Memorable Album Covers of 2014: The Self-Portraits

December 20th, 2014 by ddeal

16-Yelle-Completement-fou

In 2014, musicians once again demonstrated that album cover art still matters — even as album sales continue to drop. The album cover remains a powerful way for artists to visualize their music and their personalities. According to analyst Mary Meeker, we upload and share 1.8 billion images a day. To get our attention in a world cluttered with pictures, artists need to stand out with strong, compelling visual stories that grab our attention and don’t let go. And album cover art needs to represent the artist across a variety of online and offline touch points, ranging from concert merchandise to Twitter wallpaper. So it’s no wonder that in 2014, we witnessed a plethora of artists using album covers to literally sell themselves to potential music buyers. Pharrell’s face on the cover of Girl is more than an album cover: it’s a billboard that sells the artist behind the music, repeated on his website, Facebook page, and everywhere else you find Pharrell. Even someone as popular as Pharrell has only a split second to convince you to pay attention to him. So he make the most of his moment to keep the focus of your attention on him. But as my new SlideShare, Memorable Album Covers of 2014: The Self-Portraits, shows, artist portraits can be evocative, alluring, and anything but bland.

For instance, Flying Lotus’s You’re Dead!, designed by Japanese artist Shintaro Kago, is a mystical piece that is practically a graphic novel on an album cover. And Lykkie Li’s cover of I Never Learn is a dark, textured portrait that conveys a mysterious sensuality. Especially as artists continue to struggle to monetize their music, you can expect album cover art to continue to evolve and excite. Popular music has, and always will be, a visual medium as well as aural one. Even as the music industry continues to change, you can take that assumption to the bank.




Local Search: “The Next Digital Battleground for Brands”

December 15th, 2014 by ddeal

google-local-search

If you had to choose the next battleground for digital marketing, what would you nominate? Gamification? Mobile? Content marketing? Well, how about local search? According to a new Forrester Consulting study commissioned by local search automation company SIM Partners (a client of mine), brands with local search strategies are enjoying crucial benefits such as improved leads and brand lift. SIM Partners CEO Jon Schepke says local is “the next digital battleground for brands.” But why? Two words: mobile and context.

First, big brands with multiple locations have made local a priority as mobile adoption increases. According to eMarketer, the global base of mobile phone users was expected to reach 4.55 billion in 2014, and by 2017, nearly 70 percent of the world’s population will own a mobile phone. And mobile phones facilitate commerce: 80 percent of local searches conducted on mobile phones lead to purchase, according to a study conducted by comScore. But local businesses (such as your local pizza parlor) and outlets of national franchises (e.g., Sonic Drive-in; Holiday Inn) aren’t going to get any of that commerce unless users can find them. Hence, search marketing retains the largest share of digital spend according to the Forrester Research US Digital Marketing Forecast, 2014 to 2019 (released in November 2014), with mobile accounting for 66 percent of the growth in interactive spend over the next five years. I don’t think the strength of spending on both areas is a coincidence, and neither does Forrester — the company identifies the mobile savviness of a brand’s customers as a key determinant of how urgent a brand should embrace local.

But something else is going on, too: the rise of contextual marketing. With contextual marketing, brands create more personal experiences based on the context of your behavior, such as where you are located. According to Forrester, contextual marketing is the new marketing remit. Customers, empowered with location- and context-aware devices, expect marketers to customize content accordingly instead of relying on generic messaging that is the same regardless of whether you are in New York or Seattle.

SIM Partners CMO Tari Haro recently noted that according to Forrester Vice President and Principal Analyst Shar VanBoskirk, contextual marketing will “steal media dollars” to fund “customer-obsessed contextual experiences.” And VanBoskirk suggests that to become better contextual marketers, companies need to adopt a number of strategies, including going local. She recommends that brands have global business stories, but make them local in order to be more context-aware. U.S. Bank, for instance, works with SIM Partners to improve its local presence via social media, mobile, and search.

But the new Forrester Consulting report, Uncovering the Benefits of Local Search Marketing, also notes that many brands have not yet fully embraced local search. Limited resources and lack of expertise are hampering marketers’ efforts with local search. To me, the answer is to develop a strategy that links local to context, especially since Forrester Consulting agrees that brands with local strategies are realizing strong benefits. Local search may very well become a battleground, all right — with strategy separating the winners from the losers.

 




Pink Floyd’s “The Endless River”: Revenge of the Dinosaurs

November 19th, 2014 by ddeal

PINK-FLOYD-THE-ENDLESS-RIVER-album

Pink Floyd’s new (and final) album, The Endless River, had every reason to fail on its release November 10. At a time when album sales are in a free fall, the Floyd released an unabashed 53-minute artifact of the era of album-oriented rock. The Endless River consists mostly of ambient instrumentals (culled from the group’s 1994 album The Division Bell) and no Spotify-friendly singles. Lead guitarist David Gilmour cautioned that The Endless River as “not for the iTunes, downloading-individual-tracks generation” (a comment that most certainly horrified the Floyd’s Columbia Record Label). And yet, The Endless River is succeeding, at least by today’s standards: the album was the most pre-ordered ever on Amazon U.K., is Number 1 in the United Kingdom, and is already the top-selling album of 2014. I believe The Endless River‘s success is a testament to the power of branding and staying true to yourself.

The Power of Branding

Pink Floyd had not released an album in 20 years and only four since 1983. Of its founding members — Syd Barrett, Nick Mason, Roger Waters, and Richard Wright — only Mason remained with the Floyd in 2014, along with virtuoso guitarist David Gilmour, who joined the band in late 1967. Barrett had been kicked out of the band decades ago, Waters had left amid great acrimony, and Wright had succumbed to cancer in 2008. But the Floyd has always been both a band and a successful brand — one that that encompasses a memorable name, successful music, multi-media, merchandise, and striking visual iconography.

DivisionBell

Going back to 1967, Pink Floyd created enduring albums that transcended the progressive rock genre and resonated with generations of listeners (including me). And its partnership with art design group Hipgnosis resulted in the creation of album cover designs and artwork that fascinated fans in the 1970s (during the band’s glory years) and remain relevant in today’s era of visual storytelling. Even when the band was not producing music after The Division Bell, Pink Floyd remained in the Read more »




6 Predictions for Music Streaming

November 14th, 2014 by ddeal

StreamingMusic

Forget Taylor Swift’s futile Spotify boycott. The real news emerging from the music industry this week was the launch of YouTube’s streaming service. The new service consists of YouTube with streaming functionality (as opposed to being a new product with a different name, thus benefitting from YouTube’s brand reach). On November 17, YouTube is also launching (in beta form) YouTube Music Key, a paid streaming option offering ad-free online and offline listening for $9.99. YouTube now enters an increasingly crowded streaming industry that ranges from all-purpose services such as Pandora and Spotify to specialty offerings such as Muzooka (which matches emerging artists with both fans and members of the music industry). And YouTube, owned by the world’s most valuable brand, has more power to disrupt the game than anyone. In the aftermath of YouTube’s entry to the streaming field, I predict six possible directions for the streaming business:

1. We will see a shakeout among major streaming platforms. The survivors, faced with fewer competitors, will call the shots on artist compensation even more so than they do today.

2. We may see the emergence of a few more specialty streaming services, such as Muzooka, to act as the intriguing alternatives to big players. For instance, we could see an alternative boutique streaming service by an artist consortia (involving someone like Jay Z, whose brand transcends music). We also may see the launch of private-label services from music-savvy brands such as Pepsi. A house service by an American Express, offered exclusively to its customers, could act as an effective music discovery platform as well as a customer acquisition and retention tool. (Moreover, in a combination of the artist-owned and corporate private label approaches, we could see a a corporate service launched in association with a star like Jay Z acting as investor, brand partner, curator, or any combination of those roles.)

3. The conversation about fair artist compensation that Taylor Swift reignited with her Spotify boycott will subside without effecting any change in artist compensation, just as the debate eventually petered out after Thom Yorke and the Black Keys boycotted Spotify. Another artist may make the topic trend again with a well-publicized boycott, but the conversation will remain contained to pundits who won’t move the needle.

4. The have-not artists — the vast majority of artists who are not superstars — will keep their content on streaming services and continue to be compensated as they are now. Why? Because they lack the choices that Taylor Swift has.

5. Savvy artists will learn how to use streaming as a promotional platform together with other digital platforms. They will rely on their recorded content to support touring, merchandising, song licensing revenue, and co-brands with businesses.

6. Finally, and most importantly: fans will continue to stream music, legally or illegally (as they are doing with Taylor Swift’s new album, 1989). When it comes to music streaming, fans are loyal to songs, not artists. Fans don’t care about boycotts. And fans are no longer willing to risk money on an entire album’s worth of songs from artists they do not know. Fans don’t necessarily take time to write Wall Street Journal editorials about fair compensation or blog posts about the future of streaming. Fans simply shape the future of music with their listening and buying habits. Album sales continue to slide, and Apple’s iTunes business is slumping. As Adele’s manager, Jonathan Dickins, says, “Streaming is the future.” Why? Because fans make it so.

Oh, and here’s one more related prediction you can take to the bank: Taylor Swift will continue to build her empire from touring, brand deals, and merchandising sales. Any revenue lost from boycotting Spotify will have little impact on her success. The release of the album 1989 in 2014 is all about priming the pump for the 1989 World Tour, which kicks off in May 2015 — which is where the real money is going to be made. (Her Red tour, which concluded in 2014, grossed $150 million.) Taylor Swift’s approach to building her career — writing her own songs, creating music that crosses genres, building a fan base through touring, and honoring her fans in person and on social media — is the blueprint for aspiring artists to emulate. And artists will need to include streaming in the process.

What are your predictions?




The CMO Is Changing — Are You?

October 28th, 2014 by ddeal

cmo_septcover_72dpi

Chief marketing officers are becoming business leaders with operational expertise in order to gain the respect of their C-suite peers. Tomorrow’s CMOs will need to master analytics, technology, and innovation. Those are some of the key take-aways of Your CMO Is Changing, a presentation by Forrester Research Vice President and Principal Analyst Sheryl Pattek. She delivered her remarks October 28, 2014, at the Forrester Forum for eBusiness & Channel Strategy Professionals.

The theme of the 2014 eBusiness Forum, attended by Fortune 1000 organizations, is “Map Your Path to Digital Mastery.” The purpose of the 2014 Forum is to help business leaders understand how to embrace digital as a way of doing business. Pattek helped eBusiness professionals in the audience understand how they need to change in order to prosper on their way to becoming CMOs.

Pattek set the stage by outlining a familiar challenge facing CMOs today. They’re facing an exploding world of marketing channels and customers whose attention span is about 8 seconds — meaning CMOs have 8 seconds or less to engage potential customers before they turn their attention elsewhere. Just as the customer touch points have increased, so has the CMO’s remit: from branding and promotional efforts to a wide range of responsibilities such as eCommerce and customer loyalty.

CMOs are responding to their expanding roles by taking control even as their worlds seem less controllable. They are doing so in a number of ways: linking marketing to business results, tackling broader organizational roles, building influence among the C-suite, and using technology and data to enhance customer engagement.

“CMOs are meeting business metrics like increasing shareholder value and meeting revenue targets, not just building brand awareness,” she said.

Tackling broader organizational roles is not only essential for CMO survival but also for CMOs to deepen their influence among their C-suite peers — a reason why CMOs are investing more time in the strategies that define the operations beyond marketing (59 percent of CMOS are growing their influence in general business strategy).

“CMOs are looking to evolve to the next level in the C-suite,” she said. “Hence, they are expanding their role in strategy and general management. They are developing line management and operational responsibility. Seldom do they make the jump from CMO to CEO. They need to get operational experience first.”

Those broader organizational roles are manifested in four ways:

  • Product development: for instance, the CMO of Quiznos is involved in developing new Quiznos sandwiches. “The CMO has the voice of the customer and can see what’s on the horizon,” Pattek said. “And can feed that insight into a test-and-learn approach.”
  • Profit/loss management: the CMO of Wrigley manages a line operation (Latin America). “Getting general business experience is essential to growing,” she said.
  • Mergers & Acquisitions: the CMO of Land O’Lakes is involved in driving strategy for M&A.
  • Innovation: taking the business to the next level, which is the role of the CMOs at General Electric and Open Text.

With the expanding roles comes anxiety — specifically about the role of technology to support the business. According to Pattek, CMOs generally believe technology has business impact, but their involvement in marketing technology decisions lags. (To wit: 45 percent of CMOs view technology is essential, but only 25 percent are leading cross-functional teams to develop a process for selecting the right technology vendors.)

“Solving the customer data quagmire remains Job 1 for the CMO,” she said. “Only 41 percent of CMOs use big data to make marketing decisions. They feel hampered by their ability to harness the data.”

In fact, mastering technology will be essential for tomorrow’s CMOs to succeed — and technology mastery is but one essential ingredient for future success. Pattek outlined these seven necessities for CMOs to thrive tomorrow:

  • Have a customer orientation, not a brand orientation.
  • Have an analytic mindset.
  • Be a savvy technologist.
  • Possess digital know-how.
  • Be fanatical about innovation.
  • Be a broad business leader.
  • Be a relationship builder.

“Today’s eBusiness expert is well positioned to be tomorrow’s CMO,” she added. “eBusiness professionals possess the broad set of skills required.” Many eBusiness leaders are blazing the trail to be CMO, Sona Chawla, CMO of Walgreens (who is a retail digital pioneer) and Julie Bornstein, CMO of Sephora.

“Sona Chawla and Julie Borstein are people who understand cross-channel marketing and have a keen insight into digital,” she said.

Finally, if you consider yourself to be a candidate to be a successful CMO of tomorrow, here is what you can do now:

  • Help the organization move beyond digital marketing to make all marketing digital.
  • Bring a digital perspective to align consistent engagement across the entire buying journey.
  • Leverage your technology know-how to build the marketing technology infrastructure.
  • Use your customer insights to help CMOs understand what’s happening in your world and with customer behavior in general.

eBusiness leaders who complement their know-how with confidence, a curiosity for new insights, a strong business orientation, and an ability to anticipate and react quickly to change just might be ready to become CMOs of the future. Are you?




Why Winning with Digital Is Like Making a Movie

October 28th, 2014 by ddeal

lotr

Mastering digital business is a lot like making a movie: you need to assemble a network of experts instead of trying to do it all yourself. Embracing an ecosystem to create customer value was the main take-away of Level Up: The Next Challenge in Digital Mastery, a presentation by Bill Doyle, vice president, principal analyst, Forrester Research. Doyle delivered his remarks October 28, 2014, at the Forrester Forum for eBusiness & Channel Strategy Professionals.

The theme of the 2014 eBusiness Forum, attended by Fortune 1000 organizations, is “Map Your Path to Digital Mastery.” The purpose of the 2014 Forum is to help business leaders understand how to embrace digital as a way of doing business.

“Digital mastery is a lot bigger than buffing up your website,” Doyle said. “Your competitors are creating new ecosystems to create better products at a lower cost than you can.”

The alternative to mastering digital is to allow digital to disrupt your business. According to Doyle, 93 percent of business executives say digital technology will disrupt their business within the next 12 months, but only 34 percent say they are ready. “A lot of industries are vulnerable right now, ranging from telecom to media,” he said. “It’s not just a matter of if you will be disrupted, but when.”

BillDoyle

He compared the evolution of digital to the transformation of the motion picture industry. Decades ago, Hollywood studios used to own the entire process of creating and distributing movies via a vertically oriented system. But anti-trust legislation and, more importantly, the rise of TV, disrupted Hollywood, creating a massive decline in movie attendance.

“The power in Hollywood shifted to agile, independent producers,” he said. “The result was better products: fewer, better movies. Movies today are made via an ecosystem of specialists who come together for the purpose of creating a movie: they disband when done.”

He indicated that thanks to digital, the modern way of making movies is being adopted by many industries across the customer lifecycle. Disruptors such as Uber to Wealthfront are “relying on networks of partners to come together to create better products than vertically oriented firms can.”

For instance, Wealthfront is a “robo-advisor” that provides automated wealth management services. Founded in 2011, Wealthfront relies on a network of partners to provide wealth management, ranging from Xignite for market data to Apex Clearing for accounting opening, funding, and trading. Wealthfront hit $1 billion in asset value twice as fast as it took Charles Schwab to do so. And Wealthfront employs only 50 people, most of whom are developers.

“Wealthfront can offer services at much less cost than traditional assets managers,” he said.

Wealthfront-copy

Meantime, Uber famously relies on an ecosystem of drivers, technology affiliates, technology providers, and other partners to upend the transportation industry with surge pricing. Moreover, Uber shares its software with any firm that wants to embed agile, Uber-like capabilities in their own apps.

“When you mess with pricing as Uber is doing, all hell breaks loose,” Doyle added.

According to Doyle, mastering digital is not the province of the smaller start-ups, however. Any business that continuously uses technology to create new sources of value for customers and to increase operational agility in service of customers can succeed as Uber and Wealthfront are doing. In fact, Bank of America, 3M, and Walgreens (all appearing at the 2014 Forum) have done so.

“Established businesses need to accelerate their transition as Bank of America, 3M, and Walgreens are doing,” he added. “Walgreens is undergoing a cultural transformation. Bank of America is riding a storm surge of empowered customers. 3M has a long tradition of customer-centric innovation, which is driving the company’s embrace of digital.”

And the key to winning with digital is the same for big companies as it is for smaller start-ups: move quickly and open up your business to an ecosystem. Act like a modern-day filmmaker and look outside the four walls of your business to find the right talent for the time.

 




Jermaine Dupri Wants to Save R&B with New Jagged Edge Album

October 23rd, 2014 by ddeal

JaggedEdge

If you want to get a rise out of music legend Jermaine Dupri, ask him about the new Jagged Edge album, J.E. Heartbreak II. Dropping October 27, J.E. Heartbreak II reunites Dupri with the group he signed to his So So Def record label in 1997. And Dupri promises that J.E. Heartbreak II will deliver the kind of lush, harmony-rich ballads that helped Jagged Edge become an R&B and pop success 14 years ago.

“The new album is straight Jagged Edge,” he says in the following exclusive interview. “It’s what Jagged Edge does and what it has always done.”

What Jagged Edge has always done is create music that defines the sound of R&B and also succeeds commercially. When Jagged Edge emerged in the late 1990s and early 2000s,  Jagged Edge songs such as “He Can’t Love U” and “Let’s Get Married” captured the groove-heavy romance of R&B and also ranked high on both the R&B and pop charts. Jagged Edge’s breakthrough album, J.E. Heartbreak, released in 2000, topped the R&B charts, made the pop Top 10, and sold more than 2 million copies. Throughout the 2000s, Jagged Edge remained an R&B mainstay, recording six albums (its last album was recorded in 2011) even as R&B began to lose its mainstream appeal.

Dupri also believes J.E. Heartbreak II may also serve a larger purpose: to rekindle music fans’ love of R&B, which Dupri believes has been kicked to the gutter.

“R&B used to be the most popular of all music,” he says. “Now you have to go seek out R&B artists on the right radio stations.”

Fourteen years have gone by since the massive success of J.E. Heartbreak. As Dupri discusses in our interview, J.E. Heartbreak II captures the Jagged Edge sound, which is to say the sound of pure R&B. All the hallmarks of Jagged Edge are evident in the recently released single off J.E. Heartbreak II, “Getting over You.” With J.E. Heartbreak II, Dupri seeks to draw attention to the R&B genre just as Rick Rubin and Johnny Cash reignited interest in country music through their collaboration in the 1990s.

Read on for more insight into a new collaboration forged in R&B.

How would you describe the new Jagged Edge album, J.E. Heartbreak II?

The new album is straight Jagged Edge. It’s what Jagged Edge does and what it has always done. Jagged Edge creates love songs. Jagged Edge sings songs like “Let’s Get Married,” or the new single, “Getting Over You,” which is not the kind of thing you hear in rap or hip-hop. This is a group that has a fan base already. This album will appeal to that fan base. J.E. Heartbreak II is for people who are wondering where are you guys been?

How did you guys get back into the studio together?

I was just doing what Jermaine Dupri does what he’s supposed to do: always moving. Always looking for opportunities to make great music. Jagged Edge was ready to make new music. Jagged Edge is part of my legacy. So working together was a natural and easy decision.

J.E. Heartbreak II captures the sound of R&B. How would you describe the state of R&B?

R&B is headed in the direction that country is in already: it’s a marginalized specialty music that you have to look to find it as opposed to a form of music that you listen to everywhere. R&B used to be the most popular of all music. Now you have to go seek out R&B artists on the right radio stations just like you have to find real country on specialty stations.

Why has R&B become marginalized?

Music has become so fragmented, and R&B is a victim of that fragmentation. R&B has become typecast as the kind of music your mother and father listen to. But, in fact, younger generations will listen to it and love it when they hear it. On my Twitter feed, which represents pop America, people are telling me how much they like what they’re hearing from the new R&B album coming from Jagged Edge.

Generations coming into the industry in the digital age are not learning about R&B, and artists with distinctive R&B sounds are being overlooked in the generic American Idol era. If Al Green were starting out today, he would not become a star because the record industry would keep his music in an R&B box. Here’s the problem: Al Green has a distinctive voice that helped him break through in the 1970s. But that distinctive voice would hold him back today. Why? Because he doesn’t sound like the kind of generic artist who American Idol has conditioned the public to hear. But the greats don’t sound like everyone else. Al Green does not sound like Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson does not sound like Prince. Prince does not sound like Luther Vandross.

1321208802_alg

Today it’s hard to find the separation of styles necessary to make R&B its own style.

What about Beyoncé or Justin Timberlake? They are not only considered R&B by Billboard, but they obviously have enjoyed breakthrough success

Beyoncé and Justin Timberlake are making more of a strand of R&B. They are not making traditional R&B. Beyoncé is kind of like Usher. She has defined a different wave of music that draws upon R&B. Beyoncé, Chris Brown, and Trey Songz are making more of a hybrid of R&B, rap, and hip-hop. Chris Brown is a pure singer. If he could clean up his act and present himself as an artist who wants to sing as opposed to a singer who wants to rap, he could become the biggest singer in the world.

Beyonce

What I’m talking about is traditional R&B. Go try to find it. You’ll have to look very hard. What’s going on is that artists who would have been R&B are instead rappers and hip-hop stars.

Did rap and hip-hop steal the audience for R&B?

A generation of kids that wanted to be in radio and wanted to run the record business all grew up in an era when rap became the most prominent music genre. The kids that are now growing up in the ranks, the A&R guys who find new music, first look for rap and hip-hop. They have no love for R&B. They don’t have a reason to love it because they don’t know about it.

But I know there is an audience for R&B. Young people who know about R&B are telling me, “JD, please bring back R&B because the music today sucks.” Fans want something different than what they are hearing today.

How are you promoting J.E. Heartbreak II? Read more »




Three Marketing Lessons from Bill McDermott’s “Winners Dream”

October 14th, 2014 by ddeal

81DViTjyRLL

Everyone loves a winner. But what are winners made of? According to Winners Dream, new book by SAP CEO Bill McDermott, winners know how to dream big, empathize with others, and sense and respond to change. McDermott’s book matters to marketers not only because he believes in the power of marketing to rally people around a dream, but also because his leadership lessons form a north star for anyone who aspires to be a CMO. Here are three marketing lessons from Winners Dream.

1. Dream Big

Winners Dream tells the story of McDermott’s journey from operating a corner deli in Long Island to becoming global CEO of a billion-dollar global brand in Germany. The core tenet of Winners Dream is that successful people consistently set ambitious goals for themselves. For instance when he goes to work for the corner deli to put himself through college, McDermott decides he’s going to own the deli, not just become the most reliable employee. After he graduates from college and interviews for a job at Xerox, he tells his interviewer, “Sir, one day I would hope to become CEO.” Still later, when he becomes president of SAP’s American operations, he startles the company by declaring that within three years, SAP America will earn 10 times as much growth as the organization has achieved in its past few years. You get the idea: no one leaps out of bed to win a silver medal.

Dreaming big sounds inspirational (and challenging enough) when you have only your own dreams to worry about. But how do you get others to rally around a dream, too? Here is where effective marketing comes into play. When McDermott is a high-ranking executive at Xerox, he takes on the challenge of inspiring the company’s under-appreciated Xerox Business Services (XBS) division to accelerate its growth. He needs to communicate to XBS employees that they are valuable to Xerox and that great things are expected of them. His answer is to create an internal branding campaign, Go4Growth, whose centerpiece is a high-concept kick-off meeting in San Antonio. The idea of a high-concept event bothers some Xerox executives because of the cost and effort required. But cost and effort are just the point: XBS employees need to see that Xerox is willing to invest in them. So he hires one of my clients, One Smooth Stone, to create an event with pageantry.

The event not only defines ambitious goals for a large group, it also sends the message that they are valued and that great things are expected of them. As he writes, “By the time our people left San Antonio and returned to their corners of the country, I believed, they would feel like valued members of a national team. And they’d produce. The alternative, circulating a memo or throwing a halfhearted kick-off, may have saved a chunky line item that quarter, but it would never unleash the level of engagement that we needed to sell an additional $2 billion of document management services.”

Lesson: if you want to inspire people to dream big, make a grand statement. Cold-cuts at the Ramada Inn don’t make winners dream.

2. Empathize

Time and again, empathy, or the ability to put himself in the shoes of someone else, serves McDermott Read more »




Is Apple Disrupting Industries Again?

October 3rd, 2014 by ddeal

apple_watch_iwatch_2

Do you remember when Apple could change entire industries with its product launches? Apple just might be returning to its industry disrupting ways with the launch of Apple Watch. When the Watch was unveiled in September, not only was I was struck by the passionate reactions (ranging from praise to vilification), I was impressed by how many different industry publications offered opinions. We heard from markets as wide ranging as advertising, automotive, fashion, healthcare, and retail. In a recently published blog post for innovation consultancy BeyondCurious, I speculate on how Apple Watch might affect automotive and retail. As I note in my post, the Apple Watch’s impact on retail really hinges on the uptake of the Apple Pay mobile wallet. In other words, Apple Watch is part of a larger ecosystem that Apple hopes to build and therefore influence. And Apple just might succeed: the necessary financial institutions and major retailers are falling into line (although not all of them are). Is Apple the industry disruptor really back? Let me know what you think.




How Robert Plant Reinvented Himself

October 1st, 2014 by ddeal

10536515_10154511755675618_5445053060255182913_o

One of the consequences of fame is being pigeonholed. McDonald’s is so well known for serving burgers, fries, and milkshakes that the fast-food giant has struggled to become a credible alternative for salads and smoothies. Sean Connery found it difficult to transition his acting career beyond James Bond. And then there’s the case of Robert Plant. The story of Plant’s solo career reads like a case straight out of Harvard Business School: his audience was changing, he was aging, and the legacy he created with Led Zeppelin threatened to trap him in the past. In my new guest blog post for innovation consultancy BeyondCurious, I discuss how Robert Plant reinvented himself and the lessons that businesses can learn from his journey. As Plant’s career demonstrates, changing your brand requires being adaptable, having patience, and telling your story openly. What brands have successfully changed in your view?