Why brands should establish ethical principles for data collection

The internet of things is constantly collecting intimate data.

The internet of things is constantly collecting intimate data.

Data collected should provide value to all concerned parties

The Altimeter Group published “The Trust Imperative: A Framework for Ethical Data Use.” The report gathered information from several different sources to provide a well-rounded view of how consumers view data collection and how organizations are starting to rethink data collection practices.

Data collection is becoming more ubiquitous, thanks to the “internet of things” – thermostats, refrigerators, wearables, and of course smart phones, to name a few. Therefore, protecting consumer data, from encryption, to storage, to online marketing, is becoming a brand attribute.

Rethinking the digital cost-benefit analysis

The online marketing axiom, rooted in cost-benefit analysis, is that consumers will trade their personal data for perceived discounts. The internet provides consumers with free services – search engine, photo archive, social media networks, etc. – if the consumer shares personal, friend list or email information.

This appears to be a good deal on the surface. However, upon closer inspection, many organizations use data collection as a profit center, selling data to programmatic media firms, credit reporting operations, database marketing firms, and large retailers. In fact, there is so much consumer data for sale (over 1500 data points for each of the 500 million active internet users, most of them in the United States) that a precise mosaic of the consumer’s lifestyle, actions, interest, food preferences, and ailments can be purchased for marketing purposes.

If this comes as a shock, it shouldn’t be

Most Americans are resigned to the fact that there is nothing they can do to thwart the onslaught of data collection by marketers. This comes from a lack of understanding about digital marketing and a preconceived notion that the Federal Government is looking out for their best interests when it comes to their personal privacy rights.

Why brands should be worried

The internet of things is constantly collecting intimate data. This is changing the nature of data collection from something that requires action to something that just happens. Consequently, consumers are becoming more uncomfortable with how brands will use their data.

As the tension level rises around data collection, trust becomes a serious issue for brands. An Altimeter® survey of over 2000 consumers revealed that over 45% of those surveyed had little or no trust in how organizations use their data.

This lack of trust has a quantifiable effect on business performance. The 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer survey of 33,000 general population respondents found that 63% of people that lack trust in an organization will refuse to buy products and services from it. 58% criticized the organization to friends or colleagues, and 37% shared negative opinions online.

The impact of distrust clearly affects revenue, reputation, and stock price.

How brands can benefit from ethical principles in data collection

Brands should establish principles for ethical data collection, beginning with the expectation that any data collected should deliver value to all concerned parties. This is a litmus test for any “go or no go” marketing initiatives.

A second principle that organizations should consider is data minimization, meaning what is the least amount of data needed to meet the marketing objective? By practicing minimization, brands promote more sustainable and less risky analysis.

To download the report “The Trust Imperative: A Framework for Ethical Data Use” click here.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Digital Ad Targeting – What Do Marketers Know About You?

Ad Technology: Programmatic Advertising

The challenges of “Big Data”

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

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Business-to-business marketing and relationship building

Good business relationships are built on trust.

Good business relationships are built on trust.

The longer the sales cycles, the more important the relationship becomes

Business-to-business marketing has always been about establishing a relationship with the prospect. One reason for this is most considered purchases involve multiple parties, resulting in extended sales cycle time. With the new technology of programmatic buying and selling of digital advertising inventory, ad technology companies would like for you to believe that a constant barrage of banner ads will substitute for a relationship built on trust.

Opening doors for new business

We all rely on new business to keep our companies growing and profitable. Yet in today’s automated marketing environment, it seems that the value of relationship building (people talking to each other) has been deemed as inefficient and replaced with marketing automation platforms and churn-out emails.

To a degree, all B-to-B marketers rely on automation. The problems begin when marketers rely too much on automation and start viewing opens and click-through rates as a substitute for a person-to-person conversation.

Some sales people only want to invest their time with those who are ready to purchase. I can identify with this viewpoint; no one wants to waste his or her time on a deal that is going nowhere. But the issue remains that in the B-to-B sales environment, it can take months for a purchasing decision to be made, and during this time it can be affected by a multitude of external factors. The relationship is developed during this period as the sales person educates and counsels the prospect as to the advantages and positive results that their product offering will have on their business.

That is where the relationship comes in

Good business relationships are built on the following:

  • Trust
  • Accountability
  • Transparency
  • Communication
  • Business understanding
  • Anticipating needs
  • Delivering on the promise

There are also intangibles that go into a good business relationship, like understanding the person’s value system, as well as their background, goals, personality traits, and expectations.

This is the essence of people-to-people marketing and relationship building.

We all know the sales funnel cycle – awareness, interest, evaluation, trail, and adoption. The digital marketing environment is focused on the first three – awareness, interest, and evaluation – because it is transactional and therefore can be tracked using analytics. However, it takes a conversation leading to a relationship to move through trial and adoption.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Why Business-to-Business Marketing is Transforming to People-to-People Marketing

Do your customers suffer from “E-fluenza”?

Why bother with branding?

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

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Why employees are the best source for inbound marketing content

 

Creating content for inbound marketing is everyone's responsibility

Creating content for inbound marketing is everyone’s responsibility

Having a process and the right skill set to capture content is half the battle.

Speak with almost any CEO of a small to mid-sized brand, and they will tell you that inbound marketing is an important communication component in creating and maintaining brand preference. However, ask them what resources or processes are in place dedicated to inbound marketing content, and the answer will tell you that this is usually more wishful thinking than reality.

Why is this? Small and mid-sized brands are resource-challenged. Their employees have a wealth of knowledge to share but usually there is no process in place to capture content.

Content mining: content that adds value to the brand

Authentic content has a point of view and provides thought leadership or hands-on practical information.

Every department in the company has something to share. It is vital that content development is viewed as everyone’s responsibility, not just the function of the marketing or PR department.

When the CEO leads the way, resources are sure to follow.

Many times the most authoritative content originates from the CEO. The CEO provides leadership and the high altitude point-of-view about the brand, such as:

  • Its current direction
  • Challenges to be faced
  • Opportunities on the horizon
  • Industry disruption from new technologies
  • How the brand can contribute to the betterment of the industry

Creating content is everyone’s responsibility

The engineering staff also contributes to developing content. This group has a unique perspective on innovation, new technologies, and production processes that contribute to solving customer problems.

The production department contributes by providing content on best practices, achieving optimal product performance, or tips on prolonging product life cycle.

Customer Service also contributes; they are the first to field customer concerns, complaints, and frequently asked questions. This group can be the conduit between engineering and production in identifying product flaws, delivery shortcomings, and inefficient interaction between departments.

Marketing’s job is to determine the most efficient process to capture the content and optimize it for different uses. Usually an employee is identified as an expert in their field and is asked to create a rough draft on a particular topic. From there, working in collaboration with either an internal or external journalistic resource, the content is edited and polished so it is suitable for publication and optimized for web use.

In addition, once the content is formalized, it becomes part of an e-library. This e-library can serve as a quick reference to customer requests.

Inbound marketing requires a commitment of time and resources to be successful. The pay-off is a stream of authoritative content that can be used across social media platforms, publications and customer service that supports brand leadership.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Social media content strategy?

How inbound marketing can help drive lead generation

Inbound marketing essentials?

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

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How does company culture affect your brand?

Employee actions reflect the brand culture

Employee actions reflect the brand culture

Employee actions mirror your brand’s values and beliefs

This year, we have witnessed several prominent brands take a public media hit due to action of their employees. For all the time, treasure, and talent that’s invested in creating a trusted brand, it only takes one careless action to reveal a corporate culture that has lost its way.

Brands that lost their way

UBER – executive at a private dinner floated the idea of digging up dirt on selected female reporters and their families as a way to control what was reported on the company’s activities. The comment was leaked and a firestorm ignited, resulting in intense scrutiny from national news media and women deleting the UBER ride-sharing app from their smart phone.

National Football League – dressing their players in pink to support breast cancer research did little to cover up a disturbing pattern of violence towards women as captured on an elevator security camera when a star running back threw a wicked left hook that connected with his wife’s jaw. The YouGov Brand index score for the NFL fell from a yearlong high of 36 to 17 in a short four-day period.

General Motors – Congressional hearings and recalls of over 6 million vehicles did little to instill faith that GM has turned itself around. What it did demonstrate is that CEOs of large corporations can take a plausible deniability position and get away with it.

Brands that lead by example

TOMS Shoes – founded on a belief that brands should give something back to the community, TOMS created One-to-One®. With each new shoe purchase, a new pair of TOMS is given to a child through one of their 100+ shoe giving partners. TOMS has given away more that 35 million pairs of shoes to children in need.

Southwest Airlines – one of the first companies to recognize that their employees are front line brand ambassadors. SWA’s Adopt-A-Pilot is a four-week program where over 1,500 pilots participate in classroom activities bringing science, geography, and math to life. SWA foots the bill for all classroom materials as the students track their adopted pilots’ travels from flying the plane to interacting with other aviation professionals. This and many other community outreach programs make SWA one of the most respected brands in the industry.

Brands are known by their point of view

While brands may not be human entities, they are known by their actions. There are many ways that brands can lead by example, from reducing their carbon footprint by investing in cleaner technologies to supporting their communities through the volunteer efforts of their employees. Today, people want to support brands that have a social conscience and are working towards a greater good.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

What’s your brand’s reputation worth?

What’s your brand’s point-of-view?

Should your brand be aligned with a moral cause?

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

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The Precarious State of Advertising & Marketing

Humans respond to creativity. We are attracted to design, color, shape, and imagination.

Creativity and experience matter more than ever.

Daily we are subjected to a constant barrage of marketing messages. From text messages for discounts from our favorite yogurt establishment, to emails from strangers, to online advertising featuring talking Geckos backed by Berkshire Hathaway’s unlimited media budget. It seems that there are neither limits nor boundaries that marketers will not exceed to try to get our attention.

Because we carry the internet in our pocket, we are at risk of information overload. Already we have short attention spans and our tempers are getting even shorter.

That is precisely why creativity and experience matter more now than ever.

Humans respond to creativity. We are attracted to design, color, shape, and imagination. We want to associate with experiences. And that is the essence of great advertising and marketing.  Corporations and their brands spend billions of dollars every year trying to gain a foothold in our consciousness, hedging their bet that when we “need” something, we will select their brand over the competition.

Algorithms can be creative but they can’t replace creativity.

It seems in the digital universe of search, some have decided that efficiency and scale are all that matters. The selling of keyword search terms have turned search engines into the largest advertising agencies on the planet. Forgoing strategy and concept for the sake of efficiency, thousands of small brands compete for customers through paid links, hoping that the phone rings. Unfortunately, the only brand differentiation for paid links is the price you pay for the search term.

Digital is disruptive, but it’s also disposable.

Hindsight tells us that digital advertising and marketing has been a disruptive force to traditional media and advertising channels. Yes, it has taken its toll on newspapers and magazine subscriptions and advertising revenue. Digital channels are more efficient, use fewer natural resources, and are capable of getting to market faster.  Nevertheless, for all of its efficiency, digital content is disposable. No one collects digital pages or ads because they were moved to action by the photographer’s skills in capturing the emotion of the moment, the art director’s sense of design in bringing the images and copy together, or the copywriter’s nuance for tone and style.

Are you experienced?

Navigating the waters of traditional and digital marketing is a balancing act. Follow the digital evangelist too far and you can slowly drown in a maze of platforms and data. Follow the traditionalist for too long and your brand becomes stodgy, or worse, irrelevant in a connected world.

As we survey the current state of advertising and marketing, we need to remember that what we have before us is a product of our own making.  Great brands understand the need for innovation and are not afraid to try new strategies and tools, but they also remember the creativity, experience, and imagination that helped them get where they are today.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Big data and creativity

Should your brand be aligned with a moral cause?

Why aviation brands need emotional engagement

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

What’s your brand’s point-of-view?

Brand recognition for thought leadership takes stepping into the spot light.

Brand recognition for thought leadership takes stepping into the spot light.

Point-of-view marketing involves communicating your brand story through thoughts, deeds, and actions on how the industry should be served.  One avenue to achieve this is through social engagement marketing tactics. When your brand provides authoritative content, supported by experience or scientific facts, it is demonstrating thought leadership.

Sometimes it calls for taking a calculated risk and commenting on or providing content for a hot button topic. Controversial topics breed readership. The more the readership, the more the brand can play a role in educating and shaping public opinion.

Participating with organizations, associations, and publications

Depending on where your brand is connected with the industry, there are a myriad of associations and publications devoted to producing content for every industry segment.

Unfortunately, a lot of the content is opinion based on faulty thinking drawn from incomplete facts. Any hot button topic has its share of detractors and advocates. Wading into the fray takes fortitude and a willingness to listen to the opposition, understand their fears and insecurities, and acknowledge there is a place in the world for conflicting viewpoints.

The opportunity for thought leadership recognition comes from participation and providing a point-of-view substantiated by experience and facts. Brands that take the risk to step into the spotlight are rewarded with recognition for setting the story straight.

Brands that look for safe haven and to avoid controversy become one of many and relinquish their position of thought leadership.

Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo

As an example, take a look the big search, social, and tech companies. When the National Security Agency (NSA) ran amuck over our constitutional right to privacy, they stepped into the spotlight and offered a detailed look at the NSA’s activities based on experience and facts. National security is a hot topic with millions of detractors and advocates. They could have played it safe and said nothing, worrying more about their stock price instead of their social responsibility. Instead, they came forward, injecting themselves into the conversation and offering thought leadership on how to serve both the nation’s security interest and the privacy right of their customers.

Leadership brands understand the value of participating in the conversation that helps form policy.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Finding your voice

How to gain influence through understanding

 Defining your brand’s personality

 Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

Aviation Marketing: How to Achieve brand leadership through content creation

Brand leadership requires that everyone contribute to content creation

Brand leadership requires that everyone contribute to content creation

Brand leadership is about showing and telling the world what the brand stands for.

Brand leadership is achieved by communicating brand values, thoughts and deeds. In the digital world this can be achieved by publishing content via blogs, videos and microsites that are interesting and demonstrate the brands values and commitments to both customers and industry.

Organizations that are considering investing in content creation should first ask  “Why?”

The idea of content creation appeals to many people. They will read an article, see a video or blog post online and feel like they have something valuable to contribute. This is first step in the journey of people-to-people marketing.

When approached by someone in the organization about creating a blog or a video the first question should always be “Why?” This is not a rhetorical question. No doubt there are thousands of blogs and videos dedicated to aviation topics.  This question is asked to determine if the content supports the brand values.

After determining the merit of the “why”, the next questions should be:

  • What are the resources required to support content creation?
  • Does it contribute to the brand leadership effort?

 Resources

Successful content creation informs and inspires the readership. This usually comes from the author’s experience and unique point-of-view with regards to the subject matter. Another important aspect of the undertaking is that successful brand leadership requires a library of content before the first piece is ever published. Visiting a website with an abandoned blog or a single video post indicates a lack of effort and commitment.

Brand leadership requires that every department contribute to content creation

It’s not just the responsibility of marketing or public relations to produce content. People in these departments are trained communicators but may lack the deep knowledge base needed to develop authoritative content. In addition, there are conversations everyday throughout the company that relate to customer satisfaction, product improvement, and user experience that can provide inspiration and valuable input for ongoing content creation.  An additional benefit of company wide content creation can be a library of content that can be accessed online providing a quick reference for solving problems to customer questions.

Additional articles on this topic you may find of interest.

14 social marketing channels for content distribution

Engaging employees in social media marketing

How to write effective online copy

Social marketing begins with the correct strategy

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.