Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
July 22, 2014 8:16 AM

Are Your Customers Frozen? Let It Go!

The competition is fierce out there.

The battle for the consumer continues to intensify. Brands used to battle with their competitors for the direct relationship, but something new is happening. While I discuss it in much more detail in my second book, CTRL ALT Delete, I believe (with everything that I have) that the new battle for this direct relationship trumps the one you're fighting with your competitor. Now, brands are doing battle with every other brand in the food chain that is being offered to a consumer. We have all types of businesses at attention. Think about it this way: if you buy one of my books, the author, the publisher, the publisher's specific imprint, the book retailer and more are all fighting for you to connect to them. All of these brands want you to follow them on Twitter, like them on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel and more. Each and every one of these brands wants you to "add them" in a myriad of digital channels. They want the exclusive opportunity to tell you all about the author... even in a world where the author can build this direct relationship on their own with fans. It makes the world of branding, marketing, advertising and communications that much more challenging.

Know when to hold 'em.

This past week, the online discourse around a customer who tried to cancel their cable service made the headlines (again). Some attacked the cable company, some blamed the customer service rep and some even scolded the unhappy customers. Then, today, that same company reported that profits had improved 15% this past quarter. This happens a lot. People moan, complain, tweet, blog and more about the inequities of a specific brand and yet - year on year - these companies grow their user base and increase profits much to the chagrin of the digital lynch mobs and to the adulation of Wall Street. We live in complex times. If you have your pitchfork out, it's easy to think that companies like this (airlines and other businesses too) can maintain this level of profit and growth because they hold their customers hostage. After all, how hard is it to cancel a service? Ultimately, what you learn in this crazy world of business is that the more complex you make it for a customer to leave (think small print, clauses and made-up policies) the less likely they will be leave. Right? Create enough friction through time and money and it's simply not worth it. Consumers will grin and bear it.

What have we become?

Last week, I spent some time in Silicon Valley (you can hear more about it right here: Adventures In Visiting Google, Facebook And Apple In Silicon Valley). A good chunk of my time was spent on the Google campus with Avinash Kaushik (Google's Digital Marketing Evangelist, bestselling author of Web Analytics - An Hour A Day and Web Analytics 2.0). We were brainstorming, thinking, prodding and provoking one another. In that conversation, Avinash revealed that one of the brands he admired the most once remarked to him that the company does not consider anybody a customer until they have bought from them twice. It was as if the clouds had parted, the sun began to shine and hope for a new world was born. Why? Because, we know digital marketing. We know all about these customer (or fan) acquisition strategies that revolve around things like offering a contest to acquire an email address, and then considering these individuals hot leads/customers just because they were lured by a potential prize. We know all about consumers who have bought from a brand once, and then never again, but are bombarded with marketing spam to move a needle, because they are considered a customer (hey! they bought from us!). We are all too familiar with consumers who sign up for a service, become unhappy with it, but are forced into being customers for life (ok, that's an over-exaggeration, but you get the point).

If I hear that Frozen song one more time...    

BUT... let it go... let it go...can't hold it back any more! (took some artistic interpretation there). If someone is unhappy, they are not a customer. A customer is not a customer. A happy customer is a customer. A customer is not a customer unless they bought from you twice (or more). A customer doesn't care much about a brand, until they tell someone else how much they care (and why that other person should buy from them). Brands create rules, policies, laws and even incentives for their team members that are often misaligned with what a true customer is.

A customer is more than an email that a brand captures and much more than someone who purchased something once.

By Mitch Joel


July 21, 2014 9:27 PM

Adventures In Visiting Google, Facebook And Apple In Silicon Valley

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 happening in the world of technology and digital media. The good folks at CHOM 97.7 FM are posting these segments weekly to SoundCloud, if you're interested in hearing more of me blathering away. I'm really excited about this opportunity, because this is the radio station that I grew up on listening to, and it really is a fun treat to be invited to the Mornings Rock with Terry and Heather B. morning show. The segment is called, CTRL ALT Delete with Mitch Joel.

This week we discussed:

  • Terry's away on vacation and we're live with Rob Kemp.
  • Was at Google last week in Silicon Valley and spent some time at Facebook and Apple as well.
  • My job was designed to be around interesting people.
  • Also happened to run into Chris Cornell from Soundgarden at the airport.
  • My #1 trick for how to meet a celebrity and still be cool about it (seriously).
  • Great work environments inspire better work.
  • These are not offices... these are true campuses.
  • Even the waiters are working on a startup.
  • Cruise along University Avenue in Palo Alto.
  • You do feel like you know these people... even though you never met them (you know, Mark Zuckerberg).
  • Silicon Valley is like Disneyland for adults.
  • Does George Takei come up with all of his Facebook memes? It's an example of great curation.
  • App of the week: Starbucks.

Listen here...

By Mitch Joel


July 20, 2014 7:19 AM

Cognitive Economics And Consumer Choice

Episode #419 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Twist Image Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to.

Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper, zesty pickles, and extra chunky tomato sauce. None of these products would exist without Dr. Howard Moskowitz. His work has been immortalized in Malcolm Gladwell's TED Talk, Choice, Happiness And Spaghetti Sauce. The speech familiarized the world with his research on consumer segmentation. This work in horizontal-segmentation helps brands understand that their products should not be hierarchical in a world where different kinds of products suit different kinds of consumers. Now, Moskowitz is pushing his work further with Stephen Rappaport (a former executive for the Advertising Research Foundation and business book author). Their work is looking to help brands rethink their consumer behavior through the science of mind genomics in a specialized area they call cognitive economics. Using robust listening studies mapped against consumer segmentation techniques, they're unearthing fascinating and new consumer intelligence on how consumer behave. Enjoy this very fascinating 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 #419.

By Mitch Joel


July 19, 2014 8:32 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #213

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:

  • The new American exceptionalism: An imperial state unable to impose its will - Salon. "Ouch. That's a pretty harsh title. But this piece by Tom Engelhardt is a bit of an eye-opener. As corporations get their own votes, their own religions, and their own place in society, it's hard not to recognize that the government has lost its ability to make big, sweeping changes or undertake vast enterprise. We rely on the Elon Musks of the world to do what we once elected people to. Depressing, but also a must-read for anyone sliding the slippery slope of political compromise." (Alistair for Hugh).
  • No More "No Shows" - How To Make Sure Your Research Participants Actually Show Up  - Google Ventures. "The various Google Ventures blogs are some of my favorite reads on the Internet. This piece is applicable not only to customer development and user research, but also to anyone who's trying to convince people to actually turn up at an event of any kind." (Alistair for Mitch).
  • How to Flawlessly Predict Anything on the Internet - Medium. "Great how-to for (or debunking of) the 'prediction after the fact' scam." (Hugh for Alistair).
  • Sympathy for the Comcast Rep from Hell - The Awl. "You've probably heard the now-famous Comcast Cancellation Song (if not, it's below)... This article asks you to pause, though, and consider the poor guy on the other end of the phone, the one who's going to get penalized for letting a Comcast client get away." (Hugh for Mitch).
  • Nikola Tesla's Best Productivity Tricks - Lifehacker. "No matter how cramped we are to find the time to do things in a more efficient way, it feels like we all have an infinite amount of time to read articles and books about how to be more productive. We download apps to make us more efficient. I'm guilty of this, too. I can't get enough of articles like this. I'm fascinated by the mechanics behind how the greatest thinkers, artists and writers get things done. This article did not disappoint." (Mitch for Alistair).
  • Charles Bukowski Rails Against 9-to-5 Jobs in a Brutally Honest Letter (1986) - Open Culture. "I went through a Charles Bukowski phase. I think it made me a better writer... but, more importantly, it made me a better thinker. In this very short letter, Bukowski illustrates the real illusion of our world and going to work. We look for things to be safe in a world where it doesn't exist. Seth Godin likes to say that, 'the safest thing that you can do is be risky, and the riskiest thing that you can do is be safe.' Bukowski digs on this jam as well." (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


July 18, 2014 6:36 PM

The Internet's Own Boy (A Movie You Have To Watch)

Do you know the name Aaron Swartz?

I never met Aaron. I heard his name only a couple of times as he was one of the people involved in the development of RSS, the organization Creative Commons, and the founding of Reddit. You would think that he was an industry veteran with a resume like that. Along with those roles, he was also a writer, political organizer and Internet activist. Sadly, Aaron committed suicide in 2013 at the age of 26. Total shame. The Internet's Own Boy is a documentary about Aaron Swartz. "It features interviews with his family and friends as well as the internet luminaries who worked with him. The film tells his story up to his eventual suicide after a legal battle, and explores the questions of access to information and civil liberties that drove his work," according to the website. It's an amazing story about an amazingly interesting and complex individual.

Watch The Internet's Own Boy right here:

By Mitch Joel


July 17, 201410:11 PM

10 Business Books That Aren't Out Yet (But You're Going To Read)

There is a whole new slew of great business books that are coming your way in the next little while. Here are ten of the ones that look the most interesting (ranked by date of publication): The Power of No:... Read more

By Mitch Joel


July 16, 201411:01 PM

Marketing Fails When You Shift Instead Of Elevate

What are you really doing with your marketing dollars? Digital media advertising is now bigger than TV advertising. I didn't make that up. It's a fact. I'm sure there are some advertising executives who would disagree with the data. I'm... Read more

By Mitch Joel


July 15, 201411:16 PM

The End Of The Dial Tone

Things change quicker than most of us realize. If you speak to marketers about how they are doing in relation to consumers and their mobile usage, it will be a disappointing conversation. If you speak to consumers about how brands... Read more

By Mitch Joel


July 14, 2014 3:04 PM

Falling Short Of Your Best

It sucks when you don't do your best. I am very tough on the work that I put out into the world. Maybe too tough. I was reflecting the other day on some new client pitches that have been lost...... Read more

By Mitch Joel


July 13, 2014 7:18 AM

The Disruption Complex In Business Today

Episode #418 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Twist Image Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to. Bob Knorpp may be best known for his stunningly fun podcast on the advertising business known as The... Read more

By Mitch Joel