The Tahzoo Difference in Data Services

“Genius might be the ability to say a profound thing in a simple way.” 
-Charles Bukowski 

You can barely go a day in the news cycle and not hear a story about Data. For the past 5 or 6 years, we have been pursuing the integration of data into our service offering. Not just analytics or better A/B testing but understanding how we could build a data infrastructure closely tied to our CMS practice that would enhance and improve personalization. Over the years we’ve made a lot of progress on leading-edge techniques and ideas for how those two domains should come together.  
 
In some ways, we’ve been ahead of the market and many of our customers, and in some cases, our employees weren’t always understanding the vision that I had around the integration of Data and CMS publishing technologies. This stems largely from the fact that I have always viewed content as another data set to be masters. The reason I wrote a few weeks ago about linguistic AI as it’s a profound step in improving the quality of the content and therefore the consumer experience.  
 
Now our major customers are asking us for help in defining our Data Hub solution and how it should be integrated into the enterprise marketing platform. We have a fantastic opportunity to lead the market in this space. I asked Mike Fillion to work with the team and put together Tahzoo’s unique value proposition. We are not just another data provider or system integrator, we have a very unique and specialized offering, you should all be excited.    
 
Let’s go be great! 
Brad 

The Zeitgeist

“Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future.” 
– Yoda reminds Luke of the problem with trying too hard to predict the future 

Today I was going to write about ‘how to run a meeting’, but I’ve opted to save that for next week. 
 
During my travels this week, I’ve had a lot of time to think. I’ve written and spoken to all of you about personalization and how it will be the dominant marketing paradigm for the foreseeable future. I want to take a moment and refine that thought for each of you as you consider how we can better support our clients, and more importantly how we develop our solutions for personalization. There has been a lot of great work in the past few weeks producing papers on our business and technical solutions – thank you to everyone for all of the efforts, it is driving our business to a new level! 
 
There is a concept used in advertising called the “Zeitgeist”. It’s a word that comes from some fairly heady German philosophy, which translated means “the spirit of the age” or the “spirit of the times”. It refers to an invisible agent or force dominating the characteristics of a culture. In advertising, there are iconic ad campaigns that seem to resonate with the masses at a visceral level. These campaigns are effective because they speak to the culture well beyond the normal frequency and reach the strategy of showing a commercial every 10 minutes. They become a metaphor representing the cultural ethos… think internet memes. As a creative director, the goal has always been to combine imagery, writing, and music into a campaign that reaches the masses at their core. Each of us has a favorite TV commercial that we remember and can recite by heart. 
 
There has been a lot of talk about how politics have become tribal – groups of people banding together around a common theme or perspective. As those groups begin to share with one another, they create an echo chamber and continue a process of finding and selecting content that they agree with. This is known as confirmation bias. The internet and social media have allowed us to define ourselves into ever more discrete groups. There is a community for virtually every topic of human interest in the world. You are a unique combination of interests and ideas; since all the information of the world is available through the internet, you will explore, evolve, and change over the course of your life. Each of us has our own Zeitgeist, a spirit of the times that guides our choice for the experience. 
 
Now that we are all connected and our choice of experience is self-determined, a customer experience strategy designed for the masses is folly. Do not confuse efficiency with intimacy; we can enhance digital experiences to make them more effective, but that doesn’t build a brand the way an emotional connection does. Many of us have participated in discussions about the long lines at Disneyland and yet it’s still a brand experience like no other in the world. The real opportunity is to understand people, which is now possible through powerful analytical tools – and to deliver the content “Experiences” that speak to their Zeitgeist. Our software partnerships have given us the platform to deliver personalization on a global scale. Now it’s up to us to continue to develop and refine our techniques for helping our clients achieve the goal of reaching each of their customer’s hearts through personalization.  
 
Let’s go be great, 
Brad 

The Importance of Personalization

I hope you enjoyed the retrospective on advertising and marketing last week. It’s important to know where we came from so we can understand where we are going and how big is the step is forward.

For those who were wondering, Mark Goode won the contest on the ad campaigns, and here are the answers:
• Plop Plop Fizz Fizz oh what a relief it is – Alka Seltzer
• The Energizer bunny – Duracell Energizer Batteries
• Quality is job one – Ford
• Just Do It – Nike
• Where’s the beef – Wendy’s
• The most interesting man in the world – Originally Dos Equis
• We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two – Farmers Insurance
• MMM MMM GOOD – Campbell’s Soup
• Melts in your mouth not in your hands – M&M’s (Mars company)
• Don’t leave home without it – American Express
• Because you’re worth it – L’Oréal Paris
• A diamond is forever – DeBeers Diamonds

As you’re reading, watching TV, and surfing the internet, try to notice how marketers are influencing you with mnemonic tricks to change your brand perception.

Back to the importance of personalization. Companies that can provide efficiencies and a great experience win – look at Amazon, Uber, Lyft, and Venmo. Simple, efficient, and they solve everyday problems. Social platforms have given rise to companies that enhance the human experience by connecting people and their choices… think of Facebook, Yelp, and Netflix – all tools for enhancing your experience.

When you think about Fortune 500 companies, they’ve been successful by increasing market share and refining business models over decades. They are empires with millions of customers and well-established practices for managing growth and profit. They have the most to lose as technology advances and consumer expectations change. One of our insurance clients was lamenting the fact that millennials are buying life insurance at an ever-decreasing rate when at the same time they are spending more money on monthly subscriptions to products and services – more than the previous generations by some order of magnitude. Why it so hard to get a millennial to make a monthly payment for something that is a wise financial choice?

I believe it has a lot to do with how people make purchases and how information is consumed today. Since most purchases now include some measure of research and glancing at customer reviews, this model lends itself to simpler, quicker, purchases that are amplified by word of mouth. So, if you’re a big company with an empire to protect, how do you maintain a relationship with your customer, evolve it over time, educate them, and leverage the latest technology? And, if you don’t, some technology-enabled startup that’s in tune with the new purchasing paradigms is going to clean your clock.

We believe the answer is creating efficient and personalized experiences for your customers. ‘One size fits all’ isn’t enough anymore, and it certainly doesn’t overcome the complexities of building relationships and educating your customers so they make good decisions. We are helping our clients replicate human to human interaction digitally.

There is a great documentary called AlphaGo (you can find it on Netflix), about how Google built an AI program to compete with the best GO player in the world. GO is arguably the most complex game that humans have created.

At Tahzoo we are offering a profoundly different way to approach personalization, digital marketing, and customer experience. We are leveraging the latest technologies and applying them in innovative ways to change the world, or as I like to remind everyone, we get to make millions of people just a little bit happier every day.

Let’s go be great!
Brad

MarketerCX

“Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It’s not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it’s when you’ve had everything to do, and you’ve done it.” – Margaret Thatcher 

Hi Everyone, 
 
We launched our first Software as a Service (SaaS) product! MarketerCX is a fully implemented version of our Enterprise Marketing Platform, pre-configured to meet the needs of marketers wanting to launch campaigns, manage assets, and deliver personalized experiences. The idea being, that we can help a client quickly execute campaigns and deliver a personalized experience. 
 
MarketerCX.com 

The platform includes Marketing Resource Management (MRM), Marketing Automation (Email Marketing), Digital Asset Management (DAM), Analytics, and reporting. We will be adding to the platform over the coming months to include the MarkLogic product for a 360 view of the customer and ERSI for spatial data analysis. 
 
We are addressing department needs with this offering. We see this as a beachhead into Fortune 500 clients which we can grow into full enterprise implementations over time. It provides us an opportunity to demonstrate the value of an integrated platform and Tahzoo’s ability to drive personalized experiences. 
 
We will be teaming with Microsoft and Aprimo to take this product to market. We already have a small pipeline of customers who are interested in the product. I am excited about this new offering and I want to give a big shout out to Don Low, Bryan Fitch, and John Kottcamp for pulling the marketing together. 
 
On a side note, have a great 4th of July! 
 
Thanks, 
Brad

Digital Asset Management or a CMS

“Action is the foundational key to all success.” – Pablo Picasso 

Most content management systems are designed to manage websites and web pages, not content. The reason we bet the company on SDL Tridion is that it was a component-based approach for delivering a web experience and it had a decoupled architecture, ensuring that it would be scalable. Really, when you look at the underlying premise of SDL Tridion, it’s an XML publishing engine. The genius behind this approach now – and 20 years since it was first developed – is that customer experience isn’t just delivered on websites anymore. 
 
Over the last 10 years, software vendors have been pushing CMS’ as content management solutions, which clearly, they are not… like I said earlier, they are website management tools. Hence the rise in Digital Asset Management solutions in the last few years. As we move to unified customer experience across many channels of interaction, creating, curating, and publishing the content becomes the central concern. 
 
Companies have now spent the better part of the last decade trying to solve these and other marketing-related problems with their CMS vendor of choice. We are now seeing the effects of failed implementations or situations in which the software company over-promised the capability of the software. Clients are looking to Tahzoo to provide a solution to this situation. I hope you’ve all seen the Tahzoo Content Hub slides, it’s the integration of the CMS for publishing, the DAM for managing content, the PIM for managing product information all tied to an e-commerce scenario or a personalization engine. 
 
So, what does this mean for Tahzoo? The CMS marketing is declining and quickly, the refresh cycle for these systems is extending from 3 to 5 years out to 5 to 7 years. The DAM market will be exploding over the next couple of years. Most of our clients do not have a rationalized approach to asset management and certainly have don’t have a reference architecture for implementing a content hub. We are extremely well-positioned to take advantage of the changing marketplace. Our partnerships SDL, ADAM, and Aprimo align us with market-leading software products that are going to lead this next iteration of the enterprise marketing platform. 
 
So, what does this mean for each of you? New technologies to master, new paradigms to learn, and a focus on becoming a better consultant. Everyone needs to concern themselves with being billable, and the best way to do that is to be skilled in multiple technologies. We are going to invest in a lot of training over the next couple of years to ensure we are riding the top of the wave. Kevin and his team are working on a technical reference architecture that we can leverage to deliver on our brand promise to help our clients deliver contextually appropriate and personalized experiences at scale.   
 
Let’s go be great, 
Brad

What’s In A Fitbit

Since receiving a Fitbit Charge 2 for my birthday, I’ve been wearing it every day for a month now, and I’m fascinated with what I’ve learned. The Charge Two tracks heart rate, sleep patterns, the number of steps taken, estimates the number of calories burned each day, and so much more. The device even reminds me to take time to breathe and focus on my mental health. Turns out, I am in pretty good shape – my Cardio Fitness Score is ‘Good’ given a score of 39, and when I make it to 39.6 I’ll graduate to ‘Very Good’. All in all, I make an effort to maintain my physical fitness by going to the gym 4 to 5 times a week, running and lifting weights.

However, now that I have all this data about my health, I feel compelled to make good use of it. For example, if I lose 14.2 lbs. and increase my cardio by 20%, I would achieve a score of ‘Excellent’ for Cardio fitness. I am currently training for the Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon in March, so there is a good chance that I’ll meet my goals. The point, however, is that data and feedback loops give you the information you need to make better decisions and the necessary improvement toward your goals.

Over the last month, I’ve been working with the finance and project leadership teams to create a standard package of reports to share out to the entire company. The reporting package (not unlike a Fitbit) will provide each of you a monthly summary of Utilization, Billability, and Chargeability as well as summarizing by team and division the operating and performance metrics. We will be extending this to an account base view as well, so we can see revenue, profitability, and the overall employee satisfaction of the Tahzoo delivery team.

With this new feedback loop will come individual goals and opportunities for improvement. We are fortunate to have tremendous market opportunities… but we need to be better stewards of our business and ensure that we are profitable and growing at the same time. For some of you this will be an adjustment, as I will be expecting everyone to make their targets, and more importantly, to show improvement in efficiency over time. Traditionally we haven’t run Tahzoo by the numbers, but this is the road ahead for us. If we want to be a world-class Customer Experience Management agency, we’ll have to operate in a world-class manner.

I am excited about this new level of awareness – not only on a personal level but also for our business. I’ve written extensively about how we need to bring more rigor and quantitative thinking into our business; this reporting is the beginning of building this operational strength into the company. Over the next three weeks we will be rolling out the expectations and reporting package within the US business, and to the rest of the company in the following month. We have created a framework for each of you to meet with your manager to align on goals and expectations. As we roll this out, I’ll be looking for feedback from you through the Voice of the Culture survey.

Looking forward to starting 2017 with clear goals and expectations for all of us.

Thanks,
Brad

Best DX Idea for 2017

“I found every single successful person I’ve ever spoken to had a turning point. The turning point was when they made a clear, specific unequivocal decision that they were going to achieve success. Some people make that decision at 15 and some people make it at 50, and most people never make it at all.” – Brian Tracey 

Success… 
 
This week has been a busy one, and I am energized to share with you the results of everyone’s diligence in preparing. 
 
Early in the week, the team attended CMSWire’s DX Summit to connect with partners and potential clients. Jen presented TIPS at the Peoples Choice Awards and brought home a win – Tahzoo was awarded Best DX Idea for 2017.  Congrats everyone!  CMS Wire will be doing a write-up about Tahzoo in an upcoming article.  During the event, we brought visibility to Tahzoo by sharing live digital graphic recordings during the sessions. You can see a compilation of those notes here.  To read more about what was presented, visit CMSWire’s Digital Experience Channel.   
 
Later this week at SDL Connect in Palo Alto, SDL rolled out their Global Digital Experience Solution, which gives global business leaders better control over the entire content lifecycle. During the event, I shared our experience with SDL and why they are our preferred partners for translation and content management. For Fortune 500 companies seeking globalization, translation, and personalization at scale, our partnership with SDL enables us to consistently deliver best in class solutions.  Read more about SDL Connect here. 
 
I’m reminded of the importance of not only networking, but in sharing our learnings and continuously seeking to sharpen ourselves as professionals.  Here at Tahzoo, we have upcoming opportunities to do just that – so I encourage you to participate in events like the Innovation Day Hackathon or next week’s IBM Watson Cognitive Solutions session in NL.  
 
Let’s go be great, 
Brad 

Selling Tahzoo

Imagine you’re talking with a potential Client of Tahzoo’s and they ask you what does Tahzoo do? You could say we are a customer experience agency that helps our clients deliver personalized customer experiences at scale… then comes the awkward pause from the Client during which they decide to either say “that’s cool” or admit they have no idea about what Tahzoo does and then proceed to ask you more questions.

Or you could say to the Client… “We help our clients build deeper relationships with their customers. For example, for one of our clients, we increased traffic to their site by 50%, with the visitors spending almost 38 thousand hours on high-value content since we launched their new website”.

“We create happy customers and measure the results for our clients in lots of ways, number of pages being viewed per visit, increase in conversion rates and less time being spent on the home page… for all of our clients we help them achieve meaningful results for their business”.

Our Client is now excited about what we can do for them. A conversation ensues about their business goals… all the while we are sharing examples of results that we’ve delivered for similar clients. The dialogue is a give and take around their goals and our work. The Client becomes more confident we can help them and we talk openly about working together.

We don’t talk about practice areas, geographical distribution, or the commercials and rates. We talk about solving business problems and as such our capabilities are implied by example. As we discuss their goals we begin to shape an approach for working together, during this phase of our conversation I am looking for objections and concerns that may prevent us from getting a deal done. I ask a lot of questions about the decision-making process within the company and I am acutely aware of our clients’ body language and truthfulness.

I seek to resolve any objections or obstacles right then and there… better to get the hard stuff out of the way early than to spend a bunch of time on a deal that can’t or won’t get done… Everyone is happy and now we have a new multi-year multi-million dollar account.

This is how I sell Tahzoo… by reference and by asking questions. There is an old saying that goes people don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care. The great thing about questions is they create interaction… there is another old saying that goes being interested in someone makes you interesting… and finally to quote my grandfather, “there is a reason God gave you two ears and one mouth”. Great consultants like great salespeople take the time to know their clients and they use questions to create energy and change.