Hook: 4 Steps to Building Habit-Forming Products

This is a guest contribution from Nir Eyal, Nir writes, consults, and teaches about the intersection of business, psychology and technology. Nir found...

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10 Expert Business Lessons from James Caan

While many people in the US don't know him, in 2014 James Caan surpassed 1 million followers and is now the 7th most followed person on LinkedIn in th...

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Does Content Marketing Work in Boring Industries?

This is a guest post by Russel Cooke One of the biggest challenges for many businesses is coming up with a content marketing strategy that stands out....

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The 9 Delusions of High Performance in Business

What if the leading business authors are wrong? What if we have been following ideas that have made the wrong conclusions? The Halo Effect is an aura...

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Buyer Psychology and Customer Value: Why People Buy Starbucks coffee?

Hint: it is probably not because of the quality of the coffee. This post was inspired by a question on Quora that asked if Starbucks coffee was really...

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Embracing Market Disruptions – the End of TV as We Know It

Many products, especially technology products, are marketed as revolutionary or game-changing. Most people know better than to trust marketers at face...

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Michael Brenner on Content Marketing, Metrics and Empathy

Today's Marketing Leader interview is with Michael Brenner, one of the most read thinkers on marketing, social and content marketing. Michael is the H...

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Hook: 4 Steps to Building Habit-Forming Products

Nir Eyal on Manufacturing Desire - Hooked

This is a guest contribution from Nir Eyal, Nir writes, consults, and teaches about the intersection of business, psychology and technology. Nir founded two tech companies and has taught at the Stanford School of Business .Nir is also an advisor to several Bay Area start-ups , venture capitalists, and incubators. In addition to blogging at NirAndFar.com, Nir is a contributing writer for Forbes, TechCrunch, and Psychology Today. In this posts he walks us through the science of building habit-forming products.


Type the name of almost any successful consumer web company into your search bar and add the word “addict” after it. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Try “Facebook addict” or “Twitter addict” or even “Pinterest addict” and you’ll soon get a slew of results from hooked users and observers deriding the narcotic-like properties of these web sites. How is it that these companies, producing little more than bits of code displayed on a screen, can seemingly control users’ minds? Why are these sites so addictive and what does their power mean for the future of the web?

We’re on the precipice of anew era of the web. As infinite distractions compete for our attention, companies are learning to master new tactics to stay relevant in users’ minds and lives. Today, just amassing millions of users isno longer good enough. Companies increasingly find that their economic value is a function of the strength of the habits they create. But as some companies are just waking up to this new reality, others are already cashing in.

First-to-Mind Wins

A company that forms strong user habits enjoys several benefits to its bottom line. For one, this type of company creates associations with “internal triggers” in users’ minds. That is to say, users come to the site without any external prompting. Instead of relying on expensive marketing or worrying about differentiation, habit-forming companies get users to cue themselves to action by attaching their services to the users’ daily routines and emotions. A cemented habit is when users subconsciously think, “I’m bored,” and instantly Facebook comes to mind. They think, “I wonder what’s going on in the world?” and before rationale thought occurs, Twitter is the answer. The first-to-mind solution wins.

This is a guest contribution from Nir Eyal, Nir writes, consults, and teaches about the intersection of business, psycho...

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10 Expert Business Lessons from James Caan

Business Lessons Dragons Lair James Caan

While many people in the US don’t know him, in 2014 James Caan surpassed 1 million followers and is now the 7th most followed person on LinkedIn in the world. His book, The Real Deal, is a fascinating account of his story ‘from brick lane to Dragon’s Den’, the popular UK show which is the predecessor to Shark Tank in the US. In a way, James Caan is like the British version of Mark Cuban.

His book is an autobiography and an incredibly interesting story of how he went from being a school dropout immigrant to ultra-successful business mogul that was driving as Rolls Royce at 24. You can attribute luck, personal skill and charisma to his success – like that of anyone. And yet, the book captures a business philosophy that is worth studying. These are the most important business principles I learned from reading The Real Deal:

1. Know your Strengths, Delegate and Hire the Best.- After dropping out of school, James Caan was unsure where he could find success. He decided to look at his strengths: James figured he was good with relationships, reading and connecting people. This led him to start a very successful career in recruiting. He always understood what he was good at, and focused his career on making the most of it.

James also understood what he was not good at. As simple as it sounds, delegating is one of the hardest things for an entrepreneur to do. James understood you can’t be the smartest guy for everything and that you can’t scale your business unless you delegate. In his words “My skill is knowing where to hire a man that knows how to hang a picture better than I do.” Through his career, James always looked for experts in each field and trusted them with the job to be done.

While many people in the US don't know him, in 2014 James Caan surpassed 1 million followers and is now the 7th most fol...

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Does Content Marketing Work in Boring Industries?

Content Marketing in unintteresting industrues

This is a guest post by Russel Cooke

One of the biggest challenges for many businesses is coming up with a content marketing strategy that stands out. Content marketing is a vitally important aspect of any modern marketing plan. One only needs to witness the success cultivated by GoPro cameras with their YouTube channel to show how content marketing can be the key to unlocking hidden sales opportunities and boosting user engagement.

But GoPro sells video cameras. Specifically, they sell portable, lightweight, water- and shock-proof video cameras aimed at extreme athletes, explorers, and daredevils. Their videos show people jumping off cliffs, testing homemade flying machines, and climbing mountains. People have used GoPros in space and at the bottom of the ocean. Even 99% of the people who own a GoPro don’t end up using it for such exciting things, it’s remains an instantly engaging, interesting product.

This is a guest post by Russel Cooke One of the biggest challenges for many businesses is coming up with a content marke...

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The 9 Delusions of High Performance in Business

The Halo Effect - the 9 delusions of high performance business

What if the leading business authors are wrong?

What if we have been following ideas that have made the wrong conclusions?

The Halo Effect is an aura that surrounds companies, people and strategies that are successful. Once a person or a company achieves a certain status, the halo effect will touch everything they do. This often leads many to the conclusion that it was the company culture, or their leadership, or their personal traits and values, or their customer obsession that made them successful.

As important as it is, the Halo Effect is only the first of 9 delusions that cloud the path to success in business. The 9 delusions are beliefs that impact strategy and business decisions every day, detailed masterfully by Phil Rosenweig in his book properly named The Halo Effect.

In this book, Phil Rosenzweig debunks Good to Great, In Search of Excellence and other classic business books and research reports. These publications and their conclusions fall in the trap of one or many delusions. Following these conclusions as proven formulas carries the risk of disastrous effects.

Let’s look at the nine Delusions and the real driver for high performance in organizations.

 

1 – The Delusion of The Halo Effect

Many of the things experts think contribute to high company performance are often attributions based on performance. Many studies like Fortune’s Great Places to Work studies multiply the halo effect. Often a great company culture is a result of success. We think as successful companies as innovative. We think about CEOs as powerful leaders.

 

2 – The Delusion of Correlation and Causation

The author points to many examples: Bain and Co claims their customers outperform the market 4 to 1. The assumption is that hiring Bain caused high performance. We need to consider the possibility that companies who are outperforming the market have the time and the money to hire Bain.

What if the leading business authors are wrong? What if we have been following ideas that have made the wrong conclusion...

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Buyer Psychology and Customer Value: Why People Buy Starbucks coffee?

How Starbucks Differentiated in a Commodity Market

Hint: it is probably not because of the quality of the coffee.

This post was inspired by a question on Quora that asked if Starbucks coffee was really superior and how the company made it addictive. What i found very interesting about this question is that the quality of the coffee is not really that important. There are other psychological and emotional reasons why Starbucks is so successful worldwide.

After all, contrary to what most people believe, we all make purchase decisions emotionally and then (sometimes) justify them rationally. This is true in B2B and B2C, it is true for $1 or for $1 Billion purchases. And it is critical for all marketers to understand.

Hint: it is probably not because of the quality of the coffee. This post was inspired by a question on Quora that asked...

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Embracing Market Disruptions – the End of TV as We Know It

Market Disruptions Strategy

Many products, especially technology products, are marketed as revolutionary or game-changing. Most people know better than to trust marketers at face value on claims like these.

Disruptions to the market could be defined as those who alter the balance of an industry between supplies, consumers, existing and new competitors and alternatives – Porter’s five forces. These changes alter the industry’s profitability, growth rates and expectations for future growth.

Examples of true disruptions include when streaming TV and movies over the Internet (Netflix, Hulu) became a viable alternative to in-store rentals (RIP, Blockbuster) or when computer components enabled smaller companies (Dell) to compete at lower costs than industry leaders (IBM, HP).

Market leadership is not powerful enough to stop market disruptions

In the majority of cases, the new technology was available to industry leaders who chose to disregard it as a fad or inferior to their existing technology. There were clear signals of the market disruption, which leaders chose to ignore.

Sony ignored the digital music revolution, allowing Apple to dominate the market with the iPod and iTunes. Sony had everything to win: the company invented portable music with the Walkman a few decades ago. Sony owns movie and music publishers and distributors. Sony produces consumer electronics, computers, and mobile phones. The company’s mission is to innovate around content to deliver new experiences. And yet, Sony chose not to participate in the disruption.

Many products, especially technology products, are marketed as revolutionary or game-changing. Most people know better t...

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Michael Brenner on Content Marketing, Metrics and Empathy

Michael Brenner Interview

Today’s Marketing Leader interview is with Michael Brenner, one of the most read thinkers on marketing, social and content marketing. Michael is the Head of Strategy for a really interesting marketing platform, NewsCred. Until recently, he was VP of Global Marketing and Content Strategy and Head of Digital Marketing for SAP Americas.

Michael is the co-founder of leading social news site Business 2 Community and creator of SAP’s Business Innovation thought leadership site. Michael contributes to leading publications such as ForbesThe Economist, and The Guardian. 

Let’s see what Michael has to say about becoming a better marketer, where marketers should focus on and on improving the marketing function:

Today's Marketing Leader interview is with Michael Brenner, one of the most read thinkers on marketing, social and conte...

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What is Growth Hacking and What Can Good Marketers Learn from It?

Growth Hacking is Good Marketing

The latest buzz in startups is Growth Hacking. It sounds like some secret formula to grow companies to billions in valuation. But what is growth Hacking? What does it mean for marketers and for businesses? Is it Marketing 2.0 (or 3.0 or whatever version we are on +1)?

I have found the definitions by those who created the term to be inaccurate or of little value.  At first glance, it could appear that growth hacking is a marketing buzzword about marketing created by non-marketers.

After taking a closer look and reading all I could about it, I found that in trying to learn from it, a pure definition would not be as valuable as an observation of Gowth Hacking characteristics are:

  • Typically found in early stage startups – with no formal marketing teams or budget
  • Where marketing is performed by engineers or non-career marketers
  • That uses smart, cheap and unconventional methods to grow the business
  • With a strong focus on analytics, metrics, virality and scalability

Advocates of the term call out DropBox, Twitter and even Hotmail as success stories that prove the value of growth hacking. This view is somewhat misleading as there are a hundred startups following growth hacking techniques that won’t survive to their next round of financing. Which only proves there is no secret formula or buzzword that guarantees success.

The only guarantee of success is to have a great strategy, a great product, a great team, and great execution.  But let’s focus on what marketers can learn from growth hackers:

The latest buzz in startups is Growth Hacking. It sounds like some secret formula to grow companies to billions in valua...

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Marketing Leader Interview with John Ellett

Interview with John Ellett

John is one of the smartest technology marketers I know.  I met John back in 2001 when his company was helping us in a subsidiary of Motorola. I am delighted to have him participate in this series.

John is an advisor to CMOs, author of the CMO Manifesto, contributor for Fortbes CMO Network and CEO of nFusion, a digital marketing and advertising firm based here in Austin. John worked on the famous Charlie Chaplin advertising campaign for the original IBM PC and later was a marketing executive at Dell.

 

1. What company is an example of good marketing today? Who do you admire?

MasterCard’s Priceless Surprises, Smirnoff’s Nightlife Exchange, GoPro and RedBull all come to mind. But Samsung is my favorite because of the huge strides they’ve made and because we get to work with them.

John is one of the smartest technology marketers I know.  I met John back in 2001 when his company was helping us in a s...

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10 Fundamentals of Social Media Marketing

10 Fundamentals of Social Marketing

There are many guides, best practices and tips for social media marketing out there. This is a different list. These are 10 principles that are fundamental for organizations that are building a social media plan. The goal is to help you establish a mindset that will help you come up with a strategy. I learned these principles after more than a decade of working on social media and community strategies for startups to Fortune 50 organizations..

To start on a light note, let me share an extended version of an entertaining way to explain social media 101

Social Media Explained

- CLICK IMAGE FOR A LARGER VERSION - 

OK, now let’s get to the important stuff. For each principle I provide a summary and a link to an older post where you can read more on the topic.

The 10 fundamental principles for social media marketing

1. Social Media is not a strategy. Social media is interaction, it’s a channel, a tool that can be used for many things – like email, or video conferencing technology or a CRM system or in-person meetings. Social is most effective when integrated with other parts of the business to support a business strategy. Read more.

2. Social strategists are coaches. A mature social team crafts the strategy, provides a technology foundation, guidelines and coaching to enable multiple groups in the organization to be active in social media. If the social media is the only one participating in the conversation, you are doing something wrong. Read more.

3. Social Media is changing fast. My 14 year old daughter has no idea what Foursquare is. Her group use Instagram and Vine more than Facebook and Email. AOL is history. Be aware of social network and style preferences for each of your target audiences. Prepare to be adaptive. More stats.

4. Social media marketing will go away. Soon. Why? Because everything will be social or will have an aspect of social. Every well-rounded marketer must have social media skills and experience. Just like every well rounded marketer requires knowledge of SEO, web technologies or digital marketing. It’s just marketing.

5. There is no social media ROI. The exact value of a Facebook like or a Twitter follower is zero. At least until you come up with an integrated plan to engage fans and create value, they are worthless. If you are measuring ROI for social media activities you are doing something wrong. You must measure the contribution of social media tools and tactics to greater company strategies. Like customer acquisition, branding, support and customer feedback. Read more.

6. Correlation is not Causation. When measuring Social Media effectiveness it is easy to say things like ‘people who follow us on Twitter buy 40% more and buy 3x more often’. We are inclined to believe customers buy more because they follow us on twitter, while the opposite is more likely to be true: customers who like us, are loyal and buy more are likely to follow us on twitter. Correlation does not create value. Read more.

7. Don’t oversell social media. Ads on Facebook or Linked in is not Social Marketing, it is just Advertising. Publishing discount coupons on twitter and other social channels is just taking advantage of an audience to run promotions. Measure value holistically and take into account all costs (including effort, focus and cost of opportunity). Read more.

8. Most communities fail and die. It is alluring to ‘own’ our community of customers and advocates. The reality is that it is very hard to create a community. A better strategy is to fish where the fish are and participate in existing communities. We talk a lot about social media success, we need to talk more about our failures and learn from them. Read more.

9. Becoming a social business is not about adopting social tools, and launching a social campaign. It is about changing your culture to be more customer centric and putting the customer at the center of the business. Read more.

10. Social is just one of five key factors that are changing our world along with mobile, sensors, data and context. Read more about the Age of Context in this post.

If you are building a social strategy for a company, let me suggest this presentation by Warren Lee of Adobe. It provides a useful framework for organizing a team, integrating it with other areas in marketing and specific KPIs that is well aligned (is a good example even) with point #5 above.

Please share your thoughts in the comments below

 

There are many guides, best practices and tips for social media marketing out there. This is a different list. These are...

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