Today marks the last day that our headquarters will be at 1005 7th St NW, starting Monday we will be taking up residence in a different office space at 1015 7th St NW- located just down the block.
Many of you may recall when we first got our soon to be former office space… we announced it at our 4th Anniversary party in August of 2014. It was such a momentous occasion to open a “cool” office space and we were all so proud to see our name on the side of the building.
We took over that office as a leap of faith in what Tahzoo could be. We were a small company. It was a big commitment. It was scary and intimidating. And it was totally worth it.
When I think back to all of the milestones, people who’ve come through those doors and the challenges and victories that we’ve faced here I couldn’t be more proud of where we’re going.
I feel the energy changing in the company. It might be slower than I’d like, but its building…We are winning new projects, we are hiring and we’re not sitting around waiting for change- we’re making it happen. But the only way we will continue gaining traction is if we don’t lose sight of the priorities. We need to take care of our clients and our colleagues, we need to be good stewards of our finances and our relationships and we need to continue to be innovators and leaders in our space.
So cheers to 1005 7th St- you were a milestone in our history and I’m grateful we had you through such pivotal years.
I can’t wait to see what new adventures await us in this next wave!
“Learning experiences are like journeys. The journey starts where the learning is now, and ends when the learner is successful. The end of the journey isn’t knowing more, it’s doing more.” – Julie Dirksen
Our business is changing. We are zeroing in on delivering contextually appropriate content and personalized experiences as our core value proposition. As I discussed a few weeks ago, the CMS business is declining and consequently not generating the entrée into large accounts as it has in the past. The launch of MarketerCX last week is a major step forward for Tahzoo. We now have a platform to sell (or at the very least a way to demo) the value of personalization. Although the work that we do is very complex, we need to obscure the complexity for our clients and make it look simple. MarketerCX will show what ‘is possible’ so we can drive the right discussions with our clients.
In concert with this effort, we are retooling the Strategy team. Over the years, we’ve delivered a wide range of strategy services, research, and personalization planning. We’ve consolidated the service offerings into three large buckets: Management Consulting, Personalization Planning, and Digital Marketing Strategy.
The Management Consulting practice is focused on providing the business acumen and financial analysis necessary to support an enterprise-wide digital transformation effort. The work that we did at Starbucks as part of a global MarTech assessment is an example of this work. Darrell and John will be hosting a brown bag session to review the deliverables. It’s great work and important that you see an overview of the work and the quality of our engagement.
The Personalization and Planning Practice is focused on guiding clients through a process to deliver contextually appropriate and personalized experiences. We have broken up the offering by asking four key questions:
How do you understand customers?
How do you understand your content?
How do you build customer interaction models?
How do you define content journeys?
To answer these questions, there a dozen discreet projects in each category that need to be completed. We have developed very valuable IP and market-leading approaches that place us in the leadership quadrant for this type of work.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning software tools are coming to market and are going to radically change our business. I’ll write more about this software space in the coming weeks. In short, these software tools are more effective with a broader range of artifacts and data points to consider. Our personalization practice will provide 4 dimensions for modeling various outcomes, which is well beyond what most agencies can provide. If we can take the lead in this market space, we can keep it for the foreseeable future. It’s an opportunity for a huge strategic advantage for Tahzoo.
The Digital Marketing Strategy and Execution Practice are focused on operationalizing the efforts that are a derivative of the first two practice areas. This team will ensure that we provide critical thinking and ideation around motivating human behavior and driving desired outcomes. The systems and models that we build are quite sophisticated, and our clients will depend on us to run these systems with a high degree of expertise and efficiency. We will do the data curation, segmentation, campaign plan, and measurement on behalf of our clients.
We are moving into a new world; more than two-thirds of our pipeline are strategy-led or include strategy as a significant component of the project. I am thrilled to see this manifesting in our business and with our customers. We need to continue to build the bridges and bonds between our teams and ensure that everyone in the company can articulate our value proposition. At the all-hands meeting in August, I will discuss this in more detail; in the meantime, ask lots of questions and attend the brown bag session.
“One way to meet new people is to listen more carefully to the people you see every day.” – Robert Brault
In Search of Bernbach
As I sat on an airplane and came across an Ad Age ‘interview’ of advertising legend Bill Bernbach, the thought crossed my mind, ‘How would one respond to these questions in the context of the 21st century?’. It proved to be a beneficial exercise for professional reflection – by no means am I setting myself on a pedestal beside the likes of Bernbach – rather, responding became a means to clarify my own perspective. I highly suggest giving this approach a try the next time you find yourself waiting in a terminal or stuck in the middle seat of a plane.
We can glean much from Bernbach – he was named the single most influential person in advertising in the 20th century by Ad Age, but unlike others in the industry, Mr. Bernbach didn’t leave behind an opus in book form. So David Andrew Lloyd took it upon himself to track down the man and “interview” him.
In Search of Bernbach, Advertising’s Greatest Thinker By: David Andrew Lloyd
To learn the secret behind such classics as his Volkswagen “Think Small” ads and Avis “We Try Harder” campaign, I decided I must find Bill Bernbach, the leading force behind the Creative Revolution.
He had the ability to analyze a product’s qualities, and extract its raw personal emotion. He knew a place where he could actually touch the human soul.
With his American Tourister Gorilla as my guide, we traveled over the Mountain of Focus Group Research, through the dark Jungle of Behavioral Sciences and past the Tomb of the Unknown Edsel. Eventually, we found Bernbach in the Valley of Intuition, celebrating his 100th birthday.*
LLOYD: What’s the key element for developing effective advertising?
BERNBACH: The purpose of advertising … is to sell. If that goal doesn’t permeate every idea you get, every word you write, every picture you take, you’re phony, and you ought to get out of the business.
HEIDEMANN: This has not changed; we are here to help our clients drive revenue.
LLOYD: Then how did you justify your radical style of showing empty bottles in ads, teeth marks in Levy’s bread, models without smiles?
BERNBACH: I realized that the growth of television, along with all the existing media, would result in consumers being bombarded with more messages than they could absorb. So the advertiser would have to deliver his message in a different way — memorably and artfully — if he was going to be “chosen” by the consumer.
HEIDEMANN: Ironically, Bernbach’s prediction couldn’t be more true. The proliferation of channels and the distribution of content has only made it more difficult to reach the consumer. Now the consumer has access to information and peer review through social channels that were not possible 10 years ago. This means that content, the style, and type are more important than ever, while the one too many models in which the zeitgeist of the masses was the defining characteristic of success that now needs to be delivered to an audience or segment level.
LLOYD: What was wrong with the old scientific approach?
BERNBACH: I warn you against believing that advertising is a science. Artistry is what counts. The business is filled with great technicians, and unfortunately they talk the best game … but there’s one little problem. Advertising happens to be an art, not a science.
HEIDEMANN: The artistry now is in the experience and not just the message or the content. We need to craft experiences that are contextually appropriate whether that is in the context of a device, channel or the customer’s state of mind.
BERNBACH: The more you research, the more you play it safe, and the more you waste money. Research inevitably leads to conformity.
HEIDEMANN: In an emerging market in which technology is a disruptive force, research only gives you the rearview mirror. In today’s age, innovating around the experience requires agility and artistry.
LLOYD: At least you won’t offend anyone.
BERNBACH: (Laughing) Eighty-five percent of all ads don’t even get looked at. Think of it! You and I are the most extravagant people in the world. Who else is spending billions of dollars and getting absolutely nothing in return? We were worried about whether or not the American public loves us. They don’t even hate us. They just ignore us.
HEIDEMANN: Those numbers are getting smaller and smaller over time. Interestingly, the opportunity to connect is getting larger. Customers are expressing their preferences in more and more specific ways. The ability to deliver experiences and content that are meaningful and relevant will materially impact the engagement of an audience.
LLOYD: So how do you get into that desirable 15%?
BERNBACH: The only difference is an intangible thing that businessmen are so suspicious of, this thing called artistry. … Try riding the bus … and you just watch the people with Life magazine flipping through the pages at $60,000 a page, and not stopping and looking. The only thing that can stop them is this thing called artistry that says, “Stop, look, this is interesting.”
HEIDEMANN: By taking the time to understand consumers at an audience or segment level we have the opportunity to develop experiences and content that exactly meets their needs. No longer do we need to broadcast one-size-fits-all messaging we can speak to customers as individuals.
LLOYD: Shouldn’t market research improve those odds?
BERNBACH: Research can be dangerous. It should give you facts and not make judgments for you… We are too busy measuring public opinion that we forget we can mold it.
HEIDEMANN: Research should be a measure of efficacy and a model for improving the connection between audiences. In today’s world, taking the time to truly understand the expectations and desires of an audience is where research is valuable. In this way, we can begin to craft and refine experiences that are considered relevant.
LLOYD: Advertisers still need to judge their ideas against something tangible.
BERNBACH: I have found, by and large — I know this is heresy — the better the marketing man, the poorer the judge of an ad. That’s because he wants to be sure of everything, and you can’t be sure of everything.
HEIDEMANN: We live in a world of measurement in which the quality of the experience and the content can be measured. Gone are the days when we had an opaque understanding of the efficacy of our advertising, now we can measure to the exact expected business outcome.
LLOYD: Doesn’t it seem logical to test your ads?
BERNBACH: (Grinning.) I’m beginning to believe, incidentally, that logic is one of the great obstacles to progress.
HEIDEMANN: Now that Branding, Experiences and Content can be modified with relative ease, the 21st-century model requires constant attenuation and experimentation. We need to test, but more importantly, we need processes by which we measure and methodically improve the experience by audience.
LLOYD: How do you suggest advertisers make their “guesses” accurate?
BERNBACH: Know his product inside and out. Your cleverness must stem from knowledge of the product. … It’s hard to write well about something you know little about.
HEIDEMANN: Again in the 21st-century model, it’s true that you need as much product knowledge as you can accumulate, however, it is as important or more important that you understand your audience.
LLOYD: Ha! That’s research. Why can’t you admit advertising is a science?
BERNBACH: (Annoyed.) The greatest advances in the history of science came from scientists’ intuition. Listen to one of the greatest scientific minds talking on the subject of physicists. “The supreme task of the physicist is to arrive at those universal elementary laws from which the cosmos can be built up by pure deduction. There is no logical path to these laws. Only intuition can reach them.” The scientist’s name was Albert Einstein, the greatest scientist of them all!
HEIDEMANN: Since the beginning of time, the experience matters and the experiences should be different for each of us.
LLOYD: Nevertheless, clients want to feel secure before spending their money.
BERNBACH: In advertising the big problem facing the client is that he wants to be sure that his new campaign is foolproof. Even we can’t be sure that there are certain things that an ad must contain. They are no more predictable than that a play will be a hit or a book a best seller.
HEIDEMANN: We help companies fish; but mostly we are teaching them how to fish. They spent decades building institutional models of how to drive business which has been significantly disrupted by technology, now they need to learn how to integrate these new capabilities into their business and organizational models.
LLOYD: Can you blame them for being cautious?
BERNBACH: Playing it safe can be the most dangerous thing you can do.
HEIDEMANN: We live in a time of disruption and an opportunity to gain lasting strategic advantages.
LLOYD: It’s their money. It’s their right to make that decision.
BERNBACH: We don’t permit the client to give us ground rules. It’s bad for the client.
LLOYD: Come on, Bill. That’s a bit egotistical.
BERNBACH: I don’t mean to be arrogant, but we have deep convictions about our work, and we believe that one of the greatest services we can give the client is to honestly state our convictions.
HEIDEMANN: I couldn’t agree more – Our clients hire us to give them the honest truth, 100 percent, and just like any relationship, it requires both parties to be forthcoming.
*Answers are actual Bernbach quotes.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR David Andrew Lloyd is a third-generation Bernbachian. His first boss, Chuck Bua, a five-time Clio Award winner, worked under Bernbach at DDB. Lloyd now lives in Studio City where he writes film and TV comedy — because that’s all he can take seriously.
“Employee engagement is strongly connected to business outcomes essential to an organization’s financial success, such as productivity, profitability and customer engagement. Engaged employees drive the innovation, growth and revenue that their companies need.” – Amy Adkins (Gallup 2015)
“The discipline of writing something down is the first step toward making it happen.” – Lee Iacocca
I thought about this quote today because I can feel that we are at the precipice of some big changes in our business; not only are we revitalizing ourselves as a company, refocusing on our core framework, but you could also say that we are in the midst of transforming into our adolescent phase as a company. We are over the immaturity that all businesses experience in the beginning; we have learned a few hard lessons and we are now entering the age of finding our footing and growing with a strong foundation in our values and abilities. With this development as an organization, we must be willing to make changes in the way that we approach our jobs and roles and in helping guide others along with us. I have never been one who settles for less than the best, and this drive keeps me constantly looking towards making improvements in the way that I work with those around me.
This attached document (Skills Acquisition), is an excerpt from one of my favorite books “Mind Over Machine: The Power of Human Intuition and Expertise in the Era of the Computer”. The article/book defines a method for understanding someone’s experience level and how they progress through the learning curve. One of our big initiatives for Q1 of 2017 is a new Goal Setting and Position Expectations form that needs to be completed with each employee and includes a section where you and your manager define your level of expertise with a plan to grow. The skills acquisition paper provides a nice framework for this process.
This framework is also useful for thinking about the systems and processes we’ll need in place to ensure that we can effectively progress ourselves to higher levels of expertise. As a manager or leader in the business (which, believe it or not – you all are) this is also particularly useful to think about the kinds of mistakes employees or teams might make as they are becoming more experienced. It’s important to consider how you’ll teach yourself and your colleagues to act and react in context, without being a slave to rules. Said differently, you must teach them good business judgment, balancing the needs of the client with the needs of the business, and effectively communicating.
It’s important that each of us begin considering how we are going to introduce more people into the business, help them progress in their career, and maintain the Tahzoo culture and values. We should anticipate more mistakes and recognize that junior people will need more structure to maintain the level of quality our clients expect, while more senior people may have habits and practices that will be different from ours. I appreciate everyone’s focus on these initiatives as we mature the Tahzoo business.
Remember, this isn’t just my company – it’s our company – and I hope that you feel the same sense of accomplishment for getting us this far, and the same excitement about the future that I have!
“Statistical thinking will one day be as necessary a qualification for efficient citizenship as the ability to read and write.” – H.G. Wells
The Tahzoo 2017 Strategic Direction
A few weeks ago, I wrote out our mission for 2017 in the Desk of Brad. I thought I’d send it out as a reminder and a pretext for our focus going forward.
Our challenge in 2017 is to make Tahzoo a recognized leader in Experience Design and Delivery. Our results, deliverables, and service must exceed our client’s expectations. We will consistently approach our clients with new ideas about how to improve their business. We will know we are doing well because our clients will be excited about continuing to spend more money with Tahzoo. A consequence of doing these things well is that clients will pay us a premium, and this will be reflected in the financial health of the company.
I’ve been meeting with the leadership team each week to ensure that we have alignment around our priorities and the habits necessary to ensure our success. The following are what I consider our major priorities in the first half of the year. As we closed out 2016 it became clear to me that we needed to reinvigorate our enthusiasm and enjoy a more disciplined approach to reaching our success. See these priorities as our guideposts for measuring our results.
I am excited for the new year… I am still in a California state of mind so please enjoy the analogy. When there is a storm in the Pacific, it generates a swell – the waves begin to get larger over the duration of the storm and then gradually subside to normal levels. When you’d go down to the beach and see big waves breaking, you’d tell you buddies that the waves are “pumping”.
All the energy of the storm creates wind momentum and eventually, waves; let’s call them waves of opportunity. We have invested energy and enthusiasm into our business development over the past year, but more importantly our current customers. Let’s call this a storm of activity over the last year. We’ve clarified our message, built deeper relationships, and expanded our service portfolio; our wave is getting bigger. Let me go so far as to say that the waves of opportunity for Tahzoo are “PUMPING”!!!
It’s going to be a big big year for Tahzoo. So, when the waves get really big you’ll have to paddle harder to get out past the break, but the ride is soooo much better. However, you must make sure you don’t get “caught inside”, meaning that you’ve surfed too far in, or the whitewash of the waves have caught you and you can’t get past the break. In Tahzoo terms, not only do we have to keep up with the opportunity, we need to get ahead of it… better planning, better resourcing, and better hiring. Otherwise, the whitewash from the waves will collapse us onto the beach; this is called “being in the soup”, usually with catastrophic results. We are going to have to work really hard this year, mostly because of all the momentum we’ve generated in the market.
When you’re surfing, believe it or not – it’s easier to learn new things on bigger waves. Essentially, you have a little more time to practice or try new a new trick. We have the momentum to build our service offering and grow within our accounts… We are going to see our experience design business become a leading growth engine for the company. It’s going to be an “EPIC” year!
I spent the evening with an old friend last night, someone who has been like a second father to me. Rick and Jan took me in as a teenager and were instrumental in shaping who I am today. Rick is a remarkable man, he has four undergraduate degrees, two masters and two PHDs, not all of them are in related fields. Among other things, he is a mechanical engineer; we spent years building things together and talking about life. He just recently retired from full-time work and is now making surfboards in his shop. We spent most of last night discussing how we could make his latest invention for body surfing more effective. It’s a buoy that you wear that provides a small plane or fin to stabilize the ride on a big wave. I’ve attached a picture of bodysurfing at Boomers in La Jolla so you get a sense of the size of the waves; it’s my favorite place to bodysurf, and I’ve spent many summers trying to master this break.
Rick is one of those guys who is always searching for ways to do it better. Even if the current model or design is great, he wants to make it better. Rick instilled this idea in me and it has become a part of how I live my life. Even though things are working just fine, I feel compelled to see if we can make it just a little better. I wanted to share this story with you because I know that sometimes it might feel like I am meddling or never satisfied, which isn’t the case, it’s just that I want to make things better.
Tahzoo’s business model is changing and it’s for the better. We’ve been preaching the need for a better customer experience and the market is finally catching up with us. Our customers are asking for help in creating and delivering experiences. We spent the first few years working on our technical competencies and now we need to ensure we have the same level of expertise on the experience design side. As with all new systems, we will design it and continue to tweak it until it’s perfect. Most important to me is that we don’t have two sides of Tahzoo, but we are one company that helps our clients deliver fantastic customer experiences. We are being engaged for ideas, our strategy, our creativity, and our technology.
I just finished reading the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Biography “The Notorious RBG”. She is an amazing woman, who over time has had a huge impact on all of us. She has been the champion for the right of individuals and the rights of women in our society. As I read her book, there was a clear theme about making consistent, incremental progress towards lasting change. We are going to be making changes and steadily improving the company to take advantage of the market opportunity. There was a quote from RBG, “figure out what you want, then go do the work”. That phase has been sitting with me for the last week and has stirred my thinking considerably. We are going to be recognized as the world leader in Experience Design and Delivery. Now that we know what we want, we just need to go do the work.
Wishing you all a relaxing and joyous holiday season. Looking forward to doing the work to make Tahzoo the best it can be.
“If you would attain to what you are not yet, you must always be displeased by what you are. For where you are pleased with yourself there you have remained. Keep adding, keep walking, keep advancing.” – Saint Augustine
My challenge to each of you is to make Tahzoo a recognized leader in Experience Design and Delivery. Our results, deliverables, and services must exceed our client’s expectations. We will consistently approach our clients with new ideas and surprise them about the many ways we can improve their business. We will know we are doing well because our clients will be excited about continuing to spend more money with Tahzoo. A consequence of doing these things well is that we will command a premium for our services and this will be reflected in the financial health of the company.
We are creating something that doesn’t exist. We are winning the trust of large accounts and doing work that is innovative and on the cutting edge. We need to keep pressing our advantage of driving change within our company and the market place. For our size, we are having a big impact on the direction of the market. With our current customers, plus what we have in the pipeline, we are poised to have a breakout year. Let’s set our sights higher and be bolder in our ambition to change the customer experience.
“To be successful, you have to be able to relate to people; they have to be satisfied with your personality to be able to do business with you and to build a relationship with mutual trust.” – George Ross
The Power of a Network
I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed for the B2B Growth Show, where we discussed 3 Things You Need to Understand About the Experience Economy. To create some variety in this week’s communication, rather than a written piece, today I invite you to listen to the podcast and share your thoughts.
As Tahzoo prepares to participate at SDL Connect and DX Summit next week, we’ve been ramping up our content and social channels to build brand visibility. Your personal and professional network is a valuable addition to those visibility efforts. I encourage you to visit the below resources and share that content that stands out or speaks to you with your social networks, and to also follow Tahzoo.
Whether you have been with us since the early days, or just started this week, my hope is that you’ll find the ever-expanding content to be informative and useful as you grow your career here. And, if we haven’t already connected, feel free to do so on LinkedIn and Twitter.
I’ve just finished a wonderful book called Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg. He spends most of the book articulating how to be more efficient and effective in your life. The book details the psychology and cognitive science around motivation and achievement. Many of the techniques and mental models that are described are habits that I’ve unwittingly cultivated over the years.
As a young salesman, I learned that success in sales was primarily a function of persistence. Dedicating oneself to a big goal and then breaking down the individual steps required to achieve that goal and not giving up no matter how hard things get. Some people say that you’re limited by the size of your dreams, my belief is that it is only partially true, you also have to have the ability to commit to a path and stick with it.
We recently achieved some great results because we set a big goal but then broke down the steps into manageable and achievable sub-tasks on a daily and weekly basis. As I’ve learned from my colleague Tom in the Agile development process, if you can’t describe how you’re going to accomplish your task within a week or two of work then you’re likely guessing at what needs to be done or how long it will take.
We’ve had some great results in a short period of time, which I chalk up to persistence and consistency in our approach. The Desk of Brad, which I write weekly for our team, is another example of persistence. I encourage each of you to set an aggressive big goal and then break it down into digestible parts… If it works for you let me know how you’re doing and how I can help.