Archive for January, 2013|Monthly archive page

Mobile marketing 101

You would have to be living on the moon not to notice the huge popularity of smartphones. Their ubiquity presents marketers with a rich channel or vehicle to build revenue, improve program efficiencies and enhance the brand.  Yet at the same time, this opportunity comes with its share of brand and investment risks.  To maximize ROI, marketers need to understand why mobile marketing is fundamentally different from traditional media and PC-based digital marketing and how best to engage consumers.

Strategy Analytics, a U.S. research firm, reports that the number of global smartphone users surpassed the 1B mark (1 in 7 people globally) during the third quarter of 2012.  In Canada, there are now over 10.5M smartphone users representing about 30% of the population.  Growth in both geographies shows little sign of abating in the short term.

This penetration has not gone unnoticed by companies.  It is triggering a significant shift in budget spend towards new mobile marketing programs. Companies dipping their toe into this medium regularly ask us to provide some key success factors to best leverage this new channel.  Below are 4 essentials that must be considered for any mobile marketing initiative:

1.        Mobile enables new brand experiences that go way beyond traditional advertising. Unlike passive advertising and promotion, mobile marketing allows brands to engage consumers in unique, personalized, ‘always on’ and location-based relationships. Mobile advertising is largely new to consumers often delivering new forms of engagement that other media can not offer, such as coupons that they can instantaneously redeem in stores or a Nike app that can help them with their workouts.

Pina Sciarra, former head of marketing for Coke Canada and ConAgra Foods, is one marketing leader driving the significant shift from traditional media spend to other mediums like mobile marketing.  “Mobile devices are the future, with a profound impact on education, consumerism, lifestyle management and program ROI. This medium has and will continue to change the way brands reach their consumers or more importantly how they reach us.”

2.        “Appvertising” is driving engagement.  Apps are the sine non qua of mobile marketing.  Consumers can easily download the app for their favorite brands and interact with them to make purchases, discover new information, and share with their friends. Though estimates vary, over 500K apps have been published with more than 15B downloaded. Apps are a form of advertising that many people actually welcome onto their phones, whether by downloading free applets or in many cases even paying for them.  Companies are using Apps in many ways, such as providing new services, tools or games to extend their brand; creating a mobile site so their customers have easier access to their offering or; serving up mobile banner ads to reach their target ‘on the go.’

3.        Mobile is essential for modern living. Canadians are using smartphones daily in every aspect of their lives. According to a 2012 Ipsos Reid study, Canadians rely on their smartphones for a variety of functions such as taking photos (70%), sending or reading email (70%), checking social networking sites (48%), and online gaming (11%). Canadian smartphone owners spend on average 2.5 hours per day on their mobile device. The majority (81%) of users feel they do not take advantage of the full functionality of their smartphones.

Some social networking sites are actually being designed around mobile devices, such a Foursquare, which utilizes the GPS location technology on smartphones. The phrase “there’s an app for that” rings true as smartphone functionality continues to increase, further driving market penetration.

4.        QR bar codes drive integration. Ubiquitous QR bar codes are now found in most traditional advertising vehicles like magazines, outdoor ads and newspapers.  Scanning QR bar codes with a smartphone reader enables consumers to more deeply explore a brand or promotion via micro sites, video, and audio tools. Leveraging these codes also drive stronger cross-program integration thereby increasing overall marketing effectiveness and efficiency.

Like it or not, every company and brand is being impacted by mobile marketing and the consumer dialogue it enables.  The corporate challenge is to figure out the best way to leverage this new medium while ensuring it integrates with the rest of the marketing mix. One prudent approach is to align your mobile programs against your brand strategy and value proposition, and begin modestly with a pilot project. Start with an app and mobile site, talk to your customers, learn from the experience, and expand from there.

For more information on our services and work, please visit the Quanta Consulting Inc. web site.

Implement through Gamification

I rarely reference the work of other consultants, except when it is produced by Bridges Business Consultancy, an implementation-focused firm based in Singapore. An example of their excellent global industry research is attached.

My two key takeaways from their study are:

  1. Despite high awareness of the problem, managers remain challenged implementing their strategies and changing
  2. Employee communication, engagement and sustained management focus remain barriers

Our North American experience finds similar results.  To close this strategy-performance gap, we are increasingly using Gamification strategies to kickstart transformation and sustain change. Please contact me if you would like to discuss your change management needs at, mosak@quantaconsulting.com.

http://www.slideshare.net/SpeculandRobin/strategy-implementation-survey-results-2012?utm_source=Strategy+Implementation+Survey+2012+Findings&utm_campaign=survey&utm_medium=email Thank you.

 

Better change management

Organizations that cannot change are at risk of declining competitiveness, profitability and employee engagement.   According to numerous studies, anywhere from 70-90% of all change initiatives fail.  Failure has many fathers.  One cause I regularly come across in my consulting work is when change agents fail to consider the influence of the employee’s worldview.  Accommodate or tweak the worldview and your odds of success improve considerably.  One way to do this is to leverage the power of internal social relationships and reframe the business challenge to secure buy in.

Most change management efforts follow a similar formula:  a CEO establishes a need for change; a “burning platform” or future state narrative is created and communicated through the organization; a plan is developed and teams are dispatched to spread the gospel and implement the change.  No doubt this is a logical approach.  It has proven to be ineffective in many cases, in my opinion, because of its inordinate emphasis on appealing to the rational mind.   While having a rational business case or approach is important, we now know from psychological research that individuals do not behave rationally all the time or act on the basis of objective conditions.

To foster change, managers need to look beyond the rational to the person’s subconscious and social relationships, where a different behavioral trigger resides.  The trigger, a person’s worldview, is an involuntary but helpful cognitive lens that provides a shortcut to understanding events and choosing the best course of action. In general, people act within their worldview (an intrinsic state as determined by their culture, history, biology or status) and as they think is expected of them by their peers. Given its subconscious location, an adult’s worldview is usually not of their choice or making.  Many unrelated individuals and groups will share similar worldviews, yet, these lens can also vary based on the influence of different intrinsic and extrinsic factors like pay, censure etc.

Simply put, modify an employee’s worldview and you are on the way to changing their behavior.  Below are two of many factors that influence an employee’s worldview: the impact of social relationships and their perceptions of situations.

The ties that bind

There is an old dictum that soldiers in a foxhole are motivated to fight, not for country or ideology, but to garner the respect of their fellow soldiers. Research says that most people’s perception and behaviors are correlated with the expectations of the larger social groups they are a part of as opposed to their individual casual or rational calculations. This (often) unconscious social obligation is what psychologists call delegation. For example, someone who has never stolen anything may end up stealing if they associate with a gang of thieves and are convinced to do it just once. Once a skeptical individual complies with the target change, subsequent behaviors are more likely to follow the desired path – if positively reinforced by the social group.

There are many ways to leverage social power.  One tactic is to structure teams in a way that uses social obligation to nudge reticent employees into quick behavioral change and ongoing compliance.   Our firm recommends that transformational teams be deliberately seeded with more committed change agents than skeptics.  These change agents would exploit peer pressure to incite quick change.  We also suggest managers prioritize informal social networks over formal organizational structures during their roll out planning.

Make it real

Employees look at a situation or a management goal through the prism of their worldview. One problem we often encounter is that corporations spend little time or effort defining a business situation that is not seen as distant, unconvincing or unappealing on an emotional level. When this happens, a person’s subconscious worldview will kick in and block or slows down action. Fortunately, once a person truly understands the situation or the need for change, they are more likely to change their worldview to accommodate the desired behavior.

The perception of a situation should be built and reinforced over an extended period through multiple vehicles including storytelling, visualization, and game playing (through simulations or gamification programs).  Managers must take care to ensure that their carefully-crafted perception does not lead employees to destructive behaviors or the neglect of other duties.

Change will always be difficult.  Leaders can improve their chances by first understanding an employee and group’s worldview and then tweaking it in a systematic and methodical way through tailored engagement and communication strategies.

For more information on our services and work, please visit the Quanta Consulting Inc. web site.

On location analytics

Imagine yourself a retailing executive. Most likely you want to improve your understanding of actual customer behavior so that you could develop better inventory, marketing, and merchandising programs. What if your firm had the ability to track real consumer behavior across multiple locations, ranging from where they come from, to their buying habits and through to why they made specific transactions.  That would be very powerful – and soon a common occurrence thanks to the emerging field of location analytics.

Simply put, LA collects, aggregates and analyzes a person’s credit card and GPS-device activity (e.g., interacting through social networking sites) to find relationships between place and action on their shopping and purchasing behavior.  LA’s uniqueness traces to its ability to mine insights between the interplay of unstructured data like physical location, geographic context, behavioral activities and social habits. The power of LA is further magnified when it can overlay these location-centered insights with structured data found in existing databases like the census, internal CRM information and traditional geospatial technology that collects static information on roads, homes etc.

A quintessential Big Data application, LA uses sophisticated algorithms, high performance computing, analytical capabilities and multiple data sources to identify hidden consumer and population patterns that can aid decision making and planning.  A number of industries like retailing, real estate development, retail banking, and service firms are beginning to use LA to significantly improve marketing program effectiveness, enhance customer satisfaction and right size operations. This compelling value proposition plus the intersection of business and technology developments is spawning a rapid growth in the market. According to ABI Research, the LA market is forecasted to be $9B by 2016.  No wonder, some of the world’s biggest IT firms including Microsoft, Apple, Facebook and Cisco have recently bought stakes in some leading LA providers.

There are many potential applications for LA services.  Within a large mall, retailers can understand what items were bought, where and when; why did the purchases happen in certain stores and; how were the transactions executed.  More importantly, firms can understand the relationship between these variables in order to get a complete picture of aggregated consumer behavior at the mall.  For example, where do shoppers and non-shoppers come from? Why do some consumers go to one store first? Or, why do people neglect to purchase from a particular store?

Consider another scenario. A restaurant chain wants to open a dozen more outlets across Canada. This strategy requires a significant amount of capital and effort while carrying substantial business risk.  Using LA services can help management understand the relationship between demographics, traffic flows, local eating habits, psychographics, costs and income levels on potential site revenue and build-out costs. As well, the insights generated by LA would help determine the optimal food mix, service levels and store size for each location.

Despite its Orwellian undertones, LA is about helping companies’ track aggregate patterns and predict trends so they could make better decisions; tracking individual behavior has little business value by itself.   Of course, firms will need to ensure there are adequate privacy safeguards and opt-out procedures to maintain consumer trust.

To fully exploit its potential, managers must ensure their LA technology and people investments are aligned to corporate goals and strategies.  As with other Big Data projects, implementing LA initiatives will come with IT and organizational challenges that should not be underestimated.  Before jumping in, companies will need to build out internal LA skills so that they can ask the right analytical questions, manage the data and capitalize on the learnings. Since organizations differ around their scale, IT and business needs, few enterprises (except large firms such as Walmart, McDonalds or Starbucks) would be advised to operate their own LA platforms.  As a result, the market is seeing the emergence of information aggregators or data brokers like IBM who can consolidate and filter data from disparate sources and geographies by sector.

For more information on our services and work, please visit the Quanta Consulting Inc. web site.