Archives for posts with tag: Stakeholder Satisfaction


Generally, I record my book reviews on Goodreads but this book by Tony Schwartz was so close to the core mission of BatesHook that I wanted to share it with a wier audience.

The basic premise of the book is: “The furious activity to accomplish more with less exacts a series of silent costs: less capacity for focused attention, less time for any given task, and less opportunity to think reflectively and long term.”

Below are a few of the big ideas that resonated with me:

” Rather than trying to get more out of people, organizations are better served by investing more in them and meeting their multidimensional needs in order to fuel greater engagement and more sustainable high performance.”

“We think of leaders as “chief energy officers.” The core challenge for leaders is to recruit, mobilize, inspire, focus, and regularly refuel the energy of those they lead.”

“Our core emotional need is to feel secure – to be valued and appreciated. The more we feel our value is at risk, the more energy we spend defending it and the less energy we have available to create value.”

“When we default reactively to telling negative stories, we almost invariably assign ourselves the role of victim. It feels better not to blame ourselves for disappointments, but the victim role undermines our power to influence our circumstances. The alternative is to intentionally look for where our responsibility lies in any given situation – and then take remedial action on any part of it that we’re in a position to influence.”

“The key capacities of the right hemisphere – creative and big-picture thinking, openness to learning, and empathy – are a largely untapped source of competitive advantage, both for individuals and for organizations.”

“Deeply held values define the person you aspire to be. They’re what we’re rooted in and what we stand for – an internal compass that helps us navigate the storms and the choices we all inevitably face.”

“There’s a deep disconnect between what many companies say they stand for and what they actually do. This disconnect takes a toll on employee engagement, on productivity, and ultimately on organizational success.”

“A new way of working ultimately requires an evolutionary shift in the center of gravity of our lives – from “me” to “us”.

This is a mature book, deeply rooted in research and real-life examples. It’s for anyone that feels that we’re in the middle of a transformative revolution and doesn’t have an internal blueprint how to work and live in/with this new reality. The content is not limited to workplace issues, it deals with the much bigger issue of becoming a better person and leading a fulfilling life.

Highly recommended.


2011 will be the year when co-creating and collaborating through Social Media will begin to become more important than using the channels or people as messaging tools. And Customer Service will be become the transformative force to deliver on this promise.

Many enterprises we talk with consider this as their highest priority. They understand the need to improve quality of their Customer Service.

Changing from defensive to pro-active Customer Service is a natural adjustment to the changes in our daily behavior. We don’t care where service comes from (Customer Service, Marketing, Clerk, etc.), we just want good service.

One of the key changes will be pulling Customer Service out of the dark alley into the light of transparency. While many companies started to listen to customer expressions, they still try to take the conversation “off-line”, “off the grid”. They treat customers like parents their kids when they have an adult conversation: “Nothing to see here.” This paradigm will be reversed in 2011:

  • Customer Service will become public. Utilizing the channels to spread the word about good experiences. And providing a psychological barrier for each stakeholder to deliver sub-par service. It’s tough to perform badly in public.
  • Enterprises will reverse their strategy from passively waiting for customer feedback to actively looking for it.
  • Customer Service will be moved (figuratively and literally) from the edges of the enterprise to the center. This will require organizational changes that will impact each division and stakeholder.

All these changes will finally help delivering on the promise of “Service as Marketing”.

It’s going to be an exciting 2011.


We’ve heard it many times before: Customer Service is the new marketing. Books have been written about it, presentations given and blogs are filled with this insight. And, most executives understand the importance of delivering supreme service to their customers? Given all that, why are most companies still delivering sub-par Customer Service? Why are we still dealing with phone trees, scripts, badly designed forms? Where id the disconnect?

Most companies are not designed to deliver on the ‘Service as Marketing’ promise

David Armano wrote an insightful post “Social Media Marketing won’t fix your infrastructure problem.” He explains:

“Every business has a series of systems and infrastructure in place to keep it running. Even if the goal is to EVOLVE the communications/marketing arm of your organization because you fundamentally believe that the game is changing—there is no way to do it without picking up the hood and looking at the engine. Not just the oil or the windshield fluid level, but the ENTIRE engine.”

While many marketing departments are evolving and trying to tap into the power of Social Media, the rest of the enterprise continues to work under the old paradigm of Customer Service as a cost center. The much lauded @ComcastCares can’t hide the fact that Comcast as an enterprise doesn’t value their customers as much as they should. Or as Jonathan Salem Baskin writes in his brilliant column titled “The Twitter Tax”

“Tools like Twitter aren’t some dream of customer empowerment, but rather the nightmare reality of the broken relationships between consumers and brands. Responding to online complaints is a tax that companies pay because of the chronic mismatch between what consumers expect from brands and what they ultimately get. An individualized response might momentarily bridge the gap, but it won’t fix it. Never will.”

While I encourage companies to listen and respond on these new channels, the highest priority of companies should be to work on the basics – and improve Customer Service to a point where no more complaints will be expressed and employees and more focused on helping people, less on servicing them. (Just in case you need a few stats to convince the decision makers in your enterprise: Among customers who leave a customer interaction angry, 91% will never come back and 96% of those people will never tell us why they left)

It requires a corporate-wide rethinking of all customer touch points: phone, email, forms, attitudes. But, most importantly, Customer Service Departments have to transform from cost centers to profit centers. No, I’m not talking about up-sell scripts.I’m talking about improving loyalty and customer satisfaction. It requires the design of a new enterprise system that puts Customer Service at the center of all activities. This allows companies to regard each customer interaction as an opportunity to deliver a superior experience and be sincerely helpful.


I love going to my kid’s school.

I feel very jealous every time I walk into their premises.

I see a few kids huddled around a table, working, co-creating, collaborating, exploring, changing the world.

They have circle time. Everybody shares, no egos, no titles, just being themselves.

Each day they start out with a blank slate. No history, no legacy, just the present.

All the tools they need (Paper, crayons, glue, scissors) are waiting for them. Ready to change everything.

Books and books and books ready for them to read, absorb and mash-up in their innocent minds.

And, when they have recess play time: It’s on. They just play. Because that’s what they are supposed to do.

When are we going to play?


“When we are narcissistic, we are not on solid ground (earth) or thinking clearly (air) or cought up in passion (fire).  Somehow if we follow the myth, we are dreamlike, fluid, not clearly formed, more immersed in a stream of fantasy than secure in a firm identity.” – Thomas Moore

Mediocre brands love to talk about themselves. Just like the dull dinner companion or date that can only talk about him or herself. It’s hard to escape a dinner date, it’s easy to escape mediocre brands. I just tune them out, throw their stuff in the garbage, don’t even see them.

Great brands talk about what they believe in. What they are passionate about. What they love. They take a stand and tell you what they’re standing against. Sharing with the world what your really believe in is inspiring. Sharing a passion with the world makes people want to connect with a brand. It’s so much easier to connect with people when you share your real identity with the world.

What is your brand passionate about?


Unless you lived on the moon, you realize the global economy is struggling because most corporations are not constructed to produce any real value. They are designed to maximize shareholder value while stakeholders are getting squeezed to improve the bottom line and introduce as many efficiencies as possible. Add to that corporate welfare, Fed and Treasury policies, regulations (or lack thereof) and you end up with a toxic mess of an ongoing banking crisis, mind-numbing landscapes of mini malls, toxicity in assets, the environment and the overall capitalistic world we are living in. And, while people are crowding the bargain bins, corporations continue to develop cheaper ways to satisfy the need for the bargain. Interestingly, when you produce a mediocre product/service (create thin value, as Umair Haque calls it), the price is all what matters. When you create real value/thick value, price becomes a tertiary consideration. Call it awesomeness, call it being amazing, call it being a linchpin.

With a few, rare exceptions, advertising has focused on creating thin value. Rather than inspiring people with marketing for products that add value, most of marketing/advertising is focused on brainwashing people into buying stuff that makes no difference. Just another item I can use and throw away/forget about effortlessly without considering the implications for the rest of the world. (Labor Conditions, Environment, Export/Import Structures)

Now, let’s look at the advertising/marketing industry. It’s not a dying industry but an industry in deep trouble. We are not considered partners, we’re just another vendor that sells questionable value. Media Buying has become a commodity, media planning to follow soon. The people we market to are busy tuning us out because they don’t feel marketing creates any real value. While we continue to communicate to people as they were still consumers, they are busy producing, communicating and building networks. We have commoditized our industry to death, starting to hop on a dangerous death spiral. Just like the whole economic system.

Advertising is just one pillar of the economic system we’re living in. Advertising can’t change the world or make it a better place. But, as part of a new economic system, advertising can be an inspiration, an artistic expression of the paradigm change. As an industry, we need to focus on the drastic changes the economic system is going through. We can safely say, the end of creating slim/thin value for profit is fast approaching. No matter how good your strategies/tactics/ideas are, unless you create real value for society with your products and services, you will fail in the long run.

My headline “Why advertising professionals need to be economic professionals” didn’t imply you need to watch Bloomberg all day, read each article in the WSJ or get a degree in economics. Most of what you read or see there is just an expression of times almost passed. All of us need to understand that our whole economic system is transforming and changing into something much more substantial, sustainable and human. Advertising is just another expression of this change. Please work, create, add value accordingly.


This post was first published on Jack Myers’ MediaBizBloggers site.

Last week’s Monaco Media Forum with the theme “Mobilization” was a fascinating event filled with superstars of the media, advertising, VC and emerging technologies world. As usual with conferences of this magnitude, the most insightful conversations took place outside of the main event center.

It is pretty apparent that the advertising/media industry continues to optimize ways delivering relevant messages to people: Data warehouses, behavioral targeting, and contextual targeting – you name it. While the powerhouses of that industry shared the main stage, emerging technology providers and VC’s are starting to build new tools that focus more on the intent of people.

Advertising faces a race to the bottom: studies have shown that the least desirable customers click on ads and paying people specifically to look at advertising is likely to catch lower income people with time on their hands – not a good option for marketers. Sure, we’re getting better at delivering relevant messages to people but the success rates of our marketing efforts are fairly low and the privacy questions comes up more often. Which leads us to the question: Where are we going from here?

The Intention Economy

A more effective way of engaging with people is to build tools that engage both parties (customers and vendors) in ways that work for both. While CRM systems are very one-sided in their benefits, ask vendors to bear the burden of the whole engagement and don’t allow customers to engage on their own terms, VRM systems (Vendor Relationship Management) help customers to be equipped with tools that transform them from followers in the marketplace to leaders. Let me give you an example:

Location-based apps are the big craze in the emerging media world right now. I visit a place, check-in and the marketing tactic is to receive special offers from the place itself or competitors. The VRM idea would be different: It’s noon and I plan on going to lunch in 10 minutes. I declare my intent to restaurants within a specific radius, even specifying my budget and the size of my party. Restaurants have now the opportunity to engage with me during the next 10 minutes to send me specific offers, based on my intent. Clearly, brands have a real captive audience for a limited amount of time and don’t need to waste any advertising inventory with guesswork.

VRM used to be an intellectual framework, nothing more. The Monaco Media Forum convinced me that entrepreneurs are starting to buy into this concept and building the necessary tools to bring VRM to life. I saw apps and sites that are based on the VRM model, and I’m convinced that the end of data collection for advertisers (Foursquare, Facebook) is near. The future is bright and the future is based on intent.


Brands often consider creating communities on their site or social platforms. It sounds so appealing: You create a community and now you have an easily accessible group of people that you can engage and converse with.

The problem is: You can’t create communities

Think about your local community. It wasn’t created by plopping down a Starbucks, Target or a local snack shack and then hoping for people to show up. Communities are places where like-minded people can come together. That’s why you have art communities, food communities, religious communities – you name it. And that’s the reason why certain stores and brands don’t work in your community because they don’t understand the mindset of your local world.

In the digital space, brands often consider communities as a place to be worshipped by people. Instead, online communities are places where like-minded people hang out and, if you’re really lucky and doing a great job managing the community, where people can interact with brands and tell them how to do a better job delivering their product/service. At the minimum, brands need to help communities do what they want to do. Brands need to give people something concrete to gather around for. You have to kill your corporate hubris and believe that participants in your community can actually improve your product/service. Foster discourse and an open exchange of ideas.

Tap into the need of people to be heard: People have transformed from passive consumers to active collaborators and co-creators of the products and services they produce. These principles help you tap into the power of communities by developing a foundation of trust, motivating people to become more active participants and providing access to peer group knowledge and skills. It requires a lot of work and community management to tap into the power of communities. You don’t create communities, you merely help them get things done. On their terms. Based on their needs. Not yours.


Image: Courtesy of Pentagram

You go to a big party and you meet them all: The life and soul of the party, introverts, couples just focusing on themselves, party poopers, the networker, social butterfly. Brands are a little bit like people. Some are meant to be social, some are better off just hiding in their corporate office.

Let’s face it, most people don’t care what a company thinks about things. Do you care about Mercedes-Benz’ mission statement?

We invented the automobile – now we are passionately shaping its future. As a pioneer of automotive engineering, we feel inspired and obliged to continue this proud tradition with groundbreaking technologies and high-quality products.

“We invented the automobile – now we are passionately shaping its future. As a pioneer of automotive engineering, we feel inspired and obliged to continue this proud tradition with groundbreaking technologies and high-quality products.

Our philosophy is clear: we give our best for customers who expect the best – and we live a culture of excellence that is based on shared values. Our corporate history is full of innovations and pioneering achievements; they are the foundation and ongoing stimulus for our claim to leadership in the automotive industry.

The principle of sustainable mobility underlies all of our thoughts and actions. Our goal is to successfully meet the demands of future mobility. And in doing so, we intend to create lasting value – for our shareholders, customers and workforce, and for society in general.”

Are you still awake? This might be important to employees and stakeholders of the company. But as a buyer, I don’t care about your philosophy, your mission or vision. I care that you deliver a sexy, reliable car that makes me feel good about myself. Or whatever your reasons are to buy a car.

The majority of people don’t want to be friend with a brand. They want a brand to do their job and do it better than the competition. Actually, I prefer brands focusing on doing their job and deliver more usefulness to me. I’d rather you stay away from the big Social party and come up with new ideas/services that make my life easier/more delightful.

Still, too many brands are doing social for the sake of doing social. (“We have to be at the party, man.”) They might be better off being anti-social and stay away from the social party crowd. Instead, focusing on social where the brand has weaknesses (Customer Service, Support, Research). There’s nothing wrong with being a socially awkward introvert. Just ask Apple.


Images: Courtesy of artbyphil

By now, it’s gone. A temporary city that forms during the annual Burning Man event is fading back into the nothingness of a remote desert. Most inhabitants are back in their normal life, and within weeks, the entire city will have disappeared. It’s an interesting way for a city to exist – once a year, just for a few weeks. People will talk about their experiences for months (just follow the hashtag #burningman to get a sense of the enthusiasm) and start making plans for next year’s event.

This was my second time at Burning Man. It remains one of the most bizarre, creative, inspiring, breathtaking and weird events I ever attended. Whatever you heard about Burning Man: It’s true. And, it’s completely false. You have to experience it to really understand it. It’s like having a kid, running a marathon or writing a book: Everything you heard about it is true. And, completely false at the same time.

On my way back from Black Rock City, I reflected on the lessons marketers can learn from Burning Man:

1. The paralyzing fear of change is far more inhibiting than the actual experience of change:

I’ve been a runner for more than 15 years. The first 5 years, I never ran more than 6 miles per day. A marathon was completely out of my reach, even though I was intrigued by the idea. “How do they run 26 miles?”, I asked myself many times, envisioning images of pain and agony. I tried to run 10 miles, never able to do it. Started walking after 6-7 miles, my usual comfort zone. Until one day, I decided to run 15 miles that day. No particular reason, just the feeling that I was sick of not being able to break that 7-mile barrier. And, I didn’t want to just break it. I wanted to shatter it. And so I did. Just to finish a marathon 3 months later.

Many marketers feel the same way: They want to break with the old model of marketing but they feel stuck in their old ways, the outdated processes and the aging model of broadcast marketing. They wait for someone to have the courage to change. The truth is: Nobody gets courage and then changes everything. First you change everything and then get the courage.

2. Don’t give up too early

The first time you try anything new, your senses are under attack. You don’t even know if it’s good or bad. You just know it’s new. You don’t know yet how to put it into perspective and add it to your experiences. The first time is the basic foundation of the overall process. The best advice for the first time in everything: Hang in there. Do whatever you can, the best you can. The second time is different: You have now one experience to compare your second experience to. And your second experience might be good or bad. Better or worse. It helps you to avoid bad experiences and to top good experiences. The third time is where it gets interesting. That’s when you become part of the context, when you can apply some of your experience history to the current experience. The third time gives you enough time to analyze incoming data.

This is true for visiting new cities. New countries. Starting a new job. And it’s true for marketing.

The first two digital campaigns/social media initiatives won’t be featured in any award book. I worked hard, I tried my best, I just didn’t have the proper context to deliver the best work possible. With the third campaign/initiative, I felt more grounded, more experienced. When you experiment with new platforms, new ideas or a new brand that just decided to run their marketing with you, just know you’re not going to ace it with the first idea/initiative. The fear of failure is looming large but you need to beat it by accepting this normal process.

3.) Give people a sense of ownership

The creativity and passion people pour into Burning Man has nothing to do with monetary rewards. It has a lot to do with a sense of ownership of the event. Sure, the man will burn, there will be coffee and ice, basic structures. The rest of the event is up to each one of the attendees.

Advanced managers base their ethics on fairness, harmony and gratitude to inspire a sense of achievement to goes beyond profit. Modern employees expect more from companies than just a paycheck. The work place should provide an avenue for employees to build knowledge, skills and experience.

The same is true for marketing: It’s not enough to have an offer or a discount coupon anymore. Customers review and recommend brands with a sense of ownership never seen before. Brands need to identify the best way to engage these passionate stakeholders. The future doesn’t belong to broadcast. The future belongs to companies that share values with their customers, that build platforms where all stakeholders can co-create and collaborate, and give people a sense of ownership.

4. Passion has real value

You can feel real passion. Just watch an artist or a kid immersed in something they are passionate about. Objects are not important at Burning Man. We are in the age of transition: From the economy of objects to the economy of people. Just look around: Everyone is starving for meaning. We’re meaning-making machines. All of us experienced how quickly the focus on profits can turn into an economic disaster. Instead, people want to do meaningful stuff that matters.

The new marketing reality implies that brands need to take a hard look at themselves and decide what they stand for. What is the inner truth of your company? What is your purpose? The foundation of any successful company in the future is purpose, passion and integrity, coupled with empathy and care for all stakeholders. It goes way beyond any CSR initiatives or charitable donations. The new marketing reality requires companies with big hearts.

5. The world needs more kindness

Tim Ferriss (The 4-hour workweek) discovered kindness in a sand storm. And, he shared a poem by Naomi Shinab Nye, entitled “Kindness”:

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.


When your dreams turn to dust, vacuum.