The Mountaintop Insights, Inspiration and Perspective for Enlightened Marketers

October 2, 2010

Fall Editorial Schedule for The MountainTop

Filed under: Editorial Schedule,General,Overview — Jeff @ 1:59 pm

For those that know me, I have been going through some personal challenges for the past 2 months and as such, my blogging and core business has suffered. My mother suffers from severe Bi-Polar illness with an alcohol addiction and I have been helping her get back on her feet after leaving her husband of 20 years. Its been very trying but I made the choice to set aside my professional career consciously – knowing full well it could affect my business negatively and it did.

Why am I opening up with something obviously very personal for a blog editorial schedule? Well, its because I’ve learned so much in that time about myself, about my mother and about nature that my perspective on business, marketing and the world has changed a bit; hopefully for the better.

Now that my mother is almost into her own place, I can begin to gain my old stride, deliver more provocative thinking and share the thinking of others with you.

The Fall schedule will focus on 3 main topics:

  1. Natural Selection in Social Media Environments. A further exploration of how the laws of Natural Selection not only apply to Social Media environments, but how we can identify and harness these laws to our advantage.
  2. Online Demand Generation. Discussing advanced techniques for Enterprise companies to improve awareness, social engagement, lead quality and revenue from the online channels.
  3. Spotlights. This is something I have been thinking about for awhile now and I believe its time. So many Enterprise companies are looking for insight past the “How to use Twitter and Facebook” so I am going to really dig into enterprise level issues as well as looking at some low hanging fruit in relation to:
    1. Off the radar social communities worth investing in.
    2. Social targeting: customer and generational segmentation in social marketing
    3. B2B customer behavior and psychology
    4. Enterprise social marketing issues such as managing multiple global brands, social sales, mobile convergence, etc…
    5. Interviews with prominent, thought-provoking B2B and B2C marketing leaders to tap their genius on all of the above and more.

Guest Bloggers and “left of center” Research

I will be inviting some colleagues to blog at The Mountain Top; all Sensei’s in their own rights. One interesting collaboration coming up will explore the Nature of Social Influence to the next level with my good friend Stephane Poirier @ExoPoirier . It should be a great post as Stephane applies some advanced thinking on Chaos and Complexity Theory to the social equation.

Lastly, I am going to bring in some enlightening and sometimes absurd research from other industries and disciplines to try create some new perspective for Enterprise marketers. The whole point is to be able to strengthen your understanding of people and communication channels by looking at what other people are doing and being able to take that learning and apply it for your customers.

Let me know what you want and I’ll find a way to get it for you

Most importantly, if you have ideas or questions you would like me to tackle and blog on, just let me know here by comment or by email jeff(at)senseintegrated(dot)com or on Twitter @jeffthesensei. I can’t promise answers, but what I can promise is a great intellectual and spiritual journey with you to find the answers.

Cheers and thanks for reading. I hope to continue earning that trust into the fall and beyond.

Jeff – Sensei

February 22, 2010

Social (Media) Experience Design Series – Prelude

Just a quick post to highlight the upcoming series on Social (Media) Experience Design. It will definitely be 3 parts, perhaps 4.

  1. Essentials of Social (Media) Experience Design: How to design a social experience from research to strategy to actual execution and management of the experience.
  2. Social Experience Design for Large Enterprise and B-to-B: The self-proclaimed gurus of Social Media would have you believe that the same approach works for all, it doesn’t. Large Enterprise, especially B-to-B, needs a risk managed approach to integrating social media with their communications and marketing. Here’s a hint, it has nothing to do with Twitter or Facebook.
  3. Demand Generation in Social Media Environments: It’s the question on everyone’s mind, how can i get leads and revenue from Social Media? I’ll attempt to clear some of the murk about integrating Demand Generation and Social Media together in both private and public environments.
  4. The Shared Social Experience: Delving into how experiences are shared and looking at human behavior within a shared experience and this can be leveraged into positive customer experiences, trial and rock solid relationships to lead it all back to the almighty dollar.

The first part will be out alter tonight with the rest of the series over the course of the week.

As always, i haven’t cornered the market on wisdom, in fact far from it. You disagree, have insight or want to share on these topics, by all means connect with me. All i can promise is to be good company for you on the path to enlightenment, how and when we each reach that milestone is our own personal journey.


Jeff – Sensei

February 8, 2010

February Editorial Schedule

Filed under: Editorial Schedule,Overview — Jeff @ 12:25 pm

Since Feb is such a short month and we are some ways through it, I want to devote this time to the basics.

Social (Media) Experience Design 101: A 4-5 part series on the basics of good, customer-centric social marketing.

Customer Experience Design for Web 101: A 3-4 part series on the basics of customer-centric web design and approaches.

Online Human Behavior 101: A 2-3 part series exploring the essentials of human behavior and communication in online environments.

Online Demand Generation 101: A 4 part series on the fundamental elemetns to a great demand generation campaign.

Each week we will be covering off a piece of these rather than doing one series per week, unless of course demand is to do it all at once in which case I will get in touch with my french ancestry and capitulate (or drink red wine, whichever comes first).

Jeff – Sensei

Setting Expectations – The inaugural first post

I must admit I dithered just a bit about what to put in my first post. After some thought and discussion with some colleagues, I settled on something simple – set some expectations by creating common understanding. If you are going to invest your time coming here, I want you to have some type of expectation for what you will receive.

What is the Mountain Top?

Think perspective. Depending on where you were in relation to the mountain, it looks and feels dramatically different. If you are at the top, you feel triumphant and exhilarated. If you are clinging to the side you feel determined and cautious. If you are looking at from the base you feel overwhelmed and in awe. Now change from a person to a bird or animal and the perspective changes yet again as do the feelings.
Perspective is the combination of three things:

  • Situation (what has brought me here)
  • Vantage point (who and where am i)
  • Experience (how have my experiences and the experiences of others affected my beliefs)

Take a simple garbage dumpster. A wealthy person looks at is as a disgusting place meant for trash. A homeless person looks at it as shelter from the elements and a source of food. That is the power of being able to understand and change perspective.

What The Mountain Top will deliver is a unique perspective on some very specific areas of online marketing and communications:

  1. Social Media: A term I personally dislike and feel it misrepresents what we are looking for which is to “be social” with our customers. I much prefer Social Experience Design.
  2. Demand Generation: The art of creating demand in customer’s minds for your products, services, and solutions.
  3. Customer Experience Design: The foundation stones of any marketing and communication program. We will explore the soft, dark underbelly of emotional experience design and the human behavior that drives it.

What is Social (Media) Experience Design?

Lets establish a common understanding of the terminology.

  • Social Media: It is a distribution channel for User Generated Content (UGC). That’s it. Most marketers only focus on Twitter, FaceBook and You Tube, but it includes all sorts of various specialty channels, the blogoshpere, and customer communities. Social Media is not new; it has been around since the web began and has always been social. Marketers just took notice because of the sheer number of consumers on the top channels. These top channels are consumer wastelands and at best indifferent to most companies and at worst hostile.
  • Social Media Experts: It is truly frightening to witness what passes for an expert these days. 2000 followers on Twitter does not a Social Media Expert make. We will look at what core skills an “expert” needs and how to spot a gong show before it happens. If the advice has been to use Social Media channels as just another PR outlet, then you should hear the banging of gongs in the background.
  • Social Experience Design: Is the art of creating a positive experience in social channels and the art of creating favorable social environments. It combines a deep understanding of the environment and the customers. It is also about understanding your role as a company in social media environments – that role is the enabler. We will dig deep into human behavior, identify best practices, and examine all sorts of current examples.
  • Favorable Social Environments: Think of these as customer communities, but also places where your brand can flourish rather than struggle to survive. How do you identify external communities and how do you design private ones.
  • Social Experience Strategy: A Social Media strategy is impotent without understanding audience need and the experience you need to create in order to meet that need. How are you going to anchor your appraoch to what the customer holds dear? Who do they trust already? How can our current customers become brand champions for us? Is there such a thing as targeted social (media) experience?
  • Strategic Rationale: I seriously question why many companies even get involved in Social Media. Many times, the compelling reason has been “everyone is doing it, so I don’t want to be left behind”. We are going to look at who is best positioned to be “social” and which companies should save their time, money and brands.  What you should really be asking is how can I develop better relationships with my customers?

The end result of Social Experience Design is an evolved, very different and very personal relationship with potential and current customers. It is full of risk because it exposes us to the unknown in an environment we cannot control. Those who master this environment stand to gain significant advantage over their competitors. Those who go in without a sound, well researched strategy introduce high risk to their brands.

What is Customer Experience Design? 

While the field is fairly mature, I tend to take a different approach to CE than most. It is based on several fundamental approaches to people, even in a B-to-B model.

  1. Emotional Experience: As companies, we have analyzed the bejesus out of our customers spending habits, demographics, psychographics, etc… We understand the rational mind of the customer. The problem is that the customer, often times, is not rational at all (at least to us). We will focus on the dark half of customer experience design, that being the emotional experience. The emotional experience is an enigma wrapped in a mystery. It is the one place, that if we understand, we can make tremendous progress to acquiring and keeping customers. It is the feeling we all have that answers the question “do i feel good doing business with this person?”
  2. Human Behavior: Behind our emotional experience is the behavior that drives us. Why do we do the things we do? How can different situations or experiences influence action? Can we create those specific situations or experiences by better understanding primal drivers and embedded human perceptions? We will explore all sorts of edgy ideas on human behavior and the art of influence.
  3. Customer Centric: This is based on 3 areas of commitment.
    1. Customer Enablement: Focus on clearing obstacles from the customer relationship, enabling ease of access to knowledge, understanding and service. Share power with the customer.
    2. Customer Advocacy: Deep understanding of the customer and the customer’s customers. Investing in the relationship. Being there through thick and thin. Putting their needs ahead of our own by paying it forward.
    3. Customer Relevancy: Ensuring everything is relevant to the customer and their needs; that value is delivered at every step.
  4. Balance: Everything is about balance. Everything. We will look at how to identify what a balanced customer experience is and how we can achieve it. This includes looking at Employee Experience Design (how can we deliver a positive customer experience with disenfranchised employees?)

Sensei Customer Experience Design
The Mountain Top will explore new perspectives and challenge norms around customer experience design. We will look at current examples and identify emerging best practices to dramatically improve the customer (emotional) experience.

What is Demand Generation?

In my experience, this is a practice area that many confuse with lead generation; the two are very different. A lead is something any chuckle-head can get because usually the definition is so broad. “They downloaded a whitepaper, therefore they are a lead!” or “we had 100 people register for this event!”. These are not leads, but they are often precursors to leads or prospects depending where that individual is in their decision-making process.

I have always defined a lead as: An expression of interest to do business with you from someone who is not currently a customer.

What does it mean to have demand?

This is where we start. Demand is simply that; when a person thinks of a business problem or a consumer thinks of fulfilling some kind of need, they seek the solution that is top of mind and has the most positive experiences attached to it. It is about positioning within the minds of specific targeted customer groups. It is about creating groundswell.

How do we generate demand?

Demand generation is a very strategic process. It all starts with knowing your customers (emotional/psychological needs, preferences, and decision making processes being the most important). Contrary to many people’s opinions, I believe this is always an integrated approach combining marketing tactics (both direct and indirect) that have been identified through research as being high potential.

There are a couple factors to my approach that stand out as different and perhaps can help you identify ways to improve your demand generation programs.

  1. Behavioral Profiling. We use this as the basis of everything we do. It gives deep understanding of customer language, behavior and emotional patterns above and beyond what standard segmentation research can provide. It takes a little digging to find a company that can do this, but they are out there.
  2. Customer Experience Design. You are designing a customer experience, not a demand generation campaign. If you change your thinking to this way, the results can be dramatically different.
  3. Think baby steps not giant leaps. I have always carefully managed expectations around Demand Generation to focus on the incremental steps to building a relationship with a net new prospect rather than getting a sale. A sale is the result of the process of building rapport, comfort, and trust with a person and is the essence of long term, profitable customer relationships. If we focus on a sale, we are often disappointed.  A sale is timing. Demand is being top of mind when the timing is right.
  4. Continual engagement. I have seen so many demand generation programs planned without any consideration to ongoing engagement once the “official” campaign has ended. This goes back to timing and that often the timing just isn’t right for the majority of people we connect with, but they still express high interest in our brand. Continual engagement is how we effectively and efficiently continue to foster a positive relationship that will eventually lead to sales. This is a process best addresses by web and social media.
  5. Don’t neglect the website. Most demand generation focuses on getting people to the website, 800 number or retail location. But that is only half the battle, in fact many people who are potential customers already know about you. In my experience embedding a custom new customer engagement process in the corporate website is fundamental to fulfillment. To use a simple metaphor, it is the difference between telling a person to climb a mountain and giving them a sherpa to help them along the way.

These are the kinds of topics I am going to cover off as well as looking at practical applications of these elements in demand generation, case studies, and insights into best practices you can easily integrate into your demand generation programs. These are principles that equally apply to B-to-B and B-to-C models.

Strategic Crossovers

Lastly, we are going to look often at how each of these areas supports and crosses over into the other. For example, I firmly believe that customer experience design is the basis for every success in marketing including social media and demand generation. I also believe you can integrate Social Media into Demand Generation programs very effectively to close the loop between the two and justify entry into Social Media.

It’s all about you.

This blog is about paying it forward and sharing all of the knowledge and experiences I have gained. I won’t be able to cover everything myself and often, I will bring experts in specific fields into The Mountain Top to delve deeper into these subjects.

Many times you will have questions or issues that I haven’t covered, I want you to feel comfortable asking questions via comments or this question form. I will respond on the blog within several days to answer your questions as best I can.

I am not promising enlightenment, but hopefully we can travel that path together and uncover the answers for the betterment of all.


Jeff – Sensei

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