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, 

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!

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 

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, 

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.

Evolutionary Thinking, Revolutionary Results

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” – Rob Siltanen 

Evolutionary Thinking, Revolutionary Results 

I’m a big fan of evolutionary biology. I’m fascinated by the thought of the very first single-celled creature evolving out of the primordial molecular stew and eventually evolving into higher forms of life able to see, smell, hear, touch and taste the world around them and to produce tangential thinking on the order of the Theory of Relativity. As single-cell creatures began to reach a point of perfection or complete competency, the next step was to evolve into multi-celled creatures and begin to divide up the labor of life. Cells began to specialize around specific functions, processing food into energy, or protecting the organism from harmful parasites or viruses. As these specific functions became more sophisticated, they began to evolve into entire systems like the digestive system, the limbic system, and the brain.   The fact that I am able to write this thought and convey this idea is the result of some serendipitous chemical chain reaction that began billions of years ago is just truly mind-boggling to me. It’s all just chemistry! I love it. 
In many ways, technology is following a similar path. On an evolutionary scale, however, computers are not even in their infancy. We are still within arm’s reach of the very moment of conception. The first single-celled systems have developed, and the Internet has become a sort of central nervous system connecting all the various subsystems into a sentient being. With the addition of artificial intelligence and machine learning, computers are becoming able to speak, listen, see, and, yes, even to think and to learn on their own. 
The practical application of technology to business is modeled out the same way. When you think of the idea of an individual system providing a discrete experience it’s like the first steps in specialization consider an email marketing application as an example. We are now helping our clients evolve their business process and brand into a holistic system that includes all of the discreet systems within the Enterprise. We have been calling this the Enterprise Marketing platform for some time but really, it’s just the next step in the process. At Tahzoo, we stand at the forefront of that evolution. We are among just a handful of companies who are harnessing all the power of that technology and combining it with the very best data science to create or should I say evolve? A digital experience that thinks and behaves more like true human beings to help brands connect with their customers in ways that were not even possible just a decade ago. 
Tahzoo is part of the evolutionary continuum and we are leading the way to the future. It’s really exciting to me and it should be to you, too. 
Let’s go be great, 

What is CX?

Don’t let the fear of losing overtake the joy of winning – Urban Meyer 

What is CX and why should you care? 
I’ve been preparing for a speech that I am looking forward to giving at the Marquette University Digital Summit next week. I am working closely with John Kottcamp and Andy Myers to crystalize Tahzoo’s position on what we’re are calling the Experience Economy. 
Our thesis is that Experiences will be the currency of the modern age. We are making a pivot from the age of consumerism to the age of the experience. This idea is that the focus on consumption and accumulation of things is giving way to experiences. People are spending their money and time on experiences and then sharing them through their social networks. The proliferation of devices with cameras and social networks have profoundly reduced the cost of sharing our experiences. Imagine that 100 years ago, you’d have to write a biography and hope that someone read it. Now, almost for free and instantaneously, everyone can participate in the narrative of your life. This is the new way to achieve status among your peers The New Currency. 
As a consequence, companies need to focus as much or more on the experience they provide then they do on their products. Tahzoo is well-positioned to support our clients as they embark on this transformation. I will outline our principals for experience design in my presentation. I look forward to sharing the full speech with you in next week’s desk of Brad. In the meantime, follow me on twitter @brad_heidemann and the event @mudigitalsummit during the summit for updates.