Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
August 13, 2018 8:39 AM

Amazon Delivery Person Enters A Couple's Home And More On This Week's CTRL ALT Delete Segment On CHOM 97.7 FM

Every Monday morning at 7:10 am, I am a guest contributor on CHOM 97.7 FM radio out of Montreal (home base). It's not a long segment - about 10 minutes every week - about everything that is happening in the world of technology and digital media. The good folks at CHOM 97.7 FM are posting these segments weekly on i Heart Radio, if you're interested in hearing more of me blathering away about what's going on in the digital world. I'm really excited about this opportunity, because this is the radio station that I grew up listening to, and it really is a fun treat to be invited to the Mornings Rock with Terry DiMonte morning show. The segment is called, CTRL ALT Delete with Mitch Joel.

This week we discussed: 

  • On the Homefront: Here, in Montreal, a couple was "shaken" after an Amazon delivery person entered their home. Crazy. Intelcom Express (a delivery service that Amazon subcontracts to) apparently dropped off a package inside the home of a Hochelaga-Maisonneuve resident. After the driver rang the bell to no answer (the husband/father was home, but was tending to his young child), the driver decided to try the unlocked front door, and was caught by the homeowner while he was leaving a package inside the house. The company has apologized and the driver has been fired. 
  • Snapchat Dysmorphia is a thing. Sadly. Because Snapchat (and Instagram) offer filters, it also offers people a version of themselves with flawless skin, different shapes of eyes, etc.... Now, people think that maybe they should like that all of the time? Self-image specialists and doctors are sounding the alarm. These selfie filters have given rise to people seeking plastic surgery, especially those dealing with the medical disorder of body dysmorphia. Yes, people want cosmetic surgery to look like the filtered version of themselves on social media.  
  • Uber (and Lyft) continue to disrupt, while traditional business models (and the governments that regulate them) fight back. Last week, New York became the first US city to cap services like Uber and Lyft by freezing new car licenses for one year, while the city looks at the impact these ride-hailing services have had. The thinking is that these services have caused much congestion, traffic and problems (which runs counter to the company's intent). It is doubtful that New York will be the only city to do this. 
  • App of the Week: Hibooks.

By Mitch Joel


August 12, 2018 8:30 AM

Growth IQ With Tiffani Bova - This Week's Six Pixels of Separation Podcast

Episode #631 of Six Pixels of Separation is now live and ready for you to listen to.

It's very exciting to welcome Tiffani Bova back to the show (her last appearance can be checked out here: SPOS #578 - Defining Innovation With Tiffani Bova). Tiffani is the global customer growth and innovation evangelist at Salesforce and author of the brand new business book, Growth IQ - Get Smarter About the Choices that Will Make or Break Your Business. Tiffani is a specialist and thought-leader in customer experience, digital transformation, the future of work, and sales mastery. She has her own (excellent) podcast, What's Next! with Tiffani Bova, that is also ranked as one of the top business and marketing podcasts on Apple Music. She has delivered over three hundred keynote presentations to over 300,000 people around the globe. Prior to working with Salesforce she was a VP, Distinguished Analyst and Research Fellow at Gartner. It's a pleasure to welcome her back to discuss Growth IQ. Enjoy the conversation...

You can grab the latest episode of Six Pixels of Separation here (or feel free to subscribe via iTunes): Six Pixels of Separation #631.

By Mitch Joel


August 11, 2018 5:22 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #424

Is there one link, story, picture or thought that you saw online this week that you think somebody you know must see?

My friends: Alistair Croll (Solve for InterestingTilt the WindmillHBS, chair of StrataStartupfestPandemonio, and ResolveTO, Author of Lean Analytics and some other books), Hugh McGuire (PressBooks, LibriVox, iambik and co-author of Book: A Futurist's Manifesto) and I decided that every week the three of us are going to share one link for one another (for a total of six links) that each individual feels the other person "must see".

Check out these six links that we're recommending to one another: 

  • Ancient dreams of intelligent machines: 3,000 years of robots - Nature. "Humans have been thinking about automata for centuries. I found this roundup of historical examples fascinating, and food for thought. Today we see AI through twin lenses: the rose color of deity, and the shade of demon. But as this shows, those aren't the only colours." (Alistair for Hugh).
  • This Is My Nerf Blaster, This Is My Gun - Topic. "Decades ago, I equipped my startup with Nerf weapons that fired small rubber donuts, spinning lazily among the cubicles in an almost laughingly stereotypical display out of the episodes of Silicon Valley. Seemed harmless. And then a few weeks ago I watched Adam Savage mod a Nerf gun to give it a magazine that held a thousand rounds, then use it to nail three people in inflatable dinosaur costumes. It got me thinking: Wow, Nerf has come a long way. Apparently I wasn't the only one wondering that." (Alistair for Mitch).
  • Capital of the World - The Nation. "New York really is an extraordinary city, and a new book by Mike Wallace, Greater Gotham, traces the transformation between 1898 and 1919, which includes the 4 years (it would take us longer now!) it took to build the New York City subway." (Hugh for Alistair).
  • 12% of music industry revenues go to musicians - BoingBoing. "A refresher on how copyright and distribution monopolies work, and not in favor of artists. A nice spin about the rivalry between Big Tech and Big Content being a glitch caused by billionaires hiring different sets of managers to grow their wealth." (Hugh for Mitch).
  • Are We at the End of the Future? - Umar Haque - Medium. "A very big and deep question. It feels a little bit like, 'maybe this is as good as it gets'? Probably not true. The future is always coming. Don't believe me? Let's talk tomorrow ;) If the future still one of hope and dreams? This is a thoughtful piece about the pace of innovation and why we - as humans - pursue it... or should we?" (Mitch for Alistair).
  • Newsletters Are Immortal - Dave Pell - Medium. "This falls under the 'do as I say... not as I do.' For the fifteen-plus years that I have been publishing content, I have not collected any email addresses, and I don't have a newsletter. I'm looking to fix that. Well, with this piece of writing, I have been pushed. Hard. This is a great article by a wonderful writer and curator of the web. If you don't subscribe to NextDraft, you really should. Plus, it's hard not to love Dave Pell, especially when you see his job title: Managing Editor, Internet." (Mitch for Hugh).

Feel free to share these links and add your picks on TwitterFacebook, in the comments below or wherever you play.

By Mitch Joel


August 10, 2018 8:56 AM

The Failed State of Digital Advertising

My digital advertising customer experience sucks. Big time. 

I'm speaking at a conference soon, and wanted to know what the official hotel is for the event. I Googled the event. Now all I see are ads for this event. Every. Where. I. Go. I signed up for a software service, because a friend had recommended it. Now all I see are ads for this software service. Every. Where. I. Go. I grabbed a link for a book that I had read on Amazon to share with a friend. Now all I see are ads for this book on Amazon. Every. Where. I. Go. I was at a kid's birthday party at one of those trampoline places. Now all I see are ads for this sporting venue. Every. Where. I. Go. In fact, in looking through my Facebook feed, there is nothing in there that is relevant to me anymore - at all... and the brands that are advertising to me are, without a doubt, paying a premium because of what some algorithm has defined as valuable intent. There is no intent.

This is where digital advertising falls down. Hard.

Feel free to retarget a consumer who has abandoned a shopping cart. There are a myriad of other ways to define true intent. A search? Search may well be one of the worst ways to align your retargeting or personalization marketing strategies. It's expensive and it's wasteful, if you really don't dig in and define some significant metrics that must happen AFTER the search that should trigger an ad. Regardless of how the brand behaves in their media spend, the biggest criminals in this ordeal are the platforms. Think about the depth, data and understanding that these platforms have on their users. Think about the power of their click tracking, user behavior, the underlying machine learning and artificial intelligence technology that they have developed and this is the output? Couple all of that together, and it's somewhat criminal that the vast majority of digital ads that consumers are being exposed to are things that they have already closed the purchase (or research) cycle on. And, with that, why bother wasting a brand impression if that consumer has already (and obviously) been exposed to the brand and, in many cases, is already a consumer? It's the old-school mindset of impression repetition coupled on to this new technology that can personalize and retarget. It makes no sense to mix those two ideologies together.

It's true... is it not?

The worst of the worst (and the most common digital marketing advertising infraction) comes in the continuous flow of ads for a brand that the consumer has just purchased from. And, to make it worse, it never ends. There are countless brands that I have purchased - months later - that are still retargeting me with offers on the exact product or service that I have already purchased. It's a bad brand experience. It doesn't say "thank you for being my customer." It does say: "we have no idea that you're now a customer, so here are some ads for something that you have already purchased from us." It's not a warm and fuzzy feeling.

Isn't that Customer Experience 101? 

Digital marketing and advertising is not easy. Digital marketing and advertising is hard, complex and fast moving. Because of that, I struggle to understand why brands make it even harder on themselves (they are paying a premium for this kind of advertising) and for their consumers (it's hard to feel like a valued consumer, when every brand interaction tells them that you're not a customer). Perhaps it's time for brands to take their foot off of the digital marketing customer journey gas pedal, and re-evaluate where their spend is going, and what the logic tree is that displays an ad in front of consumer. It will cut down on waste. It will build a better brand experience. It will put their media agency on notice that they need to be sharper. It will reduce ad spend. It will increase viewability. It will increase positive recall. It will increase brand value.

How is that not one of the biggest wins a brand could have in 2018?

By Mitch Joel


August 8, 2018 6:28 AM

Local Retail Needs To Step Up

This does not happen online. This does not happen with major retailers.

Recently, I was recommended to a local retailer for some home furnishings. After visiting the store (and ordering some stuff), I was quite taken with the personal service, and it always feels good to support a local merchant. I bought a few more pieces that I had not anticipated on this trip. Soon after, I found myself looking online at the prices of the products I had just purchased. No, I didn't do this beforehand (or while in the store), because I was taken by the conversation with the small business owner, and felt that there was a good rapport. Imagine my shock, when I discovered that the same products were available for 50% less online than what I had paid (some of the products I purchased were even cheaper).

Pricing matters.

I have no issue paying a premium for local merchants and services. I like helping to bolster and support the local small business economy. A local business' success works for everybody. BUT... don't insult me... or my intelligence. When I called the shop owner on this pricing gap, I was able to extract (after a lot of bumbling and stammering on their part) that what I saw online must be a different manufacturer with a far less superior quality. Fine. I asked for the manufacturer's name... they would not provide it. A few days later, I was walking by the store and noticed boxes outside with the proper manufacturer on it. I went back online and - sure enough - it was the same manufacturer. 

Another phone call... and the lies started to flow.

Trust is lost when lies enter the conversation and relationship. The back peddling continued until the offer of a ten percent discount was offered. Not even close to the available price online (from multiple sources). I decided that the order would be cancelled. "That will take us about ten business days to process," the merchant declared. At that same moment in time, I had bought and returned something online from a large home furnishing brand in the States, without question. In fact, once the parcel was placed at UPS for return, I noticed that my credit card was refunded the money. The brand didn't even wait to get the goods (or check them upon return). Flawless. Painless. Customer-centric (great work, Restoration Hardware!).

The bar has been set.

Local retailers don't have to like the effect that big box stores or online merchants have had on their general business, but price transparency and ease of return are, simply, table stakes in business today. The sad reality, is that the bar is not set considerably higher or too complex for these businesses to operate within. Before pricing a product, local merchants simply have to ensure that they're within a reasonable pricing structure to the online world. While establishing retail policies of the store, make it as easy as possible for the customer to do business with you as they operate online. Ten days to process/think about whether or not the retailer is going to accept a return is no longer acceptable. And, yes, we all recognize that the price to operate and run a physical store is a different dynamic to the online channels, but this is the net new reality.

We have been exposed.

Perhaps the biggest lesson for local retailers (and brands, in general) is that consumers have been exposed to these new experiences and expectations. Pricing, ratings, return policies and more are a couple of swipes away. It's easy. Giving consumers the feeling that they may have been taken on the price they paid, or making it laborious to return something are both old school retail tactics that die hard in this digital environment. That genie is not going back into the bottle with online shopping. Adapt or die? Accept or die? Embrace or die? Sure. On the other hand, why not make the offer better than buying it online? And, if you can't do that, maybe it's time to consider another line of business? Harsh? That's not the intent. The true intent is this: do you know the baseline expectations of your consumers in a world where much of what happens in the purchase cycle is available for all to see and experience?

This isn't just the story of a small local retailer who is challenged by our new world. Many brand leaders are currently suffering along by living in the past as well. This should feel like opportunity... and not defeat.

By Mitch Joel


August 7, 2018 8:36 AM

Bridget Kearney On This Month's Groove - The No Treble Podcast

Bridget Kearney is this month's conversation on Groove - The No Treble Podcast. You can listen the new episode right here: Groove - The No Treble Podcast - Episode #44 - Bridget Kearney. Who is Bridget Kearney? Bridget Kearney doesn't talk much... Read more

By Mitch Joel


August 6, 2018 8:13 AM

Apple Hits A Trillion, Fake Instagram Influencers And More On This Week's CTRL ALT Delete Segment On CHOM 97.7 FM

Every Monday morning at 7:10 am, I am a guest contributor on CHOM 97.7 FM radio out of Montreal (home base). It's not a long segment - about 10 minutes every week - about everything that is happening in the... Read more

By Mitch Joel


August 5, 2018 8:34 AM

Agile Strategy And Epic Brands With Marty Neumeier - This Week's Six Pixels of Separation Podcast

Episode #630 of Six Pixels of Separation is now live and ready for you to listen to. Some of the most insightful and smart books on branding and marketing strategy have been written by Marty Neumeier. Zag, The Brand Flip,... Read more

By Mitch Joel


August 4, 2018 5:33 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #423

Is there one link, story, picture or thought that you saw online this week that you think somebody you know must see? My friends: Alistair Croll (Solve for Interesting, Tilt the Windmill, HBS, chair of Strata, Startupfest, Pandemonio, and ResolveTO, Author of Lean Analytics and some other books), Hugh McGuire (PressBooks,... Read more

By Mitch Joel


August 3, 2018 5:48 AM

Content, Authenticity And The Road To Professional Speaking

Want to speak? Want to produce better content? Want to bring your brand stature up? A couple of weeks back, I had back-to-back meetings in Philadelphia with a day off in-between (which rarely/never happens). For years, I have been friends... Read more

By Mitch Joel