Hiring a booth babe is SO, SO wrong, or not.

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Companies still do it. They hire “booth babes” to work the stand, attract punters and scan badges. They are paid per scan. Yes it is still that shallow.  Here are 3 reasons why this is a bad idea, and 1 reason probably it isn’t.

NO: Qualified leads, not any lead

Every time you scan someone it is another lead in a database to be qualified. The best time to qualify the lead is when they are standing in front of you. Not 1 weeks after the event by email or constant chasing them by phone. Use staff who understand your products and your customers on the stand.

NO: Attracting the wrong people clogs up the stand

If you have hordes of people wanting to talk to / oogle / be seen next to the booth babe then it is stopping genuine potential customers get to your stand to register their interest or get more information.

NO: Wrong image of your company

Is this really supporting the brand values of the company? If it is, like GoDaddy or Wheels and Heals magazine then fine. But for 99% of you it probably isn’t. It doesn’t help you recruit customers, partners or employees.

YES: Brand awareness through selfies

If you want to shamelessly get your brand out there. Cash in on men’s weakness to be seen with attractive women plus the trend for selfies. Set up the booth babe taking selfies with punters where the company branding is very visible in the selfie, either on the model’s skimpy clothing or the background. BUT only if it supports your brand values.

The image is from the “Wheels and Heels magazine” stand – so probably on-brand.


The power of social media: good & evil

A simple mistake by a Sainsbury’s employee who put a poster aimed at employees, to encourage every shopper to spend an extra 50p, up in a store window would have been a local issue 5 years ago. Realising their mistake it would have been taken down and forgotten, with perhaps a little ribbing from colleagues and a dressing down from their supervisor. Not now. Social media amplifies everything. The good and the bad. The blunder was spread around the social universe with the hashtag on Twitter until it was picked up by a national newspaper, in this article,  which supercharged the social media force.

Here is the offending or offensive poster.

Sainsburys 50p

You no longer own your brand. Your consumers & enemies do

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In this video, it explains why the power is now with the consumer. You  no longer own your brand when your customers or enemies have the power of social media in their hands.

One misquote by the CEO can send a brand into freefall as Gerald Ratner discovered in 1991.

Although widely regarded as “tacky”, the shops and their wares were nevertheless extremely popular with the public, until Ratner made a speech at the  Institute of Directors on 23 April 1991.During the speech, he commented:

We also do cut-glass sherry decanters complete with six glasses on a silver-plated tray that your butler can serve you drinks on, all for £4.95. People say, “How can you sell this for such a low price?”, I say, “because it’s total crap.”

He compounded this by going on to remark that some of the earrings were “cheaper than an M&S prawn sandwich but probably wouldn’t last as long.” Ratner’s comments have become textbook examples of the folly of making fun of, and showing contempt to, customers. In the furore that ensued, customers exacted their revenge by staying away from Ratner shops. After the speech, the value of the Ratner group plummeted by around £500 million, which very nearly resulted in the firm’s collapse.Ratner resigned in November 1992 and the group changed its name to Signet Group in September 1993.

Screen Shot 2013-05-18 at 14.05.03Michael S. Jefferies,  the slightly overweight and un-cool CEO of Abercrombie,  made it clear about the focus of his brand in an interview in 2006, but has resurfaced and now with the power of social media has gone viral.

“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” Jeffries said in the article. “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”

This has unleashed a torrent of abuse, calls to boycott the stores, and affirmative action as the video below shows.

America’s Cup team reveal their secret weapon #americascup #social

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In this fantastic video it shows the Emirates Team New Zealand team understand how to maximise the power of social media. But they also understand that these videos need to be done properly. It is not hacked together on an iPhone after a few beers. They also showed that some of the top sailors are pretty good actors and can just about keep a straight face. 36k hits and climbing.





Ambush marketing. Way cheaper, way cooler and way more fun than BIG BUCKS marketing

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You could pay a “kings ransom” or “an arm and a penis” for the marketing rights to a huge event, such as the Olympics. Or you can spend time thinking and being creative. Something that is being called guerrilla or ambush marketing. It won’t make you popular with the organiser or the main sponsors but it will with your customers.

A brilliant example of this was Dr Dre at the 2012 Olympics. The story is worth reading, but Tom Fishburne has captured it perfectly in the cartoon below. However, before you write this off as a quick stunt that got lucky you need to understand the thinking that went behind it.

Planning an ambush

Like any good ambush it requires a real understanding of the ‘prey’, careful planning, patience and immaculate execution.  What has made it possible is that marketing has evolved to where the brands are owned not by Don Draper, but by the consumer. And brands that really get this mindset change will do phenomenally well.

Ambush marketing banned

The London Olympics wanted to protect official sponsors, so they orchestrated an historic ban on ambush marketing. Parliament made ambush marketing illegal with stiff penalties. A bakery was prevented from having buns shaped like the Olympic rings. Olympic cafe had to change its name. Almost 300 enforcement officers were checking firms to ensure they are not staging “ambush marketing” or illegally associating themselves with the Games at the expense of official sponsors such as Adidas, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and BP.

So how did Beats by Dr. Dre, a headphones brand, beat the ban? They were everywhere in the Olympics. Every time you tuned in, athletes were wearing them. Every time you looked online, people were talking about Beats.
Ambushes require audacious thinking

They took a look at the Olympics from a different angle and realised that many of the athletes needed to focus whilst warming up and wore headphones to drown out the noise. So they created custom national headsets in the colours of all of the competing teams and provided them free.

Ambushes require meticulous planning

They then thought about consumers and built a campaign that wasn’t about the headphones. It was about the consumer expressing themselves through the headphones: “Everybody has something that makes them one-of-a-kind #showyourcolor.” And they built everything around the #showyourcolor theme.

Ambushes require timing

And then like any good ambush, they waited. Athletes started wearing the headphones with very visible colours when warming up, a time when they were still enough for the cameras to be on them. It worked!!

And it spread from athletes to consumers. You couldn’t miss it. Samsung may have been the official sponsor, but Beats owned the better insight and better story. And to add insult to injury for the official sponsors the IOC endorsed the approach “There is a difference between someone using equipment with a logo and someone promoting a brand”.


Social media changes everything – including the marketing department

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Everything is different

Like most things everything in life, getting results requires purposeful practice. Getting social media right is no different. Sure the world of social media is still evolving. But one thing is clear is that marketing can no longer “control the conversation”, it must “join the conversation”. Which requires a completely different set of skills, attitudes and metrics.

A step into the unknown

This is potentially very unsettling and threatening. For many marketing departments this is a step into the unknown. Results take longer, if indeed you can even connect the actions with any meaningful results. And as marketing teams are under pressure from sales and senior management to “show their value”, social media is seen as way too risky.

But those who get it right can be hugely successful. But to get it right a company needs to be VERY clear on what it is and what it wants to be associated with – i.e. which conversations it wants to join. And this is probably the biggest challenge is agreeing on the target market that is the focus and personality that marketing want to convey for the company.

A great example is RedBull. They have said that they want to be associated with high adrenalin sports; mountain biking, skiing, sailing, air races etc. The video clip below shows how well it can work. The video has had 22,324,942 hits. But the video has an extremely talented rider and the filming is exquisite. Not something knocked up on an iPhone one lunchtime.

A clear strategy required

And this video is part of a highly orchestrated marketing strategy which covers events, PR, social media sites and sponsorship. Social media is not a separate strand of marketing which can be kept discrete. “We are doing social media” is as ridiculous as as “We are doing email”.

And finally, it will change the way the front office and potentially back office processes will operate. If someone tweets, blogs, comments on a video or posts on Facebook how will you respond? If it is positive what do you do the spread that “positivity”. If it is negative what do you do?

Leave the office, now

This is a time for marketing directors to take some time with the CEO, COO and Head of Sales to think about how social media can potentially supercharge brand recognition and lead generation. But is all starts with the question “What is the company and what does it stand for?” But to answer this question you need to be away from the turmoil of day to day activities and mobile phones.

And based on the video, I’d suggest the Isle of Skye would be the perfect place to meet.

Is Microsoft paying $1.2bn to put lipstick on a pig?

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There has been a great deal of debate about whether social media inside the workplace is a fad or delivers real business value.  There are several reasons why social media has got such bad press.

The moniker “Facebook for the enterprise” has not helped, as Facebook is seen as a great way of wasting time outside work. Secondly, the “make it available and it will be used” implementation approach, or “provide and pray” as it is called, is successful in less than 10% companies. Finally, the lack of strong ROI driven case studies put social well down the pecking order when it comes to strategic investment.

But the market has just had a huge validation. Yammer was acquired by Microsoft for $1.2B. That’s ‘B’ for billion. Yammer will be tightly integrated in Microsoft Sharepoint.

“Microsoft Sharepoint is where people do work. Yammer is where they talk about it. Although Sharepoint has the ability to allow this, its interface is not as user-friendly as that of Yammer,” says Richard Edwards, an analyst at the international research company Ovum.

Taking risks

From where I am sitting Microsoft’s Yammer strategy is a risky punt.  There are 3 key risks which could scupper any chance of success:

  • Firstly, any collaboration in the workplace needs context. The discussion must be about getting a problem solved (ie part of a process) or improving a process. Therefore a tight integration with a BPM platform to give a process context is critical. Yammer does not have this.
  • The next issue is that few companies have a clearly understood and communicated set of end to end business processes. But many major corporations are now working on this as a priority, driven by a compliance need, competitive pressures or a move toward shared services. So there is often no process context.
  • Finally, those processes need to be adopted across the organisation. Without end user adoption and a mechanism for continuous improvement, what is documented and what is actually done will rapidly diverge.

So implementing a social product before you have got a real handle on your operational processes is simply putting ‘Lipstick on a pig”.

The hierarchy of marketing…..has changed

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The hierarchy of marketing has just gained another level. It costs less money, but requires more effort. And in the new world it is starting to be the only way to effectively market some types of new product and service.

  1. BUY  – advertising
  2. BEG – PR/media
  3. BUG – sales calls
  4. EARN – publish great content / “brand journalism”

What changes are we seeing?

The biggest change is EARN websites look more like newspapers with interesting articles to catch the attention…. like this one…. rather than product brochure-ware. Also great content is free.

If you are a PR company then you are seeing an attrition as companies divert PR budget (BEG) to social media (EARN) initiatives.

If you are a salesman you need to think about how you EARN rather than BUG.

Finally, why would you pay for advertising, other than for brand awareness?

Social Media is here to stay for consumers but the business is still establishing the real requirements

Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, 4Square et al) are now at the heart of consumers’ lives. And now their corporate equivalents are rapidly making inroads into corporations.  But there is a fundamental difference between consumer requirements and those of enterprises.

Social media for consumers is like a chat “down the pub”. It is a great way of catching up on news, gossip and mates.

Social media for companies MUST BE a better and more efficient way of working. But there are 2 perspectives; tapping social media to listen to what the outside world (customers, analyst, press, competition) are saying about the brand; and internally engaging and empowering employees and partners.

But a question I am often asked is “What is social media?”  So the video below gives a current perspective, with some staggering statistics.

The next question is “What social media applications are there for business?” Currently there are a number which are getting high levels of awareness. But enterprises need to look beyond the hype, the early stage pilots to start to establish what is really required.

The one requirement for social media is it is to enable employees to  get their job done more easily, more quickly and more effectively. Therefore a standalone social media application, ie without business activity/outcome context, is just idle chatter;  an electronic watercooler conversation. Social media promises so much more than that so expect to see the standalone vendors partner with ERP, CRM or BPM applications to get that context.

So the players….

  • Chatter is offered by CRM vendor Salesforce.com
  • Yammer is a standalone player
  • tibbr is now teamed with Nimbus Process Mapping/Management after TIBCO acquired Nimbus
  • Jive is another standalone player.

Interesting times lie ahead.

Understanding Social BPM (or at least setting some context) #socbiz #social #bpm

Often the problem with widespread adoption of anything is ‘what is it called’ and ‘what will it do for me’.

Social software in the enterprise and particularly when related to BPM, coined SocialBPM is in this camp.

Nimbus does not sell a social software platform, but has implemented a 3rd party application internally and is actively looking at the market requirements for SocialBPM. So this is  my  perspective rather than a thinly veiled sales pitch. So, please read on.

SocialBPM was explained by Elise Olding in a recent research paper, which sadly is only available to Gartner clients, called “Social BPM: Design by Doing”. She did a great job of starting to explain what SocialBPM by highlighting 2 very different perspectives, to which I have added a 3rd, which I have described below with some of the issues I see.

1. Social by Design: Collaboration around process improvement

Example: The process for getting a client case study developed and signed off.

This is the discussion between people about how to improve a particular step or related content in a process flow. The initial discovery of processes is often in workshops, but once deployed and executed, then it is critical that there is a feedback mechanism so those actually using the processes can identify issues or suggest improvements. Typically this is ‘send the process owner an email’.

With SocialBPM the discussion is all linked to the automated or manual process step, related document, form, system, metric or compliance statement. Feedback could be simply a rating, or it could be suggesting improvements. To make it work, the collaboration needs this structure, and the recent Harvard Business Review article Want Value From Social? Add Structure echoes the point. The structure is the connection to a process or process related content. Also, this should be as simple and intuitive as using Facebook. After all 750 millions users can’t be wrong.

Simply starting a discussion topic called “How do I get a case study written’ and hoping that people will pitch in or ‘swarm’ may help to get the case study written, but is not the best use of valuable resources. Someone may suggest the correct way of doing it, or perhaps sidestep some critical governance steps. But it certainly won’t improve the overall collective intelligence of the organization or help others who have the same problem in the future.

This was at the heart of my article Social technology is lipstick on a pig. So until the “Yammer crowd*” (Yammer, Jive Software, SocialText, CubeTree, …. ) genre of social software, which is ‘standalone social technology’, is tightly integrated into BPM modeling and execution software it is making life worse not better in the long term. Although for some end users it feels like short term pain relief. But for others it is yet another place to check for messages.

*I have used Yammer as an example as they have managed to raise their profile very effectively as “Twitter for the enterprise”, but there a large number of software vendors with social functionality with Jive Software leading the pack in terms of revenue according to Gartner’s research paper “Magic Quadrant for Social Software in the Workplace” which lists the top 40 vendors.

2. Design by Doing; Collaboration around ‘getting a job done’

For example: The team working to get the case study for a client, Novartis, created and signed off.

This is not about improvement, but getting a number of people together to get a particular problem solved – ie a specific instance of a process. It may be the desperate, ad-hoc fire fighting to get a problem fixed or it may be the normal step in an orderly process which requires a collaborative effort. In both cases social technology can reduce the friction, but also include what might be described as the “unexpected experts”. The person whose role, job spec, position in the organisation and biography does not suggest their expertise and the value that they can give. This is the hidden value that social networking software can uncover, provided it is instrumented correctly i.e. the right metrics are being collected for later analysis. But there is another important aspect to this form of collaboration.

These discussions are more than just discussions or chatter  – they are on-line meetings – with decisions and actions. So any social networking software needs the capability to create, assign or track actions. Otherwise these critical discussions are no better than the quick coffee machine or corridor conversations. Interesting, but they don’t move the game on. Again the current software offerings are still evolving and many still don’t have the full range of capabilities to really be effective.

This is the area where I am seeing most implementations and the business case for “social is the new way of working – forget processes”. Which sounds so refreshing unless you are in a regulated industry or have compliance requirements. So that excludes food, pharma, oil & gas, financial services and any US quoted company with Sarbanes Oxley demands. Ouch!!

3. Social Network: Social networking within the organization

For example: The Wednesday evening mountain biking club in the UK office

This is using social software to enable better social connections within the organization, but it also has a business benefit. We are all now subjected to internal email spam. Distribution lists and inconsiderate use of CC means that we are included on emails that have no relevance.

In the example, I may be a member of the UK office, but actually work from home most days and have no interest in mountain biking, but still get the email each Wednesday afternoon telling me where they are going and when they are meeting. I don’t care. It is not relevant. But I don’t want to be taken off the “All-UK-employees” distribution list. Our own internal implementation of social media eliminated 7% of email in the first month.

I have heard suggestions of “no email Fridays” to get people into the habit of posting to the social media app rather then turning to email. Now this is one area where the “Yammer crowd” do have the functionality, but it is hard to make a business case for a global rollout on the basis of better social interaction at work.

Unformed and uninformed

The challenge is that this market is unformed and uninformed. There are case studies and business cases which show how the benefits of social software in the enterprise. But few of these cover the SocialBPM angles described above, or if they do they are short term fixes masking longer term problems. What is clear is that cloud based social software is being “brought into” (ie being setup and used) organisations by stealth by business users, with the CIO unaware until a problem occurs or a license fee is required to get control of the data.

So, organisations need to start defining what they are trying to achieve and therefore what they need from a social software solution before they pile in with a ‘limited trial’ that suddenly becomes the defacto standard, running roughshod over formal process and procedure. Now I am not a process bigot. I welcome innovation, but also understand that governed process has a vital part to play in driving up the effectiveness and performance of companies.

Social technology has a vital part to play, but needs to be dovetailed into the fabric of the organization and ‘implemented’ correctly. Not another bolt-on fad.

Why social technology is lipstick on a pig #bpm #socialbpm

Companies entire BPM approaches are being built on staff collaborating to improve processes.  Some critical elements to this

–          Process mapping application supports live workshops rather than detracts from workshop.

–          Process content displayed via end user web application that has collaborative capabilities (social) when allow discussion linked to a process, document, metric.

–          There is a streamlined approach to driving any change through the change cycle so governance is not a barrier to innovation.

So SocialBPM is not new… it is collaboration.  The way it now looks (a la Facebook, Twitter) is new.   Mirroring that interface will engage thousands more individuals in organizations who would normally run at the mention of the word process. My blog Are you the victim of process discrimination described the problem with process.

Some customer stories to bring this to life and make it real ( BTW Head over to Chris Taylor’s BPM for Real blog for some great customer insights)

Avaya: process discovery workshops using webex for remote SME (subject matter experts) around the world and local teams together in workshops. The business case for the collaborative software was based on saving cost of airfares/hotel/travel

UTi Pharma – heavily regulated but wanted to innovate to improve. SocialBPM capabilities within a governance framework allowed innovative suggested for improvement to be implemented which still maintaining regulatory compliance

Carphone Warehouse: 1,800 processes deployed in 6 months using store managers as SMEs, then they established a Center of Excellence to focus the collaborative efforts from both front and back office staff, as you can hear in the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wnvgbc3uGfU

New Balance:  Ran live workshops but didn’t deliver the results initially as they had no way of capturing and locking down the improvements , described in first 40secs of this video  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SodU0wIfuZU

So in summary:  Collaboration is made easier (crossing geographical / time boundaries) with the right technology.  But simply implementing a social tool in the enterprise (facebook, twitter, yammer) won’t help improve business processes sustainably across the business.  It will simply allow subsets of people to “chat” about how they get around the lack of clearly documented processes.

This is like putting band-aid on a major wound.  Or lipstick on  pig.

SocialBPM – the faster we go, the further we go in different directions? #social #bpm #socialbpm

Social + BPM seems like a winning combination. Technology is enabling collaboration to improve processes and get the job done spanning geographical, time and inter-company barriers. Think of it as a form of crowd sourcing. Engaging customers, companies and suppliers  – the entire end to end process – to deliver better results.

Nirvana (innovation and empowerment) or a potential train wreck (chaos, compliance failure)?

I have been encouraging business users to take control of the definition of their own processes, rather than abdicating it to Business Analysts or IT Analysts as they have for years. 14 to be precise, which is how long ago I founded Nimbus. Nimbus Control is easy enough to be used by end users, not business analysts or process professionals. There is clear evidence in client after client that we have achieved that.

But, Phil Gilbert from IBM has gone so far as to claim that IBM Blueworks is so easy that everyone should just “start mapping”. To me that sounds like a recipe for disaster. Everyone creating islands of process. Disconnected. Uncoordinated.

But a Business Process Competency Center (BPCC), as Gartner advocates or Centre of Excellence (CoE) is a way of putting some structure around the mapping work. Again Phil Gilbert has something to say here. “Kill the Center of Excellence“.

The new level of interest in BPM offers an opportunity to harness the passion and energy of the entire organisation. True crowdsourcing. But crowds need leadership, guidance and direction. Hence the critical importance of a BPCC or CoE.

We should look to other successful crowd sourcing activities for guidance. Probably the best known is Wikipedia.  Wikipedia is not a free for all.  The founders of Wikipedia set some structure, guidelines and rules. After that they let people fill out the structure. They delegated ownership, yet kept overall control.

Both these principles Nimbus Control supports.   But remember with Wikipedia there is no requirement for different Wikipedia entries to gel or fit together. No need to satisfy regulators or auditors. For processes to really improve business performance as a whole, they work they need to work end to end, spanning departments or even companies seamlessly.

So, whilst I applaud Phil Gilbert for raising the profile and discussion around end user driven process management I cannot agree with him on his approach.

If I did that, we’d both be wrong.