Employees Are Not Customers!

Posted by: in Corporate and Strategy, gary grates, Thought Leadership, W2O Group on April 17, 2014

Why Marketing Techniques and Thinking Don’t Work Internally…How to Turn your Workforce into an Influencer

It’s the big day!  Your organization is announcing a new product and internally employees are being greeted with posters, videos, messages, balloons, mouse pads, mugs, and pithy slogans in an effort to get them “excited” about the launch.

So, what typically happens next?

Employees take the goodies home or throw them out (how many mugs can one person have?)  The balloons and banners eventually deflate and fray.  The messages dissipate and the videos are neither viewed nor shared.

In the end, while the intention may be noble the execution is flawed due to one critical insight – employees are not customers!

Customers and employees are distinct communities, each with specific levels of understanding, beliefs, bias, motivations and expectations.  They each have different mindsets.  Customers tend to see what you want them to see and believe about your product and company.  Employees see behind the curtain and are much savvier about the company’s strengths and weaknesses.

Employees expect not to be entertained but informed.  They need context and purpose.  They need input and involvement.  They need dialogue, discussion and debate.  What is usually missing when communicators use marketing techniques to “promote” strategies, products, services, or initiatives inside companies is that employees don’t respond to campaigns – slogans, give-aways, speeches.   Rather, they are looking for information, education, discussion, and feedback so as to make the argument for themselves.

When this happens people feel more compelled and confident to share with their networks – both internally and externally – acting as both ambassador and advocate for the company’s position.  This is important given that recent surveys identify employees as the most credible source of information about a company’s products, services, and promise turning them into a legitimate influencer in today’s social and digital environment.

What to do

Instead of canned videos touting your new product, set up web chats with the product’s designer that employees can access and gain insight into the thinking behind the effort.  Instead of banners and balloons, provide interactive modules with potential customers or users and select company representatives gaining a deeper appreciation for the product’s efficacy and usage.  Instead of themes or slogans, explain the marketing program including objectives, strategies, target customers, techniques and timing to cadence an employee’s use of social media to expand outreach.  Instead of prepared messages, engage senior leaders with employees through Town Halls and corresponding on-line discussions via internal collaboration platforms (Yammer, Jive, etc.) that initiate new conversations on the product and the company.

All of this shifts internal communications from a “sell” activity to a “discover” strategy engendering trust among the workforce through strengthening people’s knowledge, confidence and treating them as active members of the organization’s success.

When done right, internal efforts become external opportunities with employees leading the way and providing necessary, credible arguments on a variety of topics to customers, prospects, media and influencers.

Bottom-line: Marketing and Communications are trying to achieve the same overall goal – organizational success – but need to support that goal via vastly different yet complementary strategies, approaches, techniques and measures.

It starts with recognizing and respecting that employees must be addressed differently than customers and that your workforce is not a homogenous group.   It continues with working in partnership to align the company’s promise and products in a manner that results in employee understanding, confidence, and engagement.

Think about it.  Who better to supplement your existing marketing and sales effort than your workforce!

How many coffee mugs do you have?

Pre-Commerce Check out Chief Technology and Media Officer Bob Pearson's new book, Pre-Commerce, in which he shares ideas for leaders to engage directly with customers to shape their brand and marketplace success. Now available for order on Amazon.com! http://amzn.to/bAmvFN. Join the conversation #precommerce.

Outdoor advertising was the original ‘tweet’ – Jon Maron of INRIX – The Live from Stubbs Interview

Posted by: in Advertising, Austin Social Media, CMO, Innovation, Integrated Marketing, Marketing Insights, Pre-Commerce, Social Media Insights & Trends, Thought Leadership, W2O Group on April 17, 2014

MaronJPreCommerceLive from Stubb’s is an interview series created by the W2O Group to capture the thinking of the world’s best, brightest, boldest, most innovative and most fun people – with a strong dash of Austin thrown in for extra flavor. The interview series has featured business leaders from places like Verizon, Mastercard and Kaiser Permanente, Newsmakers like NBC, drivers of social good like the Livestrong Foundation, and even breaking bands like Lord Huron.

Today’s featured guest is Jon Maron, VP of Global Marketing and Corporate Communications, at INRIX.

Key Messages:

Is outdoor advertising dead?:

“People forget about traditional out of home marketing – the problem with out of home in many markets is that you have these old dilapidated billboards that are on the side of the road that essentially people don’t want to do anything with at this point, and even more importantly they have no idea how to measure what is happening with those billboards.”

“We’ve looked at billboards as a bigger opportunity, especially now as they move to digital, to really communicate with consumers in a way that doesn’t feel like noise.”

Most marketers think about how they can reach someone who’s driving 60 MPH – which is the wrong approach:

“It’s not about going 60 miles an hour, it’s about where are the areas where traffic is actually sitting still and then what kind of message can you put on that billboard.”

“We measure distance in minutes instead of in miles.”

On the future of the “Connected Car:”

“The connected car of today looks like I’m driving down the road at 60 miles an hour and all of a sudden I get a little warning on my dashboard that says all the cars 3 miles in front of you just hit the brakes and turned their lights on, probably they just drove into a rain storm or snow, you better slow down so you don’t drive 60 miles an hour into that same problem.”

“The problem today isn’t the data; the problem is creating something that works with the data we get.”

Enjoy the interview! And don’t for get to connect with Jon (and INRIX) on Twitter and LinkedIn:

Jon’s Twitter: @jmaronny

Jon’s LinkedIn

INRIX’ Twitter: @INRIX

INRIX’ LinkedIn Corporate Page

By: Greg Matthews

Greg Matthews is the the creator and Managing Director of the W2O Group's MDigitalLife - Understanding and Engaging Physicians in the Digital Age

Find me on: Twitter
Pre-Commerce Check out Chief Technology and Media Officer Bob Pearson's new book, Pre-Commerce, in which he shares ideas for leaders to engage directly with customers to shape their brand and marketplace success. Now available for order on Amazon.com! http://amzn.to/bAmvFN. Join the conversation #precommerce.

LinkedIn Emerging as a Content Repository

Posted by: in Content, Social Media Insights & Trends, Thought Leadership on April 15, 2014

Michael Brito recently blogged about the significance of LinkedIn as a publishing platform. That’s the latest outcome of the social platform’s focus on content.  This focus is not a new one—it’s a strategy that dates back to 2011 when LinkedIn named Dan Roth its executive editor.

That move paved the way for LinkedIn Today. Not too long after, LinkedIn bought Pulse in April 2013. And less than  month after that, it purchased purchased SlideShare. For a more detailed look its history, take a look at Ken Yeung’s article commemorating LinkedIn’s 10-year existence.

My point in connecting these dots is to highlight LinkedIn’s emergence as a content repository. Twitter has solidified its position as the place to hear about breaking news and Facebook’s trying its hand at trending news as well. In my view, though, LinkedIn’s trumping both of them in terms of surfacing content by topic, by publisher, and by influencer.

Finding Content by Channel (or topic):

Log into LinkedIn, click Interests, then Pulse (or click on the image below). From there, click the All Channels tab. Click on the blue plus sign to follow or subscribe to any Channel.

LinkedIn - All Channels

 Finding Content from LinkedIn Influencers:

Log into LinkedIn, click Interests, then Pulse  (or click on the image below). From there, click the All Influencers tab. Click on the blue plus sign to follow or subscribe to any LinkedIn Influencer.

LinkedIn - All Influencers 

Finding content by Publisher:

Log into LinkedIn, click Interests, then Pulse (or click on the image below). From there, click the All Publishers tab. Click on the blue plus sign to follow or subscribe to any Publisher.

LinkedIn - All Publishers

LinkedIn curates content based on all the channels, the authors and publishers you subscribe to (along with the articles your connections and others in your industry are sharing). It surfaces that content via the Your News link. You can also get to Your News in LinkedIn by clicking on LinkedIn.com/Today.

LinkedIn has also been quietly surfacing metrics around content you share. In the image below, besides showing the number of views and likes a particular update earned, it also breaks those totals down by 1st, 2nd and 3rd connections.

Shares on LinkedIn

With its focus on content, LinkedIn has made a lot of progress in a short amount of time. Since they introduced the concept of LinkedIn as a publishing platform by opening to a small set of LinkedIn Influencers in the fall of 2012, those posts have driven lots of engagement (an average of 31,000 views, 250 likes and 80 comments according to LinkedIn).

We’ll see, but I think opening it up as a publishing platform for many more of its members will ensure that LinkedIn keeps the content momentum it’s been building.

If you haven’t spent some time digging into the kind of content LinkedIn offers, I’d recommend you give it a try. I bet you’ll find things worth sharing on a regular basis.

By: Lionel Menchaca

Lionel used to be Dell's Chief Blogger, beginning in 2006 when Dell launched its first blog. Now he's Director of Content Engagement for WCG.

Find me on: Twitter Facebook
Pre-Commerce Check out Chief Technology and Media Officer Bob Pearson's new book, Pre-Commerce, in which he shares ideas for leaders to engage directly with customers to shape their brand and marketplace success. Now available for order on Amazon.com! http://amzn.to/bAmvFN. Join the conversation #precommerce.

What We All Thought About Millennials Is Actually True

Posted by: in Customer Experience, Integrated Marketing on April 14, 2014

millenials

Every brand, well most of them, desperately want to understand millennials – their online behavior, where they spend their time, what they care about, how they work, purchase patterns, etc. And the reason is pretty simple. There are over 80 million of them roaming the Internet, which is by far the largest generation to date.

They are also influential and they buy a lot of products too.

A new research study by SDL digs deep into the behaviors of millennials and how they interact with brands, media and content. The study sampled more than 300 millennials in the U.S. (ages 18-36), all college educated and employed full-time. The study itself builds on the SDL’s recent Privacy Study that found 79 percent of customers are willing to provide personal information to a brand they trust. Here are some highlights that you may find interesting, all which would be suitable bullet points for your next presentation:

  • 66% use more than one mobile device, daily
  • 40% are able to identify specific data collected about them and tracked by brands
  • 60% are more likely to share personal data based on past experience and how much they trust the brand
  • 80% choose to connect with brands in social media, but they want something in return
  • Millennials look their mobile phones more than 45 times per day

What this study provides that most others don’t is that it gives actionable advice for brands trying to reach that “unpredictable, sometimes narcissistic yet passionate” millennial on the multitude of mobile devices they use daily:

  • Campaigns are Extinct: Millennial consumers orchestrate their own brand experiences on their time, across channels and devices with brands that they trust. As a result, campaigns no longer start with a contact list and stop with an email blast – they are continuous exercises, consistent across all communication channels.
  • Your Data Trumps Big Data. View your customer’s data as a key source of intelligence for hyper-segmentation and targeting. Done right, targeted marketing messages add value for your customers. Done wrong, they seem creepy. Use customer data deliberately so you can deliver messages that are consistent, considerate and relevant.
  • There’s Only One LanguageFocus your marketing efforts on initiatives that not only build awareness, but also cultivate referrals. Determine where your customers are, and then meet them there, with a long-term strategy top-of-mind.
  • Content Finds the Customer: Social networks and customizable news feeds dominate content discovery: The top three channels where millennials discover online information are Facebook, Twitter and YouTube with customizable news feed sites surpassing traditional news sites and email for content discovery.
  • Channels are Irrelevant. Create consistent, cross-channel experiences to cater to any multiple device & optimize offers by channel and realize that consumers see content the day its shared.

What’s clear from the study is that brands must adopt the same principles as media companies if they truly want to reach this very active demographic – being storytellers, building a content engine, aligning internal teams to optimize content operations and being agile.

By: Michael Brito

I’m a Group Director. Been making things happen online since the mid 90s with the legit hustle. I get mad when the Niners lose, really mad.

Find me on: Twitter
Pre-Commerce Check out Chief Technology and Media Officer Bob Pearson's new book, Pre-Commerce, in which he shares ideas for leaders to engage directly with customers to shape their brand and marketplace success. Now available for order on Amazon.com! http://amzn.to/bAmvFN. Join the conversation #precommerce.

Tempest in a teapot or slippery slope? Doctors respond to Medicare data

Posted by: in Analytics, Digital Health, Healthcare Insights, MDigitalLife, Medical Communications, Social Media Insights & Trends on April 12, 2014

Fletch movie image Chevy ChaseThose of you who follow the healthcare industry very closely (and many of you who don’t!) have no doubt been puzzling through the ultimate meaning of Medicare’s “data dump” – a list of nearly every procedure performed by a U.S. doctor on a Medicare patient. For most doctors, the reaction has been fairly muted. As my colleague Brian Reid reported on Tuesday:

 A quick scan late yesterday suggested that there were just over 200 tweets on the topic. And there was nary a peep of protest. The closest anyone came to an “outcry” was Chicago-based primary care doc Atul Jain, who tweeted out: “Transparency + muddied data = confusion.”

Brian Reid, Doctors who tweet aren’t the ones who bill medicare for millions – via KevinMD.com, 4/10/14

And although the response remained fairly muted through Friday, it was clear that there was some growing concern about what the release of that data – in the form that it was, with the (relatively little) context provided – could be problematic. I used our MDigitalLife database* to dig a little deeper into what doctors were reading and sharing relative to the announcement.

First of all, it’s no surprise that conversation volume was much higher than normal. For the 3 day period we studied (4/9-11/2014), the volume on our keywords** was 600% higher than for the same period in the prior week. Perhaps more importantly, the number of doctors participating in that conversation increased nearly as much, with 419% more doctors engaged this week.

There was a significant amount of retweeting activity (unsurprising for a news-heavy topic like this one), with the most-retweeted handles being Kaiser Health News’ Jordan Rau, WSJ Editor Gerard Baker, Vox Senior Editor Sarah Kliff, Electrophysiologist Dr. John Mandrola and health data guru Fred Trotter. Interestingly, even though the media clearly dominated the top of the list, doctors owned the long tail. Here’s a breakdown of the top 25 most-retweeted accounts:

The tone of the conversation began to migrate as well. When performing a content gap analysis*** on the data from this week as opposed to last week, there were some interesting changes.

  • Last week’s differentiating words included: Public, see, good and care
  • This week’s included: Transparency, payment, biller, payout, opthamology, disclose and mislead

The last, of course, is the most telling; it will be interesting to see where physicians’ public dialog goes.

One of the most interesting things about studying physicians’ online dialog is to see what they’re reading –  and subsequently find worthy of sharing. Between Wednesday and Friday this week, US doctors shared more than 50 separate articles; here are the ones they shared most, in order:

  1. New York Times - Sliver of Medicare Doctors Get Big Share of Payouts, Reed Abelson and Sarah Cohen
  2. Wall Street Journal - Small Slice of Doctors Account for Big Chunk of Medicare Costs, Christopher Weaver, Tom McGinty and Louise Radnofsky
  3. New York Times - How Much Medicare Pays For Your Doctor’s Care
  4. KevinMD - Doctors who tweet aren’t ones who bill Medicare for millions, WCG’s Brian Reid
  5. Washington Post - The top 10 Medicare billers explain why they charged $121M in one year, Jason Millman
  6. CMS - Medicare Provider Utilization and Payment Data: Physician and Other Supplier
  7. Washington Post - Data uncover nation’s top Medicare billers, Peter Whoriskey, Dan Keating and Lena K. Sun
  8. (Tie)

[NOTE: There's no small amount of pride to see my colleague Brian Reid coming in at number 4 on that list - pretty amazing validation of the interest that physicians have in the work that we're doing]

There has also been some really excellent physician journalism on the subject; here’s a smattering of some of my favorites:

From Leslie Kernisan, MD: “Why Patients Should Care About Doctors & Money” ( @GeriTechBlog)

From John Mandrola, MD: Six initial impressions of the Medicare payment disclosure story  (@drjohnm)

From Gary Levin, MD: “MEDICARE HAS RELEASED YOUR INCOME FIGURES TO THE PUBLIC” (@ glevin1)

And although not from a physician blogger, I wanted to give a shout-out to Chris Hogg for sharing this excellent work from the team at Practice Fusion: PracticeFusion doctors received more than $5B in Medicare payments in 2012  (@CWHogg)

Finally, although it went to press too late to be considered for this analysis, I’d definitely encourage you to look at Brian Reid’s follow-up piece on this blog, exploring a fascinating aspect of the Medicare data that seems to have gone completely unnoticed: There are almost no women in the list of top billers.

Medicare’s Top Billers: Where are the Women? by Brian Reid


*We’ve indexed the digital footprint for over 200,000 US physicians to date – MDigitalLife is the world’s the first and only data set to link physicians’ digital properties to a national physician registry

** Keywords: CMS OR #CMS OR CMMS OR #CMMS OR Medicare OR #Medicare OR “data drop”

*** A content gap analysis compares two sets of text, and looks for the words and phrases that appear either MUCH MORE or MUCH LESS than in the opposing document [NOTE: Vast oversimplification; ask your friendly neighborhood statistician for details]

By: Greg Matthews

Greg Matthews is the the creator and Managing Director of the W2O Group's MDigitalLife - Understanding and Engaging Physicians in the Digital Age

Find me on: Twitter
Pre-Commerce Check out Chief Technology and Media Officer Bob Pearson's new book, Pre-Commerce, in which he shares ideas for leaders to engage directly with customers to shape their brand and marketplace success. Now available for order on Amazon.com! http://amzn.to/bAmvFN. Join the conversation #precommerce.