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A few weeks ago, I was the opening keynote speaker in Las Vegas for the 2014 Multi-Unit Restaurant Technology Conference (MURTEC). In the room were folks responsible for the technology investments of a vast number of major fast-casual and quick-service restaurant companies.

Murtech2014 The attendee list featured some of the largest such organizations in the world, as well as many of the new, young upstarts which are challenging existing business models, changing methods of customer interaction, and providing more menu options and choice.

I was brought in by Hospitality Technology Magazine, which is part of the Edgell Communications Group. This was the fourth booking of me for a keynote by the latter organization — I guess they like my message! It’s always fun to have a great client like that.

Hospitality Technology Magazine just ran this wrap-up summary with some observations on my talk:

HT just wrapped up the Multi-Unit Restaurant Technology Conference (MURTEC) in March and, after moving through recovery phases one and two, I had a chance to reflect. The first thing to report is that technology showed up — big — for the foodservice industry. For those of you who keep hearing HT and other commentators talk about the importance of the CIO-CMO alliance; about the need to shift IT into a business mindset; and about the required transition to a more digitally-focused operation, my first major observation from MURTEC is that you hear us, and you’re in. This was the most high-energy, open-minded, marketing-savvy group of restaurant technology executives who have ever been a part of MURTEC.

Change is coming rapidly, and it won’t be possible to fully vet every IT roll-out as you’ve done in the past. As keynote speaker Jim Carroll stressed, you need to be able to think big, start small, and scale fast. Carroll delivered some of the best one-liners of the conference. Somewhere in between likening mobile payment to teenage sex (because no one’s really doing it as much as they say they are; and those who are, aren’t very good at it), and predicting that by 2017 we’ll be processing payments from our car dashboards, Carroll offered up this: 60% of Apple’s revenue today comes from products that didn’t exist four years ago.

Would you be prepared to be in that position four years from now?

That’s just a glimpse of what I covered in my keynote. Why not, for example, aerial drone delivery of fast food? Is that too farfetched? Maybe not.

But more seriously, think about what the restaurant sector has been faced with in the last year.

It’s been the year of the restaurant tablet, with at-table or wait-line ordering options. The rapid emergence of hidden-menus, as a unique method of building customer loyalty. The entire sector is under challenge with innovation — with faster prep-time and  two minute pizzas by Chipolte’s setting the pace. In some fast casual restaurants, we are suddenly seeing Go-Pro’s in the kitchen and food as a spectator sport! Then there is the whole reservation process, with immediate-customer-demand coming to the forefront with apps like GrubHub, Seamless, DrinkOwl, NoWait!

There are faster influencers too that lead to the more rapid emergence of new taste trends. Flavours now move from upscale kitchens to chain restaurants to grocery home-cooked meals, in 12 months, compared to 36 months 5 years ago…..  consumers are snacking more frequently, now making up 24% of all “meals,” and so restaurants have to come up with new ideas faster, particularly because snacks are like a fashion category. Food trucks lead to new competition, business model disruption and exotic new taste trends that QSR’s and fast-casuals must keep up with…..

And then there is the impact of mobile. Suffice it to say, we are going to witness more change in this sector because of mobile than anything other technology of the last 50 years. There are big changes underway in  terms of customer ordering, loyalty, payment, up-sell opportunities …..

Just three days ago, I did another session in this space for the Canadian division of one of the largest QSR’s in the world — a one hour keynote and a two hour workshop that helped the organization and it’s franchisees understand the unique and fast paced challenges in this space. Top of list and top of mind? Mobile and POS.

I spend a lot of time in this sector, having keynoted the global Burger King Franchise conference, an annual meeting of the top leadership of Yum! Brands, and countless other restaurant and franchise groups. There’t no time for complacency, and an organization certainly cannot rest on it’s laurels….

 

 

I’m covered in the January / February issue of an Australian publication, Think and Grow Rich. It’s oriented toward franchise operations. Enjoy!

 The Power of One
from Think and Growth Rich
January/February 2014

TGR14_CurrentIssue

Notes Jim Carroll: ” look around and I just see a countless number of methods by which a franchisee can run the business better, grow and transform their business. And that’s what innovation is all about!”

Despite a small slump in figures during the Global Financial Crisis, franchising has come out of the mire relatively unscathed and in fact the numbers for franchisors and their franchisees are looking very healthy. TGR looks at what the franchise sector can expect as we embed ourselves in the 21st century.

Many top companies, from Disney to Visa, have hired futurist Jim Carroll to speak about his views on the future. So it is interesting to hear his views about franchising. He told Multi-unit Franchisee, “There’s nothing to fear really, if you view future trends as being full of opportunities rather than as a threat. I find that many of my clients think about future trends and think, ‘Oh, this can’t be good, it’s going to be pretty difficult to deal with.’ The first step with getting into an innovative frame of mind is to think of every trend as an opportunity, not a threat.

“So let’s think about a few of them. Consider social networks; there are huge impacts on how consumers perceive, interact and provide feedback on brands. Obviously, if you don’t pay attention to the trend, it can turn into a big negative for you. But if you get involved, engage the new consumer, and continually experiment with new ways of taking advantage of this new form of interaction, then you are doing the right thing.”

Carroll went on to say that to be successful you must keep up-to-date with current trends.

“There are just so many opportunities to grow the business. We’ve got all kinds of new location-intelligence oriented opportunities – people walking around with mobile devices that have GPS capabilities built in. Think about instant couponing apps that might encourage customers to drop in and purchase something. There are new methods of getting the brand image out there; we’ve seen so many franchise groups with successful viral videos. For restaurant franchisees, there’s the rapid emergence of the new health-conscious consumer and opportunities to reshape the menu to take advantage of that. I look around and I just see a countless number of methods by which a franchisee can run the business better, grow and transform their business. And that’s what innovation is all about!”

In Australia, the outlook is just as optimistic and there are many entrepreneurial franchisors taking this kind of innovative approach that would make Carroll proud. For instance, the Franchise Food Company led by Stan Gordon launched its Gives Back campaign in August 2013. The initiative hopes to help a number of local community groups and initiatives by donating a total of $10,000 to a variety of causes over the next 12 months.

Gordon says the program will provide much-needed support to charities and community initiatives, to help many Australians who have been met with adverse circumstances or might be doing it tough.

“Cold Rock is all about giving people a reason to smile. The campaign is for anyone and everyone who’s working hard to make a difference in their community; whether you’re supporting a local sporting team, raising money for serious illnesses or fighting to save a historic landmark, we want to hear from you so we can help you along the way.”

The unique and inclusive initiative, housed on the Official Cold Rock Ice Creamery Facebook page, offers charities and community groups four opportunities to receive a one-off donation of up to $2,500.

Community groups and individuals are asked to submit an application detailing why they need a helping hand via the Gives Back Facebook Application.

Running over the coming 12 months, Cold Rock hopes to assist a variety of organisations with meaningful donations and build on the strong history of giving that Stan Gordon and Cold Rock has developed through years of community involvement.

It’s a unique use of social media and a great marketing tool, as well as a community initiative.

Meanwhile, the FFC continues to acquire strong franchise brands. The company’s latest acquisition is the iconic Trampoline brand, which fits nicely into the treats niche along with Mr Whippy, Cold Rock, Nut Shack and Pretzel World. FFC is unique, but like any franchise business, systems are crucial and will remain so, no matter how many years we move forward.

Pacific Retail Management is one of the largest franchise companies in Australia, with ownership of Go Sushi, Wasabi Warriors and Kick Juice Bars.

Part of its success is its systems management. Julia Boyd is the project and marketing coordinator. She says, “Pacific Retail has implemented strong operational systems to assist their franchise partners at every stage of training. Travelling operational team members continue to visit all national stores throughout the year and stay for up to a week or more to assist the business. They help to improve sales and are heavily involved with the franchise partners and any issues they may have.

“Support can also come from fellow franchisees in the group who are experiencing the same things and working towards the same goals. When franchisees work together towards a common goal, you can achieve great success and a cohesive team.

“Being part of a franchise network also means assistance and guidance from industry experts with the set-up of the business. This can include help with site selection and brokering of the lease with the landlord; financing through franchisors relationship with lenders and major banks; expedited process from initiation of agreement to store opening; and ultimately the sale of the store including finding a buyer.”

Of course franchising won’t be for everyone. With the advent of social media and vast new ways to reach clientele, the model will become easier to manage and far more sustainable. However there remains a lack of independence.

“Some prospective business owners are put off franchise networks and prefer to remain independent to avoid such established systems with little room for individual creativity, having to adhere to the operating systems in place and the initial payouts including franchise fees and training and marketing launch costs,” Boyd says…


Excerpted from an article originally published in the February/March 2014 issue of Think & Grow Rich Inc. magazine. You can access the Web

 

Franchise

I found this recently from a keynote two years back….

Future Trends: Futurist, Trends, and Innovation Expert to Keynote Multi-Unit Conference

Jim Carroll loves to predict where the world is going. As such, he has become one of the world’s leading international futurists, trends, and innovation experts. His analysis digs deep into topics such as technology, business model change, fast paced innovation, and global challenges and growth. He’s been in demand with such clients as Northrop Grumman, Visa, Rockwell Collins, Lincoln Financial, and the Walt Disney organization. He was featured as an innovation expert on the global CNBC show, the Business of Innovation, and was named one of four leading sources for insight into innovation by Business Week magazine.

Jim Carroll loves to predict where the world is going. As such, he has become one of the world’s leading international futurists, trends, and innovation experts. His analysis digs deep into topics such as technology, business model change, fast paced innovation, and global challenges and growth. He’s been in demand with such clients as Northrop Grumman, Visa, Rockwell Collins, Lincoln Financial, and the Walt Disney organization. He was featured as an innovation expert on the global CNBC show, the Business of Innovation, and was named one of four leading sources for insight into innovation by Business Week magazine.

He’ll be bringing his latest insight to the Multi-Unit Franchising Conference this April at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas where he’ll be a keynote speaker.

We had the opportunity to sit down with Carroll and posed some franchise-specific questions. Here’s what he shared with us.

In terms of the future, what do multi-unit franchisees have to fear?

Well, there’s nothing to fear really, if you view future trends as being full of opportunities rather than as a threat. I find that many of my clients think about future trends and think, “oh, this can’t be good, it’s going to be pretty difficult to deal with.” The first step with getting into an innovative frame of mind is to think of every trend as an opportunity, not a threat.

So let’s think about a few of them. Consider social networks, there are huge impacts on how consumers perceive, interact, and provide feedback on brands. Obviously, if you don’t pay attention to the trend, it can turn into a big negative for you.

But if you get involved, engage the new consumer, and continually experiment with new ways of taking advantage of this new form of interaction, then you are doing the right thing.

What kinds of things do multi-unit franchisees have to look forward to?

Oh, there are just so many opportunities to grow the business. We’ve got all kind of new location-intelligence oriented opportunities – people walking around with mobile devices that have GPS capabilities built in. Think about instant couponing apps that might encourage customers to drop in and purchase something. There are new methods of getting the brand image out there – we’ve seen so many franchise groups with successful viral videos. For restaurant franchisees, there’s the rapid emergence of the new health-conscious consumer and opportunities to reshape the menu to take advantage of that. I look around and I just see a countless number of methods by which a franchisee can run the business better, grow, and transform their business. And that’s what innovation is all about!

What kinds of things do multi-unit franchisees need to be doing in their businesses right now?

Investing in experiential capital. Look, there’s so much new stuff happening out there, and markets are changing so quickly, that the only way to get ahead is to try out a lot of new ideas. In a world in which Apple generates 60 percent of its revenue from products that didn’t exist four years ago, it’s critically important that an organization constantly enhance the skill, capabilities, and insight of their people. They do this by constantly working on projects that might have an uncertain return and payback – but which will provide in-depth experience and insight into change. It’s by understanding change that opportunity is defined, and that’s what experiential capital happens to be. In the future, it will be one of the most important assets you can possess.

What kinds of things should multi-unit franchisees stop doing?

Making excuses. Look, it’s all too easy to avoid the future and not do the tough things. Stop using what I call the “innovation killers,” phrases like:

  • “We’ve always done it this way”
  • “It won’t work”
  • “That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard”
  • “That’s not my problem”
  • “You can’t do that”
  • “I don’t know how”
  • “I don’t think I can”
  • “I didn’t know that”
  • “The boss won’t go for it”
  • “Why should I care?”

What can multi-unit franchisees do better right now and how?

Change their attitude to try new things. Innovation is critical. Innovative companies act differently.

In these organizations ideas flow freely throughout, subversion is a virtue and success and failure are championed. There are many, many leaders who encourage innovative thinking, rather than managers who run a bureaucracy. There are creative champions throughout the organization – people who thrive on thinking about how to do things differently. Ideas get approval and endorsement rather than stating “it can’t be done,” people ask, “how could we do this?”

People know that in addition to R&D, innovation is also about ideas to “run the business better, grow the business, and transform the business.” The word “innovation” is found in most job descriptions as a primary area of responsibility, and a percentage of annual remuneration is based upon achievement of explicitly defined innovation goals The fact is, every organization should be able to develop innovation as a core virtue — if they aren’t, they certainly won’t survive the rapid rate of change that envelopes us today.

It’s been a whirlwind of activity over the last two months, with about 20 major keynotes under my belt.

One of these was a corporate event for a food company with $7 billion in revenue and 24,000 employees ; my talk was on the key food industry trends of today that should be driving innovation from a marketing, product development and branding perspective.

Jim Carroll on stage at the Readers Digest Food and Entertainment Group Summit, in front of several hundred food and consumer product executives, advertising agencies, grocery and retail organizations and publishers of the world's most popular food magazines, speaking to the trends driving the food industry today, .

This is one of many events I do for food and consumer product clients – my global client list includes high profile keynotes or leadership meetings for the Readers Digest Food & Entertainment Division (the publisher of such innovative magazines as Everyday with Rachel Ray), the Produce Marketing Association Annual Fresh Summit, HJ Heinz, Nestle , FMC FoodTechnologies, Burger King, Yum! Brands and many more.

I was the keynote speaker for a meeting of their top 250 marketing executives; my mandate was to focus on how to innovate around the trends that are today impacting the food industry today, with a particular focus on consumer behaviour.

Below are a few of the many trends that I spoke about. I took on an extensive amount of research for this keynote, which is typical of how I approach these events.

In effect, I built my keynote around the theme “….these are the trends that will drive your brands……”, and from that, they could best learn how to change and innovate with their branding and marketing message.

1. Biggest trend: We are witnessing a changing relationship with food

My main observation is that we live in a period of time that sees consumers interacting with food, the purchasing of food, and the consumption of food in new and different ways.

An article, Observer Food Monthly in the Guardian Newspaper, 15 May 2011 caught this sentiment perfectly:

  • “… never before has our culture been so engaged in discussing and experimenting with and agonizing over and fantasizing about and plain enjoying what is on the end of our forks”

Consider what is happening:

  • we have a new form of interaction when purchasing food. Consider the number of iPhone apps by which we can research calorie counts, nutrition facts and other information while in the grocery store.
  • we have new influencers in how we make these in-store food decisions. Think about the Monterrey Aquarium Seafood Watch iPhone app, which will give you background that can help you with your ethical food decisions.
  • a change in how we manage our food intake. iPhone and Web sites apps such as Lose It, which allow us to track our food consumption on a calorie-by-calorie, product by product basis.
  • a change in food packaging: ““…..interactive packaging, intelligent and active packaging, multi-sensory packaging, edible packaging … packaging as mini-billboards…” as noted by the research firm Reportlinker. Paackaging is going from passive to active, and is becoming more than just the vehicle for branding – increasingly, it is defining our relationship with the food.
  • a change in our food relationships. Consider the impact of food traceability based on DNA. “Tonning’s restaurant is among more than 11,000 that Richmond-based food distributor Performance Food Group is supplying with DNA-traceable beef as an added value for customers of its premium Braveheart brand. The company, which has annual revenues of about $11 billion, said it is among the first distributors to use the technology.” Where’s the beef, Iowa Press Citizen, May 2011
  • A more direct involvement with the ethics of food. “Wal-Mart, which sells more than 20 per cent of all US groceries, is developing an eco-labelling program that will give a green rating to all items sold in its 7500 stores worldwide.” Unlikely alliance, Sydney Morning Herald, February 2011
  • and very significant transitional trends. Whole grains are the hottest trend in sliced bread, with whole wheat edging out soft white bread in total sales for the first time……… The whole-grain craze has, after all, raised the bar on what consumers are willing to pay for bread that’s perceived as healthy…..” Grains gain ground; Focus on healthy eating helps wheat surpass white in sliced bread sales 1 August 2010, Chicago Tribune

All in all, these are pretty significant, systemic, long term transformative trends that will have a major impact through the next 5-10 years. Smart food companies will recognize that the very nature of our relationship with food is changing and will innovative around that reality. Massive opportunities for innovative thinking exist here!

2. A need to respond to faster consumer preference/taste change

I’ve long been pointing out that consumer preference is changing faster when it comes to food, and that leads to the rapid emergence of new opportunity, or the rapid decline of existing product lines. A few of my observations:

  • behavioural change and food as fashion! Fresh-cut snack food grew from $6.8 billion in to $10.5 billion in one year. Notes one publication: “Snacks are like a fashion category…..People want a change. it’s going to be short-lived–maybe a quarter, maybe six months, then changed out” Private Label Buyer, May 2010.
  • We spend more of our day with our food – it’s not just breakfast, lunch and dinner anymore. Canadian consumers are snacking more frequently. Snacks were 24% of all “meals” consumed by 2010. Fruit leads in the category, and healthy snacks are driving growth – the top 7 snacks include yogurt and granola bars.
  • Food categories can explode in growth over night. US Greek Yogurt sales grew from $33million in 2007 to $469 million today!

The key point with all of these trends is that it reflects our busy, compressed lives — smart food companies will continue to learn how to innovate within that reality with new products, aligning themselves to health concerns, and other trends.

3. The impact of business model change and social networks on food and taste trends

Business model change with pop-up restaurants drives the more rapid emergence of new exotic tastes and flavors!

Clearly, massive connectivity is coming to influence the growth of new foods, brands, tastes, patterns.

I spoke, for example, how bacon has quickly become so trendy as something used to enhance countless recipes. It can be traced right back to an effective social networking campaign.

  • “If there’s one food trend that illustrates how top-down and grassroots phenomena combine it might be bacon….. in southern California about six years ago, Rocco Loosbrock paired peppered bacon with Syrah wine at a tasting….”swine and wine…..!” The mysteries of food trends: How bacon got its sizzle, Associated Press Newswires, March 2011
Social networks are also lining up with a change in business models in the restaurant sector, which helps to drive faster change in consumer taste trends…..
  • In the last few years, we’ve seen an explosion in the number of pop-up restaurants and “Eat St” food – street food!
  • what is happening here is a lower barrier to entry in terms of new restaurant start up cost — more people can get out and start out a restaurant as “street food”, and experiment with new, bold, and exotic tastes and flavors
  • there’s also a very big trend underway that links restaurants and markets together in one location. Go to the restaurant, like the food and want to cook it at home next time? Visit the market in the same building, and buy the exact ingredients for that exact recipe. We call these Resto 2.0′s : for example, Murray’s Market in Ottawa, based on locally farmed food, “….sells cheeses, meats, produce and house-made foodstuffs, providing customers with many of the same raw ingredients they use as their restaurant next door.” Globe & Mail, June 1, 2011
  • all of these trends involve a new breed of restaurateur / entrepreneur;  they’ve learned to link these efforts with very effective social network campaigns. The result is that we now have even faster emergence of new taste trends. Smart food companies will learn how to innovate around the sheer velocity of what is occurring here – ‘faster is the new fast!’

My key point? Innovation is all about time to market … and the brand message needs to match the new speed metric…

4. A new consumer volatility

Back in 2009, I keynote global events for both Burger King and Yum! Brands. One of the major points in both keynotes was the consumer and public health concerns would come to drive more of a focus on a healthier diet; hence, the need for more aggressive innovation around a balanced menu that offered up more healthier choices.

Since then, looking back, it looks like one chain took the message to heart, and the other didn’t. Can you guess which ones?

What’s happened since then? Restaurant chains — and by extension, food companies — are discovering that consumer activity has become very volatile. They might talk of the need to go out and eat healthier, but then go out and continue to buy big, fat juicy cheeseburgers.

But then the news continues to hammer home the cold realities of North American food lifestyles, and the impact of childhood obesity.

  • over the past 30 years, childhood obesity rates in North America have tripled
  • 1 in 3 children are overweight or obese
  • 1/3 of all children born in 2000 or later will suffer from diabetes at some point in their lives
  • many others will face chronic obesity-related health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and asthma

Add to that new messages from Michelle Obama, Jamie Kennedy and other influencers around this debate — and all of a sudden, behaviour begins to change faster than people expect. Consider comments in the article Dining chains shape up menus ;Customers place low-cal orders now, 13 April 2011, USA Today

  • :Something odd is afoot in restaurants where Americans have typically gone to gorge: healthier grub. This nutritional U-turn is taking place at some of the unlikeliest of eateries, including Denny’s, IHOP, Friendly’s, Sizzler and even at the nation’s biggest casual dining chain, Applebee’s, where the numbers are eye-popping.
  • “For the first two months of 2011, the top-selling entree at Applebee’s wasn’t a gloppy burger or flashy fajita plate. It was a sirloin and shrimp entree from the chain’s diet menu. This marks the first time that a low-calorie item ever ranked as the chain’s best seller for a single month — let alone two in a row.
  • “I’ve been in the restaurant business for 30 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this,” says Mike Archer, president of Applebee’s.
  • “When Applebee’s launched the under-550-calorie menu in 2010, it didn’t immediately take off, says Archer. But after some tweaks, it caught fire early this year. It now accounts for up to 8% of sales”

8 percent of sales! For healthy options! The key innovation opportunity is to keep innovating with food and taste trends around trends such as health, local, regional. The consumer is volatile, and will change faster than ever before.

Key marketing and branding innovation points?

  • consumer behaviour is now more unpredictable than ever before!
  • sudden, dramatic shifts driven by sudden external influences or other pressures are the new reality
  • it’s easy to abandon marketing momentum / commitment due to slowness of trend (i.e. healthy lifestyle – consumers say one thing, and do another!)
  • yet success from ability to quickly rejig marketing message based on trend spikes – speed matters!

And  so branding innovation is … sticking to the message behind the key trends, even if the trends unfold at a curious and unpredictable pace….

I spoke about many other trends within the keynote, particularly the impact of mobile marketing and moving into hyper-nice marketing. I’ll cover more of that later.

This is typical of the type of unique research I often do for a keynote. If you are interested in bringing me in to a leadership meeting at your corporate organization, feel free to give me a call!

I’m in Las Vegas Thursday, as a keynote speaker fo rhte Multi-Unit Franchising Conference at the Venetian.

"Time to market and corporate agility are the new capabilities to focus on"

I’ll be speaking to  a wide variety of consumer, technology, demographic and other trends as they impact franchise operations.

Multi-Unit Franchise Magazine just ran a small article in which I comment on some of these trends.

This should be a great crowd and fun audience – it’s a very entrepreneurial group, with a lot of success under their belts. But they live in interesting times — cost inflation perhaps being the biggest challenge they are faced with.

Not to forget the impact of mobile technology – a good portion of the folks in the room are going to be in the restaurant end of the franchise industry, and they are being impacted extremely quickly by mobile coupons, and other location intelligence technologies. Online ordering via mobile devices is a tidal wave of change coming into the industry at a furious pace. Then there’s faster evolution of consumer taste trends.

Whatever the case may be, there’s a lot of change going on, and plenty of opportunity for innovation. This event comes after I had keynoted the global Burger King franchise conference for about 5,000 people in Vegas, and a keynote for the global leadership team for Yum! Brands (KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut) on the same themes — which also led to a keynote for VIBE 2010 (Very Important Beverage Executives), the individuals who run the refreshment end of things in chain restaurants. Lots going on in Vegas!

Tracking the Future

Jim Carroll keeps his finger on the pulse of the world around him and particularly, the future. He is, after all, a futurist who identifies business and cultural trends ranging from technology and business model change, to innovation, global challenges, and growth. Carroll’s list of
clients includes Northrop Grumman, Visa, Rockwell Collins, Lincoln Financial, and the Walt Disney organization.

Prior to his speaking at the Multi-Unit Franchising Conference in April, we asked Carroll for his take on the ever-evolving consumer, technology, and the franchise business marketplace. He outlined five key – and critical – areas for multi-unit franchisees to be aware of when considering new brands and concepts to add to their portfolio.

Paying Attention. Consumers today face more stimuli around them than at any previous time in history – computers, Internet, cell phone, video games, etc. He says today’s interactive world demands that franchisees to be engaged in all mediums. “Marketers must work harder than ever to capture the attention of the consumer and make a connection. Brands must keep up with the pace of consumer change in order to stay relevant,” says Carroll.

Changing Family Dynamics. There’s a new definition of family in America and it’s no longer nuclear. Successful franchise brands must acknowledge and respond to this reality. “Hyper-nicheing is the new brand reality as the market becomes more specialized and fragmented. Marketers can no longer rely on preconceived segmentation strategies, but rather need to think differently about who they are trying to reach and how to reach them.”

Under the Influence. Celebrities and peers are influencing consumers more than ever. These peers are sought out for advice and brand recommendations. “Social networks are the new brand influencers and marketers must find ways to connect with consumers who are highly influential in their peer groups.”

Shifting Behavior. Socio-economic shifts are affecting consumer behavior. Consumer tastes and preferences continue to change and evolve. “Faster-paced preference change is the new reality and brands must be nimble to keep up with consumer demand.”

Rapid Deployment. New products and innovation are being brought to market much more quickly. Brands, products, and services must keep up. “Time to market and corporate agility are the new capabilities to focus on.”

I haven’t done one of these posts for a while. Here’s another week of unique insight from my blog tracking tool, ReInvigorate, that links the search phrases that people used to find a page on my site.

This can be a useful way to discover a few gems of insight from the several thousands of posts throughout my blog!

  • “how to innovate videos” was a search that was done on AOL (really? Does anyone still use this search engine?) and  led to the blog category, “How to Innovate Videos.” You might find some useful inspirational innovation insight by watching a few of those clips.
  • “innovative thinking” led to “The BIG secrets of innovative organizations.” Make big bets, big transformations, big brand reinforcement, pursue big math, and a number of other big ideas on how to align yourself for fast paced change
  • “sports good industry global” led to “The future of sporting goods in a world of high velocity“, which in 2006 made some pretty bold and accurate predictions on how sports is and will continue to change in the future. This was based on a keynote that I was preparing for a leadership meeting of the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association.
  • “start small, learn more, scale rapidly” was a query that was close enough to my comments in the post, “Innovation: Think big, start small, scale fast.” This has been my innovation mantra for longer than I can remember. It makes for a great read!
  • “innovations in the auto industry” led to “Innovation, the auto industry and the new reality” with a clip from a keynote I did in 2008 in Sydney, Australia, talking about how some auto companies are reinventing process as a means of staying ahead.
  • “reasons for innovation” led to the post, “10 reasons why innovation matters for small business.” I pulled together this post just before I went out to film a series of video clips on behalf of Cisco.
  • “legal profession trends 2011″ led to the post “The future of the legal profession” from 2007, with a great PDF that summarizes these trends.
  • “innovators new restaurants” led to the post “Recent keynote: innovating for growth in the restaurant industry” for the top leadership team of Yum! Brands (KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut.) It’s a great overview of the trends that the industry needs to be thinking about.  A few months later, Burger King had me keynote their global franchise meeting, where I spoke to more than 4,500 in the Center for the Performing Arts in Las Vegas
  • “Does Apple have a tradition of innovation” — duh, seems like a strange search! — led to the post “Apple: 60% of revenue from products less than 4 years old
  • “workshop leadership trends” led to my Web page, “CEO / Leadership meetings” which outlines the unique types of interactive events that I have done and and can do for clients – workshops and panel discussions. There’s a PDF on that page called “High Velocity Leadership” which describes these sessions in greater depth.

You can read previous “What’s Hot” posts in the category here.

While clearing off the desk today, I came across a planning document for a keynote for fairly major organization I did quite some time ago.

It’s a good summary of the issues that my keynote would have to address, and the potential innovation solutions that emerged. This particular organization was in the retail space; through conversations with several member of global management, we built a list of the key issues that I would focus in on my talk: these being the key issues that the leadership believed that the rest of the team need to be thinking hard about.

  • faster emergence of new store infrastructure : i.e. contact-less payment technology is now emerging with Blackberry, iPhone’s, and other smart-phones. What happens when this occurs on customer interactions ; how quickly can a retail / restaurant organization scale to deal with it (i.e. rapid technological innovation is continuing unabated despite the economic downturn, and things like this will have a big impact on how business is done!)
  • faster challenges in terms of freshness of brand image: today, with the impact of the Net and social networks, a brand isn’t what you say it it — it’s what “they” say it is
  • new influencers: consumers are influenced in terms of choice in ways that go beyond traditional advertising. For example, consider the Celebrity Baby Blog (yes, there is such a thing), and how it has come to influence fashion trends for infant wear
  • new forms of brand interaction: the concept of the “location intelligence professional” — corporations are deploying strategies that integrate location into the virtual web, interacting with above mentioned cell phones that provide for in-store product uplift
  • rapid emergence of store architecture issues: intelligent infrastructures – McDonald’s has a $100 million energy saving plan that is based on IP based management of in store energy We’re also seeing the rapid emergence of green / eco design principles that provide more opportunities for savings
  • faster evolution of consumer taste preference : new food trends go from upscale restaurant to broad deployment in as little as 18 months now, compared to 5 years ago; consumer choice changes faster, requiring faster innovation!
  • faster idea cycles. New concepts, ideas, business strategies, advertising concepts happen faster because of greater global collaboration ; brands have to keep up with the idea cycle

Next, my keynote would touch on how the client could be more innovative in dealing with fast paced trends? Some potential methods include:

  • the concept of upside / down innovation – customer oriented innovation
  • generational collaboration – how to unleash the creativity of Gen-Connect
  • concept of business agility: how do we structure ourselves to act faster
  • theme of experiential capital : how can we take on more risk oriented projects simply to build our expertise in new areas such as social networking
  • fast, global, scalable project oriented teams : how do we learn to collaborate better internally
  • innovation “factories”: how can we scale successful internal projects faster to achieve greater benefits
  • partnership oriented innovation: how do collaborate on innovation with our suppliers and others in the supply chain?

Some of the conclusions that came from the global discussions in the lead up to the event? These were responses draw from the audience through the use of online text message polling:

  • we need to learn how to innovate more locally but globally scale
  • a better “innovation factory” to rollout is critical
  • can’t compromise speed to market with structure/bureaucracy
  • spread R&D out
  • collaborate to a greater degree on an international basis
  • innovation should be part of reward and structure
  • more brand clarity, particularly given muddiness of impact of social networking
  • need a more forceful commitment ($, structure, rewards, goals) to innovation

From this, I built my keynote so that it had a structure of “what are the issues,” “what do we need to about them in terms of potential responses”, and “what are some of the organizational changes we need to make to deal with them.”

It turned out to be a great talk!

Here’s an article from my September 2010 CAMagazine column:

Jim Carroll was the opening keynote for the 2010 Consumer Electronic Association CEO Summit, speaking to the theme of "Brand Innovation At the Speed of Twitter: How to Innovate in the Era of Hyperconnectivity." Click the image for more on this keynote topic.

It’s no secret that social networks are booming. But let’s put into perspective how quickly they are growing. It took radio 38 years to hit 50 million users. Television took 13 years, the Internet four years and the iPhone three years. In that context, now consider that Facebook is adding 20 million users a month and Twitter reports more than 300,000 people are signing up every day. These statistics are mind-boggling, even to someone like me who has been online since 1981.

Much of this rapid growth is driven by the younger generation: 50% of the global population is less than 25 — and in North America, 96% of them use Facebook. That’s a pretty astonishing percentage. Social networking is also increasing as people use their mobile devices to continually share their thoughts, access social media content and see what their friends are up to. Software such as Tweetdeck lets people access and filter the flood of information that flows through Twitter, whether it is related to the friends and people they follow or to track information posted about breaking news.

But social networks aren’t just inane thoughts people post to their Facebook and Twitter accounts; it’s the flood of video and pictures that people place online. YouTube reports that some 24 hours of video are uploaded to the service every minute — and when the iPhone was released, YouTube traffic rose by 1,700%.

What is perhaps most significant is that social networks are changing the very nature of how people search for information. At this point, Facebook is used for more searches than Google. And at 600 million queries a day, Twitter is now the largest search engine in the world.

What does it all mean? The key point here is that when people search for information on goods and services, they turn to other people on social networks for advice and guidance more often than they consult producers of the product or service itself. At this point, one out of four online searches for the top 20 global brands end up with user generated content, such as information on blogs, as well as what people post to Twitter and Facebook.

The result is that organizations are having to think about advertising and branding in completely different ways. In the olden days a company could figure out an advertising and marketing strategy, build a campaign and put it out to the public. Today, lots of people are having lots of “conversations” about many topics, including the products and services that they use on a daily basis. They’re placing online both positive and negative insight. And increasingly, when we search for information about a product or service, we’re accessing that insight, in addition to — or sometimes in place of — a company’s carefully crafted message.

That’s why organizations are scrambling to change their approach to marketing and advertising.

Last year, I had the opportunity to speak at the annual Consumer Electronics Association CEO Summit in California. It was a pretty fascinating crowd, with senior executives from a variety of global entertainment and technology companies, as well as major global retailers that sell their products. The rapid pace of change in the online world, particularly with respect to social networks, is coming to influence these markets. It’s been reported, for example, that IBM has combined some of its marketing and PR staff to deal with the impact of social networking. And Pepsi now devotes one-third of its advertising budget to interactive and social media.

The bottom line? Companies must think about how to reach their customers in new and different ways.

I just came from giving a keynote for the annual conference of a major customer loyalty organization, with the talk focused on some of key trends impacting the world of retail today.

There’s certainly a lot going on and a lot to think about. Extremely rapid business model change, the emergence of new competitors, ongoing consumer confidence volatility, rapid product turnover and faster product life-cycles.

So what are they really, really worried about? Let’s put in context the people I had in the room — senior VP’s and managers in major retailers representing several billions in revenue in a wide variety of markets, including pharmaceutical, grocery, consumer goods and electronics. Not to mention quite a few bankers, responsible for credit card portfolio’s, loyalty programs and other customer oriented programs and infrastructure.

Given all that, the top of mind issue is — new methods of customer interaction.

Look at the poll results below. The issue stands out far and away as the most important concern of the day!

Hence, my keynote was bang-on. I didn’t touch too much on the social networking phenomena, as this type of crowd has been drowning in social-networking Powerpoints.

My focus was on interactivity, location, and intelligence,, and the extremely rapid emergence of new forms of in-store interaction and product sales uplift. Things like digital signage, in-store electronic promotional displays, iPod based coups. A flood of new stuff and new ideas that promote new ways of

Listen folks, I know I’ve said it here before, but I’ll say it again.

2010 is the year of location, combined with mobility, and it’s happening faster than you think.

I’m pumped about this topic and the reaction, so I’ve rolled this into a new keynote description:

Location is the New Intelligence: Customer Interaction in the Era of Pervasive Mobile

We’re at the leading edge of the merger of three perfect trends: the rapid and massive emergence of a massive mobile infrastructure with increasingly intelligent devices. Pervasive location awareness as a results of GPS and location intelligence/mapping trends in those very same tools. And a consumer mindset that is increasingly open to new forms of interaction. The result is massive business model disruption, absolutely transformative market change, and complete obliteration of old assumptions as to the nature of the customer relationship. Smart, innovative super-heroes know that this is an unprecedented time to jump on the emergence of location as the new intelligence, in order to provide for new ways of product uplift in the retail space, changing the very nature of customer loyalty through new forms of interaction, and enhancing existing one-to-0ne conversations through a more direct, distinct and fascinating new form of location based relationships. Futurist, Trends & Innovation Expert Jim Carroll is setting the retail, marketing and advertising world on fire with his fast paced insight into one of the most important trends to shape the customer-business relationship in the last few decades. Move over social networking — location is the new intelligence!

Read more: Location is the new intelligence

Here’s an article that I wrote for the spring issue of Marketline, for the BCAMA. Some good food for thought on the future of branding, and how all this social networking might really evolve.

Key point: “The concept of branding is being re-energized. People care again

Pat Boone Has an App
by Jim Carroll, Marketline, Spring 2010

Does that blow your mind? It should. After all, for some people, Pat Boone could be the most uncool guy around, and yet he has an App with a pretty good rating in the Apple App Store. I think that’s pretty cool.

If it doesn’t blow your mind because you don’t know who he is, then here’s the deal: he’s a singer who sold some 50 million albums during the 50s and 60s. Think Justin Bieber if he was around in 1956.

I learned about Pat Boone’s App when I set out to get my own. Given the nature of my business, I’m a brand, and I’m a big believer that we are rapidly entering the era of the personal brand App. And in fact, the same folks who developed Pat’s App pulled mine together and had it available in the App store within just eight weeks.

What does this have to do with the future of marketing? Probably everything and anything, in that we are in the very early stages of what is likely to be a very significant transformation in the energy that people have towards the concept of a brand.

Bill Gates once observed that “most people overestimate the amount of change that will occur in two years, and underestimate the change that will occur over 10 years”.

Think about that statement in the context of the current impact of social networking on brands and marketing.

Certainly, everyone knows that carefully orchestrated Twitter, Facebook and YouTube-centric marketing campaigns can provide a substantial uplift in sales and that, to a large degree, successful brands are focused on building relationships by having conversations with their customers. It’s all too obvious to everyone that if a brand doesn’t respect the fascinating power possessed by the new collective consciousness, things can go to hell in a handbasket in a hurry. And we all know that, increasingly, a brand is no longer what you say it is it’s what ‘they’ say it is.

Yet, these are early days. Where will we be 10 years out? How will the art of marketing have changed? What will a brand be in 10 years’ time? Will we even find it necessary to market a brand? Or will brands become such a part of our lives that we won’t even think it necessary to market them, because each of us will essentially own those brands? How do you market a product to someone who already owns the brand for that product?

Certainly there has been a tsunami of change in the marketing and creative world over the last few years with the explosion of social networking. But do we know where this change is going to take us? I’m not certain we do know. When the Internet first appeared on the scene, who could have imagined Twitter, or YouTube or cyber-battles between China and a company that didn’t exist less than a decade ago?

Much can happen in a two-year time span. Much more can happen in 10 years. The difficulty is in figuring out how to steer to wherever we might be in a decade. These are the early days and the pace of change is still accelerating. Brands are learning to adapt to fascinating new realities, and marketing skills are transitioning at lightning speed.

Customers are toying with their vast new powers, learning to use them in new and fascinating and sometimes scary and dangerous ways. Brands can go from hero to zero in a matter of moments. Marketing campaigns that one day seemed edgy and leading-edge can suddenly fall off a cliff, looking dull and out of date as a new brand comes along to displace them. And it all occurs at blinding speed.

Maybe in a decade some brands will have transitioned further into our lives through even more connectivity than we can currently imagine. Perhaps one day the packaging for a medication that I will be using will “talk” via a subterranean Twitter-like stream to a sensor embedded in my mobile device, updating my medical profile and adjusting my dosage based on up-to-the-second medical tests. When a brand becomes a part of my being, does that mean that the new brand relationship of today looks ancient?

I don’t think anyone has figured everything out yet with social media. There are certainly a lot of people talking about it, and I spend a fair amount speaking to the trend myself. But I think we are in the midst of something unique, special and awe-inspiring. I am convinced that in 10 years’ time, we will look back and think, “wow, that was an amazing time to take part in something big”.

What is that “something big”? Perhaps a period of time in which everyone customers and brand owners alike are becoming re-energized about the concept of a brand, as a brand truly become part of one’s existence.

Yes, Pat Boone has an App. He’s proud of his brand he put out good work, even if it is niche-oriented. And yes, maybe his market is declining. But here he is, an icon of the birth of the boomer era, and he’s got enough passion and enthusiasm for his brand to reach out to his brand participants using these fascinating new and powerful tools.

Pat Boone has had his passion for his brand restored. And maybe that is the most important thing that is happening right now. The concept of branding is being re-energized. People care again. We’re out of the era of robots building TV commercials that didn’t resonate, and brand images that didn’t create a sense of awe, and brand images that were simply stuck because of creative failure.

Perhaps that’s the real magic everyone is acquiring a new enthusiasm to do something with brands. If they own a brand, they can be inspired to do something great with it. If they are a customer of a brand, they can be inspired to help to shape the future of the brand more to their own liking through the collective consciousness that is social networking.

The energy and creativity around us is staggering. Continue to jump in, explore, try, do, fail and retry and remember that there is lots yet to learn, since these are early days.

Grab the original article at Scribd!

2010PRSM.jpgAt many of my keynotes, I focus on some of the most successful creativity and innovation attributes that I see within organizations. Here’s a list of guidance from a recent keynote for a group of executives in the consumer goods sector:

  • Adapt to more challenging customers: customers expectations and needs are changing rapidly, and yet they are more demanding than ever before. Loyalty disappears….at the same time they expect creative perfection from you, they are more fickle, and far less loyal …. I’m not even sure the concept of loyalty exists any more for many brands!
  • Costs increase: all this is happening in a world in which producers and retailers are faced with a rapid increase in uncontrollable costs…energy, plastics, you name it! Margins are being squeezed and pressured as a result. Operational excellence is no longer optional!
  • Focus on collaborative relationships: The key to innovation in retail today can be found in collaborative relationships and partnerships between packaging companies, consumer products and brands, and retailers. ! Noted Paul Moss, British Bakeries Divisional Marketing Director, “We have more to talk about than price.” No one wants to fight in a brand sector that is involved in a race to the bottom, but that’s what happens when everyone focuses on price. Shift the equation with your partners, and you’ll find a way out.
  • Remember — the package is the brand: Heinz, StarKist and other industry leaders have learned that packaging innovation, driven by new methodologies, ideas and technologies, has become the secret to brand image in many sectors, because it permits a shift of value and customer perception in ways that haven’t previously been seen. Think upside-down-Ketchup. If you aren’t innovating with packaging, you aren’t in the game
  • Hyper-innovation is key: Throughout the consumer products world, we are witnessing faster time to market in every single sector. The concept of a product lifecycle is disappearing as products come to market and thrive for but short micro-bursts of time. Make sure you’ve got the agility on your team you need to cope with this reality, and you might survive
  • Get used to rapid change. Consumer desires, needs and demands will continue change at an ever more furious pace, often in ways that won’t make sense, particularly with the impact of social networks. Don’t despair from it: learn from it. Take the recent race to value-oriented products as a result of the recession. Did you act fast enough? What organizations sclerosis blocked your ability for quick change? And what should you do to fix it?
  • Capture the insight of creatively new competitors – constantly: Admit this: there are likely going to be a lot of folks out there who are a lot more creative than you are. They’ll beat the pants off you all the time with quick short bursts of tactical success, while you are still busy marshalling your forces. Rather than losing sleep over their success, study them! Learn from them! And then capitalize by doing what they do – and do it better. Rapid creativity in a time of constant change is the name of the game, and you’d do best to work to obtain the same skills and insight that your best competitors have developed.
  • Ride the wave of continuous business model innovation: If someone is reinventing your business model, reinvent it faster! In retail, we are seeing constant experimentation with store formats, brand partnering, in-store displays, logistics and tracking studies, and countless other new ways of doing things. Get on board the tornado of change in retail and ride it for all it is worth. You should develop a team that has a finely-tuned radar for unique trends, experiments, success stories and innovations. They’re swirling around you continuously, they are constantly reinventing the world of retail on a minute by minute basis – and you’ve got to understand them and capitalize upon them.

I’ve got quite a few keynotes coming up with the consumer, food, packaged goods and retail sectors in the next several months, one of them being the Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association in Orlando, Florida next month.

The topic for that keynote will be: Where Do We Go From Here? Why Innovators Will Rule in the Post-Recession Economy – And How You Can Join Them.

Here’s an extract from the keynote description:

Jim Carroll has carefully studied what it is that organizations are doing to position themselves for post-recession growth.

One thing they are certainly doing is positioning themselves for innovative solutions to complex problems. When it comes to retail store maintenance there is no doubt that we are in the era of fast-paced solutions, whether its related to intelligent building management solutions, the rapid evolution of in-store layout and design principles; innovative environmental and green technology solutions; or new in-store
customer engagement methodologies, all of which impact in-store maintenance professionals in new and dramatic ways.

In his keynote, Jim will share his insight into the key trends impacting the retail sector, and how maintenance professionals can take a seat at the “strategy table,” providing unique solutions and guidance to the management team by adapting to fast paced trends.

IMG_0279.jpgLast fall, Microsoft invited me to speak at a series of events related to its Windows 7 launch; I’d be addressing C-level executives on the key business strategies organizations are adopting as we come out of the recession.

For the first stop on the tour, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer spoke to the audience, so I went to hear what he had to say. He certainly stoked enthusiasm for the new Windows 7 product in the manner for which he is known, but he also spoke to the broader plans for Microsoft in the future. One comment about mobile devices stood out: that the reason why Apple is selling so many apps for the iPhone is because generally the browser on the phone isn’t very user friendly.

That’s quite true. I find when I access the Internet on my iPhone the screen resolution seems particularly challenging for these middle-aged eyes. My own website features fonts and a layout that look great on a big monitor but when accessed on an iPhone don’t work very well.

So I decided I should have my own app that features a variety of information found on my regular site. Hence, my voyage into the world of iPhone app development. Apparently it’s a voyage many people are pursuing, with some 80,000 apps already available on the iTunes store.

As I began looking around, I found quite a few artists and entertainers (which I think my career is increasingly evolving into) were releasing iPhone apps. Heck, I even found an app for Pat Boone. That blew my mind.

It was a timely decision: I had already started down the path toward promoting compatibility with the new world of wireless devices by creating a special version of my website uniquely formatted for small screens. I did this in a matter of hours by setting up a WordPress blog; I added to it the iPhone/PDA “theme” that reformats pages to fit within the narrow screen size found on a BlackBerry or iPhone. I then added code to my website that figures out if someone is coming in via such a device: when someone does, it redirects him or her to the mobile version.

It was a bit challenging to get the blog section of my website into the iPhone version – until I found Mippin, that is. This nifty free service automatically formats a blog feed for wireless devices in a matter of seconds. If you have a blog and a PDA, try it out; it is quite a magical service.

Voila. I now had a version of my website that worked well for PDAs. But I thought I still should have an app that is available to people in the iTunes App store. Where to start? A friend put me in touch with iEveryware, an app developer based in California. From there, a phone call led to a cost estimate and within hours, I was on the way to having my own app. It was that fast. Until then, I had thought the process of app development would be some deep secret known to a chosen few. The reality is that there are already thousands of developers out there.

One key step in the process was setting myself up as an Apple iPhone Developer, for a fee of US$99. Once that was done, I was able to register the name Futurist for my app. I registered a few other app names for future use; right now, it seems a little bit like the early days of domain name registration. (Hint, hint.)

As I write this column, I’m actively involved in testing daily updates from the development team as they put together the application; it features a variety of videos within the app itself; access to video feeds from YouTube; direct access to my blog and Twitter feeds and some information resources about innovation and trends. We’re hoping to submit it to Apple shortly; by the time you read this, it should be out there. The cost to develop my app? Just US$995.

All this from hearing Ballmer suggest the experience of browsing the web on an iPhone sucked.

(This article was written in December 2009. The app was submitted December 21, and was approved for release 10 days later!)

More information:

  • iEveryware
  • Mippin
  • Jim Carroll’s iPhone app
  • Pat Boone’s app

Could you be so out of touch with your customers that you have no clue how they truly perceive you?

More information:

  • Blog post Is your brand from the olden days?

How is social networking impacting brands? Take a look!

2010FinancialAdvisor.jpgI spend a lot of time speaking to global financial organizations — some of the world’s largest institutions — helping them understand what they need to do from an innovation perspective to stay ahead of fast paced change.

These talks are often aimed at the idea of “how do we need to transition our advisory services — financial planners, investment advisors, insurance agents and brokers — to keep up with fast paced change?”

Here’s a laundry list of some of the strategies that I’ve been talking about:

  1. Focus on growth:With so much volatility in the financial sector, it’s all too easy to take your eye off of the opportunity ball. As I noted in my remarks for a recent keynote to a group of senior bankers:

    Never before has the need for financial advice for Australians been greater; only 20% of Australians are currently getting professional advice.”

    That means there are tremendous opportunities for growth! For many, access to financial advice is still too hard and complicated – that’s why it’s a great time to innovate, in order to build market share!!!!

  2. Structure for fast paced change: There are several certainties in the financial sector:
    • more business model change
    • more sophisticated competition
    • continuous business model disruption with new, young upstarts
    • continual shifts in consumer behaviour
    • technology-driven fast change, such as with the impact of mobile technologies

    Quite simply, an innovative financial organization concentrates on aligning its structure and capabilities so that it can change quickly

  3. Reshape brand messages faster:
    Clearly there’s a lot of fast-paced change in financial services with the rapid economic pullback, and it’s critical that financial institutions continue to reshape their brand at the pace of rapidly changing consumer perception.

    Noted Jim Buchanan, Senior VP of Consumer Marketing at the Bank of America in an article in Advertising Age, October 2009:

    Six months ago, we were trying to re-assure the market and consumers that we are safe and secure….now consumers are telling us they’re not worried about those things anymore…..What they are interested in is ‘How can you help me manage my finances?‘”

    Innovative organizations ensure that the brand message evolves at the pace of a world in which volatility is the new normal.

  4. Adapt to momentum of financial consumer change: Quite simply, the new financial client is online in a big way, and smart financial organizations will evolve their service and support message to these platforms. The numbers are staggering; in the case of my Australian keynote, I emphasized that:
    • 147 million people interact globally on social networks via their mobile phones – we can expect 1 billion within five years!
    • there are 1.6 million Twitter users in Australia – up 1,000% from last year
    • Australian’s now spend 16.1 hours a week on the Internet, compared to 12.9 hours watching TV
    • 25% of that time is spent on Facebook

    The impact is clear: as noted by Mondaq Business Briefing in November 2009: “Australians visit social networking sites more often than financial services sites.”

    The bottom line for financial and investment advisors is that social networks are an extremely effective tool to keep core clients in the loop; as an outreach tool, they’re fast, effective, unique, quirky, and certainly the story of the day. The bottom line is that financial advisors have to go where the client is going, and should be thinking about how to become socially-networked oriented advisors.

  5. Adjust platforms to this changing behaviour: I continue to emphasize with my global financial clients that the impact of mobile technologies on financial services is absolutely massive. Think about Wizzit, a South African service that is essentially a text message based banking system.The reality is that the new financial consumer expects to be served on new platforms: as noted by Thomas Kunz, Senior VP at PNC Financial:

    Gen-Y doesn’t reconcile checkbooks, and they don’t believe in float. For them, their balance is their balance.”

    That’s why PNC has released a “virtual wallet app” available for iPhones. They’re reaching out to this new financial consumer in a big way.

    Aggressive change with business platforms provides big opportunity for business model disruption. A key factor here has to do with new client acquisition: what’s happening is the point of origination of the relationship might change as people transition their banking to mobile devices. Opportunity can come from continuing to build the advisor and distribution channel into these new platforms.

    And that’s not a threat – that’s a huge opportunity!

  6. Leverage off of new peer-to-peer behaviour trends:
    The new financial consumer relies more than ever before for advice from their social networks.Peer-to-peer social driven advice through sites such as TradeKing is coming to the forefront: it’s a service that allows people to share stock tips and research through extended social networks.

    Does this diminish the role of advisory services — not at all, if you dive in and become a part of the peer-to-peer conversation!

  7. Re-orient distribution channels : Here’s another key point: I’ve emphasized to my insurance and other financial clients that the next-generation advisor/broker/agent expects ever more sophisticated technology platforms to help support their role.You’ve got to make sure you are keeping up with their needs. In one survey in the insurance sector, 80% of brokers indicated that the sophistication of the technology platform of the provider would influence who they would choose to do business with.

    According to Kevin Murray, EVP and CIO at New York-based AXA Equitable:

    The younger generation of financial professional will almost demand online self-service….they will want to text any questions they have in to the service centre or self-service from their mobile device. We’re going to have to be able to provide that capability. It’s how they will operate.”

  8. Build your own peer-to-peer collaborative knowledge networks: The new financial advisor is also thinking socially, and is actively looking for peer-to-peer collaborative knowledge.Imagine building a financial advisory team that is collaborative for ideas, shares insight on market wins, constantly leverages insight from new branding campaigns that work in unique ways, and constantly shares great ideas on new methods of converting leads into clients — that’s how this next generation works!

    Back to Kevin Murray:

    “They will also want an online collaboration tool to …find answers concerning product or questions from their customers. The X and Y generations are going to demand a different way of selling and servicing their customers.”

    What’s it really all about? Freeing up their time to build opportunity, make sales, close deals.

  9. Reduce churn through electronic relationships: Here’s something else to think about according to Chief Marketer (October 2009),

    The average brand saw one third of highly loyal consumers in 2007 completely defect to another brand in 2008“.

    People are far less loyal, and far more likely to jump ship at the drop of a hat. That’s why continuous innovation in terms of the relationship is critical — and that’s maybe why continually transitioning to new technology platforms such as an iPhone app might
    reduce that churn

  10. Better, more focused niche marketing: We’re in the new era of analytics and analysis, which provides new opportunities for advisors to reach out to markets previously unattainable. As noted by Money Management Executive in October 2009:

    Financial advisers generally prefer to manage a small number of high-net-worth clients rather than a large number of small accounts, but recent advances in automation technology could change this dynamic.”

  11. Innovate hard with the next generation: one of the biggest trends going forward is that right now, we are witnessing the early stages of a massive transition of wealth from one generation to another. The numbers are staggering: we’ll see $12 to $18 trillion in intergenerational wealth transfer In the next 12 years (US GDP is $12 trillion); and by 2053, some $130 trillion will have moved from one generation to another. That’s a lot of money sloshing around — and much of it is going to this new, tech-savvy financial consumer.
  12. At the same time, rethink importance of boomer market: It’s easy with all of these points to think that new markets will come from new, uber-hip young people and hot new technologies. But don’t stop with innovating with that market — also realize that there continues to be huge growth potential with the boomer market. In Australia, baby boomers will control 51% of the nations wealth. Put that in the context of the reality that there is a huge adoption by Boomers of Facebook. They continue to more aggressively integrate technology into their lives; they’re busy researching health care, insurance, retirement planning and investment advice. Online makes more sense than ever before — get your advisors there!
  13. Evolve the approach: Insurance and financial services are products that are always sold based on fear — they aren’t bought. This reality doesn’t go away because of new technologies. What does change is that technology is a powerful enabler that frees advisors from having to focus on the mundane, routine, time wasting stuff, in order to focus on providing the advice & guidance that advisors can provide. Focus on the core role!
  14. Enact change: Many advisors will be in comfortable, established routines. Change is not easy. That’s why organizations in the financial sector that are trying to be innovative need to help existing advisors focus on the opportunity and the benefits that come with rapid change, rather than being fearful of the change that technology is bringing to the industry.

Bottom line? As I summed up in my talk — “Innovative organizations make bold leaps, in order to keep up — and stay ahead — of a faster future.”

“Do you we truly appreciate just how quickly things are going to evolve?”

What should brand leaders be thinking about in terms of the velocity of change with customers and branding.

This clip takes a look at the trends impacting brands….

Dubai.jpgBack in the spring, when the entire world was caught up in the midst of global economic doom, I had a long conversation with a Dubai-based journalist. He was seeking my insight for an article on what a nation, city or economic region should do to remain competitive in the global economy.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I suspect his call was related to an article that had run the day before (“Dubai turns to PR to revive its image,” The Financial Times, April 2, 2009), noting that the city state had hired a public relations firm to handle its financial communications strategy and “head off negative media coverage of its troubled economy.”

The world certainly changes fast and, as I stated in my August column, “a brand is no longer what you say it is — it’s what they say it is.” I was talking about consumer products, but we now live in a time when the perception of an entire economic region can change literally overnight.

Think about that in the context of Dubai: just a short time ago, it was one of the world’s most dazzling success stories. Then came the market meltdown, the huge challenges in the global economy — and suddenly the shine was off this burgeoning world-class city. Today, of course, it looks a bit more like a financial basketcase than a shimmering global success story.

I spoke to the fellow about a wide variety of issues, but emphasized that one of the most important things politicians, economic development officers, community leaders, boards of trade executives and others should be thinking about now is their region’s image on the global stage. Given the rapidity of the meltdown and changing circumstances, locations that were once seen as vibrant, progressive and growth-oriented are suddenly finding themselves with a different “brand.”

And who would want to rest their personal future economic success upon the brand of an economic region in decline? Who would want to relocate a business to such an area, or consider a career-based move to an area that had a damaged brand?

Clearly, success in a global economy on the rebound will go to those regions that can continue to draw growth industries, specialized skills and global attention; and to those willing to innovate in terms of how they promote their brand.

More information:

  • Read Dubai turns to PR to revive it’s image

hugh-hefner-jung.jpg>by Jim Carroll, CAMagazine, August 2009

When you travel like I do, you spend a lot of time reading. One ofthe recent books on my list provides a fascinating look back at the 1950s and ’60s: Mr. Playboy: Hugh Hefner and the American Dream. (No, I didn’t buy it for the pictures, because there are very few.)

I was struck by one paragraph about how Hef worked very hard in the early years to get advertisers on side. He was initially met with resistance, for obvious reasons, but he persisted and eventually succeeded at signing up some of the “leading brands of the time.”

Just what were those brands? Crosswinds House beach towels, Scintella Satin BedSheets, the Lektrostat Record Cleaning Kit, Mansfield Holiday II 8-mm cameras, Leslie Record Racks, Electro-Voice Musicaster loudspeakers, the Ronson Electric Shaver, Max Factor crew-cut hair dressing and the Rogers “Rocket Flame” cigarette lighter. And let’s not forget Merrin Gold Jewelry and the Batch Book, “a new and modern address book that lets you list every pertinent detail — the surest way to avoid social errors.”

Those brands aren’t exactly household names today; in fact, very few of them still exist. Some disappeared due to changing societal norms, others due to technological change. Some probably just ran out of steam.

Brands disappear for a variety of reasons: think Enron, E.F. Hutton and Woolco. Brands can also stick around and become tarnished, losing respect in the eyes of the customer because of a series of missteps. My own client list includes organizations such as Chrysler, Motorola and the US Army Corps of Engineers — brands that for a variety of reasons have lost respect in the marketplace.

Is your brand at risk? That’s a key question, because corporate brands today are no longer guaranteed longevity in the marketplace. They can disappear because of obsolescence, competition and business model change, or simply because, as we have seen of late, failure and error.

Brands now also have to contend with the potentially lethal challenge of social networks. Pizza chain Dominoes quickly discovered how much harm social network “terrorism” can do when employees posted a damaging video on YouTube in which they were less than reverent with customers’ food.

It is isn’t just the risk of events like this that can threaten a brand. People are extremely busy chatting online — on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere– about the brands that they like, and the ones they dislike.
Consider the effort one customer put into a self-created commercial for US based grocery store Trader Joe’s.

All of a sudden, organizations are discovering a reality that I’ve been pointing out for years: a brand is no longer what you say it is — it’s what they say it is.

Think about your brand, whether you are in public practice, consulting or the corporate sector. Does your brand still resonate? I often talk to my clients about the need for constant brand innovation and challenge them days.” Better yet, I ask them if their brand looks tired because it is tired.

Many people don’t spend much time thinking about branding, but it is becoming more important considering how quickly perceptions can change. Here’s how you should challenge your thinking.

  • Recognize that brand longevity is a critical issue.
  • Ensure that everyone in the organization is relentlessly focused on the currency of the brand.
  • Make sure that continuous brand innovation is part of your corporate mantra.
  • Be incessantly focused on the innovations that are most likely to impact your brand.

More information:

  • Video: The impact of social networking on brands
  • How a customer sees Trader Joe’s
  • Blog post: Is your brand from the olden days?

There are 147 million people interacting on social networks through mobile devices today – expect that to grow to 1 billion within 5 years.

A clip from a recent keynote in which I outline the dramatic impact that social networking — Twitter, Facebook, etc — is having on brand image, relevance of brand, and longevity of brand.

2009Hefner.jpg
When you travel a lot like I do, you end up doing a lot of reading. One of the books I’ve been reading provides a fascinating look back at the fifties and sixties: Mr. Playboy: Hugh Hefner and the American Dream. (No, I didn’t buy it for the pictures, because there are very few.)

I was struck by a paragraph that spoke to how the company worked hard to get advertisers on board in the early years. It took some time, but eventually, they began to sign up some of the leading brands of the time.

Home amenities also abounded, with promotions for everything from Crosswinds House beach towels and robes to Scintella Satin BedSheets, Lektrostat Kit record cleanerss to Mansfield Holiday II 8-mm. cameras, Leslie Record Racks to the Electro-Voice Musicaster (an outdoor “high-fidelity speaker system for relaxed enjoyment at the patio or pool”). personal accessory plugs included the Ronson Electric Shaver, Max Factor crew-cut hair dressing, Rogers “Rocket Flame” cigarette lighter, Merrin Gold Jewelry, and English Leather aftershave and toiletries. Ads focusing on romance promoted such items as Coty Perfume (“Nothing makes a woman more feminine to a man) and the Batch Book, “a new and modern address book that lets you list every pertinent detail – the surest way to avoid social errors.”


Ask yourself this question when you read that paragraph: how many of those brands actually still exist? Very few of them. Some disappeared due to changing societal norms, others due to technological change.

Regardless of the reason, very few products and brands have any type of longevity in the marketplace. That’s why continual product and brand reinvention is really, really critical. Even more so today than in the 1950′s!

Which is why, when I’m speaking and working with my clients on the need for constant brand innovation, I always challenge them to ask themselves if their brands are from the “olden days.”

I wrote about this in a blog post some time back, noting that brands can become old for a variety of reasons:

  • Your brand looks tired, because it is tired
  • Customers see a lack of innovation
  • Lousy, ineffective customer service
  • You don’t know that you customers know more about your brand than you do
  • A lack of purpose or urgency
  • A lack of market and competitive intelligence
  • A regular series of fumbling missteps

I then went on to note that “a brand today can go from hero to zero in a matter of months. How do you avoid such a fate?

  • Recognize that brand longevity is now a critical issue
  • Ensure your sales, marketing, development and customer support team are relentlessly focused on the currency of the brand
  • Make sure that continuous brand innovation is part of your corporate mantra
  • When confronted with the new and challenging customer, learn from them rather than running away
  • Be incessantly focused on the likely innovations that will come to impact your brand
  • Learn to think five to six product lifecycles in advance — and plan to do them all within six months.
  • Make forward oriented intelligence a critical aspect of what you do.

Innovation – continual product and brand reinvention!

More information

  • Is your brand from the olden days?  
  • Your customers are high velocity. Are you?  
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