Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
November 23, 2014 9:45 AM

The New Rules Of Sales And Service

Episode #437 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Twist Image Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to.

How many writers do you know that have written books about space, the Grateful Dead, viral marketing, social media, public relations and more? This is the life of David Meerman Scott, who in marketing circles is probably best known for his bestselling business book, The New Rules of Marketing and PR (which, for many, is the bible for social media in the business world). While he recently issued his latest book, The New Rules of Sales and Service: How to Use Agile Selling, Real-Time Customer Engagement, Big Data, Content, and Storytelling to Grow Your Business, he found out that his previous book, Marketing The Moon, had been optioned by a documentary filmmaker. In this episode, we discuss David's desire to transition from a marketing author and speaker into the broader and larger space of sales and customer service (a trend that many marketing authors/speakers are following). We also look and how intrinsically connected sales, customer service and marketing have become. David is one of the most prolific writers and speakers out there. His new book challenges business to radically redefine how they connect with consumers (a topic that is near and to my heart as well). 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 #437.

By Mitch Joel


November 22, 2014 8:26 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #231

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:

  • A Free Dive In Japan - Roads & Kingdoms. "I was in Tokyo recently. Every time I visit the country I'm amazed. There really is no place like it on earth, combining formality and tradition with exuberance and a thirst for the new. In this great post by Roads & Kingdoms (who, it seems, can do no wrong in travel reporting) see where your Uni comes from. Spoiler alert: 60-year-old female divers." (Alistair for Hugh).
  • Homo Conexus - MIT Technology Review. "Back in 2006, James Fallows penned an ode to Web 2.0. I'd used the term recently, and was surprised to find this piece. It describes a week of trying to live entirely online. This is pre-iPhone, pre-app store. And as he says, ' .. the Dodgeball truth ... comes at the moment when you realize that one of life's possibilities - a product, an adventure, an offer, an idea - is really meant for people younger than you.' Of course, by 2014 most of us have outlived Dodgeball, which Google shuttered in 2009. But this reads like an Internet time capsule." (Alistair for Mitch).
  • House Republicans just passed a bill forbidding scientists from advising the EPA on their own research - Salon. "Sometimes I really don't know what to say. The good news is that this bill isn't likely to go anywhere with the current White House administration. The bad news? Yeah." (Hugh for Alistair).
  • 26 Pictures Will Make You Re-Evaluate Your Entire Existence - BuzzFeed. "On the other hand, maybe our little quibbles about ' cience' don't matter so much, when you factor in the size of the universe." (Hugh for Mitch).
  • The Post-PC CEO: No Desk, No Desktop - The Wall Street Journal. "Way back during the dot com boom, I got sick and tired of my office. The stapler. The filing cabinets. Elastics. All of it. People protected their offices, desks and cubicles like they were their homes. I asked my boss if I could buy the cheapest and thinnest laptop. It was a Toshiba Portege. It was sleek. Not powerful, but sleek. My office became my laptop. Years later, my friend got a promotion at some big corporation. The benefit (beyond a slight bump in salary) was that they added an additional panel to his cubicle (making it a couple of feet longer). Within this organization, jealousy over cubicle size was a thing. Ick. I read this Wall Street Journal article and just nodded. This is the type of stuff I was waiting for since computers became portable. If I could write and create presentations on an iPad, I would probably drop my MacBook Air. The point is, that we live in the one screen world now. Most people don't need much more than a tablet to get by. It seems obvious to state that, but it actually means that we are changing the way we physically work... and that's pretty dramatic." (Mitch for Alistair).
  • Craft A Spiritual Practice With Dani Shapiro - Good Life Project. "Over the years, I have become lucky enough to call people I respect, read, admire and follow a true 'friend.' Jonathan  Fields is one of those people, and I am very lucky. I was a huge fan of his Good Life Project long before we met. I was honored to be asked to be a guest on his show when I launched CTRL ALT Delete. Since then, I do my best to not miss any episodes. I guess I did. Somehow, this week, I was trolling through YouTube and came across this episode with Dani Shapiro. Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the craft of writing, and what I can do to improve and grow. It's a journey. Listening to this conversation touched my heart. Shapiro has written many books, but Still Writing is her book all about the craft of writing. I don't know what happened here, but I fell madly, deeply in love with this conversation. Once it was done, I bought Still Writing, and I am loving it almost as much as Steven Pressfield's The War of Art. This conversation touched me deeply. If you write (or create any kind of content), you really do need to watch this." (Mitch for Hugh).

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

By Mitch Joel


November 21, 2014 7:40 PM

Become A Connector

Do you have one hour and forty-five minutes to spare?

I'll admit it, I have been sucked into the vortex that is Skillshare. For a very normal monthly fee (like, ten bucks), you can take a whole bunch of fascinating courses. Not the kind of courses that you probably see in catalogues or through the continuing education department of your local college. I'm talking about courses being offered by people like Simon Sinek, Susan Orlean, Seth Godin and courses with titles like The Possibilities of Instagram: Sharing Your Best PhotosHyperthinking: improve your day to day learning & creativity, and Humor Writing: Write Funny for the Internet

This is my kind of school. Smart classes. Relevant Topics. Right to the point. 

This week, Seth Godin launched his latest course on Skillshare. It's called, Become a Connector: The Impresario Institute, and here's the course abstract: 

"Impresarios are the connectors. They are the reason we are able to attend concerts, meet like-minded people at events and get inspired at organized talks -- as talent and good ideas in the world need to be shared by someone. Author and entrepreneur Seth Godin walks through a workshop covering all the bases of being an impresario -- how to start, who to get on your team, and how to scale your connections. By the end of this class, you'll be inspired to recognize opportunity, assemble your own event, and to be a connector for the rest of your life."

I'm about halfway through this course... and thoroughly enjoying it.

If you're still not convinced that you could learn a thing or two (or twenty) about how to build relationships that matter, you can watch this teaser video:

An Online Skillshare Class by Seth Godin

Feel free to use the comment section below to let me know what you think of this course.

By Mitch Joel


November 20, 201411:37 PM

Business Transformation. From Marketers To Makers.


Imagine if someone pulled you aside, and asked you to change everything about yourself. They wanted you to change how you look, how you act, how you think, how you connect with others, and more. Worse (or more importantly), they wanted you to change who you are, and they needed you to do it right away. After all, it was for your own good. This was all being done, because the world around you was changing at a rapid place. Not easy. Most of us could not do it. I'd fail miserably at it, I'm sure. 

It's easier said than done. 

I've often lamented that the biggest struggle facing the vast majority of traditional media publishers isn't their ability or speed to adapt to the newly ensconced digital consumer, it's the Wall Street cycle of impossibility. How easy would it be for any of us, to be better looking, smarter, faster, thinner and richer than we were ninety days ago. What if we had to always improve on those five areas every ninety days, without fail? How would you do? How great have you been in keeping your New Years resolutions from last December? I consider myself a fairly productive individual, and I'm not overly impressed with myself, because I'm also acutely aware of the human condition. And yet, when it comes to businesses, we have that exact expectation of them, and we want them to improve and be better on a quarterly basis. It's insanity. Companies can earn millions of billions of dollars in the short span of four months, and the markets will pound them for not performing better. "You lost a lot of weight... Just. It's not enough. Sorry." 

I'm only human. Most businesses are made up of that same DNA.

Flesh and blood with a very hard head. We have the best of intentions. We read and believe everyone who is motivated and telling us how to do more. Still, when the clock strikes eight pm, you can find us on our couches watching Married At First Sight and building up a hearty Doritos stain on our pyjama tops, when we should be reading a business book or galloping on a treadmill.
I have the very difficult task of asking brands to transform the way that they connect with consumers. I (and the entire team at Twist Image) are asking brands to take a proven leap of faith.

We are asking brands to transform:

  1. How the brand acts. This is not about what story the brand tells a consumer. It's about understanding that there are now a myriad of ways to tell a brand narrative, and it's not driven by "the big idea" of advertising or by simply pushing a unified brand message down the throats of consumers. If we all agree (and we should) that consumers have a digital-first posture (meaning, that most people's first and ongoing brand interactions don't happen at the physical business location - retail or office - but that they begin and end online), then our brand narratives, need to match their expectations and their paths to purchase. The business transformation here is that our brands need to be digitally-led and physically reinforced. And, not the other way around.
  2. How the brand transacts. Does the brand make it easy to shop and buy online. This about much more than being e-commerce enabled. It's about being able to transact online. To be more than a digital billboard or brochure. To let the consumer make the final decision on their own, in a clean and frictionless experience that is easy and intuitive for them to navigate. This could be as minor as helping them pay their bills or as major as facilitating the final transaction. Can consumers not only shop your brand, but buy it on their own, in a simple way? The business transformation here is to embrace a twenty-four seven shopping and transaction cycle.
  3. How the brand engages. Brands see social media with a primary lense of listening and responding, in a customer service type of engagement. When they're not doing that, these channels are typically leveraged by the marketing and communications departments, as a way to advertise some kind of promotion or product. The business transformation here is for the brand to truly become more human and connected to consumers, who are using these channels to connect in more personal, real and real-time ways. It's time to re-read The Cluetrain Manifesto.
  4. How the brand speaks. What does the brand really say. Is a traditional white paper as valuable as telling a strong customer narrative on YouTube. Jay Baer often says that social media is the campfire, and that content marketing is the gasoline. There are so many choices to make here. Content marketing is no longer just about being relevant and consistent in how a brand publishes. The business transformation here is being contextually relevant with content, and creating content distribution strategies that enables the voice of the brand to extend beyond its own walled gardens. 
  5. How the brand sells. It's easy to dismiss advertising as the tax that brands have to pay when their product or service isn't something worth talking about or sharing (I'm paraphrasing something Seth Godin often writes about). Digital advertising (when done well) can do a whole lot more than simply inform and entice a consumer. Digital advertising can now become the top of a strategic sales funnel that leads into a strong CRM-driven business model. The business transformation here is in leveraging analytics, multivariate testing and more to better move a consumer through a digital sales funnel.  
  6. How the brand moves. The frustration of brands having to revisit their various platforms (Web, mobile, apps, etc...) can be costly, confusing and hard to embrace. We have entered the one screen world. The only screen that matters to the consumer is the one that is in from of them. Screen are ubiquitous, connected and (fairly) cheap. But, the underlying reality is that consumers are now mobile. The business transformation is in building a marketing infrastructure that understands that mobile is a strategy/way to move consumers, not a channel. Having a mobile strategy isolated from a social media, e-commerce, etc... is a bad strategy. The brand is now mobile with the consumer. Like it or not.
  7. How the brand creates. Brands will think about how to sell their wares online. The real opportunity is for brands to augment their product and service lines by creating digital products and services that compliment the core business (or digital ones that could become a new core business). Apple is now considering embedding the Beats By Dre music service on to all of their devices. Beyond the attempt to diminish the power of streaming services like Spotify and Rdio, Beats (prior to their acquisition by Apple), built this adjunct - and fully digital - business, instead of simply trying to sell more headphones. The business transformation here is for brands to not just sell their stuff online, but to build digital and mobile products and services that can be sold. The types of products and services that become a business unto themselves. 

Don't blame Wall Street. 

Business transformation is hard work. It's heavy lifting that can't be left to the top consulting firms or the traditional advertising agencies. We can't just be looking at the business partners that have changed their marketing jargon to be reflective of this new environment. We must lead this from within the brands (from the top down), and push it through with partners who are living and breathing in these spaces. Mistakes will be made. Winners and losers will be established. But make no mistake about it, marketers are no longer just in the business of media and communications. 

Marketers should be helping to transform businesses. Marketers must become makers. 

By Mitch Joel


November 19, 2014 8:37 AM

Comedians In Cars Getting Organic Reach

Jerry Seinfeld doesn't have a throttling problem.

Facebook is making more changes to the newsfeed that look to cripple the organic reach of brands (more on that here: New York Times - Facebook Will Curtail Unpaid Ads by Brands). The main message that they're sending to brands is this: if your posts even have a hint of shilling you're going to pay for it. Last Friday, the company began to further distance the content marketing from the advertising. Starting in January, the company would prefer if brands just took ads, and this includes pieces of content asking users to watch a particular show or download an app (more on that here: DigiDay - Facebook steps up its war on like-bait).

Is Facebook getting greedier or is it something else?

The general frustration of marketers is understandable (and, I'm not just writing this because I'm a marketer). Brands have spent a significant amount of time and money on Facebook acquiring fans and connecting with them. Some do this exceptionally well, while others have seen social media as a free ride to get the word out. Regardless, brands have acquired these likes and fans, and Facebook now makes it increasingly more difficult for the brands to get anything through to these people who have willingly agreed to connect (and who can willingly unlike these brands at any point). On the other hand, Facebook needs to keep its billion-plus audience engaged. So, if enough of the feed gets filled with brand messages in lieu of what our friends are up to, they risk having people become disengaged and disenfranchised with Facebook. Earlier this year, Facebook began the process of throttling the amount of content from brands to the newsfeed. It wasn't subtle. Many brands had such few pieces of content getting through, that they changed their integrated marketing mix by redefining Facebook as a paid media (more on that here: Organic Reach on Facebook: Your Questions Answered). Facebook didn't just push this throttling issue further this week. Last week, the massive online social network also told brands and agencies that they could no longer run promotions that forced users to like a brand to participate (see that DigiDay piece above).

What is Facebook really doing?

The capitalist in us all, will see these aggressive moves as Facebook's run to build a (bigger) war chest of money. Over the years, Facebook encouraged brands to connect with fans and share, but once those relationships were established, Facebook changed the rules and made it pay-to-play. the realist is us should see this as Facebook's desire to not pollute the user experience and - because they can - dictate a quality over quantity model to brands. For this, we should all be grateful. The truth of why Facebook has done this, is probably somewhere in the middle.

What about Seinfeld?

It felt like a joke, but at the same time that brands and agencies were scrambling to adjust strategies and balance between great content marketing and advertising, Jerry Seinfeld decided to take Facebook for a test drive instead of a 1960s Ferrari. The famed stand-up comedian, smash TV series star, and now online video sensation with, Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee, used Facebook to promote the latest season of his show. He was so impressed that he posted a note to Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, saying that he "might be on to something" with this Facebook thing. Seinfeld's post was seen by over twelve million people. The "boost post" tab was still there, so I'm not sure whether or not anyone in the Seinfeld camp boosted the post or not, but it "feels" like this was organic.

Seinfeld was organic. Can you get organic reach like that?

No, you're not Seineld. No, you're not asking people to check out one of the hottest online shows. Still, it would seem like Seinfeld is at the same level of mercy to Facebook's throttling algorithm as the rest of us. The reach, shares and likes pushed it through because... Wait for it... People care. You don't need to reach everyone on Facebook (don't fool yourself). You just need to create content that is compelling enough for your audience (compelling enough that they want to share it with their friends). Even if you can't reach your entire audience (and only a small fraction of it), the content should be compelling enough for them to take action. Forrester will think that I'm crazy (Brands Are Wasting Money on Facebook and Twitter, Forrester Says). Fine. I'm, typically, the eternal optimist when it comes to this sort of stuff.

What do you think? 

By Mitch Joel


November 18, 2014 8:24 AM

All Filler. No Killer.

Everyone wants a hit.  That was the general sentiment around the rehearsal spaces when I studied music in college. Some dreamed of that "hit" moment happening, once they received a letter accepting them into a symphony orchestra, others imagined that... Read more

By Mitch Joel


November 17, 2014 9:01 AM

What If Stuff All Had Different Prices, Depending On Who Was Buying it?

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


November 16, 201410:01 AM

Meditations On Social Media Marketing

Episode #436 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Twist Image Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to. How well do marketers truly perform when it comes to social media? It's a question that Jason Keath... Read more

By Mitch Joel


November 15, 2014 8:02 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #230

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


November 14, 2014 4:19 PM

Media Redefined

When you think of someone who understand the state of media, who do you think of? One of the most interesting media characters I follow is Jason Hirschhorn. I've been subscribing to his e-newsletter (yes, I still enjoy getting these fascinating... Read more

By Mitch Joel