Dear CEO’s, Board Members and Top Management – what's more important? Wine or Change?

This post is probably most stupid post one can write since CEO’s and board members seems to have decided to stay behind with the dinosaurs while the rest of us look for new ground where we can thrive and prosper. Basically on average they read three local newspapers of their own choice, Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine and watch a couple of TV channels. They haven’t got a clue about blogs, feed readers and social networks. But I’ll give it a go anyway.
Dear CEO and board member. In most cases you’re probably +40 years old. You have a wife, two kids and live in a house that cost above average. Two cars in the garage and a country-side home. You spend weekends together with other CEO’s and board members in order to secure your position in the hierarchical ladder of success (or at least what you define as a success). Vacations are chosen based on where you’re supposed to be rather than where you would like to go.
Or as Sir Martin Sorrell, founder and chief executive officer (obviously an exception) of WPP puts it 13 minutes into this very insightful video below:

“Clients, mediaowners and agencies tend to be run by older people. They’ve got to the top of companies. Change is the last thing they’re really interested in. You want a quiet life, travel around the world and making sure everything’s ok”

It’s your life we’re talking about and I understand you don’t want to rock the boat. That could of course lead to you having to sell your boat, spend your vacation in another place and replace some of those expensive wine bottles of yours with cheaper ones. So sitting tight along with the rest and not challenge the establishment is probably the right thing to do. After all, in 10-20 years there’s another generation coming along – let them change things.
No! Nee! ????! Ne! Ei! ?! Nein! ??! Nei! Nej!
There is no time for that! You have to start changing things now before your company gets run over by a couple of teenagers sitting in a coffee shop disrupting your business. (Not that I don’t love that idea). The world is in a state of change. Companies and brands all over the world are falling behind due to slow leadership.
Since I’m trying to not to be one of those persons who’s all about yelling I’d also like to provide you with a couple of guidelines you may wanna follow:

Every company can and should become an e-Business.

Make everyone in your company think, eat, shit the E. That’s how the military would have said it. And it suits this post pretty good. The digital world turn things upside down in a way we’ve never seen before so you’ve gotta make sure everyone is on the boat.
A common problem is that a few people in the marketing department might have a clue about what goes on. But, without support from you – the board of directors, the CEO, CTO and CFO they’re screwed. Far too many companies sees the internet as yet another business area. But the internet does in fact change every little bit of your company.
The internet cuts horizontally through every part of your business so your future marketing and communication strategy has to do the same.

Communication of tomorrow is not about new formats or channels it’s about a whole new way of thinking about your business.

This new digital order calls for a totally new way of thinking and I don’t believe many traditional advertising agencies know shit about it. The fault is not really theirs, it’s yours. You have to integrate marketing into your product development. On top of that you have to make sure that marketing competence knows all about digital and traditional marketing cause the problem is more complex that dividing things into digital and traditional advertising.
Today we have categorized consultants into categories – Advertising, Internet consultants, PR, Event, Mobile, Direct Marketing, Guerrilla and so on. Tomorrow you will have to get all of those brains into a single one. Of course, your Advertising agency might suggest you put together some sort of workshop with people from each category – THIS IS WRONG.
The problem with such a setup is that it’s a compromise. You can never reach a satisfactory result by having a lead agency that knows traditional communication and then a group of other consultants. You simply have to get it all into one brain cause that single advertising idea has to take every category into account when you develop and launch ideas.
Look at Garmin for example. They develop among other things GPS running watches. The watch syncs my runs via Bluetooth with an online community that shows me where I’ve been running on a Google map. My information is then automatically uploaded to Facebook so that I can share my training data with friends.
Is this social advertising, a product, service or crm?
Ask yourselves – What is marketing, what is product and what is business development.
I say It’s all tied together in a way we’ve never seen before and most of you CEO’s, board members and top management don’t get the full picture.
Of course Garmin advertise their products today, but tomorrow they might rely on viral traffic from Facebook, Twitter and other social networks that is more or less injected into their entire business.
The future mix of communication and advertising is so tied together with business and product development so in order for us communication consultants to deliver a work well done and on brief we have to get new kind of briefs with new kind of objectives. Communication and advertising has to move up the ladder and we have to look beyond advertising. Instead we have to rethink how companies develop and launch products, how companies are organized in order to sell, how the people in a company can be more involved on every level and how a CEO can learn what the digital world can do for his company.
So, integrate advertising, marketing and communication straight into your business development. And if you as a CEO don’t understand these different formats you’ve got nothing there to do!
I call for a new category – let’s call it entrepreneurial advertising. An entrepreneur would never go on with any kind of communication that didn’t deliver. It’s time for you to care about your company in that way too!
You might wanna head back and read one of my older posts: ‘Seduce us or excuse us – 11 ways to bring your brand up to date‘ that broadens my point of view even further.

What’s your business doing there when it should be here

We are out there waiting but we’re not only in front of the TV anymore.
Think about your business. You’ve probably got tons of content waiting to be spread. Catalogues, photos, movies, texts, ads, business systems and so on. Well, what are you waiting for? Put it out there. And out there doesn’t mean you should publish it on your own platforms or one that matches your own ideals. Let it loose.
A common mistake is choosing between different social platforms. People ask me – “If I am to publish video online, should I choose YouTube or Vimeo?” I answer every time – “Choose them all!” There is no cost involved. People spend time on different sites. And the more content you have out there, the more traffic you’ll get in return. If you spread content on outside platforms you will in the end receive traffic back to your brand in one way or another. If it’s done by the book it will do wonders for your SEO work.
In order to get the best possible performance from your products and services. Think about what you can do best and work your ass off in order to make your brand the nr 1 source for people enjoying your product category. If you’re in the business of building cars, think, do you build cars for transportation, for fun or for some other purpose. If you think it’s about transportation. Let’s say families. Then do everything in your power to become the brand that makes transportation more efficient, more safe and more fun.
The conversation prism by Brian Solis
So, think about how you can distribute your brand all over the digital world the same way you distribute it in the offline world. The only difference is that distribution online is for free once you’ve turned your content production and communication process around.

Connect not collect

People don’t want to connect to your products or services. They wanna connect to values, beliefs, emotions, passion and personality. Like when I wrote about Telco’s earlier this year: “We are in the entertainment business – let’s act as such”.
The brands that invite people to a conversation, listen to them, show them respect and show that they value people for being people and not potential money – those brands will be the winners.

Creative excellence

I’m not gonna write about this one again since I’ve outline it a post before. But I suggest you read that one once you’re done reading this post.

Get your own fan club

In order for your business to be virally spread. Get fans and let them break the rule.
A problem today is that most things spreading like wildfire on the net tend to break a couple of rules. As a legal business you have a disadvantage against the everyday consumer. However, if you get the everyday consumer on board, let him or her do the dirty work. If they like you they’ll be more than happy to stand on the barricades.
Have a look at Zappos for example. Their CEO has got 1,356,038 followers on Twitter! How many have you got?
Get all your employees on board or actually off board. Seriously, if your employees are reachable with land lines or email. Then why shouldn’t I be able to follow them on twitter or become friends with them on Facebook?

The media 180° turn

Yesterday – we all got communicated to when we were in front of the TV or reading a magazine at a certain time on a certain day. This meant brands had to spend quite a lot of time and money to hit a consumer with their message.
Tomorrow – your message must be on 24/7 standby so that when your potential target searches for whatever you’re selling you hit that consumer one time – and that time you’ve gotta hit on your first shot. Everything that stands in your way will lead to a misfire.

Read all the news not only the filtered stuff

I opened up this post with critique pointed towards the fact that most people read only a few sources of information on a daily basis. That was all ok when leading media companies still had monopoly on information. However today most news you read in for example Wall Street Journal has already been out there for a couple of days and the diversity is not broad enough. That’s what you’ve gotta create your own customized news desk based on what you need to know in order to run your company. I would say you have to move from reading 5-10 sources to 50-100 a day.
Last year I tipped about my own source of information – tons of RSS feeds read through Netvibes that I also use to track my brand. Why not start by following some of the channels I personally follow and then slowly remodel that interface to fit your own needs. Read the post I wrote about it for more information.

To sum things up!

As always there’s tons of more things to do. But that would require me to write a book and there’s just not enough time to do that this weekend. Sooner or later I’ll publish that one as well and then I promise I’ll give each and every board member of a Swedish listed company a copy for free!
Finally before I end this post I’d also recommend you to browse through this presentation that I held last week about 10 trends on future communication. It might light up the path for you even more.

See you on the other side!