Friday, December 19, 2014

Enterprise Collaboration: Where the answers find you

My good buddy Jack Crawford talks about enterprise collaboration - as a tool of improving both customer experience and business process.
"In email and voice you have to know who you want to talk to, in enterprise collaboration who you need to talk to becomes made aware to you."
Nicely put.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

2015: The Year of Micro Private Networks - and a new threat to mass comms

Snapchat has just been valued at $12bn. PRISM and other forms of state surveillance of our social communications are driving a retreat to privacy.

The omnipresence of brands in our social streams is pushing some folk to do the equivalent of hitting the mute button when the ads are on TV – they are looking for ways NOT to be interrupted - not to be targeted or otherwise 'engaged' by ham-fisted, dads-dancing-at-weddings brands.

This preference for the private, for the small social groups of communication – six-person social networks, sms-based one-to-few interactions, all of these is piling on the agony for mass communication.

How does an advertiser slap banner ads into our private conversations – by their very nature we want to switch off anything that might reveal our preferences (key word matching of ad to content of conversation, in the style of G-mail or twitter ads, for example, even this will be unwanted by those headed for the small-private-network future).

It’s a fear-led place. It’s not something I want to see. But (and I say this is an As-Well rather than Instead Of scenario, it may be the dawning of a cultural lock-down. Sharing for some folk is less caring, more scaring.

Facebook active use is actually down at the end of this year (by 0.5% over all granted, though much more pronounced among younger segments) The way people are using it is changing too – much more voyeurism, much less sharing of their own input (images, video etc).

And the problem for mass comms?  How to get your message into those private conversations when they don’t want you to  know anything about them.
Relationship marketing remains the key. Create an easy and ‘right’ experience and the result isn’t a banner ad – it’s a heart won and a mind  made up.  We may want to switch off anything that would give an advertiser a clue when we go micro-social, but try as we might we won’t switch our beliefs off when we make our private connections.

You’ll recommend based on your experience just as heartily in private (perhaps more so) than you would have done in public.

This of course means the building of advocacy is even more important. It’s pretty much all that can work in this emerging micro-social world.

The challenge facing digital marketers now then is, how can you apply the rules of advocacy creation to any marketing activities beyond that delivered by their one-to-one- social media activities. And if you can't, where should you focus your spend instead?

This charge to privacy is, in my view, a road bump on the journey to Open (as in The 10 Principles of Open Business) which I think we will come to look back on as the time when a lot of people came to the realisation that they didn't NEED control from the centre.

It's an important learning, but something of a cul-de-sac in my view unless the outputs for all improve (and that is a road that always leads us back to collaboration, an Open road).

But for all that - it is happening - and marketeers must adapt to cope.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Give to receive

The 10Principles of Open Business provide a framework for rebuilding the trust so many brands and organisations have thrown away in the over-zealous pursuit of profit/cost.
What we know is when they destroyed the trust they had (through exploited suppliers, one-size-fits-all marketing and anti-customer service) they also destroyed the shareholder value they thought they were creating.
Today’s businesses are waking to the advantages of treating their customers better – of becoming customer-led Open Businesses. They do this because they know without trust their brands have little value.
Those that are most successful at this have recognised something you will find defined in the chapter on Trust in The 10 Principles – that trust is a reciprocal thing. We don’t want trust of the ‘you can trust us to be the cheapest’ kind. We want trust of the ‘we have your best interest at heart’ kind.
To be trusted you have to trust.
Amazon and John Lewis – about the most trusted names in retail these days in the UK – both provide a similar case study when it comes to refunds (an ever more critical part of the retail mix in an increasingly online environment in which distance selling regulations apply to everything bought online in the UK).
Both companies give you your money back. Take John Lewis. I took a six month old leather bag back. The zip had broken and the strap had all but snapped. I had no receipt. But I knew it was a John Lewis bag. I took it back and had the current list price of the bag (£145) zapped straight back on to my credit card.
Which I immediately reciprocated. I went straight to the bag department and bought another bag. I know that if I have a similar problem, I’ll get similar treatment in future.
Amazon: Got a problem? They will refund you and THEN ask you to return the item. They trust you. So you trust them.
Both have thought about the problem not from an ‘efficiency’ perspective – but from a customer effectiveness one.
Today you must either offer wow or easy. If you are really good you wow by being easy (Amazon, John Lewis).
You can wow through really low price, or really high quality. Do this and you may get away with not being the easiest in the market to trade with. But if you can’t differentiate yourself significantly through price or quality then easy is where you have to aim – and where you have to win.
I wonder how many high street retailers can really argue they are as easy to trade with as Amazon? They don’t offer higher quality. They rarely offer lower price.
How can they restore the trust and make themselves easier – the first step may be to start trusting their customers more. For many that will require them to know their customers better.
I’ve had a few run-ins with one famous High Street retailer in the last few months. It’s becoming a bit of a running joke in our house. Mrs C laughed after I recounted my latest call with The M&S executive office and said: “They must hate it when they know it’s you,”
I only wish they had the customer systems in place to know my past record when I do contact them. I’d love it if they hated to see me coming. They’d know how much in debit with me they already are and might make an effort not to make things worse.

Sadly, every new issue I have with them is like starting from scratch. 

For M&S watchers - here's my latest complaint. I bought some trousers online. Colour wasn't quite what I was expecting (Less 'neutral' more, pensioner beige). So I returned them to a store. Thinking M&S was the bastion of easy exchange, I took nothing more than my order number with me. That should access everything they have on record about the transaction, I figured.
Nope, in store they can't check your online order number against anything, it seems. Now, instead of trusting their customer and just giving me the money back (as they would have done had they had the receipt) they could only give me a credit voucher. There was nothing in store that day that caught my eye so I took the voucher home to use at my leisure online.
When I did go to buy something online with it I discovered it could ONLY be used in store. In other words a purchase I had made online had been converted into a voucher I could not use online.
I rang and asked for it to be converted to an e-voucher. Computer said no. Even though I have all the reference numbers this could only happen if I sent the voucher back to them first. Funnily enough, if they don't trust me, I'm disinclined to trust them.
So I was left with a useless voucher (as least until the next time I went into one of their stores) instead of the goods I had paid for online.
That is how not to wow, how not to be easy - and how to illustrate the decline of a once great customer service brand...

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Creating a new brand? Start with what it stands for

Open Business: File under business strategy...
Brands are what people say they are. The classic example here is Kelloggs CornFlakes; developed and conceived as a sexual suppresent, the way people used it (as a breakfast cereal) changed how they talked about it and, after that initial hic-cup, how it was branded.

If you want them to agree with what you think your brand is about you have to behave in a way consistent with that position - and that is driven by purpose. Know your purpose and the rest becomes easy. (Chapter One of The 10 Principles of Open Business is dedicated to exactly this).

This sometimes gets lost in the life of a brand. But when one is starting out it has to be the very start point. And that's what last night's broadcast of BBC1's The Apprentice entirely missed.

To create a brand from scratch FIRST you must decide what it is for; what is its purpose - what does it stand for?

Neither of the teams last night started there - and that's why they struggled to align a name, a label, a billboard and a TV ad in any kind of coherent way. This was something Lord Sugar didn't bother pointing out (banging on about product first as if had one of the teams  created something that tasted really nice it would have done its own branding and sold itself to the room of ad execs).

It's simple really:
1. Choose purpose: (eg Helps you tackle life's adventures head on)
2. Come up with a name to reflect that: (eg Red Bull)
3. Give it a taste and colour to reflect that (Caffeine boosted, natural zingy stuff, you get the idea)
4. Do things that reflect the message (jump from balloons in space)
5. Now story board that TV ad...

There are lessons in this for anyone tackling something new - whether it be products and services or developing a brand. I only wish 'business TV' like The Apprentice would do a better job of keeping up.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Communication: The art of sharing with others

Communication. The act of communion with another soul. Isn't it?

Yes, I know there are other definitions. But this is the oldest. It precedes the broadcast age.

Interesting too that the term communication comes from the Latin "Communicare" which literally means, To Share. (I'd be fascinated to learn the root in other languages via your comments, please)

I'm interested because I'm wondering if communication in business needs calling out as the 'sharing with others' it actually is rather than the 'broadcasting a pov to others' it regularly defaults to.

Communication as a term has been so misused and abused by an industry bent on getting its message into your brain (doing something to you, rather than with you) that the true meaning has been lost to the point where we have to use terms such as  'collaboration' to define what we mean by genuine communication.

When we connect, we lower the cost of action. This is because we talk to each other and talking to each other enables us to share in the act of making new things.

Those things are new products, new services, new ideas or new processes. Each is an output of what we call collaboration. But perhaps once we get over and out of our broadcast habits we'll be able to call it plain and simple communication once again.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

To the head of customer experience, Marks & Spencer

There's work to be done on Customer Experience here...
Marks & Spencer were once known as the no quibble returns people. Got a problem, you could take it back. In the land of physical stores that was just fine.
But the game changed. And Marks & Spencer didn't.
They left their customer experience back in the 20th century while the rest of us (their customers included) came to expect more. They came to expect customer-led experiences - those that seek to resolve a customer's issue, that understand the value of that customer, that know who that customer is at each touch point.
I hadn't had a good run with M&S. Three successive fails across different parts of their business (poor flowers, dodgy suit, terrible food) had led me to making a make or break call with their executive office. It was very difficult to raise a complaint in the first place because I tried to do it on an iPad. Their model is still PC first. oh dear.
But I don't want to bang on about that. When I told them this was their last chance to retain me (after multiple calls and channel switches) they sent me a £50 gift voucher.
It worked.
I went back to shopping in my nearest store for food on a Saturday.
And then I made the mistake of ordering some clothes online.
The first package came. On time. Trouble was a pair of jeans among the items had the security tag still attached - you know, the sort that covers your world in dye if you try to remove it with the wrong equipment.
So I fired off a complaint (via a pc, lesson learned) and pointed out that the reason I shopped online is that I don't have time to visit the nearest clothes store (30 miles from my home) so can you please try to resolve this without me having to attend? Maybe you could send someone round when doing deliveries with a security tag remover, I reasoned?
The computer said no. They offered me (seriously) a £5 gift token. I told them this is not about money, this is about serving customer need. By not bothering to check that they had removed the security tag, no doubt their deliveries were a tiny bit more efficient. The cost of that 'improvement' had been passed on to me. The cost of fixing their failing (my time and travel) was entirely to be borne by the customer (sans £5 gift voucher).
I'm lucky enough to be paid a tad more than £5 an hour (which is the minimum my resolving the issue would cost) so I didn't think this a good trade off.
Scarily, I had also ordered a new suit from M&S (yes I know...) and said in my last comms to M&S customer service that I was seriously worried about how the suit may turn up now...
You know what I'm going to say next, right? The suit arrived the next day, complete with... you've guessed it... security tag on the jacket!
I started the inevitable and painful complaint process again... They were sorry. This time a £10 gift voucher.

It really isn't about the money. I just want the product I have paid for in a fit-for-purpose-state without the need for me to expend any additional time and money of my own in resolving what is properly the company's issue to fix, not mine!

Isn't that how we all feel now? Isn't that what we all expect?
A series of further exchanges have followed with offers of next day delivery but a continued insistence that I must send the items back before they will send replacements. Well (I have pointed out) I'm sorry but I need the suit for a wedding next Saturday. If I keep hold of it I can (as a last resort) drive to my nearest store and get them to remove the tag). If I send it back I have absolutely zero evidence that M&S is capable of sending me the item in time - and crucially - without a bloody security tag attached. In fact, all my personal experience points to the fact that at least one item per package will have a security tag attached.
The bottom line here is that M&S is using cash to pay off annoyed customers rather than investing in building a customer-centric and device agnostic approach to customer experience.
Now - let me go seek out the head of customer experience and point them this way...

UPDATE October 23, 2014: Tracked down the relevant person on Linkedin who responded swiftly to tell me they'd be picking this up at work.

Given how short I was on time now, I drove 30 miles to my nearest clothing store on Sunday to get the tags removed. This I felt compelled to do despite it being the day of my daughter's birthday party. Parents will understand how little time I had to spare - but thanks to M&S fails I had to spend 90 minutes of the little I had fixing their screw up.
The people in the store were kind and listened. They couldn't understand how the items came to be tagged. Indeed in the case of the jeans, they don't tag them in store, let alone in distribution warehouses.
They wanted to offer me something (yes, vouchers) but I declined because I have now raised this with someone at HQ...
However, I have still not heard anything further from M&S, three business days on.

I will keep you all posted.

BTW - a general rule I think customer experience should apply - Resolution at the point of transaction should always be offered. If it was delivered to my home, you should resolve the issue at my home.

UPDATE October 24, 2014. A letter arrives from M&S Head of Customer Services. It is detailed and lengthy. It accepts there were failings that should not have happened and which were inexcusable. It promises better inter-departmental communications and to consider enabling the online team to send out replacements in advance of receiving unfit for purpose products back. The letter thanks me for bringing all this to their attention.

All in all a very reasonable response. If only it had actually included a resolution of my issue...

I'm left feeling like I've done M&S a number of favours - from resolving the issue myself to giving them big clues about how to improve their offering and reduce their fail rate.

I am left assuming that karma will provide my reward...

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Antifragile: my contribution to a networkshop

Antifragility consultant and long term supporter of Open Business Sinar Si Alhir was asked to host a workshop at the Center for Technology Innovation at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.
Rather than go it alone, he turned to his network to create a more antifragile response.
I was among those he chose to reach out to and you can see the output of the whole here: (Demystifying Antifragility).
The concept, if you aren't aware, comes from Nassim Nicholas Taleb's book Antifragile - Things That Gain From Disorder (which I thoroughly recommend).

Here's the full text of what I shared with the networkshop:

For me antifragility is about networks (and as is my interest) primarily about the relationships in those networks.

Networked organisations are antifragile. The Mob, Al Queda, these are difficult to destroy because the idea resides not in a boss at the top but in everyone everywhere.

Facebook is fragile. It's fixed networks can be severely damaged by the removal of prime nodes - or superconnectors. Twitter is antifragile - made of nodes where the ability to organise and re-organise around interest in adhoc ways means the loss of one node has less impact on the whole.

The internet is antifragile. Indeed if the web historians are to be believed it emerged as a military application designed to outlive more formally structured communications channels.

Hierarchical companies are fragile. Take out Steve Jobs and...

Familes outlive the oldest companies and will continue to do so; they are networks of connections with both close and weak ties creating a fluidity and adaptability that is essential to be antifragile. They are tied by something which connects them all to each other, not each node to a leader.

The key test of the antifragile is that it has stood the test of time; the weather is antifragile, evolution is antifragile (hence life in aggregate rather than in particular).

Designing for antifragility requires us to think about the survival and continued flourishing of the whole, of the web, rather than of the individual, or the node.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Getting advocacy on to the balance sheet

If you've read many of my previous posts you'll know of my views about the role and value of social media - its effectiveness as an exercise in relationship building and therefore its value as a one-to-one relationship marketing tool (which you'll find emphasised in my book The 10 Principles of Open Business).

Its job is to create advocates. But what does advocacy mean on the spreadsheet?
To make such a calculation you need five things:

  1. A clear and measurable definition of advocacy
  2. A behaviour change which can reasonably be defined as identifying a shift from standard customer to advocate.
  3. A cash value which can be reasonably attributed to that behaviour change
  4. A robust 'number of friends' each of us could influence.
  5. A mathematically robust formulation of transmission of positive influence in networks.

Let's tackle the difficult one first. Number 5. How do we calculate pass-on in networks. Well, it happens that there are some very clever people with massive brains and even larger computers who have been working on this exact problem for many years. And they've come up with their 42 (look up Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy if that's confused you).
Dr Martin Nowak - himself a professor of maths, biology and evolutionary science at Harvard - quotes a very useful ratio (in his book Super-Cooperators) discovered by Nicholas Christakis of Harvard Medical School and James Fowler of the University of California, San Diego. It suggests we are swayed by the good mood of not only friends, but of those indirectly related - through second and third degree iterations.
In the first generation the chance of them displaying a positive response is 34% . In the second (friends of friends) it is 10%. And in the third (friends of friends of friends) it is 6%.
It turns out this is a function of the structure of human social networks - not of the nodes within them... And it dries right up after the third iteration. This seems to me a very reasonable proxy for advocacy. You have to be happy with what you've been provided with in order to advocate it to your friends. Very happy.
This is very useful indeed.
It means that if we know the value of the behaviour change (X) and the number of friends (Y) we can use the transmission formula to understand the network effect - in real cash terms - of creating one advocate. We can put a price on the value of over-delivery - of creating happiness...
Here's the formula:
Pass on to friends (F) = Y * .34 * X
Pass on to friends of friends (FF) = Y * .1 * X
Pass on to friends of friends of friends (FFF) = Y * .06 * X
Add them together (F+FF+FFF) = Value of advocacy in a network.
Still with me?
Now we have to start reducing the number of variables. The most important is the value of Y: number of friends.
Again, we are indebted to the canon on peer-to-peer relationships. The number of friends who could typically be called 'close tie' at each iteration is just six. It's the typical number of people you text, for example; Facebook offers you 'six friends' when looking at someone's profile - based on close ties; in Britain only six friends will last your whole life through. Philosopher's of friendship think you can only maintain 6-12 friends at a time.
Six may sound low when you look at the number of twitter followers and facebook friends you have - but it turns out about right if you take a closer look at the number of people you maintain daily contact with. Remember - we aren't trying to make a case for reach here but for the ability to create behavioural change through advocacy.
Let's bring this to life with an example.
Let's say we can track the value of a group of customers. Let's call them group A.
On average they spend £300 with us. But we take a subset of these, group B, and provide them with exceptional customer service.
We find that group B end up spending £100 more on an average transaction with us than with their peers in group A.
The additional spend is the behaviour change we have identified as a marker of someone who is happy enough with us to advocate us to their peers.
This £100 then is the financial representation of a behaviour change which illustrates someone has changed status from customer to advocate.
Just to be clear, it doesn't matter how many times this person spends more money with us - that isn't their advocacy value, that's repeat business. In other words another impact of treating a customer well may be a rise in that customer's lifetime value, but that's not what we are calculating here; that increase in total spend will be recorded directly in your sales figures.
What we are seeking here is the impact of that person's "happiness with us" on others - their close tie friends, their friends of friends, and their friends of friends of friends.
Ok - so - if you will indulge me - we have numbers 5-2 on my list covered. How will we define advocacy in a way it can be identified and measured?
Advocacy is the act of publishing (posting/tweeting) about a positive customer experience.
Those of you thinking a few steps ahead will already have noted that the formula for calculating the amplifying effect of advocacy in networks must be a consistent number.
We'll work through a simple example taking our formula and using real numbers (in which £100 uplift in spend is the value ascribed to the behaviour change which indicates shift from customer to advocate) to illustrate why:
Here's the formula:
Pass on to friends (F) = (6) * .34 * £100 = 204
Pass on to friends of friends (FF) = (6*6) * .1 * £100 = 360
Pass on to friends of friends of friends (FFF) = (6*6*6) * .06 * £100 = £1296
Add them together (F+FF+FFF) = £1860.
And if we divide by the base behaviour change figure (£100) we end up with 18.6.
So - if you know the value you can ascribe to a behaviour change which indicates a shift from customer to advocate (such as an increase in the amount they are spending with you) you can simply multiply by 18.6 to give you the advocacy value of an advocate.
Calculate the number of instances (as defined by someone publishing their positive experience) and you are able to put a very reasonable number on the value of inspiring advocacy. In my view at least.

I'd be interested in your views on the methodology I've used.

I believe I have erred on the side of conservative assumptions. But they seem reasonable. If I rave to six of my friends about a great customer experience I had with X, the assumption is that the next time (at any time in the next five years) these guys have an option on which brand to choose a third will recall my positivity about X and give it a try... and so on to 2nd and 3rd generation ties.

This is less that perfect I'll grant, but for every challenge that can lower the output (will a third of your peers buy or just think nice thoughts?), there's another to consider to raise it (is six really a big enough number of friends to consider at each iteration?, what about all the advocacy that happens face to face but not online).

My response is this is the best I've got to so far, it ploughs a reasonable and conservative middle course, and it is based on the summation of much of the best of thinking, theory and testing in network science.

Using it allows me to set realistic and accountable KPIs and steer social media and social content strategy in the right direction.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Don't read this if you should be doing something else

Image via:
"Multi-taskers often think they are like gym rats, bulking up their ability to juggle tasks, when in fact they are like alcoholics, degrading their abilities through over-consumption."

That's from Clay Shirky's latest piece on Medium about why he is banning his students from using laptops, tablets and mobiles in class (wearable tech, too, no doubt).
Give it a read - but only if you aren't trying to concentrate on something else right now...
My own experience is that if I want to get something done I have to close everything else down - even to the extent of putting earplugs in to avoid the distraction of the office I usually work in.

Students, even in the 21st Century, tell me the same when they have a deadline due.
Connect to learn, connect to share, connect to develop, connect to grow. Disconnect to do?

What do you do when you want to get something done?

Monday, September 08, 2014

The Amazonisation of Everything

The hard-to-say-but-easy-to-understand term 'Amazonisation' is proving very useful to me in conversations with business leaders.

But how do you understand it - and how can it be delivered?

Don't expect all the answers in the body of this blogpost by the way. That's the point of blogging (something I've been doing way too little of recently). So, I'm reminding myself: It's a conversation starter - an opportunity to think out-loud (and have others join in - that's your role).
Transformer. Wouldn't be complete without Perfect Day...
What makes Amazon special?
Amazon's ambition is to become the most customer-centric business on earth which means eveything they do is focused on better serving the customer. And what we mean by that is that they are driven by a desire to provide an ever more excellent customer experience.

Note - this is not just about how they respond when things go wrong; it is about knowing enough about you that mistakes aren't made in the first place. No one wants great customer service, they want great customer experiences.

In previous posts and discussions I have talked about the top down and bottom up creation of trust (trust defined as knowing that the other party has your best interests at heart).

The bottom-up version is illustrated by moments of over delivery against expectation, delivered by real live humans: The guy in the Disney store who takes back the obviously dropped and broken salt and pepper shaker with the words "Gee, I'm sorry, I didn't wrap that well enough"; The bespoke booking service a car rental company delivers in response to expressed need on twitter. These are the moments that wow us and inspire us to become advocates to our peers (the most powerful marketing there is|).

Amazon delivers its wow at scale by knowing us. That's the data. That's delivered by systems of Enterprise Data Management (EDM) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM). But crucially it required Amazon to be customer-led in all its business processes (and management thereof - BPM) to deliver the experience so many now aspire to.

I say customer-led because 'centricity' implies they want to do something to the customer, led means they work in partnership with the customer, and that is the real key to building trust. Partners have each other's best interests at heart.
It's not just about the data (not even just the social data), it's not just about the CRM, it's not just about the EDM. It's not even just about the BPM. And this, I think, is critical for our understanding: A business that wants the advantages of Amazonsation (the almost psychic ability to match supply with demand, to anticipate need, to build a relationship of trust with its customers, to populate the world with wow-moment stories) requires a piece of big picture, vision-led thinking.
Of course firms need help to work out how best to fix the problems they have. But they don't just want a repair. They want to be taken to the next level - beyond what the best delivers today. That's just hygiene in a world operating at the pace we see around us. So if you find yourself moving to solutions; listing out the tactics to deploy, pause and ask if you've spent enough time working out if this is the right problem to solve.
Those of us engaged in trying to build a better future know that this is not just to fix the problems we see around us now, it is also to provide a vision of what's that better future looks like.
No senior exec buys a CRM program or invests in BPM. They buy a better company. They care more what that better company looks like than about the tactical and technical tools you will use to deliver it.
So assuming we can take all that as read it seems to me we should be spendng more time helping create visions of the perfect customer (or other stakeholder) experience, their perfect day, and only then starting work on the tools and processes which take us there.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The strategic role of content in proving brand promise

Click the image to see at full size
Social Media has confused many marketers for many years. Mostly because it isn’t a media. It’s an exercise in relationship building.

It tends to be thought of as a channel of amplification – “hey social guys, here’s my great idea/piece of content (ah hem, advert) go do magic to make it famous”.

It is, of course, a channel of advocacy.

In many ways social has more in common with the promise proving role of CRM and loyalty than it does with promise making role of brand strategy - not least because social is and always has been the single most effective way to have an open door to your customers at scale.

Whether you open that door to gather data (information about the needs and wants of customers and potential customers) or to build relationships (with customers, and potential customers) what is clear is that you don’t throw that door open and try shouting through a megaphone through it.

So, to help clarify the role and effectiveness of social content – and that of other content, I’ve developed this simple model (see diagram above).

You’ll note that I’ve annotated each of the bands with ‘Awareness, Consideration, Conversion’. This is something of a simplification (evaluation is, for example also taking place in social – and there are cross-overs, social can also deliver awareness and consideration, and it’s not unheard of for ATL (above the line) to trigger an immediate sale) but they do, I believe, focus on what each of Brand/Content/Social strategy is best at delivering – and therefore a guide to where the focus of each should be.

Social is a conversion channel because it is the truth medium. It is where we report the truth of  experiences – and it is where we turn (to each other, to our friends) to discover the truth behind the promises. This is where the proof of the promise a brand strategy makes and a content strategy brings to life is either made or has its bubble burst in spectacular fashion.

Google’s ZMOT (Zero Moment of Truth) - the point at which the purchase decision is made (a conversion is delivered) is therefore the point at which we discover a friend’s positive report of the truth of the brand’s promise. So social’s focus is on building advocacy in small audiences (right down to one to one) through rich relationships in modes of content where the user has the control.

Content that has value in this is that which inspires, discovers, aggregates and/or amplifies reports of the proof of the promise. Why? Because that’s what drives conversion. The more easily a potential customer can discover a positive user-generated report of the brand’s promise being true – at the right time in their own decision making process, the more likely a customer is to buy.

A test for this comes when the shiny content guys come to call. “Hey social guys, here’s my shiny thing, make it famous for me!” To which the answer should be:

Sure. So long as you can give me positive answers to the following:
        Will it build advocacy?        Will it build trust/relationships?        Is it in the user’s control?

If so feel free to ‘amplify’ through the relationships social has built. If not, stick to the channels most appropriate for building awareness…

Friday, June 27, 2014

The two killer apps of 21st Century marketing

Image via
Neither of the two killer apps of marketing in the 21st century is part of most marcomms plans or marketeers skill sets.
How so?

A quick reminder on where I stand on how consumers make choices today:
1. Brand: Makes the promise
2. Marcomms: Brings the promise to life
3. Social Media: Is where we turn for proof of the promise (in the experience of our peers, the Google ZMOT if you will).

This is driven of course by who we trust. If we trusted brands and marcomms we'd accept their promises. Sadly its a rare brand which can command that level of trust today. Mostly we ask each other for the proof. This means of course that much more spend and focus should be on number 3 versus 1 & 2.

It also begs the question: how do you inspire people to publish the good experiences (the proofs of the promise) they have had.
First, of course, you must prove that promise.
Over delivering seems to do the trick. Go beyond the normal and I'm likely to post a positive review or comment.

Our ability to generate “wow” moments worth sharing with peers (reviews included) come down to what we are prepared to GIVE over and above normal service. Primarily the give is great customer service (delivered by a human) or an upgrade of some kind ( a cost).

This is bottom-up proof that the brand has our best interests at heart (the true measure of trust). That's killer app one.

Scaling this is tough and relies on peer-to-peer discovery and pass on. Often this can appear too slow to a brand with a broken connection to its promise they are desperate to fix. They may not have the will or capacity to deliver the small moments of wow which have made google, amazon, spotify etc more trust-worthy than long established rivals. They use your data to deliver things to you in a way that makes us feel they have our best interests at heart. We can rationalise and note that they have a business imperative. But actually, us consumers aren't very rational at all when making decisions. How we feel is most often more powerful than what we know. (Read Mark Earls Herd for a primer on that if you aren't convinced from your own experience).

With what brands can learn from your data, we can deliver the feeling that the brand concerned has our best interests at heart: Top Down - killer app two.

The magic, the wow, is not now in what we are given by way of over delivery of goods or services, but in the surprise and delighting we do by showing we know our customer's needs so well that they feel we really do have their best interests at heart (the foundation of building brand trust in a world of relationship marketing (as discussed in my book The 10 Principles of Open Business).
My guess is that we will continue to need BOTH top down and bottom up.
Trust in the brand can be built at scale via the top down approach, but to deliver the TripAdvisor-topping reviews and publication of peer recommendations we will need to continue to GIVE more than expected, not just fit need exceptionally well.
After all, when was the last time you tweeted about how well Amazon made you a recommendation?

Monday, June 16, 2014

The value of not knowing the right way

I watched a young band play in a pub garden recently. As they went through their covers routine it struck me that when I had been playing in bands at that age(ish) I'd gone straight past the covers phase, direct to playing my own material.
Guess why? I didn't actually know the right way to play other people's songs - so I wrote my own.
That lack of knowing the right way forced me to find a new way.
 In fact I'd go further. There appears to me to be an increased risk of not being able to discover new ways if you are too keen on learning the 'right' way.
Be happy if you don't know the way things have always been done. Yours is the road to the new.

Friday, June 06, 2014

A great week for Open Business

It's been an extraordinary week for raising the profile of Open Business.
At the start of the week I received my copies of the June issue of Admap - the magazine for marketing professionals. It includes a three-page feature on The 10 Principles of Open Business.

The same day I was sent a link showing an article referencing quotes from myself and The 10 Principles (and particularly Open Capital) was included in the June issue of the British Airways in-flight magazine Business Life.

And last night The Guardian published an article they asked me to write on Open Business and its role in the true sustainability of business.

2014 is turning out to be the year of Open Business.

Click here for all previous press references to the book.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Perhaps we need to care more about Meh

The place the internet likes to call Meh is a very interesting space because it is the one where most human conversation operates but also because it is the place least represented digitally today.

For example, a work colleague may ask me what I thought of the film I saw last night. And if I think it was just 'meh' I'll say so. But if I thought it really sucks or is really brilliant I may have already tweeted about it. In short we digitally report what we think will be useful to our peers.

One of the challenges we face in understanding the influence of user reports of expeience - particularly in FMCG - is that for the most part we feel Meh about them.

Humans in the real world talk to each other about the Meh. It's one of the reasons (perhaps the key reason) why 90% of conversations about brands remains offline (according to Keller-Fay).
So it's not that we don't care to report Meh to fellow humans, it's just that the current technical barrier of doing so online (where it can be valuably stored, searched for, discovered and reshared) is too high for us to be bothered reporting what we're not really too bothered about.

In the real world we don't face that technical barrier at all - we just open our mouths and speak to the person opposite.

As the technical barriers of digital sign-in and access fall we can and should expect an increase in reported Meh - the neutral ground of sentiment if you like. And that will mean our measures will have to become more sensitive, more able to note and record the difference between indifference, ok and so-so and therefore more able to predict the influence of Meh on the purchase and other decisions we all make.

Meh - perhaps we need to care more about it.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Open Business on the Business Hub

I'll be discussing Open Business (and of course The 10 Principles of Open Business) on Ann Hawkins' Business Hub show on Star Radio this Sunday morning (April 27, 2014) 9am-10am.

If you are in the Cambridgeshire area you should be able to tune in on 107.9FM. If you aren't close by the show is also available to listen online via this radioplayer.

It will also be available as a podcast immediately after the show on Sunday.

So even if 9am on Sunday morning is just way too early for you...

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

There's more to transparency than telling the truth

There's more to transparency than simply telling the truth.

Let me give you an example. A standard packet of Walkers Quavers you may buy in your local corner shop delivers 109 calories.

However, flip over to the the rear of the same pack and you find some interesting claims about a range of Walkers snacks which all come in at under 99 calories a pack. You'll note Quavers are included in their number.
How can this possibly be?

The answer is far from transparent.

A packet of Quavers from a multipack is just 88 calories actually. Wow. Do they use a different recipe? No, they just make the packs smaller (16.4g in the multipack vs 20.5 in the ordinary one).

Given time and the internet you can find this stuff out. Walkers are making the truth available - but that's not the kind of transparency demanded of Open Business; ie the kind that builds trust between consumer and brand.

There is a sense of dishonesty rather than truth in how this is presented to us. It feels like we are being deliberately given parts of the story when that part is to the benefit of one party (the brand) rather than the mutual benefit of both.

And as we make clear in chapter 10  of The 10 Principles of Open Business (Trust), building trust requires the customers belief that the brand has their best interest at heart.

The Quavers example feels like the brand tells the part of the truth it feels will be of most benefit to it at any one point. A transparent retelling may have the mutlipacks stating: "Smaller snack size - scaled down calories too"!

Transparency (Principle 8 of the 10) requires honesty. Without it we can be reduced to telling only the truth that benefits us.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Open Business wins some influential supporters

It's a good week already for reviews of The 10 Principles of Open Business- with two very positive write-ups appearing by influential business leaders by Tuesday.

The Chief Learning Officer at global PR business Ketchum wrote an article/review on The 10 Principles of Open Business for the Ketchum blog on April 8 (2014).

In his post The Purpose Driven Organization - Moving from Talk to Walk Robert Burnside concludes: "I highly recommend you check out the thinking in this book. It's ahead of the curve and a useful glimpse into the future."

Essentially, the book argues that businesses should move from thinking of others as customers, to thinking of them as partners in achieving a purpose that they all find meaningful in the world.
Of course, this involves a lot of changes in organization structures, most deeply in the mindsets of those involved. The book does a credible job of giving examples of how the 10 principles are being realized by various organizations, including big ones like Tesco in the UK.

B2B Marketing Magazine published a review of the 10 Principles of Open Business in its April 2014 issue.

Written by Harris Interactive's UK Head of Marketing Ian Smith, the review concludes: "The book will get you thinking about ways in which you can apply the open business ethos to benefit your business, direct stakeholders and society in general. Open business is our present and our future. You can't afford to ignore that, or this book - 'Open up, and win!'

Thank you both. If you've read the book and would liek to share a review, please let me know. I am particularly looking out for more folk to add to the Amazon reviews.

More examples of The 10 Principles in The Press.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

The restaurant that designed out customer feedback

So tired, tired of waiting, tired of waiting for you...
To mark the end of term and the start of the Easter Holidays we joined some very good friends and our (between us) three children for an impromptu dinner at a family restaurant close to home.
The food was (mostly) adequate. It was the service that was shocking.

Our friends had been to this particular place some six months previous. Ever since it had been known to their kids as 'The No Pudding Pub'. This was because it had taken so long for them to get any attention to order a dessert that they had run out of time and had no option but to leave. Kids going home without a dessert leaves a lasting impression...

Once bitten - well sometimes you are prepared to try things one more time... lightning stikes once and all that...
But, you guessed it, the bolt from above struck again.

Put aside the failure (having been asked three times) to provide a straw for one of the kids drinks, the food being served at an interesting and not entirely satisfying range of temperatures, main course plates left uncleared for a good 30 minutes (we resorted to stacking them ourselves - see pic), desserts served without cutlery, one dessert not served at all (a fact the bill belied), the table next to us resorting to wolf-whistles and waving cash in order to get their bill... put aside all of that. We can live with things going wrong if there are channels allowing us to help you put them right for us.

What really bugged me about this place was that customer feedback seemed to be deliberately designed out.
At one point in our very long wait for any kind of attention I considered ringing the restaurant and asking them to come see us on table 40. But. Not a sign of a phone number, website, email address, name of manager, name of customer service lead anywhere on the menus etc at hand on the table.
Which opened my eyes.

There was nothing written anywhere which called for, mildly suggested or enabled in any way the customer to give feedback. For most organisations knowing what your customer thinks of your product, service or experience is gold dust - prompting you for it, essential.
This place had none of the 'we care about what our customers think' or 'rate our service today' forms with paper attached on tables. Not a sniff.

But the restaurant was full. Why? Value prices, good location.
So the coffers are filling - and (because they are hearing no different) the future must be rosey, right?
Of course not. Here is a business focused entirely on customer acquisition. It has no idea of whether you've been before and apparently no interest in whether or not you will darken its doors again.

When my friend kindly picked up the bill (yes we did get the missing dessert removed) he told his server why the pub had been renamed in his house (The No Pudding Pub, you'll recall), and how we were giving it a second chance, and what had gone wrong today. None of this was recorded, The person we think was the manager was in ear-shot but kept his head down and stayed away. Freely given commercial advice of the customer experience variety was being handed over in spades - and none of it was collected - Designed Out!
We were offered apologies, and more apologies. No discount. No incentive to return to give them a chance to redeem themselves (you'll note). Designed Out!

Later I tried registering my negative sentiment via their mobile website. I completed one of those nasty online email forms in some detail. And when I hit the go button, the screen went blank. Designed Out! I've no idea whether they got it or not. Frankly I don't care.
Today if your organisation does not make it supremely easy for me to provide you with feedback at source I'm really not going to bother going out of my way to help you make your business better. But I will tell my friends because I care more about them than I do about you. I will share my experience of your products and services via tweets and blogposts.

That's why I haven't named the pub until right down here - I don't want to make it easy for their search tools to gather this freely given feedback because they appear organisationally designed to do without what  the customer thinks.

But I'll happily tell you, friend. It's the Marsh Harrier in St Ives, Cambridgeshire. It's run by Marstons.

They need an extra pair of hands at busy times. That might slice their margin on the customers in on that night - but it'll give you a way better chance that the customer will return for you to make a margin on another time. Oh and by the way - I'm pretty sure you make a better margin on desserts than you do on main courses... you can work out what to do next, right?

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Open Business: Three-page focus in Cambridge Business Magazine

From the April 2014 issue of 
Cambridge Business Magazine
Cambridge Business Magazine published a three-page interview with me about The 10 Principles of Open Business in its April 2014 issue out now.
The print version is subscription only but anyone can view, download or save the e-magazine version here.
The article starts on p58. It's flash so no use for apple devices I'm afraid.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Customers know each other better than our data does

Yesterday I was served a 'promoted tweet' which suggested I might like to plan my own death. Today I have received an email inviting me to audition for a youth production of The Wiz.
Neither are relevant.
Listening to social and focusing on CRV closes the data gap
So - for all the advances in targeting and retargeting some are taking advantage of, it's clear that the one-size-fits-all approach is still being deployed at the bleeding edge of technology. Which is insane in 2014. Wastefully, expensively, customer-annoyingly, relationship-destroyingly insane.
The reality is that customers know each other better than our synthesis of all the data we have on them. If we don't make them, and their peer-to-peer advocacy, partners in our best relationship building efforts we will continue to fail to serve their needs accurately.
Partnership builds better relationships. Relationships are essential in building success in today's Open Economy.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The social web demands partnership with customers - and a radical rethink on content

We're... seeing a much bigger shift in how people spend their time online. 
People are spending much more time interacting with other people, and much less time consuming content from websites. This shift is not about any one particular social network. It's about people connecting to each other online.
Paul Adams, user research lead for social in the UX team at Google.

That nugget is essential information in telling the story of our shift from trusting brands and branded content, to trusting each other. It is also a revelation in telling the story I am so keen on - that the web is for us to connect with; to enable us to self-organise.

Paul adds, in his presentation  The Real Life Social Network: "The social web is not a fad, and itʼs not going away. Itʼs not an add-on to the web as we know it today. Itʼs a fundamental change, a re-architecture."

This adds to the evidence offered in The 10 Principles of Open Business that rebuilding trust between brand and customer is not the realm of ads or branded content. We are turning to each other to find the truth behind the promises made by content of this kind. Content only has value so far as social media is concerned if it proves the promise the brand is making. If the web is indeed going through a fundamental change to become the social web what that means is that ALL online content must now pass that test.

Tell me what you like, but unless I can discover the truth of your promise from the experience of my peers, I'm not going to believe you. That's our reality. How is that impacting your next web design, your next social media content strategy?

The shift suggests that now all content (that will have any value in building trust, inspiring action, at least) has to be created by people like us.

Companies must think long and hard about this shift. It demands a rethink in the role of content and in your relationship with your customer. There is no mileage in simply telling people what you are. You will have to demonstrate what you are - prove it, giving them the experience of it, which they may choose to publish to their peers.

Organisations will have to be more transparent - more ready to involve customers in open innovation, more ready to share and connect - to collaborate

Customers become partners - not dumb recipients with wallets attached.

This in itself demands a more socially focused approach to CRM than ever before, a more customer-as-partner approach. It must answer how we create, discover, reward and scale advocacy; it must back the customer's judgment when they make referrals; it must understand the difference between Lifetime Value of a customer who couldn't care less about us but has little option but to trade with us and the Customer Referral Value of someone who loves us but - right now, for whatever reason - isn't buying from us; it must understand customer intent as well as map behaviours.

Ultimately it can solve many of these challenges by turning to the same social web that is causing the rethink because there - in our digital footprints - is the reality of our referrals, the clarity of our click-paths, the negative sentiment of our disapproval.

Reading this in total (and it occurs that separating acquisition from retention, loyalty and search cannot help matters) will help us make businesses more able to respond to, learn from and be led by their customers.

By the way - Paul didn't write his presentation about the shift to the social web this week (in fact, he's no longer at Google). He presented it at the Voices That Matter Web Design Conference in San Francisco in June... 2010.

Yes. I know. It probably is about time to act.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What's your Customer Referral Value?

In a world of increasing automation relationships will have greater and greater value.
The human touch across the digital void... matters.

That's something that's recognised as customer referral value gets dialled up alongside customer lifetime value as CRM has become more and more Social CRM.

So. I thought. Surely there has to be a website where I can type in my creds and find out what my customer referral value is? And if there isn't surely there should be one? And if there was one... wouldn't that trigger new business models?

The likes of Kred and Klout seem to me built for marketing (of self and of brands). And in any event they only tell me what my value is at a very general level - a level which is of little value to companies (or ourselves).

Both the companies - and ourselves - find more value in understanding our value in a particular context - and there is no 'influence measurement tool' which has taken on that complexity yet.

My value to company x (which I love, advocate online and off, submit feedback to but purchase infrequently due to the nature of the product) is substantially higher than to company y (who I loathe, bitch about and couldn't care less if it fails, but from which I have to purchase frequently). That's the distinction from Customer Lifetime Value.

But we must also put influence in context - make it specific. My 4500 twitter followers may make me relatively influential in my small world of open business and social media strategy, but it gives me little power to turn the human tide about (for example) which black cocktail dress you should wear next Christmas.
Imagine if we could use such dimensions (value as a contributor/participant/advocate in this specific context) to generate a real-time Customer Referral Value.

Why not then have dynamic pricing online. I log in and my price (thanks to my CRV discount) is 50% what you pay; Offers to engage in co-creation projects are directed to me; I'm treated as if my participation with your company means something to you. You over deliver. You build a relationship with me.

Then I use my relationships to bring you more people like me. I select these, without waste, without spam, based on what I know about them (not what you would like to know about them, but cannot yet).
And you support my judgment by upping their CRV when I've brought them to you.

This model acknowledges that customers know each other better than companies do - and rewards them for it and supports them in using that. Customers managing each other - for their shared benefit.
So what we need is a CRV engine which genuinely balances customer and company need.

Kred and Klout may have missed a trick.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Open Business: The Podcast

Anne Hawkins and Eric Swain have been kind enough to interview me and put together a podcast on the subject of The 10 Principles of Open Business. It's published today.

It's number 57 in their series on The Social Media Show. Please go take a listen. Then let me know what you think?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A blast from the Social CRM past

I found myself picking up Paul Greenberg's CRM At The Speed of Light last week - just the five-plus years after the fourth and final edition came out.

Paul's approach to CRM (and particularly the shift in orientation from company-empowering to customer-empowering models) aligns very well with the 'Art of Making Partners of Customers' approach delivered by The 10 Principles of Open Business.

So I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised to find a section by social customer champion Chris Carfi AND his reference to my own example of trying to put the customer in the driving seat (literally) through what I called a small experiment in vrm (Vendor Relationship Management).

I was buying a Toyota Yaris for my wife and tried to switch marketing/search roles with the vendors. I marketed to them that I wanted a vendor (via blogposts and tweets). They were given the role of searcher (usually the one we customers take up). For the details read both my blog post from March 2008 - and Chris's own take on it.

Any half decent social monitoring connected to any decent CRM would have delivered any number of wannabe vendors to me. But they didn't come.

When I was reminded of all this by reading Paul's book, I tweeted to Chris. He was blown away that the example is now six years old. Frankly, so am I. Because the gaps it revealed in the capability and philosophical will to serve the needs of the customer are still as wide today in too many companies.

I've worked with many companies since then to help them close their own gaps - by designing processes for the discovery of real time needs (through openly published conversation) and delivery against them, in developing systems to ensure the work and the data flow to the right places, in generating the desire to change required of a customer-led (rather than self-serving or even customer-centric) approach across the business. Yet still it is not the norm.

We still have that Yaris. It's been a great car - and continues to be. But at some point soon we'll change it. I wonder if at that point I can repeat my experiment and get a better result?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Beware the business bots

Image via:
In the future every business will be digital.

For many that future has already arrived. You know you have arrived in that future when 50.1% or more of your revenue comes via digital. You can probably draw a line on your revenue growth and decline charts to identify the point at which that becomes true for you.

In the future every business will be a technology company. Being digitally, socially connected, always on via the cloud and mobile will be an essential of even the most mom & pop business.

Yes those businesses which require your corporeal presence (those that will congregate in High Streets) may feel this effect later than most, but feel it they will. If I can choose to book a haircut via my mobile vs turn-up and hope, over time even the strongest habits and relationships will be challenged. You can be sure new habits and relationships will more likely be established via the technology route. Old habits die hard - but time kills even the oldest in the end.

So it would be sensible to prepare for your digital and technological future.
But in doing so never lose sight of what will make all this technology work for you - the scalable human relationships it empowers.

Without the human heart of your business - its purpose, your belief, your demonstration of your values through what you do (not what you say) you'll end up with a business which acts like a bot.

In a dark, bleak future there is a world of business bots all following each other and trying to sell to each other based on the faked behaviours each is demonstrating to each other- rather like twitter would become if all the humans left over night.

It's easy to imagine organisations sleep walking into this future - focused on getting technology to do everything for you and for your customer. Bots see and bots do but there is no meaning for them or those they interact with in what they do. Transaction after transaction without meaning.

In the bright, belief-filled future, businesses are using technology to enable and enhance rather than to mechanically do. Here humans are connecting with humans building trust through relationships in which each has the other's best interests at heart. They are partners. They are working together to achieve a shared purpose. They generate meaning.

The role of technology is to reduce the friction in each transaction - whether that be purchasing goods, connecting people with shared purpose, or sharing ideas.  Reduce the transaction cost and you reduce the cost of action.

But we must always be careful to keep the meaning in. Industrialisation took it out. We have the opportunity to rediscover it through the human connectedness the web enables. We can take advantage - or we can build bots.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

The 10 Principles of Open Business in the press

Open Capital in the FT on March 11 - with a plug for The 10 Principles
In the interests of collating and curating the press coverage of The 10 Principles of Open Business as it emerges... 


June 2014
The Guardian publishes my article on Open Business and its role in sustainable business. (June 5)

I'm interviewed on the subject of crowd-funding (Open Capital) for the June issue of the BA inflight magazine Business Life - online version here

Subscribers to ADMAP magazine's June issue receive a three-page article on each of the 10 Principles of Open Business - and there's a front page mention, too. I'm afraid ADMAP don't allow sharing of their articles.

May 27 2014:
Forbes Magazine includes quotes from and references to The 10 Principles of Open Business in its piece on attempts to rebuild trust in big business: People Don't Trust Leaders Who Say: Trust Me

The Chief Learning Officer at global PR business Ketchum wrote an article/review on The 10 Principles of Open Business for the Ketchum blog on April 8 (2014).

In his post The Purpose Driven Organization - Moving from Talk to Walk Robert Burnside concludes: "I highly recommend you check out the thinking in this book. It's ahead of the curve and a useful glimpse into the future."

B2B Marketing Magazine published a review of the 10 Principles of Open Business in its April 2014 issue.

Written by Harris Interactive's UK Head of Marketing Ian Smith, the review concludes: "The book will get you thinking about ways in which you can apply the open business ethos to benefit your business, direct stakeholders and society in general. Open business is our present and our future. You can't afford to ignore that, or this book - 'Open up, and win!'

Cambridge Business Magazine published a three-page interview with me about The 10 Principles of Open Business in its April 2014 issue. You can view an e-magazine version here. The article starts on p58. It's flash so no use for apple devices I'm afraid.

Intelligent HQ ran a a lengthy and positive piece on March 24, 2014 concluding The 10 Principles of Open Business is an important new book which can benefit society as a whole...

The Huffington Post ran an article on March 13 (2014) featuring The 10 Principles and concluding that Open Business is an idea whose time has come:

Extract: "We seem to have a rare convergence between demands from the marketplace, driven by the real-time collaborative Internet culture, and a desire by entrepreneurs to define success as something more than making money. I think it's really happening, and it's time to take a reality check on your own business, and your own shopping habits, to capitalize on this trend." (writer Marty Zwilling - on twitter as @startuppro)

And on Tuesday (March 11, 2014) Financial Times readers found a reference or two in a column about crowd funding by Andrew Hill (it will be online the evening before). What was particularly gratifying about the FT column was its emphasis on Open Capital over crowdfunding - in line with the book and its principles.

Here's a link to the result of an interview conducted with me about Open Business by The Irish Times.

Extract: "Openness is not just a nice to have corporate social responsibility virtue but is a vital element in 21st century organisations. While born-digital ventures, for example, instructively know this, all organisations need to move to this model quickly if they are to survive in the networked age."
For the full article (as it also appeared in print on February 24, 2012) go here.

Brand Republic ran the press release about the book pretty much as is on February 3, 2014 (read it here) as did another magazine in their group - which I've lost track of, sorry.

The Cambridge Evening News' Business Magazine ran an article on The 10 Principles in its latest issue - March 2014 (give them your email for a free e-edition here) . 

And, for the record... .SO magazine ran a double page spread in their autumn issue of 2013. Find that online here.

Other stuff in the pipeline includes an indepth article in the April issue of Admap and an article on the theme of sustainability through Open for The Guardian.

The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?