When the loyalty expert sits down with the social media guru, everything we thought we knew about digital engagement is rebooted. Bryan Pearson, CEO of global loyalty marketing firm LoyaltyOne, interviews online authority Mitch Joel for a Q&A on how to build emotional loyalty in the digital world. Joel, bestselling author and president of leading digital marketing agency
Twist Image released his latest book, “CTRL ALT Delete,” on May 21 and Bryan Pearson’s newest book “The Loyalty Leap for B2B” will be available in early July.
Reaching consumers today may seem less a matter of human decision-making than digital science. Algorithms help us to identify consumer segments, while consumers adapt to new technologies and lifestyles faster than we can create an app for them.
The DNA of the business world has changed, some say. Fortunately, my friend Mitch Joel is the marketing geneticist who could unravel the reasons why and help us evolve beyond the change.
Joel released his latest book, “CTRL ALT Delete” on May 21. He took a little time from his busy travel schedule to talk about his upcoming book, the importance of workplace infrastructure and business purgatory.
Q: What do you mean by your book title, “CTRL ALT Delete”?
I spend a ton of time with executives from all over the world and from all business sectors, and when I talk about how they connect with consumers, there’s this uniformed chant of, “We feel like we’re still in hell.” But from my perspective of running a digital marketing agency, we’re in purgatory. Hell is when senior executives would say, “So Mitch, tell me why I need a website?” This was 15 or 20 years ago and they didn’t know if the web was a fad or not. Fast forward to today, and they’re asking, “Should I be doing mobile, should I be doing social, what should I do to bring loyalty into the mix? How do I make that all happen?” We don’t see these technologies as a fad anymore.
So in my brain, “CTRL ALT Delete” was a euphemism to reboot – to think differently about business and how to adapt to the fundamental shifts that have already occurred.
Q: In the book, you describe a brand’s presence in social media as an intrusion. How can a brand use Facebook or other social platform to create genuine loyalty?
The reason I speak of it as an intrusion is because brands didn’t initially see social media as an opportunity to connect with real human beings. They were dragged into it kicking and screaming because people were complaining about the brand, and so the brands had to react. Brands still struggle with how to engage. But the simple reality is that the average person on Facebook has, I think, 200 connections. If you’re under 18 it’s closer to 500. That’s a tight social unit. So how do you penetrate that? You have to create something that is going to be of value, and you have to create utility with features that indirectly connect the consumer to the brand. It has to be something people can use or you just contribute to fatigue.
Q: All of these forms of existence – digital and physical – can result in brand saturation. Do you have any examples of brands using a digital presence to ensure loyalty instead of add to the noise?
One of my favorite examples is an app called “SitOrSquat.” Turn the app on anywhere in the world and it will show you where to find a clean bathroom. You can rate the bathrooms, comment on them, add a bathroom, or request that a bathroom be removed. You could even find out if a bathroom has a changing table. And it’s all brought to you by Charmin, the toilet paper company owned by Procter & Gamble. So now when I go strolling through the aisle at Walmart, instead of tipping a 32-roll, $9.99 package of any toiler paper into my shopping cart, I’ve become a Charmin evangelist. And the best thing is the app doesn’t displace traditional advertising or coupons; it adds to the utility. And these types of utilities actually transcend the digital realm to enter the physical world.
Q: Your book is divided into two areas, with one focusing on rebooting the organization and the second on rebooting the individual. Tell me about the latter.
“CTRL ALT Delete” addresses five massive movements that have changed everything we know about business. The reason I wrote the second part of the book, called “Reboot: You,” is because regardless of these fundamental changes, we need to examine how we react as individuals. I am hiring people for jobs that didn’t even exist when I started this business. Imagine what the disruption of these movements means going forward. We’re going to be creating new industries, new opportunities. At the core of that we have to figure out how we – as employees, as employers, as entrepreneurs – operate in that dynamic environment.
Q: If you could narrow the “must-do” list to three, what steps would you advise organizations to take in order to become digitally effective?
First, create spaces that encourage multidisciplinary collaboration. You might have a front-end developer who has a really good, strategic mind. By limiting him to front-end development you aren’t using his whole brain. You want an environment that reveals what is happening in other departments. Conversely, there are introverts, people who need areas to work and think as well. So you need to create physical spaces that accommodate both types of workers.
Two, I think vision comes from the top. The evangelists are everywhere, so we have to empower our teams to understand the social media guidelines and what is expected in the public space. We hear about the negative instances, but the best stories are actually the positive ones, when workers know what they can and should do to make the business better.
Third, embrace people who bring professional diversification to the business. We use to look at a resume and think, “Wow, this person jumps around a lot.” But if I see they jump a lot because they’ve had a good beginning, middle and end, then I’m all for it. It’s fanciful to think that we’re going to get the gold watch after sitting in the same job for 40 years.
These three steps break the dogma a little, but we live in very different times.
Q: Mitch, what is your motto today?
In a nutshell: test small. We tend to think of business as requiring bigger moves. But testing small things every day will lead you to the bigger opportunities. And it will result in a better customer experience.