At The End Of The Day:

All that matters is: Can you deliver? I have run into several challenges over my career from jealous territorial co-workers, political positioning and the only advice I can provide is to persevere because at the end of the day all the matters is who can deliver.

Every time I have been asked to build out a team it is usually because there are no funds, no strategy, and resources that may not be motivated or appropriately aligned. One time I came into a position and found myself sitting across a table with two senior professionals and an overworked IT manager discussing in excruciating detail the most minor of issues for 90 minutes. I could tell from the look on their faces that they had been beaten down, had no direction and exhausted from not being able to get anywhere. At the end of that meeting I just looked at them and said. “At the end of the day. ”It doesn’t matter how big our team is, how much money we have or how important our jobs are to this company.” “The only thing anyone cares about is if you can get shit done.” If you can’t deliver then nothing else matters. Plus starting in a new role, I wanted to have fun. “And the way that I have fun is feeling a sense of accomplishment by getting shit done.”

I didn’t realize what impact that statement had on these people at the time but months later I found they had adopted the phrase “Get Shit Done” and would often repeat it back to me as if it were a proud war cry. It even go abbreviated to the point where we would just say “GSD” and get to work.

What we did next was put together some plans of items we thought were needed and then started executing against those plans to deliver. Rather than having endless debates about a column widget wasn’t formatting with a particular font we stepped back and focused our energies on upgrading the entire platform that resolved over 2000 bugs and provided additional features that were more valuable than that one widget.

Six months with $132,000 later we upgraded the community platform, fixed over 2000 bugs, implemented a totally new design with new navigation and dozens of new features. Our little team of three had done more in six months than had been done in the previous four years combined. And it was all because they believed they could. It was disruptive, it wasn’t without battles but it got attention that I hadn’t originally expected. I now had teams with budgets in the millions and dozens of resourced coming to me and asking how we got so much done with so little. I still don’t know the answer but I think it was because we were having fun. And because we were being successful at completing things it just gave us more motivation to keep going and do more.

The next year we had to continue to fight even though our little teams success had gotten the attention of the entire executive team. But we still didn’t have a budget and or any additional investment to keep up with our plans. With the help of my VP, we just keep pushing and pulled together an roadmap and investment plan that we thought would get us started. It took about 10 months of persistence but we finally got what we asked for and more.

The next year our little team of 3 with a $150K budget exploded to an international team of 10 with a $5.6M investment. I like to think we were the little engine that could. And it was all because we “Got Shit Done” and continue to do so today.

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Social Intranet: Plan For Success

It was funny after all the team did to prepare and plan for any type of risk or failure during our social intranet rollout we forgot to plan for success. I guess we all assumed that something was bound to go wrong and many things did but we actually didn’t think, worry or plan for what would happen if the social intranet was wildly successful. And it was. Even before we had completed bring the site online we were already getting questions from employees. Where can I find employee resources?. How do I post? Can I upload a new profile photo? Can I create a group for my team? Yes, Yes and Yes! This is exactly the type of interaction and excitement you want to create around any engagement marketing program. The problem was we actually, didn’t factor in how much that demand would be and how much time it would take us to help field all the requests.

Thankfully, our power users who we kept engaged throughout the project really jumped in and to our surprise employees started answering each others questions. We had hoped that this would be the case but it exceeded our wildest expectations. All the benefits we had communicated to the executive sponsors around cross team collaboration, breaking down communication silo’s, nurturing teamwork and fostering innovation was happening much faster that we anticipated. We had expected this would be the case but there is always the wild card factor and that is the employee. If the communication isn’t clear and excitement isn’t there may not be the motivation for employees to adopt a new and modern way to work. But there was, is and continues to be.

In the last three months the social intranet has been adopted by all 65,000 employees worldwide and have made it their own. The phase from the movie Field of Dreams, “Build it and they will come” doesn’t work often when converting traditional marketing programs to a modern social platform but in this case it was true and worth all the effort and frustrations to see through the teams success.

I’ll be speaking more about this and customer experience at the Execunet Event this Friday October 17th at the Waltham, MA Conference Center. Look forward to seeing you there.

“Get Shit Done!” Social Community Marketing

I have been thinking about writing a Social Community Marketing called Get Shit Done! I had planned to write about 60000 words but now I’m thinking less is better. The name was the unexpected result of a conversation I had with my team three years ago. I had just joined a new company and took over leading community strategy which hadn’t had much attention. It was pretty clear that the team was frustrated, wasn’t able to make any progress and couldn’t get consensus on where to start. As I listened to the discussions I said something rather innocent but would serve as the teams motivating rally cry.

I think it started with something like, “First life is to short not to enjoy what you do and we should be able to have fun doing it. What makes what we do fun is having a sense of accomplishment and seeing you are making progress. And at the end of the day it doesn’t matter how big your team is, or how big your budget is or how important your project is the company. The only thing that matters is who get’s shit done! That’s it.”

After not being able to make any progress, our little three person team was able to scrap up $150K budget and proceeded to do more in the next 6 months than had been accomplished in the previous 4 years. That got some peoples attention not to mention that the team began to feel really good about what we were able to accomplish and were excited to start planning out the next program and roadmap of items to address. So the next year our little team got some assistance with an executive sponsor and were able to add headcount and increase our budget significantly. But be careful what you wish for that meant there were expectations to achieve and achieve rapidly.

Well we did that as well knocking out the quickest social community deployment in history of the company within 4 months from the time we signed the contract to go live. BAM!… That has led to many other fun projects but the rally cry is still at the heart of what we do. Get Shit Done!…

So, I thought it would be good to write all this down and actual share from someone who has actually done it. I don’t know about you but I am tired of these so called Guru’s who what to give you advice when they haven’t ever even managed a marketing program ever let alone had to launch a social initiative. Oh and for the record. If you refer to yourself as a Guro or a Social Media Expert, your resume immediately goes in the trash. Because no one is the master of anything and if you aren’t still learning then you aren’t trying.

Stay tuned for more… I am researching self publishing even though I have a few contacts but will start releasing chapters here as I feel the are ready for reading.

Web 2.0 is Dead

You Don’t hear much about web 2.0 which was all the rage a few years ago. The concept of having a dynamic content management system for frequent updating to keep the content of a website dynamic and fresh is no longer sufficient. Technology moves fast and you can’t get any faster than real-time dynamic user generated content. This is why web 2.0 is dead and community 2.0 is alive and thriving. The introduction of Twitter and the mobile evolution has changed the way we consume data. We expect it to be dynamically served to us based on our preference and then we will engage when we find something interesting.

A recent Havard Business Review blog post by Bill Lee Marketing is Dead made me really start thinking about tis as I thought traditional marketing was dead 4 years ago. The more I thought about it the more I realized that not only is the way we market dead it has changed to how we engage and build relationships. So, what is next? Peer review and collaboration and I don’t think you have to look further than Amazon.com to find example of this as rudimentary as it is. Taking the web 2.0 platform and integrating a robust community experience is where digital marketing is headed. We as consumers don’t want to receive email blasts anymore and we don’t want to download your latest whitepaper. What we want is to search, find and discuss and you can’t do that with a static website.

If we look at consumers (inclusive of B2B as well) buying process, what we find is a desire for confirmation that the solution we have found via search is indeed the best fit for our need. That confirmation comes from peer review and user generated content. When I find a product that I believe has the specifications to suite my desire I want to talk to someone else who already bought the product and can verify if it was good, bad or ugly. What you will see companies doing very soon is integrating their social and community member discussion into their product pages on the website so there can be this dynamic user generated content to help confirm a prospects solution.

This accomplishes a few things. It opens up the transparency of your company product line to peer consumption and advocacy engagement with other potential prospects, ultimately shortening your sales cycle. Traditional marketing use to spend hours of effort finding and writing case studies for customers, then hoping others would read them. The case study is dead. Eliminate the middle man and put your prospects in direct contact with your brand advocates and let them sell the solution for you. While you’re at it put your customers in direct contact with your product engineers for dynamic product innovation.

This isn’t all without effort, but it will be a more efficient use of marketing dollars and with an infinite return on investment. A robust community, community management , content curation and strong advocacy program will be needed but you and your target audience will appreciate the direct access and honest engagement.

Gamification for Communities

A few weeks ago we integrated the Badgeville gamification engine into our Jive community to recognize, award and motivate our community members for their participation. We launched project R.A.M.P official this week and our largest event in Las Vegas… So far the results have been nothing short of outstanding. The interest and excitement from our members to participate in the defined missions far exceeded my expectations. I haven’t had a chance to deep dive into the data analytics just yet but preliminary results suggest more members are interested in completing and viewing the profile as well as an increase of 25% in reply to discussions. I am a firm believer that social media and community programs are complimentary to existing traditional marketing programs. So, when we decided to launch rewards and recognition at our event it not only created an excitement for those attending the event it provided a renewed interest for engagement. 

It is a simple concept to recognize those who contribute the most and adding a leader board which features those members as the most active contributors seems to be a big kudos the our community members. However, the most intreguing result has been the outreach of our community members suggesting missions and actions that they would like to participate. Many of these comments have helped us define our Elite Program to engage our most active contributors. They have requested everything from speding a week in our development labs, to getting access to product engineers as well as roadmaps. This is exactly what technical community engineers and professionals want and what most companies would love to have. A passionate and experienced customer base to help innovate better products. When I launched communities five years ago the primary purpose was to connect our customer base with our product management teams for real-time product evaluation and feedback throughout the developement cycle. This agile methodology not only allows our customers to feel more engaged and responsible for the products they are implementing but also help innovate better features for product releases.

 

Stay tuned for more as I continue to monitor the progress and have a chance to provide some in depth metrics from our results.