1.35 Billion Brand Managers, And Counting

Posted by on January 22nd, 2015

blog I wrote in a previous blog post about the challenges of marketing to the tech-savvy world, and brand management certainly falls into that category. This is a challenge particularly when it comes to social media, because it’s the rare scenario where a marketer’s audience is actively using the very same tools in a similar fashion.

Working in the marketing field, one thing I find very interesting about social media is not just the staggering adoption rate, but the transition away from “social” media and a greater emphasis on personal brand building. Brand building/management is an important component of marketing, and increasingly, a large portion of the population is getting in on the act. According to statista.com, there were 1.35 billion active Facebook® users during the third quarter of 2014, which represented the highest Facebook user total ever. That’s a lot of people out there who, for one reason or another, are paying some level of attention to the type of message that they, as a “brand of one,” are putting out there for the world to see or hear.

Granted, if you ask the next person you see staring at a smartphone what he/she is doing, you’re much more likely to hear, “just playing around on [insert name of social network]” rather than, “just doing some personal brand building” — but what has he/she really been up to? Was it as simple as casually conversing back and forth with friends, family and colleagues — you know, being social? Perhaps, but it’s just as likely that what he/she has been doing is reinforcing the images, opinions and attitudes that he/she has used to shape the narrative of what it means to be “John/Jane” to a much broader network of individuals with whom he/she may have little to no direct contact on regular basis. That reinforcement, whether in the form of a recurring selfie pose, a specific genre of music in shared videos, unique style of writing, common themes among shared articles, etc., is all about brand consistency. You’ll also find individuals who actively seek to stir up discussion (for better or worse), and others who prefer to share without necessarily initiating a dialogue, which are descriptions you could apply to a lot of brands out there.

As plenty of marketers could attest, brand management can be difficult, because it’s a responsibility that extends across an organization to varying degrees. For those very immersed in brand management, certain things become reflexive and help maintain a certain level of consistency, but for many others in the organization, branding is less top-of-mind, leading to the use of outdated document templates, old logos, mis-formated email signatures, design/copy that doesn’t properly reflect the brand’s desired tone and other slip-ups that can quickly add up when spread out across dozens, hundreds or thousands of team members. A somewhat unexpected outcome of the social media boom could be a generation that enters the workforce with a firm understanding of the elements that makeup brand management, regardless of which area of the organization those people might be part of. What it also means is that the general public is more quick than ever to call out mis-steps that brands might make. Whether it’s a commercial that seems disingenuous, a Twitter® post that gets political, or even decisions around product packaging, the reaction isn’t just, “I think that’s bad” but more like, “I know why I wouldn’t have done that.” In some ways, this is encouraging, but certainly a challenge in a world that moves as quickly as ours does today — managing a brand at high speeds with every decision potentially scrutinized as if in slow motion.

Today’s personal brand builders aren’t just the compulsive “selfie posters” – they’re the ones keeping marketers and brand managers on top of their game.


Single-Wave vs. On-Going Transactional Surveys

Posted by on January 15th, 2015

DMcMur_11515In the last two months, Harland Clarke Digital’s Research & Insights has worked with two financial institutions that wanted to implement a comprehensive body of surveys to measure multiple aspects of their account holder’s experience. Typically, most financial institutions just focus on one or two surveys, but in these cases, there were ten areas where each financial institution wanted to focus its efforts such as teller transactions, online and mobile banking, investments services and much more.

Initially, both clients envisioned an on-going transactional-based approach for each survey. On-going transactional surveys are administered after account holders engage in a specific transaction like opening a new account or using an ATM. From there, weekly data feeds allow Research & Insights personnel to measure account holder’s opinions and provide valuable feedback and recommendations to executives.

For some transactions, the numbers were quite high, but for others, it was the opposite. This made it very difficult to provide adequate analysis. Upon consultation with Research & Insights, it was determined that some surveys would be better and simpler as a single-wave survey, rather than an ongoing one.

On-going transactional surveys are best when the focus is on the quality of the transaction and when there is variability in the quality of deliverability such as every time an account holder calls the customer contact center or went into the branch and spoke with a financial professional. This type of survey is beneficial because, it can provide actionable data on what is trending month-to-month, which will help monitor the quality of service delivered by multiple bank personnel.

Single-wave surveys are best when the focus is more on product features and functionality rather than service and delivery as well as when the product and service functionality is relatively static such as the mobile banking experience, first and second mortgages and credit card services. Utilizing single wave surveys simplifies the overall process and decreases the time and expense of an ongoing approach.

Other factors that should be taken into consideration when deciding between ongoing-transactional and single-wave surveys are:

  • Sampling strategies and length of time to obtain adequate data: If transactions are not frequent you have the option to wait and group them in one larger single wave or administer them in smaller, ongoing distributions.
  • How quickly the survey should to be distributed after the specific transaction: Teller transactions need to be sent quickly, while mortgage surveys could probably be sent within a month of the transaction.
  • Costs: On-going surveys likely incur higher operational costs (downloading contact lists, smaller distributions, smaller data compilations and more numerous reports, etc.)
  • Manpower: Ongoing surveys will take more administration hours
  • Survey methodology: Paper surveys benefit from larger distributions while online and personal telephone interviews are easier to do in small batches.

New Year, New Technology

Posted by on January 13th, 2015

KG_Blog_11515We may not be able to drive flying cars or have a robot that lives along side of us to take care of our kids, cook our meals and clean our houses, but 2015 will offer the masses several other technological advances that even the futuristic Jetsons would stand in line for (or have their counterpart robot stand in line for). We live in a digital age where a question can be answered by “Googling®” it, a lost mobile phone can be found with a downloadable app and our meal can be paid for with a click of a button. As we rely more on technologies that improve the quality of our lives, here is a preview of some innovative devices and gadgets that will continue to pave the modern road for consumers.

How many times have we, as consumers, come home from a long day of work, wishing there was a remote that not only knew what we wanted to see but also could adjust our entertainment center accordingly, set our desired house temperature and turn on the first load of laundry? With NEEO, a smart-home automation system that includes a remote for instant control, as well as a “brain” that communicates and controls all your devices, this is all possible.1

Unlike the smartphone, NEEO uses hand recognition technology to match your palm with your customer profile, which includes favorite movies, playlists, television shows and more. NEEO comes set to sync up with close to 30,000 commonly used devices, but it also has the ability to “learn” other gadgets that it doesn’t already support.2

Recent research has shown that good oral health is linked to good overall health. While good oral hygiene can keep you from suffering from gum disease, tooth decay and halitosis, it can also keep medical diseases like diabetes at bay. Breathometer has come out with a new product – Mint, which is built off the Bluetooth-powered breathalyzer, Breeze. Mint has the capability to measure breath quality by focusing on volatile sulfur compounds, and the moisture levels of the mucus membranes to detect dehydration. These numbers will help consumers track their overall health simply through their breath. This innovative technology takes a step forward in promoting health consciousness and awareness.3

Do you have big weight-loss goals for 2015, or do you struggle with back pains related to sitting for long periods of time? Humanscale OfficeIQ powered by Tome, offers a desk that informs the user when they should stand or sit and shows what the optimal height should be adjusted to.4 The desk utilizes Bluetooth chip sensors that syncs with the desk and chair and works with your computer to offer a “connected office” that allows users to be more active during their workday.

As new technologies continue to emerge, consumers can take advantage of these offerings and improve the quality of their lives. Our futuristic style of living is no longer a fictional sitcom, but the age in which we live and will only continue to get more innovative and technologically advanced.


1. http://techcrunch.com/2015/01/13/neeo-is-a-universal-smart-home-remote-that-recognizes-your-hand/?ncid=rss
2. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1227115988/neeo-the-thinking-remote
3. https://www.breathometer.com
4. http://shop.humanscale.com/landing/ces.cfm


Netflix Uses Big Data To Change Television

Posted by on January 8th, 2015

MG_Blog_1815When Netflix® appeared on the scene in 1997, it functioned mostly as a streaming service that also allowed subscribers to rent DVDs, which were then shipped to their homes. As trends and subscriber expectations changed, Netflix has become more…a content provider.

In 2011, Netflix began acquiring television programming that would only be available to its subscribers. Starting with Emmy-nominated House of Cards, Netflix reviewed the streaming behavior of its 50 million subscribers and noticed that the British version of House of Cards was well-received and those viewers also liked movies featuring Kevin Spacey or directed by David Fincher both of whom were involved with the project. This helped influenced the decision to outbid television channels like HBO and AMC for the rights to the U.S. version of the political drama, costing them $100 million. Simply put by the Chief Communications Officer at Netflix, “Through our algorithms, we determined with a high level of confidence that there would be a large audience for a show like House of Cards.1

Traditional television networks mostly have to rely on what is trending, what has worked in the past and intuition, but Netflix uses solid and reliable numbers to back up its decisions. Analysts can view everything from browsing behavior, hours spent watching per week, location, series watched from beginning to end and so on to decide which original programming to include into its streaming library. With data analysis, 70 percent of Netflix original series have been renewed for a second season compared to traditional television networks, which only see about a 30 percent success rate. House of Cards has been renewed for a third season. More so, subscriptions have increased. House of Cards brought in 2 million new subscribers in 2013 and 86 percent of current subscribers say they are less likely to cancel because of the series.1

Collecting data about its subscribers has helped Netflix to become a worldwide success and a game changer in television. Using numbers, Netflix is able to give itself the best chance at success by offering content that will give the company the biggest viewership.


1. https://blog.kissmetrics.com/how-netflix-uses-analytics/


The Myth of Evil Loan Offers

Posted by on December 18th, 2014

MFBlog_121814In 2014, I placed more focus on helping my financial institution clients use consumer credit data to extend prescreened loan offers to their account holders. While I believe offering prescreened loans is important for both my clients and their account holders, I often receive more than my share of looks of disdain from those outside the financial services industry, usually accompanied by, “Oh, so you actually spend your time trying to convince consumers to get into more debt?”

Financial institutions are never trying to persuade consumers to take on more debt than they can afford or place loans in the hands of those without sufficient ability to repay because loans are not inherently bad. In fact, banks and credit unions exist primarily to extend loans in lieu of the alternative…consumers having to borrow from a neighborhood loan shark. Truthfully, without loans, most people wouldn’t be able to afford things like a home or a car.

No reputable financial institution wants to put poor quality loans on its books or make offers to consumers who are unable to afford them. By using credit data to prescreen offers, my clients can ensure they are effectively using their marketing dollars and reaching the consumers they are most likely able to assist. While in some cases, this does mean extending a new loan to account holders for new car or home purchases. But in many other instances, the offered loan is actually helping the consumer by refinancing or consolidating existing, higher interest rate loans.

These types of loans help strengthen financial institutions’ balance sheets, making them sounder, while simultaneously helping the public reduce their debt. In fact, offers to refinance existing loans at a lower rate serve as a sanity check, almost a “second opinion,” which enables consumers to be informed about the validity of the rates they are currently paying.

Society seems to have given “loans” a negative connotation and people often fail to understand the long-term value loans can provide. But, the goal of any financial institution is to offer prescreened loans to credit-worthy consumers in hopes of helping lead them down the path to meet their financial goals.