Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Mobile Strategy Lacking for Many Marketers

Even fewer have a strategy that works. Studies find consumers do research on smartphones, but make purchases on tablets

Regardless of what device you’re using to read this blog, here’s a stat that may startle you: Only one in six (16%) marketers has a formalized mobile strategy according to a new report from the CMO Council. That’s depressing when you consider that there are more than 6 billion mobile phones in use worldwide and they’re one of the most common tools that consumers use to do their research.

CMO’s latest
mobile advertising report reveals that mobile relationship marketing (MRM) was the single most investigated, tested and piloted marketing activity of 2012. However, because it’s still hard to measure the effectiveness of mobile marketing, many marketers still have doubts about the ROI they’re getting from mobile. More troublesome: researchers found that among marketers who do have a strategy in place, only one in seven (14%) are satisfied with their results.

Lack of case studies and other barriers

Meanwhile, the majority of marketers (77 percent) say the lack of case studies demonstrating best practices is a hurdle. Other challenges include the ongoing fragmentation within mobile media, such as devices using different operating systems like Android and iOS, as well as the lack of a common technology platform for mobile analytics. 
CMO’s findings seem to mirror an IAB study launched last week that found a “lack of understanding” about mobile among both brands and agencies. That, according to IAB, is still the largest barrier to bigger mobile advertising budgets.

Phone = research; Tablet = purchase

Researchers now conclude that the smartphone is the device for research while the tablet is the device for purchasing. According to
Nielsen and a separate study by the Global Web Marketing Team at Lenovo, nearly two thirds (65%) of consumers used smartphones only for research while one third (32%) used smartphones for research and purchasing. For tablets, almost half (47%) used them to do research and the same percentage used them both for research and purchasing.

When asked whether they preferred to download an app or use a mobile website to research and purchase products, 11 percent of consumers said they prefer to download an app, 33 percent said a mobile-optimized website and more than half (56%) said it doesn’t matter as long as they are satisfied with the information they are given. The key takeaway here folks is satisfaction with the results.

Macro View

The current market pullback is a little disconcerting, no doubt. But our view is that it’s more a function of the looming March 1 sequester deadline and Italy’s political instability than a signal of a true market correction.

There are still plenty of signs for optimism. Last week the Fed said it would continue to buy bonds until the labor market improves, which bodes well for keeping interest rates steady. Although jobs and manufacturing data remain disappointing, the housing market keeps improving. A report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) showed existing home sales rose 0.4 percent last month pushing the supply of homes on the market to a 13-YEAR LOW! Meanwhile, NAR said the median price of a home nationwide is 12.3 percent higher than it was at this time a year ago.


The financial and economic cycles are increasingly decoupled. While the steepest phase of the stock market recovery may have already occurred, we’re still in the earlier stages of the economic recovery. Many business and consumers are just starting to shake off their slumber and pessimism. Good luck happens when preparation meets opportunity. Seriously. If you haven’t done so already, get your mobile house in order before it’s too late!


TAGS: mobile, MRM mobile relationship marketing, CMO Council National Association of Realtors, Lenovo, tablets and smartphones for research, Nielsen

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

IOC Grappling with Irate Customer, Membership Base

What B2B marketers can learn from the Olympic Committee’s hasty decision to drop wrestling and USA Wrestling’s lighting response

To borrow a phrase from the irascible tennis star and TV commentator, John McEnroe: “You CANNOT be serious!” 

That’s generally been the reaction of the worldwide wrestling community that was blindsided last week by the International Olympic Committee’s secret decision to drop wrestling from the Olympic Games. Not skeet-shooting, rhythmic gymnastics, yachting, or pentathlon—wrestling. In response, A Who’s Who of wrestling supporters have publicly denounced the IOC’s covert decision, including former Secretary of State, Donald Rumseld, best-selling novelist John Irving, NFL all-star receiver, Roddy White and  tidal wave of athletes, fans, coaches and Olympic enthusiasts on social media.
It’s not easy to get the U.S., Russia and Iran aligned against you on anything, but that’s a rare feat that the IOC has accomplished from its cozy headquarters in Lausanne Switzerland, one of the few locales in the world in which wrestling does not have a stronghold. Maybe the IOC geniuses will drop T'aekwondo too and get nuclear-aspiring North Korea into their hate circle as well. 

It's been over a week since the IOC announcement and things haven't simmered down. Yesterday, 10-time world champion, 
Valentin Yordanov, who won gold for Bulgaria at the 1996 Games, returned his medal in protest of the IOC decision.  

As novelist John Irving noted last week in a New York Times editorial, “Just two of the [IOCs] board’s members come from countries where wrestling is an actively promoted sport. Yet 180 countries wrestle, and only 53 engage in the modern pentathlon. Wrestlers from 71 countries went to London last summer; before they could compete, they had to win some of the toughest qualifying tournaments in the world.”

Demise of the modern Olympic movement?

Around 400 A.D., the original Olympics had become so corrupt it had to be abolished. It took almost 1,500 years for the “modern” Olympics to return, but we may be on the cusp of its second great hiatus.

Ironically, the IOC’s decision to disqualify wrestling was made on the birthday of Abraham Lincoln (a great wrestler in his own day) and during a time of year when youth, high school and college championships are being hotly contested in the U.S.
Sports Illustrated notes that Lincoln was not our only wrestling president. Other grapplers who made it to the White House include George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, Chester A. Arthur, Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft, who supposedly "mastered a wicked move called the Flying Marc that savagely flipped an opponent to the ground." Ouch.

Lessons for B2B marketers

So, even if you don’t know a headlock from a half nelson, there are some valuable lessons for B2B marketers in this sad tale of public deceit and brand erosion.

We’re not going to deconstruct the less mainstream sports that wrestling lost out to—they each have their own merits, with dedicated athletes and pockets of loyal followers. But wrestling has been around since Day One of the recorded history of athletic competition. Whether or not you like (or understand) the sport, it has ubiquitous global participation and has fought the IOC’s attempts to change its rules for the X-games style TV audience. Dropping wrestling from the Summer Games makes about as much sense as dropping skiing or skating from the Winter Games.

The lesson for B2B marketers is that you’ve got to do your homework before making any bold product portfolio additions (or deletions) and you’ve got to understand your product’s core attributes and why they appeal to your customer base. Here are just a few:

1. Know what you’re up against. "
This is a process of renewing and renovating the program for the Olympics,” beleaguered IOC Spokesman Mark Adams said. “In the view of the executive board, this was the best program for the Olympic Games in 2020. It’s not a case of what’s wrong with wrestling; it is what’s right with the 25 core sports.” Actually Marc, it’s not about what’s right—it’s about who’s kissing your butt the most. Not something most wrestlers are fond of doing.

2. Overcoming adversity.
Wrestling is one of the toughest mainstream sports you can do, mentally, physically and emotionally. Wrestlers live for pain, sacrifice and discipline. Last week, Olympic gold medalists Rulan Gardner and Jordan Burroughs publicly thanked wrestling for pulling them out of poverty and for helping them overcome life-threatening injuries. Taking on elitist bureaucrats from Western Europe will be nothing.

3. Proud History: As Rumsfeld points out in his article, wrestling's Olympic legacy is unmatched. It is one of the oldest contact sports and was an important part of the first Olympic Games, which historians date to 776 BC. The first modern Olympics, in 1896, included wrestling as a marquee event. The sport has missed only one Olympics since then, in 1900. For those counting, that is 26 straight Games over a span of 112 years.

4. Global appeal: Wrestling is a universal sport. More than 170 nations from all over the globe have competed. In London, over 70 countries competed and 29 won medals. It’s not like the sport is dominated by two or three rich countries. Athletes from a great number of nations have won medals -- countries as diverse as Iran, South Korea, Sweden, Cuba and Hungary. More countries have been represented on the winners' podium for wrestling than for nearly any other sport. Globally, the TV audience for wrestling averages 23 million viewers, noted Irving. The modern pentathlon—one sport deemed more Olympic worthy-- averages 12.5 million.

5. Accessibility: To compete, all that is needed is an opponent and a flat surface. Anyone can participate, regardless of geography, weather, race, gender, culture or economic background. It doesn't require a golf course, a swimming pool or a horse.

6. Brand tie in.
“Wrestling uniquely encapsulates the Olympic spirit, even though it harkens back to older and more martial virtues, rather than the arts festival and Kumbaya session that some may prefer the modern Games to be,” argued Rumsfeld. Few other sports are so directly aggressive: It is you vs. one other person, he said. “There is nothing to hide behind; there are no time-outs. It is all up to you. Yet, precisely because of those conditions, few other sports create such remarkable camaraderie among their participants.”

7. Social Networking Muscle:
In response to the Olympic committee's decision, members of the international wrestling community have been reaching out to one another. They are finding common purpose to create a compelling argument for readmission. Within seven hours of the announcement the Facebook pages Keep Wrestling in the Olympics and Save Olympic Wrestling had more than 65,000 likes (and that number doubled to 130,000 by the next morning) and thousands tweeted using the #SaveOlympicWrestling hashtag.

As blogger Jim Licko asked the day after the decision; “Did the IOC solicit any feedback or conduct any kind of formal audience research before making their decision? If so, they may have done a poor job.
Meanwhile, five hours after the announcement, USA Wrestling had developed message points and posted them publicly via Twitter, “Here is a list of talking points for everyone when you are discussing the matter of the IOC vote. RT & stand united.”

8. Sportsmanship: Wrestling does not have a true professional circuit and its athletes have rarely been tainted by use of performance enhancing drugs, contract holdouts when they’re already making millions, crass commercialism or violent, criminal acts in their private lives. Said Rumsfeld, “My firsthand experience gives me a greater appreciation for the sport. Wrestling had a positive impact on my teammates, my opponents and me." Rumsfeld also credits wrestling with developing his self-reliance, discipline, perseverance and strategic thinking. That said, he also credits the sport for encouraginh civility, integrity and self-restraint. "These qualities certainly reflect the proud tradition of the Olympic Games, which is why I fervently hope the committee will reconsider its unfortunate decision," Rumsfeld added. 


To exclude wrestling from the Olympics would be devastating for the sport, for the athletes and for the Games. Over thousands of years, wrestling has spread to every continent. It is practiced in hundreds of countries and done through many different styles in many different cultures. The sport has endured war, depression, social changes and globalization. "But the Olympic panel didn't see fit to include it in the 2020 Games," said Rumsfeld. "Something is wrong with that picture."

“I feel most sad for Eastern European and Eurasian countries where wrestling is their national pastime,’’ one of my son's wrestling coaches lamented last week. “It must be devastating to their national psyche to see their heroes and countries rendered irrelevant and obsolete."

DISCLOSURE: The author is a youth wrestling coach and former high school and collegiate wrestler


TAGS: Save Olympic Wrestling, Donald Rumsfeld, John Irving, Roddy White, Rulan Gardner, Jordan Borroughs, Abraham Lincoln, Jim Licko, Keep Wrestling in the Olympics,

Monday, February 11, 2013

Did You Get My eMail?

5 ways to tame the inbox beast. It’s not about too much email; it’s about too little decision-making authority 

How many times has an important client or colleague called you to ask if you’ve received their email? 
They’re not really asking about the status of your server or IP, of course. What they’re asking is, “Why haven’t you responded?”  That’s like sending a follow up postcard to someone you’ve just express mailed with a note like this: “Hey, did you get my Fedex?”

For the past several years, we’ve helped our clients in the trade association profession conduct a comprehensive communication benchmarking study in which more than 700 association executives participate. Year after year their No.1 communication challenge remains the same: “Information Overload/Cutting Through the Clutter.”

Jenna Wortham wrote a thought-provoking piece in yesterday’s New York Time about the deluge of email we’re struggling to manage. She laments how “stagnant the format of email has remained, while the rest of communication and social networking has surged light years ahead.”

Technology consultant and blogger, Joshua Lyman, who was quoted in Wortham’s article observed that humans only have a finite amount of “processing power” before they start to feel overloaded. Interestingly, Lyman argued that it’s not the volume of email; it’s the email that requires us think carefully before we react—i.e. “slow down, find the file, compose a great email back.”

Wortham reviewed a variety of in-box management tools and Lyman suggested taking charge of the information overload problem by putting a Twitter-like character limit on our emails and finding better ways to collaborate so we don’t need “10 back-and-forth exchanges” in order to organize an outing or lunch. All good suggestions, but even Wortham predicted that no amount of sorting software or folders will stop “overzealous emailers who insist on hitting REPLY ALL on group messaging.” And we’ve all worked at organizations in which even the most minute of communications must be CC’d to half the company by an insecure or backstabbing colleague.

Suggestions for taming the email beast

Here are some email management techniques that we use internally which have also worked well for our clients:

1. Think before you send. Have you checked your subject line carefully? If it doesn’t correspondent closely to the message that’s within, then it’s not going to make it to anyone’s “Must read” list. That goes for marketing email as well as internal communication with subject lines such as: “Touching base”,  “RE: RE: Weekly Status” or the title of a thread started two months ago or even worse just a blank, or just the words “FWD or Re:

2. No Forward/ CC Day. Have one day each week in which nobody at your organization can send an email to more than one person.  Watch how fast your email volume goes down when only the single most important decision maker is targeted. If that’s still not helping, then start reviewing your management team and structure. Might be time to start weeding the passive aggressives off your payroll—i.e. the people empowered to say “No” quickly but who aren’t empowered to say “Yes”--ever.

3. Block the BCC.  For heaven’s sake, do whatever it takes to prevent people from using the Blind Carbon Copy option unless it’s absolutely necessary for legal, compliance or client confidentiality reasons.  BCC’ing can be even worse than overzealous forwarding and CC’ing.

4. Limit email to 3 sessions per day. That’s right. We said 3 times per day. Wean yourself of the instant message/instant response mentality. You’re not teenagers anymore. Have the discipline to limit your email sessions to three times per day: (a) when you first get to work; (b) when you return from lunch and (c) before you go home. It’s OK to check email at night, weekends and on vacation. It’s good to know ahead of time what fires you’ll have to put out the next day. But for heaven sake, DON’T RESPOND immediately. You’ll just get you into an endless loop of micro-messages, CC’s and forward’s. It’ll keep you up at night worrying and you won’t spend any quality time with your friends, family or significant other.

5. Empowerment. Finally, empower your people to make real decisions. That will eliminate 90 percent of the extraneous CC’ing, forwarding and superfluous cell phone calls: “Hey did you get me email?”


Email is one of the most powerful and most cost-effective communication tools ever invented both for B2B marketing purposes and for communication with your clients and colleagues. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most abused. Sure there are several promising inbox management tools on the market. But, technology isn’t the solution. People are the solution. The better we can be about sending out relevant communication that really matters, and about empowering our managers to make real decisions with authority, the less overwhelming our email will be on whichever device we choose to consume it.


TAGS: email overload, communication benchmarking study, Jenna Wortham, Joshua Lyman

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Are We Too Deep into Data?

Numbers are only part of the equation when it comes to smart B2B decision-making

David Brooks’ NY Times op-ed piece today got me thinking. Our society’s obsession with gathering huge amounts of data fosters “certain cultural assumptions that everything that can be measured should be measured.” He also notes that data is a “transparent and reliable lens that allows us to filter out emotionalism and ideology.”

Here at HB, we sometimes get labeled as data junkies because we generate a growing portion of our revenue from rigorous benchmarking research and gap analysis studies that we do for our clients. We also try to help online advertisers, agencies and media owners separate the numbers that matter from the numbers that are simply easy to gather—we call those McMetrics. We also urge our clients to supplement all their surveys, polls or other research initiatives with verbatim interviews with respondents. Why? To make sure the human side of the data comes through.

Full disclosure: Our Super Bowl office pools are a little wacky, including one based on the probability that certain categories of commercials will run at specific times of the Big Game. No we didn’t have an over-under on the chances of a second-half blackout. But data showed that a tidal surge of tweets and posts about the bizarre Superdome snafu helped re-kindle interest in an apparent blowout victory for the Baltimore Ravens and brought an estimated 5 to 6 million viewers back to the game.

Beyond the Click

Back in 2002—the dark ages of online media—I co-authored a rigorous research report with
Bay Street Group president, Rick Telberg, entitled “Beyond the Click.” The ideas was to help online advertisers, marketers and agencies better understand the “latency principle” of banner ads. In sum, online consumers don’t necessarily visit your website the instant they see your banner ad and if they do go to your website on the day your new banner ad has run, it’s not necessarily because that particular ad is the most effective one in your campaign, i.e. the one that prompted the consumer to take action. We still get contacted for copies of Beyond the Click and the research also explores the “build effect” of a campaign and the weekend “catch-up” effect of busy professionals.

Brooks admits he’s still trying to figure out when it’s best to rely on intuitive pattern recognition and when we should just ignore intuition and follow the data.  Data, he argues is good at helping us understand when our intuitive view of reality is wrong. Second, he posits that data can “illuminate patterns of behavior we haven’t yet noticed.” For example, does frequent use of such word as “I,” “me,” and “mine” mean you’re more egotistical than people who don’t?  Turns out, when people are feeling confident, they are focused on the task at hand, not on themselves. High status, confident people use fewer “I” words, not more, according to University of Texas prof, James Pennebaker, in his book, “The Secret Life of Pronouns.”

I recently spoke with Eric Wulf, CEO of the International Car Wash Association (ICA), about his organization’s industry benchmarking data initiative which has become one of the ICA’s most popular member benefits.  Wash Count™ is a tool ICA developed to help car wash operators benchmark and compare their business results by market, by geography, by type of facility and many other factors. That’s important to an industry that’s increasingly going from mom-and-pop operators to corporate conglomerates. More than 800 sites contribute data to ICA’s research initiative. But here’s the key, said Wulf: “Our staff spends a lot of time onsite with members, picking up pieces of intelligence and always asking them, ‘How’s it going?’ It’s very important to add the face-to-face interaction to the raw data.

Macro View

Despite yesterday’s report that the economy shrank slightly in the October to December quarter, don’t start sounding the recession alarm bells yet. Housing had another strong month and business investment in equipment and software, rose at an annual rate of 12.4 percent, the best showing in more than a year, the Commerce Department said. Meanwhile, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) reported that manufacturing grew a lot faster in January thanks to an increase in hiring and new orders. The ISM’s widely watched index is now at 53.1, up from 50.2 in December and its highest level in almost a year.


Data used responsibly is an essential tool for gut checking our assumptions and preventing emotional bias from clouding our decision-making process. But, remember, it is just one tool in a smart B2B marketer’s tool kit. At the end of the day, we’re all humans, trying to get the right products and services into the hands of the right kinds of humans at just the right time when they’re ready to buy.


TAGS: Institute for Supply Management, Super Bowl Blackout, Eric Wulf, International Car Wash Association, David Brooks, New York Times, Rick Telberg, McMetrics, Beyond the Click,
James Pennebaker, University of Texas