Archive for the ‘Digital Marketing’ Category

Why Google should buy Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Article first published as Why Google Should Buy Barnes & Noble on Technorati.

The media is abuzz with the news that John Malone of Liberty Media has made an offer of $17 a share for 70% of Barnes & Noble, the last remaining bookstore in the US.

In the Financial Times the point was made that, being the last man standing, Barnes and Noble has the advantage of no competition, and the Wall Street Journal emphasized the value of the Nook software that could become prevalent across Android-based tablets.

There could, however, be a broader opportunity for a company with vision. In one of his recent blogs, Seth Godin challenged the concept of the current library as being a warehouse of dead books to being a place where “people come together to do co-working and coordinate and invent projects worth working on together”.

Why not extend this concept of reinventing the library to being a reinvention of the bookstore? Apple’s concept of successfully mashing 3 things together – a community (Mac / iPhone users), a platform (iTunes) and an experience (Apple store) – could be built upon to create a powerful viral marketing experience and exceptionally loyal fans.

If Google were to buy Barnes & Noble they could enhance the Apple model by blending communities (Android, Nook, YouTube) with platforms (Nook, Google Search, Chrome and Android), and provide opportunities for new experiences of learning, creating and discovering in an amazing distinct new mashed-up retail forum.

It could become the perfect living laboratory for integration of digital and real-world resources, and at the same time provide a mechanism for interaction with consumers; it would make the Google brand incredibly tangible across all its ventures.

Coincidently, it could provide the perfect forum for facilitating a nationwide open innovation environment that encourages the growth of entrepreneurism. In this new digital age, the Barnes & Noble Café could become the innovation catalyst, similar to the old coffee houses of Europe that used to facilitate the bringing together of creative and inspiring inventors and entrepreneurs. The Android and Nook platforms could be extended to enable a social networking community focused on education, innovation, creativity and fun.

The retail aspect of the B&N facility would also evolve offering a broad array of products and services that real and virtual associates could advise on and show virtually, while suggesting suitable additions that could be purchased locally or online with their Android devices and delivered when they want. The facility would then morph into a hub that brings Adwords to life, with context and location both physically and virtually on Android devices in the store.

In a single move, Google could totally revolutionize the face of retail, turn the tables on the Amazon business model by emulating and enhancing the Apple model – all for less than $1bn. Sounds like a deal to me!

We at KeySo Global understand the importance of reinventing business models and we’d be delighted to show you how converged technologies can be used to help your business run more efficiently and effectively. To set up an appointment, call us at +1 847-478-1633, email us at or visit our website at
Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global LLC

Social media boot camps – is that all it takes to re-boot your business?

Friday, May 13th, 2011

You can tell when the hype cycle on social media has reached its pinnacle when you see a Sunday newspaper running an advertisement for a “Social Media CEO Boot Camp”. In 90 minutes, this crash course is going to provide you with Social Media 101, successful case studies, proven strategies and tested techniques, and will result in generating new customers for you. And the reason that you’d be interested in this is because “your existing traditional advertising and marketing has stalled”!

The likely probability is that this course will tell you about social networks, including Facebook, forums like Yelp or Trip Advisor, and micro-blogging Twitter, as well as content communities like YouTube; perhaps it will also mention wiki’s and social search sites such as Digg, and the power of RSS. It will inform you about the explosion in social media created by users generating content and companies exponentially increasing their participation, while emphasizing why you must have a voice in this expanding universe. At the same time it will preach to you about the value of search engine optimization and, if the program is really good, it will stress the need to engage listening programs to hear what people are saying about your company and its brands. As a CEO, you will come away in one of two states: either total amazement and full of energy or, more likely, filled with concern about the ability of your organization to catch up.

The reality is that social media is one element of a larger movement resulting from the impact that digital technologies and social business have in changing the interactions of companies, customers and employees on a daily basis. It is no longer about monologue conversations between the company or its employees and consumers; it’s not about control and selling; instead the emphasis is shifting to community engagement, openness and participation.

At a recent seminar on social business run by IBM and “Information Week”, the following component pieces were identified as critical elements in social business architecture:

1. The ability to understand the market dynamics of the industry, including how competition, brands and customers are socially engaging.
2. The utilization of social software, including platforms, applications and technology.
3. The identification of social objectives, including customer engagement, employee empowerment, partner enablement and supplier engagement.
4. The determination of social output, including consistent social media, the creation of communities and the participation in social networks.

The key take-away was that a social business strategy is not just about the deployment of social technology and software but that it is about the organizational, cultural and process shifts that also need to be recognized and planned for.

The audience at this seminar was comprised of technology and information savvy subscribers of Information Week, and yet the majority of the questions related to these four major themes:

1. How do I work with IT so that they don’t stall implementation of our social media strategy?
2. How do I sell the need & concept of a social business strategy to my boss?
3. How do I ensure that my social business strategy addresses security and compliance issues?
4. How do I prevent organizational overload derailing my social business strategy?

At the heart of all this complexity and constant change, resulting from the increasing utilization of new technologies, software and business processes, is the need to take a holistic planning perspective and to recognize the need for good human relations and change management.

As a CEO, you are smart, flexible and adaptable but even you can’t keep pace with what is occurring, so don’t anticipate that a single individual in the organization can either. What is required is the creation of a community of people with the common purpose of acquiring the necessary knowledge and pushing forward with the transformation that is required. In this way you will facilitate, shape and ensure the success of your company in the digital world.

We at KeySo Global understand the importance of having a strong social business strategy and we’d be happy to show you how converged technologies can be used to help your business run more efficiently and effectively. To set up an appointment, call us at +1 847-478-1633, email us at or visit our website at
Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global LLC

IT and Marketing – why is collaboration key to digital survival?

Monday, April 25th, 2011

In many businesses there is a raging distrust between IT and Marketing, resulting in a lack of communication between the two functions. As a CEO or business owner, you should be asking: why is this and what can we do about it?

The converged digital marketing channels (television, radio, Internet, mobile platforms, social media) mean that marketing strategies not only have to be cross-channel, they have to be deployed rapidly to keep up with competition and the demands of Digital Life consumers. Decades old marketing approaches to measuring, testing and analyzing such aspects as direct mail and telemarketing have to adjust to the reality that social media plays across multiple channels, as companies now have the ability to interact directly with their customers in real time.

At the same time, due to the growth of cloud computing, there has also been a pronounced shift in the IT landscape. IT professionals are now having to move away from their traditional role of standalone systems, largely servicing finance and supply chain functions, to focus on more integrated and optimized service provision for the entire business, using both internal and cloud sources. Their challenge is to manage the highly complex data that’s being generated by each element of the business, and to integrate it into user-friendly and flexible solutions to drive the business in real time. This involves a holistic understanding of all the digital components, requirements and strategies of the business, as well as the opportunities for using external services to deliver capabilities beyond those of traditional marketing departments.

It was reported in “Information Week” that nearly 2/3 of marketers said they had problems with implementing marketing software; the number one reason given was the low priority that IT gives to the marketing function. It seems that many marketers would prefer to deal with outside marketing specialists than intimidating IT departments! Very often marketing doesn’t consult with IT when selecting marketing software. Marketers don’t think that the CIO understands their objectives, and as a result many prefer for a third party to manage and analyze data for them.

Back to the CEO’s of companies – they face a huge paradox: how do they adapt to and adopt these new technologies but at the same time not lose momentum, market share or profitability? At KeySo Global, our research and experience has convinced us that the secret to success lies in breaking down the barriers and fostering better collaboration between all departments within an organization. Even more significantly, companies will be better able to respond to their customers’ needs as identified via social media; it’s almost impossible to orchestrate an effective response when departments become silos, and refuse to share information.

An effective accelerated approach is to encourage Marketing and IT to create a joint plan for social media that embraces the new emerging digital technologies, and to hold them jointly responsible to share and communicate their plan with the entire organization. They may need some facilitated help initially to achieve this goal but having a coordinated inter-departmental plan will become essential; particularly since the next major impact of digital technology on business will be the deployment of mobile technologies and eCommerce across the enterprise as a whole.

The next two years will be a very exciting time for many companies, and those that approach the challenges collaboratively will see greater and more rapid benefits; those that don’t will face some very tough issues and difficult decisions. As a business owner or CEO, it’s going to become crucial that you have a better understanding of the impact that digital technologies will have on your business, and we would be pleased to advise you on options and solutions that we at KeySo Global can help you with. Don’t hesitate to contact us at or give us a call at +1 847-478-1633 for an initial discussion and assessment. Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global LLC

Can your business be WikiLeaks proof?

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

The recent release of embarrassing U.S Government State Department cables by WikiLeaks and selected news media have been followed avidly by mainstream media. Now Forbes magazine has published a scoop interview in London with Julian Assange, the leader of the organization behind the leaks. In this interview Julian identifies that his next focus, for what he describes as Mega Leaks, will be big business. WikiLeaks is no stranger to exposing corporate wrong doing, as shown by the revelations about the collapse of Iceland’s Kaupthing Bank and the funneling of money to the proprietors and companies that they owned, or the Swiss Bank Julius Baer’s offshore tax activities. In Julian Assange’s words “WikiLeaks means it’s easier to run a good business and harder to run a bad business and all CEO’s should be encouraged by this.”
In today’s interconnected world of increased social networking, democracy of information is becoming the new standard. The concept of trust and brand become very critical to a company’s reputation in social media. As an example, the take away from the whole BP Gulf of Mexico issue is “walk the talk”. Despite BP’s best, and in some cases desperate, efforts in social media to contain the situation its focus on its brand image of being green and “beyond petroleum” was never matched by its actions or its commitments; it became hooked on its own brand myth. Environmental groups point out in the blogosphere that BP spent more on branding than renewable energy resources. Now the question of safety protocol violations, after three of the largest oil-related accidents in the past five years, means that BP’s management’s integrity is at severe risk, especially if there are any WikiLeaks.
As a result of the above, C suite executives may have been concerned about the impact of social media and what messages were being broadcast about their business into the digital world. WikiLeaks, however, has just upped the ante on the game completely! With several of our clients, one major problem area that we have identified is that they are not integrating social media as a unified element into their overall business structure and strategy. Brand messages and activity in the real world, online and via other media channels have to be consistent. Dialogues with consumers and business partners have to reflect the culture of the company, the strategic direction and positioning that management is trying to establish. For this to occur it is necessary that employees see a congruency between internal dialogues, external messages and actions taken. Without this congruency, the possibility for misalignment of intent, message and action increases. With the media driven awareness of the prevalence of secure and anonymous WikiLeaks drop boxes and of an organization committed to investigating and exposing unethical, dishonest or inconsistent actions, the opportunity for disgruntled or frustrated whistle blowing employees to ensure democracy of information just exploded exponentially.
In reality, no organization is WikiLeaks proof, despite the best promises of IT and cyber security companies. Today more openly accessible data is being generated within organizations so that it has become impossible to effectively contain and secure it. The best possible line of defense is to maintain consistently open and ethical behavior. CEO’s and boards should give serious consideration to their company’s digital footprint in terms of what their family and friends would think if its behaviors were to become public knowledge tomorrow… because they will!

Should the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) be concerned about HR creating “brand terrorists”?

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

In this global recession, when millions have lost their jobs and are seeking new employment, how many times have you heard the complaint that people apply online for a job with a reputable global company and never hear back? They go to the website, submit their resume and it disappears into the bowels of the corporation with no way to track it or follow up on it. You are at the mercy of the global HR system!

Most job applicants in this situation react the same way as consumers who have become disillusioned and frustrated by poor service or failing products. Understandably, they do not hesitate to tell family and friends about their frustrating experience. Worse, in these days of social networking, they are sharing this experience in online networking groups. This paragraph should be sending shivers down the spine of any CMO reading it!

Most HR functions will argue that they are inundated with applications and have too few resources to respond. Contrast this, however, with the challenges that most CMO’s are facing in this depressed economy. Traditional marketing tools fail to deliver and CMO’s struggle to engage with influential consumers in key social networking groups.

Most social networking and media research indicates that peer recommended brands will be those that succeed in the future. This should be a time when Marketing joins sides with HR to ensure that they are fighting the same battle and not inadvertently creating “brand terrorists” of the future.