Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
December 21, 2014 8:30 AM

What Digital Marketing Might Look Like In 2015

Episode #441 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Twist Image Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to.

As the year comes to a close, many marketers are left wondering, what is on the horizon for 2015? What are the key trends and areas of focus that we should all be paying attention to? Are there macro trends that our brands need to be ready for? How will marketing play a bigger role in business? Mark W. Schaefer is a regular guest, insightful marketing professional (and professor) and passionate communicator about how marketing continues to evolve. He's written many successful business books (Return On Influence, The Tao Of Twitter, Born To Blog and Social Media Explained) and brings a wealth of real life experience to the discussion. If anything, we believe that 2015 will see much more disruption and challenges for the marketing industry. We are an industry in flux. For some, this is great news. For others... Enjoy the conversation...

You can grab the latest episode of Six Pixels of Separation here (or feel free to subscribe via iTunes): Six Pixels of Separation - The Twist Image Podcast #441.

By Mitch Joel


December 20, 2014 8:55 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #235

Is there one link, story, picture or thought that you saw online this week that you think somebody you know must see?

My friends: Alistair Croll (BitCurrent, Year One Labs, GigaOM, Human 2.0, Solve For Interesting, the author of Complete Web Monitoring, Managing Bandwidth: Deploying QOS in Enterprise Networks and Lean Analytics), Hugh McGuire (PressBooks, LibriVox, iambik and co-author of Book: A Futurist's Manifesto) and I decided that every week the three of us are going to share one link for one another (for a total of six links) that each individual feels the other person "must see".

Check out these six links that we're recommending to one another:

Feel free to share these links and add your picks on Twitter, Facebook, in the comments below or wherever you play.

By Mitch Joel


December 19, 2014 4:41 PM

Building A Better Business By Thinking Like Amazon

Don't try to be like Amazon

Amazon is a business like no other. Retailers might not like to hear this, but it is true. They have a spirit of innovation that looks at both software and hardware, plus they have a spirit of customer service that is tough to rival. Everyone talks about the pioneering spirit of Amazon, and it is a story that is worthy of telling. Still, people like Avinask Kaushik and I would agree that trying to be like Amazon, Apple, Google can be hard for most (maybe even all) businesses. For a myriad of reasons. Still, there is always something that we can think about, learn from and implement to make our businesses that much better.

How is Amazon thinking there days?

We don't get to hear from Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos nearly enough. It's usually the odd quote, here or there. But, it's rarely in the context of a longer and more focused interview. This past Tuesday, Business Insider posted their full fifty-minute live, one-on-one conversation between Business Insider founder, Henry Blodget and Bezos from their Ignition - Future of Digital conference. It is very raw and direct. The questions are very probing and provocative. I have rarely seen a conversation like this, only because I found myself questioning my own business-thinking and reaching for my Field Notes with some new ideas to jam on. I think you will too.

What is the future of Amazon? What is the future of business? Watch this...

By Mitch Joel


December 18, 201411:02 PM

The Point Of Creativity In Business

The point of creativity in business is to tell and/or sell.

For some reason, the statement above is seen (by many) as some kind of defamation of creativity. A bastardization of the what art is. The proverbial selling of the soul. That's stupid. And, it's wrong. Let's set the table first: creativity for the sake of being creative is fine. It's a right. Anyone can do oil painting in their garage, or pluck away at their guitar in their basement for the pure love of the activity. The arts are marvellous at curing what ails you. On the other hand, great creativity does inspire on other levels. Great creativity makes human beings curious, it makes them yearn to hear more, and it makes them take action. Creativity isn't just something for the pre-Internet era, either. It's profoundly linked to what makes one business more successful than another. Creativity drives our economy like never before.

Creativity is still core to business. Creativity is still core to a marketing agency's success.

Roger Dooley, pointed me to his latest contribution at Forbes magazine today. It's an article titled, They Is Gone, But Creativity Isn't, that tells the all-too-common tale of a fellow marketing agency that shut its doors, and what this means about the future of the marketing agency model. The agency was called, They, and this is what one of the founder's said...

"The whole traditional model doesn't work anymore. It's less about creativity and more about business results. There is not a lot of room to be creative."

Failing to see what is the opportunity and not the threat.

Without pointing fingers or being accusatory, I am hopeful that this quote was either taken out of context, or that there was more meat around it and it was edited to elicit a reaction like this one. If it wasn't, this quote may well illustrate why they're no longer in business, or what happens when artists try to put the art before the business. This isn't about traditional models or digital models, but basic business common sense. If your creativity doesn't drive business results, then what was the point of doing it in the first place? There was never much room in marketing for creativity with the singular purpose of creativity. That activity can better be defined as wasteful.

It's not about the data, analytics or KPIs, either.

We have always had different types of data. We have always had the ability to speak to the consumer, to better understand their needs. The idea that hyper-creative agencies can't survive in a world where we have metrics, doesn't point to a Mad Men vs. Math Men model at all. If anything, agencies are struggling because brands are bulking up on their own, internal, marketing capabilities, and are able to use a breadth and depth of data that used to only be accessible (or created) by the agency model. With that, many agencies have, simply, not added the right professionals and newer services to match the shifts in the industry, and how consumers connect to media.

An agency that only cares about creativity, isn't an agency.

That may be hurtful to read, but it's true. If you're running a marketing or advertising or public relations agency, and all you care about is creativity without any connection to business results, outcomes and - even - optimization, I'd rebrand that agency as an art studio. Again, nothing wrong with an art studio, but it's NOT a marketing agency. Creativity, inspiration, breakthrough work and the like do not get brushed beneath the carpet in a world where brands are (and should be) demanding better business results and more optimization. They run together - hand in hand. Great data, profound insights from analytics and focusing (like a bullseye) on business results is the exact way that agencies can be most creative. To exclude creativity as simply some kind of artistic endeavour that doesn't need to be attached to an endgame that is driving economic value to the brand is, simply put, bad business.

Make sure you know the business that you're in.

By Mitch Joel


December 16, 201411:28 PM

The Power To Smile In A Digital World

What does true customer service look like?

Marketing is edging ever-closer to customer service, and vice-versa. That may not be anything new, as you go to work, buy your holiday gifts and start thinking about how you're going to affect the brand that you work for in the coming year (and, hopefully, beyond). Still, it's something that most companies are not thinking about (enough). They're certainly not making any massive moves, by forcing departments and silos to disappear in an effort to better reflect what seems like a very logical statement. For many (bigger) organizations, customer service is the group charged with ensuring that corporate policies are met with (and managed) down to the consumer. In many instances, what we're really saying (at a tactical level), is that the customer service department manages the people and the technology to create a level of "fairness" in the eyes of customers that have an issue with our products and services. It's also the place that is forced to do this in shortest amount of time possible with the least amount of financial loss.

We can all agree, that this needs a radical overhaul, right?

Not everyone wants to friend, follow, like and engage with the brands that they do business with. This is true... on many levels. It's also very false (or mis-leading) in terms of true application. Why? Well, for the most part, businesses are things that we - the humans of Earth - have transactions with. When there's an issue, we're hopeful that we can get an empathetic ear from the corporation. We're less interested in corporate policies, how brands do things or more. And, even if our issue can't be resolved, we want that high level of empathy. When we get, we do become that much more loyal and true to the brand. As much as people say they don't want/need these kind of connections to brands, we do love the things that we love. So, while it may not be relevant to breakfast cereal, for you and me, it could well be just that type of brand that other consumers would put on their "brands that I love" list.

Blame Oprah.

I kid. But, not really. Whether you're a fan of Oprah or not, it's hard to argue that her show - and subsequent impact on society - has led many of us to be more open about our feelings. This has led to us being more empathetic (there's that word again) and vulnerable (special thanks to Brene Brown for that one). This, is a good thing. This, is a great thing. We can be more human. We have become more humane now. This has trickled in business. More than most people care to admit.

How many Facebook accounts do you have?

"Should I have one Facebook account for my personal life, and one for work? I'm not sure if I want to link my friends with the people that I work with." I used to get asked this question a lot. I bet this is something that you had considered at one point in the past. Now, it seems silly... or not as relevant. Doesn't it? We're quickly realizing that who we are... is who we are. How we engage - and how we connect - is no longer divided between our physical selves and our digital profiles.

I tweet, therefore I am.

I have been smiling at strangers a lot lately. Not in a creepy/stalky kind of way, bit in a "yes, I see you," kind of way. I mostly do this to people who seem stuck in their day... or their routine... or something that they just read on their iPhone changed their physical mood. A lot of them smile back. It's a connection. Something simple. Something real. It's something that I didn't do before (too often). I don't do nearly enough of it on digital channels. I don't "like" enough things that you post. I'm not great at sending you a digital high-five on the comments. I don't tweet back at people to say "thank you." People like Gary Vaynerchuk, Scott Stratten and Gini Dietrich do this so well. It's like watching poetry in motion. Seriously.

What does this have to do with customer service?

Everything. This is where it all starts. Customer service is not the ethos of the CEO passed down to everyone. Customer service is not the rules, policies and regulations in the field guides. Customer service... Great customer service start with a smile. Great in physical environments. Great in digital environments. A smile is a thank you. A smile is a connection. A smile lets a customer know that you see them. A smile can change a lot of things that suddenly went wrong. 'Tis the season to allow the scrooge in all of us to boil up. As we rush towards the holiday break (and the end of the year), think about smiling. Think about how it can and will change you, the customer you're connecting with and - with any luck - how your business really connects. Let's not forget that customer service is all about how we serve our clients. Smiles are probably more contagious and viral than most of our marketing initiatives.

If it doesn't start with a smile (and this includes a digital one), then what?

By Mitch Joel


December 15, 201410:43 AM

Why Buy A Car, When You Can Have A BMW On-Demand?

Every Monday morning at 7:10 am, I am a guest contributor on CHOM 97.7 FM radio broadcasting out of Montreal (home base). It's not a long segment - about 5 to 10 minutes every week - about everything that is... Read more

By Mitch Joel


December 14, 2014 9:53 AM

Win More Pitches

Episode #440 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Twist Image Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to. If you're in the agency business, you know the new business development and pitching grind like no other.... Read more

By Mitch Joel


December 13, 201410:10 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #234

Is there one link, story, picture or thought that you saw online this week that you think somebody you know must see? My friends: Alistair Croll (BitCurrent, Year One Labs, GigaOM, Human 2.0, Solve For Interesting, the author of Complete... Read more

By Mitch Joel


December 12, 201411:47 PM

How To Generate A Lot Of Creative Ideas Quickly.

How often do you watch something twice that you have seen online? It doesn't happen often for me. In fact, I often have a hard time finishing a video on YouTube that I'm interested in, because there's something on the... Read more

By Mitch Joel


December 11, 201411:49 PM

The Way Television Should Be

What if television looked and acted like Netflix? Many years back, I was blogging about the future of education. If I could find the specific link to the post, I would have dropped it in here. The dream - as... Read more

By Mitch Joel