, and yet again when comparing urban and rural consumers within a single country. We all know this is true and inherently understand it by being a part of it – in the U.S. that means red states, blue states, and even “green” states, but diving deeper exposes distinct groups even within the states, counties, cities, and even neighborhoods. So how do you know how various population groups will respond to your call-to-action? It seems obvious to most of us the differences between New Jersey, Manhattan, and Long Island – but given the close geographic proximity to each other this could be difficult for a non-American (or non-East Coaster) to understand that the three groups of consumers in these areas couldn’t be more different. The same could be said for a wider geography – say we compared the attitudes and aspirations of consumers in the major metropolitan areas of New York City, Philadelphia, and Boston – talk about three different worlds; and this doesn’t account for the Bible Belt, the Rust Belt, or much less anyone not in the hustle bustle of the northeast. A product launch in NYC will (and should) look very different than one in Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, or L.A. And what about the population segments in the suburbs of those cities – surely you can see how complex and challenging it is to identify the right consumer audience in a country where you’ve never lived.

Don’t forget – I have Google+ invites for those that tell me about the scene I quote in the title above…

DMA webinar: Swing for the fences – 8/10


Go global with your marketing – I am speaking at this FREE DMA webinar on 8/10 http://t.co/nXHUEoK

Fueling the Army of Stupid


The 24 hour news cycle was first popularized on television and led to the creation of a multitude of “news” shows and channels.  This conditioned consumers into believing that all of this “news” was actually “news” worthy and hence, needed to be consumed.   The internet has exploited this human condition and is continuing to spiral out of control with the online media outlets and social networks enabling the masses to share, tweet, like, +1, or worse yet, comment on these largely sensationalized and manufactured news stories – resulting in the current real-time news cycle.

This is all well and good if those that are most “engaged” are not members of the Army of Stupid.  So who exactly pledges allegiance to this flag of ignorance?

My totally unscientific study concludes that approximately 75% of internet users who comment on articles, stories, and other postings, suffer from a debilitating symptom of the “real-time” news cycle.  Stupidity.  These consumers share no common demographic or geographic traits (unlike a closely related faction, UFO abductees) other than a narcissistic belief that a) they are right, and b) someone cares.  Not to be confused with ignorance, which is somewhat excusable and even curable, this condition can be best summed up by the great Ron White – “You Can’t Fix Stupid“.

Let me offer three recent maddening observations:

The Casey Anthony verdict – If you were not a) a jury member, b) an observer in the courtroom, c) a lawyer with access to all of the evidence, or d) a Kardashian, please don’t clog up the social sphere with your opinions.  It’s pretty bad when national TV networks and the plethora of cable news channels are streaming tweets and comments across the screen – since when does “Joe”, a plumber from Des Moines, have a newsworthy opinion on a criminal court case?  And don’t get me started on the “legal” media figures propagating and rewarding this behavior, ahem, Nancy Grace, you know who you are.

Facebook’s integration with Skype / Launch of Google +1 – I have been in or on the periphery of the technology industry for about 20 years, and it still amazes me how polarizing technology can be, with legions of (blind) followers on each side of the proverbial fence accusing the [insert favorite tech giant] of “copying” [insert hated tech giant].  IBM vs Apple, Apple vs Microsoft, AOL vs Compuserve, Yahoo vs Google, Google vs Microsoft, Microsoft vs Yahoo, Google vs Apple, and so on – bottom line is that once you become “giant” the innovation largely stops – they just keep repackaging the same stuff with improvements to design and functionality – appealing to the audience of the moment.  Video chat is not new, nor is social networking – and frankly, the combination of the two isn’t new either.  No one accused Mercedes of copying BMW when they added Bluetooth as an option, right?

The belief that [insert favorite tech giant] is infallible – While many believe that the likes of Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple will never be anything but dominate in their pursuits, one doesn’t have to look too far back to see former darlings reduced to rubble (AOL, Netscape), slowly plodding along with little growth (Microsoft, Cisco) or even fighting to hang on (Nokia, RIM).  There will always be something newer, shinier, better, cheaper, and faster around the corner – companies were not made to last forever and the giants of today will eventually be displaced.  So save your “so-and-so is the greatest” and “so-and-so sux” (the ending in “x” is another greater marker for stupidity) comments to yourself unless you can back it up with some sound supporting evidence.

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