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As I mentioned in my kickoff post, we will host a series of blog interviews over the next two weeks with speakers from our upcoming PreCommerce Summit (March 10) and Movers & Shapers Summit (March 12). Today’s interview is with long time friend, founder of the Social Media Club and serial entrepreneur, Chris Heuer. Chris will be part of a panel called “Future of…” at our PreCommerce Summit on Thursday, March 10.a - ChrisHeuer

According to Chris’s LinkedIn profile, he has been “engaged in interactive communications since 1993, and launched his first agency, Guru Communications, out of South Beach, Florida in 1994. Over the years he has helped numerous startups with go-to market strategies, product design, web site development, online marketing campaigns, eCommerce and what is now widely referred to as Social Media.” Some of the skills he’s been endorsed for by his peers are entrepreneurship, start-ups and social media marketing.

  1. Aaron: How do you define innovation?
    Chris: Two words. Failure and iteration.
    This is why most corporations do it so poorly, they think innovation is some magical process where someone just hits upon a big idea that will change the organization. A product or process that will change their competitive position in the market. In the real world, just as in our history, it takes 9,999 tries to find the right filament that can light your way forward.
  2. Aaron: What are you or your organization doing to drive innovation?
    Chris: Rewarding courage and squeezing out fear. It’s the only way. On a personal level, it is a topic I speak on often, but I am also involved with the innovation community and have been studying what large organizations are doing now to get it right. While at Deloitte, I advised on the deployment of our innovation platform and often engaged with the different innovation exercises around the US and in Canada.
  3. Aaron: Who is someone in your industry (or outside) that you admire? Why?
    Chris: Curt Carlson, former CEO of SRI, has done a tremendous job advancing innovation. His book, Innovation is a must read.  I’m also a huge fan of what Tom Chi has been doing in the area of rapid prototyping with Factoryx.
  4. Aaron: Where do you see your industry being in 3 years? 5? 10?
    Chris: Somewhere completely different then we ever imagined. Being cross-industry, cross-discipline, it’s hard for me to pick one prediction, but I am very much interested in contextualized collaboration using augmented reality with cognitive assistance and a voice based UI.
  5. Aaron: What book are you reading right now? How did you choose it?
    Chris: Matterness: Fearless Leadership for a Social World. As for why choosing, see answers above. It’s essential to deepen our humanity and find better ways to create alignment so that we can all benefit. The only way to do this is to stand up for what is right and keep pushing on a vision of a #BetterWorld. This is why, even though I don’t have the time or resources, I have started working on a new non-profit, Rysing Tyde, to help lift all people to their greatest potential in the emerging economy that lies ahead.
  6. For fun: what three things would you make sure you brought with you in a zombie apocalypse?

A.
Can opener, so I can eat brains easily without chipping my teeth.
Salt. Brains without salt are just gross.
Fava beans. Obviously, a good side dish is important.

B.
Good running shoes, samurai sword and an iPhone packed with appropriate zombie killing music.

I always enjoy speaking at the Internet Retailer Conference, which is the largest e-commerce meeting of its kind in the world.  This year,  I was asked to discuss “how to choose the right social media partners”.   My deck is here and below if you’d like to read it.

I was a client for many years at Rhone-Poulenc Rorer (now Sanofi), Novartis and Dell.  And, today, I’m often asked by our clients who they should consider for various social media activities.

Here’s a brief summary of what I believe we all can do to improve the search process and identify the right partners.

We need to acknowledge that the current way that most agencies are selected is a broken process.  We have checklists, requests for information (RFI) and requests for presentation (RFP) documents that ask the same questions each time and check off the same boxes over and over again.

When questions are predictable, so are the answers.  Think of when you were in school.  If you just have to memorize material for a test, you may pass, but you didn’t learn much.  We know that is not the right way to go.

Instead, we need to move from an RFP to a Request for Knowledge or an RFK.  Clients need to test the working knowledge of the agencies who may be hired.

Every agency says “I wish they would give us a chance to show them how much we know on X topic”.  Well, in an RFK scenario, you sink or swim on what you know, what you have done and how you will innovate in the future.

My presentation walks through 12 areas that are important to address.  In each case, you’ll see the questions I recommend asking of agencies to assess who will be the best partner.  You don’t have to use all of them every time, but it is important to learn about each other in new and more effective ways than we often do today.

I look forward to your ideas on how to further improve the process.

Enjoy, Bob

This is a guest post by my Live from Stubbs co-host, Kyle Flaherty.

Let’s start with a bit of physics. In the theory of relativity there is something called “time dilation”, which is a difference of elapsed time between two events as measured by observers when they are moving relative to each other. This happened to me during our Live From Stubb’s taping with Amber Naslund of Sysomos.

The first time I ‘met’ Amber Naslund was August of 2008 when we struck up a Twitter conversation about Aaron Rodgers. We then met in person at SXSW 2009 and since then I’ve watched Amber from afar as she wrote and published a best-selling book, The NOW Revolution, and continued her successful career in marketing. When you read Amber, whether her book or blog, you get a no-filter, no-nonsense take on what is happening in the marketing world. I’ve always respected her thoughts, even when we disagreed, because I value honesty and authenticity above everything else.

Amber has marketing in her DNA. Watching her speak at the W2O Pre-Commerce Summit I was truly struck by her intelligence and storytelling abilities. And this is a critical component for all of us in marketing today as we are overcome by media channels, brands, and poor strategic choices. Thinking back, this is why I enjoyed talking with her in 2008, in between, and then reconnecting in 2015. Even before our Live From Stubb’s interview we were joking about how we have all been pushing the boundaries of marketing for decades now, yet some folks think many of us have ‘disappeared’ (watch the interview to see why).

Sitting with Amber in 2015 and talking about the current marketing landscape it felt both as if 2008 was yesterday and nearly a decade ago. Time moves, marketing evolves, but for me, I try to make genuine humans like Amber a constant.

You can see Sheldon Levine of Sysomos’s post about the interview here.

Daina (1)

As I mentioned in our set up post for our PreCommerce thought leader series, we will be interviewing several of our speakers in advance of our events the week of March 9. Next up is Daina Middleton, Head of Global Business Marketing at Twitter. For more information about our events during SXSW, go here.

Prior to joining Twitter to run global marketing, Daina was the CEO of Performics, the performance marketing division of Publicis Groupe. A pioneer in the digital marketing space, Daina is known for creating “participant marketing”. Prior to joining Performics, she served as SVP of Insights, Trends, Innovation and Research at Moxie.  Prior to that, Daina spent 16 years working at Hewlett-Packard in key marketing positions across the company, and was running advertising for HP’s $28 billion global Imaging and Printing Group immediately prior to her departure. Daina serves on the boards of Marin Software, Healthwise, and the Teton Valley Community Foundation.  She is a regular industry speaker.

And now on to the interview:

[Aaron Strout] I’ve heard you have a slightly unorthodox major/minor combination. How did this come to be?
[Daina Middleton] Yes, it’s true. I have a journalism degree which has been more beneficial than you might think — especially in today’s world where there seems to be an overabundance of communication. My skills there help me digest and sort through what’s relevant and what’s not. The “unorthodox” part you are referring to is my minor which is in fisheries and wildlife. The back story there is that while I was at Oregon State, they required a technical minor. I had so many credits from different technical fields, including archaeology, zoology and many others — even computer science.  Finally,  I decided to pick a minor by counting the area where I already had the most credits because I could not decide.

[AS] Daina, you worked with Vyomesh Joshi (VJ) of HP while he was running the print division. Tell me a little about that relationships and what you learned from VJ.
[DM] I was running advertising while VJ was running Imaging and Printing. We were experimenting in measuring everything in marketing — these were the early days when analytics were more of a promise than a reality and pushing the envelope with partners, particularly Google who would produce a 200+ page report including data and insights every week. VJ was really fascinated with the idea of measuring marketing and I think he read every page every week.  I learned this because after I forwarded the report on to him he would give me a call and ask me a question from one of the charts.  I never knew exactly when the call was coming. After a few calls, I decided that I had better do my homework and understand the story behind the numbers, along with the business impact in order to be fully prepared when the phone rang.

What I didn’t know at the time was that VJ’s expectations and passion for data was setting me up for my  job running the largest performance marketing company in the world: Performics. My interactions with VJ were instrumental in insuring that I was immersed in all facets of the data and performance. To that end, I still passionate about data.  Mapping everything marketing does to direct business impact is just common sense.

As I said, we were working really closely with  Google at the time to break new ground in marketing analytics. VJ was on Yahoo!’s board of directors at the time and was so impressed with what we were doing with Google that he insisted I come along with him to one of the Yahoo! board meetings to explain to them how they were falling short.

[AS] Like a few of our other speakers, you’ve written a book. Tell us a little about, Marketing in the Participation Age, and what some of the key themes are.
[DM] Yes, I did write Marketing in the Participation Age back in 2012. It was a great experience. There are three parts to the thesis:

  • Traditionally we were all trained that marketing is about persuasion.  Today, persuasion is no longer enough.  Marketers need to understand participation.  Every customer has a computer in his or her pockets.  And the goal of marketing is to get that customer to take some form of action on your behalf.  We are all measured on these actions.   And actions are the manifestation of participation.
  • There is a science behind participation. It hasn’t been applied to marketing before now because there was no reason to do so. The science is based on intrinsic motivation or self-determination theory which has been applied to education and HR but hadn’t been applied to marketing, until now.
  • The last chapter of the book focuses on the idea that more fundamental changes within a company are required for success today.  Historically, all marketing metaphors have been based on war.  If we want our customers to participate, then I think gardening is a better metaphor, and if a company can adopt “nurturist” values they will have success in the Participation Age.

[AS] How are you using your philosophy to help evolve the way that twitter as a platform is experienced for businesses/your customers?
[DM] Numbers help us make decisions today and better prepare me/us for tomorrow. How do we prepare for tomorrow?

  • Explaining how and why Twitter is so much bigger than just a platform.
  • Knowing your customer, and using data in smart ways to REALLY know them and invite them to participate.

chuckAs I mentioned in our set up post for our PreCommerce thought leader series, we will be interviewing several of our speakers in advance of our events the week of March 9. Third up is Chuck Hemann, head of analytics at tech giant, Intel. For more information about our events during SXSW, go here.

Over the last 10 years, Chuck has provided strategic counsel to clients on a variety of topics including digital analytics, measurement, online reputation, social media, investor relations and crisis communications. Prior to joining Intel, he was Executive Director, Analytics at Golin where I was responsible for leading digital analytics across the agency. Before Golin he was Group Director, Analytics for W2O Group where he was responsible for leading teams in New York and London, in addition to key client relationships with P&G and Verizon.

Now onto the interview:

[Aaron Strout] How did you end up in the field of analytics?
[Chuck Hemann] Probably like a lot of people in the field of analytics I ended up in it sort of by accident. My undergraduate and graduate work is all in political science, and during graduate school I did do some of that work both in DC and at home (Cleveland Rocks!). If you love the study of human behavior, you would love to witness the political environment every day. What I realized, though, is that profession had a limited shelf life for me. Twenty hours a day for weeks on end didn’t sound like much of an existence. When I moved back home I sent my resumes to a bunch of communications firms thinking there were some natural parallels between the political world and communications. During that process Dix & Eaton brought me in for an interview and said they were looking for a research assistant for their media research team and, because I needed a job, I took the opportunity. Two years later is when the social media listening boom hit and the rest as they say is history…

[AS] I’ve heard you’ve written a book. Tell us about that? Anything you would go back and change if you could?
[CH] It is true. I have written a book. Ken Burbary and I set out on the journey to give marketers an analytics book that they would feel comfortable reading. To that point most of the analytics books on the market were written for people like us and while they were valuable, they weren’t terribly useful for the marketer who wont be diving into Google Analytis and doing deep web analytics anytime soon. It’s a great question on whether or not there is anything we would go back and change. If I had to answer I would say there is probably two things in particular: 1. We had to talk about tools but discussing digital analytics tools in this sort of environment is a crapshoot. Most of the tools we talked about are still around but in varying degrees of stability; 2. I wish we would’ve talked more about digital media measurement. We do have a few chapters on it, but I think we could write a whole book on that subject – how to develop the framework, how often to measure, what should you measure, how should those insights be applied, etc… (No, before you ask, we’re not contemplating a book on this. My authoring days are over).

[AS] Your talk at PreCommerce is going to focus on going global and some of the challenges associated. Can you share some pre-session thoughts?
[CH] One of the big challenges that my boss gave to me was help drive the idea of being a data driven organization. Intel (like a lot of brands) has more data than we could ever reasonably use, but what we needed to start doing is figuring out how we got insights into the hands of people executing media programs on our behalf. And oh, by the way, do it across digital media, paid social, organic social, SEM, SEO and Intel.com. That’s not a small job in and of itself, but it was made even bigger when she said, “everything we do needs to scale to our geographies.” Crap. How do we go about tackling that problem? During the session I’m going to talk a little bit about that problem, a little about how we’re thinking about it, a little about what we’ve already done and a little about the challenges we still face. I wish I could talk more about these things, but I only have 10 minutes.

[AS] What are your thoughts on the rising importance of Storytizing (using the art of storytelling via paid, earned and shared channels)?
[CH] I’m not sure I would use the word “rising” because I think Storytizing is already here to stay. If you cannot tell your brand’s story across paid, earned and shared channels then your digital story falls flat. Integration in particular isn’t a “nice to have” anymore. It’s mandatory.

[AS] If you attended SXSW last year, what was your biggest takeaway?
[CH] I did attend SXSW last year and I think the biggest takeaway for me is similar to what many said following the event which was it feels like it’s getting more intimate. Events like PreCommerce are sprouting up all over the place, and I for one am not planning to spend much time at any big parties. I’d rather the networking be more focused.

[AS] What is a trend that you expect (or hope) to see talked about most at SXSW this year and why?
[CH] I would love to see the trend above continue as it makes for a much better event experience. To be honest, I’ve not been keeping up with the buzz around SXSW leading up to it (I’ve been busy scaling globally) so it’s a little difficult to answer… My guess though is we’ll see as much if not more chatter around the proliferation of mobile and the (seeming) retreat on the rapid expansion of catch all social platforms. There are new social platforms popping up all of the time, but the ones that are popping up are very niche to fit a very particular use case.