Zdrastvooyte, FinTech marketers! Happy to say that this publication, despite its growing prominence on the world stage, remains free of interference from Russian hackers. So, we got that going for us, which is nice.

Here’s your weekly collection of interesting stories and events from the FinTech world, with an emphasis on marketing and business. development. Have your own FinTech story or a project? Share the love in the comments section below!

 

FinTechs are built on millennial dreams

Well, sure millennials have a different view of banking and financial services than previous generations. Having come of age with a front-row seat to the 2007-2008 financial meltdown, it is not surprising that many don’t trust banks and find their services outdated and inconvenient.

 

Now that Millennials and their purchasing power are coming to the fore, many financial institutions are making it a priority to understand their behavior. Millennials are more mobile, tech savvy and ready to interact with financial institutions in new ways.
mobile-devices-millennials_commonly_use_for_banking
In fact, many FinTech business models are staked on this premise. There are some good stats here, along with a more in-depth report for purchase from The Financial Brand.

 

Lots of Bots: Assets under management by robo advisers are estimated to increase 68% within five years

surfing-robot-thinkfaster-marketing-200That’s another $2.2 trillion under robo-advisement by 2021, according to a forecast from A.T. Kearney. The firm estimated that about half amount will come from assets already invested and the rest from non-invested assets. Human-based advisers are justifiably concerned, and looking for new ways to differentiate their services. Three promising possibilities: Non-painful investor education, more insightful investor communications and a more holistic approach to align portfolios with an individual’s personal goals and situation.

 

Alexa, how are my investments doing?

We humans are generating and processing more data than ever, faster than ever. Everyone knows Big Data is a big deal, but there’s also the growing gap between the data and insights. Chicago-based Narrative Science proposes to make data insights faster and more more friendly using automated reports.  The company leverages natural language generation (NLG) that can turn data from your analytics program or spreadsheet into narratives — or data stories. More in this Harvard Business Review article.

 

LinkedIn’s top voices in FinTech, 2016

There are tons of FinTech content published on LinkedIn. Some good, some bad, some shamelessly self-promoting. But here is a list of the 10 most-read influencers in finance and the global economy. The authors write articles that range from International finance to Fed policy and down to digital banking platforms and mobile payments. Good information for FinTech marketers who want to stay informed and those who want to see what it takes to be a big-time influencer on LinkedIn.

They are looking for the best fintech entrepreneurs, investors, thought-leaders and intrapreneurs to become an author of one of these crowd-sourced books.

 

FinTech Marketing pro becomes famous author (that’s you)

Contribute to The FINTECH Book Series – WealthTECH, InsurTECH, RegTECHIs becoming a published FinTech author on your 2017 to-do list? After the success of the FINTECH Book in 2016, FINTECH circle is now launching 3 new crowd-sourced books.

FINTECH Circle CEO  Susanne Chishti is seeking authors to contribute to:

  1. The WealthTECH Book
  2. The InsurTECH Book
  3. The RegTECH Book
Interested? Apply with your 300 word abstract by 31 January 2017. All books will be published by WILEY.

 

The language of FinTech, explained

For those who are trying to get their brains around the scope and impact of FinTech, the terminology can be tough. Here’s a quick list of Ten key FinTech terms for your perusal from BBVA. Soon you’ll be talking SaaS, platforms and APIs like a CDO (chief digital officer).

That’s it for this time. Speak your mind in the comments section below!

 

friday-fintech-header-400Friday FinTech Marketing Update – Black Friday 2016 Edition

Hey-o, FinTech and Financial Services marketers! Time to take a break from bargain-hunting for your weekly bundle of really interesting industry news and resources?

Find these posts FinTeresting? Please share with friends and colleagues. Got FinTech Marketing News of your own? Send it this way. Onward…

Investor funding and some of the more dramatic headlines trumpeting FinTech disruption may have slowed a bit, but there’s no stopping the the train.

Depending on your views, financial services may be evolving or undergoing a revolution, but the industry is never going back to the legacy technology and processes of the pre-digital economy.

How to cash in on FinTech without starting one in your garage

This post from NASDAQ, Fintech ETFs Head to Head: FINQ vs. FINX provides a couple ways for investors looking to get in on the action. Purefunds Solactive Fintech ETF FINQ FinTech Thematic ETF FINX are two funds that help investors diversify be enabling them to buy a selection of FinTech stocks without a lot of research. FINQ invests in companies like Square, Zillow and Envestnet while FINX favors First Data (6.20%), SS&C Technologies (5.86%) and Wirecard.

Rather roll your own? Of course there’s a FinTech for that. Motif enables investors to create a portfolio of up to 30 stocks using their own strategies. You can basically create your own mutual fund containing your favorite FinTech companies, or any other theme that appeals. Seems like a good way to go for investors who see value in both the startups and established players improved technology.

Did you miss last week’s post? Donald Trump says he’ll make America great again. What will he make of Fintech?

Market Reports for FinTech Marketers

A recent survey by Adobe featured this splashy headline:

Marketing has changed more in the past two years than in the past 50

While industry change might prove difficult to measure, there’s no doubt that digital business has touched nearly every aspect of sales, marketing and advertising.

What has not changed is the three things that leading marketers know better than their competitors – their customers, their products and their industry. Here are three FinTech trend reports to help marketers raise their industry IQs:

Pulse of FinTech Report

CBINsights and KPMG teamed up on this Pulse of FinTech Report on investment trends for Q3 2016. FinTech VC (venture capital) funding and deal activity have declined, but there was still more than $10 Billion worth of deals through Q3 of 2016. Goldman Sachs, Citi and Santander lead the big banks in FinTech investment.

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Blurred Lines: How FinTech is shaping financial services, by PwC

Despite a slowing trend, PwC estimates cumulative investment in FinTech globally could well exceed $150 billion the next 3-5 years.

Also some good stats on disruption, cost-cutting and services delivery improvements over traditional financial services. Bonus points: PwC also has some groovy interactive charts and graphics on their download page.

Cutting Through the FinTech Noise: Markers of Success, Imperatives For Banks by McKinsey & Company

This is not a new report, as evidenced by the chart titled “The level of VC investment in FinTech has recently accelerated.”

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But it has some good information, including something called “the Fintech Attackers: Six Markers of Success” that McKinsey & Company believes will distinguish FinTechs from traditional banks. Also included are “Six Digital Imperatives” which are digital capabilities banks should focus on to remain competitive.

That’s it for this week. Enjoy the leftovers.

Thoughts? Speak your mind in the comments.

Hey-o, FinTech Marketing people. Here’s your weekly bundle of really interesting industry news and resources.

Please, no thanks are necessary. But if you find this interesting, please share with friends and colleagues. Got FinTech Marketing News of your own? Send it this way. Onward…

What does a Trump victory mean for FinTech?

Everyone expected a new president, but lots of people were surprised when that turned out to be Donald J. Trump. He has promised to make America great again,  but what will Trump make of FinTech?

Naturally, there has been lots of speculation what this power shift might mean for business and FinTech in particular. Like the election itself, there is a range of opinions on how Trump’s victory may affect FinTech:  

  • Trump is no fan of the CFPB and has repeatedly said that he would do away with Dodd-Frank. But politicians say a lot of things on the campaign trail. In reality, the president does not make or repeal any laws, but he will have a good deal of influence on the Republican-led Congress. In turn, Congress will have its work cut out for them to create new financial policy that contains the industry’s bad actors without discouraging competition and growth for emerging business models.
  • The election has rekindled debate about the open Internet, or Net Neutrality. Traditionally,Democrats support net neutrality while many Republicans oppose it. Since FinTechs generally favor open source and collaborative development environments, many are concerned about recent developments. As in traditional financial services, some favor controls around large ISPs and cable companies controlling Internet access, while the right side of the aisle opposes more regulations. More at American Banker.
  • Many financial industry leaders are encouraged by the presence of former SEC Commissioner Paul Atkins on Trump’s team to help shape regulatory policy. Atkins is known as a champion of small businesses and encourages the SEC to take a step back and review current rules to ensure they are appropriate for emerging business models:

“This effort should include, among other things, a retrospective review of SEC rules to ensure that small companies operate under a regulatory regime that is understandable (without the help of expensive lawyers), up-to-date, and right-sized; improvements to the market structure for publicly-traded small and  mid-cap stocks, including measures to enhance market liquidity (for example, through the formation of venture exchanges) and eliminate one-size-fits-all disclosure rules and other regulatory requirements that disincentivize companies from going public.”

IMO the new administration’s biggest challenge may not be in figuring out which policies to keep and which to overturn, but how to regulate technology that didn’t even exist when regs like Dodd-Frank were conceived.

Things are different than when I originally published the less-than-serious Donald Trump’s Guide to Make Marketing Great Again.

The Donald Trump 700

I just want assure Mr. Trump that I was just joking around then. Today, I am totally with the program and open to any lucrative consulting engagements that may come up in the next four years.

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India takes steps toward a cashless economy

Last week, in an attempt to combat systemic tax evasion and corruption, Prime Minister Narendra Modi banned 500-rupee ($7.50) and 1,000-rupee notes, basically removing 80 percent India’s currency from its economy, according to the New York Times.

Not everyone is pleased, but players in that nation’s digital economy stand to be the biggest beneficiary of the strongest crackdown on corruption since 1978. Sridhar Obilisetty,

CEO at mobile FinTech platform mFino, described this development as a “humongous opportunity” for digital wallet providers and payment providers with the ability to do business in India.  

Marketing and machine learning – what’s the big deal?

Machine learning, a type of Artificial Intelligence, is a hot topic for FinTech Marketing. It provides the ability to gain deep insights, discover patterns, and create high performing predictive models from data, without explicit programming. Examples of FinTechs using machine learning include improving credit decisions, identifying high-value customers and simplifying financial transactions.

Here’s a great resource for marketers who have heard about the power of machine learning and want to understand more. This overview is a 5-part series on introductory machine learning by Alex Castrounis, a technologist who writes frequently on AI.

Thoughts? Speak your mind in the comments section below.

November 4 2016

Welcome,  FinTech marketing / Financial Services marketing peoples!

Have you ever thought that since there’s so much happening in our dynamic industry that it would be nice if someone would just curate some of the really interesting stuff and send the highlights out in a nice bundle of awesomeness?

We are happy to be of service. If you have some FinTech Marketing News of your own, please lets us know. On with the news:

How to accelerate the know > like > trust > transact cycle

In the business world, nothing drives headlines like like big earnings, a big deal or a big scandal.

Unfortunately for Wells Fargo, their storied brand is now in the throes of such a scandal, and the damage reaches past brand reputation into the megabank’s deep pockets. It’s sort of the opposite fo the tried-and-true know > like > trust > transact cycle. Full post with infographic

Brick and mortar banking?

That is so 2015. The banks of the future could be woven into our everyday lives with a Siri-like personal assistant called EVA, according to this KPMG Report. What they call the Invisible Bank will be enabled by the Internet of Things, advances in AI and cloud computing.

What will marketing look like if banking becomes invisible? Marketing messages will increasingly have to be baked into value-added messages and services that are delivered with along with user experiences. When banking services are delivered by a platform in the cloud, marketing could become all about delivering the right user experience at the right time via the right device, to an audience of one.

Consumers own their financial data and control access

Last fall, FinTech companies around the world snapped to attention when several large banks including  J.P. Morgan Chase & Co, Wells Fargo & Co. and Bank of America Corp temporarily stopped sharing customer financial data with third parties. Companies like Mint, Yodlee and Plaid, who depend on this data were bummed, and requested clarification.

This week, they got it from Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

“Let me state the matter as clearly as I can here: We believe consumers should be able to access this information and give their permission for third-party companies to access this information as well,” said Cordray at Money 20/20, one of the largest payments conferences in the nation. 

At the same conference, former Apple CEO John Sculley offered some futuristic advice for financial services
folks. The world of finance is living in “exponential” times, rather than “linear” ones, said Sculley.

FinTech Marketers – Trying to influence behavior change? Avoid these mistakes.

In many cases, FinTech marketers offering new and innovative services must overcome deeply ingrained consumer habits from traditional financial services. Stanford University’s Persuasive Tech lab offers rich resources to better understand behavior change, including this slideshare below outlining 10 key mistakes to avoid.

Major errors include focusing on abstract goals instead of specific behaviors, ignoring environmental influences and trying to stop old behaviors instead of forming new behaviors. More information at http://captology.stanford.edu/ – it’s a resource marketers will want to bookmark.

Got your own FinTech or Financial Services marketing updates? Send them this way!

In the business world, nothing drives headlines like like big earnings, a big deal or a big scandal. It’s sort of like running into a stop sign in the know > like > trust > transact cycle.

Unfortunately for Wells Fargo, their storied brand is now in the throes of such a scandal, and the damage reaches past brand reputation into the megabank’s deep pockets.

A survey by consulting firm cg42 showed negative perceptions of Wells have risen from 15% to 52%, while more than half of non-customers surveyed said they were unlikely to join the bank. The survey also estimated Wells may lose up to $99 billion in deposits and $4 billion in revenue.

That’s an expensive lesson in brand management.

It’s easy for marketers to get caught up in the differences between emerging business models and traditional financial institutions.

But for all the changes financial brands and their customers have seen recent years, this simple growth cycle remains the same.

kno-like-trust-transct-infographic

With monthly and quarterly acquisition goals, it’s easy to focus on the “know and like” at the top of the funnel. But without the foundation of trust, there’s no transaction. It’s not likely that Wells Fargo’s wounds are fatal, but certainly lack of trust can kill emerging FinTech and financial services business very quickly.

Brands are built and broken every day

There is a huge growth opportunity for brands, if they choose to accept the difficult mission: Don’t just talk about trust, customer-centricity and transparency. Reinforce those principles in every prospect and customer interaction, every day.

We recently published a post about how brands make and break trust with deposits and withdrawals. Building on that foundation, here are some ways brands can accelerate growth in the digital economy by building trust into every transaction, and avoid the withdrawals that break down their brands:

know-like-trust-110216-800

Have trust-building suggestions to add? Speak your mind in the comments below!

Damn…on hold again.

And what‘s this goofy on-hold music? It’s September of 2016, but I feel like I’m on a long elevator ride to the 1980s.  

I wanted to speak to a human. I had called Thursday morning to make an appointment with Dr. Ratti at Stanford Health Care. The staffer who answered the phone said “Do you mind holding?”

I did mind a little, but I said OK. After nearly 10 minutes, I hung up and called back. Again the operator asked, “Do you mind holding?”

I explained that I had already been on hold close to 10 minutes and thought they have forgotten about me, so I would rather just make an appointment with Dr. Ratti and not hold. That’s when she said it:

“And now, you’re back in the queue!”

Click. More hold music.

dont-like-being-on-hold-800

I could not have been more surprised if she shouted “No soup for you!” With the push of a button, she cast me back into an inferno of hold-music hell. Who knows how many tortured souls are in queue ahead of me?  

Screw the queue. I hung up.  

Thoughts on brand image

Some backstory: In April 2015, I got a cheery announcement from my local medical facility, ValleyCare. The company had agreed to a merger with Stanford Health Care. As a result, ValleyCare would  assume the Stanford Health Care brand.

Good move, I thought. Incredible brand equity in the Stanford name, plus the association with the innovative Stanford Medicine program. Besides, ValleyCare seemed to be struggling with operations and service issues.

I’m no branding expert, but I know that brands are defined by the actions they take each day, not logos, taglines or value propositions.

Our story continues

Returning to September 22, 2016: I called back Thursday afternoon and the person who answered was polite, and took my appointment for Friday at 8:45 a.m. I considered venting about the person who had cut me off that morning, but decided to move on.

Friday morning at 8:35, I show up at Dr. Ratti’s office. I don’t recognize anyone. I am confused. No one at the reception desk has heard of her. I walk outside and Google Dr. Ratti to find her Suite number, and in the search results, I see two Yelp reviews.

  • Review 1: Dr. Ratti is “a very cold, unfriendly, insensitive, uninformative doctor”
  • Review 2: Dr. Ratti is”easily the worst doctor I have ever visited”

My search results also reveal that her office has moved to the second floor. Would have been good to know that.

I check in at 8:45, make my co-payment and I am shown into a small, featureless room. I get the usual blood pressure check, temperature, and the doctor will be with you shortly.

Turns out my definition of “shortly” is different than the doctor’s office.  

There’s no Wi-Fi, so there’s no catching up with emails. No TV, no ESPN. I read a book until 9:15 and open the door. No one in sight. I am getting annoyed at the memory of being cast into the phone queue of despair the day before.

At 9:30, I walk to the reception desk and tell the staff that I have a 10 AM meeting and need to cancel my appointment. I ask that the co-payment be refunded to my Visa card.

The gentleman behind the desk looks surprised by this (but doesn’t apologize), and asks if I want to make another appointment. I say no, because I’m not coming back.

Soon I have a voicemail from Dr. Ratti explaining that she was sorry to miss me, but she was in a staff meeting. I like to imagine that this staff meeting was called by a pointy-haired boss to brainstorm ways to increase patient satisfaction.

dilbert-image-by-Scott-Adams

Customers own your brand image

Brand experts may debate whether this issue is about brand image or brand equity. To me, brand image seems more relevant because it is defined from a customer’s perspective. It’s not one thing, but the sum total of many individual brand perceptions.

“A positive brand image can be built up quickly in the mind of the customer through various touchpoints,” says John Seroka, a financial services brand strategist and consultant. “Today, that means coordination and consistency between web, mobile and brick-and-mortar touchpoints. Your blog and social media properties must provide answers and helpful resources, not just promotions. That’s the path to creating a well-respected brand, one customer at a time.”

Brand equity is related, but it’s often more from a management or investor perspective – how brand weakness or strength impacts an organization’s monetary value. Investopedia says that brand equity can be gained very quickly through a lesser-known company partnering with a larger and more visible entity.

Brand equity can also be lost very quickly if there is an ongoing pattern of bad user experiences. The concept is similar to what author Stephen Covey called the Emotional Bank Account.

Brand Image deposits and withdrawals

Covey taught that relationships interactions — business or personal — are analogous to a deposit or withdrawal. In business, too many negative user experiences in a short time can trash brand equity that’s taken years to build. 

In 2016, the customer journey has evolved into something much faster and more complex than just a few years ago. Customers are always connected, through an ever-increasing number of channels and devices.

As customers evolve so must the role of brand marketers — and all marketers.  Building and maintaining a posittive brand perception is a bigger challenge than ever before.

I’ll bet if you were to attend a fancy brand-building workshop at Stanford d.school, they might mention something about that.

Thoughts? Speak your mind in the comments below.

In 2016, most brands would agree that content is still King, and blogging remains an important part of any content strategy. Blogging can help build your brand, get your business get found online, connect with prospects and generate leads. What’s the content marketing echo chamber?

According to Hubspot, B2B marketers that blog receive 67% more leads than those that do not. But while blogging remains an effective growth strategy, mosts blog posts simply don’t make a dent in the universe.

most-blog-posts-dont

That means that nearly all major brands invest in blogging, but many can’t tie their blog activities to measurable results. Another troubling statistic — 60-70% of content produced by B2B marketing goes unused, according SiriusDecisions research. Here are five ways to avoid the echo chamber and content that converts:

The echo chamber

In the blogosphere, nothing succeeds like success. Marketers have found that a relatively safe way to cut the risk of publishing content that no one reads is to analyze what’s already trending and simply publish more of it. It’s easy to head over to BuzzSumo.com to identify popular blogging topics and what types of content is most shared on popular social networks

The issue is that whenever a new topic becomes popular, it’s invariably followed by a flood of similar posts by bloggers looking to cash in on the original post’s popularity. Many bloggers also attempt to take advantage of popular searches by connecting their posts to current events. Here are 7 Branding Lessons we can learn from (sporting event, awards show, celebrity arrest, etc)!

What’s missing from the echo chamber is value for your audience. Me-too marketing might help bloggers rack up some new views, shares and comments, but this content has a short shelf life and does nothing to position your brand’s thought leadership. Be bold with your next blog post, and take the road less traveled.

Me, my company, my products

Sadly, this is still a thing. Most marketers have made peace with the fact that people don’t care about you, your company or your products. They care about their own interests, challenges and problems that need solutions.

Yet, many companies still blog in painful detail about their expertise, exciting new products and industry-leading awesomeness.

The other issue with me-me-me marketing is that it employs corporate-speak instead of customer-speak. Marketing messages that don’t use the language of customers. There’s a great quote by Jeff Eisenberg, a founding father of conversion marketing:

thinkfaster-marketing

Speak to the dog, about what matters to the dog in the language of the dog.
Your audience may not be dogs, but if speak to them in your language instead of their own, you’ll quickly be tuned out.

Unresponsive design

Bad design = bounce.

A quick way to ensure your content goes unread in 2016 is to have it display poorly on mobile devices. And since more people each day access content from mobile phones and tablets than desktop devices, copy needs to be shorter and more concise than ever. Keep It Short and Simple (KISS), avoiding long paragraphs that make readers click away.

We have known since 1997 that web visitors don’t really read content as much as they scan it. For this reason, blog copy should be shorter, with important words highlighted and plenty of subheadings, visuals and bulleted lists to break up large blocks of copy.

Images that are bad for your image

Marketers know that content with images typically gets read and shared more often than purely text-based content. Many times, busy marketers write up their content, slap in a free stock photo and click Publish. While that’s not so terrible, it misses the opportunity of complementing and strengthening the message of your post.

Remember the adage that if you need to explain a joke, it’s not funny? Something similar happens if readers have to stop and wonder about the tie-in between your image and headline. The first image in your post is likely the first thing that many viewers will see as it’s shared across social media. You can help your audience by making sure your images are sized to display correctly and aren’t so large that they slow down page-load times. Take time to select an image that really complements your message. The world doesn’t need another image of smiling multi-ethnic millennials seated around a conference table.

Blog posts published daily

Fuzzy measurements

Of the millions of blog posts published today, how many move make measurable progress toward your business goals? It’s surprising how many brands publish blog posts that don’t support their stated goals. It’s important to know about page views, social shares, likes and content. These are sometimes dismissed as “vanity” metrics, but they provide useful information about your audience.

Along with these “micro-conversions” it’s essential to track more revenue-aligned conversion marketing events:

Every post is a learning opportunity

It’s important to focus on offering valuable information that answers your audience’s questions and addresses their issues. That’s how you help them through the Know > Like > Trust journey towards a Transaction.

But it’s equally important to have a process that to help you learn more about your audience with each post. Each post is an experiment — a unique opportunity to learn more about what’s important to your audience, and what type of content causes them to engage, share and comment.

Blogging advice is never in short supply on the Web, but remember that published best practices are best for someone else. Content marketing is highly contextual and what works somewhere else may not work for you. It’s up to you then, to have a process that ensures you have goals for each post, and carefully examine what worked and what didn’t.

Don’t stop pushing until you have a measurement strategy that helps you continually improve your content and quantify the business value of your blog. A lot of work, but it’s the only way to ensure your blog makes a dent in the universe.

Thoughts on avoiding the content marketing echo chamber leave a comment!

Whether you’re a Big fan or a Big skeptic, there’s no avoiding Big Data.

Some of the buzz has subsided, but Big Data is growing faster than ever, in volume, challenges and unprecedented opportunities. It’s estimated that 90% of the world’s data was created in the last two years, and that amount will double in the next two years.

If  you prefer the view from the bottom line, check out worldwide spending growth on Big Data and business analytics — $122 billion in 2015 to $187 billion in 2019, according to International Data Corporation.

Big data infographic 800

Yet, with this explosion of investment, not everyone is seeing the benefits of Big Data.

A key issue is that the amount of data is growing much faster than our ability to process it. While top-performing organizations are able to collect, organize and analyze data for insights and competitive advantage, others continue to struggle under Big Data’s crushing weight.

What’s the difference?

For many companies, the difference is in the DNA. Many of today’s most admired companies, like Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook and Uber are “digital natives’ that never had to transition away from legacy technology and business models. Things are tougher for traditional companies struggling with digital transformation and smaller organizations without the resources to deal with Big Data.

Another challenge — not only is Data Big, it’s unorganized.  Experts estimate that 80 to 90 percent of existing data is unstructured. Your internal unstructured data comes from internal systems including CRM, financials, company email and and countless spreadsheets. External data includes customer emails, text messaging, social media, and data from the Internet of Things. 

Challenging, but there are lessons to be learned from organizations who have made Big Data a big success.

5 data points thinkfaster5 tips to help make Big Data a big success:

1. Establish budget and buy-in

Without executive approval and funding, there’s no such thing as a data-driven organization. You could have the world’s greatest data scientists performing amazing feats of analysis, but their insights won’t see the light of day without executive sponsorship. With top-down sponsorship, organizations are more likely enjoy the financial benefits of a company-wide data strategy. But Big Data leadership doesn’t come cheap. Staffing, training and maintaining modern data analysis tools is a hefty ongoing expense that must be approved and accounted for.  

Surprisingly, many organizations successfully clear the budgeting hurdle and implement analytics programs, then largely ignore the reports. This despite strong evidence that data strategy is a key factor for today’s high-performing companies. Even high-performing companies make subjective, rather than data-informed decisions, from time to time. A robust analytics program requires leadership not only to promote a data culture, but to use data for their own decision support. 

2. Adopt an agile approach

What happens when Big Data initiatives are paired with traditional project management?

A whole lot of nothin’.

Traditionally managed projects typically have long, rigidly defined development periods with less frequent team communications. An agile approach that employs shorter, more frequent work periods (sprints) that facilitate ongoing testing and improvement. Agile methodologies enable data-driven teams to make constant improvements and course-corrections throughout the development process to avoid ending up with a product that’s gone off track before it’s even launched. Bottom line? A culture of testing, optimization and improvement depends on an agile approach. It’s practically impossible to have one without the other.

3. Data centralization

As data volumes growing exponentially, the data sources contributing to that volume continue to multiply.

This rich diversity of data sources makes it difficult to collect data into a single “source of truth.” Any database designer will tell you that that redundant data from multiple sources can ruin management and reporting capabilities in a hurry.

Still,data from a company’s internal systems (CRM, HR, Financials) must be combined with third-party data to add valuable context and guide better business decisions. How much better? Investments in analytics tools are now paying back better than a 13-to-1 return on investment  with increased returns when these tools integrate with three or more data sources, according to O’Reilly Media. Data centralization may be difficult and expensive, but it appear that the resources invested are justified by huge potential returns.  

4. Data strategy and measurement model

For every popular tech phenomenon, there’s a stodgy underlying framework that doesn’t get much love and attention. It’s a shame, because there’s really no point in having data without data a strategy. A great example of a great framework is Avinash Kaushik’s Digital Marketing & Measurement model. This model is often used to implement Google Analytics, a super-powerful and free application that’s used by 29,616,540 live websites, according to Builtwith.com. How many of those websites support their implementation with a data strategy and use analytic rigor to improve business results? Far fewer.

Analytics measurement model 800

The reason this model has likely been so successful is that encourages a top-down approach that syncs sales and marketing with the organization’s most important goals. Models such as this can be used to encourage cross-departmental efforts to measure and improve marketing, sales, and customer success initiatives in an objective way.

The model with documenting high-level business objectives, then putting goals and Key Performance Indicators in place to support each goal. Target goals are then agreed upon and documented to ensure a clear definition of success or failure. This is followed by identifying key audience segments, because aggregated data isn’t actionable. The model comes with the admonition that “We not only wanted focus, we wanted hyper-focus” to ensure we understand our success or failure.

5. A story of data storytelling

Once upon a time, in the Valley of Silicon, there lived  a small team of data analysts. The team was happy, as they had largely achieved their goals of gathering data and reporting key analytics to senior management. They reported meaningful metrics such as conversion rates, customer acquisition costs and retention.

But nobody read their reports.

Nearly everyone in the company received weekly analytics reports and they liked the colorful tables and charts. But, using a magical tracking link, the analytics team learned that few people actually viewed their reports.

And so the team realized their job did not end with reporting — they also had to make sure that their management and peers understood the benefits of being data-driven. So, they removed detail and presented executives with streamlined, high-level reports. They pointed out significant differences from past results and progress toward future goals. They highlighted key findings and potential causes they deemed important for decision support. 

As the executives came to understand the insights contained in the reports, they made better decisions, which led to more revenue. The data analysts were awarded large bonuses and they all bought new hoodies, Apple Watches and expensive German sports cars. They all lived happily until the next reporting period.

The end.

Have your own data story to tell? Share it in the comments!

Sales and marketing alignment at the organizational level is very powerful — and very difficult 

For one reason or another, sales and marketing groups have a long history of non-cooperation or even outright hostility. And as the sales and marketing landscape accelerates, expands and becomes more digitized by the day, alignment becomes more important than ever.

Incorporating shared systems, goals and compensation can pay huge dividends. Even small steps such as sales and marketing agreeing to the definition of a qualified lead can go a long way toward improving the performance of organizations suffering from organizational silos.

Customer success dinosaur - sales and marketing alignment

The Pedowitz group calls
marketing synergy with sales the #1 predictor of revenue marketing success. Research by Marketo and Reachforce found that businesses who focus on sales and marketing alignment are 67% better at closing deals than those who don’t. Successful acquisition, CRM and lead nurturing programs are impossible without sales and marketing alignment.  

And as the customer journey becomes more personalized to individual messaging, channel and device preferences, it makes sense that better-aligned organizations will be able to provide more relevant customer experiences.  

Does sales and marketing alignment work?

As is the nature of the blogosphere, it’s likely that the the first-ever post extolling the virtues of sales and marketing alignment was followed quickly by a post announcing its demise. Some prefer the term “synergy” to “alignment.” Blogger Dave Jackson of Callidus Cloud says sales and marketing alignment is the wrong goal, calling it more representative of an old-school sales pipeline approach.

Like all best practices, the concept of sales and marketing alignment holds great potential, but it is only a starting point. There’s a big difference between someone else’s best practice what works for you. And as the sales / marketing world spins faster, best practices have a shorter shelf lives than ever.

Three sides to every story

The real issue is that when salespeople and marketers get together to talk about goals, they usually talk about their own goals — funnels, pipelines, pitches and president’s club. There’s less focus on customers are doing, and helping them achieve their own goals.

Sales and marketing alignment venn diagram

Not that the world needs another venn diagram, but it could be helpful extend the discussion beyond sales and marketing to include customer goals. How well does your organization know:

  1. What you want customers to do: Marketers and salespeople typically spend most of their time in this sphere. Laggards don’t even agree on what they want customers to do. Leading organizations agree upon this point and and consistently monitor it against documented goals and objectives.
  2. What customers are doing: If you could somehow survey Earth’s entire marketing population, you might find 100 percent agreement in favor of learning more about the way their audience thinks and acts. Marketers are pouring money into analytics to learn exactly what customers are doing. But too often, marketers don’t have a firm grip on how customers interact with their organizations (not just their products) across different channels and devices.
  3. What customers want to do: Knowing prospect’s age, location or gender is good information, but a poor predictor of customer intent. One reason this is so difficult is because it involves both quantitative and qualitative measurement efforts. In addition to watching what customers do on your website, you also must ask them about the goals they are trying to accomplish.

Bottom line? Customer success is your success.

Customer success guru Lincoln Murphy sums it up in just a tweet:

You can focus on adoption, retention, expansion, or advocacy; or you can focus on the customer’s Desired Outcome and get all of those things. 

In the digital age, organizations truly are drowning in data and thirsting for knowledge. Thousands of digital touchpoints and transactions each day throw off millions of data points. It can be difficult to find and focus on what’s important. But focusing on customer success is a good starting point for improving alignment between all organizational units, not just sales and marketing.

While more traditional organizations struggle to agree on what they want customers to do, data-driven, agile organizations are focusing on what customers are doing and how they can help them achieve their goals.

Any attempt to meet sales / marketing goals without helping customers achieve their own goals eventually fails.

There will always a balancing act between your organization’s goals and customer goals. But marketers that don’t acknowledge that customer success drive their own success are dinosaurs waiting for a meteorite.

Fill out the form down there to join the ThinkFaster Marketing email list,  or speak your mind in the comments below. 

 

The Donald Trump 700

Donald Trump here.* As the leading Presidential Candidate with the best hair and hottest wife, I’m often asked by non-billionaires how I got to be so successful. 

It may be because I’m a master of marketing and social media. Lots of people talk about brand strategy, but It’s one thing to talk about your brand and it’s another to have it in 20-foot tall stainless steel letters that can be seen for miles.

So, yeah, I’m frequently referred to as a tremendous marketer, and even Marketer-in-Chief, by various talking heads and hacks. So of course people look to me for marketing advice. Until recently, most of my time was spent crushing my political opponents, but you saw what happened there. So I’ve got a few minutes to share my marketing insights.  

Now, people say I have a lot of power. They tell me, they say to me, all the time, that I have the most power. But let’s talk about real power in social media. I feel a lot of people listen to what I have to say. I mean, I’m pushing 7 million Twitter followers.

You know how many people I follow on Twitter?

36.  

And let me be honest,  I’m thinking of dumping some of them because their Tweets are just not up to my standards. There’s a reason I’m so huge on Twitter. No one can call out a bunch of sleazy, incompetent, sad losers in less than 140 characters like Donald Trump. I mean, I am so successful on Twitter, I’m thinking we should change the name to “Trumper.” Trumper. Someone write that down!

Here’s my best advice on how to make marketing great again:

Be consistent.

When I speak, people pay attention because they know what to expect: Brilliant political thinking, maybe some observations on who’s dumb, who’s dishonest, who is a fat pig. But you take a guy like Marco Rubio. Huge failure. For months he’s just another all-talk, no-action politician on the campaign trail and then all of a sudden he’s out there trying to play the insult game. Making comments about my hands and cracking dick jokes like he’s Robin Williams. Let me tell, the guy is no Robin Williams. Rubio’s attempts at comedy were so pitiful, his mother decided to support Lyin’ Ted Cruz.

Escape the echo chamber.

Lots of politicians want to break out of the pack, but they all say the same things in the same boring way. It’s embarrassing, really. I’m embarrassed for these bozos. Unfortunately, lots of marketing today is just a copy of other people’s content and campaigns. As soon as someone like me, Donald Trump, catches fire in the media and starts trending, lots of lazy, low-energy bloggers notice and try to copy what’s popular. My suggestion is, don’t just parrot what works. Add some original perspective. Don’t mince words. Be who you are all the time. Even if doesn’t work at first, it still provides a better chance to distinguish yourself than just repackaging other people’s ideas.

Make your own media.

I don’t need to tell you that you can’t rely on the mainstream media to convey your message. I mean, you can rely on them to provide dishonest, incompetent, boring reporting but that won’t help you as a marketer. Take your message directly to the people. Even regular, non-billionaire people can tell your story better than the media. Trust people with your message instead of the media, and you’ll be be better off.  

Find a way to win.

In my bestselling book, one of my great quotes is that sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war. In marketing various products, I am not afraid to fail, or put my name on some product to make some money. Trump Vodka, Trump Airlines, Trump Mortgage. Some of my bets pay off, but not all. Here’s the secret. When you’re really successful, people hear about your failures for a while and forget about them. Today, who talks about Apple Newton and Lisa?  Google Wave and Google Buzz? Haters who probably don’t buy Apple products anyway, that’s who. Don’t focus on mistakes, focus on giving your fans something exciting to talk about. Your fans will shut down your haters for you. Maybe even punch them as the security staff ejects them from the venue.

CW trump thinkfaster marketingSpeaking of winning, that’s about all the time we have. Gotta get back to my victorious march to the highest office in the land, all that. I”ve already taken out a carload of GOP clowns who don’t even know how to lose properly but now it’s time to look across the aisle – and I cringe. You got a guy who looks like he wandered away from a retirement home for liberal college professors and a Washington insider who’s not sure whether it’s appropriate to send messages about national security through personal email on her Blackberry. It’s almost too easy, but some self-made billionaire / real estate mogul / marketing visionary has to win this thing.  

*This post may have been written by an imposter.

Got marketing tips of your own? Please share in the comments below, and help make marketing great again!   

Donald Trump Image by vectorolie, freedigitalphotos.net