As every business becomes a digital business, to borrow from Accenture’s technology vision for 2013, the leading edge of bank technology seeks to serve customers whose velocity of need increases with the speed and power of their personal digital technology. The digital revolution is shaping banking and providing opportunities for competitive differentiation.
In three recent articles for Independent Banker magazine, I detail three digital business technologies that are, in Accenture’s words, “well past the point where they should be areas of exploration and experimentation and are quickly becoming practical, available tools. . . ”
Payments Proliferation. Is person-to-person (P2P) a valuable canary in the payments mine? Consumers have more ways to make purchases than ever and will have even more choices over the next few years. This is creating a highly fragmented marketplace in which it’s difficult for any single payment option to gain traction. “My biggest issue is nonbank competition. If we lose customers to another payments solution, we will not get them back,” says Bob Steen, chairman and CEO at Bridge Community Bank, Mechanicsville, Iowa.
The Next Step in Mobile. Prepare for the impending shift to mobile, from basic banking to payments on the go. “Increased balance sheet and income pressure, mass consolidation, and heavy regulation mean we need to move fast to correct some glaring holes in bank strategy,” says Bradley G. Leimer, vice president of online and mobile strategy at Mechanics Bank, Richmond, Calif.
Self-Service Technologies. To complement brick-and-mortar storefronts, kiosk stations offer cost-trimming retail growth and customer-driven service. “Everyone is so busy, and people want to bank just like they shop. They want to do anything at any hour,” says Patricia Koczera, senior vice president, Lowell Bank, Lowell, Mass.
“The music is not in the piano.” I once saw this quote by Clement Mok on a poster and have never forgotten its message, particularly when I see speakers giving presentations with the ubiquitous PowerPoint slides. Know what I’m talking about? Slides with graphics pulled from the web with bullet points and text galore. Then as the speaker reads from the slides, I feel my mind nearly going numb. The focus of the talk is on the slides rather than the speaker. And the speaker’s message has to work that much harder to get through.
The slide portion of your presentation can be a powerful tool, like the piano, and can actually be a great partner, reaching your audience, instead of putting them to sleep. Here are three key things I remember when creating slides for presentations we do with our clients:
1. Simplicity always, always trumps complexity in a talk.
Simplicity is a key element in doing an effective and compelling presentation. This does not mean simple. A well-designed slide is one that has clarity—the arrangement is well thought out, words are pared down to their essence, and concepts are prioritized.
At the same time, the presenter fills in relevant information—often with a story from his or her own experience. The content becomes personal and grounded in the speaker’s experience. That way, the audience can connect and relate more authentically with the speaker.
2. Know precisely what you want your audience to take away.
Keeping it simple, with just two to three points you want to be remembered, also serves another purpose: You increase the odds that your audience will remember what you said. According to Garr Reynolds, author of Presentation Zen, “There is simply a limit to a person’s ability to process new information efficiently and effectively.” When you have too much information, your audience has to cope with what Garr calls “excessive cognitive strain,” and your message, even though it may be a good one, gets lost in the clutter of too much information. Have two to three concepts or take-aways you want them to remember. The clearer you are, the more likely you and your message will be remembered.
3. Spend the time to make it yours.
Too many people wait till a few days before the talk to do the “Power Point” portion and undercut themselves in having their presentation be a partner, rather than an afterthought. Steve Jobs is known for spending many hours on his presentations, both on the visuals and on the words, so that they appeared effortless in the delivery.
So construct each slide with care to make sure it communicates efficiently and elegantly. Then, remember that the audience is there to hear what you have to say about the topic. Because, when it comes down to it, the presentation is not about the slides, it’s really about you and the experience you bring.
The slides are a partner to your message. The slides can either underline what you have to say or get in the way. Think again of Steve Jobs, a master of presentations who famously valued design—and thought like a designer. Most people remember him, the experience he created, and how he spoke about Apple’s products. The slides, which were beautifully done, added substance to what he was describing. The slides were his tools, but he was the show.
PS. Need help getting started creating your compelling presentation? We’ve partnered with associations, entrepreneurs and corporate clients on making their presentations great. Call me at 773 220-9433 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Obama for America Campaign took the technology used to run an election campaign a step or two forward—at least for now—by building an API-based platform to manage the campaign. Harper Reed, CTO of the Obama campaign, boiled the reason down to a two-word formula: API = Freedom.
“We needed to build a platform,” Reed said the January 29 Technori Pitch, a start-up presentation event held each month in Chicago. Called Narwhal, the platform formed the basis of dozens of software tools and systems used to run the campaign, everything from a call scheduler to advanced data analytics tools. The GigaOM blog proved more details on “How Obama’s tech team helped deliver the 2012 election.”
“We built an API to have freedom,” Reed told the audience of start-up aficionados and fans. Technori Pitch is monthly showcase of Chicago start ups, which present their companies to the audience and take questions.
The concept the Obama engineering team followed was that a platform with an API would allow the flexible development of integrated products and tools that would help campaign staff and volunteers reelect the president. Reed hacked the first API of Chicago Transit Authority data, which became the data engine powering CTA’s innovative Bus Tracker app.
Reed gave the Obama technology effort a start-up feel by using a suite of systems and tools familiar to most start-up engineers, including Github, Macs, Linux, and Amazon Web Services. In the end, however, it was not the technology that made the difference. As in most businesses and organizations, it was the team, the entire team, from campaign staff to phone volunteers.,
“Technology doesn’t last,” Reed said, “but we had the right people.”
Released in 1989 and starring Kevin Costner as an Iowa corn farmer, Field of Dreams was nominated for Best Picture and is now regarded as a classic American film.
The baseball field that Costner’s character, Ray Kinsella, builds could stand for a number of ambitious, seemingly irrational undertakings. Perhaps that’s why the movie struck a chord with audiences: Everyone has dreams that break the mold of convention. Pursuing those dreams is inspirational.
After watching the film again, we couldn’t help but see Ray as a business owner, and his baseball field as a blog. When observed from that perspective, the skyward voice that communicates with Ray seems to offer some terrific advice for not only building, but also nurturing a blog and growing its audience.
“If you build it, they will come.”
A lot of business owners think that if they create a blog, readers will magically appear like the ghosts of the 1919 Chicago White Sox. Sadly, this is not the case.
What Ray actually heard from above was, “If you build it, he will come.” This scenario is more likely, with the he being a spam-bot promoting a miracle-drug website. The hard truth is that nobody cares that you started a blog. But as long as you care that you started a blog, you might be able to get past the lack of a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
We suggest that you embrace the initial anonymity. Before you begin writing, remember that nobody is reading your stuff. No one will receive an email alert that you just posted. Nobody is going to comment, and nobody is going to tweet it or share it with friends. It’s a position that many popular writers probably envy, because it means that you can write with freedom. You can experiment. You can edit after it’s posted, and nobody will notice. This is the time to try out the feeling of typing your thoughts onto the Internet. It feels awkward at first, like throwing a baseball with the other hand. But if you stay diligent and have some fun, it will eventually feel natural.
“Ease his pain.”
Once you’re getting the hang of posting at least once a week, it’s time to get the word out. The trick to promoting your blog is to not seem like you’re promoting your blog—at least not at first.
Consider the other 7 billion people in the world. Some of them probably have an interest in what you have to say. Now find them. Search keywords on Twitter. Search tags on WordPress. Search news on Google. Chances are people are talking about the same things you are. Now participate. If someone has a question, answer it if you can. If someone tweeted something you find interesting, reply, retweet, and follow.
If you addressed an issue on your blog that is relevant to someone’s question, then by all means link to the specific post, but don’t worry about linking to your blog in every interaction. Put the domain on all of your social media profiles, and let people find it themselves.
It’s about easing his (or her) pain. Trust that the favor will be returned.
“Go the distance.”
Progress will be slow. Your brother-in-law will be telling you to plow the field and replant the crops. If you decide he’s right, then he is. If you decide he’s wrong, he still might be right. If you go the distance anyway, it means you’re enjoying yourself and seeing some positive results in the form of higher search results, more buzz on social media, and deeper engagement with customers and leads.
Keep at it one post at a time, and you might one day find a lot of traffic leading to your site.
A packed room of largely first-time attendees came to the Social Media Club of Chicago’s March meeting to hear about this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive conference—”SouthBy,” in the lingo of the regulars.
The event was held at DraftFCB’s offices in Chicago, notable to me for the impeccably done brown terrazzo up on the 14th floor. You don’t see much terrazzo in office buildings outside lobbies. (I notice because we have an association of terrazzo contractors as a client.)
Panelists agreed that this year’s interactive conference did feature an Earth-shaking digital trend as in years past, such as Twitter in 2007. The 25% increase in attendance, to more than 27,000, stood out. It sounded like a lot of little things came together: an integration of people, brands, and disciplines into a conversational and interactive whole. Several themes stood out to me as I listened:
International emerges. Chris Miller (@scubachris) mentioned that there were more international attendees and presenters than in any of the more than a dozen SXSW conferences he’s attended, with a notable emphasis on the developing world. The internet in the developing world does not look like a monitor; it shows up on a mobile phone, and not a smart phone at that. They are doing wonderful things with plain-old cell phones and SMS in Africa, including epayments.
Things are becoming connected. One of the year’s trends is “the internet of things,” as Melissa Pierce (@melissapierce) noted. Look for apps to become increasingly interconnected with each other and to increasingly diverse types of devices throughout every aspect of our daily lives.
We will be producers. We started to become publishers with blogging in 2004, the beginning of a movement within IBM to show the behemoth corporation’s human faces and personal opinions, Ed Brill (@edbrill) mentioned. With 3D printing, we will all become producers, Lizz Kannenberg (@lizzkannenberg) said.
Service and thoughtfulness rule. Brands that served participant needs got noticed most, Lizz Kannenberg (@lizzkannenberg) said. Everyone has t-shirts. Snacks are good if they are done right. But anything that serves a need of 27,000 people at a fast-paced conference can stand out. Uber, the mobile-based towncar and taxi service, got high marks for providing much-need transportation on several levels, from free basic service to ultra-luxury vehicles.
Collaborate and converse. Panelists remarked on increased collaboration among the digital, film, and music disciplines. Brands sought to collaborate with technology vendors, and the whole event (I have never been) sounds like one big conversation among nerds morphing into another among hipsters, with the two types blending as life becomes digital while retaining the human yearning to connect face to face.
I noticed yesterday that I had done 999 tweets, right on the precipice of my third major Twitter milestone. Coincidentally, I read that today is Twitter’s seventh birthday, and I think it’s awesomely appropriate for me to send my 1,000 tweet on this day.
I’m sure it was my friend and social media expert extraordinaire Barbara Rozgonyi, who once told me that any 1,000 milestone is significant: 1,000 followed (pretty easy), 1,000 followers (harder especially if you’re seeking quality and fit), and 1,000 tweets.
That one should be the easiest, though in my case I would not be surprised if I took longer to reach that milestone than most others. People who do not tweet at all and who monitor and read tweets may never make it, nor will the people who simply lose interest in the medium, as I have on more than one occasion since I started my account on () 2007.
I joined when I gave a presentation in August 2007 on the wonders of Web 2.0. I had been reading about the next version of the web with high interest and put together an online survey of our email list during June 2007. Most respondents found web 2.0 relevant to their business but felt they lacked knowledge while nearly 80% were (extremely or very) interested in learning more about web 2.0 technologies.
In looking at the results now, it’s interesting to see that the term “social media” did not appear, though we wrote and asked about “social networks.” Twitter was not mentioned; I demonstrated the service when I presented the results in August 2007.
Some results were prescient as well. This respondent comment in some way predicted the rise of content marketing: “Being constantly user-focused and developing new ways to deliver content to users will have a big impact on our strategy; we will most likely continue to shy away from user contributed content.”
I called myself a “Twitter skeptic” in a November 2008 blog post on Twitter and social media best practices. But I kept at it on and off, and by August of 2009 I had developed a Twitter list of B2B payments companies that led to a client and the development of www.epaydb.com, a directory of payments companies and content that we maintained until last year. Visit the site to view the Twitter news feeds and read how it grew out of a Twitter list.
As a final note, I listened intently last Tuesday evening to WBEZ as it broadcast an interview with Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, on The Commonwealth Club of California. It’s well worth the time to learn about his management style, as well as the past, present, and future one Twitter.
Skeptic no more. I remain more of a content curator and sharer in by tweets than conversationalist, yet I do, and on this day of tweet 1,000, look forward to 10,000.
We work a lot on paying attention to details in our company. Is what we’ve written accurate? Has the final copy been proofed? Do the message and design reflect the brand? Every detail matters in the business of communications—every detail reflects on us and our customer.
I got a good lesson in attention to digital and material details at a reception for members of the Executives’ Club of Chicago (Canright client) this past week. In this case, the material part also meant “fabric,” as the event was held at the new Burberry flagship store in Chicago.
At the store, tradition meets high-tech and social media. It was so exciting to see a brand that had previously been perceived as stuffy, now anything but. A fashion innovator. And in the space of just a few short years. Associates were friendly and more down-to-earth than I expected, proudly describing details of the clothing—down to the stitching—the store, and the way associates communicate with associates at the other stores around the globe.
I’ve been interested in textiles and their history for a long time and noticed the contemporary cut, color, and feel of the fabric is very different than the company’s traditional fashion look and feel but in keeping with its innovative past. Thomas Burberry was, after all, the inventor of gabardine fabric—and designer of the company’s signature product, the trench coat, first submitted as a design for an army officer’s raincoat to the United Kingdom War Office in 1901. In 1914, Burberry was commissioned by the War Office to adapt its officer’s coat to suit the conditions of contemporary warfare, resulting in the “trench coat”. Its adoption by the fashion world and the cinema is, as they say, history.
Walking into the Burberry store that night, I was struck with the variety of products—purses, shoes, perfumes, jackets, men’s suits, children’s clothes, and of course, the “trenches,” as they call them. Colors and fabrics that show how CEO Angela Ahrendts and her creative director, Christopher Bailey, have reinvented and reinvigorated the brand over the past several years.
The reinvention of the brand is apparent when you see the new Chicago store, on Michigan Avenue at Ontario, with its plaid-embossed chrome-plated exterior and ceiling-to-floor banners in the front windows. Inside, the exterior banners are reinforced by a ceiling-to-floor “digital content display” on the third floor.
“It’s that balance between the physical and virtual worlds that Burberry—and every other retailer—is working overtime to figure out. The pundits keep telling us we’ve entered a brave new Amazon world where on-line retailing is king and bricks-and-mortar a lingering anachronism. The unceasing crowds on Michigan Avenue would suggest otherwise,” wrote architecture critic and blogger Lynn Becker in “Tartan check-mate: Burberry’s Reinvigorates the Mag Mile,” a thoughtful piece on the new store’s design and its relationship to Chicago and Michigan Ave. retail architecture past and present.
The tech blog Mashable covered the store’s digital details, in a piece on the December 2012 grand opening, including a link to the “Art of the Trench” campaign video, which features Chicagoans wearing Burberry. “How we use technology was going to be our greatest differentiator,” Ahrendts told Crain’s Chicago Business.
Growth numbers from back in 2006 provided the digital impetus. As other luxury brands turned in 12-13% growth, Burberry lagged at 1-2%, as detailed in “Burberry’s Digital Transformation,” a Capgemini Consulting interview with Ahrendts. Judging by the most recent results, the effort has been a success, with Burberry generating strong third-quarter 2012 revenue increases of 9% in total revenue and 13% in retail revenue.
The Chicago store is Burberry’s second largest in North America, and will be the first to host Burberry Bespoke trench coats. Shoppers can collaborate with store associates to design their own trench coat via iPads, which many of the store’s sales associates carry.
The Burberry partnership and in-store event added excitement to an evening of informal business and social conversations among Executives’ Club members. As my partner and I walked out into the rainy Chicago night (really), I could only imagine the dialog between Burberry and The Executives’ Club as they did the same in their classic trenches. Yes, the beginning of a beautiful friendship. —Christina Canright
Dave Kerpen is a likeable guy—or a #Likeable guy, in social media terms. He probably hears that one a lot because he is very likeable as a speaker, and his business is all about the marketing power of social media, with two books featuring “Likeable” as the first words in the title.
His presentation and book titles focus on the “Likes” of Facebook for the sake of simplicity, but his talk Friday, Feb. 19 in Chicago gave a sense of social media marketing’s strategic fullness while blowing some of its myths. BigFrontier put on the talk as part of mobium marketing’s long-running New Paradigm series.
There’s a myth that social media is free. It isn’t. “The number-one cost of social media is time,” Kerpen says. “Your time, your staff’s time, intern time, an agency’s time. If you’re going to do social media marketing well, it’s going to take time.”
Another myth: social media produces instant results. “It’s like a large cocktail party. You have conversations, and as those relationships mature, you will get results,” Kerpen says.
He told a number of stories about social media and business. The story about the Rio Las Vegas is a great one about how a company listened to him on social media—he was complaining about the service at another hotel on the Strip—and through only an empathic tweet gained, over the course of some period of time, at least $10,000 in new business from Kerpen and his large social network.
The network effects of social media conversations and comments are incredible, making listening as well as participating critical for businesses of any type, including business-to-business companies. “There’s no such thing as B2B; there’s only B2P,” he says, “because at the end of the day, we don’t sell to businesses, we sell to people.”
Social media tools today make it easy to target people within a business, especially LinkedIn. You can target ads in both LinkedIn and Facebook extremely specifically: company, title, demographic, location—nearly anything tagged in a profile, actually. Facebook’s new Social Graph search will compound the personal effect of social marketing, for both consumer and business brands. As Kerpen put it:
“Ten years ago, you’d go to find a dentist in the Yellow Pages or a coupon book. Five years ago, you would go to Google and search for “dentists.” Now I can search on Facebook for the dentists my friends like the most. This is a total game changer and potential Google killer.”
B2B brand conversations also take place in ways whose influence you cannot predict. As an example, I came across a short story in Fast Company called “The Juice Train,” which turned out to be a video about a new fuel-efficient train, powered by General Electric locomotives and operated by CSX Transportation. It pulls more than half-a-million gallons of Tropicana orange juice from Florida to New Jersey. GE’s electromotive marketing department produced the video and included quick visuals of CSX and Tropicana. I told my wife about it this morning with positive references to all three brands, and now I’ve written it up in a blog, complete with a link to the fast-motion video, which is extremely cool if you like trains:
You aren’t likely to go out and buy a GE locomotive, nor am I. But I’ll bet you like GE just a little bit more, and the effects of these conversations as they move through social networks certainly can’t hurt, especially because the content is generated by someone who doesn’t work for GE. (For the record, I refuse to call myself or anyone else who makes a comment on a social network a “user.”)
Social media makes it easier to tell and distribute a story, and the best stories a business can tell will provide value to the reader (entertainment, in the case of the GE video). From a sales point of view, “education and engagement last a lot longer than in the traditional sales cycle,” Kerpen says, “but when you do drive sales, you get loyalty through the work you put in. . . . Focus on building relationships, telling stories, providing value, and generating business through pull marketing.”
And don’t worry about making mistakes—because you will say the wrong thing. “At the end of the day, it’s just a very large cocktail party. Sometimes at a cocktail party, we put our foot in the mouth. We say we’re sorry and get on with life.”
I know, that’s not a typical opening question. It may seem cliché, but take a minute and really consider your answer. What gives you chills or moves you when you watch it? What motivates you when you read it? What simply puts you in a better mood after hearing it? What makes you cry? What makes you laugh?
Inspiration is a quality of experience that underlines what we value and care about. It goes hand in hand with our vision for our lives and what we choose to focus on. It goes way beyond cliché if it really inspires.
Sources of inspiration, whatever they may be for you, are important because they encourage us to take risks—to do things we may be afraid to do—and to keep going when the going gets tough. They help us find ideas when we feel we have none or when we need a kick in the seat of the pants.
As a creative firm, we’re always looking for fresh ways to be inspired. About a year ago, at one of our early morning staff meetings, I showed a scene from the Kenneth Branagh movie version of Shakespeare’s Henry V. It’s the famous soliloquy where Henry, about to embark on a battle where his forces are outnumbered five to one, encourages his “band of brothers.” “This story shall the good man teach his son,” he exhorts, while inspiring their confidence in themselves.
I felt that this kind of inspiration and how it put me in a positive frame of mind, orienting me toward a vision, would do the same for others in the office. By starting off this way, our meeting ended up being more engaging than previous meetings, and more fun. Ever since, we’ve held weekly inspiration meetings. We take turns presenting something we find inspiring—discussing how it inspires us, what it means to us personally. And we often find it relates to how we approach our work. It helps us learn, grow, and most importantly, connect with a shared vision.
Our inspiration meetings help get our creative juices flowing. We like to think our ideas come not solely from inspiration, but from creating that potential to be inspired.
You don’t have to be in the creative business to be inspired, share what inspires you, or benefit from others’ inspirations. When ideas flow freely, work becomes more innovative, interesting, and efficient.
Take that extra moment today to uncover what inspires you. What do you care about? What motivates you? In the end, you will be a more interesting person, a more effective worker, and a more connected team member.
As for King Henry V and his brother warriors, they went on to win the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 AD with only 25 English casualties.
Often I hear company owners say they don’t want to bother with their websites. When I ask them about it, I get one of two responses: They say they don’t like their website but don’t want to spend the time and money to rework it. Or they say it’s “fine,” it will do for now. Either way, the website is not doing what a site is meant to do: Be an introduction for a company, and a continuing way to reach potential customers.
Many firms will put more money into making their reception space look impressive than they will put into their website and online marketing. They understand the value of the impression an office can make. The website is in that same category, except its reach is much greater. Considering how much a website could do for a company, just leaving the site “as is” essentially amounts to wasting a valuable sales and marketing resource. A good site can be set up to capture leads, tell what is unique about your company, and show how your company can be a benefit before a potential client even contacts you.
But what if you finally get past some of those objections and you decide to bite the bullet and redo the site? Given that it can be a challenging process, here are the five most common mistakes to avoid:
1. Looks like everyone else—impersonal.
Many sites try to look like each other, or follow the latest trend. They start with a home page with too much content or often feel cold and impersonal.
A site needs to reflect the company’s personality—whether it’s “we play tough, nothing is too difficult for us to tackle” or “we listen to you and will handle any problems or needs with expediency, so you don’t need to worry.” The tough players will have an in-your-face site, and the service-oriented firm will have a warmer, more accessible feel. Professionalism comes through for both.
2. Internally focused on the company rather than externally on the client.
Frankly, clients don’t care that much about your company’s mission. What they do care about is: What can you do for them, and what kind of reputation do you have? When you focus more on the benefits you offer, your prospect senses you will focus on them—and you more readily differentiate your company. Client alerts and articles in your areas of expertise show what your company and its people feel passionate about and have special expertise in. A company can gain a lot of credibility if it provides client briefings and backgrounders on especially complex issues.
3. No calls to action.
Guide visitors on the site to what you want them to do, whether it’s calling you or downloading reports and white papers. Use download buttons and links that are obviously buttons to click on. Buttons also make it easier for them to see where to sign up for a newsletter or how to access your blog if you have one.
4. Making it difficult for interested people to contact your company and get access to its resources.
On many sites, it’s difficult to find a phone number; instead, you get a form. While you do want to capture visitors to your site, you also want to make it easy for them to call you directly. Sites are for making you more accessible to your customers, not less.
5. Photos that don’t relate to what the company does (pictures of the city, office building).
There are exceptions to this, but because so many sites use the city they live in as the main home page photo, it’s best to stay away from a city photo, unless you use it in a unique way. Look for images that are compelling but not cliche. How many have people sitting around a conference table? How many use stock photography and models rather than real people? Every company can find creative ways to present its work.
If you know you need a better web presence or recognize one or more of these mistakes on your site, send me an email at email@example.com. I offer a free hour-long assessment to help you determine where to start.