Categories
Daily Life

Now Hear This

I got a batch of NFC stickers and I’m playing around with that. The first use case is setting it up so somebody can tap my phone with theirs and they’ll download my contact info. After that who knows, but it’s cheap and easy to play with. The other killer app there is Apple supports passing WiFi login via NFC so tapping to get on the network is a whole lot easier than somebody typing nectarinem0nkey5785.

At the recommendation of Tom Webster I started looking at the Jabra line of earbuds when I was looking for full Bluetooth and checking out the latest from Bose and Apple Earpods. The Jabra 75t won, pushed to the head of the pack by great microphones and an Equalizer so I can tweak the audio so it sounds best to my ears. And it works, they’re the most fun I’ve had listening to earbuds.

Earlier this year I had a fantastic discussion with Joshua Cohen of TubeFilter. If you want to know how people are making piles of money on YouTube it’s worth the listen.

I don’t watch much TV, Carin and I usually have a single show we’ll watch a couple nights a week. We’ve never watched a season of anything more than once. That is until we found Ted Lasso back in the spring. It looks like it’s a sports show, but in reality it’s a workplace comedy. The producer of Scrubs brings a mountain of experience to it and the rapid pace is just a touch of Gilmore Girls. If you feel the world has been lacking kindness in the past 5 years, it will calm your mind and heart.

Categories
Daily Life

The Great Shutdown

For the past 4 years I’ve been waiting on a recession. I thought it would be just the normal Wall Street shenanigans or something, I never expected this.

I hope you and your family are safe and healthy, that’s our first order of business.

While it’s frightening watching the pandemic spread and not knowing when it will let up or how bad it will be, we will get to the other side of this and I’m hoping that we’ll look at things a bit differently. Maybe our healthcare system could put the health of all and more capacity and distributed supply chain ahead of just in time profits at all costs to “maximize shareholder value.”

I wrote a piece last week on the Trust Insights website about why this could be a defining moment for us, a time when everyone around the world can work together to build a better future. Please check it out, I would love to hear your opinion on it.

With our normal daily routines gone be sure you’re doing things to keep your brain healthy and minimize stress. Here’s a list I swiped from Christopher Penn:

  1. Endorphins – get some exercise
  2. Dopamine – play some games
  3. Serotonin – foods rich in tryptophan
  4. Oxytocin – Barry White time

If you’ve read any great books or seen any good movies feel free to chime in this Friday on the #FriLearning tag on twitter and tell us what you learned. Feel free to tag me in @johnjwall

Categories
Photos

Panoramic Photos

My friend Ron took these last year and I was trying them out on different platforms and VR headsets. The files were originally up on Facebook, which has no interest in you linking to them from the outside web, so I’m posting them here so they’re easier to get to.

These shots are from Bonnie Lea Farm, if you’re ever out in the Berkshires looking to learn horse riding, it’s the place to go.

Categories
Daily Life

Our Community

Jeremiah Owyang had a post asking why tech has not solved homelessness in the bay area. The obvious snark that’s far below me would be “Yeah, that’s shocking, tech people having difficulty handling social situations.” I know, here I am talking about compassionate stuff and opening being a mean jerk. It’s still funny.

It’s cliche (but still true) to say there’s no easy answer, but there are a couple of things I’ve been thinking about (and I try to write up the lessons of the week as #FriLearningGarry encouraged me to do this).

One problem is that homelessness is a bundle of many things. People having economic difficulty are a different problem than those with mental illnesses, substance abuse is another massive issue. AND, these are not mutually exclusive and a cover a wide spectrum from a little trouble to hazardous. Everybody I know that’s spent time on Market Street has a story about somebody doing something crazy and threatening others. I’ve seen law enforcement struggle with maintaining everyone’s safety and rights, doing all they can to negotiate with the irrational. I can’t give them enough credit for dealing with that daily.

Our country was created as a land of opportunity – you have a chance to go out and get it. I used to think that now a small amount of people have most of it. Having done more research, it’s been that way for most of human civilization, this is not new. I used to think that putting more effort into “helping the poor” was the answer. This divides us and it creates a real problem at the dividing line. The democratic party got a rude awakening this election from voters in the middle class that weren’t excited about paying more to make healthcare more affordable for others.

Maybe it’s not about “the poor” but trying to find a way to make food, shelter, medical care and taking responsibility for others part of who we are. And you can help, there’s no reason to wait for an ambitious government official to figure it out.

 

Things that guide my opinions: HandUp is has been trying interesting things. The Guardian on the homeless offered trips out of town. Our local food pantry.

Notes: Searching for “FriLearning” in twitter brings them up in chronological, searching on #FriLearning orders them some other way.

Categories
Brain Buster

Computers Will Not Be Misled By The Media

A couple of weeks ago our local news led with a story of a car crashing into a crowd in Austrailia.

400 Years ago a village 20 miles away from me could get wiped out by disease and I’d never even hear about it. Now a car crash on the other side of the globe is considered newsworthy. What about the 3 billion people between me and Austrailia?

Most of the world runs smoothly. Just because every time the evening news comes on it’s shootings, drug deals and disaster, that’s not what most of the world is like.

This week’s #FriLearning:

Categories
Daily Life

Trial and Error

Trial and Error sounds so clean, so clinical. Picking yourself up off the ground for the 10,000th time requires a lot more soul than just “starting the next trial”. In many ways I rate this blog as a failure (which sounds much more imposing than “an error”) having not taken the advice many successful bloggers did take of “think of it as working on a book, not a diary.”

But, I like having a bit of my own writing out there that’s fun for me. It may not be a big crowd, but if you do read this, you’re probably into many of the same things I am and I’m happier to have a few kindred spirits reading about things they want to, rather than feeling like I have to post something here seven times a day to “feed the beast”.

So, I’ll ignore the trial and error results and let’s get back to the diary! What’s going on that has kept me away from posting about audio or Christmas Tree ornaments here?

I’m working on a great project called Stack & Flow with Sean Zinsmeister of Infer. Sean’s opened up his rolodex to get Sales and Marketing leaders to talk about the sales and marketing technologies they are using to drive results. It’s just been fun to find a place for Marketing Ops people in the podcasting world.

Marketing Over Coffee has been growing like crazy thanks to all the excitement around podcasting. We’ve decided to launch our first events for listeners to work together in groups limited to 10 people. I’m hoping we get to take it on the road as our audience has grown to around 50% outside of the US which opens up the chance for some foreign travel which would be fantastic.

EventHero continues to grow, doing badging, lead retrieval and session tracking. We’ve been doing a bunch of the Salesforce.com Dreaming’ events which keeps me in touch with what’s happening on the SFDC front. It’s always a thrill for me to see the app in action. I’m thankful for the privilege and trust of my co-workers.

The kids are off for the summer and doing a few weeks at camp, and in my spare time I’ve been helping Carin remodel 5 apartments. Currently working on bathroom 4 of 5 so I can’t wait for that to finish, not that it means I’ll have any free time…

I hope your summer has been relaxing, or at least fun!

 

Categories
Brain Buster

Seth Godin at Sales Machine 2016

This is the transcript of an interview I did this summer at Sales Machine 2016. You can listen to the audio of Seth Godin on Marketing Over Coffee.

John: Today, we have a special guest. He’s the author of over a dozen bestselling books. He’s been on the show many times, and I’m very excited to have him with us here today at Sales Machine in New York City.

Seth Godin, thanks for talking to us.

Seth:  What a pleasure. Thank you for having me.

John:  You’re here to talk to this audience about your latest book. In fact, it’s been about a year and a half since we talked to you last. How has the book done? I’ve actually heard you say that you love it more now than when you put it out.

Seth:  Yes, I did a webcast about it the other day. I’m fortunate in that I don’t organize my life around promoting books; I organize my life around teaching people, and if a book is helpful, that’s great. It never occurred to me that I was here today to talk about my book because I’m not.

The book What To Do When It’s Your Turn is a call to action. It’s illustrated. It’s consumed in a way a lot of people consume the Internet these days, in little bits and pieces. It’s determinedly non-digital; it’s only on paper. I published it myself so that I could sell it in boxes, as opposed to by the copy because I believe that if the people around you are also engaged in what you’re engaged in, it’s more likely you’ll be able to push yourself forward.

I’ve gone back to press five times. It’s become this community tool that enables an entire organization or a circle or a mastermind group or friends to be on the same page – literally be on the same page.

John:  So it’s the fifth printing in 18 months. That’s amazing. This has really done well.

Today, this event is all sales focused. What are you going to tie into that? I saw the keynote was about tribes. Does it link into the previous book?

Seth:  This event is called Sales Machine. They didn’t ask me before they called it that. I think it should be called Sales Human. The machine is the last thing we need in sales. When we think about what the machine has done to each industry it has touched, it industrializes it, it commoditizes it, it turns the players into cogs in the system.

Our chance to be linchpins, to be leaders, to speak up, to share what we believe, that’s the human part. As sales people, I think it’s essential that we understand that enrollment is the key to everything, that if the person you are trying to sell with feels like they’re being sold to, you lose. If they’re not enrolled in the process and eagerly pushing it forward, you’re just a spammer.

John:  Yes, I can totally see how a lot of this event is about software tools, narrowing the focus, and automating so much stuff, but bringing you in brings the human element back into it and allows people to think more about the relationship, as opposed to mining coal.

Seth:  Yes, and I think that the smart people, the caring people, the motivated people would rather not mine coal. The software is great if it gets you back to what you’re supposed to be doing, and what you’re supposed to be doing is being the one we would miss if you were gone.

John:  You’ve been doing the altMBA program. That’s continuing to roll on. Tell us about that. How’s that working?

Seth:  I started about a year ago, and the idea was to build a scalable, intimate experience online that does the opposite of most online courses. Instead of being huge, it’s very small. Instead of being easy, it’s really hard. Instead of being free, it’s really expensive. Instead of being open to everyone, you have to apply.

It’s a 30-day workshop. We take 100 or 120 people each time. We have coaches. We run it all in Slack and in WordPress and in Zoom Conferencing. In every given session, there are about 19 time zones represented, and 50,000 messages will pass back and forth in a typical week in Slack. I’m not there. My work is there, my projects are there, but there are no lectures from me. I’m not present. This is not how you get Seth. This is how you level up.

We’ve run it five times so far, and what we have discovered is that it works. It works in a way that’s more dramatic than any other thing I’ve ever done. For the person that seeks to see the world differently, to make decisions differently, and to be able to persuade others differently, this is a massive chance to be able to level up.

I didn’t set it up as a fast Internet thing; I set it up as a slow human thing, over time, drip by drip. We don’t have to run any more sessions. We’re only running two more this year. When we have the right group, we’ll run it again, but I’m not out there flogging it. It’s not some get-rich-quick thing for them or for me; it’s about how to go on this journey of becoming meaningful.

John:  Do you see that expanding into other realms, not just MBA? Would you consider something for kids? I know education is something that you’ve talked about a lot in the past, about how this current system is not serving what we’re doing. Could this expand?

Seth:  A little bit of what we do in the altMBA is like doing brain surgery in a moving vehicle in that it’s not for sissies and it’s tricky. We push people really hard, and they push themselves. I don’t think I have the enrollment or the standing to do that with 12-year-olds. It’s harder to do that kind of work online.

What I believe… And Stop Stealing Dreams, the e-book I wrote that’s free, continues to spread this. What I believe is that all schooling is homeschooling. Even when you send your school to public school as I did, they spend way more time being schooled by their parents. The real leverage that I have is to help parents understand that it’s up to them to ask their kids the difficult questions and up to them to expect their kids to lead.

As I was going through the altMBA stuff, you mentioned that you actually went to China recently.

Seth:  Yes. I went to Shenzhen and Dafen. I gave a speech in South Korea and then stopped by to see where they make all the smartphones and where they paint all the oil paintings.

John:  Has visiting China changed your perspective? Was this your first time there? Have you been there?

Seth:  It was my first time in China. I’m not really a world traveler. I’ve been everywhere but sort of begrudgingly. I didn’t see very much that blew me away in the sense that I’ve been thinking about it and studying it since Tom Peters started talking about it 20 years ago – that the cog economy that a country like China has no choice but to start with, because 20 or 30 years ago, that was the work that was available.

It’s interesting to note that South Korea in 1962 had the same GDP as Haiti. It was one of the poorest countries in the world. In my lifetime, it went from one of the poorest countries in the world to one of the top ten. How you do that? You do that by doing the cog work fast and cheap, by being the manufacturer slash systems integrator slash “We’ll do it for you right now.”

But you can’t keep doing that because then you need better wages, then you need people who have better quality of life, then you need a workforce that seeks more than putting part A and part B. We see in South Korea and now in China this urgent move away from “How do we be cheap robots?” into “How do we actually add value by being human?”

The irony is that’s where the US was when I was born, and we keep arguing – quote – “We want good jobs back.” Those good jobs weren’t that good; they were just steady. The steady jobs are gone. We’re not getting any steady jobs back. What we have is a chance for human jobs, for the art of daring and leading and connecting and being human, but it requires way more personal responsibility than people in this country have been trained to seek out.

People want a map. We can’t give you a map. You’re better off with a globe because a globe gives you the lay of the land. It doesn’t show you how to get from here to there.

John:  You mentioned Americans saying they want these jobs back. Of course, those jobs are not coming back, and a lot of it is another thing that you talked about, which is identity versus logic. The logical approach to it just says that, in fact, what we consider terrible jobs could be the best jobs that are available in that country, so you can’t judge that country by the way that things run here.

Do you see China following a similar path as they evolve to become more knowledge-based, more personal touch?

Seth:  As fast as they can. If you think of it as a game or a war between two countries, the only advantage we have is that their schools are even more cog-focused than our schools. In our schools, even though we spend six out of seven hours drilling and practicing and focusing on standardized tests, we still spend one hour encouraging kids to dream and think big and realize that they have a shot to make a difference.

But what’s going on in a place like China… I went to one factory where every single person does exactly what they did yesterday. I went to another factory run by a 29-year-old son of a multimillionaire, and he is right on the edge. Yesterday, they weren’t making hover boards; today, they are. Tomorrow, they’re going to be making something else. He has a flexible workforce. He has people are eager to discover the next thing. You can walk into one of his little labs with an idea, and they’ll have it on the circuit board in three hours.

If there’s that kind of change happening on every street corner, how are we going to catch up when we’re just sitting here insisting on – quote – “good jobs”? That’s not where the good jobs come from; good jobs come from doing things that might not work.

John:  What would be the best advice you’d give to a parent to prepare their child for this new world and to get away from that assembly-line school? What things should they be doing to get on the right path?

Seth:  I volunteered yesterday at the local Farm CSA. I did my few hours, and a woman came in with her kid, Adrian. Adrian is three. She handed Adrian some purslane. “Yeah, I think this tastes a bit like purslane with hints of celery in it.” Then walked over and said, “What’s this?” We had a whole conversation about the xylem and phloem and why the napa cabbage is green on the top and white on the bottom. Then another three-year-old kid came in and the mom said, “Here’s an iPad. I’m going to go pick up the vegetables.”

The difference is really clear. If you say to your kid, whether they’re 3 or 7 or 12 or 20, “Figure it out,” they’re going to learn to figure things out. If you say to them, “Here’s a metro card. Go to New York City. Call me when you’re done,” and they’re 12, why not? What’s going to happen?

If you said to a kid, “Here’s how blogging software works. It’s not under your name, so don’t worry. Just start blogging. Here’s a Wikipedia entry. Put some edits into it” – things that might not work, things that you’re not qualified to do. If you start doing that with your kids, early and often, if you reward them for failing and make a face when all they get is the same grades as last time, then your kid gets the message.

But if the message is you need to go to a famous college, which means you need to get good SAT scores, which means you need to get A’s, which means you need to do what the teacher says, then why are we surprised when the kid is 25 and says, “No one came to the placement office to hire me.” They’re unemployed. It’s because we never taught them to be free-range kids.

I’m ranting. Sorry.

John:  No, this is excellent. I like the free-range kid idea, letting them get into trouble, letting them go out and do what they need to do. What’s next for you? Have you another project that you’re working on? What’s coming up?

Seth: Every day is what’s next for me, so I am thrilled and privileged to be here. We are cooking up some things in the office that I hope to be able to talk about soon, but right now, this now is the best now that we’re going to get for a really long time. I’m really into this now.

John:  That sounds great. Seth, thanks for sharing some time with us.

Seth:  A pleasure. Good to see you.

Categories
Daily Life

Project Update

Here’s what’s been going on and why I haven’t been posting here.

We are still barrelling along at EventHero. It is not easy, but we’ve had some big wins recently and this is the best team I’ve ever worked with. If we continue on our present course life could get a bit easier, like just “software startup difficult” not “flat out alchemy”. So if you have anything to do with events and need badges, lead retrieval, session tracking, or integration between event technology systems, please remember me.

Marketing Over Coffee continues to be a great project, even since Serial brought in a fresh wave of listeners things have been growing faster than ever before. Even if you are not into listening to podcasts, you might want to sign up for the MoC newsletter. The biggest topics from every show are sent out a couple times a month, all the goodness without having to listen. To be honest, that’s been the biggest killer of this blog, the newsletter gets 10x the readers and is backed by sponsors so that’s where my free time goes first.

On the audio gear front I decided back in the spring that I wanted some over the ear headphones for the office. My favorite Shure 530s died after many years of service and the new Bose QC20i is amazing for travel so I looked around for something new while at the desk. I was very impressed with the Sony 7506 as a huge value when you look and price and sound quality. Then I went a little further down the lunatic path – I’ve been modifying them, adding a removable cord so you can use them with your phone, or with a high quality boom mic. I’ve tested dozens of aftermarket ear pads. I’ve even set up an online store, if you’re interested in learning more about headphones that sound incredible because the money goes to the parts instead of to celebrity sponsorship check out Johnny Headphones!

That’s about it, that and two kids under 6, and my wife working the family business. The last big thing that has nothing to do with marketing was that we went to Frontier Days in Wyoming this summer. If you’ve never seen a grown man jump off a horse galloping at full speed to tackle a 700 lb. cow you really need to do that. Carin and I also went to three shows, catching Big & Rich, Toby Keith, and Keith Urban, basically a Country Music Super Bowl.

I am getting the year end wrap up in order, and if you are a marketer the nominations for the Marketing Over Coffee Awards will be open soon, and I’ll also be giving out some Johnny Headphones there too! I hope you have a great holiday season!

Categories
Daily Life

2014 Results, 2015 Targets

With year end it’s time to look back and see how things went, and to figure out what the plan is for 2015. In the past I would review and report every quarter. By the time we had two kids, my goals could be boiled down to “Survive”.

We’re starting to make it past survival mode, and occasionally I even have an hour to myself, or a chance to use the bathroom uninterrupted. The funny part here is that it’s been so long since I have had anything like free time I usually sit there in a stupor absorbing the silence and trying to remember what it was I used to do when I would have free time.

Here’s the map as it stands for 2014:

2014

 

The funny thing is that the goals are only the milestones. Even though I only accomplished about half of what I wanted to, I would rate this year as a huge success. Our family is doing well, and there have been some flashes of brightness that could be the beginning of great things in 2015.

The segments:
Family – Everybody did well this year in spite of health troubles, my brother came out early in the year for the first ever Wall Ski Trip: The Next Generation. We visited my family in Michigan that I haven’t been out to see in a couple of years. With the exception of the college funds being under funded, all went well. Everyone is doing pretty well, score this a win.

Personal – Getting a cold/flu for the Falmouth Road Race was a backbreaker for me last year. I wasn’t in great shape but I was on track to finish well (for me), and this would have been my 10th. Instead I was sick for the end of the summer. Add to that another cold in December, and the winner, all four of us spending 7 of our 9 day vacation in Florida with the flu, made it kind of tough. On the other hand, nobody was REALLY sick, no hospital visits, so we’re ok. Losing Florida was a bastard though.

Financial – Well, working at a young company is not for the fiscally squeamish. Burning a lot of the war chest and we scaled back big time this year. On the other hand, that’s why we built the war chest. Here’s hoping the right cards come up in the next 6 months.

Professional – A busy and exciting year professionally, EventHero is moving along nicely. Given last year’s growth, signs are promising for 2015. Marketing Over Coffee stumbled in Q4 a bit but it was still a record year. The audiobook version of B2B Marketing Confessions did well and writing is progressing nicely on the next book (finally)! Overall I’m very proud of all the work that’s been done, and most of it has been placing a wager that it will come through eventually.

I hope your holiday went well and you’re prepared for 2015, here’s to having a huge, safe and happy year!

Categories
Brain Buster

What’s Your Mobile Strategy?

I had the opportunity to talk with Tom Webster about his new book: The Mobile Commerce Revolution. Here’s the transcript, or if you’re into audio you can listen to it over on Marketing Over Coffee.

John: Tom Webster is here. He’s going to be talking about his brand-new book, The Mobile Commerce Revolution, written with Tim Hayden.

If you don’t know Tom, if you haven’t run across him in all the major social channels, he is VP of strategy and marketing at Edison Research, the folks that do the exit polls for the major political races. But he covers a lot of stuff, and most notable for us is his Infinite Dial report that talks about the state of online music and audio. We’ll have him tell us about that. Also the author of the BrandSavant blog, talking about what’s going on in his neck of the woods.

He has the Marketing Companion with Mark Schaefer, a podcast that he does — a two-man long format marketing discussion. Most importantly, he’s the producer of award-winning Friday Five podcast, and “Discovering the music DNA of interesting people” is the tagline on that.

Tom, welcome to the show.

Tom: Thank you. The Friday Five is coming back. I have three in the can now. I wanted to get four or five in the can before I launched, because, as you know, scheduling a podcast is awful.

John: That is the number one thing that people don’t think about that just takes so much time. It’s so great because I’m a huge music fan, so I love to hear that. It’s amazing to hear the stories people have behind the music they choose. Before we jump into the book and all that, tell us about your background. Obviously, you’re huge into media and podcasting, and you have a background in music, so tell us how this all came together.

Tom: I’ve largely been doing the same thing for about 20 years. I’m a consumer behavior guy, a researcher. I’ve done a lot of work in media research. In the first half of my career, I did a lot of work in media, measuring for the music and entertainment and radio industries audience measures and things. Then the last ten years were really a lot more focused on consumer behavior around technology, and both traditional and digital media, and marketing and advertising effectiveness. But at the heart of everything I’ve done for the past couple of decades has been studying the humans.

John: And how people move and decide.

Now, the book, The Mobile Commerce Revolution: where did this come from? Have you seen the signs and decided it was time for a book? Where did this all come from?

Tom: All credit to that has to go to my co-author and very good friend, Tim Hayden. Tim started this book originally. Tim is the most knowledgeable person about mobile who I know. My domain of authority is really about the mobile human, and Tim has a much more holistic and expansive knowledge of all things mobile. He started the book. He wrote it in the original Texan, and then I was hired to translate it.

No. He had a lot of great material, and I collaborated with him on mostly consumer behavior and how humans have changed, and I think really the biggest story of the book is that mobile has rewired human behavior as fast as anything that I’m aware of in the history of industry. We’re doing things now with our mobile phones by rote, out of habit, that we didn’t even imagine we would do five years ago.

John: Yeah. As you said, that’s right at the key of this book. It comes across quickly that mobile is a behavior; it’s not technology. We have all this tech that makes it happen, but there are literally these behaviors that change everything.

Two things that were interesting I’d love to hear you talk more about. One is going all the way to addiction. You guys address that, that some people are literally addicted to these phones. And then the other part of it is a narrowing of focus, too, in that most of people’s time is actually spent on a very small number of sites or content. So talk about all those behaviors, and how that comes together.

Tom: The interesting thing that’s happened with the smartphone now — and about two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone at this point — it’s not just that we own a smartphone; it’s that many of us are on our second, third, fourth smartphone. We’re now very, very comfortable with them.

When we buy a new smartphone, we load the same apps that we had before. There’s a suite of about 15 apps that I can’t live without, and they’re the first things that go on a new phone. I just got the iPhone 6, and that’s what I put on it.

It’s very hard, I think, to break a new app, because we do settle down with a smaller number of apps, just as we settle down with a smaller number of websites. The research that we quote in the book said 80% of people’s Internet time is spent on about 15 sites, and breaking into that 15 is a very difficult thing to do.

But that’s really just a function of the fact the mobile technology is mainstream technology, because that’s how mainstream humans act. Early adopters will load up on apps, and try and experiment new things, but as you get into the middle of the bell curve, there are just certain things people want and need to do, and that’s what they rely on their phones for. But what they’re relying on their phones for, again, are things that they wouldn’t even have dreamed of a few years ago.

Look at the Starbucks mobile app. The Starbucks mobile app is a phenomenally successful mobile strategy, and it’s essentially changing people’s behavior. It changes people’s behavior to stop into a Starbucks just to use the app.

John: They’re at the top. They are definitely the marquee mobile app. They have some gamification in there, it’s location-based. From what you see in that, then, how can other companies get on this bandwagon? What do they need to do? Obviously, they won’t get that level of success, but how can they get a better mobile strategy?

Tom: Well, I think they could get that level of success. I think that level of success at whatever scale you’re at is attainable. I’ll tell you the big key to what Starbucks did. When Starbucks brought out the app, there were some who ridiculed it, because it is a pretty low-tech solution. There’s no RFID. There’s no Bluetooth. There’s not an app that pays for it necessarily. It’s an app that prints a barcode, and they scan it with a barcode scanner.

But the genius about that is, first of all, it’s future-proof. If you were to write a story about this five years ago, if you had a smartphone, chances are you would read it on a Blackberry, which are few and far between now. Starting your mobile strategy with technology first is a long hiding to nowhere, but the thing that Starbucks realized — again, they started with the mobile human, and they watched the mobile human in line – is when the mobile human at Starbucks is waiting in line, what are they doing?

They are on their phone, and so when they get to the counter, they have to put their phone away and take out their wallet, or they have to have a phone in one hand and a wallet in the other and magically transport their drink. So Starbucks basically said, “Keep your wallet in your pocket.” That’s a human behavior that they researched, and it made the experience better for the humans in line.

Again, if you start with trying to remove a pain point, remove a step, make the experience of the mobile human a little bit better. That’s the basis for any mobile strategy.

John: You’re talking about the mobile human and what they’re doing, the experience at that one point. There’s another big idea in the book that I love. You talk about integration and little data. It’s really about how that one individual user is using the device and where they go with that. Talk about that, and how it seems contrary to the whole big data thing we’re being sold now. Where did that idea come from, and where do you go with it?

Tom: I think the exciting thing about mobile technology… First of all, ask yourself if this is true. (a) Do you have a smartphone? I bet you do. (b) If you change your smartphone, will you keep your number? My guess is that you will.

Your mobile phone number is now just like your social security number. I still have a North Carolina one. I live in Boston. I’m not going to change that number. I get text alerts to that number from travel services. So many people have that number. That’s my social security number.

The thing about that number is if you’re reaching me at that number, you are reaching me. You are not reaching a desktop that other people can use. You are not watching a TV screen that many people can view. It is truly the key to an actual one-to-one relationship.

The exciting thing about mobile technology – because the mobile device really is the key to that direct, personal relationship – is I hope marketing becomes what it used to be in the 1890s, when the people who ran your local store, your local butcher, they knew your name. They knew what products you liked. They ran a tab for you. I think the exciting thing about mobile is we can go back to that at scale.

John: That’s the real challenge. We’ve been promised one-to-one for decades really, and it seems like we have a lot more of the technology. Talk more about that. There are so many problems when you try to get to scale. You always see the examples of a frequent flyer member, and they’re getting an email, and they’re saying, “I don’t need more miles. I’ve got millions of miles.” How can we get closer to that one-to-one experience? What other ways do you see being able to drill down like that?

Tom: You have to provide value in the relationship. We’re so used to being marketed as a segment. In order to market to you as a human, I need to have a little more profile data, and I need to have your permission to do that on a mobile basis. And in order for me to do that, you have to provide some serious value above and beyond the value of your product or the value of your service.

It’s a courtship. It is a courtship as much as e-mail marketing was 15 years ago. If you provide something that is truly a value to me, then I’m going to give you permission to contact me. I’m going to give you permission to continue to provide value to me, because I’m a selfish person. I’m going to give you that opportunity to have that one-to-one relationship. Essentially, it’s just replacing the profile data of a segment with the profile data of an individual human who you know you’re going to be able to reach.

I’ll give you a great example of this, and this is why mobile is holistic and so not just about marketing. One of my favorite companies is Hilton. I am unobtainium mithril level with Hilton, and their mobile app is fantastic. You can do all the things that you would expect you could do with it, but what Hilton is going to start rolling out is a smart door technology.

You’re going to be able to check into a Hilton directly from your phone — and this will be true for many hotel chains, I suspect. You will never again have to go to a desk to be told that your room isn’t ready. You can look on the app, and you can see, “This room is ready. I’ll pick this one.” Then you just simply go to the room, and the app will unlock the door for you.

Now, if Hilton does that, I’m going to love Hilton a little bit more – actually, maybe a lot bit more – and as I continue to develop that deeper relationship, and they go from top-of-mind awareness to what my friend Tom Martin would call top-of-mind preference, I will more and more actively exclude other brands from my consideration set for those brands that deepen that relationship by removing pain points, steps, and friction from my journey.

John: You mentioned in your book the behavioral strategist and their role in coming up with marketing programs and rolling out mobile. Does that tie into that, then? Am I right on that track?

Tom: Yes. One of the points that we make in the book – and this is really one of Tim’s great points – is that if you’re going to tackle a mobile strategy, then your first hire should be a genuine strategist who knows something about consumer behavior, and not a technologist per se, because I think if you start with the technology, you are excluding the possibilities.

Some of the best mobile strategies I know of don’t even use a smartphone. They certainly didn’t start with a smartphone. The cashless RFID wristbands that Lollapalooza used this year were a great idea. They enabled people to not even have to take their phone out when the weather was not very good. It was soggy and rainy. People didn’t have to take their phone even to pay for things.

I haven’t seen any hard evidence on how that impacted sales. There’s some anecdotal evidence that it boosted sales, but it certainly reduced friction, and there’s not even a phone involved there.

I think what some people call a mobile strategy, in my business – because we’ve done this kind of research for two decades at Edison – we call them out-of-home humans. We do a lot of work in the out-of-home media space: how people respond, interact with, and get the sense of a brand from their out-of-home encounters with it.

One of my clients is the AMC theater chain, and one of the things that AMC does is, and you can see this any time you go into one… Anybody can sit in a chair and watch a movie. I can sit in a chair and watch a movie at home. I can sit in a chair and watch a movie at the theater.

But what AMC does, and you’ll see this any time you go to see a movie there, is they really take into account the out-of-home human, and provide the things that you don’t have at home. Yes, people have bigger and bigger screens, and certainly they may not compete with a movie theater screen, but if you’re close enough to it, it does.

But they try to blow you away with things that you don’t have at home, and in a sense, that is a mobile strategy. I just recently went to an AMC Prime theater with these incredible seats that had bass kickers built into them and reclines, and all that stuff. I don’t have that at home.

All you have to really do is think about the mobile human, and sometimes those things will involve the phone, sometimes they won’t involve the phone, but they will always involve a customer in transition, and if you can come up with ways to remove roadblocks and ease their passage, that’s the key to a mobile strategy.

John: When you want to attack this, then, and build this, is it a matter of you creating the flows? Can you actually create these flows, or do you have to discover it? Do you have to go and see where they’re already at, and work around what’s happening?

Tom: I think your first step is a qualitative step always, and by that I mean you actually have to observe the flows. It is far, far easier to work with the stream than to try to divert it. I think the great thing about so many successful mobile strategies is that they’re not creating a brand-new behavior; they are simply creating a way to do something you already wanted to do, or maybe you didn’t know could be done for you, but you certainly want to do it, but not a completely new behavior.

That’s one of the things I think why Apple Pay is going to be so successful. Apple Pay is going to be so successful because so many millions of us already trust Apple with our credit cards. They’ve had them for years. They probably have more credit cards than anybody, because we’ve been buying things from the iTunes music store. That’s going to be a natural extension of something that we frankly already wanted to do and that we’re already comfortable with, which is why I think it’s going to be quite successful.

You have to observe the humans first. Some of my favorite stories and research are really qualitative research stories, and so much of that is talking to people. It’s doing ethnographic research, which involves actually observing them.

Proctor & Gamble has done tons of ethnographic research. They’re really one of the leaders as far as the brand goes. That’s why things like the spill-proof cap for laundry detergent were invented, not because somebody took a survey about it, but because the first thing they did was go into homes and watch people use their products, and see the sticky ring left on the machine.

If you solve those problems that people don’t even express, you can observe them, observe their flow, and that’s really the key to starting your mobile strategy.

John: That’s an interesting point you brought up, the Apple Pay going on here. We’ve seen in other parts of the world, especially the Far East, that this type of payment system works and is already adopted. In fact, in the book, you go into that in-depth, talking about the developing world. Especially I was interested with the unbanked, people who had no access to financial institutions and now do.

Then another thing that was interesting and got me thinking was the trust, security, and optimism of China in that it’s a newer economy. They don’t have the distrust of the government or business that actually we in the States have, which is almost a liability. Tell us more about the global side of things.

Tom: I think you’ve hit on a couple of really key things. First of all, yes, there is that stronger optimism with the Chinese people about the companies and institutions serving them. The kinds of things they want to do on their mobile phone are things that maybe some of them are more comfortable with than we are, but that’s all going to change. That’s all going to change over time. We’re getting more and more comfortable with it.

But I think the key is if you aren’t already a company that people trust and have that relationship with, then you’re not going to magically get that when you build an app. Part of your mobile strategy is absolutely a trust strategy. I don’t know about you, but I have four or five new debit cards re-issued this year from skimmers at gas stations and all kinds of different fraud items.

I think that one of the ways that a company is going to set itself apart, a differentiation strategy, is to start taking our security seriously. Make it the core tenet of their belief. Make it the theory of the firm, to quote Peter Drucker. Make that a selling point that you are going to be a zealot, relentless about guarding our personal data. It’s happening so much to so many companies that not only could it hold the industry back, but it is in fact the selling point.

John: Yeah, you’re right. When I was reading about Apple Pay for the first time, the thing that got me was second-factor authentication. You get a code that only gets used once for that transaction, and then the person doing the transaction doesn’t even get your name. It’s not like you’re handing over the card.

I can see that stuff catching on and catching fire. Doing one fewer credit card replacement for Bank of America is a huge undertaking, so obviously we’ll see a lot more of that as time goes on.

The book is The Mobile Commerce Revolution. You can get it wherever fine books are sold. It’s published by Que, as a matter of fact. If you know tech books, they are one of, if not the most, venerable publishers.

Tom, thanks for taking time to talk to us today.

Tom: Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me on, John.

John: If people want to follow up with you, what’s the best way to get in touch with you?

Tom: I’m on the Twitter, @webby2001. That’s the best way to shout at me. You can certainly contact me through Edison Research or on the contact form at BrandSavant.com.