Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Top Five Learnings from High Tech & Social Network Geeks

I attended a very interesting session this past week sponsored by Cox Media and this week, I am dwelling in Seattle with the leadership of Microsoft and Google.

First… The Cox Media folk…

My Cox Media contact told me initially that the morning offsite was going to be all about online advertising and marketing. It turned out to be mostly about SEO and website architecture.

The session was close to three hours long.The person making the presentation was the Cox Media SEO corporate expert. From my perspective, the guy was a true tech geek.

Geeks right now are cool… in some circles.

About three-dozen folks attended the session.

I was the only “consultant” attending… the other individuals were all “clients.” Most carried a title with the word “marketing” in it. A few were the owners of their small business or community group.

The first observation actually further reinforced a broader observation I make of many in marketing today… there is a profound belief that consumer behavior can easily be boiled down to predictable patterns that can be further influenced and molded to lead to purchase engagement.

Just like our communication boils down to “0s” and “1s,” there is a belief that human behavior is modeled the same. There is a breed of Techie Geeks who view the scope of market to entirely exist within the world of the web and social media.

Two things this geek guy shared I found surprisingly, very interesting!

The first thing he shared was that SEO, in its historic model dynamics, will soon be history.

I am sure that a number of you reading this Blogl-ogue think of SEO as having to do with the use of the right words and content in a website that will then generate a “higher-post” on the Google search page.

Sites that match up more closely with the “right” content words generate more clicks.

To be honest, this type of modeling always bothered me.

I have worked with clients that are more hell-bent on using the right words more so than presenting the information in an emotionally, engaging way.

Several of my clients about shot me when I told them to scrap all the wording on their website and express their brand experience more in pictures.

Announced a few weeks ago, Google is doing away with word use as a priority factor and replacing it with actual time spent and the degree of visitor website engagement as the determinant factor in just how high up a website gets listed on the search results page


What a pleasant surprise. Audience interest guiding what’s best versus word matches.

The second thing he shared was that the website experience is actually more important than the mechanical architecture of the website.

Wow… and that was coming from a tech geek.

He spoke about the presentation of information in the format of dialogue. He talked about ways to build elements of “excitement to read / hear / watch” content that would generate a response to read / hear / watch more.

I really, really hope that individuals attending the Cox presentation heard these two points… however, my bet is that they still are dwelling in the mechanical elements of their SEO-Website-Self-Proclamation of the past.

Onward to Seattle!

Let me first say that I am not out here dwelling with the Google and Microsoft folks to glean high tech insights.

I am actually out here in Seattle exploring how a financial institution can reach out more effectively to engage the high salary geek Millennials. They are, after all, coupling, nesting in a place they call home, and stowing away investment funds to pay for their college degree and future retirement.

I conducted close to 40 one on one interviews today about banks and banking. More than 2/3rds were interviews with Google and Microsoft geeks and geek management.

Here is what they said that surprised me.

They hate the BIG BANKS.

They love the idea of a “small town” bank.

They love the ad concepts that were simple testimonials.

They seek out personal, in-person interaction with a REAL person.

Here in Seattle, there’s a Starbucks or an Indie coffee house on nearly every corner.

I also noticed a lot of bakeries. Even “mom and pop” shops.

High Tech. High Touch.

That was coined more than 30 years ago.

It’s alive and well.

I also visited two large outdoor shopping complexes located within a stone’s throw from Microsoft’s corporate office where there was a half dozen home furniture and home good stores. The sales people told me that the geeks love the country, casual, comfy style the most.

Marketers are you reading this???

Last part of this blog.

In today’s WSJ, there was an article titled: “Social Media Fail to Live Up to Early Marketing Hype.”

Here are some quotes from the article…

“Fans and follower counts are over.”

“Social media are not the powerful and persuasive marketing force many companies hoped they would be.”

“Gallup says 62% of U.S. consumer say that social media has no influence on their buying decisions.”

“Nielsen found that consumers find television, radio, print and outdoor billboards to be more ‘trust-worthy’ than social media ads.”

I’ll never forget attending a big social media conference and a young lady wearing the title of “VP, Social Media Strategy” from one of the BIG (and expensive!) NYC ad agencies was the speaker.

Her client was a large CPG — Consumer Packaged Goods — food client.

She spoke for more than hour about the modeling and the engagement and the detailed insight that they did with their social media “like” members.

I finally asked her, “How many people are we talking about?”

The answer: 38,000 people.

I then asked what market share of the category her client had built and approximately how many consumers made up their U.S. market.

Her answer: 25 Million people.

Enough said.

Here’s my perspective of what all this is saying to us in the marketing field…

(1) People are people… not machines.

(2) Pictures communicate a thousand words and the words play a minimal role

(3) Engage… not educate

(4) High touch is hot
(5) Emotionally connect … unless the right side of the brain clicks… Poof… gone!

CEO & Discovery Chief at EXPERIENCE Insight Group, Inc. In the business to discover and craft brand experiences that humans seek out and engage in.