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Tim Peter

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August 5, 2020

How To Run Your Business As If Google Didn’t Exist (Thinks Out Loud Episode 298)

August 5, 2020 | By | No Comments

Google didn't exist: Google logo

Google is dominant. Google is the beast your industry’s 800lb. gorillas have nightmares about. They’re incredibly strong. But Google’s strength is incredibly brittle. In theory, Google could fail tomorrow. They’re a one-product company. They the vast majority of their revenues from one product: Advertising. What if they went away tomorrow? How could you run your business if Google didn’t exist?

While that might sound far-fetched, it’s not crazy to think about how to end your dependency on Google. Or Amazon. Or Facebook, Expedia, OpenTable, or whomever else you depend on today. In fact, it’s critical for you to think about how you could run your business if these giants didn’t exist.

How can you do that? How can you run your business as if Google didn’t exist. The latest Thinks Out Loud takes a look for you. Want to learn more? Here are the show notes for you:

Relevant Links — How To Run Your Business As If Google Didn’t Exist (Thinks Out Loud Episode 298)

Thinks Out Loud is sponsored by SoloSegment: SoloSegment increases large-enterprise, B2B website conversion with easy-to-install software that automatically connects website visitors to the content they need to see to achieve their goals. SoloSegment does this using anonymous data and machine learning ensuring privacy compliance, addressing the many anonymous visitors, and improving the efficiency of marketing teams. Visit SoloSegment.com.

Subscribe to Thinks Out Loud

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Past Insights from Tim Peter Thinks

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Technical Details for Thinks Out Loud

Recorded using a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Mic and a Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface into Logic Pro X for the Mac.

Running time: 19m 39s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes, the Google Play Store, via our dedicated podcast RSS feed (or sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player at the top of this page.

Transcript: How To Run Your Business As If Google Didn’t Exist (Thinks Out Loud Episode 298)

Well, hello again, everyone. And welcome back to Thinks Out Loud your source for all the digital marketing expertise your business needs. My name is Tim Peter. This is episode 298 of the big show. And I think we’ve got a really cool episode for you today. I think there’s some amazing, amazing stuff to talk about that has enormous implications for your business.

And I want to start off by telling you some numbers. So the first number is $18.7 billion. The second number is $35 billion. The third number is $38.6 billion. The fourth number is $59.7 billion. And the fifth number is $88.9 billion. So 18.7 billion 35 billion, 38.6, 59.7 and $88.9 billion. Those are the earnings that were reported by, respectively, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Apple, and Amazon Facebook’s at $18.7 billion. Microsoft at $35B. Google at $38.6B. Apple at $59.7B, and Amazon at $88.9 billion for the quarter, which holy crap, right?!? That’s a lot of money.

Alright, I have one last number for you. And that is minus 2%. Now that last number is Google’s earnings compared to last quarter, they fell by 2%.

Now that may not seem like a big deal, but 2% decline is about $780 million, a little over three quarters of a billion dollars. I don’t care who you are. I don’t care how big your company is. I don’t care how much money you make. Three quarters of a billion dollars is a lot of money. And this was the first quarter in Google’s 22 year history that their ad revenue has not increased. It actually fell a pretty fair amount. Their overall revenue was down about 2%. Now that’s crazy.

And there’s two things that I want to point out about this. And I want to talk a bit about why these numbers have relevance to your business. The first is that Google is a one product company. They make almost all of their revenue from search ads, from advertising specifically, but largely search ads.
Of the Frightful Five, with everything going on with digital transformation right now, they’re the only one who saw a decline in revenues in the quarter. Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, all made more money. Google did not.

The second is their earnings were solidly in the middle of the pack. You know, I mean, they’re, you know, they’re a little bit better than Microsoft. They’re twice as large as Facebook. But they’re half the size of Amazon in terms of revenues. And you know, only about 60 percent the size of Apple.

We think of them as being so dominant. We think of them as being so strong and yet really that strength is incredibly brittle. It’s built entirely on one product, on advertising. They’re an easy company that they could easily break. I know this is bizarre to think about, but Google could vanish tomorrow. If we all woke up tomorrow and decided we were going to search on Bing, or we were going to search on DuckDuckGo. Or we were going to search on, oh, I don’t know, pick any other search engine you can think of, you know, we all want to start using, I don’t know, Baidu, Google would be screwed because their, their revenues would fall to the floor rapidly. And we just saw it. I mean, they didn’t go away completely, but they fell for the first time in the 22 year history of the company. Why? Because advertisers started advertising other places or stopped advertising altogether because of all of the challenges that are going around.

And one of the reasons that they’re so paranoid, one of the reasons that Google is so competitive is because other companies really are out to get them and really they could go away incredibly quickly.

Since I’ve started this show with numbers, do you know how much Google pays Apple to be the default search engine on iPhones and iPads every year? The numbers are a bit sketchy, but it’s certainly north of $7 billion. TechRadar had a story the other day because of a, the antitrust investigation that’s going on in Britain that Google pays Apple, at least 1.2 billion pounds, which is about a billion and a half dollars, to be the default search engine on iPhones and iPads, just in the UK. And I’ve seen numbers that say as high as 9 billion to $12 billion in the past.

Now, is that a sign of a company that’s confident in their ability to compete?

Or are they saying, no, we recognize if we lose that traffic, we’re in really, really deep trouble. And that’s why Google competes so ferociously because they have to. And they’re going to do a lot to be even more competitive, you know?
In their most recent earnings calls, Sundar Pichai was talking to financial analysts and he said, you know, "on shopping," this is a quote, "on shopping users come to Google to find a lot of the products they are looking for, but we see an opportunity to invest and make the experience it’s better." Google’s saying out loud, "Wow, we need to do more to get people to come to us when they shop."

Here’s what, here’s how we continued. "Sometimes the journeys may fail because they don’t find what they’re looking for. So we want to make sure it’s comprehensive when people find what they like, we want to make it simple for them to transact. And so working on that end to end experience has been a big focus."
Right? It’s not like they don’t know that Amazon is twice the size that they are. They get that that’s a problem. He continued by saying the early early indications are that "…users are responding positively, both in terms of user engagement and more importantly, giving value back to merchants for their investment there. In some ways it’s a return to our first principles. We want to ensure that Google is the best place for merchants to connect with users."

Again, they know that they’ve gotta be in the middle. They have to be there or else they’re in big, big, big trouble. Now contrast those comments with what Amazon’s CFO Brian Olsavsky said on their recent earnings call. He said demand is still super high. "Well, we’re seeing it’s driven by Prime members and Prime member engagement. They’re shopping more often. They have larger basket sizes. There’s still a heavy component of online grocery sales tripled year over year in the quarter, as we added capacity there." Which is crazy.

Olsavsky also said, and I am not kidding, this blew my mind, that they cut marketing spend in the most recent quarter two. And this is a quote, "to manage demand." In other words, the demand that they’re seeing has exceeded their capacity to meet it. So they cut marketing to slow down demand. That’s crazy.
Wouldn’t you love to have that problem right now that you can say, you know what? I really need to cut my marketing spend because too many people want to buy from me. That’s nuts. Anyway, Olsavsky also said "Prime membership and the acceleration we saw in the U S or worldwide, it’s just another encouraging sign. We think there’s still a lot more value we can add to that program."

So Amazon is saying we’re winning, we’re winning big time. And we’re going to still try to do better. Google is saying we’re losing and we need to do better. And that’s the reality. These are companies that are making billions of dollars per quarter, you know, billions and billions of dollars. And they’re still trying to improve.

So the question I would pose to you is imagine Google went away. What kind of business would you create? What kind of interaction would you create with your customers if you didn’t have Google? And if you prefer, you know, substitute Amazon for that, or substitute Facebook for that, or substitute Expedia or Booking.com or OpenTable, or, you know, whatever intermediary you deal with on a regular basis. What kind of relationship with your customers would you build if they didn’t exist?
Now you say, well, that’s crazy. It couldn’t be done.
Nonsense.

First of all, it was done before they ever came along. And secondly, the there’s a great article in a journal in a, in an online publication called The Information. It is a paid media channel, but you can view one article by giving them an email address. And I will encourage you to see the article that I will put in the show notes that talks about how Airbnb is trying to structure their company as one that lives without Google. What would their relationship to customers be without Google? Now again, Airbnb sure. Big company. But how did they get to be the size that they are? By going directly to consumers in the first place and saying, they’ve said it in the article that they got to dependent on Google and now they want to be less dependent on them.

What does all this mean for you? Well, first, none of this means that Google is going to lose. I mean, who would you rather bet on? The company that’s leading the race or a scrappy underdog, who’s willing to do whatever it takes to avoid losing. You know, I know Google might have only brought in $39 billion last quarter. I mean, gosh, that’s a terrible situation. Right. But do you really think that they want that number to get smaller? Yeah, me neither. Of course they want to grow that. So I don’t think by any stretch that they’re out of the race or they’re going to fail tomorrow.

I’m saying they could. And I’m also saying that you don’t have to contribute to their continued dominance any more than you need to. I realized that probably sounds a little contradictory. I’m not saying don’t use Google. There’s a lot of really good reasons to use Google. You know last week and the week before that, and the week before that, I talked about how you can use Google’s data to get a better understanding of your customers. And I think you should totally do that. I think you should continue to do that.

But what you also need to do is think about what Amazon is doing. Think about what Airbnb is doing. Think about what other successful businesses that you know are doing. And the first of those is they’re building direct relationships with customers. You need to build direct relationships with your customers. And I know that may seem hard given everything that’s going on right now, but there’s this old adage you’ve undoubtedly heard. I’ve probably said it on the show before that the best time to plant a tree is 10 years ago. The second best time is today.

So grow your email list. Start a loyalty program, right? You think of Amazon Prime as being this really big, huge thing. And Amazon is looking for ways to continue it because they see that people who participate in the loyalty program actually buy from them more often.

Now there are two ways to build a loyalty program. I don’t want to go down this rabbit hole too much on today’s episode. But you basically can think about loyalty programs working one of two ways. One is a rewards program, which is the way many work if you think about airlines and hotels and the like, you know, you stay with us, we give you points. You can later use those points as currency to buy more hotel stays or more airline tickets or other things, gifts and stuff like that.

And then the other way is a recognition program, which is really the way Prime works more, which is you recognize your customers. And they gain benefits for being loyal customers, as opposed to gaining points that they later trade in for something.
I know a small farm stand that’s not far from where I live, that has a loyalty program. That is a recognition and rewards program. So you can do this as a small company. If you are a small business, you can do this as a mid sized business. You can do this in B2B. How do you recognize your best customers? How do you reward them for continuing to do business with you?

Next thing that you need to do is you need to build your brand. Now, this actually has more to do with Google than anybody else, but in a world of search, you really want people searching for your brand. Of course you want to gain top of funnel. Of course you want to gain people who may never have heard of you. But you want to be sure that when people are looking for a product or service that you offer, it’s much better if they’re actually looking for you by name than if they’re just looking for the category. Because if they’re looking for you by name, the odds are they’re going to come directly to you. If they’re looking for the category, the odds are that they might come to you, but they will also see all of your competitors. And again, you become more dependent on Google picking you to be the winner. If you want to run your business as though Google didn’t exist, don’t depend on them to determine that you’re the best answer. Be the best answer for your customers. Be the brand that they search for and that they seek out.

You also, to do that, you have to use data, use search data, use social listening data. As I’ve talked about the last few weeks to understand the questions your customers have. Then answer those questions, help your customers get the answers that they need, and succeed at their objectives.

You can compete. You can do this. I can point to case study after case study and real world examples, not just like academic case studies, but real world examples of companies who are succeeding with this every single day, including my own business, people come to us directly, right? Hotels that I work with, people come to them directly. Hotels that I don’t work with. Small businesses that I work with. Large businesses that I work with. People seek them out directly.

The point isn’t to beat Google. The point is simply to do what’s best for your customers and build your brand and build direct relationships with them so that it doesn’t matter whether or not Google exists at all.

And since I opened the show with numbers, I want to wrap up with one last number. And that is if you put your focus on your customers, if you run your business as if Google didn’t exist, then the only number that you’re going to have to worry about and the one that you’re going to be most happy with will be the one that’s in your bank account.

Now looking at the clock on the wall, we are out of time for this week. I want to remind you that you can find the show notes for today’s episode, as well as an archive of all past episodes by going to TimPeter.com/podcast. Again, that’s TimPeter.com/podcast. Just look for episode 298. While you’re there, you can click on the subscribe link in any of the episodes you find there to have Thinks Out Loud delivered to your favorite podcatcher every single week.

You can also find Thinks Out Loud on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher Radio, Overcast, wherever fine podcasts are found. Just do a search for Tim Peter Thinks, Tim Peter Thinks Out Loud, or Thinks Out Loud. We should show up for any of those. I would also very much appreciate it while you’re there if you could provide us a positive rating and review. It helps new listeners find us. It helps us show up better on search on those various podcast hosting services. And it helps new listeners understand what the show is all about. It makes a huge difference to the podcast and I very, very much appreciate it if you do that.

You can also find Thinks Out Loud on Facebook by going to facebook.com/TimPeterAssociates. You can find me on Twitter using the Twitter handle @TCPeter. And of course you can email me by sending an email to podcast@timpeter.com. Again, that’s podcast@timpeter.com.

I’d like to thank our sponsor. Thinks Out Loud is brought to you by SoloSegment. SoloSegment works with large enterprise B2B companies to convert more customers. They use machine learning powered Software as a Service to automatically connect website visitors to the content they need to achieve their goals. They do this using anonymous data and machine learning to ensure privacy compliance, address the needs of visitors and improve the efficiency of marketing teams. You can learn more by going to solosegment.com.

With that, I want to thank you so much for listening for the last 297 episodes and this one specifically. It means so much to me. I hope you have a great rest of the week. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. And I’ll look forward to speaking with you here on Thinks Out Loud next time. Until then please be well, be safe and as ever take care, everybody.

Tim Peter

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July 29, 2020

Four Questions Your Business Needs to Ask Right Now (Thinks Out Loud Episode 297)

July 29, 2020 | By | No Comments

Four questions your business must ask: Customers wearing masks checking into hotelLooking to drive results for your business? Click here to learn more.


Four Questions Your Business Needs to Ask Right Now (Thinks Out Loud Episode 297) — Headlines and Show Notes

How long do you think the current downturn is going to last? How ready are you if you if it lasts for another 6 months? Another year? Longer?

While there’s no guarantee how long this recession will last, there are actions you can take to make it shorter, at least for your business. And those actions start with four questions your business needs to ask right now.

What are those questions? The latest episode of Thinks Out Loud outlines the four questions your business needs to ask right now — and offers some insights on possible answers too.

Want to learn more? Here are the show notes for you:

Thinks Out Loud is sponsored by SoloSegment: SoloSegment increases large-enterprise, B2B website conversion with easy-to-install software that automatically connects website visitors to the content they need to see to achieve their goals. SoloSegment does this using anonymous data and machine learning ensuring privacy compliance, addressing the many anonymous visitors, and improving the efficiency of marketing teams. Visit SoloSegment.com.

Subscribe to Thinks Out Loud

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Past Insights from Tim Peter Thinks

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Technical Details for Thinks Out Loud

Recorded using a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Mic and a Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface into Logic Pro X for the Mac.

Running time: 17m 43s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes, the Google Play Store, via our dedicated podcast RSS feed (or sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player at the top of this page.

Four Questions Your Business Needs to Ask Right Now (Thinks Out Loud Episode 297) — Transcript

Well, hello again, everyone. And welcome back to Thinks Out Loud, your source for all the digital marketing expertise your business needs. My name is Tim Peter. This is episode 297 of the big show. And thank you so much for tuning in. I know I say it every week, but I really appreciate it. I just wouldn’t do the show without you.

And I think we’ve got a really cool show for you today. There’s some interesting news that is very much worth examining for what it might mean to you as the year goes on. So there was a news story today, originally reported in the Wall Street Journal, and since then has been picked up by a lot of folks, but basically it is that Google announced today that they are going work from home until July of 2021. They’re going work from home. They’re having all their employees work from home for the next year.

Now, this is after people have already been working from home for the last, you know, three or four months here in the States, and they’re doing this globally. And I think there’s a lot to unpack in terms of what this could mean.

You know, the first thing is, does Google know something we don’t. And yeah, the easy answer is, well, probably yeah. I mean, who are we kidding? You know, Google always knows something we don’t. aAnd I have no interest in starting any kind of conspiracy theory. I mean, they probably don’t know anything specifically about what’s gonna happen with COVID and work from home, but they have immense amounts of data. I’m sure there are people searching right now, whether they are healthcare researchers, whether they are office managers, you know, executives or folks tasked with, by executives, with understanding when they can bring people back to the office. And Google is probably using that data to make the best decision they can for their company, given the situation.

And even if Google doesn’t know anything we don’t know — even if Google is not making any decision based on any data — but just based on what they think, their action leads to a number of questions that are worth taking a few minutes to think about.

And the first of these is: Have you thought about how long this situation will go on? How long this will last for your business?

The second question, which I think is equally important is have you thought about how long this will go on for your customers?

And the third question, which is the most important and probably the one that brings those two questions together is have you thought about what your customers needs are for however long this lasts and how you can help fill those needs?

And it’s that last question that I really want to focus on, though I guarantee you, I will circle back to the other two before we’re done.

As we’ve been through this last three or four month period where the world has kind of gone to hell. Well, let me rephrase that. I mean, the world is starting to recover, but here in the States, we’re still kind of struggling through this right now.
And as this has occurred, some businesses have done a masterful job, a really extraordinary job of adapting to the changes we’ve seen to date in customer behavior. Restaurants and retailers who launched curbside pickup or delivery immediately after the quarantine went into effect, small startups and retooled companies who introduced products like masks and the hand sanitizer.

Now are those sustainable actions? That’s a really good question. But I’d argue that any company who pivoted quickly and who continues to pivot quickly, undoubtedly puts themselves in a better position to succeed. Not because the action they took was perfect or the action they took was absolutely the best of all possible actions, but because they demonstrated in that pivot to their customers — and equally important to themselves — that they can adapt, that they can adapt on the fly to the needs of the moment.

There’s this myth in business and one that I subscribed to for a lot longer than I wish I had, but there’s this myth about the perfect strategy, about this ability to predict the future with such precision, that you are — I’m going to borrow hockey legend Wayne Gretzky’s analogy — always going to skate to where the puck is going, not where it is. But if we can borrow from another sports legend, boxer Mike Tyson, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face. And let’s face it, no pun intended there, we all just got punched in the face. All of us. Me too. You know, I typically prefer to talk about my clients and their successes, and the lessons that we learned together. But I’m a business owner too.

My business depends on the success of my clients and when they’re hurting, my company does too. About half of the business that we generate out of Tim Peter & Associates each year comes from the travel industry. Some years a little more, some years a little less. But given what’s going on with the travel industry, that means that about half of our business dropped by a ton. And one of my clients outside of travel ran into some pretty significant challenges as well. We all got punched in the face together at the same time.

So we, the company here, had a few options available to us. You know, we could have fired existing clients who couldn’t afford our services. I could have been a hard ass about payment from folks who were in trouble. I could have, I dunno, tried to ignore the problem. But as the last couple of months have demonstrated, that doesn’t work.

So, you know, we did a few things instead of that. And to be really clear, none of this, not one single part of what I’m going to tell you is to make me or the folks at my company the hero of this story. Because everything we did was inspired by our clients and how hard they were working and how creative they were in finding ways to help their customers, to help their employees and to help their communities.

And in pretty much every case that creativity all started with the same question. And that question was, how can I help?

And so those were the conversations I had with my clients. And that’s the conversations people on the team had with our clients. To listen to them and to find solutions that worked for them and for us. And it seems to be helping them. We only lost one client through the process. And yes, I’m doing this because I’m a nice guy. Sure. Okay. Fine. But also it’s really a poor strategy, you know, if you’re the reason your customers go out of business. Particularly as a consultant, right? But if you work with businesses and you’re the reason they go out of business, that my friends is the definition of a losing strategy. You know what I mean? That’s not a thing you want to do. I want to make sure that any check that any client ever writes to my company is not the last check they ever write. I would rather act like Jack and the Beanstalk. We take that and we plant that to, you know, build a Beanstalk and go find some giants. That’s just a far more interesting thing to me.

We also found some new clients through content marketing. You know, the team has done a really great job of putting together content that answers key questions that customers have, and that helps customers help themselves. And a couple of folks have reached out to us and said, “Hey, can you help us do this for our customers?”

And all of that comes down to listening. There’s this old saying about you have two ears and one mouth and use them in the same ratio. Says me unironically, the guy who hosts a podcast where I talk to you all the time. You’d think I know better. Maybe that’s why I hear the expression, so often. <aybe people are saying to me, “Hey Tim: Two ears.”

Now, I don’t know. But that’s, that’s something where particularly at a time like this, you’ve got to listen to your customers. And there are some very practical and some very pragmatic and some very tactical, functional things you can do right now.

You need to be listening to your customers. And what I mean by that is there is data from search and social listening, you know, there’s some great options here that are free, low cost, and paid. It can be as simple as going to Google, doing a search for keywords that you want to rank for, or that your competitors rank for, seeing what are the questions that people are asking around those keywords, and then creating some content around those questions.

And here’s the thing you’re not necessarily trying to rank in search for that. It’d be great if you did. But that can be challenging, right? What you want to do is create some content that you can use to then promote on social and on other channels, that you can send in an email to people maybe you haven’t heard from for some time. Send them a note that says, “Hey, we just put this together. And I was thinking of you, and maybe this would be helpful to you right now.”

Now if you rank in search? Even better, because you might get some people who, you know, will see you who you might not have reached before. But you’re responding to the questions that you know are relevant.

Obviously you don’t even have to use Google for that. You can talk to some of your customers and say,

“What are the problems you’re having right now? What are the problems you expect to have three months from now? What are the problems you expect to have six months from now? What are the problems you expect to have a year from now? If you were to look back a year from now on where you are right now, what would you have done to get where you want to be?”

Obviously, there’s a ton of great tools out there. You know, a BuzzSumo or Google or Facebook or LinkedIn or Bing or Salesforce.com or MailChimp, plenty of others have done some tremendous work in putting together resources to help businesses of all sizes, figure out how they do what’s right for their business and for their, for their customers.

Salesforce, by the way, I want to give them a huge shout out. I have no relationship to the company, but I think they’ve done a tremendous job with a model that they’ve used that’s very straightforward. They have a three step process:

  • Stabilize
  • Reopen
  • Grow.
  • And for each of those, what do you need to do in each of four areas to make sure you’re doing what’s right for your customers and for your company?

Recap: The Four Questions Your Business Needs to Ask Right Now

And obviously I’m going to link to all of this in the show notes, but all of this comes back to four questions, the three questions from the beginning of the show and the one that I gave you part way through, which is:

  • Have you thought about how long this is going to go on for your business? Where do you need to be three months from now?Where do you need to be six months from now? Where do you need to be nine months from now? Where do you need to be a year from now?
  • Have you thought about how long this is going to go on for your customers and the same timeframes, where are they going to be three months down the road? Where are they going to be nine months down the road?
  • The third question of course is, have you thought about what their needs are and how you can help fill those needs?
  • And the fourth question is how can I help? Not, not, this is not me asking you. This is what you need to ask your customers and listen to what they say. And it’s something you’re going to need to keep asking until we’re through this situation, because how you can help is probably going to change over the coming days and weeks and months.

It’s why listening is so important. It’s why asking is so important because your customers may answer that or may have different questions in September and in November and in January and in April then they’re asking right now, And you have to be prepared to help them as they go. You know, when we talk about the folks who transitioned quickly to delivery or in store pickup, and we talk about the folks who transitioned to making hand sanitizer and making face masks, they were thinking about where their customers were in the moment. And where the moment is, is going to change. Where people are in the moment is going to change.

So I would encourage you to think about how long you think this is going to go on for your business. Think about how long you think this is going to go on for your customers. Think about what their needs are. And think about how you can help fill those needs. And just remember to keep asking them, “how can I help?”

And if you do those four things and react to the answers appropriately, you’re going to put yourself in a good position to be around for a long time. To be able to stabilize. To be able to reopen. And when the time is right — when the market is ready — to be able to grow. And that’s the really exciting thing. You can do this, just do what you gotta do to make it through the crisis. Make sure you’re doing the right thing. Listen to your customers. Respond to what their needs are. And you’re going to be okay.

Thinks Out Loud Outro and Credits

Now looking at the clock on the wall, we are out of time for this week. I want to remind you that you can find the show notes for today’s episode, as well as an archive of all past episodes by going to TimPeter.com/podcast. Again, that’s TimPeter.com/podcast. Just look for episode 297. While you’re there. You can click on the subscribe link in any of the episodes. You find there to have Thinks Out Loud delivered to your favorite podcatcher every single week.

You can also find Thinks Out Loud on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher Radio, Overcast, wherever fine podcasts are found. Just do a search for Tim Peter Thinks, Tim Peter Thinks Out Loud or Thinks Out Loud. We should show up for any of those. I would also very much appreciate it while you’re there if you could provide us a positive rating or review. It helps new listeners find us, it helps us show up better in search on those various podcast hosting services, and it helps new listeners understand what the show is all about. It really makes a huge difference to the podcast overall. I very much appreciate it.

You can also find Thinks Out Loud on Facebook by going to facebook.com/TimPeterAssociates. You can find me on Twitter using the Twitter handle @TCPeter. And of course you can email me by sending an email to podcast@TimPeter.com.
Again, that’s podcast@TimPeter.com.

I’d like to thank our sponsor. Thinks Out Loud is brought to you by SoloSegment. SoloSegment helps large enterprise B2B companies convert more customers with easy to deploy software as a service that automatically connects website visitors to the content they need to achieve their goals. SoloSegment does this using anonymous data and machine learning to ensure privacy compliance, address the needs of your visitors and improve the efficiency of your marketing team. You can learn more by going to SoloSegment.com. Again, that’s SoloSegment.com

With that, I want to say thanks so much for tuning in. I very much appreciate your listening week after week. It means so much to me. I hope you have a great rest of the week. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. And I’ll look forward to speaking with you here on Thinks Out Loud next time. Until then please be well, be safe and, as ever take care, everybody.

Tim Peter

By

July 14, 2020

Two Key Steps Towards Digital Transformation (Thinks Out Loud Episode 295)

July 14, 2020 | By | No Comments

Key steps towards digital transformation: Family members using mobile, tablet, laptop

Looking to drive results for your business? Click here to learn more.


Two Key Steps Towards Digital Transformation (Thinks Out Loud Episode 295) — Headlines and Show Notes

We’re living through tough times. You didn’t need me to tell you that. What you do need are some tips on what you can do about that fact. And, in last week’s episode, I talked about a "first step" that you can do right now to help your business. As a follow-up, here are to more key steps towards digital transformation.

Why is digital transformation particularly important right now? Because no one can go outside. Not your salespeople. Not your team. And, most important, not your customers. You need digital to do the heavy lifting for your brand and your business if you plan to have a brand and a business on the other side of this mess.

How do you do that? The latest episode of Thinks Out Loud gives you two key steps towards digital transformation so your business can benefit.

Want to learn more? Here are the show notes for you:

Relevant Links — Two Key Steps Towards Digital Transformation (Thinks Out Loud Episode 295)

Thinks Out Loud is sponsored by SoloSegment: SoloSegment increases large-enterprise, B2B website conversion with easy-to-install software that automatically connects website visitors to the content they need to see to achieve their goals. SoloSegment does this using anonymous data and machine learning ensuring privacy compliance, addressing the many anonymous visitors, and improving the efficiency of marketing teams. Visit SoloSegment.com.

Subscribe to Thinks Out Loud

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Past Insights from Tim Peter Thinks

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Technical Details for Thinks Out Loud

Recorded using a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Mic and a Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface into Logic Pro X for the Mac.

Running time: 17m 59s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes, the Google Play Store, via our dedicated podcast RSS feed (or sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player at the top of this page.

Transcript

Well, hello again, everyone. And welcome back to Thinks Out Loud, your source for all the digital marketing expertise your business needs. My name is Tim Peter. This is episode 295 of the big show. And thank you so much for tuning in. I very, very much appreciate it. I think we have a really, really cool show for you today.

I wanted to follow up on what we were talking about last week, which were the first steps in digital transformation. You know, something you could do right now, something you could get your hands around and say, we’re going to make this happen, we’re going to start to rethink our business.

And there was this really cool report from The Conference Board. Now you may know The Conference Board, but if you don’t, they produce the Consumer Confidence Index and a fair bit of economic research for businesses all over the world. I mean, they’re really, really fascinating organization that help largely Fortune 500 companies and Fortune 100 companies understand
where the world is going, you know, understand where the economy is headed, understand larger trends. They do a lot of work around human capital, around, you know, what the work force of the future is going to look like, how people will work in the future, how you source your personnel, how you build your business. Very cool organization.

Full disclosure, I do work with them on their Digital Transformation Council and on their Digital Marketing Strategy Council. So I do have a best interest in saying good things about them. But the reality is they’re really, really cool organization. They do some really spectacular research and they have a new report where they talk about how digital transformation is really going to work and, and how companies that are transforming their business are doing so successfully. That’s really the question, right? How do you do this successfully? How do you do this effectively?

And there are three really key findings that come from this report. In particular, I’m going to drill into two of them a little bit in today’s episode

  • One of those is that digital transformation has to be integrated into your business strategy.
  • And the second is that your digital transformation produces the greatest results for your business when it leads to business model innovation, when it leverages the opportunities that digital introduces. In other words, don’t half-ass it, right? What’s the old quote from "Parks and Rec?" It is better to do one thing, whole-assed than a whole bunch of stuff, half-assed right now.

I’ll come back to this in a minute, but this is really key and really crucial. And I think gets to this idea of why digital transformation is so important. This makes total sense in everything I’ve seen with the companies I work with.

So first. I take issue with the idea that it must be integrated within the business strategy, though I suspect this is something of a semantic point. And I’m gonna explain what I mean by that.

The working definition of digital digital transformation that I use is actually quite simple. When you look at Google, if you look at Facebook, if you look at Amazon, if you look at Expedia, Airbnb, Uber, folks like that, they don’t have a digital transformation problem. They’ve grown up in a world where digital always existed. So for you as a company, you have to ask yourself, what would your company look like if you were starting your business from scratch today and then making that happen? So to me, it’s not question of integrating your digital transformation or your digital strategy into your business strategy. It’s that they’re the same thing. They are fundamentally one and the same. Google Facebook, Amazon Expedia, Airbnb, Uber, all those guys take it for granted that digital exists and their business depends on that. If you were going to start your business today, knowing that digital exists, what would you do differently?

So, yes, that’s definitely saying it’s integrated within the business strategy. But it often means that they are moving entirely in lockstep.

Now I do want to say, when I talk about Google or Facebook or Amazon or Expedia or Airbnb or Uber, and I say that they don’t have a digital transformation problem, if we’re being completely honest, that’s not a hundred percent true. As digital has shifted, as what we mean by "digital" has shifted — and you can think mobile or voice or AR or VR or work from home, which is big right now — each of those companies has faced challenges either because customer behavior has also shifted or because new entrance have come into play, you know, Slack, GrubHub, whomever; Airbnb, in the case of Expedia.

If you think about when Facebook went public — and I will link to all this in the show notes — you may remember that they had quote-unquote "difficulties adapting to mobile." Now, this may seem like a long time ago. And in fact it really is roughly eight years ago since they went public Facebook and they were getting absolutely hammered in the press because they didn’t have an effective plan for monetizing mobile traffic for making money for mobile, which is how most people were using Facebook even eight years ago.

Microsoft also had the same problem with mobile. Think about all the number of failed business models that they tried: Windows CE, Windows Mobile, etc. to try to capture business and they failed. Expedia, and to a lesser extent Booking.com, has had a huge problem with Google — and again, to a lesser extent, with Airbnb — kicking its rear end, at least up until this current recession when hotels have come running back to Expedia and Booking.com because they need the help.

But the fundamental point remains digital existed for all of these companies in some form or other the entire time they’ve been around as companies. They didn’t need to adapt to digital. They didn’t need to transform. They built themselves up with digital, at least in the form it existed when they started, as a given. Their digital strategy and their business strategy have always gone hand in hand. They’ve always asked how do we, how do they find and help customers? How do customers look for help in the first place?

So given that let’s look at an example where somebody is doing this right now that’s really cool. Chris Walton, who goes by the handle @OmniTalk on Twitter, had a really cool piece over at Forbes that looked at Lululemon’s recent acquisition of Mirror. Mirror is this smart exercise video panel that you put on your wall and sums it up perfectly. Lululemon makes athleisure wear, right? Athletic wear that you wear for leisure and the like. And a lot of their businesses tied to fitness and, and also tied to retail. And as Walton says, they — Lululemon — are really envisioning a future where retail stores don’t exist. If you look at what’s going on right now with the growth of e-commerce, and if you look at what’s going on right now with people not being able to go into stores, and if you look at what’s going on right now with retail stores, even before the pandemic getting pummeled them, they’re saying if all of those trends exist, how do we continue to engage with customers, sell our products and make money? And so they’re focusing on being a brand that’s all about fitness. And Oh, by the way, here’s a digital platform through which we can a sell you content, which is Mirror’s current business model, and sell your products directly because you’re putting the product right in your home. It’s sort of their version of an Amazon Echo.

Now none of this means that retailers or stores won’t exist. What they’re doing is they’re hedging their bets and asking the question of what their business would look like If retail were to go away and working to ensure their future, if that actually does happen. That is, as my friends in Boston say, "wicked smaht." Like that’s a really good idea and a really good approach.

Will it work? Well, of course it’s too soon to tell. But they’re thinking about it the right way, of what would it look like if digital was the only way we talk to our customers and how can we own that experience?

Now I talked a couple of weeks ago in an episode about the fact that we’ve seen two years of digital transformation in two months. And this is kind of why what Lululemon is saying is great. "How do we become that company?"

Now, as I talked about last week, your customers expect you to help them. They’re stuck at home. They have expectations. They have needs. They’re looking to see who are the companies who are the businesses, who are the people who will help them, who will address those needs will make their lives better, where they are right now. And this is your opportunity, right?

So there are two things you have to do right at the beginning. One I talked about last week, which is to listen to your customers and understand their needs. And the other is to decide where you end up.

Now, in the last episode, I focused more on listening to your customers and understanding their needs. Even though that’s actually the second most important one. I did that because I wanted to give you something you could work on right now. You also really need to be clear on where you want to go as a company. I’d mentioned in last week’s episode, not to chase random ideas that aren’t good for your business.

If you decide where you want your business to be in 90 days, six months, a year, three years, five years, that’s how you ensure you don’t just chase random ideas. Because you will focus on the things or ideally you should focus, on the things that help you move towards those end states you’re looking for now. As you develop a strong understanding of where you want to be and what your customers need, then you’ve got a lot of options available to you.

You can buy capabilities like Lululemon is doing. And there’s loads of examples of that. We’ve got another one just this past week where Uber bought Postmates. They originally wanted GrubHub, but they lost that deal, which is "bad" because they want to get more into not just taking people from place to place, but taking things to people. This may actually work in Uber’s favor since Postmates, even though it’s a lot smaller than GrubHub, has a much broader base of the products that they deliver beyond just food. So this might be one where buying the capability that they were able to pick up is better for them than buying the capability that they originally shot for.
We’ll see how it plays out, but it’s, it’s pretty smart. It’s a way to go about it.

You can also look to own the customer relationship. And I’ve talked many times about how even small businesses can compete with Google or Facebook or Amazon or Expedia or whomever. And the way you do that is by bypassing these larger gatekeepers, by going direct to your customers. Digital allows you to do that.

I’ve also talked lots of times on the show that there are two ways you win on digital one is get big. And one is get niche and yes, there is such a thing as big niche. Think Lululemon with its focus on fitness or Etsy or Reverb — which Etsy owns — with their respective focuses on handcrafted goods or musical instruments and accessories.

Now, focusing on the niche, it’s an outstanding way to own the customer particularly if you can use digital in new or innovative ways to address those needs, which is one of the two things that this Conference Board report said you have to do. And what I’ve seen in the real world that you actually have to do. By the way, I want to be fair, my friend Mark Schaefer rightly points out that you never "own the customer." Notice I’m talking about how you want to "own the customer experience," not own the customer. All you can do in practice is connect with customers successfully enough to where they want to continue coming back to you to solve their problems. You don’t really own the customer. You just create experiences that they want to have again. And again. And again.

So what you want to think about and take away is that when we’re talking about digital transformation is it really is tightly integrated with your business strategy. In many cases, it is going to be a core component and a key driver of your business strategy. Just like I talked about a couple of weeks back in terms of what are the things driving e-commerce the fact that your customers need to work with you this way, and that is going to produce great results for you when you can innovate your business model, giving, given these opportunities.

How do you do that? You decide where you want to be six months, a year, three years, five years from now, and listen to your customers to understand their needs like I talked about last week so that you can connect those two things together. How do we get where we want to go by helping our customers and using digital to do it.

And as you take the steps to do that, that’s how you begin to transform your business. Digital is the driver. But at a fundamental level, this is not about "digital transformation." It’s about "business transformation." And increasingly it’s, about business survival.

Now looking at the clock on the wall, we are out of time for this week. I want to remind you that you can find the show notes for today’s episode, as well as an archive of all past episodes by heading to TimPeter.com/podcast. Again, that’s TimPeter.com/podcast. Just look for episode 295.

While you’re there, you can click on the subscribe link in any of the episodes. You find there to have Thinks Out Loud delivered to your favorite podcatcher every single week. You can find Thinks Out Loud on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, Overcast, wherever fine podcasts are found.
Just do a search for Tim Peter Thinks, Tim Peter Thinks Out Loud or Thinks Out Loud. we should show up for any of those.

I would also really appreciate it while you’re there. If you could provide us a positive rating or review, it helps new listeners to find us, helps them understand what the show is all about and not gonna lie, it makes a huge difference to people listening to the podcast.

You can also find Thinks Out Loud on Facebook by going to facebook.com/TimPeterAssociates. You can find me on Twitter using the Twitter handle @TCPeter. And of course you can email me by sending an email to podcast@timpeter.com. Again, that’s podcast@timpeter.com.

I’d also like to thank our sponsor. Thinks Out Loud is brought to you by SoloSegment. SoloSegment helps large enterprise B2B websites convert more customers with easy to deploy software as a service that automatically connects website visitors to the content they need to achieve their goals. SoloSegment does this using anonymous data and machine learning to ensure privacy compliance, address the needs of your anonymous visitors and improve the efficiency of your marketing team. You can learn more by going to SoloSegment.com. Again, that’s SoloSegment.com.

With that. I just want to say thanks so much for tuning in once again. I very much appreciate you listening. I know I say it every week and I hope it doesn’t ever come off like I’m just reading from a script because I’m not. I very much appreciate the fact that you will listen to the show every single week.
I very much enjoy getting a chance to speak with you. And I appreciate the time you take to listen. So with that said, I hope you have a great rest of the week. I hope you have a wonderful weekend ahead. And I’m looking forward to speaking with you here on Thinks Out Loud next time. Until then, please — especially with all this going on in the world — please be well, be safe and as ever take care, everybody.

Tim Peter

By

July 7, 2020

A Digital Transformation First Step: What You Can Do Right Now (Thinks Out Loud Episode 294)

July 7, 2020 | By | No Comments

Digital Transformation First Step: Woman seeing into the futureLooking to drive results for your business? Click here to learn more.


Digital transformation is a process, not a destination. So, even though we’ve seen “two years of digital transformation in two months,” don’t feel like you’re late to the party. You have plenty of opportunity to improve the experience you provide customers using digital right now. Or, you do as long as you take your first step towards digital transformation.

What tools exist to help you on your journey? How can you begin to create great experiences for your customers? And how can you take your first step towards digital transformation for your company, right now? This episode of Thinks Out Loud is here to help you get started.

Want to learn more? Here are the show notes for you.

A Digital Transformation First Step: What You Can Do Right Now — Headlines and Show Notes

Thinks Out Loud is sponsored by SoloSegment: SoloSegment increases large-enterprise, B2B website conversion with easy-to-install software that automatically connects website visitors to the content they need to see to achieve their goals. SoloSegment does this using anonymous data and machine learning ensuring privacy compliance, addressing the many anonymous visitors, and improving the efficiency of marketing teams. Visit SoloSegment.com.

Subscribe to Thinks Out Loud

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Past Insights from Tim Peter Thinks

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Technical Details for Thinks Out Loud

Recorded using a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Mic and a Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface into Logic Pro X for the Mac.

Running time: 15m 06s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes, the Google Play Store, via our dedicated podcast RSS feed (or sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player at the top of this page.

Transcript — A Digital Transformation First Step: What You Can Do Right Now

Well, hello again, everyone and welcome back to Thinks Out Loud, your source for all the digital marketing expertise your business needs. My name is Tim Peter, this is episode 294 of the big show, and thank you so much for tuning in. I hope you had a great holiday weekend or a long weekend if you celebrated. I know I did; tanned, rested and ready and looking forward to, you know, a really cool conversation today.

So, you know, there's a lot going on, right. We're at the midpoint of the year and it seemed like a good time to talk about what's going on right now. And to talk about what you can do right now.

Difference Between Strategy and Tactics of Digital Transformation — A Digital Transformation First Step: What You Can Do Right Now

When we talk about digital transformation, when we're talking about digital strategy, when we're talking about digital marketing, or things along those lines, a lot of the time I'm talking about the big picture. I mean, the name of the show is Thinks Out Loud, right? These tend to be the bigger view, the strategic view. And I thought it made sense, especially with everything that's going on right now, to talk a little bit about the more tactical view, what can you do right now. Because we have to remember that digital transformation is not a destination, it is a process. It is a thing that you will keep getting better at as your company, as your business, as your brand becomes more natively digital.

And I talked about the key drivers of digital transformation a couple of weeks ago. And as you well know I will link to all of these in the show notes that you will be able to find at TimPeter.com/podcast.

Importance of Customer-centricity — A Digital Transformation First Step: What You Can Do Right Now

But one of those key drivers is customer centricity. And especially with everything going on at the immediate moment, it's really worthwhile to talk about what's important to your customers right now. What is top of mind for them, what is driving their behaviors and their buying patterns and their hopes and their concerns? I mean, we're in weird times. I know you've heard that probably ad nauseam over the last, you know, three months or so.

To that point, my friend Mark Schaefer talks about how in a great post that again, I will link to in the show notes — a great ebook actually — that he put together that's really worth your time — free ebook, no registration required or anything — he talks about how right now we are in the lower part of Maslow's hierarchy. You know, if you think about Maslow's hierarchy, it's a the hierarchy of needs, what is important to you?

And right now your customers care about the things that are fundamental. They care about the things that are most critical to living life. They care about their wellbeing, you know, food, shelter, sleep, they care about their safety, their security, health resources, right? Do they have money and that they seek belonging and yes, they seek love. They're not just concerned about these things for themselves. They're concerned about them for their family. They're looking for a sense of connection to other people, to other human beings.

I mean, think about what's driving all those streaming concerts and all the social media activity that's been going on. Ever since people started quarantining, you know, whether it was their sourdough starter or new cocktails or anything, they just want to belong to a community. So your customer's needs, and let's be fair your needs right now, are fairly fundamental. We're talking about the base level stuff: wellbeing, safety, belonging, love food, shelter, security, health, money, family. Pretty straightforward stuff.

Tools to Assist You — A Digital Transformation First Step: What You Can Do Right Now

And the evidence suggests that Mark is right. Now, there are all kinds of tools that you can use to discover why that is. You know, I talk about why data is the crown jewels a lot. Here's a perfect example of using data. And I want to be clear. There are all kinds of tools you can use. Many of them are paid tools. But I'm going to talk about how you can do this for free. It's going to take 5-10 minutes of your time.

Just go to Google, do a Google search for a term that's important to your business and then do the same search, adding the words COVID or coronavirus.

Now I want to be fair. I rant about Google all the time and the threats that they pose and the challenges that they pose. And let's be fair. I will do that again in the future… possibly as soon as next week. But as I heard someone say recently, we can argue about the color of the drapes when the house isn't burning down. So for right now, let's use Google for what they're great at, and let's use their data to help us understand our customers more effectively.

So pick a term that's important to your business and then do a search for it right on Google. And then on that page, check out, they will have a box either somewhere in the middle of the page, maybe near the top of the page, certainly at the bottom of the page that says something like common searches or related searches and take a look at what it says.

You can also check out question databases, like QuestionDB.io, or AnswerThePublic or use social listening tools like BuzzSumo or Mention. Obviously there's all kinds of tools you can use, like SEMrush or Ahrefs or Moz. But just start with the free stuff, because these are all free and they'll give you some good answers quickly.

Data for Your Customer Journey — A Digital Transformation First Step: What You Can Do Right Now

So I did two different searches; I want to give you two different examples. I chose restaurants for one of them because it's something we all can relate to. And among the popular searches are restaurants near me that are open, restaurants near me open now, restaurants near me that deliver, restaurants near me with outdoor seating. Notice a pattern?

You know, just to mix things up. I did a search for digital transformation. One of the suggested alternatives was "digital transformation COVID" and that had a bunch of ideas like digital transformation post COVID or after COVID, digital transformation due to COVID-19. Again, you get the idea.

What do the searches or social listening tools that you use for your brand and your business tell you about what's important to your customers right now? I'm pretty confident. It's going to show you just like we talked about that they're kind of at that fundamental level. Maybe they have questions about what's in stock or how to actually get your products or services right now while they're distant or maybe they have questions about cleanliness. Maybe they're uncertain about payment terms, given the state of the economy. The point is that your customers have very real questions that are fundamental to their wellbeing for the products and services you make.

Are You Necessary for Customers? Can You Make Yourself Necessary — A Digital Transformation First Step: What You Can Do Right Now

Now it's possible because of what you do, it's possible that you, what you do isn't necessary. This is a great point in Mark Schaefer's ebook, and I highly encourage you to read it again, I will link to it in the show notes. But it's a great point because if you're what you're offering is not fundamental. Maybe the evidence will suggest that you need to start thinking about how to be more fundamental. And if you do offer something that's necessary, but you're not answering their questions about these fundamental problems, you're not in the game.

You have to take a look and say, do you have the content that answers the questions that customers care about? You know, I just talked about "data is the crown jewels." Well, obviously content is king, right? Yuo need to be there. You don't have to create all the content. You can link to public health sites or partner with others in your community or your industry who can answer the questions that are top of mind for your customers.

Importance of Website and Digital Presence — A Digital Transformation First Step: What You Can Do Right Now

But it's incredibly necessary, it's critical that you're helping your customers with the challenges that they're facing in this moment. We've talked about trying to use digital to do the heavy lifting. Right now, it is a 24x7x365 salesperson. It is a 24x7x365 customer service person. You don't have to worry about it getting sick. You don't have to worry about it getting ill. You don't have to worry about it taking a day off. But you do have to make sure you're providing the answers to the questions your customers have. And when you're doing that, you're demonstrating that you are a valuable resource. You become necessary in the day to day lives of your customers. And that's true, whether you're B2C or you're B2B, because they've got very real needs. They've got very real challenges. They’ve got very real struggles.

Again, I started that, kind of started the show, by talking about the fact that we're all getting fed up by hearing about, "Oh, these are difficult times." Yeah. They are. Great. What are you going to do about it? And more importantly, what are you going to do for your customers about it? Because that's how you use digital in the real world to transform your business. You use the data that your customers create to learn about what's important to them. And where needed to adapt your products and services to meet their needs. And you allow digital to assist them wherever they are in the journey, whether they're just learning about you, whether they're comparing you to alternatives, whether they're thinking about buying, whether they're buying, whether they're using your product, wherever they happen to be. And that means both in the physical world and in their journey where they happen to be.

Conclusion — A Digital Transformation First Step: What You Can Do Right Now

So, yes, I love thinking about the big picture. I love talking about the big picture. We talked about the big picture a lot here, and obviously you want to make sure you're not chasing one thing if it's a short term situation only. But the current situation likely isn't short term. I mean we're three months in and it doesn't look like we're going to be out of it three months from now. So what you have to do is make sure you're setting yourself up to execute against what your customers need.

Use data to learn about what your customers need. Use content to support them. And use digital as a complement to all of the other things you do so that you're helping customers and ultimately helping your business too. Remember it's a process, not a destination. And the only way you're going to get there is by taking the first step. Seems like now is as good a time as any to do that.

A Digital Transformation First Step: What You Can Do Right Now Show Outro and Wrap-Up

Now, looking at the clock on the wall, we are out of time for this week. But I want to remind you that you can find the show notes for today's episode, as well as an archive of all past episodes. By heading to TimPeter.com/podcast. Again, that's TimPeter.com/podcast. Just look for episode 294.

While you're there, you can click on the subscribe link in any of the episodes you find there to have Thinks Out Loud delivered to your favorite podcatcher every single week. You can also find Thinks Out Loud on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, Overcast, wherever fine podcasts are found, you should be able to find us there. Just do a search for Tim Peter Thinks, Tim Peter Thinks Out Loud or Thinks Out Loud. We should show up for any of those. I would also really appreciate it while you're there if you could provide us a positive rating or review. It helps new listeners find us, helps them understand what the show is all about, and it makes a huge difference to the podcast.

Also, you can also find Thinks Out Loud on Facebook by going to facebook.com/TimPeterAssociates. You can find me on Twitter using the Twitter handle @tcpeter. And of course you can email me by sending an email to podcast@timpeter.com. Again, that's podcast@timpeter.com.

I'd also like to thank our sponsor. Thinks Out Loud is brought to you by SoloSegment. SoloSegment increases large enterprise B2B website conversion with easy to deploy software as a service that automatically connects website visitors to the content they need to achieve their goals. SoloSegment does this using anonymous data and machine learning to ensure privacy compliance, address the needs of your anonymous visitors and improve the efficiency of your marketing team. You can learn more by going to SoloSegment.com. Again, that's SoloSegment.com.

With that. I want to say thanks so much for tuning in. I very, very much appreciate listening. I know I say it every week. I know it. But I would not do this show without you listening. I very much enjoy getting a chance to speak with you every week. And I so appreciate the time you take to listen.

So with that said, I hope you have a great rest of the week. I hope you have a wonderful weekend ahead. And I'm looking forward to speaking with you here on Thinks Out Loud next time. Until then please be well, be safe and as ever take care of everybody.

Tim Peter

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June 24, 2020

The Five Drivers of E-commerce and Digital Transformation for Your Business (Thinks Out Loud Episode 293)

June 24, 2020 | By | No Comments

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The Five Drivers of E-commerce and Digital Transformation for Your Business (Thinks Out Loud Episode 293) — Headlines and Shownotes

We’re seeing an enormous shift to digital during the COVID-19 pandemic. But the pandemic is only accelerating that shift. The fact is, we’ve been moving this way for some time. And regardless of what’s most important to your business right now, there are five drivers of e-commerce and digital transformation that will shape your business even once the pandemic is gone — whenever that happens to be.

What are the five drivers of e-commerce and digital transformation for your business? How can you put those drivers to work? And how can you build a plan that sets you up for success now and in the longer term? This episode of Thinks Out Loud takes a look at the five drivers of e-commerce and digital transformation and offers answers to your key questions.

Want to learn more? Here are the show notes for you.:

Relevant Links — The Five Drivers of E-commerce and Digital Transformation for Your Business (Thinks Out Loud Episode 293)

Thinks Out Loud is sponsored by SoloSegment: SoloSegment increases large-enterprise, B2B website conversion with easy-to-install software that automatically connects website visitors to the content they need to see to achieve their goals. SoloSegment does this using anonymous data and machine learning ensuring privacy compliance, addressing the many anonymous visitors, and improving the efficiency of marketing teams. Visit SoloSegment.com.

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Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Past Insights from Tim Peter Thinks

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

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Recorded using a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Mic and a Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface into Logic Pro X for the Mac.

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Transcript — The Five Drivers of E-commerce and Digital Transformation for Your Business (Thinks Out Loud Episode 293)

Well, hello again, everyone and welcome back to Thinks Out Loud, your source for all the digital marketing expertise your business needs. My name is Tim Peter, this is episode 293 of the big show, and thank you so much for tuning in. I very, very much appreciate it.

Introduction to the Five Drivers of E-commerce and Digital Transformation

So I was having a discussion the other day with a client about their digital transformation project and we got into pretty lengthy discussion about the similarities and differences between e-commerce, the shift towards e-commerce, and digital transformation efforts more broadly. And to be fair, both e-commerce and digital transformation share the same five key drivers.

There are differences between them and those differences are meaningful. And I want to talk about those a little bit in just a minute or two. But I also want to talk about what connects them and what's driving them in all cases, in both cases.

Economic Challenges Facing Companies

The big reason that both are so important is because of the changes in the way that you need to operate your business and how critical those changes are right now with the number of people struggling with reduced incomes because they've been laid off, and the lack of business, travel and conferences to drive sales. And the decline in customers that result from those realities. You know, there's data from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) , the United States Congressional Budget Office that expects that U.S. consumers will spend on average about $340 billion less each quarter through the end of 2021 than the Congressional Budget Office was projecting just this past January. The same CBO projections — and I will as ever link to these in the show notes — suggest that businesses will invest about $160 billion less each quarter during that same period. So we're talking, you know, a decline of about a half a trillion dollars per quarter for the next 18 months. That's a huge deal.

So whether your business is selling to consumers directly or to other businesses, whether you're B2C or B2B, there's clearly less opportunity than there used to be. And that means you have to find more effective and much more efficient ways to reach whatever customer demand does exist in your market or markets.

Why Digital Matters Right Now for Your Business

And that's why lots of businesses are putting more emphasis on their digital channels: to generate sales and to generate revenues. That's why we're seeing an explosion of e-commerce efforts. That's why we're seeing, as you know, Microsoft said a couple of months back, "two years of digital transformation in just two months."

I know a marketing director from a Fortune 500 company who told me recently that they're spending as much money on their website and on their digital experience this summer as they spent all of last year. Because they need to. A small business owner who I know just hired a full time digital marketer for his team for the first time in this company's history, because they need to be more effective at driving revenues online if they're going to be around, you know, six months from now, 12 months from now.

So I'll get into the distinctions between digital transformation and e-commerce in just a second. But it's important that you realize they share the same five drivers in both cases.

The Five Drivers Explained

Customer Centricity

First and most importantly, they are driven by customer centricity. If digital has created one massive change more than any other, it is that the customer is in the driver's seat today in a way that they never were 30 years ago, 40 years ago. It is all about the customer. Everything you do must be all about the customer. You have to be fast. You have to let people accomplish what they want to accomplish and get back to the rest of their lives. Because if you don't, their ability to check out a competitor of yours is literally and figuratively one click away, right? One tap on the screen away. So customer centricity matters most of all. And companies that understand, these are the ones who are doing well. They're the ones who are saying, "We must listen to our customer. We must learn from our customer. And we must support our customer at every stage of their journey if we're going to survive, thrive and succeed in the long run."

Mobile

The second big driver, and this is one I've talked about a lot — I actually referred to it as Trend Zero — is that "mobile is not a trend." This is really about the continuum of connectivity that customers now have available to them, you know, from mobile phones and tablets and smartwatches to sensors that are embedded in the devices that we interact with and carry with us and ride around in all day every day, whether it's, you know, fitness, trackers or cars or TVs, or other less visible tech. That simple reality of constant connectivity and carrying the internet in our pockets, wherever we go, or on our wrists, wherever we go or in our cars, wherever we go is a massive, massive change that makes a digital focus for your company necessary. And that's especially true of customers who've grown up with mobile and grown up with digital all around them, millennials — or as I call them adults under 40. They take this for granted because it's literally the way the world has worked all of their lives.

Radical Transparency

After mobile, the third driver is the rise of radical transparency. It is a simple fact that customers can find the information they want about your products and services or your competitors' products and services everywhere. All the time, whenever they want wherever they want. It has created a reality — and I've said this many times on the show — where your customers know more about your products and services and prices and features and benefits than most of your employees do — because it matters more to them. This radical transparency cuts in the opposite direction too, because we now have more data about customers than at any other time in history. We know more about their behaviors and their preferences and their actions. Then any marketer in history ever could have known, 50 years ago, a hundred years ago. And this has created complete insight into what our customers want and need just as they get complete insight into what we offer to fill those needs.

Data-Driven Decision Making

The fourth key driver is data driven decision making. If we are collecting all this data and not using it to actually make better decisions, we're wasting one of the most valuable resources we have available to us as marketers and as business professionals overall. It's a huge, huge difference because again, the data exists and the tools exist to interpret that data in an effective way in a useful way. I talked about this on the show a couple of weeks ago about the number of marketers who do not use data in their decision making, or do not always use data in their decision making and why that's such a huge mistake. You know, 10 years ago, I used to order food from a local brew pub and would always want to talk to this one bartender who knew me really well and knew what I liked to order and would ask the right questions because they'd always get the order right. But I had to talk to that one person to be sure I'd get what I wanted. Today, you know, when I call this local restaurant near to me and get takeout, they know who I am, the moment that they answer the phone, because they recognize the phone number in their system. You know, it's screen pops on their POS and says, "This is Tim and we know what he's ordered in the past." And they get my order right every single time. They're using the data to make decisions about how to serve the customer.

Using Data to Enable Business Process Automation

What I just described is really the fifth driver to a certain degree, which is using that data to enable automation. When we think about AI and machine learning and big data and all the other buzz words that go around a lot they're really about letting machines do the heavy lifting on your data to make decisions that can be automated. We're not outsourcing thinking. We're not outsourcing asking the critical questions that drive our businesses. But we are outsourcing answering those questions. You know, I call this show Thinks Out Loud, and I think of you all as "Big Thinkers." And the fact of the matter is you think big thoughts, you think smart questions. And, you know, as recently as six months ago or a year ago or two years ago, to get the answers to those questions could require incredibly, incredibly heavy lifting from your team and from the people who worked for your company. And frequently today because of more intelligent systems, you can essentially get the answer to your question at the press of a button. And obviously when you scale up to really good sized data sets and data science and the like you can get deeper, richer answers to those questions because you're automating the process of getting the answer.

So those are the big drivers, regardless of whether we're talking e-commerce or whether we're talking digital transformation, it's the same five drivers:

  1. Customer centricity
  2. Mobile
  3. Radical transparency
  4. Data driven decision making, and
  5. Using that data to enable automation.

Difference Between E-commerce and Digital Transformation

Now I started at the beginning by saying how e-commerce and digital transformation are different. So where do they differ and why is this difference important? Well, when we talk about e-commerce, you're really talking about how do you improve the customer experience through your sales channels, through your online sales channels. You're really thinking only about one or maybe a handful of touch points for the consumer and mostly during the purchasing process. Whereas digital transformation is really about re-envisioning your business from the ground up.

You know, e-commerce doesn't necessarily drive changes in, for instance, your HR policy. By contrast, digital transformation really cuts across the people, your processes, your platforms, and your products. It's not just a technical thing. It's not just a one channel thing. It's using digital to improve all the areas of your business and addressing all of the financial and legal and cultural and human aspects associated with those.

Now, why does this distinction matter? Because it's important that you recognize whether you're transforming sales and marketing or whether you're transforming your business as a whole.

Definition of Digital Transformation

I'm generally fond of saying that companies like Google and Facebook and Amazon and Netflix and Uber and Airbnb and all their other digitally native brethren don't have a digital transformation problem because they all came into being at the same time that digital became a way of life for companies and customers alike they are, as I just said a moment ago, digitally native. And most legacy companies — actually by definition — legacy companies are not. And so digital transformation is the process of envisioning and enabling what your company would look like if you were just starting business today, if you were the proverbial couple of folks in a garage. What would your company look like if you were starting from the ground up right now?

And that's really the difference that we're talking about. Now to be totally fair. I'm guilty of, of conflating the two terms myself. Episode 13 of this humble, this very podcast from Oh God, seven and a half years ago (!) was called "It's All. E-commerce," which has long been my mantra for explaining the fundamental shifts that digital has caused over the last 20 years or so. Because when customers are interacting with all kinds of elements of your business, using whatever tool is available to them, whatever digital tool is available to them, your facilitating a deeper, richer customer experience that meets their needs when and where they are. Which leads to more loyalty, which leads to more sales, which is why it's kind of all e-commerce right.

And certainly when we talk about, you know, offline sales, we know today that they're heavily digitally influenced. So "it's all e-commerce." And let's be really fair, many digital transformation efforts have started within companies because of e-commerce experiences exposing holes in your system or in your processes or in your overall customer experience. And that means you have to improve back office stuff or fulfillment or supply chain or products or HR, or the people processes that support those so that you can actually fulfill on what your customers want.

Why You Must Respond to the Five Drivers of Digital Transformation and E-commerce

Of course, at this point, it's fair to ask. Why do you need to respond to these drivers, to these five drivers, whether it's e-commerce or whether it's digital transformation, why is it important you respond?

And the simple answer is because your customers expect you to. As I said a few minutes ago, your competition is simply one click away or one screen tap away. The reason the big guys are winning or a big reason the big guys are winning — and by the big guys, I mean the Apples and Googles and Facebooks and Amazons and Microsofts and Netflix's and Uber's and Airbnb's and the like — are winning is because they understand these trends and have adapted to them, or have built themselves from the ground up to do well. They're investing heavily and they've set themselves up to reap the rewards. Now I've talked about it all the different ways they do that in the past. And I will link to them all in the show notes. But the most important thing for you to take away is that you can do the same thing.

Those of you who have listened to the show or read the blog regularly over the years, probably you're thinking, well, you're probably going to say "Content is King. Customer Experience is Queen. And Data is the Crown Jewels." And, yes, those are incredibly important. They come later though. They're a set of guiding principles you can use to respond to those five drivers. You know, they're kind of key to your response to the five drivers.

How to Respond to the Five Drivers of Digital Transformation and E-commerce

But I think for many people and really the crux of the conversation I was having with a client the other day is how do you get started? Yes, we know content is king. Yeah, we know customer experience is queen and yeah, we know data is the crown jewels, but where do you begin? And like any good strategic initiative, there's really a very simple process for how you deal with this.

Define Your Objectives

First, you have to define your objectives. Whether you're talking a commerce or whether you're talking digital transformation, what are you trying to accomplish? What does success look like for your business? Are you trying to simply survive or you trying to thrive? And let me be abundantly clear. Given the current state of the economy that I talked about at the beginning of this episode, there is nothing wrong with simply surviving right now. As my friend Mark Schaefer says, if you don't get to the other side by definition, you cannot thrive.

You also need to be thinking about the longterm to what are your longterm objectives? Where do you want to be in 10 years time? Do you want to be in three years time? What is success over an extended period, look like in addition to what does success look like for the next six months? How do you ensure you're still in business? So first again, you have to define your objectives.

Assess Your Current State

The second is you have to do an honest assessment of where you are right now. You know, start with where are you so good that customers would be foolish to choose your competitors? And then ask, where are your people and your products and your processes and your platforms lacking. You know, where are you weak enough that customers would be foolish not to choose your competitors? If you can't do that honest assessment — if you don't do that honest assessment — you won't be able to understand the gap between what those objectives are and where you are at the moment.

Identify Obstacles Preventing Your Digital Success

And then once you understand those two things, take a good look at what's preventing you from moving forward. Just like the second one, you need to be really honest with yourself. And in that honesty, be aware that, you know, time and money aren't really true limitations. I've done work with six current members of the Fortune 100 in my career, half of whom are in the Fortune 50. And I can tell you that none of these massive organizations ever once said to me, "Oh no, we have all the budget and all the time and all the people we could possibly need to accomplish everything we want to do." Everyone has that problem. Look first at the things that truly stop you. Are your competitors winning the war for talent? Do you lack skills in certain key areas? Have you under invested in new technologies or capabilities? Be clear on what's actually hurting you, what's actually preventing you from reaching your objectives so that you can actually develop a plan that will get you ahead.

Define Your Plan to Close the Gap

And then once you've defined those objectives, once you've assessed where you are, once you've taken a good look at what's stopping you from moving forward, that's when you can put together the successful plan. You can say, "What are the things that get in the way of where we are? And what will help us close the gap between where we are and where we want to be?"

Start with your priorities. What can you do in the next 90 days to fix what's hurting you, what's most important to your business and to go back to one of our drivers, what's most important to your customers?

Summary — The Five Drivers of E-commerce and Digital Transformation for Your Business

So as you think about digital transformation, as you think about e-commerce for your business, you know, recognize that there are these five key drivers customer centricity, mobile, the rise of radical transparency, data-driven decision making and using data to enable automation. Take a good long look at where you're trying to get to where you are today, what prevents you from getting from where you are to where you want to be, and putting together the plan to close that gap. And whether your objectives are to get through the next three to six months or whether it gets through the next three to six years or whether to get through the next three to six decades, e-commerce and digital transformation together are going to help you get there. And they're going to help you get there as long as you do the work to address the reality of those key drivers and create the kind of business that your customers expect. And more importantly given the kind of challenges that people are facing right now, to create the kind of company that your customers need.

Conclusion — The Five Drivers of E-commerce and Digital Transformation for Your Business

Now, looking at the clock on the wall, we are out of time for this week. And before I tell you all the things you need to know about how you can find Thinks Out Loud and subscribe to Thinks Out Loud and all the stuff we talk about week after week, I do want to let you know that I won't have an episode for you next week. It is the July 4th holiday weekend here in America on next Friday. It's a short week. I suspect lots of folks in lots of places will not be listening to podcasts much. So we're going to go on sabbatical for a week. I will be back the first full week in July.

But with that, I do want to remind you that you can find the show notes for today's episode and as well as an archive of all our past episodes by going to TimPeter.com/podcast. Again, that's TimPeter.com/podcast. Just look for episode 293. While you're there, you can click on the subscribe link in any of the episodes you find there to have Thinks Out Loud delivered to your favorite podcatcher every single week. You can also find Thinks Out Loud on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, Overcast, again, whatever your favorite pod catcher happens to be, you should be able to find us there. Just do a search for Tim Peter Thinks, Tim Peter Thinks Out Loud, or Thinks Out Loud. We should show up for any of those.

I would also really appreciate it while you're there if you could provide us a positive rating or review. It helps new listeners find us, helps them understand what the show is all about and makes a huge difference to the podcast overall.

You can find Thinks Out Loud on Facebook by going to facebook.com/TimPeterAssociates. You can find me on Twitter using the Twitter handle @tcpeter. And of course you can email me by sending an email to podcast@timpeter.com. Again, that's podcast@timpeter.com.

As ever, I'd like to thank our sponsor. Thinks Out Loud is brought to you by SoloSegment, SoloSegment increases large enterprise B2B website conversion with easy to install software as a service that automatically connects website visitors to the content they need to achieve their goals. So those segment does this using anonymous data and machine learning to ensure privacy compliance, address the needs of your anonymous visitors and improve the efficiency of your marketing team. You can learn more by going to SoloSegment.com. Again, that is SoloSegment.com.

With that I want to say, thanks so much for tuning in. I really appreciate you listening. I know I say this a lot, but I would not do this show if you weren't listening. I enjoy getting a chance to speak with you every week. And I really appreciate that you take the time to listen.

So with that said, I hope you have a wonderful rest of the week. I hope you have a great weekend and I'm looking forward to speaking with here on Thinks Out Loud next time. Until then, please, especially in these trying times, be well, be safe and as ever, take care everybody.