#3 lessons for the brand looking to succeed with the customer communications.

Let’s make an assumption, you’ve chosen the right technology that has all the features and functions that you need to deliver your communications to your customers. That’s a challenge in itself but, it’s been covered countless times, so we’ll assume you have some great tech to work with.

The technology vision that you buy in to can be very enticing. In reality your marketing team is made up of people and that means challenges. Your team is never static, new people join, others leave, people have bad days, people have different skills, people don’t follow the rules, each person is different. Technology aside, getting ‘it’ right is a big people challenge.

I want to look at the three biggest learning’s I have from working with marketing technology.

#1 Technology is best at automating low end tasks

There is a misconception that marketing technology will automate vast elements of a marketing department. It’s a compelling sales tool and there is some truth to it - small features and great UI design have really simplified the marketer’s experience. However, adopting marketing technology, to leverage some of the new and exciting ways of engaging with customers, often requires more effort than previous ways of working. Let’s pause for a second; yes technology can require more effort as new possibilities and capabilities are introduced.

I’m yet to see the person-less marketing department, and we wont. We need the creativity that is provided by humans to differentiate our brands. What it can do is automate a lot lower end tasks.

Don’t fall in to the trap of attempting to downsize because you know have some new technology in place. It should certainly deliver efficiencies, and it may fully automate and remove some administrative activity. However, it should be viewed as an exceptional tool for your marketing team.

#2 Invest in appropriate change management

Change management is the transition from your current way of working to a new way of working.

Given some of what we have discussed and the rapid growth of the marketing technology industry it can safely be assumed that the technology you will implement will have a significant impact on your way of working. Many engagements I work with are adopting a specific type of technology platform for the first time; or at least making a significant step forward from aged systems, due to the rapid pace of change in technology capabilities.

Therefore, significant care needs to be given to your approach to change management. Here you may think I’m going to talk about processes, documentation and training. That’s wrong; change management is cultural. It’s mostly about communication, emotions and knowledge. In other words...people!

I once worked with a large retailer that had such an active (and positive) approach to career progression, the average time a staff member would be in their role was approximately 12 months before they moved into a new role. Appropriate change management was essential to implementing the right technology and generating the right return on investment.

Here are some considerations for implementing change:

-       Identify a marketing technologist. This shouldn’t be the team member lumbered with the technology problems. This role should be front and centre. Scott has referred to it before, it’s become a more prominent role, and hitting board level for some forward thinking companies. Make sure that you do the same.

-       Change management takes a long time. It is not a handful of training sessions or a how to user guide. It will take months, possibly years. Be prepared to invest time, listen and adjust. Rarely is anyone right first time, be humble enough to realise that

-       Think about bringing in professional support, they are experienced and will be able to provide capacity without disrupting your business as usual activity. Change management is the most valuable activity, and if you aren’t successful you won’t achieve the return on your investment in marketing technology.

#3 It's a cycle that needs continually feeding

Realising return on investment takes time, often many marketing cycles. How long is that in your organisation; 2 weeks, 2 months, 2 quarters, 2 years?

In that timeframe, consistency, rigour and diligence are required to make sure the technology works and evolves with your needs. You, and your team, need to be patient whilst you achieve results.

Marketing is a cycle, that continually needs feeding. Technology enables us to feed that cycle more efficiently. However the real value is the insight and creativity provided by the people in your team. To make the most of your marketing technology re-invest any efficiencies in the best people you can. If you thought technology was delivering you significant benefits, having the best pilots at the controls will accelerate your marketing outputs like never before.

To conclude, we all have the access to the same technology it’s how we use it that will differentiate our brand and captivate our customers.

If you want some independent, impartial help implementing your technology. Get in touch at hello@team6ix.com

My Review of Creative Operations 2018

My Review of Creative Operations 2018

Last week I attended the Henry Stewart Creative Operations Conference in London. Henry Stewart is renowned for their DAM conferences, and now they have brought some of their experience to ‘Creative Ops 2018’ which attracted a broader range of delegates and prompted different debates. Henry Stewart does a good job running conferences and the venue, agenda, timings, and the food was all excellent. Which gave us a chance to focus on the interesting debate. Here are my top 5 thoughts (in no particular order):

  • The wide spectrum of views. The crux of the conference was to debate how to blend outstanding creativity with the real world challenges of delivering large volumes of relevant content to the consumer quickly. It was fascinating to listen to the wide range of views in presentations and panel debates. Listening to one panelist talk, any form of processor technology restricts creativity. Whereas a lot of discussions an debate focussed on how technology and process support and enable organizations to be more creative. It was great to listen to such a broad range of perspectives. I guess, wherever you are on the spectrum, that represents some of the challenges that we all face working in the global advertising industry.

 

  • The Creative Alien. I was midway through the conference when my colleague and I remarked how all the conference delegates talked about ‘Creatives’ as if they were aliens. What I mean is that Creatives seem to be marked out as different, aren’t fully understood and handle with some apprehension. I don’t have the answers to why people talk in this way about creatives, however, the divide cannot help an organization operate efficiently or effectively.

 

  • The Star of the show. My favourite presentation was from Farfetch. The Farfetch story is a fascinating one. In 10 years, Farfetch has gone from startup to a $1bn company. In the process, it has managed to innovate and ensure the user experience is superb. I particularly liked how their creativity in leveraging technology was helping them improve their customer experience. In this case, the use of AI within their DAM solution to enrich the creative content that they have available for their customers.

 

  • Most enjoyable talk. Matt Hitchcock of Sky Gaming gave an eloquent and insightful presentation on ‘being a workplace superhero’. Matt's presentation was engaging and funny whilst tackling lots of the challenges of running a creative operation in a large company

 

  • My final take away. It is not a case of Creative or Operations, they need to coexist. With different emphasis at different points in the content journey. Ideation can, and should, happen free from the restrictions of process and technology, whereas global campaign execution is impossible without the support of established processes and capable technology. As we move downstream in the content journey, the need for technology and process intensifies.

Team GBs Agile Approach

Why all agile teams should look for marginal gains

Sometimes I wonder what is more competitive; Professional sports or the international business world. Significant projects succeed and fail on the smallest margins just like the world of elite sports.

Undoubtedly, one of the success stories of Rio 2016 was Team GB. It strikes me that the corporate world could learn a lot from Team GBs approach over the last 20 years.

I know there has been a lot written over the past month or so about Team GBs astounding success in Rio. However, indulge me to recap a few pertinent points:

-       In Atlanta 1996, GB won just one Gold Medal

-       Team GB have increased their medal haul every Olympics since

-       Team GB won medals in Rio across a wider range of sports than any other nation, including medal toppers USA

-       Team GB is one of few nations that does not provide cash bonuses to medal winners. Italy for example award Gold medal winners $189,800

What I love about the Olympics, is that most athletes, even if they are at the top of their sport, are not in it for money. Even millionaires like Andy Murray and Justin Rose forewent lucrative events to prepare foe and participate in the Olympics.

That isn’t to say there’s not money in the elite sports funding. Quite the opposite, Team GB were one of the best funded teams. The difference between success and failure is how that money is used.

In elite sports, it seems almost everything has been tried before. As a result, performance differences between athletes at the highest level has become so small. That’s why the extent of Team GB successes is remarkable.

I’ve been interested in the theory of Marginal Gains since reading Sky’s The Limit - a book by Richard Moore charting the success of Team Sky. For those of you that aren’t aware, this is the theory several marginal performance increases are much easier to find than a single significant one. Yet, the net effect can be the same, or once the marginal gains mind-set is adopted, much much greater.

There are some great examples of how this has been put to use at Team GB. The boxing team for example conducted a sleep review of all its athletes, and by making small adjustments to the sleeping environments were able to add 24 minutes of sleep every night. Some deeper insight in to some of the other can be read here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/olympics/37150155

It seems insanely obvious that we can learn a lot from this approach in the business world. But how?

There is a subtle, but vast, difference between meddling around trying to improve and strategically identifying marginal gains that can be a strategic advantage. Here are my tips:

1.     You must have a crystal clear objective. That might be to provide a better service, increase profit, lower operating costs or improve staff morale. However, it needs to be clear and precise. Team GBs cyclists, were not just trying to improve, they were trying to win Olympic golds. In doing so, they somewhat sacrificed their performance at the World Track Cycling Championships in London, in order to peak at the Olympics.

2.     You must have a stable base line. Inconsistency and lack of standardisation is the enemy. GB cycling would simply not be able to measure performance improvements if they were all on different bikes, or trained at different times of the day. Therefore you must understand your status quo and can then think about identifying small improvements

3.     You must have a routine. That could be time bound, say a weekly schedule or campaign/project driven. You must have a period of time that enables you to reflect and asses what works and what doesn’t

4.     You must stick with it. You must keep doing the things that work. It all falls apart if you introduce one marginal gain but drop another. Ultimately, this discipline is what sets out the winners from the losers.

I’ve been considering this deeply, and it’s impossible for me not to notice the similarities between Agile methodologies and the approach above. Agile does not deliver marginal gains but, it certainly creates the perfect environment to adopt them and become a highly performing team. A rethink of your marketing and technology approach may be the key to your success.

 

Does agile really work?

The first time I studied agile methods I was inundated with warnings that whilst the methods worked, stakeholders buy in was close to impossible. ‘No one will commit to a project without a defined deliverable’ they said. Everyone warned me how hard it was to implement the change.

 

As it turned out, the initial implementation in my organization was easy. No one cared how we worked, or what we called it. A team of us began to change processes, implementing artefacts and ceremonies, nearly all of which are still alive and kicking today. We begun recruiting people that had experience in Agile and all of a sudden a movement was underway. There is so much passion and advocacy within the agile community it really is quite easy to change the culture of the operational teams with some small adjustments. Those most affected by it, I mean really affected on a daily basis, seem most open to it. A meeting at 9am every day, where you have to stand up, no thanks! It shouldn’t have been an easy sell but it was.

 

So, end of story, an easy win right? Not quite. Those business stakeholders that didn’t care as processes began to change, started to take an interest. They found that the previously easy to persuade developers or product managers weren’t so easily persuadable. The back doors to sneaking in a new feature for a client began to close as the teams realized they were accountable for actual deliverables. The result was that ‘the business’ had to take note, and play ball by our rules.

 

Our troubles really emerged once we’d embedded agile. Suddenly we had to deal with ‘I cant tell my client that I don’t know exactly when this will be finished!’. Very quickly there was a lot of pressure to disrupt the teams that had demonstrated the highest levels of productivity in months, probably years.

 

Herein lies the problem with agile. Convincing the troops is easy, changing the process often generates little resistance. However high pressure, client driven goals will test the resolve of development managers. Revenue is king and a trump card that often undermines the cultural change that is needed to make agile work. Agile takes time, a long time for people to let go and trust the results. Often many years.

 

Do you have the patience to see it through and the strength to tackle the strongest objectors?

 

 

Our New Website Launches!

Welcome to our new website! We're proud of the work that we have done here, especially as it's been built in-house and with a budget of zero (Squarespace license aside). We love it when things are easy, and we also like to share any DIY tips that we come across. So, as we launch the site we thought it would be great to share how we did it. 

Here are the tools that we used:

  • Squarespace. www.squarespace.com
    • Squarespace is a wonderfully simple and easy to use tool that incorporates professionally designed templates and a great integration with Getty Images ensuring that you have an extensive library of high quality photography to give your website the look and feel you want. It also includes registration of your domain name.
  • Unsplash. https://unsplash.com/
    • Unsplash is a source of free high quality images, that gives you an alternative to the integration with Getty. The built in integration with Getty is great but it isn't free, costing about $10 per image. Unsplash gives you a limited library of high quality images. We hope you like the ones that we've used.
  • You Tube. www.youtube.com
    • At Team 6ix we've got more knowledge than most on Content Management Systems but, we aren't often using them ourselves directly. Most importantly, you may be daunted using a tool such as Squarespace, WordPress or Drupal. Squarespace is one of the easiest but, you may still want some help. Youtube is full of tutorial videos. Our favourite was the father/son combo by WebsitesMadeSimple. If a 9 year old boy can do it, I am sure that you can

So now it is your turn. Go on, its not as hard as you think....