system two

system two
start-up thinking in the enterprise

Friday, 28 May 2010

I tell my clients they should never simply repost stuff....

but with TED....I just can't help it...this talk on education is genuinely inspiring

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Can't watch iPlayer via the WiFi on Virgin trains...

The T-mobile WiFi service on Virgin trains is routed through Germany - it means access to the iPlayer and other content is blocked (also means you see google in German - which is pretty annoying for us, parochial, mono-language luddites...)

£10 for a days' access?

For a service which barely works, is in German when it does, and doesn't give me access to content I should be able to enjoy

Come on Virgin - sort it out...

The inflation game....

To solve the problem of soverign, corporate and personal debt - either the US or Europe must take the pain of inflating the west’s way out of the crisis. For several months now I’ve been wondering when the game of macro economic inflation chicken would begin. Finally. With increasing evidence of sustained growth - it seems to have started. We can now see political leaders manoeuvring on both sides of the Atlantic (but seemingly more aggressively in Europe) to manipulate the markets into forcing the other side into the firing line.

Although the rules of the game are relatively straightforward, their practical application is an incredibly dangerous political tightrope on which to walk. Nevertheless, both sides of the Atlantic will participate. The size of the prize (running your economy with lower inflation and higher growth compared to your nearest competitors) is simply too great not to have a go.

For the losers – the economic zone left holding the “higher currency bomb” - once growth kicks they get to import even more inflation via more expensive imports, with their export sectors simultaneously hit by the same high currency.

So how do you play?

Well, first of all you need spineless, dithering, self serving politicians who have little or no sense of decency or shame, who are prepared to roll their sleeves up and really get stuck in.

Frankly, on this basis alone, the US may as well go and grab a shower now. “err….Mr President….we need to add a few things into today congressional speech about the economy……” The US were foolish enough to elect someone with a partially working moral compass and a desire to bring decently and humanity to politics…how naive….

We on the other hand we in Europe have been much more sensible. We’ve put people like David Cameron in charge and even had the good sense to weaken his position, by placing him in a coalition with people who detest him, giving both parties the chance to blame lack of economic good governance on the other…...genius - who knew the electorate could be so clever?

Next, you need the aforementioned self-serving, partially educated PR team, to gently, but persistently work to undermine your own currency to the point where the markets devalue you against the other side, without precipitating a full on run. This was done very competently throughout the election by the Conservatives, particular by that odious little turd, George Osborne (someone who exudes lazy, ignorant, mis-placed self confidence with remarkable ease). George was able to point out on a daily basis throughout the campaign, the fragile nature of our economy and the massive cuts he’d need to instigate to bring us back form the brink.

Nice one Georgie…we’re nearly home and dry!

Even the Germans are getting in on the act. Angela Merkels’ brilliantly clumsy talking up of Grecian and Euro zones woes a couple of weeks ago, although seemingly a horribly amateur turn in a field of pros, suddenly was put into context as the French waded in hours later to contradict her – a work of political genius – not only knocking the currency but cleverly adding a “we’re f**ked and we also can’t agree” garnish – bravo!

The game of course is long and hard – and we are only seeing the opening salvos. None of us should underestimate the stakes however. Forget short term volatility, medium term growth or longer term fiscal issues. Whoever loses the game of macro-economic-inflation-chicken, bequeathes their country a generation of lacklustre growth, high unemployment andasset value erosion.

Who said getting the Tories was a bad thing?

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Developing a content strategy....

Many of my clients struggle with content. Content drives the conversations we're trying to create in an earned media strategy. Together with data web marketing and a listening and engagement plan - content forms the basis of any brands usage of the social web. Without it we are mute. And yet the development of a plan can leave the most forward thinking and courageous of clients running for the door.

As Mitch Joel points out here - most brands are now publishers, and great publishers devote a serious amount of time and resource to the creation of their content. The days of hoping a few blog posts from PR every now and again would cover it are long gone. Now listening and engagement strategies (as much as insight driven from planning and research) should drive an hourly news cycle for brands. See the Gatorade "mission control" clip below.

There is absolutely no doubt now that for most brands to be effective in a connected world – the quality, frequency and variety of the content they generate, needs to be on a par with anything that a conventional media organisation might publish. CMO's might differentiate - users don't.

This from a McKinsey Quarterly Report...

"Traditional marketers spend about 60 percent of their budgets on “working media” (or paid placement), 20 percent on creating content, and the balance on employees and agencies. Digital channels, with their social nature, reverse these economics, focusing on a smaller core of engaged people who can spread positive impressions, or simply share information, with a broader audience. Active digital marketers tend to devote about 30 percent of their marketing budgets to paid media and 50 percent to content. Customers do more of the heavy lifting as they decide what to look at, play with content, and forward it to their online communities. We have found that by making the right investments, active digital marketers can spend significantly less on marketing as a percentage of sales, with little to no deterioration in performance." full report is here

At a practical level, the most common error is to start with the tools – don't get distracted by whether you should be "writing a blog" or "posting on youtube" or "getting a facebook account". Tools will change - the need to engage your users will not.

Instead - go back to your research, your segmentation models, your personas, need state analysis, customer journeys, techno graphic profiles and KPI’s. Figure out what content your users want – what will inform, delight, entertain and engage them – what will make them talk (and say the right things) about your brand…then be as imaginative as you can with the different media options you have at your disposal.

Once you have a grip on user need - you are then in a far better position to know how to re-engineer internal systems, reallocate marketing budgets, source new suppliers to generate the content, recruit the right people, upgrade your IT systems and re imagine your marketing to become a publisher.

As a starter for 10, I've jotted down potential sources for your content below - to try give you a sense of the wide range of places you can search for content gold


Once you have a grip on type, manner and approach - some sort of systemised approach is critical initially to make sure processes and systems become embedded. The neat summary above, from an excellent presentation here covers the basics. Notice the dynamic integration with SEO and the related disciplines of correct metadata and tagging. Without giving users the chance to find stuff, any work will be in vain.

Happy publishing....

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

The intangible value game....

This TED is brilliant. Insightful, witty and amusing. But somehow I felt I was being entertained in a burning Rome.

My issue isn’t so much with the morality of advertising (although I have strong personal objections to much of what goes on in our business). Where the argument for intrinsic value creation falls down for me is in the numbers. Most of us know the advertising game has always been fun, dynamic, high risk and (relatively) well paid - working in strategy is as close to being paid to gamble in a Casino as anyone with half a brain is likely to get - my concern is the game has changed. That technology has rendered it unwinnable.

When the wisdom of the crowds can lay waste to any carefully constructed brand essence in seconds, where is the economic rationale behind capital being committed to build brands?

The business case for branding is simply no longer convincing. As users become more connected, more self aware and cynical - cold economic logic suggests that investing in (what I call) commodity clubs, simply represents a better economic bet.

Put another way. If an organisation

-    provides a great product or service people still need when money is tight, at a reasonable price
-    ensures if they source raw materials from poor countries, that they make the lives of the poor people they work with better
-    treats its staff and shareholders with respect
-    endeavours to minimise the environmental impact of its operations (and has a plan to reduce them to 0 or better still, actually improve the environment)
-    contributes in other ways to the wider (and local) community
-    accepts blame willingly when things go wrong

Why does that organisation need a brand?

I'm trying to not enjoy being an ad man....this isn't helping...

Monday, 24 May 2010

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Cognitive bias...

Cognitive Biases - A Visual Study Guide by the Royal Society of Account Planning

Excellent document - but slightly depressing - given the number of different types of bias I could recognise in my own behaviour!

Monday, 17 May 2010

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

(Inter)nationalise facebook...

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Daily/Colbert - Internationalize
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

For a while facebook has been the de facto platform on which we have been building the social world. Recent announcements suggest it might become the platform where we build the semantic world of the future - a world of data.

Given this and the fact that these services are so fundemental to society, so key to the way in which we now (and will) function as human beings, it can't possibly stay in private hands.

It must be (inter)nationalised.

It is simply too dangerous to leave that much data - that much insight - in the hands of a private company. We in the UK should know - we have Experian - a business which by a quirk of fate, has access to private data in the UK which authorities in Europe and elsewhere would never begin to countenance (that access I would argue was one of the primary (and as yet undiscussed and undisclosed) reasons for such a severe financial meltdown in this country. Leverage was built on top of Experien data - and their faulty analysis of it).

If the general population was as aware of the power and sensitivy of the data they were sharing on facebook (as they are of their tax or health records) - there would be a mass migration away from the platform. In fact I would go further and suggest it is in facebook's interests to be at least part privatised, to legitimise the key aspects of its business model, and insulate it from more vocal calls for (inter)nationalisation.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Dawkin....API's......Data.......I'm in heavan......

Darwin's Finches, 20th Century Business, and APIs

View more presentations from Sam Ramji.

Key takeaway..."the API is successful if the application that carries it is successful..."

Friday, 7 May 2010

BP....most certainly a brand, not a commodity club...

Read a post on Boing boing and it struck me that in my original post here I missed perhaps the biggest "brand" of all....

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Riz is a genius....(again)

As usual - everything that Riz touches - turns to gold....

Brand and earned media...where you build a marketing strategy from....

The saying goes....

If you're a builder, you solve every problem with a hammer.

If you're an academic - its a document.

If you're me - you see everything as overly complex to be made simple....

So when it comes to marketing and brand - I only really have 2 models. 2 simple ways of thinking about what I consider are the critically important aspects of marketing. The ones you really can't do without.

  • brand
  • earned media

I don't mean everything else (offline, bought, advertising - all the other concepts, channels and categories one could throw up around marketing) aren't useful at a practical level - they're just not as important as brand and earned media.

brand - my model based on "primal branding" - 7 areas - creation story, creed, icons, rituals, pagans, sacred words, leader

earned media - 5 stages to think about - listening, content, applications, support, data

The rest is subdordinate to this. Subjective. Someone else point of view.

Brand and earned media...where you build a marketing strategy from....

A good day trawling the deep web - downfall remade - brilliant...

Design genius...

Social Media Revolution 2 (Refresh)....can we vote on the music for the next one please?

V. interesting update on the hugley popular clip.

And the clip which takes the piss out of ad execs using fat boy slim in their pitches (skip to 3:35 if its too painful..)

No one is going to read your blog...

Roughly 30-50 people read this blog every day. It is very unlikely this number will ever rise. The reasons (lack of original thought, style etc) aren't important. I actually write another blog for my psychotherapy studies which only my tutor has access to. Its only for me. Only for personal reflection. A diary.

The reason I blog, and I think millions of others do to, is because somehow we know the process of refining and distilling our thoughts is useful to us. Not for our careers - hate that f**king word and concept (why in god's name would anyone chose a "career" over living, loving, hanging out with their children?) Baffles me...But for us. For us as people. To make our own worlds richer, more interesting.

Seth Godin calls it meta cognition. He's usually right....

The public sector cash pipe.....

A friend who heads up the marketing for a decent sized organic food retailer, was detailing some of the shocking headline figures her business was trying to cope with. Double digit declines in sales, massive staff redundancies, huge cut backs. Businesses shrinking to their bones - and many not surviving.

Her expereience seems to be in sharp contrast to that of other friends in the private - and public sector. But then organic food is alone - "fully private" if you like. A sector which receives virtually no government support, and is fully dependent on discretianary spending. They've not been shielded from the reality of our continent's fiscal position. Other sectors, whose bottom line is, in part, helped by direct or indirect government cash have been luckier. The ad agency with the juicy NHS trust PR gig, the printers who have the council contract, the garage which maintains the fleet of police vehicles.....

Once the government cash pipe stops pumping - probably at around the same time as a relief well is dug in the Gulf - it is these "part private" enterprises which will be tested.

How much of these businesses are built on easy, poorly accounted for government cash? How much of our economy is built on an embedded, 35 year old psychology that governments (since the decoupling of the dollar from the price of gold in 1973) could keep printing cash

10%? 30% 50%.....70%?

From experience, I suspect many part private businesses are bloated and inflexible - in as poor state as their public sector counterparts - and the loss of government contracts will be the end for them. How much of what we now consider to be fully private businesses - the pizza chain in the Mall, the high end clothes retailer, the garden planning much of their trade is based on a generation's assumption that the life they were living was "real" - when in actual fact, all of us have been being subsidised by virtual money for nearly 40 years.

How many people do they employ? How much virtual money were they contributing to the exchequer? What happens to a country when 30% of us are out of work? What do we do?

We're just about to find out.

Its election day

The last bottle of wine at the money printing party has been quaffed. The sun is coming up. The party is over.

The unavoidable consequences of 30 years of printing money are just about to kick in....