Monday, 19 March 2012

Sweat the small stuff

Shortly after arriving at DTDigital, I was asked to prepare a presentation for the WPP Global Retail Forum taking place here in Sydney. Generally speaking I'm more accustomed to giving presentations to people in jeans than suits, and never before in Australia, so I was a bit nervous to say the least - but they were a lovely crowd and gave warm feedback. Phew!

Anyway, I was pretty impressed with the breadth of presentations on the day. A few takeaways:
  • Retailers need to be much more transparent with their pricing then they are at present. Customers are in your shop armed with information which is accurate, portable, real-time and free.
  • A free eBook from Google called Zero Moment of Truth came up a few times - haven't read it yet but apparently it's pretty good 
  • The JCPenney case study (3 year experiment) is worth keeping an eye on - they've completely revamped their brand and have ditched the mark-downs previously littered throughout the year. Very interesting from a marketers point of view, although early signs are mixed.
  • 75% of everything sold in America is sold at a 50% discount!
Some refreshingly useful social media stuff too, from Angela Morris at JWT - good to see this industry is finally growing up:
  • 0.5% of people who 'like' a brand have created any content around it
  • Only 6% of people want brand interaction in a social space (the rest want to be left alone, thank you)
  • Only 8% of people who interacted with a brand in a social space (so that's 8% of 6% who bothered in the first place, for those keeping score) said that the experience was 'really good'
Seems to reinforce my point of view - the primary role of brands in the social space is as a service mechanism. If someone complains, offer to help and then follow through. talk was called 'Sweat the small stuff' - a diatribe about paying attention to detail across five key areas of your online offering. I only had 20 minutes and so kept it quite light. Here are the slides. Pictures of sweaty men were added by one of our Creative Directors - if you like them, let me know and I'll make sure the credit gets to him!

Agency hack

Damian pointed me at an excellent article on the hacking culture at Facebook.

It's well worth a read, and I've been mulling over what it means in the context of an agency likes ours. Obviously we have developers, and we look for them to spend time exploring new products and tools and ways of working. But for the rest of us, I think there's an important message here as well.

We should be hacking our tools and processes as much as Facebook hacks its code.

This applies as much to our pre-existing tools and processes as the new ones coming in. Everyone in every discipline - from the most junior to the most senior - needs to think about the way we do business (whether this is at an industry, project, account or individual level) and think about how it can be improved. What do we take for granted that can be done better?

Then think about how we go about implementing the improvements. It might not call for wholesale change, maybe it's just a case of coming up with a modest pilot to see if it works. We need to develop a culture where we fail quickly, celebrate the attempt and move on. We don't want to get bogged down in detail – get it 90% right quickly and fix the rest on the way.

And while we should listen to the voice of experience, we have to realise this isn't necessarily the be-all and end-all. Just because something didn't work in the past, doesn't mean it can't work now. The reverse is also true.

Be wary of the fact that management tends to slow things down. Management's role in all this is to be available for advice and political support, rather than implementing the changes themselves - otherwise it doesn't scale. It's helpful for managers to know what's going on so they can anticipate issues - but as much as possible, the person at the coal face should implement the change. And let's all learn from our failures as well as our successes. You get kudos for trying and failing.