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Companies large and small are being disrupted by digitally-powered competition. As UBER runs over taxi companies, Lose It steals share points from Weight Watchers, and Amazon eats into the profits of grocery chains and other retail giants (nom nom nom).

All because the cost to compete has gone down. For everyone.

In Jame’s McQuivey’s must-read Digital Disruption, you’ll learn:digital-disruption-book-3d-200x243

  • How free and low-cost digital tools let individuals (not just companies!) build new products and services, get feedback, and iterate business models, faster.
  • How access to digital platforms like Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Google let these businesses scale, cheaper.
  • And how the growing number of digital consumers has changed the game for brand marketers and innovation teams.

McQuivey explores what makes disruptors different. A few selections:

  • Disruptors innovate the “adjacent possible.” In other words, they look outside the current product experience (and business capability) in order to focus on what the consumer needs next.
  • Disruptors think through the total product experience and put the consumer first.
  • Disruptors remake their company’s culture (and way of working) to drive change.

Great for the C-Suite, marketers and corporate innovation teams. Download a couple chapters free, here:

In her new book, The Engaged Leader: A Strategy for Your Digital Transformation, Charlene Li provides leaders with skills and confidence they need to transform their leadership and their organizations.

She lays out a simple framework and road map that leaders of any level can adopt.engagedleader_border

In one example of engagement, the CEO of a large telecom solicits input on his company’s internal social network (Yammer): “What processes and technologies should we eliminate? We will either fix it or explain why it exists.”

98 pages, $17.99.

Google Express, the same-day shopping service, just rolled out in my area (Washington, D.C.), so I decided to give it a trial run.

The user experience is simple and clean. You’ll need a Google Wallet account which requires a quick registration. Delivery is free on orders over fifteen bucks if you commit to a $10 monthly or $95 yearly subscription fee.

I placed an order for toothpaste and mouthwash at 11am and WHAMMY: it arrived on my doorstep by 4:15, via Google Express-branded delivery car and pleasant delivery dude.


Retailers vary by region, and inventory can be limited for speciality items, but they’ve got most of the bases covered in DC:  grocery, drug, babies, books, sports, office supplies, and one oddball: guitars.

The takeaway for CPG brands? Services like Google Express, Amazon Prime, Peapod and others are changing the way people shop in a significant way. And they’re making it easier to justify your investment in eCommerce (since Google Express is sourcing from the same retailers you already partner with).

Same-day service also challenges the conventional shopper marketer’s wisdom that eCommerce is irrelevant for so-called “mission trips” (for products that are needed right away). And once these services start to layer on alerts for profile-based offers and one-click ordering, the barriers will really start to fall away for the average consumer.

In the past, I was always reluctant to buy low-interest  household items like toothpaste online. With same-day service, it’s one less stop to make on my way home from work, and probably saves me 15 minutes. Which at the end of a workday is all that matters.

Smarter, faster brands today are looking at the mix through a new lens:  the customer (or user) experience. Because the ability to continuously engage consumers to build brands, drive sales and increase customer loyalty requires a new mindset. And better content to satisfy that experience.

The velocity at which consumers move through the purchase path is faster today than it used to be.  That’s why mapping the customer’s journey—across all media touch points (paid, owned and earned)—is so critical. Defining a clear role for each communication at each stage of the journey will help guide companies (and their agencies) on tactics and connections that move consumers closer to desired outcomes.

Brands today are increasingly content driven. The brand itself is content. Big brand ideas still connect with consumers at an emotional level, but at the heart of brand activation today is content. Content that meets their emotional and rational needs. Content that creates utility and meaning. It may be created, curated or sponsored by the brand, or perhaps generated by consumer.

Hello, brand marketing? Meet brand publishing.

Great content marketing requires the proper attitude, vision and strategy. Your compass is still your customer but their attention is the new currency. There is no completion date for content, especially in the age of the connected consumer. Above is a tool to help you get organized.

With fragmentation comes complexity. And with complexity comes an appreciable amount of misguided perspective, including sweeping statements about tactics and technologies that derail smart approaches in digital marketing.

The decision to use or not use responsive design is one of the more recent debates where the facts are getting swept under the rug. So we wanted to bring some clarity to how brands should approach this important choice.


Quick refresh:

Responsive Web Design (RWD) is a web design approach aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience across a wide range of devices (from smartphones to tablets to desktops). A site with RWD adapts the layout to the viewing environment by using fluid, proportion-based grids, flexible images, and CSS3.

Thanks Wikipedia! In short, your site’s design—and it’s content—responds to the user’s device.

SEO & Responsive Design: Perception

Here’s a sampling of what we’ve heard in clients’ hallways and some industry conferences:

  • “Google prioritizes sites that have responsive design.”
  • “Your site will not be found in Google unless it’s responsive.”

SEO & Responsive Design:  Reality

This is not true. (more…)

Successful brand connections today are social by design. They often start with a platform, or ecosystem of platforms, in mind. They have great content ideas at the core, not just a singular idea or “key visual.” Sure, relevance is key (duh), but they’re also nimble, integrated and highly measurable at the outset. Oh, and supported with paid media to give it scale.

Still, brand leaders (in all categories) hesitate to go all in. Some are fearful, others still revert back on the myriad myths associated with “social.” Time to bust those myths for good:


MYTH: Social media is only for brand advocacy

FACT: Social enables relevant connections at every stage of the consumer journey (and KPIs are different for each social marketing activity!).

MYTH: Social is for millennials

FACT: Nearly all adults, regardless of age, affluence or race is engaged in one or more social platforms. Incidentally, Facebook is losing the interest of millennials, as social media participation increases elsewhere across all demos. (more…)

The Business Case for Mobile First

For consumers, a mobile device is increasingly the “first screen.” It’s the the first media powered-up in the morning and the last shut down before bed. And for 91% of smartphone owners, their device is within a 3-foot reach 24 hours a day.

2013 signals a sea change in digital: more people will access the internet through a mobile device this year than through a PC. For more background, read Forrester’s 2013 Mobile Trends for Marketers.

What’s Your Brand’s Mobile Competency?

Mobile enables consumer connections at home, in the store, and on the go. Plus, it offers opportunities for deeper engagement by harnessing location, social media and the personal creativity of your consumer.

There is no perfect formula for selecting mobile channels. But you can chart your course by answering these questions, which will help you frame an approach to mobile that maps to business objectives and consumer behaviors.


Ready to get started? Answer these 10 critical questions after the jump.


The ability to deliver savings in the store via mobile is a game changer. It collapses the purchase funnel for new users. It combats showrooming. And it can drive retailer loyalty.

But despite the fact that forty million Americans will use mobile coupons in 2013 (eMarketer), redemption still remains an issue at the store level. Those clunky red line scanners at most cash registers today just aren’t equipped (yet) to accept mobile saving. If airlines can figure it out, why can’t fast moving consumer goods retailers? Cmon! mobile_coupon

In January, the Mobile Marketing Association unveiled its “Current State & Promise of Mobile Couponing” which reviews the advantages and challenges of savings by smartphone. You can download their POV here to find some helpful case studies, but you’ll also be disappointed to learn that even the MMA hasn’t landed on a perfect solution for CPG brands. Print FSIs are still king, accounting for 88% of the distribution universe and leads all coupon channel redemption at 43%.

Coupon giants like Coupons.com require people to download their Grocery IQ app. A nice attempt, but penetration is low (surprising since so many have downloaded their desktop print driver for digital coupons).

In short, we’re not there yet.

In our view, CPG brands should work at the retailer level to promote and distribute mobile coupons. Restaurant and retail brands have a little more control and can promote through branded apps, show-and-save, or through email.

Simply put, the Internet of Things (IoT) connects physical things to a network. It’s the fusion of the digital and physical worlds.

Soon, consumers will want everyday objects connected to support their hyper-connected lifestyle. That’s why so many manufacturers are inventing ways to add value to physical products by connecting them to the web.

There’s evidence of rapid adoption all around us. Nike’s Fuel Band proves that consumers are ready for it. As is interest in wearable media like Google Glass. In addition, tech giants like Cisco and Salesforce have put their best and brightest talent on IoT. And nearly every buzzworthy digital marketing campaign of the past year featured a “physical to digital” connection.

Internet of Things represents a third significant shift in the digital landscape for which marketers MUST prepare. First everything was social. Today it’s all going mobile. And soon, everything will be connected.



In The Power of Habit, New York Times writer Charles Duhigg reveals a fundamental truth: “When a habit emerges, the brain stops fully participating in decision making…so unless you fight a habit–unless you find new routines–the pattern will unfold automatically.”

Such is still the challenge for so many brands today with their digital marketing investment. Planning a year’s worth of media and creative follows a comfortable pattern of brief-to-boards (traditional TV, that is) in lieu of integrated planning across paid, owned, earned and shared media. All because of the ingrained habits of agencies and marketers alike–whose brains have shut down and fallen back on what’s familiar.

To be sure, old habits die hard. Whether it’s smoking cigarettes, or biting your nails, or visiting the freezer each night for a bowl of ice cream. Brand planning is no different. To change these habits, we must become more self-aware and understand the three phases of Duhigg’s habit loop:

Cue: the trigger that tells your brain to go on auto-pilot
Routine: the actions you take
Reward: the satisfaction that results after a routine is completed

the-habit-loop2Apply this model to traditional brand planning, and you get something like this:

Cue: “Time to plan for 2013.”
Routine: Consumer Insight. Brief. TV Boards. Bolt on everything else.
Reward: Job security. Business as usual.


This planning habit is the root cause of why so much digital marketing today is uninspired–and worse–fails to move the needle. Brands struggle to do better by their digital investment and still deliver on their financial goals under this routine.

To effect real change, marketers must form a new planning habit to replace the old one. They must demonstrate leadership and have the willpower to deliberately fight this habit. They must find a new routine before the same pattern unfolds again, and challenge their partners to work differently. For example:

Cue: “Time to plan for 2013.”
Routine: Consumer insight. Brief. Integrated planning. Integrated activation
Reward: A big idea that connects across the connected media landscape


You have the power to change old habits! Resolve to start a new routine!  Take your brief and bring your channel partners together to develop integrated programs that engage consumers across the connected media landscape.

Hurry, before the TV boards show up.

Originally published in iMediaConnection:

Shaun Quigley is VP, Digital Practice Director for Brunner. Follow him @squigster.

Illustration style courtesy charlesduhigg.com