Ben Grossman | life's little interests

80% of leaders say their brands offer a superior customer experience. Only 8% of customers agree. Meanwhile, marketers are tortured by the fact that the number one way people learn about and buy from their brands is the hardest one to control: word-of-mouth. In today’s world of new realities it doesn’t pay for brands to stand by, continuing to trumpet their “creative messaging.” After all, 74% of people advocate for brands by describing their experiences with them.

Brands that break through are brands that take action… brands that are more than nouns. Brands must see themselves as verbs. That’s the premise of my new presentation that I just presented at the CSE Expo in Toronto, Canada. In the presentation, I outline five major principles that we have found at Jack Morton drive the high performing experience brands with which we work and a few examples (some our work, some the work of others) that showcase each principle.

So beyond the five principles and the examples, here are a few key questions to ask that can put you on the path to “Brand As Verb” nirvana:

1. Taking Action: Is your organization spending more time thinking about what to post next, or what it should do that’s actually worth posting about?

2. Turning Negatives Into Opportunities: What’s the worst element of your brand’s customer experience as it currently stands? If it’s impossible to change the core of what makes it negative (like KLM can’t eliminate middle seats), what other type of value could your organization add to overcome the negative?

3. Outside In Thinking: Is your organization’s leader one of the 80% that believe you’re delivering a superior customer experience? Get out of your echo chamber by assembling a customer advisory board or fielding some primary research to give you and your colleagues a dose of reality.

4. Helping Advocates Advocate: Many brands say they want advocates, but what could your brand reasonably expect advocates to talk about? Consider realistic advocacy scripting exercises and what experiences you need to create that truly deserve to be talked about.

5. Conversationally Led Planning: What conversations are already underway that you could be part of in an authentic, ‘on the way’ spirit? Before you let your brand’s product introductions (or lack thereof) drive your marketing or editorial calendar (again), consider letting consumers drive what you do next.

If you had to add a section of “Brand As Verb” standards to your “Brand As Noun” brand guidelines, what would they be? What do you want consumers to know, think, feel and do as a result of an experience with your brand?

I am absolutely fascinated by and in love with Amazon’s “anticipatory shipping” patent. Essentially, it will allow Amazon to start moving items to shipping centers that are closer to customers based on their digital body language before they ever click “buy.” In doing so, the retailer will cut days between order and delivery, challenging brick and mortar stores even more.

Evidently, the algorithm would be based on a combination between previous orders, browsing activity, wish lists and more. While the patent has been sensationalized by the media as “shipping you products before you buy them,” it is really just the next level of customer experience and inventory management.

So the brand experience question for brick and mortar retailers becomes: How will you create value above and beyond the immediacy with which you dispense products?

I am absolutely fascinated by and in love with Amazon’s “anticipatory shipping” patent. Essentially, it will allow Amazon to start moving items to shipping centers that are closer to customers based on their digital body language before they ever click “buy.” In doing so, the retailer will cut days between order and delivery, challenging brick and mortar stores even more.

Evidently, the algorithm would be based on a combination between previous orders, browsing activity, wish lists and more. While the patent has been sensationalized by the media as “shipping you products before you buy them,” it is really just the next level of customer experience and inventory management.

So the brand experience question for brick and mortar retailers becomes: How will you create value above and beyond the immediacy with which you dispense products?

The 2014 International CES broke records left and right: more attendees, more (evolutionary, not revolutionary) innovations, and yes, more hype – just ask the estimated 2.3 billion people worldwide who were touched by the stories of CES. Over the past several years, I’ve been predicting a major evolution in what the International CES stands for and who would attend it. This year, I saw that evolution play out.

Making order out of the good, the gadgets, and of course, the “gosh my feet heart,” I was there through it all. The result? My newest Jack Morton white paper, which documents all brands, marketers and attendees need to know about CES 2014.

Making order out of the good, the gadgets, and of course, the “gosh my feet heart,” I was there through it all. The result? My newest Jack Morton white paper, which documents all brands, marketers and attendees need to know about CES 2014.

So are you, like us, already thinking about CES 2015? Here are a few of the top trends we identified to discuss with our clients:

  1. Personal Data Revolution: A robust discussion around the collection and management of personal data was in full swing at CES 2014. Startling news stories leading up to CES – ranging from the NSA’s aggressive surveillance to data breaches at Target, Snapchat and Skype – created a lively conversation about the potential and risks of leveraging personal consumer data.
  2. Innovate Through Partnerships: With the increased pace of innovation and the growing integration of technology into all aspects of life, some brands are finding that the only way to maintain relevance is to partner up.
  3. Technology & Analog Tension: Technology has infiltrated a significant portion of consumers’ lives and with “The Internet of Things” that trend is only set to continue. But any time the pendulum is swinging in one direction, there’s a natural undercurrent pulling it back to the other. At CES 2014, a healthy tension between a technology-laden life and a return to analog living was apparent.
  4. Modernizing Brand Presences At CES: So if everything really has changed as of CES 2014, the natural question is “How should modern brands show up at CES?”

I’ll look forward to seeing what progress the industry makes in 2014 (and of course, the inevitable products that totally fail too). In the meantime, I’ll be planning for January 6-9, 2015!

Loving @Uber’s approach to penetrating a new market with #CES attendees. #effective

Loving @Uber’s approach to penetrating a new market with #CES attendees. #effective

My favorite thing is: “MDX. Three letters that stand for ‘Earth, style and you.’ ” That’s just like, nobody read that over and went, “What do you mean? Why does it stand for that? The letters don’t even match up to that. Why are we saying that?” So, it’s also part of the drunken, lazy ad culture of the ’60s.
Jerry Seinfeld on Acura Commercials
"Designed by French artist Benedetto Bufalino, this picnic table will make any adult feel like a kid again. The oversized sculpture, entitled La Table de Pique Nique, looks just like the real thing but at a much larger scale, standing six and a half feet tall. From a distance, the optical illusion creates a confusing distortion that is hard to understand until people are actually seated on it."

"Designed by French artist Benedetto Bufalino, this picnic table will make any adult feel like a kid again. The oversized sculpture, entitled La Table de Pique Nique, looks just like the real thing but at a much larger scale, standing six and a half feet tall. From a distance, the optical illusion creates a confusing distortion that is hard to understand until people are actually seated on it."

We have to make sure it feels like a service rather than stalking.
Stefan Olander, Nike Head of Digital Sport, talking about the potential of harvesting Nike FuelBand data for personalized marketing and service experiences.
At the end of the day, we’re not just eye-ware designers. We think of ourselves as designing experiences.
Neil Blumenthal
Co-CEO at Warby Parker
Another smart move by @Starbucks! #payitforward and get a cup of coffee: http://bit.ly/19mDiHe

Another smart move by @Starbucks! #payitforward and get a cup of coffee: http://bit.ly/19mDiHe

I think twerking will not be at the YouTube Music Awards, although never say never.
Danielle Tiedt
VP of Marketing, YouTube