Agency Leaders Take Note: Should Have Been On This Years Ago

Great quote from the VP of Lyft Marketing on their relationship with W&K. If you lead an ad agency and you haven’t been focused on the digital experience, you’ve missed the boat. Great marketers look to their “creative” partners to help guide the total experience, not just the ads/messaging. Or, to put it another way: The experience IS the message.

She describes W+K’s “world-class creative” as “table stakes,” adding, “I need a strategic partner who is embedded in our business every day, helping us with product decisions and helping us with the way we design our service experience—not just making ads.”

via Inside Wieden + Kennedy’s Evolution Into the Go-to Agency for the New Economy – Adweek

I’m Kind of Surprised it Took AMZN This Long

The background to this patent is informative as it helps explain how far reaching Amazon’s thinking could be, and how they plan to keep lowering prices for consumers. One major difference between e-commerce and in-store purchasing is that loss-leading—selling goods cheaper than what they cost—doesn’t work in e-commerce. When customers visit a physical store, they have invested their time to get there so stocking up on additional items is worth it. This doesn’t happen online. So this patent levels the playing field, allowing sellers to offer discounts to online customers based on their investment in time.

via Amazon may have patented the next big thing in online shopping — Quartz

Why I’m Starting My Own Company

Every entrepreneur who starts their own venture better have a clear idea of why they’re doing it. With a clear “why”, it will be easier to navigate when the inevitable obstacles pile up.  If for no other reason than to get my own thoughts straight, here goes:

I’ve got Some Personal Motivation

I’m a small business guy by birth – I grew up the son of a second generation entrepreneur. My grandfather took a huge risk in 1916 and started a car business. He never made it to college, but i benefitted because he had the right combination of courage, vision, perseverance and a super supportive wife. He sent his two boys (my dad and uncle) to college, gave a ton back to his church and community, and sold the boys a successful business. They managed it well and grew it so that their combined 11 kids could go to college and grad school. I can’t count how many of their employees sent their own kids to college, or bought their first homes or a cottage on a lake or were able to retire because they were paid well by dad’s small business. It’s in the hundreds. So, i’m a believer in main street. I think the world needs more successful small businesses. We probably have enough Facebooks, Googles, and Twitters.

I want to build a great culture – I was having coffee with Amol Dixit, the brains behind Hot Indian Foods and he told me that his goal wasn’t to get into the restaurant business. His goal was to build a great company and a great brand, first. The restaurant business was just the fastest way in. When he wakes up in the morning, he’s thinking about how to keep the business growing so the people that work there can get where they’re trying to go, professionally. I hope that, in my small way, the little company i create can be a place where others can get their start on a new career or at least a new phase in their career.

Create More, Consume Less – I try, everyday, to focus on creating. Whether it’s words on a page, music, or even a dumb sketch, it’s critical to me to put something good out into the world to balance out all the consumption i’m doing. Business is the medium where i think i can be the most creative (should have practiced my guitar more) and this is a time where creativity in business will be rewarded. I hope when i’m done working someday, i’ll be able to look back and feel proud of what we all created together at my little company.

Put it into Practice – I’ve been blessed to have worked with some amazing leaders. Whether it was learning how to manage through rapid change at Ameriprise, or learning how to build excellent brands at General Mills, or how to build an amazing professional services business like Ciceron or GoKart, i’ve been around inspirational folks my whole career. I owe it to those leaders to try to do something special. I want to see if i can put it into practice.

It’s time – I started out as a small business guy, but then found my way – through luck and being in the right place at the right time with the right knowledge –  into corporate America. My whole rationale for going corporate was to learn enough to sell some digital marketing into big companies. My longterm plan was to go start my own business; i just needed a little corporate experience first. As i look ahead and make my plan for the next 10 years, this is the best way to get where i want to end up.

Why this Particular Business?

We’re starting a company that will make it easier for companies to find the talent they need to innovate and change. It’s a professional services business, but not an agency. We’re going to have a pool of talented consultants who can provide interim leadership and support for your most strategic digital initiatives. They’ll have experience at the senior levels inside big corporations and agencies and could step into your VP and Director level roles.  I’ll save the particulars for another post, but the general reasons for this business are going to be pretty familiar:

  • The market size is huge
  • There’s a gap in the marketplace
  • There is long term opportunity
  • I’ve got a unique way to help address some market needs

More on that later…

But, beyond the financial and business rationale, there’s a deeper reason. The transformational change that most companies are pursuing will come about through hard work and courageous leadership. That change will be driven by technology, but it will ultimately be a cultural change, where the company vision, mission, values, incentives, ways of work, tools, leadership behaviors, communications and customer experience will all be challenged.

It’s going to come down to great leadership.  It’s going to take vision, courage, resilience and persistence. And – we think –  partners that work like we do.

The Middle is Where the Change Gets Real –  This kind of change will have to be supported at the “top of the house”, the C-Level folks. And, the execution has to happen everywhere, from the entry level folks on up. But, the leaders in the middle – the Directors, the VP’s – are where the real change happens. Or, I should say, where the change gets real. Those people are in the tough spot of trying to influence up (to the C-Level), across (to their peers) and around, to their teams, their vendors, their functional partners. They’ve got to bend and dismantle the old ways of working to create the space for the new ways.

While we will probably be hired by “senior management”, we think we can make the most impact by helping to lead from the middle. So, we are building this organization to to help at the Director and VP level, the ones who have to make the change actually happen. The ones taking the risks to innovate where their peers are playing the game, the ones who are trying to create something new or pioneer new techniques instead of following the path laid out by their boss.

This might be one of the best times in American history to start a new business. It’s also the best time for existing business reinvent themselves. And, it’s an amazingly interesting time to be a business leader. If we work our plan and this business evolves the way we want it to, we’ll be doing our little part to help those great companies – and the leaders inside – reinvest in their futures and reinvent themselves.

 

Should There be A Debate on Fixing Net Neutrality?

At this point, i’m not a fan of Ajit Pai and I believe his focus on “fixing” the net neutrality is probably not motivated by making the internet better for users. But, what *is* missing is a healthy debate about what, in fact, he’s trying to achieve through the regulatory changes he’s driving. This is a long take by Ben Thompson, but it’s worth a read if you want a challenge to your reflexive take on “keep the internet free”. 

Basic Attention Tokens

This is a really positive step forward

The Brave browser provides an ad-free YouTube video experience. It also enables a direct monetary relationship between the content creator and their audience. Compensation for YouTube creators no longer needs to be based on vague rules or mercurial algorithms, as users can decide who to compensate. This new ability will especially benefit YouTube creators who have under 10,000 lifetime views, as they do not receive ad revenue from YouTube.

via Brave expands Basic Attention Token platform to YouTube | BasicAttentionToken

It’s Time to Make Goofy Apps Again

We’re about to enter another great era of digital creativity. When you look at the tools that are coming at us to make digital things – voice contral, AI, gestural interfaces, presence indicators, smart devices – it’s clear we’re going to have to rethink a lot of things. That means, unlocking creativity and imagination as we explore what the technology can do. My kids (who both are interested in technology) will have the same chance to sandbox with AI, voice interfaces, and other cool stuff like i did with HTML and visual basic.

I LOVE this post for it’s focus on play and creativity and it’s thoughtfulness in articulating how to pull together all the tech.

What an amazing time we’re in.

Another Publisher Backs Away from Ads

Spirited Media has decided to downplay site-direct ads in favor of events, consulting and other membership programs. I think this is smart, in the long run.

Part of the reason we needed that longer runway was that success in display advertising in early 2017 led us to plan for revenue goals we didn’t achieve. We had other challenges, too — we’ve never spent money on marketing, and relied on all-organic traffic, which left us subject to the whims of algorithms that determine how often our articles get seen. So our sales staff wasn’t given the best conditions to operate in, and, all things considered, did pretty well. But it became clear to us that chasing advertising dollars — which has never been our primary revenue source — wasn’t producing a very good ROI for us.

Its gotta be enormously difficult to compete against FB, Google, Amazon and some of the ad exchanges to get on media plans. But, in the long run, great brands are, essentially, community builders, especially media brands.

A Couple Resources for ID on Blockchain Apps

The more i’ve learned about blockchain-based apps, the more i’m curious how ID will be managed across apps, platforms, and technologies (e.g Etherium, Corda, etc. ). One of the key design decisions of blockchain approach is that ID doesn’t really matter. Anonymity was the design intent. But, as the concept gets applied beyond currency/assets, ID will have to get figured out. Worst case, we end up with a bunch of accounts across new centralized platforms (e.g. Coinbase et. al). But, i have to believe we’ll have a platform that will enable us to manage our various identities in one place , something like Civic but one that will enable me to manage my various  online identities:  a public, professional, private, friends, financial, creative, hobby, etc.

Here’s a list of  some places to start:

I’m sure there a tons more, let me know which i should look at.