Artist vs. Scientist

Are the marketing roles evolving or are they merging?

This week I saw an intriguing infographic comparing the role of Marketing Artist versus Marketing Scientist. I found it interesting because I have always considering marketing more of an artistic service. Yet, the way technology is emerging and transforming marketing and advertising one could argue that the marketing function is taking on more of a scientific role. After all, marketing journals and blogs promote such topics as big data, analytics, metrics, tracking, and return on investment. In the past, these terms were not normally discussed in the confines of marketing; but, now they are part of the lingo.

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Salesforce advocates that these two roles as separate and distinct. One focused on creativity and innovation (The Artist) and the other in data and analytics (The Scientist). Each persona has specific tools, techniques, tips, and strategies that they use to be successful. Modern marketing departments will successfully blend these two roles together.

In the context of artists and scientist, Jim Sterne defines the roles in terms of data. A data scientist is responsible for understanding and advancing the nature of data, its collection methods, and the algorithms for processing it. An artist is responsible for creating something new that delivers original insight and evokes emotion. A data artist must have a firm comprehension of hard science, a sound understanding of business goals and processes, a penchant for creativity, and a talent for communication – a very rare combination. A data artist must be a master of all digital media –ad networks, email campaigns, YouTube channel measurement and more – to create valid insights worthy of using as foundations for business decisions. I like that!

Marketers are challenged with old legacy systems and non-integrated data. Resources (scientist or artist) spend a significant amount of time analyzing what happened yesterday. They are running to catch up or get ahead of competitors. Even worse, those that work with “results” spend more time creating and distributing reports than truly analyzing. The insight is in the analysis, not the reports themselves. More resources are needed to explore the data and then let that inspire them. Imagine the possibilities!

So where’s this all going? I believe there is a huge shift toward more technology in marketing (see my previous blog), but how does the modern marketer truly blend the scientist and the artist?

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More than Words

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I love a good story. Is there anything more engaging or thought provoking than a compelling story?

No one seems to tell a better story than Pixar, the Walt Disney animated subsidiary. Pixar is renowned for its high quality animation and superb story lines. In a recent webinar I was directed to check out Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling to see how it parallels with digital brand storytelling.

So, what does Pixar have to say about storytelling?

Rule 1.                    You admire a character more for trying than for their success.

Rule 2.                    Keep in mind what’s interesting to an audience not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be very different.

Rule 3.                    Trying for theme is important, buy you won’t see what the story is actually about until you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.

Rule 4.                    Once upon a time there was       . Everyday,     . One day       . Because of that,    .because of that,     . Until finally    .

Rule 5.                    Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.

Rule 6.                    What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?

Rule 7.                    Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.

Rule 8.                    Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.

Rule 9.                    When you’re stuck, make a list of what wouldn’t happen next…lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.

Rule 10.                 Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.

Rule 11.                 Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.

Rule 12.                 Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.

Rule 13.                 Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.

Rule 14.                 Why must you tell this story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.

Rule 15.                 If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.

Rule 16.                 What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.

Rule 17.                 No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.

Rule 18.                 You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best and fussing. Story telling is testing not refining.

Rule 19.                 Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great. Coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.

Rule 20.                 Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How’d you rearrange them Into what you do like?

Rule 21.                 You have to identify with your situation and characters; can’t just write “cool”. What would make you act that way?

Rule 22.                 What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.

And there you have it (I think #4 and #10 are my favorites). To build on Pixar’s storytelling rules, Filmmaker Andrew Stanton offers great advice in his Ted Talk video, The Clues to a Great Story. One tip is “Make Me Care”. I think this is an important part of any story – even brand stories. Why should readers or viewers care about what a brand has to say? As we know, storytelling can be the best form of engagement. What better way to connect with customers than through brand storytelling? Yet, there must be a compelling reason for people to want to listen. This is where brands fall short. They usually spin yarns about their products or services, but few have the insight to offer the audience more. Stanton advices that storytellers should use what they know, expressing values they personally feel deep down to their core. How many brands can say that?

Here’s an example of a brand that I think did a great job with their brand story. It’s Guinness’ “Empty Chair” ad from July 4, 2014:

So what did you like about the Guinness example? How do you think the story aligns with Pixar’s storytelling rules?

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Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) to Work

The impact of consumerization of technology

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Do you bring your own device to work, such as a tablet or smart phone? If so, does your employer allow you to use it for work or personal activities?

It used to be that technology was confined to either the work or home environment. Now, devices are portable, affordable, and flexible enough that they go everywhere with us, including the office. Moreover, users are actually using their personal devices to perform work activities. The “consumerization of IT” is defined as the use of technologies that can easily be provisioned by non-technologists. This trend represents a fundamental shift between employers and employees.

But, what’s the impact? Gartner found 40% used personally owned smartphones, tablets, laptops or desktops as a primary or supplemental business device and 45% of workers not required to use a personal device for work were doing so without their employer’s knowledge. Most users do not require traditional IT resources to connect, collaborate, share, or consume content. Employees demand to use their personally preferred mobile devices, personal computers, applications, social media, and cloud services wherever they go or in whatever they do. Technology has made employee empowerment easier, but not all organizations are embracing it. In fact, some organizations attempt to control it with strict policies or specific hardware and software requirements or company issued devices.

Is there a happy medium? Employers are concerned about everything affecting their brand – this incudes security, software viruses, viral content, breaches, etc. Employees believe they can and should be able to use their own devices to be more productive and stay in touch with the outside world. Both sides should work together to find common ground. CIOs must forge new, collaborative relationships with users, give them freedom to make IT decisions, and teach them how to assume responsibility for those decisions.

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Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…Help Me Out!

How Technology May Change The Dressing Room Experience

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In the story of Snow White, the magic mirror held great power. Oh, to have a mirror like that on a shopping trip!

I don’t know about you, but I have to psych myself up when shopping for clothes. I despise trips to the dressing room, especially if I end up shopping at more than one store. The process of undressing, trying on clothes, and then redressing is maddening! Because of this, I tend to overload my trip to the dressing room with different sizes and color options. Nearly all of us can relate to being situations where you love the style or color of an item, but the size wasn’t quite right. Yet, unless you have a friend or family member that can fetch another one, who wants to get redressed to go back out onto the sales floor only to have to go through the undress/try on/redress process. Get the picture?

But, there are some cool technology advancements just around the corner that may make the trip to the dressing room less painful and…fun!

Nordstrom is testing smart mirrors in the dressing room that have the ability to act as a website. With the tap of a customer’s finger, the mirror turns into an interactive screen, effectively creating smart fitting rooms. The intent is to bring technology into an area (the dressing room) that is normally not automated, but highly influences the consumer’s buying decision. Additionally, Bloomingdale’s is adding mounted iPads on the wall of their dressing rooms. Bloomingdale’s solution is not quite as sophisticated or high-tech as interactive mirrors, but it’s a step in the right direction. With this technology, customers can scan bar codes to find colors or sizes and to see what’s in stock. Additionally, they can request an associate bring an item to them without having to leave the dressing room.

How about not even having to get undressed at all to try on clothes? Yes, it maybe possible. Emerging retail technology is considering how holograms can play into the dressing room experience. British digital agency Engage created a Virtual Style Pod that scanned shoppers and created a life-size image onto which luxury clothing from brands like Alexander McQueen and DKNY were projected. Now, that’s pretty cool stuff!

But, this technology is not just about making the shopping experience more pleasant for the customer. Retailers are learning how to use their brick and mortar stores to service customers like never before. As customers shopping preferences shift to more digital avenues, retailers are figuring out how to integrate their physical store locations into the digital shopping experience.

It looks like having a “magic mirror” maybe quite possible after all. I for one cannot wait for the dressing room revolution!

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Marketing Technology Careers

New Opportunities in Marketing for Tech Geeks

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Say what?

That’s right, you read correctly. There are new opportunities emerging in marketing that – gasp – are not creative. Yet, I believe these new roles have the ability to contribute to a successful campaign as much as creative ingenuity.

Technology is changing the face of marketing in more ways than just engagement and advertising. It’s bringing to light the need to recruit and hire personnel with technical acumen. Creative skills have always been a crucial part of marketing and will continue to be so. But, as the digital landscape continues to morph and grow, marketers will struggle with delivering content dynamically and quickly without people that possess technical ability. The tools available today (and certainly in the future) are much more sophisticated and integrated than ever before.

Additionally, more and more marketers need to understand the data that is cultivated and stored inside their organization and be able to maximize the value from it. See if this sounds familiar: the marketing department wants to more fully understand customer perception and attitudes. They hire expensive vendors and purchase additional tools capable of collecting this data only to find out that the Customer Service department is already gathering a large portion of this information through their customer information systems. What ends ups happening is the implementation of disparate systems and duplicate customer information. This happens over and over again throughout the corporate world. It is often said that an organization is “data rich, but information poor”. Meaning, most organizations are swimming in data, but what they lack is real integration and analytical insight as to what the data means or how best to use it. Here’s where marketing geeks come to the rescue.

The skills required to integrate marketing campaigns across multiple channels seamlessly and understand the data that is required to be successful are in high demand. One such job is a Marketing Technologist. DigitalPeople’s case study describes the marketing technologist’s primary role is to assure that technology is being used in the most effective manner and that it offers a competitive marketing advantage. They work more closely with business leaders to prioritize IT strategies and make them executable as they relate to key marketing strategies. Companies currently looking for this type of role include Dell, Baptist Healthcare System, and NBC Universal. Scott Brinker states a marketing technologist is a marketer who understands technology and a technologist who is passionate about marketing. A more elevated role is Chief Marketing Technologist, one that is equivalent of the Chief Information Officer. This person reports directly to the Chief Marketing Officer and oversees all things marketing – marketing software, data and analytics, social and mobile platforms, apps development, content marketing, web mechanics, and digital advertising networks.

These new roles and responsibilities open the door for a whole new group of people who may have not given a career in marketing a second thought. But, as the future of marketing becomes more technical, marketing tech jobs are hot!

So, marketers…get your geek on!

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Twitter Embraces New Features

New Release Shows Twitter Can Change

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Dismal market news dogged Twitter for much of 2014, as investors were continually concerned about the growth of the user base and the strategic direction of the company. In July, Market Watch reported shares had fallen 9.5% since first-quarter results were released in late April, and were down 39% year-to-date, mainly due to investor worries that the company’s user base wasn’t growing fast enough. A Huffington Post article later reported that Twitter posted a loss of $175 million, or 29 cents per share, in the third quarter of 2014. Additionally, Twitter was repeatedly compared with Facebook – both in number of users and flexibility. In the first quarter of 2014, Twitter reported 255 million monthly active users, compared to Facebook’s 1.3 billion monthly users. Facebook added new features and facelifts while Twitter’s functionality remained relatively unchanged.

But, 2015 brings a New Year and new promise for Twitter. This month, Twitter announced it is rolling out two new features, which are designed to make the platform more appealing. One feature is private group messaging and the other is the ability to shoot, edit and post videos directly through the Twitter app. While Twitter hopes to capture more new users to the platform, it also wants its current user base to use the site more often. According to Robert Peck, managing director and Internet equity analyst at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, some analysts believe the new features, investments in advertising technology, and the company’s outreach to third-party software developers could be potential catalysts for Twitter having a “Facebook moment” in 2015.

Clearly, video is the king of content. Just on YouTube alone, over 100 hours of video are uploaded every minute! That is why the new video feature of Twitter maybe one of the most important. Previously, the only way for most Twitter users to share video was through Vine, Twitter’s standalone video app (which provided short, 6-second clips). Now, Twitter users can add video up to 30 seconds in length. Twitter for iPhone users can upload videos from the camera roll and Twitter promises to be expanding this functionality to Android soon. Twitter hopes the addition of video will promote richer, more frequent, and shareable content.

The new group messaging feature allows users to start conversations with up to 20 people on Twitter. Those people do not all have to follow each other to chat privately. Since its inception, Twitter has largely been focused on public conversations. Yet, with this new release, the ability for private conversations will be realized. This type of functionality should promote greater levels of engagement with users. Maybe more users who enjoy Facebook for its social collaboration will migrate to Twitter now that more social interactivity is possible. You can bet that’s what Twitter is aiming for.

Are We Too Connected?

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Brad Paisley has a song, “Welcome to the Future”, where he reminisces about childhood wishes, such as being able to watch TV on long trips and having arcade games at home. Now these things are available on his phone, from the palm of his hand. This kind of modernization is exciting and intoxicating. What was once thought impossible is now possible. We are lead to believe that if we just get connected and live in the digital stratosphere our lives will be easier, simpler, and smarter. With a simple press of a button we can manage bank accounts, buy products, play a game, or connect with people and brands we love. Even social media sites provide the ability to connect, but without face-to-face or telephonic conversations. We are easily convinced to join, like, share, upload, click, or check in. But, what’s the price we pay to reach ultimate connectivity? Is being so digitally connected really helping us or making us smarter?

A 2012 research report by Pew Research Center describes how analysts believe many young people growing up in today’s networked world and counting on the Internet as their external brain will be nimble analysts and decision-makers who will do well. However, these experts also expect that constantly connected teens and young adults will
thirst for instant gratification and often make quick, shallow choices. Survey respondents think educational reform and greater emphasis on social skills will be necessary in the future. Moreover, 42 percent of survey respondents agreed with the statement:

“In 2020, the brains of multitasking teens and young adults are ‘wired’ differently from those over age 35 and overall it yields baleful results”

The survey presents some interesting insights about concerns in the decline of deep analytical skills, critical thinking, and the ability of young adults to focus for long periods of time. Yet, Christopher Ferguson’s main point is that America is in a state of “moral panic.” This state of moral alarm is very similar to the outrage that shook up the nation’s prevailing, orthodox mores at the advent of cultural events such as comic books, rock and roll, and Dungeons and Dragons.

Is emerging technology presenting truly smarter options or are we sacrificing precious social and analytical skills in order to live by machine? As Sophocles once said, “Nothing vast enters the life of mortals without a curse.”