I Have Seen The Enemy — And the Enemy Is Within
Companies are their own worst enemies. The amount of wheel-spinning that takes place to get an initiative in place or even started, only for the rug to be ripped out underneath due to “a new CMO coming in” (or an existing one going out), “a budget cut” or “a reorg,” translates into significant hours expended, and therefore has a very real price tag.
I think it’s important we recognize the tangible cost of dragging our feet, being stuck in holding patterns and/or ultimately having cold feet as a substantial cost of doing business.
The waste of time — and therefore money — is mission critical, especially when dealing in a complex, dynamic and turbulent marketplace, with — let’s face it — extremely scarce resource (and by scarce resources, I’m talking about talent and time). While we all complain about budget cuts, in reality we are swimming in obscene excessive amounts of money that go into the temporal renting of multitasking eyeballs (yes, I’m talking about YOU, 30-second spot).
As a writer and speaker, I get to clench my fist and shake it disapprovingly at you a lot. You agree with me and yet you do nothing about it.
As a consultant and “agency” guy, I get to feel the short stick by being on the receiving end of your constant “reorgs” and additional approvals and reviews.
But honestly, don’t worry about me — this is about you. I’m really worried about you.
Did you ever stop and think that all this time lost is actually hurting the current and future state of your business? In other words, hastening the next reorg and restructure? Your inability to get anything done that is different, original, unique and/or innovative is without question putting your own continuity and value INTO question.
Seriously, consider the ROI of not doing anything. It’s a Return on Inertia that is ironically very measurable both as an opportunity cost (past/hours) and opportunity lost (future/execution).
Instead, consider the analogy of waiting in a very long line. You’ve stood for an hour and you’re strongly considering calling it quits and walking away. Only, you’ve already spent an hour and who knows, the wait might only be another 30 minutes or so. And then before you know it, it’s 90 minutes or 2 hours. Now you DEFINITELY can’t walk away, because you’ve invested 2 hours, which is much more than the hour. And then it’s three hours — and so on.
Why not apply the same logic to your projects? Stay the course!. Consider all the hours and legwork that got you this far and use that as the incentive to keep going.
And if all else fails, consider this: “If you’re not adding to your legacy, you’re adding to your eulogy.”
You can quote me on that if you like.
Stop us if this doesn’t sound familiar. The holidays are fast approaching, gifting season is upon you, and the hours to find perfect presents are running out. But with every store you visit, you feel more out of your element. Your guesses at what your loved ones want are vague, at best — and for some reason, you just don’t believe the sales lady when she tells you that this perfume would be perfect for your dad.
Never fear — Jifiti is here. Jifiti is a handy gifting app that takes the guessing out of giving, right down to size, color & style. Essentially, shoppers can select gifts in-store, online, or thumbing through the app — and ‘teleport’ these products to their friends instantly as digitally transmitted gift cards. If the gift is a hit, friends may use the digital card to redeem the item in-store and select the appropriate size, color and style. But if it’s a miss, they can use the gift card to purchase something else, hassle free.
As the holidays approach, we’d rather be spending time with family than pounding the retail pavement. So thank you, Jifiti, for letting us sit back, relax, and enjoy another eggnog.
Follow them: @jifitigifts
Back to the Future
Last week I had not one but two experiences with social-media-related customer service: the first with @attCustomerCare, @TMobileHelp and @Verizon, and the second with @AetnaHelp. In both cases, it was incredible to experience firsthand how times have changed and feel the impact of consumer empowerment and control.
However, I want to focus on the latter example with Aetna, my health care provider.
It all began when I commented on a friend’s Facebook post that ultimately devolved into a thread about healthcare reform and Obamacare. A commenter asked me if I had found out what was happening to my plan, and I replied by saying I would find out.
So I called the Aetna 800 number on my monthly statement and was told that my call was important to them, but due to unusually high call volume, it would be answered in around 30 minutes. I turned to Facebook, posting the following:
Can we just level set that “if my call was important to you,” the “estimated wait time” would be less than 30 minutes #aetna#bobamacare
What transpired after that was kind of interesting.For the sake of brevity, I will list the series of events in bullet form:
- I get a response from someone at Aetna offering to help, directing me to the company’s official Twitter handle.
- I exchange tweets with @AetnaHelp on Twitter, and they ask me to send them a Direct Message (DM), which requires me to follow them first.
- They follow me. I follow them.
- The DM instructs me to send an email with further particulars of my account.
- The email involves providing my telephone number.
- Aetna calls me back on my cell phone and lets me know that this request has been escalated up the Aetna flagpole.
That was Friday, Nov. 22. Today is Monday the 25th and I still don’t have a response from Aetna. As I wrote in Flip the Funnel, customer service doesn’t stop at 5p.m. on a Friday, although I suspect Aetna Member Services goes home at 5p.m. on a Friday!
To recap: I went from (1) phone to (2) Facebook to (3) Twitter to (4) email, back to (5) phone! The irony of coming full circle was inescapable. Imagine all the time spent, system processed and human hours expended that would have been avoided if they had just picked up the telephone in the first place.
As Beancast host Bob Knorpp said on his podcast (I’m paraphrasing less eloquently): social media customer service just exists because the offline systems are broken.
To that end, let’s cut Aetna some slack. It’s knee deep in Affordable Health Care Act tumult right now. So why not just admit it? Why not change the IVR message to read something to the effect of, “As you most likely are aware, things are a little crazy in healthcare right now, especially with the official website not firing on all cylinders and many customers not sure about the status of keeping their plans. We’re doing everything in our power to respond as quickly as we can, but are struggling to keep up with call volume. Please be patient and bear with us, although if you require quicker resolution, give our @AetnaHelp on Twitter a bash. They’re not as busy as we are!”
What a great opportunity missed, using their owned asset (the “O” in Z.E.R.O.): the telephone. Which brings me to the final word: Aetna’s social media response was for the most part awesome. The reason for my call was both out of its control and pretty widespread, but all of this could have been avoided if its reps had just picked up the damn phone a little quicker.
'Tis the season for celebration — and nobody knows quite how to get in the holiday spirit like AD Club. On December 4th, shake off the hectic, end-of-year stress and enjoy their wintery festivities! Limited tickets available, so grab them quickly!
Looking forward to seeing you there.
It’s here: Holiday Season. A chaotic blend of laughter, gift shopping, family traditions. A time of warmth, joy, and goodwill. But when it comes to weight, what was the most wonderful time of the year becomes doomsday. The pounds increase, looming over your head like a dense black cloud…you’re taunted with licorice and gumdrops. Pumpkin spice lattes, candied sweet potatoes. Latkes, and rugulah. Pecan pie and cakes. Sugar and gingerbread cookies. Peppermint bark and candy canes. Hot chocolate and copious amounts of alcohol. They all turn the scale into your own personal Grinch. But, before you send yourself into a state of heightened anxiety and spend endless hours at the gym for penance let us introduce to you to the holiday (and frankly everyday) Savior…Sworkit. We’ve been appsessed a long time now, but we figured we’d give a little gift to all you techies out there who are searching for how to stay fit this holiday season.
Why ‘We’re Not Social’ Is The Kiss Of Death
I spent the greater part of last week in Silicon Valley and surrounding areas with about 50 brand managers. We visited with a selection of startups, accelerators, incubators and the usual suspects of social media movers and shakers.
Without mentioning names, on one visit with one of the big three in the social space (rightly or wrongly, I’m deliberately not including Yahoo in this list), I was struck by their continual plea that they “weren’t social” and should instead be considered as essentially a mass reach play on a par (if not superior) to the legacy television, print and/or radio buy.
As an old timer in the digital space, I drew a straight line to the time when Yahoo essentially threw it away and declared its homepage as the new prime time and the equivalent of “Must-See Thursdays.” That’s when Yahoo hired a bunch of traditional executives from Hollywood and the broadcast networks and almost arrogantly demanded brands’ 30-second spots. It was also the beginning of the end for the “portal” at a time when it had social in the palm of its hands (Delicious and Flickr among two of the visible acquisitions at the time), but opted to shun a long-term play in favor of a short-term and short-sighted attempt at milking all those discretionary TV dollars.
Perhaps the problem is Wall Street. All three major “social” players are now public companies and thus beholden to the greedy and grubby paws of external vultures.
I have to believe (and I do) that there is a better way to activate and monetize this gift that is social beyond throwing in the towel in favor of “mass reach.” It didn’t work for digital. It’s not working for social. And it will never work for mobile. Why don’t we just accept it and move on? Mass reach itself is built on a faulty premise of potential, while digital had the distinction of being based on actualized (and measurable) interactions. Social, on the other hand, is really about an incredible aggregation of individuals versus one homogenous and indistinguishable (other than stereotyped, generalized and lazy demographics) blob.
The other selling point of mass media has always been the “water-cooler effect,” which today has glimpses of its former self in terms of TV-Twitter integration, but for the most part seems to have exploded into a million fragmented nuggets of content, ideas, videos and posts that make money for the likes of Buzzfeed that trade on this marketplace and ecosystem. I’m not sure there’s a one size fits all approach to this idea that scales beyond a few extremely powerful memes.
Rishad Tobaccowala would tell you that having a digital strategy is flawed, because everything is digital and therefore, one just needs to have a strategy. Period. I guess the same could be said for social. The difference would be that it is critical to define a role for social (my bias as per “Flip the Funnel” is that the real role of social is retention.)
Until that happens, our industry groundhogs will continue to find new ways to teach old dogs new tricks – AKA, flog mediocre traditional creative on inherently social channels. In doing so, they will — yet again — bastardize and pervert non-media platforms and relegate them to the ghost towns that are frequented by the likes of MSN, AOL and Yahoo.
Last night’s “ADTHINK 2013: What’s Trending in Tech and Advertising” was a huge success! Hosted by The Advertising Club of NY and Advertising Redbooks, the focus of this evening was a series of startup pitches from Citia, GoChime, URX, Shareablee, and Adventr (previously named The Ochre). Then, in a Q&A session moderated by Evol8tion CEO Joseph Jaffe, startups received questions/critiques from top industry executives David Berkowitz (CMO, MRY), Bob Greene (Co-Founder, Contour Venture Partners), Malena Higuera (SVP, Marketing, L’Oreal Paris), and Lee Nadler (Marketing Communications Manager, MINI). Check out our photos from the event, after the jump.
Last Wednesday, our own Account Strategy Director Lauren Brown attended Tech Madison Avenue 2013. Dedicated to the agencies, brands, and innovators that have forever changed the face of Madison Avenue, this event offered valuable takeaways for startups and brands alike — lessons that, thanks to Lauren, you won’t miss! Check out her great recap of the event on TALK NYC’s blog.
Be sure to follow TALK NYC on Twitter @talknyc.
The Evol8tion team spent the last two days at the Javits Center for the ad:tech New York event — and we were proud to see the eight innovative startups we coached take the stage for the Startup Spotlight Series. There could only be one winner for each all-star brand, however — and we are here to announce which two startups took home the gold!
Winning startup: Jana
Winning startup: Curalate
Yesterday, the Evol8tion team attended a special edition of the monthly NY Tech meetup. In order to establish a stronger connection between educational institutions & the tech world, the Meetup team hosted their 4th annual Dot Edu event, offering the Skirball stage to startups specifically designed for and/or by students. Presenters ranged from experienced academic pioneers to students as young as 17 – and as always, we’ve recapped a few of our favorites from the night. Be sure to follow us on Twitter @evol8tion to get our live tweets from all the events we attend!